27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMulIin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present from 231 citizens of Australia the following petition:
To the 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;
That 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.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s austerity campaign. 1 ask the Minister what the Prime Minister is doing to put his own house in order. I am referring to Australia House in London, which comes within the Prime Minister’s Department, ls it correct that the cost of representation there in the last financial year was more than $5m and that the grossly inflated staff figure there is almost 1,000 - actually 974 - compared with a total staff of less than 2,000- actually 1.933- employed in all the other 65 missions that we have around the world? ls it also true that the amount spent there on salaries and allowances is almost one-third of the provision for the rest of Australia’s missions around the whole world? I ask the Minister plainly to tell us what is being done to economise on that establishment, especially in the light of the criticism by the relevant Senate estimates committee towards the end of last year of the matters to which I am referring.
The Leader of the Opposition has asked me, as the Prime Minister’s representative, what in fact is being done in, to use his words, the Government’s austerity campaign and has related his question to Australia House. All honourable senators and the nation are aware of the announcement made of a substantial cutback in Commonwealth governmental expenditures, the cuts totalling over $75m. All departments have had to rearrange their priorities in order to achieve that cutback. The Prime Minister’s Department, like every other department, would be involved in an examination of its expenditures. However, I do not know the precise nature of the reduced expenditures planned by the Prime Minister’s Department. As to Australia House I well recall - indeed I do - that during a sitting of Estimates Committee A Senator Murphy, as Deputy Chairman and a member of that Committee, asked a series of questions about that establishment.
– I think other members of the Committee, supporters of the Government, also asked some questions about Australia House.
– That is right. A series of answers was gi’-.i. 1 am relying on my memory when J say that I believe some further answers have subsequently been given. T do not challenge the figures cited by Senator Murphy. No doubt the members of his staff have done their homework. However, I would issue a challenge on the ground that in using those figures it is possible that no proper appreciation has been taken of the fact that a number of departments are nominally included in Australia House; for instance, the Department of Supply and the Department of Immigration, plus a host of others. The proper thing to do is to obtain a comprehensive answer from the Prime Minister’s Department to the question as it has been posed.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to the salary increases of Brisbane city councillors of up to 71 per cent, and estimated to cost about $104,000 a year? Will this action add to Australia’s inflation problems and help to nullify the Commonwealth Government’s programme to combat inflation? (Opposition senators interjecting) -
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONJ am gelling a lot of advice from the Opposition. I must admit, and J suppose that confession is good for the soul, that I am aware of the salary increases only to the extent of a Press report, which I read with raised eyebrows. 1 am not too sure about the national aspects of the increases, but I believe that the local ratepayers and electors of the City of Brisbane would have some concern about them. I have no doubt that they will be able to judge whether their chosen representatives are doing the right thing. Salary increases of about 71 per cent seem astronomical. Be that as it may, the second part of the question is more difficult to answer. The honourable senator asked about the effect the increases will have on our problems associated with inflation. Problems always arise when salary increases are not related to productivity. I wonder what form the additional productivity takes in this case.
– In directing my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral I refer to page 154 of the Seventieth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board where it is stated that Mr H. E. Hendy is the owner of all the shares in 3 companies which hold substantial interests in 5 television stations. These interests had a market value as at 30th June last of $980,000 and included 22,000 shares in CTC Canberra, 101,150 shares in NBN Newcastle. 131,800 shares in WIN Wollongong, 54,700 shares in AMV Albury and 309,000 shares in QTQ
Brisbane, ls the Minister aware that the total paid up capital of the 3 companies owning those shares is St 4? Does the Minister know the source of the funds which the 3 companies used to purchase shares worth almost Sim and lo purchase, in addition to these television shares, freehold property at 16-18 Hunter Street, Sydney which has a Valuer-General’s value of $270,000? ls the Minister aware that the executors of the estate of Mr Hendy who died in August last year have now been advised by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd that that company holds an option to purchase the capital of the 3 companies at par - that is, for $14 - notwithstanding that the companies own assets worth at least Slim? In view of the option said to be held by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd will the Minister ascertain whether that company is in breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act and, if it is not, will he advise whether he proposes amendments to the Act to prevent a continuation of the position in which beneficial ownership of shares worth over Sim in the various television companies will pass to John Fairfax and Sons Ltd or their nominees on a payment of the nominal sum of SI 4?
– 1 am not personally aware of the points the honourable senator has raised in his question. I shall place them before the Postmaster-General and see what reply I can obtain for the honourable senator.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware of considerable dissatisfaction over the operation of the emergency relief grant for woolgrowers in that many woolgrowers who attempted to maintain their incomes by increasing production either through further development or increased stocking have not benefited by the schema while their general financial position has worsened through increased indebtedness. Because only S13.9m - that is the last figure I saw - of the $30m made available has been expended will the Minister consult with his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether assistance can be granted to these people?
– I know of this situation because I have had a number of letters from woolgrowers in Western Australia. They have applied for this emergency grant and because of certain circumstances they have found that they have been ineligible for it. The grant was made in the first instance because of the drought conditions prevailing at the time and because of the substantial fall in wool prices which was up to 16 per cent and 17 per cent, and even higher in odd instances. The Government tried to get money out to these people because of this situation. In the first place applications were slow in coming in, but the former Minister for Primary Industry extended the period for the applications and then they came in with a rush. They are being processed now. lt is envisaged that when all applications are processed about §25m will be paid out. The sum of $30m made available was always recognised as the upper limit. I shall take up with the Minister the matter the honourable senator has put before me and obtain some information lor him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that Tasmania is the only State to be excluded from the Royal Australian Air Force air power demonstrations in March and April? Is it not a fact that previous RAAF demonstrations have included aircraft of all descriptions, including Hercules and Mirages? Assuming that similar facilities are still available and that the Government regards Tasmania as part of the Commonwealth, will the Minister issue a direction to those responsible that the display is to be held in. Tasmania also?
– This year being the jubilee of the Royal Australian Air Force it was decided that something special should be done to commemorate the occasion. After a good deal of study it was decided to hold flying displays throughout most of Australia. On 17th January I made a statement to the effect that there would be flying displays at certain RAAF bases. There will be displays in all States except Tasmania. I think there will be 2 displays in Queensland and Victoria - a major display at one base and a smaller one at another base. All displays will be conducted from RAAF bases as this is the most economical method of conducting them. The Government was concerned about the. resources required for the displays and the flying involved. We must be sure that the displays do not interfere in any way with the Vietnam effort conducted from Richmond. All in all the position was examined most carefully. 1 decided that the flying displays would be conducted out of the RAAF bases in each State and because of that decision Tasmania will be excluded. That is all I can say.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government v/ho represents the Prime Minister in this chamber. What is the difference between the price per barrel of crude- oil now imported into Australia and the price per barrel fixed for oil from Bass Strait and other indigenous areas? What is the annual saving to Australia as a result of this difference? What would bc the increase in the price of petrol if indigenous oil were now sold at the same price as imported oil?
Obviously I could not provide information of that nature at question time. I suggest that the question go on notice. As always I will attempt to get a prompt answer for the honourable senator, lt seems to- me that that information should be available and I will get it as quickly as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Has Australia permitted its overseas shipping venture to be so tied in with the Conference arrangement as to have serious limitations applied to its freedom and profitability? Why was this permitted? Was the Australian National Line recently required to pay over a substantial part of its profitability in order to meet obligations under the partnership contract with its associates whose performance it apparently has exceeded? Will the Government take immediate action to free the venture from the limitations currently placed on it so that the Line may fulfil the purpose for which it was established; namely, to serve the best interests of this country in the fields of trade and commerce and to act as a brake upon the rapacity of outside shipping organisations whose frequent freight increases, without reference to any established authority acting in Australia’s interest, have shocked and disillusioned responsible bodies and persons in this country?
– The question contained a number of comments on policy to which I listened very carefully. I think it would be unfair to the honourable senator and to the responsible Minister for me to attempt to answer the question from the limits of my knowledge. I think there would be proper and effective answers to some of the points raised by the honourable Senator. I will treat this as a responsible question asked in the public interest and will try to get a reply for him from the responsible Minister as fast as I can.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry indicate how many applications for increased tariff protection have been received since 1st January last? If there is a number of such applications, can most of them be attributable to the arbitration decision in the national wage case handed down last December?
I understand that 2 completed applications for increased tariff protection have been received since 1st January. In neither case Was the application attributable to the arbitration decision in the national wage case handed down last December. An understanding of the procedure for application would readily bring out the point in terms of time. The answer is: Two and they were not attributable to the December increase.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Government considered any provision for the future employment of farmers and their families who, under Government plans for reorganisation of primary industry, may be removed from the land? Will the Government set up an organisation to consider the implications of this problem, including vocational training, housing and the establishment of decentralised industries to provide employment in country towns? Does the Government realise that now is the time to plan to assist those who may be dispossessed in the near future?
– I think the honourable senator is well aware that a tentative allocation of $ 1 00m has been made to the States, lt has been agreed to, subject to annual review. All States, except Victoria, have accepted the proposition. The basis on which the acceptance has been made is that S75m shall be a loan and the S25m shall be a grant. State instrumentalities will administer the scheme. 1 think that in New South Wales the Rural Reconstruction Board and the Closer Settlement Advisory Board will administer the scheme. I understand that in Queensland a new Rural Reconstruction Board is to be set up. In other States the instrumentalities to be set up have to be agreed to as yet. The Commonwealth Government does not envisage setting up an instrumentality. In my home State, Western Australia, the present State Government- has set up a committee of State officers’ to investigate the conditions prevailing in that State and to see in what way the % 1 4.8m, which the State is to receive, will -be- distributed. The type of board that is’ set Up in Western Australia will depend on- the report of the committee. I believe that at the time of the meeting with the State Ministers, the Commonwealth envisaged that a person, who applied to a reconstruction board, was refused on the condition that his proposition would not be a -viable one and had to leave his farm, would be given training for a certain occupation that he may desire to follow. 1 think it is envisaged that some assistance should be given to him to house himself and his family, but this will be decided by the various State organisations set up to administer the scheme in the Slates.
– My. question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a Press statement which appears on the front page of today’s issue of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and which quotes a ‘confidential report’ on abuses of the use of Commonwealth cars in Canberra? If so. can the Minister verify that this report exists, and advise the Senate how this ‘confidential’ report found its way to the ‘Daily Telegraph’? If this report is now in the hands of at least one newspaper, will the Minister table the report in this chamber so that all members of the Senate can be as well advised as the newspaper?
– Like many other people, 1 would like to know how reports which are confidential find their way into newspapers. It is a mystery to me at the moment, and 1 imagine it will always be a mystery to me.
– They also get ALP Caucus reports.
– I do nol get the Caucus reports. I would like to have them if anybody would like to give them to me. The “Daily Telegraph’ this morning did have a front page story about abuses in the use of Commonwealth cars, so it was said, in the Australian Capital Territory. If 1 remember correctly, it was stated that this occurred principally in the lower grades of employment in the Public Service, lt mentioned typists and other people. That is as much as 1 can remember of the report, having read it quite briefly. I do not know whether any such report exists, but I shall certainly ask the. Minister whether the report exists or whether the item is a piece of imagination, ff a report exists, I shall inquire whether it is proposed to make it public in any way. I cannot go beyond that, except to assure honourable senators that, like Senator Poyser. I am concerned to see that everything is done to overcome any inefficiency or extravagance in the use of public transport.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, ls it a fact that last weekend the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘Four Corners’ carried a 20-minute segment which was virtually a free advertisement for a retail store in Melbourne which is quaintly titled Bourkes-ACTU? I do not cavil at competition, but does the Minister know whether this generous coverage was due to the claim of Bourkes-ACTU that it would supply retail goods more cheaply than any other store or was it merely designed to turn Mr Hawke and his fellow Socialists into little capitalists? If the former supposition is correct, in view of the fact that yesterday a large Bourke Street emporium, which shall be nameless, published an advertisement in respect of prices similar to the claim of Bourkes-ACTU, can we assume that this emporium, the name of which is ascertainable, will likewise be given 20 minutes free advertising on the ABC?
– I did see part of the programme to which the honourable senator refers. Part of his question has been asked in humorous vein and with goodwill, but I will certainly pass it on to the PostmasterGeneral.
– Has the Minister for Supply any misgivings concerning the future of the joint British-Australian Woomera rocket range following the financial collapse of Rolls-Royce Ltd? Is this financial collapse likely to affect the future of the Woomera rocket range?
The short answer to the honourable senator’s question is no, I have no misgivings. I made a statement yesterday about the Woomera rocket range. 1 think that towards the end of that statement I pointed out that I had had discussions whilst in London with the Minister for Supply and Technology in the Heath Government in relation to a further renewal of the United Kingdom-Australia agreement for the rocket range. I have every confidence in the future of the range. In relation to the Rolls-Royce situation, there are some elements in the pipeline which will have to be worked out in terms of where it will all finish. It is too early to know that, but the Rolls-Royce situation does not in any way challenge the validity, the efficacy or the value of the range, or indeed the vast contracts that we have for various engines and so on.
– Can the Minister for Works tell the Senate what progress has been made with the construction of the cableway to the summit of Mount Bellenden Ker in the Cairns district of Queensland, and with the erection of the far northern television transmitter on that site? When is the station likely to begin transmission?
– The honourable senator will recall perhaps that J made a statement relating to the commencement of this contract in April last. Considerable progress has been made with the construction of the cableway, and although some delays have occurred due to very heavy weather conditions on Mount Bellenden Ker preventing use of the helicopters and limiting the time when men have been available to work on the mountain we expect to have the cable completed by December 1971 unless, of course, we encounter exceptional weather conditions in the meantime. Foundations have been poured for the station at the top of the mountain, and the site for the cable track up the mountain has been cleared in all critical areas. Foundation work for several of the towers is under way. and the foundations and framework for the bottom station have been substantially completed. The hauling equipment, passenger cars and cable and other associated gear are under manufacture or in process of delivery from Europe and the United States of America. It is hoped that the Postmaster-General’s Department can be given some limited access to the top station before the completion of the cableway in December 1971, and I am informed by my colleague the Postmaster-General that on that basis transmission can be expected to commence about the middle of 1972.
I should like the Senate to know that this is an exceedingly difficult project in a very mountainous cloud-covered area which has one of the highest rainfall recordings in Australia, namely, approximately 150 inches a year. The cableway is a little over 3 miles long, rises approximately 1 mile in height and at one point will be 750 feet above the ground.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware of the extreme resentment felt by Service personnel at the cancellation of inter-Service sports events on the grounds of budgetary economy? Is he also aware that apart from the cost of transport of sports squads between the various Service stations, all other costs are derived from canteen profits which in effect are the earnings of Service personnel? Will he, in the interests of Service morale, evolve a more equitable form of economy which will leave sport meetings on their former basis?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI have made some inquiries on this matter and have been given a fairly long brief but [ think the substance of the reply that I should give to the honourable senator is that I do not have at this point full particulars regarding the cancellation of the sporting events, but 1 am informed by the Services that the measures’; mentioned were taken by them with due ‘regard to the Government’s call for increased productivity and economy where possible. I have seen no reports which would indicate extreme resentment by members of the Services as suggested by the honourable senator although, having in mind the’ interest that the Services have in sports, no doubt there could be some real disappointment. At the same time, however, I am sure the Services would be the first to recognise the importance of effecting economies; wherever possible in today’s economic, circumstances.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been directed to a report that a collection organised by various community service organisations in Launceston last weekend resulted in over 1000 lb of unwanted medical drugs being collected from homes in that area and that the drugs were subsequently buried? Since the advantages of this type of activity are so obvious, will the Minister suggest to the Minister for Health that he take steps to encourage similar unwanted’ medical drug collection drives in various parts of Australia with the object of collecting up from all the homes the maximum amount of unwanted drugs which at present are lying about in various places io those homes?
– f had not seen the account of this drive which was carried out in Launceston and to which the honourable senator has referred. From his comments, it sounds as though it was singularly successful. I shall put his point of view before the Minister for Health to see whether, as the honourable senator suggests, such a drive can be considered elsewhere.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and it relates to the statements by the Prime Minister and other Ministers including himself about the inflationary trends in the economy in which very strong criticism of wage increases was made. I ask the Minister whether the Government is concerned about the possible increases again occurring during this year in the price of steel produced by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, in the light of the enormous profit which this company will make this financial year, following the handsome profit that it made last year. Has the Government thought at any time of intervening in such a situation in a manner similar to that already announced by the Prime Minister in relation to possible wage increases and medical fee increases?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am being invited to express a view or to make a response to a question asked by Senator Bishop that relates to policy. I certainly cannot answer that question. I rather suspect - and I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong in it - that the question is prompted by what we have read in the Press about a statement made by the Chairman of the BHP company in relation to profits for a 6 months’ period. I do not think that I can answer that question at question time because the honourable senator asks me whether the Government will intercede, and so on. But I did read in the statement made by the Chairman of that company that a very serious and genuine effort was being made to hold prices down. I think that one has to read that in relation to the profit that was referred to.
– If the Minister believes that, he will begin to believe in Santa Claus.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am a bit old in the tooth to think about Santa Claus now, senator. Perhaps the best way to deal with the question is to ask the honourable senator to put it on the notice paper.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask the Minister whether he has seen the report that a United Nations conference has reached agreement on a new wheat trade convention but that the convention does not cover prices. Can the Minister say what effect this will have on Australia’s wheat selling capacity, particularly in view of competition from countries such as Canada and the United States of America? Further, will this mean that countries within the European Economic Community will be able to sell or to dump their heavily subsidised surplus production on overseas markets?
– The Department of Trade and Industry has supplied me with some information. Negotiations have just been completed for a new international wheat agreement to come into effect on 1st July 1971. The agreement comprises a wheat trade convention and a food aid convention. Apparently, it was not possible to reach acceptable arrangements on price levels in the wheat trade convention. Nevertheless, provision is contained in the new agreement for continuous reviews of price and market trends as the International Wheat Council has been maintained as an effective forum for co-operation and consultation between exporters and importers.
With respect to prices, it will be appreciated that the pricing provisions of the International Grains Arrangement have not been operative for some time. Yet world prices are currently around the minimum level specified in that agreement, and Australia’s wheat exports last year were at near record level. There was widespread support at the conference for international orderly marketing of wheat by all wheat exporters including the United States of America, Canada and the European Economic Community. The new agreement also leaves open the possibility of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics joining that agreement. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is an important wheat country which was not in the International Grains Arrangement. Finally, it is reasonable to believe that with continuing consultation and co-operation it is unlikely that a responsible member of the Agreement will dump in overseas markets.
– My question which is addressed to the Leader of the Government is further to the question asked earlier by Senator McManus regarding assistance for farmers who are forced to leave their farms. Will the Government give urgent serious consideration to examining and then instituting a policy of reverse income tax to enable many of these farmers to stay on their farms while being retrained or disposing of their properties?
The previous question was addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, but this question relates to reverse income tax. I recall well that the honourable senator raised this matter either during the debate on the Estimates or by way of question and I promised to have the matter referred to the Treasury for comment. I believe that was done, but I do not have an answer back from the Treasury. This is a question in which I must confess I was interested personally. 1 shall follow up the original question and today’s question and see whether 1 can get a comment from the Treasury on the matter.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the Government says that it will cut governmental spending to reduce inflationary pressures caused by the Government’s Budget last August, will it now consider the enormous savings to be made by immediately bringing back all our troops from Vietnam, thus cutting heavily into the $400m a year which it is costing us to have Australia involved in this futile adventure? Will it consider launching an immediate inquiry into the huge savings to be made by drastically curtailing the immigration programme which was recently estimated to be costing us about S 1,400m a year? Will it consider abandoning the Jervis Bay nuclear power station project at a saving of over $100m? Will it consider also immediately cancelling the Fill contract and the alternative deal to lease
Phantom fighters, thus saving several hundred million dollars on obsolescent military hardware?
– The honourable senator has given us nice easy solutions which can be counted on 4 fingers and which he suggests will solve our problems. His suggestions were a withdrawal of the troops now in Vietnam, a drastic reduction of our immigration programme, the abandonment’ of the nuclear power station which is being constructed at Jervis Bay for peaceful purposes and the cancelling of the contract for the Fill aircraft. If the honourable senator can solve the world’s problems with such simplicity, I do not think an answer from me would rate very high.
– ls the Leader of the Government aware, that the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is considering, a national 24-hour strike to bring to the Government’s attention the plight and difficulties of pensioners? As about 1 million people in Australia are dependent upon pensions and the majority of them live in. ne.ar poverty, will the Minister bring to the.. attention of the Government the harsh effects that inflation with increased living costs, is having upon those in need? Will he request the Government to raise pensions . now and thereby avert industrial action by the trade union movement? Such action; would have the support of every fair minded person in Australia.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI do not want to misjudge the honourable senator, but I thought I heard him say that the Australian Council of . Trade Unions was considering a 24-hour, strike. If that is what he said I am amazed.. Being a simple soul I always thought, that, the function of the ACTU was to act in. the best interests of the trade union movement, and to try to find solutions to problems. I am amazed that somebody should suggest that the solution of the ACTU for the problem is to advocate a strike in the economic conditions that we are in today.
