27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present from 72 citizens of Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Tasmania respectfully sheweth:
That due to the higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions are finding it extremely difficult lo live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of the Average Weekly Male Earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition so that our citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your Petitioners as in duly bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, ls it a fact that a survey compiled by the Department of Social Services has revealed that 50,000 pensioners are inadequately housed, most of them in hovels in the inner suburbs of our capital cities? If this is so, does it not emphasise the urgency of granting an immediate pension increase pending a total restructuring of our broken down and inedaquate social welfare system? If the survey is complete, will the Minister table it as soon as possible?
– lt was only as I came into the chamber that I saw a Press statement which, from its headline, would appear to be the article to which the honourable senator has referred. I shall certainly ask. the Minister for Social Services whether the facts are as reported and shall seek details of the matter. How ever, I think I should remind the honourable senator of what I have said on more than one occasion in this place, namely, that this Government has always been concerned about those pensioners, and particularly single age pensioners, who have no income other than their pensions and who have been paying exorbitant rents for very unastisfactory accommodation, lt was for this very reason that in the Budget session before last I introduced in the Senate legislation to provide dwellings for age pensioners. For the 5-year period from the passing of that legislation $25 m is being made available to the States for this purpose. This programme is going ahead and will assist (he people to whom the honourable senator has referred. The units which are already in occupation are assisting people who otherwise would be unable to get satisfactory accommodation at a price they could afford to pay from their pensions. Also T remind the honourable senator that through the Aged Persons Homes Act, under which the Government subsidises church and charitable organisations, great assistance has been given in this field. These are areas of need in which we are assisting and will continue to assist.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question. Has the Postmaster-General’s Department turned a blind eye to mail services by courier from Australia during the current British postal strike? Has any announcement been made that no action will be taken against couriers and senders under the Post and Telegraph Act? Has the Postmaster-General seen an advertisement in the Australian Press by people offering lo take letters to various -places in the United Kingdom for $3 to $4 per oz? Has any check been made on the bona fides of these advertisers? What guarantee, if any, is available that letters will be delivered by the people offering courier services to the United Kingdom?
– I have seen the statement in the Press to which the honourable senator refers. Having seen it, 1 have some information for him. The reply that 1 give him is that the Government has decided that for the currency of the British Post Office industrial dispute courier services from Australia will not result in any action being taken under section 98 of the Post and Telegraph Act. The answer to the second part of his question is yes. The answer to the third part is that no such guarantee is available and any arrangements so made are at the sender’s risk.
– J ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question. As the Government suggests that it is seriously concerned with the rising rate of inflation, although I cannot see how, with an expanding economy with full employment, an increasing population wilh an increasing demand for consumer goods and a population with little or no desire to work and of spendthrift habits in excessive gambling, drinking and smoking, we can avoid inflationary pressures, 1 simply ask the Prime Minister: Will he and his Government give serious and favourable consideration to bringing in a Bill to reduce parliamentary salaries by 10 per cent or lake steps to reduce other allowances by 20 per cent? I do not suggest that salaries and allowances are too high for members of Parliament of qualifications, energy and integrity: 1 am simply suggesting that we should set an example in saving to the business world and the community in general. 1 suggest that there are few, if any. substitutes for the old so-called virtues of hard work and thrift if we are to have a prosperous and contented nation.
– ] suppose that I could get my place in fame by giving one answer that 1 know of. But I simply say that, as I understand it, apart altogether from the opinions expressed. Senator Dittmer is asking that the Government give consideration to a reduction of parliamentary salaries and allowances, t suggest that the question go on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister received any reply to recent requests by South Australian senators that special financial arrangements again be considered to allow the sealing of the remaining unbitumenised section of the
Eyre Highway? Has his attention been drawn to a recent statement by Sir David Brand that the Commonwealth Government should help South Australia to seal the Highway and that such bitumenising would benefit Western Australia more than South Australia? Is it possible for the Commonwealth Minister tor Shipping and Transport to consider the aspect that in fact there will be further fatal accidents on this Highway and that the Comonwealth Government has some responsibility in minimising such accidents by all means available to the Department of Shipping and Transport?
– At the moment I do not have any answer for Senator Bishop from the responsible Minister, although the questions were directed to him the day they were addressed to me here. I have not seen a recent statement by Sir David Brand that if the Highway were bitumenised that would be of equal benefit to Western Australia and South Australia, but I shall look that up. I remember answering a previous question by the honourable senator about the accident rate on the Eyre Highway and expressing concern about it. I said then that J would direct the honourable senator’s comments to the responsible Minister. That was also clone. After question time today I will see whether answers are ready for those questions.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate, to whom [ direct my question, by now must be aware that the hours for attendance at the National Library have been reduced. Is this an austerity measure? Can the Minister explain and justify reduced availability of a facility which is so vital to the advancement of knowledge? Are we to take it that the Government intends to prune expenditure in the area of education and so depress the education system further? Would it not be to great advantage to curb the speculators and profiteers, or is the Government not prepared to lose their support?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIgnoring the last reference in the honourable senator’s question, I understand that the National Library is within the responsibility of the Presiding Officer. I will have to find out where the power for decision lies in respect of the National Library and then obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– Taking the answer a little further, the responsibility for the curtailment of the hours of the National Library is in the hands of the National Library Council. The action has been taken in accordance with the Government’s wishes. I do not think it will make all that much difference to the high intellectual standard of the people who use the National Library. The services will still be available io them.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate whether the Government’s famous austerity programme is also being directed towards the VIP aircraft fleet? Will he agree that a substantial cut in the size or the elimination of that fleet would meet with general popular approval?
The responsibility for the approval of the use of the VIP fleet is not within my portfolio. It is within the administration of the Minister for Air. As to the generality of the question, every application to use the VIP fleet has to be submitted to the Minister for Air and he makes a judgment on the application. Of course, that is not the case with the Prime Minister. In the normal course of events even the people on the list of those who may use the fleet must apply to the Minister for Air and he must exercise his judgment whether approval is appropriate.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to a somewhat alarming report in this morning’s Press that for economic reasons police overtime has been cut out in Victoria and that as a result some police stations are being closed and certain necessary police duties restricted? In view of the cardinal importance to the community of a properly paid and efficient police force, will the Minister consult with the Victorian Government and perhaps consider action under section 96 or whatever may be the correct constitutional provision to enable the emergency to be met?
I would have thought that decisions on the administration of the Victorian Police Force rest exclusively and entirely with the Victorian Government. I do not think there would be any mileage to be gained or any marks to be earned by the Commonwealth intervening and telling the Victorian Government how to conduct its affairs - indeed the administration of a particular department. Frankly, I think we have to accept that the Victorian Government has taken that decision after using its judgment.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether in view of the tremendous number of deaths and serious accidents occurring weekly on the Australian roads and the ever increasing advertisement by car manufacturers of the increased power and speed of their cars, the Government has ever considered the need for placing governors to limit speeds on each car, perhaps to 65 miles an hour? Buses have such devices installed. Would the Minister not agree that speed is the killer, be the drivers youthful or those who had loo much to drink? Should not drastic measures be taken to save the lives of our people?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has some overriding interest in this matter as chairman of the Road Transport Advisory Council. Whether that Council has’ directed its attention to putting governors on motor cars 1 cannot say. I shall see that the Minister receives Senator Fitzgerald’s suggestion. Yesterday the Minister expressed concern about the road accident situation and the need for safer cars to be built. I am sure we all agree .wilh everything Senator Fitzgerald has said about the need to diminish the accident rate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the Government has announced that it proposes to save $75m in a Budget of. over $7, 500m and as these astronomical, figures convey nothing to the housewife, would it be fair to say that the Government’s austerity Budget consists of saving one cent in the dollar? Does the Minister honestly believe that any housewife would regard such a saving as one of austerity?
I am amazed at the simplicity of the arithmetical equation which the honourable senator put to us. 1 am quite certain that if such a calculation were put to the housewife in this fashion it would not have any significance. But it does not mean what the honourable senator suggests. What it means is that there is a significant curtailment of Government expenditure of approximately $75m. What flows from it is the restraint which it will encourage, the example which it will set in the community at large in a free enterprise economy, and the benefit it will bring to the housewife and, in fact, to everybody who is confronted with the problem of inflation.
– Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question regarding the difference between the price of imported oil and the price per barrel of oil from Bass Strait and other indigenous oil. I asked what the saving would be to the Australian nation, and, further, the difference in the price of petrol if indigenous oil were sold at the same price as imported oil. Does the Minister have an answer lo that question?
Yes. 1 promised to seek some information and I have been supplied with it. The question was: What is the difference between the price per barrel of crude oil now imported and the price per barrel fixed for oil from Bass Strait and other indigenous areas? The answer is that the present price of indigenous crude oil was based on the import parity price for imported crude oil in 1968. Leaving aside a quality differential determined for Australian oil, the import parity price in relation to which the Australian price is set for 5 years, is S 1.89c per barrel. If overseas prices and freight increases which have taken place since that time are taken into account the import parity price today would be $2.31 per barrel - an increase of 42c per barrel. The overseas price will increase year by year. Assuming that present freight rates remain the same, the price will be $2.65 by 1975- an increase of 76c over the basic price of indigenous crude oil.
The second question was: What is the annual saving to Australia as a result of this difference, it is expected that the consumption of crude oil in Australia during 1971 will be approximately 190 million barrels. If supplies of indigenous crude were not available and Australia were fully dependent on overseas crude oil, the recent overseas price rise would increase Australia’s import bill for crude oil by $63m over a 12-month period. However, this amount will increase progressively with further overseas price rises, which have already been agreed upon, and the expected growth of refinery requirements.
– By way of preface to my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, T refer to the latter part of his recent Press statement appertaining to land adjacent to Bankstown Airport in which the Minister said that it was unfortunate that parklands have to be sacrificed for other purposes. I ask: Were any direct discussions held between his Department and the New South Wales State Planning Authority which in correspondence to me expressed concern at the takeover of golf courses, thus reducing open space land in metropolitan Sydney? If his Department is successful in the land acquisition, can he say whether any other Commonwealth land can be fed back to the State Planning Authority to enable a satisfactory ratio of open space land to occupied land to operate in metropolitan Sydney?
– Because of my concern about Bankstown Airport I spent Monday afternoon out there. This approximately is the position: The Department has been in communication both personally and by letter with the officers of the State Planning Authority and I have read the letters. Some years ago the Department acquired extra land out there which would be useful for runway extensions perhaps some time in the distant future. That land is made available to Bankstown Council in various ways for recreation purposes. The golf course area referred to by the honourable senator was offered to the Department by the owner some 3 . years ago. The
Department conferred with the Stale Planning Authority and the Bankstown Council about that land, lt is required for hangars, administrative buildings and taxiways.
The State Planning Authority referred the matter to the Bankstown Council. The Bankstown Council apparently had decided to resume the land or to allocate it, according to some plan it has, for light industrial purposes and we were asked whether we would take some time to enable this matter to be considered. We have done that. As far as we can tell, the view of the Slate Planning Authority is that the land would be better re-zoned for the special aviation purpose I mentioned. I have taken the trouble to see that if this does happen a strip. I think approximately 130 feet wide, is reserved right along the roadway and the river to preserve as much as possible of the area of the park. Further than that I have a perfectly open mind and have told the Department to do whatever it can to preserve the ratio of parkland and recreation area in that municipality.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of a report that the president of the Northern Victorian Fruitgrowers Association has estimated that prompt financial assistance amounting to $250,000 would help to alleviate the problems of pear growers in the Goulburn Valley of Victoria? Has the Minister information about whether there has been an application to the Commonwealth for assistance to growers in the Goulburn Valley area? Has the Victorian Government yet requested the Commonwealth to assist by providing supplementary finance so that some aid may be given to these growers who face immediate problems of hardship?
– This question has cropped up from both sides of the House during the past two weeks. 1 have very little information to add to what 1 said previously. I understand that Mr Cope, the president of the fruitgrowers association in this area, sent a telegram to the Minister for Primary Industry but did not indicate in it the type of assistance he wanted. I understand that in his talks with the State authorities he indicated that the assistance he seeks is in the vicinity of $250,000, as the honourable senator said. However, despite the talks that Mr Cope has had with the Victorian Government and the Rural Settlement and Finance Commission no case has yet been presented to the Commonwealth Government by the State Government. The only other information that I. can add is that the Minister for Primary Industry has sent a telegram to Mr Cope indicating that, when a case is received by the Commonwealth, sympathetic consideration will be given to it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In the apportioning of grants to wool growers under the Commonwealth scheme to provide emergency financial assistance, did the Government take into account other business activities of the applicants, and income from those activities taken in conjunction with farm income? Why did the questionnaire call for the number of bales of wool sold when it seems that only the gross income from the sale was taken into account and the number of bales, it appears, had little significance? Does the Government consider it fair to exclude from the scheme a grower who sold 10 more bales from the same number of sheep in 1970 than in 1 969 but whose gross income remained almost the same?
– I am not in a position to answer in detail all the points raised by the honourable senator. However, he will recall that yesterday, in answering a question of a similar nature, I pointed out that the Government made this emergency grant available to wool growers because of the drought conditions prevailing throughout Australia and because of the drastic fall in wool prices. The maximum amount to be made available was S30 million. There had to be a cut-off somewhere as regards those who were eligible to participate in the scheme. The Government did not think that those who had income from other sources should be entitled to receive money from this grant. I think that a wool grower had to derive half his income from wool to be eligible to receive money from this grant.
– Graduating down to 331 per cent.
– Yes. Senator McClelland has added a little further information. 1 understand that, to the present, about 34,000 claims have been received and that. 29,000 have been assessed. So far, 14,000 claims have been paid in full. The total sum paid out is Si 4.6 million and 7.500 claims have been rejected. I obtained this information at the beginning of the session. I was told then that the Government believed that it could assess the remaining claims within the next 3 weeks. As almost 2 weeks have elapsed, in the next week we should see the final assessment of all claims. 1 will obtain the further information that the honourable senator seeks from the Minister for Primary Industry.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the report recently presented to the Government on the use of cars in the Department of Supply car pool-
– It is not the Department of Supply; it is the Department of the Interior.
– I am sorry, it is the Department of the Interior. Does it indicate a possible reduction in this fleet? Is the Minister aware that queues of people in Canberra wait for taxis which are unavailable because they are busily engaged doing government work? Is he aware that the shortage is so acute that hire and drive cars are being used for taxi work? Does the Minister know whether sufficient taxi licences have been granted to cope with the growing population? Will the Minister direct that an inquiry be made and a report presented to the Senate on the inadequate services available to the citizens of Canberra and visitors to the national capital?
This is a matter which would come within the portfolio of the Minister for the Interior. Unless I get some indication from the Minister who represents the Minister for the Interior in this chamber that he wants lo add something at this point of time, I shall simply undertake lo convey the honourable senator’s comprehensive question to the Minister for the Interior for his reply.
I can well understand that some of the problems to which Senator O” Byrne has referred in his question in relation to the fleet of cars would occur. I know that the Department of Supply, which has its own fleet of cars, has similar problems in deciding whether it can supply enough vehicles during the peak load period and whether it should call on the hire car services and taxis for assistance in certain circumstances. I do not know whether the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior has anything further to add.
– I will convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for the Interior. I have noted his comments about people having to queue for taxis and the possibility that insufficient taxi licences have been granted.
– My question is directed lo the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of preface I acknowledge that the Minister must be concerned that no action has been taken at either a State or Commonwealth government level regarding the grave problem which is facing pear growers in the Goulburn Valley. Because of the delay in an approach by the Victorian Government and because of the grave urgency of the problem which exists in the Goulburn Valley, as I have pointed out in this chamber on previous occasions, I ask: Will the Commonwealth Government consider authorising the canning of the surplus pears and making them available for disposal as part of our overseas aid programme?
– I will acknowledge that the situation to which the honourable senator has referred is drastic, but I will not acknowledge that nothing is being done by the State or Commonwealth governments. Perhaps things are not happening as fast as the growers would want them to happen, but consideration has to be given to the matter by the State Government. A case has to be built up by the State Government for presentation to the Commonwealth Government if a successful conclusion is to be reached.1 f think it was last week that I pointed- out’ to the Sena.te that the co-operative dr the manufacturers already hold in storage something like li million to 2 million cases of canned pears.
Because of the honourable senator’s concern I will refer his question to the Minister for Primary Industry for his consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. If Vietnamisation is to be the order of the day in the military and civic action fields which were previously the function of Australia’s 2 battalions in Vietnam, will the Minister inform the Senate what priorities and intentions the Australian Government has for its troops in Vietnam and what reason there is to prevent these troops being brought home now which, apart from the moral aspects of the matter, would save this country hundreds of millions of dollars?
– This is obviously a question of policy which should be directed to the Minister for Defence and I will do so.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.. The Minister will recall that yesterday and on previous occasions he said that documents dealing in a chronological order wilh the sale of aircraft by Jetair Australia Ltd to the. Commonwealth Government would be produced in the Senate, together with a full explanation of the sale, i remind the Minister that the Senate will rise today for a short break. I ask: Will this information be supplied before the Senate actually rises today or will honourable senators have to wait until the Senate comes back to obtain this information?
I propose to put down a ministerial statement on this matter. I have copies of this statement to circulate among honourable senators.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: As the fees charged by many private schools today are in excess of the amount permitted under the Income Tax Assessment Act as an education allowance, will the Treasurer give immediate consideration to increasing the allowance for education under that.Act?
– The traditional procedure is for these allowances to be looked at at Budget time. I have no doubt, that that item and other allowances, classifications of sales tax and things of that nature are looked at at the same time. The judgment of the Government and the Treasurer are revealed in the Budget and in the Budget Speech.
– ls the Leader of the Government in the Senate in a position to state the amount provided by way of a grant for rehabilitation of damaged public utilities, that is roads, bridges and so on, to be matched on a $1 for $1 basis by the State of Tasmania, following serious flooding in northern and north-western Tasmania on 24th and 25th August last? Has the grant been paid to the Tasmanian Treasury? If not, why not?
The honourable senator asks me for detailed information about Commonwealth and Slate arrangements in relation to a particular flood in Tasmania. 1 will seek to get that information from the Treasurer and make it available as quickly as possible.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the existence of a substantial stockpile of woo] purchased by the Australian Wool Commission since it commenced operations, will the Minister indi cate whether he is satisfied that the technical competence of the Commission’s staff to organise the flexible reserve price scheme is of a sufficiently high standard? Further, will he indicate whether he suspects that buyers are deliberately endeavouring to out-manoeuvre the Commission?
Australian Wool Commission adopted a reserve price policy aimed at moderating the instability of auction prices and, I believe, at protecting the wool grower against having his wool sold at sacrificial prices. I believe that this is what the Commission is doing. Because of the drastic fall in wool prices the Commission at this stage has to bid on a large number of the lots catalogued for each sale, but although it is bidding for these lots it is not buying them all in. In some cases it is ensuring that the wool is not sacrificed at drastically low price. I. believe the operators employed by the Wool Commission are highly skilled. I believe that some buyers would be trying to out-manoeuvre the Commission, and this will always happen al wool sales.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of preface, I draw the Minister’s attention to question No. 832 on the notice paper which is in my name and which seeks information as to the number of applications that have been approved and the number that have been rejected under the wool emergency aid scheme. Will the Minister ascertain from the Department why he was provided by the Department with certain figures that he in turn was able to furnish to senator Toohey this morning when the Department has not yet been able to provide me with similar information that 1 requested in a question I placed on the notice paper on 1 6th February? Will he also ascertain why it is taking the Department of Primary Industry so long to provide answers to a number of important questions relating to vital primary industries which were asked by honourable senators in the last sessional period and which still remain unanswered?
– I will seek an explanation of the matter raised by the honourable senator. The figures that I have here are figures that I sought from the departments at the commencement of this sessional period. I said to the departments that I represent: ‘I may be asked questions relating to these matters. Give me the answers.’ The information that 1 use in replying to the questions asked was information supplied in response to that request. However, I shall take up the matter now raised with the Department of Primary Industry.
– In addressing my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Prime Minister, I refer to the decision of the Prime Minister, firstly, to proceed to the establishment of an Office of the Environment which was to deal wilh pollution in Australia, and secondly,. the decision not to proceed with the proposal, in order to save some §25,000 under the Government’s austerity programme. Is the- Minister aware of the contents of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution and particularly the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which refer to the enormous economic and social costs of pollution in Australia? In the light of the recommendations of the Select Committees to the effect that action should be taken immediately to deal with pollution in Australia, will the Minister ask the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision because it might be wiser to proceed forthwith lo establish the Office of the Enviroment, even though it involves expenditure of some $25,000, in view of the fact that in the overall it might be in the national interest to spend that money rather than not to spend it?
As 1 recall, I answered a question last week in relation to this matter and I said that the decision was for deferment of the proposal. I am well aware of the work done by the Senate Select Committtees. Their reports will stand as very significant documents in the years to come in what will flow eventually by way of action by both Commonwealth and State governments. The Leader of the Opposition has asked me whether I will refer this matter to the Prime Minister for reconsideration. I will do as he has requested itv accordance with the proper process. However 1 point out that when the decision was taken not to establish’ the Office of the Environment it was made clear by the Prime Minister that the decision related only to a deferment for the time being of the formal establishment of the office.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior by directing his attention to the reply received to- question No. 734 on 29th October 1970 and a statement made by the Minister for the Interior in the House of Representatives on 3rd September 1970 regarding Aboriginal land rights. The Minister will recall that the reply to question No. 734 was restricted because the matter allegedly was sub judice. Will the Minister contract to withdraw the statement made in the House of Representatives as it can only be described as Government pressure on the Northern Territory Supreme Court? If the Minister is not prepared to withdraw the statement referred to, will he undertake to allow Aboriginals to obtain land in the same way as tribal lands were seized from Aboriginals in the first place, that is, by making it legal for Aboriginals to use force in their struggle to obtain land rights just as previous governments made it legal for while men to use force to obtain land owned by Aboriginals?
– 1 noted as best I could what Senator Keeffe said. He referred to question No. 734 about Aboriginal land rights which apparently was answered on 29th October 1970, and to some statement by the Minister for the Interior. All I can do is see that when the honourable senator’s question appears in Hansard in its entirety it is directed to the Minister so that the honourable senator may be provided with an explanation.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, ls it a fact that there continues to be a serious shortage of teachers in Canberra schools? Why is it that despite qualified persons being available, not one is being employed? ls the austerity, campaign being extended to this area and, if so, how can it be justified?
– I assure the honourable senator that there is no element of austerity governing the employment of teachers in the Australian Capital Territory. If qualified persons are available, as the honourable senator suggests, and there is a deficiency of teachers, I am sure that those persons would be employed. Apart from what 1 know of the general situation, I am not aware of a particular deficiency of teachers. However, I shall refer the matter to the Minister and ask him to provide the information for the benefit of the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. What is the present complement of Royal Aus tralian Air Force and other specialist staff in the United States of America connected with the examination of the capability of the Fill aircraft? ls the complement a static one which is not being regulated to the urgency of determining whether the aircraft will fly? Can the Minister indicate whether the Government has set a target date by which the evaluation of the aircraft might be considered so that it may be decided whether Australia will purchase it?
– A permanent complement of men is stationed in the United States in connection with the Fill mission: I do not know the exact number stationed there and I would have to do a bit of research to obtain that information. The mission is made up of scientific and technical men, with one or two officers in charge. A target date was mentioned in the Fraser-Laird agreement. At: the end of this year Australia will be in a position to make a decision on whether we should go on wilh the project. The decision at that time will depend on whether the aircraft then meets the technical and operational requirements of the RAAF.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the significance of a report in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of today’s dateline headed Tasmanian Wool Sale A Disaster’ and stating that wool men described the Launceston wool sales as the most disastrous for years, representing a fall in prices of up to 65 per cent in the overall clip compared with last year, despite the purchase by the Australian Wool Commission of 60 per cent of the merino clip? Does the Minister realise that this slate of affairs can put the future of this traditional supply of. Tasmanian fine merino wool in jeopardy? Will the Minister get a report on the situation with a view to inaugurating a plan to preserve this important part of Tasmania’s economy and to ensure that this section of the wool industry does not fade out?
– I have seen the report to which the honourable senator has referred and I read it with a great deal of interest. However, I point out to the honourable senator how much worse the Tasmanian economy would have been had the Australian Wool Commission not been operating at that and other sales.
– Or how much better it might have been. You can put it whichever way you like.
– I Wi. put it my way. I will take the matter up and draw the Minister’s attention to the points Senator O’Byrne makes in his question.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration elaborate on the question I asked some days ago in relation to ethnic percentages?
– On 18th Feburary the honourable senator asked me the following question in connection with the reduced immigration programme:
What formula has been devised to effect the reduction? Will it be based on an ethnic percentage, such as that which has been followed by the United States of America from time to time?
I promised to obtain further information for him, and I now have the following information: This reduction was not based on a formula of percentages. It resulted from adjustments made over the total assisted programme where this was possible without revoking undertakings already given to prospective migrants or causing personal hardship. The programme now proposed, namely, 120,500, varies from that on which the original estimates approved by the Parliament were based as follows: (i) marginal increases in the special passage assistance programme, refugees and Maltese; Hi) a reduction in the programme from Britain and smaller reductions in those from the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey. The net effect of these variations is a reduction of 3,000 in the assisted migration programme. As funds will not be sought in supplementary estimates to compensate for lower than expected unassisted arrivals, the total migration programme will be approximately 170,000 this financial year.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer agree that a programme for economies which operates at the level of turning out lights, tightening taps and reducing community services can only lead to a psychology of economic depression and a trend that may be irreversible? Will he ask the Treasurer to consult with the Prime Minister and to persuade him to direct his measures to solving the economic problems of this country at a much higher level?
Decisions by some bodies - State, statutory or governmental - to do certain things are decisions which, no doubt, they take in good faith and good judgment. I do not think that we in the national Parliament should reach the stage where wc make a judgment for them as to how they can best economise or where they can best economise in their particular and narrowed field of administration. 1 acknowledge the point about psychology which the honourable senator makes, but 1 really do not think any approach by me to the Prime Minister is warranted in response lo the honourable senator’s question:
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation indicate the Commonwealth Government’s attitude to the financial compensation of persons, companies or community bodies which currently own property in areas adjacent lo the Tullamarine jetport, where the CommonwealthState investigation committer has decided that land use will be restricted and, as applies in many instances, the. right of citizens or bodies lo deal in land as they would wish will be restricted? ls the Commonwealth aware that the St Augustine’s Catholic Church is under a critical flight path of this jetport and that that Church has purchased a considerable acreage of land over a number of years?, ls the Minister aware that on the property there is an historic bluestone church structure that was built in 1854? Is the Minister aware that the noise problem will affect the development of the property on which the St Augustine’s Church Committee had planned to build not only a. secondary school but also a hall for parish activities and other activities in the; area? Will the Minister look into this and’ other cases to determine whether financial “ compensation should be paid to such a ’ body by the Commonwealth?
– I am : sure Senator Webster and other honourable senators will understand that it is necessary for his question to be placed on the notice paper. From my notes it appears that there are 7 facets to the question, each requiring a separate answer. Some deal with policy and some involve the Victorian Government, which is joined with the Commonwealth in the Victorian Airfields Committee, the purpose of which is to try to protect the community and its investment in airfields, not only at Tullamarine but in Victoria generally. It is a very good general example of Commonwealth and State co-operation.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, relates to a survey conducted by the Department of Social Services and the matters referred to by Senator O’Byrne. Some of the facts revealed by the survey have been reported in the Press and they indicate great hardship amongst many thousands of pensioners. Apparently the report has been made available to the Press and I therefore ask the Minister whether she will ensure that members of Parliament will have access to copies of the report of the survey so that they can assess its results.
– 1 shall convey to the Minister for Social Services the request of the honourable senator and obtain a reply for him.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain the delay in the tabling of the report of the Joint Committee on the Crown of Thorns Starfish? Is he aware that this is the third committee to investigate the problem, and that in spite of the investigations, the plague continues unchecked? Will he assure the Senate that he will take action to sec that the Committee’s report is expedited?
L am not sure from the honourable senator’s question whether the Committee has in fact produced its report and he is now asking abou! an hiatus between its production and its tabling, or whether the Committee has not yet completed its report. I will find out the facts and acquaint Senator Georges of the position.
– Yesterday Senator Bishop asked me a question about a survey of traffic on the Eyre Highway. I can now give him information we have obtained from the Western Australian Tourist Authority. In 1964-65 when the road was sealed to 150 miles east of Norseman, leaving 300 miles to the Western Australian border unsealed, the average number of vehicles crossing the highway both ways was 76 a day. In 196S-69 the average was 14S a day and in 1969-70 it was 168. The sealing to the border was completed in September 1969.
– Honourable senators will recall that yesterday 1 undertook to obtain a carefully considered answer to the questions Senator Georges asked me on 24th February regarding Jetair Australia Ltd. Information has only just now been brought in to me and I shall now give it to the honourable senator. Had it been available earlier I would then have given it to him. I am pleased to provide Senator Georges with this information, which I consider will remove any doubts he may have had about irregularities in the operations of Jetair. Jetair Australia Ltd operated regular scheduled passenger and freight services in accordance with a published timetable. Although the company did not hold an airline licence it did have a charter licence. Jetair was able to operate scheduled passenger and freight services because as well as the charter licence the company held an exemption under Air Navigation Regulation 203 which states:
The Director-General may if he considers that the particular circumstances of the case so warrant, exempt a person who holds a chaner licence and who proposes lo operate a service which would constitute a regular public transport service front the necessity of obtaining an airline licence, and may approve of the operation of the service for such period and subject to such conditions as the Director-General considers necessary.
