27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising on Thursday, 26th October 1972, shall adjourn until Friday. 27th October, at 10 a.m. and that the sittings that day shall be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.
That unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising on Friday. 27th October 1972, shall adjourn until Monday, 30th October, at 2.30 p.m. and the sittings that day shall be 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
That unless otherwise ordered question time, including questions on notice, for the remainder of the present sittings shall not exceed 45 minutes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Secretary of the General Practitioners Society, Dr Yuille warned yesterday that doctors could still increase their fees, despite the decision by the Australian Medical Association on Sunday not to recommend a rise at the present time? Did Dr Yuille say also that the AMA had indulged in a ‘save McMahon campaign’ in deciding to delay the next fee rise? In view of these comments can the Minister tell us whether it is his view that the doctors intend to increase fees substantially straight after the election? Will he tell us what action the Government intends to take now in the national interest to persuade all doctors to observe the common fee, including the great number who are now charging much more than the common fee?
– This is a very long question which, I am afraid, will require a fairly lengthy answer. The fact of the matter is that under the proposals that exist at present in relation to the common fee concept there is an arrangement with the Australian Medical
Association, through its federal body, for a common fee concept. The generality of the situation is that the concept provides in New South Wales in relation to general practitioners a surgery visit common fee of $4 - in other States it is lower than that - patient participation of 80c for a surgery visit and $1.20 for a home visit, and a maximum of $5 for a specialist operation. There is no compulsion on any doctor in this arrangement. Senator Murphy would be aware of that because his question acknowledges it when he says there has not been a full application of the concept. The federal body of the AMA has recently been given power to negotiate with the Government, but that does not bind the individual practitioner in any way. It is true, particularly in New South Wales, that prior to 30th June the application of the concept was not good when compared with the situation in other States, particularly in relation to general practitioner home visits and consultations. Tomorrow I will be putting down the figures as at 30th June which will reveal this position. It is believed - and the Government hopes - as a consequence of the Mason report and the increases which were given of 20c for surgery visits and 40c for home visits that when these figures eventually emerge at the end of the year they will show an improvement. The suggestion that has been made by some political writer that this is an attempt to save the face of the Prime Minister is laughable in the light of the statement which the Federal Council made and which accompanied its decision. I do not think I really need to go on with this point.
As to the future, I believe and hope that there will be a greater application of the common fee concept. If that does not eventuate any government will have to look at the next step. But I think all honourable senators will recognise that that poses many problems. On Sunday last a decision was taken by the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association after consideration of the many factors involved. It resolved at that meeting that it would make no recommendation for an interim variation in fees. That is the current situation. I hope that the present situation will carry through until 30th June next year which is the normal cycle. But that does not deny to the AMA the right of consultation with ray Department and the Government if it wants to put a view prior to that date. At this time, happily, it has decided that it is not prepared to make a recommendation. I can only answer questions on fact. I cannot look into a crystal ball.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry refers to reports of considerable concern being expressed in Japan at the resumption of large scale wheat sales by Australia to China and of fears that these sales may mean that supplies may not be available to the Japanese market which has been opened up in the last few years. Bearing in mind that the wheat crisis of several years ago was caused by over-emphasis on vast sales to China which were cut off without warning, and also bearing in mind that the wheat crisis was alleviated by diversifying our sales to other countries such as Japan, can we be assured that our wheat authorities will act to keep our new customers, at least as a safety provision.
– I think that that assurance will be quite unnecessary in view of the record of the Australian Wheat Board over past years. Honourable senators will recall that only last week the Minister for Primary Industry made the statement that all wheat, either quota or over quota, would be accepted this year from this harvest and that the first advance of SI. 10 would be paid on over quota wheat at the time of delivery. I point out to the honourable senator that the Wheat Board can vary its delivery dates over the coming year for sales made. It could extend some of the deliveries into the 1973-74 harvest if it found itself becoming short of wheat. I would accept that the Australian Wheat Board would have been considering carefully its old customers, as well as its new customers, at the time of making the sale to China.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement made by the South Australian Minister for Works, Mr Corcoran, at the recent opening of the Tumut 3 power station, that a storage such as that proposed at the Chowilla site in South Australia is an essential requirement for ensuring full benefit to South Australia of the Dartmouth project? As this matter was the subject of a question I directed to the Minister some weeks ago, I ask him now whether he has received further information about it?
– I have not read the report of Mr Corcoran’s statement at the opening of the station on Saturday. I had hoped to be there but was not able to do so. I have some general information that bears on this matter in which South Australia has a great interest and I hope that it will answer the question asked by the honourable senator. Major storage on the River Murray is a matter not for the Water Resources Council but the River Murray Commission. With the completion of the Dartmouth project South Australia will receive additional benefit through the increase of its annual entitlement of water from 1.254 million acre feet to 1.5 million acre feet. During periods of drought it will retain a one-third share of the available water as compared with less than onequarter under the previous agreement. That should be a substantial improvement for South Australia. No new sites have been considered at present but I am given to understand - I think this is important for South Australia - that studies of the further development of the River Murray system are being undertaken and the merits of future storage situations are being carefully considered at present. I hope that information will be of some assistance to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact, as has been reported, that at a meeting in Western Australia on Saturday the Minister for Primary Industry made the statement that an inquiry not yet begun by the proposed Australian Wool Commission would overwhelmingly recommend acquisition of the Australian wool clip? If so, what is the value of such an inquiry? How could the Minister anticipate the conclusions of an inquiry that has not yet commenced.
– I think that the honourable senator and I can only go on what we saw in the Press. Neither of us heard the statement made by the Minister. I think I had better get a copy of the Minister’s statement so that we can have a look at it.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, refers to the announcement by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the findings of the Bureau of Transport Economics in relation to railway sleepers for the TransAustralian railway. Is the Minister aware that the Bureau reported that concrete sleepers were determined as being the least costly alternative for this railway? Has he read in the report that the Bureau states that concrete sleepers have distinct advantages for later type rail track and that problems of cost and sensitivity to shock have been overcome? Can the Minister give me further information on what the Minister for Shipping and Transport means by the social factors involved? Is he aware of the effects of his decision on the unemployment situation in South Australia and urban development in South Australian gulf towns?
– I am well aware of the situation regarding concrete versus timber sleepers. As I remarked last week we are involved here in an area of tribal warfare. Not the least matter is the concern that South Australians very properly have for the welfare and benefits to be achieved by employment in their State. The report came to my desk only this morning. I have not yet read it, but being aware that it had been published I thought that South Australian senators in particular would like some information which might help them so I asked the Minister responsible to let me have the considered views of his Department. I am informed that on 22nd October the Minister announced that Commonwealth Railways would continue to use timber sleepers in maintenance work on the TransAustralian Railway while price and social factors are compatible. He has also announced the release of the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics which I have here. In reaching decisions account was taken not only of the Bureau’s report but also of employment and social affects of any decision.
I cannot answer the question further than that except to say, for myself, that naturally the social effects of employment will be apparent in South Australia in connection with concrete sleepers as they will be apparent in Western Australia in the timber sleeper area. The Minister says in these notes I have that at present concrete sleepers appear to be more economic for the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway but because construction is some time away, it has not yet been decided what alternative tenders will be called for. It is expected that they will be called for in respect of both types when sleepers are required and will be evaluated at that time. No decision has been made yet in regard to sleepers for the Adelaide connection as the report by the consultants is not yet finalised and in particular - this is important for South Australia - discussions between the responsible Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport and the South Australian Government are necessary. I will check the honourable senator’s question after question time to make sure that I have covered the points that he raised. If not, I shall see that they are covered for him by the responsible Minister.
– Did the Minister for Civil Aviation state recently in Wollongong that he would be considering the Maddens Plains area as a possible site for Sydney’s second international airport? Is this area still under consideration as an airport site?
– When I was in Wollongong speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry - it was about 3 weeks ago last Friday - one of the local people said to me: ‘Have you thought of Maddens Plains as an airport sites?’ I said: ‘Not myself, but tell me about it’. He told me where it was and on the way back to Sydney I stopped and had a good look at the area. It had what might be called ‘immediate attractions’ because an expressway runs through it and it is a large area of fairly open country which is quite high. On my return to Sydney 1 spoke lo the people concerned with the choice of a second airport for Sydney. I was informed that they had looked at the area very closely. It is not a possible site because it has a substantial problem of fog which makes it quite unusable.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls the Minister aware that there seems to be a long delay in the granting of rural reconstruction funds to some applicants in Tasmania? Will he take whatever action is necessary to speed up the processing so that farmers who are dependent upon these grants will be able to use them economically?
– This seems to be a complaint that is put forward by each of the State governments. The honourable senator will recall that early in the year there was a meeting in Sydney of State Ministers concerned with the Minister for Primary Industry. At that time the Commonwealth agreed that the $100m previously made available to the States over 4 years should now be made available to the States over 2 years. The Commonwealth has made that money available to the States and it is up to the State authorities to process these applications that they receive as quickly as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Has the Minister seen reports of a new technique called pyrolysis developed by a British Government laboratory for the successful and profitable disposal of rubbish which could earn millions of dollars a year? As this new method avoids burning and consequential air pollution by converting rubbish into various commercial gases and liquids, will he make inquiries of the British Government to see whether this new disposal method could be successfully introduced into Australia? If inquiries are encouraging, will he have discussions with the respective State Ministers for the introduction of this new method of disposal to further reduce the general pollution of the environment.
– I have seen the report to which the honourable senator referred. Doubtless the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, whom I represent, has also seen it. I am not in a position to give any information at the moment, but I will convey the question to the Minister and arrange for him to provide information to the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– For the benefit of the Senate, can the Attorney-General summarise the contents of the note given to the Yugoslav Government in reply to its protest about Australian authorities doing nothing to prevent Yugoslav terrorists training in this country? ls the AttorneyGeneral aware of statements made by police in Wallsend court last week-end during the hearing of charges of possessing an unlicensed revolver against a Yugoslav named Miskovic? Did the police state that Miskovic told them that members of the Ustasha movement had been in Newcastle 2 weeks previously seeking him and another man and that he was carrying the revolver for his protection? In view of these constant references to the Ustasha, does the Attorney-General still deny that a Croatian Liberation Movement, obviously using the feared name of Ustasha, is active in Australia?
– The question is an involved one. 1 suggest that the honourable senator put the bulk of it on notice, and I will endeavour to get him a reply. With regard to the last part of it, to my knowledge, no organisation in this country goes under the name of Ustasha. I think there is corroboration for that statement in statements made by Dr J. F. Cairns who probably has played an outstanding role as a person who has alleged that there are Ustasha elements in this country. He is on record as saying that as far as he is aware there is no organisation under that name in this country. I suggest that if the honourable senator seeks information on this matter along the lines that he has sought it from me he should consult his Party colleague. The rest of the question is a matter upon which I would have to get information, and I suggest that he put it on notice.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Is the AttorneyGeneral the sole Federal Minister authorised to permit telephone tapping in Australia? Can the Minister say whether the Prime Minister’s telephone line was tapped last week by members of the Australian Labor Party or their agents? If no tapping took place, can the Minister inform the Senate how Senator Douglas McClelland of the ALP was able, in the Senate last Thursday, to ask a question which alleged a telephone call took place between the Prime Minister and Sir Frank Packer about what would, if true, have been a very private matter?
– Obviously, it is absurd to suggest that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation taps the telephone of the Prime Minister, and noone in his right mind would suggest that it does. I think that the implications in Senator Hannan’s question are implications upon which all honourable senators should ponder. I know that last week Senator Douglas McClellend asked a question about whether the Prime Minister telephoned a certain person. How can anybody know whether a private telephone conversation occurred, unless he has been told by one of the parties to that conversation? Obviously Senator Douglas McClelland was not privy to that information from either the Prime Minister or the person whom the Prime Minister telephoned. Therefore the question was asked without any foundation whatsoever. There was no basis for it. Therefore it was an unwarranted question. The asking of such a question represents a tactic in which other members of the Australian Labor Party have been engaging of suggesting action by the Prime Minister and saying that on the basis of that suggested action some form of impropriety can be imputed. We have seen this campaign of denigration and vilification of the Prime Minister being carried on for weeks on that absolutely unwarranted basis. I think my point is further corroborated by this statement. I asked Senator Douglas McClelland to put his question on notice if he really wanted the information. So far he has not put his question on the notice paper. Therefore, I feel confirmed in my view that the question was asked simply for the purpose of getting some headlines and publicity, which he duly got, thereby creating this aura which the Labor Party wants to create.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. In the consultations held so far between the Commonwealth and the States relating to the Constitution have local government bodies been involved? If not, does the Government intend inviting local government bodies to take part in future discussions related to constitutional reform?
– The steering committee which met in Adelaide in early October decided that the constitutional convention will commence in Sydney towards the end of May next year. At that steering committee meeting considerable discussion took place upon the role and possible participation of local government bodies in this convention. The Prime Minister very early had indicated that the Government took the view that local government should be directly involved in this convention. That view was subscribed to by Commonwealth representatives of all parties at the steering committee meeting which was held in Adelaide. The position has been deferred until the next meeting of the steering committee which will be held early next year with a view to enabling the State governments to consider ways and means by which representation of the local government bodies might be suggested to the convention. Obviously, as reflection will indicate, the method by which we have representation of local governing bodies with diverse interests within a State and from State to State is a very complex problem. But ultimately the decision as to the role which local government bodies will play must be for the convention itself when it starts. Whether local government bodies will be given merely representation, observer status or full delegate status is a matter for that convention.
– I ask you, Mr President, whether you are aware that 4 Joint House attendant doorkeepers have not been equipped with new uniforms for a long period, and that when a new attendant is appointed he is issued with a secondhand uniform. Are you aware also that the same attendants are never allowed to remove uniform coats even during the most oppressive summer heat? 1 respectfully request that these matters be corrected, if possible, before the Parliament rises.
– Order! I shall give the matter attention and reply to the honourable senator before the end of question time.
– I direct my question to the Minis’.er for Civil Aviation and refer to a report that Qantas Airways Ltd has selected French vintage champagne for inflight service. Can the Minister inform me why the Australian international airline has selected French and not Australian wine - wine acknowledged by any standards to be of high quality?
– Qantas Airways Ltd is aiming to attract the maximum number of the travelling public to fly overseas and it has a number of devices to achieve this - beautiful girls, high class food, a high standard of flying and a various assortment of wines. It is my understanding that Qantas serves both Australian and French champagne. I am a beer drinker myself, so I am not very much concerned with this problem. But I think it is a fair question and I shall ask the people concerned whether it has been established that French champagne really does that much to enhance business. I think that is as much as I can do. On the rare occasions that I drink champagne, I cannot detect the difference.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Does the Minister recall that on 17th October in answer to a question by Senator Wriedt he stated: ‘I think there were something like 60 files in the Department of
Civil Aviation which in one way or another had some relation to Jetair Australia Ltd’? If the references were in 60 files, why were only 3 documents tabled in another place as the relevant documents between the Department and Jetair Australia Ltd?
– A prolonged search of more than 60 files by a number of officers over quite a period of time disclosed that they were the relevant papers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Firstly, what percentage of the unemployment figures can be directly or indirectly attributed to unauthorised, unwarranted and irresponsible strikes? Secondly, as Queensland, with a Country Party-Liberal Party Government, has a low unemployment rate and the 3 Labor controlled States the highest, is the current wave of industrial lawlessness in Queensland aimed at altering this embarrassing situation? Thirdly, will the Minister ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to do all in his power to assist the Queensland Government to maintain industrial sanity in that State and prevent a handful of communists and fellow travellers from sabotaging large new industrial developments particularly at Gladstone and Townsville?
– It is undoubtedly true that a significant percentage of the unemployment figures is a direct consequence of strikes-
– Did you write his question for him?
– Order! Senator Keeffe will cease interjecting.
– That is an impertinent interjection, on the level of the honourable senator. The suggestion is made that because Queensland has the lowest unemployment rate and the 3 Labor controlled States have the highest there is some political motivation in attempts being made to damage Queensland’s employment record. As to that 1 would not like to comment. I have no direct evidence. But it is an interesting idea. With regard to the
Questions third part of the question about asking the Minister whether he will give all assistance possible to prevent industrial disruption, I shall bring the honourable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister and I am sure 1 can anticipate an assurance from him that it will have his special attention. We are all conscious of the disruption that is threatening the entire community particularly in Gladstone. That is a matter of great concern not merely to Queensland but also to the Commonwealth Government.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a passage of the speech of the Prime Minister in the other place last Thursday concerning the Jetair transaction which read as follows:
Ministerial authority for the approval of the funds for aid purposes was in the hands of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Department. Ministerial responsibility for the actual purchase was covered in the administrative orders by the Department of Supply. In the final analysis that Department was the one that finished the transactions and said that the negotiation was satisfactory.
Does the Minster accept the clear implication from this statement that responsibility for the procedural irregularity of this transaction rests on him as the then Minister for Supply and not on Mr McMahon as the then Minister for Foreign Affairs?
– I think I can say - and it would be within the knowledge of everybody who is interested in this - that the suggestion in the honourable senator’s question can be quite erroneous. I do not accept that the statement contained the suggested implication. I do not think that the Prime Minister makes such implications. The Prime Minister says what he wants to say and says it categorically. There is no implication in that which reflects upon me in any way. As everybody knows, I was overseas when the whole of the transaction took place.
– I direct my question to Senator Drake-Brockman which relates to both the Primary Industry portfolio and the Education and Science
Questions 1765 portfolio. I ask: What has been done to accelerate the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s investigations of the apparent disastrous effects of 1080 poison on the environment? Further, for how long will Australian farmers have to go to gaol to force some overdue action to be taken to provide a less lethal pesticide?
– As the honourable senator would know, there has been a quite considerable investigation of the effects of 1080. As to the remainder of his question, I think I had better have a look at it and seek further information on it.
– I desire to ask a question of the Attorney-General. Can he inform the Senate of the reasons stated by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in its judgment ordering the handing back to Taiwanese authorities of the fishing boats which were seized for allegedly fishing in Australian waters?
– I am aware from Press reports only of the decision which was made yesterday by Mr Justice Forster in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 1 can only suggest to the honourable senator at this point of time that he refer to those Press reports. I will obtain a copy of the judgment as soon as practicable and endeavour to acquaint him with the reasons which the judge gave.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In the letter tabled by the Minister from Alexander Barton to him it was stated that the 6 aeroplanes concerned did not belong to Jetair Australia Ltd but to another company. I ask: With whom was the contract for the sale of the aeroplanes signed? Was it with Jetair? If it was not with Jetair, was it with Brins Australia Ltd? If not will he give the name of the company with which it was signed? Will he assure the Senate that the Government, or the Department of Foreign Affairs, was not unwittingly party to a fraud by Alexander Barton against the shareholders of Brins Australia Ltd? 24 October 1972
– It is a dreadful reflection upon the honourable senator that he should bring in an imputation of fraud in this way. The documents have been tabled-
– Some of them.
– The documents have all been tabled, except those that have been put in the excluded file - about 1 1 out of 600-odd. This file has been made available to the Leader of the Opposition to peruse at his leisure, but he has not found time to do that yet. The documents have been made available, including the contracts. If it rejoices the tedious soul of Senator Georges to do so he can go through all the Government contracts and see the company in whose name the sale was made. I do not recall the actual name of the vendor in the Department of Supply’s formal contracts.
– Because it is immaterial. No question has been raised as to want of title of the vendor, and anybody but an ignoramus would know that often contracts are made in the names of people on behalf of other owners or on behalf of limited interests. The money has been paid through the Treasury, and the Government has satisfied the vendor’s liability deducting some special accounts owing to the Government. The imputation that there is any fraud in which the Government has been implicated is a disreputable imputation not based upon any fact whatsoever.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I refer to the numerous previous questions relating to the matter of the introduction in Australia of family courts. Can the Attorney-General indicate whether any progress has been made in the consideration of that matter?
– 1 know that over a number of years questions have been raised about the desirability of family courts and that there have been seminars and discussions in which those interested in the project have been engaged. Essentially, the introduction of family courts is a matter for the court structure of the various States, although I must qualify that by suggesting that it largely depends upon what a person envisages when he uses the expression ‘family courts’. It is coincidental that Senator Rae should have asked this question because it is my intention to table later this week a paper which has been prepared by an officer of my Department on this whole question of family courts, with a view to providing information and stimulating public inquiry and discussion of the merits of family courts. This officer undertook a fellowship in the United States of America where he made family courts his study. I believe that the report which he has given to me is of value and ought to be generally disseminated for information. I expect to table the report before the Parliament rises.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral to tell us what has happened to the Criminology Research Bill which was passed through this Parliament early last year and assented to in April last year. Does the Attorney-General recall that he himself used words to the effect that it was a very important Bill and it was most urgent that it be passed through the Parliament without delay? Will he tell us whether the Bill has yet been proclaimed and, if so, when it was proclaimed, and what is the reason for the delay until now in taking action under the Bill?
– My recollection is that this Bill went through the Senate without any debate whatsoever by the Opposition, but that does not deny the general proposition that the Bill is a significant measure. Steps have been taken and I hope to be able to make an announcement before the Parliament rises.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the outcome of research which has been carried out at several universities in Australia into the factors concerned in the clotting of blood and its effect on heart disease? Is it a fact that the results of the research indicate that serum cholesterol level is not a key factor in heart disease? Have the National Heart Foundation and some prominent heart surgeons, such as Professor Blacket of New South Wales, lent their names in the past to a criticism of the consumption of animal fats, particularly dairy products, and advocated the consumption of margarine? Will the Minister advocate to these bodies that their past attitude be reassessed and that some amends would be appropriate for the great harm which they have attributed and caused to the Australian dairy industry?
asked me a question on this matter last week and I have a prepared answer to the question which I propose to deliver today. In accordance with the courtesies of the Parliament I think Senator Webster’s question should stand over. The answer which I will give to Senator Primmer’s question will cover also the question asked by Senator Webster.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. In relation to the free structure for medical officers operating under the national health scheme, what consideration, if any, is given to the position of psychiatrists, hypnotherapists and people operating in that area of the medical profession whose consultations generally are substantially longer than the consultations of medical practititioners and range over a fairly protracted period of time involving a great number of consultations? Is any special allowance made for the length of these consultations? What is the basis of arriving at these figures?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI should like to reply later in depth to the honourable senator’s question, but I mention now that there is a schedule in relation to specialists, the fees for whom vary from one group of specialists to another. What the honourable senator has said is true in part in that in some respect of some of the specialties, in terms of time taken for treatment - and I qualify my remarks by saying strictly in terms of time for treatment - the schedule may allow a certain inequality, taking into account that a specialist in one area would normally take longer than some other specialist. For example, one would recognise that in the area of psychiatry, analysis and diagnosis could require consultations extending over many hours, whereas a person specialising in skin disorders might be able to make a diagnosis much more quickly. The honourable senator is suggesting that the time required by a specialist is a factor to be taken into account in determining the rate shown in the schedule. This is a very complex matter. Because I always try to be careful when giving kerbside opinions and because I am not a medical man 1 should like to give a considered reply to the question before we rise and after I have a complete knowledge of the background. While I am on my feet I ask for the cooperation of the Senate, in the interests of everybody here, by bringing question time to a close very quickly.
– Some honourable senators have not asked questions yet and I propose to recognise them.
– Did the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs hear a statement by a Sydney aircraft broker on the Australian Broadcasting Commission last Friday that the condition of the Jetair Australia Ltd DC3s was poor and. on expert advice, he would have tendered for only one of the aircraft, that the absolute maximum price he would have paid was $32,000 for one and $25,000 for the others? Is the Minister aware that the broker regarded the $70,000 quote to convert the Royal Australian Air Force aircraft as claimed by the Minister as quite extraordinary and that the price paid to Jetair made them the most expensive DC3s sold anywhere in the world in recent years? Can the Minister explain why the figures he has quoted are so different from those of a broker whose knowledge of the aircraft market is not in question?
– It is incredible that an honourable senator w. uk** n<e responsibility of trundling in here as the basis of his question an anonymous broker, either invented or inverted, by the announcer on the ABC, I think by the name of Joyce. It is suggested that the figure of $70,000 each for the conversion of the Royal Australian Air Force machines to civilian configuration was too high. Senator Wriedt quotes an anonymous broker. Fancy a broker with a care for his reputation giving an anonymous interview as a ventriloquist for Mr Joyce! When these people contest that figure do they understand that the documents over several months from the Department of Supply and Department of Foreign Affairs vouch for that figure as the responsible estimate made by the Department of Supply for converting the original 5 RAAF aeroplanes to civilian configuration? Being of a curious turn of mind, when I received the transcript of the interview of this anonymous broker on Friday morning I saw fit to have a reference made to East-West Airlines Ltd which was acquainted with the conversion of the RAAF machines and which had an historical association with the Jetair Australia Ltd machines.
The cost of the conversion of the RAAF machines to civilian registration with updated radio and zero time engines and inspections was estimated by EastWest Airlines at $71,000 for passenger configuration and $59,000 for cargo configuration. If those figures are applied to the 5 aircraft which are under discussion, the cost of their conversion to passenger configuration would be $343,000. When the estimate confronting us rose to $315,000 we thought fit to buy aircraft which were already in civilian configuration from Jetair for $275,000. When refurbishing costs of $27,000 were added, which the same commentator said must have been great, the cost of those Jetair aeroplanes in fly away condition was $302,000. The cost of conversion of the 5 RAAF planes is responsibly estimated by East-West Airlines at $343,000. It was suggested too by the same source - which is sufficient authority for Senator Wriedt with the assistance of irresponsible sections of television and Press to carry on a smear campaign - that the price paid to Jetair was more than the market value. A gentleman in commerce who, I would think would have had little experience with aircraft appeared on the television programme and suggested that he could buy comparable planes at $32,000 or $22,000. We bought 6 aircraft for $275,000. The East-West valuation of those 6 Jetair aeroplanes, of which it had an intimate knowledge, on the Australian market at the time of purchase by the Commonwealth was $332,948. I wonder whether it is suggested that East- West is partial, wanting in integrity or experience, or is under pressure, and I wonder whether there is any part of the media which will think that its responsibility to the truth is such that it will report those facts with appropriate notice.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, refers to concrete sleepers. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the strong criticisms of the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport contained in the editorials of 2 morning newspapers, the Australian’ and the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ as a result of Mr Nixon’s decision to order timber sleepers for the Trans-Australian Railway although the cost advantage of concrete sleepers would be $2. 8m? Has the Minister noted that the newspapers suggest that the decision is occasioned and motivated by political reasons? What are his observations on that statement? Has the Minister noted that on page 66 of the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics there is a reference to social questions? Has he noted the comment that the evaluation indicates that there is little difference, either in commercial or in social terms, between concrete sleepers and 10-inch by 5-inch jarrah sleepers? The reference concludes on the basis that the matter should be judged on technical reasons. In view of those matters will the Minster be good enough to request the Minister for Shipping and Transport to review his decision?
– No, I have not read the editorials in the ‘Advertiser’ or t!ie Australian’; they have not been directed to my attention. 1 have not read the report, as T think I indicated earlier, but I hope to do so when we reach the 9-day week lor which we are hoping. As to the course which the honourable senator has asked me to take, namely, to ask the Minister to review his decision, I will communicate his request to the Minister and leave it to him to decide.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister noted that the United States Government has ordered a full scale inquiry into the loss of 2 Fill aircraft shot down in Vietnam, thus destroying the myth that these aircraft are invulnerable? In view of the hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds at stake, has the recent failure of these 2 FI 1 1 aircraft over North Vietnam led the Government to reconsider its order for 24 of them? Does the Minister now concede that the purchase of the planes does not appear to be as wise as the Government originally thought?
I do not think anybody in the world, other than Senator Gietzelt, would suggest that an aircraft is invulnerable, particularly a military aircraft. The honourable senator is putting words into someone else’s mouth when he suggests that the Government believed the Fill to be invulnerable. With respect, ‘invulnerable’ is the wrong word. This aircraft is a strike weapon. It is the most magnificent military aircraft ever created. One cannot base a question on a hypothetical situation. No-one on this side of the House and no-one in any defence force or any air force in the world believes that an aircraft is invulnerable. We believe that the Fill is a magnificent aircraft which will play a tremendously important part in the defence of this nation. Of course, that does not ignore the fact that certain situations have arisen with regard to them. Whilst we all deplore the tragedy of the loss of an aircraft, that of course provides lessons for us which should lead to a further examination of any aircraft that we have in mind, whether it be an Fill or a jet aircraft in the civil aviation field. 1 will put the question on notice to the Minister for Defence if the honourable senator wants me to do so but I do not think the question is appropriate for that course.
