27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
- Mr President, I rise because I feel it is my bounden duty. I raise a matter of privilege which is based on articles appearing in the Sunday Australian’ and the ‘Sunday Review’ of 2nd May 1971. I produce a copy of each paper. The ‘Sunday Australian’ is printed and published in New South Wales by Mirror Newspapers Ltd for the proprietors, Nationwide New Pty Ltd of Canberra. The Sunday Review’ is printed by D. L. Manuel, of 91 Church Road, Doncaster, for Barndan a Pty Ltd, for the publishers-distributors Ipec Ltd, of 822 Lorimer Street, Fishermen’s Bend, Victoria. I submit that the publication of these articles, which deal with the report and recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia, constitutes a prima facie case of breach of privilege.
The articles deal at some length with what they state are some of the Committee’s findings and recommendations. In the case of the ‘Sunday Review’, it is stated on the front page:
The Senate select committee on drugs will publish its report this week. This is the first Australian parliamentary investigation of such matters as the legalisation of marijuana, television advertising for cigarettes, and supermarket sale of salicylates. For an exclusive sneak preview see page 845.
As the Senate knows, the Committee’s report has not yet been presented to the Senate and it is my understanding that the premature publication of a committee’s report is a breach of privilege. I move therefore:
That the article on page 1 of the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 2nd Ma; 1971, and the article on page 845 of the “Sunday Review’ of 2nd May 1971, dealing with the proposed report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Austrafia, be referred to the Committee of Privileges for investigation and report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens , of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in education.
That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and inadequate teaching aids.
That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.
That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.
That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to include all the country’s physically and mentally handicapped children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to: …
Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. I refer to the new voluntary code banning cigarette advertising between certain hours and containing certain other provisions. Does the Minister expect the new code to reduce the consumption of cigarettes amongst teenagers?
– lt is difficult to express one’s expectation of. what will flow from this voluntary code. The purpose of the code is to ensure that as far as possible advertising of cigarettes on television and radio is directed not to the non-smoker but rather to the adult smoker and that the whole emphasis be directed away from young people. In 1966 a voluntary code was agreed upon which experience suggested could be tightened in a number of respects. It is believed that the present voluntary code which has been agreed to by the radio and commercial television stations and the tobacco manufacturers is one which will in these respects direct the emphasis on cigarette advertising away from young people and that it will be directed only to smokers and then only for the purpose of promoting a change in brands.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a copy of the speech made yesterday in another place by his Liberal Party colleague the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron)? I ask the Minister whether he agrees with Mr Cameron’s statement:
I have every reason to believe that, more than a year ago, the Department of Civil Aviation projected that Qantas was headed for trouble.
Will the Minister comply with Mr Donald Cameron’s request to supply to Parliament a clear and detailed statement on Qantas’ financial position?
– No, I do not agree with the comments that were made in the other place about this matter. I do not think they are accurate. Last year what was quite clear was that overseas international airlines were having financial troubles. I am sure every honourable senator has read the various comments in newspapers relating to this matter. I do not have all the articles with me at the moment but there are various reports about declining profits for British Overseas Airways Corporation and other airlines, a substantial loss by most of the airline operators in the United States and a comment that Qantas Airways Ltd had done very well indeed to keep making a profit under those circumstances. Therefore one was anxious that overseas trends would not be reflected in Australia and that if they were they would be countered quickly. When these trends began to be reflected - it was not until early this year Qantas took remedial steps which I think were quite proper and sensible. In due course when all the facts have emerged and when the present situation is clarified I should like to make more public details of the factors which have affected Qantas’ revenue and its costs.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question. No doubt he has read the statement by the Minister for Health in Victoria, Mr
Rossiter, in which he advises of a large increase in hospital charges in public wards, intermediate wards and private rooms. Can the Minister give the Senate an idea of what increased contributions to hospital benefits funds the people of Australia will have to pay? I ask that question because, unless the benefits are brought into line with the increased hospital charges, it will mean as I remarked last week that it will be almost cheaper to die than to enter hospital.
– I am aware of the statement made yesterday by the Victorian Minister for Health, and I am also aware that in some States other than Victoria hospital charges were increased earlier this year. The provision of hospitals and the fixing of charges for hospital treatment are essentially matters for State governments. The Commonwealth’s role is to provide assistance by way of benefits to those persons who must undergo hospital treatment. It appears clear in the light of increases in hospital charges in the States that if the Commonwealth’s contribution to the hospital benefits scheme is to be as effective as the Commonwealth’ Government desires it to be, the whole matter of what the Commonwealth should contribute must be reviewed. A review is being undertaken at present. The new hospital charges in Victoria are not to operate, I think, until 1st August. Accordingly, I hope that a statement on the matter can be made in due course.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer draw to the attention of his colleagues the need for a close and detailed examination of representations made in the past several years for the provision of a greatly increased zone allowance for the west coast region of Tasmania? Will he urge upon the Treasurer the desirability of directing officers of the’ Taxation Branch to visit the area and to carry out such examinations as are necessary to substantiate claims which have been spelt out in considerable detail in earlier applications supporting representations for an increase in the zone allowance for the west coastal region of Tasmania?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes, I will refer the matter to the Treasurer. There is not much I can add about a reconsideration of zone allowances which are applicable in certain areas of the Commonwealth. I am sure that the Treasurer every year looks at these matters in the Budget context very critically, but at the direct request of Senator Devitt I will ask that he have a special look at the zone allowance relating to the west coast of Tasmania.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether a decision has yet been reached regarding extensions to the runways at Canberra Airport or the development of an alternative site?
– A decision was reached some time ago about extensions to the runways at Canberra Airport and a possible expansion of the terminal. Details were announced at the time of the decision. I think they were published in the Press, but 1 do not have the relevant Press statement with me. I think the cost of the proposal was estimated at about S6m. The proposal related te - an extension of the runway system and the taxiway system into the south-east, which would mean diversion pf the road at present serving the airport further to the south-east. I will give to the honourable senator an exact copy of the full announcement which was made, I think, towards the middle of December last..
– 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport who is no doubt aware of the dependence of Tasmania on shipping and the great service that has been provided down the years by the Australian National Line. I ask: ls the Minister aware that Mr Nixon, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, is reported by the news media to have said that the Australian National Line should be sold to private interests? Will the Minister make to the Senate a statement confirming or denying the report that the Government has any intention to sell the Australian National Line?
– lt is not easy for a Minister who has to meet not only his own responsibilities to this chamber but also the responsibilities of about six other people to follow all the ramifications and the con volutions of what the news media might or might not say. All I was able to find in the Press this morning was a reference to the fact that the Minister for Shipping and Transport is purported to have said that the Australian National Line is suffering quite substantial financial problems because of the present strike. I did not see any reference to the matter that the honourable senator has raised. I think the honourable senator will understand, as I am sure all honourable senators will understand, that this sort of question properly should be referred to the responsible Minister, which is what will happen.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, impinges slightly on his representation in this chamber of the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. I ask: Has the Minister seen reports of a claim made by a spokesman for the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders that doctors in some South Australian centres have refused to treat Aboriginals unless they can pay the $2.80 fee on the spot? If the Minister has received a report on this claim will he make the necessary inquiries to ensure that there are no unfair practices in this sphere?
– I have not seen the report which has been referred toby the honourable senator nor have any representations been made to me in regard to this matter. Two aspects are involved here. One is the general provision of medical services within a State, which, of course, is the responsibility - as I would remind the honourable senator - of the government of that State. Insofar as there may be discrimination against Aboriginals, which I think is implicit in the honourable senator’s question, this naturally would be a matter of concern to the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. T will direct his attention to the honourable senator’s question.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Supply, relates to the alarming announcement that an additional 140 skilled workers are to be retrenched from the Commonwealth Air-, craft Corporation and that, on the basis of the existing orders which have been placed with that organisation, further sackings are likely during the year. I ask: Aire these reports accurate? Will the Minister take urgent action within his own responsibility to see to what extent additional orders can be given to that organisation? Would it be possible for the Minister to consult with the Ministers of other Commonwealth departments, including the Department of Defence, to determine to what extent additional orders can be placed by them with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and, if they are in the same position, the Government Aircraft Factories, even to the extent of cancelling some orders which have been placed overseas?
Senator Bishop has asked a very proper question. I was informed on Friday afternoon after the Senate rose that an urgent submission was coming to me in relation to a verbal report that had been received to the effect that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation was going to stand down some employeess. I think the number of employees to be stood down was, as Senator Bishop has pointed out, about 150. I received yesterday a departmental submission in relation to this matter. It is regrettably true that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is going to take this action because it is in a difficult position. I understand that the indirect rather than the direct operatives are to be stood down. This action is being taken on the basis of an attempt to balance the work force with the work load. As honourable senators are aware, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is a private company. Even though the Government is its best customer the Corporation is, nevertheless, a private enterprise. I have already initiated interdepartmental discussions in relation to this matter. I also had a discussion this morning with the Minister for Defence about it. We regard it as a very serious matter. As Senator Bishop has properly pointed out, it is a serious matter which, to a degree, will extend in the ultimate to our own Government Aircraft Factories. It is also a problem which is currently being experienced by Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd in Sydney. The General
Manager of that company is coming to see me one day this week about this problem.
As to the honourable senator’s question about the redirection of work to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the Government Aircraft Factories, I would point out that quite recently I made a Press announcement, which was discussed in this chamber, in which I was .able to indicate that a contractual arrangement had been entered into with the Bell organisation for the building of something like 190 helicopters in Australia. There is a Service requirement for some 75 of these helicopters. The Bell organisation will, of course, be responsible for the sale commercially of the balance of that number,. of helicopters. Practically all the work,, with the exception of the engines, will be done by the Com.monwealth Aircraft Corporation. Currently we are considering whether the engine work can be carried out. by CAC.
It is very difficult to be able to say that we can redirect work ,to a company. We have, to bear in mind that we are getting offset orders. So far, we have got about $4.5m worth of such orders, a significant amount of which has gone to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. We are in the market for a further’ $4m worth of orders, which I do not want to discuss at the moment. I am very conscious of the situation. It is a very serious and critical matter. It is true that it may have over? topes which will extend into the Government Aircraft Factories. Currently I am looking also at that situation. Everything that the Government and j ean do will, be done. As honourable senators know, at present we are building a prototype aircraft - Project N. Aspects in relation to the future of that project also . are currently under examination.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to articles appearing in the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ and in interstate newspapers which state that the Australian Medical Association has drawn up a secret plan which, if implemented, would cost the Government’ millions of dollars a year and that one newspaper has obtained a copy of the confidential report? Has the Minister been supplied with a copy of this report and has he made a study of it? ls it proposed to phase out the present pensioner medical service and to place pensioners into established medical and hospital benefit funds at greater cost to the pensioners? Will the Minister ensure that any proposed scheme will not be to the detriment of pensioners and that any proposal will be suitable to them?
– I have not seen the article in the Adelaide newspaper to which the honourable senator referred, although I have seen in other newspapers articles which, I think, raise the same question. The plan which has been publicised has not been presented to me. As I understand the position, it is a matter which the Australian Medical Association is discussing within its own councils. The Government has no proposal to change the pensioner medical service in favour of some scheme such as outlined in the proposals which have been publicised. The Government believes that the pensioner medical service provides a very real and beneficial service to all pensioners. At all times the Government is concerned to ensure that the service achieves the objectives which the Government has set for it and the Government will be concerned to ensure that in future it does precisely that.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware of protests by parents and citizens’ organisations and of the private petitions presented to this Parliament from thousand of residents of New South Wales on the conditions existing in government schools? Is he aware of the financial difficulties that are encountered by private schools in that State and in other States in all grades of education - technical, secondary and primary? Can the Minister advise what plans the Government has in view to overcome the problems facing private as well as government schools?
– The problems highlighted by the survey to which the honourable senator has referred are very comprehensive and formidable. The financial problems confronting the independent schools are of considerable magnitude. It would be quite inappropriate of me to make any comment or to purport to make any comment at question time on proposals that are being considered by the Government.
– Will you make a statement?
– I will refer the honourable senator’s request for a statement to the Minister for Education and Science.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Were flight recorders from 2 aircraft involved in a collision on runway 16 at Mascot aerodrome on 19th January last impounded by the Department of Civil Aviation? Is it a fact that all conversations between pilots of aircraft and DCA controllers are recorded on a 24-hour basis on a tape located in the DCA control room? If so, has the tape in use in this particular incident yet been checked and, if so, when will the results of the investigation be made public? Can the Minister say whether any precautions have been taken to avert a repetition of such an accident, and does the Minister intend making a statement to Parliament on this matter prior to this session of Parliament concluding?
– I have written down as quickly as I could the points raised by the honourable senator. The minute that any incident or accident occurs we certainly do impound the tapes in the aircraft and in the control tower because there is a constant monitoring of conversations air to air, ground to air and air to ground. It would be expected that we would record the conversation between the pilot and the ground in these circumstances. The tapes are being utilised by the Air Safety Investigation Branch to determine the cause of this accident, and to do it extremely thoroughly because an overseas country is involved with its aircraft. One therefore has to take the greatest possible care to be fully accurate in this connection. I do not yet know when the report will be available. When it is completed it will be made available as reports have been made available in previous circumstances. From what I know now I should think that it is unlikely that we will have it ready before the end of the present session of Parliament.
The honourable senator may be quite sure that the factors concerning any accident at any airport in Australia are always noted to make quite sure that all methods and all procedures are brought up to the highest pitch of efficiency. In this circumstance anything that comes out of this particular inquiry will be utilised to make flying safer than it is now, if that is possible.
– Will the Minister for Health consider the practice of doctors giving to children the empty containers of drugs used in immunisation injections and showing such children how to inject drugs? Will the psychologists of the Department of Health consider whether such gifts and knowledge, which permit young children to give imaginery injections to their playmates, could have encouraging effects on the use of damaging drug injections when such children reach adolescence?
– The honourable senator’s question raises some interesting points and I shall give consideration to them. However, I say once again that any controls or rules which might be imposed in this area are essentially a matter for the State governments. Nevertheless the honourable senator having raised the matter, I shall give consideration to it and consult my colleagues in the States.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Because of the increase in speed and the greater number of passengers on both major airlines the time available for hostesses to give the traditional meal and other refreshment has been reduced so that often they are still working during a turbulent descent and virtually until landing. As hostesses are obliged under Department of Civil Aviation regulations to be seated during turbulence and particularly for landing, will the Minister have a review made of the whole matter of traditional services on flights of less than one hour’s duration and the safety of hostesses on these trips?
– It will be remembered that Senator Wriedt spoke to the Senate and asked me a question on this subject expressing his concern. Since he did that I immediately wrote through the
Department to the airlines concerned and asked what the precise procedure and practice was. His concern was in the same area as that expressed by Senator O’Byrne. Because of short flight times with the increasing speed of aircraft, the need to serve meals and the necessity for hostesses to be seated during takeoffs and landings, one would want to make certain that the regulations are still being observed. I have taken that inquiry seriously and I have directed a straight letter to . both airlines to see what is happening in relation to this matter. As soon as I . have information I shall let both. Senator Wriedt’ and Senator O’Byrne have this information.
Senator TURNBULLMy question is directed to the Minister for’ Health. Did the Government have -any’ part in the drawing up of the voluntary code for advertising cigarettes, on television? What age group does the Minister . think would be viewing television between the hours of 4.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.? If the Govern; ment feels that this i$ a vulnerable group, will it do anything positive by advertising against cigarette smoking in the same period?
-As I said, the voluntary code is an agreement which has been made by the major cigarette manufacturers, the Federation of Commercial Television Stations and the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters. In the discussions which took place my Department was represented. As I said earlier, the emphasis of this voluntary code is directed towards taking away the impact of cigarette advertising from’ young people. I think the agreement which has been made is a signal advance because not only is there a specific agreement that these advertisements will not be shown in proximity to programmes which would appeal to children but specifically they will not be shown between 4.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. on weekdays and before 7.30 p.m. on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday. I would imagine that the area which is covered by that restriction is a substantial area. One would hope that there will be an effect which is beneficial. I appreciate from what the honourable senator said that one might like to cut out this advertising for a longer period, but I emphasise that this is a voluntary agreement and we feel that it is certainly better than having no agreement at all.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I preface my question by saying that as a matter of practice every telephone subscriber for a business or professional telephone is allowed one free entry in the pink pages under the subscriber’s business or professional classication. Is it a fact that companies which carry on more than one form of activity with more than one telephone line and so fit into more than one classification are allowed only one free entry in the pink pages even though they have to pay full separate telephone rentals for each line? If this is so, will the Minister inquire into and comet this anomally?
– I am unable to answer the honourable senator’s question, 1 shall convey lt to the Postmaster-General and endeavour to obtain an answer for him as soon as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls the Minister aware of the considerable difficulty experienced by sections of primary industry in raising finance for stock purchases essential to enable their properties to reach full economic potential? Does he realise that financing in this area is largely in the hands of stock and station agents and similar quasibanking institutions whose higher rates of interest and other requirements and prohibitions place additional strains on the primary producer and, in very many instances, seriously hamper his chances of reaching economic viability on the property? Why cannot the financing of these essentia] activities be more readily catered for through the normal function of the legitimate banking institutions, which currently is not the case and as a result of which instances of consequent decrease in net incomes and other problems are commonplace?
– What the honourable senator says in the early pant of his question represents a situation that exists in many parts of Australia, and particularly in the rural industries. It is because of that situation that the Government is trying to do something, in the form of debt reconstruction, to assist the primary producer to readjust his debts so that he can obtain finance to carry on. I will ask the Minister for Primary Industry to have a look at the remainder of the honourable senator’s question. If 1 can obtain some further information, I will convey it to him.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that this year 4,000 persons will die and about 90,000 persons will be injured as a. result of motor accidents in Australia? Is he aware that 40 per cent of these deaths and injuries will be of persons under 30 years of age? In view of his concern about the effects of cigarette advertising on television, will he show the same concern about the effects on young people of the advertising of high-powered motor vehicles?
– I sense that the question raised by Senator Wriedt shows an appreciation of the logical extension of much of the controversy that is current as to the appropriate means of determining whether or not there should be restrictions on cigarette advertising. In terms of the voluntary code with respect to cigarette advertising, I have indicated that that is directed mainly at young people and, as the code itself indicates, especially at young people under 18 years of age. If we could have some voluntary agreement with regard to imparting to people who are about to drive cars an understanding of the dangers that they run if they drive recklessly or without regard to others, I would think that would be very desirable. But I do not know whether the honourable senator believes that, in line with certain statements that are made to the effect that there should be a complete ban on cigarette advertising, there should also be a complete ban on the advertising of motor cars. It seems to me that the logical extension of what he is saying does involve that. Nevertheless, I take note of what he has said.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry advise the Senate whether all States have implemented the dairy industry reconstruction plan? If they have not, which States have implemented the plan and what stage has been reached in the States which have not yet implemented it?
– I believe that all States have now accepted in principle the proposition put before them by the Commonwealth. I understand that in Western Australia the plan is fully operative at the present time. In regard to the remaining States, I am not sure of the situation. I will make some inquiries and let the honourable senator know.
Has the Minister for Health seen a statement attributed to the President of the General Practitioners Society of Australia, demanding that doctors retain the inalienable right to determine their fees and stating that any attempt by the Government or the Australian Medical Association to establish standard fees throughout the country is doomed to failure? Does the Minister agree with that statement?
– I have seen the statement to which Senator Douglas McClelland refers. I thing it is recognised that the medical profession has the power to fix its own fees. I understood that the President of the General Practitioners Society was emphasising that right in somewhat emotive and exaggerated language. It is not an inalienable right because there is a power which the people of Australia possess in this area. I believe that it is very important to the effective functioning of the national health scheme that operates in this country that doctors should act responsibly and should endeavour to observe the common fee. If the common fee is not observed then the service which is available to patients will be less effective and of course the operation of the national health scheme, of which the doctors are an integral part, will be the less effective. I have made these points to the General Practitioners Society and I am happy to have the occasion to reiterate them to the Senate.
– Will the Minister for Air say whether the action of the United States Air Force in temporarily grounding the 257 operational Fills after the eighteenth crash involving’ the supersonic swing wing jet will finally induce him to make a recommendation to the Cabinet for the cancellation of Australia’s order for Fill aircraft and to concentrate on an airworthy operational aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force?
– The short answer is no. Although the Fill has had 18 crashes to date it still has a much better record for the first 40,000 hours than the FI 00 series that are in operation in America. In regard to making a recommendation to Cabinet, the honourable senator is fully aware that, under the FraserLaird agreement, Australia has until the end of this year to have a look at the technical or operational requirements that we are seeking, to see whether the Americans have reached that standard and then to make a decision. Only then will Australia make that decision.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Health, concerns the matter of advertising high powered motor cars and its relationship to casualties in the younger age group. Will the Minister also study the economic factors which enable people in that age group to purchase and acquire such motor cars?
– I sense that the honourable senator’s question stems from the reply I gave earlier to Senator Wriedt. In essence the answer I gave and the question now asked by Senator Prowse are are argumentative. Problems of advertising in this area are essentially matters for the States.
President, Senator Poyser asked me a question a short while ago and I told him that I would seek further information about the matter. I now have the information and would like to take the opportunity to give it to him. I said that all States had accepted the maginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme. The scheme was formally accepted by Western Australia on 20th July last year; by Queensland on 14th September 1970 and is in full operation. It was formally accepted in Tasmania on 4th December 1970 and validating legislation bad passed the State parliament. Validating legislation was before the South Australian Parliament recently. Victoria formally accepted on 19th March 1971. Validating State legislation is not required but the scheme is operative. In New South Wales as at 19th March, an agreement was to be drawn up and sent back to the New South Wales Premier for signature in that week. That is the stage reached. The estimate of financial requirements to 30th June 1971 is $3.25m for Queensland and $600,000 for Western Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Because of the seating configuration on Fokker Friendship aircraft is there not a distinct possibility that a person following the advised procedure for emergency landings of placing his head down on folded arms as illustrated runs the risk of ending up with a broken neck or, in any case, with serious spinal or other damage because of the extremely limited space available between the seats for performing this action? Will the Minister have this instruction examined to determine the physical difficulties one would encounter in this situation and issue directions to the airlines to arrange seating so that the emergency procedures can in fact be carried out?
– I think that the contingency which the honourable member has mentioned in regard to the seating in the F27 aircraft is extremely unlikely. I would be very surprised indeed if the configuration were such as to permit of the possibility that he mentioned. Nonetheless I shall certainly have inquiries made. I shall direct this matter to the Air Safety Branch to make perfectly sure that the situation is adequately covered. I think it ought to be accepted that the Department of Civil Aviation watches these matters very carefully. People in the Department are not without their own knowledge of how to operate under these conditions.
-I refer to a matter which I have raised with the Minister for Works on a number of occasions. I acknowledge that the Minister heads a depart ment in which conversion of weight and other measurement to the metric system of calculation has a greater implication than that in any other department. Can the Minister indicate to the Senate that real progress within his Department is taking place in this matter? As the building and construction industry in all probability will look to the Department of Works for a lead in this matter and it being of little use for the Department of Works to be too far in advance of industry and its suppliers generally in its programming of final implementation of the metric system, will the Minister see that the building and construction industry is well informed on the actions of the Department of Works and the information available to it in this field?
– I inform the honourable senator that it is only within recent days that I have received an up-to-date report as to the interest taken by the Department in metric conversion. Each branch of the Department has appointed a senior architect or engineer to act as branch liaison officer. Under the direction of the senior project officer in the Department, Mr Milton, these several branches discuss the implications of the change. Within the Department there is also co-ordination of other authorities. That is being guided by Mr Milton who is heading our work embracing the Metric Conversion Board and the Standards Association of Australia. Mr Milton left Australia on 17th March and he will return on 16th May. While overseas he will discuss the various activities which have taken place in countries interested in metric conversion for the purpose of carrying on the work which has been referred to. It is quite obvious from my report that the task of metric conversion in the building and construction industry is going to concern a most important area in the problem facing Australia. It is my belief that we should be satisfied with the determined and resourceful approach which is being made within the Department to give leadership as well as co-operation in the metric conversion.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Government aware of the overwhelming financial problems of local government and statutory authorities throughout Australia as illustrated by the recent announcements made by the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board of Sydney of its incapacity to cope with the provision of necessary water and sewerage works and facilities unless massive finance is made available? As these problems have been exacerbated by Commonwealth policies on immigration, growth and the emphasis on pollution -
– Order! Ask your question, Senator.
– I am coming directly to it, Sir. Will the Minister tell us what hope he can. give that the Commonwealth in its general superintendence of the economy will ensure that these bodies can carry out their necessary functions.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt is true that the financial position of the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board of Sydney has received some publicity. Another honourable senator asked a questionon this matter in the last few weeks. The financial structure provides that local government authorities including councils and such bodies as the honourable senator referred to are the third tier of government. They draw their financial resources from their own capacity to strike a rate and equally, because of responsibility under constitutional provisions, from State governments. I recall that recently at a Premiers Conference the point was raised of when a State’s obligations to the various local government authorities should be considered at Premiers Conference level. There is not a direct association between the Commonwealth and local government authorities. It is an issue between the Commonwealth and the States, and the States in turn have responsibilities to the local government authorities. I am rather surprised that this question is raised now because in my experience local government bodies tend to strike a rate and do their balancing at the beginning of each calendar year rather than at the beginning of a financial year. I suspect that this point is being raised in the pre-Budget climate. That is a legitimate move, but I rather suspect that that is the motive. The direct answer to Senator Murphy’s question is that he has raised a matter which concerns local government authorities and State governments. The State governments in turn have access to the Commonwealth when discussions take place at Premiers Conference and Loan Council level.
(Question No. 831)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Kingdom for 1969-70 were as follows: -
Operational subsidies in the white fish and herring subsidy schemes were paid on the basis of either an allowance per day at sea or on the quantity of fish landed. Fishing vessels that qualified for a per day at sea subsidy were: -
For the period 1 August 1969 to 31 July 1970, the per day at sea subsidy varied between £3.10.0 sterling to £5.16.0 sterling. Vessels under 35 feet and white fish and herring vessels other than (i) and (iii) above were paid a subsidy on the basis of fish landed. The subsidy rate varied between 2) pence and 11 pence per stone (14lb.)
The Shipbuilding Act 1967 guarantees loans for all types of vessels over 100 gross tons built in United Kingdom shipyards. These are up to 55 per cent of approved contract values for fishing vessels. Provision also exists for loans for smaller fishing vessels from the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board.
(Question No. 917)
asked the Minister representing the Minis ter for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
and (2) The Consultative Committee on Drought was established by the Australian Agricultural Council at its 77th Meeting (Mt Hagen, June 1970) to examine and report on problems involving inter-state, multi-State or CommonwealthState aspects of:
The Consultative Committee is comprised of representatives of State Departments of Agriculture and Primary Industries and interested Commonwealth authorities including Primary Industry, Treasury, Interior, National Development, CSIRO, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Bureau of Meteorology and the Northern Territory Administration. Subject to the approval of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Consultative Committee may consult with other bodies with competence in regard to drought problems.
In its report to the 79th Meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council (Melbourne, February 1971), the Consultative Committee made a series of recommendations:
The Consultative Committee proposed a modification to the system presently governing Commonwealth financial assistance to drought affected States, to one where, in respect of a list of basic approved drought relief measures, the Commonwealth would assist a drought affected State once that State had spent from its own resources a’ sum agreed in advance as being appropriate to the State.
This modification was designed to enable States to know in advance that Commonwealth assistance would be forthcoming on specified conditions also agreed in advance. It would minimise or remove the element of uncertainty that exists about Commonwealth support under the present system. At the same time primary producers would also be able to know in advance the extent, level(s) and conditions of drought relief that would be available to them should drought eventuate.
Assuming a Commonwealth/State financial arrangement as above:
Subject to appropriate safeguards, rail and road freight concessions to operate on the following basis:
To whatever extent it is feasible the rail and road freight concessions should be uniform in the eastern States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The establishment of a study group to consider the longer term aspects of drought with the objective of providing governments and primary producers with better information on which to make decisions aimed at reducing the effects of future droughts. The study group’s investigations would be concerned with improving the knowledge of droughts, their recognition and occurrence, and their biological and economic consequences.
The Agricultural Council recognised that while there was a general desire for improved predictability of Commonwealth drought aid to the States without loss of flexibility, implementation’s of the improved system is dependent upon agreement among States and Commonwealth Treasuries on the form of financial arrangements and on the level appropriate to each State of expenditure on approved drought relief measures which would trigger Commonwealth assistance.
As a step towards exploring whether such a system is feasible, the Agricultural Council resolved that the Consultative Committee should examine the proposal further at its next meeting in conjunction with representatives of States and Commonwealth Treasuries, it being recognised that such further consideration would be on a consultative basis without commitment. Council further resolved that the terms of reference of the Consultative Committee be widened to include investigations into other natural disasters affecting rural industries.
In respect of the recommendations on drought freight concession, Agricultural Council considered that enhanced uniformity of drought freight concessions should be introduced as far as possible, especially in the event of the proposed system for Commonwealth assistance to the States being implemented. At the same time it was noted that there were differences in the extent to which the States and mainland Territories were dependent on rail and road transport in alleviating drought.
The Agricultural Council also resolved that a study group be established, under the Consultative Committee on Drought, to investigate the longer term aspects of drought.
The Consultative Committee met again on 23-24 March 1971 and discussed the proposal for enhanced predictability of Commonwealth aid to the States for drought and other natural disaster relief, with representatives of States and Commonwealth Treasuries. The outcome of these discussions will be reported to the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
Consequent on the approval given by the Agricultural Council, the Consultative Committee set up by the study group comprising a representative of CSIRO, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Bureau of Meteorology and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in whose State a pilot study of drought strategies will be conducted. The study group will liaise with other States and other organisations as necessary.
Other items of discussion at the meeting included drought relief measures, associated effects of drought, drought rehabilitation, drought mitigation and other natural disasters affecting agricultural production.
(Question No. 921)
asked the Minister representing the Post masterGeneral, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
Whilst I am not aware of the conduct of any surveys in Australia into the social influence of television on children between the ages of four and nine years, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has sponsored the following surveys which are on somewhat similar lines to those referred to by the Honourable Senator.
In addition, the Board has sponsored two before and after television surveys of Sydney homes. The first, completed in 1959, provided data on a number of ways in which television had affected the interests and activities of people of all ages, and on opinion about the influence of television on children and parents, and was written by Clark & Olley of the University of New South Wales. The second survey was a study of the sociological and other effects of television on viewers, especially adolescent viewers in the Sydney area, and was published in 1962 as ‘Television and the Australian Adolescent’ by Dr W. J. Campbell of the University of Sydney.
The Board has also undertaken its own research in recent years. This has included pre-television surveys of the attitudes of people over 18 years of age in Geraldton and Darwin. These surveys will be repeated several years after the advent of television in these isolated communities to assess the part played by television in any changes that might have occurred in their attitudes. Surveys have been conducted into general attitudes to television and to specific aspects of programming or advertising practices. A report published by the Board in July, 1970, titled ‘Attitudes to Television 1968, 1969’ sets out the results of surveys conducted in Sydney and Melbourne.
In 1968, the Board investigated the attributes of children in relation to their different patterns of television viewing. This study was undertaken in a number of Melbourne technical and high schools and related the children’s television behaviour to available biographical details and to data on their intelligence and personality. A report on the findings is in the course of publication.
Last year, the Board assisted in the design of a pilot survey by Monash University of parents of children of kindergarten age with a view to discovering the problems associated with research in the area of pre-school children and television. The Board’s future research plans envisage continuing investigations in this and related areas.
(Question No. 924)
asked the Minister representing the Minis ter for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No: 983)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senators, questions are as follows:
Enterprise Hostel at Springvale took place, in the period from 1964 to 1966, it was not proposed to conduct migrant education classes’ in the Hostel itself but to rely instead upon the facilities available in the community.
Late in 1970 following the Government’s decision to expand the migrant education programme action was taken to establish in the actual Hostel intensive instruction for non-English speaking migrant children before they were passed on for enrolment in the normal school system and both full-time and part-time courses for adults residing in the Hostel. Improvisation consequently became necessary to meet classroom requirements.
Since the migrant education centre in the Hostel was opened in January 1971 under the supervision of a Departmental Language Training Officer, classes under teachers provided by the Victorian Education Department have been held in the Recreation Hall, in the foyer adjoining it. in the Child Minding Centre, the Library, the Youth Centre and the Staff Sitting-room. The Recreation Hall is used for full-time classes for children 6 hours a day during the normal school week, and for adultsfor 2 hours in the evening 2 nights a week. Otherwise it is available for recreational purposes. Any movement of gear and equipment is handled by the Hostel staff. The shortcomings of the present arrangements are recognised but any temporary inconvenience caused is far outweighed by the value of the courses of instruction being provided.
(Question No. 1045)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Division of Fisheries and Oceanography and Division of Food Research - Research on the prawn fishery in northern Australian waters, and investigations into the factors affecting the quality of abalone and prawn products.
Victorian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife - Research on the school and gummy shark fisheries of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales;
New South Wales State Fisheries, Chief Secretary’s Department - Research on oyster cultivation in New South Wales waters.
The Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry (on behalf of the Australian Fisheries Council) - training of fisheries officers; and conducting a National Fisheries Seminar.
Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna - Research on rock lobsters in West Australian waters.
Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna and the Western Australian Branch of the Australian Fishing Industry Council - Scholarships for fishery students.
Further details on these projects and the amounts involved were given in a press release of 20th April 1971.
Mr A. G. Shanahan Moreton Bay, Queensland, Development of an oyster (spat) catching frame.
Taronga Zoological Park Trust - New South Wales, Use of high volume pump for zoo plankton collection.
New South Wales State Fisheries - Brackish water trout culture at Port Stephens.
New South Wales State Fisheries - Investigation of latest developments in overseas aquaculture.
University of New South Wales and the New South Wales State Fisheries - Raft culture of mussels in south east Australia.
Ulladulla Fishermen’s Co-operative - Survey of the potential of commercial fisheries in the Ulladulla area.
Mr K. Flynn Establishment of a prawn, oyster and crab farm at Cairns, Queensland.
Oxley Regional Development Committee - Survey of the sportfishing potential of the Oxley Region of New South Wales.
Victorian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife - Scallop culture in Port Phillip Bay.
Tasmanian Department of Agriculture - Mariculture, research and development.
The C. Hulls Co.- New South Wales, development of ferry-cement fishing boats.
South Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna Conservation and Adelaide University - Study of abalone ecology in South Australian waters.
Tasmanian Department of Agriculture - Survey of pelagic fish resources.
CSIRO Division of Food Research- Study visit to Europe by an officer of the Division.
CSIRO Division of Fisheries and oceanography and Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Prawn research on Queensland’s east coast.
British Tobacco (Aust.) Ltd - Aquaculture of tiger prawns at Moreton Bay, Queensland.
Queensland University - Study of Eastern Australian Flathead.
Queensland University - Purchase of a trawler for research work.
Mr R. K.. Bryson Townsville, Queensland, Tropical oyster culture.
Sevrup Fisheries Pty Ltd - Brackish water culture of trout and salmon at Bridport, Tasmania.
Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative - Survey of the scallop resources of the Bermagui area.
The Hunter Valley Research Foundation - Study of fish marketing and potential in New South Wales.
Queensland University - Study of invertebrates in Moreton Bay.
(Question No. 821)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior upon notice:
Committee in Darwin comprising the harbourmaster and oil company representatives (vide Northern Territory Newsletter, December 1970, pages 3-4), what powers will the harbourmaster have to ensure that the individual views of an offending oil company will not necessarily decide which dispersed or detergent is used to combat a spillage.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Under the provisions of Section 6 of the Northern Territory Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Ordinance the Administrator has full discretion to determine the dispersed or detergent which will be used to combat a spillage. In practice anti-pollutant materials will be held in stock by the Port Authority ready for use should pollution occur. The advice of the Port Authority and representatives of the oil companies has been sought by the Administrator to assist in choosing the type and quantity of material to be held in stock. The selection has been based on the anti-pollutant characteristics of the material and not the views of any one oil company.
(Question No. 851)
asked the Minis ter representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Representatives of an attack upon naval vessels at Garden Island intended for 8th May 1965.
Mrs Dalton searched without the discovery of any suspicious materials.
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the’ following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 947)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 989)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 1003)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) See Schedule A below.
(Question No. 1008)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Do bee-keepers still have free access to Australian Capital Territory forests when all States impose a levy on such operations; if so, how is this freehouse policy reconciled with the need for maximum revenue to protect environmental erosion.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes, limited free access is permitted as there is no provision for charging a fee under the
Apiaries Ordinance 1928-1959. The Ordinance is under review at present and the case for fees is being considered.