Charter operators who hold exemptions of this nature are known as ‘commuter operators’ in this country. There are currently 26 holders of charter licences operating services in Australia and Papua and New Guinea under exemptions of this nature.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Permits to export crude oil are not granted unless the company concerned can meet the following conditions:
Refiners must have in existence capacity to process crude oil up to their normal marketrequirements or firm plans to install such capacity.
Refiners are to ensure a reasonable balance between exports of indigenous crude and imports of crude oil. with no reduction in the company’s refinery activities in Australia.
They must be willing to disclose terms upon which such exports will be made.
It is of course public knowledge that the current price of Gippsland crude oil is $2.05 per barrel. However, it is not the practice to disclose details of business transactions of companies dealing with the Department of Customs and Excise and accordingly I do not propose to disclose the price which H. C. Sleigh paid or are to receive for this shipment of oil.
I point out that this particular shipment is equivalent to approximately one half of a days requirement for Australain refineries.
– by leave -In 1969 the Department of
Foreign Affairs decided to supply 5 DC3 aircraft as foreign aid, 2 to Nepal, and 3 to Laos. Consequently in March 1969 the Department of Foreign Affairs requested the Department of Supply for advice as to availability of DC3 aircraft in Australia. The Royal Australian Air Force declared surplus six DC3 aircraft over the period August to November 1969. Following negotiations between the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Supply 5 of these aircraft were bought for a total of $60,000. Two were purchased on 2 1st November 1969 and 3 on 15th April 1970. The aircraft were in military configuration and it was intended to convert them to the civilian configuration required and to do work necessary to bring the aircraft up to a standard wherethey could be issued with a certificate of airworthiness for civilian aircraft. As at December 1970 the estimated cost of this commission and renovation was estimated to be $425,000.
In December 1970 Jetair Australia Ltd advertised itsfleet for sale in the Sydney Press. The Department of Foreign Affairs was interested since it was known that three passenger aircraft and one freight aircraft had been converted and brought to the state of having a civilian certificate of airworthiness within the past 18 months and had had comparatively little use. It was apparent that its aircraft would till the need of Nepal and Laos better and more cheaply than the RAAF aircraft the Department of Foreign Affairs already had. and the Department of Foreign Affairs ascertained that the Khmer Republic - the new name for Cambodia - would be glad of the RAAF aircraft in military configuration. The Department of Foreign Affairs therefore arranged for the aircraft to be inspected by an official of that Department accompanied by officers of the Aircraft, Guided Weapons and Electronics Supply Division of the Department of Supply. This inspection showedthat the aircraft were in fair to first class condition. They also possessed a civilian certificate of airworthiness.
It was apparent that the 6 Jetair aircraft would meet the requirement to supply civilian aircraft to Nepal and Laos and meet that requirement quickly. It was also apparent that if this were done the RAAF aircraft already held could be supplied in a military configuration to the Khmer Republic and would not need $425,000 to be spent to purchase, renovate and deliver them but rather $235,000.
Discussion between officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Jetair then took place. Jetair sought a price of $60,000 for each aircraft but as discussions developed it was apparent that if a buyer were prepared to take the whole fleet Jetair would sell for substantially less per aircraft. Serious consideration was then given to what would be a fair price for this fleet of Jetair aircraft. In arriving at a price, factors such as availability of aircraft from other sources, the mechanical conditions of aircraft, present internal configurations, status of certificates of airworthiness, delivery deadlines - Nepal, Laos and the Khmer Republic having all stressed urgent delivery - were all considered. The end result was that all things being equal, the aircraft of the Jetair fleet would meet the requirements of the receiving countries and the Department of Foreign Affairs better than any other alternative.
A written offer was made by the Department of Foreign Affairs to Jetair on 6th January 1971. This was accepted by Jetair. When the Department of Supply was asked to proceed with preparing the formal contracts it made inquiries to ascertain whether other suitable aircraft were available. The inquiries revealed that other suitable aircraft were not available and the Chairman of the Contracts Board therefore issued a certificate that it was impractical and inexpedient to call tenders.
The Department of Supply also reported that having regard to the condition of the aircraft, and working out a price by the method used by Trans Australia Airlines to place a value on similar aircraft, the price to be paid, that is $275,000 which included a small quantity of spare parts, was reasonable. The aircraft were bought for this price.
To complete the project it will also be necessary to spend an estimated $4,000 per aircraft for minor repairs and $10,000 per aircraft for delivery costs.
– I move:
I thought that when this statement was brought to this chamber we would have been given much greater detail. It is unfortunate that we have not had time to study the statement in greater detail, together with some of the figures and other material that was made available to us earlier in the piece following the asking of questions which were half answered. I am not saying that this transaction has about it all the earmarks of the VIP aircraft scandal and the Fill scandal, but it certainly is a mini-scandal in the history of this Government. The first thing thai most people knew about the transaction, apart from rumblings in the political underground, was when a statement was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr McMahon) just, prior to the opening of this session of the Parliament. He announced that a certain number of aircraft had been purchased to give as foreign aid to a number of countries. There was a great air of secrecy about the purchase.
On the first day of this session honourable senators on this side of the chamber asked a number of leading questions. The responsbile Ministers ran for cover. They were unable to give any details. They were unable to say when the aircraft were purchased or even whether the purchase had been arranged by tender or by private negotiation. Subsequently we learnt that the bulk of the purchases had been carried out by private negotiation. This is a repudiation of what should be government policy. In a transaction of the magnitude of this transaction, public tenders should have been called so that people would be able to see quite clearly that the Government was not doing an under the counter deal. Yesterday, in another place, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, made a statement about the cost of the aircraft that had been bought from Jetair Australia Ltd. 1 understand that that firm is in liquidation now. lt is perfectly obvious that if the Government intended to pay $45,000-odd for an aircraft which had been sold previously for $8,000-odd, allegedly for export - and it never left Australia - there is a very strange smell coming somewhere from political sewers. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said that as at December 1970 the estimated costs of commission and renovation was $425,000. There is still an area of doubt as to how much money will be expended in making modifications to the aircraft and how much it will cost to deliver them to the countries to which they will be donated. I would like to see some information on that made available also. In this chamber a few days ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) asked that all the papers associated with the deal be tabled. I think that as recently as yesterday the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that he would provide this kind of information and if we were not satisfied with what we were supplied we could have further information made available later. For my part 1 am not satisfied. I do not think this is a fair statement of all the deals that went on. If royal commissions were not so hard to establish perhaps an inquiry by a royal commission would be about the only way that we could delve out the deal ‘ that is being done. I think it is unfortunate that Mr Barton, of fame in other places, apparently is involved in this company too. I do not intend to make outright accusations, but the people must be very suspicious about what has taken place in this transaction. I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to give further information in relation to this deal. He said: tt was apparent that the 6 Jetair aircraft would meet the requirement to supply civilian aircraft lo Nepal and Laos and meet that requirement quickly, lt was also apparent that if this were done the RAAF aircraft already held could be supplied in a military configuration to the Khmer Republic and would not need S425.OO0 spent to purchase, renovate and deliver them but rather S235.O0O.
Now other sections of the community arc very wary indeed of the Government’s action. I understand that a deputation from charter aircraft companies came to Canberra a few days ago to talk to people in responsible positions. Why were not we given some details of what happened, if this confrontation indeed took place? Was the deputation not met by responsible officials of departments? Was it not met by any Ministers? Was the deputation repudiated? These are questions that people in the street are asking. It is not good enough that there should be even a breath of scandal about any of the Government’s actions.
Not many years ago we had the case of the Dakota aircraft which were sold by an organisation in, ‘ I think. South Australia. This organisation has apparently also gone out of existence. A representative of that organisation was able to say publicly that the organisation had bought so many air craft for something like $10,000 and it was going to build up its investment by probably ten times by selling them in other places. If the Government has to dispose of surplus aircraft in any way the responsibility is on it to ensure that there can be no scandal afterwards. At about the same time as the purchase from Jetair the Department of Supply sold surplus aircraft on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force. Nobody is sure how many aircraft were involved but at least the transaction went through the appropriate Government department
Where are these Dakotas today? For what purpose were they used when they left this country? What happened to the organisation which made a fantastic profit with the same degree of secrecy as there was on this occasion? I believe - and a lot of Australians believe - that this is not good enough. Other people may have different ideas but I suggest that this is not the end of the affair. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate is not prepared to come out with further statements I shall agitate in my Party for the tabling of every document associated with this transaction so that the Senate can ascertain where the area of profit lies and what individuals have been able, because they know people in high places, to get away with something that ordinary members of the community would not be able to get away with or who, if they were able to get away with it, would be described as shady people.
– by leave - 1 am certainly not satisfied with the statement which was made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) on the sale of aircraft of Jetair Australia Ltd to the Commonwealth Government. When the Leader of the Government began to read his statement I thought he had perhaps made a mistake in the year he read out because he began by referring to the year 1969. However, he was correct. It seems to me to be very strange that negotiations which commenced in 1969 to assist Nepal and Laos should take almost 2 years to reach a decision, especially if these aircraft were required urgently. If the matter was so urgent I should imagine that these aircraft could have been obtained well within 2 years.
– Where does the honourable senator read that into the statement?
– Let us have a look at what the Leader of the Government said. In the early part of his statement he said:
Following negotiations between the departments of Foreign Affairs and Supply five of these aircraft were bought for a total of $60,000. Two were purchased on 21st November 1969 and three on 15th April 1970.
Two of these aircraft were purchased in November 1969. The request was first made early in 1969. There did not seem to be any urgency about supplying them then, but suddently there was an urgent requirement to supply to Cambodia aircraft which were available for purchase from Jetair Australia Ltd. In fact, so urgent did the requirement become that certain procedures were circumvented. The Government went steadily about the matter at the beginning and took almost 2 years to reach a decision and then, because Jetair suddenly became defunct and its aircraft became available for purchase, the matter was expedited to such an extent that tenders were not called
I am not satisfied with the details which were given in the statement about the Department of Supply being asked to proceed with preparing the formal contracts and to make inquiries to ascertain whether other suitable aircraft were available. It would be interesting to find out what those inquiries were, how widespread they were and whether any advertising was carried out. The Leader of the Government went on to say that the Department of Supply’s inquiries revealed that other suitable aircraft were not available and that the Chairman of the Contracts Board therefore issued a certificate that it was impractical and inexpedient to call tenders. I find this to be particularly unusual. It fits into the pattern of a sudden urgency to purchase aircraft from Jetair. Tn certain questions I have asked I have implied that there has been malpractice. I will continue to ask questions and to seek out information on this subject. I am of the opinion that the Department suited its requirements to the specifications of the Jetair aircraft.
– To which department are you referring.
– The Department of Foreign Affairs. It suited its requirements to the specifications of the aircraft of Jetair. For this reason I think it is vital that the whole matter should be investigated thoroughly. I am pleased that the Australian Labor Party will seek to adjourn the debate to a later date.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
– by leave - While the Senate was considering the report of Estimates Committee C in relation -to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department during the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-1971 on 3rd November 1970, I undertook to take up with the Attorney-General and convey to the Senate by 31st March 1971 a decision on the question of a new bound general reprint of the Commonwealth Acts. The Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) has made in the House of Representatives today the statement that I am about to read, lt should be understood that when I use the first person personal pronoun it relates to the Attorney-General.
The question whether a general reprint of Commonwealth Acts should be undertaken has been considered by my predecessors from time to time and more recently by myself. I have now decided not to undertake a general bound reprint of Acts at the present time but rather to concentrate the available resources of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on the production of reprints of legislation in pamphlet form. These reprints will incorporate all amendments .to the date of publication.
Reasonably up-to-date reprints of most significant Acts in common use - approximately 150 in number - are available in pamphlet form. If a complete set of reprints of Acts is maintained in alphabetical order, there is little occasion to refer to the 1901-1950 bound reprint or to subsequent annual volumes. During 1970, 37 Acts were reprinted in pamphlet form. I hope that this number can bc increased this year and in later years.
Adequate stocks of the existing 1901- 1950 reprint of Acts are now available, although shortages did exist while unbound copies of that reprint were being bound. Some of the annual volumes of Acts published since 1950 are in short supply, lt is proposed to reprint sufficient numbers of the volumes since 1950 that are out of print or in short supply to enable complete sets of the 1901-1950 reprint and annual volumes since 1950 to be available for the next few years. Adequate stocks of the 1901-1956 reprint of Commonwealth Statutory Rules are also available, lt is likewise planned to reprint the annual volumes since 1956 that are in short supply.
To assist consideration of the question of a new reprint of Acts, the views on the form of a new reprint, if one were to be undertaken, were sought from the Law Council of Australia and its constituent bodies and from’ law publishers. The system of publishing reprints in pamphlet form incorporating all amendments to the dale of publication of the reprint appears to be favoured by the majority of Law Societies. Suggestions for different forms of permanently bound reprints were put forward by the law publishers. A necessary precursor of a reprint is the drafting and enactment of a Statute Law Revision Bill, which reduces considerably the overall size of a reprint by repealing Acts and portions of Acts the operation of which is exhausted. Such a Bill also incorporates necessary amendments of a noncontentious nature. Having regard to other drafting tasks of a more urgent nature, it has nol been and is nol likely soon to be practicable to undertake the drafting of such a Bill. In any event economic circumstances render it undesirable to incur the expense of commencing any new undertaking that can reasonably be deferred. Accordingly it has been decided to concentrate for the present on the publication of pamphlet reprints together, of course, with the regular annual volumes of Acts and Statutory Rules. This course would seem best to meet the immediate needs of the legal profession and other users, but it does not rule out the possibility of general reprints being undertaken in the future.
The question of the best form to be adopted for a general reprint is not easy to resolve. A reprint in bound form becomes progressively more out of date and cumbersome as each year passes, and many Acts in such a reprint are amended even before the reprint becomes available. An advantage of a separate pamphlet system is that an Act that is extensively amended may be reprinted with the amendments incorporated and then issued in lieu of the existing reprint. An example of this advantage is provided by the Income Tax Assessment Act, which is reprinted every year as amended. In an endeavour to achieve speedier production of the annual volumes of Acts and Statutory Rules, the form of the volumes has been altered to reduce their size. The comprehensive tables associated wilh the annual volume of Acts have been recast and will be published as a separate pamphlet that will be replaced annually by a later tables pamphlet. This arrangement will prevent extensive tables that are superseded being retained permanently in bound annual %’olumes, and should permit the bound volume containing the text of the Acts passed each year to become available more quickly. I shall inform the Parliament if altered circumstances enable the course of action that I have just outlined to be changed.
– I move:
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 70 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1970, I present the 14th annual report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the period ended 13th August 1970.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 9 March, at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That at 8 p.m. this day intervening business be postponed until after consideration of Government Business order of the day No. 13.
Senator BYRNE (Queensland) 12.28) -I have not had an opportunity to mention to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) the matter that I am about to raise. I did mention it to Senator Withers and Senator Murphy. It concerns a notice of motion in my name under General Business relating to appointments to the Standing Orders Committee. Also, at the head of General Business there is a notice of motion in my name which relates to the appointment of a select committee on defence. 1 suggest to Senator Withers that perhaps I could transpose that matter and the motion relating to appointments to the Standing Orders Committee, which is notice of motion No. 7. 1 know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is anxious to proceed with the debate on the President’s report on committees. I make the suggestion only on the basis that, if there is concurrence, the motion relating to the Standing Orders Committee could be brought on, disposed of, and then we could proceed with the general debate on committees. Senator Murphy has kindly indicated to me that he would have to consult his colleagues on this.
– I know that. I thought I should raise it before the motion presently before us is carried.
– Perhaps we could leave it until 8 o’clock. My inclination would be that we should dispose of the President’s report before we go into recess for a week. There are some subsequent motions with which I would want to deal. Subject to that limitation, I think it would be a very good thing to bring on Senator Byrne’s motion relating to the Standing Orders Committee, because I recognise the urgent need to hold a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee to discuss matters that have arisen. Bui my present inclination is to deal with the President’s report first. I would be perfectly happy, upon arrangements with Senator Murphy, to postpone proceeding wilh my motion until 8 o’clock. However I would prefer to proceed with it now and to come back, when we have time, to the matter Senator Byrne has raised.
– If the Government saw fit to support my motion relating to the Standing Orders Committee and if Senator Murphy was able to indicate that his Party would support it there may be no need for debate, lt would be carried and disposed of. Then we could proceed to discuss the President’s report on committees of the Senate.
Senator Sir Kenneth AndersonSubject to concurrence. 1 would be happy lo follow that course, but I would not wish the matter to be debated at this stage.
-I can understand that. They are precisely the terms on which I discussed it with Senator Murphy.
– Senator Murphy has indicated lo me that he has not had an opportunity to discuss the matter with his colleagues. Therefore, the best I can offer is to deal first with the motion now before us and then, if necessary, at some subsequent time I will move lo bring on the other matter which is in Senator Byrne’s name.
– Will Senator Murphy endeavour lo discuss this matter with his colleagues so that it may be disposed of today in view of the coming week’s recess?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The amendment of the income tax law proposed by this Bill will give effect to the Government’s decision to suspend the taxation investment allowance on manufacturing plant and equipment. The decision to suspend the allowance was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 3rd February 1971. The investment allowance consists of a special income tax deduction equal lo 20 per cent of capital expenditure on new plant and equipment used in manufacturing and is additional to ihe normal deductions allowable for depreciation. It thus results in total deductions for income tax purposes of 120 per cent of the capital cost of elegible plant and equipment over its scheduled life.
When the investment allowance was introduced in 1962, employment was declining, economic activity had slowed and there was uncertainty as to the outlook for the balance of payments. The allowance was one of a series of measures designed to stimulate demand and restore confidence in the future growth of the economy and was particularly directed to encouraging expenditures on equipment and re-equipment of manufacturing industries which were then at a low ebb. The economic conditions which led to the introduction of the investment allowance do not exist today and the Government has considered whether, in the current economic climate, this special incentive for investment in manufacturing plant and equipment should continue to be available. We have reached the conclusion that the allowance should be suspended.
Private investment in non-farm plant and equipment is rising at an annual rate in excess of 20 per cent and. at a time like this when one of our pressing economic needs is the restraint of inflation, the Government does not feel justified in continuing the investment allowance on manufacturing plant and equipment. The suspension of this concession is one of the measures we are proposing to deal wilh the current situation. I emphasise, however, that the suspension in no way affects the investment allowance available under separate provisions of the income lax law that were enacted in 1963 for plant and equipment used in primary production.
The suspension of the manufacturing allowance, as proposed by the Bill, will mean that the special deduction will cease to apply in respect of expenditure incurred after 3rd February 1971 unless it is made under a contract entered into by that clay with the supplier of goods or services. Accordingly the suspension will not affect entitlements lo deduction for any eligible expenditure that was incurred on or before 3rd February 1971. Nor will it apply to disallow deductions for expenditure that is incurred after that day in acquiring or installing plant if the expenditure is made under a contract entered into by that day with the supplier or installer of the plant or equipment. While that is the effect of the Bill, a number of submissions have been made by industry that the investment allowance should continue to be available under transitional arrangements covering a variety of other circumstances. These representations, which cover a complex field, are receiving careful consideration. If the Government wishes to adopt any of the proposals that have been made, it will ask the Parliament to give eRect to its decisions by further amending legislation. A memorandum explaining technical aspects of the Bill is being circulated to honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24 February (vide page 331). on motion by Senator Wright:
That Iiic Bill he now rend a second time.
– I had not intended lo continue my remarks this morning but for a statement in the Press that those responsible for the production of the university paper ‘Woroni’ had no reason to believe, or had had no indication, that any action would be taken in regard to that paper. I have been told that the person mainly responsible for the paper is of some prominence in the Australian National University and that it is possible that this legislation will have the effect of placing him on the University Council. Frankly. I do not like the prospect although I believe in the principle of student representation. If we are to concede that principle then the Senate is entitled to say to the students: ‘You are claiming the right to be represented upon a highly important and responsible body so you must show that you are responsible people.’ Therefore, I have decided to move, as an expression of opinion, an amendment to the motion. That the Bill be now read a second time’. I move:
At the end of motion add: ‘bin the Senate believes that a university student body seeking representation in the control of a university has an obligation lo show thai il has a sense of responsibility and regard for the good name of the university which would be manifested, for example, in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of official student journalism.’
That is a moderate statement but, I believe, a strong statement of the Senate’s view that a university student body should be a responsible student body, lt will be noticed that I refer to official student journalism. I suppose a student body could not be held responsible for some of the non-official publications which appear on university campuses and which are of the type that certainly do not resemble the Salvation Army’s ‘War Cry’. The publication ‘Woroni’ is regarded as the mouthpiece of the student body. Every student contributes to the funds which produce it. Therefore it bears an official character, lt is is to be put out as a publication which represents the attitude of the student body then I think that the Senate is entitled to express its view upon it. 1 understand that I will require a seconder for my amendment.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment.
– The Bill we are considering raises the question of parliamentary responsibility for the Australian National University. 1 take it that the necessity to present the legislation to the Parliament indicates that it is also a matter for debate and not merely an opportunity to rubber stamp it. We, as the Senate - indeed, we as individuals - have a responsibility to consider the Bill before us in the light of the circumstances of the day. Therefore 1 assume that the manner in which we deal with this Bill and the manner in which we debate it is a matter for the individual judgment of honourable senators. We must take into account the situation now existing that a student body has seen fit to publish a newspaper which is an offence to any conceivable standard of decency. In my opinion it is the ultimate in human degradation. If this is the product of our vaunted university education, then we should seriously re-examine our altitude, to so-called higher education.
I indicate to the Government that although I will support the motion for the second reading of the Bill I will oppose in Committee paragraphs (ja), (k) and (I) of clause 3 which refer to student representation until such time as there is clarification of the present situation arising from the publication of one of the most objection able, filthy papers ever to disgrace an Australian university. I support the amendment moved by Senator McManus on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I believe that it expresses what this Senate should express with regard to this matter. Holding that view which ! believe is completely in line with my intended attitude at the Committee stage, ! say no more now.
– I rise very briefly to say that 1 support the general principles of the Bill. Senator McManus is to be commended for directing the attention of the Senate to this challenge to constituted decency and authority as represented in the printed garbage which is described as ‘Woroni’. 1 agree with the attitude taken by my colleague Senator Prowse. It. is right and proper that we appreciate that however important and however significant a university and university students may be in the community, they are not above the law. They are not sacrosanct and they are just as liable to the law as is anyone else.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was concluding my remarks on this Bill. If the Senate adopts the views outlined by Senator Prowse it will enable this chamber to indicate to the university authorities how seriously it views this open challenge to decency and integrity. It is preferable that the university authorities should cope with these situations, provided that they have the will and the intestinal fortitude to do so. I do not intend to move an amendment at this stage, but I make the suggestion that at some time when clause 3 is being debated the Government might see fit to incorporate in the clause a definition of the word student’. In the past few years in Australia student’ has covered not only a multitude of sins - it is like ‘charity’ in that respect - but also a multitude of occupations.
In many instances the people who cause the sort of trouble which is reflected in the type of journalism that appears in ‘Woroni’ are not genuine students enrolled in a genuine course. I know of one case where a student was undertaking a part time course at the Brisbane University and, when a certain political leader was addressing the students, this young gentleman made a few remarks. A few weeks later when the same political leader was speaking at the Melbourne University the same alleged student was present causing such trouble as he could. In the circumstances I do not think it would bc beyond the wit of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Bowen) in this chamber, to devise some form of expression or definition which would ensure that ‘student’ meant a genuine student.
– ] oppose the amendment moved by Senator McManus. 1 am rather surprised that the honourable senator should think that an amendment of this kind is needed in respect of a Bill of this nature. I was surprised also at some of the remarks made by Senator Hannan. As Senator McManus md. the amendment seeks to include in the Bill, in spirit if not legally, a statement on policy. By his amendment the honourable senator seeks to extend censorship laws. That is the basic purpose of the amendment and it is stated quite clearly in the last 3 or 4 lines of the motion. The amendment states: . . an obligation to show that it lias a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university . . .
Perhaps if the wording had stopped al that point there would not have been a great deal of harm in it, but the amendment continues: which would be manifested for example in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of official student journalism.
I have seen the student paper to which the honourable senator has referred and in which he alleges that crude pornography appears. In my view the publication provides a pretty good send up of people. It bucks the Establishment, ft shows people like Senator McManus and Senator Hannan that they have left behind their youth and their feeling for humanity. They are not prepared to face up to present day life or the problems of young people today. This is basically why the amendment has been moved.
In this day and age we should not be extending censorship laws, particularly in a manner like this, but rather we should be relaxing them. It is my view that the cen sorship laws should be abolished. J know that probably a majority of people in the community at this point of time would say that the censorship laws ought to be gradually relaxed, but the modern trend throughout the world is to abolish censorship laws. In those countries where censorship has been abolished the local people are no more corrupt that we are in this community. God only knows, our own Australian community needs to be looked at seriously because of the great decline in its moral fibre, yet we live in a rigidly censored society. The people who may be corrupted by the absence of censorship in those countries where it has been abolished are those perverts in society who will travel thousands of miles to look at pornographic literature. If anybody in Australia wants to obtain it they can do so because there are plenty of places where it can be obtained. This is a matter that comes down lo a question of human beings, and in considering this amendment we must have regard lo who would do the defining. For instance- if an amendment of this nature were incorporated who would decide whether a student newspaper had a proper content. I should hate to think that the responsibility for this would be placed on people like Senator McManus or Senator Hannan because I suspect that they would find something obscene in the ‘Canberra Times’.
We have heard reference to students who are not genuine. To some extent I agree with Senator Hannan because it is a well known fact that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has students placed in various campuses who are paid to spy on their fellow students. The student who travelled from Brisbane lo Melbourne, as was mentioned by Senator Hannan, might have been in this category. I am not aware of any other students attending university in any State in Australia who have not a genuine desire to attain a higher education. Perhaps some of these kids should not be at university because they have not the ability to cope with their studies, but if they do become involved in the publication of a newspaper of the type that has received so much criticism, is it their fault? This is probably their way of rebelling against society and showing that there is something wrong with us. It is not that there is something wrong with the kids who are producing this kind of publication; there is something wrong with the sort of society that forces them into this kind of rebellion, a society that sends kids who have not a vole to Vietnam to bc killed.
This is where we should be taking a critical look at ourselves. We should not be exercising our power in this place to try to punish these kids, nor should it be happening in any other parliament. If someone is aggrieved there are laws already in existence to deal with the situation. Heaven only knows, the censorship laws are so primitive and are framed in such a way that one could be gaoled tor possessing a well known comic or cookery book. If there is a need to act in respect of the publication referred to by honourable senators opposite, action can be taken under the law which exists already. 1 suggest that this amendment was not conceived for a genuine purpose and was not moved for a genuine purpose; it was moved merely to see how much publicity could be obtained for the people associated with it. lt is not genuine and. so far as I am concerned, it should never have been moved in this chamber.
– 1 wish to speak very briefly in support of the Bill and particularly in support of the provision to enable the President of the Australian National University Student’s Association to be added to the Council of the Australian National University as an ex officio member. J disagree completely wilh that which was said by Senator Keeffe in respect of the amendment moved by Senator McManus. I regard it as very desirable that there be adequate representation of the student body on the Council. Human nature is such that there is nothing more conducive to properly balanced attitudes than the assumption of responsibility and a sense oE personal obligation and belonging.
Throughout the whole social and economic structure, youth is participating to a much greater degree than it did a decade or so ago. I believe that it is in this increased participation that the answer would lie to many of the problems which now confront us throughout the whole of our social structure, and so I am very keen to see an accentuation of activity by youth in many parts of. our national life. Looking back, one can note the beneficial effects of a responsible attitude by youth in many spheres of activity throughout the country. But 1 believe that at this time it is very necessary, indeed vitally necessary, that the fears in the public mind - fears in my mind and in the minds’ of many members of the Parliament - in regard to the licence being taken by student bodies, as instanced by the publication of the paper ‘Woroni’, be allayed. This is to be condemned as something not in accord with seeking what we speak of so often as a higher quality of life.
I believe that the attitude of Senator McManus is to be commended. He expresses it emphatically in his amendment, which states: . . the Senate believes that a university student body seeking representation in the control of a university has an obligation to show that it has a sense of responsibility and regard for the good name of the university which would be manifested, for example, in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of . official student journalism.
That statement is not excessive; but it clearly lays on the line that which many of us are thinking is necessary to enable youth to take a greater part in the whole gamut of national activities. I believe that it is so detrimental to have brought into the situation facets such as those which come before us in the publication at which I have had a glance that we should express our deep concern at a problem, the answer to which will lie, firstly;’ with the student bodies themselves; if not wilh them, then with the directing authorities of the universities; and if not with them, then with some further authority, in order to ensure that the quality of life which we seek to attain may be attained and not lowered as it is being lowered through the presence of publications such as ‘Woroni’.
– The amendment moved by Senator McManus is an unusual one. lt has received some support around the chamber, but it will receive no support from us. It is unfortunate that Senator Wright, who is the Minister representing the Government in this debate, has not chosen to indicate the official attitude of the Government by speaking to the amendment before speaking to close the debate. I understand that he has not chosen to do so. So, we are not aware of the Government’s attitude to the amendment.
– I support the amendment.
