27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament asembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
Parents have the right to choose their children’s education and as taxpayers they are entitled to ask that public funds to which their taxes have contributed should be shared justly and equitably for the education of all children.
The Commonwealth Parliament has accepted the principle of an Independent School System in Australia and has also accepted the principle that those schools should be assisted from public funds.
The very existence of a large number of independent schools is now threatened due to the changes in economic circumstances and due to the increased demands on the resources of these schools.
The reduction of the number of independent schools in Australia will effectively deprive many taxpaying parents of their right to choose any alternative type of education for their children.
The closure of a number of independent schools will result in serious overcrowding in and further deterioration in the standard of Government schools.
It is in the interest of all school pupils whether in Government or independent schools that the Independent School System should survive and function efficiently and effectively.
The absence of any increase in capitation grants by the Commonwealth since 1969, notwithstanding the great increase in costs since then, has created serious problems for independent schools.
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
An emergency increase in capitation grants for independent schools to enable them to survive without increasing fees beyond the capacity of parents to pay.
A just and equitable means of increased support for all schools both Government and independent to the intent that such support should be integrated into the economic and financial planning of Australia and that the question of proper support of both independent and Government schools should cease to be a matter of political debate and expediency.
Petition received and read.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the statements by the Treasurer about the enormous capital inflow to Australia during the last September quarter which was some hundreds of millions of dollars in excess of the normal inflow. Is the Government yet able to throw any light on the origin of these moneys, where they are now lodged and what is the motive behind this influx? In particular, is the Minister able to tell us whether this indicates that overseas ownership of Australian industries and resources is accelerating at a dangerous pace? Will he also tell us what plans the Government has to maintain Australian ownership of our resources and industries?
– The Leader of the Opposition refers to what I think is an accepted fact, namely, that there has been a significant increase in the inflow of capital to Australia in more recent times. He then seeks to obtain from the Treasurer information as to the order of the excess, perhaps the motives behind the significant inflow, the source of it and, in fact, whether it prejudices the Australian equity in the investment sense. I know he appreciates that, whilst he composed the question, quite clearly I cannot give answers on behalf of the Treasurer on those matters, particularly as the final question he asks is in regard to policy or what the Government’s attitude is in relation to this matter. Therefore, I think that very properly I should ask him to place the question on the notice paper so thatI may obtain an answer from the Treasurer.
– I think it is time the Government–
– Order! Senator Murphy, you have asked your question and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has answered it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry: What factors are taken into account when considering whether suitably equivalent goods are available in Australia? Is price one of the factors considered? Could the term ‘suitably equivalent’ be defined in understandable terms?
– I think I should direct this question to the responsible Minister. I have a very vague understanding of what is meant by the term ‘suitably equivalent’. I think the question ought to be answered in precise terms. I will ask the Minister to let us have the information.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Australian Government will inform the Government of the United States of America, following the controversial dismissal of the former commander of the Harold E. Holt base in Western Australia, that it wants this country to have a much greater say in the control of the base? Is the Australian Government disturbed by reports that the former commander of the base has been ordered to have a psychiatric examination - a frightening situation where the commander of a base is involved in communications with nuclear submarines?
I do not know the source of the information on which the honourable senator has based his question. I have read some very colourful Press reports about this matter, but I have no official information about it. Very properly therefore, before responding to a question which implies that we should be sending almost dictatorial signals to the United States of America, I would think that the obvious thing to do would be to get the facts. I will attempt to get the facts in response to the question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Did the Nimmo report in 1969 recommend that medical fund management expenses should approximate 10 per cent of contribution income for the first year of rationalisation of fund activity, 9 per cent in the succeeding year and 8 per cent thereafter? As we are now in the third year since that report’ was made and as administrative expenses for 1969-70 were at 16 per cent of contribution income - as high a level as for any time since 1 956 - what steps does the Government propose to take to curtail this tremendous waste of contributors’ money?
The Nimmo report has been tabled in this place. It made certain recommendations, many of which the Government has adopted and some of which it has not adopted. That is a fact of life. To take in isolation - I would not say out of context because it would be unfair of me to say that - certain of the views expressed in the report and to pose those views as a question would seem to be in the world of unreality.. What may have been relevant, in relation to either that item or any other item, at the time the report was tabled does not necessarily remain relevant in early December, one week from when,. T hope, this House will rise. When one examines a report of this nature one has to be very careful about making 1971 judgments on what was tabled in 1968. or 1969. I come back to the issue which I know the honourable senator wanted to bring out. I will have a look at the Hansard report of his question and I will respond to it in contemporary terms.
– My- question, which is directed to the- Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, relates to Australia’s- future trade with countries in the European Economic Community. Is the Australian Government satisfied that its trade representatives in each of the EEC countries are of sufficient numbers and specialist skills to ensure that our interests are served to the maximum? Is it proposed to strengthen those activities? Is there a continuous liaison between our representatives in each of the EEC countries?
– The Government is satisfied that the representation is adequate and that the necessary specialist skills are there. Fifteen of the .33 trade representatives currently in Europe are stationed in European Economic Community countries. The need for increases and changes is reviewed quite continuously, particularly with regard to the changing trade patterns and the importance of changing trade areas.
– This is another ‘question without notice* signed by Dorothy Dix.
– I think that that is the essential quality of the question asked by Senator Carrick. ]n reply to the aside from Senator Keeffe, 1 refer him to my answer on a previous occasion.
– ls the Minister for Health aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction among general medical practitioners over the differential rebate system under the common fee concept which results in specialists receiving greater monetary reward than general practitioners for similar services, although patients pay the same amount in either case? Has his attention been drawn to claims of general practitioners that this system is diverting considerable numbers of patients to specialists for services which can be fulfilled adequately by general practitioners and that this is being done to the disadvantage of general practice and at unnecessary expense lo the taxpayer? What steps does the Minister have in mind to eliminate this grave disadvantage?
The question posed by the honourable senator hits at the very basis of the specialistgeneral practitioner relationship. As I said yesterday in my defence of the general practitioner, the referral system has as its keystone or fundamental basis the protection of the general practitioner. If that referral system were nol applied and a patient could make a direct approach to a specialist, the life and future of the general practitioner would be absolutely prejudiced. One can disagree with this system if one wishes - ‘this is a matter of judgment - but if one believes, as 1 do and as, I rather suspect, the questioner does in the preservation of the general practitioner, one must accept that concept of the referral system.
Having said that, 1 agree that there are areas of dissatisfaction. ‘ lt would be a funny world if that were nol so. The medical profession is no different from any other profession - parliamentary or otherwise. There will always be an area in which there is a justification for further examination. I have these matters constantly before me as Minister. This state of affairs is not peculiar to me; if anyone else were Minister he too would have them. One must make a judgment in the final analysis as to where the balance lies. I would say that the referral system is the basis of the preservation of the general practitioner in relation to the specialist. As long as I remain Minister, I will always maintain that position when I put a view to the Government. I am sure that it is a policy decision of the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air or to the Leader of the Government who represents the Minister for Defence, whichever is appropriate. It refers to the 24 Fill aircraft. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that all evaluations and other tests necessary to permit the Government to decide the future of this aircraft are now available to the Government? Does the Government intend to give a final report to the Parliament before it rises in respect of this question? ls it likely that, at that time, it will be known whether or not the aircraft will be purchased? If the final report will not be given to the Parliament, when is the report likely to be issued?
-BROCKM A N - It would not be true to say that all tests have been completed or that all information from the tests that have been completed has been evaluated because further information is still coming in both to the Department of Air and to the Department of. Defence. However, most of the tests have been completed and evaluated. It is hoped that the Minister for Defence will put a submission before Cabinet next week. When Cabinet will decide to examine that submission and make a decision, I cannot say. I do not think a report will be presented to the Parliament before the end of this session, but a decision will be taken by the Government as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service tell me how many married women whose husbands are fully employed are registered with the Department of Labour and National Service as requiring employment?
– The statistics that are collected in connection with employment do not record whether the husbands of the women applying are employed. With regard to the actual number of unemployed, the latest figures that I have were compiled up to October. I notice in my file that the number of persons unemployed then was 62,330, which is a remarkably low figure. It is a little above recent figures but they were extreme achievements. The unemployment figure at the end of October represented 1.11 per cent of the work force.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Have the 3 members been appointed to examine existing administrative discretions under the Commonwealth statutes and regulations as announced by the Prime Minister on 14th October 1971? If so, who arc the persons so appointed? What progress has been made to institute a review of the prerogative writ procedures available in the courts as outlined in the same statement?
– I welcome the question asked by the honourable senator. The 3 members whom the Prime Minister in his statement indicated would be appointed to that further committee have not yet been appointed. Inquiries have been made and are currently under way as to the availability of certain persons and these inquiries have not yet been concluded. I am hopeful, however, that I will be able to make a statement in the near future as to the composition of this committee. With regard to the other matter which the honourable senator raised as to what steps have been taken to institute a review of the prerogative writ procedures policy in accordance with what the Prime Minister indicated, I can assure him that work has already commenced within my Department in that area.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the rising need in the interests of public health for diminution of the discharge of carbon monoxide from motor vehicle exhausts, particularly in metropolitan areas where intense traffic density occurs, will he ask the Treasurer to give early consideration to exemption from sales tax of anti-pollution devices available for incorporation in motor vehicle engines? Also in the interests of the maintenance of air quality generally, through encouragement to industry to install air pollution control plant of maximum efficiency, will consideration be given to allowing industry investment allowances and more attractive depreciation allowances on such plant?
– The honourable senator’s question relates to a matter of policy. As I have said in response to other such questions, it should be referred to the Treasurer. It is the normal procedure for the Treasurer at Budget time to examine what he will do in terms of gathering revenue and granting exemptions from taxation. That procedure is not peculiar to this Government. It has been the traditional method adopted by the Mother of Parliaments as well as the Australian Parliament. I would like to reflect briefly upon the area covered by the question. If I understand the workings of the Treasury and I think I do - the first thing its officers will do is to evaluate the implications of the proposal. The question is couched in such wide terms that it raises problems as to fixing where motor vehicle pollution arises. I am rather afraid that it would be difficult to narrow down the field and the scope of the concession if such were subsequently approved. Nevertheless, perhaps Senator Laucke will explain his question to me later and I will have the whole matter sent to the Treasury for evaluation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Has the Government shelved the Nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs? If not. what further action is being undertaken in respect of the survey?
– The Senate will be reminded that this question refers to a national survey undertaken by State Minis ters 18 months or so ago. The results of that survey have been collated, and I think the present situation is that final decisions have not been made by either Commonwealth or State governments. The matter is such a gigantic undertaking, the basis upon which the survey was made being one that requires examination in depth, that it is not appropriate at this time to look forward to a decision at a relatively early date.
-I refer the Leader of the Government to a question I asked yesterday, to which he replied that he was not aware of the extent to which university students could not obtain casual employment during the university vacation. I now ask: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to statements issued yesterday by officials of most student bodies which claim that in total 10,000 students already are seriously embarrassed by the absence of casual employment? Will the Minister reconsider the request I made yesterday for specific grants to local and semigovernment agencies through the States, similar to the$20m grants to rural local government bodies, by discussing this matter with the Prime Minister with a view to helping these young people or, alternately, permitting them to apply for unemployment social service payments?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI recall the question very well. I said yesterday that I was not aware of the significance of the short-fall in employment or the inability of students to obtain casual employment. The honourable senator has referred me to statements which I have not seen. In fairness to his question yesterday let me say that it should be clearly understood that I do not make the decisions in a matter of this kind. This is a matter that would come primarily within the responsibility of the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service. The honourable senator may be assured that, regardless of my answer yesterday, the question already would have been directed to those departments for examination. I shall send his subsequent question through the same process of referral.
– My question also is addressed to the Leader of the Government. Is the Government giving consideration to the establishment of a rural finance corporation to provide long term, low interest rural loans, as the Australian Democratic Labor Party has repeatedly proposed and the Government has consistently opposed in this place? Is it a fact that the Government is giving consideration also to having the Commonwealth vacate the field of estate duty, as proposed repeatedly but to date unsuccessfully by the Democratic Labor Party in this place?
– Questions of policy or what is expected to be policy quite clearly are not answered at question time. All that I suggest to the honourable senator is that he put this question on the notice paper so that I may refer it to the appropriate department.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Mr Geoffrey Rippon, the United Kingdom Common Market negotiator, in a recent speech spoke of the traditional period required by Australian exporters to the United Kingdom. Has any definite undertaking ever been given as to the actual application of this transitional period in terms of time or injury to Australian exporters, particularly primary producers, in the way that New Zealand exporters to the United Kingdom for instance have been given 5 years initially, with a gradual tapering off thereafter?
– WhileI know Mr Rippon slightly, I have not read an article in the newspapers about what he is supposed to have said in this regard. I believe that the honourable senator’s question ought to be placed on the notice paper in order that the Minister for Trade and Industry and the officials who have had negotiating experience with Mr Rippon in this area can reply to it.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. By way of preface, I refer to question No. 1592 that I have placed on the notice paper which seeks clarification of the statues of Australian citizens in the United Kingdom following the enactment of new immigration legislation in that country. 1 ask him as an interim measure: In the event of wishing to intervene in a complaint received from an Australian involved in a dispute with the British Home Office in this regard should 1 use the avenue of the Prime Minister’s Department or the Department of Immigration?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONJ have just had a look at question No. 1592 which Senator Mulvihill placed on the notice paper on 4th November. If the honourable senator wishes to intervene in a case of this nature, my advice to him would be to approach the Department of Immigration because the Prime Minister’s Department would have to get the relevant facts from the Department of immigration anyway.
– I have asked this question because Sir Alec Downer is the representative in London and he is not directly responsible to the Department of Immigration.
Nevertheless, I think it would be much better if the honourable senator were to approach the Department of Immigration. Quite clearly the Prime Minister’s Department would have to get from the Department of Immigration the background to the case and the relevant facts about it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. 1 ask: Is the Minister aware that a number of employer organisations have indicated that there is a prospect of turnover being slow in the coming calendar year and that, as a result, the employment situation will remain quite tight during that period unless adjustments are made? Does he acknowledge that the most basic of manufacturing industries require a lead time of some months to gain full production? Will the Minister convey to the Treasurer my request that he give urgent consideration to an immediate reintroduction of what is commonly known as an investment allowance, which would be one wise move at this particular time?
– The honourable senator has asked mo to reflect upon a statement by an employer organisation. I have not seen that reference, but 1 would not challenge it. I accept the fact that the necessity for a lead time is a very real issue in manufacturing industries as well as in some Government establishments, such as the aircraft industry. The reintroduction of an investment allowance is a matter of policy. However, I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer.
My question is directed to either the Minister for Air or the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Is it the Minister for Air or tse Minister for Civil Aviation who has the responsibility for granting permission to VIP aircraft to breach the curfew on all jet night flying operations between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport? Will the responsible Minister advise me why a VIP jet aircraft was allowed to take off from Mascot at 12.24 a.m. on 24th April last with no passengers on board and in complete breach of the curfew restrictions?
– Which Minister volunteers to answer that question?
– I remember your comment about not volunteering, Mr President, but it has been agreed between Senator Drake-Brockman and myself that I should answer it. We both have a responsibility. I certainly have some responsibility in my capaciay as Minister for Civil Aviation. I am aware of the range of VIP aircraft which have been taking off and landing during that period, but I cannot speak about the particular aircraft to which the honourable senator has referred. I shall find out about it for him.
– Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration about the possibility of stopping migration until the unemployment situation in Australia eased. I particularly mentioned that the building boom in Western Australia was over. To support my suggestion I now ask the
Minister whether he knows that the building trade unions in the West are now pressing for the introduction of the 40- hour week and the banning of all overtime. I again ask the Minister whether he does not think that all migration should be suspended immediately because the 30 per cent reduction to which he referred yesterday will still mean that 94,102 assisted migrants will enter Australia in 1972.
– The honourable senator asks me about matters which are not within my ministerial responsibility and which are of genera] concern to the Government. In that sense the Government has been concerned with the level of migration and it has endeavoured to maintain a level of migration which is consistent with Australia’s needs. Yesterday I indicated that at this time the rate of migration for this current year will be less than the rate of migration for the previous year. I do not think I can add anything to what I said yesterday except to re-assure the honourable senator that immigration is necessary because of the type of development which has been occurring in Australia and which the. Government, with confidence, believes will continue into the future. In that light, the whole question is always under review.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether he has any information on any grant in aid schemes for social service workers to work with counselling centres and other community organisations. Can he say whether the Department has made any surveys of the needs of communities in this regard? If not, will the
Department give consideration to such surveys with a view to assisting those agencies which are intimately involved with community well being?
– I do not have the information which the honourable senator seeks. I imagine that the position throughout Australia will have to be given some consideration by the Minister for Social Services. I shall convey the question to the Minister. I am sure that he will provide the honourable senator with an answer as soon as he is able to do so.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Will the cost of renovation of the 24 Fill fighter aircraft to bring them up to new condition because of their having been exposed to the elements on the tarmac at Fort Worth for a long time be an additional cost to the final purchase price? Has the Government been able to finalise negotiations on the parking fee to be paid for the aircraft while at Fort Worth? If so, what is the cost involved?
– Recently Mr Packard was out here and the Department of Defence and the Department of Air had discussions with him. These matters, among others, were brought up and discussed. No final decision has been reached on the points to which the honourable senator refers. There can be no final decision until delivery of the aircraft is made and the total costs are taken into account.
– My question which is directed to the AttorneyGeneral relates to questions asked in this place on Tuesday by Senator Young and Senator Bishop. The questions appear in the Senate Hansard at page 2150 under the headings ‘Wool Growers on Kangaroo Island’ and ‘Trade Unions’, Is the AttorneyGeneral now aware, following his investigation, that a wool grower on Kang;voc Island who is involved in an industrial dispute over employing non-unionists is respondent to the Federal pastoral industry award? Is the Attorney-General also aware that the award provides that disputes of this nature can be referred’ to a board of reference for determination by the Deputy Industrial Registrar? Does the Minister consider that precipitate civil action by wool growers against union officials, ignoring the remedies available under the award, is a dangerous procedure, that it is contrary to the policy advocated by the Government, and that it could even provoke an extension of the dispute?
Senator GREENWOODS was not aware that the wool grower concerned was a respondent to an award, nor was I aware of the terms of the award, but I do not doubt that what the honourable senator says is the position. The point is that the award does not permit a union to deny facilities to any person by requiring, through union solidarity, the denial of all services. That is the classic boycott and it represents what I would categorise as being a blatant misuse of industrial power. Whether or not a person may refer a matter under the arbitration processes is to me immaterial if a union acts improperly and unlawfully, as I believe it does if it acts in the way which 1 have indicated. It. is a curious concept to suggest that that should occur. I do not have any details of the matter but I understand that some civil process has been instituted. As I indicated on Tuesday, there are civil remedies available to people affected in the way in which these people have been affected by union action.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate whether the so-called independent inquiry into repatriation problems has commenced? If the answer is in the affirmative, how many witnesses have been examined?
– It is quite obvious that I would have to approach the Minister for Repatriation to find out whether the committee has commenced hearings and, if so, how many witnesses have been heard.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will the Minister institute immediate inquiries into what appears to be a continuous and deliberate policy to reduce official post offices to non- official status? Does the Minister realise that should this trend continue recruitment opportunities for young people in country and metropolitan areas will be imperilled? Will the Minister immediately investigate the reasons why the Northgate Post Office in Brisbane will operate in the near future under non-official conditions and thus test the judgment of the Post Office administration as to the desirability of such contemplated action?
– I am unable to say whether the Postmaster-General will conduct an inquiry of the nature sought although I assure the honourable senator that I will refer the question to him. The Postmaster-General has received numerous representations about the closing down of particular post offices over the period that this has been occurring and he has given attention to all matters referred to him. I am sure he will give attention to what the honourable senator has said about the particular post office to which he has referred. However, basic to all approaches by the Postmaster-General has been an acknowledgment of the fact that the maintenance of these post offices is costly, that the demand is limited, and that with changing times the need for post offices which was apparent 50 or 100 years ago is not the same today. It is a matter of changing social conditions. Generally speaking, where these post offices have been closed down the fears expressed before the closing down have not been realised after the event.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. In view of statements suggesting that the Government favours more creches and child minding centres, will the Government consider financing home help facilities to assist mothers who for health or other good reasons need help with young families so that the children can be kept in the home?
– As the honourable senator is aware, under legislation passed within the last 2 years certain provision of aid is made to the States with regard to home help services. I am unable to answer in relation to the range of that provision without some consideration being given to the question. However, as the nature of the honourable senator’s question is such that the Minister would like to give a considered reply I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Yesterday in answer to my question concerning a possible increase of lc per loaf of bread arising from the 4c per bushel increase in the home consumption price of wheat, the Minister told me that if I so desired he would write, through the Minister for Primary Industry, to the South Australian Premier to see what could be done to prevent the price of bread rising by more than one-ninth of a cent per loaf. I now ask: Will the Minister take this action? Will the Minister also request the Federal Government to make representations to the South Australian Prices Commissioner opposing any increase above one-ninth of a cent per loaf, along the lines followed by the Federal Government when it appears before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission opposing applications by the trade unions for increases in wages?
– 1 shall have a look at the question and discuss it with the Acting Minister for Primary Industry to see what I can do.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Why does the Government continue lo tell the people of Australia that there is nothing wrong with the economy when all available indicators show that we are now moving into a serious recession? Does the Prime Minister expect the scores of thousands of people out of work–
– Order! Senator Poke, I have admonished you before for using these rhetorical phrases in your questioning. Will you come to grips with the question you wish to ask?
– 1 have phrased it in such a way that I either continue or I do not ask the question.
– Then perhaps you had better not ask the question.
– Very well.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. During the debate on the National Health Bill 1970 I suggested and requested that a White Paper be prepared relating to all the considerations governing the question of medical benefits in relation to the services of opthalmologists and optometrists, and .he prescribing and supply of spectacles. Will the Minister reconsider this request which was made prior to his appointment and let the Senate know whether he is prepared to arrange for such a White Paper to be published so that further and full consideration can be given to this important and apparently vexed question?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONPerhaps a White Paper would have far more implications than I would wish to give to the point raised. But I certainly shall give consideration to the points which were dealt with in the debate on the National Health Bill 1970. I would be prepared to put down a normal ministerial statement covering all the implications of that side of medicine and the historical background to what the Government has done about it.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Educaion and Science advise whether Commonwealth scholarships made available to university students and not used are subsequently made available to other students? If they are not, will the Minister take whatever action is necessary to make it possible for worthy students to use these grants?
– I think that the honourable senator’s question presupposes an approach to this matter which is not actually practised by the Department. My understanding of it is that a certain number of scholarships are available and examination determines those who a rs qualified for scholarships. Those who are qualified then decide whether they will take them up. Within the appropriation for the year as many scholarships as possible are awarded. I bring to the chamber the statistics on education from time to time. As an indication to Senator Townley of the growth in the number of Commonwealth scholarships, I point out that total scholarships actually held in 1961 were 11,928 and in 1971 they were 61,048.
– Does the Minister representing the Treasurer know that, if the gold mines in Western Australia are forced to close through lack of subsidy, possibly 2,000 men will become unemployed? Does he realise that, if this happens, many of them will have to apply for unemployment relief? Is it not better to subsidise the gold mining industry in Western Australia and keep the men employed than to have to pay out social service funds? Does he realise that 2,000 men and their families on unemployment relief will cost approximately $2,500,000 a year and that all that is required to keep the gold mining industry alive is for the Government to contribute approximately$3m by raising the subsidy paid on gold from $8 per oz to $12 per oz?
– Order! I suggest that the honourable senator ask the question and not wrap it up with verbiage.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONAt this time, I would not be wanting to challenge the mathematics. That is something that we will have to think about at another time. But the case for a subsidy for the Western Australian gold mines has been put very forcefully and repetitively and debated in this place prior to the arrival of the honourable senator. The Government and 1 do not take the depressing view that the honourable senator takes, namely, that because of an absence of subsidy the end of the world is coming for the gold mining industry in Australia. It is a matter of decision. It has been examined by the Government. In fact, representatives from Western Australia have come specially to the national capital, have been introduced by Western Australian senators and have had an opportunity to put their views to the Government.I understand that they took the time to put their views to every honourable senator who would listen to them. I do not adopt a depressing attitude in relation to the Western Australian gold mining industry. But, in deference to Senator Negus, I will refer his question to the appropriate Minister.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether Ampol Petroleum Ltd, by virtue of the Government’s indigenous crude oil policy, is obliged to pay more for Gippsland crude than are any of its international competitors, with the one minor exception of Amoco Aust. Pty Ltd? Does this represent a deliberate Govern ment policy to assist wholly overseas owned companies in competition with their Australian counterparts?
– I have a recollection of this matter. I think it involves a situation in which Amoco Aust Pty Ltd and Ampol Petroleum Ltd have their refineries in Brisbane, where they are further away from the Gippsland shelf from where the crude comes than are other refineries located in Sydney and the Victorian area. I understand that there is some compensating arrangement, butI am not clear on the precise details of it. Broadly speaking, in my view, the accusation that Ampol is much worse off because its refinery is in Brisbane has not yet been fully sustained. I will find out more information on the matter for the honourable senator.
– Has the Attorney-General been supplied with the details of the material relating to the Kangaroo Island dispute he requested from Senator Young on Tuesday? If so. does the material reveal that a similar dispute on Kangaroo Island last year was settled to the satisfaction of the parties concerned by the Deputy Industrial Registrar while presiding over a board of reference?
– I invited Senator Young, last Tuesday I think, to put before me any material he had which might, as he saw it, suggest that a question of criminal prosecutions was involved. That was one part of a fairly substantial answer to Senator Young’s question. I have not had the opportunity to discuss this aspect with him since I replied to the question. I have not any material. Therefore I am not in a position to make any comment upon the honourable senator’s question.
(Question No. 1591)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As Beck had arrived in Mexico with an American passport, it was the United States Consul who was informed of Beck’s arrest and not the Australian Embassy. It was later, when the United States authorities withdrew Beck’s US citizenship,- that the Australian Embassy was informed and he was issued with an Australian passport. Beck was immediately visited by the Australian Consul. A second visit has since been made and the Embassy is’ keeping in touch with him.
(Question No. 1649)
asked the Minister representing the Minister, for the Navy, upon notice:
Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The concept of the naval light destroyer project (DDLs) was based on the need to meet defence strategic requirements and to fulfil the specialist destroyer role of a fleet unit. I cannot concede that these ships “would be easily eliminated in time of war’.
The RAN has 20 patrol boats in service and in addition to normal fleet tasks, these vessels patrol Australian and Territory of Papua and New
Guinea waters to deter the incursion of illegal fishing boats. The recent apprehension of the Kuang Nam off the the north Queensland coast by the patrol boat HMAS Barricade illustrates my point.
On the broader question of coastal surveillance generally, and the possible formation of a coastguard service, this matter is being investigated by an inter-departmental committee representing all interested departments. This committee is considering the organisation and material requirements necessary to ensure adequate protection of the Australian coastline and waters against various illegal activities, including fishing.
(Question No. 1548)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply upon notice:
Is any proposition being investigated to amalgamate the Government Aircraft Factory with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation? If so, what are the circumstances of the proposal, and will Parliament be fully informed before any commitments are entered into?
Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is considered that there is some scope for rationalisation of the activities of the defence aircraft industry, particularly in. relation to the operations of the Government Aircraft Factories and Comonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd at Fishermen’s Bend.
The aim would be to achieve a more stable and effective organisation that can develop with Australia’s needs. It is believed ‘that this course would be in the long-term interests of the industry and those who work in it.
An in-depth study of the practicability of a merger of the two organisations is now in progress The study is a complex one, however, and it is not expected that any firm recommendations will be made to the Government until the early months of 1.972. At this stage it is loo early to say how the matter will be dealt with following Government consideration.
Report of Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs
– I present the report from the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on the Death Penalty Abolition Bill i970.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Report of the Standing Committee on Social Environment
– 1 present the report from the Standing Committee on Social Environment relating to Canberra sewage effluent, together with the evidence.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
I have pleasure in presenting the report of the Standing Committee on Social Environment in relation to Canberra sewage effluent. This is the second report presented by the Committee within a month. Although it does not dispose entirely of any one of the four references on which the Committee has still to report, it deals with an aspect of pollution encompassed by the first reference that the Committee received. On 30th March this year the Senate, by resolution, gave the Committee terms of reference asking it to undertake a continuing oversight of the problems of pollution. As will be noted, in deciding to examine the consequences of the discharge of Canberra’s sewage effluent into streams flowing to the Murrumbidgee River, the Committee excerised the discretion available to it under those terms of reference.
In turning its attention to this subject, the Committee has not wished to appear to be setting itself up as a body ready to embark on an inquiry or investigation merely because it has received a complaint. Problems arise in .many places owing to the discharge of wastes into inland streams. Canberra, as Australia’s largest inland city, and one having a rapid rate of growth, offers the classic opportunity to study these problems. This circumstance and the fact that the source of the alleged pollution was within the Territory in which the Commonwealth has administrative and legislative responsibility were significant factors in the minds of Committee members in directing their efforts to this subject. Having noted public expressions of concern over the alleged effects of Canberra’s sewage effluent on the Murrumbidgee River and Burrinjuck Dam, the Committee considered its work programme and order of priorities, and determined that it ought to examine the matter immediately. That decision was made in the belief that the examination could be completed quickly without delaying other important tasks. Let me at this point express the Committee’s appreciation to the Commonwealth and State Ministers concerned, anc! their departments, and to the Goodradigbee Shire Council and its officers, for the cooperation and assistance extended to the Committee in the conduct of the inquiry. Particularly, the Committee thanks the officers who appeared as witnesses and who attended us on the occasion of our inspection of the Canberra sewage treatment works.
The major concern put to the Committee, in evidence, related to health hazards. The Committee found that the allegations that Canberra sewage effluent was responsible for harmful pollution of the Murrumbidgee River and the Burrinjuck Dam were not supported by factual evidence. Moreover, they were based - inappropriately, in the Committee’s view - on the assumption that drinking water standards should . be maintained at all times in the river and the dam. On the evidence presented, the Committee has no doubt that the discharge of Canberra’s sewage effluent contributes, though only marginally, to pollution of the Murrumbidgee River downstream from the ACT. The normal use of the waters in question being for pastoral and agricultural purposes and for recreational activities such as boating, fishing and swimming, the Committee considers that the marginal increase in the pollution load is not currently a health danger. In our view, the evidence did not establish any present threat to aquatic life in the river and the dam directly attributable to the discharge of Canberra’s sewage effluent. Nevertheless, we believe that, as a precautionary measure, detergent and ‘Solvex’ residues ought to be constantly monitored and their effects continually watched. Fears were expressed about leaching from the Coppins sludge lagoons and the danger of pollution of the Murrumbidgee River by a proposed new tip at the northern edge of current Canberra development. However, the evidence did not substantiate these fears.
In presenting this report, I emphasise that the Committee concerned itself only with the possible effects of Canberra sewage effluent on the reaches of the Murrumbidgee River from the ACT down to the Burrinjuck Da-». .Mid on the waters within the dam, and with the potential dangers from the proposed rubbish tip and the possibility of leaching from the Coppins sludge lagoons. The evidence indicated mat the presence of pollutants in the Burrinjuck Dam may be attributable not to the discharge of sewage effluent from Canberra but to sources in New South Wales. As the Committee has noted in its report, it is the responsibility of tie New South Wales anthorities to deal with any sources of pollution that occur within State jurisdiction. The report traces the development of Canberra’s sewage treatment works and notes that, with Canberra’s continuing growth, higher standards of effluent will be required in the future. The Australian Capital Territory authorities described lo the Committee their plans for a major new water quality control centre to be pui into service by 1976. Realisation of these plans will, the Committee believes, provide adequate safeguards for the future, however, the Committee is concerned at the present degree of reliance on the natural self-purification capacity of the Molonglo River. In effect, it is regarded as part of the treatment process. We recommend that everything possible be done to improve the quality of the effluent from the Weston Creek treatment works, and that the construction of the new water quality control centre be treated as a matter of urgency so that this situation may be brought to an end as quickly as possible.
The Committee believes that the joint testing programme recently instituted by the Commonwealth and State authorities should be continued and regarded as a first step towards some form of joint management of the Canberra-Burrinjuck Dam region of the Murrumbidgee basin. We foresee that in the future, with the growth of Canberra, there will be a pressing need to treat to a high standard, and to re-use, as much as possible of the available waste water. We believe that the Commonwealth’s interest in the waters flowing through the ACT must have regard to the interests of the adjoining region within NSW. It is our view that a form of joint managment would best harmonise these interests for the benefit of all. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the Commonwealth and State governments consider the establishment conjointly of a wafer quality management area in this part of the Mumimbidgee basin.
– Before proposing the adjournment of this debate 1 would like to assure Senator Laucke that there was no preconceived attempt to baulk his submissions. Mindful of the work load we have over the next 5 days, I am hopeful that on a future occasion we will have an opportunity to debate this report, having regard to certain responsibilities that will be placed on the Department of the Interior to heed the words of wisdom it contains.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
– Arising out of the presentation of the report on the Death Penalty Abolition Bill I seek leave to move a motion concerning the Bill.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I move: That the resumption of I he debate on the motion that the Death Penality Abolition Bill be now read a second time be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.
– I would like to inquire whether there has been any conversation on this matter with the Leader of the Government in the Senate?
– There has been., and I have spoken also to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) about it, in the anticipation that there would be further discussion as to what is to happen. If the motion is carried the effect will be merely to have it placed in the orders of the day for today. When and if it is to come on would be a matter for further discussion in the Senate, but it would give notice to senators of the possibility that it may come on today. That is the purpose of the motion and that would be its effect if it were carried, but I would anticipate further discussion on the matter.
– Senator Murphy approached me about this matter a short while ago. The Government will not oppose making the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill an order of the day for a later hour this day, thus placing it back on the notice paper. I understand that that is the purpose of the motion and that if carried it will achieve that effect. I certainly cannot give an indication - I do not think anyone can - as to when the debate will be resumed. I accept that it be made an order of the day for a later hour this day on the basis that it is subject to discussion with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), and also subject of course to the pressures of government business.
– Every honourable senator should have an opportunity to consider I he report that has been submitted.
– I certainly agree with Senator Wright that honourable senators should have an opportunity to study the report which, apart from mem* bers of the Commitee, none of us has seen. I think it would be highly unlikely and even injudicious for this matter to be debated today before all honourable senators have had a chance to study it. I think Senator Murphy appreciates that it is highly unlikely that the hope expressed in the motion will ever be realised.
– In reply - This matter appears on the notice paper today. It was anticipated that there would be some discussion on it, but I agree that it is right and proper that an opportunity be given for the report to be considered.
– It has not even been distributed yet.
– I hope that that will soon be corrected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $30m to be lent to the Australian Wool Commission in order to supplement as necessary its working capital. The money will be available for use by the Commission, to the extent that it is necessary for it to purchase wool in the course of maintaining its reserve prices in the wool market, and for the purchase of price averaging plan wool on hand at the end of the third pool period.
I think it is worth while recalling briefly the sequence of steps leading up to the present situation. The Wool Commission was established about 12 months ago, empowered to operate a flexible reserve price scheme for wool sold at auction. The aim was to reduce the instability of auction prices and to prevent wool being sold at reduced prices due to temporary slackening of competition at auctions. Following a rise in the initial period of the Commission’s operations, wool prices fell and the Commission decided that, when auctions commenced after the Christmas recess, average reserve prices would be held at the closing levels of the 1970 sales. This action resulted in the commission purchasing or having passed in to it large quantities of wool. However, in sales after Easter there was some improvement in the market and the Commission’s purchasing rate fell during the closing months of 1970-71. The Commission also resold some 73,000 bales of its stocks. After some further sales between the selling seasons, the Commission’s stock at the commencement of the 1971-72 season was 431,000 bales.
The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech said that the Government would continue to support the Commission in its reserve price operations on the same basis as in the past season, subject to regular reports and review by the Commission. The decision to introduce a one year scheme of deficiency payments was also announced in the Budget Speech. These decisions were reached after consideration of the severe financial plight of the wool industry and also of the best assessments available of the market outlook. At that time the economic measures subsequently taken by the Government of the United States of America and the consequent international currency disturbances could not be predicted. The extent to which these unforeseeable factors have affected the market situation cannot be measured, but undoubtedly it has been marked.
The Commission’s buying-in rates during the early months of the current season were at a high level. Clearances to the trade during November have been better, but continued purchases by the Commission have brought its stocks to in excess of 700,000 bales. The Government has therefore undertaken a further review of the wool market situation. On the basis of the latest report by the Commission on its operations, and its views on alternative courses of action, recommendations were presented to Cabinet by the Acting Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon). The Government decided that the best course of action in present circumstances was for the commission to maintain its current reserve prices.
The working capital already available to the Commission totals $86m. Of this amount $22m has been made available as a loan from appropriations by the Parliament - §1 2m in the last financial year and 5 1 Om in the current financial year. Loans totalling $64m have been made available to the Commission by the trading banks, of which $30m has been made available this financial year on the basis that it will be repaid not later than 30th April 1972. The Commission pays interest at 6) per cent per annum on all these borrowed funds and the same rate is proposed on advances from the money to be appropriated by the Bill. Unless the Commission’s buying-in rate drops very sharply the money already avail able to it for wool purchases will be fully committed during the parliamentary recess. lt was against this background that the Government decided - despite its reluctance to introduce new measures at this stage oi the sittings - that this Bill should be brought forward now. The alternative would be to face the likelihood that the Commission would have insufficient funds available to enable it to hold its present reserve prices. The Government is not willing to take that course, lt believes that the disruption to the wool market likely to result from abandonment of the Commission’s reserve prices would result in a further fall in wool prices and make recovery more difficult, lt would also result in an increase in the financial commitment for deficiency payments which, if prices during the rest of the season remain at present average levels, is estimated to be just over $10Om. Were further funds not provided to the Commission to maintain its present reserve prices, it is a matter of speculation what the resultant fall in prices and consequent increase in deficiency payments might be. If the fall were to average 6c per pound, the additional commitment for deficiency .payments would be about $65m.
Looking further ahead, to 1972-73 and subsequent years, it is clear that the level of support provided to the wool industry this year, through deficiency payments and the Commission’s reserve price operations, cannot be continued. No industry can expect an open-ended commitment on the part of the government and the taxpayer. The wool industry has been advised by the Acting Minister for Primary Industry that proposals it is developing for the Govern^ ment’s consideration must be realistically based and take fully into account the likely relationship between market demand and prospective supplies. The measures adopted this year will cushion the effects of the decline in the wool market and give time for adjustment to the new circumstances to be worked out. But for the future the Government will be seeking long term solutions, including thorough investigation of the possibilities of supply management.
The Government hopes that in the period between now and the end of the 1971-72 wool selling season there will be a marked strengthening of demand and that the outlook for 1972-73 will be one of confidence.
The Government and the industry must, however, plan for the eventuality that the trend will not be as favourable. For the present the Government has decided that the Wool Commission should continue to operate on the basis of its current fixed reserve price policies and that the Commission should be given access to additional funds to enable it to do so. The funds to be appropriated by this Bill are for that purpose. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1971-72 In Committee
Consideration resumed from 1 December (vide page 2283).
Proposed expenditure, §24,254,000.
– Last night Senator Bishop asked certain questions about the relationship of the Legal Service Bureaux to certain rights that under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act which might be sought to be availed of by persons entitled to those rights. The post,on is that in South Australia there are 2 professional officers attached to the Legal Service Bureau. Re-establishment rights are given to national servicemen by the Defence (Re-establishment) Act, which is an Act administered by the Department of Labour and National Service. Section 12 of that Act makes it an offence for an employer to fail to reinstate a member of the forces in the occupation in which the member was employed immediately before the commencement of a period of defence service and under conditions not less favourable to the member than those which would have been applicable to the member in that occupation if he had not been absent. Certain defences are available. Those defences are also set out in the Act.