Enquiries in New South Wales suggest licensing charges for an apiarist’s site in that State vary from $2 to $12 per annum. Such license appears to entitle an apiarist to operate exclusively over an area of 1 square mile over lands such as State forests, timber reserves, vacant crown land, annual leases, permissive occupancies and occupation licenses. No licenses are issued over freehold land.
In the Jervis Bay area there appears to be about 10,000 acres suitable for bee keeping. The maximum number of licenses that could be issued over this area would be 16 resulting in revenue of $192 based on a maximum charge of $12 per annum.
In the Australian Capital Territory excluding built up areas, catchment area, special purposes land and existing freehold there are approximately 244,000 acres of grazing and agricultural land now under lease. Arrangements for placing bees would rest between those lessees and any interested apiarists.
(Question No. 1009)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1018)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Would any of the perpetrators of bomb attacks on Yugoslav consulates who are apprehended and found guilty be returned to Yugoslavia as is the practice followed by the West German Government in such cases, in view of the answer given to Question No. 911 which was placed on notice on 25th February 1971.
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The purpose of an extradition agreement between 2 countries is to provide for the return to one country for trial of a person who has committed or is alleged to have committed an extraditable offence in that country and has fled to the other country. If a person were apprehended and charged with a bomb attack upon a Yugoslav consulate in Australia he would be prosecuted under Australian law.
(Question No. 1019)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1069)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Tasmanian apples are carried into the Port of London by conventional ships and the charges for a bushel carton of apples have increased from 15 cents to 28 cents. Palletised cargoes receive a rebate, which in the case of apples, amounts to about 9 cents per carton. I am informed that the Tasmanianindustry is moving as quickly as possible towards complete palletisation of the export crop.
– On 9th March 1971 Senator Mulvihill asked the following question during the adjournment debate:
Let us know its size (i.e., of the proposed northern national park) and give us an ironclad assurance that this area will be completely segregated and free from the ravishment of mining interests.
The Minister for the Interior has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
In July 1970 the Minister for the Interior appointed a Planning Team to draft a development plan for a major national park in the Top End of the Northern Territory. The team was asked to examine such matters as park boundaries, to identify points of interest and make suggestions for future development.
A basic area of 1,000 square miles in the catchments of the South and East Alligator Rivers adjacent to the Arnhem Land. Aboriginal Reserve was studied.
The Planning Team has completed a draft report which is to be discussed with the Northern Territory Administration and the Department before the final report is submitted to the Minister for the Interior.
Major uranium deposits have been discovered near the proposed park by Queensland Mines Limited at Nabarlek and Geopeko Limited at Ranger No. 1.
There are a number of prospecting authorities in the general area of the proposed park. An application has been received from Noranda Australia Limited for mineral leases in one area. This Company has announced that it has found uranium in grades of economic interest.
The national significance of the proposed park is fully appreciated by the Government. Nevertheless, the mineral resources could also be of national significance and the Government needs to have all relevant information from both aspects.
Any conflict of interests between conservation and mining interests will be given the closest attention by the Government.
– On 31st March 1971 Senator Murphy asked me a question concerning a newspaper report that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had deliberately failed to use interview material featuring Bishop Edward Crowther, former Bishop of Kimberley in South Africa. The PostmasterGeneral has consulted with the Australian Broadcasting Commission which has furnished the following information:
Speakers for ‘Guest of Honour’ are scheduled tentatively some time in advance and at one time we included Bishop Crowther in our lists. However, by the time the proposed transmission date for his talk arrived Bishop Crowther had already appeared and expressed his views in several of our Current Affairs programmes including This Day Tonight’ and “P.M.’ and was scheduled to appear in ‘Four Corners’ on Saturday, 20th March and Sunday, 21st March. Bishop Crowther was also interviewed in our television news on the eve of his departure from Australia and was reported from time to time in our radio and television news bulletins during his Australian visit.
Bishop Crowther was not ‘censored off’ the ‘This Day Tonight’ programme. He did not appear as scheduled because of a technical fault in transmission, which caused loss of picture. Bishop Crowther readily agreed to another interview which was included in the ‘This Day Tonight’ programme the following night.
– Senator Bull has asked me the following question:
I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, by stating that it is reported that the Minister for Customs and Excise has said that because of the cancellation of the by-law permitting duty free entry of a wide range of imported truck parts those parts will be subject to a duty rate ranging from 271/2 per cent to 35 per cent. My question is: Does the Minister agree with those who claim that this increased protection will mean a higher manufacturing cost for commercial vehicles and, if so, place a further cost burden on our hard-pressed rural industries and industry generally? Did the Minister for Trade and Industry give an assurance in 1965 that the effects of this by-law would be referred to the Tariff Board in 5 years time? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Tariff Board will be instructed to review the effects of these newly opened duties when they come into operation on 1 October?
The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied me with the following information:
The decision to revise the by-laws in this area was taken after detailed examination by the Department of Customs and Excise, and after consultation with both the component manufacturers and the users of those components. This action conforms with the expressed intention of the Tariff Board and has been endorsed by the Government.
The Government has decided there will be a progressive review of the Tariff. The questions of when this review will start and the order in which industries will be referred to the Tariff Board in this review are matters which are shortly to be considered by the Cabinet.
One of the matters to be taken into account is the likely workload these review references will place on the TariffBoard in addition to normal references. The decision on the timing of a reference on motor vehicles and components will have to be taken in this context.
In relation to commercial vehicles there will be a separate reference to the Tariff Board.
For the reasons given earlier it is impossible to state when this will be sent but it appears unlikely that a reference for the review of these tariffs would be delayed beyond 1971.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONOn 6th April 1971 Senator Turnbull asked me the following question without notice:
Can the Minister now obtain for me the answers to the following three questions? Firstly, what is the date of the first request from foreign governments for DC3 aircraft or the first date on which the Department of Foreign Affairs suggested to foreign buyers that they might take DC3 aircraft? Secondly, what is the date of the first intimation from Jetair Australia Limited to the Government that it had DC3 for sale, or the date on which a Government department first approached Jetair Australia Limited for the purchase of these planes? Thirdly, on what date did Jetair Australia Limited cease its passenger services? Can the Minister also inform me the losses sustained by Jetair Australia Limited on those services?
I said that of the 3 questions, 2 come within the administration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and one within the administration of the Minister for Air. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following 2 answers:
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the text of the following international treaty:
Convention No. 112 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment as fishermen, adopted by the International Labour Conference at its FortyThird Session on 19th June 1959.
The law and practice in both Commonwealth and State jurisdictions in Australia are in accord with the provisions of the Convention. Subject to the approval of the Federal Executive Council, the Government intends to lodge the instrument of ratification of this convention with the DirectorGeneral of the International Labour Office as soon as possible.
Motion (by Senator Wright) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Committee of Privileges, when considering the matter referred to it this day, have power to send for persons, papers and records.
– by leave - For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian Branch delegation on the 16th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Canberra, October 1970. . I seek leave to propose a motion in relation to the report. .
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to makemy remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - At the request of Senator Lacey I move:
That Senator Lacey be discharged from membership of the Standing Orders Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 30th April (vide page 1251).
-The Committee is dealing with the additional estimates of departments considered by Estimates Committee D. Are there any requests?
– I wish to deal with Division 480, subdivision 2, administrative expenses. I indicate once again that it is not my intention in examining these estimates to attack any of the salary rises unless I think they are exorbitant, because they are largely out of the hands of the Government if they are the result of determinations or decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In looking at the overall position, I think the way in which administrative expenses of the various departments are increasing is a disgrace. There should be very good reason for these increases. Item 01 in subdivision 2 makes provision for an additional appropriation of $82,000. The amount appropriated in the Budget was about the same as was expended last year, and now an extra $82,000 is required. What situation has developed that would require this extra appropriation? The expenditure was $255,000 in 1967-68, $296,000 in 1968-69, and $397,715 in 1969-70. The estimate for 1970-71 was only $400,000. It seems to me that there was a deliberate attempt here to underestimate and to try to produce a fictional balanced Budget in August of last year.
I would like to know what the increased expenditure of $82,000 represents. I have examined the explanatory notes in connection with it, although we received them very late in the piece to be able to examine them properly. The . explanatory notes in relation to this item indicate ‘ that an extra appropriation of $18,000 is required for travelling allowances and an extra $28,000 for fares to cover this increased travelling by the administrative staff. The expenditure in relation to travelling allowances almost equals the cost of fares listed under this item. But the explanatory notes go further and give a break up of the method of expending this amount. The notes show that the expansion of central office, Canberra, and departmental activities resulting in increased travel between Canberra and Melbourne has resulted in an extra appropriation of $12,980 being required. This is quite a large amount for travelling between an office in Canberra and an office in Melbourne. J realise that the main functions of the Department of Shipping and Transport have over the years been centred in Melbourne. I take it from the explanation given that there has been a gradual movement of the Department to Canberra. But it seems to me that that is quite a large amount to expend on travel between Melbourne and Canberra.
Under the same item we find that an expenditure of $12,200 had not been estimated for in relation to overseas travel. I regard this as a considerable amount of money not to have been estimated for in the Budget and not to have been foreseen by the Department to be required. I also invite attention to the figure of $12,980 in that respect. This sort of travel between Canberra and Melbourne should have been foreseen at the time the estimates were being prepared. The next item is concerned with excess costs incurred due to the need to change members of crews of lighthouses, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland. Apart from people leaving the Department and having to be replaced, surely the Department knows whether lighthouse keepers are going on leave and have to be replaced. The Department could be caught in a tight spot in the case of illness or something like that, which necessitates people being replaced. But a bald statement such as this is not satisfactory to me.
Under the third section of the item we are asked to appropriate $12,200 for overseas travel which was not estimated for. Under the eighth section of the item there is the cost of overseas travel associated with the presentation of Captain Cook’s cannon, namely, $2,850. Surely the preparations for the presentation of Captain Cook’s cannon were not made in a hurry. Surely the Department knew what was to happen in regard to that presentation and knew whether it would have to send some? one overseas in connection with that. It seems to me that these sorts of items should have been in the Budget and should not be in the supplementary estimates.
The next item to which I want to refer covers postage, telegrams and telephone services. Under this item $235,000 was appropriated in the Budget. It must have been expected that that amount would not cover increased charges. An extra $65,000 is now required. Some of the reasons are given in the explanatory notes. My inquiries arise not from what is in the explanatory notes but from what is left out of them. The explanatory notes do not give us the necessary information, but they do give us clues that enable us to make some inquiries. In my examination of the Estimates I have not attacked on a general basis, increases in telephone, postal and other charges made by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The reason is that it has been revealed that such increases are not taken into consideration when the Budget is prepared and that they must be included in the supplementary estimates.
But, looking through the dissection of the figure of $65,000, 1 find that an extra appropriation of $51,400 is required for the use of office telephones. That applies to the three-quarters of the year for which charges were increased as a result of the legislation passed in October. 1 also find an extra appropriation of $4,000 for residential telephones. Where are we going with residential telephones? The extra use of residential telephones will involve $4,000. What is the amount that is spent on residential telephones over the whole year? Whose telephones are these? Who is entitled to a residential telephone under the estimates of this Department? I believes that the Committee should have some information on that item.
The next item to which I refer is the extra appropriation of $10,000 for professional services - fees and expenses. The total of the amount appropriated in the Budget and the amount now asked for is $76,000 greater than the amount expended last year. What are the professional services which the Department expects to use and which will cost this extra amount? The additional appropriation involves only quite a small amount. The explanatory notes say that provision is made under this item for the cost of special professional services and for special fees and expenses associated with services provided from outside the Department. They say that the necessity for the marine operations centre project stems from concern about the adequacy of existing arrangements for handling marine search and rescue emergencies. I am concerned that this item is for professional services - fees and expenses; yet loaded into it is an additional requirement to cover the cost of a feasibility study in relation to the establishment of a central marine operations centre or other methods of conducting search and rescue operations. That has nothing to do with the heading of the item in the estimates, namely, professional services - fees and expenses. That matter should not be under this item at all. It seems to me that there is a padding out in here somewhere.
I invite the Minister’s attention to the fact that, if private legal practitioners are being consulted by this Department - I have no doubt that they are - the Depart* ment has been waiting for some considerable time for information from the crown law officers as to the constitutional ability of the Department to carry out certain functions. I suggest that if an amount of $322,000- that will be $332,000 if this vote is passed - is to be expended on legal expenses, perhaps some outside people could be used to advise the Department on its constitutional problems and so have them settled, because some of the questions have been before the AttorneyGeneral’s Department for more than 2 years without an answer being supplied. Perhaps someone from outside could supply the answers a little more quickly and take some of the load off the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. If we are spending this sort of money, let us spend it wisely and obtain the answers to questions that we require, and do not let this item be padded out with something connected with marine search and rescue operations.
An extra appropriation of $64,000 is sought for incidental and other expenditure. The Budget appropriation represented an increase of about 35 per cent on the expenditure last year and the amount now requested is about 50 per cent of the amount expended last year. The amount expended in 1969-70 under this item was $128,973. The additional appropriation sought is almost $64,000. So the Department comes to us seeking an additional appropriation which will increase the total appropriation to an amount representing an increase of about 85 per cent on the previous year’s expenditure.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Davidson) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I think it would be helpful if I were to reply to Senator Cant now. I think it makes the flow of questions and answers more orderly. First of all, in regard to the item for travelling and subsistence, Senator Cant mentioned that some of the reasons for the increased expenditure have been detailed in the explanatory material. In passing, I might say to Senator Cavanagh that if he wants that material I will have to send out for it. Referring to Division 480, subdivision 2, item 01, the increases for travelling and subsistence are listed in quite some detail. The increased travelling between Canberra and Melbourne referred to by Senator Cant relates to 124 return trips of an average of 2 or 3 days durations for people coming from Melbourne to Canberra and return.
As for overseas travel, the Permanent Head of the Department went to the United Kingdom, France and Canada and was accompanied by one officer who went to the United States of America and to Canada. A sea transport officer went to Italy for the International Shipping Organisation conference on containers and a nautical adviser went to New Zealand for a port authorities meeting. The Director of the Bureau of Transport Economics went to the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The Assistant Secretary (Sea Transport) went overseas in connection with the containerisation agreement. These trips totalled $16,000. The original estimate allowed $4,400 for the purpose so the amount required is reduced to $12,200. The lighthouse matter referred to by Senator Cant, concerns the change of crews but not a change of any lighthouse personnel. Under division 480, subdivision 2, item 01, originally no provision was made for an officer to travel in connection with the Captain Cook cannon. A decision was taken at a later date, I imagine because the cannon proved to be. valuable and there was some element of their being rather fragile and needing care. That is my recollection of the matter.
Subdivision 2, item 03 refers to additional telephone services. The additional telephone services and residentials required a provision of $10,000. I am informed that the additional 32 services involving a total of $4,000 were for connections to surveyors. The additional estimates required under item 08, professional services - fees and expenses, come under various headings. The original estimate totalled $322,000. There is quite a long list here. The additional sum of $10,000 referred to by Senator Cant is for a feasibility study relating to search and rescue. I take this point about the problem of legal authority as between Commonwealth and States because of the experience he has had in looking into a particular field. This refers to the appointment of a firm of engineering consultants for this purpose. This caused the additional amount of money to be necessary. I turn now to item 09, the estimate for incidental and other expenditure.
– I have not finished speaking on that item.
– If you have not finished with that item my intervention will permit you to proceed.
– I refer again to item 08, provision for professional services - fees and expenses. When it is preparing its estimates the Department, if it is going to engage professional engineers to advise on central marine operations and the method of conducting search and rescue operations, should put these things under a separate item. Tt should not mix them in with things that come under the heading of ‘professional services - fees and expenses’ unless it sets the matter out clearly in a way in which we can understand what sort of professional services are required. Upon first reading these estimates I took this expenditure to be for legal fees and that sort of thing because the Department does get quite a bit of legal assistance.
I turn now to item 09, incidental and other expenditure. Taking the original estimate and the supplementary estimate, there will be about an 85 per cent increase over the sum expended in 1969-70. When one looks at the explanatory notes one finds a summary showing the necessity for the additional funds. They are to cover the cost of a transport conference to identify the problems of surface transport in Australia, particularly in goods movement, and to suggest solutions. The additional sum required for that is $15,000. Who are the people who make up this transport conference? Where do they meet? How many meetings are held? Is any information given to the Parliament on the findings of a conference of this nature? What are the problems? It is said that the money is sought to identify problems of surface transport in Australia and in goods movement and to suggest solutions.
One of the big problems facing the Australian nation today is the cost of transport, particularly overseas freights. Does this item relate to an examination of the problems of surface transport on the wharves and the movement of cargoes to the wharves? Has this item anything to do with how surface cargoes are got to the wharves, how they are placed on the wharves, whether handling is economic and all that sort of thing? If that is so, then the nation will receive a service as a result of this expenditure. I would like to know a bit more about what is meant by a conference of this nature. In paragraph (b) of the explanatory notes it is stated:
Specific advertising for positions in the newly created Bureau of Transport Economics ($17,430) plus a general increase in general advertising costs.
The amount allocated is $29,700.
– What item is that?
– I am referring to Division 480, subdivision 2, item 09. During discussion on the Estimates late last year I questioned the Department about whether the Bureau of Transport Economics would take over the Bureau of Roads. The answer was no. Since then I have read some articles in the Press indicating that it is quite likely that the Bureau of Roads will be absorbed by the Bureau of Transport Economics. I would like some information about what positions are being filled in this Bureau of Transport Economics and where the advertising takes place. This raises the whole question of Government advertising and whether quite a lot of it could not be done by the Australian Broadcasting Commisison on its radio and television networks instead of boosting private enterprise operations in radio and television. Could not the Government use some of its own services for its own advertising? 1 throw this point in for good measure.
In the explanatory notes paragraph (d) refers to the provision of a tea service in a new office building in Sydney. It will cater both for the regional office and the Shipbuilding Division of the central office. An extra appropriation of $2,200 has been provided under this heading. I think some explanation is required of the Department as to what the taxpayers money is being spent on. If this amount is justified I do not raise any objections but I think this will require some justifying in the face of criticisms which have been made of various departments.
Under Division 480, subdivision 3, item 01, free or concessional railway fares and freights, in the past 3 years the total amount expended was about $20,000. In’ 1967-68 we spent just on $7,000 on this item. In 1968-69 we spent $6,000 and in 1969-70 we spent $7,000. In the Budget this year we appropriated $7,000. Now the Department has come back with a supplementary appropriation of $130,000. I think this is something which has to be looked at. I have read the explanatory notes on this item and they state: ‘The foregoing outlines the purposes for which the original amount was appropriated and the additional requirement is to cover the cost of concessions which have now been introduced for travel by eligible pensioners over Commonwealth Railways.’ What conditions are attached to the travel of pensioners on Commonwealth Railways? The Commonwealth Railways are a portion of the railways in Australia. There is the north-south railway, the Australian Capital Territory railway, the trans-continental railway from Port Pirie to Kalgoorlie and the railway in the Nothern Teritory. Another matter which I think requires some explanation is the qualification of eligibility in order to obtain a concessional fare on Commonwealth Railways. Do the States also grant concessional fares? Would a person travelling from Perth to Adelaide receive the concession between Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie but have to pay full fare from Perth to Kalgoorlie and from Port Pirie to Adelaide? What does this item mean? When did the scheme of concessional travel for eligible pensioners come into operation?
– Under Division 480, subdivision 2, item 08, professional services - fees and expenses, I want to raise a matter in relation to marine search and rescue work. I would like to know the figure which has been spent on this work for the whole year. Also I would like to know in some detail the type of work which is carried out because I believe the time has arrived in Australia when the Commonwealth Government should convene a conference of all States in relation to the operation of small craft. Each State has its own regulations, its own method of registration, of licensing and of testing drivers of small craft. I believe that much of the money spent on marine search and rescue could be saved if the Commonwealth were to convene such a conference and attempt to obtain some standard regulations throughout the Commonwealth in this field. Every honourable senator in this chamber is aware of the tremendous advances which have been made in the small craft industry. They are aware of the number of people throughout Australia who own small boats and use them. Every year we find that more and more people are losing their lives or are being lost from the small craft. They have to be found. They go out in unsuitable weather and unsuitable boats. Both the States and the Commonwealth have to find them at a tremendous cost.
In Victoria all small craft are required to be registered but no test is required in relation to the type of boat which a person may own. People are still using belly tanks from aircraft in the sea which are totally and absolutely unsuitable and tremendously dangerous. Because a stupid person used this type of boat in which to go fishing a life was lost at Port Arlington last’ summer. This type of craft may be allright for a small lake or small river. This person lost his life because he used this type of craft and was able to use it under the regulations which operate in Victoria. No test is carried out in relation to a person’s ability to drive one of these boats. Nor is a test carried out in relation to the sea road laws which are required to be known and observed in other States. On many occasions I have seen children of 8 or 10 driving 16 foot and 18 foot cruisers with their parents beside them. Honourable senators may say that they are doing this under supervision. But when we make an observation of this nature we know that that child cannot see in front of it at all. The child may be able to see another boat which is in the water but when one is at sea in a small craft there are many other hazards which one has to watch for. Floating planks and other type of debris can destroy a boat and sink it very quickly. We find that under Victorian regulations no licence is required and no knowledge is needed. Any person can be put into a boat and he can set off. There is a great danger that finally they will get into trouble and the search and rescue work which is done magnificently has to be carried out at great cost to the community.
I believe the time has arrived when the Commonwealth should convene a confer ence on this matter and seek some standard operation of regulations throughout Australia. I believe that every person who is in charge of a small craft should be tested in relation to his ability to control a boat just as he is tested in relation to his ability to drive a motor car. I believe he should be tested in the rules of the road of the sea just as he is tested in the rules of the road of the land. At sea one sees some fantastic things done. During the summer months one has to watch carefully, particularly during the holiday periods in some areas - even more carefully than, when one is driving a car along the road. I suggest that much of the money which is expended at a State and Commonwealth level on this type of work could be cut back tremendously if people were fully acquainted with the rules and had the ability to drive. I commend the Department of -Shipping and Transport for the excellent book which it produced about safety in small craft. I understand it has proved so popular that a third or fourth edition is : now contemplated. It is an excellent book which should be read by everybody who. goes out in a small craft. The matters which are referred to in that book should be compulsorily applied throughout the Commonwealth by all States. I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to convey to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) my wishes that such a confer*ence be held.
– Senator Cant in concluding made some observations on Division 480, subdivision 2, item 08, professional services - fees and expenses. He said that he and the Senate would have been helped had this item been listed in more detail as to what, it was for and to whom it applied. I shall make that appropriate comment through the officers to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon). Senator Cant asked a number of questions about the transport conference. He wanted to know how many meetings were held, whether information about them was supplied to Parliament and whether the conference dealt with cargo handling on the wharves and to and from the wharves. The transport conference was required by the Minister at comparatively short notice. It was decided that the time had come when an overall transport conference attended by people interested in transport could be held in a symposium form to generate interest and inquiry and to seek uniformity in action taken to solve what has become one of Australia’s critical problems, as has been said by many honourable senators. I refer to transport costs and the handling of cargo on wharves, to and from wharves and into and out of ships. The conference was held in Canberra and dealt with all aspects of surface transport. It was attended by leaders in the industry and chaired by Sir Ian McLennan, Managing Director of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd.
Senator Cant also referred to advertising. I have a list of the various advertisements relating to the Bureau of Transport Economics. Suffice to say that the advertisements seem to be totally newspaper advertisements which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, ‘Daily Telegraph’, Melbourne Age’, ‘Sub News-Pictorial’, Melbourne Herald’, ‘Courier-Mail’, ‘Advertiser’, ‘West Australian’, Hobart ‘Mercury’, ‘Australian’, and ‘Canberra Times’. Senator Cant also made the point that the Government should be doing everything it could in respect of publicity through its own departments and agencies. I am sure that that is the case, but his comment will be drawn to the attention of the Minister through the departmental officers.
Comment was also made by Senator Cant about the tea service provided out of the appropriation for incidental and other expenditure. I have a list of the additional sums of money required. A tea service was provided in a new office in Sydney housing the Regional Office and the Shipbuilding Division of Central Office. I am informed by the Department that it is a desk to desk tea service so that people do not have to leave their desks in order to obtain morning or afternoon tea. It is thought that this is a more efficient way to operate a tea service and charges are made to cover the replacement of items used in the service.
Senator Poyser substantially dealt with the question of small boats and the problems involved when children are taken to sea and allowed to handle them. Senator Poyser referred to the use of aircraft belly tanks in this regard. I believe that all he said could well be true, but I am wondering whether it is within the responsibility of the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport or whether it lies within the licensing and regulatory powers of the States. I take the honourable senator’s point and I am sure his suggestions could improve matters for everybody concerned. The honourable senator suggested a conference to consider the problems that have arisen following the tremendous expansion in small boat ownership throughout Australia. Such a conference could consider small boat safety, licensing standards and appropriate regulations. I will mention the point to the Minister as it has arisen this morning.
Senator Cant referred to the Commonwealth Railways proportion of the through fare which does not include ancillary charges for the berth, meals and so on. The concession is 50 per cent. The appropriation is included in the provision for free or concessional railway fares and freights in subdivision 3 of Division 480 - Administrative. The appropriation of $7,000 is made up of the cost of travel by distinguished visitors, consuls and so on $558; ex-servicemen’s organisations $5,621; freight concessions on gifts to missions $670, and other concessions $151. Senator Cant next referred to the additional amount required which provides for reimbursement under the Commonwealth Railways Act. On 1st January 1970 fare concessions were introduced for travel by eligible pensioners on Commonwealth Railways. Initially the concession related only to travel within the State of residence, but as from 1st April 1970 it was extended to cover Commonwealth Railways operations in all States. Concessions were granted to 30th September 1970 amounting to $75,000. I take it that the Commonwealth Railways proportion is 50 per cent of the through fare. I and the officers of the Department have noted the comments made. When we were dealing with another section the question was asked whether this concession would not be more appropriately charged to the social service area than to the area of shipping and transport. Those comments were noted. It is not for me to make a decision on the point but simply to forward to the Minister the comments made here by honourable senators.
– I refer to the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry. In order to bring the matter before the Minister I relate my remarks to Division 520 - Administrative. I have examined the explanatory notes provided by the Department to the Estimates Committee charged with the responsibility of investigating the Department’s estimates. I refer the Minister to page 14 of the explanatory notes, which relates to the appropriation for export promotion, and to page 16 which relates to the appropriation for publicity in regard to overseas investment in Australia. I have noted from the explanatory notes that no additional appropriation is required for publicity purposes. However, I wish to raise with the Minister a point involving publicity. It concerns the engagement of advertising agents by the Department of Trade and Industry. In September 1969 the Public Accounts Committee conducted a long and detailed inquiry into the activities of the Commonwealth Advertising Council. At a later stage I hope to be able to say something about that matter, probably when the estimates for the Treasury are before us.
Finding No. 9 of the Public Accounts Committee stated that the basis of engagement of advertising agencies in Australia by the Department of Trade and Industry in connection with its promotional advertising overseas should be reviewed in connection with the legal opinion of 20th August 1969 relating to Treasury Regulation No. 52. Reference is then made to paragraph 206 of the Public Accounts Committee’s report, which states:
During this phase of our inquiry we noted that as part of its promotional advertising activities overseas the Department of Trade and Industry uses the services of 2 advertising agencies in Australia -
The Committee did not comment on whether the agencies are foreign owned or Australian owned. The Committee went on: - for the preparation and placement of advertising. These agencies were appointed by the Executive Council. In view of the recent opinion obtained by the Department of the Treasury in relation to Treasury Regulation No. 52 we believe that the basis of engagement of these 2 advertising agencies should be reviewed.
The Committee’s report was presented to Parliament on 17th September 1969. When
Parliament resumed last year I placed a question on the notice paper. On 9th June of last year - nearly 12 months ago - I received from the Minister representing in this place the then Minister for Trade and Industry the following answer:
The ninth finding of the Joint. Committee of Public Accounts in its 112th report is still under study by the Department of Trade and Industry. The action taken by the Department as a result of its review will be notified to’ the Treasury for incorporation in a Treasury minute to the Committee, and will be made public when (he minute is tabled by the Committee in both Houses of Parliament.
From inquiries that I have made no minute has been tabled by the. Department of the Treasury in reply to the findings of the 112th report of the Public Accounts Committee in relation to Commonwealth advertising. I should like to know whether the Minister who represents in this chamber the Minister for Trade and Industry can now tell me to what stage a review has taken place within the Department of Trade and Industry of the ninth finding of the Public Accounts Committee because this is indeed quite a serious matter. We know that the 2 agencies employed by the Department of Trade and Industry were appointed by the Executive Council and that, according to the report of the Public Accounts Committee, the basis of the engagement of the advertising agencies by the Department of Trade and. Industry should be reviewed in connection with a legal opinion of 20th August 1969 relating to Treasury regulation 52. I should like the Minister to ascertain the state of -that matter because I regard it as quite a serious matter and intend to have something else to say about it during the course of the consideration of the estimates for the Department of the Treasury. ‘!
Another matter to which I wish to refer in relation to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport is . the subsidy that is being paid by the Department to a Japanese shipping company..
– If the honourable senator could give me the line item it would help me.
– I will for my purpose raise it under the heading of Division 486 - Shipbuilding Division. Recently I had the honour of representing this Parliament at an InterParliamentary Union conference in Venezuela. During the course of this conference I made some inquiries of a number of Latin American countries about the prospects of trade between Australia and those countries. 1 was told that, as a result of activities being now engaged in by the new Chilean Government, there are greatly increased prospects of Australian trade in milk products, chilled beef cuts and rice. I was told also that there are substantial markets in Peru for Australian wheat.
According to a reply I received on 20th April from the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a subsidy is paid to the Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha to maintain a shipping service between Australia, South America and the Caribbean. The Minister also said that the provision under the current option to the agreement between the Commonwealth and this Japanese shipping company is lor a series of 8 voyages, the last of which is expected to be completed about the middle of this year. Apparently the amount of the subsidy is determined by the losses sustained by the company for each voyage but it does not exceed a maximum of $12,500 a voyage. If the maximum of $12,300 a voyage is paid to the Japanese shipping company for each voyage it will. mean a subsidy per annum by the Department of Shipping and Transport to this company of $ 1 00,000.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had dealt with the matter of advertising by the Department of Trade and Industry. J had also raised the question of the subsidisation of a Japanese shipping company by the Australian Government, under the heading of the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, for trading operations between Australia, South American countries and the Caribbean. I had mentioned the answer that was given to me last month by the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He said that a subsidy is paid to a Japanese shipping company to maintain a shipping service between Australia, South America and the Caribbean; that there is provision under the current option to the agreement between the Commonwealth and Kawasaki
Kisen Kaisha for a series of 8 voyages, the last of which is expected to be completed about the middle of this year; and that the amount of subsidy is determined by the loss sustained by the company for each voyage but shall not exceed a maximum of $12,500 a voyage. As I said prior to the suspension of the sitting, it seems to me that there is tremendous potential for the marketing of Australian produce, particularly primary products, in a number of Latin American countries. It seems to me that it is a pity that Australia has. to rely on a Japanese shipping company, subsidised in its operation by the Australian Government, to carry products to and from South America, lt could well be a substantial subsidy amounting to $100,000 a year for a mere 8 voyages.
I would like to know from the Minister whether the Department has given any consideration to the construction of a ship by the Australian Government for this run, because it already is an important run and because the potential for trade in Latin America, as I see it, is quite enormous. I should like to know, if this course of action has been considered, whether any discussions have taken place between the Australian Government and the South American governments involved for the two or more governments to get together to provide a regular and permanent shipping service between the 2 continents. The matter is important, especially in view of the political developments that are taking place in Latin America today. I cannot see any justification for the Australian Government having to rely on a Japanese shipping company, subsidised by the Australian Government, to maintain trade between Australia and the Latin American world. I believe the matter is of great importance. I ask the Minister to provide answers to the questions that I have asked.
– Senator Douglas McClelland directed his remarks to 2 subjects. The first was in relation to the appropriation for export promotion by the Department of Trade and Industry, which contains no request for an additional sum. The second was in relation to publicity by the Department of Trade and Industry. Again there was no request for an increased sum. He made various comments on what came out of a report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts which stated that this Department used 2 advertising agencies, that they were appointed by the Executive Council and that the basis of appointment should be reviewed. That report was presented to Parliament on 17th September 1969. The honourable senator said that the Committee did not comment on whether the agencies were Australian owned or partially Australian owned. On the information that was available to me then and on the information that is currently available to me now, unless my advisers from the Department of Trade and Industry have some further information, this report was and is still under review and that any action, when taken, would be advised to the Treasury. As at the time of reporting and at the moment there was and is still no Treasury minute dealing with the matter that has as yet been tabled. I am unable to take the matter any further at the moment, without referring it back to the Department of Trade and Industry, unless some information has been provided since the suspension of the sitting. That is substantially the situation at present. In deference to the honourable senator, I thought it would be proper for me in that instance to seek for him and the Senate some further information about this matter. I think that is all I could really be asked to do.
The honourable senator also raised an interesting point about the possibility of increased trade between Australia and South America. His interest in this has been stimulated by his recent visit to that part of the world. For a period the minds of certain people in the Department have been occupied with our prospects of increased trade. He asked his question in relation to the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport. I take it that the Department of Trade and Industry would have an interest in the matter. It is not easy to find a line item in either appropriation to cover the subject. Nonetheless, I think I will direct the inquiry to the Department of Trade and Industry. I shall ask that Department whether it believes that the Trade opportunities are such that they could be stimulated and, if so, what action will be taken with the department of Shipping and Transport towards providing a more direct Australian-owned service. That is the general pattern of the informa tion that Senator Douglas McClelland sought. I would be very happy to cooperate with him in trying to get more information from both departments. I am sure that he will appreciate that a Minister representing another Minister would not be in a position to give a definite statement or to commit the other Minister on this matter, but the matter is one of interest.
– I want to deal with 4 items that relate to Division 490 - Commonwealth Railways - Administrative expenses. I. refer to the additional estimates for the TransAustralian Railway, the Central Australia Railway, the North Australia Railway and the Seat of Government Railway. 1 notice that the appropriation for, administrative expenses in the Budget was .$1,143,000. A supplementary appropriation pf $295,000 is sought. This seems to me to be quite a lot of money for a supplementary appropriation. lt is about 27 per cent of the amount appropriated in the Budget. That part of the explanatory notes, which deals with the Commonwealth Railways states:
Provision has been made for costs iri connection with extensive repairs to locomotive GM3 which was damaged in a collision at- Reid on 23rd April 1970. >
The Trans-Australian Railway’s’- proportion of the cost of the repairs required and the incorporation of some other matters into the unit during re-building was $104,000. In relation to the Central Australia Railway, the additional cost is about $13,000. I ask: What is the cost of a new locomotive? If the locomotive was damaged to such an extent that it required this amount of repair work to be done before it could be put back into service, was it worth repairing or should we have taken the short cut, cut our losses and bought a new locomotive that would have served the people, instead of spending this money on repairing a locomotive that probably is not worth repairing anyhow?
We find that $120,000 is . required for delayed debits in respect of dining car operations, laundry services, car cleaning, etc., performed by the Western Australian Government Railways which the Commonwealth Railways is required to bear a proportion of the cost. These have now been received and provision for this item and similar increased debits for trie, remainder of the year have been made, resulting in additional expenditure to the extent of approximately $120,000. Over what period have these debits from the Western Australian Government been incurred? How do the Commonwealth Railways accumulate a debit of $120,000 for services such as cleaning cars, laundry services and dining car operations? Is the Commonwealth Railways not self-contained in its dining car operations between Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie, or do we subsidise the Western Australian section of it between Kalgoorlie and Perth? What is all this about? lt seems to me that the explanations which have been given are not satisfactory. Do we have a reckoning with the Western Australian Government every year or do these expenses run on for years?
I refer next to the proposed appropriation of $89,000 for administrative expenses for the Central Australia Railway. In respect of this item the explanatory note states:
A proportion of the cost of repairs to locomotive GM3 being undertaken by the Clyde Engineering Company is chargeable to this Railway and additional provision has accordingly been made.
We find from the explanatory notes that $104,000 is chargeable to the TransAustralian Railway, but we do not know how much of the $89,000 chargeable to the central Australia railway is a contribution to the repair of locomotive GM3. Is the locomotive worth repairing? What would be the cost of a new one? Does the Department have any provisional appropriation in the Budget to take care of repairs and maintenance, or does it just continue willy-nilly and trust to luck that no repairs or maintenance will be required? What is the position? Whatever the balance of the $89,000, the explanatory note states:
Increased expenditure has been incurred in payments made to goods and livestock transfer contractors due to additional tonnages handled and increased wage payments to their employees as a result of the national wage case decision.