– 1 thank the Minister. The Government supports the amendment; we do not. The reason why we do not support it is that if this publication, which has been referred to but which 1 understand has not even been tabled in the Senate, is an offence against the law it should be dealt with according to law; but, if it is not, it is no business of the Senate to be concerned with it.
The attitude of those who would support such an amendment is a curious one. Here is a Bill which is intended to provide representation for the student body on the Council of the Australian National University. Although it does not provide as much representation as we believe there should be, that is what the Bill is intended to do. Those who support the amendment choose to use such a Bill as a vehicle for airing their attitudes on a particular publication
– The amendment makes no reference to a particular publication.
– I thank the Minister lor that observation; but in fact those who have spoken have referred to a particular publication which has not even been tabled in the Senate and which may or may not be the subject of some proceedings elsewhere. If the amendment is nol intended to be based on that particular publication, it is even worse, because honourable senators are seeking to express their own views and to give a lesson or to set down some kind of a sermon for the student body of the Australian National University.
– Are you suggesting that it is not appropriate for the Senate to have an opinion on a matter such as this because it may be the subject of some legal proceedings.
– The Minister has said that the amendment does not relate to a particular publication.
– Let us presume that it did.
– If it did and especially if it was seriously considered that tome proceedings should or might be instituted in respect of that publication, I believe that it would be quite wrong for the Senate lo concern itself with it. The Senate will deal with a matter which is or might be the subject of judicial proceedings if it is a matter of great public importance and, in balancing whether the Senate should intrude into that judicial sphere against the national importance of the matter, one will come down on the side of national importance. ( think it is pretty far-fetched to suggest that the Senate would regard an individual publication of the student body of the Australian National University as being such a subject of national importance that we should add such an unprecedented rider to a Bill.
I suppose that this kind of amendment illustrates the attitudes of persons on moral questions, ft is generally those who are not interested in referring to the immorality of incidents such as the Vietnam war, who will pass over the massacres that are occurring there-
– By which side?
– Those who are not the slightest concerned about that which is being done, if you like, by those on our side and which is proved beyond any question. It is always the persons on one’s own side whom one is in a position to do something about correcting. One is hardly in a position to do that in respect of the other side. The immorality of. the war and the dreadful massacres does not concern these people. They turn from that and are able to salve their consciences by saying: ‘There is some terrible immorality going on. A bit of a magazine has been issued and we do not like what is in it. So let us drag that up in the national arena. Let us for the first time add a rider to a Bill because somebody has published ‘ something which may or may not have infringed the law’. I am not entering into that issue because I have not studied the publication. What has this to do with the Senate?
In the course of the debate one finds that people indicate that they are insistent that in some way their values ought to be the values of everyone; that in some way the younger generation - these young men and young women - have Strayed from the path of virtue. These people say, in effect: If only they will see the light they will come back and share the values of the generations that are passing out of this world’.
The plain fact is that the young men and women more and more are rejecting the myths, the superstitions, the beliefs and the values of those who are supporting this amendment. Whatever the worth of those beliefs and values may be, that is a matter that will be sorted out by the young mcn and women. Some of them will be sorted out in different ways. But each generation will do this for itself.
I believe that the Senate would do much better to attend to its own affairs and let the Council of the University have the representation that it sought for these young people The Senate ought to be well satisfied with what is being done in that respect. Rather than to be criticising the young people in the Australian National University or the young people elsewhere, we would do better to start criticising ourselves. Those who are looking for improvements and seeking a virtuous approach to life should ensure that each person is doing the utmost he can to attain the values which have been pontificated on here, or should he looking at themselves and at our institution* before handing out lessons to others.
– Like the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (.Senator Murphy) I wish to voice my opposition to the proposed amendment. I believe that it is illconceived: it is most certainly ill-considered because it was brought into the chamber this morning with a flurry and people were running around the chamber trying to win support from those honourable senators who might purport to be their political opponents but in truth are their political friends. My main objection to the proposed amendment is the insult it offers to the student commune In the Bill the Government is prepared to concede that students have a right lo participate in the control of a university. The proposed amendment insults students by suggesting that they would put forward one oF their number who is unworthy of their confidence. I submit, wilh respect, that that is a ridiculous situation.
The proposed amendment contains the words, ‘has a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university’. Who is to determine the standard of responsibility required in relation to the words ‘has a. sense of responsibility’? A student may wish to associate himself with the conduct of affairs within a university, but at the same time he may rebel against a decision that has been made. He may take appropriate action by organising people to reject that decision. Would those in authority believe that he was acting with a sense of responsibility. If they wanted lo get rid of him or did not want him associated wilh control of the university they would automatically say that he had no sense of responsibility or regard for the good name of the university, notwithstanding that he may have a legitimate right to oppose a decision of someone in authority
The proposed amendment also contains the words, ‘which would be manifested for example in a rejection of crude pornography’. Again, who is to determine what is crude pornography? What may be crude pornography to one elder of a university may be quite acceptable to others. What constitutes crude pornography becomes an individual determination I have no wish to support anybody who circulates crude pornography. lt is objectionable to me and, I believe, to the vast, majority of honourable senators. However, what may be regarded by some as crude pornography may not be so regarded by others.
– The latter group must be odd people.
– I have heard Senator Young on this type of thing before. I have heard pious resolutions from him and others, but if they had an opportunity to see some crude pornography, smutty pictures or anything like that they would be running around to the toilet to study it. On more than one occasion 1 have seen them do these things. Do not worry about the pure intentions of some honourable senators opposite. Will they say in this chamber that they have never had a look at crude pornography? 1 fail to hear an answer to that.
– Do you agree with it?
– 1 do not peddle or worry about crude pornography.
– Do you agree wilh it?
– I challenge you again: Have you ever had a look at crude pornography?
– Then according to the proposed amendment you are not fit to be in the Senate. If you support the proposed amendment you are saying that a university student who has had a look at crude pornography is not fit to lake part in the councils of a university, but you admit that you have read crude pornography and it consequently follows that you should not be a member of this Parliament. The proposal is offensive to students generally, lt is offensive to lads who probably would become responsible leaders of the student group and probably would participate in its upper councils.
In the past I have known of instances in which words such as those of the proposed amendment have been applied so indiscriminately that it has not been funny. I have known of apprentices who, after having been granted their apprenticeship papers, have had them cancelled because it was subsequently discovered that they had pinched some water melons when they were kids, and had been convicted but not fined. Honourable senators opposite may say that that is not true. I say with respect that it is true, and it happened on more than one occasion. Those are the things that worry me. I am sorry that the Government has committed itself to accepting the proposed amendment. 1 believe that it will regret its action in years to come.
– 1 wish to express my views briefly on the proposed amendment. I am in favour of the Bill, which seeks to allow a representative of the students’ union to serve on the Australian National University Council. I think it is a good thing for alt sections of the community to meet in that type of forum. Those people who over the years may have gained great wisdom can profit from meeting the students’ representatives to hear what they expect to receive from a university. However. I also believe that the students’ representatives should have sufficient wisdom to be able to learn-
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Buttfield has in her possession a copy of the document on which the proposed amendment is based, lt is allegedly obscene. I seek your ruling, Sir, on whether she is allowed to bring it into the chamber in these circumstances. If she is so permitted, I request that it be tabled.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Senator Buttfield is entitled io bring into the chamber any supporting documents she needs for her speech. 1 ‘do not think any demand can properly be made that she table those documents ‘ unless she quotes from them. ‘
-! am amazed at the challenge, because j. have not mentioned any document.
– But . the proposed amendment-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- 1 have ruled against the tabling of the document. :
– I have not mentioned any document. I am speaking about the rights and merits of the Bill.
– You are looking at the document.
– There is no such copy on my desk. I do. noi know how-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I have ruled against ‘ the point of order raised by Senator Keeffe. Senator Buttfield will proceed with her speech.
-! am speaking about the merits of the Bill which concerns the appointment of a .students’ representative to the Australian National University Council. 1 favour that move, but I also support the amendment .moved by Senator McManus of the Australian Democratic Labor Party that we express an opinion that any representative of the students who serves on the Council’ should show a sense of responsibility. I have had a brief glance at the publication which has caused a good deal of upset among honourable senators. 1, too, think it is most unfortunate that a publication of this type should be put into the hands of the community by students. I hope that civil action will be taken against those responsible. But that’ is not the issue in this case. J feel that’ in asking for a representative from the student body to bc pui on the Council we must expect that a responsible person will, bc so appointed. To my mind at present we are not faced with this situation. If we approve of a representative of the student’s union-
– How: many people has the honourable senator’ corrupted by showing them the publication?
– I shall make my speech in my own way. I believe that the representative should be a responsible person. Unfortunately at the present time the Student’s Union has appointed the editorial staff for whatever publication comes out of the University. Therefore that representative of the Union should take the responsibility for any publication. For this pornographic material to be published is in flagrant opposition to the law. What disturbs me more than anything else is the fact that taxpayers’ money is being put into universities lo keep students there in order to produce better citizens for the community. If the taxpayers’ money is to be put to this purpose 1 believe we must keep some control over what goes on in the universities. I am sick aud tired of hearing about academic freedom. The students are nol asking for academic freedom; they are asking for freedom for academics to break the law. 1 am opposed to this. 1 support the amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. We are expressing an opinion on those who may be appointed to the council. We are approving oi: the fact that they may be appointed and saying that they should show a sense of responsibility and not ask for undue freedoms for those in universities which would not be granted to other sections of the community. I do not think the taxpayers should be asked to assist university students under those conditions.
– I think this an extraordinary development in the Senate. I remind honourable senators that in another place nobody mentioned the aspect which is now being canvassed not only by the Australian Democratic Labor Party but by supporters of the Government. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who is in charge of the Bill has stated that the Government intends to support the DLP amendment.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Does the honourable senator mean the amendment moved by Senator McManus?
– Yes. It was rather unusual to find in listening to the debates in another place that members of the Australian National University Council, which includes members of the Government Parties, were in great praise of the student representatives on the Council and of the participation by the President of the Australian National ‘University Students Association who for some years has been invited to attend the Council and has all the rights of a member except the right to vote.
– When was the Bill debated in the other place?
– lt was debated in October.
– That was before this publication came out. ls that right?
– The position is that a few days ago the matter was discussed and a member of the ANU Council, who was a supporter of the Government, and the responsible Minister in another place made no mention of the need to make the sort of strictures which the Government is now proposing by supporting the DLP amendment. That is most unusual. As a matter of fact the Government said: ‘Yes, we think the presence of the students on the Council is a good thing but we are not prepared to extend the representation to the additional student as has been requested.’ But no other reasons were advanced by the Government or by the Liberal Party members of the Council in relation to representation because all facts prove that the consultations on the old basis were good. That is to say whatever information the student representatives had brought to the Council was useful in the administration of the University. The Government felt that their work had been good. In fact the Government has been convinced that they should have a vote. The only thing the Government has not agreed to is that there should be an additional student representative. lt is rather surprising to me to find that not only does the Government take this position but at no stage did it raise the need for any caution in respect of any publication by the students. I suggest that that is an entirely separate matter because I agree with Senator Murphy that if there is such a question to be met it must first be met by the University administration and the students. It should be left at that stage. The Government is shifting from a clear acceptance of the principle that students are entitled to take part in the administration of the University which has been agreed to by the ANU Council. Not only has the Council unanimously recommended what the Government is now proposing but also that there should be an additional representative. This is rather strange to me. I just cannot understand any government shifing from that entirely good and constructive position. The Government’s proposal is not what the students want. It is not what the Opposition wants and it is not what the AN-J Council wants. It is not quite good enough but at least it moves with the times, lt allows the students to take part in the affairs of he University. By those methods embracing the right to vole and accept responsibility it is presumed that whatever correctives there might be against irresponsibility will be achieved in a clean manner.
In those circumstances it is very strange and a most backward step for the Government to come along belatedly and say Yes, we will accept on the spur of the moment some sort of prescription which is quite sketchy.’ If honourable senators want to do so they can examine further reasons for this sort of prescription. The proposed amendment is an expression of opinion. It says ‘for example’. It does not say ‘because a student paper is published which is pornographic’. After all if any honourable senator believes there is a publication which is pornographic he has his rights not only outside the Parliament but also inside the Parliament to specify some action. The DLP wishes to attach an expression of opinion to a motion for the second reading of a Bill which is designed to improve relations within the university and obtain a belter performance from everybody, lt gives the students a chance, which is now approved by their administrators, of being able to share in the voting.
– What administrators?
– The University Council has already agreed unanimously to recommend to the Government-
– I am beginning to wonder whether they administer in some places.
– The people in the academic, scientific and teaching world have said that this is a good thing. The Government has accepted it. In another place there has been no canvassing of this sort of proposition.
– I rise to order. Mr Acting Deputy President, is it your ruling that standing order 416 as amended permits a reference by Senator Bishop to the debate in the other place? Is what he is saying relevant to this debate?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - The Clerk has advised me - and I accept his advice because I believe it is correct and 1 rule accordingly - that Senator Bishop is entitled to make reference to another place if it is relevant to the arguments he is adducing in the terms of this debate. I do not uphold the point of order.
– I do nol intend to labour my argument but I cannot understand why at this stage the Government should decide to accept something which is an odd thought and which reflects on the constructive legislation which it is bringing into the Parliament. I suggest that this situation has not been thought of by the people who devised the legislation. I think it is a last minute notion, lt is ill conceived and it can do a lot of harm to what is now proposed by the Government. The Government has gone part of the way towards reforms under the Australian National University Act. These reforms have been accepted by everybody except that the students say there should be extra representation. They have altered the age and made a number of other improvements and the ANU Council generally, I would imagine, would be prepared to accept what has been proposed. 1 expect that the students will persist in their aim. to get a further student representative on the Council.
That is the position.
Now, at the last minute, apparently the Democratic Labor Party, has persuaded the Government to accept this, amendment. I would be rather interested to hear from the Minister for Works whether his Party and the Cabinet supports the proposition now before the Senate. If . this amendment has not been properly , .considered by the Party organisation and by that section of the Government which concerns . itself with university education, , the Government ought not accept it. .This is the wrong move. I thought some . good might be achieved by this legislation but in my opinion the students certainly, will resent this extra expression tagged on ..to. the motion.
The Democratic Labor Party seeks to say to them: Yes, we have agreed to your representation on the Council of the Australian National University, with all the legal rights attaching to it. You are adults. You are able to vote and talk and argue. But you still suffer from some disability because of something you did in the past. You might choose a representative of the wrong political colour or something else.’ It is quite wrong to add this odd rider to the motion for the second reading. If pornography was not in question, as someone suggested, the Government might go to the extent of suggesting that political activities by students within the University were wrong. The Government might say that demonstrating for peace was wrong, lt might frown upon all the things we accept as being the right of the students.
It is surprising that Liberal members of the Council have applauded what has been proposed and have supported what the Labor Party is now arguing for - extra student representation. All have accepted the fact that student representation on the Council, although without a vote, has provided a most useful means of communication. There is a great need in university education throughout the world today for better communication and a sharing of responsibility from top to bottom. To start putting out proscriptions which have no basis in fact and which refer to an odd section of the university community is not the way to achieve communication and responsibility.
– 1 have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate. The one conclusion I come to very easily is that once again the Australian Labor Party is supporting a minority. I think the people of Australia would agree with my comment. 1 made it because the Labor Party’s argument revolves around what is happening within a minority section of the Australian National University. For a long time many people have tended to criticise university students because df the actions of a very irresponsible few. This is one of the unfortunate aspects that faces so many of our university students today who are good, decent young; Australians. 1 want to say very clearly that 1 support this Bill, which provides for student representation on the Council of the Australian National Univer sity. I for one do not believe in criticising or condemning the majority of university students because of the actions of a few.
Mention has been made today by members of the Opposition, perhaps more so than by members on the Government side, of the pornographic edition which has just been printed. I shall not comment upon what is in that edition, although I have had a look at it and I am very surprised and disgusted. However, there must be responsibility for that publication. As I understand it, the Students Association appoints the publications committee and so the Association in turn must accept some responsibility for that publication. One wonders what action it will take. It will be interesting to see. We must go further and consider who will be the student representative on the Council. It will be the President of the Students Association. That person, as President, must accept some responsibility for this pornographic publication.
The Opposition has brought up all sorts of things in this debate in an effort to digress from the real facts. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and Senator Keeffe both referred to the Vietnam issue and the moralities involved. I can assure them that we on the Government side are ready to take them on in this chamber at any time they wish to bring up that issue again. Time will prove that, politically, right is right and left is left; one of these days the Opposition might wish that ils left had been right. I shall not go into those areas. I think the Opposition has made a point in this debate of trying to duck the main issues.
asked who had seen any pornographic material. I will not ask how many honourable senators in this chamber have seen pornographic material, but 1 will be quite frank and say that I accepted the opportunity provided by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) to see the type of literature that had been kept off the bookshelves and out of book shops by the censors. I made a point of doing this in order to draw my own conclusions as to the judgment of our censors. I shall not discuss censorship at this stage other than to say that I took that opportunity specifically to see for myself what the situation was in regard to pornographic literature. If I am to be criticised for trying to be an honest, factual and practical politician then 1 will stand to be criticised by Senator Milliner. I believe there are two sides to every coin. .If we are to be honest with ourselves and to the people we represent we have to look at both sides of the coin and not merely accept one, which apparently is the philosophy of some Opposition senators. That is all T shall say about Senator Milliner’s comments. The issue we are debating does not relate to pornographic material but to responsibilities.
This Bill will give to the Students Association an opportunity to accept responsibility and to participate in the administration of the University. I support it. At the same time I support the amendment moved by Senator McManus, for the simple reason that it is purely an expression of opinion, lt will show very clearly to these young people that there are responsibilities attached to office. The amendment states that the Senate believes that a student body seeking representation in the control of a university has an obligation and must accept responsibility and have regard for the good name of the university. That body must provide an example. The amendment refers to the rejection of pornography as an example of some of the things that will be expected of the student representative of the Council. I think this amendment adds strength to the Bill. Together with our support for student representation there is an expression of opinion that students in accepting positions will also accept their responsibilities and carry them out. 1 support the amendment and the Bill.
– The Opposition is not trying to duck the issue in this debate. The Bill seeks to amend the Australian National University Act, the issue being that there should be representation of the Australian National University Students Association on the Council of the University. All honourable senators would agree that that would be desirable. Not only would it bring about a greater understanding and an exchange of communication but also it would be educational for both the older people and the younger people to meet together on the councils of the University. 1 can assure Senator Young that we are not trying to duck the main issue, if the Bill hail been introduced last week, prior to the publication of the magazine to which reference has been made, the Senate would have agreed unanimously - if not in writing, in principle - to this amendment: but the Senate believes thai a university student body seeking representation in the control of a university has a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university.
I am quite certain - I can speak from my knowledge of members of various university organisations - that these people hold their universities in very high esteem and that they are men of responsibility. But this great issue has arisen as though it was world shattering. We have to admit that, throughout our lives, individually or collectively, we have come in contact with material similar to that contained in the publication to which T referred. Some people are prepared to accept it; others object to it. The matter is entirely a matter of individual judgment as to what should be done with material such as this. Publication of this material cannot be prevented.
– Do you think it is responsible for students to tell the Postal Department in great scientific detail how to do its job?
– I have always held to the adage that I am not my brother’s keeper.
– You are the keeper of the public purse.
– The public purse can be protected in proper, legal ways. To add an inflammatory and an emotional amendment such as that moved by Senator McManus to an important Bill concerning the highest seat of learning in our land would be foolish. If the amendment is accepted, we would be looked at with contempt by those who think the Senate should not spend its valuable time because of a quick and emotional response to something which was not of the University’s making and not of the University Student Association’s design. Evidently individuals have seen fit to do this sort of thing. Senator Young accused Senator Murphy of dragging morality into the issue. Senator Young said that he would be prepared to debate this at any time. I think the Senate should be judging the morality of students collectively. We should look at the matter in its proper perspective. f.f we bring morality into the issue, we should look at some of the moral problems that we could properly be discussing. One matter of morals is: Honour your father and your mother. But 50,000 mothers and fathers are living in hovels. This is a matter that we could quite easily be discussing if we wanted to discuss matters of morals. Senator Murphy drew attention to this matter of morals: Thou shall not kill. Yet photographs have been taken of Gls holding up the heads of 2 victims. The photographs are sent home as souvenirs. I have nol heard of any censorship of such photographs. Morality is relative; it is a matter of semantics. We could be discussing this matter: Thou shall not steal. In our society usury is the accepted order of the day - hire purchase, high interest rates, restrictive trade practices and the like, and stealing from one another. In this chamber there has been no debate on this matter of morals: Thou shalt nol bear false witness. Smearing people, Com-baiting and like matters could be discussed.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator O’Byrne, 1 think you would be doing your argument and case a good deal of benefit if you returned lo the matters before the Chair.
– I will return to the amendment. I think it is a specious and an unworthy amendment because it deals with a situation that deserves to be dealt with by a tack hammer and not a sledge hammer. The matter could be dealt with at other levels, not at the Senate level. We would degrade the standard established in this legislation if we carried such an addendum to (he Bill. Unless we have confidence in our students and unless we are prepared to build them up and to give them opportunities to face the challenge of the future, we are doing them an injustice. I suggest that the Bill should be agreed to and that we should get on with the job of achieving greater unity, harmony and cooperation in the University. I ask the Senate to reject the amendment.
– in reply - I rise to close the debate on both the Bill and the amendment moved by Senator McManus. 1 have found the debate most interesting. I remind the Senate that the purpose of the Bill is to amend certain sections of the Australian National University Act in the following respects: (a) by increasing the size of the Austraiian National University Council from 38 to 41 members; (b) by increasing undergraduate student representation from 1 to 2 by adding the President of the Australian National University Students’ Association as an ex officio member; (c) by removing the qualification that the undergraduates’ representative be a graduate and that the undergraduates’ repre.senative be a graduate of 2 years standing and by reducing the minimum age of Council membership from 21 to 18 years of age; (d) by admitting Bachelor graduates to convocation immediately upon graduation; (e) by making the office of Secretary of the University subject to the decision of the Council; and (f) by increasing the membership of the Standing Committee of the Council from 9 to 1 2 with the ProChancellor replacing the Vice-Chancel lor as Chairman and by increasing the quorum of this Committee from 5 to 7.
In order to explain the attitude that I wish to express on behalf of the Government to the debate upon the main issues, it is necessary for me firstly to say that some implied challenge has been made to the authority of Parliament and the Government to differ from a recommendation of the University Council as to the composition or structure of the Council. That Council is the governing body of the University and it is the creature of this Parliament. This Parliament has prescribed various qualifications for different sections of the Council and this Parliament has the inalienable responsibility of deciding finally upon the components of the Council The Government and I hope the Parliament in differing from the Council by adding only one student representative to the present single student representative on the Council, is exercising its undoubted responsibility and duty.
Having spoken of matters of external concern - matters which relate to the composition of the Council - I say that it is a different matter altogether when one comes to consider the internal management of the University as a corporate body. The management, good government and discipline of the University itself, along with other things which pertain in detail to those matters, have been committed by this Parliament to the Council. Traditionally universities have enjoyed independence in internal matters and have been free from interference by outside bodies, lt is the maintenance of that unchallenged authority within internal matters that enables them to sustain that academic authority and that academic freedom which most people believe is a prerequisite of uninhibited pursuit of scholarship and research. While 1 am on that preliminary observation may I say that it is a matter of quite interesting study to see how the Australian Labor Party’s opposition to the Government’s proposal to add only one undergraduate university student instead of two contrasts with the amendment which the Australian Labor Party has proposed in which it seeks to subject all the statutes of the University not to the authority of Parliament but to the authority of either House of Parliament.
Before I develop that matter, having stated the antithesis of my approach to, firstly, the external affairs and, secondly: the internal affairs of the University, I want fo address myself to the main part of the Bill upon which there has been debate, namely, whether the Bill goes far enough at the present juncture in adding to the present single student representation on the Council the President of the Australian National University Students Association as an ex officio member. As has been pointed out in every speech by honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber, the Government acknowledges the increasing acceptance of student representation on the governing body of the Council. The point is whether it goes far enough. Legitimate concern has been expressed about the fact that the body already consists of 38 persons and it would be a disadvantage to increase that already large number. It is to be recalled that the other two additions which are to be made to the Council are 2 representatives of the sub-professorial staff. The sub-professorial staff will then have not 2 representatives but 4 representatives under this Bill. 1 would suggest that that, in addition to the extra student representation, recognises that element within the University that is of a younger outlook. 1 submit that for all these reasons the first proposition in the Bill, namely, that one student representative should be added to the Council, is satisfactory.
I take up at this stage the proposition put by Senator Hannan that a definition should be given of the word ‘student’. I ask my colleague to reconsider his submission. I think it will be seen from examination of the Bill that this is provided for. Proposed section 1 1 (I) provides that the person to be elected shall be: a student of the University elected by the students of the University enrolled for study for degrees of Bachelor and by such other students of the University (not being students referred to in the last preceding paragraph), if any, as the Statute, provide. 1 would suggest to Senator Hannan that in providing for the President of the Australian National University Students Association in one paragraph and a student such as one I have described in the other there is a sufficient degree of definition in respect of each of them. If further definition is wanted I suggest that it will be in the minds of the students of the University to whom the right of election is given because they have the authority to elect the person from among their number.
I pass now from the main point of contention to the second most contentious point in order of logic in the Bill, namely, the amendment proposed by Senator McManus. After debating the matter partially last night, Senator McManus put before the Senate this morning an amendment in the following terms:
Al end of ma:ion add ‘, but the Senate believes that a University student body seeking representation in the control of a University has an obligation to show that it has a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the University which would be manifested for example in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of official student journalism’.
The first thing to be noted about the amendment is that it abstains - I would suggest quite properly - from adjudicating upon any particular instance of official student journalism. Secondly, it has been made pertinent and relevant by circumstances which have been brought to the notice of honourable senators since this Bill was considered in the other place. The Bill is designed primarily to increase student representation upon the governing Council of the University. The student body, through its editorial board - appointees of the Association but not agents 1 hope - has put to the undergraduate world and the Press has put lo the public an instance of what people well might think deserves the condemnation which Senator Prowse submitted it to. As this Bill is the result of the student body of the University seeking and being given increased representation on the governing body of the University, if the Senate were to pass it without taking time to reflect and comment upon the students’ magazine it could be inferred that the Senate approves of this sort of publication. Therefore, the amendment moved by Senator McManus is most timely and relevant.
That leaves me to consider only one aspect of the amendment, that is, whether it is proper. We have heard Senator Keeffe and Senator Milliner speak in terms which excite no acceptance, 1 should think, but immediate rejection of their views. We have heard in somewhat more moderate but nevertheless unacceptable terms Senator Bishop’s views. Anybody who does nol subscribe to the proposition that the student body to be represented on the Council of the University has an obligation to show that it has a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university and that that responsibility and regard should be manifested, for example, in a rejection of crude pornography as a feature of official student journalism comes beneath the standards of the ordinary citizen of this country, beneath the standards of the Parliament of the country, and certainly beneath the standards which I hope are being cultivated in the area where we are giving opportunities for special education in the proprieties, decencies and efficiencies of modern civilisation. I for my part and 1 believe every Government supporter will support the expression of opinion that has been opportunely and properly advanced by Senator McManus.
I shall now mention briefly the other amendment which has been foreshadowed. lt is one of unique contrariety to anything else that has fallen from Senator Murphy. In the first place, Senator Murphy says that if the University Council recommends that 2 university undergraduates be appointed to the Council we as a Parliament should accept that recommendation. When dealing with Senator McManus’s amendment, be suggested that the Senate should concern itself with its own affairs and that the Council should deal with questions of decency and propriety within the University. But in his amendment, which seeks to make the statutes of the University subject to supervision by either House of Parliament only for the purpose of ensuring that either House will be authorised in future to disallow any single statute if it disagrees with it, Senator Murphy is trying to interfere in the government of the University, here the internal government of the University, to a degree which is practically without precedent. We have the odd situation in which the Australian Labor Party opposes, for the sake of opposition, opposes Senator McManus for the sake of indecency, and then for the sake of its own conceit wishes lo put forward an amendment which will subject every element of the .University Council statutes lo disallowance by either House of the Parliament.
To see the degree of usurpation of authority of the University Council which is proposed one simply looks at the subject matter of the statutes which may be made by the University. They are as follows: The management, good government and discipline of the University; the use and custody of the common seal; ‘the method of any election, other than of a senator or member of the House of Representatives, provided for by the Act; the persons who are to be regarded as members of the academic staff for the purpose of the election under section 11; the manner and time of convening meetings; the resignation of members of the Council or of tiny Board established by the Act and of the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor: and the tenure of office of the Vice-Chancellor. There are a few more which I shall omit. Then this one appears: The number, stipend, manner of appointment and dismissal of deans, professors, lecturers, examiners ‘and other officers and servants of the University. All these are matters covered by statutes which have been passed by the University Council, published in ils calendar and submitted to the Governor-General-in-Council , and authorised by the GovernorGeneralin.Council. Other matters which 1 refer to are the matriculation of students, promotion and extension of University teaching, the granting of degrees, the granting of fellowships and the admission of members of Convocation.
– Could you find for us the rules on the matriculation of students that you mentioned? Perhaps if your officers could produce those they would be of some assistance in the debate.