– My question, addressed to the Minster representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is supplementary to several questions asked by honourable senators opposite. I think that it is appropriate in the current racing season. Did the Minister notice a cartoon in the Canberra Times’ last Friday depicting the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, flogging a dying horse named Jetair?
– I saw that cartoon and I thought it showed some insight. In view of the figures I cited this morning which showed that the cost of converting Royal Australian Air Force aircraft was greatly in excess of the price that had to be paid for already converted civilian aircraft to the bought from Jetair and having regard to the competent valuation of $343,000, by a most experienced firm with an intimate knowledge of the history of the aircraft compared to the purchase price of $275,000 that the Government paid, is it not assinine for the Opposition to be following its leader, astride the old grey mare, already dead?
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport which arises out of the letting of a contract for timber sleepers instead of concrete sleepers. In view of the fact that the Government is continually claiming that inflation is caused by the high cost of production and construction, why did it saddle the Commonwealth Railways with the added maintenance costs of between $230,000 and $2,800,000 by its decision to use timber sleepers instead of concrete sleepers in work on the Trans-Australian railway? Is not the Minister concerned that the loss of the concrete sleeper contract to South Australia has meant the loss of approximately $403,500 in wages alone to that State, with $118,000 of this amount being lost to the town of Mannum which is largely dependent upon employment in the local foundry for its economic survival?
– I think that we will have concrete sleepers with us for quite a large part of our lives from now on. What I thought I would do was to answer fairly questions from honourable senators on both sides of the chamber. I have done that. I am not the responsible Minister making these decisions. They are matters for another Minister. This is a long question. It could properly be put on notice. I will obtain the detailed information for the honourable senator.
– I also direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport relating to the supply of sleepers to the Commonwealth Railways. Has the Minister received urgent representation from the Labor Government of Western Australia in the interests of an existing industry that the Commonwealth give consideration to the continuation of the supply of sleepers for the Commonwealth Railways?
– Once again, I rise to speak about the sleeper industry. 1 cannot say specifically whether the Government of Western Australia has directed any particular query to the responsible Minister. What I do know is that, acting for him here, I have received a number of representations from Western Australia stating exactly what the honourable senator has said - that it is very important for that State to keep the business and that many people are employed in it. They sought that I should do what I could to help. I would think that the case from the Government of Western Australia would go to the responsible Minister.
– And the Government of South Australia.
– As Senator Davidson interjects, also the case from the Government of South Australia. It could well be that this matter will have to be resolved by a fight on the border. I shall certainly do all that I can to help.
– Order! Honourable senators do not appear to be responding to the pleas of the Leader of the Government in the Senate in regard to questions. Honourable senators are now asking questions for the second time round. I have mentioned the matter. I can do no more than that.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Was his Department asked to give an opinion on the legality of the purchase of DC3 aircraft from Jetair Australia Ltd? If the answer is in the affirmative, was the request made and the answer given in writing?
– In recent times officers of my Department, with officers of other departments, have conducted the most painstaking examination of all the papers that have been presented by the departments. The view which has been put by the Minister representing me in the House of Representatives, by the Prime Minister and by Senator Wright is backed to the hilt by everything which the officers of my Department have informed me is the result of their searches. Without reference to files which I have, I am unable to say whether the AttorneyGeneral’s Department was involved in the matter when this contract was being negotiated. I shall examine the question and see whether I can provide an answer to the honourable senator.
– I direct my question, which is about Jetair Australia Ltd, away from the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I direct it to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that the Department of Civil Aviation keeps records of the ownership of all aircraft in Australia? If that is so, is he prepared to give the details of the ownership of the DC3 aircraft which were purchased by the Department of Foreign Affairs from Jetair?
– If the honourable senator puts his question on notice I will look into the ramifications of it. I will check the register situation. Certain Royal Australian Air Force aircraft are not on the register. These things need to be established.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign affairs indicate whether further progress has been made in relation to appending Australia’s signature to the Refugee Seamen’s Convention?
– I am aware of the very great interest of the honourable senator in this subject. Since the question was raised last week I have been in touch with both departments involved. 1 am assured that I will be in a position to give a factual answer tomorrow or Thursday.
– My question is again directed to you, Mr President. Are you aware that each week Joint House attendants are required to work for 3i hours more than attendants in the Senate or House of Representatives? Can this anomaly be corrected immediately and can overtime be paid retrospectively for the statutory limit?
– I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice and I will obtain an answer for him. 1 am aware of his interest in these matters. Only this morning 1 signed an authorisation for a general increase in salary. The matters which he raised arc already being looked into. In the recess I hope to deal with those matters.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is consideration being given by the Department of Civil Aviation to moving its regional headquarters from its present site at Waverton to Plaza Court in Goulburn Street in the heart of Sydney? Is such a proposal in direct conflict with the Government’s recently announced policy on decentralisation, particularly in relation to urban development? Will the Minister give an undertaking that no such move will take place until the Government’s proposed National Urban and Regional Development Authority is established and is able to consider such a proposal?
– Because of limitations of space at Waverton the Department of Civil Aviation has been looking at alternative positions for the regional office for the New South Wales area. The balance of the question fascinated me. I thought decentalisation was moving people from the city to the country, not moving them around in the city.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Did the Department of Foreign Affairs consult with the Department of Civil Aviation on the purchase of the DC3 aircraft from Jetair Australia Ltd, and did the Department of Civil Aviation agree with the purchase? Were any of the consultations reduced to written documents? Was the agreement of the Department of Civil Aviation conveyed in writing to the Department of Foreign Affairs?
– I understand that in relation to the consultations there was nothing in writing. My information is that there was a telephone call in which the Department of Civil Aviation expressed its satisfaction. The price seemed to the Department to be OK.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. The Minister indicated earlier today that a considerable number of doctors were charging more than the most common fee but he did not indicate whether the Government proposed to take any action to oblige doctors to observe the common fee. How far must the level of observance of the common fee fall before the Government will take action to insist that doctors participating in the national health scheme observe the common fee?
– Senator Willesee has put an interpretation on Senator Murphy’s question and my answer, because the question was in categorical terms. There is no constitutional power, in any event, to make doctors charge the common fee. It is an arrangement, and if any doctor unilaterally does not want to observe the arrangement he need not do so. The fact of the matter is thai this is related to the medical profession. It is an arrangement entered into on a common fee basis with a 2 year cycle which ends on 30th June next year. It contained provisions which gave the medical profession the right to intercede and to make representations in areas where it considered there were significant variations in the indices and things of that nature. But let it be clearly understood that it is an arrangement. There is no constitutional power to make doctors charge the most common fee. Even if in the future some new arrangement was devised we still would not have that constitutional power. As in anything else, the Commonwealth would not have that constitutional power unless we had price fixing.
Other procedures can be adopted. As a result of the Mason inquiry, there was a significant 6 per cent increase as from 1st July right across the board, all over Australia, in relation to general practitioner surgery visits and home visits. When those figures are revealed - they will not be revealed, at the earliest, until the end of the year - the Government will have to make a judgment on whether it is prepared to carry on that existing arrangement and to look to the other alternatives open to it. We are not all simpletons. We all know that an election is to be held on 2nd December. The Government and, indeed, the Labor Party have expressed some views on that issue. I do not think that the question asked by Senator Willesee and the answer given by me will interfere with that issue. Clearly this is an arrangement. I think tomorrow I will be putting down the figures covering to 30th June, but they will not reveal the improvement that we hoped would result as a consequence of the Mason report which awarded an increase.
– Is it desired to post pone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
– I do not propose to rearrange the Government Business.
– Mr President, pursuant to a contingent notice of motion, I move:
(12.21) - I want to be clear on this. I understand that this is a procedural motion, which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) is entitled to move.
– It is on the notice paper.
– It is on the notice paper and I do not intend to challenge it, but I will certainly resist any subsequent proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, if carried, would mean that the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, which has been described as the votes for 18-year- olds Bill, would come on for debate at 8 o’clock tonight.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (12.23)- With the brevity that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has used, I wish to indicate that the Government will resist this proposal. I believe that I have an obligation, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to make certain that Government Business is disposed of. Therefore, I will resist this motion at this point of time.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus) Cormack)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for
Health) - Pursuant to section 134 of the Superannuation Act 1922-1971, I present the 49th annual report of the Superannuation Board for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– Pursuant to section 14 of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1971, I present the 24th annual report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with financial accounts.
– Pursuant to section 17 of the Meat Research Act 1960-1968. I present the 6th annual report of the Australian Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30th June 1972. An interim report of the Committee was presented to the House on 19th September 1972.
– Pursuant to section 82 of the Repatriation Act 1920-1972, I present the reports of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals Nos 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1972, I present the 18th annual statement concerning the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 40 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945-1970, I present the 27th annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with financial statements and the report of the AuditorGeneral on those statements.
– In pursuance of section 13 of the Law Reform Commission Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory I present 3 reports of the Law Reform Commission of the Territory, the first on imperial Acts in force in the Australian Capital Territory, the second on New South Wales Acts in force in the Territory and the third on the civil procedure in the Court of Petty Sessions of the Territory. I ask for leave to make a statement relating to these reports.
– Is leave granted?
– Yes, reluctantly.
– Leave is granted.
– The Law Reform Commission of the Australian Capital Territory was established by the Law Reform Commission Ordinance which came into force on 31st May 1971. The members of the Commission are Mr Justice Blackburn of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court as Chairman, Professor Atiyah of the Faculty of Law in the School of General Studies at the Australian National University and Mr N. M. Macphillamy, a Canberra solicitor. Section 12 of the Ordinance provides for the Commission to undertake and report on matters referred to it by the Attorney-General. On 17th September 1971, I referred a number of matters, 3 of which were:
A review of the Imperial Acts that still apply in the Australian Capital Territory with a view to recommending which of those Acts, in their application to the Australian Capital Territory, should be repealed; which should continue to apply in the Territory; and which should be replaced by legislation in more modern form.
The identification of all New South Wales Acts still in force in the Australian Capital Territory and a review of those Acts wilh a view 16 recommending the repeal, in relation to the Australian Capital Territory, of al) New South Wales Acts except Acts specified as being still needed in the Territory. A review of the civil procedure of the Court of Petty Sessions with a view lo recommending amendments that will be desirable if the present monetary limit of $1,000 in the Court’s civil jurisdiction is increased by several thousand dollars.
It is the Commission’s reports on these matters that I now present to the Senate. The Commission’s reports on the Imperial and New South Wales Acts in force in the Territory are long and detailed reports containing, in accordance with the references to the Commission, a survey of those Imperial and New South Wales Acts that are still in force in the Australian Capital Territory with comments and recommendations upon individual Acts where appropriate. It is clear that a great deal of work has gone into preparation of these reports and the Commission is to be congratulated for the speedy completion of the reports. The Commission’s report on the civil procedure of the Court of Petty Sessions contains a number of important recommendations about changes that would be needed in the procedure of the Court if there were to be a substantial increase in its jurisdiction. There are recommendations for the adoption of new rules of court and for the establishment of a small claims court in which, the Commission envisages, small claims could be made at a greatly reduced cost to litigants.
The matters dealt with by these reports are of considerable importance, and it would be inappropriate for the Government to make decisions upon them until there had been adequate opportunity for public comment. In the meantime, officers of my Department are examining the recommendations in the reports. As I have said, the reports on Imperial and New South Wales Acts are both very long documents for which printing represented the only practicable means of reproduction. However, it has proved impossible, in the time available, to have these reports printed for tabling, and I am therefore not in a position to provide copies for honourable senators. I will see that copies of both reports are circulated as soon as they become available but, in the meantime, I have arranged for a copy of each of the reports to be placed in the Parliamentary Library, I present 3 reports of the Law Reform Commission of the Australian Capital Territory.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I think that when Ministers seek leave to make a statement in the context of presenting reports the Leaders of the recognised Parties in the
Senate should be given a copy of the statement as a matter of courtesy. I say that because it requires only a single voice to prevent the statement being read.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - by leave - Some time ago - I think at least 12 months - an arrangement was made and dealt with in the Senate under which it was stipulated that the Leaders be given a copy of statements. Prior to the sitting of the Senate each day there was a period when the information was to be communicated at least to the Leaders of the Parties. It was suggested that copies of the proposed statements should be given to the Leaders so that they would be able to consider the statement and then and there be able to make a statement in reply. I hope that in the future this will be done.
– by leave - In fairness 1 feel bound by say that that is my understanding of the position. I would be the first to admit that sometimes I have honoured this arrangement in the breach because I have been under pressure. But what you, Mr President, and Senator Murphy have said is my understanding. We in the Ministry do not depart from that situation but sometimes it has happened because of the pressure under which we are working. We hope this will not happen in the future.
– I present the forty-second report of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances concerning the retrospectivity of regulations relating to the defence Services.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I bring up the report of Senate Estimates Committee A on the particulars of proposed expenditure for the year 1972-73 together with the minutes of proceedings. I also table the Hansard record of the evidence taken.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
– I bring up the report and minutes of proceedings of Estimates Committee C on proposed expenditure for the year 1972-73. For the information of honourable senators I also table the Hansard report of the evidence taken.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I bring up the report of Estimates Committee D on the particulars of proposed expenditure for the year 1972-73, together with minutes of those proceedings. I also table the Hansard report of the evidence taken.
Ordered that the report and minutes of proceedings be printed.
-I bring up the report of Estimates Committee E which is in similar terms to those presented by other honourable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave -I understand that on Thursday night, in my absence, copies of this statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) were sent to party leaders. I undertake to see that all honourable senators get a copy in their boxes this afternoon. Iask for leave to incorporate the statement in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
I wish to announce to the House the terms of reference for a committee of inquiry into the best way of abolishing the means test over the next 3 years and of responsibly financing this significant measure in association with the possible introduction of a national superannuation scheme. The Government’s decision to introduce means-test-free pensions for people aged 65 and over represents a major social advance with considerable financial, economic and social implications. We accordingly announced in the 1972-73 Budget Speech our decision to appoint a committee of inquiry to examine and report on these matters, including the question of how the proposal for meanstestfree pensions could be responsibly financed with particular reference to national superannuation. As announced in the 1972-73 Budget Speech, the Government is committed to abolition, within the next 3 years, of the means test on age pension eligibility for residentially qualified men and women aged 65 years and over. The Government has also decided that the free-of-means test pension will be subject to tax but, following past practice, provision will be made to exempt or partially relieve from taxation persons in the lower income groups receiving free-of-means test pension. In addition, the Government has determined that eligibility for supplementary assistance and for Commonwealth ancillary pension benefits will be conditional, as now, on satisfaction of the relevant special means test. The terms of reference of the committee will be:
Having in mind the policy of the Government to abolish the means test within the next 3 years on age pension eligibility for residentially qualified men and women aged 65 years and over, as announced in the 1972 Budget Speech, to report on -
Appropriate ways and means of financing the free-of-means test retirement benefits associated with a possible national superannuation scheme, including -
I am glad to be able to announce that the committee of 3 to inquire into these matters will be under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Melville, K.B.E., C.B.E. With him as members of the committee will be Mr T. P. Scott and Mr J. E. M. Dixon. On behalf of the Government, 1 express our thanks to these gentlemen for agreeing to undertake this important and substantial task.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill 1972.
States Grants Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1972.
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Sales of Marketable Securities) Bill 1972.
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Purchases of Marketable Securities) Bill 1972.
Australian Capital Territory Stamp Duty Bill (No. 2) 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a summary report of proceedings of the First Australian Parliamentary Seminar organised by the Commonwealth of Australia and State branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and held at Parliament House, Canberra, from 11th to 16th September last.
The seminar was attended by delegates from branches of the Association in the South East Asian and Pacific region. From the comments of delegates it would appear that this inaugural seminar was very successful, not only as a seminar but also as an opportunity to further the objects of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association by establishing friendly contacts between members of our neighbouring parliaments. On behalf of the joint presidents and the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Branch I should like to express appreciation to those honourable senators and members and other persons who participated in and contributed so ably to the success of the seminar. In particular, I desire to thank Senator G. S. Davidson and Mr E. N. Drury and Mr G. G. D. Scholes, members of the House of Representatives, who so competently functioned as a sub-committee to plan the arrangements for the seminar.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 1754), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a third lime.
– I wish to raise a matter related to the second reading debate on this Bill, concerning what Senator Jessop said about the Minister of Education in South Australia. This is probably the only opportunity that I shall have to refer to it. I intend to quote from some letters which have been written by the Minister in South Australia to a person who apparently gave some secondhand information to Senator Jessop. I refer to the debate on this Bill which occurred on Thursday 19th October 1972 which appears at page 1745 of Hansard. Senator Jessop said:
A friend of mine told me that as a member of a deputation he approached the Minister for Education in South Australia with regard to this critical problem.
Senator Cavanagh interjected:
Who was the friend? Who told you?
Senator Jessop continued:
My friend happened to be a member of the Port Augusta Outback Parents Committee. He went along to the Minister in a very sincere and, I may say, humble way to request the South Australian Government to devote more money to the education of outback children in South Australia. Are honourable senators aware of what the Mnister said to these people? I have only my friend’s statement to support this, but according to him the Minister said: ‘If we gave you extra money for the education of outback children you would probably spend it on booze’. What an attitude for a Minister of a State Government to adopt with a deputation. I remind honourable senators that these people -
At that point a number of honourable senators - Senator McLaren, Senator Poyser, Senator Cavanagh, myself and others - raised objection to the comments and referred -
– Does the honourable senator not believe it?
– Would the honourable senator allow me to proceed? Why does not he listen for a while and see whether he agrees with the comments that have been made about people who are unable to defend themselves in this chamber and with the waste of time in such a debate to make an allegation concerning a deputation in a State which cannot be verified except with much trouble? I am trying to put the record straight. I told Senator Jessop that I would be quoting some letters which have been sent to these people by the Minister for Education.
– Did the Minister deny that he said it?
-I ask Senator Webster to listen to me and give me a chance to say what the Minister for Education has said. I am trying to put the matter in some logical order so that honourable senators can understand the position. In the debate last Thursday evening Senator Cavanagh, and I, referred to standing order 418 and the Acting Deputy President, Senator Wilkinson, ruled:
I do not consider that any of the argument put by Senator Bishop about his personal relationship with the person mentioned by Senator Jessop comes into consideration in this matter. Standing order 418 specifically states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or any House of a State Parliament. I do not think I need go any further than that.
The standing order also states: all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered disorderly.
I uphold the point of order. I ask Senator Jessop to withdraw his remarks in relation to the South Australian Minister of Education.
Senator Jessop said:
Mr Acting President, I respect your point of view.
Finally he said:
Very well, I withdraw and defer to your ruling.
There are needless communications that have to be commenced in relation to these matters when you think that a person has been unjustly treated. It was necessary for us to tell Mr Hudson what had been said about him. Also it was necessary to tell Senator Jessop that we intended to take up the matter. As a result of the copy of Senator Jessop’s remarks that was sent to Mr Hudson, he has sent to us - he hopes that they will be accepted by the Senate - these 2 letters which were sent to 2 people in July, one of whom Senator Jessop apparently accepts as the informant upon whose information he made his statements.
– He did not name the person.
– He did not indicate at the time who had told him or how it was told. It was told out of context. I think that it is reasonable that I should read what was stated by the Minister. For my part, that is as far as I want to go. I shall read from a letter dated 16th July 1971. It has a reference E.D. 6.1.10. It is signed by Mr Hugh Hudson, Minister of Education. It is addressed to Mr M. I. McTaggart, Oakden Hill Station, via Port Augusta, South Australia, 7500. It reads:
Dear Mr McTaggart,
I refer to the deputation to me on Wednesday, 23rd June, 1971, of which you were a member. Subsequently, as a result of your statement made to parents over the School of the Air, I have received several letters expressing concern over the Government’s attitude to the matter as reported to the parents by you.
The following are extracts from the letters - We were made aware of your complete lack of interest in the educational welfare of the children of the outback.’
I think your attitude is singular and unfair.’
This statement (that there would be no assurance that the money would be spent on education, it would probably go in “booze”) I feel is a personal insult to each family living in the outback.’
One reason given for the apparent lack of interest in our request was that the allowance would probably be spent on “booze”. The members of our club felt very insulted to think that the Minister for Education could make such an unfair remark.
– When were these allegations made? I would like to have a copy of the letter from which the honourable senator is reading to enable me to understand it as he is reading.
– Perhaps Senator McLaren will give the honourable senator a copy to read. A copy could have been made available to Senator Wright. 1 simply told Senator Jessop earlier that we would be referring to the matter. We did not think it was necessary to supply copies and Senator Jessop did not ask for them. The letter continues:
I must say that I was alarmed to receive this unnecessary critism in view of the discussion which I had with you. As I recall the matter, I explained to you that we would not be paying a governess’s allowance for the following reasons -
If it were confined only to those parents who actually employed a governess the allowance would assist only those who were best off among the outback parents.
If the allowance were paid to all parents whether or not a governess was employed, some of the money could be used for other than educational purposes. As Minister of Education it is not possible for me to make money available in circumstances where some portion of it would not be used for for educational purposes. Indeed, if I went ahead anyway, the Auditor-General would certainly criticise the whole procedure publicly.
In the course of our meeting, I informed you confidentially of a new scholarship scheme that was under consideration. This scheme involves the payment of a sum up to $370 over and above the existing boarding allowance to help parents meet the costs of secondary education where no facilities are provided by the Education Department. The scholarships which will be tenable at any secondary school, will be paid by the application of a graduated means test so that for students in first, second, third or fourth year, of secondary schooling, the sum available would vary between $180 which is the existing boarding allowance, and $550, while for fifth year students the sum available would vary between $230 and $600. I pointed out that the money the Government would be spending on this scheme would be considerably greater than any expenditure that might have been involved in a governess allowance. I might add thatin awarding scholarships special account will be taken of the problems of applicants who have spent all, or a significant proportion, of their primary school years on correspondence lessons.
Since you had access to this information, you ing scholarships special account will be the problems of outback parents, and I can conclude only that your report of the meeting was motivated either by a complete lack of understanding or by sheer malice.
On Monday last State Cabinet approved the introduction of this scholarship scheme. A public announcement has already been made on the matter. I attach a copy of my Press statement. When the form of application has been prepared, I will be issuing instructions to my officers to send the forms to all outback parents.
In view of the situation which has arisen, I would appreciate a written apology because the statements which you have made have had the effect of misrepresenting completely and unjustly the terms of our interview.
On 14th July Mr Hudson wrote a letter to Mrs P. M. Nicolson, President, Outback Parents Club, Roopena Station, Box 330, P.O., Whyalla, South Australia 5600. The letter reads:
Dear Mrs Nicolson,
Thank you for your letter of 8th July. I am afraid that Mr McTaggart has been less than just in relation to the interview that he had with me. In the course of the interview I explained to Mr McTaggart that we would not be paying a governess’s allowance for the following reasons -
If it were confined only to those parents who actually employed a governess the allowance would assist only those who were best off among the outback parents.
If the allowance were paid to all parents whether or not a governess was employed, some of the money could be used for other than educational purposes. (I presume this is where Mr McTaggart gets his statement about ‘booze’). As Minister of Education it is not possible for me to make money available in circumstances where some portion of it would not be used for educational purposes. Indeed, if I went ahead anyway, the Auditor-General would certainly criticise the whole procedude publicly.
In the course of our meeting, I informed Mr McTaggart confidentially of a new scholarship scheme that was under consideration. This scheme involves the payment of a sum up to $370 over and above the existing boarding allowance to help parents meet the costs of secondary education where no facilities are provided by the Education Department. The scholarships which will be tenable at any secondary school, will be paid by the application of a graduated means test so that for students in first, second, third or fourth year of secondary schooling, the sum available would vary between $180 which is the existing boarding allowance, and $550, while for fifth year students the sum available would vary between $230 and $600. I pointed out to Mr McTaggart that the money the Government would be spending on this scheme would be considerably greater than any expenditure that might have been involved in a governess allowance. I might add that in award ing scholarships special account will be taken of the problems of applicants who have spent all, or a significant proportion, of (heir primary school years, on correspondence lessons.
As Mr McTaggart had access to this information, he must have known that I was very sympathetic to the problems of outback parents, and L can conclude that his report of the meeting was motivated either by a complete lack of understanding or by sheer malice.
I am pleased to be able to inform you that on Monday last State Cabinet approved the introduction of this scholarship scheme. A public announcement has already been made on the matter. 1 attached a copy of my press statement. When the form of application has been prepared, i will be issuing instructions to my officers to send the forms to all outback parents. 1 am writing separately to Mr McTaggart demanding a written apology for the statements he has made misrepresenting completely and unjustly the terms of our interview.
I wish to thank you for your kind invitation to attend the annual meeting of the Outback Parents Club to be held in Port Augusta on 4th and Sth December. 1 am not sure of my movements in December at this stage, and I shall write to you again later regarding this.
That is all I want to say at this stage. I let the documents speak for themselves. The only point that I make now is the one that I made to Senator Webster. I cannot see why the business of the Senate should be reduced in quality because of some snide comments which people make because they think it is a political issue. As 1 said in reply to the interjection of the Minister for Works, I mentioned to Senator Jessop that I would be explaining Mr Hudson’s statements in the correspondence. I do so to put the record straight.
– I refer to the matter about which Senator Bishop spoke. I recall that on Thursday, as he said and as he real accurately from Hansard, 1 used a phrase describing the attitude of the South Australian Minister of Education on the occasion of a deputation of people from the Stockowners Association of South Australia and the Outback Parents Club. Last Thursday 1 felt that the comments made by honourable senators opposite cast doubts upon my integrity. I believe that now I should give the Senate the basis ot the statement that I made. 1 did recall that a friend of mine mentioned this incident. Subsequently he made a report to the Stockowners Association of South Australia. That followed the deputation to the State Minister on 23rd June. Perhaps I might read the pertinent parts ot the report. I understand that the report was made in the presence of members of the Press.
– Would you name the person who made the report?
– Yes, I will do that. Senator Bishop has already given the gentleman some publicity by mentioning his name. Mr M. I. McTaggart presented a report on the deputation to the Minister of Education on 23rd June 1971 seeking financial assistance for outback children doing correspondence lessons. The report states the names of the other members of the delegation. They were Mr Geddes and Mr Dean Kelly. Mr Grant Heaslip apologised because he was delayed by bad weather and was unable to attend. The report states:
Although we stayed about H hours and the problem was discussed throroughly we did not receive much sympathy.
Very early in the interview the Minister stated that he had no sympathy al all for assistance foi governesses, mainly because those who could afford governesses were nol the ones who most required help.
We accepted this point and then requested an allowance to families of non-attendance school children similar to the allowance of $200 per year in Western Australia.
I understand that at that point the delegation referred to the fact that not only children of station owners but many children of station hands and Commonwealth Railways fettlers were encountering the same problem. The report continues:
The Minister replied that he could not be sure that such an allowance would go towards education, and thought that in some cases it more likely that it would be spent on ‘booze’.
That was the reference that I had in mind when 1 made my statement. I thought it was an incredible statement for any member of Parliament, particularly a Minister, to make in the presence of such a deputation. That is why I drew attention to it at that time. The report coninues
In reply to this we suggested that it could be paid only to those who passed their exams, and so afford an encouragement to help education. The answer was that this would be too difficult to implement.
The next request was an increase in living away from home allowance, particularly for primary students who receive very little at the moment. The Minister replied that where parents were conscientious they would complete primary education and then possibly living away help was required to help brighter children, but that there is now a reasonable allowance for secondary students.
The Minister said that they would not start hostels similar to those in other States, and so we asked if he could give any assistance at all to outback children and received no sympathy. The question of the new side band radios, which will shortly be compulsory, was raised and the Minister said that he had not investigated that, and it may be a possibility for assistance.
Since the meeting I made a similar report to the mothers on The School of the Air, who were incensed by the Minister’s lack of consideration.
That report was presented at the stockowners meeting. I have since spoken with another member of the deputation who remembers the statement being made. It was on that basis that I used that particular phrase. I do not think the word ‘booze’ is offensive. I used it merely to express my view that members of Parliament or Ministers should not use that kind of term when dealing with a deputation of this type.