I have not dealt with wages unless I have seen something outstanding about them.
I refer next to the supplemenatary appropriation of $35,000 for administrative expenses for the North Australia Railway. This represents a 15 per cent increase in the appropriation. The explanatory note says that the reason for the increased provision under this vote is the extension of charter aircraft co-ordinated services now operative in the Northern Territory. What does this mean? Is the Department trying to run railways through the Northern Territory to co-ordinate with air transport, or is this item related in some way to the tourist industry? For what purpose is this co-ordination done? Is there any attempt throughout the various Commonwealth transport operations to co-ordinate the various types of transport? It would be ideal if we could accomplish this objective. If the co-ordination is in connection with aircraft tours, what proportion, if any, of the additional expenditure required to achieve the co-ordination is borne by the Australian Tourist Commission, or is the whole expense incurred attributable to the North Australia Railway?
The other railway is the Seat of Government Railway for which there is an additional appropriation of $13,000 for administrative expenses. It seems -to me that this . is mixed up with some increase in traffic rates applied by the New South Wales Government Railway because the explana- , tory note states:
The rate per mile charged ‘by the New South Wales Government Railway has also increased from 334.9c to 353.Sc operative from December 1970 and provision has accordingly been made for this greater expenditure.
In December 1970 I asked questions about some of the additional charges and I was told that these expenses could not be taken into account in the general appropriation dealt with in the Budget because the estimates of the various departments had to be in the hands of Cabinet during May to enable the whole Budget to be put together during the winter recess for presentation to Parliament in August. But the Department knew about the increase in freight rates by the New South Wales Government Railway in December 1970. The Department should be able to make provision for this expenditure which it knows will be incurred, but it seems to me that the Department avoids taking account of the proposed increase, relying on being able to deal with it as a supplementary appropriation.
I do not make any apologies for my examination of these estimates. This is tha first time that the Supplementary Estimates have really been examined. It is time that they were examined and time that the nation and the Parliament knew what was contained in them. The Minister said last Friday that perhaps he had supplied the Committee with too much information. I thank him for the information which has been supplied. It has been very interesting to find out what the various departments have been doing and to see their efforts to provide reasons for what they have done, although in many cases the efforts have not been satisfactory.
– Senator Cant addressed himself substantially to the activities of the TransAustralian Railway, the Central Australia Railway, the North Australia Railway and the Seat of Government Railway. Among the questions that he was anxious to have answered was one relating to the cost of repairs of the GM locomotive. The total cost of repairs is $117,000, $104,000 of which is dealt with under Division 490, subdivision 1* item 03 and $13,000 under subdivision 2, item 03. The total cost of a new locomotive could be judged by the cost of the last new locomotive purchased. The price of that locomotive was $254,100. Oh that basis it would seem that the repair was justified. The honourable senator asked whether it was worth repairing. It is a matter of comparing the $254,100, which was the full cost of the last locomotive purchased, and $117,000 which is the cost of recommissioning this one. I am informed that no agreement exists or had been existing at the time between the Commonwealth Railways system and the Western Australian Government Railways. I understand that the Commonwealth Railways system and the Western Australian Government Railways system were integrating working costs between the 2 systems. Agreement has now been reached with the Western Australian Government Railways, and this had resulted in these debits being received but equally I would imagine from that that we should have some more precision in this area in the future.
The matter of co-ordinated air charter operations is mentioned in division 490, subdivision 3, item 03. There is an arrangement to join Commonwealth Railways with an air charter company for delivery of goods in the Northern Territory. It relates to the delivery of goods and not people. I cannot tell the honourable sena- tor the name of the charter company, but I know that this arragnement has resulted in an increased volume of goods being carried in the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth Railways. The Commonwealth Railways regards the arrangement as being efficient for distributing goods, when one bears in mind that there is a gap in the rail link between Alice Springs and Darwin. That is the situation as best I understand it.
I think I have covered most of the principal points raised by Senator Cant. Commonwealth Railways are a self-contained operation. As we have ascertained, there will be increased precision in the area of charging out and receiving charges from the Western Australian Railways. I cannot answer the question as to whether there is a yearly reckoning, but it would defy me to imagine that there was not one. I was also asked whether there is a normal appropriation for repairs and maintenance in relation to the Commonwealth Railways. This item would be covered in the working expenditures. The damage caused to locomotive GM3 would be in the order of an abnormal expenditure and I doubt that an appropriation can be made on the basis that major actions of that character might or might not occur. The normal repairs and maintenance are covered in the working expenditures.
An equally important point raised by Senator Cant in general observation was that these estimates were being examined in detail for the first time and, as he very kindly observes, I have seen to it that as much information as possible has been provided. I think the examination has been interesting and quite thorough. Senator Cant asked whether any attempt had been made to co-ordinate the transport systems in Australia under the general area of Commonwealth Government control. I cannot give the honourable senator a specific answer to that question, but he will realise that the Bureau of Transport Economics has not been long set up by the Commonwealth. I think that one of its functions would be to see to it that we do have maximum efficiency and utilisation of our surface transport systems. I note his comment on the Seat of Government Railway, and about the New South Wales
Government Railways rate being increased. I imagine that here the Commonwealth Seat of Government Railway, is in effect a client of the New South Wales Government railway for service and supply and therefore would have to meet the charges that that supplier would make for providing any service. I will direct the honourable senator’s inquiries on this and other matters to the responsible Minister.
– I turn now to division 210 which deals with the Department of Customs and Excise. I refer to subdivision 1, item 01, salaries and allowances. The additional appropriation, required by the Department is $2,309,000. This represents an increase of 11 per cent on the original appropriation. The original appropriation was $20,541,000. The national wage case decision granted an increase of only 6 per cent, arid there was an increase in the salaries of Third Division officers under determination No. 355 of 1970. I ask the Minister: When was the decision in the determination given? Was it expressly stated that any increase granted in the determination, whether it was granted before, after or during the national wage case, would absorb any increases granted in the national wage case? What was the percentage increase under determination No. 355 of 1970?
The item that mainly intrigues me is set out in the explanatory notes. The explanatory notes indicate that almost $900,000 is required as the cost of filling new positions and reclassifying the existing positions. What is the state of the Department if it does not know that its activities will require such a huge amount of money for filling new positions? I do not know what percentage of the $900,000 is required for new positions but I do know that a statement was made some few months ago by the then Prime Minister that there would be a brake put on recruitment into the Public Service in order to put a check on what was said to be an inflationary spiral existing in the Australian economy. But on examining the supplementary estimates for several of these departments I have found that there is provision for recruitment. Many young people have come to my office in Perth to ask me whether I could get them into various departments of the
Commonwealth Public Service. When I contacted departments in Perth I was told that under instructions issued from Canberra they were not allowed to take on recruits. But then we find that there is provision in the supplementary estimates for this very thing.
Whatever percentage of the $900,000 is used for the purpose of filling new positions, the balance is then to be used for reclassifying existing positions. I appreciate that people receive promotions in the various sections of the Department, but this does not come within the category of reclassification. When public servants want increases in salaries, very often they cannot get them through determinations and other means of wage fixing . within the Public Service so the whole section is reclassified and everybody moves up one step. This is not an uncommon practice in the Public Service. I have no objections to it at all, but in a period of inflation when we are all asked to cut down on spending - the Commonwealth Government, I suppose, is the biggest spender in Australia - and great play is made by the then Prime Minister of $75m being saved in Commonwealth expenditure, I find it difficult to understand when looking at these estimates that under this one item almost $lm is going down the drain.
I now turn to subdivision 2, item 02, office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. The Budget appropriation for this item, plus this supplementary appropriation, will increase the expenditure this year to $103,691 more than the expenditure last year. When I made notes about this I wondered why this increased expenditure would be required up to 30th June but I am now advised that it covers increased costs over the whole year, particularly where the item refers to increased post and telegraph charges. It is interesting to look at the expenditure on paper, letterheads and envelopes. A department should make ample provision for these things in its budget estimates. Surely it would not run out of them. Have the letterheads of the Department been changed so that something new has had to be printed? What is the position? It is only a small amount of $2,050 but this does not seem to me to be the kind of thing that should be provided for in the supplementary estimates. The Department claims that printing costs have been higher than was expected. There is an additional appropriation for printing of $35,000, and the Department says also that expenditure on general stores has been higher than was estimated. The additional appropriation for that item is $22,150.
Expenditure on the purchase of office machines has been higher than was estimated and the additional expenditure is estimated at $24,100. It amazes me that these sorts of things can come from a department. If the Department wanted to justify this additional expenditure and say that printing costs have been higher because of wage increases or something of that nature, that would be all right. Let us examine it on that basis. Let the Department say, in effect: ‘The expenditure on general stores has been increased because the storemen’s wages have increased’. That would be something outside the control of the Department, but it does not seem to me that those sorts of things are outside its control. We require a little more information on these supplementary Estimates. I now wish to deal with item 11 relating to computer services. We are asked for a supplementary appropriation of $108,000. In 1969-70 we spent $54,522 and in August last we appropriated $55,000. This makes a total expenditure of $217,522. The explanatory notes are interesting. They state that provision is made under this item for the development of computer facilities for the Department - that is an admirable objective - and that at the time of preparing the original estimate a decision had not been reached by the inter-departmental committee and Cabinet on automatic data processing and on the future of the Department’s ADP project. Accordingly, provision was made in Appropriation Act (No. 1) for only those costs for which the Department was firmly committed. Early in the current year Cabinet approved the continued development of the Department’s ADP project. The additional appropriation is required for consultary assistance in the preparation of specifications and a detailed systems design. If this additional appropriation is approved we will have spent $217,522 and be no nearer to having computer services than we are now. When will we get something for our money? When will we have an expenditure by this Department which will return something to us?
I know this is a very important department which is expanding because of certain events within the community. I think it requires computer services but we should have been looking at them long before 1969-70. Perhaps we were, but I cannot find any expenditure on this item before 1969-70. I now find we are spending almost $250,000 for nought, for advice. Surely there is some integration. Other departments have computer services. Surely we can get advice from them on the type of computer services which are required, the type of machines which should be installed and where they should be installed, as well as the conditions under which they should be installed instead of having this expenditure thrown onto one department without co-ordination with other departments. This will mean the taxpayer’s money going down the drain and nothing being seen for it.
– During the suspension of the sitting for lunch I was able to obtain some additional information for Senator McClelland in relation to advertising for the Department of Trade and Industry. He referred also to the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry. Treasury has advised me that a draft reply is almost finished and is expected to go to the Committee’s secretary within the next 2 weeks. Senator Cant has offered some comments on the estimates of the Department of Customs and Excise. Division 210, indicates that there has been an increase in salaries of $760,000 for Third Division officers under Determination No. 355 of 1970. The increase was effective from 17th December 1970 and varied between 9.5 per cent and 12.76 per cent. The second item of $650,000 refers to salary increases granted to all employees of the Department as a result of the national wage case. That increase was 6 per cent effective from 14th January 1971. I take it that it did not bear any relation to the previous decision relating to Third Division officers. They were separate.
The third item deals with an additional appropriation of $899,000. In accordance with the normal estimating procedure no provision was made in the original estimates for new positions created and existing positions reclassified after 30th June 1970. It is estimated that an additional $899,000 will be required to provide for the filling of new positions created or reclassified since 1st July 1970. It is estimated that from 1st July 1970 to 30th June 1971 the number of employees will increase from 4,554 to 4,802, an increase of 248 officers.
Under division 210, subdivision 2, item 02, office requisites and equipment, the additional appropriation is required for the following reasons:
The rate of increase is 4.5 per cent. The explanation continues:
The increase here is 11.41 per cent. The explanation continues:
This is due to the need to purchase additional microfilm equipment.
Senator Cant then dealt at some length with the question of computer facilities under division 210, subdivision 2, item 11. The Government has an Automatic Data Processing Committee. Every application for a computer service in a department is examined by that Committee. Firstly the application is looked at on this basis: Does that department need a computer service of its own or should it hire the service from some other department? That is establishment principle No. 1. If it is established that it needs a computer service of its own then the basis is: Can it pay for itself? If that is established a long process takes place relating to the evaluation of the right type of equipment in order to make sure that the whole computer structure of Australia is complementary and as far as possible can be interlocked. It is then looked at on the basis of how it should best be used. This is a very expensive item of equipment to purchase. I do not know what the equipment for this department is going to cost but it will not be cheap. Next the savings are worked out and a very detailed and complicated programming structure is set up in order that the efficiency of the system will be at a maximum. That will be the reason why this project has taken time and why money is being spent. In the end it will save money. I cannot say any more than that, Senator Cant. That is the general practice as I understand it.
– I do not want to ask any more questions about the Department of. Customs and Excise. I come now to the Department of the Interior. I shall refer to division 350, subdivision 2, item 12, which relates to the fees of private surveyors, for which the additional appropriation sought by the Department is $50,500, but before I ask anything about that I invite attention to subdivision 2, item 03, in which an additional appropriation of $191,900 is sought for postage, telegrams and telephone services. Hie original appropriation in the estimates was for a sum of $2,200,000. The Department of the Interior covers a wide field of operations. It is like the Department of Works for which Senator Wright is responsible; the Department of the Interior acts on behalf of a lot of other departments. It does a lot of things for them, if we add all the additional appropriations sought by the various branches in the Department of the Interior for post office charges you will find that they come to just on half a million dollars. But it is strange that some departments seek an additional appropriation such as the one sought in division 350 - a sum of $191,900 - When other departments apparently are not going to have a breakdown in their telephone services even though postal, telephone and telegraph charges were increased in the Budget and were not allowed for in the Estimates. Some departments do not want extra appropriations in respect of this item.
Somewhere along the line there has to be some explanation for this. One department is forced to ask for an additional appropriation in respect of increased charges resulting from increases in postal department charges. In fact it was said in respect of the Department of National Development that in some cases there would be extra use of these facilities because of extra staff employed. Yet other departments are asking for nothing more for telephone charges. Turning now to item 12, it is noted that there is an increase of approximately 25 per cent in survey fees. I want to know whether tenders were called for this survey work. If so, what was the variation in tenders? If there was no variation could this be taken to mean that this is a case of collusive tendering or can it be that survey charges are standardised by the professon throughout Australia? In the explanatory notes it is stated that consultant surveyors were engaged for work on the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway survey. This project was admitted to the 1970-71 survey programme in November 1970 and associated costs are recoverable from the Commonwealth Railways. We have just dealt with the Commonwealth Railways and their additional estimates did not include an appropriation to pay the Department of the Interior the amount necessary to recover its costs. The explanatory notes also state:
Echoes of the medical profession. This is another crowd that can come along and apparently fix their own charges and rates. If you want their services you just have to pay.
Is there any means of controlling the way in which surveyors fix their fees or are they allowed to fix them as they like and the taxpayer pays accordingly? It is a happy holiday for those who can do this. A 25 per cent increase in fees is a pretty substantial increase. If tenders were not called, the Government should call them for any survey work that it requires done. If there is collusive tendering we might be able to look at it under some appropriate legislation. I do not think that the taxpayer should be required to pay any level of fees that these people might want to charge or any increases in fees that they might want to make. Their work is not unimportant. I do not run down their work in any way.
However 1 know that I cannot fix my fees. No one gives me the right to do that. I have to get 184 other people in this place to agree with me that they should be increased. Other people have to go before tribunals. Right throughout these estimates there are references to determinations made through the Public Service Board to increase the wages of public servants. They are pretty important people in the scheme of things and the scheme of democratic government. They have to go before a tribunal to get their fees fixed. The workers of Australia have to go before tribunals to get theirs fixed. Yet the surveyors will be telling us, as the doctors told us, that they will not abandon the right to fix their own fees.
I turn now to division 354, item 01. I find that there is an extra appropriation sought of $56,800 for rent on behalf of the Parliament. The original appropriation was $238,200. That was the amount appropriated under the Bill for rent of premises by the Parliament. Where does the Parliament rent premises? What premises are they and for what purpose are they used? I could conceive that with the number of Senate select committees, standing committees and committees of the House of Representatives premises have to be used in various States. As the committees travel around the country they may have to pay rent for the premises they use when they sit. But this is the only avenue I can see where the Parliament would have to pay rent. I would be obliged if the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) who in this Chamber represents the Minister tor the Interior (Mr Hunt) could tell me what the rent is for. The total expenditure on rent over the 4-year period is about $55.5m. To me this seems an extraordinary amount for the Commonwealth to pay over a period of 4 years for the rent of premises. It seems that this situation will go on ad infinitum unless there is some urging of the Commonwealth to construct Commonwealth centres in places where they are required. I know that in Western Australia the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices should have shifted into new premises on 1st January. We are not there yet. We do not know when we will move there. Appropriation is made in this Bill for rent for that purpose. But I do not know how it will work out. We are paying an extraordinary amount of money for rent on behalf of various departments.
In respect of item 06, Department of Education and Science, the appropriation for 1970-71 was $294,700. Now the Department asks for an additional $86,000 to pay for rent. Is there a new branch in the Department? Where is it extending that it requires extra rented premises to the value of $86,000 this year? This is an extraordinary amount for the Department of Education and Science to pay in rent. But the position gets better as we go along. The Department of the Interior has an appropriation of $1,053,200. Now it wants an additional appropriation of $113,100 for the year. I would like to know how this extra expenditure comes about. If it is caused by an expansion of the Department then I can understand because additional premises are required. But- 1 would have thought that the extension of the department would have been planned long before this time of year. The expansion of the Department is not something which jumps about. It may rely upon the recruitment of certain staff but generally provision is made for the extension of the Department in the Budget. This situation does not apply to Government departments which might be called business departments like Trans-Australia Airlines and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department which are expanding all the time. I refer to Government departments in which there could be some forward planning.
In item 15, Department of Primary Industry, $126,200 was appropriated in the Budget for rent. Now the Department wants almost the same amount as a supplementary appropriation. It is asking for $109,400. What has been the big expansion in the Department of Primary Industry? Are the taxpayers, through the Department, paying for premises occupied by the Australian Wool Commission? That is the only new activity which I can see taking place in the Department of Primary Industry which may require provision to be made in the supplementary appropriation. It seems to me that this is a huge amount when compared with the amount appropriated in the annual Budget. Under item 16, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, there was an appropriation of $534,000. We are now asked for an addi tional appropriation of $143,000. Item 18 refers to the Department of Shipping and Transport. The appropriation in the Budget was $227,900 and we are now asked for an extra $70,600. The Department of Trade and Industry, under item 20, appropriated $281,000 but it now asks for an additional $78,500.
The Department of the Treasury - this is an amazing situation - appropriated $4,367,800 for rent in the Budget but under item 21 it asks for an additional appropriation of $412,400. Where is the extension in the Department of the Treasury which requires this additional appropriation? Are we erecting a new taxation building somewhere? Part of the Commonwealth Taxation Office has moved into a new building in Perth. This is a huge amount of money for rent. Where are the premises and how much are we paying in rental which provides for this increased appropriation? At Budget time did hot the Department of the Treasury see that it would require additional space and that it would be expending more money? Why did it not- make provision for this amount instead of coming back to Parliament and asking for an additional $412,400? I have quite a lot of queries on the Department of the Interior. I do not want to get too far ahead of the Minister. If he would indicate at some time that he would like to answer some of the questions I shall stop and proceed later.
– Senator Cant was dealing with Division 350, subdivision 2, item 12, which deals with the fees of private surveyors. The honourable senator asks whether tenders were called for these operations and, if so, what were they? I am informed that there is a standing schedule of fees for survey work. The Department of the Interior has a list of private surveyors from which it selects the consultants considered to be the most experienced and suitable for the type of survey required. Senator Cant made a general observation under Division 350, subdivision 2, item 03 which relates to the increase in postage from 1st October. As he himself said this covers the whole field of Government activity and endeavour. In some cases the amount has been brought into the supplementary estimates and in some cases it has been absorbed.
The honourable senator then asked a series of questions relating to Division 354, rent. There are quite a number of these items. I wonder whether Senator Cant really wants to have all this information read out. There is a tremendous range of expansion. I can give the honourable senator some of this information. Division 354, item 01, Parliament, is a case in point. The extra amount of money required is $56,800. In this item provision is made for the renting of accommodation occupied by Parliament. The increased requirements arose from new and renewed leases entered into between 1st July 1970 and 5th March 1971. For 43-45 Railway Parade, Kogarah, New South Wales, the estimated amount is $1,480; 191 St George’s Terrace, Perth $9,875; Ethos House, Canberra $2,219; and Commonwealth Bank Building, Martin Place, Sydney $42,044, making a total of $55,618. Several minor leases, legal costs and outgoings account for an additional $4,000 making a total of $59,618. There is a deduction of $2,818 for savings on terminated leases. That is an illustration of the type of information available to me.
A range of questions was asked dealing with rents paid by the Department of Education and Science, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Primary Industry, the Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury. Senator Cant made the general observation that over a period of 4 years about $55m has been found by the Commonwealth for the rent of leased buildings. He asked whether an investigation should be made into the justification for building more Commonwealth centres. I suggest to Senator Cant that he and the Senate would be benefited if I arranged for the detailed information I have to be transmitted to him. It would take quite a long time to read out now. I will leave it to Senator Cant to decide. If he would like me to read it out now, I can do so because I have it here with me. Would he prefer that I have it supplied to him?
– May I suggest to the Minister that the information be incorporated in Hansard?
– I would be quite happy to take that course. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the material in Hansard.
– I wish to return to the appropriation for salaries and allowances in Division 351 - Ministers and Members of Parliament and Others. The explanatory notes provide the information that the appropriation of $15,400 is the additional sum required to provide for the increase of 6 per cent granted as a result of the 1970 national wage case. I want to alert the Minister and honourable senators that they should not expect an increase out of this appropriation. 1 turn now to the appropriation of $84,000 in Division 357 for administration of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The appropriation of $860,000 in the Estimates was $330,000 greater than expenditure on this item in 1969-70. A House of Representatives election was held in 1969-70 and a Senate election was held in 1970-71. We are not aware of any further election to be held this year yet almost $400,000 more is sought this year than we expended on this item in 1969-70 when a House of Representatives election was conducted. Surely the Department should explain why such a huge increase in the appropriation is sought. The Department was aware when its estimates were prepared for the Budget last year that a Senate election would be held during this fiscal year and the appropriation would have been calculated accordingly. During 1969-70 when a House of Representatives election was held the Department expended only $530,000 on this item. Why is it that in the fiscal year in which a Senate election is conducted over $940,000 is to be expended? Are we so much harder or expensive to elect? I think an explanation is required.
The Electoral Branch is seeking an additional $155,000 for Commonwealth elections and referenda. The provision in the Estimates was $175,000 greater than expenditure on the item for the previous year, so that, in effect, an additional $330,000 is being expended this year. A Senate election was conducted this financial year, but the item refers to elections and referenda. What referenda were held during 1970-71 that warranted an appropriation of $1.6m, the amount appropriated in the Estimates for Commonwealth elections and referenda? Now an additional amount of $155,000 is sought under the same heading. I hope that my memory is not all that bad, for I cannot recollect any referenda being held that would place an additional cost on the people, unless a referendum was held in connection with a particular industry. It seems that something crazy is going on and that there is some shifting of the Department.
In Division 358 - Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology - an additional appropriation of $632,000 is sought for salaries and allowances for new positions.
Does it relate to the engagement of extra staff, the reclassification of staff or both? The Department is seeking quite a considerable additional appropriation for the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. This is a rather expensive section of the Department. The estimates of the various Departments show that they make very heavy contributions to the Bureau of Meteorology. During the Estimates debate last year I questioned a contribution of about $4m made by the Department of Civil Aviation to the Bureau of Meteorology. I think it would be a useful exercise to go right through the Estimates and extract contributions made to the Bureau of Meteorology.
I have mentioned before that the Bureau of Meteorology issues daily weather reports for the benefit of the people of Australia. These reports and forecasts are advertised on television by private enterprise. They are said to be sponsored by a cigarette company, an oil company, a bank or a detergent company, although the Government provides the funds to pay the scientists who make the predictions. I have asked before whether the companies who advertise that they sponsor the weather reports pay anything for them. I have been told that they do not. The Bureau makes the forecasts available and the television stations sell them as advertising time to the various companies. I can find no record in the Estimates of any payment by private enterprise television stations for the weather information which they sell to their customers. I object to the expenditure of the people’s money on the Bureau of Meteorology - important as its work may be - simply so that the Bureau can supply weather forecasts to be sold by private enterprise for transmission over the air to the people. I think that the explanation given in respect of this appropriation in the explanatory notes itself requires some explanation. The explanatory note refers to the new positions approved by the Public Service Board; the 1970 national wage case; Determination No. 147 of 1970 - Retrospectivity of Observers’ salaries; Determination No. 167 of 1970 - Technical Officers (Meteorology); Determination No. 355 of 1970 - Clerical/ Administrative and related salaries; and Determination No. 376 of 1970 - Salaries of Engineers, Architects, Examiners of Patents, Research
Scientists, etc. I am not anxious to inquire into salaries; the only reason I refer to this matter is that it seems that there are many determinations there that have to be taken care of.
I draw attention in Division 358 to the extra appropriation of $200,000 in respect of postage, telegrams and telephone services. I also refer to the appropriation of $12,000 for motor vehicles - hire, maintenance and running expenses, including use of private vehicles for departmental purposes. The appropriation in the Budget was $88,000, and the additional appropriation asked for is $12,000. I have been told by various people who use these vehicles that there has been a fall-off in the use of vehicles by the various Commonwealth departments. Some of the. drivers I have spoken to have told me that there has been a fall of almost 25 per cent in their weekly income because the various departments are not using these vehicles as much as they did prior to the then Prime Minister’s statement in February; yet we find that there is an additional appropriation in this one. Department of about 14 per cent for the current year. I would like the Minister to tell me how many vehicles are hired and whence they are hired. I know that when one wants to use a Commonwealth vehicle in Western Australia one gets it from the Department of Supply, not the Department of the Interior. Has there been any fall-off in the use of vehicles by the Department of the Interior, and has there been a cutback in the overtime paid by the Department to drivers? I have been told that it is the cutback in overtime that has reduced the drivers’ weekly earnings by about 25 per cent.
In Division 360, of the total extra appropriation of $343,700 sought for salaries and allowances only $54,800 is attributable to the national wage case and Determination No. 355, which was the Third Division determination. Is the balance for reclassifications and additional positions? I would like some explanation of this. It is also noted that in two places the words ‘accelerated filling of vacant positions’ and ‘accelerated promotion’ are used. What is the purpose of the acceleration? Is the Department not involved in the economy drive against inflation? We find that for the accelerated filling of vacant positions $110,000 is appropriated, and that for the accelerated promotion of 8 film production assistants $16,000 is appropriated.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Cant made certain observations with respect to Division 3S7 and the item that deals with the administration expenses of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I think the explanatory memorandum covers this matter in its entirety. The additional appropriation of $84,000 is required to meet the expenditure associated with the following new commitments: Provision of additional assistance in regional offices for 3 months to update rolls to take into account information obtained from a habitation review, $100,000; purchase of ballot boxes and padlocks, $22,000; purchase of yellow system board, $7,000; provision of subdivision rolls of Midlands by-election, $1,200; reprint of Northern Territory rolls, $2,000; supplemental rolls for Victorian State election, $6,222; provision of subdivision rolls for Victorian State by-election, province of Melbourne West, $700; printing of maps of redistribution of electorates in Western Australia, $1,804; initial conversion of rolls to computer in Queensland and Western Australia, $66,150; and reprint of rolls for New South Wales State election, $40,000. This gives a total of $247,076, less the savings made originally of $163,076, leaving the additional sum asked for of $84,000.
I now refer to the appropriation of $155,000 for Commonwealth elections and referenda. I have been provided with the additional information that when the word referenda’ is used we are using the general descriptive heading under that classification number for expenditure to be incurred in the Department when they occur in this area. It does not necessarily follow that a referendum is held every year, but when one is held this is the accounting classification that meets the expenditure pattern. The additional provision is required to meet expenditure associated with the following new commitments: Chisholm byelection, $8,500; purchase of absent voters’ declaration envelopes, $1,825; payment of increased rates to polling officials for the
Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council election, $890. Other items for which an additional provision is sought include the payment of increased rates to polling officials for the 1970 Senate election, $145,000; increased postage charges, $22,000; and the Murray by-election, $10,000. The additional appropriation sought for these items totals $188,215. An amount of $33,215 has to be deducted for savings made earlier on other items. The additional appropriation sought under Appropriation Bill (No. 3) is, therefore, $155,000.
I turn now to the additional appropriation sought for the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. Senator Cant made the general observation that the provision of meteorological services costs a great deal of money. I agree with him. Meteorology is a very refined and precise art. There is an expanding requirement for the provision of meteorological services. Senator Cant made the observation that information which is made available to the various television stations is shown at night on a weather map that is surrounded by advertisements. The provision of meteorological services in the form of weather maps and weather information is a public service that the Commonwealth provides. The Commonwealth makes these services available to all media so that the maximum number of people will have access to these services.
Senator Cant sought information under item 01 of subdivision 1 of division 358 as to how many new positions had been approved by the Public Service Board. The answer is 67. I have some other information which may be of interest to him. An additional appropriation of $117,650 is sought for these 67 new positions. An additional provision of $210,000 is required as a result of the 1970 national wage case decision; $364,000 as a result of determination No. 147 of 1970 in relation to the retrospectivity of observers’ salaries; $88,000 as a result of determination No. 167 of 1970 in relation to Technical Officers (Meteorology); $46,000 as a result of determination No. 355 of 1970 - Clerical/Administrative and related salaries; $18,000 as the result of determination No. 376 of 1970 in relation to the salaries of engineers, architects, examiners of patents, research scientists and so on; and $38,000 in relation to advancements beyond the salary barriers by technicians, including retrospectivity. These amounts form part of the total of $882,050. The savings due to recruitment being below expectation, the staff wastage created and allowed for and restrictions on staff recruitment in February 1970 totalled $250,050. A net total of $632,000 is being sought under Appropriation Bill (No. 3) for these items.
In relation to item 05 of subdivision 2 of division 358, which refers to the extra cost of motor vehicles, I have some additional information which may also be of interest to the honourable senator. The additional provision is required to meet increased charges by the Department of Supply for hire vehicles and to provide the courier service mentioned. I do not think that anything more can be done by me at this moment to provide further information. The practice that is adopted by me in relation to the departments that I have to attend to is to ask for the Senate Hansard to be read by the officers present and for them to provide by letter information which they are not able to supply at this stage. That practice will be adopted on this occasion.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, for reasons which I will indicate later, I have come into this debate rather belatedly. Is the Committee discussing, among other things, the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation?
– As the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation are being discussed it is appropriate that I should state that I have just come in from Sydney on an aircraft which, due to the weather conditions, was delayed, but that is by the way. An instrument landing was probably made. My complaint is that the aircraft, which landed in driving, torrential rain and in a blustery wind of very great velocity, was parked possibly 100 yards or more from the air terminal building. Perhaps that was unavoidable. However, the only protection which was provided by the operator, which was in this case Trans Australia Airlines, was yellow umbrellas. The passengers were therefore required to hurry and scurry across the tarmac. Some of us, fortunately, had light slickers, but most did not. The mere protection of an umbrella on a tarmac that was possibly a quarter to three-quarters of an inch deep in water and in driving, blustery rain was insufficient. By taking a short cut into the terminal out of the rain some people had to leap over puddles of water that were possibly 2 or 3 inches deep. I am sure that most passengers got saturated with water. I raise this matter merely to ask whether better facilities could be provided. Surely something better than this can be done at the airport of the national capital. These were perhaps extreme conditions, but nevertheless they were of tremendous inconvenience to many of the passengers, particularly the ladies. Will the Minister advise me whether it is proposed to provide in the future something like the radial arms that are in operation at Essendon and other airports. I think that a repetition of this inconvenience should, if possible, be avoided in the future.
– I have noted the honourable senator’s comments. I must say that I was sorry to learn that he was inconvenienced by such a downpour. It would appear to me that there may have been a lack of umbrellas. I will check that one out.
– No, there were plenty of umbrellas, but they were virtually useless in that type of rain.
– I will check with the operators as to whether umbrellas were delivered to the aircraft fast enough.
– I have no complaint at all against the airline. It did its best.
– This problem is something which cannot be solved in an instant. There is a programme to enlarge the terminals at Canberra Airport in due course. I do not know when this will take place. I do not know what capital cost would be involved in providing special attachments which link on to an aircraft and allow passengers to walk from the aircraft to the terminal in shelter.
– I was merely asking for the type of facility which is available at Essendon Airport where there are long arterial arms going not into an aircraft but close to it
– 1 understand now what the honourable senator is driving at. His suggestion is an appropriate one. As I mentioned earlier, consideration is being given to the expansion of this terminal. I will direct that the honourable senator’s suggestion be taken into account when the planning is taking place.
– Are there any requests? There being no requests, 1 declare the divisions under the group of departments considered by Estimates Committee D passed. The Committee will now proceed to consideration of the divisions under the group of departments considered by Estimates Committee E. Are there any requests?
– Mr Temporary Chairman, what section of the Estimates do you propose to start on? Do you propose to start on division 690, which relates to the additional appropriations for the Royal Australian Air Force?
– Almost $8m has been set aside under this division for the expenses of the Royal Australian Air Force. I feel that in the explanatory notes and also in the discussion which took place in Estimates Committee E this amount could have been broken down to a greater degree so that honourable senators would have a clearer understanding of why this additional money is needed. Perhaps the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) will be able to give the Committee the rough heads of the larger amounts expended under this division as well as an explanation as to why this extra appropriation is for such a very large amount.
– I shall give a breakdown of the extra appropriation of $7.71 3m that is sought for the Permanent Air Force in relation to the item concerning pay and allowances in the nature of pay. An extra expenditure of $9. 116m has been incurred as a result of increases which have been granted to officers of the Commonwealth Public Service, including the 6 per cent increase that was granted earlier this year. An increased provision is required also for pay in lieu of long service leave and recreation leave. One cannot always be sure how many people are going to accept pay in lieu for either or both of those leave periods.
– I seek additional information from the Minister as to the total amount involved and as to whether the 3 categories are divided anywhere.
– I have a break-down of the $9. 11 6m. The flow on from the 9.5 per cent increase to Third Division officers amounted to $932,000. The 6 per cent national wage increase as from 1st January of this year amounted to $2.038m. Equal pay for women amounted to $252,000. A pay increase for chaplains amounted to $8,000. There are a number of smaller amounts such as increases for apprentices and air cadets amounting to $207,000. The male officers’ pay increase, which took place in September of last year, amounted to $ 1.041m. The pay loading increase, which was an increase of 25c a day to airmen, amounted to $1.381m. Various trade regroupings amounted to $2.337m. Finally, the flight pay increase, which was made about the middle of last year, amounted to $920,000. That gives a total of $9.1 16m.
– I seek information from the Minister as to the amount for compensation for personal injuries and damage to property. Precisely how is this divided and was the compensation for personal injury that which would normally be appropriated as ordinary compensation payments?
– This was an additional appropriation that the Department of Air sought, having in mind a particular case that arose at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Pearce. There was a bushfire accident there. Acting on the advice of its legal officers in Western Australia the Department has sought an appropriation in relation to this matter.
– Was this unofficial compensation for fear of a damages claim being made against the Department?
– It is advice that the Department has received from its legal officers following an accident to an airman who was attending a bushfire at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Pearce.
– While we are dealing with the departments that were examined by Estimates Committee E I take this opportunity to raise matters that are not exclusively germane to any of the departments embraced within the investigations of Estimates Committee E but which are germane to all departments which asked for supplementary appropriations. In the course of discussions with the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who appeared before Estimates Committee C as Minister for Works and as Minister responsible for various departments, I raised this matter. It deals with the non-appropriation of moneys in anticipation of foreseeable increases in salaries and wages as a result of determinations by arbitral bodies and tribunals, such as in the national wage case or as a result of determinations of the Public Service Board or the Public Service Arbitrator. I notice that in many of the estimates of the departments huge amounts had to be sought as supplementary appropriations because there had been no prime appropriation in anticipation of the determination of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the national wage case and in anticipation of the Public Service Arbitrator’s decisions.
