27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sit Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I preface my question which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science by informing the Minister that students of the Tweed River High School publish a school newspaper and that during a recent election campaign they invited both Labor and Liberal candidates to contribute an article. The latter failed to contact the students but Australian Labor Party candidate John Constable forwarded a short article which was published and subsequently censored by the head teacher or someone acting on his behalf. My question is: Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether such political censorship is carried out at the direction of the Minister for Education and Science? If the answer is in the negative, will he take appropriate action to ensure that this type of censorship is abolished, particularly in view of the fact that all finance for the Australian education system comes either directly or indirectly from Commonwealth funds?
– The Senate can be assured that the Minister exercises no political censorship whatsoever under the name of education. As for comment upon the particular circumstances, that would be quite inappropriate for me until the honourable senator furnishes me with the material so that an intelligible assessment can be made of the incident. 1 think it is highly inappropriate that material should be used in a question without notice to me in the Senate unless 1 am afforded the opportunity of perusing it briefly beforehand. If T am afforded that opportunity 1 will give every assistance to the honourable senator in acquainting him with the views of the Minister on the matter.
– Will the Minister for Health make a close examination of the Belgian social services membership funds which have a built-in form of appeal tribunal to investigate the claims of mem bers who consider that certain decisions and fund administration are unjust? Will he equate the rights of rank and file members of such funds with the present infallibility of decision making vested in the Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia and the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia presidiums? In effect, will he impose on the HCF and MBF the same rule supervision that the industrial Registrar imposes on the trade union movement?
– The honourable senator knows that under the provisions of the National Health Act the day to day functioning of the various insurance organisations is left to the councils controlling those organisations to determine what their policy shall be. The Government has always been alert to undesirable trends and has not hesitated to take appropriate action where necessary. 1 think the honourable senator will also recall that when the National Health Act was amended last year a power was given to the Minister for Health to exercise greater control than previously over the operations of the hospital and medical benefits funds. I believe that was due in part to a report by the Senate Select Committee on Hospital and Medical Costs. There is no reason to suppose that contributors are disadvantaged by the existing policy. Experience has shown that the organisations interpret the rules fairly and that if there are occasions for people to complain, representations made either to the organisation, to me or my department usually result in action which leads to an examination of the decision. I am not aware of the position of members of Belgian funds but the honourable senator’s question prompts me to inquire into that matter.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Now that a new Government has been installed in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, will it consider the view originally expressed by vote of the majority of members of this Parliament and place the proposed new Parliament House on a site other than on Camp Hill?
– 1 am not certain whether I am being asked to answer the question on a non party basis or as Leader of the Government in the Senate. In ali the circumstances, I think the question had better be placed on the notice paper.
– My question, which 1 direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns statements that proposals are in train for a claim through the Victorian Government for assistance to growers of pears and other fruits in the Goulburn Valley. We have been repeatedly informed in this House that the Government is awaiting claims. Surely at this stage the Minister can inform us whether the claim for assistance to pear growers was forwarded through Sir Henry Bolte. If so, what is the decision of the Government.
– I understand that a claim has now been forwarded through the Victorian Government to the Federal Government for financial assistance to pear growers in the Goulburn Valley. At this stage the Commonwealth Government is studying the submission by the Victorian Government and an endeavour is being made to arrive at a decision as soon as possible. I will check for further information and let the honourable senator have it if it is available.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General tell us whether the long standing shortage of parliamentary draftsmen has been overcome and whether wc can now safely look to other quarters when we find inexcusable delays occurring in the drafting of legislation or regulations?
– I think the Leader of the Opposition knows from what has been said in this House on previous occasions that we share an interest in the operations of the Parliamentary Counsel and the availability of his services for the drafting of regulations and the provision of those statutes, regulations and rules which are part of his function. Having said that. I cannot assure the Leader of the Opposition in terms different from those in which my predecessor who represented the Attorney-
General in this place has informed the Senate on earlier occasions. However, I note the remarks of the honourable senator and I shall endeavour to ascertain the position and give him such information as comes to me.
Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report that the Department of Civil Aviation is examining the possibility of extending the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport including reclamation of more of Botany Bay for another runway, at a total estimated cost of $200m, and that the existing area of 1,600 acres of Mascot will expand into the surrounding areas? Is this report correct? Has the Minister seen the last annual report of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales in which it is clearly shown by pictorial illustration that duplicated runways are intended to be introduced at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport? Is it also intended by the Department of Civil Aviation to introduce a duplicated runway system at that airport? Is the Minister aware that his delay in making a public announcement on the future site of the second airport for Sydney is causing hundreds of thousand of citizens of the southern suburbs of Sydney great concern? Will he undertake that no further extensions at Mascot will take place until a definite announcement is made on the future intentions of his Department?
– Not unexpectedly this is a particularly long question which without doubt will call for examination and some answers.
– We are expecting a- long answer.
– That is what the honourable senator will get. both now and later. First of all. one should comment to Senator Douglas McClelland that there is an answer in yesterday’s Hansard about the development of a second airport for Sydney. Also, if the honourable senator refers to the House of Representatives Hansard of 29th October 1970 he will find a comment by a former Minister for Civil Aviation that it has always been in the planning for the future development of Sydney Airport that there could be 2 sets of parallel runways.
So there is no secret about this and there never has been. The siting of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport was agreed upon and finalised by previous governments headed by the Labor Party both in this Parliament and in the State Parliament.
There are fairly sensible reasons for examining the possibility of the future development of the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, and that is part of the current investigation being conducted into the whole of Sydney’s airport needs. As has been said clearly and quite accurately, none of this will obviate the need for a second Sydney airport. The investment in Kingsford-Smith is very great. It has inconvenience for some people but great convenience for the majority of people, I believe. One could comment also that the airport has been there for 50 years and that the people joined the airport: the airport did not join the people. I can answer the honourable senator’s question to that extent at the moment. I am not endeavouring to be sarcastic or clever. Please do not think that. I am trying to be helpful. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding and misapprehension, and what could well be described as misleading information has been spread around. I am endeavouring to get the honourable senator an accurate statement on the situation, and I will continue to do that.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. I ask the question in view of the remarks made at today’s luncheon and also in view of the recent statement made by the Prime Minister that he and his Government abhor racism and that the Government is giving $12,000 to a national committee being established to combat racism and racial discrimination. What is being done in the Northern Territory, which is under Commonwealth administration, to ensure that proper award wages are paid to Aboriginals employed in the Territory? The Minister will recall that on 15th October last - almost 6 months ago - when one of the Estimates Committees was dealing with funds for Aboriginal advancement, as reported at page 253 of Hansard, the then
Acting Minister, who was present with her departmental officers, slated:
I again ask in this year which is set aside to combat racial discrimination: What is being done by the Government to ensure that proper wages and conditions are received by our Aboriginal people?
– I will refer that question to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs to obtain a specific answer. I think it should be clearly emphasised that it cannot be charged against the Government that it practises discrimination in its policy towards Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. The very fact that award wages are to be paid to Aboriginals is the clearest indication that the allegation made is not correct.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Supply, refers to the supply of foodstuffs to Federal Government employees. Which authority or Commonwealth department is responsible for the control of the quality of foodstuffs supplied to the armed forces and to the government catering services? Does the Commonwealth inspect and approve the quality of raw material used in canning or in manufacture of food items provided to the armed forces or to the government catering services?
– Broadly speaking, the Department of Supply would be the victualling department in terms of contractual arrangements entered into for the Services. In other words, one of the Service departments could requisition certain bulk items. The Department of Supply would call tenders for the supply of those items. The Department has a very big organisational setup for checking and supervising contractual arrangements and inspections. 1 would need to know the precise case that the honourable senator had in mind before I could give a detailed answer. I do not suggest that he should give this information at question time. If I am informed of a particular case ( will ascertain for him almost immediately where the responsibility lies and what the supervision is in relation to the quantities or the qualities that he may have in mind.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. On 15th March J asked him what effect sanctions had on Rhodesia and whether it was time that we treated Rhodesia on a par with South Africa. I was wondering whether he had any further comments to make.
– On 15th March the honourable senator asked a fairly comprehensive question about Rhodesia. I said that 1 thought that the subject might be a suitable one on which a statement could be made. He had asked that a statement be made. I communicated with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who wrote a letter in reply. He said that he had given consideration to the question of a statement, but in view of the British Government’s continued efforts to reach a constitutional settlement with Mr Smith he believed that it would not be helpful for the Australian Government to make a public statement on the matter at the present time. He gave some reasons, which I think I can give, as the basis for his suggestion that it was perhaps an inappropriate time to be making a statement. Those reasons are contained in a letter, which I have, addressed to Senator Turnbull. They are:
Firstly, on 2nd July last year Mr Heath announced that his Government would make another effort to see whether a settlement on the basis of the 5 principles were possible. Secondly, the British Foreign Secretary stated, on 9th November, that as a first step a message had been sent to Mr Smith. Thirdly, no details of the British Government’s correspondence to Mr Smith, which the Minister understood was continuing, were released and the Australian Government was not therefore in a position to comment on it. Fourthly. Australia continues to regard Britain as exercising legal and constitutional responsibilities for the people of Southern Rhodesia. Fifthly, sanctions have created strains on the Southern Rhodesian economy, particularly on its balance of payments. Sixthly, even if the sanctions were ineffective Australia is obliged, by its membership of the United Nations, to continue to apply sanctions against Rhodesia. Those sanctions are mandatory for all United Nations members. Finally, unlike Rhodesia, South Africa is an internationally recognised sovereign State which achieved independence by constitutional means. In the background of all those things and of the discussions going on it is thought inappropriate to make an official statement at this time.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence and concerns the Australian aircraft industry. I ask the Minister: Since his reply to me on 15th March 1971 announcing that he might make a statement about the future of the aircraft industry has he considered what would happen in the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd which then announced that 100 skilled workers would be retrenched? Has the Government been able to take any action to provide work for these people or to make other arrangements which might ensure that people employed in the aircraft industry will be fairly regularly employed in the future?