– I think we must take cognisance of the fact that a derogatory statement was made about a Minister of the Crown in one of the State parliaments. While we appreciate Senator Jessop’s apologies today, nevertheless the damage has been done. While today the use of the word booze’ in the Senate is not out of place and Senator Jessop cannot see any harm in it, it is incredible that a State Minister would suggest - this is the way it was put last week - that parents would spend the child’s allowance on booze, or words to the effect as read by Senator Bishop. They were used last week for the purpose of denigrating a Labor Minister in South Australia. Although Senator Jessop stuttered and spluttered some sort of apology today, it was a shocking accusation to make for political purposes during the course of that debate. Included in the delegation which attended the Minister was the honourable member for Grey in the other place, Mr Wallis, and the member for Stuart in the State House, Mr Keneally. They agree that during the dicussion Mr Hudson stated that he would not support the Government for the reason that was read by Senator Bishop from the correspondence. The suggestion was made that a grant should be made to the parents of each child, but the Minister of Education could not agree with this because he thought it might not be utilised for the purpose for which it was granted. Mr Wallis informs me that someone then said that they may booze it up, and the Minister said that it could be used for any purpose but he was not prepared to accept that it would be used for the purpose suggested.
This matter was next brought up by a Mrs Nicolson. A very nice, appropriate letter was sent by Mr Hudson to Mrs Nicolson who was on the deputation. This letter was used by Mrs Nicolson when she was the Liberal Party candidate for the State seat of Whyalla.
– She was a good candidate. She has a good political brain.
– I appreciate the interjection of Senator Davidson. She was defeated. Even if she had been running for a safe Liberal seat she would have been defeated because of the false accusations upon which she relied on that occasion. When she was challenged she claimed that one of the members of the deputation had had a tape recorder in his pocket and that the tape could be produced. The tape has never been produced. Only someone who was so low and lacking in cogent arguments when seeking political office would ever refer to the statement made on that occasion as anything other than a statement made by some unreliable person.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I do not know (o whom Senator Cavanagh is referring when he uses the term ‘so low’, but I think such an expression is strange coming from Senator Cavanagh. If he was referring to me I would like him to withdraw that remark.
– I said that only someone so low would use that term. If that is unparliamentary and objection is taken, I point out that other honourable senators use it as well. We must accept now that not only someone outside was so low as to use the term; it has been brought also into a debate in this House purely for the purpose of discrediting the Minister. The Minister pointed out that the scheme of the South Australian Government for the outback children is possibly one of the most generous schemes in Australia. It gives more to the parents of the outback children than does any other scheme in operation in any State of Australia under a Liberal dominated government. The South Australian Government has been condemned by irresponsible people for putting up an alternative scheme which would be more beneficial to the people. All the correspondence I have received from the parents of outback children has requested some concessions in the form of taxation deductions. Those who send their children to school receive an allowance for school fees, but a person who cannot send his children to school cannot receive the allowance. The South Australian Government has gone beyond that. It provides an allowance for the children who attend school. It permits a child to attend school, and gives them a better opportunity than have outback children in the other States of the Commonwealth. This is the record of the South Australian Government. Because some irresponsible conservative in Whyalla reports to his friends a falsehood in relation to a stockowners association meeting, this is used for political purposes in this Senate. I think an apology is owing to the Minister of Education in South Australia.
– I would like to comment on the accusations made by Senator Jessop and also on what has been said by my colleagues from South Australia. Let me read from a letter I received from the Hon. Hugh Hudson, Minister of Education, who wrote:
It is worth adding that Mr Geddes, M.L.C., was a member of the deputation and a party of the confidential information that I gave that deputation on the Rural Scholarships Scheme. Mr Geddes refused to take up in the House Mr McTaggart’s accusations, and while he is a member of the same Party as Senator Jessop, has refused to act in the irresponsible manner that the latter gentleman has acted.
So it is obvious that Mr McTaggart has endeavoured to bring pressure to bear on members of the Liberal Party or the Liberal-Country League, or whatever one might call them in South Australia, to bring discredit on the Minister of Education in South Australia. It is apparent from Mr Hudson’s letter that approaches were made to Mr Geddes, M.L.C. for Northern. He in his wisdom would have nothing to do with them. But not Senator Jessop. He saw that there was some political mileage in raising this matter in this Parliament to try to denigrate the South Australian Minister of Education. If course, this is nothing new to the people in South Australia who have been in the Labor Party for many years. We are used to this type of scurrilous attack on members of the Labor Party in high places. We know what is said about our Premier, but the less said about that the better. Senator Jessop is stooping to very low tactics when he adopts that attitude in an effort to cover the sorry mess which exists in his own Party in South Australia today.
Senator JESSOP (South Australia) - Mr Deputy President-
– 1 rise to a point of order. This is the third reading debate on the States Grants (Schools) Bill. Senator Jessop has already spoken during this debate. If he claims to have been misrepresented
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! If Senator Cavanagh will resume his seat, I will hear Senator Jessop.
– I felt I should correct one or two irregularities-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the course of his speech Senator Cavanagh made certain references that were inaccurate. One was his reference to a Mrs Nicolson as having been an LCL candidate in a State election 2 or 3 years ago. That is not correct. The Mrs Nicolson to whom he referred is a member of a different family.
– I rise on a point of order. 1 understand that Senator Jessop is claiming that he has been misrepresented. If Senator Cavanagh or any other senator who has spoken in this debate said something about what Senator Jessop said, then Senator Jessop has a perfect right to put the record straight. We all want that. But if he is going to indulge in debate, which I think he is, by talking about a Mrs Nicolson, then that has nothing to do with his claim to have been misrepresented. If Senator Jessop says that Senator Cavanagh said that he, Senator Jessop, had said so and so, and that that is misrepresentation, he should correct it. But to go into debate is completely wrong.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I think you must allow me to judge whether he is engaging in debate. I call Senator Jessop.
– -I rise on a point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is it the same point of order?
– It is the same point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have already ruled on that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have received a motion of dissent from my ruling signed by Senator Poyser. Senator Cavanagh, you have risen in your place. Do you second the motion?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question is that the motion be agreed to. Senator Cavanagh, I understood that you moved for the motion to be put?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I put the motion that the ruling be dissented from.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There is no debate and I put the motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- -The motion is that my ruling be desented from.
Opposition Senators - No, no!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question is tthat the motion of dissent be determined immediately and therefore I am advised that argument on the motion is allowed. I call Senator Poyser.
Opposition Senators - No, no.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I put the question that the motion be decided immediately. That is the subject of the motion and I put it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Deputy President, I disagree with your ruling because it is obvious that if that ruling is sustained we on this side of the House and members occupying the Government benches can argue all day on anything they desire to raise in relation to matters that have been brought up in debate. It is true that Senator Jessop earlier in the day had an opportunity to claim that he had been misrepresented and indeed was given an opportunity to clear up this misrepresentation which he believed had occurred. But then we had a further situation in which speakers on this side of the House submitted argument in the debate and Senator Jessop claimed further misrepresentation, not of himself but of a person who is entirely outside this House. If this is to be a ruling of this Senate we can go on forever debating nothing but misrepresentation. I assure you, Sir, that if this ruling is agreed to I will exercise this right at any time when any person I know is misrepresented or allegedly misrepresented in this House, I will exercise that right to the extent that this House will not be able to carry on normal debate. I ask the Senate to disagree with your ruling in this regard because full and sensible debate in this House will have finished if any honourable senator can have the attention of the Chair for these purposes.
– I suggest with all respect that Senator Poyser has allowed his emotions to carry him away and to drift into matters which really have not come into contest. The ruling of the Chair was that Senator Jessop was restricted to matters of personal explanation, and that the judgment of what is the dividing line between personal explanation and debate was a matter for the Chair. How can any sensible senator contest that rule? I understand quite positively that Senator Jessop intends to restrict himself to matters of personal explanation. Therefore I suggest in all quietness, having regard to the serious business that the Senate has to dispose of, that the motion be withdrawn and that Senate business proceed in an orderly manner. I ask that the Senate consider the matter quietly. I hope that we do not have to engage in a contest on the matter. Since Senator Jessop’s statement of personal explanation is to be quite brief, and assuredly a matter of personal explanation, I would suggest that none of us has anything to gain by pursuing a contention of this nature, and no dignity to lose - in fact dignity to enhance if by withdrawal of an unnecessary motion the Senate’s business can proceed in an orderly manner. I know that Senator Poyser will not regard me as exhibiting any impertinence on a matter of this nature in offering a suggestion of that sort. I do so with the greatest of goodwill, in the spirit of the Senate, to try and enable us to proceed with the business of the Senate.
– As the seconder of the motion of disagreement from your ruling, Mr Deputy President, 1 want to say a few words. It is with some reluctance that one moves at any time a motion of disagreement with the Chair’s ruling. One accepts that the occupant of the Chair is trying to do his best - one hopes impartially - to ensure that the Standing Orders of the Senate are complied with. I agree with Senator Wright’s statement that a farcical position should not be permitted to arise and that if nothing is to be gained by proceeding with a motion it should be withdrawn. But there could be a great deal to be gained on this occasion. An honourable senator who claims to have been misrepresented and who seeks to make a personal explanation about the misrepresentation takes prece dence in a debate over any other honourable senator and so has a privilege afforded. He cannot be denied the call from the Chair to correct the misrepresentation that has been made. Perhaps I said some harsh things about Senator Jessop which may have required some correction. Senator Jessop rose in his place and was afforded the privilege of speaking by claiming to have been misrepresented. He commenced his speech by saying that he wanted to have a few words to say on what had been said. He has no right to have a few words to say on what has been said; he has the right only to reply to any misrepresentation.
– Oh, Senator Cavanagh!
- Senator Wright will not shut me up by carrying on like a frilled necked lizard and trying to bluff everyone into thinking that he is the only source of knowledge in the chamber. The fact is that Senator Jessop had no right to say the few words that he had to .;ay. When I questioned whether he had this right, you said that he had the right to speak, Mr Deputy President. I took it that he would be speaking about his claim to have been misrepresented, but he started off by informing the Senate that the Mrs Nicholson who I had claimed had run for the seat of Whyalla as a Liberal candida’.e was another person. He never claimed that Mrs Nicholson ran for the seat of Whyalla as a Liberal candidate. Whether the Mrs Nicholson who ran for the seat of Whyalla as a Liberal candidate was another person or not was no misrepresentation of anything that Senator Jessop said. Irrespective of whether it was the Mrs Nicholson to whom Senator Jessop had referred as having stood for the seat of Whyalla or not, Senator Jessop never claimed she had stood for it. He rose for the purpose of saying that what I had said in the debate was incorrect. I claim to have been misrepresented insofar as Senator Jessop said that I told an untruth when I said that a Mrs Nicholson had run for the seat of Whyalla. At the appropriate stage I propose to seek to correct that misrepresentation.
Are we going to permit extraneous matter to be brought into a claim that there has been a misrepresentation? If Senator Jessop were to claim that what someone has said misrepresented what he had said he would have the right to explain himself and exonerate himself; but he cannot claim to have been misrepresented by something 1 said that did not refer to anything he had said at any time. So the whole position is a farcical one. For the benefit of Senator Wright I would point out that if we continue to let the Chair rule in this way in this chamber, Lord knows where it is going to end and on what the debating time of the Senate is going to be spent.
– I rise merely to say that I support your ruling, Mr Deputy President. I would point Out that a clear statement was made by Senator Cavanagh that Senator Jessop was supported by a Mrs Nicholson who, Senator Cavanagh said, had been a Liberal Candidate. The. implication was that, as she was a Liberal candidate, he was using politically inspired information. Senator Jessop said: ‘I want to correct the situation and point out that she is not the Mrs Nicholson concerned’. I think he has a perfect right to seek an opportunity to rectify the situation and the Chair, as has been done a thousand times in the Senate, gave him the opportunity of doing so. I regret that it should have been found necessary to move such a motion, which seems to be designed to attempt to throw a smokescreen over the fact that Senator Cavanagh named Mrs Nicholson.
– Mr Deputy President-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wishing to speak to the motion? I would point out that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised the original point of order to which objection has been taken to the ruling.
– I raised the original point of order, Mr Deputy President, but subsequent to that a motion of disagreement with your ruling has been moved, to which I suggest I have the right to speak, lt is true to say that I did raise the original point of order. I believe, with great respect, that it was your handling of that point of order, which incited Senator Poyser to move his motion of dissent. I drew your attention to, although I did not quote it, the wording of standing order 408, which states:
By the indulgence of the Senate, a Senator may explain matters of a personal nature . . . 1 pointed out to you at the time, Mr Deputy President, that Senator Jessop had not claimed to have been misrepresented in regard to anything that he had said of a personal nature but that he was entering into a debate on something which Senator Cavanagh had said. I am not in a position to judge who is in the right, but that is not material to the argument before us. You said - very peremptorily, if I may say so - that you would be the judge. It is not much good any of us underlining the substances of our points of order in an effort to assist the occupant of the Chair if he is going to say, in a God-like manner, that he is going to be the judge.
There are only 2 standing orders under which Senator Jessop, who has already spoken several times on this matter, can raise something of a personal nature. One is the standing order that deals with the making of a personal explanation, which I have already mentioned. The other is the one that provides for the explaining of words which a senator has already spoken. They are very valuable standing orders and no-one would want to see them eliminated. But I point out that Senator Jessop was not explaining something of a personal nature and he was not explaining words which he had used. The fact is that - I do not see how you can get around this, with great respect, Mr Deputy President - Senator Jessop was trying to enter into a debate with Senator Cavanagh. Senator Poyser has pointed out that a continuation of the practice of allowing such a procedure to be followed could mean that debates would be interminable and could go on to the nth degree with an ‘I am right and you are wrong’ and ‘you did - I did not’ sort of argument. I suggest to you, Sir, that Senator Jessop was quite out of order. I am sure that there will be other occasions and times when he will have the opportunity to disagree with Senator Cavanagh on this point. A disagreement between 2 honourable senators is a matter for debate and not for personal explanation. I suggest with great respect, Mr Deputy President, that if you were to alter your ruling at this stage it might not be necessary for the motion to be put to a vote.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Dissent has been moved from a ruling I have given. The facts of the matter are: A statement made by Senator Jessop last week was referred to by Senator Bishop. Today Senator Jessop replied to that statement as he was entitled to do in a debate on the motion for the third reading of a Bill. Two members of the Opposition then contributed to the debate in varying degrees in condemnation of the statement made by Senator Jessop. Senator Jessop then rose and claimed to have been misrepresented. I had not heard sufficient of what Senator Jessop intended to say br.fore a point of order was taken. The Chair must be given an opportunity to make a judgment as to whether a senator who is claiming to have been misrepresented is in fact speaking to a matter of misrepresentation. I ruled against the point of order on the ground that 1 had not heard sufficient of the case being put by Senator Jessop in the matter of the misrepresenation to be able to make a judgment. I would like the motion of dissent to be withdrawn, and then the Chair could hear Senator Jessop as he is entitled to be heard on the ground of misrepresentation.
That the motion (Senator Poyser’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator Prowse)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Senator Jessop, I call you to enable you to continue your personal explanation, but you must not debate the issue.
– I believe that Senator Cavanagh, during the course of his remarks, cast doubts again upon my integrity. In fact, subsequently he admitted that he had said certain things with reference to me that might have to be corrected. I would not have pursued this matter at all had it not been for the fact that doubts had been cast on my credibility in the first place. I was quite prepared to let the matter go as it was on Thursday, when I had withdrawn my remarks. Unfortunately, Senator Bishop chose to reintroduce the matter and for that reason I had to produce the document on which I based my statement.
– Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented. Senator Jessop, in his speech, said that I had claimed that a Mrs Nicolson stood for the seat of Whyalla as a Liberal Party candidate.
– Mr President, on a point of order, I just rise to say that the reference in this respect was the subject of Senator Cavanagh’s colleague’s point of order that already we have taken 20 minutes to dispose of. This tendentious intervention
– Order! Senator Cavanagh is entitled to make a personal explanation.
– My integrity has been put in doubt.
– I do not uphold the point of order. Senator Cavanagh, you will state your case.
– Senator Jessop said that I was incorrect in my statement that a Mrs Nicolson stood for the seat of Whyalla. I take it that it was not the Mrs Nicolson who was at the deputation. I am reliably informed that a Mrs Nicolson stood as a Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Whyalla.
– Order! This is not a personal explanation, Senator. You merely state whether you have been misrepresented.
– I state that I was misrepresented.
– All right. That is the end of the matter.
– But 1 thought that I had a greater licence in view of the remarks of Senator Jessop.
– No. You claimed to have been misrepresented. That is sufficient for the Senate.
– All right. I seek permission to make a personal explanation.
– Well, keep it persona).
– My claim is that in effect it was indicated that I was lying in saying that a certain Mrs Nicolson stood for the seat of Whyalla as a Liberal Party candidate.
– Did you or did you not?
– If I was incorrect in that, my statement was not correct. To prove my credibility I state that 1 am reliably informed that at the last State elections Mrs Nicolson stood as a Liberal candidate for the seat of Whyalla against a Max Brown, the Labor candidate. In order to identify the relationship to the Mrs Nicolson who was mentioned in the earlier discussion, it was Mrs Nicolson, the Liberal candidate for Whyalla, who claimed that she had at the deputation a tape recording of a conversation with Mr Hudson.
– Order! All that is required is that the honourable senator make a personal explanation, stating whether he honestly and truthfully believes this to be the case. I do not want the issue debated.
– I honestly believe it to be the case. 1 shall conclude on that point, but I ask you, Mr President, to look at the matter on which the Senate has just voted.
– I give that undertaking.
– If we were consistent and your ruling were challenged now the vote would go the other way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 28 September (vide page 1324), on motion by Senator Wright:
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 28 September (vide page 1325), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks the approval of the Senate to borrowings by the Commonwealth for Qantas of up to $US25m ($A21m) to finance the purchase of a sixth Boeing 747 aircraft, spare parts and equipment at an estimated cost of $US29m ($A24m). The aircraft is due for delivery in March 1974. The Opposition believes that in this proposed arrangement the Government is committing the people of Australia before it is necessary to do so. We feel that further time should be taken to examine this proposition. At a time like this when we are approaching the last round-up on 2nd December we feel that legislation of this nature has a certain political content. For this reason I move:
At end of the motion add: ‘but the Senate is of the opinion that the passage of this Bill should be delayed until (1) firm arrangements are made for substantial co-production procedures for imported aircraft, (2) a select committee is appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management and (3) the terms of the loan agreement are set forth in a schedule to the Bill’.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– We of the Opposi sition feel that the proposed delivery date for the aircraft in March 1974 is so far into the future that there is no need for this legislation to be hurried through the Senate. If a new type of aircraft were involved or the aircraft required were not part of a regular production line of the Boeing Co. there might be some reason to make a long term advance booking, but at a time when the aircraft industry and the air transport industry are experiencing very fierce competition, falling incomes and increasing costs, it would appear that this commitment by the Commonwealth through Qantas Airways Ltd is not desirable.
In the annual report for Qantas we find that the operations of the company for 1971-72 resulted in a net loss of 35,992.000, compared with a net profit in 1970-71 of $5,343,000. That means that over that year Qantas suffered a decline in profitability of nearly SI 1.5m. This calls for a serious examination of what is happening. The report says that a significant downturn in revenue and increased cost levels were the principal cases for the disappointing financial results. The downturn in revenue resulted from an arrangement that was made through other action by the Parliament and from the Government’s allowing to Qantas’s detriment competition which easily could have been avoided. Other countries have been very careful to protect their national airlines, but it appears that the Australian Government has allowed Qantas to be involved in the rat-race of competition which exists at present. The Government was very tardy in giving authority to Qantas to enter the charter business. It gave concessions to the United States Government to bring extra aircraft on to one of the previously profitable routes and, generally speaking, Qantas now has been placed in this very serious financial position. The Qantas report states that the whole of the international airline industry in general is in a serious financial state. The reasons given in the report are:
The most important single trend was a general slowdown in demand for air travel which, by the fourth quarter of the year, was felt particularly severely on our main routes. Total revenue declined by 3.6 per cent to S2 17,239,000 in 1971- 72, in contrast with an increase of 13.3 per cent in the previous year.
The point I wish to make at this juncture is that we are placing an order for the delivery of an aircraft in 1974. This will involve us in an expenditure of $29m, yet these figures of the down-turn are so alarming that this extra aircraft may not be warranted. In my view a much better business proposition would be a shorter time between the granting of this loan and delivery. The report continues:
In addition to the general softness in the air travel market, other principal reasons for the drop in revenue were:
New and increased competition from both scheduled and other classes of carriers on our main routes, including a high level of charter activity, out of South East Asia, which in 1971- 72 diverted substantial Australian traffic from the scheduled airlines.
But in other sections of this report we find that Qantas had to form another subsidiary company to allow it to operate in this area. The report at page 16 states:
INVESTMENTS IN OTHER COMPANIES
During the year the Company decided, with the approval of the Commonwealth Government, to form a subsidiary company which could engage in non-scheduled and charter-type activities.
I interpolate to state that during 1971-72 this approval was given by the Commonwealth Government but most of the competitors of Qantas had the prerogative of going into non-scheduled and charter activities. As a consequence Qantas was the last cab off the rank. I believe that the background of this matter is sufficient ground for an in depth investigation to be carried out into what has happened to see whether there has been laxity on the part of the administration or whether the terms and conditions which surround the operations of Qantas are such that it is not given sufficient elasticity in this fiercely competitive field in which it is operating. The report continues:
For this purpose Qantas decided in September 1971 to acquire from its wholly-owned subsidiary, Qantas Wentworth Holdings Ltd, the corporate structure of the letter’s wholly-owned but non-operating subsidiary, Lang Park Ltd.
This seems to be a round about way to enable an international airline to form a company so that it can operate nonscheduled and charter type activities. Not only is Qantas Airways Ltd our flag bearing airline but also it is dealing in vast sums of money. We see from the balance sheet as at 31st March 1972 that assets were valued at $324,275,951 which is no mean accumulation of assets. We also find that revenue amounted to $217,239,088. Expenditure totalled $223,074,363. I quote these figures to illustrate the size of this great company. But on the other hand we find that it has to resort to indirect subsidiary company activity to enable it to engage in charter type flights. The report states:
The nominal consideration was 51,940,753, being the cash value of all the assets of Lang Park Limited.
Why was it necessary to arrange for the expenditure of this money to take over Lang Park Ltd when the object of the exercise was to get into charter flights as quickly as possible? The report continues:
Shortly after Lang Park Limited was acquired by Qantas Airways Limited, its name was changed to Qantair Limited, and its objectives were formally broadened by amendments to its Memorandum of Association.
Qantair has yet to commence operations. However, it is available to perform any services that may be required, subject to the approval of foreign governments for traffic rights.
From what we can see it appears that Qantas, as an international airline, is the meat in the sandwich. I refer now to a speech made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) when he quoted a letter which was presented to the Parliament by the then Minister representing the Treasurer, which letter was to be forwarded to the United States. It was a letter of intent by Qantas. It indicates further the strictures that are imposed upon Qantas Airways Ltd. The Hansard report states:
Text of letter to be given by Qantas on Use of Aircraft.
I refer to the Loan Agreement dated as of . . . 1971 between the Commonwealth of Australia, The Boeing Company and Eximbank made for the purpose of enabling the Commonwealth to make available to Qantas amounts required by Qantas to assist in financing the purchase of one Boeing 747 aircraft, spare parts and related equipment and services, together called in the Loan Agreement :the Equipment’.
It is not the present intention of Qantas that any of the Equipment is either.
principally for use in, or sale or lease to any communist country as defined in Section 620(f) of the Foreign Assitance Act 1961 as amended to the date hereof; or
principally for use by or in any nation engaged in armed conflict, declared or otherwise, with the Armed Forces of the U.S.
I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) for precedents for this type of restriction on a major national airline. We saw the propaganda campaign that was launched against a possible competitor for the supply of this kind of aircraft. We heard arguments about pollution from the conservation people and we heard the full blast of propaganda when the British-French Concorde aircraft came to Australia. The Boeing company, having established itself in the world market for these aircraft, expects terms and conditions which result in great profit when it sells its aircraft. It is an insult not only to Qantas but to the Australian nation that we should be circumscribed by the conditions that are set out, for instance, that Qantas has to state that it is not its present intention that any of the equipment will be used in a communist country. United States airlines are operating throughout the world in countries of their choice. When I travelled last year as a delegate to the United Nations I saw American airlines operating in other countries yet it is proposed that Qantas be debarred from going to such places, either with charter flights or with normal commercial flights, under an agreement or a letter of intent given to the company from which it purchases the aircraft. This, of course, involves politics and the Foreign Assistance Act. To me it is an intolerable restriction on the activities of Qantas in this competitive field. I ask the Minister to explain why we are placed in this position. Previous agreements have not imposed this type of restriction, and the Government has to tell us why it is being imposed now.
The amendment I have moved provides also for a select committee to be appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management. I have stated some of my views about the restrictions imposed on Qantas by agreements made outside its control. We of the Opposition feel that whatever the reasons for the great loss in this previously successful airlines they should be known to the Parliament. The other part of the amendment relates to the terms of the loan agreements that should be set forth in a Schedule to the Bill. This has been the practice in the past but the terms do not appear in the Bill now before the Senate. 1 have stated already that we are not satisfied with this legislation as it stands. It is our intention, in amending the Bill, to delay it until the terms of our amendment are carried out.
The current lending terms of the Bank for aircraft borrowings include interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum. The Government has been able to arrange for repayment not to commence until the expiration of 5 years of a 10-year period of loan. This is advantageous. If we were seeking domestic borrowings at this stage not only would we not get the money at a 6 per cent interest rate but I wonder whether we would also get the terms of repayment which the Government has been able to negotiate for these aircraft purchases.
The amendment moved by Senator O’Byrne on behalf of the Opposition criticises the fact that arrangements are not complete. At the stage at which approval was given to Qantas to purchase the aircraft, arrangements were under negotiation for the balance of the loan. I imagine that the Government will be able to announce that these arrangements have been finalised in similar terms or in advantageous terms to Qantas and to the Australian Government as guarantor for the loan for which this Bill seeks approval. The Commonwealth, of course, will be the borrower in the first place under this sort of arrangement and will then make the loan available to Qantas. The terms and conditions are in clause 7 of the Bill.
I want to refer to some of the arrangements made for Qantas for similar puchases. Between 1968 and 1972 there were 4 Boeing 747 aircraft purchases. The loans for those purchases amounted to $94.47m. At 31st March, we had drawn $82. 63m under those loan arrangements. In 1971-72 a further Boeing 747 was purchased for which the Government arranged a loan of $24. 13m. At 31st March we had drawn $1 6.09m on that loan. Looking in total at loan moneys arranged for the purchase of Boeing 747s, we find that at 31st March Qantas had available to it undrawn loan moneys totalling $19. 88m. It is interesting to note that loans amounting to $74. 9m were negotiated between 1956 and 1963 and these have been repaid. These are large amounts and they relate to overseas borrowings.
There are different attitudes towards overseas borrowings and overseas involvement in the development of Australia’s resources and equipment, and there are notable effects on overseas balances as a result of any such arrangements which we make. It is also important to note that the Government has not been a net borrower in recent years. In fact, in the financial year 1971-72 the Commonwealth repaid some $47m as a net amount after new borrowings. In 1972-73 it is expected that $64.7m will be repaid, thus, in both of those years, reducing our international reserves. lt is important to relate the Qantas borrowings in the United States of America to the purchase of the Boeing aircraft. This is an instance of specific loan arrangements being made by a country and a Company in the U.S.A. in which a type of matching of finance and commodity export has been arranged to the mutual benefit of the manufacturer and the purchaser, in this case, Australia. This sort of arrangement which has been made for aircraft loans is somewhat different from other overseas borrowings which we would undertake. I would like to think that we see the position somewhat differently as being related to the advantage of the purchasing company, Qantas Airways Ltd, and also to the advantage of Australia.
I wish to make reference to the balance sheet of Qantas because some comments have been made with regard to its operations in recent years. If we look at the assets held in the aircraft and the loans that have been arranged in contrast with these, we find some significant figures. In the Qantas annual report at page 31 dealing with the consolidated balance sheet, the Company shows the fixed assets of aircraft at cost less obsolescence provisions at $179m at 31st March 1972. Progressive payments amounting to some $5m have been made for aircraft which are on order. Stores and spares in stock at cost or less, after obsolescence provisions, were shown as some $21m. These figures show a very large capital involvement in aircraft and the required stores to service them.
To contrast this, at page 30 of the Company’s report the balance sheet shows that the long term loans for aircraft purchased at this stage amount to SI 17m and some current repayable loans to be repaid by 31st March 1973 amounting to $29m. The Company also has some long term commitments and some smaller short term commitments. If a consolidation of those figures were shown it would be found that there is considerable indebtedness. We have total loans of some $A316m and an amount of some SA150m still unpaid against those loans at the present time. The recent Australian Government decision to reduce the level of short term borrowings overseas is already taking effect. On these loans which are arranged for a 2 year period or some lesser time I understand that a rapid demand has already been directed to our financial resources within Australia for borrowings by overseas controlled companies. I would hope also thai as a policy of the Australian Government all future borrowings overseas would be watched closely.
