27th Parliament · 2nd Session
ThePRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 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 the Australian Post Office proposes to construct a 640-foot high solid concrete tower, housing radiotelephony/television transmission facilities, on Black Mountain in Canberra.
That in the opinion of many responsible citizens such a tower would seriously impair the beauty of this city and is likely to lessen the value of the Black Mountain Flora and Fauna Reserve.
That requests from residents of Canberra, and their Parliamentary representative, for information on the technical considerations supposedly favouring a solid tower have been refused by the Australian Post Office.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliamentassembled, should, through its Standing Committee on the Social Environment, examine whether construction of a tower of this nature on Black Mountain is in the public interest, having particular regard to the need to preserve the beauty and environmental quality of the National Capital.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to certain purported decrees under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959, or under that Act as amended.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Australian Wool Commission decided that all superfine wools must be marketed through the auction system and not by negotiation outside the system? Has the Commission set price reserves for the whole of the season on this class of wool, which comprises only 1.2 per cent of the clip? If so, what criteria were used in establishing the reserve price?
– I am not aware whether the Australian Wool Commission has done as the honourable senator said it has done. However,I am aware that prices are established for all types of wool produced in Australia. These prices change from day to day, as the honourable senator will understand from the second reading speech on the Bill that came before the Senate for the setting up of the Commission. The information coming to the Commission determines the prices to operate for wool on a particular day. I have no further information regarding the latter part of the honourable senator’s question. I shall approach the Minister for Primary Industry and if further information is availableI shall obtain it for the honourable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary industry been drawn to newspaper reports of the current experiment in wool selling by the sampling system? Is the Minister aware that the level of prices reported under this system has been significantly above the prices yielded under the Australian Wool Commission auctions? Will the Department of Primary Industry closely study the sampling system to ascertain whether it can be extended with advantage to the general selling system?
– All of us who are interested in wool have watched carefully the operations of the sampling system. It is true that on the first occasion on which it operated, in New South Wales, values were very much higher than those obtained under the present auction system. However, I remind the honourable senator that in the follow-up sales at Fremantle the method was not so successful. At Fremantle quite a number of lines were passed in and no bids were offered for other lines. The honourable senator suggested that the Government should investigate the sampling system. The information I have is that in the financial year 1970-71 the Government made available$1. 5m to finance a research programme, over a period of 2 years, into the possible introduction of objective measurement into the market* ing of the Australian wool clip.
Research has been undertaken by a joint committee comprising representatives of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Australian Wool Board within a programme planned and supervised by 2 committees manned by representatives of the 3 participating organisations, namely, the University of New South Wales and wool buyers’ and wool brokers’ bodies. I understand that the programme covers the establishment of appropriate sampling procedures for core testing of the Australian clip and the - testing of some aspects of the feasibility of selling wool by sample.
– Can the Minister for Health advise the Senate whether legislation will be introduced, and if so at what date, to implement the election promises of the previous Prime Minister at the 1969 general election and the 1970 Senate election that the aged chronically ill who are confined to nursing homes will receive health insurance benefits beyond the period of 3 months now operative? I refer particularly to those people who have paid into health insurance organisations all their lives.
– As Minister for Health I can say that the matters referred to by the honourable senator are currently under examination by me. As to the rest of his question, I am not in a position to add anything at this stage. The honourable senator could place his question on the notice paper, but he does not really need to do so because I will respond to it futher in due course.
– I will ask it again.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a letter from the Western Australian Fruit Growers Association which draws attention to the parlous situation of the industry in Western Australia arising from recent demands for increased freight? What action is contemplated to devise ways in which the industry may have a chance of survival?
– 1 have seen a circular along these lines. I understand copies of it were sent to all Western Austraiian members of the Commonwealth Parliament. I can well understand the concern of Senator Prowse, as I can understand the concern of most representatives of primary industry about this matter because the shadow of increased freight rates hangs over not only the apple industry but also all rural industries. I remind the honourable senator that the Australian Apple and Pear Board is the authority which looks after the interests of the apple industry. It is that Board which negotiates such a mater as the freight rates charged in the industry. I understand that the Board has in recent weeks been able to reach an agreement with shipowners for discussions to take place in London in the third or fourth week of October on shipping freights. In view of that, I do not think it would be fair for me to comment publicly at this time.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Is he aware that, notwithstanding the amounts the Government might have spent to date on rural industries in this period of rural uncertainty and economic crisis, there is in fact growing unemployment in the rural areas of Australia, particularly in the north western, south western and western districts of New South Wales? Does the Minister agree that this growing unemployment in country cities, towns and districts will be very much aggravated next month by a record number of school leavers coming on to the labour market, for the first time? Will the Minister draw this matter immediately to the attention of his counterpart in the other place and ask the Government to state what action’ it intends to take to overcome this growing unemployment in rural areas and to stop the drift of people, particularly young men and women, from country areas to the large coastal cities? Finally, will he agree that the situation has reached such a serious stage that it warrants the presentation to the Parliament of a White Paper on the subject?
– I am not able to affirm that the situation has reached such a serious stage as to warrant the presentation of a White Paper, but I do affirm that it has reached the stage where it is engaging our consideration to a very serious degree, and that the utmost information should be made available to honourable senators and honourable members who represent people in these country areas in order to see what can be done to relieve the situation. I accept the honourable senator’s suggestion that I should draw the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service to this matter, although 1 know that it is actively engaging his and his officer’s attention continuously. As the honourable senator will be reminded, the Minister for Labour and National Service, together with the Minister for Primary Industry, put down a paper within the las! 10 days in relation to an employment training scheme designed in part to remedy this situation. The honourable senator can rest assured that this question has struck a note of real sympathetic understanding in my mind and that I will take up the matter with the Minister and see whether any further definite information is available.
– My question, which is directed to you, Mr President, is in relation to the closing of the parliamentary dining and refreshment rooms last Thursday, which I believe was due to certain pressures being exerted to compel a member of the staff to join n trade union. I ask: As the institution of the Parliament protects the rights and the freedom of the individual, subject to the rights of others, will you give an assurance, Sir. that the rights of individuals in this Parliament, including that of freedom of choice in relation to the joining of a trade union, will he protected?
– Honourable senators will recollect, with some sadness 1 suppose, that last Thursday the normal services of the refreshment rooms were stopped. I had some experience at a younger age in industrial problems and I learn that the causes of an industrial dispute are not always those that appear on the surface. Honourable senators will be pleased to know that this dispute ended yesterday by an application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I think it is proper that I should state to honourable senators that I was aided in this matter by an honourable senator who sits on my left. As to the question about whether the Senate will be responsible for the protection of individuals and their rights - and I think the questioner said subject to the rights of others’ - the institution of Parliament exists for that purpose.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Because of the growing interest and concern of all sections of opinion in the region, will the Minister provide me with a comprehensive statement of his Department’s present position and future proposals in regard to the airport needs of north western Tasmania?
– I will endeavour to get as much information as I can on the matter that the honourable senator refers to in order to help him. Some of the problems are still being canvassed at present and some of the areas of examination are a little imprecise. To the extent that I can help the honourable senator I shall do so.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, refers to Tuesday’s welcome announcement of the Government’s additional assistance to Pakistan relief measures. In view of the continuing urgent need in this situation, will the Government give consideration to encouraging the Australian people to accept greater responsibility to supplement the Government’s contribution by allowing gifts to this fund to be deductions for income tax purposes? Can the Minister give any indication of what it would represent in additional Government assistance if this concession were allowed? Will the Government also give consideration to intensifying the study of the most suitable assistance, particularly as far as skilled personnel are concerned?
On 5th October the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs announced that we had decided to double Australia’s contribution by providing a further $1.5m in humanitarian assistance to the region, thus bringing our total aid to $3m. The honourable senator now suggests that this increase in the Government’s contribution should be used to stimulate the general community to make additional contributions also. The objective of the question is very worthy. Making the gifts a taxation deduction is a policy matter but, notwithstanding that, I shall refer it to the Treasurer for consideration.
