27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - As the Prime Minister announced in the House of Representatives, I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) left Australia on 1st October for the United Kingdom and Europe to attend a meeting of the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. Mr Nixon is expected to return to Australia on 21st October. During his absence the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) is Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– It is with regret that I have to inform the Senate that during the weekend Senator and Mrs Negus were involved in a motor vehicle accident as a result of which Mrs Negus died. Senator Negus has been detained in hospital, and I understand from inquiriesI instituted that he is in a satisfactory condition. On behalf of honourable senators I have extended to Senator Negus and his family the sympathy of the Senate.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned showeth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should -
Cause the Australian Government to recognise the right of Australian professional people engaged in the creative and performing arts to further develop their skills and talents in Australia, and to be protected from overseas programmes in a way that will encourage an Australian Television and Radio industry that can reflect and contribute to our identity and growth as a Nation.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable The President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth: that while the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies from the Australian Social Service System, a major inadequacy, still remains in that a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid wishes to see his relatives in Europe, is denied pensioner transferability.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray - that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.
And Your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
The Arts in Australia
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
In any advanced community the arts and associated amenities, serious or comic, light or dramatic, must occupy a central place, and should be available to and be encouraged to be appreciated by every citizen.
There is an urgent need for a thorough public inquiry into all the economic problems involved in the development of the creative and performing arts in Australia, with particular reference to the Media of Television and Radio.
Your Petitioners most humbly, pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should -
Cause the Standing Committee of the Senate on Education, Science and the Arts to conduct a searching inquiry into the state of the arts in Australia and make recommendations thereon that will encourage the development of all forms of cultural and artistic development in Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the following Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees, appointed by the Senate on11th June 1970, be fully established: The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations.
– I give notice that on Thursday, 14th October 1971, I shall move:
That regulation 4 of the amendments of the Air Force Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1971, No. 78, and made under the Air Force Act 1923-1965 be disallowed.
I ask leave to make a short statement in connection with the notice of motion I have just given.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– The Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances is concerned with certain aspects of the regulation mentioned in my notice.
– Order! Senator Devitt, are you speaking on behalf of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee?
– Are you authorised to do so?
– I understand that any member of the Senate may do so at any time.
– You say that any honourable senator may speak on behalf of the Committee?
– No. I speak as an individual senator but, in fact, in the interests of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
– You speak as an individual senator, but not on behalf of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. You ask leave to make a statement as an honourable senator?
– I shall be guided by you.I am told by the Clerk of the Committee that although a member of the Committee speaks for the Committee, in actual fact he is speaking as an individual senator.
– Leave is granted for you to speak as an individual senator.
– Thank you, Mr President. The Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances is concerned with certain aspects of the regulation mentioned in my notice. As today is the last day for giving notice I put the matter on the notice paper to give the Committee time to conclude its inquiries.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that there is great concern in business circles and in the minds of the people affected in country areas, regarding the recently announced proposals for the transfer of engineering branch staff to centralised areas? Is the Minister able to tell us whether these proposals are based on the English regional concept, which is hardly in line with Australian geographical realities? In view of the tremendous problems which will be caused to family life by disruption, and also the interference with business, for what might be thought to be only slight advantages, will the Government, before proceeding with these proposals, consult with the various other authorities which might be affected, such as the local councils and the State governments which have decentralisation plans that might be cut across by the proposals of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department?
– I would anticipate that in the areas particularly affected there would be concern as to the prospective movement from those areas of groups of people currently living in them. I will certainly convey that aspect of what the honourable senator mentioned to the Postmaster-General. However, the PostmasterGeneral’s statement, which T presented on his behalf in the Senate last Tuesday, indicated a greater decentralisation of authority designed to promote greater efficiency within the operations of the Department. That is the purpose of what is proposed. In addition to the questions which the honourable senator raised is a question involving the whole of the Australian community, and that is whether it wants the operations of the Post Office to be conducted with greater efficiency. The promotion of these area schemes will mean that there will be within the areas an autonomy of operation which does not exist at present. In those circumstances there is a case for what is proposed and it was presented by the Postmaster-General. I can say only that as I represent the PostmasterGeneral in this place I will convey to him the terms of the honourable senator’s question and leave it for him to give such further reply as he feels appropriate.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Has the Department of Civil Aviation given permission for converted Electra freight aircraft to operate for 24 hours a day from all airports, including those which at present have a curfew period?
– They always have had that permission because the curfew applies to jet aircraft. However, when it was decided to use these particular aircraft in this way, I asked the Department to check the whole of the noise level pattern and 1 was assured that there was no problem with the pattern. Accordingly the existing permission for this type of aircraft to fly in that pattern of hours remains the same.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen newspaper reports indicating that the Victorian Young Labor Association decided at its conference last Sunday in Melbourne to establish a committee of draft resisters to incite young men to defy the National Service Act? Has the AttorneyGeneral seen a report indicating that the same body published literature for younger members with the intention of counselling them on methods of resistance and aiding young Labor members and anyone else prosecuted for resistance? As a consequence of these reports, will the Attorney-General have discussions with the leaders of the Australian Labor Party with the aim of having Party leaders support the concept of law and order?
– I have seen the reported statement, attributed to a conference of the Young Labor Association, that members of the Association would assist people who defy the law. I regret very much that that statement has been made because I believe that no society can tolerate the organised support of persons who are in breach of the law. I regret also that the Council of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria has adopted a comparable stand. I sense the value of what Senator Young has said, because a different section of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria, namely, the ALP members of the State Parliament have said - and I think every Australian would welcome their decision - that breaches of the law wherever they occur should be investigated by the police. I would welcome a similar statement by members of the Australian Labor Party in this place. I would be grateful if the question and my answer to it could be regarded as an appeal for such an indication.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that some hospitals have a policy of demanding payment from a patient before he gains admittance? Is this further evidence of the way in which the national health scheme is breaking down? What is the attitude of the Department of Health to such a practice? Will the Minister make urgent inquiries to see whether such an inhuman policy is being pursued?
If so, will he take steps to eliminate it, especially as it would weigh heavily on the chronically ill and the poorer members of our community?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe honourable senator has asked a very broad question. It should be remembered that hospitals generally, particularly State institutions, are instruments of the State governments. Apart from hospitals in the Australian Capital Territory and other Commonwealth territories, the Commonwealth would not be directly involved in hospital administration, lt is conceivable that private hospitals would insist upon a payment in advance, although probably not full payment for the anticipated stay of the incoming patient; but even in certain State instrumentalities - I have not checked on this for some time - a certain payment has been insisted upon before admission of a patient to intermediate and private wards.
As to public ward patients, I am not aware of demands for payment in advance. In fact, private hospitals would not have public ward patients. I do not think that the point raised by the honourable senator indicates a new situation or that it reflects upon the efficacy of voluntary contribution medical and hospital schemes. Sitting behind the honourable senator are senators who are members of hospital boards. They would be able to advise him whether certain intermediate and private cases are asked on admission for payment of at least the first week’s charges. That practice has existed for years, to my knowledge.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that there is a substantial and urgent need for long term low interest finance to rural industry in addition to funds already provided by the rural reconstruction scheme? Will the Government consider means by which instrumentalities such as the Commonwealth Development Bank can be equipped to fill this need?
– My understanding is that the Minister for Air, who represents in the Senate the Minister for Primary Industry, made in the Senate a ministerial statement on assistance to the wool industry. In it he indicated that the Government recognised that the whole question of credit is of increasing importance to rural industry and that there are clear indications of a need to re-examine demand for and supply of credit in the rural sector. This matter has been referred to from time to time in the Senale. He further stated that in those circumstances the Bureau of Agricultural Economics had been asked for advice on the adequacy of existing credit facilities. I understand that the Bureau’s investigations are proceeding as a matter of urgency. Honourable senators may be assured that when the Bureau’s report is completed the matter will receive the Government’s further attention. With regard to the second part of the question, as honourable senators will be aware, provision is being made in the current Budget for an advance of Si Om for the Commonwealth Development Bank to help finance an extension of the Bank’s operations, to include loans to farmers to build up the size and operational efficiency of their farms.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Does he recall a question asked by me on 18th August this year to which his reply was: That is a series of most interesting questions which I shall direct to the responsible Minister’? My question now is: Were the questions referred to the responsible Minister? If so, when may I expect a reply?
– I remember quite well the long question asked of me, in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, to whom it has been referred. I have not the answer to give the honourable senator, today, but I shall make an inquiry after question time and see where it is.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Was he in receipt of information about the raid by the Commonwealth Police on Union House, University of Melbourne, before it took place last Thursday morning? Further, did he direct or instruct the Deputy Commissioner of Commonwealth Police, Mr Davies, to personally take charge of the raid carried out last Thursday morning on Union House?
– I was aware before the raid took place last Thursday morning of the search party to detect the persons for whom warrants had been issued. I did not direct anybody to participate in the raid. I was informed by the Commissioner of Police that it was to take place.
– Is the Minister for Works aware of an article published in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ on 14th September which stated that each day in Australia 2 people will be killed in industrial accidents, that 14,000 people will be away from work because they are injured at their factory, office or work site and that the sum of $100m a year is paid in workers compensation payments? ls he also aware that Canada has been able to reduce the number of disabling injuries through an intense programme of education? Can the Minister inform the Senate what his Department has done to keep accidents to a minimum in its activities?
– I noticed the article to which the honourable senator has referred. I have, under the promptings of my colleague Senator Rae, taken a persistent interest in this matter of safety and the industrial accident rate for approximately 2 years now. In regard to the attitude of the Department of Works, 1 am glad to be able to inform the Senate that over the last 10 years the accident rate within the Department’s operations has been reduced from 83 per 1,000 to 51 per 1,000, that the Department has appointed a safety officer and safety committees and has undertaken a comprehensive plan of informing all operatives of the need for safety precautions.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. What is the reason for there being no public telephone at the Higgins Post Office in the Australian Capital Territory? What is the reason for the scarcity of public telephones in the streets of that suburb? Will the Postmaster-General take immediate action to remedy the present lack of telephone facilities in that area?
– I am unable to answer the honourable senator’s question. I think the most appropriate and convenient way of obtaining an answer would be for the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. The Council of the University of Melbourne has decided to abolish the diploma of physical education course and the University will not accept first year students to the course after next year. In view of a likely leisure crisis as a result of automation and push button techniques in industry-
– Order! Senator McAuliffe. you must not give information. You are entitled to provide sufficient information as will make your question clear but you are going beyond those bounds. Ask your question.
– Is it a fact that the Melbourne University Council has decided to abolish the diploma course of physical education and that the university will not accept first year students to the course after next year? In view of a likely leisure crisis as a result of automation and push button techniques in industry in the future, will the Minister intercede to have this important diploma course retained?
– I have not the information to which the honourable senator has referred but 1 will say that we are all aware of the implications of increased automation. I will bring the honourable senator’s request to the Minister for consideration.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport relates to the alarming road toll which can be described only as needless slaughter. I point out particularly that during the last holiday weekend 45 people including, we are all sad to note, the wife of Senator Negus, were killed as a result of road accidents. Does the Minister consider that this situation requires emergency measures and more effective traffic controls by means of manual and mechanical devices to reduce the number of accidents? Will the Minister have his department, in conjunction with the various road traffic advisory groups and the State departments concerned, consider the promotion of such emergency measures, including more intensive patrols, to ensure that the present situation shall not continue?
– 1 think all honourable senators would share the concern of Senator Bishop at the road toll, particularly over the last holiday weekend. Most of us would have regarded with exteme alarm and great concern the reports of road accidents that came to us in newspapers and by radio and television. All honourable senators, no doubt, are aware that the prime responsibility in this field rests with the State governments. Nonetheless, the Department of Shipping and Transport acts in a co-ordinating sense so that the Commonwealth becomes involved in consultation. I shall take the honourable senator’s suggestion to the Minister for Shipping and Transport to see whether there is anything that we, as the Commonwealth, can do to help. If there is anything that we can do, I am sure that it will be done.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that several days before the raid on Union House last Thursday morning the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor John Andrews, spoke to officers of the Attorney-General’s Department about the presence of draft resisters in Union House? Is it a fact also that the Registrar of the University of Melbourne, and the University’s solicitor, met representatives of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Commonwealth Police Force and the Postmaster-General’s Department some time before the raid? What was the purpose of those communications and meetings? What was the outcome of them?
– It is a fact that one day early last week a senior representative of my department spoke with, I think, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne to ascertain whether the University was prepared to take any action with regard to the draft resisters. The advice that I received was that the University, for a variety of reasons which were then expressed, was not prepared to take action. Subsequently, on the Wednesday, a discussion took place between representatives of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, representatives of the Commonwealth Police Force and the Registrar of the University and the University’s solicitor. That discussion was designed to ascertain whether the University authorities would be prepared to take disciplinary or other action to have these draft resisters removed from University premises. We were informed that no action was contemplated. It was also at that meeting that a request was made for the provision of a key to the Commonwealth Police Force if, at any time in the future, it was found necessary to go on to University premises with a view to executing the warrants. The Registrar said that he would give consideration to this matter and subsequently, the same afternoon, informed the Superintendent of the Commonwealth Police in Melbourne that he would not provide a key.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the Acting ViceChancellor of the University of Melbourne has made a statement in writing, in reply to the statements by the Attorney-General the other day in the Senate, indicating that the University did not take action because this was a matter for the Union Board? Is the Attorney-General aware that the ViceChancellor made statements which indicate a breach of law by Commonwealth officers in their entry to the premises of the Melbourne University, in particular that they caused excessive damage to University property and that they refused to produce any warrant when asked to do so by persons in authority?
– 1 am aware that a statement has been attributed in the Press to the Registrar of the University suggesting that the University could not take action because this was a matter for the Union Board. I do not desire to comment on that statement, even if it was correctly reported, for the reason that I am not sure whether the University authorities have no authority whatsoever over the Union Board or Union premises. I am not aware that the
Registrar has said that excessive damage was caused to property or that there was a refusal to produce a warrant on request. I have read in the newspapers comments attributed to various people suggesting that there had been excessive damage and saying that warrants had not been produced. I have personally made some inquiries into each of those matters. I have visited the University and, whilst I appreciate that the word ‘excessive’ is largely a subjective expression, I believe that the damage which was caused was minimal and entirely limited to the purpose for which the entry into the university had been effected.
I have also sought by inquiry to ascertain the position with regard to the warrants. When the police entered the University premises they had with them warrants of apprehension for the 4 persons who were believed to be in the premises, together with a search warrant for the radio transmitter, which had been issued by a magistrate. At no time was any request made of the senior police officer. Commissioner Davies, for the production of these warrants and when at a later stage - at about 7.15 - the Registrar is reported as having said that he did not see a warrant, 1 am informed that the bulk of the police had left. The inspector who was then in charge has reported, in response to my inquiries, that no request was made to him to produce a warrant, though he was asked by what authority he was there, to which he replied that there was a warrant for the apprehension of persons.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr President. Are you aware that members of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign are currently conducting a fast in front of Parliament House; that yesterday campaigners were given permission to sit on the stairway at the front of Parliament House and that this permission was withdrawn today? Can you advise the Parliament who was responsible for cancelling the message of permission previously given to members of the deputation to sit on the stairs? Will you use your good offices to allow this small and orderly group of young men to move from the street kerb to the steps of Parliament House for the balance of their very worthy campaign?
– Upon my leaving Melbourne last night and on ray arrival in Canberra this morning 1 was aware from newspaper reports that it was the intention of the people mentioned by the honourable senator to set up a position on the steps of Parliament House. As a result, I made some inquiries this morning and I wish to read to honourable senators a statement which I have prepared. It reads:
This morning when I arrived in Canberra I was informed by my officers that a group of persons associated with the Freedom From Hunger Campaign had arrived in Canberra with the intention of staging a fast of indefinite duration on the front steps of Parliament House. It is understood that these people were, until last week., involved in collecting money on the steps of the General Post Office in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, for the relief of the Pakistan refugees.
As honourable senators know, from time to time many groups of people come to the House to stage demonstrations for various purposes. On such occasions it has always been the practice to request the Australian Capital Territory Police to confine the demonstrators to the paved area on the far side of Queen Victoria Terrace, which is ample in size and convenient in location for this purpose, lt has not been the policy to permit such groups to carry on their meetings on the front steps of the House because this has been regarded as part of the precincts of the Parliament itself.
Having in mind this practice of long standing the Australian Capital Territory Police were requested to ask the people concerned on this occasion to confine themselves to the area on the northern side of Queen Victoria Terrace. The particular cause for which these people are here is, it is admitted, a humanitarian one, but I am sure honourable senators would agree that it would be very unwise to make distinctions according to one’s assessment of the worthiness- of causes.
– The AttorneyGeneral does.
– Senator Cavanagh, when I am on my feet making a statement you will remain silent. I will repeat the statement I was making when I was interrupted: I am sure honourable senators would agree that it would be very unwise to make distinctions according to one’s assessment of the worthiness of causes, and that a common rule that applies equally to all is, in the long run, the fairest and best policy.
I would add to that statement that the direction is my responsibility insofar as the Senate is concerned and I have given it.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral initiate an investigation into charges made by Mr Steve Rooney, one of the Pakistan relief fasters who was arrested in Melbourne last Friday, that he and another faster, Mr Nick Nicola, were both assaulted behind closed doors by a police officer for refusing to answer questions when arrested? As Mr Rooney claims he could recognise this policeman if he saw him again, will the Attorney-General arrange for an identification parade of the policeman involved in the arrests and give Mr Rooney the opportunity to do so?
– I became aware of the nature of the charges being made by Mr Rooney when I read this morning’s Press. I was informed last night that a statement had been made which had not been elaborated on and I pointed out that any person who believes he has been assaulted by another person, be he a policeman or other citizen, has the right of redress by law. When I saw in this morning’s Press the detailed character of the allegations made by Mr Rooney immediately caused an investigation to be made through the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police Force. 1 have been informed by the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police Force that inquiries have been made of the police officers who participated in the arrest last Friday and who interviewed the persons concerned at the City Watch House immediately following the arrest. Each of the officers has denied unequivocally any assault on any person who was arrested last Friday. I have also ascertained that there was one occasion upon which one constable and Mr Rooney were together in a room and noone else was present. I have also been informed that subsequent to being in that room Mr Rooney spoke to a person connected with the Freedom from Hunger
Campaign - a Mrs Frost - who has made a written statement to the Commonwealth Police in which she has said that ‘Steven agreed with me he had no fault to find with the police’.
I mention those matters because it is a serious reflection upon a member of the police force if an allegation of this character is made. I think it is fair to indicate that possibly there is some material corroborative of the view that no assault took place. I am not, nor is any other individual the person, to judge where the truth lies in conflicting allegations. I certainly believe that if Mr Rooney believes he was assaulted and if he desires to take action in the courts every facility will be given to him to identify the person whom he alleges assaulted him. I know the name of the constable to whom I referred previously and who was in the room with him. I will not state the name now. If application is made to me the name will be given. If on sight that person is not identified as the person alleged to have committed the assault, further facilities will be provided. As I said, the matter is not one for me or for any policeman to judge. It is one of taking court action if the person believes that he is aggrieved.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to the fact that the longshoremen’s strike in the United States of America has now spread to the east coast? Can he inform the Senate of any likely effect on Australian exports to the United States, especially meat which has to be got in almost immediately to fill this year’s quota?
– I am not aware of the details of the strike to which the honourable senator referred. Although I have a considerable amount of information from the Minister for Primary Industry about the tonnage that has been shipped and that is to be shipped, I have not the details he is seeking. Therefore I suggest that I obtain the information from the Minister and give it to the honourable senator.
– Has the- Attorney-General established - and if so by what method - whether the damage caused by Commonwealth police, which some have called extensive and which the Minister has referred to as minimal, during the raid last Thursday morning on Union House, at the University of Melbourne, was necessary?
– Senator Douglas McClelland’s question opens up a tremendously wide area. The necessity of enforcing the law is one which I am happy to see the Commonwealth Police Force acknowledges. The necessity of breaking into premises where persons for whom warrants of arrest have been issued are being harboured is, I think, part of the ordinary power which devolves upon a policeman who holds a warrant to arrest. There had been a provocative challenge to the police by people who were seeking to avoid arrest and by university people who were claiming that they were entitled to offer sanctuary. Tt was in those circumstances that the police decided that the effort should be made to arrest these people.
The University Union House doors were locked when the police arrived. No-one was there to open the doors for them and no-one offered any assistance. It was quite apparent that when the police entered the building and moved to the upper floors the student body, irrespective of whether its members knew that the persons whom the police were seeking were not there at that time, certainly offered no assistance to open locked doors behind which it might reasonably be supposed that people were hiding. The amount of damage done in opening the university Union doors and opening the locked doors on the higher floors was limited to the purpose of opening those doors and nothing more.
– -I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Did the Chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, Mr Pead, in evidence before the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in public session last Friday, state that he believed the Minister for the Interior had written to the management of the Commonwealth Brickworks (Canberra) Ltd indicating that the factory’s operations would be phased out over 10 years but that an element of mystery or secrecy surrounded this letter? Does such a letter exist? If so, what are its precise terms?
– I have not seen the newpaper report, nor have I read the minutes of the meeting of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. Therefore I am totally uninformed on this matter, as I think is Senator Devitt because he seeks to get information. All I can do is to contact the responsible Minister, see what is the situation and get the information for the honourable senator as soon as I can.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. What has been the cause of the failure of the State and Commonwealth governments to agree on strict uniform legislation to control the sale of rifles and shotguns? Does the Minister contemplate any early action to overcome this impasse? Can any secondary action be taken to induce his mini’s^terial colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, to tighten the existing regulations governing the importation of such weapons?
– I appreciate that the question is directed to me because there is a Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral which is the body which usually considers uniform laws. But as far as ministerial responsibility is concerned, the question of importation of firearms is the responsibility of the Minister for Customs and Excise and, as far as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are concerned, it is the responsibility of the Minister for the Interior. Discussions have taken place as to the possibility of having some uniform control of firearms, and those discussions have taken place at meetings of the Ministers who have responsibility in relation to firearms in the States, but that is not the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. At a meeting at which Mr Chipp was present as the Minister for Customs and Excise in August 1970, a statement was made that the Ministers agreed in principle that uniformity in firearms legislation throughout Australia and in respect of imports was desirable. They were particularly of the view that strict controls should be preserved in relation to pistols and that there should be complementary legislation. A sub-committee has been appointed to consider this matter further. I understand that the next meeting of this committee will be held in November.
– Who is the Commonwealth Minister on it, you or Mr Chipp?
– I think that Mr Chipp would be the person to whom questions likely to evoke fuller answers should be directed. As I understand the position, there is a basic problem because certain States hold different views. In particular single bore shotguns and .22 calibre rifles are regarded in some States as firearms which should not be subject to uniform control or licensing because they are essential to country people to destroy rodents, birds and animals that ravage the countryside.
– Did the Leader of the Government in the Senate see the news item in yesterday’s newspapers which quoted population experts in Europe as saying that ‘the inhabitants of West Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal were no longer multiplying fast enough to replace themselves generation by generation’? Can the Minister explain how that statement fits in with the claims of the prophets of doom when they say that world population growth is too high and must be halted?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI must confess that I did not see the article referred to in yesterday’s newspapers but 1 am conscious that the question is pitched to a debate that we had in this place last week.
– It is a silly question.
I thought it was a very valuable question because it points up the very fact that the population movement is not all one way at all. 1 would have some reservations concerning the arguments about population growth in our country. What Senator Gair has said in relation to the population growth in certain countries of Europe about which we are currently talking is not of sufficient significance to justify all the fears which have been the subject of professorial comment in this country recently. However, this is a wide subject. I would like to have this question processed in more depth and then give the honourable senator a considered reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science whether any discussions have been held with university authorities in relation to the expulsion or cancellation of the scholarships of students, such as those at Melbourne University, who openly defy the law and assist others to do the same by barricading university buildings and preventing the police from carrying out their duties? Has the Minister seen comments that such radical minorities are using university campuses for the purpose of underground operations in defiance and disruption of law and order instead of study? If no such discussions with the authorities have taken place will the Minister take all necessary steps to arrange them with the aim of enabling universities and students to operate for the purpose for which students attend the universities and for which the taxpayer pays?