When I raised this matter during the hearing of Estimates Committee C, Senator Wright explained that it was very difficult for the Government to appropriate moneys in anticipation of the decision of an arbitral or judicial tribunal because it might be imprudent or improper in that, according to the amount of the appropriations, some guide or some intimation could be given to an otherwise independent body as to the opinion of the Government or the amount likely or appropriate to be given and in respect of which financial provision should be made. The effect is that now, particularly when there is a national wage case every year or thereabouts, the Estimates are starting to lose their reality because of the enormous sums granted in supplementary appropriations in respect of salary and wage provisions. When these amounts are asked for in supplementary estimates it seems that the original prime estimate becomes totally unreal. I do not know whether there is any way round this. Although it was not the appropriate occasion, I took the opportunity to ask, through the Minister, a Treasury official, who was present at a meeting of Estimates Committee C, whether he could let me have the aggregate figures in relation to such salary and wage provisions. This has been done. Senator Wright has been kind enough to provide me with a copy of the letter addressed to him by Mr Hill, the First Assistant Secretary, Department of the Treasury. That letter was dated 29th April. I will take the liberty of reading it as it is only short. It reads:
Dear Senator Wright,
During the course of the meeting of Senate Estimates Committee C on 20 April 1971 Senator Byrne requested Treasury to supply the Committee with the total amount provided in the Additional Estimates for the item 01, Salaries and Allowances.
You will recall that at the subsequent meeting of the Committee on 22 April a note was handed to you providing this information for the Committee, but you returned it with the endorsement How much of the total budget is represented by increases ordered by Industrial awards issued after 30/6/707’.
As notified to you earlier in that note, the amount included in Document A for Salaries and Allowances is $38,328,000 - this includes all Commonwealth Departments as well as the civilian employees of the Service Departments. There is also an amount of $28,290,400 provided for pay and allowances for the Services.
From information furnished by departments for which additional salary appropriations are sought in Document A, it appears that the cost in 1970- 71 of industrial awards made after 30 June 1970 to civilian employees is $32,924,600, of which the National Wage Case accounts for $15,404,000. This does not include the Post Office because of the different basis on which funds are appropriated for Post Office purposes. However, it is understood that the cost of increased awards affecting Post Office staff is $40.7m in 1970-71. The Post Office has absorbed the bulk of this and sought only $12m in Document B.
If we aggregate the salaries and allowances for all Commonwealth departments at a round figure of S38m, plus the $28m sought in the supplementary estimates for the Services, that gives a total in round figures of $66m. If we add to that the net figure of $12m for the Post Office, that gives $78m. Obviously, when the annual Estimates are presented, and particularly when the Budget is close to stabilisation - that is, the equalisation of receipts and expenditure - it is totally unreal that that position should be presented when in fact there is a virtually known additional figure of dimensions of that character that cannot in the circumstances be adverted to. I do not know what the answer to this is. Senator Wright pointed out that it has been Treasury practice; it is Treasury tradition. I have indicated that, for reasons of prudence, perhaps the situation should not be disturbed. But perhaps there is some way in which we can inject a greater reality into the principal Estimates by in some way, knowing that there will be substantial wage and salary allocations in the succeeding financial year, providing for them in the Budget or at least adverting to them in some way in the statement of accounts. Otherwise a distorted financial picture will be presented to the nation. Nobody can say that the amount of $78m, which is a sum to which reference is not to be made but of which everybody is substantially aware, will be charged against revenue in the succeeding 12 months, and this renders a great portion of the Budget completely meaningless. I should be pleased if this matter could come within the attention of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, which in turn might present it to the Treasury for consideration as to some way in which the difficulty can be overcome, consonant with the complete independence of operation of arbitral and judicial bodies, and as to some way in which the prime Appropriation Bill might more accurately represent anticipated charges upon the national revenue in the year under review.
– 1 refer to war and service pensions and allowances which are covered by division 464. One would expect that pensions and allowances would vary from year to year in accordance with the number of persons becoming entitled to a pension, perhaps by their increasing age, and that the Appropriation Bill should provide an accurate estimate of the amount required to be paid in pensions for the ensuing 12 months. On this occasion we find, having granted an appropriation to provide for war pensions for 12 months, that we have a request for an additional $1,180,000. Of this amount $720,000 is for pensions and allowances for incapacitated ex-servicemen and their dependants, $450,000 is for pen sions and allowances for widows and other dependants of deceased ex-servicemen and $10,000 is for pensions and allowances for seamen and other civilians. Referring to the first 2 of those 3 amounts, I should like to know what proportion of the increased appropriation sought is found to be necessary to meet the increase in pensions brought about by our activities in Vietnam.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I ask you to clarify a point for me. Are we permitted to ask questions at this stage on any of the 5 subjects covered without dealing first with one particular department?
– Yes, within group E.
– Firstly, I propose to refer to the Department of Air. Without appearing to be rude I should like more details of the amount sought for compensation for personal injury and damage to property. I do not ask the Minister to produce this information now off the top of his head, but I wonder whether later this day he could bring in a statement of the details associated with the expenditure of that $30,000, showing the times, dates and names of the person or persons concerned. I respectfully submit that request to the Minister.
I refer next to a proposed appropriation of $650,000 for rental for use of Butterworth facilities which is dealt with in Division 696, item 03. Are we to gather from this item that since the Budget last year the rental of the Butterworth facilities has increased? I was,under the impression that previously Australia owned those facilities. I cannot recall seeing expenditure of this type mentioned previously.
In the Hansard report of the Estimates Committee debate on the Department of Air, which does not cover very much space, the Minister pointed out that there would be required an additional appropriation totalling $120,000 under Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and $32m under Appropriation Bill (No. 4). He said that savings were expected on other appropriations to the extent of $50m and $17.6m respectively. In the case of some other departments where explanatory notes have been available we have been able to find a paring down. For example, a few days ago there was reference before the Committee to $4,000 for laundry, but by the time we had debated it and come back into the chamber the $4,000 had disappeared. I should like the Minister to tell us what savings have been achieved by his Department as a result of economic measures taken by the Government, and in which branches savings have been effected.
Division 702 provides for an expenditure of almost $4m for the purchase, manufacture and lease of aircraft and associated initial equipment. This description is very vague. This subject was not covered by the Estimates Committee, nor is it covered in the explanatory notes to the degree that it should be covered. I should like the Minister to explain how it was proposed to spend this amount and how much, if any, is involved with the Fill.
– Replying first to Senator Cavanagh, I do not have the information available to me here. I will have to obtain that information and supply it to him at a later date. Senator Keeffe referred to compensation for personal injury and damage to property, which is dealt with in item 08 of Division 694. This arises from a court action which is pending. I have endeavoured to give as much information as possible at this stage without going into details, and I am afraid that at this stage I cannot give any further information. We have been advised by our legal advisers that a case is coming up and we have to provide for it. That is as far as I can take this matter.
The honourable senator sought information with respect to division 702, which relates to the purchase, manufacture and lease of aircraft and associated initial equipment. I mention first that we have lease charges for 24 Phantom aircraft and that the total cost of that project is S 16.986m. We are seeking $3.417m in the 1970-71 financial year, and because no amount was provided this involves an increased appropriation of $3.417m. The next item involves 97 Macchi aircraft in respect of which the total project cost is $70.6m. The Budget estimate was $5.354m and the new estimate is $6.873m, involving an increase of $1.5 19m. In respect of the 110 Mirages, the total project cost is S270m plus interest. The Budget estimate was $12.618m and the new estimate is
S13.01m, an increase of $.392m. For the 6 Mirage 11 IDs the total project cost is $ 11.242m. In respect of this item there was no Budget estimate, but in the Additional Estimates $700,000 is sought. For 2 replacement helicopters the total project cost is $560,000. The Budget estimate was $560,000 and no additional appropriation was sought, so this involves a decrease of $560,000 because that money has not been spent. The total project cost for a further replacement aircraft is $ 1.024m; the Budget estimate was $ 1.024m. There was no additional estimate sought, so there is no increase or decrease on that item. That is the way in which the expenditure on this project was made up.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland (4.5) - I still seek a little more information from the Minister in relation to division 694, item 08, which has now become famous. The Minister has said that he cannot discuss it because of legal implications or complications. I ask him whether he is able to indicate the names of the principals involved, the date on which the alleged happening took place and when the court hearing is likely to take place. I am sure that I am not infringing on legal grounds in any way. I think my friend Senator Wright would rule that I am not breaking any legal principles by simply asking for bare facts.
– I do not have all the facts. I will get as much information as I can and forward it to the honourable senator.
– I refer to the Repatriation Department, division 464 - war and service pensions and allowances. I wish to raise 2 matters in relation to that item. The first relates to tribunals that exist for former members of the merchant marine. One day last week Senator Webster, I think it was, asked a question of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) who represents in this chamber the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) about the sittings of the body which deals with repatriation claims of former members of the merchant marine. Recently I had occasion to take up with the Department of Repatriation the case of a widow of a British former mariner. It was some time before I was able to get some finality from the Department. I first took the matter up with the Department on 17th March 1970. I received an advice on 31st March stating that I would be advised when further information was available for me. Not having heard from the Department again for some time, I reapproached the Department in February of this year. On 4th February I was told that the evidence relating to this widow’s case had been referred for consideration by the Seamen’s War Pensions Committee. The letter I received went on in these terms.
At the present time, I am not aware of the date of the next meeting of this Committee. I would explain that the Pensions Committee is not a regular convention owing to the smalt number of claims for benefits under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act I will keep this matter under close review and will let you know the decision in this case without delay.
Subsequently I was advised by the Department that the Seamen’s War Pensions Committee in fact had sat and had determined the case, although not in favour of my constituent. The point I make to the Minister is that apparently because of the small number of cases that come before a tribunal of this nature the tribunal or the committee will not sit regularly to determine cases. It could well be that a person might wait for a determination of his case for 12 months or even longer, depending on whether or not there was sufficient work for the committee to justify a sitting. Frankly, I think that attitude on the part of such a committee is wrong. If a person has a case to put to a committee then the committee should be available to hear the case. The sittings of the Committee should not depend on whether there is a regular convention or otherwise owing to the small number of claims for benefits under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. I suggest to the Minister that he in turn take up the matter with the Minister for Repatriation to ensure that there is a regular sitting of the Seamen’s War Pensions Committee at all times so that when a person has a claim to be considered by the committee that person does not have to wait for some months for other people to lodge claims until there is sufficient work for the committee to undertake. It is a vital matter so far as many of these people are concerned. The determination in the case I mentioned was against my constituent, but she had made application as early as March 1970, yet it was another 12 months before the determination was reached. I raise that matter hoping that the Minister will refer it to the Minister in another place.
The other matter to which 1 wish to refer concerns an answer that I received from the Minister to a question that f had placed upon notice. I asked the Minister:
How many people constitute the Repatiration Boards existing in the various States?
How many representatives of the Repatiration Department are there on each of these Boards?
It appears to me that from the point of view of the applicant it is, as it were, a case of Caesar appealing to Caesar. The answer provided to me by the Minister for Repatriation indicated that there are 18 people constituting the Repatriation Boards existing in the various States. The Minister then states:
The Repatriation Board members are statutory appointees and as such are not representatives of the Repatriation Department However, each of the Chairmen of the full-time Boards in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland is an exofficer of the Department and each of the Chairmen of the three part-time Boards in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania is employed as a senior departmental officer when not engaged in Board functions.
Frankly, if the Repatriation tribunals are to be viewed as independent tribunals I do not think there is any justification at all for having someone who was formerly an officer of the Department as chairman of the Board or, in the case of the smaller States, having a present officer of the Department as chairman of the Board. In relation to this matter I would urge the Minister, having regard to the attitude that not only must justice be done but justice must also appear to be done, to have a look at the composition of these Boards. I could suggest to the Minister, and no doubt he could suggest, hundreds of qualified people who have had nothing to do with the administration of the Department of Repatriation but who could sit on these Boards. Obviously it is a vital matter to the people who come before these Boards. Therefore I raise it with the Minister now so that he will in turn draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Repatriation.
– I would like to go back to Division 696 to answer a query Senator Keeffe raised with me earlier. It relates to an additional appropriation being sought by the Department of Air for rental of facilities at Butterworth including the hospital, the radar station and other facilities. It is a new item put into the additional Estimates at the direction of the Department of the Treasury. In other words, it is our share for this financial year of the rental of facilities at Butterworth. We were not aware of the cost at the time the Budget was brought down. Two matters were raised by Senator Douglas McClelland. He will realise that he had the benefit of correspondence which was in front of him. I did not have that advantage but I will most certainly take up this matter with the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) and draw his attention to the points raised. The honourable senator asked earlier about a question on notice to the Minister for Repatriation. This appears to me to be more of a policy matter but is most definitely one that I will have to raise with the Minister to obtain some information for the honourable senator.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) (4.17>I refer to that portion of the estimates for the Department of the Army which relates to the training of personnel at other Australian Army establishments. The appropriation for that item is $190,000.
– I wonder if Senator Keeffe might wait until my advisers can collect their papers. There has to be a changeover.
– I do not know whether the Minister is safe in letting any of his officers go if we are to continue moving backwards and forwards on these things.
– You had your chance on the Committee, you know.
– I gave the Minister credit for more intelligence than to make a stupid interjection like that.
– The Minister did not make the interjection.
– Thank you. Was it from the backbench? It is typical of the gentleman concerned. I also wish to refer to that portion of the estimates for the Department of the Army which relates to the construction of homes for Army personnel and comes under the control of the Department of Housing. The appropriation for that item is $217,000. I do not know whether the Minister is aware that in the Hansard report of Estimates Committee E there is a reference to the housing situation in the suburbs in which soldiers from Lavarack Barracks in Townsville live.
I can inform the Minister that many of those houses are jerry built. I understand from an answer I received from the former Minister for the Army that to put concrete under the homes in this tropical climate would cost something like $450,000. Underneath these houses in summertime the surface is alternately a dustbowl and a quagmire. It is true, as was stated in evidence before the Committee previously, that the youngsters in these complexes invariably have to play in the street because in most instances there are no front fences to keep them in the front yard. I think the situation leaves much to be desired so I respectfully request that these very necessary improvements be carried out. I would remind the gentleman from the back bench who had a shot at me a while ago about having an opportunity to ask these questions during the sittings of the Estimates Committees that there are some 3 committees sitting at once. It is impossible for any senator to beat the meetings of all committees, and I suggest that if he has any more remarks of this nature he might keep them for the Government party room and try to organise the committee sittings in a much better way.
– I think it would be fair to say that in all 3 Services it is recognised that the standard of some of the housing provided is not all that could be desired but I remind honourable senators that these houses are provided by the State housing commissions under the terms of the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement. Where there are some of the older type houses which do not meet the requirements of the Services we are endeavouring to get the newer type which do meet our requirements to replace them. But in some areas around Army camps, Air Forces bases and, no doubt, some Navy establishments, there is a shortage of houses and rather than not have any houses at all the Services are forced to use the sub-standard houses. Every endeavour is made to improve the situation. All 3 Services have placed submissions before the Kerr Committee pointing out the lack of good standard housing. On the other hand, the Services themselves are endeavouring to bring these houses up to a higher standard by providing fly screens and so on. Honourable senators can well imagine that this takes time and costs a lot of money. I recognise the honourable senator’s complaint and I say that all 3 Services are endeavouring to overcome the problem.
– As I said earlier I desire to raise a matter in connection with Australian fisheries which comes under the control of the Department of Primary Industry and for which an additional amount of $13,000 is required. I raise this matter at this stage because I know that a Bill relating to the fishing industry and to developments in it has been introduced in another place. Whether the Bill will be debated during this sessional period is another matter, but I wish to raise one or two points that were referred to at question time this morning in answers given to me by Senator DrakeBrockman, the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. First of all, the Minister advised me this morning of the details of the subsidy payments that are made by the United Kingdom Government to British fishermen and some details of subsidy payments that are made by the Japanese Government to Japanese fishermen. Indeed, so far as the United Kingdom Government is concerned, it would appear to me that subsidy is substantial. Whilst the details relating to the Japanese subsidy are not set out, nonetheless the Minister has said that the financial assistance given by the Japanese Government to its fishing industry is complex and comprehensive.
He has referred me for more information on these schemes to a report recently released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on financial support to the fishing industry by member countries. The Minister went on to say that direct subsidies are not paid to fishermen in Australia. He said that the Government has preferred to assist the industry by making funds available for exploratory survey and research projects, and by providing an extension service for the benefit of the different sectors of the industry. The ship building subsidy is designed to assist the Australian ship building industry but it is limited to boats of 200 gross tons and over. In only one instance - this point should be emphasised - has the Australian fishing industry been able to take advantage of such assistance.
I raise these matters because they are of importance to Australian fishermen. A great number of people in New South Wales, the State I represent, rely completely on the successful operation of the Australian fishing industry for their livelihood. Indeed, whole local communities are economically completely denendent on the success of the fishing industry in Australia for the economic survival of the township, village or coastal area concerned.
I emphasise what the Minister already told me about subsidies paid by the United Kingdom Government to British fishermen and by the Japanese Government to Japanese fishermen, compared with the paucity of assistance given by the Australian Government to Australian fishermen. We must bear in mind an answer given to me on 9th March this year by the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry in reply to a question asking from which countries and in what amounts Australia had imported fish in each of the last 5 years.
– Order! I think the honourable senator is getting a little away from the subject. We have before us the additional estimates. I do not want to stifle discussion but I think you might be getting beyond what might reasonably be regarded as a probe for information about these estimates. You are putting forth argument which I think might well be almost a second reading speech.
– I ask you to bear with me for 5 minutes or so. I understand I have 15 minutes. Senator Webster, who is interjecting, may have a go then if he wishes. In the last financial year, 1969-70, over $33m worth of fish and fish preparations was imported into this country. When you realise that the United Kingdom Government is subsidising its fishermen and that we are importing from that country some $6.5m worth of fish each year, that we are also importing each year from Japan some S9m worth of fish, you can see how difficult it is for the Australian fishermen.
– Order! I do not want to stifle debate, as I said, but I cannot see how imports of fish from overseas have anything to do with the Department of Primary Industry.
I refer to division 410, subdivision 2, item 04, Australian fisheries.
– Yes, but would not the subject of the importation of fish come under the Department of Trade and Industry or the Department of Customs? I think that this-
Excuse my ignorance as a member of this Parliament but whenever I have asked questions-
Order! I want to be fair about this. This does not come within the scope of the administration of the Department of Primary Industry.
Might 1 ask the Minister whether the question of fisheries comes within the scope of the Minister for Primary Industry?
– But you are referring to the importation of fish into Australia. That is on a different basis from what these estimates cover this afternoon. Put the question to the Minister.
– The honourable senator started his representations to me by referring to 2 fishing Bills that were before the other place. These 2 Bills will be coming before the Senate later on. They provide for an improvement in the management of the fishing industry. They also provide for a situation whereby the States and the Commonwealth will get much closer together in the management of the fishing industry. They do not provide for a subsidy or subsidies in regard to boat building. 1 did give to the honourable senator this morning answers to 3 questions on this matter of fishing which were provided by the Minister for Primary Industry. However, there is no reference to this matter in the additional estimates.
That is exactly the point I was getting at.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMr Chairman, with very great respect, I had not completed the point I was about to make. In my original statement I referred to answers that the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry had given to me today. I had pointed out that subsidies were given by other governments and that Australia imported $33m worth of fish. I was about to point out that a Fishing Industry Research Committee has been established and that, as I understand it, next year it will be providing funds for investigation into problems in the fishing industry.
The answer given to me this morning seems to me to indicate that the beneficiaries of the establishment of this Fishing Industry Research Committee will be government departments, either Commonwealth or State. For instance, I notice that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is to be given a grant for research into the prawn fishery in northern Australia waters. The Victorian Fisheries and Wildlife Division is mentioned. The New South Wales State Fisheries, under the Chief Secretary’s Department, is to receive a grant for research and oyster cultivation, and grants are to go to the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry for the Australian Fisheries Council. There is a whole host of governmental activities. The applications placed before the Fishing Industry Research Committee which were not recommended included a large number that could if accepted, well be of very great beneficial effect to the fishing industry along the coast and to the economic dependency of a lot of these coastal towns. For instance there is one application here - I just pick it out at random - from the Oxley Regional Development Committee on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. That body made application for funds to make a survey of the sport fishing potential of the Oxley region of New South Wales. Another application was put in by the Ulladulla Fishermen’s Cooperative relating to a survey of the potential commercial fishing possibilities in the Ulladulla area.
What I am suggesting is that activities of this sort should be seriously considered by the Department of Primary Industry in view of the dependence of these small areas on the fishing industry for their economic livelihood. Indeed, if the potential of the south coast of New South Wales can be ascertained to be much more than it is at present, then I believe the Department of Primary Industry would be contributing very much more to the activities of the fishing industry than by merely giving grants to Commonwealth or State Government departments.
– I rise to ask a brief question. Months ago it was reported in the Tasmanian Press, following adverse comments from fishermen, that the effluent tipped into the sea from the acid plant at Burnie was to be investigated by, I think, officials of the Department of Fisheries. A considerable quantity of effluent is discharged there. I would like to know whether that report was correct. Has an investigation been made and, if so, what is the effect of this effluent on marine life in Bass Strait?
– I want to ask one more question about the Department of the Army. I refer to division 664, item 15, pensions to former servicemen in special circumstances, $1,400. I notice that the item is in the plural. I would like to know who these people are and for what reasons the pensions were granted. One normally assumes that if they are for war caused disabilities they would come under the Department of Repatriation.
– I have noted Senator Douglas McClelland’s remarks and will bring them to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). I suggest that Senator Douglas McClelland may mention them again when the Senate is dealing with the fishing Bills. Perhaps I can give him more information at that time.
Senator Keeffe drew my attention to the playing areas at Townsville. The information I have is that the Townsville City Council undertook to provide playing areas but the present indications are that because of shortage of funds available to the Council it will probably have difficulty in meeting its undertaking for some considerable time. However I understand that the question is currently being examined by the Department of Defence to see what action can be taken to improve the environment, particularly in relation to the playing areas at Townsville.
Senator Keeffe also referred to the Department of the Army, Division 664, item 13, Training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments, $190,000. The information I have is that additional funds are required to meet the rescheduling of accounts to be received from the United Kingdom and United States government authorities. Accounts for these services are rendered at irregular intervals and it is not always possible to obtain proper information at the time the Budget is prepared. That is why this amount is set out in Appropriation Bill (No. 3). In regard to Senator Lillico’s question, I do not have any information at the present time. I shall endeavour to obtain some for him.
– What about Division 664, item 15, Pensions to former servicemen in special circumstances?
– That information is being supplied. While another honourable senator is speaking to an item I shall obtain that information for the honourable senator.
– I support the contentions which were made by my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland a few moments ago. I speak on Division 410. - Administrative. I regret to note that under that heading an application from Mr R. K. Bryson of Townsville, Queensland, in relation to tropical oyster culture has been apparently rejected. Mr Chairman, I know that you would be aware that supplies of oysters in the tropics are almost impossible to obtain. Very little encouragement has been given at any time to people who set up oyster beds or oyster farms. While tropical waters have proven quite suitable for growing a high quality oyster there are all sorts of initial problems. Mr Bryson is probably one of the most experienced people in the fishing industry in north Queensland. I wonder whether the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) could give me some information about this matter?
– I am unable to give Senator Keeffe any information at the present time in relation to Division 410. - Administrative, Department of Primary Industry. I shall obtain that information for the honourable senator and let him have it. The honourable senator also referred to the Department of the Army, Division 664, item 15. Pensions to former servicemen in special circumstances, $1,400. The information I have is that that amount is to cover an additional act of grace payment approved after the Budget was prepared. Under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund it is not possible legally to pay a pension in some cases. Where this occurs and where the case would otherwise have merited a pension from the DFRB Fund acts of grace payments are approved. Did the honourable senator understand that explanation?
– It is still not quite clear. In the Appropriation Bill (No. 3), under item 15, the amount is provided for former servicemen, in the plural. I think we ought to be consistent in these matters. I am not quarrelling about this. It is an act of grace payment for someone who has probably done a tremendous amount of good. But does this amount come out of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, the Army canteen fund or the welfare fund? Where does it come from?
– Under Division 664, item 15. Pensions to former servicemen in special circumstances, there was an original appropriation of $7,440. At the time of the Budget there were several cases involved. The application for the additional appropriation of $1,400 is for one particular case. The money comes out of the Army appropriation.
– I indicated that I had one or two questions to ask on the Repatriation Department under Division 460, subdivision 2, item 07, Fares and expenses of war pensioners under review, an additional appropriation of $15,600 is sought. In the same subdivision under item 06 an additional appropriation of $3,000 is requested for payment for services of registrars, police and officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I do not recall that item 06 is normally set out in the Estimates associated with the Budget. I would like to have some details on both those items. Under Division 464, War and Service Pensions and Allowances, item 01, Pensions and allowances for incapacitated exservicemen and their dependants the additional appropriation is $720,000. Is this additional appropriation caused by the increases in pensions? Is it instituted to cover something associated with the recent increases in pensions which was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) a few weeks ago or is it to cover additional pensions?
– Senator Keeffe referred to Division 460, subdivision 2, item 06, Payment for services of Registrars, Police and officers of Postmaster-General’s Department. I understand that these payments have always been in the Estimates. Again, Division 460, subdivision 2, item 07, Fares and expenses of war pensioners under review, has always been in the Estimates. In Division 464, item 01, Pensions and allowances for incapacitated ex-servicemen and their dependants, Senator Keeffe asked how much of the amount of $720,000 was brought about by amending legislation. The figure is $320,000.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1970-71 amounting to$32.7m on various items relating to capital works and services, payments to or for the States and certain other services. The Schedule to this Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘particulars of proposed provision for certain additional expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1971’ which was referred on 7th April for examination by the Senate Estimates Committees. Although additional appropriations of $25. 6m are sought for capital works and services it is expected that, because of savings of about $17.3m in other similar appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1970-71, the cash requirement over the Budget estimate for capital works and services will be about $8.3m. As I explained in relation to the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) it is not possible to utilise savings under an appropriation to offset additional expenditure in another. Unexpended appropriations, of course, lapse at 30th June. Although an additional $25.6m is being sought, it is clear that this will not mean an additional cash outgoing of that magnitude.
The major requirements are $0.6m for buildings, works, plant and equipment at overseas establishments; $1.3m for acquisition of sites and buildings; $1.0m for loans for housing including loans to co-operative building societies in the Australian Capital Territory; $0.4m for loans to church organisations for erection of residential accommodation in the Northern Territory; $0.6m for an advance to the Northern Territory Port Authority; $lm for war service homes; $12m for payment to the Post Office Trust Account; $7.8m for buildings and works; and SO. 6m for plant and equipment. Additional appropriations of$7.1m are sought for payments to or for the States, the main requirements being $2.4m additional for drought assistance to Queensland and$3m for flood relief in New South Wales. It is expected that there will be savings of about$0.3m in other similar appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1970-71. As I have said, this Bill seeks additional appropriations of $32.7m. However, because of savings of up to $17. 6m in expenditure under other appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1970-71, it is expected that the total expenditure will exceed the amount appropriated in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1970- 71 by about $15. lm. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– On 11th June 1970 the Senate resolved to adopt a procedure to deal with the estimates committees. It resolved in paragraph 14 of the resolution that the reports of the committees shall be received by the Senate without debate and their consideration deferred until consideration of the Appropriation Bills. I think that what has taken place since that date is consistent with the resolution so that we ought to be considering the reports of the committees. I do not wish to undertake a consideration in any depth but I would like it made clear by the Ministers that the Senate is in effect accepting the reports of the committees. I am referring in particular to comments that may have been made in the reports. For example, some attention was paid to the shortage of parliamentary counsel and such matters. If my assumption is incorrect, it would be necessary for us to have a substantive motion at some stage, because the reports were to be considered in connection with the Appropriation Bills.
– In stating my view I reflect only my own position, but I imagine that I am stating also the position of other Ministers and senators. My view is that the observations made in the deliberations of the estimates committees or the Committee of the Whole are listened to by the advisers and noted by the appropriate Minister. They are sent by him to the relevant department with the request that they be noted when the department is conducting its affairs in the normal process of administration. That practice will have its effect in due course in governmental decisions and programmes for expenditure. I imagine that to be a fact of life and I doubt very much that anything more than that is necessary. At least in my own experience no more is necessary.
– I think that that would probably be sufficient. I did not want to leave these matters in any doubt. If a committee has stated something in particular I would not want the inference drawn that we are agreeing with the recommendation or disagreeing. I would not think it would be expected that the matter would be raised in the Senate and that somehow there would be disagreement. The point concerning parliamentary counsel is of general importance to us all. If the understanding were not as the Minister has stated it I would want to move a motion that we adopt the recommendations of the committees because we would not want it understood that they are merely the views of the committees and not the views of the Committee of the Whole.
– I take the honourable senator’s point. I believe that to be the situation. On behalf of the departments for which I am responsible and on behalf of my colleagues I express a similar sentiment. We will be taking up matters which are directly related to our own portfolios and we will be seeing that the departments we represent are made aware of the Senate’s view.
– As the reports of the estimates committees are under discussion I wish to speak briefly on behalf of Estimates Committee D of which I am Chairman. The members of the Committee did not want the request I am about to make to be included in the report in case it was mis understood. They asked me to raise it at the appropriate time in the Senate. The request relates to the Hansard report of the committees. We are spoilt these days and greatly aided by the fact that the Hansard report of today’s Senate proceedings is available to us tomorrow. We all know that Parliament has not provided the Hansard staff with the facilities, in any shape or form, to provide the same service to the newly constituted Estimates committees. The result is that 5 days or more elapse before the report is available. When we have 2 committees meeting at a time and honourable senators are busy on other work and on other committees, they do not know what has actually taken place the day before or a couple of days before because no Hansard report is available. This is no form of criticism of anyone. It is just a request that, if we are to continue with the Estimates committees, the powers that be in this Parliament and the Government give some attention to providing the Hansard staff with all the necessary facilities to enable it to give us a daily Hansard, if possible the day after the meeting of the committees.
– In similar circumstances to those referred to by Senator Marriott, in discussing our report in Estimates Committee C reference was made - this was not to be included in our report - to the rather lengthy time that elapsed before members had access to the Hansard report of the proceedings of our Committee. In this there was absolutely no criticism of officers of the Hansard staff, who I feel have done a magnificent job under extremely heavy pressure in producing, with the expedition with which they did, both the daily Hansard and all the other literature that has arisen in connection with committee work, for they were working under difficulty in the first place. However, my Committee thought that consideration should be given wherever possible to the provision of the necessary facilities. Possibly it is in the printing department that the delays have occurred.
– That is my understanding.
– Yes. My Committee thought that consideration might be given to the provision of facilities that would enable the Hansard reports to be made available to members of the Senate more quickly than has been the case. I stress most warmly that members of Estimates Committee C, in common with those of Senator Marriott’s Committee, were high in their praise of what had been done by the Hansard staff, but thought that there were some weaknesses in the system which could well be looked at to ensure greater expedition in the presentation of the printed Hansard of committee proceedings.
– The observations of Senator Marriott and Senator Laucke have been noted. I am sure that we all would agree with them, and I do not think anyone would take exception to them. They will be taken to the appropriate place. I understand that there have been some problems of sickness in the Government Printing Office and that this has been part of the problem, although not all of the problem. The Senate can rest assured that the sentiments expressed will be taken to the appropriate quarter.
– I want to ask only one question. It refers to capital works and services under Division 925, which relates to Department of Civil Aviation expenditure in the buildings and works departmental section. I was not at the committee concerned because 1 had to attend another one that was meeting at the time. Would the Minister explain what the unusual and unexpected expenditure which had to be taken into a supplementary Budget, of $6,279,000, refers to?
– That refers to the expenditure on the Avalon airport. This was referred to in a speech in the Senate by Senator Rae, and, as it has now been raised by Senator Wilkinson, I think probably the comment that I have here will be useful to Senator Rae and the Senate and. indeed, to Senator Wilkinson as well. Senator Rae, in speaking about this matter, which was of concern to me as well, quoted from the Public Works Committee report in noting that the Committee felt that more efficient planning by the Department of Civil Aviation would have given more time for the Committee to better scrutinise the proposals, that in rushing such a project there must be some penalties in terms of higher construction costs, and that the Department appeared to be indifferent towards the requirements of the Public Works Committee.
Senator Rae went on to ask, in effect, why the Department was unable to include the $6.4m in the 1970-71 Budget presented to Parliament in September 1970 when in fact it was able to go to the Public Works Committee with the same information in September 1970. Senator Rae asked what was being done to avoid a repetition. The Boeing company decided to go ahead with the Boeing 747 development in 1966. In 1*967 it was decided that Qantas Airways Ltd should acquire the jumbo jet, and in 1968 the Department decided to extend the north/ south runway No. 5 at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to 13,000 feet. This decision was based on tentative aircraft performance data which was the best then available. The Boeing 747 first flew at the turn of the year 1968-69 and Qantas decided to buy the Boeing 747B some 5 months later. This, in turn, confirmed the runway requirement of 13,000 feet at Kingsford-Smith No. 5.
After clearing complementary developments at Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport, the Department then had the problem of determining what was needed for Boeing 747 training at Avalon in the face of certain training techniques. In fact, this information was not forthcoming until a few days before the Department appeared before the Public Works Committee. Up until that time there was an insufficient, pool of practical experience to make a firm decision where very expensive runway construction costs were involved. The Department, to some degree, had to anticipate the requirements in respect of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. It was able to act with full confidence insofar as the Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport later project was concerned, but it had to wait for additional operating experience in order to arrive at the more difficult to define training requirements by September 1970. At the same time, the airport development branch had to prepare for the Boeing 747 at Perth, Darwin, Port Moresby and, in the role of alternate airports, at Learmonth and Adelaide. In parallel with this, the airport development branch has been looking after major projects at Canberra, Sydney (Kingsford-Smith), Brisbane, Kalgoorlie, Learmonth and Lae. I have other notes here about the problems of airport planning and the difficulties of anticipation with the changing of types of aircraft, but they are not relevant. I think what I have said explains to Senators Rae and Wilkinson and to the Senate what this was all about.
– Since Senator Cotton has been dealing with a wide range of airport maintenance matters, perhaps I will be in order in referring to a recent traffic case in Sydney involving a drunken driver who drove his car out on to a tarmac at the Kingsford-Smith Airport. The Vickery Street gate was referred to. I wonder whether that gate was unattended because of a lack of staff. Can the Minister give any explanation of this matter, which is bound up with the question of airport maintenance?
– As far as I know, the gate was unattended not because it was the normal practice to leave it unattended; it just happened to be a coincidence. Some inquiries have been made by me and by other people about whether that gate might not be just closed off, in effect, so that this sort of accident will be made quite impossible by having only one gateway. This has its problems, because sometimes in a sudden emergency it might be necessary to fling gates open all around the airport to get fire tenders and ambulances in. This is part of the problem. Equally, there is the problem of how much it costs to attend them all the time. One does not normally expect some fellow to get drunk and drive on to the airport.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Air Navigation Act 1920- 1966.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944 provides for the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which was founded in 1947 and is a specialised agency of the United Nations. The permanent governing body of ICAO is the Council, which has contributed in a very important way to the development and adoption of international standards and recommended practices incorporated as annexes to the Chicago Convention which assist considerably in making air travel a safe and reliable mode of transport. The Council was originally composed of 21 contracting states elected by the Assembly of the Organisation, at which all contracting states are entitled to be present. The size of the Council was increased from 21 to 27 in 1962. Australia has been an elected member of the Council since ICAO came into being. At the 17th (Extraordinary) Session of the Assembly held at New York on the 11th and 12th March 1971, ICAO unanimously adopted a protocol amending Article 50 (a) of the Chicago Convention to increase the number of members of the Council from 27 to 30. The amendment requires ratification by 80 states out of the total membership of 120 before it comes into force. The primary purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to ratify this Protocol.
The Air Navigation Act 1920-1960 sets out in schedules the Chicago Convention which was ratified by Australia in 1947 and 2 protocols amending the Convention in minor respects. This Act was amended in 1961 and 1963 to approve the ratification of other minor amendments to the Chicago Convention, including that increasing the size of the Council from 21 to 27 members; these amendments being set out in further schedules to the principal Act. The present Bill continues the practice by inserting the new protocol as the seventh schedule to the principal Act.
The Australian delegation to the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly supported the increase in the membership of the Council for 3 major reasons. Firstly, it was the wish of the majority of member states for an increase of 3 members. Secondly, an increase of 3 could not be considered unreasonable in the light of the fact that the total membership of ICAO has grown from 84 members in 1961 to 120 members in March 1971. Thirdly, proportionate increases have been made over the years in the size of the executive bodies of other specialised agencies of the United Nations. The Australian Government welcomes the participation of an increased number of states in the work of the Council. The increase being limited to 3 new members should improve the functioning of the Council without impairing its efficiency. Membership of the ICAO Council has been of considerable value to Australia’s civil aviation interests and I feel that, as a country which has an important status in world aviation. Australia has been able to make a worthwhile contribution to the Organisation by maintaining Council membership. The addition of 3 members is expected to add little, if any, to the administrative costs of the Organisation. The costs of provision of secretarial services should bc absorbed in the normal provision of these services and there could be offsets as ICAO will be paid rentals by the new members for the use by their delegations of offices in the ICAO headquarters building.
