27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move that leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Air Navigation Act 1920-1966.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform the Parliament whether copies of rules and regulations covering the management and use of Commonwealth hostels are classified documents? If the reply is in the negative, will the Minister advise where a member of Parliament can obtain a copy of such rules and regulations?
– I do not think I would be expected to be able to give the answer to that question immediately. I take the inquiry from the honourable senator and I will find out whether the rules and regulations he requests are available. If so, I will get copies for him.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service consider any amendments necessary to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, or to any other appropriate Act, and also consider any other reasonable means by which the blockade of Tasmania and the serious damage done to Australian shipping can be brought to an end and, if possible, a recurrence prevented? Will the honourable gentleman make strong recommendations, if he has not already done so, to his colleagues in the Ministry regarding this onslaught on people in no way responsible for the dispute by men who are already overpaid?
– The honourable senator can be assured that during the currency of the dispute, both at the instance of my colleagues in this chamber and on my own initiative, I have been in constant consultation with the Minister who has the principal responsibility for the Labour and
National Service portfolio and the administration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I advise the Senate that the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Shipping and Transport have been giving constant attention to the matter; but of course the processes that are laid down by law have been operating and it is generally inexpedient for political interference to occur while those processes are in action. According to a newspaper report only yesterday Mr Justice Franki concluded hearing an application for a certificate which will enable the matter to be referred to the Commonwealth Industrial Court for the imposition of sanctions. It will be understood also that representations have been made by the Tasmanian Government to the Prime Minister with regard to his acceptance of a deputation from Tasmania. That is scheduled for Monday next. 1 realise the heavy imposition that is imposed - I would have thought for most uneconomic reasons, indeed without reason at all - upon the trade of Australia and particularly the trade of Tasmania. Any alternative that could be thought up would have consideration but we have relied upon arbitration processes. It is only to be hoped that they will reach a solution.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General examine the legal powers of the Government in regard to company law to see what protection small stockholders have from runaway boards of directors like that of Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (Aust.) Ltd which changed the venue of its annual meeting by 600 miles yesterday? If this practice is not curbed it could result in the next meeting being held in Alice Springs.
– I have read the Press report of the matter to which the honourable senator has referred. In the first place these matters are essentially for the articles of association of the companies concerned. To the extent that those articles may be inadequate it is a matter for the relevant law of the State or Territory in which the company is incorporated. Obviously most companies in Australia are incorporated in the States and it is entirely a matter of State law. To the extent that there is a uniform Companies Act whereby the States and Territories endeavour to enact uniform laws there is a Commonwealth interest. I shall convey the interest of the honourable senator to the AttorneyGeneral.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that a publication known as Polish Weekly’ which is edited in Melbourne has served Australian citizens of Polish origin for 20 years and that the publication has its own editorial policy and carries advertising? Is it a fact that the agencies Alma, Contal and Odra in Melbourne; Delta in Sydney; Globus in Adelaide; Echo in Perth and Maria Sulima in Brisbane are representatives of the Polish banking institution PKO which serves Polish migrants throughout Australia in sending food parcels or money to their relatives in Poland? Does the Minister know that ‘Polish Weekly’ has on occasion published material critical of the Polish Government and that the said agencies regularly advertise in the said journal? Is it a fact that subsequent to such publication the Polish Consul-General in Sydney on 28th February 1971 sent an official letter to the said agencies ordering them to cancel all their advertising in the ‘Polish Weekly’ at once under threat of losing their licence to deal with PKO? Will the Minister or the Government indicate to the Polish Consul-General, as diplomatically as may be required, that this type of totalitarian economic blackmail is out of place in a free country and suggest that he withdraw the threat?
-I would not use expressions such as the honourable senator has used. I rely upon newspapers for information with regard to cancellation of the right to advertise. That matter is entirely between the Polish Consul-General and the newspaper concerned. Neither the Government nor the Department of Foreign Affairs would wish to be involved in it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Is it a fact that a legal case on the patent rights of the process of xeroxing is now proceeding in Japan, with our Department of Supply as a party to the proceedings? Is it cor rect that a decision against the Department could result in a loss to Australia of up to $10m a year from the patent rights to the process of colour xeroxing? Will the Minister make a detailed statement about this case which involves the rights to one of Australia’s genuine technological advances?
– Is this case currently before the courts?
– Yes, it is. I understand it to be a proceeding in Japan concerning patent rights. I am not asking the Minister to make a decision on the merits of it or to enter into the question of what the law is on the matter.
– I was hoping that you would not venture into that.
-I am not asking him to do that; I am asking for a statement on what is involved and the implications of the matter which, I submit with respect, are questions properly to be dealt with in this chamber.
– The question concerns a legal matter. I would have to give consideration to the form in which some reply would be given to Senator Murphy. As you have indicated, Mr President, and as Senator Murphy appreciates, I would have to be very careful in the way I gave the answer. As I understand the question, Senator Murphy is really asking for the historical background and possible implications. In going into the implications, one would need to be very careful not to cut across a matter which might be before the court. However, I will refer the question to my Department at the highest level and come back with some communication, perhaps first to Senator Murphy, and then, if it is appropriate, to the Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Treasurer’s attention been directed to comments by a number of municipal officers and councillors in Victoria and in other States in which criticism has been made of the fact that a deduction for income tax exists for those land improvers who clear land and undergrowth in watershed areas and water catchment areas to the disadvantage of the community generally? Is the Minister aware that such clearing of land leads not only to the discoloration of water in reservoirs but also to erosion and siltation of the reservoirs and off-take weirs and the loss of water from the soil by evaporation and hence the early drying of natural springs? Will the Treasurer give this problem consideration, and, if considered proper and practical, withdraw the benefits by way of allowable income tax deductions for those costs incurred in clearing land in such areas declared by local government authorities?
– The honourable senator poses a very complex question. I have some knowledge of the implications of it from my association with local government in relation to the side effects of some procedures that are carried out in good faith or of intervention by local authority. Clearly it is a question that the Treasurer and the Treasury would need to look at in great depth, and I will refer the question to them.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he is aware that some general medical practitioners in New South Wales are issuing circular letters to at least some of their patients in the following terms:
We are distressed to inform you that our practice will be unable to continue calling onyou at your home after 1st May 1971.
As you realise, there is an increasing demand for service in the area and there is an increasing problem with traffic, so that we have reluctantly decided on this course of action.
As you have been a long-standing patient of our practice we assure you that you are most welcome to come to our rooms or ring us for a letter of referral to a local doctor.
Will the Minister agree that such action on the part of some medical practitioners is certainly not in the best interests of the health of the Australian community, especially those people who are too ill to get out of bed to attend the doctor’s surgery? Will he take all action possible to maintain the principle that if a person is too sick to attend a doctor’s surgery that person is entitled to receive a home visit from a general medical practitioner?
-I have not seen or been made aware of the facts in the letter to which the honourable senator referred. The honourable senator has asked me to express an opinion. I do deplore the action of doctors who undertake such a course where, but for traffic and pressures upon them, they would perform what has been traditionally the role of a doctor, namely, to render succour to those who are in need and require medical services. Having said that, I do feel that there is a limit to what can be done by the Commonwealth Government in this area. I can express the fact that I do deplore such a practice, but the provision of medical services within a State is essentially a matter for the government of that State. If an area is denied medical services or if people in an area find it difficult to obtain medical services it is a matter for the Minister for Health in that State. The role of the Commonwealth is to facilitate the claims of those patients who want medical services and have to pay for them by providing for them the opportunity to insure in a medical benefits scheme and, for pensioners, the providing of a pensioner medical service. These are the areas in which the Commonwealth is concerned. The particular matters raised by the honourable senator are matters strictly for the State governments.
– I think the honourable senator will appreciate that I only represent in this chamber the Minister for the Navy and, as his questions related to policy, I would have to convey them to the Minister for the Navy for his reply.
– I wish to ask a question which may be answered by either the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I ask: Under what circumstances was a Russian doctor who, with a companion, sought asylum in Australia recently returned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Were intimidatory tactics used by Soviet diplomatic representatives against the persons who were harbouring him? Was he induced to return by threats that his family would bc dealt with?
– I would ask the honourable senator to place that question on the notice paper so that I can ensure that the response to it will be completely accurate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Taking into account the fact that the cost of building the Dartmouth Dam will be much higher now than it was when the project was originally proposed, due to the attitude and delay caused by Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, I ask: Will the Minister inform the Senate of the current situation and when construction of the Dartmouth Dam is likely to commence?
– I have some information on this matter which relates in essence to an answer to a question given in the House of Representatives on 21st April by the Minister for National Development. He said:
Some progress is being made in the discussions but no progress ls being made in the construction of the dam. Last week at the meeting of the Australian Water Resources Council in Canberra we took the opportunity of discussing the matter informally with the Ministers concerned and it was indicated by the governments of New South Wales and Victoria that their stand was the same as they had stated previously. I indicated -
That is, the Minister for National Development indicated - on behalf of the Commonwealth that we believe that the original agreement that had been signed and ratified by 3 parliaments, and had been signed by the previous Parliament in South Australia, but not ratified by the new Parliament, should proceed. I understand this information has been conveyed by the South Australian Minister to his
Premier and to his Government and we expect that there will in the near future be some further correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia, and between the Premiers of South Australia. Victoria and New South Wales, setting out exactly the position of all the governments concerned. It will then be up to South Australia to make up its mind on whether it wishes the work to proceed at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It refers to what the Minister has described as Qantas Airways Ltd being in a potential loss situation. Is it a fact that during the last 12 months more than 300 dry or wet charters, associated mainly with the migration programme, have been arranged by Qantas with other airlines? Is it a fact also that these airlines, on the return flights, compete with Qantas? In view of the financial situation of Qantas, of which the Minister is aware, have any instructions been issued to Qantas or has it arranged to cancel these charter flights, or will the Minister consider with Qantas the transfer of any such traffic to Qantas?
– It is correct that in order to lift an increasing number of migrants to Australia, Qantas Airways Ltd, did engage in the wet charter operation and that in the process, at the point of time when it had these people to carry, it increased its revenue accordingly. It is equally correct to say that from the moment it saw its general growth beginning to downturn a little on its expectations it took steps to cancel any such charter operations and to fly passengers totally in its own aircraft.
– Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise what action has been taken or is to be taken by the Government to give effect to the amendment which I moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party to the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill on 16th March 1971, approximately 6 weeks ago, which in effect stated that the Senate is of the opinion that the assistance offered is inadequate and should form part of a larger scheme to deal with national disasters and that, accordingly, a joint select committee pf the Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the practicability of the establishment of a national disaster organisation? The amendment was carried by the Senate by 28 votes to 24.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt is true, as the honourable senator said, that the Senate carried an amendment which expressed to the Government a view about the matter. I will ascertain from the relevant Minister what regard he will give to the amendment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It refers to the proposed plan for establishing what are described as industrial zones adjacent to the Adelaide Airport and about which, according to Press reports, the suburban West Torrens Council has raised objections. I ask the. Minister whether he can give me any information on this matter and whether he is aware of the long range effect that the introduction of an industrial area into a well established residential area will have. Will he advise further whether the suggestion that jumbo jet aircraft might use the Parafield aerodrome will receive consideration?
– I will take the various elements of the question . in the order of my remembrance. Nobody has put a suggestion to me that the 747 jumbo jets should use the Parafield aerodrome. I imagine that the use of ‘ this aerodrome would be bound up entirely with the number of people to be lifted and set down and with the future patterns of traffic. I cannot go beyond that, but I shall ascertain whether anybody else has any ideas on the matter. Yesterday Senator Cavanagh asked me a question which had some relation to this general matter. I said that I would be looking for information. At present I am doing that. I am calling for a report.
I make the general observation that it is true of Adelaide, as it is’ true of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and any other principal city with a large airport very close to the centre of the city, that the Dept of Civil Aviation is most anxious to ensure that people who live in the area of the airport in future are not inconvenienced. What we do is to make available information at the best level that we have, with the qualification that it is the present state of our understanding of what could be the future pattern of aircraft noise around the airport. We do that so that State, Governments and local municipalities can have information about the future development of the noise problem. We do not want to be placed in the situation in years to come that because of a failure on our part to make information available to those conducting land zoning activities and those authorities which control building outside airport boundaries, people who will be living in those areas will be at a disadvantage. I imagine that this matter is bound up with that problem. I say tq Senator Davidson what I said to Senator Cavanagh: I will call for a report on this matter and get the information to both of them as soon as I can.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. By way of preface I refer to the mass desertions from Greek vessels in Australian waters, ah example being the 23 Filipino seamen seeking repatriation to Manila from a Greek vessel at present berthed in Port Kembla. I ask the Minister: What procedure is followed if such desertions or walkoff threats are implemented? What would be the position in such cases if Australia joined progressive nations in signing the Refugee Seamen’s Convention, and does the Government contemplate such action?
– I am aware that there have been desertions from Greek ships in recent times and it would appear that such desertions are occurring quite frequently. The major deterrent available to the Minister for Immigration is deportation of deserters, if they can be found. But it would seem inaccurate, in the light of the question asked by the honourable senator, to regard claims by Filipino seamen for repatriation as cases of desertion from a particular ship. I understand that if seamen leave their ships but do not conceal their whereabouts and the ships are still in port, the master and the shipping company can take action under the shipping legislation administered by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The situation of these Filipino seamen does not seem, prima facie, to have any relationship to the Refugee Seamen’s Convention, and the Department of Immigration has not been involved in this matter.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the everincreasing cost of sustaining local government services in both metropolitan and rural areas? Was the Minister’s attention drawn to a suggestion made to a board of inquiry into local government finance in Victoria that municipal rates are likely to double by the end of this decade? Does the Federal Government intend to take early action to alleviate such a situation? Will the Treasurer give urgent consideration to a suggestion made, I think, by every local government authority in Australia, that such authorities be relieved of the impost of payroll tax? Has this suggestion sufficient appeal to the Federal Government that it might introduce this relief in the 1971 Budget?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI do not think there isany doubt in the world that local government authorities have been seriously affected by recent increases in the cost of local government affairs. The question is directed to the Treasurer and invites a decision or a comment on a matter of policy relating to the removal of the imposition of payroll tax on local government authorities. This is not a new thought. It has been projected from local government authorities for a long time. Nevertheless the question is directed to the Treasurer. It is a matter of policy and therefore I shall refer the question to him.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDMy question to the Minister for Health is supplementary to the question I asked him earlier. In view of the Minister’s answer to me this morning, will he agree that if the notice to which I alluded in my earlier question is being directed also to some pensioners receiving treatment under the pensioner medical scheme administered by his Department, then the matter complained of by me certainly would be one for consideration by the Commonwealth as well as by the State? If so, will the Minister investigate the matter raised by me to ensure that pensioners who are entitled to treatment under the pensioner medical scheme are entitled to receive also home visitations from a general medical practitioner of their own choice?
– I would quite agree with the honourable senator that if it appeared to me that pensioners were being denied medical service by doctors who had agreed with the Commonwealth to be members of the pensioner medical service it would be a matter which would claim my urgent attention. I am unable to say, in the light of the way that the honourable senator has put his question, whether or not this is a fact. However, if he provides me with details of pensioners who have been denied medical attention by doctors who have agreed under the pensioner medical service agreement to provide them with attention I shall certainly investigate the matter.
– In addressing a question to the Leader of the Government I remind him that 4 weeks ago on 1st April, following questions by myself and Senator McManus on the extremely high interest rates in Australia, I asked him whether he would ask the Treasurer to bring down a ministerial statement in the form of a White Paper dealing specifically and fully with the question of the high interest rates in Australia, indicating what are the supposed advantages and the disadvantages, and dealing- especially with a comparison with interest rates elsewhere, the inflow of moneys to Australia, how these are affecting the cost of living in Australia and how it is that the Government contends that those who are bearing the brunt of these interest rates are somehow deriving advantage from them. I now ask the Minister: Whatwere the results of his inquiry? Has the Treasurer indicated whether he is prepared to bring down a White Paper?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI recall the question quite well. Whenever a question is asked or a request is made in the Senate, the question or request is directed through the normal procedures to the appropriate Minister. I shall have to seek information from the Treasurer as to what his views are on the request made by
Senator Murphy. When I have that information I shall make it available to the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government. Is it a fact that Estimates Committee D was scheduled to meet in committee room L58 at 5.30 p.m. on 28th April 1971? Is it a fact that the Senate had earlier that day agreed to a motion that Estimates committees be permitted to meet during the meeting time of the Senate? Isit also a fact that Committee D was unable to conduct any business because members of the Government parties who had voted in support of the motion failed to attend and boycotted the meeting?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI can ony say yes to a couple of the questions asked by the honourable senator, but as to the other aspects raised by him I shall have to seek information. When I have that information I shall no doubt be able to respond to his question. The honourable senator used the word ‘boycotted’. That is a word that does not come into the considerations of senators on this side of the chamber.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. In view of the importance attached by the Minister to the proposal for general practitioners to increase their fees by 15 per cent, with its consequent effect not only on the cost to patients but also on the health insurance bodies and the Government health scheme, will the Minister, contemporaneously, have an inquiry made into chemists’ fees and prices which, without any publicity or attention by the Minister, have increased far above the percentage increase proposed by general medical practitioners?
– I shall investigate the matters which have been suggested to me by Senator O’Byrne. I can only say, however, having regard to the prefatory remarks with which he addressed himself to the point of his question, that increases in doctors’ fees and possible increases in chemists’ charges represent one of the concomitants of an inflationary situation in a country and that what the Government is concerned to do is to impart, as far and as extensively as possible, a sense of responsibility that claims for increased remuneration - whether they be in the form of increased fees, increased wages, increased charges or increased prices - threaten the security of everybody in the community and when they occur they are to be regretted. I certainly will look at the question asked by the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs aware that a CommonwealthStates Aboriginal affairs conference was held at Cairns last week and that all sessions of the conference were conducted incamera? Will the Minister advise whether it is possible for such conferences to be held in public in future and whether representation at the conferences can be widened to include delegates from Aboriginal and islander organisations who could act in the capacity of advisers?
– I shall convey the tenor of what the honourable senator has asked to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. But it should be recognised that when conferences of this character, in which representatives of the Commonwealth Government and representatives of the State governments participate, take place, it is a matter for their decision, taken at the meeting, as to whether those conferences shall be held in camera.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDHas the Minister for Health seen a report that the Government will endeavour to persuade doctors to cut their proposed fee increase from 15 per cent to 10 per cent? Is this report correct? If the Government intends to agree to any increase in medical fees which is properly and fairly based on increased costs, will the Minister request the Government to ensure that there is a comparable increase in both Commonwealth and fund refunds so that the burden of any increase will not fall heavily on the shoulders of those who are least able to meet the increase, namely, working men with family responsibilities?
– I have seen the Press report to which the honourable senator has referred, but it is essentially a speculative report. I consider it a proper practice for me to adopt that I do not comment on the accuracy or otherwise of what is speculated, because to do so would encourage countless speculations, countless questions and a tremendous degree of conjecture. I certainly am aware of the general issues to which the honourable senator has referred. I have recently had consultations with the Federal Executive of the Australian Medical Association, and I hope in due course to be able to make a statement to the Senate on what the Government proposes in this whole area.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry conveyed to the appropriate Minister the continuing concern of the Senate regarding the plight df growers of. pears in the Goulburn Valley area of Victoria who are unable to have their fruit processed and so have left it to rot in their orchards? Does the Minister agree that so slow has been action by government that once again in this country we nave witnessed a disastrous loss of food by pure waste? Can the Minister confirm that some decisive meeting on this matter is proposed for tomorrow?
– I understand that this afternoon Mr Cope, the General Manager of the Northern Victoria Fruitgrowers Association, will be meeting the Prime Minister. Until that meeting takes place and an announcement is made after it, I have no information to add to what I have said before. I remind the honourable senator that Mr Cope is the man who made the suggestion earlier in the year that $250,000 should be made available to the industry. At the time of making that suggestion he said that the producers in that area knew that the Government would require of the industry some long term reconstruction programme so that fruit production could be regulated. He went on to say that the producers of the fruit did not realise that the crop they were growing could not be sold this year. Surely that is an extraordinary situation as the industry at that time had already stored and on hand about 1.8 million car tons of canned fruit. The honourable senator has suggested that the Government could can more of the crop, but that seems to me to be an extremely shortsighted policy because next year we would be mct with a double quantity of canned fruit and there would not be any demand for the incoming crop. I believe that the Government must take a long term view in trying to help the industry.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Parliament whether Townsville aerodrome landing and servicing facilities are capable of catering for the Boeing 747 jumbo jet? If not, will the Minister take immediate steps to examine the possibility of establishing such facilities at Townsville so that tourists from overseas can avoid .the smog-ridden capital cities and spend the whole of their Australian visit relaxing amid the beauties of Australia’s northland and the Great Barrier Reef?
– I do not want my advice to be taken as authoritative on this matter and it will be necessary for me to have it checked. I believe that Boeing 747s could land in an emergency at Townsville at present. I will have ‘ this checked thoroughly and after a further examination I will answer the honourable senator’s question positively and in detail.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation advise the Senate of the current position regarding Concorde options?
– The present position is that they are options.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation supply to the Senate a schedule or statement setting out the present superannuation entitlements of Qantas captains and pilots, together with the proposed entitlements? I am not asking the Minister to comment but simply . to give the factual present position and the proposed entitlements.
– I think it is preferable to have the information prepared for the full range of technical air crew. This will be done.
(Question No. 868)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What action has been taken to amend territory ordinances to ensure that where the victim of an industrial accident is flown to one of the States the transport costs are met in full by the appropriate insurance company and not, as at present, at a flat rate of $40 with the balance of the cost being met by the Government?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Instructions have been given for the preparation of a Bill to be introduced into the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory to amend Section 5A of the Hospitals and Medical Services Ordinance 1953-1970. The amendment will exclude from the concession persons transported outside the Territoryfor medical treatment for an illness or accident for which there is a claim under Workers Compensation or Third. Party Insurance.
The concession does not apply in the Australian Capital Territory.
(Question No. 915)
How many applications have been received to date by the Australian Film Development Corporation for financial assistance in the production and/or distribution of films.
How many applications have been successful and how much has been loaned by the Corporation to date.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Vice President of the Executive Council has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Film Development Corporation has advised that:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONOn 6th April Senator Milliner asked me, whether the Prime Minister has received representations from certain interests in central western Queensland concerning the classification of the area as a disaster area. He asked me also about the Government’s attitude to these representations. I undertook to obtain information about the matter raised.
The Prime Minister has informed me that he recently has received such representations from a newly formed organisation called the Central Western Queensland Survival Group, and assumes that these are the representations to which the honourable senator refers. The Prime Minister has replied to these representations pointing out that the Commonwealth has for some time been providing substantial assistance to the Queensland Government for drought relief but that, under these arrangements, the question of declaring any particular area a drought or a disaster area is a matter for the State which has responsibility for the administration of relief measures. Further, the Prime Minister indicated that the. Premier of Queensland has drawn his attention to special difficulties in areas most affected by the drought and low wool prices, and that the matter is receiving urgent consideration.
Reports on Items
– I present the reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects:
Pins, Hairpins and Curling Grips.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act 1970, I present a copy of an agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia in relation to the marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme.
– I present the 7th report of the Publications Committee.
Report, by leave, adopted.
– I ask leave of the Senate to make a statement relating to tariff policy.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - There being no objection leave is granted.
– This is a long statement of 14 pages. I ask for leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– No, I object.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted. : Senator COTTON- This is a statement made on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). Wherever the first personal pronoun is used it is to be understood to refer to my colleague, in the other place.
In recent months the Government has given close consideration to its policies as they affect manufacturing industry, and particularly to questions of tariff policy. Government policy on tariffs cannot be properly evaluated, or even understood, in isolation. It needs to be seen in relation to the potential, and the problems, of the whole range of industries affected by protection and the place of those industries in the Australian economy. The sector of the economy which benefits most from tariff protection is undoubtedly manufacturing. However, it should not be overlooked that a very wide range of primary industries also receives some measure of tariff protection.
It is to manufacturing industry in particular, and the role of manufacturing in the Australian economy, that consideration must be given in any appraisal of tariff policy. Manufacturing provides some 28 per cent of our gross national product and 28 per cent of total employment. If we add to those directly employed in manufacturing industry those employed in providing services for the manufacturing industries, a substantial proportion of all Australian employees are dependent on manufacturing for a livelihood.
The value of factory output has been doubling every 9 or 10 years. The growth in exports of manufactures has been even more dramatic. Twenty years ago exports of manufactures amounted to only $50m or 4 per cent of our total exports. Indica tions are that in the current year they will exceed $800m and provide a fifth of our total exports. Major contributions are being made by chemicals, motor vehicles and parts, and iron and steel. Processed foodstuffs will provide another fifth. Aggregate figures, however, do not reveal the whole story. Australian industry has not simply grown bigger over the last 10 or 20 years, it has greatly diversified and has acquired great new technical capacity and strength. This increasing sophistication of Australian industry has enabled it to compete more and more for sales in international markets as the figures I have quoted show. The truth is that Australia is an industrial nation. What we become and how well we succeed in developing this country and raising the economic and social living standards of our people will depend to a large extent on how well we succeed in realising the potential, and overcoming the problems, of the industrial sector.
All these are matters that must be borne in mind when we consider questions of tariff policy. At the same time we have to consider the facts of the Australian environment. We are a young country with a small population occupying a continent of 3 million square miles. This provides us with a potential based on abundant natural resources. At the same time it involves some important disadvantages. Compared with their counterparts in many industrial countries overseas our industries have a small domestic market scattered over a vast continent. Australia is, moreover, far from the main world markets. Because Australia is a young country with a relatively small economy not many Australian companies have massive resources available for investment in major projects, or for the development of technology, on a scale comparable with resources available to their overseas competitors.
To sustain a fast rate of growth Australia must attract the investment of both domestic and overseas capital in its manufacturing industry. The business community must have confidence in the future of Australian industry if it is to invest its money. For this reason it is essential for industry to know where it stands in relation to government policy. Many Australian industries face costs higher than those of their overseas competitors for reasons beyond their control arising from the Austraiian natural and social environment. I have in mind such things as wage costs arising from our policies of full employment and our high living standards, high transport and power costs, and increased costs arising because the scale of production is often unavoidably small. No government can ignore the existence of these basic economic facts of life. It is because of them that we must have an effective system of protection for the manufacturing sector if it is to make its necessary contribution to our national growth.
This does not mean that we should have protection at any price. We must be selective. Protection of industries involves a cost to the community. It is the responsibility of government to seek to ensure that protection is afforded only where the benefits to the community exceed the cost involved, and even then that the protection given is no higher than is necessary. But let us make no mistake about it. The dramatic growth of manufacturing industry in the post-war period and the contribution made by that growth to our national development have been made possible in large measure because there has been an effective policy of protection. It has for many years been the firm policy of all Australian governments that reasonable and adequate protection should be afforded to economic and efficient Australian industries. This basic policy has not been seriously challenged. The present interest in tariff matters is not directed at this basic proposition but is concerned with a reappraisal of the practical application of that policy. Such a reappraisal, I believe, is timely, given the increasing importance, maturity and sophistication of Australian manufacturing industry.
Governments have long recognised that deciding what industries should be protected, by how much and by what means, is a very difficult as well as a very important task which can only be carried out satisfactorily on the basis of an adequate knowledge and analysis of all the relevant facts. Accordingly, successive governments since 1921 have sought the advice of the Tariff Board before reaching decisions on these matters.
The Tariff Board system has proved of great value. With the aid of its substantial and experienced staff the Board has developed procedures to enable it to conduct public and detailed inquiries into the circumstances of industries before arriving at its recommendations. The Tariff Board was established as an independent advisory body and governments have scrupulously maintained its independence since its foundation. The good sense of having the Tariff Board undertake its work objectively, and with a minimum pf direction, has commended itself to all governments. In special circumstances successive governments have from time to time given the Board directions in relation to a particular industry being reviewed - for example, shipbuilding and machine tools for defence reasons. Any such directions have invariably been included in- the terms of reference to the Tariff Board and so have been public information. The Government will continue to do this where it is considered necessary.
For nearly 40 years the Tariff Board, in recommending protection, has had only 2 specific guidelines, both contained in commitments given in the 1932 and 1957 trade agreements with the United Kingdom. These were that protection would be afforded only to those industries reasonably assured of sound opportunities for success; and that protection would not exceed a level which would give the United Kingdom industry full opportunity for reasonable competition on the basis of the relative costs of ‘economic and efficient’ production. In addition to this traditional guidance, it has been indicated that the Board should have in its mind the national economic objectives as a whole.
Governments have considered at times whether further guidance was needed to meet new circumstances as they have arisen over the years but they have not felt this necessary. It has been felt that the basic policy of giving reasonable protection to industries judged to be economic and efficient should remain, and that specific Tariff Board recommendations should continue to be based on a judgment arising from a thorough examination of all the factors relevant to the particular case before it.
In recent years the Tariff Board has, quite properly, been examining whether it can continue to fulfil effectively its role of advising the Government in today’s circumstances on the basis of principles derived from the circumstances of the 1930s. It has concluded, and has reported its conclusions in its recent annual reports, that changes in circumstances have made the traditional tariff making principles and practices inadequate to deal with the current requirements of the economy. Accordingly, the Tariff Board has developed a new approach to its work which involves a systematic review of the tariff and the establishment and use of ‘points of reference’ based on the concept of effective rates of protection. Points of reference represent levels of effective protection reflecting in the Board’s view, ‘high’, ‘medium’, and ‘low* cost production. The Board considers that “high’ cost production is that where effective rates of protection exceed SO per cent, ‘medium’ cost production is where effective rates exceed ‘25 per cent but do not exceed 50 per cent, and. low’ cost production is where effective rates are 25 per cent or less. ‘
In the area it defines as high cost the Board has said that, subject to any noneconomic considerations which the Government may wish to have taken into account, its recommendations will aim at least to contain industries, other than those demonstrating clearly compensating external benefits and those which can show beyond reasonable doubt prospects of operating with substantially lower levels of protection within a reasonable time. In dealing with industries in the medium protection range the Board has- said it will adopt a watchful attitude. It will, for example, have particular regard for their future prospects and likely influence on the prospects of other industries. In dealing with industries it defines as ‘low cost’, the Board has said it will adopt a liberal attitude, aimed at encouraging the maximum expansion in this area. After considering the views expressed by the Tariff Board the Government decided in January that there should be a progressive review of the tariff and that the principles to be followed by the Tariff Board in the review - or in the case of applications for new tariff levels - should be the subject of further examination by the Government.
Before this further examination I considered it would be desirable for rae to hold discussions with various groups interested in this question. I have talked with representatives of the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council, the Conference of National Manufacturing Industries Associations, the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, and the Australian Farmers’ Federation which included on this occasion a representative of the Australian Woolgrowers’ and Grazers’ Council. I have also talked with the Chairman of the Tariff Board. These discussions showed there is general acceptance of the proposed systematic review of the tariff. There was also general acceptance of the Board’s suggestion that the review should begin with industries in the Board’s ‘high’ cost category which have not recently been reviewed. ‘Machinery’ and ‘manufactures of metal’ have been nominated by the Board as the first 2 areas to be reviewed. References covering the remainder of chapter 84 of the tariff which deals with machinery’ will be forwarded, to the Board in the near future to be followed in due course by references in the area of ‘manufactures of metal’. This will get the review under way.
During the Government’s examination of this question, including the ‘.consultations with interested groups, it became clear that, whilst there is no objection to the use of the Tariff Board’s points of reference in determining the sequence of the tariff review, there is considerable anxiety amongst manufacturers that these points of reference will become the main determinant in setting levels of protection. In these circumstances the Government has concluded that it should make its attitude to tariff policy quite clear. The 2 basic principles of the tariff policy of successive Australian governments have been, firstly, that the government itself is responsible for all decisions. Secondly, before reaching its decisions, the government seeks the advice of an independent Tariff Board. The Government reaffirms support for both of these basic principles. The independence of the Tariff Board will be preserved.
The first principle of government responsibility for decisions is just as important. The Tariff Board is an advisory body and has never been anything else. The decisions and the responsibility rest with the government. For this reason there is value in restating the kind of considerations which the Government must necessarily take into account in reaching its decisions. The Government sees no reason to change its basic approach. It believes that reasonable and adequate protection should be given to worthwhile industries, taking into account all relevant considerations. From the Government’s point of view, the economic worth of an industry to the nation requires a judgment on whether the benefits derived by the community from the existence of that industry outweigh or otherwise the costs .to the community of providing adequate protection to it. More generally, the maintenance of a competitive industrial structure is of central importance to the Government both for promoting sound economic growth and the most effective use of the nation’s resources.
Clearly, the higher the protection needed the more important it becomes to take the costs to the community fully into account and the more critically must the case for such protection be assessed. However, no government can decide its tariff policy on considerations of cost alone. The task which the Government faces is to make the right decision in each case in the national interest, taking into account both the costs involved and the benefits. This is a very difficult task. Generally speaking the benefits are more diverse and harder to measure than the costs. . Perhaps .this is why there appears to have been, in recent public discussion on tariffs, preoccupation with cost aspects with less consideration for the benefits. Benefits to the community from the existence of an industry which a government must consider in making its judgments on the level of protection provided include, but go wider than, the direct relationships which one industry may have with another in providing inputs or using outputs. For example, an industry may make a. significant contribution to the employment of special classes of labour; it may contribute to the development of special skills of significant value to other industries; it may contribute to technological development; it may make a particular contribution to export earnings; it may provide domestic competition for imports and bring the price of imports down.
Similarly, there oan be highly significant non-economic implications which a government must take into account in considering the protection to be afforded an industry. Examples are where factories in decen tralised locations provide major employment opportunities, or where an industry has defence significance. The Government’s responsibility, however, is not limited to reaching a judgment as to the relative costs and benefits of providing adequate protection for an industry at a particular point in time. A judgment must be made of the likely balance of costs and benefits in the years ahead. Governments cannot make basic decisions affecting important industries without giving most careful thought to the likely results of those decisions.