– My question is directed to the Leader of. the Government in the Senate as Minister representing the
Treasurer and Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the Government’s stated policy of cooling down the overheated economy, can he inform the Parliament whether the Government has any plans to declare hire purchase companies hanking institutions? Alternatively, will the Government assist in reducing inflation by taking action to compel hire purchase companies to reduce interest rates?
Clearly questions relating to matters of policy are being asked of me. The honourable senator may put the question on the notice paper if he likes. I certainly cannot answer it here at the moment.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question concerning further irregularities in the operations of Jetair Australia Ltd. Did this company operate regular scheduled passenger and freight services in accordance with a published timetable? Was this company the holder of an airline- licence issued by the Director-General of Civil Aviation? If so. why were the pilots who were employed by the company not in possession of an airline transport pilot’s licence but instead flew aircraft with a licence of a lower status? If the company did not hold an airline licence, did it hold a charter licence? If so. how was it able to operate scheduled passenger and freight services when a term of such a licence prohibits the connecting of any 2 traffic points in a network in excess of 2 services in any one month?
– Some of the comments made by Senator Georges would, in my judgment, he unfounded and inaccurate. I do not care to have the Department of Civil Aviation, which has a very fine record in the public interest, assumed to have behaved wrongly in any way. So, what I will do in this instance is to obtain for the honourable senator a very carefully considered answer. If he refers to the Hansards for earlier this session. I think he will find comments by me on this matter which ought to have satisfied him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Are there any means of ascertaining the volume of interstate traffic in wheat outside the provisions of the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act? Can the Minister see a threat to the orderly marketing of wheat in Australia arising from this very undesirable practice? What action is being taken or contemplated to eradicate it?
– The quota of home consumption wheat is generally fixed at around 60 million bushels per wheat year. 1 notice that last year the quota of home consumption wheat was in the vicinity of 58 million bushels. In other words, it was not very much lower than the recognised quota for previous years. However. I understand from reports of meetings of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation that some members believe that there is considerable trafficking in wheat between Slates. How one would arrive at an estimate of the quantity involved. I would not know. But I will bring the honourable senator’s question to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry and see what information I can obtain for him.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral been drawn to the article by Geoffrey Chandler in the ‘Daily Mirror’ of yesterday’s date to the effect that Dr Bogle’s death was a matter for discussion by Federal Cabinet in March 1963 before the inquest into that death was held? Did Cabinet hold such a discussion? Did the Federal Attorney-General and several leading members of the Cabinet, together with a leading member of the judiciary, further discuss this matter later in that year 1963? Was a direction given by the Federal Government to all State police forces that the interests of national security could best be served by the police not discovering who was responsible for Dr Bogle’s death?
– 1 have not seen the fantastic article to which the honourable senator has referred. I ask him to place his question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been drawn to an article in a daily newspaper which, in referring to the new policies of the Australian Labor Party for rural industries, suggests that ‘Labor has in mind the efficient allocation of resources within the rural sector by a plethora of controls, incentives and regulations.’ Will the Minister advise the Senate whether the unrestricted use of controls and regulation for all Australian industries is classic Socialist philosophy?
– I read the article referred to by the honourable senator. Having read it, my mind was taken back to 1947 when the Government of the day thought it knew what was best for the wheat industry. Being a wheat grower myself. I was vitally interested.
– A bankrupt wheat grower.
– Yes. 1 was made bankrupt by the Labor Government of the day because wheat growers lost tens of thousands of dollars through a transaction between the Australian Labor Government and the New Zealand Government of that time.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister in order in stating as fact what he knows to be untrue? The story of the 1946 wheat episode is not as he describes it, and he knows that it is not.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The Minister is replying to a question and he is responsible for his reply. The point of order is not upheld.
– I am stating a fact. I was a wheat grower at the time and I know that I and others like me lost as much as 10s a bushel on a large tonnage of wheat sold to New Zealand at the time. We in this Government do not hold ourselves out as the experts that Ministers in previous governments have pretended to be. We believe that the Government at all times should consult with the industries concerned to determine what their problems are. With the assistance of the Department of Primary Industry, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and other organisations set up by the Government we seek to iron out their problems. That is the way this Government operates. The doors of the various Ministers are always open for primary producers to talk to them and advise them of their problems.
This is a vastly different picture from that represented in the newspaper article referred to by Senator Webster.
– 1 ask the Minister for Air: ls it a fact that the Royal Australian Air Force concert band under the conductorship of Squadron Leader Mitchell will fly to Malaysia on 28th February to give a concert and will return almost immediately after the performance? In view of the economy campaign now in operation, can the Minister indicate how much the trip will cost and whether it is really necessary?
– Hardly a day goes by without a request being received from a local authority, an organisation like the Apex Club or an agricultural society for the services of the RAAF band. Quite often such requests are brought to me through a member of Parliament. I understand that the requests are received in such numbers because of the performances of the band and the reputation it has built up over the years. In the instance of which the honourable senator speaks, a request came from the RAAF Base at Butterworth because a presentation was to be held of the Queen’s Standard to No. 25 Squadron on that base, lt was thought that the band should be there for the occasion. In view of the heavy commitments which lie ahead of the band over the next month or two because of the Royal Australian Air Force jubilee celebrations I said that the request was not to be agreed to. The band will not be going to Malaysia.
– Does the Minister representing the Treasurer know that certain banks which have granted overdrafts to their customers are now using forceful and threatening measures to have such overdrafts reduced within a very short time? Does the Minister not consider that such drastic actions are likely to create panic in the business and rural community and are not in accordance with what should be expected from a banking system which has a monopoly in this country?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. I would think that the relationship between a client and a bank in relation to that client’s overdraft would be something which is singularly between the bank and the client. The honourable senator’s question rather implies that there is an all over pattern of this type of action going on. To that extent I shall refer the question to the Treasurer and obtain a response.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the request which 1 made to him last Thursday about the tabling of the documents on Jetair Australia Ltd and the making of a statement setting out what had happened in connection with the transactions with Jetair Australia Ltd. I think the Minister indicated that before Tuesday - that is, before yesterday - he would collaborate with the Department of Foreign Affairs to obtain a complete chronological statement setting out what had happened. Could the Leader of the Government advise honourable senators whether he is able to table the documents and present the statement to the Senate?
J made no commitment to table the documents but I said that 1 saw no reason why J should not make a statement. I inquired about the position again today. Tomorrow I shall be in a position to make a statement on the situation. This afternoon 1 happened to listen to question time in another place and T heard the Minister for Foreign Affairs announce in response to a question that the purchase price of the 6 aircraft from Jetair was S275.000. I hope that tomorrow .1 will be in a position to make the statement I promised to make.
– Will the Minister table the documents?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI have made no commitment to table documents. T said that [ did not see any logic in that. I shall certainly make a statement. I will be happy if the honourable senator takes it up from there if he wants to.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate whether the Government has any intention of implementing the decision of the Senate which called for a substantial increase in pensions, which have been severely eroded as a result of the economic position in which Australia finds itself today?
– As J understand it a statement has been made by the responsible Minister that at this time there is no proposal to have any supplementary provisions made in relation to the matter which the honourable senator has raised. 1 shall refer the question to the Treasurer.
– My question is addressed to you. Mr Deputy President. Is it in order for honourable senators to mis-state the decision of the Senate, as has been done on 2 successive days? I refer you to the statement contained in the question asked by Senator Milliner, which was also contained in a question asked, I think, by Senator Fitzgerald, yesterday, to the effect that the Senate had called for an increase in pensions when in fact no such decision has been made by the Senate. The only occasion on which this matter was discussed was during the debate on an urgency motion when the issue before the Senate was whether the Senate should adjourn to a particular date. I ask: Is there any redress which honourable senators have in order to prevent inaccurate statements being made repetitiously in this chamber?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - 1 cannot adjudicate on the accuracy of such statements. It is the responsibility of the Minister to whom the question is directed to answer as he thinks fit.
– My question, addressed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, refers to tourist traffic on the Eyre Highway. .Does the Minister recall my putting a request to him some time ago - it emanated from some tourist associations - for a survey to be made of traffic on the Eyre Highway in order to ascertain Che use made of this road by vehicles other than South Australian vehicles? The Minister promised to consider such a survey. I now ask him: Has he been able to give consideration to the proposition which would identify the origin of vehicles using the highway?
– I remember reference being, made to this subject. I said that since the Brand Government in Western Australia had built up the highway to the Western Australian border with South Australia there had been a great increase in motor traffic on it. 1 have no recollection of undertaking to have a survey made but I will consult (he file and give the honourable senator (he information at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will he state explicitly the Australian Government’s attitude towards the British Government’s decision to sell helicopters to South Africa? Does the Government agree with this move to give military support to racialist South Africa, a decision which flouts the United Nations Security Council embargo on arms sales to the Vorster regime which is supporting Rhodesia, which is defying the British Government? If the Government disagrees with the spirit and intention of the British decision, will it support the United States of America, Canada, Malaysia and the African Commonwealth nations in any diplomatic action to prevent the arms sale?
The views of the Government have been expressed before. In the circumstances I think the question should go on notice.
– 1 direct another question to (he Minister for Civil Aviation. How did he infer from my previous question that 1 was critical of the Department of Civil Aviation? I assure him that the criticism is directed against those members of the Liberal Party who are friends of Jetair Australia Ltd and are responsible for the preferential treatment given to it. 1 ask the Minister to stop slipping around questions about Jetair Australia Ltd and to expedite the answers.
– I regard that as an offensive question.
– You gave me an offensive answer.
– I did not. I construed from the honourable senator’s remarks that he was making a half accusation and I am delighted to hear that he was not. I am pleased also to learn that he shares my high opinion of the Department of Civil Aviation. That gives me great pleasure. The balance of his question was completely foreign to me and eludes me. However, if after reading any of the matter that he has addressed to rue today or in the past I detect any need for further information to be supplied he certainly will get it quickly. If Senator Georges will bear with me a little he will find, by reference (o Hansard, that I have endeavoured to answer properly, quickly and effectively any questions addressed to me on this subject. I have perused Hansard to ensure that I have, and I believe that I have.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Will the Government consider deleting or abolishing the term ‘age pension’, formerly named for many years ‘old age pension’ - both names archaic and insulting to many - and using the term ‘senior citizen’s pension or ‘retired person’s allowance?
– 1 am well aware that the term ‘old age pension’ was changed to ‘age pension’ because it was thought that the former term was offensive. I have noted with interest the point that Senator Fitzgerald raised. I will be very pleased to place it before the Minister for Social Services.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Prime Minister. As the unsolved death of Dr Bogie has been the subject of public allegations that foreign agents are operating in Australia, and are engaged in sabotage and murder, does the Minister not consider that the allegations call for an immediate statement by the Government? Believing that this subject justifies a full discussion in the Senate - and I intend to introduce such a discussion during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate tomorrow evening - I ask: Will the Minister, and other Ministers to whom questions are directed, for the purpose of assisting this discussion seek to reply to some of the 10 questions about this matter which are on the notice paper - No. 848 to No. 857 - and to the question that
I placed on the notice paper today, for the purpose of facilitating discussion of this matter?
– - I ask the honourable senator to put that question on notice also so that I can look at the questions in their complete context.
(Question No. 802)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 803)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
Do the figures set out in Table 2 on page 69 of the Repatriation Department’s Annual Report for 1969-70 indicate the total number of cases determined by Repatriation Boards less those determined by the Commission in the various States; if not, what were the figures set out by the various State Offices from which the annual report figures were compiled.
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No, the table concerned(Table 1 1) includes details of entitlement claims determined by the Repatriation Boards and a small number determined by the Repatriation Commission. The figures requested in respect of such claims determined by the Boards during 1969-70 are:
(Question No. 804)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 720)
When will the unsightly barracks erected as a temporary need in 1942 in Albert Park, Melbourne, be removed.
Will the Minister consider their demolition in order to free parklands forthe original purpose of use by Melbourne citizens.
Will the Minister inform the Senate of any impediment lo this desirable end not readily discernible.
The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is noi possible at this time to give a firm dale for the total evacuation of Albert Park Barracks, Melbourne.
and (3) ti is firm policy to vacate the Albert Park Barracks area as soon as possible: the original Barracks area approximated 50 acres and this has been reduced to approximately 21 acres. Plans have been prepared for the redevelopment of Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, including the erection of high rise buildings to provide office accommodation for staff including those al Albert Park Barracks. In addition, approval has been given for the transfer lo Canberra of a number of the personnel presently located at Albert Park Barracks. However, a number of factors, particularly the progression of the building programme at Victoria Barracks, will have a bearing on the date upon which the Albert Park area can be finally vacated.
– Yesterday Senator Devitt asked for information concerning a booklet which was to be published in regard to abattoirs and the requirements for meat inspection. I promised to obtain information for him. A publication of .118 pages entitled ‘Manual of Instruction for Meal Inspection and Meat Handling’ has been printed and was distributed at about the end of November last year.
– Yesterday I was asked a question by Senator Mulvihill regarding representations by union officials to the Government in regard to the uniform interpretation and application of regulations and instructions concerning meat inspections, and I said that 1 would obtain some information for him. I have been supplied with the following information: The Department of Primary Industry appreciates the problems associated with the uniform interpretation and application of regulations and instructions. Tn an endeavour to obtain more uniformity, the Department has issued a manual of meat inspection procedures. This has been made available to meatworks managements and to meat inspectors. In addition, staff training, including training at supervisory levels, has been intensified as a further means of ensuring that uniformity is maintained. No change has been made in the decisions conveyed in writing to the Meat Employees Union concerning trade union representation on the Australian Meat Board and the Meat Industry Advisory Committee.
– I present the following paper:
Statement for the year 1969-70 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of Audit Act 1901-1969 (Advance to the Treasurer).
That consideration of the statement in Committee of the whole be made an order of the day for the next day of silting.
– by leave - Honourable senators will be aware that the drama involving a young Australian on Heard Island over the past week or so has ended happily. Last Wednesday 1 reported to the Senate that Mr Ian Holmes of Melbourne, an ANARE member of a French expedition to Heard Island, had broken a leg on the Gotley Glacier on Saturday, 13th February. He had to remain there while the nearest ship carrying helicopters, the Danish ship ‘Nella Dan’, which is under contract to the Australian Government, was able to reach Heard Island from the Australian base at Mawson in the Antarctic.
The rescue operation began at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday using 2 helicopters, one of which lowered Dr Grahame Budd, who had been with Mr Holmes when the accident occurred, onto the glacier. Mr Holmes was strapped in a stretcher and lifted to a landing site some 300 yards away and then transferred to the ship. A landing party from the ship was returned by the other helicopter. The whole operation took 1 hour and 20 minutes. Mr Holmes’ physical condition appeared excellent, in fact no worse than that of a man who had broken his leg in difficult surroundings, and his morale was very high. The ‘Nella Dan’ is now proceeding to Mawson, where she will unload equipment and supplies and pick up expeditioners for return to Melbourne. ] am quite sure that the course of action taken to rescue Mr Holmes was the only one possible in the circumstances. The whole exercise has emphasised that although the greatest care is taken in planning and preparing for our expeditions in the Antarctic, accidents sometimes do happen. I am pleased that this rescue operation went so smoothly and was carried out in the shortest possible time. Particularly I would like to point out how quickly and positively everyone concerned reacted in the situation. Signatory nations to the Antarctic treaty responded almost immediately to our initial inquiries concerning the whereabouts of other ships in the area. Unfortunately none was closer than the Nella Dan’. 1 am most grateful to Captain Neilsen of the ‘Nella Dan’ for the support of his officers and men throughout this episode.
Finally, I would like to praise the staff of the Antarctic Division for their skill and resourcefulness, and to thank the Bureau of Meteorology for its help during this emergency in the Antarctic.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That Government Business. Order of the Day No. 7. bc discharged from the. notice paper.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That notice of motion No. 1. Business of the Senate, relating to a reference to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare be postponed for 2 silting days.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(4.19)- I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to validate certain payments made to members of the three Services during the period 1st April 1961 to 4th February 1966. and to civilians employed under the Naval Defence Act during the period 1st April 1961 to 18th June 1969. This validation action is necessary because it has been established that there were certain formal defects in the financial instruction under which the payments were made. The period in respect of which this action is required commences on 1st April 1961 because all payments made prior to thai date were validated by the Defence Pay Act 1961.
The financial regulations of all the Services empower the Minister of the Service Board to make determinations authorising the payment of certain allowances, etc.. to members of the forces. However, until the regulations of each Service were amended on 23rd September 1963. there was no power to authorise retrospective payments under such determinations.- it is therefore necessary to validate those payments authorised between 1st April 1961 and 23rd September 1963. which involved any kind of retrospective payments. Honourable senators will appreciate. I am sure, that it would be impossible without causing injustice to individual members to ensure that no retrospective payments were authorised under such determinations and, as I have already stated, the regulations have now been amended authorising the making of determinations involving retrospective payment limited to a period of 2 years.
Payments made to members of all Services in respect of which retrospectivity would be authorised ‘ include: Overseas outfit allowances; overseas allowances for short term duty; overseas transit allowances; overseas living out allowances; child allowances; school expenses; overseas rental allowances, and representation and entertainment allowances. Certain determinations made under Service (Financial regulations were defective for other reasons and the situation in this regard varies with each Service.
In the case of the . Department of the Army, the Financial (Military) Regulations were replaced on 15th March 1961 by a new set of regulations, the Military Financial Regulations. Unfortunately the new regulations did not contain a provision to enable payments to be continued to be made under the authority of determinations made under the repealed regulations. After the contention of the AuditorGeneral that, with the repeal of the old regulations, all determinations should be remade even if no changes were made had been upheld by the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of the Army completed the formidable task of revising and remaking determinations on 4th February 1966. The period during which there are payments which need validation as far as the Department of the Army is concerned is 1st April 1961 to 4th February 1966. Major items in respect of which payments were continued under determinations made under the old regulations include: Scale of clothing and necessaries, replacement of initial issues: scales of issue - rations, and scales of issues - fuel, light, stores.
With regard to the Department of the Navy it was found that certain determinations made by the Naval Board under the Naval Financial Regulations did not meet the formal requirements stated by the Attorney-General’s Department to be necessary because they had not been made formally by the Naval Board in session. The last of the formal determinations was made by the Naval ‘ Board on 12th September 1963. In the case of the Department of Air, all determinations tinder the Air Force Regulations were remade by the Air Board on 23rd September 1963 to remove any doubts regarding the validity of the determinations in force before that date. However, as I have stated earlier, there is a need to cover payments involving retrospectivity in respect of both the Department of the Navy and the Department of Air. The period during which there are payments which need to be validated is 1st April 1961 to 23rd September 1963 for both the Navy and the Air Force.
The payments made to members of the Navy or to members of the Air Force under defective determinations include payments in respect of: Good conduct badge pay; hard-lying money; rent for service residences: issue of uniform kit; mileage allowances; short term duty travelling allowance, and removal of furniture and effects. The Naval Defence Act authorised the employment of civilians and provided that the terms and conditions of employment shall be prescribed in the regulations. The Act was amended in 1968 to enable the Naval Board to determine the terms and conditions of employment of these employees, and the necessary determinations authorising payments to these employees were completed on 19th June 1969. As certain payments had been made which were not prescribed in the regulations, the opportunity has therefore been taken in this Bill to validate the payments made to the civilian employees during the period 1st April 1961 to 18th June 1969. All payments made since that date have been made in pursuance of determinations made by the Naval Board. The payments made to civil employees under the Naval Defence Act included payments for: Fares and allowances incurred in overseas visits; travelling allowances on temporary transfer; allowances paid to staff on trials of ship afloat; meal allowances, and special rates for disabilities, etc.
The total amounts involved have been estimated to be: Department of the Navy, $18,913,600; Department of the Army, 827,270,100; Department of Air, $4,800,000. The payments involved were made in good faith and were in accordance with approvals given by the Treasurer or other competent authority. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23 February (vide page 266), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
- Mr Deputy President, the debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1971 affords us an opportunity to discuss certain matters that are of interest to the nation in regard to broadcasting and television. lt is most remarkable that this Bill was first introduced some time in March 1970. The Bill was aired further during the Budget session, and now it is placed before the Senate for debate. One wonders why the intervening period was not used to hasten the passage of the Bill. That is the history of the Bill.
In leading for the Labor Party in this debate, Senator McClelland said that we did not oppose the Bill but that in the Committee stage he would move 2 amendments. One amendment would deal with the promise made by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), lt is most interesting to me that the Postmaster-General should make a promise that a Bill will take effect from a certain date. This has financial implications. I would be the last to say - and T mean this - that from my statement it can be inferred that 1 am suggesting anything improper on the part of the PostmasterGeneral. But, 1 am not so politically naive that 1 do not know that great political implications are involved in the fields of broadcasting and television. I would like to know - and I think that the Senate is entitled to receive an answer - why the Minister made the statement that the provisions of this Bill would operate retrospectively to 22nd October.
