27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sic Magnus Cormack) took the Chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. This petition of supporters of the Committee to Stop Duffy’s Forest Airport respectfullyshoweth that:
There is a public controversy over the decision to establish an airport at Duffy’s Forest, situated in the metropolitan area of Sydney.
There is a strong case for the lease of 99 acres of Crown Land presently being offered by the State Government of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government for an airport site to be revoked, and that part of the Crown Land which contains the Wianamatta shale cap to be preserved for all time for the people of Australia by being included in the boundaries of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. If the airport is established there will be extensive damage tothe ecology of natural bushland over a widespead area.
Noise pollution will have a detrimental effect over a widespread area of the suburbs surrounding the Chase.
We believe that it is essential to protect the recreation nature and peace of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park both now and for the future.
Your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will at once, in the public interest, take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government revokes the lease of the Crown Land belonging to the State of New South Wales and ceases all negotiations for purchase of 37 acres of land privately owned which comprise the 136 acres necessary for the airport site and abandon the proposal to establish an airport at Duffy’s Forest. And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Australian Tour by Red Army Choir
-I present the fol lowing petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker of the Senate and the Honourable Senators in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of Victoria respectfully sheweth that:
It is proposed by commercial interests associated with the Australian theatre to bring to Australia the Red Army Choir of the U.S.S.R.
This choir isan integral part of the military forces of the Soviet Union which in recent years have undertaken the military occupationof
Czechoslovakia, and in earlier years that of Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukrainia and Bulgaria, and created the infamous ‘Psychiatric Hospitals’ for their own citizens.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take action to:
Express the abhorrence of the Australian Parliament and people at the proposed tour of Australia by the Red Army Choir and request the Federal Government to declare the choir persona non grata.
Your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That regulation 2 of the amendments of the Commonwealth Motor Omnibus Fares Regulations, contained in Australian Capital Territory Regulations 1.971, No. 7, and made under the Commonwealth Motor Omnibus Services Ordinance 1955-1970, be disallowed.
– Three months ago
I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation when he would make an announcement about Trans- Australia Airlines operating routes in Northwest Australia, particularly on the Perth-Darwin route. The Minister replied: ‘Before very long’. I now ask the Minister whether he is in a positionto make that announcement. If not, when can the announcement be expected?
– I remember the question and the answer. Last night, I think in response to Senator Cant, we dealt with this matter at little length in the Senate when we were dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. One or two matters will have to be looked at in this situation. As I said before, itwill not be very long.I expect that it will be before Christmas.
– Mr President, my question is directed to you. On Thursday, 2nd December, you informed the Senate that the House Committee was of the opinion that the wearing of shorts was not appropriate in places where formal business is being transacted and that it does not accord with the dignity of the Senate chamber. I now ask whether you are aware that yesterday in the District Court at Port
Hedland, Western Australia, Judge Heenan suggested the decorum of the court would be upheld if shorts were worn and that the Judge, his associate and the usher wore shorts, shirts and ties while carrying out their public duties in court,
– My comment on that matter is that if I lived in Port Hedland I would come to court in bathing shorts.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral investigate the letter circulated to Holiday Magic Pty Ltd distributors on 26th November 1971 by a Mr R. E. Rauner, the new Managing Director of Holiday Magic Pty Ltd in which he criticises the large investments by generally uninformed members of the public and the high percentage of failures among pyramid sellers? Does this letter, which criticises the very things which Holiday Magic stands for in order to sell Holiday Magic as a respectable multi-level marketing concern, constitute fraud? Will the AttorneyGeneral also investigate the financial dealings of Mr Roland Nocera and Mr Andrew Berliner, who have now left Australia after making huge profits at the expense of uninformed members of the Australian public? Will the Attorney-General tell the Senate what is the amount of the paid up capital of Holiday Magic Pty Ltd? Will it have sufficient assets to pay its creditors should it go into liquidation?
– I have not seen the letter to which the honourable senator refers and therefore 1 am unable to express any opinion as to whether it represents or constitutes an offence as he suggests. I think that the extracts from the letter to which he refers in his question are insufficient for me to express any point of view. I also say - and this is part of the problem in coping with the practice of pyramid selling - that the Mr Rauner to whom the honourable senator refers is one of several signatories to a letter which I have received from a group which calls itself Multi-Level Distributors and which claims that it is not engaged in the practice of pyramid selling but is engaged in a multi-level selling activity. This is part of the real problem of defining pyramid selling, particularly when an organisation which is reputed to be engaged in pyramid selling says in fact that it is not and seeks to have the practice of pyramid selling regulated. As to the individuals who are mentioned, I believe that both Mr Nocera and Mr Berliner are now resident in the United States of America, although they have been in Australia. I know nothing of their activities in Australia which suggests impropriety that would warrant any investigation of their activities while- they were in Australia. The paid-up capital of Holdiay Magic is $201,000, and the greater part of that paid-up capital is held by interests in the United States of America. My information does not suggest that it would appear to be in an insolvent position.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I refer to a question 1 asked on 1st December as to whether eastern State viewers were to have the benefit of seeing an angry Mr Hawke perform on the programme Today Tonight’ shown in Perth. Can the Minister say whether the programme is to be shown in the eastern States?
– I very clearly remember the question which was asked by Senator Sim. I think 1 told him then that the question of where and when pro- . grammes were to be shown in Australia through the national television media was the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The position has not changed in that respect since I gave him. that answer. I did tell him, however, that I would refer the matter to the PostmasterGeneral so that the Postmaster-General could make such inquiries as he felt appropriate. I have not heard from the Postmaster-General, but the honourable senator’s question prompts me to pursue the matter further to find out whether it is possible for such an interesting and, I would imagine, quite revealing programme to be shown more widely throughout Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Prime Minister’s statement that up to 14,000 wool growers should be withdrawn from the industry indicate that the Government has lost faith in wool as a fibre? If so, what facilities by way of long term loans at low rates of interest does the Government propose to allow these 14,000 wool growers in order either to diversify or get out?
– Yesterday Senator Poke asked me a question along lines similar to the earlier part of the honourable senator’s question. I gave an answer to his question, and I have nothing further to add to that. In regard to the matter of finance, at the present time the Government has set up 2 committees. One is looking into the feasibility of setting up a Federal Farmloan Insurance Corporation and the second committee which has been set up within the Department of Primary Industry, is looking at the supply and the demand for rural credit. When the reports of these committees come to hand the Government will study them and then make a decision.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister or the Treasurer. Further to the question I asked a few days ago concerning the matter of having Government employees travel economy class instead of first class, will the Minister advise when the ruling to allow first class travel was introduced by the Public Service Board, whether it applies to all Government employees, and whether the Public Service Board has in fact reviewed the ruling recently in the light of the much shorter times that are now involved in flying in Australia and the improved standard of economy flying in this country?
The relevant Commonwealth Public Service regulations allowing first class travel for certain staff was introduced under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902. Not all staff employed under the Commonwealth Public Service Act are entitled to first class travel. The Public Service Board, which is the statutory body charged with administrative matters of this kind,- is undertaking an examination of the question of economy class travel by Government employees, including consideration of the factors to which the honourable senator has referred, namely, the shorter times involved in flying in Australia and indeed the improved standard of economy flying in this country. So in fact this matter is under examination at the present time.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will the Prime Minister receive a delegation comprised of leaders of political parties in Western Australia to present arguments iri support of assistance for the Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to continue its service to Darwin after 31st March 1972, which is the extended date of operations announced yesterday by the Western Australian Government? A proposal that an application for assistance be made to the Commonwealth was submitted by a motion moved in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly by the honourable member for Vasse. Has the Australian Government considered the impact on prices in the Northern Territory as a result of the cancellation of the shipping service and the added freight costs which will be incurred?
I cannot give an answer in the same depth as that of the question, but I have been informed by the Prime Minister’s Department that the Prime Minister has sent to the Premier of Western Australia a telegram suggesting that he would be prepared to meet the Premier together with Sir David Brand and the Hon. C. D. Nalder to discuss the matter. Arrangements are currently being put in hand for that meeting. At present that is the only relevant information I have.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will the Prime Minister indicate whether the Governement proposes to make an attempt to bring to an end the tragic war between the Asian” powers India and . Pakistan, both of which enjoy friendly relations with Australia? Will the Prime Minister consider taking the initiative with an approach to Australia’s partners in the Five Power Agreement, and perhaps Indonesia and the Philippines, to see whether a joint approach by the nations of this region can assist in bringing this tragic war to a speedy conclusion?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI fee! that I should refer Senator Gair’s question to Senator Wright, who represents the Minister for. Foreign Affairs in the Senate, because he may well have a brief on the situation in more detail than 1 have. However, I draw attention to ,the statement made by the Foreign Minister on this matter several days ago. Perhaps Senator Wright has some supplemental information.
– 1 would like to say to the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party that the suggestion that the group of nations to which he referred might be invited to make representations would seem to have some utility and it will be referred to the Foreign Minister. I accepted the invitation to make a supplemental answer in order to assure the Senate that the matter is under the close attention of our representatives in both Pakistan and India, and also at the United Nations. The Foreign Minister was able to tell the House of Representatives this afternoon that it may be that in the General Assembly of the United Nations initiatives will be revealed to apply the Uniting for Peace Resolution which, despite the general incapacity of the General Assembly to have an effect upon the Security Council, may provide an effective impact towards peace. As Senator Gair knows, the Foreign Minister made a full statement on the matter yesterday, defining Australia’s neutrality in the situation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Do reasonably accurate forecasts exist for the exports of oil seeds and coarse grains in the year and years immediately ahead? What are the anticipated exports of these commodities to Japan? What are the prospects of exporting these commodities to the European Economic Community?
– BROCKMAN - 1 understand that there are reasonably accurate export forecasts available, in respect of certain oil seeds, particularly maize, oats and barley. The forecast for export to Japan is reasonably good for rape seed, sunflower and sorghum, I understand. But I point out to the honourable senator that this does not mean that growers should rush into increased production, because the market may fall. On the other hand, if they were offered a guaranteed price the market could be quite good. I understand that the outlook in the European Economic Community is not bright at present. 1 have a good deal of information which, if the honourable senator would come to my office later, I will show him.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services give me any indication that the shoal of petitions from ethnic groups and trade unions seeking the acceptance by the Government of the principle of social service entitlement transferability submitted to the Senate by me recently is likely to bear fruit?
– I am unable to give the honourable senator the information that he seeks, but I will have inquiries made and I hope that the information can be provided for him expeditiously.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, ls the Minister aware that great concern is being expressed by many institutions and public bodies at the fact that for bulk postage purposes the new minimum value of postage is far too high for many such bodies to achieve discounted bulk postage rates? Will the Minister give consideration to the suggestion that one level of bulk postage should be introduced by the Department so that a minimum defined number of articles, say 100, when presented for bulk postage rates should be accepted at those rates? As this matter is of particular concern to municipalities iri both city and rural areas will the Minister give this suggestion urgent attention?
– The honourable senator will recall that this issue was canvassed fairly widely in the Senate in recent times when a Bill giving effect to the changes which resulted in the system which now operates was before the Senate. He will recall that the basic reason why these changes were made and why certain persons who previously could get discounted bulk postage rates now cannot get them is that there have been such increased costs in the Post Office that there bad to be an examination of the relative efficiency of the various discounts which were allowed. The honourable senator suggested that administratively there could be some changes. I am unable to say whether they would be effective, but 1 will undertake to ensure that the Postmaster-General is made aware of the honourable senator’s interest. I am sure that the Minister will see whether anything can be done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that a large number of Royal Australian Air Force personnel who had been given specialist training on the operation of the Fill aircraft are no longer available because of postings, promotions or retirements from the Service? If so, how many personnel are involved? Should the aircraft be accepted by the Government this year, are there sufficient trained crews and other skilled RAAF personnel to operate the aircraft effectively? If not, how long would it be before the necessary personnel were available?
– A large proportion of the total number of people who were sent to the United States of America for training under the Fill programme! - both ground crew and air crew - on returning to Australia were posted to different units throughout Australia when delivery of the Fill was deferred. A number have left the Service; a considerable number have gone to higher posts, so that of the total number trained few would be available now to work on the FI 1 1 programme. This means that if the Government should make a decision to accept the Fill aircraft, crews will have to be sent to the United States for training. Included in those crews there could be a number of men who had previous training under the Fill programme, but they would be very few. If the decision should be taken a number of men, both ground crew and air crew will be sent to the United States for training. I cannot say when this would happen because 1 do not know when the decision will be taken. As to the detailed information sought by the honourable senator as to numbers, I shall have to get that information and provide it to him.
– Has the
Attorney-General seen from time to time notices in prominent places in daily newspapers stating the value of a person’s estate when he dies? Can the Minister state whether there is a Federal requirement that this information be published? If it is not a requirement, can something be done to alter the position? This seems to be a blatant intrusion into people’s private affairs.
– 1 and I am sure all honourable senators have seen statements from lime to time as to what has been the estate left by a deceased person. The suggestion raised by the honourable senator is somewhat novel .in my experience. My belief is, and I should like to check on this and if my recollection is wrong I shall let the honourable senator know, that this information is obtained from public documents which are required to be filed in the probate offices, of the various States where they are accessible to anybody who wants to make inquiries as to what an estate is. In those circumstances the news media obviously regard the information as being of public interest, as undoubtedly in some cases it is.. ..
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport recall my 2 recent questions concerning proposals for a reorganisation of the Australian National Line’s Bass Strait shipping services and the suggestion that changes to the nature of future operations were being considered? Because of strong reports that the ANL ship ‘Empress of Australia’ is to be rescheduled and the Princess of Tasmania’ taken off the service, can the Minister advise the Senate of the nature of the new proposals? He may recall that he undertook to get this information for me. If the Minister is unable to supply this information now, will he obtain the information which seems to have reached the general public but which has not yet been made available to the Parliament?
– I can recall the original 2 questions and the honourable senator’s interest in this matter. I have not seen the reference to the ‘Empress of Australia’, but I shall try to get this information for the honourable senator this evening and. if it is available, let him have it tomorrow.
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that the licence for commercial television station 10 in Sydney is due for renewal on or before 5th January next? Will the Minister note in dealing with any application for the renewal of a licence by the present licensees that in the 1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70 reports of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board it was reported that the station had not complied with the minimum quotas laid down by the Board for either the total Australian content or, in the year 1967-68, the 2 hours Australian drama quota? Will the Minister note also that the 1970-71 report of the Control Board indicates that television station 10 had recurrent breaches of the Board’s advertising standards? In the event of there being an application for renewal of the licence by the present licensees, will the Minister inform them that they must comply with the minimum quota provisions and standards laid - down by the Board?
– I accept what the honourable senator has said, that the renewal of this station’s licence is due in the near future. For myself, I note what he said. However, he must expect that the matters which he has raised require, for the type of answer that he expects, consideration by the Postmaster-General himself. In those circumstances I can do no more than assure him that I will see that the Postmaster-General has the text of his question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Do the responsibilities of the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities and his Department extend only to tourism inside Australia or do they include advice, assistance or encouragement for Australians intending to tour abroad?
– As best I know, it is responsible for the activities of tourists within Australia and of the Australian Tourist Commission which is trying to do 2 things, firstly, to encourage a flow of people to this country and, secondly, to arrange reciprocity, to see what can be done to get people to travel overseas. The problem is to make certain that at the end of it all we get more tourists coming into die country than we have going out of it.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Why is the Government planning to use free assistance from the giant American management consultant company, McKinsey and Co. Incorporated, to help it fight the next Federal election?
– Imagine what Senator Murphy would do if this question were asked of the Australian Labor Party.
– The honourable senator has the same privilege. I also ask: Does the Government believe that it needs top level guidance and assistance from America in every move it makes, even on such a domestic matter as Australia’s federal elections? Is not an Australian firm good enough for an Australian Prime Minister? Is the Government aware of the dangers for itself and the country in hiring a Arm which has been described in the Press as ‘a handful of smooth-suited men who closet themselves in a private office in a big organisation, study the books and the system-
– Order! Senator Poke, you know my comments on these flourishes of yours.
– If I might continue, I have one line to go. The description continues: ‘and issue a report which generally means a tough cost cutting operation’.
– 1 rise to order. Although I am not concerned in this matter, Mr President, you will recall your ruling a quest/on of mine out of order some 2 weeks ago. 1 had asked the Leader of the Opposition whether there was a certain group in New South Wales providing funds for his Party. 1 ask that you nile this question out of order.
– 1 well recollect the question, Senator Webster. However, I was glancing at Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and I thought that he was licking his chops in anticipation of the question concluding. Senator Poke, have you finished your question?
– As you have not ruled me out of order, Mr President, I conclude by asking: Have we not now enough unemployment and high charges?
If 1 was licking my chops, I have now swallowed and thoroughly enjoyed it. All 1 want to say is that this question is prompted by a Press report. The Press report was hopelessly garbled and :he question is more garbled still.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the increasing devaluation of social service benefits being received by persons in the various categories, will he request the Prime Minister to grant an additional 2 weeks payment to all those recipients as a Christmas gesture?
Sen:,tor Sir KENNETH ANDERSON-
I can remember this question being asked at this time almost every year that 1 have been in the Ministry. It is a justpriorto.Christmas exercise. All I need say in reply is that it is a budgetary matter and any references to variations in the Budget are directed to the Treasurer. That will be done in this instance.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that the Government has rejected the proposal of the Western Australian Parliament for a joint Commonwealth-State study of the matter of public access to Garden Island, is the Minister prepared to table a copy of the letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier of Western Australia conveying the Commonwealth’s decision So tha! the Government’s reasons will be made available to the many people concerned in this matter?
– 1 would not be prepared to do this, nor would I be prepared to submit the request to the Prime Minister. We are now dealing with almost holy writ when we talk about communications between a Prime Minister of a country and a Premier of a State. Any communication between them is, in fact, sacred. This is a principle which has been established, not only during the life of this Government but ever since federation. There must always be communications between heads of State which very properly should not be exposed to the political arena.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, by reminding him that last week I asked him whether the independent inquiry into the repatriation system had commenced and how many winesses had been heard, and he said that the information was not available. I now ask him whether he is aware that the inquiry was opened in Sydney on Monday, 6th December 1971, and that it has been adjourned to a date to be fixed after Iiib February 1972. Can he Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that only those submissions made on or before 11th February 1972 will be considered and that it has now been decided to exclude all public hearings?
– The honourable senator knows as well as I do that when he asked me the question recently I asked him to put it on the notice paper to enable the Minister to give him an answer. That was not saying that the information was not available.
– He s ill has not given it to me.
– That is true, but the honourable senator has only just asked the question. All I propose to do in relation to the question he has asked today is to ask him to put it on the notice paper, too.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface I refer to a dispute existing in New South Wales between graziers and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, concerning the alleged proliferation of dingoes in the Barrington Tops National Park, In view of certain reservations on the part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation about aerial bait dropping, has the Minister any power, if he is of the same opinion as the conservationists, to . veto this continuation of aerial dingo bait dropping?
– Frankly, I do not know. I shall have to find out. I wonder whether this matter comes completely within the ambit of the Department of Civil Aviation. I have my own views on the merits or otherwise of dingoes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Nimmo report and the Senate select committee report on hospital and health costs each recommended that reserves of health insurance funds should be limited to 3 months contribution income? ls the Minister aware that free reserves of medical funds were at 5.2 months contribution income and of hospital funds at 8.1 months contribution income in 1969-70 - the latest year for which comprehensive data are available? How does he justify over $66m being tied up in reserves above the level recommended in either the Nimmo report or the Senate select committee report? When will reserves levels be reduced to the recommended level and how will contributors benefit? Finally, what is the justification for reserves which are unnecessary in a universal scheme anyhow?
– Basically it is true that the recommendation of the Nimmo report and. as I recall it, the Senate select committee report was that reserves of funds should be reduced. It is equally true that in the production of tables from the funds, particularly the big funds, the tables have been so pitched as to progressively reduce their reserves. As to the generality of the question posed by the honourable senator, it will be sufficient for me to say at this point of time that one does not just press a. button and say: ‘Today the funds have reserves of $66m: therefore tomorrow we will do certain things that automatically will reduce them forthwith’. A regression of reserves is taking place at this very time.
The honourable senator then went on to ask why the funds should have reserves at all. I do not think that in this company I really need answer that question. It would seem to me lo be elementary that the idea of the funds having reserves is to preserve the interests of the people who subscribe to them. If the funds were to go broke, of course, it would be a cost against the revenue. That might suit the Socialist approach, but it is not the concept of the Government. Our concept is that the funds should be organisations which people join voluntarily or freely and from which they receive benefits, lt: anyone suggests that we should just let them drift and drift until they go broke, and then have the Government pay, all I can say is that that is not our approach.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of recent reports that eggs are being used in the United Kingdom as an ingredient in the manufacture of paint? As the Australian commercial egg industry is now in a state of crisis clue to overproduction, will the Minister undertake to confer with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with a view to using its resources to investigate the possibility of using eggs in Australian manufactured paints?
– I did see a Press report on this matter but I have no details. 1 will put the suggestion to the Minister for Primary Industry and if he has any comment to offer I will conveyit to the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Has the Government any plans to increase unemployment benefits in the near future? If not, will the Minister say whether SI 8 for a man and his wife and S4.50 for each child under 16 years of age is sufficient assistance in this day and age?
– The honourable senator’s question raises a mixture of Government policy, as it may be from time to time, and a subjective approach as to what is and what is not an appropriate employment benefit. All I can say about this matter is what I said yesterday, I think, in reply to a question asked of me; that is, that I will refer the matter to the Minister for Social Services.
– Will the Minister for Health confer with his colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, to consider the desirability of establishing a faculty of general practice or family medicine in all medical schools with the aim of uplifting the standing of this form of medical practice and of halting the serious drift away from it?
The honourable senator says that there is a drift away from general practice and I think that is fair comment. There has be-M a drift away from general practice, but 1 must say that there are signs suggesting that the drift is being arrested. The honourable senator knows, as we all know, that general practice groups have been created within the framework of the medical profession and they have made many proposals for dealing with the problem of general practice. As to whether there could be general practice faculties in medical schools, I think the honourable senator would agree with me that I should get further advice on that matter from the appropriate people. I will respond to the question before we retire for the Christmas recess which I sincerely hope will be at the end of this week. May I say, with your permission, Mr President, that with that aim in view I would like to think that we can dispose of questions reasonably promptly.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and he will bc pleased to know that it is my last question today. I preface the question by reminding the Minister that a year or more ago I asked a question in the Senate about the registration of various companies in the New Hebrides - although those companies operate in Australia - so that such businesses would be able to carry out a fairly sophisticated system of tax dodging. The reply received on that occasion was that such manoeuvres by international Australian companies were not, in fact, carried out. I now ask the Minister whether he is aware that 400 companies have been incorporated in the New Hebrides during the last 12 months and that almost all of them carry out business with Australia. Will the Minister undertake as a matter of urgency to have the activities of such companies investigated? Will he ascertain whether there is any loss to Australia in the form of taxes and other Government levied charges?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think the question is two-pronged. I will refer the first prong to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the second prong to the Treasurer.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. In view of the successful test flights conducted today in Canberra »f the aircraft known as Project N, can the Minister advise the Senate whether this excellent Australian designed and manufactured aircraft has been ordered by any Government departments, including the Department of Defence, or by any commercial organisations?
– I agree with the honourable senator that the aircraft is a very good one because, like him, I have had an opportunity of seeing it and of having its potential explained to me. The honourable senator asked whether orders have come from the Department of Defence. At the present time a committee in the Department of Defence on which the Departments of Supply, Air and Army are represented is studying this matter in relation to the possible requirements of the defence Services.
The honourable senator also asked about commercial ventures which might be interested in this plane. 1 know of a number of commercial people who are very interested in the aircraft, but 1 do not think that any firm orders have been placed at this stage. From the little knowledge that I have of the aircraft and from viewing it today 1 think that in many respects it would be an ideal aircraft for commercial airlines in country areas.
– J ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. As employed persons are called upon to justify their claims for wage increases before an industrial tribunal, has the Government given consideration to calling upon employer organisations to justify increased prices, or perhaps increases in prices, before a similar type of tribunal? If the Government has not given consideration to the matter will it do so?
– I am sure that Senator McManus, with his long standing experience of industrial and economic affairs, is conscious of the breadth of this question. He will permit me to remind him that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission sits, not to fix the upper limit of wages, but to fix the minimum wage that is to be paid. Then we know it is open to parties to bargain for additional bonuses or additional remuneration.