– I think that any Commonwealth legislator would accept the proposition that universities have autonomy and freedom for the purpose of education. They have no special dispensation to create disorder and chaos within their community, whether academic or nonacademic. There is no Alsatia of university campuses where the law does nol run. To my knowledge there have been no conversations between the Minister and university authorities. I checked this matter recently. The rules about university scholarships which are applied are that if a university scholarship holder is disciplined, either by the university or by the State authorities under whose immediate control the university comes, then the Commonwealth scholarship is cancelled or suspended. I am bound to say to the honourable senator that the time has been reached when the matter may be appropriate for further consideration. I. shall refer the consideration of the matter to the Minister.
– In answer to an earlier question the Attorney-General stated: ‘Breaches of the law should be investigated wherever they occur’. I ask the Attorney-General: Why is it that no such action was taken by Commonwealth Police against Mr Ron Waishing, a New Zealander of Chinese descent, who publicly defied the immigration laws? Will the Minister deny that to do so would have been an embarrassment to the Government? Does not this action reveal that the Government is discriminatory in its application of the law, in spite of the Minister’s many denials?
– I am not aware of the particular incident to which the honourable senator refers. I shall endeavour to find out more about the matter and let him have a considered answer. Without investigating the matter I know that the Commonwealth is not discriminatory in its application of the law. I affirm once again - if, in fact, the remark has been attributed to me on other occasions^ - that the law should be enforced and it should be enforced equally. That is what 1 shall endeavour to achieve.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he recalls my question of 18th August in which I appealed to the Government to make an immediate grant of SI Om to India to assist that country in the current refugee problem? Does he also recall a further question of 15th September seeking Government action in this matter? As no decision has been made, does not the Minister agree that this indicates indifference and a callous disregard by this Government of the sufferings of millions of innocent people?
– I regret that the honourable senator has permitted himself to use such extreme language. I shall be seeking leave this afternoon to make a statement on the subject.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral explain why it is that some people who appear to enjoy being known as good Australians also appear to delight in accusing the various Australian police forces of acts of violence against citizens and acts of destruction against property, and in general attempt to deprecate their work in the public eye? Does the Minister know of any member of the Commonwealth Police Force, or for that matter any of the State police forces, who is not a good Australian citizen and who does not hold the distinction in the community of giving protection against those who wish to breach laws made by this and other parliaments? Will the Minister convey to the Commonwealth Police Force the information that there are many members of this Senate and, indeed, of the Australian community who heartily endorse their actions?
– Order! The honourable senator is involving himself in rhetoric and wrapping it up in the form of a question. He should ask his question.
– Will the Minister convey to the Commonwealth Police Force the information that there are many members of the Senate and, indeed, of the Australian community who heartily endorse their actions?
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President. This is not a proper question, I submit, even considering all the latitude which is allowed. If this is proper there will be no limit on questions.
– I agree. I have appealed to you once already, Senator Webster, to put your question. If you do not 1 shall have to ask you to resume your seat and not allow you the right of asking the question in the form in which you are proffering it.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr President. I know that lengthy questions on various matters are asked in the Senate and this is one of them.
– I am trying to curb them and you are doing nothing to aid me.
– I am anxious to know whether the Attorney-General will convey to the Commonwealth Police Force the fact that there are many members of the Australian public and, indeed, I believe many members of the Australian Senate who heartily congratulate them on their work.
– I am considering this question. Senator Greenwood, do you wish to reply to that rhetorical question?
– I would welcome the opportunity of a short reply to the question. I think it is salutary, from time to time, to acknowledge the work which the police forces of the Commonwealth and the States perform because they are the protectors of life and property and they are the guardians of the law. I regret the statements made from time to time in which police forces are regarded as the Aunt Sally for everybody who has a grouch against somebody. I will consider the honourable senator’s request and 1 will also consider what I will convey to the Commonwealth Police Force but I certainly share with him the thoughts that he expressed - that its members are a body of men who, on their performance last Thursday, behaved very well under extreme provocation.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr President. Will you make some inquiries to find out what has happened to a question I put on notice last Wednesday, 29th September, addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry and of which no record appears on the notice paper?
– I undertake to provide the honourable senator with an answer this afternoon on the matter he has raised.
– My question, addressed to the Attorney-General, in part was asked earlier. However I am expanding the question asked by my Leader. Is the Attorney-General aware that there are grave doubts as to whether the Commonwealth police officers in fact had warrants to enter and search Union House, University of Melbourne, last Thursday morning? ls the Minister aware also that the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor John Andrews, has said in a prepared statement dated 1st October 1971 that he has established to his satisfaction that the Registrar, Brigadier A. T. J. Bell, in the company of the Secretary/ Manager of Union House, Mr Ron Field, asked officers of the Commonwealth Police Force to produce the warrants but they did not do so? Why did the officers not produce the warrants? I further ask the Minister whether, if the police officers did have warrants, the warrants were to enter and search and apprehend on those premises last Thursday morning? Were they based on information in affidavits supplied to the magistrate who issued the warrants? Will the Minister have tabled in the Senate as soon as possible both the warrants and the affidavits?
– Until Senator Brown addressed his question to me I had not heard that there were any doubts as to the existence of warrants authorising the police to enter upon the University of Melbourne last Thursday. So that there will be no doubt and so that a particular furphy can be grounded at its start, I say that I have personally seen the search warrant that was issued for the transmitter and I have read its terms. The honourable senator should know that a search warrant of that character can be issued only by .« magistrate upon information given to him on oath. As to the warrants to apprehend 4 persons, those warrants were issued by magistrates in the court when the persons in respect of whom they were issued did not present themselves to answer charges. I have not seen the statement attributed to the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne which Senator Brown has mentioned. In those circumstances I am not prepared to enter into an area where there could be a conflict of evidence, if Senator Brown has correctly quoted the statement.
J have stated earlier that I sought the information from the officers of the Commonwealth Police Force. They have assured me that at no stage were any warrants asked for and that the only time any reference to a warrant was made was at about 7.15 a.m., 2 hours after the entry had commenced, when the Registrar did ask by what authority the police were there. As I said earlier, no specific request was made for the production of a warrant. I can add only that in the light of what has been said and in the light of everything which the people in the University were saying before the search party entered the University, it is incredible that anybody should be making any point about warrants. Of course they were issued and of course the people knew they were in existence.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question of the AttorneyGeneral. If I table for the Minister a copy of the statement issued by Professor Andrews on Friday, 1st October, outlining as it does the subject matter of my previous question, will he then cause to be tabled in the Senate the documents to which I referred in that question?
– I shall give consideration to providing for the information of honourable senators and anyone else who wishes to see them, photocopies of the warrants which have been issued.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that Professor John Andrews, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, in a prepared statement issued on 1st October said that he had established to his satisfaction that the damage caused to Union House was excessive and unnecessary in view of the fact that keys were offered to members of the Commonwealth Police Force soon after they entered the building? Is the Minister also aware that the Secretary/Manager of the Union, Mr Ron Field, has stated that he offered keys to the building to 2 senior officers soon after they arrived? Is the Minister aware also that Mr Field has also stated that he opened one door while police officers were attempting to force it open?
– I have seen numerous statements about what people say occurred at Union House. I must say that many of these statements on the same subject are marked by their inconsistency when compared one with the other. All I can say is that I sought the fullest information from the Commonwealth Police Commissioner, and the Deputy Commissioner who led this raid. In the light of the many statements which were appearing, I sought as carefully and as diligently as I could what they said. I believe what I have been told by the police officers, in the light of the inconsistent statements which are now, at a late stage, being made by certain persons connected with the University. All 1 can say is that, if the Commonwealth Police sought and were offered a key before the entry ever occurred, it is inconceivable to me that they would not have used it.
– As it seems likely that parallel runways will be necessary at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in the future, can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether the extension now being built into Botany Bay is wide enough for 2 runways?
– For quite some time - and I think this has been said here on many occasions - the expansion possibilities of Sydney Airport have been studied, and studied very carefully. In fact, I think that 5 years ago some indicating plans were laid down by the then Minister for Civil Aviation at a public hearing before the Public Works Committee in Sydney. I do not think that the current expansion of the runway system into Botany Bay is wide enough to provide for parallel runways in that position.
– How does the Minister for Health reconcile the views expressed over the weekend by the Australian Optometrical Association and the Australian Standards Association about the inferior quality of some imported sun glasses with views expressed last year by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, who then represented the Minister for Health in this place, implying that the States were on the verge of adopting a manufacturing standard code devised by the Australian Standards Association? Are we to assume that if standards have been imposed on locally manufactured sun glasses a loophole exists in the vetting of the quality of the imported article? What powers does the Minister possess to control this situation?
I cannot recall the question or the statement made by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin when she represented the Minister for Health in this place last year, as the honourable senator says. I would need to have that question processed and looked at. Senator Mulvihill’s question refers to matters of very real substance. It contains implications which I believe I should have processed immediately through my Department and on which 1 should give a considered reply. I will certainly do that
– Following my question last week, I ask: Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of Press reports that the Australian Wool Commission’s stockpiling of wool under a reserve price policy has led to speculation that a policy change is likely in the near future? Is it true that if the Commission continues to buy wool at its present rate the stockpile could reach 1.5 million bales, worth almost $150m, by the end of this selling season? As the Commission has already spent $ 13.4m on this price support policy, I again ask: Has the Government in mind any ceiling above which the Commission cannot go, or is the taxpayer facing the prospect of an endless payout to support the wool industry?
– The honourable senator bases his question on a projection contained in an article. He asked me a similar question last week. I asked him to place the question on the notice paper so that I could obtain from the Minister for Primary Industry the information he sought. I ask him to do the same today.
– 1 direct my question to the Attorney-General. Is it not a fact that by his direction the discretionary powers of the Commonwealth Police Force have been removed or severely limited? Is it not a fact that recent actions of members of the Force are a reflection of the Minister’s aggressive desire to impose the law without regard to the justice of the moment? Will not this approach more than any other action destroy the reputation of the Commonwealth Police Force?
– I have listened to the honourable senator and to many other honourable senators who have asked questions along the same lines for over an hour, and I can only say that, far from being proud of the police force which this Commonwealth has established, some members of the Opposition seem concerned to denigrate and belittle everything that it has done. That I deplore. I answer Senator Georges in the terms that I used when I answered, I think, the first Opposition senator who asked me a question about this matter earlier today, namely, that the decision which was made to go into Union House at the University of Melbourne to execute warrants of arrest was made by the police. No direction was forthcoming from me. In those circumstances, any question based upon an assumption that I imposed certain directions is incorrect. I express concern that the honourable senator should have asked his question in the light of the emphatic statement I made in answer to Senator Primmer saying precisely the same thing earlier this afternoon.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the death in Brisbane last Friday of the Filipino boxer Alberto Jangalay, what action does the Postmaster-General intend to take to remove the violence of boxing from our television screens in line with the expressed attitude of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to violence on television? Does the Board require more boxers to die during a televised boxing match before it takes action?
– Apart from the last portion of it, I think that the honourable senator’s question warrants the consideration of the Postmaster-General and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I am sure that it will receive renewed consideration in the light of what happened last Friday. I feel that the last part of the honourable senator’s question suggests standards of conduct which are standards of conduct of neither the PostmasterGeneral nor of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I will convey the sentiments contained in the early part of the question to the Postmaster-General.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry follows the question asked of him by Senator Poke regarding the buying of wool by the Australian Wool Commission. What will happen to the price of wool if the Commission ceases to support it and, therefore, Australia’s main primary industry?
– I think that has been shown clearly already in the sales to date. There is evidence that the price of wool which has not been supported by the Commission is down between 12 per cent and 34 per cent on last year’s values.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of the prepared statement issued by Dr J. W. Watson, President of the Melbourne University Staff Association, dated 1st October 1971, on behalf of that body calling for an open inquiry, headed preferably by a supreme court judge, into whether members of the Commonwealth Police Force used needless force and inflicted unnecessary damage in their entry into and search of the Union building at the University of Melbourne? Is the Minister prepared to facilitate such an inquiry in the interests of both the Commonwealth Police Force and responsible officers of the University of Melbourne? If not, why not?
– I have investigated carefully the information available to me from the Commonwealth Police Force on what took place prior to, at and after the search entry into the University last Thursday. I have exposed myself to questions from honourable senators, so there must be very little which has not been said. I am quite happy to answer such further questions as honourable senators may wish to direct to me so that the full story, if there is anything else yet to bc told by me, can be obtained. I do not believe that an inquiry of this character would serve any useful purpose and certainly I would not recommend, in areas where I have responsibility, that any such inquiry take place. However, if it should happen that inquiry does take place in some other area I shall give consideration to the nature of that inquiry and who is conducting it to determine whether or not any facilities will be provided by the Commonwealth police. If in the hypothetical circumstances which the honourable senator poses there were an inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge appointed by the State Government, undoubtedly I would have every willingness to co-operate, but if it were an inquiry conducted by what the honourable senator calls ‘some responsible university authorities’, I would want to see who those university authorities were before I gave any indication of what my attitude would be.
– Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
– Order! I have before me a list of all honourable senators who wish to ask questions. I know Senator Brown’s interest in this matter - that is manifest to the Senate - and I am willing to accord him the privileges of the Senate, but not in preference to other honourable senators. I call Senator Keeffe.
– Will the Minister for Works table in the Senate a copy of all orders or requisitions for spare parts which have been made by the Commonwealth Department of Works at Townsville Army Stores during the past 12 months? I might say that photostat copies will suffice when providing the information.
– I shall give consideration to the honourable senator’s request, taking into regard the volume and expense of the work and the utility to be served.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that insurance assessors who have examined the damage caused by Commonwealth Police last Thursday at Union House at the University of Melbourne have said that 52 doors had been damaged and 5 $400 solar glass windows had been smashed? Does the Minister still consider appropriate his reported description of the raid in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 1st October 1971 as ‘a discreet and restrained attempt to effect arrests’?
– The use of the expression ‘discreet and restrained’ was in my view quite accurate. The action was discreet because it was taken at a prudent time when the least inconvenience could be expected. One would not normally expect to find 200 or more students sleeping at the University Union building at 5 o’clock in the morning. That is why I said it was discreet, lt was restrained because, as I have said many times, the police were subjected to a tremendous amount of provocation and violence. 1 am unable to express any opinion which would be helpful as to what the insurance assessors might have said because I have not seen any report from insurance assessors, although I have seen some newspaper reports giving conflicting accounts of what insurance assessors have said. I inspected the doors at the University Union yesterday. The glass doors had been repaired. I saw the other doors and I say that the damage was not excessive in the light of the purpose which the entry had been designed to achieve.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question which is a little differently based. Has he received the report from the Administrative Review Committee? If so, why has it not been presented to the Parliament? Will he expedite the report to allay suspicion that it may deliberately be withheld?
– I have received the report of the Committee and consideration is currently being given to it.
– I remind the Senate that question time has now been going for 1 hour 20 minutes and that this part of question time will not be re-broadcast. I suggest that honourable senators keep their remaining questions for tomorrow.
– That is a matter for the Senate to decide. I shall discover whether honourable senators are agreeable to the suggestion made by the Leader of the Government. For that purpose, I shall allow 2 more questions. I call Senator McLaren.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the Senate of the full facts pertaining to the purchase of a motel at Alice Springs as announced by him on 30th September and reported in the Mel bourne ‘Age’ on 1st October? Will he inform the Senate also whether a full investigation was carried out as to the cost of a suitably appointed hospital for the care of Aboriginal children in the southern region of the Northern Territory? If so. will he make the relative costs available to the Senate?
I am sorry that this question has come so late. 1 was rather hoping that it would be asked earlier because I have issued a Press statement on this matter. I hope that that statement will be available to honourable senators in their boxes so that they may read it. Perhaps after the honourable senator has read the statement he will be more informed on what has happened. If I may state the position quickly, there has been tremendous concern as to the state of some Aboriginal children in the southern centre of the Northern Territory, particularly those who have been in hospital. We have had the situation in Alice Springs where the children requiring intensive care had become involved with children who were convalescing and it became necessary to meet a very serious situation. In the event, we have successfully negotiated to purchase Mount Gillen motel and to convert it for our own purposes. This represents a wonderful break through and I feel personally very proud that with the aid and support of the Government we have been able to achieve this It will enable us to separate the convalescing children from the very sick kiddies and will enable them to convalesce before going back to their own habitats and homes. In this way we believe that we will be able to make a real break through in the care of the very sick children, particularly the Aboriginal children, in the centre. Also, this will remove a serious load from the Alice Springs hospital and enable us to do a great deal of good, right across the board, in relation to hospitalisation in central Australia. I invite the honourable senator to read the Press statement that I have released. f he wants to ask supplementary questions about it tomorrow or to talk to me about it I will be happy to tell him all that I know on the subject.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation by reminding him that on 30th September 1971 I asked him a question a Dout radar installations to be placed in an area to be resumed for the purpose in the Many Peaks Range. As it is strongly rumoured that the work is to be commenced almost immediately, can the Minister visit Townsville before November and will he receive deputations from persons and organisations which are strongly opposed to the installations?
– Since that question was asked of me, not much more than about 5 days ago. I have discovered that to some extent the matter referred to by the honourable senator involves the Department of Air as well as the Department of Civil Aviation because the airport at Townsville is a Department of Air aerodrome which we use as a joint facility. Inquiries are being made about this. I doubt that it is necessary for me to go to Townsville before the middle of November, but if it is necessary to do anything in the meantime to find out more about it that will be done.
(Question No, 1327) Senator KEEFFE 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 questions:
(Question No. 1379) Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
When will a statement be made in the Parliament concerning the final arrangement between the Minister and the Queensland Government on alterations to the Act covering Aborigines in Queensland?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
On 8th April 1971 the Prime Minister and tha Queensland Premier issued a joint statement concerning the agreement reached on alteration of the Queensland legislation applying to Aborigines and Islanders. New legislation is due to be brought before the Queensland Parliament during the current session.
(Question No. 1296) Senator WILLESEE asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What action has the Government taken in regard to the banning of television advertising of cigarettes, apart from approving a voluntary code on such advertising?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Government has not taken direct action in regard to banning television advertising of cigarettes other than initiating the voluntary code for such advertising.
(Question No. 1377) Senator DONALD CAMERON asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Post and Telegraph Bill 1971.
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1971.
Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1971.
Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1971.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Increases) Bill 1971.
– On 16th September last Senator Devitt asked me without notice whether any application had been reecived from the Premier of Tasmania ‘for assistance to help that State in its current economic difficulties’. The Prime Minister has informed me that he has received no such application.
– I wish to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) advising me of the following changes in the membership of Estimates Committees: Estimates Committee A - Senator Gietzelt to replace Senator Murphy; Estimates Committee B - Senator McAuliffe to replace Senator Fitzgerald; Estimates Committee C - Senator Primmer to replace Senator Willesee.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1970, I present the seventeenth annual statement concerning the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30th June 1971.
– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1950, I present the twenty-third annual report of the Trustees of the Services Canteens Trust Fund for the year ended 31st December 1970, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral on the books and accounts of the Fund as required by section 35 of the Act.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926-1949, I present the report of the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for the year ended 30th June 1971.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales-
Minister for Civil Aviation) - I present the report of the Tariff Board on the following item:
Malleable cast iron pipe fittings.
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Australian delegation to the 58th conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held at The Hague from 1st to 9th October 1970.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - I move:
In doing so, I would like to express my thanks, as the leader of the delegation, to the members of Parliament who made up that delegation. They were: Mr Scholes, who was the deputy leader of the delegation, Senator Little, Senator Ridley, Mr Dobie, Mr Hamer and Mr Hansen. Accompanying the delegation were Mr Alan dimming Thorn and Mr John Bowen, who represented the Department of Foreign Affairs. The members of the delegation were greatly indebted to both those gentlemen for their services. We were - especially myself - largely inexperienced in overseas work. We were greatly strengthened in our contacts by their presence. In my opinion their work enabled the delegation to be a very successful one. We made some very valuable contacts. I think it is customary for members of delegations to the Inter-Parliamentary Union to find that the contacts they make are of great benefit to them. As I do not wish to take up a great deal of time at this stage, I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned. PLACING OF BUSINESS
– Is it the desire of the Senate to postpone or rearrange business?
– No, Mr President. However, I feel that I have an obligation to make a reference by leave, if I may, to the notices of motion on the notice paper.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) in particular and certain other honourable senators have been asking me what it is proposed to do in relation to the notices of motion on the notice paper. I want to indicate that I have initiated a study of these matters and I hope to be able to move before wc depart at the end of this week a fairly comprehensive motion which will deal with the lot of them, suggesting certain treatment for each rather than a debate on the whole 9 proposals at this point of time. Mr President, it has been suggested to me. in relation to the proposal that certain petitions which have been presented to the Senate be referred to standing committees of the Senate, that consideration be given by the movers of the motions to adding to the proposal that the petitions be referred to standing committees of the Senate the words ‘for information’. If that were done it would facilitate my consideration of the proposals. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 28 September (vide page 894) on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill he now read a second time.
– Mr President, I suggest that this
Bill and the Pay-Roil Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1971 and the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Bill 1971 should be debated concurrently at the second reading stage and dealt with separately at the Committee stage, if that is the wish of the Senate.
– Is it the wish of the Senate to have a cognate debate on these 3 Bills? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The legislation which is now before the Senate in the form of 3 Bills - the Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill, the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill and the PayRoll Tax (Territories) Bill - has come into existence for the sole reason that the receipts duty which was invoked by the State governments in order to increase their revenue was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia. The Commonwealth Government, in trying to find some way of assisting the States, hit upon this rather dubious method of providing some finance. It is rather interesting to note that the Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill is a very short one. It seeks to do away with the existing method of collection of payroll tax which has been in existence since 1941. When we come to a consideration of these 3 Bills we discover that not only is the Commonwealth handing over the collection of this tax to the States for their administration but also that it is retaining the tax in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. It is this feature which has produced a quite lengthy Bill - the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill - of 31 pages and 70 clauses and an explanatory statement running to 26 pages which explains what is involved in retaining this tax in the Territories.
I think that in another place it was stated that this tax was introduced originally by a Labor government. It was not. It was introduced by the Menzies Government in 1941 because the Commonwealth wished to accept the responsibility of paying child endowment. At that stage Australia had just come through a depression and its finances were in a not very affluent state. The Government decided that the only way to obtain the necessary finance, which was estimated to be about SI 8m, was to impose a payroll tax, which would be a tax on industry, paid on amounts in excess of $2,000 per annum. The rate of payroll tax was fixed at that time at 2i per cent. During the last 30 years this rate has obtained; there has been no alteration in it. But the amount of wages paid in industry has increased tremendously over the 30- year period, and last year $300m became available to the Commonwealth from payroll tax. On the other hand child endowment, although the population has increased and although the rates of child endowment have varied slightly, required only two-thirds of that amount - namely $200m. Obviously the other $100m must have been absorbed into the general revenue of the Government.
When the receipts duty was found, by a High Court decision, to be invalid, it was decided that one way of providing the States with an opportunity of gaining extra money would be to make the payroll tax available to the States for their operation. This was considered and immediately it became evident what was to transpire. The States said that they would accept it and that they would increase the rate from 2) per cent to 31 per cent. In a full financial year the States will collect in excess of $100m above the amount collected previously. The Opposition is opposed to these Bills. We feel that it is quite wrong for taxing powers of this nature - income tax and payroll tax - to be in the hands of 6 separate authorities representing the States and of a Federal authority which, by the operation of the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill and the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Bill, will still have some control in certain areas. Therefore, as a whole, there is no flexibility such as there could have been under the previous arrangement. It is interesting to note that over the years the rate has not changed from 2) per cent, but that immediately the collection of the tax was handed over to the States the rate was increased by an extra 1 per cent. This is an increase of 40 per cent.
