27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Following the announcement yesterday by the Minister for Health about the rises in common fees charged by doctors, will the Minister explain how the Government intends to persuade the large number of doctors now charging more than the new common fees to conform to the new rates?
– The common fee principle was conceived, and has operated, on the basis of a common fee determined in collaboration with the federal body of the Australian Medical Association. Members of the medical profession generally throughout Australia have adhered to the principle - not only genera] practitioners but also specialists. Senator Murphy and everybody else knows that as a result of claims made to the various funds, 1 or my predecessors have set out the percentage of adherence to the common fee throughout Australia. This is not a price fixing operation because, apart from the merit or demerit of such an operation, the Commonwealth has no constitutional power to fix fees in that sense.
– I said ‘persuade’.
– Senator Murphy reminds me that he used the word ‘persuade’. With the exception of general practitioners in New South Wales, the common fee concept has been adhered to in the States. In one State - from memory it was Western Australia - adherence ran to the order of 90 per cent. In the other States, with the exception of the general practitioner area in New South Wales, percentage of adherence to the common fee has been in the high 70’s, in the 80’s and, as I have said, in one case in the area of 90 per cent. I give that background because if the question as posed were answered strictly in isolation - and I am not suggesting any impropriety on the part of Senator Murphy - it could give a wrong impression. There was difficulty in the area of the general practitioners in New South Wales and adherence to the common fee principle by those doctors got down to about 50 per cent. So, it was decided to put the matter to a judicial inquiry. The judicial inquiry has made certain recommendations in the document which I tabled yesterday. The Government has decided to adjust doctors’ common fees in New South Wales on the basis of that judicial inquiry. It is not arbitrary on the doctors in New South Wales or in any other State. But, with the co-operation of the medical profession, we believe there will be a continuation of significant adherence to the common fee concept, bearing in mind the ingredient contained in that concept which this Government stands steadfastly behind. It means that when any of the 10 million people covered by the medical funds receive medical services from a doctor, provided that doctor adheres to the common fee concept the cost to those people will be not more than 80c for an ordinary visit, $1.20 for a visit to the home and $5 for a surgical procedure. I hope that as a result of this there will be an even greater adherence to the common fee concept when the next cycle commences on 1st July. I believe that there will be. I am sure that the medical profession and the people of Australia believe that this is a fine concept and one that is in the best interests of the profession. More particularly from the Government’s point of view, it is in the best interests of the people.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General seen the reported statement by Mr Kelly, Secretary of the South Australian Stockowners Association, drawing attention to difficulties faced by people in outback areas in connection with the installation of single side band receivers as required by the Postmaster-General’s Department? Can he say whether the figure cited of $600 to $700 a set is correct? Because of the dependence of outback people on such institutions as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and because of financial problems involved, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to some form of concession or assistance with the installation of single side band receivers?
– 1 must inform the honourable senator that I have not seen the report to which he refers and I am not able to give him information of the detailed character which he sought. On that aspect I undertake to refer his question to the Postmaster-General for reply. I am able to say that in the broad area to which his question relates work is in “he course of being carried out by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department with a view to overcoming some of the difficulties to which the honourable senator has referred. I will refer his specific question to the Postmaster-General for an early answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Will the Minister inquire why the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act are not applied to publications emanating from the Immigration Control Association whose authors shelter behind the meagre detail of ‘Box 322, Crows Nest Post Office, New South Wales’?
– If the honourable senator is referring to an electoral advertisement or an electoral notice and he has particular details that lead him to believe that an offence is being committed, the Department of the Interior will be very grateful to have his information so that it may look at it to see what action can be taken on this matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether it is a fact that the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, on 8th May, called on the Soviet Union to join Britain in re-convening the Geneva conference which, in 1954, ended the Indo-China war and of which Britain and the Soviet Union were co-chairmen? Is it further a fact that Britain, on 12th May, made a direct approach to the People’s Republic of China in Peking to help in reconvening that conference? If these are facts, has there been any response by the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China to this earnest attempt by Britain to bring about a just peace in Vietnam?
– My information is that on 10th May Sir Alec Douglas-Home called the Soviet ambassador in London to reiterate to him a proposal that the Geneva
Conference be reconvened. That proposal had been put to the Soviet Ambassador in London by the British Foreign UnderSecretary on 7th April. It had been repeated to Mr Gromyko on 20th April by the British Ambassador in Moscow. That was in repetition of not less than 7 such approaches which had been made by the British Government over the period from 1965 <o date, several of those approaches having been made by the British Labor Government of the day through both Mr Wilson and his Foreign Secretary, Mr Stewart. Each proposal has met with a blunt rebuff and rejection. At the moment I have no information upon which I could make a statement about the reference to the People’s Republic of China. I shall refer it to the Minister and get information for the honourable senator.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral have inquires made into a claim on television last night by the editor of the Nazi Party publication ‘Storm Trooper’, Mr Michael McCormick, that police had given members of the Nazi Party assistance in counter demonstrations during moratorium marches? Did Mr Michael McCormick state that his group would be at tomorrow’s Melbourne moratorium march and that it planned to infiltrate the march and cause dissension in the ranks? Will the Attorney-General examine Mr McCormick’s statement that he had found the police very co-operative? Will the Attorney-General make a statement about these claims which suggest that violence is receiving the co-operation of the police?
– I did not see the interview which has been reported in this morning’s Press, but I have read the Press accounts of what was said. I treat with a great deal of suspicion the allegations which have been made. Nevertheless, the matter is one for some inquiry, but the depth of that inquiry will depend upon what I find was actually said. However, I do make this point: It is clear that people who engage in demonstrations in the streets do so in defiance of the law and use the cloak of crowds in order to provoke violent situations which cause damage to property and are a potential risk to the life and liberty of other people. The fact that communists and others who feel the same way as com- munists do are prepared to break the law is obviously an inducement to other people of opposite persuasion, such as the Nazi groups, to do the same thing. All I say to members of the Labor Party opposite is that if they are prepared to support certain people who engage in demonstrations it is a curious selectivity in which they engage when they deny that right to others. My view, and the Government’s view, is that all lawlessness in the streets, by whatever group, is to be deplored and as far as possible we should do all in our power to discourage il.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Since the introduction of supersonic aircraft, which led to general concern about the resultant effects, particularly that of noise, on the environment, what co-operative studies are being conducted on an international level? ls there any international agreement on aircraft noise to establish certain standards? If so, is Australia a party to such agreements and discussions in relation to aircraft noise?
– lt has been referred to in the Senate previously that Australia has taken a leading part in world attempts to bring these matters under regulation, supervision and control. Four years ago at the International Civil Aviation Organisation meeting in South America, Australia was the initiator of a move seeking to have the matter put under tight examination. That is happening. An Australian was made chairman of the first meeting, which was held in Montreal in 1969. The noise limits developed by ICAO apply to Boeing 747 aircraft and to all subsonic aircraft coming into service after March 1972. A committee on aircraft noise was also set up as a permanent body. That committee is still working and examining the matter. Australia is a member of it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation and relates to his current statements regarding dismissals from Qantas Airways Ltd and the recent deputation from trade unions representing workers employed by Qantas. I ask: Since the joint deputation to him of those unions has it been possible to obtain information from Qantas or other sources which would indicate that the position of the Qantas workforce will be more stable in the future?
– lt is indeed true that I had a long discussion with the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, led by Mr Barry Unsworth. The discussions took a long time - about li hours. I thought it was a very responsible gathering and that the points of view were expressed very well. 1 communicated to Qantas the full views expressed to me by that delegation. I have not yet had any comments as to the particular queries 1 raised with Qantas. Senator Bishop will know quite well that Qantas is in a difficult position in a world of increased capacity and increasing costs. Qantas has done what it can, as a company owned by the Australian people, to keep its business as economically viable as possible. 1 cannot go beyond that except to say that when I have further information I will try to convey it to the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior seen a newspaper report which suggests that only 5 of the 52 Aborigines who were supposed to have supported a petition opposing a wood chip industry on Melville and Bathurst Islands had in fact done so? Can the Minister say whether the report is correct? Can he also say whether such an industry would provide job opportunities for the Aboriginal people in that area? Is he able to say who was responsible for initiating this petition, which apparently does not represent the views of the people concerned?
– I heard a comment about this matter on a news session this morning and 1 asked the 2 departments concerned - the Department of the Interior and the Department of National Development - to supply me with some information on it because I thought the matter might be raised in this chamber. I have received some information from the Department of the Interior which might help the honourable senator. The petition was sent to an elected member of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory by an Aborigine from Snake Bay, a Mr Eric Brook. The petition bore the names of 52 people, but it was signed by only Mr Brook. The President of the Snake Bay Council - one of the Aborigines for the Territory who visited Eden last month to see the wood chip industry there - and the Superintendent of the settlement interviewed the people whose names appeared on the petition to talk about their objection to the wood chip industry on the islands. Only 5 of the people named said that they had given permission for their names to appear on the petition. A wood chip industry would bring significant employment opportunities, particulary in the logging and transport of timber, to the local people. That is quite apart from the opportunities which would be available to them for active participation in the industry.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise the Senate of the stage that negotiations have reached between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party on the proposed wool acquisition scheme? Is he aware that Press reports are appearing daily on this sensitive issue? Does he agree that the Press reports of conflict between the coalition parties on this important matter would be most disturbing to the wool growers of Australia? Can the Leader of the Government see any prospect of the amalgamation of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission before 1st July 1972, in other words, before the 1972-73 wool selling season begins?
Insofar as the honourable senator’s question relates to the affairs of the coalition parties in government, I know that my name is Anderson but it is not Hans Christian Andersen. I think the honourable senator has been reading fairy tales.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that some widows are paying death taxes on expected income tax refunds which have been classified as assets of the estates of their deceased husbands? Is he aware that these income tax refunds often are delayed because they are refunds on a deceased person’s estate and that such delays cause hardship to widows? Will the Minister endeavour to speed up the payment of these tax refunds?
I am sure that we ali appreciate the persistent approach of the honourable senator in relation to the issue of probate. I am not aware of the details that he gives in his question. I will see that his question is referred to the Treasurer as the matter of tax refunds is absolutely integral to it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the dispute in the Sydney newspaper industry which, if not settled, is to spread to Canberra tonight and perhaps to other parts of the Commonwealth, and is certainly an impending dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State and therefore within the contemplation of the Federal jurisdiction. I ask the Minister: What are the Federal conciliation authorities doing to reinforce the attempts by Mr Justice Cahill of the New South Wales Industrial Commission to settle the dispute, which attempts by him have been specifically rejected by the newspaper proprietors?
– I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for having brought under notice the impending extension of this dispute to the Australian Capital Territory. He will know that I have adopted a resolute attitude of refusing to bring matters that are the subject of conciliation procedures under debate in the Senate. I am grateful to him for his reference, but I am not informed as to the steps being taken by industrial conciliators. If I get the information during the day, I will let the honourable senator have it by letter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the unemployed in Australia. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that more than 90,000 people, viewed as being employable and registered as unemployed, are receiving unemployment benefits from the Australian community? Is it a fact also that the potential work which these people could do, to Australia’s benefit, is being entirely lost because no community use is being made of their nonworking week? Will the Minister consider proposing some method for the use of the unemployed for a part of the week, such as reporting for work to local municipalities prior to the payment by the Commonwealth of unemployment benefits? Does the Minister consider that this action may be in the interests of the person concerned, the municipalities and, indeed, the whole of the Australian community?
The honourable senator’s question relates to unemployment figures, lt is worthy of note that, a few days ago, the Minister for Labour and National Service released statistics which indicated that the number of registered unemployed in the recent period was lower than the number in the previous period. Indeed, the situation, not only in relation to the number of persons registered but also in relation to job vacancies, has improved. The honourable senator quotes a figure of 90,000 in this respect. I presume that that is a rounded figure. What we must always understand is that beoaw.se or Australia’s geographic and economic structure and the varying demands of primary and secondary industries there will always be a movement in terms of unemployment as between job vacancies and job opportunities. Therefore it would be quite wrong even to assume 90,000 as a permanent figure in relation to unemployment. The Government does not believe that this can be assumed. As a member of a Party which has a very real interest in primary industry Senator Webster will recognise that the Government believes that the seasonal movement of employment is a significant factor.
Also in secondary industry, having regard to the seasons of the year, there is the possibility of an alteration in the figure. What the honourable senator suggests, therefore, is that if this figure is about 90,000 there should be a system whereby the unemployed would be gainfully employed. Reference has been made to local government and productivity in this situation. I do not believe that the figure of 90,000 would justify such a proposal. It is true that the Commonwealth has already made money available to the States and to local government so that in certain rural areas additional work can be made available. Of course they are doing constructive and purposeful work. I believe that that could and should continue to be done. I realise that at question time a case cannot be completely made out. But I do not believe that there is a case for what the honourable senator is suggesting as an answer to the problem. Even allowing that the figure of 90,000 persons unemployed is intermittent, 1 believe that in the forseeable future it will be significantly reduced.
My question which follows an earlier question asked by Senator Murphy is directed to the Minister for Health. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a statement by Dr Peter Arnold of the General Practitioners Society that the new medical, fees recommended by His Honour Mr Justice Mason will make little difference to doctors and that the Society has no intention of recommending to its members that they change their fees in any way? Will the Minister agree that as far as New South Wales is concerned a great number of doctors for some time have been charging much more than the new fee determined by His Honour Mr Justice Mason and that, therefore, the patients under those doctors still will have the burden of bridging the gap between the fee charged and the refund payable? Will the Minister agree that if the concept of the most common fee is not adhered to more rigidly in the future than it has been in the past the whole future of the Government’s voluntary health insurance scheme will be in great jeopardy?
– Senator Douglas McClelland raises a matter which involves a group in New South Wales for which Dr Arnold is a spokesman in the general practitioners’ field. The honourable senator links his comment to a statement attributed to the doctor in this morning’s Press that, in any event, the doctors of his group will not necessarily conform to the new figure of $4 fixed in relation to the common fee. Dr Arnold represents a small group in the medical profession. He is not the spokesman for the Federal body of the Australian Medical Association. There are a series of branches of the AMA in New South Wales. As far as Dr Arnold and his group are concerned, he is saying that, in effect, there is no change in their attitude and that they will disregard the concept of the common fee. But I feel bound to point out to the honourable senator and to the Senate that the information available to me and my Department at the moment is that in New South Wales where there was a departure from the concept of the common fee in certain areas - this is the key to the situation - the patient was being called upon to pay more than 80c as the doctors were charging a fee which was about $3.90 or $4. If all things remain as they are in relation to the charges made by the members of the medical profession in this particular group in New South Wales, who were charging $3.90 and $4, the proportion of doctors adhering to it in the general practitioner field in New South Wales will jump - I am relying on memory here - from 52 per cent to a percentage in the high 70s. This would be a significant improvement in adherence to the common fee concept. It must be remembered that in that event the people who have been paying over 80c will have to pay only 80c. So, all patients of doctors in that group who charged between $3.80 and $4, instead of paying more than 80c will now pay less and will be within the concept of a patient paying 80c for a visit to a general practitioner. This is the overall concept of the plan which the Government believes will be improved dramatically as a result of the action that was taken yesterday.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an extraordinary statement in this morning’s Press by a Yugoslav diplomat, Counsellor A. Stambolija of the Yugoslav Embassy, that ‘in the past the Australian Government had shown an incomprehensible tolerance towards some Croats in Australia, and that 10 or 20 people should have their passports cancelled?’ Will the Minister advise this representative of a communist dictatorship that this is a free country and that the question of Australian passports will be determined by its democratically elected government without communist assistance?
– 1 have no doubt that the statement refers to the cancellation of the Australian passport held by a gentleman by the name of Rover. That passport was cancelled on the authority of the Minister for Immigration under the powers vested in him. The situation was that, on receipt of information concerning Mr Rover’s current role in Croatian nationalist activities, the Minister considered that to facilitate his travel on an Australian passport could have an adverse effect. The Australian Government recognises the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and it does not support the independence of the State of Croatia. The Government deplores the repeated activity that takes violent form and is followed by a minority in pursuance of the issue that has been raised. I cannot subscribe to the language in the question addressed to me, but I shall refer the question to the Minister for personal consideration.
– 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is aware of the strong attacks being made on the Federal Government by the former Liberal Leader in South Australia, Mr Steele Hall, because of the contents of the recent Government White Paper on overseas investment? Does the Leader of the Government agree with Mr Hall’s statement, which is now being widely published in the Press, that the White Paper provides no answer to the problems of overseas ownership of Australian assets?
I have not seen the statement, but one of the beautiful things about the Government parties, unlike some other parties, is that members have complete freedom to express their own views. A member who expresses his own views does not run the risk of being put out for life, as do the members of some other parties that 1 can think of. The fact of the matter is that I have not seen the statement. If Mr Steele Hall has expressed his views, that is consistent with Liberal philosophy that we all are able to express our views. From the accumulation of views expressed we are able then to draw the best message from any given situation. The Government has expressed a view. Believe it or not, that view would have been drafted and tested in the light of the best advice available to the Government both from its own members and advisers, and from industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Bearing in mind the urgent concern which was expressed by all members of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, can the Minister indicate whether the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has taken any of the recommended steps, that is, the steps recommended by that Committee in its report made nearly 2 years ago?
– I think the honourable senator is aware of some very significant steps which have been taken by the Government in the whole field of the environment. I refer specifically to the fact that the Commonwealth, in consultation with the States, has established the Australian Environment Council’ which will enable cooperative effort by State and Commonwealth governments in their areas of responsibility. I think the honourable senator is aware also of the fact that a report has been commissioned - I am not able to say whether that report has been made public - on the extent of Australian water resources. This action followed the report of the Senate Select Committee. 1 know that there has been a great deal of activity in this field, and I think the best course I can follow is to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister whom I represent so that he can provide a detailed answer to supplement the general answer which I have given.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that members of the Queensland Police Union are now conducting a ballot to decide whether they will proceed with a vote of no confidence in the Queensland Country Party-Liberal coalition Government and also in the Police Commissioner in relation to their attitudes towards demonstrations? Does not the vote indicate criticism of the Queensland Government in this matter?
– We know that the Queensland State election will be held on Saturday week, and it is patently obvious that the question asked by the honourable senator, which bears absolutely no relationship to any matter of Commonwealth responsibility, is but one way in which some cheap publicity might be secured for a party which cannot get any other publicity that is likely to assist it. Whether or not I know what the Queensland Police Union is doing; whether or not I believe what it is doing reflects confidence or otherwise in a government, obviously are only questions which could be designed to ensure that this Senate becomes a forum for the State election in Queensland. I suggest to the honourable senator that his Party might do a lot better if it settled down to have a look at some distinctive policies and put those to the people instead of once again using the whole area of the police force as an area in which there can be denigration when, above all else, the police force wants support.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for trade and Industry know that Renold Australia Pty Ltd of Benalla, Victoria has reduced its staff by 80 over the last 12 months because of inroads of cheap imports of chains similar to those which it manufactures? Is he aware that unless urgent action is taken this industry may have to shut down within a few months, so causing unemployment and the loss of an industry which has been established since 1949? Will he endeavour to apply quantitative import restrictions on transmission chain up to 1 inch and so save this Australian industry? Will he treat this matter as urgent?
– In a debate on the motion to adjourn the Senate last week this matter was dealt with at length. It was an interesting debate in which honourable senators on both sides of the chamber took part. As I remember the problem of Renold Australia Pty Ltd it concerns specifically one part of its chain manufacturing programme. The Department of Trade and Industry has had the matter under review for some time. 1 saw to it that the report of the whole of the Senate debate on this matter was sent to the Department for its consideration.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In a recent statement, the Minister for National Development said that mineral imports into Australia in 1971 had dropped by about $S0m as a direct result of self-sufficiency in petroleum products. Because of that drop, when can the hard hit and patient Australian motorist expect some of the savings to be passed on to him in the form of reduced petrol prices?
– I think that a comparison of petrol and diesel fuel prices around the world with those charged in Australia will show that the Australian motorist is fairly favourably treated. In some countries petrol prices are lower, but if I remember correctly, in the greater area of the world petrol prices are substantially higher. In some countries petrol prices are even twice as high as they are in Australia. I will obtain for the honourable senator a detailed analysis of comparable petrol price structures.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral’s notice been drawn to a Press statement indicating that marshals have been appointed by the Vietnam Moratorium Committee to prevent a repetition of the violence that occurred last Friday during street demonstrations? In view of this anticipation of further hooliganism designed to encourage attacks on property and clashes with the police, will the Attorney-General ask the Commonwealth Government to request the State Premiers to allocate open public areas to enable mass meetings to be held in a peaceful atmosphere, thereby minimising the threat of violence and providing a more sensible and effective way to register points of view?
– I have been interested to read a number of Press editorials since the events of last Friday night in which so many demonstrations got out of hand. Those editorials have reflected what has long been lacking in the Press of this country: That is an apprehension of the very real dangers which can occur by suggesting that demonstrations in the streets involving lawlessness can be accepted in a democratic society. They cannot, and that is what these editorials have now been saying. The fact that marshals, so called, are to be appointed by demonstration organisers is to me a very dangerous tendency because, if the organisers want to hold a demonstration in which there are no marshals, we can expect that there will be violence. If they want to appoint marshals, of course there may not be violence. However, it is taking out of the hands of the lawfully constituted authorities of this land the responsibility for law and order. This should not be yielded to those people who by their cooduct have suggested that law and order or lawful authority in this country are the last things they would respect.
The honourable senator suggested that the State Premiers ought to be asked to provide open spaces in which demonstrations may be held. I think there are ample spaces in every capital city where people, if they are prepared to demonstrate peacefully, can hold their peaceful demonstrations. But obviously some people are not prepared to go into the parks or to hire spacious sports arenas in which to hold their demonstrations because their real point is to engage in lawlessness in order to attract publicity. As I have said constantly, it is about time that the Australian Labor Party came out and categorically repudiated that sort of conduct.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd, which is situated in the Port Stephens Shire of New South Wales and which is one of the largest decentralised industries in New South Wales, employed 1,500 persons 5 years ago but now employs only a little over 800, the number of workers having been reduced by about 300 in the past 9 months due to reduced production following increased imports of competing products of manmade fibres from Asian countries? Is this instance of reduced employment at Courtaulds symptomatic of the general overall problems of the Australian textile industry, which operates to a large extent in decentralised areas? Is the Minister aware that great concern is felt about the future of the Australian textile industry by both management and textile unions? Will the Government declare whether the industry is to be allowed to develop or is to be stultified by uncontrolled floods of imports from low wage countries?
Senttor COTTON- I know the Courtaulds factory at Tomago. It has been going for quite a long time. My recollection is that it was established towards the end of World War II as an Australian enterprise to produce fabric for the motor tyre industry, plus other things. Those who have followed its career as a decentralised industry would agree, I think, that it has had a long period of ups and downs. 1 know it has been a problem for the people who were in charge of it. The general part of the question relating to the whole Australian textile industry is under review by the Government. It is a long question and I think it ought to be looked at by the Department and a fully prepared answer should be given.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister for Health a question about health services for Aborigines and he said that he would respond to the question today. I now restate my question: Are any specific provisions made by the Government to ensure that Aborigines are not deprived of medical services through inability to pay contributions to the health funds, and are the benefits available under the subsidised health benefits plan made widely known to Aboriginals?
– I acknowledge that yesterday I was asked that question by the honourable senator and I said that I would get some further information. The Commonwealth Government introduced the subsidised health benefits plan to ensure that persons, including Aborigines, in difficult financial circumstances do not suffer hardship as a result of medical and hospital costs. I emphasise that there is no discrimination against Aborigines on the ground that they cannot pay medical or hospital fees. The subsidised health benefits .plan provides that if an Aboriginal head of a family is a member of a fund, both he and his family qualify for the benefits in the normal way. If an Aboriginal head of a family is not a member of a fund and his income does not exceed $46.50 a week, he is entitled to join the fund without payment of contributions. If he does so, the subsidised health benefit plan guarantees that hospital benefits to the level of charges for public ward accommodation in public hospitals and full medical benefits will be paid by the Commonwealth through the fund.
With the assistance of responsible persons, who usually will be those persons performing the services, or their representatives, it should be possible for the forms to be completed without undue hardship. It is known that there have been problems in enrolling some of those who could well receive assistance. Particular problems have arisen with Aborigines, especially in Western Australia, but action has been taken by my Department, in co-operation with the Department of Social Services, to effect improvement to the arrangements in that State. Apart from the special situation in Western Australia, certain general improvements to the plan introduced by my Department in November 1971, including the introduction of simplified forms of application and entitlements and other procedures, should also facilitate the enrolment of Aborigines.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Minister aware that an unemployed station hand with 5 children receives $47.50 a week from Commonwealth unemployment benefits whereas a station hand working 44 hours a week, under the court prescribed conditions of the Federal pastoral award, receives only $46.40 a week? Does he agree that it is not in the public inerest that this ridiculous situation should continue? Will he endeavour to persuade the Government to intervene in support of another application by the Australian Workers Union to rectify this anomalous situation?
– The figures which the honourable senator presents certainly show a position which 1 think he correctly describes as ridiculous. I shall have the figures checked and see what is the appropriate comment.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Does the reported presence of surveyors at the Jervis Bay atomic power station site mean that the Government is to recommence construction despite the serious doubts about the massive expenditure involved?
– It is my understanding that no surveyors have been at the power station site for quite some time, but that recently some surveyors have been working at Green Patch Point - some 2 miles away - on an entirely different project. In the near future the Government will give consideration to what action it may take on the Jervis Bay project.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service.In view of the detection by the New South Wales Dust Diseases Board of a high degree of silicosis among jackhammer operators, what action is the Minister for Labour and National Service taking beyond New South Wales, particularly in northern Australia, in the way of medical checks as well as research into suitable preventive measures to combat this apparently increasing industrial hazard?
– The honourable senator will appreciate that this matter does not come within the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service. But I understand that an ordinance which relates to silicosis is in operation in the Northern Territory. Provision is made under it for examination by medical officers of the Department of Health of workers who are subject to this risk. However, I shall refer the question to the appropriate Ministers and then provide such information as is available from those sources.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Excise Tariff Bill 1972.
Excise Bill 1972.
Distillation Bill 1972.
Spirits Bill 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Navigation Bill 1972.
– Pursuant to section 76a of the National Health Act 1953-1971,I present the First Annual Report by the DirectorGeneral of Health on the operations of the registered medical benefits organisations and the registered hospital benefits organisations for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– I present the report of the Joint Select Committee on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- I move:
The report which I have just presented recommends the repeal of the existing defence forces retirement benefits legislation and the immediate introduction of a new scheme. In the report the Committee outlines a scheme which it considers should meet the requirements of: the defence force for the foreseeable future. The Committee’s conclusions were greatly influenced by two considerations. Firstly, the special nature of a career in the defence force. Very few members indeed are permitted to continue to serve until the age of 60, and the risk of death or injury, in peace as well as war, is far higher than in civilian employment. For these reasons we do not believe that the Commonwealth superannuation scheme is an appropriate foundation on which to base a retirement benefits scheme for the defence force. Secondly, the need for simplicity and comprehensibility. We found that few members of the defence force have a clear understanding of the present DFRB scheme. The Committee believes that retirement benefits are significant factors in both recruiting and retention, and that any scheme which is not comprehensible to the average servicemen will fail in one of its main purposes.
After intensive consideration of the present DFRB scheme, the Committee came unanimously to the conclusion that the post-1959 scheme is quite unsuited to the needs of the Services and could not be modified to make it suitable. A completely new scheme is required. This is in no sense a criticism of the members of the present DFRB Board, who have at all times cooperated with the Committee and have been of great assistance to it, but rather of the Acts they have been required to administer. The following is an outline of the more important features of the scheme the Committee proposes:
All members should contribute a flat 5i per cent of their pay. The present post- 1959 scheme has a varying rate of contribution based on age of entry. This varying scale has certain actuarial advantages, but the Committee decisively discarded it in the interests of simplicity and comprehensibility.
Both officers and other ranks should be entitled to receive a pension - which we prefer to call retired pay - when retiring after 20 years or more of effective service.
Retired pay should be expressed as a percentage of final pay, on an accelerating scale, ranging from 35 per cent of final pay after 20 years service to 76.5 per cent after 40 years service.
All existing contributors should be transferred to the new scheme. The transfer arrangements are set out in detail in the report.
There should be automatic adjustments of retired pay in accordance with fluctuations in average weekly earnings.
A possible way of achieving this would be to maintain retired pay as a percentage of current active pay.
There should be an unfettered right to commute a portion of retired pay as a lump sum on retirement. Members should have the right to commute a maxium of four times the annual retired pay payable to them on retirement and this amount should not be subject to reduction either on grounds of the member’s life expectancy or for any other reason.
These are some of the more significant features of the scheme. The full proposals are set out in the report.
The present legislation provides an elaborate system of gratuities, which in our view have contributed to complexity and have caused confusion about the purpose of the scheme. We recommend that gratuities should, in future, be provided as an ordinary condition of service and removed from the scheme. The Chairman has put this suggestion informally to Mr Justice Kerr. We consider that the Committee of Inquiry into Services Pay and Conditions might profitably examine the whole question of gratuities, and would suggest to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) that he refer this matter to that Committee.
Assessment of invalids should, in our view, be undertaken by an independent assessment tribunal, and there should be provision for an appeal by an aggrieved person either to a court, on questions of law, or to an appeal tribunal which could substitute its own assessment for that of the first tribunal. Invalid pay should no longer be subject to suspension when the member’s civilians earnings have reached two-thirds of the current equivalent of his pay at retirement.
The Commonwealth Actuary prepared a report for the Committee explaining the financial and actuarial basis of the present DFRB scheme. We have included this document among the appendices to our report. We have concluded that a much simpler method of providing finance is desirable. We propose that instead of accumulating the contributions of members in a fund, the contributions should be used as needed to pay the benefits. Contributions should be paid to the Government, which should guarantee the benefits at the level proposed and meet any additional cost. Our reasons for proposing this course are set out fully in our report.
Our proposals do not envisage a funded scheme, although the Government might wish to establish a fund to hold unexpended contributions and to meet its long term liability. The new scheme should be administered by the Department of Defence and the Minister for Defence should be the responsible Minister. It seems to us that there would be substantial administrative savings in having Service pay authorities responsible for the payment both of their active members and of their retired members and dependants.
We have been very anxious to obtain estimates of the cost of our proposals. We asked the Commonwemalth Actuary for estimates of the cost of the present scheme compared with the cost of the Committee’s proposals. The necessary information was not available to the Actuary when this request was first made, and in an interim report presented to Parliament last December it was explained that the Committee’s Report would be delayed until this information was obtained. We have not yet received any satisfactory estimate of the emerging cost of the proposed scheme, but we would point out that the Commonwealth Actuary was also unable to provide us with an estimate of the emerging cost of the present scheme. The Committee would, however, like to emphasise that we believe that the contributions required, and the benefits provided, in the proposed scheme are reasonable, and that the cost to the Commonwealth will not be unacceptably greater than that of the present Scheme.
The Committee has been very conscious of the importance of the defence forces retirement benefits legislation to the recruiting and morale of the defence forces. We believe the scheme we have proposed is fair and comprehensible, and will not impose any undue financial burden on the Commonwealth. We strongly commend the report to the Senate.
– It is not my intention to intrude at length in this debate at this stage. I think it would be much more appropriate for the report of the Joint Select Committee cn Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legis lation to be discussed at a later time when honourable senators have had an opportunity to study it. I rise merely because I had occasion to present a minority report on a certain segment of the Committee’s investigations. My minority report appears at page 51 of the committee’s report and it concerns a dissent to paragraphs 164 to 167 of recommendation 17. The dissent relates to the question of the eligibility of unmarried male and female members of the Services to pass on rights to others on the same basis as married male personnel can pass them on to their dependants under the existing scheme and will be able to do under the proposed scheme.
I have attempted to canvass the reasons that have prompted me to dissent from that recommendation. One factor I have pointed to is that the Commonwealth Actuary has advised that according to his computations, no additional cost would be involved in the proposed scheme. He has worked on the basis that all personnel are in fact married and will pass on rights in succession to their survivors. As I remarked at the end of my dissenting report, I hope that the fact that I am myself unmarried might be accepted as promoting my interest rather than persuading my judgment. I think that this is a matter of very considerable concern in a period when we are emerging into equality of the sexes. In terms of work value and in general social terms, I think it is important that, where we get the opportunity of projecting this concern in specific legislation or in the implementation of policy, we should attempt to do so. I subscribe to the whole of the report with the exception of that dissent. I commend the report, and my own dissent in this area, to the attention and solicitude of :he Senate.
– (12.4)- There is a recommendation in the report of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation on which I would like to comment briefly. I refer to the recommendation that a de facto wife should be allowed to draw an allowance while her husband is away. In support of my request to the Government to act on this recommendation quickly 1 would like to cite one case with which I have been dealing, ft is the case of a young man who has been to
Vietnam and who thought he was married before he went away. He had been away for nearly a year when he heard that his wife’, I will call her, had committed suicide. The next day he was told that he had not been properly married to the girl because it was a bigamous marriage. He has been asked to repay the $1,350 which was paid to her as a marriage allowance. In raising this question with representatives of the armed forces, I have been told that for 10 years the Parliamentary Counsel has been looking at this situation. That is why I urge the Government to act speedily. It is a cruel imposition for young men who have been away fighting to return to a situation of the type that I have described.
Debate (on motion by Senator Devitt) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Wood) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 2, be postponed until 5 sitting days hence.
– I withdraw notice of motion No. 1, Business of the Senate, standing in my name and I seek leave to make a statement in regard to the matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– As regards this notice of motion, relating to the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Ordinance 1971, I wish to acquaint the Senate that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee was concerned with provisions in this ordinance v/hereby the Electricity Authority was empowered to enter upon a lessor’s property, after notice, and trim or lop any tree which in the opinion of the Authority was interfering, or might interfere with, electrical wires. The Committee was concerned that this provision gave to the Authority an unduly wide power and provided the citizen with no redress in case of the misuse of that power. In response to the submissions from the Committee, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) has given an undertaking that the ordinance will be amended so as to provide that whether the trees are interfering with wires will be a question for objective determination, and will not depend upon the opinion of the Authority, and that the person who regards the Authority’s notice that trees must be trimmed or looped as unreasonable will have a right to a review of the notice by a court. It will also be provided that the cost of lopping trees which were on a parcel of land before electricity wires were established will be borne by the Authority and not by the occupier as previously provided. The Committee was also concerned with certain provisions relating to the rights of persons licensed under the ordinance and, in this area, the Minister has also given assurances that the ordinance will be amended so as to meet the points raised by the Committee. The Committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation of the courtesy and co-operation which it has received from the Minister in regard to this ordinance and other ordinances recently examined by the Committee.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is it desired to rearrange or to postpone the businesss of the Senate?
Debate resumed from 11th May 1972 (vide page 1635) on motion by Senator Marriott:
That the Senate take note of the paper.’
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (12.9)- Mr Deputy President, I rise with great pleasure to support the recommendations contained in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. As a member of that Committee, I learned very quickly the double value of Senate committees. The first value is the amount of knowledge that members of committees gain. The second value is the good which is done in the community through the publicity given to the witnesses who give evidence before a committee and the findings of thai committee.
In inquiring into drug abuse, this committee was studying the psychotropic drugs. In studying that we were not by any means recognising that they were the most important drugs of abuse. Certainly alcohol and tobacco would either be as dangerous or much more dangerous. But that was a separate subject. It was because of the growing abuse of psychotropic drugs in Australia that there was an urgent need to examine the degree of abuse and the way in which these drugs were being abused and to publicise to the community just what was happening.
The important thing about psychotropic drugs is that the first experiment needs to be prevented. Although people tend to think that it cannot happen to them very often the first dose can be fatal and they can become hooked. There is no quick remedy for anybody who is accustomed to abusing such drugs. Our great concern in this Senate and, certainly, on the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse was with the young people who make up a very large proportion of the drug abusers. Perhaps the largest section are between the ages of 15 and 25. Certainly there are responsibilities with the community, the Government, parents and individuals to try to help prevent this experimentation which is going on among young people.
Very often, in fact almost invariably, when one talks to a young person who is addicted to drugs he will tell a sad story of broken family life and the generation gap as a result of which he is not able to talk to his parents or may have parents who are loo inflexible, treat abuse as a crime and cast him aside. We must realise that drug abuse is not a criminal offence, lt is a sickness and should be treated as such, lt is hard to define exactly which drugs are difficult or dangerous. There are such a complex range of them and they perform so many functions. If we think of a drug as something which alters the structure or the function of the body then we realise that it is the psychotropic drugs which work on the central nervous system which are being so much abused today, particularly by young people. They seem to be trying to escape from a world which, maybe, we have created. They are seeking to escape from honors, from war, from depressions and they try ‘ to find their escape in this new way. It is a way which does away with their cares and responsibilities. They are able to find among others who are abusing drugs some form of subculture where they gather together and hold things in common.
I had a very sordid experience of going out with the drug squad in Sydney. U amazed me to find the number of young people who were abusing drugs and who were living in crowded areas around Kings Cross and Paddington in disgusting conditions. They were living in what they called their ‘pads’. This consisted of one room with practically no toilet facilities. There was nothing to hold rubbish. In one small kitchenette f saw a heap of rubbish which must have been a home for rats. They had nothing in which to put it. They had no furniture. They were sleeping on dirty, filthy mattresses on the floor. Everything which seemed to make life not worth living was going on in a very extensive area.