The assessment of the worth of an industry and the establishment of appropriate rates of protection is and always will be a matter calling for the exercise of judgment. The Tariff Board has explained that its points of reference are not in themselves definitive or independent criteria for assessing the economics of local activities; that the existence of high levels of protection does not necessarily mean that an industry is- uneconomic;, and that an element judgment will always be involved in the assessment of external effects. This is certainly the Government’s view. .
The worth of an industry cannot be adequately assessed if undue reliance is placed on the points of reference without adequate consideration of other relevant factors like those I have mentioned. It is clear that the more comprehensively the Tariff Board is able to take into account the significant economic and non-economic factors which the Government itself must take into account, the more valuable its reports will be to the Government. Similarly, the more comprehensively the Board is able to support its recommendations with a full exposition of the facta*- 1 basis and its analysis of the facts, the more informed the Government will be when exercising its judgment and arriving at its decision. It is also evident that the’ Government needs as clear advice as the Tariff Board can give in its reports to. enable the Government to reach judgments on the likely consequences of implementing the Board’s recommendations.
There is one other subject I want to mention. The Government has considered a suggestion by a number of leading industry associations that there would be an advantage in having the simpler types of tariff cases dealt with by one member of the Board so that decisions could be reached more quickly. The cases concerned are those which do not involve consideration of the ‘economic and efficient’ criteria. Consultations have been held with the Chairman of the Tariff Board on this matter.
The Government has decided that matters such as customs by-laws, both admissions under by-law and simpler cases of cancellation of by-laws, tariff classification, dumping, the addition of goods to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Area and questions relating to the granting of concessional entry of products from lesserdeveloped countries could be handled in this way. It is proposed to introduce amendments to the Tariff Board Act to allow for the addition of a ninth member to the Board and to authorise the Chairman of the Board to appoint single member Boards to inquire into the types of cases I have mentioned. Details of the amendments proposed will be announced as soon as possible. This action should also be of assistance to the Tariff Board in the handling ofits other work, includingthe progressive review now to be undertaken. I commend the statement to the Senate.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement. I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move that the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 4, being the Evidence Ordinance 1971 made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-70, be disallowed. I ask for leave to make a statement in regard to that notice.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator BULL) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The notice of motion I have just given relates to an ordinance which the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is considering at present. The Committee is concerned about certain aspects of the ordinance and would like to pursue some investigations further before deciding on whether it should report to the
Senate. As the time allowed for giving notice of motion for disallowance has almost run out, I give that notice to allow the Committee the desired time to pursue its investigations.
– I move, under Standing Order 336:
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives communicating to that House the resolution agreed to by the Senate on 16th March 1971 in connection with the second reading of the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill 1971.
For the information of honourable senators I point out that the decision of the Senate was to add at the end of the motion: but the Senate whilst welcoming the proposal for the purpose of flood mitigation works in New South Wales,is of opinion that the assistance offered is inadequate and should form part of a larger scheme to deal with national disasters and that, accordingly, a joint select committee of the Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the practicability of the establishment of a national disaster organisation.
My motion is simply that a message should be sent to the House of Representatives acquainting it with that decision of the Senate.
– (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (11.10) - I am always a bit cautious about simple matters, so I suggest that the matter be adjourned.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) adjourned.
– I realise that this is departing from the usual order of business, but Senator Murphy has on the notice paper a notice of motion to refer a matter to the Standing Orders Committee. If it is the will of the Chair I am quite happy for the matter to be brought on and for the motion to be moved. I seek leave to do that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted?
– The Leader of the Government has asked for leave, but before
I agree I would like him to explain what we are agreeing to.
– It is to facilitate dealing with a motion.
– 1 am asking the Leader of the Government.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThis is a valid question. Perhaps I was a little abrupt in my procedure. I am referring to notice of motion ‘No. 9 standing in the name of Senator Murphy. This relates to a question of privilege. I have indicated to Senator Murphy that standing order 33a should go to the Standing Orders Committee and he understands my reasons for saying that. In order to facilitate matters I intervened to achieve the very purpose of referring the matter to the Standing Orders Committee.
– by leave - While we are in the process of referring matters to the Standing Orders Committee, could the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) advise us whether it is possible to have standing order 64 considered by the Standing Orders Committee before the Com- mittee’s timetable is cluttered up with other references to it?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave- It is my hope that before the end of this financial year there will be an opportunity for the Standing Orders Committee to consider standing order 64. That standing order will be on the Committee’s agenda. I move:
That the following matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee - That standing order 33A be amended as follows: At end of standing order add ‘; and also to inquire into and report upon matters concerning rights, responsibilities, obligations and protection of senators and, in relation to proceedings of the Senate, of members of the public, which may be referred to it by the Senate”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Reference to Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts
– I move:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts the following matter - What should be the role of the Commonwealth in regard to teacher education throughout Australia. The Committee is directed to make its report and recommendations as soon as possible and not later than 31st August 1971.
Education is a fundamental determinant of the progress of our society and the quality of life of our citizens. There are serious problems in education all over the world. In Australia there is the problem of allocating funds to support education generally. There are such other problem areas as the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to the States. There are also broad philosophical questions which have to do with goals, standards, purposes and means of educating our people’ in tertiary, secondary and primary institutions. There are problems which have to do with reassessing our past educational practices, especially in our primary and secondary schools. Also there is the very great problem of teacher education.
In no area of the crisis in education is dissatisfaction greater or the debate more vigorous than that of programmes for the education of teachers. Newspapers announce the crisis in teacher education with such headlines as: ‘Parents Want New Training For Teachers’, ‘Terrible Mess in Teacher Training’ and Teachers Should be Trained to the Highest Level*. Some teachers and prospective teachers have described Diploma in Education courses described education faculties as ‘old fashioned and unadventurous’. A national seminar on the the training of teachers as ‘shallow, conservative and inadequate’. The subjects in these courses were described as ‘poorly integrated, the teaching methods poor and the lectures unrelated to educational problems’.
Teachers colleges are criticised as being inbred and as being subject to State department domination of courses, standards and policies. The universities are criticised for providing programmes not relevant to practical needs and relegating the study of education to second class status. The New South Wales Teachers Federation is on record as saying: .
One of the. serious disadvantages of our present system of teacher training is the fact that we have not yet moved far enough away from the apprenticeship methods of the old pupil-teacher arrangement of the 19th century towards the more enlightened approaches to recruitment and training in modern industry.
One prominent educator - Professor Walker of the University of New England - believes that educating teachers, like educating lawyers, doctors, architects and other professionals, must be a job for universities and deplores the chaos of present policies which are building new teachers colleges, setting up colleges of advanced education and keeping student teachers going through universities all. at the same time. He says:
We have followed English educational practices when they were not what we needed. Now that a sensible one comes along with the Robbins Report recommendation that teacher education should always be associated with universities, .we appear to be turning our backs. All over Australia teachers colleges are tragically and deliberately breaking their connections with universities.
Another prominent educator- H. . P. Shoenheimer Senior Lecturer in Education, at the La Trobe University - has said that all new teachers need some kind of preparation appropriate to setting their teaching against a background of the real world situation, and that all professionally undereducated teachers need in-service education. He has described the crisis in teacher education in these terms:
While aD our teachers, or 95 per cent of them, are underqualified by the latest or emerging world standards, those coming out of college and university in the current stage are, in teacher education terms, the elite of the profession. They have 3 or 4 years of preparation, and that in- the most modern approaches. The real brake on progress is made up of the tens of thousands of senior teachers, many of them in positions of authority, who have less preparation - perhaps 2 years after an incomplete secondary education - or who know nothing about education that was nor known in 1935.
I consider it vital that all teachers should have at least 4 years of professional preparation, of which al best 2 should be devoted to those disciplines of study which relate specifically to the teaching profession - psychology, sociology, comparative education, philosophy (or ethnics) of education, history of education. By my standards a teacher who has spent 3 years following the same degree courses as a destined classics scholar or soap factory chemist, and has followed or accompanied this with a single year’s worth of preparation for teaching is shockingly unprepared as a professional educator.
Mr Shoenheimer has urged massive Commonwealth support for a programme of teacher retraining across the nation.
– Who did you say Mr Shoenheimer was?
– He is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the La Trobe
University. He also writes a great deal on the subject. There was a series of articles by him in the ‘Australian’ some little time ago. Also, in that and other publications he has been writing for some time not only on the problem of teacher education but also on other fundamental education questions.
Teachers themselves have expressed grave doubts about the value and relevance of - much of what schools have traditionally done. Many teachers see useful change in our system of education coming in large part from drastic changes in our approach to teacher training. Many in the teaching profession insist that ways must be found to break out of the mould which has produced teachers1 who are ‘supervised, inspected, signed in and signed out’. Strikes and stop work meetings in the teaching profession are surely important indices of the level , and intensity of dissatisfaction in the schools and teacher training institutions across Australia. “ In 1969 there were approximately 90.000 teachers in government schools in Australia. To meet the needs of increased enrolments, 3,000 new appointments would be required. To meet the expected loss of teachers, mainly through resignations, more than 12,000 would be required. Thus, out of every 5 appointments- only one goes to meet additional needs and 4 go to fill gaps left by previous losses. The need to recruit so heavily to teacher education’ programmes has given rise to recruitment practices which enrol many students who are uncommitted to teaching and who frequently prove personally unsuitable. As one educator has pointed out:
This is worse than a self-perpetuating cycle. It is a self-exacerbating cycle. Each turn of the wheel brings a worse situation.
In New South Wales, for example, the shortage of teachers is getting worse. Resignations and retirements in that State have risen from 8 per cent 5 years ago to close to 14 per cent last year. The problems facing teachers colleges will be better understood by examining the situation in one State in some detail. New South Wales is a good case, as the situation there is as serious as it is anywhere. There are now 10 teachers colleges in New South Wales, namely, Sydney, founded in 1906; Armidale, in 1928: Balmain, in 1946; Wagga Wagga, in 1947; Newcastle, in 1949; Alexander Mackie at Paddington, in 1958; Wollongong, in 1962; Westmead, in 1969; Lismore, in 1970; and Goulburn, in 1970. The Westmead and Lismore colleges were established hastily, without proper planning and in old school buildings. The Goulburn college did not take its first students until late last year. It will be appreciated that the problem has extended over a long number of years. Each of the States is connected with a government of a different political colour.
At the end of 1969 the Bathurst Teachers College, founded in 1951, went out of existence and its students, site and buildings were taken over by the new Mitchell College of Advanced Education which is offering a 3-year teacher education programme. Lack of adequate financial support has had numerous adverse effects on New South Wales colleges because in the early 1960s the New South Wales Department of Education decided to extend all 2- year courses to 3-year courses, but year after year this innovation was postponed because the Treasury could not make money available. Library facilities are inadequate, particularly in the newer colleges. Little money is available for proper research projects or for travel to conferences and equipment is generally inferior to that now in use in comparable programmes in universities and colleges of advanced education. In fact, college lecturers have complained frequently that science facilities and equipment are superior in many high schools in New South Wales. Clerical assistance for academic staff is still minimal and salary scales have fallen progressively behind those of universities.
Perhaps more obvious to the outside observer is the inadequacy of buildings. In the 10-year period from 1957-58 to 1966- 67 out of a total of $323m spent by the New South Wales Department of Education on the purchase of sites and the construction of new buildings, only $6. 5m or a mere 2 per cent of the total went t teachers colleges. During this period enrolments increased by slightly under 50 per cent, while teachers college enrolments doubled. The result is that today most colleges operate in overcrowded and unsatisfactory buildings, and the position will undoubtedly deteriorate with the progressive introduction of 3-year training and the development of courses to give practising teachers 3-year trained status. Only 3 of the colleges operating at present are housed in buildings specially constructed as teachers colleges. The rest inhabit old schools, prefabricated buildings or other temporary accommodation.
Office space is grossly inadequate in most colleges. In some colleges three, four or more staff members must share one small study. Lecture rooms are in short supply. Most of them are normal school classroom size and are unsuitable for large lecture groups or small tutorials. These conditions have made it hard for colleges to retain better qualified staff members, many of whom have taken university posts. Because of the loss of many better qualified people to universities, the general quality of staff in terms of formal academic qualifications has fallen. Now only about 30 per cent hold a post graduate degree and a significant - proportion with bachelor’s degrees are pass graduates.
A number of colleges have a distinct public service/ high school atmosphere and little opportunity is provided for staff to participate effectively in policy making. Being public servants, staff members are also unable to speak out and to criticise the education system of which they arc a; part. As Professor P. H. Partridge has stated, the result of State control is that teachers colleges, which ought to be sources of new impulses and independent judgment, are designed to perpetuate the confirmed habits and attitudes. The uncertainty about the future of teachers colleges has had a demoralising effect on staff. For almost a decade staff has been waiting for a definite decision on the future of teachers colleges. Wagga Wagga Teachers College will be absorbed into the new Riverina College of Advanced Education, but since April 1970 the future of other teachers colleges has been obscure.
The problem in teacher education is not simply a question of providing more bodies, to hold a watching brief in the classrooms of the nation. It is more than just a numbers game. The supply of teachers is often mistakenly seen as the only problem of teacher education, but it is only part of the solution and certainly not the larger part. We have now what is in effect a 4-tiered system of teacher education: There are the old teachers colleges; new colleges which recently have been established or are in the process of being completed; colleges of advanced education; and universities. Over the years government teachers colleges have been subjected to considerable criticism from many quarters. The traditional 2-year courses, the lack of autonomy and the bonding system have also been discussed extensively.
The old established teachers colleges, according to one scholar in the field of education have been neglected and forgotten by students of higher education, the public and governments. These established teachers colleges still do not receive Commonwealth assistance. They are still the poor relations in the field of higher education. Despite the fact that the Martin Committee recommended in 1964 that the Commonwealth should interest itself in teacher preparation and teachers colleges, this recommendation was originally rejected firmly. The policy has been somewhat modified since.
In the 3-year period to 30th June 1970 the Commonwealth Government allocated $24m to the States to build and equip additional teachers colleges. After that a further $30m was provided by the Commonwealth Government to support teacher education programmes in 5 new State colleges of advanced education and to allow its own Canberra College of Advanced Education to train teachers. The allocation of $30m in 1970, however, does not meet all the problems. There must be a recognition of the deeper issues associated with teacher education. Besides providing funds, any Commonwealth government has substantial responsibilities in looking at the quality of teacher education, its underlying philosophy and its relevance to contemporary need. The qualitative problems of teacher education must be recognised by government. In referring to government I am referring to any government dealing with teachers colleges in the States and the problems existing there. I have been deliberate in indicating that these problems have existed over a number of years. Many of them have existed under Labor or Liberal and Country Party governments.
I do not want to enter into the question of dividing responsibility for the problems that exist in the field. My approach to this problem is not to put the motion as a vehicle for an attack upon any govern ment, Federal or State, but rather to suggest that the problems are there. Many of the problems have existed under governments of varying political colour and the proposal is that there ought to be a study of this matter to see whether we can suggest an improvement. Simply providing money will not improve the quality of teacher education and will not solve the problems of teacher education automatically. Too often it is said that a programme which provided funds for new physical facilities for teacher education would automatically solve all of the other problems of teacher education. The appropriation of $30m by the Commonwealth Government is welcomed but it may fairly be suggested that that sum will buy bricks and mortar but will not necessarily get at the problems of producing better teachers. It leaves the question of Commonwealth planning in education completely unresolved.
In particular there are no plans to integrate the various institutions at which teachers are being trained. The grant of $3 Om to the States does constitute an attempt to come to terms with one aspect of the crisis in teacher education, but does not cope with the whole, of the problem which is much wider than the mere provision of money or physical facilities. In simply allocating funds for the establishment of new colleges of advanced education, all of the older institutions involved with teacher education were being left out in the cold. The whole area of teacher education calls for some systematic investigation. A student of Australian education put the case for Commonwealth involvement in teacher education in this way:
Perhaps the most valuable contribution that the Commonwealth could make in this field would be to initiate a full scale investigation of teacher education on a national scale, much along the lines of the investigation of universities carried out by the Murray Committee and the Martin Committee. Such an inquiry ought to look into a whole range of issues: teachers’ colleges autonomy; financial needs; integration of colleges into the system of higher education; the bonding system as well as the complex and difficult task of preparing teachers to meet the needs of our schools and our society.
Obviously the Commonwealth has an important role to play in planning teacher education and teacher re-education. It has an important role to play in co-ordinating the activities of the various institutions associated with teacher education. The
Commonwealth Government must also - as is widely agreed - provide funds for capital and recurrent expenditure clearly earmarked for facilities designed to retrain established teachers through in-service and other training programmes. A programme of research into some of the crucial bottlenecks in our system of teacher education is also a matter for Commonwealth Government attention. Education generally remains Australia’s most under-researched industry. Notwithstanding that, on this subject a fair amount of material has been gathered by some of those concerned with educational research.
An important consideration for the Senate is whether a matter of reference such as this could be dealt with fairly promptly. I think the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Fairbairn) might like to be made aware of the fact that before proposing this matter to the Senate I made some inquiries of persons with specialised knowledge in this field. They were of the opinion that a matter such as -this would not’ require years of investigation before-^-
– I rather think that they might have assumed that their individual views would be accepted automatically.
– That may be so. But it is something, in which some useful conclusions could be arrived at fairly shortly. If one wanted to pursue the matter in an extremely intensive way, I agree that it is a subject which would probably continue to require investigation. It is one which would never cease. Probably the stage has been reached where a very useful report could be made within a comparatively short time. That is why the suggestion was made that the Committee should report not later than 31st August 1971. In view of the fact that this proposal has been on the notice paper for some time that period may be a little short. Perhaps it would be better to put the date back another month. I seek leave to substitute 30 September for 31 August.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This is an important subject matter. It is one which affects education in a fundamental way. It is important that a legislative and general purpose standing committee of this Senate should be able to look at the matter and make such suggestions as it might think appropriate for the consideration of the Senate and, no doubt, for the attention of the Government. I therefore commend this proposal as an appropriate one for the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts.
– Senator Murphy has raised a matter of considerable importance to the educational future of this country. I do not think that anybody can deny that the future of our education is largely bound up with the degree to which we can supply trained teachers. I have often said in this chamber that people have been misled into the belief that the problems of education can be solved by providing more money and building more buildings. That does not solve the problems at all. The first thing that has to be done is to provide a reservoir of trained teachers who ?are capable of undertaking the work which becomes necessary as a result of the increase in the number of educational institutions. The question of. teacher training is causing great stresses and strains in .the Australian community. We have reached the situation in Victoria where disputation between sections of the teachers and the administration of the Education Department has almost disrupted the affairs of the Department. Therefore I think it is appropriate that the suggestion should be made that the Senate should inquire into and determine the degree of responsibility which .we should exercise in regard to this important matter.
When the question of supporting this reference to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts came before the Australian Democratic Labor Party we were unanimous that we should support it. But we have one difficulty. I appeal to Senator Murphy to meet our views on this question. The original proposal was that the Committee should submit its report by 3 1st August. Senator Murphy realised that there was a shortage of time’ and he suggested 30th September. I represent my Party on the Committee. Naturally if I were not available we could substitute somebody else.’ But I take a particular interest in this matter and I shall be overseas during the recess. That might not matter. But Senator Sir Magnus Cormack is another honourable senator who I would say is extremely interested. He will be engaged during the recess on the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. Also Senator Hannan is going to represent the Government overseas. He informs me that while he will be available part of the time he is not sure that he will be available for the rest of the time.
– What does the honourable senator suggest?
– I suggest to Senator Murphy, if he could meet us, that he make the date for the Committee to make its report and recommendations the day of meeting of the Senate in February.
– I shall do that.
– I am glad indeed that Senator Murphy will meet us.
– What is the date?
– The date is the first meeting of Parliament in February 1972. As Senator Murphy has ‘ agreed to meet us on this matter we cordially support his motion.
– I take it that Senator McManus, by leave, has moved an amendment?
– 1 shall frame an amendment by leave, if I may. Would it be convenient if I do it now? I ask leave to amend the proposal by substituting the words ‘the first day of the meeting of the Senate in 1972’ for ’31st August 1971’.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the motion be amended by deleting the words ‘30th September 1971’ and inserting the words ‘the first day of the meeting of the Senate in 1972’ in place thereof.
– The Government takes the view that teacher education is a very important matter. It is needless to remind ourselves that it is a matter for which primary responsibility rests with the States. Education is a subject matter under State jurisdiction of which they are very jealous. It is to be noted that the motion proposed by Senator Murphy is to refer to the Senate Standing Committee on Educa tion, Science and the Arts not the subject of teacher training but the proper role of the Commonwealth in teacher training. In that respect I think the Committee will find a disadvantage. I would query the appropriateness of a Senate Committee examining a question of this political composition and of this specialist quality. I would be reassured only by the statement made by Senator McManus, that he will make himself available for this Committee. I should think that his experience would be invaluable. However, I would have thought that more effective work could be done by an investigation and a report by a specialist committee .which was appointed after agreement with the States.
It is not my purpose to oppose the motion. The majority of the Senate having indicated its support for it, my opposition would’ be completely ineffective. The question of the role of the Commonwealth in education will involve a very delicate judgment as to priorities, not’ merely in relation to the quality of the teaching profession and the status of its members, but priorities of Government, first of all, from the financial point of view, both Commonwealth and State. Then the States will have to make a judgment as to the degree of priority they will give. As Senator Murphy has said, the Commonwealth has already pursued, not only in this field but in other fields of education, a policy of direct assistance to education.
In the specific field of teacher training, the Government devoted $24m in the triennium ending June 1970 and increased that figure to $30m in the current trienium. It is estimated that the total of S54m over the 6 years will provide nearly ] 2,000 new and replacement places for full time or equivalent part-time trainee teachers at teachers’ colleges. It is a condition of those grants to the States that 10 per cent of the trainees should be available for non-bonded positions outside the Education Department. In addition to that, as Senator Murphy mentioned briefly, provision has been made for the education of teachers at 6 colleges of advanced education - Bathurst, Wagga, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Hobart and Canberra. The combined Commonwealth-State expenditure of $8.5m capital and SS.Sm recurrent expenditure is estimated for this purpose under the usual sharing conditions, and that money will provide 1700 places.
In addition to that we make a contribution to the university work in the country. Of course, the universities do offer their facilities for courses in teacher training. In 1969, which is the latest year for which figures are available, 13,552 State teacher trainees were undertaking university courses or combined university and teacher college courses. This number represents 42 per cent of all State teacher trainees in that year. In addition to that the Commonwealth is providing an unmatched grant of $2.5 m over 3 years for pre-school training colleges and, in addition to that, Commonwealth scholarships, for both universities and colleges of advanced education, are available for this purpose.
I put that on the record as a very brief summary of the financial position in relation to education but indicate that, since the deputy leader of the Australian Democratic . Labor Party supports Senator Murphy’s motion, we do not resist it. However, in my view, the Senate in the formulation and constitution of its committees should exercise avery delicate judgment as to the field in which it can be assured that the result will represent a competent performance and a responsible contribution to government.I would have thought that this field was not significantly appropriate for the Senate inquiry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake- Brockman) read a first time.
-I move -
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
– CouldI ask your guidance, Mr Acting Deputy President? Should not the Minister ask for leave?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Leave to do what?
– To do what he is doing.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Do you mean to speak or to move for the second reading?
– To deliver the second reading speech now.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - No, I do not think it is customary. I am advised that the fact that the Minister successfully moved a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable him to proceed with the Bill through all its stages forthwith permits him then to deliver his second reading speech.
– The Minister intends to take it only to a certain stage, anyway.
– I am only following the normal practice. The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth-industry research scheme for theAustralian pig industry. Funds will be raised by means of. a levy on all pigs slaughtered for human consumption and theGovernment will provide a matching contribution, on a $1 for $1 basis, to meet expenditure on approved research projects. This new scheme for the pig industry, together with the one proposed earlier for dried fruits research, means that 9 industries whose production represents over 70 per cent of the combined worth of rural output are exercising selfhelp by contribution to research, backed by the Commonwealth Government. The pig industry in Australia is in a period of rapid growth and development. Pig numbers have increased fairly consistently from around 1 million in 1953 to 2.3 million in 1969 and at the same time there has been a trend to larger herd sizes. In the 16 years to 1968- 69 pig meat production has almost doubled and for 1969-70 the gross value of pigs slaughtered is estimated to be in excess of $100m.
The pig industry through its federal organisation, the Australian Commercial Pig Producers Federation, approached the Government and requested the introduction of a research scheme for its industry. The Government has expressed its willingness to participate with the pig industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The Australian Agricultural Council was also informed and has fully endorsed the proposals. The Federation is comprised of 6
State councils. Through the membership of the pig producer and breeder bodies who form these councils, the Federation represents by far the great majority of farmers in this industry. For many years the industry had been at a disadvantage because of the fragmented nature of its organisation. It now has a national voice, the Federation. One of the first actions of the Federation was to seek this research scheme thereby bringing the pig industry into line with the advantages enjoyed by other live-, stock industries.
The Bill will establish a pig research trust account and provide for- a ‘ pig research committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from the Fund. It also sets out the purposes for which money from the fund can be used. The research committee will be comprised of 6 representatives from the Australian Commercial Pig Producers Federation, 2 from the Australian Agricultural Council and one each representing the Commonwealth Scientific and’ Industrial Research Organisation, universities and the Department of Primary Industry. It will be noted that the industry representatives on the committee constitute a majority. This was requested by the industry and is consistent with the situation on the research’ committees that have been set up by legislation for other primary industries. The committee will, among other duties, have the responsibility for recommending the amount of the industry levy. It will also consider research proposals and make recommendations on a comprehensive programme of research expenditure for the pig industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. This programme would complement the valuable work already being undertaken by State departments of agriculture and the universities.
Purposes for which moneys from the fund may be expended broadly follow the precedent established for other CommonwealthIndustry research schemes. Moneys from the trust account would be used for scientific, economic or technical research into the Australian pig industy. The proposed research scheme is a logical extension of the schemes already operating successfully in other rural industries. In the pig industry there are many production and marketing problems to be overcome. These extend through disease control, breeding, nutrition, management and marketing. The industry is fully aware of the problems and recognises that a carefully planned research programme would materially assist in determining solutions. I consider that the industry has shown a responsible attitude in taking the initiative to bring forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the” Senate. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Bill received from the ;House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended. ‘
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
is prepared to listen to and does at least think about the matters raised. I propose to raise questions which I have raised before.
Honourable senators may recall that when the Senate was debating the National Health Bill last year it was told by the Department of Health, which on that occasion adopted its usual attitude, that nothing in the legislation could be altered. I will give an example of what I mean. The Opposition, Independent and Australian Democratic Labor Party senators were on that occasion accused of a heinous crime in trying to alter the legislation in relation to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to provide that the names of its members be made public. These names have now been made public, but nothing detrimental has happened. The second point we made at that time was that when a drug company unsuccessfully submitted a drug to the Australian . Drug Evaluation Committee an answer should be given to that company as to why the drug was refused. I cannot imagine why the Department was so immature in its thinking as to advise the then Minister for Health, as it did at that time, that the Drug Evaluation Committee could not give the reason to the drug company concerned because other drug companies would hear about it. It is laughable when one considers that all drug companies know exactly what the other drug companies are doing, although the formulas they use may be a secret.
A further example of the stupidity of such actions by the Department of Health is the fact that it does not have to give the reason to the competitors of the company concerned; all it has to do is say to the company which submits a drug for evaluation: ‘We have refused your drug on the following grounds’ and give the reasons to the company. The Department does hot have to make these reasons public. I have raised this matter because I think it is completely unfair to a drug company which spends millions of dollars in the preparation of a product to find that it is knocked back and no reasons are given for doing so. I am not going into the question of why a product which has already been passed in the United States of America or Great Britain is knocked back in Australia. The reason for the knocking back of a drug by the Drug Evaluation Committee is usually a simple one. If it is not due to the potency of the drug it is usually due to the base of the drug or to the fact that some petty ingredient is contained in it which should not be contained in it. In that case the potency or the ingredient could be altered. Surely justice would prevail in the argument if the company which submits the drug for evaluation had the right to know why it was knocked back. After all, if it is only a simple thing the company could alter the base or alter the ingredient and. have the drug accepted by the Drug Evaluation Committee.
– Is the honourable senator saying that there should be reasons as to why they are not listed on the pharmaceutical benefits list?
– No,I am not talking about drugs being listed by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which is a different body; I am talking about the Drug Evaluation Committee knocking back drugs on the grounds that they do not come up to standard and not telling the companies concerned why they have been knocked back, so that they do not know why their drugs have been rejected and therefore cannot make any effort to correct the formula. A different proposition is involved here. That is probably why the Minister for Health interjected. I also think that the reason should be given as to why a drug is not included in - the pharmaceutical benefits list. There does not seem to be any reason why it should not be given. Actually, when the Senate agitated for the reason to be given it found out the immaturity of the advisory committee’s thinking on the matter. Time and again I have raised queries as to why certain drugs have been taken off the pharmaceutical benefits list. One of these drugs is amesec. After many inquiries about why it was taken off I was given the reason that this was because it was a triple compound drug. Despite this, another triple compound drug was included in the list a month later. This shows that there is no rationale in the Department’s thinking and no justice in its actions. There was no reason why it should have taken that drug off the list. My first purpose in rising was to speak about the Drug Evaluation Committee. I hope the Minister sees justification in my cause.
I deal now with ophthalmologists. They were the subject of heated discussion during the debate on the National Health Bill. I think this matter should be raised in the Senate now carefully and without the heat that we had during the debate on the Bill when each party was trying to reach compromise with the other parties. No specialist benefit is payable by the benefits societies to a person referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment if the treatment requires that the patient have glasses. I do not think there could be anything more ridiculous than that. It is pure politics. The optometrists do not want the benefit paid. They put pressure on the Government to stop this benefit being paid. I again raise with the Minister this matter in the hope that he will do something about it. A patient referred to an ophthalmologist, no matter what treatment the ophthalmologist prescribes for the patient, should receive the full specialist benefit. Whether the ophthalmologist prescribes eye drops or spectacles, it is still treatment. If it is part of the treatment that spectacles are prescribed, the benefit should be applicable. The ophthalmologist does not make the spectacles. He writes a prescription and the optometrist makes them. He is not taking any work away from the optometrist. It is quite wrong for us to have a political rather than a. just attitude to the matter. The third matter I raise relates to smoking. Recently I asked a question, to which no answer was given, as to why the Government does not heed the advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council-its own committee. The Minister gave a departmental answer but forgot to answer my question. In 1962 the Council recommended that certain action be taken in regard to smoking. It is now 1971 but not a thing has been done. We do read in the Press that some State governments intend to do something. Successive Commonwealth Ministers have stalled on the Government’s attitude to the advertising of tobacco. Everyone knows why.- Even- the Press knows why. It is because of the money poured into the Liberal Party by the tobacco industry. The owners of the tobacco companies, lobbyists and an exmember of the Liberal Party, who now sits in Canberra to look after the interests of the tobacco companies are to blame, as is the Press for carrying tobacco advertisements. If it is true, as was stated in one reply given to me by a former Minister, that advertising on television has no effect on the numbers smoking, why do the tobacco companies spend 10.5m each year on television advertising? The Government cannot have it both ways. If the tobacco companies believe that television advertising is successful - they must believe it otherwise they would not spend $ 10.5m a year on advertising-
– It is a tax deduction.
– It is a tax deduction, but they could still save on that amount. They cannot write off the entire sum to taxation, only a percentage. If they believe that television advertising has some merit - other people apart from the tobacco people believe that television advertising has some merit otherwise there would be no advertising - the Department should act. A statement should come from the . Department that the banning of tobacco advertising on television should help to prevent smoking. The present Minister, in his reply to me, said that the incidence of smoking had not decreased. I think he mentioned indirectly the coupon system in England. There $25m was spent on the coupon system to encourage smoking. That is equal to advertising and explains why the incidence of smoking has not decreased as much, as it could. The gallup polls show that at least 75 per cent of non-smokers think. that such advertising should be banned. Strangely enough, 54 per cent of smokers also think that it should be banned. The greatest harm in television advertising.. is the advertisement which says that the smart thing to do is to smoke. I do not want to go into all the points of morbidity that occur through smoking, lt is not’ just lung cancer, although that is the’ main complaint, but also heart disease, peptic ulcers,, bronchitis, asthma and many associated complaints are caused by smoking. .
The Government is perturbed about the smoking of pot, but it should be more perturbed about the smoking of ordinary cigarettes which produce just as harmful if not more harmful effects and a greater morbidity than does smoking pot.
– Has that been researched adequately yet?
– I do not think we can go beyond what, the British and American experts and . the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council have had to say! They agree that smoking is extremely harmful.
– I was not referring to the smoking of cigarettes but to the smoking of pot.
– They cannot quite correlate those two. I saw some research going on in Indianapolis in the United States where excessive smoking of pot is thought to be a danger because smokers lose concentration. Again let me stress that it is only the real pot smoker who is affected. If one intends to smoke pot one has to smoke it to the last bit. One has to inhale. A tot of kids say that they are on pot. In Indianapolis the researchers said that 96 per cent of high school children were on pot.
– I do not believe it.
– That is whatI was told by the research team. When I asked if I could have a try, they said that I could buy it anywhere down the street. When learned that I did not smoke they said that it was useless my trying. The basis of pot smoking is to inhale. Unless one inhales the smoke there is no effect. When the real pot smoker exhales, no smoke appears. He gets the maximun effect. Most of the kids smoking pot just take a puff and exhale. No harm is caused. They get a kick out of saying that they are smoking pot.
– Do not tell them too much about how to do it. - Senator TURNBULL- No. I will return to my speech. The Minister should be aware that theDepartment is concerned with’ preventive medicine. That is where the Department’s activities should belong. The M inister was asked a question today and he fell into a trap. He said that the role of the Department was to facilitate benefit payments. What is the Department coming to if that is the kind of statement that the Minister makes? The role of the Department is preventive medicine. It prevents diseases so that there are no benefits to pay. The prevention of disease is the role of the Department. One of the best methods of preventing disease would be to try to stop smoking. Whether advertising on television is successful, why encourage it? If there is any doubt that reading about smoking may encourage smoking, why not give the benefit of the. doubt to the safety of human beings? That is a simple thing, but we have not done anything. For 10 years the Government has been immersed in the moneybags of the tobacco companies. There is no other explanation. Every person -I am not talking about the Minister personally - who advises the Department and every department which advises the Minister agree that if possible smoking should be stopped, that advertising should be banned and that a warning that cigarettes are dangerous to health should be placed on cigarette packets.