In the case of this Bill relating to Qantas which has a specific purpose to finance the purchase of a Boeing 747 aircraft, it must be acknowledged that the terms and conditions which have been arranged are of advantage to Qantas and are, as I said earlier, part of an arrangement with an aircraft company and a country which is anxious to export that commodity which is produced. I understand that at the time this arrangement was negotiated if we were to have sought borrowings on the Australian market for a similar amount, possibly the Company would have repaid between 7i per cent and 8 per cent interest. It is of significance in the operations of the Australian company to note that we can arrange an advantageous interest rate of 6 per cent with deferred payments for the commitment under this arrangement.
Some reference was made to the operating loss of Qantas for the last financial year. I think it is fair to state that some of the comments which were made in the annual report are of significance and should be recalled as we are negotiating a loan for the future of this Company’s operations. It is acknowledged that there was a net loss of S6m last year compared to a net profit of over S5m in the previous year. Perhaps this reflects, not on the management of Qantas, as has been suggested in the amendment, but rather on the international operations of the airline industry throughout the last year. It is important to remember that the figures reflect this serious financial state. Since 1969 airlines generally have suffered a sharp decline in profitability. The Australian Qantas company has simply reflected what has been an international experience.
The international airlines’ operations included a marked decline in traffic growth together with all the competing strains with which our company in Australia had to deal. I would like to think that the Australian people feel that the Government is showing confidence in the future of Qantas by arranging for this S25m loan at this stage. I would also like to think that we have a national pride in our Qantas airline and that it is part of the international airline industry. Rather than attempt to denigrate our Company at this stage we should show every confidence both in its management and its prospects for increased participation in the international airline industry of the future.
This loan which has been negotiated will give Qantas the added aircraft which were part of a plan which had been foreshadowed at the time we arranged the last loan for the previous 5 Boeing aircraft. The new low cost fares and the passenger appeal of the Boeing 747 aircraft have helped to increase substantially the Qantas load factor on the Kangaroo route between Australia and Europe during the past 6 months. It has been the subject of great interest throughout the world that the introduction of low cost fares has been a competitive measure which has urged international operators to reach out to determine what type of market the people of the world want in their international travel. I believe that Qantas is participating more freely in the international market at the present time and is increasing substantially its load factors. In fact, m August, the average weekly economy passenger loading reached a record high of almost 80 per cent. It would be unrealistic to expect that this can be maintained because I think that it is fair to say that a passenger loading of 80 per cent is not the experience of international airlines in passenger loading capacity.
We would hope that the company shares increasingly in what we would expect to be a growing industry. However, there are the competing factors with which we have to deal in common with any other operator in an international industry such as airline movements of people and of cargo. Later this year Qantas will step up to a total of 5 Boeing 747 services a week on the Kangaroo route and the Company is planning to increase to a daily Boeing 747 service on this route as soon as it is feasible. These plans for future operations make it quite evident that the need for another aircraft to add to those which are already in operation is part of forward thinking and planning for participation in the future. I would hope that the support and confidence which is shown by government in this would be reflected by our own people as they seek to use the international airline and are given the comfort and other advantages of Boeing 747 services in ever increasing numbers.
There is a comment in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation which I think should be stated at this stage in view of the amendment which has been introduced and some of the comments which have been made already. The report states:
The economic slump which hit the international civil aviation industry in 1970-71 was still apparent in the financial results of most international scheduled airlines in 1971-72.
Even Qantas, which has traditionally reported an end ot year profit, has experienced its first real operating loss - apart, of course, from that caused by the 1966 pilots’ strike.
This adverse trend in international airline profitability can be attributed to many factors, but chiefly lo:
Increased operating costs per seat mile. Low-fare competition by non-schedule operators.
Increased salaries and wages and other related costs.
I think 2 of those factors are relevant to most of the industrial development which has taken place in the past 2 years - that is, increased operating costs and increased salaries and wages and other related costs. They had a very significant bearing on the $6m loss which was shown in the Qantas figures for the year ended 31st March 1972.
I return to the Bill. I would hope that it had the support of the Senate and of those people who would want to see Australia with a national airline which has prestige in international operations, which has the latest equipment and the most comfortable aircraft, which can provide an increasing service and variety in the routes that it operates. I give support to the Bill. I hope that the amendment will be rejected by the Senate because I feel that it reflects unfairly on the operations of the company. I feel that to delay the loan arrangements for the purchase of an aircraft which will be needed in future for our operations is unrealistic. I think that the terms of the remainder of the loan agreement which will be negotiated will be an advantage to Qantas and certainly will add to its opportunity for profitability by providing a loan at a lower rate of interest than Qantas would otherwise be able to achieve. I support the Bill.
Qantas, with great wisdom, has seen the necessity for forward planning, for the expansion of its fleet and for its movement into the field of heavier aircraft, for the. economic reasons which have been so thoroughly and with such skill presented to the Senate by Senator Guilfoyle. In 1968 the Senate had before it a Bill to authorise the borrowing by Qantas of large sums for the purchase of 5 jumbo jet aircraft - the 747Bs. That was the occasion for the Opposition to set its face against that programme, against that type of programme and against that concept by Qantas or by any operating Australian airline, if the Opposition had such an intention. Once a programme is embarked upon, its completion becomes the very essence of the economics of the operation. To truncate the programme in part or in whole at any stage can create economic disaster. In 1968 there was no attempt by the Opposition to move an amendment of this type or to impede in any way the passage of that Bill. I have before me the Hansard for the year 1968 which deals with the. Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill. The Bill was presented and the second reading speech was delivered. The Bill was the subject of minor debate. It was not amended in Committee. It was passed without amendment.
Years later, when Qantas seeks to effect the complement to its whole capital programme of expansion, an amendment is moved. I feel that it would be totally irresponsible of the Senate to accept the amendment, as I feel that it is irresponsible of the Opposition to move this type of amendment at this stage. We are very proud of Qantas. That fact is common to all parties. I do not think anybody consciously wishes to hurt the operation of the airline. To think that the airline can operate internationally, in the severe climate of international competition and with strictures of the character contained in the amendment imposed on it, obviously is expecting altogether too much. Ultimately the airline would be faced with total economic disaster. Because there is so much business before the Senate, because the Bill is complementary to a Bill that was passed 4 years ago - this Bill is merely the partial completion of a programme - and because I think that the purchase of the original aircraft was warranted, I see no reason for impeding the purchase of the additional aircraft.
The negotiations for the supply of money for this purpose are very complex operations. They require the co-operation of the manufacturing company. I have little doubt that the Boeing company would have a severe production budget - one with which it would have to comply. It would have to plan its operations some years ahead. For an impediment such as that contained in the amendment to interfere with its production budget would be not only very disconcerting to the company but might in future greatly prejudice Australia when it came again to one of the major aircraft manufacturing corporations seeking an aircraft. In those circumstances, if I were operating such a company, I would require an assurance - almost a cheque on the table - that there would be no impediment. When the aircraft was ordered there would have to be payment for it. No company could afford to operate in any other way, with the economics of the aircraft production industry much less the economics of the aircraft operation industry being what they are. We know that aircraft production companies get into very great trouble and often have to be supported by governments. That is common with American aircraft production corporations. We know that they could not possibly carry on in the circumstances to which I have referred. Australia would inevitably be put at the end of the customer queue if this type of approach were to be made for the purchase of aircraft from this or any other company.
– All the others will have Concordes by then.
– -That may be so. We cannot alford to impugn our good faith or to disconcert our suppliers. The actual production of the money has been a complex operation which has involved the economics of the producing and selling company and has involved the intervention of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. That institution would have a budget also. Undoubtedly it would have planned in its budget that this money would be made available to Australia now for this purpose. If having said thai we want the money we now say that due to the intervention of Parliament at this stage we do not want it, our rating with that institution would be greatly imperilled in future. For those reasons 1 can see no reason why the amendment should be supported. Whatever may be the intrinsic principles involved in the propositions which are put forward - I do not canvass them but I have very grave doubts as to the merit of many aspects of the elements comprised in the amendment - I think that to present it at this stage in the progress of an agreement of such complexity and of such magnitude and in relation to which parties on all sides are committed for many years back and ahead, does smack of irresponsibility. I hope that the Australian Labor Party might reconsider ils position and withdraw the amendment because inevitably it will not be accepted by the Senate. It could not be accepted by the Senate because, with a proper sense of responsibility, we would have to preserve the commercial integrity of Qantas. We have an obligation to preserve our good faith with the suppliers of the aircraft and our status with the international financial institutions which are supporting the loan. For those reasons, the Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill and strongly opposes the amendment put forward by the Opposition.
– I will take only a few minutes to support the remarks of Senator O’Byrne. and perhaps to make one or two comments on what Senator Byrne has said. First of all, J want to direct his attention to the fact that for a long time now - I instance the motion which the Opposition put forward in the Senate and in the. other place last year - we have been very concerned about the future of Qantas Airways Ltd. Arising out of long representations over almost the whole of last year and again this year, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) recently brought down a summary of the operations of Qantas. I think it is fair to say that there has been some improvement of which we are all very pleased. I remind Senator Byrne of what the Minister said in his statement when referring to the annual report. He said:
July showed an almost break even result and good profits were earned in August and September. The company has consistently bettered ils operating Budget in this period. The benefits gained from overseas currency revaluations have been mentioned in the annual report . . . and these gains will be brought into account each year as they are realised. It should not, of course, be assumed that these promising signs indicate an end to the problems facing Qantas. In particular, the international airline industry is a seasonal one. and some of the months to follow are not normally good traffic months. 1 appreciate what the Minister has put in writing about the. future of Qantas, and that is why the propositions contained in the amendment moved by the Opposition are related. Surely it not irresponsible to talk again about the need to have a firm form of co-production in Australia. I remind the Senate that on at least 3 occasions the Opposition has promoted this proposition. There is no doubt that this agitation has earned for the Australian industry an increasing share of offset orders. Although we have declarations from Ministers, we have not yet got what we assume to be a firm policy of coproduction.
I come now to the question of Qantas management. It can be argued, as the Minister often argues in his own policies - other honourable senators, maybe including yourself, Mr Deputy President, have also put forward this argument - that Qantas has to be allowed to operate its own business. It will be recalled that during the past 12 months there have been certain erratic indications from Qantas management in relation to the problems of Qantas and the international industry. There were glowing reports early in the year and then later there were such actions as to occasion gloom, and during the year there were dismissals. Frequently statements were made by Qantas management which caused a great deal of concern as a result of which the Minister, as he well knows, received deputations at different times from the pilots and also from the mechanical staffs. Some of those deputations have continued during this year. We on this side of the chamber questioned the Minister and asked: ‘What can be done about dismissals of crews? What can be done about the termination of training programmes? What can be done about the termination of the services of skilled staffs?’ The only indication we have had in relation to what Qantas might do appeared today in a Press report. It says that Qantas again will look for some of the crews that it dismissed. So we do not know exactly the general policy of Qantas management.
I want to refer very briefly to some of the points which were made by the air pilots. I think they ought to be noted. We still say that they have not been answered completely. In relation to what 1 said about Senator Byrne’s point of view, I remind him that at about this time last year we moved an amendment which closely follows the aims that we as the Labor Opposition would like.
– Amendment to what?
– The Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill (No. 2). The amendment we moved on that occasion reads: but the Senate is of opinion that firm arrangements should have been made for substantial co- production procedures for imported aircraft and a joint select committee should be appointed to inquire into and report upon the effectiveness of Qantas management in relation to crew retrenchment, migrant carriage contracts, the future role of Qantas in the major international aviation scene both from commercial and defence aspects, the question of Qantas’ role in Australia’s balance of payments, entry into and extent of activity in international charter operations-
– You did not purport to hold up the Bill.
– No. The difference between our objective then and what obtains today is that, as we see it, we will not take delivery of the aircraft until about March next year. I think that is the date. The Minister can correct me.
– It is 1974.
– The year after next. In the second instance, the fact is that the financial operations have not yet been completed. About one-half of the money has been raised by the Export-Import Bank of the United Stales, but the transaction is still to go on and the Government still faces the difficulty about accepting that transaction when it takes place in accordance with the arrangements made by the Treasurer on the basis of what the Labor Party has moved in the past and what Senator O’Byrne has mentioned. We contract with the supplier of an aircraft not to use it in certain circumstances, although the builders of that aircraft use it as they choose in communist and non-communist countries. But there are some other matters which ought to be looked into. As I have said, we are as much concerned about coproduction, about getting a share of the production, and about arrangements with the suppliers of aircraft, as we are concerned about the future of Qantas. All of us here are very happy about what appears to be a temporary recovery of Qantas. We do not want to see Qantas aircraft only partly filled - sometimes only one quarter filled. Does not the issue of the sixth Boeing aircraft coming into service become important in relation to loadings? As 1 have mentioned, those matters are related.
I want to refer to what are still some of the outstanding problems in relation to Qantas management. The Minister has stated that the management has been modified and that the Board has been increased by an additional 2 members.
What the pilots have said to the Minister by deputation, privately and publicly, is that there is still a need to modify and reform Qantas management. It seems to me that the arguments that are put forward are sound. I have never yet seen those arguments properly inquired into. For that reason it seems to me that a proposition from the Opposition to support the request that a select committee be set up certainly is not irresponsible, lt is reasonable. Let me outline to the Senate some of the requests made by the air pilots. As late as June this year they put out documents which were the substance of representations to management and, I believe, the Minister. After conducting surveys of traffic possibilities in the future, they came down with these conclusions:
The Qantas management has failed to appreciate the changed market conditions which now prevail in the aviation industry. Reaction to competition has been slow and inadequate. Instead of reacting aggressively, the management, blaming ils troubles on a largely imaginary market downturn :ind crying unfair competition, is proposing to withdraw from competitive areas. The Government has shown little concern for Qantas” £,roblems and indeed if the last year’s actions may be taken at face value, even appears content to let Qantas fail.
Another of their conclusions refers to this proposition:
The Government should examine the relationship of Qantas to the overall Australian economy and the importance of overseas earnings balanced against airline profits and in the light of this examination, redraft the financial directives under which Qantas operates.
The Federation’s eighth point was:
Qantas should use a portion of its reserve funds to purchase shares in overseas agencies to feed Qantas aircraft with overseas tourists.
The tenth point was:
The sixth B747 ordered should be cancelled.
The Federation then referred to these propositions, which seem to me to be reasonable in relation to who should comprise the management of Qantas:
One member with management experience in the international hotel industry. This requirement has become urgent in the light of the current swing to recreational travel and all-inclusive tour marketing.
One member with extensive experience in the travel agency business. Travel agents and tourist agencies handle over 80 per cent of Qantas business. A board member appointed to be responsible for this area would be invaluable.
One, or possibly, two, members of the present TAA Commission should be appointed to the Qantas Board. Sections of TAA and Qantas could possible be amalgamated at some future date.
They are the propositions which have been put and they ought to be examined. Certainly they are put in the latter part of an 18-months period when the performance of Qantas has been much in doubt, although the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has assured the Senate that they are now on the up and up. However, the Senate has been very concerned, as the Minister well knows, with this performance for nearly the last 2 years and we have the problem where - belatedly, of course - the Government or Qantas has accepted the idea of low cost charter fares which the Federation of Air Pilots and others in the industry had been thrashing for a long time, lt seems to me that what has been referred to by the Minister in his current report are matters which were put to Qantas management over 12 months ago.
Let me refer to one last point on this, the relationship between Qantas management and the staff. This must continue io receive some consideration by the Government. lt would seem to me that the best of all the suggestions that have been put up about the Qantas management is the need to have staff represented on the management itself. The trend throughout the world is for staff to be represented. By this method one does not see the clumsy negotiations that usually result from upsurges and difficulties over redundancy of staff. Staff representatives properly appointed to management to represent employees’ organisations can be of great value. The Australian Federation of Ail Pilots had this to say also, and I hope that the Minister, even if he does not reply at this stage, will consider it at some subsequent time. The Federation has said that the staff relationships policies of the management have been designed to create fear and insecurity among the staff and are more suitable for the 19th century than the 1970s when enlightened management is working towards inspiring active support and co-operation of staff. The Federation said that retrenchments last year were made as inhumanly as possibly: Pilots were notified of seniority numbers only and that after the announcement dozens of wives, many crying and distraught, whose husbands were overseas, rang the Federation to find out whether they were affected. The company at the same time warned the balance of the staff of possible retrenchments. I shall not continue to build up that argument because the Opposition expanded it to a large extent last year and to some extent this year.
I shall be as brief as I can in putting the arguments which the Opposition has put continually about the need to get a firm undertaking for co-production in Australia. It has been improved and I suggest that much of the improvement results from the agitation of this Opposition and of the people in the industry. However, I should like to quote from a recent statement by the General Manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Mr R. L. Abbott, which is published in the magazine Aircraft’ of October 1972. This is what he said:
Whatever is proposed, the question of workload is the key factor, said Mr Abbott. The Government talks about ‘a small but viable and effective industry’ but whatever they do it has got to be a commercially viable industry. Compared with that central fact the form the industry takes is, from the national viewpoint, of secondary importance. Before that can be discussed with any reality we must know what are the Government plans to provide a basic and a continuing workload. We must know the range of skills we are required to maintain, so that we can assess what numbers and types of qualified people we will need, what sort of equipment. There has to be an understanding of all these questions. . . .
So the position is that even though there has been some increase in the total quantity of co-production - and figures have been bandied about, but there are no complete answers, that range between SI Om and $9m; certainly the share is becoming greater - there is still a feeling of uncertainty in the aircraft industry. There have been some substantial orders resulting from the Nomad project which may turn into an active work load, but what the industry needs is not the consortium which is under examination by the Government, but what was mentioned by Mr Abbott - work load in all enterprises both public and private.
May I briefly wind up by again referring to the quantity of imports into the country and the small share of co-production we get. One must remember that our share of co-production certainly does not at pre sent exceed $9m for future commitments. We do not know what will result from the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force, but that is the ticket at present. These figures have been quoted before, but they are up to date and have been provided by the statistical service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. I shall quote from a summary table headed Imports into Australia, Aeroplanes etc. in Millions of Dollars’. In 1969-70 the total value was $127,182,000, in 1970-71 $159,040,000 and in 1971-72 $73,469,000. That is apart, of course, from whatever importation of other war requirements and war stores were brought into the country. By taking those years together a total of nearly $182m worth of equipment came into this country, lt is true that various specialists have been sent overseas to try to get bits and pieces of orders, but with this country’s aircraft industry, which is a very capable industry with capacity and capability and which still has skilled employees, although some have gone as a result of retrenchments and redundancies, it is still possible for us to cope with a substantial volume of work. Our provisions are not adequate and the Government should be insisting on a much greater quantity of co-production and offset orders. We are not getting them. That is the reason for the second main proposition of the Opposition. 1 take the opportunity of thanking honourable senators for having listened to these rather lengthy arguments and I hope that as a result of the representations the Government may see fit to bring out before the elections a firmer proposition about co-production.
– As the Senate could expect, the Government would not think it either wise or sensible to accept the amendment which has been proposed. Without traversing the ground covered, I think the observations made by Senator Byrne were both apposite and to the point. This proposal deals with 3 matters, offset production, select committee proposals and the terms of the agreement for the loan. As far as offsets are concerned, there is a standing interdepartmental committee on offsets. Orders placed by Boeing in Australia total, so far,
SUS7.28m; this sum covers rudders, elevators and wing inspar ribs for Boeing 727 aircraft. Australia is the only source of supply of these items. In placing orders for the 8 Boeing 727-200s the Government indicated that it sought S20m in offset orders. Following this a Boeing mission headed by a vice-president met the inter-departmental committee in Canberra in April 1972. Boeing has since commit.teed another $A3m to the end of September against the Boeing 727-200 orders. We expect. I might say, further progress. Boeing maintains 2 engines in Australia in connection with offset projects and it is expected that Boeing work will continue for at least another 5 years. So 1 think it can fairly be said, forgetting those who might be looking for credit for themselves or somebody else - none of these things matter - that there has been substantial progress in offset orders in Australia in relation to aircraft purchases in the United States.
Very briefly, we are dealing with a proposal by the Labor Party for a select committee to consider these matters. I would be the last not to have a high regard for select committees for I have spent a large part of my senatorial life in their service. Anybody who has been involved with Senate select committees will know that they do a first class job. Their work is both exhaustive and time consuming. But I cannot see any necessity for such an inquiry in this case.
I can recall the submission from the airline pilots about how the company should be run. I read it with great interest. I gave it to the Department of Civil Aviation, which also studied it, as did Qantas. Qantas has been in operation for 52 years, lt had a very humble beginning in a western Queensland station paddock, lt has had only 2 losses in its 52 years of operation. The first was caused by a substantial strike of airline pilots. The second loss, which has been referred to on many occasions this year, was due to a combination of factors quite beyond the control of Qantas. There have been very heavy increases in costs, not the least of which were the substantial increases in the rates of pay of all employees. There has been a very heavy increase in all kinds of charges imposed on it. At the same time there has been a decline in the growth of civil aviation around the world and a heavy increase in seating capacity. All of those things, which occurred within the space of about 2 months, made a substantial difference to Qantas. I will not reiterate them because there is no need for me to do so. I tried to cover everything fully in my second reading speech. They have been covered quite adequately in the annual report of the Chairman of Qantas, to which many references have been made. Both documents are available for perusal. No-one has had any of the facts hidden from him. 1 think 1 should mention that Qantas has in its lifetime done a most remarkable job. lt merits the respect of all Australians for its achievements and its performances. The company’s assets have grown from very minute figures in the early years to something like $250m, as shown in the last balance sheet, which was for 31st March this year. Its assets are still growing. It ought to be borne in mind that during the period of its substantial asset growth the investment by the Australian shareholders - the people through the Government - has remained constant at about $40m. In effect, the people of Australia own the assets of Qantas to the extent of about 15 per cent of the total amount of money involved. It should also be observed that as at 31st March this year the total investment by the people of Australia in Qantas was a little less than $40m and that in the 10 years to that date in taxation and in dividends the company had paid more than that to the Australian taxpayer. In actual fact Qantas was running for nothing for the people of Australia as at 31st March 1972. That is not a bad performance. It is hardly one which warrants examination by a select committee. It should be remembered that that performance has been achieved in an industry which is difficult, complex, subject to tremendous pressures and highly marginal.
One thing on which I ought to report in passing is the reference at page 6 of the annual report of the company that Qantas has made an exchange realisation profit of $5. 5m this year and is bringing that to account only progressively year by year. In some areas the year’s operating losses of about S6m could be struck off against the exchange capital realisation gains and a line ball could be shown. No honourable senator would recommend that. I would not recommend it. But some people might be induced to think that way. I do not think Qantas can be looked on as having done too bad a job in the management of its affairs under difficult circumstances, in the way in which it has handled its loan commitments and its loan programmes and in what it has done in regard to borrowing and repaying money.
The loan which is the subject of this Bill is a Treasury matter. The first part of it has been picked up under arrangements with the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The balance will be obtained later. That is not just because the people concerned do not know what they are doing. Without wishing to say a great deal, I point out that it is because it is thought that it may be a little easier to get the balance on more favourable terms a little later on. I think one ought to have regard for the Treasury’s skill in raising capital overseas and to Qantas’ demonstrable record of achieving fairly favourable rates. I shall leave it at that.
As I pass through I should observe some of the facts of Australia’s economic life because they have some bearing. Australia’s economic life has manifested the same huge growth as Qantas. Some figures which I took out for a speech I made to the Local Government Association last night bear on this matter. In the 25 years to 1971-72 the Australian gross national product has grown by over 12 times and Australia’s export income has grown by 18 times. But the indebtedness of the Australian people for all government borrowings overseas is much the same today as it was 25 years ago. That is not a bad indication of what the Treasury and the country can do in loan management. I think that would probably cover that situation.
The Government has demonstrated its confidence in Qantas. I think every Australian should have that confidence. This year extra capital of S25m is to be provided. We have backed the further building of a Qantas centre. We have clearly laid down that a sixth Boeing 747, which is what we are talking about now, must come into service and that it must come into service according to the time table laid down. If its introduction is delayed by any process like this it could affect Qantas’ opportunities to get the share of the market that it would like to get later on. 1 think the observations of Senator Byrne about certain things giving the impression of a little irresponsibility are not to be taken lightly. Reference was made to Lang Park Ltd, which was a company in the overall company structure of Qantas that was designed to took after the purchase of the freehold property of the old Wentworth Hotel. Because it was a dormant company it was able to be used as a company vehicle without cost by name change to provide a Qantair position in case that was necessary. I think that explains the position satisfactorily. It is not a particularly difficult matter.
One ought to observe that the 747 is an aircraft of lower unit cost than any other type and that it therefore adds to earnings while it helps to pick up an increased market share. It has been demonstrated to have a greater passenger appeal, lt allows Qantas to maintain a competitive position. It will also allow Qantas to dispose of two 707s in due course. It will give Qantas flexibility and improve its position.
Senator O’Byrne referred to some of the terms of the agreement. Generally when legislation has been introduced for a borrowing to assist in the purchase of new aircraft the loan agreements have already been signed but usually are conditional upon appropriate legislative authority being given later. I can remember debating such a Bill myself. However, on this occasion borrowing arrangements for the purchase of the aircraft have not been finalised for the reasons I have mentioned and which I hope honourable senators will understand. Despite this, the timing of the contractual payments to the Boeing company has to be provided for, the first being due to be made in January 1973. This precludes the presentation of a Bill incorporating details of the completed borrowing arrangements made by the Treasury, which honourable senators can rest assured will be made both satisfactorily and adequately.
The letter of intent was referred to by Senator O’Byrne. The letter given by Qantas to the Export-Import Bank on the
Occasion of the purchase of the fifth Boeing 747 was a statement of present intention by Qantas not to use the aircraft principally in any communist country or in any country engaged in armed conflict with the United States and, ipso facto, this country. It does not preclude the use of the aircraft in communist countries. I would further emphasise that the letter is not an undertaking by Qantas or the Commonwealth to restrict use of the aircraft. It has been given only to satisfy the requirements of the Export-Import Bank for rather favourable terms of loan moneys to be tied to the aircraft purchase.
I do not have a great deal more to say that would help honourable senators. But before concluding perhaps I should refer to one or two of the points made by Senator Bishop, who, I must say, has taken a sustained and deep interest in the affairs of Qantas. I think I have responded to him more than adequately on a number of occasions about Qantas. I have mentioned the problems confronting the very quick change from quite substantia] profits to losses that occurred within the space of about 2 months. As mentioned before, costs went up very dramatically, capacity around the world increased dramatically and growth decreased. Heavy losses were sustained by all sorts of international carriers. In my view Qantas has performed very well in difficult circumstances. I think that will be shown when the results of its performances are measured against the results of the performances of other carriers. It should be borne in mind that Qantas is about 10th or 11th in size in the international airline world, which makes it very exposed to these sorts of forces. But one ought to observe that there are 12,000 employees of the Qantas company, of whom 570 are pilots, and I think one also ought to observe that the pilots are fairly well paid. This is not to gainsay that their viewpoint is not to be taken seriously; it has been taken seriously. Their observations were examined. But a company has to bs managed in the interests of more than one arm of its employees and this is what the Qantas company and the Government endeavour to do.
It is suggested that there is a need to modify and reform the management of Qantas. In every company in which I have ever been involved there has been a continuous need to look at the management situation in order to try to improve it or make it better. This is never a static thing. This is true of Qantas and it is true of any management scene in any endeavour in a community affair of which I am aware. The pilots suggested that the Qantas Board should be enlarged; that, in effect, it should include a pilot. That is not to give much consideration to the balance of 11,500 Qantas employees, is it? The pilots suggested that on the Qantas Board there should be a person who is also on the Australian National Airlines Commission. There is such a person. Mr Law-Smith, the Deputy Chairman of Qantas, has been on the Airlines Commission for a long time. I make these observations in passing just to demonstrate that there has to be a broader view than just the specialist view. Very often the specialist view is valuable, and it is taken into account. I should mention - not much has been said of this - that a very substantial reorganisation of the management structure of Qantas took place quite a long time ago, and details of it were announced. As I have mentioned in my statements, both recently and earlier, there has been quite an enlargement of the Qantas Board to give it extra capacity in the decision-making process.