Certainly, drugs can be used with some value. They can be a crutch if they are used properly under a medical prescription with careful supervision and according to directions. The abuse comes when people do not follow medical directions and use drugs by injecting, inhaling or in other ways in which drug abuse is carried out. Drug abusers find that they have ruined their liver, kidneys, heart or brain. When these symptons of degeneration come it is too late to do very much to help them.
However, I shall digress for a moment to tell about a letter which 1 received last week. 1 think that this stresses the value of Senate committees. In South Australia, because it was reported in the newspapers that I was a member of the drug committee, I received a letter from a young girl who had been consigned to a closed ward of the Hillcrest Psychiatric Hospital by the court. In other words, she was virtually imprisoned. She wrote to me and asked whether I would go to see her and see for myself the disgusting conditions under which she was compelled to live. I did so.
First 1 rang the drug squad to hear what ils members felt about my visit, and they encouraged me to go. I rang the psychiatrist in charge of the hospital, who welcomed me and accompanied me while I spoke to the girl. He told me beforehand that it would be useless to try to relieve her .situation. He said: ‘She has absolutely no desire to be withdrawn from drugs. She is in a closed ward because she would attempt to take her own life if she were not confined there. She is in a desperate situation. There is nothing we can do. We have appealed to every sense we can, but she will not help herself or allow us to help her”.
When I saw the girl J said to her: ‘You write extremely well; your letter was extremely well put together. Wouldn’t you like to try to write?” She replied: ‘Well, I would; but how can 1 do so in this place?’ I saw that there was no place to which a person could go to write, paint or read in privacy. She was in a ward with elderly, senile women and people who were mentally deficient. I did my best and talked with her. She has written to me in these terms:
I don’t know whether you will remember me about 1 i years ago when I appealed to you about the conditions in the security ward of Hillcrest Psychiatric 11,,:ni,al
She goes on to say:
I am a little vague abou) details of that time. I was almost oblivious to things around me or. as most people do, have automatically blocked out unhappy memories. However, some time after you visited, i he ward did become more open; most of the younger ones were given a certain amount of freedom daily 10 wander the grounds.
She said that she had left the closed ward for more intensive treatment and had not been hack there, except for one night after a drinking celebration, so she could not give me accurate report on present or recent conditions, although the ward had improved after f had been there. After telling of other girls who had become permanent inmates, she wrote:
When you knew me, I was bitter, suspicious and determined not to accept help.
She did not like the first doctor, although she conceded that he had tried to heir her. She continued: 1 gol on far better with my new doctor, who was prepared to use trust. In truth, I trusted him and soon I was revising ray ideas on what 1 wanted from life. 1 have had a few slip-backs on drugs and drink, but caine through them and now can communicate feelings, face them and accept them as being a part of myself instead of smothering intense emotions I couldn’t understand and feared.
There is no need for me to read any further from the letter. The point is that through care and attention that girl, who I was told was hopeless, is now able to respect herself. She has not been back on drugs for some time and she is about to try life on a kibbutz in Israel in an attempt to find understanding there. She says that she could give a long dissertation on the faults of Australian living. 1 will pursue that subject with her, for I would like to know what she means. One of the Committee’s recommendations is that the living environment should be improved. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from cases such as the one I have outlined.
Some people do not understand the extent of the drug problem. I would like to give some figures that were given to the Committee over a year ago. They show the world situation. At every minute of every hour of every day and night, someone in the world is injecting one of the narcotic drugs, and every day one person dies as a result of an overdose. We were told at that time that the number was quadrupling each year, so now 4 people must be dying every day from overdoses. In New York alone there were 70,000 registered addicts; 200 of them were teenagers and several were under 12 years of age. lt is worth mentioning that, on a per capita basis, Australians are the biggest takers of pills in the world and the third biggest takers of analgesics.
Another aspect impressed me very much and explained to me why so much crime is allied with drug abuse. The report of the Committee defines drug traffickers, pedlars and pushers. In Turkey, opium is grown legally, but the growers are supposed to sell their product to the Government for $7 per lb. However, when growers do not send all their opium to the Government, $350 per lb is paid for it on the black market by big crime organisations th.tt come to Turkey, smuggle the opium out in one way and another and take it mainly to Fiance and Hong Kong where it is processed into heroin. That heroin finds its way through the smaller pedlars of drugs into various countries. Those big interests break up the original pound of opium into 45,000 packets of adulterated heroin, containing at the most only 5 per cent of pure heroin, and sell each packet to drug takers for $5. The packet contains a ‘fix’ which, when taken, lasts for 5 or 6 hours. Doing the arithmetic on those figures, one finds that the original pound of opium that costs the Government of Turkey $7 is exploited to earn $225,000 in the world market. In the light of figures like that, it is not difficult to understand why so many people are trying to get young people to experiment in the taking of drugs. They know that by pushing drugs to those young people they may make their fortune.
For those reasons I support the recommendations in this report very much indeed. We must tighten up on the laws. We must punish the trafficker or pedlar who though not a drug taker himself, tries to involve young persons and to make his fortune by doing so. We need to ensure that the law is not too hard on the first offender. Having served his sentence, he should not be penalised for life by having that prison sentence pinned to him and therefore prejudicing his opportunity to get back into the community and to lead a good life. More advisers and counsellors are needed to help young people who, like the girl I have mentioned, having gone through emotional stress and not finding anybody to help them, finally resort to drugs in an attempt to escape from their psychological difficulties. Certainly one of the first things we need to do is to spread education on drugs throughout the community, thus making everybody aware of the dangers of taking drugs. We must realise that education in a limited way will be of no value. The concept must be one of total education. In such a matter affecting social health, members of the legal profession, social workers and youth leaders must understand the problems so that they will be able to help both parents and young people in understanding them. The recommendation that bromureides should be available only on medical prescription is a good one. Certainly I favour the wrapping of individual bromureides and analgesics, which is also recommended by the Committee. Everyone knows how irritating it is to unwrap even one pill. It takes ages to undo the wrapping. It is unlikely that a person intending to take an overdose would spend the time necessary to unwrap all the pills needed to lead to abuse.
We need to help middle-aged women who find life depressing and lonely. Perhaps their families have grown away from them and they find themselves unimportant in life. It is in that category that we find the majority of abusers of mild analgesics. Such women get up in the morning feeling a little depressed so they take a handful of aspirins or whatever the drug may be. They find that this gets them through the first hour while they are getting their husbands off to work. Then they take another handful of some sort of drug. We even heard of cases of women taking as many as 150 mild analgesics a day. Certainly close attention needs to be paid to this form of abuse. It is very easy to buy mild analgesics. They are available everywhere. They can be purchased from chemists, from the greengrocer and from the garage. I am sure that if they were wrapped individually and were made difficult to get at there would be less abuse in this sense.
The recommendations that there be less advertising and fewer tax concessions for advertising certainly are worthy of notice. I think every one of the recommendations in this report are urgently in need of Government attention. Many of them now have been adopted, and in relation to those which have not I can only urge that the Government move swiftly to try to prevent the spread of drug abuse in Australia.
– I wish to speak rather briefly on this matter because I know that the time available for debate is limited. Those honourable senators who were members of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, as I was, aleady have had the opportunity at least of influencing in some way what is contained in the report, and also of speaking on matters relating to drug trafficking and drug abuse during the proceedings of the Committee. However, I feel that in my own case I am obliged to say at least something because I was one of the senators who brought down a minority report. For that reason I think it would be improper for me not to give some outline of the reasons why 1 was impelled to come to the conclusions which I reached.
Drug trafficking and drug abuse is a very large problem because, as I think is well known, the nature of the drugs which are susceptible to abuse is very wide, ranging from those drugs which are available for medicinal purposes and which may be excessively taken, through to other drugs which are taken for the purpose of pleasure or for relief from the tensions of everyday life. Some of the drugs in each of these categories are acceptable to the law and to society generally, and others are unacceptable. Some drugs which apparently have a medicinal purpose are easily available although they are dangerous. Others which are equally dangerous and which do not fulfil the medicinal purpose which they are alleged by their makers to have, are not accepable to the law and to society. In the same way, there are drags which are available for pleasure, or at least for nontherapeutic purposes, which are acceptable to the law and to society. There are still others which would seem to be not more dangerous - perhaps in some instances they are less dangerous - which are subject to the scrutiny of the law and to penal sanctions and are generally condemned by society.
One of the outstanding features of human beings is that for as long as their history has been recorded they have sought relief from the tensions, strains and agonies of everyday living in various forms of drugs, lt is obvious that most human beings naturally find that life itself, even in the best circumstances, imposes strains, tensions, sorrows and hardships upon them and they look for various forms of relief from the exigencies of day to day living. This relief is not always sought in drugs. Various solutions are sought by people to distract their attention from everyday problems. I think it can be well said that there are people who turn to harmless activities such as listening to music, reading, taking up hobbies, engaging in sport and all sorts of other activities whose purpose is largely to distract them from the day to day problems they have if they are constantly facing their responsibilities and con stantly struggling to achieve some material success or, indeed, any other form of success.
But one of the more harmful remedies to which people have looked through many centuries to solve their problems has been the taking of various forms of drugs. Alcohol is one of those drugs. It has been resorted to by countless millions of people over the centuries. It has caused very great hardship and suffering to many people. I think that most people are well aware of the dangers of alcohol in the same way as I think most people are well aware of the dangers involved in the use of tobacco. Nonetheless, people are. prepared to take the risk of the disabilities and the physical and perhaps mental suffering which this practice may cause them because, it would seem, they do find that the. relief which they obtain from alcohol, irrespective of the aftermath, is worthwhile. This tends to distract them from their day to day problems of living. The old saying that the cheapest way out of Manchester is two penn’orth of gin is a proposition which I think still applies, and it does not apply only to 19th century Manchester when the people were living under all the exigencies of the industrial revolution such as poverty and bad housing. There are many people today living in the same economic and social situation, although it cannot be compared to the situation of those who lived in poverty in Manchester in the 19th century, who still want to drink, to give an example of one drug, for relief from the pain and suffering which they feel, for whatever reason, as they go through life.
The problem which I think society is faced with in dealing with those who have over indulged in drugs which are harmful to them and, in turn, to society - I am not referring to the abuse of therapeutic drugs - and in dealing with those who perhaps have not over indulged but have indulged only momentarily in those drugs which, of their very nature, can be seriously damaging, such as heroin, is that it has to come to a conclusion on where it should draw the line in dealing with them. At what stage should society say that the consumption of a drug is so harmful that it has to be prohibited, even though this action does deny certain freedoms to people to do what they want to do with their minds and their bodies? On the other hand, the other consideration which has to be taken into account - this is part of the same problem - is at what stage, society is entitled to say that as the drug is harmful it is entitled to take away this man’s or that woman’s freedom to indulge in it. In this regard I think one is faced with the problem of alcohol. Even though a 55-year old man who might consume a couple of beers or whiskies every day is shortening by 5 years his life expectancy or his ability to do useful work but at the same time is enjoying his life, can one say that he should not do it even though those extra 5 years of life will be more painful to him than if he were not to have the comfort which alcohol provides? These seem to me to be very real problems which have to be looked at by society.
Tolerance has to be shown to the people who take drugs, whatever the drugs may be, because however dangerous the taking of drugs may be to society, however advisable it may be in certain instances to impose penal provisions on those who provide or use drugs, all of us must recognise that the person who commits an offence against the law by taking a drug, by doing something to himself, even if this means in the long run some damage to society which has to look after him, is in a different category from the person who engages in violent assaults or thefts or engages in deliberate actions whose purpose is to inflict harm on other people. Even though the consequences to society in the long run may not be different, clearly the intention of the alcoholic is different from the intention of the burglar, murderer, garotter or thug. Even though it may turn out in the long run that the actions of the alcoholic are just as costly to society, clearly a distinction must be drawn in the approach to this person.
– Could not a better parallel be drawn with someone who commits manslaughter?
– But even then manslaughter does imply within itself that action of some sort is taken against another person, even though inadvertently, whereas the drinking of the alcohol which makes a person an alcoholic is, in itself, a private action in which no other party is involved and no other party need necessarily be involved. One can only assume that in time excessive prevalence of alcoholism will cause some cost to society. In approaching this matter I tried to select criteria which I felt should be applied in order to try to reach conclusions about what ought to be done about the particular drug marihuana which has obtained some notoriety in this country in recent years. I have reached the following general conclusions and have tried to apply the following principles in reaching the recommendation which I made in my minority report.
First, I believe that society should intervene by way of the law only in those matters which are the direct concern of society. I do not believe that if one can establish that an action is in itself a purely private action there should be any interference, whatsoever by the State. For example, if it can be established that somebody spent a lot of time listening to what could be regarded by an objective aesthetic judge of music - if there is such a person - as poor music, or somebody spent his time reading bad novels, I do not think that the, State ought to intervene and direct him not to listen to this musical rubbish or not to read that literary rubbish. I do not believe that he should be directed to listen to better music or to read better books. I believe that this principle can be intended to deal with a drug and that before the State should intervene by legislative action and the imposition of penal provisions it needs to establish that the taking of the drug is of some concern to society. But if the taking of the drug does not harm the person who is taking it in such a way that he is likely either to engage in actions which are damaging to society or in actions which will damage himself so that he will impose a burden on society which will have to look after him, I do not believe that the State should intervene in such a case.
Secondly - and this is part of the first proposition - I believe that before any activity is made unlawful a judgment has to be made whether the activity, insofar as it would be engaged in by a reasonable person, would bring about harm; that is to say, I do not believe that the. possession of axes or scissors ought to be made illegal just because somebody may put an axe or a pair of scissors to unreasonable use by attacking somebody else. I do not believe that the possession of motor cars ought to be made unlawful just because, some person may drive a motor vehicle negligently and kill other people, or because someone may deliberately drive a motor car into something or some person. All sorts of materials are in existence all around us which, if used in a manner not in accordance with their reasonable use by a reasonable person, can be harmful. If they are not used reasonably by a reasonable person they can cause harm.
I believe that the same criterion has to be applied to drugs. I do not propose to argue whether it is a fact, but if, for example, it can be established that the reasonable marihuana user is nol suffering any dire effects which impose a burden on society, it is not reasonable to say that marihuana should be illegal because somebody who smokes marihuana constantly for 3 weeks will be in such a state that he can cause a danger to society. I do not believe that this is a reasonable argument to put forward because, if a person is in such a condition that he will make such unreasonable use of a drug, this person could be just as likely to make unreasonable use of an axe and hit somebody on the head with it.
The next criterion which I think has to be applied, if one has established that there needs to bc some potential for harm to society in the use of a drug before its use is prohibited, concerns the imposition of a responsibility on those who wish to prohibit any particular activity to establish that there is at least a reasonable chance that: the use of this substance - or engaging in that activity - is harmful. 1 do not believe that the responsibility should be imposed on those who believe in freedom to establish that the freedom which they are advocating is nol harmful and never can be harmful in any circumstances. In fact, it would be impossible to justify in this sense practically any substance which we now use. Nobody can establish that butter in all circumstances is harmless or that strawberry jam in all. circumstances is harmless. Any one of these substances in particular circumstances can be harmful if it is used in a special way - at a particular temperalure - or injected into the veins or arteries by a hypodermic needle.
I submit that the onus is on those people who wish to prohibit an article to establish that it is dangerous. The onus should not be on those people who say that the activity should be allowed. The onus should not be on them to establish that the practice is not harmful. Turning to marihuana, I am afraid that I am not convinced by the argument that it has still not been proved that it is harmless. I do not believe that it ever could be proved that it is harmless any more than it could be proved that salt or sugar is harmless. All these things can be harmless but what I say about marihuana is that sufficient evidence exists at present as a result of inquiries which have taken place throughout the whole world to show that marihuana has not been proved to be dangerous and any suspected dangers are of such a nature that they are considerably less than the dangers of other commonly used drugs.
In referring to inquiries 1 have in mind particularly the most recent inquiry by the presidential commission in the United States which has recently published its report. Similar reports have been brought down in Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and other countries. All of the systematic reports which have been made on the subject contain the conclusion that marihuana has not been proved to be dangerous and have recommended that either the drug should be made legal or at least the penalties ought to be substantially reduced. Whatever the question may be as to the action to be taken, I do not think anybody would dispute that the findings of responsibly constituted bodies throughout the world - and most recently the presidential commission in the United States - have been to the effect that there is no harm in marihuana.
– lt did not. recommend legalisation, did it?
– Yes, the last inquiry did. If the honourable senator reads the presidential commission’s report he will find that it clearly recommends legalisation. I certainly do not wish to put words into the mouths of my colleagues on the Committee but I think that all of them, including those who were certainly not prepared to go as far as I wished to go in my minority report, were of the view that marihuana was at least not as dangerous as a number of other drugs. The report of the Committee contains at least the recognition that marihuana falls into a different category from drugs such as heroin, opium, and cocaine.
– It suggested that there ought to be a change in classification.
– There is a recommendation for a change in classification, and also a recommendation regarding the penalties to be imposed on minors found in possession of marihuana.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended for lunch I was enumerating some of the principles which I believe should be applied in coming to a conclusion whether a particular drug, in this case marihuana, ought to be prohibited by law. The first principle which I believe should be considered is this: Before such a law shall be justified it shall be necessary to establish that it is a proper interest of the State to regulate such activities. The second is that if it can be established that it is a proper interest of the State, and if it is believed that the use of this drug may be harmful to society, then the onus is upon those who wish to prohibit the drug to justify its prohibition, rather than for the onus to be upon those who say that it should not be unlawful to prove that the use of this drug is never harmful in any circumstances and that there is no possibility of its use being harmful.
The third proposition which I believe ought to be considered is whether in fact the law is enforceable. Nothing can be more damaging to the fabric of a democratic society, of a properly conducted State, than to have laws which are openly defied, laws which a very substantial section of the community believe should not be applied and which in fact are nol applied. I think it is well known, for example, that in the United States of America the prohibition of alcohol from 1919 to 1933, under the Volstead Act, led to a very great increase in crime in that country, not only crime which directly resulted from the inclusion of the possession of alcohol within the framework of the criminal law but also a number of other crimes which arose indirectly. Criminals used the illegality of alcohol to terrorise people who were engaged in the illegal traffic in alcohol. Because of its illegality, people trafficking in it were unable to obtain the protection of the law.
There are many criminologists who hold that this is the present situation resulting from the prohibition of marihuana; that there are people engaging in the illegal traffic in marihuana who, with that illegal traffic in marihuana as a base, are extending their illegal operations into other fields, and that the very illegal traffic in itself produces various other crimes. This has been particularly evident in parts of the United States.
I think it may be said also - evidence to this effect was given to the Committee - that the fact that marihuana at present is only obtainable illegally and that the sort of persons who are engaging in the illegal traffic in marihuana are the sort of people who, in many instances, also engage in illegal traffic in other drugs, leads people who are using marihuana to come into contact with other dangerous drugs. In fact many people first acquire their association with the pushers of heroin and the opiates because they have come into contact with these people as vendors of marihuana.
One of the other consequences of making illegal an activity which a great many people regard as not being harmful - I admit that if in fact it is harmful this is a consequence which has to be faced, and if there is some doubt about its being harmful it certainly is something which has to be considered - is that those people are not impressed by the present arguments about the illegality of marihuana. They feel that society, the State, is acting foolishly in prohibiting marihuana. As a consequence they come to the conclusion, perhaps illogically, that the arguments leading to the prohibition of other drugs are just as foolish as the arguments relating to marihuana. They see the prohibition of marihuana, a drug which appears not only to them but also to the members of the American Presidential Commission, for example, not to be harmful, as a basis for believing that the law makers are poor judges of what is harmful and what is not harmful. Therefore they believe them to be equally poor judges when it comes to heroin and the opiates. The consequence of all this is that not only does the prohibition of marihuana not stop a great many of these people from taking it, but in effect it acts as some sort of encouragement to them to take other drugs.
The fourth criterion which I believe should be applied in a matter such as this - perhaps it is the most important criterion and an essential one in judging the efficacy and desirability of any law - is the question of whether the social cost of (he prohibition of some action may not be greater than the harm which results, or could result, from allowing the activity to remain lawful. As an instance of this, 1 certainly believe that the use of alcohol is harmful to society. I do not think anybody could deny that the use of alcohol is undesirable and that it has caused considerable suffering, hardship and cost to individuals and to the community generally. I believe it has been shown in other countries - and it soon would be shown in this country - that if this activity, which is desired by so many people, were to be prohibited by law and penal sanctions were to be imposed on those who trafficked in alcohol or possessed alcohol, the consequent disruption of society, the consequent inconvenience, to put it at its mildest, imposed on those people who make moderate use of alcohol would be greater than the existing cost of alcohol being made available legally.
It must also be said about this question that part of the social cost of the prohibition of marihuana may be seen in the fact that prohibition is not effective. It was shown clearly in the United States that despite the most draconic laws imposed, by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1936 and other subsequent measures, the use of marihuana has increased steadily. There are some 25 million people who have made use of it in the United States despite its illegality. lt has been said that if it had been known at the time tobacco and alcohol were first used that they were just as dangerous as marihuana these things would have been prohibited also and that this would have been a good thing. 1 have heard this said, in fact, by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). 1 do not believe that an examination of the history of alcohol and tobacco would justify this. lt may be remembered that very early in the 17th century, shortly after the intro duction of tobacco in England in 1604, King James 1 wrote his tract ‘Counterblast to Tobacco’. Penal provisions were imposed for the use of tobacco not only in England but also elsewhere, and they failed. They created a disrespect for the law which meant that certain people were selectively prosecuted while others were not as the widespread use of tobacco became part of the culture of western countries.
In conclusion 1 wish to say only this: J believe that the function of the state is to guarantee liberties to the citizen and not to take his freedoms away from him. Before any freedom is taken away from any person it must be shown very clearly that there are overwhelming considerations relating to the interests of the society or the interests of the state which justify the deprivation of that freedom. I do not believe that this has been established in the case of marihuana. I do believe that limitations should be imposed on trafficking in and possession of marihuana, as I indicated in the minority report I presented. I believe that we will be acting in the best interests of our society if ultimately - 1 believe this will happen in any case sooner or later - we legalise the use of this drug, because in my view the cost of prohibiting it is much greater than any potential cost of allowing people to be free to make use of it.
– I am very glad that the Senate has been given the opportunity to debate the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse which inquired into the drug question and of which I was privileged to be a member. I think that in all modesty it could be said that it was a very hard-working committee. I am quite sure that in Senator John Marriott we had a most effective chairman who co-ordinated our work and acted as a medium between us. the Press and the general public in a way which did credit to him and to the Senate. I feel that a good deal has been achieved already by the. report, which we all know has had a considerable sale not only in Australia but all over the world. This question of drug addiction is arousing considerable concern in every part of the globe.
I believe that it will be found that one of the achievements of the report will be this: It has transferred the emphasis in regard to drug addiction to the point where the drug addict is regarded as a person who is ill and not as a person who has committed an offence. I believe that that is all to the good. I also believe that the report of the Committee has directed attention to what needs to be done if we are to prevent drug addiction from becoming a serious problem in this country. We were gratified to learn - the evidence to this effect was strong - that in Australia we have not yet a serious drug problem. But when we look at what is happening in other parts of the world we see that we must alert ourselves to the possibility that drug addiction will become a problem. We must do what we can to provide adequate treatment for those in this country who have succumbed and we must take measures to ensure that our young people, who are particularly prone to the risks of this kind of addiction, are adequately informed and protected against the possibility that they will become addicts. With the assistance of experts not only from Australia but also from all over the world, the Committee was able to amass a significant amount of evidence as to the right methods to deal with this problem.
There were certain aspects which obtained a good deal of attention. I felt that the evil of the taking of drugs to the point of addiction by middle aged people, the extent of which had not been realised before, was spotlighted. Already action has been taken by governments in this country to ensure that certain of those drugs are no longer as freely available in the community as they used to be. Not only have governments taken steps to make such drugs less accessible, but also they have seen to it that information is made available to the public to point out the dangers of becoming addicted to these headache powders, Relaxa-tabs and other powders. I believe that has made a big contribution to making people understand the dangers and making them realise that they have to be careful to avoid those dangers. 1 think that a disproportionate amount of attention has been concentrated on the drug marihuana. The experts who came before the Committee made it clear that there was, as yet, no confirmed medical opinion throughout the world as to the possible long term effects of marihuana addiction. In those circumstances I was one of those on the Committee who felt that until we have adequate evidence of the possible long term effects of marihuana addiction we should maintain the present restrictions. I think also that most if not all, of us were influenced in our attitude by the belief that there was some evidence - not overwhelming evidence, but some evidence - that indulgence in marihuana led to indulgence in other and more dangerous drugs. For that reason, we adopted an attitude of caution. I believe that that attitude is justified.
As Senator Wheeldon pointed out, there are different types of drugs. Some drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, are socially acceptable. My feeling is that, from the point of view of young people, it is better not to make marihuana easily available to them. I am not one of those who feel that the use of alcohol or tobacco can be prohibited. But I do feci that an immense amount of money is being spent uselessly on those 2 drugs. I see no reason why we should add another drug, the cost of which would spiral as the cost of all these drugs seems to spiral as the public comes to accept them more and more. I remember that in the early days of the Australian Labor Party, leaders of that Party - men in prominent positions - advocated the prohibition not merely of alcohol but also of tobacco on the ground that the worker was wasting on them money which ought to have been spent on his wife and family. A different attitude now prevails. It is felt that these drugs have become socially acceptable and that therefore they cannot be prohibited.
But I still believe, as I told some of the students who appeared before us. that there is no reason why when they are spending so much money already on alcohol and tobacco they should spend money on something else which most of them admitted could never in any circumstances be regarded as a necessity. I think that the danger in adopting a more permissive attitude in regard to drug addiction can be seen from what has happened in the United States of America, where there has been a more permissive attitude. I was interested to read an article by Dr Margaret Wallner, a qualified medical practitioner who is attached to the university health service of the Australian
National University and who has just visited the United States. In the course of a very interesting article which appeared in the Canberra ‘Times’ she pointed out that at a narcotics round table conference she had met a group of responsible and articulate students from one of the best known high schools. She was amazed to find that every one of those students admitted that at some time or other, and even then, he or she had taken drugs. Most of them said that they felt that they had taken them perhaps for some years. A number had found that they could give them up. Others were still indulging.
A rather remarkable factor that we found in our considerations of the Australian evidence - it was pointed out fairly strongly to us - was that a considerable number of young students who indulged in drug taking found, when they reached what we might refer to as a more responsible age, in the twenties, and perhaps because of intentions to marry or because of family responsibilities, were able in most cases to give up the drug taking without, as far as they could see, any serious effects. But there is always a small number of people, as they themselves admitted, who are not able to give up the particular drug and who graduate to other drugs. They form part of the problem. The matter that impressed me in Dr Wallner’s article was that in the United States while these older people said that they felt that they could take the drugs and leave them, the tendency was that the age at which young people experimented in drugs was falling to the degree that now - I quote her words - ‘large numbers of children under 10 are being noticed in drug treatment facilities’. The drugs which they had been taking were marihuana, barbiturates and a number of other drugs which, she was told, the children had said they got from the bathrooms in their homes.
It is serious that young children aged 10 and under are experimenting with drugs. That makes it more important that in the community steps should be taken to guard and warn young people against the evil possibilities of drug taking. For that reason I am indebted to Mr Beazley, the Australian Labor Party spokesman on education, for his article on the dangers of ‘The
Little Red Schoolbook’. In his article he pointed out that in the book the use of marihuana is excused. In fact it is stated to children that there is nothing very wrong with taking marihuana and that it probably will not do them much harm. But ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’, according to Mr Beazley, also states:
LSD is dangerous but the effects of mescalin and LSD (or acid) vary enormously from person to person. There are cases of people who have taken LSD regularly over long periods without any bad effects.
In view of the evidence that we had from medical men on what LSD can do to people, I think it is criminal that in our community there should be permitted a book which tells young children, who are not equipped to make their own decisions on these matters, that it is possible to take LSD regularly over long periods without any bad effects. If that kind of information is disseminated widely in the community and if it is accepted widely among children, I have no doubt that if we have not a drug problem now we will have one before long.
There are other problems. Alcohol is undoubtedly the worst. Some people say: If alcohol is the worst, why is it not prohibited? Instead of taking action as is intended in regard to tobacco - warnings, advertising and so on - why not take action in regard to other things?’ Alcohol has become socially acceptable. While many people say that they take it for social purposes without ill effects, governments will always be loath to take action. I think I should mention another factor which has been brought to notice by Dr Wallner in her article headed ‘Drugs and VD: twin perils of youth*. One of the dangers of ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’ is that it advocates or tolerates a permissive attitude in regard to promiscuity. It tells children that they may indulge in promiscuity and not let their parents know. It then suggests to the children that if they do that, they can avoid any of the consequences. Of course, they avoid any of the consequences by use of the contraceptive pill. I point out that in that book the statement is made that venereal disease, or social disease, can be irritating but it is not serious and it can be cured. I think it is criminal to tell young people that kind of thing.
Mr Beazley made a very strong point about the seriousness of telling young people that they can avoid the consequences of promiscuity because of the pill. He spoke the truth when he said that there are strains of such disease which resist antibiotics and that that is not mentioned in ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’. The fact that the children concerned might infect others is not mentioned either. To show the seriousness of this matter let me return to the article by Dr Wallner, who is attached to the university health service at the Australian National University. She said that the nurse at the junior high school nearest to where she was staying informed her that she was besieged with the problem of this social disease and that conservatively one-quarter of the ninth grade, aged IS and under, had the disease and had to be treated. She was informed that the Student Health Service at the California University which sees 500 students a day now treats as many students with that disease as it treats for the common cold. I do not think that it is too much to say that one of the main causes of the spread of that form of disease, which medically can cause blindness, heart trouble, sterility and insanity, is that young people have been led to believe that promiscuity is without danger because a particular form of drug is now available to them. When young children arc told it in ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’, I make no apology for saying that to condemn the availability of that book to young people is not bigotry or wowserism,; it is simply plain commonsense. 1 believe that the drug problem in Australia is not a serious one, but it is one which can become serious. All kinds of people say that if action is taken in regard to drugs and other social problems personal liberty is being interfered with. I have always been of the opinion that a great deal of the publicity in favour of permissiveness comes from people who do not care as long as they can make a quid out of it. It is the rattle of the cash register that they are interested in, not matters of personal liberty or the right of the individual to do his particular thing. Therefore I believe that the Government must take action to protect our young people and to ensure that they are warned in a sensible way, because they can be warned in the wrong way.
We must take action to warn young people in a sensible way of the possible consequences of experimenting with drugs and against other forms of licence. If the problem were put before them in the right way - in a rational fashion without scare headlines and without some of the media going to the extremes to which they have gone - I believe the young people of this country would be sensible enough to make the right decision. But, while they are making that decision, it is our duty as members of Parliament not to shrink from the task of taking action against those people who, because they think there is money in it, want to produce books, drugs and other things which could have grave social effects upon our community. It is our duty not to be bemused or scared by the fact that these people often contribute money to funds so that they can buy publicity in the media for the purpose of advocating their particular form of money making.
I am gratified, as I believe are other members of the Committee which inquired into this mater, by the manner in which the public has shown its interest in what the Committee has had to say. I am gratified by the fact that other countries have felt that Australia could contribute something of worth to the consideration of this problem. I believe that the Government was wise when it acceded to the desire of the Senate to establish a committee to inquire into this very serious problem of drug trafficking and drug abuse. I believe that inquiries of this nature enhance the reputation of the Senate. 1 conclude by saying that I was very proud to be a member of the Committee. I found my colleagues on it to be people with whom it was a pleasure to co-operate in doing something that we felt was for the good of the state. I am grateful to Senator John Marriott who, as I said before, was a most effective Chairman of the Committee. He did everything for the Committee that could be done.
– I join with the other members of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia who have spoken on this matter in the 12 months since the report was first presented to the Parliament. Like other members of the Committee, I am very happy with the acceptance that has been given to the report by the public and the authorities responsible for implementing its recommendations. I, too, appreciated the chairmanship of Senator John Marriott. It was a very difficult committee to control at times. We all had our own views on the subject. It was also very difficult to know exactly where to go in order to obtain certain information. But Senator John Marriott had the ability to keep everyone happy. He was also able to get before the Committee those people and organisations it wanted to interview. At the same time he kept the Press satisfied with progress reports of the Committee’s proceedings. Because of the public interest in the subject the Press was naturally very anxious to obtain these reports. Senator John Marriott was an excellent Chairman in that respect.
It is unfortunate and regrettable that some of us have not had the opportunity to speak on this report until 12 months after it was presented. The report has been accepted not only throughout this country but also overseas as being a very good one. I am pleased to say that most of the recommendations that were made 12 months ago have since been implemented by the various authorities, although some have yet to be implemented. I think most honourable senators will agree with me when I say that the most important thing to come out of this inquiry was the need to educate the public at all levels. The lack of knowledge of drugs and their effect on the human body is deplorable. I think the members of the Committee learned a lot about what they previously did not realise was happening.
A drug is defined as any substance which when taken into a living organism may modify one or more of its functions. We all know that in the last 20 or 30 years many life saving drugs have been discovered. One which was used during the last war was morphine. It must have saved the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers. Yet morphine, when taken to excess or abused, is one of the biggest killers in our society. The Committee found that it is necessary to educate not only people of all ages, including the young, but also our medical fraternity. Many medical men do not appreciate properly the effect that their prescriptions can have on their patients. Consequently, one of the Committee’s main recommendations was in this field. I understand that the National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence, which includes representatives of the Commonwealth and State departments of Health, has the matter in hand and that a considerable amount of money has been allocated for the purpose of education. But it is going to take time to train the necessary number of people to do the educating in the schools, throughout the medical profession and in the community generally.
The fact that a committee was appointed to undertake an inquiry into drug trafficking and drug abuse and that it has presented a report to the Parliament before drugs have become a real problem in this country is something for which we should be thankful. There are lots of different drugs. 1 will not cover the whole area because it has already been covered by other members of the Committee. But I would point out that even what are regarded as minor drugs can have a detrimental effect if used to excess. I am referring to the analgesics, APC-type powders, aspirins and so on. Few people realise the dangers involved in the excessive use of those drugs. Eventually it is hoped to educate the people, not only through the medical fraternity but also by correct labelling, in the dangers of the excessive use of those drugs and the effects they can have if taken in conjunction with other drugs, such as alcohol. The Committee was concerned about this information not being available on the labels of those drugs - pills in particular - usually kept in the home medicine chest. I think that there is room for great improvement in this respect.
I turn now to the controversial subject of the use of marihuana. This subject has been already discussed today. I wish to touch on it only briefly. Like Senator McManus, who spoke before me, I believe that the use of marihuana should not be legalised until more information is available as to its long term effects. But I do not think that we should just leave it at that. I think that authorities have the responsibility to determine where we go in the future with respect to the use of this drug.
In the United States of America excessive use of this drug may force authorities to legalise it as the lesser of 2 evils. We must watch for this situation arising in Australia. Our answer to the problem at the moment should be the education of young people not to use marihuana. If we can persuade young people not to use it, and the drug is not used in excess, the problem ahead of us will not be great. If, on the other hand, the use of the drug extends as it has done in countries such as the United States, T believe that we will need to look at the problem most seriously.
The older members of our society have always had a problem with youth, particularly when young people believe they are victimised in some way or other. When we were young we objected to our parents enjoying certain privileges that we did not have. Educated young people come to us and say: “We know the effects that alcohol has on people in the community. We know that there are 50,000 drug addicts in Australia, and alcoholics in institutions who are costing this nation $200m a year 10 maintain. We know also that it is estimated that approximately S800m is lost each year because of working hours lost, sickness and associated problems arising from the over-indulgence in alcohol by some people in the community. We have our little drug, marihuana. As far as we know, it has not caused any harm to anybody. Yet we are victimised, and you are not.’ We know that a tendency exists on the part of young people to say: ‘We are being badly done by. We will smoke this, whether you like it or not’. This is why I say that education rather than preventive measures is the way to try to handle the situation.
As Senator McManus has mentioned, the problem of alcohol, tobacco and these other drugs which have been with us for many years is almost impossible of eradication. The United States tried prohibition in relation to alcohol, and we know where it ended up. The big problem with marihuana in the future, if it is to be excessively used and if it is to be an important avenue for underground operations, will be that it may be laced with other drugs such as heroin. This will happen if its distribution is in the hands of the wrong people. We all know that, whilst only a small proportion of the population may become or would automatically become addicted to drugs such as alcohol, everyone can become addicted to a drug such as heroin. These are the dangers that 1 believe the authorities must look at to determine what steps they will take in the future. I do not wish to say any more on the subject today. I know that our time is limited and that other speakers wish to debate this report. I am proud to have been a member of this Committee. I am pleased that its report was accepted in the way in which it was, particularly by the authorities. T also join with others in thanking John Marriott for the way in which he led the Committee.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the report which the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse produced has received widespread circulation. Quite a number of articles and reviews have been written concerning the value of the report. The investigation of the Committee, if it had no other value, had at least this value: lt led, as all other Senate committee investigations have led. to a more enlightened approach by senators in this place. The inquiry enabled senators to investigate in depth the problem which confronts the community. Having investigated that problem, senators may apply their knowledge in debate and in their consideration of legislation.