Yes, I did say that I would give consideration to making a statement. It is true that there has been a stand-down of certain operatives at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd. Because 1 read in the Press where it was assumed that because the word ‘Commonwealth’ was involved that it was a Commonwealth instrumentality it should be well and truly stated again that it is not a Commonwealth instrumentality; it is a private company. It is correct that the Commonwealth is its best customer. It is also true that some 35 personnel were stood down and it is projected that this figure might increase to 100. It is equally true that certain representatives from the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd and some from the Government Aircraft Factories arrived in Canberra unexpectedly. I saw them. At the time I pointed out that the normal procedure we adopt in relation to this situation is to do all these things through the Australian Council of Trade Unions which has been tremendously helpful in any problems which we have in the aircraft industry.
– Mf Hawke is a very good nian.
It is not Mr Hawke but Mr Souter who looks after these matters. But these representatives having arrived here and having spoken to the Prime Minister in Kings Hall I took it upon myself to interview them. Of course the problem is one of workload. Indeed, every effort is being made where possible to find suitable alternative accommodation for these operatives. I do noi want to make a statement at this moment. 1 want to get a clearer picture. At the present time I am working on some information which will have regard to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd and the Government Aircraft Factories and to the offset situation, which has improved considerably in the last couple of months. When I have a statement ready I will not be tardy in bringing it into this place.
– ls the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that the long term parking area reserved for airline travellers at the Canberra airport is frequently used by tourists and other visitors as a short term parking area? ls he also aware that the Department of Civil Aviation officials at the airport have no real authority to control parking and that vehicles may be left for a week or more in the 2-hour limit parking area without penalty? Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether there is any likelihood of DCA officials being granted authority to control airport parking? If so, on what date will such authority commence to operate?
– Recently the parking area at Canberra airport was extended to include some more land across the road. The matters the honourable senator has raised are of concern to me. I am aware that there are some problems of Department of Civil Aviation control over the parking area because of divided departmental responsibility. I shall take up the points the honourable senator has raised and try to have an answer before we rise this week.
– Has the Minister for Air yet made a determination of the matter of the Royal Australian Air Force display, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the RAAF, at the Edinburgh air base in South Australia being deferred from the proposed day - namely, Saturday 17th April - to the following day to avoid clashing with the main day of the Barossa Valley Vintage Festival celebrations? If the air pageant cannot be deferred to the following day, will consideration be given to varying the hours of the pageant to from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to enable observers of it to proceed to the Barossa Valley in time to join in the festivities there?
– The honourable senator approached me on this matter on 2 occasions. I remind him, first of all, that it is proposed to hold flying displays at various airports - namely. Richmond. Laverton, Fairbairn, Pearce, Townsville, Amberley and Edinburgh - during the Air Force jubilee celebrations. These displays will show most types of aircraft within the RAAF inventory, and there also will be aircraft from the air forces of other countries, including Fill As from the United States of America.
For as long as I have been Minister for Air, we have been preparing for these displays, and I understand that preparations were going on before 1 came into this office. So, when the honourable senator asked me whether I could put the Edinburgh display forward or back to another date, I came up against a problem in that these aircraft were committed for displays on days following the Edinburgh display. I found that I could not change that day. The honourable senator then suggested that perhaps we could stage the display at Edinburgh at an earlier hour of the day and finish in time for people to attend the Barossa Valley wine festival afterwards. [ have had a look at this suggestion. I find that the programmes setting out the times of the display have already been printed and in some cases have been distributed. So, I find this suggestion impractical, too. I regret it, but that is how the matter has proceeded. We have planned for these jubilee displays for a long while. So, I cannot do anything about the display at Edinburgh.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. In view of the recent statistics produced by the Minister for Immigration on the number of Asians with professional qualifications granted permanent domicile in Australia, how does he account for the rejection of 2 applications mentioned by the Sydney ‘Sun’ and 2GB columnist Anne Deveson concerning, firstly, a Chinese girl born in Malaysia who has qualified as an accountant and, secondly, a Chinese microbiologist who finds that there are no outlets for his professional talents in Hong Kong?
- Senator Mulvihill was good enough to give me an indication that he proposed to ask this question. I have endeavoured to ascertain what the position is. However, from the few details provided, it has not been possible to identify the persons concerned. Officers within the Department of Immigration are attempting to do so. Perhaps Senator Mulvihill would be prepared to help in that attempt to identify these people. If he does so, I am sure that we will be able to provide an answer for him.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, by reminding him that last year there was an incident at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport which involved the emergency landing of a heavily laden international aircraft but which very fortunately did not result in any loss of life. I ask the Minister: Have investigators from his Department yet completed their inquiries into the cause of the incident? If so, does he intend to make any public statement on the matter?
– I think that I am correct in assuming that yesterday I did provide an answer on notice to Senator Georges which contained some information which bears on the question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland. The investigation is not yet complete, but it is being done very, very thoroughly indeed. When it is completed, as is the normal practice, the report of the accident inquiry team will be made available.
– Mr Deputy President, I have a question which I wished to address to the President. I hope that you will convey it to him. Today, for the first time since I was elected to this chamber 9 years ago, I discovered that when a function of the type held in this Parliament today occurs the staff dining room is closed down. This seems quite wrong. I understand that ali that is needed is the employment of a couple of extra waitresses. Will this matter be taken up with the Joint House Committee to see that this anomaly is corrected?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - I will refer the question to the President and he will report to the honourable senator in due course.
– Does .the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry recall there being raised previously in this Senate the problems which face the consuming public of Australia and in particular the beef, lamb and pig industries of this country should artificial meat be introduced onto the Australian market? Does the Federal Government hold any firm attitude towards the manufacture and introduction of artificial meat onto the Australian market?
– The honourable senator is not trying to do the same as he did with respect to margarine, is he?
– We always hear interjections from those who are trying to sacrifice our rural industries. In the interests of existing Australian meat producers, will the Commonwealth Government pursue a policy towards gaining the approval of the several States aimed at the banning of artificial meat on the Australian market?
– From time to time, from both sides of the Senate, I think questions have been asked on this matter. I have not all the details on it at the present time. But I will take this matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– My question to the Minister for Health is this: In recent years on a number of occasions the Government has attempted to improve the financial situation of patients in private nursing homes and homes for certain types of aged people. On those occasions, almost immediately following the action taken by the Government, the fees charged in those homes have been raised, thus depriving the patients concerned of any real benefit from the action taken by the Government. Is the Government aware of this situation? Has it any plans to ensure that, when on future occasions it lakes action to improve the lot of people in these homes, they will really receive the benefit of what is being done?
– I thank Senator McManus for emphasising a point which is part of a general review which is being undertaken hy the Department and has been undertaken since the presentation of the report of the Committee of Inquiry on Health Insurance, commonly known as the Nimmo Committee. Report, early in 1970. I am nor able to say when that review will be completed but. as I informed the Senate yesterday evening, it is being carried through with expedition. As soon as practicable, I expect to receive a comprehensive report. When it is received, the points which Senator McManus has raised will be considered with a view to improving what is recognised as a situation requiring improvement in regard to a whole range of hospital facilities.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation by reminding him that 1 asked a question of him yesterday regarding the cut back of Trans-Australia Airlines’ services between Melbourne and Canberra. I now ask: Is it a fact that the TAA early morning flight from Canberra to Melbourne on Friday has been cancelled and that the only flight out of Canberra to Melbourne on Friday mornings before 9 a.m. has been allocated to Ansett Airlines of Australia?
– What about Thursday mornings?
– Friday morning is when we return. Perhaps this applies also to Thursday morning. Does this confirm the inference contained in my question yesterday that Ansett Airlines of Australia is being granted priority in servicing the Melbourne - Canberra - Melbourne service and that members of this Parliament who have always travelled with TAA are to be deprived of an opportunity to support the Government owned services when the desire to travel on the most convenient service between these 2 cities is being considered?
– It is true the honourable senator asked a question yesterday about the rationalisation of services between the 2 arms of our 2-airline policy. Equally the honourable senator drew certain inferences, which I was unable to support. I assure him that I shall have inquiries made to sec what the situation is. However, this is fundamentally a matter for the airlines concerned. If they find that business is not big enough to support the traffic they make proper adjustments with each other. There is no favouritism either one way or the other.
– This is not true.
– The honourable senator may make his own judgment and I shall make mine. There is no favouritism, either one way or the other, expressed by me or the Department.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health in his capacity as Minister representing the Postmaster-General and also the AttorneyGeneral. I ask the Minister, who has been interested in questions of civil liberty, whether he will ascertain from the PostmasterGeneral and also perhaps from the Attorney-General whether the following report which appeared in the ‘Sunday Review’ is true:
This Sunday (March 21) is the eleventh anniversary of the massacre of 69 Africans at Sharpeville. South Africa. To commemorate this event and take advantage of the presence in this country of the former Bishop of Kimberley, who was deported from South Africa in 1967, the Australian Broadcasting Commission scheduled Bishop Edward Crowther to broadcast in its regular Guest of Honour Radio spot.
Unfortunately at the last minute ABC management got cold feet and decided to celebrate the anniversary in its own peculiarly Australian manner - by killing the bishop’s pre-recorded speech.
The speech was then set out in the newspaper. Can the Minister find out whether it is true that this kind of censorship was exercised in relation to a speech which, on the face of it, seemed merely to be setting forth Australia’s official position as stated at the United Nations? Will he ascertain also whether it is true that the same Bishop Crowther was censored off the This Day Tonight’ programme although his impending appearance had been announced by Mr Peach who said that he would be on the programme that night, and whether the programme went on without him for the same reason? Will the Minister find out from the PostmasterGeneral whether this is true and what is the explanation for these matters? Can he tell us also how this fits in with [he Government’s position on the maintenance of civil liberties?