On the question of prices the honourable senator will permit me to remind him that the restrictive trade practices legislation prevents certain practices from being entered into by private entrepreneurs and business people in regard to competitive trading. He will permit me to remind him that in the 4 eastern States of Australia there are statutes which provide for systems of supervision of consumer prices. The Commonwealth has very little direct power in that respect. But as to the proposition of having general price fixation, the honourable senator will permit me to remind him that that has long since been repudiated as a policy by this Government.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. Have the Minister’s officers been able to locate the document I presented to his predecessor, Senator Greenwood, on the structure of the Belgian social services system, with particular reference to regional appeal boards? The Minister may recall that I asked as to the whereabouts of the document shortly after his appointment to the position of Minister for Health.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI would need to institute some search in my Department if the document as such has been delayed. The honourable senator is referring to a document that was handed to the former Minister for Health, and also to supplementary information given to me. If the document has been through my office system I would hope that it has been documented and that we will be able to put our hands on it.
(Question No. 1479)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– - The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
The amendments to the Superannuation Act 1922-1969 by Act No. 46 of 1971 to provide for the preservation of superannuation rights became operative on 25 May 1971. Under the legislation, as amended -
(Question No. 1530)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is emphasised that the information in the report of the Australian Meat Research Commit tee is an interim statement. CSIRO believe that it is too early at this stage to draw any general conclusions from the data. The research programme will continue for some years in relation to both the cattle industry in central Australia and the sheep industry in eastern New South Wales. It is intended that drought years as well as favourable years will be sampled. One ofthe aspects to be closely studied is the importance of carcase damage from dingo bites in the rejection of meat in abattoirs. I am advised it is possible that this problem may be moreimportant than the deaths of livestock from dingo attack.
(Question No. 1576)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply the following question, upon notice:
– The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1597)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The Postmas- ter-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1686)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Will the Minister give sympathetic and urgent consideration to increasing unemployment entitlements to at least the maximum provided for other social service entitlements.
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the fol lowing answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Unemployment benefit rates for beneficiaries with dependents were increased under recent amending ‘ legislation. The question of further increases in the level of unemployment benefits will be considered by, the Government at the appropriate time.
(Question No. 1482)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1563)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) I have no. knowledge of any practices of a kind which would give rise to the questions by the honourable senator. However, if he supplies me with details of specific examples of such practices, I will be’ pleased to have them submitted to the appropriate authorities for investigation. The supervision of standards in nursing homes is, of course, primarily a State responsibility.
– Pursuant to the provisions of the
Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1950 I present the annual reports of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund, the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund and the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with the reports of the Auditor-General on the books and accounts of the Funds.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947, I present the report of the operations of that Act and of the operations, insofar as they relate to Australia, of the International Monetary Fund and of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a statement concerning the schools assisted under the Slates Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1968 for the period 1st July 1968 to 30th June 1971.
– Pursuant to section 50b of the War Service Homes Act 191S- 1968, I present the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes for the year ended 30fh June 1971. An interim report was presented to the Senate on 9th September 1971.
– For the information of honourable senators I present statements in relation to the conventions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 48th and 50th Sessions in 1964 and 1966 respectively.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1968, I present the annual report on the operations of the Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30th June 1971. The financial statements of Commonwealth Railways operations for the year ended 30th June 1971 were tabled on 29th September 1971.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - Pursuant to section 29 of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924-1966, I present the annual report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board for the year ended 30th June 1971. A preliminary report of the Board was presented to the Senate on 19th August 1971.
– Pursuant to section 28 of the Australian Film Development Corporation Act 1970, I present the First Annual Report of the Australian Film Development Corporation for the year ended 30th June 1971. together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s Report on those statements.
– For the information of honourable senators. I present a financial and statistical bulletin on the activities of the Australian Post Office for the year ended 30th June. 1971.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1971. Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1971. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1971. Excise Tariff Bill 1971. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1971. Export Incentive Grants Bill 1971. States Grants (Housing) Bill 1971. Homes Savings Grant Bill 1971.
– 1 present the report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources together with the minutes of evidence. .
Ordered that the report and evidence be printed.
– ] seek leave to propose a motion to take note of the report.
– Is . leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the report. This report is presented to the Senate from a’ Committee which has been in” existence for 4 years. As honourable senators are aware, the Committee was appointed on 8th November 1967, the day following the passing by the Senate of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill 1967.’ The Committee makes no excuses for the length of time it has taken to complete its task. At a very early stage in its work the Committee realised the magnitude of the task which the Senate had imposed upon it. The Senate charged the Committee to report on 8 questions which, although inter-related, could have each constituted a separate inquiry. The Committee was also faced with the fact that the legislation upon which it had to report had aroused a great deal of political argument prior to its enactment by the Parliament. In its deliberations and subsequently in the preparation of this report the Committee made every effort to reach unanimous decisions and to report on the evidence and other material and statistical data which were available to it.
For the purpose of receiving evidence and in deliberative session the Committee met on 184 occasions. During its life the Committee has had 4 Chairmen. My predecessors were Senator Wright - who initiated the motion establishing the Committee and became its first Chairman - and Senators Cotton and Greenwood, my term as Chairman commencing earlier this year, towards the latter stages of the Committee’s deliberations. To the former Chairmen I wish to convey my own and the Committee’s thanks for the substantial contributions which each of them made to the Committee’s operations.
The Committee received evidence and submissions from a wide range of witnesses covering, the Committee believes, all facets of the legislation and the industry. To all witnesses and others who made contributions to the Committee, the Committee expresses its appreciation. Of necessity, the report is voluminous and the Committee trusts that it will be found to be comprehensive. It would not have been so but for the assistance and ready cooperation of all those who made oral and written submissions and the invaluable assistance provided by officers of a number of Commonwealth departments. Mr President, in September last year the Committee presented an interim report on its first term of reference, namely, ‘Whether the constitutional conception underlying the legislation is consistent with the proper constitutional responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the Slates’. So that the full report now presented to the Parliament would be complete the interim report has been up-dated and, as amended, with, recommendations, is included in the Committee’s final report. - The Committee’s conclusions and recommendations are too numerous for me to read in full to the Senate and I believe ;o extract just a few would not do justice to the report. Accordingly, I refrain from stating any of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.- The conclusions and recommendations are to; be. found in summary form in chapter TI on pages 7 to 40. For the purpose of reporting, the Committee has divided its report into 6 parts. Part One, chapter I, describes the establishment and subsequent re-appointment of the Committee and its members, and the work and proceedings of the Committee. Part Two, chapter II, as I have already indicated, expresses, in summary form, the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee, which are classified under the headings, ‘Specific References’, ‘General References’ and ‘Other Considerations’.
Part Three, chapters III to V. provides a general introduction to the inquiry. In this Part the Committee sets out data and statistics in respect of petroleum with particular reference to the history of petroleum exploration and the development of the petroleum industry in Australia. It details the history of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States which led to the formulation of the CommonwealthState Agreement and the joint legislative scheme, and it discusses the international law situation as it affects Australia’s rights over the seabed and its resources. Part Four, entitled ‘Specific References’, chapters VI to XI, contains the Committee’s reasons for its findings in respect of the specific questions posed by the Senate in the Committee’s terms of reference 1 (a) to 1 (g). Part Five, entitled ‘General References’, containing chapters XII to XVII, details the considerations upon which the Committee founded its conclusions and recommendations in relation to term of reference 1 (h) - namely, ‘the provisions of the legislation generally’. Part Six, chapters XVIII to XX, provides the reasons in support of the conclusions and recommendations on 3 other matters - namely, defence, the Navigation Acts and training and manpower - which, although not specifically provided for in the legislation, do have considerable bearing on the application and administration of the joint legislative scheme.
In addition to, and at the end of, the Committee’s report is a dissenting report submitted by Senators Cant, Keeffe and O’Byrne who indicated their agreement with the Committee’s report subject to the reservations expressed in their dissent. Apart from these reservations, the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations are unanimous. Mr President, I here record my appreciation to all those who served on this Committee and made their contributions to the final report which is now presented. In conclusion, Mr President, I would like to express on my own behalf and also that of the Committee our sincere appreciation of the outstanding assistance and untiring efforts of Mr Keith Bradshaw and Mr Guy Smith of the Senate staff throughout the existence of the Committee. Only those who served on this Committee can fully appreciate the great amount of time - including weekends - and the personal sacrifices made by these 2 men. The Committee, like myself, is pleased to see that changes have been made in the staffing of current Senate committees, so that each committee now has its own staff and will no longer be staffed on an ad hoc basis by the procedural staff of the Senate. Copies of the report have been placed in all honourable senators’ boxes.
– 1 support the remarks made by Senator Young, particularly in respect of the Committee staff, Mr Bradshaw and Mr Smith. Their efforts were untiring. I think that on many occasions they went beyond the call of duty. Because the inquiry lasted over such a long period - more than 3i years - on many occasions they were deprived of the benefits of home life at weekends and at nights, even when the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources was not deliberating, in order to prepare material for the consideration of the Committee. I wish to attract the attention of the Senate to some of the facilities that are available for senators in Parliament House when they are serving o.n committees. I insist that the House facilities be made available to honourable senators when they are meeting in Canberra so that they may be able properly to carry out their functions.
It is not the right of any officer or any Department to determine what number of senators shall be present in Canberra before a meal will be served in Parliament House. Yet this was the position that we found when we came to Canberra for committee meetings. We were constantly unable to obtain an evening meal. The consequence of this was that although on many occasions the committee wanted to sit at night, consideration had to be given to the fact that once members of a committee leave Parliament House at night to have a meal elsewhere they do not reassemble. The same situation applies when an honourable senator wants to do some homework with respect to the committee after it has adjourned for the day. If he leaves this place to obtain a meal elsewhere he does not come back. With the growth of the committee system there should be an inquiry into the facilities that are available to honourable senators who serve on committees. We had the position here one night when 23 senators who had been serving on committees were present in Canberra but no evening meal was available for them.
– It is nothing to write home about when it is available.
– The honourable senator can have his say later. Unless proper facilities are made available to honourable senators the work of Senate committees will deteriorate. It will be found that the time taken by committees in deliberation will be extended. In any case, if honourable senators come to Canberra the facilities of the House should be made available to them. I emphasise that I do not make any criticism of any of the House staff. The present situation seems to be an arrangement which has grown up and with which officers have to comply, or which by habit or practice is complied with, and with the growth of the committee system there has been no change. I suggest that there should be a change. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present an interim report from the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation. I ask for leave to have a short statement incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
Mr President, the Interim Report I have just presented from the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits legislation attempts nothing more than to explain why it has not been possible for the Committee to complete its Inquiry in time to present its final report to the Parliament during the present sittings.
Since we commenced our investigations we have been aware that dissatisfaction with the present scheme for providing Retirement Benefits was widespread and that there was a need for some positive remedial action. It has been our aim to complete the Inquiry in time to present a final report during the course of this present year. The Committee actually, completed taking evidence on the Inquiry in July of this year and has met regularly since that date. We have now reached the stage where the main policy issues confronting us have been resolved.
However, your Committee has wished to obtain certain financial information before we can confidently make specific recommendations concerning the scheme. For a number of reasons which will be covered in the Committee’s final report it has not been possible to obtain such information in the form required.
The Committee has now requested information from the Actuary on a different basis which it is hoped will be received early in 1972 and your Committee expects to present its final report early in the next sittings of Parliament.
– by leave - I should like to make a quick comment which I think might be helpful to the Senate. I remind honourable senators tht the other place intends to complete its present series of sittings some time tomorrow. Whether it will finish early or lateI do not know. If the Senate wishes to complete its business reasonably soon after the other place has finished, although this might involve the Senate meeting on Friday, I would suggest with great respect that there would be a need for a high degree of self discipline among us all in dealing with the various matters that we have to consider. Our problem is to get through a consideration of the reports by the Estimates Committees today so that we have tomorrow and possibly some time on Friday to deal with a number of Bills, many of which we will be able to deal with in cognate debates. An essential ingredient in this timetable is an endeavour by us to dispose of the Estiniates dealt with by Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2).
– J seek leave to make a ministerial statement pursuant to a question that was asked yesterday by Senator Jessop about the legalisation of marihuana.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable senators will recall that Senator Jessop’s question made reference to the legal aspects of the possession of marihuana and to statements attributed to an Opposition member in another place that its use shouldbe legalised. Senator Jessop also asked whether the use of this so-called soft drug could leadto experimentation with more dangerous drugs. In view of the extensive Press coverage, I consider that it is unnecessary for me to name the member concerned, and I do not intend to do so. However, in Monday’s ‘Canberra News’, in yesterday’s ‘Australian’ and again this morning the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. this member was reported to have advocated legalisation of the use of marihuana.
It is, I feel, quite unnecessary for me to elaborate on the legal aspects of the possession or use of marihuana. Most citizens have at least a general idea of the prohibitions imposed by the law in that field. Honourable sentors will be aware that these recent Press reports arose out of a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia from a Dr Nicholas Ribush, who is presently employed by the Queensland Department of Health. Dr Ribush’s letter implied that relatively large numbers of doctors in Australia use marihuana and stated that the use of that drug is safe. As far as this letter is concerned, I feel that I need do no more than refer to a statement made yesterday in the Queensland Parliament by the Queensland Minister for Health, Mr Tooth, and to a statement in yesterday’s ‘Canberra Times’ attributed to the Chairman of the Victorian Faculty of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Dr Ferguson. The Queensland Minister said that Dr Ribush’s statement was apparently based on nothing more than the reading of readily available literature on this subject. Dr Ferguson described as ‘rubbish’ the statement that hundreds of doctors throughout Australia were using marihuana. So much for Dr Ribush’s letter.
I now wish to deal with the broader questions of the dangers involved in the use of marihuana and the attitude of this and other governments to that matter. First, let me make it clear that this Government is opposed to legalisation of the use of marihuana. As Commonwealth Minister for Health, I positively do not share the views of Dr Ribush and the Australian Labor Party member concerned. My colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) also has made it abundantly clear that he deplores ‘irresponsible statements made by irresponsible people, even if they are doctors’. But the question of governmental policies goes further than that. In his statement to the Queensland House yesterday, Mr Tooth made it clear that strict control over marihuana would always remain the policy of the Queensland Government. Furthermore, the New South Wales Minister for Health yesterday said in the State Parliament that he had no doubt of the highly dangerous effects of the use of marihuana, and he described as ‘regrettable’ the fact that persons such as members of Parliament should support its use. To round off this point of governmental policies, I must stress that controls over the possession and use of marihuana in Australia are consistent with an international convention of 1961, which has now been ratified by 79 nations, including Australia.
With regard to the medical profession’s own viewport, I would make reference to a statement in the ‘Australian’ of last Monday, in which the Federal President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is reported to have said that his College - a most eminent body - is vigorously opposed to the improper use of any drug and cannot condone the use of marihuana. In conclusion, I ask honourable senators to address themselves to the report by the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. This Committee has slated:
A person who does nol experiment with one of the milder drugs is unlikely to use the stronger drugs. However, a considerable proportion of persons who smoke marihuana have basic personality disorders which would make them likely to abuse any drug. When supplies of marihuana are unavailable, some of its users turn to other drugs in search of the pleasurable sensations or the escape provided by marihuana. Having experimented with marihuana successfully, some people will seek the same or greater pleasures from other drugs.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that authoritative opposition to the use of marihuana is overwhelming. I join with my colleague, the Minister for Customs and -Excise, and the State Minister in deploring moves for the legalisation of marihuana.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide financial assistance to the State of South Australia to enable that State to make moneys available to Jon Preserving Cooperative Limited and Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Limited. The cooperative canneries in South Australia and in New South Wales which take fruit grown in irrigation areas have been in financial difficulty for some time. The increasing indebtedness of the cooperatives had reduced returns to growers to- the point where serious hardship was experienced. In these circumstances a . thorough examination of the long term problems of the canned deciduous fruit industry was made by an interdepartmental committee during 1970.
This examination showed that the position of the industry in certain irrigation areas could . not - be corrected and would be likely to deteriorate seriously unless the canneries were provided with some assistance to overcome the problems of servicing their long term debts. These debts were at an abnormally high level in each of the canneries for several significant reasons. In the first place, devaluation of sterling left each of the canneries with a considerable loss on sales made forward without exchange cover. In the second place, the last 2 years have seen adverse crop yields. These have seriously affected the through-put, the average production cost and thus the profitability and cash flows of the canneries. In the third place, high capital cost of new equipment and inadequacy of old plant and machinery has seriously affected the profitability of both canneries.
Following discussions between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Governments, it was assessed .hat for the Jon Preserving Co-operative relief from commitments to service long term debts to the extent of $780,000 would be required and for the Riverland Co-operative similar relief in respect of long term debts of $1.8m was necessary. The Commonwealth and State Governments agreed to share equally in providing this assistance. The Bill authorises financial assistance to the State of South Australia to an amount equal to the amount expended by the State in making advances to Jon Preserving Cooperative Limited and Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Limited up to $390,000 in the case of Jon Preserving Cooperative Limited and $900,000 in the case of Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Limited.
The Bill provides that payment of the amount is subject to such conditions, if any, as the Minister by instrument in writing determines, and the conditions may require payment of the whole or part of the amount. The intention is that the advances made from Commonwealth and State funds lo the canneries will be made on terms which will relieve the cooperative of debts servicing obligations for the time being, but the money will be provided by way of loan rather than grant. The Commonwealth and State Ministers concerned will review the affairs of the canneries from time to time and, if circumstances should make this possible or appropriate, repayment can be required.
Both the Commonwealth and State governments would of course have preferred that the need for this ‘ assistance had not arisen. The facts were, however, that the growers and communities on which these canneries depend would be faced with grave disruption and severe personal hardship if some way of relieving the canneries from the effects of their long term indebtedness commitments had not been found. This Bill seeks Parliament’s authority for measures decided upon in consultation with the State concerned to meet a critical situation in the most appropriate way. In addition a Canned Deciduous Fruits Advisory Committee has been set up by the Australian Agricultural Council. This Committee has membership from the Commonwealth, from the States and from growers and canners. It is charged with the responsibility of inquiring into the means by which the long term problems of the industry can be resolved and making recommendations to the Australian Agricultural Council. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Donald Cameron) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time. .
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The content and purpose of this Bill are similar- to those of the Bill which I have just introduced. The Bill provides for the provision of financial assistance to the State of New South Wales to the extent of $874,000 conditional upon the State making an advance of an equal amount to Leeton Co-operative Cannery Limited to enable that co-operative to reduce its financial indebtedness. The circumstances and reasons, for the high indebtedness are similar to those which I have explained in respect of the South Australia Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill 1971. The Canned Deciduous Fruits Advisory Committee to which reference was made in introducing the South Australia Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill 1971 will also report to the Australian Agricultural Council with respect to the long term problems of the industry in New South Wales. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate “(on morion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill was foreshadowed in a statement I made in the Senate on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) on 29th April 1971, which said that the Government had considered a suggestion by a number of leading industry associations, that there would be advantage in having the simpler types of tariff cases dealt with by one member of the Tariff Board so that decisions on them could be reached more quickly. The cases concerned are those which are generally referred to as non-tariff revision cases. It was mentioned then that the Government had decided there would be advantage in the following matters being handled in this way - customs by-laws, both admissions under by-law and certain cases of cancellation of by-laws; tariff classification; dumping; the addition of goods to the New Zealand-Australia free trade area; and questions relating to the granting of entry of products from developing countries. It was said that it was proposed to introduce amendments to the Tariff Board Act to allow for the addition of a ninth member to the Board and to authorise the Chairman of the Board to appoint singlemember boards to inquire into the types of cases mentioned. This is not possible under the present Act.
This Bill gives effect to the amendments talked about on that occasion. The Bill will permit the expansion of the membership of the Tariff Board from 8 to 9, and will give the Chairman authority to appoint single-member divisions of the Board to inquire into and report on references from the Ministers concerned in certain types of cases. In addition the Bill provides for certain changes of an administrative nature. The Government’s purpose in making (he proposed changes is to achieve maximum expedition in the Tariff Board’s handling of non-tariff revision matters referred lo it, while, at the same time,enhancing its general work capacity. Full discussions in relation to the proposed changes were held with the Chairman of the Tariff Board.
The average rime now being taken between the sending of a ministerial reference to the Tariff Board and the receipt of a report from the Board for references of all types is almost 2 years. Generally, nontariff revision cases are considerably less complex and can be dealt with more expeditiously than those involving tariff revision. References involving the admission of goods under by-law are expected to constitute the major workload, and it is important to the Government and the companies concerned that early reports be received on these references because goods are often in transit when applications for by-law admission are made and major investment decisions may be involved, lt is expected that the introduction of the one-member board system should permit reports .In cases of this type - that is, questions of the admission of goods under by-law - being made within 3 months of a reference to the Board.
The new member is being appointed primarily to enable the expeditious handling of non-tariff revision cases. He will also be available, should the Chairman so wish, to assist in the Board’s work generally. The Chairman may appoint any member of the Board to constitute a single-member division of the Board for non-tariff revision inquiries. This arrangement will provide the Chairman with maximum flexibility in undertaking the Board’s overall work programme. Under the proposed arrangements, where the appropriate Minister, either the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Minister for Trade and Industry, refers lo the Board a non-tariff revision matter of the types concerned he may direct that the inquiry and report may be made by a division of the Board constituted by a single member. The normal expectation is that it shall be so dealt with. However, there may be occasions where it is more appropriate for the matter to be handled by a normal division of the Tariff Board. For example, it often happens that separate references are made to the Board on the same products for inquiries into dumping and tariff review. Tn such circumstances it may be convenient for the inquiries on both matters to be dealt with concurrently, avoiding duplication of evidence and public hearings, thus enabling the presentation of an earlier report on the dumping question than if it were handled separately. To enable such a procedure in appropriate cases the Chairman is provided with a discretion to determine the allocation of non-tariff revision cases as appropriate between single-member divisions of the Board and normal divisions of the Board.
There may also be non-tariff revision cases where the issues are of such significance that consideration by a singlemember division of the Board would not be appropriate. The cancellation of by-laws in areas of high tariffs that have not been looked at by the Board for many years is one example. In those cases consideration of whether the substantive duties are appropriate could be involved. Other examples are complex inquiries under the provisions of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Important inquiries such as these would not be considered appropriate for a single-member division of the Board. Inquiries conducted by singlemember divisions of the Board will be subject to the same procedural arrangements as those which apply to normal tariff revision inquiries. That is to say, they will be held in public, evidence will be taken on oath and reasonable notice of such inquiries will be given in the ‘Gazette’ and the Press.
The Bill also contains a number of administrative changes which have awaited a suitable opportunity for inclusion in the Tariff Board Act. Provision is being made for a Deputy Chairman to be appointed as Acting Chairman of the Board in the case of the absence of the Chairman. This corrects an existing anomaly. Previously, a Deputy Chairman was required lo perform all the functions of the Chairman in the latter’s absence but no provision existed whereby he could be formally appointed as Acting Chairman. Provision is also being made to permit the retirement of a member by the Governor-General with the consent of the member, and for resignation of a member upon acceptance by the GovernorGeneral of his resignation. In the present Act the only provision relating to the termination of an appointment provides for suspension by the Governor-General of a member for misbehaviour or incapacity. A statement of the grounds of suspension must be laid before both Houses of Parliament and the suspension must be removed unless each House passes an address praying for the member’s removal on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. These procedures are considered to be inappropriate in the cases of enforced retirement, for example because of invalidity, or where a member wishes to resign for personal reasons. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1971-72 In Committee
Consideration resumed from 7 December (vide page 2482).
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, $39,680,000.
– I want to raise 2 matters. The first one concerns the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the current methods of controlling wastage from the Lucas Heights establishment into the Georges River. As you would know, Mr Temporary Chairman, from your activities when you were Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, the Atomic ^Energy Commission’s claims about safeguards have not always proved correct. I do not want to fan the flames of the past and I will just mention that magic phrase, the Finniss River fiasco. I want an assurance from the Minister for. Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), on behalf of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), that the same kind of thing does not happen again. I have in mind the Shell Oil Company refineries on the upper reaches of the Parramatta River and at Corio Bay. As the Minister knows, that company uses what are known as intercepters which they hope will, as time goes on, reduce the impurities going into those waters. With this in mind I want to refer to the existing controls that the Atomic Energy Commission has on wastage from Lucas Heights.