The impression gained by members of a Senate committee is not a passing one; the members of this Committee have a lasting impression from their inquiry. Not only do investigations by a Senate select committee in any area of our social problems enlighten the members of the Committee, but those investigations also provide a forum for those people who have knowledge of the subject being investigated. The Senate inquiry provides a platform for them to express their opinions and to present their submissions for discussion in public and for interrogation. By so doing, they stimulate widespread interest in the matter being considered.
It would be a great pity if this report and its recommendations were merely to pass into the records of this place. It is my suggestion that the Senate keep in mind the desirability of a committee reconvening at some future date - perhaps 2 years after it has brought down a report - to ascertain how many of its recommendations have been carried out, how many of its recommendations have been translated into legislation and what the position is at that time with respect to the problem which it investigated. The tendency is for many of the reports and recommendations coming from Senate committees to be submerged by a swamp of responsibility, that is, by the tremendous amount of legislation which must be passed through this place. That seems to be the natural result. I recommend to the Senate that this report should be investigated again in about a year’s time. A precedent exists for this action because a publications committee is investigating a report which was brought down by a joint committee to determine how far the recommendations of that committee have been carried out.
The recommendations of this Committee are perhaps too general. I make this point because I was responsible for a minority report in which the matter may have been approached more definitely. 1 make no firm criticism here. This Select Committee was an aH-party Committee which approached the same problem from a variety of angles and positions. This must be reflected in the final report. But one or two members of the Committee had more definite views. These views may reflect our philosophical position. The report does make certain general recommendations which ought to be carried out immediately. Some have passed into operation through the Department of Health. One specific recommendation was that $5m should be made available immediately to the States to combat areas of drug abuse which alarmed the Committee. Although, as Senator McManus did say, there is no severe drug problem in this country with young people at this time, he meant in effect what the Committee members pointed out in the report, that is, that although no severe overall problem in terms of numbers exists now sufficient young people are being affected as to make the problem serious for them and for their immediate families.
– They have a personal problem.
– Yes. A small number of people, especially in the main cities of Australia, have been seriously affected by this drug problem. Families are suffering the side effects of the addiction of their children, especially young children. It is necessary that we quickly make funds available to the authorities and voluntary agencies which exist. It is necessary that we make this money available immediately to support these agencies and to bring immediate assistance to small groups of people who are suffering the physical addiction of some of the hard drugs. I make the appeal to the Government that it consider this recommendation. The spending of $5m in a year on prevention could possibly save many dollars in the future. I shall quickly deal with my minority report because time is running out. Maybe other honourable senators who follow may wish to make their points. I disagree with the Committee’s conclusion which stated:
Nor does the Committee sec any value in their being restricted to pharmacies only.
The Committee was referring to the distribution and sale of minor analgesics. I disagree with this conclusion because, listening to the evidence, I formed the strong opinion that the opposite is correct. This opposite opinion is based on the evidence received by the Committee and, in fact, is supported by the alarming figures quoted in this section of the report. In the Reservations I state:
Minor analgesics should be available much less freely and the present proliferation of distribution should be limited. Their sale, together with all pharmaceuticals should be the responsibility of pharmacists, through recognised outlets.
Even recognising the difficulties which other members of the Committee considered and on which they came to a different conclusion I think that it is necessary for us to realise how important is the misuse of analgesics. As Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield said, we are one of the greatest pill takers in the world. I think that we run third. Certain types of kidney diseases are suffered by 1 1 times more people in this country than in the United States of America. On the evidence there seems to be a direct relationship between the widespread misuse of analgesics and kidney disease. At the present time what is happening in the community is that analgesics are subject to impulse selling. A very wide range of methods is being used to promote and sell these analgesics in quantities to the public. Only recently we have learned - it has been announced - that the chain stores now are to come into the field and promote the sale of these analgesics. I think it is necessary that the druggist, the pharmacist or the chemist - call him what you will - should come back to the position of being a druggist and an adviser in this field. He and he alone should be responsible for the distribution of pharmaceuticals which are subject to abuse, as analgesics are subject to abuse. This is not an innovation. Druggists in other countries are druggists and nothing else. They sell neither panty hose, nor cosmetics nor sweets nor other associated merchandise. They are there to sell pharmaceuticals and nothing else. On advertising I state:
The Committee’s recommendation does not go far enough. Sufficient evidence was received to show that the self-regulation of the drug industry was not to be trusted . . .
I shall not read any more. I merely state that the advertising industry in this country is mainly responsible for the proliferation and the misuse of a wide range of pharmaceuticals. The situation is now worse than it was when the Committee investigated it. Advertising jingles are churned forth in the early morning on television and radio. Certain headache powders are advertised in this manner: Four o’clock traffic jams; six o’clock headache. Take yourself a powder and relieve yourself of that headache. To my mind the advertising of particular headache powders goes beyond the spirit of the Broadcasting and Television Act. I am saying, and I reiterate, that one cannot trust the advertising media. The recommendation which I made that there should be a complete ban on advertising all drugs of dependence is one which I strongly support. The evidence which came before the Committee has been since supported. The advertising agencies of this country are not to be trusted. In fact the section of industry which strongly opposes a ban on television advertising of tobacco and cigarettes is not the tobacco industry; strangely enough it is the advertising industry. 1 say that the tobacco industry might like to be relieved of the responsibility of wide scale advertising to promote its products.
The third Reservation which I made in my minority report was that I disagreed with the attitude of the Committee generally on marihuana. Tt is my opinion that marihuana is the least harmful of the drugs of abuse which were brought before the Committee, including alcohol and tobacco. To my mind - and I state this now - one cannot come to any other conclusion. But while 1 am of this opinion I am not prepared to advocate, at this stage, the legalisation of marihuana. I am of the opinion that eventually legalisation is inevitable because of the pressure and demand for its use.
Senator Wheeldon declared that the legalisation of marihuana would be the lesser of the evils. He said that the penalties which have to be maintained to prevent widespread use would be a greater evil than the use of the drug itself. I am inclined to believe that. I am of the opinion that one should not trust the legalisation of another drug. Marihuana is a drug and it is not harmless. The term is ‘less harmful’ than the other two. I do not think anyone has stated that it is a harmless drug. We merely state that it is less harmful than the other drugs which we have listed. I have stated in the Reservations that I have not approved of its legalisation at this stage because I would refuse to place another drug in the hands of commercial interests in this country to promote at will as they have promoted both tobacco and alcohol. For this reason I am not prepared to recommend its legalisation at this stage. I am of the opinion that drug usage in the community - no matter what drug - has to be considerably reduced. Our approach to the use of drugs has to be altered before we can consider legalising or making readily available another drug of this type.
In conclusion I thank the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Marriott, for his tolerance. I also thank the members of the staff of the Committee. A moment ago 1 noticed that the secretary of the Committee, Mr Higgins, was in the gallery. I commend him for his efforts in the preparation of this report. I also make the point that at the time of the publication of this report there was a pre-release of certain information. I clearly make the statement here that it is ray belief that no member of the staff, of the Government Printing Office or any section of the parliamentary staff was responsible for that release. I apologise for any inconvenience which may have been created by this incident because, in some way, I may have to accept some of the responsibility although I deny the whole of the responsibility. I have privately expressed this opinion to the Chairman and members concerned but I take this opportunity of placing it on the record.
– I would like to congratulate the Committee on carrying out a very valuable public service in its investigation of and report on the matter referred to it by the Senate. Honourable senators may recall that it was on 25th November 1969 that the Parliament met for its famous one-day sitting. 1 think the only valuable thing done on that day was the establishment of the Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. That matter of history is not unimportant. I take a little pride in having moved the motion for the establishment of the Select Committee. It should be remembered that on the same occasion the Democratic Labor Party also had this matter in mind. Senator Gair moved a motion to the effect that such a committee ought to be established. This was done in order to show that there was co-operation in the matter and a viewpoint that the problem was so great that it should be investigated immediately by a committee of the Senate.
It is with some regret that I see that the Committee has failed to include a reference to the motion moved by Senator Gair and adopted by the Senate. It has also failed to state, I think, even the date, let alone the mover, of the motion to establish the Committee. In this case I was involved in the matter not only as Leader of the Opposition but also because I took a personal interest in it. I think it is extremely regrettable that there has been a departure from the previous practice whereby these matters - even the extracts from the journals - were included. I hope it does not occur with future reports of select or standing committees. Those who have been associated with such matters take proper pride in that association, and those concerned in reading the reports probably would be interested to know something about the inititation of the references to select or standing committees.
The report sets out a great number of findings of fact and conclusions and recommendations which speak for themselves. I do not propose to deal in any detail with what has been done - the report speaks for itself - but I shall make some observations to illustrate my personal reactions to some parts of the report. I think the report is paradoxical in many ways. For example, while alcohol and tobacco head its list of drugs abused in Australia and the report makes alarming comments on their dangers, that concern is not carried to the stage that the Committee makes major recommendations for dealing with the problems posed by those drugs. Similarly, minor analgesics are placed third on the list of most abused drugs, and the report gives a frightening account of the link between the high consumption of these aspirin-type drugs and the extremely high incidence of kidney disease in Australia. It states that the incidence of this disease is probably 50 times as high in Australia as in other Western countries and that research strongly indicates that abuse of these drugs causes it. Yet the Committee substantially recommends that greater restrictions be imposed on the amount and form of advertising of minor analgesics, that window, floor and counter displays and specials’ should not be permitted, and that analgesics should be individually wrapped. It says that 90 per cent of the population use minor analgesics, that 11.4 per cent are daily users, and that some take 50 to 100 tablets or powders daily. Yet on the same page the report states that the Committee does not believe that minor analgesics should be available only on medical prescription or that their sale should be restricted to pharmacies.
It is unusual for a committee to reach such a conclusion after outlining so clearly the health hazard that these drugs present to the community, especially to people in the lower income bracket and women of middle age and over. I would regard the use by 90 per cent of the population of a drug that can cause fatal kidney disease as a drug problem of some importance. What kind of outcry would we see if 90 per cent of the population used marihuana? It may be said that minor analgesics are useful. But, even if they are useful, it is clear that there is abuse of them and that sterner steps ought to be taken to confine that abuse.
The report states that the cannabis-type drugs have not been proved to be addictive, as analgesics are; to be dangerous to health, as analgesics are; or to constitute a way of life for a large segment of our population, as analgesics do. I observe that what seems to me to be disproportionate emphasis is placed on the illegal drugs - the narcotics and cannabis derivatives - in the same way as these drugs receive much more attention from the mass media while the real drug problem clearly involves the legal, socially acceptable drugs.
An article in the ‘Australian Medical Journal’ of 6th May gives a number of good reasons why the recommendations on analgesics should have been much firmer. It states that only 13 per cent of total sales of these drugs were made through chemists, with an even smaller number being sold on prescription. Most were bought through food stores, milk bars and cafes. This indicates the necessity for restricting these drugs to chemists, or even to prescription. Should we regard this major drug addiction problem in the same light as we regard alcohol and tobacco? Should we ignore the problem in the same way as we ignore, or almost Ignore, the tragic consequences of tobacco and alcohol in terms of fatal or disabling diseases and daily road deaths? The Committee recommended only restrictions on advertising and display of these aspirin-type drugs. If the problem is as grave as the Committee says, one would think that the action should go much further.
The article in the ‘Australian Medical Journal’ states thai a recent survey in Sydney of aspirin use showed that 8 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women ingested it daily. Although the study showed that 62 per cent of those surveyed took it for headaches or joint pain, 31 per cent took it for such reasons as nerves, tension, ‘out of habit’ or ‘to cope with the family’. Dr A. I. Adams, senior lecturer in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Sydney, pointed out in a recent letter discussing the survey that aspirin has no properties which could justify its use in the management of emotional states. He comments:
One can only blame years of advertising for the mythology that has grown up in Australia regarding its effectiveness in these conditions.
He calls for the Government to ban aspirin advertising because aspirin advertising continues unabated today, despite the pleas of the medical profession.
He went on to deal with how one can ride in an Aspro bus or a Vincent’s bus and so on. 1 know that there are some differing views on this matter. It was in my mind when suggesting the establishment of this Committee that the Committee would look at the problems in proportion to their effect upon the community. I would have hoped that far more attention would have been paid to the causes and the prevention of damage to individuals in society by the major drugs, namely, alcohol, tobacco and Australia’s own peculiar problem, the analgesics. The problem of alcohol is dealt with by the Committee. In its report the Committee states that alcohol is foremost among the dependence producing drugs in the over 35-year age group with 5 per cent of males, or 215,000, and I per cent of females, or 43.000, being alcoholics, and that in 1964-65 the estimated cost of alcoholism to Australia was 8740m. The consequences of alcoholism, says the report, have many similarities to extreme dependence on the most dangerous of other drugs. We know it is a major cause of road fatalities, serious crime, marriage breakdown, and is extremely dangerous to health. Despite the report’s powerful indictment of alcohol, the Committee recommends only that tax concessions for drug advertising should be discontinued; that greater restrictions should be placed on television and radio drug advertising; that treatment for alcoholism should be included in the rehabilitation facilities recommended to be set up with a $5m grant to the States; that drug container labels should have adequate warnings, and that better reporting of drug statistics be organised.
– And education. Did you ever read the chapter on education? It is pretty all-embracing.
– Yes. I thank Senator Marriott for that interjection. The Committee recommended also that there should be education in regard to all drug taking. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the problem of this and the other 2 major drugs may require greater measures by the community. I know that Senator Marriott feels strongly about these problems, as I think most of us do. I am pleased that the Committee has suggested certain positive steps in regard to all of them. I am expressing a personal view when I say that I think the magnitude of the major drug problems requires, by the community, even greater steps. I am not underestimating the value of what the Committee has recommended towards some solution of these problems. Perhaps Senator Marriott will be tolerant with me if I differ in the degree and the extent to which I think that action should be taken. Like all other honourable senators, I am very indebted to the Committee for the work that it has done. The recommendations it has made are valuable. The Committee members themselves differed on some matters, and I am sure that Senator Marriott does not expect that everyone will endorse everything that appears in the report. That would be impossible, because even the Committee members were not unanimous.
I speak for myself when I say that I think our problems have been exposed by this Committee in a very strong way, but I think that the community will be forced to take more far reaching measures, not only by way of education but also by way of other inducements, to cope with these problems. The Committee has suggested embarking on some of these measures. That is good, but 1 would hope that this is just the first step towards dealing with the problems. While equating tobacco with alcohol as the most-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cant) - Order! The 3 hours of sitting having elapsed since the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the Senate, pursuant to order, will now proceed with other business on the notice paper.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 9 May (vide page 1457), on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman
That the Bin be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy President, for the convenience of honourable senators I suggest that the second reading debate on the next 7 Bills on the notice paper, namely, the Dairying Industry Bill 1972, the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1972, the Dairying Research Bill 1972, the Dairying Research Levy Bill 1972, the Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Bill 1972, the Butter Fat Levy Bill 1972. and the Dairy Research Levy Collection Bill 1972, be taken together and that at the conclusion of the debate votes be taken separately.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is there any objection? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has suggested that these 7 Bills pertaining to the dairying industry be taken together, and we on this side of the chamber see no reason why this should not be done. In the main, they are the continuation of Bills which have been passed by the Parliament in previous years. Perhaps the most important of the Bills is the one relating to the 5-year stabilisation plan for the dairying industry. This is the sixth such stabilisation plan since the first plan was introduced in 1947 by the then Labor Government. I have here a resume of the history of the previous Bills, set out in order, which shows to some extent that there has been a deterioration in the type of legislation relating to the 5-year plan. The first 5-year plan of 1947 gave to the dairying industry a guaranteed cost of production on all butter and cheese produced. It is noticed that in the second 5-year plan introduced in 1952 the industry was guaranteed only the cost of efficient production for the Australian consumption of butter and cheese, plus 20 per cent. So, as I have said, there has been somewhat of a deterioration. This document which sets out in context the history of these various plans has been provided for me by the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library. In fact, it was drawn up by the man who was responsible for the implementation of the first 5-year plan, namely, Mr Reg Pollard. I seek leave of the Senate to have this document incorporated in Hansard.
– Did you say that it was compiled by the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library?
– It has been checked out by the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library for factual errors, and it has been passed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
At industry request, the Chifley Government, in November 1946 appointed the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee (JDIAC).
Chairman, nominated by the Government, was
Dr J. G. Crawford of the Bureau of Agri cultural Economics (BAE).
Industry Representatives - G.Howey, (Vic); T. F. Plunket (Qld); R. G. Gibson (N.S.W.) and J. P. Norton (W.A., S.A., Tas.).
Government Representatives - C. Sheehy, Controller of Dairy Products; P. W. Nette, Treasury; A. Spencer, Dept of Commerce and Agriculture; W. S. Kelly, Commonwealth Prices Branch. On resignation of Mr Plunket, Mr C. H. Jamieson filled his place.
The formation of the Committee was announced in Parliament on 22nd November 1946 by Mr R. T. Pollard, Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
The Committee’s functions were:
The Committee made a cost survey of 1,000 farms throughout the Commonwealth. From these, 692 farms were selected and a cost of production figure determined at approximately 2/1½d per lb commercial butter. The four industry representatives supported 2/1½d - the three Government representatives recommended2/- per lb. This price was adopted by the Government. (Naturally producers wanted 2/1½d.)
Labour costs for the farmer and his family were calculated on the Rural Award of 1947 and a 25/- per week extra calculated as managerial allowance for the farmer.
The Government then guaranteed a cost of production price for a period of five years commencing on 1st April 1947 and terminating on 30th June 1952.
The price was to be reviewed annually and varied up or down in accordance with any variation found by the JDIAC and made on 2/- commercial butter base price per lb.
During the early stages of this plan the Commonwealth had residual wartime price fixing authority and was able to fix wholesale butler and cheese prices ex factory door.
Later, and following the defeat of the May 1948 Prices Referendum, price fixing authority passed to the State Governments.
Annually, costs of production moved upwards.
Note table above; - Cost of production of butter in 1947-48; 20c per lb ex factory door as found by JDIAC. By 1952 these guaranteed cost of production figures had moved upwards to 35.02c commercial butter.
This situation arose: The move in 1949, as from 1st July, required either a consumer price increase of 2½ pence per lb commercial butter or increased subsidy of2½ pence per lb. State Prices Ministers refused to increase butter prices, thus requiring the Commonwealth to find an additional £1¼ million in addition to 6d per lb, which for the 12 months to June 1950, cost the Commonwealth Government approximately £5 million.
Note - All butter and cheese production (home and export) was covered by the above plan.
The Stabilisation Fund for manufactured dairy products was initiated in . 1947 and expired on 30th June 1952. The Dairying Industry Act 1952 was substituted. This act provides for payment of subsidies and the use of the Dairy Industry Stabilisation Fund in connection with the agreed stabilisation scheme.
The Menzies Government replaced the JDIAC of the No. 1 Plan with a Dairying Industry Investigation Committee in May 1953.
To advise on price guarantees and with terms of reference covering costs of efficient production and other functions affecting the stability of the industry.
The Committee reported in July 1953:That owing to the market situation, and although it was recognised that costs under the agreed formula had risen 1.72 pence per lb commercial butter, no change be made in the guaranteed price for butter and cheese from 1st July, 1953.
So the price remained the same as for 1952 (see table above).
Additional Conditions -
The States enacted the required administrative legislation.
The retail price of butter in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide was increased on 1st July 1952 by 1/- per lb to 4/1½d and to 4/ 2d in country areas of these States and the other capital cities. Of this amount, the increase in the ex factory return was nearly 8d per lb - 7¼d in respect of farm costs. The balance was made up by increased distribution margins and transport cost allowances and by a reduction of approximately 2½d in the Federal subsidy from 1/1¼d to l0¾d per lb. Similar reductions for cheese.
With the elimination, after June 1952, of a subsidy on preserved milk and the increase in the guaranteed return, price additions equivalent to about l/4½d lb butter fat content were made on preserved milk products.
The total dairy subsidy provided by the Commonwealth for 1952-53 was £16.8 million, the same as for 1951-52.
The unsubsidised price for butter in Sydney would be about 5/- per lb and cheese 3/-.
In June 1952 the Dairying Industry Stabilisation Fund stood at £2½ million. Withdrawals from the fund during 1952-53 were caused by the excess of the home (guaranteed) return over the return from exports in respect to the portion of exports not guaranteed.
On non-guaranteed exports current losses for 1952-53 are estimated at 1/- per lb for butter and 7¾d for cheese.
Rise in price of butter -
July 1956 - 2 pence per lb.
July 1955 - 4 pence per lb.
Similar conditions to those of No. 2 plan apply.
On 1st July the Commonwealth Government increased ex-factory prices for butter and cheese - butter by 2d, cheese by Id per lb. The State governments under plan No. 2 agreement approved the increase.
How prices are determined. Before the opening of each financial year the Commonwealth Government determines the amount of subsidy to be made available for the year.
At the same time the cost of efficient dairy farm production is estimated by an independent body, the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee. Its report goes to the Minister for Primary Industry, who then discusses with industry representatives, factors other than costs, including the market prospects abroad and at home, particularly in relation to the influence of prices on local consumption and competition of substitutes.
The Minister then determines an ex-factory price of butter and cheese for home consumption, designed to give farmers a rate of return which will approximately cover the farm cost. This return is limited to a volume of production equivalent to home production plus 20 per cent.
The cost of manufacturing butter and cheese (i.e. factory costs) is assessed each year by the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee in consultation with the Department of Primary Industry.
In 19S8 the DUC arrived at a cost of efficient farm production of 53d per lb commercial butter, 2d more than the previous year.
After consultation with industry representatives, the Minister announced on 30th June that the total subsidy to be available in 1958-59 was £131 million, the same as the two previous years.
Price of ex-factory butter to rise from 456/2d per cwt to 474/ lOd to cover the rise in farm costs (2d per lb).
In 1958 the Commonwealth Government introduced a new factor. It decided to underwrite final equalisation values at a level of that for factories (with average manufacturing costs) to pay producers 3/4d per lb commercial butter (equal to 33ic).
Producers received 38.75c in 1959-60 and 36.66c approximately in 1957-58.
The same conditions as in No. 3 Plan applied.
The Industry may receive some compensation from the Government in respect to the devaluation of sterling.
Since June 1964, the wholesale price of butter was increased by 16/4d to 578/- per cwt and cheese by 9/4d to 305/8d per cwt.
Plan No. 5 - for five years from 1st July 1967 to 30th June 1972.
In submissions to the Government, the Dairy Industry recommended that aid be given to such farms that were not above marginal conditions, so as to enable them to become profitable working units or, in some cases, to leave the industry.
Legislation was passed enabling bounty payments for another five years on export of processed milk products from 1st July 1967. Upper limit of payment $800,000 per year.
This should be emphasised - Under Plans 4 and 5 and 6 there is no guarantee to producers of the cost of efficient production.
Responsibility for price policy rests wilh the industry through the Australian Dairy Industry Council, comprising of representatives of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd, the Australian Dairy Produce Board.
Since the average manufacturing cost bears directly on the underwriting provision, it has to be approved each year by the Minister for Primary Production.
– Perhaps the next most important of these Bills is the Dairying Research Bill 1972. This bill widens the scope in relation to the collection of moneys for the purpose of research. Perhaps the other most important Bill of the 7 is the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1972. As was the case with the 5-year stabilisation plan, this Bill extends for a further 5 years the $800,000 bounty that is paid to the industry in respect of processed milk products which are exported. As to the Dairying Research Bill, I am of the opinion that its introduction is not before time. In the past, research levies have been paid only by that section of the industry that has produced milk to be processed into cheese, butter, butter oil, butter powder or ghee. In fact about 28 per cent or 30 per cent of the milk produced in the Commonwealth has not had a research levy paid on it; that is the percentage of milk that has been processed or sold as liquid milk for human consumption.
I think one is quite justified in saying that in this respect what might be regarded as the poorer section of the industry has been subsidising the richer section, in particular the producers of the 22 per cent or 23 per cent of milk which has been used for human consumption. This is the most lucrative section of the dairy industry and it is not before time that, along with the processed milk section, it is brought within the provisions of the research legislation. All dairy farmers in the Commonwealth will be placed on an equal footing. Quite frankly, this omission in the past has been a bone of contention within the industry and has led to some rather bitter debates at the dairy farmer level. It is to be welcomed by the industry and by anybody who has had anything to do with the industry.
However, I question the allocation of these funds for research. At page 34 of the 1971 report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board is a statement that only 8.6 per cent of the money collected in that year was expended for marketing research. By and large, the remainder was spent on increasing production. If one is to accept the proposals that have been propounded by Ministers for Primary Industry, the Government and other conservative elements within the community that the only future role for the dairy industry is constant contraction, one would believe that some of this research money should be expended in looking for new markets; but it would seem that the Dairy Industry Research Committee has a totally different approach to the industry from that of the Government and other conservative elements in the community.
Its members apparently see no reason why large amounts of research funds should be spent on marketing research. According to the report, research has continued on the following aspects of dairy farm production: pasture and soil, various complaints of dairy cattle, and work on the nutrient requirements of soil types in various dairying areas. Queensland has been part of a comprehensive programme concerned with the breeding, establishment and management of new species of tropical grasses. The report goes on to say that this work has led to substantially increased stocking rates and increases in production from each cow.
I believe I am quite justified in saying that the Dairy Industry Research Committee has a totally different approach to the dairy industry from that of the Government and other people in the community who appear to see the future of the industry as only of constant contraction. The Bill dealing with 5-year stabilisation sets out the sixth such plan. It will be noted that the Government has guaranteed only $27m by way of bounty to the industry for each year of the 5-year plan, as against the sum of $40.8m that was granted to the industry last year. Conditional upon the industry’s bowing to the Government’s pressure, it is quite feasible to read into the Minister’s speech that the industry may receive further funds. There is no guarantee. In fact, I believe that one could quite logically read into it that irrespective of what the industry does, it will receive only $27m a year over the next 5 years.
The Minister has laid a great deal of stress on the need for the industry to oblige him, the Parliament or the Department with a 2-price quota plan. The Minister went to great lengths to stress that the. need for the plan came, not from the Government but from the industry. Honourable senators may recall that I mentioned this in my maiden speech last August. After having been involved in the industry for 40 years at the grass roots level, I cannot accept the Minister’s explanation of the 2- price quota plan. As I have already said, the largest section of the Victorian industry at a conference at about this time last year was told that it would either accept the necessity for a 2-price quota plan or the subsidy could be jeopardised. If that is not some form of political blackmail, I do not know what is. I, for one, am not prepared to accept the, Minister’s word that the idea of a 2-price quota plan came from the industry. In fact, it came from the Government.
At the conference to which I have referred the message was relayed by Mr Nixon, the honourable member for Gippsland. If the Government intends to direct the industry towards a 2-price quota plan, I believe that the industry has every reason to be sceptical because senators may recall that I said in my maiden speech last August that the industry was moved to accept a cut of 3.5 per cent in production as a voluntary action. That happened in May 2 years ago. Five or six months later the industry was told to take off all the brakes and go all out for production - that in fact the industry was falling behind and there was dire peril ahead for the marketing of our dairy produce.
We have never been able to find out what person or which department made the decision to have a cut in production of 3.5 per cent. Perhaps we will never know, but it is patently obvious that despite all the information that the Department or the Minister had at their fingertips, a wrong decision was made. The decision was made in the light of a build-up of dairy prodducts, particularly in the European Economic Community and generally across the world. Within 6 months this mountain of butterfat, as it was called at the time, was virtually dissipated and Australia was in a position where we may have been forced to import butter, I believe that the industry will be very sceptical of any approach or suggestion that is made in future to have some form of restriction placed upon production. The old adage of once caught twice shy will live long in the memories of those in the industry.
In this regard it is interesting to note the comment of the soon to be retired Chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, Mr Eric Roberts. Recently be was quoted by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ as saying that one of the lessons he had learned during his chairmanship was never to judge future prospects potential or viability of the dairy foods industry. The report goes on:
Judgments were always difficult, no matter bow the industry was placed. Governments, economists, critics and advisers had all been guilty of judging the industry’s worth and future on prevailing situations, rather than on a long term overall picture. Past experience shows that neither the extreme high nor the extreme low has a long or continuing place in the industry.
I believe that that is a warning from a man who has been at the helm of the Dairy Board for some considerable time, a man who grew up in the industry and knows what it is all about.
One other problem has arisen already because of the talk and the pressure that has been applied for the industry to adopt a 2-price quota plan. Japanese buyers of our dairy produce are saying to our exporters: ‘What is the future of the Australian dairy industry? Does it have any potential? Can we be guaranteed dairy produce over a long term period?’ According to my information the Japanese are inclined to look to New Zealand because that country is prepared to give them guaranteed agreements in respect of the availability of dairy produce for up to 5 years.
There are other things which should be considered when we talk about a 2-price quota plan. One is the fact that the average age of dairy farmers in the European Economic Community is 60 years while that of dairy farmers in this country is 50 years. I point out that last year 1,800 dairy farmers in Victoria left the industry. The number of dairy cattle throughout the Commonwealth fell to some 328,000 in the last decade and the number of holdings with milk cattle fell from 142,000 to 59,500 in the last 22 years. Any imposition on the restriction of production in Australia could lead this country within a few years to the stage where it may well have to import its butter and cheese, and, if the worst came about, even milk for human consumption. On the other hand, despite the bleating of the critics across the nation, the armchair strategists and some dairy farmers in the community, the industry is now earning export income. It did so in the last 2 years to the extent of $115m a year. That is a considerable sum for one of our primary industries to earn in export income.
Other factors have to be considered in relation to the implementation of this 2- price plan. I asked the responsible Minister a question about it some two or three weeks ago and I may raise this matter again during the Committee stage. The Senate is being asked to debate these Bills relating to the dairy industry and to vote on them although we do not know what form this 2-price quota plan will take. The mechanics of it were spelt out to some extent in the report of the Australian Dairy Industry Council some 12 months ago but in the meantime the responsible primary industry Ministers in each State have all come up with their own plan. The industry today has before it 7 proposals for a 2-price quota plan, and at this stage no-one knows what, if anything, is going to be adopted.
The only 2 plans that I have been able to get my hands on to study are the one I just mentioned, the plan of the Australian Dairy Industry Council, and the Victorian plan which was released only a week or perhaps 2 weeks ago. Perhaps the most serious omission that I discovered in the Victorian plan is that it proposes quotas only on butter, butter oil, cheese and processed milk products and not on the very important liquid milk section of the industry. The liquid milk section is lucrative by comparison with the products for which the Victorian plan seeks a quota. I suggest that if all dairy farmers in Victoria participated in the liquid milk market and the quotas were averaged out across the entire industry so that everybody would have some 17 or 18 gallons per farm, according to the last estimates I read, then the plan would not be so bad. But at present a select few in the industry have the right of access to this market. In fact, roughly onethird of the industry has access to this market. This means that the other twothirds will be harshly treated. I have with me figures relating to the liquid milk market in Victoria. At 13th April this year there were 17,298 licensed dairy farms in Victoria and of that number 6,628 had access to the liquid milk market. The largest liquid milk contract in Victoria is for 900 gallons a day. I see no reason why that section of the industry should not be brought into any 2-price quota plan and placed on an equal basis with the rest of the dairy farmers in that State. It is noticeable that the report of the dairy industry’s federal body on the quota plan makes some provision for including liquid milk in the quota.
As I said, I have seen only those 2 reports. There is little doubt that there will be a great deal of debate within the industry over the next few months in order to come to some rationalised plan whereby each State, each farm or each factory in the Commonwealth will receive a just share of the home market if this 2-price quota plan is ever implemented. One hopes that when that day comes a just plan will have been evolved. If the type of plan proposed by the Victorian Department of Agriculture and the Victorian Minister were implemented it would lead to anarchy in the industry. There is a rather damaging situation apparent today in the industry in Victoria because only one-third of the producers there have access to the liquid milk market. It means, in effect, that while one producer is receiving, say, 25c or 26c a gallon for his milk, his next door neighbour, facing the same costs and input factors involved in the dairying game, is receiving about 42c a gallon for similar milk. This leads to bitterness and unpleasantness within the industry.
The situation has been alleviated somewhat of late because world prices for butter and other export commodities have increased. In fact, they have increased to such an extent that one would be quite justified in saying that at the present time the industry is in one of the most affluent financial positions it has been in for a long time. The present situation will not last and I do not think that anybody in the industry expects it to last. Already, there are indications of quite a substantial buildup of stocks across the world. In fact, in mid- April 1971 butter stocks in storage throughout the world amounted to 235,000 tons. In mid-April 1972, just 12 months later, they amounted to 283,000 tons. In 1971, 245,000 tons of cheese was stored throughout the world. This year the figure is 261,000 tons. At the present time, the European Economic Community countries are subsidising exports to the value of SA342 a ton. We have a situation similar to that which arose two or three years ago.
Whether it will again reach the proportions it reached then, I very much doubt. This is because of the other factors that I have already mentioned in regard to the dairy industry throughout the world.
Over the years the Australian Dairy Produce Board has attempted to set up, and has succeeded in setting up, plants throughout Asia, Perhaps this is one of the better known activities that the Board has undertaken. At times these plants have been something of an aunt sally for critics of the industry. But, by and large, I think that they have proved to be successful. They have taken quite large amounts of Australian dairy produce and reconstituted it into products that have been utilised by the peoples of those Asian countries where the plants have been established. On 16th May this year the honourable member for McMillan, Mr Buchanan, asked a question in another place. I noticed that it was taken up by one of the Melbourne daily newspapers. The question was directed by Mr Buchanan to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). He asked:
Is the Minister aware of the threat by the Australian Dairy Produce Board that it will confiscate supplies of milk powder to bolster its ailing Asian dairy plants? The Board says that it will pay only cut rates and that it will refuse export permits for contracts that have already been made at the high ruling rates which are current today unless factories agree to the sacrifice of existing customers. I ask: Will the Minister please stop this highway robbery and at least insist on the Board paying the going world prices?
I was somewhat disturbed when I read the report of that question in the Melbourne newspaper. I was so perturbed that I took it upon myself to contact the Chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. He had not at that stage of the day read the report, but he was very disturbed when I read the newspaper comment to him. We said that there were people who had gone to the extent of employing publicity agents to do what they could to damage the Board. The facts of the matter are that the Board has cancelled some permits, but only where factories have orders for thousands of tons of produce more than they can supply and where permits were granted and have never been operated upon. The Board has advised Australian manufacturers that unless it can find supplies for its plants from Australian sources it may be placed in a situation in which it will be forced to seek produce from New
Zealand. Of course, the New Zealanders are not idiots when it comes to bargaining and long term market arrangements. They would insist on long term arrangements if the Board had to move in there. If this high price bubble burst the Australian dairy industry would find itself in a situation in which it would be stuck with its produce and have nowhere to sell it.
I believe that the Board has adopted a very diplomatic approach to this matter. I believe that if the Australian dairy industry has set up plants in Asia it has an obligation, even at a time when world prices for dairy produce are high, to supply those plants with the produce that they require. It is said virtually in the adverse comment that the Australian Dairy Produce Board is not prepared to pay the going world rates for dairy produce for its plants in Asia. As has been reported to me by the President of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, in Asia the Board is obliged to compete with the New Zealand industry. Therefore, it cannot act in a businesslike way if it pays more for Australian produce than the price at which New Zealand can supply produce. I understand that the going rate for New Zealand powder is about $428 a ton. The price that the Board is paying for produce for its Asian factories is better than the average world trader to trader price. Prices are being quoted in excess of it. But my understanding is that they are rather few and far between and that when they ate all averaged out - this is according to the Chairman of the Board - it is paying better than world trader to trader prices. It would appear that there are people in the industry who, like many other people in our society, seek to capitalise their gains and socialise their losses. I think this is about the best way to describe the people who have started this campaign against the Australian Dairy Produce Board.
I think I have already said that we on this side of the Senate are not opposed to the Bill, with the exception that we intend to make a request in regard to clause 8 (2.) of the Dairying Research Levy Collection Bill 1972 and also to move an amendment to clause 9 (2.) of that Bill. That will be done in Committee. Because the Opposition is not opposed to the Bills, it is rather difficult to talk for hours or really to debate the matter. The situation of the industry has improved immeasurably in regard to our world markets. It will be recalled that when the first intimations were given that Great Britain was to join the European Economic Community a great deal of distress and alarm was expressed. Distress and alarm were expressed as loudly and as clearly in :he industry as anywhere else.
There were fears that the industry would be stuck with huge amounts of dairy produce which it would not be able to dispose of. Those fears were not realised because of several factors - the rather judicious operations of the Australian Dairy Produce Board in opening plants in Asia; the fact that production in Australia had tended to decline; the fact that thousands had left the industry; that those in it were getting older and that the number of holdings had fallen dramatically. AH of those factors have meant that last year only about 8,000 tons of butter were exported to Great Britain. It is currently estimated by those with some knowledge of the industry, including some in the industry, that next year there is a possibility that there will be only 5,000 tons of butter to export to Great Britain. That shows that the industry has not been asleep; rather that it has been working hard during the last decade to shift its export markets away from the traditional market of Great Britain. In this effort it has been successful. I believe that the industry, subject to rationalisation in certain areas, subject to good management and subject to one or two other things, will be around for a long time. As I have said in previous speeches, it provides industry, work and a livelihood for a great many of our rural towns and cities. I think it can be said, without fear of contradiction, that throughout Australia today the only rural areas that still show signs of affluence in the towns and cities are those areas which are engaged in the dairying industry. Once one moves away from the dairying areas, of my State anyhow, and moves into the wheat and wool growing areas, there seems to be a noticeable deterioration in towns and cities and in the rural work force. Admittedly, the position in dairying areas is not good, but I believe that it is out in front of the position, as I have seen it, in the wheat and wool growing areas of Victoria.