I have heard from industry over the last few years considerable criticism of the pay-roll tax. I think that senators generally would have been aware of opposition on the part of industry which felt that its operations were being penalised unduly by the imposition of a further tax which had to be incorporated in costs and passed on to consumers. No matter where taxation is imposed, its effect is passed on. There has been a fair amount of agitation to have the payroll tax discontinued. The Commonwealth is discontinuing it, but it is discontinuing it by handing it over to another group of authorities. This hardly makes for any improvement. It seems to us that these Bills are a rather desperate method on the part of the Government to provide extra finance to the States without actually giving them extra money. It is obvious that the States need more finance to carry on their various departments and services. We consider this is essential, but to give them a taxing authority which, to a certain extent, is almost uncontrollable is hardly the way to do it.
We feel that the tax should have been left in the hands of the Federal Government. The excess of $100m of income over expenditure last year, we feel, possibly could be used adequately in the Federal sphere for social services. This is how any payroll tax should be used. Now the States will be using payroll tax to meet their obligations in all kinds of other spheres. It will not be confined only to social services, which was the original intention of the payroll tax. I feel that there would be no hesitation on the part of the Opposition to give support to the Government if it wished to pass on extra money to the States to meet their needs - not all their needs but those which have been determined to be necessary. We would support such a proposition.
We do not feel that the way to provide extra finance is to remove ourselves from the responsibility which is ours in the Federal sphere, and to hand over the payroll tax to the various States to administer and to apply whatever percentage they feel is the right amount in view of the policy and the programme which each would adopt individually. We can see quite easily that various States, depending on their financial position, could wish to have different rates of payroll tax. This could cause difficulties to industry in the placing of its business in various States and I think it would be in contravention of section 92 of the Constitution. This should be kept in mind.
The Opposition feels that this measure should not be passed. Now that it is before this chamber we have an opportunity to review this legislation in view of the fact that it could be an undesirable way of meeting the difficulties of the States. The
States have their priorities with regard to their health services, their education programme, their welfare, and all of those other matters which are State responsibilities and which the direct taxing power will enable them to de:ermine in their own way. Whilst the payroll tax itself is being transferred to the States under this Bill, the Commonwealth has stated that it will continue to operate the export incentive scheme, although separate legislation will have to be introduced at a la:er date to see that this is implemented on the same terms as the previous arrangement.
However, at the Premiers Conference in June the Commonwealth presented to the Slates this new arrangement whereby the Commonwealth retires from the field and the transfer of payroll tax enables the States to levy their own tax. lt has been stated already that the States agreed on a different rate from that which had been levied by the Commonwealth, tut, of course, this is one of the powers that the States had and they agreed to do this. The significance of the transfer to the States is that they do have within their constitutional authority this growth tax which they may now levy. The fact that there is now a closer relationship between the raising of revenue and the determining of its expenditure does enhance the possibility that the States will have more direct financial responsibility.
Opposition will oppose it. 1 ask for the support of honourable senators in looking at this matter, not from the State point of view - the States are already feeling some difficulties in this regard - but from the point of view of the financial needs of the States from the Federal Treasury. This is the way the matter should be approached. On behalf of the Opposition I am expressing opposition to the 3 Bills. We will certainly ask for a division on the first Bill which proposes to terminate the Commonwealth payroll tax. I hope very much that we might be able to defeat the Bill.
– I wish to speak quite briefly in support of these 3 Bills relating to payroll tax. Lf we look at the matter historically, we realise that these Bills have arisen following the agreement reached with the State Premiers in June. The first Bill relates to the termination of the Commonwealth taxing powers and the other 2 Bills relate to the introduction of the taxing powers and the levying of payroll tax in the Commonwealth Territories. We should remember that at the Premiers Conference there was agreement by all States that they would accept this tax which was offered to them by the Commonwealth. It was granted to the States in conjunction with an offsetting agreement by the Commonwealth in relation to the grants which would have been received by the States if payroll tax had been levied at the previous rate of 21 per cent. The Commonwealth agreement arose from a desire by the Commonwealth to grant to the States a growth tax which was constitutionally possible for them to levy and one which would give them a degree of growth and some taxing powers to enable them to apply their own priorities to some of their expenditure.
The passage of the first Bill will enable the Commonwealth to vacate the payroll tax field, and the effective transfer under this Bill will then enable the States to enact their legislation. We should realise that all States have introduced their State budgets anticipating the availability of this tax to them as a form of revenue within their own State budgets. The fact that payroll tax was introduced in 1941 as a measure to assist the payment of child endowment is recognised. It is recognised also that at the present time the various
Of course, most taxes are growth taxes because tax grows relative to the growth of national income. It is interesting to note that payroll tax over the last 10 years has had a 10 per cent average annual growth. It is fair to contrast that with income tax which over the same period of 10 years has had something like a 13 per cent growth. These things point up the fact that taxes are growth taxes in most forms, particularly in a developing nation such as Australia is.
Since the introduction in 1941 of payroll tax more than SI 00m has been paid from my own State of Victoria under the Payroll Tax Assessment Act which we are now seeking to terminate. It is also fair to state that the Victorian Government has looked closely at the matter of payroll tax. Indeed, it was that State which challenged its validity in the High Court quite recently. But the fact that the Victorian
Government now has the opportunity to levy this payroll tax within its own State Budget and that it will now determine its priorities on the increased revenue it will receive from the 3 J per cent rate of payroll tax was welcomed by the Victorian Government when presenting its Budget for the forthcoming year. The States did agree in unison to the increased rate of 3) per cent. I am sure that in each State similar priorities in the matters of education, health and social welfare will benefit directly from this increased revenue which comes directly to them for their determination.
The first Bill, as I mentioned, proposes to terminate the Commonwealth Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act. The second Bill which we are debating conjointly proposes to introduce the payroll tax into the Territories of the Commonwealth. This Bill contains a provision for the administration, assessment and collection of payroll tax in the Australian Capital Territory and iri the Northern Territory. The provisions of the Bill affecting the liability of employers to pay the tax have been modelled on the provisions in the existing Commonwealth payroll tax law; so I do not propose to outline those provisions. This new Bill introduces the powers for taxing in the Commonwealth Territories. Broadly stated, these powers will enable the Commonwealth in its Territories to impose payroll tax at the same rate of 2i per cent, which was the rate under the previous Act. They provide for similar exemptions to employers at an unchanged annual rate of $20,800, and they have the same sort of provisions for appeals and objections as relate to the present income tax law. It is somewhat of a machinery Bill but it is necessary to introduce it because the previous Bill terminates the existing arrangement.
The third Bill which is being dealt with enables payroll tax to be levied in the Territories of the Commonwealth. This Bill proposes that the rate shall be 2i per cent of the wages subject to tax under the provisions of the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act. In this same way this legislation, after it has been enacted, will enable the tax to be collected by the Commonwealth in its Territories. These Bills are important as part of the federal machinery. They are equally important to each of the States which have anticipated that this tax will be available to them for State budgeting purposes. I commend these 3 Bills to the Senate. I hope that they will be supported.
– We are indebted to Senator Guilfoyle for outlining to us the technical terms of the 3 Pay-Roil Tax Bills under discussion. I shall relate my remarks rather to the overall principles which are involved. I shall indicate where the Democratic Labor Party to which I belong stands on this matter. First of all, pay-roll tax is an iniquitous, wrong and base tax. I suggest that anybody who suggested introducing a pay-roll tax in the 1930s would have been immediately annihilated politically because the temper of the people would have been such that they would have stood for no tax on a pay-roll at that time. Indeed, as far as taxation is concerned, a pay-roll should be more sacrosanct than charity. When all is said and done this is a tax on what a man earns. In this community those who pay wages enable our economy to exist. This is an iniquitous tax because there is no fair basis of levelling it. Since the war years the Commonwealth has been most vicious in imposing this tax, particularly upon the States. Of course the States are going to be enriched not only because they now have a growth tax but also because they are not going to have to pay to the Commonwealth the enormous tax on their own payrolls.
What justification could there be for taxing the pay-roll of a State? The tax was not paid on profit. It was paid for the purpose of running institutions such as hospitals and schools. The more hospitals and schools a State provided the more pay-roll tax it was paying to the Commonwealth. Where could there be fairness of mind or purpose in levying a tax of this character? Over the years what has the pay-roll tax done to local government bodies? I can turn the clock of my memory back some 15 years. I remember the late Hon. Tom Brennan in the Victorian Legislative Council moving that at least the States should be exempt from this iniquitous tax. With the wage levels applying at that time the tax was not nearly as serious a proposition as it ultimately became. It was one of the major factors which was causing the States to become bankrupt and making the Commonwealth an affluent taxing authority. It is beyond my reasoning to understand how any political party, allegedly representing State interests in this place, could in any way deprecate a proposal for the Commonwealth to vacate this field of taxation. I think it is unfortunate that because of the very poverty stricken circumstances of State finances, with the vacating of this field of taxation by the Commonwealth, the States are forced to enter this field an J to grasp some growth factor in taxation.
Previously, the States have had the right to levy an entertainment tax. That tax did not rise every time wages went up. But the payroll tax which the States had to pay to the Commonwealth did. This is one of the reasons why the States gradually became so impoverished that there was almost a national crisis in Commonwealth-State financial relations, lt was suggested that this crisis be solved by imposing an equally iniquitous form of taxation which was the turnover tax. This tax was paid whether or not one made a profit. Previously it was a form of taxation which had been feasible only on the race track and in the gambling industries. As such industries manufactured nothing, created nothing and ran little chance of loss, it was found that bookmakers could pay a turnover tax. Then, of course, this phosophy was extended by the States to general trading as a desperate means of obtaining some form of income which would grow with the general growth of turnover within the community. A Commonwealth Treasurer irresponsibly said in a newspaper article that the tax could be increased 10 times, lt was only the very minor amount which was levied and not the principle of the tax which enabled it to operate at all. What a multiplication by 10 times of the payroll tax would have done to people acting in an agency capacity, such as stockbrokers, I would shudder to think if 1 were one who clung tenaciously to the belief that stockbrokers or estate agents were necessay It would have been impossible for certain people to function but a Federal Treasurer went on record as saying that if the States were in trouble they could increase the turnover tax by up to 10 times its then level.
The Bills before us mean that the Commonwealth is to abandon a bad field of taxation which is known as ‘payroll tax’. This tax was introduced under war time conditions on the understanding that it would disappear. It was forced upon the community by circumstances of war. As I said before, it was levied viciously against non-profit earning organisations such as State and local government bodies to the extent that it was one of the major factors which ensured that such bodies became debt ridden to the Commonwealth. Ultimately the Commonwealth had to write off untold millions of dollars which were owed by the States in interest on debts which they had incurred to enable them to pay payroll tax and other such taxes to the Commonwealth. As I have said before in this chamber, little children playing shop would not believe in this tax as a form of financing. But apparently governments can receive advice from alleged experts and consider that this tax is a way in which revenue can be raised - a painless extraction method by which the people will be taxed and they will not know that they are being taxed.
There is no qualification that under this form of tax a man who is paying a substantial payroll and contributing to the economy of the nation is actually making a profit. A man can be showing a loss on his business enterprise yet the Government says: ‘We want a share of the profit which you are not making because you happen to be paying wages to people who work and earn them’. When the situation is put that way does the tax sound a very feasible or fair proposition? In this day and age we are presuming that everybody who has a payroll sufficiently large enough to attract payroll tax must be making a profit. Yet today we are on a swing in the economy which makes it very doubtful - particularly in industrial enterprises - whether many businesses are making a profit which is equivalent to the profit which can be derived by the direct investment of money in Commonwealth loans. Of course one can obtain certain rebates on that investment. But if one runs a business enterprise and pays wages to workers to manufacture goods which can be sold on a market and in the process one shows a loss, then one becomes subject to a tax.
We are opposed to the philosophy behind payroll tax. But this field of taxation has now been vacated by the Commonwealth. The States may now impose the lax. We say that in this chamber at least the Commonwealth measures should be supported. The measure which goes to the extent of imposing in Commonwealth Territories some equality with what the Slates propose to do is an unfortunate repercussion of the whole business of payroll tax. lt is unreasonable to expect that if a tax of this character is to be levied by the States because of their financial circumstances the Commonwealth Territories should be free of this tax. That would contravene the principle that Senator Wilkinson was speaking about when he said there would be a serious threat to the economy of the nation if a tax were levied in some areas but not generally throughout the Commonwealth. If territories under the control of the Commonwealth were exempt people operating in those territories would be in particularly advantageous circumstances. It is not our function here to decide whether the States should take over and extend the payroll tax but rather to decide whether the Commonwealth, after abandoning it, should reimpose it in areas under Commonwealth control in order to maintain equality with the States.
We see no choice in this matter at this time other than to vote for the termination of Commonwealth levied payroll tax and for it to be reimposed in Commonwealth Territories in order to make them compatible with the States. We hope that government financing in the future will not be based on payroll tax and taxes which have no relationship to the income or prosperity of the individuals who have to pay or the businesses which have to pay, particularly those which happen to be snowing a loss in their enterprises. This is like taxing the unemployed - people with no income at all. I ask honourable senators whether they agree with that philosophy. Do they agree that we should tax a business man who is only breaking even on the payroll that he pays his employees? There may be some people in this chamber who regard the whole of the employing class as monsters or who want to create the impression that they are monsters. I do not subscribe to that philosophy.
Many of the employers I have worked with and for have been very sensible and high minded people I have known businesses to go bankrupt because the employer has endeavoured to employ for too long some of the labour that was redundant in the existing business circumstances. This happened in the shoe industry with which I was concerned. In the 1930s there were innumerable cases of employers who went broke trying to maintain in employment labour that was no longer required because of poor turnover. If the same circumstances that applied then applied now, the man going bankrupt would be levied payroll tax. I suggest that in the circumstances at that time, when so many people were involved, it would have been political annihilation for anybody to suggest that course. That principle is still true.
Any honourable senator on either side of this chamber who is not prepared to stand and say that we ought to tax the unemployed ought to realise that measures like payroll tax and turnover tax mean the same thing to business people who are not making a profit. Those honourable senators should realise that they would be imposing upon those people who had the initiative to start businesses in the community - manufacturing, retail and others - a situation they would not attempt to impose on people simply working for a salary, whether they be professional men or employees in industry.
The payroll tax principle is wrong, Mr Deputy President, and we are glad that at last the Commonwealth is abandoning the field although we regret the circumstances under which it is doing so. We believe that this is an iniquitous tax that ought to disappear from our statute book. Taxes ought to be imposed by the governments in this country on those who show by their record that they can afford to pay - those who are making profits and earning money irrespective of how it is earned. That is a fair basis. We should get rid of these insidious, undercover, underhand methods of extracting the finance which is necessary in order to run the country.
– Certainly nobody enjoys the incidence of tax; it is disliked by all sections of the community. However, the major revenue earner for the Commonwealth is income tax and, due basically to the appreciation that its major impact is on those in the higher income levels, it is generally regarded as the more acceptable of the direct taxation methods. Senator Little indicated that payroll tax has been one of the forms of taxation considered unacceptable in the community. Some forms of taxation are abhorrent and I believe that payroll tax has been one of those in the years that I have known of it. It is interesting to read the original second reading speech relating to the introduction of payroll tax in 1941. It was introduced, as was suggested by 2 previous speakers, as a measure supposedly designed to bring in two-thirds of the money required to contribute some supplement to the wages and income of the family man. I propose to quote some of the words used in that speech because they have great reference to a subject we were debating last Thursday. They demonstrate what a different attitude can be displayed within this Senate within a period of years. Senator Leckie of Victoria, who was the Assistant Minister at that time, undoubtedly was not reading his second reading speech but was making it off the cuff. His comments were as follows:
In other words, it will provide funds with which the Government will supplement the wages and income of the family man. The importance of the family man to this country is too often overlooked. We are a comparatively small community in a vast country, and in our time some nations have assumed that might is right. If we are to survive as a nation there must be at least a sufficient number of Australians to develop and defend this country,. In such circumstances, the family assumes a role of paramount importance. At this point I draw the attention of honourable senators to two simple facts. The first is that in each of the last 8 years, that is, from 1932 to 1939, the birth-rate in Australia has been lower than the replacement rate. The other is that at present there are 100,000 fewer children under the age of 15 years in this country than there were 7 years ago. These facts are of the utmost significance to all of us. The state of affairs indicated is thoroughly bad, but features even worse can develop. A declining birth-rate has a snowball effect: its evils increase. Unless, therefore, something is done, quickly, to arrest the decline of the birth-rate, we must soon find ourselves surrounded with difficulties which will be infinitely greater than those with which we are confronted.
That is a most interesting comment on the great representations made in the Senate last Thursday night. They, generally, were the arguments which supported Senator Leckie’s comment that the imposition of payroll tax was a measure of more than ordinary importance.
The business world generally over the years has pointed out its objection to this type of taxation. As pointed out, this tax has been levied on companies or management whether or not they were profitable. This tax has been paid but objected to in Australia over past years. It has been an interesting form of tax from a Government point of view because few people have felt its impact and few people would know that it has existed. The accounting work involved for businesses has been considerable over that period. There will bc many companies which, having heard originally that payroll tax was to be eliminated on a Commonwealth basis, will be utterly dismayed to learn that this field which the Commonwealth is vacating is to be taken over by the various State governments.
As the Commonwealth vacates this field I would make the plea that the Government bear in mind, when considering any area of taxation which it may now wish to promote, the needs of business interests so far as they have to carry out the collecting and accounting functions of government. This has been the situation over past years and it has not been generally appreciated. In many companies today a payroll has to be paid purely to service the forms and papers relating to the tax collection required by the Government. A reduction in other areas of taxation imposed by both Federal and State authorities could be of great use for businesses. The various trading bodies, particularly those in the Chamber of Manufactures and the Chamber of Commerce, might well make a study of a means of confining the various areas of taxation, the returns required and the various methods by which payment is made to the Government as a result of this impost on businesses. Undoubtedly the hours worked by private industry in the interests of governments could well be reduced.
The Bills now being debated will initially create some hope that taxation will be reduced. However, it is regrettable that the States have immediately seen fit to increase payroll tax by at least 40 per cent. I imagine that in the future we will see the States vying with each other to obtain industry by using payroll tax as an inducement. Unless the Commonwealth immediately increases its payroll tax from 2i per cent to 3) per cent, which the State governments are now levying, industries will be encouraged to the Commonwealth Territories. Perhaps that move should be encouraged, but it is rather difficult at present to envisage a uniform level of payroll tax throughout Australia. lt is regrettable that governments generally have not had the ability to reduce the costs of their administration by this move. For instance, the Commonwealth should be able to state that there will be a significant reduction in employment within the Taxation Office now that the Commonwealth has vacated the field of payroll tax. I questioned the Taxation Office about a likely reduction in .staff and costs but, as one would expect, the integration of work within the Office is such that it is not possible to indicate potential savings. One must realise that the community is interested in obtaining government administration at the lowest possible cost and as the Commonwealth is vacating a field of activity it should be able to effect a reduction in employment. The States are entering the field and will be setting up a new area in which they will need to issue documents and control payroll tax. I suggest that neither the Commonwealth nor the States have indicated to the community that in handling taxation on its behalf they are developing a truly economic situation.
The Commonwealth will vacate the field of payroll tax but will remain in certain other fields of taxation. The State governments will enter the field of payroll tax. An assessment should have been made of the savings to be effected by a complete vacation by the Commonwealth of fields in which Commonwealth taxes are duplicated by State taxes. I have in mind particularly estate duty and probate duty. In Victoria, and of course in the other States, probate duty is imposed firstly by a State authority on an estate, involving an enormous workload for that authority. Immediately its assessment of probate is finished, or even while it is proceeding, a Commonwealth authority in the same field handles the same figures. I am not criticising the 2 authorities as they act, but there are grounds for believing that it is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to reduce its role altogether in the States by relinquishing estate duty and concentrating on those fields of taxation which are truly in the Federal sphere. lt is excellent that the Commonwealth has assessed that it can forego $100m in taxation in the interests of giving a growth tax to the States. I think that the Commonwealth should now consider economic means of reducing the incidence of duplicate taxes in the Commonwealth and State areas. The argument that the States have not been able to live within their budgets has never struck me as having great force. It has always seemed to me that with the general growth in the Commonwealth’s income there has been a basically similar percentage payout of Commonwealth moneys to the States. In 1959-60 State and local government expenditures represented 14.3 per cent of the gross national product. In 1970-71 that percentage had grown to 16.4, a very much enhanced figure. With the concurrence of honourable senators I I incorporate in Hansard 2 tables which demonstrate that over a period of years the Commonwealth has returned to the States a large proportion of the total Commonwealth Budget outlay, and this has never been reduced to any large extent.
lt has not been mentioned in this debate that the vacation of the payroll tax field by the Commonwealth will mean the elimination of the benefit which has been given to export industries through a rebate in respect of payroll tax. This is a most important matter. I understand that in the original concept the Government granted to industries which increased their export earnings a rebate of a percentage of their payroll tax payments. 1 doubt that the States will grant a similar concession. The Commonwealth has indicated that it will continue to allow refunds to export industries until, I think, 30th June J 972. That move is certainly to be applauded. However, I suggest that there is a necessity to give the strongest consideration to moves by which the Commonwealth could continue to encourage exporters. Perhaps a benefit could be paid in proportion to expenses incurred in promoting export sales. Alternatively, a small percentage refund could be granted on export sales by companies, established by a comparison of payroll tax with total exports. Either way may be suitable in compensating and encouraging companies engaged in the export field.
The Minister indicated in an explanation of the provisions of this Bill that exemptions under clause 13 are effectively the same as those provided for statutory local government bodies. I believe that, as the States will now exempt councils and local government bodies, the Commonwealth is likely to take similar action in its Territories, save for the trading activities of those bodies. I have great pleasure in supporting the vacation of the payroll tax field by the Commonwealth.
– The Opposition does not support the proposals before the Senate. We do not believe that the Commonwealth should vacate the field of payroll tax and hand it over to the States. We do not regard this as a machinery Bill. Rather we believe that a strong taxation principle is involved. 1 found myself in substantial agreement with the philosophical approach of Senator Little but I regret that he went on to indicate that although he opposes the terms of the Bill he sees no purpose in doing other than supporting it in the Senate. Under the guise of stabilising State finances, the Bill seeks to hand over to the States the power to collect tax on payroll which, as may be known, was instituted in the national Parliament in 1941.
According to statements made by the Government speakers, the purpose of the Bill is to give the States access to a growth tax. There is no doubt that the moment the States had their hot, clammy little hands upon the tax they set out to increase it by 40 per cent, thereby adding approximately $90m to the cost structure and S90m to the various State budget revenues. It is pretty clear that the payroll tax will be a jet tax. It will be rising continually. I therefore share the fears of those who oppose the Bill because undoubtedly the States will be forced - this is the strategy of the Commonwealth - to solve their financial problems by constantly increasing this tax. The State governments had no alternative other than to accept this tax. If they had not accepted it, there was no possibility of their receiving even temporary relief from the financial crisis that is affecting all- of the State budgets and those of the semi-government and local government instrumentalities. The payroll tax has been described as an unjust, sectional and inequitable tax. It is one which certainly we on this side of the Senate would like to sec abolished at the Commonwealth level. It is one which we would like to see abolished completely from the taxation structures of this country.
It is interesting to turn back through the debates and to see the reasons, the atmosphere and the background for the introduction of the tax in 1941. Largely, the legislation 10 introduce the tax was supported as being very just, because, in a period of war and of some financial difficulties, it sought to provide the Commonwealth with sufficient funds to enable it to take over the responsibilities of making a 5s child endowment payment to all children under 16 years of age. In the 30 years since the introduction of payroll tax, over $2,700m has been collected by the Commonwealth via this tax. So it cannot be said that it has not provided revenue of some magnitude and that it has not had some impact upon the general cost structure in our country.