The Bill also seeks to repeal section 6 of the Air Navigation Act 1920-1966, which was inserted in 1960 to confer legal capacity on ICAO in Australia and to confer on it the privileges and immunities necessary for the independent exercise of its powers and performance of its functions in Australian territory. The International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 was passed to specify the privileges and immunities in Australia of international organisations, including such specialised agencies of the United Nations as ICAO. The privileges and immunities of ICAO are set out in detail in the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities of Specialised Agencies) Regulations 1962 which were continued in force by that Act. Accordingly, section 6 of the Air Navigation Act no longer serves any useful purpose and the opportunity is being taken to include a clause in the Bill repealing this section. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for payment to the International Development Association of a sum not exceeding the equivalent of $US48m in connection with the third replenishment of the resources of that institution. As most honourable senators will be aware, the International Development Association, or IDA as it is commonly called, is an affiliate of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is often referred to these days as the World Bank. IDA was set up in 1960 because many less developed countries were not able, or could not afford, to borrow overseas on commercial terms. Many of these poorer countries did not have access to international capital markets because they could not establish a satisfactory credit rating. Moreover, most of them were already feeling the burden of external debt repayments and had little or no capacity to service additional overseas loans at normal rates of interest and on normal terms of repayment. IDA was established for the express purpose of providing loans on concessional terms to such countries.
IDA loans, or development credits as they are called, bear no interest and are repayable over 50 years with a 10-year period of grace. A small service charge of i of 1 per cent per annum is levied to cover administrative expenses. I would emphasise that, notwithstanding these soft terms, the projects which IDA finances are subject to the same rigorous analysis and appraisal with respect to both their economic worth and their technical feasibility as the World Bank itself applies in its own lending operations. In fact, the 2 institutions have a common staff and a common executive board. IDA now has more than 100 member countries which are divided into 2 broad groups. The more economically advanced countries are known as Part I members and the less developed countries as Part II members.
In 1960, Part I member countries, including Australia, agreed to subscribe roughly $US150m a year for 5 years to the initial capital stock of IDA. Australia’s share of this total was 2.7 per cent, involving us in annual contributions of a little over $US4m. In 1963, Part I member countries agreed to replenish IDA’s resources over the 3 years 1965-66 to 1967-68 at the rate of roughly $US250m a year. Australia’s share of this total was again 2.7 per cent, involving us in annual contributions equivalent to $US6.6m, or about two-thirds more than the rate of our subscription to IDA’s initial capital stock. A second replenishment of IDA’s resources, involving contributions of $US400m a year, was agreed for the 3 years 1968-69 to 1970-71, although it came into effect only in July 1969 due to a delay by the United States Congress in ratifying the relevant Agreement and passing the necessary legislation to authorise that country’s participation. Australia reduced its percentage share of this second replenishment to 2 per cent, involving us in contributions of $US8m a year.
All of these resources - which have been supplemented by interest earned on investments, some additional voluntary contributions by a few Part I countries and transfers amounting to $US485m which the World Bank’ has made to IDA out of its annual profits since 1963-64 - are expected to be. fully committed by the end of June this year for lending to less-developed countries. The need for a third replenishment, of IDA’s resources is therefore urgent if IDA is to be able to continue its lending activities. After lengthy negotiations, Part I member countries reached agreement in June 1970 that, subject to parliamentary approval in their respective countries, IDA’s resources should be replenished at the rate of $US800m a year over the 3 years commencing 1971-72. This represents a 100 per cent increase on the rate of contribution under the second replenishment exercise. Some special additional contributions will in fact raise the level of replenishment over this period to about $US813m a year.
Agreement to replenish IDA’s resources at this rate was reached only after some modification to the percentage contributions of certain Part I countries. France and South Africa reduced their percentage shares, while Finland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden increased theirs. Switzerland, which is not a member of IDA, but which participated in the second replenishment exercise, has agreed to contribute to the third replenishment on the basis of an increased percentage share. In addition, 3 Part II member countries, namely, Ireland, Spain and Yugoslavia, will be participating for the first time in a general replenishment exercise.
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a table entitled ‘Contributions to IDA by Part 1 members’, which compares the prospective contributions to IDA by Part I member countries and Switzerland over the next 3 years with the contributions they have already made.
Honourable senators will observe from the table that, in this third replenishment, Australia’s share will be maintained at 2 per cent. This will mean a doubling of our present rate of contribution to $US16m a year over the next 3 years. In deciding that Australia’s share of this replenishment should be maintained at 2 per cent, the Government had a number of considerations in mind. First and foremost IDA, like the World Bank, is an efficient institution. We know from practical experience that it can tackle complex development problems in a technically proficient way, country by country. It is by far the largest agency lending on concessional terms in the world today. In its first 10 years, for example, IDA extended 221 credits totalling nearly$US2.8 billion to 55 countries. In 1969-70 alone, 56 new credits totalling more than $US605m were approved. The Government is conscious of the fact that there is now something of a swing back in world opinion in favour of multilateral aid, particularly through the international development finance institutions like IDA.
Needless to say, the developing countries, as a whole, attach great importance to a generous and early replenishment of IDA’s resources. We are also mindful that IDA has been, and will continue to be, of particular benefit to the developing countries in our own part of the world. In the past, about three-quarters of all IDA lending has gone to countries in the Asian region. Last financial year, India alone received nearly $US230m from IDA, while Indonesia and Pakistan each received about $US80m.
Finally, there is the prospect that Papua New Guinea will benefit from this replenishment of IDA’s resources. To date, Papua New Guinea has received credits and loans totalling more than $US22m from IDA and the World Bank. Another loan of $US23m is expected to be approved shortly. Further proposals to borrow from these 2 institutions on the Territory’s behalf are under consideration at the present time.
During the discussions on the level of the third replenishment, agreement was also reached on a proposal to adjust the relative voting rights of individual Part 1 countries so as to reflect more accurately the total amounts which each such country had, or will have, contributed to IDA since its inception. By way of background, I might explain that voting rights are based on subscriptions to IDA. I would emphasise this word ‘subscriptions’. By general consensus at the times, it had previously been decided that the additional resources put at IDA’s disposal under the first and second replenishment exercises should not affect voting rights and for this reason the commitments then entered into took the form of contributions and not additional subscriptions. In response to pressures from certain countries which felt they were disadvantaged by this arrangement - that is, those which had increased their percentage shares or made supplementary voluntary contributions to IDA since it was first established - it has now been decided to redress this situation. This will be done by permitting Part I countries to make additional subscriptions, which will carry voting rights, to IDA as well as contributions under the third replenishment exercise, the relative proportions between the 2 varying in each instance so as to produce the overall voting adjustments desired.
As a consequence of the fact that Australia reduced its percentage share under the second replenishment exercise to 2 per cent, and now proposes to maintain that figure, our relative voting strength is to be reduced slightly. Complex calculations undertaken by the staff of the Association indicated that, of the total amount of $US48m which Australia is expected to make available to IDA over the next 3 years, SUS583.440 should take the form of an additional subscription with voting rights. The balance will take the form of an additional contribution as in the case of the 2 previous replenishment exercises. This distinction is provided for in the Bill.
The agreement governing the third replenishment exercise is subject to the explicit condition that it must be ratified by at least 12 Part I member countries whose prospective subscriptions and contributions aggregate not less than SUS1.9 billion. Because of the size of the pledge to be made by the United States, this means that the agreement cannot enter into effect unless and until it is ratified by that country. It is hoped that all of the formalities to this end will be completed by 30th June 1971 so that IDA will have appropriate authority to enter into new lending commitments from the start of the next financial year.
I should also like to explain to the Senate that our annual contributions to IDA are paid in the form of promissory notes which are cashed as and when funds are required by IDA. Actual cash payments reflect the pattern of disbursements by IDA and these usually lag well behind the commitments entered into when projects are approved. For example, . cumulative cash payments to IDA by Australia as at the end of the current’ financial year are expected to amount to about $A36m, compared with total pledges of more than $A57m by Australia since IDA’s inception in 1960. I have a detailed break-up of these figures before me and, as they may be of some interest to honourable senators, with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate them in Hansard.
The significance of this point is that while Australia will be called upon to pay the first instalment of$US16m on its contribution to the third replenishment exercise in November next, the impact upon the Budget for 1971-72 of actual payments to IDA will be very much less than that.
This Bill provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate once again our support for IDA as an effective and efficient development finance institution, and our willingness to help, through IDA, the less developed countries to achieve faster rates of economic growth and thereby improve their standards of living in future. I need not emphasise the importance to be attached to this broad objective. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Bill receivedfrom the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– There are 3 matters that I want to raise on the first reading of this Bill. Two relate to the Public Service Act. The third relates to the Commonwealth Public Service superannuation scheme. I will speak firstly about the superannuation scheme and I will deal with the Act in 2 sections after that. On 16th February I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer this question:
As the last review of superannuation paid to retired Commonwealth officers was in 1967, when will the next adjustments be made to combat the substantial loss of purchasing power which has occurred over the last 4 years.
I reiterate that this question was asked on 16th February, which was a quite long time ago. I had expected to have an answer by now, even if the answer was only to say that the Government had no intention in the near future of examining the situation. Of course it would give me much more pleasure if the reply were that the Government was about to review the situation on this, that or some other date. Mr Whitlam asked this question in another place and in a different matter. He asked what representations the Treasurer had had and what was the nature of those representations. The Treasurer declined to answer because, he said, it was not his way to make public these representations to him, that he thought it put an undue burden on the Department to collect this information and that, therefore, no information would be forthcoming.
The situation is that in schemes of superannuation right throughout the world, but certainly in Australia, we are brought up against this question of inflation. What is the purpose of a superannuation scheme? It is to give individuals an opportunity to contribute during their working lives to a scheme which will ensure that their standard of living does not drop too much after they retire. In the days before galloping inflation this did not present a very great problem in its administration, but today it does. Obviously, unless this situation is taken care of in one way or another there are several ways in which it can be done it will be quite useless to belong to a superannuation scheme. Under various superannuation schemes for private employees a growth rate is written in from the day on which a person retires. I understand that generally this works out at about 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent. In these schemes an examination is made over a period of what ought to be and this is put into the agreement when the employee comes into the service of the firm.
The Commonwealth Public Service has been admitting the existence of this problem by looking at the situation after a period and saying that an individual retired when he was receiving a certain salary and that if he was still there today his salary would have increased and that therefore he would have been entitled to an additional amount.
For my part, I do not believe that this is good enough. I believe that the Commonwealth should be moving to write into the Commonwealth superannuation scheme an automatic adjustment, such as I have mentioned that some of the private schemes are adopting today, because obviously a tremendous injustice is being done, even at present. Four years have gone by before a person’s notional salary value has been adjusted and nothing has been done about it. We cannot get an indication from the Government as to when something might be done about it.
I understand that retired officers of the Commonwealth Public Service are seeking from the Government some assurance that the Government will look at the situation at regular intervals, and I think I am right in saying that the suggestion is that it should be looked at every 2 years. It is a minor sort of agreement for which they are asking. There is nothing radical about that. They are not even asking for the automatic adjustments that are written into schemes in the private sector of the economy. I should mention that I am not the only one who is raising this matter. It has been mentioned from all sides of the Parliament. But I raise the matter now and ask whether, after 2i months, I can have a reply to my question. That would be something. Secondly, I ask that this matter be taken to the Treasury and what I have said pointed out to the Treasury. I repeat that all parties represented in this Parliament have raised this matter. I ask that something be done about supplying an answer to my question and that a more urgent view be taken of this situation. These are people for whom the Commonwealth has a responsibility. Many of these people would have started working in the Public Service at about the age of 14 years and they have worked through to the age of 65 years. In their last remaining years they are entitled to be given at least some form of reward after the 50 years of service that they have given.
I now turn to 2 other matters under the Public Service Act. I refer firstly to section 48(1.) of the Public Service Act which has a side note: ‘Prior service reckoned as Commonwealth service.’ The sub-section states:
Where a person becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with -
service in a permanent capacity in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Commonwealth;
This means that if a person moves immediately into the Public Service from the Navy, Military or Air Force, where he was a permanent officer, and does so without break, all the emoluments that he has built up carry on into the Commonwealth Public Service. Unfortunately, perhaps because the provision is not capable of interpretation in any other way, this is being interpreted by the Public Service Board in a way which presents difficulty for some people. If the provision is not capable of any other interpretation then quite clearly the Act needs to be amended. I have struck this situation before, but the case to which I now refer involves 6 telegraphists in Perth who had been permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service, who resigned and went immediately into the Services. I believe that they all went into the Royal Australian Navy. Certainly 5 of them entered the Navy - there is no disputing that - and the sixth one might have done so, although there may be some disputation about that. However, that does not alter the principle about which I am arguing. The day they left the Navy they went straight back into the Post Office where they had been formerly employed and they were immediately engaged. They did not serve 1 day in any other service. They did not go to work for the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker. They immediately went back into the postal service.
It was ruled that their service was not continuous because the day that they went back into the Post Office they were put on as temporary officers. This is where the rub comes. It is quite impossible for the Department to move without the Public Service Board and to make a permanent appointment. The only possible way that a person could have continuous service under this interpretation of the Act would be if, prior to leaving the Navy, he applied for appointment with the Public Service. I do not know what sort of problems that would create if a person were already a permanent member of the Navy and the Public Service Board were trying to make him a permanent member of the Public Service. I suggest that the spirit of the Act is being abrogated. In my view a reasonable interpretation of the Act would be that service would be continuous if a person moved from one arm of the Services back into the Public Service. If he had worked in some other capacity or in private industry it would be a different matter, but this did not happen in the case to which I refer. After it had been pointed out to me that the Public Service Board could not act otherwise because of the provisions of the Act I sent this letter to the Secretary of the Public Service Board:
Thank you for your letter of 18th December (69/7013) dealing with the application of 6 telegraphists in Perth to have their military service recognised for seniority purposes. I write again to you because it seems to me that ii is a near impossibility for a person to leave the defence Services one day and obtain permanent employment in the Public Service the next
I feel that the officers did all that was within their power by presenting themselves immediately to seek permanent appointment with the Commonwealth Public Service; the fact that they were not granted permanency that day was not possible because of the exigencies of the Public Service and not by any action of the applicants.
It would be interesting to know the percentage of applicants under this category who have been able to meet the requirements of the Department in this regard.
I should think that it should have been Board’ rather than ‘Department’. The letter continued:
I appreciate that in a big service precedent does cause some problems in dealing with such cases as these. However in this case I believe a start should be made somewhere to overcome what appears to me without other evidence to be an almost impossible situation.
I have been requested to take the matter up on a parliamentary level but I believe that if the Chairman of the Public Service Board and his Commissioners could again review this situation the request by the telegraphists may even yet be granted.
I did not receive a reply to that letter but I feel that the Board did not reply because it found itself in an impossible situation. I think I have said enough to indicate the problem. I ask the Minister to treat this as a matter of some urgency. It is not the only immediate case I have had drawn to my attention; in organisations as big as the Commonwealth Public Service these things arise day after day. I remain to be convinced that it is possible to take a narrow interpretation of this matter and still make it work. I suggest that if it be taken in the spirit in which it is meant, people who transfer from one service to another will be regarded as permanent employees. But not a lot is attached to it. It concerns such things as seniority. It does not involve any great wage rises or anything like that. It simply means that if a person says to the Commonwealth Public Service: T am going to do 6 years in the Navy and I may come back but I do not know’, the Public Service says: ‘OK. You do that and we will cut off your seniority.’ That is a tremen dously important consideration after a person has served X years in the Public Service.
The second matter I want to raise is concerned with the Public Service Act. It indicates that the various departments do not overhaul their Acts sufficiently. It may appear to be a very minor problem but it is of very great concern to the individual. I refer to section 48a of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The marginal note to that section reads: ‘Status of Ministerial Private Secretaries.’ Section 48a reads:
An officer seconded for duty as Private Secretary to a Minister or member of the Federal Executive Council or to the Leader of the Opposition in either House of the Parliament, shall, upon the termination of his employment in that capacity, be entitled to appointment to an office in the Commonwealth Service of such status and salary as are determined by the Board, having regard to the office held by the officer prior to his being seconded for such duty and to the period and nature of his employment as Private Secretary.
This sounds quite reasonable but to me it seems strange that it excludes certain other positions which a permanent member of the Commonwealth Public Service may take up in this Parliament. For instance, if a person were a secretary to the Speaker, to the President, to myself or to a deputy on the Government side, if there were such an appointment - I think at one stage there was but it has dropped out of fashion in the last 2 or 3 years - that officer would not come under the terms of this section. It is a pretty innocuous sort of measure because it could be said that this sort of thing could be done anyway. My answer to that is that it could be done anyway in spite of this provision. So I suggest that either this section be deleted altogether and power be given to the Public Service Board - I do not agree that that course should be followed - or the whole matter be amended and brought up to date. I ask the Minister to treat the first matter I raised as very urgent and the second matter as urgent, and I would like him to look at the third matter in God’s good time.
– in reply - I have noted carefully the 3 points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). The first matter concerned superannuation adjustments for public servants. Senator Willesee also requested a reply to a question, and he indicated that he has been waiting for it for a long time. I for my part will see to it that he receives a reply as soon as possible. The honourable senator would like to see something done about the matter he raised in this question, and I shall communicate his wish to the appropriate authority in the Department of the Treasury to see what we can learn, whether anything is going to be done about it and. if so, when. Senator Willesee also referred to the matter of people in the Public Service being able to bring their emoluments and entitlements forward with them so that the benefit is not lost during a period of service in one of the armed forces. I shall certainly make a definite reference on this to the appropriate person. The honourable senator also referred to the status of ministerial private secretaries and expressed his wish that the position of secretary to a Speaker at present, and to a Deputy Leader when appropriate, be taken into account. I shall attend to all of these things on behalf of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) and he will direct them to the Treasurer.
Question resolved is the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate moneys to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government during the first 5 months of the financial year 1971-72. The total amount sought in this Bill is $ 1 , 2 1 9,758,000 comprising - departmental, $706,396,000; defence services, $488,362,000; advance to the Treasurer, $25m. These amounts do not of course include the requirements for expenditure under special appropriations for which standing parliamentary authority is available under the relevant legislation.
The amounts included for salaries and payments in the nature of salary represent Treasury estimates of the payments which will be made on the 11 pays falling within the supply period. These are, of course, subject to the staff ceilings imposed by the
Public Service Board following the Government’s call for restraint, last February, in the rate of growth in Public Service employment. The amounts included for administrative expenses are fivetwelfths of the 1970-71 appropriations. Amounts included for other services are limited to commitments which departments will be required to meet in the supply period. No provision is made for new services. An amount of $25m is sought to enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
(5.43) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $313,554,000 for certain expenditures to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first 5 months of 1971-72. The total amount sought comprises: capital works and services, $280,593,000; payments to or for the States, $7,961,000; advance to the Treasurer, $25m. The amounts for capital works and services are to meet commitments for approved programmes only. It is estimated that $33.5m will be required during the supply period for advances by way of loan to the Australian Wool Commission. Advances during the current financial year are being provided by the Commonwealth, under a special appropriation provided in section 31 of the Australian Wool Commission Act 1970, and by trading banks. The provision in this Bill is estimated to be sufficient to meet the Commission’s working capital requirements in respect of commitments entered into during the 1970-71 wool selling season and not requiring payment until after 30th June 1971, and finance in respect of possible operations during the first few months of the 1971-72 wool selling season.
Provision has also been made for further advances up to $5m to the Papua New Guinea Administration for construction of the township at Arawa in connection with the Bougainville copper project. Amounts included for ‘payments to or for the States’ are based on existing arrangements for approved payments from annual appropriations. Generally, they do not exceed fivetwelfths of the 1970-71 appropriations but where the arrangement is for quarterly or half-yearly payments provision has been made accordingly. Other payments to or for the States will be made from special appropriations and the Loan Fund. An amount of $25m is sought to enable the Treasurer to make other advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will, afterwards, be submitted to Parliament.
I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to borrowings by the Commonwealth of $US29.58m ($A26.4m) from the ExportImport Bank of the United States and the Boeing Company, and $US30m ($A26.8m) from a syndicate of United States commercial banks led by the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York to assist in financing the purchase of jet aircraft and related equipment by Qantas Airways Ltd. The loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank and Boeing appears as the First Schedule to the Bill and the Second Schedule contains the agreement with the commercial banks. The Export-Import Bank Agreement has been signed by all the parties but some of the banks have yet formally to sign the other agreement. However, it is expected that this process will be completed shortly.
The proceeds of the loans will complete the finance for the purchase by Qantas of its first 4 Boeing 747 aircraft and related equipment, spares and services estimated to cost in all $US140m ($A125m). Because of the cost of these aircraft and the fact that a large proportion of the contract price was not due to be paid until this year, the borrowings of approximately $US113m ($A101m) required by Qantas for the purchase were arranged in two tranches. As honourable senators will recall, in 1968 a borrowing of $US53m from the ExportImport Bank, Boeing and a syndicate of United. States commercial banks, led on that occasion by Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, was arranged to finance pre-delivery payments on the aircraft and was approved by Parliament. The present loans will complete the finance required by Qantas. The general arrangements for the borrowings are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first instance, and the full proceeds of the loans will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 6 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
Drawings on the present loans will commence in August, when the first aircraft is due for delivery. In accordance with normal lending practice in. the United States, a commitment fee of one-half of one per cent per annum is to be paid on the undrawn amounts of both loans. The ExportImport Bank loan is to be repaid in 7 semi-annual instalments beginning 15th November 1975. The commercial bank loan is repayable in 10 semi-annual instalments beginning 30th June 1972.
Interest on the Export-Import Bank loan will be at 6 per cent. However, the lenders in this case have the right to sell the Commonwealth’s obligations in respect of amounts advanced, at prices involving additional interest costs to the Commonwealth of up to a maximum rate of 7 per cent. The Commercial bank loan bears interest at a rate which is three-quarters of one per cent above the minimum commercial lending rate charged by Chase Manhattan Bank - at present 5.5 per cent - and will fluctuate with that rate. The terms and conditions of the loans have been approved by the Australian Loan Council, and I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
At the time the 1970-71 Budget was introduced it was noted that, because of the difficulty of estimating net loan raisings in Australia and overseas, there remained, as in every year, the possibility that some borrowing from the Reserve Bank may be necessary to complete the Commonwealth’s financial transactions. In statement No. 4 attached to the Budget Speech, notice was given that authority would be sought in a Loan Bill to borrow for defence purposes such amounts as are necessary to complete the Commonwealth’s financing requirements. Since the Budget was introduced, of course, a number of factors have brought about substantial increases in budget expenditures and much lesser increases in revenues, so that our financing requirements are now greater than originally forecast.
Some of the more important increases in expenditures which have occurred since the Budget were outlined in a statement which I made to the Senate on 16th February dealing with Government expenditure. It is, however, useful to refer to some of them here. The largest variations affecting the expenditure estimates have been additional payments to the States, including $60m to compensate the States for loss of receipts duty revenues, $43 m in additional assistance to the States to help with their budgetary difficulties, and about $25m in increased financial assistance grants arising from the effect on the formula determined grants of the higher than anticipated increase in average wages. In all, payments to or for the States are now expected to exceed the Budget estimates by the order of $132m.
Wage and salary determinations, including the effect of the national wage case decision, have also added directly to the Commonwealth’s own wage and salary Bill. Other additional requirements, such as capital advances to the Australian Wool Commission and payments under the rural debt reconstruction and farm adjustment scheme will also operate to increase our expenditures. Despite the cut-back in expenditures announced by the Government in February and the gain to revenue as a result of the faster increases in incomes and spending, the Government is now faced with a large prospective deficit for this financial year.
On the financing side, the results of our loan raising activities in the first 9 months of the year suggest that redemptions and other expenditure on the reduction of debt overseas will exceed raisings overseas, as they did in the previous financial year, so that significant amounts will remain to be raised in Australia. Public loan raisings in Australia so far this financial year have, however, attracted slightly less support than in 1969-70, while redemptions of maturing securities have been heavy. These results strongly suggest that there is little prospect that the amount available from loan raisings and other financing transactions will be sufficient to finance the prospective deficit in 1970-71 without some borrowing from the Reserve Bank. The purpose of this Bill is, therefore, to obtain authority to borrow from the Reserve Bank an amount necessary to complete the financing of the deficit in 1970-71 and to use the proceeds of the borrowing for defence purposes.
The Bill is essentially a machinery measure to enable the Government to carry out policies already approved under the various Acts authorising expenditure, the raising of revenue and financing transactions. It does not authorise expenditures which have not already been approved by Parliament but merely provides for expenditure already authorised by Parliament in Appropriation Acts Nos 1 and 3 1970-71 to be charged to the Loan Fund instead of to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This practice of charging part of our expenditure on defence services to Loan Fund has, of course, been followed in previous years where borrowings from the Reserve Bank have been necessary to complete the financing of a Budget deficit:
Honourable senators will appreciate that at this stage of the financial year, with large amounts of revenue still to be collected and expenditures still to be incurred, and because of the unpredictability of loan raising, it is not possible to forecast with precision the amount which it may be necessary to borrow from the Reserve Bank to complete the financing of the deficit. This amount is the residual of all other Commonwealth Budget transactions and relatively small percentage variations in other items can have a significant effect on it. Therefore no specific upper limit is set to the amount which might be borrowed under the legislation. Instead, like other similar Loan Bills introduced in recent years, this Bill seeks authority to borrow such sums as the Treasurer considers to be the likely maximum amount necessary to complete the financing of the deficit. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I will try to get through this as quickly as I can. Then, with the indulgence of honourable senators, we can put it down before the suspension for dinner. The only other observation I make is that there is another Bill to be introduced ahead of those on the schedule. It is the Ministers of State Bill 1971 and it will come immediately after this. This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the guarantee by the Commonwealth of a$US23.2m ($A20.7m) borrowing by the Administration of the Territory of Papua New Guinea from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The proceeds of the loan will assist in financing a major hydro-electric project on the upper Ramu River in the highlands of New Guinea, about 85 miles north west of Lae. The project was examined by appraisal missions from the International Bank in 1969 and 1970 and the loan documents were settled recently during negotiations in Washington which were attended by representatives of the International Bank, the Commonwealth, the Territory Administration and the Electricity Commission of the Territory. The Administration will onlend the proceeds of the loan to the Electricity Commission which, under an associated project agreement between the Commission and the Bank, is responsible for the actual construction work. Work on the project will commence shortly. It involves the construction of an underground power station on the Ramu River with an initial installed capacity of 45 megawatts; approximately 320 miles of transmission lines; 4 transformer substations at Lae, Madang, Goroka and Mount Hagen; and the enlargement of transformer capacity at Kundiawa and Kainantu substations. The project is estimated to cost $A30.3m and the loan from the International Bank will cover the foreign exchange component of this total cost.
Borrowings by the Territory Administration automatically carry a Commonwealth guarantee by virtue of the operation of section 75a of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1968. However, with loans from the International Bank, a formal guarantee agreement is required from the Commonwealth and this must be authorised by specific legislation. The guarantee agreement for this loan, which is shown as the first schedule to the Bill, follows the form of the 2 guarantee agreements previously approved by Parliament in connection with a telecommunications loan made by the International Bank to the Territory in 1968, and a highways loan made in 1970. The present loan carries an interest rate of 7.25 per cent and is for a period of 25 years, with repayments commencing after 5 years. A committment fee of threequarters of 1 per cent per annum is payable on undrawn balances until the loan is fully drawn.
The Bill provides for Parliamentary approval of the guarantee agreement. It makes consequential provision to ensure the effectiveness of undertakings in the guarantee and loan agreements regarding freedom of payments from Australian taxation or restrictions imposed by Australian law. It also includes an appropriation of moneys required for the Commonwealth to make any payments under the guarantee. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(8.0) - I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority to increase the number of Ministers by one. Section 65 of the Constitution, coupled with section 51, placitum 36, gives to the Parliament, and to it alone, authority to vary the number of
Ministers of State. The additional Minister, which it is the purpose of the Ministers of State Bill to provide, will bring the number of Ministers of State approved by Parliament to 27. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for payment at the rate applicable to Ministers not in the Cabinet.
Three major considerations have led the Government to propose an increase in the number: Firstly, a desire to allocate to a separate portfolio some important matters which could only otherwise be handled by a senior Minister by adding unduly to the responsibilities now imposed upon him. 1 mention particularly the discharge of Commonwealth responsibilities in the fields of Aboriginal affairs, the arts and the environment. Second, there are administrative advantages in placing With a single new Minister and Department a group of specialised general service functions which have hitherto been attached to a number of departments. Thirdly, and in association with the creation of the new Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the additional Minister and Department will permit the Prime Minister to discharge more effectively his main functions, which are leadership of the Government and administration of the Cabinet system.
Before discussing these matters further, I think it will assist honourable senators if I list the functions which at this stage will be under the administration of the new Minister. These are:
It has been decided that, in addition to these functions, administration of Commonwealth activities in the rapidly developing and increasingly important field of tourism, including the activities of the Tourist Commission, should be placed with the new Minister. Overall policy on matters relating to tourism will remain, as at present, with the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Following a review by the departments concerned, it has also been decided that an Overseas Property Branch should be established. The Bureau will be a specialist agency charged with a functional responsibility for the provision, management and maintenance of overseas land and property for Commonwealth purposes. It will not detract from the responsibilities of other departments or Heads of Mission for the effective operation of overseas posts and will be assisted by an Advisory Overseas Property Committee composed of senior representatives of those departments. The operations of the Bureau will help departments and heads of mission to concentrate on their principal task of representation. Administration of the Bureau will be placed within the new Department, as an additional general service function for which the Minister will assume responsibility.
The administration of Aboriginal affairs and of Commonwealth functions in the fields of the arts and the environment are among those to be transferred to the new Minister. It is the Government’s view that it is now appropriate to separate these 3 functions from the Prime Minister’s own administration. The Prime Minister has said that, while he will continue to have a deep interest in them, it is not necessary, for that purpose, that he remain the responsible Minister. I now mention briefly each of these 3 functions because of their importance in the new Ministry.
The effect of the successful referendum in 1967 was to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws in relation to the Aboriginals, as it already could for the people of any other race. Following the overwhelming vote of the people the then Prime Minister, Mr Holt, judged that initially the administration by the Commonwealth of Aboriginal Affairs should be within the Prime Minister’s responsibility. A Council for Aboriginal Affairs was established and a Minister, though necessarily occupying another portfolio, was appointed Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs under the Prime Minister. It is now thought to be opportune to entrust this important responsibility to the new Minister, as one of his major functions.
As the welfare and development of Aboriginals affect more than 1 department, a ministerial committee will be appointed to study the special needs and problems of Aboriginals and to advise ways of improving them. In this connection, I invite the attention of the Senate to the statement on Aboriginal Affairs which the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) read on behalf of the Prime Minister at a recent meeting in Cairns of the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council, which is composed of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs. In the field of the arts, the Commonwealth is becoming increasingly involved and is giving assistance in a wide variety of forms. The Government has no doubt that this is widely welcomed. We ought to continue to develop in this field and we will. But the increasing variety of Commonwealth involvement again suggests that the time has arrived where the functions can be transferred to a new Minister. In addition to responsibility for the Council for the Arts, the new Minister will be responsible for the National Library, for the Australian National Gallery, and for assistance to Australian authors and composers. All these are related functions and can usefully be put in the charge of one Minister.
There is what has come to be called ‘the environment’. An office to bring together and generally to superintend the Commonwealth’s work and responsibilities in the environmental field is a new initiative, and an important one. Commonwealth activities in this field are beginning to gather moment, and will need the attention of a Minister. Responsibility for them, too, mav now with advantage be moved to the new Minister. Putting these proposals in another way, the Commonwealth initiatives in Aboriginal affairs and the arts have now achieved a status and a level of activity that require separate administration. It has seemed desirable at the same time to add what will be a rapidly developing role in relation to the environment.
The second main reason for creating the new portfolio is that there is a range of what might be termed ‘general service’ activities which are at present allocated among various departments. In each case the activities are not directly related to the primary purpose of those departments, but they have an important contribution to make to the effective functioning of the administration as a whole. Examples are the activities comprehended within the Australian Government Publishing Service, the Commonwealth Archives Office, preparation for world expositions and the new Overseas Property Bureau. Each of these functions involves the provision of services in important areas for all or a number of departments. The Government believes that locating them in the one department, under the control of one Minister, will yield significant advantage to the administration as a whole.
The third reason for creating the new portfolio is to permit the Prime Minister and his Department to devote themselves to the matters which are central to Government. An examination of the history of the functions attached to the Prime Minister and his Department reveals a recurring theme of the detachment from the Prime Minister of new functions as they developed sufficient momentum to sustain a portfolio or department of their own, or as other opportunity for. appropriate attachment arises. Thus in earlier days the Department of External Affairs and, in more recent times, the Department of Education and Science have been separated from the Prime Minister’s Department. It is natural that, as initiatives are made and. before they are fully proven, new ministerial and departmental arrangements should not be sought. But equally, once the significance of the new activities has been proved and accepted, it is appropriate that they be given separate ministerial and departmental status. Further than that, it is important that the Prime Minister, as leader of the Government, should be able to give a great deal of attention to the administration of the ‘ Cabinet system, Whatever other functions may come or go, the Prime Minister is Chairman of the Cabinet. It is his function to ensure that leadership is given; that there is effective co-ordination, through the Cabinet machinery and by individual consultation, of the activities of Ministers, each of .whom has full responsibility and accountability to Parliament; and that, through the Cabinet machinery and in other ways, the everchanging problems of Government are given full attention and co-ordinated and speedy resolution.
These are the central functions of the Prime Minister as leader of the Government, and he must look to his Department to give him support in them. It is these considerations that lie behind the creation of the new Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This Department will have administrative responsibility for the co-ordinating role of the Prime Minister and it will also be geared to give him advice on the demanding and ever-present preoccupations of the Government as a whole. These vary from day to day but range across such matters as the state of the economy, the Commonwealth’s role in welfare, relations with the States - so important in a Federation - and external relations and defence. These are the administrative responsibilities of the Prime Minister as leader of the Government. When to these are added the role of leadership in the Parliament, the duties as leader of a party, the requirements imposed as chief spokesman for the Government both in the Parliament and in public, and the many representational obligations that must be accepted, it can readily be seen that functions which are in the main administrative, or can be handled by another Minister and Department, should where practicable be transferred to them.
In short, the Government believes that the addition of a new ministerial portfolio to discharge the functions I have outlined represents a significant advance in the organisation of the functions of government. There will be renewed emphasis upon the importance the Government attaches to 3 different groups of responsibilities - in Aboriginal affairs; in the arts; and in the environment. In each of these, the Commonwealth is increasingly assuming a role in community affairs at the national level. There will also be a useful concentration under single control of a number of ‘general service’ activities having a functional or administrative affinity. By making these changes, the Prime Minister and his Department will be released to discharge more effectively their primary functions. And the lines of responsibility to the Parliament for the various functions will be clarified. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
– by leave - In association with the Ministers of State Bill, I wish also to inform the Senate of the intention of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to appoint Assistant Ministers to support certain senior Ministers in the discharge of their duties. Honourable senators will recall that, since the earliest days of Federation, Assistant Ministers, Honorary Ministers or Ministers without Portfolio have been a recurring feature of ministerial arrangements. These Assistant Ministers - I use that term to describe all the persons I have just referred to - are not Ministers of State in the strict constitutional sense: the Queen’s Ministers of State are, under section 64 of the Constitution, only those members of the Executive Council who are appointed to administer Departments of State. The Assistant Ministers will be members of the Parliament who are appointed to assist a particular Minister in the discharge of his duties. Because they are not Ministers of State in the constitutional sense, section 44 of the Constitution precludes the payment of any salary to Assistant Ministers in respect of their duties. All it will be possible to do will be to make payments to them to meet outofpocket expenses, including travelling expenses, which they necessarily incur in the performance of their duties.
It is intended that the Assistant Ministers will be sworn as Executive Councillors. They will thus form part of the Federal Executive Council whose function, under section 62 of the Constitution, is to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth. The Assistant Ministers will thus participate in a most important aspect of the continuing good government of the Commonwealth. As members of the Federal Executive Council, the Assistant Ministers will in general be able to exercise statutory functions of the Ministers they are assisting - including the making of appointments and the performance of other functions expressly conferred on the Minister - provided he has authorised them to this effect. This is made possible by section 19 of the Acts Interpretation Act which, subject to any contrary intention in the particular legislation, permits any Minister or Member of the Federal Executive Council to act for and on behalf of a Minister referred to in the legislation. Thus Assistant Ministers will be able to make appointments and perform other functions expressly conferred on the Minister by legislation.