Laughable and ludicrous statements have been made in the Senate and by members of the medical profession that aspirin must not be taken because if one takes a certain amount of aspirin one will get certain kidney diseases. The result is that aspirin has been removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list. As I have pointed out time and time again, we do not worry about pensioners. We can bump them off. We are allowed to give aspirin to pensioners but not to anyone else. The reason why aspirin was removed from the list was that the people who had suffered the disease were swallowing about 80 tablets a day-, which no sane person would dream of doing and which no doctor would order. But there is an hysteria about aspirin in the Department and it wiped aspirin off. Apparently there” is no influence but’ Nicholas brothers have to influence the Liberal Party. But when we come to the question of prohibition of smoking, about which the evidence is so great- it is backed by every adviser to the Minister - we find that not a thing has been done in 10 years. Advertising on television has been banned in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, - France, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia and - this will appeal to the Government- the US also. Usually we follow as quickly as possible anything that is done in the United States but we have not been too fast this time. We rush into Vietnam and we do everything else that the Americans say, yet they banned this advertising 4 months ago and we still have not done so.
– Is it banned federally or on a state basis?
– Federally. I know that advertisments about cigarettes have been banned in the United States. I think the ban came into effect on 1st January. I make this plea to the Minister: The Americans have done this, why cannot we? This time I am on the side of the Americans. I suggest to the Minister that he follow the good example of these countries and do something about it. It is of no use for the Minister to say that we cannot do this. It can be done. It is a simple matter to alter a section in the relevant Act and ban these things. The purpose could be achieved in another way. You could ensure that whenever there is a cigarette advertisement on television the tobacco companies provide equal time for health advertisement condemning the smoking of cigarettes. The greatest harm of this advertising is the appeal to young children. This should be stopped. Young people think it is the thing to do. They think that they have to smoke in order to be with it; that they are with it if they have a cigarette in their hand. Apparently they do not know where to put their hands - I did not either and I put them in my pockets. They have a puff and think they are with it, not realising the harm they are doing.
For years the Department of Health has told us that it will solve this problem by education. That was the answer I. was given 10 years ago when I first came to grips with a Minister for Health and he argued along those lines. What has the Government done about education and what good has it been? I ask 2 more things in regard to smoking: Firstly, that the Government make sure that there is a label on every cigarette pack indicating that cigarette smoking is a danger to health; secondly, that the tar content ‘ be indicated on the cigarette pack. I think the public is entitled to know the tar content because the greater the content the greater the danger of the cigarette. These are 2 simple things which can be done. If the cigarette companies say there is nothing wrong with the smoking of cigarettes, they should not be worried about having these 2 things on cigarette packets. Those are 2 ways in which the Minister for Health can help. Then he can get the PostmasterGeneral to amend the Post and Telegraphs Act, or whatever it is called-
– It is the Broadcasting and Television Act.
– Whatever it is, he can amend the Act and ban the advertising of tobacco on television. The Minister will then have done something for his Department. At least the Department will be showing an interest for the first time in preventive medicine. I have stated the only advice that the Minister’s officers can give him for his reply to my speech. They cannot keep saying that the Department is going to educate the public or the kids. That is what the Department has been telling us for 10 years but it has not educated them.
The final matter I wish to raise about the Department of Health concerns overseas visits by officers of the Department. I have just been given a reply to a question I asked the Minister. I have not had time to go fully into the reply and will have to spend some time with the Department of Health. The documents I have show conclusively that if you want to travel you do not even have to be a member of Parliament; you need simply join the Department of Health. It seems to me that everyone in that Department gets a trip abroad at some time or another. The only people who seem to be excluded are the typists and stenographers. They do not seem to be getting into the act, I do not know why. Perhaps they are too low down the scale or there are not sufficient trips available. Already this financial year 34 members of the Department of Health have had trips abroad. Are they necessary? It is no good trying to rationalise the situation because one of the officers went to Vietnam to instruct the Army on how to disinfect army vehicles. The reason set out for this trip is ‘advise Australian Army authorities on policy’ - apparently this could not be done by letter - ‘and procedure of cleaning vehicles for quarantine purposes’. Apparently that second part could not be done by example here in Australia. This is just an excuse for a trip.
I have quickly glanced through the explanations given. Another relates to a person who attended a seminar. People in private practice have to pay their own way to such gatherings. They do not attend at Government expense. I expect, when I receive an answer to my question asking for details of members of all departments who have been overseas, that the Department of Trade and Industry will be the way ahead of every other department. This may encourage the Department of Health to spur its members on. Some of the reasons given by the Department of Health are absurd. Another explanation relates to an officer who attended a conference in Vienna - a nice place, and I might add that the trip took 6 weeks - of the Economic and Social Council for the adoption of a protocol on psychotropic substances.
– What is wrong with that?
– Why do they have to go abroad for 6 weeks to do this?
– They went to draw up an international agreement.
– Perhaps that is what they did but I do not think the explanation given means what it says.
– Was that not the Single Convention on Drugs?
– This replaced the Single Convention.
– I am not sure. Perhaps that trip was justifiable but on looking through this list 1 do not think it was justifiable. Someone made a trip in order to attend an international congress. People in private practice have to pay their own way to attend such things. Why should officers of the Department have to attend so many of these conferences? I have only looked through one document and I have S more to read, in my opinion it is scandalous that so many officers have to go abroad. It seems that if one officer goes abroad everyone else has to have a turn. I think the Public Accounts Committee should investigate the number of trips abroad. I do not know whether that would be the correct procedure to adopt but obviously there should be some investigation. A medical man or a bio-chemist would be required to assist in determining whether some of these trips are justifiable. I raise this matter because one Department alone already has sent 34 officers abroad this financial year. I asked that question a month ago and I do not know how many are away now. It seems scandalous to me that the Minister should allow this and not query what is going on. These items are included in the departmental budget so they just send officer after officer. I suppose it is good luck to them that they can get these trips.
This brings me to my final remarks on the first reading of this Bill. I refer to the United Nations. I do not want to go fully into this issue because I have made my position quite clear previously and my stand has since been supported by many writers. Unfortunately I do not have the papers with me but overseas writers have stated in the Press that what I said was virtually correct, that the United Nations is one of the greatest time wasting organisations in the world. I think it was worked out that 490 hours are wasted. It costs $1,000 a minute to run the United Nations and thus you can see that the time wasted costs millions of dollars. One article suggested, quite rightly, that the meeting time of the United Nations could be reduced to a meeting every second year. I suggested that the meeting time of the United Nations could be cut by half because that is virtually the amount of time wasted. I do not want to go into a full discussion of the United Nation:! - I may do that another day - but I want to mention the question of members of Parliament going overseas. Having criticised the departments for sending so many officers overseas I should like now to mention the matter of members of Parliament making overseas trips. I think it is a good thing that they do go overseas - at least I thought it was a good thing that 1 went. I learnt a lot and discovered that many things happen which should not happen.
– Why not send members of the Health Department. They have a more important mission.
– The honourable senator might think that is more important. Perhaps he should raise with other members of the Party the suggestion that members of his Party do not go to the United Nations. I feel that we should clear up some points about visits of members of Parliament to the United Nations. This will not effect me as I have been there and I have seen what happens.
– Do you want to stop somebody else from going?
– No, I do not want to stop them. I want to make it better for them. I propose to state what I think should be done. First, when a member of Parliament goes to the United Nations he has to be away from Australia for 3 months. This is not like the usual parliamentary jaunt where a delegation goes overseas for 6 or 7 weeks. On visits to the United Nations one is away for 3 months. If a member of Parliament is sent there for 3 months I think he should be entitled to take his wife. This is the first matter that should be cleared up. I do not know whether this is within the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the President of this chamber, but I should like the matter to be referred to the
Minister for Foreign Affairs for his consideration. The allowances which are paid to a single man on a visit such as this are quite generous, but in the United States for a married couple the allowance is quite hopeless.
If a member is entitled to take his wife the allowance should be increased. I am not interested in the suggestion that because a public servant cannot have this benefit, members of Parliament should not have it either. I think members of Parliament are way ahead of the Public Service - even Heads of Departments-and 1 think it is time that we took this attitude and made it quite plain that we are not subservient to any public servant. 1 do hot ever want to hear the argument that public servants cannot take their’ wives or members of Parliament cannot do so. That is nonsense: We are above them and let it be well known that we are above them. When you get to the United Nations you are working in a department and. it is their opportunity to get back at you. I am quite Certain that members of. the other place will back up everything that I have said about the treatment that we received. We were practically juniors in some foreign affairs department and were treated as such.
– Where was this?
– In the United Nations. 1 shall give an example in respect of which some honourable senators may not agree with me. At that time the Americas Cup was on. That is a fascinating exercise and one in which any Australian would be interested. When 3 members of Parliament are in New York and only 120 miles are involved you would think that the Mission could provide a car. You have no idea of the difficulties that we had in getting transport to go down to see the Americas Cup because of the expense of providing a car. I do not want to go into the way in which we obtained a car, but we eventually got there. And when we did arrive there, what did we find? Two members of the Navy had been seconded from Washington, all the way up to Newport, to look after Frank Packer and all the other VIPs, to see that they had the right seats, boats and everything else. They stayed there for 6 to 8 weeks. 1 suppose it would be suggested that they were studying - probably the American Coast Guard service - and that would be given as the official reason for their being there. That sum of money could be spent to have 2 members of the Navy at Newport, but in the case of 3 members of Parliament the Ambassador put every obstacle in our way to prevent us going. The situation was ludicrous. As a matter of fact at that time I rang the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr McMahon, while he was in Washington and said that if it was proposed to treat us like children we were walking out.
– What did he say in reply? ‘ ; Senator. . TURNBULL- He was very tactful and said that he would look into the matter. My purpose in mentioning this is- -to improve the - situation -for- members who visit- the United- Nations in future. When members arrive in New York they do not know people. The way to get to know people is by- accepting invitations to attend functions. ‘ In this respect the Mission doe’s- not help at all. Members are listed as political advisers while in New York, and’ that is a wrong name for them. How can one be an adviser to the Government if one is a member of the Labor Party or an Independent. Really we are there as political observers.
The first point I make is that wives should be allowed to go and that members should be given an adequate allowance so that they can live and entertain properly because it is necessary to entertain and if a member takes his wife with him he has to do it out of his own pocket. No money is left over. The second point is that members should be classified as Ministers while they are there. I am not referring to Ministers in the sense of Cabinet Ministers. In the Foreign Affairs Department, once a person has been an ambassador, it is too much to expect him to serve in any other branch of the Department as a first secretary or counsellor, so he is given the title of Minister. It does not matter that in the Army or Navy a person is made a temporary general or admiral and, on relinquishing the post, reverts to his original rank; in the Foreign Affairs Department this just would not do. Consequently, all over the world we have Ministers who are exambassadors. This entitles them to a car. I do not say that members should be entitled to a car, but they should be given the rank for social purposes. It is no good sneering at this sort of thing because on such a visit there is so much social activity at the United Nations that a member has to be in it. If he takes his wife, the only way to eat is by attending all the functions that are given. But you cannot attend the functions because you are a political adviser and they invite only the ambassador and the Minister. So I make this second suggestion and I ask the Minister responsible to bring it to the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The third point is whether members should take an active part in the committees. The British; Canadians and many others do this. I can see a difficulty in this for an Opposition representative because how could he sit on a committee and subjugate his Party’s policy to that of the Government while in that committee? That could be awkward, but where a Goverment member is appointed he should be made part of the delegation itself and should be given a committee to attend. There are 6 committees and there is no reason why Australian members should npt take their place as delegates in the same way as the British and many others. Another point that I raised is the question of making a speech at the United Nations. Although I did not want to do this, I know that one of our members wanted to do so and it is done by members of every delegation other than the Australian delegation. Members of Parliament make a speech, even if it is written out for them, from the podium of the United Nations. I suppose it has some significance if they can say to future generations that they spoke at the United Nations. When I suggested to the Minister that a member of our Party should make a statement it was fantastic to see how he evaded this issue. Finally he gave the poor chap a very small speech to make in a very unimportant committee. The whole purpose of the ambassador seemed to be to keep us well under control.
– He had heard about you.
– I was not asking about it for myself. There were some funny aspects of our visit We had secret meetings and we were all told to rush about and contact as many people as we could to persuade them to vote against China’s admission. I said: ‘But, Mr Ambassador, you do not expect me to do that, do you, because I have been around to try to get them to vote for China.’ There are these problems and they do provide some humour. Another point . about the United Nations is, as happens in every department, that there is this building up. Two years ago there were 12 members of the Australian staff and now there are 24. They recruit people from all over the world. They write to everyone in the Foreign Affairs Department and ask them to come to New York, for 3 months. Of the ones who say yes they hold a ballot and decide who is to come. There are many people who want to go to New York and they go there. It seems to be a complete waste of money when we have 2 representatives on every delegation when the majority of countries have only one. This has become a matter of .status, that we must have bigger and bigger delegations, and so it goes on.
The last matter to which I will refer - it has nothing to do with members of Parliament, but I would like to mention it - is the overblowing of the importance of our own delegation. The security is really laughable. We have. 4 security guards there round the clock, although the building has its own security guards. There are double doors which can be locked but which one could push over. There, is this extra security because the attitude is: ‘We are so important’. I think I mentioned this point in a previous speech. .Some documents are marked ‘confidential’; some are marked restricted’; and so on, These documents have to be put in a special waste paper basket so that they can be shredded and burnt.
One member had inadvertently left a pink sheet, which was a restricted document, on his desk. The next day the administrative officer marched in with the document in a sealed envelope and said: Mr So-and-so, you left this on your desk last night’. He said: ‘Did I?’ He opened the envelope and then said: ‘Yes, I did read this’. The administrative officer then said:
Bui this is a restricted document. You should have put it in that little bucket over there’. What was the restricted document? It was a statement that the Prime Minister had made in the House. This happens time and time again. I took documents to the ambassador and asked: ‘Why is this restricted?’ Perhaps it was a copy of something from Hansard or something that had already appeared in the Australian Broadcasting Commission news information that we had received that morning. This is part of the great build-up and the attitude: What important people we are’.
I do not want to criticise the mission too much. What I am trying to do is to help members who will go there in the future. There are three matters that affect them. The first is that they should be allowed to take their wives and that their wives’ expenses should be paid. Entertainment allowance comes into that if wives’ expenses are paid. The members should be termed Ministers on a temporary basis, while they are there, so that they can have the social status which is so important - in fact, far more important than anything else - in the United Nations.
- Senator Turnbull has addressed himself to the motion for the first reading of the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill. Although his remarks have no relevance to that measure, he is entitled to do so by virtue of the generous Standing Orders of this place. He spoke at some length about his recent visit to the United Nations. On that aspect I wish to say nothing at all. But 1 do desire to reply to some of the matters to which he has referred in connection with the Department of Health.
The first point he raised - actually I am a little at a loss to appreciate the point that he was endeavouring to sustain - was that there should be some reporting to drug companies as to the reasons why their drugs are not regarded as safe or, I presume, as to why there are adverse reactions to those drugs, which are found by the Committee concerned. The committee which has a broad responsibility to consider the safety of drugs is the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. That Committee is established under the Therapeutic Goods Regulations, and it has a wide and roving charter. It has an obligation to eval uate data on new drugs which are produced or proposed to be distributed in Australia. It also has the function of monitoring the adverse reactions .of drugs which are currently available.
This Committee is not a departmental committee. It is an independent committee established under the Regulations, without any departmental representation. Its members are eminent medical practitioners and pharmacologists. It is very important - I do not suggest for one moment that Senator Turnbull does not recognise the necessity for this Committee-
– The Therapeutic Substances Committee is the one that deals with the matter I raised. I may have given you the wrong name.
– I note Senator Turnbull’s comment. It adds point to the statement I made earlier, namely, that I lacked the ability to get the point that Senator Turnbull was endeavouring to make. As far as the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee is concerned, in the course of his remarks I sought some information in order to ascertain precisely what he was referring to; and the position is that this Committee does report to the various companies whose drugs are found to be unsafe or in respect of whose drugs adverse reactions are recorded. There is a general discussion, which takes place between the Committee and representatives of the drug companies concerned, as to why the Committee has reported adversely on the drug concerned.
I do not think it is a question of making these reports public, because to make them public would involve the Committee in controversy, it would raise an interest which possibly it is wiser not to raise and it might encourage experimentation, which is to be avoided.
– You do not have to make them public.
– I appreciate that Senator Turnbull was not really urging that they be made public. But he was urging that something be done along the lines of the publicity that attended his efforts with regard to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee during the debate on the National Health Bill last year.
All I can say is that, if Senator Turnbull is concerned to produce a case that indicates clearly the committee to which he is referring and the disadvantages that he can adduce as flowing from present procedures, I certainly am prepared to have a took at it. But I say with all respect to him that I did not follow the point that he was endeavouring to make.
– Your departmental officers should have told you that I had made a mistake. But they shut up; they did not say a word. That is what they are there for.
– I do not desire to respond to that interjection, except to say that by interjection 1 sought to elicit information and I was informed that the honourable senator was referring to the Drug Evaluation Committee. So I sought from the officers with me information about the Drug Evaluation Committee andI have been supplied with information which, as I understand the position, is not disputed by Senator Turnbull. However, I repent what I said earlier: In the area with which he is concerned, if he seeks to give me the information and the arguments he would use to support his case and to show a positive benefit, I certainly will be prepared to examine it.
The second aspect that Senator Turnbull raised was concerned with the problems under our national health scheme in relation to the supply of spectacles and the preceding consultations which are given by ophthalmologists and optometrists. It is a fact that if a person goes to an ophthalmologist, who is a specialist eye doctor, and as a result of a consultation obtains spectacles, he will not be able to recover, under the medical benefits segment of the national health scheme, any proportion of the cost of that consultation. Naturally, he is unable to recover Commonwealth Benefit for the cost of the spectacles.
It does seem to be a paradox that under ahealth scheme which is designed, in its medical benefits segment, to ensure that the cost of the services of medical practitioners can be insured against there should be this exception. But I think it has been well established over the years that the reason for the exception - it has been in the National Health Act for a number of years - is that optometrists are engaged in the provision of spectacles and the performance of refractory work and it is largely to prevent the ophthalmologist from obtaining an advantage in a competitive field over the optometrist that this provision has been inserted.
– You have been misadvised. The ophthalmologist is not paid for spectacles, only for ordering them.
– I appreciate the distinction which Senator Turnbull draws, but I do not think it affects the broad proposition I am making. These people are in competitive and comparable activities. If one was to receive a benefit, the other would be denied it. If the patient of an ophthalmologist was’ granted a benefit the patient of an optometrist would be denied it. Patients would be discriminated against; similarly optometrists would be discriminated against. I appreciate the paradox which that position reveals. Nevertheless, it is an essential part of the present scheme pending the finalisation of the Government’s review as to whether, and if so in what way, some assistance can be given for the ancillary fields, the paramedical fields not only of optometry but also physiotherapy, chiropractics and others.
The Nimmo Committee recommended consideration of a means whereby persons could insure themselves with respect to costs in the paramedical field. The Government has indicated that it is examining the matter. I am sure honourable senators will appreciate that it is a field of vast dimensions and that any review takes time. Ultimately the basic question to be faced is the cost of these provisions, and the Government’s constant concern is to endeavour to keep down the costs to the patient and to the Government in all the complementary assistance it gives to help a patient to hold his medical bills at a level as low and reasonable as is possible.
The third point raised by Senator Turnbull related to the activities, or alleged lack of activities, on the part of the Government in taking action to cut down cigarette smoking. I repudiate, although surely it ought not to be necessary to do so, the allegation made by Senator Turnbull and. by others that the Government is in the pay of the tobacco companies.
– God forbid.
– It is very easy to make such glib assertions. I can imagine that if the Opposition was accused, because of a particular stance which it took, of being in the pay of a particular company or group which stood to benefit by what the Opposition was doing, it would legitimately take offence. I have heard offence taken in the Senate in . similar circumstances. J believe that if people are prepared to make a statement such as that made by Senator Turnbull and to. repeat and to reiterate it inside and outside Parliament, it ought to be nailed. I will nail such statements on .every occasion because there is absolutely no truth in . the imputation behind the statement that the Government in some way is being helped or financed by tobacco companies.
– 1 apologise and accept your refutation, but tell us why the Government is not acting.
– 1 accept Senator Turnbull’s statement, but I sense that a distinction needs to be recognised between the fact that there is a connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, heart disease and allied injuries to health, and the action which ought to be taken with regard to cutting down the risk that cigarette smokers undergo. These are separate fields. I said in the Senate yesterday in answer to a question that the advice of reputable medical people ought to be heeded and that as far as possible the greatest publicity should be given to the. statements of people who emphasise, establish and point to the risks which people run when smoking cigarettes. That is medical fact and I feel it should be given the widest publicity. Having made that fact known, and I do not believe that many Australians are unaware that they run the risk of injury to their health by smoking cigarettes, 1 believe it is up to the individual Australian to determine for himself what he will do. Whether a person smokes cigarettes is essentially a personal matter. It is a question of an individual’s own responsibility and the way in which he discharges his obligation to himself and to those who are dependent upon him, whether he is prepared to run this risk.
I do not believe that government can ban successfully the smoking of cigarettes or the sale of cigarettes. I do not believe that government by any device with regard to advertising could succeed in stopping people from smoking, because if people want to smoke they will smoke. I think that people in the education field should be concerned to make Australians, aware of the risks they run by smoking cigarettes. I hope that publicity will be given to statements such as those made last week by Professor Nossal, and that on all possible occasions publicity will be given to - the statements of people who, by virtue of their authority and eminence in the field in which they practice, can point to the connection between cigarette smoking and the diseases that flow from it.
In the sense that Senator Turnbull here today has taken advantage of the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill to raise this matter, I hope that what he says will be heeded, but I do not accept that what he says with regard’ to the necessary or desirable means of trying to stop people smoking is at all a logical or necessary consequence from the initial points he raised. If the evil of cigarette smoking is as great as Senator Turnbull says it is, one might suppose that the effective course is to prohibit smoking, or the sale of cigarettes. Yet that is not the argument raised by Senator Turnbull and it is not the argument raised by those concerned in this field. It is argued that an intermediate step should be taken, that a warning label should be placed on cigarette packets. On that view the Government has indicated that for the Australian Capital Territory it will be prepared to enact that legislation when the States which have agreed to it have enacted similar legislation in their own States. It would be pointless for the Commonwealth to act in the A.C.T. when the major sources of supply and distribution are outside the Territory.
Another suggestion of an intermediate character is that a ban should be placed on cigarette advertising on television. I would have thought that the only reason people could properly advance in support of that argument is the one advanced by Senator Turnbull - that other countries in the world have done so, particularly the United States of America. I am surprised by the way in which people castigate the Government for slavishly following United States policy on this and that issue, whether it is true or not. But on this issue they urge with all the determination they have that we must follow what the United States is doing. I hope that there is more consistency and more study of the desirability of some of the proposals that have been advanced than has been given to the question of banning cigarette advertising. It is a complex matter. I repeat what I have said before. It is not a question only of whether a ban will be effective, as the rights of individuals are also involved, as is the revenue which the Government derives.
I sense that the aspect of personal responsibility is fundamental to this question. The basic premise upon which Senator Turnbull and others rest their case that cigarette advertising on television should be banned is the risk that a person runs by smoking cigarettes. I suggest to him that more people die from injuries received in road accidents than die as a result of lung cancer or other diseases which can be attributed to cigarette smoking. An extension of the argument used by Senator Turnbull is that people should not ride in or drive motor cars as the risk of injury or death is much greater if they do. How a person drives a car is a matter of personal responsibility because he knows that he can risk damage and harm to others as well as harm to himself.
– Does the honourable senator think that is a fair analogy? One situation is a certainty and another is problematical.
– I cannot see the distinction which Senator Prowse draws. This matter gets back essentially to one of personal responsibility. In the case of a motor car it is personal responsibility affecting not only oneself but also others. In the case of a person who smokes cigarettes it is a personal responsibility peculiar to himself. I have not yet heard of a person through his craving for cigarettes involving others in any anti-social conduct.
– Is it not a question of encouraging the taking of a personal risk?
– I sense, possibly following what Senator Rae is pointing to, that the main area in which activity should be undertaken is health education. Education in the schools is, I think, doing a tremendous amount to inform people of the hazards of smoking. I believe that is where the real effort should be made. The Education Departments in the States are doing that. I feel it is a large question. As Senator Turnbull was inclined to pass over any real connection between the sort of remedies he was urging and the type of risk which he acknowledged existed I thought it was appropriate to make some points which I hope have some relevance to what he said. This is an area in which there is a constant study and in which government activity has been concerned to try to cut down the activity of the cigarette companies which advertise where that advertising can affect younger people. I trust that in due course I shall be able to make an announcementabout the voluntary code which the companies and the television stations haveaccepted with regard to. cigarette advertising. In terms of argument I do not see the. point which has been made by Senator Turnbull, that there is a need for a total banning of cigarette advertising.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) adjourned.
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 the machinery necessary forthe collection of the levy imposed by the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill 1971. The effect of the Bill is that the incidence of the levy will fall on the owner of the pig at time of slaughter. Provisions are also incorporated to cater for persons who regularly purchase pigs for slaughter. The Bill provides for the Act to become operative on. the same date as the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill. In earlier legislation relating to similar Bills the Parliament debated certain causes which called into question matters of ‘law and justice’. These referred to right of access to premises and the time limits to commence prosecutions for offences under the Act. In the Bill now before the Senate the. relevant clauses have been amended to take note of the opinions expressed in the Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.5 p.m.
Debate resumed from 28 April (vide page1105), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
– In the time since the debate on the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill was adjourned last evening, it has crossed my mind to ask why this legislation was introduced. Going right back to 1926, I remember a Federal election that was fought on law and order. There was one other election in my lifetime fought on the same issue but I forget when it was. The first one concerned a strike of British seamen. Mr Bruce was the Prime Minister of Australia at that time and Matthew Charlton, the then member for Hunter, was the leader of the Labor Party. The election was fought on law and order. I do not want to recount the results of the election. Then one other election -I cannot recall when it was - was fought on the same issue. So I asked myself: Why was this legislation introduced? Was it brought in for the purpose of another election campaign? Of course, at the time there was trouble in the Government ranks. No-one was sure who would be Prime Minister of the country. If the exPrime Minister had had an astute political adviser he would still be Prime Minister. After all, you can do no more in politics than win. With all the aeroplanes at his disposal he could have brought that chap down from Townsville. But history now shows that the present Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, came on the scene.
Just prior to allthis,MrBob Hawke, on behalf of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which he represents, entered the retail trade and had a slight altercation with the biggest manufacturing firm in Australia, British Tobacco Co. (Aust.) Ltd. During the course of his speech Senator Webster said that Mr Hawke wanted to purchase goods at his own price. The longer one is in this chamber with Senator Webster the more . one realises that although he is a nice young fellow he has one Very bad fault, his tongue just rattles off without any facts.
– When you started your speech this afternoon and said that you were thinking a lot to yourself, I had grave doubts about you .
-I donot mind Senator Webster having grave doubts at any time because no-one will take any notice . of his grave doubts. Senator Webster said that Mr Hawke desired that the retail firm with which the ACTU had become affiliated obtain goods at Mr Hawke’s prices. That was totally wrong. All Mr Hawke said to British Tobacco, which I suggest is one of the biggest retail firms in this country with all its ramifications, was: ‘You had’ better give us the right to buy the goods and we will sell them at the price at which we want to sell them. Then I thought that perhaps this Bill was in the minds of people who thought that this move of Mr Hawke’s would precipitate a tremendous industrial crisis in the nation. But we do not fight strikes today as we fought them in the years gone by. Even the trade union movement has learnt from experience.
– It is more like blackmail today.
– That is a very nasty term. Honourable senators in the Country Party may use it in politics because they just sit in the corner over there without a political thought ever crossing their minds, except for the proposal they submitted recently, that probate duty should be abolished. If all country people want probate duty abolished and succeed in having it abolished, people in metropolitan areas will have to pay double. I do not know whether the honourable senator is engaged in the dairying industry as well as the timber industry. No doubt he is engaged in rural industries. I thought it was most improper that a person should ask for an Act of Parliament or an executive decision from which he would stand to gain in a roundabout way. I thought that surely the honourable senator would npt reach the stage of asking the Government to reduce or abolish probate duty so that he would gain thereby.
– Pecuniary interest.
– I do not even say that about my friend. 1 think he just made a slip of the tongue. However, I am giving the Senate my ideas on why I thought this Bill was introduced. Senator Webster used the word ‘blackmail’. Well, who blackmails whom, or what? That is a very nasty term for the honourable senator to use. It is easy for him to use it in this chamber. Even I can say nasty things at times, but I do not want to say nasty things this afternoon. 1 give this bit of advice to the honourable senator, because he is not a bad boy: Cut out that blackmail stuff because in the first place it is not right. All the ACTU said to- British Tobacco was: ‘You will serve our store with your goods. We will, pay what you ask and we will sell them at our price.’ How can it be said that that was blackmail? It was the simplest strike ever won in the history of our State. ‘ The ACTU merely said to the members of the Transport Workers Union: ‘You by pass any of the firms connected with British Tobacco’.
– British Tobacco is Dunlop’s. Within 2 or 3 days the mighty Mr Dunshea, who is the head of the lot, did the sensible thing and said: ‘I cannot win’.
– ‘Blackmail has got me beaten.’
– It was not blackmail.
– That is what any gang of thugs would say.
– The honourable senator does not like having his nose rubbed in the dirt. Anyway, the ACTU took the simple way out, and Mr Hawke said to the transport drivers: ‘Do not go there. Carry on with your work. You will get paid and we will get our goods.’
– The protection racket.
-=-Senator Prowse says that it is a protection racket. When the Government was first introducing the Trade Practices Bill the very people whom Mr Hawke confronted or their like, put enough pressure on the Government to force it to take out of the proposed Bill the clause dealing with price maintenance. By applying a little bit of the power that it had the ACTU cut out this practice of resale price maintenance.
I have thought about the purpose behind the introduction of this Bill. It seems that the bad judges on the Government side of the chamber - and ‘ they are all badjudges - thought there would be a tremendous industrial upheaval at about the time of the introduction of this legislation. Honourable senators opposite used to take out the flag and wrap it around them, but now they do not. As the Yanks are getting friendly with the Russians, I suppose that the Corns are not as good a riding horse as they were. The Government is now worrying about relations with China. The Government must be getting a bit short of material with which to fool the people of Australia. Who wrote the words: ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’? I suppose that my learned friend on my right, Senator James McClelland, would be able to tell me who wrote them. They are famous words. The waving of the flag is not as good an issue as it was on which to fool the people of Australia. As I said last night-4 will not walk away from anything I have said - I do not think that anybody has a right to be a nuisance or to deface property, but the reason why there are protesters today is the legislation that the Government is a party to. As I have said before, if we were involved in a war in which we believed we would have no need to go. to the extent to which the Government has gone. If the Government wants to bring in conscription, which is distasteful, to the Australian Labor Party, and1 it has the numbers it can bring it in, but it should be conscription for all. The Government is taking young fellows out of the community, by its famous ballot box method and the people of Australia are up in arms in protest.
On reading through the Bill I was amazed at some of the wording contained therein. My thoughts were verified by Senator James McClelland in the excellent speech he made last night. The legislation refers to persons assembling on protected premises or at a place in the vicinity of protected premises. I can only repeat the question which Senator James McClelland asked, which was: What distance is meant by the word ‘vicinity’? The Minister for Health (Senator Greenwood), who represents in this . chamber the AttorneyGeneral, is a lawyer of distinction in my own city of Melbourne. He may be able to tell me how far away from these premises people can safely assemble. What is meant by the word ‘vicinity’? Has it ever been defined in law or in common sense? Does it mean 5 yards, 10 yards or 20 yards?
– Or 10 miles.
– Or, as my colleague interjected, a much greater distance. The Opposition believes that this matter ought to be explained. As’ Senator James McClelland pointed out, the Bill is covered by legislation which is already on the statute book. Nobody can go into a Commonwealth building today and commit an offence which is contrary to the Crimes Act or to any other legislation, Commonwealth or State, and get away with it if the authorities do not want him to get away with it. One of the Opposition’s great objections has always been the fact that the Government prosecutes the weak and lets the strong go free. As I pointed out last night, it put 5 women into Fairlea prison. It may be their fault for going where they went. You certainly would not get me going to gaol if I had an opportunity to get out of doing so. However, the fact of the matter is that other people went up to one of these Commonwealth offices a few days later-
– The same one.
– Yes it was the same one, and they did exactly the same thing.
– No, they did not.
– Yes, they did. They gave out handbills in the same way.
– And they were given a cup of tea.
– Yes, they were given a cup of tea. Fancy them being given a cup of tea while the women had to go to gaol for doing the same thing. I happen to know personally one of these women. I do not like her politics, but I hate to think that we have laws in this country that put 5 women into Fairlea prison but allowed a federal member of Parliament to get away with committing the same offence. It should not be thought that I am advocating that he ought to have gone in. I think he was a bit silly to put himself in the position where he might have gone in. I would not do that. AH I am asking is: Why did the Government allow others to get away with breaking the same law that the 5 women broke? That’ is not the only example of the Government failing to administer the law. Some people are prosecuted today for burning their draft cards and others are not.. Is it any wonder that there are people today who are protesting against the unfairness of these laws and the administration of them? Some people believe that protests should not be voiced, but honourable senators on this side of the chamber know better: Where would the average worker be today if he had sat down and taken everything that the Government, the arbitration tribunals or anybody else gave him? The only reason workers are getting: a bit of their own back now is because of the employment situation at present. If one traces the industrial history of this country one finds that antiLabor governments have done as they liked with the workers; but things are changing today. I was rather intrigued by clause 6 of the Bill, which relates to assemblies involving violence or the apprehension of violence. I will quote it. I commence at the middle of clause 6. It reads:
Who is the clairvoyant who is going to say that something will happen?