However, under the Bill now before us, the provisions which were to operate from 22nd October will operate now from 12th December. I ask: Were any transactions carried out between 24th October and 12th December? Has anyone escaped the net? The Postmaster-General can find the answers to those questions. We on this side of the Senate for quite a number of years have expressed our concern at the very many underhand methods that have been and are being used to contravene the Broadcasting and Television Act with respect to the number of broadcasting licences and television licences that can be held by one firm or by one person. Everyone knows that this Bill has been introduced for one reason, lt has been introduced to stop nefarious practices developed by * the most proper people. God forbid that anyone would hear me say that John Fairfax and Sons is not the elite of the proper.
– And Packer.
– Of course, Sir Frank Packer comes from the same line. The nefarious practices that have been used by these people to obtain additional licences or to exercise control over more licences than those people are entitled to under the Act have been such that one does not wonder that these practices have proved to be too much for those who sit on the side of the Chair opposite to us. If it were not for the support given by those people through the mass media - that is, the Press, television and radio - which they control, those sitting opposite us would not have been able to fool the people as long as they have fooled them at the time of certain elections.
I believe the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Postmaster-General here and who is in charge of this Bill, at least should spell out in unequivocal language why the statement made or the promise given by the Postmaster-General has not been carried out. I ask the Minister also whether she would inform me - no doubt other honourable senators would like to know too - whether any transactions, which could be classed as evasive moves to cover up what they had been trying to do, have been engaged in between 22nd October and 12th December by those persons who exercise control over broadcasting and television stations? ..
As I have said, Senator McClelland has foreshadowed 2 amendments which will be moved at the Committee stage. The Labor Party proposes by the second amendment that the right should be given at any time - instead of the period being restricted to 2 years - for a person who is convicted of not holding or renewing a broadcasting and television licence to move to have the conviction set aside. 1 remember speaking in support of this type of proposal some years ago. 1 do not support people who do not abide by the laws pf this country. I am not like the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who believes thai ‘ certain trade unions will pay money that they were fined prior to an amendment to’ ‘the Conciliation and Arbitration Act relating to the matter on which those unions were fined. Wilh some knowledge of the industrial life of this country, I think that it’ would be wise to forget that portion of the Act. If this was done, I believe that ‘we would see more harmony in industry than we see now.
I have been moved to participate in this debate following on -2 very interesting speeches that were made, last .night. T refer first to the speech made, by Senator Hannan. I regret that, following the period of his absence from the Senate for 3 years he has not returned with anY greater political sense.
– Do ‘you want the honourable senator here to listen to you?
– 1 told the honourable senator that it was going to happen. I never go behind a person’s back. Senator Hannan interested himself in a station of which I am chairman.
– A very profitable station, too.
– I admit that it is. With my colleagues. I run it well.
– By exploitation.
– There is no more exploitation there than there is in the honourable senator’s timberyard. Now, if the honourable senator wants to play it that way, we will play it both ways. I am chairman of the company that holds the licence to operate radio station 3K.Z. Senator Hannan said that the licence for that station was held by the Australian Labor Party. Again 1 must ask the honourable senator to keep to the facts. I thank God that the licence to operate that station, when granted in 1931, was not given to the Australian Labor Parly. If it had been, possibly the Labor Party would not have that licence today. Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party know what happened to certain things that belonged to the Australian Labor Party in 1955.
– They went to the proper Labor Party.
– Now. Vince, let us not get onto that subject. We do not want to have a quarrel again.
– What did the court say?
– If you want to revive this subject, I do not mind. You can make it as rough and as tough as you like. You will enjoy it and I will too. Senator Hannan was in error when he said that radio station 3KZ is owned by the Australian Labor Party. I say: Thank God that the Labor Party was not given the licence in 1931 because possibly we would have lost it in 1955 and that station certainly would have been ruined in recent years.
– Is not the honourable senator splitting hairs?
– No, 1 am not.
– You own it under an alias.
– No, we do not own it under any alias. Neither do you own your timberyard under any alias.
– I do not own a timberyard.
– The licence to operate radio station 3KZ was given to the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co. Ltd in 1931. The wise people who led the Australian Labor Party in those days decided that, to avoid the consequences of any changes that might take place in the Party, the licence should be sought by a company that at least would be’ able to operate it. So, the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co. Ltd owns the licence.
– Who owns the shares in that company?
– Does the honourable senator want to know?
– The Australian Labor Party owns 1.000 shares. The Trades Hall Council owns 1,000 shares. The union controlling the printing industry owns 1.000 shares. Other bodies hold varying parcels of shares. I and 2 other colleagues hold 1 0,000 shares in trust.
– Why does the honourable senator complain about the profit made by BHP when his radio station makes such an exorbitant profit?
– I am not complaining about anything. I am only answering the question that was put up by a person who has returned to the fold, that is. Senator Hannan. He said:
On monopolies and quasi monopolies, the Australian Labor Party is in no position to cast the first stone. Kinged around Australia is a series of powerful radio transmitters which continuously feed out the old, worn out discredited and useless shibboleths of Labor Socialist propaganda.
All I can suggest is that, after he heard them and learnt them at his father’s knee during his tender years, his father kept the faith but he did not. Anyway, the Labor Party does not own 3KZ. The honourable senator said a little later: . . the net profit to the Labor Party last year from the operations of 3KZ was $156,000.
His figures are wrong.
– What was the profit?
– 1 Shall tell the honourable senator that at some other time. The fact is that the figure was not as stated by the honourable senator.
– Was it more than that?
– 1 am a bit too old in the game to be drawn in by a remark like that. A little later, when referring to a property owned by the Industrial Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. he said that we charged $1,000 a year rent to Val Morgan and Sons Pty Ltd, a company which is the proprietor of 3KZ, the better broadcasting company. I should like to know where the figures cited by the honourable senator came from. They have never been published. Today I spent more than an hour trying to find these figures and so I say with great respect, and regret having to say it, that 1 would be a very bad judge if that information revealed bv the honourable senator in this place was not gained by him while he was a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– That is untrue.
– lt is all right for the honourable senator to say that.
– That is a lie.
– I have been to the Library and endeavoured to get this information.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to order. The honourable senator has said that I am a liar. I ask for a withdrawal and an apology.
– I did not. At no time have 1 ever mentioned that word. Perhaps the honourable senator’s mind is such that he interprets my words to mean that. I have tried through 3KZ, through the Industrial Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd and through the Parliamentary Library to get the information which was stated by the honourable senator last night and have been unable to get it. The honourable senator said that the information was available from the Library, but the Library cannot produce it.
– I suggest that you have a word with some members of your Party.
– No member of my Party would have that information. I reiterate that the information used by the honourable senator in. this chamber last night was obtained by bini in the course of a job that he was given because he was defeated in an election.
– That .is a lie.
– I invite the honourable senator to prove me to be wrong. Let him get a copy of the ‘Financial Review’ from the Library and show me the figures.
– You made the allegation; I did not do so.
– The honourable senator said that the information was contained in a copy of the ‘Financial Review’ which was available in the Library, but I challenge him or anyone else to get that from the Library. I have .tried to get that information. It shows how low one can get when one is given a job because he is defeated-
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the words being used by the honourable senator are offensive to me. Under Standing Orders I- ask that they be withdrawn. The honourable senator knows that he is not the only- member of the Labor Party in the Federal members’ rooms who knows something about the profits of the ALP…..
– I refuse to withdraw them. 1 said nothing offensive. All I am saying is that the honourable senator said that everything he had disclosed was reported in the ‘Financial Review’, so there was no problem about the matter as it was available in the Parliamentary Library. I have spent hours trying to find this material. The ladies in the Library have been very kind and have sent notes to me to say that no statement has -appeared in the Financial Review’ giving this information. It is not that the Labor Party has anything to hide. I am delighted that our station is a financial success. But let us consider what your station. 3XY-
– Whose station?
– lt was owned by the Liberal Party in conjunction with Hoyts, and recently it was sold to the Age’ newspaper company. The Liberal Party ran that station so well that for 3 years it was rated eighth out of the 8 stations in the Sydney and Melbourne ratings and in one year it was rated seventh. Compare that with the way we run our station. In the last 4 years we have never been lower than joint second in the ratings and have been rated first. Of course our station is a success. This shows that we are able to run things.
– Are you leaving your Party, Senator? This does not help your Party.
– Others who follow me will keep the faith and so long as (hey keep the faith I shall be happy. We may not always win, but sooner or later you will see the wisdom of much of what we do. I should like to refer now to my ex-colleague, Senator Little, who has had something to say by interjections. He said that we should get rid of the programme Labor Hour’ because on that programme someone referred to him as a monkey. 1 look at him and I think the comment was unfair. He said also that someone referred to him as a liar. If anyone in the course of a radio programme referred to me as a monkey I would say that he was a bad judge because I arn a bit better looking than that, but if he referred to me as a liar and a thief I would make him prove it in the courts. Do not tell me that Senator Little does not know how to go about getting a copy of a transcript of what was said during a radio programme. He has only to write to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Every script must be kept for 6 months. Unfortunately we have struck a little trouble on that station with foolish people saying foolish things and we have paid.
– Mr Hartley was one.
– Do not confuse the Kennelly argument. If I may revert to Senator Hannan’s remarks, the honourable senator talked about the Labor Party owning station 2KY in Sydney. It does not own that station and has never owned it.
– Do you suggest that they did not make those remarks about me?
– I do not know, but I am saying, and perhaps I am giving you more credit than you deserve, tha’t if you heard them you should have gone on with the matter. I would have tried to do something about it for the honourable senator and to settle the matter.
– Sir Bernard Evans has the lot and you have none left.
– We have a lot left. The honourable senator knows for how long I have been an official of the Labor Party. During that time we have never been broke and we are not broke now. Senator Hannan went on in an airy fairy way and said that station 2KY in Sydney was owned by the Labor Party. That station was never owned by the Labor Party. The licence was granted to the Labour Council of New South Wales.
– How can–
– How this; how that. The next point is that the only station the Labor Party owns in New South Wales is 2HD in Newcastle.
– Have you had a brawl with the Sydney Trades Hall Council, too?
– The honourable senator is so lacking that he would not have a fight with anyone at all. I have never heard a greater .Communist bailer in my life. Yet he comes into this chamber and supports selling China steel that comes back in bullets in Vietnam and he and all his colleagues are worried that they will not be able to sell further wheat to China.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Kennelly, please return to the Bill.
– I just thought that I would give a little back. Senator Hannan then referred to South Australia. He was on the Broadcasting Control Board. He would know what percentage of the Methodist station in South Australia the Labor Party owns - less than 5 per cent. It is true that 4K.Q in Queensland is owned by the Labor Party. The Labor Party in Western Australia has never owned a station. As one who was looked after by his colleagues when he was out of the Senate by being given a job, at least he should have, gained some knowledge and not come into this chamber and, wittingly or unwittingly, made a speech that is full of inaccuracies and provides information a portion of. which he could have obtained from only one source. Last night he said: ‘I am not allowed to disclose any of the Control Board’s figures’. We are not ashamed of the figures of profits that we make. We have to submit them. We have adhered to everything. Wc have to. under the law.
– Tell us the percentage that you make on capital.
– I will, lt was about 2.5 per cent for the year that Senator Hannan quoted. I have worked it out at about 2.5 per cent on what the station is worth.
– On paid-up capital?
– On what the station is worth. Members of the Government parlies are very prone to gloat if a Labor government enters into the business world and makes a mistake and loses. I do not know Bourke’s; but I know what the ACTU is. I ask the workers of Victoria always to go and support their own shop. I know that they will do so.
– That is a free advertisement.
– Of course it is a free advertisement, just as the honourable senator wanted to give Myer’s one earlier today. Senator Hannan will be here for three and a bit years. God forbid that he will ever get in again.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Kennelly, you must not refer to the Deity as you have. You have used the expressions ‘God forbid’ and ‘For God’s sake’, and I ask you not to do so.
– If my statement offends you in any way. Mr Acting Deputy President. I humbly withdraw.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Thank you.
– The last thing I wanted to do on Ash Wednesday was to be blasphemous. The Senate is a wonderful institution, lt is an institution which should be respected and which expects those who stand up on their feet to speak the truth, to bc careful and not to make rambling statements implying everything in the world. As one who in June .will have had 33 years in the parliamentary life of this nation, let me give some little advice to Senator Hannan: Have’ a look at the facts. No-one minds an honest mistake. But when an honourable senator stands up here and says things which, to my knowledge, could be obtained from only one place-
– That shows how ignorant you are of your own organisation.
– When one obtains information from a certain place one is bound to retain it.
– Under oath.
– As one of my colleagues says, under oath, lt seems that Senator Hannan will go to any lengths to submit a case, as long as he thinks it will please those nice young ladies or elderly ladies who have the right to select the first second and third Government candidates for the next Senate election. 1 say in conclusion that, as Chairman of Directors of the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co., I am not ashamed in any way of the profit we are making. We have run a successful business. I hope that as long as I am in that position we will continue to do so. Just as I believe that the people can run many activities for the nation, I believe that my first job as a member of the Labor Party is to show that we can run a printing organisation and a broadcasting station that are helpful to the nation.
– Did you not tell us at the outset that your Party did not own the station?
- Senator Gair knows as much about it as I do. His memory of what happened when he sat in the councils of the Party is not that bad.
– I am the fellow who reminds the elephant.
– I do not mind that. Senator Hannan complained by inference that we did not take the advertisements of other political parties, lt is true that we do not do that.
– I did not mention it.
– I suggest that the honourable senator read the Hansard report of his speech. We do not take the advertisements of other political parties because there is nothing in the Act that says that we have to. If one does not take paid advertisements from any party, one is clear. It is true that we advertise the Labor Party on 3KZ.
– Arc you saying that the DLP has never had anything broadcast over 3KZ?
– Yes, it has. 1 referred to advertisements.
– Yes. Under the Act we are bound to do that. We are bound lo broadcast the policy speeches of the recognised parties. As Senator McManus knows, we carry out the provisions of the Act. But it is a matter of fitting things in at limes when we can fit them in. I hope that, with minor amendments, the Bill will be passed. I believe that it will do something in the interests of television. 1 cannot understand why the Commonwealth does not act in conjunction with the States to obtain the name and address of each purchaser of a television set, in order to facilitate the collection of licence fees. The Postal Department must be spending great sums of money on the employment of inspectors, who must miss at least half the people who do not hold licences. Some evaders are detected, but it is a conduct of business that would not suit me. T ask the Minister why the operative date was changed. Were there any relevant transactions between 24th October and 2nd December, or whatever the dates are? if the Minister will give that information the matter will be laid to rest.
Senator HANNAN (Victoria!- Mr Acting Deputy President, I claim that T have been misrepresented, In the farrago of nonsense to which we have just listened it was claimed that I had said that radio station 3KZ had refused to accept Liberal Party advertisements. 1 made no reference to such a refusal in my speech. As for Senator Kennelly’s other implications, the information in respect of which I spoke is available from sources other than those to which he referred.
– May I raise a point of order?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Hannan has claimed to be misrepresented.
– I did not refer at any time to a refusal by 3KZ to accept advertising, but accuracy has never been one of Senator Kennelly’s attributes.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Hannan is entitled to explain himself in respect of the. matter on which he claims to have been misrepresented. I call Senator Hannan.
– I hope 1 can be heard through the interference. Senator Kennelly said that last’ night 1 had criticised 3KZ for refusing to accept a Liberal Party advertisement. I made -no such reference in my speech. As to his Other low down implications, which could come only from a person of his type, the information I used is available from other sources.
– Mr Deputy President, if I thought that you understood how hurt I am I would not- ask for a withdrawal. I believe the statement made by Senator Hannan is unparliamentary. I think it is unparliamentary to refer to another honourable senator as having made a low down statement, lt pains me very greatly, coming from the honourable senator, and I ask for the statement to be withdrawn.
– 4 will not withdraw, Mr Deputy President.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Will “ you withdraw. Senator Hannan?
– I am prepared to make a conditional withdrawal, on the condition that Senator Kennelly withdraws the words ‘low down’ which he used in his speech.
– I rise to a point of order. My point of order .is that a withdrawal has been requested. S’ou, Sir, have decided that there is .justification for a withdrawal. You have asked for a withdrawal and it must be done without conditions attached to it.
– Speaking to the point of order, I think it is proper to recall that Senator Kennelly in the course of his observations, after asserting that Senator Hannan’s information had come from a confidential source, said: ‘How low can you gel?’ I am putting a point of view-
– I rise to a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Willesee will be seated.
– I am rising to a point of order on the utterances of Senator Wright. I might point out that Senator
Wright would certainly be in order if you had not already given your decision, Mr Deputy President. You have given your decision that Senator Hannan withdraw. It is long standing practice that a withdrawal is always made without equivocation. Any argument as to whether you are correct in your judgment cannot now be entertained as you have given your decision.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I asked Senator Hannan whether he would withdraw.
– In deference to you, Sir, I withdraw.
– The incident is closed.
– I remind the Senate that I have asked for a withdrawal.
– As the Minister in charge of this Bill, if I can manage to be heard, I will reply.
– I did ask for a withdrawal.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - The incident is closed. I now call Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin.
– I have listened to the speeches made yesterday and today in this debate. Many of the points raised by honourable senators may be more effectively dealt with at the Committee stage, and I will do so. I do not want honourable senators to think, if they are listening to me, that I have not noted the points they have made. I will attend to them at the Committee stage. One or two points that have been raised can be replied to now. Senator McClelland referred to a transaction affecting CTC7, Canberra, and John Fairfax Ltd. That transaction occurred 21 months before the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) announced on 12th December 1969 details of the new legislation, and it is therefore not really relevant. I think Senator McClelland believed that the transaction took place closer to the PostmasterGeneral’s announcement.
– According to a letter I have from the Minister it occurred only 5 months before.
– There may be some discrepancy. I have read the information I have been given and I shall have it checked immediately. I am not trying to give the Senate incorrect information. I am giving only the information thai 1 have been handed.
– There is a letter dated 12th May 1969.
– I will take up the matter and see whether an error has occurred. That is the information I have been given. Senator Kennelly referred to 12th December as being the date under discussion. I remind him that an amendment has been moved and I shall deal with his point when we are debating the proposed amendment. Senator Hannan gave us a very interesting discourse concerning the work of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. He made a very interesting point, which I have noted and will certainly take up with the Postmaster-General. I refer to his point about qualified privilege for commercial broadcasters in respect of obligatory political broadcasts. The point was well taken by the honourable senator and I shall bring his remarks to the attention of the Postmaster-General.
Senator Wriedt made some very complimentary remarks about the Australian Brodacasting Commission’s radio programmes ‘AM’ and ‘PM I am sure that the Commission is very much alive to the need to maintain and develop radio programmes as well as television programmes. Senator Webster referred to the Australian content of television programmes. Toe Australian Broadcasting Control Board issued advice of new and increased requirements to be effective from September 1971. These requirements provide for 45 per cent of programmes between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to be Australian, that proportion rising to 50 per cent in June 1972. The new requirements also provide for 6 hours of drama a month on each station between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Senator Webster asked questions at some length regarding sections of the legislation. If the honourable senator agrees I think these questions would be better answered at the Committee stage. I thank honourable senators for speaking on the variety of subjects they dealt with in the field of broadcasting and television. At the Committee stage I shall be pleased to answer what questions I can. I thank the Senate for its support in the second reading of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
-I wish to refer to clause 5 of the Bill and to proposed new sub-sections 27c and 27d. These proposed new subsections deal with the proposed expenditure of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the subsequent audit of expenditure. Last night Senator Webster when speaking during the second reading stage of the Bill pointed out to the Senate the important significance of these proposed new sub-sections. Proposed new subsection 27c states:
The Board shall, not later than the thirtieth day of April in each year, submit to the Minister particulars of proposed expenditure of the Board for the financial year commencing on the following first day of July.
Proposed new sub-section 27d states: (1.) The Auditor-General shall inspect and audit the accounts and records of financial transactions of the Board . . . and shall forthwith draw the attention of the Minister to any irregularity disclosed by the inspection . . . (2.) The Auditor-General may, at his discretion, dispense with all or any part of the detailed inspection and audit of any accounts or records referred to in the last preceding sub-section. (3.) The Auditor-General shall, at least once in each year, report to the Minister the results of the inspection and audit carried out under subsection (1.) of this section.
I assume that the details reported on by the Auditor-General to the Minister will be brought to the attention of the Parliament because section 28 (3.) of the Act states:
The report and financial statements of the Board, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral as to those statements, shall be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after their receipt by the Minister.
I ask for clarification. When the AuditorGeneral inspects and audits the accounts and records of the Board no later than 30th April in each year and then draws matters immediately to the attention of the Minister, does the Minister have to present those details to the Parliament within 15 sitting days of each House after their receipt by the Minister? Certainly matters relating to public expenditure are important. Parliament must assert its responsibilities and obligations to the Australian people I ask the Minister whether section 28 (3.) means that a soon as the Minister receives a report from the Auditor-General in regard to the Boards expenditure he presents the details of those matters to the Parliament within 15 days of each House meeting after the report is received by the Minister?