In direct response to what Senator Bishop said, I think the position is that if an ex-serviceman sought advice from the Legal Service Bureau concerning his reinstatement in employment the Bureau would advise him of his rights under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act. If the exserviceman alleged that his former employer had faled to employ him, the Bureau would take particulars and then place the matter before the Department of Labour and National Service with a request for appropriate action to be taken. In so acting the Bureau would be conforming with certain directives which have been given and which were referred to in the course of the consideration of this matter by Estimates Committee B. Those directives were given by, I think, Sir John Spicer in the early 1950s. A further more elaborate statement was made in 1966 by Mr Snedden when he was the Attorney-General. In case Senator Bishop is interested in the details, I think I should indicate that he can find the latter statement in Hansard of 14th September 1966. The question of prosecution would be, of course, a matter for the Department of Labour and National Service. According to the inquiries I have been able to institute in the short lime since this matter was specifically raised, there have been no prosecutions, as far as is known, by that Department under section 12 of the Defence (Re-establishment) Act. Of course, an ex-serviceman could if he so wished institute a private prosecution.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I apologise for being late and not hearing all of the reply by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to the questions I asked last night. Did the Attorney-General give any information as to staffing of the Legal Service Bureaux? He will remember that I said last night that, according to information which had been made available to me, the staffing situation in each of the States, particularly in South Australia, is minimal. lt would seem to me on the figures that a good case could be made out for increasing the staff of the Legal Service Bureaux.
– I did indicate before Senator Bishop came into the chamber that there were 2 professional officers - one senior legal officer and one legal officer - in South Australia.
– One of the most serious problems affecting the democratic process of this Parliament in the period of a little over 9 years I have been a member of it is the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen or, as they are now known, parliamentary counsel. I have spoken .hour thU matter to the predecessors of the Attorney-General, lt seems that the problem is an extremely difficult one !> solve. Perhaps the problem arose because of some active discouragement or becau.se of the plain neglect and refusal by the Public Service Board to pay sufficient attention to the seriousness of the problem. Perhaps sufficient attention is not directed towards this matte- by the universities in providing courses which may help to fit lawyers to under) ‘ike these exceedingly expecting tasks. I ask the Attorney-General whether he can tell us what progress has been made towards solving the extreme shortage of personnel in his Department, lt is my recollection that only about half the positions were filled - that is some 13 or 14 out of 27.
If the position has improved what has been the improvement and what steps are being taken actively to ensure that the establishment is filled? If the matter is being held up at the Public Service Board level can the Attorney-General tell us what more can be done by members of this Parliament in both chambers other than to complain bitterly year after year about the shortage of draftsmen? Does the AttorneyGeneral think it would help if some motion were introduced into this chamber condemning the Public Service Board or whichever body is holding up the solving of the shortage?
– I am fully alive to the fact (hat the democratic process requires that there should be an availability not only of legislation which comes directly before the Houses of Parliament but also of subordinate legislation for its effective operation. T think this matter has concerned all honourable senators at some time. 1 must say that I do not feel that an expression which was used by Senator Murphy, if carried into effect, would really advance the matter, even supposing tha! there were a case to be made that, on balance, rejection by the Public Service Board of previous applications does not help the situation. A motion of condemnation would nol advance the position. What is required is a constructive approach which takes account of the very many ramifications of any decision which would seem to overcome the problem which the office of the Parliamentary Counsel has experienced in the past. Opinions may vary us to the area where remedial action is required. For my part I think that it is natural that if parliamentary drafting work has little appeal to persons who come out from the universities there has to be some incentive to attract to the parliamentary drafting service persons who have the competence and the will to persist in the performance of drafting work. In my judgment, it is noi work which has this ready appeal. Accordingly, that is and always has been one of the problems. It is a problem which in varying ways has affected the parliaments of the world where draftsmen are needed and where they are not readily available.
I believe that a further factor is that when the remuneration payable to legally trained persons outside the Public Service is examined, the outside returns and prospects are found to be much greater than those payable within the Government service. In that area in 1970 Parliament accepted the proposal for the appointment of a First Parliamentary Counsel and 2 Second Parliamentary Counsel. That was a recognition of the need to have an appropriate remuneration and career structure to which persons entering the service could aspire. 1 think the view expressed in the Parliament by a number of persons at the time the Parliamentary Counsel Bill was being debated was that it was the first step only. The next step was a recognition that there had to be an upgrading of other persons within the Service. In the past, efforts have been made to secure that upgrading but they have not been successful when the Public Service Board has come to consider the matter. Of course in these areas it is a decision of the Parliament, embodied in the Public Service Act, that the Public Service Board has the authority to determine the conditions of the service and the creation of the establishment of particular departments.
I think that all I can say to help the position at this stage is to indicate that after I became Attorney-General I had some very long discussions with the Chairman of the Public Service Board about the question of the staffing and remuneration in the Parliamentary counsel area. At least I learned a lot of the problems which must confront the Public Service Board in any decision which it takes. It is not a simple question to improve the remuneration as I think that honourable senators who have interested themselves in this matter might suggest. This would immediately create problems in other sections of the Government service, lt would create a very real problem in other sections of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. It would create problems with regard to the professional employment of other persons in other departments who undoubtedly could build up a strong argument for their supposition that remuneration should be on a comparable level with lawyers in the drafting service.
Of course these are maters upon which the Public Service Board must make decisions. At the moment I have before me for consideration a further proposal. In due course it will go before the Public Service Board. I am hopeful that it will lead to a result which will improve the situation. However, it must also be recognised that whatever changes may be made in the immediate future they will not have their impact generally for some time because it is not easy to attract - here I get back to what I said earlier - into the Government service persons who are interested in drafting work. I believe that there is a need to entice from within the university sphere those under-graduates who may have an uncertainty as to the course they will pursue after they have graduated and to develop the attractions of the Government service by pointing to what can be said are the very real interests which, in particular, the office of the Parliamentary Counsel indicate. I do not want to suggest by that statement that nothing has been done in this area. I know that over the years there have been consultations by the Parliamentary Counsel with various law schools. But there has been very limited result in this area.
As far as I am concerned this is a matter of continuing concern. It is a matter which I hope to explore in greater depth when more time is available after this session has concluded. But, as I said, whatever immediate steps can be taken there will always be the problem of allowing some time before the real benefits flow. I think it should be stated also that, having regard to the fact that the Government must organise the business before the Parliament, there has been a reorganisation which has enabled the legislation in this session to come before the Parliament without what at other times has been called the end of session rush. A programme was clearly indicated some time ago by which all legislation to be passed would have to be introduced in the originating House no later than 3 weeks before the end of the session, and that programme has been followed. I think one or two measures have otherwise been introduced with the special concurrence of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). That programme is an improvement and it has worked out simply by reorganisation. To that extent the Parliamentary Counsel has coped remarkably well with the heavy legislative programme of a Budget session, but there are many areas still in which work is being done in accordance with commitments which the Government has announced over a period of time and there always will be problems in the area of subordinate legislation.
– How is the establishment? How many positions are vacant out of the 27 in the establishment?
– 1 hope that before debate on this part of the Estimates concludes I will be able to give the precise figures. I do not have them before me at present. If I am not able to provide the precise figures in this debate I certainly will provide them for Senator Murphy and any other honourable senator.
– Could we have that information as well as information about the positions not filled?
– I know the information is readily available; it is just a matter of getting it to hand. The position simply is that advertisements seeking recruitment to the Parliamentary Counsel’s office were published earlier this year. I think the net result of all the advertising was one addition. That is part of the very real problem which exemplifies what I have said.
– I must say for myself and on behalf of the Opposition - and from what has been said in this chamber over the years I think I speak on behalf of all honourable senators - that we are dissatisfied with the position. I do not criticise the Attorney-General (Senator
Greenwood). He has not been long in that position and I accept what he said about what he has been trying to do. But this problem mast be solved somehow. Have there been holdups on the part of the Public Service Board? This is not something that has just occurred in the last few months. The same criticism has been levelled for at least 8 years - that there has been this difficulty and that the Public Service Board has been the stumbling block. If it is impossible for the Parliamentary Counsel and others working in that section to fit within the ordinary Public Service framework then obviously they should be taken out of it. If to adjust the salaries of these people would interfere with the relativities of other persons within the Public Service then it would seem (hat the enactment we already have should be extended to put these persons in some special category.
We should start off with the basic fact that we need counsel and draftsmen in order that the legislative work of the Parliament as well as the subordinate legislative work can be done. That seems to me to be the basis on which this matter should be approached. If the salaries have to be increased, lel them be increased. It seems to me to be an extraordinary position that this country accepts the fact thai Qantas captains can be paid extraordinary salaries - double the pay of professors and outstanding scientists and more than the people that we desperately need to conduct the legislative business of the country. Yet somehow it has been decided that the proper pay cannot he paid to these people.
– I. venture to suggest that it may be one of the problems of an over-use of excessive industrial power.
– Nevertheless it is incongruous that the affairs of the nation can bc conducted in this way.
– What about a strike by the people in the office of the Parliamentary Counsel?
– Senator James McClelland suggests that the AttorneyGeneral has perhaps put his finger on the pulse in intimating that the solution is a strike by the parliamentary draftsmen. I do not think the Attorney-General would want that wished upon him, and I would not say that the suggestion from Senator
James McClelland was a serious one. I am speaking about this matter because 1 regard it as extremely serious, lt has been a continuing problem and it has to be solved. If it cannot be solved by the Public Service Board it ought to be solved in another way. If these problems are arising in this area I think that serious consideration should be given to taking the appointment of these people and their remuneration right outside the sphere of the Public Service Board. The Parliament can do it in some manner. We can set the salaries ourselves, if necessary, for the important staff in this office. Let the appointments be made by the Government or the Attorney-General outside the sphere of the Public Service Board. This may be the only solution to what is otherwise an intractable problem. We expect even stronger steps to be taken to find a solution. If not, some substantive motion may have to be initiated in this chamber to have, the matter corrected.
Are there any requests? There being no requests, I declare the vote passed.
Proposed expenditure, $74,155,000
– Mi Chairman, I sIlk leave to move a motion, the terms of which have been circulated.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted
– I. move:
That the Committee is of the Opinion that, unless the Parliament has expressly provided otherwise, there is no area of expenditure of public funds by Statutory Authorities which can nol be examined by Parliament or its Committees, and in this regard confirms the opinion expressed in the report to the Senate by Estimates Committee H, viz. - ‘The Committee is of the opinion thai whilst it may be argued that these bodies are not accountable through lh« responsible Minister of State lo Parliament for day to day operations. Statutory Corporations, may be called lo account by Parliament itself al any time and that there are no areas nf expenditure of public funds where these corporation* have a discretion to withhold details or explanations from Parliament nr its Committees unless (he Parliament has expressly provided otherwise.’
I moved this motion because, in view of what Estimates Committee B said, it seemed desirable that the viewpoint expressed by it - I understand that the Committee was unanimous and -that it expressed the viewpoint of all parties in this chamber - ought not to be left simply at the Estimates Committee stage but ought to be endorsed by the Committee of the Whole and ultimately adopted by the Senate if the Senate is so minded. This is a matter of extremely great importance but it is a little difficult. The Opposition believes that the proposition put by Estimates Committee B is correct, that when public moneys are being expended by corporations they should be subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament and its committees. After all, those corporations are only agents or instruments of the Commonwealth. They are set up in the form of corporations as a convenient means of conducting business. There is no need for them to be set up as corporations but we find that that is a convenient way to handle matters.
Australia was one of the world’s pioneers in the establishment of statutory corporations. In the last century we had in the States examples of the various corporations which were established to deal with the functions of transport and other spheres of governmental activity. Those people who have written articles on this subject have pointed to the extraordinary role which Australia played in forming corporations. The various States had the opportunity to experiment with different types of corporate control. One on the great questions has been the extent to which corporations should be subject to the control of the government. One finds in the various corporations different kinds of subjection to governmental control. Sometimes corporations might have to act according to the directions of a Minister and sometimes, unless there were intervention by the Government, the corporation was left free. But there has been a whole area of experimentation and sometimes change with regard to the different statutory corporations in relation to the manner and degree to which they were subject to government control. But the central principle has remained that, after all, corporations are only instruments of the Government.
Certainly in the Commonwealth sphere they are agencies or instrumentalities of the Commonwealth. They expend moneys.
They are set up in that form often for the purpose of removing them from interference in their day to day management. -It is a very convenient form in which to carry on certain governmental functions. But it would astonish anyone if a suggestion were to be seriously made that financial operations of the corporations were to be removed from scrutiny by the Parliament or its committees. While recognising the principle that one does not interfere with the day to day managerial operations of the corporations, nevertheless if the Parliament or one of its committees does in any particular respect want to know any detail whatever of the expenditure of the public funds controlled by these corporations there is no discretion to withhold those details or explanations. When I say that anyone would be astonished, I think the whole of the community was astonished when a high officer of one of the Commonwealth corporations announced that it was nobody’s business when half a milion dollars were given away, that it was the corporation’s money and no affair of anyone else. Of course, that is not right. Those moneys are public moneys. We think that the Committee was exactly right in its conclusions. This is not put forward in any way as other than to suggest that the. viewpoint which was taken by the persons appointed to that Committee by all the parties ought to be formally endorsed by the Committee of the Whole and then, we would hope, by the Senate on the adoption of the report.
– I support the motion moved by the Leader of my Party, Senator Murphy. I was vitally interested in this part of consideration of the Estimates. The whole thing came about by my endeavouring to progress some items regarding the televising of certain sporting events. I referred particularly to the fact that English rugby league club matches were not telecast in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Darwin whereas there were weekly telecasts throughout the States of Australia of Australian rules matches and English soccer matches. I myself enjoy viewing telecasts of both of these codes, but that Ls not the point in question. I am not arguing the relative merits or the popularity in a particular State of Australian rules or soccer.
– Bo you like aerial ping pong?
- Senator Gair has assisted me with a description of the game of Australian rules as aerial ping pong. However, the question was whether or not rugby league was getting a fair go from the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– And the north coast of New South Wales.
– And the north coast ot New South Wales, as Senator Mulvihill says. Of course, the rugby league team on this Estimates Committee had a very good front row. We had a good pack. We had Senator Tony Mulvihill, Senator Doug McClelland and Senator Jim McClelland adding their weight to the scrum.
– I was playing five-eighth.
– And ready to take the ball? We started by trying to find out why this set of circumstances is as it is and why there appears to be preference given to the telecasting of soccer matches and Australian rules matches compared with rugby league matches. We rugby league enthusiasts can be pardoned or forgiven for thinking that the viewing audience in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Darwin would be greater than the viewing audience in the remaining States when soccer is being telecast. Possibly the rugby league viewing audience in the States that I have mentioned might be as great as the Australian rules viewing audience in Victoria. I must say quite sincerely that J was not satisfied with the answers given to the Committee. I may be pardoned for drawing the conclusion that there was a certain prejudice existing regarding rugby league held by the witnesses who were present. At the time I was prepared to accept the opinion of the experts from the Australian Broadcasting Commission - they have the expertise in relation to these matters - whose responsibility and whose function it is to draw up the programming. They felt that their programming was arranged according to a count of the viewing audience.
I then pursued the matter further. I asked for some statistical information to be tabled which would convince me that rugby league was not worthy of the rating that I was seeking for it but no attempt was made to table this information. As a matter of fact, a wall was starting to be built that made the Maginot Line look like a picket fence. So I moved from that area of questioning to find out whether there was an arrangement to justify the existing policy. Not being satisfied in that regard I then had to move into another area to try to find out how much money is being spent in the televising of the various sporting events in Australia. Apart from the televising of English rugby league club matches in Australia the point was also raised as to why the Sydney rugby league match of the day is not televised to Queensland. New South Wales, Western Australia and Darwin, because the game is of a high standard and there are calls and clamouring for it to be televised in Great Britain. If I may quote the New South rugby league officials - men of wide experience in the sporting world - the reason why Sydney matches are not televised is that the Australian Broadcasting Commission failed to make a reasonable offer to have them televised.
In the examination of Division 405, subdivision 2, 1 asked whether figures could be tabled showing the amounts spent by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the various sports - tor rugby league, showing the amounts spent on English and Australian content, Australian rules, soccer, showing the amounts spent on English and Australian content, rugby union, horse racing, hockey, roller skating and a whole list of other sports. When the Committee was considering the estimates for the Broadcasting Control Board the question I asked was whether the information regarding the amounts spent on televising these sports could be given to the Committee. At that time the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood), in his reply, drew my attention to the fact that this was not a question for the witnesses from the Broadcasting Control Board to answer. He offered the opinion:
If Senator McAuliffe is interested in what the ABC has spent in these areas, then when we come to the estimates for the AHC I am sure an officer here will be able to look after that question.
Needless to say, when we came to the examination of the estimates for the Australian Broadcasting Commission I asked why these games were not being televised. I asked whether details of the amounts spent on the various sports could be tabled. Here is a very interesting point or observation that was made at the time. I asked the question:
Could the Commission supply the information in which I was interested and in that information, could the Commission support their claim that their programmes are adequate and comprehensive as far as sport is concerned, and yet they contain no rugby league content? Now I would like that question answered.
L proceeded to pursue the question with the officers of the Commission and again asked:
Cun the Commission substantiate their claim that their sporting coverage is adequate and comprehensive when it does not contain any rugby league content?
Senator Greenwood gave the reply:
I think that I and the officers of the Broadcasting Commission with me here have an understanding of the points on which Senator McAuliffe is seeking information, but I must inform the Committee thai the areas which Senator McAuliffe is asking about are areas of business negotiation. The ABC is in competition with commercial television stations in areas where it want* a programme. For this information to be made publicly available is possibly to prejudice the Commission’s negotiating ability when it cornea on a particular occasion to negotiate the rights. 1 will not read out the whole of the contribution by Senator Greenwood. That gives honourable senators an idea of the language that was used. He said that he did not think that the Commission could make this information available because it would put the Australian Broadcasting Commission al a disadvantage with its competitors. I contested that point because J believe that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is al a great disadvantage with its competitors in the televising of sporting events because, as everyone knows, the commercial stations have an advantage over the Australian Broadcasting Commission in thai they can call upon advertisers. Advertisers are the people who pay the high prices for rights and for the nuts and bolts that go with the televising of sport. So when it comes to a consideration of who will be given the television rights for a particular sport, whether it be rugby league or anything else, everyone knows that the commercial stations have a decided advantage over the Australian Broadcasting Commission because they have the opportunity to call upon adverti sers. When the rights are given, competitive tenders are called for the right to broadcast or televise the game.
I felt that the Attorney-General’s answer was a pretty lame excuse and that it was a smoke screen thrown up by him to protect the witnesses from having to table this information. I know that the information I am requiring is not on national shattering events. But a principle is involved, whether it be the televising of a game of sport or the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission that is under consideration. The point is that a member of the Parliament of Australia has asked for the tabling of information on the amounts thai are spent on the televising of various sports. When the Attorney-General replied in the way he did, as reported at page 409 of the Hansard record, 1 realised that the information would not become available to me. At the direction of the Chairman, I supplied a list of the requests that I had made, lt was recorded in Hansard. I gave to the officers of the Commission a list of the questions which I asked and for which answers were required in accordance with my statement, as reported on page 408i which was:
Well, I was wondering if I could obtain this information, it is pretty detailed. What would the Commission have outlayed on the production and televising of the whole exercise of Australian Rules for a year - 1 do not care whether this is the 30th June 1971 or whether it is a calendar year -whatever it is the easiest for them to turn up - Soccer of English origin, and (b) Australian; rugby league - Australian (b) overseas: Rugby Union - Australian (b) overseas; amateur sport, athletics - Australian and overseas swimming - Australian and overseas: hockey.
I continued by asking what amounts had been spent on televising ‘horse racing, trotting, greyhound racing, roller skating and boxing and, if possible, motor car racing’. I asked whether the amounts could be split up showing what was the amount actually spent in each State in the Commonwealth. I supplied the list of requests to the officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They said that the information required was detailed and comprehensive and could not be obtained overnight. I said that I was fully appreciative of the task that they had been set, but asked whether the information could be made available for inclusion in the Hansard record when the estimates of the Commission were being considered, or it could be given to me as soon as possible. I asked whether it could be in my possession at the very latest before the estimates were considered in the Committee of the Whole. 1 was given an assurance that, whilst it might not be as detailed as what was required, some information would be supplied.
J regret that at this point of time I still have not received any of the information 1 have sought. I have not received an answer to any of the questions I have asked. 1 am asking the questions, not in order to shout from the rooftops and throughout the length and breadth of Australia details of the business transactions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am innocently and sincerely pursuing a persuasion I have, namely, that rugby league is not getting a fair go in the way of television from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am sorry to have to admit in this chamber that I am of the opinion that the Commission, as established, favours the noble games, the old school tie games of cricket-
– And Australian rules.
– Put (hat in the same category if you wish. I do not think one is paying the sport due credit when one makes that comparison. It is not good enough for the Attorney-General to say that the viewing audience calls for this or that the viewing demand is for such and such, in the absence of anything to substantiate that statement. So the only avenue left open to me was to pursue the matter on a financial basis. As I said previously, at this point of time all those questions remain unanswered. If this is the pattern or the style of procedure that is to be followed in the Estimates committees or in this Committee of the Whole, and if I, as a senator, sent here from Queensland by the electors of that State, cannot receive answers to questions which I feel will not injure the business approaches of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I feel that I am wasting my lime in the Parliament of Australia. I do not make that observation lightly. I have had business experience spread over 12 years. I know that one guards very jealously certain information which one does not want one’s competitors to know. Often that is not the real reason why one is not prepared to disclose one’s business. I know that in the hotel trade a hotel keeper will not disclose to anyone his profits or the size of his business, but anyone can go to the Licensing Commission and find 0U the licence tee the hotelier pays each year and by simple accounting, without being an Einstein, the person so inquiring can get fairly close to the target figure and the extent of the hotel’s business.
I will not labour the issue before the Committee because other members of Estimates Committee B who played in the investigation of the estimates a part equally as important as the part I played will want to make some contribution to the debate. I feel that the set of circumstances which I outlined in regard to the hotel trade applies to the Commission, lt is a lame duck excuse lo say that the Government is not prepared to make figures available because that will place the Australian Broadcasting Commission at a disadvantage with its competitors. I appeal to the Attorney-General to have regard to the reference that I made in respect of the hotel trade - that a person can get from the Licensing Commission information on the licence fee paid by the hotel. I am in no way making an attack on the personnel of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but 1 do not want to be behind the door and say that I am not making an attack on its policy. I am doing precisely that. I feel that in its programming it has a prejudice against rugby league. I am not referring to rugby league in a parish pump manner. If, in the investigations carried out by Estimates Committee B. 1 had ascertained that some other sport was being treated in a manner similar to the way in which I feel rugby league is being treated, I would have donned the shining armour and have become the champion of that sport also.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I think it is necessary that the Committee of the Whole should spell out definitively the limits, if there are any, of the accountability of statutory corporations to the Parliament. This is necessary because some doubt has been cast on this accountability by none other than the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood).
– Would you quote where that doubt has been cast?
– Yes. J will give the Minister chapter and verse. Arising out of the chain of circumstances referred to by Senator McAuliffe, Senator Greenwood at a meeting of Estimates Committee B. after dealing with some preliminary matters, said, as reported at page 444 of Hansard:
Quite apart from that, I understand that the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned abour the implications of giving publicity to a number of these matters in relation to which inquiry has been made, lt is a matter for determination by him and such consultations as he wants to engage in as to whether this information will be provided. I refer the Committee to an answer which I gave in the Senate this morning and which emphasised the autonomy which the Parliament has given lo the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
On another occasion the Attorney-General said:
I think that when the Parliament conies to the Broadcasting Commission the autonomy which it has il gives it effectively.
Perhaps 1 misunderstood the AttorneyGeneral, but my interpretation of those words, stated on 2 occasions, was that he was asserting that some discretion existed in the Australian Broadcasting Commission to withhold, if it saw fit, information which was sought by the Parliament. Estimates Committee B, in its report to the Senate, has gone on record as asserting unanimously the sovereign right of the Parliament to receive any information which it seeks about the finances of any statutory corporation. I would have thought thai the genera] principle was so well established that it needed no stressing by the Senate. As Senator McAuliffe has said, we do not question for one moment the desirability of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to exercise a wide autonomy in its day to day operations. This matter is constantly being raised in the Parliament in respect of public affairs programmes about which incidentally I sought some information, unsuccessfully, at the hearings of Estimates Committee B. We are constantly raising matters as to the limits, if any. which should be placed on the political comment made on public affairs programmes such as ‘This Day Tonight’.
Speaking for myself, I would like to see these programmes quite untrammelled by any public authority and by any intervention from the Parliament or the PostmasterGeneral. I fully apprehend that when we on this side of the chamber are in office we will not be treated any more tenderly by these public affairs programmes than is the government of the day - nor would we expect to be. I fully apprehend that we would have our ludicrous side, just as the Government has in such abundance. J would expect that we would be pilloried and parodied and treated with the irreverence which is appropriate for people who step into the public spotlight. I enorse fully what Harry Truman said. He said: ‘If you cannot, stand the heat keep out of the kitchen’. It should be quite open for these public affairs programmes to criticise us, within the limits of obscenity, libel, etc. In anything that I say I am not suggesting for one moment that there should be any restriction of the autonomy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in this direction. But to suggest, as the AttorneyGeneral undoubtedly and unquestionably did on the 2 occasions to which I have referred, that somehow or other the Commission is entitled to withhold from the Parliament information about its finances is a fantastic proposition.
Quite apart from the general considerations, which I would have thought were obvious, of the right of the Parliament to superintend the functions of the nation, I submit that the Broadcasting and Television Aci specifically spells out this superintendance by the Postmaster-General who. in turn, is accountable to Parliament. Firstly, section 59 lays down specifically the autonomy in day to day management and in programming, which I have been advocating. That section states:
Subject to this Act, the Commission shall provide, and shall broadcast or televise from transmitting stations made available by the PostmasterGeneral, adequate and comprehensive programmes and shall take in the interest of the community all such measures as, in the opinion of the Commission, are conducive to the full development of suitable broadcasting and television programmes.
In my submission, that is the charter of the ABC’s autonomy in the matter of programming with which, as I have said already, we do not wish to interfere. Section 61 lays down specific limitations on the Commission’s power to spend money without the approval of the Minister. The Commission is limited to spending $100,000 - it has been amended - on the acquisition of property or the disposal of property without the specific permission of the Minister. Section 70 is much more specific. It states:
The Commission shall not expend any moneys otherwise than in accordance with estimates of expenditure approved by the Treasurer.
Section 71b. states:
The Auditor-General shall inspect and audit the accounts and records of financial transactions of the Commission and records relating to assets of, or in the custody of, the Commission, and shall forthwith draw the attention of the Minister to any irregularity disclosed by. the inspection and audit that is, in the opinion of the AuditorGeneral, of sufficient importance to justify his so doing.
The Act contains other provisions which spell out the powers of the AuditorGeneral. As all honourable senators know, the Audi or-General’s report is presented to the Parliament. How can it be seriously maintained by the leading legal officer of the Government, the Attorney-General, that there is any limitation on the right of the Senate or of the Parliament generally to scrutinise the accounts and the financial dealings of this statutory corporation? It is for this reason that I believe it is necessary for this Committee to spell out, in accordance with the motion that has been proposed by Senator Murphy, definitely and for all time in order that there may no longer be any doubt in the minds of the Attorney-General or other Ministers as to the rights of the Senate and that in fact the Senate does have the right to scrutinise the accounts, receipts and financial dealings generally of statutory corporations.
– 1 support the proposition that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). 1 regard this as a matter of vital importance not only to the Australian Parliament but also, more importantly, to the Australian people. First, there is a Broadcasting and Television Act. The responsibilities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are defined in that Act. I refer first to section 78 (1.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act which says:
Iiic Commission shall, as soon as possible, but not later than 6 months, after the expiration of each financial year, prepare a financial statement in accordance with a form approved by the Treasurer, and shall forward it, together with a report on the operations of the Commission during that year, to the Minister, for presentation to both Houses of the Parliament.
There, by Act of this Parliament it is specifically laid down that the ABC within 6 months of the end of a financial year shall prepare a report and shall tender it to the Minister who, in turn, shall tender it to the Parliament.
With respect to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, one must refer to se:tion 28 which provides: (1.) The Board shall, as soon as practicable after the thirtieth day of June in each year, prepare and furnish to the Minister a report on the operations of the Board during the year ended on that date, together with financial statements in respect of that year in such form as the Treasurer approves. (2.) Before furnishing the financial statements to the Minister, the Board shall submit them to the Auditor-General for the Commonwealth for report as to their correctness or otherwise. (3.) The report and financial statements of the Board, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral as to those statements, shall be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after their receipt by the Minister.
So there is a clear provision in the Broadcasting and Television Act that the Commission and the Board shall report to the Parliament on their operations and their financial situation.
Let us go to section 59 of the Act to which my colleague, Senator James McClelland, referred. That section sets out the powers and functions of the Commission. Section 59(1.) states:
Subject to this Act, the Commission shall provide, and shall broadcast or televise from transmitting stations made available by the PostmasterGeneral, adequate and comprehensive programmes and shall take in the interests of the community all such measures as, in the opinion of the Commission, are conducive to the full development of suitable broadcasting and television programmes.
Section 16 of the Act sets out the powers and functions of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It has a number of responsibilities to the Minister. But the matters that are set out in the annual reports of the Commission and the Control Board are not only in connection with the operations of the Commission and the Control Board but also in connection with the financial statements of the Commission and the Control Board, as specifically mentioned in the Act. Therefore, I believe that it is the responsibility of the Commission and the Control Board to answer all questions relating to the financial operations of these statutory organisations and to their Administration.
– Would that relate to programming, too, or does the honourable senator think that that is covered by section 59 and that they would not have to answer those questions?
– No. I think that section 59 is superimposed by section 78(1.) of the Act which I will repeat for the benefit of the Minister. It provides:
The- Commission shall . . . prepare a financial statement in accordance with a form approved by the Treasurer, and shall forward it, together with a report on the operations of the Commission during that year, to the Minister, for presentation to both Houses of the Parliament.
Surely the operations of the Commission take into account not only the financial situation of the Commission but also operations relating to programming, administrative arrangements and so forth.
I regard the responsibilities of the Control Board and the Commission to the Australian people as being of paramount importance. After all, they are the government instrumentalities set up under an Act of this Parliament to control and to do certain things. The Board has been set up to control the commercial mass media of Australia, to ensure that they do not fall into the hands of too few people, to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are presented by the commercial stations to serve the best interests of the Australian people, to make recommendations to the Government on vital matters of national importance such as the introduction of frequency modulation and, undoubtedly, colour television and, also, to make recommendations on any applications for renewal of licences and, in the case of issuing of new licences, recommendations on applications on the issuing of new licences. Likewise the Commission has a responsibility to present adequate and comprehensive programmes. It is required mandatorily to take into account the interests of the community and all of such matters, as, in its opinion, are conducive to the full development of suitable broadcasting and television programmes.
Let us look at one or two of the things that happened during the course of the proceedings of Estimates Committte B regarding the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Senator McAuliffe, who has already spoken in this discussion today, sought certain information. As recorded at page 444 of the Hansard report, the Minister, Senator Greenwood, had this to say:
There are several matters involved.
The Minister said he understood that Senator McAuliffe was aware that, because of the nature of the questions that he had asked, it would not be possible to obtain all the information for him by the afternoon in question. He then went on to say:
The questions which have been supplied - this was arranged after the conclusion of the Committee hearing last Tuesday - are most comprehensive and involve a far-ranging search into details in a host of areas. Quite apart from that-
This is the particular passage that I emphasise: . . I understand that the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is - concerned about the implications of giving publicity to a number of these matters in relation t<> which inquiry has been made, it is a matter for determination by him and such consultations a* he wants to engage in as to whether this information will fee provided.
I ask: Do we scrap the Broadcasting and Television Act or do we say that the . General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Commission and the Chairman of the Control Board are responsible to the Parliament under sections 59 and 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act?
– Everyone knows that the Commission paid $120,000 for the rights to telecast the Olympic Games and $60,000 for the rights to telecast the Australian versus Marylebone Cricket Club series of matches.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDA number of such matters were outlined at the Committee’s hearing. We could discuss programme after programme, but in this instance a general principle is involved; that is whether the General Manager of the ABC or the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, who are appointed to those positions by the Governor-General under an Act passed by this Parliament, can shelter outside of this Parliament and say that because it is a matter of competitive confidence they will therefore not give the information to the Australian Parliament?
– If they will not give it, I will table some of the information myself.
– We will come to matters relating to programmes later on because there are a number of things that I personally could raise. Let us get back to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. One of its responsibilities, as 1 have said, is to ensure that the mass media of this country do not fall into the hands of a few people. I think it will be admitted by the Government that a very dangerous situation is already existing in this regard. One only has to go to Appendix J to the annual report of the Control Board for the last financial year to see 15 pages of multiple shareholding interests, of newspapers and others, in broadcasting and television stations. From the evidence that was adduced before the Committee there is certainly a shortage of staff in the research section of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and it would appear at this stage, prima facie, that the expertise of the staff available to the Control Board efficiently and thoroughly to search out the multiple interests of these commercial stations could well be questioned.
Surely on a mater of this nature which is of vital importance to the Australian people no-one would suggest, and I feel sure that the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board would not suggest, that questions should not be asked or should not be answered, if they are asked, by officers representing the Broadcasting Control Board. Once a precedent of that type is established the General Manager of the Commission or the Chairman of the Control Board could well shelter under such a privileged position and not have to face up to questions asked in this Parliament.
– Neither the Commission nor the General Manager has refused to supply any information. There is no such indication anywhere in the Committee transcript, is there?
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDThat is true, but it is the AttorneyGeneral’s statement that concerns not only the members of the Committee but also other members of the Parliament. The Minister has gone on record as saying:
It is a matter for determination by him -
That is the General Manager of the ABC- and such consultations as he wants to engage in as to whether this information will be provided 1 would like to say a lot about the quality of programmes and the availability of finance to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Frankly, I think it is scandalous that a sum of §500,000 from the sale of a building had to be used by the ABC in order to obtain sufficient funds to expand its programming.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– 1 want briefly to express my surprise at the fact that apparently a number of honourable senators were not aware of what was done when Parliament constituted the Australian Broadcasting Commission as an independent body. What they are complaining about today is a self-inflicted wound. If people are given independence and postwar they will exercise independence and power. That is what has happened with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. We have been told that there is still some parliamentary control of the ABC on the financial side, but I am reminded of the statement by the Postmaster-Genera) (Sir Alan Hulme) on 25th May 1970. Some of us were under the false impression that as the Minister he had some control over the ABC. In his statement he said:
In the estimates of expenditure for 1970-71 the Australian Broadcasting Commission submitted to me proposals for a total net outlay of $52,300,000, a figure that represented an increase of nearly $5m over net expenditure for 1969-70. This would follow increases in the 2 previous years of $4. 5m in 1969-70 and S4.1m in 1968-69.
These figures speak for themselves: They demonstrate a rapidly rising expenditure of public moneys.
Almost completely autonomy in programming is granted to the Commission.
You can say that again:
However, the Government, which determines the licence fees payable by the public, has a responsibility to require that expenditures are not extravagant or wasteful.
But the ABC showed the PostmasterGeneral, representing this Parliament, where they got off. Later he said:
Last Friday I met the Commissioners of the ABC and discussed with them my views upon the estimates submitted. After my discussion I decided not to persist in my original view that the 1970- 71 Budget . . . should be reduced bv $250,000.
In other words, as the representative oi Parliament he was told to mind his own business. He reported the substance of the discussions to Cabinet and Cabinet endorsed the decision to do not what the Government wanted but what the ABC told it that it intended to do. The situation, bluntly, is this.: Parliament, has established a commission and has given to it a large sector of independence; so people are not entitled to complain now if that independence is used in ways of which they do not approve. Why would not the leaders of the ABC in that situation tell the Estimates Commitee to mind its own business? After all most of the top officials of the ABC receive higher salaries than the parliamentarians and in the Public Service seniority depends on salary. They arc adopting the attitude that they are senior to the parliamentarians and are giving thom instructions.
– Is that a query or an accusation?
– Senator Brown would know very well the degree to which bureaucrats will assume authority to themselves if they are given the opportunity. Today we have established in our community a kind of liaison between the so-called intellectual left and certain persons of importance in the ABC, particularly in the programming field. I shall not indulge in wild accusations and accuse them of being engaged in plots or or being wrong about this or that, but I do say that a totally disproportionate number of them move in circles in which only one point of view is acceptable; that is, the leftist liberal point of view. That being so, they cannot imagine that an>’ opinion other than that opinion is worth broadcasting and the” give full scope to the leftist liberal opinion. They will only grudgingly, and only if they are forced to do so, give any scope to an opinion other than that. If any person takes action to try to ensure that, when they have given the leftist liberal point of view full scope, the other opinion is put, with the assistance of their connections in the Press they raise the cry that there is an attempt to interfere with the autonomy of the ABC.
Have we reached the stage that when we say to the ABC that it should give evenhanded justice to 2 points of view - or more, if they exist - we are to be accused of interfering with the impartiality of that body? No body which, as in the case of the ABC, is maintained by public money, which the public is forced to contribute, Ls entitled to say that a small coterie, most of whom have one particular line of opinion on questions of the day, is entitled to decide who shall be given a monopoly, or near monopoly, in what is to be said on the ABC. They have no such right, and if Parliament tolerates that kind of thing it is unworthy of its trust. I do not object to any opinions being broadcast by the ABC; I do not object to any attacks upon my views or the people who are associated with me. AH that I have ever said is that when we are attacked we should have the right to reply; that, when an opinion is put in one direction, people holding an opinion in the other direction also should have the oportunity to speak. But, I regret to say, for some years this opportunity has not been given.
Quite a few years ago I listened one night to an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme to which members of my Party and I, as citizens were compulsorily required to contribute financially. The speaker was Mr Ted Wheelright. who would not be exactly a fan of the Democratic Labor Party. The audience consisted of persons from a branch of the Australian Labor Party and one of them was induced to ask what was obviously a Dorothy Dixer. The question was: ls the existence of a party whose main purpose is denying office to another party a desirable feature of political life?
In effect he was asked: ‘What is you view, Ted?’ Ted said:
This is obviously, without mincing words, Mr Chairman, aimed at the DLP. Not only is this a party which is, in the current jargon, a veto party, but it’s a party which I regard as a incipient fascist party, which is working on fear and ignorance and religious prejudice to confound Australia and to drag it deep into tht depths of greater ignorance as it confronts what’s happening in the rest of the world. And I can think of nothing worse than for this party to gain greater power and greater sway over the people of Australia who don’t think about its future relations with the rest of the world. And to me it’s a very, sorry day that the forces of this satanic darkness have triumphed. . . .
I wrote a courteous letter to the Australian Broadcasting Commission in which I said: I do not object to Mr Wheelwright saying that kind of thing at any time. All 1 ask for now that he has said it is to be given permission to reply to it’. I received a tetter from Mr Darling saying that he would look into the matter. After a couple of months had elapsed I again wrote to him and asked him whether he had been able to look into it. I did not get any reply. Of course, by that time I had lost my seat in the Parliament. I waited 3 years until I had won back my seat and then made a further inquiry: f did get a reply, after 3i years, from the Australian Broadcasting Commission saying that it was very sorry but it had lost the correspondence at the time and the matter had completely slipped from its memory. But that had not happened. What had happened was that one of the left wing liberals who believe in propagating their own points of view but not the points of view of anybody else decided that, as the Australian Broadcasting Commission was an independent body and nol subject to any control by the Parliament. I should be wiped off. That has happened, unfortunately, on quite a number of occasions over the years.
Like other members of the Parliament I get letters from members of the public who are unhappy about certain points of view being propagated while others are not. I used to write regularly to the Chairman of the Australian Broaden sting Commission about this matter, but 1 do not do it so much lately because I have lost heart. However, every now and again. I drop him a note in which I give him chapter and verse. Do I get a reply from the Commission saying that it has examined the question and agrees or disagrees with me? No. The reply I invariably get from the Chairman - I almost think that he does it with a rubber stamp - is: ‘1 have great confidence in the members of the ABC and I am quite sure they would not do anything wrong’. I have great confidence in most of them, but I have been in the world long enough to know that there are people with political views who, if they get the opportunity to do so. will disseminate them.