– The apprehension by an officer of the Crown is based on the common law of the land, which has been decided by judges over the years.
– I shall read the clause again for the benefit of my most esteemed friend opposite. I will read clause 6 from the beginning for his benefit. It states:
Where persons taking part in an assembly that is in a Territory or is wholly or partly on Commonwealth premises conduct themselves, , in the Territory or on the Commonwealth Premises, in a way that gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that the assembly win . .
It does not say that the persons have done something, lt just says that they will do something. Who can tell me what I will do or say in 5 minutes time?
– That certainly is unpredictable.
– It may be. I do not disagree. We are being asked to pass legislation that may be the means by which certain people are fined or imprisoned. T shall read another clause.
– Can I ask you a question?
– I would be pleased to answer the honourable senator.
– This is germane to the whole of your argument. If a policeman sees or thinks he sees someone attempting to break into a premise, he has a reasonable apprehension that the person is about to commit a felony and he arrests him.
– That is altogether different. As much as I like my colleague from Victoria, and I know thai the feeling is mutual, he cannot say that the cases are parallel. If someone intended to break into the golf house at Albert Park and if the police apprehended him, I would be on the side of the police. The honourable senator would know that. He cannot say that the cases are parallel. Clause 8 refers to the dispersal of certain assemblies, lt states: . . persons taking pan in the assembly have conducted themselves in a way that has caused a member of a Police Force of the rank of Sergeant …
Is there any reason to stop there? Does the attainment of the rank of sergeant give a person more knowledge so that he is in a more advantageous position to know what might happen than if he were of a rank under sergeant?
– Simply because being a more senior and a more experienced man his apprehensions may be more reasonable.
– That may be so, but that assumption does not hold in normal law cases.
– Yes, it does.
– It does not. I am certain that if the Minister were defending a person he would know that that party would have to answer for his conduct whether he was apprehended by a constable, a senior constable or a sergeant.
– That is an added protection given to the demonstrators.
– Now our friends are coming in, too. The clause continues:
It does not say ‘if a person commits a crime’. I do not agree with these people who go mad in buildings and affect the liberty of persons. . The clause is drawn in such a manner that it places a lot of onus on the police. Even Senator Byrne, another man of legal attainments of a high order, would not agree-
– It does place a responsibility on the sergeant.
– I agree. 1 say that to know what this legislation means one has to look at the crystal ball and ask whether a person will do this, do that or will he stop. Therefore the constable should be given the credit that is due to a number of men in the force. We have had a little trouble in Victoria with the police. That is why I said ‘a number’.
– You would not judge all policemen by that. I know you too well.
– Not at all. I would not judge all members of our friend’s Party by his interjection.
– I would not expect you to, but others might.
– I am glad that the honourable senator would not expect me to do so. 1 think the Government will have to give a tremendous amount of consideration - if it wants a new Bill - to answering the case submitted by my colleague from New South Wales, Senator James McClelland. With his wonderful legal training, he documented his case into categories’ A, B, C and D. Even my young friend at the table, the Minister for Health, who has a very bright future in this game, will have some trouble in answering Senator James’ McClelland’s case. I deal now with clause 9. ft states:
A person who, in a Territory or on Commonwealth premises, while taking part in an assembly, engages in unreasonable obstruction is guilty of an offence . . .
Who is to be the judge of what is unreasonable? lt is one of those nice words such as. those in the phrase ‘in the vicinity of. I think that words which are inserted into legislation and which could mean gaol sentences for people who believe they have a case - and I hope that they do not go’ over the mark - should be able to be interpreted. How can anyone prove what is an ‘ unreasonable obstruction?
– There is a definition clause, clause 4, which helps.
-r-Clause 4 covers it, I am told. .
– I do not think it defines what is an unreasonable obstruction.
– I do not think it does. I will have to take back a lot of the nice words I said about the Minister if he has put me on the wrong track.
– What is the term to which you are ‘referring?
– I am referring to an unreasonable obstruction.
– It is defined.
– I thought you were listening to my speech last night.
– I was.
– It is defined in clause 4.
– I am sorry for what I said about the Minister. The definition states:
Unreasonable obstruction’ means an act or thing done by a person that constitutes, or contributes to, an obstruction of, or interference with, the exercise of enjoyment: by. other persons of their lawful rights or privileges (including rights of passage along the public streets) where, having regard to all the circumstances’ of the obstruction ‘ or interference, including its place, lime, duration and nature, it constitutes an unreasonable obstruction or interference, and ‘unreasonably obstructs’ has a corresponding meaning. .
All I want to say, with the greatest respect, is that to me that is as -clear as mud. I thought the Minister would: say that he . would expect that, but he is being kind to me. He has let me off this time. 1 will go a . little further. ,
– You do not have much more ‘time.
– I know. 1 suppose I had better finish soon. All I am saying is this-
– You have another half an hour. ‘
– 1 do not want to take it. All I want to say is that this is foolish legislation. It is foolish legislation ‘ because in the end .it will, cause people to have a ‘ disrespect for the law. 1 do not want people to have disrespect for law; I believe and have believed for many years that there is only one place in which our laws should be made and that is in the parliaments of this country, whatever political party may be in control of them. I do not want people outside the parliaments, however well meaning -and however good their point of view may be, to think that they make the laws. When laws are made I want them obeyed as the law says they are to be obeyed. I want any alterations to be made in the Parliament.
– Hear, hear!
– I must be going all right today. I say to the Government:- . Do not pass laws that you know the people will break. You know that people will break this law if it is passed. I never marched in the moratorium. It was not because I am opposed to those who did. Honourable senators know my feelings about Vietnam. I think it is an awful thing. But I know that young people are concerned about this matter. If I had a son bordering on 20 years of age there is no doubt I’ would have marched if I could have saved him from going to Vietnam. Honourable senators may say that that is a selfish point of view. However, the fact is that the Government is seeking to pass a law and that, as in the case of other Acts that it has passed, it will not administer portions of that law. 1 am not opposed to Part HI of the Bill which refers to ‘Provisions relating to Diplomatic and Consular Premises and Personnel and International Organisations’. 1 believe these places and persons should be protected. I have my own opinion about diplomatic personnel breaking traffic laws and that sort of thing. I think that common sense ought to prevail. If people in this category drive cars on our highways there is some responsibility placed on them to obey the rules. As far as I. know, the majority of these people do. But I remember a case of one of these consular cars being the cause of a serious accident. According to all reports, the driver was at fault. In the main, Australia believes in the convention that gives protection to these people while they are here, irrespective of who they are, even South Africans. I am a great lover of cricket and I hope that wiser counsels will prevail and that the South African cricket team will not come to Australia. I say that only because the South African Government has been stupid. If that Government had allowed the responsible cricket control people, to include in its team the 2 players that they wanted, who would have thought anything of it?
– They did not interfere with the tennis team that came here but you had the same kind of demonstration.
– The fact is that the South African Government has done so. I am surprised at the honourable senator who, over the years, has backed the Americans in everything. Now he evidently forgets that the South African Government refused admission to a tennis player by the name of Mr Ashe. The honourable senator cannot have it both ways. It is true that the South Africans let our Aboriginal girl play tennis in their country. All I say is that I believe the cricket tour will lapse and I regret it because I will not be able to see some of the best cricketers in the world. I think the South African Government ought to have a bit of common sense and let the cricket council pick the cricketers. Then we will pay to go and see them play.
– Where are they going to play the matches in Melbourne?
– I have one vote so far as one ground is concerned and my friend also has a vote. He will cancel out my vote. As a member of the standing committee of the great ground I can certainly tell you how my vote will go. I would hate not to see the South Africans play here. I hope the South African Government will act with a bit of common sense and let the cricketing authorities include the 2 fellows that they want in the team. I- hear they are nowhere near as good as the Pollocks. I hear they are nowhere near as good as the fellow who played in South Australia last year. He was knocked up from making hundreds.
I say quite candidly that the Government was going to use this Bill for other purposes. It believed its timing was good. I thought that the former Prime Minister would have taken the bit in his teeth, brought that chap down from Townsville and taken a vote. He would have had the numbers and in this game of politics you only have to win by one. If you win by more than one it takes longer to thank them. Fancy 4 or 5 people saying to me in years gone by when I had a bit of say in the Australian Labor Party that they would vote against something. I would have said: ‘Brother, you jump the hurdle and we will deal later’. However, all that has gone by the board.
Why has the Government introduced this Bill? It will not put it into operation. Perhaps I should not say that it will not use the legislation but that it will use it in the main only against small people who cannot kick back. I am not opposed to that portion of the Bill relating to the diplomatic corps but I want to go on to Part IV which deals with general matters. I see now that there has been a reduction in rank and that the Bill now refers not to a sergeant of police but to a constable.
– What about the sergeants?
– I was saying, Senator Young, that apparently the Government knew that it had run out of officers. This Part refers now to a constable. Clause 22 of the Bill states:
A constable may, without warrant, arrest a person if the constable has reasonable ground to believe that the person has committed an offeree against this Act.
So that 1 will not make the mistake I made earlier I had better turn the page and see what the Bill says about ‘reasonable ground’.
– What is the definition of the word ‘reasonable’?
– I have not seen it. Perhaps my friend the Minister would tell us. I cannot see it. I take it from my swift glance that it is hot included in the Bill. Now, why should the constable have a ‘reasonable ground’? He should either have a ground or should leave the person alone. Senator Rae may have a totally different idea of what is reasonable from the ohe I have. “Incidentally, I compliment him on the job he is doing with the share brokers. He is going pretty well.
– It is a matter . of what is reasonable.
– Yes. What is reasonable? I think the Minister ought to answer at least that question about the Bill. I think he went on to’ say that the Government had repealed certain enactments made by Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Charles II, George I and George III. When I saw the reference to Richard I thought I was getting confused with footballers. No-one could object to these enactments being repealed. They have been on the statute books for too long and have never been brought into operation. In an attempt to solve their consciences in respect of much that is wrong in the first part of the Bill it is proposed to repeal those old laws. I say with great respect that this Bill will make bad law. It is legislation for which there is no need because there areplenty of Acts of Parliament, both Federal and State, which will achieve what the Government is seeking to do. Now that this measure cannot be used to the Government’s benefit in the next election campaign because the suggestion is that the next election will not be as soon as some honourable senators opposite may like it to be, I suggest that the Government would be unwise to proceed with the legislation. I propose to read from the leading article which appeared in the ‘Age’ on Thursday, 18th March 1971. I have read the ‘Age’ for a long time. It has always been against conservative governments until a fortnight before an election, at which time it has always, throughout its whole life, found some reason to say that people had still better vote for that government. After abusing the government for years, at election time it comes out in support of the government. The leading article, under the heading ‘Breaking silence’ states:
The timing is curious,, to say the least. For some months now, not only the rowdy elements among demonstrators but also the noisy politicians who ride the law-and-order bandwagon have been mercifully quiet.
God forbid that I should ever try to apply that description to any honourable senator. The article continues:
The debate about Australia’s role in Vietnam centres mainly around how to .end it and consequently some of. the heat is going out of the conscription issue. Apart from that, politicians were quick to note that the New South Wales Government–
That is the Askin Government - burned its fingers with the law-and-order issue in a by-election last year. But on Tuesday the Federal Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) broke the silence to introduce new Commonwealth public order .legislation. . .t
I heard last night that he was no longer the Attorney-General. He was one of those short-term men. The article continues:
The measures he outlined provide rebels with a cause. And not only rebels. There is reason for anyone concerned about the preservation of the right to dissent to be apprehensive about some of the provisions. Also, extremists whose tactics are to court repression could find some aspects of the legislation are well suited -to’- their purpose. Particularly dangerous is the provision under which a police sergeant may decide if ari assembly could involve physical violence’ or property damage. Those demonstrators who do not share the sergeant’s opinion or powers of prediction and who do not disperse within IS minutes face a fine of $500 or 6 months’ gaol or both.
If there are loopholes in the law regarding Commonwealth-occupied premises in the States and diplomats and their - premises then it is reasonable to plug them. But Mr Hughes was on shaky ground when he justified some of the provisions with the explanation that they represented ‘a substantial mitigation of existing statutory penalties’. The provision which in effect enables a police sergeant to declare an assembly unlawful replaces one which in some instances attracted a penalty’ of 21 years’ gaol, Mr Hughes points out. But there is a world of difference between an absurdly excessive provision lying unused and a brand new (and questionable) one which clearly has .the blessing of the Government. Certainly the. community must be protected from harm and undue inconvenience in demonstrations, but in the long term it ls the community which will be harmed if dissent is unduly suppressed.
I am not one of those who pin their faith or beliefs in newspaper articles by leader or sub-leader writers, but I accept that what they state is usually a reasonable assumption. I hope that wiser counsels will prevail in respect of this legislation and that the Government will forget it. 1 suggest that it should put into operation the legislation which is already on the statute book. I believe that more will be achieved by. doing that than by continuing with this legislation, the effect of- which is likely to put into gaol a number of people whose only crime might be that they, were demonstrating against repressive legislation.
– I should think ° that the re would not’ be an honourable senator in’ this chamber who would not join me m the congratulations that I convey to Senator James McClelland on his first address to the Senate.’ It was a very thoughtful address which “in essence dealt with many matters” contained in this Bill. Also I should think that there would not be a member of this chamber who was not gravely concerned about the legislation that we -are now considering and who could not turn his mind back over a lifetime and be able to understand why at this point we seem to need to strengthen the laws in relation to public order, laws which for the lifetime of most of us older senatorsthis would be the majority of us - have seemed to serve lis very well.
During the debate Senator James McClelland drew attention to the fact that we have had periods of great public celebration and great public stress when the police have been able to handle the problems of law and order quite adequately. He referred to royal visits and other occasions when the police have found it necessary, in the interests of the community in general, to ask persons tq move on or groups to disperse, and he said that on those occasions the people have always obeyed the authority of the law and there has been no trouble. However, I would remind the honourable senator that, things have changed quite dramatically in this regard in the last 5 years or so. If we analyse the situation I think we must appreciate that there is current in our community a philosophy that if a person holds strong opinions of a specific character the ends justify the means. I disagree with my friend Senator Kennelly who seems to be inclined to the view that the only issue involved is national service or the Vietnam war, in respect of which there have been many occasions during which there has been disorder. At the moment situations of this kind, involving the safety and security of the public, develop in relation to all sorts of unrelated national and international questions, such as land rights for Aboriginals or the policy towards the coloured -people in some other country ,- such as Africa.
Disorder is not confined to one specific question. Demonstrations are now reaching a stage where the community, as well as the Parliament, has proof that it is necessary, to take some steps before the situation deteriorates still further, if we are to pre* serve a semblance of the law and order which we’ have known during great public celebrations* and as part of our public life. I join -issue with Senator James McClelland on something that he said which I think is unfair to good Australians and. unfair to” a particular section of the Austraiian community to which I have always belonged. I refer to the working people of Australia. Today there is a definite public campaign to belittle our police forces by accusing them of brutality and implying that their motives in . helping to maintain law and order are, if not misguided, deliberately wrong. Senator James McClelland said in the course of his speech:
We do not hear of people being arrested for blocking the streets during a visit by the Pope or the Queen or while disporting themselves at some of our regional mardi gras such as the Moomba festival or the Waratah festival . . .
I think he makes a statement of fact there. On these sorts of occasions, when the police give a direction to a crowd of people they axe obeyed. It is one of the fundamentals of maintaining law and order that people have respect for the police. I believe that we, who are charged with the public responsibility of making the laws of the country, should be the last to undermine the respect of the community at large for a very hard working body of men in all the States of the Commonwealth who happen to have the obnoxious task of maintaining the law and order that all of us wish to see maintained and who are employees of ours. I despise the boss or the taxpayer who wants to go out and demean his own public servants. But Senator James McClelland went on to say:
I have no doubt that on Anzac Day, as on St Patrick’s Day, May Day or Eight Hour Day, there- are those who exceed what is wise. I believe that Senator James McCIelland’s choice of Anzac Day as an isolated occasion to demonstrate the point was itself unwise. I am certain that on reflection he will agree with me because the circumstances he outlined apply to many other occasions. It has been one of the prides of this country that our police forces in general have always adopted a commonsense approach to situations that develop on those occasions - an approach of which we all, as taxpayers who employ them, have publicly approved. But Senator James McClelland then ventured into an area in which I do not agree with him. I would like him to reflect upon what he said. He said:
But it is quite different when the public demonstration is disapproved of by the police, goaded on by their own prejudices or inflamed by the media or sooled on by some politician who is looking for an electoral law and order issue, such as Mr Asian was doing . . .
I am unaffected by his criticism of Mr Askin who, like us, is a politician. He is fair game for anybody. But to suggest that every working policeman who goes to a demonstration charged with the responsibility, under his officers and his superiors, of preserving law and order allows his own opinions or prejudices, should he have them, to interfere with the manner in which he carries out his duties, in my opinion, is completely unfair, without unequivocal proof that what is said applies to all the members of the force and without referring to specific instances in which it can be proved.
Have honourable senators ever considered what happens in many instances? Let me take as an instance in point the demonstration outside the American Embassy on American Independence Day. Students arrived armed with the necessary things to defeat the police activity to maintain public order, such as marbles to throw under the hoofs of the troopers’ horses, long sticks that could be used as offensive weapons-
– And gasolene. I will have more to say about gasolene in this context in a moment. It is unfair to suggest that on that occasion all the police were prejudiced against the demonstrators, when anyone would know that there was a distinct possibility that a policeman on duty could find that his own son was among the demonstrators. These men go there to do their duty, and they do it as instructed by their superiors. I believe that we, in the Parliament of the nation, should be the last to help to undermine the confidence of the community in the police forces that we employ to do the job which the rest of the community desires them to do, , which needs to be done and which we are not in a position to do ourselves.
When we get back to the basic philosophy in relation to this matter, namely, that the end justifies the means, I believe that we should consider one of the simplest and one of the first incidents in this field. A victory was claimed, particularly by Dr Cairns of the Labor Party, in that he defeated a law in Melbourne which bad for its purpose the prevention of the littering of the streets, and that he and anyone else are now free to distribute whatever leaflets they like to anyone, whether the people concerned want to receive them or not, on the streets of Melbourne. It was put before the people as a great principle of democracy that people should have this right and that the anti-litter law should not interfere with it. Let us analyse this point. In this country we have always had the right to distribute literature of any shape or form and to advocate anything that we want to advocate. We used to do it in the Australian Labor Party, as did people in the other political parties. We worked hard putting leaflets into people’s letter boxes where people could find them. We distributed them in an orderly manner. The people could take them out of their letter boxes and read them, if they so desired, or throw them away.
But that was not considered sufficient. People had to be able to get into a high concentration of population, which made it so much easier for those who wished to express their point of view to do so. I do not blame them for wanting to do that. But was it for the public good that, because one person, 100 persons or 1,000 persons wanted to express their point of view to other people by means of printed literature, placing leaflets in people’s letter boxes was considered not- a sufficient right and privilege and they had to be enabled to do it, whether people wanted the leaflets or not, in a public place by thrusting them in front of every passer-by? From practical experience we know that 90 per cent of passers-by refuse to accept leaflets and they drop to the footway, which creates public litter which has to be cleared at public expense.
I disagreed with Dr Cairns. I thought that in the public interest it was a perfectly reasonable law. Had there been no other method of distributing propaganda or had people been denied the right, as they are in Communist or Fascist countries, to send leaflets through the post or to deliver them personally, then perhaps the principle was at stake. But in this country the principle of free expression of opinion was never at stake. Dr Cairns and his followers succeeded. 1 believe that the Melbourne City Council was unwise to alter its anti-litter law. under the pressure that was exerted upon it by demonstrators such as Dr Cairns and by the media which, Senator James McClelland suggested in his speech, will sool the police on to indulge in their prejudices. Of course, the media were behind Dr Cairns on this issue. I did not agree with him because I did not think the end justified the means.
Let me take that point a step further. We who are in politics should know and understand that most municipalities today have a by-law that forbids people using loud speakers in going around the streets, screaming out about what a great candidate this person, that person or the other person is, and issuing political propaganda very loudly, mostly at about 6 or 7 o’clock at night - a time when most people are home or hear it and most mothers are trying to get their babies to sleep. The local councils in many areas, in their wis dom, have banned this practice. To this day I do not know that it has been challenged to any extent. In this country you can advance your political opinions on street corners, providing you do not block the traffic. You can advance them on radio or television programmes if you have the money. In this country you can put on political propaganda in a way that is not permitted in many other countries. We as politicians and members of political parties have not the right to disrupt the lives of families throughout the whole community by using blaring loudspeakers so that people would have to hear whether they wanted to hear or not. Why should we tell them at 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock of an evening what a lot of good fellows we are? I think the by-law is correct and sensible. 1 come now to the vexed question of moratoriums. I have little or no experience of them. I have observed only from afar people who participate in moratoriums. I believe that if you want to put a view on politics, conscription or anything else you have a right to do so in this country in an orderly way. However, I do not believe that people should take over the streets when the rest of the community wants to use them to get to and from their places of employment. Public life is disrupted just so that certain people can be heard, whereas people who want to hear them could do so at any time. The underlying principle is that such people are not satisfied with being heard only by people who wish to hear them. They are not satisfied with demonstrating only amongst people who wish to be affected by such activity. The principle is: ‘You will listen or observe whether you like it or not’. Demonstrators insist on interfering with the public rights of others.
I have said already that I have little knowledge of people who take part in moratoriums as not many of my friends are amongst their numbers. I concede to Senator Cavanagh that he is the expert in this field because he has told us that he is a vital leader of moratoriums. For that reason I respect his opinion as to why people take part in moratoriums, but I am rather horrified by it. I shall remind honourable senators of his opinion. In the course of his remarks he referred to the people against whom we now seem to be reluctant to protect ourselves and the community. Senator Cavanagh, the expert, said this:
This may be because of our better communications, because of our better transport system or because young people seek a let-out for their adventurism in group activities.
I think we would all concede that’. That is the way of the young. Many decent young boys and girls join the boy -scout, girl guide or church organisations. They join cricket and football teams. The principle is well established. Senator Cavanagh went on: - lt is far better to have these people demonstrating in the main street “of a capital, city or to have them sitting in the main street of a capital city-
The honourable senator is not there- referring to girl guides, boy scouts, cricketers or footballers. He is speaking of moratory kim demonstrators. I think that is obvious. Now that we have straight the people he is referring to I will repeat what he said: lt is- far better to have these people demonstrating in the mam street of a capital city or to have them silting in the main street of a capital city than to nave them gathering in groups to engage in thuggery and pack rape. -This .is what we are likely to achieve if we drive, them away from the supervision ‘ that is’ exercised on occasions such as the moratorium demonstrations.
I how to the expert who so describes the people who have been engaging in demonstrations, because I have little or no knowledge of. such people. Should we let these people take over the public streets on great public issues because they have become imbued with a philosophy that people who do not like a law should be able to break it? I take issue with Senator Kennelly, who said: ‘Do not pass any laws that people will break because they are bad laws.’
– Of course they are.
– I invite Senator O’Byrne to read this morning’s Melbourne newspapers in which are reports of 2 young men before the courts. Evidence has been given of their recorded statement about a most malicious and brutal murder of a young girl aged 15 years. They said that they desired to go out and get a chick and kill her. The Jaw against murder is a law that some people break. The. honourable senator says that there should not be a law that anybody will break. I know what he means. He means that it is a matter of personal judgment and. degree. But is that so? The honourable senator says that he would only approve the breaking of laws with which he disagrees, but it is not possible to stand halfway. If you enunciate in this community the philosophy that when you do not like a law you do not try to have it changed by legal and orderly methods, but you illegally and unlawfully go out and break that Jaw, and if there are distorted minds with the idea that for personal satisfaction and to indulge their personal instincts it is necessary to ‘kill a chick’, you stand condemned that you concede to them the same right to break the law that inhibits them as you concede to yourself the right to break the law that inhibits you in another, and perhaps in your opinion, less serious situation. Senator O’Byrne is interjecting but he cannot talk that principle down because it has existed for as long as has British law, to the benefit not only of the people of England but also of people in this country and every other country in the world that has accepted British law as the cornerstone of an orderly existence.
Senator- Cavanagh has given us a lead about demonstrators, in moratoriums. He has told us that if they are driven from the streets, and demonstrations; in the back streets they will take to thuggery and rape. I have not said that. It was said by Senator Cavanagh, who is the expert. If the basic philosophy is accepted that a law considered as bad should be broken by the person who holds that view, we have no law; we have no law on public order; no law on property; no law on the rights of man; no law against rape; no law to protect women and children and the weak in our community and no law even against murder itself. People holding such a philosophy would pull down the whole framework of our civilisation in the interests of a political creed based on the premise that the. end justifies the means. That is the philosophy we are dealing with. That is the philosophy behind the principle that if you do not like a law you break it.
I wish to examine some other occasions dissociated from moratoriums. I have in mind occasions that have received a lotmore public prominence in recent weeks. I refer, for example, to the incident in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Melbourne described last night by my colleague Senator McManus. By far the most significant act on that occasion was that taken against a young lady. I would protect her as a member of the same industrial organisation - the Federal Clerks Union - and would expect members of the Australian Labor Party to back me in hat regard. She was told by these thugs - they are still thugs even though they engage in demonstrations: ‘Stand in the corner and you will be safe.’ It was a terrorising experience for a young lady when 30 thugs broke into her office where she has a right to the fullest and toughest protection that our laws can provide. She is entitled to protection first as a woman in the community and second as a worker doing her job, irrespective of whether she was working for Senator O’Byrne, for me or for Senator McManus.
I wish to refer to the demonstrations which took place in the city of Melbourne against the visiting South African - tennis players. There are people in this country who agree .with me that the. apartheid laws of South Africa are wrong. As much as I disagree, with those laws-and I take every opportunity to express my personal antipathy towards racism in any shape or form- I say that any man who will run in front of a young girl who is unprotected in a- strange country which she is visiting for the purpose of playing in a competitive sport, and any man who would adopt a threatening attitude to such a girl and say to her that she was not to play because her government has a policy with which he disagrees, is not a man; he is a mongrel. He ought to be dealt with by the authority of the law. If the law is inadequate in any way in this respect, we should see that the law is altered so that such a person who would use his strength and his masculinity to terrorise a young girl for something with which she has no association is dealt with like the animal that he is. That girl may be as conscientiously opposed as I am to racism in all its shapes and forms.
Now we must get down to the technicalities. The unfortunate reason why we must tamper with the laws that have stood us in such good stead for so long is that today the people who are breaking these laws are being skilfully and carefully directed, particularly by members of the legal fraternity who know the ropes. What I have just described is what happens when such people seek to interfere in a tennis match because some young ladies playing in the tournament represent a country that has a policy of racism. It is a strange thing that these people do not interfere to the same degree with the Moscow Circus because of the racism that exists in Russia.. The Moscow Circus and the Russian Ballet are able to come here. Some demonstrations are held. But when 2 girt tennis players come from South Africa-
– They were kids.
– Yes, they were almost children. They were singled out for campaigns throughout Australia.
– The. demonstrators at the Moscow Circus were not arrested.
– When we get to this point we must analyse how these people go about achieving their purpose and what are the techniques that they are’ advised to use. Let us assume that the. South African cricket team is playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The demonstrators are told: ‘Do not stand there silently with placards saying “Down with Apartheid”. That is not the practice any more.’ These people are told by their legal advisers’ not to go into the ground, having paid the admission charge, and jump over the fence to punch one of the players. The player might punch back’ and that would hurt. The legal advisers do not need to tell the demonstrators twice because, invariably, those in this fraternity are cowards. They do not do that.
What is more, these people are told by their legal advisers - all of this advice is free - that they should not do this because if they do they will be charged with an offence and will come within the ambit of the laws of assault. What they are advised to do is to sit in the grandstand with a mirror and, when a fast bowler is delivering a ball, to reflect the sun’s rays into the eyes of the batsman. They are told that they cannot be arrested for doing that. This is what these demonstrators do. This is what they did to the South African tennis players at the Kooyong tennis courts in Melbourne. With people sitting in the grandstand reflecting the sun’s rays into their eyes is it any wonder that those players could not perform to the best of their ability.
The situation with which the community and the Government is trying to deal is not one that has arisen casually, lt is a highly skilfully organised campaign which has behind it some of the best propaganda brains in the world to teach these demonstrators bow to go about their tasks.. Sena. tor Kennelly said that he believed that this law when passed will not be administered and that it will be one that will affect only the small people who will not kick back. I hope not. 1 have a criticism of the administration of these existing laws. Recent cases have proved that the suggestion put by Senator Kennelly reflects the attitude that has been adopted by some governments. 1 am critical of what has happened in my own State. Recently, a prominent member of the House of Representatives was at the beach at Lorne engaged in an activity that was contrary to the regulations passed by the local authorities governing the control of good order of that beach. Not unnaturally, that beach is reserved for our citizens - the rich, the poor, the employers and the employees.
– What about the right of free assembly?
– Those people relax at this beach and assemble for the purpose of bathing and so on. There are other places in which to assemble for political purposes and other places to which people may be invited free of charge to hear what, one has to say about any question affecting Australia or the rest of the world today. But, no! Adhering to the philosophy that it does not matter whether people go to such places and listen to what is said, this prominent person and others decided that they would go down to where people were assembled in an area reserved by by-law for purposes of their own entertainment and amusement and that they would earbash those people whether or not they liked it. Three university students were dealt with under the law in this case but the member of the Federal Parliament was not even charged.
– Who was he?
- Dr Cairns who, because of his magical touch, never is charged himself. A reference was made-
– That happened in another case too.
– I well know the events of the other occasion to which Senator McManus refers. Indeed, the main offender on that occasion was a former friend of the good doctor. Dr Cairns was the main sufferer. He was bashed over the head. The offender was charged and released on bail. He disappeared. No case has ever been brought to trial in this matter and there are those citizens who are wondering why the offender has not been arraigned and why no case has been brought. .
– Like the train robber.
– J do not know who the basher was, but he was not a friend of mine; he was a former friend of the good Dr Cairns himself. I do not agree with the administration of the law in this manner. I do not care whether the person concerned in breaking the law occupies the position that I do here or whether he sits where you sit, Mr Acting Deputy President. If the laws of the community are broken, we should be as vulnerable as is any other person in the community. I hope that in the future and in the administration of this. Bill when it becomes law there will be no special rights and privileges for those who consider themselves above the law and for those who have a greater responsibility to obey the law because they are entrusted by the community with the responsibility of making laws.
I believe that the necessity for our community to re-examine the laws governing law and order has been proven because of the frightening blackmail of individuals that has occurred.
I wish to refer to an incident which occurred in Australia some little time ago. In another age and in another country a similar incident was the flashpoint of an international war; that was the attempted assassination of a Serbian prince. I refer to the visit to Australia of a President of the United States of America. Two misguided brothers who, because they were alleged to be intelligent young men doing university courses, should have known that a visiting dignitary such as a President of the United States would be accompanied by armed guards to protect his security in an intensely crowded area, by their actions ran the risk of those guards opening fire on them thus involving women, children and babes in arms around them. These young men threw bags of paint at the presidential car.
– It could have been like the napalm in Vietnam.
– Does the honourable senator support that? No, he will not say he supports it. He wants to interject and then cowardly run away from the imputation of his interjection. He would not support the proposition that anybody should take such a risk in the streets of Melbourne. But what was the recourse of the community at large under the law as it existed on that occasion? The people concerned could only be charged with a minor offence. Yet by their very act they had involved the safety and security of dozens of innocent bystanders who were merely there to pay their respects to the head of a great and friendly neighbourly country. On that occasion those concerned had many other ways in which they could have expressed their disapproval of his country, of him as an individual, of his policies or anything else without involving the security of those about them.
– Does the honourable senator remember whether those people were convicted?
– 1 cannot recall. If they were, the penalty was of such a minor nature that it made practically no difference. I understand that it made no difference to the payment by this Government of the university allowance, which they were being paid at the time of the deed. I believe it should have.
– They should have run over them.
– The honourable senator puts the suggestion that we should not have law and order to prevent this action but that we should just run over them. I do not agree with the proposition that we should run over them. I leave that to the minds of the people whom Senator Cavanagh outlined as being engaged in moratoriums. I share with Senator Kennelly a responsibility on behalf of the people of Victoria and particularly the city of Melbourne, for the administration of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Quite recently we had an incident there when demonstrators and people who paint slogans got into the ground at night and with acid scarred a slogan right ‘across the arena of the Melbourne Cricket Groundin spite of all Senator Kennelly said I am certain that if he could have got hold of those people he would have dealt with them far more stringently than any law in this country is capable of dealing with them. I am certain that if they had desecrated or destroyed property at the Albert Park Lake Reserve in’ which the honourable senator has a particular interest or had destroyed government property as students destroyed government property at the Monash University, the : honourable senator - knowing him over a lifetime and his respect for law and order- would have been one of the first persons, as a man responsible for. the administration of that Reserve, to be down at the local police station clamouring to have those people behind bars where they justly ‘ belong. Knowing that about the honourable senator I accept with a lot of reservation many of the other remarks he made about this Bill. In this day and age, because we are better educated and because we spend more money in elevating and improving the minds of the generation which. is to accept responsibility in this nation and succeed us, we should be able to do away with some of the laws to maintain public order which we have. But instead of seeing evidence around us that we are approaching a phase in the development of mankind when we can do that, almost with bitter disappointment in our hearts arid certainly with great concern we are forced to strengthen and make more stringent the laws regarding public order and the protection of persons, particularly the weak and the womenfolk in our community. That is what we are doing in this Bill.
Down through history it has -been said by many philosophers that the civilisation which cannot protect the rights of the babes, the weak and the women in its community fails to be a civilisation at all. For my book, much as it gives me remorse, I shall support this legislation because there is evidence in our community that there are those who are organised behind the banners of the philosophy that the ends justify the means and behind the slogan that if one does not like a law then go out and break it. In answer to those people who are organising behind us and who are not, perhaps, the smaller people who actually break the law, I say that we should pass this law. I am sure that the Government will administer it with full weight until we make it quite obvious to those who will break our laws that the rest of the community will not tolerate that standard.