As I understand from evidence given to the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, there is a tripartite observation group consisting of the Atomic Energy Commission people, officers of the New South Wales Department of Health and, I think, officers of the New South Wales :Maritime Services Board keeping an eye on what is happening at Lucas Heights. Being a New South Welshman the Minister for Civil Aviation is well aware that there has always been some disquiet about the oyster beds in the Georges River. This matter has been ventilated frequently by -my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland. 1 do not want to raise a scare by suggesting that radioactive material is going into the river but J am suggesting that there is other waste that can be detrimental to the environment.
Mindful of the request made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator, Sir Kenneth Anderson, about the time difficulties facing the Senate, I content myself with asking whether I can get some authoritative statement about the pollution standards -that apply. Are the standards mentioned in evidence given to the Water Pollution Committee to be the be all and end all? If more effective methods of controlling waste are developed will they be used? So far as the monitoring of samples taken from the river is concerned, is this still, in effect, an appeal from Caesar to Caesar in that the sophisticated equipment and technical know-how required to monitor the river samples is available only to the Commission? In North America, as I think the Minister would be aware, there is a tendency to have other people with equal technical know-how monitoring these readings and not to leave it to the atomic research people. I know these are provocative questions for the Minister’s advisers but I would like clear answers.
The other matter I want to raise refers to the River Murray .Commission. In the answers I received to questions Nos 1481 and 1490. it was indicated that the River Murray . Commission has little .if any consultation with the wildlife agencies of New South. Wales and Victoria.. A few nights ago honourable senators engaged in a long debate on the shortcomings of the Office of the Environment. I respectfully suggest that every Commonwealth department has a distinct obligation to pay more than lip service to conservation. In the answers 1 received to those 2 questions it was made quite, clear that the River Murray Commission has no liaison with the, wildlife authorities I mentioned. Anyone who has done any research on the ibis and other Australian bird life is aware that in the various works produced by the Commonwealth Scientific and. Industrial . Research Organisation authorities emphasis .is placed on preservation of habitat. Evidence on . this matter was given to the Water Pollution Committee and I am sure, that you, Mr Temporary Chairman, would deal with me if I broke the oath relating to evidence given in camera on this subject. The officers concerned may not actually have given specific evidence on this subject to the Committee but they indicated to me over a cup of coffee. during the morning tea adjournment that in their hearts they Were , with the conservation cause, and that: they wanted to maintain the balance of nature. ‘
I will digress a little arid refer honourable, senators to the current issue of ‘Time’ magazine, dated 6th December 1971. At page 43 there is reference to action proposed by the President . of the United States, Mr Nixon, to acquire a large tract of land. 547,000 acres, that is under siege. The area is known as the Big Cypress Swamp. The President has asked Congress to authorise taking over that land. I know the situation here is not quite the same but the same principle is involved. I ask that there be quarterly conferences between the River Murray Commission and the New South Wales and Victorian authorities. I have circulated the answers I received to question No. 1481 and question No. 1490 to the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Nature Conservation of New South Wales and one or two other bodies. I issue a friendly warning to the officers that they can expect some agitation over this matter so that more than lip service will be paid to this ideal. I am sorry that Senator Lawrie is not present in the chamber. He worries about my views about certain animals in our continent. However in the case I have put forward I do not think any costly adjustments are involved; just a little bit of live and let live. I leave those thoughts with the Minister and I hope for some reply.
– I want to direct some questions to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) about the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I refer to the take-over of Woodside Oil NL and Mid-Eastern. Oil NL by the Burmah. Oil Company group. If my memory serves me rightly the permit areas for 140,000 square miles on the north and north-west coast of the Australian continent were issued to Woodside Oil, MidEastern Oil and the Burmah Oil group. The assets of the 2 Australian companies, Woodside Oil and Mid-Eastern Oil, were the permit areas and the prospect of finding petroleum there. They have found petroleum although at this stage, as far as I know, application has not been made for licences. Application may be made at any time within 2 years. However, these are the assets of the 2 Australian companies. Honourable senators will remember that some time ago I raised the question of the Burmah take-over of Woodside and MidEastern, on the basis of information supplied to me by a director, one Mr Hughes Jones. Since that time there has been a 60 per cent acceptance of the Burmah offer by Mid-Eastern and a 70 per cent acceptance by the directors or the shareholders of Woodside. The offer is now unconditional. Mr Hughes Jones has now advised all the shareholders in the 2 Australian companies to accept the offer made by Burmah, otherwise they would find themselves with a bundle of worthless scrip. This scrip can become worthless only if the permit areas held by Woodside and Mid-Eastern, either in their own names, separately or jointly, or jointly with Burmah oil, are transferred to the Burmah group.
This takes in several of the other overseas companies such as Shell and Caltex because of international arrangements. My question, Mr Minister, is this: Has the Designated Authority of Western Australia and the Designated Authority of the Northern Territory agreed to a transfer of the permit areas to the Burmah group? Have Woodside and Mid-Eastern, either or both, any interest in the permit areas at the present time? Under clause 11 of the agreement which underpins the petroleum submerged lands legislation it is provided that before the transfer or otherwise of a title - if 1 might use that in the broad term - the Commonwealth must be consulted. Has the Commonwealth been consulted as to the transfer of title from MidEastern and/or Woodside and/or both? Has the Commonwealth Minister notified the Western Australia Designated Authority that consultation is not necessary? Has the Minister for National Development who administers the petroleum submerged lands legislation agreed to a transfer of the Woodside-Mid-Eastern permits or that portion of them which they hold in equity being transferred to the Burmah oil company?
– Senator Mulvihill asked 2 questions relating to 2 separate matters. Firstly, I shall deal with the River Murray Commission and the problems that were raised by the honourable senator about wildlife conservation. The function of the River Murray Commission is to supply water to State government water authorities. It is a joint Commonwealth-State body and has no control over the use of the water. The Department of National Development would expect that the relevant State water authority and the State governments represented on the River Murray Commission would attend to the fauna conservation matters which are within their own ambit, because fundamentally that is where the responsibility lies. In this instance I will take the trouble to see that the responsible Minister for National Development gets to read what the honourable senator has said and the answer 1 have given. If the honourable senator wishes to add anything or to take the matter further, it is for him to do so.
I am. afraid that 1 cannot give Senator Mulvihill any help on the question he raised about nuclear power stations, the problems at Lucas Heights arid monitoring to establish the necessary levels of purity in the rivers. The honourable senator will appreciate my difficulty. I do not have representatives from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to advise me today. I have only 2 officers from the Department of National Development and I think it would be improper to give .the honourable senator information other than what is made available to me. 1 will seek the honourable, senator’s indulgence and ask him to communicate his question to the Minister for National Development who no doubt would approach the Atomic Energy Commission to obtain the answer for which the honourable senator has asked. 1 do’ not think that I can be of any more help than that.
asked a number of questions and my advisers from the Department of National Development have informed me that they cannot at the moment supply the detailed information for which I have been asked. The honourable senator will appreciate thai 1 represent the Minister for National Development in this place, ft is not possible to bring along the full team of advisers that . one would bring to a Senate Estimates Committee to answer questions. There is no room in thi Senate for this to be done. One would not be able to handle the managerial problems that are involved here. Therefore I shall also direct the honourable senator’s detailed questions from the Hansard record to the Minister, who will obtain through his Department the information that is required.
– I believe that Senator Mulvihill has another question which he wishes to ask, but I shall interpose with a question in case some information has to be sought by the Minister’s advisers! I want to ask the Minister directly a question concerning oil leases in the Great Barrier Reef area. I ask: What has happened to those leases which are being held in abeyance? What is the number of those leasees? Further 1 want to ask what assistance nas been given by the Department of National Development to the royal commission on the Great Barrier Reef and what assistance is to be given in the future. Also, is. there any . clear indication of that Department’s attitude in this direction? Is the advice which the Department is giving to .the royal commission in support of the drilling or is it against the proposition?. .
In order to avoid having to speak later on this, matter, to follow lip my remarks and lb give some advice to the Department through, the Minister’ on,, this problem of drilling on the Great Barrier Reef, I refer the Department to the report on off-shore petroleum resources which was tabled earlier iri the day by Senator Young,’ a report that ‘ has taken’ so much ‘investigation and so ‘much research before’ ‘it was compiled and which contains a number of recommendations. May I direct the; Department’s attention to one of the recommendations to which. ‘ I will be referring from lime to time, possibly without number. This is a recommendation which gives me, and all conservationists who have been concerned about the Great Barrier Reef, great heart. The recommendation appears on page 36 of the report, if the rest of the recommendations . are in line with this one then it is an excellent report. The recommendation, which, is a most excellent one from my point of view, as weir as from the point of view of all people who support the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, states:
That until sufficient information has been gathered and it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that off-shore exploration for or exploitation of petroleum fields on the Great Barrier Reef or in the waters surrounding the Reef is unlikely to. cause’ damage to the Reef and ils marine life, appropriate legislative action should be taken to prohibit exploration for and exploitation nf petroleum in the province area of the Great Barrier Reef. “
The recommendation refers to paragraph 13.55. I repeat: . . appropriate legislative action be taken to prohibit exploration for and exploitation of petroleum in the province area of the Great Barrier Reef.
The province area of the Great Barrier Reef extends almost 1,200 miles down the Queensland coast and in some places it reaches out 170 miles from the coast. I ask the Department to keep this recommendation in mind. There will be considerable pressure for the implementation of the legislation which this Committee report recommends. I have asked this series of questions, Mr Minister: How many leases; what is happening to those leases; what support has been given to the Royal Commission and in what way; and in future will the Department consider this excellent recommendation which suggests that there be no oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef until such time as the necessary research has been carried out to prove such oil drilling to be safe to the area?.
– For the elucidation of those who are preparing the statement which the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has promised me I point out that T am interested, when the real crunch comes in relation to water levels, as to the procedure which is followed by the River Murray Commission when a vote is necessary. Does the Commonwealth have the overriding consideration? In relation to the background basis of the matter to which I referred - the Minister’s advisers will know what 1 am getting at - we all know the terrific upheaval which occurred over the Florida Everglades and the conflict between United States Army engineers, reclamation people and conservationists. If I substitute the River Murray Commission for the United States Army engineers in the situation the Minister’s advisers will know what I am getting at. 1 leave the matter at that.
– I shall say a few words in relation to a report which was implemented by the River Murray Commission some 12 or 15 months ago. It related to salt in the River Murray and the fears that a group of farmers in the Mallee area pf Victoria have if the proposals in the report are implemented. The main offending stream in the area is Bar Creek. I cannot recall the number of tons of salt which Bar Creek poured into the River Murray yearly. At this stage my correspondence does not allow me to follow the story right through but it appears that as a result of co-operation between the River Murray Commission and the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Victoria this water has been diverted into Lake TucheWOP. At this time not a great deal of concern is felt by the farmers in the district but the scheme proposes that the water shall be taken further, namely, to Lake Tyrrell by way of an open channel - when it is dug - with a capacity of 200 cusecs. Because of the rising water tables of saline water, because of the open channel method of moving the water from one lake to another and because of seepage problems inherent in such traffic of water, the wheat growers in the area are very concerned. They believe that the rising water table will ultimately spoil their land for wheat growing or any other purpose. I have no axe to grind. One can appreciate the situation of vine and fruit growers further down the river in relation to the salt problem which they have.
I believe it is quite right that some attempt, should be made to desalinate this water or the river. But I fail to see why the problems of one farmer should be off-loaded on to another in a different area. The Ultima and District Dryland Farmers Protection League has approached me. It has the support of local organisations and local government, lt is in constant touch with the River Murray Commission whose president is Mr Swartz. In a copy of a letter dated 11th June this year, which I have here, he declined to address that body. I am not suggesting that there is any ulterior motive behind the president’s move in this regard, but 1 do know that the farmers in this area are very concerned. They have tried by way of letter and by contact with such bodies as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to find out the cost of a desalination plant in the area. Until 3 weeks ago they had not even received a . reply from the CSIRO as to the cost or the feasibility of setting up such a desalination plant.
I am not quite clear whether the River Murray Commission has washed its hands of implementing this report or whether it still retains some interest in the matter. J would like to have some questions in relation to this matter answered. In fact, I have already made representations on behalf of this body to the River Murray Commission. It seems to me that very shortly there will be some agitation in relation to the problems it is suggested these farmers will face if this water is moved via open channel between these 2 lakes.
– I think Senator Georges asked 3 questions. I shall not necessarily take them in the order in which he asked them but as I recall them and as I made notes about them. The hon- ourable senator referred to the excellent report by the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources which has been tabled this afternoon. Speaking for myself I must say that I was delighted to see that tremendous work concluded and given to the Senate because I was involved with the Committee for quite a long time. 1 thought that the report looked first class. Tt was as J thought it would be after the immense amount of work done by the Committee and its advisers. I think it will do the Senate great credit. The honourable senator can be quite sure that the Department of National Development will take the matter most seriously because, as a department, it helped to lead off this work. It provided expert witnesses for the Committee from time to time. The first evidence given to the Committee was given by. the Department through Mr Livermore. The Department during the time that 1 served on the Committee was more than helpful in relation to any work which the Committee sought to do. I think that that can be fairly said of the Department.
The. honourable senator referred to certain recommendations which were of inter- est to him, particularly in regard to the Great Barrier Reef. During the time I was on the Committee I took a lot of interest in that matter, as I think will be agreed. I have not had a chance to read the report yet or the Committee’s recommendations. All I say to the honourable senator is that for myself I expect the Department and the Minister to take the matter seriously. I do not think that I need to say anything more about that. The honourable senator spoke about the Great Barrier Reef inquiry and the situation of this Department at whose estimates we are looking. It is my information that from time to time the Department of National Development provided expert witnesses to help the Great Barrier Reef Royal Commission. 1 think that the Department took an interest in the matter which one would expect it to take.
The honourable senator asked some detailed questions about the state of various oil leases in the area of the Barrier Reef. I have some general information for the honourable senator which bears on the matter. The islands and the reefs - however small - which are .permanently above high water are part of the State of Queensland. They come under Queensland jurisdiction in exactly the same way as does the mainland area of Queensland. The joint Commonwealth-State scheme on offshore petroleum has accorded the Queensland Government jurisdiction . over internal waters off the Great Barrier Reef region; that is. the bays which have been enclosed by the baseline in accordance with the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial Seas. These internal waters are thus to be treated in the same way as land. Any petroleum exploration titles over those areas would be issued under Queensland’s own State . petroleum law arid not under the joint Commonwealth-State legislation. All Queensland titles in respect of exploration for or production pf petroleum from the sea bed under the territorial waters and from the continental shelf are issued under the joint Commonwealth-Stale scheme, having been transitional from previously granted State titles. As to other minerals, Queensland has granted under its own law a small number of authorities to prospect in territorial waters: That is as much information as I am able to give the honourable senator at the moment. 1 have to rest that matter there.
Senator Mulvihill spoke about the River Murray Commission and his concern as to where the balance of voting might lie, with particular reference to water levels and the amount of water that might pass from one State to another. I suppose the best way to describe the situation is that there is a consortium of the Commonwealth and 3 States- New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Those” 3 States and the
Commonwealth work in conceit and they have equal voting rights on the River Murray Commission. I think from that Senator Mulvihill could establish the general position as it would affect the situation that he contemplates. I know the honourable senator’s interest in the Florida matter. There is no doubt that it is an observation to be taken into account. These are problems of water resource management for what I call joint landlords in effect. They : can affect some other tenant or a landlord who becomes a tenant. They : always produce problems of management. In fact, these problems have to be resolved by the partnership agreeing to serve the interests of the partnership in the best possible fashion. I think the observations that ;the honourable senator made are valuable in this regard.
Senator Primmer referred to salinity. I can remember the Senate at an earlier stage dealing quite exhaustively with the problem of salt slugs passing down the River Murray into areas of the State of South Australia which are much lower down the River Murray. I think we all have to agree that South Australia is very deficient in water resources. I think it can fairly be said that water means more to South Australia relatively than it means probably to many other States. The salt slugs are of great importance to that State. With increasing levels ‘ of salinity in the water, there is the prospect of rendering ineffective great areas of irrigated land Which grow citrus and vine fruits and other types of deciduous fruits. There was great concerted action by the Commonwealth and the States to try to overcome the problem of these salt slugs. One of the methods used was to pass them out of the river earlier into various lake systems, principally, I imagine, in Victoria. I think that is the problem which Senator Primmer is canvassing here. Of course, there could be flow-on effects for people who are growing grain crops around those lakes. They would be concerned that they might themselves suffer in turn. The Commonwealth Government granted up to $3.6m to divert salt water from Bar Creek away from the Murray for the reasons I have mentioned. The consultants’ report is very complex and is under very close study. As yet no firm decisions have been made concerning the consultants’ recommendations.
The Bar Creek works, are owned and operated by the Victorian Government. There, have been no reports from that Government of detrimental effects. The function of the work is kept under review. I. will convey to the Minister the honourable senator’s question, about the transfer to Lake Tyrrell through an open channel.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, 890,936,000.
Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) (4.38>- ‘My inquiry relates to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. Can the Minister inform me as to the extent, if at all, that the Commonwealth directs the States in the allocation- to specific roads of moneys provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement? I seek this information following ‘ complaints that I have received from a number of country district councils to the effect that on their seeking greater local ‘ government determination as to which specific roads should have funds expended on them, the local government authorities’ have been told by State authorities that their, hands are tied by dictation and direction from the Commonwealth. Can the Minister clarify the position for me? If he cannot do so at this stage, can he advise mc at some future time?
– I take the opportunity of extending some of the questions I asked during the sittings of Estimates Committee D in respect of the Eyre Highway. I wish again to put before the Government the need for a renewed look at the request of the South Australian Government for increased aid to bituminise the Eyre- Highway. The answers given by the officers from the Department of Shipping and Transport are contained in the report of Estimates Committee D. I asked:
For how many years has the contribution to south Australia in respect of the Eyre Highway remained at $25,000?
The answer provided is as follows:
Since 1947-48 the Commonwealth has provided financial assistance towards the cost of maintaining the highway in South Australia and Western Australia (from Penong in South Australia to Norseman, in Western Australia - 723 miles). The payments were made from the Commonwealth Aid Roads Trust Account prior to 1959-60 and from Annual Appropriations since 1st July 1959.
The payments to each of South Australia and Western Australia have been at the rate of $25,000 per annum since 1st July 1961. The condition of payment is that the State expends at least an equal amount on the highway during the financial year.
I raised also the related question that on a number of occasions senators from South Australia or Western Australia have asked whether the Department itself will conduct a survey in respect of the traffic which uses the road. Estimates have been made by outside bodies, but the aim of such a survey would be to indicate the kinds of vehicles that travel on this road. For example, it has been contended by most of the various authorities and the State Government that the vehicles using the road are interstate vehicles in the main, if not the vehicles of tourists, and a very small proportion in fact are South Australian vehicles. I again raise that question with the Minister to ascertain whether any recent consideration has been given to having a survey made which may be studied by the officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport in conjunction perhaps with tourist groups to see whether the vehicles which use the Eyre Highway can be correctly identified. It seems to me that this would give some substance to the claim by South Australia that more assistance should be given to that State to bituminise the highway. As you will recall, Mr Temporary Chairman, an offer was made recently by the State Government that if the Commonwealth Government provided S9m the South Australian Government would then spend $3m. I understand that South Australia is now spending the $3m anyway. Fairly recently Mr Dunstan raised at the tourist conference which was held in New Guinea the need to surface the road purely on the basis of the assistance which the Commonwealth might give to tourism. I put that matter before the Committee again. It follows representations made by many South Australians. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will follow up actively the suggestions that have been made.
– I wish to raise a matter under Division 490, Commonwealth Railways. On 2nd November I raised in the Senate a matter dealing with a report which appeared in the ‘Sunday Mail’ of 30th October which was attributed to the Com monwealth Commissioner of Railways, Mr Keith Smith, when he revealed that S250m was to be expended on a standard gauge rail link between Adelaide- and Darwin. In his reply the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) said:
The position is that the Commonwealth is committed by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act and the 1949 Railway Agreement (South Australia) Act to the eventual construction of a standard gauge line from Darwin to Port Augusta. The Commonwealth agreed in principle to tha construction of the new standard gauge line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs to, replace the existing narrow gauge line. The Surveyor-General has surveyors studying detailed routes of this line. This will be a major step in fulfilling these obligations. But there are no plans for constructing the line beyond Alice Springs at this stage. This is as much information as I have.
Two days later, on 4th November, I asked a question which related- to a question asked by another honourable senator that day. The previous day I had asked for a report on this project. The Minister advised me that he would obtain greater elaboration of this matter for me as soon as possible. Sp far I have .not received any report on the matter. I am concerned that in the estimates there , is no amount allocated for a survey to be conducted further, north from Alice Springs to Darwin. This is a matter of interest, to both South Australia and the Northern Territory and I suggest, that on completion of the survey of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs link the surveyors should immediately be engaged in the task of surveying .the area between Alice Springs and Darwin, because the opportunity ties in with the present employment position at Whyalla. With a downturn in the demand for steel one blast furnace at Whyalla has been closed down. If upgrading of the rail link between Alice Springs and Darwin has to go ahead it would alleviate the unemployment problem by keeping Whyalla at full production. At present the rail link between. Whyalla and Port Augusta is being constructed and this will link up with the proposed line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. In South Australia the manufacture of concrete sleepers has been commenced. If in the immediate future the work I have suggested could be carried out between Alice Springs and Darwin, that industry could be fully employed in making and stockpiling concrete sleepers for that vital link.
Et is vital for many reasons, the major one of which is defence. In World War II a road had to be hurriedly bituminised between Alice Springs and Darwin for com- munication purposes. We should look to the future and commence work on the rail- way between Alice Springs and Darwin. It is also vital to South Australia because in that State we depend a great deal for employment on the manufacture of consumer durables. If a direct rail link is established between Adelaide and Darwin it will open up quite a big market for those South Australian industries which rely to a great extent on other States for their survival.
We have heard in the Senate, even as late as today, proposals put forward to supply Darwin by the Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. If a rail link were established from Adelaide to Darwin those shipping problems would not arise. Possibly the best results can be achieved by having a sea link and a rail link. The road between Adelaide and Alice Springs leaves a lot to be desired because it is not trafficable in all weathers, and the . same can be said of the rail link. 1 ask that the Department of Shipping and Transport give urgent attention to surveying the line from Alice Springs to Darwin, on completion of the survey now being carried out between Tarcoola and Alice Springs, so that the people in the Northern Territory may get an idea as to how long it will be [before that communication link is established. It is a vital connection between the north and the south.
– Senator Laucke referred to a review of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. Under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act the sum of $1,252,500 has been “ granted to the States for roads during the 1969-74 period, or approximately one-third of the expected national expenditure during that period. Account has been taken of the physical resources and stock-taking of Australian roads. New features include a specific allocation for urban and arterial roads. Urban areas were defined in terras of statistical districts. Fringe area councils, notably in New South Wales, were unable to be given Commonwealth aid road funds to be spent on arterial roads. The New South Wales Government was in a position to assist them but did not do so. The operation of the Act is now under review. It will be taken into account in the recommendation for the next period and will include consideration of inadequacies such as jack of development of national highways, grants to metropolitan councils in fringe areas and the effects of inflation.
Other aspects likely to be examined are roads as part of a total transport system, for example, vis-a-vis rural roads and railway branch lines; the. case for toll roads; and the need for national highways as the best way to handle that’ problem. One or two of those aspects might interest Senator Bishop. Senator Bishop asked today, and has asked on a number of previous occasions, as have other South Australian senators, questions about the Eyre Highway. From time to time I have replied to those questions, not really out of my own mouth or through my own policy, but on behalf of the Minister ‘ for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) whom I represent in the Senate.
With regard to the sealing of the Eyre Highway, the Commonwealth recognises the importance of the highway but the priority to be given to its sealing is substantially a matter for the South Australian Government. South Australia has received a 50 per cent increase in Commonwealth aid road .funds for the current 5-year period 1969-74. Of the total grant of $129m, $1 3.67m must be spent on rural arterial roads, which would include the Eyre Highway. South Australia may spend a further $9m on those roads and it can also spend its own road funds in that way, if it wishes to do so.
The. Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has recently considered South Australia’s request for special assistance. Other States have the same sort of problem in regard to interstate highways passing through their States. I am sure that all honourable senators can think of quite a few of them. There is a current programme for the sealing of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to Penong. When that section is completed in 1973 it will leave about 267 miles unsealed. It could cost about $9m to seal that section.