Senator Bishop referred to the relations between management and staff. 1 would agree, from all my activities, that one always wants to keep the management-staff relationship at the very best possible level. I speak only for myself when I say that 1 have always found that consultation is the best way of achieving that; that, in effect, people should be prepared fo talk to each other about their problems. When I look at the submission of the pilots, which refers to the fact that their views perhaps are not taken into account, I remind myself that, of the 8 directors on the Qantas Board, 3 are pilots and one is the father of an existing airline pilot. Of the General Manager and 2 Deputy General Managers in the Qantas management team, 2 are ex-Qantas pilots. All in all, I think that we ought to be fair to the company. It has done a remarkable job for Australia. It has made the most dramatic progress. It has built a tremendous enterprise for us without much money from us. The real gains are to be seen in the balance sheet. The gains about which we do not know, in regard to earning overseas exchange, carrying our flag around the world and helping our trade promotion, are all credits as well. I believe that Qantas is a very great company that is living in a very tough, competitive financial and airline world, and I do not think that its future would be aided in the slightest degree by accepting the amendment proposed by the Labor Party.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator O’Byrne’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28 September (vide page 1330), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At a later stage of this debate my colleagues will be moving an amendment. 1 think my initial reaction to this measure, and the attitude of all senators, is that a large sum of money is entailed and that we are entitled to feel that there must be a participation by Aborigines in the spending of the money. If we examine some of the history of the Red Indians in the United States we see that even as far back as the time of President Theodore Roosevelt there was organisation by agencies and other government organisations, very much the sort of thing we are attempting to achieve now. I do not think anyone who has spoken to senior officers of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs would question their dedication. But if one studies the reports of the United States Senate relating to the time of President Theodore Roosevelt one will see that many things were said about it being a new era for the American Red Indian but that goal was not realised. But land problems for the Red Indian continued, even when Red Indian ex-servicemen came back from World War I, and later there were other problems in about the 1940s. It seems to me that far loo often Washington felt that it knew best and that in some cases some States did not want to cooperate with Washington on this problem. I am sure that when Senator Keeffe participates in the debate he will point the bone at the Queensland State Government for some of its rather peculiar attitudes to the Aboriginal situation.
My contribution to the debate will deal with the participation of people in their own destiny. I know that it could be argued and it is felt in some quarters that if there is a large sum of money to be expended by the Commonwealth or the States, expertise in the expenditure of the funds is needed. That is logical up to a certain point, but then there is a gap in the reasoning. I have mentioned in the Senate before that when one looks at the Aboriginal boys and girls of reasonably high intelligence at Kormilda College and places like that, one can see in their eyes the challenge to life. Last time I was there 1 looked at them and wondered whether they would become sullen and disappointed if they were not given reasonable opportunities. The availability of money will enable amenities to be provided, but other issues are involved. If we were to train a football team or some other team of athletes and they were denied the opportunity for actual competition but were obliged to remain on the sidelines, they would become irked with their situation. Applying that reasoning to some of our Aboriginals, if they have the intellectual opportunity and are able to gain university degrees, as some of them undoubtedly will, they will become distressed if they have not the opportunity to apply their qualities of leadership. I know that this raises a very thorny question.
We are not unaware of the confrontation that took place in Canberra not so long ago. Some of us have read the utterances of people like Bobbi Sykes. I have not met Bobbi Sykes, but during the proceedings of the Estimates Committee I asked a senior and respected officer what the situation would be if a person like Bobbi Sykes offered her services to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, and I was told that if she applied her talents would be considered. We must consider also the situation which prevailed in places like Kenya. No man was more decried throughout the British Commonwealth than Kenyatta. He was regarded as the arch fiend. Mau Mau terrorism was laid at his door, and other charges of this kind were made. Yet in later years when we saw him at Commonwealth gatherings he was attending as an elder statesman. Nobody would deny that in the African turbulence of the day, apart from the tragic murder of Tom Mboya, Kenyatta has become a rather revered figure.
Some of the people who have been very militant in Australia believe that money alone will not be the salvation of Aboriginal emancipation and that there is a need for more participation. As I see it, in this area the Commonwealth may have to take a calculated risk. I shall describe the kind of risk that I have in mind. We could pour money into a cattlemen’s co-operative or some other project conducted by Aborigines and that could fail. Probably there would be an upheaval then about whether some Commonwealth public servant had showed bad judgment, and racists would no doubt argue that the Aborigines did not have the business know-how. As a result of that situation succeeding governments could tighten up on the amount provided for that enterprise.
As an Opposition we have advocated adequate funds being granted to assist the Aborigines, but we are appreciative of the complexity of the situation. It may sound strange coming from me with my trade union background, but although 1 have always believed in seniority for the purpose of protecting people when it came to dismissals, nevertheless we may reach a stage when some of the younger people in the Aboriginal community will have to be given positions of responsibility because some Aborigines in the older age groups will be too cautious or timid and may not have the drive to meet a situation which the younger ones could manage. Probably it is unfortunate in some respects that this legislation has come before us before 1 and my colleagues Senator Laucke, Senator Keeffe, Senator Webster and others have been able to complete our deliberations as members of the Standing Committee on Social Environment which is considering the problems of Aborigines. I am somewhat concerned because I am aware of some undue optimism in one area. Reference has been made to the Department of Labour and National Service and there has been some question as to its capacity to handle the urban problem relating to Aborigines. In a document dealing with a vocational training complex the following words appear:
All such programmes are envisaged as supplementing the Commonwealth’s major employment effort through the Department of Labour and National Service, which we believe to De makin valuable progress.
Quite apart from Aborigines as a race, I am far from satisfied today that we are geared sufficiently to meet the situation as more and more manual work is phased out and that we are able to provide job opportunities. I wonder sometimes whether we are developing a complex that the be-all and end-all is for people to work in air.conditioned offices. I suppose like many honourable senators I entered into a different life when 1 came into the Parliament, but I have never forgotten that Labor Prime Minister Chifley always argued that the man on the production line was the person who kept industry rolling. As we reduce the number of manual operative jobs available in the community immediately we make competition for work much keener. Let us take a parallel with the United States. Some of the difficulties faced by successive Presidents in achieving equal opportunity for the negro have come from white collar workers who have been apprehensive as to whether they would be deprived of employment. 1 do not suggest that we have reached this situation in Australia - I am sure that we have not.
As late as last Saturday I spoke to people in the 25 to 35 years age group at Talbingo at the opening of the new dam project and power station. Some of these former employees of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority were finding themselves in a lower grade work where the going was much tougher. The point I am making is that obviously it is good that because of this Bill Aborigines will be able to achieve new skills, but when 1 look at the whole social structure of Australia I come to the conclusion that the Department of Labour and National Service is not so far advanced or so well equipped as it should be to meet the situation. Every time bigger rock buggies, bulldozers and earth moving equipment is used, some labour is displaced. The fact remains that although we are training a race of people who will be skilled technicians to service the non-manual operations, fewer of them will be needed.
I want to wind up on this point because I know a lot of my colleagues are going to deal in detail with specific areas of Aboriginal job opportunities. From what I have seen in metropolitan Sydney and the inner suburb like Redfern, I know it could be argued that for a start the building industry and the waterfront could be a fair reservoir for all types of people in the semiskilled brackets. The fact is that such people are only a small part of the waterside workers complement in the port of Sydney and other ports as well. There is no doubt that every time there is an innovation in the building industry a smaller work force will be needed. It could be argued that within 20 years the birth rate probably will level out. But we have to deal with the next 20 years. I repeat that this is one of the problems that we have. I believe that notwithstanding the money which is to be voted under this Bill the Department of Labour and National Service must have a much closer relationship with industry in this field. For far too long people have talked about the word ‘productivity’ as though it is the be-all and end-all. Sometimes some of these short term positions are not the best.
As a matter of fact, let us look at another situation as we are talking about the role of the Aborigines. In relation to asbestos mining there have been some of these small pocket handkerchief mines which people thought were very grandiose in offering work to Aborigines. Honourable senators will note that even as late as the current issue of the journal of the Australian Workers Union concern has been expressed at the lack of liaison by the Mines Department of New South Wales to combat the dangers from asbestos mines. A form of silicosis stems from asbestos operations. These are matters of concern, to my way of thinking. Even on the job aspect I do nol feel that we should say that we will give these jobs, which white Australians do not want, to the Aborigines because it keeps them content. When new industrial techniques are introduced, particularly in heavy industry, nobody knows whether they will mean a new form of attack on our respiratory organs or even some form of dermatitis.
As far as the role of the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned, I would be a lot more confident if I could obtain some positive figures of what our potential work force will be. I think it is doubly significant as Senator Davidson knows, that the Government has 3 working parties. One of them is an appendage to the Department of Immigration. It is looking at our intake of migrants and it has not come up with an answer yet. Whether it is a person of Aboriginal ancestry, Australian born or a migrant, the whole aspect of job opportunity will be related to the expenditure of this money; otherwise we may easily have the problems which have been facing Chicago and other big cities. I ask honourable senators not to forget that 20 years before these problems occurred bureaus in the United States were dealing with people and they never obtained answers. I leave the matter at this point knowing that my colleagues who will speak subsequently in this debate will be a little more specific about the areas which are under discussion.
– I support the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill which is before the Senate this afternoon. I am very encouraged to see that there has been a substantial increase in the allocation of funds to the States for Aboriginal development. There are many areas in which Aborigines are in great need, particularly in fields to which the Government has seen fit to allocate money such as housing, health, education, employment and, social work. Also I am very happy to see that the Government in its wisdom has seen fit to allocate money to voluntary organisations in the various States. I believe that these organisations do a great job in liaison and welfare work and not only in straight out welfare work where people are in dire circumstances and need but also in health and social activities. 1 am very happy to see in the allocation of money to Queensland that an amount has been allocated to the various social organisations such as my organisation called One People of Australia League. This allocation has been very substantial indeed. It is helping many members of my race to fit into the community and enjoy the kinds of activities which they feel they need to do.
An amount of money has been allocated for housing. I believe that there is a great need to assist the members of my race in relation to housing. For many years they have lived on the fringe of our towns not Only in Queensland but also in the other States. They had to live under sub-standard conditions because of the lack of educational training and job opportunities. Now it is very encouraging to see that there is a greater awareness not only by governments but also by people in various communities. Today more assistance is given to help Aborigines move into better housing conditions and employment. I feel that perhaps there is a need for more help in this field as there is in relation to health and education. I have seen remarkable changes, particularly over the past 6 or 7 years, since the Commonwealth has had power to make special laws for Aborigines. There has been this special allocation of money to assist the different States in Aboriginal advancement. In my own State I know that the State Government has seen fit in its present Budget to allocate nigh on $7m for Aboriginal advancement. When we add this to what has been allocated by the Federal Government we can see that things are progressing very well for my fellow Aborigines in my own State.
I feel that we have to be a little careful in what we do because unfortunately we are receiving what might be termed a backlash from non-Aboriginal people in the community who perhaps are suffering through circumstances beyond their control. I know that in some areas of Queensland criticism has been levelled at the Government because of what is happening and what is being done for Aborigines. It makes me very sad to think that people do this because I feel that the Government and people of Australia have a particular responsibility to the indigenous people of this nation. I believe that there is a need for special legislation and special assistance to help members of my race who have come from a completely different culture and who are striving to adapt and integrate into the general community and become what we all want to be - respected and responsible citizens. It is very encouraging to me to realise that the Commonwealth Government and my State Government are now becoming more aware of the problems facing Aborigines and that they are now more readily doing something to assist.
I feel that the Government should be looking at an idea which I have had for many years and which I have tried to promote. At this time I believe that there is a great need to involve Aborigines in Aboriginal affairs. When I say this I mean competent Aborigines, not necessarily academically brilliant but Aborigines who have suffered the problems which are facing many members of my race at this time and who have been able to overcome these problems. I believe that they would make very good liaison and welfare officers working among their own people. They would have common communication. They would have had the experience of facing these problems and overcoming them. They would be able to guide and liaise with members of their own race far better than the fully qualified social worker could. 1 am not knocking fully qualified social workers but I believe that what is sorely needed is Aborigines who have this common communication and who can speak with their own people and assist them to do better in the fields for which the Government is providing finance.
I have tried to talk about this subject at many levels. I have spoken about it at State Government level and I have spoken about it to my colleagues but so far no one appears to have taken a great deal of notice. However, I believe that this is very important. It is perhaps one of the solutions to the problems we are facing at this time. We can legislate for many things but we cannot legislate for human attitudes. Despite all the finance that one likes to pour into solving these problems, unless people are able to take advantage of the opportunities made available to them the opportunities are to no avail. That is one of the aspects that I would like the Government to look at more closely and to do something about.
I do not want to talk at great length on this Bill. I support it because it is a step in the right direction and will be of great assistance to members of my race in finally taking their place in the community as respected and responsible citizens. I believe, as I said earlier, that there is need for more to be done but I am very happy that something is being done at this time. I will be talking about these matters as I move among my Aboriginal friends in my own State. I hope that I will have the opportunity to move in other States also and to speak to members of my race about the opportunities now being made available to them. I wholeheartedly support the Bill.
– In a few moments the Opposition will be circulating an amendment to the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I want to take this opportunity to answer, first of all, some of the statements made by Senator Bonner. I was disappointed when 1 heard him say that he unequivocally supported the Bill. He referred to the big changes in it but that is not factual. There have been no big changes since the referendum, carried overwhelmingly in this country, for black people to be recognised purely as people. Until that time, of course, they were not even recognised as people. The honourable senator uttered a note of warning and said that we ought to be careful in what we do because there is a backlash. Frankly, the general tenor of this Government’s activities in all of the underprivileged fields creates the very areas in which a backlash can take place.
– Are you in a position to circulate the amendment now so that we can look at it?
– ‘lt will be circulated in about half a second. 1 will not speak about the amendment until it is circulated. The general attitudes of this Government have created the conditions in which the underprivileged groups in the community suffer needlessly. That applies to poor whites as well as to poor blacks, except that the black people are more underprivileged than most because of 200 years of suppression. Various social surveys have indicated that there, are up to 1 million people in this country living below subsistence level.
The other major point made by Senator Bonner during his speech was that he would like to see black people employed in the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. Both of us represent Queensland in this chamber, and in that State the Department clearly is inconsistent in this regard. There are so few black people employed in the Department that one can count them on the lingers of 2 hands. A far different pattern is being set by the governments of South Australia and Western Australia. In the latter State, in particular, a very large percentage of black people is employed at various levels. I agree with Senator Bonner that Aborigines do not necessarily need academic qualifications. There is a disadvantage in this respect because so few Aborigines and Islanders have had the opportunity to obtain academic training. But many of them, in their own cultures, in their own languages, in their own tribal laws, are the equivalent of an academic in the field as we know it. Obviously there are great opportunities for employing black people in the Department in Queensland, as there are in every other State.
In Queensland - I will make most of my references to that State - we have a population of something like 60,000 Aborigines and Islanders, some 30,000 of whom are still living under what is popularly or unpopularly known as the Dog Collar Act. In other words, there are 30,000 people in Queensland who do not have full freedom. I was hoping that in the course of his speech the honourable senator would refer to some of the trouble spots in this country. I refer in particular to reserves in Queensland, places like Palm Island, Doomadgee and others; to the near poverty that can exist on some of them and to the difficulties of people who are the fringe dwellers in that State and in other States of Australia. I was hoping that he would refer also to the malnutrition and disease that are rampant in many areas because of the lack of proper diet and proper housing. I was hoping that he would refer to the great trouble spot that we have in the Northern Territory where the Aboriginal people, after years of maladministration under the Department of the Interior, are not much further advanced now than they were 30 years ago.
Let me come back to the terms of the Bill and to the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). The Minister referred in detail to the moneys that were to be spent. He said:
The Bill provides for grants to the States totalling$14.5m in 1972-73. Hence it concerns only slightly more than one-quarter of the total provision for direct Commonwealth expenditure on Aboriginal advancement for the year.
To illustrate the substantial provisions made by the Commonwealth since the 1967 referendum the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) prepared a table which he subsequently had incorporated in Hansard. It is significant that the Minister, when making his statement to the Parliament, covered those things which were most favourable politically. Since then he has indulged in bits and pieces. In some quarters he is rather irreverently referred to as the Minister for bits and pieces. He has made statements in bits and pieces saying how much would be given to the National Institute of Dramatic Art; how much would be given to the Australian Ballet School; what the Government proposed to put into housing; how much was to be spent on health research and how much was going into various other aspects of Aboriginal advancement. It was significant that the Minister kept up this flow of bits and pieces from the day that the Budget was introduced until the last day or so. He is hoping to get political advantage out of it.
I make further reference to some of the things that black people want for themselves. I am sorry that Senator Bonner has left the chamber. Obviously these things must pain him. The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders met at Alice Springs from 1st April to 3rd April this year and passed a series of resolutions. Let me refer to 2 or 3 of them. This is what the Aboriginal people say they want, not what the Government wants to give them and not what Senator Bonner wants to give them. These are the words of the Aborigines as they appear in the resolution-
– Do you know whether this was a closed meeting?
– This is available for public consumption. If the honourable senator would like a photostat copy, I will see. that it is handed to him with an embossed letterhead.
– Was the meeting closed or public?
– It was not closed. It was a public meeting open to any person that they thought fit to allow into it. I doubt whether the honourable senator would have made the grade. The resolution reads:
I think that he has since been kicked upstairs. The resolution further states:
That constitutes 4 of the requests of the all black session of FCAATSI. I have several pages here asking for a whole number of other things. They go right across the board covering such matters as land rights through to education, housing and schooling. We can understand the attitude of Senator Webster when he interjected a moment ago because he expresses the Country Party policy on Aborigines. It is stated in the ‘Australian Heritage’. I will read the lot because I am not sure where Aborigines are included:
The growth and development of Australia as a nation are basic to the policies of the Australian Country Party. It seeks to advance the Australian culture which has evolved on the goldfields, on the farms, in the towns and on overseas battlefields. It seeks an awareness within Australia of the nation’s progress. It aims to maintain the pioneering traditions of comradeship, courage and personal integrity.
The following items of Country Parly policy arc then stated:
Is not that fantastic? One line constitutes the whole of the Country Party’s policy towards the Aborigines of this country. Let me repeat it:
The preservation of the arts and culture of the Australian aborigine.
My friend, Senator Little, was credited as saying publicly some time ago that the only thing he could see worth preserving of the Australian Aborigine was some of his bark paintings. He is pretty close to Country Party policy. Let us look at the other side of the board.
– The honourable senator knows how untrue that is, doesn’t he?
– It was said publicly. I have not heard the honourable senator deny it. So I suppose that as it is in the policy of the Country Party it is probably consistent with the honourable senator’s attitude.
– If the honourable senator adopts the attitude that he wants to fight everybody about these things instead of pulling together, he will draw that conclusion, of course.
– What does the honourable senator want me to do?
– 1 think that we would do more for the Aborigines if we got together, thought about the matter and worked together, not fought with one another.
– That is very good. It is a pity that the honourable senator has not come into the Senate and decided to do something for the Aborigines of Australia. He has voted consistently against all of the amendments and motions moved by the Australian Labor Party, starting with those in relation to land rights and working up through all the others. It is not much use for the honourable senator to adopt a holier than thou attitude now and say that we ought to get together. It would be a jolly good idea. We will see how consistent he is when this debate is finished and the amendment is voted on for the record. We will see him scuttling across the chamber like a rabbit with myxomatosis to make sure that he votes with the Government parties.
The Australian Labor Party suggests that the Office of Aboriginal Affairs be upgraded to ministerial level and that the Commonwealth assume the ultimate responsibility for Aborigines and Islanders accorded it by the referendum of 1967. Labor will evolve ways regularly to consult representatives of the Aboriginal and Island people as to their wishes when policies are being developed and legislation prepared. Aborigines will have equal rights and opportunities with alf other Australians, and every form of discrimination against Aborigines will be ended. Aborigines will receive the standard rate of wages for the job. etc. We can see spreading out in more detail the policy of my Party in regard to Aborigines and Islanders.
Let me return again to the position in Queensland. I have here copies of the 2 amended Acts that were introduced earlier this year. Of course, one of the strange things is that under the 1965 Act all Aborigines and Islanders subject to it were treated in a less than human way. So the Premier of the day decided that it would be the policy of his Party and his. coalition Government to introduce amendments to the Act. Instead of one Act, we now have 2 Acts. There is a very strange set of coincidences behind this. Because Islanders and Aborigines are of different ethnic origin there is always a tendency to look at many subjects not quite eye to eye. So the powers responsible in the Queensland Government decided that they would make this division greater by creating 2 Acts, the Torres Strait Islanders Act 1971 and the Aborigines Act 1971. This increased the division between the 2 groups of people. The position is even stranger because in April 1.971 the regulations to the Act were to be introduced. We have not seen the regulations to date. It was said that they would make life easier for many Aborigines and Islanders. The date today is 24th October 1972 and these 2 Acts have not yet been promulgated. I wonder why there is this strange holding off? If these Acts are intended to give black people more power to run their own affairs, they ought to have been introduced as law a long time ago.
Honourable senators opposite will recall that I have asked questions about the implementation of the 1965 Act which is still the law. I pose these questions to the Minister: When fines are inflicted under the by-laws and regulations of the Queensland Act, what happens to the money? Does this go into consolidated revenue? Perhaps the Minister might see fit to answer these questions when he rises to reply at the end of this debate. What happens to money collected on these reserves for the sale of artifacts? What happens to money collected for the rental of the substandard homes that the people occupy? How often is income tax money forwarded to the proper income tax authorities? I can recall one occasion a few years ago when people complained that they were paying their tax out of the lousy $15 or $16 thai they received. They were receiving no documentation to show that that money had gone to the Commissioner of Taxation. When a complaint was lodged in relation to one specific reserve, a number of people suddently started to receive a return in regard to the income tax that they had paid. Why are people on this low wage not exempt from the provisions of the Income Tax Act?
If Senator Bonner is happy about the administration of Aboriginal matters in Queensland, I am not. Neither are the other 59,999 Aborigines and Islanders. Possibly he can be excluded. I have here a letter written by Mr Joe McGinness, President of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. I will read portion of it because it signifies precisely what is still happening under the dog collar Act in Queensland in regard to Aborigines. It is addressed to the Police Minister, the Hon. A. M. Hodges, MLA, Brisbane. It reads:
I wish to bring to your notice the allegations against some police officers’ action and attitudes towards Aborigines who happen to be resident of the different areas around the districts adjacent to Cairns.
Reports reaching us from centres from time to time is the cause for concern and the decision to write you was, that you in your capacity as Minister, would order an inquiry into these allegations and if proved correct, you in your wisdom, will be able to exercise disciplinary measures against those members of the police force who are administering the law against Aborigines incorrectly.
Honourable senators will note that Mr McGinness does not refer to all members of the police force. Only a minority exercises these powers incorrectly. I say that advisedly. Mr McGinness continues:
The reports on several occasions have indicated that there seems to be excessive use of the baton when arrests are carried out against Aborigines, and one particular case which will be mentioned here, there are allegations of a fire-arm being discharged. If this allegation is proved correct the incident could only be described as scandalous, and this would be putting it mildly. However, if the same procedure of carrying out the law was used when it is applied to other than our
Aborigines, I am afraid there would be a much greater public outcry. While it is true special legislation does exist which is applied to Aborigines and Islanders only in this State, this does not give sufficient reason for police officers when administering the common laws of the State, to act differently when its application is considered necessary against Aborigines and Islanders.
Perhaps, to develop our argument further we would suggest you consult files of your Department which deals with ex-officers of your department, who have been charged and found guilty of crimes against Aborigines in recent years. The exofficers who were involved in these unfortunate incidents were Sweetnam, Eagan and Mead.
I enclose a report which appeared in our local paper and after making some inquiries I have been given a variety, of versions of the happenings which took place at this particular incident at Kuranda. I believe the actual lead up to the confrontation of hippies and Aborigines in the reported incident was something that had occurred days previous between an Aborigine and a couple of hippies, but allegations are that the law had not been enforced correctly which created disharmony between the hippies and Aborigines of Kuranda, which resulted in the reported incident.
The main concern of this organisation is that while we are working towards Aboriginal advancement, we are endeavouring to build a better understanding of our people among nonAborigines in order to improve present existing race relations where our cultural differences seem to make it difficult for non-Aborigines people to understand.
Another incident I wish to bring to your notice and also ask that this be investigated, is the practice of some police officers making arrests of Aborigines who have been drinking liquor and charged with drunkenness. On Saturday 12th August, I received a phone call from a Mrs Getawan that her husband had been arrested, she claimed that he was not drunk at the time. The time of receipt of the phone call was about 11.30 p.m. I advised Mrs Getawan to apply for bail for her husband as they were only visiting Gordonvale for the evening and intended to return to their place of residence and employment south of that centre. I received another phone call later from Mrs Getawan’s brother to say that on making application for bail and the release of Getawan, which was refused, he noticed that there was a number of other Aborigines in the lockup and the number mentioned was rather staggering. From the Gordonvale incident I am ready to register a complaint regarding the attitude of some police officers towards Aborigines which concern indiscriminate arrests against those who have been drinking liquor, but not necessarily, drunk, but none the less, arrested and charged. In many cases those arrested forfeit bail. This situation appears to have developed in Gordonvale and has been hinted through discussions with others concerning this practice. It was pointed out that while police officers acted in this way it could be a means of quick promotion for them and also a means of easy revenue for the coffers of the Gov ernment Treasury while the Aboriginal victims have no other alternative than to forfeit their bail money.
Within the last 12 months other cases have been reported which has added to our concern and we are of the opinion that these could be investigated also after consulting files of the district where these cases have occurred.
Paul Bond of Normanton was arrested late 1971 or early 1972 and through his arrest suffered an injury which resulted in him having to be transported to Cairns for medical attention where he lost an eye.
At Croydon during late April, Raymond Douglas was summoned to appear for alleged obscene language after incidents on the Aboriginal Reserve in the early hours of the morning.
– Are. you for or against the Aborigines when you raise every petty crime? Do you realise the damage that you are doing by citing these cases?
– Will you shut up? You sound like a brolga
– I do not want to have to listen to a crime record of little things that Aborigines have done over the years. That is not helping them.
– Race out to Kings Hall. That will not worry me.
– I rise on a point of order. The motion is that there be a second reading of a Bill, which is a short Bill, to provide money for the States for the advancement of Aborigines. I understand that an amendment is to be moved in due course. Even considering the terms of the proposed amendment which has been circulated, I submit that Senator Keeffe’s speech is still irrelevant. He has been reading to us for the, last 10 minutes accusations made by a person about alleged crimes. With all respect, that is not relevant either to the proposed amendment or to the Bill. I would submit that unless Senator Keeffe wishes to waste time the proceedings of the Senate would be helped if he returned to the Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I have considered the point of order. I would advise Senator Keeffe to address his remarks more closely to the purpose of the Bill.
– To assist the Minister I shall now move, the amendment. Perhaps he will more readily understand that I am being consistent with the terms of the
Bill and that in particular I am making remarks that are completely consistent with the terms of the amendment. I move:
I inform the Minister and my garrulous friend on my left. Senator Little, that the reference 1 was making was from a document prepared by Mr Joseph McGinness, the President of the Federal Council for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders - a man of standing in the black community and a man of standing in the Australian community. I propose to quote the last 2 charges which he has made and which ought to be corrected. So that we do not get my speech out of context, let us understand that the grants being made to the States are for the protection and development of Aborigines and for the easing of their many social problems. Therefore what I was saying was not irrelevant under the circumstances. Mr McGinness continued:
The incident was the result of the local police officer’s disregard of personal privacy of the Aboriginal residents of the reserve. The disregard of personal privacy seems to be an accepted thing by those in authority, when it concerns Aborigines in this State and because of the existing legislation mentioned earlier. The argument to maintain this practice is that while Aborigines are resident on reserves, they are occupants of Government houses and this gives every public servant the right of entry without the occupants consent. In the alleged Croydon incident, doors of houses were forced open, refrigerators were opened and contents examined, which is common practice by those in authority. Allegations are that the local pub barman who goes by the name of . . .
I will not quote his name - was equipped with a baton, no doubt to quell any riotious behaviour of the Aborigines, which never developed, but this sort of action, helped to provoke the Aborigines into being vocal and show some sort of resentment against such action.
– I rise on a point of order. A decision was given by you, Mr Deputy President. I submit that if there is to be continued reference to these matters, which, with all respect, are not relevant and which you have ruled to be not relevant, the honourable senator should be brought to order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I have not ruled that the remarks of Senator Keeffe are not relevant. I have asked him to relate his remarks to the terms of the Bill which I understand concern the welfare and advancement of the Aboriginal people. If Senator Keeffe continues to relate his points to those purposes he will be in order.
– Thank you for your very fair ruling. Mr Deputy President. 1 trust that the Minister will be able to absorb a little more of what I am saying and perhaps understand more clearly the point I am endeavouring to make. I conclude the quotation with this paragraph:
Further allegations are that while making the arrests a firearm was produced and discharged by one of the police officers.