– I rise in this debate with a twofold purpose. First of all 1 wish to continue the course which was followed by my illustrious colleague, Senator James McClelland, fo whom I pay tribute for his lucid address in this Senate. I know of his tremendous role in the trade union movement in New South Wales and ‘I did- not have any doubts that his impact- in this chamber would be anything but effective. 1 want to refer tq some of the assertions which have been made by the last speaker, Senator Little. Today I find myself in a unique situation. Senator. Little implied that the Australian Labor Party was more or less the power behind many of. these demonstrations or that it gives them tacit support. In particular, he implied that we were rubbishing the State police forces. I remind the honourable senator and other people who take that attitude that 5 years ago in my maiden speech I made the assertion that the Commonwealth Government in many of its Federal agencies was sabotaging requests from State police forces to deal with certain lawless elements. Ever since 1 have chanted the name Lesic and the Croatian terrorists. No Minister has been game to deny the feather bedding which has gone on in relation to that individual’s attitude. Later on I shall come back to him in much more detail.
Senator Little referred to another matter. He said that he was replying to a reference by Senator Kennelly to Vietnam and the call-up. He implied - probably correctly - that there was a genuine impatience with society. He said that there were lesser demonstrations. Of course there are. On how many occasions have groups of mothers banded together to stir up bureaucratic councils and bumble footed local traffic authorities to have traffic lights installed? I would like to know whether any honourable senator is prepared to tell those mothers that they are wrong when kiddies have been .maimed because nobody bothered about speeding up the installation of traffic lights. We know that State Ministers have said: ‘Look, there are 50 requests’. Such groups say: ‘If you can spend money on satellite research you can double your provision of traffic lights’. These are the mini-demonstrations. They will go on occurring because we have created a certain type of society. We have a modern media. People look at the various, advertisements and think that if they do not have something or other they are anti-social. They ask themselves: ‘Why haven’t I got it?’ Only in a docile society would people grin and bear such a situation. I am sure that if Senator Little in his calmer moments goes back to earlier years he will remember that, there were times when he had to. bear injustice in the trade union movement because of economic circumstances. He would have liked to have been out storming the bastille, as ft were,, for a quicker settlement of the problems But people will not bear injustice today.
The. honourable senator ‘ referred to scruffy people. I assure him that I equate those who are responsible with those who are irresponsible. In Sydney there are 2 prominent youth leaders. One is Barry Robinson who is well known. He has appeared on the television ‘ programme Four Corners’ and other shows in bis opposition to the call-up for Vietnam. The other person is of a less well known and less stable character. His name is Mike Jones. My money would be on the Barry Robinsons and not the Mike Joneses. I have a distinct doubt whether this legislation is going to genuinely curb those who care like Barry Robinson, for causes that seek to remove injustices. The other morning [ was walking past Parliament House at about 8.15 when 1 saw a group of young people who had conducted a night vigil over land rights for Aboriginals. In this age of extravagance and good times I think that those people had something in their make-up. At least they were prepared to suffer a rather poor type of bed in order to protest in that cause. 1 give full credit to them.
Every honourable senator who has had a friendship or association with any Minister in State or Federal politics knows that, whatever government is in power,
Ministers have bulging files on matters to be redressed. Sometimes after a little extra nudge the Minister goes into his office and thinks: ‘I have got to do something with those so-and-sos. They are getting under my skin.’ This form of agitation is as old as the hills and, leaving aside the questions of Vietnam and conscription and those other matters, it is now practised in a lot of other genuine causes. Whether the Government likes it or not it must suffer or expect certain indictments against it because of delays in answering questions asked in this Parliament. I suppose it would be very simple for me to. fly to Darwin tomorrow and tell the people who perhaps wanted some information on such a mundane thing as a national park that I have been waiting 8 weeks for an answer. This is not a matter involving someone who is directly suffering an economic injustice but the fact is that delays occur in providing answers on all kinds of matters. As people become better educated they will be less likely to be overawed than they have been. If the Government advances the idea that we have reached the millenium and have an egalitarian society in which Jack is as good as his master, which I accept to the full, then no matter how we pontificate, whether Ministers or rank and file senators, people will not act like Fido the dog and lie down; they will want action.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party senators referred to the episode which occurred in the Commonwealth offices in Melbourne. I have been castigated by no less a person than the former Prime Minister, John Gorton, because on one occasion ! had the effrontery to question the sincerity of conciliation commissioners. The DLP senators question whether the learned judge had a proper concept of what happened in the case they mentioned. When listening to Senator Little’s vivid eloquence this afternoon I wondered about the lass who suffered the standover tactics, which I agree were quite unwarranted. Senator Little should direct his remarks to the Victorian Attorney-General or to the Commonwealth Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). The DLP senators cannot have it both ways and sling off at Australian Labor Party senators when at times they question the legal luminaries.
I want to take this matter raised by Senator Little a little further. My own secretary in Sydney and one or two other girls that I know of have to deal with difficult people. I am not talking about those moved by political motives; I am talking about some of these unfortunate people who are in the mental twilight. They can be a menace to a secretary, particularly if she is on her own. I rang up senior Ministers and suggested that the Commonwealth Police would be much better employed on guard duty in the Commonwealth offices than chasing up a seaman who had entered the country illegally. At first my efforts failed, but then one of these individuals kicked down Mr Bury’s door. After that we had Commonwealth police galore. This is an example pf the effectiveness, on occasions, of protest. I believe that the Commonwealth Police in Victoria could be employed more effectively than carrying out some of the minor duties they now have to perform.
I think Senator Hannan will appreciate my next point since he is interested iri migrant groups. About 6 years ago I led a deputation to the Labor Premier of New South Wales, Mr Jack Renshaw, about certain ultra-right-wing Croats. This was at the time when Mr Lesic blew off his own feet. Thank goodness he did not do it in a bus or a train because a lot of people would have been maimed. I led this deputation from the Yugoslav community and we had senior police officers with us. The then Premier made submissions to the Commonwealth Government in relation to the deportation of some of these extreme people. Nothing was done. There is a saying that what you sow, so shall ye reap. The Government has suffered for its inactivity because in subsequent years it has had to deal with the bombing of embassies in Canberra. May this sort of situation completely at the door of the Commonwealth Attorney-General.
It is very unlikely that I shall become Attorney-General because we have plenty of competent legal men on this side of the chamber - although it does not -necessarily follow that the Attorney-Genera! should be a legal, man - but if I were . AttorneyGeneral at the present time I am sure I could use legislation such as the Consorting Act to deal with some df these ultraright wing elements and have peace in no time. One only has to read the outbursts of some of these people in the ‘Canberra
Times’. It would not be difficult to deal with them. But all that the Government did was issue general disclaimers and talk about the necessity for people to live together. This is the sort of complaint and difficulty that we have.
While I am on this point, I name Detective Inspector Longbottom of the Special Division in New South Wales as an extremely competent and courageous officer. As Senator Kane would know, he would have his counterparts in other States. These people have been hampered by the Government’s political approach to these migrant feuds. It has looked at the problem from the. point of view of votes and nothing else. Proof of this fact is found if one reads the ultra-right-wing newspapers, published at the time when the Government lost the Corio by-election. There newspapers gloated over the fact that the Government lost the seat because they felt strongly about the then Minister for Immigration (Mr Opperman), who had sincerely tried to deal with certain of these people, who then decided to abstain from voting. 1 believe that we won the seat on other issues, but it was obvious that these people had until then been pandered to by the Commonwealth Government.
I take this indictment on Mr Lesic a little further. My colleague Senator Cant and other honourable senators have raised questions about people being disruptive out here in Kings Hall. Mr Lesic came here - this was after his previous offences - and made a nuisance of himself. When he appeared in the court I thought the magistrate, from the solicitude he received, was going to break down and cry. But this generous attitude has never been shown to pensioners who show a little militancy. I do not say that the pensioners were man handled, but double standards were applied. The Government should have had Lesic lumbered and sent back to Sydney. But, of course, Mr Lesic has a charmed life. Senator Little spoke about Labor politicians being immune from prosecution. I have had question No. 948 on the notice paper since 15th March. Mr Lesic has an obsession about using the word ‘Croatia’ instead of “Yugoslavia’. He has gone into banks in Sydney and belted 2 bank tellers across the head with weapons. Nothing has been done about it. Yet if people wave slogans they are committing an offence under Commonwealth law.
In the latter part of my speech I will be giving a few examples of the type of questions I want answered. In 1961 in Vienna a convention adopted a proposal that dealt with the protection of foreign nations and the embassies of various countries. At the moment Sweden is on a hot spot because of something that happened over there. What baffles me about this legislation is why we could not have achieved the desired effect by using the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention. Speaking about a sense of values, my colleague Mr James, a representative in another place, pointed out that people- who use dynamite in attacks on embassies, as happened recently, receive a very minor sentence. I believe there is a lack of consistency in the situation. A person using dynamite is in a different category from a person who might swing cross a right or left hook or something like that. The Government has never made any attempt to face up to the situation, and it is in : relation to these problems that I part company with Senator Little. He was arguing that these clashes by demonstrators with the police are occurring during a virtual night of the long knives. I believe that the existing laws could deal with a lot of these matters. After all, it was a Labor Attorney-General, Dr Evatt, who dealt with Lance Sharkey when he made treasonable utterances. The Government did not have to conduct drumhead trials or anything like that. There is no political bias in those circumstances.
Reference was made to unruliness in the trade union movement. Some honourable senators said that the marine stewards are not observing the law. Let us consider how a secretary of a trade union can get his members to play the game as far as the law is concerned. Captain Sam Benson, an illustrious Victorian, heads the Merchant Service Guild. In his speeches in this Parliament he always argued for the rule of law. He had members of the Merchant Service Guild, tugboat crews in Port Phillip Bay, working 371 hours overtime a week, and they were becoming restive - and they were entitled to. When he appeared before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission all that Mr Justice Franki could say to the members of the Guild was that they should work under normal conditions. This is 1971. They are very competent people. 1 wonder what happened when Captain Benson went back and said to these chaps: You have to be good boys’. The workers in our society should not be expected to go on copping it indefinitely. A lot is said about having harmony and discipline in public relations. 1 can assure honourable senators opposite - if Senator Little were here 1 am sure he would agree with me - that the workers in the industrial field will not follow their leader in a Pied Piper fashion. A person whom they thought was leading them on some lost cause would get a rude awakening at the next union election.
The point 1 am trying to make is that so many thing are being caused by genuine injustice - 1 am not restricting my remarks to the situation in Vietnam and the feelings of conscientious objectors - that a climate of impatience is being created. Take, for example, the Government’s policy on social services. Senator Kennelly, in his own inimitable way, referred to the fact that only one vote meant a change in the leadership of this country. I do not want to rub salt into the wounds of honourable senators opposite. AO I want to do is point out to them that all their talk about acting economically went overboard when the hew Prime Minister granted an increase in pensions in order to make an impact on and to placate the pensioners on social services generally. This increase would not have been granted if something dramatic had not intervened. That is the theme I am advancing. People often write letters of complaint to their local member in the State or Commonwealth parliaments in the hope that he will take up their complaints with the responsible Minister. Sometimes the responsible Minister rings the gong quickly, but on other occasions he allows the position to drift on.
Senator James McClelland hammered the theme about the existing laws being adequate. My claim is that if one cannot get somebody on one law one can get him on another. I will give honourable senators a classic example of this fact. Early in 1964 there was an upsurge of activity in the Nazi Party in Sydney. I am referring to those fellows who wear jack boots and so on. The New South Wales police force raided a house in Ashfield in which these people were congregating. I would not put these people in the same category as Lesic. It was mainly their mouths that they were shooting off; they were not letting off bombs. However, they were of nuisance value to the community. For this reason, I was interested to learn that a few days ago some of them had offered to protect the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne from further damage by people of the far left. The Returned Services League - rightly so - told them to get on their way. The point I am making is that because these people were of nuisance value their premises were raided at the direction of Premier Renshaw. I do not think that they could have been booked for holding a political belief, but they were booked for various other minor offences, such as having unlicensed pistols and unlicensed cars. These bookings were only of nuisance value to these people, but the authorities could have made it difficult for them if they had wanted to. I repeat that many of the offences covered by this legislation could be dealt with within the framework of the existing legal provisions.
People today would not accept the industrial conditions that were accepted many years ago. I am glad that members of the Miners Federation do not have to adopt today the attitude which was adopted by the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania over a century ago. However, I still wonder what would have been the position in the United States as regards mining conditions today if those bombings had not gone on and if disputes had not occurred in Broken Hill. Would silicosis victims have been given relief? Honourable senators would be aware that I have a very restless disposition in more ways than one, but I would not apologise for many of the situations in which I have found myself. It is remarkable that the workers are in many of the confrontations between them and the employers told that they are in the wrong but after a few months there are improvements in their conditions. If the workers do not protest where would they be? I think this is exemplified by the experience of Captain Benson and the members of the Merchant Service Guild.
I hope that the Minister for Health (Senator Greenwood), who represents the Attorney-General in this chamber, will, in replying to the debate, guide me on the full impact of this Bill. I think there are times during meetings of all political parties when the police could be called in. One often finds that one has to stand up and be counted. I would like to give to the Senate an account of what happened to me on an occasion when I attended a Labor Party rally at the Paddington Town Hall. The Paddington Town Hall is somewhat like this chamber in that a Press gallery faces the main table. As I had on a previous occasion attended a rather turbulent Yugoslav function there and people had dropped things down from this position I thought to myself that I would keep an eye on that area. Members of the police force were present. As a party official I was always on the lookout for the unexpected. A couple of controversies were raging in Sydney and Melbourne at the time on certain subjects. In the middle of the meeting a fellow who had a big banner that was nailed to 2 pieces of 3 by 2 stood up. He could have called out to Renshaw: Read this’, but instead he attempted to heave it over the side. I leaned over and grabbed him by the neck and pulled him back. In the process his shirt was torn off. I think I saved people from getting a hit on the head. This fellow threatened to sue me. I said: ‘You can do what you like’. Nothing happened. I wonder what could happen to me under this legislation if I had done the same thing. I do not doubt that any honourable senator would have every right to do what I did because I believe that there is a distinction between a legitimate protest and loutism. These are circumstances that one has to face up to. T would like to know what protection would be given to me in these circumstances.
Recently at the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport a confrontation occurred between demonstrators and the Nazi element to which I have referred. The Nazis did not like the anti-apartheid placards that a couple of girls were carrying. I suppose that they would have been entitled to indulge in a little bit of verbal intercourse, but instead of doing that the Nazis started to belt one girl across the ear. Of course, one of the demonstrators belted one of the Nazis back. I have a rather fiery temperament myself. Lots of people are similarly afflicted. I know I would do in these circumstances. Would the police grab me under these circumstances? I know that sometimes one can be picked when one has not started anything. People who have a flash reaction would have problems in such circumstances.
The point I want to put is that I feel that there are a lot of gaps in this Bill. I have seen it happen at a trade union meeting where somebody who has tried to be the peacemaker has had to be the enforcer. Would an enforcer in those circumstances be a wrongdoer under this Bill? For the edification of the Minister, I would like to point out that the Bill refers only to those persons taking part in an assembly who commit acts of physical violence. It is the definition of ‘physical violence’ which concerns me. I believe that by moving in quickly one can sometimes nip something in the bud. I mean, it is well known in the various codes of football that a star player who gets a hard knock early in the peace is sometimes not as mobile as he otherwise would be. This is a legitimate tactic in football. It is also a legitimate tactic at gatherings a nd meetings. These are the fears I have.
In case the Minister says that my feelings about the Commonwealth law apparatus are unfounded I would like to point out what happens in other countries. I never get tired of expressing my admiration of the British system of justice compared to our own. Sanctuary seems to be always given readily. People who have a very left wing or right wing background but who have not offended the laws of Britain seem to be treated fairly. They are regarded as cleanskins. It all depends on how they behave while they are in Britain. Senator Greenwood may point out that the British Home Secretary has sometimes had to deal with certain people who renegue on undertakings given. I am thinking in particular of a West German student leader who had to be dealt with. At least he was given his chance. The point I am making is the same clemency is never given by the Department of Immigration, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department or any other Commonwealth department to the anti-Fascist people as is given to what are termed the anti-Communists. I know that these 2 terms can be used in a very loose fashion. I repeat that there is a feeling abroad that the Commonwealth Government has a double sense of values in these particular cases. 1 do not want to chant the name of Lesic too much. However, it is significant to point out that I raised a question on 5th March about him and the Government has not given me an answer to it. It cannot because it knows that what I have alleged is true.
We have a system of double standards. I have already used a football example to illustrate my point. I will use another one now. When there is a bit of a punch up and there is, instead of a general warning, a pulling out of a bloke who has retaliated and he is told that he is the cause of it he will often think: 1 am getting no protection from the referee. I will have to give a little more back.’ One can take this example a little further as far as the injustices which are occurring is concerned. The people feel that they are not being given reasonable and speedy attention. No doubt Senator Greenwood or Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson will reply to my remarks. I am probably giving them a good talking point for the future in that when the Government wants to extend the membership of the Ministry and to have under-secretaries they may tell me that the more undersecretaries and ministers there are the less demonstrations there will be. This is a fascinating theory and something which the Minister might care to use in reply.
I feel genuinely on this point. 1 think that Senator Little was the first to concede to people the right to have what he called a genuine demonstration. I hope very sincerely that, if I attend a local parents and citizens or mothers league meeting and if I am told that it is intended to demonstrate against the inadequacy of bus transport in the Lowe electorate - and neither the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) nor 1 would be above interceding in this matter, although it is not our direct responsibility - those women will not be denied that right. I hope that they will not be dragged off and that nobody will become a bit hysterical because they may be breaching the peace. There comes a time when people can no longer stomach certain grievances. They have to do something about the position. I suppose that today governments have become so big that the only way to get through to them is by having demonstrations. Recently I was reading about some Mexican Presidents who were in office between 1910 and 1920. Some met very gory ends. I do not want to see any Minister come to a gory end. On the contrary, I think it would do them a lot of good if they sometimes copped the brunt of some of these hostile demonstrations. I can remember some unions affiliated with the Australian Labor Party - they were miners and transport workers - meeting at the Labor Party office in Sydney at times when they felt that certain Labor Ministers were moving a little slowly. We were the ham in the sandwich. We had to listen to their complaints. I assure the Minister that it makes a person very humble when he is cut down to size. I do not think any Minister is worth his salt unless he is pressurised occasionally or bustled. 1 do not say this in an academic fashion. This is mainly in reply to that part of Senator Little’s speech which dealt with the police. I am probably in a unique situation in this respect. Before Australia had an immigration agreement with Yugoslavia some honourable senators opposite used to gig me about my attitude to eastern Europe. Strangely enough, on one memorable occasion, a player by the name of Halpin - and honourable senators will note that this is certainly not a Slav name - was coming off the field after a football match. I raise this with the Minister to ascertain my rights in a demonstration. As the player was coming off the field, a member of Yugal Club, a mad Croatian supporter went to jab Halpin in the groin - I use the term advisedly - with the very sharp ferrule of an umbrella. I responded by knocking over this Croatian supporter. I was surrounded by 20 Croats who reckoned I was almost a Moscow stooge or something like that. My plastic raincoat was torn. I did not make a claim on the Commonwealth Government or the State Government. I suppose I was told that it was a very fine gesture to protect a member of the New South Wales police force. It probably was, in the circumstances. Having regard to the melee that developed, I wonder whether, under this Bill, I would be liable. It was better for me to make a move than to wait for the police to arrive because there were no police at the ground. I attribute the blame for this little upheaval that occurred to the Commonwealth Government for not dealing with some of these people who it knows - from
Lesic down - should have been given a long gaol sentence, but who nave not.
In the time at my disposal I have endeavoured to sum up my points my way. Senator James McClelland, in his lucid style, said that he thought that the law as it stood, if it was administered more equitably, would be able to deal with the situation. I agree. I have endeavoured to elaborate and to point out the partisanship, discriminations, shortcomings and lack of liaison between Commonwealth departments and State police who often have to bear the brunt of these situations. Another aspect of the matter is this: In this new generation we have militant mothers who want justice - not merely on Vietnam - because they feel that there has been a bungling by State authorities on whether enough traffic lights have been provided, for example. I say that more power should be given to them to demonstrate because, whether the Government likes it or not, they appear to get justice that they would not otherwise have obtained.
– I join with the other speakers who have congratulated Senator James McClelland on his maiden speech, which was listened to with a great deal of respect. I simply add my congradulations to those which have been forthcoming already from other parts of the chamber. I have listened with interest to the other speeches which have been made on this Bill. It seems to me that the main theme of the speeches made by members of the Opposition has been the argument that there is a need for some constitutional guarantee of right of assembly and that in some way that right of assembly is being restricted or diminished by the Bill. It appears that that proposition is assumed and that the case is argued from that beginning. I wish to look at the validity of that proposition, which seems to be the basic premise from which the speeches of honourable senators opposite have proceeded. If the basic premise is not valid, presumably the remainder of the speech is not valid. I ask, by way of rhetorical question: Why should there be any constitutional guarantee on the right of assembly? There is no restriction, other than the restriction imposed by laws made by the Parliament or the applicable common law transposed from the United Kingdom to Australia. Even then, the circumstances in which that restriction applies depend very largely upon statute or are governed directly by statute.
Therefore, we start from a position of absolute freedom. We start from a position in which that absolute freedom has, in the circumstances of the organisation of society, to be restricted to an extent necessary to keep the balance in the community between freedom and order. I thought it was of some interest that not only does the Australian Labor Party appear to accept that some restriction is necessary - I think all speakers have subscribed to that point of view - but also that the Labor Party in Great Britain, which has just been applauded by Senator Mulvihill, in its 1970 manifesto stated:
It is a first duty of government to protect the citizen against violence, intimidations and crime.
I would have been surprised if any hon.ourable senator had argued with that proposition. If that is a valid proposition, we pass to a consideration of what are the laws that it is necessary for a government to enact to protect the citizens against violence, intimidation and crime. Let us not take too much time considering whether there should be some constitutional guarantee. We have the practical and factual situation, from which we proceed, that there is absolute freedom except where it is restricted. Perhaps we should look a little further at one or two of the other places in which this concept has been discussed. I refer to Article 29, paragraph (2) of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. I refer also to a statement made by Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court. In a book entitled ‘Essays on Human Rights’, at page 183, he stated:
World Law Day asks all mankind to praise and consider the value of human rights under the protection of law - justice - to human kind. Human Rights, which I define as justice for all individuals under just laws, are today the most sought for ideal for all peoples everywhere. To achieve this great ideal requires a knowledge among the peoples of the world that only under the rule of law can they have that peaceful order which will enable them to create great social and economic achievements within nations and settlement of disputes among nations, without the use of force.
I would hope that no honourable senator would disagree with that principle. Some who have spoken in the debate may have overlooked it temporarily. We have had a great deal of talk about a situation in which apparently that principle forms no part of the reasoning. But if we proceed from that basis, again I ask: Why do we need a Bill of rights; why do we need some constitutional guarantee; what are the existing problems which have to be overcome?
When one considers the problems which would have to be overcome, one is that not only is it unnecessary but that it is impracticable, or likely to be extremely difficult. I remind honourable senators that it would be necessary to amend the Constitution to take power away from the States in order to enable this Parliament to enact legislation such as that envisaged by a number of speakers on the Opposition side of the chamber. Another factor relating to this point is the consideration mentioned by the Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen) when speaking in the debate on this Bill in the other House, as reported at page 1805 of Hansard. He said that the mere statement of constitutional guarantees is not necessarily successful. He referred to the fact that, the 1936 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, section 125 guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. He then went on to say that although these things supposedly were guaranteed, in fact in particular circumstances that guarantee was of no avail at all and that persons were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment for expressing themselves and for assembling. The net result is that one returns to the principle that it is not a matter of guaranteeing the freedom by words; it is a matter of guaranteeing the freedom by system and by observance of that system.
The important aspects of the system we observe are, firstly, that we should have a free and independent judiciary. That we have, and that I believe we are proud of. Secondly, we must have a free and independent bar, free from interference, free to do its duty, free to make such representations as the interests of the individual require. Again, in this country we have that. If we have those freedoms in relation to the system, if we have the freedom to exercise the right to speak in Parliament, if we have the right of Parliament to exercise supervision over the Executive, then again we have the practical day to day necessities for the preservation of the rights and liberties of individual subjects. These things are far more important, I suggest, than simply writing words into a constitution which are then, as in Russia, not observed when it suits those in control not to observe them.
I suggest that there has been a completely wrong concentration upon the question of an artificial guarantee rather than looking to the particular Bill and its purposes. This Bill is related to the question of the right of assembly and the question of freedom of speech. In order to consider those two aspects perhaps we should look to what was said by Lord Denning, one of the great law reformers in the United Kingdom, a judge very well known for his liberal and reforming zeal, in relation to this particular matter. He said: _ The right to dissent does not carry with it a licence to impose their views on the majority, lt does not carry with it the privilege of taking the law into their own hands. It does not entitle them to obstruct the processes of government, of universities, or other institutions. It does not enable them to trample on the rights of others or to resort to violence. It does not give them the freedom to do anything they like to make their protest effective.
Yet, whilst this lesson must be taught to dissentients, those in authority have a lesson to learn too. They must be ready to listen to grievances and to remedy injustices. They must make a sincere effort to understand the views of the dissentients. If they cannot agree with them, they must explain the reason why. If they do agree with them, they must make reforms to put it right. Such is the duty of governing bodies of universities and of the professors and all in authority. It is the duty of judges and lawyers too.
It is interesting to note, perhaps, that that statement is one with which, I think, not many people in this chamber would be inclined to disagree, lt puts quite clearly an up to date judicial view of the right to dissent and the obligation of those in authority in relation to dissentients. I think that those are 2 important aspects and again I think they have been overlooked, perhaps, by a lot of people in government. I do not necessarily mean this Government at any particular time, but people in government do tend to overlook the particular aspect of their obligations about which Lord Denning was speaking.
One of the obligations, a matter to which I shall return soon, is an obligation to reform laws when they become outdated, outmoded and are no longer suitable or sufficiently suitable for the purposes for which they are required.
The next question I want to ask in con.sideration of this matter is this: Does the Bill restrict the right of assembly, the right of dessent in any novel way? Is there something which is being introduced in this Bill which is novel and which therefore requires special consideration? Again I suggest that the answer, clearly, is no. There is historical precedent galore, I think, for every single solitary provision in the Bill. Certainly the whole concept of the Bill has historical foundation going back hundreds of years. It goes right back through the whole period of time since societies first began to organise and regulate themselves. No honourable senator from the Opposition side of the chamber has identified where and in what way the Bill introduces any novel provision. I would be most interested to hear any speakers following me in the debate identify any such thing. This has just not been done. If it does not introduce anything novel and . it does accord with that which has been acceptable in the community for a very long time, then again I wonder what all the noise is about.
One wonders whether the Opposition is opposing the Bill because it provides a good opportunity to create a political issue and, during the debate on it, to talk about anything except the Bill itself. The impression which could well be obtained by someone reading or listening to the speeches made would be that that was all that was happening. Very little attention has been paid to the provisions of the Bill and as to what, in particular, is wrong with them. I suggest that we are concerned primarily with a Bill which is clarifying and bringing up to date legislation relating to a particular sector of the ordering of the society in which we live. It is simply to be regarded simply as an aspect of law reform. Referring to the law reform concept, I turn to the remarks of the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, made in an address to law graduates at the graduation ceremony at Melbourne’s Monash University in May 1969. As reported in a newspaper article, Sir Garfield Barwick said:
Parliament, judges and lawyers should be constantly on the watch to change the law where necessary. Unless the law moved with the times, society was in for trouble
Law reform should not be occasional or piecemeal but the essential occupation of those who administered or made the law.
Again I would be surprised if anybody in this chamber disagreed with those remarks. But, I ask: In what way is this Bill not an application of this principle? And I do not hear any answer forthcoming from the Opposition. Apart from the speech by Senator James McClelland, no particular consideration has been given to the question whether this Bill represents an aspect of law reform or whether it is just some political gimmick. As to whether it is law reform or not, perhaps we should consider the history of this type of legislation, much of which is still existing but will be removed from existence, so far as Commonwealth territories and property are concerned, by the passage of this Bill. A confused situation will remain in many of the States, but it is interesting to note that New South Wales recently clarified the situation. That happened in 1969. Tasmania, perhaps being ahead of other States, as so often happens, removed the confusion as long ago as 1924. I am sure that Senator O’Byrne would agree with me that Tasmania is always likely to be the State to move first on any matter and to give a lead. In every other State, in the Territories of the Commonwealth and in the United Kingdom, there are at least 3 Acts dating from 1394, 1411 and 1414 plus a variety of other legislation that has come down through the centuries, all still applying and all still able to be used.
It is said that none of these has ever been used. 1 simply cite an example from my own experience of some 3 or 4 years ago when one of the defences provided by one of these Acts was held to apply in relation to certain proceedings through its translation through the common law. It provides an example of how one can have these sorts of provisions and these sorts of arguments and confusion taking place in the court unless law reform is carried out and Acts are brought up to date. As I understand it, that is the principal purpose for which this Bill has been introduced.
The next point was that the Bill introduces nothing novel and that it does not increase the severity of penalties compared with penalties which exist in the legislation
In- the various States, in the Commonwealth, at common law or under the old English legislation. Perhaps a comparison is that in relation to a number of offences under the Acts a penalty could be as high as imprisonment for 21 years for, say, unlawful assembly. The penalty in Tasmania is still 21 years for this offence, but the penalty under this Bill is nothing like that. We heard from Senators Kennelly and James McClelland that there were defects in the Bill and they tried to point to some areas where defects were evident. They picked on the use of the word ‘reasonable’ and said things such as: This is so vague as to be meaningless’, this is difficult to determine’, ‘it is a. word which should not be used’ and ‘there should be greater clarity’. One of the examples where that has been used in this Bill is in clause 8 (4.) where it says:
For the purpose of -
Dispersing an assembly . . . It is lawful for a person to use such force as he believes, on reasonable grounds, to be necessary for that purpose and is reasonably proportioned to the danger which he believes, on reasonable grounds, is to be apprehended from the continuance of the assembly.
That is a principle which again is very well known in the law. It has been judicially interpreted in many contexts down through the centuries. For instance, if one were to look at ‘Coke upon Littleton’, a book first written some 400 years ago, one finds reasonableness defined in this way: belongeth to the knowledge of the law, and therefore .to be decided by the justices.
It is not something which is being introduced as a matter of novelty in the provisions of the Bill with which we are concerned. If one looks at the definition given in ‘Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary’ at page 2462 one sees the sort of definition which is given to it by the law. It states: the word ‘reasonable’ has in law the prima facie meaning of reasonable in regard to those circumstances of which the actor called on to act reasonably knows or ought to know.
Then there are a number of pages of various examples of the definition and cases of the use of the word ‘reasonable’ in its varying contexts. Those contexts include such a wide variety of legislation as the Sale of Goods Act, the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Act, matrimonial legislation, property and acquisition Acts, railways Acts and also the criminal law in the common law system in every part of the English speaking world. If the best argument that can be put forward by Senators James McClelland and Kennelly in criticism of this Bill is that it uses the word reasonable’, it shows that there has been a complete absence of consideration and research in relation to the matter, that is not being dealt with on the basis of a proper consideration of the merit of the Bill but only as a political expedient. If we consider the question of unlawful assembly we find that defined in many places and in common law. The definition which I shall use is that appearing in the third edition, volume 10, page 585 of Halsbury’s ‘Laws of England’ which states:
An unlawful assembly is an assembly of 3 or more persons with intent either to commit a crime by open force or to carry out any common purpose, lawful or unlawful in such a manner as to give firm and courageous persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly reasonable grounds to apprehend a breach of the peace in consequence of it.
Cases from the early 19th century are then cited as authority for the various parts of the definition of ‘unlawful assembly’. I thought it might be interesting for Senator Wheeldon to contemplate that definition because honourable senators will recall that yesterday, in trying to attack the Government for introducing this piece of proposed legislation, he said, as reported at page 1073 of Hansard:
For example, in clause 4 of the Bill we find that ‘assembly’ is defined as meaning an assembly of not less than 3 persons. So 3 persons constitute an assembly, precisely as in the South African Suppression of Communism Act. Within the terms of that Act a banned person may not attend any meeting if there are 3 persons present. The synchronisation of thought between the Parliament in Canberra and the Parliament in Cape Town is remarkable.
I would simply like to point out that perhaps both of them are synchronised by the fact that over the centuries, going back over hundreds of years, the common law has used as its definition of ‘unlawful assembly’ 3 or more persons and the various statutes in England relating to this type of legislation have used 3 or more persons. So far as I can find, the only country with a somewhat similar legal system which has not used 3 or more persons is India where I think it is 5 or more persons. Perhaps that is simply because the population is so much greater there that naturally there is an increase in the number in any sort of reference like that. I answer this criticism of the Bill because it is a good example ot the nature of the criticism which has been forthcoming from the opposite side of the chamber and the complete lack of proper basis for that criticism.
As I have just mentioned ‘reasonable’ is used in the common law definition of ‘unlawful assembly’. It has been used in a quite wide variety of statutes over the centuries, it is well known to the law and well capable of being defined by the law. There was criticism of the use of the word ‘vicinity’ and we were asked: What does ‘vicinity’ mean? I do not intend to go into the same detail in replying to that but simply refer to the fact that that is also a word which has an established meaning and which is capable of being interpreted by a court. The meaning given in the common law definition I quoted from Halbury was in the neighbourhood of the assembly’. But if ‘in the vicinity of the assembly’ is questionable, so too is the old common law definition.