Senator Bishop commented that an attempt should be made at a traffic analysis on the Eyre Highway. He has mentioned it before. He will understand my position. I am not in a situation to comment on policy or to make promises. However, I will again pass these suggestions to the responsible Minister, together with his comment that sealing of the Eyre Highway should be considered in the context of tourism.
Senator McLaren said that if the Commonwealth Railways were to begin earlier than it might otherwise do to spend part of the money provided for upgrading the railway line between Alice Springs and Darwin, it would aid steel utilisation and concrete sleeper production, particularly in South Australia. All these matters would bc true in the light in which he expressed them, but again I am involved in a debate on the Estimates in matters that do not belong to me and require substantial policy consideration. They belong first to the responsible Minister and then to the Government as a whole in considering at a particular time the share of the national resources of the Australian people that should be devoted to particular projects. That is not to deny in any sense the worth of any honourable senator’s claim, but each claim must be assessed in the total context of what is required to be done and the resources available.
Honourable senators are aware that approval in principle has been given to build a railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. This is the first stage in a link stretching from Adelaide to Darwin, but at present there are no proposals to continue the construction beyond Alice Springs; As 1 have undertaken earlier, I will see that the Minister receives the Hansard report of this debate so that any particular matters raised by honourable senators will be brought to his attention.
– I have one short question which relates to questions asked during sittings of Estimates Committee D. It relates, to the agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth to standardise the rail connection between Adelaide and Port Pirie. An announcement has been made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. (Mr Nixon), and the South Australian. Minister of Roads and Transport, Mr Virgo, in respect of the route of the new rail link, but we have no further information than that contained in the public statement. I raised during the sitting of Estimates Committee D the question whether it would be possible to forecast the commencing date of the relevant legislation, and whether the consultants had made subsequent reports. Is the Minister in a position to give any further information because written answers have not yet been received to the questions I asked?
– I am not in a position to give that information. I will again direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, $34,879,000.
– Our troops have been virtually withdrawn from South Vietnam and I doubt that very many Australian civilians are employed on projects there. Do we have special security measures or do we work in conjunction with the United States forces as to the interception of potential drug smugglers? Alternatively, do we wait until the people arrive by aeroplane or ship in Australia and then attempt to intercept them?
– I have no written information which I can read to the honourable senator, but what he stated does happen. There is a close watch on possible smuggling, lt is under inspection. In the past plans have been developed to watch this, but for a variety of reasons which I think would be clear to the honourable senator - because of his experience in other areas, of this work - this is being updated all the time as new information is obtained, new processes are evolved and new problems arise. I think he can rest assured that the matter he raised is under control.
Proposed expenditure agreed to. .
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure, $1 18,648,000.
– I raise a matter, which I raised sev- era! times during the Estimates committee debates., lt is in regard to the Electoral Office in the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Interior, Mr Hunt, according to an article in the Northern Territory ‘News’, stated that the economy was . one of the factors to blame for the state of the Northern Territory rolls for the recent Legislative Council election. 1 am concerned that at a place such as Nhulunbuy, which is the mining centre on the Gove Peninsula, only 230 votes were recorded. This included votes from the nearby Yirrkala Mission. Yet it is estimated that there are more than 4,000 residents in the town of Nhulunbuy.
In reply to a question that I asked of one of the officers who appeared before the Estimates committee about the number of staff required to man the Northern Territory Electoral Office 1 was advised that the number was 3. I feel that this is nowhere near enough. This has been, borne out by the state of the rolls in the Northern Territory. Mr Bourke, who was called to the Territory during the election owing to the illness of the Electoral . Officer Mr McPherson, made a statement that in the short time that he had been there he had had to make 3,000 changes in the rolls in the Northern Territory Electoral Office. This was in the space of a few weeks. I feel that this is not good enough. I also feci that in a territory the size of the Northern Territory 3 officers are not enough. It is imposing too big a burden on these officers to ask them to carry out the duties which are required of them, particularly when Alice Springs is at one end of the Territory, Darwin is at the other and a place such as Gove is further east of Dar- win, I feel that the Department of the Interior should make provision to have officers stationed in those 3 centres in particular so that the burden on the officers is not as great as it has been in the past.
Possibly a lot of criticism has been levelled at Mr Mcpherson because of the state of the rolls. I would not blame him for the state the rolls are in because the task is far too great for one man. The people enrolled in the Northern Territory, which is of considerable size, should nol all be recorded at one place, Darwin, which is at the extreme end of the Territory. I feel that something should be done. I know that promises have been made that the electoral rolls will be updated before the 1972 election. I refer to statements that have been made by people of high regard in the Territory. The Northern Territory ‘News’ reported:
Territory political leaders were unanimous in blaming mistakes in the electoral rolls for the low voting percentages. : The- former Council President and re-elected member for Stuart, Mr. Tony Greatorex, said: ‘It is obvious that the rolls were in a shocking state’.
The Territory President pf the Country Party and member-elect for Victoria River, Dr Goff-Letts, said: ‘The state of the rolls has certainly contributed to the low poll’.
Mr Dick Ward, President of the Northern Territory ‘Executive of the Labor Party, blamed the confused slate of the rolls for, any reduction in the percentage of votes’.
Ke went on to say: ‘ 1 alio believe that there’ is a -lack of interest in a legislative body which people have come to realise impinges only slightly on their way of life.
This is a problem in the Territory. He continued:
A- council capable of making real decisions - particularly on budgetary matters which affect people’s’ pockets - would attract a much more serious interest.
This brings me to the point that the Northern Territory is. not .tully represented in the Federal Parliament. There have been .debates although 1 was not here to participate, in both chambers on greater representation for the Northern Territory. I - feel,, and my Party feels, that there should be at least one additional member in., the House of Representatives and at least 2. senators. The task of representing the Territory in this Parliament is far too great for one member. I am not criticising the present member for the. Northern Territory (Mr Calder) because 1 can feel for him. 1 know the amount of work that he must have to do to cover the Territory. When the next Estimates are presented to Parliament in approximately 12 months time I would like to see an upgrading of the finances available so that the electors of the’ Northern Territory are better represented.
– I raise a matter in relation to the Northern Territory. I endorse the remarks made by Senator McLaren. During the Northern Territory election campaign I was at Katherine and Tennant Creek. The majority of residents there were not on the roll. The number who voted at the election gives distorted figures of population in the Northern Territory. It gives a bad image of political interest. Those who were elected were not elected by a majority of voters but by a majority of those on the roll. We get many distortions as a result of this. There has been no effort to correct the position. There has been no campaign for the purpose of getting everyone on the roll. No-one seems to desire to start such a campaign. I agree with Senator McLaren that the Department of the Interior should do something about the enrolment of voters in the Northern Territory.
While I was in the Northern Territory I found a lot of unsatisfactory things, mostly concerning hospital matters, especially on the mission stations. With few exceptions the health facilities are understaffed. I believe that they come under the estimates of the Department of the Interior and not those of the Department of Health. One of the concerns of those who work in the hospitals on the mission stations in the Territory is that they do not get the grading that they would get if they were employed by the Department of Health. This results in their receiving a lower salary, I believe. At places such as Warrabri settlement out from Tennant Creek there is only one young sister, Sister Summers, who has to look after the hospital there which is catering for the medical needs of 500 inhabitants on the mission. There is only one sister at the hospital. That is not because the Department is not prepared to employ another sister. It simply cannot attract anyone.
When I was there the triple certificate sister left to go to the Alice Springs hospital. No one could blame her. There was a bit more life at Alice Springs. There is a limited European population for young girls who go to work at. the mission stations. Sometimes they are hundreds of miles from a township. They have to look after numbers of sick people. They are on call 24 hours a day. The position does not attract anyone to the service. I do not know whether, as a compensation to make the job attractive, some increased wage incentive should be given. For the privilege of being on call at the camp 24 hours a day Sister Summers receives as a wage the magnificent sum of $115 per fortnight.
– They should train native girls.
– At one mission station near Katherine a trained native girl was employed very effectively, but no trained person is available at present. There is a shortage of staff. A lass who was employed at the Brisbane Hospital applied for a job at Alice Springs, but it was 5 months before her appointment was confirmed. She was willing to work at an outback station and she had qualifications for the position, yet the Department took 5 months to make .up its mind about appointing her. She could have been on the job 5 months earlier. Some areas of the Warrabri camp are a disgrace to the Department and because of their condition there are continual outbreaks of infectious disease. This camp contrasts with other camp areas.
The camp at Marrylli out from Katherine is in contrast with the Warrabri camp in that it has 3 different stages of housing for Aborigines. There is one section for those who follow the tribal custom of living out in the bush in shacks, a second section composed of those who have graduated to a better class one-room brick house, and then a further section composed of Aborigines who have been educated and trained to a standard which enables them to occupy cottages which would compare with reasonable constructions in city areas. We found on our inspection that the cottages to which we were taken by the Director of the camp were in a good state of cleanliness and were well looked after by the Aboriginal people. This is all part of the training scheme through which they reach the stage of being able to occupy a sophisticated cottage.
In that camp the women are trained in child care, the use of electric stoves, washing machines and other household tasks including ironing and dressmaking. In that area the hospital facilities are better with the result that the infant mortality rate is lower and the rate of survival much better.
There is rarely an outbreak of infectious disease, which is thought to be due to the compulsory medical examination which the sister insists upon the children having. In order, for a child to receive medical attention it is not necessary for the parent to take ‘ the child to the nursing sister; the nursing, staff will visit the hut to conduct the compulsory examination and to ensure that each child is supplied with milk. We have found that something can be achieved at mission stations, yet at another mission station there was complete neglect. The situation had .got beyond the control of those responsible for the administration of the area because of a shortage of staff. On the other. hand, the Department is not paying wages which are high enough to attract staff.
I refer again to Warrabri Hospital. I have asked the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) about that hospital being burnt down and a kindergarten being used as ‘temporary hospital accommodation. Although the fire occurred last October the new hospital is not yet in the course of construction and will not be begun until next April. The Minister for Works did not say why there was a delay or why construction could not begin tomorrow; he merely said that there were machinery steps to go through, such as the drawing plans and the calling of tenders for the project. Something should be done urgently for people who lack hospital facilities. In that case the hospital was burnt down and a new one is to be built. It will not be an elaborate construction requiring much research and planning. One would think that the Department would have plans readily available for hospitals of this kind and that construction could begin immediately. If it were being constructed by private enterprise or by a State government it would have been started earlier than this. I bring these matters before the Committee in the hope that the Department will do something about them.
Another matter with which I was concerned was a misappropriation of money within the Department at’ Tennant Creek. Apparently this has occurred on numerous occasions. Although I am unable to give the reference to this occurrence I believe that it was referred to by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in its comments on the Auditor-General’s report where a suggestion was made for an alteration of procedures to overcome situations of this kind. I should like the Minister to inform the Committee whether action has been taken in. this regard. I refer next to division 386,- subdivision 4, item 07 which ^relates ‘to the transport of stud stock to the Northern Territory. Under this item provision is made for a subsidy this year of $100,000.. Is a regular subsidy given for the transport of stud stock to the Northern Territory and, if so, to whom is it paid? Is it going to the big cattle companies of the Northern Territory? Is it necessary for the Government to subsidise the transport of stud stock to the Northern Territory? Another matter to which I refer is the expenditure of $40,000 last year on the hostel at Gove. I understand that Gove is an area where a European population is employed in the mining industry by private interests. Why the Government is providing a hostel or a subsidy for a hostel in those circumstances I do not know. I understand that the subsidy is to be reduced this year to about $28,000, if that estimate is correct. If the Minister can give me information on that it would be of assistance.
– I propose to refer to 3 matters. First 1 mention the role of the Australian News and Information Bureau and relate it to the large number of Australians of all ages, who .are at present abroad on working holidays throughout Europe and also Asia/ j should like to know whether it is possible to be given a comparison between, the news bulletins, if any, supplied by Australia to embassies and consulates and those supplied by the United States. I raise this matter because some honourable senators who were overseas on the Council of Europe delegation earlier this year at a time which coincided with the cricket test series against Britain found that quite a coverage pf the tests was available. Although I am “not criticising the news service as . such- in fact, if the Bureau needed more money and staff I would be in favour of ‘ them being provided - I noticed that’ the United States service provided considerable information on the baseball series and gridiron held at the Rose Bowl. I am aware that there could be” a problem in presenting news of 4 codes ‘ of football from 6 Australian
States. English people travelling through Europe could always get British soccer results down to the fourth division matches. The Minister and his officers will recognise that what I am talking about is the degree of service that is given particularly from the point of view of those who are in a foreign country and who like to keep their home ties. As a matter of fact, there was a rather ignominious situation at Gallipoli when England won a cricket test match against Australia and a British Army officer ran a quarter of a mile to gloat over us about the English victory which we accept in the proper spirit. That is just one of the situations that a person encounters. I suggest that the Minister give the Committee an indication of how far our services extend and the degree to which they can be improved.
T next want to continue some of the observations T made during the debate on the estimates for the Department of National Development. T refer to the rather peculiar situation which confronts conservationists in regard to the abnormal delay associated with the proclamation of the boundaries of what is known as the Top End National Park in the Northern Territory. I turn, first of all, to a document that was prepared by the Darwin Conservation Society which pointed out that the land, whatever the ultimate acreage of the area is, in effect was selected by default because all other areas were not vacant Crown lands. The Society published a very comprehensive map and it is unfortunate that facilities do not permit it to be incorporated in Hansard because it is a very valuable document. The history of this project goes back to 14th July 1966. On 12th April 1967 the Northern Territory Reserves Board wrote to the Administrator about what one might call a vision splendid. The Board visualised originally a national park extending over 2,475 square miles. The second proposal was for 800 square miles. This, to me, is the nub of the question. I would imagine that if Senator Colton, who has had some experience in industrial matters, sat at a table with me and somebody else and we asked for an increase in wages of $2,400 and settled for an increase of $800, he would say that that was a pretty fair concession. What amazes me is that, the conservation ists were prepared to settle for 800 square miles when the original proposal was for 2,475 square miles.
In his reply yesterday to my question on notice No. 1647, the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior pointed out that all the documents to which I had referred had been considered. I had asked the Minister, among other things:
When does the Minister intend to make a decision on the size of the Top End National Park?
The Minister gave the following answer:
As announced by the Minister for the Interior on 1st October, the situation will be reviewed at the end of 1973.
In the debate on the estimates for another department I referred to the rape of the environment by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in the Finniss River region. I and many others are not at all happy with the namby pamby attitude that is adopted to the mining companies which despoil the Northern Territory. It is nothing new. One can look at what has happened in the United States of America with its open cut and kindred projects in Kentucky. It started in 1900 and they are still arguing about rehabilitation. I would like to know what has ben spent on rehabilitation of the Finniss River area. I am not criticising the Department. It was left holding the baby for the Atomic Energy Commission. What assurances have we that wherever uranium projects are undertaken between now and 1973 we will not have further situations like we had at Finniss River?
I will go a little further. Surely there has to come some point in this incessant battle between the conservationists and the mining interests - the people I regard without any qualification as the rapists of the environment - when some Minister will say: ‘You can do what you like on 1,000 square mites but the other 800 square miles are off limits’. I very strongly criticise the fact that the Minister is virtually allowing these mining interests to go. on their merry way. In reply the Minister might say to me: ‘We have the mining companies under heavy bonds and they have to do certain things’. My answer to that would be that I hope the outcome will be a lot better than the inglorious record of the rutile miners around the Australian coastline. I have yet to see any occasion when these mining moguls put anything back to make a better society, either in the form of a national loan or a bequest to the National Trust or to the Red Cross Society. 1 think I have made abundantly clear to the Minister my lack of confidence, which is shared by every major conservation group, in the prospect of there being a proper assessment of. the Northern Territory.
I come now to the Australian Capital Territory. Honourable senators can refer to speeches I made in this chamber when I was sworn in in 1965. Whatever misgivings 1 might have on some occasions about inadequate support by the States of the Commonwealth, I believe that the Commonwealth should be’ the pace setter. Let me say this to officers of the Department: 1 ‘ inspected areas at Jervis Bay and was very pleased at the courtesy of the senior officer in advising me that at the appropriate time additional, acreages for the Jervis Bay area would be gazetted. 1 support that prospect to the hilt. But I have a secret fear that some geologist will go to the Mount Kelly ranges and find uranium or something else and then the Minister will come in here and say. ‘We believe the Australian Capital Territory has the perfect land management system. T have told you for 5 years* that you have nothing to worry about because the Mount Kelly freehold area is completely held by the Crown. You have nothing to fear’. 1 have been hearing that for 4 years. At- about this time last year when I asked, what progress had been made I was assured that it was not. necessarily what the Minister of the day wanted, it was a matter of further conferences with the. Australian Capital Territory National Park Association and the bushwalkers groups. We thought that the acreage was to be increased. Then I made further inquiries and was told that everything was going along well but of course there were a lot of legal matters - title deeds and that sort of thing - involved. I had the idea that the Australian Capital Territory - my colleague Senator Devitt would be more versed in this than I am - would not have the problems that the States have. We would feel much happier if in some early future issue of the Commonwealth Gazette we could see a clear cut exposition of what is proposed for a national park in the Mount Kelly ranges. I understand that last year, in reply to the Leader of my Party in another place, a detailed analysis was given of land under the control of the Commonwealth. This land was designated as national parks or nature reserves. I wonder whether I could get an up to date list which includes the land that was proclaimed at Jervis Bay.
I have never been one to ask for something unless I could say where the money was to come from. Recently the State Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, New South Wales Branch, Mr Jack Maddox, conferred with the Minister for the Interior in relation to the ARU holiday camp at Jervis Bay. The question of the ARU tenure and other matters came up in a discussion on rents. I will not canvass that matter because I know Mr Maddox and the Minister had fairly frank and, I hope, fruitful discussions. I want to refer to . this idea of adding to revenue. It amazes me that in the States when people go out with beehives to get honey in State forests they are charged a fee, yet in the Australian Capital Territory those people arc free riders. It does not matter to me whether the Minister maintains the ARU rent at what it was some years ago and gives the beekeepers free access to the forests, but if the Minister is to be consistent on equality of sacrifices and sources of revenue,, I believe that these free riders the beekeepers, should be treated the same as are other tenants. I am not against beekeepers but I believe that when the Government talks about securing extra revenue this is the way it could be done. -I conclude by referring to a New South Wales organisation which has never been renowned for its attitude to conservation. I refer to the Maritime Services Board and its noble chairman - I use those words in inverted commas - Mr Brotherson. On my last inspection of the Australian Railways Union camp site I saw that there was considerable erosion on the New South Wales side of the area. I am wondering whether officers of the Department, through Senator Cotton, could give me any indication that the New South Wales Maritime Services Board ever looks at inland rivers and waterways and Jervis Bay and that it is not interested only in despoiling Sydney Harbour in order to make a lot of money from its factory sites.
– If I do not give some answers fairly soon we might find ourselves in a state of slight confusion. Senator’ McLaren referred to various problems in the Northern Territory, including the state of the electoral rolls. He mentioned the unanimous political comment in newspapers on ‘the state of the rolls and the fact that it was said that that was responsible for the lack of interest in the recent elections. Let me observe, in passing, that over recent years there has been a tendency for the total vote at these elections not to be very high. This is a matter that would disturb us all. So, I take his comments in that sense - as ones to which .we should be directing our attention.
He also spoke about increased representation for the Northern Territory. He expressed the belief that the Territory should have one more member of the House of Representatives and 2 senators. He will understand, I am sure, that these are matters of policy for both the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) and the Government, and that it is really not for me to comment on them at the present time, although I have noted his comments. “The electoral offices throughout Australia, including the one for the Division of. Kal:goorlie, are, except in 20 instances, staffed by 2 officers. Senator McLaren was ‘present when Estimates Committee D was examining the estimates for the Department of the Interior. There it was admitted by the Chief Electoral Officer that these electoral rolls did contain superfluous entries and thai this would have been one of the main causes of the apparently low voting percentages. Equally it was admitted that the electoral offices were slightly understaffed. It was stated that the Department had been trying to obtain additional assistance, but only in the previous 2 months had it been able to obtain a third man.
Senator Cavanagh also directed his attention to the state of the electoral rolls in the Northern Territory. ‘ He was concerned about the low voting percentages, particularly in Katherine and Tennant Creek. He was concerned also about the hospitals operating on the mission stations and (he understaffing of some of them. I have quite a number of notes here and I wish to keep them in proper sequence. In regard to matters in the health area, the staffing is on the basis of consultation with the Department of Health and the Public Service Board. There are some recruitment problems at times. I think that is because of the reasons Senator Cavanagh mentioned, namely, that they are in outlying areas, the isolation and the lack of .communication with other people. It may well be that in order to relieve the problem a greater incentive is desirable. It is perfectly true that big demands are made on the staff. But the members of the staff are helped from lime to time by Department of Health sisters. Salaries are a matter for Public Service Board determination and have to be dealt with in discussion with that body.
Senator Cavanagh referred to the hospital at Warrabri. In the Civil Works Programme for 1971-72 there is provision for 2 new hospitals at Warrabri and Papunya, involv-ing a total expenditure of $410,000. There is also provision for 4 water supply services, involving a total of $730,000, and for various projects to be- completed, involving another $489,000. The total expenditure under the health and health services programme which is designed to improve the facilities is $1,629,000. Senator Cavanagh also was concerned about the loss of money at Alice Springs. This has been the subject of an inquiry by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.. The results of that inquiry are not yet known..
I have some information on the question of stud stock transport. . The Government subsidises the transport of good, quality livestock for breeding purposes in the Territory. The subsidy applies to the costs of railway, steamer, road train and lorry freight, droving and handling charges incurred between the place of purchase and the destination in the Northern Territory. The number of better class breeding animals imported into .-the Territory is being reflected in a general improvement in the standard of stock now being produced. There have been large scale pastoral management improvements. To ensure that the operation of the scheme will continue to achieve its prime purpose, increased qualifying values for cattle were introduced in July 1971. The expenditure has varied over the years. In some years it has been greater than is proposed at the present time. It is now tending to move down.
The item in relation to the hostel at Gove refers to operational expenditures. In 1970 the Commonwealth purchased from the European Launcher Development Organisation the single accommodation facilities at Gove for use as a residential college for Aboriginal students. In the short term it was decided that these facilities should be made available for use by Commonwealth officers stationed in Nhulunbuy. It is now proposed that the Aboriginal college should operate from the beginning of the academic year in February 1972 as a charge to division 368, subdivision 3, item 04 - Aboriginal advancement, educational services. Provision for the proposed operation of the hostel for 7 months of 1971-72 has been made to cover wages, vehicle hire, food and miscellaneous items. When the estimated receipts are taken into account, the amount involved is $28,000. I think that covers the points raised by Senator Cavanagh.
Senator Mulvihill referred to a number of matters. I tried to make a note of them. Some of them were ones on which the departmental officers do not have with them any facilities to enable them to help. Not one of the officers of the Department was prepared to adjudicate on the relevant merits of the 4 rival codes of football. They felt that any man who set himself up as an authority on any one of the codes would be liable* to have his head cut off. I know the nasty brawls that can develop on this matter, As a person who played Australian rules, who later watched his son play rugby and who tends to think that soccer is a good game, I am in some trouble. I know what the honourable senator said, and the departmental officers took note of it.
– The Minister is not being disparaging, is he?
– Not in the slightest sense of the word. I was just saying that the only safe way to act in this place is to fall in love with ail 4 codes.
– To be an allrounder.
– I realise that Senator McAuliffe is getting ready to stand up in his place and hit the first fellow who says anything that is not quite right.
– I was getting ready to assist.
– I thought the honourable senator might be doing that. But I am referring to Senator Mulvihills observations on conservation and the delay in proclaiming the boundaries of the national park in the Top End, as well as the environmental problems in general which flow out of mining developments and the concern he has in regard to this matter. I have some information which comes from the comments of the Minister for the Interior on the matter. He said:
The Government will review the general position in the area at the end of 1973, when much more should be known about the mineralisation in the area, in order to decide whether further prospecting in the relinquished areas would be in the national interest or whether the areas should be set aside for park-like purposes. In conducting this review the Government will seek the advice of the new advisory council to be established.
I imagine that the representations Senator Mulvihill would receive from interested friends of his or societies in which he is involved would, very properly, be directed not only to me and the Minister but also to the people in the advisory council. They are bound to have links with each other. The Minister for the Interior went on to say:
In the meantime any applications for mining leases in the area would be granted on conditions negotiated between the Government and the company concerned, including conditions to protect the environment.