– My attention was directed to proposed new sub-section 27d. Senator McClelland referred to 2 matters. Provided the Auditor-General feels there is an irregularity of sufficient importance to justify his doing so he may draw the attention of the Minister to that irregularity. To me that appeared to be something quite novel in legislation. I asked the Minister whether, when the Committee stage of this Bill was reached, she would indicate in which other pieces of legislation we could find a similar provision. Proposednew section 27d (2.) states: (2.) The Auditor-General may, at his discretion, dispense with all or any part of the detailed inspection and audit of any accounts or records referred to in the last preceding sub-section.
Here a discretion is being given to the Auditor-General to dispense with an audit of any area of accounts when he feels his action is justified. In recent times part of this matter has been drawn to the attention of the Public AccountsCommittee for comment. But this is the first piece of legislation of which I am aware in which these 2 matters have been included. To me they appear to be fairly substantial. I ask the Minister for comment.
(5.12) - I have an amount of information whichI hope will cover the points raised by both honourable senators. Clause 5 repeals sections 26 and 27 of the Act and replaces them with new Division 4 which deals with the finances of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It deals with moneys payable to the Board, namely, banking, the application of moneys, the keepings of accounts, estimates of proposed expenditure and audit provisions. All of these matters represent the modern approach to financial legislation of this kind. The provisions of the Bill are the result of consultation and agreement between the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the Treasury and the AuditorGeneral’s office. The clause introduces nothing new except that it imposes an obligation on the Board to keep proper accounts and records and to furnish each year particulars of proposed expenditure for the forthcoming financial year. Neither of these matters is covered in the existing legislation which deals with the finances of the Board in a very cursory fashion when compared with more recent Acts.
I have information which concerns points which have been raised in connection with proposed new sub-section 27o(2.). This proposed new sub-section relates to the audit of the accounts of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Proposed new sub-section 27d(I.) as proposed in the Broadcasting and Television Bill is in the standard form agreed upon wilh the Parliamentary Counsel. Senator Webster asked about examples of sections of other Acts which contain the same wording. Some of these are: The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964, section 28: Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Act 1968, section 12: Australian Tourist Commission Act 1967: Canberra College of Advanced Education Act; Science and Industry Research Act; Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act; Australian Capital Territory Electricity Supply Act; and the National Library Act. The honourable senator also asked during his speech yesterday about amendments to sections 61 and 62 of the Act. I think this information is a little premature. Would the honourable senator like it now?
– Tt is not in this clause.
– That is so. T shall leave the points I have made.
– Clause 5 deals with the finances of the Board. I want to ask the Minister something about the remuneration and allowances for members of the Board. Does the Minister recall those occasions last year when the Senate went to the trouble of amending a number of Bills as they came through this chamber? It amended them ia some cases in such a way as to affect the principal enactment insofar as it provided for provisions such as are in section 11 of the Principal Act. Section 1 1 provides:
The members of the Board shall be paid remuneration and allowances at such rates as the Governor-General determines.
Can the Minister tell me what has been done about this? I understand that the Government accepted the principle that the Senate proposed in relation to a number of Bills which contained such provisions. The amendments of the Senate were accepted in the House of Representatives. The Senate ceased amending the Bills on the understanding that the Government would do something about the various measures, certainly as they came through. Can the Minister tell me where effect has been given to that intention anywhere in this Bill?
– The Minister replied to my query relating to proposed section 27d but my recollection is that she referred only to sub-section (I .).
– That is right. I have not referred to sub-section (2.).
– Does the Minister intend to give me the information about sub-section (2.)?
– Does the honourable senator want information about section 27d (2.)?
– My query refers to the fact that on this occasion Parliament is being asked to give approval for the AuditorGeneral to dispense, at his discretion, with all or any part of the detailed inspection and audit of any accounts or records referred to in the last preceding subsection’. I. want to know whether the Minister replied to my query about this sub-section.
(5.18) - My first reply to Senator Webster related to section 27d(1.). I omitted to mention sub-section (2.) of that section and for that I apologise. This new section concerns the auditing of the accounts of the
Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Yesterday the honourable senator asked me whether the intention set out in section 27d (2.) appeared in other Acts of Parliament. I can inform him that the provision was taken almost verbatim from section 45b of the Audit Act. The effect of the proposed section 27o (2.) is to give to the Auditor-General the same powers as he has in respect of any of his normal Public Service audits.
– I do not know whether the Minister understood the point I was getting at in my initial remarks. I am referring to proposed section 27d (1.). lt states:
The Auditor-General shall inspect and audit the accounts and records of financial transactions of the Board . . . and shall forthwith-
J emphasise the word ‘forthwith’ - draw the attention of the Minister to any irregularity disclosed by the inspection. . . .
– Is this in proposed section 27d (1 .)?
– Yes. Proposed section 27d (3.) states:
The Auditor-General shall, at least once in each year, report to the Minister the results of the inspection and audit carried out under subsection (1.) of this section.
That means that there will be an audit of the books of the Board once each year and that a report shall be presented to the Minister once each year. If at the time of the presentation of that annual report by the Auditor-General to the Minister there are any irregularities, they shall be forthwith reported to the Minister. In the event of any irregularity being disclosed following the Auditor-General’s report will those irregularities be presented to Parliament? Section 28 (3.) of the Act states:
The report and financial statements of the Board, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral on those statements, shall be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after their receipt by the Minister.
The Auditor-General conducts an inspection of the Board’s books no later than 30th April in each year. If any irregularity is disclosed as a result of that inspection it must forthwith be shown to the Minister. Assuming that the Houses of Parliament are sitting at that stage, as they normally are, does this mean that within 15 sitting days of that report as to any irregularities being received by the Minister it shall be presented to the Parliament?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.22) - 1 am endeavouring to find out about the time period of 15 days. My understanding of the position is that it is as stated by Senator McClelland. I think it is shown quite clearly that if there is any irregularity it is to be drawn to the attention of the Minister. I imagine that if any deficiency is detected by the AuditorGeneral it would be brought forward in the normal way. 1 am endeavouring to find out about this period of 15 days. The position is that proposed section 27d refers to the day to day audit and section 28d to the annual audit. 1 think that is the point about which Senator McClelland is concerned.
I am trying to clear up the point raised by Senator Murphy about whether there is a proposal to amend section 1 1 of the Principal Act. The answer Ls that there is no such proposal. With the permission of the Committee I would like to clear up the point that concerns Senator McClelland, lt relates to a date.
– Perhaps that could be done when the Committee deals with an amendment 1 propose to move on behalf of the Opposition.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Delegation).
– I refer the Committee clause 7 of the Bill which repeals section 40 of the Principal Act. This relates to the powers of delegation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Proposed section 40 (1 .) states:
The Commission may, by instrument in writing under its common seal, delegate to a Commissioner or to an officer of, or other person employed by the Commission, either generally or otherwise as provided by the instrument of delegation, all or any of the powers of the Commission under this Act except -
the power to appoint officers of the Commission; and
this power of delegation.
During my speech on the second reading I mentioned that this power of delegation as now set out seems to indicate that the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission or the Commission itself must approve the permanent appointment of every person appointed to the Commission, be he a junior clerk or be she a junior stenographer.
– Would you repeat that? I could not hear you. What is your interpretation of that?
– I am saying that the proposed section gives power of delegation to officers of the Commission or to the Commission except in relation to the appointment of officers of the Commission and in relation to the power of delegation itself, lt would appear that under this provision the Commission, as a commission, or the General Manager of the Commission must approve every appointment to the Commission - be the appointment that of a junior clerk who has just left school and who has joined the Commission for the first time., a stenographer or any appointment of that nature. Frankly, it would seem to me that this power of delegation could be extended further. I am suggesting that, when future amendments to this Act are being drawn, the Government could relieve the administrative table of the General Manager or of the Commission much further than it has done by this amendment so far as appointments are concerned.
– That would be the final signature recommending appointment, would it not?
– That may be.
– Ft does not mean that he would have to interview applicants and select them, does it?
– That may be. but I should imagine that it would impose a substantial work load. The General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, having regard to the functions of the Commission as set out in the Act, has enormous responsibilities to the Australian people, lt could well be that a fair amount of his time may be taken up in putting his signature to the appointment of a number of people who are appointed each year to the staff of the Commission. From a practical point of view, 1 cannot see any objection to that power of delegation relating to appointments being extended further. I ask the Government and the Minister to give serious consideration to the matter.
– 1 do not follow you. How do you think it could be extended further? I would have thought that this power of delegation enabled a lesser officer to attend to such matters.
– I would think not, because proposed section 40 says:
The Commission may, by instrument in writing under its common seal, delegate to a Commissioner or to an officer of, or other person employed by, the Commission, either generally or otherwise as provided by the instrument of delegation, all or any of the powers of the Commission under this Act except -
the power to appoint officers of the Commisson; . . .
– The clerks whom you mentioned would not be officers; they would be other persons employed by the Commission, would they not?
– C would think they would be officers employed by the Commission. would assume that they would be contributors to a superannuation fund or to a provident fund and so on.
– Section 43 of the principal Act draws a distinction between officers and temporary employees.
– I am speaking about permanent employees such as junior clerks.
– Would the number of appointments be so great at any rime that it would impose a heavy work load on the General Manager?
– One does not know. I do not know how many people are appointed. It could well be, if there were a change of government and if we wanted to extend the activities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a new government might want to make ti substantial number of appointments. This might involve a considerable amount of administrative and clerical work on the part of the General Manager, when his time could be better spent in administering the huge responsibility that he has to the Australian people. I mention that matter to suggest to the Government that that power of delegation perhaps could be extended further.
The other matter to which ( wish to advert is the matter to which I referred in my speech during the second reading debate when I said that the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the British Broadcasting Corporation are about to engage in the production of a series of episodes of films on the legendary Australian bushranger, Ben Hall. It would appear that no Australian writer will be employed by the ABC or the BBC in the production or in the writing of any episode. 1 would suggest that the Commission, by virtue of its power of delegation, should indicate specifically to whoever is responsible for the 13 episodes, which I understand are to bc produced, that at least 6 should be written by Australian writers. I commend the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the manner in which it is going about, and has gone about in recent times especially, its task of trying to present effectively to the Australian community indigenous programmes and Australian-produced programmes. In this joint operation between the ABC and the BBC - and the series will have a large outlet because of the coverage that the BBC has - 1 think the Australian Broadcasting Commission should be insisting that a certain number of episodes bc written by Australian writers.
– I direct my remarks to proposed new section 40. I ask the Minister to indicate to me the circumstances which brought about this proposed alteration in delegation of duly. I would be most anxious to know the reason for the proposed .amendment. In her second reading speech the Minister stated:
The Commission operates throughout the Commonweath, and delegations limited to a few persons in Sydney place obvious obstacles in the way of efficient administration. The Bill amends section 40 so that the Commission’s powers may be delegated lo any person in the employ of the Commission.
I could well imagine that the Commission could be quite busy and that some delegation of powers is necessary. I hope that the Minister can give a satisfactory explanation, but 1 have some objection to the powers of the Commission being given to any person employed by the Commission. That appears to me to be delegating the powers, of. the Commission in too wide a manner. The original section 40 of the Act states:
The Commission may, by writing under its seal, but subject to the approval of the Minister, delegate lo a Commissioner or to the general manager of the Commission all or any of the powers of the Commission under this Act. lt appears to ‘me that the difficulty with the original section was that to obtain this delegation of power one had to obtain the approval of the Minister and that that delegation could take place only to a Commissioner or to the General Manager of the Commission. I ask the Minister why it is necessary to introduce the amendment bringing about a delegation to any person employed by the Commission. Surely the work of the Commission is such that the delegation should be only to a Commissioner or perhaps to the General Manager.
(5.34) - Clause 7 of the Bill seeks to amend section 40 of the Act to provide, inter alia, that the Australian Broadcasting Commission may delegate any of its powers, except the power of delegation and the power to appoint permanent staff, to any person employed by the Commission. The existing legislation limits the delegation of powers of the Commission to a Commissioner or the General Manager but this limitation has been found to be virtually unworkable in an organisation such as the Commission which is represented in all States of the Commonwealth. The delegation of the power to appoint permanent staff is in the main limited to a Commissioner or the General Manager. The Commission needs to be able to delegate certain powers quite freely. For example, the producers of various programmes must be able to authorise expenditure as necessary. Limiting powers to a Commissioner or the General Manager created an untenable position and in fact the Commission has had to resort to the device of issuing authorisations’ to enable persons down the line lo exercise the powers they needed to exercise. This activity was not viewed very kindly by the Auditor-General’s office, and because of this the present amendment has been made.
Senator Webster raised a point both yesterday and today in regard to my second reading speech. This matter has been mentioned already but I will refer to it again. The amendment is to facilitate the operations of the Commission, which is now a large organisation with a large staff, and the appointment of staff is not delegated beyond the General Manager. I think that shows the importance we attach to this question. It may be that the General Manager must approve all appointments. However, formal processes would take place lower down. The drafting of the section shows the importance attached to staff appointments. In answering further points raised by Senator Webster, I inform him that it seems necessary for the Commission to be able to select any employee to whom a task may be delegated.I believe that also refers to this particular amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 13 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 14 (shares held by trustees of superannuation funds).
– The Opposition has an amendment to move to clause 14 of the
Bill. The amendment relates to proposed section 90aa(2.) which reads in part:
The last preceding sub-section does not apply in relation to shares, or an interest in shares that became owned or held as referred to in that sub-section before the twelfth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine. . .
The amendment is moved because of a statement that the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) made on 12th December 1969, the date that now appears in the present Bill. He issued a Press release, as follows:
The Broadcasting and Television Act is to be amended to prevent employees superannuation and provident funds being used to evade the intentions of its ownership and control provisions.
The Postmaster-General said today -
That is on 12th December 1969- that Parliament had determined that there should be restrictions on the number of television or broadcasting stations that can be controlled by a particular interest. There was obviously a close association between employees pension funds and the interests that had caused such funds to be set up. The Government believe it undesirable that there should be an appearance of the pension funds being used to add to such interests.
The Minister said he would introduce amending legislation as soon as possible.
I emphasise the next words which appear in the Minister’s Press release:
It would be effective from 22nd October 1969.
Yet when the legislation comes before this chamber we find that the date appearing in the Bill is not 22nd October 1969 but 12th December 1969. When one turns to the publication ‘The Journalist’ put out by the Australian Journalists Association, we find in the February 1970 issue a report which states:
Mr Hulme said that the back dating of the amendment to 22nd October had been decided on to prevent two instances of what the amendment would prevent in the future.
He would not say what the instances were and said that any further comment would not be made until legislation was introduced in Parliament.
The date that he referred to, namely 22nd October, does not appear in the legislation but the date on which he made his Press statement is in fact the date that appears. I would like to know what the two instances were that the amendment would prevent in the future.
I know that the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Postmaster-General in this place, commenced to reply to the statements that I had made in my speech at the second reading stage regarding the transaction relating to John Fairfax and Sons Staff Pension Fund and the transfer of 1 19,000 shares in Canberra Television Ltd to an organisation known as Vident Pty Ltd, which was the nominee company on behalf of the trustees of the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund and the trustees of the John Fairfax and Sons Staff Pension Fund. I referred to this matter in detail in my speech at the second reading stage. I know that the Minister said that the transaction had occurred some 21 months earlier. It might be that the transaction occurred 21 months earlier than the date that now appears in this legislation but in fact the Minister’s approval for the transfer of the shares had not been effected until May 1969, which is a mere 5 or 6 months before the date appearing in this legislation. On 25th February 1969, 10 months before the date that appears in the legislation, I received an answer to a question that I had placed on the notice paper of the Senate in 1968. I asked this question:
Did the Postmaster-General, on16th April 1968, approve of the transfer of shares in Canberra Television Ltd as follows: 59.500 shares from Daniel Bros and Co. Pty Ltd’ to the Staff Pension Fund of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd. and 59,500 shares from Daniel Bros and Co. Pty Ltd to the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund?
The answer to that questionwas yes, that he had approved of the transfer. Then I asked:
What was the actual date onwhich the transfers were effected?
The Minister replied on 25th February 1969:
The transfers of the shares have nol yet been effected. A further proposal affecting the transaction was subsequently received and examination of this has not yet been completed.
The Minister then went on to set out details of the trustees of both funds. Undoubtedly when one sees the names of the trustees of the funds one unquestionably must say that the trustees principally are the directors of Canberra Television Ltd. Then I wrote to the Minister on 7th March 1969 but unfortunately I do not have a copy of my letter with me.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had moved an amendment to clause 14 and had proposed that the words ‘twelfth day of December’ be left out and the words ‘twenty-second day of October’ be inserted in their stead. 1 did that on the basis of the Minister’s statement of 12th December 1969 that when he introduced the legislation he would make it retrospective to 22nd October, and also on the basis of a statement attributed to the Minister that that dated 22nd October, had been decided on to prevent the occurrence of two instances of what the amendment would prevent in the future.
I had gone from this line of attack to refer to transactions that took place in 1968 and 1969 concerning the transfer of shares in Canberra Television Ltd to pension funds associated with John Fairfax and Sons Ltd and T had pointed out, in reply to a statement that had been made earlier by the Minister, that whilst the transfer of shares had taken place in, I think she said. April 1968 the approval for the transfer of the 119.000 shares in question, according to a letter from the PostmasterGeneral dated 12th May 1969, had taken place in fact in or about May 1969. In his letter the Postmaster-General said, amongst other things:
Following a complete examination of the matter, including legal advice to the effect that the transaction concerned would not amount to a contravention of the relevant provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act, J have now-
I emphasise the words ‘I have now - given my approval to the transfer of the 119,000 shares in question to Vident Pty Ltd, as nominee on behalf of the trustees of the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund and the trustees of the John Fairfax and Sons Staff Pension Fund.
As I think I mentioned earlier, the trustees of the staff pension fund of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd are Sir Warwick Fairfax, J. O. Fairfax, A. H. McLachlan, managing director of the company, and P. H. Palmer, secretary and alternate director of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd. The trustees of the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund are Sir Warwick Fairfax, J. O. Fairfax, A. H. McLachlan and P. H. Palmer. The Minister then went on to say in his letter of 12 May 1969:
It is the Government’s policy to prevent undue concentrations of ownership and control of television and broadcasting stations. To this end the adequacy of the existing provisions of the Act are kept under constant review. . . . ] can only say that if future developments indicate that any amendments to the Act are felt to be necessary in any direction at all, appropriate action will be taken.
Clearly, to me, this legislation is a case of the stable door being closed after the horse has been let out. One organisation has been allowed to transfer shares but now, as from 12th December 1969, transactions of that kind have been stopped. I should like to know from the Minister what 2 transactions might have taken place had the legislation been dated back to 22nd October, as was indicated by the Postmaster-General in his Press statement of 12th December. There is a legal axiom that not only must justice be done but that justice must appear to be done. On that basis, and bearing in mind the Minister’s statement, I believe that the Opposition’s amendment should be supported. It is only just that this matter be considered very closely by the Committee.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.5) - In replying to Senator McClelland I will correct a time that I gave this afternoon which was incorrect. The honourable senator is aware of that fact. He referred to transactions and I shall give him the full story on them. He mentioned a transaction concerning CTC Canberra affecting the interests of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd. Approval was sought on 3rd November 1967 for the transfer of 119,000, 10 per cent, of the 178,600, 14.9 per cent, shares held by Daniel Brothers & Co. Pty Ltd to, firstly, the trustees of the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund which would acquire 59,500 shares, and secondly, to the trustees of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd Staff Pension Fund which would acquire 59,500 shares.
Approval was also sought later for Vident Pty Ltd, the shares in which are held by employees of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd, to hold the shares as nominees for the fund. After inquiries and legal advice the Minister came to the conclusion that there would be no contravention of the Act and he approved the transaction on 18th March 1969. That was one of the points to which I referred this afternoon. Thus approval for the transaction was sought originally some 2 years prior to the Minister’s announcement of new legislation, and approval was given 9 months prior to that announcement, that is, the anouncement on 12th December 1969. Were the new legislation effective from 22nd October 1969 or from 12th December 1969 it would have had no effect on the transaction.
A further application on 26th November 1969 to transfer 59,500 shares from Daniel Brothers to the trustees of the Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund was not approved in the light of the Minister’s announcement on 12th December 1969 of proposed new legislation. In referring to approval of the transaction of 18th March 1969 I add that at that stage the Minister had no alternative but to agree because there was no legal objection to it. The final point 1 make concerns the two instances referred to by Senator McClelland. The first was the second Fairfax application of 26th November 1969 which was not approved, and the second was the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd application of 22nd October 1969 in respect of Western Australian broadcasting and television interests which also was not approved. Those are the two instances.
– That was the one I referred to in my speech in the second reading debate, I assume?
– 1 thought you referred to CTC Canberra.
– I referred also to the Western Australian one.