The Assistant Ministers will be assigned to assist certain Ministers of Cabinet rank, who have the responsibility not only of administering their own departments but of taking part in the continuing process of consultation which is an essential feature of effective Cabinet government. By appointing Assistant Ministers in this way, we believe the system of Cabinet government will be strengthened through the opportunity it gives to senior Ministers to devote more time to Cabinet business. Assistant Ministers will, of course, work in accordance with the authority given to them by the senior Minister. Within this general authority, it is expected that they will conduct correspondence and make inquiries on his behalf. They will also be able to receive deputations on behalf of the Minister. I emphasise that assistant Ministers will not be able to take political responsibility in the administration of any department. This is as it should be. As Prime Minister Menzies explained in his ministerial statement on Parliamentary Under-Secretaries on 27th August 1952, it is important that Ministers should be directly andwerable to the Parliament for the administration of their departments.
Again taking up what Sir Robert said in that statement, there are occasions when it would be of great assistance to a Minister if his Assistant Minister could, during the Committee stages of a Bill, sit at the table of the House and represent his Minister in the discussion of clauses and amendments as they arise. The Government will consult with the Presiding Officers on this matter to ascertain whether, to achieve this, an amendment of Standing Orders will be necessary. Numbers of those who in times past held office as Assistant Ministers were in due course elevated to full ministerial status. The experience they obtained as Assistant Ministers was of great value in preparing them to assume full ministerial status. We are confident that those who will be appointed to the new positions will obtain valuable and broadening experience.
To sum up, the new Assistant Ministers will bring greatly needed assistance to senior Ministers in the discharge of their heavy duties, and will contribute to the better working of the Cabinet system. Second, they will help such Ministers to achieve more effective supervision of the activities of the departments to which they are related. Finally they will, as I have mentioned, provide those appointed with valuable experience in both the legislative and administrative fields. The Prime Minister has said that he does not intend at this stage to make specific appointments to the office of Assistant Minister. These will be left until the parliamentary recess, when there will be opportunity to give further consideration to details of the way in which the Assistant Ministers will work and to select members for the positions. I am making the statement at this stage partly to acquaint the Senate of events that will take place before it meets for the Budget session, and also because the decision to appoint Assistant Ministers needs to be seen in the full context of other changes being made in administrative arrangements, including particularly the proposal to appoint an additional Minister of State.
– by leave - I move:
I seek leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the. Parliament for the ratification by Australia of the Fourth International Tin Agreement. The Agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Geneva last year under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - UNCTAD - and it is the latest in a series of international tin agreements dating back to 1956. Subject to the necessary ratification by governments, the Agreement will enter into force on 1st July 1971 for a period of 5 years. Copies of the new Agreement are available for honourable senators. It is a complex document and it is my purpose today to concentrate on its more important provisions.
The primary objectives of the various international tin agreements have been to secure adequate supplies of tin at stable prices equitable to both importers and exporters. The price range within which the Agreement aims to stabilise the market price of tin is currently £Stg1.350 to £Stg 1,650 per metric ton. It is adjustetd periodically by agreement between the exporters and importers. These objectives are achieved by recourse to the mechanism of a buffer stock, financed by producing members, and supplementary controls over exports and stocks in producing countries, if required. The basic function of the buffer stock, which consists of the equivalent of 20,000 metric tons of tin metal, is to moderate short term price fluctuations due to temporary changes in market conditions. The supplementary export and stock controls are brought into operation only when the buffer stock is unable to achieve its purpose unaided. However, such controls have been imposed only once in the last 10 years. Governments participate in the Agreement either as producing - exporting or consuming - importing members.
The major tin exporting countries are Malaysia, Bolivia, Thailand. Indonesia. Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo and all are members of the current Agreement. There are 19 consuming members of the current Agreement including Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada. These countries account for about 50 per cent of total tin consumption. Consumer membership is likely to be increased under the Fourth Agreement. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is a substantial producer of tin but on balance a net importer, has signed the Agreement for the first time. The Federal Republic of Germany, the fifth largest consumer of tin, has also signed the new Agreement for the first time. The United States, which is the world’s largest consumer of tin, is not a member. However, it has participated fully in the negotiations and has co-operated with the International Tin Council, especially on matters relating to releases from its present stockpile surplus.
For most of the post-war period Australia has been a net importer of tin and has therefore participated in the three agreements to date as a consuming member. In recent years, however, there has been a significant expansion of production resulting from the development of large- scale hard rock mining, especially in Tasmania. Today Australia is a net exporter of significant tonnages of tin and last year exports totalled 4,450 metric tons, valued at SI 2m, out of a total mine production of 8850 metric tons. In world terms, Australian exports are small, accounting for only about 3 per cent of world trade. However, the Australian industry is an important sector of our minerals industry and is making a growing contribution to our earnings of foreign exchange. As a net exporter of tin Australia will be required under the new Agreement to change its status from a consuming member to a producing member. Accordingly, as a producing member, Australia will incur obligations relating to the buffer stock and export and stock controls.
Under the terms of earlier agreements, these obligations have been related to the volume of mine production. In the case of all producing members under these earlier agreements this basis of assessment has been quite reasonable because virtually all their production has been exported. However, in the case of Australia about half of its production is consumed locally and the traditional approach, particularly in assessing our contribution to the buffer stock, would have created an anomaly. In these circumstances it was agreed that in the case of countries such as Australia an alternative basis of assessment related to exports rather than mine production should be used with respect to the determination of contributions to the buffer stock and export controls. On this basis, Australia’s contribution to the buffer stock will be about $1.6m of which some $600,000 will be advanced on entry into force of the Agreement. Provision is made under the Agreement for buffer stock contributions to be returned on termination of the Agreement, subject to any surplus or deficits resulting from the operation of the buffer stock. In earlier agreements a surplus equivalent to an average return of 6 per cent per annum has been realised.
I have already noted that under certain circumstances of excess supply the International Tin Council may authorise export controls in order to supplement the operation of the buffer stock. Under these circumstances there is a provision under the Agreement for producing countries to observe a ceiling on their holdings of stocks. This is a complementary measure designed to avoid an excessive accumulation of stocks. However, in the case of Australia, our stockholding entitlement is equivalent to more than double the industry’s current normal stockholding and it is unlikely that in practice this obligation will pose any real difficulties for the Australian industry.
Australia’s participation in the Agreement has been consistent with our policies of supporting international co-operation in commodity marketing arrangements. We have, through membership of the Agreement, sought to co-operate with the main tin producing countries, all of which are developing countries and, in the case of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, important regional neighbours. The Australian tin industry has consistently supported Australian membership of the International Tin Agreement and has derived considerable price benefits from the operation of successive Agreements. Representatives of the tin industry and also the Australian Mining Industry Council participated at the Geneva conference and were consulted at all stages of the negotiations.
The new Fourth International Tin Agreement provides an acceptable basis for Australia’s participation in the Agreement as a producing member and our continued membership of the Agreement should considerably enhance the commercial prospects of our small but expanding tin industry. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Customs Tariff Bill now before the Senate proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1970. The tariff changes arise out of the adoption by the Government of recommendations made in reports by the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority. There are 9 schedules to the Bill and to simplify the nature of the changes in the schedules I propose to refer only to the General Tariff and the changes in the General Tariff rates. The Preferential Tariff rates are usually about 10 per cent lower but are usually fixed having regard to international commitments. The new and old rates of duty are set out in detail in the summary of tariff alterations which is currently being circulated for the information of honourable senators.
The changes in the First Schedule to the Bill, operating from 19th August 1970, implement the Government’s adoption of recommendations in the following reports by the Tariff Board: Calcium carbide; sorbitol and mannitol; alginic acid and its derivatives; factice; vulcanised rubber sheet; footwear with non-leather uppers; alloy steel, high carbon steel and electrical steels; screws for wood; centrifuges; weighing machinery and weights; extrusion presses; relays; cinematograph projectors; breathing appliances and artificial respiration apparatus, and the Special Advisory Authority report on artificial Christmas trees.
In the report on calcium carbide the Tariff Board’s recommendations result in a duty of 40 per cent, ad valorem, plus $23.33 per ton. This represents an increase of 10 per cent by value of the goods on the existing rate. On sorbitol and mannitol the Tariff Board recommended a duty of 40 per cent, ad valorem, and in addition, sorbitol in aqueous solution should be subject to a special duty equal to 90 per cent of the amount by which the landed cost is less than $350 per ton. This represents an increase in duty of at least 321/2 per cent, ad valorem.
The Tariff Board’s recommendations in its report on alginic acid and its derivatives result in a duty of 371/2 per cent, ad valorem, which represents an increase in duty of 30 per cent on sodium alginate and 371/2 per cent on other products. On factice the Tariff Board recommended a duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem. The goods were previously free of duty. On vulcanised rubber sheet the Board recommended duties of 40 per cent, ad valorem, on all products covered by the report. This represents an increase of 10 per cent, ad valorem, on rubber for X-ray protection and a decrease of 5 per cent, ad valorem, on the remainder of the goods.
I turn next to the Tariff Board’s report on footwear with non-leather uppers. The Board recommended that non-protective rate of 7t per cent, ad valorem, be applied to ski boots and footwear of expanded rubber of a kind used solely or principally in conjunction with diving dress. On the remainder of footwear under reference the Board recommended the retention of the industry ad valorem rate of 45 per cent and a progressive phase out from July 1971 and thereafter in 1973 and 1975 of the alternative duties. Temporary duties on sand boots and shoes lapsed with the adoption of the report.
In its report on alloy steel, high carbon steel and electrical steels, the Tariff Board recommended the following duties: On high alloy steel, a rate of 35 per cent, ad valorem on alloy steel plates, sheets, hoop and strip containing 12.5 per cent or more of chromium, a rate of 35 per cent, ad valorem, or $280 per ton, whichever is higher, on low alloy and high carbon steels, a rate of 15 per cent, ad valorem; and on electrical steels, a rate of 15 per cent, ad valorem. The report covers a large range of goods and the extent of the change in duty varies according to each type of steel product I invite the attention of honourable senators to the detailed comparison in the summary provided. The Tariff Board recommended that protective duties of 40 per cent, ad valorem, apply to screws for wood. This represents increases ranging from 71 per cent, ad valorem, to 20 per cent, ad valorem, according to the types of screws.
In its report on centrifuges the Tariff Board recommended a duty of 40 per cent, ad valorem, for laundry hydroextractors and 30 per cent, ad valorem, on other types of centrifuges. This represents for sugar centrifuges a decrease of 171 per cent, ad valorem, and on centrifuges used in the coal and metallurgical industries a reduction of 25 per cent, ad valorem. Laboratory-type centrifuges are subject to an increase in duty of 221 per cent, ad valorem. Turning next to the Tariff Board’s report on weighing machinery and weights. The Board recommended that the duty of 40 per cent, ad valorem, applicable to spring balances and price computing scales be maintained. The Board recommended that automatic or continuous weighing machines and check-weighers be dutiable at 20 per cent, ad valorem. This represents an increase of 124 per cent, ad valorem, for the majority of automatic and continuous weighing machines. The duty on check-weighers is reduced from 40 per cent, ad valorem. A rate of 20 per cent, ad valorem, has been recommended for heavy industrial weighing machines. This means a reduction in duty of 20 per cent, ad valorem.
In respect of light industrial and domestic scales the Board has recommended a rate of 30 per cent, ad valorem. For sensitive balances and weight count machines this means an increase from the previous rate of 74 per cent, ad valorem. For other light industrial and domestic scales the new rate means a reduction in duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem. The Tariff Board has recommended that weights for weighing machines, when imported separately, be dutiable at 20 per cent, ad valorem. This represents, in the main, a reduction of 20 per cent, ad valorem. On extrusion presses the Tariff Board recommended a duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem, an increase of 221 per cent, ad valorem, over the existing non-protective rate.
Turning now to relays, the Tariff Board recommended uniform protection on relays under reference of 30 per cent, ad valorem. The previous duties on these goods varied from 71 per cent, ad valorem, to 521 per cent, ad valorem. The Tariff Board recommended a duty of $10 per unit on 8 millimetre silent cinematograph projectors. This is equivalent to approximately 40 per cent of their value The Board recommended a duty of 40 per cent, ad valorem, on parts for these projectors. These new duties represent an increase generally of the order of 30 per cent, ad valorem, over existing rates. On sound projectors and projectors of other sizes the Board recommended reduction of the various levels of protection previously applying to a minimum rate of 7t per cent, ad valorem.
I turn next to the report on breathing appliances and artificial respiration apparatus. The Tariff Board recommended a duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem, on these goods. This represents generally a reduction on previous duties which ranged up to 60 per cent, ad valorem. The Special Advisory Authority in his report on artificial Christmas trees recommended a temporary additional duty of 374 per cent, ad valorem, on artificial Christmas trees, branches, foliage and the like. The temporary duty is in addition to the existing duty of 74 per cent, ad valorem.
The First Schedule to the Bill also includes changes agreed to by the Australian and New Zealand Governments for the addition of new commodities to Schedule A of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Changes in the Second Schedule to the Bill, operating from 17th September 1970, stem from recommendations by the Tariff Board in its report on pencils, crayons and chalks. On ordinary lead pencils the Board recommended a duty of 25 per cent, ad valorem. This represents an increase of 24 per cent, ad valorem, in relation to loose pencils. In relation to boxed goods and cheap pencils the duties are reduced. Tariff protection is reduced on school chalks by 424 per cent, ad valorem. Other goods, such as crayons and slate pencils, will now be admitted at the non-protective rate of 74 per cent, ad valorem. This schedule also includes additions to the list of hand made traditional products of cottage industries in developing countries accorded concessional treatment.
The Third Schedule to the Bill, operating from 23rd October 1970, deals with changes arising from Tariff Board Reports on vinyl acetate; cellulose acetate flake; and gauze, cloth and grill of copper or copper alloy wire. The Tariff Board recommended a duty of 50 per cent, ad valorem, on vinyl acetate. This represents a reduction of 10 per cent, ad valorem, on the existing rate. On cellulose acetate flake the Board recommended that the existing rate of 5 per cent, ad valorem, remain unchanged.
Turning now to the report on gauze, cloth and grill of copper or copper alloy wire, the Board recommended a duty of 25 per cent, ad valorem, except for woven wire having a construction finer than 120 mesh, which is to be free of duty. This means no change on woven wire finer than 120 mesh but an increase in duty of 174 per cent, ad valorem, on woven wire for paper making machines. On other gauze, cloth and grill of copper or copper alloy wire there is a reduction in tariff protection of up to 35 per cent, ad valorem.
The Fourth Schedule to the Bill, operating from 28th October 1970, implements a report by the Tariff Board on nitrogenous fertilisers. The Board recommended that the duty on ammonium chloride be reduced to 74 per cent, ad valorem. This change will have little significance because imports of ammonium chloride have in the past been admitted at this rate under customs by-laws. The schedule includes further additions to the list of goods receiving concessional treatment under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
In the Fifth Schedule to the Bill, operating from 10th November 1970, changes arise from the report by the Tariff Board on agricultural and horticultural, machinery and so on. On soil preparation, seeding, planting, fertilising and harvesting machinery, the Board recommended a rate of 20 per cent, ad valorem. This represents generally a reduction on the previous duties which ranged to 60 per cent, ad valorem. Reductions are also being made in duties applying to a range of presses and juice extractors. A duty of 20 per cent, ad valorem, will apply to wine presses, while other presses and juice extractors will be dutiable at 74 per cent, ad valorem. The Board recommended a duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem, on dairy machinery, an increase of 24 per cent, ad valorem. On transmission equipment the Board has recommended a duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem, a reduction from previous duties which ranged up to 60 per cent, ad valorem.
The Sixth Schedule, operating from 23rd November 1970, incorporates changes recommended by the Special Advisory Authority in his report on industrial radiographic equipment. He recommended an additional temporary duty of 474 per cent, ad valorem, on certain industrial radiographic equipment based on the use of radiations from radioactive substances. The Seventh Schedule, operating from 23rd
December 1970, implements a report by the Special Advisory Authority on acetone derivatives. The Special Advisory Authority recommended an additional temporary duty of $70 per ton on the following acetone derivatives: Methyl isobutyl carbinol; isobutyl methyl ketone; and diacetone alcohol. These chemicals are used in the manufacture of surface coatings and thinners. The changes in the Eighth Schedule to the Bill, operating from 1st January 1971, arise from further additions to the commodities included in Schedule A of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The last Schedule of the Bill, the Ninth Schedule, operating from 23rd February 1971, implements changes arising from the Government’s adoption of the Tariff Board’s report on cherries. The Board recommended no change in duties on fresh cherries and removal of duties on drained, glace, crystallised and brined cherries. This means the removal of the present duties of 421 cents per gallon on brined cherries and 471/2 per cent, ad valorem, on drained cherries. The existing temporary duty of 6c per lb on drained cherries is also removed. The Tariff Board’s report has been accepted by the Government in light of the Board’s view that there are alternative new markets for local brined cherries and that there seems to be a reasonable possibility that the brining of cherries in Australia can continue to be a successful operation. At the time of the tabling of the report the Government announced that a close watch was being maintained on this years marketing situation and, if alternative markets for brined cherries cannot be found, the question of protection of the cherry industry would be reconsidered as a matter of urgency. I should mention that recent investigations raised doubts as to whether sizeable alternative outlets are available to the industry in 1971 or, indeed, in the immediately following years. In light of this information and the pressing need of the industry to clear stocks of brined cherries before the next harvest my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, on 22nd April sent a reference to the Special Advisory Authority covering brined and drained cherries. This reference of course does not affect this Bill which applies to the Tariff Board Report signed on 13th
November 1970 and which, as I mentioned earlier, the Government has adopted.
The Bill also includes some changes of a purely administrative nature. These changes generally are to maintain or restore the duties recommended by the Tariff Board and adopted by the Government prior to the change over to the tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature on 1st July 1965. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard my second reading speech. This Bill proposes one simple, though vital, amendment to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act 1956- 1970, namely, that the maximum contingent liability which the Corporation may accept under contracts of export payments insurance and under guarantees be increased from $300m to $500m. Export payments insurance is an important competitive element in international trading. More than 30 overseas countries provide this facility to their exporters. In Australia export payments insurance has been provided since 1957 by the Export Payments Insurance Corporation (EPIC), thus enabling Australian exporters to be protected against the risk of non-payment of foreign accounts. Under another associated facility, agreed to by Parliament in 1964, the Corporation may give guarantees to commercial lending institutions as a means of assisting exporters seeking financial accommodation in respect of insured transactions involving deferred payment terms.
When the Corporation enters into a contract of payments insurance with an exporter, and when the Corporation gives a repayment guarantee to a lending institution, it accepts a commitment that, if certain things should happen, it will pay according to the terms of those instruments. In other words, it accepts a contingent liability. It follows that the greater the volume of export business that EPIC insures and the more often it helps the financing of exporters by providing its guarantees, the higher will its contingent liability become. There is a statutory limit, however, on the amount of contingent liability which the Corporation may accept. This limit is not imposed as if to put a brake on the Corporation’s commercial operations.’ It applies because the Commonwealth is ultimate guarantor of EPIC and Parliament should have the opportunity to determine, from time to time, the level of commitments which the Corporation may assume. The following table shows the growth in the amount of maximum contingent liability under payments insurance and guarantees as approved by Parliament since the Corporation was established in 1956:
When the Corporation’s maximum contingent liability was last determined by Parliament in June 1970 it was estimated that the ceiling of $300m then approved would be adequate to cope with the expansion of business by the Corporation during at least the following 2 years. However, several largely unforeseen developments since June 1970 have increased business so substantially that, already, the Corporation’s contingent liabilities have almost reached the S3 00m ceiling. Unless the ceiling is raised the Corporation will have no alternative to declining the support of its payments insurance and guarantee facilities for a large volume of export business.
The principal factor in this unexpectedly rapid build-up in contingent liability is the insurance of wheat export transactions. Up to the beginning of this year EPIC has been asked to insure only relatively minor quantities of wheat exports. However, because Australian wheat has had to face increasing international competition, particularly on credit terms, there has been a new demand on the payments insurance facility of EPIC. Already in 1971 the Corporation has assumed contingent liability on wheat export transactions of $30. 2m. In addition, the Corporation has agreed to insure wheat export sales in prospect which would involve contingent liability up to a further $37.7m.
Since June 1970 the Corporation has also insured, and given guarantees in respect of, a higher than expected value of capital goods exports sold on long term credit. In respect of these transactions it is the length of the credit term, as much as the value involved, which is of concern because the related contingent liability is run off very slowly. Honourable senators will be interested to know that most of this long term business consists of capital goods exports to the copper development on Bougainville. Had it not been for an amendment of the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation Act which Parliament agreed to last year these contracts could not have received the support of the Corporation’s facilities and, in consequence, many valuable orders would not have been wen for Australia. Apart from these 2 major new elements there has been a higher than average rate of gain in the Corporation’s operations generally. This reflects, in part, the increasing success of Australian industries, particularly manufacturing industry, in finding export markets for their products. It reflects, also, the worldwide trend towards more, and longer term, credit trading as a result of strong international competition for markets.
The importance of EPIC’s facilities as support for the efforts of Australian exporters can hardly be overstated. Indeed, the Corporation’s operations have become a vital competitive element in Australia’s export trading. Since it commenced operations in 1957 EPIC has insured exports worth $ 1,400m and, at the end of March 1971, had policies current with a face value of $424m. The rate of increase in the Corporation’s business is seen in the fact that, only 9 months earlier, that is, at the end of the 1969-70 financial year, the face value of policies then current was $343m.
The Corporation has discharged its responsibilities with both initiative and prudence. It has encouraged and expanded export business by making its facilities available to an ever-widening field of exporters and export transactions. It has at the same time ensured that the cost of its services to exporters has been kept to the lowest possible level. In fact, after some 14 years of operation, the Corporation’s excess of premium income over claims and operating expenses has amounted to a bare $238,000. Australia, and Australian exporters in particular, are fortunate in having in the Export Payments Insurance Corporation a body which has made a real contribution to the country’s growth. It is estimated that the Corporation could operate for about 2 years within the proposed new ceiling of $500m. However, this estimate provides no leeway for unforeseen occurrences such as new projects similar to Bougainville. Developments of this kind might create a need for Parliament to review further the Corporation’s liability limit earlier than is now expected. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill proposes an amendment to the principal Act - the States Grants (Preschool Teachers Colleges) Act 1968. This Act empowers the Government to make grants up to a total of $2.5m to the States for transmission to pre-school organisations in the States for approved capital projects, including construction of buildings, purchase of equipment and land acquisition. The effect of the amendment will be to extend the prescribed period during which grants may be made. Under the Act the prescribed period is from December 1968 to 30th June 1971. The Bill seeks to extend this period to 31st December 1972. The reason for the extension is that 2 preschool organisations listed in the Schedule to the Act could not begin, before 30th June 1971, the proposed projects for which Commonwealth money was allocated. Two other projects are still in progress and will not be completed before that date. The completed projects under the Act are in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.
The organisations responsible for the pre-school teachers colleges in the States are private bodies. As such, several have encountered difficulties in acquiring the land needed to expand the teachers colleges and in meeting the planning and land use requirements of local authorities. These difficulties are the major cause of the delays in certain States in carrying out the projects for which the funds were allocated in 1968. The extension proposed in this Bill will allow more time for the preschool organisations to complete the negotiations and carry out their projects. In so doing the purpose of this programme will be achieved, that is, an approximate doubling of the capacity in Australia for the training of pre-school teachers. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to enable the Government to extend the scheme of capital grants to the States for the construction and equipping of technical training facilities. The grants assist the States to provide buildings and equipment for the training of courses in technical colleges and trade schools, and those undertaking similar courses at agricultural or rural training colleges. The funds are allocated to the
States in proportion to total State population. The grants have been made since July 1964 at a rate of $30m for a 3-year period, or Si Om per annum. Over the period 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1971 a total of $70m will have been made available to the States with the result that there has been a substantial improvement in technical training facilities in the States.
For the 3-year period commencing 1st July 1971 and ending 30th June 1974 the amount of money available will be increased from $30m to $36m, and the annual amount available will be increased from SI Om to 312m. In determining this level of assistance the Government has taken into account likely increased pressures on technical training facilities arising from demands of such schemes as the retraining of married women, the retraining of farmers displaced under the rural reconstruction scheme and from the public service and industry for higher technician courses, which would have an effect on the programme of the States. The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Fairbairn) has already received general proposals from the State Ministers for the use of $36m which the Bill proposes should be available over the next 3 financial years.
In considering the proposals submitted by the State Ministers for inclusion in this extension of the scheme, the Commonwealth has advised the States that it regards its grants over the next 3 financial years as supplementary to the States’ own efforts in providing adequate technical training facilities to meet the ever increasing demands for this field of training. The proposals for the new triennium put forward by the States are tentative at this stage. However, the States will be forwarding firm programmes of projects for the approval of the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science before the new legislation becomes effective. My remarks following are aimed at giving honourable senators an idea of the range of projects. In putting forward their programmes several States have indicated that these are part of co-ordinated programmes which embrace not only technical education facilities, but also other educational institutions like colleges of advanced education.
New South Wales proposes to apply Commonwealth funds to the provision of facilities at Strathfield, Granville, Brookvale, North Sydney, Liverpool in the Sydney metropolitan area, and at Wollongong and Coffs Harbour. The building to be constructed at North Sydney is the direct result of demands from the public service and industry for specialised training in electronics. Construction and equipment programmes will also be continued under the scheme at various agricultural colleges. Major projects proposed in Victoria reflect thinking on the reorganisation of technical training in that State and include the first stage of a new Melbourne Technical College to be developed over a period of 10 years, extensions to Geelong East Technical School and the Melbourne College of Textiles, and new trade blocks at a number of metropolitan and country technical colleges.
In Queensland, colleges proposed for assistance over the next 3 years include Rockhampton Technical College, Cairns Technical College and South Brisbane Technical College. Work will begin on the second stage at the sugar school at Mackay. Queensland has also put forward a proposal to establish a tropical rural school. South Australia plans to use Commonwealth financial assistance in the next triennium to build extensions at a number of technical colleges and to improve the equipment available to technical training. Major additions are proposed for Elizabeth Technical College, O’Halloran Hill Technical College, Croydon Park Technical College and Panorama Technical College. In Tasmania, expenditure is proposed for the completion stages of new technical colleges at Devonport and Burnie which have already started with Commonwealth funds.
Honourable senators will note the specific reference to residential accommodation in the Bill. The suggestion to include the specific reference arose during preliminary discussions with the States. It will interest honourable senators to know that one State has included a sum of over $500,000 for the provision of residential accommodation, primarily to meet the needs of apprentices living and working in country areas who by virtue of their location are at a disadvantage vis-a-viz apprentices in metropolitan areas when it comes to accessibility to technical training institutions. Apart from the needs of country apprentices I can see an advantage in the inclusion of residential accommodation at selected sites to meet other developments in apprenticeship training. I refer more particularly to the growth of block release as a method of training apprentices which requires full-time attendance at the training institution. As honourable senators know, a lack of suitable accommodation can cause many problems. The amounts available to the various States are set out in the Schedule to the Bill.
In proposing an extension for a further 3 years of technical training grants to the States, the Government has not overlooked the possible impact on expenditure during the triennium should the States put forward firm proposals as a result of consideration of the conclusions of the Australian tripartite mission to study methods of training of skilled workers in Europe. The report of the mission was released last year by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), and raised a wide range of issues related to industrial training. Discussions are currently taking place between the Commonwealth, the States, employers and trade unions on possible action to improve the training of skilled workers who form such an important part of the Australian workforce. Both the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Education and Science are aware that proposals might flow from these discussions which would have implications for technical institutions under the control of the States.
The proposed increased level of Commonwealth assistance for technical training reflects the Government’s continuing interest in an area not covered by the recent Australia-wide survey of needs in the fields of primary, secondary and teacher education. I commend to the Senate the Bill, which will have such an important effect on the training of skilled personnel in our country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
The purpose of this Bill, which is a transitional measure, is to obtain parliamentary authority for the Commonwealth to make advances to the States for housing for a period from 1st July 1971. The authority provided in the Bill is to make advances during the financial year 1971-72 on the basis of the existing agreement. The need for the legislation arises in this way: Under agreed arrangements, set out in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreements, the Commonwealth makes advances to the States for housing at a concessional rate of interest, currently 1 per cent below the long term bond rate. Advances under the existing agreement may be made only until 30th June this year. It will hot be possible to negotiate a new agreement with the States in time for presentation to the Parliament before the end of the present sittings.
The Slates are, however, substantially dependent upon advances from the Commonwealth for maintaining their housing operations. It has been a practice of some States to draw part of their housing advances in the early part of each financial year. Some of them may wish to do so early in 1971-72, and the Bill provides the necessary authority. Might I say, Mr President, that we, as a Government, attach considerable importance to the form and extent of our assistance to the States for housing. Very careful consideration has been and is being given to this matter. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) expects shortly to be in a position to commence negotiations with the States and to reach agreed conclusions in good time for the introduction of appropriate legislation early in the Budget sittings. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poyser) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate additional grants to meet the Commonwealth’s contribution to the costs of the new levels of academic salaries in universities arising from the increase of 6 per cent awarded in the 1970 national wage case. The Government has decided to support the new levels of academic salaries and to contribute towards the cost, its usual share of $1 for each $1.85 provided from fees plus State grants. The Governing bodies of the universities are responsible for determining the actual levels of remuneration of their staff. The Bill provides that the Commonwealth will contribute towards new salaries for the senior academic staff up to the following levels, and proportionately for the junior academic staff, Professor, $15,264; Associate Professor or Reader, $12,593; Senior Lecturer - maximum, $11,130; Lecturer - maximum, $9,286, minimum, $6,697.
In addition the Bill provides for a contribution towards the cost of the introduction of a scheme of external studies at the University of Tasmania for 1971 and 1972. The Commonwealth’s share of the cost - $3,860 - in respect of each of both years is included in Parts II and III of the First Schedule to be inserted in the principal Act as provided for in the Bill. It should be noted that after 1972, the University will bear the cost of the scheme from its general recurrent grants. The Government, with the agreement of the New South Wales Government, has also taken the opportunity to make 2 minor machinery amendments to the Second and Sixth Schedules to the Act to provide legal authority for a variation in the building programme of one university and one teaching hospital. The variations, which have been requested by the universities concerned and which are supported by the Australian Universities Commission, do not increase the total capital grants provided in the current triennium. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard. The Bill is quite long and technical.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Is leave granted for the speech, to be incorporated in Hansard? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– How many pages are there?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Leave is granted.
– I am happy to read it if honourable senators wish me to do so.
– I object to its incorporation. The motion has not been passed.
– In that case we shall have no problem because I will read it.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I suggest that you put the question, passed it and then you answered a question in relation to it afterwards.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
The Minister sought leave to have it incorporated and I asked whether there was any objection. Thereupon the question arose as to how many pages were in it. I was not aware at that time that there was to be an objection raised. I propose at this stage to rule that, there being no objection, leave is granted for the text of the speech to be incorporated in Hansard.
– With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the speech in Hansard.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament for the ratification of the Wheat Trade Convention and the Food Aid Convention of the International Wheat Agreement 1971. This new agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Geneva in January and February of this year under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Fifty-three countries participated fully in the negotiations and a further 17 countries were represented as observers. The agreement is scheduled to enter into force on 1st July 1971 on the expiry of the International Grains Arrangement.
The new International Wheat Agreement is the seventh in a series of agreements since 1949 designed to stabilise the international trade in wheat. The form of the present International Grains Arrangement has been continued and the new agreement comprises 2 separate legal instruments, namely the Wheat Trade Convention and the Food Aid Convention; the 2 conventions are linked together by a preamble. Copies of the new agreement have been distributed to honourable senators.
The primary objective of the Wheat Trade Convention is the furtherance of international co-operation in connection with world wheat problems. A very important element of any international commodity agreement is the opportunity it provides for close and continuing consultation and co-operation between those countries with a major importing or exporting interest in the product concerned. The new Wheat Trade Convention ensures that the machinery for consultation and cooperation on wheat marketing which has been developed over the past 20 years will be maintained for the next 3 years.
The International Wheat Council, which has been the forum for international cooperation since 1949, will continue in existence. The agreement provides for the full reporting and recording of all commercial and concessional transactions in wheat and flour. The world wheat market will be kept under continuous review and the Wheat Council will co-ordinate appropriate action to deal with any situation of market instability which may develop in the life of the agreement. All participants at the recent conference pledged their support for orderly marketing and recognised the need for international cooperation in order to achieve stability of the international wheat market.
The new Wheat Trade Convention differs from earlier agreements in that it contains no specific pricing provisions. It is unfortunate perhaps that acceptable pricing arrangements could not be negotiated in Geneva but this outcome needs to be assessed against the nature of the pricing provisions in earlier agreements and the background of events in recent years. The pricing provisions of successive wheat agreements between 1949 and 1967 were related to agreed minimum and maximum prices for the highest quality wheat traded internationally. This reference wheat was the , top Canadian wheat - No. 1 Manitoba Northern. The minimum and maximum prices established for this grade of wheat were in the nature of a benchmark to which price levels of all other wheats were related. It is important to understand that there were no specific price levels established (or the other wheats traded internationally, including Australian wheats, in these earlier argeements. Various- formulae were used to determine equivalent minimum and maximum prices f.o.b. at ports of origin for other wheats while quality, differentials were determined by market, forces. Thus actual market prices had considerable freedom of movement according to quality, market conditions and changes in freight and exchange rates.
Honourable senators will be familiar with the terms of the present International Grains Arrangement which the new agreement will replace. Under the IGA, minimum and maximum prices were established for 14 major wheats traded internationally. These prices were expressed f.o.b. at US Gulf ports and for the first time reflected agreed quality differentials as between the wheats specified in the agreement. The International Grains Arrangement represented a considerable step forward in that it made a real attempt to determine price relativities or differentials as between different grades of wheat and thereby held out the prospect of more effective pricing arrangements over the whole regimen of wheats traded internationally. Unfortunately, the entry into force of the IGA in mid-1968 coincided with a sharp and unexpected decline in the available world wheat market. Most major wheat exporting and importing countries enjoyed very favourable climatic conditions in 1968-69 with the result that production expanded and the world market contracted by nearly 6 million tons or some 11 per cent on the previous year.
In these circumstances, adherence to the agreed price relativities as between different wheats traded internationally led to a distortion of traditional trade patterns. In particular, the relative shares of the market previously enjoyed by the major exporters, Canada and the United States, declined sharply. The situation became so serious that prices were reduced below the specified minimum levels only 9 months after entry into force of the International Grains Arrangement. The pricing provisions of the present agreement have, in effect, been inoperative since that time. Nevertheless co-operation on wheat marketing issues has prevailed over the intervening period. An understanding was reached at a Ministerial meeting of exporters in Washington in July 1969 on corrective action to bring prices into a more competitive relationship at around the reduced levels in the interests of orderly marketing and price stability. The action taken at this and subsequent meetings avoided the threat of chaos. Since that time there has been an improvement in the market outlook. Prices have recovered and currently are generally at or about the minimum levels specified in the present agreement.
It was against this background that the recent negotiating conference was held in Geneva. Those exporting countries which considered they had been disadvantaged by the operation of the International Grains Arrangement were reluctant to accept new commitments with respect to prices under any new agreement. The negotiations in Geneva were further complicated by the fact that Canada - the world’s largest commercial exporter - is undertaking a comprehensive review of its wheat grading system. Entirely new wheat classifications will be progressively introduced from the beginning of the new Canadian crop year in August. Under the new system, traditional Canadian grades such as No. 1 Manitoba Northern will disappear and it will be some time pre sumably before the relative values of iris new Canadian wheats will have been established on world markets. It is necessary lo stress that despite lack of agreement in Geneva on price objectives, all the major exporting countries are agreed on the need to obtain stable and remunerative prices fur their sales of wheat. In fact, the agreement specifically provides that when it is judged that prices and related rights and obligations are capable of successful negotiation, the International Wheat Council shall arrange a further conference with the objective of bringing them into effect within the life of the agreement.
There are quite good prospects of achieving market stability with prices at reasonably satisfactory levels. It is estimated that world trade has increased by some 20 per cent since 1968-69. Moreover, a number of important producers, including the United States, Canada and Australia, are operating restraints over production in one form or another in an effort to achieve a better balance between the supply and demand for wheat. The Government believes that market stability can be realised provided effective co-operation is maintained within the International Wheat Council.