What is the remedy? Apparently there is no remedy. The Postmaster-General has dissociated himself from the activities of the’ Commission. He said that he has no power. The ABC says: “Mind your own business as you have no power, even with regard to financial issues’. Why should the public have to continue compulsorily to pay money to this body which can reject financial control, which can broadcast any programme it likes and which, if one protests, can tell one to mind one’s own business? Let me express my views about what f regard as the only remedy. There seems to be a kind of strange feeling in the community that’ intellectuals - people who have been to universities or similar institutions - are, as it were, above the common herd; that they possess some inherent impartiality; that they are politically sexless; and that they are just the right kind of people to control an institution such as this. I went to a university. Some people might think that I am an intellectual whilst others would not be so complimentary. But let me say this: In my experience intellectuals can be just as prejudiced as other people; in fact, they can be more prejudiced. I have found that the ordinary plug in the community often has a greater bump of fair play in him than the man who has moved in highly intellectual circles. I feel that the Government is making a mistake in appointing academics to be in charge of an institution such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission. What is needed today is not academics but administrators. 1 think the Government has to have a look at putting administrators into the top ranks of this organisation not to tell the people down below what they are to broadcast - I do not care what they broadcast - but to ensure that people who are attacked are given an opportunity to reply and that a point of view contary to the one expressed can be heard.
I conclude my remarks by saying that I am wasting my time talking here on this subject and so are other honourable senators who talk about it. Why are we wasting our time? Because when on a rare occasion the Postmaster-General had the intestinal fortitude to try and do something about the finances of the ABC he was told to mind his own business. Frankly, that is the situation today. The ABC is controlled by people whose attitude is that they are independent and we have no business questioning what they do. In those circumstances, why waste the time of the Parliament? Let us admit that we have created an organisation over which we have no control and which can do what it likes. Let us face up to the facts. I cannot for the life of me understand why certain members of this Parliament suggest that we should be able to deal with this situation or that situation. I do not see how we can do anything about it.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The motion moved by Senator Murphy is unexceptionable in its statement of principle and will not be opposed by the Government. But to say that the principle which has been laid down is one to which no exception can be taken is not to say that it has very much meaning. It has not the meaning ascribed to it by Opposition senators who have spoken in the debate. In 2 places the principle is qualified by the expression unless the Parliament has expressly provided otherwise’. I think the general points which we have just heard from Senator McManus indicate his view that the Parliament has expressly provided otherwise in a number of significant areas. The words ‘unless the Parliament has expressly provided otherwise’ may have the meaning, on a particular construction of a statute, that the Parliament has by inference or by implication set out in the statute itself the exclusive method of controlling the finances of the authority.
I only wish that this matter had not come into the Senate for debate within the space of just over 24 hours. I wish we could have given more attention to the ramifications of what is involved in the particular points which are said to belong to the motion. The motion of principle that the Parliament should be able to scrutinise and examine for itself areas of expenditure of public funds is a principle of general acceptance. Nevertheless, it is nothing more than the assertion of a right or an entitlement and, less important possibly than the assertion of the right - which Would not have very much challenge within the Parliament - is the question of how such rights :are capable of being exercised. Some of those questions have been raised here and their implications have been stressed.
The first point I wish to make is that an examination of the constitution of the Australian Broadcasting Commission under the Broadcasting and Television Act will show that it has certain features which are transparently clear. One is, of course, that it has been given an autonomy with regard to its operations. As that is the position and as members of the Opposition have asserted over the years that it is a very desirable position for the ABC to be in, it is a little strange to me that they should be now instigating in this chamber the very type of argument which suggests the opposite. If there is any form of control which is more insidious than direct control expressly given to a person, body or government to determine what goes on to a programme it is the insidious control which can be exercised by the use of finance. If there is an attempt by controlling the finances of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to achieve purposes which overtly and expressly cannot be achieved, then I would think that this Parliament would regard that as a departure from the intention which it laid down in the statutes. Yet to me it appears implicit in what is being urged in support of this unexceptional statement of principle.
Senator McAuliffe is concerned, as we all know, about that curious game of rugby league which is played in Queensland. He would like to have it televised on the ABC. I do not know his exact association with the sport but he has had some association. He was concerned to have discussions with officers of the ABC - before he ever became an honourable senator - to find out what he had to do in order to have rugby league televised on the ABC. Therefore it is not to be said that he lacks knowledge and some experience in this area. I believe that his efforts in the direction in which he moved in the Estimates Committee and here in the Senate are to promote rugby league. If I felt as keenly about the sport of Australian rules I might be interested in moving to promote its interests in much the same way. But the point is that if details are to be supplied for his interest or for the interest of anybody else as lo what moneys are paid to these other sporting bodies by the ABC for the opportunity of televising their programmes, one could imagine that there would be an advantage for commercial television interests. The ABC would be required to negotiate completely out in the open. Of course it would always be at a disadvantage. Presumably, it would have to pay more than other persons. In these circumstances one can only suppose that the Opposition has no concern as to whether there ought nol to be some confidentiality simply to protect the expenditure of public funds. I believe that this is the sort of consideration with which a responsible general manager of the ABC would be concerned. From the views which were transmitted through the officers to me as the responsible Minister in the Estimates Committee when these matters were being discussed I believe that the general manager is concerned with nol’’! ing more than that. I would have thought it a curious situation if that concern had not been expressed.
J feet that the controversy which has been generated nol by a refusal of the ABC lo give information concerning what moneys have been paid for the televising of sporting programmes but merely by an indication of caution and a desire to consider the matter reflects a misreading of the whole situation. I feel that it should be recognised that (here has been no refusal on the part of the ABC to give this information. No-one has referred to any part of the hearing before the Estimates Committee where any such suggestion was made. I know that Senator James McClelland referred to a passage which appears at page 444 of the Hansard record of the committee hearing and in which there was an indication that the general manager wanted to consider the position and to have some consultations. I would think that, this situation never having arisen before in connection with Estimates committees and not being information which honourable senators have required, il would be a prudent step to have those consultations. But I think the position is more accurately set out when one considers the summary of the position after consultation with members of the Estimates
Committee. At page 459 of the Hansard record the Chairman is reported to have stated:
Firstly, there was a question asked by Senator McAuliffe, which is set out at page 395 of the Hansard on 23rd November, essentially seeking itemised amounts of what the Australian Broadcasting Commission has spent on television programmes covering Australian Rules, soccer, rugby league, rugby .union, amateur sports, athletics, swimming, racing, trotting, roller skating, and sporting programmes generally As 1 understand the position, Mr Gifford, the information could be obtained. You have taken the point that full disclosure could result in information being made available publicly which would adversely affect the business negotiating position of the ABC. There fore you wish to refer the question to the management before, giving an undertaking that the information will be supplied, ls that the position?
Mr Gifford agreed that that was the position. The Chairman then went on:
Subject only to that proviso, if the information is to be supplied it will be supplied to Senator McAuliffe as soon as possible so that if possible it will be available when the Estimates debate lakes place in the Committee of the Whole of the Senate?
Mr Gifford replied:
Thai is the case. We will make it available promptly.
I then intervened and said:
The information shall be endeavoured to bs supplied, as you have asked Mr Gifford directly, but it shall come from the Minister to this Committee. There is always the question of what is regarded as a ministerial area of responsibility.
At a later stage Senator James McClelland sought to ‘epitomise the position. He said:
My question is whether the Minister would claim that under the Broadcasting and Television Act there is any discretion vested in the Australian Broadcasting Commission to withhold from the Parliament any details of any of the expenditure of the Commission.
The Chairman said:
That is the question to which you seek to receive an answer to be delivered in due course, or an explanation as to why it is nol being answered? .
Perceptibly, Senator James McClelland said yes. I replied: l would want notice of that question before 1 answered it. lt is a fundamental question.
Indeed it is, because it involves an examination of the language of the Broadcasting and Television Act, the obligations of the Commission and, to some extent, the rights and powers of the Senate and the powers of -the Estimates committees which have been constituted. But there is one area about which little has been said in this debate, particularly in the context of the motion, and that is the position of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) in relation to the ABC. Parliament indicated when it established the Australian Broadcasting Commission that it was giving to the Commission complete power to determine the programmes of the ABC. That power is clearly set out in section 59 of the Act. It gives to the Postmaster-General certain powers which he could exercise and for which he would undoubtedly be responsible to the Parliament. He could direct certain programmes to be shown and generally he had to report to the Parliament within 7 days of giving any such direction. It was a neat system. The finances of the ABC were to be obtained by the ABC submitting estimates of expenditure to the Treasury. After Treasury had approved of them the ABC had to spend that money in accordance with the estimates. Amendments passed by Parliament this year indicated that the power of supervision was given to the AuditorGeneral. The Auditor-General had very wide and far-reaching powers as to how and where he could investigate. It may be that if one examines this matter what Parliament has done is to provide that that shall be the method and the only method by which the finances shall be scrutinised. That may be what is involved in the language of the motion - ‘unless the Parliament otherwise expressly provides’.
But the position of the PostmasterGeneral is somewhat different. He is a Federal Executive Councillor in charge of a Department of State. From that position there flows - as there must flow - an administrative responsibility to the Parliament in relation to that Department of State and the Acts which he administers. I think there is no question but that the Minister is always entitled to information on any aspect of the Commission’s affairs. He is certainly responsible to Parliament. That may be an effective way by which the Parliament exercises its control. This is just one aspect of the problem which comes out of an examination of these proposals. I mention this only because there is value in this debate. I regret that there was not more notice of this matter so that more time could have been given to a very important issue.
-. The motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) raises very important considerations in relation to. these new emanations in the community, the public corporations. These have caused some concern, because they are a development which brings a very great deal of elasticity. The Community allows them a large measure of public ownership yet preserves the aspect of commercial competition. Nevertheless the development does raise concern as to what extent the corporation should be accountable in the parliamentary sense and to what extent the Parliament should exercise a scrutiny over its operations. I remember some years ago asking a question in this chamber about a particular transaction by the Commonwealth Bank, as it then was, and I was told that the day to day operations of the bank were not subject to parliamenatary question or scrutiny as they involved a banker-client relationship. To that extent therefore there was virtually an exculpation of the bank from any criticism in regard to the transaction I mentioned. Certainly there was no investigation.
Probably the leading authority on the public corporation and the question of parliamentary accountability is Lord Morrison, the former Mr Herbert Morrison, a Minister in Labour governments in England headed by Atlee and other Labour leaders. I think he is* now Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and he is still alive. He is not only a practising and pragmatic parliamentarian; be also is a parliamentary intellectual and a parliamentary theoretician who gave a great deal of bis time to studying this question.
– Senator McManus would not like him.
– Senator McManus, being an intellectual, would find himself very much ad idem in following the line of reasoning adopted by Lord Morrison. As a parliamentary intellectual and theoretician Lord Morrison wrote books on the subject. I will take this opportunity to cite a few excerpts from his work ‘Government and Parliament’, the first edition of which was in 1959 or 1960 and dealt with the position of the public corporation and its accountability. These excerpts might give an idea of the alternatives proposed as a solution to this very difficult and very delicate question of finding a reconciliation between the independence of operation of a public corporation and the right of Parliament to scrutinise its activities. Lord Morrison makes one or two suggestions. I will truncate his propositions and read excerpts which generally might give his line of thought. He said: lt is clear from what I have written that I would not wish a Board of a public corporation to become either officially or unofficially the creature of the Minister and the Department concerned with it. . . . Where a Minister has prima facie grounds for believing that .something is wrong, either in the service to the public or, maybe, in the number of supervisory administrative and technical staff, then, provided he docs it in the right spirit, 1 think he has the right and the duty to require the relevant information lo be produced, lo examine the Board about the facts, and to ask for satisfaction on the matters which are giving him concern … a Minister ought not to drift into a position whereby he becomes an automatic apologist for the Boards in Parliament, and there is certainly no obligation upon him lo defend things which be is not convinced ate right, lt would not be right for Departments to reg:ird the public corporations as so distant and autonomous as not to act as I have suggested, or thai there should be a bias towards leaving the Boards isolated to the greatest practicable extent. The Boards must be allowed time to settle down bill the period should nol be excessive. . . . There is one danger which must clearly he avoided: the danger of a large-scale duplication in the Ministries of the supervisory, technical and administrative staffs of the public corporations.
Lord Morrison then suggests this:
What the ‘parent” Ministry needs is a quite small, brainy, constructive branch which studies the. work of the Boards, examines their statistics, takes note of parliamentary, press, and public criticisms, and so on … it is for the Minister and the Chairmen to see that good relations are maintained, for everybody should be intent on furthering the public interest. The branch should bring problems In the notice of the Minister from time to lime together with the observations of the Board and their own comments, lt would not be for the branch to assume that they could give the full and authentic answers; nor should they attempt to ‘boss1 the Boards: their big job would be to help the Minister to put the relevant questions intelligently. . . .
Parliament and the public wish to be satisfied that these industries-
He was speaking of the nationalised industries which are nationalised in the format of public corporations - are efficiently and economically managed. To some extent a judgment can be given on the basis of the Annual Reports and Accounts but these are not conclusive. It is not within the duties of the chartered accountants who audit the accounts to comment upon the efficiency and economy of the management: their business is to verify the accuracy of the accounts and to draw attention to any inaccuracies or imperfections in methods of account keeping and presentation.
It was very necessary that the Boards, no less than the government, should realise that Parliament and the public could reasonably ask to be satisfied that everything possible was being dona to ensure the general efficiency of these great economic undertakings.
Then Lord Morrison put forward this proposition:
I had another idea which we also put forward for consideration, namely, that the Boards themselves collectively might create an industrial efficiency unit of r heir own. which would he available to any of the Boards for the investigation of headaches’. Each Board, of course, has within iti organisation some means of investigating results or difficulties which give it concern.
He went on to say that that proposition was one which unfortunately was not accepted. He then dealt with the question of the on-going necessity of select parliamentary committees to have the nationalised industries, the public corporations, constantly under their survey. He said:
The object of the Committee should be that of informing Parliament about the aims, activities and problems of the Corporations and nol of controlling their work.
He all the time finds this dichotomy, as we do, between the character of these bodies as independent functioning corporations, very often in commercial competition, and the right and responsibility and duty of Parliament to have some care and consideration for their activities and to scrutinise their general programme, their general concept and general activities. Finally. Lord Morrison came to these conclusions:
In any case the extreme advocate of parliamentary accountability really must face up to the essential issues involved. If he warns the Minister to be answerable in Parliament for every detail, if he desires the public corporations to be run as if they were departmental^ managed undertakings, if he wishes Select Committees of Parliament to exercise functions of investigation and crossexamination of witnesses as if the concerns were run by, a Ministry, then he must logically advocate that the socialised undertakings should be managed by a Government Department and not by a public corporation. What he is not entitled to do is to say: ‘Well, let the business be vested in and managed by a public corporation, and let us hold the members of the Board responsible for efficient management, but let the public corporation be treated as if it were a Government Department.’ This is not a fair proposition. It would not be fair to the eminent men who undertake the responsibility of management as members of the Board, nor would it be fair to the Minister, who in these circumstances could not reasonably be expected to answer for every detail of management. The fact has to be faced that if we decide for the public corporation then certain limitations on parliamentary accountability must inevitably follow. If we establish the public corporalion, it must be for certain reasons. What are they,? They are that we seek to combine the principle of public ownership, of a broad but not loo detailed public accountability, of a consciousness on the part of the undertaking that it is working for the nation and not for sectional interests, with the liveliness, initiative, and a considerable degree of freedom of a quick-moving and progressive business enterprise. Either that is the case for the public corporation, or there is no case at all. It is perfectly legitimate (indeed, it is the great art of public administration) to seek the best of both worlds, but what is not fair when one has made a deliberate departure from part of one world is to expect that all the characteristics of that world will survive. Therefore, the decision should be made after foreseeing and accepting the consequences; and one of the consequences of plumping for the public corporation is that the carefully chosen members of the Board should have the right of independent action in the field of daytoday management, for which they should feel a sense of social responsibility, but for which they cannot in detail well be held responsible to Parliament. We are imposing upon these men, even thrusting down their throats, as I said in Socialisation and Transport, responsibility for commercial success or otherwise. It is desirable that we should do so, for otherwise there is no point in constituting these Boards.
If they are to have a sense of responsibility, if they are to be saddled with the responsibility, then we must give them a reasonable and frankly recognised sphere of managerial freedom. Otherwise we should run a crave risk of irresponsibility - nobody being responsible for anything. Those who want detailed parliamentary accountability must plump for Slate departmental management; those who favour a publicly owned industry being vested in a public corporation must be prepared to face the consequences, namely, some limitation on detailed parliamentary accountability.
The work goes on in other sections. That extract highlights this very great dichotomy between the independent character of the public corporation and the right of Parliament to scrutinise such an organisation created by parliamentary statute, originally funded by the Parliament from the public account and whose policies must be and continue to be of concern to the Parliament and to the parliamentary representatives. There is a great deal to be said at this developing stage of the public corporation in Australia for some investigation as to the area of parliamentary scrutiny that should be applied to such corporations. There is some merit in some sort of investigation into this matter, not unduly to circumscribe the activities of corporations, not to penetrate their day-to-day decisions, not to sit in some departmental, autocratic manner looking over their shoulder and peering at their every movement but, nevertheless, in the broad sense to see that they are operating in terms of their charter from the point of view of policy, that they are operating as public corporations in an impartial and objective sense; and that in no sense have they been penetrated unduly in the area in which the discussion is taking place by bias or a lack of objectivity in presentation or in administration. These things may be easily said. How one lays down the norms, how one defines the parameters for such a type of operation can be discovered perhaps only by a suitable type of investigation.
– Surely it must have been in the language of the statute which set them up.
– 1 do not understate or underrate the difficulties of this explicit definition, and I would agree with he Attorney-General in that. Nevertheless, as it is impossible to lay down with great explicitness the perimeters of action against which no trespass can take place, to that extent it may be left ultimately for Parliament to scrutinise whether, in a proper interpretation of the charter as presented, there has been a manifest and objective departure. I submit that Parliament is the only body that could be entrusted with this power. I think Parliament should be entrusted with that power, otherwise we would have a public corporation that was subject to no censures, subject to no restrictions, subject to no circumscription. Who else but Parliament or a committee of the Parliament could possibly bring back to its original charter, in even the most liberal interpretation, the functioning of a corporation that pragmatically had departed from it over a period of years.
We know that in life whatever may be our original intention there is always a diffusion of effort and a diffusion of purpose as day follows day, until ultimately the original purpose is lost sight of, the original intent becomes obscured and the original design becomes completely lost sight of. Only Parliament, looking at this thing objectively and perhaps looking afresh at the charter which is handed down to some such corporation, can bring ft back to its initial purpose and bring it back to the original line. I think that Parliament should be scrupulous in trying nol necessarily to divest itself of power, because it probably already has that power, but to bring that power into operation and to indicate to this proliferation of public corporations - quite a number have been created in this country in more recent years in addition to those that have been operating for some years - that Parliament will, have the on-going scrutiny of their operations, of their purpose and of their practice. For that reason I think the motion has a great deal to commend it, and we support it.
– We are ail indebted to the Estimates Committee for the views which it expressed. The motion was not directed towards the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In the same way as the Committee made its recommendation it was intended to apply generally to all statutory corporations. It is consistent with the recent decisions of the Senate that the salaries and allowances of the senior officers of statutory corporations should be fixed by Parliament and that their other allowances should be fixed by regulations which are subject to the supervision and disallowance of either House of the Parliament. This is part of the general movement towards establishing the supremacy of Parliament over all the opera’. ions of the administration, lt seems that there is no disagreement in this chamber with the motion, which is really for the endorsement of the unanimous view of the Committee. May 1 suggest, with respect, that if no other honourable senator wants to speak on the matter this motion might be disposed of and then the remainder of these estimates would be left open for discussion, if anyone wanted to raise a matter.
– I am pleased to learn from the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that the motion proposed by the Opposition will not be opposed by the Government. But during the course of his remarks the Attorney-General said that one thing that is transparently clear is that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been given autonomy in regard lo ils operations. I would agree, as members of the Opposition agree, that it is entitled to autonomy in its operations. We have always said that. We have always supported that principle. Nonetheless we have always said and still say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission as well as the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and other instrumentalities - I refer more particularly to those 2 - are still answerable to Parliament; the Commission being answerable under section 78 in regard to the financial situation and operations, and the Control Board being answerable in regard to the financial situation and operations under section 28.
– You use the word answerable’. All it has to do is to put in a statement and give a report.
Senator DOUGLAS M vC L K LL AN D -
Exactly, and once the report on its financial position and operations is given it has to be presented by the Minister to his Parliament. Once it conies into the arena of Parliament. Parliament can examine, debate and. investigate its financial situation and its operations.” lt is mandatory for these corporations to do so under the Act. Any document tabled in this Parliament is capable of being examined by Parliament. Frankly. I do not think there is much difference between what the Opposition has said and what the Attorney-General has said. Despite what the Minister read from Hansard about the Committee having to adjourn and discuss in camera certain matters with officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the fact is that before that discussion took place the Committee felt that it was being hamstrung in certain respects. My colleague Senator James McClelland and 1 have referred already to the Attorney-General’s statement before the Committee which is reported at page 444 of the Hansard report. The Minister said: lt is a matter for determination bv him-
That is, the General Manager of the Commission - and such consultations as he wauls to engage in as lo whether this information will be provided.
Later I asked for a breakdown of the amount expected to be spent this financial year on Australian productions in the categories of current affairs, news, Australian drama, Australian professional variety and Australian family viewing programmes, and how much it was estimated would bc spent on the purchase from abroad of programmes for both radio and television within the same categories. Then the Attorney-General said:
I am informed that estimates of this character can be prepared but that it would take some little time lo prepare them.
I take it that they can be prepared and made available to the Committee.
The Attorney-General said:
Here, again, I think there is a degree of uncertainly in my advisers. They would think so, but 1 sense in their reluctance to express a definite answer that again this is a question for the management of the Commission. 1 would only say th.k I think a difficulty under which the people with me are labouring is that these areas are possibly a little beyond what they might have been expecting and, in that sense, it is hard for them to say yes or no, althought I am quite sure that they are endeavouring to be as helpful as possible.
Quite frankly, 1 think that having regard to the circumstances existing at that time the officers were endeavouring to be as helpful as they could bc. The fact is that the instrumentalities have not sought protection from Parliament or an ultraprivilege, if one might put it that way. I think that probably the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission realise the responsibilities of these instrumentalities to the Parliament and, frankly, I do not think they would want any protection at all. 1 think that if they are good officers, and I believe they are, they would want to come here with clean hands and open consciences and lay all their cards on the table. I do not think they would seek to shelter under the Minister’s coat tails, as might appear from the transcript of the Committee hearing. I think they would like to come to the Parliament and admit that they need more staff and to explain to the public that they are not receiving sufficient funds to enable them to carry out, in the fullest way, their real responsibilities. I think that, in the case of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, its officers would like to come here and explain to the Parliament and the public that $4m of the Commission’s revenue is being paid to the
Post Office for the use of landlines. I think that, in the case of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, its officers, too, would want to come here to explain the public protective clauses of the Act, if one might use such an expression, in regard to the restrictions on the ownership of commercial mass media and to explain that the University of Minnesota in the United Slates of America, after making a survey, has said that Australia is the second tightest country in the world so far as the ugly hand of monopoly over media is concerned.
I have read . carefully the reports to the Parliament of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They are detailed, frank and excellent reports. I congratulate the instrumentalities on their detailed presentation. But I think, having regard to those reports, that the Minister, in adopting the attitude he adopted during the Committee’s hearing, was rather more setting out to shelter the Government from public criticism which rightly would have been heaped upon it if all the facts could have been brought out in this type of Estimates committee discussion.
There is one other point in relation to this aspect to which I particularly want to refer. It relates to the Minister’s statements I have already read at pages 444 and 454 of the Hansard record. I suggest to the Government and to these instrumentalities that next time these instrumentalities face the scrutiny of the Senate Estimates committees the General Manager of the Commission and the Chairman of the Control Board come here and speak on behalf of those instrumentalities to the Senate Estimates committee. I am sure that such a suggestion, if carried out, would make for a much better understanding in the Parliament of the responsibilities of these instrumentalities to the Australian people. When the estimates for the Commonwealth Department of Health were before the relevant Committee, the permanent head of that Department, Sir William Refshauge, came here with his advisory officers. I think that undoubtedly and unquestionably because of his presence here a much better understanding was created in the Parliament of the problems of the Commonwealth Department of Health. I hope that that aspect - the desirability of the General Manager of the Commission and the Chairman of the Control Board coming here next year - will be taken into consideration in regard to the future Estimates committee consideration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– As the Chairman of Senate Estimates Committee B whose report has been mentioned during this debate, I wish to make several points in generally indicating that I, too, support the motion. One of the points about which there would appear to be some confusion is the suggestion that the Committee accused the Australian Broadcasting Commission of refusing to supply information. I make it quite clear that the Committee’s report did not make that accusation. What it said was:
There appeared to the Committee to be a lack of understanding by officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission of the accountability to Parliament of statutory corporations.
The Committee’s report then goes on to express its view. There is no suggestion that there was ever a refusal, as such, to supply information. But, as has been apparent from the passages which have been read from the Hansard report of the Commitee’s proceedings today, there was a certain amount of discussion on this question. As yet, the attitude of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on whether in the final analysis it will supply the information requested is not known.
A further point on which I wish to comment is the suggestion that the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood, had adopted an attitude which was perhaps different from the attitude expressed today by honourable senators who have spoken and. perhaps, even different from the attitude which he expressed today. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the Hansard transcript of the proceedings at page 389, where Senator Greenwood is reported as saying:
I too, appreciate the point you make, but I think that fundamental to an appreciation of its significance must be the recognition that, as distinct from other departments, the area of the Postmaster-General’s Department with regard to the Broadcasting Control Board, and as we will come to it, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, is that these bodies are significantly independent of the ministerial control. In short, there is a lump sum given to the Broadcasting Control Board because in so many areas, and indeed over the vast range of what it does, it is completely independent by Act of Parliament from any control by the Minister or by the Parliament while it is carrying out its functions.
Senator Byrne said:
Not behind a parliamentary screen.
Senator Greenwood continued: 1 accept full well if the Parliament has not abandoned what ought to be one of its roles, it will exercise a scrutiny, and it should exercise that scrutiny of course by the language with which it vests authority in independent bodies. And if, in times past, the Parliament has vested authority in independent bodies in such a way that it cannot scrutinise them, then it is a matter I think of concern to the current Parliament.
I do not regard that as a statement which says what some honourable senators speaking today have indicated the AttorneyGeneral said during the proceedings of the Commit ee. I think it should be added to the other questions of what he said to see the full context of the way the matter was approached both by the Attorney-General and by the Commi’tee in its consideration of these estimates. Having drawn attention to those matters, 1 support in general terms the other references which have been made by honourable senators in speaking to this motion.
– I refer to some matters which have been mentioned since I spoke previously. I appreciate the reference which Senator Byrne made to the work by Lord Morrison on statutory corporations. I sense that possibly his remarks were couched more widely than he would couch them upon reflection, because he indicated that the Parliament should not abandon its power of scrutiny. The issue before the Committee is not so much the rights of the Parliament to scrutinise the affairs of independent corporations but rather the rights of the Senate - one House of the Parliament - to examine the affairs of independent corporations. It is unquestionable that the Parliament, by Act, can probe as far, as deep and as much as it wishes simply because the Parliament decides to do so. But the question raised is how far one House of the Parliament, in the exercise of such rights as one House possesses, might go in its examination of the affairs of independent corporations.
I express no firm view in this regard. The matter has to be treated with some care because if the Parliament, by an Act, has established a corporation and has delineated the powers and functions of that corporation, I would think the Parliament would respect the rights of persons to act under that charter given by the Parliament. If. for example, the commissioners - or the General Manager - of the Australian Broadcasting Commission believe that they are acting in accordance with the law, in accordance with an Act of Parliament, they may question whether there are any express or implied powers for one House of the Parliament to interfere with that which the law has accorded them. I do not want to take that argument too far. but if certainly has an area which should make one chamber of the Parliament cautious before it asserts too widely, using too broad a brush, the power to investigate and to scrutinise the operations or the finances of an independent corporation. Much the same point might be made in respect of the analogy which Senator Murphy drew because the Senate in requiring the Parliament to fix the salaries ami other remunerations of officers expressly appointed by the Parliament did so by virtue of its power as one of the 2 Houses of Parliament. The function which is being sought to be exercised through the Estimates committees is one which, for the better examining of the Estimates of expenditure, the Senate exercises through a system of committees. 1 refer in some substance to the arguments advanced by Senator Douglas McClelland. 1 query whether he was being consistent. As I understood his remarks, he suggested that I was endeavouring to avoid having questions answered by officers, with a view to sheltering the Government. I think there is a degree of inconsistency between what he said and the motion because, as 1 understand the language of the motion, it states that independent corporations should nol be able to rely on their independence to exonerate themselves from answering to the Parliament. If that is the viewpoint thai: is being adopted and if thai is the criticism that is being levelled. I do not think the honourable senator can have it the other way and sug gest that it is because of a desire to protect the Government that the questions were not answered.
I refer very briefly at this stage to some of the matters of substance raised in the general debate on the Estimates. Senator McAuliffe did ask, during the investigation by Estimates Committee B, whether he could be provided with any statistics or other information which supported the assessment made by the ABC in selecting sporting programmes. I think he also asked for details of finances. I can assure him that the matter has been taken up with the General Manager of the ABC and that the matter is currently receiving his consideration in conjunction. I believe, with the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme). I am not able to provide th<; honourable senator with either the information or any indication about it at present
The ABC, in its coverage of sporting events on radio and television, endeavours to embrace both major and minor sports, where the rights to broadcast and televise are available, with the funds available for the purchase of sporting programmes and rights. The ABC establishes priorities according to its knowledge of Australian sporting interests, based upon various factors including attendance figures, registered number of players, etc., preserving a balance and applying certain principles of programme importance - for example, that live coverage is rated of higher importance than recorded coverage and that international events in which Australia lakes part rate higher than local or club events. Rights were not available to the ABC to broadcast or televise the English rugby league matches, which were the concern of Senator McAuliffe. The ABC’s estimated cost of broadcasting and television rights for all types of sport for 1971-72 is $413,030. In some Stales the ABC and commercial stations have negotiated joint rights of coverage of sporting events for fees which are shared on agreed terms. If payments made to each sporting body are revealed publicly each sporting body will become aware of the fees negotiated by the ABC with all other sporting bodies, .ft stands to reason that such a revelation could weaken the ABC’s bargaining position in future negotiations. The fees, which the Commission has negotiated in a way in which it believes makes the best use of the money available, could rise.
This was the one consideration which was raised in the Committee. There was some uncertainty on the part of the officers of the ABC who were present as to whether this was material which they could undertake to provide to the Senate committee. lt was obvious that, as a matter of caution, they would have regard to their position in the ABC before they could give such an unqualified undertaking to a body - to put it neatly - with which officers of the ABC do not trifle. Unlike the Joint Committee on Public Accounts, the Senate Estimates committees have yet to evolve a procedure whereby there can be some distinction between information which is to be kept confidential and other information.
It should be recognised that the way in which the ABC is constituted is such that the Commission itself has the complete plenary and managerial power in respect of the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It may be a matter which should concern the Senate that that is the way in which the ABC is administered. The General Manager of the ABC has no powers except those delegated to him by the Commission. l-he Commission is essentially a part time body, yet it is in control of what is now a $58m a year enterprise. Accordingly, if the Senate were desirous of obtaining information from the persons capable of giving it, one would suppose that the Chairman of the Commission rather than the General Manager would be the person to whom the Senate would be looking to obtain information.
The Government will not oppose the motion, for the reasons that I have indicated already. The Government accepts, whatever the Parliament has determined in the Act establishing the Broadcasting Commission, the general obligation that the Parliament has a right to find out what is happening in the affairs of any corporation. I think that is a wise precaution. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is essentially independent, by virtue of the language of the statute by which the Parliament has appointed it. Other statutory corporations established by the Parliament have an autonomy and an independence which is found in the language of the statutes appointing them. The language differs from statute to statute, as does the autonomy and the independence of each corporation. In those circumstances it is very difficult to express rules of general application. The important point is that, when Parliament makes these decisions, it decides the extent to which a corporation is to be subject to parliamentary control or otherwise. As Senator McManus so clearly indicated, in the case of the ABC there was an independence given with regard to programming. That is the way that the Parliament decided it was to happen. While we can all have our opinions as to whether or not the ABC discharges its responsibilities in the way that we think best, we must recognise also that we all have the power to criticise and maybe that was the intention that Parliament had originally.
– I wish to say this: The law of Parliament is properly to be regarded as part of the common law of this country. Part of that common law is that the Parliament or either House of the Parliament is vested with the power to investigate, to scrutinise and to require explanations and details of expenditure of any public moneys, including the public moneys which are expended by any statutory corporation. One of the principles which are to bc applied to the interpretation of any Act of this Parliament is this principle: Not except by the clearest and unmistakable words is Parliament to be taken to have abrogated any of the fundamental principles of the common law. It is improbable in the highest degree that any Act of this Parliament would be taken to have intended to remove the expenditure of public moneys by a statutory corporation from the scrutiny of either House of the Parliament or of the Committee of either House of the Parliament unless that was stated in the most express and unmistakable words in the statute. I thank the Committee for the expression which is given to this motion which, after all, seeks only the endorsement by the Committee of the Whole of the unanimous view of the Estimates Committee, which represented the general viewpoint of the members of this chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Are there any requests? There being no requests, I declare the vote passed.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $66,286,000.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I move:
In submitting this motion to the Senate, I look back over 22 years of immigration policy. The term that the Press has coined to describe this policy is ‘bipartisan’. Considering what has happened in the era from Arthur Calwell to Dr Forbes, honourable senators will concede the dedication of the officers of the Department of Immigration. Notwithstanding past debates on immigration matters, even with my most inquisitive mind I could not cavil at the detailed answers That T have received.
Let me explain what I am advocating this afternoon. Present immigration policy has existed for a long period. A time must come when old methods are not necessarily the best to define a new policy. The United Slates of America and Canada have quite a fair intake of migrants. I use their experience to justify the creation of the committee advocated by the Opposition. I refer first to the 1969 edition of the ‘Senate Manual’ of the United States, which states that a Joint Congressional Committee on Immigration and Nationality Policy has been established to investigate the problems of aliens and nationality. Having made that point, I turn to another document which is produced by the Office of the Minister of Manpower and Immigration in Canada. It is dated 1 2th September 1967 and is a complete review of Canadian immigration policy. 1 know that the officers of the Department of Immigration maintain a close liaison with this office in Canada with regard to policy matters. The significance is that on page 2 of what is a lengthy statement the Minister, Mr Marchand, refers to the ‘Parliamentary Committee studying the White Paper on Immigration’.
Fortified by these facts from 2 major immigrant intake countries, I make the point that ample precedent exists for the action I propose. I might say in passing that I know that the United States had some inbuilt immigration problems between 1924 and the Second World War that Australia did not exactly experience. I know that spokesmen for the Department of Immigration will talk about the series of advisory committees that filter various ideas, and also about the Australian Citizenship Convention. I am endeavouring to develop the point that on the one hand changes are occurring in Europe and on the other hand the tremendous effect of automation is being felt. These affect Australia. Britain’s entry into the Common Market will affect our rural sector and automation presents an industrial problem. We know only too well that the problem of the guest worker in Europe is a different kettle of fish from the problem that Australia has inherited with its annualpermanent migrant intake.
Let me say clearly, speaking for Senator Murphy in this Committee and Mr Whitlam in another place, immigration is a matter of people and not statistics. To put it another way - and 1 know that my colleague. Senator Bishop, will agree with me - the job ratio must be geared to the migrant intake on an annual basis. The moment that we get away from that standard difficulties arise. With the multiplicity of problems that we face we are somewhat apprehensive about the effect of technological changes and changes in our rural countryside. We wonder about the effects of any adjustment that we may make to our migrant intake. I am suggesting that we should probe the question whether or not the present system necessarily will give us the detailed answers that we seek.
To substantiate that comment, I refer to a lengthy statement, dated 20th September 1971, by the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). What I might call a pregnant paragraph shows the depth of the Department’s thinking. The Minister said:
I would like to add that, during the past 2 years, a senior officer of my Department has been undertaking a programme of establishing liaison with national group organisations. It is estimated that some 900 national groups exist throughout Australia.
The statement points out that all of these people have been supplied with a 12-page questionnaire containing 104 questions. Answers to these questions will need to be evaluated.
I feel that even when that evaluation has been carried out by officers of the Department of Immigration, sufficient scrutiny will not have been given to the matter. I do not question the work of Estimates Committee B or the way in which we have handled certain matters. Following this evaluation, we will be faced with a sort of fait accompli; the damage will be done. On the one hand, nobody will deny that no other job performed by the manual work force in any part of Australia, even north Australia, is of the magnitude in terms of manpower of the Snowy Mountains scheme. The question is not one of men using jackhammers; it concerns the use of massive earth moving machinery which reduces the size of the work force required for the task. On the other hand, we must face the problems that are arising in Sydney and Melbourne today. To some people demarcation disputes are a battle between 2 rival union empires, but they are nothing of the sort. The question is bound up between a vast work force of manual workers and job opportunities. I know that people talk very glibly about retraining but if you talk to a man over 35 years of age about retraining he will say: If there is somebody available 10 years younger than I the employer will accept him.’
The Government believes in the employer’s right of selection - the right to hire and fire. I am trying to paint the picture of the areas in which a committee could probe. Let us take it a little further. I have here the second report of the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications. My leader Senator Murphy some time ago hammered this subject very effectively. I relate it to the present migration to Australia of migrants from Latin America. I do not think that our immigration programme has been geared to anticipate problems. I draw the attention of the Minister to the problems being experienced with some Chilean migrants and migrants from one or 2 other Latin American countries. They are not big problems but they are indicative of the weaknesses of our immigration filtering system and of the advisory committees.
A joint parliamentary committee could probe in depth and could examine people from the Department of Labour and
National Service and the Department of’ Health. In that regard I could refer to some problems being experienced in the Turkish migrant sector. All these problems must be faced. I cannot see in the chamber an honourable senator who has not served on a committee, and many of us have had experience in dealing with subjects with State rights overtones. A committee such as I have suggested could call before it representatives of the States and examine them, without bashing them in any verbal sense. I do not think there is any need to enumerate the various committees 1 have in mind. The point I am getting at is that the Department of Immigration and its Ministers have always had the problem of balancing relations between trade unions and employer groups and the State governments.
I am not playing party politics. 1 have in mind, also, uniform child welfare adoption. Policy on these matters is not always effectively interpreted at child welfare centres and migrant hostels. We cannot always successfully grapple with these problems. If my colleague Senator Cavanagh were in the chamber he would support me when I say that he and I have attended most of the Australian citizenship conventions. At those meetings the State Ministers who have immigration within their responsibility parade in a sort of semi-camera attitude. They never run the gauntlet of being questioned by delegates to the conventions. I am not saying that the committee I have suggested would parade them and vigorously interrogate them on issues, but their representatives could be interviewed in order to provide a much clearer picture of how they face up to their responsibilities.
Sometimes the Minister has to make a statement on claims of ill treatment by migrants. Often private migrant recruitment is involved, for example, by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, or even by State governments when British migrants are involved. I have noticed that Senator Negus and his colleague Senator Townley have asked probing questions, apparently motivated by doubts. Speaking for myself, it is not a question of stopping the immigration programme. What is needed is a revision of priorities. Most importantly, if there is an economic contraction, that step must be taken. Senator Bishop is aware of the problems of maritime unions in respect of the containerisation of cargoes. There may be problems .involving pockets of Maltese migrants or of some other groups. Those people who are caught in the squeeze play make a justifiable complaint and the matter goes to the relevant ambassador. He complains about it. The arl of politics is being able to steer away from dangerous situations. 1 say respectfully lo Senator Greenwood, who is representing the Minister for Immigration, that there is nothing to be lost in this regard. 1 would hope that some of the other independent parties would provide representatives on a committee such- as that I have suggested. A lot of difficult situations could be cushioned. The United States of America experienced tremendous difficulties in rationalising the quota system in po.%t-war limes as against pre-war .times. Ii was a different problem. We will no! necessarily have that problem but there are many vast difficulties approaching.