– I address my question to the Acting Minister for Immigration. Notwithstanding Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee surveys that arc now under way on certain aspects of migrant community integration, does the Minister contemplate a crash programme involving a corps of social workers to enter the area pinpointed by the Melbourne Children’s Hospital’s recent report and apparently defined as a domestic disaster area?
-I have some information on this matter that I shall give to the Senate and to the honourable senator. It refers to a newspaper article about migrant health which appeared over the weekend, as far as I can judge. The information given to me by the Department, on behalf of the Minister, who is overseas, is that the article contained a number of inaccuracies. The particular point in the statement saying that the Department had taken no action was not correct. The Hospital has been in touch with the Minister and his predecessor since October of last year, particularly about cases of malnutrition amongst newly arrived Turkish migrant children, and other cases where there was said to be inadequate child care. Full inquiries were made, both in Australia and in Turkey.
It was found that in some cases the children were included in families which had been selected prior to the appointment of an Australian medical officer system in Turkey in August 1969 and prior to examinations being properly arranged. In some cases it was possible, although this was not able to be identified precisely, that the condition had arisen between selection and departure for Australia and in other cases after the families had come to Australia. The Royal Children’s Hospital has confirmed that its views on the matter were enclosed entirely in its correspondence with the Minister and it has accepted the Minister’s assurance that everything possible was done to maintain the standard of health of children of those migrants. The information which I have from the Department contains a lot of other material, but I do not think I should take up the time of the Senate any further. After I have read the honourable senator’s question in Hansard. I will see that it is put together in a letter that will cover the balance of his inquiry.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will it be by a direction of the Federal Government that the interest rate, as charged by private trading banks and the various government banks, on borrowed money will be lowered? Is the Government not impressed with the evidence that a high interest rate adds to the difficulties of producers of both primary and manufactured goods and adds to an inflationary trend? When can it be expected that the Government will instruct the Reserve Bank to direct that a lower overdraft interest rate should apply generally?
– If nothing else -I do not mean this in any derogatory sense - the honourable senator is persistent in his questions about the interestrate. In much the same vein as he has posed his question from time to time, I repeat that the interest rate is a matter of Government and fiscal policy according to the state of the economy. The interest rate is fixed by a traditional method which is not. peculiar to Australia. The method of fixing the interest rate in relation to the state of the economy is a procedure which is common to countries of the free world. As I have pointed out before, in one English-speaking country the interest rate has been varied more than once in any given year.I do not think that that is arguable. The movement of the interest rate is a matter of Government policy. As I understand it, the instrumentality which. would implement this policy would be the Reserve Bank. AH I can say is that the views expressed by the honourable senator will be conveyed to the Treasurer.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to a report in the Press last Wednesday that retrenchment notices served on 50 flight engineers employed by Qantas Airways Limited had been withdrawn. As the Minister might recall, similar questions have been put to him several times during the last month. How is it that he, as the Minister, has been unable to supply this information to senators whilst the Press is able to get and report it? Is it because the information is not being given to the Minister or is it because the Minister has decided not to give the information to the Senate? In future will he supply information where it is available? What is the present position in relation to the retrenchments?
– The honourable senator could have included a third factor in his comment, that is, that perhaps from time to time the Press is not accurate and perhaps the Press is speculating in making comment not based on fact. When a question is asked of me I ask the responsible people to let me have an answer if 1 have not got it myself. I have asked the people concerned - Qantas Airways Limited - to let me have an answer. I have not got it yet. I cannot say when I expect to get it, but I shall ask Qantas again. The honourable senator may be assured that I try to give the Senate accurate information when I have it. I do not base my replies on speculation, and I do not particularly appreciate it being said of me that I do.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth National Fitness Council arranged to have a youth survey to determine the fitness of young Australians? If this is so, when will the findings be made available?
– I will get information in relation to the first part of the question. I will try to get an answer to the second part of the question and make it available to the honourable senator as quickly as possible. 1 have no personal knowledge of the points he raised, but there should be no difficulty in getting some information for him.
– Can the Minister for Health now indicate his attitude to the clamour from sections of Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia and Medical Benefits Fund of Australia members seeking greater rank and file participation in fund policy decisions?
At the conclusion of question time I propose to give to Senator Mulvihill an answer which bears, in the generality, on the question which he poses today and, in some particularity, on the question he asked me last week relating to a certain organisation.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. I refer the Minister to the question which I asked him on 30th September about Commonwealth involvement in the Clutha project. He indicated then that he would endeavour to find out to what extent the Commonwealth was involved. Is the Minister able to state now the extent of Commonwealth involvement in that project?
– At the present time I am not able to do so, although the honourable senator will be interested to learn that this is one of the questions on which this morning I sent follow up notices saying: ‘We have not yet received an answer to this question. It was asked nearly a fortnight ago and I think it is time we heard about it’.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: What stage has the application by Trans-Australia Airlines for permission to carry traffic between Perth and the northern part of Western Australia reached? Is the Minister able to tell the Senate when it is expected a determination will be made on this application?
– 1 rang representatives of the Department this morning to ask them what stage had been reached in this matter. I was told by them that they have practically concluded their recommendation to me and the Government and that I should receive this before very long. Beyond that, I cannot help at the moment, but again I shall be expecting to see something from them later this week.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the New South Wales Government, in its 1970-71 Budget accounts, has used Commonwealth financial assistance to meet an approximate $36m deficit? Does he know that this action is reported to be in conflict with Commonwealth Act No. Ill of 1970, the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Act, which lays down that Commonwealth funds shall be applied for the purpose of financial assistance … in connection with expenditure of a capital nature’? Is the action of the New South Wales Treasurer, Mr Askin, in direct contradiction of the tradition and spirit of Commonwealth assistance to the States and does it establish a dangerous precedent for the future of Commonwealth funds? As the Minister concerned with law and order and charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all people, governments included, carry out the law, will the Attorney-General examine the procedures adopted by the New South Wales Premier and see whether the N«w South Wales Government is in breach of a Federal Act? What action has he taken or does he propose to take to ensure compliance with the law by. the New South Wales Government?
– It is a very involved question. It raises many issues. I am not able to give an answer to any part of it at the present time. I ask the honourable senator to put the question on the notice paper.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, refers to the Minister’s Press release of Sth October wherein he said that contributors to hospital insurance funds in
South Australia will be able to obtain extra benefits to cover the higher hospital charges in that State without extra costs to themselves because the hospital insurance funds in South Australia will use their reserves to offset the recent rises in hospital fees. Why can hospital insurance funds in South Australia use their reserves in this way whilst the funds in the other States either do not want to do so or are not in a position to do so?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think it should be said (hat to an extent the hospital funds, particularly in New South Wales, do have built into the new timetable a use of their reserves. I would be happy to get more precise and particular information for the honourable senator but it is my clear understanding that there is built into the new timetables for the hospital funds in New South Wales an ingredient to offset the accumulation of reserves. As f understand it, this is consistent also with certain references in the Nimmo Committee’s report.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping anl Transport a question which relates to a question which J asked him on 28th September last. It concerns the structural condition of the Bass Strait ferry ‘Princess of Tasmania’ and the future of services across Bass Strait consequent upon the life expectancy, if I could put it that way, of that ship. Is the Minister in a position to give me a further answer on that matter?
– That question was’ referred to the Department of .Shipping and Transport on the same date. Again it is one of the questions that are being checked up this morning. The Department has been asked to provide an answer fairly soon.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to the ministerial statement which outlines the Commonwealth education programme for 1971-72.’ The Minister stated that the Canberra College of Advanced Education will not only be training teachers to meet the needs of the Commonwealth Territories but also will be accepting students for teacher training without regard to the school system in which they will eventually teach. I ask the Minister whether this statement relates only to government schools throughout Australia or. whether teachers for the independent school system will be accepted for training.