When Mr Anthony, the father of the present Deputy Prime Minister, introduced the legislation on behalf of the Government he said that a rate of £2 10s per centum would be imposed on all wages paid or payable by any employer after 30th June 1941. As the debate at the time indicated, it was regarded as a temporary measure. It was designed to assist the Government to accept its responsibilities at that time and to provide financial assistance to families, particularly large families, who were still suffering from the after effects of the great depression. So we accept the fact that the legislation was introduced at the time because there war, no other course of action left to the Government of the day. As we have seen in the intervening period, payroll tax revenue has become an integral part of Commonwealth revenue. lt is worth referring to the fact that in the 1941 Budget the income proposed to be received from payroll tax was less than £9m, or $18m in today’s currency; but this increased in the 1970-71 Budget to th2 princely sum of $230,468,697. Even in one year, the amount to be collected from the tax increased by $25m. When the tax was introduced it accounted for nine-thirteenths of the amount that was paid by the Commonwealth in child endowment. It is interesting to note how the situation has changed. We are now on the other side of the penny, because in the period presently under review, during which the Commonwealth proposes to vacate the field of payroll tax, Consolidated Revenue profited from payroll tax by 832m in excess of the amount needed to meet child endowment commitments. As has been said many times, it appears that the Commonwealth has profited considerably, as regards its income, by the inflationary spiral. Quite obviously, the States propose to use this tax as a means of trying to balance their Budgets.
I have access to only the New South Wales Slate Budget. I note that the Premier of New South Wales proposes to raise the tremendous sum of $145m in his current Budget by the payroll tax. I think we can come to the conclusion that in vacating the field the Commonwealth has forced the States to increase payroll tax because, whilst vacating this field and handing over certain sums of money to the States via payroll tax, it has nevertheless also sought to reduce the reimbursement? and grants to the State governments. The Commonwealth finds itself in a hypocritical and contradictory position. Government spokesmen have been stumping th« country telling John Citizen that wage rises are the cause of inflation. If this is true, a tax imposed on wages must equally play a part in cost inflation. After all, if wages rise - and this is what Government spokesmen have been saying - this is contributing to the inflationary spiral. As I have indicated, the Commonwealth Government’s assertion in this direction cannot be seen in a good light because approximately $92m will be received by the State governments as a result of the increase in payroll tax. If the Commonwealth Government was sincere in its economic deflationary moves, it could have vacated the field completely - not handed the tax over to the States - in an endeavour to play some part in reducing the cost structure. That is assuming that the arguments Government spokesmen have been producing in their propaganda have any merit at all.
Approximately 58,000 firms, persons, companies and corporations are paying payroll tax. This proves that it is a sectional tax. Only a portion of the employers are paying tax. About two-thirds of the total number of employers in Australia qualify to pay the tax. Of course, it is significant that all Commonwealth Government agencies are exempt. It is worth pointing to the fact that the figures that I have been able to obtain show that in 1941 approximately 6.13 per cent of the total work force at the time of the last census prior to World War II worked in the Public Service. In May 1971 this figure has risen to 19.99 per cent, which represents an increase in excess of 300 per cent. Most of the tax that has been levied on the State, local and semi-government authorities has therefore been a tax upon the people themselves. It has been a double tax.
The Opposition opposes the Bill because it will not solve the financial crisis in State, semi-government and local government finances. In point of fact, since the Budget was introduced - ostensibly it was a Budget to curb inflation - the various States have introduced their Budgets, each one contributing greatly to the inflationary trends. We have seen Bolte’s blunders in the form of the receipts duty tax in Victoria, which was finally declared invalid, and the attempt to introduce a room tax, which looks like succeeding. He has drastically increased the charges generally in that State. Of course, now he has increased the payroll tax as well, after failing in his challenge to the validity of the Commonwealth legislation in the High Court. The same position applies in New South Wales where the motorist has been hit by the current budgetary problems in that State. Stamp duty, the cost of cheques, hospital charges and fares have increased. Although the Government may use the argument that this is a growth tax and will contribute towards a solution of the problems facing the States, I think that what has happened in the brief month or two that the 2 Houses of the national Parliament have been discussing the Commonwealth Budget is evidence that inflation will continue and that payroll tax will not make any appreciable difference in the matter of costs in the various States.
The only ray of sunshine is that local government authorities and semigovernment bodies now will escape the penalty of having to pay the tax. The figures that I have been able to garner over the past few months indicate that since the tax was established 30 years ago local and semigovernment bodies have paid in excess of $50m to the Commonwealth in payroll tax. This means that ratepayers’ money has been filched by the Commonwealth and spent in areas under Commonwealth control, thus reducing the effectiveness of local government authorities and semigovernment bodies to provide the many facilities which are so desirable in our community. Payroll tax is a special tax, and for that reason we oppose it. We are in good company here because when this matter was debated in the national Parliament in 1941 speakers from both sides of the House - Messrs Francis and Spooner were 2 from the Government side - directed attention to the undesirability of establishing special taxes. Temporary taxes become permanent taxes and form part of the Government’s revenue.
Let me mention the way in which special taxes finally become built into the whole tax structure. For instance, sales tax was introduced as a temporary measure by Mr Theodore in the Scullin Government. Today in our current Budget it has brought into Commonwealth revenue the princely sum of S630m. It is no longer a temporary measure. Petrol tax was introduced by the Bruce-Page Government in about 1929, ostensibly to provide funds for roads but a greater proportion than ever of that tax has gone into Commonwealth revenue. As honourable senators on both sides of the chamber have agreed, payroll tax was introduced to offset the cost of child endowment but despite the fact that in the last financial year $3 2m was paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund in payroll tax, child endowment has been kept to a very low level. Clearly that tax has lost its temporary nature and has finished up in the Commonwealth’s coffers.
For those reasons the Opposition feels that it has no alternative but to urge the Senate to reject the proposition before it. Although we are happy with the proposition that the Commonwealth should vacate the field, we feel that the Commonwealth should vacate the field generally and permit the States to have access to a better financial formula than that provided in the system of payroll tax. We believe that the time has arrived for a complete overhaul of our taxation system. Obviously the Commonwealth is not prepared to do that. It wants to retain a piecemeal approach to the subject. On the other hand, we believe that it would have been much better for the Commonwealth to have re-organised the whole taxation structure, thereby playing a significant part in instituting the deflationary .measures that are so necessary today while at the same time assisting State governments, semi-government bodies and local government authorities to carry out their responsibilities without having to take part in the annual circus that goes on prior to the preparation of the Budget each financial year. We oppose the proposition before the Senate.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (5.40) - in reply - Honourable senators who have taken part in this debate have indicated the views of the Government, the Opposition and the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I shall be brief because I want a vote taken on these Bills before the suspension of the sitting to facilitate the passage of other legislation to come before us. To Senator Webster let me say that a Bill to provide grants to industry equal tn the rebates which would have been allowable under the payroll tax rebate system will be introduced before the end of the session. There is no immediacy about that such as is the case with the Bills now before us because we have time available to us. Senator Gietzelt made the point that local government authorities will be relieved of the burden of payroll tax. It is the Government’s intention that local government authorities in the Territories will receive the same concession as that made to authorities in the States, provided always that the local government authorities are not engaged in a business undertaking. Subject to that qualification, the same concession will apply. 1 think that the most effective way to deal with the Bills is to vote on the motion for the second reading of the Pay-roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill, and I suggest that that course be followed.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 28 September (vide page 895), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole?
– No. I want to raise a question in relation to clause 2, but I want also to raise quite a number of questions in relation to the remainder of the Bill. After dealing with clause 2 it would not be until we reached clause 29 that we would be able to take a group of clauses together.
– I wished to facilitate the business of the Senate to enable the debate on another Bill to proceed immediately after the suspension of the sitting.
– I realise that. But there are questions that I want to bring up,
Sitting suspended from 5.4 to8 p.m.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Interpretation).
– I wish to raise a point in relation to the definition of wages. Wages are. of course, the ingredient upon which taxation is paid. Paragraph (a) of the definition of wages refers to a payment made under a prescribed class of contracts to the extent to which the payment is attributable to labour.I should have thought that in any legislation which imposes a tax the Parliament would decide upon whom the lax was to be imposed; but in this legislation the decision has been left to a regulation or a prescription. The Parliament itself is not deciding tonight who shall pay this (ax; it has been left to someone else to decide.
I think it is most essential that some consideration be given to the points I desire to raise. I rise mainly to point out that the payment of payroll tax is being avoided in the building industry by the practice of sub-contracting. An employer who has a wages bill of some $400 a week or $20,800 a year is required to pay payroll tax. By adopting the practice of sub-contracting employers can have a wages bill below the amount upon which it is necessary to pay this form of taxation. The practice in Australia of a master builder employing his own operatives for building purposes has ended. The system of sub-contracting is being followed purely for the purpose of avoiding the payment of payroll tax. Quite a lot of taxation can be avoided on every large building.
The recent remarks of public works authorities would appear to indicate that it is much cheaper to get work completed on a sub-contract basis than on a day labour basis. This is because the payment of payroll tax can be dodged. It is much cheaper in relation to a large building project on which perhaps 100 operatives are employed for something like 12 months for a land agent to take as a commission part of what would normally go to the Government. An examination of tendering by contractors for public works projects will show that the successful tenderer is usually the one who has submitted the lowest tender. Thus, although public authorities get their work done at a cheaper rate, it is at a cost to the Treasury. Therefore there is in fact no saving at all to the Government. Whilst who should pay this tax have not been previously prescribed in payroll tax legislation it should be prescribed in future legislation. I hope this matter will be looked into. But I still oppose the practice of allowing somebody else and not the Parliament decide who shall pay the tax.
(8.5) - Senator Cavanagh has raised a very interesting point. In relation to paragraph (a) of the definition of wages in clause 4 he said, as I understood him, that because the building industry sub-contracts to a significant extent the payment of payroll tax is avoided to a large degree. I do not think Senator Cavanagh specifically mentioned, although I think it is clearly what he had in mind, that in a situation where there was a whole multiplicity of subcontracts, all below $20,300, which is the payroll tax exemption, the payment of a significant amount in payroll tax could be avoided. 1 think that is a fair statement of what in effect could happen.
– It is happening.
I think it is also significant to point out that the building industry traditionally operates on a sub-contract basis. There is a tendency for sub-contracting right throughout the industry, even in home building. As Senator Cavanagh very properly pointed out, one could under those circumstances avoid the payment of payroll tax on a significant building project. My advisers have informed me that a regulation could be subject to disallowance. I think I should point out that this provision follows the pattern set in the old Act. J am also informed that it follows the pattern which the States are following in relation to this matter. I would be the first to acknowledge that perhaps that is not an answer to Senator Cavanagh’s remarks but, short of seeking a further examination of this matter later on, I cannot offer any more at this stage.
Senator Cavanagh has taken the view that the way in which this provision is shaped means that deliberate action could be taken to avoid the payment of payroll tax. In reply to that comment I wish to say that this provision follows the practice which has been adopted in the past. It follows the provision which we understand is to be reflected in the State Acts and it certainly recognises the fact, which the honourable senator would know better than most of us, that the building industry has always lent itself to sub-contracting.
– I do not want to take that matter much further. However, I do want to correct the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) on a few details. I know it has been the tradition. That is what I am complaining about. The question of following the policy adopted in State legislation is another matter altogether. I think we have a right to give some leadership on a matter in relation to which something is wrong, especially when the Government could be deprived of money to which it is entitled by way of taxation. I disagree entirely with the comment that the building industry has always been an industry that has lent itself to subcontracting. I learned a trade in the building industry by working for a master builder who captured contacts as a result of proud boasts about his capability as a master builder.
– And the skill, no doubt, of his workers.
– 1 said that I learned the trade. He had to put up with a lot in the early days. If I acquired any skill it was as a result of the class of work that he was doing. Builders and many others could not compete if they employed day labour because, when payroll tax came into operation, contractors could avoid payment of the tax. Exemptions were provided if the builder was engaged in the construction of single cottages, but a master builder would build a number of cottages over a 1-year period. To be able to compete it was essential that he tender on the basis of sub-contracting. That resulted in the corruption of the industry. It has more mediocre tradesmen in it today than it had at any other period.
As a result the South Australian Government has appealed to employers to employ apprentices. But apprentices are not used in the building trade, which is relying upon departments such as the Department of Public Works to employ apprentices. The builder employs no-one because if he does he has to have a ratio of apprentices to employees. Such a person has not sufficient continuity of work to enable him to engage an apprentice for 4 or 5 years. That has brought about a complete collapse of the provision of building tradesmen. One of the biggest contributors to that fact is the ability of employers to avoid the payment of payroll tax. That system is encroaching on other industries in Australia today. I say that we should be definite that there should be a payment for sub-contracting and that it should not be left to a prescription as it has been on other occasions. As the Minister said, if the regulation is before the Senate we can disallow it. I do not know what we can do if our complaint about the regulation is that it does not go far enough. We do not want to disallow it when we want it to cover a wider area. I do not think that is the solution. It is a bad practice to have taxation imposed on someone when the Parliament cannot decide on whom it should be imposed.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (8.12) - I think Senator Cavanagh has made the point that he wants to make. I feel bound to say that to my conscious knowledge and, I think, to the conscious knowledge of everybody here on a job of any magnitude drainers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and tilers sub-contract. They all are open and shut cases of which I have conscious knowledge. There may be more. That, of course, does not get away from the point that Senator Cavanagh purported to make, that is, that sub-contractors on a given job, provided they keep below the minimum figure, would be exempt from the payment of the tax. 1 do not walk away from that. I say that there is a high degree of sub-contracting, certainly in New South Wales. I think the honourable senator has made his point and I have made my response to it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 27 - by leave - taken together and agreed to.
Clause 28 agreed to.
Clause 29 (Substituted Service).
– I must raise one point on this clause. 1 take the matter no further than to raise it. The clause does not seem correct to me. lt states:
If, in proceedings against an employer for the recovery of tax, further tax or additional tax, the defendant -
is absent from Australia and has not, to the knowledge of the Commissioner after reasonable inquiry, in that behalf, any attorney or agent in Australia on whom service of process can be effected; or
cannot after reasonable inquiry, be found-
That means that if his whereabouts are unknown - any process in the proceedings may, without leave of the court, be served on him by post addressed to his last known place of business or residence in Australia.
I take it for granted that proceedings can be commenced and that it would be accepted that notification was served on the person. He may not be in default. An accusation may be levelled against him, and he has the right to defend it. But he cannot be found. The Commissioner of Taxation can send notification to a certain address and that is sufficient to say that it was served. Any proceedings that it is’ desired to take can be commenced. I think that is contrary to our system of justice which requires that a defendant should have notification of hearing, trial and anything relating lo court proceedings.
(8.17) - I appreciate the point raised by Senator Cavanagh. On the face of it clause 29 would appear to have certain implications, but I am told that it will be used only in extreme circumstances. It will be used only when there is a view in the mind of those in responsible positions that the person or organisation is attempting to place himself or itself outside the jurisdiction or is deliberately avoiding service of process. Similar provisions have seldom been used. This clause is inserted as an added safeguard against a circumstance which could arise. It would be used only in a particular case. That is the only information that I have; that is the explanation given to me by my advisers. The provision is not a new one, I gather. A substituted service provision is to be found not only in this but in other legislation. When I was associated with real estate, if there was an avoidance of service the notification could be pinned on the door. In certain circumstances it could be pinned on a post in a fence. This was the absolute ultimate. When the case was heard the circumstances in which the process of service was made had to be established. The clause is inserted as a safeguard against the ultimate situation. That ls the only information that I have at present.
– I take the point a little further. I am having a fairly difficult battle with the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) because of his previous experience as a land agent. He is confusing the issue by referring to the pinning of a notice on a fence or door. I take it that he was referring to a notice of eviction. That service was permissible at one time. The person occupying the dwelling had to see the notice. This is a different matter. The clause states:
If, in proceedings against an employer for the recovery of tax, further tax or additional tax-
The proceedings here are for recovery. I think that proceedings for recovery against a person who has not taken certain action are quite different from proceedings in
which a tenant has to be notified that there is a court order for his eviction or that the court is hearing the case. I think that in this case the person should at least have knowledge that there is a hearing at which he has the right to attend and plead his case, if he has a case. I hope that this provision is used only in extreme circumstances, such as on the occasion where someone is trying to place himself outside the jurisdiction of the law. But it would be a sorry state of affairs if we put into legislation a provision whereby court action could be taken and someone could have a penalty imposed upon him without his knowledge that the court proceeding was taking place. That is what I am concerned about.
I am not over-sympathetic towards employers, especially employers who dodge taxation. I think there is an clement of right and justice in Australia which dictates that there should be notification. Senator Greenwood had some trouble because the authorities had to break into a university building to arrest someone. I think there is a responsibility to find the person and serve the notice. At least in my State there is a right to leave a summons with a person, apparently over the age of 16 years, at the residence occupied by the defendant. But in the Australian Capital Territory a notice can be posted to an empty house, perhaps with the knowledge that the person accused will never receive it. In such circumstances proceedings can be conducted and additional penalties imposed against an individual ‘ without his knowledge. I do not care what the Minister says; it is not the correct procedure. However much it occurs in the laws of Australia, now is the time when it should be stopped. I hope that my bringing it before the Senate tonight will set a precedent in ensuring that we do not see a repetition of such wording in Acts in the future.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 30 and 31 - by leave - taken together -
– 1 would like to deal with clauses 30 and 31 together. Clause 30 reads: (1.) A person who is liquidator of a company, being a company that is being wound-up and is an employer registered or required to be registered . . .
Perhaps I could ask the Minister, first of all, what is intended by the expression ‘a company being wound-up’? Would it apply to a company that is bankrupt? Would it apply to a company that is not bankrupt but being wound-up for the purpose of entering another method of operation? Would it apply to a company which was completing its business? I am most anxious to know what happens to the bankrupt company which may be in arrears with taxation. Under clause 30, when a liquidator is appointed, is he appointed for a company that may be a bankrupt company and therefore being wound-up because of bankruptcy?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (8.23) - First of all, 1 will deal with the honourable senator’s very colourful question in ‘ relation to a company being wound-up. I think that a company which is being wound-up is either voluntarily or involuntarily being closed down. My advisers might help me on this. I think we all know what being wound-up means in relation to a company or individuals. It means that its operations virtually are closed because of the peculiar circumstances with which it is faced. There may be . a variety of reasons .for winding up a company.
– It could be so that it can pay its debts.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONA common reason, of course, is so that it can have liquidity on bankruptcy or when it is in the process of bankruptcy or something of that nature. I did not quite get the implication of the second part of the honourable senator’s question. Perhaps he could state it again.
– I think that explanation is sufficient. That brings me to my next point. A company that is wound up because of its inability to pay its debts would be a bankrupt company. Of course, clause 30 places certain responsibilities on the liquidator when the company is wound up. Clause 30 (6.) states:
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, all costs, charges and expenses that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, have beta properly incurred by the liquidator in the winding-up of a company, including the remuneration of the liquidator, may be paid out of the assets of the company in priority to any, tax payable in respect of the company.
Clause 30(7.) states:
Nothing in this section limits the liability of a liquidator under section 65 of this Act.
Clause 65 states:
The following provisions apply with respect to every agent and every trustee: -
Of course, the liquidator is then given certain responsibilities under clause 65. Clause 65(e) states:
He shall retain from time to time out of any money which comes to him in his representative capacity so much as is sufficient to pay the tax that is or will become due in respect of such wages.
In other words, the liquidator has a responsibility lo hold any moneys in order to pay the tax imposed on the wages. In order to explain my point, I find it necessary to go on to clause 31, which states:
Where an agent for an absentee principal has been required by the principal to wind-up the business of his principal, he shall, before taking any steps to wind-up the business, notify the Commissioner of his intention to do so. and shall set aside such sum out of the assets of the principal as appears to the Commissioner to be sufficient to provide for any tax that may become payable.
Under that clause the liquidator is required to notify the Commissioner and to hold the money available to pay the payroll tax to the Commissioner. Clause 32(5.) states:
The amount of any tax, further tax or additional tax payable by the trustees is a charge on all the deceased employer’s estate in their hands in priority to all other encumbrances other than charges in respect of debts payable to the Commissioner.
Therefore there is a charge on the estate of a deceased person, whether or not he is bankrupt. This clause is in conflict, in my mind, with section 109 of the Bankruptcy Act, for which we fought and in relation to which we successfully moved amendments in this Senate. If it is a bankrupt firm, the liquidator has a responsibility under clause 30(7.). The liquidator can pay the liabilities and the rest of the proceeds from the sale of goods has to be earmarked for the purpose of paying payroll tax. After some long discussions and after the Opposition successfully moved amendments in this chamber, section 109 of the Bankruptcy Act now reads: (1.) Subject to this Act and to sections 221P and 22 1 YU of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1967, the trustees shall, before applying the proceeds of the property of the bankrupt in making any payments, apply those proceeds in the following order:
The section then lists the order of payment. Firstly, administrative fees must be paid, and then we come down to the payment of liabilities and commitments. Then we have the payment of all amounts ‘due to or in respect of any employee of the bankrupt, whether remunerated by salary, wages, commission or otherwise, in respect of long service leave, annual leave, recreation leave or sick leave in respect of a period before the date of the bankruptcy’. While wages and long service leave are eighth in priority, the tenth priority, which is sub-section (j), reads: in payment of assessed income tax or income tax and social services contribution, being tax or tax and contribution assessed under any Act or State Act or Ordinance of a Territory of the Commonwealth before the date of the bankruptcy, not exceeding in the whole one year’s assessment;
There we have the contradiction. The trustee under the Bankruptcy Act is affected by section 221p(2.) of the Income Tax Assessment Act which states:
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act or State Act,
There we see the words: ‘Notwithstanding anything contained’, so it does not matter what we have in the payroll tax legislation - an amount payable to the Commissioner by a trustee in pursuance of this section shall have priority over all other debts, whether preferential, secured or unsecured.
This debt relates to the situation where an employer makes a deduction for the purposes of this Division and therefore where the employer has deducted wages - notwithstanding what may be said in some other Act - this Division of the Income Tax Assessment Act has preference. Section 221 yu of the Income Tax Assessment Act states: (1.) Where-
There we have the situation where taxation has been deductedfrom the employee’s wagesbut not paid to the Taxation Department. We have taxation on a dividend which has a first right under the
Income Tax Assessment Act and the Bankruptcy Act. Leaving aside any wording such as ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act’, in the light of the 2 paragraphs I have just cited in the Income Tax Assessment Act we have what I consider is about the eighth preference for payment indicated in section 109 (h) of the Bankruptcy Act which relates to wages due to an employee. The tenth preference is indicated in paragraph (j) which states:
If the tax contribution is assessed under any Act of the States it receives tenth preference under the Bankruptcy Act Now we are asked to passlgislation which requires a liquidator of a company to pay the payroll tax first. This is in complete contradiction to the Income Tax Assessment Act. If one is appointed a liquidator he has a liability to pay payroll tax as he is instructed under the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill. Under the Bill I think a fine of$100 is imposed on him if he fails to comply with the provisions of the clause.
If he does as he is instructed under the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill then he does not carry out his obligation under the Bankruptcy Act. This is an impossible position and something that will have to be overcome. The position will have to be made clear. I seriously suggest that the employee who has worked for his wages and who is entitled to long service leave has just as much right to payment as the Commissioner for Taxation because when Parliament considered the Bankruptcy Act it thought that he had a better right to payment than the Commissioner. If I have made a correct interpretation of the application of this clause then it should be altered.