Another factor is starting to develop in the industry. In the past it has always been orientated largely around butter. Butter has been the mainstay of the industry. Today it has become a by-product of the industry. The milk powders and solids not fat have become the cream of the industry, and this influence is starting to show at the end of the production line. Another trend which is starting to show loud and clear is the swing to cheese. It is a growth factor in the industry. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has prophesied that in the 1980s - within the next decade - cheese will take the place of butter as the main product of the industry. Cheese has been introduced into the bars, clubs, hotels and what have you throughout the nation, lt has been promoted successfully by the Board, in conjunction with the wine industry. Wine and cheese tasting nights have become a part of Australian society. They are very pleasant nights, too, if I might say so. That is another trend in the industry.
However, one long term matter does concern me, and that is the matter to which I referred earlier - the age group of those who are still in the industry today. The average age of the Australian dairy farmer is 50 years. I believe that in the past the Government has fallen down. Because of inflation and because of high land prices, it is extremely difficult for young people to enter the industry today. I can quote only my own experience. In 1946 or 1947, under a Labor government, when land prices were pegged at £20 an acre for dairy land, I bought some land. About 8 years ago I bought the adjoining 50 acres at £143 an acre. That gives an indication of the rise in land values in Victoria during those years. There is no possible hope of young people entering the industry today unless they go on dad’s farm or unless dad has made a mint and is able to set them up on their own. Any person who tries to enter the dairying industry today with less than $50,000 or $60,000 in cash is probably placing such a millstone around his own, his wife’s and his children’s necks that he would find himself in the position in which the industry was placed in the 1930s. If the industry is to survive the only solution to the problem, as I see it, is for long term loans to be made available at low rates of interest. That would allow young people to enter the industry. Despite the hours that are worked 7 days a week, a considerable number of young people are desirous of entering the industry. The young fellow who is brought up on the farm today cannot get to the city quickly enough, but some of those who have never had the opportunity to be on a farm are breaking their necks to get into the game. The only way that they will be able to do so is for the Government to legislate to provide long term loans at low rates of interest.
I mentioned the situation in Victoria where there is a 2-price industry - one price for those who supply liquid milk and another price for those who supply milk for manufacture. There has been agitation to try to iron out the problem to give all sections of the industry a cut off that most lucrative side of the industry. It is very interesting to note that in April last year, from memory, in the Tasmanian Parliament there was tabled a report of an inquiry into the dairying industry in that State. The report spelled out what those who sat on the Committee believed to be the correct attitude to take for the future of the industry in Tasmania. The report recommended the establishment of a dairy board along similar lines to the authority which operates in Great Britain - a milk marketing authority to take unto itself all the milk. Then users of the milk would purchase it from that body at different prices, according to the end product which they hoped to make from it. This would equalise the position of all dairy farmers. It would mean that every dairy farmer in Tasmania would receive the same price for each gallon of milk supplied.
– They would be following the milky way.
– That is right. It has long been my contention that a great deal of the problems in the industry in Australia today will be solved only by Commonwealth action which I suppose would have to be taken in conjunction with the States. They would have to forego certain rights. It does seem to me to be rather strange that the Commonwealth can set up a single authority to take over wheat. The woolgrowers have long been crying out for a similar kind of authority to take their wool. I believe that the long term future of the industry in Australia would be better served and that many of the parochial attitudes which are expressed from State to State in the industry would be pushed aside if a Commonwealth milk marketing authority were established along the lines of that which has evolved in Great Britain. In that way everybody in the Commonwealth who milks cows would receive the same price for his milk and that milk would be distributed by the marketing authority to the end users. That would get away from the bitterness that prevails in the industry, particularly the bitterness between those who have access to the liquid milk market and those who do not.
– I believe that the Government would be delighted to know that the Opposition does not intend to oppose any of the dairying Bills before the Senate. I take some pleasure in that knowledge, too. I think it is in the genuine interests of all political parties in this place that the dairying industry be supported by the Government, as it has by successive governments over past years. Senator Primmer, who preceded me in the debate, is to be congratulated for the well considered statements he made on these Bills. It was a pleasure to listen to him debate the various aspects of this legislation. I certainly enjoyed listening to him put his views. It is a change to hear well considered views put forward by the Opposition on the dairying industry or any other primary industry. I am prompted in this regard by the declaration which was made by Dr Patterson, after hearing about the policies on primary industry which were formulated at the conference of the Australian Labor Party in Launceston recently, that nobody who knew anything about primary industry attended that conference. I recommend to the Opposition that it take advantage of the information which Senator Primmer has on this subject and ensure that he is present whenever it debates the dairying industry and formulates policies on it.
I thought Senator Primmer was very pessimistic in his comments. I certainly would not agree with a number of the judgments he has arrived at in respect of the dairying industry. He suggested that over a period of years there had been a deterioriation in the amount of support for the dairying industry. I do not believe that that is a fair comment. I believe that over the years, regardless of whether the industry has been at the top of the ladder economically or in the depths of a depression, there has been steady support for it from the Government. Indeed, that support has been forthcoming from the Opposition at the same time. I think Senator Primmer was being unduly pessimistic when he said that he could foresee the time when this country may be importing dairy products. That is the most pessimistic statement I have ever heard from a man who comes from one of the greatest dairying districts in Victoria. Senator Primmer expressed the socialistic attitude which is held, quite fairly, by members of the Opposition that there should be Commonwealth control of the dairying industry. I deprecate the fact that, as a Victorian, he did not acknowledge that if Victoria were given freedom to produce all of the milk products it wished to produce it could provide over and above what the Commonwealth of Australia would require.
One point that should be made is the fact that great interest has been shown in the dairying industry over the years by the public. I have listened, as have other i honourable senators, to the comments which have been made about the inefficiency of the dairying industry in Australia ind how New Zealand is such a wonderful country because it has the ability to produce milk and milk products at such a low price. I have also listened to the criticism which has been offered about the dairying industry in Australia receiving government support by way of a subsidy over a period of many years. I again point out that every political party in this place supports the payment of a bounty to the dairying industry.
Criticism is usually heaped upon the dairy farmer for being the person who gets the benefit from such a subsidy. It should be realised by the public in general that it is not the dairy farmer who gets the benefit of the bounty payments which are made but Australia as a whole. To support my statement I instance the price at which butter has been sold over the years. Butter was being sold in Melbourne in, say, June 1950 at - converting the price to decimal currency - 21.96c per lb. Taking into account the general increase in the consumer price index because of increased wage payments to individuals, the demands of interest payments on moneys borrowed and the ordinary expenditure involved in the production of goods in the food consumption group between 1950 and 1972 - in fact, March of this year - one will find that instead of the price of butter on the Australian market today being, as it is, 55.9c per lb it should be 61.29c per lb. Any industry would be proud of the fact that it produces a product which, although some government assistance is given, it sells on the market at an acceptable price and at a price which is much under that at which most other comparable products in the food group sell. I do not agree with the views of Senator Primmer about the equation of the price on the metropolitan market of whole milk and manufacturing milk. I think that the honourable senator has completely overlooked the fact that a contract is necessary in the supply of wholemilk. Indeed, the producer has to ensure that he produces to his contract for 365 days a year, which is something that the manufacturing milk man does not have to do at the present time, although he may be quite capable of doing it. The man producing milk on a contract basis also has to produce it to a particular standard.
– They are both the same now.
– That was not the position previously. Johnny-come-lately’s in the industry have caused changes to be effected. In saying that I am not referring to Senator Primmer, who has had some 40 years of experience in the game. I suppose he would equate the position by saying that those who have contracts ought now to allow the others to come in and share the market. That is a position which may well come about if the requirements of the industry and the Government that there should be a 2-price quota scheme are met. Reference has been made to the difficulty experienced by newcomers in getting into the market. Once that scheme is. established I suppose we will be in the same position in another 5 or 10 years as we are now in that we will be hearing the same song about how one’s son is prevented from getting into the industry because the whole market has been cornered and there is an allocation of quotas throughout the Commonwealth. Senator Primmer was reasonably pessimistic in his speech on this subject.
I congratulate him because it was quite refreshing to hear an area of view on the dairy industry from the Opposition. At the present time 7 dairying Bills are under consideration by the Senate. They are all of importance to dairying interests. I emphasise the importance of the Dairying Industry Bill to producers generally. I shall address myself to that Bill shortly. The Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill indicates that, for those individuals associated with manufacturing, a maximum bounty of some $800,000 per annum will be maintained each year for the next 5 years. Again this emphasises this Government’s and, indeed, this Parliament’s interest in the industry. The Dairy Research Bill is of great importance in that it widens existing Commonwealth and industry research. It applies to the whole of industry production. On advice from the industry this Bill will widen the scheme. Whereas previously whole milk was not involved under this Bill it is now involved. I feel that there was very little discussion throughout the dairy industry generally relating to the widening of this levy. However, I do know that the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), in his second reading speech, went to great lengths to point out that nearly every sector of the dairy industry, from its executive level, agreed that this approach should be made. Anybody to whom research means something can be proud of the fact that now something in the vicinity of $lm per annum will be provided for research to be made into all aspects of the dairy industry.
Another Bill for our consideration is the Dairying Research Levy Bill which declares a maximum levy of 12c per cwt of butterfat or 0.04c a gallon of whole milk produced and sold. Conversion is based on a butterfat content of 3.6 per cent in whole milk. This appears to be not an unreasonable decision. The Dairy Research Levy Collection Bill is supplementary to those Bills mentioned. It produces the machinery which is relevant to various clauses. Indeed it adheres to those clauses which existed previously regarding the collection of levy. The Bills relating to the industry give us an opportunity to discuss several aspects of the industry which exist today. The extension of the bounty provisions assures, if these Bills are passed, that the industry will, at a minimum rate, receive $27m per annum by way of bounty. The industry welcomes this provision. The previous speaker, Senator Primmer, mentioned that he was sure that this $27m would be adhered to as the maximum amount payable over each of the next 5 years. That may be the attitude of the honourable senator as he reads the Bill. I read the Minister’s comments to indicate that the industry is assured that it will, in each year, receive a minimum of $27m. But subject to the situation of overseas markets where prices are depressed and where returns to the industry are depressed, then that amount will move upwards.
I certainly say that at this time the industry should take every opportunity of pressing the Government for some further comment. In the past the industry has received up to $40. 8m. I think it is to the industry’s credit as well as to the Government’s credit that at a time when prices for the industry’s products have never been higher in this world, it is necessary for the Government to use reason and to prune a reasonable extent the bounty which will be given to the industry. In recent months the discussion on the basis of a scheme for the industry has raised many queries. It is of interest to note - as the previous speaker instanced - that these various Bills come before us without the industry or the Government having agreed to any particular scheme whereby the volume of production of milk may be curtailed, should that be necessary. I consider that this has been a pretty unhappy sort of business over the past 7 or 8 months. Since Australia’s foundation the dairy industry has probably been the main primary industry in the development of Australia. I have instanced that before. Many rural towns have been created purely by the dairy industry because of the decentralisation of Australia’s population. No greater example of this is found than in Victoria where in Gippsland and up into the areas of the Murray River we find that towns in various aspects of production, service industries and retailing are devoted to the good health of the dairy industry.
Over many years the industry has had its ups and downs. I well remember a great friend of our family indicating that he rode through the depression purely on the sale of cream which, in those days, represented about 10s a week for the whole of his family. But because he lived in the country and he had the benefit of all those things which I know you, Mr Deputy President, acknowledge as the benefits of living in rural areas he was able to survive during that time. He was able to see that his family lived healthfully. It was because of his ability to enter into this industry on a small scale, live quietly and attempt to build it up-
– By working long hours.
– By working long hours. Many people in the community do not object to that.
– There is no 40-hour week.
– That is quite correct. The honourable senator has instanced the hardship which many individuals go through when they are associated with the dairy industry. Undoubtedly there has been a mistaken attitude relating to production, not only in the dairy industry but also in many primary industries. When one becomes a primary producer one really does not know what the prospects are for the future year. The problems associated with the returns which one has on an export market and other factors give rise to the certainty that there will be heights and depths in the returns to those individuals who decide to enter into post primary industries. That applies very much to the dairy industry. There was a suggestion some 18 months ago that there should be a cutback in the production of milk. Indeed, many Victorian farmers decided to follow that advice and cut back by 3 per cent. Those professed experts who knew what was going to happen and who had encouraged this Government to advocate that there should be a cutback were entirely wrong, lt is of no use saying that they just made a mistake. The fact is that it would have been better had they kept quiet instead of making that announcement because many farmers in my State of Victoria were harmed by taking that advice and acting in a situation in which a complete change occurred in world markets. From a certain point some 18 months ago, demand for the products of the industry rose to an unexpected height. Up until the present time that situa tion still exists. But the cries that it is necessary that there be some restraint in the industry and perhaps that there should be a quota system gives rise in many areas to the question of whether farmers should look at re-investment in this line of primary industry or whether they should start to dissipate their investment into other areas. Additional investment in the industry may be all very well for those who consider they have advice at the present time. But once again there is perhaps an indication of a surplus of some dairy products on the world market, and it would be well for the industry to take care. Apparently the Minister feels that some quota plan should be introduced. As a Victorian, I am delighted to know that the Victorian Government has given a warning to tread lightly in this matter and not to become involved in stepping in too quickly and establishing a quota plan when the prospects of sales overseas are good.
When we talk about quotas, we talk from an unhappy and unstable point of view. There are enormous prospects for the sale of dairy produce in many areas of the world. We need live marketers. The other day somebody said that 10,000 tons of a certain type of milk could be sold as it was being branded as pets’ milk. What sort of a community are we becoming if it is said that the production of an industry like this must be confined? There are too many fields for the sale of this wonderful health product for anyone to tell us that we must look to confining the product.
– There is one danger. The wheat industry suffered because the wool grower swung to wheat production. We must be careful that the wheat producer does not swing to dairy production.
– Senator Young’s comment is very much to the point. Being a South Australian, he knows the problems of the dairy industry and I think he will agree with me that they are likely to vary greatly. I acknowledge his point about swinging from one industry to another. Perhaps this has been said of the dairy farmer swinging into the vealer or beef line. Again, that is an industry with good prospects in front of it. On present market prospects, the beef industry of Australia can look forward to a profitable future.
As has been mentioned, the 2-price quota scheme has not yet been finalised. I shall quote from the Minister’s speech, which may be taken as authentic. He said:
While there was general agreement that the immediate implementation of the quota proposals was not warranted until market circumstances changed, the Australian Agricultural Council accepted in principle the necessity to plan for a flexible scheme of production control which could be applied when necessary.
He went on to state that the Victorian Government wishes to review this scheme. It is interesting to note that the Victorian Government, through its Department of Agriculture, has proposed a product entitlement scheme. I believe that this scheme, married to the proposals coming forward from the industry in general, will finally be accepted. Let me quote from the general objectives underlying the Victorian scheme. The Victorian authorities believe that the objectives of the scheme should be:
To ensure that, when world prices are depressed and/or Australian exports are increased due to an expansion of production by some Australian dairy factories, the greater part of the depression in Australian returns is borne by those dairy factories which have increased their production.
I suggest that the Victorian Government has been very fair in this matter when one takes into account the enormous production of milk in Victoria and the tremendous expansion that could occur in that State. The note attached to that objective reads:
Under existing arrangements returns to dairy factories which do not expand production are eroded both by any increased ratio of exports to local consumption and by any depression in world prices which increased Australian exports might cause.
Under this proposed Scheme, unless the increased production by some dairy factories itself causes a significant depression in world prices (and this will not always be the case), the effect on returns to factories which do not cause increases in exports will be nil or negligible.
Carrying through with that point, I believe that the Victorian Government in saying that, as production may be lagging to some extent in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, over-production is more likely to occur in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania and, if factories there over-produce and by placing produce on world markets assist in the depression of world markets, those factories and the producers supplying them may have to bear the brunt of a lower price on the market.
In considering the 2-price quota scheme in future, one must go along with the Government’s view that a scheme is necessary. These Bills are based on the fact that the various Ministers who attended the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council agreed to the introduction of a scheme. I support that. However, I point out the dangers when one does not know the expected export volumes or the price that will be obtained on overseas markets. Suffice it to say that it will be many years before the prices obtaining a couple of years ago on world markets for most dairy products are obtained again.
One matter of importance that should be discussed by the Senate was reported on by the Tariff Board recently. All honourable senators would have been interested in the publication of this report within the last week. It relates to non-cheddar cheese under the Dumping and Subsidies Act. In short, the findings of the Tariff Board were:
Along with a number of other senators, I have asked questions in this place a number of times in relation to the export of various cheeses. It is interesting that the Tariff Board has made the suggestion that this dumping has in fact occurred. The Australian Cheese Manufacturers Federation had this to say:
The result of that particular report confirms the claim by Australian cheese manufacturers that production in Australia was being damaged by unfair competition from markets overseas.
This tends to show that in relation to competition with manufacturers in Australia we should be very cautious about having an open door for all products which are likely to be imported into this country.
The other important matter to which I wish to draw the Senate’s attention relates to current discussions on a blend of vegetable oils with butter oil. Honourable senators who read the ‘Bulletin’ of 18th March 1972 would have noticed an article under the heading ‘New margarine butter mix’. I would like to quote at length some of those points, but anyone reading the article will see that it has probably been prompted from the quarter which will derive the greatest benefit from the argument that is presently in vogue relating to a vegetable oils and butter oil mix. Indeed, the discussions should encourage very great and important areas of Australian primary production in the fields of dairying and vegetable oils. I have been distressed at the fact that over the past few months there has been general discussion that the Australian Dairy Produce Board entered into some research agreements throughout Australia to look into this particular product. It would be my view that the encouragement which apparently was given to the Australian Dairy Produce Board and dairy industries generally to look into this matter to see what prospective markets there may be overseas probably will bring about the greatest harm to the dairying industry that has occurred for many years.
I instance to honourable senators the reason for taking that view. In the first place, there are great prospects that a product could be developed and sold as an alternative to the vegetable oil seed. I could perhaps give the official view on how this came about by referring to answers to questions which I have asked of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) relating to this matter. To save time I seek; leave to have a letter I received from the Minister for Primary Industry incorporated in Hansard. The letter gives the general! outline of how research took place into this matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
My thanks for your letter of 19th April 1972 concerning the possible development of an export! trade in butteroil/vegetable oil mixtures.
The interest in this product basically relates to the decision of the Japanese Government in September, 1970, to liberalise the import of but.teroil/vegetable oil mixtures for use as shortening in the manufacture of foodstuffs.
This development stimulated enquiries in Australia from Japanese importers. A series of food missions to apan have been conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry over the past eighteen months. These missions have consisted of leading Australian food processors some of whom have closely examined the apanese market potential for these products.
The liberalisation of the Japanese Government of shortening oil mixtures is a significant development which offers the prospect of a valuable export outlet for the products of the Australian dairy industry and vegetable oilseeds industry. It holds particular significance for the dairy industry in the light of the decision taken by Britain to enter the E.E.C. and the consequent need to seek new markets for dairy products.
The Japanese authorities however have indicated their concern at the possible inflow of large quantities of such products and it would therefore appear that the actual size of the market could be determined by other than purely commercial considerations.
Because of this factor, the Australian Dairy Produce Board decided that it should exercise supervision to ensure that the market is developed in an orderly way as was done with cheese.
The Board has direct responsibility in products consisting of butteroil mixed with other substances. Such products if they contain not less than 40 per cent by weight of butterfat are prescribed as ‘dairy produce’ for the purpose of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act and thus come under the control of the Board. While the Board has been keen to secure new outlets for butter and butteroil, its attitude has been to foster the production of butteroil/vegetable- oil blends only as a last resort.
The difficulty which has arisen in the development of this trade relates to the conflicting legislation between the Commonwealth and States regarding the manufacture of blended butterfat/vegetable oil products. While the manufacture of such products is prohibited under existing State legislation, no such prohibition exists in Commonwealth law. Under Commonwealth law there is no prohibition on the export of products made from blends of butterfat and other fats and oils. Provided an exporter complies with the provisions of the Commonwealth export regulations in respect of the registration of premises, standards, trade descriptions and the like, the export of the composite product would be permitted, given of course, the approval of the Dairy Board if it comes under the Board’s control.
As I indicated in my letter of 11th April, this matter has been the subject of discussions between Commonwealth and State Departments, the Australian Dairy Board and industry and commercial interests. One of the fundamental considerations is the need to protect the interests of the Australian dairy industry and I can assure you that this will be taken fully into account in any decision that might be reached.
You asked which vegetable oils are suitable for blending with butteroil. I am informed that technically a range of edible vegetable oils including sunflower and safflower oils which are produced in Australia could be suitable. The Dairy Board has indicated that at this stage the main enquiries from Japan have been for blends containing palm oil or a mixture of palm coconut oil.
On the question of research being conducted in Australia on vegetable oil mixtures, I am informed some research is being carried out in Australia to test possible consumer reaction to spreads made from combinations of butter and vegetable oils. This work is being carried out under the dairy research programme administered by the Dairy Board. I am not aware of any research that may have been undertaken by margarine manufacturers into butteroil/ vegetable oil mixtures.
Senator J. J. Webster, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600
– I wished to have that document incorporated so that at least I could follow in Hansard the situation in relation to this matter. The proposal originated, I believe, from the fact that Japan expressed an interest in receiving a blend of oils - what was called a shortening. Honourable senators may be interested to know that the proposal apparently received consideration through the decision of the Japanese Government to liberalise certain tariff items. The particular item which was to be liberalised was item 15.13 which is headed ‘Margarine, Imitation Lard and other Prepared Edible Fats’. This was a definition in the terms of the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature. It will be clear from the definition that it is not necessary for a blend of oils to contain butter oils. For the interest of honourable senators I seek leave to incorporate also that definition in Hansard. I think if honourable senators care to read the wording of that pronouncement they will grant leave.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
15.13- MARGARINE, IMITATION LARD AND OTHER PREPARED EDIBLE FATS.
This heading covers solid edible peparations of fats. They are generally mixtures of:
Different animal fats and oils, or
Different vegetable fats and oils, or
Both animal and vegetable fats and oils.
The fats and oils of these mixtures may be previously hydrogenated. They may be worked by emulsification (e.g., with skimmed milk), churning, texturation (pounding with air to modify the texture or crystalline structure), etc., and may contain added lecithin, starch, colouring, flavourings or vitamins. They may also contain butter or lard.
The heading also covers edible preparations made from a single fat or hydrogenated oil similarly worked by emulsification, churning, tex,turation, etc.
The principal preparations of this kind are margarine (made to resemble butter in appearance, consistency, colour, etc.), shortenings (produced from texturised oils or fats) and imitation lard.
The present heading does not include fats and oils simply refined, or both hydrogenated and refined without further treatment; these remain classified in their own respective headings even if they are suitable, as such, for use as food, and even if they are put up for salt by retail. The heading also excludes ‘sweetfat’ (heading 21.07).
The heading further excludes liquid mixtures of vegetable oils (generally classified in heading 15.07 - see the corresponding Explanatory Note), and products obtained by pressing tallow or lard (heading 15.03).
– This and other items to which I have referred previously were under very tight import control in Japan, but the recent decision to liberalise them means that import licensing is no longer necessary. At one stage the duty payable to import butter oil into Japan was some 35 per cent. Under this arrangement a mix of oils - a shortening - may be imported into Japan tariff free. Apparently it became clear that if the liberalisation of this item was to provide an opportunity for blends of oil or a single oil in the form of a shortening to enter the Japanese market, considerable interest would be shown not only by Australia but certainly by the New Zealand dairy industries as well as many other non-government manufacturers. Of course, these manufacturers would not necessarily be only those from Australia and New Zealand.
To the best of my knowledge, the facts were that a representative of the Australian Government was called to the Japanese Department of Agriculture and Fisheries where he was informed, in effect, that although the Japanese Government had liberalised item 15.13 it would be embarrassed and upset if the Australian Government, or any other government, were to endeavour to exploit what perhaps was a mistake on the part of the Japanese Government. Apparently in Japan there is a very close link not only between the various butter interests but also between the butter industry and the margarine industry. We find frequently in Japan that the same company which markets butter and its products also markets and manufactures margarine. In the circumstances - I realise that the Australian Government has adopted this practice on many occasions - it appears to me that any attempt to manufacture a blend of this kind in Australia, or in any other country outside Japan, for import into Japan would be met with fairly stiff resistance from the Japanese Government. Indeed, if the Japanese position is similar to that in Australia, this resistance would be backed by a fairly firm margarine and dairying industry lobby.
There has been a world shortage of dairy products generally, and butter oil has been in short supply. As a result, in Australia and overseas, these products have commanded particularly high prices. I think this has been unfortunate for the Australian dairying industry. I do not know whether the position will revert to normal in a few years, but I have expressed my view that the price will hold for some time to come. It can be reasonably anticipated that when Britain joins the European Common Market butter oil again may be in surplus and its price on world markets will be low. In making a blended product of the kind envisaged by the Australian Dairy Produce Board manufacturers would naturally select a vegetable oil which would provide an acceptable product at the lowest raw material cost. The Japanese trade, as distinct from the Japanese Government, prefers palm oil. Palm oil is available on the world market at the present time at $A146 per ton.
Honourable senators may comprehend the position when I indicate that sunflower oil, which is one of the oils which the Minister for Primary Industry said could be contemplated as a mix, currently is selling at $A338 per ton. It is well known that large scale plantings of palm oil recently have been made in Malaysia, and it is expected that this will have the result of doubling the output of palm oil in the next 5 years with a possible falling off in the price of this oil. Further, if one is to compare the shipping freight rates for the transportation of palm oil in bulk from Port Swettenham in Kuala Lumpur to Sydney or Japanese ports, it shows a $A10 per ton differential in favour of the Japanese ports. I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard a table setting out the freight rates payable on palm oil in bulk.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– If this product were manufactured in Australia it would have to be sent by refrigerated cargo. As the Minister ia aware, that entails an additional cost of $95 a ton. It seems to me that on the general economic facts it is not likely to be a goer in Australia. I do not doubt that those interests which have encouraged the Australian Dairy Produce Board to promote this discussion in Australia, to stimulate an argument between the oil industry and the butter industry, are interests which would benefit only should another spread be introduced to the market in an attempt to break down the general areas of protection that we have for the dairy industry in Australia. It is doubtful, honourable senators will readily agree, that at a time such as this there would be serious consideration in Australia of the mixing of raw materials for sale to Japan. It seems clear that the Japanese Government and the Japanese people would want to purchase the raw oil from us or where it is sold cheapest on the world market. At present that is in Singapore or Malaysia. The Japanese would be doing their own mixing in a very short time.
I am aware that the suggestions made in newspaper articles about 100,000 tons of likely production could very easily lead this great industry into the depths of despair. I have referred to the problems which probably will beset the industry over the next few years. Undoubtedly the oil seed producers are anxious to see that some blending could come about. Certainly the margarine manufacturers are very keen to see it happen because it would give another arrow to their bow. The people opposed to restrictions on margarine production were pretty recklessly pulling figures out of the air in their efforts to achieve public acceptance of the views offered not only about the abolition of restrictions but also in respect of blending. I have mentioned the margarine industry to link the point with the original comments I made about the article in the ‘Bulletin’, because the individuals concerned are referred to in that article. One oilseed crushing company representative has said:
If artificial limits on the use of vegetable oils Were relaxed, Australian consumption of locally produces oils would increase by an estimated 300 per cent to 140,000 tons by 1980.
Such comments encourage oil producers to believe that the dairy industry can be broken down and a lead obtained for oilseed products. Again I say to the industry that if palm oil is $146 a ton, sunflower oil is $330 a ton and safflower oil is over $400 a ton at present, it appears rather doubtful to me that a mix can be obtained of the Australian oils. Not one Australian oil can be used in a mix with butter oil in the production of an acceptable product.
– Are you speaking for the oil industry now?
– -I am saying that oils have a very important part to play and I would not deny them access to the market. But palm oil is acceptable in blending and it is $146 a ton. It is hard to think that a product will be acceptable when the oils will not blend. Apart from the lack of ability to blend, the present high prices of oils are against that move. I think it is a rather dangerous situation, and the oilseed people should look very closely not to the comments made in the newspapers but with caution and care at the comments made by various Departments of Agriculture around Australia.
– After hearing your comments on vegetable oils they will not take much notice of you.
– Two senators, other than the senator from Tasmania, have commented on this particular industry. I have here 3 tables from the Australian Dairy Produce Report of 1971 which I would like to have incorporated in Hansard. They set out the annual production of milk in Australia, the numbers of dairy cows in milk and dry, and milk production per cow. I ask for leave to incorporate them in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There been no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– My home State of Victoria at present produces more than SO per cent of Australia’s total milk production. In Victoria and Tasmania the number of dairy cows has increased in the last 10 years and that is to be the subject of a very important discussion. Every other State has lowered its numbers of dairy cows. However, the table on milk production per cow is important in considering the efficiency of the industry. In 1969-70 the production per cow in New South Wales was 462 gallons; Queensland 371 gallons; Western Australia 543 gallons; Tasmania 650 galons - a great advance on the other States; and Victoria 712 gallons, a great increase on the other States. To South Australia’s credit, it has the highest production per cow of 724 gallons. I have cited those figures only to protect the industry from the comment so often made that the New Zealand dairy producer is much more efficient than his Australian counterpart. I have here a schedule of the annual production per cow in specified countries. The total indicates that in 1970 production per cow was 535 gallons.
– How does that compare with the Australian average?
– The point to be gained from the tables to which I have referred comes through in a variety of ways. The Minister in his second reading speech said that the industry representatives consider that their proposals for a 2-price quota scheme will achieve a desired objective whilst maintaining a sound industry in each State. We realise the politics of that particular comment. However we must consider the volume of production in every State. The answer to Senator Little’s question is that the average production per head in Australia is 583 gallons and the New Zealand figure is 535 gallons per head. But there are States in Australia which are made for producing milk. It would be foolish for us to set up for example, a peanut marketing board and fix a production quota for each State and then say that we want a viable peanut industry in every State in Australia. That may not be a particularly good illustration to use in this debate. But I do say that milk can be produced more efficiently per head in South Australia and Victoria than anywhere else in the world and production in those 2 States certainly should not be held back. I commend the Bills to the Senate.
– I will not take up the time that the 2 previous speakers took in this debate because I do not pose as an expert in the dairying industry. I merely wish to convey to the Senate the approval of the Democratic Labor Party of the Bills now before the Senate. Obviously these Bills were introduced because they were desired by the dairying industry. That does not mean that every dairy farmer would be in total agreement with all the propositions contained in them; it would be a strange Australia if they were. There are conflicting interests in this industry just as there are in all other industries, but in the main it is very obvious that the dairying industry needs this sort of thing. It needs this legislation if it is to compete in the very sophisticated world dairy products market. It certainly needs the assistance of a properly constituted body such as the Australian Dairy Produce Board. I think the Board has been an enormous advantage to the industry over the years.
I have one or two complaints to draw to the attention of the Senate. I have perused the most recent report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board and in it there is a photograph of a Japanese store with a great display of cheese, together with the information that we export 32 per cent of Japan’s total imports of cheese - 10,782 metric tons. In the report there is another photograph showing a gift that was made to the Federal parliamentary dining room. That gift is a cheese counter which at present is in the members’ dining room. The only thing wrong is that one never sees any cheese on it. I wonder whether the display counters in the stores in Japan are treated in the same manner in which we treat this gift in the parliamentary dining room? If they were I wonder whether the sale of Australian cheese in Japan would total 10,000 metric tons yearly, as it does today, or a similar negligible quantity such as we see displayed in the parliamentary dining room? I do not want to be a carping critic, Mr Acting Deputy President, but if the cheese counter on display in the members’ dining room is not creating sufficient interest to warrant being kept there, what would be wrong with moving it into the guests’ dining room? It may stimulate the minds of people who dine there into deciding to have cheese at the conclusion of their meal rather than sweets. Probably cheese would be better for their health. Displaying this gift there may help promote a truly Australian cheese industry. If we cannot use this gift in the parliamentary dining room it should be given to someone else. I have no doubt that a livewire manager of a top class restaurant would be delighted to have it so that he could promote the sale in his establishment of a product from which considerable profits are to be made.
Having made that criticism of ourselves I want to draw attention to some of the facts as I see them and particularly to some of those which have emerged during this debate. I do not want to introduce a new cliche but I suggest that when one works in an industry or is committed to an industry one tends to make a holy cow out of it. I do not think that, for its own good, we should make a holy cow of the dairy industry. I do not believe that it should be protected from criticism, from competition, and from this, that and the other. I have heard remarks which indicate that there would be an attitude of complete despondency in Australia if at some time we had to co-operate with New Zealand perhaps during a period when we were exporting more than we should. By that I mean that we would have to maintain our home markets for dairy products by importing from New Zealand.
This takes my mind back to a period in history when New Zealand sent a representative to the original conference called to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The gentleman sent to represent New Zealand died on the boat on the way home. According to history he was returning with the intention of reporting favourably on the suggestion that New Zealand should be part of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Because of the transport available in those days it was impossible to get another man here in time to make a survey and to submit a report to the people of New Zealand. In all probability New Zealand would have been a State of the Commonwealth of Australia because it was suggested that the report was very favourable to New Zealand joining the Commonwealth.
We live in the Pacific area. This nation is the largest and most prosperous in that area and it must accept more responsibility for our smaller neighbours in the years to come. The country that must share that responsibility with us is New Zealand because she is much more developed than Fiji, Samoa and the other Pacific countries. In the next 5 years New Zealand will be faced with a period of stress that we in this country will not face. We fear the circumstances that will develop as a result of Britain entering the European Economic Community but what it will mean to Australia is as nothing compared to what it will mean to New Zealand.
To look at the effect of Britain’s entry on this particular industry alone it is necessary to look at the figures. New Zealand, small as it is and with a population much smaller than that of Australia, exceeds us in the production of many dairy products. As the total economy of New Zealand is so much smaller than ours, one must appreciate the enormous importance it will be to her to lose many of the European markets on which her industry has been built. Perhaps we will have a choice in the near future. For those reasons I advocate that no matter what industry we are considering we must not create an attitude of prejudice towards New Zealand. Rather we should have a relationship which is in the interests of both countries. New Zealand cannot be allowed to become a poverty stricken neighbour of Australia, and she must have opportunities to help her through the difficult period that will face her in the next 5 to 10 years. Because of absolute necessity, there must be a great deal of help from Australia.
I agree with Senator Webster that it would seem from the figures that there are several States in Australia that are more attuned to the production of dairy products than others. I accept the figures he quoted because they come from the report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. I interjected while he was speaking and asked him to tell us the average production in New Zealand per cow as compared with the Australian figure. I did so in order that we would not be led to comparing only 2 States in Australia with the average production in New Zealand. From the information that Senator Webster provided honourable senators must certainly conclude that the capacity of New Zealand to produce dairy products efficiently is much greater than that of many of the States of Australia. I am not advocating that we interfere with our Australian industry in any way. But I believe that, as with many other industries, because of the entirely new world marketing setup that will exist in this industry we have a period of adjustment through which we must go. I think that we must sensibly guide our industries through this period in co-operation with those countries which are our immediate neighbours and whose survival is almost as much a matter of importance and interest to us as is our own survival.
We do not want to hold a fixed idea that we are forever competitors and must succeed irrespective of whatever happens to the industries of a comparable and neighbouring country such as New Zealand. We will have to accept some responsibility to assist if New Zealand’s difficulties become intolerable for her, as we are the only people who really have a self-interest in seeing that New Zealand is not destroyed in an economic sense by the enormously difficult problems - they are even greater than ours - that she will inherit from the change of marketing patterns in the United Kingdom. I congratulate the Australian Dairy Produce Board on the work it has done. I notice that the statistical evidence in the Board’s report lists the countries of production of dairy products, the countries to which we export and the quantities that are exported. I have no desire to read them in the Senate. But it seems to me to be significant that the Board has listed 77 countries to which we export cheese. I suggest that we pause tor a moment to think how we would ever penetrate the markets of so many countries without an authority such as the Australian Dairy Produce Board.
Several of the examples quoted are very interesting. Among them is the tremendous increase in the export of cheese to Japan that has taken place in the last 3 years. The amount of cheese exported to Japan has risen from 5,773 tons to 10,974 tons. Also on the encouraging side there is the example of a small country, Taiwan, which has very good trading relations with Australia. Australian cheese exports to Taiwan almost doubled from 32 tons in 1967-68 to 61 tons in 1970-71. On the disappointing side, among the very much smaller markets is Laos. We can understand the reasons for this. In 1967-68 we had only a toe-hold in Laos. We sent 2 tons of cheese to that country, but have been unable to send any more cheese since then. The situation in Cambodia is no different. In my view there is one very important omission here. Possibly there would be others. I mention this because I was in the country recently. The consumption of our cheese in Japan has doubled in 3 years. But South Korea, which has a population of 35 million and which has a very deep affection for this country because of the role we played in its struggle against the unwarranted aggression of the Russian-backed North Koreans some years ago, does not import any cheese at all from Australia. I do not know whether that country imports cheese or whether its people have developed a taste for it.