– The honourable senator has referred to the rules for matriculation. Since he has mentioned that matter, it will suffice for my purposes as a subject matter on which to conclude.I believe these matters belong in a peculiar way to the University itself. An intrusion by one House of Parliament would be, in my respectful submission, quite unwarranted and unforgivable in the eyes of most academic institutions. This attitude is expressed in all their literature but particularly in the report of the Murray Committee, which we had before us in 1957.
The matriculation standards of the University are jealously guarded by the professorial board, that is to say, not the Council of the University but the academic body within the government of the University, and if lay personnel or bodies consisting of other than scholars wish to dictate the matriculation standards of the University they attack the foundations of the academic structure of the University. I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) for mentioning that subject because it highlights the special field in which academics have autonomy because of their specialised knowledge. It is most inappropriate that lay bodies or members of the Council should seek to have authority even to participate in that field. Therefore, I hope that the Senate will pass the Bill together with the amendment moved by Senator McManus, but will reject Senator Murphy’s amendment.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Mcmanus’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill rend a second time.
-I refer to clause 3 which reads:
Section 11 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting paragraphs (i)to (l), inclusive, of subsection (1.) and inserting in their stead the following paragraphs: “(i) two members of the academic staff of the Institute, not being professors, elected by the members of that staff other than the professors;
This provision, which has been the main subject of contention in the Bill, deals with the composition of the Council of the Australian National University. The Government’s proposal is contained in paragraph (I) of clause 3 of the Bil! which is in these terms:
A student of the University elected by the students of the University enrolled for study for degrees of Bachelor and by such other students of the University … if any. as the Statutes provide.
The amendment which 1 have advanced is based on the recommendation of the University. The Opposition sees no reason why it should not be accepted by the Committee; indeed, we see every reason why it should be accepted.
In the second reading debate the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) had a few words to say about the Opposition’s attitude to the University. Here is a clear case of the Council of the University suggesting that 2 students should be added to the Council. They want 2 students, as well as the President of the Australian National University Students’ Association, to be on the Council. If the Government is sincere in its attitude to the University, if it wants to help to solve the problems which are created when the students feel that they are excluded from participation in the affairs of the University, why on earth does not the Government agree to the proposal made by the body which is responsible for the conduct of the University and which has considered this matter over a considerable period? The Council has discussed the matter and has come to the conclusion that it should recommend that 2 students be elected. 1 do not know, because 1 have not been able to gain the information from the Minister, why the Government feels it to be so terribly important that the recommendation that 2 students be elected should be rejected and that only one student should be elected. In what way will that improve the position? One would think that there would have to be a strong case to overcome the recommendation of the Council of the University. lt knows the problem that it has with numbers; it knows the size of the Council: it is familiar with the administration of the University and the handling of its own domestic problems, and it believes that 2 students should be elected.
When the Minister is dealing with this matter will he indicate to me how the Government has become so convinced that it is right? What investigations’ has the Government made? On what basis is it acting when it comes to the conclusion that in some way the Council is erroneous in its recommendation, that it will be: better for the work of the University and the Council for the recommendation of the Council lo be rejected, and that the Government’s view should be accepted? My information - I hope the honourable ..senator will correct me if I am wrong - is that Senator Rae, the Government’s representative on the University Council, was party to this recommendation which was carried unanimously. I shall proceed on the assumption, unless I am corrected, that that, is right. I would like to be informed early to save proceeding on this assumption if it is incorrect. Senator Rae is the Government representative from this chamber who was elected to the Council of the Australian National University to see how -the University operated and to lake part in the Council’s deliberations. If I am correct he came to the conclusion that the proposal of the Council was correct and that there should be 2 representatives of the students.
My understanding in respect of the other House is the same, that both the representative of the Government and the Opposition agreed with this view., as I do. If this is the opinion of members sent by the Government and the Opposition to this body and if this is the unanimous view of the Council, why is this view being rejected? What is the basis upon which the Government decides that the representation must be something different? lt seems to be a capricious exercise for the Government to take this view. For the benefit of Senator Rae, I was suggesting that it was my recollection, understanding and information, although 1 may be incorrect, that he agreed wilh the view of the Council that there should be 2 students elected from among their number by students at the University. If 1 am wrong, perhaps the honourable senator would inform me immediately, but it is my understanding and information that he was concurring in that view, as I did. Here we are dealing wilh a part of (he social life of Australia, and when we find that the body concerned with it has made up its mind in a certain way, and overwhelmingly so, surely it is a reasonable proposition that the Parliament should accede to that view, unless there is a really strong case to say that we should depart from that view. 1 ask Senator Rae whether I am correct in the assumption that 1 was proceeding upon, that he concurred in this view of the University Council.
– 1 shall be speaking on the subject.
– If we turn from th. request of the University Council lo general considerations, one finds that all over the world there is a move for greater participation by people in every walk of life. They want to be party lo the decisions which affect them, and that is the attitude of the oung men and women in the University. They are’ not children; they arc young men and women and they want to know why decisions are being made. They want to have representatives on the Council and they are entitled to that. There should not be one representative only because there may be a variety of viewpoints and there may be reasons why more than one should be present. We commonly find in deliberative bodies that more than one voice is needed. This is especially so when the whole body of students is to be represented. After all, they are the people who are the reason for the existence of the university, lt is not there for the professors, nor is if there for the businessmen or the parliamentarians who are on the Council: the reason for its existence is the education of the students. We suggest thai the course followed all over the world indicates that greater student participation in the governing bodies of universities is going to occur. 1 was informed by a student during the lunch hour that as long ago as 1927 in Mexico the governing body of the university became composed of onethird of students, one-third of academic staff and one-third of those who were not in either of those categories but were nevertheless in the university.
– Why should they dictate about their studies? They are there to learn,
– 1 think what the honourable senator is suggesting is quite right in one sense, that they should not be concerned with, say, the administration of the university. 1 think they would not want to be concerned with the administration in the sense of the day to day running of the university. However, they might well be concerned about the courses they have and very often they would be concerned lo have those courses upgraded.
– in appointments to the lecturing staff they demand a say.
– They may well be concerned, as apparently the students were al the beginning of the great riots in France in 1968, with the quality of the education that they are having. In France the students were not Irving to make life easier for themselves; they were complaining that conditions were not satisfactory and that they were not getting the education that they wanted. The shock waves from those incidents in France in 1968 went right around the world, but it was very noticeable that after all the riots and trouble had occurred, and after the battling in the streets. President de Gaulle of France said that he was satisfied, having looked into it, that the students were right. Perhaps if those students had been given some say in the governing of their universities it would not have been necessary for the situation to have developed into the riots and revolutions that occurred in 1968. President de Gaulle said in that famous speech of his that this was not the way to go about it but that he was satisfied that the students were right and that their complaints were correct.
We should be looking forward lo much more participation by the students. We will find it in other sections of society. This is the way that the world will go, There will be far more participation in the decisions which affect persons, and the presence of students on the governing Council of the University may well lead to an improvement in the quality of education. It is to their interests that the education be better and it is to their interests that inefficiency be removed, (hat standards be improved and that the cobwebs be blown out of the educational system. In many respects it is to their interest to achieve these things. But whatever is involved, whether their suggestions are right or wrong, they are entitled to know what goes on and they are entitled to participate through some representation in decisions which are made.
I suggest that what is proposed by the Council is very moderate and that it would be reasonable for the Committee to accept the suggestions, certainly in the absence of some overwhelming case against their acceptance. 1 ask that the Committee agree to the amendment.
– The Democratic Labor Party will not support the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy for the purpose of increasing the number of student representatives on the Council of the Australian National University. We do not agree with his argument that there is some obligation or call for us to accept the recommendation of the Council. If it were automatic that the recommendations of the Council would be accepted, the question could well be asked: Why bring those recommendations before the Senate? The fact that they come here is an indication that they are to be subject to scrutiny and decision by the Senate. The Government has scrutinised (his proposal and the Democratic Labor Party and the other parties have examined it. The Australian Labor Party has come to the conclusion that it agrees that there should be more than one representative, but the Democratic Labor Party and the Government do not agree that there should be more than one. We have heard the argument that there may be differing points of view among the students.
– More than one additional.
– Additional, I mean. The argument has been used that there may be a number of differing points of view among the students and that by increasing the representation we could ensure that those views were adequately expressed. But that could be an argument for increasing the number by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Why should we limit it to just an extra one if we are to have regard to all the differing opinions that may be expressed? In my view, if the person is chosen by the students, as he will be, he should be able effectively to represent at least the majority point of view and also, if he is a fair minded person, to give some expression to minority points of view.
The suggestion has been made by Senator Murphy that we should be bound by the fact, as he believes it to be, that the representatives of the Parliament on the
Council of the University either supported this proposal or did not actively oppose it. I do not know why the Democratic Labor Party should be regarded as being bound by that, if it did happen. 1 do not know whether it did. The Democratic Labor Party is not represented on the Council of the University. The Government parties are represented, and the Australian Labor Party is represented. But all we ever know about representation is that every now and again we are informed that certain persons have been nominated to represent the Parliament on the Council of the University. I suppose that theoretically it could be said that when the report is made we have an opportunity to seek inclusion in the representation. But everybody knows that the choice of the representatives is made in the party caucuses. We 6 members of the Senate are not given any opportunity to participate in the choice. Shortly there will be 8 members of the Senate in that situation. We have no opportunity to participate in the choice and we are denied representation on the Council of the University.
Yet Senator Murphy says that we ought to be bound by the decisions or the views of those members of the Council of the University who in one sense represent the Parliament but who actually represent only the Government and (he Australian Labor Party. A section of the Parliament is excluded from any representation on the Council of the University. So the situation is that, even if Senator Murphy believes that his Party and the Government parties should be bound lo some degree by the attitudes adopted by their, representatives, as we have no representatives we are perfectly free on this occasion to put our own point of view. Let me say once again that I believe in the principle of representation of students and I have supported it. But I have not heard any real reason why we should make the number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 20, 30, or 40. In those circumstances, until some more compelling reasons than the ones we have heard are brought forward, I believe that we ought to accept. the Government’s proposition.
– Senator Murphy, in effect, challenged me to speak on this matter. 1 am happy to accept the challenge. I had every intention of- speaking anyway. I want to make it clear that [ express 2 differing views and I .find it difficult to reconcile them. Firstly I have a personal view, which is that the generally accepted theme of recognition of student participation in university administration is one that should be pursued. 1 do not think there is anybody in this chamber who does nol accept that it is a good idea that students be represented on the Council and that there should be a sufficient number of representatives for it to be a meaningful representation. So the question becomes: What is a meaningful representation? In other words, what is meaningful in the repercussions throughout the student community of (he association with the administration which a number of students on the Council can have?
My own view, after participating in discussions among the members of the Council of the Australian National University, reading the reports of the various people who considered the matter and having discussions with students, was that it certainly was not overwhelming the Council to have 2 more students on it and that generally it would be better to have 2 more students on it; in other words, that it was not a huge departure from the situation that already existed and that 2 representatives could achieve the results that were sought by those who put forward the proposal to a considerably greater extent than could one representative. People here have already committed themselves. So I do not think there is any purpose in my going in detail through the reasons why 2 would be better than one. But let me put it on this basis: Students have functions other than being student administrators. They have examinations to pass. They have other interests to pursue.
– Such as publishing newspapers.
– Senator Prowse makes an interjection about students publishing newspapers. Let me make it quite plain that I do not wish to enter into any argument about the newspaper that was published. Being a student representative on the administrative body of a university is an onerous task. It takes up a great deal of time. I suggest that, if the load can be spread a little further and if one more person can have the experience that being on the Council will give and be able to translate that experience into the administration of student affairs within his own res ponsibility, considerably greater advantages can accrue. It also broadens the prospect of representation of various ideas of the students being available to the Council. For those reasons, at the time the matter was discussed by the Council I believed that it would be to the greatest advantage of all if the number was 2 rather than one.
However, I find myself in this position: I am not on the Council Ibr any reason of my own merit or my own position. I am there because I was nominated by the members of the Government parties in this chamber to represent them. I find that, had I discussed this matter with the people whom I represent on the Council before any vote was taken on it by the Council, as their representative I would have been bound to vote in a different way from that in which I did. I find myself in this position: I personally have one view, but those whom 1 represent on the Council have another view. I consider that in those circumstances I am bound to accept the . view of the majority. I find that it is a majority of 26 or 27 to one. which is a fairly overwhelming majority.
In those circumstances I can but say that in this capacity I do not act in what [ believe are the best interests of the University; I must act in what those whom [ represent believe are the best interests of the University. Therefore, even though I have supported one view previously, I must accept that I must try again. I give notice that, if the Council discusses the matter again I will continue to try to persuade my colleagues on this side of the chamber that it would be a good idea to extend the number. If the majority of 26 or 27 to one can be changed to a situation of my being in a majority, perhaps things will ba belter. Therefore, I do not intend to support the amendment. But I make my position quite clear, namely, that at the first opportunity I have to discuss the matter further I shall continue to put the Council’s view and the view that I personally hold.
– I only wish, in deference of Senator Murphy’s reference to this matter, to state briefly that the reasons for opposing the increase are, as I mentioned in my reply to the second reading debate, the present size of the body. Secondly, there is no argument sufficient to persuade the Government in the increasing’ number of undergraduates to be represented by these 2 students. Thirdly, I want to place on record as a matter of information the position in other universities in Australia at the present time. The number of student representatives in this way ranges from one to three. Some of the larger universities, such as the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland have only one undergraduate representative. Other universities which have only one undergraduate representative on their governing bodies are Macquarie University, the University of New England, the University of Newcastle, the University of Wollongong - in which case the one student represents both graduate and undergraduate students - the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of Tasmania. Monash University and the James Cook University have student representatives and the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and the University of Western Australia have 3. I thought it would be convenient to have that record of the present situation brought up to date.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved inthe negative.
– As I indicated earlier, during the second reading debate, I am opposed to the appointment of any students to the Council in the existing situation. When the Bill was drafted it was drafted in the belief that the student body of the Australian National University consisted of responsible students. 1 believe that they have demonstrated that there is a grave doubt whether they are worthy to be accepted on a body controlling a university. They have demonstrated that they cannot control their own affairs in a responsible manner.
I think that the question of censorship that has been raised is a legitimate matter for students to be interested in. They can demonstrate their opposition to censorship in various ways, but the matter they have chosen is an affront to public decency. I think they have done their cause a great disservice because they have clearly demonstrated the need for censorship by choosing Orientation Week, when a number of young students of 17 or 18 years of age come to the university for the first time, to circulate a paper which defies all the accepted standards of human conduct and which represents human beings in a way in which the lowest animals would not behave.
I believe that they have done a gross disservice to their university. They have brought into disrepute the standard of their academic achievements. Until the students or the university authorities have given evidence that they are responsible by dealing with the latest issue of ‘Woroni’, until they have demonstrated that as a student body they disapprove of it, I believe we should suspend any further consideration of this Bill. My first thought was to move for the deletion of these clauses from the Bill but I do not now believe that that would meet the case, because I feel that the students must be represented on the Council. It is urgently necessary that they have that means of expressing their desires to the university authorities. I believe that the Senate should suspend further consideration of the Bill until it receives an assurance that the students of the Australian National University are responsible. I therefore will not move an amendment. Instead, I appeal to my leader in this debate to report progress and to seek leave to sit at another time.
– I wish to reply to Senator Prowse’s statement, with great respect. I appreciate his anxiety and the attitude he has expressed. On the other hand, the Senate has given expression to the standard of responsibility it calls for from the student body. We are reposing confidence in the governing authority of the Australian National University that it will accept its responsibilities. The civil authorities have not yet dealt with a particular matter. Having regard to that, I consider that the Senate is not the appropriate House to adjudicate upon a particular matter. I therefore ask that the Committee continue with the consideration of the Bill.
– I move:
Because of a drafting problem it became necessary to circulate the amendment I have moved in substitution for amendment No. 2 previously circulated. The purpose of the proposed amendment should be made very clear. I hope that it will be treated on its merits and will not be treated, as I apprehend from the words of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), for the purpose of engaging in an attack upon those who put it forward. The purpose of the amendment is to carry into effect the principles which the Senate has regarded as proper, as I understand the position, in regard to delegated legislation; that is, that delegated legislation of any kind ought to be subject to the supervision of Parliament.
It is intended also in a constructive way to advance the autonomy of the Australian National University, subject to the first principle I have stated. The Australian National University has been given power to make statutes in the nature of regulations or ordinances as we are used to them for the conduct of the University. It is also empowered to make rules and by-laws on the same subject matters. Those subject matters are extremely important. Some of them were referred to by the Minister. They cover such aspects as the management, good government and discipline of the University, the matriculation of students, the resignation of members of the Council and various boards, and so forth. So that there will not be any misunderstanding I emphasise that the statutes are concerned with the law. These are matters of delegated legislation. We are speaking not about the administration of discipline but about the rules and the laws which are to apply in the University.
– Could we use the term university statute’ as against ‘parliamentary statute’?
– I will endeavour to do that. University statutes are a kind of delegated legislation, so that there would be a university statute in the nature of a law, setting out matters with respect, for example, to the resignation of members of the Council. That is the kind of matter a university statute would deal with and the same is true of other species of delegated legislation. We are not concerned now with the administrative aspects of the university statutes which deal with discipline or who would administer them. We are not concerned with the carrying out of those laws, the administrative acts. What we are concerned with is law, not administration, and that should be kept well in mind.
We are concerned with the general rules, the laws which are to be made. At present the laws made by university statutes, when approved by the Council of the University, are transmitted for the approval of the Governor-General. Upon being approved by the Governor-General they are notified in the Commonwealth Gazette and thereupon have the force of law. Those university statutes are to be laid before each House within 15 sitting days after notification of the university statute in the Gazette’. This means that the University does not have the independence and autonomy that I believe it should have. It ought to have power to make rules on this subject, to make its statutes so that they become law, subject to the superintendence of the Houses of Parliament, as is done with other ordinances and regulations. However, I believe that the Australian National University should not have to obtain the approval of the Government before the university statutes become law. I would suggest with respect to the Minister
– W’hy do you say ‘the approval of the Governor’?
– Because they are transmitted-
– Not to the GovernorGeneral in Council but the GovernorGeneral. It is not to the Governor-General in Council but to the Governor-General.
– The GovernorGeneral acts, as always, on the advice given to him. He acts on the advice of the appropriate Minister and does not act of his own accord in these matters. Neither is it a formality. He acts on the advice of the appropriate Minister. The appropriate Minister would be the Minister for the Interior or perhaps the Minister for Education and Science. Here it means that although the Council makes something in the nature of law, its university statute must first obtain the approval of the Government before it is to operate. I would suggest for the consideration of honourable senators that the autonomy of the university would be advanced if it did not have to obtain the approval of the Government for the university statutes which it made but rather that these would, as in the case of other ordinances, become law, would be tabled in the Houses and would continue to be law unless someone saw fit to move for and obtained the concurrence of a House in the disallowance of such a rule. This seems to be a proper provision more in line with what is done with other delegated legislation and I think it would avoid difficulties which have been run into.
One of the difficulties it seems to me which is occurring is that where there is a necessity to obtain such approval of the Government, and these things have the tendency to take a very long time, endeavours are made to avoid this. That is not altogether satisfactory. It does seem that there has been a tendency to reduce some of the university statutes almost to what might be called a one line or a few lines provision. For example, the university statutes no longer effectively cover matriculation. Instead of the university statute setting out for use in 1971 what the rules are in regard to matriculation - this is a matter of general public interest - we find that the matter is not really governed effectively by such a statute as the Act and this Bill clearly intended. The modus operandi in regard to this and other subjects has been to utilise the provision which said that the statutes may empower the Council to make rules or by-laws. Section 27 (2.) states:
The statutes may provide for empowering any authority (including the Council) or officer of the University to make by-laws, rules or orders (not inconsistent with this Act or with any Statute) for regulating, or providing for the regulation of, any specified matter (being a matter with respect to which Statutes may be made) or for carrying out or giving effect to the Statutes, and any such bylaw, rule or order shall have the same force and effect as a Statute.
The course seems to have been that on a number of subjects the statute said nothing other than that the Council can make a rule or by-law. The rule or by-law is made, but the view has been taken that one does not have to go through the procedure of tabling it. The net effect is that we do not have the clear public law that one would think the original Act intended. My information even suggests that it has become impossible for persons to know what, for example, are the rules as to admission of students. I have been informed by those who have contacted the University that they have been told: ‘If you tell us what your case is or what your circumstances are youwill be told whether you can be admitted’. If the person asks what the rules are on the matter he cannot obtain them. This means there has been a retreat from what Parliament intended should be the area of the rule of law. Section 27 (1.) says:
The Council may from time to time make, alter and repeal Statutes with respect to all or any of the following matters:
The matriculation of students;
It was pretty clear that what Parliament intended was that the rules in regard to this could be made by the university statute and that they would at least be public. But we find, on my information, that they are not. I think the reason for this may be the inconvenient procedure whereby the university has to obtain the Government’s approval of university statutes. This may be a slow and inconvenient process. I think it would be better if the Council were given full power. Let the Council make whatever laws it thinks are right and proper. Let them be published in the ‘Gazette’ and let that be the rule unless there is some intervention, which I would imagine would be an extremely rare thing. But the fact that such a provision was there would mean that the supremacy of Parliament would be preserved.
– Would it lead to an undesirable loss of flexibility?
– I would think not because the Council would be able to change its university statutes as it thought fit in the same way as can be done with the other ordinances we have seen. I put this forward as no more than a constructive way to meet the problem.
– What is the Council’s attitude towards your amendment?
– I do not know what the Council’s attitude is towards the amendment.
– Do you know the university administration’s attitude?
– No, I do not know the university administration’s attitude but, if you would allow me to continue, I was about to suggest that this is the kind of thing that may be appropriate for the Senate Standing Committeee on Regulations and Ordinances to examine because I think there are some problems here first of all in the slowness with which this Bill has proceeded - it was held up for a very long time. From my observations I think it would add to the independence of the University, its autonomy and its flexibility if this change were made. What are we doing after all? We are saying effectively that we will take out the necessity for approval. We will see to it that all these laws - it is important to recognise that I am not talking about the administrative acts but the laws - are in statutes.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise simply to give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to conclude his submissions.
– I thank the Minister. It seems to me that my suggestion would be an advance. It would bring this body into line with the operation of delegated legislation as we know it. I suggest that the debate be adjourned at 6 o’clock if it is thought that the matter requires consideration. It could easily be deferred for consideration or referred to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I think that this would really add flexibility to the University. That is the matter to which Senator Rae has referred. After all, the University is concerned with making the rules which it wants. The honourable senator asked me whether we should consult the Australian National University Council. We know that it wants to make certain rules or university statutes. Presumably it wants these statutes to come into operation. Surely once university statutes have been made they should come into operation. One would think that the approval of the Government would not have to be obtained before they came into operation.
– Can the honourable senator say what the position is with other universities in Australia? Do they require government or parliamentary approval of their statutes?
– I am afraid I cannot say. It is my understanding that they do not but the Minister may be able to clear that up. That is what the Opposition advances as a proposal to the Committee. We think the system is not operating as well as it should. Delays ought to be avoided. The university statutes should come into operation forthwith. They should not require government approval before they do so. The only condition under which they should not operate is where a House of Parliament sees fit to disallow them. This would give the government its opportunity - in the light of the debate in the chamber - to disallow if the Senate thought fit. It would bring these matters into the open arena and allow the subject of delegated legislation to be dealt with in much the same way as it is dealt with elsewhere.
– Would it not follow that the better course would be to withdraw this amendment and allow the Bill to go through? A letter could be written to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, the Government and the Australian National University Council in order to obtain a concordance of view. The matter could be raised again in 2 or 3 months.
– I thank the Minister for his suggestion. But if one is going to effect one of these changes the only time to strike is when the iron is hot. The Bill took a long time to reach this chamber. I remember some complaints about the length of time it was taking to have these matters attended to. The complaints were gentle and polite. Nevertheless they were definite complaints that it was very difficult to obtain action by the Government. I am not blaming this Government because I think that probably the same remark applies to any government. The prime concerns of universities are not the prime concerns of the government. It seems to me that in principle once one decides that the university statute is to operate and this is the means by which it is going to be looked at, one then moves outside the area where there could be direct objection on their behalf and one is bringing this situation into line with the general approach to delegated legislation.
That is why I suggest this course to the Minister. If we do not do something about it now while the opportunity is here it may not arise again. If the Minister thinks fit we need not deal with this Bill this afternoon. It has been around a long time. I understand that the people concerned have been asking for it for several years.
– ‘Maybe it was more than a year, but it was not several years.
– A delay of a week would not hurt. Perhaps the proposals could be referred to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee to have a look at them. I think it would be better not to stand this amendment over because we could lose it and then another enactment would be needed. I feel that the workings of this delegated legislation could be changed with advantage to both the University and the Parliament. Our amendment is put forward on that basis and on the general basis that that is how delegated legislation should operate.
– I rise because the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has stated his submission and I think that the Government’s point of view should be now put. In the first place it is delightful to find Senator Murphy in such a low key at this stage of the proposition. Obviously he acknowledges the anomalies of the position. I hold the strong view that the statutes of the University do not come within the purview of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Ordinances, rules and regulations which are perpetually referred to that Committee are, iri my view, ordinances, rules and regulations of a totally different character.
– They are rules of the public law.
– Yes. I have not had an opportunity to confirm that view by study. I state that they would not come within the ambit of that Committee’s authority because of some 10 or 12 years experience of the Committee. The statutes which are being discussed are statutes of the governing body of the University. As Senator Byrne reminded the Leader of the Opposition at the outset and has just taken the opportunity of restating, they establish law within the University’s jurisdiction. That jurisdiction is prescribed by statute of
Parliament to which we agree. It is not a law which has the slightest effect when it is inconsistent with the general law of the land. It in no way overrides the law of the land. It simply gives expression and authority to rules for the internal management of the University. When we speak of the statutes of the University, we speak of provisions of the government of the University.
I find it extremely difficult to reconcile the submissions which have fallen from Senator Murphy with his statements to the Senate about whether the student representation should be 2 additional representatives or one additional representative. Because the ANU Council made a recommendation to the Government a complaint was made that the Government took the opportunity not to accept that recommendation in toto but in part. In other words a recommendation having proceeded from the Council on a matter of its own composition, the proposition was that the Government had no right to vary that recommendation. Now the very essence of the proposal which the Leader of the Opposition is putting before us is that any statute made by the Council should be capable of being varied or disallowed by either House of Parliament. To me that is an assault upon the traditional concept of academic autonomy which I should think would have been advanced only after the greatest consultation and consideration.
– The Minister has forgotten
– I listened to the honourable senator in silence and with great forbearance. I want to state my point of view. The Murray Committee, in its report, made an excellent observation, I think, on the role of the university in the 1950s. It stated:
No independent nation in the modern age can maintain a civilised way of life unless it is well served by its universities; and no university nowadays can succeed in its double aim of high education and the pursuit of knowledge without the good-will and support of the Government of the country. Governments are therefore bound to give to universities what assistance they need to perform their proper functions; but in their turn universities are bound to be vigilant to see that they give the services to the community that are required by the necessities of the a’ge.
One other brief passage states:
On their side the universities have the inescapable duty to carry out the education of the gifted young of the nation and to carry out certain kinds of research in the best spirit of western tradition; and to guard and secure their integrity in the free pursuit of knowledge and in the free education which they offer. We feel confident that no Australian government will seek to deny them their full and free independence in carrying out their proper functions as universities.
Here the proposition is that the statutes of the University should come under supervision, disallowance or variation imposed by either House of the Parliament. That proposition is put on the part of the Leader of the Opposition without saying whether or not he has submitted it, for comment even, to the Council or the ViceChancellor. I suggest he has not.
This proposition was put only last night for the first time in a different form. It was not advanced by his Party when the Bill was before the House of Representatives - last week I believe. It has not been advanced even for discussion over the period since this Bill was first promoted by the University Council, which we are led to believe has been an inordinate time. So far as the Vice-Chancellor, not having had an opportunity to consult his Council, can speak on behalf of the University he wishes it to be known that his opinion is that the proposition should be rejected. That submission by the Vice-Chancellor is adopted by the Government for the reason that Parliament has seen fit to set up the University as an independent, selfgoverning public institution.
Obviously the relationship between the University, the Parliament and the executive administration is both important and delicate. The distinction between the supervision of our statute making power and the supervision of the University statute making power by the Executive as at present, or by Parliament as proposed, is a difficult one to draw. But it is believed that the present Act has rightly preserved the balance between the public accountability and the autonomy essential to an effective university. Not least important in this balance is the presence of parliamentary members on the Council - that is to say, two members representing each House. This balance should not lightly be disturbed. Nor would the Parliament wish to be concerned in detail with such matters as the policy and administration of student discipline, the qualifications for enrolment, the prescription of courses, the award of degrees or other matters of university administration which are by this statute of Parliament laid upon the Council itself. The Council is composed of most experienced men from all fields of life, including the academic sphere, appointed by the Government for that very purpose. All these matters are vital to the autonomy and public stature of the University, and they are firmly on record in the University Calendar and in carefully detailed annual reports to the Parliament.
There is a complete misconception of the situation when the Leader of the Opposition invokes the long cherished attitude of this House to its ever vigilant supervision of subordinate legislation. There we take our right from our parliamentary system. Having delegated to the executive Government of the country the right to make rules of application to the general public - general laws - we have constituted a committee to supervise those rules to see they do not impinge on individual rights and do not usurp the right of Parliament to make substantial legislation, whereas we think regulations should conform to matters of detail and should be consistent with the statute. But even so the ambit of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has always stopped short of entering upon a consideration of the policy of the subordinate legislation. We have taken supervision of four named categories which sternly exclude policy.