– I shall have to refer the specific question to the Minister for Education and Science, although my belief is that it is for both government and independent schools.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. I think he would be the correct Minister to ask. Can the Minister give any information on the figures incorporated in Hansard last Thursday evening by Senator Wright, who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service in this place, as to the number of casualties in Vietnam? The figures show that the number of national service casualties in battle was close to the number of casualties in battle of the permanent military forces, and that the non-battle casualties of the permanent military forces are far in excess of the non-battle casualties of National Servicemen. Is this an indication that the deployment of National Service trainees in danger areas in Vietnam is greater than that of members of the permanent military forces?
– I have not had the opportunity of making an analysis of the question which the honourable senator asks. I would have to refer it to the Minister for the Army for more detailed information. I shall do so and give the information to the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the statement that Mr Barnard, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, is in favour of secret ballots in trade unions? Is the Minister aware that Mr Barnard later qualified that statement by stating that secret ballots could be held only if a union meeting reached such a decision by open vote? Can the Minister say how that statement aligns itself with the policiesof the governments of New South Wales and certain other States which propose to legislate for the introduction of secret ballots in trade unions?
– Mr President, I rise to order. I submit that the question is not admissible because it asks for comments by the Minister on matters which do not come within his portfolio. It is not the proper purpose of question time to ask questions such as that. This is an endeavour to raise argumentation on a matter which is a proper subject for debate, not for a question at question time.
– I will consider the point of order. In the meantime I absolve the Minister from answering. I will deal with the matter before the end of question time.
– Mr President, does a point of order taken in the Senate have the effect of erasing a question from the rebroadcast in the evening of question time?
– I shall see that it is not erased.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air. Has any decision been made in regard to the purchase of long range reconnaissance aircraft? If no decision has vet been made, which suitable aircraft of this type are under consideration?
– The Royal Australian Air Force at present lacks a specialist reconnaissance aircraft although Canberra and Mirage aircraft are being used for that purpose. My Department presently is making a study of the requirements for this type of aircraft but I do not think that any particular aircraft has been looked at yet. Until the study is completed I cannot give the honourable senator any further information.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that certain prominent members of Parliament reportedly are attempting to build a public image and that this is proving to be both difficult and expensive? Can the Minister say whether the image of some political leaders is becoming. a little tarnished by the stand being taken by some members of the Opposition in relation to sanctions? Is it a fact that the secretary of a prominent union has said of the shadow Minister for Labour that if he continued to hold the views he espoused in relation to the retention of sanctions it would De better to retain the present anti-socialist government Minister for Labour and National Service?
– Mr President, 1 rise to order again. This question contains, in fact is largely composed of, matter which is not the proper subject for a question at question time. I submit that question time is not designed as a means for discussing the public images of members of Parliament. lt is designed as a means of seeking information from a Minister or for pressing for action upon matters within a Minister’s portfolio. It should not bc used as a means of argumentation and of raising controversies which can be dealt wilh at other times.
– I have addressed myself previously to honourable senators who have been seeking to use question time as a forum for invoking. propaganda of one kind or another. I am prepared to rule on Senator Young’s question in relation to which Senator Murphy raised a point of order. I asked Senator Young to write out his question. I now have looked at it and I see nothing there to indicate in any way that it is not a proper question to be addressed to the Minister. I shall allow Senator Young to ask his question.
I am going to apply the same procedure to Senator Webster as I did to Senator Young. Senator Webster’s question will be in abeyance for the time being. I wish honourable senators would get into the habit of writing out their question, which is a correct and effective way to ask questions. Then I would not have to go through this process of reading scribble. I call Senator Young.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the statement that
Mr Barnard, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, is in favour of secret ballots in trade unions. Is the Minister aware that Mr Barnard later qualified that statement by stating that secret ballots could be. held only if a union meeting reached such a decision by open vote? Can the Minister say how that statement aligns itself with the policies of the governments of New South Wales and certain other States which propose to legislate for the introduction of secret ballots in trade unions?
– 1 saw a statement which was attributed to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the effect that be favoured secret ballots. I did not see the qualification to that statement. I think the appropriate answer is that I shall ask my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, to invite the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to give the Minister his views on the matter so that they may assist in advancing a consideration of acceptance of secret ballots in trade unions.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the stated intention of the South Australian Leader of the Opposition, Mr Steele Hall, to introduce a private member’s Bill calling for union secret ballots before strikes are approved? Is it a fact that many trade unionists will welcome such a move? Has the Minister also seen a report in which the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is reported to have said that the entire resources of that organisation will be made available to the South Australian trade union movement to oppose the proposed legislation in Parliament?
– I have not seen a report of the honourable senator’s last statement relating to declared opposition to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, Mr Steele Hall, to introduce measures for secret ballots. The best comment I can give with regard to such a matter is that recent gallup polls have shown an overwhelming acceptance of the principle of secret ballots in order to protect the right of trade unionists to determine whether strikes shall be permitted to dislocate their employment.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate add anything further to the report that at a symposium in Washington next month doubts may be dispelled about the United States Northrop Corporation’s precision navigation system, Omega? Can the Minister indicate to the Senate whether negotiations have been entered into wilh America to establish the station in the north west of Tasmania?
– I cannot add anything to the information given by the honourable, senator but 1 undertake to refer his question to the appropriate Minister and obtain a response for him.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, relates lo the questions asked by Senator Young and Senator Jessop. Is it a fact that, at the present time, the National Labour Advisory Council which reports to the Minister is currently discussing the question of arbitration amendments or any reforms which might bc necessary for Government attention? In the light of that action, has the Minister yet told the Australian Council of Trade Unions which is represented on the National Labour Advisory Council that the Government is against any recommendations which this Advisory Council might make? If not, will the Government shortly bring this matter to an end because it appears that Ministers are saying that they are prepared to introduce legislation which has not yet been approved by the National Labour Advisory Council?
– With due respect to my friend Senator Bishop, 1 find the process by which the question is composed in ils various sentences, step by step, a little difficult to follow. It will be appropriate, therefore, as it relates to proceedings within the National Labour Advisory Council, that I refer it for personal attention to the Minister. That I shall do.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that France intends to resume the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific area in 1972? Will the Australian Government take immediate action to lodge firm protests with the French Government against the resumption of such tests?
– This is a matter which, as I understand it, would come within the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. From my background knowledge 1 am aware that protests have been made in the past. I am not aware of the current situation about which Senator Keeffe has asked, but I shall inquire about it later this afternoon. I am certain in my own mind that if a nuclear firing is intended the Government will have taken appropriate action, as it has done on previous occasions.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation conferred with Qantas Airways Limited to avoid a repetition of last week’s episode when leopards which were being transported by Qantas from Thailand to New York had live doves as part of their menu?
– I have not had lo do so as Qantas itself took immediate action. Apparently the consignment was passed to Qantas in Bangkok for carriage on one of ils aircraft which was on its way to London. I was able to ascertain that Qantas look immediate action on that matter. However, this does perhaps raise the point that the board and management of Qantas are the people responsible for such an operation, not the Minister. Nonetheless 1 do take an active interest. The particular matter referred to by the honourable senator was. as I said, covered by the company almost immediately.