– I have cited both instances with dates and information as to non-approval. In opposing the amendment which Senator McClelland has proposed I point out that 22nd October 1969 was selected in the first place as the date of effect of the legislation. It was decided subsequently that the date preferably should be 12th December 1969 which was the date of the Minister’s announcement of the proposed legislation. There was no disadvantage in that course being adopted. The application was made on 22nd October for the approval of the Postmaster-General of the transaction by Herald and Weekly Times Ltd to which I have referred, lt would have- involved acquisition of extensive broadcasting and television interests in Western Australia by pension funds associated with that company. The date of effect, 12th December. 1969, has the same effect in regard to this transaction as the earlier date would have had. So I again say that the Government opposes the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– The Democratic Labor: Party has considered the amendment which has been moved by Senator McClelland. We have sought explanations from the Government and we have received an explanation in terms which the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has placed before the Committee.
– And you have decided to back the Government.
– We have decided to back the Government. We considered the matter on its merits as we always do. The Democratic Labor Party has examined the Government’s proposal. Because no transaction, as I understand the Bill, would escape the provisions which are embodied in the Government’s proposal to amend the Act, because the effect of the amendment would be to introduce . legislation with retrospective effect only, and. because this would have no practical operation to control any transaction, we think, that, in the balance, it would be much better if the original proposal were adhered to and the avoidance of legislation with retrospective action was not contemplated. In those circumstances, we support the Bill and we oppose the amendment moved bv Senator McClelland.
– I speak also along the same lines as Senator Byrne has spoken in opposition to this amendment, I listened carefully to what Senator McClelland said. AsI understood him he was seeking to have the date when this provision would become operative changed from 12th December 1969 back to 22nd October 1969 because he was not sure or clear in his own mind why the original statement of the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) which showed 22nd October 1969 as the date of effect was now changed in the legislation presented to us to 12th December 1969.
– Have we not the right to be suspicious.
– Senator McClelland is entitled to be suspicious if he wants to be. I heard what he had to say. Senator McClelland wanted to know the reason for the change of the date. In the absence of any reason, he said: ‘I am going to bring this amendment to substitute 22nd October 1969 for 1 2th December 1969’. I listened carefully to what the Minister said. She said that an application was lodged on 22nd October 1969 by the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. That application was refused. But it may be - I cannot speak because I have not the knowledge - that when the PostmasterGeneral originally made his statement he had in mind 22nd October 1969 as the starting date because it might have been of some aid to him in order to consider this application. However, the application was rejected and therefore as it appears to me there is no consequence in not adhering to an original decision to make the operative date 22nd October 1969. However, my interpretation of that is pure speculation. What I really rely upon, and I think the Minister has made it quite categorical, is that there is no outstanding transaction between 22nd October 1969 and 12th December 1969 which is affected in any way by this legislation. In those circumstances, it seems to me that as 12th December 1969. is. the date upon which the Postmaster-General made his announcement, this is the fair date upon which the legislation should become operative. I likewise join with Senator Byrne and the Minister in opposing the amendment.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McClelland’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 5
– Order! The question on which the Committee is voting is: ‘That the words proposed to be left out be left out’.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 and 16 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
After section 132 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: “132a. - (1.) A summons for the appearance before a court of summary jurisdiction of a defendant charged with having committed a prescribed offence may be served upon the defendant by posting a copy of the summons as a registered letter addressed to the defendant at the address shown in the summons, or in any information, complaint or similar document relating to the summons, as his address. “(2.) An affidavit by a person stating that-
SenatorDame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.20) - I propose to move 5 amendments, the first 3 of whichI believe can be considered together, if this course is agreeable to the Senate.I move:
In substance these 3 amendments make it clear that a summons to be served by post on a person alleged to have committed an offence shall be posted to the place of business or the last known place of residence of the offender. This is a requirement normally to be found in legislation relating to the service of processes of courts of summary jurisdiction. As the factual situation will be that the address of the offender will be known to the informant or complainant but not to the person posting the summons, this result is achieved in 3 stages. As a first stage subclause (1a.) is inserted to require the informant or complainant to state the proper address in the information or complaint. That requirement having been explicitly stated, it then follows that the wording of sub-clauses (1.) and (2.) needs to be altered. Accordingly, the amendment of sub-clause (1.) will enable service by post to be effected by sending a copy of the summons by registered post to the address given pursuant to the new sub-clause (1a.), and sub-clause (2.) is amended to require that the affidavits of service shall include a statement that the summons has been posted to that address. I commend the 3 amendments which I have moved.
– It is agreed that the 3 amendments be taken together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The Opposition does not object to these amendmentswhich have been moved by the Government at this late stage of the passage of this legislation In the course of my speech on the second readingI said that I had certain misgivings about this type of legislation and that I felt that it should be tightened up considerably. I said then that I would be moving an amendment, as I intend to do shortly on behalf of the Opposition, to enable a citizen of the Commonwealth who might have been convicted for not having had a wireless or television licence to have the conviction set aside at any time on the ground that he had not been properly served with the summons. In the course of my remarks 1 instanced a number of examples that I thought of at the time to show that individuals could be severely penalised without justification, lt appears to me that the 3 amendments that the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has moved on behalf of the Government tighten considerably the rights of an individual so far as public benefit is concerned. It is interesting to note in the Minister’s second reading speech that apparently this type of legislation is being enacted because - this was one of the reasons stated - the Victorian Chief Secretary’s Department has advised the Commonwealth that no longer will the Victorian Government be responsible for the serving of summonses on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of these matters.
– Why single out Victoria? Victoria is not the only State which has expressed this view.
– If the honourable senator looks at the Minister’s second reading speech he will see that there is particular reference to that Slate.
– I know, but it refers to the police in other States also. The honourable senator is quite entitled to refer to Victoria, but I do not think he should single out Victoria as though it were the only one.
– Senator Greenwood is very touchy about a statement in a second reading speech by a Minister of the Government he supports. It was emphasised by the Minister that the Victorian Chief Secretary’s Department had advised the Commonwealth that it would not engage in serving summonses on behalf of the Commonwealth in respect of this matter. Therefore the Commonwealth has moved to tighten up this legislation to effect service of a summons by way of registered post. But, as I have said, it is obvious that at this late hour the Government has had second thoughts about the legislation and in some respects is tightening it up with respect to the rights and liberty of the subject. On that basis we of the Opposition do not object to the 3 amendments which have been moved by the Minister on behalf of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme).
– I support these amendments. I regret that Senator McClelland, in expressing the Opposition’s support for these amendments, has done so, I sensed, with a degree of reluctance and, I think somewhat unfairly, without giving acknowledgment to the fact that these amendments came about because in the Senate consideration is given to the clauses of Bills in a way that it. is . not given in the other place. These amendments which have been proposed by the Government have been moved only after consultation by the Minister for Housing - one gives Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin credit for this - with senators on the Government side of the chamber who felt, after examination of the provisions of this legislation, that there was a need to make the purpose of the amendments more efficacious by ensuring that there was in a summons which is to be served the true address of the defendant, lt may be said that this is a tightening up of the legislation - that was the expression used by Senator McClelland - but the point that I want to make is that the Opposition, in a general condemnation of aspects of these provisions, did not advert to this particular area.
This is a matter which has come as a result of Government senators examining the provisions of the legislation and being able to persuade the Government that it is desirable to have these amendments. I do not say that by way of partisan politics but merely by way of reply to what I thought was a very reluctant concession, somewhat unyieldingly given by Senator McClelland. I believe that the Senate is a place where, when we examine the clauses of Bills, there can be a consideration of those clauses with a detachment and a consideration which can more readily be given away from the fire of policy and other matters which occurs in the other place. We on both sides of this chamber should appreciate that this is one of the functions of the Senate. In regard to these amendments to this Bill, and other amendments which are forthcoming, the role of the Senate as a scrutinising body in the Committee stage is well sustained.
The purpose of the 3 amendments which have been taken together is to ensure that, when a person is alleged to have broken those provisions which state that he must have a broadcast listeners’ licence or a television licence, the actual address of the defendant shall be shown in the body of the summons.
– The address last known to him.
– I take note of Senator Cavanagh’s objection and simply make the rejoinder that that expression, or words of similar purport, are to be found in most statutes which provide for the service of a document. The service of a document on a defendant who is charged with an offence should be upon him at his last known address, and one might suppose that he has a variety of addresses if he is an itinerant person.
– Does the honourable senator fit into that category? Is he an itinerant?
– 1 think a senator has a permanent address, which is his home address, and he is happy to get back there from lime to time. The point is that the expression ‘last known address’ is a common expression to be found in almost every statute which has provisions for service. What these amendments provide is that the defendant shall be served with a summons at the address shown on the summons and that that address shall be the last known address of the defendant. This is a tidying up of the provision. It is a clarifying of the provisions. It is a security, in the light of all that follows, that the person intended to be charged with the offence shall have due notice.
I conclude where 1 started. I believe that amendments of this type - moved- as they are, by the Government - indicate that Government senators are as concerned as Opposition senators about the provision of legislation which comes before us and that we are as concerned as Senator McClelland claims the Opposition is to ensure that there is a scrutinising of these provisions and that they are enacted in such a way that as far as possible the rights of individuals are protected. I believe that these amendments do aid the protection of prospective defendants by securing to them their right, as defendants, to be given proper notice on summons. Therefore, 1 believe that the Government is to be commended for initiating these amendments to legislation which has already passed the other House.
– For reasons which are now abundantly clear to honourable senators, the virtue of these amendments is quite apparent, and the Democratic Labor Party supports them. I rise merely because I am finding some difficulty in reading proposed section 132a (4.) (c), which states:
the evidence before the court of the service on the person of the summons requiring him to appear before the court in relation to the charge was an affidavit that, under sub-section (2.) of this section, was evidence that the summons was served . . . lt becomes clearer as I read it. But is the Minister quite sure that the drafting there has not faltered in some minor respect? 1 am not quite clear, lt may be correct. I am a little uncertain about it. I would be grateful if the Minister would consult with her advisers on it.
(8.33) - I am informed by my advisers that the drafting does achieve the purpose that is required and is quite correct.
– I rise on this clause because I consider that it deals with very vital principles and that I should place on record my concern at the adoption of these principles in this legislation. Senator McClelland has truly indicated the attitude of the Labor Party to the amendments. We accept them, but not because this chamber has seen fit, in reviewing the legislation, to have them introduced. I believe that the introduction of these amendments was influenced greatly by the speaker who led for the Labor Party in the second reading debate. I do not think that credit should be taken away from him.
– He did not even mention them.
– He pointed out the misgivings of our Party on this legislation. In the meantime some attempt has been made to meet the misgivings that we had. It distresses me when I see even members of the Labor Party - particularly those who are interested in the law and who should be the upholders of the civil rights of the people - introducing for the first time legislation under which a man can be charged before a court and the only notification that it is necessary to give him is one via the post - to notify him by posting a letter to him.
– A registered letter.
– Yes. That merely indicates that some adult person at his residence received the communication. lt does not indicate that the accused received the communication. There has to be an affidavit that the Postmaster-General’s Department did dispatch the letter. I take it that the return would indicate that the communication was delivered to someone at the accused’s address. How much can come between the dispatch of the letter and the receipt of the letter is another matter.
The clause deals with the possibility of a person being charged with having committtd a ‘prescribed offence’. Sub-section (8.) of proposed section 132a contains a definition of ‘prescribed offence’, namely, that a person has no radio licence or no television licence or, alternatively, he is the occupier of a place where a radio is in operation and there is no radio licence or he is the occupier of a place where a television set is in operation and there is no television licence. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $100 or 6 months gaol, in accordance with section 132 of the Act. Therefore, a man can be liable to 6 months gaol and can be on a charge and be deemed to be innocent until found guilty, and his only notification that the charge against him will be heard, say, in the Central Police Court tomorrow is something that was dispatched through the post.
– How else would you do it? What method would you use?
– The Minister just said that this is a provision which is usually found in legislation relating to summary jurisdiction. I challenge that. The provision in most States of Australia is that there has to be an affidavit on the back of the summons stating that it was delivered. In the progressive States - I come from one of them - the affidavit has to state that the summons was delivered to a person over 16 years of age at the resi dence concerned. The affidavit on the back of the summons also has to state that the purpose of the summons was explained.
– That was so in your State.
– As I said, 1 come from a progressive State. If there has been legal degeneration in other States, noone has made the check that I am making at this time and people have complacently allowed the matter to drift to the point where today a posted summons is sufficient to bring a man before a court and charge him.
– A registered letter.
– Yes. What is the position if there is domestic trouble in the family and, as an act of-
– . . . as an act of sabotage to the accused his wife tears up the letter? What is the position if the accused is an illiterate workman whose habit is not to open his letters until Sunday? What is the position if he is an illiterate workman who does ‘not read correspondence that comes to him? He will not know that he has committed an offence. Yet he can be charged and the next day a policeman will arrive for- the purpose of committing him to 6. months in gaol, although he did not even know that there was to be a hearing of. the case. There is no obligation to inform him. I do not think the amendments improve the position at all. They provide that the summons will be served at the address . where the pimp says the accused lives.
– You claimed credit for these amendments, and now you do not want them.
– I am saying that the amendments do not improve the legislation; that they do. not improve the rights of the individual. The position is that a person can be faced, with serving 6 months in gaol on the basis of a notification that be has not received, ft is true that if he has not received the notification he can appeal, or that another hearing can be held if he establishes that he has not received the notification. But this is converting the onus on the , prosecutor to prove a breach of the law into an onus on the accused to prove that he did not ever receive the summons to attend the court. Before he can succeed in an appeal he has to do one of many things. The proposed section 132a (4.) provides: (4.) Where-
It is the responsibility of the defendant to establish his bona fides, and not the responsibility of the prosecution to establish a lack of bona fides. If the defendant meets the requirementsI have detailed the court, in the words of the proposed amendment, ‘shall set aside the conviction’. My learned friend opposite has informed us that other tribunals and other law are now involved. We do not know whether the police in Victoria will not serve the summons or whether the police in other States have refused to do so. In any event, because of the reluctance of State police forces to serve the summonses it is proposed to legislate for the possibility of the conviction of someone who may not even know that he is to be on trial for committing an offence. That is the alternative to the Commonwealth’s paying the cost of service of a summons. It does not have to be served by a policeman. It could be done by an employee of the Postal Department. It seems that because the State police forces will not serve the summonses we are prepared to legislate to throw overboard civil liberties through the conviction of someone who may not even know that he is going for trial. Because the State policeman will not be our servants someone may be deprived of a chance of exonerating himself.
Members of the legal profession serving as members of this Parliament have upheld the rights of individuals. They have been outstanding in establishing British law on our statute book and in upholding the rights of citizens. Members of the legal profession are prepared to forgo those advances today simply for the sake of convenience in this legislation. I would like to have noted my opposition to the introduction of such a provision in our legislation.
– I have listened with some interest and concern to Senator Cavanagh’s speech and would like to reply to some of the points he raised. When the proposed amendment was first mentionedI was as concerned as Senator Cavanagh about it. I do not like now and did not like then the idea of abolishing personal service. Discussions ensued as to the reasons for the practices followed throughout Australia in this particular matter and I must admit that I was very surprised to learn of the extent to which a new practice had been introduced throughout Australia for the service of summonses both of civil courts and courts charged with determining questions of breaches of duty and simple offences. That change has been most marked, not just in the last year or two but over quite a few years. It may have come about as a result of a changing attitude towards the efficacy or otherwise of service by post. It seems that the result of a very careful study made by governments of all political shades in the States, Labor as well as Liberal and Country Party governments-
Seantor RAE - I am coming to that. The matter has also been the subject matter of a study by parliaments in every State. It has been studied by committees, law societies and various law enforcement bodies. It has been the subject of a considerable amount of investigation and study over the past few years. The net result is that the apparent conclusion reached is that, provided adequate provision is made for re-hearing if necessary, the method of service provided for in the proposed amendment is the best method to be adopted in the interests of efficacy, economy and convenience. I share with Senator Cavanagh a concern whenever it appears to me that the rights of an individual may be infringed in the interests of any one of the 3 factors I have mentioned, lt seems that in the amendments moved by the Minister and the amendments foreshadowed in the circulated list we will achieve adequate safeguards of the rights of individuals because in the unlikely event - it happens sometimes - that a person does not receive a summons, adequate opportunity will be given for that individual to go before a court and obtain a re-hearing.
My own personal experience, and I am sure that it is shared by other members of the legal profession, is that providing a valid reason for having the first hearing and judgment or order set aside is submitted, it will be set aside and the case reheard. Terms may be imposed for a rehearing, but that is a matter for a court. I have sufficient faith in the operation of our judicial system to believe that this is the sort of function which a court can adequately exercise. On the balance of convenience it appears that it is unreal to have to get a police officer to act as a process server for every single summons that has to be served. In the interests of the protection of the community and the other interests served by the police for the community it is unreal to occupy the time of policemen in process serving. It is also unreal to take the stand that a postman cannot act as a process server, with safeguards; that is, by registered post or by the alternative means of an AR card, which was discussed but not adopted. There is no reason to believe that that method is not just as adequate as the method of service by a policeman.
Senator Cavanagh pointed out that a registered letter could be left with a person involved in a matrimonial dispute or in other circumstances which would cause the person involved not to receive notice of his trial. But that situation exists at the moment because much of the process serving in the various fields in Australia involves leaving a summons with a person over the age of 16 years, and apparently over the age of 16 years, and apparently resident on the premises. So it is clear that the method provided for in the amendment is no worse than that which has been adopted for many years.- 1- therefore suggest to Senator Cavanagh that his concern in that particular respect is not justified.
A number of the matters before us have been very carefully considered, not only by the Government and its advisers but also by honourable senators on this side of the chamber who have spent a considerable time in studying them. I think it is unfair and unworthy of Senator Cavanagh to imply that the only reason why honourable senators on this side of the chamber have shown concern and consideration is because of the points raised by Senator McClelland. I do not wish to take anything away from Senator McClelland. I simply justify what we have done by way of consideration as being in the interests of the protection of the individual. Provided adequate safeguards exist for a person to apply for the setting aside of a conviction obtained without his knowledge, on the balance of convenience 1 believe the interests of the individual will be adequately protected. . lt is my belief that until such time as this amendment is carried the safeguards are not adequate. With the amendment they will now be adequate. In other words, if one has 2 years in which to apply as of right, and after that one has such time as a court may allow, the interests of the individual will be adequately protected. I have every confidence that the courts will ensure that those interests are adequately protected.
The only other matter I wish to mention is in relation to what Senator Cavanagh said. He used an expression which f would like him to reconsider. He spoke about serving notice at the address at which the pimp says the defendant lives’. I think that was rather an unfortunate expression to use about an officer who is charged with the function of being an inspector.
– lt is not an officer. It can be a neighbour.
– If the honourable senator reads the Act he will see that the person who makes the complaint is an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I suggest that Senator Cavanagh look at subsection (2.) (a) of proposed new section 132a. which provides: (2.) An affidavit by a person stating that -
I ask Senator Cavanagh to reconsider. I am sure he did not mean what he said. I hope he did not mean it. He is describing as a pimp any officer of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department who will be carrying out his necessary function of ensuring that people comply with the law and not unfairly leave the payment of the necessary fees to others. I do not think such an officer should be called a pimp. I draw that to the honourable senators attention and ask him to reconsider.
– It seems to me that we are considering an innovation in the Commonwealth law and one which has certain elements ofdanger. These elements must be taken into account on the balance of convenience, as Senator Rae has said. A great chief justice of India who was in Australia some years ago at a law conference said: ‘Sometimes you need procedural methods in the law under which some individuals will suffer, but these persons are almost sacrifices for the efficient conduct of the law.’ We are well aware of this principle. But insofar as one can one ought to avoid having persons sacrificed - that means injured unnecessarily by the legal procedures. We do not want to see a return to the methods that were current at the time Charles Dickens was writing. We are cognisant of the fact that both the Opposition and the Government have applied their minds to these provisions. But I am a little concerned about the provisions as I have examined them and listened to the debate. I would be grateful if honourable senators would follow my thought process and correct me if I am wrong. Proposed new section132a. provides for the service of a summons where the defendant is charged with having committed a prescribed offence. This is before a court of summary jurisdiction. The prescribed offences are referred to in proposed new section 132a (8.). They are found in sub-section 6 of section 125 and sub-section 8 of section 126 of the principal Act. If one turns to those subsections in the principal Act one finds that no special penalty is provided. From section 132(3.) of the principal Act it appears that the punishment for an offence against this Act shall be:
Section 132 (4.) states:
The last preceding sub-section does not apply in relation to a contravention of. or failure to comply with, a provision of this Act in respect of which a penally is provided by a section of this Act other than this section.
I am open to correction, but it seems to me that these prescribed offences provide not merely for a pecuniary penalty but a term of imprisonment for 6 months.
– That is in default.
– No, it is not in default at all. For a contravention of the prescribed offences one may be sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. To me that seems to put a serious aspect on the matter, because if one is convicted pursuant to these convenient provisions - and they are convenient - one may not only be subjected to the money penalty but also be liable to imprisonment.