The Minister will be delighted to know that as far as I am concerned that disposes of the document made available to me by a very distinguished member of the black community in this country. He is asking for justice. He is merely asking for the same rights as any other Australian has. The grants that are being made by the Commonwealth are made to the States and I am saying that, so far as Queensland is concerned, some tags ought to be put on the money because it might be worth investigating how some of it is spent.
I refer now to land rights. We have had many arguments in this chamber in relation to land rights for Aborigines and Islanders. For year after year we are getting no further ahead. Only a change of government on 2nd December will bring justice to this group of people. As far back as 3 or 4 years ago, I raised the problem of the shortage of land on Thursday Island on Which to build homes for local residents. A year or so ago the Minister for Defence decided to release 60 acres of land for house building purposes. Other land which has been released in this area in past years has gone to the highest bidder. It has gone to the greedy landlords who build hens coops and outhouses and then rent them for up to $15 or $20 a week. They are charging this rent for shacks and huts. At that time I specifically asked that most of this land be set aside for the construction of homes for Islanders. You would be amazed, Mr Deputy President, to know that to date - a year after it was released by the Department of Defence - that land is still in the process of going to the Queensland Government so that it can then be subdivided and made available for homes.
Another major problem that we have had - I have mentioned it in this House twice this year and received no favourable reply - relates to the large number of Torres Strait Islanders who fought in a local unit and in other units during World War II and who should have been entitled to war service homes and other repatriation benefits. I have in my possession 2 pieces of correspondence forwarded to me in recent weeks by the Minister for Housing, the Hon. K. )A. Cairns, and by the Minister for Repatriation, the Hon. R. M. Holten, both indicating that certain amendments would be made to the Repatriation Act and the War Service Homes Act respectively, and both indicating that this will not happen in the life of this Parliament. This means that it will not happen in the life of this Government. If a similar group of white people was involved this sort of delay would not be tolerated. It would not be tolerated at government level for a start, and it certainly would not be tolerated at the level of the local people. A long time ago the Gurindjis went on strike and established a settlement in the Wattie Creek area as their form of protest against industrial conditions, health conditions, and the refusal of this Government to recognise the value of their case for land rights. Less than a month ago I read in this chamber a telegram indicating that the Vestey brothers were prepared, well back in this year, to give an area of land to the Gurindjis. The ‘Courier Mail’ of 22nd August carried the 3-column headline: ‘Howson Denies Aboriginal Land Offer Claim’. The article which follows reads:
The Aboriginals Minister (Mr Howson) denied last night that the British Vestey Company had offered 500 to 1,000 square miles of its Australian holdings for use by Aboriginals.
This article appeared on the day after Professor Colin Tatz said that the offer was made to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) about a year ago. The newspaper article continues:
Professor Tatz said that shortly after the announcement, Vesteys had sent a telegram to the Federal Government on the land to the Gurindji tribe.
He said there had been no official recognition from the Federal Government of the offer.
As far as I know there has been no discussion of the offer in Parliament’, he said.
It was thought that the Minister would comment at that time. He actually told a fib. I know it is unparliamentary to say he told a lie, but he told a fib and said that the offer had never been made. But the speculation at the time was that Mr Howson would not comment further on the report because it was understood that the Government was embarrassed that the matter should have been revealed at that stage. It was thought that it wished to reveal successful negotiations with Vesteys over property for the Gurindjis as part of the forthcoming federal election campaign. Who is playing politics over Aborigines? No-one less than the Minister and the Cabinet. A few weeks later, on Friday, 13 th October, a report appeared in the ‘Australian’. I have no official information on this but I assume that this is the correct information. The report states:
The Federal Government has accepted an offer by Lord Vestey to return to the Government 35 square miles of leasehold land on Wave Hill Station, in the Northern Territory.
Again the Government was playing politics. But the Prime Minister had let go the daddy of all Press statements on 12th October which reads:
Following discussions I have had today with Lord Vestey the Government has accepted with pleasure the offer by Lord Vestey to give some 35 square miles of land - - lt then gives the area in acres for those who cannot work it out - (22,400 acres) from the Vestey lease of Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory. The offer by Lord Vestey has been taken up in the context of the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Gibb Committee that a policy be adopted to enable community living areas for Aborgines to be established on pastoral properties and under the control of the Aborigines themselves. In accordance with this policy the area of Crown land in which the Government-
– 1 rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President, and again my point of order relates to relevance. This is a Bill to provide assistance to the States for the States to promote the welfare and advancement of Aborigines. For 5 minutes now we have been hearing again allegations about Wave Hill and about Vesteys and matters connected with the Northern Territory which are completely removed from the scope of this Bill and the amendment that has been moved. I can only say that if the rumours we hear are right - that the Opposition just wants to play out time this week - Senator Keeffe is substantiating them by doing just that. But, with respect, he should not do it in defiance of the Standing Orders of this place.
– I have heard the 3 points of order taken by Senator Greenwood since I came into the chamber, and I think this is the weakest one of all. The question of land on Wave Hill Station seems to me to have direct relevance to the whole question of land rights. The Minister talked about relevance and then referred to a rumour that we are trying to hold things up. Let me assure him that we will be as glad as he to get out of this place.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! On the point of order raised by Senator Greenwood. Senator Keeffe has moved an amendment to the Bill. The terms of the amendment are very wide and cover a great area, including the matter of land rights. Whether it is possible under the terms of the Bill to restrict the discussion to land rights in relation to areas other than those controlled by the Commonwealth, seems to me to be a doubtful proposition. I cannot uphold the point of order.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy President. Again I must take the Minister to task because land rights is one of the greatest problems facing the Aborigines in this country today. I refer to the famous statement made by the Prime Minister on 26th January 1972 in which he said: ‘We will give you land rights’.
– That was Australia Day.
– That is right; the day on which the Aboriginal embassy was established on the lawns in front of this Parliament. The Government said: ‘We will give you land rights. You can have 50-year leases at a certain cost with ifs and buts attached’. But that is not what the Aborigines want. It is like so many of the major grants. I hold the Minister entirely responsible for many of the hold-ups in grants being made for Aborigines.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Deputy President, 1 understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) wishes to introduce some Bills at this stage, therefore I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later hour this day.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Dill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(8.1) - I move:
I ask leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - ls there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The purpose of the Bill is to implement further the Government’s continuing policy of providing planned assistance in the areas of greatest social need, lt is directed to the needs of the chronically ill in nursing homes and to those people who are looking after aged chronically ill relatives in their private homes who otherwise would need to be admitted to a nursing home. The Bill implements measures contained in the Budget for the provision of further Commonwealth benefits for pensioners in nursing homes and for the provision of a new fund benefit for patients in nursing homes who contribute to a hospital benefits fund. It also introduces the new measure foreshadowed in the Budget to provide a domiciliary nursing care benefit for approved persons who provide professional nursing and other care for elderly relatives living with them.
The development of these measures was described in some detail in a statement I made in the Senate on 16th August last and also in a statement which Dr Forbes made to the House of Representatives on 29th August. There is no need therefore to traverse these areas again. Suffice it to say that the Government regards the introduction of these new measures as a milestone in the development and extension of public responsibility at the Commonwealth level, for the chronically ill, especially those whose financial circumstances are such that the cost burden of their nursing care is often equal to or even greater than their whole income, the excess being met in the main by relatives.
The scheme of new nursing home benefits is based on the fact that approximately 80 per cent of patients in nursing homes throughout Australia are pensioners enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service, nearly 40,000 people. These patients could reasonably be expected to contribute towards their maintenance three-quarters of the sum of the single rate of pension plus supplementary Social Services allowance. This means that the patient’s contribution would, on present rates of pension, be $18 per week, leaving $6 per week for personal needs.
The new Commonwealth benefit and the new fund benefit payable to contributors are fixed at a level designed to bridge the gap between the nursing home fees and the sum of the patient’s contribution and the present Commonwealth benefits. These benefits are $3.50 per day in respect of ordinary care nursing home patients and $6.50 per day in respect of intensive nursing care patients. It is not intended, however, that the new benefit should bridge the gap regardless of fees charged by the nursing home. To this end therefore the Bill provides 3 controls: Firstly, the scale of maximum new benefits necessary to bridge the gap I have referred to is based on a notional nursing home fee which has been fixed, after survey, to include approximately 70 per cent of all nursing home bed charges in each State; secondly, the levels of fees charged by each nursing home are to be determined as a condition of registration and are not to be varied without prior approval; and thirdly - fees are not be be supplemented by charges for extras which properly should be included in the basic fee.
The Government recognises that the new Commonwealth benefit .and fund benefit will lead to pressure by many nursing homes for approval to charge fees at levels higher than those applying at 30th June last and accepts that there will in the future be genuine cost factors to support increases. The Bill therefore contains provisions allowing review of fees from time to time, and provides a right of appeal to the Minister against Departmental decisions on levels of fees. Before making his decision the Minister will receive a report from a Nursing Homes Fees Review Committee of Inquiry which is to be established in each State.
It is recognised too that the measure may tend to encourage more people to seek admission to nursing homes and this may not always be in the best social and medical interest of the patient. The Bill provides therefore for an admissions policy under which nursing home proprietors are obliged, as a condition of the approval of the nursing home, not to admit new patients without the prior approval of the Department. It is intended, however, that the primary basis of admission should continue to be the certificate as to the patient’s medical condition by the patient’s own doctor. The certificate will need to be supplemented by the endorsement of a medical practitioner employed in the Department of Health. Where necesary, there will be a process of consultation with the patient’s own doctor.
The Bill further provides that, in circumstances where it is not practicable to obtain prior approval for admission, approval may be given subsequently. It is intended too that a patient should be in need of a reasonable amount of nursing care to warrant admission to an approved nursing home, and experience has shown that this has most effect when supported as necessary by other professional services.
In order that the measure will nol also possibly have the effect of stimulating undesirable growth of nursing homes, the Bill gives the Department authority to refuse approval, for the purposes of Commonwealth and fund benefits, to new nursing homes, or to the expansion of existing homes. New nursing homes will, however, not be refused approval on these grounds if persons intending to build a new nursing home, or to acquire existing premises for conversion to a nursing home, seek and receive Departmental approval in advance. The rate of development of nursing homes is, of course, primarily a State matter and the Government intends that there will be close consultation between the States and the Commonwealth at the official level on the matter of approvals of new nursing homes. Other conditions, for the purpose of ensuring that the needs of patients are satisfactorily provided for, may also be imposed. It is not intended that State nursing homes should be subject to the various conditions referred to.
The Bill provides that the nursing homes scheme is to come into effect on a date to be proclaimed - current intentions are lo proclaim 1st January 1973 - and that all current approvals of nursing homes cease to have effect as at that date but will be replaced by new approvals which shall be subject to the conditions referred to. The new approvals will specify the number of beds and the levels of fees approved, and any other conditions attaching to the approvals. No new patients are to be admitted without prior approval. However, a person refused admission to a nursing home by the Department has a right of appeal to the Minister. A breach of conditions could result in revocation of approval and proprietors also have the right of appeal to the Minister in relation to the conditions applicable to the approval or in the event of revocation. A new Commonwealth benefit is payable in respect of P.M.S. pensioners to proprietors of approved nursing homes at the following rates:
Where approved daily fees are less than the total of present and new Commonwealth benefits plus the patient’s contribution (S 1 8 per week or $2.55 per day), the new Commonwealth benefit is reduced accordingly. For example, if the approved gross fee for a pensioner patient in a particular New South Wales nursing home were $74 per week for an intensive care patient then the patient would contribute $18 and the Commonwealth $56. The Commonwealth benefit comprises the present intensive care benefit of $45.50 per week and the maximum additional benefit of $10.50 per week. If, however, the gross fee were $69 per week the additional Commonwealth benefit would be $5.50 instead of $10.50 per week.
Proprietors of nursing homes are to be required to keep such records as are necessary to ensure that the conditions of the approvals are being observed. Registered hospital benefits organisations are to provide a nursing home fund benefit for contributions to a hospital benefit fund on a similar basis lo and at the same rates as the new Commonwealth benefit for P.M.S. pensioners. Patients who are not P.M.S. pensioners at the commencement of the scheme may become contributors without being subject to the normal waiting period provided that they join a hospital benefits fund within two months.
Claims for the new nursing home fund benefit are not to operate to allow the organisations to transfer the contributors to the special account - the debit balance of which is met annually by the Commonwealth - but such a claim may be debited to the special account if the patient has been transferred to that account for other reasons. Patients ceasing to be pensioners and becoming contributors to a hospital benefits fund within two months, shall, as is now the case with hospital benefits, be eligible for nursing home fund benefits, without being subject to the fund rules concerning a waiting period. The new nursing home fund benefits are to apply to persons eligible for benefits under the Subsidised Health Benefits Scheme, that is, unemployment and sickness beneficiaries, low-income families and migrants within two months of arrival in Australia.
The provisions concerning re-approval, and the application of conditions in respect of admissions, levels of fees and development of new or enlarged nursing homes, do not apply to prescribed nursing homes conducted by or on behalf of a State, and, where a non-State home, having regard to the type of patients and their circumstances, charges less than what would be an appropriate fee for the services provided, the home may be exempted from the provisions which might otherwise reduce the amount of the new Commonwealth or fund nursing home benefit payable.
I can assure honourable senators that, in the administration of the admissions policy, no patient in a nursing home at the commencement of the scheme will be obliged to leave because of the criteria to be applied in respect of new admissions. Nor will any new prospective patient be refused admission without prior consultation between medical officers of the Department and the patient’s own doctor. The sole criterion applying to admissions is to be the well-being of the patient. Under the law approval must be given to the admission of a patient if the patient’s medical condition needs such nursing care as warrants his admission, unless, having regard to all the circumstances, the needs of the patient would be adequately and more suitably provided for in another institution and such other accommodation is available. Alternatively, if a patient w!:o is over 65 years of age needs such nursing care as would warrant his admission to a nursing home, but it can be provided in the private home of a relative, then the relative may receive the new domiciliary nursing care benefit of $14 a week.
It cannot be doubted that in a number of cases of the admission of elderly patients to nursing homes it would be of social and medical advantage to *.hem if they could remain in the environment of the private home with relatives able to look after them provided the professional nursing care needed is available. In many of such cases, however, financial considerations make this impracticable and the new benefit is designed to overcome the dilemma which faces relatives of patients in these circumstances. Accordingly the Bill provides that a person may apply to be an approved person for the purposes of the domiciliary nursing care benefit, where he cares for a relative in the private home which is the residence of the applicant and the patient. The patient must be over the age of 65 years and. on the certificate of a doctor and nurse, must have a continuing need for nursing care, and is receiving that care. ‘Relative’ includes a husband or wife (including a bona fide de facto relationship), a parent or grandparent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle, and step- and fosterrelationships are included. In special circumstances other persons may be approved as if such a relationship existed. Approval will be given if the criteria are met. and if the patient’s medical condition is such that he could be admitted to a nursing home. The benefit may be payable in respect of two patients looked after by the one person.
It is intended that the domiciliary nursing horns scheme is to commence on 1st March 1973. The introduction of *he new nursing homes scheme, together with the new domiciliary nursing care benefit, is a further step forward in the development of Commonwealth responsibility in the geriatrics area which will prove equally as significant as the introduction in 1962 of the original nursing home benefits scheme which provides Commonwealth benefits for patients in approved nursing homes. That benefit continues, but in addition ‘he Commonwealth, in respect of PMS pensioners, and the registered hospital benefits organisations in respect of patients insured for hospital benefits, will bridge the gap between nursing home charges and a reasonable contribution by patients towards their accommodation. The extent, however, to which the scheme will be successful, depends on the effectiveness of the fees and admissions policies in the legislation and the degree of co-operation from the nursing home proprietors in the operation of the scheme. I have no doubt that that co-operation will be readily given.
The cost to the Commonwealth of the new benefit for PMS pensioners in nursing homes is estimated at $9. 1m for the current year and S21.9m for a full year. The cost of the domiciliary nursing care benefit is estimated at S4m for the current year and Si 4.5m for a full year. The cost to registered hospital benefits oganisations of the new nursing home fund benefit is to be met. at least for a time, from the reserves of the organisations, but at a later stage consideration will be given, when the level of hospital benefits contributions is under review, to including an element for the payment of nursing home fund benefits. The estimated cost to the organisations for 1972-73 is S2.2m and $5.4m for a full year.
Other matters dealt with in the Bill include, firstly, sub-section (2) of section 19 is amended to include the new Wo .len Valley Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory, part of which is expected to open early in 1973, as a public hospital for the purposes of medical benefits, and lo change the name of the Canberra Community Hospital by removing the word ‘Community’ to accord with Australian Capital Territory legislation. Secondly. 5 sots of regulations promulgated since October 1971 are repealed and the provisions of those regulations incorporated in the schedules to the National Health Act. The regulations known as Nat’ ‘nal Health (Variation of Benefits) (Nos 3 to 7) Regulations provided for variations in the scope of the medical services in respect of which medical benefits are payable and variations in the rates of Commonwealth and fund medical benefits payable in respect of the scheduled medical services. The regulations are being incorporated in the Act because the Act provides that whilst the schedules may be varied by regulations such regula tions cease to have effect upon the expiration of 15 sitting days of the House of Representatives after the anniversary of the gazettal of the regulations. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
I ask leave for the second reading speech to be incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - On 19th September, I made a statement to the Senate in the same terms as a statement in the other place by the Prime Minister announcing that the Government proposed to take new initiatives to work with the States towards urban and regional development objectives. I said that the Government had decided that it will take immediate steps financially and in other ways in a co-ordinated programme with the State governments. The introduction of this Bill fulfils the commitment then given to introduce interim legislation into Parliament this session. Although the legislation is interim, the new authority set up by the Bill will nevertheless be required to operate with vigour and in accord with its charter from the outset. In a vast country which is developing as rapidly as Australia, it is most important that the Government take responsible action which will influence the distribution of population and economic activity to the economic and social advantage of the nation.
The stresses and strains of growth are having an impact on the living conditions and the environment of the entire Australian community. These pressures which are being felt in many countries, present issues of national moment warranting cooperative action between the Commonwealth and the states. We have the experience of the United Kingdom, France and Canada amongst others to draw on. The Government believes that unless we embark on a vigorous, imaginative and responsible programme of urban and regional development, in partnership with the States, our efforts to secure a better quality of life for the Australian community through a wide variety of existing programmes will be compromised. The consequences of the imbalance caused by the concentration of population and employment around the principal Australian cities with the resulting problems of congestion and pollution are such that action must now be taken. The trend to increasing concentration is already evident to a degree which is causing concern. If no action is taken, the problem will become more acute as our population grows from 13 million to possibly 22 million over the balance of the century. The increasing concentration of population in our great cities will magnify the consequences of increasing population growth. It is the geographical distribution of population and industry rather than total scale which calls for our attention.
We believe it is widely accepted that these are national problems requiring urgent attention, and that the Commonealth should participate with the states in solving them. We believe too that a properly conceived and well managed programme of urban and regional development will be approved and welcomed by the community generally. It is clear that the Commonwealth and States must work together. It is also clear that there will be a need for additional expenditure and the Commonwealth stands ready to contribute its share. As importantly, we will shape our own policies and programmes where appropriate so as to ensure that urban and regional implications are fully taken into account. The implementation of a successful national programme of urban and regional development could mark a turning point in the social and economic life of this country.
Our efforts must be successful. Therefore, they must be properly conceived. The Commonwealth-State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation which conducted its researches in the Australian context concluded that the only type of decentralisation which offers significant prospects of success is selective decentralisation. As stated on 19th September, the Commonwealth endorses this conclusion and favours the development of a small number of carefully selected centres, having regard to factors likely to be favourable to their growth. Later on, with the benefit of more experience and the availability of more resources, it can be expected that additional centres will be selected for accelerated growth. We will want to identify and encourage the balanced growth of sub-metropolitan centres as an alternative to growth in the existing city areas.
In co-operation with the States, we will look for those sub-metropolitan centres that offer the greatest potential for rapid development. These will be centres near to but distinct from the existing major cities. It is our view that the development of regional growth centres and submetropolitan centres - projects capable of being defined, programmed and financed - offers the most direct and beneficial means of immediate Commonwealth involvement. As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has emphasised, however, the action to be taken must be taken in consultation and partnership with the States. Our early discussions with the States will have as their first objective the fullest understanding of the nature of the problems to be overcome. We will be seeking to establish how best the combined resources of the Commonwealth and State governments can be marshalled to tackle these in an economic way and in the interests of the nation as a whole.
As was stated on 19th September, it will be necessary to guard against the cost of development of selected centres being inflated by increases in land values directly attributable to the policy initiatives of the Slates and the Commonwealth. This Bill is the first step towards implementation of a new Commonwealth initiative. It is. however, designed to establish the national urban and regional development authority on a proper and sound basis and to enable it to commence its work immediately. The nature of any later legislation will, of course, be determined in the light of experience. Nevertheless, the name given to the authority clearly indicates the Government’s longer term interest. We are concerned with national objectives in urban and regional development and we are concerned with development itself. Ours is a practical approach and the concept of a statutory authority and of the title chosen for it reflects our practical aims.
It is proposed that the authority be constituted by a commissioner. The Prime Minister announced that with the passage of the legislation, the Government proposes to invite Sir John Overall to serve as the first commissioner and to guide the new organisation in its initial establishment period. The Government is fortunate in having a person as experienced and so able as Sir John to call on until his retirement in July next year. The Bill also provides for the commissioner to be assisted by a deputy commissioner. The appointment of statutory office holders will be effected as soon as possible after the Bill is passed. The duties of the authority are stated in clause 12. It will be required to investigate and report to the Prime Minister on matters relating to urban or regional development. This investigation and advice would be designed to assist the Government in making decisions having urban and regional implications. It will also be designed to assist the government in its consideration of the grant of financial assistance to a state in connection with urban or regional development.
Such matters as the selection of centres for the promotion of rapid growth, the particular steps by which this might be encouraged, practical arrangements for rapid development, and financial questions including the scale of Commonwealth support, are relevant to the establishment of a co-ordinated programme. Advice would be available to the Government from the authority on the terms and conditions on which financial assistance for urban and regional development might be granted by Parliament. The Bill provides for the authority to have power to do all things that are necessary or convenient for the performance of its functions. It may undertake pilot or experimental projects, studies, including feasibility studies. It may enter into consultative engagements with professional groups and government agencies, and provide information and advice to other authorities.
Provision is made in the Bill for the authority to comply with any directions given by the Prime Minister with respect to matters to be investigated by the authority. This clause will ensure, for example, that decisions reached by the ministerial council, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Premiers, which was referred in the statement on 19th September, are followed through in the operations of the authority. In addition to the normal provision for an annual report, the authority is required to report to the Prime Minister not later than 30th June 1973 on matters relating to urban and regional development during the 5-year period thereafter. It is not the Government’s intention that the authority should produce by that time a definitive statement on a national urban and regional development strategy. The Government does, however, propose to move in an expenditure sense commencing from the financial year 1973-74. It will be the responsibility of the authority, therefore, to advise the Government in time for its budget considerations in 1973 of the broad direction in which Commonwealth activity in urban and regional development might be shaped over the 5-year period. This will not be a final blueprint but rather the first statement of an active programme. The steps involved in its preparation will be discussed by the ministerial council. Funds will be made available during this present financial year 1972-73 for the initial operations of the authority.
The Bill, of course, contains appropriate provisions relating to officers’ rights, staff, audit and finance. The Bill establishes an advisory committee of up to 12 members including the commissioner. The committee will be comprised or persons who, by virtue of their knowledge and experience, can assist the authority in the performance of its duties. This is a formal committee created by the statute with membership appointed by the Prime Minister and designed to ensure the availability of a wide range of advice and response to the authority.
At the level of governments, it has already been mentioned that we propose the establishment of a ministerial council consisting of the Prime Minister and Premiers as the principal body for consultation and co-ordination in the field of urban and regional development. The Prime Minister has already written to the Premiers about the Commonwealth’s intentions. Honourable senators have already noted from my remarks that the authority will be responsible to the Prime Minister. This central place in the machinery of Government will add strength to the discussions between him and his State colleagues.
This Bill is amongst the most important legislation introduced into the Federal Parliament during the post-war years. It marks our recognition that there is a direct contribution that the Commonwealth Government can make in national urban and regional development for the benefit of all Australians. Commonwealth assistance for urban and regional development is not new. What is new is Commonwealth participation with the States in a co-ordinated programme of urban and regional development. Our objectives - the objectives of the Liberal and Country Parties - will not be achieved easily or overnight. But it is important to make a start in the prevailing climate of accord about the need for new initiatives and the broad nature of them. We will pursue these objectives vigorously. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Report and Ministerial Statement
(8.5) -I ask leave to table a document and to have a statement which has been circulated incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-1970 I present the eleventh annual report of the
Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972. together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements. I might add, concerning the proprieties, that during the dinner adjournment I sent copies of the statement to both Senator Murphy and Senator Gair. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the statement in Hansard. (The statement read as follows) -
For the information of honourable senators, I present the 1 1th annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972. In so doing, I wish to make some observations on the comments contained in the report in connection with the Commission’s financial problems and selling price policy. The Commission is concerned at its inability to secure sufficient revenue from its commercial operations to cover the whole of its costs. Honourable senators may be assured that I share this concern and that 1 have this matter under close consideration. With regard to the comment in the report that the ‘selling prices of medical products distributed by CSL are mainly determined by the Minister and the Department of Health’, I would observe that the Commission is not treated any differently from any other drug firm in regard to its sales on the open market. To elaborate further, the products of the Commission can be divided into 4 categories - e.g. (a) those medical products listed under the National Health Scheme; (b) those medical products not listed under the National Health Scheme; (c) veterinary products; and (d) blood products and polio, measles and rubella vaccines for which payment is made direct to CSL by the Commonwealth.
As regards those products listed under the national health scheme, the Commission is treated in exactly the same manner as other manufacturers. The Commission applies to the Department for a variation of its prices. The proposed prices are examined within my Department and if agreed to, are included as the price in the list of pharmaceutical benefits available under the National Health Act. Concerning those products not on the national health list, the prices are determined by the Commission in the light of the competitive situation in which they live. This applies to medical and veterinary products whether sold on the local or export market. Under Section 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act and after consulting with the Commission, prices are determined for all substances either imported or manufactured which may be supplied by CSL to the Commonwealth or to a State. However, the majority of the issues made under my determination concern category (d), i.e., blood products and polio, measles and rubella vaccines. These are distributed to me public free of charge and reimbursement to the Commission is made at prices which include an allowance for general overheads and a profit margin.
In connection with the Commission’s reference to the need for substantial Treasury funds to support its operations, I point out that provision has been made under this year’s Appropriations for advances totalling $647,000 to meet research and reserve stock activities of the Commission under section 19(b) of the Act in 1972-73. The Appropriations also make provision for additional capital of S2.093m to be extended to the Commission to meet capital works expenditure in 1972-73. The Commission has expressed the view that there should be a reappraisal of its objectives and responsibilities. I am in full agreement with this view, and as late as last week, I have had discussions with the Chairman and the Director of the Commission in which there has been an exploration of the areas in which a wider field of activities for the Commission could receive the consideration of the Government. As a result of these discussions the Commission has today placed before me a full documentation so that after a thorough examination of the relevant financial and technical considerations, I shall be in a position to seek the Government’s consideration of the matters concerned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first time.
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill has passed through the House of Representatives and comes to the Senate. It is a Bill which, I think, has general approval. The practice of the Senate established tonight is that the second reading speech should be incorporated in Hansard if leave is sought. I seek leave therefore to incorporate this second reading speech in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
This is the fourth Bill introduced by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) during this session of Parliament to advance the welfare of aged persons. The 3 previous Bills, already approved by both Houses, comprise: (i) The Social Services Bil’, under which pension rates have been substantially increased, the rate of supplementary assistance has been doubled and significant liberalisations have been introduced into the means test; (ii) the Aged Persons Homes Bill, under which the rate of persona] care subsidy, paid to non-profit organisations conducting approved hostel accommodation, has been doubled: and (iii) the Aged Persons Hostels Bill, under which a 3-year crash programme is being promoted to accelerate the provision of additional hostel-type accommodation for frail aged people. In addition, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) is introducing 3 new measures to assist the health and welfare of chronically-ill aged people (i) by giving additional assistance to patients of nursing homes: (ii) by increasing the Commonwealth subsidies paid lo organisations providing home nursing services; and (iii) by providing a new domiciliary care benefit to encourage and assist families and relatives to accept responsibility in their homes for the provision of the professional nursing care and supportive services required by an aged and infirm person, in order to reduce the demand for nursing home treatment At the same time the Ministers for Health and
Social Services are arranging to hold discussions with the States with a view to working out with them a co-operative scheme for improving throughout the community the supportive services available to the sick and the elderly who still live in their own homes.