– My question is supplementary to the earlier question which I addressed to the Leader of the Government. It might be appropriate for me to ask it now so that the Minister can obtain information on the 2 questions at the same time. Is he aware that a number of contries have objected to the underground explosions of nuclear weapons by America on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians? Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether Australia also has lodged an objection, in view of the fact that such a major underground nuclear blast is likely to cause tidal waves, nuclear pollution and possibly earthquakes?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI shall seek information in response to that supplementary question at the same time as I seek information in response to the question previously asked by Senator Keeffe.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware of the great public concern over the amount of Australian land which has already passed into foreign ownership and control and the prospects of further considerable tracts of Australian land also passing into such foreign ownership and control? Can he tell us whether it is possible for the Government to bring into the Senate in some convenient form details of the extent to which Australian land has passed into foreign hands?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt seems to me that the question as posed is rather wide and that it would be very difficult to interpret it sufficiently to enable me to give an answer. For instance, we all are aware of the movement of capital into Australia from overseas. If the honourable senator is talking in that context that is one thing; but I fancy that he is referring to land in the generality rather than grazing properties, mineral leases or something of that kind in relation to which companies, with the aid of foreign capital, have been investing in developmental operations in Australia. Perhaps after question time Senator Murphy would like to elaborate his question. I shall certainly seek the information that he has sought, butI do not think that the question as posed was definite enough to elicit the response that obviously he would like.
-I address my ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence or the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. It relates to the production of the 2 prototype light twin engined N3 aircraft for military and commercial purposes. which were apparently designed to add to the capability of the Australian aircraft industry at a time of its downturn. I ask: As one aircraft has been completed and flight tested, has its design been approved? If so, what orders for the aircraft have been placed with the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation by Commonwealth departments or the Services?
– The N3 aircraft has been flown by only one pilot and he is the only man who has evaluated its performance. At present representatives of my Department and the other Service departments are discussing with the Department of Defence the evaluation of this aircraft. I understand that a number of people in the commercial world have shown an interest in the aircraft but evaluation tests are not sufficiently advanced to determine whether it meets their requirements.
(Question No. 1208)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
What steps have been taken by the National Library and/ or the Australian Council for the Arts to preserve for archival purposes films that have been made in Australia.
– The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer to myanswers on 18th August 1971 to the honourable senator’s Questions Upon Notice Nos 779 and 987 about the Vincent Library and the National Library’s film archives (Hansard, pages 80-81).
The National Library seeks its material from all available sources including individuals, private collections and film companies. The Library has been a full member of the international Federation of Film Archives for many years so as to ensure that it is conversant with the latest developments in film archive work. It is currently investigating international standards on the housing of nitratebase film with a view to constructing suitable premises to house it.
The comprehensive acquisition of film material is, however, complicated by a number of factors over which the Library has no control. There is, for instance, no legal deposit requirement for the owner of a film to lodge a copy with the archive for preservation purposes. The owner of the. film: may not wish to part with a copy for preservation on any terms or he may set so high a price on a copy that its purchase cannot be justified. Similarly the owner may sell all rights in a film for many years and thus preclude its acquisition by the archive.
(Question No. 1321)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The matter referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Public Health in the House of Assembly for Papua New Guinea.
The Administrator on the advice on the Ministerial Member for Public Health has provided the following information:
A total of $1,626,131 was spent on the antimalaria campaign in Papua New Guinea during the financial year 1970-71.
Following a request from the Papua New Guinea Administration for expert advice, the United Nations Development Programme arranged through the World Health Organization for two consultants (a Malariologist and an Economist) to visit Papua New Guinea to report and make recommendations on the anti-malaria campaign.
The consultants visited Papua New Guinea in November 1970. The consultants’ report stated that:
Since the beginning of 1970 a major reorganisation of practically every aspect has been instituted.
During the short time he has been in charge of the service the consultant has contentrated on setting up the machinery to obtain accurate information from the field on which to base rational plans and to institute more effective operations.
Considerable progress has been made but years of failure to produce data essential for evaluating spraying and also to check blood film diagnosis cannot be remedied overnight.’
Their report contains recommendations for continued improvement of the campaign based upon major changes already instituted.
The report makes no statement that most of the money has been wasted but does say, in relation to spraying operations, that compared to the expected results and to what has been achieved in some other countries, the results are very disappointing. On the other hand the report does state that the parasite rates have been reduced to about a quarter of their original figure in districts where spraying operations are carried out.
As a result of the reduction in malaria, morbidity and mortality and work absenteeism has been reduced considerably. The general health of the people has improved and their economic progress accelerated.
The report contains certain criticisms in relation to supervision, reporting by leaders and supervisors in the field and the attitude of some officers towards responsibility and commitment to the campaign.
The Papua New Guinea House of Assembly has accepted the report in principle and steps are being taken to implement its recommendations including the recruitment, with the assistance of international agencies, of key professional staff.
A copy of the World Health Organization’s Report is being placed in the Parliamentary Library.
(Question No. 1385)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Of the 12 peers who spoke during the two-hour debate, 9 supported the motion. No vote was taken at the conclusion of the debate.
Senator Mulvihill directed a question to me on 7th October concerning the need for members of registered health insurance organisations to be consulted on major policy decisions involving fund rates and distribution of fund reserves. I undertook to give a considered reply to the question.
Direct contributor consideration of some major individual policy matters is obviously impractical, bearing in mind the need for expert assessment of technical and actuarial data that is involved when benefits or contribution rates are under review. Consideration by properly accredited representatives of the contributors on funds’ committees of management is the best situation that can be achieved.
Both the health insurance organisations to which Senator Mulvihill referred - Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria and the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia - have provision for member representatives to be on their management boards. There is possibly scope for some organisations to revise the procedures for appointment of the contributor organisations so as to give the body of members a more effective voice. However, I am sure that health insurance organisations will be well aware of the interest shown by the Senate -in this matter and will be only too happy to give consideration to the specific points made and, of course, I shall be pleased to look at any proposal that is developed in this connection.
I would like honourable senators to be fully aware of the close watch that is maintained by the Commonwealth Department of Health over the operations of health insurance organisations in the interests of contributors. It is usual for major policy decisions involving fund rates and distribution of fund reserves to emanate from specific decisions by the Government. Of course an individual organisation is free’ to frame changes outside the context of any request by the Government and in this situation the organisation must obtain the approval of the Minister for Health before any such change becomes effective. This is in accordance with section 78 of the National Health Act. In considering changes of this nature submitted by health insurance organisations attention is concentrated on ensuring that members’ interests are fully safe-guarded and the proposed change is in no way to their detriment.
There are far reaching implications involved with this matter, implications which affect the majority of health insurance organisations as well as Government interests, and in view of this 1 have directed my Department to list the subject as an agenda item for the next meeting of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council so that the implications can be fully canvassed.
(Question No. 1126)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1245)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1)It is not possible to provide costs for the very wide range of activities that may be classified as having some public relations content or purpose. The actual and estimated salaries and Allowances of full-time public relations staffs, both Service and civilian, and on activities directly attributable to the functions of these staffs, for the years indicated, are as follows:
Director of Public Relations 2 Journalists 2 Clerical Assistants 1 Photographer, Grade 3 1 Typist 1 Squadron Leader 1 Sergeant Clerk 1 Sergeant Photographer
Sydney - 1 Journalist 1 Photographer, Grade 3 1 Stenographer 1 Sergeant Clerk 1 Sergeant Photographer
Brisbane - 1 Journalist 1 Photographer, Grade 2 5 Stenographer
Melbourne - 1 Journalist 1 Photographer, Grade 3 1 Clerical Assistant 1 Sergeant Clerk 1 Sergeant Photographer
Butterworlh (Malaysia) - 1 Flight Lieutenant (Journalist) 1 Sergeant Photographer
Vietnam - 1 Flight Lieutenant (Journalist) 1 Flying Officer Photographer.
(Question No. 1251 )
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1314)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Upon their arrival at the Facility, United Stales personnel are informed of the Northern Territory conservation laws. The Facility is jointly managed by senior representatives of the Australian and United States Governments who co-operate closely with the local authorities to ensure that all personnel on site play their part in protecting the environment including the observation of conservation and anti-pollution measures.