– The honourable senator said £100. Did he mean dollars?
– I read from the principal Act. I have no doubt it will be corrected in consolidating legislation. I do not know what consideration has been given to the consequences of this, but I ask honourable senators to imagine the position if it were 12 months. Do honourable senators realise what this would do?
– It would disqualify a person from sitting in Parliament.
– That is right, under section 44 of the Constitution. An honourable senator might have a summons delivered to him. There might be repeated offences because he might have left his usual place of residence. After about the fourth offence the court may come to the conclusion that this fellow is taking no notice. It might happento be Senator Greenwood or someone whom the court does not know is a senator. Perhaps this offence happened at one of his addresses which he had left. This is not inconceivable. It is important to remember that we are setting a pattern here. What we do here will probably be applied in other legislation. lt is so convenient that it will not be restricted to the Broadcasting and Television Act. One can readily imagine that with a number of repeated offences a court might impose a term of imprisonment. In any event, under the Constitution it would not matter whether one was given the 6 months penalty because section 44 of the Constitution provides: . or has been convicted arid is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for 1 year or longer.
That is the constitutional provision. It does not matter whether one is fined only $5. True it is we have not the 12 month period. I do not know what the provisions of the State Constitutions are. I do not know what the provisions might be for public servants under all sorts of laws. It might well be that if they are convicted under a law which provides for liability to a punishment of 6 months imprisonment they forfeit their office. I do not know. But it concerns me that we are setting up this system and allowing a punishment which is imprisonment as well as a money penalty. The conviction is important but we know it can be set aside. We know what is being suggested by the Government and by the Opposition. This is the first time I have had an opportunity to consider this aspect, and I am quite concerned at the fact that we are setting a pattern here dealing with imprisonment.
– This is something which has been accepted in the States. I just mentioned that.
– That is a consideration, but we know how these things occur. They are included in legislation and it is up to us to consider them. I say, without any party contention whatever, that it is a matter for concern that the penalty of imprisonment is attached to this. If I am wrong I would like to be corrected but that is how it seems to me. I would like consideration given to whether, in the case of a summons served in this way, a court could impose only a pecuniary penalty. Suppose a person is away from home. When he returns to his home he may be arrested on warrant. Then he has to set about invoking the proceedings and satisfying the court before his conviction is set aside. In the meanwhile he has been legally sentenced to imprisonment. There is nothing in the Bill stating that there is a stay if a man says: T claim that I was not served with the summons.’ The answer to him will be: That may be so and you may be able to set aside this conviction but until such time as you do that you are subject to imprisonment and here is the warrant for your imprisonment.’ That man may be sent to Long Bay and he may then get hold of lawyers and be able to set aside the conviction.
If I am right 6 months imprisonment can be imposed. Tn any event there is a liability to such imprisonment. This may carry all sorts of consequences under the law that I am not aware of. I would be very dubious about whether other honourable senators are aware of them. I think some consideration should be given to the matter and I would like fo know whether these points can be answered satisfactorily.
– I think the Senate is indebted to Senator Murphy for the approach he has adopted to this provision. I think his apprehension is fairly based. It is this sort of consideration which, as I said earlier, has concerned Government senators and is substantially the reason . for the amendments which the Government is putting forward at this stage. We had the same views that Senator Murphy has expressed and we believed that we should be careful in the introduction of an innovation such as a new form of service of documents under which persons can be charged with criminal offences to see that there is every protection for the individual and that every step is taken to ensure that there shall be correct service so that .the offence with which he is charged comes to his notice.
Senator Murphy referred to section 132 of the Broadcasting and Television Act which sets out the penalty for a person who does not take out a broadcast listener’s licence or a television viewer’s licence in accordance with . sections 125 or 126. There is a penalty, in . the discretion of the magistrate, of a fine of up to $200 or up to 6 months imprisonment. Senator Murphy would know that the general practice in these matters is that fines are imposed for breaches of those sections of the Act. If a person goes before the court on a charge of not having a radio listener’s licence or a television viewer’s licence the fine imposed depends upon the magistrate at that court. But as I recall experiences in petty sessions over many years I cannot remember anybody ever having been sentenced to gaol for this sort of offence. I think this is one of the practical consequences which-
– If that is the basis upon which you are going approach the matter would it not be sensible for us here and now to delete the reference to imprisonment and simply leave the fine?
– I am not prepared to go that far. I will give my reason in a moment. Whilst it is a fact that the penalty prescribed is either a fine or a gaol sentence, practice indicates that magistrates with good common sense do not impose gaol sentences. On the other hand if there is a repetition of the offence over a period of 5 or 6 years and the person concerned is a persistent offender undeterred by fines of S200, T think a magistrate could well take the view that he has to impose a gaol sentence and send that person to gaol for 1 month or 2 months. I think that sort of situation is very rare. I put it forward because to me the general fear expressed by Senator Murphy, though well based theoretically, does not worry me in practice as one of the likely consequences of the new system which is being imposed.
I asked a few questions when Government senators were considering these provisions and ascertained that in 1968-6.9 there were 20.959 prosecutions for offences against either sub-sections (6.) or (8.) of sections 125 and 126.
– How were they served?
– The fines imposed amounted to $367,484.
– Were they the only penalties imposed?
– They were, as I understand it, the only penalties imposed and to the best of my knowledge no gaol sentences were imposed in 1968-69 on those miscreants who failed to take out their radio broadcast listener’s licence or television viewer’s licence.
– ls that the total number proceeded against or the total number of convictions?
– That is the total number of convictions. I do not know the number proceeded against. The general pattern is that if a prosecution is proceeded with it is because the defendant has been caught redhanded, as it were. The inspector has gone along to the house and has seen a television set or a radio set and the owner has not had a licence, and really there is no defence. 1 think this is the sort of practical consideration which we should keep in mind.
In view of the number of offences which occurred in 1968-69 it is prudent to ask what Senator Cavanagh asked me a moment ago. He wanted to know how those summonses were served. They would have been served in accordance with the laws of each of the States where the prosecutions occurred. I am not sure whether in 1968-69 there was provision for service by post in all the States, lt certainly was available in some States. I am unable to say generally whether those summonses were served by post or otherwise. My belief, arising out of discussions I had with officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Postmaster-General’s Department, is that they were served by police. We recognise that there is a shortage of police in every State. There are constant clamours for policemen to be available to do what is regarded by the public as police duties.
– Senator Cavanagh presented a petition today about law enforcement.
– I am indebted to Senator Withers for the revelation that Senator Cavanagh does not have to be further informed about what I am going to say. The point that concerns the PostmasterGeneral and the Government is that the States are asking why their police should be available simply to act as process servers of summonses charging people with breaches of Commonwealth Acts, and in particular a breach of a Commonwealth Act which says that a person has to have a radio licence and a television licence. I refer the Committee to what the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle
Rankin) said in her second reading speech when presenting this Bill. She said:
More recently, with increasing demands on the police, it has been made clear to the Commonwealth that some of the States are no longer prepared to see members of the police used to serve summonses for the more common Commonwealth statutory offences. The Chief Secretary for Victoria has already informed the Commonwealth that the Victoria Police will no longer undertake the service of summonses issued under the Broadcasting and Television Act. lt has, therefore, become necessary to arrange immediately for some other means of effecting service of summonses in respect of the common minor offences under the Broadcasting and Television Act in relation to unlicensed broadcast and television receivers.
Well, with an economy of language but with an absolute simplicity and clarity and purpose, the Minister has justified these provisions. I. think it is perfectly clear that what she is doing is simply saying that a defendant can be informed by registered letter of the offence with which he is charged. It is up to the defendant to take whatever action he wishes to defend himself. I appreciate that a person served in that way may be faced, theoretically, with the prospect of having to pay a heavy fine or of having to serve a gaol sentence.
– Do you see any objection to a proviso which states that if a person does not appear and if the service is said to have been in that way he should not be sentenced to imprisonment?
– I do not see any objection, to that, but I do not see any benefit in it. I do not feel that the magistrate should be fettered in the type of penalty which he should be able to impose.
– If the case is such a bad one that the person served could be imprisoned, surely he should be served personally. Should not the PostmasterGeneral have him served personally?
– I still feel that Senator Murphy should not apply his ardour, which does him credit, so strenuously in this case. He is attempting to put the Postmaster-General in the position of a person who characterises the offence before the adjudication has taken place. If initially the Postmaster-General takes the view that a certain offence is of a serious character and that therefore it requires that the person shall be served by personal pro cess, while others can be served by post, he is going very close to adopting the role not only of prosecutor but also of judge; he is influencing the magistrate in the type of attitude that the magistrate should take to the offence.
I do not believe that any of the provisions suggested by Senator Murphy are necessary because, if the Committee agrees to the words suggested by the Government as a further amendment, the Act will contain an adequate means of setting aside any conviction arrived at where this means of service is used and where the letter is not received by the defendant. The legislation contains a provision that, if a person who has been served appears in court and says that he did not receive the letter, the court must then set aside the conviction. To me, that is a complete safeguard and I cannot sec that any other provision would be as satisfactory as that. All that a person who is faced with a conviction - be it a fine or a gaol sentence - has to say is that he never received the summons. If he satisfies the court that he did not receive the summons, the conviction has to be set aside. That is a necessary corollary of the system of service which is being proposed. As that safeguard does exist, I feel that the present system should be instituted, because of the problems associated with service of documents relating to common statutory offences. Police in the States have other jobs to do and should not be required to serve documents and because the system now being set up in the Commonwealth will mean that service can be effected by registered letter. The fact that all States are adopting a similar method of service should not conclusively determine the issue for the Commonwealth, but I think that is a relevant fact which we can bear in mind when supporting the action which the PostmasterGeneral has taken.
– I think that I should say a few words on one or two things that have arisen since I spoke previously. With all sincerity and with the greatest respect I ask the Minister to consider adjourning this matter so that the Postmaster-General’s Department can study it and decide whether a new approach to it should be taken. When I rose previously 1 stated that it was of concern to me that people, with legal minds and with a reputation over generations of upholding the rights and civil liberties of the individual, were prepared to accept the amendment. My remarks drew into the debate honourable senators who have had legal training. They recognised the importance of the matters I raised and on no account would they be parties to an infringement of civil rights. These men with legal training have influenced the Department to introduce the present amendments. They thought that the Act contained the necessary protection to prevent the infringement of the civil liberties of any individual.
Senator Murphy queried whether the proposed protection was great enough when there is the possibility of a gaol sentence hanging over the head of the defendant in these cases. Senator Greenwood tried to brush that aside easily by saying that no-one served in this way has been imprisoned and that we can rely upon the common sense of the judiciary not to impose a gaol sentence. The fact that it has never happened would be justification for adopting the attitude that Senator Murphy did. He said that we should give greater protection because someone could be sent to gaol although he was not present at the trial. Why should we leave the legislation in that state? It is not beyond the realms of possibility that at some time a judge or a magistrate might not use the common sense used by the magistrates in the cases referred to by Senator Greenwood. A magistrate might not use that common sense on which we are relying. It is only the common sense of the individual magistrate that we are relying on for the protection which Senator Murphy thought was so essential. Senator Greenwood and Senator Rae agreed about the protection being essential.
Let us look at the position. Although a gaol sentence would be imposed, one would think, only after the second, third or subsequent convictions, there may be evidence before the court of a flagrant disregard for and a serious breach of the law. That may not have been the case, but that may be the only evidence the court has before it. That can happen. When 1 used the word ‘pimp’ in my previous speech, Senator Rae took objection. If anyone believes that I used that term in relation to an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department, who was carrying out his duties, I apologise. Under the terms of the amendment, an officer of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is not necessarily the informant. The amendment states:
A person who lays an information or makes a complaint alleging that another person has committed a prescribed offence
– He must be an officer of the Department.
– He need not be an officer of the Department.
– Laying a complaint is a legal term.
– A complaint could be laid by an ordinary citizen. If an ordinary citizen knows that a breach of the law has been committed, it is his responsibility to take action. ‘A person who lays an information or makes a complaint’ are the words in the amendment.
– ‘Complaint’ is a technical term.
– I know that complaint’ is a technical term. But the laying of a complaint is not the prerogative of any one individual or any officer of the Department. It is necessary for the officer of the Department to submit an affidavit under sub-clause (2.) that he sent the notification by post to the individual. That is where the officer of the Department is involved in this question. All those ingredients must be complied with without any knowledge of whether the accused has been served with the summons. He is committed for trial and a hearing takes place. If the summons were served in the norma] way, I presume it would take the form of an ex-parte hearing at which the judge, in the absence of the accused, would have to decide what penalty to impose on the basis of the information presented to him. Tt is a flagrant breach of justice that a magistrate is justified in imposing the maximum penalty upon an individual because a person lays a complaint, whether or not he is an officer of the department, and states that to his knowledge this person has not held a licence to operate the radio he has in his residence for the last 5 years. Possibly such a case has never occurred but, nevertheless, there is the possibility of it occurring. We should be concerned that this legislation destroys protection of the rights of the individual. If we are worthy of our position here we must be concerned about the protection of the civil rights of the individual.
Despite the shortcomings of the legislation, those honourable senators who represent the legal profession have said tonight that provision is made to rectify any wrong that may be done. Should an innocent man be subjected to having a conviction recorded against him? Possibly if an illiterate citizen of our society approached one of the legal fraternity in the Senate he would have all the protection in the world, but a person who is a stranger to this country would not know what to do if the police came to arrest him to serve his sentence because he has not paid his fine. What approach should he adopt? He does not know the court procedure. He does not know any legal men. That man would be gaoled without having any knowledge that a trial had taken place. My legal friends say: ‘This may be so.’
– That is what is done in every other State.
– Because every other Slate has committed an error in relation to civil liberties does that mean that we should do the- same thing here? The State governments are not renowned for possessing men who have a conscience in relation to civil liberties. I hope the Federal Government has such a conscience. No-one has examined this whole question. Because this error has been made in the States it is suggested that we can disregard the rights of the individual. It is said that that is what has happened in the State of Western Australia. It is very important that we uphold the principle of the rights of the individual. Now it is said - and it is understandable - that police officers should not waste their lime in serving these petty summonses. I have already agreed, in a petition I presented to the Senate, that there is a shortage of police officers. I do not know the practice in other States, but in South Australia it is unusual for a policeman to serve Magistrates Court or, in many cases, Police Court summonses.
– It has been done by post since 1969.
– It is not done by post even though there may be legislation to provide for it. It is normally done by the bailiff of the court. Many organisations serve their own summonses. Summonses do not have to be served only under legal jurisdiction; it is the right of anyone who wishes to serve a summons to do so.
– But the bailiff does not serve petty offence summonses; he serves summonses in the civil jurisdiction only.
– Yes, the bailiff does serve summonses in the local court jurisdiction. If it is necessary we could make it possible for a postal officer to serve summonses, but there is no guarantee that the person who may possibly be convicted has notification of the trial. Therefore he has no opportunity to acquire legal aid or to submit a defence.
The Government relies solely on the fact that if an injustice is done there is provision to rectify it. The Government is putting forward legislation to rectify injustices that that legislation creates. Are we such lawmakers that we pass legislation recognising the possibility of inflicting injustices on the community? That is what this legislation seeks to provide. If an injustice can occur a.e a result of this legislation it is suggested that we make provision to rectify it. It can be rectified only if the individual has the knowledge of how to approach the court to do so, if he has enough money to engage legal aid to interpret this Act, if he complies with the required conditions in order to obtain rectification of the injustice or if he has the initiative or the finance to clear his name. But most people would take the attitude:- ‘It will cost me less to pay the fine and have a conviction recorded against me.’ These are the conditions created by this legislation, and now there is the possibility of an injustice being written into our legislation by a Parliament that represents the people.
– Whilst 1 admire Senator Cavanagh’s heart, I do not have the same admiration for his head. I say that in all sincerity because I think Senator Cavanagh has a deep and sincere conviction about this matter. Unfortunately he is talking from his heart and not his head. I think he has misunderstood a lot of the legal processes involved. First of all, I think he misunderstands the term ‘informant or complainant’. As I attempted to tell him by way of interjection, this term has a somewhat technical meaning in the law. If I went along to a police officer and claimed that my neighbour had committed an offence I might be the general informant to the police but no doubt the police would lay the charge and thus become the informant. When we speak about the informant and the complainant - I think this is generally true - we generally mean that he is a police officer. He is at no stage a pimp. He might operate as a result of information received but-
– The police officer would usually check the information, would he not?
– That is right, and he then becomes the informant or the complainant.
– Why can you not lay a complaint against your neighbour?
– I would not be laying a complaint against my neighbour. I would be giving certain information to the police and it would then be for the police to decide whether they would lay a complaint. Strictly speaking, I am not the informant or the complainant. The police officer becomes the informant or the complainant, depending in which State one resides. I think Senator Cavanagh ought to sort this out for a start.
The other thing that Senator Cavanagh should realise is that this Bill does not deal only with the person who does not receive a summons. The honourable senator should look at proposed new section 132A(4.)(d). Not only does he not receive a copy but the clause goes further and provides: . . or did not receive a copy of the summons by such a date as would have given him a reasonable time to comply wilh the summons. lt is not just non-receipt.
– It is a recognition of the possibility.
– lt is a recognition, and the same thing applies in relation to personal service. From my limited knowledge of the petty sessions jurisdiction, when a summons is issued by the clerk of petty sessions he puts a return date on it in anticipation, under the old procedure, of personal service in time for the defendant, if need be, to seek advice and to appear on that date. But if the return date is, say, 24lh February 1971 and the defendant does not receive the summons until 23rd February 1971, of course the matter is stood over because there has not been adequate time for him either to seek advice or to prepare his own case. Here, where a person has been convicted, if the court believes that he did not have adequate time either to seek advice or to prepare his case he may also have it set aside.
Senator Cavanagh spoke also of the illiterate. It fascinates me that an illiterate, if there are any in our community - I suppose there are still some,- and perhaps the trouble is due not so much to illiteracy as to a misunderstanding of the English tongue, if migrants are involved - for some reason is at a disadvantage if he gets a summons through the post but is in a stronger position if a process server gives it to him. To my knowledge the process server does not translate a summons or even read it. As I understand the law, all he need do is throw .the summons at the person concerned and allow the summons to touch him, and that is good service. How is the illiterate any better off by getting a letter from the postman through registered mail containing a summons he cannot read than having a process server throw him a document which touches him and the process server ‘ then disappears? How is the illiterate benefited by personal service? I think Senator Cavanagh speaks from the heart and not from knowledge of what happens. I am informed that the provision relating to 6 months imprisonment has been in the Act since 1942, some 29 years ago.
– There was a Labor government in those days, too.
-7-I did not intend to refer to that but that is fair enough. Times change. The Labor Party has changed for the worse since then. ,1 am also informed that to the best of the knowledge of the departmental officers, in that 29 years no person has been imprisoned for this offence. I am not a very good mathematician, but working on Senator Greenwood’s figures and having some prior knowledge of them, I understand that the average fine is not $200 - that is the maximum - but $18 or $20 if the number of convictions is divided into the amount of fines recovered.
– -But how much does it cost to get that Si 8? That is what worries mc;
– There might be a few costs on top of that. I would seek costs if I was prosecuting. You get the costs of issuing the process, you may get counsel’s fee, I do not know. It depends on the jurisdiction but if you got a counsel’s fee I think it would be worth only a couple of guineas.
– Do not give me that.
– I am informed that departmental officers prosecute and therefore no costs are involved. There is not much risk. Senator Murphy then said - I agree somewhat with him - that a man might be a consistent offender and eventually the magistrate gets tired of Citizen X coming back for the fourth or fifth time and he sends the offender to gaol. If a person comes back for the fourth or fifth time I think it is reasonable to assume that he has been served with the previous four or five summonses by post at his proper address and has either neglected to appear or has appeared and pleaded guilty. I doubt whether the prosecution would prosecute a man for the second time without having enforced the fine for the first offence. I think that is reasonable. By the time a person becomes a’ long time offender and is running up against the possibility of imprisonment, he knows that he has been fined previously and most likely has paid those fines. I doubt whether any administrative officer would continue to issue prosecutions without being able to enforce the penalty on earlier prosecutions. That is ludicrous. I doubt whether departmental officers operate in that direction.
While acknowledging Senator Cavanagh’s theoretical approach and his speech from the heart I think that we should live with reality. Although he might say that we are the great law makers or the great law givers and all the rest of it, we live in a practical society and we are expected to be practical people. It is of no use coming into this place and being full of airy fairy jurisprudence. After all, the people who send us here - our electors - live in the world. They live in a practical atmosphere and we must adopt a practical attitude.
– They will live in gaol before you are finished with them.
– Again you are not being practical. Over a period of 29 years not one person has been imprisoned. Why should persons all of a sudden be imprisoned for this offence? I have some knowledge of the law and 1 doubt very much whether a magistrate exists - and if he did, whether he would continue to exist - if he sentenced a first offender on this offence to 6 months imprisonment. The conviction would be either set aside on an order nisi to review or the magistrate’s commission would be set aside. I think that would be the most likely result. 1 cannot imagine any circumstances in which a first offender, or even a second offender, would be given the maximum imprisonment penalty for which the Act provides.