I mention that country to show the very important markets that probably can still be tapped in South East Asia. If a market does not already exist in this area, possibly a market could be created, particularly if we spread around a few more cheese trolleys and they were used, which is not the case with the one in our parliamentary dining room. South Korea, with its 35 million people, offers enormous prospects for Australian primary products. I believe that we should be developing an interest in those markets as they are markets which are available to us today and ones where the very high shipping costs are of least danger to us because the distances to them are shorter. They are the ones that we can develop. I notice in examining the details of the staff of the Australian Dairy Produce Board that included as a member of the staff is a Mr M. Okazaki. I imagine from Mr Okazaki’s name that he is of
Japanese origin. It seems to me to be a very sensible procedure for the Board to adopt to have on its staff somebody from a country in which we are trying to develop, and so successfully developing, new markets for the products.
It is true that much of this success is dependent on the improvement in the standard of living and the prosperity of these countries. When Japan was emerging from the last war and was in a rather parlous situation, American capital and know-how coming into the country unquestionably brought to the attention of the Japanese people the very high nutritional value and high protein content of foods such as cheese and milk products. The position now is that the children whose school lunches were then prepared, perhaps more with the idea of keeping them alive than of lifting their standard of health, have now grown to be the purchasers in Japan. They recognise the value of these products. In that there may be a lesson for a country such as Australia. Indeed, I think that it may be a good venture, when we are wondering what to do with our surplus stocks of dairy products, to invest some of them in, if not free distribution, almost free distribution, particularly to school children in the less well-to-do countries that may in the very near future develop an economy which will enable them to become customers for these products.
In developing this industry in Australia we went through phases when it had tremendous problems. Those problems have developed with the industry. We can only expect that. A 5-year plan is now suggested. We started these plans back in 1947. It would be remarkable if what was suitable for 1947 was still suitable in this country today. We have changed a lot since 1947. I have no doubt that in the next 20 to 30 years we will change just as much. I think it is very necessary to keep an industry such as this in a state in which it is prepared to meet each challenge. Otherwise it will fall behind. The necessary drive may be lost from what has made a scheme successful in one period. The circumstances will change and the approach to various problems as they develop will need to change. The report contains the suggestion that there should be a quota system. I am not sufficiently expert in my knowledge of the industry to express an opinion about that. But it has been illustrated that in the marketing of primary products - this applies to many other industries - we just cannot have haphazard production. If we do, we have haphazard marketing. When our goods are competing against themselves for a limited market that is available, the industry as such can be destroyed. My only point about this is that we should not approach any of these schemes with prejudice because they have not been used previously; nor should we approach them with the idea that, because they succeeded in meeting a situation of a day and age of 5 or 10 years ago, they will of necessity be successful today.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party believes that these Bills represent a reasonable approach, as suggested by the industry. We recognise the internal problems that exist between the butter fat and export industry and the whole milk industry. The solution may be, as has been suggested, to spread the whole milk industry over the whole of the dairy industry, irrespective of how far the farmers may be from the centres of large distribution and irrespective of the capacity of each farmer and his problem of maintaining a constant supply of milk to the market, which is so essential in a whole milk industry - not from season to season but from day to day. That is the philosophy and principle behind the contracts that go with the supply of whole milk.
I take no sides in the controversy that goes on in the dairying industry over these things, but I would not subscribe to the view that anybody in the dairying industry will receive benefits if those, who are prosperous in their own right are induced to become dependent upon the type of assistance which, quite rightly, has to be conceded to those who are producing in competition with countries which have cheaper production costs, cheaper labour costs and even cheaper land values than we have. Theses factors make it necessary that assistance by the community as a whole be granted to those who are producing wholly and solely for an export market. I believe that those are minor problems when compared with the overall problems such as the need for the industry to compete successfully on world markets. The Bills are in the interests of the people in the industry, according to those who seem to be representative of the industry. We propose to support the Bills as they stand.
– I do not propose to detain the Senate for a lengthy period with mv speech on these Bills because I think we have heard a fair expression of the views of both sides of the Senate on their attitude to the 7 Bills. I wish to bring out one or two points which have not been mentioned so far or which, when they have been mentioned, perhaps have had a slighly erroneous value placed on them. The most important Bill is the first one - the Dairying Industry Bill - which proposes to continue for another period of 5 years the stabilisation scheme which has been in existence for 3 periods of 5 years. This was done at the request of the dairying industry. I noted that when the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) introduced this Bill he spent more time telling us about the dairying industry’s proposals than about what was in the Bill. One of the proposals of the dairying industry was to have the subsidy increased to a minimum of $40.8m instead of the $27m which the Bill proposes should be continued. The 2-price quota scheme wa9 another proposal which was suggested by the industry but which was not included in the Bill. Actually the Minister dealt with the contents of the Bill only in the final paragraphs of his second reading speech.
I express a certain measure of caution at the optimistic attitude that is prevailing with regard to the dairying industry. As Senator Webster said a little earlier today, about 18 months ago Australia was faced with the position of a world surplus of milk products - butter and cheese. The surplus was held mainly in the European Economic Community. It was a threat to the export of our dairy products. So the dairying industry requested that considerable aid be given to that industry in order to meet the situation which was then facing it of a lack and loss of export markets. A lot of work was done by the various States to try to rehabilitate dairy farmers, to try to amalgamate farms into viable units and so on, so that the situation could be met. Suddenly the world surplus disappeared. One of the main reasons why it disappeared was that the European Economic
Community started to unload, at ridiculous prices, butter and cheese in areas where we had considered we had quite a fair market, with the result that the tremendous sale of these products brought about the situation in which the previous surplus of 70,000 tons was so reduced that we could again come into the market.
Senator Webster expressed an optimistic attitude with regard to world prospects for dairy products. I share that attitude, but I feel that we should be cautious. We should not let ourselves run away with this feeling of optimism. We should not expand the industry wherever we can, because the situation as far as milk products are concered is very delicate. I put forward the positive approach that we should endeavour, in the research project which is envisaged in one of the Bills, to widen and continue the research operations. We should be continually looking at the possibility of producing more end products Which are protein rich, because this is what the world will require. We should be producing more cheeses, more butter instead of whole milk or powder. They are the important avenues. These points should be conveyed through the research authorities to the industry, so that it can understand what is required of it and can make arrangements in the production line accordingly. I think that is very important.
I also sound a warning in regard to the bounties paid to the dairying industry. They will be continued. On previous occasions when we have dealt with bounties for the dairying industry I have mentioned that they are paid on the amount of the commodity that is produced. That means that those who are in need, those who have small production farms and are On the borderline of existence and need assistance, get a meagre amount because of the small quantity of the commodity that they produce, whereas the farm which is producing a large amount of butter fat or whole milk receives the same amount per lb or per gallon as the small farm does. That means that the larger farms get the majority of the bounty. The bounty is to be continued. The matter should be looked at closely by the Government to see whether it would be possible to direct these measures of assistance to where they are so greatly needed. I do not, for one moment, think that because we are channelling finance into these areas there should be created a situation in which the number of small dairy farms will increase. The number should be controlled so that the problem is not expanded. The problem should be contained for the time being until those farms go out of existence by the effluxion of time. That is the kind of thing which should be done.
I think the levy, consideration of which is being requested in the research Bills. is a very good move. The industry itself supports the proposition. This legislation will enable the amount of finance which is obtained from the industry by way of the levy to be increased by about one-third. In the region of Sim will be available then for research work. My only objection to this legislation is that I feel that 2 of the clauses of the Dairy Research Levy Collection Bill need clarification. I will deal with those clauses at the Committee stage. But they do not really affect the operation of the legislation as a whole. I believe that because of the extension of the stabilisation scheme, the operation of the research levy, the method of collection and so on, the 7 dairying Bills now before the Senate are worthy measures. From that point of view, I have no hesitation in supporting them.
– in reply - I wish to say only a few words in reply. Firstly, I thank those honourable senators who have made a contribution to the debate and I thank the Senate for the passage of this legislation without amendment. A great deal has been said this afternoon about the Bills. The discussion has ranged over a wide area. No doubt that has been due to the fact that the dairying industry could experience great changes in the next 5 years. Those changes probably will be brought about by Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community, which could have serious implications for Australia’s butter and cheese trade with Britain. I do not want to traverse the whole of the debate on the motion for the second reading of this legislation. The only Bill on which there will be discussion at the Committee stage is, I understand, the Dairy Research Levy Collection Bill. As there is no objection by the Opposition or the Australian Democratic Labor Party to the measure, I do not think I should comment any further on them. I suggest that the question be put on each of the 7 Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1457), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1459), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1460), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1462), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman :
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1462), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 9 May (vide page 1462), on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 - by leave - taken together.
– I have a query in relation to clause 6 (3.). I think that to show the effect of this sub-clause it is necessary to look at clause 5. After we have adopted the other 6 Bills we find that there is a pattern. The intention is to raise a levy on whole milk. This Bill provides for the collection of that levy. Clause 5 of this Bill states:
Therefore the levy becomes a liability on the producer. It is incurred 28 days after the sale of the whole milk. Clause 6 (1.) states:
Under this clause the purchaser becomes liable for the levy on that milk which was sold some 28 days previously. He has to pay the Commonwealth if the levy has not been paid. How he knows whether it has been paid I do not know. But she takes over the responsibility. Then we come to clause 6 (3.) which states: (3.) A person may, notwithstanding any law of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth or any contract entered into before the commencement of this Act, refuse to purchase whole milk or butter fat from the producer of the whole milk or butter fat unless the producer first provides the first-mentioned person with the funds necessary for the due payment, on behalf of the producer, of levy in respect of the whole milk or butter fat, as the case may be.
My first question is: What meaning must be given to the words ‘producer first provides’? To me this provision seems wrong. It seems an injustice that a producer if he gets behind in payment of the levy on milk which was purchased 28 days previously and is in default to the Commonwealth has to produce the payment to the purchaser before the milk can be purchased. One would question how the producer can get out of this Commonwealth liability. How can he pay the levy if he cannot sell his current production of milk? He owes an amount on milk which was sold 28 days previously. Before he can sell more milk he has to provide the purchaser with the money which he owes to the Commonwealth. If he cannot do that he has either to drink his own milk or feed it to the pigs. It has been suggested that the purchaser may make an arrangement for the money, to be paid to the Commonwealth to be deducted from current sales. I would welcome a statement from the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) as to what is intended by sub-clause (3.). We find that sub-clause (5.) states: (5.) Where, at any time, the producer of whole milk or butter fat who has sold the whole milk or butter fat to another person pays to the other person an amount in respect of levy, in respect of the whole milk or butter fat, as the case may be, the producer is discharged from liability to pay (hat levy to the same extent as if the payment bad been made by him at that time to the Commonwealth, but the discharge does not affect any liability of the other person under sub-section (1.) of this section.
What does that mean? If the amount which the producer has to pay to the purchaser has been paid, it would appear, under sub-clause (5.), that he is still responsible for the payment, under subclause (1.). Perhaps the Minister could give us some explanation of this. I ask honourable senators to note that sub-clause (7.) states: (7.) Where, under this section, levy is paid on behalf of the producer of whole milk or butter fat by, or an amount in respect of levy payable by, the producer of whole milk or butter fat is recovered by the Commonwealth from, another person, the producer is, to the extent of the amount so paid or recovered, discharged from so much of his liability to the Commonwealth to pay that levy as has not previously been discharged by virtue of sub-section (5.) of this section.
It seems to me that although clause 6 (1.) makes the payment the liability of the purchaser, the responsibility is always upon the producer even though the payment has been made to the purchaser. If the purchaser defaults it would appear that there is still some responsibility remaining on the producer. Sub-clause (8.) is similar to clauses which I have opposed in other legislation. It states: (8.) Where the Minister is satisfied that it would, by reason of special circumstances, be unreasonable to require a person to pay, or to pay in full, an amount payable by him under subsection (1.) of this section, the Minister may release that person in whole or in part from his liability,, but such a release does not affect the liability of any other person.
The Regulations and Ordinances Committee continually disallows regulations because of an absence of an objective criteria so that power is left to the Minister. One that was never brought to the Senate - the Regulations and Ordinances Committee did not insist upon it - related to bus fares payable by school children in Canberra. The bus fare is not payable if, in the opinion of the Minister, hardship has been shown. I believe that the criterion should be ‘if in fact there is hardship’.
– Somebody must determine it. It must be somebody’s judgment, ultimately.
– I think so. If lt were a case of hardship, it would be unreasonable to ask the person to pay. A judgment is made by a Minister or departmental head, but if the Minister or departmental head acts capriciously or contrary to the facts of the case-
– Or arbitrarily.
– Yes, then there must be an appeal to the court, and I think there would be under common law.
The appeal would be on the ground that it was unreasonable to expect the appellant to pay. However, on the criterion in this sub-clause it would have to be proved to the satisfaction of the judge that the Minister should have been satisfied that there was hardship. Whether it is unreasonable or not, if the Minister is satisfied that it was unreasonable to expect payment he can give a release. If the Minister is not satisfied, he cannot give it. It should be competent for any person to appeal against such a decision by the Minister on the basis that it is unreasonable for the appellant to pay, not on the basis of whether the Minister is so satisfied.
– A court would probably require the discretion to be exercised on reasonable grounds, even if that was not spelt out.
– I doubt that the court can depart from the literal meaning of the particular words. It is set out very plainly. On a previous occasion a legal authority in this chamber said that he would not believe it was impossible for a magistrate to do anything, after seeing many of the things that magistrates had done. I suppose this wording would be sufficient, as Senator Byrne said, before a lenient magistrate, but one might get the exceptional magistrate who would insist upon applying it. A person who should not have to pay the levy because of the circumstances in which he finds himself might then have to pay it, and he would have no prospect of appealing successfully because he would not be able to establish before the court that the Minister was satisfied of his hardship. I believe that is wrong.
I have criticised this sort of provision on every occasion that it has come before the Senate. It occurs in another part of this Bill. I will deal with that when we come to it. I hope at some time to get support for my contention. I do not think this subclause will be used harshly against the individual, but the fact remains that the wording would permit of it. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) will not be in office much longer, I would respectfully suggest, and I would expect the incoming Minister to be more lenient; but one never knows what will happen in the fortunes of politics. So, as this legislation will be in force for a great deal longer than any individual Minister will hold office, I ask the Minister to give consideration to my submission.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking Precedence of Government Business at 8 p.m.
(8.0) - Notice of motion No. 1, which stands in my name, states:
That the Senate agrees in principle that Standing Order 64 relating to Urgency Motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subjectshould not exceed 2 hours.
It is interesting to reveal that I put the motion down on 2nd September 1970. That is a long time ago in anyone’s book. The fact is that - this is rather a digression from the matter of substance, but I think it is relevant to bring out the point - new procedures have been introduced into the Senate by which, for instance, on Thursday mornings motions on the business paper pertaining to decisions or reports that have been put down by Senate committees, are dealt with. The usual form is that a report is introduced, the motion is proposed that the Senate should take note of it, and the debate is adjourned. Therefore, in one sense we are making some impact on the Business Paper in respect of items under the headings ‘Orders of the Day’ and ‘General Business’. Equally during this sitting, pursuant to a promise which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and by common consent, we have set about removing a whole host of items which have been on the notice paper under the 2 headings that I have just mentioned. This has cleared up to a significant extent a good deal of the business on the notice paper. So, in the fullness of time, the first 2 motions under General Business tonight, which are in my name, have come up for determination.
I think that it is appropriate also for me to say that I have always regarded myself, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, as one who has taken some initiative. If I may use the term in the totality of the family circle of the Senate, in some sense I have sometimes been the fall guy in respect of matters that I put forward. I recognise that whatever I do is done in my desire to facilitate the handling of the work and management of the Senate to the ultimate good of the Senate. Sometimes the Senate in its judgment says that I am not on the right target. When the Senate makes its determination, I accept that decision as the will of the Senate. I think that everybody recognises that I am expressing a point of view and that I am really putting up something on the notice paper for us to look at.
For instance, last week I gave notice of a motion that I proposed to move on Tuesday of this week in relation to sitting hours for the remainder of the autumn session. The Senate expressed its view on Tuesday last that what I had put down was premature. I was not here on that occasion; I was called away urgently. But I accepted that decision as the view of the Senate; it does not distress me. I had the obligation to put the matter up for consideration working on the basis that if nobody takes the initiative on these matters at some time our procedures must be retarded.
The motion under discussion relates to standing order 64 which is fairly long. I do not think that I should read all of it. I will paraphrase it by indicating that this standing order which relates to urgency motions says, in effect, that a certain course must be followed in relation to proposing a matter for discussion and moving an urgency motion. When the matter is raised, it must be supported by 4 honourable senators rising in their places. The time set aside for debate on an urgency motion is 3 hours.
The pattern of the Senate has changed significantly during the life of this Parliament. It has changed significantly in terms of the volume of work that we do as the second chamber, stemming from the other place. It has changed in pattern also in relation to our own initiatives in the Senate. These initiatives have seen the creation of some 7 special Standing Committees to which we have been referring matters for inquiry and report. Indeed, notice of motion No. 3 under general business for discussion tonight, standing in the name of Senator Devitt, is a motion for the appointment of a joint select committee. So, in addition to our committee work, motions are proposed in relation to the appointment of joint committees. I think that any honourable senator would recognise the demands that are being put upon our time, our efforts and our enthusiasm in order to perform the work that we, as a Senate, are required to do. It is obvious that, unless a significant and dramatic change occurs in relation to the days and times of sitting, we will be under tremendous pressure. So it is that I have proposed this motion.
I do not wish to speak at any great length on my motion because I think that we are all fairly well seized of the implications of it. The present programme followed by the Senate each week is along these lines: When the Senate meets on Tuesday, following petitions and notices of motion, question time is called on. The length of question time is not limited here as it is in the other place to three-quarters of an hour. Sometimes question time in the Senate runs for an hour and a quarter. With all the best will in the world and the co-operation that honourable senators give to the Chair, usually between one hour and one and a quarter hours are devoted to question time. Also, the Senate does not place the time limits on the length of speeches at the second reading stage consideration of a Bill that are imposed in the other place. If an honourable senator feels that he has a case to present he may speak for one hour and then obtain an extension of half an hour. In all, he can speak for one and a half hours.
Additionally, the work of the various committees is coming forward to the Senate by way of reports. These reports are the subject of debate. A new system has been introduced to enable consideration of these reports on a Thursday. Today was a classic example of what now happens. Question time lasted for one hour. Then the consideration of reports from Senate committees was brought on. Two hours was available today for this purpose and the Senate has agreed that such discussions should conclude 3 hours after the meeting time of the Senate. This means that it is not until 3.15 in the afternoon that the Senate turns to a consideration of Government business. The Senate has only the time between 3.15 and 5.45 to consider Government business because after the evening suspension of the sitting general business, which is not of necessity Government business, is called on. So, if honourable senators accept the concept that one of the objectives of the role of the Senate - the prime purpose of the Senate - is to deal with Government Bills and to pass judgment on the Bills that come to the Senate from the other place, on a Thursday approximately 2i hours are available for consideration of Government business.
The fact is that, whilst a couple of hours are available to discuss Government business on a Thursday, the Senate has reached a point in its history when it is confronted with the need for a little selfdiscipline in the management of its affairs otherwise it will face a situation in which the dates and times of sitting should be extended. I and others, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), believe there is a strong feeling among senators that we should not sit later than the normal times for adjournment, which are 10.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 11 p.m. on Wednesdays, unless there is absolute justification existing for doing so. So I have come to the view - this is not a party view but, as I see it, a view that I am putting forward as a guinea pig, if you like - that we should be looking to some of the problems that we have in attempting to meet the situation.
Bearing in mind what I have said about Thursdays, I turn now to Wednesdays. The Senate does not meet on Wednesdays until 3 o’clock. An hour is set aside for question time, which takes us to 4 o’clock. Then if we have an urgency motion to discuss, which takes up another 3 hours, we are again in the situation where it is half way through Wednesday night before we get to Government Business. The term ‘Government Business’ does not mean that it is exclusive to the Government. ‘Government Business’ means that Party leaders, back benchers and independent senators all have to face up to the responsibility of dealing with Bills introduced as Government Business. At the present time we have on the business paper the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in relation to which I know that the Opposition has some very keen debaters. The discussion on that Bill may go on for some days. Certain honourable senators are now conducting a private conversation. I might not be very interesting to listen to but I expect to have a little bit of quiet, otherwise I might as well sit down. It is hopeless for me to try to make a case if every honourable senator is making his own case privately.
– What should we do if somebody comes across to discuss a matter with us?
The place to discuss it while somebody is on his feet, is out in the corridor. I am asking honourable senators to put their minds seriously to matters associated with the management of this place, our own place. There are no politics in this. If <ve are to deal with the messages that come to us - after all, that is our prime purpose as the second chamber, the House of review - there will not be sufficient time to do so in the hours that we normally tit, bearing in mind that on Wednesdays we discuss urgency motions, bearing in mind that on Thursday mornings 3 hours are set aside to discuss committee reports, and bearing in mind that on Thursday nights General Business takes precedence. So I am saying that we could with ‘ reason reduce the debating time on urgency motions by one hour. The more speakers there are in an urgency debate, provided they are brief, the greater the advantage. That advantage can be obtained even though the debating time is reduced as my motion proposes.
Having said that, I will not press my case any further. I believe that there is a case which we all must consider in an individual way, not in a party way, because it is not a party issue. We could have an urgency motion every day, and we have to decide whether 2 hours is not a reasonable time. I believe that it is. When we are dealing with a complex Bill which has 200 clauses, if you like, or even a small number of clauses, the debate might go on, but in relation to an urgency motion I have the feeling that the debating time could be reduced by one hour. This would be helpful in the end, not only to me as Leader of the Government but to us all, because we all have a responsibility. Because a Government Bill is before the chamber, that does not absolve anybody sitting on the cross benches, behind me, or anywhere else.
– This is not a government Bill.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONNo, it is not a government BiH. I am not suggesting that the honourable senators who sit behind me, those who sit behind
Senator Murphy or those who sit behind SenatorGair will treat this as a government issue or as a non-government issue. This is a matter of free personal expression. Therefore, without wanting to labour the point, I suggest that my motion that we should reduce the time for debating urgency motions to 2 hours is valid.
– First of all, as far as the Opposition is concerned the vote on this matter will be a free vote, not a vote on party lines. Secondly, for myself 1 agree with the motion that has been proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I understand the argument against it. The argument is that we should not ever reduce times for debate. The counter-argument is that we have to balance the time of speaking with the time allotted for each subject matter if we are to deal in any rational way with the whole host of matters with which we have to deal. I think that the Senate fails when it has a notice paper cluttered up with a great number of matters which are never disposed of during the course of a legislative period or of a Parliament. That is a serious break down in efficiency. 1 believe that urgency motions are important. I believe also that the 3 hours set aside for such debates is an inhibition to the bringing on of urgency motions. I feel that if the time were shorter we probably would have more urgency motions before the chamber and more subject matters would be dealt with. But because the bringing on of an urgency motion involves a very serious interruption to the progress of business, there is a tendency not to initiate urgency debates, whereas if the time were shorter I think that perhaps we would have more of them and more subject matters would be discussed. I do not think it is a matter about which we should have to argue a great deal because I think honourable senators have thought about these matters. I state my views for what they are. I propose to support the motion.
-I must rise to oppose–
– I rise to a point of order. Mr Deputy President, when this matter was discussed previously on the report of the Standing Orders Committee, an amendment - amendment (3) - was moved in these terms:
Leave out ‘the mover and the Minister first speaking shall not exceed 30 minutes each’, insert the mover and the Senator next speaking shall not exceed 20 minutes each’.
To that amendment I moved a further amendment to alter the 20 minutes to 30 minutes. I know that we are discussing Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s notice of motion, but I am wondering what the real object of it is, because what I have just outlined is the motion that was discussed when we were last considering standing order 64. My point of order is that I have proposed an amendment to amendment (3) which appears in the report of the Standing Orders Committee. In substance what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has done tonight is to move amendment (5). Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s notice of motion reads:
That the Senate agrees in principle that standing order 64 relating to urgency motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subject should not exceed 2 hours.
The Committee recommended that proposed amendment (5) should read:
Leave out ‘Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed 3 hours’, insert Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed 2 hours’.
That amendment is now before the Senate out of turn and amendment (3) is being circumvented. My point of order is that in the previous debate on this subject we had reached proposed amendment (3) on page 3 of the report. Now the Minister, by way of notice of motion, has circumvented that by moving in substance proposed amendment (5).
– Speaking to the point of order, I do not think that Senator Cant needs to get into an aggressive mood over this matter. In fairness, and speaking directly to the point of order, my motion on the notice paper is dated 2nd September 1970. The document that Senator Cant is referring to has on the front of it ‘August 1971’. My understanding is that we did not deal with amendment (5).
– It was referred back to the Standing Orders Committee.
– Even if it was referred back, talking in terms of time precedence, the Committee should not have been allowed to deal with it, because in the order of precedence it was a subject that was already covered by a notice of motion in my name on the notice paper. I think we can get a decision without taking points of order. All we get is an expression of view. In terms of principle, in any event, my understanding is that it is a matter which would go back to the Committee ultimately and perhaps have some significance when we come to deal with the item. I repeat for the guidance of Senator Cant that my notice of motion was given almont 12 months before this document was produced.
– The whole of standing order 64 was sent to the Standing Orders Committee as a result of my disagreement with a ruling of the President. That is finished.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - My attention has been drawn to the journals of the Senate. On Wednesday 22nd March this matter was considered and on the motion of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson resolutions 1, 2 and 3 as reported were adopted. Item 4 of the Standing Orders Committee’s report was referred back to that Committee for further consideration and therefore the matter of amendments that Senator Cant raises is covered by this particular decision of the Committee. In those circumstancen I cannot support the point of order that is raised by Senator Cant.
– What about the notice of motion relating to standing order 64? Does that also go back to the Committee or does it stay on the notice paper?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The fact that Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion is standing on the notice paper as No. 1 places it before the Senate as a properly constituted motion and it should be considered by the Senate.
– As I had the call before the question was raised of whether the motion is in order, I would like to resume my remarks in the same conciliatory attitude as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Sir Kenneth Anderson) has shown. We are seeking a harmonious discussion on what is best for the Senate. I am a member of the Standing Orders Committee. The Committee discussed at some length the amount of time that should be allowed to debate urgency motions. My memory is not sufficiently good to remember when we commenced discussion on it but the records show that the notice of motion that prompted this debate was moved on 2nd September 1970. The report of the i Standing Orders Committee was presented the following year. Knowing the length of i time between meetings, I would think that the Standing Orders Committee would be considering this question at the very time that the notice of motion was given.
The notice of motion could well have been inspired by a discussion and possibly the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee was that the mover of an urgency motion and the first Minister to reply should each of given half an hour, as standing order 64 now provides. Each other speaker in the debate was to be given quarter of an hour and the Standing Orders Committee was either considering a recommendation or had decided to present a recommendation that the time allowed to the mover of the motion and the first Minister to reply should be reduced to 20 minutes, and that the time of all other senators speaking in the debate should be reduced to 10 minutes.
We were told that this would permit more speakers to enter the debate and this could justify a reduction of the overall time of the debate from 3 hours to 2 hours. About the same number of speakers could enter the debate but speak for a shorter time to present a case. In that light I think there was some justification for perhaps considering a motion to reduce the time from 3 hours to 2 hours. When the report of the Standing Orders Committee came before the Senate it recommended a reduction of the allotted time from half an hour to 20 minutes and from quarter of an hour to 10 minutes, although the Committee favoured by its decision deleting the words ‘half an hour’. The effect of Senator Cant’s motion was to reinstate the words deleted and to change the provision relating to a Minister to cover the senator first replying. Senator Cant moved to reinstate the allotted times which are at present provided under standing order 64.
The debate was adjourned after we had considered all the other recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee. The matter was referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for reconsideration. When it was referred back I appealed to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson not to allow this matter to remain undecided or to hang in the air for some considerable time. Hansard will show that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson gave me an assurance that there would be an early meeting to consider the matter. That is some considerable time ago and there has not been a meeting.
If we are considering cutting down the allotted time, and a decision has to be made on that at some time, a case perhaps can be made out for cutting down the overall time of the debate. The Standing Orders Committee is dealing with one section and now an attempt is being made for the Parliament to deal with another section. If this motion is carried tonight it will not alter standing order 64, but the Senate will agree in principle to the reduction of time, a matter which then has to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee to change the standing order in accordance with the view of the Senate.
So we achieve nothing other than giving an instruction, I take it, to the Standing Orders Committee at the very time that the Committee is considering the whole question of urgency motions. Either a Minister or the President of the Senate has the power to call the Standing Orders Committee together at any time to consider a matter that was unresolved by the Senate and referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. The Government has adopted this approach rather than give the Standing Orders Committee the opportunity to do the job that it was appointed to do. The Government has a majority of members on the Standing Orders Committee but rather than give it a free hand in deciding this issue the Government is seeking to issue back door instructions to the Committee. The Government is seeking to bring influence to bear on a question that the Senate already has referred to the Committee for consideration.
If there were a desire for an amicable approach to this question the obvious thing to do would be to refer notices of motion 1 and 2 to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration in conjunction with what the Senate previously referred to the Committee, which included the amendment that Senator Cant moved in relation to this question of urgency motions. If we lack confidence in the Standing Orders Committee to do what is right and just and in the best interests of the Senate, we will proceed with the method suggested and the approach put in the argument presented by the Leader of the Government.
Prior to the Standing Orders Committee discussing this question a number of matters of urgency had been raised in this chamber. I think that my Party at one time, under certain leadership, had the odd impression that it could win elections by the number of matters of urgency that it put on the notice paper for discussion. Then there came the time when the Democratic Labor Party, following the election of Senator Kane, had sufficient numbers to stand in this place in justification of the raising of matters of urgency. Some sections were fearful about how this power would be used or abused by the Democratic Labor Party. A number of matters of urgency were raised by the Democratic Labor Party. One was raised at the end of the session for discussion at the beginning of the next session.
– That showed initiative.
– That showed that the Democratic Labor Party, following the increase in its numbers in this place, was inclined to the fallacious view previously held by the Australian Labor Party, that the raising of matters of urgency would win support and win elections. So we had to go through that period when a series of matters of urgency were raised for discussion. I do not think anyone now has the idea that discussions on urgent matters will influence elections, no matter how many subjects are raised. Looking back on what has happened this session, the fears we had about matters of urgency have been unfounded. They have not been raised very often. I remember we discussed one matter of urgency the other day but there has not been a great number of such debates. Therefore, if the Senate resolves to restrict the time for them by an hour, it possibly would save us three or four hours a session, in view of the fact that opinions about matters of urgency have settled down.
Since I have been a senator I have been fighting against restrictions being imposed on back benchers. This is where the whole problem arises. Honourable senators who raise a matter of urgency believe that the question is of national importance; therefore they want it discussed by the Senate.
– Important in their judgment.
– Important in their judgment, but they might be wrong. The senator who raises it is supported in most cases by other honourable senators from his State where the particular matter of urgency is relevant or is of particular interest. At present, under the Standing Orders, if the first 2 speakers take up ohe first of the 3 hours allowed, another 4 speakers, 2 from each side of the House, can speak for the remaining 2 hours. The aim of the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is to reduce the period allotted from 3 hours to 2 hours and thus reduce the number of speakers by 2 from each side. As the matters usually under discussion are of national importance, the order of those privileged to speak will run from the Leader of the Senate or Leader of the Opposition to the lower echelons of each party. The insignificant back benchers are pushed aside in the scramble for recognition as being capable of contributing to a debate on a matter of urgency that comes before the Senate.
Consider the debate on the proposed take-over of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd by Thomas Nationwide Transport. Every honourable senator thought that that matter was of sufficient importance to be referred to a Senate committee. An urgency motion was moved to that effect and it received the support of the entire Senate. Surely no-one can say that anyone wasted time by speaking in that debate.
Turning now to the question of time generally, I think that I am as cognisant as anyone else of the need to get through the business of the Senate. We come here at the beginning of the session with nothing to do. Debates on matters of urgency help the Government to fill in the time when there is no work for the Senate to do. The only time the Senate is busy is at the end of the session. The proposal put recently by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for the Senate to sit longer hours was considered premature. On the day in question the Senate had 8 Bills on its plate, but 7 of those Bills were to be taken together and one was up for debate on that day. Last night we were left with 7 Bills on the notice paper, all of which were to be discussed together and therefore we had only one Bill for discussion.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is now on the notice paper and it will take us a considerable amount of time. The importance of the Bill warrants a lengthy debate. Now, because we are up against time, the Government wants to alter the Standing Orders and commit us at every future session of Parliament; it wants to reduce the hours allocated for the exercise of the rights of back benchers. I submit, with all respect, that there is no justification for this. If there is a need to alter the Standing Orders the sponsor of such a motion is faced with the responsibility of showing that some mischief is occurring which needs remedial action. This has not been shown. In how many cases has a reduction in the rights under the Standing Orders been justified? Has it been shown in the present case that the notice paper has been cluttered up as a result of time taken in debating matters of urgency? I submit that the proposition moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson would save 2 or 3 hours a session but it would mean sacrificing the rights of many honourable senators. No justification has been shown for adopting this motion and the same applies to the next notice of motion set. out under General Business. We should not adopt this motion at this stage. In order to have a proper evaluation of what is needed to get through the business of the Senate we should refer this matter to the Standing Orders Committee, in all fairness, for consideration along with consideration of the length of speaking times.
– The Democratic Labor Party will support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). Action was taken by the Senate, and rightly so, in the last year or two to ensure that time was set apart for general business and for the consideration of reports presented by standing and select committees. Having done so, and having promoted the interests of rank and file senators, we think it is a fair thing for the interests of the Government to be given consideration in this case. I believe that everything that needs to be said in relation to an urgency motion can be said in 2 hours. The object of an urgency motion is to give notice of a matter which is regarded as being of extreme public importance. I think that what is wanted is achieved when, in the space of 2 hours, the Senate indicates from all sides what it feels in regard to that matter and the matter receives publicity as an urgency motion. We think that 2 hours is quite enough.
I am fortified in that view by the fact that I have never been bored so much in all my life as I have been by the speeches in the closing stages of the 3 hours allotted for some urgency motions. Everybody knows that on most occasions the Whip is running around trying to get somebody to fill in. I think that consideration also has to be given to the fact that, whereas in the old days in the Senate there was one Opposition party which used the practice of moving urgency motions, now there are 2 parties in opposition which exercise that privilege. Whilst it has been said by Senator Cavanagh that that privilege has not been abused or over-used in the last few weeks, there is always the possibility that matters will arise and that this will happen. I have been in the Senate chamber on quite a number of occasions when both the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party have placed before the President letters in regard to urgency motions. Therefore, we think that what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is asking for is only fair. We propose to support it.
– I am conscious of the fact that the number of honourable senators in this place was increased in 1949 and that the Standing Orders have remained substantially the same with 24 more senators to take up the debating time. I am also conscious of the amount of time that is wasted at the commencement of every session. I do not blame the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) for this. He has to wait until matters come from another place and are presented in this place. But at the end of every session we are faced with a bulk of legislation. It is no good saying that it is not important. If it was not important it would not be before the Parliament. I do not propose to argue about limiting the time to 2 hours. I will vote for that. But I am concerned about the manoeuvring that has taken place in regard to this question. 1 am not canvassing your ruling in any way, Mr Deputy President. But there was before the Senate on a previous occasion a clear cut issue on which I moved an amendment. That amendment was not brought back to this chamber. It was decided that the whole of item 4 would be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. That Committee has not seen it as yet.
I would have thought that ethics would have demanded that the proposal contained in notice of motion No. 1 also would have gone back to the Standing Orders Committee. If an ethical case was being made out, everything that was before the Senate with respect to standing order 64 should have been returned to the Standing Orders Committee. However, that was not done. You, Mr Deputy President, have ruled that it need not have been done and that the question before the Chair is notice of motion No. 1. I have heard the remarks made here and have been here long enough to know what goes on in relation to urgency motions. There are occasions when the Whip is looking for speakers because 5 speakers will be required on an urgency motion. On other occasions there are too many speakers and the Whip has to make a choice and decide who he will allow to speak. So, I think one cancels out the other. I do not accept that this is a reason for a reduction of time.
My concern is this: Once the Leader of the Government has secured in principle a reduction of speaking time from 3 hours to 2 hours, does he then propose to let the Standing Orders Committee determine whether the length of speeches will be 30 minutes, 20 minutes, IS minutes or 10 minutes, or are we to have from faim another notice of motion setting out the time for speeches? In one instance the determination of the period of debate that will be allowed is taken out of the hands of the Committee. As Senator Cavanagh has said, this was done by the issuing of an instruction to the Standing Orders Committee. But nobody says what is to be done in regard to the length of speeches. Before a vote is taken on this question of limiting the debating time for urgency motions to 2 hours, I would like to know the intentions of the Leader of the Government with respect to the length of speeches. Whilst I have said that I would support the reduction of time to 2 hours, I must qualify that by saying that it will depend on the answer to the question I have asked with respect to the length of speeches. I am not satisfied that if a matter of urgency is introduced supporting speakers will be able to make out a case in regard to it in 10 minutes.