So we have, 1 suggest, but shallow criticisms of this Bill. They are shallow in their real context in relation to the Bill, however significant they may be in relation to the political argument as to whether or not we should be involved in Vietnam, as to whether or not we should have a National Service Act and as to whether or not we should allow people to roam at will over Commonwealth parliamentarians’ offices. These seem to be the questions that have been debated, rather than questions related to the Bill itself. As I have said, the Bill is an aspect of law reform unrelated to the matters that have been debated here. The criticisms that have been forthcoming in relation to the Bill will, in general, not stand inspection. There are some criticisms of the detail of the Bill which I will be making when we reach the Committee stage. But that is a different matter. As to the reason behind the Bill and its general nature, it is simply an updating of a very long established aspect of the normal regulation of the society in which we reside.
– Firstly I wish to add my congratulations to those of other senators on the maiden speech made last night by Senator James McClelland. I believe that the Senate can be quite pleased that we have with us a man who is able to apply himself with such thoughtfulness to the examination of a measure on his first essay into the hurlyburly of parliamentary life. The subject matter and the method of delivery did him great credit. I am certain that we will be the richer by having a man of his calibre among us.
It may be cogent to observe at the same time that, although we heard such a balanced speech from Senator James McClelland, we heard a rather amazing speech from Senator Little. It was at the other end of the infinity of contributions that we have on various subjects in this chamber. I thought that Senator Little’s contribution illustrated not only the blind fanaticism and fear that possess him but also the atmosphere prevailing in our society in the realms of the Establishment and the dilemma that faces our country and our social and economic system. I believe that it was that atmosphere which originally prompted the idea or concept of the measure that is now before the chamber.
The terms of the Bill are repetitions and perhaps refinements of legislation which is referred to in the Bill itself and the Schedule and which date back to the time of Richard II. The Schedule refers to the Riot Act 1411, the Riot Act 1414, the Tumultuous Petitioning Act 1661, the Riot Act in the time of George 1 and the Shipping Offences Act 1793. The Schedule then refers to ‘Other enactments in force in States’ and mentions the New South Wales Crimes Act 1900, the Victorian Crimes Act 1958 and Unlawful Assemblies and Processions Act 1958, the Queensland Criminal Code, the South Australian Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935-1966, the Western Australian Criminal Code Act 1913 and the Tasmanian Criminal Code. Finally the Schedule refers to ‘Other enactments in force in Territories’ and mentions, in relation to the Australian Capital Territory, the Party Processions Prevention Act 1901 of New South Wales and the Crimes Act 1900 of New South Wales, in its application to the Territory; and, in relation to the Northern Territory, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act and Ordinance 1876 to 1969, as in force in the Territory.
So the subject matter dealt with in this Bill is not new. It is a subject that has been dealt with periodically right through the history of our society and the evolution of the way of living that we have today. Quite naturally, there have to be restraints on people who are anti-social. This will always be so. But the overwhelming majority of people are law abiding. The laws are enacted by Parliament, which consists of people representing, as they believe, the wishes of the majority of the people. That is accepted.
But the atmosphere that prevails in our society today is a changing one. We are dealing with a set of circumstances that has not had an exact precedent in days gone by, when the other enactments were introduced. The dilemma that faces this country is endemic in the social and economic system under which we live here in Australia. But it is manifesting itself not only here but also in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, many parts of Europe and even in Japan, where the youth are protesting against their lack of national purpose and their lack of something in which to believe and for which to strive. I should like to proceed to give some of the reasons why this is so and to state what it is absolutely imperative for each individual government and society to do in order to be able to solve in some way this explosive problem, which is so widespread.
I do not believe that laws or Bills such as the one we have before us now will make a contribution in any way towards the solution of this problem, lt is my view that force begets force, that a movement such as that which is so evident and so widespread today will eventually find its own solution and that the laws and attitudes of society will have to adapt themselves to the situation as it develops. I believe, in the first place, that the reason why the youth of this country are disillusioned and are protesting lies in our political system. After all, protest of this nature or magnitude is relatively new and the measures taken against the protesters are relatively new. If there have been cases in the past, they have been rather few and far between.
As 1 see it, the political system in our country and in the other countries I have mentioned is such that the true expression of the hopes and ambitions of the young people is frustrated by the power that exists in the various sections of the Establishment. Firstly, I believe that the unavailability of a wide spectrum of information and education through our news media - Press, radio and television - is creating and even extending tensions. I refer to the policy of the media of reporting only the things that will stimulate the negative side of young people and depriving them of information and knowledge that they are seeking in order to solve their own inner problems. The mass media of this country are owned by people who have every reason to preserve the establishment. They feel every justification to use their power to preserve their own privileged position in society. The owners of the Press, by personal intervention, through editorials or slanting of the reporting aim to suppress much information that young people should have, about nol only their own society but also other parts of the world. This practice also contributes to tension.
It is proclaimed that we live in a democratic society in which the will of the people prevails. However, during an election campaign the overwhelming bulk of the time devoted to radio and television political programmes favours the establishment and is strongly directed to the negative side of people and to fear. It is used on the principle that when doubt can be created in a person’s mind he will stick to the status quo. This again builds tension.
There is a great generation gap as well as a gap between the minds of the younger and older people in the community. The older people had less opportunity for education in their younger days. The younger people have not experienced a depression and do not want to be reminded of the last one. They do not want to be reminded of World War 1 and World War II, but those were dominating events in the lives of members of the older generation. Our younger people do not want to hear about the mistakes of the past. They want to know what the future holds for them, but at election time the proposition put most frequently to them is that preservation of the status quo is desirable and that a change could bring about all sorts of fearful situations. The greatest offender in this respect is the Democratic Labor Party in the type of campaign it wages.
Members of the DLP know very well that they appeal to only a very small section of the community, but it is sufficiently large to give them the position they hold in the Senate. They do not need to be positive. By continuing to be negative they retain the power that attaches to holding the balance in the Senate, but their type of propaganda causes harm to the youth of this country. Our young people hear from the DLP in election campaigns that we are likely to be invaded by China. The DLP knows that that is impossible, but they put about that an invasion is imminent and we must divert our resources to build up a military and defence complex against that inevitable threat. That is palpably false and helps to build up tensions in our young people. When an election is over no more is said about imminent invasion by China and the daily, or almost hourly, onslaught by television of the terrible things that could happen ceases. The DLP settles down to whatever gain it has received from its propaganda, but a legacy remains after this 3-yearly attack on the minds of our young people. That atmosphere pervades our society today and this Bill attempts to deal with it.
This measure is not only unnecessary but could also lead on to a situation in which a government could become more and more fearful of its inability to cope with community tensions. Its activities could be extended to an even more repressive level. Governments of any political colour face events that will be a great cause for anxiety due to factors inherent in our economic system. I have in mind its basic weaknesses and I will refer to a few of them. For instance, let us study our social services. At the time of each Budget the Government slightly increases its social service contributions. I often wonder whether this is done because of the votes that can be gained or whether it is directed towards giving the aged people of our country some dignity in the evening of their lives. Our young people know very well that in our society are tens of thousands of aged and invalid people living without dignity because of their economic circumstances, poor accommodation and many other factors.
Our young people are asked to believe that we live in an affluent, society. They are advised to get in and work, to pull their weight, to join the service clubs and such like because this society can lead to great things. But people who interest themselves in social research tell us that all is not right. The Government and the Press tell a good story, but in reality great pockets of underprivileged and impoverished people live in our so called affluent society. Frustration is also building tension in young people who embark on marriage. When they start to buy a, home they find inequities that they challenge. The cost of land has risen so high in this country that it places on the shoulders of young people a burden for the rest of their lives. Added to it is the cost of buying or building a house. Inflation has allowed costs to soar. Young people who should be able to obtain accommodation at a price within their means face burdensome repayments including the very high charges inherent in the inflationary capitalist system. In the capitalist system, it is the object of every one who can sell to do so at the highest possible price in order to make the highest profit. In the long run, the buck is passed to the young people who are starting off in married life and the burden finishes on their shoulders. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 20 April (vide page 897).
Proposed new clause 5.
– I move:
The amendment that I have moved accords with the remarks which I made at the second reading stage of this Bill. The purpose of the proposed new clause is to see that the scope of the Bill extends to all of the officers whose remunerations or allowances are determined by the Governor-General or by a Minister. Honourable senators will recall that over the last 12 months the Senate on a number of occasions has amended Bills which have come to the chamber, either by way of substantive amendment to that Bill or, if it was an amending Bill, by amendment to the principal enactment to achieve that objective. This was to ensure that the holders of certain statutory offices have their remuneration fixed by Parliament. This ensures the supremacy of Parliament in exercising its financial controls. We did that in relation to the officers referred to.
The Bill refers to ‘certain officers’. We want that definition to cover all of those who are dealt with by way of ministerial or Governor-General determination. The Senate may recall that questions were asked at the second reading stage. I do not wish to repeat what was dealt with then. We received information as to what salaries were being paid to a great number of holders of statutory office. We also received the extraordinary information that there was no public record of what was being paid to the holders of some of those offices. This information did not appear in any statute, regulation or annual report. It did not appear in the Estimates. It was not available anywhere. We are in the process of correcting this position. As I understand it, a majority of senators on a number of occasions has expressed the view that this principle should be carried out. The way to carry it out, I think, is to see that the officers covered by this Bill are not only those with whom we dealt previously but also those who have a salary or remunera tion fixed by Governor-General or ministerial determination.
The approach to this matter could have been to set out in the Schedules to the Bill a further schedule whichnominated the officers and the enactments. I did go to some trouble to prepare a list of those who ought to be covered, but it has been suggested to me that the purpose might be achieved more simply and more certainly by an amendment of the nature that I have now moved. If there are any difficulties in this regard I think it is important that the Committee ought to be told. If difficulties arise in relation to any specific office, the Committee ought to be told. I think it is important that this principle not only be resolved by the Senate as it has on these half dozen occasions already. We also ought to see that it is carried through. If the suggestion is made that the Government is undertaking this task, I would welcome this being done with some precision. We have noted with great approval that this principle has been included in a number of Bills recently. One example is the Bill to amend the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act. That Bill has not yet reached this place. The formula that we have used in the past and is contained in the amendment that I have moved is provided in that Bill. That indicates that the Government has adopted these procedures. If it does this in respect of each Bill of this type which comes before us, that will be an entirely satisfactory way of seeing that the principle is being carried out.
But I understand it to be the wish of the Committee that the adoption of this principle ought not to depend upon a Bill for a new Act or an amending Bill coming before this Committee, but that all of the officers who are to be dealt with ought to be dealt with. It would be desirable, whatever the fate of this amendment, if the Government were to give us an indication of just what is being done. The Government has included this principle voluntarily, if I may put it that way, in the new Bills coming before this chamber. It seems to have adopted this principle. The Government should state whether this practice will be continued so that we need not concern ourselves with this problem in respect of each Bill of this type which comes before us. lt would be helpful for us to know what the position is.
The other point is this: Will the Government indicate with some precision, if that is possible, whether it proposes to introduce a substantive measure to deal with all of these officers? Further, I would like the Minister to indicate to me any difficulties that have arisen in relation to certain officers. I do not think I need indicate to the Senate the importance of this principle. The majority of honourable senators has become persuaded of the importance of the principle and has been actuated with a desire to see H carried out. It is a very narrow point on which we are engaged. Do we create this proposed new clause by the kind of amendment that I put forward or would it have been better, as it seems it might have been, if I had put forward a schedule and nominated the particular officers? Can we rely upon the Government to do the job in the near future? I put the amendment. Perhaps the Minister might be able to indicate the position.
(5,5) - 1 would like to respond to Senator Murphy’s comment that in some respects we are in a narrow field of perhaps opposite views. The area is narrow in one way but yet within the significance of the proposed amendment there is a wide coverage - perhaps an absolute coverage. I am sure Senator Murphy is aware, and I am sure Senator Byrne is aware of it too because he has had discussions with Senator Murphy, that I could stand in my place and argue that the proposed amendment is in conflict with standing order 201. I am equally aware that Senator Murphy by way of research through the Public Service Board and the Parliamentary Counsel has endeavoured to obtain a formula to arrive at his amendment. I do not feel disposed to push my point of order. I think perhaps historians will look at this matter one day and say that this is a case where the Leader of the Government in the Senate failed to take every point. But if one takes a point one always gets a point in return. I am conscious of that fact. If I took the point of order Senator Murphy could go about his amendment in another way. Perhaps we can let the point of order pass by and come to the matter of substance.
I am very much aware that over a period of time - I do not know whether it is 6 months or 12 months - in many instances Bills have come here which have included the words: ‘As the Governor-General directs’. Honourable senators have set their hearts against these words and voted to insert a 6-months sanction and so make it as Parliament directs’. There has been a procedure for the salaries and allowances to appear in the Appropriation Bill with the qualification that where there are special allowances they would be subject to disallowance. I am aware of this. I think that is what Senator Murphy was referring to. I am equally aware that we have let Bills go through without a reference to that situation. I think the last such Bill was the Overseas Telecommunications Bill. As Senator Murphy knows the Australian Labor Party has a vigilant deputy - I am referring to Senator Douglas McClelland - who speaks with great authority on telecommunications matters. That is a case in which the Senate did not respond to the proposal.
– We did not notice it in that case.
– If honourable senators opposite did not notice it that is fair enough. 1 am not saying that in a charitable way. But the will of the Senate did not reflect an almost unanimous decision. I want to give 2 assurances. I hope that Senator Murphy will withdraw his amendment when I give these assurances because it seems to me that we are getting close to agreement. The first assurance is one which I gave during the second reading speech when I said that the Government was prepared at least annually to put down a document which would cover the whole field in relation to emoluments, stipends, part time allowances and the whole variety of allowances. Once this document is put down it alerts the Senate to any particular aspect. Senator Murphy knows that to obtain this information from the Public Service Board requires a lot of research because we are going back a long way. I have had a document prepared for me by the Public Service Board which gives some of the historical background. This procedure started back in 1911, I think in Deakin’s time. When the Commonwealth Bank Act was introduced Fisher was the Minister and it had words in it similar to: ‘As the Governor-General directs’. This also occurred in Mr Hughes’s time, during the time of the Bruce-Page Government, the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government. By the honourable senator’s standards those governments were bad offenders. But that is history. It is not simple to do what the honourable senator wants to do by way of a dragnet provision to bring all Acts into line.
I give a second assurance in good faith. As would be appreciated, when Bills with this provision in them are coming to this place, as a Cabinet Minister and an honourable senator with responsibilities I always receive a red light signal somewhere in my head. I am in the process of preparing a submission to the Government pointing out that this is obviously a matter which requires the support of honourable senators. I am speaking not only about honourable senators opposite but also honourable senators on the Government side because these amendments would not be passed unless there was a degree of support from the Government side and also from the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Apart from occasions when honourable senators did not see the provision, they have strongly held the view that salaries should be determined as the Parliament directs, with a qualification for disallowance in regard to special allowances. 1 say in good faith that I am putting this submission to the Government. It will be a matter for the Government to decide. The work is going on. The schedules of information are being prepared. I am in the process of putting a view to the Government on the matter. At this stage that is all that I can commit myself to. I hope that honourable senators will not want to come to the matter of substance in the amendment. I think it would be reasonable to withdraw it and let the Bill pass.
– I am indebted to Senator Murphy and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for indicating to the Senate their attitude in relation to the amendment proposed by the Opposition. The attitude of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to this matter has always been clear. To some extent the amendment moved by Senator Murphy epitomises, at least in intent, what the Democratic Labor Party has in mind. These adjustments by way of statute should not be made arbitrarily and just sporadically as a principal Act is being amended before this chamber. If it is intended that this principle should be applied then it should be applied to all those officers to whom’ it is intended to apply without discrimination, .excluding those to whom it is thought inappropriate to apply it. This amendment at Senator Murphy’s instance purports to do this.
The attitude of the Democratic Labor Party is that a blanket amendment like this should not be moved without a close analysis of every position which may be affected and without a dissection showing the officers concerned, the type of officers, and the administrative difficulties which arise as a result of fixing some salaries by statute. Perhaps when Senator Murphy directs his mind to this situation or when it is brought to his attention he may think that it may be more appropriate in certain circumstances for the salaries and allowances to be fixed otherwise. We think it is rather dangerous and imprudent to do this. Therefore in the light of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s assurance about the complexities associated with this situation we think it is imprudent to accept a blanket amendment of this character. I think that in view of the form and method of the matter which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has presented, or which has been presented by the appropriate Minister to the Government, and his assurance that the matter is within the cognisance of the Government, Senator Murphy may consider not pursuing his amendment. The Democratic Labor Party says that it will rest in anticipation of this matter being pursued assiduously in the light of the general principle which has been enunciated and which has been accepted by the Senate. In those circumstances I support the Bill and resist the amendment which, in these circumstances, Senator Murphy may be disposed not to pursue. I commend that course of action to him.
– As one of those who has supported the general principle which has been spoken about on the occasions when votes have been taken in this chamber, I indicate that I shall adopt the attitude which was described by
Senator Byrne as the attitude of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Perhaps I would adopt a stronger attitude than the DLP because it has come from the leader of my own Party, whose assurances I naturally accept and follow and wish to see followed by everyone. I simply indicate that I for one would not support Senator Murphy’s amendment
– In the light of the assurances given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), which I accept, I think the reasonable course is to withdraw the amendment. We want to see the principle carried through and it seems that it will be carried through. If anything were to occur whereby the Government did not agree with the submissions being made, we will have the opportunity to deal with this matter again, because it would arise if an increase of another 6 per cent were granted or something of that nature.
– There is only one thing that worries me. I may be confronted with one problem in my assurances. One or two of the Bills in the pipeline may have this problem in it. I will have to look at that.
– If this formula is included in, say, the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bill, we would be happy with that.
– My assurances still stand.
– 1 accept the assurances. We are well aware of the persuasiveness of the Leader of the Government. Therefore, we feel that his submissions will carry the day. In the light of those assurances, I ask for leave to withdraw the amendment.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a third time.
– Before the next matter is called on, it might serve the convenience of honourable senators if the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) were to indicate what he has in mind for the Senate this evening.
– Perhaps I could do that quickly before the next matter is called on. The Senate business paper shows that General Business is to take precedence after 8 p.m. We also have to take the reports of the Estimates Committees. They will be presented by the various chairmen who will move that the papers be printed. That is not Government business; that is parliamentary business. As soon as the various 5 reports are ready they will be brought up. It will not take very long. At 8 o’clock tonight we will move on to General Business, orders of the day. The first item shown in the notice paper is the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. Senator Murphy will make his second reading speech on that Bill and then a Government Minister will move for the adjournment of the debate. The second item is the Constitution Alteration (Tertiary Education) Bill. Senator Turnbull will make his second reading speech on that Bill and again a Government Minister will move for the adjournment of the debate. The third item is the Commonwealth and State revenue - proposed Joint Select Committee, which was initiated on the motion by Senator Little. 1 understand that Senator Little is not desirous of speaking tonight. In any event, Senator Cotton is in continuation and 1 think we could defer that one.
Then what I propose to do, with the concurrence of the Senate, is to go progressively through General Business items - there are quite a lot of them - to see whether we can clean some of them up. Where the motion is that the Senate take note of the paper, if the senator in whose name it appears wishes to continue with his comments he may do so. Where the motion is that the Senate take note of the paper but it is a matter that has been on the notice paper for a long time, if the mover is agreeable, it will be removed from the Business Paper.
– Is it possible for honourable senators in whose name these motions stand to indicate before the suspension for dinner whether they propose to deal with the matter. In that way, any honourable senator who is concerned with a particular matter will know before dinner whether it is going to proceed.
– That would be right enough, but I point out that I looked at this question, loo. In fact, my own Whip pointed it out to me in fairness to my own Government senators, and I looked at it again. There are a tremendous number of items. It is obvious that some of them will be taken off the notice paper or deferred. In most cases the motion is that the Senate take note, anyway, and I do not think that they will excite very great debate. But if in the dinner break it can be localised, as Senator Byrne has suggested, we will certainly localise it and let honourable senators know. Speeches are to be made in relation to at least the first 2 matters, and I believe there are some others. If we dispose of orders of the day we can then move on under General Business to notices of motion. There are several in my name which I would like to project. For instance, notice of motion No. 5 is in my name. That motion proposes that debate on urgency motions should not exceed 2 hours. There is one other notice of motion there in relation to the appointment of a Standing Orders Committee, which I also have in mind we should dispose of at an appropriate time. So I want to have a clean up process under General Business tonight.
– Could I suggest that the Whips, through their leaders, be asked to canvass senators in whose names resolutions stand and indicate to the Government Whip just what they propose to do. Would that be possible?
– I am perfectly happy to do that. It is a long hard haul because this is a big Senate and getting the individual senators to give an indication of their desires at short notice is not easy. I think the Whips between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. could put their hands to it and see what comes up. I accept Senator Byrne’s suggestion that we deal with the first 2 orders. of the day and if we then find something which may precipitate a real debate we should have some idea about it. Perhaps we should let the Whips, of whom Senator Byrne is one, go to work to see what they can do.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971.
Dried Fruits Levy Collection Bill 1971.
Dried Fruits Research Bill 1971.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee A on the additional Estimates for the year 1970-71.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)I present the report of Estimates Committee B relating to particulars of proposed additional expenditure 1970-71, together with the Hansard transcript of the proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee C on the additional Estimates for the year 1970-71, together with the Hansard transcript of the proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee D on the additional Estimates for the year 1970-71.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee E on the additional Estimates for the year 1970-71.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 1166).
– When the debate on this Bill was adjourned I was talking about the great problems that confront the youth of today in the inflationary economy of a society that fails to give them the end purpose they seek. I had spoken about the standard of living of aged and invalid people and about many of them being tucked away in our affluent society and forgotten. This factor adds to the tensions that I have already outlined as forming the background to and described as being the cause of the atmosphere that prevails in our community. It was in this atmosphere that the Bill we are discussing was conceived.
I would like also to mention while I am on this proposition that recently 1 read an outline of a survey conducted into hire purchase commitments. The average person in the community who can afford to pay cash for commodities is much better off than the young people - the newly marrieds with young families - who have these heavy commitments. I believe that publicity should be given to the fact that the young people who have to purchase things under hire purchase are being exploited. Apparently they believe that they are paying a rate of interest of 8 per cent or 9 per cent, but this survey showed that the average flat rate of interest that most of the insurance and hire purchase companies charge is up to 18 per cent and 20 per cent. This exploitation is regarded by these companies as good business, but I regard it as one of the immoral aspects of our financial system. It is one of the aspects that is being questioned by young people today. It is one of the root causes of them wanting to find another way, other than through the Parliament because the Parliament will not do anything for them as it is afraid to do anything that might rock the boat of the Establishment, to solve their problems. Many of these young people do not want to go into the streets and protest but they have been forced to do so because they are discontented with and frustrated by the fact that such a state of affairs exists.
One has only to consider the high interest rate which is charged on overdrafts. Many of those people who are favoured enough to be in a position to obtain a mortgage are paying what, in the terms of Shakespeare, are Shylock rates. Despite this we find that all the laws, including the terms of this Bill, are directed towards protecting the continuation and perpetuation of these things. The title of this Bill indicates that it is designed to protect property. Its object is to protect persons and property. The organisations that deal in the accumulation of money are all a part of this term ‘property’, although they themselves are involved in an exercise that, in terms of human standards and human welfare, could be classified as immoral. The result is an accumulation of various conflicting factors.
Recently the ramifications of the stock exchanges in Australia were exposed. What did the people of Australia find out about this citadel of the system - with all its ethics and gentlemen’s agreements - that they had trusted to invest their money in what they believe was the development and the advancement of a young country which is rich in natural resources and bright in its possibilities for the future? They found out, to their horror, that their money was in the hands of people who could be virtually classified as unscrupulous and opportunistic. These people were operating within a framework of business which enable them to exploit the shareholders and to delude the public. 1 believe that the exposing of this practice is one of the finest things to have been done by the Senate. I believe that the highest praise of the Senate should be extended to those people who were responsible for doing it.
Not only was this citidel of the economic system exposed but also the built in practice of resale price maintenance was exposed. It was explained earlier by Senator Kennelly how little pressure was needed to prick this balloon of the Establishment. Under the practice of resale price maintenance people could, on the one hand, get together and arrange to withdraw, if necessary, their goods from the community unless a usurer’s price was obtained whilst, on the other hand, the very same people said to the men working in industry: ‘If you do not deliver up your labour at the price that we set we will not only fine you but also gaol you’. These are the contradictions that are up for questioning by the young people of Australia. Some are content to voice their feelings in the forum of the streets by demonstrating whilst others are simply opting out or wearing outlandish clothes and the like. They are protesting in various ways to show that they are not satisfied with the way in which our society is operating.
I would also like to say something about the contribution - or lack of contribution - that is being made by our church bodies. In my view it is the responsibility of the churches to try to spread the gospel of love, kindness, brotherhood and the other Christian virtues. On occasions when the Australian Council of Churches or some other religious organisation has spoken out on some moral issue the Press has either damned it with faint praise or has ridiculed it. On the other hand, some of the strongest churches which should be in the forefront on the moral issues of our time are conspicuously silent at a time when they should be most vocal and most effective. The whole principle of Christian ethics is to try to elevate the dignity of mankind. Not only internally but also internationally the exploitation of man by man goes on. The churches with their investments are deeply involved in this very great moral issue. 1 also feel that the churches have been remiss in their efforts, guidance and leadership on the issue of peace or war. The churches have been very slow to carry out what I believe should have been their proper responsibility in relation to our involvement in a series of wars since the end of the Second World War, particularly the present war in Vietnam. I believe that the churches have to exhibit a much greater responsibility in relation to racism than they have exhibited so far. How can you possibly spread beliefs world wide if you divide the world not only into economic compartments but also into eoi; oured compartments? This adds to the theme that I am developing that these pressures are continually building up in the community. They will find an outlet for expression. 1 mention another cause, the effects of which are one reason for the introduction of the Bill. I refer to the failure of our education system. It has been confined to an orthodox method of education. On close examination, history has been biased and at times falsified for the purpose of elevating one racial group at the expense of another and has given a one-sided view of the development of nations. When people enter the hurley burley of adult life they expect to be able to carry with them many of the things they learned in school. They find great contradictions existing in many of the things that they were taught. Because of the narrowness of the approach of the educational system, they have narrow views. The present generation realises these things and they contribute to a widening not only of the generation gap but also of the mind gap. Older people cannot understand why young people adopt the attitude that they are adopting today.
Different types of young people are rebelling. I suppose the most noticeable are the anti-war protesters, who, basically, are against war because they understand the stupidity and the futility of war. From their parents they have been able to obtain information that in one generation there have been 2 World Wars and other wars continually during that period. In the final analysis it appears that the winners lose and the losers win. There is no advantage in war. War brings destruction, hardship and often starvation. It breaks down the human spirit and degrades and dehumanises man. The anti-war protesters and the anti-conscription protesters are those groups of youths which have woken up to many of the things about which I have spoken. They are the lucky ones. They know that they will overcome one day. Their song is: ‘We shall overcome’. They know that, if they continue to protest and if they continue to devote their energies towards the betterment of society and towards the achievement of a better world, they will overcome. They have something to do; they have some purpose and they derive satisfaction from it. They are creating a feeling of nervousness in the minds of the establishment and those intelligent people who know what makes society tick. The establishment has spokesmen who are fanatically anti-Socialists. This was illustrated by the speech made by Senator Little earlier today. The protesters include quite a substantial proportion of university graduates, university students and other young people.
– Would you say about 5 per cent?
– It does not matter what the percentage is. I am listing the various types of young people who will be affected by this legislation. The next category is the young people who have not been properly alerted and who are not fully aware of the contradictions that exist not only in history but also in living in our economic, social and political systems. They will rebel against anything. They want to buck authority. We have always had them and we always will have them. The number of such young people is growing. They feel that, because something is wrong, they must rebel. They turn to violence, vandalism and the other things about which we read in the Press. They turn to drug taking - escapism. Often they turn within themselves and take it out on themselves. They are against everything. The most interesting part about the present day attitude of most young people is that they are quite content to maintain the status quo. They are doing all right. Their parents have been able to provide for them. They have been through the right channels, have joined the right service clubs and have gone quietly along the stream. They regard themselves as kind, considerate people who do not want to hurt anyone.
The amazing thing is that these young people do not mind what happens so long as it happens to the other fellow. So long as they are not called into the draft they do not mind reading in the newspapers about napalm and defoliants being dropped on someone else’s country. They do not mind so long as the people on whom those things are dropped are the enemy, the National Liberation Front, the Congs err the Commos or someone else. They do not mind so long as these things are wrapped up in nice little parcels like bombs or canisters. They do not mind so long as the human element is taken out of war so that these things can be dropped from aircraft or fired in artillery pieces and the like. Then they can accept these sorts of things without qualms.
It is amazing how long the Press of Australia and other countries was able to cover up the massacres, the torture and the brutality in Vietnam about which we are now hearing. Veterans in the United States of America are appearing before committees and telling of their experiences. These things seem to have been suppressed somehow for a long time. Now we are discovering that they are true. These young people I am referring to get angry if you try to point out these things to them. They say that all these things are done by the other side, not by our side. These young people cannot grasp the idea that advances in communication and transport and all the other conquests of increased technology and scientific knowledge have meant inevitably that humanity embraces all mankind, not just one section or race or creed. They feel that being against an anti-war movement or against the protesters satisfies their need for something to do.
We must not forget that section of youth which does not bother at all one way or the other. These are the good time boys. We have had them always. Our young people have been told for generations that their teenage is the time to be carefree - that it should be enjoyed to the full. I do not suppose we can blame them for doing this. We cannot blame them entirely because one out of every twelve young lads aged 20 is likely to be called up for national service. National service is not a very popular topic of discussion amongst them. They feel that it is their good luck if they can avoid national service. It is most disturbing that that age group has hanging over its head the responsibility or the obligation to undertake national service and to take part in a war that, possibly, they disagree with, a war which has never been declared.
Perhaps they feel also that many of the problems in our society are with us because we cannot afford to put them right. If a proposition is put forward for increases in social services the cry throughout the media is: Where will we get the money? We never hear of any shortage of money to run a war. There is always plenty of money to buy Fills or to finance any sort of military equipment, for the Air Force, for the Army or for the Navy, together with all the other things associated with war. There is never any trouble in this regard. It would be interesting if we added the sum total of expenditure by this country on wars over the last 70 years and determined the gain to Australia as against the loss through the sheer waste of that capital. If that money had not been wasted in that way I am sure that our youth would be looking forward to a much more ordered society and a far better future than many of them see before them today.
Many people today feel that the money they pay towards the war in Vietnam in the form of taxation is their contribution towards defence. Many of them do not mind that this money is being spent in this way. Yet we also find from time to time when hunger campaigns are organised that charitable organisations have to go round collecting moneys. We see this contrast, wastefulness on the one hand and a crying need on the part of so many starving and underprivileged people in the world on the other hand. No wonder these people criticise and question.
The same thing applies to money spent on space exploration. I suppose there are abstract advantages to be gained by scientists who master space. One-upmanship comes into it because one nation can prove how much superior it is to another. Nations direct their resources towards being the first to land a man on the moon or the first to erect a space platform. I often wonder whether our priorities are right and whether the enormous funds involved in these outer space programmes should not be redirected towards improving and solving some of these basic problems to which I have referred.
I do not think there is any country which does not have a big armaments budget, yet I believe that the youth of Australia is looking forward to the day when some organisation like the United Nations, or some form of world government, will reduce, if not abolish, the need for the great waste of money on armaments. I am certain also that our young people question the fact that there is widespread hunger. We know of the present calamities involving displaced persons in Pakistan. We know of the experiences in Calcutta and other areas of India. Senator Douglas McClelland has just returned from South America where he saw the great contrast of great riches alongside abject poverty. On the one hand we are seeking markets for our surplus food supplies and on the other hand we see people on the verge of starvation. We cannot solve the problem because of the economic factors involved.
I am certain that the morality of our present day society will be of great interest to sociologists in days to come. They will try to discover why we tolerate these great contradictions. I am certain they will wonder about our standards of measuring the morality of intelligent men who manufacture and store deadly germs, nuclear bombs, lethal gases and all the other terrible weapons devised to destroy other sections of the human race. I am sure that they will query the sort of yardstick that is used when they study the war trials of the Nazi war criminals and consider that the very nations which set up those courts were at that time discussing the possibilities of atomic war and searching for devices which could lead to massacre on a far grander scale than was ever contrived by Hitler and his gang of wicked men. I suggest that many of the scientists who at that time were able to migrate from Germany to the United States had more scope and more money available for the tasks on which they were occupied than they could ever have hoped for under Hitler.
Some people have moral standards which enable them to condone this kind of thing, yet if people of a particular race do not wear formal dress, or wear little or no clothes, they are regarded by some people as being in a state of moral decay. Young people are emerging into a world in which they find warped examples of a national morality. That is why we find today that various sections of the community are looking for some form of national purpose and some form of society to which they can devote their energies, where their energies can be absorbed and where they will have an ideal. Youth must have an ideal, and that ideal finally must come down to the basic point that they must live and let live. They have to understand that people of all classes, colours and creeds have equal rights under the sun. They have to restate and subscribe to the great principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; they have to restate principles, like those laid down in the Magna
Carta, which were won by struggle and demonstrations; they have to revive the very things that have been the fabric of civilisation through its process of evolution. In doing that it will be found that the young people of this country have greater prospects and potential if they have some purpose.
I believe that this legislation is negative. I believe that it is reducing the field of human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of association and all those other freedoms without which man can never reach his estate. I disagree with this measure, not that I believe that there is anything in it that is not contained in other legislation but because it was devised as a political gimmick, one which has misfired. I think the measure should be treated with contempt. That is the attitude that I take towards it and so I oppose it.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business After 8 p.m.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to abolish the death penalty under the laws of the Commonwealth. The Bill seeks to remove the death penalty, entirely and without qualification, from all Commonwealth Acts, regulations, ordinances and other laws. It is a simple measure which, in effect, substitutes the penalty of life imprisonment for the punishment of death wherever death is the existing penalty for a crime. At present the only domestic crime in Federal Territories for which the death penalty is retained is murder, although on a Commonwealth basis treason is still punishable by death, as are certain crimes committed on aircraft. If this Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, the Commonwealth will no longer be capable under the criminal code of committing official homicide.