– This does not relate only to first offenders, does it?
– You possibly were out of the chamber when I said that I cannot imagine that the person who has four, five or six offences and who might then become liable to imprisonment has not known that he has been convicted of prior offences and has paid the penalty, so he k knows that he is starting to live dangerously.
– But he does not know that there is a trial pending on this one, which may be the one on which he is innocent.
– We cannot always deal with the thought of how many angels can dance on the point of a needle. As I said before, while doing our utmost in this chamber to protect the rights of the individual, I do not think there is an honourable senator who does not believe in those rights. We must be practical men dealing with the practical affairs of the nation. You cannot expect laws to deal with every possible theoretical eventuality which may face us. All we can rely on is the experience of 29 years during which no person, to the best of the Department’s knowledge, has ever been imprisoned for this offence. From that I think it is reasonable to assume that it is fairly unlikely that a person will suffer this penalty in the future. I think it is reasonable for the Senate to act on that supposition and to support the Bill as proposed to be amended.
– Senator Withers’ remarks illustrate very well the problem before the Committee. He said that as far as he could ascertain no-one for 29 years has been sentenced to imprisonment for this offence and, therefore, it is reasonable to have this kind of service with the safeguards with which the Government is satisfied but with which we are not satisfied. Our proposals for amendment are not the same as are the Government’s. Indeed, in listening to the debate I do not think the safeguards suggested by the Government are anywhere near adequate. lt seems to me on reflection this evening that the error in this matter has been that we are applying a simple convenient method of service of summons in an area where it ought not to go at all. As I recall the law, offences are divided into two categories for the purpose that we are considering tonight. Those 2 categories are criminal offences and what are known as civil offences. This terminology is not very often used nowadays, but it was used very often in England back in the times of the famous Bradlough. These civil offences were ones where a penalty was imposed which was a pecuniary penalty, but there was no imprisonment put either as an alternative, as is provided here, or in default. It was a simple pecuniary penalty. These were known as civil offences. That is how I understand the categorisation of them.
– Distress might be a word of similar import.
– Well, these were offences known as civil offences. I think that there are some in this very enactment. What ought to have been done here is that the law ought to have been changed. If for 29 years we have had an offence on the statute books which no court has seen fit to regard as requiring imprisonment, imprisonment ought not to be provided in the law. It might make things a lot easier for everyone if this were to be regarded in the context that there was a money penalty and there was a money penalty only; there was no alternative to imprisonment. If the pattern is to be laid down - as it no doubt will because we see, these things, as I said, first set out in one law and then, carried over into many others - f would think that this is the basis upon which it ought to be adopted and applied, lt ought not be be applied where there is a penalty of imprisonment and where that penalty can be applied at al). I would suggest that point for the consideration of the Government.
Having said that, 1 think, Mr Temporary Chairman, that we ought to deal with this matter by adopting … the amendments - as 1 understand it, 3 amendments - which are proposed by the Government. I refer to the first 3 amendments on the list circulated by the Government. This could be done without delay. We could move on then to deal with the other amendments in sequence. We will see what happens on the voting. I think that the matter might be able to be resolved one way or another according to how the voting goes on the subsequent clauses.
Amendments agreed to.
– I would like to move amendment No. 4, as circulated. Do you have another amendment, Senator McClelland?
– In this regard, 1 think our amendment would come before the amendment to be moved by the Government.
– Is that the ruling of the Chair? My amendments have been foreshadowed. This is why I want a ruling. I do riot want to stop Senator McClelland. I am not . trying to do that.
– Our amendments were foreshadowed too.
– Senator McClelland’s land’s amendment occurs earlier iti the clause. I call Senator McClelland.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I move:
Having regard to the discussion that has proceeded in Committee- for the last hour and three-quarters, I think that there is very little reason for me to amplify my comments in this regard. I merely say a few words in reply to something that was said by Senator Greenwood and something that I think was said by interjection by another Government senator. J was interested to hear Senator Greenwood say that the amendments proposed by the Government to this clause are the result of deliberations that took place between certain Government backbenchers and the Executive itself. Apparently some backbench members of the Government were concerned about this type of legislation. I think that I heard a Government member say that the Opposition did not allude to any of this material during the course of the second reading debate.
– 1 said there had been no allusion in the second reading speech delivered by Senator McClelland to the matters that we have been discussing for the last hour and a half.
– But it was all embracing so far as having misgivings about the type of legislation is concerned. I certainly did not hear the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) in this place, when moving the 3 earlier amendments, allude to any discussions that might have taken place between the Executive and backbench members of the Government.
– Why did she have to?
Greenwood therefore assumes apparently -
– I can endorse all that Senator Greenwood has said.
– 1 am not doubting it. I commend Senator Greenwood and those who might have been with him for interesting themselves in this legislation. But for the honourable senator automatically to infer that we must know all that goes on behind the scenes and look into a crystal ball is quite unfair. I would have thought that it would have been quite presumptuous on the part of the Opposition to assume that - these amendments intending to tidy up the legislation were brought forward as a result of backbench influence because in proposing the amendments the Minister did nol utter one word about having been approached by backbench members of the Government. However, if certain Government backbenchers have been able to persuade the Executive to yield, even only slightly, from the original stand of the Government, I certainly commend Senator Greenwood and those others who might have knocked on the Minister’s door. But why has this amendment which was proposed by the Opposition a week ago been watered down by the Government in its amendment to be put after the Opposition’s amendment is voted upon? We say that the great bulk of people who are dealt with under these provisions for not having a wireless licence or a television viewers’ licence are dealt wilh only because of a lapse of memory or because of some family circumstance. Someone might be overseas; someone might be an itinerant worker - for instance, a shearer - who is away from home for anything up to 6 months. I would think that undoubtedly the great bulk of the 20,959 people to whom Senator Greenwood referred would not be deliberate lawbreakers. They would be people who were dealt with merely because in the main they have had a lapse of memory or because of some family circumstance. For such people to be convicted and restricted in their right of appeal certainly does not accord with my sense of justice. Therefore, in dealing with these people, 1 think that, although no-one has yet been sent to gaol for the offence, as Senator Withers said, a number of people have been fined - and some could have been fined quite heavily up to an amount of S200 each - we should ensure that these people should have the right at any time after the date of the conviction to move to have the summons set aside. Therefore, if the Government backbenchers who have expressed to the Government some concern about the untidiness of this part of the legislation and asked for amendments to be moved by the Government at this late stage are in fact concerned about the right of the individual citizen and the liberty of the subject, they should certainly be prepared to go all the way with the amendment that I have moved on behalf of the Opposition. I believe that the amendment that we have proposed will protect the Australian citizen to a considerable degree - much more so than the amendment proposed to be moved very shortly by the Minister.
– Clause 17 of the Bill provides for service to be effected by registered post and for this purpose it inserts a new section 132a into the principal Act. Subsection (4.) of proposed section 132a provides what I said earlier was a necessary corollary to all these provisions, lt provides a procedure whereby a person who does not receive the summons or letter for some reason or other can have his conviction, which has been recorded in his absence, set aside. This sort of provision must be as generous as can be and I do not think there is any question about that.
What is provided in the proposed subsection is, firstly, where a person has been charged with, and convicted by a court of, a prescribed offence, which is a matter that has been referred to before and is set out in the section; secondly, where the person did not appear before the court on the hearing of the charge; thirdly, where the evidence before the court of the service requiring him to appear before the court is that which is carried out by posting to him a registered letter; and fourthly, where application is made to the court within 2 years after the date of conviction by the person himself or by an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department for the conviction to be set aside on the ground that the person did not receive a copy of the summons, or did not receive a copy of the summons by such a date as would have given to him a reasonable time to comply with the summons, and that ground is established to the satisfaction of the court, the court may set aside the conviction.
As I understood Senator McClelland, he has moved that instead of the words within 2 years after the date of the conviction’, as being the period within which the application to the court must be made by the person or by a representative of the Postmaster-General’s Department, there should be inserted ‘at any time after the conviction’. On the face of it that seems to bc generous because it gives the widest possible right to a person to apply. I should have thought that there was much to be said for that. However, as one of my colleagues said earlier, I think there must be a balance of convenience. After all, there is the situation that one can postulate of a person 20, 30, 40 or 50 years after the date of conviction saying that he wants to die without a conviction being recorded against him. He may go along to the court and say: ‘In the year 1970 I was convicted; 30 years have now passed and I want that conviction set aside. I never received a notification of the offence.’
– He has to satisfy the court.
– Perhaps 1 should explain that I am referring to a person who will go to the court and will say on oath that he did not receive a summons or letter requiring him to appear before the court. The magistrate before whom the application comes has to decide whether this person is telling the truth. What reason has he to suppose that the person who stands there before him telling a story on oath is not telling the truth? He may feel that there is a lot of suspicion about what has occurred. He may feel that it is a story which is just too convincing and too persuasive to bc true. But he has to make a decision. What can the PostmasterGeneral or a representative of his Department do? Normally he could say: Here is the record in the. files of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of the affidavit which was sworn by the officer of the Department who posted the letter or caused it to be posted. Here is the record kept by the Postmaster-General’s Department of the persons who signed for the registered letters which were delivered at various houses and from these it would appear that there was service of the documents.’
In those circumstances one must suppose that a magistrate faced with the hypothetical situation that I have mentioned would resolve in favour of the view that after this lapse of time he was not prepared to say that the person had not received a letter containing a copy of the summons. If he should find that way it would he because there was contradicting documentary evidence. The real problem’ is .that the documentary evidence is disposed of 3 years after the events have occurred. I have made inquiries and have > ascertained that according to the directions and authorities which the Postmaster-General’s Department has, after a 3-year period - it may be after 2 years, but 1 am not sure - the documents which contain records of the interviews and the inspector’s notes of what he discovered and all the documents of service are destroyed. Therefore, after 3 years there would be no ability to bring forward any competing contradictory evidence. It seems to me that that raises a question of the balance of convenience.
What the proposed legislation contains at the moment is a provision that a person must apply within 2 years after the date of conviction. The Opposition says that he should be able to apply at any time after the date of conviction. The Government proposes, after this amendment has been decided, to ask the Committee to agree to an amendment which says that words be added so that the provision will read: within 2 years after the date of conviction or within such further period as the court allows’. In that way a person would nol be shut out from seeking to have a conviction set aside, but he would be put to the trouble, after the 2-year period had elapsed, of showing to a court that he could establish the ground that he did not receive the letter, lt would enable him to state his case, to explain his reasons as to why .’le had not applied earlier, and it would be open to the Postmaster-General’s Department, or whoever conducted the case on behalf of the repondent, to adduce evidence or arguments as to why the person should not be allowed to have his application heard.
One can only speculate and suppose that after a lapse of some 20 or 30 years it would be very difficult for a person to have the matter re-opened. If it were a matter of 6 months, 12 months or 2 years after the initial 2-year period had expired, I imagine there would have to be very cogent considerations advanced by the respondent as to why the applicant should not be able to have the matter heard. But the point is that the matter would be in the hands of the court.
– Surely in that period there would be a concerted effort to find him, if he had been found guilty, because either a fine or a term of imprisonment would have been imposed upon him. The law would be seeking him in the 2-year period, anyway.
– I think what the honourable senator says is right, but 1 do not concede that after a lapse of 29 years a term of imprisonment would be still outstanding.
– He would have been informed that a fine had been imposed.
– I agree with the point made by the’ honourable senator, but nevertheless the person may not be found readily. To use Senator McClelland’s earlier example, he may be an itinerant worker who has left ‘home, or he may be living at odds with his wife and the documents might never come to his attention. After a period there would be a lapse when no-one sought to search him out and then, after a period, there might be within the Department a general, regular cleaning up of outstanding matters, at which time it would be recognised that this man had not paid his fine, lt might be 18 months or 2 years after the actual conviction before steps were taken to locate him. He might not be located for more than 2 years after the conviction.
I believe that it would be quite wrong for a person in those circumstances not to have the right to apply. But I consider that there must be some point at which we say that the right to apply no longer exists and we say: ‘Thereafter, if you want to apply you may certainly, do so, but it is in the court’s discretion as to . whether you are able to do so’. This is a very tricky situation. 1 suggest that what Senator McClelland has moved on behalf of the Labor Party goes much too far .in one direction. I believe that the general, purpose that he has in mind will be served by the amendment that the Government proposes to put forward after this amendment has been dealt with. Because I believe that Senator McClelland’s amendment goes too far and gives the respondent in a’ case in which an application is made after a long lapse of time no opportunity to adduce anything material to contradict a story which is told and which ought to be able to be contradicted, I consider that the amendment ought not to commend itself to the Committee.
– I suggest that we deal with the substance of the fourth amendment circulated on behalf of the Minister in dealing with this point. Alternatively, the Minister might move that amendment by leave now and we could discuss the 2 amendments together and determine Senator McClelland’s amendment first and then the Minister’s amendment. The 2 amendments touch exactly the same point, and the adoption of such a procedure would save extending the discussion, i rose to rupport what has been put by Senator McClelland. I do so for this reason: The time factor-
– Order! Does the Minister wish to seek leave to move her amendment now?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.2) - If it is necessary to ask for leave to move my amendment now, I will ask for it. I would like to move the amendment formally and then to speak briefly to it.
Minister is seeking leave to move her amendment now for the purpose of having the 2 amendments considered together. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I now move:
In proposed section 132a (4.)(d), after the word conviction’, insert the words ‘or within such further period as the court allows’.
If T speak to this amendment now, I think it will help me in replying to the Opposition’s amendment. As has been said earlier tonight, a number of Government senators were concerned about this clause of the Bill and they have given it a great deal of thought. Because of their concern, the Government wishes to amend this clause in the manner in which 1 have indicated.
The effect of this amendment is to empower the court to extend the period of 2 years - honourable senators will notice that the Bill uses the words ‘where application is made to the court within 2 years after the date of the conviction - within which an application may be made to set aside a conviction on the ground that the offender was not served with a copy of the summons. The Government is satisfied that some reasonable time limit - I emphasise the word ‘reasonable’ - should be imposed upon such applications but, in order to avoid any injustice that might arise from an absolute limit, proposes that the court be given a discretion to extend that period if the circumstances so warrant. I suggest that all these amendments moved by the
Government show the very real concern of members of the Government parties who have studied this clause of the Bill. I answer the amendment - moved by the Opposition by moving my own amendment. In so doing, I reject the Opposition’s amendment.
– For the reasons indicated by Senator Little, it is obvious that in most cases the length of time will depend upon what, action is taken by the Government or the PostmasterGeneral. In other words, in a case in which a person had been convicted, in his absence and without his knowledge and then the Postmaster-General endeavoured to collect the fine, no doubt as soon as it was brought to the person’s notice he would move to have the conviction set aside, if he had the means to do so, lt would be in cases in which the Postmaster-General did not proceed for a long time that the person would not apply for a long time. Why should he be disadvantaged by the slowness of the Government in bringing to his notice the fact that he was. convicted in his absence and without his knowledge? That seems to be a rather extraordinary proposition.
Then there is the case in which it was not the Postmaster-General’s fault. Let us suppose that the person was overseas.
– The Government might be showing solicitude in not pursuing him in order to recover the fine..
– One would think that nevertheless the Government would bring it to the person’s notice and that if it was brought to his notice. he would move. Why should he be penalised because the Government took so long to bring the matter to his notice? One would think that the Government ought to agree with what we are suggesting here because the person in the situation that Senator McClelland’s amendment envisages is one who has been charged and convicted of a prescribed offence, he did not appear at the hearing, the summons was served by registered post and he satisfies the court that he did not receive it or did not receive it in time. That has to be established to the satisfaction of the court. If there were just competing documents, I suppose the court would not be satisfied. Because he has the onus of satisfying the court, if he is able to do that, why should it matter whether the period involved is 12 months, 5 years or, for that matter, 30 years?
Let us suppose that it is another Winslow Boy case. Let us suppose that it is a case of someone who, after 30 years, discovers that he was convicted in his absence. He is prepared to go along to the court and he can satisfy the court that he did not receive the summons and that the matter was dealt with in his absence and without his knowledge. Why should not he be able to apply?
– The tribunal would have to be satisfied.
– The tribunal has to be satisfied, yes.
– The prosecution should not be deprived of its opportunity to sustain the conviction.
– That is so; but the man applies and he satisfies the court that the procedures which were envisaged-
– He presents a case.
– Yes, but he satisfies the court that the procedures which were envisaged, in fact, did not work out, that he was convicted in his absence and without his knowledge and that he did not receive the summons. Why should not he be able to apply whatever the time? In substance, we are dealing with the case of a person convicted contrary to natural justice. The man has not had the opportunity to be heard. Are we going to put time limits on natural justice? That is what it amounts to. One honourable senator said that 20,959 people were convicted under these provisions. With this easy method of serving summonses, many more people will be convicted. Perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 ordinary citizens will be convicted. Many of them will fall into this category. There will be hundreds of ordinary citizens each year in this category.
It is bad enough that in order to have the conviction set aside they should have to make an application to the court; but, if the relevant time happens to be more than 2 years after the conviction, under the Government’s amendment they will be able to make application only within such further period as the court allows. So, it looks as though they will have to make 2 appli cations. Firstly, they will have to go to the court and say: ‘It is more than 2 years since 1 was convicted, but I would like you to extend the period. Will you give permission for me to make an application to the court?’ Is it really reasonable that an ordinary citizen should have (o make 2 applications?
– lt would be like an application for leave to appeal in which the substance of the appeal is heard on the application.
– lt may be.
– It would be done on the same day.
– It may be. If that is to be done, does not it mean that the person may make an application at any time? If the contention is that the appeal would be heard on the same day, why should the provision not be that he could make application at any time? He could go along to a court and it would decide whether all the conditions- were satisfied - that he was convicted in his absence, that he did not receive the summons and in effect was deprived of natural justice. Those conditions must be established to the satisfaction of a court. Why should he have to make 2 applications and why should all this nonsense be included in the Bill if the appeal is, to. be heard on the same day as the application? Why not let him make his application at any time?
I am pleased to see honourable senators opposite recoil at the thought that 2 applications have to be made.’They are repelled by the idea but they concede that the 2 applications are necessary. They say that the application for leave to appeal and the appeal will probably be heard on the same day. They may or may not be heard on the same day. The Postmaster-General may say: ‘My people are busy, You go along to the court and if you get the period extended we will see about it. We might turn up next time or we might arrange for the matter to go on. We will not bother to be there when you are outside the 2-year period and we will not bring witnesses. You get your time extended and we will consider whether we. will, come along with witnesses.’ I make a shrewd guess that the application and the appeal would be heard on separate days.
– May I pose a question? What deterrent is there to a person who knows that all PMG records are destroyed after 3 years that will stop him going to the court and telling any sort of story just lo get a conviction set aside? He knows that no-one can say anything against him.
– There is the l;>w of perjury.
– But how could it ever be proved against him?
– That argument could be applied to a multitude of instances, lt has to be presumed that in these circumstances a man who goes to a court will be telling the truth. The law attends to that situation through the Crimes Act and provision for prosecution for perjury. This matter should not be approached on the basis that people will commit perjury. If they commit perjury they are liable for the consequences. If the Government is reduced to that argument to resist what Senator McClelland is submitting it is in a very poor position indeed. It has to be presumed that the law will be observed. The conditions have to be established to the satisfaction of a court. 1 suggest that commonsense indicates that Senator McClelland’s amendment should be accepted. Two applications to a court should not have to be made. For the very sound reasons I have given the two hearings would probably be held on different days. I would not think that the Postal Department would go along to court and bc prepared vo fight a case involving a person who had not yet received the permission of a court to make an application.
This is a small matter in which a citizen may have a smalt fine imposed upon him. Nevertheless, a conviction would be recorded. A person may claim that he has been denied natural justice and he ought to have an opportunity to rectify the injustice. On the point of the balance of convenience, we are asked to change the law significantly to enable the Postal Department to save perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars by a different method of service and to allow citizens to be prosecuted most conveniently to the Department. All we are saying in the few cases where it goes wrong, or where citizens contend that it has gone wrong, is: Let them apply to a court. Do not put a time limit and say that after 2 years they cannot have natural justice unless they make a special application to a court to hear their claims that the conviction ought to be set aside.
– I think Senator Murphy’s solicitude in this matter does him credit, but he knows better than I do of very many instances of court procedures in which a notice of appeal is in fact treated as the appeal itself. Senator Murphy knows from his own experience in the High Court that it is quite customary on a hearing of an application for leave to appeal for the appeal itself to bc heard.
– But that provision is not included in the Bill or in the proposed amendment.