Therefore, I submit that our attitude to subordinate legislation has little to do with the argument that has been put forward here. I will not repeat what I said in my second reading speech, in the hope that those who are good enough to listen to me at this stage were present at that time. I just remind the Senate that I then referred to an enumeration of matters on which University statutes are made, including matriculation, promotion and extension of university teaching, degrees, diplomas, certificates and honours, the granting of fellowships, scholarships, exhibitions and bursaries and other such matters which are regulated by University statute. For these reasons I would urge the Committee not to agree to this amendment, which has been precipitately advanced for acceptance and has been given little consideration.
– I understand that we are still examining the
Bill as a whole. I wish to return to Senator Prowse’s bete noir - proposed paragraphs (ja) and (1) of section 11 which are provided for in clause 3. I align myself with the attitude he has taken. I only wish I could express my view on the subject as well as he has. I believe the amendment which has been moved by Senator McManus has greatly ameliorated the position inasmuch as it has indicated to the relevant authorities the seriousness with which this chamber views the matter.. However, at the risk of trying the patience and forbearance of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is in charge of the Bill, I add my request that he reconsider the suspension of proposed paragraphs (ja), (k) and (1) of section 11. I do not intend to put forward any amendment, as I have indicated to the Minister. I know that the clause will be carried on the voices but I think I should make known my personal point of view. Whilst I am on my feet I ask the Minister if he is able to say whether the Student Association receives any financial assistance from the University authorities which goes towards the publication of the journal ‘Woroni’.
– I rise out of respect for what Senator Hannan said and to reply directly to him. The position is that the Australian National University does not make any appropriation out of public funds for the student body. The Students Association is funded entirely by student fees, with very occasional exceptions when it is given minor grants for particular purposes.
– Are the fees payable compulsory?
– Permit me to get direct advice upon that point. With regard to the submission made to me for the suspension of the operations of these sections, I receive that suggestion with a great degree of understanding. However I still wish to say that the reasons why I ask for the enactment of this Bill in whole today are these: Firstly, the Senate has given expression to its point of view in the amendment moved by Senator McManus. Secondly, we know that the University Council has a responsibility in this matter and we should do nothing to inhibit or usurp it but rely in confidence on it to deal with its responsibilities. Thirdly, civil law enforcement has been referred to and it is my understanding that if a civil offence is established, after proper investigation, the law will be enforced. Fourthly, I take the view that in regard to expressing any judgment, however tentative, upon a particular proposition that may affect the rights of an individual person, a House of Parliament is a most inappropriate tribunal to express even a tentative point of view. So from the point of view of the particular situation I would hope that my counsel that the Bill, as public legislation, proceed on the basis of those matters would be satisfactory to the Senate.
Turning now to Senator Hannan’s question about whether fees of the Students Association are compulsorily payable by the students, the answer is yes. As I understand it the University law requires fees to be paid by the Students to the Association.
While on my feet, and in the hope that this will conclude the debate, but not wishing to exclude anybody from speaking, I think that the Senate would wish to know that the situation in all States is that statutes must be approved by the State Governor. In 4 of the States - ‘Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania - that is all that is necessary apart from tabling and gazettal procedures which do not involve any power on the part of State parliaments to allow or disallow statutes. In South Australia university statutes need only to be approved by the Governor. However, university by-laws, which in some cases deal with subjects similar to those dealt with by the Australian National University statutes, may be disallowed by parliament. In Western Australia university statutes may be annulled by parliament after they have been approved by the Governor.
– I rise on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party to indicate that we do not support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). The consensus in the chamber is that it desires to preserve academic autonomy to the greatest possible extent. Strangely enough, Senator Murphy thinks that that would be more appropriately accomplished by the amendment he projected. On the other hand others think that if these matters were continuously brought under the scru tiny of Parliament and were subject to disallowance, this would have the effect of truncating autonomy.
I favour the second view; that this would have the effect of truncating and circumscribing such autonomy as we wish to confer upon the universities.
The university lies, in one realm, in that strange intermediate position in which the public corporation lies in another area. The day to day affairs of the public corporation are not subject in any particular sense to parliamentary scrutiny, the reason being to preserve the commercial viability and initiative of the independent public commercial corporation. In the same way it possibly is appropriate that the university, in its day to day operations, should not come under the complete daily scrutiny of Parliament so that its intellectual viability and its level of intellectual initiative can be preserved. They can be best preserved and maintained and developed in an atmosphere of considerable academic liberty.
For those reasons the Democratic Labor Party is unable to support the amendment. However I think there is a lot of merit in the suggestion made by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to Senator Murphy in the course of the debate. As there appears to have been no particular formal consultation with the authorities concerned, the Minister suggested that the Bill go through and that some initiative be taken to have such opinions canvassed and disclosed. The matter could be raised at a later stage if, according to the views and advice of the experts, it was considered that Parliament should be the appropriate body rather than His Excellency the Governor-General.
– Why not delay the Bill?
– For the reason indicated by the Minister I do not think it would be wise to delay the Bill. After all, student representation is important. Because of the views expressed it may not be wise now to delay the Bill. Such delay could be open to undesirable interpretation. In all the circumstances 1 think the Bill should go through now. I oppose Senator Murphy’s amendment but I commend to him and the Senate the suggestion from the Minister about consultation and subsequent action if it is considered desirable.
– The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), speaking on behalf of the Government, has made quite clear the Government’s attitude about the proposed amendments. I would like to add one or two pieces of information. It seems to me that, as the Minister said, it is completely inconsistent for Senator Murphy to say that the Council of the Australian National University, upon forming an opinion about something, should have that opinion respected by the Senate, and for him to then introduce into this place an amendment which has never been referred to the Council. He had every opportunity to refer it to the Council because his side of the chamber is represented on that body. I would have thought that it would be fairly important for the Council to have an opportunity to consider this matter and to express an opinion about whether it wouldlike such an amendment in that form or in some other form. I am sure that this chamber would be better able to consider this matter if it had the views of the Council.
Bearing in mind that there is a Council meeting on 12th March, no doubt if Senator Murphy wishes to pursue this matter he could have it considered then. However, I imagine this is a matter requiring much consideration by the Council. Probably it would establish a sub-committee to look into it and it might be several months before the final views of the Council were made known. If this Bill was held over until the Council had had adequate opportunity to consider this amendment the advantages of its other provisions would be delayed for a considerable length of time.
Although I can accept and sympathise with Senator Murphy’s comments about the delay experienced in getting this Bill before the Senate and the time it may take to get another one before the Senate, on balance I would have thought that he would agree, if he thought about it, that, first, the matter should go to the Council and, secondly, the rest of the Bill should not be held up until such time as the Council has had adequate opportunity to consider his amendment. I leave aside entirely the other aspects already discussed about reference to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and consideration by any groups in this chamber or associated with this chamber as to the question of delegated legislation from a parliamentary point of view. I put forward only the view, as a member of the Council, that the Council should have an opportunity to consider this matter.
– I should like to depart for a moment from discussion of the motion, as other honourable senators have done, to quote from a Press release dated 25th February 1971, which I have just been handed. It states:
The Australian National University Students’ Representative Council Executive and the Part time Students’ Association Executive wishes to clarify their position on the two issues that have recently become clouded together.
We would like to make it clear that the issue of increased student participation on University Council is a completely distinct and far more important issue than the question of a less than responsible newspaper.
The question of Woroni should not be seen as reflecting on the responsibility of the Australian National University student body and we are appalled at the suggestion that the two are inter-related. We view the increased representation on University Council as being a radical and realistic step towards creating a reponsible and representative university government. Moves by the Democratic Labor Party and the government to reflect on this move through the Woroni incident should be opposed by all who wish to see responsible and creative university government eventuate.
The Press release is signed by Michael Wright, President of the Australian National University Students’ Association, and Eddie Wheeler, President of the Parttime Students’ Association.
– Why did they hand it only to you, senator?
– I received the Press release while on my way to my office opposite the Senate chamber. It may be a general release or perhaps they may regard me as being more sympathetic to their case than members of the Government are.
– Is not the publication under the control of the student body?
– I am not able to answer that question. Returning to the motion, what should not be overlooked, because of what Senator Wright said, is that the proposal is to delete from the legislation the necessity for University statutes to be approved by the Government before they become law. This is very important. I think it was Chief Justice Dixon who said that there is a difference between having to obtain the approval of someone before something is done and being able to do it and it being set aside if it is not approved. The autonomy of the University would be clearly advanced if it did not need that approval before the statutes came into operation. Senator Wright seems consistently to have been leaving this out of his consideration and referring always to the fact that delegated legislation should come under the supervision of the Parliament.
– That goes for the form of the present approval, rather than an alternative form of approval, does it not?
– It does not require approval. Positive disapproval would be required before the statute would cease to operate.
– Do you mean even in the hands of the Governor-General?
– Yes. At the moment the Government must approve of the statutes before they become law There is no getting away from that. But what Senator Wright seems to be suggesting is that, on behalf of the Opposition, I am proposing some extra burden on the university. The point is that it is being relieved of the need to have Government approval before its statutes come into effect.
I turn to the next point, and that is why the supervision of the Parliament may be important. I asked Senator Wright about one of the examples and, although he seems to be well supplied with material and advisers and everything else, he seems reluctant to deal with the question of how the statute is operating. The Opposition is interested in this from a parliamentary point of view because, I think, all honourable senators subscribe to the doctrine of the rule of law. There should be laws on subjects of public concern. One of the subjects which was intended to be dealt with by University statute is the matriculation of students. This is a very important matter. Students should be able to know the rules for obtaining admission to this great University. It used to be a practice, and it should be the practice, that students could obtain a copy of the regulations or University statutes and see just what they had to do in order to be admitted to the University, what qualifications and conditions were necessary and what courses could be taken. There should be a law governing these matters. That was the clear intention of the Parliament when it said that there should be a University statute on that subject.
I asked the Minister to produce for me the statutes governing the admission of students but he has not done so. The position is that the statutes are not working properly in all instances and my understanding is that no longer is there an effective statute on this topic. The situation is governed by rules which are not tabled in the Parliament. These rules certainly do not subscribe to the rule of law because the admission rules which apply came into operation on 1st July 1970 and, inter alia, they provide:
There shall be an Admissions Committee consisting of such persons as the Board of the School of General Studies appoints.
The Board of the School of General Studies shall, from time to time, with the advice of the Committee establish criteria for the admission of students.
Subject to the rules from time to time governing the courses of study in the School of General Studies, a person is not eligible, in any year, to commence such a course of study unless he has, in relation to that year, been admitted to the University in accordance with these Rules.
The Committee may, at such times as it thinks fit, call for applications for admission in relation to a particular year.
An application for admission shall be in such form, and contain such information, as the Committee requires.
The Committee shall consider each application for admission and may admit such applicants as it considers are suitable for admission, having regard to the criteria referred to in sub-rule 3A of these Rules.
Provision is made for giving notice of admission. This is a clear departure from the rule of law. This is a matter entirely of discretion and perhaps this is why there has been some reluctance even to let people know that this is the way in which admissions are governed.
– Is this why they break down the doors of the administrative offices?
– Senator Little may be facetious about this matter, but this is a serious departure from the rule of law. This is not the way to deal with such a matter. Statutes should be made by the University. They should come into operation from the time of their making and they should subscribe to the standard which the Parliament believes should be observed by delegated legislation in every sphere. It is reasonable that the Parliament should be able to say that on these matters there should be rules. The Parliament should say: ‘You must set out the rules. Do not leave matters to discretion in this kind of way.’ There should be rules on these subjects as Parliament intended when it said that the University statutes should provide for the matriculation of students. I would challenge anyone to dispute what I have read out. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the admission rules of the Australian National University.
I challenge anyone to say that those rules are a compliance with the rule of law and with what Parliament intended when it said that statutes should be made for the University. I think that the University should be given independence, free of Government approval, to make its statutes and that Parliament, as it would with other statutes, should ensure that the statutes conform to the ordinary standards which one would expect in other similar spheres. The rule of law should be preserved and we should not trespass on civil liberties. That is a reasonable proposition and I think that that should be done. In that way we would ensure that the legislative standards which we expect are observed in this field as well as in other fields. At the same time we would maintain the maximum degree of independence and autonomy for this University. We would do that by removing the need for the GovernorGeneral - which means the Minister - to approve every University statute.
I have taken into account what was said about this matter being studied. I think bad habits have arisen in relation to these matters perhaps because of delays. The need to have Government approval has meant a retreat into the making of by-laws which do not have the same application as the University’s statutes. This has been done because it is necessary to have the Government’s approval. I think it would be sensible now to let the University make its statutes without Government approval and for them to be subject to the scrutiny of Parliament which, one might have thought, would have been envisaged by that part of the section which requires that they be tabled. Why should university statutes be tabled unless there is to be some kind of study of them to see that they comply with the rule of law?
– How then does a document come to our notice when it is contained in rules or by-laws made pursuant to a statute which gives the Council power to make its own rules on the subject? Surely Senator Byrne would agree that that was not intended by Parliament.
The intention was that the substantive provisions should be scrutinised by the Senate. I think we would meet the requirements of the Act and the needs of the University, and we would enhance its independence, if we proceeded in the way in which I have suggested. I ask that the Committee take my comments into consideration.
My proposal was not to refer particular regulations to the Regulations and Ordi-nances Committee. My proposal was that, if honourable senators thought fit, my amendment could be referred to that Committee for its consideration. There are some serious problems here as to how the delegated legislation has been working. I do not think it has been working properly. I do not think the independence of the University is secured properly when each statute has to be approved by the Government. No matter what is said. I do not think that is the proper legal provision. J do not think that the University should be driven into the position of making substantive law in this circuitous fashion - bv by-laws or rules which are not tabled in the Parliament - when there are no standards or rules laid down. I think that is an objectionable feature of the Act. Nobody knows where he is The applicant for admission is completely and utterly at the discretion of certain persons. I remember that the Government adopted a similar attitude in relation to scholarships. It said that scholarships should be entirely at the discretion of the Minister. I do not see why, as it appears, admissions should be at the discretion of certain persons. I think that those seeking to enter the University should be entitled to know what the rules are and to see whether they conformed to those rules. If they did, they would not need to depend on what apparently is the complete discretion of the persons referred to in this legislation.
– Although I do not propose to support the amendment, I think there is a great deal of persuasive force in much of what Senator Murphy said. I refer specifically to the matters he raised which indicate that, if a person desires to ascertain the rules, by-laws or orders which have been made under the Australian National University statutes, there are problems in ascertaining precisely what a person’s rights are. Senator Murphy instanced his point by reference to the admission rules, which apparently have been made under a statute. I agree with him that those rules give absolutely no satisfaction to anybody who wants to know what he must comply with and what conditions he must satisfy in order to be admitted to the University. If these admission rules represent the qualifications necessary to enter the University, I believe that is an extraordinary state of affairs.
The Board of the School of General Studies may from time to time establish criteria for the admission of students, but there is no requirement to publish or to state what those criteria are. A person shall not be entitled to admission unless he has been admitted in accordance with those rules. It seems to me that the Board of the School of General Studies may from time to time - from day to day or from case to case - fix upon what it regarded as the appropriate qualifications. That creates an uncertainty and a lack of precision which can only be regrettable in an area in which there should be some positive standards upon which people can formulate their rights. I understand that to be the case that Senator Murphy made. I do not know, whether there are some compensating facts which could be advanced by the Minister, but if there are not I sense that the situation is one that ought to be rectified.
There I part company with Senator Murphy. I do not think that the case he made for amending this legislation is the type of remedy which should be undertaken. I should have thought that the appropriate action would be for the legal members and for the parliamentary representatives on the University Council to ensure that there is some legal committee of that Council which scrutinises the types of rules, orders and by-laws made under the statutes. I think that universities, for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, have an obligation to put their houses in order. I know that, in the light of other things which have been said today, that statement could be construed as having a limited meaning. I know that in a number of areas - and I think Senator Murphy instanced one - a lot of improvement could be made. I think that while students find it difficult to ascertain their rights and the limitations imposed by law in areas of student activity, there will be a tendency to go as far as human endeavour can take them. If the universities are not prepared to lay down appropriate rules and regulations in regard to some fundamental matters then it is only to be expected that students will take the utmost liberty which they sense they are entitled to within the broad restraints by which they regard themselves limited. I sense that in this particular area it would be appropriate for universities to give some regard to what are the rules, orders and by-laws which they are making under these statutes.
Senator Murphy stressed that there was a need for the universities to maintain their autonomy. I do not think that Senator Wright, as the Minister in charge of this measure, has in anything that he has said suggested otherwise and indeed I recall the statement he read from the Murray report which indicates the importance of the autonomy which is maintained. At the moment the only restriction - if it be a restriction - which could be said to be imposed on the university’s autonomy is that if the university wants any changes in its statutes there shall have to be an approval of the Governor-General. I imagine that in practice this is the type of provision to which every university is and has been subject. Although that is an assumption on my part it comes from a belief derived from impressions of university statutes which I have looked at. If that be the basis it seems never to have operated in such a way that the universities cannot be said to be effectively autonomous. But even if the assumptions I make there are not correct I do not think that Senator Murphy’s amendment improves the University’s autonomy because it merely subjects the University’s statute-making power to the control of the Parliament.
I sense that the universities might find the Government an easier task master than the Parliament because if the power to disallow a statute or rule or by-law resides in either House of the Parliament then - and I say this with no disrespect to this institution or to the other House - the vagaries of parliamentary expressions from time to time may cause greater problems than what the Government itself might do. Senator Murphy suggested that it could be the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of this Senate which could exercise super visory control for this House of the Parliament. I do not think the Regulations and Ordinances Committee undertakes its task lightly nor does it enable departments of the Government to get away with anything which impinges in any degree on the standards which the Committee has laid down. The imposition of those standards in the much broader field of university statutemaking power could make for greater difficulties for the universities than I think has been recognised in what has been said.
I do not think that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee would be the appropriate body to deal with such statutes and regulations. After all the area of public law, which is the field in which the Regulations and Ordinances Committee operates, is a field in which the criteria which the Committee has operated on have real and valid application. We find in the work of that Committee that it is difficult to apply those criteria with any sense of certainty that we are right in doing so to ordinances for the Australian Capital Territory, because those ordinances are made as part of the broad governing power for a territory. When we consider that university statutes and rules and by-laws made under those statutes are applied for the area of the University in which there are the peculiar traditions of the University and an area of autonomy which has long been respected, it would be difficult to appreciate what would be the area of inquiry which a committee could look into. Indeed, to take it further it would be difficult for any House of a Parliament to lay down for itself what ought to be the criteria by which it should judge the regulations or the statutes which are made in a university area.
I sense that there ought to be some investigation with a view to having some changes made in the procedures of the rule-making and by-law-making powers of the University under the statutes. I think that Senator Murphy has to my satisfaction made out a case warranting that sort of investigation but I do not think that that case having been made out this necessarily leads or ought to lead to the conclusion which he asks the Committee to adopt, namely, the adoption of this amendment. I think it would be highly inappropriate for the Parliament to assume the power to sit in judgment not only on university statutes but on any by-law, rule or order made under those statutes. I think that would bring either House of the Parliament to a stage where it was concerning itself with matters of minute detail which ought not to be the function of the Parliament.
– I have before me the Australian National University calendar for 1969 and it is freely available in print to anybody. I regret that the ANU calendar for 1970 has not been placed in my hands and I doubt whether it has been printed. The 1969 calendar sets out the statute on enrolment, courses and degrees and under it the matriculation rules which are printed on page 358 and following pages, which show in objective form the qualifications that students must have for matriculation. Having gone so far I am content. I am informed that due to delay in printing, the admission rule to which Senator Murphy has referred and which has now been incorporated in Hansard has not been printed and it is in the form that has been referred to. I listened with great respect to what Senator Greenwood said and to what Senator Murphy said about the insufficient formulation of objective criteria, according to which any possible entrant without discrimination might be judged and admitted to the University. I can assure the honourable senators that their observations will be conveyed to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) for such consideration as he thinks fit.
We did not come here to disallow that rule. We have had no notice. We may have insufficient information with regard to it. I completely adopt the course and attitude that Senator Greenwood took, that whatever criticism may be made of that rule the probable remedy lies in a better safeguarding of these principles within the University Council itself. Having said that I think everybody will be satisfied that the amendment proposed is not the appropriate resolution of the matter.
– The Minister has said that we did not come here to disallow these rules. I think that what should be known without any question is that these rules which govern the admission of students to the Australian National University do not contain any objective criteria and - this seems to be admitted on all hands - are not the kind of rules which one would expect to be applicable in such circumstances. They would not meet the standards which any honourable senator would expect of rules on such a subject in that we would expect some objective criteria to be set out in the rules. The important thing is that such rules under the system which is operating are not only not disallowable but they never come here. The problem is that they just do not come here.
Once there was a statute under which the rule making power was given to the Council; the procedures applicable to university statutes were avoided. I think this is probably because the Council found this method of obtaining the approval of the Government inappropriate. There has been a retreat into an area where objective standards are not set out. There is a departure from the rule of law. If there is anything that a body such as the Parliament can usefully do it is not to interfere with the minute details of delegated legislation concerning a university or any other body. The thing which Parliament can do - it has been done in this chamber through the Regulations and Ordinances Committee - is see that proper standards are observed; that the rule of law is observed. It is the great function of the Senate - in fact, it is the great function of the Parliament - to ensure that operations in every sphere are conducted in accordance with the rule of law. We may not always succeed, but that is our aim.
– Does the Council of the University not have some obligation to supervise the rules and authorities made in its name?
– Honourable senators have seen the result of this process in operation. If this is the result of the process something has gone wrong. I may be wrong, but I think that it was probably because there was insufficient autonomy and insufficient independence. I would prefer some indication to be given that the
University has the authority to make statutes without anyone’s approval. They would then come under the general superintendence of the Parliament in the same way as other delegated legislation. A positive and deliberate move to disallow them would then be required before they would be interfered with. If they were to come here for examination it is probable that the bad habits that have crept in would be abandoned and objective criteria would be set out in various respects.
I ask the Senate to adopt the amendment. In doing so I have taken into account what the Minister has said about considering this matter if the amendment is not adopted. I would request the Minister to take up the matters which have been referred to, particularly the operation of these statutes and rules, to see whether, even if the Bill is passed, some consideration could be given to a better method of endeavouring to achieve what I think everyone has accepted should be achieved, that is, the preservation of independence. But there should be a body to see that the standards which we accept are observed. I am talking about the legislative standards, the objective criteria and the setting out of the rules so that all can see what are their rights and obligations. It is a very serious matter that a large number of persons could be affected by a law and not one person knows what his rights and obligations are. This is the unhappy situation which we have reached. I put it to the Senate that the amendment is the way to correct it. If the Senate is not prepared to adopt my proposal at this stage, I hope that what the Minister has indicated will be carried out and that these matters will be investigated. Perhaps the Government will see fit to make some report upon the matter to the Senate.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 2
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
– I desire to inform honourable senators that during the past recess a person who had been on the staff of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms for many years, Mrs Lorna Gold, unexpectedly collapsed and died. Mrs Lorna Gold was the supervisor in charge of all female staff in the dining rooms of the Refreshment Rooms, and in this capacity’ she was a familiar figure to all senators and members, as well as to the staff of the House.
She first commenced employment in the Refreshment Rooms some 30 years ago, initially as a waitress, but later she was placed in charge of the guest room, and finally, on the retirement of Mrs Keatch, she was promoted to the important post of dining room supervisor. Lorna Gold was a very capable person with a quiet and friendly nature that made her a pleasure to be associated with. Many honourable senators will no doubt remember her for the courteous and efficient manner with which she attended to the requests made of her, as well as for the excellence of the arrangements made for the very many special functions, both large and small, in which she played a large part. She will, I know, be sadly missed by the staff of the Refreshment Rooms, and I am sure that honourable senators would want me to extend to her family sympathy in their bereavement, and appreciation of the fine service that she gave to the Parliament.
On and from tomorrow, Friday 26th February 1971, the Parliament will lose by retirement the services of the man who for the past 12 years has held the very important position of foreman gardener on the staff of the Joint House Department. Any honourable senator who has spoken with the foreman gardener, Mr Arthur Smith, will know that he is an Englishman, and those familiar with the dialects of that country will rightly place him as a westcountryman. He was, in fact, born in Gloucestershire and spent most of his early years in that and nearby counties working in a number of parks and large estates. He received his technical training in horticulture at the York Technical College, his diploma later securing his admission to the Royal Horticultural Society of England.
In 1953 Mr Smith and his family emigrated to Australia where he immediately took up an appointment as assistant gardener-in-charge at Government House in Canberra. Upon the retirement in 1958 of the previous occupant, Mr Smith was selected for the position of foreman gardener and had held this position continuously to this day. Honourable senators will know that I have always taken a very close interest in the parliamentary gardens, and therefore from my own observations I can speak with considerable pleasure of the high quality of the work that Arthur Smith and his team have performed over the years. Mr Smith himself is a quietly spoken man of excellent personal qualities, who has brought to his work a devotion that will make his retirement a real loss to the Parliament. I am sure the Senate would want me to wish Arthur Smith many years in which to spend the retirementwhich his excellent service to the Parliament has undoubtedly earned him.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– I present the 35th report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, which reads as follows:
The Dairying Industry Equilisation Legislation Referendum Act of 1970 provided for a referendum to be held of the persons who supply milk for butter and cheese factories to determine whether the producers favour the Dairying Industry Equalisation Act 1970, the Dairying Industry Levy Act 1970 and the Dairying Industry Levy Collection Act 1970 being brought into operation. The Act contained a provision enabling the Governor-General to make regulations, inter alia, in relation to the manner of voting at the referendum. The reguations include the following provision in relation to informal votes: 11. (3.) A ballot-paper is informal -
it has no vote marked on it;
The above provision contrasts with provisions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act and other Commonwealth legislation regulations whereby the conditions rendering ballot papers informal are, in the main, stated objectively and not made to depend upon the opinion of a returning officer. Section 21 of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1965, for example, provides that:
– (1.) A ballot-paper, other than an absent voter’s ballot-paper or a postal ballot-paper or a ballot-paper used for voting in pursuance of section one hundred and twenty-one or section one hundred and twenty-one A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1934 shall be informal if -
The Committee considers that the provisions in the Referendum Regulations made the rights of citizens unduly dependent upon administrative rather than judicial decisions, in that the decision of the returning officer as to whether a vote is informal is final. There is, in the Committee’s view, no scope for an objective judicial review of fact which, by the regulations, are committed to the opinion of the Deputy Returning Officer. The regulations were gazetted on 19th November 1970 but were not tabled, and therefore not formally referred to the Committee until the Parliament resumed on 16th February 197 1 . The referendum conducted under the regulations began on 22nd January 1971. and the ballot closed at mid-day on 24th February 1971. The Committee has been informed that the voting has been completed and the counting of votes has now commenced. The regulations, on their face, apply only to the 1971 referendum.
The Committee wishes to record its opinion that the criteria for determining informality of votes in an election or referendum held under a Commonwealth Act ought to be stated objectively. Questions of whether or not a ballot paper has a vote marked on it ought not to depend, finally, upon the opinion of a returning officer or other administrative official. The Committee considers, however, that, in all the circumstances, it ought not to recommend to the Senate that the regulation should be disallowed. The Committee’s opinion is strongly influenced by the belief that it is unlikely thatthe operation of regulation 1 1 will have any bearing on the outcome of the referendum.
(8.6) - On 16th February the President tabled a report as he was obliged to do pursuant to a motion which was carried during the previous session. That report will be under discussion tonight. I will be moving a motion consequent upon the tabling of the report, but before stating the motion and speaking to it there arc a number of points I would like to make.
First of all, I want the Senate to regard me as the vehicle for a debate. It is almost impossible to conduct an orderly debate unless there is some motion as a starting point. Therefore, 1 have accepted the responsibility, not in the sense of Leader of the Government but in the sense of Leader of the Senate to move a motion containing a series of propositions. I want honourable senators on both sides of the chamber to accept that in doing so I do not regard myself as doing anything in the name of the Government, becauseI am not. I expect and hope that we will have a debate in which all honourable senators will speak on the subject as they see it and, if a vote is taken will vote as they see fit. It may well be that the debate will not be concluded tonight because the motion for the adjournment is to be put at 10.30 p.m. That will be a decision for the Senate. I do not want to create a position in which the Senate is forced to take a vote before it is ready. I have circulated the motionI propose to move.
– Will this be brought on for early debate when the Senate resumes?
– Do not get ahead of me. please. I am trying to state the position in an orderly fashion, as I see it. What I am saying is that if by . 10.30 p.m. we have not resolved the question it will go on the notice paper and I will see to it that the debate will be resumed at the first available opportunity. The motion that I propose to move postulates that we will do something almost immediately. After I have moved the motion I will speak to it. I hope that it is understood that the ensuing debate should not be along party lines but will be on a basis which is in the best interests of the work of the Senate and in the best interests of the nation. I move:
I remind the Senate that, on 11th June 1970, the Senate agreed to the appointment of 7 standing committees. So, we have in fact appointed 7 standing committees. These 7 standing committees are:
Honourable senators should understand that the Senate has agreed to the resolution appointing those 7 standing committees. This was done on 1 1th June 1970.