– The question from the Leader of the Opposition was long and, necessarily, somewhat involved. As I represent the Postmaster-General and the Attorney-General the question is addressed to me in a wholly representative capacity. All I can do is to convey the tenor of the honourable senator’s remarks to the Postmaster-General for his comments. When those comments are available they will be supplied to him. T feel that until the factual situation is known there is no case to be put to the Attorney-General for comment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Will the current policy of the United States Government to reduce the number of FI 1 1 aircraft ordered from the American aircraft industry, and the rumours that production of this aircraft in America will cease in 1972, affect the existing Australian commitment? Does the Government propose to re-examine the Fill deal as a result of the reduction in production of this aircraft within the United States?
– The Government has been aware of the total number of Fill aircraft likely to be produced. Following the visit of the then Minister for Defence, Mr Malcolm Fraser, to America and discussions between the
Australian and United States Governments, agreement was reached whereby the Australian Government could defer the taking of a decision on acceptance of the aircraft until later this year. That agreement was reached on the basis of certain technical and operational requirements being met by the United States. The arrangement still holds. A number of those requirements, including certain fatigue and other tests, have not been met. In addition, the aircraft have not been released in the United States to fly at 100 per cent of their design manoeuvre envelope. That restriction applies also to the 4 aircraft which will be coming here next week. Because of the conditions that I have mentioned it is expected that the Australian Government will not be in a position to make a decision on acceptance until at least the end of this year.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the difficult financial situation in which many privately owned and community directed hospitals find themselves in providing accommodation for pensioners? Will consideration be given to the question of providing increased financial assistance to such institutions to enable them to continue to provide their essential services to pensioners and folk on low incomes?
– I think the position to which the honourable senator has referred is well known. Even in the short time that I have had the responsibility for answering questions of this character in this place I have made some reference to it. All I can do is reiterate what I said in response to Senator McManus. This matter is currently under examination and in due course 1 expect to receive a report and then to be able to formulate some proposals which will go to the Government. However, I think it is fair to say - I repeat here what I said yesterday - that it is likely that there will be some increases in charges which hospitals will have to impose on patients who can afford those charges. The basic reason for the plight in which many hospitals find themselves at present has been the tremendous increase in their labour costs.
-I address my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that a firm known as Olims Consolidated Ltd has obtained, through a subsidiary company, a 1 0-year lease of premises and also the sole right to carry on the sale of duty free goods at Sydney International Airport? Is it a fact also that the original tenders, when called, specified a lease of 3 years? Were the terms of the lease altered after the lease had been granted? If so, on what grounds was the alteration made?
– The latter part of the question is news to me. I am aware of the fact that Olims is operating a duty free concession at the Sydney International Airport. Inquiries will have to be made into the latter part of the question and I shall do that immediately.
-I ask the Minister for Air whether he will table in the Senate details of the use of VIP aircraft by Commonwealth Ministers for the period from 1st January 1971 to 28th February 1971 inclusive. Will he regard the implementation of this request as urgent?
– Recently I tabled in the Senate the flight procedures relating to VIP aircraft.
– That was up to the end of the last session, I think.
-I was going to say that. This was done at the request of the Leader of the Opposition. I tabled details of all flights from the time that the debate arose previously on VIP flights until a certain period. I am willing to look into the matter and table details of the flights from that period up to 28th February.
– That would be better because otherwise there will be a gap.
– I will do that if I am able to do so.
– Include details of their use by non-members of the Cabinet on both sides of the House. That is only fair.
– I said I would table all details.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, is supplementary to the question I asked yesterday concerning a company known as Elwood Pty Ltd holding 154,000 shares in Riverina Television Ltd. Will the Minister order a search by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of the register of Elwood Pty Ltd to ascertain who are the holders of the 2 shares in that company? Will the Minister ascertain particularly whether either one of the shareholders in question is a director and/or secretary of a company known as lllawarra Newspapers Pty Ltd, which company is, I understand, a subsidiary of John Fairfax Ltd? Will the Minister ensure that holdings in television stations acquired by all newspaper companies or their subsidiaries, nominees or trustees are thoroughly examined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to see whether there is any contravention of the Broadcasting and Television Act and present to this Parliament a report on the investigations before the Parliament adjourns for the winter recess?
– To my mind the question asked by the honourable senator carries with it some suggestion that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board may not be carrying out the investigations and duties which it is charged to do.I do not know whether that implication is fairly based but I must say that I would doubt it. However, in the light of what the honourable senator asked yesterday and what he has asked today I undertake to convey the questions asked today and yesterday to the Postmaster-General for his consideration.
(Question No. 899)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
South Vietnam; if so, does il maintain liaison with its United States counterpart in South Vietnam
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 902)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will the Government give serious and favourable consideration to the introduction of legislation to reduce Parliamentary salaries by 10 per cent or take steps to reduce other allowances by 20 per cent, in view of its concern with increasing inflation.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As the honourable senator is aware, the present salaries of members and senators were fixed in December 1968. Allowances have also remained unchanged since that date apart from a small increase in the electorate allowances payable to senators. Since that time there have been significant increases in salaries and wages throughout the community. In dealing with inflationary pressures, the Government does not seek a reduction in salaries and wages but rather restraint on the part of all concerned - unions, employers and wage fixing authorities - in future increases.
– On 24th February 1971 Senator Gair asked the following question:
In directing my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General I refer to page 154 of the Seventieth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board where it is stated that Mr H. E. Hendy is the owner of all the shares in 3 companies which hold substantial interests in 5 television stations. These interests had a market value as at 30th June last of $980,000 and included 22,000 shares in CTC Canberra, 101,150 shares in NBN Newcastle. 131,800 shares in WIN Wollongong, 54,700 shares in AMV Albury and 309,000 shares in QTB Brisbane. Is the Minister aware that the total paid up capital of the 3 companies owning those shares is $14? Does the Minister know the source of the funds which the 3 companies used to purchase shares worth almost$1m and to purchase, in addition to these television shares, freehold property at 16-18 Hunter Street, Sydney, which has a Valuer-General’s value of$270,000? Is the Minister aware that the executors of the estate of Mr Hendy who died in August last year have now been advised by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd and that that company holds an option to purchase the capital of the 3 companies at part - that is, for $14 - notwithstanding that the companies own assets worth at least Slim? In view of the option said to be held by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd will the Minister ascertain whether that company is in breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act and, if it is not, will he advise whether he proposes amendments to the Act to prevent a continuation of the position in which beneficial ownership of shares worth over $1m in the various television companies will pass to John Fairfax and Sons Ltd or their nominees on a payment of the nominal sum of $14.
The Postmaster-General has now furnished the following information in reply:
It is the fact as set out in the Twenty-second Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that the late Mr Hendy, and now his estate, held through 3 private companies substantial interests in the licences for 5 commercial television stations.
As required by the Articles of Association of each of the licensee companies concerned pursuant to the provisions of Section 92G of the Broadcasting and Television Act each person seeking to become the holder of shares in a licensee company is required to complete a Statutory Declaration stating whether or not the shares concerned will be held beneficially by that person or if not who will be the beneficial owner. The licensee companies involved would not have registered the shares in question if satisfactory declarations had not been received from the transferees.
As far as the interests of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd in television licences are concerned I would point out that pursuant to the provisions of Section 92 of the Act the interests of this company in licences for television stations are frozen’, to the extent that this company is not permitted to increase its interests in any television station licence in respect of which it already has a prescribed interest nor to acquire any additional prescribed interest as defined in the Act.
On the basis of the information presently available to me, John Fairfax and Sons Ltd is not in contravention of the provisions of the Act. I am not aware of any option being held by the company in relation to the shares concerned.
The honourable senator may be assured that any proposals for the disposal of the shares in question will be subject to the provisions of the Act and therefore subject to my approval if the acquisition or increase of a prescribed interest in a licence is involved.
– On 23rd February 1971 Senator Wriedt asked me the following question:
Is theMinister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities aware that tourists from the mainland were denied access recently to the Cape Bruny Light area by persons presumably employed by the Commonwealth. Is it not a fact that such areas of great tourist attraction have been accessible in the past. Will the Minister take steps to ensure that all areas of Tasmania which are of value in promoting tourist activities are accessible to tourists.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport has now provided me with the following information in reply:
Visitors to this station are shown over the lighthouse tower and lantern room between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or at other times by prior arrangement with the Regional Controller, Hobart. Notice boards showing this are displayed prominently at the station entrance and also at Lunawanna. At other times visitors are permitted to enter the lighthouse reserve should they wish, for example, to gain a closer view of the lighthouse, climb to the summit of the headland to see the view, or pass through the reserve to reach the adjacent areas.
A large number of people visit this light station. During a 3-week period recently a traffic count recorded1,1 14 vehicles entering the lighthouse reserve. The Regional Controller, Tasmania has advised that the staff adopt a co-operative attitude towards visitors and provide whatever assistance they can at all times. However, it will be appreciated that visitors are not admitted at night and that the lightkeepers operational duties will occasionally necessitate the station being closed for short periods. On the day when the tourists referred to by Senator Wriedt were not admitted there were so many visitors that the staff found it necessary from time to lime to control further entry in the interests of those already on the station.
– I present the following papers:
Department of the Interior report on the Woden Valley flood of 26th January 1971.
National Capital Development Commission, Woden Valley flooding report on design and construction aspects.
Transcript of proceedings before the Coroner, Mr W. Nicholl, S.M., in Canberra on 15th March 1971.
-I seek leave to make a statement on behalf of the Minister for Education and Science in relation to the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures.
– Was any notice given to the Opposition that this statement was to be made?
-I am not aware of that.
-I seek leave to mention an aspect of this matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– MayI suggest that in future the arrangement that was agreed upon in respect of statements being made by leave is observed - that is, that copies of the statements to be made be furnished to the Leader of the Opposition. I think that in the House of Representatives such copies are furnished 2 hours beforehand. That would be a reasonable practice to adopt here. The arrangement in the House of Representatives was that if that had not been done leave would not be granted. These things should be conducted on “a basis which is conducive to the proper functioning of the Senate. I ask that in future that course be followed. The Opposition does not refuse leave on this occasion but asks that this reasonable arrangement be observed in the future.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) -Is leave granted to the Minister to make the statement? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I make this statement on behalf of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Fairbairn). It relates to the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and cultures.