Nearly 3 years ago this chamber passed an identical Bill. It was transmitted to the
House of Representatives, where debate commenced but was not completed. This is a major social reform and it is time the Government made. a firm decision on it. The Government’s intentions are clouded. A Press report last year said that the then Attorney-General would take before Cabinet the draft of a new criminal code for the Federal Territories which avoided recommending a penalty for murder. The Law Council of Australia, which drafted the new code, said at that time that the question of penalty was one of policy for the executive Government. The same Press report also claimed that the then AttorneyGeneral had recommended the abolition of the death penalty for murder and that he would have strong support for his stand.
Apart from where the Government stands on this important question, there is little doubt where the public stands. The death penalty in this country is on the way out. In New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania capital punishment has been abolished. In the Australian Capital Territory, according to an answer given by Senator Wright in March 1969, no execution has taken place since the Territory was accepted by the Commonwealth. In the Northern Territory the last execution took place in 1952. In the Territory of New Guinea only 2 executions have occurred since the post-war resumption of civilian administration. They were in 1954 and 1957. In the Cocos Islands, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island no executions have occurred since the Territories were accepted by the Commonwealth.
The death penalty remains on the statutes only in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia. The new Labor Government in Western Australia has said that it will move quickly to abolish it. In South Australia a Bill to abolish both capital and corporal punishment was introduced in the House of Assembly last session. It passed the Lower House, where the Labor Government has a majority, but failed to get through the Legislative Council, where the Liberal Country League has a majority. The Labor Government plans to attempt to revive the Bill in the next session. Despite the anachronistic attitudes of some governments, the unfortunate Ryan, who was hanged in 1967, could well be the last man in Australia’s history to die on the gallows.
I say thai without any suggestion other than that the crime committed by him was one which certainly could not be tolerated by any civilised society. Indeed, his case occasioned great controversy and perhaps illustrates one of the two major grounds which might be taken by those who oppose the abolition of capital punishment.
The first of those two grounds seems to me to be the one illustrated by the Ryan case, which was that there may be cases in which it may not be possible, even with all reasonable measures, to imprison persons without endangering the lives of those guarding them. The other ground, it seems to me, is that a man or a woman may prefer death to life imprisonment, which some people regard as being more cruel than execution. But, notwithstanding those two grounds. I believe that the interests of society ought to be regarded as more important than those of the individual who may prefer death to life imprisonment. If society thinks it is important not to be associated with this kind of punishment, that should prevail over the wishes of the individual. In the other case it is difficult to accept that, with all the resources of a modern technological society in which resources are improving daily, it will not be possible to maintain in imprisonment even the most desperate and dangerous persons without endangering the lives of those guarding them.
– Would you give to governments a statutory right in those circumstances to carry out, for example, frontal lobotomy on people who develop these curious characteristics?
– From the little knowledge that I have of frontal lobotomy, I think it has fallen into some disfavour and there may be much more simple methods of dealing with that kind of problem. The newer sedative drugs such as reserpine seem to be preferred by those who are expert in these matters.
– Would you grant to the state the right to apply modern medical or surgical terms to these people who have affronted society to such a degree that they must be locked up?
– My answer to that would be that what we ought to be doing is substituting for punishment the measures that are necessary to rehabilitate the offenders and to protect society. If the honourable senator asks me whether society should be able to take certain action that is necessary to protect society from a person who has shown himself to be a most desperate offender, my reply is that I can see very great force in that. If we were looking at it as a question of punishing the person, that would be another consideration altogether. I believe that once laws which would bring persons into the category of committing capital offences, as they were known in the past, have been broken, society certainly is entitled to take very strong measures in order to see that there is no repetition. If there was a person who needed that treatment in order to return him to some kind of human condition and if he could not be trusted at all to live on this earth without endangering the safety of others, it might well be that society would be entitled to take such measures.
– Would you accept an amendment to the Bill along those lines?
– If the honourable senator frames the amendment I will be very happy to look at it. Although in practice the death penalty may now always be commuted by political action, the grim formalities continue. Judges in the Federal Territories and in the hanging States will have to pronounce the death sentence even though they are performing a grotesque task while the death penalty remains on the statutes of half of this country. The way is still open for gross injustice because the Executive and not the judiciary will make the final life or death decision. Capital punishment has been stated to be an obscene futility, to use the words of Mr Galbally, the Leader of the Labour Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Council. He has introduced 15 anti-hanging bills in 15 years, but all in vain. If Federal legislation is passed to end such punishment, its influence may help those people in Victoria and the crusade there may be rewarded, as was that of Mr Solly Silverman in the British House of Commons.
The world trend is for abolition of the death penalty. Socially advanced countries like Sweden have had no capital punishment for nearly 50 years. Norway abolished it in 1905; Denmark in 1930; many States in the United States of America have abolished capital punishment or have greatly restricted its application. In Britain it was limited to certain cases from 1957 and the last execution occurred in 1964. Any country with progressive and humane views is tending to the view that capital punishment should not continue within its borders. Dostoyevsky wrote that if in the last moment before being executed a man, however brave, were given the alternative of spending the rest of his days on a rock pile with only enough space to sit, he would choose it with relief. As against that, examples have occurred of persons subjected to life imprisonment hanging themselves in their cells rather than face life imprisonment, but I think the answer is the one I have given - that it is a question for society, and despite the wishes of such a prisoner it is open to society to decide that it will not perform an execution upon anyone.
– Do you propose to discuss capital punishment as & deterrent, successful or otherwise?
– I think the record of history shows that it is not a deterrent. Senator Byrne, with his experience of the history of the criminal law in Great Britain, appreciates that it is evident that the sanction of capital punishment was a complete failure.
– I do not know that that is right.
– I am just wondering whether you will discuss it. I may have anticipated you.
– I had not planned to discuss it in great detail because I thought the results were so well known. The history of criminal law in Great Britain has shown that the heavier the sanctions, the greater number of crimes seem to be committed. Relatively minor offences such as stealing were dealt with by law which imposed capital punishment. Honourable senators may recall reading of the period when people who committed the crime of larceny or theft to the amount of 40s were liable to the death penalty. This so outraged the feelings of English juries that over a long period while that law remained in force they declined to find persons guilty of such an offence but would find them guilty of stealing articles or goods to the value of 39s. At first the judges regarded it as perverse when a jury would find a man guilty, for example, of stealing 100 gold sovereigns to the value of 39s; but after a while the judges as well as the juries came to realise that the full rigours of the law could not be supported and the sentiment of the juries as expressed consistently in their verdicts was accepted by the legislature. The law was amended.
– It is a very moot point, is it not, whether the thought of. an ultimate penalty is in the mind of a perpetrator of a crime at the moment of its commission?
– I think that is so. Many of the murders that occur in Australia are domestic matters. A husband becomes infuriated with his wife and strangles her, or does something in a fit of passion. No question of penalty enters his head. It may be that in the case of a professional criminal capital punishment would be some kind of deterrent, but it is hard to imagine that those who would engage in crime on a professional basis would sit down and nicely calculate the chances and the philosophical considerations. A criminal might say: ‘Is it worth while committing this crime, because I will get life imprisonment if I am caught? I would commit the crime, but not if it would involve capital punishment.’ But I think that that would be no longer accepted as reality. In fact, capital punishment is not regarded by most modern authorities on the subject as a real deterrent. Hanging has no place in Australia of the 1970s, or in any country with pretensions to being civilised. Its perpetuation on our legal statutes is now, I think, a disgrace. As Sir Eugene Gorman, Q.C., said at the time that Ronald Ryan was hanged, few people can witness an execution without becoming immediate advocates of abolition.
I would like to state some of the reasons why hanging should be abolished throughout Australia. It is not a deterrent, because the majority of murders are committed without premeditation and without thought of the ultimate penalty. In none of the many countries which have abolished capital punishment has there been an increase in the murder rate. Further, it is morally wrong for the State to take a life. It lowers regard for the sancity of life and reduces its value in the public mind. Abolition would increase public respect for the value of life and in the long run would lower the incidence of murder. That is a most important consideration. If the State itself says that it will not take a life because it is such a dreadful thing to do, this is the kind of educative example that will affect people more than anything else, more than the fact that there is on the statute book a law against it. If it is drenched into the minds of people from the time they are young that not even the State itself for the most vicious, depraved or dreadful acts will take life because it considers life to have such great sanctity, one can conceive that this would have an important pervading effect throughout the whole community. It might dissuade people, even while not being deliberate, from committing a murder.
– Do you know whether Scotland Yard or the London police force has in fact asked for the re-introduction of the death penalty?
– I do not know. I recall reading something to the effect that it had been suggested.
– The request is limited to the murder of police, I think.
– 1 think that is so. There was an exception in regard to the killing of policemen in the course of their duty. They wanted the restoration of the death penalty for that crime. That is the report I read but I cannot assist any further than that. There is also the consideration that innocent persons might be executed while the death penalty remains. That is not altogether a fanciful consideration because I think people generally would accept the view that there was a probable miscarriage of justice in the Timothy Evans case. Evans was convicted although protesting that the murderer was Christie, who had given evidence against him. I think the judge reproved Evans’ counsel for suggesting that Christie was really the murderer. After the execution of Evans further murders were committed in exactly the same kind of way, strongly suggesting that all the murders had been committed by Christie and that Evans was, in fact, innocent. Perhaps that was one of the reasons which made the British public and the legislators feel so strongly on this matter.
In Australia there have been great trials in which there has been tremendous public feeling. One of the difficulties with the death penalty is that in the cases where it is involved it is often a very dreadful crime which has been committed, such as some terrible poisoning or shocking murder of the worst type. There is a tendency for those connected with a trial to start to confuse the question of dreadfulness of the crime with the question of whether the accused committed it. Everyone knows it was a terrible crime but is the accused guilty? This is why I think that probably in the worst of crimes there is a greater danger of a miscarriage of justice than in crimes which are not so dreadful and which can be approached dispassionately. In the history of law there have been many cases of mistaken identity. When the mistake has been found out one is astonished that there could have been a mistake because the evidence shows that the guilty person was utterly unlike the person who was convicted. It is almost unbelievable that this could occur. Yet people get carried away so much with the thought that the crime was so dreadful that they forget the real issue of the guilt and guilt beyond doubt of the accused person.
We have these cases. That is another reason why it is considered that the ultimate penalty, the irreversible step, should not be taken in regard to persons who may not in fact be guilty. Statistics show that most murderers are not recidivists; that is, they do not commit the crime again after their release.
– The honourable senator said most, not all, did he?
– There have been occasions where murderers have done this but most murderers are not professional murderers or persons with some professional bent. Rather they are what we might call the domestic murderers. They have killed someone because in a fit of passion’ they have become infuriated by some conduct. With the present definition of insanity there is every possibility that a condemned man may be insane. There was the Victorian case where the authorities seemed to be almost determined to hang a man. It was only by the intervention of the courts and a long and what I think I might describe as disgraceful set of proceedings that the person was finally not hanged. Even before the High Court of Australia the authorities seemed bent on hanging the person before the proceedings could be completed. Capital punishment runs counter to the policy of reforming criminals Virtually all studies by criminologists, penologists, sociologists and psychologists favour abolition of this penalty.
It is clear that in an enlightened country the abolition of the death penalty is socially desirable and Parliament should act to lead public opinion, not follow it. The late Senior Cohen made a very powerful and convincing speech on this subject after I introduced a similar Bill before the Senate in 1968. It was passed by the Senate and then pigeonholed in the House of Representatives. Now it is time for this nationally important measure to be raised and passed again, not only in the Senate but also in the House of Representatives so that it may become law and humanity may prevail in this country, at least under Federal law. In 1968 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted overwhelmingly - 94 votes to nil with 3 abstentions, and Australia was one of the 94 - in favour of a resolution which was highly critical of capital punishment. The resolution recalled that Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and that Article 5 provides that no-one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The resolution also stated that if one looked at the whole question of capital punishment in an historical perspective it became clear that there was a worldwide tendency towards a considerable reduction in the number and categories of offences for which capital punishment might be imposed.
The resolution also noted that there was an overall tendency in the world towards fewer executions and set out a number of steps to achieve what it called the further promotion of the dignity of man. Among these steps was an invitation to member governments to ensure the most careful legal procedures and the greatest possible safeguards for the accused in capital cases in countries where the death penalty remains. The resolution asked member governments to inform the SecretaryGeneral not later than 10th December last year of actions which governments may have taken in accordance with the requests in the resolution and the results of it. It also asked the Secretary-General to invite member governments to inform him of their present attitude to possible further restriction of the use of the death penalty or to its total abolition and to state whether they were contemplating restriction or abolition. The Secretary-General was requested to submit a report to the Economic and Social Council at one of its sessions in 1971. The latest information to hand is that Australia has given an answer in relation to the request of 10th December. The answer was late and I do not know what it said. I understand that the Australian Government claimed that the answer was delayed by the passage of a Bill to abolish both capital and corporal punishment through the South Australian Parliament which I mentioned earlier tonight.
It seems possible that the Australian Government has not made clear to the United Nations its opposition to the death penalty in the Territories under its control. If it has I stand corrected but it has not made this attitude public. Therefore I hope that Australia will heed the strength of world opinion as represented by that overwhelming General Assembly vote in which it concurred. I hope that our answer to the United Nations Secretary-General shows that we are joining the ranks of the enlightened nations supporting abolition of the death penalty. With this Bill we have a choice. We can vote for the abolition of the death penalty and for progress and humanity or we can vote against abolition and stand in the way of humanity, tolerance and understanding of the human condition.
Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.
(8.30) - Tonight we are dealing with general business and not Governmen business as such. At this point of time we are dealing with Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion under General Business. With the co-operation of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and other honourable senators I propose to go through the items listed under Orders of the Day - there are some 24 of them - to see whether we can remove some of them, perhaps by taking note of the paper where that is the motion before the Senate. After doing that I would like to go on and deal with General Business, Notices of Motion, in my capacity as a senator as distinct from my responsibility as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Notices of Motion Nos 5 and 6 which stand in my name are matters which are debatable and arguable, and I think they are worthy of consideration. If it is the will of the Senate and if time permits, I would like to call them on tonight so that we can have some discussion on them.
Before I proceed to go through these items in this fashion perhaps Senator Murphy may wish to respond on the generality of what I propose. If he agrees and the Senate agrees with what I propose we can commence to go through these items as a team effort.
– I have no objection to the proposed course. I think it is a sensible one to follow. Perhaps the best thing would be to deal with the items as they occur rather than to try to go through them all. I do not quite know whether the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) intended to formulate an agenda, but I think that if we deal with these items one by one we might effectively dispose of them in one way or the other. We may spend a few minutes on some of them or we may become involved with one, in which case we would have to proceed with it. I think that if we just ran through them in order we could endeavour to dispose of them one way or the other. I think this procedure would be generally helpful.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - The first item is Order of the Day No. 2.I have been informed that Senator Turnbull does not desire to proceed with this item at this stage.
– by leave - Following on Senator Murphy’s remarks, if the Senate does not want to debate a certain matter it can do exactly what I propose to do with this item. I propose to move that it be postponed until another day.
Motion (by Senator Turnbull) agreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 2, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - The third item under Orders of the Day relates to Commonwealth and State Revenue. Senator Little proposed a motion in relation to this matter and Senator Cotton is in continuation. The matter stands adjourned, and I think that it should remain as such because we are not ready to proceed with it.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 3, be postponed.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 4, be postponed.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - The next item under Orders of the Day is No. 5, Medical and Hospital Costs - Select Committee. The debate in relation to this matter was adjourned on 2nd June 1970, and Senator Douglas McClelland is to continue his remarks. Perhaps he may wish to respond.It is a very long-standing matter, but perhaps the senator may wish to make some comments.
Debate resumed from 2 June (vide page 1832), on motion by Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– It is not my intention to speak at length on the report of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs because it is a report, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has said, that was brought down in the Senate as long ago as June 1970. However, I do wish to make one or two short observations upon the report. It will be recalled that on 2nd April 1968, more than 3 years ago, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Murphy, moved for the establishment of such a select committee to inquire into medical and hospital costs in Australia and in particular to examine the operation and administration of the medical and hospital benefit schemes and to recommend such legislation and administrative measures to be taken by the Commonwealth as would enable the provision of the optimum standards of medical and hospital care for all. That motion - again I emphasise it was proposed on 2nd April 1968 - was carried by resolution in this Senate on 3rd April 1 968 .
About a fortnight after that time, namely on 18th April of that year, the Government announced the appointment of a committee, now known as the Nimmo Committee, to review the health insurance scheme then in existence. The inquiry and report of the Senate Committee was, and has been, much more embracing than the inquiry conducted by the Nimmo Committee. Doubtlessly this explains why the Nimmo Committee was able to present its report to the then Minister for Health in March 1969 whereas the final report of the Senate Committee was not presented until June 1970.
– When do you say the Nimmo Committee report was presented?
– In March 1969, from recollection. Yes, the health insurance report was presented by the Commonwealth Committee of inquiry in March 1969, but the final report of the Senate Committee was presented in June 1970, after the presentation to the Senate of an interim report by the Committee in September 1969, which was immediately prior to the holding of the latest federal general election. The first observation that I wish to make is that I think it is a very great pity indeed that the Government seems to have taken much more notice of the restrictive Nimmo Committee report than of the Senate Select Committee’s report. The Nimmo Committee report is often referred to, discussed and debated in health circles. It seems to me that it is a tremendous pity that a much more comprehensive report, that produced by the Senate Select Committee, is not alluded to or taken heed of as frequently.
On behalf of Senator Dittmer and myself - both of us represented the Opposition on the Senate Select Committee of inquiry - I want to a particular tribute to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood, who, as we all know, will be leaving this chamber on 30th June next. She carried out a Homeric task as Chairman of the Committee. She did not spare herself for one moment and, as a result of the deliberations in which we took part, I came to have the highest personal regard for her and her desire to see the health standards of the Australian community improved.I said in June 1970, which is the last occasion on which this matter was debated before the Senate, that the report - the document which is now known as the senate Select Committee report on Health and Hospital Costs - should be referred to as the Wedgwood report in order to do justice to the work thatthat senator has done.
The second observation I would like to make is that I hope the report will be very widely distributed, especially if the Government maintains its present policy in regard to voluntary health insurance, because the recommendations contained in the Wedgwood Committee’s report lay down an effective blueprint for the proper control of medical and health insurance funds in the best interests of the Australian public. Even if the Wedgwood Committee’s report is not taken heed of in general health circles throughout Australia as much as is the Nimmo Committee’s report it has not, certainly insofar as the Senate is concerned, fallen on deaf ears because the Senate itself has already taken notice of a recommendation in the Wedgwood Committee’s report. I refer to the Committee’s recommendation at page 88 of its report relating to the appointment of a standing committee on health. The report states:
Continued parliamentary interest in matters suchas have been the subject of the Committee’s inquiry is of paramount importance. The complexities and human relevancies of the administration of health matters are such that the nation’s parliamentary representatives should keep themselves informed on them, and particularly senators, representing the States whose governments’ budgets are committed to heavy health expenditures. The existence of a standing committee of the Senate on health would serve a dual purpose - supervisory inquiry into the particular subject, in all its facets, and the opportunity for submission of views by, and discussions with, all interested persons and organisations, both professional and non-professional. The experience of the select committee has impressed its members with the advantages to be gained from such functions, and the beneficial effects on all participating in them.
Since the tabling of this report the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has been established in the interests of the Australian community. The first task that it embarked upon was to inquire into the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped - a subject which is referred to in the terms of the Wedgwood Committee’s report. I believe that the report of the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare relating to the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped will be of tremendous advantage to the public in that the report will enable the public’ to have a better understanding of this unfortunate section of the Australian community.
I am pleased that I had the honour to be chosen by the Opposition to represent it on the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. I hope that I was able to contribute in some small way to the deliberations of the Committee. The Committee had the very loyal and tremendous assistance of Mr Carroll, a senior officer of the Commonwealth Department of Health, as well as other officers of that Department. Mr Cumming Thom of the Senate staff, who acted as the Secretary of the Select Committee, was of invaluable assistance to it. Because of the voluminous detail and the important matters contained in the pages of this report, 1 would strongly commend it to all honourable senators for their reading, particularly Senator Greenwood who has only recently become the Minister for Health. I suggest to him that if he reads in detail the terms of the report and ensures that all sections of it are implemented, he will be a very successful Minister for Health.
I believe that the report had considerable bearing on the debate that ensued in Ais chamber last year - after the report had been brought down and tabled - on the National Health Bill. I again congratulate Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood for her very effective leadership and chairmanship of the Committee, and I urge the thorough reading by all honourable senators of what I consider to be a very wormy report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 10 June 1970 (vide page 2210), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– At the time of the tabling of this tentative uniform home building code any organisation or person interested in expressing an opinion on it was invited to do so before the code was finally adopted. At that time I expressed some concern about the code because, with my knowledge of the building trade, I did not think that it complied with what I thought was proper building practice in the various States. I recognised at that time the fact that the code provided only minimum standards and that it was within the competency of any authority to prescribe standards in addition to the standards the code provided, but I questioned the practicability of the code. On receipt of a copy of the code I sent circulars to the building trade unions in South Australia and the federal branch of the Building Workers Industrial Union. I was of the opinion that those unions would offer very strong criticism of the code because I did not think that it conformed with sound building practice. Regrettably I report that 1 have not received one reply from the organisations that 1 circulated. Either my opinion was wrong or they are not concerned about what is prescribed in the minimum code.
I wish to offer 2 warnings. Firstly, I question whether a minimum code for Australian standards can be evolved which is applicable to all the States of the Commonwealth. Variations in the temperature and the vagaries of the weather in the various States may necessitate having a different building practice in one State from that in another.
– What about the availability of material.
– I do not think that the availability of material would have an effect upon the code because it provides that if timber is used it shall be of such and such a quality and at such and such a spacing. However, I do not know whether the prescribed standard for the spacing of roof rafters or purlins in the Australian Capital Territory would be suitable in every State. I am sure that the minimum requirements of the code will not be suitable for such areas as the North West Cape, which experiences cyclones and so on. Those requirements would never stand up to the rigours of the winds that prevail in that area.
The other warning I wish to offer is that the belief that we should adopt a standard code to reduce building costs could well be a false assumption because I think that building costs are determined by the conditions in each State. I do not think that the minimum requirements will ever be complied with in a State in which i; is thought that something more than the minimum requirements should be applied. Although we have a uniform code, I do not think we have reached the stage at which all States will adopt that uniform code. I take it that after severe tests we do establish standards of the structural strength of certain roofing timbers, as an illustration. It is questionable whether, when we establish standards, they apply throughout all States. That is another consideration. A uniform code of building practices is not the panacea of the building trade. We have a code which will supply us with the structural strength necessary for building. While we recognise that, under certain conditions some builders may seek to go far in excess of what that code provides or possibly what is necessary.
No building of 12, 13 or 14 storeys in Australia has in it the amount of steel that the extension to the Senate side of this building has. I do not know how high it is intended that the extension will go. Possibly that quantity of steel is being used to carry the avoirdupois of the senators who will occupy the building. The average multi-storey building is built with less costly steel than is being used in the extension to the Senate side of the building. Because a certain sum has been voted for the extension, it has to be utilised by the use of expensive materials.
In view of the fact that the motion is 12 months old and in view of the fact that I have not received from the Building Trades Federation the replies on which I was relying to be critical of this code, at this stage I cannot take the matter much further. 1 ask the Senate to bear in mind that, at the time of seeking leave to adjourn this debate, I did criticise that part of the code which dealt with the building operations with which I was converstant I hope my remarks will be taken into consideration when the final code is drafted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 7 be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 24 September 1970 (vide page 879), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Senate take note of the report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26th October 1970 (vide page 1449), on motion by Senator Mulvihill:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– The reason why I take the opportunity to spend a brisk 5 minutes of the time of the chamber is because, when the matter is resolved, the statement that was tabled on 26th October will be noted. Senator Davidson and I had the pleasure to visit Yugoslavia as part of the delegation to the Council of Europe. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was at the helm of the delegation when we visited several countries. When we visited Yugoslavia we were under the leadership of Sir William Aston, the Speaker in the other place. We visited there at the time that the leaders of that country were very optimistic about the results of certain tenders submitted for some of the major hydro-electric and other construction projects in this country. They thought they might have struck the jackpot. Unfortunately that did not happen. In deference to the good will that was shown to our delegation by the Yugoslavian parliamentary delegation and because of technical discussions that we had, I felt that it would not be remiss of me to make one or two observations. I hope that the contribution I make will find its way to the Department of Trade and Industry and to the Department of National Development.
What I say I say advisedly. I know that we are supposed to adopt an international attitude as far as successful tenders are concerned. I had in mind the Gordon River project in Tasmania. There are other projects in northern Australia. If there were any inhibitions about the technical quality of the work performed by these Yugoslavian companies, I might do no less than refer to a tripartite mission that visited Europe last year to study technical training efficiency. The Litistroy engineering establishment in Slovenia was stated by Australian leaders - representatives of employees in the metal trades industries and representatives of the Metal Trades Employers Association - as having the best apprenticeship facilities in the world. Much of the work that that company has undertaken in Zambia, Algeria and countries of that nature certainly made it qualified to be successful in tendering for some of the Australian projects for which it tendered. I think, without breaking any confidences, that Sir William Aston would concur. From speaking to leaders of the Slav community and to some diplomatic representatives, they were stunned when the company failed to win any of these contracts.
If we look at the trade balance with Yugoslavia - it buys wool and other things - the flow is very much our way. I know that on another occasion I questioned whether Romania was getting the inside running in relation to a licence for the production of tractors. 1 cited that country because I was deliberately trying to establish whether the Government was disturbing the industrial equilibrium so far as the ordinary work force in a particular country was concerned. We all know the Massey-Ferguson shemozzle that occurred. Obviously if licences for the production of agricultural implements can be granted to any of these countries, so much the better. I believe in this overall international trade relationship. There are many avenues which we can explore, at least if we expect these countries to be pretty heavy buyers of much of our primary produce. We should give them an opportunity to balance their trade.
I often wonder, when tenders are accepted, to what extent ideologies intervene. It was said to me, in jest 1 suppose, by a senior Yugoslavian official: ‘We should win this one’. 1. said: ‘Why?’ He said: ‘The other competitor is the USSR’. Having an idea of the Government’s general attitude, I said: ‘You should be on a winner’. The Japanese got the tender. I know the tremendous trade propaganda there is at the moment - that Japan is a bastion against other forces in that area. It may or may not be true. I do not know.
– You can be conned on many occasions.
– -That was a very apt interjection by Senator O’Byrne. Some of these countries can be conned on many occasions. He knew some of the eastern European countries from his war time experience. He knew what they encountered when Nazi Germany was on the march. I know that these countries feel very sore about losing these contracts. When it comes to financial arrangements, it was pointed out to us, when the break with Stalin came, while the American bankers cheered them on to stand up against the Soviet Union, this was not reflected in the loan terms that they got. The interest rates were pretty high. 1 conclude on this note: I commend the Government for entering into this international trade agreement. This agreement with Yugoslavia has to be more than a fine document. There has to be practical assistance. I am sure that Senator Davidson concurs. I regret that Yugoslavia has not shared in some of the big contracts. 1 have always argued that trade is blended with a degree of political courage. In the next year I will be watching the trade statistics very closely to see how much of these types of tenders are let to Yugoslavian companies.
– As one of the members of the delegation privileged to visit Yugoslavia earlier this year, in company with Mr Speaker of the House of Representatives and other members of the Parliament, including Senator Mulvihill, 1 want to indicate that this paper on the trade agreement with Yugoslavia is of more than usual interest. The matters referred to in the statement, as Senator Mulvihill well knows, became the subject not only of general discussion between members of Parliament from Australia and their opposite numbers in Yugoslavia but also at the formal discussions across and around the table.
One of the interesting things about our connection with Yugoslavia is that the trade agreement with that country is backed by substantial associations born of the movement of migrants from Yugoslavia to Australia over a period of years, particularly recent years. This is a significant association involving trade, commerce and economic relations between two countries. In the case of Yugoslavia, this association is beginning to have an effect. I think it will have even greater emphasis in the future than in the past.
There is one other thing I want to mention about this trade agreement. It provides us also with an opportunity for a trade contact with a section of Europe that no other country quite provides us with. It has opened up not only areas of political and economic discussion but also areas of trade conversation and trade development and trade actuality in an area of the world with which, up to now, we have not had active connections. It will continue to open up these areas. We have not had this association in the past. I acknowledge the oportunity given to a parliamentary delegation to have these conversations and the opportunity of mentioning them in this brief contribution to the discussion on this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(9.3) - Mr Deputy President, in my zeal to work on the notice paper I moved, and the Senate resolved accordingly, that the Senate take note of the interim report from the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. I understand that I was a bit over-enthusiastic. Therefore I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 October 1970 (vide page 1450), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– This ministerial statement was presented by Senator Cotton, representing the Minister for Customs and Excise in this chamber, on 26th October last year. It related to prohibited imports under regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. This prohibits the importation into Australia of literature and articles considered to be blasphemous, indecent or obscene. When regulation 4a was introduced in 1963 the then Minister for Customs and Excise undertook to report annually to the Parliament in respect of the number of publications allowed to be brought in for special purposes, such as recognised scientific, social or cultural work being undertaken by qualified persons. The list set out by the Minister in October 1970 showed that of a total number of 77 applications received by the Department, 68 were approved and 9 were refused.
Since the presentation of this ministerial statement there has been a lengthy debate in another place on censorship. I point out that the Senate has not had the opportunity to debate such a matter. As the Senate is a States house, and as censorship also comes within the purview of State governments, we of the Opposition believe that censorship should be discussed also, fully and at length, in this chamber. That being so I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2 November 1970 (vide page 1859), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the following matter - The incidence, distribution and causes of primary and secondary poverty in Australia and the adequacy of existing Commonwealth and State social welfare legislation.
(9.7) - I moved the adjournment of this debate last November. I am not prepared to continue at this moment. I am in the situation of doing the pedestrian work and I have not been able to put my mind to the speech I want to make. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date. Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 16 February (vide page 43), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– he reason why I moved that the Senate take note of this statement was that it seemed to me curious that the Government announced that reductions would be made in expenditure approved by Parliament in the Appropriation Bills. The point is that action was being taken by the Government without seeking a variation of the appropriations. It is important that parliamentary control of finance be quite clear and that it be maintained. Yet towards the end of last year the Parliament passed Appropriation Bills providing that certain amounts should be spent by certain departments. The appropriations were set out in divisions and subdivisions. Notwithstanding that no change had been made in those appropriations, the Government announced that cuts would be made. It did not seek parliamentary approval to do this. This does not seem to me to be consistent with the principle of parliamentary control over finance.
Because of the incongruity of this I asked questions on, I think, the 18th Feb-: mary. During the course of discussion in the Estimates Committee of which Senator Webster was Chairman, this question arose again. I do not have the Hansard report of those discussions with me so I will state what was said according to my recollection. I asked the Minister whether there was under-expenditure in various items and he said: ‘Yes, of course.’ I said: ‘Where is this shown?’ He said: ‘Under certain of the subdivisions.’ This was true. Then I said: What about the divisions that are not shown?’ Honourable senators recollect the way that these appropriations are presented to us. They show that in respect of, for example, Division 941 so much extra money is sought. Then no details are shown in respect of Division 942 or Division 943. Then there would be a line in respect of Division 944 showing that a certain sum is requested. I said: ‘It seems to me that there is a problem in relation to the divisions that are not shown. Either the appropriations are exactly correct, every single one of them, or there has been under-expenditure which is not shown as being surplus or offset.’ It may be that this was so. The Senate will forgive me if my figures are not right, but in respect of the Department of Air the position was something like this: The Department was saying that it needed another $30m and there was a proposed appropriation in respect of the Department for $30m.
The answer to the questions which then followed showed that there was an actual under-expenditure in the divisions not shown of $34m, so the Department did not need more money but in fact was going to spend $4m less than it had sought. It seemed to me, in my simple approach to the matter, that whereas the appropriation sought for the divisions or sub-divisions shown was correct, the total appropriation for the whole of the Department was incorrect, the appropriation for the whole of the Government in the supplementary appropriations was wrong and that the proper procedure would be to have a variation of the Appropriation Bills. If it is found during the course of a year that the appropriations sought are not what is required and that some alteration is desirable, surely that alteration could be achieved by an amending Appropriation Bill. It is understood that wherever an increase was required messages could be brought and there would be the appropriate parliamentary approval gained, but why is this not done by way of amendment? Supposing it happened that the day after the Appropriation Bills were put through it was discovered that a mistake had occurred. Surety in that event an amending Bill would be introduced to alter the appropriation. If h occurred 6 months later, perhaps not as a result of a mistake but because of a change of circumstances, surely an amending Bill could be introduced. In that Bill one would show not only the divisions for which an increased appropriation was sought but also that a department needed less. In the amendment decreases as well as increases could be shown. 1 have examined the statement which was prepared and presented to the Committee. Perhaps it would be convenient if this statement were incorporated in Hansard, With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate this material in Hansard.
Savings Available to Offset Amounts Sought in (he Appropriation Bills Nos 3 and 4
In his Second Reading Speeches in the House of representatives on 6th April 1971 the Treasurer stated that although additional appropriations totalling $120,968,000 in No. 3 Bill and $32,700,000 in No. 4 Bill were required, savings were expected to be available under other appropriations to the extent of $50m and $ 17.6m respectively. The Treasurer pointed out that these savings could not be legally offset so that additional appropriations could be sought as a net amount and that appropriations not fully spent lapse at 30th June in accordance with section 36 of the Audit Act 1901-1969.
Committee of Public Accounts and queries from the Auditor-General in relation to the use of the Treasurer’s Advance to provide cover for this procedure in anticipation of the passage of the Supplementary Estimates Bill.