I would much prefer, if there is to be a reduction in debating time and if part of a standing order is to deal with the length of speeches, that the times remain at 30 minutes and 15 minutes and that the number of speakers from each side be reduced from 5 to 3. I think that is much more sensible. It will meet the case put by Senator McManus in which he said that the Whip runs around looking for speakers. I deny that that happens in every case. There are many cases when this does not happen. Until I know what is to happen about the length of speeches, I am a little confused. In one instance, the Leader of the Government wants the Senate to determine an issue in principle. That is all that is involved. It is not changing any standing order. Will he bring the other question before the Senate as a matter of principle and let us have a look at it, or will that one be left to the discretion of the Standing Orders Committee? Why do not we deal with the matter in the proper manner? Everything that .Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson wants to do is contained in the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee. I think that that is the proper way in which it should be dealt with.
Senator TURNBULL (Tasmania) 8.48) - I support the motion, but I want to raise a couple of matters concerning it. We are now faced with the position that there are 8 senators on the cross benches. They represent 12i per cent of the members of the Senate. If there are roughly 8 speakers on an urgency motion, we are entitled to have one speaker. But that never happens. The myth-
– Do you want to cut the time down to make sure you never get a speaker?
– No, I wish to make a suggestion. I think that 2 hours is quite long enough for an urgency motion. Senator Cavanagh is interjecting again. If he wants to put his thoughts later, I will let him do that. The Whip goes around looking for people to speak solely because his party does not want a vote to be taken on the matter. He keeps getting senators to speak in order to fill in time so that the time allotted for the urgency motion will expire. There is no reason why the speeches should not stop once the matter has been placed before the Senate and a vote then be taken. Usually the Government does not want a vote taken on the matter. Therefore it asks senators, even independent senators, to speak on it. That is the only time we are asked whether we want to speak. I think it is absurd that we do not get a chance to speak, especially when the matter is a technical one. I feel that I have a right to speak on a health matter, if I wish to do so, but I have never been given the opportunity-
– The honourable senator has a right to speak.
– I have a right to speak, but I cannot get my name on the list of speakers. Only 8 speakers are listed. The Government Whip says: ‘We have 4 from the Government side’ and the Opposition Whip says: ‘We have 4 from the Opposition side. We cannot give you one of our places’. Firstly they want to know which side we will support. Then we have to argue with the Whip for that side to see whether we can get our names on the list. Invariably the answer is: ‘We already have our speakers who have swotted up on the subject, and they want to speak’. That excludes us from speaking on sometimes important matters. I think the practice should be stopped. If a matter is said to be a non-party matter, then let it be a nonparty matter and let the independent senators have a chance to speak when they wish to do so. It is not often that they wish to speak, but when there are special subjects on which they feel they have a right to speak, they should be entitled to speak.
I suggest that 10 minutes is ample time for the seconder of the motion to speak. After the initial speaker from each side has completed his speech there is repetition from the Labor side and from the Liberal side because the following speakers merely repeat what the initial speaker for each side has said. The independent senators are still denied the right to speak. I maintain that this practice should cease and that the Chair-
– How would they get the chance to speak if the debate were limited to 2 hours?
– The Chair should make sure that they get the chance. It is the duty of the Chair to make sure that people who wish to speak have their chance and are not prevented by the Whips from speaking. That is the only reason I wanted to speak tonight. I think that 2 hours is long enough to debate a matter of urgency. I do not think Senator Murphy quite supported that contention because he said that if the motion were passed, the time for debating a matter of urgency would be reduced and the Senate would be able to deal with more business, which would mean that more matters of urgency could be raised. More matters of urgency will be raised, so more time will be wasted. The time for debate will be cut short so that more matters can be raised with the result that less time will be spent on government business. However, I feel that 2 hours is ample time to debate a matter of urgency. I put it to you, Mr Deputy President, and to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), that when a technical matter or a special matter is raised on which the independent senators and the Democratic Labor Party senators wish to speak, they have the same rights as have other senators. I hope that my speech bears fruit.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I interpose at this stage because there seems to be misapprehension on the part of Senator Turnbull about the role of and arrangements made between the Whips. While the arrangements have been accepted by the Chair as a way of ensuring an orderly debate, I assure the honourable senator that if one of the inde pendent senators whose name was not on the list rose to speak, the Chair would give consideration to calling him.
– I will be brief because I believe that a brief speech is the most effective speech.
– Will the honourable senator take only 10 minutes?
– Yes, 10 minutes. 1 believe that a lot of people can say what they have to say in 10 minutes. After 10 minutes they are only repeating themselves. One reason why people leave this chamber is because of long, boring speeches which are full of repetition. All honourable senators, including myself, should discipline themselves to say what has to be said in 10 minutes or half an hour. The sooner they do that, the better the speeches in this place will be and the far more effective they will be.
– The honourable senator has 7 minutes to go.
– 1 will be less than 7 minutes. I assure Senator Wheeldon of that. 1 support the motion that the debate on matters of urgency should not exceed 2 hours, i have listened to many such debates and I have wondered how many had a sense of urgency about them. But we are all politicians and we engage in political stunts from time to time. That is fair enough. As Senator Turnbull said, after the first 2 or 3 speakers in an urgency debate all that the remaining speakers do is fill in time for the remainder of the 3 hours. They repeat what somebody else has said. I assure Senator Turnbull that any time he wants to speak in my place on a matter of urgency he may do so with the greatest of pleasure. Like many honourable senators on both sides, 1 speak on matters of urgency only because the Whips on both sides want speakers. We speak only to take up time. I assure Senator Devitt, who is trying to interject, that I have listened to him and many others and all they have said was that somebody else had said, and said much better.
We should discipline ourselves in this place. Two hours is enough to debate a matter of urgency. We would be saying no more in 3 hours, we would be saying less in 4 hours and we would be saying even less in 5 hours. The sooner we realise this and the sooner we get on with the business of the Senate, the better. We might be able to debate more matters of urgency than we do now, but the sooner we debate the important matters - Senate committee reports and matters of concern to the Senate and the public - the better, because while 1 have been a senator, very few matters of urgency have had any sense of urgency about them or have been so important that any member of the public would take an interest in them.
– I feel that I must correct one thing in particular. Tonight Senator Cavanagh and Senator Cant stated that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, should have accepted the fact that when the Committee of the Whole debated the report of the Standing Orders Committee the amendments to standing order 64, including amendment No. 5, should have ‘been referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. 1 point out to the Senate that the statement made by the honourable senators is not correct, because the Committee of the Whole did not deal with amendment No. 5. I think that I should read out that amendment for the purpose of the record. Amendment (5) reads:
Leave out ‘Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed 3 hours’, insert Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed 2 hours’.
– What became of that amendment?
– -Tht amendment was not discussed by the Committee. The debate was adjourned before we dealt with it. I turn to the notice of motion we are debating tonight and which is in the name of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. He has moved:
That the Senate agrees in principle that standing order 64 relating to urgency, motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subject should not exceed 2 hours.
What we are discussing is entirely different from some of the arguments that were raised tonight, particularly by Senator Cavanagh. He dealt at length with the break up of the 2 hours during which the matter can be debated. That is not the subject under discussion. Tonight we are discussing the length of the debate. I think I should point out that the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee was that a debate on a matter of urgency should be reduced to 2 hours from the previous 3 hours; that the 2 initial speakers should have 20 minutes each, instead cf the previous 30 minutes each, and that further speakers should have 10 minutes each, instead of the previous 15 minutes each. Worked out mathematically, in the 2- hour debate - I am doing this to reply to Senator Cavanagh - 2 speakers take 20 minutes each. That makes 40 minutes. That leaves 1 hour 20 minutes, which is taken up by a series of speakers who have not more than 10 minutes each. That allows another 12 speakers, so a total of 14 speakers can participate in the 2 hours allotted for that debate. Under the present system, with a 3-hour debate, the 2 initial speakers take half an hour each. That makes a total of 1 hour. That leaves 2 hours to be allotted to a number of speakers who can speak for a maximum of 15 minutes each. That gives a total of 8 other speakers and a grand total of 10 speakers in that debate. So if the proposal for a time limit of 2 hours on an urgency debate were adopted a minimum of 14 speakers could participate in the debate whereas under the existing provision for a 3- hour debate the maximum number of speakers contributing to the debate - unless some voluntarily cut down their speaking time - is 10. That counters the argument of Senator Cavanagh that the acceptance of this proposal would restrict the opportunity of honourable senators to participate in an urgency debate in this chamber. I have mentioned that merely because it was brought into the debate by Senator Cavanagh.
What I do want to say in particular is that I think it is essential that we give serious consideration to reducing the time for urgency motions to 2 hours. The restructuring of the Senate because of the establishment of the committee system as we have it today has brought time strains. The Senate also decided recently to set aside time for the debating of committee reports. These are another very important aspect of the structure of the Senate today. I agree with Senator Sim and the other honourable senators who have said tonight that if we put our minds to it we can quite adequately cover the points we wish to make in an urgency debate in 10 minutes. I support Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion.
– I listened with great interest to Senator Young’s contribution to the debate. Usually his contribution to debates in this chamber is worth while, but apparently he is no Einstein when it comes to arithmetic. He tried to tell us tonight that if Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion were carried it would mean that a minimum of 14 speakers could participate in an urgency debate.
– He meant if the time limit on speeches were cut down.
– But we are not debating that tonight and that decision will not be made tonight.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. For the sake of clarification I think I should point out that I made those comments merely in reply to Senator Cavanagh’s remarks and that I pointed out that a reduction in the time limit on speeches was not involved in this debate.
– I accept Senator Young’s apology. The position is if the majority of the honourable senators in this place were to vote tonight in favour of the motion it would mean that the Senate could be restricted the opportunity to participate in an urgency debate to 8 speakers. We cannot say what is going to happen next week, next year or in 10 years’ time. What concerns me is the fact that the rights of honourable senators are being niggled away at continually. It appears as if the Senate is trying to get in line with the other place insofar as the restriction of the length of debates is concerned.
– A closed shop.
– A closed shop, yes. We could get into the situation where all public debate in this chamber is cut out and where in a corner of Parliament House which is not readily accessible to the public the business of the Senate is carried on. I would object most strongly to that. I am not prepared to vote for this motion nor will I vote for the contingencies that Senator Young has indicated will follow. Some honourable senators in this chamber could not change their mind in 10 minutes let alone make a speech; yet it is proposed that we should be confined to a time limit of 10 minutes when speaking on a matter of urgency that a political party or an Independent senator in this chamber has brought before the chamber. The Senate is being asked to agree to the proposal that the initiator of a debate on a matter of urgency be required to confine his argument to 20 minutes and his supporters or opponents be required to confine their remarks to 10 minutes. That is what Senator Young has been saying to us tonight. If this motion is carried it will follow naturally that every speaker in an urgency debate will have his peaking time reduced by one third to conform with the 2-hour limit. Such a situation should be regarded as intolerable by a House which over the years - certainly since I have been a member of it - has prided itself on the fact that it is not tied to the kind of restrictions that exist in another place.
We could be called upon to conform with it chapter and verse if we agree to accept this proposition. The other place has foolishly reduced the speaking time of each speaker on a Bill to 20 minutes. We could eventually get somebody saying in this place: ‘If members of the House of Representatives can put their argument in 20 minutes why can we not do the same?’ Eventually we will get to the stage where we come into this place, finish our business as quickly as possible, put on our hats and go home. That is not the role that the Senate should play. We should oppose any inroads into the present conditions. I am an old trade unionist. I never gave away any of the conditions of my fellow workers for some other gain. One should not give away one’s conditions in order to make gains. This motion could result in a short-circuiting of the processes of public debate; a short-circuiting of the processes of democracy and a short-circuiting of the opportunities of members of this House to express their views adequately and properly. I venture to say that no serious argument can be adequately submitted in 10 minutes. Virtually all one can say in that time is: ‘Hullo, how are you, and goodbye’.
The Senate has not been embarrassed by the fact that at present urgency motions take 3 hours to dispose of. At the end of a session the Senate may sit for one week longer than the other place, but that is not because we talk for too long in this place; it is because the Government of the day - and it may well happen when the Labor Party is in government - builds up a great pile of Bills for presentation to the Parliament in the last fortnight of a session. Usually in that great pile of Bills is a Bill on a very controversial subjct which takes several days to debate, with the result that perhaps 20 minor Bills have to be put through in the remaining time. The reason for that is not because we talk for 3 hours On an urgency motion; it is because of the system that has been operating for centuries in politics - certainly since federation in this country. Governments do not carry Out their proper role and introduce legislation into the Parliament in an orderly manner.
The position today is that the Senate has 2 Bills on its notice paper for debate. One is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which will come before this House next week. The dairying industry Bills were disposed of today. The Government has no Other business at this stage, unless further legislation has been introduced in the last One hour and 5 minutes. So what is the reason for the hurry and rush to cut back our speaking time and the time limit of debates on urgency motions? If urgency motions were being debated in this chamber every day of the week and honourable senators were being facetious about their use of the privilege of initiating an urgency debate, I could understand why the Government would try to curb the length of such debates. But the simple fact is that this privilege is very rarely taken advantage of. It is not used to try to make political capital. Certainly honourable senators have not abused the privilege of moving urgency motions. Such debates take 3 hours only. It has now been proposed that the time limit be reduced by one-third and Senator Young has suggested as a natural corollary to agreeing to such a proposal that there should be a reduction of onethird in the time limit of all speakers in such a debate, lt would be making a joke of the whole procedure of democracy if this motion were carried. I oppose it strenuously. I hope that the Senate is not foolish enough to carry it.
Senator YOUNG (South Australia)- I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy President. Senator Poyser reminded me that my arithmetic was not very good. I did a quick mental calculation at the time. I took one hour and 20 minutes to be 120 minutes and divided that by 10. Unfortunately the figure arrived at by doing it in that way is not quite the same as the figure I would have arrived at if I had divided 80 minutes by 10. What Senator Poyser has said about my arithmetic tonight is correct.
– I ask: In a discussion of this kind what is so sacred about 3 hours when we are discussing an urgency motion? If honourable senators have no ideas about the sacrosanct nature of 3 hours I ask: What is so sacred about Wednesday, which is about the only day on which urgency motions come forward? Everybody knows perfectly well why urgency motions come forward on a Wednesday.
– What is wrong with that? What is wrong with capturing the air?
– There is nothing wrong with that at all but what I am saying is that honourable senators are arguing about 2, 3, 4 and 5 hours. I ask honourable senators whether the urgency motions which have been put forward in the last session have really been urgency motions. Everybody knows what the motions are which are put forward. The debate has not taken into account the changed nature and changed role of the Senate and the new measures to which it is devoting its time and attention. I support the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has put down tonight. It provides that an urgency motion debate should not exceed 2 hours. Let us adjust the speaking time of each honourable senator accordingly. I submit that 2 hours is ample time in which to discuss an urgency motion. If a matter has sufficient urgency and it has not been fully discussed on the Wednesday then let us continue the discussion on Thursday when we are not on the air. We will see how urgent it is. Honourable senators then can devote time and attention to it. Sometimes these matters are described as matters of public importance. Today for 2 hours we have been debating a Senate committee report. Everybody knows that there are a whole string of Senate committee reports which we are not going to get through. Would it not be better if we discussed these matters to which the Senate has given a great deal of time and attention? I think that 2 hours is plenty of time for a debate on a matter of urgency. I think that a shorter speaking time for every individual senator in which to put a point succinctly, quickly and completely is a much better way in which to use not only the time of the Senate but also the time of people who listen and who are involved. Therefore I very strongly support the motion.
– At the risk of being termed undemocratic by my colleague Senator Poyser, I am going to support the motion which has been presented tonight. We talk about retaining the privileges which we have as honourable senators when we get up to speak. W; talk about retaining all the other rights which we have in this chamber. How much do we object when Other subjects are brought along and when other ways of dealing with our business is found which adds to the amount that we have to do during the time we are in this place? At this moment there is no question of sitting any more weeks in the year. We still endeavour to do the same amount of business plus extra business in the same time. I point out, as has been mentioned in passing by Senator Davidson, that we agreed that we would take 2 hours on Thursday to deal with committee reports. This is something extra which takes away from the opportunity of conducting Government Business. If we look at the notice paper, apart from the business of the senate and Government business which we always propose to get through - although we do not always complete all the items of Government business - we see that we then go to general business, followed by orders of the day.
By the time we complete our session in a week or so we will find that a lot of these items will remain undebated. This is because we are always whittling away our time here by adding, at our wish, further ways of dealing with business. In debating a Bill we deal with a lot of matters concerned in the Bill. An urgency motion deals with only one subject. If we cannot develop it in the time which is proposed - that is “half an hour - then we are not doing very well. If we cannot support our case in a quarter of an hour we are not doing very well. If we want to have more speakers than 5 from each side, as has been suggested, then the matter is not really of urgency. It is only an opportunity to get up and talk. It seems to me that it is quite reasonable, logical and an advance on the way in which we conduct our business here if we reduce the time for an urgency debate to 2 hours as is proposed. This is a matter of principle. We are not deciding that we are going to do this. It would still have to go before the Standing Orders Committee for a recommendation. But we would be establishing this as a principle for the Standing Orders Committee to investigate thoroughly. I support the motion as suggested.
– I rise to make a brief contribution to this debate. I do so because of something which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) mentioned when putting his motion tonight. One of the matters which he mentioned was the length of question time in the Senate compared with the length of question time in another place. He used the illustration that, on the average, we take about 30 minutes longer to have questions answered in the Senate. One of the reasons why question time is extended in the Senate is that on very many occasions 2 Ministers in particular when giving answers use question time to launch an attack upon the Australian Labor Party and the leaders of the trade union movement.
– And to answer Dorothy Dixers.
– I was going to say that, Senator Cavanagh. They answer Dorothy Dix questions. I am quite sure of my facts when I say this. I think that if the Leader of the Government is so concerned about the shortage of time in which to get through the business of this chamber he should have a talk to those Ministers and ask them to co-operate with him so that the business of Australia hi the Senate can be conducted in a quicker and better manner. Senator Davidson asked: Why are urgency motions always brought forward on a Wednesday? He accused the Labor Party, in particular, of trying to get the air and to put a case across.I think that if the honourable senator looks back through Hansard, particularly over the time that I have been here - it has not been very long - he will see that some of the most bitter attacks on the Labor Party and the trade union movement in answer to questions have been launched on a Wednesday when we are on the air.
I also bring to the notice of the Senate that during this session the Government really has not been concerned about the time available in which to get through the business. I had a look back through Hansard and I found that on Wednesday, 22nd May, the motion for the adjournment was moved 42 minutes earlier than usual. I am not going to canvass why that happened. I think we all know why it happened that night. Everybody in the Senate was aware that the Press gallery was full. That is why the adjournment was suddenly popped on us. I also found that on Tuesday, 28th March, and Wednesday, 29th March, we had been scheduled to sit but the business of 2 full days was lost because the Government wanted to get up. Honourable senators were here in Canberra. A lot of us had made arrangements in our States in accordance with our belief that the Senate would sit. Out of the blue we were told that there was no business and we were not going to sit. So another 2 full days were lost this session. Again, on Thursday, 13th April, we rose at 5.47 p.m. Another 2½ hours of business time was lost. I think that these are things which ought to be taken into consideration when proposals are put before the Senate to cut down the time in which backbenchers are allowed to put their cases before Parliament. I am quite in agreement with the case which Senator Cavanagh has put before the Senate tonight.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (9.20) - in reply - I moved this motion, and I tried hard to do so in an atmosphere of restraint. I feel bound to say that in the generality that is how we are looking at it. Nevertheless, some things have been said that are completely inaccurate, and it would be a shame to leave them in Hansard without correction. For instance, Senator Poyser said that there were only a certain number of items on the business paper.
– Government Business items.
– There are 12 items of Government Business on today’s business paper.
– He might have looked at yesterday’s notice paper.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONDo not try to get him off the hook. If one makes statements, one has to live with them. Senator Poyser is an honest man, and he will admit that he said that there were only 4 or 5 items on the business paper and they had been dealt with. In fact they were not all dealt with.
– Look at them.
– I shall read them. This is the business paper for today, Thursday, 18th May 1972: No. 1. Dairying Industry Bill; No. 2, Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill; No. 3, Dairying
– Incorporate them.
– Would the honourable senator like me to have them incorporated in Hansard?
– Yes. They were all dealt with in one debate.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONNo, that is not what the honourable senator said. Everybody here can bear witness to what he said. At the start of today’s proceedings there were 12 Bills on the business paper. This sort of point does not do much for the argument on the motion, either in putting it or in rebutting it. That is not what we are here for. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I will have a statement of the Bills on the business paper incorporated in Hansard. (The document read as follows): 1 Dairying Industry Bill 1972- (No. 312) - (Minister for Air): Second ReadingAdjourned debate (from 9 May 1972)- (Senator Poke). 2 Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1972- (No. 313)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972) - (Senator Poke). 3 Dairying Research Bill 1972-(No. 314)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972) - (Senator Poke). 4 Dairying Research Levy Bill 1972- (No. 315) (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972)- (Senator Poke). 5 Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Bill 1972- (No. 317)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972) - (Senator Poke). 6 Butter Fat Levy Bill 1972- (No. 318) - (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972) - (Senator Poke) 7 Dairy Research Levy Collection Bill 1972- (No. 319)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 9 May 1972) - (Senator Poke) 8 Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72. 1972- (No. 323)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 17 May 1972) - (Senator Wilkinson). 9 Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1971-72. 1972- (No. 324) - (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 17 May 1972) - (Senator Wilkinson). 10 Supply Bill (No. 1) 1972-73. 1972- (No. 325)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Ajourned debate (from 17 May 1972)- (Senator Wilkinson) 11 Supply Bill (No. 2) 1972-73. 1972- (No. 326)- (Minister for Air): Second Reading - Ajourned debate (from 17 May 1972) - (Senator Wilkinson) 12 Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972- (No. 320) - (Attorney-General): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 17 May 1972)- (Senator Bishop) 13 Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972 - (No. 321) - (Attorney-General): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 17 May 1972)- (Senator Bishop). 14 Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1972 -(No. 322) - (Attorney-General): Second Reading - Adjourned debate (from 17 May 1972) - (Senator Bishop).
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONSenator McLaren referred to occasions on which we have not sat on Thursday nights. I remind him that the Senate has never adjourned early on a Thursday without the concurrence of the Opposition. I would have thought that the concurrence of the Opposition meant the concurrence of members of the Opposition. The purpose of this motion is not to discuss points of this kind, but if people say things they must be tested. Thursday night is for General Business. Under the arrangement that we entered into, the consensus sometimes was that we would not sit on Thursday night and deal with General Business. This was done in the spirit in which we work here. We work in the non-party sense on Thursday night.
Having made that point, I can now come to the matter of substance. A famous orator, when asked how long he took in making a speech, replied that it depended on the time he had to prepare it. He enlarged on this by saying that if he had a lot of time for preparation he could make a speech in half an hour, but with little time for preparation his speech would take an hour. I think that sometimes happens here. I believe that any senator who has done his homework, marshalled his points and determined the structure of his speech should be able to deliver it in a shorter time than he can when speaking off the cuff. However that aspect is not under debate at the present time. We are talking in terms of a decision of principle on standing order 64 in relation to time. If carried, the motion will be a resolution in principle. Sure enough, as Senator Cant says, it does not relate to the speaking times allowed in a debate on an urgency motion. As I understand it, the Standing Orders Committee will consider the matter, having the advantage of a decision in principle which has been made by the Senate in plenary session.
I set out to ascertain the will of the Senate. If the Senate says by vote, as the motion in my name says, that it agrees in principle that standing order 64 relating to urgency motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subject should not exceed 2 hours, then I think that will be helpful to us in the ultimate resolution of other views that may be put forward on the Standing Orders. After all, I must not reflect upon some matter that has not been dealt with. I must say that, with Senator Cavanagh expressing dissent, the motion represents the view of the Standing Orders Committee at the present time. He is entitled to express his dissent from that view. Although this matter has not been finally resolved, the view is expressed in a document to which all honourable senators have been able to refer tonight. If we vote tonight and have the motion determined, it will be for the Standing Orders Committee to look at the question.
– And have it pigeonholed.
It may well be that the Standing Orders Committee will look at the question of speaking times within the framework of the 2 hours allowed for the whole discussion. Senator Cavanagh referred to the pigeonholing of this matter and an assurance by me that it would be dealt with. I remind him that the Presiding Officer convenes meetings of the Standing Orders Committee.
That the motion (Senator Sir Kenneth
Anderson’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
(9.33) - I wish to deal now with notice of motion No. 2 standing in my name. Reference was made during the earlier debate to a motion being put forward by me in my capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am not putting this motion, nor did I put the earlier motion, as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I will move it in my name as a member of the Senate. I will be much more brief in my comments on this motion because I think that all honourable senators are very much alive to the proposition.
The Senate has always had what we chose to call an understanding or an arrangement that, on days when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, the length of speeches will be restricted to 30 minutes with the exception of debates for which other speaking times are specified. Whilst honourable senators are not bound in any way by any standing order to this time limit and whilst, in the spirit of things, in a peroration honourable senators from all sides may run over the 30 minutes agreed time limit to make a point, this agreement has always worked effectively in the 19 years that I have been a member of the Senate. We have never had any difficulty with respect to this arrangement on broadcast days. I do not think that our debates on broadcast days have lost any of their lustre. In fact, on most occasions, speeches delivered on broadcast days are perhaps more pertinent, more prepared and more directed to the sheer substance of the matters being debated than are speeches on other days when a longer time is available to speak. In any event, when considering a Bill in Committee the time allowed is 15 minutes although true it is an honourable senator can speak again in the debate at that stage.
The motion that I will move seeks the agreement of the Senate in principle to changes as are necessary in the relevant standing orders to restrict speaking times in any debate to 30 minutes, with the time allowed for right of reply to be limited to 15 minutes. I think that the adoption of this motion would be to our advantage. The same reasons that I canvassed when speaking to my previous motion may be advanced support this proposal. I do not believe that I need to canvass the same arguments again. I think that this move would be effective and would be in the interests of the role and responsibility that we have as senators. With ‘those brief remarks, I move:
That the Senate agrees in principle to such changes as are necessary to the relevant Standing Orders to provide that no Senator shall speak for more than thirty minutes in any debate in the Senate, provided that, where a right of reply is allowed in any debate in the Senate, a Senator speaking in reply shall speak for not more than fifteen minutes.
– I oppose this motion as I opposed the previous motion. 1 agree with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that this motion is similar to the one just dealt with by the Senate. It is an attempt to cut down the rights of senators. I think that the responsibility rests on the person moving a motion of this kind to show that, because of some mischief which has arisen in the existing practice, remedial action needs to be taken. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson did not attempt to put up a case to sustain the argument that someone had offended the agreement and had extended the length of a speech on a broadcast day to take advantage of the privilege of speaking for an hour. He has not attempted to suggest that this motion is necessary to facilitate the business of the Senate.
The position he has reached is that he wishes to reduce the time allowed for speeches to that which we observe on days when the proceedings of the Senate are broadcast. He justifies his motion by saying that speeches on broadcast days are better, they are more concise and more to the point. Where was Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson yesterday when we travelled Queensland in the speeches that were delivered here? Surely there have been speeches today which have been more concise and more to the point than those delivered yesterday. Honourable senators in their speeches wandered around the backblocks of Queensland for the sake of a special grant of $9m to that State. I was convinced after those speeches that Queensland or its Government did not deserve that grant. This argument, if it is studied through, is without logic.
A number of honourable senators speak on Thursday because they have matters of interest which they wish to get to their electors through the record. What was -n agreement that speeches on broadcast days only should be limited to half an hour is now to be law in relation to all sitting days. Some honourable senators, including myself, on some subjects particularly ask not to speak on days when the proceedings are being broadcast because the development of our speeches on those subjects would take more than 30 minutes. I remember that on 2 occasions I had not developed my argument in an hour and extensions of time were granted. This was; not something which wasted the time of the Senate. The Senate appreciated that I was speaking on a subject that needed to be developed. These occurrences are not usual.
When the Standing Orders Committee was considering this matter it found that during the last session of the Senate the speaking time of individual senators, averaged 35 minutes. So, the opportunity to speak for an hour has not been abused. Despite the fact that an hour is available for speeches, the average time taken by speakers in this House has been 35 minutes. This shows that many honourable senators speak for less than 35 minutes.. Honourable senators who speak in excess of 35 minutes may have a difficult case to develop. They should be entitled to develop it. I well remember an appeal by Senator Byrne for an extension of time one evening. His plea was justified because I thought that his case was interesting.
In the debate on the Queensland Grant Bill, the most concise and interesting speech was given on Tuesday last by Senator McAuliffe who developed a case justifying the need for an investigation ireQueensland. That speech took him 40 minutes. If the time available to make such a speech was reduced, whoever followed the honourable senator would have needed to> extend the time of his speech for the purpose of covering the points that Senator McAuliffe had been denied the opportunity” to put forward.
– Could he have said the same things in 30 minutes?
– What the honourable senator says in an hour is not worth devoting more than 5 minutes to. Senator Marriott, the Assistant Minister assisting the Leader of the Government in the Senate, has no right to speak with ministerial authority, so there we have a further saving of time. But I am talking about the occasion on Tuesday when an honourable senator made a speech with sense and logic which was appreciated by everybody who was listening in the Senate. The presentation of his case took 40 minutes. Some honourable senators opposite want to deprive him of those 40 minutes. Senator Sim is interjecting. Point to an occasion when Senator Sim, and other honourable senators who are just as incapable of putling up a case, can speak for an hour and I will be happy to support the proposal. The only occasion on which an honourable senator speaks longer than 30 minutes or 35 minutes is when someone who is worth listening to has a case that needs developing. If we had carried this motion it would have meant that Senator Greenwood would not have been able to deliver his second reading speech on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill yesterday unless we bad given him an extension of time. If this proposal is carried and enforced I would be opposed to giving anyone an extension of time. Senator Greenwood, who has the responsibility to introduce that Bill, would not have been able to introduce it to this chamber today.
What are we to do? I have fought in my Party room this question of the rights of the back bencher; I have fought it in the Standing Orders Committee; I have fought it in this chamber. There is a determination among some honourable senators to cut down the rights and liberties of back, benchers. We must take some action. We hear continually that this move is essential in the new role of the Senate. Now we have it in the accursed committe system which takes away the rights of the elected people in this chamber. The committees sit behind closed doors to confer with heads of departments and witnesses, and then bring down reports which are never adopted by the Government. That is the stage we have reached with the committee system. The committee system i-. not welcomed by the back benchers from either party, because in the corridors there is criticism by both Liberal senators and Labor senators. Because of the determination of sections of this Senate to deprive individuals of their rights, we have no, alternative but to 30 to our respective party rooms in an attempt to wreck this new role of the Senate so that we can come back to being a debating forum in which the rights to the individual are protected.
We are told that this is to be a free vote, a non-party vote, yet in relation to matters concerned with the Standing Orders when has the Liberal Party or the Democratic Labor Party split when it comes to the vote? They put forward these propositions and tell us that the vote will be on non-party lines.
– What did you say?
– In discussions of matters relating to the Standing Orders has the Democratic Labor Party ever divided when it came to the vote?
– We remember that your Party objected to our representations on the Standing Orders Committee, and we resented that very much.
– In leading the discussion for his Party Senator McManus said that the Democratic Labor Party would support the proposition. There was no freedom of choice for his Party. This is now justified by Senator Byrne who has a mistaken belief in relation to some action that my Party took. I have been a member of the Standing Orders Committee for a longer time than Senator Byrne has been in this chamber since his return. The Democratic Labor Party made representations to have a representative on the Committee. Of my own knowledge, the Committee, supported by the Labor Party delegates, was always of the opinion that it should increase the number of members on the Committee by one in order to allow the minority groups to have representation. That was the attitude of the Labor Party which put forward the proposition.
– That is not my recollection, but I will accept it if you give me that assurance.
– I can give you that assurance, as I think will every other member of the Committee. Now we have reached the stage where the Government is using this matter to show a solidarity in its organisation, a solidarity in the Democratic Labor Party, and divisions in the Labor Party because the Labor Party is the only honest group which votes according to its conscience. Wherever this proposal to take away the rights of individual members originated, it has to stop. If it cannot be stopped in this chamber it will have to be stopped somewhere else.
- Senator Cavanagh has referred in condemnatory terms to the solidity of the
Democratic Labor Party. I agree with him that on this matter we are solid. We are solid against the motion.
– That is very good.
– We assure you that Senator Cavanagh nearly spoiled everything.
– Would you have taken your bat home just because he said the wrong thing?
– No, we would not. In the 13 years that I have been in this Senate I believe that the one-hour limit on speeches on non-broadcasting days has never been abused. I realise, as I have seen it happen on numerous occasions, that on days when the proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast Whips frequently have a great deal of trouble getting somebody to fill in. Although feeling was a bit strong between the ALP and the DLP when I first entered this chamber, the late Sid O’Flaherty, the Opposition Whip, came to us on more than one occasion to beg us to fill in to keep things going.
I do not want to suggest that the onehour limit merely resulted in a lot being said which ought not to have been said or which was not worth hearing. I have heard some very boring speeches of one hour’s duration. I will not mention any names at the present time. I have heard also honourable senators who are experts in particular subjects place before the Senate speeches which, in my view, not merely enhanced the reputation of the Senate but also gave those senators an opportunity to say many things which needed to be said and to place many things in their right perspective. I believe that there always will be occasions when individual senators will want to speak for more than 30 minutes, and when they will have things to say which will justify their speaking for more than 30 minutes.
Therefore my Party has been solid. It has been unanimous in its feeling that the present state of affairs should be maintained. I have not heard many complaints about the present system. I have heard compaints about one or two honourable senators who on occasions took us around the wilds of Yuendumu and other places for nearly an hour on end, and perhaps we were not terribly happy about that, but the honourable senators concerned felt strongly about the subject matter. They had! a case to put and, in my view, on the daysthat the Senate proceedings were not being broadcast, they had a right to put their case even though they took longer than 30 minutes to do so. The feeling of my Party - it has been my personal feeling for 13- years - is that there is nothing wrong with, the present time limits, and I believe they should be retained.
Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia). (9.49) - Even though my good friend Senator McManus and his colleagues are voting: with us tonight - I do not confine these remarks to them - I must say that many years before I came into this Parliament I read a book called ‘Inside Parliament’ written by Warren Denning who was a journalist in this place and who later wrote Caucus Crisis’. It was an unhappier experience for me to read that. ‘Inside Parliament’ was much more pleasant. He impressed me very much when I was a very young person. Honourable senators will realise that he wrote the book a long time ago. I agree with Voltaire who said, or is reputed to have said: T will disagree with what you say but I will defend with my life your right to say it’. Senator McManus quite rightly indicated in a very charitable manner that although some of us may speak for only 5 minutes it may seem as though we have spoken for an hour. But there are times when an hour is very well spent ir> discussion. Back in 1970 when this subject was being discussed a survey was made of the average speaking times in the Parliament. I will take a little longer tonight than I usually do so that I can give some details of non-broadcast times because we are agreed on what the broadcast time allotments ought to be.
I turn first to Supply Bill (No. 1), and I am sure that my friends will not mind my mentioning the names of some of the senators who spoke in the debate on that Bill. They were Senator Keeffe, Senator Greenwood, Senator Cavanagh, Senator Georges, Senator Little and several others. Their average time of speaking on that Bill was 17 minutes. In a debate on fauna conservation, as would be expected, the name of Senator Mulvihill topped the list. We have had a lot of jokes with Senator Mulvihill about this subject, but let me say that the first I ever heard of conservation or ecology was from him. My great education on those matters came from Senator Mulvihill long before those topics were popular in the community. He spoke for 28 minutes. Senator Poyser, Senator Byrne, Senator Georges and Senator Lawrie also spoke in the debate, and their average time was 16.4 minutes. I turn next to an Appropriation Bill. Putting an Appropriation Bill before the Senate is rather like the approach of a sergeant-major to his troops in asking whether there are any complaints. He is asking for the lot. The speeches on that Bill lasted for 17 minutes, 20 minutes, 3 minutes, 3 minutes and 2 minutes. Senator McManus spoke for only 3 minutes that night. Perhaps he was not feeling well.
– But it was a good speech.
– It was a splendid speech; if it took only 3 minutes, it must have been. The average speaking time on a Bill relating to off-shore minerals was 1.3 minutes. On Supply Bill (No. 1), which permits a wide range of subjects to be covered, the average speaking time was 20 minutes. In a debate on days and times of meeting the average time was 4.5 minutes. On the National Health Bill - I cannot think of any subject which would attract more speakers - the average time was 25 minutes. My speech took 4 minutes and perhaps I should be congratulated. The average speaking time on non-broadcasting days was 8.5 minutes. In the debate on the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill the average time was 23.25 minutes. On the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which one would expect to produce many speakers, the average time was 6.6 minutes. Senator Greenwood spoke on that Bill. I will not cover speeches on the motion to adjourn the Senate. In the debate on the Australian Industries Development Corporation, which would come within the administration of one of my shadow ministries, I spoke for 38 minutes. I think I could have been pardoned, as that is my particular responsibility, if I had asked for an extension of time over the hour. The average time was 41.25 minutes.