Following discussions with the States late in 1968, the Commonwealth in April 1969 established an Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures, with Professor J. J. Auchmuty,
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Newcastle, as its Chairman. The Committee was to make a comprehensive review of the current situation regarding the teaching of Asian languages and other aspects of Asian life and cultures in Australian schools and other educational institutions. This review was to include consideration of the factors that have tended to restrict the study of these subjects. The Committee was to report back to the Commonwealth and State Ministers for Education. The Advisory Committee submitted its report on 2Sth September 1970, and the then Minister for Education and Science sent copies to all the State Ministers for Education early in October. It was suggested to the State Ministers that, after they and he had had an opportunity to study the report in detail, they might meet to discuss the Committee’s findings and what might be done in the light of them. It is hoped that such a discussion might take place as soon as a mutually convenient time can be found, In the meantime, the Minister for Education and Science has decided to release the Advisory Committee’s report, so that there might be an opportunity for public discussion of it. This action is being taken after further discussion and with the concurrence of the State Education Ministers.
– by leave - I make the following statement on behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I note Senator Murphy’s comment about Ministers supplying copies of statements. He has my assurance that this statement came into my possession only a short time ago. I had copies circulated to my colleagues in the Senate as soon as I received it. 1 think copies would have been available for approximately an hour.
On the night of 26th January 1971 a thunderstorm sudden in onset and severe in intensity broke over the Woden Valley. lt was accompanied by torrential rain and in the flooding which followed 7 lives were lost and damage was caused to private and public property. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of those who lost their lives. The inquest into the deaths began on 22nd February 1971 and the Coroner’s findings were announced on 15th March 1971. He found that each of the deaths occured by accidental drowning. Immediately after the flood the then Minister for the Interior requested reports from the Department of the Interior and the National Capital Development Commission. As requested by the former Minister for the Interior the report by the Department deals with such matters as the storm and its effect on the Woden Valley, the police and Civil Defence response, loss of life, damage to properly, possible action to prevent such a disaster happening again, and whether changes are needed in the warning systems and emergency procedures. The National Capital Development Commission’s report deals with the engineering design and construction of drainage works in the Woden Valley and with relevant road work.
In view of all the circumstances of this tragic loss of life and in view of the public interest the Minister is departing from normal practice with respect to departmental reports and at the conclusion of this statement I, on his behalf, will table the report of the Department of the Interior and the report of the National Capital Development Commission. I will also table the Coroner’s statement and findings. Honourable senators will be aware that this has been done already. Copies are being circulated. The conclusions drawn by the Department of the Interior were as follows:
The storm on 26th January was exceptional and extreme. It was sudden in onset and produced torrential rain which within less than 30 minutes caused serious flooding.
The emergency developed and abated in a period of a little over an hour.
The flooding occurred at widely separate points. Five and probably 6 lives were lost at the intersection of Melrose Drive. Yamba Drive and Yarra Glen. The seventh life was lost some H miles south of this point on Yamba Drive on the eastern side of the Woden Valley. A city omnibus on the western side of the Valley at the intersection of Beasley and Basedow Streets was turned through 130 degrees and carried across the road by flood waters. Rescues were effected at places between those points and also al the Cotter Road crossing of Yarralumla Creek lj miles downstream from the Melrose Drive, Yamba Drive, Yarra Glen intersection.
There was no previous experience to demonstrate how quickly the intersection of Yarra Glen with Melrose Drive and Yamba Drive could become dangerous through flooding.
Apart from the overtopping of the main Yarralumla Creek and sections of the Long Gully Creek formed channels there were severe overland flows in the Woden Valley which caused considerable damage to private and public property.
The response of the police and other emergency services was satisfactory.
The presence of warning signs or depth indicators or better lighting might have helped to avoid or reduce the loss of life at the intersection but whether this would actually have been the case in the circumstances of this particular storm is doubtful. However, warning signs and depth indicators have been installed and the lighting is to be improved.
The warning system and the emergency procedures applicable in these kinds of circumstances have been closely examined. Some improvements have been made and others are in hand. No changes have been revealed or suggested, however, which would have ensured adequate warning of such serious and sudden Hooding as occurred on 26th January.
A review is being made of all other sections of roadway in the City of Canberra which may be subject to periodic serious flooding in order to determine those sections where like or alternative action should be taken.
Priority is being given to the installation of highway lighting in areas subject to periodic serious Hooding as well as the section of Yarra Glen from Carruthers Street to Yamba Drive.
Improvements have been made in the civil emergency procedures and the practicability of giving earlier warnings to the authorities is being further investigated.
A new section is to be included in the forthcoming reprint of ‘Driving in the ACT’ on the danger of driving on roads covered with water. Information about the nature of storms of the kind which occurred on 26th January and the implementation for public safety are to be given wide public circulation.
A number of people exposed themselves to serious personal danger to save others. Without their courageous efforts there could have been further casualties.
The National Capital Development Commission summarises its report and conclusions as follows:
The low level crossing nl Melrose Drive-Yamba Drive across the Yarralumla Creek was designed to provide for the passage of normal dry weather flows up to approximately 800 cusecs through 4 48-inch diameter pipes. The crossing was designed to withstand flooding and to allow the passage of flows above 800 cusecs over the causeway section, but at velocities considerably less than in the main channel.
The crossing has been in operation since April 1967 during which time there has been flooding, though not frequent, of the roadway and some restriction to movement of traffic.
The interchange replacing this crossing is programmed for construction commencing this year.
The stormwater drainage in the area has been designed in accordance with accepted practice in Australia. This provides drainage pipes and chan nels for flows of frequent occurrence. Less frequent heavy flows arc carried outside these conduits in open parklands or defined floodways. The review of drainage under the exceptional conditions of 26th January requires a consideration of. the entire system of pipes, channels and Hoodways.
The basic concept of providing stormwater drainage in accordance with accepted practice is still considered sound and valid.
The storm of 26th January has demonstrated the need for some additional capital works beyond those currently in progress or planned. These works are in such areas at Mount Taylor, Farrer, Torrens and Mawson and have been identified as the result of the collaborative investigation by the construction and maintenance authorities.
These supplementary works will be constructed as soon as the detail investigation and design is completed.
The Commission sees considerable value in a further collaborative review of other areas of Canberra assuming a hypothetical storm situation of unusual characteristics similar to that which occurred in the Woden Valley.
Attached to the Department of the Interior report is a report by the Department of Works on the hydrology of the flood and the conclusions reached by the Department of Works were that:
Analyses of the hydrological data support a conclusion that the storm and flood in the Woden Valley on the night of the 26th January 1971 was an event which must be considered of rare occurrence with an average return period most probably in excess and even well in excess of 100 years for the Woden Valley in its past and present condition.
When compared with subsequent relatively large Hoods in the Woden Valley on the 5th February 1971 and the 10th February 1971, the Hood of the 26th January 1971 was more hazardous not only in its far greater peak flow rate but also in the rapidity of the rise rate of the Hood which caused areas to change from safe to unsafe within a relatively few minutes.
The Minister now refers through me to some points in the Coroner’s statement. The Coroner said:
The drainage system in the Woden Valley was designed to Hood from time to time, and water beyond the capacity of the drains was to be accommodated in the greenbelt and road systems adjacent to the drains. The Department of the Interior and Commissioner of Police were not advised by the National Capital Development Commission that the causeway at the Melrose Drive, Yamba Drive intersection was likely to flood, and that the adjacent roads would be subject to floodwaters from time to time; and it was contemplated by the National Capital Development Commission that the intersection and road system would be under the control of the police, or some authority, when danger to the public was imminent.
On this point, the police have the responsibility of dealing with any danger or danger area. They did so on the night of 26th January and they are highly commended for their efforts. The Coroner’s statement reflects the situation in quoting from the evidence of a senior member of the Police Force that it has always been the practice for members of the Police Force to make themselves aware of any situation likely to prejudice public safety and police are required to take such action as is necessary for the protection of life and property in such situations.
The Coroner in his statement said that the causeway at the Melrose Drive/ Yamba Drive intersection has Hooded to some degree up to 6 times a year since it was opened to the public in April 1967 but there was no evidence of the causeway, when Hooded, being controlled by police prior to 25th January 1971. The evidence at the Coroner’s inquest was based on Police Operations Room records checked back to the beginning of 1970. A check of earlier records discloses that police attended the intersection when it was under flood on 1 0th May 1968. The greatest depth of water was about 1 tool and there was little current. Traffic continued to cross the intersection under police direction. As far as can be ascertained, on no occasion prior to 26th January was the intersection rendered impassable to traffic by flood.
In the light of the absence of any previous experiences of such a severe and sudden flood, it does nol seem likely that prior formal advice would of itself have prevented the loss of life on the evening of 26th January. Indeed on all the evidence the flood’ water came down at a speed which no early warning system could conceivably have coped with - for the. first of 2 cars travelling together encountered a thin film of water covering the road while the second car stopped and in no time its occupants were in difficulties. However, close day to day working relationships on the part of all authorities are imperative. The Minister for the Interior looks to a thorough and necessary mutual understanding to minimise dangers to the public from any unforeseeable contingencies. In addition to the above working relationships, the Minister for the Interior has arranged that, when the National Capital
Development Commission has completed the construction of a project, it will in the future formally advise the Department of the Interior of any aspects of the project which could have special administrative significance.
Again, the Coroner recommended as follows:
If they have nol already Jone so, the Commissioner of Police and Department of Interior should establish immediately a system which will enable potential areas of danger in the Woden Valley to be brought under police control before danger to the public arises.
Under established practice, police are informed whenever the Bureau of Meteorology issues a road weather alert. Potential dangers are also reported from police patrols and by the public. Police operations and procedures are set out in the report by the Department of the Interior. However, I am pleased to report to the Senate that arrangements have now been made for the Bureau of Meteorology to advise the police if. serious thunderstorms are likely. Other improvements have also been made in the procedures for alerting emergency services.