We do not have with us any information on the detailed cost of rehabilitation in regard to the Finniss River area. That will have to be obtained. Mount Kelly was the next matter to which the honourable senator referred. I remember quite well that he mentioned it to me from time to time. I will have to obtain from the Department the latest information on that matter. The honourable senator offered to honourable senators the observation that we should have some regard for the revenue situation. He suggested that one thing we could do was obtain some revenue from people who put hives for the collection of honey in the forest areas that belong to various departments. All I can say is that once upon a time somebody put some hives on a small farm on which I lived and all I got was a small tin of honey. So, I do not think there would be much future in adopting that suggestion. The idea, is good, but I do not think a lot of money would be made from it.
Senator Mulvihill also referred to the Maritime Services Board and its responsibility for erosion on the New South Wales side of the border between that State and the Australian Capital Territory at Jervis Bay. He looked at it and said to himself that that is not as well looked after as it should be. i will have to find out about that and see who is responsible. I am informed that the officers saw Mr Maddox of the Australian Railways Union yesterday at Jervis Bay and discussed the matter of the up-grading of the access track. Repair work will be undertaken as soon as possible. 1 think that completes the matters raised, and if they have not been fully covered the officers will handle them.
– I do not intend to speak at length but I wish to raise 2 matters. The first concerns Division 360, the News and Information Bureau, under which there is an appropriation this financial year of $441,000 for film distribution. That is about $28,000 less than the amount appropriated for this item last financial year. I notice that the amount involved for film distribution is roughly the Same as that to be spent on film production, which is $489,000. Last financial year more money was spent on film distribution than on film production. Last year $469,000 was spent on film distribution and only $433,000 on film production. It seems to me that $441,000 this year for film distribution is a pretty, high cost. Apparently the cost of producing those films will amount to $490,000. 1 refer to the annual report of the Australian Film Development Corporation in which it is stated that the situation ‘of Australian films is causing the Corporation some concern. Australia has become an exhibition area for pictures made by foreign companies, many of which have ready distribution through associated companies with easy access to exhibition outlets. During the ensuing year the Corporation is hopeful that Australian films will obtain a greater share of the Australian market: In view of those statements in the report of the Corporation I am wondering what arrangements are made by the Aus tralian News and Information Bureau or, perhaps more relevantly, by the Commonwealth Film Unit for distribution throughout Australia of films produced by the United? I assume that they are distributed on a sale basis through the available theatre outlets but I am wondering also what arrangements are made for distributing these films- generally speaking they are excellent films - for display overseas. In other words, is the amount of $441,000, a comparatively high amount when related to the $490,000 to be spent on film production, so large because of the difficulties in getting Australian film distributed, in Australia particularly, but also, to a lesser extent, overseas?.
The other matter I wish to raise is related to Northern Territory services, particularly the item for upkeep of official residence’s for which $52,000 is being appropriated. Recently, at the request of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. made representations to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) about the lack of air conditioning in houses being built at Nhulunbuy, Gove, for Commonwealth employees. The Minister wrote and advised me that the Commonwealth houses at Nhulunbuy follow the standards laid down in the code of minimum standards of essential equipment for Government dwellings in tropical areas and that that code provides, as a recommended ‘ practice, for the inclusion in new houses of duct’ work and outlets permanently built in to permit air conditioning of the living’ rooms or hed rooms by a package air conditioning unit. The code provides also for a package type air conditioner to be made available to tenants of houses in which ducting has been “installed.
On the face of it this would appear to be a very good thing. However; the cost of installation is charged to the tenant, its is the operating cost. It is fair enough that the tenant should pay the operating cost but the capital installation cost is also chargeable to the tenant. On an average, according to the Minister, it appears that the cost would be in the vicinity of $12 a fortnight. I do not know how many Commonwealth Public Servants sent to Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory could afford to have $12 a fortnight taken out of their pay packets for what I regard as an essential amenity, air conditioning, in a tropical area.
I appeal to the Minister and to the Department to give consideration to the Commonwealth bearing at least the capital cost involved in installing air conditioning in these houses in tropical areas. By today’s modern standards I think it is essential in tropical areas to have air conditioning installed in houses, particularly when women and little children are involved. Frankly I think it is rather unreasonable on the part of the Department to expect Commonwealth employees to pay out about $12 a fortnight simply to have such an essential piece of equipment in their homes. After all is said and done, the standard laid down is that when new houses are being provided air conditioning ducts will be installed. It appears that the code regards this as essential. It boils down to whether the tenant will pay for air conditioning or whether the Department will pay. Invariably I suggest that a Commonwealth employee would find it very difficult to find $12 a fortnight for this purpose. He would be excluded from having this essential piece of equipment because of the cost involved.
I again appeal to the Minister and the Department to improve the situation and provide this essential equipment for Commonwealth employees. I understand from the union that air conditioning is provided in the town for the employees of the company involved in the mining operations. If it is good enough for the company to provide this facility for its workers surely it is good enough for the Commonwealth to provide it for its employees.
– I take this opportunity to raise again briefly a question dealt with in Division 354, Rent, and to draw attention to the need for a Commonwealth centre in Adelaide. Honourable senators will remember that as far back as 1964 the Government promised to consider constructing such a centre. It has been said that the heavy rents being paid by the Commonwealth in Adelaide are comparable to rents in the larger cities. As a matter of fact so far as the extent of office properties owned by the Commonwealth in the State capitals is concerned, Adelaide runs second last, just ahead of Hobart. In
Hobart the Commonwealth owns 1 1 4.000 square feet of space and in Adelaide it owns 118,000 square feet. In Brisbane amost 500,000 square feet of space is owned by the Commonwealth. In South Australia the Commonwealth pays rent in excess of $2m a year. An answer to a question I asked during the Estimate Committee hearings shows that at present in South Australia 27 different Commonwealth departments are using private accommodation. I was told on 5th November, in answer to a question I asked, that the Commonwealth Government is paying an annual rental for office accommodation in South Australia, together with related charges, of $2,353,478. Also I was informed that the Commonwealth Government paid $157,729 for the accommodation of members of Parliament.
At various times South Australian senators have asked Ministers responsible for this matter questions. The Ministers have said: ‘Yes, it is under consideration’. They have gone on to say that the Department of Works or the Department of the Interior is making a study of this proposal. The most recent answer I have received on this matter was given to me during the recent meetings of the Estimates Committees. I was given the following information:
The Department is conscious of the desirability of providing Commonwealth buildings to house departments wherever possible. The question of the provision of a Commonwealth centre in Adelaide is under active consideration but any decision to proceed with such a proposal must be viewed against Australia-wide priorities and the availability of funds for capital works.
The answer continued:
The situation in Adelaide is that rental levels are relatively low and stable compared with some other cities. This, together with more pressing needs in, say, Sydney and Melbourne, cause a possible Commonwealth centre in Adelaide to have a lower priority.
I would like to conclude my speech - and the opportunity is not given here to state the full case although it has been made before - by referring briefly to the comments of Senator Wright when he attended the last Adelaide festival. The Minister came back and said that in his opinion South Australia had a good case for the construction of a new Commonwealth Centre.
I would like to refer to a table which was prepared by a journalist, Mr Vincent Smith, and which appeared in the “National Times’ of 4th to 9th October this year. The article in which the table appeared is entitled: ‘The office boom: an inflationary boost from the Commonwealth’. I would like the Minister or his Department lo check the table which has been given by this reporter. The table shows the square footage leased, the rent paid and the area owned by the Commonwealth in the respective cities. For example, I have already mentioned that the area leased in South Australia by the Commonwealth is 564.000 square feet and that the current rent which is paid, and which includes some other payments, is over $2m and that the area of land owned by the Commonwealth is only 1S0.000 square feet. In “Perth the area leased is 346,000 square feet, the rent paid is $1,135,000 and the area owned by the Commonwealth is 315,000 square feet. In Canberra the area leased is 617,000 square feet, the rent paid totals $2,756,000 and the area owned totals 1,935,000 square feet. In Darwin the area leased is 69,000 square feet, the rent paid is $250,850 and the square footage owned is 214,000 square feet. In Sydney the area leased is 1,309.000 square feet, the rent paid is $5,628,980 and the square footage is . 1,030,000. In Melbourne the amount of area leased is 1,874,000 square feet, the rent paid is $6,302,130 and the area owned is 2,108,000.
I conclude by saying that, in comparison wilh the ownership of land in all of the capitals and bearing in mind the number of persons accommodated in private buildings, South Australia is not getting proper consideration and prompt action should be taken to see that a Commonwealth centre is started in Adelaide.
– lt might be appropriate if I now replied briefly to questions which were raised by honourable senators. Senator Mulvihill has left the chamber; but, I have a note which refers to a matter he raised in regard to Mount Kelly in the Australian Capital Territory. The situation in relation to Mount Kelly is that the gazettal will depend upon land acquisition and this is subject to budgetary considerations, lt is quite likely that the proposed wilderness area will be acquired first.
Senator : Douglas McClelland spoke about the cost pf air. conditioning in gov ernment houses in the Nhulunbuy area at Gove. He pointed to the fact that it was costing government employees SI 2 a fortnight for this amenity. I imagine that this is the combined cost of. operating the air conditioning installation. However, I could not be sure of this. I have no appropriate notes on this matter that would b; of any great help to him. I am not able to say anything that. would be useful to the honourable senator. However, I shall direct his inquiry to the Department with the comment that the honourable, senator feels that, if people in private ‘employment should have air conditioning, so .too should Commonwealth employees.,
Senator Douglas McClelland also made some comments in regard’ to division 360.208. I have some figures for the honourable senator relating to the cost of supplying prints of News a;nd Information Bureau ‘ films to Commonwealth offices abroad, to the National Library for nontheatrical distribution and for theatrical and television distribution within Australia and abroad. Revenue from the sale of film prints is $100,000 approximately. The provision of $441,000 does not, cover only direct distribution costs. It includes $143,000 for stores and materials, $245,000 for film printing and $53,000 for distribution overseas.
Senator Bishop directed his attention to the need for . a Commonwealth centre in Adelaide. He gave us a lot of figures that appeared in an article which, was written by Mr Vincent Smith and which’ .appeared in the ^National Times’. The departmental advisers and I have made notes so that these figures can be checked later. Rents in Adelaide compare very favourably wilh rents in other capital cities. The erection of a Commonwealth centre is under very active consideration but the construction of such a centre is a question of priorities within the Department and within the Government. All honourable senators will understand my problem here, namely, that this is not an occasion on which I can make policy comments either for myself or for those whom I represent.
– I wish to refer to the complaints of the nursing staff on the settlement mission at Katherine in the Northern Territory. I refer specifically to Sister Saunders who has been working in government hospitals since 1952. She is a double certificated sister. Sister Saunders broke her government service for 3 years during which time she worked on a cattle station as a nursing sister. During that time her salary was subsidised by the Commonwealth Government. This seems to be an arrangement which is made for such people working on stations. However, because she did not actually work for the Government for 3 years, and although portion of her salary was being paid by the Government, she found on returning to work for the nursing .staff that her classification was that of a junior sister. This has involved her in a loss of status and wages. Surely this is something that should be rectified within the Department. It is another question which should be put to the Public Service Board.
The Public Service Board determines the wages and conditions of employment of government nursing staff in the Northern Territory. I wonder whether the Board, according to the application it received for the Australian Medical Association, has drawn the Government’s attention to the difficult living conditions and the difficulty of getting people to stay in the Territory. 1 wonder also whether the Government should be supporting wage increases for the purpose of trying to attract people to go to the Territory?
There is only one other matter to which I want to refer. In the Auditor-General’s report of the current year there is mentioned an over payment of maintenance subsidies. The Auditor-General slated:
Al paragraph 158 of my Report dated 25th August 1970 it was stated that due to a delay in action being taken by the Administration to reduce the rates of maintenance subsidies following an increase in child endowment from 14 January 1964, overpayments totalling S20,425 in respect of Aboriginal children were made to managements of cattle stations. Action taken by the Administration resulted in the recovery of $11,979. The balance of 88,446 was written off under the provisions of section 70c of the Audit Act.
This over payment suggests some neglect. lt has been made to owners of cattle stations in respect to Aboriginal children living on the property. It seems that the Government having made the payment is unable to recover approximately §8,000. I would say that this is serious neglect on the part of the Department and some action should be taken to press further for the recover of this money. There should be more care to see that we are not subsidising wealthy cattle stations in the Northern Territory by passing appropriations.
– I shall be as brief as I can in relation to the matter to which I want to refer. I referred to it at the Estimates Committee hearing and I was told that it was a matter for the Department of Works. While the Department of Works may be responsible for the construction of the medical centres I shall refer to I think that the design of the facilities should be the responsibility of the Department of Health. The matter to which I refer is the medical centre at the Wave Hill settlement. I inspected the centre. From my own observations I could see, and 1 was told, that it is completely inadequate for the work which has to be done there. The work of the medical sister is made very arduous indeed. When I asked about the matter 1 was told that no money has been allocated to upgrade the medical centre at Wave Hill. This is what 1 am very concerned about. I am also concerned that there is no ambulance service between Katherine and Darwin. A very busy highway connects these 2 centres. At various times private residents, particularly from Adelaide River, are called upon to transport accident victims to the Darwin Hospital. This matter needs looking at. Close attention should be given to it by the responsible people. I shall not say any more because I think the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) wants to get this matter tidied up before 6 o’clock.
– Yes, I think it would be useful if we could, tidy up this matter before 6 o’clock. I shall try to do so. Senator Cavanagh referred to the case of Sister Saunders in Katherine. He suggested that the Department should press the Public Service Board more strenuously to obtain better conditions and some extra inducement to make the operations in which these people have to engage more attractive. I can only speak from what my advisers tell me but I understand that these people do this continuously because they are familiar with the problem. I think that any assistance which the Senate gives .in debates like this helps the Department. In that sense the advisers will refer these comments to the Minister concerned.I do not have any note in relation to the report of the Auditor-General about the overpayment of $8,000. I shall direct that matter to the Minister personally by letter as Senator Cavanagh has raised it with us. In response to Senator Douglas McClelland I point out that an interdepartmental committee has raised the matter of air conditioning. It makes recommendations on equipment in Commonwealth owned houses in tropical areas. 1 think that from time to time this matter is updated, renewed and reinvestigated. That is the process that will go on at the present time.
Senator McLaren spoke about Department of Health matters in general as they affect the Department of the Interior. He suggested that there should be some kind of general liaison. I know that that does, in fact, take piace. He spoke about the position at the Wave Hill clinic. Plumbing has been installed for a hot water system which is expected to arrive shortly. An evaporative cooler was provided in this year’s programme and it was installed early in the new year. For some months of the year the total population of Wave Hill can reach 250, and it may be necessary to consider providing a small hospital. But other places such as Warrabri - to which I referred earlier - Umbakumba and Roper River have a priority over Wave Hill at the moment. The honourable senator mentioned that there was no ambulance between Katherine and Darwin. That is something which I found interesting. I shall refer that matter to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) through the advisers and the Senate Hansard record.
– The Committee has not dealt with all the items in document A. I want to refer to Division 707, acquisition of sites and buildings.
– I am informed by the Department of the Interior - this matter was raised by Senator Cant during discussion in Estimates Committee D - that this matter more properly belongs to the Department of Air. I spoke to the Minister for Air (Senator
Drake-Brockman) about the matter. It is his understanding that it will be directed to him when the Committee considers the estimates of the Department of Air.
– I am quite happy to accept the explanation given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) provided that I am not told when I come to the estimates for the Department of Air that the vote has already been passed under the Department of the Interior. When the estimates for the Department of Air come before the Committee of the Whole I hope that I will be able to ask questions in relation to Division 707.
– As I mentioned to Senator Cant, the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) told me - about lunch time - that he felt the questions should be directed to him. I do not think the honourable senator will have any problems. If he has problems, as in the past I shall stand up and be seen with him.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.3 to 8 p.m.
Department of Air
Proposed expenditure - Civil Defence, $8 1 2,000 - agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $287,420,000.
– I wish to acknowledge the work of Estimates Committee E which looked at the estimates for this particular group of departments. 1 think it is important to note that this group of votes may be judged in its importance by the fact that in cash terms its proposed expenditure is $l,579m in a total vote under the whole of these Estimates of some $2,934m. The point is that the group of estimates into which Committee E inquired was of particular importance when related to the total proposed expenditure. It appeared to me that, in the scrutiny of the estimates for these various departments Estimates Committee E. did quite a sound job. I would like to thank members of the Opposition as well as the Government supporters for their work and co-operation.
– Which Committee was this?
– I think that if Senator Mulvihill had been interested in the volume of expenditure which Estimates Committee E was given to investigate he would have found that it represented more than 50 per cent of the whole of the proposed expenditure of the Commonwealth. This indicates the importance of the job which members of that Committee had. The main point that I want to raise, as has been raised previously, is that Estimates Committee E thought that if the Estimates committee system is to continue, the basis upon which officers who appear before the Committee to present evidence should be improved. The report of Estimates Committee E states in part:
The Committee again notes with satisfaction that in response to its recommendations last year, the provision by the Minister of detailed Departmental explanatory notes on the Estimates well in advance of the meetings, gave Committee members the opportunity to inform themselves, and frame their questions accordingly. However, the Committee does consider that the value of explanatory notes would be enhanced by the addition of a chart outlining the organisational structure in broad terms. The provision of such a chart would enable Senators to more readily establish the ureas within a department under which the various heads of expenditure fall.
I commend that remark to the Committee of the Whole. It causes me great concern that we find ourselves in the Committee of the Whole looking at the estimates again and taking the time of the officers of the Public Service in doing again all those things which were capable of being done in our various Committees. I realise that some honourable senators were anxious to bring forward particular matters which they thought could be brought forward only before the Committee of the Whole. Since I have been in the Parliament debates in this chamber on the Estimates have been mainly of political content. I believe, on reflection, that the various debates that have taken place in the Committee of the Whole following the meeting of those Estimates Committees again have been related more to political content than to a scrutiny of the expenditure of the various departments. I regret very greatly that there has been agreement to introduce the various amendments which have been proposed to the Committee of the Whole instead of quickly reviewing the Estimates.
The original proposition was that after the various Estimates Committees had scrutinised the Estimates for the departments and brought forward their reports there would be quick passage of these estimates through the Committee of the Whole. This has broken down entirely, and it is basically the responsibility of those who have agreed to a proposition whereby amendments could be brought forward. I greatly regret that that has happened. I plead with the Committee of the Whole that if we are to see the system of Estimates committees continue it should take into account the fact that the original idea of having Estimates Committee was so that the time of the Committee of the Whole as a whole would be saved in the scrutiny of the estimates of the various departments. I advocate to the Committee of the Whole that it should attempt to deal with the balance of these estimates as quickly as possible.
– I wish to refer to division 707, Acquisition of Sites and Buildings, which is under the control of the Department of the Interior. The explanatory, notes say that the sum of $140,000 has been provided for incomplete acquisition brought forward from 1970-71. I do not know what that refers to. The remainder of the provision is mainly for the acquisition of 600 acres at Learmonth in Western Australia - desert - and 600 acres of land at Amberley, $50,000, both of which will require further appropriations in due course. The Simpson Desert can be bought for 25c an acre, but the Government has gone to the desert at Learmonth and paid $460 an acre for it. It has gone to Amberley and paid $83 an acre for the land. I have been told that the reason for the high price of the land at Learmonth is that Mr George Kailis - I emphasise the name George Kailis - has a prawn factory on it, a couple of tin sheds and a freezer. He is the man with whom Mr Gorton goes to stay when he goes big game fishing on the north west coast.
– They are pretty harsh words.
– I am not hard; I am truthful about the rackets that go on in this place - $275,000 as a pay-off for a big game fishing holiday.
– That is despicable.
– Of course it is despicable. I have seen you so despicable that you would not have been fit to spit on.
– You had better make your accusations in proper terms.
– I have seen you hit at George Georges.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! Senator Cant, you will withdraw that remark.
- Senator Buttfield interrupted me. I can take it and I can give it.
– Order! Senator Cant, you will withdraw that completely disorderly statement.
– I will withdraw it because I want to have something to say. Otherwise 1 would not.
– ] rise to a point of order. I ask that there should be unqualified withdrawal and apology.
– Senator Cant, you are required to make an unqualified apology.
– I withdraw, Mr Chairman. I hope that you adopt the same attitude when other incidents are before the Chair. 1 say, Mr Chairman, that it is a deliberate payoff. I ask the Minister: Al what date was a decision made to upgrade the Learmonth airport? 1 am not asking about the decision actually to put the work in progress but about the decision to upgrade Learmonth airport. I think the Minister will find that the decision to upgrade Learmonth airport was made in 1962. The factory of Kailis was put at Learmonth in 1963, the Government knowing full well that the factory would be sited in the flight funnel of the Learmonth airport. Nevertheless, it allowed the establishment of a prawn factory in that area.
Furthermore, in 1965 the Government allowed George Kailis to improve that factory, to recondition it, knowing full well that it was in the flight funnel of the Learmonth airport. Now, in 1971, the Government comes before the Senate and requests an appropriation of $275,000 to buy out Kailis. I am told that 600 acres of freehold land is involved. Why did Kailis have 600 acres of freehold land for the establishment of a prawn factory on the beach? Why was that allowed? I say that this is a gimmick and a payoff. What is more, the explanatory notes say that a further appropriation will be required at a later date, so this is not the end of the payoff. This is not the end of the handouts that are being made by this Government. Until satisfactory arrangements are made I will continue to oppose this sort of handout. 1 do not accuse the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) because these arrangements are made through the Department of Defence. I ask the Minister to tell me the date that the decision was made to resume the land at Learmonth. Was the decision made to resume the land at Learmonth during the period that Mr Gorton was Minister foi Defence? This question is vital to the racket that I propose is going on.
I submit to the Committee that this appropriation should not be approved until satisfactory answers are given to some of the questions I have asked. Whether I proceed further with this matter depends upon the answers 1 receive.
– Senator Cant has made some very hard charges against the Government and against certain members of the Government. 1 think it is rather unfair of him to do so, particularly when he has very small knowledge of the facts of the case. Lel me point out to the honourable senator that air facilities have been at Learmonth since World War II.
– I am aware of that.
– I want Senator Cant to listen to what I am about to say. Plans for the further development of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Learmonth were first discussed early in 1965 when it was proposed that extensions similar to those now proceeding should be started, but this proposal was suspended or deferred in September 1966 pending a subsequent review of the whole situation. I stress that Senator Cant should remember those years, 1 965 and 1 966.
– 1 have noted them.
– In 1969 the Department of Air suggested that the matter again be looked at. Senator Cant may recall that at 11th November 1969, and for some time thereafter, the Minister for Defence was Mr Malcolm Fraser. On 12th August 1969 the Government announced approval of the extensions.
– Would you give me the date again?
– 1 2th August.
– Of what year?
– It was 1969. At that time the Minister for Defence was Mr Fairhall. Let us now turn to Kailis Gulf Fishery Pty Ltd. This business commenced operations on Linden Location 49 at Learmonth in 1963.
– That is right.
– A lease of the land was considered by the Western Australian Government, which is the owner of this land. That is the body which decides who shall have a lease of the land. Due to some departmental difficulties the lease was not formally approved until 1964. 1 have already told the honourable senator that the RAAF was not even interested in extensions at Learmonth until 1965. For Air Force operational reasons it was decided !o acquire the freehold interest in an additional area of land at Learmonth between the present boundary of the airfield and the coastline at Exmouth. This was decided as the Government wanted to upgrade Learmonth airport for operational purposes. In other words, it was decided to bring Learmouth up to operational base standards and to increase the length of the runway.
– When did you acquire the freehold?
– We have not acquired the freehold.
– You said that you acquired the freehold of the leased land.
– No, I did not. I said it was decided that it would acquire the freehold interest in the land in 1969. Included in this area was the prawn factory of Kailis. The trawlers came in each night to that prawn factory and thousands of seagulls congregated there because of the fish and the waste thrown overboard from the trawlers. The RAAF was establishing an operational base there, where aircraft would be taking off. We would have a bird nuisance there. So the Air Force believed that it should acquire the area in the interests of the safety of the aircraft and the personnel who fly them. Approval was given for acquisition of the land in question, at a . total cost of §343,000. The amount was made up as follows: The cost of the land about which Senator Cant was talking was §1,479, for 600 acres. That is a little different from $343,000, which Senator Cant was suggesting.