One of the difficulties I have in mind is thai in the Sydney metropolitan area there rs a big percentage of Italian migrants, for example, in the electorate of Evans and part of the electorate of Grayndler. When the previous Prime Minister referred to child minding centres those people were very enthusiastic about the idea, f do udt wish dow to canvass the attitude of the new Prime Minister. I simply say that migrant mothers with children constitute a basic issue. When a migrant husband dies, problems of social service eligiblity may arise. I am painting a very broad picture to the Minister. I commend the officers of the Department of Immigration for bringing to my attention a lengthy analysis or rebuttal of the report on education by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence. Such reports are very deep and a joint committee could have a good hard look at them when considering education problems and could come up with some clear cut answers.
The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) in another place asked questions about the non-naturalised sector of migrants. I suggest to Senator Greenwood that it is evident that there is a certain inbuilt feeling, which he does not share, about the provisions of the Crimes Act. It is their awareness that migrants could be deported because they were not born In Australia in the event of certain industrial trouble. The Minister is aware that the Dutch community is very sensitive about this issue. Another sore point is the transferability of social service benefits. 1 cannot say off the cuff how much it would cost to introduce that transferability, but the committee 1 am sponsering could.
I respectfully suggest that the headings I have set out in the time at my disposal warrant a vast inquiry in depth to provide questions and answers. The Minister is aware that in directing questions on the estimates of the Department, if I got too close to the bone he would say that it was a matter of policy. The Minister might well ask how far the Government should go under our system in accepting responsibility. The position here is nol quite the same as it is in the United State or Canada. The whole purpose of my proposal is to avoid unnecessary friction. I do not think any honourable senator would deny that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community has raised difficulties in our country areas. They are not necessarily the fault of the Government. Technical changes in industry also raise difficulties.
The Government exhorts trade unionists to be good boys and to accept transfers to another employment. About 9 years ago, before T. entered the Senate, there was a minor recession. As a shop steward I had troubles dealing with employers on the principle of last on first to go. Some British migrants had to be laid off while some non-British migrants were not, the rightful policy of last on first to go applying. Tt is not an easy situation in those circumstances and I would nol like to see it happen again. I am sure that Senator Bishop appreciates that point, lt is a serious enough issue to warrant canvassing the views of a lol of senators. I point out that there is a precedent in other countries for setting up a committee as 1 have suggested. It does not mean that the Government abdicates its responsibility. It is simply that some of the problems I have touched on are so deep that they are beyond Estimates committees or advisory committees. They require exploring by a full-blooded inquiry into all aspects. 1 am sure thai the officers of the Department work by a humanitarian code and a joint committee working by the same principles would offer considerable assistance to them.
– I am irrevocably opposed to the proposal to set up a joint select committee. I am opposed on principle to joint select committees. If the Senate wishes to have an investigation it should be done by the Senate and not by a committee jointly formed with the other House. I hold this view for a number of reasons.
– Would you like to move an amendment to the motion?
– No, 1 do not wish to amend it. One of my reasons for being opposed to joint committees is that the rules and functions of the 2 Houses are different. We do not want to become involved in joint committees. I do not think many of them have been satisfactory. The Senate, through its secretariat, has been able to handle the committees we have now without becoming involved with another place. A further reason for my opposition to the proposal is that senators, certainly on this side of the chamber and I’ believe also on the other side of the chamber, are not available for long inquiries. Most of us are already heavily involved in Senate committees now. The system will only stand as long as inquiries are conducted properly, thoroughly and promptly. I cannot see how senators would be available to sit on more committees. I agree that immigration is an important subject on which today there are wide differences of opinion.
I congratulate Senator Mulvihill not only on his great interest in and knowledge of immigration but also on the way in which he presented his case. Whatever the merits of his argument may be, T find that I must oppose the establishment of a joint committee and that 1 cannot support, as my friend Senator Georges suggested 1 might, the reference of this subject to a Senate committee. This is not because I do not consider that the subject is worthy of an inquiry but because - I put it quite frankly - 1 think that already every standing committee has a number of important references which will keep it busy for the next 9 or 12 months. If we start overload ing committees with references, we will bring about a breakdown of the committee system that we are setting up.
The United States of America, which has a long-standing committee system, found 3 or 4 years ago that this happened. In fact in that country a joint commif.ee of Congress was appointed to investigate the Congress committee system because of this type of problem. It was a very interesting investigation. One point which emerged and which became one of its recommendations was the danger of overloading a committee with references at any one time, in which event committees were not able to do the job properly or members of committees were simply not able to handle the work. It was found also that if committees became overloaded with references^ - in this case it would be either senators or members of the House of Representatives - members were not able to perform their committee work properly; they were going from one committee to another and not hearing all the evidence but only part of it, as a result of which there was a breakdown of the system.
It is mainly on these grounds that at the moment on principle I could not support the appointment of a joint committee because, as much as for any other reason, I feel that the Senate will stand or fall on the success of the committee system, without becoming involved in committees with the other place where members are not nearly so interested in or experienced with committees as we are here. But I feel also that 1 could not support the reference of the matter to a Senate committee because I do not believe that any standing committee today could handle a reference of this magnitude and do the job as it would have to be done. I believe that much research is being done now through the Department of Immigration and the Government sponsoring research in:o immigration, which is a matter into which, of necessity, much research has to be done. Therefore, despite many of the arguments that have been raised and although I do not disagree with the general argument presented by Senator Mulvihill, I am afraid that I must question very seriously the practicability of what is proposed.
Senator GEORGES (Queensland)! (3.48) - 1 should like to follow on from what Senator Sim just said and advise the Senate, and the honourable senator in particular, that it should be the importance of an inquiry which determines the appointment of a committee, rather than the ability of the Senate to carry out the work, although this is an aspect that one mast consider. 1 am of the same view as the honourable senator in that I would prefer a Senate committee to a joint committee. He mentioned that the House of Representatives is not so interested as we are in committee work and perhaps is not in the same position as we are to establish committees. So by adopting a motion such as this we could force the other place, as we term it from time to time, to join with us in an investigation of such importance. I do not intend to cover the same ground as the honourable senator covered. I am of migrant parents and I am closer to the problems of migrants - especially migrants who are of non-British origin - than most honourable senators would be, but I shall not go into that aspect of it.
I suggest to the Senate, and particularly to Senator Sim, that we should look at the size of our Senate select committees and consider whether we should reduce their membership from 8 to perhaps 6 so that there would be more senators to go round. I do not doubt that a committee of 6 or even 5 senators could operate just as effectively because it would have the power and authority to carry out an investigation and would provide a forum to which people could come to present their ideas and make submissions. I think really that we should consider the importance of the investigation since we are now facing the necessity to alter our immigration programme. In altering our immigration programme we should be careful that we do not bring into operation any decision which has not been properly researched or thought through.
Since Opposition senators from time to time have questioned the exercise of discretion by the Department of Immigration in the operation of its policy, and especially in relation to decisions which affect people who are prohibited immigrants, I should like to take this opportunity to allow the Senate, as a welcome change, to hear me congratulating the Department instead of snipping at it. 1 should like to thank the Department for a most humane exercise of discretion in a case last week involving a Mr Pat Anthony, a Fijian who has been in direct conflict with the Department and who is a prohibited immigrant. His father died in Fiji and he was in the difficult position of wanting to attend his father’s funeral but knowing that if he left the country he would have difficulty in obtaining a re-entry visa. I would accept that in the circumstances of that case the Department would have been justified in saying to him: “You have defied the Department for quite some time. You are. of course, permitted to leave the country, but wc are nol prepared to grant you a reentry visa’. On my representation the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) and his officers exercised their discretion to allow Mr Anthony to leave the country for 5 days and lo return and rejoin his family. I think that should be on record.
– I propose to confine my remarks to the motion which has been moved by leave by the Opposition and to indicate that we in the Australian Democratic Labor Party will not support at this time the establishment of a joint committee of both Houses or a committee of the Senate. I think the reasons would be obvious. The major parties are complaining that the Senate committee system is reaching the stage when it is overloading with work the representatives of the major parties which have so many more members with which to man committees. But the situation is becoming even more oppressive for smaller groups which, as organised political parties, should be represented.
– Why do you not get more members?
– We are. We adopted that suggestion long before the honourable senator made it and we are rapidly getting them, at the expense of his Party.
– No, the Country Party. You took one seat from the Country Party.
– Give us a little more time and we will manage to take more, and do not be surprised when we do. Even if the honourable senator does not know the history of the Senate perfectly, he will know that at times his Party and even the parties represented in the present Government have been represented in this chamber by only one senator. That was under a different electoral system from the one we have today. So do not let us get on to that aspect of it. We were getting along well in a quite friendly way.
I suggest that we conduct this discussion on immigration as Australians talking about the things that are of interest to Australia, not as members of a particular political party. I ask honourable senators to recognise that in a democracy a minority voice, as we hapen to be at this moment in the Senate, has placed upon it under the Senate committee system a much heavier burden than that which is imposed on the major parties. We must have a Leader, and even our Leader serves on committees, which is not the practice of the major parties. We cannot afford to do otherwise. Committee work places a tremendous burden on the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The quantity of mail which members of my Party receive is almost as large as that which the Prime Minister receives. The reason is everybody who has a problem believes that remedial legislation cannot go through the Commonwealth Parliament if the Democratic Labor Party does not agree with it.
– That is a shocking commentary to make about the official Opposition in this country.
– I do not think it is. It is a part of the democratic process in this country that minority parties have their say. Any true democrat will acknowledge that. But our efforts are to no avail if we do not have the support of one of the major parties. That is democracy at work. There is nothing wrong with that. It is only when a Party, whether it happens to be a majority or minority party, always insists that its views be accepted that the concept of a dictatorship intrudes. But that is not the case with my Party. Senator Georges knows as well as anybody else that we have often in division sat alone on one side of the chamber. Are our views carried when the 2 major parties are against us? Of course they are not. They are rejected, as they rightly should be in a democracy. But I am getting away altogether from the subject of immigration.
The Democratic Labor Party L very conscious of the burden of work which is being placed on its members by the committee system of the Senate. The type of inquiry proposed would take at least a couple of years. Many much more urgent matters with which a Senate committee could be involved would have to be put aside because of the inroads that an inquiry of this magnitude would make into the time available to honourable senators. Senator Georges said that if the size of committees were reduced that would enable them to operate more efficiently. It is all very well to put forward such a proposition. It would obviate the necessity for 2 or 3 Labor senators to serve on a committee but it would not make any difference to the representation of the Democratic Labor Party. We would still have to find one man to do the job. I do not think that such an inquiry would contribute as much to a solution of its problem as research by the Department of Immigration. After all, immigration is a matter which must be inevitably reflected in Government policy, irrespective of what we as Australians and members of the Parliament think and what advice we give to the Government.
I doubt whether we should allow to creep into this discussion any suggestion that the economic problems of Australia today can be corrected in any worthwhile manner at all by interfering with the growth of this nation. It should be remembered that without immigration there would be no growth at all in Australia today. The birth rate is not high enough for this nation to grow at all without immigration. I think it is a mistake to think that any of the economic pressure* of all problems which exist today can be solved completely by restricting immigration. To do so is not to realise the magnitude of the economic problems which we have to face. We should not be cowardly and run away from the opportunity to grow and to develop simply because of the pressures and responsibilities inherent in so doing. A few weeks ago some of the members of the Opposition were lauding the statements of an alleged learned professor who had been brought to Australia from the United States of America to tell us we must join the zero population growth movement; that we should not be filth sinners and have more than 2 children to * family. If that philosophy were to be followed the problem T am illustrating that Australia has would become even more urgent and we would need to increase our migration intake just to retain the status quo in terms of our population. Many of us wrongly thought in the 1930s that Australians were losing their jobs because too many people from the United Kingdom were taking them from us. Anybody who does not realise the fallacy of that philosophy has not thought about it at all. That was not the reason why Australians lost their jobs then. Those people who think that the unemployment problem in this country today can be solved by stopping immigration should turn back the clock to what happened in the 1930s. Any businessman or trade union official who is worth his salt knows what would happen if the immigration programme were stopped entirely overnight. They know what a policy of completely stultifying the growth of this country would lead to.
I have a lot of respect for the Department of Immigration I have a lot to do with it. Lots of people come to me with immigration problems. Some of those problems are very difficult. Many of the people who approach me with these problems are from countries from which it is difficult to obtain entry. Some have come here as students or tourists and want to stay in this country. I can understand the tremendous difficulty there would be in trying to run an immigration programme if too much looseness were permitted. 1 have found the Department to be reasonable in most of its decisions. I agree in the main with its philosophical approach to immigration. But I am disturbed about a couple of decisions it has made in the last month or two since the decision to cut back the rate of migration intake was taken. I will not argue about the decision of the Government to cut back the migration intake as I can do that at another time and in another place. But I do wish to raise the question of the refusal of assisted migrant passages from England to 2 individuals for what I consider to be the worst reasons possible. Cases of this nature did not seem to occur before the decision to cut back the immigration programme was taken.
I do not propose to mention names because I do not have the permission of the persons concerned. However, I. will be happy to give them to the Minister afterwards. I have already referred these matters by way of letter for the attention of the Minister. But I am a little disturbed about the delay by the Government in taking action in a particular case. In late October 1 asked the Department to make a very speedy review of a case but I have heard no further word about it from theDepartment. This case related to a woman who migrated here with her 2 daughters after a broken marriage and who left a son at a very good school in England. She is reasonably well to do. The father no longer takes any interest in her or the children. The mother had a nervous breakdown, which 1 do not think would be unusual in view of the pressures on her as the result of having a broken marriage and of having to re-establish herself and her daughters in a new country. Her son in England was supposed to join her in Australia immediately he finished his schooling. She was under treatment for some time for her nervous disorder. She is now back at home and looking after her youngest daughter. The oldest daughter is now living away from her mother. 1 am not sure whether she married and. moved away or whether she wanted to look after herself. The son’s schooling has now finished. He is now 17 years of age. Application was made for his assisted passage to Australia. That application was rejected because the mother had had a nervous breakdown. 1 can think of nothing more certain to cause her to have another nervous breakdown that the rejection of her application for an assisted passage for her only son. Because of financial circumstances it would be impossible for him to join her in any other way. I should have thought that there would have been no doubt about this application for an assisted passage being accepted. At least there should have been a very speedy review. of the case.
Another decision which the Department made is more incomprehensible. It involves a very elderly woman who has been settled
In Australia for a considerable period of time and who loves the country. This woman got married in India when she was much younger. I think that her husband happened to be of Portuguese extraction. They went back to England and their family was reared in England. Today she is a grandmother. One of the grand daughters has come to Australia under the assisted passage scheme and joined her. Now her 3 sons have decided that the whole family should come to Australia and settle in this new world with all its new opportunities. They have families of their own. We have rejected the application from the 3 sons because they were born in India, and for no other reason at all. There is no racial ground involved, because she is English and her husband was Portuguese. The application from the 3 sons was rejected because they were born in India, although they have lived ali their lives in England and they have responsible positions there. They have had offers of employment in Australia from the firms for which they work in England. We have rejected that family - the whole lot of them. 1 think that the grounds of rejection are patently not what, in my experience, has been the normal approach of our Department of Immigration. I am still awaiting an answer to a plea that the case should bc subject to a review to see why the accident of their birth in India and their parentage should in any way inhibit their right now that they are middle aged, to bring their families here under the same circumstances as any other British citizen.
Those problems are personal and small. They ure not of the magnitude of the problems envisaged by Senator Mulvihill when he moved his motion. 1 -accept this opportunity to prod the Minister and the Department. Here are a couple of glaring cases which have not been handled perhaps efficiently in the interests of the human beings involved. They are vitally interested in whether they can come to this country. I air the problems at this time.
I notice that in speaking to the motion Senator Mulvihill mentioned the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority and projects such as that. He, like 1, well appreciates that without a migration policy we would never have built the Snowy Mountains project. I recognise the industrial problems which flow in these matters. I recognise that there can be a joint committee of both houses of the Federal Parliament and of all State parliaments which can confer for 10 years. But if there is a migration programme there will still be industrial and other problems which flow from that programme particularly where there are huge bands of workers employed on a project such as that controlled by the Snowy Mountains Authority. Everything will never be as we would like it with a migration programme.
– Order! The honour^ able senator’s time has expired.
– 1 wonder when the Government proposed the expenditure for the Department of Immigration whether it really looked into the matter seriously or whether it looked at last year’s figures, increased them a little, and put them down for this year. I wish ali honourable senators to understand that I am not against migration in any way. I agree with migration at the right time and in the right place. At this moment I feel that Australia’s migration policy is too big for Australia to handle. We should reduce it accordingly. Migration produces a number of situations which strain the resources of this country. I consider that charity begins at home. I think that we should look after our own before we add to our burden financially by bringing in loo many migrants. In 1970-71 it cost in the vicinity of S70m to bring migrants to Australia. When they arrived here we had to expend money on over 300 teachers to teach them. I read in the Press and hear that in my State of Western Australia particularly we are terribly short of teachers. We do not have enough for our own people. Yet 3.10 teachers are being applied to the job of teaching migrants, many of .whom cannot speak English when they get here. I have been on migrant ships, f have seen for myself that some migrants are very interested in trying to learn English from a book on the ship on the way out from i heir own country. They can probably say good day and goodbye when they get here. Otherwise they cannot speak English. They could not speak Australian if they tried because it is different to English, lt cost, this country money to bring migrants out here but last year 28,200 of them went back to their own country. On my figures - and they could be wrong - this cost us $17m. Every year that migrants leave this country to go back to their own it costs us $17m. On top of that situation there are the migrants who come out here, start a successful business, spend 12 to 14 years here and then leave Australia and go back to their own country loaded with Australian money.
– How did the honourable senator compute the amount of $17m? On what basis did he arrive at that figure?
– According to the figures which I received from the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library each migrant costs us $454.94 to land in Australia. I multiplied that amount by 28,200 migrants.
– Has the honourable senator ever worked out how much income tax they would pay over the years after they arrived here?
– No, I have not done that. Also, I have not worked out how much they take from us in social service benefits if they cannot obtain a job. It must be remembered that not every migrant has a job. 1 have houses in Western Australia. I have had migrants in these houses who were promised a job in Australia when they left their own country. They have come to me because I happened to be the landlord and said: ‘Get me a job. I was promised one by the Australian Government.’ If the Australian Government had told these people that there is work for them and when they get here they cannot obtain work then we are doing the wrong thing by the migrants and by this country. Yesterday the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) said that the Government is cutting down the migration programme by 30 per cent. I feel that that policy is back to front. The Government should have allowed the migrant programme to be only 30 per cent of what it was last year. It should have cut the programme by 70 per cent.
I think an honourable senator said in this chamber this morning that university students cannot obtain part time work to help them through their studies and that children who have come out of the secondary schools cannot obtain work. I ask: Why is this? It is because we have too many people trying to obtain work. Perhaps I agree with the Government that it might be necessary to ‘ have a certain amount of unemployment. But how much can we carry?
– The Government has not said that.
– I know the Government has not said that, but If have a feeling that that is what it is implying. When the migrants arrive here they have to have homes. In Western Australia 2i to 3 years ago people were squealing for more homes because there were not sufficient to accommodate the population. All the builders who could build and all the builders who could not build went mad. They started estate agencies and other businesses. People built and built homes and flats until now’ Western Australia is full of vacant fiats and homes.
– Bring out some more migrants.
– If we bring out more migrants so that they can fill the homes we will have to pay them social services. I feel that perhaps the Government has allocated this money to migration from the previous year’s figures without looking carefully to see whether it should cut the programme by more than 30 per cent, the figure to which it has agreed. At this stage I do not believe that we can afford S70m. Of this amount we are going to lose S17m every year because of those who go back to their homes. I would prefer to see that $17m spent on Australian citizens - those who really need it.
– I take it that the honourable senator supports the motion?
– I did .not say that I support the motion because I agree with some of the previous speakers that perhaps committees can become a little overburdened with work. At this stage we do not have sufficient members of the Senate to man all the committees we need. The Government and its Ministers should be quite capable of looking at immigration in the correct light and of producing the right result for the Australian people.
I am an ordinary Australian and I do not profess to be an expert on immigration but I feel this is like buying tyres for a motor car before you have a car. Firstly, we have to look after our own people. Perhaps we should adopt an immigration policy somewhat similar to that which the United States has had for some years. I tried to migrate to America and I was sent all kinds of forms to complete. I had to find someone in America who would ensure that I would not become a burden on the United States for the first 12 or 18 months. If we want migrants - and 1 agree that perhaps we want some at this time - we should insist on having those who will come to Australia at their own expense and not be a burden on the Australian people. I think that too many migrants are becoming a burden on Australia and it is wrong for the Australian people to have to carry them. Perhaps I could go further and say that some of the migrants who have come here are working their way into positions in the unions and are causing trouble in Australia, but T do not want to go into that subject.
– Senator Mulvihill should listen to and watch television, as 1 do. What I am trying to impact is that the Government should look very carefully at its migration policy and decide whether Australia should spend this much money on immigration at this stage. From the point of view of Western Australia I do not think we can afford to have any more coming there to go on social services
– Senator Little said that he was going to confine himself to the motion. I am glad he did that otherwise he might have taken longer to make his contribution to the debate. The motion we are discussing asks the Senate to convey to the House of Representatives-
– The subject is immigration. This is an Estimates debate in which honourable senators can roam over everything.
– I am repeating what Senator Little said. He said he would confine himself to the motion. That is all I am saying. The motion calls for setting up a joint select committee. I was encouraged by the fact that Senator Little said that he would not support this idea now. That conveyed to me that he might look at the suggestion in a different way at another time. In other words he did not reject the concept, as T understood him, of at least having an all Party committee to look at the problems that have arisen in the immigration field and to try to map out something for the future.
Senator Sim said that he opposed the motion on principle. I cannot quite see how a question of principle is involved. Both he and Senator Little argued against the proposition but not on any question of principle. Indeed, Senator Little did not use the word ‘principle’. He objected because of the pragmatic problems of staffing such a committee at the present time. I find that one of the most sensitive words one can use in this chamber at the moment is the word ‘committee’. The moment one uses it everybody rises to speak. We had a debate on committees last night dealing with the whole question of the committee system. That, of course, is different from what we have put forward regarding a joint committee to deal with immigration.
– When you find yourself eating sandwiches for lunch when doing committee work it is a bit rough.
– Yes. 1 agree. The honourable senator heard me say similar things last night. I think I was one of the first to raise this question of overloading the Senate with work. That is why the Opposition has moved away from the idea of a Senate committee. We want to try to bring in more troops from the House of Representatives to ease the burden on the Senate, but apparently that idea is not acceptable either. Senator Sim said that he could not remember any good joint committees, or very few good ones. I remember the Constitutional Review Committee. I thought the report it presented, having regard to the times - it is all right to look at it and criticise it some 15 years later - was a magnificent piece of work. 1 think there are good joint House committees extant today, such as the Joint Statutory Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, in spite of the decision it made yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee, the Public Works
Committee, the Australian Capital Territory Committee, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the New and Permanent Parliament House Committee. 1 think Senator Sim is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. 1 do not think that the Senate has been impeded or inhibited in any way or that it has put out any less valuable work because of the fact that honourable senators joined with members of the House of Representatives in forming committees. To me there is a prima facie case always for joint House committees, lt seems to me to be intellectual arrogance for us to say that one-third of the Parliament can operate much more efficiently than the entire Parliament. That is what we are doing every time we set up a Senate committee. We are excluding two-thirds of the members of the Parliament and, prima facie, two-thirds of the ability of the Parliament represented by members in another place. This Parliament consists of 2 bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate. I think the Senate starts off with a handicap by excluding two-thirds of the personnel available when it decides to enter a certain atea of work. What private company and what Government department would start off on that basis?
What the Opposition has put forward on this occasion will not throw extra work on the Senate but to a degree will relieve the Senate of what it is doing. Obviously in any consideration of the question of immigration we want the widest experience we can get. It is quite stupid, I suggest, to say that the only people who have knowledge of immigration problems are members of the Senate, not members of the House of Representatives. I think members of the House of Representatives would get much more immigration work in their electorates. It is a high faluting idea to suggest that the only people who can handle committees are members of the Senate. I think we denigrate- the Senate if we argue that the work done in the electorates is different, that a member of the House of Representatives is confined to a particular area but a senator is not. If we adopt that argument we lay ourselves open to the charge that we do not do as much electoral work as members of the House of Rep resentatives and therefore we have more time and do not work as hard. We would get ourselves into a nice debating situation if we argued along those lines. But so much for the committees. As I said, it is very easy to get into debate on committees these days; all you have to do is to mention the word ‘committee’ and away we go with honourable senators talking about principles and all sorts of things.
Why is it that on this occasion the Aus-, tralian Labor Party has suggested setting up a joint committee to look at the whole question of immigration? If we read the entire history of immigration we will get involved in all sorts of phrases over the last 100 years, but if we look at its recent history - I do not want to belabour this point because it is self-evident - the situation which attracts migrants to Australia today is vastly different from .the days immediately after World War 2. At that time a large number of very able people were cooped up in displaced persons camps and Australia was fortunate to be one of the first in the field. The life and knowledge of Australia has been enriched by what was done in those days, and I think it continues to be enriched by what we are doing these days. There has been a great change in Europe with the. running down of displaced persons camps and the effect of the European Economic Community. These things have brought pressure to bear on us which will cause changes in our own immediate future. The Government itself has recognised this.
We have heard Senator Little say that our immingration programme should be increased. We heard Senator Negus amend his statement somewhat. Firstly he said that no migrants should be allowed and then he said that the programme should be reduced by 70 per cent. So we have this wide divergence of opinion. It is not confined to Senator Little and Senator Negus. These same propositions have been put to me over the last few weeks. Quite a few contributions on immigration have been given to me. The Government itself has reduced the immigration intake. In July the Government set up 3 committees to examine the immigration set-up. One proposal was put up by Professor Borrie of the Australian National University. The Minister for Immigration of the day, Mr-
Phillip Lynch, said that it would examine the important population and demographic studies financed by the Department of Immigration. A completely separate committee was set up: Associate Professor J. Wilson of the University of Sydney had begun work on cost benefit analysis of immigration under current Australian conditions. I think probably that we should send to the Associate Professor a copy of the debate where we were all interjecting to” Senator Sim when he was talking about this question of cost benefit. In relation to the third one, the Minister said that the research staff of the Department would soon begin - this was July 1970 - a trial survey as a prelude to its massive study of the experiences of migrants during their early years in Australia. J remember when this was announced. T applauded it very heartily. 1 thought that these studies were probably overdue, having regard to history and the time that had elapsed. The Minister also went on’ to say that reports from these 3 committees ‘ would flow progressively from these studies. 1 asked yesterday a question on (his matter of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) but he did not know the answer. The former Minister did not say that the reports would be made public. I, perhaps wrongly, thought at the time that they would be made public. 1 was looking forward to a progressive study of the problems. These reports should be made public because they would be fascinating studies and because of the tremendous interest in immigration not only in this chamber but by just about everybody. The committees could have fossilised studies as well as studies brought up to date month by month, quarter by quarter or whenever the people handling them cared to submit their reports. 1 suggest to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration that he should bend over backwards to do this because the contribution of such studies to learning about immigration would be absolutely immense. 1 did not expect the committees to come back with reports in a few months. In fact, I anticipated that one would take some years. However, we are disappointed with the. slowness of the studies. Because of the fast moving pres sures on immigration we suggest today that all of these matters could be examined by the Parliament. The fact that the Minister appointed the committees in July 1970 provides the bases for such an examination. In other words, we would not be starting off .with a committee from scratch. We already have the studies of these people who have been thinking about these matters and who already have their minds formed to some degree as to what ought to’ be done. There has been a wide divergence of- opinion in this debate today and in the last couple of days. Some people say thar the immigration should be doubled. If. the number is doubled, why not quadruple it, because every argument used for doubling the number could itself be doubled to quadruple the number. Some people say that we should not have any immigration at all, while other people say that the number should be cut down.
Very clearly the lime is opportune for a study such as this, as the Government has acknowledged. All we are asking is that we add to the committees that the Government has set up under its own initiative, and that immigration be brought into the” public gaze and the preview of a committee of this Parliament. We are asking that the membership involve all the Parliament. If the Government’s objection is that only one section of the Parliament should be involved, let it move an amendment to that effect so that we may have a look at that situation. I am heartened by the fact that in the debate today nobody has argued that studies on immigration ought not to be made. Honourable senators have been looking at what they think are the pragmatic problems connected with such studies, and I believe that pragmatic problems could exist. For the reasous that I have given. I contend that it would assist the Senate if the volume of work could be enlarged and spread over 3 times as many people as are doing it at the moment. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has indicated that it will not support the motion. I regret that. It has been gracious enough to say at this point of time that it is opposing the motion. But surely this is one of those things that any government ought to welcome, lt is one of those things that cannot impinge on government and it is in an area where there has been less controversy and less polarisation between the political parties than there has been in relation to any of the other government departments. I commend the motion to the Senate.
– I propose to address myself mainly to the substance of the motion, but before I do so I might make some reference to some of the things, said by other speakers. The cases to which Senator Little referred, of course, cannot be identified without reference by him of greater particularity than he gave. As he expressed his satisfaction with the co-operation which he has always received from the Department, I suggest that if he wants that further information he might care to supply the details. Senator Negus suggested that the need for cutback in migration was greater than it has been. As I indicated to him in answer to a question yesterday, the fact that the migration intake for the ensuing year is to be reduced by 30,000 on the basis of what it was last year is but part of the general, constant review which the Government is giving to our ability to maintain a migrant intake. In the context in which Australia finds itself, the announcement was made in late October, I think it was, that there would be a deferment of some 3,000 workers who were scheduled to arrive in Australia, which would Operate in the months of January and February of next year, and that the deferment was in areas where there conceivably might not be’ the same need for workers as there was some short time ago.
The main purpose of my rising at this point is to refer to the motion. Senator Willesee provides an instance where the Leader of his Party felt there was merit in having a senator speak on immigration matters rather than a member of the House of Representatives. Senator Willesee suggested that there was merit in spreading the area of inquiry into these immigration matters by having a joint select committee. I can only regret that the traditional bipartisanship which has characterised the approach to immigration of this country is not surviving as well as it did in the past. I would hope, as far as the Government is concerned, that it will always accept the responsibility for determining what immigration intake Australia .can afford.
I cannot see - I do not think anyone has advanced any arguments to help me - where there is advantage in having a joint inquiry or just a Senate inquiry into this area of the financing and other aspects of the migration programme. Unquestionably the persons who participated in the programme would become better informed and individually their assessments would be the better because of it. But in terms of assisting the Australian migration programme, I must say I find difficulty in seeing where either a Senate or a joint committee would provide assistance. Maybe I say that because I am aware of the far ranging inquiries which are already taking place under the auspices of the Department of Immigration. Whether or not that be so, the first requirement before any committee is set up is to be able to show what is the benefit to be derived from it. In this area of the migration programme it is very difficult to see what benefit would flow to anybody who has tomake any decisions in the matter from such an inquiry.
The Government in the national interests has adopted over a period of years the broadest possible approach in formulating immigration policies and giving effect to those policies through annual immigration programmes. I ‘ cannot emphasise sufficiently that the immigration programme has been, as an honourable senator said earlier, a bipartisan approach in previous years. Without that I do not think Australia could have taken the number of migrants which it has. All I hope is that this bipartisan approach will be able to continue in the future. Yet one wonders sometimes whether that will be the case. In recent times the Government has developed extremely comprehensive consultative’ machinery on all aspects of immigration. It has established the Immigration Planning’ Council which deals primarily with economic matters. There is also the Immigration Advisory Council which deals with administrative and social matters. Senator Davidson has been chairman of that body for a number of years. I mention also the Immigration Publicity Council which is concerned with publicity and information activities in Australia and overseas.Recently, there was a widening of the’ functions of the Immigration Planning
Council so that it would include urbanisation and environmental considerations. Authorities in these fields were appointed to the Council. These bodies are more than simply councils. They are councils with very large memberships. The memberships are drawn from many areas of society and regular meeting are held at which there is an opportunity for the bringing together of opinions. Comprehensive reports are supplied periodically to the Department of Immigration, lt is a programme which has been successful and it is continuing because there is recognised to be merit in what is being done.
In addition, the Government has sponsored research into aspects of immigration which dates back more than a decade. Attention has been given to a tremendous number of facets of the whole immigration programme. In 1970, 3 new initiatives were taken which bear directly on the areas about which people have been talking. The first area is an inquiry which is being conducted into the desirable future population levels for Australia. The objective of these studies is to establish, in addition to total population levels, the desirable structure and distribution of the future Australian population. This work is being carried out by the Australian National University and is financed by the Department of Immigration. The second area of inquiry which is under way is the costbenefit analysis of immigration under current Australian conditions. This is facilitated by the developments in computer technology. This work is being carried out by the University of Sydney and is also financed by the Department of Immigration. The third major project, which is being carried out by the Department, is a survey of the experiences of about 10,000 migrants during their early years in Australia.
These are far-reaching initiatives. I think that, having regard to the fact that they have been in operation for more than 12 months, it is proper to describe them as imaginative. Now, late in 1971, the Australian Labor Party seeks to have a joint committee of the Parliament established to inquire into the financing and all other aspects of the immigration programme. In this respect the Labor Party is behind the times because the work has been started and has been in operation for 12 months. I return to the point at which I commenced my remarks and ask: Where is the benefit to be derived, in the light of all that is occurring, from the programme or pattern of action which the Labor Party establishes? What I have outlined, of course, is only a small part of a body of research which has been completed into various aspects of immigration over the years. To mention another study, only recently the Austraiian National University published a bibliography and digest on Australian immigration. That is substantial and impressive evidence of the scope and depth of the research into immigration in Australia. The Government is looking to the future. It is with this sense of purpose that it has initiated the migration programmes which are currently under way. f say that at present there is nothing to be gained from establishing a joint committee of the Parliament to inquire into and report upon the financing and all other aspects of the immigration programme. The Government is conducting these farreaching studies. They are broadly based and they are strong supported. They are being undertaken by persons who have the necessary expertise and know-how and who are undertaking overseas studies to formulate the area in which the inquiries are taking place. These studies undoubtedly will bring benefit to our programme. I see no reason why our annual immigration programme should not continue to be shaped directly and controlled by the Government in the light of our current national needs, the availability of suitable settlers and own capacity to integrate them, against the background of containuing inquiry and research of the character 1 have outlined. The Government therefore will oppose the motion.
– I support the motion moved by Senator Mulvihill on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. I believe that the time has arrived for a joint select committee of the Parliament to examine all aspects of immigration in this country. I say this because I believe that, despite the fact that we have opposing political parties in this chamber and in another place, we would obtain a completely new and, I venture to suggest, unbiased look at the migration problem if such a committee were to be established. I have been agreeably surprised, in my 5 years in this chamber and in my participation in committee work, to find that at that level all parties seem to sink their political differences and get to work in the interests of the subject-matter they are examining, and examining in such depth. 1 feel that a departmental committee is never as successful as a committee composed of. members of this chamber. Departmental committees never probe as deeply. lt is a matter of record that on many occasions on which such departmental investigations have been conducted the Government in its wisdom, has refused to table the reports. In many other cases it has tabled them only after tremendous pressure from the Opposition. One of the cases in point is the Loder report on the transport problems of the northern pan of Australia. It took about 2 years for the Opposition finally to have that report tabled. Probably when it did become .a public document many of the recommendations and conclusions were already inapplicable. This is one of the reasons why 1 think an open inquiry is not beyond the capacity of both Houses of the Parliament al this time.
Like Senator Georges. I do not think that it is an excuse or a reason not to establish the committee to say that such an inquiry cannot be conducted because of the work load factor. This can be said on every major issue that we may wish to investigate in future, no matter how important or urgent the need for such an investigation might be. In fact, all honourable senators who believe that a committee of this nature should be set up, and who will be compelled to vote against our motion only because of pressure of work, should be in this chamber speaking for greater assistance for the committees and their members and greater personal staff facilities for the members who are prepared to examine in depth these matters that are referred to committees from time to time. I believe that the time is coming when the Government will accept the importance of standing committees and select committees to such an extent that individual senators as well as the Parliament itself will obtain additional assistance so that this work can be carried out properly and thoroughly.
There is no doubt that the select committees and joint committees that were enumerated by Senator Willesee have brought down some excellent reports and recommendations to the Government. Some of them have been acted upon; others have not been acted upon, to the disappointment of many honourable senators on both sides of this chamber. But I believe that this work, if important, can be done. It can be done .by the Government as a whole - I refer not to honourable senators but to the Government as a whole - recognising the importance of this committee work and moving into the field with assistance in the form of research officers, perhaps additional clerical staff to members who are on committees and additional personal staff, lt should not be done with the pool system of staffing. I do not believe that would he successful. 1 am hoping that, although we have had an indication that we will not have the numbers when the vote on the motion is taken, some senators will reconsider their position and will vote in favour of the motion moved by Senator Mulvihill.
Many of the issues that need examination are big and important issues. Some may be not quite so important when compared with the magnitude of the total migration programme, but they are tremendously important to many thousands of people in this country and. in some instances, to our prestige as a nation. I think I hat one matter which should be examined is the fact that 200,000 people, according to the statement of the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) last week, who are eligible to become Australian citizens have not applied to accept that responsibility. That is a tremendous number of people. They have migrated here, have sought to enter the country on a permanent basis and, in many cases, have made a firm decision not lo accept Australian citizenship. I think the matter should be examined in depth so that wc can ascertain the reasons why many thousands of people, not just half a dozen, have come to this country and have decided not to accept Australian citizenship.
I think it must be remembered that over the years the Government has made it easier for migrants to accept citizenship. We have relaxed certain aspects of the naturalisation procedures so that migrants will more readily accept Australian citizenship. The method of naturalisation of migrants has been relaxed to the extent that they no longer have to go as far in swearing an oath as they previously did. In some instances the entitlement to social service benefits has been relaxed. The entitlement to invalid pension has been relaxed to the extent that a period of continuous citizenship for 10 years is no longer required. The entitlement to the age pension has been relaxed technically, but not to the extent that a natural born Australian or an immigrant who has accepted citizenship can obtain the benefits of the age pension if he has not had 10 years continuous residence in this country. A migrant who has accepted Australian citizenshiip, who has reached 65 years of age and who is dismissed from employment is unable to get the age pension until he has had 10 years continuous residence in this country.
I have a case before the Department of Social Services at the moment. I have received an answer to this case. The man to whom J refer has about 7 months to go before the 10-year period is up, but he will have ho income during that period simply because he is 65 years of age and cannot get any other employment due to his age. As’ has been indicated earlier, it is very difficult to get new employment if a person has reached 40 years of age. International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty Ltd has a fairly consistent policy of dismissing persons who have attained 60 years of age. Some people face the prospect of receiving the unemployment benefit over a 5-year span instead of the age pension, not because they are unable to work but simply because they cannot get work. They will have to receive the lower unemployment benefit which, everybody will agree, is insufficient. This happens to many migrants because the requirement of 10 years continuous residence in Australia.
But that is not the major thing about which I .wish to speak. I again appeal to the Attorney-General (Senator. Greenwood), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration, to bring before the Minister the inhumane manner in which he and the Department are handling some of the applications for assisted pas sage’s and also the inconsistency that the Department is showing in some cases. 1 have spoken previously in the Senate about Mr Hanley Woodbridge who migrated from the West Indies about 12 months ago. He is an Englishman, and is a draughtsman by trade. He married an Indian lass. He went to the West Indies because that was the home of his wife. They have 3 children. Because of a strange twist of fate - because of racial discrimination against him in the West Indies - he could not successfully follow his trade and successfully conduct a business in partnership. He was discriminated against because he was white. He decided that he would come to Australia and join other members of his family who had already migrated and who had settled in Geelong. He sought an assisted passage, but his application was rejected. The then Minister, Mr Lynch, gave me a written reply which clearly indicated that the decision was based on racial discrimination. There was no other way that the answer could be interpreted.
I have continued and am still continuing to appeal. I have further representatives before the present Minister for consideration to be given to granting Mr Hanley Woodbridge an assisted passage. In recent weeks Press publicity was given to a family which migrated from England. I cannot recall the name of the family. One member of the family was granted an assisted passage, but the rest of the family were not. The white member of the family was granted an assisted passage. When investigating Mr Hanley Woodbridge’s case in Geelong in order to find some kind of precedent or some kind of - method by which I could convince the Minister that this family was entitled to further consideration I obtained information about a gentleman working at the ‘ Ford Motor Company. 1 am not at liberty to disclose his name - I am at liberty to disclose the name of Mr Hanley Woodbridge - but it is in the ‘correspondence that the Minister has. He was a coloured person of nonEuropean extraction who was transferred by the Ford Motor Company to Geelong. The application for an assisted passage received very little or no attention for 6 or- 8 months. It has been established - this is my advice, and I accept the advice - that through the intervention of the Ford Motor Company on this man’s behalf he was granted an assisted passage, although he did not comply with the hard line policy which the Government now has on racial discrimination in mixed marriages.