For most occurrences these procedures will continue to ensure that potential areas of danger will be brought under police control before danger arises. For example, on a number of occasions apart from 26th January 1971 the Melrose Drive/Yamba Drive/Yarra Glen intersection has been flooded but there was sufficient time for the police to take control. I am also pleased to report that ways and means are being investigated of improving the established system so that even at the shortest notice police control could be available where needed. However it is unlikely to be practicable to assure a certainty of police reaction in time to avoid danger under every circumstance.
The Coroner also slated:
The principles adopted in the design of Melrose Drive, Yamba Drive. Yarra Glen as a junction in the flood plain of Yarralumla Creek was consistent with engineering practice in that it provides a conduit for normal dry weather flow and the floodway consists of both the pipe conduit and a substantia! greenbelt arcs and roads subject to flooding.
The National Capital Development Commission reports that the crossing was provided as an interim east-west connection across the Woden Valley to meet traffic demands. The crossing is not part of an expressway system but adjoins the end of the present expressway. The major traffic route system has now been determined and traffic build-up is making the construction of the planned interchange essential, and tenders are to be called in 1971-72.
The experience of 26th January has indicated the need for further works in connection with such matters as the catch drain around Mount Taylor; the underpass at Beasley Street near Lambrigg Street; and the drainage of water from the as yet undeveloped area of O’Malley. These works will proceed. The Institution of Engineers’ report ‘Australian Rainfall and Runoff’, is the standard reference for drainage design in Australia. It is accepted standard practice to use locally applicable rainfall recurrence rates in determining drainage capacity. I have now traversed the Coroner’s findings and the reports by the Department and National Capital Development Commission. There can be no doubt that the storm which caused the flood was exceptional and extreme. It was sudden in onset and produced torrential rain. Its severity was intensified because the storm remained more or less stationary for about an hour. From data collected, mean rainfall over one square mile of southern Woden Valley suburbs in approximately one hour was estimated to be 3.5 inches. About 45 minutes elapsed from the time when the rain first began to fall to the time when severe flooding occurred at the causeway. In such a situation nothing could be done to prevent the tragedies. Even those present at the scenes of the tragedies from the outset were unable to help the victims.
Now. I briefly summarise this statement as follows: Detailed investigations and reports by the Department of the Interior, the Department of Works and the National Capital Development Commission have been completed and are now made public. When the National Capital Development Commission has completed the construction of a project, it will in the future formally advise the Department of the Interior of any aspects of the project which could have special administrative significance. Arrangements have been made for the Bureau of Meteorology to advise the Police if serious thunderstorms are likely in the Australian Capital Territory. Other improvements have been made in the procedures for alerting emergency services. Although not as a result of the flood, the particular crossing of the Yarralumla Creek where 5 lives are known to have been lost - and probably the sixth - will be replaced by high level flood free interchange, construction of which is to commence next financial year. Once this work is completed this particular location should not be subject again to disasters of this kind. In the light of this tragic experience, other areas of Canberra which are or may be subject to flooding are being investigated to see whether safeguarding action or additional action is needed. Since the Woden Valley disasters, improvements in road warning arrangements as well as other warning systems and improvements in emergency procedures have been made. Lessons which are of wider application have been learned from this disaster.
However, no matter how effective these measures may be, there will remain an onus on the public to exercise great caution under extreme storms, bushfires or other natural hazards. Police, firemen and members of the public carried out a number of rescues. I draw particular attention to the conclusion reached in the report of the Department of the Interior that in effecting rescues these people exposed themselves to serious personal danger. They are to be commended for their efforts.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I believe it would be wrong on an occasion such as this if the Senate did not express its deep sympathy to the relatives of those young people who were drowned in such tragic circumstances on the’ night of 26th January 1971. The tragic circumstances on this night are indicative of what can happen when the elements take over. No matter how man tries to prevent accidents of this nature, nevertheless he is in the hands of the elements when flash floods occur such as the one on this occasion. I believe I would be expressing the thoughts of all honourable senators when I say how sorry I am that the tragedy occurred. We extend our sympathy to the relatives of the deceased.
However, I believe that some aspects of the disaster must give cause for some concern. In the statement presented by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) he refers to some points made in the Coroner’s statement. 1 believe it is worthy that 1 should repeat that section. It reads:
The drainage system in the Woden Valley was designed to flood from time lo time, and water beyond the capacity of the drains was lo be accommodated in the greenbelt and road systems adjacent to the drains. The Department of Interior and Commissioner of Police were not advised by the National Capital Development Commission that the causeway at the Melrose Drive, Yamba Drive intersection was likely to flood, and that Hit adpacent roads would be subject to floodwaters from time to time: and it was contemplated by the National Capital Development Commission that the intersection and road system would be under the control of the police, or some authority, when danger to the public was imminent.
I believe that the Coroner’s finding in that direction - that is, that there had been neglect in that authorities were not warned of dangerous areas in the national capital of Australia - is a condemnation of liaison that has existed between the National Capital Development Commission, the Government and the Police Department.
– Condemnation of the liaison or lack of liaison?
– Well, lack of liaison. I am not speaking in a political sense when I say that. This is not an occasion when one should go into political thoughts. But I believe that it is important that the Senate should note that there has been the insufficiency of detailed examination of dangerous areas in the Australian national capital. I deplore the fact that this had not been done earlier and so possibly - possibly, I say - prevent this catastrophe.
I also refer to the Minister’s statement where he refers to the recommendations made by the Coroner. The Coroner recommended:
If they have not already done so, the Commissioner of Police and Department of Interior should establish immediately a system which will enable potential areas of danger in the Woden Valley to be brought under police control before danger to the public arises.
I submit it is a little late to make that statement. Nevertheless, it may prevent similar tragedies in the future and I trust that the Coroner’s finding in that particular aspect will be brought to the attention of the Police Department. In addition, I further believe that the NCDC should be required to report on these aspects to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory so that we as the custodians of the rights of the people may be satisfied in that aspect and have an opportunity to express an opinion as to whether the NCDC has gone sufficiently far in alerting the Police of any dangerous points that may exist when disasters such as flood waters come upon us.
Mr Deputy President, 1 believe that one aspect of the Coroner’s statement is a little ambiguous. I refer to folio 280 of the findings where the Coroner says:
There is no evidence of any significant waves or walls of water, save that it is possible that a wave about 2 feet high above the general level of the floodwaters may have caused Margaret Smith to lose her grip on the rail, and there was evidence of a 4 foot wall of water striking a police motor vehicle in Yarra Glen south of the Carruthers Street overpass.
To my way of thinking, that is an unusual type of finding to pinpoint in evidence of this nature. He says there were no significant waves but yet later in the same paragraph he says there was evidence of a 4 foot wall of water striking a police motor vehicle. From our point of view, I believe this is unsatisfactory. I am sorry that we will not be able to have an opportunity perhaps to find an explanation Tor what I consider to be an unusual paragraph in a finding.
I close by repeating that J believe that all honourable senators would like to extend their deepest sympathy to the relatives of the deceased. T seek leave to continue my remarks on a subsequent occasion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is notice of motion No. 12 formal or informal?
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Trade Practices Act 1965-1969 to cover resale price maintenance.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The President has received a letter from Senator Greenwood requesting his discharge from attendance on the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
Thai Senator Greenwood be discharged from attendance on the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources.
– Yesterday 1 was under the impression that Senator Greenwood was being discharged from attendance on this Committee and also the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. I said yesterday that we had a high regard for the work which he had done with the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources, and that remark applied also to his work with the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, lt is a pity that he is being lost from those Committees. We hope that as a Minister he will do work which is as valuable to this country as the work which he has done on those 2 Committees as a private Government member of the Senate. 1 think that, perhaps we should evolve some rule to deal with the situation that we have at present so that, perhaps in a noncontentious way, committee reports could be finalised. lt seems unfortunate that when a person is appointed to the Ministry, especially at a critical stage of a committee’s deliberations when, after a long time, its report is being compiled, he has to leave the Committee. We hope that this does not unduly inconvenience the work of the Off-shore Petroleum Resources Committee. Neither 1 nor anyone else here would want to put any obstacle in the way of Senator Greenwood’s leaving the Committee, and I do not suggest that we should do so, but I suggest for the consideration of honourable senators that our present situation indicates that it is extremely important that reports of select committees be brought in as early as possible. In the natural course of events chairmen of committees tend to be appointed to the Ministry or leave the Senate. People die and there are all sorts of changes.
– Cheer up.
– Honourable senators demur on this, but I remind them that they have only to look at the record of the Senate to see that there have been a great number of changes. If one turns back the pages and looks at the position 10, 8, 5 or even fewer years ago one finds that the changes which have occurred here have been quite remarkable. We should try to see to it that committees report as quickly as possible, even if sometimes their reports fall a little short of perfection. There is a tendency to strive for perfection, but perhaps we would be much better off if the committees brought in interim reports. I do not say this by way of criticism of Senator Greenwood; he was merely Chairman of the Committee. I am indicating that it is unfortunate to lose him and 1 am pointing out what happens. No criticism of Senator Greenwood is intended. But we know that the loss of a member and particularly a chairman is a very great blow to the operation of any committee when it hits been going for so long and has arrived at the stage when the report is being compiled.
– It is the Prime Minister’s mistake for appointing him as a Minister.
– .1 do not suggest that it was a mistake, but I suggest that this points up what a number of us have felt - those who are serving on committees should have this in mind - that speed is extremely important. I know that the Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources did submit an interim report covering some aspects of the subject, but 1 should think that the efficiency of the Senate would be promoted if reports were made more regularly, even if they were on an interim basis. Then the loss which occurs in circumstances such as this might not be so great.
– Do you think your comments might be more appropriately made to those who suggest the terms of reference so that the ambit of the terms of reference could be a little more sensible?