The buffer zone has been enclosed by a stockproof fence which was built to a specification provided by a wildlife expert with the object of providing maximum access by native animals. The site, which is gradually returning to its original state, is accessible to biologists who are concerned with research into Australian fauna. Scientists visit the site to study the gradual change in the ecology. Access, of course, is subject to permission being granted under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.
The grounds of the Facility, which are extremely well kept, are being improved by a programme of planting lawns, trees and shrubs, including native species suited to the harsh climatic conditions.
I am satisfied that the overall effect of the establishment of the Facility and the absorption of the associated population into the community has in no way, adversely affected the environment at Alice Springs.
(Question No. 1420)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has the Government received any request from the Victorian Government for financial relief, because of the extended drought conditions now prevailing in East Gippsland?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following replyto the honourable senator’s question:
The premise on which the question is based appears to be that, by not preventing or attempting to prevent the publication of the book under discussion (‘Secret Sentries in Space’ by Philip J. Klass) the United States authorities have tacitly confirmed the correctness of the speculation in the reference in the book to installations in Australia.
The real position is that neither Government intends to confirm or deny speculative statements of the kind made in this book or for that matter in the trade journals or public media. No information will officially be made public on either side without prior consultation and concurrence of both partners. If and when additional information is released, the public of both countries will be equally informed. This Government’s policy on security was made quite clear in my statement in the House on 14th September (Hansard pages 1287 and 1288).
– I want to refer to a matter which arose earlier this afternoon. Senator Murphy raised a point of order in relation to a question being asked by Senator Webster.I asked Senator Webster to write out the question which he proposed asking and which formed the basis of the objection by Senator Murphy. I have read the question proposed by Senator Webster and I must uphold the point of order raised by Senator Murphy as the substance of the question proposed to be asked by Senator Webster could not be within the mind of a Minister representing a Minister in another place.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Air Navigation Act 1920- 66, I present the 11th Annual Report on the administration and working of the Act and Regulations and on other matters concerning civil air naviagation.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales-
Minister for Civil Aviation) - Pursuant to section 42 of the Citizenship Act 1948-69, I present the annual return of persons granted certificates of Australian citizenship for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Three Year Improvement and Maintenance Programme - Stuart and Barkly Highways, Northern Territory.
– I move:
When the sitting is suspended there will be a period of approximately 10 minutes before the Committees sit. This will enable the relevant chambers to be prepared to enable the Committees to function.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to implement a scheme for the stabilisation of returns to apple and pear growers for a period of 5 years commencing with the 1971 crop. Industry leaders, after consulation with the industry generally, have indicated their very strong support for the scheme to which legislative expression is now sought to be given through this Bill and the associated Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Bill 1971, Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill 1971 and Apple and Pear Organization Bill 1971.
As. honourable senators well know, this Government never seeks to impose an orderly marketing or stabilisation scheme on an industry. The proposals for such a plan must be developed through a well tried and proven system of consultation and negotiations between the Government and an industry so that, when they are presented to the Parliament, it can be confidently affirmed that the proposals conform to the requirements of the Australian Constitution and to our responsibilities in the field of international trade, that they are legally and practically realistic and that their implementation is sought by the industry concerned. That it is possible today to bring down in the Senate a Bill to implement a scheme for the stabilisation of returns to apple and pear growers is a tribute to the common sense and spirit of co-operation which have marked discussions and negotiations between industry leaders and representatives of the Commonwealth for well over 3 years and which have led to the present position being reached.
When, those years ago, industry leaders and officers of the Department of Primary Industry came together in this matter for the first time it was appreciated that there were many hurdles to be surmounted before a stabilisation scheme which would be fair to all parties and which could be presented to the Parliament could be evolved, but the parties set to with a very definite aim of reaching agreement on the basis of such a plan if it could be found to be constitutionally, legally and practically possible. After discussions at the level of industry representatives and departmental officers had gone as far as they could go the industry leaders met with the then Minister for Primary Industry, now the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), and subsequently with the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), and the outcome of all these deliberations is the Bill which is presently before the Senate.
It has been estimated that the scheme is likely to cost the Commonwealth of the order of $10m over the 5 years of its life and this gives some idea of the unfortunate position in which this industry finds itself. Because of this unfortunate position it is true that this stabilisation scheme and the likelihood of the subvention by the Commonwealth under the scheme of this $10m over 5 years will not provide solutions to all the industry’s problems. However, it is intended that the scheme will give a considerable measure of stability to the industry to assist it to examine its other problems and to take steps to meet them.
It is unusual in speaking to a Bill which will have application to the affairs of an industry which is spread over Australia to elaborate, upon the particular circumstances of one State. However, I think that in the present context of the scheme proposed under this Bill I should perhaps draw attention to the particular importance of the apple and pear industry to Tasmania and in saying this I am not attempting to take away from the relative importance of the industry in some other States.
However, when I point out that the industry has a history of over a century in Tasmania and has been developed, since the introduction of refrigerated shipping, principally for export and that the value of the industry to the State’s economy has been in recent years between $16m and $20m annually, it will be appreciated just what the industry does mean to the island State. It is understood that the industry in Tasmania provides between 45 per cent and 60 per cent of agricultural earnings of the State and 12 per cent to 15 per cent of total income from rural primary industries including timber and mining. On average over the last 10 years Tasmania provided 36 per cent of Australian production of apples, but 71 per cent of exports; 7 per cent of production of pears, but 27 per cent of exports.
The scheme outlined in the Bill presently before the Senate breaks new ground in some of its aspects. This is because it is specially framed to assist the most vulnerable section of the industry: That section engaged in export on open consignment, sales afloat, or on consignment against a guaranteed advance payment. These classes of exports are usually referred to as ‘exports at risk’. Both the industry itself and the Government recognise that exports sold forward at firm prices, at or above the minimum prices set by the Australian Apple and Pear Board, are not in need of the same kind of assistance and the scheme has been framed accordingly. The scheme will be integrated with the industry’s private enterprise system of marketing as regulated by the Australian Apple and Pear Board and the Board will be responsible for the overall administration of the scheme. 1 would now briefly explain the way in which the scheme proposed in this Bill will work. Separate stabilisation funds will be set up for the different varieties of apples and pears, and average export support prices will be set for each variety each season. In the determination of the average export support prices for a season other than the first season, regard will be had to established movements in cash costs. If the average export return of a season for a variety falls below, its average export support price, then a payment will be made from the relevant fund to the. owner of the fruit. If the average export return for a variety exceeds the support price, then owners will be levied to make a. contribution to the relevant fund.
If, at any time, the balance in a stabilisation fund is insufficient to make the necessary payment to owners, the Commonwealth Government, will meet the deficiency. The contribution to the appropriate varietal fund by the owner of the fruit, where a contribution is called for, Will be on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 80c per bushel. The Commonwealth’s aggregate liability in respect of the fruit of a season will be related to the total quantity of fruit of that season exported at risk. The basic limitation is a total quantity of 4.4 million bushels, which could attract a maximum payment of 80c per bushel. As the quantity exported at risk goes above 4.4 million bushels, the maximum rate of payment per bushel will be reduced pro rata - although the aggregate amount involved would remain at a fixed level, that is 4.4 million x 80c = $3,520,000. For example, at 6.6 million bushels the maximum rate of payment would be 53.3c a bushel and at 8.8 million bushels it would be 40c a bushel.
I mentioned previously that the scheme now proposed breaks new ground in some aspects. 1 have already mentioned one such aspect, that is, that this scheme docs not cover all production or all exports but only particular classes of exports, that is, exports on consignment, sales afloat, or on consignment against a guaranteed advance payment, all of which classes we may refer to loosely as consignment sales. Firm sales made ahead of export are npt included in the scheme although - and this brings me to the second unconventional aspect of the scheme - proceeds from forward sales will be brought into the calculation of the rate of return per bushel from export sales against which the Government’s guarantee on consignment sales is to be matched.