I ask that the matter be looked at in the humane way in which it should be looked at. Apparently there is a precedent for granting an assisted passage to Mr Hanley Woodbridge. At the moment he is endeavouring to buy a home, rear his family and pay back a substantial debt still owing in the West Indies. That is the money that he had to borrow to bring his family to this country. He has been extremely frank with me, and I in turn have been very frank with the Minister. All the information that I have 1 have been able to give to the Minister. I have told the Minister of the debts that this man has incurred, the fact that he is well received by the company for whom he is working - Alcoa of Australia Ltd at Geelong - that he is a competent draughtsman and that he has indicated his great desire to settle in this country because he thinks so much of it. His family is here. He has great financial problems because by a strange twist of fate he decided to settle in the West Indies and found a similar situation to that which he is finding here, only in reverse. He is not finding any racial discrimination within his employment. But he has been affected by hard line Government policy which has discriminated against him because he chose to marry the woman of his choice and she was an Indian lass.
– How great is his debt?
– If the honourable senator sees me later, I will inform him. I will not go into the personal affairs of this man across the chamber in front of the public.
– But the honourable senator has mentioned his personal affairs.
– I am quite happy to let the honourable senator know on the basis that he will keep a trust. The Minister is well aware of the amount. It is a 4- figure debt. I hope that, because of the additional information that I have given and the further plea that I am making at this stage a change of policy with respect to this case will take place, even if it is only to the extent of paying back to Mr Hanley Woodbridge his fare. I believe that the case should be looked at in a broader sense and in a more humane way. The whole family should receive the assistance that it is seeking because it will be a very fine family of Australians.
– I wish to say just a few words in relation to this motion which, I would remind the Committee, states:
That a joint select committee should be appointed to inquire into and report upon the financing and all other aspects of the immigration programme.
I claim that any discussion of a motion of this kind should be related to the words of the motion and not to a few case histories which any honourable senator may happen to have crossing his desk. All of us have a considerable number of case histories concerning migrants crossing our desks. Migrant people come to individual senators seeking their assistance. The senator passes each case on to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). In advocating a case, a senator pleads it to the best of his or her ability. I do not think that a debate of this kind calls for a repetition line by line of individual case histories which are receiving attention already.
I refer to Senator Tony Mulvihill who has proposed this motion. He has a continuing, deep and abiding interest not only in the programme of immigration but also in the people who make up the immigration programme and policy. As one who has shared this interest with him on a number of occasions, I know something of his concern. Indeed, in our travels together, we not only found a great deal of common interest but also shared in a common concern. Therefore, it is fairly natural that he should call for a study in depth of the financing and other aspects of the immigration programme.
I merely wish to say, in support of what the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) said a little earlier this afternoon, that there is a continuing study not merely on the financing but on all other aspects of the immigration programme. I refer in the first instance to the Immigration Planning Council which has been established for a considerable number of years. It is comprised of a group of people who are appointed to the Council. They are representative of all phases of Australian life. They are not representatives of organisations or sections of the community. These people are called onto this Council by reason of their various and several skills.
The Immigration Advisory Council, over which it is my privilege to preside, was set up by the first Minister for Immigration in the post-war period, Mr Arthur Calwell, and its work has continued ever since. The work of this Council relates more particularly to matters of integration and social welfare after migrants have arrived here. Perhaps it is not so relevant to this discussion as is the Planning Council. I merely put the two together and remind the Committee that involved in this work are not only people representing sections of the community, in the case of the Advisory Council, but also people with special skills, in the case of the Planning Council.
Within those groups of people are representives of all shades of political opinion and direct representatives of all political parties. So all backgrounds of political thinking and political philosophy on immigration are brought to bear upon the deliberations of these 2 councils which, as the Minister has said, are meeting constantly. In addition, there are sub-committees of these bodies to which various items are entrusted. Each sub-committee is called upon to report to its Council, and the Council ultimately reports to the Minister. So month by month, through each year, continuing inquiry into the financing and all other aspects of the immigration policy occurs. 1 remind the Committee again, that some of the matters which Senator Poyser referred to in relation to naturalisation, social service benefits, migrant education and migrant accommodation, among other things, have come out of the work which the existing committees and councils have done. I refer also to the fact that the whole programme of immigration not only is constantly under review but also is related to the additional studies to which the Minister has referred and which are in effect outside the councils. They are related to the well being of migrants and to the number of migrants that a country can take. They concern also the migrant programme as related to the total Australian population growth and development. So there is hardly a phase of this complex, widespread and long standing national programme which is not constantly under review. Even as we discuss this matter before the Committee this afternoon, there are new inquiries and new researches that are based upon the experience of 0’her countries - Canada, for example - and on all the latest developments, so the migration programme evolves not only as it relates to Australia’s growth and its ultimate development but also as it relates to the well being df the people who are here-. .
I conclude by saying that I am very disappointed at the reference that was made by the last speaker to inhumanity within the Department of Immigration. This simply is not true. Along with other honourable senators, and more especially because I am so closely involved with immigration, I have had the opportunity to study the work of officers of the Department of Immigration, lo study closely the work of the Minister, to study closely the work of the selection officers abroad and of those who are here in Canberra and who make decisions in relation to various migrants. That statement simply is not correct. It is an unujst and an unworthy suggestion to claim that the policy of the Department and the people who work in it is an inhumane one. I wish to put this quite clearly from my own point of view as someone who has had some association wilh the Department.
In addition to the established councils, there is a wide range of voluntary bodies including the Good Neighbour Council, which stand not only with the Minister but also with the officers of his Department here in Canberra, in each of the States and in overseas countries. So I cannot accept the proposal that we need to establish a joint select committee to inquire into and report upon the financing and all other aspects of the migration programme. This is one of our ins itutions within the governmental programme that is constantly under review, constantly being probed and constantly being questioned. As a result of this work, a programme that, is so diverse and so large as the immigration programme of Australia has been able to proceed with success. I am sure that it wi’l continue so in the future.
– Mr Chairman, my colleagues have answered effectively many of the arguments which have been put forward. I deal first with the comments by Senator Sim on the work load of Senate committees. A perusal of the current Senate notice paper reveals that the creation of the committee that I have proposed would have an immediate benefit with respect to 2 existing committees as certain references to them could easily be handled by the proposed new select committee. I refer to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which has before it a petition concerning the transfer of social service entitlements and also the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts which has had the question of education needs in Australia referred to it by way of 3 petitions. Obviouslythe migrant sector could be more effectively handled.
I wish to deal specifically with Senator Little’s remarks. Senator Little had a long training in the trade union movement and would have read a very apt statement by Bill Ford, who is well known in Sydney as an industrial lecturer. Senator Douglas McClelland will know that Bill Ford graduated from the waterfront to an academic position. All this talk about development and making a great Australia is laudable and nobody disputes it, but Bill Ford coined the term ‘industrial cannon fodder’. I wish to quote now from the book ‘A Nation of Immigrants’ written by John F. Kennedy, an illustrious United States President. He quoted from an Irish poet John Boyle O’Reilly, and particularly for the benefit of Senator Gair I in turn will adopt that quotation. John Boyle O’Reilly, referring to immigration and objecting to patronage, used these words:
Organised charity, scrimped and iced,
In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ.
I appreciate that Senator Little was not simply saying that the country has to develop - it is for a good cause.I referred to difficulties in rural areas and Senator Little said that anyone knows that immigration has no relevance to the rural position. Senator Gair and Senator Byrne, who are from Queensland, well know that mechanisation has reduced the employment of cane cutlers. Fewer of them are needed and the same is true of many other fields. I had a discussion with the Acting Federal Secre tary of the Federated Ironworkers Association, Harry Hurrell. He made the point to me that while Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd was recruiting people for its works in Wollongong people were going back to working the ordinary 40-hour week. In Newcastle if men were not being dismissed, dismissals were potential. When we talk about an image, let us put our cards on the table.
If my motion were carried I would like to see before the committee the personnel manager and industrial officers of BHP. They would be askedto justify their policy. In the United States accusations were made about the exploitation of Mexican workers - or wetbacks as they call them - in the rural industry. The tomato growers of California were brought before a committee and vigorously questioned on this subject. Their activities were exposed. That is my policy. A committee could expose unscrupulous employers in Australia. If there is racketeering in the trade union movement, let us have a look at it, and let people who claim discrimination prove such assertions.
I am sick of slanging matches across this chamber. When we put something forward we are accused by the Democratic Labor Party of seeking political advantage. Fact finding committees are useful in that respect. When Senator Greenwood was replying he did not answer my criticism that problems are arising in respect of the recognition of the professional qualifications of migrants from Latin America. We are getting a number of people from those countries. Some honourable senators have queried the value of a committee such as I have suggested. The Department of Immigration has agencies to meet all sorts of contingencies, but they do not. always succeed. My colleague Senator Poyser and I, not long after we entered the Senate, were approached by inmates of migrant hostels in Victoria and New South Wales - from Heathcote in New South Wales and from Brooklyn in Victoria. After many fact finding missions and assistance from the late Senator Cohen we had a long conference with 6 migrant leaders and Mr Bury, who was then Minister for Labour and National Service. I say that particularly for the information of the departmental officers and Senator Greenwood.
I am not lambasting the Department, but it is saddled with the shortcomings of other departments and its agencies. It was only through the activities of Senator Poyser and myself that something was brought out into the open. It may be said that reforms would have been instituted anyway, but if we had not agitated and aired those matters the reforms would not have been accelerated. Amongst the many migrant groups in Australia many problems still need to be brought out into the open. I will refer to one or two other matters that all the Department’s research has not revealed. Has the Department ever had a good look at the money lending agencies or conferred with Slate authorities about them? 1 have in mind particularly some sections of the Italian community in Leichhardt, who have been tricked by money lenders. The Department’s liaison breaks down.
About 12 months ago, before the scandal broke of car insurance in New South Wales, I referred problems of Lebanese people in that field to Mr Lynch, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who was then Minister for Immigration. He discussed them with State authorities who said that they were looking at them. They were still looking at them 9 months later when the storm broke and dubious insurance companies were exposed. These are human issues. I do not down grade the investigations of the Department but I do say that 1 do not think they are effective enough. 1 would like to see personnel officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department brought before a committee and asked to explain why they have fumbled the employment of so many British migrants who finish up working in grades in which they did not expect to work. If they cannot explain to people in Birmingham the various postal grades in Melbourne or Sydney, there is something wrong with them.
If we were to accept the view put by the Minister we would agree that everything- in the garden is lovely. We are not talking about the number of migrants. We say that in the Federal system there is a great deal of conflict with State authorities and in so many ways reform is long overdue. Senator Davidson referred to the personnel of committees. I do not want to get into an argument about the hierarchy of the trade union movement and nominees of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I respectfully suggest to Senator Davidson that amongst the committees formed by organisations such as the Good Neighbour Council not many recommendations have been made for the extra appointment of trade union secretaries or lower ranking unionists who are post-war migrants.
Senator Negus made a quite unfair and back-handed swipe at the activities of postwar migrant trade unionists. It seems impossible to win on that score. Some people say that migrants are too docile as unionists and are a threat to industrial conditions. On some occasions attempts are made to intimidate migrants who function as shop stewards and fight exploitation. Probably Senator Negus is thinking more of South Australia than Western Australia. If trade unionists are not satisfied with a shop steward they can quickly get rid of him. But some sections of society are very selfish and will not accept responsibility. A migrant from Britain, Italy or Yugoslavia when acting as a spokesman in the trade union movement may be sniped at. I think that he has every right to use his position to air a particular grievance as a migrant.
– That is part of becoming an Australian.
– Yes. But I am referring to the remarks of Senator Negus. I thought, he was quite unfair about the role of migrants in trade unions. I do not care whether a person’s name is McTavish, Ryan, Lolloto or Martinek. He has a place in the trade union movement. I wish to stress that point. Despite what I have said to Senator Negus and Senator Townley and the reservations that Senator Little has, I believe that at this eleventh hour they will support the motion.
– I will be brief. I think it would be wrong if I did not express my concern at the action which has been taken to lower the migrant intake. I have always been a supporter of our immigration programme. Ohe of the post-war successes of Australia has been the immigration system. I am sorry that a powerful union of forces has induced the Government to take the measures that it has taken. There have always been people in this country who have been opposed to immigration. In the course of a reasonably long life I can remember - it is about as far back” as 1 can remember - people who have said that they did not want migrants coming here and taking their jobs. I can remember that in about 1938 a British industrial mission came to Australia led. if my memory serves me correctly, by Sir George Clark. When he was leaving to go back to England immigration was a hot issue. Many people were opposed to migrants coming here.
Sir George Clark was asked whether Australia would be able to provide employment for migrants if they came here. His reply was: ‘You will not need to. They will employ you.’ That view may have been a little exaggerated, but since 1945 many migrants who came to this country showed sufficient enterprise and ability to establish flourishing businesses which did a great deal of good for the Australian economy and provided employment for a great number of Australians.
– They had industry and enterprise.
– Yes. I know that at present, when there is a tendency for unemployment to increase, there are people who will say that we should nol be bringing people here while there appears to be an increase in unemployment, lt is understandable that they should say that, but to a degree that is an acceptance of a defeatist attitude. In my view we should be saying to the Government that it should be doing the things which are necessary to get our economy moving rather than doing’ things which will take us back to the old days of the depression. Some people say that we should cut down on migration for a while and then look at the situation. Many of them are trade unionists.
I can remember Albert Monk, who was probably the most respected figure in trade unionism over the last 20 years, about 10 years ago at a conference on immigration, when the move to reduce the number of migrants was just as powerful as it has been in recent months, saying straight out: You cannot turn off and turn on immigration like a tap’. I hope that will be the motto to which some of our people will have regard in the future. I believe that migrants have created employment. I believe also that they have enabled to be established and to prosper a great number of industries which otherwise could not have prospered. Above all, our immigration programme has given to people who came from countries where they did not have a place in the sun an opportunity to have a place in the sun. Let us not be. selfish’. We have a big country: there is plenty of room here. I hope that we will not be selfish in our attitude towards other people who, after all, want only one thing - a place in the sun. 1 have felt over perhaps the last 3 or 4 years that here has been a tendency against Asian migration to Australia. As honourable senators are aware, it has always been a sticky problem. About 7 or 8 years ago the Government adopted much more liberal attitudes, but I have a feeling that in the last 3 or 4 years there has been a tendency against those liberal attitudes. 1 have a great sympathy with the AngloIndians and the Ang’.o-Ceylonese. Many of them are in trouble in their own country where they are regarded, because of their European origin, as being the sort of people who helped the British to keep their country in subjection. They are not popular; their religion is contrary to the religion of most of the other people and, in countries such as India and Ceylon where religion is regarded as being of extreme importance, that does not help them. Life is very difficult for them. Some procedures which were instituted a couple of years ago in regard to these people made it much more difficult for them to come to Australia. I do not think those procedures were necessary. It appeared to me that the object was to centralise in Canberra the administration of immigration procedures in regard to these people. I feel that the system was better when the administration was not centralised in Canberra. However. I may be wrong. I have been told that in recent months there have been endeavours to streamline the system and to improve procedures. I would be very happy if that is so. I believe that we should do what we can for these people. 1 know many of them, and they have been very good citizens.
T conclude by saying that 7 or 8 years ago we gained the reputation of having begun to go along the path to more liberal attitudes towards Asians. I suppose it can happen that one can go a certain distance andt hen stop to consider what is happening, or there may be other factors that would intervene. I still think that, without interfering with our culture and without interfering too much with the homogeneity of our people, we could be a good deal more generous in regard to Asians. I hope that Australia will be able to be so in the near future.
That the motion (Senator Mulvihill’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Prowse)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The motion having been disposed of. there are several other matters to whichI feel I should make some response at the present time. If Senator McManus were to examine the figures I think he would find that, contrary to the impression he has gained, the number of migrants from Asian countries in recent years has increased. It may be that he has sensed that there has been a decline, but the overall figures would certainly suggest that there has not been. That leads me to what Senator Poyser had to say. He suggested that the policy which is being applied with regard to assisted passages is an inhuman policy and a policy which savours of racial discrimination. The Government has on numerous occasions rejected both those allegations. Assisted passages are provided for the purpose of bringing to Australia migrants who would not normally come here without assistance and who are needed to help Australia’s development. On that basis, assistance is a privilege conferred by the Australian Government: it is not a right. It is an inducement offered to persuade people who would not otherwise come here to do so and it is not something about which a person who is coming to Australia in any event is entitled to say: ‘I should get this assistance’. Assisted passages are confined as a matter of policy to persons of European descent. There is a measure of restriction on the entry into Australia of person of mixed race, even as fare paying migrants. That again is a matter of policy. There would be some illogicality in providing assisted passages for persons who are so restricted.
– Does the country of their birth affect their racial status?
– It affects the Government’s policy.
– It is the Governments policy, stated over many years, to preserve in Australia a homogeneous population. This policy does not prevent the entry into Australia of person of nonEuropean descent. The record indicates that they are able to come in. The Government has indicated that that is the view which it holds. It is certainly a view which has won the acceptance of both major political parties over the years. It is a national policy. I hope that, notwitbstand-. ing certain suggestions to the contrary, it will continue to be the policy which will win support throughout this country.
– The remarks of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), have prompted me to raise a couple of matters which I did not have the opportunity to raise during the sittings of Estimates Committee B. I say that with due deference to Senator Rae, the Chairman of the Committee, who gave the members of the
Committee a pretty fair crack of the whip. The first matter I wish to raise was referred to also by Senator McManus. It relates to applications to enter Australia by persons in India who have Portuguese passports. 1 do not intend to canvass specific cases. It is just that I am under the impression that the backlog in the processing of applications from, say, Goa is considerable. I am in no hurry to obtain this information. I simply ask the AttorneyGeneral to lel me have an idea in a week or so of the backlog of applications by people from India with Portuguese passports.
The second matter 1 wish to raise is the question of racial discrimination. 1 refer in particular to those Malaysian citizens who are graduates from Australian universities. I appreciate that there could bc occasions when the Minister for Foreign Affairs would influence the decisions of the Minister for Immigration, but I am still not satisfied that some of these graduates from Australian universities have been able to go back to Malaysia and do full justice to their professional qualifications because Malaysia has to try to rationalise its people of Chinese stock and those of Malay origin. I hope a register is kept of the people Australia leans on to go back to their homeland. Sometimes these people are told in what could be described as ‘Dear John’ letters that if they like to apply in a couple of years time for a return to Australia and they can prove that their talents are not being used to the full in their homeland their application will receive favourable consideration.
Another matter I wish to raise is a corollary of the one I have just raised. The Attorney-General may be aware that I have written to the Minister for Education in New South Wales about the possibility of some Filipino school teachers teaching in Australia. As a matter of fact, Senator Negus pointed out to me a moment ago the need for the recruitment of more teachers in the States. It may be that in 3 years time the teacher training colleges will be able to provide sufficient teachers to meet the demand, but at the moment there is a shortage of teachers. The teachers to whom I have referred would be able to meet a part of that demand.
To round off, I am still not satisfied that we are allowing to return to Australia all the Asian graduates from our universities who can prove that for racial reasons they are not being given the status to which they are entitled in Malaysia. Secondly, I would like the Minister for Immigration to consult with the State Ministers for education as to ways of overcoming the teacher shortage which exists in Australia by bringing in Asian teachers with the necessary qualifications. At present we are getting teachers from Canada, Ireland, Britain and so on but not from Asian countries. I am choosing my words very carefully here. The Attorney-General will appreciate that I have argued for the use in country towns of Asian nurses who graduate from Australian hospitals. Tt is to the credit of the Minister and his officers that he has granted extensions in a number of instances. But 1 still believe he should go a little further in this field.
The other aspect about which I think I should talk while 1 am on my feet is a comment by Senator Cotton to Estimates Committee B about the abnormal number of desertions from ships, largely Greek ships. 1 know Senator Cavanagh could elaborate much more effectively than I can on what is wrong with the working conditions on Greek ships. What. I wish to say is that I still regard the recognition by Australia of the Refugee Seamen’s Convention as being something which is long overdue. I think some of these illegal migrants stay here only because they are afraid of reprisals from the owners of the ships from which they deserted. I think it would be found that if these people had the credentials to sign up on other ships many of them would be prepared to sail the seas again and not remain in Australia as felons.
– My remarks are directed to division 330. I am concerned about the nonexpenditure last year of some of the amount which was appropriated. I query whether a stab is made at the requirements of the Department of Immigration and whether this sometimes results in an appropriation of far in excess of the amount it is within the capability of the Department to spend in the ensuing 12 months. I have been reading through the reports of the Public Accounts Committee I noted in the 1 13th report of the Committee severe criticism of the Department of Immigration over an appropriation for the building of a migrant office in the Kingdom of Greece. The project was not proceeded with. 1 do not know where 1 would be able to find in the estimates an appopriation for the building of migrant offices in other countries. The Public Accounts Committee was very critical of the Department for obtaining an appropriation for an amount which it did noi spend. At page II of its 113th report the Committee paid:
Your Committee finds the Departmental explanation lo he unsatisfactory. We believe that (lie tinder-expenditure incurred under this item was due to an apparent lack of adequate financial planning willim the Department and we .suggest that this docs nol reflect favourably upon the Department
Last year about $4, 1 72,000 was not expended out of the amount appropriated for expenditure. There is a reduction in the request for appropriation this year which is understandable because of the reduction in the migration programme. One wonders whether the Department knows where it is going and whether it can carry out the plans for which it seeks approval. This year (here has been a curtailment of the English speaking classes which are held for migrants. I think this matter would come under division 330, subdivision 5, item 03, full lime intensive English language courses, which relates to the adult migrant education programme in Australia, including part time instruction and also the full time intensive English language courses. But apparently it is the pari time instruction which is being curtailed. On 13th October the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Colton) when acting as Minister for Immigration issued a statement denying the criticism that there was a curtailment of or lack of appreciation of the necessity for such classes. He pointed out that the appropriation this year would be some S5m compared with S3. 8m spent last year. Again we can sec that the expenditure on migrant education services last year was down considerably on the amount appropriated. The Minister, in his Press statement pointed out:
This new emphasis on specialised courses ha-; meant having to reduce the amount of money available this financial year for the evening continuation class programme for adult’ migrants, which have been in operation for some 20 years.
We can see that the Department is going from the night classes in the adult migrant education programme, including the part time classes, to intensive classes for the purpose of rapid development of the English language. In order to implement this policy the Government has asked State Departments of Education which are responsible lor arranging classes and for appointing teachers to rationalise evening class programmes particularly single classes where numbers have dwindled to below acceptable limits. The Minister mentioned that a high abandonment rate is one of the factors which has influenced the Government to review the continuation of evening classes.
Apparently the Government of South Australia has acted in accordance with the Department’s request and it has discontinued most evening classes. I think there must be some variation in classes between the States because I have seen a report that attendance was not low at the evening classes in my State. By abandoning the evening classes the opportunity of workers in industry to learn English is being abandoned. The Government permits the holding of day classes where those who can obtain time off during the day - those in business activity - obtain the benefit of the educational programme. But those working in factories cannot obtain the benefit under the proposed new scheme. 1 think that this is a retrograde step. Possibly we are teaching a section of the population which could pay for tuition and neglecting a section which is suffering great disabilities because the classes they used to attend have now been abandoned. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) who in this Chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) whether the position in South Australia can be examined to see whether the attendance at evening classes in that State justifies the abandonment of the classes.
– Senator Mulvihill raised a number of matters to which I am not in a position to give answers at the present time. However, in relation to the problem of those graduates from Australian universities who are required, some times against their wishes, to go back to Malaysia, the/ are told on their departure that any application which is subsequently made for reentry to Australia will be considered. I think that that in itself is a safeguard, if the situation which has concerned Senator Mulvihill and which I know has concerned others has reality. If these graduates are unable to find the opportunity to practice the vocation which they have chosen and for which they have qualified in Australia, then that is a consideration of some weight in the assessment of their application to migrate to Australia. 1 mention that only because it is a safeguard which meets the points which the honourable senator raised.
I refer also :o what Senator Cavanagh said. The complete answer to his proposal is not to be found in the passage to which I referred. He will find that the Migration Education Services were considered by Estimates Committer B. Possibly he might couple the Hansard transcript of that Committee at pages 298 to 301 with the Press statement to which he has referred. The fact that I here has been some reduction in evening classes still leaves classes at most centres where they were previously held. Accelerated instruction is given in morning, afternoon and evening part-time classes which are specially suited to migrants who are on shift work. In January there will be special classes for migrants in industry which will have a trial run.
– I shall refer briefly to the reply which the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) gave in relation to the case I brought before him of a mixed marriage family seeking to obtain an assisted passage. I charged - and 1 repeat what I said on that occasion - that in my view and in the view of many people this policy is a racial policy. I believe that this fact is clearly established by a reply which I received from the then Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch), on 2nd November last year when I asked the following question: ls it a fact that Government policy prevents assisted passages being granted to coloured persons: if so, does this same policy apply to a person of European blood and colour, who is a British subject and has an Indian wife and 3 children who are all British subjects?
The first part of the reply stated:
Yes. It is a matter of general : policy to grant assisted passages only to persons of European descent.
The rest of the reply is similar to the reply which the Attorney-General gave me earlier. This man was forced into heavy debt,for the reasons I outlined before, in order to get here to join his family. Then we see cases such as one 1 saw reported in the Press - 1 cannot confirm this because it was a Press report - in which one partner of the marriage, a European, received an assisted passage but not the rest of the family. This was not answered by the Minister. I have quoted a case involving an employee of the Ford Motor Company who received an assisted passage al the instigation of that firm. There is inconsistency in the policy. I will repeat the bair statement made, lt was
Yes, il is a matter of general’ policy to grant assistant passages only to persons of European descent.
Obviously if the Press statement is true the Government has leaned over to the extent of giving an assisted passage- to at least one of the partners of this , marriage. 1 cannot understand the Government saying that this was not done on a racial basis. Obviously it must be on a racial basis when one receives a reply like that and finds that this is the general position but that there is some flexibility if the right people can apply pressure.
– J’ regret the approach adopted by Senator Poyser. Assisted passages are refused for all sorts of reasons - character, health, occupational need and so on. If he knows of a particular case involving a person employed by the Ford Co. I think he should refer it to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) for examination. There is no question - f did not seek to put it in any other way and the former Minister for Immigration did not put it in any other way - thai assisted passages are confined as a matte of policy to persons of European descent.
I do not think that Senator Poyser helps the nation by categorisingthat policy as a racial policy. Do he and his Party propose to change that policy? If so, will he and his Party maintain, as their platform maintains, that Australia desires to have a homogeneous population free of the division and strife which has characterised other countries? This is the sort of thing which characterises the Labor Party’s double talk. I regret that Senator Poyser chose to introduce this element into a debate on immigration. if there is one political group in this country which makes quite clear where it stands on the immigration issue, it is the Government parties. If there is one Party which is trying to have a bit each way and not say precisely were it stands it is the Austalian Labor Party. Unfortunately Senator Poyser represents one wing of that Party which does not care how Australia is hurt in the eyes of the world. He does not care what divisions might be created in Australia if he can make some political advantage by categorising the Government’s policy as racial, when for all the years that that policy has been developing it has been supported by his own Party. I hope it will continue to have that support.
There are too many examples throughout the world of racial division and misfortune, killing and disunity flowing from a migration policy. I am sure all such countries regret that they cannot have the sort of policy, which Australia has had, and to which Australia desires to adhere. It is one of the misfortunes of humans living together that a different coloured skin so often causes trouble. We in Australia have been singularly free of this. However I do not believe we will be free of it if every time the opportunity arises there is a carping, harping allegation that the Government is adopting a racial policy. Those who allege racialism in areas where theoretically they might be able to establish a point which does not exist in practice create the problems that supposedly they are criticising. That will be the effect of the sort of approach which Senator Poyser and other members of his Party will create if they persist in this attitude.
I have before me the platform that the Australian Labor Party adopted in April this year at Launceston. That conference achieved a lot of things for the Labor Party. But so far as Labor’s immigration policy is concerned, the conference raised a great question mark over where the Party stands. I hope that in due course, when the matter is clarified, there will not be a departure from the bi-partisan line followed previously. The policies of the 1967 conference and the 1969 conference of the Party were essentially the same - ‘ and the same in application - as that followed by the Government. But this year the Labor Party made a simple addition to its immigration platform by adding the words:
The avoidance of discrimination on any grounds of race or colour of skin or nationality.
But from the way in which Senator Poyser has been arguing today, assisted passages must be made available to anybody in the world, whatever their race, the colour of their skin or their nationality. If that is the argument he is putting forward, let him use it. As we now have the Labor Party spokesman on immigration in this chamber, let him indicate whether Senator Poyser speaks on behalf of the Labor Party. That policy statement introduced this year is supposed to live with what always has been in the policy and that is:
The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.
That particular head of policy coincides with the general approach always followed by the Government, lt was the approach which so often enabled the former Labor Party spokesman on immigration, Mr Daly, to indicate that there was a coincidence of the views on these troublesome matters of the Government and the Opposition. But Mr Daly was summarily dismissed, of course, being a person who espouses that part of the policy which has been in the ALP platform for many years. The policy which the new Labor spokesman on immigration, Senator Willesee, espouses has not been staled. But one wonders whether what is expressed by Senator Poyser is to be the general view of the Labor Party. One can only fear, because Mr Daly no longer expresses its viewpoint.
I raise these matters because they have been brought into this debate, although I regret it. But if the Labor Party seeks to criticise the Government and accuse it of having a racial policy I think it is fair for mc to say to the Labor Party: Tell the people of Australia where you stand on these issues and let them make any judgment.
– I am amazed at the double standards that can be adopted by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and at his general racial attitude. A few minutes ago he replied to Senator McManus and indicated that the Government bad broadened its outlook in relation to bringing migrants from Asia and that more are coming from Asia today than ever before. The lass I have been referring to is an Indian woman of Asian extraction although not of Asian birth. She was born in the West Indies. I have been making a plea for the family of a European British subject who married a coloured person. The Attorney-General tried to twist the position and to suggest that I would open the floodgates. That was a ridiculous, unfair and unmitigated attack on me personally because I am appealing to the humane attitude of the Government on behalf of a particular family that the Government itself has already admitted but to which it has refused assistance. It was most unjustified indeed for the Minister to stand and make that provocative attack on me.
The Government has a racial policy so far as mixed marriages are concerned. This is the point I have been making throughout this entire debate and on previous occasions when I have spoken in this chamber. It is the Government’s policy in relation to mixed marriages about which I am so concerned. If the Minister were in charge of the matter, he would quite obviously admit no parties to mixed marriages because of this terrible fear of murder and rape and all the type of jazz which he has just tried to imply would follow if I were able to get a few bob for a mixed family that is coming into this country or is already here. It is absolutely disgraceful for the Minister to imply that I was doing anything other than attempting to get some assistance for a family of mixed marriage. He has no right to use the debate in this chamber to put into my mouth and into the minds of people things that I never implied or said.
– I want to add a few words to this debate. Originally I had no intention of entering it because I knew that a fairly large number of honourable senators wanted to speak. I was not amazed at what the Attorney-General (Senator
Greenwood) said when he attacked my colleague Senator Poyser, but I was rather shocked that he would put his attack into words which will form part of the Hansard report of the Parliament of this country. I suppose we all know that not so very long ago the Minister paid a visit to Rhodesia. No doubt while he was there he picked up some of these ideas on how the white minority handles the black majority in that country. To bring these dastardly statements into this Parliament is, I think, nothing short of scandalous. It is true, as Senator Poyser has said, that this Government through its immigration policies has consistently exercised a racial bias over a long period of time. We do not even have to look at its immigration policy to see this. We simply have to look at the Government’s handling of our own colour problem in Australia. Aboriginal people are treated by some people in this Government - in fact, the majority of them - as being less than white. Recently an arrangement was made in Queensland in relation to alterations to an Act. I have to mention this in order to emphasise the very things that the Minister has put . forward this afternoon. Agreement was reached between the Prime Minister of this country and a man known as the banana Premier of the hill-billy State. They produced a document that did not give freedom to people.
– Do not ridicule your own State.
– Senator Wood, I know that you are anti-:black too. There is no need for you to start interjecting at this point of time. If you do not have enough intelligence to make your , own speech afterwards do not try to make it now by way of interjection because it will not get you anywhere. This is the very basis on which this legislation has been produced. It is perfectly obvious that it is the Government’s general attitude to this question. In my own files in my office I’ have examples of numerous occasions on which people have been deported from this country back to a land where they know no-one. Because their skin happens to be a particular hue the Government decides that it no longer wants them in this country. Even if they are gainfully employed; even if, as is the case in many instances, they have brothers and sisters here and have been in this country before, the Government will not let them come back. It calls this a tolerant immigration policy. For 95 per cent of the time it is completely intolerant. I admit that there are instances from time to time when there is some relaxation of its policies, but these occasions are very few. Then to accuse the Labor Parly of adopting an open gate policy is just too stupdid for words.
– What is your policy?
– You can read the Labor Party’s policy book for which you have obviously paid your 30c or 40c. I hope the Minister has an up to date copy and not one that is out of date. I say that because supporters of the Government parties frequently come in here, quote from the Labor Parly policy of 1895 and say: This is what you believe in”. The fact that the Government has not brought its policies up to date does not under any circumstances give its supporters reason to suggest thatwe do not keep our policies up to date, because we do and we do so publicly. A copy of our booklet is available to anybody who is able toread and who has a fewcents to pay for a copy of the publication. If any Government supporter cannot afford it let me know and I will purchase it and give it to him with my compliments before our salary increase is announced.
– Make sure he can read first.
– One of the worriesI have is whether they will be able to understand it when it is finally given to them. The statement made by the Minister on this occasion simply highlights his attitude.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sittingI was making some references to what. I believe to be the unfair criticisms made by the AttorneyGeneral who represents the Minister for Immigration and who is handling this debate on behalf of the Government. You will recall, Mr Chairman, that the Minister, in his criticisms of Senator Poyser, quoted out of context one aspect of the Australian Labor Parly’s immigration policy. For the record,I propose to quote it also. I believe that if the Minister is sufficiently open minded he will see the justice of my argument. It states:
The Australian Labor Party supports an immigration policy administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.
I will refer to that clause in a moment -
The basis of such a policy shall include -
Australia’s national and economic security.
The capacity to provide employment, housing, education and social services.
The welfare and integration of all its citizens.
The preservation of our democratic system and balanced development of our nation.
The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different stan- dards of living, traditions and cultures.
The avoidance of discrimination on any grounds of race or colour of skin or nationality.
– What is meant by that last clause?
– If the Minister has not sufficient intelligence to work it out for himself, I do not propose to waste my time trying to get it into his addled brain. We claim that the Government is not doing at the present time what constitutes the very basis of our policy.It is contained in the preliminary section of the statement of our immigration policy: that is, an immigration policy administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.I think this was very forcefully pointed out by the Minister when he tried to turn the vehicle of propaganda against the members of the Australian Labor Party.
Let me cits some examples. Papuans, who are Australians, are not allowed into this country. In fact, there is currently in Queensland a mixed blood Papuan who wants to remain as a permanent resident. He is fully qualified and could fit into the community without any problems at all. But the Department is hounding him out of the country. He is a Papuan; in other words, he is an Australian. Let me also cite the case of Mr X. If the Minister wants to see the file of correspondence I have on this, it is available to him at any time. Mr X is a Chinese from the Indonesian area.- He was educated in Australia to university standard. For family reasons, he had to leave this country. The Government of which the Minister is a member refuses to allow him back into the country. Today he is trying to eke out a living among the teeming millions of Hong Kong. He is a man with an excellent education who has relatives in Australia who are prepared to give him a home and provide him with employment. But the shortsightedness of the Government’s policy excludes this man from Australia.
– l.s the honourable senator capable of telling us the Labor Party policy on this matter?
– Utterances like that from the Country Parly make me feel rather ill. Its members’ main interest in immigration in this country is to obtain slave labour for some of their run-clown sheep and wheat farms.
– I am anxious to hear the Labor Party’s policy. I do not doubt that the honourable senator will avoid it.
– The honourable senator is in terrible trouble. It is difficult for him to understand most things. If he cannot understand the words I have just quoted, which constitute the policy of my Party, I fear for him in the future. The case I have cited is one of those in which some sort of tolerance ought to have been exercised. I am not blaming the officers in the Department of Immigration. They have a rigid and inflexible policy which they are expected to carry out. Woe betide them if they do not carry it out. The Minister is tied down by the inflexible policy of his Party. So, only on rare occasions is he able to exercise any ministerial discretion. One of those instances was the one quoted by my colleague Senator Georges, today, which showed that occasionally it can be done. But the policy is too inflexible. I have read what the Labor Party has said. The Minister has tried to turn it around in the other direction and say that under a Labor government there will be no immigration restrictions at all. He knows that that is nothing but a lot of poppycock. The situation at the moment is that the Government is bringing in so many migrants that it cannot fina employment for them, it cannot provide education facilities for their children, it cannot provide housing for them and it cannot provide health and hospital services for them. So, a real argument exists today for a restriction to be placed on immigration.
I referred earlier to the fact that this inflexible policy is shown most of all amongst the Aborigines and islanders of this country. The Minister stands by and holds up his hands in horror at violence. But the Government drives people to violence. I do not tolerate violence; nor do I support it. One has to look at the other side of the penny and see that it is white men who drive those who are not white into desperate situations from lime lo time. We ought to have a serious look at whether the statement made by the Minister before dinner is the correct interpretation of the policy of his Government. If that is so, the Minister completely lacks humanity and. if he is speaking of his policies, those policies are not human either.
– 1 would not have entered this debate but for the fact that just before the suspension of the sitting 1 heard a most striking thing said by a Queensland senator in regard to his own State.
– Which senator was that?
– It was Senator Keeffe. Me said that we had a banana Premier in a hillbilly State. This is a States House and each senator who comes into it should be here to stand up for his own State. That Senator Keeffe rose to speak in this debate on the estimates for the Department of Immigration and said that Queensland is a hillbilly State should be known throughout Queensland so that the people know that when he comes here he is not prepared to fight for his own State of Queensland.
– You know that Senator Keeffe would not stand up for anything.
– I know that at times Senator Keeffe says things about which he is not fair dinkum. For instance, prior to and during the last election campaign he said: ‘Abolish the Senate’.
– I still believe in that.
– If you believe in it why were you throwing off sheets of perspiration for fear that you would not be re-endorsed by the Labor Party at the last election? Ask your cobbers. THey know that. You were throwing off sheets of perspiration for fear that you would not be re-endorsed. That statement about abolishing the Senate is poppycock, the same as what he said about Queensland is poppycock. It is the duty of every senator to stand here and to fight for the rights of his State. 1 believe that Queensland has greater possibilities for development than most other States. I believe that it is doing a very great developmental job. Not only that, but it has a good government too. Because of that migrants-
– I rise on a .point of order. The subject of the debate is immigration.. I respectfully suggest that the honourable senator is not discussing immigration
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)The point of order is not upheld.
– I said that the kind of development that is taking place is such that Queensland is able to absorb migrants and to give them a decent existence. I was very interested in the statements made about the Government’s immigration policy. I am not one who believes that the immigration policy should be kept at a peak and that we should take anybody who offers himself. I feel that we should have an intensely selective immigration policy so that wc get the best migrants for the country. I think that the general selective policy of immigration is something of which the average Australian would approve. To suggest opening the doors of this country to anybody who wants to come into it, I think, would be a very unpopular move. To talk of anybody who speaks about not permitting certain types of people to migrate to this country as a racist, is idealistic poppycock. I know that people say: ‘Let us have people from different countries’. If we took migrants from all countries the same people who were in favour of this policy would be the people complaining. I stand here as one who believes that we should have the right to say what migrants should come into this country.
– That is because you are Snow White and you use Persil to wash your bath towels.