– For once f am not really the target of this comment because in this case 1 did not suggest the terms of reference.
– I did.
– Yes, it was Senator Wright. I think I suggested one tiny amendment which, in the general picture, could not be alleged to be responsible for the long hearing.
– I thought the honourable senator might tie the comments which he made to a reference to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– Perhaps some of the references to the standing committees have been lengthy, but it is understood that that will be so. But even there, from time to time, it would be valuable if interim reports were made. My approach to the standing committees would be different from that which I think should be taken to the ad hoc select committees. In the case of the select committees it is especially important for speedy answers to be given. But having said all that, on behalf of the Opposition, and no doubt voicing the view of the whole Senate, 1 thank Senator Greenwood for the undoubtedly fine contribution that he has made over a goodly time to the work of that Committee and also to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. The Opposition, of course, agrees with the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson).
– ). have been a member of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources ever since it started. I wish I were Chairman of the Committee; it is the easiest way I know into the Ministry. We look on them as dickie birds. We have had 3 chairmen and we now have 3 Ministers.
– I object to that, MiDeputy President.
– I mean no disrespect, Senator. Senator Wright was our original Chairman and he finished up in the Ministry.
– Perhaps it is the most certain way, if not the easiest way.
– It is the easiest way. Senator Cotton, for whom I have great respect, finished up in the Ministry, and now in the Ministry we have Senator Greenwood who has been most invaluable to the Off-shore Petroleum Committee. I endorse Senator Murphy’s remarks about the terms of reference. Again with no dis respect, I say that Senator Wright gave us an impossible task.
– That will be debated at the appropriate time, T hope.
– I hope so too. In the period that I have been a member of. the Committee I have formed a special attachment to Senator Greenwood because of his able performance as chairman, his unselfish devotion to the Committee but more especially his unselfish giving of his legal knowledge to the Committee. T pay special tribute to him in that regard because Senator Greenwood, even though he knew that I wanted his legal knowledge to use against him, was always prepared to give it to me.
– I think it. would be wrong not to do so.
– The Senate will be the judge of that when the results of Senator Greenwood’s legal knowledge are presented to the Senate. This has been a long and a hard working committee. 1 know that certain dissatisfaction has been expressed within the Senate at the operations of the Committee. I remind the Senate that the Committee has had 2 part time officers. Mr Bradshaw, ‘ in conjunction with his duties to the Senate, has been secretary to the Committee. Mr Guy Smith, in conjunction with his duties to the Senate, has been assistant secretary to the Committee. We had one technical adviser, Mr Tony Barry of the Parliamentary Legislative Research Service, whom we released some time ago because he was required for that section. We have had the services of no other officers.
Senator Greenwood leaves the Committee not only as chairman but as legal adviser over a long period. 1 was disappointed when Senator Wright left the Committee although I do not begrudge him his promotion to the Ministry. He was the Committee’s legal adviser in the short period that he was a member of it. From that time Senator Greenwood became legal adviser to the Committee during Senator Cotton’s term as chairman and subsequently when he himself was chairman. He filled the dual role of chairman and legal adviser.
We are in the final stages of producing a report. In the production of that report Senator Greenwood has played a very big part. 1 have done a tremendous amount of work on the Committee but 1 have not done one-half of the work that Senator Greenwood has done. The report has been prepared in a legal format and I suggest, not at this stage of course but when a senator is appointed to replace Senator Greenwood, that a legal officer also be appointed.
– That is the intention. Senator Hannan will be nominated.
– Senator Hannan will be a member of the Committee. I wish him no discredit. I sat with him for i years as a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television which became known as the Vincent Committee. Senator Wright also was a member of that Committee. I do not wish to be interpreted as saying anything against Senator Hannan whom [ regard, from my experience on the Vincent Committee, as one of the best committee members in this place. The Committee comprises members other than Government members.
– Would hill-billy Webster help?
– 1 might have some words to say about hill-billy corner later. Senator Webster is a Government senator. I leave it at that. What I was trying to point out was that on our Committee we have Senator Gair and 3 Opposition senators. As 1 have said, after a very long time the Committee’s report is in the final stages of production but, because of Senator Greenwood’s exceptional knowledge of the law, it is drawn in a legal format. I do not criticise that but I point out that those who are not members of the Government will require advice to interpret some of the legal terms contained in the report.
– I do not follow what you mean when yon speak of those who are not members of the Government.
– 1 am directing attention to committee members who are not members of the Government. I refer to Senator Gair, Senator Keeffe, Senator O’Byrne and myself. Senator Byrne, as a member of the legal profession, would know the difference between a report drawn in a legal format and a report drawn in a lay format. Sena tor Greenwood, who as chairman of the Committee has the responsibility for preparing the report, has drawn it in a legal format. Therefore those of us on this side of the House who may hold views opposite to those held by Senator Greenwood and his colleagues on the Government side will require some interpretation of the legal format in which the report is drawn. For that reason, with the permission of my Party I shall propose at a later stage that the Committee be given additional assistance in this regard. I did not do any work in this chamber yesterday and 1 have done little today because 1 have been interested in another committee which has been given permission to meet while the Senate is sitting.
– Why not ask the Government to nominate another legal man from the Government side to take Senator Greenwood’s place?
– That is what the Government proposes. I have said already that I mean no disrespect to Senator Hannan. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has said that it is proposed to put Senator Hannan on the Committee. The Committee has been sitting for over 3 years. With all due respect to Senator Hannan, if he is appointed to it he will be a babe in the woods so far as the areas of conflict within the Committee are concerned. 1 am not being disrespectful to Senator Hannan. As a legal man, Senator Byrne would be in the same position.
– How would any legal man acting as an adviser to the Committee be in any different position?
– At least he would not have to attend to his senatorial work.
– He could read the transcript.
– At least he would be free to read the transcript of evidence relating to questions that senators might ask. I know that even in the most recent sitting of the Committee-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Cant, I- think you have expressed an opinion about a motion that you propose to move at another stage. Perhaps this would be the appropriate time to do so.
– Sir, with respect, Senator Cant did not say that. He has been talking about a legal representative, not a senator.
– I do not object to a legal representative from the Senate. What I am saying, Mr Deputy President, through you to the Leader of the Government, is that we have reached a stage in the preparation of our report where it is difficult for those with opposing views - you have served on committees and you know what opposing views’ means - to get legal interpretation of something drawn up in legal format. I will not go further.I will leave the matter until such time as an honourable senator is appointed. The Government will have to notify the Senate of the appointment of another senator to fill Senator Greenwood’s place on the Committee. At that stageI probably will speak again. I congratulate the three former chairmen of the Committee on their being appropriated, if I might put it that way, to the Ministry.
– You can put it that way.I am rather proud of the chairmen we have had. I sat for eight months with Senator Wright on another committee but his short term on the Off-shore Petroleum Resources Committee did not count for much because he was appointed to the Ministry at about the same time that he was appointed chairman. I know the value of his work. Senator Cotton was a very good chairman of the Committee. Now that Senator Greenwood has gone I feel that we have lost something. If the Senate wants an intelligent report, some assistance will have to be provided for the Committee.
– Mr Deputy President, in a very few wordsI wish to express my great pleasure at the warm tributes paid to the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources, Senator Greenwood. He has been superb as its chairman. I agree with the tributes paid to him by Senator Murphy and Senator Cant and wish him well in his new activities as Minister for Health. That is all I have to say about the matter before the Senate at the moment.
– Briefly. I wish to say that I warmly appreciate the remarks that have been made. In my experience they represent an unexpected occurrence in the Senate. The Senate Select Committee on off-shore Petroleum Resources is a very hard working committee. In my experience in the 3 years thatI was a member of it, every member contributed to its work and made it a working committee. I shall certainly miss the work of that committee.I appreciate the remarks made by honourable senators.
(4.51) - in reply - Mr Deputy President, I have to move 2 subsequent motions.I took on board what Senator Cant said but his remarks have nothing to do with these motions. If I understood him correctly, he believes there should be legal representation other than Senate representation provided for the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources. That suggestion does not require a motion in this Senate; it can be dealt with by the Committee. When the Committee members meet, including the new senator whom I will nominate, it is competent for the Committee to carry a motion to direct a request to the Presiding Officer for legal representation to assist it in completing its report. That is a simple matter. With great respect, it has nothing to do with the motion I moved and upon which we are now going to vote or the 2 subsequent motions I propose to move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That Senator Hannan be appointed to till the vacancy on the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources and that the Committee elect a Government member as chairman.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is it the wish of the Senate that the 2 parts of the motion be considered together? As there is no objection, that course will be followed.
– I do not wish to detain the Senate at this stage of the proceedings but earlier I was a little slow in rising and missed the opportunity to refer to the splendid work done by Senator Greenwood. I have had the opportunity of reading some of the Press reports about the work of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources. One cannot fail to be impressed by the precise and careful examination which the chairman and his Committee have made of the matters placed before them. I am not going to indicate the way I propose to vote on the motion moved by the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I appreciate the point raised by my friend Senator Cant, who indicated that the person to be appointed to the Committee has not had the benefit of listening to the evidence and of taking part in the preparation of the draft report. Without expressing a view one way or another, Mr Deputy President, I want to say that Senator Cant’s submissions have had at least a mild impression upon me personally and I must, of necessity, give them some consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30 March (vide page 625), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to increase the membership of the bench of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court by 1 judge. There is only 1 resident judge at the moment and the effect of the Bill will be to add another judge. It is understood that the newly appointed judge will not be primarily concerned with the judicial work of the Court but for the greater part of the time will be engaged on the work of a law reform commission for the Territory. From time to time he will assist with the judicial work of the court.
The Opposition supports the Bill but we are critical of some judicial aspects existing in the Australian Capital Territory. We do not think that this Bill will solve the problems that exist here. A lot more ought to be done. The state of the law in the ACT is disgraceful and has been declared to be so not only by judges from time to time, in a very polite way, but also by others. Sometimes judges have departed from politeness and have been very critical. I will not say who has been polite and who has not. Mr Justice Joske has criticised the state of the law in the Territory. Mr Justice Fox, the resident judge, also has been critical. In general the lawyers of the Territory, whether serving on the bench, as practitioners or as academics have expressed a very strong criticism of the backward state of the law in the ACT.