On 19th August 1970, after a period of hiatus on which I do not need to dwell because of its history anyway, the Senate proceeded to a further resolution containing 12 points. I do not propose to reiterate all 12 points because, apart from the first one, I think that the procedures aire almost mechanical. The first point in the resolution was:
A number of people have looked at this provision and drawn the conclusion - my guess is that they would be excused for doing so - that all of the committees had to be appointed within 12 months. In fact, it does not mean that, I am assured by the lawyers. What that provision means is that we have a commitment to appoint all of the committees but we cannot appoint all of them within the 12 months period. So the dateline, as I see it, would bc 1 9th August 1971 which means that of the 5 committees remaining to be appointed we could appoint 4 and would have to leave one swinging. I hope that I have explained that point.
When 1 moved this motion which subsequently was carried, I made the observation that 1 thought there was a presumption that following the presentation of the report of the President - it was arbitrary upon him to bring down that report - it might well be that at that time we would appoint the other committees. But, in truth, the President’s report is not expressed in categorical language. It is a good report and I think it covers the situation factually. Under the heading ‘Conclusion’ the President states in paragraph 82:
Like other legislatures, the Senate will not find that definite solutions come quickly. The best Committee system is the one which comes from experiment, from trial and error. Knowing this, the Senate should go forward resolutely, experimenting in 1971 with not more than 2 Estimates Committees sitting simultaneously1–
This is given expression in the motion that I have moved:
Ifthat bethe will ofthe Senate; possibly using the Chamber and a PartyRoom for Estimates Committee meetings; and, as the Senate may decide-
This is the point I want to emphasise:
I have made the point that we have agreed already upon the appointment of those committees. The only point at issue is whether and how they come into actual application. They will come into actuality by the appointment of senators to those committees. With that background, I now propose to go back to my motion and to take it seriatim.
The first that I recommend and move is that the Senate adopts the recommendation - I think that is a fair word to use, although the President conches his remarks in gentle terms - that not more than 2 committees should sit simultaneously.
– I think actually the recommendation is not that.It is that not more than 2 committees shall sit simultaneously in1971 That would be a different thing.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am talkingto my motion now.
– But the Minister purports to quote the recommendation, and that is not the recommendation.
– If we are to be precise,I will take-
– It is very different in fact, is it not?
– 1 point out thatI am recommending in my motion-
– As a non-going proposition?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONMy motion is that not more than 2 Estimates Committees should be in session simultaneously.
– Not only in 1971, but at any time.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes, that is right. Complaints were made by some honourable senators who said: We are not members of any of the Estimates Committees appointed, but we do reserve our right to move from committee to committee. We may be interested in certain aspects of a matter being considered by a committee and we want to be able to move from Estimates Committee. A to Estimates Committees, perhaps, would be a mittee D, as the case may be.’ They said further: ‘If three or four Estimates Committees are running simultaneously, this would negate our rights as senators to participate in the proceedings of those committees’.
A number of views have been presented on this point. Government members have expressed views on whether this is a good thing. That brings me to this point: Do not think that, as far as Government members are concerned, the motion that I have moved is holy writ because we have some Government members who think that 3 Estimates Committees, perhaps, would be a better number than 2 Estimates Committees to have sitting simultaneously. These views will emerge during the course of the debate. My motion is the vehicle by which the debate will be initiated.
I turn to the second point in my motion. This reads:
Meetings of the Committees should be held when possible, in the Senate Chamber and Senate Committee Room L.17.
Consideration was given to whether, in addition to the Senate chamber, one of the party rooms which are bigger than L.17 might not have been used in preference to L.17. But the view has been expressed - and I think that it is fundamental - that Party rooms are sacred to senators and should not be encroached upon for the purpose of Government business. If this proposal were adopted, the rights of senators who were not involved in the particular committee which sat in a Party room would be negated so we have decided on L.17.
The next point in my motion deals with the Appropriation Bills Nos (3) and (4) of 1970-71. These provide appropriations to cover additional expenditure made necessary by changed circumstance since Appropriation Bills Nos (1) and (2) were passed by the Parliament. The same procedures will apply to the consideration of these Bills as applied to the consideration of the Estimates last year. A message will come from the other place. The Bills will be presented. A concurrent debate will take place. The Bills will pass the secondreading stage and will go to the Estimates Committees. Those Committees will report to the Senate. My motion on this point recommends that we should follow in miniature because of the time factor involved the same procedures as were followed last year with the Estimates Committees. That concludes my remarks concerning the Estimates Committees which are a fairly basic matter. 1 come next to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees. In my motion, I state:
The Senate, believing that there should be a clear recognition of the different roles to be performed by Standing Committees and Select Committees, and affirming the need for the continuing role of each, resolves-
That the Standing Committee system be varied, in the manner set out in the following paragraphs;
That each Standing Committee consist of six Senators, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and one by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party or by any minority group or groups or Independent or Independents -
Let me dwell on that part of my motion for a moment. The Senate has a membership of 60. The Government must find traditionally from its numbers 5 Ministers who will be responsible for their own portfolios and who will represent the Ministers in the other place. The Government provides also the Presiding Officer - that is. the President - and the Chairman of Committees. It is a fact of life that in the new Parliamentwhich will operate from July when the new Senators take their seats, the Government will have 26 senators, the Opposition will have 26 senators, the Democratic Labor Party will have 5 senators and, as the position stands at the moment there will be 3 independent senators. I invite the Senate to consider this matter from the Government’s point of view. If we have 26 senators and we leave out the 5 Ministers, who cannot be members of a committee, and leave out also the presiding officer and the Chairman of Committees, we are left with 19 senators who could sit on committees. Allowing for sickness and for leave of absence the number could be even less, so we are faced with a problem.
– There are the statutory committees also.
– Yes. The official Opposition has almost the same problem, although arithmetically it is not quite so difficult. It must be remembered also that in addition to the committees I have mentioned there are the statutory committees such as the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee which are joint committees and it is necessary to find personnel for them. With the proposal that we shall have 8 members on our 2 standing committees we have reached the point where it is very difficult adequately to man them because of senators’ commitments with other committees. I have had some figures taken out in respect of senators in the Government parties serving on committees and I find that one honourable senator is serving on 7 committees. This work is almost extra curricula to his function in the Senate in Plenary session. Among the other senators, some are serving on 5 committees, some on 4 and some on 3. No doubt the figures for Opposition senators would be comparable.
So what we are saying is that instead of having 8 senators, which has proved to be difficult for us all, without prejudice to the work of the committees we could reduce the number of members of each to 6 senators. With the committees composed of 8 senators, the Government has had a membership of 4 senators, the Opposition 3 senators and there has been an independent member, but the casting vote has been with the Government which has provided the Chairman. I have tried to capture the same principle by saying that in reducing the number to 6 there should be 3 Government members, 2 members from the official Opposition and one from the Democratic Labor Party or an independent, and that a Government member shall be the chairman and shall have a casting vote, I have suggested also that the quorum of a standing committee should be 4 senators. The question whether the quorum should be 4 or 3 is no doubt something that could be debated. That is a matter to which we can give further consideration.
– Has consideration been given to providing a replacement for someone who is not available to sit on a committee?
– Provision was not made for that originally, but if a person retired from a committee he would have to be replaced. That is a point that I should like to bring out. At present I am trying to give the broad picture. I recognise that adjustments have to be made to the detail and that what I have proposed is not a complete formula. However. 1 have suggested a pattern which I hope the Senate will adopt.
I have referred already to the quorum. As I said earlier, we began our system of legislative and general purpose standing committees by appointing 2 committees, one in relation io health and welfare and the other in respect of primary and secondary industry and trade. We had quite an argument in this place about the committee system proceeding to actuality and about whether wc should be cautious and introduce the system gradually. In the event we settled for the establishment of 2 committees and those 2 are working vigorously at present. The President said in his report: . . and as the Senate may decide, progressively bringing into operation seven General Purpose Standing Committees already agreed upon.
In the spirit of what the President said, 1 have suggested that at this stage we should establish 2 more committees, which will bring us to 4 of the 7 which we are committed by resolution to create. In suggesting this I have chosen the Standing Committee on Education Science and the Arts and the Standing Committee on Social Environment. We could debate whether we should establish those 2 committees or some other 2 committees, or perhaps 3 others, but my suggestion of the 2 committees that 1 have mentioned provides a starting point for the debate. They are the 2 that I think could come into operation almost immediately.
Paragraph (e) of my motion does nol emanate so much from the Presidents report as from my thinking and discussion on the matter. We have always had some argument - albeit proper argument - as to the nice distinction that one needs to draw between a select committee and a standing committee. Anyone who went back through the debates that we have had on the committee system would be entitled to come lo the conclusion that in concept we have always regarded these new standing committees as something which could stem from a debate, from some piece of legislation that has been considered by the Senate, some regulation which has been discussed or even a petition which has been presented, where, because of the volume of work that we have to handle as it comes from the other place, it is not convenient or expedient to have a long debate by the whole Senate. In those circumstances it might be thought that we should be able to send the subject matter to one of the new standing committees with a request that it investigate the matter and report to the Senate on what it thinks about it.
I believe that that was the original concept of the standing committees, lt was not intended that they should usurp the function of the select committees which are far more long standing and which take much more time in their considerations. In the event it has not worked out that way. Already we have had some references to the standing committees. I understand that the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare at present has a reference which it was given almost as soon as it was created and I have been informed by the Chairman of that Committee that it may well be that the reference will not be resolved before the end of this financial year. In addition that Committee has other references yet- to be considered. We have seen motions on the business paper for the reference of matters to that Standing Committee, but to be able to do an effective job the Committee could be involved in work for a year or more taking evidence in various places and making judgments on its findings. For this reason I have introduced what could almost be described as ‘a little homily’ by suggesting that we should get our lines of thinking right and appreciate the function of the standing committees which we are about to create. We should understand also the function of select committees, which have a far more permanent role and take a longer time to deal with references. I leave that thought with honourable senators for what it is worth, so that they may consider it and refer to it in the debate if they choose.
The President’s report contains a reference to an authorisation to televise committee proceedings. As I understand the situation there is already the authority for the Press to be present at proceedings of a committee when the meeting is open to the public. Whilst one or two of us may have grave doubts about the efficacy of television and the effect it might have on personalities or the manner in which proceedings are held - some people react better to cameras than others - 1 do not think we should allow our personal views to impinge upon the logic which says that if the will of the committee is to open its proceedings to the Press, why single out the Press to the exclusion of television? It does not necessarily follow that a television station would give a full-scale coverage of the proceedings. It may well be that the television company wants to come in and take a snippet of a committee in session without recording voices. There is a whole series of variations that could be involved in televising the proceedings. In making this suggestion to authorise the televising of public hearings I was adopting the spirit of Mr President’s recommendation with the idea of letting the matter come before the committee so that it could make a judgment on the matter. I feel that I have spoken long enough to lay a basis for a reasonable debate. I recapitulate by saying that what I have moved is not arbitrary. Honourable senators on either side of the chamber should not feel inhibited in expressing their views on the matter.
Finally we collectively thank you, Mr President, for tabling your report. I think this document will take its place in the history of the procedures of this chamber of the National Parliament, and it may well be that stemming from the report and subsequent motions to which we might agree we will be able - I am sure we will - to produce in the Senate a system of management which will be in the best interests of the welfare of the people of Australia.
– Mr Deputy President, I received a copy of the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has proposed only a few minutes before I entered the chamber. I do not criticise him for that because it often happens with me. Sometimes there are last minute changes, discussions and so on. But
I have not had an opporutnity to put into writing any modifications to the motion, which I might suggest and it may be that at a later stage we will need to ask leave in order to do that.
– You have a sterner corporate discipline than Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson.
– I think that theory was rather fractured on the night when we had a free vote. I was the only one from this side to go over and join your side until finally Senator Wriedt, out of compassion, came across to join me. You said all I had to do was to flick my fingers and they would come across with mc. 1 think you started to see that night that the truth was quite different.
I think that the report by the President of the Senate is an excellent report, lt is most comprehensive, lt shows that this committee system, after a thorough investigation by the President, is one which was well undertaken by the Senate. 1 think it will mean that the Senate will become a much more efficient legislative chamber. The Senate is here to function effectively on behalf of the Australian people, and the committee system will enable it to do so. Notwithstanding the difficulties which attended the birth of the committee system and notwithstanding the narrowness of the voting on which the system came into being, it has proved to be a success. The estimates committee system, which was proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, has worked well. It had some problems and some honourable senators, especially in my Party, were very unhappy about the administrative arrangements surrounding it and the fact that because the committees were meeting simultaneously these honourable senators were not able to attend and participate in the committee meetings as they would have liked. Those administrative arrangements have been improved, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate has made an attempt to overcome the problem created by simultaneous sittings of the estimates committees. We welcome that move.
There are other proposals in the motion which I think are sensible. I think that we in the Senate should take the first step, which is the appropriate step, in relation to (he report of the President, that is, to adopt it. i do not think that the Leader of the Government in the Senate expressed any criticism of the report, and 1 have not found any grounds on which to criticise it. 1 think that the report ought to be adopted, and 1 would suggest that course as a modification of the motion which has been proposed.
– lt could be put in at the beginning of the motion.
– Yes. The Leader of the Government in the Senate might well accept the modification so that instead of the motion reading ‘that with reference to the Report by the President upon Committees of the Australian Senate’, it would read that the Report by the President upon Committees of the Australian Senate be adopted. . .’
– I would accept that.
– Senator Murphy, before you reach the penultimate point–
– I am not near the penultimate point.
– Would you enlarge my mind on the recommendation regarding television cameras?
– Yes, I would be happy to do that although it will take my remarks a little out of sequence. Paragraph 8 of the resolution which I moved on 1 1th June 1970 stated:
Members of the public and representatives of the news media may attend, record and report any public session of a Standing Committee, unless the Committee otherwise orders.
It was my intention - it was in the original draft - that ‘news media’ would include the Press, radio and television. I would suggest, with respect, to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that rather than use the words which he used in paragraph (2) (f) of his motion, namely That the Senate authorises the televising of public hearings of standing and select committees, at the discretion of each such Committee’, it might be better perhaps to relate back to the previous resolution- and say something like this: ‘The reference in paragraph 8 of the resolution of 11th June 1970 to news media is deemed to include the Press, radio and television’. The reason for that is that it may not be enough simply to say that the Senate authorises the televising of public hearings; rather, we might have to go further and say that the media, including television., may attend, record and report any public session. This would provide for more than simply televising the proceedings, because we are concerned with the publication of the hearings rather than merely the act of being at the committee meeting.
– Thai is not clear in the report.
– I rather think that what the Preside.nl intended was that the committee would be able to authorise the radio people to come in and immediately broadcast what was taking place and, similarly, that the television people might be able to make instant telecasts, which would mean publicising the proceedings.
– At the discretion of the committee.
– Yes. This is a minor matter, because the intention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate was clearly to that effect.
– Have you any views on the practice that has been suggested as a possibility - that the television people could come in and not record any sound but merely take a picture of the committee sitting?
– 1 think that would be covered by my suggestion, lt would he a matter for the committee to decide whether it wanted to do this, and certainly it would be a matter for the news media to decide whether it wanted to adopt that practice if it was the wish of the committee. I would not care to say what is the best way to handle such a difficult situation. It might well be that the television people might want lo take a record of the proceedings, cut it and release it later, or they might want to have instant telecasts. People might like to walch the proceedings live - warts and all - rather than watch something which had been edited. I think it would be sufficient if we authorised the committees in terms which would sufficiently protect the committees, the broadcasting people and so on. I should have thought that would be a matter which could easily be cleared up.
– Do you think that the committee should be able to get a sponsor to arrange for a commercial television station to televise the proceedings of the committee?
– I do not think that Senator Greenwood would have any difficulty in getting a sponsor. To continue with the proposals, the Leader of the Government proposes that the Senate should adopt the recommendation that not more than two committees should sit simultaneously. I think that is sensible. Perhaps in deference to the President we ought to insert the words ‘in 1971’ if that is what he intended. He may have intended this as an experimental period. He, having investigated a system, perhaps intended that qualification, which is a reasonable one. No doubt if the system worked out well we would continue with it. As to where meetings of the committees should be held, I think it is sensible that, where possible, they be held in the Senate chamber. 1 agree with what has been said about the Party rooms. I have nothing to say about whether it is necessary to specify a particular room. 1 think it is sensible that supplementary Appropriation Bills be referred to the committees. Let me come now to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees, as they have been described in unnecessarily long terms. I think it would probably be simpler to describe them as the standing committees. I suppose it is intended to distinguish them from what we call the domestic committees. The Leader of the Government suggests that the standing committee system be varied, after referring to the distinction between the select committees and the standing committees. 1 do not know whether it is appropriate that the system should be varied without some rescission but I do not think that the Opposition will worry too much about technicalities. As to whether the standing committees should consist of 6 senators or not, T think that this was originally one of the proposals made by the Opposition, that there should be a basis of 6 with the ability to add another 2 or 4 - one or two from each side - with the concurrence of the Government and the Opposition, in relation to any particular committees where it was thought that there ought to be more members. This would not upset the balance because the minority groups - the Democratic Labor Party and the Independents - would still have representation. If there were 8 or 10 members there would be no objection to having one from those groups. This would still retain a kind of balance, by reducing the number to 6 to meet the particular circumstances. 1 think it is a reasonable proposition that we do this on the basis that it is simple enough to add another couple of members. I do not think we need to put the machinery into this resolution. We can do it at any time we want by a simple motion to that effect. So that seems to be a sensible enough proposal. I do not know what its effect would be on the committees that we have. I would not like to think that this would mean that some members would have to step off those committees.
– I deliberately left that gloriously vague because I had in my mind that on 30th June we arc going to get 13 new senators and some of the people on those committees are going to go off them anyway. So we need to have some sort of mechanical resolution to solve that problem.
– Can we take it that we would fix up the machinery? Unless there is some special provision made this would not apply to the 2 committees that we have set. up. We can deal with that after June, but let us not have the problem of displacing people from committees.
– We have got to reappoint them by statute after 30th June.
– Yes. The next proposal refers to the quorum of a standing committee being 4. Frankly, I think this will just run us into problems. We ought to be able to start off with a quorum of 3. I suggest it would help to make matters run more smoothly. The Senate will remember that previously the quorum was 3. If the Senate thought fit to establish a quorum of 3 for a standing committee of 8 it seems to be a radical change, when we are dropping the membership of the committee to 6, to put up the quorum to 4.
– I was trying to find where the provision for the quorum was made in the previous resolution.
– I think the honourable senator will find it in the resolution of 11th June 1970, in clause 4 on page 19 where it says that the quorum of a committee shall be 3. Unless there is some very strong reason why that should be changed, it seems to be wrong to drop the committee membership to 6 and at the same time to put the quorum up to 4. This will only run us into a let of unnecessary trouble waiting for the fourth member to turn up. I suggest, with respect, that if the Leader of the Government considers this he might find it wiser to leave the number at 3.
– By way of interjection may I say that the whole concept is that the Government should have control of it, and with a quorum of 3 out of 6 members there could be circumstances where it did not.
– The Leader of the Government is suggesting that the motion for having a quorum of 4 out of a committee of 6 is that it would carry through the idea that the Government should have control of the committees.
– It also works in reverse.
– As Senator Poyser is interjecting, it means that the Government does not have control of the committee, because if the non-Government members stay away the committee cannot operate. That has to be thought of as well. There has never been any problem before, as I understand it. Why not leave it as it is? The committee can work fairly mechanically. I have never heard of any problem arising.
For the smooth operation of the committee I. suggest that the Leader of the Government reconsider that matter. Let me turn now to proposal 2 (d) which is a most important one. This is where the Opposition feels strongly on the matter. The proposal for 7 standing committees was carried. After a vigorous debate in this chamber the 7 committees were nominated. The 7 committees were appointed. Then after one of those who supported the establishment of the committees was absent on a later occasion in the following sittings, the opportunity was taken in an unprecedented way to say that the 7 committees that were appointed would not be established. The Opposition regards this as being a pretty swift sort of dealing with a motion which had been carried and which we thought ought to have been carried out. The Opposition has co-operated fully with the Government in the Estimates Committees proposals. We expected that when the Senate had passed this proposition there would not be any attempt to undermine it. We are not very happy about the attempts that have been made. We would like the committees to be established. We think the rest of the 5 committees should be established as soon as possible.
If we concede what the Leader of the Government has said, that unless we vary the other resolution only 4 committees can be appointed up to 1 9th August, we say: Let us appoint the four. I do not think that the Opposition has any great quarrel about the 2 committees that have been selected, because for us it is nol a matter of priority; we want the lot appointed, and as soon as possible. They are all important committees. We think that the four should be appointed. There is some sense in this, because even if a great deal of work is not done by the members themselves, preparations can be set in train for the next period. These committees always go through an induction period when it has to be decided what kind of things have to be done and get the staff required. That has been the experience. Would it not be wise to set up the committees and let the induction period take place? It is the Opposition’s view that at least the 4 committees should be appointed. There would bc no problems, since we are varying the other resolution to establish the 5. There is no technical problem. If we are going to vary the resolution we can vary it in that respect also. We suggest that that bc done.
I can see strong reasons why - apart from the two that have been suggested, which are important, and I do not detract in any way from their importance - we could do with a committee on constitutional and legal affairs. What would be wrong with a committee of this Senate setting in train an inquiry, say. on the establishment of family courts, doing something about the out of date laws in the Australian Capital Territory, or trying to have something done about the system of legal aid?
– Are they not substantive matters which must take a long time?
– Of course.
– And which are inappropriate for a standing committee?
– All these things take a long time, and one has to start doing them at some time.
– Why not through a select committee?
– Every time one suggests the appointment of a select committee the argument is put up that there arc not enough people to conduct the inquiry, that there are other matters to be inquired into and so on. We on this side of the chamber are becoming a little tired of this ringing the changes between select committees and standing committees. For the most pari.’ our attitude is that when we have these standing committees we will want to refer most matters to them because they will be where the expertise in the subject concerned will be. If it is a legal matter, let us send h to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. We will have experts there. We will have staff there. We will be able to deal more efficiently with matters, whether they are long or short, in such a committee.
– There is a limit to what can be imposed on senators.
– But the Standing Committee will have staff available to it. Whatever those limits may be, there is no doubt that there are most important subjects that ought to be dealt with. We have had promises for a long time. There was to be a system of legal aid. There was to be a superior court. The law of the Australian Capital Territory was to be cleaned up. All sorts of other things were to be done. They have not been done and there is not much sign of (heir being done. Unless a committee such as that Standing Committee starts to do something about those matters, to stir up those fields and to investigate and report, nothing will be done.
– Would that mean that honourable senators would be relieved of the tedium of watching legal gardening in this chamber. at the Committee stage of legislation?
– The honourable senator might be relieved of various tasks. As I understand the position, the deliberations of the committee over which he is presiding most excellently have been assisted in no small degree by the members of the legal fraternity. He ought to be the last to complain of having the advantage of their expertise. I turn now to the other committees. One of them is referred to in this way:
The. Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations (this shall include finance for States, statutory authorities and Local Government).
Surely as the Senate is a States House a committee of the Senate ought to be operating and concerning itself with those subjects. The sooner it is set up and the sooner this problem of making reasonable arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States for finance for the States, statutory authorities and local government is referred to it, the better.
Who would suggest that there ought not to be an inquiry by the Senate into that very subject? If ever there was a subject into which the Senate ought to be inquiring, it is that. I suggest that it is a great falling down by the Senate in the performance of its plain duties and in the carrying out of its constitutional role if, at this time when all the States are clamouring that they are suffering injustice, there is no action by the Senate to inquire into that subject matter. So. there are 2 subjects for honourable senators opposite. How can they resist the proposition that the Senate ought at least to be going through the induction period in order to have full inquiries into those matters? I therefore suggest that at least those 2 subjects be proceeded with.
There is also the matter of foreign affairs and defence. One of the Democratic Labor Party senators has on the notice paper a proposal that a select committee on defence be appointed. Here is a topic that requires inquiry. Surely an inquiry into the whole topic of defence ought to be one to be undertaken by a standing committee with the expert staff, the facilities and senators on both sides of the chamber, including the Democratic Labor Parly senators, anxious to inquire into the topic. Apparently the proponents of the motion are not too anxious to proceed with such an inquiry.
Therefore, I suggest to the Leader of the Government that we ought to vary the propositions in the motion in regard to the standing committees by providing for the establishment of the other 5 committees. It is not necessary for us to be worried about what the other resolution was, because we can vary it. I would be inclined to accept the construction placed on it by the Leader of the Government, namely, that we could establish 4 but not all 5 while that resolution stands. But we are in the process of dealing with a motion to vary that resolution in other respects; so we can vary it in this respect. We ought to set up the 5 committees. I suggest that that be done. Paragraph (e) reads:
That, unless otherwise ordered, matters referred to Standing Committees should relate to subjects which can be dealt with expeditiously.
I again suggest with respect that that is not very helpful. Surely the Senate, when it comes to a particular subject, will decide whether that subject should be referred or not. The Senate has already referred subjects which have been extensive. In paragraph 51 of his report the President said:
It is logical that Standing Committees should have concurrent references and it need not be a matter of concern that references might be extensive.
– How extensive?
– As extensive as the Senate, on the occasion concerned, chooses to make them. I suggest to the Leader of the Government with respect that we do not achieve much by including that paragraph in the motion. I do not think it is in accordance with what we have done. I am sure that it will not be in accordance with what we will do. When important subjects arise, whether they are extensive or narrow, if we believe that they are fit to be referred we will refer them and it will not matter very much what we pass in this regard. I suggest with respect that that paragraph ought not to be included in the motion. I have dealt with paragraph (f). I have indicated the areas in which we agree with the Leader of the Government and some parts of the motion to which I believe we should not agree and which he might be prepared to vary. Paragraph (d) would be the one on which I think there would be some difference of opinion. As I have had no chance to frame an amendment while I have been on my feet, I suggest that at some convenient time 1 should ask for leave to put forward formally and without any further argument an amendment to carry out what I have indicated.
– This is in a sense an historic night in the Senate as we move more firmly into the establishment of what we hope will be an ongoing and inbuilt part of the operation of the Senate and of the parliamentary system in Australia. The debate tonight, revolving as it does around the report presented by the President in accordance with the terms of a resolution of the Senate, is gratifying to the Australian Democratic Labor Party because it is in conformity with the suggestion that we originally made to the Senate. When the proposition was put forward not merely for the appointment but for the immediate viability of 7 standing committees, we suggested that as it was an experimental operation we should not do that but that a policy of gradualism should be embarked upon.
We moved that 2 committees should immediately come alive and that after an operating period there should be a report from the President to the Senate on their mode of operation and any problems associated with embarking upon them. The President’s report is in terms of that suggestion. At the time our proposition was defeated in (he Senate, but subsequently it was re-presented in substantially the same terms, and that is why the report we are discussing is now before the Senate. The report falls into two parts. It deals, first of all, with the estimates committees and then with what we commonly call the standing committees.
The estimates committees are for Australia a pioneering effort. In discussing this matter with the Clerk of Committees in the House of Commons the other day, I was interested to learn that, whilst the House of Commons has had committees by the name of estimates committees, that name has now been changed to expenditure committees. They have never operated in the sense in which our estimates committees have already operated. As far as I could gather, they did not deal with the Appropriation Bill as it was proceeding through the legisative chamber. They seemed lo make a retrospective examination of the previous estimates, and that perhaps is why they have now more appropriately been called expenditure committees. To thai extent, the expendiure committees ofthe House of Commons appear to be rather an extension or an arm of what we call the Public Accounts Committee. If I have assessed the situation in the House of Commons correctly, our system here is probably very much more worthwhile and is very much in advance of that system because we deal concurrently, in the intimacy of committees meeting on a departmental basis, with the actual estimates each year before they have their final passage through the legislative chamber.
– Are you aware of the proposal which was recently mentioned concerning examination by the House of Commons of proposals for expenditure before they were actually committed to the estimates?
– No. We had a very short interview. That was not discussed in the course of our deliberations but I was informed that the House of Commons was changing the form of its present estimates committees. Candidly, I was a little surprised to find that these committees make a retrosypective examination rather than a concurent examination. That is my understanding of the situation from the short discussions that we had. However, our estimates committees have operated on the occasion of the annual Appropriation Bill. The wisdom of the way in which we embarked upon this whole exercise was then established because problems did arise - problems of accommodation, of the availability of senators, of work loads, of administrative infrastructure and things- of that character, lt is only by virtue of the difficulties we experienced and the manner in which we moved to overcome them that now we can go forward with some optimism and sense of sureness of purpose as to how these committees will operate in the future. I am gratified to see that they will again operate in relation to the incoming Appropriation Bills.
The staff members associated with the committees are to be congratulated on the speed with which they moved into the operation of these committees. After all, it was a completely new field and a completely new era. Staff had to be obtained and trained; techniques had to be devised: and assistance had to be given to senators, who were, of course, completely unfamiliar with procedures of this kind. Everything went very well. Hansard reports of the evidence taken were available the next day, and reports of the committees were presented to the Committee of the Whole. Now we have this report from Mr President, which was no doubt compiled with the co-operation of the officers at the table, on the whole mode of operation of the committees. I think that those procedures are very greatly to the credit of the administrative staff of the Senate, the officers at the table, the committee officers and all those associated with this initial effort.