The explanation for this arrangement is that the guaranteed price per bushel under the scheme has been set at a level - on the assumption of returns from all sources being brought to account to determine an average export return per bushel - that is higher than would have been the case if only proceeds from ‘risk sales’ were to be brought to account.’ The arrangement adopted, while yielding the same overall results, is easier to administer than one under which both the guaranteed price and the average return of a season were established on the basis of consignment sales only.
I would now comment on certain specific provisions of the Bill. I would remind honourable senators that the scheme covered by the Bill provides for the determination of an average export return for a season in respect of a variety by bringing to account proceeds from (a) forward sates, that is sales made before export and (b) sales of risk fruit, that is fruit sold after export.
In respect of (a) the Australian Apple and Pear Board can and does control such forward sales by the powers given it already under the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1966. Clause 18 of the present Bill provides that the Board, in exercising its powers in this regard under the Organization Act, shall comply with any direction of the Minister in making any minimum price determinations in respect of forward sales. Further, that the Board will take all action that it lawfully can to ensure that fruit to which such a determination relates is not’ sold overseas at a price less than the price applicable under the determination. 1 must make it clear to honourable senators that there is absolutely no intention of the Government, through this section, involving itself in the affairs of the Board under normal circumstances. It would only be where the Commonwealth’s liability under its guarantee to the industry appeared to be threatened by some action or failure to act on the part of the Board - and such a situation I cannot possibly envisage occurring - that the section would be used. Similar provisions exist in other legislation but, to the best of my knowledge, have not needed to be used in the case of those other industries. That the Commonwealth’s position must be protected is beyond doubt and so clause 18 must be in the legislation. However, I would not anticipate that action would ever need to be taken under it.
Complementary to clause 18 arc subclauses (4.) and (6.) of clause 6 which deal with a more complicated situation. Clause 18 covers the situation of fruit which is sold forward. Sub-clauses (4.) and (6.) of clause 6 have regard, on the other hand, to fruit exported on consignment. Again, these provisions, like clause 18, are to protect the Commonwealth’s position under its guarantee and would not be used unless that position were threatened by some irresponsible selling of fruit by a party altogether out of line with the more responsible commercial selling of the bulk of Australian exporters. Sub-clause (5.) of clause 6 ensures that regard will be had to the views of the Australian Apple and Pear Board should any action be contemplated under sub-clauses (4.) and (6.) of clause 6. Clause 14 (1.) provides that the Minister may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, enter into an arrangement with the Australian Apple and Pear Board to perform the functions of making stabilisation payments on behalf of the Commonwealth and, while such an arrangement is in force, the Board may do all things that are necessary or convenient to be done by it in pursuance of the arrangement.
In the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill, which honourable senators are also to consider, authority is given to the Minister to enter, on behalf of the Commonwealth, into an arrangement with the Board to do all the things that are necessary or convenient to be done by it in respect of the collection of export duty and provisional export duty and associated matters. Hence it will be seen that it is intended that the Board will constitute the central body through which the stabilisation scheme will work, both in respect of collection of export duty and disbursement of stabilisation payments.
I said previously that the Commonwealth’s liability in respect of the fruit of a season will be related to the total quantity of fruit of that season exported at risk. That total quantity embraces both apples and pears and there are not separate specific quantities for each apples and pears. In the light of this fact the industry has asked for an assurance by the Government that should any major anomaly (such as an imbalance in the relativity between apples and pears) be so ‘evident as to affect seriously the scheme at any stage in its lifetime the Government will be prepared to discuss the matter with the industry to see if it is necessary to amend the arranged ments under the plan and the legislation. I am happy to say that the Government is prepared to give the industry such an assurance. I said earlier that this stabilisation scheme will not solve all the industry’s problems. However I believe it is a fair and just scheme and will give the industry considerable assistance. The industry shares that view. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received fromthe House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this Bill is to impose export duty, under certain conditions, on apples and pears exported on consignment. This arrangement is for the purposes of the stabilisation scheme referred to in my second reading speech on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971. This Bill is complementary to the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill 1971 and the Apple and Pear Organization Bill 1971. The Bill provides in clause 6 that, where the average export return for a season in respect of a variety of fruit exceeds the support price for that season in respect of that variety, export duty will be imposed on the exportation on consignment during the season of fruit of the season.
Clause 7 prescribes the formula under which the export duty will be charged. Paragraph (d) of sub-clause (2.) of clause 7 provides that the maximum rate of excise duty which can be charged is 80c per bushel.
Clause 8 renders the exporter of the fruit liable for payment of the export duty (but it might be noted here (hat clause 14 of the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill 1971 provides that where an exporter has paid export duty in respect of fruit of which he is not the owner he is entitled to recover an amount equal to that export duty from the owner of the fruit as a debt due to the exporter from the owner). The stabilisation scheme is framed to operate on the basis of 5 succeeding seasons each of which shall commence on the 1st day of October in each year. Hence clause 9 of this Bill provides that export duty imposed by the Bill is not payable in respect of fruit that is not sold after it is exported and before the end of the season in which it is exported. Clause 10 of the Bill imposes provisional export duty in accordance with the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill 1971.I shall refer to the operation of that provisional duty in my second reading speech on that Bill.I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Bill 1971 and the Apple and Pear Organization Bill 1971. The Bill provides the machinery arrangements for the payment and collection of provisional export duty and export duly to be imposed by the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Bill 1971. Clause 4 ofthe Bill provides that the Minister is authorised to declare provisional export duty which shall be payable on the export of fruit on consignment. The clause authorises that a rate of provisional export duly may be fixed by regulation and prescribes the time limit in which the provisional export duty shall be paid. However, subclause (11) of clause 4 provides that where a person has made arrangements that, in the opinion of the Minister or an authorised person, are adequate to ensure that any export duty that may become payable by that person will be duly paid, the Minister or the authorised person, may, by writing under his hand, exempt that person from liability to pay provisional export duty.
In practice, as explained in my second reading speech on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971, it is proposed that the
Australian Apple and Pear Board will act as the central body th rough which export duty will be collected from the industry and stabilisation payments made to the industry. To the extent, therefore, to which exporters in this industry may make satisfactory arrangements with the Board in respect of such collections and payments it is envisaged that provisional export duty will be waived. It is understood that all exporters will operate through the Board in respect of the stabilisation arrangements and thus secure exemption from payment of provisional charge. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western
Australia - Minister for Air) (4.28) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938- 1966 in a couple of respects. The Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1966 is the Act which establishes the Australian Apple and Pear Board and under which the Board controls the export marketing of apples and pears from this country. Although the legislation to give expression to a scheme for the stabilisation of returns to apple and pear growers for a period of 5 years commencing with the 1971 crop is largely contained in the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill 1971, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Bill 1971 and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Bill 1971, there is need also to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1966 in respect of the scheme. Opportunity has also been taken to propose the amendment of that Act in respect of an incidental marketing matter at the same time. The Constitution of the Australian Apple and Pear Board as presently laid down in the Apple and Pear
Stabilization Act 1938-1966 includes a member to represent the Commonwealth Government and this member is mandatorily the Chairman of the Board. The position is a part-time one and the occupant has traditionally not been a public servant.
Somewhat similar arrangements previously obtained in respect of some other boards until such times as there were introduced in the particular industries concerned Government backed schemes, the operations of which had financial and policy implications for the Government. Once that stage was reached the Parliament agreed, in the cases of those boards, to amendment of the relevant legislation so that the position of Government representative on each board concerned could be filled by a departmental officer and separate arrangements were made for the appointment of a person other than the Government representative as chairman of the board. These changes were made in the light of the Government’s recognition of the need to have the closest liaison between the Government and the board in view of the operation of the particular Government backed stabilisation or other scheme. It is proposed to adopt a similar procedure on this occasion and the Bill before the Senate contains the provisions in this regard.