The compensation for Kailis Gulf Fishery Pty Ltd was §335,000. This amount was agreed after the Chief Property Officer of the Department of the Interior in Western Australia and his officers had conducted detailed examinations of the factory itself and of the amount involved to replace the factory or to pull it down and erect it in another area. The officers relied not on Kail is’ s figures alone; they spent a great deal of time in Western Australia talking to representatives of similar industries and to all kinds of businessmen about their view of the cost of pulling down this factory, transferring it some distance up the road and re-erecting it ready for the opening of the next season. There was involved a further charge of §6,521 for the disconnection of the telephone service to the factory and for installing it in the new factory. Approval of the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Defence had to be obtained. This was done. Both departments agreed that the final amount decided on should be approved. The amount paid to Kailis was §335,000.
– Has that been paid to Kailis?
– That has been paid to Kailis.
– Without an appropriation?
– A requisition amount of §343,000 was forwarded to the. Chief Property Officer in Perth on 11th October 1971. Of that amount Kailis has received §335,000. All this has been done in a very careful manner. I have watched this carefully. During the course of discussions I believed that the amount was very high. I required my Department to investigate the details of the total amount and why Kailis should have received that amount. I have been assured by the Chief Property Officer in Perth that the amount was the very least that Kailis could expect as compensation for the removal of his factory.
Why has the Department resumed that land? It has resumed the land because it wants to make Learmonth an operational base, lt hopes that when Learmonth is updated it will be able to take operational aircraft to that base and conduct a series of exercises out of that base from time to time. What happens if the factory is left where it is? It is right in the way, in the take-off or landing path, of outgoing and incoming aircraft. Only one or two birds need to get in the air intakes of the jet bombers or fighters, whichever they may be. and an aircraft is lost. Not only is an aircraft lost but a crew is lost as well. I believe that this is an insurance against a possible disaster. Therefore, despite what the honourable senator has said, I believe that this has been examined very carefully. Although the sum may be large, I believe that in the long run it could be little to pay to prevent a possible future tragedy.
– 1 do not quarrel with the statement of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) that the bird nuisance had to be removed. I have as much respect for the lives of Australian airmen as he has. He is not unique in having that respect. I have as much respect for the machinery that is purchased with Australian taxpayers’ money as he has. I do not quarrel with that statement. What the Minister has said is very interesting. 1 said - there was no need for the Minister to repeat lt - that Kailis Gulf Fishery Pty Ltd established a prawn factory in the area in 1963. I know that. I also know that. Kailis put improvements on that factory in 1965. at the time, as stated by the Minister, that the Department of Air was considering the up-grading of the Learmonth airbase. Kailis spent a large sum on improving the factory. If at that time the Department was considering making Learmonth an operational air base why was Kailis allowed to do this, knowing full well that what he was establishing was in the flight funnel of the air base? This is the first mistake that was made.
The Minister said that consideration of this matter was suspended in 1966 - although he gave no reason for such suspensions - and that it was not taken up again until 1969 when the matter was reviewed. The Minister said that the Minister at that time was Mr Malcolm Fraser, that on 11th November 1969 Mr Malcolm Fraser was the Minister. But some decision was taken on 1 2th August 1969. when the Minister was Mr Fairhall. But we do not know what that decision was. The present Minister said that the land is lease land under the control of the Western Australian Government. In this place today we heard a Minister decline to answer a question because there were exchanges of information on a government to government level between the Prime Minister and the Premier of a State. Is the Minister asking the Committee to believe that there was no liaison between the Department of Defence and the Western Australian Government as to the requirements of the Department of Defence with respect to the Learmonth Air base at that time? I do not believe that governments operate in this way.
The Minister said that the land that was acquired was valued at $1,479. The amount required for the project was $343,000. The most amazing thing is that Kailis has been paid $335,000. The Parliament has not yet approved the amount of $275,000 that is in the estimates before us. The Parliament is asked to approve the payment of $275,000 for the acquisitions at Learmonth: yet the Minister said that the Government has paid $335,000. It is true that the notes on the estimates say that additional appropriations will be required, but 1 should think that additional appropriations would be made by means of a special Bill, through the Supplementary Estimates which are prepared in about May or by the next Budget. The Parliament has not approved yet of any payment to Kailis for any acquisition. In defiance of the Parliament and without its authority the Government has spent public moneys. A matter which requires much deeper thought is that the Government, arrogant as it is - we know how how arrogant it is - would take the Parliament and particularly the Senate for granted; that an appropriation would be approved and that the Government would pay out not the amount for which it asked- $275,000- but would pay $335,000 to this firm. Is this the way in which the business of the Parliament should be conducted?
I repeat that the Minister has skirted well round the accusations that I make that $335,000 is an exorbitant price to pay for 3 tin sheds and a couple of tin houses - they are not mansions - and a freezer at Learmonth, despite the value placed on these items by the valuers who visited that place.
– Why could they not be moved by j inker?
– My friend has suggested that these items could have been put on a jinker and moved. I understand that they were not moved very far - just far enough to take them out of the flight funnel. I can remember when I was a boy on the gold fields that houses were moved with jinkers from one gold mining town to another, and those jinkers were not so modern as the ones that are available today. I would have been happy to have been paid $335,000 to move the whole factory to another site. The Minister has said also that $6,251 was paid for the disconnection of a telephone in the factory which was in the flight funnel and the reinstallation of the telephone in the newly established factory.
– That must be a record transfer fee.
– It has cost more than the coaxial cable to Carnarvon to Learmonth which was paid for by the Australian taxpayers and which was for the use of the naval communications station at North West Cape. That is the only purpose of that coaxial cable. The telephone to which I have referred has been moved about half a mile from where it was previously situated and the cost of moving it was $6,251. 1 suggest to honourable senators that we are in the wrong business. We should not be in Parliament. We should be taking government contracts and being well paid for what we do. In view of the attitude of the Government in taking the Parliament for granted on an appropriation of $275,000, and in view of the fact that the Government has paid out $335,000 without an appropriation being approved by the Parliament and without even asking the Parliament whether it should be approved, I move:
– I oppose the motion moved by Senator Cant. It is all very well for the honourable sena tor at this stage of negotiations to stand up in this place with hindsight and to talk about what should have been done, what has not been done and everything else. The honourable senator began his remarks by saying that in 1965 the Department of Air made a decision to bring the Learmonth base to operational standards, and he asked why the Department did not go on with that work at that time. I remind the honourable senator that the Department of Air makes many recommendations but that the recommendations must first be approved by the Department of Defence and then by Cabinet. It was not until 12th August 1969 that Cabinet finally gave approval to the recommendation to upgrade Learmonth to operational standards.
I point out that Kailis Gulf Fishery Pty Ltd had a lease from the Western Australian Government which it wanted to convert to freehold. That lease continues in operation until 1975. If. the Commonwealth had not wanted to pay this money it could have waited until 1975, hoping that the Western Australian Government would decide not to renew the lease held by the company. But to the Western Australian Government this project is very important as an export income earner and it would not want to do anything that would place difficulties in the way of the company. If we had not made an agreement so that Kailis would move his factory voluntarily we could have found in 1975 that the Western Australian Government would say that this was a very important industry to the State, that it was a big export income earner and that it saw no reason why it should not renew the lease. In that situation the Department of Air, and particularly the Royal Australian Air Force, would have had this installation right in the path of aircraft which were taking off or landing.
– We know how dangerous that would be.
– It is all very well for the honourable senator who knows that if his Party were in office it would use every power to push this or that chap out of his business. But this Government does not operate that way. The honourable senator is talking about the Government bypassing the Parliament. No such thing has been done. Parliament approves and allocates certain funds to a department. The expenditure of those funds on individual items is a matter within the prerogative of the Minister concerned. In this particular case $275,000 was allocated under a Supply Bill, the additional funds for the item coming from the Treasurer’s Advance. This is norma practice which is carried on by departments and which has been carried on for a very long time. The other point raised by the honourable senator is on the matter of telephones. The Postmaster-General’s Department, at the company’s request, installed telephones in its factory. Is the honourable senator suggesting to me that when this factory was moved not half a mile, as he suggested, but some 12 miles up the road, Kailis should have said to the Postmaster-General’s Department: ‘I have no telephone. 1 did have one telephone system and I suggest that the PostmasterGeneral put in a new telephone system at the expense of the taxpayers’? ls the honourable senator suggesting that? 1 did not think he was, and I did not think that anyone as a taxpayer would suggest that having been given one set of telephones the taxpayers should be responsible for giving Kailis Gulf Fishery Pty Ltd another set.
The Government believes that Kailis should pay for the new installation of his telephones. But he has already had them installed and. therefore, should be compensated for the cost of the installation of the new telephone setup in his new factory. That was why the payment was made. I know it is a large sum of money to be paid out to a particular industry. I know also that if one looks back over the history of this matter and seeks to associate all kinds of people with the firm, one can think of all sorts of wonderful stories which will indicate a considerable amount of favour. But those are not the facts. The facts are as I have given them. I believe that the amount of money approved for this venture is the lowest amount that we could get away with to move this installation from the site where it was to 12 miles up the road. We should bear in mind too that Kailis had until 1975 before anyone could kick him out.
– The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has attempted to make an explanation based on the Government’s chaotic cost accounting system. First of all. he said that $27,500 of the money that was paid to Kailis-
– I beg your pardon, senator, I made a mistake, it is $275,000.
– Very well. The Minister said that $275,000 came from the Department of Supply-
– No, from the Supply Bill.
– The Minister said $27,500, as I noted it, came from the Supply Bill and the balance from the Advance to the Treasurer. But wherever it came from is neither here nor there. It does not matter because what the Govenment is doing is taking a sum out of one pocket and then asking this Parliament to appropriate that sum to put back in the pocket. The principle is the same. It does not alter just because the money is available and it is used. What will happen if the motion seeking rejection of Division 707 is carried? ft will mean that the purpose for which the money sought under the Supply Bill is required will be $275,000 short. It will not be able to be supplemented. The balance to $335,000 which comes out of the Advance to the Treasurer will not be able to be supplemented. This is the simple way of dealing with it, instead of using the archaic accounting methods of this Government which have been criticised throughout the world and which no one understands. The simple facts - the Minister cannot embellish them in any way - are that the Department has paid out $335,000 without the approval of this Parliament. No matter how the Minister tries to get around it, that is the simple fact. The Government will have paid the money out and will not be able to supplement it. If this is the way in which this Government and its departments want to operate, in future every cent covered by Supply Bills, and every cent covered by the Advance to the Treasurer, will have to be documented so that we will know the expenditure proposed under the Supply Bills and the Advance to the Treasurer.
Apparently in the Supply Bill the Department has more money than it requires. The Government has asked this Parliament to approve in the Supply Bill more than is required. The Government seeks more than is required in the Advance to the Treasurer. lt will then be able, under its system of accounting, to use the money for other purposes, taking it for granted that this Parliament will supplement the amounts that the Government has spent without the authority of the Parliament. The Parliament did not give authority to the Government to spend moneys in this manner. It advanced money to the Department of Air, the Department of the Navy and various other Service departments, as it was requested to do, for their annual budgets, but the money in question did not come from any of the Service departments. Apparently the Department of Air did not have the money to pay to Kailis and it had to go to the Supply Bill for part of it and then to the Advance to the Treasurer for the balance. I accuse the Government - I make no apologies for doing so - of spending taxpayers money without the authority of the Parliament. This is only a small amount that I have been able to pick up. God knows how many other amounts are in these Estimates, if one were to examine them in detail, that the Government has spent without the authority of Parliament. Therefore, I submit that the Parliament should reject this appropriation in order to reprimand the Government and to ensure that the Government conducts the business of government as it should be conducted. What businessman would stay in business if he adopted an accounting system of this nature? He would not be in business for 5 minutes. Every auditor in the world would reject his accounts. Yet the Government asks this Parliament to agree to an appropriation after it has already spent the money and expects the Parliament to reimburse it. If it has the surplus funds to pay out to its friends in this manner, there is no need for this appropriation.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Senator Cant, that statement is completely disorderly in terms of standing order 418 and I ask you to withdraw it.
– I have not mentioned any friends. I have not named anyone as is mentioned in standing order 418.
– You are imputing improper motives to the Minister and to the Government.
– He can to the Government, surely.
– The last part of standing order 418, which is the relevant part, states:
– You do not have to mention members.
– If you insist, Mr Chairman, and if you want to protect this Government to that extent, I withdraw. But I say that there have been improper motives in the payment of these moneys without the authority of the Parliament. The Parliament has not approved of the actions taken. Until such time as it does so, the Committee should request the House of Representatives to reject the proposed expenditure.
– Let me say that Senator Cant, who has just sat down, is rather confusing the issue because he is talking, about the Department of Supply all the time. No-one mentioned the Department of Supply; I was talking about the Supply Bill.
– Senator Cant corrected his statement and agreed with that.
– All right. The passage of the Supply Bill is the normal action taken by the Parliament to give the Government carry-on money until the Estimates are passed. The Estimates have not yet been passed; but the government of the country has to go on. People have to be paid and claims have to be met; so money must be made available. Therefore there is no by-passing of the Parliament. 1 want to make that clear.
On the matter of Learmonth, I have explained the position. I do not think there is anything there that really troubles us. The amount involved, as Senator Cant says, is not a great deal of money. I believe it is a fair sum of money, but I believe it is a sum of money that has been approved after a thorough investigation has been carried out by the Department of the Interior. The chief property officer in Western Australia and his officers carried it out after information had been sought from businessmen in Western Australia who have a thorough knowledge of what is involved when a business is uprooted, transferred about 12 miles and then reerected.
– Everybody but the Parliament.
– I do not know that the Parliament has not agreed to this. It has been agreed to in another place. It has now come before this chamber and we are discussing it. Senator Cant made a number of statements as to what he thought had been involved in this action. I have told him the facts.
– And the facts line up with what I said.
– And the facts line up with what he said. Finally he said that he did not think this amount was a great deal of money.
– No, it is not.
– All right. Those were the only points on which we were arguing. We have come to a decision and agreement on them. So why go off at a tangent and say that the whole setup of parliamentary accounting is wrong? We have an Auditor-General who watches expenditure very carefully. In addition we have a committee from both Houses of the Parliament and all parties in the Parliament which carefully watches the expenditure of the various departments of government. I believe that there can be no misappropriation of funds under that scrutiny. I think honourable senators know from past experience that the Auditor-General on many occasions has pointed the finger at certain departments and their expenditure and that the Public Accounts Committee has done the same. No department wants that finger pointed at it; so departments are most careful in the way they go about approving claims. In addition to that, the Department of Air has received the approval of the Department of Defence and the Treasury. I do not see how there can be any misappropriation of funds in those circumstances.
– I suggest that consideration of this proposed expenditure be postponed until a subsequent time in order that it might be looked at a little more closely on both sides of the chamber. Accordingly I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr Chairman, I take it that the proposed expenditure will be brought before the Committee again before consideration of the estimates with which I am dealing is completed.
That is right.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Primary Industry $78,646,000 - agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - National Service - Rural Occupation;! - ReEstablish.ment Loans and Vocational Training $434,000- agreed to.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $465,081,000.
Proposed expenditure, $374,545,000.
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure, $261,081,000.
Department of Supply
Proposed expenditure, $109,638,000
Proposed expenditure. $2,667,000.
– Mv request is for information in respect of a division of the estimates for the Repatriation Department. I have been looking in vain for information relative to the servicing of the scheme known as the national service vocational training scheme. The only item which, it appears to me, could incorporate an anticipated expenditure on this important subject matter may be found under division 466 - Other Repatriation Benefits. I refer to item 10 - Miscellaneous. To endeavour to ascertain whether that item incorporates an anticipated expenditure for the servicing of the national service vocational training scheme, I have taken the opportunity to examine the document that was provided by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). as Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, in the form of an explanation of variations. The explanation of item 10 states that its purpose is:
To meet expenditure on recreation transport allowances, medical rehabilitation, funeral expenses, small business loans, educational grants to children under 12 years, recoverable expenditure for other countries, and miscellaneous benefits.
That tells me nothing in respect of the matter on which I am seeking information. I am prompted to ask my question because in a document prepared by the Repatriation Department and dated July 1971 - it is a public document now; it was submitted to a committee by that Department on 5th November this year - there is a table entitled: ‘Table 1 - Estimated Surviving Ex-servicemen as at 30 June 1971’. The document indicates that the number of surviving ex-servicemen from the Special Service, Vietnam conflict is 38,000. There is no breakdown to indicate the number of members of the regular Forces and the number of national service trainees, the conscripts. I understand, according to the Repatriation Department, that only exnational service trainees would be entitled to avail themselves of the national service vocational training scheme. At page 47 of the document, paragraph 17, reference is made to the provision of business ieestablishment loans of up to $3,000 and to loans of up to $6,000 to assist persons to re-establish themselves for agricultural purposes. Then the document goes on to refer to post-discharge training where necessary or desirable for the effective re-settlement of national servicemen. This document indicates the description of the training and the allowances which are made available.
I have obtained information from the Parliamentary Library to the effect that as at 30th June this year 6,452 applications had been received for training under the national service vocational training scheme. Of those applications 4,913 had been approved, 551 had been declined, 535 had been withdrawn or had lapsed and 53 had not been decided. To service this scheme there is quite an elaborate central training committee of which the Minister would be aware -and it is augmented and supported by regional training committees. I would have thought that the anticipated expenditure in this field would have warranted a specific reference in the Appropriation Bill. lt may well be that because of the limitations of the opportunities available to exnational service trainees the scheme has not been as attractive as previous post-war reconstruction schemes have been.
Nevertheless, I ask the Minister whether he can point out to me where in this Appropriation Bill I can find the section dealing with the appropriation for this scheme which comes within the ambit of the Repatriation Department. Secondly, what is the amount allocated to service the scheme?
– I think Senator Brown would agree that he has covered a pretty wide field and I will give him as much information as 1 can now and, if he is agreeable, make inquiries of the Repatriation Department about the other information he seeks and write to him about it. I hope the honourable senator accepts that suggestion. He spoke about anticipated expenditure under the national service re-training scheme. As he pointed out, this expenditure is for recreation transport allowances, medical rehabilitation, funeral expenses, etc.
The honourable senator may be a little wiser if I give him details about some of this expenditure. He will note that the estimate for 1971-72 is up by $180,357 on the expenditure for last financial year. These increases are made up as follows: Firstly, under the recreation transport allowance, the increased number of allowances is estimated to require $25,118. In respect of funeral expenses, the estimated increased cost is $18,949 and the increased number of recipients is expected to require a further $4,852, making a total under this heading of $23,801. For medical rehabilitation it is anticipated that a small increase in the cost per aid will need $7,849 and that an increase in the number of rehabilitees will need a further 825,161. The total increase under the heading of medical rehabilitation is $33,010. It is estimated that the increase in the number of cars, driving devices and allowances will cost a total of $18,768.
Under the heading of small business loans it is anticipated that the increase in the average amount per loan will require a further provision of $30,765 and that the increase in the number of loans will require $29,865, making a total increase of $60,630 under this heading over the expenditure last year. Recoverable expenditure this year is expected to increase by
Si 6,476 over that of last year. Other incidental expenses require a minor increase and the Department has anticipated it will cost $2,554. The grand total under this item in the Estimates is estimated to increase by $180,357. Those are the matters dealt with in item 10 of this Division. 1 cannot supply any further information to answer the honourable senator’s questions at this point but I will seek the information from the Department and supply it to him in letter form if that course is agreeable to him.
– With all respect to the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) all he did was to explain to me precisely what I could observe in the document supplied to every honourable senator giving details of the variations in the Estimates. 1 had pointed out that 38.000 service personnel had served in Vietnam and that over 6,000 of them had made application to the Repatriation Commission for assistance under the national service vocational training scheme. I cited all these reasons to justify my question. My question is simply this: Can the Minister state where one can find the anticipated expenditure for the national service vocational training scheme for 1971-72? Ft is as simple as that.
– The answer is no, I will write to the honourable senator and give him the information.
– Although I wanted to speak on the estimates for the Department of the Army I would like to raise a matter which concerns repatriation because 1 agree that it would be a good idea if we could complete the confederation of the estimates for this Department. One aspect of repatriation which is causing me great concern is the Repatriation Department’s artificial limb-making section. One wonders whether justification exists today for the continuation of this rather costly operation of the Department. The Repatriation Departments artificial limb-making section seems to have secured a monopoly of limb making in Australia at present. I believe that elaborate research is conducted by the Department somewhere in Victoria, but that these activities are not being carried out for returned servicemen. This costly work is being directed mostly towards civilian fields.
The 1970-71 annual report of the Repatriation Commission shows that of the OLa number of arms made for persons in all States, only 30 went to returned servicemen and 176 went to civilians: and only 711 legs were made for returned servicemen and 1,013 were made for civilians. In the Nor. hern Territory the Department did not make any artificial limbs for returned servicemen but made 3 arms and 70 legs for civilians. Although the report indicates that the Department is do’ng something in the field of surgical footwear and so on. we have to ask whether payment by civilians for artificial limbs is sufficient to compensate the Repatriatiion Department for the cost involved. We also have to ask whether we are getting a false figure in relation to what is spent on repatriation because it is obvious that some benefit may go to civilians. I am not opposed to the Department engaging in this field if benefits s are derived. However, I believe that the monopoly type operation of the Department in this field is retarding the advance of artificial limb making in Australia and is doing a disservice (o civilians who, on the recommendation of their doctor, have to go to the Department to have an artificial limb made. The Department also is not giving to returned servicemen the service that they need.
During the year I have posed questions to the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) on this matter. We find that, in the manufacture of artificial legs, the Repatriation Department is still using what is known as the north-west knee lock, joint which has been discarded by every other country as obsolete. I have asked the Minister why this is the case. The Minister states that the North-Wes University in Chicago - NWU - artificial knee is used extensively by the Repatriation Department because it is regarded by me Department’s central development unit after appropriate study and trial as being among the best of ils type available. No other prosthetist would agree wilh this. This method is used in no other developed country in the world.
Senator Drury and I went to a lecture the other night at which a prosthetist told us of recent developments in this field. He told us how artificial legs can be produced today by what is known as the Blatchford stabilising knee adjustment which permits the bending of the knee without overbalance. The Minister also said that the Repatriation Department is still of tha opinion that it is using the best adjustment although al] the experts in the field have discarded the north-west system for many years. After telling us that the north-west knee joint was developed by the Northwest University in Chicago the Minister stated that there are many other designs incorporating this principle. He said that this was one of the best yet developed. It may be of interest to the Minister to know that currently the Department is evaluating 3 other different types of knee joints which have been developed in Britain and America. Yet, the Department only now is developing a new improved locking system for artificial joints.
As Senator Drury can verify in respect of the discussion we had. the capabilities of the use of artificial limbs today have been improved so much by the great advance in research and development overseas. However the Repatriation Department has not made one new development in this field. Because other prosthesis cannot compete, we have an organisation with a monopoly that is not operating to the best advantage of those it is treating. The Department is preserving an empire which it has built up in the field of artificial limb-making. This year the Department issued a publication entitled: ‘Limb Substitutes and Appliances’. The book includes many drawings and photos. At page 3 of the publication a partial hand prosthesis is shown and is reproduced in 5 photographs. However, this partial hand prosthesis appeared in an American publication in 1968. Therefore the suggestion that this prosthesis is the work of the Repatriation Department is false. I challenge the Minister to name one partial hand-limb which has been designed by the Department. In the only case that I know of, when a returned serviceman had to have a partial hand applied, he was sent to other sources. The Department will not relinquish a service which was set up for returned servicemen. I believe that this section of the Department is no longer giving a benefit to returned servicemen. By its monopoly of activities in this field it is keeping out the necessary competition which would introduce the advanced development which is available overseas.
Employees of the Department who cannot agree with what the Department is doing cannot always find alternative employment. I know of one man who left the Department to join the Department of Social Services in South Australia which has a good field for developing and making artificial limbs. That Department has developed a new technique whereby within a fortnight of an amputation a man can be returned to employment with an artificial limb. This avoids the necessity of a man having to go through doctors to the Reparation Department and wait for the manufacture and fitting of an artificial limb. Under the old system some 7 months later a person who has lost his leg finds it is necessary to learn to walk again. He cannot use the leg. St Margaret’s in South Australia is boosting patients morale by having them walk before they have forgotten how to walk and this gets them back to work and on the payroll so that they are not a drain on social services. Men with an amputation above the knee are returned to work within a fortnight. This situation cannot be achieved by the Repatriation Department, but it is the only body whose particular skills in this field are recognised by the Public Service. MiFrank Simpson was employed by the Repatriation Department and was granted a Churchill Fellowship and left the Department. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), in answer to question 1310 stated:
Mr Simpson applied for and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1967 to enable him to study the making of artificial limbs in the United States of America. He was overseas from September 1967 to August 1968 during which period he was granted leave by the Department.