I come now to the second area of operations and refer to our standing committees, which, if anything, are more likely to cause us concern. That part of the motion presented by the Leader of the Government which appertains to the standing committees asks for a variation of the present system by reducing the number of members on a standing committee from 8 to 6. That does not particularly concern the Democratic Labor Party because under one system or the other we would have the same representation. We would have one senator to a committee, at least to the limit of the available committees, and one position would be made available for independents who might be in the chamber. I must say that, having had some hand in the drafting of the initial resolution providing for the appointment of committees of members from minority parties, I anticipated with not inconsiderable and almost brilliant foresight that there might be an entree of independents into the Senate. That prediction was only loo validly confirmed a few months later.
– Why do you not be more modest?
– 1 could be if I tried. What is very important is that the motion as it stands provides for the acommodation on committees of the 3 independent senators, 2 of whom will take their places in the Senate for the first time on 1st July. They will have a very important role to play, and therefore they should quite properly be embraced within the committee system and have their oportunity to participate and their right, and even their duty, to participate. Therefore, whilst I can see the necessity for reducing the membership of committees from 8 to 6, I come back to the question of the work load on senators. This will be a continuing problem. I am concerned that, if the work load becomes too heavy, senators eventually will experience frustration. They will be unable to devote to these committees the time they consider to be warranted and rather than do the task in a slipshod manner they may sever themselves from a committee and concentrate on only one or two committees. Therefore, we have to be very careful that we do not make the work load altogether impossible for individual senators. If the membership of committees is reduced from 8 to 6, as is now being suggested, this will at least contribute in part to the alleviation of the situation and the solution of this problem relating to the work load on senators.
Another suggestion embraced by the motion of the Leader of the Government is that the quorum for a standing committee should be 4. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that if 3 was an appropriate number in a committee of 8, 4 seems to be an inappropriate number in a reduced committee of 6. In any case, 50 per cent is a high percentage to be required as a quorum in any organisation or body f should say that if the quorum is placed as high as that there will be many occasions when it is impossible to constitute a formal and valid meeting of a committee. I support the Leader of the Opposition in his suggestion that the suggested figure for the quorum be reduced from 4 to 3. I do not agree with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that if the quorum were 3 it might deprive the Government of what could be called the control of the committee. With the 2 committees presently operating and a quorum of 3 there might well be a committee which, having a quorum, would not be under the control of the Government, no Government members being present. Vet the Committee would be validly constituted and validly operating.
We come now to what, are in a sense the more important parts of the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and the suggestion for the establishment of two more committees. The number of committees that we should have has been a matter of continuing difference between the Opposition and the Democratic Labor Party. Senator Murphy, on behalf of his Party, consistently has moved for more committees. He originally moved for the appointment of 7 committees and then moved that all seven be made viable immediately. For the reasons which have been set out on a number o occasions by one member or another of the Democratic Labor Party we have opposed that and we have all along supported the policy of gradualism. We think that is justified in the event and we think there is no reason at this stage to depart further from it.
We think therefore that the establishment of two further committees at this stage, making four in all, with a third still to be established, is again a fair creation of committees in what is still an experimental stage because, as the work load with 2 committees had to be examined and caused some concern, now that we have created an additional 2 committees there will be a re-assessment of the work load and again it may be necessary to proceed to the appointment of 1 further committee after a period of time. I strongly urge upon the Senate that it was with wisdom we adopted the suggested policy of gradualism, and I think circumstances have justified the adoption of that policy. Similarly, circumstances do not justify any departure from it at this stage.
Therefore, the Democratic Labor Party supports that part of the motion which proposes the creation of 2 additional committees. Whether we should establish the 2 committees that are suggested or 2 others, or whetherd we should establish another 1 as an alternative to one of those suggested, is another matter. On behalf of the Democratic Labor Party 1 indicate that we feel that a standing committee on education, science and arts should be given imediate viability by hte appointment of members. As to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, I was a little inattentive at the time, but I think Senator Murphy adverted particularly to that Committee. Is that correct?
– lt is suggested that this committee should include finance for the States, statutory authorities and local government. We feel that that committee should take priority over many others. We know that one of the great problems facing Australia today is the current, continuing and chronic problem of the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. We have moved an urgency motion in the Senate to discuss the matterIn that discussion Senator Devitt directed his attention particularly to local government finances. Such matters come within the terms of reference of that committee. Undoubtedly the Senate is not a finance House. It is a States House and this seems to be particularly a matter that is relevant to the Senate as a States House. It is fitting that it should create such a committee early in the history of the committee system and perhaps have a reference to it.
Therefore my Party is disposed in adopting the Government’s proposal for the immediate establishment of 2 committees to give priority to this committee which, in the resolution of 11 th June last, is described as the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, its terms of reference to include finance for the States, statutory authorities and local government. The next named committee is the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner we would be prepared to move, the necessary amendment to the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson unless, with the concurrence of all parties, it was agreed that these 2 committees might be more appropriate than the 2 propounded in Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion.
I turn now to paragraph 2 (e) of the motion. It relates to a matter that has constantly concerned the Democratic Labor Party. Again there is a difference between the Opposition and the DLP on this matter. A number of references have been suggested to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare and the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade. We have protested that we did not think the standing committees were appropriate bodies to receive what I have called massive references that may require interminable investigation and movement from place to place. If massive references arc to be loaded onto the standing committees they will bc denied an opportunity to perform what could be their best, most important and most valuable function, that is, a quick examination in a limited field of something that requires the immediate attention of the Senate. It may be something in the nature of a Bill.
I thought today as we discussed the Australian University Bill, on the question of powers under university statutes, that that matter could appropriately be referred to such a standing committee. If such a committee had before it a massive reference such as that on handicapped children which has been referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare - or the currently suggested reference on housing, or one concerning a national superannuation fund - either those massive references would have to be put aside under the pressure of intrusion of smaller matters, destroying the continuity of investigation and prejudicing the interest of the committee-
– How would the method of dealing with the references be established? Would you suggest that each committee should decide the order in which it should accept the references?
– That may be right. I think the committee would have to decide, unless the Senate of ils own will were to determine the priorities. Assuming that a committee, with the best will in the world, is faced with a massive reference, say, on the establishment of a national superannuation trust, and two or three smaller references came to it, it would have to decide which to lay aside. Constantly massive references would be laid aside until they had lost all significance and possibly would be out of date.
– 1 hope the honourable senator is not suggesting that matters of great importance may be examined superficially, and not in depth, because I suggest that some of these subjects have no ingredients that would enable a solution to be reached by cutting the inquiry into sections.
– Let us take one or two of the references which are suggested and appear on the notice paper. Senator Murphy has suggested as a reference to the
Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the introduction of a national superannuation scheme and the methods of financing and operating such a scheme. That would be an immense technical operation. I suggest that if it were considered that a Senate committee of some character was the appropriate body to investigate such a matter, the type of committee equipped and relevant for the inquiry would be a select committee. I make that suggestion for a number of reasons. Firstly, recruitment would be conducted amongst those with a particular interest and skill in the matter. The area traversed by the investigation would be conned by the committee. Nothing else would intrude, at least within the body of the administrative structure supporting that committee.
I think it would operate more efficiently and effectively, and possibly it would operate ultimately more rapidly. 1 am aware that there is a difference between Senator Murphy and myself on the nature of the references that should be made to the standing committees. I agree with the comment of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that major references of a very embracing character which would take a long time for a penetrative investigation or an in depth examination and may require movement from place to place and Che taking of considerable evidence, are inappropriate for the standing committees. I share Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s opinion on that matter.
The reference suggested by Senator Rae - an investigation into Tasmanian shipping freights - seemed to fall within a limited field and seemed therefore to be appropriate to this type of committee. No doubt we can expect a report on that subject in the near future. If massive references are made to these standing committees, a number of them will be lying around, some not dealt with, some half attended to, some with reports in the course of preparation and some inquiries not embarked on at all while all other matters are put aside. Another possible difficulty is that Bills would take priority in the references to standing committees.
– May I suggest a compromise on the establishment of the committees? The Government has suggested 2; Senator Byrne differs on the 2 that the
Government proposes. Would the honourable senator agree to the 2 that are suggested plus another one, making 3? This might be a compromise so that everyone could work together.
– 1 do not want to make an issue of it but I still believe that 2 established committees plus 2 now to be established would be adequate at this stage. Whether we would extend to a third committee to make a total of 5, with 2 to be established, would need to be considered. It is not a question of great rigidity. It is a genuine attempt to allow the committees to function as efficiently as possible. We favour a policy of gradualism and prudence in operation, particularly at this time when there is a certain element of financial stringency. It is a time when, with the creation of these committees within our hands, we should keep in mind the general situation and make our approach with a certain amount of financial caution, although possibly the infrastructure and administrative structure necessary substantially to support the committees have already been provided for and financially voted.
There is not much more I want to say, but I think I should refer to Senator Murphy’s comment on the establishment of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. Naturally, that is a committee to which one would expect the professionally qualified members, the lawyers in the Senate, to gravitate.
– And Senator Cavanagh, of course.
– And perhaps with the assistance of the gentlemen concerned they could be of some value.
– The committee could possibly report expeditiously.
– I know that Senator Wright had the unfortunate experience of having on his Estimates Committee about 4 lawyers and I think the interrogation was naturally rather tense and certainly somewhat protracted.
– And probably completely irrelevant.
– No, I would not say it was irrelevant and I trust it was valuable. As I look at the notice paper I see the committees on which the lawyers are serving. For example, Senator Greenwood is already on two or three committees, Senator Rale is on two selectet committees and on other committees, Senator Wheeldon is on two select committees and a third committee and I am on two committees. Therefore, honourable senators will find that if we were to establish a Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee those who most appropriately would bc appointed lo it and would gravitate towards it are already extremely heavily are also on other committees?
– Let us see your impartiality. What about the other senators who are also on other committees?
– Senator Murphy particularly developed an argument about the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee and he spoke about the lawyers attending it. But they are the ones who are very heavily committed. Other senators, of course, are committed equally on other committees. That is an illustration of how it may be difficult to gel lawyers to serve on that Committee until some of their present commitments have been dissolved. Therefore, I do not think it would be prudent al this stage to proliferate these committees unduly. Whether or not the Senate in ils wisdom thinks it should go from two further committees lo three further committees is something which will no doubt emerge in the course of deliberation. My own disposition at this stage would be to be conservative - though Senator Murphy will say that is probably not unusual - and to adhere to the establishment of two further committees. I suggest that the second of those committees be the one to deal with finance, particularly Commonwealth and Stale financial relations. I feel that is a boiling cauldron of trouble in Australia and with the new significance of the Senate if is a subject to which Australians might well expect the Senate to devote early attention. For that reason I think it is a committee on which those who are interested and equipped might well be asked to serve.
– Do you suggest that it be a select committee?
– No, it should be a standing committee. I am concerned could be dealt with in segments. Dealing with Senator Devitt’s point, I think this is a subject which could be dealt with in various aspects. Commonwealth and State relations could well come up in various segments and be handled by the standing committee. It is a subject which that the committees, small in number now, might not be equipped with suitable personnel lo handle matters of this character. Therefore, I would hope that when matters of great significance are referred to a committee other senators might attach themselves lo it in the capacity of participants, though nonvoting participants, and give the necessary technical strength lo the committee. Having made those observations may 1 sum up the position of the Democratic Labor Party. We support the report of the President. We are gratified that the committees have functioned as well as they have and we see no reason why they should not go from strength to strength in their operation, particularly as senators become better equiped and more skilled in the method of participation and the method of making the committees work.
We must face the fact that there will be a tremendous turnover of senators as from 1st July and, therefore. Party nominations to these committees should await the apearance of the newly elected senators. We are gratified a nd I think the Senate should be gratified with the way the committee system has worked up to this point and with the same care and attention and the same degree of prudence, there is no reason why it should not go on and become an inbuilt function and an indispensable part of the Australian parliamentary system, fulfilling a role to which Australians will look with gratification, acceptance and agreat sense of consolation in the knowledge that matters of high Government policy are constantly receiving close and continuous scrutiny.
– It is a pleasure to take part in a debate in which we all seek one goal without any sharp divisions of opinion. There is a general agreement on all sides of the Senate and amongst all members as to the goals which we all strive for and that is the greater efficiency and effectiveness of Parliament. Also it is a continuation of the age long battle for superiority of the executive over Parliament or the Parliament over the executive, the lower house, the upper mass news media I see it is spoken of as being some new phenomenon, but if we look at the history of parliamentary government throughout the world - in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and all other countries with parliamentary governments - there has always been a battle between Parliament and the executive. Indeed all parliamentary systems have tride lo institute a system of checks and balances lo control the power and influence of one against the other so that no section of government, whether it be the executive. Sometimes when l read the house or, indeed, the president or the Crown should become dominant.
We in this country have adopted a system of parliamentary government which is, in simple terms, a mixture of what is generally known as the Westminster system and the United States system. We have borrowed something from each, here are, of course, many similarities between our Senate and the Senate of the United Slates of America, lt is rather interesting that in the very early days of discussions on the American system of government, the United States founding fathers saw the need for Senate committees as a part of the game of checks and balances. From my reading it was about 1789 when the first standing committees were established in the United Slates Senate, lt is also interesting to read a book writen by Mr Lindsay Rogers of the United Stales Senate in 1926. 1 commend it to any honourable senator who is interested. Some honourable senators may have rend the book, which has been brought up to date. He traces the history of the development of the United States Senate from the days of the founding fathers up to the present period. In particular he deals with the relationship between the United States Senate and the House of Representatives and, incidentally, the growing loss of power of the House of Representatives in America to the Senate. here is scrutiny of legislation in the House of Representatives in the United States and the need to get legislation through quickly and. therefore, the great need for the Senate, in this constant battle of balances and checks, to assume more power lo ensure that legislation is passed in the interests of the people and that it is sound legislation. In fairness, Rogers points out many of the weaknesses of the American committee system. I think possibly we we even here some of those weaknesses developing but which in time will be overcome. One of the interesting points he makes is the inability of many committees to be able to cross-examine witnesses in a thorough manner because of a desire of senators to make a mark in their own areas as the great cross-examiners - to bring up even irrelevant points so that they get headlines in their own Slates for the advancement of their political ideas, notwithstanding that their line of cross-examination may interfere with the obtaining from a witness of evidence which the committee wants. We probably find much the same problem ourselves at times, lt is a human problem and one to which the American Senate in its committee system has not yet found an answer. I think there are many problems in the United Slates which are far greater than the problems here. One of the problems is that of patronage of these committees which results in their owing something to others. Members of these committees are constantly pushing themselves into the limelight because of the need lo satisfy and to impress their own Slates as lo their great qualifications. From all the evidence the committee system in the United States has suffered accordingly.
But we can learn and we should learn lessons from other systems. I do not think these problems confront us here to anything like the same extent. I have little doubt that we will develop here a system which will be more effective and which will ensure that the committees obtain from witnesses the type of information they want, by following a prepared line of cross examination, and which will inform and benefit Parliament. We have a lot to learn from the United States system. We should be prepared to study the strengths and the weaknesses of that system. One weakness is that appointment to the committees is based upon seniority. At one stage, of the 10 chairmen of the major Senate committees 8 were over the age of 70 and only 1 was under the age of 65.
– Where was this?
– This was in the United States of America. I am going back some years when I say that, but honourable senators will probably find that today the membership of the committees is based upon seniority, so that in general the more important committees have the much older senators. The whole system is based upon a rigid system of seniority. Of course this is a weakness we have not followed here. 1 merely mention this as a matter of interest because often the American system is held up as a shining example, whereas it is not quite the shining example many people believe it is.
– The honourable senator would not want some of those crusty southern senators as chairmen.
– I agree with my friend, Senator Mulvihill. Some of these gentlemen are not only crusty but are also very busy feathering their own nests and not looking to their future. Thank goodness the system of patronage which is so rife in the American system of government has not developed here. One hopes that it never will. 1 believe the few points are of some interest. Not only in the United States of America but also in all countries with parliamentary government there is a constant seeking for greater efficiency, effectiveness and control by Parliament. The House of Commons is slowly developing a system of select committees and many other committees. As Senator Byrne reminded us, they have committees which look at expenditure. Apparently some discussion took place between Senator Mulvihill and Senator Byrne as to the present position. 1 am not sure, but certainly in the past these committees looked at expenditure afterwards. They examined what had been spent rather than what was going to be spent. I am not certain whether there has been a change in that system but certainly the House of Commons realises the need for change as do the Parliaments in Canada and New Zealand. Each Parliament must develop a system of committees which is suited to its needs. We cannot slavishly follow any other country. We should examine what they do and find what is best in those countries and what can be modified and altered to suit our conditions.
– Anything they can do we can do better.
– I am inclined to agree with Senator Devitt. If we learn by their mistakes we will certainly do better than they do. I believe there is great merit in the way we approach the committee system. Indeed Australia has not been backward in the appointment of select committees although we have been rather spasmodic in their appointment. Over a long period select committees of the Senate have been appointed to examine many matters, but it is only in recent times that this system has developed to its present stage. It is only very recently that we have been able to get together a research staff and I think we should pay great tribute to the President and to the officers of the Senate who service these committees. After all, it is no use having committees unless they are well serviced by a fully qualified secretariat. From time to time in some areas the committees need consultants from outside the secretariat. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, of which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack is the Chairman and Senators Rae, Georges, Little, myself and other senators are members, is an example. In this complex area we have had to move outside the secretariat to obtain expert assistance from consultants of a very high order in their fields. Without this type of assistance I do not believe that committees in such areas can operate either efficiently or effectively. In the secretariat we are building up a highly qualified and expert staff to service these committees. But I believe we should not move faster than the ability of the Senate to service committees.
Now I come to the motion moved for discussion - and only for discussion - by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). Senator Murphy and Senator Byrne found many areas of agreement and some areas of disagreement. This is the whole purpose of this discussion. We should not be rigid or inflexible in our attitude but find areas of agreement which will make this system work efficiently and effectively in the interests of Parliament and of the country. Firstly, I mention the Estimates Committees which have been referred to by all speakers. The establishment of these com- mittees was a revolutionary move in the Senate. In my view the Committees worked remarkably well. 1 have no doubt that they will greatly improve, not only with the experience of honourable senators on the committees but also with greater knowledge from the departments as to the type of information honourable senators want. Officers of the departments will come better prepared to give answers to the questions which will bc asked of them.
I believe we have to be very careful as to the areas in which we move in these committees. 1 do not think - this is only a personal view - that we should quiz departmental officers on matters of policy. We should be concerned with what is being spent, why it is being spent, changes in expenditure and inter-departmental efficiency, rather than asking questions or making statements on policy. I believe these committees are not for this purpose. I can see that once we have started these committees they will grow from strength to strength and become an effective element in our Senate system.
It has been suggested in some areas that only 2 committees should meet at the same time. Another suggestion is that we should continue the system of 3 committees meeting at the same time. I have a fairly open mind about the matter. However, I would rather come down at this stage with the view that we should continue for this year with 3 committees until we gain greater experience and then decide whether there should be a change. I do not think we could come to any definite conclusion after 1 year, it may be that we will find that there is most efficiency with 2 committees rather than with 3. I know that it is argued by some honourable senators who wish to go from committee to committee that they find themselves inhibited by the fact that 3 committees are meeting at the one time.
– Surely we will speed it up as we gain expertise.
– Yes, I agree. This is what 1 am saying. As we develop we will learn to speed it up.
– Do you not think that you have too many committees you will have so many reports that it will sound like a 21 gun salute?
– Senator Prowse talks about a 21 gun salute. 1 am not talking about more committees. I am saying that last year 3 Estimates Committees met and the proposal now is to have 2 rather than 3. lt seems to me that the major point is that members of these committees will develop an expertise in the areas in which their committees operate. Therefore the main examination of Ministers and departmental officers will be carried out by committees whose members, over a period, will develop expertise. Of course, other honourable senators who are interested will still be free to attend the committee meetings but the major cross-examination will be done by the people who have developed expertise. At the present I would come down in favour of continuing for another year with 3 committees but, as I have said my mind is not inflexible on this matter: it is open. One of the proposals in regard to standing committees is that they should comprise 6 members instead of 8. T find this attractive. It is obvious that as we continue to form standing committees an increasing number of honourable senators will be on more than one committee. As I think Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Byrne pointed out, a number of honourable senators are at present on 2 or 3 committees.
– There is one on seven.
– When a number of committees sit at the one time honourable senators have to make up their minds what committee they will attend. The result is that many honourable senators are absent from one committee meeting for a long period while they are attending another committee meeting. In some of the areas the committees are investigating, the absence of honourable senators is a severe handicap. I do not think that an honourable senator can ever catch up on evidence that he has missed, particularly if it is given over a period. Therefore, in view of the workload that will fall on honourable senators, a total of 6 committees is plenty. We would hope that the members of those committees could attend meetings regularly. It would be easier for honourable senators to do this if there were 6 committees instead of 8. At present two or three senators are continually absent for long periods through no fault of their own, merely because they have to make up their minds whether to attend committee X, committee Y, or committee Z. If they try to cover the 3 committees of which they may be members I am afraid that they will not be of much use to any of them. Therefore I find this proposal attractive.
The only other point on which I wish to comment is the question of how many standing committees we should appoint now. It is suggested in the document Committees of the Australian Senate’ that we should move into 2 more immediately or as soon as possible, the 2 suggested committees being the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts and the Standing Committee on Social Environment. My mind is not rigid - it is open - on what committees we should appoint. I believe that both of the areas suggested are areas in which there is at present a great deal of public interest and concern, but particularly in the area of education and science. Therefore, one is attracted to this suggestion. Senator Byrne referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. This is an area of considerable importance and v/c have to make an individual judgment on it. Senator Murphy suggested that perhaps we could encompass the 3 committees to overcome the problem of which 2 of the 3 we should select. The only point I would make - I think Senator Byrne alluded to this - is that we are nearing the end of the life of the present Senate. On 1st July, .12 new senators will come to this place. Two points arise from this. Firstly, I do not believe that we should appoint immediately to committees too many honourable senators who will retire in a couple of months. They will perhaps start work on a committee and then will have to move out of it. After the committee has taken evidence someone else will have to come in and try to pick up the evidence which has already been given. I think we should bear that point in mind.
The second point to remember - this rather tends to convince me that we should move slowly at. this stage - is that we will have 12 new senators who have had no experience of serving on the standing committees or select committees. I think that many honourable senators in this chamber over a period of years have gained a great deal of experience in the working and operation of select committees. They have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on how to go about obtaining evidence, the kind of evidence that should be obtained and the preparation of reports. A substantial number of new senators will have no experience in this field. Therefore for the first 12 months or 2 years there will be a need for the more experienced honourable senators to be spread over more committees to provide the experience and expertise for those committees until the new honourable senators become, to use an expression, trained in this field. After all, this is a strange place in which to be dumped suddenly. It is even stranger in the area of committee investigation. It seems to me that there is merit at this stage in proceeding a little slowly until we can develop in the new Senate the people who will be able to service these committees adequately. 1 conclude on the point that not only the value of committees, not only the credibility of the Senate and its committees but also the future of committees depends upon the reports which they bring in. We have been pretty well served with the kind of report that our committees have brought in. We cannot afford to lower what 1 believe has been a very high standard of investigation and report. Therefore, it seems to me that at this stage when we are ending one Senate and beginning a new Senate we have to move fairly slowly until such time as the 12 new senators can become accustomed to the Parliament and can become valuable members of select committees. On balance I find that we should move with 2 committees at this stage. I am flexible about the committees to be decided upon. I do not mind whether they are the committees suggested by Senator Murphy or the committees suggested by Senator Byrne. When the new Senate meets perhaps we can then move further as the new honourable senators become accustomed to the work in this place. The suggestion seems to me to be a wise one.
I have taken a little longer than I intended on this matter. However there are probably a number of points 1 intended to make which I have not made. I believe we arc now developing a system that is going to be of tremendous value nol only to the Senate but to the nation. I believe that by the use of this system Parliament will retain control over the business of Government. I believe it is a valuable check to the power of the Executive and the power of the bureaucracy. There has been a constant battle between parliaments and the bureaucracy ever since parliaments were devised. Therefore 1 think it is the aim of each and every honourable senator, irrespective of which side of the chamber we occupy, to develop the best possible system of committees - a system that will give the greatest service lo the Parliament and to the nation. We all realise that this means a greater workload lo senators, lt means that we will have less and less time in our own States and in our homes. For my part 1 think I only had about 5 full weeks in Western Australia over a period of 40 weeks last year. However this is one of the prices we willingly pay. Realising all this, I believe we are all one in attempting to make this system of Senate committees work in the most efficient and effective manner. I am sure that out of the type of discussion wc are having tonight we will devise the best system lo meet the immediate moment from lime to time. I have had great pleasure in taking part in this debate and 1 hope that as a result of our discussion we will bc able to get together and ascertain the most effective means of making this system of committees work.
– Tonight we are discussing a report presented hy the President of the Senate together with a motion submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) relating to the 2 systems of committees that were established last year. In effect wc are reviewing the establishment of our estimates committees and the progressive establishment of our standing committees. I have expressed my views before in this chamber about the estimates committees and they have noi changed materially since the last time 1 spoke on the matter. I still believe that the proper place to discuss the estimates of the nation’s expenditure is this chamber. 1 would be opposed to any method devised - indeed, it has been devised - to curtail discussion in this chamber of the expenditure for the nation.
It is true that those of us who oppose the establishment of the estimates committees and support the establishment of standing committees were given certain undertakings last year to the effect that our rights in this chamber would not be cut short and that we would nol be denied the opportunity of discussing, al length and in full, the Estimates presented to the Senate. In reality what happened was that the gag was moved to terminate discussion on certain of the Estimates. The gag was imposed on discussion of certain of the Estimates last year, particularly those relating to defence - the Estimates for the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. We had no opportunity to discuss them at all.
– Did you have the opportunity to join any of these Committees?
– I will come to that in a moment, Senator Young. The Leader of the Government will recall that he gave an undertaking that there would be no curtailment of discussion in this chamber on the Estimates. He qualified his statement by saying that there would be no curtailment unless there was a filibuster. That is what he said on (hat occasion. I did not attempt a filibuster in relation to the Estimate but I sought information. There were 3 estimates committees sitting simultaneously - on one occasion there were 4 - which meant that it was a physical impossibility to attend every one of them. One honourable senator was a member of 2 committees that were sitting simultaneously. What an impossible situation that was for an individual who wished to carry out his duties. He had to bc in 2 places at once.
What disturbed nic most about the whole business was thai the gag was applied to the discussion of the Estimates in this chamber, the House of review in which every honourable senator should have the opportunity to ask the questions he wishes to ask the Minister at the table. We should have been given every opportunity to carry out the normal procedures which apply in this chamber, li’ ever we get to the stage where committees carry out the functions of the Senate 1 suggest we will be closer to executive government than we are at the present time.
I have examined in some detail the system of committees operating in the United States of America, in some regards 1 think it works excellently but on many occasions the committees have been used as a means of holding back vital legislation that should have been passed. I remind honourable senators of the action of the committees which operated in the United States immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy. The new President, President Johnson, endeavoured to introduce legislation to control the availability of weapons to the people within the United States. The matter was referred to a committee which procrastinated for over 2 years and prevented the passage of legislation controlling arms held by the people. Opposition came from sporting clubs, socalled veterans and organisations that had some vested interest in the production of arms and their use. It is well known that private armies have been established in certain parts of America. Extreme right wing sections of the American community have been able to establish private armies, particularly for the purpose of subduing the coloured races. These things have been going on for years. It is no good honourable senators denying that certain people attempted to establish this type of thing. They used the committee system in that nation to stop President Johnson introducing legislation to control the use of weapons there after one of the best Presidents they had ever produced was cruelly assassinated by a person or by persons unknown. I am not satisfied, and I do not think any honourable senator in this chamber is satisfied, that the mystery of that assassination was ever solved.
I think the operation of the estimates committees will improve only slightly as a result of the undertaking that only 2 will meet simultaneously. In that case a senator will have to chose between the 2 committees that are sitting and will attend the one in which he has the greatest interest. He may well be denied the right of questioning the estimates dealt with by the committee that he could not attend when they are presented in this chamber. Therefore I have grave reservations about the estimates committees - although every honourable senator may be patting himself on the back and saying how well they worked - being in the best interests of government in this country.
The position of the standing committee is quite different. Standing committees arc appointed for the specific purpose of inquiring into certain aspects of the nation’s affairs. They may inquire into legislation brought before the Senate. They may inquire into a statement by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) about the recent negotiations with Cambodia and other people relating to the purchase of aircraft in this country. They may inquire into a statement which the Senate feels should be investigated. They may inquire into a. matter raised by a backbencher in the Parliament about some of the social welfare problems that arise. I believe there is a great role for standing committees in Australia. However I suggest that the Leader of the Government issued a word of warning in the second last paragraph of his motion and to some degree I agree with him. lt reads:
This in itself is not something that can be achieved simply by carrying this motion. However, it does need serious consideration, because I believe that the Senate should examine whether, when it refers a matter to a committee, it should not stipulate when the Committee should report back to the Senate. The committee might then submit only a preliminary report or an interim report or it might seek leave to continue its investigations. We should not permit a situation in which, as I mentioned earlier, important legislation, statements to this House, or issues relating to the social welfare of the nation could be hidden by referring them to a committee. The Government could use its numbers to enable the committee to continue its inquiry for months without reporting back to the Senate.
One of the great dangers that has arisen in the United States of America with the committee system, which has functioned well in some fields, is that it has been used as a means of delaying for long periods action by the Congress on vital and important matters. This has happened on a number of occasions. It happened in relation to the repeal of the Taft-Hartley laws, when the United States had repressive legislation against the trade union movement. Honourable senators will remember how the United Stales Government avoided its obligations by using the committee system.