– Wait a moment. I gave you a very free hearing. Senator Murphy knows that that is a common practice in legal circles. I go further and say that these proceedings would normally be heard in courts of petty sessions, magistrates’ courts or the equivalent courts in other States, known by different names. At present in Victoria there are certain provisions in respect of re-hearings. On an application for re-hearing the law states that the actual re-hearing may take place on the day on which a re-hearing is granted. So all this nonsense about 2 application ‘s rather irrelevant. On the point of natural justice, as I understand the proposed amendment a defendant has an absolute right lo have the conviction set aside if within 2 years he satisfies the conditions set out in sub-section 4 of proposed section 132a. It seems only reasonable that after a lapse of 2 years some form of onus should bc placed upon an applicant to establish his bona fides. The legislation contains very generous provisions for rehearing and in the circumstances Senator Murphy seems to me to be straining at gnats and swallowing a camel in pursuing the line he has taken. I support the proposed amendment.
– The discussion taking place in this chamber tonight is by no means unique here. It highlights what is becoming a definite dichotomy between 2 points of view on these matters. The same situation has been discussed in relation to the right of entry and search provided in legislation for the poultry industry. The points of view taken on that occasion were the balance between the facilitation of administration and the rights of individuals. The same sort of principle has been discussed here in relation to the fixation of the salaries and allowances of high ranking officers of public corporations. Tonight we have heard it again. This definite division manifests itself whenever this principle or a mutation of it comes before the Senate for discussion.
There is no final solution. Some individuals participating in the debate will say: ‘It is important that we facilitate the administration, and providing we can give reasonably adequate protection to the rights of the individual, well and good.’ On the other hand, some will say: ‘It is most important that we give protection to the rights of individuals and then we shall attempt within that circumscription to facilitate public administration.’ Where the emphasis lies, on one side or the other, does not warrant any final conclusion. The same situation is illustrated tonight by the proposal of the Government and the suggestion put forward by Senator McClelland.
I merely make the point that it is the province of public administration to see that the law is observed. If prosecutions are launched and convictions recorded the department involved has a responsibility to justify those convictions if they are challenged. Let us take the position that there is an indefinite and indeterminate right of appeal. There would be a very firm obligation on the Department concerned which served a summons and launched a prosecution in this way, and had seen a conviction recorded, if it is then faced with the infinite possibility of an appeal to preserve all the records in that case. That would have to be done. Over a period of years one would not know in which cases challenges and appeals were going to lie so those records would have to be kept for 10, 20, 30. 40 or 50 years. Again this is a matter of where one places the emphasis. Is the possibility of injustice so remote as not to warrant that, or is it so proximate as to justify the heavy administrative burden which consequently would be imposed? As I say, there is no final solution.
Senator Murphy in good faith arrived at a conclusion. Senator Greenwood with equally good faith arrived at a contrary conclusion. I would place myself in the same position. I have considered this. The Government by the presentation of this amendment has shown that its attitude is Well, we are trying to facilitate the general administration and we are trying to provide reasonably adequate safeguards for the rights of individuals which might otherwise be the subject of public trespass.’ The Administration says: ‘We think that there must be an end to the ability to appeal, that common sense dictates it and public administration warrants such limitations on the right of appeal. After a reasonable period of time the right would lie only by leave.’ It appears that that is not an unreasonable compromise between the 2 situations. I suppose like every honourable senator I have some doubt as to where the emphasis should be put. Two amendments have been proposed which attempt to deal with this position. Both recognise the need for some protection for the individual but. again, (he question is on which side the emphasis should lie. We feel that here the emphasis should lie in the amendment proposed by the Government. We think it adequately meets, so far as human ingenuity can. the fair demands of public administration and provides as fair a protection for the rights of individuals as can be devised in these circumstances. For that reason the Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the Government’s amendment.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McClelland’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.27) -1. move:
In proposed section )32a (4.), leave out the word ‘may’, insert the word ‘shall’.
This is quite a simple amendment. It relates to the setting aside of a conviction and provides that where a court is satisfied that the grounds of the application asked to be set aside have been established the court shall, not may, set aside the conviction. 1 ask the Senate to support the amendment which I have moved.
– The Australian Labor Party agrees with this amendment. We do not oppose it.
– I shall speak very briefly about this amendment. I have certain reservations about it. I support it but I simply wish to express the view that 1 wonder whether this is setting a precedent which should be followed without further consideration and thought. I wonder whether in similar instances some consideration should be given to the proper use of the words ‘may’ and ‘shall’; whether they are an interference with the judicial discretion and the judicial power and whether it is appropriate for the Parliament to prescribe in that way what action shall be taken by a court. A number of questions arise but I do not wish to deal with them at this time of night. I support the amendment. I simply raise the question so that it is on record for consideration.
– Could you see any situation in which the court would refuse, in the circumstances?
– I do not at the moment. I simply raise it for consideration at some future time.
– In the light of all the circumstances and in view of what has been said about the clause, and in particular because the amendment moved by the Opposition was rejected, the Opposition proposes to vote against this clause but will not divide the Committee.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– Before dealing with the title I propose to move a number of amendments. They are being circulated at the moment. The Opposition proposes the insertion of some new clauses. If necessary I will ask leave to move the amendments in the form in which they are circulated. The intention is to insert the amendments in the appropriate places. I thank the draftsman from the Postmaster-General’s Department for his assistance. While the amendments are being circulated I might indicate their purport to the Committee. It is intended that the members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the Commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the General Manager, who is not one of the ordinary officers but is specifically exempted from that category, should have their salaries and allowances determined not by the Governor-General but as Parliament provides, and have their other allowances as are prescribed. The amendments will be moved in accordance with the decisions of my Party in regard to other matters and the decisions of the Senate on this subject. Honourable senators may recall that the Senate amended the provisions of 5 or 6 Bills last year in exactly this way except that I think the Senate said that the date should be 1st January 1971.
– On other occasions you refused to do this.
– I think that was because we assumed the Government had got the message and would do this itself. Each of the amendments that were moved was accepted by the Government in the House of Representatives. It seems appropriate to me that this should be done in respect of this Bill. I therefore seek the leave of the Committee to move these 3 amendments together and in the form in which they are circulated.
– Is leave granted?
– I move:
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.35) - These amendments have just been presented to us. I think I should consult the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), and therefore I suggest that progress be reported.
Debate resumed from 17 February (vide page 113), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill to amend the Australian National University Act provides for certain changes in the constitution of the Council of the University. It adds the President of the Australian National University Students Association as an ex officio member of the Council and increases the non-professorial representation of the academic staff of the Institute of Advanced Studies and School of General Studies from one member each to two members each.
The question that arises for the Senate when considering this Bill is whether the representation is sufficient. The University Council also recommended a further undergraduate representative, but Government supporters stated in their speeches on this Bill that the Government believed that having regard to the nature and composition of the Council and its methods of operation the measures the Government proposed would be adequate so far as undergraduate students were concerned. There are problems at universities throughout the world. Everywhere there is discontent among university populations about the conduct of universities and the way they are controlled, about the contents of courses and about the very nature of the institutions. This is a remarkable phenomenon of our age.
– Students are getting too much, too easily and too cheaply.
- Senator Gair says, from his advanced position, that they are getting too much,tooeasily and too cheaply. This always has been the way in which reactionary persons in society-
– The university of hard knocks has produced the best men we ever had.
- Senator Gair says that from his point of view the university of hard knocks hasalways produced the best men. That is how the students of Australia are regarded by people such as Senator Gair. I have no doubt he thinks that sincerely and that he holds that view extremely firmly. But the world has changed since Senator Gair was a young man. There has been a tremendous change in technology and that change has produced great industrial changes. They have swept us from a rural society to a secondary industry society and now into one which is clearly tertiary even if not, as some even suggest, a quaternary society.
– What kind is that?
– I suppose it is the kind in which you and I are not likely to be operating, lt may be that it is the special kind of service society - the society of computers and special services performed by people. However, the categorisation is not important. What is important is that this new society is making tremendous demands upon our young people, lt has meant that for the first time we have herded into universities more students than ever before. They are studying all kinds of subject, including the humanities, the sciences and the application of those sciences, in a way in which those subjects have never been studied before. The world has never before seen such student populations. Young people have never been kept together in such numbers and for such times.
Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the demands made upon the institutions will be quite different from what they have experienced previously. Universities of 100 years ago or even 30 years ago would be appropriate, by accident only, to meet the kinds of demands which are being made now. The administrators and the professors are well aware of the changing demands and of what needs to be done. Everywhere there seems to be regard for the principle that those who are affected by decisions - whether in industry, whether in institutions such as this Parliament or whether in the universities - should have some say in the making of the decisions. The demand for participation in the making of decisions is widespread throughout the world and is irresistible. The Senator Gairs of this world, however well meaning, will not be able to stop that surge of demand. Our universities will change. The increase in representation suggested by the University Council is only the beginning. I think we will see that more and more those in such institutions will be having much more to say in how they are run.
– Those who pay for them should also retain some say.
– I think that is a reasonable suggestion. The University Council has put a very moderate proposal. It says that it knows the problems and that it wants a certain number of students on the Council. The Government sees fit to say that it will not have that number but that it will have one less. Is that reasonable? If a body of men selected to run the University says that it wants this representation of students on the Council, why on earth should the Government say that it will not give what the Council is asking but that it will give one less? Is that a reasonable approach to the way in which what should be an autonomous body is conducted?
– Do you give a child a clock to play with when he asks for it? Of course you do not. You would give it an unbreakable spoon or something like that.
– I think that what you are saying illustrates your approach to the Australian National University; you would regard it as a child and you would not give it a clock to play with. You would not give the Council the representation of students that it asked for. That is an autocratic approach on the part of the Government. Some senators and some members of the other place are on the Council. My understanding is that they all support the Council’s viewpoint. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) may correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that they support the viewpoint that the Council should have the representation of students which it seeks. Why should this request not be granted? Is this the way Australia seeks to deal with the problem of law and order and of student unrest? The Council seeks to deal with this problem in a way which is being used all over the world. It is seeking to bring the students into the Council, to make them parties to decisions and to make them understand the problems of the administration of the University as well as their own problems. Surely this request should he acceded to. We have had no real explanation as to why the Government does not agree with the University Council. I would like to hear the Minister explain why the Government says that the University Council is wrong. Surely it should know its own business. If it is not able to make a proper decision on matters of this nature, one would think that it is not fit to run a university. I think the Senate should have confidence in those who operate the University, in those who have made this decision and in those who represent this Parliament on the University Council and I think the proposal should be agreed to.
That brings me to the relationship of the Government and of this Parliament to the University. It seems to me that the University should have more autonomy than it has; it should not be placed in its unduly subordinate position to the government of the day. It is the National University and it is in the Australian Capital Territory. By its enactment it has power to make various statutes. They are called statutes. They are the regulations or the ordinances of the University. I would think that those statutes should be treated as other ordinances made in this Territory are. Insofar as they make law, they should be gazetted, tabled here and subject to disallowance by the Parliament, in the same way as other ordinances are. Important decisions affecting many persons who might wish to eater the University are made. The public has an interest in what takes place so far as the delegated legislation of the University is concerned. The appropriate way for Parliament to be involved in supervising the activities of the University should be the traditional way. We should allow the University to make its own laws, provided those laws are subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament.
I do not think it is right that the laws made by the University should be subject to the scrutiny of the Government only and should not be subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. I do not think the University should be excepted. If Parliament were able to scrutinise the statutes, the supremacy of Parliament would be preserved and I think the autonomy of the University would be enhanced. I would suggest, for the consideration of the Minister, that some action be taken in that direction. Perhaps before the matter is dealt with again the Government might give some consideration to those observations.
There are some other matters referred to in the Bill but I think that the critical matter with which we should be concerned is that the Government has seen fit to refuse the request of the University, and that is why I have addressed my remarks to the Bill. The other matters have been dealt with shortly, but apparently adequately, in the speech of the Minister and I do not propose to allude to them specifically. Senator Gair has indicated that he is concerned about student unrest. Those who are in the position of having to deal with the students ought not to be denied what they think is the appropriate way of doing so.
– How did they treat Zelman Cowen and his wife when they went to Queensland?
– Surely persons such as Professor Cowen, administrators and high officers of a university, ought not to be denied the request which they are making, that student representation be increased in the manner in which they have suggested in order to be able to deal with these problems before they arise. The Parliament, which has the ultimate responsibility, ought to grant the University’s request, and T ask the Senate to agree to it at the appropriate time.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill. We believe in the principle of representation of the students, and the Government proposes to give representation to students in the degree of two. But it is the wish of the Opposition, I understand, that there be an increase in that number. I have listened very carefully to what Senator Murphy had to say. I have not heard him say anything which would convince me that the Government has not done as much as is desirable or necessary at the moment in giving representation to 2 persons from the student body. I may say that if we are to give students representation in the running of our universities - and that is something which is being increasingly called for by student bodies - we are entitled to expect from those student bodies a more responsible attitude than many of them are taking up at the present time.
There is a test of the responsibility of the student bodies in this city in the action which they may take themselves in regard to the pornographic publication ‘Woroni’ which has been issued ostensibly as the official organ of the students of the Australian National University. I have described this organ as ‘disgustingly pornographic’. There was a similar case involving the same publication 3 or 4 years ago. On that occasion, as on this occasion, I made a plea to the student body to take action themselves. On that occasion the student body of the Australian National University met and, by vote, the students removed from office those who were responsible for that pornographic publication. I think it is a test of the students in Canberra as to whether they are prepared to do the same thing again. Every student is compelled to contribute to the cost of the publication, but no student should be compelled to contribute to the publication of a magazine such as that which, in my view, was an insult to the university and an insult to many of the students who were called upon to contribute to it and to read it. Therefore, if we are to be called upon to give to the student body representation in the organisation and the conduct of our universities, I repeat that they have got to show themselves to be responsible.
There were references in the Press to the effect that I felt the police should take action. I am sorry that the Press did not report exactly what I said. I said, first of all, that in my view it was the job of the student body to deal with that particular publication and the persons responsible for it. Then I said that if the students did not do it it was the duty of the university authorities to take action. I went on to say that I think it is deplorable that in so few cases in this country of ours university authorities are prepared to stand up to the kind of conduct which some people regard as permissive but which 1 would describe as larrikinism. Therefore, I believe that the job of dealing with the publication Woroni’ is that of the students. They should take action and remove from office the editor and those who assisted him. But if they are not prepared to do it then the authorities of the National University should have sufficient regard for the good fame of their institution to take action themselves against these people.
When the heads of the National University say that it is a matter for the police they are themselves disregarding what is their own obvious duty. Why have a University Council if, when you get an instance of conduct such as this, it tries to duck-shove it on to the police and the Government? What is the Council there for? These people are put on the Council of the university to see that the affairs of the university are conducted in a manner which entitles it to be called a university. But are we to take it that these great institutions, which are supposed to be the fountains of intellectual progress in our community, are prepared to condone the kind of publication which has been produced in the last week and which in my opinion merited the severest action by the authorities of the university themselves? However, if the student body is not prepared to act and if the authorities are afraid, then the police must take action, and I. hope that the police will take action in this case.
My attitude to student representation is that 1 support it provided that the student body shows that it is a responsible body. What is the reason for giving representation to the student body if it indicates that it is not responsible? At some of our universities it has been successfully moved at meetings of the students that there shall be no student representative council, that every student in fact shall be a law unto himself and the small minorities can do as they like. Could we have any confidence in placing people in a position where they could exercise influence in the control of a university if those people showed themselves completely irresponsible and not prepared to take action in cases which have brought down upon their own university a feeling of disgust as far as the general community is concerned?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - 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.
– I wish to bring to the attention of the Senate and the Government 2 matters which I believe require urgent consideration. Last Tuesday week I raised by way of question the problems facing the fruit canning and the fresh fruit industries of Victoria, particularly in the Goulburn Valley and Harcourt Valley. I do not wish to repeat to the Senate the information which has been given to it already about the very drastic situation in which the pear growers whose fruit is canned find themselves, but I want to press again before the Government the problems of peach growers and the uneconomic prices they are receiving for their product which, in itself, could affect the present and future marketing prospects of our tremendous surplus of pears.
Peaches are in short supply in many of the world’s, markets where canned fruits are sold but pears can be obtained without any difficulty. T remind the Senate that overseas buyers will not purchase pears unless peaches are available al the same time. Unless peaches can be supplied this year and next year it will be even more difficult than it is to sell the quantity of canned pears- that we are selling now. Peach growers are reaching the stage at which they are prepared to grub out their trees. This could be disastrous because it will take at- least 10 years to re-establish them and there could be a further depletion in the supply of peaches in the years to come, so we will be further handicapped in our attempts to sell on the world’s markets the pears that we are capable of . producing as well as those already in store for next year. This could be a cumulative problem - if the Government does not give immediate attention to the uneconomic prices being paid to peach growers for their crops.
The other particularly urgent matter that I want to raise relates to growers of fresh fruit for export in the Harcourt Valley. They have struck seasonal troubles and climatic changes which have caused tremendous problems. In fact a lot of orchards already have gone out of production while others are in a very doubtful situation and are being assisted by their cooperative which has had to borrow large sums of money to assist the fruit growers in these months of dire necessity. They have to borrow money at the ordinary overdraft rates of interest. I recall that the Government, when it promoted in the Senate its proposal to increase interest rales, promised that primary industry, with all of its problems, would not be confronted with the increased interest rates. Incidentally, I did not agree with the Government’s justification for the increase. The growers are not borrowing direct; their co-operative is borrowing on their behalf. This is a matter which the Government could look at to see that the co-operatives are placed in a more favourable situation to borrow money at least at the rates of interest which apply to primary industry and thus give some relief to the fruit growers in the urgent and immediate problems with which they are confronted.
The next matter I wish to raise is entirely different, lt concerns industrial relations and inflation. There is an economy drive at present to help control the inflation that is current in the community. 1 point out to the Government that unnecessary aggravation in industrial situations which can cause stoppages of work in industries where stoppages hitherto have been unknown, can be more inflationary and aggravate the situation far more than wage increases or anything else. I am referring in particular to a situation that has developed amongst scientists who are employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. They include bacteriologists, biochemists, chemists, geologists, geophysicists, metallurgists, meteorologists, petroleum technologists, pharmacists and others. This is a very wide ambit of people who have not been in the practice of indulging in industrial stoppages to get economic justice in their professions. They are employed in a very wide range of departments including the Departments of Customs and Excise, Interior, Army, Supply, Works, Health and Primary Industry. Some are also employed at the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
These people have had claims awaiting decision since 1966. They have been dealt with in part and at one time they were on a parity with the engineers. That parity was upset in March 1969 when a 7) per cent increase in salary was offered to the scientists. They accepted this without prejudice to a claim they had made back in 1966 and which has not yet been decided. Following this in October 1969 the Public Service Board announced an increase of 11 per cent to IS per cent to professions which included engineers and experimental officers. These were people with whom the scientists had always been on a par until they had received the Ti per cent increase some 5 months before. Then the engineers gained an increase of from 1 1 per cent to J 5 per cent. Naturally that put the scientists in a situation where they wanted to press forward with the claims they had had before the Board since 1966 to bring them again to parity with the engineers. I have no wish to indulge in any speculation as to what a board properly constituted to hear a case such as this should or should not do with what evidence is submitted before it. The point I am pressing is that there should be a very early hearing because already the scientific people in Government departments are reaching a stage of impatience where they feel they will be forced to take extreme action, not necessarily to get what they want but to get a hearing of the case itself. That is the point 1 want to press to the Government. I think this is unnecessarily provocative and there must surely be some very important circumstances that could delay a hearing of the claims of people in these professions. I bring this matter to the Government’s attention as one I consider to be urgent.
– 1 am well aware of the situation to which the honourable senator referred because, if 1 recall correctly, on the first day of sitting of this sessional period he raised this matter with me in the form of a question, as other honourable senators have done. The situation of the fresh fruit growers in the Goulburn Valley is very serious from the producers’ point of view and the Government has taken certain action in this regard. The honourable senator is well aware that when interest rates rose last year special consideration was given to primary producers. But this is not the matter to which he refers at this- moment. When he asked the question last week I referred the matter to the Department of
Primary Industry for an answer. 1 have been advised tonight on checking with my Department that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is now being processed. Certain matters must be raised with Victoria before an answer can be given to the honourable senator. I hope that tomorrow or on the next day of the sitting I will be in a position to give the honourable senator some information.
– In answer to Senator Little, all 1 say is that the history of the engineers case and subsequent arbitrations in the Public Service with regard to scientists would, I think, be fairly well known. My understanding was that the present issue in relation to scientists was set down for hearing before the Public Service Arbitrator on 9th March. If that information is inaccurate in any way, I .shall seek to correct it at the earliest stage.
I am grateful to Senator Little for indicating lo us any possibility of real industrial unrest. But I do express the view very firmly that these things are better discussed not in the forum of public debate. 1 would have hoped that the honourable senator, before raising the matter here, had communicated his concern to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) or to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who are responsible for the administration of the tribunal concerned and the Public Service Board respectively. I repeat that I am grateful that the honourable senator has brought this- matter to our notice here. I shall have it examined by the Ministers concerned. If there is any reason, other than to correct the appointed date of hearing by the tribunal, for the Senate tQ take further notice of this matter I shall make a fuller statement at the earliest subsequent date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 February 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710224_senate_27_s47/>.