The net effect of the proposed new arrangements is that, in lieu of the present single member of the Board who is both representative of the Commonwealth Government and board chairman, there shall be 2 members, one of whom is the representative of the Commonwealth Government but who is not chairman, and the other of whom is a member and chairman of the board but is not the representative of the Commonwealth Government. Both appointments will be made directly by the Minister. Clause 6 of the Bill proposes an amendment of section 19 of the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1966 so as to permit the Board to make payment out of the Export Fund of the expenses incurred by the Board in respect of what it may be required to do in connection with the stabilisation arrangements.
The incidental marketing matter to which I referred previously is that clause 7 of the Bill provides that section 21 of the principal Act is repealed. Section 21 of the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938- 1966 provides that:
Cheques drawn on any account referred to in the last preceding section shall be signed as prescribed.
Statutory Rules 1961 No. 54, the Apple and Pear Organization (Banking) Regulations, prescribe these signatories.
It has been felt for some time that it is unnecessary to so limit a responsible authority like the Australian Apple and Pear Board. The purpose of the amendment therefore is that section 21 and, consequently, the Apple and Pear Organization (Banking) Regulations should be repealed and that the manner in which the Board’s cheques should be signed will be left to the discretion of the Board. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Air Navigation Bill 1971.
National Service Bill 1971.
Sitting suspended from 4.33 to 10.20 p.m.
Ship Wrecks off Western Australian Coast - Redemption of British War Savings Certificates - United Kingdom Immigration Bill
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to attract the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to a matter that is in dispute in Western Australia, because I think it is of some national and perhaps international importance. I refer to a case in which a skin diver had information laid against him by the police for diving on a wreck off the Western Australian coast. Mr Walsh, a solicitor, defended the man who was named Robinson. A Press report of the case states:
A solicitor submitted yesterday that the magistrate had no jurisdiction to commit Ellis Alfred (Alan) Robinson for trial on a charge of unlawfully using gelignite to cause an explosion likely to damage property at Tryal Rocks, near the Monte Bello Islands.
Mr T. A. Walsh said in the Perth Court of Petty Sessions that the offence, if any had been committed, occurred outsidethe territorial limits of Western Australia.
Mr Walsh claimed that a person was not criminally responsiblefor an offence relating to property when he was exercising an honest claim of right.
It appeared to be a fact that the Tyral wreck was situated 12 miles off Norlh-West Island in the Monte Bello group, he said. The seas in the vicinity of the Tryal were not in Western Australia and did not form part of the State.
It was not sufficient to say that the Tryal wreck was property; it had to be proved that it was the property of another and that an act was committed without that person’s consent.
Magistrate C. Zempilas: ‘Doesn’t the Museum Act cover that?’
Mr Walsh: ‘The Tryal isn’t vested in the Western Australia Museum by the Act. If it does belong to anybody it belongs to the Queen, to Robinson, who claims he discovered the wreck or perhaps to the shipping company, if it still operates.’
However, if the crown argued that the museum had control of the wreck that argument bad to fail because the Act was invalid, Mr Walsh said.
The magistrate reserved his decision, but he gave it on the next day. A Press report of the decision states:
Magistrate C. Zempilas rejected submissions by Robinson’s counsel, Mr T. A. Walsh, that the Perth Court of Petty Sessions had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Mr Zempilas said Mr Walsh had submitted that Robinson should not be committed for trial on the charge.
The grounds of his first submission were that the alleged offence had taken place in an area outside the West Australian territorial limits and that the court had no jurisdiction to bear the matter.
Mr Walsh had contended that the jurisdiction of the Western Australia Criminal Code was limited by section 12 to people who were in the State at the time of their doing anything that constituted an offence.
Mr Zempilas said that the area in question was in the vicinity of Tryal Rocks, 14 miles northwest of North West Island in the Monte Bello group.
According to the boundaries defined in the letters patent of October 29, 1900, the Tryal Rocks lay well within Western Australia and Robinson was in the State at the time of the alleged offence.
Mr Walsh bad also questioned whether the explosion was unlawful.
The prosecution contended that the property was an historic wreck vested in the Western
Australia Museum under the Museum Act of 1969. The schedule to the Act did in fact list the Tryal and said that it was wrecked in 1622.
Mr Zempilas ruled that the Museum Act did not conflict with the English Merchant Shipping Act and the Commonwealth Navigation Act and therefore the Museum Act was not invalid.
Robinson was remanded to the November sittings of the Supreme Court. My submission to the Attorney-General is that this matter touches upon the Australian Constitution. I believe therefore that it should be removed, under section 40 or section 41 of the Judiciary Act 1903-1969 which provide for the removal of matters touching on the Constitution to the High Court, into the High Court for determination. Section 40a deals with the effect of constitutional powers on any two or more States. I am not sufficient of a lawyer to be able to advise the Minister but I do ask him, in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the people of Australia, to seek from the trial magistrate the notes of evidence to see whether the matter should be removed into the High Court.
– I rise to say a few words on this subject, not so much because I wish to support Senator Cant in his application to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to have this matter removed into the High Court for a determination of the legal problem that it presents - I agree entirely that it does raise in a very real way some of the grave constitutional problems that are facing the Federal and State governments in relation to the control of the seabed and all that that entails - but because I believe that this matter raises another problem altogether. I refer to the national interest in the historic wrecks off the Western Australian coast. I believe that a good deal of the neglect of this problem is because there have been doubts about the constitutional power of the State Government. I regret to say that there has been a great disinterest shown by the Federal Government in relation to his matter.
The wreck to which Senator Cant referred - the Tryal’ - and which is the subject of the litigation in Western Australia is the first historic Australian monument. It is the first known European wreck. That means that it is the first known evidence of any European civilisation in Australia or in the waters ofl the Australian coast. The ship was. wrecked in 1622. It is of the same historical period as the ‘Mayflower’. I think it is of enormous interest to Australians to reflect that this British ship was sailing off the Western Australian coast at about the same period that the ‘Mayflower’ sailed from Plymouth to the eastern seaboard of the United Stales of America. In fact, the ‘Tryal’ was wrecked 2 years after that. I believe that this wreck and other 17th century wrecksoff the Western Australian coast should be the subject of intense interest by the Federal Government as well as the State Government and that there should be a national programme for the marine archaeological exploration of these wrecks: This has been attempted on a small scale by the Western Australian Government. As a result of the concern felt by that Government it introduced the Museum Act of Western Australia which purports to vest ownership of these wrecks in the Western Australian Museum. Honourable senators will appreciate the enormous difficulty in policing these wrecks and protecting them from the interest and the plundering of many skin divers who are interested in them not so much for their historical significance but for the bullion, silver and so on which they contain. It has been a notorious fact in Western Australia for several years now that skin divers, particularly those using modern techniques and methods that are available to them, have been diving on these wrecks and recovering considerable quantities of interesting and valuable coins.
– Doubloons and pieces of ten.
– Yes. They are recovering not only coins but also other highly interesting objects which were part of the cargo and part of the equipment of the vessels. As I said, attempts have been made by the State Government and the Museum to explore these wrecks by modern techniques. But there has been a lack of finance available to the State Government. It is not too late for there to be a real effort of co-operation between tha Federal Government and the State Government in mounting adequate scientific’ archaeological investigation of these wrecks.