Senator’ Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (8.34) -I feel bound to admit that I have had some difficulty following the complete patternof the honourable senator’s comments. At least I shall obtain them and have them critically examined by the officers subsequent to this debate. We started off by trying to follow the priority of the liquidator’s fee as provided in the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill and then we went to the Bankruptcy act. As I understand the section as read out by Senator Cavanagh the first call in that Act was also the administrator’s fee. But that section of the Bankruptcy Act does not apply to companies. I think that that is the first important point. It would be dealt with under company law, as I understand the position. I do not deprecate the points made by Senator Cavanagh. He has a capacity to bring out a point which is worthy of consideration. All I can say to him is that he has made a point in relation to this matter. It will be competent now for officers to pick up bis comments together with the other Acts to which he has referred and see the substance of the point he is making. 1 am assured by my officers that there is not a significant inconsistency in this legislation. I say quite frankly and honestly that I am not competent to take the debate on this issue to any greater length than this
– This is completely unfair. I raised the possibility of some conflict between the Bill and other legislation. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has replied that he cannot answer my point but that I should accept his assurance that there is no conflict. The Minister has been long enough in this chamber to know that an assurance was given to me in the Committee stages of the Homes Savings Grant Bill by the Minister handling it at that time. The honourable senator would know that as a result of reading the then Minister’s statement to a number of my constituents they were robbed of a Commonwealth grant. The Minister’s assurance loses its value if he is incorrect in his interpretation. A judge might give a different interpretation. The Minister may give an assurance concerning a clause over which he has some jurisdiction but in the future that interpretation might become ineffective if the Minister is no longer in charge of this particular legislation. Ministers in this Government have a habit of changing frequently. So any value in the Minister’s assurance may not be of long duration. The Minister has said that the relevant section of the Bankruptcy Act applies to persons, not to companies. It relates to proceedings against employers for the recovery of further tax or additional tax. But this is not a matter of tax.
In both Acts it is a question of what the liquidator does. It is the liquidator who has’ a responsibility. Under the Bankruptcy Act he gives the eighth chop to the worker. 1 agree that in both cases the wording is sufficiently similar to provide that the liquidator gives first priority to payments out of the assets for the winding up of the business. 1 also agree that, perhaps, before this happens the Commissioner of Taxation has a call on tax which has previously been deducted from a worker’s pay as assessed income tax or some other tax which may be due to the Commissioner on some shares or dividends. Admitting that, under the Income Tax Assessment Act, the liquidator has an obligation to pay the balance of the moneys in order of priority. But if he carries out his obligation under’ the Bankruptcy Act he is in breach of the Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill. Therefore he is subject to a penalty. That penalty includes the liability to pay the tax which was owed by the employer.
Here is a complete conflict. Someone has appointed a liquidator of a bankrupt company. If he carries out his obligation under one Act it brings him into conflict with another Act. If he carries out his obligation under the second Act he is in conflict with the first Act. From what the Minister says, if there is some mix up in this regard we will get it straightened out later.
– The point is that the Bankruptcy Act does not apply to the liquidation of a company.
– No, but the payroll tax does.
– Yes. That Act applies a different set of provisions.
– Where is the other set of provisions?
– In clause 30. Those provisions are different from those you read out of the Bankruptcy Act.
– Clause 30 says: A person who is liquidator of a company . . .’. As you say, the company does not apply to bankruptcy. Come back to clause 24.
– What I said was that the bankrupt provisions do not apply to the company.
– Clause 30(1.) states:
A person who is liquidator of a company, being a company that is being wound-up-
Yes. I do not know about the Bankruptcy Act. What happens to the bankrupt company? I see the point about shareholders relating to bankruptcy here. I accept Senator Wright’s assurance that there is no conflict. However I still raise the point about whether this is a proper distribution of the assets of a company. This provides for the method of distribution of the assets of another employer. If the employer is a company, why should we agree to the Taxation Office getting first chop?
– That is also in the other Act, as you read out. The first call is the administration.
– The first call against a particular employer but what about a company which goes bankrupt today? That is the point. What is the method of payment of the assets of a company that goes bankrupt?
– What you are trying to say is that the liquidator is not required to pay wages before tax.
Clauses agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– I am not opposed to taking the remainder of the Bill as a whole. I do not wish to move amendments to any clauses but I would like to draw attention to several clauses for the purpose of determining whether they are right as printed or whether there is a need for some improvement. I refer to clause 41 which states: (1.) The fact that an appeal or reference is pending with respect to any liability or assessment does not inthe meantime interfere with or affect the liability or assessment the subject of that appeal or reference, and tax may be recovered as if no appeal or reference were pending. (2.) If the liability or assessment is altered on appeal or reference, a due adjustment shall be made, for which purpose amounts paid in excess shall be refunded, and amounts short paid shall be recoverable as arrears.
This seems to me to be a peculiar form of justice. If someone disputes the assessment and appeals, that person may get justice after the appeal is heard but he has to pay the amount assessed pending the hearing of the appeal. Clause 59 states: (1.) In a taxation prosecution, the averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, complaint, declaration or claim is evidence of the matter averred.
I think that the question of evidence on averment should be opposed by the Parliament. I notice that this shall not be accepted as proved. At least if someone says that he paid out so much money last month, this is evidence that he did pay the money last month. I voice my opposition to this point. Clause 59 (2.) states:
This section applies to any matter so averred although -
evidence in support or rebuttal of the matter averred or of any other matter is given; or
the matter averred is a mixed question of law and fact but, where the matter is a mixed question of law and fact, the averment is evidence of the fact only.
That is understandable but I think it is wrong to stick to this idea of averment in legislation. Clause 60 states:
A minimum penalty provided by this Act is not liable to reduction under any power of mitigation that would, but for this section, be possessed by the court.
This is the type of provision that we see in the National Service Act. It seems that the Parliament has long lost faith in the judiciary which has been trained to inflict penalty. Passage of this clause will mean that we, as a Parliament, decide what fine shall be inflicted on any person who omits to pay tax which that person is obliged to pay. We are not leaving it to the court, which will hear all the evidence, to consider any question of mitigating circumstances in a particular case. We take away entirely from the judiciary the normal right of saying what penalty should be imposed under such circumstances. Turning now to clause 62, it states: (1.) The gaoler of any gaol to which a person has been committed for non-payment of a penalty shall discharge that person -
Then the penalties are set out. This means that this Parliament is writing into the legislation the penalty for default. It is not being left to the judge. This section says that if the amount of penalty is $4 and under, the period after commencement of imprisonment on the expiration of which the defendant is to be discharged is 7 days. If the breach represents an amount of $4 or under - and it can be any amount under $4 - we are not leaving it to the judge to decide what the default will be. We are not permitting the judge to take all the circumstances into consideration. We are deciding that the penalty shall be 7 days. For a penalty of over $4 and not more than $10 the period of imprisonment will be 14 days. For a penalty of over $10 and not more than $40 the period shall be 1 month. For a penalty of over $40 and not more than $100 it is to be 2 months - and so it goes on. If the amount of penalty is over $400 the period of imprisonment shall be 1 year. The point is that we do not know the circumstances which will result in a person defaulting in payment. We now do not know the circumstances relating to any breach. It could well be that the person concerned was not served with the complaint, as service at a person’s last known address is sufficient. In this Bill we are setting down the over-riding penalty for any case that comes before the court. This is expressing a lack of confidence in those people trained in imposing penalties on law breakers. Clause 66 states:
Subject to this Act, the following provisions apply with respect to a person who has the receipt, control or disposal of money belonging te a person who is resident out of Australia and liable to pay lax under this Act:
He is personally liable for the tax payable by him on behalf of the person resident out of Australia after the tax becomes payable, or if, after the Commissioner has required him to pay the tax, he disposes of or parts with any fund or money then in his possession, or that comes to him, and from or out of which the tax could legally be paid, . . .
I have marked that clause solely for the purpose of linking it with clause 29. I have stated the reasons for my opposition to the clauses to which I have referred. I am hoping that with repetition there will be more opposition from this side of the chamber to clauses of that natura being included in legislation.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28 September (vide page 896), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bil] read a second time.
– I wish , to refer to clause 3. The Committee will remember that when 1 was speaking to the 3 Bills I drew attention to the fact that the Commonwealth would be introducing this Bill in respect of the Territories. I pointed out that the Commonwealth rate of payroll tax in the Territories will continue to be 2i per cent, which is at variance with the rate of 3i per cent to be levied by the States. In future the States may increase that rate. To my mind this creates an anomaly in that industries could set themselves up in the Australian Capital Territory or in other Territories in opposition to industries in the States and would pay a lower rate of payroll tax than that paid by industries in the States. Would the Minister care to comment on that aspect?
(8.54) - Courtesy demands that I should indicate that Senator Wilkinson raised this matter earlier but I did not advert to it in my reply. At the time- we were anxious to dispose of these Bills before rising for the dinner suspension. The history of the matter is that Commonwealth payroll tax is imposed at the rate of 2i per cent. At the level of a meeting of the Premiers with the Prime Minister it was decided to give to the States a growth tax. It was decided to give payroll tax to the States, but that decision did not affect the imposition of payroll tax in the Commonwealth Territories. The record shows that on the same afternoon that that decision was made, the States without any modesty agreed to accept the tax and to increase it by 1 per cent.
As Senator Wilkinson has pointed out, the result is that unless the Commonwealth is prepared to follow the States by increasing the rate of payroll tax, in the Commonwealth Territories the tax will remain at 2i per cent whereas in the States, in the background of State administration, it has been decided to increase the tax by 1 per cent. It is also true, as Senator Wilkinson has pointed out, that industry in the Territories will have an advantage in that respect. However, I do not think that it is a significant advantage or of such an order that it would attract specialised industries to the Territories. 1 suppose that it is possible, but in my judgment it is drawing the long bow. Other advantages and disadvantages would have to be weighed in the basket with elements such as transport costs.
The States now have complete sovereignty in the administration of their payroll tax. If they choose to do so they may vary the rate of the tax and it could well happen that differing rates of payroll tax will in future apply throughout the States. That is really the short answer to the honourable senator’s question. They are the facts of life.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a third time.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make was made this evening in another place by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Honourable senators will understand that when 1 use the first person personal pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister.
For some time past now, the Government has been examining the role of nursing homes in caring for the sick aged, their financial position and the extent of Commonwealth financial assistance for all nursing home patients. Over the past 5 years, the number of nursing home beds has increased from about 33,000 to about 47,000. There is no doubt that this has resulted in a very significant improvement in the care of the sick aged in Australia.
The financial assistance provided by the Commonwealth for nursing home patients, which amounted to nearly $50m in 1970- 71, has been an important factor contributing to the growth of these homes and to the overall raising of standards of care. The assistance to be provided to those people requiring nursing home care is an extraordinarily complex question involving consideration of the differing needs and circumstances of patients in various types of homes. These homes are run by State governments as well as by religious and charitable organisations and by private proprietors. As I have indicated, the present arrangements relating to the care of, and assistance to, those requiring nursing home treatment have been under review for some time. We are continuing this review with the aim of introducing new long term arrangements as soon as it is practicable to do so. This, of course, will include consultation with State governments as necessary.
We recognise that the recent steep increases in running costs, notably in nurses’ salaries, has placed many homes in an extremely difficult financial position. Those homes relying largely on Commonwealth .assistance to patients through benefits or pensions have been hit particularly hard. We have therefore decided, as an interim measure, to increase nursing home benefits to take effect as soon as the necessary legislation is passed by Parliament and assented to. Benefits for patients’ receiving ordinary nursing home care will be increased from $2 a day to $3.50 a day or $24.50 a week. Benefits for patients receiving intensive care will be increased from $5 a day to $6.50 a day or. $45.50 a week. ‘ The cost of these increases will be approximately $24m in a full year. The cost in 1971-72, which will depend on the date of assent to the amending legislation to give effect to the new legislation, will be of the order of $12m to $14m.
This action is being taken in accordance with the Government’s overall policy of assisting the sick and the aged wherever areas of need exist. Nursing home benefits are only one of the many provisions made by the Commonwealth to help aged persons, and the increase in benefits is to be seen in the context of the substantial assistance we are providing in other ways. I refer to such measures as the age pension and related payments, assistance with aged persons housing and assistance provided through our home care programme. Within the limits necessarily imposed by available resources, it is the policy of the Government to improve progressively the welfare of elderly citizens.
I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Assistance for Nursing Home Patients - Ministerial Statement, 3 October 1971- and move:
That the Senate lake note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
– by leave - I make the following statement on behalf of the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair).
As honourable senators will know, the Government has been following with close concern developments on the Indian subcontinent. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has on several occasions sent personal messages to the leaders of both India and Pakistan. The Government has also provided $l.Sm in food, shelter and medical supplies to help alleviate the plight of the East Pakistani refugees at present in camps in India. At the time that this aid to the refugees was announced the Government stated that it would not necessarily be the limit of our assistance to the region. We said that we would keep closely in touch with the situation and assess, from time to time, both the needs of the peoples of the region and our capacity to help. We have continued to receive detailed reports on the situation from our missions in the area, from United Nations sources and from visitors to the area, including some members of the House.
Reports from East Pakistan itself indicate that some areas face acute food shortages, and possible famine. The area has also been subject to considerable flooding in recent weeks. Earlier this year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, issued an appeal for emergency assistance for the people of East Pakistan. He asked that such assistance be channelled through the United Nations agencies, particularly UN1CEF ond the World Food Programme. The United Nations has now established a relief organisation to assist in the reception and distribution of relief sup? plies in East Pakistan, and some donors, such as the United States of America, Britain and Canada, are channelling aid through it. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) has on a number of occasions stated that the Government was keeping under review the course of events in East Pakistan, and would play its part in the provision of relief assistance.
The plight of the millions of Pakistanis who have left their homes, and the prospect of starvation faced by some of those who have remained behind, have caused the Government grave concern. The sufferings of the ordinary people of East Pakistan have also struck a deep chord of sympathy among the people of Australia. The number of refugees in India is reported to be approaching 9 million. There is no need for me to explain to honourable senators the substantial economic burden which this problem of deep human suffering is imposing on the Indian Government. We have been informed that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will shortly issue a renewed appeal for more international help. In the light of the compelling need for aid and of the appeals made by the United Nations, the Government has decided to provide a further Si. 5m in humanitarian assistance to the region. This will double Australia’s contribution to the international emergency relief effort. It will bring our total aid to $3m.
Of this additional aid, $500,000 worth of rice will be given to India for emergency relief for the refugees. This is in accord with the Indian authorities preference for rice as a food grain for relief supplies in the refugee camps. It is of course additional to previous announcements of food and other aid in India. A similar amount of rice will be provided through United Nations agencies for distribution in East Pakistan. The provision of rice will be additional to Pakistan’s normal allocation of aid wheat under the Food Aid Convention, valued at around $1.4m. The remaining $500,000 will be divided between a $250,000 cash grant to the Secretary-Generali’s appeal, part of which we expect will be used to pay freight costs on the rice shipment, and the provision through United Nations agencies of other urgently needed foodstuffs, such as edible oils. The precise composition of the shipment of foodstuffs will be decided upon as part of the broad international effort.
The Government shares the deep concern felt by Australians at the human suffering which has followed events in East Pakistan. While the Government is moved by compassion in providing the additional assistance, it does not regard it as an act of charity but as a fulfilment of our obligations to the international community. We will continue to take a close interest in developments on the Indian sub-continent and to play our part in providing aid for the people of the region.
– by leave - The statement which has just been read by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this place, concerns one of the great tragedies of our times, which is a result of the repressive measures which were used by the Pakistan Government against a freely made decision ot the East Pakistan people. They were given the opportunity to decide who they wanted to elect as President of Pakistan, but the West Pakistan Government would not accept the results of those elections. As a result, the Pakistan Army moved into East Pakistan and we have seen the tremendous number of refugees who have fled from the area into India. I know that this is not the occasion to deal with the politics of what took place. What we are concerned about is the fact that these people are in need of help. In particular, the Indian Government is in need of help.
As the Minister has outlined, this tragedy has placed an enormous burden on the Indian Government.
Despite the statement of the Minister, I do not think it could be said that this aid represents a fulfilment of our obligations to the international community. I do not think it could be suggested that a figure of $1.5m over and above the $1.5m previously given in any way represents the sort of effort that this country should in fact make. India is a vitally important country in the south Asian continent. It is the only parliamentary democracy of any significance in the area. I have been involved in overseas aid for some years, and I know of the sterling efforts that have been made by volunteers throughout this country who have been prepared to raise money for small projects to help India. Under the most adverse circumstances imaginable India struggles on virtually unheeded by the rest of the world. Yesterday the Indian High Commissioner made a statement in Canberra which was reported in the Melbourne ‘Age* in this way:
In Canberra last night the Indian High Commissioner (Mr S. Krishnamurti) made it clear his Government urgently needed more outside help.
There were now more than 9 million people in India who had fled from East Pakistan and this number was rising by up to 50,000 a day.
Total overseas aid promised to India amounted to about $150m, but only a tenth had so far materialised.
In the past 6 months the Indian Government had spent about $440m in caring for the refugees - a diversion of resources the country could hardly afford.
It has cost the Indian Government $440m already. It will cost the Indian Government at least twice that amount before any agreement can be reached with the Government of West Pakistan to repatriate even some of the refugees. In a country which has a gross national product of $30,000m we are talking in terms of $3m. The rest of the world has provided to date only $15m. We have a vital interest, even if we forget the humanitarian side of the question, to see that India survives. We would be doing more for India, for the world at large and for world peace if we were to give India tens of millions of dollars, particularly when we consider what we have poured into another part of South East Asia to no positive effect. It is ludicrous to suggest that the Government’s action is humanitarian. To call it a fulfilment of our obligations to the international community is, I suggest, a farce. If we want to maintain any kind of stability in the southern areas of Asia, India is the key. India is a country which could go under to a Fascist or a Communist dictatorship at any. time. When we consider the magnitude of the problems under which the Indian people have laboured for so long, one wonders why that has not occurred.
This is not the time to make a . major statement but 1 remind the Minister that some years ago the Government allowed donations to overseas aid as a deduction for taxation purposes. That was stopped 2 or 3 years ago. One of the best things that this Government could do would be to reintroduce the system of taxation deduction for amounts donated to overseas aid. It might cost the Treasury a small amount of money but that would be peanuts compared with the amount that we spend in other directions which are far less effective than would be any help given to a country such as India.
We of the Opposition are not impressed by the Government’s donation. Much more could have been given. It would have been to our benefit. It would have been a humanitarian act. It would have been of benefit to the world community if we had been prepared to make some sacrifice. We on this side of the chamber believe that a real sacrifice should be made. 1 hope that in the coming months the Government will have sufficient wisdom and sufficient compassion, as mentioned in the Statement, to make a real effort on behalf of India.
– by. leave - The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), by leave of the House of Representatives, had incorporated in Hansard his statement on the Commonwealth’s education programme for 1971-72. I am entirely in the hands of the Senate on whether it wishes me to read the statement, to incorporate it in Hansard or even to lay it on the table of the Senate. This is an important statement which deals in a large degree with the Government’s analysis of the survey of national needs in education.
– This is a lengthy statement containing a good deal of statistical information. The Opposition would have no objection to the statement being incorporated in Hansard.
– With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the following statement in Hansard:
I should like to commence my remarks about the Commonwealth’s education pro- gram for 1971-72 by emphasising the close concern which the Commonwealth has, and will continue to have, with educational matters. The Government fully recognises the national importance of education and of the development of educational services, and its objective is to do what it appropriately can, in co-operation with the State governments, to improve the quantity and quality of education.
Against this background, I wish to give the House further details of the Government’s education programme for 1971-72, to which the Treasurer referred in the Budget speech.
Commonwealth direct expenditure on education in this financial year 1971-72 is estimated at §345,534,000; this represents an increase of 14 per cent over the expenditure of $302,447,000 in 1970-71 and a doubling of expenditure over the last 5 years. The fact that expenditure has increased by 100 per cent since 1967-68 gives an indication of the extent to which education has been treated as a major growth area by the Commonwealth.
This expenditure by the Commonwealth on education is in addition to the substantial amounts which the States themselves are spending - now about $ 1,100m per year. The largest increases in single items will be in payments to the States for universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges.
Details of Commonwealth expenditure on education from 1967-68 to 1971-72 are set out in a table which, with the concurrence of the House, I should like to incorporate in Hansard.
The Commonwealth continues to support, through the existing matching grant arrangements, the development of universities and colleges of advanced education.
Grants to the States for their universities will increase by 20 per cent and will total $90m, compared with $75m last year. Expenditure on the Australian National University will increase from $32m to $35m; the Commonwealth of course has the sole responsibility for financing tertiary institutions in the Australian Capital Territory.
These increases in university expenditure are due partly to normal growth, but there is an additional element. The Government is willing to join with the States in providing funds for universities and colleges of advanced education, up to certain limits, during the period to December 1972, to assist them in meeting increases in costs arising from substantial salary and wage increases for non-academic staff which have flowed from a number of awards. The Government has agreed that these increases represent an exceptional circumstance which the universities and colleges could not be expected to meet entirely out of their existing triennial allocation of funds. The additional Commonwealth contribution for universities in the States to meet these increases during the balance of the triennium will be about $5.4m. The Government is applying the same principle to the Australian National University.
I should emphasise that while making this offer of supplementary recurrent grants the Government continues to endorse the triennial principle for grants to universities and colleges of advanced education. Although we have agreed to make supplementary payments in the present exceptional circumstances, this action is without prejudice for the future.
Grants to the States for their colleges of advanced education are expected to total $38m, an increase of 23 per cent over last year’s expenditure of $31m. Expenditure on the Canberra College of Advanced Education will increase from $5m to $5.7m. As in the case of universities, these increases reflect the combined effects of normal growth and the Government’s willingness to join with the States during the balance of this triennium in providing funds to assist the colleges in meeting the cost of non-academic salary and wage increases. The additional Commonwealth allocation for the Colleges in the States during the balance of the triennium is over $700,000. The Government is again applying the same principle to the Canberra College of Advanced Education.
I remind the House that the substantial growth of this area is due directly to Commonwealth initiatives in firstly establishing the Committee of Enquiry into Tertiary Education and in providing, with the States, substantial funds to carry out the Committee’s major recommendations. The quality and potential of the Colleges has been advanced by two further Commonwealth initiatives in co-operation with the States, the Wiltshire inquiry into the nomenclature of awards and the Sweeney Inquiry into the basis of salaries for academic staff in the Colleges.
The Commonwealth’s contribution to the capital costs of teacher training, under, the State Grants (Teachers Colleges) Act, will continue. We estimate that $13m will be spent under this programme during this year.
It will be. recalled that a total of $30m was allocated to the States for the 3 year period from 1st July 1970 to ‘30th June 1973 specifically for the building of teacher training colleges. I should remind honourable members too that the Commonwealth did not require that this amount be matched by any contribution from the States; the allocation was made because of our appreciation after consultation with the State Ministers, that the existing facilities available for the training of teachers would be insufficient to meet future demand. The effect of this expenditure, together with the $24m provided for the same purpose in the triennium ending in June 1970, will be to enable some 12,000 places to be built for teacher trainees - a figure which should be seen in relation to the total of about 16,000 places in existence at teachers colleges at the time of the commencement of the Commonwealth programme.
Eleven million dollars was available under this programme in 1970-71 but in the event only $2. 5m was spent by the States in that year. This very considerable shortfall in expenditure is a matter of some concern to the Commonwealth. It has been the subject of letters which the Secretary of my Department has written to certain State Directors-General of Education. It is our understanding that the States expect that their teacher training college building programmes will reach a peak towards the end of the triennium.
In addition to this programme the Commonwealth is contributing very substantially to the capital and recurrent costs cf teacher education courses in universities and colleges of advanced education. There are over 1,000 teacher trainees at colleges of advanced education and there are over 15,000 teacher trainees attending university. The Commonwealth is also providing capital grants for pre-school teachers colleges. In this case the expenditure will rise from just under $lm in 1970-71 to just over $lm in 1971-72.