The law in the Territory is in a very unsatisfactory state. It has not been brought up to date and contains all sorts of absurd provisions, some of which are most unjust. For instance, the workers’ compensation law is a disgrace. So many anomalities in so many branches of the law have been pointed out by people experienced in it that it is difficult to believe that the situation could have continued for so long. The Government has said that it will do this and do that. It has said that it will institute law reform. There have been great problems and now its seems that a law reform commission is to be established. We welcome the move, much as we may criticise the neglect of the past. I do not think that even the Minister for Health (Senator Greenwood), who in this chamber represents the Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen), would venture to suggest that there has not been very serious neglect in the past. We hope that the situation will be repaired.
The Bill suggests that the judge to be appointed will work on the law reform commission to be established. That is an advance. We hope that the work of law reform in the Territory can be incorporated in similar work conducted on a national scale. The time has come for the establishment of a national law reform commission. Law reform bodies have been established in New South Wales, South Australia and other States. Some of them have a tendency to direct their attention first to laws which are not of much concern to most of the people. A similar position arises overseas where law reform bodies tackle first laws such as those relating to cattle trespass. The laws which concern the majority of the people are not always placed at the top of the law reform agenda.
These problems have to be tackled and it would probably be of advantage to everyone if an Australian law reform commission were established with representation of the Commonwealth and the States. It could examine many of the problems which occur in parallel fashion in the States and Commonwealth territories. Solutions could be worked out. Many of them ought to be almost self-evident. Law reform problems have been studied in other countries and some hard work has to be done here. Some speedy moves need to be made to uplift our laws into the 1970s, or at least into the 20th century. The necessary work has not been done and a national law reform commission is required. I think that the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has been a failure. Its existence has been a barrier to a more effective body being established to produce reforms in the law. We welcome the move to establish a law reform commission in the Territory and to appoint another judge, but it does not go far enough.
– Is there a law society here in Canberra?
– Yes, and also a bar association. There is an overlap between the 2 bodies so that some barristers belong to the law society. It covers both barristers and solicitors. It is a rather active law society. It has been critical of the state of the law in the ACT. Senator Gair would appreciate that much of the criticism has not been made on a party political basis. It has been made on the basis that on any man’s view the law should not be as it is and ought to be corrected. The anomalies have existed for too long and ought to be corrected. I have read what the former Attorney-General had to say about the newly appointed judge having something to do with judicial work, but working mainly on law reform. There has been a little seesawing about how much judicial work he will do and how much work he will do with the law reform commission. Another judge should be appointed to work on judicial matters in the ACT, as the ACT Supreme Court is deficient in judges. There is one resident judge.
A succession of judges has been appointed from the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Some very distinguished judges have done a very good job here, but for varying reasons they have been transferred to other judicial work. Mr Justice Gibbs who served on the Supreme Court Bench of the ACT has moved to the High Court. Another judge has gone to the Bankruptcy Court, while others are now engaged on work in the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The volume of judicial work is increasing in the Territory. It is also increasing in complexity. This is the national centre. For a variety of reasons a great deal of complicated law will be dealt with - law which involves more problems than those arising in other centres. I have in mind private international law and application of the law when differences exist between the Australian Capital Territory and State laws, and sometimes the laws of other countries. Great problems will surely arise and there is a scarcity of judges to deal with the judicial work. More than one resident judge is required in the ACT, as has been indicated by the resident judge himself. He has said that there are just not enough judges.
– Could you tell us how big is the backlog of cases?
– I understand that the previous Attorney-General said a few days ago that the backlag is not 12 months, as was contended, but S months. From the time that the parties lodge a claim with the court - the plaintiff files a claim and the defendant replies - and the lawyers have finished their paper warfare and have indicated their readiness to proceed, the delay is 8 months. So there is an 8-months delay simply because of a scarcity of judges - the appropriate legal machinery. That is just not good enough. It is just not right in a modern society. I will read to the honourable senator some remarks made on 17th March by the then Attorney-General when this Bill was being debated in the other place. Mr Hughes said:
I was going to say that when the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory referred to delays in the hearing of cases in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory he mentioned a delay, I think, of 1 year from the time of setting down a case. I inform the House that on the information available to me the delay is not of that order. I am told that at the moment it is of the order of 8 months. I do not accept this as being a satisfactory situation - far from it - but what I do say is that when the Government appoints an additional permanent judge pursuant to this Bill when it becomes an
Act, I expect that substantial inroads ought to be made into the period of delay and that when I have taken stock of the position I .shall give further and anxious consideration to the proposal which has been made, that the court should have yet another judge, namely, a third resident judge.
A little further discussion took place on the matter, and it was pretty apparent that both things could not be done. There is an overwhelming need for law reform. If the judge who is appointed is really to tackle this problem of law reform he should get down and do it. He cannot be diverted into judicial work. At the same time there is an overwhelming need for at least another judge, and he should simply be appointed. There should be a judge appointed to do the judicial work. If it is intended that we have a law reform commission, the fact that the man who is appointed to it happens to be a judge should not cause concern on the aspect of the judicial work. It is not enough to say that he will sort of be there and be able to do some of the work. Perhaps it is a very desirable situation that in an emergency the judge who is doing law reform work will be able to do judicial work. That will be fine when the emergency occurs. But that does not help in proceeding with the ordinary work of the court. We suggest, with respect, that the sensible thing to do is to bring in a Bill to appoint another judge to do the judicial work of the court.
There are other technical reasons why more judges should be appointed. If this were done we could have an appeal system within the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and cases would not have to go to the High Court of Australia. Litigants ought not to have to go to the highest court of this land, the High Court of Australia. That court ought not to be burdened with what might be relatively simple appeals from the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. As is the practice within the States, there ought to be provision for an internal appeal, say, from one judge to the other two judges, or three, as the number may soon become. But it is pretty evident that we need here in the Australian Capital Territory a proper judicial machine which is comparable to what has been found necessary elsewhere under the common law system in which we operate. We do not have it. This Bill does not provide for it.
However, the Bill proposes an advance on what we have. Therefore the Opposition agrees to the measure.
– in reply - I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) for his intimation that the Opposition does not oppose this measure. I also thank him for the constructiveness of his remarks. I think it is fair to say in terms of whether or not a further judge should be appointed following upon the appointment of a second judge to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, that there still remains the Industrial Court judges, each of whom, apart from the Chief Judge, holds a commission to sit on the Court of the Australian Capital Territory. I think it is proper to have regard to the fact that until late last year the existing system was adequate to enable the Court to cope with the work load to the general satisfaction of those who appeared before it. But it was towards the end of 1970, largely because of other commitments which Industrial Court judges held, that the difficulties which this Bill is designed to remedy first appeared.
I am told that the general pattern of sittings of the Court over the last year or two has been for 2 judges on the average to sit each week. Occasionally because of the unavailability of one judge there would be only one judge sitting. On other occasions, because of pressures in a particular period, there would be 3 judges sitting. On an average 2 judges are sitting at one time. Accordingly the Government has introduced this measure with a view to making provision for the appointment of a second judge. I am assured that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr N. H. Bowen) has in mind the possible need in the future for the appointment of a third judge who would not have conflicting commitments, as do Industrial Court judges with the demands of their other judicial duties. I think that the Attorney-General has in mind that action will be taken if it is necessitated. But at the present time that action does not appear to be necessary.
I think the only other point to which I would refer is in regard to questions of law reform. Strictly these are not matters which are covered by this Bill, but the Attorney-General indicated that the greater part of the time of the new judge to be appointed would be taken up with law reform matters and that on other occasions, to help out from time to time, he would sit as a judge of the Court. Senator Murphy suggested that there was a need for this law reform commission to be active. I do not think that the lawyers in the Parliament would disagree. However, the point has been made that the commission is now in the process of being established. It is not always an easy task to formulate precisely what shall be the work of the commission, the mode of operation having regard to a government which must have the responsibility for what are distinctively policy matters, and the way in which the commission shall work under the chairmanship of a judge.
Senator Murphy suggested that we may have reached the stage where there is a need for a national law reform commission, one which is established by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States. I do not wish to canvass that possibility, except to say that law reform commissions of one sort and another have been established in several States and one of the things to be avoided is a duplication of effort. In addition, it must be recognised that the more work which is done by the State law reform bodies - a considerable amount of work has been done in several States in recent years - the less need there is for what is really lawyers law reform. The areas into which law reform commissions may well embark once that backlog has been taken up are areas of policy and that is a constant source of conflict between governments, which regard policy as their prerogative, and law reformers, who regard the issue as one not of policy but simply of reform. However, I thank the Opposition for its indication that this Bill will not be opposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 March (vide page 629), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill proposes to amend the
Customs Act 1901-1968 in relation to the manner of payments of customs duties and in relation to refunds, rebates or remissions of those duties. Clause 3 of the Bill contains a proposal to repeal section 137 of the Act which requires that payments of duties be made in Australian currency. The original provision was made in 1901. This provision that payments of duties be made in Australian or British currency has been perpetuated through the years. The Department of Customs and Excise, as a result of a tidying up many sections of the Customs Act in relation to cheques and other currency which is legal tender, finds that this provision should be repealed. The provision has hampered the conduct of customs business by raising a legal barrier against such things as guaranteed cheques, foreign currency and other bank guarantees although such methods of payment were known to be acceptable everywhere else.