I think there is some merit in the suggestion that when the Senate refers a matter to a committee it should stipulate a period of time in which at least a preliminary report should be presented to the Senate for its consideration. If the committee sought leave to continue its examination, the Senate could make its decision on the basis of the report it had received. I believe that this is the only way in which the standing committees can exist and operate successfully.
As has been mentioned by other speakers, we have a system whereby we can appoint select committees also. I should like to refer briefly to this matter, because everybody speaks very highly of the work thai standing committees and select committees have done in the past. I have been a member of one select committee and one standing committee and I have been involved in many debates in this chamber on resolutions providing for the referral of matters to Senate select committees and standing committees which the Government has opposed to the bitter end. Only rarely has the Government supported the establishment of either a select committee or a standing committee. Honourable senators opposite have used many arguments agains! their establishment, because they believe - I presume it is at the direction of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or, at le;iiI by direction of the Cabinet - that Executive control should continue.
Let us noi become too pious when we praise ourselves for how well these committees are working, because had it not been for the Opposition, supported on some occasions by the Australian Democratic Labor Party, none of these committees would have existed, examinations of vital issues would not have taken place, and we would be in a position where the system of committees would not be working at all. Honourable senators will recall that the proposal to establish the standing committees was vigorously opposed by the Government. The only reason why the esti mates committees were established was because the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) brought forward a proposal for their establishment which he thought would stymie the Opposition’s move. At one stage we had the ludicrous situation that it appeared quite likely that, on the one night, the Senate would vole for the establishment of 17 committees. On one vote there was a dead heal. The DLP’s motion was defeated. Because the numbers were even, the motion was negatived. If the motion to appoint the committees that the DLP wanted to establish had been carried, as well as the other 2 motions that were carried on the same night, we would have established 17 committees. That was a deliberate attempt to destroy for all time the establishment of committees. It was done deliberately in that way to ensure that the committee system would nol be introduced into this Parliament. Fortunately, on that occasion the numbers were such that Senator Murphy’s motion was carried.
I turn now to what happens to the reports that committees present to the parliament. We can recall the excellent work that has been carried out by committees appointed by the Senate. Before I was a member of this chamber I remember reading an excellent report presented by the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. The late Senator Vincent was the Chairman of that Committee. I have read wilh great interest that excellent report which made recommendations about the future of our television industry. I regret to say that all the recommendations made, with the exception of a few minor points, have been ignored completely by the Government. In about 1958, 1 think, a report on the Constitution wa.s presented to this Parliament. An all-party committee examined this matter in great detail. It made many recommendations that would have revolutionised government in this country. Had its recommendations been adopted Australians would have been given an opportunity to vote, by referendum, for many changes in the Constitution. With the exception of 2 matters, one of which related to the Commonwealth’s control of the welfare of Aboriginals, none of the matters recommended by that all-party committee was presented to the people.
Many committees sat long hours, at great disadvantage to their members. They put a lot of hard work into the operation of the committees. They put a. lot of their spare time, as well as time that would normally be spent with their families, into sitting, investigating and reporting to the Parliament, only to see the report finish up in a pigeonhole and lost forever. If that is to be the fate of reports to be made by the standing committees that have been appointed - and I support the scheme completely and fully - the whole system will break down because no senator will be prepared to give the time that he must if he is to serve properly on these committees, only to see his work thrown aside and complete frustration put in its place. The system of standing committees should be given an opportunity to work by giving to those committees some direction initially as to the presentation of a preliminary report. If the committees want further information, they can make a decision to hear further evidence. If they have heard sufficient for them to present a report, they should do so. The standing committee system should not be used as a means of delaying action that is needed now. The committees should make recommendations that will be acted on by the Government. The committees should operate so that the work that is carried out by their members will be of some advantage to this nation. [ repeat that I am still not convinced that the present system of examining estimates and appropriations is a proper system which gives an opportunity to all senators to participate. The present system has involved the gag being applied when senators are examining the most vital sections, in my view, of expenditure. This happened with the estimates for the Services. When the estimates to be presented by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) were before the Senate the gag was applied and not one question was permitted to be asked of that Minister on that occasion. Subsequently there was a change of heart and we, perhaps half facetiously and perhaps half seriously, suggested at that time that the Government gagged the debate because it was afraid the new Minister would not be able to stand up to close examination in this open Senate.
I want to see this Senate in control of affairs that it has the right to examine. I do not want to see those affairs put into the hands of committees which will sit in small rooms that will not be able to accommodate the number of people necessary to have a full discussion. I do not want to see - and I appreciate that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has noticed this - our Party room used as a committee room. We already give up that room two nights a week, I understand, by agreement and quite willingly to show films. But we do not want to be put in a position where we are locked out of that room for lengthy periods while estimates committees are sitting. The Leader of the Government in this place has seen that that would not be wise. I say again that the only way the committee system can operate properly and successfully is for this Parliament itself to have the final say, unfettered and ungagged, in relation to the appropriation of expenditure for this nation. I wish the committees well. I am a member of a standing Committee that is working very hard at this moment. I do not want to see the report of that committee thrown into a dusty pigeon hole. 1 know that other reports have been thrown into pigeon holes after previous committees have spent many months of hard work in examining matters and reporting to this Senate.
– The Senate is engaged in a very fruitful and interesting discussion tonight on the report entitled ‘Committees of the Australian Senate’ which was presented to the Senate by its President. I am sure that the Senate is indebted to you. Sir, for the tabling of this report. We have a sense of appreciation of the work that has been done in the preparation of this document and I think that we arc all conscious of something of a sense of history in the life of the Australian Senate as it embarks on a discussion of this report. Some committee work has already been achieved and some committee work is in process at the present time. Discussion, consideration and plans are in hand for an extension of the committee system to cover a variety of subjects to be considered by committees yet to be established. It has been an interesting exercise to note that on both sides of this chamber, in broad terms and in general principle, there has been an appreciation of the committee system. Compliments have been extended for the value of the work that has been done and its influence not only upon the Parliament but upon the Government.
I am a little disappointed that Senator Poyser saw fit to select certain incidents that have occurred in the course of the establishment of the committee system and to align them with political events. Indeed the honourable senator did not contribute as effectively to the debate in the interests of the development of a very fine system as he might well have done. At the outset I refer him to a sentence or two in the conclusions to this report at page 14 under clause 82. One conclusion commences with these words:
Like other legislatures, the Senate will not find that definite solutions come quickly. The best Committee system is the one which comes from experiment, from trial and error.
The President went on to report:
Knowing this, the Senate should go forward resolutely, experimenting in 1971 with-
A number of ways in which experiments may well be carried out in 1971 were then listed. The important thing to observe in the report which the Senate is discussing tonight is the fact that there is a great degree of confidence in the committee system. This is due largely to the fact that, in moving slowly, we have been able to take good, solid steps from which to move into the next area of discussion, experience and, if I may put it this way, achievement. At the beginning of the report is set out the motive which has influenced the various trends of thought and reasoning which have led to the conclusions at the end of the report.
We have drawn heavily upon the experience and the wisdom we have gained from other legislatures. The report refers to the committees of the House of Commons at Westminster and of the Canadian Parliament. Some of us have had the opportunity in recent days of witnessing the committee system of the House of Commons in operation. The Mother of Parliaments, which has been in existence for some 700 years, is itself going through the experimental stages and is launching forth into new experiences as far as its committee system is concerned. It is not possible to draw comparisons between a legislature the size of that of Westminster and a legislature the size of our own. The two systems are different and both sets of circumstances are different. Yet the House of Commons finds value in the process of referring to committees matters relating to Bills, matters of special public concern and interest and a wide range of other matters which concern the Parliament. As the Australian Senate takes up this sphere of parliamentary work it is only natural that the President should refer to this matter. He reported in the following terms: lt is with the same high objective that the Australian Senate has set its course.
This high objective is to make the Parliament as effective as possible and to expand and develop its functions to meet the demands of the times. The occasion tonight is a significant one because it brings to a certain point of fruition and to a certain milestone this experience which we have gained as members of the Senate and which the Senate has gained as a chamber within the bicameral system of the Australian Parliament. The report which has been tabled in the Senate and which is the subject of this debate is something which we as senators have desired, something in which we have been involved and, I venture to suggest, something in which we have had a share in the planning.
Most if not all of us have had some experience of the committee system in the Senate. It has been my privilege to have been involved in the inquiries of a select committee, an estimates committee and a standing committee. I had the privilege of being the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, one of a series of select committees which have operated in recent years. In common with all Senate select committees, it was the duty of members of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution to collect evidence all over Australia in relation to the subject of our inquiry. This evidence was collected in the form of written material which was submitted to us, and there was the verbal evidence of people who came to speak to the Committee. We visited certain areas of Australia where we thought the Committee could gain material which would be of advantage to it in the preparation of its final report. In addition, the Committee took the trouble to make inquiries overseas in order that it might gain further material which would add to the value of the report which it ultimately presented to the Senate. On this occasion a group of senators went to work on behalf of the Senate and in due course reported to the Parliament the entire details of the situation which exists in Australia. So the select committee system has also done good and valuable work. 1 join with other honourable senators in expressing the hope that reports being prepared by select committees will not just be left to wither and decay, lt goes without saying that not every recommendation which a Senate select committee brings forward is acceptable to the government of the day, of whatever political party. Nevertheless, it needs to be stated and restated that the report of a Senate select committee is the report of a committee of the Senate comprising members of all parties who bring to the report the collective wisdom and experience of the Senate. In the sphere of estimates committees, we have all had the opportunity to engage in this voyage of discovery. Honourable senators will be aware of the experience of talking with and examining heads of departments and appropriate Ministers and generally gaining information in a way in which we were never able to gain it when the Estimates were discussed in this chamber. Everybody knows that there were some shortcomings, some problems, some mistakes and some misunderstandings. This was natura) and inevitable because everybody connected with it - Ministers, departmental people, officers of the Parliament and senators alike - was undertaking this exercise for the very first time. It will be very interesting when we take up this workagain in the not distant future. The lessons we have learned and the experience which we have had will make the estimates committee work even more effective than it undoubtedly was when we undertook it towards the end of last year.
The third group of committees with which some of us have been involved, and in which I am currently involved, is the group of standing committees. Honourable senators will be aware that one of the standing committees in existence at the present time is the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. This Committee has been meeting for some time, lt has already had some matters referred to it. It has received so much material that in my judgment this will probably keep it going for another 12 months. In addition to the work which the Committee has to do there has also to be borne in mind the great amount of work which individual members of the Committees have to do. Here on my desk is a very thick folder of material which needs to be studied and read before the Committee meets next Tuesday. We have a number of witnesses coming to give evidence and in order to get the best value from membership, contribute to the ultimate findings and give account of the stewardship in relation to the matter which the Senate has referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, these documents have to be studied and cognisance taken of the material within them.
Therefore I respond very readily, and indeed warmly, to that part of the motion which provides that items referred to standing committees should be capable of being dealt with expeditiously. It has been one of the problems not only of standing committees but also of select committees that sometimes the references put to them are too wide and too complex and require too long a period to be dealt with adequately and effectively. As committees with wide terms of reference go on and circumstances change any opinions which they form at one time are in grave danger of being changed because of the changed circumstances. This has an influence not only on their work but also on their ultimate reporting. I hope that this provision will be adopted so that the work of the committees can be made more effective because they are required to work expeditiously.
Another matter mentioned in the Minister’s motion, which also finds expression in the President’s report and which evokes a response from me is the reference to gradualism. It is referred to on the first page of the report. On my interpretation, it is referred to in the list of contents which refers to the resolution of 11th June 1970 relating to the appointment of Estimates committees, and resolutions relating to further Estimates committees, the appointment of 7 legislative and general purpose standing committees, and the appointment of other standing committees. As the Senate appointed its committees it moved through a series of gradual steps. Paragraph 5 of the President’s report reads:
It is understandable, therefore, that the Senate should vote for gradualism in its own approach to the introduction of a system of Standing Committees and that it should have the benefit of experience before completing the establishment of the system.
The process of gradualism is exemplified quite strongly and with conviction in the Minister’s motion. I would like to refer to a few items in the Minister’s motion and to link them with this important process of gradualism. Item (1) of the motion reads:
In relation to the Estimates Committees:
The Senate adopts the recommendation that not more than two Committees should sit simultaneously;
This portion of the motion has occasioned some discussion tonight. Indeed, I think some of the discussion and some of the questions that have been asked during the course of this discussion have arisen from one or two of our experiences when the Estimates committees were meeting late last year. ( come down very firmly in favour of the proposition that not more than 2 committees shouldsit simultaneously. Some honourable senators have suggested that 3 committees should sit simultaneously while others have said that they have an open mind on the matter. But in these days when the Estimates committees are still in the early part of their history provision should be made for a transition from the kind of procedure to which we have been accustomed over the years, whereby all members of the Senate had the opportunity of being involved in the Estimates debate to a system where only 2 committees are sitting simultaneously. In that situation honourable senators who are not immediately involved in either of those committees are able to attend the sitting of the committee which is dealing with their particular area of political, State or vocational involvement. They could either listen to what the Ministers, heads of departments or departmental officers are saying, or they may join in the questioning. I suppose if 3 committees were sitting simultaneously this opportunity would still be provided to honourable senators. Even if only 2 committees are sitting the circumstances may be such that some honourable senators are at a disadvantage. But, for the present, I think it is in the interests ofthe effec tiveness of the Estimates committee system that no more than 2 committees should sit simultaneously. I want to refer now to item (2) (b) of the motion.
– How will youget through all the business? With the onsetof these new committees and with only 2 sitting at the one time, how do you expect the Senate to accomplish all these things?
– I am referring to the Estimates committees. If only 2 Estimates committees are sitting it is in the hands of the chairmen to see that the business is conducted expeditiously.
– But you would get through the business quicker with 3 instead of 2.
– I do not see any great difficulty in only 2 sitting instead of 3 committees sitting. I do not see that limiting the number to 2 would lead to any undue delay in the discussion of the Estimates. 1 ask for leave to continue my remarks in order to put forward some proposals on item (2) (b).
Leave granted: debate adjourned.
Morion (by Senator DameAnnabelle Rankin) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr Deputy President, at question time yesterday I stated that it was my intention this evening to raise the failure of the Government to answer a number of questions that I have placed on the notice paper. Those questions have been there for more than a week. Whilst I recognise that that is not a long time for questions on notice to remain unanswered,I believe it is a long time because of the importance of the problem into which the questions seek to delve.
I gave notice at question time yesterday of my intention to raise this matter tonight if answers were not provided, in the hope that the Government would recognise the importance of this matter and would supply some answers to me today so that I would not need to raise this matter during this adjournment debate. Unfortunately, that has not happened.
As I outline the case I think that honourable senators will see the importance of it. If the allegations which my questions seek to probe are correct, a threat to many people in Australia is demonstrated. If the allegations bear scrutiny and have substance; many accusations against the Government and the Australian administration are illustrated. Therefore in the hope that, recognising the importance of this matter, the Government will do one of two things - that is, either answer the questions because the answers to the questions are easily obtainable or-
– The answers are being processed. They will be provided as soon as they can be. They relate to long distant matters and we have not had a reasonable time to formulate the answers yet. The honourable senator should not anticipate the answers to these questions by speaking on the adjournment debate.
– I appreciate the Minister’s apology. I am sure that when the Minister sees the nature of the questions he shall see that there is no foundation in the information that has been given to him to the effect that the processing of these answers will lake time. The answers that are necessary to show the validity or otherwise of the accusations made can be supplied in half a day.
As everyone knows, my questions refer to the deaths of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler, whose bodies were found at Lane Cove. Sydney, on New Years Day 1963. One will see the nature of the matter that concerns me by referring to the series of articles which appeared in the Sydney Daily Mirror’ on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Those articles were written by Geoffrey Chandler, who was the husband of the woman found dead on the occasion that 1 have mentioned. In these articles, Geoffrey Chandler outlines further information that he has received as to the cause of the death of his wife. In the second article which appeared in the Daily Mirror’ on Tuesday of this week, he poses 3 questions. Having posed the 3 questions, he says: ‘I know that the answer to those vital questions is yes’. When honourable senators hear the questions of which this man says he knows the answers are in the affirmative they will appreciate the seriousness of the accusations. The questions were:
The author says that he knows that the answer to both those questions is yes. According to Geoffrey Chandler’s statement, he knows that the answer is yes. Perhaps this is not unreasonable. There was a discussion by leading members who asked why this discussion was held.
– The answer is yes, or he says that the answer is yes?
– It states: ‘I know that the answer to these three vital questions is yes’. I want an examination of this subject for the purpose of seeing what confidence we can have in statements by Geoffrey Chandler and also what reliance we can place on the statements contained in a book. The third question - I ask honourable senators to listen to this - was in these terms:
Was a directive given by the Federal Government to all State police forces that the interest of national security could best be served by the police not discovering who was responsible for Bogle’s death.
Consider the seriousness of this question, if it is based on fact.
– The Government of the day in New South Wales should have known the truth or otherwise of that.
– I f what I am submitting can be established as bona fide there is no mystery about Bogle’s death, and many members of the New South Wales police force know that. Honourable senators are interjecting butI should like to develop my own case. 1 hope that what I say in the course of this debate will open up a discussion and not be merely one speech in the adjournment debate. If interjections are made just to ridicule what 1 am saying I shall ignore them, but if any honourable senator wants enlightenment on the subject or to hear more about how I view this matter I shall be happy to answer his interjection. Geoffrey Chandler says that he has formed an opinion different from the opinion he held originally because some anonymous person has been telephoning him at night and telling him things about the case. He says that he gathers that this person is in fear oE his life, that he has not heard from him for months and that he may not still be alive. He said that this man, who speaks in a guttural voice, over a period of 6 months has told him many things and that he has heard the complete story, with the exception of a few loose ends. lt might be suggested that the source of this information does not give validity to Geoffrey Chandler’s story, that therefore we cannot accept the story as authentic and must deal with it lightly. But what he has said is consistent with a book which was written and published by Catherine R. Dalton. Copies of that book have been distributed to honourable senators. The story is so consistent that if. one is correct, and if we can place any reliance on one, then there is a case that the Government has to answer. The book ‘Without Hardware’ by Catherine R. Dalton is, right from the beginning, either an informative, interesting revelation of the operations of foreign agents in Australia - if one can place any reliance on her story this distresses one and leaves one in fear - or it must be the rambling of a mentally deranged person against whom some action should be taken. Let us examine the matter for the purpose of seeing what validity we should give to this book by Catherine R. Dalton who submits a theory that, with the investigation of atomic expansion after the Second World War, a tripartite agreement was entered into at Quebec between Canada, Great Britain and the United States for the exchange of information on atomic energy, chemical and biological warfare, and rocketry.
The agreement, which was a secret agreement, contained conditions whereby one country could establish a security force in another country, which was a party to the agreement, in order to protect the first country’s interest, and the security force operating in the other country was not liable to report to the authorities of the country in which it was operating. Australia was not accepted as a party to this agreement because America was doubtful of Australia’s security in its defence establishments. In 1949, when Chifley introduced the security service in
Australia under Mr Justice Reed of the South Australian Supreme Court, he established the conditions under which Australia could, and in fact did, become a party to this secret agreement. This gave the right to another country to establish a foreign force in Australia for the purpose of protecting the interests of that country. If anyone involved became a danger to the operations of another country, then under this international agreement it was quite right for that country to take action against the particular individual, and it is claimed that Dr Bogle, because of his scientific activities and his transfer to America, became a danger to American operations in Australia, and bis killing was a justifiable killing.
If we can establish the fact that we should listen to what Mrs Dalton says, then there is no secret about the murder of Dr Bogie or Mrs Chandler. We would know not only the chemical that Dr Bogle was killed with - and there would be medical opinion to substantiate it - but also who killed him. The name of the person who killed him would be available, and all the mystery surrounding this particular question would be cleared up. Mrs Dalton, in order to substantiate her bona fides, has given in her book and subsequently in conversation many instances where she has reported that particular things would happen and the things did happen. She was able to do this not because of any clairvoyance on her part but because she was operating and working among a section of the community which was engaged in sabotage and connected wilh security forces in Australia. All the information she possessed came from individuals and she claims that it was no dream. She cites cases where she was given warnings. The Minister could well inform the Senate whether such things have happened.
Let us look at question No. 850 which I have posed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. It is as follows-
Did the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation assist an Australian citizen and a central European diplomat to leave Australia within 24 hours of the discovery of the bodies of the late Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler at Lane Cove. New South Wales, on New Years Day 1963; if so. would a description of the Australian resemble the description, given in evidence at the subsequent inquest, of a man seen running from Lane Cove.
I do not think that it would take a great deal of time to findout whether the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation did assist 2 individuals to leave Australia within 24 hours of the discovery of the bodies. A visit to the library will give a description of the man seen running from the scene of the incident. In April 1965 Mrs Catherine R. Dalton claims she informed the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) of an attack upon naval vessels at Garden Island intended for 8th May 1965. On the same day Mrs Dalton telephoned a person on the staff of the Attorney-General’s Department, requesting the names of security officers in Sydney whom she could contact and advise of the intended attack. As a result of the advice received. Mrs Dalton visited 2 security men in Sydney. 1 have deleted all names although 1 think in her book she gives the name of one of them. The name is available if it is of any interest to the Government and can be made available.
She had the interview with 2 security officers in New South Wales. She gave them the circumstances of the proposed attack at Garden Island a month hence, on 8th May 1965. On the 7th and 8th May 1965 she claims the Garden Island naval depot was closed for the stated reason of research purposes. The engine rooms of the vessels that Mrs Dalton named to the security officers were searched, without the discovery of any suspicious material. On 8th May 1965 there was a near collision of a United States submarine with a group of Australian naval vessels - on the very date she stated. On 10th May 1965 there was a collision at Garden Island resulting in damage to 4 Australian naval vessels. 1 have looked this up in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald* and can find no report on the incident. Were there incident’s at Garden Island on the 8th and 10th May? Was Garden Island closed down for research purposes or other purposes on the 7th and 8th May? Did Mrs Dalton interview 2 security officers in Sydney on. the date she staled? How long will it take to find this information? It is so unimportant to the Minister that it has already taken a week and he is not in a position to give the information at this stage.
Subsequently Mrs Dalton interviewed the Naval Intelligence and asked why 4 boats were docked together on that particular occasion to make them a perfect shot for a miniature Pearl Harbour at Garden Island. The officer said that he knew nothing about a threatened attack or a threatened explosion on the naval vessels. How long would it take to find this information? Tf the Government had any desire to clear itself of the serious accusations made in this book it could clear up this matter within a day or so. One gets some feeling that something may happen and it is a coincidence. But it is not a coincidence when it happens time and time again. Mrs Dalton went to the sergeant on duty at Government House to notify him of the imminent danger to the life of a senior politician. Seven and a half hours later a gun was fired in the face of Arthur Calwell in Sydney. This was the second occasion. She would have told the individual had the man she normally deals with at Government House been on duty, but he was not there. His name is available. It can be checked.
Her claim is that she went and told the officer at Government House that the life of a senior politician in Sydney was in imminent danger 74 hours before Arthur Calwell was shot. The man who shot Arthur Calwell was found to be a mental defective and,I think was gaoled or locked away. Nevertheless, there was someone on a second occasion who we think was just a fanatic or someone who wanted to be important. The membership of the Nazi Party of Australia, which was behind the move, is known and has been stated by Mrs Dalton. Following the shooting of Arthur Calwell, on Mrs Dalton’s version the Federal Attorney-General instructed a sergeant of police in New South Wales, who was a representative of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in that State, to make an investigation. That sergeant was a member of the Nazi Party in Australia in 1943. Is this impossible of investigation? Does it take a week to find out whether Mrs Dalton did convey the information to the sergeant on duty at Government House? A ring on the telephone would provide verification or otherwise.
Let us see the other things that could be checked very quickly. In question No. 853 1 asked:
Was a Sydney police sergeant detailed to investigatethe sudden death of Dr Alfred Conlon in 1961?
Dr Conlon had been medical adviser to our Prime Minister, John Curtin, and Field-Marshal Blarney. He died suddenly of a heart complaint, as his death certificate would show. But obviously the New South Wales police had sufficient suspicion to cause them to make an inquiry. The pertinent question that I asked was:
Was this investigation terminated on instructions from the then Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police; if so, why?
If a telephone call was made to the Commonwealth Police they would say either: This is true’ or ‘This is a lie’. They could exonerate the Government. It would brand Mrs Dalton as not knowing what she was talking about if the Minister could come back after making a telephone call and say: ‘There is no validity in the accusation’. Silence would suggest that the Government has not the answer;
On 5th October 1966 Mrs Dalton visited Parliament House and put it on written record that an attempt upon the safety of Parliament House could be expected in about a month’s time. In a month’s time a person was apprehended on the front steps of Parliament House with a sawn-off shot gun in a brief case. Whether that warning was given can be ascertained within this building. Mrs Dalton’s information was that the man apprehended was a cover-up for the exit of a person who intended to enter Parliament House by the unguarded back kitchen door and to leave Parliament House by the front door, depositing explosives as he went through. The man she named as having that intention was arrested the previous day in Sydney as a mental defective and locked away. Here again we see information that the warning was given and that it was given to witnesses who can be checked on.
The next question is one that the Minister representing the Minister for the Army could well take up. It is question No. 855 and is directed to him. The claim is that a large number of machine guns - I believe that the number was 88 - were stolen from the Ingleburn Army camp and that 14 of the guns were found later at a karate gymnasium conducted by a Hungarian.
– Does the allegation say when this occurred?
– My question does not, but the information as to when it occurred is available. The Hungarian was arrested and charged. Fourteen of the 88 guns were found. Mrs Dalton left Canberra and rode a motor scooter to Sydney for the purpose of putting certain statements to the solicitor representing the Hungarian. She states in her book that it was agreed in a conversation with the prosecutor that a charge of theft would not be preferred against the individual in return for the suppression of evidence that she was prepared to give that he was the holder of a forged invitation to attend a New Year’s Eve party at Government House, Canberra. It was discovered afterwards that the man had received the invitation from a senior member of the Citizen Military Forces in Canberra. The accommodation of the Sydney entertainer and the friend of the Hungarian was searched by police in an attempt to find the forged invitation to the Government House party.
I am also asking the Minister- I think he could easily reply - whether a number of machine guns were stolen from the Ingleburn Army camp. We have had no reply to that question yet.’ I do not know whether the Minister for Works was speaking on behalf of the Minister for the Army when he interjected earlier. I also ask whether it is a fact that these guns were not entered on the quartermaster’s manuscript and as a result any disappearance of these guns would not have to be accounted for. That is the allegation.. The. Minister could easily answer this allegation because obviously the police record of the investigation into the theft would have shown whether the guns were entered on the records of the Department of the Army.
The home of Mrs Dalton was raided and searched by Commonwealth police in December 1967. The Commissioner of Police, who authorised the raid, informed the officers making the raid that the search was necessary as Mrs Dalton was expecting at any moment a serious attack upon a senior politician and that the search was for further information.Can this not be checked overnight? Was the search made? Was the instruction given to the officers because Mrs Dalton knew about an impending attack upon a senior politician? Mrs Dalton visited the Commonwealth police headquarters on 17th December 1967 and was told to get out of the place by the Deputy Chief of Police. She returned again to police headquarters on 19th December, repeating her warning and producing certain photostat documents as evidence that there was imminent danger to a senior politician. At about Christmas time our then Prime Minister disappeared. If what Mr Dalton says is true, she did not give only one isolated warning. An opportunity has been given to the Minister to say whether the allegations are true, but after more than a week he has not replied.
If the allegations are true the Government does not have a reply. If the Government did not issue a warning to police that it would be better in the interest of the security of Australia not to find the murderers of Dr Bogle, there is a danger to any active political supporter in Australia from the foreign forces operating here today. If they are not true, some action should be taken against such a publication. One can only assume from the refusal of the Government over this period of time to exonerate itself from, these serious allegations that there must be some validity in the charges. We are still waiting for a reply from the Government.
I have on the notice paper a further question about -Harold Holt but I understand that Senator Keeffe has made a long study about the disappearance of Harold Holt and is preparing some submissions on this case. As soon as he has completed his investigations he will follow in telling what he knows about that case. But as a result of publicity, I have received numerous letters. Possibly some of them have come from cranks or neurotic persons. But it is obvious that a big section of the Australian community - accepts that a further inquiry is needed into the Bogie case, and does not accept the official report on ‘the disappearance of the late Harold Holt.
– I want to take only about 60 seconds of the Senate’s time to make a request to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch). When the Senate reassembles next Tuesday week I would be grateful to have from the Minister for Immigration his Department’s interpretation of the British Immigration Bill. Notwithstanding the. reasonable explanation published in the ‘Canberra Times’, I feel that from the Australian end one or two points may require clarification. I ask Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin to. take the matter up with her colleague the Minister for Immigration.
(11.0) - I have noted the point raised by Senator Mulvihill and I will inform .the Minister for Immigration of his wishes.
– I have listened to Senator Cavanagh’s submission to the Senate in which he referred to a series of questions he placed on the notice paper last week. They refer to matters that occurred several years ago and to many incidents: It is necessary for a check to be conducted between different departments. Any question that a senator places on tha notice paper is treated with respect, no matter upon what delusion it may be based. Senator Cavanagh’s questions are being treated with respect but they are not of first importance in the Government’s total preoccupation. They will be answered in due course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m. till Tuesday, 9 March at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710225_senate_27_s47/>.