Because Mr Simpson is not working for the Repatriation Department he cannot receive recognition as a prosthesis specialist. As a result he has to be employed as a foreman instructor. His status and his wages are affected accordingly. Possibly he is doing the best job in South Australia in this field. He can obtain recognition if he returns to the Repatriation Department.
The Minister has said that some recognition may be given to this man. in his answer the Minister states: lt is the practice for positions, appropriate to the type of work being performed by Mr Simpson, to be provided only on the establishment of the Repatriation Department.
In fairness to the Minister for Air I must point out that this is an answer from the Minister for Social Services and not from the Minister for Air representing the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten). The Minister for Social Services continues:
The Public Service Board has recently indicated, however, that, as a basis for appropriate recognition of the duties actually performed by Mr Simpson, it would be prepared to consider the introduction of an arrangement whereby a position would be created on the Repatriation Department establishment and outposted to the St Margaret’s Rehabilitation Centre of the Department of Social Services. The practicability of such an arrangement is currently under consideration.
Honourable senators can see that the only way in which Mr Simpson can obtain recognition for his ability, and which he deserves, is to return to his place of employment with the Repatriation Department. Apparently, on no account must the Repatriation Department lose its grip on this activity. This is an activity which is held up to returned servicemen as being a justification of the Department; but as an activity of the Department this is not benefiting ex-servicemen. It is to the detriment of ex-servicemen. Within the last 3 weeks the Minister for Social Services was at St Margaret’s where an inspection was held. I complained to him. I said to him: The Repatriation Department would be all right if you did not permit it to stand over you’. He assured me that the Department was not standing over him. I said: ‘Well, what about the case of Simpson?’ He said: We hope to fix it up’. Here is a Minister recognising the qualifications of a man but relying on another Department to employ him. This matter needs to be thoroughly investigated.
I am much concerned with the advertisement relating to the independent inquiry into the repatriation system. Whether its terms of reference are sufficiently wide to cover amputation and artificial limb making is open to doubt. Unless this matter is protested about members of the Committee - on the evidence before them - could well believe that there is no complaint which should lead to an investigation in relation to these activities of the Department. I say that the Minister should direct the investigation to any inquiry which is held. I know that the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare - on which I think Senator Fitzgerald served - accepted evidence from repatriation officials in relation to the Repatriation Department’s activities. On the information given by the Department no-one could do other than accept that it was doing the job. But on all the evidence which is available in relation to this matter, the Department is keeping back progress in relation to a most deserving section of the community. I therefore ask the Minister what the Department is doing. Are the photographs which are shown in this publication which I have in my hand what they purport (o be? Are they not republished from an American journal? Has the Department ever made such an application as that to which I referred? What is the cost to the Department for which we are passing appropriations of supplying artificial limbs for the civilian population?
– Senator Cavanagh has been quoting from a prepared reply which he received from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). Is that not correct, senator?
– Yes, that is right.
– I have not had the opportunity of seeing or studying that prepared reply. I think that I should refer the honourable senator’s remarks to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) for comment in relation to the subject matter which the honourable senator has raised. Firstly, let me make one point clear in relation to artificial limb and appliance services. In each State the Repatriation Department maintains a limb and appliance centre which supplies a wide range of artificial and surgical aids and appliances. It is Government policy to have such centres. Cabinet has approved that the centres provide limbs and appliances for eligible departmental patients and other Commonwealth departments and agencies. Provision has also been made for such service to be made available to State government departments, philanthropic organisations and private persons who cannot be fitted satisfactorily elsewhere. If this facility is made available to a private patient the Department recovers the full cost. The Department has established in Melbourne a central development unit which carries out research into and the development of artificial limbs and appliances. The director of this unit is a medical officer with a world-wide reputation. In fact, this officer has only recently returned from Malaysia where for some time he has been advising the Malaysian Government on the manufacture of artificial limbs. A pretty solid reputation has been built up by this organisation. In each State centre there is a medical specialist in this field. So 1 think it is pretty difficult to criticise the Department in relation to its efforts in this field. Nevertheless I will take up with the Minister the points raised by the honourable senator. The last matter he referred to was the independent inquiry into repatriation. He said that in his view the reference to the Committee did not go far enough in some matters. The references were laid down by the Government. It remains to be seen whether the matters mentioned by the honourable senator will be covered by the Committee. Again I shall refer the honourable senator’s remarks to the Minister for Repatriation and no doubt the Minister will take up the points raised by the honourable senator and reply to him by way of letter.
– One question that arises is how far one should go in relation to this matter. The Department is run by a medical officer who has a world-wide reputation and who travels to advise people overseas. The query that arises is how a layman can question the position. Nevertheless, this is not only my opinion; it is supported by some authorities. We have formed in South Australia the Civilian Limbless Association, and I believe also that successful associations have been formed in Western Australia, and either Victoria or New South Wales. The main purpose of the newly-formed South Australian Civilian Limbless Association is to find some avenue through which to obtain artificial limbs other than the Department of Repatriation, with which the Association is not satisfied. Here we have people with actual experience in this field who are not satisfied with the Department’s method of supplying limbs.
Perhaps prejudice plays a great pari in the capability of the patient to adapt himself to the use of an artificial limb. It may be like a placebo so that if he has confidence in the manufacturer, in the surgeon and in those who have prescribed the limb for him, it can help him a lot. lt may be as much psychological as a real complaint regarding faulty manufacture by the Department. But I have seen proof of this in my own home. I have had shown to me the terrifically heavy artificial legs that an individual is expected to carry around. How far should we go in protesting about this matter? Not one of the pertinent questions I have asked has been answered by the Minister. Where do we find in the appropriation what this Department costs? When we see the few limbs that it is making for returned servicemen we might ask whether civilians are paying the full amount for artificial limbs.
The Minister has nol replied to my question as to whether the Department is giving a fair and accurate presentation of its activities to the public. The fact that it has a doctor of world-wide reputation will not save it from the accusation that what is contained in one of its official publications as representing the work of the Department is a reprint from a publication by another organisation many years ago. It does not protect it from the criticism that the type of limb demonstrated on page 3 of its publication ‘Limb Substitution Appliances’ was never made in Australia. Can the Minister tell me whether the Department made any of the limbs shown on page 3 of this publication or whether it is a reprint from an American journal?
– I am representing the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) in this chamber. I will not give the honourable senator information which I am not sure is authentic. Therefore I will refer the matters raised by the honourable senator to the Minister himself. How am I to know whether the question the honourable senator asks me about a photograph in the report is a reprint from an American journal? 1 do not know. I have not done any study of it. It is for the Minister himself to say, not for Senator Cavanagh or for Senator Drake-Brockman. The honourable senator asked me as to the cost of running the
Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres. Towards the bottom of page 75 of the 1970-71 annual report of the Repatriation Commission the honourable senator will see this matter dealt with under the heading ‘Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres’. He will see that the gross cost for staff was $565,174; other consumable stores cost $264,981; and maintenance and miscellaneous charges amounted to $280,470; making a total of $1,110,625.
– While the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) is obtaining answers to my questions in relation to the Department of Repatriation, I will ask some more questions m relation to the Department of the Army into which he possibly could make some inquiries. I am concerned about the cost of Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam, other than those costs actually related to the fighting units. I noticed a report in the ‘Australian’ during the week which stated that this weekend there will be sent to Vietnam another entertainment troupe for the purpose of entertaining the troops there. It suggested that the cost of entertaining the troops in Vietnam was borne equally by the Department of the Army and some civilian forces, and that the actors, some of whom are of high class, go on a voluntary basis; they are not paid. I am concerned to know how they get there. Do they go at Army expense? I notice that they are paid an allowance of $20 a day and are given free accommodation. Does the Army bear some of this cost? While I am not opposed to the entertainment of troops, I think we should know what it is costing from the public purse. Why is a group of entertainers going to Vietnam at this time when it is anticipated that all combat troops will be out of Vietnam by Christmas? Is this fantasy or is it real? Have we enough troops in Vietnam to justify further expenditure by the Department on their entertainment?
During the course of the campaign in Vietnam I asked a question of the Minister for the Army in relation to the activities of the Citizen Military Forces. In prior correspondence from the Minister, I received replies to questions that I had asked without notice but at that time the Minister did not know the answers. In a letter dated 29th November he informed me that since 1966, 127 officers and 26 other ranks have undertaken tours of duty in Vietnam. This seems to be somewhat of a contradiction of the position that a person liable for national service was protected from serving in Vietnam if he joined the CMF. I realise that the answer will be that those who went were volunteers. Nevertheless, there seems to be some influence that caused the participation of members of the CMF in the war in Vietnam, but at least we want to know what part the CMF played. Twenty two officers and four other ranks have served for short periods on several tasks mainly involving legal and medical matters.
I am concerned that the Minister states that, in addition, about 600 officers of the Citizen Military Forces visited Vietnam as observers for short periods, usually of about 10 or 12 days. So it was a holiday. Why did we send 600 CMF officers for 10 or 12 days visiting the pleasure houses of Saigon? What did it cost to send 600 CMF officers to Vietnam? Will he justify the expenditure and tell us what they were observing in Vietnam? Fellows who have returned from Vietnam say that in Saigon there is plenty to observe. Whether that was the purpose of sending CMF officers on visits there, I do not know.
The Minister states that the intention was that the experience so gained would provide a valuable contribution to the improvement of CMF training when the officers returned to their units. I think this needs justification. What did these high ranking officers of the CMF observe in Vietnam on their visits of 10 or 12 days there that they could apply to Australians training under entirely different conditions? One can visualise that such a holiday is given as a reward to officers of the CMF. I am prompted to ask just how seriously Australia takes the war in Vietnam. The letter to which I have been referring came direct from Senator Drake-Brockman, the Minister for Air.
From the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock), 1 received a reply dated 6th December in which he advised that of the permanent military forces 428 members received injuries as non battle casualites; 262 national servicemen also received injuries as non battle casualities. Senators and members of the other place have always been concerned about Australian casualties, including those members of our forces who are injured while not engaged in battles. Honourable senators will remember the time when the Vietcong was re-laying Australian mines so that they were detonated by Australians and not by the Vietcong, lt seemed to indicate neglect somewhere in the operation. The Minister has given an analysis of the casualties. Of the number injured by plant and equipment operations 61 were members of the permanent military forces and 35 were national servicemen, making a total of 96. What type of plant and equipment was involved in such actions?
Accidents with weapons caused injuries to 57 members of the permanent military forces and 29 national servicemen, a total of 86. When injuries occur in training one is entitled to question whether it is conducted efficiently and with strict supervision and control. Accidents in training accounted for injuries to 29 members of the permanent military forces and 22 national servicemen. Casualties through emotional illness must also concern us. Of the permanent military forces 34 were such casualties, and 14 national servicemen, making a total of 48 casualties as a result of emotional illness. Is the training of our forces efficient when out of our small force in Vietnam nearly 700 were casualties through non battle causes? The figures 1 have cited are given by the Minister for the Army in his reply to me. There must be a reason for that large number of casualties. There must be incompetence somewhere in the training of these men so that they could not conduct themselves in a safer manner in Vietnam. I ask the Minister to throw some light on the reason why such a large number of non battle casualties occurred.
– The first matter to which I wish to refer concerns the estimates for the Department of the Army. My colleague Senator Cavanagh referred to the campaign in South Vietnam. I wonder whether we could get a final countdown on the fate of the dogs that were on strength in Vietnam. Did we find owners for them, or what happened to them? I am aware that quarantine regulations prevented their return with the regiments, and I am curious as to their ultimate fate. I seek your guidance, Mr Temporary Chairman. I take it that I am entitled to raise matters which concern the estimates of the Department of the Navy and the Department of Supply in addition to the estimates of the Department of the Army.
– That is right.
– I want to ask whether we now have our patrol boats on full strength in the Navy. I am encouraged to seek 2 answers. When the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution visited Darwin there were some reservations among Navy personnel on whether the number of patrol boats was sufficient to maintain lengthy patrols necessitated at times, for example, by visits by Taiwan fishing vessels which are taken into custody for breaching our fishing laws. What is our total complement of patrol boats? Are they capable of controlling fishing pirates?
I turn my attention now to the South Australian coast and refer to co-operation between the Department of the Navy and State Government instrumentalities. Mr Temporary Chairman, you would know only too well Pearson Island off the coast of South Australia as the home of a rare variety of rock wallaby. You would also be aware of the concern expressed about the activities of fishing vandals who go on to the island and engage in shooting, causing great carnage. What co-operation, if any, exists between the Navy and State authorities in respect of the use of patrol boats to combat such situations or the eastern coast of Australia?
My next question concerns the estimates of the Department of Supply. When Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was Minister for Supply, at the request of the New South Wales Branch of the Transport Workers Union I requested advice of the ratio between miles travelled by cars of the Commonwealth car pool in Sydney and miles travelled on behalf of the Commonwealth by private car operators. I do not expect to obtain tonight the information I am seeking, but I would like the Minister to provide for me a breakdown of the miles covered in the last 3 months by hire cars on behalf of the Commonwealth compared with the miles travelled by cars of the Commonwealth car pool in Sydney. I would also like to ask the Minister whether Commonwealth drivers are automatically entitled to a higher classification after they have driven a certain number of miles in their employment.
The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has a wealth of industrial experience. Perhaps his has been gained on one side and mine has been gained on the other side. He is familiar with industrial matters at least in some industries in Western Australia. I would like to establish whether there is stability of employment in the Commonwealth car pool in Sydney. What is the rate of recruitment there? The other point that I raise is in regard to the estimates for the Department of Supply. I refer particularly to the Antarctic Division. There was a period when it was necessary for us to charter vessels, often from the Scandinavian countries. Are we now selfsufficient or do we need to charter vessels from other countries?
– I point out to honourable senators that 1 represent the Minister for the Army, the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Supply. I am here with the advisers from the various departments to tell the Committee what the line estimates represent and how they are made up. Senators Cavanagh and Mulvihill have taken the opportunity of asking me a series of questions, some of which involve a great deal of research. I am sure that Senator Mulvihill will understand that I would have to approach the responsible Ministers and ask them to get the information for me. I will do that and provide it to the honourable senator as soon as I can.
I reply briefly to some points made by Senator Cavanagh about the entertainment troupe that recently went to Vietnam. 1 understand that travel to Vietnam by this troupe was through the defence forces charter. The Army charters a civilian aircraft to go to Vietnam each week. On most occasions the aircraft is almost filled with troops and other requirements for Vietnam. At times there are a number of vacant seats. There were vacant seats available for the entertainment troupe. A daily allowance is paid by the Army to reimburse entertainers for their out-of-pocket expenses. Senator Cavanagh said that he thought the Government had promised that all troops would be home by Christmas. 1 am informed that about 1,200 soldiers will be in Vietnam. They will be engaged in closing down our base in Vietnam. I know from my Department that some Air Force personnel will be there. They will be required to ferry equipment and men who are in Vietnam at present. Everyone cannot go home for Christmas. There must be someone there to tidy up our equipment that is left there. It has been stated that the entertainment troupe that recently went to Vietnam will be the last troupe to go to Vietnam lo entertain the Australian forces.
Senator Cavanagh also made reference to a question that he asked me some time ago in the Senate about the number of officers in the Citizen Military Forces who are serving in Vietnam. I gave him the information which the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) made available to me. Senator Cavanagh read that information and questioned the answer. I do not think I should become involved in this crossquestioning by the honourable senator of what the Minister said in his reply. Let me say that a number of CMF officers have been sent to Vietnam as observers. The Minister said that in his reply. They were sent there to join the Regular Army units in operations so that they could gain actual battle experience which may be used, on their return, in training CMF troops. I do not think, by any stretch of the imagination, that a spell in Vietnam could be considered a holiday. I believe that the spell that these officers had in Vietnam must be of great value to them and to the CMF units in Australia.
The other point I make is that the highest ranking CMF officer who has served in Vietnam is a lieutenant-colonel. That is all the information that I can provide at present. I shall see that the various Ministers have the points raised by the honourable senators brought to their notice. I will ask that a written reply be supplied to each honourable senator.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
– The only estimates remaining to be considered in the defence block are those for the Department of Air, consideration of which was postponed earlier this evening. I suggest,
Mr Chairman, that the Committee now resume consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Air.
Department of Air
Proposed expenditure, 5287,420,000.
– I make an appeal to the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) to reconsider the answer that he gave me on the houses available at the Tindal air base near Katherine in the Northern Territory. The Minister has agreed that the hundred homes there will be made available for civilian use as the air base will not be used by the Department. He suggested that the houses can be dismantled, taken over by the Northern Territory housing authority and re-erected. This was attempted with one house, but it was not successful. They are made in such a way that they cannot be loaded on a low loader. They have to be dismantled and re-erected. The cost of dismantling and re-erection, with the maintenance necessary on re-erection, could well make the venture an unprofitable one for the Northern Territory housing authority.
The base is 10 miles out of Katherine. There is an acute housing shortage at Katherine. Each department operating in the Northern Territory is suffering as a result of deficient labour supplies which cannot be acquired because of insufficient accommodation. The tourist caravan park at Katherine is occupied by permanent residents. Tourists in caravans cannot stay at Katherine. Therefore the position is desperate.
The Minister said that the houses in their present location are in an Army security area and that civilians cannot live in such an area. The base is at Tindal. The buildings which are used for the purpose of administering the base are adjacent to the airport. They are separated from the hundred houses, the canteen, the bar, the dance hall and the oval. A public road runs between the housing area and the airport. The public can visit the housing estate at any time. There is nothing to prevent the erection of a fence around the buildings which are used for the purpose of administering the base and handing over the houses in the estate to the Northern Territory housing authority. I ask the
Minister to reconsider the position. In the opinion of experts in this field who are in the area there is no danger.
Another point that I raised at the same time as a result of my visit to Katherine was the burning and later the dumping of new filing cabinets and lockers. The Minister has stated that the lockers which were burnt were not new and that those which could not be reconditioned were offered for sale. People in the area were interested in buying new lockers and saw the destruction which occurred. With all respect I suggest that the Minister should check on those people who are supplying him with information. Affidavits can be produced to show that what I have claimed did happen in the area. No-one is able to understand why it happened.
The last point with which I propose to deal relates to the purchase of a debagging machine for removing cement from bags. On this subject the Minister has said that the machine was purchased in 1969 at a cost of $83,000 and that its purpose is to take cement out of bags for use in areas where bulk cement cannot be obtained. That machine has never been used. Why the Parliament should be asked to pass an appropriation permitting the expenditure of $83,000 on a machine for which there is no immediate use is something that J cannot understand. I wonder also whether there is anything in the appropriation on this occasion which requires more serious investigation. Apparently this Department had money which it was required to spend before the end of the financial year, so it spent S83,0O0 on a de-bagging machine which has not been used over a period of 3 years but which has remained locked in a shed. That machine would have very little resale value, according to the Minister, who hopes that it will have a use in the construction of airports in other areas where bulk cement will not be available.
Two men with a knife could open paper bags of cement quickly enough for the most efficient concrete mixer without an expenditure of $83,000. I suggest that future expenditure on such machinery which is not normally used or which could be used only occasionally, if ever, should receive serious consideration before being approved when there are other areas of need within the Department. Officers of the Department stationed at Darwin work in areas which are not air-conditioned. It is terrible that men should have to work under these conditions in Darwin because the Department has not money available for air-conditioning. It is possible that for less than the cost of a de-bagging machine the men stationed in Darwin would be able to work in air-conditioned comfort.
-The 3 matters raised by the honourable senator have been dealt with by me in the Senate in answers to questions. On each occasion I have answered his question. I know that perhaps the honourable senator does not agree with the answers he received, but I believe that they were a true account of what has happened. The honourable senator asked whether 1 would reconsider my decision that the houses at Tindal are transportable and that probably we will want them for use at other sites somewhere in Australia or perhaps elsewhere.
– The Minister told me that they would be released for civilian use.
– Yes. I was going on to say that at present my Department, together with the Department of Defence, is investigating what the future of these houses will be. The honourable senator has suggested that in the meantime they should be made available as living quarters for civilians in the area. I think this is a very worthy suggestion, but unfortunately, as the honourable senator has said, the houses are quite near to the runways of the airfield.
– I do not believe that. The Minister should look at them.
– If a young child ran out of a house and into the path of an aircraft, or if a vehicle moving about the area was struck by an aircraft, the honourable senator would be the first to stand up in this place and complain. I do not want to be responsible for a situation in which that could happen. I want a report from my Department and from the Department of Defence before I make a decision on this matter. I shall note what the honourable senator has said and bear it in mind when I am considering those reports.
I have explained the position in regard to the lockers. The honourable senator says that he is aware of people who are prepared to make affidavits to the effect that the lockers which were burnt were, in their opinion, new. This piece of information is very enlightening. From day to day I receive letters from people who tell me not only how I should be running the Royal Australian Air Force but also what is going on in the Air Force. They write to me with every little complaint they can find, dealing with matters ranging from sonic booms from aircraft down to someone trespassing on their property, breaking gates and so on. I was very surprised to hear the honourable senator make this statement when no-one has written to me complaining that new lockers were burnt at that site. Until I receive other information I must abide by the information available to me as a result of inquiries by my officers who were instructed to investigate the matter after it had been raised in the Senate.
I have stated the position with regard to the purchase of a de-bagging machine. No cement company was willing to supply bulk cement to Tindal for the works which were in progress. The Air Force said that it had a requirement for this machine, the Treasury agreed to expenditure on the machine and it was purchased. The work was completed and the airfield construction team was then moved to Amberley and later to Learmonth.
– The machine was never used.
– I understood that it was used, although it was not used very much. The machine is now under cover waiting for the airfield construction company to move somewhere else where no bulk supply of cement is available. The machine will then be in use again. The machine should have a long life and perform much work for the Air Force. Neither the honourable senator nor I knows what work lies in front of the Air Force in this regard. I merely say to him that as he has raised these matters again I shall investigate them and if I have further information to give to him I shall supply it.
– Because of the arrangements that have been made between the leaders of the parties in the Senate, 1 wish to withdraw the motion that I submitted.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
– We now proceed to group A covering the Departments of Health, the Parliament, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury, including a consideration of the Advance to the Treasurer, and Defence.
Department of Health
Proposed expendiure, $44,832,000.
Proposed expenditure, 54,829,000.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Proposed expenditure, $28,521,000.
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $103,984,000.
Advance to the Treasurer
Proposed expenditure, $25,000,000.
Department of Defence
Proposed expenditure, $25,048,000.
– I propose to direct a couple of small requests to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) who is now at the table. In considering the estimates for the Parliament I wonder whether we are looking ahead to a push button method of enabling members to indicate their attitude to legislation before the Parliament. Those of us who have seen other Parliaments in action, and I think most honourable senators have, have been amazed that even countries, which I shall not name, which went through devastation in World War II and those which have recently emerged from a heavily agricultural atmosphere seem to have less timeconsuming procedures than we do with our old-fashioned procedures for counting divisions. The point I raise is whether we have conducted extensive research into push button methods of voting instead of having to file in and out of the chamber for divisions.
The other matter I want to raise concerns the Treasury and its salesmanship, for want of a better term, in regard to government loans. This is a hardy annual I have raised with the officers of the Treasury. I ask the Minister whether there are any advertisements which we give continuously to that obscure Sydney newspaper, the ‘Century’. I understand that the newspaper is not subject to any form of audit and its circulation would be questionable. I am curious to know whether anybody from Treasury would accept any responsibility if we continued to throw good money after bad by advertising in such a pretty poor example of journalism.
– Before we proceed, Mr Minister, I presume we will deal with the Department of Health first for your convenience.
I am perfectly happy to accommodate the Committee. If the debate is to be fairly extended, I think it would be easier to take the estimates department by department - I have the officers from the various Departments with me - but if the debate is to be in a fairly abridged form perhaps we could take the totality of the departments. Because my officers and I were getting ourselves organised I missed the substance of the first point raised by Senator Mulvihill. Will he repeat it for me now?