Existing sections 163, 164 and 164a of the Customs Act provide authority for granting refunds, rebates or remissions of duty in prescribed circumstances and subject to prescribed conditions and requirements. The absence of specific authority in section 163 to permit the prescribing of selective requirements for particular goods or for particular classes of goods gives rise to administrative difficulties as ‘commodity control’ procedures are progressively introduced by the Department of Customs and Excise. It will be recalled that, with regard to the handling of the importation of petroluem products, ths new concept of commodity control’ brought about a lot of economies and a speeding up of procedures which, in turn, required the introduction of this provision which gives the Department the right to carry out selective and random checks of companies’ commercial documentation, reinforced by occasional or regular checks. ‘Commodity control’ has streamlined the procedure in the Department of Customs and Excise. With the authority for the adoption of progressive procedures and practices, it is necessary to introduce provisions for refunds. To do this, the Department needs flexibility. These amendments provide this flexibility. So we will see now the development of a practice which will give to the Department of Customs and Excise specific authority for the granting of refunds, rebates or remissions of duty and also a practice by which the Customs Regulations may prescribe differing conditions and requirements to apply to different goods or classes of goods.
The Opposition does not oppose the measure. We believe that, as the technique of handling imports that are liable to the imposition of customs duties improves, the smoother the operation is made the better it is for all concerned. Therefore, we believe that we should not take up any more time of the Senate except to say that the amendments are desirable ones and ones which are well overdue. They will provide for the acceptance of currencies other than Australian or British currencies for the payment of duties due to the Treasury through customs. Therefore, we do not oppose the measure.
– in reply - I note that the Australian Labor Party does not oppose the measure. I think that the second reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), as delivered in this chamber by me, and the additional comments made by Senator O’Byrne on behalf of the Labor Party set out the details of this measure, which is fundamentally a machinery measure to provide authority for the granting of refunds, rebates or remissions and to adjust the requirement that duties be paid in Australian currency. The amendments are sensible ones. They bring the Act up to date. I consider that they are wise amendments. I thank the Senate for its agreement to the Bill, implicit in the statement that the Labor Party does not oppose the measure. Accordingly I suggest that the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 March (vide page 631), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is not one of any great moment, but nevertheless it is important to a fairly restricted number of people in the community. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the Bill. I shall be very brief in my remarks on the Bill. I dare say that there has been a noticeable change in the attitude of young people towards naval service. These are the matter with which the Bill deals specifically. Today there is not the same attraction for young men to seek service in the Royal Australian Navy as there was 20 years or so ago. I think one of the reasons for this has been the greater competition for young people in other fields of interest and consequently there has not been the number of young men coming forth who have been prepared to accept naval careers.
Nevertheless the general purpose of the Bill is to streamline the manner in which young men are trained for naval service. Generally I think the provisions have been fairly well thought through. One point I make in mentioning the general position of the Navy at the present time is that I think to some degree the Government could promote the Service more effectively than it does. Today young men are not especially militarily minded. Those who would aspire to a military career in any capacity are not great in number and, consequently, if they are to be brought to a stage where they are interested enough to become members of any of the armed forces then certainly the Navy must be given greater promotion than it has been given in the past. I feel it is necessary that some brief reference should be made to the role of the Navy League of Australia. It has done an excellent job over the years for those people who have been interested in naval matters. It has also helped greatly in the training of young men who have been interested in naval affairs.
The purpose of the Bill is to co-ordinate more effectively the various means by which young men have been trained for naval careers. I think it is important that when we talk about people who are beginning a career in a particular branch of the Services we ought to think of some of the failings which occur for men who adopt these careers on a full time basis. Today there are many facets of naval service and conditions to which I have referred on other occasions and which it is perhaps not appropriate to refer to now. Suffice it to say that these facets ought to be looked at more thoroughly. Some are matters which will deter naval men from continuing in the Service and making a career of it. If young men who are training as naval cadets become aware of the shortcomings of the conditions which exist then obviously this deters them from entering the Navy in a permanent capacity. I do not think I need say any more on behalf of the Opposition. Basically we agree with the provisions of the Bill. We feel that it will be helpful in the general training of cadets in Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth/ industry research scheme for the Australian dried fruit industry. Funds will be raised by means of a levy on dried fruits and the Commonwealth will provide matching contributions on a dollar for dollar basis to meet expenditure on approved research projects. It is the established policy of the Government to encourage and foster the development of schemes of this nature in which the industry concerned will contribute funds for research into problems affecting the industry. The dried fruits industry will be the eighth primary industry to finance research into its own problems. Similar schemes are already operating successfully for the wool, wheat, meat, dairy products, tobacco, eggs and chicken meat industries.
Dried fruit production is of considerable economic importance to the rural communities where these fruits are grown and exports of dried fruits contribute significantly to our export earnings. In common with other primary industries, dried druit producers are faced with rising costs, increasing competition in world markets and more stringent standards imposed by importing countries. The industry has recognised that additional research into problems associated with the production, processing and packaging of dried fruits is needed to enable the industry to face these challenges and to maintain stability. In particular the industry has stressed the need for investigations on the processing side. The Australian Dried Fruits Association requested the Government to introduce a legislative research scheme for dried fruits. The Australian Dried Fruits Association is representative of all sectors of the dried fruits industry in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It is proposed that the research scheme will embrace dried vine fruits - currants, sultanas and raisins - and dried tree fruits, namely, apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines and prunes. There is a small production of dried apples in Tasmania but it is not proposed to incorporate dried apples in the scheme at this juncture. The proposed research scheme will not apply to the wine and fresh grapes section of the vine fruits industry although, of course, research or production aspects could be of benefit to those sections of the industry.
The Government is willing to participate with the dried fruits industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The appropriate State Ministers have been informed about the proposal and have endorsed it. The Bill will establish a Dried Fruits Research Trust Account and provides for the appointed of a Dried Fruits Research Committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from the Account. The Bill sets out the purposes for which expenditure from the Account may be approved. For a number of years the Commonwealth has joined with the industry in financing individual dried fruits research projects on an ad hoc basis. It is proposed that these research projects be brought within the ambit of the new legislative scheme. The Australian Dried Fruits Association and the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board have on hand funds derived from the industry to finance these projects. It is proposed that when these funds are paid into the Dried Fruits
Research Trust Account they will be eligible for matching Commonwealth subventions when expended on approved research. The funds provided by the industry and the Commonwealth will be used only for additional research. Excellent research work is already being undertaken by State Departments of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and it is not the intention to relieve the States or the CSIRO from their responsibilities to continue their normal investigational activities into the problems of the dried fruit industry.
The Research Committee will comprise 4 representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, 2 representatives of packers of dried fruits, 3 representatives of the Australian Agricultural Council and one representative each of CSIRO and the Department of Primary Industry. This membership will constitute a majority of industry representatives. This was requested by the industry. It is consistent with the situation in most of the other legislative research committees. Because the Committee will be responsible for recommending research concerning a wide range of dried fruits it is essential that the industry members of the Committee be chosen with care to ensure adequate representation of all sections of the industry. The Australian Dried Fruits Association will exercise this care in nominating its 4 representatives for appointment to the Committee. There is no single organisation of packers of dried fruits but all except 3 or 4 are closely associated with the Australian Dried Fruits Association. The ADFA will arrange in consultation with the various packers’ associations for the nomination of 2 packer representatives knowledgeable in dried tree fruits as well as dried vine fruits.
The main function of the Research Committee will be to consider proposals for research and to formulate recommendations regarding expenditure on a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme of research for the dried fruits industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. Moneys from the Trust Account are to be used for scientific, economic or technical research of benefit to the dried fruits industry and for such other purposes as are set out in the Bill. These purposes accord with similar provisions in other research legislation. In addition, the Research Committee will recommend on the operative rates of levy on dried fruits to be prescribed from time to time. In making such recommendations the Committee will consult as necessary with the Australian Dried Fruits Association. In bringing forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the Senate the dried fruits industry has demonstrated the same spirit of self-help which is the feature of other joint Commonwealthindustry research schemes. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the imposition of a levy on dried fruits. Amounts equivalent to levy collections will be credited to the Dried Fruits Research Trust Account and be used to finance the dried fruits research scheme which I outlined in my second reading speech on the Dried Fruits Research Bill 1971. The legislation provides that the rate of levy must not exceed $1 per ton of currants, sultanas and raisins and $5 per ton on dried apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines and prunes. The operative rates of levy to be imposed will be prescribed by regulation. The levy will be imposed on the net sweat box weight of all dried fruits of these kinds delivered to packing houses after the commencement of the Act. It is proposed that the initial operative rate of levy in respect of currants, sultanas and raisins will be 50c per ton; in respect of dried tree fruits operative rates of levy relating broadly to the respective sale value of each kind of fruit will be prescribed.
In establishing the actual rates of levy the recommendations of the Dried Fruits
Research Committee are to be sought. Dried fruits are delivered by growers to packing houses for further processing, grading and packing. The Australian Dried Fruits Association has recommended and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has accepted that the levy be payable by the proprietor of the packing house to which dried fruits are delivered. The amount of the levy will be recoverable from growers’ returns. On average levels of production the levy on currants, sultanas and raisins is expected to raise some $45,000 annually from the industry. Levies on dried tree fruits are expected to yield some$15,000 per annum. These amounts together with matching funds from the Commonwealth should provide approximately $120,000 annually to finance research projects of benefit to the dried fruits industry. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy on dried fruits imposed by the Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971. The Bill provides for the Act to become operative on the date of commencement of that Levy
Act and its provisions apply to all dried fruits delivered to packing houses in the 1971 season. It is the intention that all dried fruit packing houses, and there are only some 40-odd of them, will be registered with the Department of Primary Industry for the purposes of this legislation. The packing houses are known and each will be written to regarding the requirements of registration. Regulations will be made prescribing the manner of payment of levy, the records to be kept by packers, the form of returns to be provided by packers and such other matters as are conveniently prescribed by regulation to give effect to the Bill.
This Bill should be read as one with the Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971. In some previous Bills dealing with the collection of levies, certain questions concerning law and justice have arisen in Parliament when the Bills were debated. These questions related to prosecutions and the collection of evidence. The present Bill has been modified compared to similar earlier Bills to take account of the views expressed on these questions. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 30 March (vide page 628), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 8.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 March 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710331_senate_27_s47/>.