Regretfully, the attention that these wrecks have received fro’m a number of skin divers has caused a good deal of damage. In my opinion, it is an enormous national tragedy that this wreck - the Tryal’ wreck - has now been severely damaged by whoever it was who damaged it. lt would be quite wrong, while this prosecution is being conducted, to say here or anywhere else who has done the damage to the wreck. But the fact is - I do not think there is any question whatsoever about this - that great damage has been done to this wreck, which until April this year was entirely in its original state as it foundered in 1622. It presented a perfect opportunity for the attention of scientific investigation by marine archaeologists and was of great historical interest. A great deal of historical knowledge could have been obtained from it. As I said, regretfully that has probably now been lost. 1 take this opportunity, as the matter has been raised tonight, to draw the Commonwealth Government’s attention to this problem, not only from the legal and constitutional point of view but also from the point of view of the need for adequate protection of these wrecks. That is the first requirement. Secondly, there is the point of the expenditure of money, which I think should properly be done in co-operation with the State Government, in mounting some very realistic and worthwhile historical or archaeological investigation of the wrecks. The reason why this tragedy has occurred in regard to this wreck is that there has been inadequate supervision and surveillance of these wrecks. The State Government or the Museum has not been able adequately to finance supervision of them. The wrecks are located, of course, in very difficult areas from the point of view of keeping a watchful eye on them. Nevertheless, I believe that this could be done if there were adequate sources of finance and if there was also a greater sense of will on the part of governments to achieve this. I hope that now the matter has been raised here the Government will give further attention to it than simply taking advantage of the opportunity it raises for the resolution of these legal problems.
– My submissions tonight will be like a modern version of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’; but; instead of it being the
Dickens concept of London and Paris, my version will deal with Sydney and London. The first submission I make is a plea to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson to obtain from the Prime Minister’s Department, on behalf of many British war brides, a clearcut definition of their right to redeem their British war savings certificates. The submission 1 make is epitomised in the case of a Mrs P. Harrington of Minto in New South Wales who takes the point with me that, as- a teenage operative in the munitions industries in wartime Britain, certain financial impositions were imposed on her. In common with many other women who have reached a stage where they have children either at high school or at university, she feels that after a span of 25 years a sum of, say £Stg50 would bc very valuable to her at the present time.
Obviously, I cannot anticipate what the Minister .has been able to ascertain. But Mrs Harrington tells me that on making overtures to the British Inland Revenue Department she was blandly told that unless there was some special economic hardship she would have to wait until she was 60 years of age. The point is that by that time, as she says, the children would be more or less able to stand on their own feet. I make a plea to the Minister to clarify this matter. With due respect, I say (bat many promises were made during World War II. Many ideas of the four freedoms and kindred matters were expressed. 1 think this is a matter in which there should not be any repudiation or delay and in which the Australian Government has a responsibility, as these women are wives, of Australian citizens, to see that they receive the same satisfaction as is often received when there is some . financial tangle between business interests involving both British- and Australian capital.
The other matter that I raise, again on this theme of British-Australian relations, is the rather undue silence being maintained by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) as to our attitude to the future impact of the United Kingdom Immigration Bill. I noticed in the Press this morning that no less a person than the New South Wales Agent-General, Sir John Pagan, was very critical of this Bill.
– Who is he?
– Sir John Pagan was the Federal President of the Liberal Party. He would have been the counterpart of our own Tom Burns, the illustrious President of the Australian Labor Party. The point I am making - 1 do not say this boastfully and I do not want honourable senators opposite to take umbrage at it - is that at least 8 weeks ago 1 raised this very question. I know that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson took it up with the Prime Minister’s Department. The impression was that the question was just infra dig; that it was not a matter one discussed at all. 1 respectfully suggest that, if the New South Wales Agent-General rightfully refers to the changed status of Australians and if we of the Opposition anticipated this 8 weeks ago, it speaks volumes for our own acuteness as to political trends.
I do not deny to any British government, whether it bc Socialist or nonSocialist and whether it be led by Wilson or Heath, the right to control its own inflow or outflow of migrants. But I do say this: If it is good enough for the British to place certain restrictions on or to reduce the status of Commonwealth nationals as compared with the possible status of people from the Common Market countries, it is time that we said to them: If this is the way it is to be, either you reconsider it or the privileges we grant to British nationals will be put on the same basis’. I do not object to the granting of those privileges.
I instance the case of Miss Ellen Wilson, presently an Australian resident in Surrey. She summed the position up when she said: ‘We are hearing plenty of utterances by British spokesmen, both Government and Opposition, but nobody at Australia House seems to be able to tell us what the situation is’. I say this on behalf of the men and women who are on what might be termed working holidays: They do not want to feci that the boom will suddenly be lowered and that they will be told: ‘You have to pack up your bags and go’, lt is all right to talk about idle speculation. There is a report in today’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ that a suggestion was made in the House of Lords that Australians who are in Britain on a permanent business appointment could receive United Kingdom citizenship at the end of 3 years. After all, we give
British people the right to take a certain course of action to obtain Australian citizenship. I emphasise again that I fail to see why Australia, through the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), has been so silent. I speak for the many hundreds of Australians at Earls Court and other places where Australians congregate, lt is time a ministerial statement was made. I make this strong appeal to Senator Wright with regard to the 2 instances to which 1 have referred.
– 1 have listened with interest to what Senator Durack said concerning the. need for Australians to appreciate the historical treasures, in terms of Australia’s past, which lie off the western coast of Australia. I sense that because the Western Australian Government has seen fit to enact a Museum Act which is designed to preserve and protect the wrecks which lie below the surface there is a really conscious desire in Western Australia to do something to preserve this heritage. I will convey fo the Minister concerned - I expect the appropriate person to whom to convey the honourable senator’s sentiments is the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts - what the honourable senator has had to say. But I think what he did say was prompted by the remarks of Senator Cant.
I well know the interest which Senator Cant has in the somewhat attractive legal problems which possibly - I emphasise ,the word ‘possibly’ - are involved in the case to which he has referred. Under the Judiciary Act a matter involving the Constitution or its interpretation may be removed into the High Court at the request of any of the parties or at the request of the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth or of any of the Stales. There is also another provision in the Judiciary Act under which a question which involves the powers, inter se, of the Commonwealth and the States will automatically be referred to the High Court when that issue arises before the court which is hearing the matter. AH I wish to say at this stage is that if a matter does arise in the courts of Western Australia as to the limits, inter se, of the powers of the Commonwealth and the States ! would imagine that the adjudicating tribunal will have regard to the provisions of that Act. But if a matter involving the Constitution should arise for determination, as I understand Senator Cant to be directing my attention, it is a matter of judgment in each case as to whether an Attorney-General should act.
I think the paramount consideration to which I must have regard at the present time is that a person has been committed for trial on an offence and in due course he will stand his trial. I would have thought that any statement by me on the merits of what Senator Cant has raised, or any embarking into a discussion of legal questions, would be imprudent and could be regarded as unwarranted in the circumstances that a man is on his trial. In those circumstances, all I feel I should say is that I shall investigate further the Press reports of this case to which Senator Cant has referred and give consideration to the matters involved. Beyond that I feel I should not go at this stage.
– With regard to the submission made by Senator Mulvihill about the English war brides, I would submit with great respect to the honourable senator that it is inappropriate to advance a case of that sort by an indefinite statement in the adjournment debate. I invite the honourable senator to have those who have first hand knowledge of the war brides war savings certificates and their conditions and terms, to set them down with copies of the instruments so that the appropriate Minister of this Government can make responsible representations to the relevant authorities in the British Government and, therefore, get a responsible answer. No such approach could be made upon the honourable senator’s submission in the form in which we heard it tonight.
With regard to the other matter, it is inappropriate for Senator Mulvihill to protest that on previous occasions he has raised this matter because I was about to remind him of that fact myself. If he looks at the Hansard record of 30th March and 18th August he will be reminded that he was then told that the question of who should be entitled to enter the United Kingdom is a matter entirely for the decision of the British Parliament. Having said that in the best diplomatic language that I can use in the honourable senator’s presence, I assure him that the aforesaid Agent-General, Sir John Pagan, has taken every opportunity to represent our interests to the responsible authorities in London.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711012_senate_27_s50/>.