Commonwealth programmes in support of teacher education total $40m in teachers colleges and colleges of advanced education in the current triennium. This support is again due to Commonwealth initiative after consultation with State Ministers.
The Commonwealth has its own interests in and, sole responsibility for, the provision of educational facilities in its own Territories. In this connection the Government has been able to encourage developments in teacher education’ which it regards as desirable, such as the provision of teacher training courses within multipurpose institutions - a development which is also taking place in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. 1 hope other States will follow this example. The Commonwealth is taking this initiative at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. Here the training of teachers takes place alongside the training of young people for other professions; the teacher trainee is thus able to establish and maintain contact with other professional groups. The basic courses extend over 3 and 4 years; over this period the teacher trainee is brought into close association with the practical situation which confronts the teacher in the classroom. His professional training as a teacher is given concurrently with his further education in the discipline he will subsequently teach.
In encouraging these developments at the Canberra College of Advanced Education, the Government has not envisaged that College as training teachers to meet only the needs of Commonwealth territories; it believes that there should be an alternative to the common situation where teachers are trained in a particular school system and subsequently teach in that same system. It is intended that the Canberra College will accept students for teacher training without regard to the school system in which they will eventually teach.
As a result of the action being taken by the States and the Commonwealth in teacher education the major objectives of the Martin Committee are being achieved. The minimum length of course has been increased to 3 years and co-ordinating machinery is being introduced in most States to improve the academic standing of teacher education institutions.
The Commonwealth’s interest in teacher training is naturally becoming even more direct with its agreement to establish the Commonwealth Teaching Service, separate from the Department of Education and Science. The Teaching Service is intended to provide continuity of service and security for teachers working in Commonwealth schools, to facilitate movement between mainland Commonwealth school systems, and to provide a base service for selected teachers in Papua/New Guinea. Legislation to give effect to the Government’s decision on this matter is being prepared.
Of related interest is the Commonwealth Teaching Service Scholarship Scheme which the Government has decided to introduce. This will provide awards for students who, on completion of their training, will be employed in the Commonwealth schools system. Training may be undertaken at the Canberra College of Advanced Education or at an approved institution in one or other of the States and in courses specifically directed to teaching. No bond will be imposed. For 1972 there will be 200 of these scholarships; these will provide for fees and a living allowance free of a means test - the allowance is at the maximum rate applicable to other Commonwealth tertiary scholarships.
The measures 1 have just mentioned represent a significant Commonwealth contribution to the training of additional teachers for Australian schools. At the same time however the Commonwealth recognises that there are important considerations other than the provision of finance, involved in the teacher supply situation. Such considerations include the wastage of teachers in training, which together with the loss of teachers from service, substantially reduces the number of teachers who would otherwise be available. The significance of the loss of teachers from service is readily apparent from the high resignation rates of recent years. On the information available to me resignations reached a level in 1970 of over 12 per cent of the teaching service in Government schools throughout Australia, representing a loss of over 1 1 ,000 teachers. This loss would not be a net loss because some teachers who resign are simply moving from one government school system to another, or from government to independent schools. And against this loss must be set the additional teachers coming into the government school systems through people returning to teaching, through overseas recruitment and from teacher training programmes. When we look at the total situation we find that the number of teachers in service is increasing steadily. The main significance of the loss of teachers from training and service is that shortages in particular areas could be overcome so much more quickly if the profession could retain more of those who initially embark on a teaching career. For this reason, the losses which do occur are serious, and the Commonwealth welcomes the consideration which is being given to these problems by the State Education authorities and others; it will itself be seeking to minimise the impact of these problems in the way it manages its own teaching service.
In short, with the number of teacher trainees now at a record level of over 35,000, compared with 15,000 in 1960, there should be more than sufficient qualified teachers emerging to meet population growth and to lower pupil-teacher ratios, if the undue wastage during training and later service can be significantly reduced.
The bonding system appears to have a significant effect on these matters and I am more than glad therefore that the new Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarships do not require that condition.
The total cost of the various Commonwealth Scholarship Schemes in 1971-72 is estimated at §43. 7m, compared with $38.4m in 1970-71, an increase of 14 per cent. The total number of students receiving assistance in 1971 was 66,000; in 1972 this is expected to rise to approximately 71,000.
From the beginning of this year several increases were made in allowances payable to students holding various tertiary scholarships. The Government has now decided lo increase the number of scholarships available under the Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship Scheme from 2,500 this year to 4,000 in 1972. The colleges of advanced education are expanding rapidly and it was decided that the limited additional funds available for student assistance should be used to increase the number of scholarships in this area. The estimated cost of providing the additional 1,500 awards is $430,000 in 1971- 72, and over $2m when the additional awards are in full operation.
This Budget marks the commencement of a new triennium in the Technical Training Grants programme. Under this scheme, the Commonwealth has made available to the States $10m per year for the last 7 years, in unmatched capital grants for building and equipping technical colleges. The scheme has now been extended for a further 3 years and the amount available has been increased to an average of $12m per year over the period although the full impact will not be felt in this, the first year of the triennium.
These funds go solely to Government institutions. I place considerable importance on the continuing programmes for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools. They have both done much to improve the quality of education in both Government and Independent secondary schools.
In total some $286m has already been committed to these 3 areas.
The Nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs
I come now to a matter which has been the subject of considerable discussion in this place and elsewhere over the past year or so. I refer to the Nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs. Since I was involved in the early discussion with the State Ministers of Education on this survey I propose to refer briefly to these; to trace the subsequent events and to indicate the Commonwealth’s positive response to that survey through the 1970 and 1971 Premiers’ Conferences and Loan Council meetings. Throughout its response to the Survey, the Commonwealth has sought to improve the States own general financial resources, to enable State Governments better to meet their needs and responsibilities. This is the approach which has hitherto been preferred by the State Premiers themselves.
At a meeting in Adelaide in March 1969 the State Ministers of Education indicated to me their intention to conduct a survey of each State’s educational needs over the ensuing five years. I gave two reactions. I said that the ‘ Commonwealth would also conduct a similar survey of the needs in its own Territories and that the Commonwealth survey would include as a separate item the needs of the independent schools in its Territories. I suggest that the States might do likewise.
In the event the States’ survey did not cover the needs of the independent schools: these have since been investigated by my Department, in consultation with the various independent school authorities, for each State as well as for the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
The States’ Survey of educational needs for the five years 1971-1975 was made available to the Commonwealth early in 1970 and published in summary form in September 1970. This material related to government schools and teachers colleges, and was taken into account by the Commonwealth in its deliberations prior to the Premiers’ Conference in June 1970 at which the basis of general revenue assistance to the States was reviewed and new arrangements made for the following five years.
In September 1970, the Commonwealth sought further information from State
Education Departments on their capital needs. The collection of this information took some time - the last of it was forwarded to my predecessor in March this year - but it was brought together and considered by the Commonwealth before it met with the Premiers in June 1971. The outcome of the 1971 Premiers’ Conference also had further implications for the capacity of the States to deal with their recurrent expenditure needs.
The requests that have been made by the States for assistance in financing the expenditure needs seen as resulting from the Survey cannot be looked at in isolation. There are other important areas of State and Commonwealth endeavour to be considered, and the limited availability of real resources means that any increase in the proportion of national resources devoted to one field of activity must necessarily be at the expense of others. In recent years Governments have been spending an increasing proportion of their revenue on education, and the current financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States will enable expenditure to be maintained at a high level.
The general financial situation of the States is expected to improve substantially as a result of the 1970 and 1971 Premiers Conferences. Before the 1970 arrangements. Commonwealth general revenue grants to the States were already increasing at a faster rate than gross national product, and as a result of the 1970 arrangements those payments will grow at an even higher rate. Indeed, following the 1970 Premiers Conference it was expected that total general revenue assistance to the States over the next five years could be of the order of $8,400m, compared with $4,700m over the previous 5 years - an increase of’ ?3,700m. Then as a result of discussions at the 1971 Premiers Conference and Loan Council meetings the States’ overall financial position was further improved. In addition to a nonrecurring grant for special revenue assistance and the Commonwealth’s continued support for a high level of borrowing programmes for State works and housing, the States received access to a new field of taxation when the Commonwealth agreed to transfer to the States the power to collect payroll tax. The States have already decided to increase their revenue through this tax.
Thus it can be seen that since the time when the States drew up their estimates of recurrent expenditure needs for the Survey, there have been a number of developments which had added very considerably to their expected recurrent resources. When they prepared their Survey figures, they worked on the assumption that their recurrent resources for education would increase by 10 per cent per annum, but in fact their recurrent expenditure on schools and teacher training increased at the rate of 15.5 per cent per annum in 1969-70, before the new financial arrangements applied; and with the total general revenue assistance to the States in 1971-72 (including the transfer of payroll tax collections at the old rate) expected to be 17 per cent greater than in 1970-71, they should be able at the very least to maintain the existing rate of growth. 1 might add that about 80 per cent of State recurrent expenditure on primary and secondary education goes to pay teachers’ salaries.
We need only look to the State Budgets recently brought down for evidence of the extent to which the Commonwealth action that I have outlined has improved the States’ financial position. The Victorian Budget, for example, includes an increase in total expenditure on education of $58 5m, and the increase in expenditure on the levels of education dealt with in the Survey is of the order of $43m - a 20 per cent increase. In the same Budget, State Government support for independent primary schools’ recurrent costs has been doubled from $20 per student to $40 per student. In the recent South Australian Budget, recurrent expenditure on primary education has increased by nearly 30 per cent, as has expenditure on secondary education and on teacher training.
The Queensland and Western Australian Budgets provide for increases in total expenditure on education of 21 per cent and 18 per cent respectively while the Tasmanian Budget provides for an increase of 25 per cent in total expenditure on education. In Western Australia, per capita grants to independent schools have increased from $20 to $30 per pupil at primary schools, and from $30 at junior secondary level and $36 at senior secondary level to $40 in both cases. The Tasmanian Budget also provides for an increase in per capita grants to independent schools, and the Queensland Budget includes an increase in per capita grants from $25 to $45 per annum for each primary student and from $67 to $77 for each secondary student. In New South Wales the Budget provides for an increase of $77m, or over 16 per cent in total expenditure on education, and an increase in per capita grants to independent schools from $36 to $50 per annum at the primary level and from $42 to $59 at secondary level. The means test on these grants at secondary level has also been eased.
In most recent years the Commonwealth has been called upon to meet shortfalls in the borrowing programmes of State Governments from its own revenues. It is relevant to point out that, of the total Works and Housing programme approved by the Loan Council and supported by the Commonwealth in 1971-72, $2l6m or about a quarter of the total amount takes the form of a non-repayable Commonwealth capital grant rather than a loan. This grant may be used for expenditure on non-revenue producing assets and therefore is applicable to school- building programmes; this development began in 1970-71 and should be of benefit to the States.
The Commonwealth’s capital expenditure on education has been increasing in recent years. It now represents 35 per cent of all capital expenditure by governments on education whereas 10 years ago it represented only 18 per cent. What is more an increasing portion of . Commonwealth capital expenditure on education is being directed at the educational levels dealt with in the Survey of Needs; this proportion has averaged 40 per cent over the last 4 years, whereas over the previous 4 years it had averaged only 29 per cent.
There is a similar pattern of increase in the total amounts the Commonwealth is making available to the States specifically for education through special purpose grants. These payments to the States for education have increased by an average of 23 per Cent of the last 5 years, and have increased from 22 per cent of all specific purpose payments in 1966-67 to 32 per cent in 1971-72.
Notwithstanding the claims the States have made for capital funds for education, it is nonetheless the case that where the States have had under their control Commonwealth capital aid funds for education they have not always been able to spend these funds in the period for which they were allocated. I have already mentioned the Slim allocated for teachers colleges in 1970-71, of which only S2.5m was spent in that year.
When the States’ estimates from the Survey of Needs are examined in detail, there are some points which call for particular attention. In the case of capital expenditure, for example, one State claimed that 69,000 new places for primary school pupils should be built over a 5 year period during which primary enrolments are expected to decrease by 4,000; whereas another State sought to build 14,000 new places for primary school pupils over the same period to cater for an expected increase in enrolments of 24,000. In the case of recurrent expenditure, one State based its estimate of funds required on the assumption that it would have a pupilteacher ratio of 11.9:1 in its secondary schools by 1975, which is virtually identical with the current ratio in universities of 11.6:1. Although recent improvements in pupil-teacher ratios have been welcome, I think it is relevant, in the context of a survey of needs such as this, to keep in mind that research in the related area of class size has failed to substantiate the view that pupil performance and achievement are directly related to class size. The report of the Scott Committee, which examined questions of class size in New South Wales, did recommend reductions in class size; but that report also stated that the research evidence on the effects of class size was most unsatisfactory. It recommended the carrying out of a carefully planned study on which future decisions could be based, and the constant review of future policy on class size in the light of emerging evidence. It should be noted that the Scott Report drew particular attention to research studies by Fleming and Marklund and expressed general agreement with their conclusions; Fleming found that ‘if there are any correlations at all between size of class and attainment they are inconsistent and of a low order’, and Marklund that ‘under typical conditions class size, in itself, appears to be an unimportant factor’. I mention these findings as a reminder that there are questions other than those of class size affecting the quality of education and that the benefits to be gained from tackling questions of educational content and method may be greater than those to be gained from reducing student-teacher ratios to near-university level;
All this points tq the need for further research. I hope to encourage this and will approach the appropriate authorities including the States on this matter. We have established the Partridge Committee to advise on research grants in education and to take the initiative in sponsoring research. I hope that, as a result of these steps, an adequate research coverage will be given to this important area of class size. While there have been significant overseas studies we need more evidence and examination of the Australian position in an effort to establish agreed objectives. The fact that teachers’ salaries absorb over 80 per cent of all current expenditure in the schools area explains the importance of this problem. I have not the slightest doubt that we seriously need more well directed educational research. As our system grows this will become more important. We will need to be able to distinguish better those factors that have a significant impact on student attainment.
There were, too, considerable variations between States in the pupil-teacher “ratio objectives each was aiming at for the final year of the Survey period. In the case of primary schools, one State was planning to move from a ratio of 24.5:1 to 21.3:1 over the 5 year period whereas another was planning to move from 32.3:1 to 30:1 over the same period. In the case of secondary schools, one State was planning to move from 17.5:1 to 11.9:1 over the 5 years and another from 19.1:1 to 18.3:1.
While there may well be reasons for some of these interstate differences, they do suggest that the Survey totals are based on differing State views about needs and objectives rather than on a consistent nation-wide view. This is also apparent in matters such as the classification of building proposals in order of priority and in the wide divergences in building costs. At the primary school level, for example, the estimates of cost per pupil placed ranged from about $425 to almost S 1,400. I think it would be of benefit to the States and the Commonwealth if closer consultation took place between them on matters such as building design so that information on their individual experiences could be pooled for the good of all. .1 propose to take this matter up with my State colleagues.
The observations which I have made about the Survey of Needs for the government schools demonstrate that the figures presented by the State Ministers for Education are open to serious questioning. The Commonwealth has reservations also about the material furnished by the independent schools. This was collected and collated by the Commonwealth for consideration by both the Commonwealth and the States when it became apparent that the State authorities, for the purpose of the Survey, were preparing material only about their own State schools. Today I am releasing a statement prepared by my Department to draw together and aggregate the returns from independent schools about capital expenditure and teachers’ salaries over the 5 year period. As explained in the Departmental document there are deficiencies in the material. lt can be seen that the Commonwealth is already doing a great deal to support education. It has concentrated its recent efforts on improving the States’ general financial position, and the States have in fact been enabled to finance a level of educational provision better than has applied in the past. These improvements have been made in spite of the financial stringencies of the present time. The States have been placed in a better position to help not only their government schools but also their independent schools, and the recent developments which I have already mentioned in all State Budgets are evidence of this. I would also hope that this improvement in the States’ general position will enable them to make further progress in improving standards at those schools which are now disadvantaged, and in resolving special problems they have in particular areas. I know that the solution of these problems is important in achieving equality of educational opportunity.
Under its various programmes, the Commonwealth will spend a total of approximately $31m in 1971-72 in aid to independent schools in the States, including $24.3m for per capita grants for recurrent costs. The Government’s view is that the independent schools must continue to play a significant role in Australian education. Were they not to do so, there would be less diversity in our educational systems; there would be less opportunity for different approaches to education; and the economic strains on government school systems would be increased. It should also be remembered that the overall access which independent schools have to government funds is still relatively limited. For example, the 78 per cent of enrolments at government schools attract about 25 per cent of State revenue funds, whereas the 22 per cent of enrolments at independent schools attract only about 1 per cent of these funds. The Government regards it as important that the independent schools, by their own efforts and with the support of State and Commonwealth governments, should be enabled to educate that proportion of the school population which has traditionally attended independent schools.
Education in Commonwealth Territories
This financial year pre-schools, schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory will together receive $37m, an increase of 20 per cent over the previous year. This expenditure is necessary to meet the needs arising from a continued rapid expansion in enrolments. In 1971 enrolments in government schools in the Australian Capital Territory were 60 per cent above those for 1966 and the comparable increase for the Northern Territory for community schools was 70 per cent. The annual rate of growth in enrolments at government schools in both territories continues at between 10 and 12 per cent.
At the beginning of 1971 the first teachers employed by the Commonwealth were appointed to community schools in the Northern Territory. Legislation to set up the Commonwealth Teaching Service is being drafted.
In order to cope with the rapid expansion of enrolments in government primary and secondary schools in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a substantial programme of new school buildings is being undertaken and will continue. New schools will be open in 1972 at Weston Creek in Canberra and at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the latter to replace the existing inadequate buildings. Also in the course of construction is Darwin’s third high school at Casuarina, to be opened in 1973. Additional secondary accommodation is also being provided at Katherine and Tennant Creek. New primary schools will open in 4 of Canberra’s suburbs during 1972 and a similar number is planned for 1973. In the Northern Territory a new primary school is under construction at Moil, a suburb of Darwin, and one will be commenced at Waraman, another Darwin suburb, this financial year.
Last year the Minister for Education and Science mentioned the proposal to provide a community college at Darwin. Planning has progressed satisfactorily with this project, and I expect that a contract for the construction of the first stage will be let towards the end of the financial year.
Improvements in Educational Effort
Earlier in this statement, I spoke of the Survey of Needs. In looking at the various current statements of needs and claims for assistance, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that our overall standards of education have in fact been rising consistently. We now have 42 per cent of all 15- 18 year olds still at school whereas ten years ago we had only 26 per cent. There has also been an increase in the proportion of pupils remaining at school to the matriculation grades; 13 per cent of pupils at government schools remained to the matriculation grade ten years ago, but this proportion has now risen to 25 per cent. We now have a pupil-teacher ratio of 22 : 1 in government schools, while 5 years ago it was 25 : 1. In non-government schools the pupil-teacher ratio has improved from 29 : 1 to 25 : 1 over the same 5 year period. The number of teachers-in-training has increased by over 40 per cent- in the last 5 years, while the number of pupils in school has increased by only 10 per cent. The number of bachelor degrees conferred on the 20-24 age group of the population has increased from 622 per 100,000 in 1966 to almost 1,250 per 100,000 population in 1970, and this is an indication of, among other things, the increasing capacity and output of our secondary school system. Of course, there remain unfilled needs in special areas - teachers in certain subjects is one - but the general picture is one of consistent improvement.
The Commonwealth has undoubtedly made a major contribution to these improvements. It has done this in two ways. It has introduced programmes of direct assistance, such as the teacher training capital grants; and in the last two years the Commonwealth has. concentrated on improving the States’ revenue resources, as is seen in the 1970 and 1971 Premiers’ Conferences and demonstrated by the State Budgets brought down this year. The total expenditure on education in these Budgets represents, for the six States combined, an increase of 17 per cent over the previous year.
As we look beyond the end of this decade we must realise that much of the hope, many of the plans we have for Australia in the last decades’ of this ‘century, will depend upon the skills, expertise and adaptability of the Australian people.
Tomorrow’s tasks will require higher skills and better management than in the past. If we cannot match the large nations in capital and invention, we can at least be our own managers; indeed, such a requirement is essential.
The quantity and quality of education - costing presently over $l,500m a year- is a significant charge upon this nation, but few other expenses represent such worthwhile investment for the future. Investment in education is investment in adaptability and capacity to survive.
This is true of the nation and of the man. National skills and expertise could well be crucial in meeting some future challenge and so too a boy’s or girl’s early training would influence his or her whole future capacity to meet changing circumstances and to participate in emerging technology.
Through education we can do much to reduce inequality. As we march towards national goals we must place equality of opportunity high on the list. Equality of opportunity means more than anything else, equality of educational opportunity.
As in so many matters we are unlikely to achieve complete equality, lt depends not only on what a State may do but also on the attitudes and outlook of parents, which have a quite crucial impact on a student’s attitude to work.
Perhaps of even more importance than equipping students to meet future technological change is the need to enable man to live with man. We ought to strive harder than ever before to achieve what no generation has yet achieved - a community composed of men and women for whom human values are more important than material advantage - a community for whom the inter-relationship of man with man has become the most important concern - a community in which tolerance and understanding reign and prejudice is abandoned. Ony when such communities inhabit a nation and when such nations engulf the world will the shadows and fears of present or potential tyrannies be permanently consigned to the past. If anyone sug gests such an ideal cannot be achieved let those who can believe strive the harder.
The power presently available to a number of nations makes this course more necessary and more urgent.
Many strands will contribute to this objective, but a broad, liberal and fair minded education, with equality of opportunity firmly established must surely influence our future course.
We must constantly re-define our education goals to ensure that they are effectively oriented ; towards these objectives - towards the maximum development of the individual’s talents, his aspirations, his personality and his voluntary self-discipline.
Much of this speech has been descriptive of Commonwealth effort, but I hope honourable members will also find an expression of objective to which they can all subscribe.
As in the past several years, my Department will keep in close touch with State and independent education authorities to maintain the firm basis of consultation and co-operation which is necessary in seeking to attain these objectives.
The attached material illustrates the additional Commonwealth financial assistance grants made available to the States and also the build up in the numbers of Commonwealth scholarships available in recent years.
Department of Education and Science Canberra, 30 September 1971.
THE EFFECTS OF CHANGES MADE TO THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE ARRANGEMENTS DURING 1970 AND 1971
Under arrangements settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference to run for the 5 years 1970- 71 to 1974-73, the financial assistance grants, which finance about one-half of State current budget expenditure, continue to be determined under a formula which increases the grants in proportion to increases in population and average wages - the two main factors affecting State current expenditure - as well as a betterment factor designed to assist the Slates to improve the standard and range of their services. However, for 1970-71 there was a special addition of $40m to the formula grants. Then, for the purpose of determining these grants for 1971-72 and subsequent years, this additional grant forms part of a new base to which the formula will be applied and the betterment factor element in the formula is increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent.
The Commonwealth is also assisting the Stales specifically in meeting interest and sinking fund charges on their debt. Grants are being made to meet the debt charges on a progressively increasing amount of State debt so that, as from the commencement of 1974-75, the Commonwealth will have taken over complete responsibility’ for the debt charges on $1,00 Om of State debt. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $200m of the 1970-71 borrowing programmes for State capital works in the form of interest-free grants thereby relieving the States of debt charges they would otherwise have had to pay. These grants are to increase proportionately to the increase in the total Loan Council works and housing programme. (In 1971-72 for example they will lota] almost $210m.)
At the time these arrangements were settled it was estimated that the total of financial assistance under the arrangements would grow at around 2½ to 3 per cent per annum faster than if the previous grants arrangements had continued unaltered. As the revenue grants payable under the previous arrangements were increasing at a faster rate than gross national product, this represented a very substantial improvement.