Sentor WOOD- That is because I believe that it is a sensible policy to have. To suggest allowing anybody into his country, I think, is something which would be completely out of step with the thinking of the Australian public. I challenge Senator Keeffe to take his Party to the polls and fight an election upon a platform of opening the flood gates of this country to people from anywhere in the world. I guarantee that the Labor Party would be defeated. It would be a landslide w n for the Government. It is all right being idealistic about this subject, but I am quite positive that the great majority of Austraiian people do not want an immigration policy that opens the doors of this country to anybody who wants to come here.
What a change of policy has come over the Labor Party in recent years. Over the years its members were the people who talked about white Australia. If we go back in history we find the part that the unions played in Australia having this policy. They were on the bandwagon. They did not want coloured races allowed into this country. They wanted a white Australia policy. What was the basis for that? Apart from other things, they were afraid that there would be a lowering of wages and of the standard of their working conditions. This is history. Everybody knows it. Now, because the Labor Party is jumping on any kind of bandwagon it can in the hope that it will get into office, it is departing from the principles that it has acknowledged over the years. 1 make no apology for standing here and saying that I approve of the selective immigration policy at present adopted by the Government. From my point of view, it could be more intensively applied as far as the quality of migrants that we get from countries which do not have coloured races are concerned. Let us be sensible about this, lt is ali right getting up here and saying something in the hope of winning the votes of some idealistic people. Let us remember that a lot of people in this country do not think that way. I am quite sure that that kind of talk will help to keep the Labor Party out of office for many years.
Over the years migration to this country has been fostered. 1 think that by and large the policy has been a very successful one. The Government felt the winds of change blowing recently and this year it cut down on the number of migrants that it would allow into Australia. 1 feel that the subject is such an important one that it needs the intense thinking of the Government and of parliamentarians generally, but I think that we want to take a sensible approach to the matter to try to ensure that when we tally the ultimate worth of migrants to this country we will find that they have been a real advantage to this country. To those who are continually yapping about racists 1 say: ‘What about some of the countries in which coloureds are the predominant race?* There is more racism in some of those countries than there is in Australia and similar countries. If some of those people want in this country the kind of problems that face the United States of America and Great Britain - if they foster that type of policy in this country - they have not much regard for the Commonwealth. 1 stand four square for a selective migration policy so that we get the best people for this country and so that we do not have just anybody who wants to come here.
Let us be like other people - black, white and yellow races. People have their own attitudes towards people of other races. Therefore we have the right to have a selective immigration policy. We have’ our own coloured people to look after - the Aborigines. I believe that today they are being looked after better than they have been in the past. I think that to hear Senator Keeffe speak about the turmoil and the recent demonstrations by some Aborigines, and applauding them, is not the way-
– I was not applauding them.
– Yes, you were. This is not the way for a democratic parliament to be run. We should nol be applauding revolts and demonstrations of this type. If it was such a good revolt and such a worthy cause why did Mrs Kath Walker, the mother of a boy who took part in that demonstration, disown him for what he did? How did she feci about that demonstration? In this Parliament we have Senator Bonner who is of the Aboriginal people. He himself has said quite frankly that things are being done and are being done in the right direction. I feel that if anybody can speak for these people he is the one who can speak for them. So far he has not indicated that he is in revolt at what is being clone for them. Let us in this national Parliament have in our minds a degree of Australian sentiment - to the extent and intensity that whatever we do is in the best interests of this country and is nol something that we would say just because we think it might win votes at an election, but something which will be of real benefit to this country. I challenge Senator Keeffe and the Labor Party to go to the polls and fight an election on a campaign to open the doors of this country to allow black, white and bridle people to come in their numbers, us they want. As one - who has at least some political nous about how elections are won, I challenge them. We would landslide into victory. I would be pleased to see them go to the people on that issue, they would come back decimated.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - Mr Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Does the honouable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim that I have been misrepresented by the previous speaker. Senator Wood, on 2 grounds. Queensland is the best State in Australia. When I referred to it as a hillbilly State - I am sure Senator Wood would agree with me on this - I meant that the present State Government has made this State the laughing stock of Australia. We have to look only at the state of emergency that was declared - almost martial law - over the visit of a football team to realise this.
– I rise on a point of order. I submit that if the honourable senator sought to make a personal explanation that is all that he can make. Senator Keeffe is going far beyond what the Standing Orders permit.
– Order! Senator Keeffe, I think you should keep within the limits of personal explanation.
– Thank you. The other point on which I claim to have been misrepresented is this: 1 do not support violence. I said so when I was speaking. Senator Wood obviously reversed my remarks to suit his own argument. I did’ not advocate violence; I am critical of it. What 1 do say is that a small group of white men in my own State is provoking Aborigines into violence; the Aborigines axe left no other alternative. This is regrettable.
– Until 5.55 this afternoon, this debate had been conducted on a fairly high plane. I hope to bring it back to a few realities. Before the suspension of the sitting, most Government speakers had spoken about their hope that the present bipartisan policy would continue. In 1968 I attended, with Senator Cavanagh and others, the Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra. I can -recall that on that, occasion the then Minister for Immigration and Mr Whitlam were more or less on the same wave length on the need for an adjustment of our thinking on Asian migration. At that point of time it was quite nice for the Government to get some tacit support from the Opposition. I say this to you, Senator Wood: If you had any courage-
– Do not talk rubbish.
– 1 repeat it: If you had any moral courage you would have stood up at that time and attacked your Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt and Mr Opperman and all those people who said that they supported what you have implied our policy means.
– That is stupidity.
– The second stupid statement that was made-
– What a lot of nonsense.
– Your second stupid statement was to interpret wrongly the pronouncement of our policy that was made by our former Federal President. Our policy laid down guidelines. You have all attempted to take an Enoch Powell attitude - an attitude for which even he was rebuked by his own Prime Minister, Edward Health - which has a fear complex as its basis.
– That is not right.
– Listen! If you shut up, you will be able to listen and hear me.
– I would not say–
– I listened to you in quietness. I hope that you will be- courteous enough to do the same.
– Do not talk silly nonsense.
– I am making this point to you, if you will only listen! The difference between us is that you have a Birmingham complex. You see Pakistanis in Birmingham and then you . think you can see them in Brisbane. What- you do not realise is this: There is no mass of Asians holding Australian passports like IOUs ready to cash them in to enter Australia which was the problem confronting Britain. That is not the situation at all, and you know it. Between elections, honourable senators opposite want us to be fair and reasonable to the Minister. But when, elec-: tion time approaches honourable members, opposite indulge in distortions of our policy. It does not matter whether the topic is education or immigration. It is not senatorial behaviour; I can assure you of that. If you want it that way, we can go on for another hour. But that is not our idea. I put it (o you this way: It will test the sincerity of the Minister and it Will test you. I made a statement to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 28th October 1971 supplementing certain statements that had been made. I ask for leave to incorporate that statement, which was by way of letter, in Hansard as a corollary to what Senator Keeffe said.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Sir, lt was regrettable that the acting Immigration Minister, Senator Cotton, with the vast information resources of his department, did not attempt lo answer Mr Whitlam’s immigration policy observations with any depth. .
The Minister is well aware that no large group of Asians exists in possession of Australian passports In the form of IOUs to be cashed at some future lime.
One of the by-products of being a former colonial power resulted in Britain being confronted with many thousands of Asians from the independent African nations possessing British passports and claiming United Kingdom admission.
Consequently any attempt to distort Mr Whitlam’s utterances does not hold water in the light of the different immigration problems that confront Australia and Britain.
However, the Minister should be fully aware that a relatively small number of Asian graduates from Australian universities have, in the field of medicine and education, been manna to various rural hospitals and schools. lt is equally true that representations from country areas seeking these people to be given permanent domicile have come equally from both Australian Labour Party and Liberal senators; consequently Senator Cotton cannot play party politics on this issue.
No one in his right senses, conscious of the economic complexities that beset Australia, would, irrespective of colour, want to sponsor a massive injection of any ethnic group into a specific industry that is on the threshold of automation of kindred technological changes.
Nevertheless, in the cause of humanity, Australian Labor Party policy is geared to the highest priority for the reuniting of families- hence the need of high preference to dependants of migrants already in Australia.
Where the Australian Government does receive the worst of two worlds is our failure to publicly combat the racial discrimination applied by the Malaysian Government to many Malaysians of Chinese origin, products of Australian universities who find that, unlike their Malayan counterparts, they will be denied full opportunity to use their professional skills gained in Australia.
Most of these people who seek Australian domicile in these professional fields argue quite logically thai since the Malaysian Government seeks to keep them as second-class professionals, they would be happy to contribute their skills to the country which gave them their educational opportunity.
Incidentally, in the rare cases where such citizenship is given due to various factors it does not create any ghetto problem.
The Australian Government can do either of two things:
Insist that such Malaysian graduates are fully recognised in their own country.
Advise the Malaysian Government that they refuse to be an accessory to a scheme that trains people to certain professional skills and then humbles them when they return to their homeland.
– My defence rests on that document.
– Senator Mulvihill commenced his speech with the hope that he would return the debate to a rational, non-emotional level, as it was prior to 5.55 p.m. Subject to what he may have incorporated in Hansard, I would question the success of his efforts. On occasions when emotions run high, everyone in the chamber must have the greatest sympathy for the Minister in charge of these estimates, the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). The Minister is determined to create trouble. He has an unnatural kink for causing trouble. One would think that-
– It is his personality.
– Possibly it is his personality. One would think that the responsibility of the Minister is to get his portion of the Estimates through and so have this Bill passed. Of course, this Bill would have been passed before the sitting was suspended at 6 p.m. except for some remarks from Senator Poyser that possibly justified a reply from the Minister. But going beyond the reply, the Minister followed the normal practice of launching an attack upon the whole policy of the Labor Party. I do not think the Minister could expect Labor members to sit here in silence when such an untruthful attack was made upon their Party. As a result, he did his Government and the Committee a disservice because the Estimates debate has been prolonged. When the immigration policies of both Parties are examined, we see that the position of the Minister is a dangerous one because the policy of the Labor Party is preferred by the average elector when it is explained other than in the way in which Senator Wood explained it tonight. Senator Wood’s vision does not extend beyond that area where he rides around on his pushbike. If he ex ended his vision beyond Mackay he would know that Labor’s policies are readily accepted.
– Tell us all about them.
– We will tell you. The Attorney-General read portion of Labors immigration policy. Senator Keeffe completed the rending of that policy. As has been said, what was read represents the guidelines of Labor’s policy on the question of immigration. Our policy is most definite that there shall be no discrimination on the ground of race, colour or creed, lt could well be that various members of the Opposition in explaining our policy could place different emphasis on or give different interpretations of that policy. But so that there would be no misinterpretation of this policy, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, in a Press conference before television cameras, together with the shadow Minister for Immigration, explained in the shadow Minister’s home State Labor’s policy on immigration, lt was stated definitely that there would be no discrimination on the ground of race or colour.
As our Leader pointed out on that occasion, the policy of the Australian Labor Party would be to re-unite in Australia with their families those who were nominated by Australian residents. Those who, under the Government’s policy, have been accepted in Australia as successful migrants would be more successful if they were able to be reunited in Australia with their overseas relatives. On the figures that he produced, our Leader pointed out that this policy possibly would mean a smaller intake of Asian migrants because of the small number of Asians in this country, but the assistance we gave to migrants to Australia would not depend upon their race or their nationality.
Senator Poyser showed clearly that this Government has a policy of selective migration. 1 agree with the policy of selective migration. We must bring into Australia the skills that are necessary for Australia’s development. No-one disagrees with the Government’s policy. Disagreement arises with the way in which the Act is administered. If under the Migration Act the Government, following a selective migration policy, can subsidise the fare of a British migrant to Australia, it has the power to subsidise the fare to Australia of an Indian, an Asian or someone else. The case which Senator Poyser raised concerned one member of a family who, because his birth did not take place in a European country, could not receive assistance to come to Australia where other members of his family were living. As a result of a misunderstanding, I thought that the case referred to a man in Adelaide whose name is Josephs. In that case the father and brother of this man and their families were granted assisted passage to Australia. This man had lived in Great Britain for 25 years but because he was born in Colombo - having had no control over where he was born - he could not receive assistance and is now S900 worse off because he has brought his family here without Government assistance. Whichever way we look at this, it is racism and it is discrimination because of colour. That is not Labor’s policy. It is the racism for which we condemn the present Government. No-one could help but gather from the Minister’s speech tonight that he goes beyond the Government’s policy in bringing in references to disturbances that will occur in Australia if migrant ghettos are allowed to assemble. He showed a completely racist psychology on this question. I do not think more damage has ever been done to the Government’s policy than was done by the Minister’s remarks this evening. Labor makes no apology for its immigration policy. Wc believe in a selective immigration policy in that we want those people who would best be assimilated here, who would no’ be a threat to our cultures and our way of life. These are the people who should be admitted to Australia.
Admission to Australia as a migrant should not depend on race or colour. We of the Labor movement believe that the best migrants for Australia are other members of families of migrants who have settled here. That policy has been explained by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam) so there should be no mistake about it. We accept the challenge of Senator Wood. We will go to the hustings on our immigration policy. Our policy will win approval. There is no question about that. We would never grant or withhold assistance to migrants simply because of race or colour. Our policy is based on humanitarian principles.
The Minister by his diversion has prolonged the debate on the estimates of the Department of Immigration possibly by 2 hours. He may have had a reason for his move. The Minister will remember that I asked him whether it was possible to explain why last year the Department spent only $70.3m out of its appropriation of 874,497,300. Over $4m of the appropriation was not spent, but that seems to be a normal procedure of this Department. In fact, it has attracted the attention of the Public Accounts Committee and in the past the Department has been subjected to some criticism. But the Minister was too eager to criticise Labor’s policy even to justify the activities of the Department of Immigration.
– I feel obliged to answer some of the accusations made by Senator Wood about Labor’s policy, in addition to those made by the Minister. Immigration, like war and peace and a few other matters, is an emotional subject. Quite obviously people have a tendency to be a little carried away when discussing immigration matters, but I do not think anybody should be carried away to the regrettable extent that Senator Wood was carried away in this debate. He endeavoured to distort my attitudes to my home State of Queensland. He represented them quite incorrectly. Queensland has one of the lowest retentions rates of migrants in Australia. Migrants coming to Australia are frequently warned by the Government supported by the Minister and Senator Wood not to go to Queensland because of its hillbilly Government which makes no provision for jobs, housing, education or health services. As a result Queensland has not only the lowest migrant intake but also the lowest migrant retention rate. In fact, Queensland has the lowest growth rate of any State in Australia.
Just about the only time that the Government and Senator Greenwood - and I regret that I must now add Senator Wood’s name - show any colour tolerance is when they are using kid gloves to deal with the Taiwanese fishermen who enter Australian waters and ruin our reef fish life. An example of that occurred a few days ago. 1 asked the Minister what he proposed to do with clam meat confiscated from Taiwanese fishermen in northern Queensland We will probably find it on the parliamentary dining room tables next week. Another time when the Government is very tolerant to non-white people is when it is busy making deals to turn Queensland into a quarry through the sale of coal and other minerals. On that subject Senator Wood is probably one of the best equipped men in the Australia Parliament with his extensive mining speculation interests. There is complete racial tolerance when the Government, as I have said on so many occasion, sells Australian minerals at bargain basement prices.
– Your policy was for a white Australia until recently and it was that of the unions, too.
– Senator Wood cannot help it if he is so white that he has to use Persil 3 times a day to maintain his complexion in that condition. I am not worried about that at all. He is entitled to keep his pure white attitude to everything. Now Senator Maunsell is interjecting. He could help Australia by training a few Aborigines as shearers. He probably has one shearer every, year to shear his sheep. It would be a good thing if he could do something about that. We want to emphasise that Australia’s immigration policy should not be based solely on colour. This is what the Government is doing. I believe that we have cited enough instances in this chamber today for the Australian people to understand - even if Government supporters cannot understand - that discrimination is being practised.
– If the honourable senator went to London he might change his mind.
– That was our independent senator speaking. I thought he was an expert on probate but it seems that now he is an expert on London. Probably Senator Negus is acting as Australian agent for Enoch Powell. He is entitled to put his views, even by way of interjection. He is perfectly entitled to do that, but it is a surprising new development. I do noi know what Senator Turnbull will say when he conies back and finds that his independent group has divided in every direction, mostly in the direction of the Government. We of the Opposition have advocated right through that tolerance ought to be shown at all levels and we will not change our stance even after hearing the puerile contribution of Senator Wood.
– But you preached a white Australia policy until recently.
– You are advocating a pure white immigration policy. Do I understand you correctly? At least Senator Wood has accomplished one thing this evening. Senator Greenwood was roasted to a cinder just before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. Now Senator Wood has turned the fire on himself. No doubt the Minister is chortling because this has relieved the heat on him a little. J think that some of the things that have been said from the Government side of the chamber are completely inconsistent with what the Australian people want. The Australian people generally are fairly tolerant. Of course, one can understand Senator Wood living in the past. Senator Webster is trying to interject, ft is interesting to hear these little interjections from the Country Party because supporters of that Party have gained more from the exploitation of coloured labour in Australia than has any other section of the community at any time.
The big cry in the Northern Territory today is that supporters of that Party have lo pay an Aboriginal a living wage. Believe me, it has reached the stage where some Country Party supporters tlo not know where their next meal is coming from. They have gone bankrupt because they have to pay proper wages. Of course, what they do not like doing is whittling clown their margins of profit by perhaps half of one per cent in order to pay a living wage. As I said a little while ago, the only way in which the Government displays racial tolerance is by selling out Australia to nonwhite countries. Government supporters accept that policy as being all right while they are able to exploit cheap labour, but when it comes to living next door to someone whose skin is not lily white it becomes a different story. They are not interested in that. That is the basis upon which (he Government determines . its immigration policy.
I hope that I have made my point quite clear. There is nothing wrong with Queensland, except its Government. The Queensland Government is carrying out a redistribution of electoral boundaries at the moment. To show how intolerant Government parties are in that State, I mention that they have refused to make public their submissions to the Electoral Commission. It took 2 years of wrangling within the 2 Government parties before they could settle on an agreement to carve up the State; but now, having settled on it, they will not release the details of their submissions because they are afraid.
– Order! The honourable senator is straying a little wide of the subject. I have been tolerant with him. He must come back to the matter before the Chair.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman, for showing me the same tolerance as you showed Senator Wood. I. come back to the subject, although I think I have covered it very well. I think I have proved conclusively that the Government’s immigration policy is wrong. In a few months time we will be able to prove to Australia that our policy is right.
– Mr Chairman, 1 wish to make a personal explanation. Senator Keeffe, in his usual way of trying to traduce everybody; said that 1 made a speech asking for Labor Party support for the position of President. 1 want to say that that is a deliberate lie.
– Order! The honourable senator is not permitted to use language of that sort. I suggest that he withdraw the remark.
– A deliberate untruth.
– Mr Chairman, I regret that I must rise on this matter. You asked Senator Wood to withdraw a remark. He has been here long enough to know that he must withdraw without equivocation. He has respect for the Chair; so I suggest that you ask him to withdraw the remark unequivocally.
– I withdraw the remark and say that Senator Keeffe’s statement is totally inaccurate.
- Mr Chairman-
– Mr Chairman, I have been trying to get the call while you have called the last 3 speakers.
– -Order! I have called Senator Bishop.
– I want to add my protest at the way in which the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) has treated the complaint made by Senator Poyser. I understand that the Minister is growling now because he did not receive the call. If there is any reason why he did not receive the call, it is his arrogant attitude on most questions and particularly on this question. He did the same thing with regard to workers compensation. When a reasonable case is presented to him he brushes it aside in a cavalier way, makes alt sorts of offthecuff statements and then wonders why members of the Australian Labor Party protest.
The cheek of some Ministers! They come into the Senate and bring with them a copy of the Australian Labor Party’s platform which they have purchased. Of course, they have an opportunity to read Labor’s policy because it is published. Our policies are made each year at public conferences which anyone may attend. But Ministers come into the Senate chamber and challenge our’ policies when the policies of the Parlies they represent are never known. Their policies are decided behind closed doors and are changing all the time, as I shall demonstrate a little later. The first matter about which 1 protest is the sheer arrogance of the Attorney-General in coming into this place and asking what is Labor’s policy, although he has with him a copy of our policy. Our policy is available for everyone to read. Any honourable senator who does not know what our policy is merely has to look at our platform. He will find that it is a very clear policy.
– Order! If the orchestration would give a little pianissimo we might be able to hear the soloist.
Senator Willesee - Perhaps, Mr Chairman, you should silence the bass drum which is interjecting.
– I agree with Senator Willesee, who very shortly will reply to the wild accusations which were made by Senator Greenwood. I add my protest merely because of 3 important cases which, in my view, are matters of principle and which were referred to by Senator Cavanagh. They are 3 major cases involving racial discrimination by this Government. The first case to which I refer involved a West Indian engineer in London who wanted to come to Melbourne. A job was available for him, but he was refused an assisted passage because he was coloured. Yet he is from a country which is a member of the .Commonwealth, having come from Jamaica, which is one of the very important Caribbean nations. We meet representatives of that country at conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. This was an application by a cultivated man from an accomplished and civilised country, yet he was refused an assisted passage to Australia. The fact is that in Melbourne people raised money to make it possible for him to be brought to Australia.
The second case to which I refer is another one referred to by Senator Cavanagh, in this instance involving the Joseph family whose relatives in Adelaide had come to Australia on assisted passages. For some strange reason the present Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) refuses to grant an assisted passage in this case. Mr Joseph qualifies for an assisted passage in every way other than on the basis nf colour. Again, he is from a country which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and which is one of our partners. The third case is one which was referred to, quite rightly, by Senator Poyser. In this case also the man, who again was from a country which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, was refused an assisted passage because his wife was coloured. Senator Poyser raised this case in the Parliament. I suggest that what the Attorney-General might have done was what other Ministers have done, namely, said that he would take up the case and see what the position was. But instead of this he came in, flashed the Labor Party handbook about and attacked members of the Labor Party. In my opinion, our policy on this matter is clear. When the Government excludes a man merely because he is coloured, that is unjust. The Government has not any electoral support for that. There is not a church organisation in Australia which will support the Government on this action. I suggest that, if the Government reads the record of this public controversy on the 3 cases I have mentioned, it will find that the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Australia react in the same way as the Australian Council of Churches, which condemned the Government for excluding people on the basis of colour. To exclude people on this basis is clearly wrong. While honourable senators opposite are talking about not relaxing conditions relating to colour, year by year, as everybody knows because the figures which have been released show it, the Government is relaxing conditions of entry into Australia of coloured people, including Asians. It would be interesting if the Minister would give us the figures for the last 5 years. The previous Minister, Mr Lynch, released figures which showed clearly that coloured people are coming into Australia. So, if there is any threat to the balance of peoples in Australia, it is the Government which has started it.
But that is not the issue with which I am concerned. I am concerned with an injustice and with correcting the situation, as I am confident it will be corrected as time goes on, to allow people who are coloured to come into Australia on assisted passages. The Government should do this now and certainly should not treat an honourable senator who raises such a case in the way that Senator Greenwood has treated honourable senators. In so doing all the Minister has done is to provoke much emotion and discontent. I base my complaint on the 3 cases to which I have referred. I suggest that the Government should quickly set about changing its policies in relation to these matters because the present policies are unjust. I am quite confident that nobody in the electorate supports the Government in its policy of not assisting people because they are coloured.
– Tonight we have seen one of the greatest retreats in the history of the Australian Labor Party. When I say that, I am talking in terms of the history of a Party which has had many retreats. I think the most recent retreat, which was epoch-making, was when the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, put his leadership on the line in defence of Mr Harradine, who said that there were in the Labor Party friends of the Communists who were likely to influence Labor Party policy. (Opposition senators interjecting)
– Mr Chairman, I have a right to speak in this debate. When Mr Whitlam said that he was prepared to support the Australian Labor Party’s-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Chairman. I would ask you, Sir, to apply the same ruling to the AttorneyGeneral as you applied to Senator Keeffe and ask him to keep within the terms of the debate.
– I would suggest to the Attorney-General that he should keep close to the terms of the debate.
– I was observing your strictures very carefully, Mr Chairman. I was saying, by way of elaborating an argument in defence of what was alleged against me and in defence of -what was alleged against the Government, that we have witnessed a great retreat tonight and to make that point I was about to illustrate the greatest retreat in recent years of the Australian ‘Labor Party when a Mr Harradine said-
– Mr Chairman, generally I do not mind how wide debates range from the subject which is before the Chair, but I think I should point out that it was the Attorney-General who first diverted our attention from the subject which is before the Chair. If you had applied a very strict interpretation, Mr Chairman, to the remarks which were made by the Attorney-General and other honourable senators after that I think you would have had to rule them out of order. I would suggest that although you have asked him to confine his remarks to the subject which is before the Chair the Attorney-General has absolutely defied your request.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr Chairman. Senator Willesee raised no objection to the host of speeches by members of the Australian Labor Party on the subject to which he now takes objection. They roamed far and wide in what they said about Senator Wood and about the fact that I went overseas this year. What that had to do with this debate I do not know. I submit, Sir, that, having showed tolerance to the attacks by members of the Australian Labor Party on the Government, you should in all fairness allow those people who feel they have a right to defend not only themselves but also the Government to respond. The Australian Labor Party, in taking this point of order, is ignoring the latitude which you, in the interests of the Senate, allowed. I suggest it is only right that the Government should have reasonable latitude in the way in which it responds.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr Chairman. Many honourable senators stray from the relevancy of a particular debate during their speeches, which is an offence against the Standing Orders but their offence is often curtailed only when someone raises a point of order. If any honourable senator on this side of the chamber offended against the Standing Orders, the Attorney-General was remiss in his responsibility to the Parliament in not drawing your attention to that offence, Sir. But, because of his weakness and because of his lack of responsibility, he did not do so. It is not proper to say that you, Sir, should not rule in accordance with the Standing Orders when your attention had been quite properly drawn by Senator Willesee to an offence against them. The Attorney-General had not developed his theme very far when he was interrupted. I am wondering whether he was about to speak about the Hazeldean I knew who had some history in the Labor Party but who was not a migrant. If it is the same person and as he is not a migrant it is hard to understand why the AttorneyGeneral should associate him with a debate on the estimates for the Department of Immigration. Of course, if the AttorneyGeneral is speaking about an individual who, no matter what his nationality was, did happen to slip through the controls
– I think you are straying a bit from the terms of the Standing Order which has been raised, Senator Cavanagh.
– I am very much appreciative of your ruling, Mr Chairman. In the hope that you will be just as strict with the Attorney-General, I accept that ruling.
– I wish also to speak to the point of order, Mr Chairman. I submit that the Attorney-General has not gone far enough for you to determine whether he was going to relate his comments on a change of outlook in the Australian Labor Party to a possible change in its immigration policy. My feeling is that the AttorneyGeneral had not proceeded far enough to allow you to judge whether he was straying off the straight and narrow insofar as this debate is concerned. I therefore contend that you should rule that the Attorney-General be given the opportunity to state clearly what he was getting at.
CHAIRMAN - Several points of order have been taken. I have ruled on the earlier points of order which were taken. I now rule in respect to the latest point of order which has been taken. I think honourable senators need to exhibit some degree of restraint in their enthusiasm and emotion. I have allowed several speakers to stray beyond the strict limits of a discussion on the subject of immigration. The debate has switched to a debate on the policies of the Australian Labor Party. I rule that the Attorney-General is in order if he confines his remarks to the context of defending his criticism of the immigration policy of the Australian Labor Party, but it is not in order for him to go beyond the matter of the immigration policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– I thank you for your ruling, Mr Chairman. I assure you that I will respect it. It is difficult in that context to make the point which I really want to make, that is, that the policy of the Australian Labor Party on immigration as set out in its platform has been departed from tonight. To illustrate the enormity of that departure one can only look into history - a relevant, topical history. By drawing from recent history that which is topical and that which strikes a respondent cord within the listeners one is making the point as validly and as strongly as one can. It was for that reason that I was illustrating the history of the Labor Party. What better could one do to make the point that one wants to make than refer to the history of that Party. The great retreat tonight is comparable with what happened in 1968 when the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam - the same man who has talked about this immigration policy now - said of one of the members of his Party, a Mr Harradine, that he was a person whom he would not-
– I rise on a point of order. The Attorney-General is still defying your order, Mr Chairman. Anything related to Mr Whitlam and Mr Harradine has nothing whatever to do with immigration policies. I go further in support of my point of order and say that the AttorneyGeneral and all other honourable senators on the other side of the chamber had every right to raise a point of order, if they so desired, during the earlier part of the debate if something was said to which they took objection.
– I have ruled that the Attorney-General is entitled to connect the point. He has not yet been given the opportunity to connect the point he is making with the immigration policies of the Australian Labor Party.
– I sense that the objections which I am facing are making the point I am endeavouring to sustain of far greater significance than I ever expected it would be, although I knew it to be a point of some significance. What I am simply endeavouring to say is that only 3 years ago - I am using this illustration to make my point as to the sort of retreat involved - when Mr Harradine said that there were friends of the communists in the Labor Party who would silence him Mr Whitlam said: ‘I will not abandon Mr Harradine’.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Chairman. It is in these terms: The Attorney-General is again defying your ruling, Mr Chairman. He is referring to the internal affairs of a Party. His remarks have nothing to do with immigration policy at all.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I think that if the Minister could relate the Communists in the Australian Labor Party to immigrant Communists he could well be speaking on the estimates of the Department of Immigration. But we do not know whether the Communists are Australians or foreigners.
– Order! I appreciate honourable senators efforts to help the Chairman. When I feel that the Minister is out of order I shall call him to order.
– I thank you, Mr Chairman. I trust that I will conform to your ruling and that that occasion will not occur. When we hear the sort of statement in which, as I earlier indicated, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party had made a defence of one of his members, with the consequence that he put his leadership on the line and had an election, one can sense that a retreat of the character which subsequently ensued is a major retreat. That is the sort of point which I am making tonight. Just as members of the Labor Party can retreat from important issues of principle and personality, so they can retreat from issues of policy.
– I rise to order. Mr Chairman, I put to you that what the Minister is relating about the Labor Party organisation is not relevant to the discussion about immigration. His remarks have no connection with immigration at all. The Minister is putting up a case which is related to Labor Party organisation and the alleged influence on the Labor Party of Mr Whitlam. They are disconnected matters. They are quite separate. I suggest that you should not allow them. On 3 occasions the Minister has made a stab at these matters. Obviously he is not only intent upon dishonouring the Chair but also on defying honourable senators.
– Mr Chairman, I thought I heard you say that you would allow the Minister to continue to talk and that you would stop him when you thought he said something wrong. May I request that honourable senators contain themselves and wait until you tell the Minister that he has gone too far?
– May I ask you, Mr Chairman, to reflect upon your ruling to save the Senate the indignity of what is proceeding at the present time when the Minister is engaging in a speech which is completely irrelevant because it is not connected to the debate?
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– I have asked the Chairman to reflect upon his ruling.
– You are reflecting on the Chairman.
– I will allow the Chairman to decide whether I am reflecting on him. I am merely saying that because certain irrelevancies have crept into this debate over the past hour or so - no_ matter who was responsible for them - they ought not to continue. If the Minister is not prepared to exercise restraint perhaps the Chair ought quickly to bring him to order and ask him to define clearly to which line of the Estimates he is addressing himself. I suggest that unless we dis cipline ourselves in this way we will find that this Estimates debate will continue well into next week and the week after.
– Order! I know that honourable senators are trying to assist the Chair but I think that we will get along a lot better in this debate if honourable senators do not give the impression that they are trying to impede the speaker. I shall determine when the Minister is out of order. There can be no other way in which this debate can proceed. At the same time, I appeal to the Minister to come more quickly to the relevance of his point.
- Mr Chairman, I thank you for your ruling and for your indication. (Extension of time granted) Part of the tactic of the Australian Labor Party has been revealed by what has just expired. On this Committee debate any honourable senator has 15 minutes in which te speak. If points of order are taken they can occupy the 15 minutes.
– I rise to order. I am asking you, Mr Chairman, to give a ruling. Again the Minister has started in a provocative manner. It has upset this chamber. No work is being done. I ask you whether I have the right to move that the Committee adjourn until the Minister composes himself.
– Order! The honourable senator has no such right.
– Mr Chairman, I am in your hands for the conduct not only of my speech but also of the Senate. Even though we on this side have listened incessantly to what honourable senators opposite have said a time must come when we, on our side, can have our say. We have seen the tactic of honourable senators opposite taking points of order for some 15 minutes with the result that but for the action of my colleague Senator Wood a point of view would not be allowed to be heard. Still, the point of view can be expressed. If I were to put this matter on a level to which I do not think I should aspire I could say that still the truth of the matter cannot be denied. What we have heard tonight is a retreat by the Labor Party, from the policy which is set out in its ‘Platform Constitution and Rules’ to which, without exception, without qualification and without excuse every member of the Australian Labor Party is bound to adhere.
One of the strongest objectors to what I have been saying is an honourable senator who, for some 7 to 8 years was the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party. He. above all others, should know the truth of what 1 am saying. Why 1 say there has been a retreat from the Labor Party rules is that there has been a refusal to meet up to what honourable senators opposite were asked to challenge. How did this issue arise? It arose because Senator Poyser, a member of the Austraiian Labor Party, accused the Government of having an immigration policy which was based on racial discrimination. 1, as the person representing the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) denied that we had a racial policy. I denied that we had a policy which would properly be described as a policy based on racial discrimination. I said quite fairly - this was before the suspension of the sitting for dinner - that if the Labor Party and Senator Poyser say that the Government has a racial policy what would the Australian Labor Party do in a comparable situation?
I invite the attention of the Australian Labor Party lo its own platform. For more than an hour we have been listening to speeches by members of the Australian Labor Party. Not one of them has been prepared to explain the contradictions, the difficulties and the inherent problems in their own policy. It was for that reason - wilh some difficulty, I must confess - ‘hat I was saying that the Australian Labor Party had engaged in as great a retreat on this night as Mr Whitlam, as Leader of the Australian Labor Party, engaged in when put* ing his leadership on the line to defend Mr Harradine. Mr Whitlam did not have the numbers so he abandoned Mr Harradine and even now that man is not allowed to attend a Federal Council meeting of the Australian Labor Party. Why should I use that example? It is one of many examples one can draw from the history of the Australian Labor Party of how its members say one thing one day and precisely the opposite the next day. The Australian people are entitled to something better from a Party which puts itself up as the alternative government of Australia.
What does its policy say which honourable senators opposite will not explain? This is an area about which we are entitled to an explanation. As distinct from other parties members of the Australian Labor Party are bound by every letter of what is contained in their platform because it is their policy. I ask them to explain part of their policy to me. I accept Senator Keeffe’s point about its being a policy ‘administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance’. The Labor Party’s platform states that it shall be a policy which shall have regard, amongst other things, to this factor:
The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.
I understand that. I think all honourable senators understand it. lt is the attitude and the approach adopted by the Government, lt is the approach which the Labor Party has followed, I think, for more years than this Government has. It is the policy enunciated by Mr Daly, the Labor Party’s spokesman on immigration for man) years, ft is the policy on which the Labor Parly went to countless elections. It is a policy, in other words, which is clearly understandable.
We want a country, a people, which is not rent by the divisiveness which has characterised a host of other countries. That is not being racialist because we do not shut our doors to people of other colours, of other nationalities and of other skins. We do admit them. But we say to them that we want them to help our development; that we want them to assimilate in our own community. In that way we arc no different from Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia - all the other countries which have a similar immigration policy. That, Mr Chairman, is understandable. Then I ask: How does the Labor Party reconcile this part of its platform with that particular paragraph which, after months of controversy, it inserted in its platform at its annual conference this year. That paragraph is as follows:
The avoidance of discrimination on any grounds of race or colour of skin or nationality.
Which of those two principles is to be paramount? Are we to have an avoidance of discrimination irrespective of what might be the impact on our national wellbeing and on our homogeneity of population, or is the homogeneity of population to be the pre-eminent consideration? 1 hope it is the latter. But we have people like Senator Poyser and Senator Keeffe aided of course by the silence of Senator Willesee, who is the Labor Party’s spokesman on immigration, and people like Senator Cavanagh and others, getting up and taking the view that the Government’s policy is wrong because it is racialist, when all we are saying is that we will not give assisted passages to people wanting to come here if they are not of European descent. If that criticism is valid the Labor Party ought to say where it stands on this issue. Does the Labor Party say that it would change this policy of the Government which it is criticising? We have not heard that from Mr Daly, albeit he has been dismissed from his position as shadow Minister for Immigration. We have not heard it from Mr Whitlam or from Senator Willesee, but we have heard it from Senator Poyser - or have we heard it from Senator Poyser?
All I say is that these are areas upon which the Australian Labor Party is seeking to delude the Australian people. These are the areas upon which the Labor Party is seeking to have something each way. These are the areas upon which the Labor Party will not give a fair and square answer to the Australian people.
– 1 rise to a point of order, if the Minister was not irrelevant before he most certainly is now. I ask you, Mr Chairman, to give thought to my point of order. I also ask, while I am on my feet, at what stage I can move that the Committee shall report progress.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Your point of order is not upheld.
– I now ask at what stage I can move that the Committee shall report progress. Can I move that motion at this time?
– All I will say is that nothing could be more clearly demonstrated than that, by the taking of points of order, the Labor Party seeks to avoid the facts that it does not want portrayed with the starkness and the truth which comes just from using the words which it uses. I believe that the immigration policy which this Government has followed for the last 22 years, backed by the Australian Labor Party for the last 20 years - a policy which after all was initiated by the Austraiian Labor Party - has served Australia well. Its greatest feature has been its bipartisanship and the growth which it has permitted to Australians. Now what do we find? We find that there is a coterie of people within the Labor Party who believe that we can change that policy contrary to the wishes of the Australian people. I believe that that ought to be made significantly clear to the people of Australia.
– 1 raise a point of order. I wish to direct your attention, Mr Chairman, to standing order 279 on page 36 of the Senate Standing Orders, lt states:
A Motion may be made at any time during the proceedings of a Commi.tee ‘That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.’
My point of order is that your ruling in respect of the advice sought by Senator Georges was incorrect and inconsistent with this standing order.
– Speaking to the point of order, there is a standing order, I understand, which states that a senator shall not be interrupted except for certain purposes, and this particular purpose is not one of them.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)The point of order is not upheld. An honourable senator cannot interrupt a speaker to move that progress be reported.
– I say once again that the tactic so well expressed by members of the Australian Labor Party, who have lived with this tactic in their extra-parliamentary organisations for so many years, is not the sort of tactic which can prevail in an assembly of people which is open for scrutiny and which is ruled over dispassionately by you, Mr Chairman. All I say is that if the members of the Australian Labor Party are prepared to indicate quite clearly where they stand on these issues which were raised in this debate intially by Senator Poyser, not only will I be informed but I am sure that the people of Australia will be greatly benefited. Where does the Labor Party stand on its policy with regard to immigration? Is its policy the policy of Mr Daly?
Is it the policy of Mr Dunstan? ls it the policy of Mr Whitlam? Or was what was aid by Mr Young, the Federal Secretary Of that Party, on ‘Monday Conference’ some 2 months ago, true: ‘It is a policy (hat we do not. have to explain until we get into government’?
– There are one or two things I would like to say about ‘.he comments made by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) before 1 refer to the debate proper. Firstly he said that the Australian Labor Party was trying to cut out his speaking time. I interjected, but he did not listen to me, and said that I was quite willing to intervene in order to let him continue. He should have been here long enough to have seen me do this on many occasions. I believe what Voltaire believed: Although I may not agree with what a person says 1 will defend with my life his right to say it. Secondly, the Minister referred to my silence. I point out that I rose twice but I gave way to him because he is the Minister. He would have heard me earlier had he been a little more patient. I have to ask you, Mr Chairman, to be very tolerant with me because I want to talk about the Australian Labor Party’s policy, those factors as they impinge on the Government’s policy, and some of the remarks of Senator Greenwood. Of course, none of those things are before the Seriate for consideration tonight. They have nothing to do with the estimates that we should be debating. So I ask for your indulgence in that regard, Mr Chairman.