The new agreement will ensure that the machinery for consultation and co-operation will be maintained. In this respect the possibility that the membership of the new agreement will be somewhat wider than was the cast with the IGA, which did not include major exporters and importers such as the USSR and Brazil, is encouraging. I am assured that the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation endorse the terms of the Wheat Trade Convention. The Chairman and the General Manager of the Wheat Board and the President of the Wheatgrowers’ Federation attended the Geneva conference and participated fully in the negotitaions. Honourable senators will recall that the International Grains Arrangement contained a Food Aid Convention. This was the first time that such a provision had been included in an international agreement on wheat. This worthwile innovation has been continued under the new agreement. The new Food Air Convention is basically unchanged on the present arrangement. A number of developed countries, importers and exporters alike, will continue to provide developing countries with food aid in the form of grains or flour for human consumption. The individual contributions under the new programme are spelt out in the Convention. Australia’s contribution will remain unchanged at 225,00 metric tons. As was the case with the earlier Convention, Japan will enter a reservation entitling it to provide aid in the form of rice and a limited quantity of agricultural materials.
The new Convention has fewer members than its predecessor. The UK, Denmark and Norway have declined to join the new Convention. In addition, Sweden has decided to reduce its contribution from 54,000 metric tons to 35,000 tons. However, the overall effect of these changes is only marginal with the total annual contributions being reduced by 6.7 per cent (285,000 tons) from 4,259,000 metric tons to 3,974,000 tons. Several minor changes have also been incorporated in the new Convention. A new clause provides that in exceptional cases, and on request, limited quantities of rice may be included in the programme. Also, sales on credit terms of 20 years or more will be eligible to be counted against aid commitments provided that maximum use is made of the other eligible forms of aid such as grants and sales for non-transferable local currency. There is no doubt that the need for food aid will continue well into the present decade, particularly in those parts of Asia adjacent to Australia. In these circumstances, the re-negotiation of this aid programme is a timely development emphasising as it does the common responsibility of affluent countries to share the burden of food aid. The new agreement provides for continued international co-operation in the commercial marketing of wheat and for a continued high level of food aid to developing countries. I am advised that it is the most satisfactory agreement that is capable of negotiation at this point of time. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
– I ask for leave to propose a motion relating to the Privileges Committee.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to:
That the Senate authorise the Chairman of the Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia to appear before the Privileges Committee to answer such questions and to produce such documents as the Committee directs or requires.
Debate resumed from 29 April (vide page 1176), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In his very long speech Senator O’Byrne tried to classify young men into two types - the goodies and the baddies. The goodies were those who demonstrate and the baddies were what he termed the good time boys, the privileged Who want to make hay while the sun shines, and so on. I think this is an unfair comment, an unjust comment and an untrue comment. This was a classification which was so simple as to be ludicrous. The fact is that a minority of young men demonstrate, and the ones that do are in the main those who cannot stand up to the pressures of modern life. Harry Stack Sullivan- whoever he may be I am not sure - made a true analysis of this type of person. He said:
That there is some:hing wrong with the world is proved by the fact that there is something wrong with me, which they have done to me.
That sounds like the type of young man whom Senator O’Byrne regards as the ideal type. 1 put to the Senate that in fact the great majority of young men and women are not good time young mcn and women. They are young people who think seriously of the world today and try lo do something constructive about it. They are not the destructive element which Senator O’Byrne sees as being the goodies, the ones who want to tear down what they do not understand but do not know what to build in its place.
For my part, I believe that the great majority of young people today are magnificent types. They are not good time boys; they are serious minded people. If they do not demonstrate it is not because they are not thinking. They have too much sense to hold up silly placards and shout stupid slogans - something any mug can do - which mean nothing and make no impression upon anybody. Labor Party supporters have a strange morality. Senator O’Byrne spoke about morality. It could best be described as a selective morality, just as Labor Party supporters have a selective conscience. This morality is one that attacks the South Africans over apartheid. They see a moral wrong in racial discrimination. I do not object to that because I see a moral wrong in racial discrimination. But the same people do not attack the Russians for their racial discrimination against the Jews, a most blatant and brutal type of racial discrimination. They do not object when the Russian soccer team or the Russian ballet comes to Australia, and I do not believe they should. This is the strange selective morality that Labor Party supporters have.
They select the South Africans but they do not select the Russians. They do not select many other countries in the world, which we could name one by one, which practice a policy of the most blatant racial discrimination whether it be against the Indians, the Chinese or some other race. It is the principle we are talking about, but the principle do’es not matter in these cases. All that the Labor Party is interested in is the question of South Africa. I do not support apartheid. I try to understand the position of South Africans but if I am to oppose-
– We do not support South Africa.
– That is what I am saying; you have a selective morality. If I am opposing the South Africans and refusing to play sport against them, then with equal measure I must oppose Russia and every other country in the world that practices racial discrimination; and there are many of them. In fact, we would have relations with very few countries in the world if this were the case and this morality of the Labor Party was applied universally and not on a selective basis. Now we do not mind playing ping pong with China. Neither do I, but the Chinese have murdered millions of their own citizens. We do not mind sending a ping pong team there or inviting a Chinese ping pong team to Australia. Neither do I.
I believe it is a good thing that Australians have been meeting with Chinese and I would have no objection to the People’s Republic of China sending a team to play ping pong against Australia. So I do not possess this selective ‘morality. I believe it is all or nothing. This strange morality extends to a part of this Bill which deals with the protection of diplomats. If the Russian Embassy is attacked the Labour Party wants to know all about it, and with perfect justification. If the Yugoslav Embassy is attacked we have questions and speeches in this place, and correctly so because they are entitled to protection. But if the United States Consulate in Melbourne is attacked by a mob of hoodlums there is not a question from the Labor Party. Those hoodlums are not condemned. If the Philippines Embassy is attacked, as it was the other day, not a question comes from the Labor Party. If the South African diplomats are harassed, attacked and abused there is not a question from the Labor Party. Again we see a selective morality and a selective conscience on the part of the Labor Party. I believe that this is a matter which the Labor Party should start thinking about, although probably not all members of the Labor Party support this type of morality.
– How about saying something sensible.
– If the honourable senator does not find it sensible I would be very delighted to hear him speaking some time about his particular type of morality. That is all I want to hear because he cannot deny the truth of what I am saying. I now turn to the question of demonstrations and dissent. I notice that Senator Murphy, while speaking in the debate on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, said:
This Bill is an onslaught upon the rights of freedom of speech and of peaceable assembly in this country. It is in line with a number of other attempts to erode civil liberties in our community.
That is a blatant untruth. This Bill does not deny the right of dissent or the right to demonstrate. Nor do I not deny the right of dissent or the right to demonstrate. Indeed, it is a fundamental right of every person to disagree with the Government of the day, but there are other rights in the community. Freedom is not total, nor is freedom absolute. Freedom must be granted within the framework of the law.
Everybody has a right to freedom. People have the right to move about the streets on their own business without undue inconvenience or interference. People have the right to carry on their business without undue interference or inconvenience. This is a right to which every person in the community is entitled. Senator Wheeldon in his speech on the Bill - if it could be called a speech, and I thought Senator Hannan dealt with it pretty effectively - concluded by saying:
The Australian Labor Party says that the primary right is the right for people to demonstrate and the right of free assembly, not the right of those people who object to it.
I think that should be noted. In other words, Senator Wheeldon recognises only one right. He does not recognise the right of the citizens of this country to move about on their daily business freely and without undue interference. He recognises only the right of those who wish, for their own purposes, to sit on streets in a most stupid way to block traffic and to prevent people going about their lawful business. But it is strange enough that he says that the Australian Labor Party recognises this right and this right only. I have in front of me a speech on this Bill made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam. He obviously does not recognise this right despite what Senator Wheeldon said because at page 1579 of Hansard he is reported in this way:
There can be no doubt that there have been some contemptible and cowardly invasions of Commonwealth premises in Sydney and Melbourne. Nobody would condone those.
So he does not recognise the sole right of people to demonstrate. He continued:
The people who participated in those invasions, those threats, those demonstrations, those sit-ins should have been brought to trial. Why were they not brought to trial?
Obviously the Leader of the Opposition in another place docs not agree with Senator Wheeldon.
– Did he include Dr Cairns in those remarks?
– No. I think there is a certain degree of agreement between Dr Cairns and Senator Wheeldon. I want to refer to one other very notable authority who was quoted in the second reading speech of Senator Wright who represents the Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen).
It is the right honourable Lord Shawcross, Q.C., a former Labour Attorney-General of the United Kingdom, and a very distinguished member of Parliament and of his profession. In 1966, in an article which I think is worth quoting again, Lord Shawcross said: . . the existence of rights depends upon the establishment of related obligations and neither can exist without the co-existence of the other.
It is quite obvious that if Senator Wheeldon is speaking for the Australian Labor Party - I do not accept that he is because I would like to think that many of my friends in the Labor Party would not adopt the same attitude but rather would adopt that of Mr Whitlam and Lord Shawcross - then he is acknowledging only one right and that is the right of anarchy. If there are no laws, if people have the right to intimidate those with whom they disagree, to interfere with the rights of others to go about their work or pleasure in freedom, without threats of violence or actual violence, this is anarchy- People who advocate this policy in fact are advocating anarchy. This would threaten the very fabric of our society. I repeat that noone has the right of absolute freedom. I believe that in any society there must be restrictions in order to protect the rights and liberties of others. There cannot be rights without obligations.
I wish to speak only briefly tonight because I believe that this Bill has been debated ad nauseam. There is a responsibility on government to draw a sensible balance - a balance that protects the right of dissent. I defy anybody to say that I or any other honourable senator on this side of the chamber does not protect the right of dissent. But this right cannot be absolute. Our citizens have the right to go about their lawful business. I believe that this Bill protects both sides. The Australian Labor Party has a clear responsibility to choose whether it prefers the present diverse laws of the Commonwealth, which provide extremely heavy penalties for some of the offences covered in this Bill - laws about which there is a great deal of confusion - or a law which is sensible and clear. Mr Whitlam referred to the Commonwealth Crimes Act as being a law under which action could be taken, particularly in the. cases he quoted. I understood always that the Australian Labor Party was not very happy about the Commonwealth Crimes Act.
– You are correct.
- Mr Whitlam said that action should be taken under the Commonwealth Crimes Act so the honourable senator had better talk to him about that, not to me.
– That is not what he said.
– Yes, he did. The honourable senator read his speech. He said:
There is ample provision under the Commonwealth Crimes Act - there has been for nearly 60 years - for prosecution of persons causing damage to Commonwealth property . .
And so on. In fact he was advocating that action should be taken under the Commonwealth Crimes Act.’
In conclusion I put it to members of the Australian Labor Party that it is all very well to say that there is an absolute right of dissent and an absolute right of demonstration. But I wonder what would happen if Senator Wheeldon’s office or Senator Cavanagh’? office were invaded by a mob df hoodlums, dressed iri. brown shirts, wearing brown belts, with swastikas on their arms, who then proceeded to smash up the furniture, to threaten and to intimidate their secretaries, and to go through their offices, their documents and so on. I believe they would protest as they have already protested in this place about the activities of these stupid people.
– That is a reflection on the Victorian court.
– Do not start talking about Victoria. I am putting a question which the honourable senator may answer if he likes. If Senator Mulvihill applauds the actions of those individuals who broke into the Commonwealth offices .in Melbourne recently - some of his colleagues supported them - then where does he stand if a mob of hoodlums in brown shirts and wearing swastikas breaks into his office and proceeds to smash it up and to work him over? It would be a different story. He would then demand the right of protection. I come back to where I started, the question of selective morality and selective conscience. The Labor Part)’ cannot have it both ways. There has to be a right of protection avail able to individuals against this type of conduct by some people, whether they are from the right, the left or the middle. There has to be one law which covers all people. Because of the growth of these extreme elements on both sides, the Government has a right and an obligation to ensure that the rights pf the citizens of this country are protected. At the same time it has to strike a sensible balance to ensure that those who wish to dissent and those who wish to demonstrate are protected and given that right so long as this does not mean that they interfere with the rights and freedoms of others. I believe that this is the cardinal point. I believe that this legislation strikes this sensible balance. It does not erode freedom, it does not erode the liberties of people or the right to demonstrate, but it lays down the rules. We all have to live within the rules laid down by the law. I see nothing wrong with that. The alternative is . anarchy arid this, I repeat, would strike at the very fabric of our society. With those very brief comments I support the Bill and commend it to the Senate.
– Mr President, previously I asked for leave to continue my remarks. I made a few remarks after the second reading speech by the Minister for Works. (Senator Wright). I am not sure of the position. . Probably I should have been the next speaker in the debate. I am not sure whether I need leave but I ask for leave to continue- my remarks now.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Leave is granted.
- Mr President, I repeat that I regard’ this Bill as an onslaught on the freedoms of the people. It is part of a series of erosions and whittling away of the freedom of the people which has occurred in this country in recent times. I referred to this in 1967 at the twenty-seventh Commonwealth conference of the Australian Labor Party. I then indicated that it was an error to think that the only changes we would have to make were changes in the economic structure. I said that equally important and indispensable were changes in the Constitution and law to enlarge personal freedom and to ensure democratic procedures. Unless we do this our society inevitable will degenerate into Fascism or Communism.
The passage of time since then has indicated the truth of what I had to say. It was apparent then - and it is now and it always has been - that every generation has to fight over and over again the battle for our fundamental civil rights and liberties. This generation has to do that. We tend to think that our civil rights are beyond question. In recent times, however, almost every one of our fundamental rights and liberties has been trampled on, whittled away, challenged or ignored in Australia. We have had, over the years, attacks on freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of movement. Perhaps the Senate may be reminded that not so long ago each one of these freedoms was denied bv the Queensland Government during the Mount Isa affair. Even the right of a man to rejoin his own family was denied by action of the Queensland Government. We know that our Aboriginals have for a long time suffered encroachment on their personal freedom. I think that that encroachment is being removed and their position is being improved. But in the rest of the community we have had examples again and again such as the Waddington case where the Returned Services League attempted to deny freedom to express political beliefs. Amendments were made to the Crimes Act which reversed the traditional onus of proof. The amendments introduced offences in vague and general terms. We have had the breaking down of trial by jury. That has been under attack not only in civil cases where the right of people to participate in the judicial process is being eroded but also in criminal matters where again and again in this Parliament there have been attempts to take away the traditional right of trial by jury in serious criminal matters and to substitute a trial summarily: that is by a magistrate. For the most part the Senate has been able to defeat those attempts but on occasions they have succeeded.
We know that in New Guinea trial by jury in criminal matters has been swept away, even in capital cases. It is a commentary on what is happening in this country that when I mentioned to the then
Attorney-General of this Commonwealth that trial by jury had been taken away by ordinance even in the most serious matters which were known as capital offences where lengthy imprisonment was involved he could not credit it. He said he could not believe that that had been done. He was most astonished to find that it could be done. Certainly in limited cases it probably involved the Europeans. The way to meet that situation was not by extending the right to trial by jury but by sweeping it away altogether. We know what has happened to habeas corpus. It has been whittled down. The safeguards have been taken away. The traditional right was stated in the great case of Cox and Hakes in England just before the turn of the century. It was put on a twin basis. The citizen could go from one judge to another and also there was no appeal from a release on an application for habeas corpus. Both of those rights have been swept away in modern times, one by judicial decision and the other - in New South Wales anyway - by a schedule to an amendment to the Supreme Court Procedure Act which was slipped through without the knowledge of the lawyers and those who would be concerned. Sometimes this is the way in which the liberties of the people are taken away.
The Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act was designed to protect the privacy of the individual but it has failed to do so. We know that in various States evidence has been given in court cases where the police authorities of the State have intercepted telephone conversations. As far as I know no action has ever been taken to deal with these situations. On the face of them they seem to be clearly against the authority of the Federal Act. We know that in many other respects there have been endeavours to break down the rights of the people, from cases like the Interstate Parcel Express Co. Ltd case to the use of instruments in writing to avoid control by this Parliament of what is done by the bureaucracy. Outside all these rights there are continuing attempts by State and Federal authorities to suppress the right of peaceful dissent. We know that Ministers will say that there is a right to dissent, that they recognise that right and that one can exercise that right. We hear honourable senators saying that there must be equity before the law, that one has a right to express dissent but that one must do it in such a way so as not to break the law.
Everyone has an equal right to dissent. The Government says: ‘We are not preventing you from putting your point of view through the proper channels’. What are the proper channels? Honourable senators opposite may say: ‘The proper channels are the television, the newspapers and the radio. But we will not let you parade with banners through the streets. We will enact laws which will effectively present you from demonstrating in the streets.’ How idle it is to say to those who want to express dissent against Government action that they can use equally with the Government and with those who support the Government the radio, television and the news media. It is known that the people who have been standing outside Parliament House for weeks protesting against the Vietnam war and who want to go peaceably through the streets of the capital cities do not own the television stations, the newspapers or the radio stations. Their avenues of expressing their peaceable dissent are extremely limited indeed. In any decent society people ought to be able to use public places for expressing their dissent. When those who aTe interested in the law look at the constitutional law in the great collection of United States law, the corpus juris secundum, it states:
Streets, parks, and other public places are proper places tor the exercise of freedom of communicating information and disseminating opinion, and, although states and municipalities may appropriately regulate the privilege to the public interest, they may not unduly burden or proscribe its employment in such public places.
One of the most important considerations which will affect us in looking at this Bill is whether the right of the people to peaceable assembly is protected. Honourable senators interjecting are indicating that there should be a right to dissent, to use the public places and to use streets. If this is to be regulated it ought to be regulated reasonably. Those people who do not own the television stations, the radio stations, the Press and other means of mass communication ought to have a means to get their dissenting views across to the people. Our principle objection to this Bill is that lt. does not provide for that to happen. What it does is to provide in a negative sort of way that people shall not do this that or the other, that they shall not trespass, that they shall not stay in a place after a police sergeant has said to disperse and that they shall not do all sorts , of other things. Nowhere in the Bill does it say that it shall not be an offence for people peaceably to assemble and, whatever is done by the authorities, that it shall be a defence for a citizen to prove to the satisfaction of a court’ that he intended to engage in no violence.
-Would that not be’ a general principle of law?
- Senator James McClelland and other honourable senators have carefully pointed to the provisions against sedition in the Crimes Act. Honourable senators ought to be familiar with those provisions. Because of the grave dangers attendant upon entering into the area of freedom of expression the Bill should include positive protection to ensure that such great rights are not encroached upon. It is not enough to say: ‘You shall not do this’ and ‘you shall not do that’, the Bill should include protection for people who are acting peaceably and properly. The Bill does not include such protection. Instead it is concerned with the negative aspects. It is devoted to what a person may not do and what he can be prevented from doing, and how assemblies can be dispersed. Why is there no provision, in the Bill relating to the right of a person peaceably to assemble and to put his point of view? .
The Bill contains the provision that a police sergeant or a police officer of superior rank may disperse1 assemblies. It contains no reference to a code under which people will be entitled to assemble, or restrictions or guidelines as to when an assembly is not to be dispersed. From ancient times one of .the great rights of the citizen that he has had to assert constantly against the executive government is the right to peaceable assembly, as well as the right to freedom of speech. The executive government has always had a vested interest in preventing dissent and in keeping down peaceable assembly. Every time people start to express dissent in numbers, every time thousands of citizens want to go through the streets to protest, that is an action which starts to shake the executive government in its control of affairs. Naturally, the executive government irrespective of its colour or country wants to find ways and means of suppressing dissent and ways to disperse assemblies.
There may be dissent about the war in Vietnam. There may be demonstrations such as those about the reform Bills in Great Britain where tremendous riots occurred because the people were demanding electoral reform - the right of representation. Dissent was expressed at the Eureka Stockade. Whatever form the dissent may take, the fact is that people will want to protest against injustice and the authorities will want to stop them. Unless there are laws to allow the people to exercise their right of protest the executive government will use every means available to it to see that they do not protest, that they do not express dissent and that they do not assemble peaceably or otherwise. The Government has written into this Bill a charter under which it may easily ensure suppression of the right to dissent, to assemble and to express protest. At the founding of the United States of America, shortly after the Constitution was adopted, the people put into it Article 1 which provides that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the Press or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
– Yes. And- Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceable assembly and association. That is designed to be the standard of men everywhere. We know that in this country it is not the standard. There are all sorts of State laws to confine, restrict and hamper the right of the people peaceably to assemble; the right of people to use the public places, to use the streets to express their dissent.
– The streets are not for expressing dissent. There are other places for that. The streets are for traffic.
– It is interesting to hear what Senator Little says. He now chimes in to deny the proposition that I thought he and his Party agreed with when I read it out of the corpus juris a few minutes ago. I put it that the streets are proper places - subject to some regulation so that the use of the streets is reasonable - for the expression of dissent. They are not merely for traffic, as Senator Little would say.
– The proper use of the streets.
– Yes, but for the expression of dissent and peaceable assembly. Senator Little would say that nothing but traffic should go through the streets, that the streets and the public places are no longer to be used by the people peaceably to assemble and to express their dissent.
– How can they peaceably assemble in the streets when they defy the law by being there - sitting in the middle of the streets at a time when traffic is moving?
– I suppose that the question as the honourable senator originally put it answers a lot of points. How can people peaceably assemble in the streets, he asks, when they defy the law. The passage of this Bill will mean that the people will not be able peaceably to assemble in the streets without defying the law. The Bill is aimed at achieving that very object. Clause 4 of the Bill includes a definition of ‘assembly’, so that it will cover certain conduct, lt is certainly expressed in an extremely vague way, and covers conduct in connection with a common purpose of all or any of the persons in an assembly. Some extraordinary provisions are included in other parts of the Bill. They are aimed at preventing trespass on premises in a territory. They are not even expressed to cover trespass knowingly performed. It will be a simple offence, irrespective of whether the land involved is enclosed.
It is easy to see that provisions such as those are aimed not only at assemblies and demonstrations but are also clearly designed and capable of being used in other circumstances. I refer, for example, to industrial affairs, or the shifting of Aboriginals from tribal lands in the Northern Territory. Some of the provisions of the Bill are not even concerned with demonstrations or assemblies. I invite honourable senators who have been interjecting so fiercely to tell me the purpose of including those provisions in a Bill, the heading of which refers to public order in certain Territories of the Commonwealth. We have the introduction of vague and general expressions, such as ‘behaving in an insulting manner’, which departs from the traditional terms ‘offensive’ or ‘threatening’. We see the use of the word ‘insulting’ which may be capable of all sorts of extensions under the law. There are departures from the long established rules as to arrest in the Territories, such as in clause 22 of the Bill. Where is the justification for departing from what has been the rule for so many years under the Crimes Act, namely, that a person is not to be arrested without a warrant unless the arresting person is satisfied that proceedings against the person by summons would not be effective?
The Bill is a collection of provisions to enable these rights which we have and of which we ought to be jealous to be swept away. It was part of the great law and order campaign which has not been pursued with the vigour with which it was heralded. It was a campaign by which the Government thought it could stir up public opinion to win an election. It is no longer doing that.’ What it is doing is what it did with the Crimes Act: It is introducing provisions which are so severe that I believe they will not be greatly used. They will be like the Crimes Act provisions which were designed to deter public servants by leaving them in complete doubt as to what their rights were. The public servants, because they do not know what the law is, are afraid to criticise in areas where they ought to be criticising. They do not know the limits of where they stand. This Government does not want to enforce the provisions of the Act; it does not want to institute any prosecutions under the Crimes Act because the limits might then become known by judicial decision, and it is better to leave people in fear and uncertainty because they do not know what their rights are.
That is the philosophy of the Government, and I believe that it is the philosophy behind this Bill. I do not think there will be much use of it, because I do not think the temper of the people in 1971 or in the next few years will be such as to tolerate it. It is like the imprisonment of those 5 women - that disgraceful affair in Victoria. When Dr Cairns and others went in after the week-end, when the women were released, in similar circumstances, the Government wilted. It did not want to prosecute people because it was afraid of the public reaction. If the Government puts up measures like this, this is all it will get. The people will not tolerate being pushed about in this community, and all the Government will be able to do is do as it did with the Crimes Act, which is to try to use it as a deterrent to frighten people. That is no way for the law to be. It ought not to be so vague and uncertain that it leaves the right peaceable assembly to be determined not according to whether there was some overt breach of the law in the sense of violence but on the say-so of some police officer. Are the great rights of the people to be dependent on this?
– But surely they would have to prosecute if there was a clear breach of the Act. …
– We have seen that ‘ the Government has been reluctant to prosecute. This is another element of this Bill that is so dangerous. In the great constitutional struggles iri Great Britain, one of the most important features df the complaints by those opposed to the executive government was that they were against its power to dispense with laws. The complaint was that the executive government had taken it upon itself again and again to say: ‘We will dispense with this law either generally or in respect of certain persons’. One of the features of this Government’s legislation - we see it coming in again and again and it is in this Bill - is that prosecutions cannot be commenced except with the consent of the Attorney-General.
– Are you against that?
– I am against it because at least -the traditional view in our community is that, certainly in regard to summary offences - and a great deal of the Bill deals with summary, offences - any citizen should be able to invoke the law against any other citizen. If someone is violent, as is covered by this Bill, and if he does damage to a person or property, any citizen ought to be able to invoke the law and it ought not to depend on the consent of the Attorney-General.
– So this is a restraining aspect, is it?
– No; this is an aspect which ought not to be in our law, yet it is coming more and more into our law. This Government is introducing laws and then saying that they can be invoked only when it says they will be invoked. However, that is not law. The Government is asking for law and order. The rule of law means that the law ought to be applied to everyone. Why should there be a limitation in matters such as this to the effect that the law is invoked only when the Attorney-General decides that it will be invoked?
I predict to this Senate that we will see more and more of this, as we have seen in the past. The Government brings in bad laws and then excuses them to us by saying: ‘There will not be any abuse of these provisions, and in cases in which we do not think there is any abuse of them the. Attorney-General will not consent to a prosecution’. The Government then goes outside and plays ducks and drakes with the law. Tn the case of summary matters the law ought to be able to be invoked by any citizen against any other citizen, as is the general rule in summary offences.
– But ia a proper case, I presume you would agree.
– If it is not a proper case it will be dismissed by the courts. Why should there be this limitation? Let us suppose that under this Bill, or any other of the collection of Bills brought in in recent times, Senator Rae feels that an offence has been committed and he wants to prosecute. Why should he not be entitled to do that?
– But a citizen cannot prosecute on indictment, can he?
– I am just as familiar as is the honourable senator with the fact that in indictable matters the Crown has the privilege to come in and take over the proceedings. However, in the case of summary offences, a large number of which are dealt with in this Bill, the traditional rule in our law has been that it is a proceeding between citizen and citizen; yet this has been broken down in a series of enactments. This ought not to be done. It is a departure from the rule of law that the right to prosecute in such matters depends on the consent of the AttorneyGeneral. It is a break-down in the rule of law when the rights of the people, whether to freedom of speech or freedom peace ably to assemble, are to depend on conditions of dispersal, such as we see in this Bill. There is nothing in this provision which protects the right of the citizen peaceably to assemble. Is it too much when we say that there ought to be written into this Bill something like what is in the Crimes Act, namely, that a person’s right peaceably to assemble or to carry on a procession without violence, will be protected, even if the onus were put on him that he had to show that he had a peaceable intention, committed no violence, intended to commit no violence and intended to break no such law?
Why is there nothing in the Bill which protects him? I do not think any onus should be on him. I agree that there has been some cleaning up of old legislation, but it seems to me that, apart from this, this is an incursion on the freedom of the people. The Government should have the attitude of having . a proper balance, between the right of people to assemble and the right of other people not to be harassed or done violence to. The Opposition agrees that the rights of the community should be protected and that people, should not be harassed and subjected to violence; but there should be a balance and that balance is strongly against the right of peaceful assembly and free expression in this community. If there had been an intention to preserve these rights that intention could have been written into this Bill, but it was not written into it. For these reasons, and also because of the specific objections the Opposition has to some of the provisions in this Bill, the Opposition will oppose the Bill at every stage. If the motion that the Bill be read a second time is passed I intend to move a motion to the effect that the Bill be referred to a select committee of senators appointed to inquire into the specific provisions of this Bill because, from any point of view-
– Could the Leader of the Opposition borrow some American senators because we are getting a bit short in this chamber?
– I would be very pleased if we could obtain some assistance or advice from senators of the quality found in the American Senate. I should think that we would be only too pleased to receive assistance or advice from members of that great body. I think it is ohe of the finest legislative assemblies in the world. I for one would be extremely grateful for any advice or assistance that came from that quarter. The Opposition opposes this Bill.
– This Bill is entitled the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill. It is aptly titled. It is a Bill which promises public order and protects individual rights. This always has been and always will be the main function of government in a free society. I draw the attention of the Senate to what Senator Rae said in a speech which I think could be read with advantage by every honourable senator. Senator Rae referred to the platform of the Labour Party in Great Britain which said in its 1970 manifesto that it is a first duty of government to protect the citizen against violence, intimidations and crime. That is what this Bill does. It preserves the right of assembly, embodies freedom of speech and association and ensures that those who feel the need to give expression to a right to demonstrate and to dissent can do so. It will indicate that liberty may not degenerate into licence, that violence may not masquerade under the cloak of dissent and that the rights of the ordinary law abiding citizen will be protected in his person and property. This Bill defines rights, preserves liberties and protects those who have a claim upon the nation for its protection.
We have heard a tirade of abuse from members of the Opposition. The attacks which have been made are misleading, exaggerated and, in some respects wholly inaccurate in foundation. Members of the Opposition are living in a realm of fantasy and self delusion. Worse than that, there are some members of the Opposition who are engaging in a smear campaign of allegations about illiberal, undemocratic and authoritarian features of this Bill. I deny that there are any such things in this Bill. Allegations that there are such things must create some disquiet in the community. I deplore practices and tactics of that character which seek political advantage. They do little credit to those who resort to them.
I listened with interest to what Senator Murphy had to say. I was surprised by the statements of a sweeping and unjustified character that he made. He said that the Bill was an onslaught upon the rights of freedom of speech. Nowhere in this Bill is there any reference to freedom of speech and nowhere does it prevent an individual from saying what he has to say. It cannot, on any reasonable interpretation of the Bill, be regarded as a limitation of any description on anybody’s right to say what he pleases. Senator Murphy said that this Bill was an onslaught upon the right of peaceful assembly, but he failed to indicate where there was any such onslaught. He. failed to point to any provision of this Bill that prevents people from engaging in peaceable assembly. Senator Murphy talked about the liberties of the people being swept away. That language might have been suitably addressed to the governments of 200 years ago and it might have been suitably addressed to the government of his antecedents when we were fighting a war, but it cannot be said to have any validity or basis in this day and age. The liberties of the people are not being swept away. One has only to observe the society in which we live to see that liberty abounds in this country as it abounds in few other countries in the world.
What we must be concerned to ensure is that liberty does not degenerate into licence and that the needs of public order, the preservation of the rights of others and the fair and efficient administration of justice shall, from time to time, permit actions to be taken which change laws that have their sole justication in their antiquity. Essentially we are a free country. We have the right of free assembly, we have the right of free association and, above all, we have the right of free speech. I challenge anybody in this country to show where the right of free speech has been denied to anybody. We know it exists and we know we can exercise it ourselves.
Senator Murphy referred in somewhat disparaging terms to clause 8 of the Bill, which gives a power to disperse. I challenge anybody to say that there is anything wrong with a provision which says that where there is an assembly consisting of 12 or more people and the persons taking part in the assembly have conducted themselves in a way that has caused a member of the police force of the rank of sergeant or above reasonably to apprehend that the assembly will be carried on in a manner involving unlawful physical violence to persons or unlawful damage to property or that this assembly is being carried on in a manner actually involving such unlawful violence or damage, the police officer should not require the people in that assembly to disperse. What is unreasonable about that? I should have thought that it would be at the very bastion of our own rights of personal freedom and personal property, yet this clause is castigated as a provision which is offensive to a democratic society. On the contrary, it is provisions like that which, I believe, are the very foundation of the protection of the liberties of us all. The justification for it being in this measure is that similar provisions which have existed down through the ages lack the clarity of expression which ought to be found in legislation in the 1970s. I can only suppose that if Senator Murphy sees in that clause something which is sweeping away the liberties of the people he is not reading as clearly as he should be reading what these provisions really mean.
What does this Bill seek to do? It is a Bill which, as has been said, seeks to repeal somewhat archaic Acts; it seeks to revise certain penalties and it seeks to mitigate some of the severities of old laws. It also seeks to clarify the law by indicating that there are certain limits beyond which a person, in expressing his right to demonstrate and his freedom to dissent, may not go. It sets out, in short, that a person who offends in particular ways will be guilty of an offence. The people who will be guilty of offences will be those who, as members of a group, conduct themselves in such a way as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of likely unlawful physical violence or unlawful damage. A person will be guilty of an offence if, as a member of an assembly or a group, he causes - wilfully and without any lawful excuse - actual bodily harm to a person or some physical damage. A person will be guilty of an offence if, in an assembly where there is either actual violence or damage to property occurring, or in the judgment of a police officer a reasonable apprehension that such violence or damage will occur, he refuses to disperse when called upon to do so.
A person will be guilty of an offence if he engages in unreasonable obstruction, which is clearly defined and which raises for consideration an objective criteria upon which the courts can pass judgment as to whether there was a reasonable basis for alleging that there was an unreasonable obstruction. A person is guilty of an offence if, while in an assembly, he has in his possession, uses, throws or discharges a weapon, missile or some repulsive object or substance. Yet to pass a law suggesting that persons should not behave in such a way is apparently, in the language of Senator Murphy, sweeping away the liberties of the citizen. I would think that one of the liberties of citizens would be to have a law castigating and imposing penalties on people who engage in that ‘freedom’ in any society. A person who trespasses on another person’s land or premises, quite properly, should be guilty of an offence.
– Senator Murphy asks why should a person who trespasses on another person’s property or premises be guilty of an offence. I believe that Senator Murphy would regard his house as something which is peculiar to himself. I believe that he would regard himself as entitled to the privacy of his house. I have heard members of the Opposition arguing constantly in this chamber that the States should not have the right without warrant, or just because some official desires to do so, to enter into another person’s property. Why? Because it is said that an Englishman’s home is his castle. That applies to an Australian widow or to any Australian. In those circumstances a person should not be allowed to trespass on another person’s land or premises.
– Why were the words house’, ‘home’ or ‘dwelling* not inserted if the Government wanted to restrict the provisions of the Bill in that way? It is not restricted to a dwelling.
– I would have thought that Senator Murphy was merely raising a matter of language because I would have thought that ‘house’ would have been comprehended within the expression ‘land or premises’. A person who behaves in a violent or disorderly way and who refuses, when asked, to leave
Commonwealth premises is guilty of an offence. Persons who violently or who are reasonably believed to be likely violently to assault, harass and insult diplomats and consular officials shall be guilty of an offence. These matters to which I have referred are the substance of the matters which this Bill makes offences. I feel that any person who views this subject objectively could not with credence accept that these matters represent laws which should not be enacted. I believe that persons are entitled to certain freedoms and are equally entitled to certain protections. The balance with which the Bill is concerned is a balance which ensures that people do not allow their freedom to become a matter of excess which denies the reasonable rights of others.
As has been said, this Bill does, in summary, 4 things. In the first place, the public interest requites that the conduct of people assembling for a common purpose shall not. give rise to’ violence or to any reasonable apprehension - of violence. Secondly, the public interest requires that people who assemble in public places for a common purpose shall conduct themselves so as not to cause unreasonable obstruction to others. Thirdly, the public interest requires that lawful occupiers of land and premises shall be protected from intrusions upon their peaceable occupation. Fourthly, the public interest requires that the proprieties of international discourse should be preserved. In the course of this debate we have heard a number of statements to which I desire, by way of reply, to refer. Senator Wheeldon was the first speaker for the Opposition. I say, with no personal disrespect to him, that his was an intemperate speech, particularly when he said:
The Australian Labor Party says that the primary right is the right for people to demonstrate and the right of free assembly, not the rights of those people who object to it.
I suggest that to assert that the primary right is the right to demonstrate and to couple that type of assertion with a justification of opposition to this measure and a wholesale castigation of its provisions is to put the right to demonstrate into a right to do what one likes. I think it is surprising that the Party which would seek to be the government of this country should have as its major spokesman on this measure a person who puts that proposition.
– Have you read the first amendment to the United States Constitution?