The purpose of the Bill I now place before the Senate is to increase the assistance given by the Commonwealth to what are generally nown as meals on wheels services. These organisations, as honourable senators will no doubt agree, play an important role in looking after the health and welfare of aged or invalid people in their own homes, not only by ensuring that they obtain adequate meals for a nominal charge, but also by providing a necessary contact between people who may be frail and lonely on the one hand and supportive services, such as home nursing, paramedical, housekeeping, emergency transport, shopping, gardening, hairdressing, chiropody, library and general counselling, on the other band. Meals on wheels organisations were established originally, without Commonwealth aid. by voluntary organisations whose members saw the potential good which they could do in the community and the scheme is an excellent example of personal initiative, purposefully applied for a charitable objective.
The Delivered Meals Subsidy Act, which was introduced in 1970, assists the establishment, expansion, improvement and maintenance of these meals on wheels services by providing a subsidy on the basis of 10 cents for every meal delivered to aged or invalid people by an eligible organisation during the previous calendar year. Currently some 4 million meals are being supplied annually, entailing expenditure from the Commonwealth Budget of $400,000 at the existing rate of 10 cents per meal. While no exact figures are available, it is thought that an expansion to 6 million meals a year would adequately meet Australian needs, and the Government is hopeful that this target will be reached within the next 3 years. The Department of Social Services is being assisted by bodies such as the Council on the Ageing in reviewing the meals on wheels services available throughout Aus tralia, with the objective of pin-pointing those areas which do not as yet receive a fully adequate service.
There has been a gratifying response to the delivered meals subsidy scheme. Since its inception nearly 100 new meals on wheels services have been commenced and it would appear that a reasonably adequate coverage is provided throughout the metropolitan areas and in most of the provincial cities. It is known, as I have said, that there are still some gaps in the services and that some organisations are unable to provide what they would regard as an adequate service, either in respect of the number of needy people supplied with meals or the number of days per week on which meals are delivered. This is due partly to the difficulties experienced in obtaining and retaining the services of sufficient voluntary workers, particularly those with cars. The Government appreciates the efforts which are being made to meet these needs and wants to help those who are doing so much on their own initiative.
Another limiting factor has been the difficulty that some organisations find in obtaining a reliable and economic source of meals, with the potential to meet demand for meals by more people. In this regard tribute must be paid to the major contribution being made by public hospitals. In many cases their kitchens have been providing adequate and wholesome meals for as little as 25 cents. Due to rising costs, however, many of these sources of meals have found it necessary to increase their charges, and this has made it difficult for some meals on wheels organisations to maintain their charges to recipients at a reasonable level. The legislation now before the Senate will help to meet this situation by increasing the subsidy per meal from 10 cents to 15 cents.
The next annual payment of delivered meals subsidy falls due in January 1973 and will cover meals served during the calendar year ending on 31st December 1972. The Bill provides that payment at the increased rate will commence in January 1973 and apply to all eligible meals served since 1st January 1972. The Bill also provides for an additional subsidy of 5 cents per meal - making a total subsidy of 20 cents - to be paid to organisations which undertake to include with each meal approved types and quantities of fresh fruit or fruit juice. The purpose of this provision is to counteract the possibility of recipients of meals on wheels suffering from a deficiency of ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is relatively stable in dry form, but it deteriorates rapidly when it becomes moist and particularly when it is both moist and warm. The bulk-cooking of food is known to destroy a large percentage of the vitamin C content and when such meals are also overheated in order to be delivered hot by meals on wheels services they are particularly susceptible to loss of vitamin C.
Observations based largely on the measurement of ascorbic acid in their blood plasma indicate that many elderly people suffer from a deficiency of vitamin C which is sufficient to depress their general state of health. In some extreme cases elderly people have been reported to be below the scurvy level of 0.01 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 millilitres of blood plasma. The most practical way of counteracting this deficiency in recipients of meals on wheels is by ensuring that they receive an adequate ration of fresh fruit or fruit juice with a sufficiently high vitamin C content. As a random example of what might provide an adequate ration of vitamin C, it has been estimated that elderly people dependent on bulk-cooked food should be provided with 12 ounces of orange juice or suitable substitute each week.
Cost and seasonal factors will, of course, influence the availability of some types of fresh fruit. Because of this the Department of Social Services, with the assistance of an expert in nutrition and dietetics, will compile a schedule of the different types of fruit and fruit juices which provide an adequate level of vitamin C, indicating the necessary intake of each type. Australia is fortunate in having a plentiful supply of the citrus and other fruits which are the best natural sources of ascorbic acid. This additional fresh fruit subsidy will be available to all organisations conducting approved delivered meal services. It will be kept in mind that a type of fruit or fruit juice which one person likes may not appeal to another and that it would therefore be desirable for the organisations to be able to offer a reasonable choice to recipients. lt is worth while noting that medical opinion is unanimous in stating that no illeffects can result from an overdose of vitamin C. The view is widely held that the raising of ascorbic acid level is generally beneficial. This vitamin C programme will be kept under constant review in collaboration with the Department of Health. If it appears desirable to take other measures in addition to those proposed in this Bill action will be taken in the light of experience gained through the operation of the present proposal. It is estimated that the cost of increasing the delivered meals subsidy from 10c to 15c per meal will be $200,000 in 1972-73, with cumulative increases in subsequent years as services are expanded and extended. If all organisations currently approved for subsidy agree to deliver fruit or fruit juice the additional cost will be a further $200,000 in a full year; approximately $40,000 in 1972-73.
Total expenditure under the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act for 1972-73 is therefore expected to be $640,000 rising to upward of $800,000 in the full year 1973-74. la terms of today’s social welfare expenditure this is not a major item, but the importance of adequate nutrition to elderly people living alone cannot be overstated. As I explained to the Senate when introducing the Aged Persons Homes Bill recently, one of the most important aspects of this year’s comprehensive programme to improve the health and welfare of aged people is to encourage and assist people who might otherwise be admitted prematurely or unnecessarily to nursing homes or other similar institutions to remain in their domestic environment for as long as possible. This Bill makes a significant contribution towards that objective.
May I finally - and in this I would hope I can speak for all honourable senators - reiterate the gratitude expressed by the Minister for Social Services in another place to the splendid groups of voluntary workers who have initiated and maintained meals on wheels services throughout Australia and without whose efforts and dedication it would not have been possible to have achieved what we now see in operation: an excellent example of private initiative being assisted and encouraged by Commonwealth assistance. This is a pattern which this Government believes should be encouraged on many aspects of social service, where personal involvement is so mutually rewarding. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Opposition appreciates that this is a long awaited Bill which will bring great benefits to the aged people of this country. We do not wish to delay its passage and we ito not oppose it.
– T welcome the approach of the Opposition in agreeing to the second reading of this Bill. It is, I think, almost without precedent in this Senate, because. I moved the second reading of this Bill tonight. I asked for leave for the second reading speech to be incorporated in Hansard, leave was granted, and I hear from Senator O’Byrne - and I welcome it and 1 thank him for it - a statement that the Opposition does not object to this Bill. I appreciate the acknowledgment which is implicit in that.
– I rise to a point of order. Under any normal rules of debate a person cannot reply if there has been no argument to which to reply. 1 ask that this proposition be upheld.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - There is no substance in the point Of order. Senator O’Byrne has spoken for the Opposition.
– This is, as I said, a historic and significant occasion. What has been said by Senator Poyser shows, perhaps, some embarrassment on his behalf because the Opposition’s attitude is such an obvious acknowledgment of the merits of the Government’s social services programme. Rather than debate the merits the Opposition is prepared to let this Bill go through without debate. I certainly welcome this, but it is strange that this Bill should go through without consideration of the benefits of the Government’s proposals with regard to the extension of the assistance to those who provide meals on wheels to persons who need them. Obviously the provision of this finance to the voluntary agencies who provide these meals is wel come. The Government’s whole approach in social services, as the second reading speech, which has been incorporated in Hansard, illustrates is to provide assistance for those who, by virtue of poverty, age and ill-health require assistance and for those who need delivered meals on wheels provided by voluntary agencies. The Government has extended the assistance which it granted some 3 years ago and it recognises, as the Opposition recognises, the very real social service which is provided voluntarily by people outside the Government’s services. This is a measure in which the Government has indicated its willingness to support and subsidise - and to subsidise generously - those people who in a spirit of community endeavour are prepared to help those in need. This is the whole approach of the Government to a vast range of questions. The Government wants to develop in this country people of self-reliance, people who have a sense of responsibility, and to encourage them in their voluntary efforts by ensuring that the Government will subsidise and support those who are prepared to undertake that activity.
The attitude of the Opposition on this occasion is an attitude which not only acknowledges and supports this policy, contrary to the Opposition’s whole general philosophy with regard to a host of other matters, but also indicates its endorsement, as has been seen with other social service measures which the Government has adopted, of the approach of the Government. As we approach the forthcoming general election we are confident and we are satisfied that the issue of social services will not be a vital one dividing the nation. We are confident because the. Government has a progressive, forward looking, comprehensive policy and a programme which will meet the needs of the people. We have had from the. Opposition a clear acknowledgment and an endorsement of that programme. I thank Senator O’Byrne, who spoke on behalf of the Opposition, for his unsought but nevertheless very welcome complete endorsement of the Government’s programme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Greenwood) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– It is regrettable that I have to rise to speak to the motion for the third reading of this Bill, but I have to do so because of the provocative nature of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who has charge of the passage of this legislation through the Senate. As far as I am concerned, from now on leave will not be granted to the incorporation of second reading speeches in Hansard. Any other Minister who had some responsibility to his office for the time schedule that has been agreed to between the leaders-
– This was not agreed to.
– The AttorneyGeneral says it was not agreed to. Obviously he has not been in touch with the negotiations that have taken place in relation to the rising of this House. It is obvious that those taking part in the negotiations have not been in touch with the AttorneyGeneral.
– The Opposition is in complete agreement. Why does the honourable senator not leave it at that?
– Why should the Opposition leave it at that when the AttorneyGeneral rises in his place and makes a very provocative speech about the attitude of the Opposition on this occasion?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Senator Poyser, I remind you that you are speaking to the motion for the third reading of the Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill. I suggest that you speak to the Bill.
– I am speaking to the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– The AttorneyGeneral should take a point of order if he does not think 1 am doing so.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Speak to the Bill, Senator Poyser.
– I think it was disgraceful behaviour on the part of the
Attorney-General to take 10 minutes to reply to a debate that did not occur. In view of the agreement to expedite the consideration of the business of the Senate, I think the Attorney-General should be ashamed that he adopted such an attitude. I shall say no more than that on the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– I join with Senator Poyser in expressing my regret, to use a very mild term, at the attitude of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). If I wished to I could quote parts of his second reading speech and refer to the matter of the Government giving increased assistance to the organisations which provide what are generally known as Meals on Wheels services. The Meals on Wheels organisation is an extension of the old poor house which was attended by people who could not afford to eat because of their lack of funds. The Government is using the Red Cross and other well meaning organisations in the community to do a job that it should be doing. Any dignified person should be able not only to entertain his friends in his old age but also to pay for his meals. The Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill is an extension of the provision of charity that the Government wants to crow about.
The Attorney-General did neither himself nor those who sit behind him any credit by his unco-operative and provocative altitude on this matter. We are all aware of the circumstances in which he has adopted such an attitude. We are drawing towards the end of the present parliamentary session. There is a lot of politics in the air. This is a measure on which the whole of the Senate is in agreement. Yet we find that the AttorneyGeneral has taken on his true guise as a political sapling - ‘green wood’. The AttorneyGeneral spoke of the spirit of community endeavour. We on this side of the House wish to co-operate in a spirit of community endeavour. The Government is temporarily in the position of being able to aid and help aged and lonely people in the evening of their lives. It is the responsibility of every community and every government to do this. If I were to be political or provocative I could criticise the Government for providing too little too late.
– But the Opposition will still support the legislation, will it nol?
– The Opposition will support it because in principle the measure is a correct one.
– I thank you for doing so.
– The AttorneyGeneral could have finished his remarks by saying that he thanked the Opposition for its co-operation. I would like to point out to the Attorney-General that he is not serving well the Senate, his Ministerial colleagues or any of the members of this Parliament who have commitments in the near future. We have a big legislative programme before us. For the AttorneyGeneral to be so irresponsible as to adopt the provocative attitude that seems to be inbuilt into his nature and to put the Senate on the wrong foot at a time when there are tensions and when politics is rearing its ugly head is deplorable. It is deplorable that the Attorney-General should start the week off in this fashion. I object to what he has done. Nevertheless, I reiterate what I said in my speech on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, namely, that the Opposition supports this measure.
– in reply - I rise to conclude the debate on the motion for the third reading of this Bill and once again to thank the members of the Opposition for their support of this measure. It is a measure which, as I have said, merits the support which the Opposition has given to it. In 1970 the Government introduced a subsidy of 10c for every meal which was supplied by the organisations which provide Meals on Wheels. It is estimated that the Meals on Wheels organisations now provide some 4 million meals annually. These organisations do tremendous work. With all the effort which the members of the Opposition put into their speeches on the motion for the third reading of the Bill, it is surprising that no words were said by way of appreciation to those people who work in these voluntary agencies. Indeed, I sensed carping criticism that this work should not really be done by them. The view of the Australian Labor Party, as Senator O’Byrne has suggested, is that the work should be done by the Government. Therein lies one of the fundamental differences between the Government and the Opposition. The Government looks to people in the community to help themselves and encourages them to help others. It does not believe that those in need in the community should be made totally dependent upon the Government in all respects for all services. That is a vital distinction in our philosophy and our approach. It is useful to have this opportunity to emphasise that difference.
As the second reading speech which was so generously incorporated in Hansard by leave of Senator O’Byrne and the Opposition indicates, the subsidy will be increased from 10c to 15c. Of course, there will be an additional increase from 15c to 20c if there is provided fruit juice containing ascorbic acid, vitamin C, which is so desirable in the meals which are provided to these elderly people. I sense that there is a late feeling on the part of honourable senators opposite that they should not have supported so easily and readily what is the fourth limb of the Government’s social services programme as enunciated in the Budget which has had such wide acclaim throughout the community. I imagine it is that late confession and repentance which has caused Senator Poyser and Senator O’Byrne to explain somewhat grudgingly why they have supported this measure. I can only say, as I said earlier, that we welcome this endorsement of the Government’s interest and the Government’s programme, and we thank them for the unsolicited testimonial which they have given to this Bill. I am sure that I echo the words of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I commend the third reading of the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 1811).
– When the sitting of the Senate was suspended for dinner I was referring to the amendment which I had moved on behalf of the Opposition. I want to advance my argument a little further. If we look at the second reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral and the Bill, we see no specific reference to land rights as the Aboriginals and Islanders require land rights. In fact, the only reference to land rights that the Government has made in recent times was that enunciated by the Prime Minister on 26 th January 1972. Honourable senators will recall the unfortunate death of one of the leading Aborigines on Palm Island and probably one of Australia’s leaders in the Aboriginal progress movement. I refer to the late Tom Geia. On that occasion I asked the Queensland Premier to initiate a coroner’s inquiry. I made a legitimate request in an attempt to raise some of the issues that led up to this unfortunate occurrence. Subsequently the request was rejected by the Queensland Premier.
Now we have asked the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts to initiate a royal commission into the conditions at that reserve. To date this request has not been rejected, although I am not very hopeful of it being accepted. It is equally significant to note that Senator Bonner, who preceded me in this debate, took the opportunity in Townsville to say that it was not necessary to have a royal commission. I think it is a matter for regret that, although the honourable senator to whom I have referred is a member of the Liberal Party, he has to use the Liberal Party patter on every occasion. He ought to be given more freedom to say some of the things in which I am sure he must believe in his own heart.
I refer now to the time when the Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs was established One of the aims of the Office was to establish Aborigines in their own right in businesses, on farms and so on. For a while the scheme worked fairly well, but I must say that under the present Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts - 1 am highly critical of him: I am sure that he never saw 2 Aborigines together until he was appointed to his present portfolio - there has been a severe scaling down of the number of grants made available to Aborigines. I live in the only State in Australia which has a population of more than 50,000 Aborigines, and in the last several months I have not been able to find any Aboriginal to whom a grant has been made to enable him to establish his own business.
I am not, under any circumstances, complaining about the members of the staff of the Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs. I think that probably they are the finest body of people who could be gathered together for this purpose. They are trying to do a job under extremely difficult circumstances. I know most of them, and I would say that each man and woman on that staff is determined to do his or her best for Aborigines and Islanders; but they are severely restricted not only by the Minister who does not know what his job is all about but also by the Prime Minister who does not care what it is all about.
Earlier today I referred to the Vestey land grant. In this country an area of 35 square miles is virtually a back yard. It could not be called an economically viable proposition under any circumstances. In view of the previous statements that were made, I challenge the Government to say that it did not reject a larger area of land. The same problem is experienced in regard to Commonwealth grants for homes for Aborigines in the State of Queensland. I cannot speak of the other States, but I can speak of my own Stare. I do not know of any Aboriginal who has been able to buy a home once he has been granted a rental home. Under a Queensland Housing Commission scheme, for a long period beginning back in the days of the Labor governments in Queensland, Aborigines were able to use part of the money they had paid in rent as deposit on a home.
– Do you support the policies of the past Labor governments?
– I said that this was done under Labor governments, and it was continued by the Country Party.
– Do you support the past policies of Labor governments?
– What is wrong with the Attorney-General? I think that he ought to show a greater degree of responsibility. There are people who say that every day he comes to Parliament House in a Commonwealth car and goes home in a green car. and shortly many people will start to believe that. 1 am pointing out a principle to which this Government ought to adhere, and there ought to bc some sort of backing for the principle from the Commonwealth Minister. 1 turn to the question of education grants. Perhaps it would be too rude to say that this is another field in which money is not being spent properly, but it ought to be spent over a wider field and the grants ought to be larger. The inflation growth rate in Australia was about 7 per cent, and now the Government is excited because it thinks it has been able to reduce the rate to 5 per cent. Of course, if one looks at the latest cost of living adjustment figures one finds that the Government’s contention is not borne out in fact. Nevertheless, these education grants cannot be made available until a child reaches 14 years of age, and there are many youngsters attending primary school whose parents need financial assistance to keep the children at school in order to give them a reasonable education.
I come to the famous case of John Belia who was subject to the Act and who was, so far as I know, the first person who was able to escape from the octopus arms of the Act by way of a court case that was decided only in recent weeks. I want to pay full tribute to one woman who worked on behalf of John Belia over a long period of time. I know John Belia. I know his wife and I know his family. He was able to obtain release from the restrictive clauses of the Act because he took his case into a court of law. Greater amounts of money ought to be made available to the legal profession so that an Aboriginal or an Islander even on a minor charge can obtain legal assistance if he so desires. If legal assistance were provided, I have no doubt at all that 90 per cent of the black people now in gaols in Australia would not be there. For minor offences such as drunkenness, loitering and vagrancy, for which a white man is seldom gaoled, a black man is always gaoled.
It is true that a start has been made in the Brisbane area, but I am referring to northern Australia generally - to the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I am sorry if this amuses the Minister. It is significant to note that when most matters of importance are discussed in this chamber the Minister starts his laughing fits. The problem regarding the gaoling of Aboriginals for minor offences would be solved almost overnight if legal assistance were made available to them. It was Mrs
Kaplan, who at that time lived at Mount Isa, who fought the Belia case from one end of this country to the other. I have no doubt that she was overjoyed at the result. However, we must remember that there are 29,999 other Belias in Queensland who want to get relief from the provisions of the Act. 1 have mentioned on several occasions in this chamber the shortage of housing in the Townsville area. Recently we asked the Commonwealth Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to make $5m available so that rental homes could be constructed. The Minister wrote back saying, in effect, that the money had been expended by Queensland and that no more money was available. Every day through my office we are fighting eviction cases and we need legal aid because many of the people being evicted are either poor whites or black people.
I should like now to make some reference to the Nielsen case which the Minister will recall very clearly. If Commonwealth grants could be stretched to provide legal assistance to people, many islanders would be able to take advantage of the aid in the present problems that they have with Dr Nielsen, the so-called religious leader. When I mentioned this man on the adjournment debate in this place the Minister accused me of causing all sorts of problems, apparently for Dr Nielsen. The Attorney-General has a strange weakness for chasing draft resisters around Australia. He is seldom able to catch any of them, but he spends a lot of time on it. He is always looking for Communists. However, when we come to the other side of the board it becomes impossible for him to be able to find any of the bombers who are causing trouble in Australia among the Croatians and it is impossible for him to restore law and order in some fields, although he thinks he is bringing law and order to others.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Keeffe, please come back to the Bill.
– I am doing so.
– He is incapable of it.
– Do you feel well now? If legal aid were available we would be able to do much more for many more of these people. When I mentioned Dr
Nielsen the Minister became upset. Let me say that the good doctor - I put the word good’ in inverted commas - has 56 ministers who have been ordained by him and who pay to him SIO a fortnight. When a minister receives a certificate of ordination it is in these terms:
Certificate of Ordination. The World Fellowship of the Universal World Church Inc. This is to certify-
It then mentions the name - has been duly and legally ordained a Minister of The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ and has been ordained a Priest of The Universal World Church Inc–
– I rise to order on the point of relevancy. I know that I have raised this point many times during the honourable senator’s very long speech, but we are debating a Bill to provide assistance to the States for the welfare and advancement of Aborigines. An amendment has been moved. Neither in the Bill nor in the amendment is there anything which would justify this challenge, attack or comment upon a person who calls himself - rightly or wrongly, I am not able to say - a minister of religion. I suggest on the ground of relevancy that the honourable senator is far from either the amendment or the Bill.
– I wish to speak to the point of order because this is about the third time that the point has been raised. I agree with the Attorney-General that this Bill relates to the welfare and advancement of Aborigines, and surely anything that affects the welfare of Aborigines is pertinent. On the many occasions when this question has been raised Senator Keeffe has been able to show the existence of a sect whose purpose is the exploitation of Aborigines. Whether the purpose of this sect is to advance the Aborigines welfare by giving them divinity or is contrary to their welfare by taking cash grants from them, it is a question of welfare and, surely, this must be relevant to the Bill and the amendment. I hope, Mr Acting Deputy President, that you will be guided by the 3 precedents which have been established today on this question.
– Speaking to the point of order-
– No, you have spoken on it. You do not have a second go.
– So have you.
– But I am not attempting to speak a second time, and you are.
– This is another point.
– Another point of order? Mr Acting Deputy President, is an honourable senator permitted to speak twice on a point of order?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - I address myself to Senator Keeffe and ask him to bring his remarks more within the immediacy of the matter before the Chair.
– I think I am being entirely consistent with the terms of the Bill and the amendment which I moved earlier in the debate. I have asked the Minister to ensure that more money is made available from Commonwealth sources to provide legal aid for people who cannot fight for themselves. The amount made available for legal aid in the whole time that the Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs has been in existence has been very small. I might say that when the Minister is forced out of this chamber at the next Senate election and has to go back to his legal practice he may be looking for some of this work to sustain him. Let me complete the story about Nielsen. This certification of ordination which was issued on 8th July 1972 expires on 4th July 1973. One of the reasons that it expires-
– I rise again on a point of order. Senator Keeffe is now relating again the matter to which I took exception when I rose on my last point of order, in respect of which you asked him to relate his remarks more closely to the Bill. He did so immediately you spoke to him and mentioned the adequacy or otherwise of legal assistance. I could see the way in which he could make those remarks relevant, but to pursue a vendetta against a person who claims to be or is alleged to be a minister of religion is, in my submission, not relevant to the terms of the Bill. The Senate should not permit its debates to be used in this way. If Senator Keeffe desires to raise this point he has an opportunity during the adjournment debate to do so. I submit that standing order 419 indicates clearly that no senator shall digress from the subject matter of any question under discussion. My submission is that this Bill has a very wide ambit - there is no question about that, and other persons who have occupied the chair today have indicated that - but the matter to which Senator Keeffe is referring goes far beyond that broad ambit. I can only submit that if that standing order is to have any relevance and ‘subject matter’ is to have any meaning, Senator Keeffe is far removed from the relevance of this discussion.
– Again I rise to speak to the point of order. The Minister is determined to speak. He was refused an opportunity to speak for a second time on an earlier point of order, so immediately he raised another point of order so that he could defy the Chair and speak further. I agree that no-one can get past the provisions of standing order 419 which relates to the subject matter of any question under discussion. However, Mr Acting Deputy President, in order for Senator Greenwood’s point of order to be pertinent you must rule that the exploitation of Aboriginal people by someone under the guise of religion has no connection with their welfare or advancement. It is claimed that there is the exploitation of Aboriginal people under the guise of religion, and obviously a condemnation of this is very pertinent to the Bill that we are now considering.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - The Bill has certainly a very wide ambit.
– May I speak to the point of order?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTYes.
– I want to defend myself against the spurious arguments that have been put up by the Minister. Consistently during this debate and on previous occasions when I have been speaking in this place, particularly in relation to something which the Minister thinks should not be exposed to the light of public gaze, the Minister has resorted to the subterfuge of taking points of order based on very flimsy grounds. I always endeavour to stick to the subject matter under debate. On any occasion if there is some irrelevancyit is subsequently shown to be necessary to the totality of the argument. That is what I have always done. Now the Minister, because there are certain things here which he does not want exposed to the light of day, has wasted 23 minutes of my debating time - it has almost expired - with 6 irrelevant points of order. I suggest that at no time have I deviated from the proper substance of the debate, that is the Act and the Bill. It is of no use the Minister shaking his head. If he wobbles it too many times it will fall off, anyway. We have an important amendment here which contains a number of clauses. Each clause is relevant to something I have mentioned during the debate. If the Minister wants to keep things under the carpet this is one way he can do that. 1 will accept his challenge to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate if he does not want to hear about his close friends in a proper, open debate. I will speak during the adjournment debate this week and expose a lot of things about him and Dr Nielsen.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Keeffe, have you finished your speech as this stage?
– My debating time has run out so I propose to pass a few remarks on the clauses of the amendment.
– I will move for an extension of time.
– I think I have 3 minutes, have I not?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Yes, you have 3 minutes.
– It is impossible to cover the range of-
– Can 1 move an extension of time now?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - The time has not expired. Senator Keeffe will continue until the expiry of the time allotted to him.
– When we moved this amendment it was for the purpose of exposing some of the things which we felt ought to be exposed. We said that we did not oppose the second reading. In other words, in spite of the statements which have been made by the Minister we hope to have a proper debate on a lot of the matters which are not included in the Bill. This year there has been an increase in the amount of money provided. This is automatic. A few extra dollars and cents have been thrown in because this happens to be a Federal election year. For the uninitiated I point out that an election will be held an 2nd December. It was obvious that something bad to be done. That is why this additional sum of money was included. I refer to clause (a) of our amendment which states:
And this is what we are condemning - over a period of more than 5 years to exercise the full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal affairs voted to it by more than 90 per cent of the Australian electorate . . .
On every possible occasion the Minister and those he represents have taken the opportunity to repudiate what the electors of Australia have said. They gave this Parliament a mandate to do certain things. It is significant that in relation to the infamous Queensland Act the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) who was then Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who was then in the Minister in charge of Aboriginal Affairs both said that if the Queensland Government did not toe the line the Commonwealth, with its constitutional power, would make it toe the line. But what happened after we had a new Prime Minister? He immediately flew to Brisbane, conferred with the right people, and was able to announce that sweet agreement had been reached. It had, but to the disadvantage of 60,000 Aboriginals and islanders. I refer to clause (d) which states:
Last financial year 139 or 140 houses were built in the Northern Territory. This was not enough to keep up with the current growth rate. In Queensland in over 5 years 140.2 houses have been built each year. This is not keeping up with the growth rate either.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) proposed:
That Senator Keeffe be granted an extension of time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, I second the motion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - The question is that this motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say aye, the contrary no.
– No. Is this an extension for half an hour? As I understand the position the extension of time is half an hour. Is the time to be cut below half an hour? Let us look at the time. It is the half an hour I object to.
– I amend my motion and move:
That Senator Keeffe be granted an extension of time for a quarter of an hour.
This is half the time of Senator Keeffe’s speech which has been taken up by the Attorney-General.