This afternoon, Senator Mulvihill, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party moved, without heat or recrimination, for an all-part)’ committee to have a look at the Australian immigration situation. Members of the Australian Labor Party who spoke in the debate made this plea in an unheated way. We did not throw in all those psychological things which impinge upon the thoughts and- conscience of every member of Parliament from day to day. We merely asked - I hope in a very dignified manner - that that examination be carried out. That motion was defeated. We accept that. The Minister - he is not the Minister for Immigration but merely the Minister representing the Minister - chose to revert to type in this debate instead of dealing with the estimates. Senator Poyser put a very specific situation before the Minister. As Senator Bishop has rightly said, any other Minister during the years that I have been here has automatically said: ‘If you have a personal problem, that is, a problem dealing with something which may be better put before the Department, and if you will let me have the details I will certainly give you an answer’.
– I said that too.
– Yes, you did, and then you chose to come back and start a manufactured attack, a very untrue attack and distorted the truth in relation to the Australian Labor Party’s policy. On my unoffending head came down the criticism that we did not know whether the policy was Mr Daly’s or Senator Willesee’s; we did not know whether it was Mr Whit lam’s or somebody else’s. Without trying to add to the heat of this debate, I say that it is not very important whether it is the policy of Mr Daly or Senator Willesee because when we become a government there is no certainty that Mr Daly or Senator Willesee will even be walking around on this earth. Unlike my young friend I do not play God. I do not try to forecast what will happen. I do not try to pontificate from very great heights. 1 do not even know what tomorrow will bring forth in this strange old world in which we live. But the important thing is that it is an Australian Labor Party policy, lt is an Australian Labor Party policy which is laid down in public, which has been approached on the broadest possible base by the broadest based party in Australia.
But you chose gratuitously to throw those names in and you exacerbated the situation tonight. You have deliberately forsaken the job which is yours, to defend and to explain the estimates, and have gone out on a rampage and a line of abuse which is completely unworthy of you. I have tolerated you for -a long time. I have tried to encourage you in this place. I am getting a little sick of arrogant pontification pouring down on this chamber. You have had many chances. The Australian Labor Party, because it realised that you did show some promise when you came into this place, has given you every chance and every opportunity, and you have prostituted everyone of them. You would have been the first to scream if the people on this side of the chamber had introduced a debate on Hughes versus McMahon, or Killen versus McMahon or on Gorton versus McMahon, or the 30 people in this party versus McMahon.
– Or Bury.
– Or Bury versus McMahon. You would have been the first to say that this had nothing to do with the immigration situation. Yet you bring in a matter that is 10 years old and something which happened in our Party some time ago. You would have been the first to squeal if we had done that sort of thing. I would have been the first to try to stop anybody on our side making the initial move of introducing such a debate. You quoted from Labors platform. I am sorry that I cannot quote from yours, because it is not a written one. Labor’s platform on immigration and on every other issue, both at the Launceston conference and every other conference, is discussed in open session. Even you can come in and listen if you feel so inclined. The radio, the television and the Press are there. Every word, every aside, every argument, everything we do is in open session for the whole of Australia to see. We do this because we find that if we base our party on democracy we have to practise democracy. Do you not think it would suit us at times to exclude the Press? Do you not think that at times this has become slightly embarrassing to us? Of course it has, but we believe that this sort of thing has to be swallowed with the whole of the fruit. In the long run it is better for the Australian Labor Party; in the long run it is better for Australia itself.
The genius of the Liberal Party - which you are displaying - is to be able to squib at every election time the result of its last 3 years in government. It has been a genius of dodging what it has done over the 3 years, putting up a situation of hate and of fear, accusing the Labor Party of what might happen if it docs certain things. The Government asks where is the money coming from and talks about petrol rationing. Now it says we want to open the flood gates and all sorts of coloured people will be around the place. The Government knows perfectly well that this is not what it believes. It knows that that is not the situation, but it knows that the best way to win elections is to avoid standing up to its stewardship by trying to put the blame and the fear onto other people. The typical Liberal Party response is to avoid responsibility and to blame Labor. You have chosen tonight to ‘bring in the whole question of colour. You have reiterated it and it would never have been raised had it not been for you.
While you are asking us to explain things, I will ask you to explain something. 1 would like the Minister to show some courtesy by listening to me if it is not too much trouble. If we are talking about the question of coloured immigration - you talked about homogeneity in Australia - would you explain to me why the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, when he was in Singapore, which is a very receptive place to make this sort of statement, said that we were moving towards a multiracial nation in Australia? There has been no explanation of that. There was a monastic like silence in the Liberal Party when Mr Gorton said that publicly in Singapore. I wonder why would he say a thing like that. We have been talking today about how the Australian Labor Party will supposedly let down the flood gates. I believe the reason that Mr Gorton made this statement is that, being a realist, he saw that in 1966 the number of non-European people coming into Australia was 3,418 while in 1969 the number was 9,410. Being shown those figures Mr Gorton believed that the Liberal’ Parly was moving surreptitiously towards a multi-racial nation in Australia. There are more non-Europeans coming in today under a Liberal Party administration than there ever has been in modern history. Was this policy aired in public? Was it laid down in the presence of the Press, television or the radio, and was the public able to walk in and listen to the debates? No, it was surreptitiously sneaked in inch by inch. There was merely an announcement made in 1966 by the then Minister for Immigration that there would be some changes that we would not be so racial in the future, and everybody applauded that. Then suddenly the Government triples the number in 3 years and says in effect: ‘We are the people who are going to destroy the homogeneity of Australia’.
The Government has talked a lot about what happened at Launceston. I know a little about it. I was chairman of the committee which made the recommendations!
The committee consisted mainly of members of the House of Representatives who talked about these things, and the thing that they put up time and time again was that in their electorates they were absolutely ashamed of the situation whereby migrants were being brought into Australia and treated as second class citizens. They were being formed into ghettos; they could not get housing; their children could not get proper schooling, and all the rest of it. So we wrote into our policy as an instruction, as a guideline to a Labor Minister for Immigration, whoever he might be and whether he is a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives, the following:
The basis of such policy shall include the capacity lo provide employment, housing, education and social services.
The Government has not looked at the base that we laid down over 20 years ago. In its great rush it has never amended or examined this situation and it is pouring people into the capital cities. There arc far more migrants who come to live in capital cities than Australians who are born in them. The Minister will see that if he looks at the figures. That is why wc wrote that provision into our policy. The point of the avoidance of discrimination on any ground of race, colour of skin or nationality was in at the direction of the Conference. Why did the Conference look at a situation such as that? There is no doubt that Senator Poyser is right. There are rads: policies in the Liberal Party programme. One has been pointed out.
Today, if an Australian goes to New Zealand to visit or to live, whatever his racial background - whether he be of Chinese. Malay or any other extraction - if he has an Australian visa he can enter that country, walk in, lay his visa down and live there with his wife and children, with no questions being asked. What does Australia do in return for this? We say to New Zealanders, our nearest neighbours and our kin: ‘We will accept you if you are white. We wilt accept you if you are Maori. But, if you are of any other ethnic background, you are out. We want you to obtain a visa even if you want only to visit Australia’.
– Would the honourable senator’s Party change that?
– Yes. my Party would change that. My word, my Party would change that. These are the sorts of things that drove the necessity for change home to us. It is not the numbers that we are talking about. Over the last 20 years, we have seen that with sickening monotony, every now and again, the Government kicks someone out of this country. Why does it do this? It is because his skin is a different colour from that of most Australians. The Government kicks such a person out on no other ground. It is not the numbers. In cases such as these I just mentioned, that charge will not damage us. That is not opening the floodgates. I am talking of the case of an individual or an individual with his wife. Australia becomes known as a racist nation throughout South East Asia and to the west coat of America. Why was it that when the Prime Minister recently arrived in America one of the first questions he was asked was: Do you come from a racist nation’? These are the things that are doing more damage to Australia’s image overseas than is any other single thing we do. We are’ not talking in terms of thousands of people. If the Government kicked out thousands of people, perhaps we could understand the position. But, as I say, one can almost bet that, if a quarter passes, when the Minister for Immigration is not under pressure in regard to these matters, without our being written up in the South East Asian Press, something has gone wrong.
– Would your Part change it?
– The Minister should just be quiet. I am sick of his arrogance.
– I am asking whether your Party will change it.
– I am sick of the Minister’s arrogance; he should just be quiet. I find nothing difficult about the points in the policy of the Australian Labor Party that he has raised. People can come and try to pick up every point in this over-sensitive area. Of course, people can nit-pick. Of course, they can scratch, snarl and be arrogant about it. The fact is that although the Australian Labor Party does not care which people we bring into this country - I have said this in public - it will not bring them in in numbers that will upset the normal balance that we all know so well. That is written into our Party’s policy, lt was read out by Senator Greenwood and he agreed with it. That applies whether the people be black, white, brindle, Eskimos or anybody else. Of course, we will not do that. I know of nobody in the Liberal Party, nobody in the Democratic Labor Party, nobody in the Country Party and certainly nobody in the Australian Labor Party who wants to let down the floodgates. But the moment we try to amend something, to take the racism out of our policy or to make any suggestion that this great white god of immigration can be touched, it is claimed that we will let down the floodgates, or that we will let all sorts of people enter Australia. From time to time-
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise- merely to enable the spokesman on immigration for the Australian Labor Party to continue his remarks, drawing his attention, as 1 do so, to the fact that the Senate, the Government and the people of Australia would be interested to hear his reconciliation of 2 paragraphs in his Party’s platform. The first is: ‘The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures’. The next is: ‘The avoidance of discrimination on any grounds of race or colour of skin or nationality’. I am sure that if he could explain that clearly we all would be the better informed. That was the sole point of my rising to speak at an earlier stage.
– Mr Chairman, your tolerance amazes me. I thank the Minister for the first part of his remarks, and I admire your tolerance in allowing him to make a speech while merely intervening for the sake of allowing me to continue. I will deal with the point he raised. I was at the point of saying that 1 know of nobody who wants to talk about letting down the floodgates. From time to time this Government has said that for a period it has to lay off allowing certain southern European peoples to enter Australia because in the whirl of things - I do not blame anybody for this; it can easily happen when the Government is bringing in more than 100,000 people a year - it starts to bring in too many people of one race, i applaud that action. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The Australian Labor Party does not want in this country anyone who will not be an asset to this country. It does not want anybody to come to this country and not be happy here, lt does not want a system of immigration under which one in every 4 people are returning to their homeland because they become disgusted and disgruntled with this country. They are some of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party wants to do something to examine the whole of the immigration policy. Above all, we do not want Australia’s name smeared as a racist nation with, as I say, the embarrassing frequency with which it is occurring at present.
Senator Negus interjected tonight during Senator Bishop’s speech. He is not the first one to do this, and I do not isolate him. He called out during Senator Bishop’s speech: ‘Do you want an English situation?’ Mr Chairman, do you think that when we were examining the policy - we made some alterations , to the policy at Launceston - we were not aware of what the English situation was? Of course we were aware of it. I say to you, Mr Chairman, and to the people who are listening that, if the very brief guidelines as laid down in the Australian Labor Party’s policy are followed, it is a sheer impossibility to get a situation such as that existing in England. That is why we devised it this way - so that we just could not get that situation under the Labor policy.
The Minister keeps interjecting and asking about these 2 points. There is the avoidance of the difficulty and the avoidance of discrimination. I have explained to him what pushed this on to our policy. I do not believe that there ever was this racism in the Australian Labor Party. When this policy was advanced it was advanced because people were confronted with the situation that we were being smeared because the Government kicked somebody out of Australia. The clincher was the New Zealand situation. How the Minister can stand here and justify what we are doing in the case of New Zealand is absolutely beyond me. New Zealand is our nearest neighbour. It gives us everything, s a good neighbour should. Yet the Government turns around and says: Tfes, as long as people entering Australia are not of another ethnic group, they can come to Australia’. We have the situation of Mr Waishing who came to Australia recently. The Minister for Immigration tried to pounce on him. He told the Minister to jump in the lake. The Minister did nothing about it. The Attorney-General, the great law and order man, did not pursue him and put him in the courts because he knew he was on such weak ground that he Would not be able to pursue the matter. I do not see anything wrong with this policy. The Minister agrees with the first part which states that we wilt not allow an influx of any one group. An influx does not mean one person or 10 people. This policy means that the position will be prevented from getting out of plumb. As I say, this would be done whether it involved Eskimos or anyone else.
I wish the Minister would look at the Canadian situation where virtually a rule of law is laid down, lt is not a rule of some immigration officer looking at a case. There is a rule of law laying down the various points. Points are given for each degree. A point is given if a person has a job in the country.
– ls that what the Australian Labor Party will do?
– I am sick of the Minister interjecting. I am not saying we will do this. The Minister has that silly, arrogant expression on his face. You ought to bc ashamed of yourself. Why do you nol stand up for your own policy? Do not start your arrogant interjecting as to what I. will do and what I will not do. I am telling you that the Government does not lay down a rule of law and that the Canadian .situation is one al which the Government should look because Canada does lay down a rule of Utw. Canada does not let things go haphazardly. All I am saying - there i> nothing wrong with this - is that we will set up a situation so that when it comes lo the final crunch we will consider applications on various grounds, as the Government does and as the Canadians do. Included in those grounds will be whether the applicant has relatives in this country, whether he has a skill that we require and whether we have too many of that racial origin coming in at the time. In the final analysis we will not say: ‘Yes, we accept you on everything else but because you are Coloured - we can see a little bit of colour behind your ears - you are out’. That is the thing that we will not say.
Probably the most important thing that the Minister overlooked in our policy is the introduction, where we say that we will do something with sympathy, tolerance and understanding. Although Senator Greenwood is only the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, I regret the way in which he handles this sensitive portfolio. The Government will always have difficulties in administering the Department of Immigration because the Department is not handling lumps of wood, it is not in the post office parcelling items and saying: ‘Put them in a bag and send them here or there”. The Department is dealing with human lives. It is dealing with people who are uprooting themselves from other parts of the world. I have often looked with admiration at those people. 1 do not think that I would like to sell my home and take my wife and family to live in another part of the world. These people have the greatest courage. Obviously they have difficulties, because they are human beings, and that is why the Government must always have a tolerance and an understanding. That is why I have such a tremendous admiration for the employees of the Department of Immigration, lt is not an easy Commonwealth department to run. The Government will always have to face problems of this kind. Unless it does so with sympathy and understanding, unless it takes bigotry and bias out of its heart, the Government will get into more trouble than is necessary. What this portfolio requires and what this whole subject requires are sympathy and understanding and not. Senator Greenwood, narrow, pontificating arrogance and an hysterical avoidance of a very great national issue.
– One of the advantages of debates in the Committee of the Whole Ls that following Senator Willesee, who speaks wilh authority in the name of the Australian Labor Party, I can take up the points which he has raised with a view to having them clarified. I speak only because I seek clarification. I think that when he interprets that part of the platform of the Australian Labor Party which refers to the avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures, he speaks in the language with which the Government currently administers its policy. We believe that Australia’s best interests are served by maintaining the homogeneity of our existing population, but not in such a way that people may not migrate here, may not be accepted as full citizens and may not be ranked as equals.
Because we adopt that policy I believe that we are entitled to say that we are not following a racial policy. We do admit people of different colours, different skins and different nationalities to add to the original Australians who are of a different skin to the majority of Australians who are here at present. That, I believe, is a policy which most people in Australia accept. It is not a policy which should be categorised as racial, because it is the kind of policy which most countries follow. There are very few countries which have no limitations whatever on immigration. The point which I feel the Government is being assailed upon and which I initially rose to defend is that we are adopting a racial policy.
– So you are.
– What Senator Poyser said is quite clear in my mind. What Senator Cavanagh just said by way of interjection is quite clear in my mind. He said: ‘So you are’. Senator Poyser said that we are maintaining a racial policy. It was good enough for the Government and the Australian Labor Parly to have common cause in relation to this matter over the last 20 years. It was that common cause which made our immigration policy so acceptable. I regret that a difference of opinion has come into this area. Senator Willesee - I say this with deference to him because 1 respect his ability and his position - has not really addressed himself to the problems which the ALP platform creates for any member of the Australian Labor Party. Senator Poyser and Senator Cavanagh addressed themselves to it. They know quite well what the platform means to them. They know that no matter what the situation is there shall be no racial discrimination and, therefore, any person from another country who wants to migrate here shall not be denied entry because to do so would be to involve him in racial discrimination. If Senator Poyser or Senator Cavanagh differs from me in my interpretation will he now say so? I will not oppose what is contrary to the Standing Orders - their interjection.
– I do.
– They did not interject.
– You did not give us much time. What you need is a rest for 10 minutes, as I have been telling you.
– I gave both senators, who were present in the chamber, the opportunity to interject. Mr Chairman, you allowed me to be disorderly by asking them to do so. They had a clear opportunity, but they did not take it.
– I did.
– I ask Senator Willesee to respond to what I have to say and explain to me, if his Party intends, to limit the number of people coming into Australia - he said that a government must be able to do that because there cannot be an influx, and after all the policy of his Party says that there shall not be an influx - how it will do that. Will it be on the basis that a person of European descent seeking to come to Australia and a person from Malaysia, China or the Philippines seeking to come to Australia shall be treated as equals or will there be a preference for people of European descent, as the Government has stated and for which the Government must take responsibility - and we are taking responsibility for it - or is it on some other basis? These are the unresolved issues. These are issues which I have raised only because - let this be quite understood - at an earlier stage in the debate Senator Poyser accused the Government of having a racial policy. If he makes that accusation I will be unceasing in my defence of the Government, believe me. 1 think the Australian Labor Party should put its colours on the line and say where it stands.
– Mr Chairman-
– I hope you give a better explanation than your spokesman.
– lt would be difficult to satisfy the honourable senator who interjected. Let us see whether he can understand this plain statement. Three times I have asked the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who has the responsibility, to explain why the total amount appropriated last year was not expended. 1 have not received an answer. Obviously we cannot approve this year’s appropriation if the Minister will not give information on the only question which has been asked in the last hour and which dealt with these particular estimates. Only one question has been raised on these particular estimates and the Minister did not justify the failure to expend the total appropriation last year. He was unable to explain this and to overcome the criticism of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts. He is at the stage now of challenging the Australian Labor Party to do the replying and to justify its policy. We are considering the estimates for the Department of Immigration. The Minister has to justify the expenditure. He has said: Forget my responsibility. Forget my duties. You tell us what your policy is’. We have just heard one of the best explanations of Labor’s immigration policy. It was given in a brilliant fashion by the Labor Party’s shadow Minister.
– I think we would agree with that.
– Senator Webster could not understand it unless it were put in the simplest form. When we go beyond the wool clip and the cow bails we go beyond the depths of Senator Webster’s understanding. Senator Greenwood had himself in such a state that he could not listen rationally to any speech. He then challenged someone on this side to say what our policy was. It was obvious from his reply that he was not listening to what had been said.
Then he distorted what Senator Poyser and I said in the debate. What we have said and what Senator Willesee has stated is that- Labor’s policy will not be determined on the- colour of a person’s skin. There shall be no racial discrimination. He has made it quite clear that our policy will not be an open door one for persons of white skin, yellow skin or black skin. We believe in a selective immigration policy by which Australia has the right to select its migrants. The Government’s policy today is one of selective migration. By this policy the skills that Australia requires are selected. Those that have the skills that Australia requires receive assisted passages to come to Australia provided that they are European and were born in a European country - and provided, as Senator Willesee said, that there is not a black spot behind their ears.
The fact is that certain people, although they have the skills that Australia requires and although they are not a threat to our standard of Jiving or to our culture, nevertheless cannot get into Australia no matter how desperate our shortage of a particular skill, on an assisted passage under - the administration - not the policy - of this Government, because the Government is racist. That is the only expression that 1 can use. It is very clear from the answer that is recorded in Hansard that it is not the policy of the Government to give assisted passages to other than European migrants. Therefore a distinction is drawn as to benefits received from our immigration policy on the basis of colour of skins.
Labour has said that this will not be so under its policy. There will not be an open door for everyone. Labor will select its migrants according to the requirements of the country. The Leader of our Party has the belief that the most urgent need for the country today in accepting migrants is to re-unite families. We are just as interested in people as we are in development. One in 4 migrants is leaving Australia this year. This problem will be overcome by reuniting migrants who have been accepted in Australia with relatives from overseas. Migrants admitted under the present Government’s policy will be more beneficial to the country if they are re-united here with their families. The selection of migrants under a Labor government in the immediate future will be based on the numbers we need, with first preference of selection going to those nominated by Australian citizens. From the figures given during the Press conference held by our Leader and our shadow minister for immigration we find - and this is by coincidence only, I think - thai this policy will bring fewer Asian migrants in I he immediate future than have entered under the policy of the present Government.
If the desire of a family is to bring into Australia a relative, the assistance to be afforded to the intending migrant will nol be determined on the colour of the skin of that individual. This is the whole point. There shall be no discrimination under Labors policy on the basis of nationality or colour. This has been sufficiently explained, lt must he clear by now but here is a Minister determined to carry on these arguments and who believes that there is some point in raising the question of Labor’s policy. Let me say this: The policy of the Labor Party, as Senator Willesee said, is a policy acceptable to the Australian people. Because our policy is acceptable to the Australian public, the acceptance of it can be upset and reversed only by the type of distortion thai the Minister has made great effort lo achieve tonight by saying that our policy is an open door one to admit all migrants and to create the same problems that the United Stales of America and Great Britain face.
– Could you reconcile (hose 2 paragraphs that T quoted? You may be able to. because you are interested in those matters.
– If I have not explained our policy to you today it is because you are - the only member who docs not understand it.
– No, he is not.
– 1 never expected that I would convince Senator Greenwood or Senator Webster of anything about which their prejudices would not permit them ‘ to be convinced. The stage has been reached where a debate which was virtually completed before the suspension of the sitting at 6 p.m. is continuing now because of an unfortunate reply from the Minister. We had hoped to rush through the debate on these estimates. Now it still continues at 4 minutes to 10. The estimates of 2 more departments are yet to be conducted through the Committee by (his Minister with his habit of corrupting the Senate. On Tuesday of this week. Senator Buttfield asked a question as to when the Senate would rise for the coming recess. She expressed concern about her Christmas goose; 1 suggest that her goose may live for a longer period than she expected. Let me say this: The Labor Party makes no apologies for its policy. Its policy has been brought up to date this year. This is the policy that we have accepted. The Minister has driven his own supporters from the Committee. Everyone is sick and tired of the arrogance of this Minister and of his behaviour noi only on this question but also on every question for which he has ministerial responsibility.
– Many of us. since the Committee resumed tonight, have looked in amazement al the way in which Senator Greenwood has added fuel to the flames. Despite the extremely lucid explanation that Senator Willesee has given, I think that one or two points still remain unanswered. At least, from the interjections of the Minister that appears to be the case. When the Minister commenced his tirade of abuse this evening, the general idea was: The Labor Party has virtually had an alliance with the Government on immigration matters for 22 years; suddenly the new leaders of the Party are virtually on a path to treason. Senator Willesee took the Minister on about relations, wilh our ANZUS partner, New Zealand, whose Conservative Prime Minister is one of the o!d straightbacks. Those who heard him in action at a luncheon here will recall that he advanced an idea concerning Cook Islanders. Whatever is the effectiveness or otherwise of out Estimates committees, I would like the Minister to table any communications horn or any minutes of discussions with the New Zealand Prime Minister or any of his deputies on this matter. I say that deliberately because, if the Minister questions our motives and alleges that under our policy brown hordes will be entering Australia, why does he not indict the Prime Minister of New Zealand on this basis? 1 do nol say that we have a copyright on humanity. But the remarkable thing is that the whole of the argument that the Minister has advanced tonight is that the Labor Party has some weird approach to the matter of immigration. If the New Zealand Prime Minister, who is not a socialist, is advancing the cause of Cook Islanders, why does not the Minister be honest about this? If he recognises the right of the Prime Minister of New Zealand to put a different point of view why does he question our policy? The reason is that an elec;ion is close and the
Minister is prostituting this immigration cause for blatant electioneering purposes. There is no other word for what he is doing.
I suppose that’ until 5.55 tonight the officers who sit behind the Minister had a very good impression of the Committee. But then the Minister and one or two of his colleagues indulged in this crude electioneering. I heard Enoch Powell speak in the House of Commons. Hearing the remarks from honourable members opposite. 1 thought, that he was being reincarnated in the Committee. 1 do not think it reflected any credit on them at all.
A lot of scars will not have healed when we resume proceedings next week. The usual plea will be made for cooperation but from now to election day in every consultation with a Minister we will have to say: ‘Do 1 go this far or do I try to trap him?’ I do not necessarily indict Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and other senators opposite but I say quite candidly that efforts have been made to lay down guidelines. If 1 wanted to be offensive - and I do not - I could have taunted the Minister about his faceless men. At least at our conference at Launceston we established where our Party stands. Next weekend the New South Wales Council will be issuing releases about interim matters concerning immigration, current campaigns, and trade union attitudes. By Monday this will all be common knowledge. But who knows where the- supreme Federal Council of the Liberal Party stands?
You cannot have the essence of democracy both ways. If we are prepared to run the gauntlet of public criticism obviously that is the essence of democracy. If the Government persists in pulling 3-card tricks, it is not good enough. When it has issued challenges to us we have accepted them. I give the Minister credit for incorporating in Hansard my celebrated letter to the editor of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, lt is there in Hansard for all Hansard subscribers to read. But apart from that, the Minister is very persistent with his challenges. I am not too familiar with the Standing Orders of the Senate but I have been prompted to wonder whether Senator Greenwood is as game as a former illustrious senator who became Prime Minister. One night he came into the chamber with log books of VIP flights and threw them down on the table. If Senator Greenwood wants to emulate that performance he will enter the Senate next Tuesday and produce the minutes of discussions with the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I would love to see the private notes made by the officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I know that the faces of honourable senators opposite would be red, not ours.
I do nol want Australia to engage in military adventures in the Pacific area, or for that matter in South East Asia, but there is not the slightest doubt that there will come a time for a diplomatic victory. You will make another move like the move that was made in 1968. lt would not matter whether the winds of change were blowing through the ranks of- the Labor Party. Generally, the Labor Party is the pacesetter, whether in office or in opposition. Honourable senators opposite will remember when Mr Opperman, a former Minister for Immigration, made his historical utterance in Canberra about 3 years ago. 1 wonder what Government supporters would have said if our Leader Mr Whitlam or any other Labor supporter had said to Mr Opperman what Senator Ian Wood said tonight. You would have said that we were prostituting a very important function.
Looking back, I am not sure that we would have qualified it if Mr Whitlam had wanted lo play politics. We went along with the Government, but what has been the result? We have had all these taunts thrown at us here tonight. Honourable senators opposite talk about self-discipline. Whether it is Senator Poyser or any other Opposition senator, we lay it on the line pretty hard, but I can assure the Minister that at least 3 of his colleagues could have isolated the issue. But he was not satisfied. I do not object personally, and I do not think Senator Poyser objects if the Minister wants to come back to a matter, point by point. However, the fact is the Minister saw what he thought was a golden opportunity to gain electoral dividends. I know that he goes around addressing youth groups. If he imagines that the Labor
Parly is lon far in front of public opinion he has matte a bad assessment. I have visited church youth groups of about 10 denominations and I have found that over 90 per cent of them think that the Labor Parly i> a little hesitant. I hate to think what they would say about some of the Government’s supporters tonight.
There has been one remarkable feature of this debate. At times T have engaged in some celebrated safaris in the debates on the adjournment motion. On one memorable night Senator Cavanagh and Senator McManus joined me. I will never forget that night. Three of us hammered away on the theme of our future attitude to Asian migrants. We are looking forward with relish lo the next election. I am rather inclined to think that when it comes along we will have Senator McManus going all the way with us. lt will be of no use for Government supporters to make telephone calls to Senator McManus as happened last time, becau.se we have him taped on what he said. We have even got what Senator Little said. The lop strategists of the Liberal Parly will bc busy tonight. I see that Senator Carrick is in the chamber. Later tonight over a cup of coffee when he balances up for the Government parties he will find thai they are in the red. 1 did not want to prolong this discussion. To me immigration means people. I have friends who are Maoris and one or two relatives of Cook Islanders. This is one occasion when I feel rather shamed by the shabby way that we treat these people. Earlier tonight Senator McAuliffe raised the subject of sport, and the 2 rugby codes. Some Maoris and Cook Islanders come here to play rugby and they might pick up a few quid on television as boxers. Most of them do not have ideas about staying here permanently. They would like to go back.
I recently had experience of a case concerning a Tongan boy who worked for 6 months at Nestle’s chocolate factory. One of the shop delegates came to me about the matter. The officers of the Department were very kind in telling the Tongan lad that he had overstayed his time. He said: ‘1 suppose they had to catch me, but all 1 wanted was another 3 months’. I asked him why he wanted to stay another 3 months. He said: 1 wanted to buy a trac tor. I am still a Tongan and 1 would like to earn extra money for my wife and 2 children’. Those are the sorts of cases we ure discussing.
The honourable Maurice Foley who represents West Bromwich in the House of Commons is a very good friend of mine and he is also well known to Senator Davidson. In spite of all the talk of ‘have a nigger for a neighbour’ and that sort of stuff he went to one electorate and said: ‘I would like to be the Labor member here, but if I have to mortgage my soul, you can kick me out’. Some of the Conservatives worked to get Patrick Gordon Walker out of the Smethwick electorate, but Maurice Foley was returned to the House of Commons. In Sydney or in any other city we will not be ashamed to talk about the Tongan boy who went back to Tonga so abruptly. The Minister knows in his heart of hearts that if it comes to a television confrontation Australians will accept what Senator Willesee said about percentages and groupings. They will not go for the floodgates. 1 remind honourable senators of the case of the Filipino musician with 2 children who was deported from Darwin. 1 concede that there was an Achilles heel in that instance but had we chosen to do so we could have sought to capitalise on the incident as an election issue. Of course we want office, but we are concerned with humanities. We have received a great many taunts from some supporters of the Government, but not all honourable senators opposite have engaged in that practice. I know that many of them are very much ashamed of what has happened tonight, if achieving office means that you have to work by expediency and sneer at people, we do noi want it on that basis. When important issues are involved we know enough about public relations to handle them. Some people have the idea that they can use a big stick like Enoch Powell. 1 have enough confidence in the Australian people to believe that that would be followed by a backlash.
It is extremely regrettable that officers of the Department have been kept waiting here so long tonight, but it has not been of our choosing. When dealing with other issues 1 have been able to give credit to Senator Greenwood, but tonight was one of his had ones. Perhaps he .believed that we were going to pack up our traps and be quiet. It would have been said in a Sydney newspaper that the ranks of the Labor Party remained silent. But they did not. Five Labor senators have spoken here tonight, and another 5 would have joined the ranks had they been needed.
– At an earlier stage Senator Cavanagh asked the reason why the Department of Immigration underspent approximately $4m in 1970-71. I can now give him the answer. In the main the underspending was due to economy measures introduced to comply with the Government’s policy of financial restraint applied last February. The main areas of underspending were the result of a reduction in the assisted passage programme from 123,500 to 120,500. It involved reduced expenditures which I will detail. If the honourable senator turns his attention to Division 330, subdivision 2, item 06 of the estimates of the Department he will see an appropriation of $2,600,000 for publicity and information services in 1970-71. The expenditure was $2,439,755, or under expenditure of about $160,000. In Division 330, subdivision 3, item 01, which relates to Commonwealth Hostels Lid - advance of contribution towards cost of operating migrant hostels - because some hostels were closed the saving was $299,000. In Division 330, subdivision 4, item 01, which relates to the United KingdomAustralia Assisted Passage Agreement - passage and associated costs - there was a reduction of $1,095,000. In Division 330, subdivision 4, item 05, which deals with movements of migrants upon disembarkation, $96,000 was saved. In Division 330, subdivision 4, item 07, which relates to non-British migration under agreements and arrangements with European countries - passage and associated costs - the saving was $1,781,000. In Division 330, subdivision 4, item 08, which deals with second passage assistance and assistance to Australians - passage and associated costs - there was a saving of $92,000. Those matters represent the basic reasons why there was an under-spending.
In the light of what was said by Senator Mulvihill, who was the last honourable senator to speak, and by honourable senators who preceded him in the debate, I draw attention again to the point which I raised initially and which has not been, answered; that is, how the Australian Labor Party seeks to reconcile what are-
– Mr Chairman, I rise to order, even though I am likely to be overruled. My patience has expired. I indicated earlier that I intended to move that progress be reported.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! I ask the honourable senator to state his point of order.
– The Minister has deliberately acted in a most irresponsible way. For a few moments he confined his remarks to the Estimates and there was hope that we would be able to finish the debate on this section of them, but then he entered into an area of irrelevancy. 1 suggest, Mr Chairman, that you should so rule.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
Chairman, 1 rise to order. I should like to know to which line of the estimates the Minister relates a query that he makes of the Australian Labor Party so far as its policy on immigration is concerned. I was under the impression that the Committee of the Whole was here to investigate the estimates of the Department of Immigration. I see nothing in the estimates now under discussion relating to the policy of the Labor Party. If this is the farce that the Minister intends to make of debates on the estimates, I shall very quickly come round to the point of view adopted by Senator Poyser and Cavanagh.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
- Mr Chairman, I express a very firm point of view. The expression of opinion in this chamber is the right of all honourable senators and an expression of. a point of view by the Australian Labor Party is not the end of the subject matter upon which the opinion has been expressed. Strangely, Government senators have a right to defend the position for which they are being chastised. On this issue I have no hesitation in asserting the point of view of the Government tonight, all night, tomorrow, all next week and the week after.
– We will accept your challenge and go through every line of the estimates.
– I extend this invitation to the 4 or 5 very noisy senators: If they are left on their own to argue it against me, I will remain on my own to discuss it with them. But the point is that there are 2 paragraphs of the Australian Labor Party platform whichI invited members of the Australian Labor Party to reconcile. Even though we had Senator Willesee here for a time tonight-
– I am still here.
– I withdraw that. The honourable senator is not sitting in the seat where I have been accustomed to see him. The honourable senator has been here for the greater part of the night and he is still here.
– A thing I have never done in the whole of my political life is to refer to a man’s absence.
– I accept that. I simply say that the reconciliation that I was looking for has not occurred and, indeed, has not even been attempted. To illustrate the sort of situation which requires reconciliation-
– I would rather see a reconciliation between Senator Wood and Senator Keeffe.
– All I say is that there is a need for reconciliation because one can take 3 people who were present at the Labor Party conference and look at their interpretations of the policy. One very prominent person in the Labor Party who was very active in having this paragraph put into the Labor Party platform was a Mr Donald Dunstan, who I believe is the Premier of South Australia and a colleague of Senator Cavanagh, who is now interjecting. Mr Dunstan was reported in the ‘Advertiser’-
– Mr Chairman, I rise to order. I ask you directly: How is this relevant to the estimates which arc before the Committee?
– I cannot support the point of order.
That the ruling be disagreed with.
– Under the Standing Orders the honourable senator is required to write out his objection.
– I shall put it in writing. (Senator Cavanagh having submitted his objection in waiting).
– In accordance with Standing Order 270 I shall leave the chair and report to the Senate.
In the Senate (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
– Order! Honourable senators having heard the Chairman of Committees report to me on the motion of dissent from . his ruling, 1 wish to hear argument on this matter.
– Mr President, as I do not know how closely you have followed the debate this afternoon and evening on the estimates for the Department of Immigration, I think I should indicate that everything seemed to go along smoothly until just prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner, which is when SenatorPoyser brought up the question of whether there was racial discrimination against a particular type of migrant. The reply of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), to the comments of Senator Poyser was not in any way in explanation of the Government’s policy but in criticism of the Australian Labor Party’s policy on immigration. A point of order was taken at that time as to whether the Labor Party’s policy was relevant to the matter. Since that matter was raised just prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner-
– Order! I do not want to know about what happened prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner. The point of disagreement, as I understand it, is as to the relevancy of a matter which was raised in the last 20 minutes. Therefore, 1 ask you to address yourself to that matter. Senator Cavanagh.
– Yes, Mr President. Since that time we have had nothing else but talk about the policy of the Australian Labor Party on immigration. The matter about which there is disagreement is the reference by the Attorney-General to a well known member of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Don Dunstan. A point of order was raised as to whether reference to Don Dunstan had any relationship to the estimates for the Department of Immigration.
– ls that the point of relevancy?
– In response to a point of order, the Chairman of Committees ruled that this matter was relevant to the debate on the estimates for the Department of immigration. Similar rulings had been given many limes earlier on points of order which were taken on subjects which were just as irrelevant. The stage was then reached where it was felt that the rulings of the Chairman of Committees should be no longer tolerated. The whole debate this afternoon and this evening has held the Senate up to ridicule.
– Order! 1 will hear argument only on the point of relevancy raised by you, Senator Cavanagh, in the context of the latter remarks of the Attorney-General as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, fs the point of relevancy the relationship of his remarks about the Premier of South Australia to the debate of the estimates for the Department of Immigration?
– No, the whole subject of relevancy and the rulings given by the Chairman of Committees.
– Order! Your motion for dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees relates to the relevancy of references to the Premier of South Australia to the subject matter of this debate.
– Perhaps I have not fully explained myself, Mr President. I hope you will bear with me while I do so. A point of order was raised as to whether the Attorney-General’s speech was relevant to the matter which was before the Chair, namely, the estimates for the Department of Immigration. At the point at which the point of order was raised the AttorneyGeneral was referring to a well known member of the Labor Party by the name of Don Dunstan. The point of order was not raised so much on the mentioning of the name of Mr Dunstan but on the relevancy of the whole of the Attorney-General’s speech. The Chairman of Committees ruled that the Attorney-General was in order. I challenged his ruling. I just want to say that 1 did not like having to move for dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. There was nothing personal in my doing so. It is just that an intolerable position has been reached in this debate. I believe that the Senate should uphold the motion of dissent from the ruling.
(10.24) - The Government will not support the motion for dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. Although I have not been present in the chamber for very long this evening, I had an opportunity to listen to the debate which preceded the ruling to which objection has been taken. If I may be permitted to say so, Sir, the understanding is for the Estimates to be dealt with item by item, but to my conscious knowledge a certain degree of tolerance has always been exercised in this regard and no challenge is made when that practice is departed from. 1 do not think that anybody would challenge the right to rebut a point raised in this manner in a debate. 1 suggest that that has been the pattern of the debate tonight. Points have been raised in the grey area of the estimates and replies have been made to those points. In those circumstances, the Government will not support the motion for dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees.
– As I was the one who raised the point of order, Mr President, perhaps I am closer lo what was being said at the time it was raised than other honourable senators. After a rather wide-ranging debate tonight the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration (Dr
Forbes), finally decided to answer a question asked according to the normal practice of dealing with the Estimates. The question was posed in the manner in which the Leader of the Government in the Senator (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has just indicated questions ought to be posed. It related to a particular line in the estimates for the Department of Immigration. That having been done, the AttorneyGeneral proceeded to ask of the Opposition–
– I rise on a point of order. Mr President. I am just wondering whether any motion was carried for this debate to proceed forthwith. Perhaps I missed it.
– A mo’ ion was not necessary.
– J am wondering whether that is the case.
– The debate was in Committee. Senator Byrne.
– Thank you.
– Having completed his answer lo the question asked by Senator Cavanagh the Attorney-General proceeded, as he had been doing al! night, to question the Opposition - without any reference being made to any line of the estimates for the Department of Immigration - in connection with paragraphs (c) and (f) of the Australian Labor Party’s policy on immigration. He then proceeded to say that paragraph (f) of that policy has been inserted hy Mr Dunstan of South Australia. At that point I raised a point of order and questioned the relevancy of the Attorney-General’s statement. The Chairman of Committees had continually overruled points of order which T had raised in a similar manner throughout the evening. 1 would say that in frustration Senator Cavanagh was driven to the point of doing what I myself should have done, thai is. moving that the ruling of the Chairman of Committees be dissented from.
– I support the motion which has been moved by my colleague Senator Cavanagh. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said, in replying to the remarks of Senator Cavanagh, that whilst in practice we should be speaking to the line items of the Estimates a certain amount of tolerance has always been allowed.
– I said it is allowed if it is in rebuttal of an argument.