I do not propose to take the Senate through the statement, but I should like to point out that it does not satisfy me. I do not think it is right that the Parliament should at this stage of the year be presented with an Appropriation Bill in which perhaps an amount of the order of some hundreds of millions of dollars might be sought by way of further appropriation when it is not necessary for such a sum to be appropriated to the Government. I am well cognisant of the fact that the approval has to be given for an increase in any division, sub-division or line. There is no misunderstanding of that position. Nevertheless, I am completely unsatisfied that this cannot be done by presenting a Bill which shows the reality of the position with the appropriations which it is necessary to alter, showing that more will be required in some divisions, sub-divisions or lines than was formerly requested. In that event the Parliament would alter the appropriations which had previously been made. I cannot see anything to prevent this from being done. 1 think it is a course which should be followed.
Perhaps it is because of the cutting back this year that the position has been revealed so starkly. Perhaps honourable senators were not aware of the position previously when there had not occurred the events which have revealed that the Government does not need the total further amounts which are now being sought, that it does not need the totals shown for the departments, although the amounts sought in respect of particular divisions or sub-divisions are necessary and approval for the increases must be sought. It was said in the course of the statement by the Government that consideration will be given to the preparation in future years of an information paper and that a report will be made to the Treasurer at the appropriate time. That does not satisfy me. I am not concerned merely that Parliament should be told what is being done; this should be reflected in the Bill. The Bill which becomes an Act expresses the will of the Parliament, and -.it is that will- which must be maintained by way of the Appropriation Act.
We should ensure that control over expenditure is maintained and that where there is’ a change of circumstances . warranting, a change in the appropriation of moneys that change should be made by Act of Parliament by way of an amending Bill. In that way the annual Appropriation Bill, together with what I shall caj) . the supplementary Appropriation Bill, will reflect exactly what Parliament is deciding in its deliberative way and will reflect exactly - no more and no less - the moneys which are appropriated for the purposes of government. We should not have the situation where the two taken together reflect an unreal situation which is explained in some way by a piece of paper submitted to the Parliament. This is a very serious matter. It has been said that this procedure is a matter of history. I think it was suggested that Mr Chifley introduced this procedure or was responsible for some part of it. He was a very clever Treasurer and if he wanted plenty of leeway no doubt he and his advisers were capable of finding some very good procedures to enable him to do whatever he wanted to do. But 1 think we have reached the stage where the
Parliament should maintain the stringent control over the Executive which throughout the ages has been found to be necessary. An important part of this would be the requirement that this procedure be followed. I ask the Government to consider this matter with a view to. ensuring that the Appropriation Acts reflect exactly the realities of appropriations for the services of the Government.
- Senator Murphy has raised a matter involving a report to the Senate in respect of the Appropriation Bills and I had understood that this was to be discussed at this stage. I wish to make some comment on the matter that Senator Murphy has raised, but I would prefer to defer that until we have discussed the Appropriation Bills, if it is possible for mc to do that.
– Yes, tomorrow.
– I think tomorrow would be a more appropriate- time to discuss it. I shall leave my remarks ‘ until then. ‘ ‘
– I propose to discuss the motion that. the Senate take note of the statement because I think it is one. of the most1 ‘absurd statements that we have seen presented to this chamber and it is time that1 the absurdity ceased. First I should like to support what was said by Senator Murphy; If both Houses of Parliament are required to pass an Appropriation Bill, I suggest that the course now being followed is illegal. I should like to hear from the Minister for Health (Senator Greenwood), who represents the Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen) in this place, whether it is illegal for a reduction in an appropriation to be made arbitrarily without first bringing in a Bill to the two chambers requesting that the amount to be appropriated in respect of certain items be decreased. I am not sure about the constitutional aspect. I leave that to the Minister. I maintain that Senator Murphy has a point.
The second matter I wish to raise is that the statement was made that, we had to reduce expenditure, but what have we been doing in the last couple of weeks? We have been increasing expenditure. Let us take just one item that comes quickly to my mind. Last night we were told about the appointment of 13 new reporters for the News and Information Bureau. If the Government really believed in the statement it has presented to the Parliament, it would not be increasing the staff of the Bureau; nor would it be providing an extra $100,000, I think it is, to accelerate the filling of vacancies - I .suppose, before the end of the financial year.
– They turned the spout off.
– I will come to the spout. The point is that we have a statement from . the Government saying that we must reduce expenditure because of the state of the. economy, but in the last 2 weeks we have been increasing expenditure as fast as we can. without any Minister telling the. estimates committee before which he appeared that we do not need certain money or that we should put certain money aside until after this dreadful situation in regard to the economy has passed.
That brings me to the third point. When will we stop this childishness about economies in and around Canberra and. anywhere else? What does turning off the water spout really mean? I forget how many thousands df people came to Canberra to see the city over the recent long weekend. Surely they were entitled to see what they have been paying for and will pay for in the future. The Government knows as well as we do that this is a ridiculous statement. The position is ridiculous. It is time the Government gave up this cry that the economy is in ‘ danger. Just recently it suddenly gave away $50m or $60m without any problem at all. Yet it keeps trying to tell us that the economy is sick. We think it is. We think the statement that the economy is sick could be right. But it is not sick if the way the Government is behaving is any guide. Let the Government make up its mind. If things are good and we have the money to give to people, let it stop this absurdity of not cutting the grass, not shifting a garbage bin and not turning on the water spout. In view of the colossal expenditure on the water spout, the people of Australia are entitled to see it and, as it were, get a little of their money back.
– I had no intention of rising to speak tonight, but, having sat and listened to what Senator Turnbull has just said, I am impelled to say a few words. All I can say is that, if Senator Turnbull had sat on the estimates committee of which I am a member -or another one in whose proceedings 1 participated, from discussion with public servants he would have seen very clearly that the austerity campaign has been activated by the Government. That is a statement of fact. The impression gained from all the public servants was that great cuts have been made wherever possible. While retaining efficiency so as not to have false economies, costs have been reduced in all possible areas and efforts have been made to limit expansion wherever possible so that there will be the most effective use of all the money that is appropriated to the various departments. -I refute the statement that Senator Turnbull has made tonight. I say that it is .not the statement of a responsible senator but rather one of a person who is trying to play politics.
– I rise. only because 2 propositions that- have been advanced tonight should not - go -, on record undisputed, if only from the .point of view of upholding some sense of responsibility in the Senate. The first one is the statement by Senator Turnbull: which seems to imply that his rigid and , obstinate outlook on matters means that because the Government imposes a restraint on. expenditure all expenditure has to stop, and if new circumstances arise, involving a vote, for moderate expenditure to maintain an even or stable balance in the economy, the Government should not sanction that vote and ask the Parliament to approve it. It seems to me that that is an impetuous and unthinking proposition and that only a brief comment is needed to dispose of it.
The other matter is the submission made by Senator Murphy. It is really the one that brought me to my feet. I refer to a proposition that seems to imply that, because the Parliament votes $10m for a specific item in a certain financial year - let us say for the building of an earthworks dam - it is not within the right of the Government to reduce that expenditure to $8m during that year. That is a proposition for which I challenge any honourable senator to provide an authority. The appropriation is an authority given by this Parliament that the Treasury should disburse out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund an amount not exceeding $10m. Someone asked: ‘Is it legal to reduce the expenditure?’ The idea that a vote of a certain amount for an item of work or service imposes upon the Executive an obligation to spend that amount of money is unique in constitutional experience that has come to my knowledge, and I challenge any honourable senator to provide a precedent for it. It is quite obviously a misconstruction of the whole situation. An appropriation Bill is simply the expression by Parliament of authority for the Treasury, under the evercontinuing guidance of the Executive, to spend out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund an amount: of money not exceeding the sum stated in the item concerned for the purposes of that item.
Senator Murphy says that if our Budget is $7,000m - Iam taking round figures for the sake of simplicity - and, as a deliberate act, on the then known circumstances and the then appropriations we curtail expenditure so as to make the target expenditure $100m less than that, and if we then find that there are other items in respect of which overexpenditure is necessary, we should set them off and go through the Budget and say: ‘You have saved $2m on this clam. Therefore you have to strike that out and put in the figure of $8m. And, until the new item has absorbed the $2m you have saved, you can receive no new appropriation’. What a confusion of accounts that would produce. Let us suppose that you did that in February. You would achieve an entirely different result from that which you would achieve if you did it in May. The requirement for clarity of accountsmeans that the Government is complained of because it is reducing the expenditure under appropriations made in the last Budget and, forsooth, we will be confronted with a proposition that we should be denied appropriations for new requirements that have emerged since that time.
I would have thought that that was so new tangled and so fantastic an idea that one had to consider it for only a few moments to see that a much better approach would be to consider the last Budget as an annual appropriation and to consider the current supplemental appropriation Bill as meeting requirements that have emerged since that time. Then, at the time of the next Budget, if the Government is to be castigated on political grounds, not on constitutional or legal grounds, let us hear any arguments on whether there has been a default in duty on the part of the Government in not spending the whole $10m on the earthworks dam and reducing expenditure on it to $8m. When the Government presents its accounts at the next Budget it shows any appropriations which were authorised the previous year but not expended. If the Government is to be taken to task, the Parliament has an unqualified remedy to submit the criticism and see whether in the judgment of the Parliament the Executive is approved or disapproved. The idea that there is anything illegal or unconstitutional in underspending an appropriation is fantastic.
– in reply - Mr Deputy President-
– What right of reply is this?
– The usual right of reply.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - I am advised that Senator Murphy as the mover of the motion has the right of reply.
– I thought that I had moved the motion.
– No. In the usual fashion the Government allows government matters to be dealt with in such a way that they come under the heading of General Business. It is not often that disadvantages flow from that practice, but this is one of those occasions. The position is that it is not a new fangled notion that I have put. The statement made by the Treasury officials for the assistance of the Committee stated:
Prior to 1952-53, when presenting the Supplementary Estimates Bill, it was customary to show a deduction representing under-expended defence appropriations as an offset against additional amounts sought for defence purposes. The Bill was prepared and submitted to Parliament some months after the close of the financial year, and the figures could be calculated with precision. The practice ceased after 1952-53 following criticism made in the Fourteenth Report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and queries from the Auditor-General.
– You have already incorporated this material.
– Yes, but I am answering Senator Wright’s citicisms. I will not read the rest of the statement. It indicates that, right or wrong, this is not a new fangled notion. I may have been incorrect when I attributed the introduction of the new practice to Mr Chifley. The answer to Senator Wright’s comments about difficulty in accounting is ‘ that at whatever period the accounts are brought in they should truly reflect the position. If they are brought in as at February or as at May, let them truly reflect the position at that time. If it can be done when the accounts are presented after the financial year is closed, well and good. They should reflect the correct position at whatever stage they are brought in. It is for the Government to select the point of time at which accounts are brought in and an appropriation sought. Let the Appropriation Billreflect the true position as at that stage.
Of course, it is true that there is no obligation upon the Government to spend $10m to build a dam if the project could be completed for $8m. No-one would suggest otherwise. Senator Turnbull’s criticism was to the point that the Government had indicated drastic alterations in expenditure so that amounts of money which had been sought would not be expended. There were drastic changes in the nature of the expenditure of the Government; not a mere curbing or saving of something in the ordinary course of events, but rather a deliberate alteration in the Government’s programme. It was said, I think fairly, that if substantial alteration is to be made from what the Government proposed to do when the Appropriation Bill was introduced, parliamentary approval should be sought. That is a simple enough proposition, and I think a correct one.
– In relation to what figures would you do that? It may be a matter of $100 or $300. Every time there is a variation from the vote, would you ask for parliamentary approval? Where do you begin and end? I find it difficult.
– If moneys had been sought for some important-
– Why does it have to be important? If the principle is there, it must be there whether it is important or unimportant.
-The old maxim of the law applies to financial matters as to other- points. The law does not take account of trifles. One does not bring in a Bill because of $100.
– Why not? This is a very important constitutional situation. You cannot violate the Constitution for $100 any more than for $100m.
– It is not a violation of the Constitution. I am saying that there are proper procedures to be followed. Where there is a substantial alteration from what was proposed to Parliament as the expenditure of the Government - an alteration in the programming, not merely where money is saved on a particular programme which had been approved, as the honourable senator suggested - where there is a rearrangement of projects and a substantial change in what was put to Parliament, it is proper that Parliament should be consulted.
– Why is the substantiality material? That is my difficulty.
– it isimportant in every walk of life. As I said, the Parliament does not take account of trifles. I noticed that one of our colleagues did. He seemed to be concerned about trifles, but Parliament is not.-
– But, senator, the Constitution says that there shall be no expenditure without an appropriation. That would apply to $100m as well as to $100.
– I hestitate to interject but we are muddying the waters because my statement had nothing to do with what we are now discussing.
– This discussion is pursuing the steps which were taken to effectuate the cuts in government expenditure. Mr Deputy President, the motion is merely one to take note of the statement and I suggest that the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 18 February (vide page 209), on motion by Senator Milliner:
That the Senate considers that the Government has shown a contemptuous disregard for Parliament in regard to its lifting the partial ban on the export of merino rams.
– This item is clearly related to item No. 7, the debate on which was postponed. I was not aware that this matter was to be called on for debate. As there is a great deal more to be said about the subject, 1 ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23 February (vide page 226), on motion, by- Senator Fitzgerald:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved’ in the affirmative.
JET Ant. AUSTRALIA LTD
Debate resumed from 25 February (vide page 349), on motion by Senator Keeffe:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved, in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 25. February (vide page 350), on motton by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate take .note of the statement.
– 1 think this ministerial statement on the Publication of Commonwealth Acts and Statutory Rules is quite unsatisfactory. It is a statement by the then Attorney-General saying that in substance Commonwealth Acts and Statutory Rules are’ not going to be reprinted in a consolidated and bound form. There was a reprint of these in 1937. There had been one before but I am not quite sure of the year. There was one in 1937, and another in 1950. In about 1962 or 1963, when I came into this Senate I several times asked the then AttorneyGeneral, who I think was Sir Garfield Barwick, about the matter and as I recall it, the intimation was that the preparation of the new bound reprint was in hand. It was being prepared and it would not be very long before it was available. That seemed, to be the position for a number of years. In the meantime a joint select committee of this Parliament was appointed to inquire into and report upon the dreadful mess into which the parliamentary papers and Government publications had fallen.
One of the unanimous recommendations of the Committee was that there should be regular reprints of those enactments, this being for the convenience of the public and all the people who were used to dealing with these laws. There are very great difficulties in obtaining separate pamphlets and so on. The availability of the laws of this Commonwealth was most unsatisfactory. Now out of the blue-certainly so far as I am concerned - at a stage when I was expecting that we would have the new bound volumes available containing enactments up to 1965 or 1968 a statement is made by the Minister that the Government is going to abandon the whole affair. Apparently there is not going to be a reprint. That was the position when the former Attorney-General was in office.
We have a new Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen). I hope that a new view will be taken of this matter. Apparently one of the problems is that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel which would’ be concerned with preparing this kind of project is hopelessly understaffed. The other night information was given during the meeting of Senate Estimates Committee B which was discussing the Estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department that half or even a little more than half of the positions for draftsmen in the office of the Parliamentary Counsel are unfilled. Apparently there is some hold-up in the Public Service Board about approving the range of salaries.
– Does the honourable senator mean that it is not that applications are not being received?
– No, apparently not. There is some hold-up over the amount that these people are to be paid. We know what happens in this Parliament. Our work is being impeded through these vacancies in the Attorney-General’s Department. This is causing inefficiency in that Department because work cannot be performed and it is causing inefficiency in this Parliament. Now the matter proceeds further because the public is not to receive the result of what is being done in Parliament.
The Acts are not to be provided. One of the essences of the law is that it is to be publicised. People should be able to have ready access to the law in a form which they can utilise. Over the years it has been found necessary to have these consolidated bound volumes annotated with the legal decisions so that we will not only have the text of the Act but also we will have a short note of what the courts have said about it. I think it is shocking that that practice is to be abandoned. People will have to fossick through all the laws. That is almost returning access to the law to a kind of priestly caste, so that only persons who are absolute specialists in some branch and who are able to maintain their own notations will be able to have handy access to the law. This is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.
I hope that the new Attorney-General and the Government will do something to correct this problem in relation to Parliamentary Counsel which has plagued us for at least the 9 years I have been here. Is it not possible for something to be done about this situation? We have raised this problem again and again in this Parliament. There seems to be some dreadful inefficiency on the part of the Public Service Board which is clearly reflected in this issue. Perhaps this is one of the strongest arguments for proceeding with General Business,” notice of motion No. 4 which relates to the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the structure, recruitment and management of the Commonwealth Public Service in order to find out. how things like this can occur. If this sort of thing is happening right in our area where we are aware of the problem and the inefficiency it is causing, what the devil is happening in other areas? Here is a reflection of the situation which is going to cause grave problems. I ask the Government to see whether something can be done to cause a reconsideration of this ministerial statement the result of which 3 think is entirely unsatisfactory from the point of view of meeting the needs of the public of this country.
– The ministerial statement on the Publication of Commonwealth Act and Statutory Rules which we are discussing arose out of quite a long discussion we had during the proceedings of Estimates Com mittee B. Senator Greenwood and I, as well as almost every other member of the Committee, were concerned about the very problems Senator Murphy has been discussing. Some unsatisfactory results seem to have arisen. One result was that there seemed to be some reticence on the part of the Public Service to suggest that the position of the consolidated bound volumes was adequate. We pointed out that only a few days before when we received copies of a Bill from the Bills and Papers Office, we were actually handling 10 pieces of paper. We had a copy of the original Act and 9 separate amending Acts. In a fairly fast moving debate in the Committee stages it is very difficult if one has to shuffle 10 pieces of paper because if one wishes to quote a section of the original Act one can be 9 amendments out or any less number than nine.
Senator Wright did ‘ not” seem to think that that was important although I pointed out to him that in days gone by he was a great critic of this situation. I. suggest to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson)’ that Senator Greenwood took a great interest iri this subject matter. Indeed, when I moved to take note of the paper I consulted Senator Greenwood. “He ‘asked me to take that course. If I had not done so he certainly would have. Whether we should put this motion tonight without” consulting Senator Greenwood is something I put back to the Government. I ani inclined to think that we should seek his views. A point which was raised during the Committee hearing was that the advisers seemed to think that the situation of the reprint of the enact: ment was adequate. Another point was that there seemed to. be some honest differences. Once we had overcome the point that the present . consolidation was not adequate there seemed to be a disagreement as to the most competent way to carry out the reprint.- One was to put it in bound copies, as was the practice with the 1950 Consolidated Acts or, secondly, that it could be done in a. sort of a running form, putting them into bound volumes but doing a sort of rotating analysis, compilation and consolidation of these Acts. The present system . is completely unsatisfactory; there is no doubt about that. I think this feeling .would be held by anyone who has come up against this problem. There do seem to be some genuine problems, and I would be inclined to put this matter to one side until we have heard Senator Greenwood’s views on it.
– I think that is the right thing to do.
– If the Minister accepts that proposal, I think that course should be followed. I make the further point - I hope the Minister takes it on board - that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and it may be that the Minister will have to have a radical look at the situation to ascertain the best way to bring these matters up to date. Senator Murphy has made a suggestion about Constitution printings, having in mind that the Minister receives notices and decisions, particularly High Court decisions, which are of tremendous value. After all, the Parliament makes the laws and the courts interpret them, and their interpretations become part of the law. So although it might be. very difficult to. arrange these things, they would be very valuable. The first point that I make, to which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson agreed, is that- we should not put the question on this matter at this time. The second point is that I hope that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, in his capacity as Leader of the Government, does realise that there is dissatisfaction and that there are some difficulties involved. I do. not think the difficulties should stop the Department from adopting a radical approach to determine a satisfactory proposition in relation to these things.
– I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate at any length. I merely wish to say that one of the most important steps forward in the interests of the effective operation of the Parliament in recent years was the creation of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. One of the considerations that stimulated this chamber to support: that legislation, and to support it enthusiastically, was that it would result in the encouragement of greater numbers of draftsmen or draftsmen-in-training to join the newly created Office and that the effect of it would be to overcome difficulties such as this in the consolidation of statutes and their availability ‘to the Parliament, to the legal profession and to the public at large. Also its effect would be to accelerate and facilitate the preparation of legislation for this chamber. If in spite of our endeavours, our support and our enthusiasm, the creation of this office has not resulted at least in making possible a consolidation of the statutes in the old form, or doing very much about it in the proposed new form, then I think the Senate would be gravely disappointed that its high hopes have not been realised.
I know that there is a tendency when this matter is raised in the Senate to feel that it is a lawyer’s preserve and that it is the convenience of the lawyers that affect the views which are presented by the members of the legal profession in this chamber. That is not so. The availability and accessibility to the law are very important considerations. They are of tremendous concern, not only to those whose discipline is the law but also to many others in the community. It should be of concern to the community at large that the laws of the country should be available in an accessible and up to date form. Therefore, we would hope that some activity might be shown towards overcoming the difficulties that are impeding the realisation of the fond high hopes of the Senate which were expressed at the time of the creation of this new Office. I do not think that any blame or any responsibility whatever can be attached to the officers of that Office.” They have a tremendous job to do. With their limited resources they continue what they have done for so long and, although with great difficulty, they do it with amazing success and competence. But it is not good enough, and I believe that the Senate should take this opportunity to express its concern that apparently the support given by this chamber to the legislation to which I have referred has not achieved the result which was contemplated and expected, that the Senate now expects that the matter will receive the urgent and necessary attention of the Government, that in the future we can expect, the matter to receive the attention which it warrants, and that when the Budget Estimates are discussed we will have another opportunity to complain, as we did last year and as we are doing again tonight.
(9.55) - 1 accept some of the significant comments made by Senator Willesee on the proposal that the Senate take note of the paper. Apparently Senator Greenwood has been involved in this matter and he may well wish to continue his interest in it. I am -sure that he will, but. it is a question of how he displays and applies that interest. Senator Willesee asked me to initiate some further inquiries to see what regard had been given to the debate in this chamber on the motion to take note of the paper after Senator Wright presented it in February. I will certainly undertake to do that.
Senator Byrne in his comments made reference to the creation of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. I. think it is fair to say that that Office .was created less than .12 months, ago, in. about mid-May 1970. This matter was raised originally in the Estimates Committee in about September. I do not think the Parliamentary Counsel could have hoped by that time to have made any significant impact on the issues involved. Indeed, I would think that even at this time the Parliamentary Counsel is still trying to fill “the positions that the Act provided for him. We all know that the basic problem is the inability to obtain the necessary skilled people. That is why the Parliamentary Counsel Bill stepped outside the bounds of the Public Service. For that very reason I think it is still early days to expect the results from the Parliamentary Counsel that Senator Byrne reflects upon. However, I will accept the- responsibility to take up the matter he has raised and circulate a memorandum in order to ascertain whether anything further can be done in relation to this matter. I move:
That General Business Order of the Day No. 18 be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30 March 1970 (vide page 61.8), on motion by Senator O’Byrne:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 31 March (vide page 682), on motion by Senator Milliner:
That (he- Senate take, note of the statement.
– I would like to know what has been .done following what one might call the flash flood that unfortunately resulted in the death of 7 people. Of course, it is one of those things that happens. Investigations have been conducted as to its cause, and in his findings the coroner gave the number of cubic feet of water that passed over this particular section of roadway. He also said something significant which was important to me, and that was that the engineers were going to see whether something could be done to prevent such an unfortunate happening occurring again.
One of the conclusions in the report of the National Capital Development Commission on the flood in the Woden Valley of Canberra on 26th January 1971 stated that the storm on 26th January was exceptional and extreme. I think all honourable senators will agree with that statement. The conclusion also stated:
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.
That statement shows that a great volume of the water got away in a very short time. I was fortunate to be able to inspect the area of the flood on the morning after the flood. I can understand how it happened. I noticed debris coming down one of the creeks. I can readily understand that the flow of water would have been impeded by this debris. Although I believe that Canberra is a beautiful city, I am always concerned about the number of trees it has. The falling of leaves, particularly at this time of the year, plays havoc with the drains. I believe that the Department of the Interior, whose job it is to look after the city, is fortunate in that it does -not have more floodings than the unfortunate one we are discussing. I have some knowledge of deciduous trees. I know how they cause extreme flooding on certain level country.
I believe that every effort should be put into making the whole of Canberra safe from floods. The loss of 7 lives is to my a shocking thing. 1 .was informed that some of the unfortunate people killed were in a car that stalled on the bridge and that the lady driver of the car went for assistance to a garage not far away only to find when she returned that her children and the car had been swept away. Something has to be done to prevent a similar -occurrence. According to a report I read it could happen again. I admit that this area does not flood very frequently. I understand that reference was made in the evidence to a recurrence of floods after 3 years, 10 years and 100 years. I do not know who would be able to- give any evidence as to what happened 100 years ago. I should imagine that this would have been pretty wild country 100 years ago. When the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who represents in this chamber the Minister for the Interior, is replying to my “remarks he may be able to tell me what is actually being done at the moment to prevent a recurrence of this unfortunate incident. It is no good in things of this nature to have wishful thinking and to say that it will not happen again because it may happen again, especially with a creek of this nature.
As 1 said earlier, I inspected the area a day or so after this unfortunate happening and I thought . that a fair” amount of engineering work will have to be done there on the construction of a very large drain which will enable the debris that I saw blocked up to be washed away. If my memory serves me correctly, a straight channel will have to be cut so that the water will get away. I do not think that the normal volume of water that runs down the creek is that great, but I think that a drain of pretty large dimensions will have to be constructed there. This city is fortunate in that it does not lack money for public works. I think we should be proud of our national capital, but I do not think it would spoil the layout of Canberra if a large barrel drain or a wide open concrete drain were to be constructed in this area. I do not think that it would cause the civil engineers of the Department of the Interior” or the National Capital Development Commission much trouble to eliminate some of the bends in this area and make a straight flow. I am not blaming anyone for this natural disaster. I do not think that the blame should be- pinned on anyone at all if a tragedy occurs when nature acts in this way. The best that can be done is to look after the people who were unfortunate enough to suffer great losses in this incident and to make certain that the tragedy does not occur - again. Another of the conclusions in the report states:
Apart from the overtopping of the main Yarralumla Creek and sections of the Long Gully Creek formed channels there were several overland flows in the Woden Valley which caused considerable damage to private and public property.
While I do not like seeing damage done to private or public property, I am more concerned about people losing their lives, particularly children. Damaged property can always be repaired. Unfortunately nothing can be done about a lost life; it cannot be restored. The report also states that the response of the police and other emergency services was satisfactory. That is, of course, always the case when a tragedy occurs. The report also states:
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 have actually 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.
I am not putting myself forward as an engineer, but when I had a look at that creek and saw the bends in it I was amazed to think that, in a city like Canberra which has the money to spend, this was not done before. As I have pointed out, the creek has a lot of bends in it. If a straight concrete channel of considerable width is constructed it will . stop the debris from being blocked under the bridge by the stanchions of the bridge. If the debris bad not blocked up under the bridge this unfortunate incident may not have happened. The report continues:
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 flooding as occurred on 26 January.
I believe that. I do not think that the warning system or the emergency procedures applicable in this instance would have done much good with the number of inches of rain which fell in such a short time. The report continues:
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. . .
That means, as I believe it should mean, that in this city . there should be certain catchment areas’ before the water enters underground pipes. I have had a little practical experience of such matters. I have no technical knowledge. Underground pipes have to be examined, particularly when the leaves’ on deciduous trees fall, as they are falling now in this city. It surprises me that these . drop drains are not looked at at least once or. twice a week. They have to be cleaned out so that the water may get away.
– Would it be an expensive engineering project to rectify this?
– I am- speaking only of the practical’ experience that I have had in an area, in a city where we have very low lying ground- very flat ground. Electric pumps have had to be - installed along certain sections of the main thoroughfare - Audley Street - in order that, when the water gets to a certain height in the sump, as I would call it for the sake of a better word, the electric pumps start to work and pump the water into a lake. I have noticed, as I am sure all honourable senators have noticed when walking to the Senate here in Canberra that the trees are becoming bare of leaves. The leaves are on the ground. In a decent storm they have to go somewhere. It is true that in this city some are swept up. I was very interested in the large vacuum cleaning machines that are used. I immediately bought 2 for the area in which I am interested. These machines suck up the leaves so that they will not cause damage. I understand, from inquiries that 1 have made, that here the leaves are used for fertilising the gardens. The leaves are very excellent fertiliser. 1 suppose some go into the very lovely rose gardens that we see.
I believe that every effort to ensure that this tragedy does not happen again should be made. I feel sure that those efforts will be made. Therefore, I do not want to take up any more time of the Senate. would be very grateful if the Minister would inform the Senate exactly what has been done to date. I repeat that I have no engineering experience. I have had a lot of practical experience. It worries me considerable to think that a tragedy like this - with loss of lives - could happen in this city. I leave it at that. I hope to hear from the Minister as to what has actually been done to date. -
– When Senator Milliner spoke previously and again when Senator Kennelly spoke tonight I listened very carefully. I read very carefully the statement which I made on behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I was very much drawn to the human tragedy involved in this incident. I believe that the human tragedy could not have been avoided. It was one of those tragedies which do occur. While I felt that we should be expressing our sympathy to the relatives of those who lost their lives, I felt equally that we should draw attention to the personal bravery of some of the people involved. That had not been much touched on. I thought we- could equally do that. The final paragraph of the Minister’s . statement reads:
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.
Just as that report commended them, I am sure that we should feel the same way. I have not read in detail the findings of the Coroner or the report, but I am most impressed by the fact that the Minister whom I represent has seen fit to make available to the Parliament the Coroner’s statement in its entirety and that the National Capital Development Commission has seen fit to produce a highly documented and detailed report. Nothing has been hidden. It has been well analysed. Maps and diagrams have been supplied. Irrespective of what anybody might feel and the natural sadness that we all feel, there is every evidence here of a genuine attempt to do everything to make the situation as good as possible in the future. Senator Kennelly very properly asked what is being done. All I can tell him is that at the moment work is going on in that area to do some of the things that are recommended. I draw his attention and the attention of the Senate to the Minister’s statement, which I think is quite clear. Paragraphs 8 and 15 of the Coroner’s report contain some significant comments but it seems to me, without wishing to repeat those paragraphs because I would be wasting the Senate’s time, that they are dealt with in the Minister’s statement, which reads:
Analysis 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 …
asked how that was known and whether there are records dating back 100 years. I cannot say. There has been a fairly long period of settlement in the Canberra area and I would imagine that there are some records. The Minister’s statement continued:
When compared. with subsequent relatively large floods in the Woden Valley on the 5th February 1971 and the 10th February 1971, the flood of the26th January 1971 was more hazardous not only in its far greater peak flow rate but also in the rapidityof the rise rate of the flood which caused areas to change from safe’ to. unsafe within a relatively few minutes.
I suppose that most of us in country areas of Australia have from time to time seen the effects of a quick flash flood on an area such as this, even in drier parts. They can be extremely dangerous. I completely agree that it is not possible to create an engineering situation which totally handles these ‘ very occasional hazardous and high peak floods that come and go quickly. Nonetheless, when one looks at this report it is evident that the Department seriously intends to do everything possible. It was said that every effort would be made and I am sure that that will be the case.
I am unable to add anything more to those remarks because this matter is not within my field of particular responsibility - it is one that is only delegated to me. I will draw to the attention of the appropriate Minister the Hansard report, particularly the comments made by Senator Kennelly. In passing I might add that the honourable senator made an interesting observation about keeping drains and culverts clean. The first thing said to me when I first took office as a young shire president by an old shire presi dent was: ‘Go round the roads, Bob, and check on whether the culvert and drains are clear and kept clean’.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) whether at a later stage he will be able to give us a report on what is finally proposed to be done in this area to prevent another happening of this nature?
Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - by leave - Yes. I think all of us regard this matter seriously. All of us are concerned about it. We come to Canberra to do a certain job and then we will go away at a certain time. We like to feel that we have achieved something constructive while we have been here which will be of benefit in the future. This is such a case. The Minister believes this and so do the officers of the departments concerned. I will direct your inquiry to them and tell them that we would appreciate receiving, in due course, some progress reports on. how their work is progressing to improvethe situation.
(10.22) - The situation is that Senator Milliner was in the course of making his remarks on this matter. He is not present and therefore I move:
That the debate be made an Order, of the Day for the next day of sitting.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Statement by Chairman
Debate resumed from1 April (vide page 728), on motion by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– There is no point in keeping this matter on the notice paper. This statement was made in the early days of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. I would like to comment favourably by saying that its Chairman, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, has kept the Senate very well informed of that Committee’s activities. When the statement was made I thought that we should take note of it. At this stage there is no objection to putting the question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I would like to say a few words about this Bill. 1 understand that the Government today introduced in the House of Representatives a Bill to cover resale price maintenance. I have not yet had the chance of examining the Bill. Obviously it would be reasonable to see what the Government proposes. The Opposition wants the matter of resale price maintenance covered. My Bill would effectively prohibit it except in certain circumstances. I agree with the proposal to stand this matter over to the next day of sitting.Iask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 April (vide page 958), on motion by Senator Marriott:
That the Senate take note of the report. ..
– I think the Senate would like further time to consider this matter. Therefore I again move:
That the debate be postponed to the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27 April (vide page 1039), on the following paper presented by Senator Wright:
Papua New Guinea - Constitutional Development - Statement by the Minister for External
Territories on Constitutional Development in the Territory of Papua New Guinea, dated 27th April 1971 -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 24 be postponed to the’ next day of sitting.
– by leave - I want to say something directed to “Senator Kennelly. Yesterday the Senate debated certain motions relating to sitting times. Senator Kennelly and I had words with one another. I think we were both speaking completely out of character. To err. is human but to forgive is divine. Perhaps I was over-reacting. I regret that the incident occurred and I know that he regrets that it occurred. I would like to think that we can let it pass by and not interfere with our otherwise happy relations.
– by leave - I am most grateful that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has made that statement. He has been very kind to me over a long period of years. I would be very hurt if I left this place with any ill feelings to anyone, particularly to him.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave - Working very well as a team, we have now looked at every Order of the Day on the business paper. Yesterday when I suggested the times of sitting I said that we would sit tonight until 11 p.m. We have now finished our work programme for today. I did not envisage that we would deal with these items as quickly as we have done. Unless the Senate wishes to continue, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710429_senate_27_s47/>.