The financial assistance grants arrangements were further amended by an undertaking by the Commonwealth to make good the loss in State revenues during 1970-71 as a result of the discontinuation of receipts duty after 30th September 1970. The Commonwealth agreed that, for 1971- 72 and subsequent years, the amounts of receipts duty which it was estimated would have been collected in 1970-71 had it been a ‘normal’ year would be added to the base used in determining the financial assistance grants payable under the grants formula. By this meansthe Commonwealth is, in effect, providing for the continued payment to the States of compensation for the loss of receipts duty.
A further change in the arrangements has resulted from decisions taken at the Premiers’ Conference on 16th June to increase the States’ capacity to raise their own revenues. Briefly, the Commonwealth agreed to transfer pay-roll tax to the States on the basis that the States’ financial assistance grants will be reduced to help offset the loss to Commonwealth revenue resulting from the transfer. However, the Commonwealth agreed that the reduction in the States’ grants in 1971-72 and future years will be smaller than the loss to Commonwealth revenue as a result of the transfer. In particular, the Commonwealth agreed to make the reduction in the States grants in 1971-72 smaller by an amount now estimated at $22.4m. This smaller reduction will also be made to the ‘base’ used to determine the formula grants for 1972-73 and subsequent years so that the States will continue to benefit from this factor in those years.
The Commonwealth also agreed at the June 1971 Premiers Conference to provide $40m special revenue assistance to the States in 1971-72 by way of a non-recurring grant.
As a result of all these measures the States will receive in 1971-72 an estimated additional $274m in general revenue assistance fromthe Commonwealth over and above what they would have received had the arrangements which existed before 1970-71 continued unaltered. This is a remarkable increase even if the estimated amount of $ 100.6m representing receipts duty compensation grants included in the above figure (which could be regarded as replacing revenue which the States had hoped to gain from their own receipts duty) is abstracted. In the circumstances the Commonwealth believes that the State Governments are now better placed to meet their responsibilities including recurrent expenditure on education.
The following table sets out details of the components of the $274m increase mentioned above:
In March 1969 the Australian Education, Council, made up of the State Ministers for Education, decided that each State Education Department should undertake a survey of its educational needs in primary and secondary education and in the preparation of teachers over a 5 year period. Because it believed that information about the position of non-government schools was relevant to considerations by both the States and the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth asked the States to include the needs of non-government schools in their surveys. The States did so only under category 9- scholarships, and only in respect of the estimated cost of applying existing policies to expected enrolments in non-government schools over the 5 years in question 1971 to 1975.
Information in respect of the survey of government schools was published by the Australian Education Council in September 1970. Subsequently the Commonwealth sought further information from the States about government schools and, while this was being obtained, the Department of Education and Science invited nongovernment schools throughout Australia to provide additional material in an effort to obtain information in a form comparable to that provided for government schools.
The present report summarizes the information provided by the non-government schools in response to the Department’s invitation. That invitation was based, without comment, on the method and scope of the survey conducted by the -Australian Education Council for government schools.
Questionnaires were addressed to Catholic education authorities and to individual non-Catholic -schools. Returns were requested by 22nd February 1971, but a number of returns received after this date was included in the final compilation. Returns included in the compilation represented all Catholic Schools (one return having been received from each State for all Catholic Schools in that Slate) and 65 per cent of- enrolments at non-Catholic schools. A further small number of returns from the latter group was received after the tables had been compiled; these returns represent a further 9. per cent of non-Catholic school enrolments.
The data presented in the attached tables indicates the cost of achieving, lor the period 1971 to 1975, what the non-government schools see as desirable levels of expenditure on capital items and on salaries, the major item of recurrent expenditure. The tables also show the financial resources which the school authorities estimate would be available to them and hence the expected shortfall between funds and resources. To assist them in providing material on a comparable basis schools were asked to estimate their income on the assumption that fees and assistance from governments remained at the 1970 levels.
As a means of assessing the major recurrent needs of .non-government schools, the questionnaire sought details of salary costs and funds available to meet these costs. Details of other recurrent needs were also invited but this information was not provided in sufficient returns to permit meaningful tables to be compiled.
Details of capital needs were sought under the : following headings:
New Buildings - on a site not previously used for the same educational purpose e.g. a “new school on a new site.
Replacement Buildings - on a site previously occupied by (a) outmoded or (b) temporary buildings, used for the same educational purpose, e.g. a new primary, school to replace an old one.
Upgrading - to increase the efficiency of existing educational buildings e.g. the removal of inner walls to allow for greater flexibility in teaching.
Additions - new constructions (other than replacements) of additional buildings in an area already occupied by a school e.g. the building of an assembly hall ‘ where none existed before.
Proposed capital expenditure under each of these headings was further divided between buildings for tuition, cultural and miscellaneous, and boarding purposes.
The non-Catholic independent schools provided 196 returns covering 56 per cent of their primary enrolment and 69 per cent of their secondary enrolments. The returns were reasonably representative in their coverage of different types of schools e.g. country and city, primary and secondary,, large and small, well established and recent.
The Catholic schools’ returns for 2 States did not provide all of the information requested- the principal deficiency was information on the availability of funds, especially on the capital side. For purposes of aggregation into Australia-wide totals, the Department made estimates of funds available in these 2 States based on the relation between available funds and total needs in Catholic schools in the other States.
The questionnaire included an invitation to give details of teacher-training needs, but the returns generally did not provide estimates in this area and it was not possible to arrive at any meaningful estimates of the non-government schools’ total teacher training needs.
In accordance with the understanding when answers to the questionnaire were prepared, information in respect of individual schools is being treated as confidential.
The following table gives an indication of the overall position of the non-government schools during the period 1971 to 1975 within the terms of reference chosen by the Australian Education Council for the Nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs. As indicated above, a number of assumptions has had to be made in preparing the tables on which this summary, is based.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 30 September (vide page 1054), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In the Committee stage of the debate on this Bill the Opposition will be moving the amendments which I understand are being circulated now. At this stage I wish to deal with certain general matters raised in the Minister’s sec- ond reading speech. Debates on subjects dealing with the defence of the country are not often conducted on a very high level in this Parliament, but I trust that tonight’s debate will be an exception and that the Senate will not become bogged down in a contest in patriotism.
The real question that we are called upon to discuss is this: What is the best method of securing the defence of Australia? Since it is so much part of the stock in trade of the Government to attempt to depict honourable senators on this side of the chamber as being uninterested in the defence of Australia, I think that by way of preamble it might be appropriate for me to cite briefly the leading features of the Opposition’s policy on the defence of Australia. The policy recently brought up to date at the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party makes the following main points:
Australia’s national policy must be to ensure her territorial security, the security of her overseas trade and her peaceful development as an independent nation.
All defence policy rests ultimately upon the possible deployment of the armed forces. Labor’s policy is to provide a strong regular and citizen defence force which can be rapidly and efficiently mobilised in time of need.
To these ends, the regular forces must be maintained at viable levels whilst the citizen forces must be maintained as an essential force and as a means for training those with the wider skills required for general mobilisation.
The Australian Labor Party has always considered that the conditions of the armed forces are among the most important features in securing the kind of defence force that we have in mind. Therefore our policy statement goes on in this way:
Recognising that service in the regular forces constitutes one of the nation’s essential occupations, and insisting upon the highest of professional standards, Labor asserts that full and continuing attention must be paid to all aspects of conditions of service in order to attract and to retain an all-volunteer army and other services.
Conditions of service of members must maintain parity with the conditions of civilians of the same age and qualifications and must allow for the inherent disadvantages and special requirements of the profession of arms.
Labor’s attitude is summed up as follows:
All forces should be made up of volunteers and conscription as such shall be abolished. In the national interest, however, the right must be retained to raise a national service force should the security of Australia be threatened.
It is part of the stock in trade of the Liberal-Country Party Government to suggest that Australia lives in a state of per,manent unchanging threat of involvement in a war of survival. Even when this is not stated explicitly, it is implicit in the Government’s unceasing propaganda designed to show that the Australian Labor Party is not really interested in the defence of Australia. But in considering this Bill what we have to ask is whether at present there is any discernible threat to our security which would warrant a continuation of conscription as a means of recruiting our armed forces.
In recent years we have had some ideas expressed on this question by none other than the ex-Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, who has assured us that there is no real discernible threat to our country for a period of 10 years? He considered that it was reasonable to assume that for the next 10 years Australia would not face any threat to its security. But we do not have to rely only on Mr Gorton’s say-so; there is also even more expert opinion and analysis of the situation available to us in the person of Professor Michael Howard. To establish the credentials of this man let me state that he is an English authority on modern warfare. He is a former professor of war studies at Kings College, London, and is now a fellow in higher defence studies at All Souls College, Oxford. He is also a member of the Council of the Institute of Strategic Studies. He has been in Australia for the past 3 months on a Commonwealth scholarship and he gave an address, which I hope that many others besides myself in this chamber were fortunate enough to hear on the ABC’s ‘Guest of Honour’ programme last Sunday night
I do not intend to read out all that Professor Howard said but just to quote the salient points. First he pointed out that Australia at present lives in circumstances that are comparatively new to it in the matter of defence with the disappearance of the British presence from this area, with the impending withdrawal of United States forces from South East Asia and, of course, with the shock of President Nixon’s reversal of previous American attitudes towards China. He said that this might excuse some disorientation and confusion in Australia as to her position in the world and it might encourage some to retreat into a splendid isolation or encourage others to believe that we should build ourselves up into what he describes as a mini-super-power’ with a formidable fleet and with the option of making her own nuclear weapons. But in the opinion of Professor Howard, neither of these seems to be particularly appropriate.
The Professor remarked on something which must strike any rational observer of the Australian scene, that is, the irrational attitudes which persist in this country and which, in our view, are actively fostered by the government. That is what the Professor describes as the lingering belief that Australia lies under some kind of peculiar threat - red, yellow or brown, or a combination of all 3. Admittedly they, he says, whoever ‘they’ are, are a long way away, but it is believed that there are an awful lot of them and one day they will come down and take over. This is the popular fallacy which I make bold to suggest resides in the breasts of many misguided average Australians. I have also heard it expressed obliquely - sometimes . directly - by members of this chamber. The Professor suggests that we dissect this fantasy, and he proceeds to do so. He asks who are the ‘they’ whom we are always told to regard as the bogeymen who may disturb our way of life. He says that for some it is the Indonesians, who are certainly very numerous and comparatively close, but how many decades must pass before that inchoate society can develop a political, administrative and social system to enable it to quality as a serious power? The Professor proceeds to dismiss Indonesia as constituting any sort of threat in the foreseeable future. Who else, he asks. The Russians, of course, and the Chinese, and though people say this only sotto voce, an aggressive and dominating Japan. The Professor said:
As for this last fear, it is hard to see what Japan could possibly gain by military pressures on Australia that she cannot get by economic; and as for the first 2, Australia is for them an utterly remote country which must figure - if indeed it figures at all - at the bottom of a long list of priorities.
His conclusion is that a serious threat from any major power would bring other major powers to Australia’s support, and he added:
If it did nol, then I am tempted to suggest that so total a collapse of Australian diplomacy would deserve all the consequences that it got.
He said that the real defence problem of Australia was that it did not have a defence problem, that there was not at present a single cloud on the horizon that seriously threatened Australia’s security. It is true that he goes on to say that such a threat could develop relatively quickly, but he believes that Australia’s armed forces are likely to be presented with acute problems of recruitment, of training, of equipment and of morale. He goes on to say that if they did not retain a capacity for versatile and effective performance in the face of totally unexpected challenges, and a well educated high command capable of foreseeing and responding to the challenges which may face it in a predictably unstable international world scene, the Australian people may one day have cause to regret bitterly their reluctance to keep up with their insurance premiums. In other words, the view that Professor Howard fakes of Australia’s situation is that we face no discernible threat, that we do obviously need armed forces which are well equipped and mobile, and that we should keep our eye on developments in the area. But he makes no mention of conscription being necessary. He does not see any need for large forces. I have referred to the section in which he debunks the notion that we should try to become a sort of minisuperpower.
– Was he an adviser before Pearl Harbour? He sounds the sort of adviser that the Americans had, who spoke with great sincerity at that time.
– No doubt Senator Little will be advocating later that we should joint the nuclear club. We await with interest his suggestion that we should become a mini-super-power. This, I suggest to honourable senators, is the context in which we should examine Australia’s defence needs in the time ahead of us. We believe in a rational level of preparedness, but not in fostering an atmosphere of hysteria or yellow perils. Nor do we believe in scaring the electorate for cynical political purposes, which I suggest is often done, and especially often done by the Party on whose behalf we heard the last few interjections. I would suggest that, with no discernible threat, conscription is totally unnecessary at this stage of our history.
In case it is suggested - of course, it has been suggested - that Professor Howard is not to be taken seriously and in case it is suggested that the estimate of our situation by the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, is not to be taken seriously, let us look to the second reading speech of the Minister on this Bill. If there is a discernible crisis it is not likely that he would be advocating a change in the present system of conscription, which would have the effect of almost immediately reducing the level of our armed forces by 4,000 men. That is hardly a reaction to a crisis or to imminent peril. What the Minister said was:
And while it is now judged thai the full-time strength of the Army can be reduced by some 10 per cent by reducing the period of full-time national service, national servicemen will still represent some 30 per cent of the total Army manpower, 12,000 out of 40,000.
So that under this Bill the present strength of the Army will be reduced from 44,000 to 40,000, of whom 28,000 will be volunteers and 12,000 will be conscripts. Under the amendment which the Australian Labor Party proposes to move at a later stage in this debate the armed forces would be immediately reduced to 28,000 instead of the 40,000 which has been suggested by the Government. Even if the number of volunteers cannot be increased - I will be submitting that with a proper effort and with proper conditions the number could be greatly increased - with no crisis looming, as has been admitted by the Minister, as has been admitted by Mr Gorton and as has been pointed out so eloquently by Professor Howard, what additional safety is it suggested this country would attain by having 40.000 men in the Army instead of 28,000?
Of course, that is only part of the story. The Labor Party submits that with any sort of an effort many more volunteers could be raised than have been raised in the past. In this regard I would like to refer briefly to the findings of the Gates Commission in the United States of America, lt will be recalled that this Commission was set up at the request of the
President of the United States of America in order to determine whether that country could dispense with the draft and raise an all-volunteer army. It was under the chairmanship of Thomas Gales, a former Secretary of Defence. In considering the question in detail the Gates Commission looked at the situation in other countries. It was advanced to this Commission that the experience of Australia was all against the elimination of conscription, that Australia had been forced to rely on a conscript army and that the United States should do the same thing. In passing the Gates Commission made these observations:
Some have cited the Australian decision to return to a draft as evidence that an all-volunteer force is not feasible for the United States There are several’ reasons why this argument by analogy is inappropriate. First, the Australians have not made a concerted effort to attract additional recruits on a voluntary basis. Once ‘he decision was made to use conscription to raise force levels, no serious effort was made to increase voluntary enlistments either by raising pay or redoubling recruiting efforts. Second, the Australian economy is heavily unionised and apprenticeship programmes requiring 4 or more years deplete the pool of men available for military service. Third, Australia has enjoyed a rapid growth in its economy (the unemployment rate is about 1 per cent)-
Of course, that figure is a little out. of date - which makes civilian jobs relatively more attractive than military service. Finally-
And this is the most important point of all- civilian earnings significantly exceed military pay rates. Civilians receive overtime and other supplementary compensation in excess of the common wage rates set by the government for both the military and the civilian economy.
The Australians could have expanded the size of the Armed Forces on a voluntary basis by raising pay and reorganising recruiting.
Nothing better illustrates the attitude of the Government towards the possibility of a volunteer army than its attitude towards rates of pay. It was only at the persistent nudging of the Opposition in the other place and the threat of a revolt by its own back benchers that the Government finally consented to set up a Committee of Inquiry into the Financial Terms and Conditions of Service Employment - the Kerr Committee - which has been and still is inquiring into the appropriate rates of pay for the armed forces. Now that the Kerr Committee has come up with recommendations which will make the rates of pay in the Armed Forces much more attractive than they have been, I suggest that we can expect a far greater response from volunteers than we have had in the past. Of course, if honourable senators do not like my prediction as to the likely effects of this increase in rates of pay, 1 would be prepared to rely on the opinion of a wellknown defence spokesman for the Liberal Party. I refer to none other than the honourable member for La Trobe, Mr Jess, who in the debate in the other place on this Bill made the following observation: . . I think it should be and as I am hoping it wm be, (here may be an accelerated rate of recruitment into the Services.
He was speaking in the context of the increased rates of pay recommended by the Kerr Committee. He went on to say:
It may be possible, if threats do not occur and if the situation surrounding does not deteriorate, that a volunteer army can be maintained in the vicinity of 40,000 members. 1 am not being carried away in suggesting that that may be possible under the new conditions created by the Kerr Committee’s recommendation’s. An unfortunate stimulus to recruitment also may be supplied by other policies of the Government which are, for instance, creating an increasing pool of unemployment in the countryside and, if one may believe the signs, soon will also create one in the cities. I hope that we will not have to rely on that pool in order to increase the possibility of raising a volunteer force. But 1 believe that, even along the lines I have suggested and in accordance with the prediction of Mr Jess, we can confidently expect that with an increase in the rates of pay, as recommended by the Kerr Committee, it will be possible to obtain, and in a reasonably short period of time, a strength in the armed forces which is the same or roughly the same as that which the Minister suggested in his second reading speech was sufficient in the present circumstances, that is, 40,000 men. It is, of course, interesting to point out that the Minister admitted in his speech that even under the adverse revruiting conditions we have had in recent years and even with the Government not trying to get together a volunteer force, there has been a steady increase of roughly 1,000 a year in the number of volunteers since conscription was introduced in 1964.
In our present situation and in a context of relative security, always with an eye to the fact that security does not necessarily last forever, 1 think it is pertinent to examine what kind of an array we should be training. I suggest that the nucleus on which we should be concentrating is a nucleus of officers and non-commissioned officers - that is, people who will be able to train the flood of people upon whom we would have to call in an emergency in order to get a really large force in the field if it came to a situation in which the country was really threatened. Troops can be trained in a relatively short time as long as we have this officer and NCO cadre ready to go into action to train them. Surely in our present situation it is much more sensible to spend more money on equipment - if necessary, on tanks, artillery, etc - so that we may have it available to equip a couple of divisions rather than the one division which, I suggest, would be about as much as we could put into action in our present state of preparedness. If we had available equipment for a quick expansion of an army in an emergency and if we had officers and NCOs already trained we would be more readily able to put a larger force into the field than if we spent money and effort, as we. are doing at present, just in collecting troops.
I suggest that another measure which might be taken in order to step up enlistment in a volunteer army would be if the Army were to adopt more realistic selection standards. 1 recall that during question time in this place recently a question was asked by, I think, Senator McAuliffe of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. Senator McAuliffe drew the attention of the Leader of the Government to what he considered to be some kind of contradiction between the Government’s national fitness hopes and standards and the large number of people who were rejected for service in the Army. I recall the lengthy answer given by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who pointed out that it was a mistake to consider a man unfit merely because he was rejected by the Army. He pointed out that he had some experience in this regard. Although he considered himself a reasonably fit man he was rejected for war service. He later overcame that difficulty and, as we know, he served with distinction.
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was quick to deny that rejection for the Army did connote genuine unfitness. I suggest that if we dispense with conscription, as I believe we must in the interests of the morale of this country, if we rely on the pay rises which are imminent in the Kerr Committee’s recommendations and if we adopt realistic rather than extravagant perfectionist standards of physical fitness, we can reasonably expect to get in a very short time a volunteer army of the size which the Minister has said is necessary at present, even if we admit that in the present situation we do need that many troops.
I suggest that in this debate the Government is being insincere and pig-headed. The Minister stated categorically that the introduction of conscription into this country bad nothing to do with the Vietnam war. He said:
National Service was not introduced because of Vietnam, lt was introduced in November 1964 but national servicemen were not sent to Vietnam until 1966.
Let us have a close look at that claim. The fact is that the first Australian training team was sent to Vietnam in 1962. In 1964 the Royal Australian Air Force Caribou flight was added to Australia’s commitment to Vietnam. Conscription was introduced in November 1964. It is true, as the Minister stated, that no conscripts were sent there until 1966. What happened between those dates? Firstly, on 29th April 1965 the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced that a battalion would be sent to Vietnam. As we now know, this was the time when our rulers were busy securing a request from the Vietnamese Government of the day for us to send those forces there. There can be no doubt that throughout this period the Government of the United States of America was applying considerable pressure on the Australian Government to send more forces to Vietnam to provide a facade of respectability to the American claim that what it was doing in Vietnam was saving the free world from the Communist hordes. To suggest that the introduction of conscription had nothing to do with the Vietnamese conflict is, in my view, the sheerest hypocrisy.
It is true that national servicemen were not sent there until 1966 and it is true also that only one-third of the national servicemen were sent to Vietnam, but we must see that claim against the whole background of what the Government had in mind at the time. Obviously it was not good politics to have too many draftees being killed in Vietnam, but obviously it was necessary to build up the army if the Government was already undertaking commitments, about which the Australian people were told nothing, to send more troops to Vietnam. I suggest that it is a legitimate inference from the conduct of this Government in relation to Vietnam that it always had in mind to send more troops to Vietnam than it in fact sent and the only thing that prevented it from deploying an even greater force in Vietnam was the great protest movement which built up in this country. That is also the reason why the Government kept to a comparatively low proportion the number of national servicemen sent to Vietnam.
It is obvious, I believe, that conscription and Vietnam are inextricably related; yet the Minister had the effrontery to tell us that the fact that we are now pulling out of Vietnam does not allow us to end conscription. So we have this picture: Without telling us that conscription was introduced in order that the Government could send troops to Vietnam, now with the Vietnam war winding down the Government cannot and is not prepared to admit that the need for conscription has ended. Having introduced conscription because of an unacknowledged intention to get more deeply involved in Vietnam, without admitting it to the Australian people, this Government cannot now admit that the end of our commitment in Vietnam ends the need for conscription. 1 believe that these arguments demonstrate that conscription in this country is, to put it at its very lowest, unnecessary in the present context of Australia’s position in the world. But there are many greater reasons why it should be abandoned now. Conscription has proved to be discriminatory against a section of the population. It has been one of the most divisive issues in our history. It has set generation against generation and it has contributed to the alienation of our youth. I suggest that the entire history of this country shows that there is no reluctance on the part of the youth of this country to flock voluntarily to the Army when there is a real demonstrable emergency, when this country is genuinely threatened and when there is a cause which the young people of this country believe is worth fighting for. I have only to point to the record of the youth of this country at the time of the last war. I ask honourable senators especially those who point the finger contemptuously at the youth who will not go to Vietnam and who do not want to be conscripted and say: ‘How can you get these people into the Army unless you make them go into the Army?’, to cast their minds back to the 1930s, especially to the scene in England. Some honourable senators may remember a famous debate which took place at Oxford University when the well known Oxford resolution was carried. It was to the effect that this House will refuse to die or fight for King and country.
– What did Churchill say of that? He said it was a great contribution to the outbreak of the Second World War.
– That, I think, is a fanciful comment, even from a man like Churchill, on what happened. The war would have broken out whether that resolution ot any number of such resolutions had been carried. It had nothing to do with it, with all respect to Churchill. But these young men, who were like the young men we have around us today and who were pilloried by the likes of Churchill and all the conservatives of the country, including the Mosleys, the Chamberlains and the people who wanted to make a deal with Hitler, were the very men who provided the nucleus of the Spitfire pilots when England was really under threat. I suggest to those who decry the youth of this country that if there were a genuine threat to this country, instead of a phoney threat, instead of an artificial scare designed to keep a certain government in office or instead of involvement in a completely immoral and singularly unsuccessful war which has no appeal whatsoever to idealistic youth, there would be no problem of volunteers at alt. In the present situation there is absolutely no justification and no warrant for the continuation of conscription. It is time that conscription, which, as I said previously, is inextricably related to the Vietnam war, was brought to an end. There was no justification for its birth and its death will not be lamented.