Thai is a fair point. But the Leader of the Government also pointed out that he has not been in the chamber all night. I am sure that if he had been in the chamber all night, as most honourable senators on the Opposition benches have been, his tolerance would have been stretched to the extreme limit, as ours has been. Indeed, in the nearly 10 years in which 1 have been a member of this chamber I have always adopted the practice as a matter of general principle of never taking a point of order on any person. However, my tolerance was stretched to the limit this evening by the actions of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) and who, in trying to get through this chamber the estimates for the Department of Immigration, had been ranting and raving for the hour before the suspension of the sitting for dinner and for the 21 hours after dinner about the Australian Labor Parly’s policy. Standing order 263 states that a committee shall consider such matters only as shall have been referred to it by the Senate.
I was under the impression that the matter which has been referred to the Committee is the Estimates dealt with by Committee B. Included in those Estimates are the estimates for the Department of Immigration - not the estimates of Labor Party policy, not whether one paragraph is in conflict with another paragraph of Labor Party policy, not whether Mr Dunstan agrees with Mr Daly, whether Mr Daly agrees with Mr Whitlam or whether Mr Whitlam agrees with Senator Willesee as we have been hearing from the Minister for the last 2£ hours. The matter under consideration is the estimates of the Department of Immigration. With great respect to the Minister I say that we have had an explanation for 2 minutes alone in relation to the estimates of the Department and the debate has been going on for some 3i hours. Therefore 1 believe that the motton moved by Senator Cavanagh should be supported by the Senate.
– 1 think we are all conscious of what the proper application of the rules should mean. None of us would want to suggest that the discussion on the Estimates be strictly related to some particular item or even the whole of the provision which has been made for the expenditure. A view has always been taken that there should be tolerance and that honourable senators should be able to put a point of view on the various matters which arise under the subject matter of the Estimates. 1 think that if anyone has been a little against that situation it has been Senator Wood who has taken the view that there should be strict adherence to the consideration of the particular provision. Tonight it seems evident - I was not here for the discussion - from what has been said tha! there has been a gross departure from the Estimates. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) shakes his head. My colleagues assure me, and they have assured the Senate, that the Minister has provoked an irrelevant discussion and that such tolerance as should be permitted has been entirely exceeded. One thing seems extremely evident and that is that the tolerance of my colleagues has certainly been exhausted by what the Minister has done.
Every rule and every latitude can be abused. That is what is complained of here, lt is not the rule itself but the latitude which is ordinarily permitted which has been exceeded. In these circumstances we suggest that the sense of the Senate would be that such latitude should not be abused, particularly by a Government which one would think is seeking to get it” Estimates through and not seeking to provoke a discussion on a matter which it is open to the Government to have discussed at any time. If the Government wants to bring a motion to discuss immigration it is open to it to do so. The Government ought not turn the debate on the Estimates into that kind of discussion which Ls not material and which has certainly exceeded what we on this side consider to be the limits of fairness.
– As one of the honourable senators who took a point of order against the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) 1 shall briefly state the position as I see it. I have been in the chamber all night. I was here for the earlier discussion before dinner. The position is that on a number of occasions tonight - 6 or 7 - some honourable senators have taken objection. They have raised points of order against the Minister on the basis that on each occasion when the Minister rose to speak he talked about matters concerning the Australian Labor Party machine and not about matters of immigration or matters relating to the estimates. The Minister raised matters relating to Mr Harradine and Mr Dunstan, about which Senator Cavanagh has spoken. The fact is that the Minister on 2 occasions challenged Senator Poyser and Senator Cavanagh to explain Labor Party policy. If the Minister wanted to proceed with the discussion on the estimates his policy should have been to draw the attention of the Chairman to the departures and ask that the attention of the honourable senators be directed towards these matters. Instead, on each occasion the Attorney-General wanted to traverse matters which concerned Labor Party policy and machinery, and more latterly Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia. Senator Poyser and Senator Cavanagh rose to address themselves to the Minister’s challenge to explain the policy. The situation continued along these lines. 1 suggest that in these circumstances it is obvious that this was not the usual exchange of ideas to which the Leader of the Government in the Senator (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) referred. Simply, this was a continuous attempt by the AttorneyGeneral to engage in deliberate attacks upon Labor Party machinery.
– I have been making some notes as I have listened to the arguments for and against Senator Cavanagh’s motion of dissent from the Chairman’s ruling. I shall read them to honourable senators. I do not acknowledge matters which have transpired during the Committee of the Whole. I acknowledge only the grounds upon which the point of order was taken by Senator Cavanagh, namely, the relevance of a claim that the Premier of South Australia had adopted a certain altitude in the context of- Australia’s immigration policy. I am of the opinion that the Committee of the Whole has moved from an area of strict relevancy to procedures which are unusual. I regard the dissent from the Chairman’s ruling moved by Senator Cavanagh as not germane. The Chairman was entitled to give his ruling on the strict question of Senator Cavanagh’s objection to a reference to the Premier of South Australia. But I think the Senate would be doing itself a service if it returned to the object of the Committee of the Whole - that is, a discussion of the Estimates. Therefore I hope that the Senate will now proceed in the Committee of the Whole to a relevant discussion of the matters which are in front of it.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) j 1971-72
In Committee i Consideration resumed. i Progress reported.
! RELIEF OF NON-METROPOLITAN UNEMPLOYMENT
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) - I ask leave to have incorporated in Hansard a statement made in the other place today by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) relating to a Commonwealth offer to the States of financial assistance for the relief of non-metropolitan unemployment.
– Is leave granted?
There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
I wish to inform the House that I have written to each of the State Premiers seeking agreement to the introduction as soon as possible of a scheme of Commonwealth grants to the States for employment creating activities in non-metropolitan areas, where such action is desirable for social and economic reasons. The Government has been concerned, as I know the governments of the States have been, at the difficulties confronting some of our rural industries - wool in particular - and the communities dependent on them. We are, of course, with the co-operation of the
State governments where appropriate, already providing massive assistance to the industries in question. Indeed, as the House will know, 1 have had correspondence recently with some of the Premiers on these matters and particularly on the problem of unemployment in nonmetropolitan areas.
The Government is determined to meet and overcome the problems facing the rural industries that are in difficulty. But that will lake time and we believe that meanwhile there is a need to take temporary measures for the alleviation of unemployment in non-metropolitan areas, with the social problems associated with that. This is a particular aspect of the difficulties facing our rural populations and one which is of . increasing concern to us. Much of this non-metropolitan unemployment is of a structural kind and therefore requiring particular rather than general economic measures to deal with it. As the health of the rural industries concerned improves, this will contribute over time to alleviating non-metropolitan unemployment. The current rural reconstruction scheme and the retraining programmes and rehabilitation assistance associated with it will make a useful contribution. But all these measures will take time to become fully effective and. in the meantime, the stubborn economic and social problem of rural unemployment seems likely to continue unless specific short-term action is taken to deal with it.
Following my return from overseas the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) had discussions with me about this matter, and subsequently Cabinet has considered the problem and possible responses to it. A measure which we believe would have a quick and direct impact on the problem - but without significantly impeding the long-term adjustments necessary to meet changing economic conditions in rural areas - is the provision of funds for employment creating activities in affected non-metropolitan areas and, as I have said, I have written to the Premiers proposing a scheme of grants for this purpose. The details of the scheme would, of course, be determined in consultation with the States. In broad terms, however, the Government envisages an arrangement providing for giants for employment creating activities to be made to the States for the period up to 30th June 1973. subject to review after 30th June 1972 in the light of the then prevailing conditions. The objective of the Scheme would be to make a significant impact on the level of unemployment in non-metropolitan areas. Thus, grants would be made for the purpose of reimbursing expenditures on additional labour intensive activities of a productive kind which might be undertaken by State, semi-government and local government authorities to provide employment for those unemployed in non-metropolitan areas. Recent grants made to some Stales under the drought relief arrangements to enable the employment of persons who were unemployed as a result of drought might be taken as a brand indication of the type of scheme the Government has in mind.
Obviously, since the details of the scheme remain to be settled with the Premiers, it is not possible at this time to put any precise figure on what the cost of the scheme might be in the balance of this financial year. Details will, of course, he given as soon as they can be worked out, aud, on the assumption that the proposal will meet with the approval in principle of the Premiers, the Treasury will be moving speedily to arrange the necessary discussions between Commonwealth and State officials. The chief costs involved are. however, likely to be wage costs, plus’ some lesser amount, perhaps up to 25 per cent of the total, in respect of the purchase of materials and. perhaps, equipment. A figure of $2m a month or thereabouts might approximate the kind of broad order of cost we have in mind, but having said that, I must add that there are numerous uncertainties about such a figure at this stage. Much wilt depend, not only on our discussion of the details wilh the States, but on the extent to, and the speed with which they can give effect to the proposals. In this latter regard I may also mention that we would envisage the Department of Labour and National Service being closely associated with the scheme at the ground roots level. But for all the reasons I have indicated, we do not, at this stage, have a closed mind on the question of the precise amount to be provided during the balance
of this financial year even though, as I say, we have in mind something of the order already mentioned.
On the assumption, as I say. that these proposals will be acceptable in principle to the Premiers, we shall require to bring forward to the House early in the autumn session legislation to authorize the necessary grants to the States. Meanwhile, however, temporary arrangements will be made for the financing of the scheme in the interim. I believe that that would, in all the circumstances, meet with the approval of the House. This proposal, of course, demonstrates the Government’s readiness to respond to changing circumstances. Designed as it is to meet the emerging social and economic problem of unemployment in non-metropolitan areas, the scheme will, I believe, be warmly welcomed by the House aud by the community at large.
– I present a report from the House Committee of the Senate relating to senators’ dress in the Seriate chamber. The report reads as follows:
REPORT RELATING TO SENATORS’ DRESS IN THE SENATE CHAMBER
On 11th November 1971, 3 Senators entered the Senate Chamber wearing shorts, shirt, tie and long socks. Mr President undertook to refer the matter of Senators’ dress lo the House Committee for report and suggested that, pending the Committee’s Report and the determination of the matter by the Senate, the Senators revert to the regular style of dress for attendance in tha Chamber.
Pursuant lo the undertaking of the President, the House Committee has considered the question of Senators’ dress in the Chamber and accordingly reports to the Senate.
The Committee believes that rules relating to dress in the Chamber should nol be necessary and that the choice of appropriate clothing should be left to Senators’ discretion. The Committee is of the opinion, however, that the wearing of shorts is not appropriate in places where formal business is being transacted and that it does not accord with the dignity of the Senate Chamber.
MAGNUS CORMACK. Chairman
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to -
Thai consideration of the report be made an order of the day for the next clay of sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(10.43)- I move:
The Bill has several purposes in relation to remuneration for certain statutory office holders. First, it is necessary because of the particular legislative provisions existing for certain statutory office holders appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Australian Wool Commission Act, the Broadcasting and Television Act, the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act and the Criminology Research Act. The existing provisions, which have been included in the parent Acts over the last 2 years, have the effect that for the present the remuneration for the statutory office holders involved is prescribed in regulations but that from the beginning of 1972 the remuneration is to be determined by the Parliament.
These amended provisions will conform with the principles outlined in my statement of 25th November 1971 - that is, that a salary or allowance paid on an annual basis should be specified by Act of Parliament and that any other allowance or fee not paid on an annual basis should be prescribed by regulation. Regulations which will be made in relation to deputies of members of the Australian Wool Commission will provide that a deputy member is to be paid $35 for attendance at a meeting of not less than 3 hours duration or $20 where a’ meeting is less than 3 hours. These are standard daily sitting fees paid to a large number of members of Commonwealth bodies. This Bill will also provide for revision of salaries of certain statutory office holders.
It is customary for the salaries of full time statutory office holders, where those salaries are less than those applying to per manent heads of departments of State, to be reviewed by the Government subsequent to the application of increased salaries for. Second Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. Such a review has been undertaken following the determination by the Public Service Arbitrator of new salaries for Second Division officers, which took effect from 4th November 1971. Accordingly this Bill provides new salaries involving comparable increases for certain of the statutory office holders shown in the First Schedule to the Bill, for which existing legislative, provisions require determination of salaries by the Parliament. In the case of various other comparable statutory office holders approval has been given for increases of the same order to be applied, subject to compliance with the requirements of relevant legislation. That legislation is of course under separate examination in accordance with my statement of 25th November 1971, in which I also indicated my hope that honourable senators whould accept the need to work under existing statutory provisions until the details had been worked out and appropriate legislative amendments made.
The Bill provides that, as in the Commonwealth Public Service, the increases will apply from 4th November 1971, the. operative date of the arbitration determinations. The salaries for the lay offices under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and offices of Deputy Public Service Arbitrator under the Public Service Arbitration Act. have been reviewed separately in their own right, the existing salaries for these offices having been determined in June 1968. The Bill also provides for a date of effect of 4th November 1971 for these salaries. I have mentioned that these particular salaries have been reviewed independently, as in the past. The common date of effect for the 2 groups arises from the particular situation on this occasion when the 2 changes happen to occur concurrently. I have circulated an explanatory memorandum which sets out details in respect of each of the aspects of this Bill. 1 commend the Hill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(10.49)- I move:
Since the second reading speech is being circulated and is very comprehensive. I seek leave for it to be incorporated in Hansard.
– is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
The purpose of this Bill is lo give effect to the revisions lo the financial assistance grants arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States agreed upon at the Premiers Conference on 16th June last. It provides for adjustments to the financial assistance grants in 1971-72 and in subsequent years which result from the transfer of payroll tax from the Commonwealth to the States, lt thus complements the Payroll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Act 1971 which was recently passed by the Parliament. It provides also for the payment to the Slates of additional nonrecurring revenue assistance of $40m in 1971- 72. This legislation, if enacted, will replace the States Grants Act 1970-1971.
As honourable senators are aware, new revenue assistance arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, to apply over the 5 years 1970-71 to 1974-75, were settled at the June 1970 Premiers Conference. Under these arrangements, Commonwealth revenue assistance to the States has increased, and will continue to increase, at a considerably faster rate than would have been the case had the previous arrangements continued unchanged. However, particularly following the High Court decision invalidating State receipts duties as they applied to certain types of transaction, it was clear that, notwithstanding these large increases in Commonwealth revenue assistance, it would be desirable for the States to have access to a new source of taxation to give them greater freedom and independence in revenue raising. At the June 1970 Premiers Conference the Commonwealth therefore offered to examine with the States any proposals made by them for a new growth tax. No proposals were put forward by the Stales, but at the Premiers Conference in April of this year the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced that the Commonwealth Government was examining alternative means by which the States might be given access to a new field of taxation.
That examination was made in considerable detail and with the utmost care lt may be helpful if I outline to the Senate, very briefly, the main considerations we had in mind in coming to the decision to oiler to transfer payroll tax to the Stat?:., “.s a starting point, of course, there is the fact that the Constitution clearly debars the States from imposing any of the usual forms of sales tax and other widely h»s-ed indirect taxes. At the same time, we satisfied ourselves, after full and thorough consideration, that we should not depart from the Commonwealth’s long held view that it should retain sole access to income taxation. The reasons for that latter view have been stated on a number of occasions and I shall outline them only very briefly here. Income tax is by far the most important of the lax sources available to the Commonwealth, constituting over 60 per cent of Commonwealth tax collections, and over 50 per cent of all public authority taxation collections. Because of its all pervading nature, income tax is the most important economic policy weapon available to the Commonwealth and it is also a very important instrument in redistributing income and in implementing other social policies.
We also found after a careful review of various possibilities that the other taxes available would nol meet the general aim, from the viewpoint of this exercise, that any new State tax should be widely based and should provide scope for the Stales to vary the rate of the tax should they wish to do so. In the light of these considerations, therefore, we saw payroll tax as the only practical possibility. While we realised that it was not an ideal tax for the purposes we were seeking to achieve, we believed also that many of the arguments commonly brought against it were not well founded. In particular, the argument that it adds to costs can, broadly speaking, be applied to all taxes. On the credit side, payroll tax is broadly based, its yield grows almost directly in the line with the econ.omy, and it is relatively simple to administer.
At the Premiers Conference the States reaffirmed their previously expressed views that they needed access to a new area of growth taxation to assist them in financing improvements in the services which they provide. While some of them indicated that they would have preferred to be given access to income tax, all said that they would accept pay-roll tax on the basis that it would constitute a useful addition to their resources for revenue raising purposes, In withdrawing from the field of payroll tax, the Commonwealth could not, of course, contemplate accepting the very large loss of revenue that would be involved in the absence of any offset to its existing payments to the Slates, and it was therefore agreed that offsetting reductions would be made to the financial assistance grants. It was agreed also, however, that these reductions would be less than the loss to the Commonwealth - and the gain to the Stales - resulting from the transfer of payroll tax at the then existing rate, by virtue of 4 separate factors.
First, the reduction in the grants will be smaller than the loss to the Commonwealth revenue by an amount equal to the payroll tax payable - at the rate of 2.5 per cent - in respect of non-business activities of local government authorities. By this means the Commonwealth will, in effect, be bearing the cost, which would otherwise be incurred by State governments, of exempting non-business activities of local authorities from payment of payroll tax as from the date of transfer of the tax to the States. The relief thereby provided to local authorities is estimated at about $6m in 1971-72, and S8m in a full year. This prospecitve relief has been most warmly welcomed by local authorities throughout Australia.
Secondly, the Commonwealth will, in effect, compensate the States for the extra costs they will incur in administering their new payroll taxes. These costs will not be large, - the estimate for all 6 States for 1971-72 being only about S600.000.. By this means, however, the Commonwealth will ensure that the States are relieved of any additional expenses which would otherwise have reduced the benefit accruing to them from the transfer.
The third factor is a once for all adjustment to take account of the probability that revenue from payroll tax - at constant rates - will grow at a slightly slower rate than the financial assistance grants that the States will be losing would have done. For this purpose, the deduction from the base grants for 1971-72, on which the calculation of the financial assistance grants tor 19.2-73 and subsequent years will depend, will be reduced by a further S3m and the States will benefit accordingly.
Fourthly, the Commonwealth agreed to make the reduction in the States grants in 1971-72 smaller than the loss to Commonwealth revenue resulting from the transfer of the tax by a further amount now estimated at approximately $22.4m. This amount is calculated by first distributing $20m between the States in proportion to their estimated payroll tax collections in 1971-72- -at the rate of 2.5 per cent. However, because distribution on that basis could be held to favour the 2 most populous States, there will be added to the amounts so calculated for the 4 less populous States such amounts as ate necessary to bring their allocations up to what they would have been had the distribution of the $20m been in proportion io the States financial assistance grants. These additional amounts for the 4 less populous States are presently estimated at approximately $2. 4m, thus giving a total amount for all States of about $22.4ni. This last provision, of course, is equivalent to granting additional revenue assistance to the States. Moreover, because the estimated amount of $22.4m by which the reduction in the financial assistance grants will be less than the amount of payroll tax collections transferred will also apply to the base used to determine the formula grants for 1972-73 and subsequent years, this additional assistance to the States will continue and escalate under the formula in future years.
This additional assistance, together with the special non-recurring revenue assistance of $40m to be paid to the States in 1971- 72 and to which I have already referred, is being provided by the Commonwealth in recognition of arguments put forward by the States at the Premiers Conference. The Premiers argued that, even after taking into account additional revenue they might be able to raise from their existing taxes and charges, and from payroll tax, they would find it very difficult to finance the large and unavoidable increases in expenditure they had in prospect, particularly in the current financial year. These increases were the result mainly of the continuing effect of the abnormally large increases in wage and salary awards granted by various wage fixing bodies in 1970-71. As honourable senators will recall, special assistance of$43m had to be provided in 1970-71 for the same reason, notwithstanding the significant efforts made by all States, following the February 1971 Premiers Conference, to improve their budgetary positions.
After agreement had been reached to transfer the payroll tax to the States, the States decided among themselves that they would increase the rate of tax by1 per cent upon its transfer to them. Lest there be any doubt on the matter, I should say that this decision was made by the Premiers themselves in the light of their own judgmentsof their likely expenditure commitments and their revenue needs. The Commonwealth played no part in the decision. I understand that it is estimated that the total net gain to the States’ budgets as a result of this increase will be about $90m in 1971-72 and, of course, appreciably more than that in a full year.
The form of the Bill closely follows that of the States Grants Act 1970-1971, which it is replacing, with 3 exceptions. First, it provides, in sub-clause 3 of clause 7 and in clause 13 for the deductions to be made to the giants tinder the payroll tax transfer arrangements. The Payroll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Act 1971 recently passed by the Parliament was proclaimed to commence as from 1st September and, under the provisions of that Act, Commonwealth payroll tax is no longer being levied in the States. It is, of course, essential that the appropriate offset ting reductions now be made to the general revenue grants to the States. Honourable senators will note that under clause 14 of the Bill the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) will be required to determine the amounts to be deducted, in accordance with the principles governing such deductions whichare set out in the Bill. This procedure is necessary because it will not be possible to make accurate estimates of some ofthe elements involved in the calculation of the deductions until close to the end of 1971- 72. In particular, it will not be possible to estimate accurately the States payrolltax collections, calculated from the date of transfer and at the then existing rate of 2.5 per cent, until that time. Some other estimates, relating to the amounts to be deduced from the base on which the calculations of the grants willbe made for 1972-73 and subsequent years, will in fact not be made until early in 1972-73. These and the other estimates involved - for example, administrative costs tothe States - will, of course be made in close consultation with each of the States.
The second point on which this legislation differs from the Act which it is replacing is that it no longer specifies precisely how the Commonwealth Statistician should calculate average wages for purposes of the formula laid down in the Act. Previously, the Statistician was required to . make the calculations by reference solely to figures shown on payroll tax returns. However, with the transfer of the tax to the Stales it is no longer practicable to specify in the Commonwealth legislation the method to be used to calculate average wages and sub-clause 2 of clause 15 ofthe Bill therefore provides that the method to be employed by the Statistician is to be determined by the Treasurer after consultation with the State Treasurers. The method proposed to be used in the future has, in fact, already been agreed between the Commonwealth and the States. It will give results virtually identical with those derived from the method laid down in the present legislation. The Text setting out the method that has been agreed is as follows:
1.In calculating theaverage wages per person employed in relation to a year the total amount of wages for that year shall be divided by the sum of ibc mean number of males and fifty-three per cent of the mean number of females employed during that .year.
The third respect in which this legislation differs from the States Grants Act 1970- 197! is that the provisions in that Act permitting the Treasurer to make deductions from the grants payable to a State which does not pay payroll tax to the
Commonwealth have, for obvious reasons, been dropped. Under clause 10 of the Bill the special non-recurring revenue assistance of $40m to bc paid to the States in 1971-72 is to be distributed between them in proportion to the other grants payable to them under the Act this year, but before making the deductions to the grants which result from the transfer of payroll tax. The following is a table showing present estimates of each State’s share of this $40m special assistance, and also of the estimated net gain to each State under the payroll tax transfer arrangements:
The cost to the Commonwealth will, of course, be greater than the amounts shown in this table because it is meeting the cost of relieving local authorities from the payment of payroll tax in respect of their nonbusiness activities. The figures given in the table refer, in other words, only to the net gains to the State governments themselves.
To conclude, the States have benefited in 2 ways from the changes in CommonwealthState financial relations that have taken place in the last year or so. In the first place, the level and rate of growth of Commonwealth revenue assistance have increased markedly. In 1971-72, the States will receive an estimated additional $274m in Commonwealth general revenue assistance, over and above what they would have received had the arrangements which existed before 1970-71 continued unaltered. This is a remarkable increase even if one regards as separate the estimated amount of $ 1 00.6m representing receipts duty compensation grants, included in the figure I have quoted, and which could be regarded as replacing revenue which the States had hoped to gain from their own receipts duties. The Government feels that it can fairly claim thai the Commonwealth has been fully sensitive to the States’ financial needs. The following is a table setting out details of the components making up the increase to whichI have referred:
The second way in which the States have benefited from these recent decisions is, of course, that they now have access to a new field of taxation which adds significantly to their independent revenue raising powers. We believe that these decisions reflect a real spirit of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State governments. We see no reason why that spirit should not continue to the benefit of the country as a whole. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(10.50) - I move:
I ask for leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The main purposes of this Bill are to authorise the payment of interest -free capital grants totalling$209.8m to the States to meet part of their 1971-72 works programmes, and to authorise the borrowing of funds up to that amount to assist in the financing of these grants. The Bill also authorises the payment, at the same annual rate as for 1971-72, of similar grants in the first 6 months of 1972-73 pending the passage of comparable legislation in that year. At the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference the Commonwealth agreed to provide greatly increased funds to the States under new revenue assistance arrangements to apply over he 5 years 1970-71 to 1974-75. This increased assistance took 3 formsadditional financial assistance grants, new grants to meet debt charges on a portion of existing state debt, and the replacement of part of the loan funds received by the States from their annual Loan Council borrowing programmes for works and housing by interest-free capital grants. This Bill is concerned with the third of these forms of assistance.
At the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference it was agreed that the amount of the interest-free capital grant to be provided by the Commonwealth would begin at $200m in 1970-71 and would increase in future years in proportion to the total of the States’ works and housing programmes approved by the loan council in those years (excluding any special allocations to individual States in particular years that do not form a part of the basic programmes). At its meeting in June 1971 the Loan Council decided on a total programme for State works and housing of$860m.In accordance with the arrangements agreed in June 1970. $209.8m of this is to be paid in the form of interest-free grants and the remaining $650.2m will constitute that part of the programme for the States to be met from borrowings. The capital grant is to be distributed between the States in the same proportion as the total works and housing programmes.
I should like here to outline to the Senate, in general terms, the attitude taken by the Commonwealth in relation to the
States’ Loan Council programmes for 1971-72. We took the view that, in the light of economic conditions then prevailing, the Commonwealth should support borrowing programmes for the States and their authorities such that, when these programmes were added to the estimated level of specific purpose capital payments being made by the Commonwealth in 1971-72. the total funds from these sources in 1971- 72 would represent an increase over those in 1970-71 not greatly in excess of 6 per cent. The programmes decided on by the Loan Council were broadly consistent with this objective. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall have incorporated in Hansard a table which compares the capital funds estimated to be available to the States and their authorities from these sources in 1971-72 with those in 1970-71.
Honourable senators will note that specific purpose capital payments to the States, excluding natural disaster relief payments, are estimated to increase by 12.7 per cent in 1971-72, compared with an increase of 7.8 per cent in 1970-71. This large increase is in spite of the fact that, as indicated in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, the Government has, with relatively minor exceptions, avoided entering into any significant new commitments this year involving additional specific purpose capital payments to the States in 1971-72. The decision to limit these payments was in line with the general budgetary aim to restrict Commonwealth expenditures as far as possible. But, more particularly, it was recognised that any increased capital funds made available to the States for specific purposes would have reduced the Commonwealth’s ability to support the States’ works and housing programmes, including the interestfree capital grant. The funds which the
States obtain from these programmes, unlike those deriving from the specific purpose payments, can of course be spent by the states as they themselves determine.
We believe that the estimated increase in total capital funds from these sourses in 1971-72 of 6.6 per cent, while lower than the states would have wished, is reasonable, particularly when regard is had to the strong probability that, partly as a result of the additional revenue assistance being provided by the Commonwealth and additional state revenues made possible by the transfer to the States of payroll tax, the States’ revenue budgets will require considerably less support from their loan funds in 1971-72 than they did in 1970-71. In other words, it can reasonably be expected that the scope for State capital expenditure; to increase will be appreciably greater than the increase in funds available from these sources might suggest. It must also be borne
In mind that about one-third of the capital outlays of the States and their local and serai-government authorities are financed from sources other than Local Council borrowing programmes and payments from th- Commonwealth.
I turn now to the specific provisions of the Bill. Honourable senators will note that, besides authorising the payment of grants totalling S209.8m in 1971-72, the Bill authorises the Treasurer to make advances in the first 6 months of 1972-73 up to a maximum of half the grants payable to each state in the current financial year. The purpose of this provision is to enable advances to be made to the States in 1972-73 pending the passage of comparable legislation in that year. The Commonwealth’s undertaking to pay portion of the States’ works and housing programmes to them as grants has continuing effect and it seems reasonable to ensure that advances can be made to the States on a regular basis from the beginning of 1972-73, A similar provision was included in the equivalent legislation last year. Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill authorise the Treasurer, within 1971-72, to borrow funds, up to the total amount of the grants in 1971-72, for the purpose of financing these grants. It is the Government’s intention to apply the proceeds of any public borrowings made overseas in 1971-72, other than those raised to finance purchases of civil aircraft, to this purpose.
The level of overseas borrowings which might be made during 1971-72 obviously cannot be predicted. However, it seems well-nigh certain that it will fall short, and probably far short, of the total grants payable to the States under this Act. To the extent that the grants cannot be met from the proceeds of such loan raisings, therefore, they will be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and clause 6 of the Bill provides accordingly. The purpose and effect of these grants is not, of course, to add to the capital funds available to the States. Rather, by substituting grants for what would otherwise be loan funds the effect is to relieve the states of interest and sinking fund charges which they would otherwise have had to meet from their revenue budgets and thus to free funds for expenditure in other directions. For example, the effect of the $200m capital grant paid to the states in 1970-71 was to reduce the amount of the special loan which the Commonwealth bad to raise from its own resources on 30th June 1971 to meet the shortfall between the States’ approved Loan Council borrowing programmes in 1970-71 and net loan raisings from the public in that year. Since interest and sinking fund charges on the (thereby reduced) special loan did not become payable until 1971-72, there were no savings in debt charges to the States in 1970-71. The savings in 1971-72 as a result of the capital grants paid in 1970-71 will total nearly 12.8m. The approximate amounts by which each State will benefit are as follows:
Similar savings will, of course, accrue to the States in 1972-73 as a result of the grants proposed under this Bill to be paid to the States in 1971-72. Whether there will be any further savings in 1971-72 as a result of the capital grants being paid this year and, if so’, how large they might be, depends on the amount and timing of public loan raisings during the year and cannot be predicted in advance. As for subsequent years, the savings to the States will depend on a number of further factors at present unknown, including the level of the borrowing programmes to be approved by the Loan Council, which will in turn determine the future level of the interestfree capital grants, and the level of interest rates prevailing in those years which would otherwise have been payable by the States on the amounts in question. However, on the arbitrary assumption that interest rates were to continue at their present levels, and that the borrowing programmes were to increase at much the same rate as in recent years, it is estimated that the savings to the States will have totalled about $135m by the end of 1974-75. However uncertain such calculations must necessarily be at this stage, I am sure that honourable senators will agree that that will constitute a very significant contribution indeed to the States’ revenue budgets within that period. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bil! received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(10.52) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I ask for leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1971-72 of special grants of $7,000,000 to South Australia and $7,800,000 lo Tasmania. These payments are in accordance with the recommendations by the Commonwealth Grants Commission contained in its thirty-eighth report, which has already been tabled. The Bill also seeks the usual authority for payment of advances to the 2 States in the early months of 1972-73 pending receipt of the Commission’s recommendations for that year and the enactment of legislation to provide for the grants to be paid in that year. Special grants are paid to financially weaker States, to compensate them for such factors as lower capacity to raise revenue from their own resources and higher costs in providing Government services of a standard similar to those in the financially stronger States. When special grants were first paid they constituted the only regular form of general revenue assistance paid to the financially weaker States for this purpose. The main way in which special compensatory assistance is now provided is through the higher per capita financial assistance grants paid to the 4 less populous states. The financial assistance grants are, of course, the main general rev enue grants to the States. The special grants may, therefore, be regarded as supplementing the financial assistance grants, and as having the special characteristic of being independently and expertly assessed by the Grants Commission.
Up to 1959, South Australia. Western Australia and Tasmania received annual special grants on the recommendation of the Grants Commission. South Australia withdrew from the special grants system as from 1959-60 and Western Australia as from 1968-69, but Tasmania has continued to apply each year. At the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference the Commonwealth indicated that .each of the 4 less populous States was free to apply for a special grant on the recommendation of the Grants Commission should it believe that its financial assistance grant was too low relative to New South Wales and Victoria. Under the previous arrangements, all States that had not been applying for special grants were expected to continue to refrain from doing so. South Australia applied for, and received, a special grant in 1970-71, and presently remains a claimant State.
As honourable senators may be aware, the Queensland Government has recently applied for a special grant for 1971-72. The Commission can be expected to submit a special report on Queensland’s application later in this financial year. If the Commission recommends payment of a special grant to Queensland, and if the Government accepts that recommendation, then legislation will have to be introduced to provide for the payment of the grant before the end of 1971-72. The method used by the Grants Commission, briefly put, is to calculate grants which will bring the claimant States’ budgetary position up to those of the States taken as ‘standard’, after allowing for differences between the States concerned in their financial practices and in efforts to raise revenue and control expenditure. This involves a detailed comparison of the standard and claimant States’ budgetary revenue and expenditures.
From 1959-60 the standard States have been New South Wales and Victoria. The Commission, in its 1967 and 2 following reports, had contemplated changing to a standard based on the experience of all the non-claimant states as from 1970-71. However, in its 1970 report, the Commission announced that it was reconsidering this matter in the light of the revised financial assistance grants arrangements and in this year’s report it has announced that it will retain the standard based on the experience of New South Wales and Victoria alone. The reasons for this decision are set out fully in paragraph 3.29 of the Commission’s report. Briefly, they are as follows: Firstly, the Commission believes that, in the situation where all of the 4 less populous States are free to apply for special grants, a standard based on the experience of all of the non-claimant States could lead to uncertainty on what the standard would involve from one year to the next.
Secondly, the Commission takes the view that, because of the .then Prime Minister’s statement, at the June 1970 Premiers Conference, that each of the 4 less populous States was free to apply for special grants if it considered that its relative financial position was adversely affected as a result of the additional per cap tal grants being paid to New South Wales and Victoria, it would be logical and consistent to use a standard based on the budgetary experience of those 2 States. Thirdly, the Commission considers that a standard based on the experience of all the non-claimant States would involve it in an undue amount of work given its limited staff resources. Particularly with Queensland now a claimant State, there would in practice be very little difference between a standard based on New South Wales and Victoria alone and one based on all of the non-claimant States - that is, the 2 states I have just mentioned plus Western Australia. While the Government is not convinced of the validity of all the arguments advanced by the Commission in favour of a two-State standard, it will not seek to reopen the decision in present circumstances.
The Commission has announced no other major changes of principle or method in this year’s report. However, the Commission is in the process of reviewing its methods in relation to a number of important areas, especially expenditure on hospitals. It has also continued to refine the bases of its calculations in a number of more minor respects. These matters of detail are dealt with in chapters 2, 3 and 4 of the Commission’s report and I shall not attempt to summarise them here. The recommendations by the Grants Commission for payment of special grants consist of 2 parts. One part is based on an estimate of the claimant State’s financial need in the current financial year and is treated as an advance payment subject to adjustment 2 years later when the Commission has compared in detail the budget results and standards of effort and of services provided in that year for both the claimant State and the States which it takes as standard. The other part represents the final adjustment to the advance payment made 2 years earlier and is known as the completion payment.
The Commission has recommended the payment of an advance grant of S7m to South Australia in 1971-72, compared with the grant of $5m paid last financial year. The advance grant paid in 1970-71 will he subject to adjustment next financial year after a detailed examination “of the Stale’s relative financial position. This year’s advance grant will be similarly adjusted, if necessary, in 1973-74. These adjustments could be either positive or negative. The Commission has recommended a total special grant of $7. 8m to Tasmania in 1971-72, made up of an advance payment of Slim for 1971-72 and a final negative completion payment of $3.2m in respect of 1969-70. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall have incorporated in Hansard a table which compares the amounts recommended for payment to Tasmania in 1971- 72 with those paid in 1969-70 and 1970-71.
The negative adjustment in respect of Tasmania’s 1969-70 grant means that the advance payment of $22m made in that year has proved, after detailed examination by the Commission, to be an over-estimate of the State’s needs for that year. The 1971-72 advance grant will, of course, be subject to adjutment in 1973-74. The basis of the Commission’s recommendations are set out fully in its report. The recommendations of the Grants Commission have been adopted by Parliament each year since the Commission’s inception and the Government considers that they should again be accepted on this occasion.I commend theBill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first lime.
– I move:
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
Earlier this year the Government of Fiji inquired of the Australian Government whether an Australian Judge could be made available to succeed the retiring Chief Justice of Fiji, Sir Clifford Hammett. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs visited Fiji last September he was able to convey to the Prime Minister of Fiji the Australian Government’s agreement in principle to this request.
– Why do you not ask for leave to incorporate it in Hansard?
– I would not risk having it rejected. It is with pleasure, Mr President, that in relation to the Judicial Appointment (Fiji) Bill being introduced in another place introducing the present Bill I am able to announce that Mr Justice John Angus Nimmo, a Judge of the CommonwealthIndustrial Court, has agreed to accept appointment as Chief Justice of Fiji, and subject to the passing by the Parliament of Fiji of enabling legislation. His Honour will take up the appointment in the New Year. The appointment will be for 4 years. Mr Justice Nimmo has had wide and distinguished judicial experience in Australia.In 1963 he served as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. In 1964 he became a Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In 1969 he was appointed to his present office as a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He holds, in addition, appointments as a Judge of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and he has served extensively in those jurisdictions. He has also, since 1966, been a Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal.
I am sure that honourable senators will welcome the opportunity that Australia has been afforded through the initiative of the Government of Fiji, to co-operate with a Pacific neighbour with which Australia looks forward to having an increasingly close association.I am sure too that honourable senators will be pleased that Mr Justice Nimmo has accepted the appointment. His judicial experience, his sense of public service and his well-known and respected human qualities ensure that he will carry out his new duties with skill, with dignity and with credit both to Fiji and to Australia. Mr President, in 1964 the Commonwealth Parliament opened the way, by an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, for a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court to accept appointment to a judicial office in any part of Her Majesty’s dominions outside the Commonwealth of Australia. Section 103 a of the Act makes provision for that purpose. The section makes clear in subsection (1) that the acceptance of such an appointment does not affect the appointee’s office as a Judge of the Court. In the present case, therefore, Mr Jusjtice Nimmo will continue to hold office as a Judge of the Industrial Cout.
Sub-section (2) goes on to provide that a Judge who accepts such an appointment shall be remunerated only with the salary and annual allowance that he receives as a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, together with such travelling allowance as the Governor-General determines. The provision in this sub-section is appropriate to what I think was contemplated at the time - namely, the seconding of a Judge of the Court for a relatively short period. The provision is not suitable to the particular case now under consideration, having regard to the high judicial office in question and to the fact that the appointment will be for a period of years. The Bill now before the Senate has therefore the short purpose of excluding the application of sub-section (2) of section 103a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in the case of Mr Justice Nimmo’s appointment as Chief Justice of Fiji.I am sure that the Senate will cordially welcome the appointment that it has been my pleasure to announce. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
(10.57) - I move:
It was hoped and expected that we would be able to deal with orders of the day Nos 1 to 6 tonight, but in the event it was not possible. We will have another look at those matters on Tuesday when we return.
– I want to take only a few moments of the Senate’s time. I do not want to prolong a debate that occurred this afternoon and tonight. I think everyone in the chamber was disgusted with what happened here this evening.
– Is that so?
- Senator Webster was not - I give him due credit - but everyone else in the chamber was disgusted. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) to read today’s Senate Hansard between now and the resumption of the Senate next week in order to make his own assessment of the position. 1 do not want to be critical as to who was to blame, but as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) - on whom I place the responsibility - has charge of the estimates for 2 departments yet to be considered we shall never get away to kill that goose, as I said earlier to Senator Buttfield. I do not know what discipline the Leader of the Government can use on his Ministers but I ask that he review the position to see whether anything can be done next week.
-I regret very much that Senator Cavanagh chose to express himself in this way on the adjournment. I have made it clear on other occasions, I make it clear now, and I will make it clear on every such occasion as it afforded to me in the future, that if I find that things are being said in this chamber which are untrue, which seek to take a slanted and incorrect view, and if 1 have the knowledge with which to correct the position,I shall correct it. I feel that what happened this afternoon and this evening has been, from the point of view of the Labor Party, an entirely slanted approach to the estimates for the Department of Immigration and to the approach of the Government. I am a Minister who is wholly in support of the policies of this Government. I have asserted time and time again throughout the course of this debate this evening that the Government’s immigration policy is one which not only is acceptable to the people of this country but also is a policy which this Government will not disavow and which it will be proud to assert, given the opportunity.
– Order! Mr AttorneyGeneral, I will not allow the matters that preceded the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to be revived in the debate on the adjournment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 December 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711202_senate_27_s50/>.