– It related to whether we were thinking of introducing any innovations in the Parliament, such as the push button voting method to replace the hackneyed and time-consuming practice of counting divisions and so on.
(10.12) - Most of us in our parliamentary duties have been overseas and have seen the voting procedures adopted by other parliaments, most of which have a 3- button system providing for ayes, noes and abstentions. We have a system under which the House divides. It is taken from the Mother of Parliaments. There are some difficulties in departing from this system, indeed, there are some advantages in the tradition. For instance! divisions enable exchanges of views and take out the tensions in members. I know of no studies that have been done through the Presiding
Officers. If there have been any I will certainly let the honourable senator know by communication. The second point relates to advertising and decisions taken in regard to placement of advertisements with various journals. My understanding is that certain departmental functions are involved here, but broadly speaking - I will have to check with the Treasury officials - some guidelines are laid down for the placement of advertisements. It is a pretty dangerous area to move into because, as I have often said, kissing goes by favour and the judgment of one group that an advertisement should be placed in one area might be challenged by other groups. Nevertheless, I will have it looked into by the Treasury.
– 1 want to deal with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House considered the automatic voting system and, if my recollection is correct, was not impressed with it. The Committee recommended that in view of the number of members in both Houses of the Parliament a sub-committee should be formed to go further into this matter. That sub-committee went abroad to study aspects other than parliamentary buildings. So there has been some study but whether it has been mentioned in the Committee’s report, I do not know. The question I. desire to raise tonight was raised in Estimates Committee A. It concerns what [ regard as the downgrading of Parliament as a Government department. Senator Douglas McClelland took up the question of the salary paid to the Clerk of the Senate. I do not know whether he referred only to the Clerk or whether he included the Clerk’s officers in his remarks. He was concerned that I had brought it up previously by suggesting that it was a downgrading of this institution for the clerks to receive less recognition than do heads of other departments.
During the sitting of Estimates Committee A on 7th October 1971 - this is recorded at page 27 of Hansard of that date - Senator Douglas McClelland clearly and properly expressed my concern about this matter. Unless we do something about it, it will become a hardy annual. On 2nd November 1970 during the debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970 I brought up this matter and the then Minister for Supply, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, representing the Prime Minister replied. At that time there seemed to be some doubt about the salary that should be paid to the Clerk of the Senate and the basis of fixing that salary. The Minister said in reply:
I cannot reflect on his point of view except to say that no doubt this matter is being considered. The views expressed by the honourable senator may well be taken into consideration at some future time by those responsible for these matters but it would not be proper for me to comment on this aspect at this time. All I can say now is that there has been recognition of tha Clerk in the sense that his salary has been increased from $15,600 to $16,815.
I gathered from what he said that the Minister accepted my remarks as some criticism of the salary paid to the Clerk. At no time did I want to comment on the salary or criticise it. I believe that the disparity between heads of departments and the Clerk and the lower rung is too great but I would not like any of my remarks to be interpreted as meaning that there should be a big increase in salary. We must treat like with like, and if the head of the Department of Air or the Department of Health, for example, gets a salary in recognition of being a head of a department, no matter what his salary is. the head of a department who gets a lower salary can only be regarded as being head of a lower graded department and having less onerous duties with less responsibilities. But we find that the only Commonwealth department which is downgraded is the Parliament, the Parliament of the people. In this monolithic structure of civil servants the prestige and status of every department, except the Parliament, are raised. We, as representatives of the people, are neglected and the Parliament is looked upon as being inferior to the other departments. On 2nd November 1970 I again raised this matter by way of reply to what the Minister had said and pointed out my concern. The Minister’s final reply was:
I have just been given some information, on this issue that might be helpful to Senator Cavanagh. I have just been informed that the President has authorised me to say that the question of allowances in the 2 Houses is currenty under examination by the Presiding Officers, that is, the President on the one hand and Mr Speaker on the other.
In speaking now of the Clerk of the Senate I do not think we can disregard the
Speaker of the House of Representatives. After the Minister replied the consideration of the estimates for the Parliament ended. My remarks were noted and I was told that the question of allowances was currently under consideration by the President and Mr Speaker. One would have thought that something would have been done about it. Following that, on 16th March this year, I put the following question on the notice paper:
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson replied:
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (4) Yes.
and (5) The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to these parts of the honourable Senator’s question -
The salaries of the Clerks were increased from $15,600 to $16,815 per annum wilh effect from 3rd September 1970.
In introducing the Salaries Bill 1968 the Government indicated that the system of annual expenses of office allowances would apply to Permanent Heads of Departments of State and associated officials of similar salary level - i.e., then set at $19,500 and above.
Following representations by staff associations, 4he Government earlier this year considered the general question of extending this system of annual allowances to cover various officials below the salary level of Permanent Heads of Departments of State, but did not feel able, at least at this stage, to authorise the preparation of legislation in this direction.
Subsequently the Presiding Officers were informed by my predecessor that the question of annual allowances for the Clerks should be deferred.’
Therefore, we have received no satisfaction. At the farewell to Mr Turner, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, recently we heard a public statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in which he assured Mr Turner that he would receive a Christmas present; in other words, that his salary would be increased. But, even so, the equality for which I argue is not being given. My agitation on this matter has been accepted as agitation to give someone an increase in wages. It has never been so; it has been agitation for recognition of the people’s Parliament as one of the important departments of (he Commonwealth and just as important a department as any other. While lesser salaries are paid to the officers of the Parliament there is a degrading of the Parliament which reflects not only on our officials but also on every member of the Parliament, who is receiving his just deserts, because the Parliament is not considered to be as important as, say, the Department of Health or the Department of Air.
At the hearing of Estimates Committee A the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Odgers, was put in an embarrassing position in that he had to make a statement in support of his own case for an increase in salary. He showed very effectively that for the first 20 years of federation the salaries of the Clerks were somewhat in excess of those of the heads of other departments; but since the end of the first 20-year period there has been a whittling away of the position of the people’s Parliament and a taking up by government officials of a position of authority superior to that of the Parliament, with a consequent lessening of recognition of officials of the Parliament. The Clerk of the Senate pointed out that what has happened in Great Britain is contrary to what has happened in Australia, where the Clerks had recognition but it has been whittled away. He referred to a statement made by the Clerk of the House of Commons in Great Britain at an assembly of Clerks of the Commonwealth Parliaments last year. Mr Odgers said to the Estimates Committee:
I would like to refer in particular to a fairly short statement that was made on this subject by the Clerk of the House of Commons only last year. We had a conference in this very chamber of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table of the Commonwealth Parliaments.
After giving that as the reference and authority for his quotation. Mr Odgers said:
The final paragraph reads:
As I have said, in our country-
That is Great Britain - only in very recent years this vicious practice of reducing Clerks below the level of other heads of executive departments has ended, I hope forever. Let me indicate how our Clerks stand compared with grades in the Civil Service. I think this would be equivalent in most countries.
So. this is not peculiar to the United
Kingdom: it applies in most countries. 1 do not know whether the Clerk of the House of Commons was informed that it did not apply in Australia. The quotation continues:
The Clerk of the House is equal to a Permanent Secretary >n a first class department such as, for instance, the Head of the Foreign Office. The Clerk in the Commons and the Clerk in the Lords are on the same level basis. Below the Clerk come the two Clerk Assistants. They are both equal to Deputy Secretaries in a first class department. Below them come the heads of the outside offices, the Principal Clerk, as we call them. They rank as Under-Secretaries in the government service. Below them come the Deputy Principal Clerks who rank as Assistant Secretaries, the Senior Clerks who rank as Principals, the Assistant Clerks who rank as Assistant Principals, and so on right down the list even to the attendants and the doorkeepers. All are linked with appropriately senior grades in the executive service. That is now we manage to keep men in our service for very many years.
The discussion in the Estimates Committee ended with Senator Murphy asking:
Would it be possible for this Committee to make a recommendation?
That would suggest that the Estimates Committee was in sympathy with the plea that was made that there should be recognition of the Parliament. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson replied:
It may be that in the Committee of the Whole someone may advert to this matter. That would have the effect of bringing it to the attention of the Presiding Officer
Adopting Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s suggestion, I am bringing the matter before the Committee of the Whole, and I know that it will be brought before the Presiding Officer. But I have done this on previous occasions and it has had no effect. It would appear that, in order to keep people quiet, increases in salary are granted periodically. But equality is never given. Even if there were equality in respect of takehome pay, the Clerk does not have the conditions that would make him indistinguishable from another head of a department. As I have said, this is not only a question of the position of the Clerk of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives; the whole principle of recognition of the Parliament is at stake-
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (10.29) - I wish to respond to the points raised by Senator Cavanagh. First of all, t do not put under challenge at all his references to the Hansard reports of the debate in this chamber last year and in Estimates Committee A during this sessional period. As I understand it, he gave a very accurate account of what took place on those occasions. Senator Cavanagh adverted to a sitting of Estimates Committee A on 7th October. It is true that at that sitting I agreed that the Clerk of the Senate should be allowed to express his views on the subject matter now before the Committee. Mr Odgers certainly did that and Senator Cavanagh has adverted to his evidence in part, if not in whole. I would like to read something else that Mr Odgers said in response to a statement I made. Mr Odgers said:
The payment of an allowance to the Clerk, as well as an increase in his salary, would be the subject of representations by the Presiding Officer to the Prime Minister. The fixation of the salary of the Clerk and of any allowance paid to hint ultimately would find its way into the Appropriation Bill and eventually be approved by the Parliament. 1 could enlarge on those comments if you wish me to do so, Mr Minister.
I make it clear again that responsibility for this issue rests with the Presiding Officers. They are responsible for making representations to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). As Senator Cavanagh said, the ultimate comment I made at that hearing on 7th October was that if this matter were raised in the Committee of the Whole it would have the effect of bringing it to the attention of the Presiding Officer. I am happy to be able to say that in fact the Presiding Officer did make representations to the Prime Minister in relation to the Clerk. The Prime Minister has responded to the President and the President has given me authority to state the contents of that response. I shall quote from the Prime Ministers letter in part. The Prime Minister said: 1 have carefully considered this question on behalf of the Higher Salaries Committee of Cabinet. I have approved that the salaries of the Clerks-
That would be Mr Odgers and the Clerk of the other place - should be that equivalent to level 6 of the Second Division. Currently the salary is $21,908 per annum and I have determined that that should have effect from 4th November 1971.
The Prime Minister went on to say that this would qualify the Clerk for additional increments - under, I presume, the Superannuation Act 1920-71. Senator Cavanagh can take some comfort from the fact that as a consequence-
– Quite the reverse, I would have thought.
Well, after all, the salary before was $16,815.
– You are considering this in terms of wage increases, not according to the principle of equality.
While the Clerk may have some judgment about the amount the fact is that it is a significant increase, and one about which we should not despair. I am aware of the principle that is involved. I was present when Mr Odgers stated his case by leave at the Estimates committee hearing. But the basic proposition is absolutely right; it was the responsibility of the Presiding Officer and he took up the views expressed and made representations to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, after reference to the Higher Salaries Committee, has approved that as from 4th November 1971 the Clerk’s salary should increase to $21,908 which is level 6 of the Second Division. The subsequent views just expressed in this debate by Senator Cavanagh will be transcribed and will be referred to the Presiding Officer. That is the procedure I invite the honourable senator and the Committee of the Whole to follow and that is what the honourable senator is doing. If the result is not as successful as he would wish, at least it is a significant start.
– I wish to continue this debate because I gained no satisfaction from what the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) just told me. What has happened is the complete opposite of what I was seeking to achieve. 1 recognise that the position is that this can be done only on the recommendation of the Presiding Officer and I make a public appeal to him to reconsider whether he should make another request to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) or the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) for due recognition for these officers. The Clerk of the Senate is now to get a big increase in salary. At no time have 1 said that the salary of the Clerk was insufficient. lt could well be, as I have said, that there is too great a difference between the salaries of heads of some departments and those of officers of lower rank, lt has been stated publicly that if political heads followed these departments it may be a restraining influence on wage fixing authorities giving justice to heads of departments. This may result in more uniform action. But whatever the salary of a head of a department the same salary should apply to all departments.
I invite honourable senators to look at a document entitled ‘Salaries and Annual Allowances for Permanent Heads, Chiefs of Staff and Statutory Office Holders’ printed in the Senate Hansard of 30th November, commencing at page 2371. We find that the salary for the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department is $22,750 plus an annual allowance of $1,500. I suppose there is not such a great difference when we consider the higher taxation involved, although the annual allowance of $1,500 is not taxable. But it is not so much the disparity in the wage that I question.
Then we see the following positions and figures set out:
Beneath that list a line is drawn and there follows another category of office holders which reads:
Those office holders in this second category receive a salary of$19,500 with an annual allowance of $1,000. Since this information was published there has been another alteration which will result in the salaries of the Clerks being in excess of the salaries of the second category of heads of departments. But that document stated that the annual salary of the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives was $16,815 and that there was no annual allowance paid to them. The distinction seems to be that the annual allowance is not to be given to the Clerk of the Senate. I have a list which shows that the Permanent Heads of departments are divided into 3 categories in respect of salaries and allowances. The first category is made up of8 senior officers such as the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department and the Secretary to the Department of the Treasury. The next category lists 19 positions of lesser importance. Each of the 27 officers receives an annual allowance. The third category includes the 2 top officials of the Houses of Parliament and does not set out an annual allowance for them. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Houses of Parliament are considered to be inferior bodies. This is the way in which we treat the top officials of this Parliament. Such an attitude is common in regard to all people connected with the Parliament, even the politicians themselves. The politician, whose image is low in the mind of the public today, contributes to this situation by his recognition of appropriations which make the positions of the Clerks of the 2 Houses inferior, for example, to the top employee of the Department of Civil Aviation. Members of Parliament arc so conscious of this. We apologise every time we seek an increase of salary which is far less than those received by other sections of the community. I do not want to discuss this matter any further. 1 do not altogether blame the Minister or the Government for what has developed because I think that we have contributed to a great extent io it ourselves.
We are continually giving away the power of the Parliament in some of the Bills that are presented in this place. We ak giving away our authority as a Parliament and handing it over to the civil servants, and they are get:ing a financial recognition of being the more powerful organisation. If we look in the Health Act we see the words: ‘If in the opinion of the Secretary of the Department’ or ‘If in the opinion of the Director-General of Health’. Look at the homes savings grant legislation. The relevant Act has the words: ‘If in the opinion of the Secretary of the Department’. This situation did not exist at one time. However, we find evidence of such power in much of the legislation of this Parliament. This trend has been stopped by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. On every occasion, the Committee directs attention to an offending regulation and will not tolerate it. The supremacy of Parliament is noted when regulations and Ordinances are under scrutiny in this chamber. However, we are foregoing our authority in respect of Bills. We are becoming a lesser authority and this is evident in the payments that we receive. We are a lesser authority today than are the heads of Government departments.
I only hope that I can contribute something to restore the power of Parliament during my period here. If we are to preserve our democracy the highest department in this country must be the Parliament of the people. The Executive should be an essential part of government but it should no: have a higher status than the Parliament of the people. We have to readjust our thinking and our actions on this question until by the exercise of our power and authority we reach a stage of respectability, and until we get justice. The salaries paid to the Clerks of the Parliament are reflected right through the parliamentary system. As long as this situation continues, we shall be heading fast to the position where a civil service bureaucracy rather than the elected Parliament of the people controls this country.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (10.44) - I would not challenge the sincerity of Senator Cavanagh in the points that he has put forward. The fact remains, however, that his reference fo the phrase if in the opinion of the Secretary of the Department’ is rather a dangerous argument because the Parliament is not intended to have an administrative function. The Parliament could not function as a pure administrative organism. We have had a long session since 17th August and we are not at the end of it yet. However, there would not be enough hours in the day and enough days in the week for a government to become an administrative organism in that sense. The whole system of government is based on the legislative function of a parliament. I have had experience - and this is not peculiar to me because all senators will realise this - of the fact that a line has lo be drawn at a point where even a Minister does not take executive decisions on administrative functions. Senator Milliner is wagging his head but if he thinks about it he will realise that in every department without exception there has to be an area where a Minister, who is answerable to the Parliament, has to delegate authority.
As an example, take the Department of Health which has an expenditure of some $475m; and it is only one of 27 departments. Is anyone seriously suggesting that the Parliament is going to involve itself in all the administrative functions of those departments? The relevant Minister has to accept responsibility for his department and he is answerable for it to this Parliament. I am answerable now to the Parliament in regard to the procedures of the Department of Health. I think that these procedures work very well indeed. This is the point I want to make about the expression ‘if, in the opinion of the Secretary’ which was used by Senator Cavanagh.
Only a few weeks ago, consequent upon the views expressed in this Senate, I tabled a document which listed the salaries, fees and allowances of all statutory office holders. I stated that the Senate would want to know the salaries of statutory authorities. I think that all sides agreed that the production of that information was a move in the right direction. As Senator Cavanagh said, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is the guard established by the Senate against offending regulations. The Parliament has the power to disallow regulations and this authority is part of our Parliamentary institution. Whilst I do not challenge the sincerity of Senator Cavanagh in regard to the points that he put forward - and I agree with him that it is good to make them - I think that his arguments tonight were not perhaps as convincing a-; others he has put forward. I do not say that in any discourteous way because here we have a senator who is reaffirming someth:ng which I invited him and other senators to do. He is expressing his view in relation to the Presiding Officers.
Senator Cavanagh referred to First Division officers. Mr J. R. Odgers, the Clerk of the Senate, is a First Division officer but he is to be paid a salary of $21,908 which is at Level 6 of the Second Division. I make the point that the salary of SI 9.500 plus a $1,000 allowance is received by other First Division officers such as the Secretary to the Department of Air, the Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise, the Secretary to the Department of Health and so on and it is still about $2,000 less than the salary that Mr Odgers will now receive. In fairness I must say that Mr Odgers does not receive an allowance. The President of the Senate and the Presiding Officer in the other place made a recommendation that the Clerks of Parliament should be given an allowance supplementary to their salary. They received the reply that at this stage the Government is not prepared to recommend an allowance supplementary to the $21,908. However, Senator Cavanagh has made his point and it will go into the record. The honourable senator’s suggestion will also be noted by the Presiding Officer who has the responsibility in this respect as distinct from the Public Service Board which is responsible for other areas.
– 1 do not want to prolong the debate, so I shall be very brief. I want to re-emphasise the area where the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said that I was not so convincing as perhaps I was in another area. What I am trying to say is that I agree with the Minister that Parliament cannot make every decision. It cannot be the administrative body and examine every applicant. That has never been suggested. It is never done under regulations. I submit that at the present time the opinion of the secretary of a department or the Minister is not needed in relation to regulations which go through this Parliament without challenge. In everything Parliament has the responsibility to set down criteria. We are not doing that. We are allowing executive decisions to be made by heads of departments. I have taken up a case with the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns). If there were an appeal to a court against the action of his Department in relation to a certain individual I am sure that person would succeed despite the fact that the Department has had the opinion of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). I can give honourable senators cases in relation to repatriation matters in which if there were an appeal to the judiciary, under the wording of the Act the applicant could succeed. But the matters are put in the hands of officials and there are no criteria to go by. If we had a rule that everyone who has fair hair gets a benefit and everyone who has dark hair does not, we would have a criterion. Another criterion could be that everyone who is poverty stricken to an extent gets it. Then there would be nothing to argue about. If an official makes a mistake, the fact remains that Parliament has established the principle as to who gets what, and the Act is clear. There can be an appeal to the judiciary which can decide the matter. Today if someone has been treated unjustly by the head of a department he has to go to a court. In law he has the right to establish that the secretary of the department was not of a certain opinion. Today, under the statute he has to prove that the secretary of the department was not of that opinion. He does not have to show that because he has these qualifications he is entitled to the position. Although he thought he had the qualifications, if in the opinion of the secretary of the department he does not, his appeal would fail. We should set out the criteria. It is true that the department administers the Act, but it does so under the authority which we give it. We should not delegate our authority to heads of departments so that they can, as they have done, manipulate things. Today they have greater authority than the Parliament. The public assessment of Parliament is reflected in the situation where there is idolisation df departmental heads and ridicule and scorn of politicians. We bring about this situation ourselves when we pass appropriations which permit it.
– I would very much like to support Senator Cavanagh but I may be tempted to refer to an extraordinary document which has been circulated - it might widen this debate - called ‘Inquiry into the Salaries and Allowances of Members of the Commonwealth Parliament*. But at this late stage 1 resist the temptation. 1 merely take up a point which I have raised on the Estimates each year. It relates to expenditure under Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Division 459, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and it shows an allocation of $4,370,000. I have pointed out similar conditions on previous occasions, and I point out again, that for the previous year, when an allocation of $3,597,000 was made, exactly that amount was expended. This appropriation is presented to the Parliament without any accountability whatsoever. 1 feel, as a member of Estimates Committee A, that we were not as astute as were members of Estimates Committee B which made a comment in its report to the Senate and which the Senate subsequently supported. In its report the Committee referred to a statutory corporation. I would say that the Security Organisation has been virtually placed in the position of a corporation - aside from this Parliament. The Committee clearly stated:
The Committee is of the opinion that whilst it may be argued that these bodies are not accountable through the responsible Minister of State to Parliament for day to day operations, Statutory Corporations may be called to account by Parliament itself at any time and that there are no areas of expenditure of public funds where these corporations have a discretion to withhold details or explanations from Parliament or its Committees unless the Parliament has expressly provided otherwise.
Even allowing for that last section I would say that there is no justification whatever in peacetime for the Government to maintain a position in which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation can receive an increased allocation this year which takes its appropriation to $4,370,000 without the Government making some statement to this Parliament as to how the money is to be spent. In war time there may be a case for secrecy. There is certainly no case in peace time and in our present position for the withholding of information of this sort. I take this opportunity to protest again strongly at the attitude of the Government in refusing to account for the expenditure of this department. What is more, I further disapprove of the action of the Government in continuing to refuse to answer questions concerning the Australian Intelligence Security Organisation which do not infringe - if one looks at the questions from a security point of view - upon the peace and welfare of this nation. I make this protest again. I asked questions during the Estimates Committee hearing but they were by-passed and parried. Again F ask: Why no accountability; why no information in this very important area of expenditure?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (10.57) - Senator Georges was a member of Estimates Committee A. If he turns to the documents accompanying the report of Estimates Committee A he will find a letter which I sent to the Committee through its Chairman. It is reproduced and every honourable senator would have a copy of it.
– Yes, I have read the letter.
– In view of that fact I seek leave to have the relevant portion of the letter incorporated in the Hansard. It is in part, if not in whole, the response to the points raised by the honourable senator.
– rs leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - 4th November 1971
Dear Senator Withers,
During the Estimates Committee A sittings on Tuesday, 26th October, dealing with the Division 459, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Senator D. McClelland asked, ‘Are these funds subject to audit by the Auditor-General?’
A comment was made by Senator Georges which was not relevant to the point to what I desired to refer to and then the Chairman said, ‘I understand that the gentleman at the table is a Treasury official who may be able to help Senator Marriott’.
Senator Marriott then said, ‘My advice is that the Auditor-General’s Department does not audit the ASIO accounts. My advice, which I repeat, is that it is accountable to Treasury’.
I have now been informed by the Department of the Treasury that the answer given by Senator Marriott on the advice of the Treasury official present at that time was not completely accurate and I therefore desire to give the corrected information to your Committee as supplied to me by the First Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Mr D. J. Hill.
The corrected answer as supplied to me is as follows:
The accounts of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation are audited by the AuditorGeneral under arrangements agreed in 1949 between the then Prime Miniter and Treasurer and the then Auditor-General. These arrangements provide for a normal audit of transactions and include as part of that audit the provsion of a certificate by the Director-General of
Security in respect of a minor portion of the expenditure and by the responsible Minister certifying that that portion of the expenditure was properly made in the interests of the Public Service, t The Auditor-General accepts these certificates in completion of his audits. This arrangement is patterned on the British practice, dating back to the late 19th Century.’
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn view of the reply which came to the Committee I gave a promise that an investigation would be made. As the reply is incorporated 1 do not think it is necessary to proceed with the argument. I would like to complete the consideration of the Estimates before the Senate rises.
– If I recall, during the Estimates Committee hearing we were told that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation did not account to anybody. Subsequently the letter indicated that it accounted to the Auditor-General in a rather limited sense. Although we have received that information I do not accept it. I still make my protest.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 December 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711208_senate_27_s50/>.