– The legislation which we are debating is designed essentially to reduce the national service period of training from 2 years to 18 months. It has a number of other consequential meanings. It inevitably makes plans for phasing out existing trainees over a period, and it allows those trainees now serving and who may wish to serve their full 2 years because of commitments at work or study to do so. lt reduces the full term of national service, including reserves, full time and part time training, from 6 years to 5 years, lt reduces the punishment for failure to comply with the law from 2 years gaol to 18 months gaol. That in essence is the legislation.
This’ legislation was introduced in 1964. Contrary to what has been said, it has been uniquely successful. It has in fact increased the size of our military forces from 23,000 to 44,000. Senator Keeffe is interjecting. I am delighted that the Opposition has woken up, since it slept so soundly during the speech of an Opposition senator. I hope this wakefulness shows the interest of honourable senators opposite in my speech because I propose in a moment or two to deal with those arguments which they put forward. I hope they will be equally vigilant in telling me when I am wrong. Having said that, I repeat that national service has in fact increased the number of military personnel from 23,000 to 44,000. Volunteers have increased at the rate of 1,000 a year to some 28,000. National service has provided in excess of 51,000 troops. The addition to the Citizen Military Forces from optees from national service has provided in excess of 35 per cent of the CMF. There is now a reserve, fully trained, of 21,000 national service trainees, which represents 70 per cent of the whole reserve. As the Minister has reminded us, the record also shows that of all of those who registered or were requested to register less than 1 per cent failed to respond, 3 per cent had conscientious objections, 9 per cent of persons voluntarily enlisted, and one-third of the national service trainees served in Vietnam. 1 put it to honourable senators that the goals as set out in 1964 in fact have been achieved.
Let me, if I may, attack the argument, as I see it, of the Australian Labor Party. Labor senators may correct me if I wrongly state their case. I see Labor advancing something like 9 main reasons for opposing this legislation or for opposing national service. Its first reason is that national service is wrong except in a state of national emergency, although that emergency is not clearly defined. Presumably it is one that the Labor Party would declare but not one that some other lawful government might declare. It frequently argues that it is immoral to conscript young men against their will.
– John Curtin did not think so.
– Indeed. I thank Senator Gair for the reminder. Mr Curtin, like Professor Howard, is on record for this and other things. Thirdly, the Labor Party argues that this legislation forces men against their will to go to foreign wars, to undeclared wars, to use its term, and specifically to go to Vietnam which to the Opposition is a hateful war. Fourthly, it says that the legislation regarding conscientious objection as drafted by this Government is wrong in concept and immoral. Fifthly, it argues that the law itself is a bad law. Many Labor supporters go further and say that because it is a bad law people may break that law with impunity. Sixthly, many members of the Labor Party, including senators in this chamber, by their attitudes argue that it is right to aid draft resisters and that indeed it is right to sneer at and obstruct Crows Law authorities in the proper and legal discharge of their duties under this law.
– By breaking and entering.
– The honourable senator can correct me when I am wrong because I propose, with his help and encouragement, to examine this matter in detail. I take it by the silence of Opposition senators that I have accurately itemised these things. Seventhly, the argument which Senator James McClelland expounded at length tonight is that there is no need for conscription because there ‘ is no early threat to Australia. Indeed, he quotes Professor Howard. Mr Deputy President, it would have been good had the honourable senator continued with the article by Professor Howard because I remind you that, significantly, Professor Howard went on to say that he complimented Australia on having one of the most efficient military services in the world. Indeed, he said that the situation that we have today was one of the most efficient in the world. It is not good enough merely to quote that part of a speech which suits you. Apparently Professor Howard came down on both sides in this chamber.
Eighthly, the Labor Party argues that voluntary forces will be sufficient. It argues that the Gates Commission has condemned Australian conscription methods and that by use of the Gates Commission techniques and by the use of the Kerr Committee’s pay methods we could obtain voluntary forces. Ninthly, it argued at length that we can look at the Labor Party’s performance in World War II to show that Labor has the means of conducting proper military defences. I think that the Labor Party will not disagree that I have reasonably outlined its objections. I say that rather than national service being wrong and immoral the reverse is true. I say that as one who has spent a large part of my life in the voluntary services. I commend them. I say that voluntary service as the basic and total means of defence is immoral, wrong and inefficient. I hope to prove this point. A community which is in a free society, a democracy, running through the parliamentary system, has some very basic principles which it must follow. Any government - Labor or Liberal- must have as its first duty the defence of the community. I am going to assume that nobody in the Opposition takes the view that we need no defence at all. Even Bertrand Russell - if honourable senators recall - in the final analysis admitted that he would have some defence. I am assuming that the argument of the Opposition is that there must be some defence. The quantum and the methods are in argument.
Senaor Cavanagh - The pacifist would not want defence, would he?
– It depends. Some of the best pacifists I have ever met are buried on the military battlefields of the world because they understood pacificism. They knew the price of peace. They put the price of their life and limbs on it. One of the ugliest things we do is to make war weapons of words. A pacifist is not a person who opts out of military service. A true pacifist says: ‘The kind of peace that I want is not peace at any price, but peace with freedom and dignity for myself and for my neighbours*. He puts a price on peace. The true pacifist when he believes that peace wilh freedom and dignity can only be obtained by defence puts the price of his life and limb on it. So many, many pacifists believe in defence. There are people like some Indians who. prior to the Chinese move onto the border of India, believed in total pacificism. I think that there are few or none who believe this today.
Nevertheless a country and a government - Labor or Liberal - has as its first responsibility the organisation of a defence system. It knows that its policy is unpopular. It knows that its methods will lose votes. Its job is to decide what it will do and how it can best do it to safeguard its country. That is its charge. It has a moral obligation to discharge it in equity. I put 2 basic principles of democracy. I ask the Opposition to reject those principles if it so desires. I say that no person in a democracy has the right to seek more freedom or liberty for himself than he is willing to grant to his neighbour. I add as a supplement that no person has the right to ask more public burden of his neighbour than he is willing to bear himself. I repeat that phrase. No person has the right at all to seek of his neighbour a greater public burden than he will bear himself. Mr Deputy President, if you apply those 2 principles, any person who believes in defence of any kind at all in this country - other than total non-defence - has the responsibility to share personally in its defence. Any person who then says: ‘My method of defending this country is to fight and die to the last volunteer’, in my judgment is in his principles immoral and corrupt.
– How are we sharing that with the 20-year olds?
– Yes, just so.
– 1 shall come to that in a second or two. We will go steadily through this matter. 1 hope that we will look at the principle. I am grateful that Senator Georges has woken up. I feared for him for a long while. But I am delighted that biologically, if not politically, he has shown some activity. Certainly, if the previous action was a reflection of the arguments of Senator James McClelland then 1 ask him to go back to his hibernation. The cicadas have started early this spring, if I may say so. I repeat that a government having decided upon its responsibility in defence then has a moral obligation. Even the Greeks had a word for it, although some people would not understand it.
– Freedom and democracy.
– Indeed, freedom and democracy have been made, by corruption, words and weapons of war at this moment. I repeat that a Government has a responsibility to decide on its defence, then to decide on methods and then to decide on the equity of those methods. There are some who do not understand what demos kratos means, even though perhaps they ought to. But a government having decided its responsibility the adjudication lies in the ballot box. I repeat that it is immora and corrupt to ask your neighbour to do something which you will not do yourself. To rely on the voluntary system is morally wrong. But it is equally grossly inefficient not only in producing an efficient army on time but also because it is lethal. Many of us who were in the militia when World War II broke out and who were forced to go with the tide to war know that tens of thousands of men were killed unnecessarily because they went to war improperly trained and improperly supported. I saw it myself and so did everybody else. Be it on the consciences of honourable senators opposite to remember this when they recite Professor Howard. I have a great respect for the late John Curtin. But even the late John Curtin was an appallingly bad prophet because 10 months before World War II broke out - not 10 years but 10 months - he was saying that those who wanted to increase defence at that time, after Munich, were hysterical. Would honourable senators like me to read his words? Would they like me to put him alongside Professor Howard as a prophet?
– Yes, but how about reading the rest of the prophets as well?
– I shall read the rest of it.
– The rest of the prophets, I said.
– I am reminded of the oldest poem in the English language:
Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing CUCCU
Mr Deputy President, on page 1095 of Hansard of 2nd November 1938, 10 months before World War II broke out, Mr Curtin is reported as having said:
Defence expenditure must depend entirely, upon lbc conditions which prevail in the world from time to time. Obviously that must be the position. 1 say that any increase of defence expenditure after the Munich Pact so far as Australia is concerned appears to me to be an utterly unjustifiable and hysterical piece of panic propaganda.
– Are the conditions today the same as they were after Munich?
– With the help of Senator James McClelland I will get to that point, Mr Deputy President, I promise.
Menzies get the country ready for war?
– The trick of the lawyer to deflect argument is well known. Senator James McClelland posed Porfessor Howard as an authority. I pose as a counter authority this leader of the Labor Party who was to become Prime Minister. I put to the Senate that that statement represented a total error in prediction not 10 years but 10 months before World War II. Should I read the quotations, Mr Deputy President, of speeches made in that period by other members of the front bench of the Labor Party?
– They were politicians. They were not authorities.
– Who other than the leaders of the political parties are the authorities? If they were not authorities, with what authority does Senator James McClelland set himself up here tonight to pontificate in his arguments? With what authority does the Labor Party put up its counter argument? What kind of nonsense do we hear from them? As I understand it, sovereignty lies in Parliament, and responsibility lies in Parliament. If the Labor Party does not regard itself as an authority on defence and defence expenditure it ought to opt out of its present position and opt out of Parliament because it is charged with the responsibility of acquainting itself with world conditions and coming to a valid conclusion. I say that there can be nothing more inefficient than a voluntary service. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Barnard, has put forward the suggestion that in 6 months we can train troops to go into combat. That is criminally wrong. It is like the advice to persons to plant their tomatoes 24 hours before a shower of rain. How do we know when the next war will be? Was anyone in 1930 aware that Pearl Harbour would happen a decade after? This is absolute nonsense. Mr Deputy President, I have directed myself to something of which the Labor Party should be immensely proud. I am dealing with arguments that Labor Senators have put forward. I am taking the points put forward by Senator James McClelland and I am examining them. This should be the last occasion that Senator Brown or anyone else ought to try to deflect attention from examination of their vaunted policies. Are members of the Labor Party so unproud of their policies that they have to shout me down every time I look at them? Do they really think that by generating heat instead of light they can throw my mind off this line of debate? What are they afraid of?
– Tell us something, can’t you?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The Senate will come to order. If this persistent disorder!iness continues I shall have to name the offenders.
– May I also remind Senator James McClelland that he expressed the hope that he would be heard in silence and that there would be an orderly approach to the argument. It seems that those honourable senators who were sleeping at the time did not hear his statement. Those who know the training of the militia know two things.
– Tell us about the volunteers in the AIF.
– I would like to do that as I lost some 88 men because they were untrained. I do not live calmly with myself because of that.
– You said the men were untrained. It seems to me that the leaders were untrained.
– Yes, the leaders were untrained. For my sins, I had only 5 years in the militia beforehand. That was the best I could do because they would not allow me in before I was 18 years of age - before 17 years of age. as a matter of fact. To that extent, yes, I was untrained and so was everybody else. But we are dealing with the statement that we can train sufficient volunteers. But you cannot get, sufficient volunteers in times of full employment, despite the talk tonight about Professor Hy Men’s pool. Indeed, for 20 years we have been told by the Labor Party, more in sorrow than in anger because it never turns out, that we would be pooled in Professor Hytten’s pool. Indeed, this is a pool of imagination. It is a pool of narcissist inaction.
– You were running for cover when the war broke out and you could not handle it. You had to resign.
– Is it not wonderful, when we deal with a Labor argument, how members of the Labor Party want to get on to any other subject but the validity or otherwise of their statements. My goodness, they must be proud of what they are saying. Mr Deputy President, in times of full employment you cannot hope to draw into the volunteer army the number and the range of people that you wish. Do not forget that people of particular age groups and people with a range of skills are needed. It is true that those kinds of people are busy going about their professions and trades and rightly so.
– Do you think that the volunteers let the AIF down?
– No, of course I do not think the volunteers let the AIF down. Mr President, it may be springtime and loud sings the cuckoo but never before have I heard such an offensive side remark. Of course I do not believe the volunteers let the AIF down. I believe that the community at large let the volunteers down because the community at large did not have the foresight to vote for conscription. I remind you, Mr President, that in 1917 when there was a referendum-
– You ran away from it.
– Order! Senator James McClelland was heard in silence by Government supporters. The least that can be accorded to Senator Carrick is for Opposition senators to listen to him.
– Since I was asked whether 1 thought the volunteers let the AIF down I repeat that the community, both in World War I and in World War II in my view, let the volunteers down because it failed to adopt conscription. I remind honourable senators of the problem of the Etruscan army and Horatius when those behind cried: ‘Forward’. The singularly tragic and immoral thing is that whereas in World War I the troops in the field in France, realising the inadequacy of their numbers and the paucity of their training, voted substantially in favour of conscription, a narrow majority of the people at home voted against it. So indeed, it was the community-
– While a lot of your colleagues were making money we were getting more bullets.
– I repeat that in the 1917 referendum a majority of the soldiers-
– Which way did you vote in 1917, for or against it?
– As I understand the interjection I am being told that my statement is untrue. For the benefit of the honourable senator I will repeat it and he can tell me in what way it is untrue. I repeat that in that referendum a majority of soldiers in the field voted for conscription.
– The vote was 72,000 against 58,000.
– Yes, a substantial majority. But according to the honourable senator who interjected that statement is incorrect. I go on to say that a majority of the community - not soldiers in the field - voted against conscription.
– Order! Senator Poyser, you are continuing to interject. We would be grateful if you would pay some heed to my strictures on you and Senator Keeffe.
– I now have the admission from the Opposition that rather than being incorrect my statements are correct.
– No. You said that it was an overwhelming majority.
– I remind the honourable senator that I said ‘a substantial majority’. I did not use the word ‘overwhelming’, and I am grateful to the honourable senator for it. I will proceed against the background of the symphony orchestra opposite.
– It is hardly symphonic; it is annoying.
– They are suffering from discord, not concord. I repeat that to rely on volunteers is immoral and corrupt. I turn now to examine the second point of the Labor Party’s argument, bearing in mind the admission of honourable senators opposite as to the statements I have made. It is said that the present legislation forces people against their will to go to a foreign war, and specifically to Vietnam. I reject that as totally untrue.
– In World War II which soldiers did Sir Thomas Blarney prefer in New Guinea - the militia or the volunteers?
– I am dealing with the second point raised by the Labor Party, that we are forcing people against their will to go to a foreign war, an undeclared war, and specifically to Vietnam. I say that this is entirely untrue. Against the chance that some honourable senators would have difficulty in reading I have brought with me a number of copies of the registration form for national service that is available to 20-year-olds, although I doubt whether it is applicable. I urge honourable senators who have not read it to do so now, because it is most instructive.
– Are you going to burn it?
– In du« course I will come to the question of burning draft cards, a practice which falls into the same category of infantile behaviour as some arguments advanced by honourable senators opposite. When a person goes to register for . national service he is given a clear option as to whether he remains in the ballot. If he remains in the ballot he may or may not be eligible to go to a foreign war. If he is opposed to particular foreign war, or to the war in Vietnam, he can opt out one hundred per cent. Therefore any person who is opposed to a foreign war, or specifically to the war in Vietnam, has a period of 14 days after lodging the form to opt out.
– Opt out into what? But conscription is the only way by which you can fill your military ranks.
– If I am allowed, I will proceed to explain the conditions. I gather from the noise being made by honourable senators opposite that they do not want to hear me because, Sir, if you will pardon my saying so, they have been living this lie for 6 years. They have been peddling an untruth up and down Australia, saying that the Government has been forcing people against their will to go to Vietnam. I state here and now that no person has gone to Vietnam as a national serviceman except by his clear elective choice. Here is the form for anybody to see. The conditions are quite clear. I ask simply this: Is it not a fact that under the legislation, as clearly shown on the application form, a person at the point of registration can opt not to go into the ballot and to adopt the alternative of joining the Citizen Military Forces? I ask now whether this is true.
– You are deliberately misleading this House. That is not true.
– Order! Senator Poyser, you will come to order or you will force me to tread a road- that I do not wish to tread.
- Senator Poyser seems to want to add things to my speech that may well please him but which I have not said.
– You are not truthful on that point.
– If Senator Cavanagh is saying that I am not telling the truth I would be grateful if in due course he would explain to me why he holds that belief. I go further and say that it is clear from the application form that any person who is opposed to combatant duties or to defence duties of any kind may apply as a conscientious objector. About 81 per cent of persons who have so applied - the great bulk of them - have been granted exemption as conscientious objectors. So I reject completely the second point made by the Australian Labor Party, that men are forced against their will to go to a foreign war, to go to Vietnam. The third point raised by the ALP relates to conscientious objection, lt is argued that the provisions for conscientious objection in the legislation are wrong. Although those provisions have been greatly liberalised since their introduction, they are those which the Labor Party used throughout the Second World War and which were maintained by the Chifley Government after that war. If those conditions are wrong-
– ls the situation the same?
– My goodness. When we get to the point of describing Labor’s policy and it hurts, the situation is never the same. How can a moral principle on grounds of conscientious objection be different at different times? How can morality be different? Have we a different morality at one time of the day from another time? This is absolute nonsense. Earlier an instrumentalist of the symphony orchestra opposite referred to the burning of draft cards. As I understand it, the majority of the people who burn their draft cards and end up in the courts are people who do not avail themselves of the provisions of the law and elect not to do so. 1.1. is not that the law would not accommodate them. I remind honourable senators of 2 very distinguished objectors who protested for months and months, sometimes in my presence, that the law was wrong and would not provide for them. They have been thoroughly accommodated. I refer to Mr Laurie Carmichael Jnr who, having being granted exemption as a conscientious objector, has I think gone to work in the United States for a firm which manufactures space vehicles for defence; but of course, it is not direct defence.
The other person to whom I refer is the very vocal gentleman who used to sit in regularly in my office and give me the benefit of his sermonising on this subject - Michael Jones of Sydney. Time after time he said that the law was wrong and would not accommodate him. It accommodated him. He is a conscientious objector. He has been excluded from national service and is now free to cause trouble on the campus of the University of Sydney. I have welcomed the granting of exemption to him. Indeed. I think it is fair to say that I have shown as much willingness as has anybody else in the community to hear the view of the other fellow, irrespective of whether he threatened violence. I have never used force to resist such a person - that ought to please Senator Cavanagh - even though he has come threatening violence. I make the point that the draft card burners are not so much protesting against the quality of this law as they are objecting to the rule of law.
– 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 would like to make a fairly brief reference to a problem that has confronted us in this place today - that concerning the 3 lads who have initiated a fast and a sit-in seeking additional funds for the refugees in India. A circular has been issued by Steve Rooney, Geoff Evans and Paul Poernomo, asking for this Government to make a substantial increase in donations to assist the Pakistani refugees in India. Two of the people mentioned on the circular, the first and last named, were among the 6 people arrested on the steps of the Melbourne General Post Office on 1st October. I understand that the Deputy Premier of Victoria subsequently made representations to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to have the charges withdrawn, and that this was done.
In reply, to a question I placed on the notice paper, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) stated that the aid pledged by the Australian Government to assist the refugees was SI. 5m, but that the value of the aid delivered or en route as at 1st September was only $980,000.
Today, Mr President, I asked you why these lads had been compelled to move to the other side of the roadway in order to carry out their demonstration. I think I also mentioned in my question that it was a demonstration of an orderly and very humane nature. In reply, you, Mr President, quoted a ruling. Unfortunately, we have not been able : to trace all of the prohibitions concerning this type of demonstration.
But my purpose in speaking now is to ask you, Mr President, with great respect, to reconsider the decision that has been taken. It appears that yesterday these young people were promised by someone that they would be allowed to sit to the left or to the right of the steps in front of Parliament House in order to carry out their demonstration. The genuineness of their cause cannot be challenged. Also, the manner in which they conducted themselves in Melbourne is above reproach. Let me say that something which, I feel sure, is motivating these people, just as it is everyone else in the Australian community who cares, is the great tragedy that faces the people who are starving. I am referring now, of course, to the refugees who have crossed the border into India. In reply to my question, the Minister for Foreign Affairs further stated:
The Government has twice increased the level of its aid for the refugees and is concentrating on delivering to India the aid that has been approved; it has the situation in the Indian sub-continent under close observation;
The Minister then went on to say:
The problem of malnutrition in India is particularly acute among refugee children.
The Government has not received any official estimate of deaths which have or might occur among refugee children through malnutrition, but the Director-General of India’s Health Services, Dr J. B. Stivastava, was reported by a Press agency on 19th August -
This was long before the Australian Government gave any aid - to have said that more than 115,000 East Pakistani refugee children were suffering from malnutrition diseases, that 110,000 were likely to die unless given immediate treatment and that another 600,000 needed supplementary foods.
I think it is generally conceded now that many hundreds of thousands of adults and children have since died because of their inability to obtain normal sustenance. The 3 youngsters who are conducting this appeal are asking for $1Om. I wish to quote from one of the pamphlets which have been distributed fairly widely but which I should imagine no member of the Government has seen or would like to see. It states:
We would like to express to your our sincere concern over the terrible plight of East Pakistani refugees in India.
Along with many other concerned people we believe that our Government has not responded humanely to this situation. At present Government aid is most inadequate. A country as well off as Australia should be able to provide more assistance.
Therefore we are participating in this hunger fast to draw attention to the plight of the refugees and we respectfully urge you to remember, your humanity and to do all in your powers to press for more aid.
There are now close to 10 million refugees in India and we believe that nothing less than $I0m should be given by the Government of Australia.
We will remain on this fast until the Government announces a substantial increase in aid.
This afternoon the Government announced a substantial increase in aid. But as at 1st September, the Government said in a reply to a question supplied to me last week, it had twice increased the level of its aid and it had the situation in the Indian subcontinent under close observation. If we have not yet been able to convey to the people most in need the aid that was granted previously, then it is likely to be next January or February, on the time ratio, before the present grant will be passed on.
I understand that the 3 demonstration leaders have invited the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Attorney-General and the Commonwealth Police Commissioner to a refugee meal. I understand that the refugee meal will consist of a cup of rice, spices, salt and lentils, which is the official handout to Pakistani refugees in India.
– For one day.
– As my colleague, Senator Wilkinson interjects, that is their ration for one day. If the Australian Government gave $10m and there are 10 million refugees, it is likely that this would provide one meal of the ingredients 1 have quoted for each refugee for not more than 4 days. On the first occasion these 3 young men conducted their fast, it extended over a period of 18 days. I ask any responsible member of the Government whether he would be prepared to sit outside Parliament House and demonstrate in a genuine way, as these lads are doing, with one cup of lentils for the day, or to sit out there with his cut sandwiches and bottle of milk, without anything to fortify the milk, in order to fight for a cause. I respectfully suggest, Mr President, that you reconsider your ruling that these young men be required to sit across the road on the kerb to conduct this very genuine appeal, and that you allow them to sit either to the right or to the left on the steps of Parliament House where, at least, it will not be so windy on the cold evenings that this city is still experiencing and where they will be able to carry out their appeal with dignity on behalf of the 10 million people who require this assistance.
– I have nothing to add to what I said in a statement which I read to the Senate this afternoon and which I repeat in reply to Senator Keeffe:
Having in mind this practice of long standing the Australian Capital Territory police were requested to ask the people concerned on this occasion to confine themselves to the area on the northern side of Queen Victoria1 Terrace. The particular cause for which these people are here is, it is admitted, a humanitarian one, but I am sure honourable senators would agree that it would be very unwise to make distinctions according to one’s assessment of the worthiness of causes, and that a common rule that applies equally to all is, in the long run, the fairest and best policy.
– Mr President, may I ask you a question?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711005_senate_27_s49/>.