I do not think honourable senators want me to go on citing these times. Other speaking times on non-broadcasting days were 14.45 minutes, 18.25 minutes, 14.3 minutes, 9 minutes, 8.5 minutes and 20.35 minutes. The average time in adjournment debates was 11 minutes and on a wool industry Bill 8.8 minutes. On loan war service land settlement it was 8 minutes. Again, on conciliation and arbitration, 29 minutes. I have mentioned these figures because I know that we can become emotional about this subject. When we are tired, as I said earlier, a 5-minute speech can seem to occupy 60 minutes. But let us get a sense of history and a sense of the importance of what this Parliament is all about. The one thing I have never become used to in 23 years here is some of the trivia that we deal with, and I am afraid that I never will. Senator McManus quite rightly said tonight that at times something needs to be said as a great contribution to the history of this Federal Parliament.
I suppose it is a quarter of a century since I read Warren Denning’s book. He wrote, in effect: ‘Do not rubbish the person who sits down and goes to sleep in the chamber’. Very often in those days members would bring in a pillow. He wrote: Do not rubbish him because what he is doing is enabling somebody elected by the people of Australia to say what he thinks in the light of the advice he has had from his people. He is putting something before the national Parliament which may go into legislation and become the law of this nation’.
– Could I interrupt the honourable senator, without being discourteous? I sense that this motion is against the will of the Senate and I would be perfectly happy to have it resolved on the voices.
– I appreciate the kindly interjection of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am relieved that after all these years in politics I am on the majority side at last. If we are to win like this, need I say any more?
– Having gained a point through the last motion that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson moved I hope I may get another victory when I finish my speech tonight. I am opposing this motion because it would take me more than half an hour to castigate the Government, the Minister and the Department of Health for their supine attitudes to smoking. Therefore I feel that I am entitled to have more than half an hour. I would be prepared to go along with the half an hour proposition if broadcasting time speeches were reduced to 20 minutes. I say that because we in this corner never get a chance to speak on broadcasting days at reasonable times. We are very often offered a slot on Wednesdays, but it is usually for 10.30 pm.
– Are you here,
– I am here enough.
– Have you ever come to me as Government Whip and requested a time?
– No. I gave it up a long time before you were Government Whip.
– Then do not point the finger at me.
– I did not mention you.
– Art you speaking for the other 2 independent senators also?
– No, we are strictly independent, but I am solid in my Party about this matter. I have found in the 10 years that I have been here that to jet a good slot on a broadcasting night is impossible. I am asked to speak when someone is wanted to fill in at 10.30 p.m., when it is a complete waste of time. Quite often a member would prefer to speak on a nonbroadcasting day when he has a lot to say. He knows that then he has longer than half an hour. If senators are to reduce our time to half an hour on non-broadcasting days they must also reduce the times on the other day unless, of course, the Deputy President will give another assurance that independent senators will always have the call when they rise and will not be told what to do by the 2 Party Whips.
– I am conscious of what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said about deciding this matter on the voices. However, I do not know the will of the Senate in connection with this matter because a free vote is allowed. I do not know on what side my colleagues might vote. Five of my colleagues sat to the right of the Chair on the last occasion a vote was taken. I do not know whether we should just accept the fact that the will of the Senate is against this motion. I want to say seriously to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that what he proposes is to reduce the time for which honourable senators can speak on money Bills - Bills that the Senate cannot amend or may not amend - from li hours to 30 minutes. 1 ask: Does he propose to compensate for that reduction by moving that the time limit for speaking to a clause of a Bill shall be 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes as it is at present? Can we speak for 30 minutes as many times as we wish when we are dealing with a particular clause?
When questions such as this are put forward these things have to be clarified. There have been occasions on which I have spoken for an hour, but they have been very few. The Senate has agreed to legalise the gentleman’s agreement which operates on days that the Senate proceedings are broadcast. Last week, on Wednesday night, I took the opportunity to speak on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill. I had intimated that I would use that device in order to initiate a debate, believing I would be able to speak for H hours. However, as we had legalised the agreement relating to the length of speeches on days on which the proceedings are broadcast T was limited to 30 minutes. I appreciated the good graces of honourable senators who were present at that time and allowed me to extend my speech for more than 30 minutes. However, the rule was that T could speak for 30 minutes on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill.
Honourable senators should be looking at these sort of things. I do not know whether anyone actually wants to speak for 14- hours but it happens on occasions. I remember that on 4th June I960 1 spoke for li hours on a matter which 1 thought was urgent to the nation. I made a plea for the Government to lift the embargo on the export of iron ore. That is the only time that I can remember on which I exceeded 1 hour. There are occasions when time is required. Every honourable senator knows what the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore has done for the economy of Australia. I urge the Leader of the Government not to take this motion to a vole. I urge him not to see whether honourable senators will cross the floor under the free voting system. I urge him to withdraw his motion.
(10.4) -I wish to respond briefly to what has been said. This debate has brought out some points which have some validity, particularly in relation to second reading speeches and some other matters. I seek leave to withdraw the motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That General Business, Notice of Motion No. 3, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That General Business, Notice of Motion No. 4, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
– I move:
I had not anticipated that this motion would come forward for debate in view of the important matters preceding it on the notice paper. I refer to the 2 motions for the creation of select committees to which important matters were to be referred. Those 2 motions have been stood oven This motion is not of the character of those 2; it merely calls for the Government to consider the establishment of a financial institution structured to handle the situation of rural industries. For a long time there has been a great deal of concern in the rural sector because the structure of the financial system and the banking overdraft system have not been totally equipped to meet the financial commitments and the immediate money needs of various rural industries. The Democratic Labor Party has been giving consideration for a long time to this aspect of the whole question, realising just how parlous has been the developing conditions of the rural industries.
I made those introductory remarks merely to show that we regard this matter as important. I did not know that this motion would be called on so quickly and honourable senators may not be equipped tonight - I am in the same position - to deal with it at great length and in the depth required. I draw attention to the fact that it is an urgent matter. I wish to impress that view upon the Government. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move:
I gave notice of this motion on 7th April last year. I did so because of the attitude of the Government and the public statements of the Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). The motion I then foreshadowed concluded with the words ‘and the public statements of the Leader of the Country Party’. However, in this very fast moving world of politics I do not think many people would recall the statements he made. They related to the loss of wheat sales to the People’s Republic of China - referred to by the Government as Communist China in the political context but as Continental China in the context of trade. I am not sure of just where the Government stands on the nomenclature at the present time.
At the last count I think the population of the People’s Republic of China was over 800 million. This country has been discussed not only in the 2 Houses of this Parliament but throughout the world for a long period of years. At the 1955 Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party we laid down a formula on which we said the United Nations ought to acknowledge 16 nations, I think it was in those days, which at that stage were not being recognised by that body. One of the countries was Ireland, another was the People’s Republic of China, and there were 14 others. The country that attracted most attention at that time was, of course, the People’s Republic of China. The government of the day never lost an opportunity to say to us: ‘You are wanting to recognise the People’s Republic of China’. Of course, it conveniently forgot about Ireland and the 14 other countries that we mentioned at that time.
We evolved that principle by saying that, if we were to have a United Nations, that United Nations should not be a closed club. It should not be one of these clubs in which people or countries can be blackballed. If we were to have a talking shop and if we were to have in the world at long last words instead of bullets, the only way that could come about would be to have all the nations of the world brought into this forum. Of course, in God’s good time Ireland and the other 13 nations, if my figures are correct after so many years, were admitted as members of the United Nations. We had to live from 1955 until the last session of the United Nations to see the People’s Republic of China take its place in that body. I do not deny that people who have very strong feelings about the way the world has moved since nazism and the communist victories in central Europe have been greatly worried. In my view they have over-reacted to the situation. When we first started to hear such words as co-existence, they were regarded as dirty words in the same way as peace was regarded as a dirty word for a long time.
But I feel that even the conservatives of the world now realise that it is no good saying that these countries, with whose ideologies they may disagree and we may disagree, will go away merely because we disagree with them. To recognise a country is not to accept the form of government in which that country may be indulging. We speak very loosely about democracy. We say that it is the greatest form of government. But when we look around we see that the democracies of the world are few and very far between. There are very few democracies, as we know them, in the world. We believe that democracy is the greatest system. But we must accept that it still has not been accepted by many countries. Many of the emerging countries which have tried democracy have finished up with a form of government that nobody in a democracy wants - a military dictatorship. The fact is that many of these countries are evolving and are now being maintained under military dictatorships, one country that has clung to democracy is India, with all the problems of its more than 500 million people. I suppose that it is an irony of the universe that next to India is the greatest country in the world, in terms of population - China - which adheres to a communist system of government. India adheres to a democratic system of government. As I say, in 1955 when we in the Australian Labor Party said that all nations should be admitted to the United Nations and mentioned the People’s Republic of China we handed to our opponents a stick with which to beat us over the head.
There is another train of . thought that comes in in modern times. It is that not only nations but also parts of nations should be recognised in the United Nations. I suppose that one of the things that people of my generation have done - I think it is one of the less creditable things we have done - is to sit back in our heavens, with a sort of God given infallibility, and say: ‘Let us divide up this country. Let us divide up Czechoslovakia’. Before that we divided up Ireland and Korea; China divided up itself; and we divided up Vietnam. I hope the next : generation will see-
– Germany was divided up also.
– As my friend Senator Poyser reminds me, Germany is another case. Surely we see that we have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. The debate continues today as to whether we should move to the next point and say that not only is there a geographical or political body that we have known and learnt about in our school books but also, because the people themselves have evolved division or because division has occurred as a result of a political decision in the cases of Czechoslovakia, Vietnam, Korea, Germany and Ireland, those countries should be considered as being divided.
I say that as a background to the more specific point I put in my motion - I again emphasise that it was framed 12 months ago - involving the whole question of wheat sales to the People’s Republic of China. Australia has come through a situation in which we found ourselves and now find ourselves - I agree that this is quite trite - in a rural crisis. In many ways I suppose the attitude of the Australian people as I grew up was that, if we could build a dam and make 2 blades of something grow where only one blade grew before, we were achieving something. We finally learnt that we did not think this matter right through and that it is not very much good growing 2 blades of whatever we grow if we cannot sell it and it is not wise to be bolstering up these rural industries merely for the sake of saying: ‘There you are. We are very good people. We have built a dam and in a place where there was nobody before we now have some people living’.
This thinking has been bedevilled a lot by the fact that over the last 23 years we have had a government in which the majority party has been the Liberal Party and the minority party has been the Country Party, which has been dedicated to the development of the rural industries^ We have had that old fashioned situation of the tail wagging the dog. We must look at the amount of money that the Australian taxpayer, whether he be a worker belonging to one of those terrible trade unions that we hear about from the Gov>ernment side from time to time or a capitalist in the city, is putting his hand in his pocket in order to bolster up industries which finally reach the situation where they are not viable at all. One of the problems that the Government, the people of Australia and no less the Opposition are worrying about is: How do we solve this problem today? In the field of wool, a situ-at ion prevails where perhaps the industry is dying out. After all, at one time the Japanese were noted for their silk. Today if a tourist goes to Japan one of the highlights of the trip is to be taken into a silk shop to see what it looks like. There is the Kanebo silk industry and other types which are very rare sorts of industries. The tourist is shown people weaving the silk. It is one of the highlights of the tourist round to see people weaving silk.
Nothing in this life is infinite, including us - although from time to time from the way some of us talk people would think we were infinite. Nothing is infinite, whether it be human, a primary industry, metals or anything else. We have a situation in the field of wool which is probably a little different from the other types of situations which bedevil Australian industry today. We cannot make a wool sandwich and eat it. I return to the specific question of wheat. A very interesting situation has evolved in this Parliament. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has insisted for a long time, and I think quite rightly so, that the communist countries relate trade to politics and do not hesitate to use trade on the question of politics; so, if they can obtain a political advantage by using the question of trade, they do not hesitate to do so. I have agreed completely with the members of the DLP when they have said that. They have dealt with the matter on a broad basis, but going back over a few years I can think of half a dozen different commodities which have not attracted the public eye because they have involved small industries, but they have been important industries to emerging countries. When the price can be boosted suddenly and when the purchase of that commodity can be stopped suddenly, a developing country is in trouble.
Australia would have been in trouble with regard to wheat a long time ago if it had not been for its wheat sales to the People’s Republic of China. Mr Maisey, who is now a member of Parliament - the honourable member for Moore - was one of the first members of the Wheat Board to suggest selling wheat to the People’s Republic of China. At that time I remember all kinds of debates raging about whether the sale was moral, whether we should sell the wheat, whether we should not sell the wheat, whether the People’s Republic of China was importing wheat and reselling it, or whether it was holding the imported wheat and selling its rice to other countries to flood the rice bowl in Burma, Vietnam and Thailand and so again use the trade-politico situation which, as I mentioned, the Democratic Labor Party has underlined from time to time.
Recently there has been a reversal of the situation. Questions asked mainly by members of the Liberal Party, have been trying to point out that the situation was not as I have stated it and that the fact that Canada had recognised the People’s Republic of China had nothing to do with the fact that China was buying wheat from Canada and not from Australia. This was a complete reversal of what the DLP had put over the years, with which I have agreed. Nothing is simple in the field of politics or in the field of world trade. It is undoubtedly true that during the last 18 months to 2 years China has been in a strong position because it has had good seasons. That does not alter the fact that at the same time it has had to import wheat and has moved to the Canadian prairies rather than to Australia because Canada had recognised China. Canada came to an agreement with China, getting over the difficulties of Taiwan, which made both sides reasonably happy to sign a document on this level. Our wheat bins were overflowing. So were Canada’s wheat bins.
This is the problem that faces Australia today. That leaves unanswered the question whether, if we had recognised the People’s Republic of China at the same time as the Canadians did, the extra imports that China needed in spite of its good seasons would have been divided equally, mathematically or by some other formula between our sister dominion Canada and ourselves. Things have moved a long way since the days when the Labor Party was beaten over the head by the Liberal Government because we advocated the recognition of the People’s Republic of China. Forgive me if I do not explain the position quite clearly, because even the Liberals are not clear on this. As I understand the position, under certain circumstances the Liberals will talk turkey or chow mein, whatever the appropriate word is, with the Chinese on whether Australia should recognise China, at the same time keeping open all kinds of options. World opinion has finally pushed the Liberals into a situation in which they are willing to have discussions with Mao Tse-tung and his people to decide whether they will recognise the People’s Republic of China. In my view, if we recognise the People’s Republic of China, there is no doubt that there will be a resurgence of trade with the People’s Republic of China. When we start doing a deal, if I can use those capitalistic words, with the People’s Republic of China, we will be doing a deal with a country which has the largest population in the world. It is not the most powerful buying country in the world, but neither is any of the emerging countries. To any government which cares to look a little beyond the subject of immediate trade, surely this is something of significance. The Japanese, those great traders of the East and of our region, are watching the position tremendously closely and are looking beyond merely the next year or two.
It is interesting to see where else we could sell our surplus wheat. People in the world are wanting food, and countries such as Canada and Austrafia axe producing it but are not able to hand it to those people because of questions of trade, money, overseas balances and credits. 1 hope that all of us are humanitarians and moralists - I include every person in the Chamber in that category - and it does seem that in 100 years time history will judge us on these things. Russia is a vast country. It is, I think, the greatest land mass in the world with a population of 245 million. 1 wonder whether the politics of the situation have prevented Australia and Canada, both of whom have difficulty in disposing of certain food commodities, handing over the surplus food to these starving people. If the high finance could be settled we could hand the food to them. If we could do that, it would be a humanitarian act. It would help the people wbc go to bed at night hungry. I think the statistics show that more people go to b;d at night hungry than quite contented. If we provided the food that would help promote international understanding. At the same time - I put this lastly, because of a selfish attitude - it would help our farmers stay on the wheat fields of Australia.
I am one of the few speakers tonight who has not asked that the debate on the matter that I placed on the notice paper 12 months ago be postponed. 1 deliberately ignored the utterances of Mr Anthony becauseI did not think it would be fair,, 12 months later, to be asking him what he meant when he made his statement. Like the words of all parliamentarians, the words of Mr Anthony will not live for very long. But the problem in relation to which he uttered the words has lived on. Today the situation is not very much different from what it was 12 months ago. The rural crisis, if anything, is worse. The recognition of the People’s Republic of China has not developed, although we had a lot of utterances about it. A lot of people in the world are still starving, and we have a surplus of food. Those matters, I believe, are worthy of the attention of a national parliament in any part of the world.
Debate (on motion by Senator Young) adjourned.
– I move:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In so moving, I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to make a statement concerning events which occurred today which, led to the arrest of a person for whom a. warrant of arrest had been issued. The, publicising of these events has been characterised by inaccurate and misleading information and comment. The true circumstances, when revealed, disclose a state of affairs which ought to have the widest publicity.
What are the facts? Simply put they are, as follows: Commonwealth Police early this afternoon arrested a young man on a charge of having failed to attend a medical, examination under the National Service Act. The man invited arrest and said that he would be available to be arrested, and he was arrested. The man arrested was William Robert Wood, who had failed to; attend a court hearing in Sydney. For such, failure a bench warrant for his arrest had! been issued. Today, following his arrest, Wood was charged in the Canberra Court of Petty Sessions with an offence against section 49 of the National Service Act Bail was refused and he will appear before the Court of Petty Sessions in Sydney tomorrow.
The information which led to his arrest came in very curious circumstances, to be explained I think only by the events which followed. Throughout this morning, my office received calls from a number of representatives of the Press, radio and television, who said that they had information that Wood was to present himself at Parliament House at 1 o’clock today in order that he could ask me - I presume ask me personally - to arrest him. On this information being conveyed to me, I arranged for the Commonwealth Police to be informed. At approximately 1 o’clock today a young man who gave his name as Wood introduced himself to an attendant at Parliament House and asked to see the Attorney-General. I have spoken to the attendant. He provided the attendant with copies of a roneoed sheet in which it was stated that the Attorney-General was being challenged to arrest Mr Wood and that Mr Wood would be present outside the House at 1 p.m. today.
At the time that this young man introduced himself to the Senate attendant I was informed by the Usher of the Black Rod. I told the Usher that I did not wish to see Mr Wood myself but that, a warrant for his arrest being in existence, the Commonwealth Police desired to arrest him. I understand that through the agency of the Usher of the Black Rod an introduction was effected between the man who was describing himself as Mr Wood and Inspector Headland of the Commonwealth Police Force. That introduction was effected, I understand, near the steps of King’s Hall. Inspector Headland and the young man who had introduced himself as Mr Wood walked from King’s Hall to the road outside the front of Parliament House. I would emphasise that this young man twice identified himself as Wood in the hearing of Senate officers. After Inspector Headland and this young man left Parliament House the young man moved across the road, where he was apprehended by 2 Commonwealth policemen. He was taken to a police car where 1 understand there was a short conversation as a result of which he agreed to be interviewed at police headquarters. He was then driven away. I should say that afterthis young man had been introduced to Inspector Headland he said that his name was not Wood but Chris Shanley. It was in those circumstances that he was taken away and questioned as to his role in the affairs which had taken place.
I will come back later to what Mr Shanley said subsequently. But after Mr Shanley left with the police to go to police headquarters another young man, accompanied by a group of people, came to Parliament House and asked to see the AttorneyGeneral. This person was identified as Wood. Commonwealth police, who had remained in the vicinity, arrested him outside Parliament House and took him to police headquarters. This gentleman, as 1 indicated earlier, subsequently appeared in court and was remanded to appear in Sydney tomorrow. While being questioned by the police Mr Shanley admitted that he had come into Parliament House and said that he was Wood so that the police would concentrate upon him. This was to be a diversionary tactic to get police away from Parliament House so that Wood could attempt to see the Attorney-General and still make good an escape in full view of Press and television representatives and, as he said, further point up the ineptitudes of the Commonwealth Police. He was in effect, on his own admission, a decoy.
I should say that since these facts came to my knowledge I have been made aware that certain publicity has been given to a statement made by Mr Shanley after he left police headquarters, and presumably after he saw a Press statement which I issued at about 6.30 tonight, in which he has denied certain of the facts which I have alleged. I appreciate that where allegations are made and disputed there can be different opinions as to where the truth lies, but I want to assure the Senate that 1 called for and received very full reports from the police officers concerned and that the statements I have made have been checked, as far as I have been able to check them, with the persons available to me for discussion. I make the statements which 1 have made in the knowledge that the facts have been provided to me by persons who had an obligation to supply them in the course of their duty.
It may be that Mr Shanley objects to the fact that he was apprehended by policemen, that he was taken to police headquarters and that he was there asked and answered certain questions. All I wish to say about that is that the circumstances, in my judgment, warranted the action which the police took and I believe that the police action is to be defended. If Mr Shanley - I believe there is a very big ‘if - believes that civil rights have been denied to him he has every opportunity to avail himself of access to the courts to allege, if he pleases, an unlawful arrest, an unlawful assault or a false imprisonment. But I assure him that if he does that I will see that the action of the police is defended. If it be said that Mr Shanley is unable to take action because he cannot get the names of the police officers who actually apprehended him, 1 will facilitate that information being made available to any solicitor who indicates that he wants to take action on Mr Shanley’s behalf. If the police did wrong by Mr Shanley I would suggest to him that he has civil rights and should exercise them. In the full circumstances, I believe that the police were entitled to take the action which they took.
There are certain other comments which I believe these incidents warrant. In the first place, as I have said, if Mr Shanley claims that he has been wrongly dealt with he has, as I have indicated, certain rights at law which he may exercise. But there are certain other features, about the whole matter which ought to be looked at as the probabilities of this exercise. In the first place, why. was there this concerted effort this morning by a number of people to inform as many representatives of the mass media as possible? Why was .it that there was such a concentrated campaign - which was effective - to have so many of the representatives of radio, Press and television present outside Parliament House? What was the purpose of Mr Shanley misleading Senate officials, giving a wrong name and, moreover, the name of a person who was being sought by the police? Why did he claim ostentatiously in front of television cameras at the time when he was apprehended that the police had the wrong man when it would appear as though the whole purpose of the exercise was to create the impression that he was the man for whom the police were looking? I believe that the reason why these things were done was to obtain the maximum publicity. ‘ I believe that this situation discloses a purposeful effort to create by way of television, radio and the Press a public disquiet about the police forces in this country by deliberately contriving situations in which the police can be put into a situation where they can be mocked, humiliated and ridiculed. They are doing a disservice to everybody in this1 country.
The police are the protectors of life, liberty and property. Their ability to realise what the vast majority of the people of this country expect them to realise is not: helped by an organised campaign conducted by certain militant political activists. On the one hand these people are to be seen as promoting lawlessness and disrespect for authority and, on the other hand, they are to be seen ridiculing and destroying the acceptability of those whose1 sworn duty is to uphold and defend the law. This is to be allied with the efforts of: those who, in the course of so called, peaceful demonstrations, by violence intimidation and provocation necessitate police action to protect themselves, others1 and property. Yet when the police are forced into this situation, after enduring more than most people in this country would be prepared to endure, they are accused of instigating violence. This is part of a deliberate militant tactic in which truth is the least with which they are concerned.
The incident also shows that objection to national service and the activities of socalled draft resisters rely upon highly organised activity which seeks to have publicity based on untrue or misleading facts, or occurrences. I believe that in this they have as allies - witting or unwitting - members of the Press and television reporters. The lack of objectivity and fairness of some of these people contributes to the impression which they wish to create. The spectacle of some journalists laughing and publicly saying with glee that the police, had bungled once again does not give one great confidence in the impartiality of the Press. Those who organised this political stunt today must derive some satisfaction from the extent to which they can manipulate the great Press of this country in a Way in which they desire it to be manipulated.
The final matter to which I wish to refer as indicated by this event today is that it is based upon a sham and a fraud. The sham and the fraud is that the Government is not concerned to enforce the law and that there are many thousands of objectors to national service who are not being prosecuted. That is not the truth. I remember many such instances. The first was in this Senate last November. Another occasion was when I addressed a meeting in Perth early in April this year. A more recent occasion was when I addressed a university meeting here in the Australian Capital Territory. Names were put to me not of hundreds nor of thousands but of approximately 22 people who, it was said, had not complied with certain provisions of the National Service Act and who were not being prosecuted. In every one of those cases the facts were ascertained. I have given them to the Senate from time to time. Very few of those persons were not in the process of being either prosecuted or investigated or had not obtained an exemption on grounds of conscientious objection.
Of course the few who were not in that category were people who were either too young or who were not known to the police because there was no record of them. In fact some of them had registered for national service and yet they publicly paraded themselves as persons who bad not registered. Therefore I say that this great campaign is a sham and a fraud. It relies upon publicity to seek to make a point which reliance upon true facts could never make for such people. In conclusion I say that for my part, as AttorneyGeneral, I have an obligation to uphold the laws of this land as I hope all members of Parliament recognise. I know that there are some members of Parliament who do not recognise that obligation but, to the best of my ability, I shall endeavour to see that the law is enforced in this area. I shall endeavour to uphold the police when the police are doing their duty as they obviously were, to the best of their ability, in somewhat trying and contrived circumstances this afternoon. As I said earlier, if there is any challenge to the police action I shall cetainly defend it.
– I hope that we can discuss this matter without emotion. I am not emotionally involved in it. I have taken an interest in it by the accident of watching a television programme this evening in which I saw a young man apprehended. I am not quite sure of the legal difference between the terms ‘apprehended’ and ‘arrested’. 1 saw a young man, who appeared to be arrested, between 2 very burly policemen. He was pushed to a car protesting that he was not the man whom they were seeking. Because of that my hackles rose at the thought that this could happen in Australia. I addressed myself to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) and asked him whether it would be possible for him to make a statement. He has done so. But I have found that his statement is at variance with the statement which he issued at 6.30 tonight. Let it be made quite clear - before the people in the John Birch Society and the people on the far right start accusing me of being one of these people - that I believe in national service. I believe that anyone who breaks the law of the land should be prosecuted. I say to honourable senators: Do not try to say that I am one of the rabble, a Communist and so on because I am trying to support a man who, it appeared to me. was unjustly arrested.
– So he was, it appears.
– All right. 1 do not want to become involved in the whole question of draft resisting. 1 am not interested in that. I am interested in one thing and that is what happened to this man today. He was a university stunt. It was part of a practical joke.
– It was screamingly funny!
– To the rest of the world it would be funny - except to certain people. It is quite common in universities to impersonate people. It is obvious that this was an impersonation as a practical joke to fool the police.
– It was a dangerous practical joke.
– All right. Let us say it was a dangerous practical joke which misfired. But let me point out that according to the Attorney-General’s statement issued at 6.30, subsequently this person was introduced to Inspector Headland of the Commonwealth Police. This is the person w:,o called himself Wood. On speaking to Headland this person said he was not Wood but Shanley. So it had already been established that he was not Wood. The Press release by the AttorneyGeneral states:
Headland and Shanley left Parliament House and moved across the road where Shanley was apprehended by 2 Commonwealth policemen.
I am not quite sure what ‘apprehended’ means. I am being serious about this. Does it mean arrested or virtually arrested?
– It comes from the French, if the honourable senator wants the philological derivation. ‘Prendre’ means to take’ and ‘a’ means ‘to’ or ‘from’. One adds those 2 words together.
– To the uninitiated and ignorant like myself, I assumed that he had been arrested if he were apprehended. We were told that this man was not arrested, yet in the statement it says that he was apprehended. I want to know why he was apprehended at that time. By then he had said that he was not Wood; that he was another person. Therefore he was not the person sought by the police. I admit that perhaps Inspector Headland became confused and did not know which story to believe.
– He could have interrogated him and found out.
– But was there any need to arrest him? Is any person who says his name is Anderson or Greenwood to be arrested because he says that? Is there anything illegal in that? I would like to ask the Attorney-General whether a person impersonating another person is liable to arrest. This is a breach of civil liberties. I am not supporting the man or saying that he was right or wrong. The tuan said: I am not Wood’. He might even have apologised; I do not know. Nobody seems to know. He went across the road, and the police knew he was not Wood.
– He said he was somebody else.
– He then said he was not.
– He has to produce some evidence. They only had his statement to go on.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Turnbull has the call and he will address the Chair.
– I am now asked: Why did he not produce proof of identity? I do not know. Surely it was up to the policemen to ask him to produce proof of identity. Did the policemen ask him? So many questions are left unanswered in the statement that we do not know the full story at all.
– You cannot judge the case.
– I am not judging it. I am just telling the Senate what I saw on television. If the honourable senator wants to get emotionally involved, he will be running true to character. To him, anyone who is a draft resister or supports a draft resister is a communist, or virtually a communist. The statement issued at 6.30 p.m. states:
Inspector Headland asked Shanley to go back to Police Headquarters to be interviewed as to his part in the affair. Shanley agreed and was then driven away.
I do not know whether any other senators saw the television programme. He was protesting, it seemed to me. It was not that he agreed to be driven away. He was taken to the car and virtually pushed into it. One policeman muttered something about the camera, and put his back to it so that what happened to Shanley as he entered the car could not be seen. I do not know whether he was forcibly pushed into the car or not.
– That is terrible.
– There are certain civil liberties that should prevail. I would like the Attorney-General to tell the Senate what is the truth. It was obvious that the young man was protesting as he was being led to the car and entering the car. He was saying ‘I am not the man you want’ and other people were saying ‘He is not Wood*. He had already told Inspector Headland this. Why did Headland let the 2 policemen apprehend him before asking for proof of identity? Why not say to him: You have said you are one man, and now you say you are another. Please prove who you are’? His friends called out: ‘He is not Wood’.
– The police may have been under instructions.
– I do not want to get into any involvements. The police have their duty to perform. From a reading of this statement, Shanley’s story that he wanted to go and be interviewed by the police is apparently correct, but I believe that he has denied it since, according to the second statement. Why does the Attorney-General want to believe him in one part and not believe him in another? The Attorney-General ended up by saying that this was a plot to discredit the Commonwealth Police. He is joking, of course. I do not know who is to blame, but the Attorney-General’s Department must take some of the blame for the fact that the Commonwealth Police are being discredited. I do not support at all the incident on the campus of the University of New South Wales, but that incident showed the police to be powerless. There were pictures of the police happily joking away as if they were glad to know that the man had escaped.
– Not at the University of New South Wales; the University of Sydney.
– Yes. To say that this person intended to discredit the role of the Commonwealth Police is, I think, carrying it a bit far. If a man has committed an offence he should be arrested. But did this man Shanley commit an offence? The Attorney-General has not mentioned that. I think it is the key to the whole thing. If he committed an offence and should have been apprehended, I cannot argue any further. If he did not commit an offence, what right did the police have to apprehend him? This is all I want to know - not that he dissents, burns his card or refuses national service. It is just a question of the civil liberty of any man when a practical joke goes wrong and he is apprehended. Will this sort of thing happen in future? Will anyone who has a crack at the police or has a joke at the expense of the police be apprehended? I raise this matter because I believe that an injustice has been done to this man Shanley. The AttorneyGeneral very kindly said that this man can prosecute the police. Why should a citizen have to do that?
– If he is a criminal, why should not he be treated as one?
– In what way is he a criminal?
– He said he was.
– He did not say he was a criminal.
– Yes, he did.
– In what statement is it said that Shanley said he was a criminal? The Attorney-General by his silence has intimated that no crime had been committed. Every day, when a senator wants some information it is usually given by way of interjection, and there is no reason why that procedure should not be followed now. We have another example of bureaucracy. According to the AttorneyGeneral, if this man feels that a wrong has been done to him, he can seek redress by going to court. Has the Attorney-General thought what this would cost him - the time, the trouble? Why should any citizen have to do this? It is completely wrong. It is a wrong attitude for the Department to adopt, that people should have to defend themselves and that they are guilty even before they are tried.
– I, like Senator Turnbull, saw this television show tonight. I was most concerned that this young man, who was trying to tell the police his name - he claimed that he had identification papers to prove his name - was being bundled off virtually under arrest. Whether it is called apprehension or whatever the term is, he was being manhandled. The name that has been given to Senator Greenwood lately - Ivor the Terrible - is, I think, one that he is earning. Not only is he earning this name but he is-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator O’Byrne, you are transgressing the rules of the Senate. You will not refer to-
– I did not refer to him. 1 said that this was a name that has been given to the Attorney-General.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- That is not permissible.
– The whole thing comes back to this: It was not the Commonwealth Police who made the bungle; it was Senator Greenwood, the AttorneyGeneral, who made the bungle. Let me point out what, according to Senator Greenwood, actually happened. The statement released by Senator Greenwood commences:
Commonwealth Police early this afternoon arrested William Robert Wood on a charge of having failed to attend a medical examination under the National Service Act.
That is a fact. It is quite true. It did happen. It happened in the precincts of Parliament House. Senator Greenwood was advised that William Robert Wood would present himself. He wanted to speak to Senator Greenwood. Senator Greenwood evidently, instead of advising this man to speak to him, advised the Commonwealth Police. The Minister’s statement continues:
Wood was later charged in the Canberra Court of Petty Sessions with an offence against section 49 of the National Service Act. Bail was refused and he was remanded to the Court of Petty Sessions, Phillip Street, Sydney, to appear tomorrow morning.
What actually happened, according to the Attorney-General is that:
At approximately 1 p.m. a young man who gave his name as Wood introduced himself to an attendant at Parliament House and asked to see the Attorney-General.
Now, the man himself, Chris Shanley, came to the attendant with a document which he wanted to present to Senator Greenwood. He said: This document is from W. R. Wood’. On this taking place, the Commonwealth Police intercepted him and he said that his name was Christopher Shanley. He gave his address as 16 Belmore Street, Enmore. He said that he had a university authority of identification in his pocket. He was not allowed to produce this identification and the Commonwealth Police paid no attention to numerous people who informed them that they had arrested the wrong person. They were under instruction from Senator Greenwood to arrest the person who came there at 1 o’clock. He came there to deliver a document on behalf of Wood. But Senator Greenwood was in haste to carry out what is behind his whole policy of selective persecution. This action followed the traditional lines followed by Senator Greenwood since he has held the position of Attorney-General and has administered the National Service Act.
The situation amounts to this: Here is a young man whose civil rights have been taken away by a bungle. The bungle itself was conceived by Senator Greenwood because in the first place he did not accept the document or check up on the facts of the case. The allegations by the AttorneyGeneral in his statement are denied by Chris Shanley. He denies that he acted, with the assistance of other draft dodgers in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Bob Wood. In fact, as the Minister has already stated, Mr Wood waited in front of Parliament House, as he said he would, to be arrested. This intention was stated to the Press. He obviously made no attempt to escape. Chris Shanley says that the AttorneyGeneral’s statement in relation to his actions and intentions has such unbelievable content that he challenges the AttorneyGeneral to prosecute him for obstruction. This threat has been made to Chris Shanley by senior members of the Commonwealth Police force, but they are acting under the instructions of the AttorneyGeneral. I believe that it is the obligation of the Attorney-General to rectify this situation. If he feels that he has been justified in putting the Commonwealth Police into this position by his haste, not only should he apologise to them but also he should apologise to Chris Shanley 1 say in conclusion that I quite understand the concern of Senator Turnbull that we should see before our own eyes in the precincts of Parliament House, the centre of democracy in this country, this fascistlike conduct. This is the outcome of legislation that was conceived for the purpose of prosecuting a policy that the Government has learnt to its great cost has been a false policy. It has been a wrong policy. The whole idea of the Vietnam war and of conscription for national service will be proved by history to have been a wrong one. The matter of the defence of this country is of great importance. But the defence of this country should be performed by men who are properly paid volunteers, thoroughly trained. National service is an unpopular and devious way of attaining the numbers to carry out this unpopular policy which not only is resented throughout this community but also is a policy that this Government will live to regret. I express my great concern at the action which took place this afternoon in Canberra. I expressed my great concern that the Attorney-General should place the Commonwealth Police in the position in which they have been placed at his direction and also that the individual freedom and civil rights of Chris Shanley were offended in this way.
– We have heard from Senator Turnbull a speech which I think was, from what I gather was shown on television, not unnatural and not unreasonable. From Senator O’Byrne we have heard a lot of-
– Preposterous nonsense.
– As my friend Senator Davidson interjects, preposterous nonsense. Let us consider for a moment what really happened. I happened to be in Kings Hall and saw a number of gentlemen who were so obviously policemen that I wondered what was happening. I did see all the events that took place at lunch time today. Perhaps that puts me in a position which is a little better than some of those who may have seen those events on television. I also wish to mention that I was a unversity student and that I enjoyed doing these sorts of things. But if they backfired, my thought was that I had to accept that they had backfired. I can imagine what Senator Turnbull might think-
– So Shanley impersonated Wood, did he?
– Yes. That is the simple thing. It was an impersonation, as I understand it.
– No. Do you know it? Is it true?
– Of course it is.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order!
– Not that you understand it; do you know it?
– If I may, I would like to say a few words without being crossexamined by counsel for the draft resisters’ union or whatever Senator Cavanagh is. I know-
– Mr Deputy President, he cannot refer to Senator Cavanagh in that way. You called a man to order before for that, Sir.
– Are you taking a point of order or not?
– No. I. ask for your decency to refer to Senator Cavanagh in a proper way.
– No, I will not call him that. I will simply say ‘being crossexamined by Senator Cavanagh or anybody else’. The simple position, as I understood it, was that the enthusiasm which has become evident here is student-like enthusiasm for playing what is substantially a game. After all, it has lost its real importance. There was a time when draft resisters, draft dodgers or whatever they may be called according to the particular philosophy of a particular person did have, perhaps, a particular point. They used to maintain that their real stand was against being conscripted to take part in a particular war, but that possibility is no longer current. It may be at some time in the future - one never knows - but it is not current at the moment. The whole thing seems to have become substantially one of the undergraduate games of the current day. I have participated in undergraduate games and I have enjoyed undergraduate games, but 1 do not think - I direct this to Senator Turnbull - that they should be taken too seriously. I can imagine that if some students wish to play a game by a deliberate impersonation, one of another-
– Did this happen?