– I have read with interest not only what Senator Wheeldon said but also the sources to which he referred and which he quoted in his speech. Tonight I have referred to precisely what he said. In effect he is asserting the rights of a minority to do what it pleases so that it may in effect use violence, that it may give rise to an apprehension on the part of others that violence will be engaged in and in effect, if it pleases, to damage property. This is what the Bill is designed to prevent and the Opposition’s attack is designed to prevent these clauses being enacted. I noted that Senator Wheeldon referred to the decision of Mr Justice Black in the case of Gregory v. The City of Chicago. I thought that he might have referred. to a greater part of what Mr Justice Black said because [ have seldom heard expressed words which more aptly convey what I feel is the thinking of Australians and which is embodied in this Bill than what Mr Justice Black said. I ask the Senate to bear with me briefly while I quote what His Honour said. His Honour said:
Were the authority of government so trifling as to permit anyone with a complaint to have the vast power to do anything he pleased, wherever, he pleased, and whenever he pleased, our customs and our habits of conduct, social, political, economic, ethical, and religious, would all be wiped out, and become no more than relics of a gone but not forgotten past. Churches would be compelled to welcome into their buildings invaders who came but to scoff and jeer: streets and highways and public buildings would cease to be available for the purposes for which they were constructed and dedicated whenever demonstrators and picketers wanted to use them for their own purposes. And perhaps worse than all other changes, homes, the sacred retreat to which families repair for their privacy and their daily way of living, would have to have their doors thrown open to all who desired to convert the occupants to new views, new morals, and a new way of life. Men and women who hold public office would be compelled, simply because they did hold public office, to lose the comforts and privacy of an unpicketed home. I believe that our Constitution, written for the ages, to endure except as changed in the manner it provides, did not create a government with such monumental weaknesses. Speech and press are, of course, to be free, so that public matters can be discussed with impunity. But picketing and demonstrating can be regulated like other conduct of men. I believe that the homes of men, sometimes the last citadel of the tired, the weary, and the sick, can be protected by government from noisy, marching, tramping, threatening picketers and demonstrators bent on filling the minds of men, women, and children with fears of the unknown.
That is what Mr Justice Black said, whom Senator Wheeldon called in aid for his own purposes by extracting one small section of his speech and leaving aside the pith of what a very great man said. The sentiments of Mr Justice Black are the sentiments of all thinking Australians because what he said reflects the aspirations of those who want to live in peace and yet give to their neighbours the right to do as they please, seeking only that they be left in peace from the excesses of their neighbours’ engagements.
I refer next to what Senator James McClelland said. With others, I compliment the honourable senator on a speech which was considered, which was learned and which was listened to with respect. I am sure that in the Senate we will hear many, useful speeches from Senator James McClelland. Although I respect the quality of what he said, I do not agree with much of .what he said. I do not think it is correct to equate what this Bill deals with with the crowds who surround the Pope or the Queen or who engage in the various festivals to which he referred. He said that some laws on public assembly and demonstration were too wide and too vague. I think that statement leads to a consequence that laws which are too wide and too vague ought to be made more precise. . That, I believe, is what this Bill does. It is a step in the right direction. I was a little surprised that he did not accept the consequences of his own premise. He said that he believed in peaceable assembly and he mentioned that violent demonstrations should not be tolerated. I think that this Bill achieves that.
One other point of substance made by Senator James McClelland was the suggestion that there are other provisions which deal adequately with the situations for which this Bill is being enacted. He said:
Without going into any detail I would merely draw the attention of honourable senators to sections 29, 30k and 89 of the Crimes Act. As far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, there is, of course, ample power to deal with sit-ins in section 24b of the Police Offences Ordinance.
I have looked at these provisions and I recognise that there is force in these provisions of the Crimes Act, but I do not believe that they deal, except in a most minute way, with the matters concerned in this legislation. If one looks at the provisions of the Crimes Act to which Senator James McClelland referred and takes, for instance, section 29, one finds that that is a provision which simply says:
Any person who wilfully and unlawfully destroys or damages any property, whether real or personal, belonging to the Commonwealth or to any public authority under the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.
That is one provision dealing only with Commonwealth property. If we look at section 30K we find again that this is a provision of considerable restriction. This section makes it an offence to obstruct or hinder the performance of services. The section contains about 6 sub-clauses, all of which are designed to prevent a person, by violence, threat or- intimidation, and without reasonable cause or excuse, from boycotting or threatening to boycott the performance of Commonwealth services by Commonwealth officers, or from obstructing or hindering the transport of goods orthe conveyance of passengers among the States. There, again, .1 . sense that there is little if anything in that section which is comprehended by the ambit of the Bill before the Senate. ..<:.’
One can look also at. section 89 of the Crimes Act, the other provisions to which Senator James McClelland referred. That simply states that any person who, without lawful excuse - proof whereof shall lie upon him - trespasses’ or goes upon any prohibited Commonwealth land shall be guilty of an offence. When one looks at the definition of ‘prohibited Commonwealth land’ one finds that it’ is land in the occupation or under the authority of the Commonwealth upon which -is posted a notice to the effect that trespassing upon the land is prohibited. The offices in the major cities into which demonstrators have been frequently going do not have such notices. I do not believe that Senator James McClelland can draw in aid, as he sought to draw in aid by a simple reference to sections of the Act, sufficient to warrant the broad accusation that existing laws are adequate. One heard from almost every Opposition senator who spoke the suggestion that existing laws are adequate, but I believe that this suggestion is false for 2 reasons. Firstly, this suggests that the Government and its advisers are unintelligent; and secondly, it suggests that honourable senators opposite have not really read the provisions which they assert are adequate alternative provisions.
I listened to other honourable senators. 1 listened to Senator Mulvihill and I suggest to him that the fears which he expressed are also based upon inadequate appreciation of what the Bill provides. The problems of civilian responsibility in a violent situation of attacks being made on an individual or on someone close to him are always part of the problem of law enforcement. There is nothing in this Bill which passes judgment one way or the other on that situation, except that by its provisions it is attempting to prevent violent situations arising by creating a situation in which a police officer may prevent a violent situation occurring. Senator Kennelly suggested that this was a bad law and referred in a general way, without specifying any provision, to existing adequate laws which will achieve what the Government is seeking to achieve, but arguments of that character can have no weight, or at least should have no weight with the Senate, if it is approaching this matter objectively, unless the provisions are pointed to chapter and verse so that a comparison can be made.
I listened with interest as one always does, to Senator O’Byrne, but I do not suppose that a philosophical justification that the young can do no wrong is any sort of theory which ought to be accepted in practice by a government. We have before us a Bill about which much has been said by way of criticism. As I stressed earlier, it is a Bill which is designed to ensure that limits are imposed upon those who would utilise their right of dissent and demonstration to engage in excesses. It clearly draws a line, and beyond that line anybody who, in exuberance of dissent, is prepared to go must recognise that he is offending against the law. Laws of such character ought to be imposed because they are part and parcel of the rights of all of us. For example, we have laws of larceny, laws which protect our property, and we have those laws because we recognise that they perform a useful function in society and they are for our protection. The pre-eminent consideration of any government is the maintenance of order, to protect the weak who, without law, would be the prey and victims of the strong.
– Show us where the laws are now deficient for protection.
– I repeat for the benefit of Senator Cavanagh that the function of any government in the passing of laws is to ensure that the weak are protected because without law the weak people would be subjected to those who are strong and who are able to exercise pressures. The significant function of government is to preserve the individual, harmless and free from attack and violence, because personal protection and the ability for a person to go about his business free from molestation ought to be the concern of every legislature. It is a function of government to enable citizens to live their lives in peace and free from harassment and, so long as they do not harm others, to do as they please. One might ask why cannot those who want to exercise their right of dissent and to demonstrate at least recognise the rights of others. The function of government is to protect and to preserve a person’s property, to ensure that laws are equal and that all are bound by the law.
In conclusion, whatever be the position with regard to these laws - and I imagine that in the Committee stage we will examine them closely - they require that anybody who is to be found guilty of an offence should be found so by a court of law. We have an independent judiciary and a system of justice which I believe can stand up to scrutiny from anybody anywhere in the world. We have that sort of protection which ensures that people who may offend against the laws will be tried and punished only if they are found guilty. We have a system of law which we ought to recognise as being probably the greatest safeguard that we have. This is a Bill which, as I said, does not permit liberty to degenerate into licence. It is a Bill for the protection of all citizens of this country. I trust that that is the way in which the country will regard it
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I move:
The adoption of this proposal would enable the provisions of this Bill to be looked at in a much better way than will be done in the Senate. If honourable senators will reflect upon it, this would be a most proper course for the Senate to adopt to deal with the technicalities in the Bill. A majority of honourable senators decided to give the Bill a second reading. Neverthe less, it contains a great number of technical provisions. There are technicalities which I think I say with respect the majority of honourable senators would not be able to understand. Senator Wright tuttuts.
– I treat such an argument with the contempt it deserves.
– The reality of the matter is that when one deals with the expressions and provisions in this Bill one is concerned not only with what is written in the Bill because it is quite clear that there is a whole fabric of law which needs to be looked at, and this Bill is written in the context of that law. It is very difficult for a person to understand, for instance, what the provisions of the Bill ought to be in relation to arrest without warrant unless he is supplied with the rest of the law on the matter, and it would not be easy for this to be done in this chamber, even for those expert in the law. For a technical Bill to be dealt with by the Committee of the Whole is not a convenient way to handle it. It is only reasonable that the technicalities of the Bill be handled in such a way that those who are in some way responsible for the drafting of it and those who have expert views on the various clauses are able to make submissions to the committee. Such submissions could then be examined by the committee to ascertain why certain provisions were adopted, why others were not included, and why there are variations from the fabric of the law which ante-date this Bill.
– You would support whatever recommendations such a committee brought down?
– If I agreed with them, yes. This Senate finds that it is convenient that certain matters, especially those of a legal nature, be referred to a committee. We find that we work well through the Regulations and Ordinances Committee in considering the intricacies of legislation. It would be a foolish thing in the first place for us to be examining details of all sorts of regulations when we find that it is more convenient for a committee to meet, to call before it the experts and those who have drafted the legislation to ask them such things as: What is the reason for this? What is the law which has been altered? Why should it be done this way? Could it not be done in such and such a way? This is a much simpler and better way for the Senate to carry on its proceedings. There are numerous precedents in the legislatures of other countries for the adoption of this course. They may be found in the United States, which was referred to by one of our colleagues opposite earlier this evening.
– Would you be prepared to be a member of such a committee?
– Yes, I would. In the House of Commons in the United Kingdom this would be a common method of dealing with such an important Bill.
– Will you particularise the matters in the Bill that you think should be referred to the committee?
– There are a number of such provisions. For example, clause 4 of the Bill gives a definition of assembly’, which reads in part: includes the conduct in connexion with that common purpose of -aft or any of the persons in the assembly.
I think that that is very loose language even to cover what was apparently intended to be covered. Probably it could be expressed more felicitously. Then there are other provisions m this Bill which should have-
– You must have these in the forefront of your mind to ask for this reference. What are they?
– I can indicate point by point some of the matters which give rise to difficulty if the honourable senator would like that. I think that clause 6 should be looked at.
– .For what purpose?
– Clause 6(2.) provides:
A person who, in a Territory or on Commonwealth premises, while taking part in an assembly and without lawful excuse . . .
Clause 7, however, states:
A person who, in a Territory or on Commonwealth premises, while taking part in an assembly, wilfully and without lawful excuse …
I would like to know, for example, why the word ‘wilfully’ was omitted in Clause 6 (2.) yet is retained in Clause 7.
– 1 am sure the Minister would give you that information.
– You asked me a question and I would like to answer it. I think the Senate would be advantaged in being furnished in detail with the provisions which exist in other countries for dealing with these matters. That information does not appear anywhere. We are dealing with this legislation without any knowledge of comparable legislation in other countries and I think we are entitled to know how other countries are able to obtain a balance without having a provision such as this. I think that is a proper subject for investigation by a select committee. Then we would like to know why there is a provision in clause 8, which relates to the dispersal of some assembly, that it is lawful for a person to use such force as he believes on reasonable grounds to be necessary. This does not relate to a member of the police force but to any person. Perhaps one of the thugs attached to some extreme political group is entitled to use force. This is a matter on which a committee of the Senate would be able to obtain useful information.
Why ‘ are the arrest provisions being abandoned? We would be able to see whether the provisions of clause 11 were capable of being used against Aboriginals on tribal lands in the Northern Territory, or in relation to industrial disputes and matters unconnected with any political demonstration or dissent of that nature. There are questions we would like to ask about provisions all through this Bill which are concerned with their limits and availability in various circumstances, and I suggest that the Senate would be considerably advantaged by having some knowledge of what it is all about. But if there is a majority in this Senate which is not interested in knowing the limits of the Bill and which probably is determined that no opportunity will be given to senators to know how this Bill can be used, then the senators concerned will not vote for my proposal. But if we want to see how the legislation would work, then I suggest that it would be right and proper that we should have the best assistance that we can get on a Bill of this highly technical nature dealing with the rights of citizens, and the best way to do this is through a committee of this Senate.
– The Government will oppose this proposal for a reference to a select committee. I would share with Senator Murphy an appreciation of the value of committees but I do not believe it is in the interests of the committee system to refer to committees for examination matters which are as hotly controversial as is this measure. When the second reading speech on this Bill was delivered by my colleague, Senator Wright, a little over a week ago, Senator Murphy immediately rose and with a. few sentences indicated a positive opposition. He said:
The Opposition will resist this Bill and vote against it at every stage. 1 can only suspect - I think with fair basis - that this is a Bill which the Opposition is determined to fight all the way. That is a decision of the Australian Labor Party, and therefore I question what value would arise out of referring this matter to a committee. Committees are for the purpose of exploring and elaborating matters in which there is a degree of community of interest in respect of which the hot ideology of politics is not inclined to exacerbate differences . and merely make the committee a forum for the expression of differences.
I think a committee dealing with this Bill would simply be another forum at which the Opposition would be able to demonstrate how much it opposes this Bill. I think, therefore, that in principle this is not the sort of measure which should be referred to a committee. I sense that the point of what I am saying was neatly extracted by an interjection made by Senator Little when Senator Murphy responded and said that of course he would support whatever came out of the committee, if he agreed with it. I sense that for a committee to embark upon an investigation with only that consequence flowing is to spend more time than the Senate, with its present pressure of business, has upon something which can be usefully done otherwise.
– How long do you think they would take if all the members of the committee were lawyers?
– I do not respond to Senator Little’s interjection, but undoubtedly if there are legal matters to be discussed, as Senator Murphy suggested, and there are a number of lawyers that does add to the time of the discussion. I believe that the matters referred to by Senator Murphy are matters which, if he raises in the committee stage of this Bill, can be adequately explained and discussed. Our procedures in the committee stage are not at all inhibitive for the explanations of the kind which he has suggested. I believe that the Senate would be best aided by getting on with the business of dealing with this Bill in committee, and I simply reiterate that the Government will not support the proposal.
– Perhaps my slightly disorderly interjections during Senator Murphy’s speech would lead the Senate to conclude that the Australian Democratic Labor Party does not support the suggested reference to a committee as was proposed by the Opposition. I suppose the . essence of this Bill is that it embodies fundamental differences of political attitudes on this question of law and order. It seems to me to be a most inappropriate matter to go to a committee because, by its nature, it would definitely intrude into the committee grave political differences, and I feel, that in .view of the attitude of senators sitting, behind Senator Murphy in relation to other committees of this Senate where, the. argument has been put that matters of a political nature should not be taken off the floor of this Senate and put into the committee chambers, the honourable, senator may not secure the support of. honourable senators who sit behind him. He may get their support by vote but 1 do not think that, in view of their attitude that political issues should not be translated out of this chamber, in their hearts they would support their leader in his attitude to this Bill.
If this reference was to be purely from the point of view of the technical legal interpreation of certain clauses, or perhaps to improve the drafting in certain particulars we could understand it, but Senator Murphy under questioning, first of all, did not appear to come to the Senate with any predetermined list of propositions which he thought should properly go to the committee. He seemed, to me, to improvise as he went along in response to my interrogation. Because of that I do not feel that the honourable senator had a particularly firm belief that there would be any great merit or any great value in having this Bill so referred.
– He thought that the motion for the second reading would be defeated. He did not realise that it would reach this stage.
– That might have been a piece of unwarranted optimism. For all these reasons 1 do not feel any purpose would be served, and some grave disservice might occur, in referring this Bill to a committee. For that reason the Democratic Labor Party opposes the proposition.
– in reply -I reject the proposition that matters over which there is political controversy should not be sent to a select committee. This Bill is dealt with by a committee, whether the Committee of the Whole or a select committee. Determination of that question should depend on which is the best way to deal with the Bill. If a Bill is politically controversial we are going to have controversy and it seems to me immaterial whether that controversy occurs in the Committee of the Whole or in a select committee which merely means a smaller number of senators. The important question is: Which is the best vehicle to investigate the clauses of the Bill. Senator Byrne asked me which matters I would like referred to a select committee. I wanted the whole Bill referred in the same way as a Bill is referred to the Committee of the Whole under the ordinary procedure. The whole Bill ought to be referred to the select committee.
The honourable senator asked me to deal while on my feet with all the matters of objection. I indicated a few of them and I could indicate more. However, I saw no purpose in indicating all the various matters of objection that we had to the clauses of the Bill because no doubt that would consume a great deal of time.
The Senate will have to get used to the idea of controversial matters as well as others being dealt with by committees. When the appropriate standing committees are established, Bills as well as other matters no doubt will go to them. I cannot anticipate, and I do not, that we are going to be so amiable and so free of political controversy that we will be able to use this system if we restrict it to dealing only with un-controversial matters. The purpose of having this matter looked at by a select committee is, surprisingly enough, that we think we might convince Government supporters that some clauses in the Bill are bad. I do not think anyone, even those on the Government side, would assume that the Bill is perfect. There may be something in it about which, if the full position were put before them, they would agree with the Opposition. This is a Bill of a highly controversial nature and it is full of controversial alterations of the law. If it is perfect then it is the first perfect Bill that has come into this chamber. Yet the likelihood is that because it is. controversial the Government is going to stand firm in Committee of the Whole and, supported by the Democratic Labor Party, push the matter through without a real investigation, clause by clause, such as could be obtained if it were dealt with by a select committee. I would ask that honourable senators support the motion.
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister
Majority …. 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 1 to 3 -by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4. (Definitions)
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to question the immigration policy being practised by this Government as portrayed in a publication called the ‘Evolution of a Policy’ produced by the former Minister for Immigration, Mr Lynch. It is aimed at our policy in regard to the admission of persons of other than European descent. In a brief time I want to expose certain anomalies and refer to the case of a girl of Hong Kong origin called Sister Alice Lau who is at the moment attached to the Leichhardt Methodist Homes and Institutions in New South Wales. I want to relate my remarks to one or two pronouncements which are contained in this publication. Overall it is quite laudable in its sentiments. I know that it refers to the momentous 1966 Senate convention where it was pointed out that there was a certain flexibility injected into Government policy in regard to the permanent domicile of people of nonEuropean origin. The only criticism I have in that respect is that while the Minister is entitled to take full credit and I pay homage to the then Minister for Immigration, Mr Hubert Opperman I think the publication might have referred to the statesmanlike attitude of the Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, who stood shoulder to shoulder on the rostrum with the Minister when that policy was announced. Without being at all egotistical I could say that my colleague Senator Cavanagh and I, as Opposition senators in the subsequent discussion, stood four square on that policy.
My objection tonight is that while there are a lot of pronouncements in this publication I question whether they have been fully implemented on an administrative plane. I instance the case of Sister Alice Lau who is, at the moment, attached to the staff of the Leichhardt Methodist Homes and Institutions. Early this year she received a letter from the then Minister for Immigration, Mr Lynch, in which he used the standard phrases that the overseas student programme under which Miss Lau was admitted to Australia meant that she had acquired a certain professional skill and that she had to go back to the country of her origin so that the skill she had obtained could lift the conditions of that country. That sounds a very laudable objective. However, it happens that Miss Lau is a very resourceful lass. She questioned whether if she went back to Hong Kong her talents could be fully utilised. She wrote to the Grantham Hospital which is one of the leading hospitals in Hong Kong. The letter from the Grantham Hospital fully indicates the points about which I am talking. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate a copy of that letter in Hansard.
22nd March, 1971.
Thank you for your letter dated 12th March. I shall be very glad to. consider your application but shall not be able to do so until you let me have the full address of the Balmain and District Hospital so that I can take up’ reference.
In the meantime I would advise you that you should write to the Nursing Board of Hong Kong at Lee Gardens, Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, to ascertain whether you are eligible for registration here. If you are you will be eligible for consideration for a registered nurse’s position but if not you will probably have to accept a position as an unregistered nurse and this will pay much less. If the Balmain and District Hospital had only two hundred beds I am afraid that you might not be entitled to registration in Hong Kong for since 1964 training hospitals in Hong Kong must have over three hundred beds . before they can be approved for training and this is in line with the policies of the United Kingdom.
In substance what that letter means is that Miss Lau graduated from the Balmain Hospital in Sydney which would have no more than 200 beds. She has been told by the Grantham Hospital that the Hong Kong hospital standards of nursing training are geared to the United Kingdom and Canadian standards. As Miss Lau graduated from a hospital which had less than 300 beds the Grantham Hospital questioned whether her Australian qualifications would give her the professional status in Hong Kong which she would have in Australia. This is where I take umbrage with the Minister for Health (Senator Greenwood) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). I notice that on page 8 of the publication the ‘Evolution of a Policy’ the then Minister pointed out, amongst other things, that people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their qualifications which are, in fact, positively useful to Australia. If Hong Kong will not accept this girl as a fully fledged nursing sister - and this is the indication from the letter from the Grantham Hospital - then I believe that the logical conclusion is that we should utilise Miss Lau to the full in Australia ‘ rather than send her back to Hong Kong. I refer to question on notice No. 2616 in which the Minister for Immigration replied in detail to the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), in another place about the number of private students in various Australian instrumentalities.
I mention my colleague Senator Cavanagh who is well versed in trade union law. I know that Senator Wright has a. close interest in industrial trends. In the post-war years we had the situation pf dilution in the metal trades industry. I am thinking of the New South Wales Department of Railways. It was no use a person who was a tradesman in the metal trades industry such as a boiler maker leaving the railways because his credentials would not have been recognised. When such a person finished his working life in the railways he was still a boiler maker. In a semi-skilled occupation, a man who was a stationary boiler attendant, an overhead crane driver or a stationary engine driver had his qualifications accepted by the Railway Commissioner but not by outside industry. Applying this anology to the case of Sister Lau it is quite obvious that she will not be recognised in Hong Kong as a fully fledged nursing sister. I respectfully suggest to Senator Greenwood whom I alerted in advance of what was in my mind that this would be a case similar to cases where a fair number of non-European people have been given domicile in Australia because of certain professional or technical qualifications. I say respectfully that this letter which Mr Lynch sent to Sister Lau is quite wrong. The Department should have checked with Hong Kong. I know this case is rather unique. In other cases we deal on a government to government basis but in Hong Kong which is still a Crown colony they have what is known as an ‘Executive Council’ under the chairmanship of the Governor.
While I make an initial plea that Miss Lau be given permanent domicile because she will be given recognition here which she will not obtain in Hong Kong, I believe that we should have a long hard look at the various Asian countries which recognise the overseas student programme. I do not query the right of the Hong Kong Government to align itself with United Kingdom standards. We should not sell a pup, as it were, to people like Miss Lau. We accept them into hospitals which have less than 300 beds, train them and say’ they have their diploma. Then when we say they have to go back to their country of origin it refuse’s to accept them. I know I might take this matter a little further and 1 think Senator Cavanagh would agree with me. We are approaching this matter in a bi-partisan character. When Miss Lau visited my office yesterday I said to her: There seems to be a professional drain. If our Government throws the book at you, if you go back to Hong Kong and it will not recognise you, will you go to Canada?’ The Minister knows of cases which I have involving accountants- and other people. Miss Lau said: T am no better off if I go to Canada, even if my Government will not take me in my full professional status because the Canadian hospital standards are linked with the British system.’ Here is a girl to whom we are saying, in effect: Get out.’ I think that anyone who knows our hospital system - : -
– No, not yet. I have a high regard for the New South Wales immigration officers. I think justice will be done. But as Senator Cavanagh has said in his usual forthright and analytical approach the implication lies there. I said that this was a bi-partisan matter. I have instanced the problem with Canada. I might quote from the Hansard report of another place on 23rd April when- the Liberal Party member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) also raised the question of the competition of non-European migrants and the fact that Canada was drawing away from them. In assessing this situation, I think there are 3 problems. There is this semi-status which Miss Lau will have if she is sent back to Hong Kong. In this connection, I believe that a large number of people we have injected into the Australian work force have been very useful in both the teaching and the medical or nursing professions. I believe that Miss Lau should qualify on that basis. It would be very easy to take debating points on this matter. I believe that whatever Party we represent, we know that we are in a changing world. I am not one of those who would say that If 5000 Asians or 5000 British migrants from the Midlands were injected into the assembly line of GeneralMotors Holden’s Pty Ltd there would be a conflict of job opportunities. I am approaching this matter with a broad attitude, irrespective of colour and country of origin. Bearing in mind the initial remarks of Mr Lynch, I think Miss Lau’s services would be far better utilised to the full extent of her technical capacity in Australia than they would be in Hong Kong or Canada. That is my first submission.
My second point is that we should avoid repetition of misunderstandings. Our Government should not be the chopping block because of the evasiveness of some Asian governments. I do not indict solely the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Crown colony. Senator Greenwood and Mr Forbes, the Minister for Immigration, are aware that J have already raised the problem of another group of Asian men and women who have qualified in accountancy. They allege that in Malaysia, as a byproduct of the communal riots of several years ago, if they are predominantly of Chinese descent as distinct from Malayan descent they will never reach the top jobs held by Malayans. Dr Forbes listened intently a week or so ago when 1 raised this matter with him. He is assessing several cases and I would not like to prejudice his consideration of them. However, I believe that it is time that Australia had a confrontation with the governments of Malaysia and Singapore, and perhaps other Asian countries. 1 am not sure who would be the spokesman for a Crown colony like Hong Kong, but I think we should clear the decks a little so that we may see just where we are heading.
I have already briefed Senator Greewood on the broad situation, and I present it on a twofold plane. I think that girls who in all sincerity attend for training at Sydney and MeIboure hospitals with a capacity of less than 300 beds cannot do more than graduate. If their professional qualifications are not recognised in their own countries they should be granted permanent domicile here and allowed to help our medical profession. My second point is that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was good enough to give me a very lengthy statement on our attitude to the United Kingdom Immigration Act. I suggest to Senator Greenwood that in view of its complexities and the amount of discussion generated by various church groups careful consideration is necessary. In the case I have raised interest was shown in the Methodist quarter, but I have had similar experience with the Catholic quarter. There is some concern that we may be conning these people. I am not referring to our own Government when I say that there has been evasiveness by some of the governments concerned, notably Asian governments. I respectfully suggest that the sooner a White Paper or its equivalent is published on such matters and we lay our cards on the table in respect of the future of Asian students like Miss Lau, the better it will be for all concerned.
– I have listened with great interest to what Senator Mulvihill has had to say. I support what he has said because I have had comparable experience. Some years ago the Government announced that there would be a liberalisation of our immigration policies in regard to non-Europeans. That liberalisation was received with a considerable amount of approval both inside and outside this country. For some years a liberalised policy was operated by the Department of Immigration, but in the last 2 years or so I have noticed a hardening of the attitude of the Department or of the administration, whichever it may be. I have spoken to other members of the Parliament belonging to the Liberal Party, Australian Country Party, my own Party and the Australian Labor Party and have found agreement that there has been a hardening of our immigration policies against Asians and non-Europeans over the last couple of years. I do not think that this has done Australia’s reputation in Eastern countries any good. Every week or so a story appears in the newspapers about somebody being driven out of this country. I have had publicity sent to me by friends of mine in Asian countries indicating that such stories are not doing Australia any good.
I receive, as other members do, long letters from the Department of Immigration. I have a lot of respect for the Department, but lately I have been getting long letters from the Department couched in administrative terms to the effect that this is a rule and that is a rule and the person concerned must go home. There have been times when I have received a different type of letter, when there has been more of a tendency to be liberal and humane than I have noticed in the last couple of years. I will cite an example similar to that given by Senator Mulvihill. It concerns a nurse of Chinese origin who came here from Singapore and became most highly qualified. She was here for 7 or 8 years and was well assimilated. A position was available for her in the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital, the administration of which was very anxious to have her services. However, she was informed that she must go back to Singapore because of the policy that Asians should go home and place their services at the disposal of their own countries. She produced letters after she went home, and I forwarded them to the Department, saying that in her case a position commensurate with her qualifications was not available there. I presented the evidence but the Department insisted that she had to go home.
There is quite a number of such cases. I have recently received a letter from a missionary who has lived for years in Hong Kong. He points out that in a considerable number of categories positions are not available there because educationally a good part of Hong Kong is advanced; in certain accountancy spheres positions are not available. Apparently after these people are sent home from Australia their services may be needed in some areas, but in other areas they are obviously not needed. They are ordered out of the country. Canada, which has a much more liberal policy, may take them, but in other cases they go over the border to Communist China which gets the advantage of their services.
Some years ago we adopted a reasonably liberalised policy. It was being implemented with humanity and reason, but over the last 2 or 3 years for some reason of which I am not aware, there has been a change and the strict letter of the law is being applied. I believe that that is unnecessary and is gravely damaging Australia’s reputation in Asian countries which we would want to be friends of ours. As to the argument that people should go home and serve their countries if there is a shortage in their’ particular vocations, I point out that there is a shortage of doctors in country areas in Australia. There is a grave shortage of doctors, is there not? Does our Government propose to ask the Government of the United Kingdom to send home to Australia doctors who qualify over there because their services are required in their own country? Not a bit of it. I simply say once again that we ought to have a good hard look at our immigration policies. If we want to be friendly with Asia, as we say we want to be, our immigration laws ought to be implemented with humanity and reason. We should not continue the unfortunate trend of recent years which I believe is damaging us in the eyes of Asian people.
– I think the matter raised by Senator Mulvihill is important and significant, and 1 support his request that both the particular instance and the principle involved be investigated by the Government.
- Mr Deputy President, I have listened to what the honourable senators who have preceded me have said. Undoubtedly the force of their views will be considered by the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). However, there are 2 issues involved in what has been said. The first concerns the particular case which Senator Mulvihill has raised, and the second involves the broader implications which I think were the concern of all 3 honourable senators. I will deal first with the particular case of Miss Lau. She came here in I960, seeking permission to enter Australia temporarily. She was then aged 16 years. She commenced training as a nurse in 1962 and completed her training in 1966. In 1968 she lodged an application for naturalisation but was informed that she was not eligible. Thereafter she sought a grant of resident status and has continued in employment in Australia since that date notwithstanding that the grant of resident status has not been approved.
She has had many representations made to the Minister for Immigration on her behalf, and I am assured that the various Ministers for Immigration have given all these applications and requests the deepest consideration. She is now required to leave voluntarily. That is the particular case of Miss Lau. I know that Senator Mulvihill raised the point that she was not assured of employment in Hong Kong if she returned there. The letter which he tabled was a letter, as I read it, which suggested that she would have to be registered with the registration board in Hong Kong in order to have any employment, otherwise she would be capable of being employed only as an unregistered nurse.
As I understand the position, the inquiries that the Department has made - I am assured that strenuous efforts are made to ascertain the likely employment situation in the home country to which the person would go - show that Miss Lau would be eligible for registration in Hong Kong. This would come about in the following way: She commenced her studies at Balmain Hospital prior to 1964 and she completed her studies there. Balmain Hospital has informed the Department that she is eligible for registration with the General Nursing Council of England and Wales which in turn would entitle her to registration as a nurse in Hong Kong. That position does not prevail with nurses who commenced their training after 1964; but, in the rendering of the position which the Balmain Hospital has advised, Miss Lau would qualify for that entitlement. Accordingly, if the basis be that she would not be able to obtain employment in Hong Kong, I think it is only fair for the Department to rely on the information which its own inquiries have revealed.
As I understand the position, it is always said to people who do not wish to go back and when there is some question about whether they have employment opportunities in their home country, that they should go back and, after they have completed a time during which they have given to their home country the value of the training they have received overseas, any applications they make for readmission to Australia with permanent status will be considered. One can only suppose that, as a corollary to that, if a person went back to Hong Kong and found that no employment was available, an application of that character would be considered sympathetically. I do not know that one can take the facts of Miss Lau’s case any further than 1 have taken them. As Senator Mulvihill has indicated, he apprised me beforehand of the matters he intended to raise in the adjournment debate, and I was given the information which I have been able to supply to him.
On the broader question, I feel a lot of sympathy, and I am sure we all would feel personal sympathy, with the general situation that has been raised. I imagine that there is not a senator who has not had put to him the individual case of a person who has been in Australia for some time and who would like to remain here and yet who finds that there is a rule which requires that that person must return to his or her home country. There has to be a policy and there has to be a man who makes the decisions, and that man is the Minister. I am quite sure that he makes these decisions after intensive study. He has to make the decisions in accordance with the policy, applying the liberalities which the exceptions made over the past few years have demonstrated.
I think that the point raised by Senator McManus, which I imagine is the core of the submission being made, is one which, if taken too far, would question the whole purpose of our policy in receiving people from these countries. We receive these people into Australia as students, either under assisted schemes or under the private student schemes, on the basis thai they will receive training here and that that training will be not for the benefit of
Australia but for the benefit of the countries from which they come. Underlying this is the acceptance by Australia and their own home country of the desirability of this training that is being obtained.
– Was Miss Lau a Colombo Plan student?
– I am sorry, but I have not that information; so I do not know.
– It is not an obligation on those who come otherwise, is it?
– It depends on the assisted scheme under which they come here. If they come here privately and unaided, it depends on the circumstances when they seek permission to come to Australia and whether or not there is any condition. However, I cannot say in the case of Miss Lau whether that is the position. It seems to me that if we are to take the view which Senator McManus rather developed, I think unnecessarily to his major argument, in his remarks about doctors towards the end of his speech, namely, that we can utilise these persons in Australia, it is approaching false pretences for Australia to receive these people in the first place on a basis that they will obtain training here which, after they have acquired their training, will be used with advantage back in their home country. This is the real difficulty in acceding readily to the point which Senator McManus raised.
– But we do not insist that that should be the case in regard to our own nationals: We insist on it only in regard to Asians, and I believe that there is a tinge of racism in that attitude.
– I can only regret that Senator McManus takes that view, because I have always believed that the policy - and I think this is a fair assessment of what the Government’s attitude and policy has been - is that the sort of assistance that is being given here is assistance for nations that do not have the facilities to provide the training, and that in comparison with those countries Australia does offer facilities and opportunities which can be availed of for the benefit of the countries from which these people come. Whilst there is that desire to help these other countries, I think people who come here with the intention of receiving, training and returning again should be compelled to adhere to their original arrangement. However, as I have indicated, what has been said tonight has been said with a great deal of force, and I am sure that the Minister will give deep consideration to the remarks that have been made.
– I am not satisfied with the reply given by Senator Greenwood in relation to the matter that Senator Mulvihill raised, and I think that on some subsequent occasion some further explanation should be given in respect of Miss Lau. I understand from the Minister’s remarks that she is now being requested to return voluntarily to her home country. I can accept that those who come here on an assisted scheme, under which we train them for the purpose of their using that training to assist people back in their undeveloped countries, are under contract in entering here and there is no obligation to fulfil the contract. 1 have no criticism of that, other than in the exceptional circumstances when I think hardship has been caused by insisting on the return of such people to their own country, no matter what is the country of origin. I do not think there is any comparison between such a case and the case of people who are Australian citizens who are being trained in England and who are not under contract.
We have no information that this girl is an assisted person. In fact, Senator Mulvihill is of the belief that she is not an assisted person in Australia. He believes that she came here voluntarily and that she is under no contract at all, but that while here she took up the occupation of a student nurse and acquired the necessary skill. If this is the case this girl is under no con.tractural obligation to return to her own country and assist in its development; she has no ties. She has a skill that is needed in Australia. The immigration policy of the Government has been relaxed to permit the bringing in to this country of people who have particular skills that the community needs.
Australia’s immigration policy could not be termed a racist policy in this respect; it is a policy of selective immigration in thai only those people who have skills which would enable them to be readily absorbed into our community are permitted into Australia. But if the information which has been given is correct the deportation of Miss Lau could be’ only on racist grounds because she complies with all the requirements of the relaxed immigration policy of the Government. She has not entered into a contract to return to her own country. The Government has relaxed its immigration policy to attract to Australia people who have the same skills as Miss Lau. It is apparently because she is Chinese thai Miss Lau will not be permitted to remain in Australia. The Government’s immigration policy is from time to time contested. This is one of those occasions.
I ask the Minister to consider this case individually and ascertain whether she is under any obligation to return to her own country and whether she will be able to obtain employment in her own occupation in that country. Miss Lau should have the right to settle anywhere she likes. Restrictions should be placed upon her only if she is an individual who will not assimilate into our community or if she has a particular skill of which there is an over supply on the labour market. If she is not such a person and if she is not an assisted migrant her deportation could be only on the grounds of racism. I think the Minister should make a further study of this case and report to the Senate at an early date on her future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 May 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710504_senate_27_s48/>.