– I would like to make my speech, if I may, without the assistance of Senator Devitt. The situation, as I understood it from observation, was that the police had been put in a position where they were led to believe that a certain young man by the name of Shanley was one Wood for whom a warrant of arrest had been issued. There were graphic descriptions in the Press this afternoon of this young man running down the steps of Parliament House and being chased across the street by the police. I saw that young man walk down those steps and walk across the street, and I saw the police come out of Parliament House some time later and walk across to him. I repeat that it was some time later. There was an appreciable gap in time between the two events. I was also conscious of the existence of a man whom I subsequently believed to be one Wood who was the second person arrested. I saw his presence on the steps of Parliament House; I saw him walk from the far side of the road back to this side of the road and into Parliament House. Apparently Senator O’Byrne has been told that he never came into the place. That is not correct. He came in. He was continually endeavouring to attract attention. The whole thing was extremely well operated.
– I am sorry, but in what you are saying about this man you are disagreeing with the Attorney-General’s statement which was released at 6.30 p.m.
– I do not have a copy.
– I will send you a copy.
– I have not even seen the statement, but I did see what happened at lunch time.
– Did you know that there was a television camera at another entrance to Parliament House too?
– No, I did not know that there was another television camera at another entrance to Parliament House, but I did see all the television cameramen waiting for some considerable time before eventually the Draft Resisters Union managed to raise its flag on the far side of the road to the right of the Aboriginal ‘embassy’. They assembled right opposite the entrance to Parliament House; they raised their flag and then they proceeded to have their little lark. May I through you, Mr Deputy President, ask Senator Turnbull to draw my attention to any part of the Attorney-General’s statement which he wishes to bring to my notice?
– I refer you to the third line from the bottom on the first page of the printed statement where it is stated: ‘Headland and Shanley left Parliament House and moved across . . .’
– That is right. They came into Parliament House. They then left Parliament House and walked down the steps and across the 2 roads to the far side, and they were followed shortly afterwards by gentlemen whom I did not know personally but who were so obviously policemen that I would simply-
– You are ridiculing the Commonwealth police.
– I am not ridiculing the Commonwealth police; I am saying that they obviously were policemen. They followed Headland and Shanley across the road. They went across to this fellow. I did not hear what was said and I do not pretend that I know what was said, but I did hear him protesting at that time that there was no warrant for his arrest and that he was not Wood. The police having been told either directly or only very indirectly that this gentleman claimed to be Wood, that he had told the Press throughout the morning that he intended to come to Parliament House for this particular < performance - the Press was warned; the i Press was there - and then having claimed that he was Wood but upon arrest claiming 1 that he was not Wood, I can imagine the horse laughter throughout the community if it had turned out, upon the police releasing him, that in fact he was Wood. The situation would be ludicrous. Fortunately we have not reached the stage where the police have a dossier on every person in this community. The police do not have photographs of everybody. They are not necessarily able to identify every person who happens to a tuppeny-halfpenny draft resister or some other relatively unimportant member of the community. I hope that the situation never arises where the Commonwealth police or any of the State police can turn up a file and automatically identify any person in the community.
I simply make the point that this was a student prank. If it backfired on Mr Shanley, then it backfired on him. I do not think he was seriously hurt. As I understand it, he was released. He certainly was not being manhandled in any vicious or nasty way. For Senator 0’Burne to start talking about fascist-like conduct is emotionalism and extremism quite unwarranted in the circumstances. The position of those policemen acting in a difficult situation, trying to carry out a duty which I think is not made any easier when at the moment it is regarded as a standard joke for university students to play this sort of prank, is not made any easier when they are attacked in this place. I think Senator Turnbull raised this matter reasonably; I think Senator O’Byrne unreasonably jumped in to make quite outrageous statements about rights being taken away by a bungle, about fascistlike conduct and about other things.
A crowd was watching this performance. The police had a job to do within that crowd. Pressmen were present. A film crew was there. Can one interview a man when one has a microphone shoved under one’s mouth? Can one really find out whether he is the guy one wants in these circumstances? Is it not reasonable to take him to the car and said: ‘Come to the station and let us sort it out there’?
– He offered to give them identification. He said so on television.
– He may have said so on television, but he was also getting a great deal of assistance from a number of other people present, and 1 would have thought that the best possible way for any policeman, acting reasonably, to find out what happened would be to take him from that situation. As I understand the position from what the Attorney-General has said - I did not hear what happened in the car- once they got into the car the invitaton was extended to go to the police station. Certainly there was no manhandling. Certainly there was no breach of what is a reasonable code of conduct which one can expect from the police. Maybe after a few more inquiries the police may not have taken him to the station. But really it is Wowing it up out of all proportion to have a debate such as this on this matter.
– The National Service Act has been a matter of great contention in our community for some time. Of course, there has been a great deal of opposition to the selective approach which the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) has adopted in this matter. I asked the AttorneyGeneral a question on this matter on 27th April. The question is in 2 parts but I shall refer only to the portion that deals with the discussion this evening. I asked:
Does the Attorney-General concede that there are great numbers of young men who have not registered for national service?
In answer to that question Senator Greenwood, in his inimitable style, said: . . I am not aware that there are great numbers of young men who have refused to do national service. This is an allegation constantly repeated notwithstanding constant denials made by the Minister for Labour and National Service and myself inside and outside the Parliament. Still the allegation is persisted in. One wonders how many times one has to state the facts. All I say to anybody who would challenge what I have said and what the Minister for Labour and National Service has said is: ‘Give to me or the Minister for Labour and National Service the name of any person who has not registered for national service or who has not complied with the Act and we shall indicate whether the statements are correct’.
What are the facts in this case? It is a very simple operation. Robert William Wood, a young man, came to Canberra to seek an interview with the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General was not able to meet him, I presume because of the exigencies of the Attorney-General’s office. The young man then indicated that he would be outside Parliament at 1 p.m. It is true that the mass media became aware that Wood was to surrender himself here. The debate that has subsequently taken place in the Senate tonight has somewhat sickened me. I have been disturbed by the manner in which honourable senators opposite have endevoured to denigrate the persons concerned, particularly Mr Chris Shanley, an innocent party in the whole proceeding. It has already been drawn to the attention of the Senate that there are a number of serious discrepancies in the statement which the Attorney-General issued at 6 o’clock this evening and which of course was repeated in tonight’s news broadcasts. Senator Turnbull drew attention to this passage in the statement:
Subsequently this person was introduced to Inspector Headland of the Commonwealth Police. On speaking to Headland, this person said that he was noi Wood but Shanley
The young man, who I think we can probably assume is a friend of Wood, was seeking to arrange an interview between Wood and the Attorney-General. This is turned into something of a conspiracy, an impersonation or a diversionary tactic, to use the words employed by honourable senators opposite. Is it unusual for a person to arrange an interview for another person? The Attorney-General concedes the following in his statement:
At approximately 1 p.m. a young man who gave his name as Wood introduced himself to an attendant at Parliament House . . .
As far as I am able to establish, the attendants are within the precincts of this House. I believe that a new principle has been established when Commonwealth police come into Kings Hall and seek to apprehend or arrest a person. I am not versed in the procedures under police regulations, but I understand that a policeman asks you for your name and, if he is not satisfied with the answer given, he tries to establish your identity by some other means. He will ask you to accompany him or charge you with some offence. In this instance the Attorney-General has conceded that Inspector Headland did not carry out the proper procedure. According to Mr Shanley, he was not introduced to Inspector Headland. Inspector Headland asked him whether he was Wood and Shanley said that he was not - that he was Chris Shanley. This is admitted in the Attorney-General’s statement. Surely the inspector must be regarded as a senior person in the Commonwealth Police Force. He was told by a young person that that person’s name was Chris Shanley. When Inspector Headland asked Shanley for his address, Shanley walked away to be followed then by Inspector Headland for many paces. The inspector followed Shanley out onto the patio and to the front of the building. Are we to believe Senator Rae’s account of what he saw happen? I am challenging the veracity of the paragraph in the statement which reads:
Headland and Shanley left Parliament House and moved across the road . . .
Either Senator Rae is misled or those who have given Senator Greenwood information have misled the Attorney-General. It is a pretty serious state of affairs when a citizen of this country within the precincts of this Parliament, doing no harm, committing no offence, saying nothing of a disorderly nature, is apprehended by Inspector Headland, subsequently taken outside the building and placed in a police car. Mr Shanley on several occasions, not only in the precincts of this House but also in front of the building, told Inspector Headland that he had made a mistake. He told the inspector that he was not William Robert Wood but was in fact Chris Shanley and offered to produce identification in substantiation of his statement. This senior member of the Commonwealth Police Force nevertheless called in 2 other Commonwealth policemen, hustled the young man into a police car and took him away to Kingston for about 35 minutes.
Never at any stage did Shanley agree to go with the arresting policemen. Never at any stage did those policemen seek information in respect of this incident. Never at any stage did those police give any details of an offence that Shanley is alleged to have committed. I think we can take it from the fact that the police subsequently released him that the police realised that they had, in the words of the AttorneyGeneral, bungled the whole incident. They are his words, not mine. I am sure that most honourable senators will agree with the Attorney-General’s description. The Attorney-General said on page 2 of his: statement:
While being questioned by police, Shanley admitted he had gone into Parliament House and said he was Wood so that police would concentrate upon him.
This was said to be a diversionary tactic to get the police away from Parliament House. I think the Senate should know that Mr Shanley has subsequently issued a, statement in which he said: ‘This is not at all the case. As broadcast on the television, stations this evening I was forcibly taken, away by 2 policemen and said in the process, “My name is Christopher Shanley my address is 16 Belmore Street, Enmore, 2042”, that I had a university authority for identification in my pocket which I would, produce if I was allowed to do so.’ Those of us who saw the television programme; can say that that substantially is in accordance with the facts. The AttorneyGeneral has allowed himself to be misled and has issued a false statement. A transcript of that television broadcast will be available and one will be able to hear Mr Shanley attempting to set the record’ straight in respect of himself. However, he, went on to say: ‘I was not allowed u> produce this identification. The Commonwealth Police also paid no attention to numerous other persons who informed, them that they had arrested the wrong person’. Mr Shanley attempted to tell the police, and other people in the vicinity of; this incident attempted to tell the policemen, but the police, in their bullheaded way, ignored all the obvious evidence and continued with this arrest.
It is a very serious situation when a citizen of this country can be apprehended in this way within the environs of the Parliament and taken away in a police car. Incidentally, I am told that the driver of the police car was so involved emotionally in this affair that the vehicle was backed into another car. I notice that that was not mentioned in the report. This throws into relief the fact that the evidence which the
Attorney-General put before the Senate tonight is open to very serious challenge and doubt.
Never at any stage did the inspector or the arresting constables show any warrant or issue any summons against Mr Shanley. What would have happened to Mr Shank, if he had attempted to defend himself in these circumstances or if he had attempted to remonstrate with the police? He would have been charged with resisting the police. Surely it is a distasteful state of affairs when an innocent citizen is put in the position of having to passively accept a bullheaded approach by Commonwealth Police who, in the face of all the evidence, ignored the fact that the young man was attempting to establish his own identity and who subsequently took him away in a police car. The Attorney-General smiles about this. He says: ‘Well, Mr Shanley is a young man of 20 or 21 years of age and he has his civil rights’. Is that what this is all about? Is this what the game is all about? Does a person have to go to a court of law to establish the fundamental rights of a citizen in this country?
– Is there a right to make a monkey of the police?
– No evidence has been produced to show that Mr Shanley did anything wrong. Senator Rae was prepared to say, without evidence, that Mr Shanley deliberately impersonated Wood. The honourable senator professes to be trained in the art of the law. He operates as a solicitor in some parts of Australia. Yet without evidence he asserted that there was a deliberate impersonation. While sitting in this chamber on many occasions I have been staggered at the way in which a number of honourable senators, senior men who allegedly have been trained in the noble art of the law, have sought to denigrate and destroy the reputation of citizens of this country without their having any opportunity of defending themselves. When I heard the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, refer to some of these matters during a debate, last year I think I was somewhat disturbed that the AttorneyGeneral could refer to people i:i this fashion. I saw him do it again this year. I saw him and some of his colleagues do it again this evening. Senator Rae described this young man as a tuppeny-halfpenny person. Those were the words he used to describe either William Robert Wood or Chris Shanley
What are the circumstances? Other honourable senators went on to say that this was a university prank. I would like to be able to turn back the pages of history to see the sort of pranks that those 2 honourable senators got up to when they went to university. The situation is that a young man comes to Canberra and voluntarily surrenders his liberty for a principle. He believes that the Commonwealth Government has evaded its responsibilities. Robert William Wood, of 42 Dick Street, Chippendale, failed to register in July 1969. This relates to the question I asked the honourable senator some 6 weeks or so ago. Wood was prosecuted and fined for failing to register. He did not pay the fine. Subsequently he went to Bankstown Hospital and refused to submit to an examination. He heard no more about it. He is a very religious young man who holds very strong views about war. He came to Canberra with one of his friends and sought to do what our Attorney-General said he should do - present himself to the Attorney-General and say: ‘I believe that the Government is not carrying out its responsibilities in respect to the National Service Act’.
What has happened? There has been a false arrest and an innocent man’s reputation has been besmirched. Supporters and members of the Government sitting in this chamber have attempted to destroy the reputation of a young man by innuendo and the use of words which I think ill become a member of this Parliament. It is very easy for members of the Government, its supporters, and supporters of the Government’s policy on the National Service Act and Vietnam, to be so critical of these young men who are prepared, because of their consciences and their convictions, to go through the tortures of a court case and be imprisoned for their beliefs. I do not regard them as tuppenny-ha’penny citizens-, I regard them as the salt of the earth and as people who have the courage of their convictions.
I often see in Liberal youth organisations young men and women who are not in uniform but who are prepared to support a policy that puts people into uniform against their will to undergo national service. There are voluntary agencies through which these young Liberal supporters can serve as part of the armed forces. They say that they support and respect those policies. I believe that the young men, and sometimes the women, who demonstrate and express their opposition to the National Service Act deserve the gratitude of this nation, not the denigration that they get in this place.
It seems that in relation to these matters truth is the last consideration. It seems that the Attorney-General is prepared to jump to hasty conclusions. He is prepared to listen to the advice of his officers. I think the record subsequently will show that that advice has been wrong and that the Senate has been misled, as the nation has been misled, by the comments made in the Attorney-General’s statement that was released this evening. The Government has had abundant opportunity to show that it is not adopting a policy of selective national service. It has had abundant opportunity to act against those people who have encouraged young men not to register for national Service. A number of the 1,000 or more of our leading citizens who signed the statement of defiance were subsequently arrested and charged, summonsed and fined. The fines were never collected. There are in our community today many young men who have not registered, or who have registered and have refused to attend for call-up or in some way or other refused to comply with the National Service Act.
I asked a question on 27th April. I think it might be shown that, whilst there might not be thousands of young men involved, certainly the numbers of men who are not being prosecuted are more than the Attorney-General was prepared to concede. The reason they are not being prosecuted is that the Government does not wish to pursue these policies. It realises that they no longer have the enthusiastic support of the Australian people. Chris Shanley is entitled to an apology, not only from Senator Greenwood but also from Senator Rae, for the statements they made this evening about him. I would prefer to see them be big enough to make that apology than force a young man without resources to go to a civil jurisdiction to seek justice in this matter. I believe that the police have bungled the whole incident. It is not a matter of denigrating the police. I have no desire to denigrate the police. But, when they act, let them act in accordance with their responsibilities and treat every citizen in this country as a person who is innocent until he is proven guilty.
– We have heard a great deal of nonsense this evening from people who pretend to be outraged by matters which they have adduced before the Parliament. Senator Gietzelt says that an innocent party has been outraged. How silly can one get! This man obviously has been part of a charade. He has attempted to commit a public mischief and, in the words of those who publish the protest literature, he must pay the normal legal penalty. If he is such a religious man as Senator Gietzelt suggests - perhaps a disciple of St Francis - he has his remedy in the very liberal sections of the National Service Act relating to conscientious objection. When Senator Gietzelt says he considers a man of this type the salt of the earth, I cannot help but wonder what type of defence administration we might expect from a government to which Senator Gietzelt would be a significant adviser. He talks about such people being the salt of the earth. I think he may have the word ‘salt’ mixed up with the word dregs’. I do not want to waste time on what the honourable senator was saying.
It distresses me beyond measure that a man of the erudition and intelligence of Senator Turnbull and my friend Senator O’Byrne can speak in the way in which they have spoken. It distresses me because both Senator Turnbull and Senator O’Byrne had the benefit of my tuition for about2½ months while they were in my company in New York. I expounded to them matters of significance in relation to political philosophy. Honourable senators can imagine my chagrin when my proteges come here this evening and in public talk the nonsense they have. I feel that my tuition has been wasted. As a student of Thomas Gray you will remember, Mr Deputy President, that he said:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
That appears to be what has happened to the careful and conscientious tuition which I gave to Senator Turnbull and Senator O’Byrne.
I should now like to come to the events of midday today. I have some knowledge of what is necessary to arrange for an extensive television coverage of a set-up event. This was a fraud. It was one of those synthetic news making episodes in which those who have attempted to make a farce of the national legislation in respect of national service have become so adept. What I cannot understand is the tender solicitude of honourable senators opposite towards those who are prepared to make a farce of legislation which initially in 1964 the Labor Party supported. Originally the Labor Party supported the national service legislation but now its members seem to go out of their way to support those who attempt to destroy it. Today’s events were merely a thinly veiled attack upon the Attorney-General whose courage and integrity have been a constant thorn in the sides of people who oppose the National Service Act. The incident of this character Shanley pretending to be someone else was intended to be extremely funny but the joke rebounded. This has been another example of grandstanding and now, when the chickens have come home to roost, senators in this chamber are attempting to protect those poor downtrodden people who claim their civil rights are being affronted.
– Do you deny it - an innocent man arrested?
– Do not talk nonsense. These are innocent simple minded people. I do not say that this particular person is an innocent simple minded person but that is the type of peace loving person who has paraded in Collins Street, Melbourne and helped to smash thousands of dollars worth of windows and in the past has attempted to destroy the American Consulate in Commerial Road. These are the people to whose aid honourable senators opposite are only too willing to rush. For that reason I find it extremely difficult to understand their motives. They come to this Parliament sworn to support the legislation of this country and sworn to protect its security and integrity. I must dismiss the contributions we have heard this evening from my friends Senator Turnbull, Senator O’Byrne and Senator Geitzelt as arrant nonsense.
– This Senate is not and cannot be a court of law. If it seeks to be it is in my judgment acting quite wrong and outside its true purpose. The facts are that tonight this Senate has tried - and I think we are all at fault in this to a greater or lesser extent - to put forward information and assert it or allege it as facts, and then decide according to our prejudices - I use the word in the sense of prejudgment - whether some people have acted rightly or wrongly. The simple fact is this: In a magistrate’s court in Sydney tomorrow a man who was arrested under the name of Robert Wood will, if proven to be Robert Wood, undergo the normal processes of law and experience the consequences should he be found to have committed a breach of the law. That is a simple fact of half the incident today.
That law, as Senator Hannan has rightly said, is a law properly made in this Parliament and unanimously adopted by the Parliament and, as such, has to be upheld. Let me make it clear that, like Senator Turnbull, I believe in the National Service Act. I believe in the penalties it imposes. I have been heard to express very strongly in this Parliament my views that our duty is to uphold the rights of both majorities and minorities. As Senator Hannan has said tonight, if the man Wood has strong religious views he should have used the recourse available to him under the law. It is a pity that he did not. It may well be that he had decided not to protest against the National Service Act but to protest against the rule of law. I do not seek to prejudge him. That is a matter for the process of law. That is a matter for evidence.
I deal now with the man Shanley. I am in the happy position of knowing nothing of what happened, except what has been spoken of tonight. There may or may not be a legal process issued tomorrow either by the Crown or by Shanley. When that is known, we will be in a better position to deal with the matter. For example, it is understood that certain attendants have averred that a man said that he was Wood. That is a matter to be determined, not inside the Parliament. I understand that a Senior officer of the Senate, the Usher of the Black Rod, had certain duties, but that is not a matter for this chamber to judge. A lot has been said tonight of the innocence or otherwise of a man. Let me take the heat out of the debate by saying that the protection of natural justice is no monopoly of anyone in this chamber. I say to honourable senators, in low key, that if the man Shanley feels that he is aggrieved, whether or not he is able himself to seek the natural process of law, I, as a member of Parliament, will ensure that he gets full help, if he feels he needs it, of good legal advice to undertake the process of law. There is no bombast in that statement. If the man feels that he has been aggrieved, let him say so. Let him produce the facts, and we will see that he gets good legal help to do so.
There are third parties and fourth parties involved in this case because what we have been on again tonight is an excursion to denigrate the police. Let nobody in this Parliament deny that.
– 1 did not denigrate the police.
– I did not say that you did.
– We have not beard the police story yet. We have heard Shanley’s statement.
– I think the honourable senator will agree with me that we have not heard the police story. Why do honourable senators opposite seek to prejudge the police? I have said that we are here to discuss 3 things. Tomorrow in a magistrate’s court a man named Wood, if he is Wood, will stand his trial in the proper course.
– Senator Greenwood has determined the facts, according to his statement.
– In my view, all of us have been guilty of prejudging. Tomorrow if the man Shanley feels that he has evidence, let him come forward to any one of us. I have proffered myself. I have no monopoly at all. All of us are here as ombudsmen of the individual. If he or his friends feel that he has evidence, I or others will be here in Canberra. Let them come forward.
Let me make clear that there are third and fourth parties to this. I will not stand in this place and hear people denigrate the police, prejudge them and make a mockery of them. The police exist in this community to carry out the lawful processes that this Parliament exists to make. When members of the Opposition denigrate the police, they do not harm the police; they harm the Parliament and, through that, they harm democracy. There is a final body of people which makes the judgment and it is the community. The community makes its judgment when the proper processes of law have taken their course and the facts have been heard. The great mistake we have made tonight is to consider that we are all amateur Perry Masons, that we all can come in here, some of us with divine prescience or pre-knowledge and remarkable briefing on this matter, and feel that we can turn this into a trial by law. The day we do this will be the day we do a disservice to Parliament and to natural justice. Let there be no doubt at all that as far as I am concerned, and I hope I speak for all honourable senators on my side of the House, if any citizen in this country feels that he has been denied natural justice let him come forward, produce the evidence and we will help him to get the full recourse of justice under the law.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I wish at this point to indicate my considerable disquiet, which was reinforced by something which Senator Carrick said, as to whether the Senate should continue this sort of discussion. I have been concerned for some time about this. I made inquiries to determine whether a charge had been laid because if it had a discussion of this sort could clearly be prejudicial. There is still a possibility that some action may be taken so I suggest that both sides of the Senate have traversed this discussion as far as it would be wise to do so. I suggest at this point that we turn to the subject that Senator Mulvihill has for discussion.
– Mr Deputy President, 1 wish to advert briefly to this matter and I assure you, insofar as I am able, that 1 will not say anything prejudicial to anybody. If it appears to you that I am, I will be speaking only briefly.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I call Senator Wheeldon.
– I have listened to Senator Carrick and would agree almost entirely with everything that he said except perhaps with the emphasis he gave to some of the statements he made in his peroration. I agree that it is improper for anybody to reflect upon the police force as a force. I notice that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) is grinning about this. I challenge him if he is grinning in my direction to state any occasion when I have reflected upon the police force. It is improper to reflect on the police force in the same way as it is improper to interfere in any way with the rights of any party being dealt with by the law. This matter has been raised by way of a statement by the Attorney-General in which he, pursuant to a practice which he has indulged in with monotonous regularity since he attained the office of Attorney-General, has cast reflections upon a person who may be subject to charges under the law of this country.
– It is a factual statement.
– The innocence of Senator Laucke serves only to reinforce what I am saying. Senator Laucke said that it was a factual statement. I do not think anybody has claimed that Senator Laucke was present during the commission of this alleged offence or at any of the activities that took place inside King’s Hall. But Senator Laucke in his simplicity accepts it as a factual statement because it has been put forward by the Attorney-General and that is precisely why there are requirements that subjudice statements should not be made by the Attorney-General or any other person because other people just as simple as Senator Laucke will believe that merely because the Attorney-General has said it, it must be a factual statement.
– I have full confidence in the Attorney-General.
– I think Senator Laucke has already made sufficient contribution to the debate on this matter to show just how dangerous the AttorneyGeneral has been without compounding the error. I think Senator Laucke would be assisting his own cause if he were to remain silent for the remainder of the discussion. That to which we have drawn attention previously about the actions of the Attorney-General has been repeated this evening. He has made statements which could be clearly prejudicial to somebody who could be brought to trial. I wish in no way to reflect on the integrity or intentions of Senator Carrick in what he has said tonight. From what I have seen of Senator Carrick in the time he has been a member of this chamber I am prepared to accept them completely at their face value. I am sure that what he said was said with sincerity. But I do sincerely say to Senator Carrick that he should use the influence which he has inside the Liberal Party of Australia to see that something is done about the Attorney-General. I agree with Senator Carrick that somebody who sets out consistently to deprecate the police force is dangerous to society. In the same way, I believe that a principal legal officer who consistently sets out to prejudice people to whom he is politically opposed, and who may come to trial, before they come to trial is even more dangerous to the rule of law and to a just society. That is all I wish to say on the matter. 1 hope that Senator Carrick and those who think like him will consider very carefully the actions of the Attorney-General, particularly in issuing the written statement which he circulated this evening.
– I have listened carefully to what has been said tonight. I do not wish to enter into a debate on the facts of the incidents, which have been described in various ways. I think that the debate has some serious aspects to it. I think that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) ought not to have made the statement that he made this evening in the way in which he did so. I think what has been said by Senator Carrick and by Senator Wheeldon illustrates the argument which has been put to the. Senate by myself and others on earlier occasions, that is, to do what has been done is prejudicial to the rights of the persons affected and is not the proper practice to be followed in these matters. I will not say any more than that because it follows from what I have said and the view you have expressed, Mr Deputy President, that the less that is said now about the affair the better.
– Conscious of the lateness of the hour, I wish to make a short plea in regard to the decision made some time ago by John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd to close the engineering and building product section of the Newcastle works of the Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Division of the company by the end of the year, which would mean that 600 members of the work force could be unemployed. I would not have raised the matter at this time had the Government been more responsive in the other place yesterday when the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) referred to it. Unfortunately it was argued in the other place by the Minister for Supply, Mr Garland, that this was a matter for the New South Wales Government. My purpose in rising tonight is to make a plea, through Senator Cotton, for the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) to be made aware of the anatomy of these impending mass dismissals so that some action can be taken between now and December.
I wish to make one final and further observation. Next week we will be inundated with talk about industrial relations. I say in all sincerity that on a number of occasions the Minister for Trade and industry, notably in the rolling stock industry, has intervened to stabilise the employment prospects of certain people. In response to a promise I gave to the Government Whip, Senator Young, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a documented history of the dispute in the form of a communication forwarded to me by the Assistant National Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, Mr H. P. Hurrell, together with a suitable annexure. If those documents were incorporated in Hansard I am confident that the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Trade and Industry would probe them thoroughly and, I hope, collaborate at a later stage with Mr Charles Jones, other interested people and the unions, including the major union concerned, which is the FIA. I seek leave to have those documents incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
188 George Street, Sydney 2000 11th May, 1972.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Commonwealth Parliament Office, 5 Martin Place, SYDNEY 2000.
On 21 3t April, 1972, John Lysaght (Australia) Limited made a press statement announcing that the Engineering and Building Products Sections of the Newcastle .Works of Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Division of the Company would cease operations by the end of December, 1972, and that between 21st April, 1972, and the end of 1972, some six hundred employees would be affected. (See document marked ‘A’.)
Mr W. R. Utteridge, Chief General Manager of .Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Newcastle piepared a document under the heading of - 1972 Retrenchment - Wages Employees. (See document marked ‘B’.)
The document is self-explanatory and the general message is that apart from employees aged 60 years and over who will be granted pension payments on the basis that they would have worked with the Company up to the age of 65 years and the contributions of the employer and interest will be paid by the Company, and that if any employee who remained in the employment of the Company to the date specified for their retrenchment or retirement would be paid an additional $250 lump sum gratuity. In all other cases, the normal pension programme entitlement would apply.
The Union insists that these men who have given up to 49 years service to the Company are entitled to redundancy payments and that pension programmes should not be used in a complete close-down of the Company’s operations in Newcastle, excepting Sankey, which is treated as a separate division of the Company’s operations.
There are, at present, approximately 1150 employees employed by the whole of the Company’s operations at Newcastle, NSW, and it is expected that there will be 600 retrenchments, including 120 office staff, leaving 480 blue collar workers of whom 327 are members of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia. Of these men, 57 would have given 40 to 49 years of service, 134 would have given 30 to 39 years of service, 48 would have given 20 to 29 years of service, 28 would have given 10 to 19 years of service, 60 with less than 1 year or up to 9 years of service.
That short summary only covers FLA membership and a similar pattern would also apply to tradesmen employed by this Company. (See document marked ‘C.)
A further document was prepared by the Company headed - 1972 Close-down - FIA Employees -Service- dated 26th April, 1972, setting out the number of employees excluding Organic
Finishes Division, totalling 273 and their service in years and the number of employees involved. (See document marked ‘D’.)
A further document dated 27th April, 1972, setting out- 1972 Close-down- FIA employeesAge Distribution. This document sets out the age and service calculated as at 21st April, 1972, of employees whom the FIA is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey Division and Raw Materials Section, but include Organic Finishes Division. (See document marked ‘E’.)
A document was prepared by the Company at the Union’s request setting out - Wages employees Retirement Fund - Examples - (Employed at 21 years of age). This document set out the amounts of money our members would receive from the Company taking into account years of service and the total fund and past service payments. (See document marked ‘F’.)
The examples show that the pension programme should not be used to cover redundancy and that a proper scheme should be agreed to giving our members a justifiable measure of security which they will not receive under the Company’s proposed programme.
A meeting of all our members was held in the Newcastle Town Hall on Friday, 28th April, 1972, and the unanimous decisions of that meeting are enclosed. (See document marked ‘G’.)
In pursuance of Resolution 1. of the meeting held on Friday, 28th April, 1972, a conference took place with Mr R. Utteridge, Chief General Manager of Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries, Newcastle, and Mr Jock Shaw, Chief Industrial Officer of the Company in Australia. This conference was held on Wednesday, 10th May, 1972. The Union was represented by Messrs J. Caesar, H. McCarthy and H. Hurrell, and the Union delegation was advised by the Company that because its Newcastle operations in the last five or six years have contributed nothing, neither profit nor loss, for an investment of twelve million dollars ($12,000,000), the Company was forced to make its decision to close down its opertions. The Company stated that in dealing with building products, using sheet steel, that it had developed a market for this product but so had their competitors, and as a result the Company has had to decentralise.
Five years ago, John Lysaght took over Brownbuilt Industries which carried out operations in all States of Australia and that as a result of decentralisation (and to use their term - rationalisation’) Newcastle had become an unprofitable project.
The Company claimed that their only national competitor is Stramit but there are hundreds of smaller competitors who operate on a State basis and that some of their competitors are using imported sheet steel.
Federal Government to intervene in this situation.
In the last five or six years, when the Company has stated that their Newcastle investment has returned nothing, there has never been one occasion when this Company has had detailed discussions with this Union or any other Union regarding any problems which they may have had.
The Federal Minister for Labour and National Service made a public statement in Brisbane last week on this question of communication and it is suggested by this Union that a moratorium for a period of twelve months should apply so that the direct parties may have discussions in depth to see whether or not this Company’s operations can continue and operate on a profitable basis, because it should be understood that the Company started its operations in Newcastle and concentrated on sheet rolling and that when A.I. & S. developed its Hot and Cold Strip Mill, sheet rolling was transferred to Port Kembla and the Company’s Newcastle operations then applied to -
Light and Heavy Engineering Products, and became in essence a job operation, usually with old equipment and our members state that it has been through their efforts and the achievement of substantial profits which have been used to expand to Port Kembla and all other States of Australia and the benefit that they have finally achieved is redundancy.
By 1985, over six hundred million dollars will have been spent on Westernport and already one hundred mililon dollars has been found by this Company, sixty million dollars from overseas sources and forty million dollars from its own internal investment (See documen marked’I’ - Anatomy of a Super Giant).
The Union was informed on Wednesday, 10th May 1972, at its conference with the Company, that the Company’s operations at Sankey, involving a total staff of 340, and the Raw Materials Section, with a staff of approximately 20, making a total staff of 360, should be kept separate and distinct from the retrenchments of the Company’s other Divisional operations in the same plant.
The FIA has 195 members out of a total of 360 involved and the deputation was informed that this section of the operations involving 150 females should be kept separate and distinct because the current workers supply electric motors and transformer sheets and that there has been a tariff inquiry into this industry of recent date and that because our members in the main have from 20 to 49 years service with the Company that they are too old to perform this alternative work because the Union has always insisted in the past on the principle of last to come, first to go, so that the Company claims that it has been left with an old labour force.
An additional reason why there should be an inquiry held into all aspects of. the company’s decision is that it is alleged by the Union that there are numerous persons who have received serious injuries over the years prior to the FIA’s present administration who received nominal amounts in compensation on the basis that they would be found a job for life in the employment of the Company.
One example of this is that in 1938 a Mr Ted Brown received three hundred and seventy five POUNDS for severe injuries to his arm. He is now aged 54 years, having given the Company 39 years service and his chances of other employment, like many of his colleagues who have received similar injuries, is negligible.
Any steps that you can take to have this matter inquired into by a committee of the Senate will bring out all the facts associated with the Company’s decision and whether or not any steps can be taken to force this Company to continue its operations. If this cannot be achieved, an inquiry will show the necessity of having a redundancy scheme worked out as agreed to between the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour and the Waterside Workers’ Federation. (See document marked ‘ ‘J’ which provides for redundancy payments as well as pension benefits for persons who are members of the W.W.F. who have or will become redundant in the immediate future.)
I take this opportunity of thanking you for agreeing to pursue this matter in any way that you believe will assist our members and members of other Unions who are involved in the Lysaght close-down and any measures that you and your colleagues take to have ‘this matter publicly inquired into is very much appreciated.
1972 RETRENCHMENT- WAGES EMPLOYEES
The Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions will be excluded from the general retrenchment programme, that is, these Divisions will continue to operate with their present personnel subject to, the effect of retirements of employees sixty years of age and over, and normal labour turnover.
A gratuity payment of $250 will be made to all, employees who were in the Company’s employ at the 21st April, 1972, and who remain in the employ of the Company to the date specified for their retrenchment or retirement.
Notwithstanding that ten years’ service has not been completed at retrenchment, employees who were in the employ of the Company at the 16th January, 1966, will be paid past service benefit of $55 for each completed year of service to the date of joining the Wages Employees’ Retirement Fund, or to the date of retrenchement where they did not join the Fund.
With the exception of those in reserved occupations, employees who by the 31st December, 1972, are sixty years of age or more will be retired by no later than 31st December, 1972, with benefits on the following -
Written advice will be available individually to employees at two points of time -
The latter notice will be given as early as possible.
These will be treated as if they had been given notice of retrenchment except for employees in Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions. Payment of $250 lump sum will not apply.
These will receive full retrenchment benefits excluding payment of $250 lump sum.
Employees who wish to leave before their specified termination date will be expected to give and work out normal notice (one week). However, where a new employer insists on a commencement date which does not permit full notice to be given to and worked for this Company, shorter notice may be permitted subject to the needs of the employee’s department at the time notice is given. Employees will be requested to try to arrange with new employers that starting dates with them permit normal notice to be given here.
If unexpected circumstances require retrenchment before the 31st July 1972, or in advance of previously announced retrenchment dates, as much notice as possible will be given.
The basis for any transfer to Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions to fill a vacancy will be that of length of service with the Company provided that employees concerned -
Where the occupation is regarded by the Divisional Manager concerned as a reserved occupation the right to select the appropriate employee will be such Manager’s responsibility.
Where such transfer is effected, termination of employment may subsequently occur where an employee does not meet performance requirements in these Divisions. In this case where termination takes place on or before the 31st December 1972, it will be treated as retrenchment. Where termination occurs after 31st December 1972, it will be treated as any other termination.
The Company will offer to selected employees transfer to other Company locations, and the Company will reimburse such employees for the reasonable costs of transferring their families and their personal effects. Should an employee not wish to take advantage of this opportunity, the Company is still prepared to extend full benefits as if he were retrenched.
Request forms seeking entitlements will be available from foremen. These will be completed in the Personnel Department and returned confidentially to each employee as soon as possible.
1972 CLOSEDOWN- F.I.A. EMPLOYEES - SERVICE
Note: Company service calculated as at 21.4.72 of employees whom F.I. A. is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey and Organic Finishes Division.
26th April, 1972
1972 CLOSEDOWN - F.I.A. EMPLOYEES - SERVICE
Note: Company service calculated as at 21.4.72 of employees whom F.I.A. is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey and Organic Finishes Division.
27lh April, 1972
1972 CLOSEDOWN - F.I.A. EMPLOYEES- AGE DISTRIBUTION
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720518_senate_27_s52/>.