– I second that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– For those who have been good enough to ensure that I have an extension of debating time I point out that I will not take up the15 minutes. I want to make further reference to some of the clauses of the amendment. In clause (f) we condemn the Government for making insufficient provision for education ranging from preschool to technical training, adult education and education at university level. There is no continuity of action. If all these matters came under the umbrella of a Commonwealth Minister or if the Commonwealth Minister, even with his current powers, were prepared to do something about this there would be a vast amount of difference in this field. A lot of young people would be receiving a more stubstantial education and there would be some Aboriginals in universities. I know that what I am going to say finally will offend the Minister. It will upset him. I make some reference to this exploitation of islanders. I am seeking Commonweath Government help here. I have a question on the notice paper asking the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to investigate the accounts of this man and the organisation he is supposed to represent. I am asking the Treasurer too to investigate the ramification of Commonwealth powers in relation to the Companies Acts.
As I said a moment ago 56 ministers have to pay $10 a fortnight into this central fund. This man claims that there is no building fund. We know that tens of thousands of dollars have been collected for it. If the Government does not take action at this level and provide money for the islanders so that they can take legal action in an attempt to recover some of their money it is falling down on its job. In fact, it is not even faithful to the promises it is supposed to have made. If these ministers do not pay some of this money the ordination oath will be withdrawn and they are out on their own. In addition to that, when Dr Nielsen goes to his services on Saturday and Sunday he says that nobody can put less than $2 - or whatever the sum may be which he stipulates on that occasion - in the plate. Of course if all else fails people at the door are told to empty their pockets and purses as they go out. Do honourable senators opposite say that this man is an honest man? In fact, this matter goes back further than this. I received a letter from a friend in Gympie - this is the first reference we have to this man - who said:
In the story no reference was made to the fact that he was domiciled in Gympie for quite a number of years and established an unenviable reputation while he was here, both morally and spiritually.
He was thrown out of the Assembly of God Church here and with finance provided by his father, built and established the World Church in Crown Road, Gympie.
If past performances are any criteria . . . will be using every tactic moral and immoral to try and discredit you on the issue, keep in mind that the above mentioned Rev. Dr’ has quite a history here in Gympie-
– I rise again to a point of order, Mr Deputy President. It is not only the point of order of relevance; it is the use of this chamber for constant denigration, without proof, of persons who may or may not be responsible or culpable in the sense which this honourable senator constantly asserts they are. I feel that if this Senate has any responsibility for its position as a legislature in which persons who speak in it are entitled to absolute privilege, there ought to be some restraint, even if the restraint be that of relevance, under the Standing Orders, to the issues which have been raised. I repeat that there is a standing order in this place which requires senators not to digress from the subject matter under discussion.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr Deputy President, it is consistent that the Minister wants to defend every thug in this community.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Order!
– He has never come out yet-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Order!
– He has never come out yet to defend honest people, to catch the criminals in the community. All he wants to do at any time is to wage war on draft resisters, to keep thieves and thugs-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Keeffe, be seated.
– Well, that is all he is doing.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Take your seat. It is most offensive for an honourable senator to say that a Minister is supporting every thug in a given situation. You will withdraw those remarks immediately, Senator Keeffe.
– I will withdraw them and say ‘every dishonest person’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Withdraw your remarks, Senator Keeffe.
– I did. I withdrew them and replaced them. It is obvious that the Minister does not want to hear anything exposed. 1 thank those honourable senators who gave me the extension of time. There will be other places, other times and other ways in which the Minister will be forced to listen to truth and honesty. If he does not want to listen to it now, I suggest that we should carry the amendment as I outlined it to the Senate. It is a pity that the Minister chose this place and this time to turn the Senate chamber into a shambles. That is what he does, not only on this occasion but on every occasion when a worthwhile Bill with worthwhile amendments is before this chamber. It is an irresponsible action which is completely consistent, of course, with the general tenor of his Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and those associated with the Prime Minister in denigrating the Parliament of this country and the Government of this country, and I hope he gets his answer on 2nd December.
– Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to make a personal explanation because I have been misrepresented.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I simply say in response to the last remarks of Senator Keeffe that my purpose in rising was to maintain the standards of the Senate and to ensure that the Standing Orders were observed. The Hansard record will bear out what Senator Keeffe was saying and it will bear out what my response was to each remark which he made. That record will indicate that he made what I would have thought was a remark offensive to the Senate, namely, that I had made or had attempted to make a shambles of this place. That statement was absolutely without foundation.
– The Bill before the Senate is a very simple Bill. It merely makes provision for the Commonwealth to grant moneys to the States for the purposes of Aboriginal advancement. The debate has strayed rather broadly from the topic of the Bill. I fail to see why the Bill even required an 11 page typed second reading speech from the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to outline the activities of the Commonwealth in various other avenues of Aboriginal advancement, apart from grants given to the States for that purpose, to illustrate the point. If the Senate has strayed somewhat and if there have been lengthy speeches about matters not directly associated with the Bill, then I suppose honourable senators could hardly have been expected to do otherwise in view of the example of the Minister’s second reading speech. I am in the situation of having been challenged hours ago about several areas and. therefore, with some reluctance I shall venture to make some replies.
We of the Australian Democratic Labor Party support the Bill. We believe it is another step following steps already taken in the right direction towards solving the Aboriginal problem overall. We recognise that the Commonwealth is making grants to the various States for this purpose. There are great complexities in these problems. There are several problems, not one problem, and they are diversified in the various States as well as being different in character. Anybody who has given serious and sympathetic consideration to the problems of our Aboriginal people, firstly must realise the diversity of the problems, and the entirely different character of them. I refer to the fringe dwellers near the big cities, to those who live in isolated areas and to those who live in the remote parts of Australia and who still exist largely as nomads. They have survived in an environment in which possibly no other people, including ourselves, would have survived.
Australia is much more aware today of a sense of responsibility towards these people. All of us, irrespective of our political parties, would criticise the days and the ages when we sought to make some contribution to this problem by providing handouts and merely succeeded in destroying a people and taking away their ambition and pride in themselves. Without those things they can never cross the enormous chasm that exists between the type of life their environment forced upon them and the type of life that we have been able to develop. We are now extending a helping hand to enable them to join us in our way of life. Whether it is a better way of life may be doubtful in some respects, but at least it is the type of life which has to be lived in this country because of the stage of its development.
If history is to blame, then we have to blame it and pass on to other things because there is nothing before us except the inevitability that we must assist the Aboriginal people to become integrated into the community of a modern civilisation. I used the word ‘integrated’ with great care because my Party has thought deeply about the subject and draws attention to the difference between assimilation and integration. Assimilation forces upon these people, with their background, the obligation to accept all that we have and all that we stand for. Firstly, my Party does not think that this is possible and, secondly, we do not think it desirable that they should leave everything behind them that they have learned in order to survive in the type of environment in which they have survived. There is much of value to them as well as to us in what they have learned.
At the outset of my remarks I would like to get my terminology straight. I noticed that my critic in particular, Senator Keeffe, when speaking of this problem will persist in using terminology which is offensive to me. It may not be offensive to others. He referred to our Australian Aboriginal as ‘the black man’ - ‘the black man this’ and ‘the black man that’. Years ago my Party, before anybody else thought of doing so in this country, abandoned the concept of a controlled immigration policy being known as a white Australia policy. We expunged such terms from our philosophy. In the last years the Australian Labor Party has seen fit to follow our example but it is 10 to 15 years behind us in that regard.
I have to admit that I have felt some shame in reading the records of this country at a time of great need and great distress when we appealed to the Americans for help. It was part of a political organisation at that time which, unbeknown to me, told the American people that we required their military assistance but we asked that they send no black soldiers, please. It was the Party to which I belonged at that time, that apparently - unwisely in my view, now that I am aware of it - made that decision.
– Which Party was that?
– That was the Australian Labor Party of which I was then a member. I do not direct this to members of the ALP today. While I was a member of it many of them, even some who sit in this chamber as its representatives, did not have responsibility at that time. Many ALP supporters here were not members of the Party at that time. But I have been ashamed to realise that the Party to which I then belonged-
– What date was that?
– That was in the war years, as Senator Murphy would be well aware. The Party to which I belonged at that stage held a view about humanity which meant that it separated people into blacks and whites. I do not believe that that term conveys the impression of our people in relation to the Aboriginal community. True it is that their environment has caused our Aborigines to have a skin pigmentation different from that which some may think is desirable. I do not believe that the pigmentation in my skin is quite adequate for the environment in which I live. I spend some of the summer months trying to change it to be more suitable for the climate in which we reside. My Cornish ancestors did not have this in view when they gave me. the heritage I have. Certainly, it is a heritage that, by any means, is not as pure racially as that of the Australian Aborigine.
Nobody who comes from England - from Cornwall in particular - can boast of purity of racial heritage if one analyses the situation of the British Isles. I speak for no others but we Cornish. Everybody ran over us at various periods of history. Spaniards, Moors and others have made some slight contribution to my own destiny in being in the Senate today. I take cognisance of that when I speak of other people. Amongst our Australian Aboriginal community today, as we refer to it, are many people of much purer racial strain than any of us. But also there are many people today who owe their destiny to an ancestry that is composed of part Australian Aborigine and part European; or part Australian Aborigine and part Chinese; or part Aborigine and part Japanese; or part Aborigine and part Malay.
Many people have come to the coast of Australia. Indeed, amongst the Australian Aboriginal people there are many who owe a small section of their heritage to those people. Rather than use the terms ‘white Australian’ or ‘black Australian’ I much prefer to give the original inhabitants of this country the name by which they are properly recognised here - the Australian Aborigine people. They vary greatly in the pigmentation of their skin as many English people do. There are blue eyes, brown eyes, black heads and red heads. I find it quite offensive to refer to the colour of their skin in describing these people. I do not think that it helps when people want to do something to help in the integration of these people if false barriers start to be erected by using terminology that tends to raise prejudice where otherwise it would not be found. There is a backlash-
– They are ali Caucasians the same as we are.
– Whatever they are, they managed to survive, to their great credit, in an environment in which I am certain that our own race of people would not have survived. For that reason I believe that they have much from which we can learn. I want to take issue with Senator Keeffe because he re-quoted a statement I made that was taken out of the context of what I said to a conference of our Party when we were discussing the difference between assimilation and integration. Attempts were made to saddle us with generalised propaganda statements in regard to land rights without detailed descriptions of what land rights or ownership were involved or anything of that nature. 1 resisted that and I still resist that as a general way of helping the Aborigines because in my view it will not do so. I am entitled to a view just as Senator Keeffe is entitled to a view. 1 try to back my views with an understanding of the people and their problems, not only of their own making but also of our making. If we want to help them at all we want to see them enjoy success and receive the approbation and support of the other Australian people who are trying to help them, not see them make failures.
There should not be an oversimplification of terminology by using propaganda phrases such as ‘land rights’ and conferring on people 35 square miles of land in a terrain where you would not raise 35 rabbits on the whole 35 square miles. It takes 6,000 square miles of that sort of terrain to have a viable cattle station which is the only prospect that these people would have of making a success of land settlement in that area. With all the ingenuity of the centuries to assist us, it requires 6,000 square miles to enable people who have access to all the skills of the world as well as of our nation to do that. It takes a knowledge of transport, marketing and everything else to bring the products of such isolated areas and present them in saleable condition to a market in order for such a venture to be a success.
We do not support the generalised idea that some huge success should be expected merely from the granting of land rights, whatever that term may mean. Nobody who has advocated that has yet defined clearly what it means. The Aboriginal people with whom I have sat down and talked, and of whom I have asked the question ‘What do you want with land rights?’ never have an answer. In my view, they are repeating jargon and a slogan that has been sold to them by other people who are trying to make political capital out of people who have been handicapped for so many years by their environment and who. for the first time in the history of this country, are beginning to receive a semblance of assistance that will be required to enable them to cross the bridges and join us in a greater Australia. I deprecate the fact that people are using them in that way. That is why I interjected when Senator Keeffe was speaking and said: Why should we hate and fight one another over this matter?’
Surely we all sincerely want to help these people. There is plenty of evidence that we are beginning to do so. We are stopping the handouts and the, things that we have been doing in the past. There may have been a justification for them when people knew no better. Perhaps they served a part in the total project. If we had not done that at that time, whatever were the worst consequences of it, the. Aborigines may not have survived to this point of time. Nobody who has fairly considered the history of this country could say that the Australian Aborigines, any more than the animal species of this disappearing continent before the white man came, would have survived through to this generation had it not been for the intervention of the white people, bringing the knowledge and skills of Europe with them which enabled them to tackle the deteriorating environment of this country and make it what it is today.
It could well be said that in the more lush sections of Australia such as Victoria and Tasmania there would always have been plenty on which the Aborigines could live. But if we examine their history we find that is not so because the recurring drought seasons and other difficulties inevitably brought about a situation in which not only man but also the. animal species that had survived in this country were not materially increasing in numbers. In a natural environment unaltered by the skills of the settlers who had come from Europe, they were to a large extent, over the centuries, deteriorating in numbers. It was the infusion of farming skills that overcame the drought seasons which periodically blasted this country before there was any control of the environment. The droughts were leading to a situation in which this country at some time, or other may have become no more than a desert. That may or may not have been its destiny, lt is as logica] a proposition as any of the other propositions that can be produced and is supported by some of the geological and historical facts about the country to which we belong.
I believe that we can develop a sense of responsibility in the Aboriginal people by the ownership of land under a system that was brought here by the early settlers of this country. There was no concept of it in this country prior to their arrival. Of course, that concept was that if land was not obtained by Crown grant, it was bought. The suggestion now is that by Crown grant we should give particular land rights to the Aborigines. Those who suggest that this is a logical proposition - 1 feel that in certain circumstances it could become advantageous to these people - at least ought to produce more specific modes in which this can be done to prevent the Aboriginal people, with whatever land rights they are given, going through the processes which we in our civilisation developed since land was first granted by the Crown to feudal lords and everybody else in the community was a peasant.
I say this: The Aborigine people are just as intelligent as the people of our own race who conceived the principles of land rights and are just as capable of exploiting one another as we are. Opposition senators want to be very sure what they mean when they talk about granting the Gurindjis land rights over a great area of Australia to see who actually has the rights. They have moved an amendment in this form. I believe that they have a viable proposition which we can consider. If they do not believe in it, it is merely a propaganda statement which means nothing but distress, sorrow and destruction for the Gurindjis. Senator Keeffe put his finger on that point when he said that they should be given 35 square miles at Wattie Creek. They have been squatting at Wattie Creek for nearly 6 years, since the communist author Frank Hardy went there and first persuaded the Gurindjis to go on strike from the jobs that they had. The jobs were not very good ones. They were shocking jobs. The conditions should have been cleaned up and improved. Nevertheless they were jobs. The Gurindjis have not had any jobs for 6 years. They have been squatting on the land. The 35 square miles will not raise half a dozen rabbits.
– Who is a rabbit?
– The honourable senator knows it. If he has not been there he should not be talking about it. If the Gurindjis are to be judged by their success or failure at Wattie Creek, the whole of the country will judge them by a failure because the greatest farming geniuses in the world could not make a success of 35 square miles at Wattie Creek.
– You could not catch a kangaroo with a boomerang.
– I would not attempt to do so. If I want to catch kangaroos, today there are better methods of doing that. If the honourable senator is not aware of them, let us reserve the discussion for an occasion when we are not discussing a serious matter. I believe that if we interest ourselves in this problem and if we find out the facts we will know something about the position and we will be better able to help the people. In this context I made an explanation to a State conference of the Democratic Labor Party. A very small section of my explanation was published out of context, and I am reputed to have said that nothing of the Aboriginal culture but their bark paintings was worth preserving.
– I thought that is what you said tonight.
– Senator Cavanagh listens with half an ear. He thought I said that tonight. I said nothing of the sort. Let me tell him what I did say. Let me appeal to him to listen, and he will understand that the Aborigines are no different from us in their evolution. We went through phases in our history when we had an ancient culture. It came from the Druids in England. We had very happy little habits and beliefs. We decided that many people were suffering from the occult. They were witches. We had to find out whether they were witches. We dumped them in ponds. If they did not drown we burned them.
– That is right.
– Is that a fact or is it not? Does the honourable senator know the history of his own race? Of course it is a fact, and he knows that it is. If we leave Cornwall and go to Ireland, for his sake, they were a darned sight worse. We had a lot of lovely little things in our culture - the culture of the European people - many of which we have walked away from and left. As we have become what we consider to be civilised, we have left much of the mythology of ancient generations behind.
– Where is the Minister’s point of order now?
– I wish members of the Opposition would stop squealing. Our Aborigines have a great deal of mythology. That served them well in the environment in which they lived. Today, as many of their young people are receiving what is considered to be a reasonable standard of education, they are walking away from many of the old myths and cultures. A lot of the do-gooders, like the hyenas who laugh in this place at times, are saying that all Aboriginal culture is sacred and that we must stick to the lot. The young people do not want to stick to the lot. The young people are walking away from certain things. As they develop into a different type of society in a different type of environment they do not want to bring with them all the old cultures. When one sits talking to the elders of the tribe under the trees, which is where they want to talk, they listen to this catch cry about Aboriginal culture and they say: ‘But you lake away our culture’. The question is: ‘How do we take away our culture?’ The elders say: ‘My brother, his wife at school in Darwin, and she will not come back.’ His brother is 55 or 60 years of age. The Aboriginal culture gives him rights over a 17-year-old girl who is living in a different environment. I take nothing from him. 1 would not be as clean as he is and I would not be living at his standard if I had had to live in his environment all my life. But the girl at the Aboriginal college in Darwin has no desire to go back and be his wife. She wants to leave that part of the culture behind. The elders say that she must come back and that she must have
Aboriginal culture. I condemn this attitude. I think I am joined by all reasonable senators in condemnation of our forcing them to bring that culture with them.
There are many things in Aboriginal culture, including their bark painting, their carving, their dancing and many of their tribal rites, which will never die. There are other things in their culture which we, if we look at the history of our race, had in our culture. Boys having to prove themselves before they are men and some of the physical things which girls are forced to go through as part of tribal rites are things which, if we leave the Aborigines alone, they will not try to bring with them across the bridge from the environment which they once knew to the environment in which it is inevitable that they must some day live, unless the fools in the Opposition force them to do it. That is what 1 am against. If that is being against the interests of the Aborigines, 1 fail to see it. 1 believe that that is being interested in the Aborigines and fighting for the things that are good for them - not telling them thai they have to leave anything behind but leaving it to them, as they develop, as they become educated and as they get the advantages of the money that will be provided by this Bill, to decide whether to cross the bridge between the 2 entirely different civilisations. If we leave them alone, they will do the job with our help. We should not force upon them anything of their culture or their mythology or anything else. 1 claim that if we leave them to their natural evolution they will automatically leave behind many of the things which today may be precious to their lives, particularly to the. lives of their elders. They were the sort of things which helped to sustain them in the environment in which they were forced to extract a living - which they did - and which would have caused many other races and many other nationalities to disappear from the face of the earth.
– But we can help them.
– Having said that without any assistance from those who are endeavouring, with the puniness of their knowledge of the subject and with their lack of real interest in what is good for the
Aborigines, I draw attention to the fact that Opposition senators are trying to gain political capital by saying that the ‘Government is bad and is racist and that they, who have seen the light of a White Australia policy only a year or two ago, are the purists now.
– We will be pure after listening to you tonight.
– The honourable senator can have a different view from mine. I do not blame him for that. I would not expect he and I to think alike on this subject. He is too busy attacking the Government and saying that its approach has been wrong because in the last 5 years it has not created a miracle to solve a problem that will not be solved within the lifetime of this generation or the one that will follow. It would be a miracle to solve the problem in such a short space of time.
– But we can help.
– Of course Opposition senators can help. If they expect too much they will destroy the Aborigines. If all they can see in it is a political football to kick around they will not make a contribution. I justify that statement by referring to the amendment which the Labor Party has seen fit to move to a Bill which will grant money to the States to meet an immediate and foreseeable need. In making available that money the Government draws attention to the large increases in costs in this area. There have been large increases in costs in all areas. So, comparing figures, this grant is not as large as it looked initially. It may or may not be large enough. From my investigations 1 know that much of the health problem up there is not due so much to a shortage of money to get doctors but to a shortage of doctors who will go there and to a general shortage of doctors in Australia. Supplying more money will not overcome that problem. I make that point to illustrate that the pouring in of money is not the solution to a problem such as this. We need to have a clear idea of what is required before we spend the money.
I come to the criticism of the Bill contained in the amendment moved by the Opposition. The amendment wants us to condemn the Government because of its failure over a period of more than 5 years to exercise full and direct responsibility in Aboriginal affairs. I do not think the Government has full and direct responsibility. I think it has a great responsibility as it represents the whole of the Australian people, but its responsibility is no greater and no less than the responsibility of the lot of us put together. I believe that what this Government has done is within measurable reach of what any other government would have done at this time, whatever its political complexion. Immediately it had the right and the power, there was no use in rushing out and voting so many millions of dollars. For what purpose would the money be voted? An organisation had to be created. Some foundations had to be put down before we started to build an edifice. These things cannot be done in 5 minutes.
The amendment moved by the Opposition condemns the Government also for neglecting to consult with the Aboriginal people. In my view, that is completely incorrect. I consult with Aboriginal people wherever I can talk to them. I know that the Government consults with the Aboriginal people. If the Labor Party has any sense, it too consults with Aboriginal people. Because everything that is asked for by the Aboriginal people is not acceded to it does not necessarily prove that there has not been consultation. If there is a change of government in this country, the new government will not give everything to the Aboriginal people that they ask for any more than it will give the pensioners, the trade unionists or anyone else everything that they ask for. The Government is also condemned, according to the Opposition’s amendment, for refusing to restore land rights to Aborigines. As I pointed out, there is a case for the ownership of land by Aborigines. We have to assist them by teaching them to aspire to it, to take a part in it and, when they get it, to administer it in a proper manner. There is no case for dishing out land indiscriminately. Nobody ever suggested that 1 should be given a block of land in Cornwall because my ancestors came from that part of the world. Nor has anybody ever suggested that Senator Poyser, who is interjecting, has an inalienable right to land here or anywhere else. If to some people land rights conveys the idea that merely because a person is born in a country he is born with the right to soil in that country, it is the first time to my knowledge, on a private and personal basis, that that philosophy has existed. Indeed, is I understand Labor philosophy, it was opposed to the land rights of feudal times. If Labor supporters were not opposed to that they ought to have been, because it was Labor philosophy when I was in the Labor Party.
The Government is trying to do something in providing housing for Aboriginal families. A great number of social workers are employed helping the Aborigines to understand the difference between living in the environment that they are used to and transferring to a certain type of house. Some of the houses were not very intelligently constructed in the beginning, but we will learn from our mistakes, because mistakes have been made in that regard. Perhaps the houses themselves have not blended sufficiently the environment that the people who are now living in them are used to with the environment to which we hope they will aspire - an environment which is similar to our own. That is no reason to condemn the Government by saying that it has not tried. There is plenty of statistical evidence which can be found in the Estimates which honourable senators have been discussing to show that the Government has tried in the area of housing and is proceeding along those lines.
The part of the amendment to which I object most of all is that part which charges the Government with indifference to indefensible levels of neo-natal, infant and child mortality, malnutrition and disease. Overwhelming evidence has been collated by the medical staffs that have been provided by the Commonwealth Government that this is occurring. As in all research, in all medical work, we have to establish the problem and the magnitude of it before we can do very much about curing it. Anybody who makes even a cursory examination of the circumstances in which this problem has emerged will find in the process that the greatest responsibility in relation to this aspect of the problem goes back to the environment from which these people come, their habits, the requirements of that environment, and the circumstances in which they had to learn to survive in that environment. Those circumstances, that way of life, can be totally destructive if applied to our type of environment.
These people are now moving into settled areas rather than roaming as nomads over huge terrain. In that environment the children and the infants were regularly breast fed until they were 4 or 5 years of age. As we can understand now from our knowledge of nutrition, in the new environment the children gradually have been lacking the nourishment that was required to sustain them. Their diet previously was supplemented by gathering grass seeds which they chewed as they roamed over vast areas of terrain. They caught lizards, grubs and moths, all of which the infants and very young children ate as they were caught - raw. They obtained a great deal of nourishment from this sort of diet. There was plenty of protein in it. These people are now living in settlements where they cannot roam and gather grass seeds, moths, grubs and very small game such as lizards. 1 am speaking now of the nutritional problem, particularly in the Northern Territory, and the high infant mortality rate. Now they are in settlements where the mothers have no responsibility in this regard because they too are products of the environment, habits and circumstances forced upon them. If the child does not cry from hunger, they think the child is not hungry. Today instead of getting the type of food it used to get, the child gets a cup full of tea which is half sugar. Of course, that stills the pangs of hunger. The child does not cry, but it is not nourished, lt receives no protein and is suffering badly from malnutrition. Of course, it is easily knocked over by the first germ or wog that comes along. Can we blame the doctors for that? Can we blame the mothers? Can we blame the Government? Can we blame anybody? This is what I meant when I made the comment to Senator Keeffe - this business of finding the villain in the piece who is deliberately creating this circumstance is all wrong. While we are busy looking for the villain we are missing the opportunities to help a little in correcting the situation.
In order to correct it, can we take the child away from the mother? Consider the problems that would develop then, not only physical but also mental. These people love their children as much as any other human race loves its children. Perhaps they love their children more because they live closer to them and they will not be separated from their children, whether we like it or not. With all credit to their high standard of intelligence, they quickly grasp the idea of medical treatment. Much more than many races of people who have been caught in similar types of primitive life, although not to the same extreme degree, they submit to medical attention and care. But it is very difficult in some circumstances to even administer the normal processes of modern health, such as the insertion of needles and so on. Everything is all right if the child recovers from a bacl stomach ailment after it has been injected with something, but if the child dies very often the medical man, because of the mythology of the tribe, can be blamed in some way. We have to get over this sort of prejudice before we can really get down to treating the people. These are all enormous difficulties. The problem that we are discussing now occurs most frequently among the Aboriginal race in the remote parts of Australia.
The first basic requirement in the solution of this problem was to collate the statistics that have been collated under the direction of this Government by its medical officers in the Department of Health. All credit should be given to the departmental officers, yet they are the first to be condemned because the babies are dying. Probably similar statistics have never been collated before in the history of mankind, namely, statistics relating to people so recently emerged from a primitive environment. Nobody has ever dared to get the. statistics of the infant mortality rate which our people are doing in the Territory. Certainly the magnitude of the figures is alarming and an effort has to be made to reduce them as quickly as possible, remembering at all times that what is entailed here is a vast programme of education which will need the co-operation of all political parties - and no villains, thank you. I do not believe that this Government or whoever sits on the government benches would deliberated try to hold back the progress of these people and their emancipation in their march towards a way of life that we hope some day will be immeasurably better for them. I hope we do in the manner I have suggested, without politically trying to find footballs to kick around to our own advantage, claiming that we would do more than the others would. If we have a sensible suggestion let us put it forward, no matter who may happen to be in authority at that time. Let us feel for these people, let us try to analyse arid to look for what really arc their problems. Even in the educational field, let us not expect too much. I deplore the fact that in presenting this to the people of this country through the Parliament of this nation we hear read long lists of Aborigines who have been charged with this or that petty offence or something else. I can understand an attempt being made to blame the police or other authority for being in some way responsible for the fact that these people were in that position. But do honourable senators not realise that this can badly affect the whole effort which these people are genuinely making and that they too have problems just as we have?
Only a couple of days ago there was an exhibition by some alleged entertainers who came to this country from the foundation of our own civilisation and who behaved themselves in the main cities in such a way that although they were guests we had to throw them out after they had been here only a little more than 24 hours. Who could imagine any Australian Aborigines behaving in such a manner? Does anyone think he helps the people of England simply by reciting the cases of people of that kind? Certainly there are many Aborigines, as there are others in the Australian community, who for diverse reasons are incarcerated in gaols from one end of Australia to the other for short or long periods of time. It does no good for the cause of emancipation of Aborigines that members of Parliament should say how the gaols are stacked with these people. Those who make such statements simply want to have a snide shot at the authorities. The police have to do a job for the rest of the community and, after all, we are responsible for them because we pay their wages. We would not have a civilisation worth living in if we did not have a supervisory law and order force of police to ensure that the laws of this country, great and small, are observed and that offences against the laws, petty or of great magnitude, are sheeted home to those who commit those offences.
One of the first steps towards the emancipation of any people caught in the circumstances in which our Aborigines are caught is to know and understand those people. 1 believe that the laws of this nation are reasonably sympathetically administered in these areas. 1 have seen many instances of that even when major crimes have been involved, I deprecate the fact that much of their problem comes from the lack of their capacity to deal with a social evil in our community - alcohol. In the country centres over-indulgence may result in someone spending a night in the cells for being disorderly and causing somebody else inconvenience. But in the case of those other Australians like ourselves who live in big cities it may result in the destruction of innocent lives. Somebody under the influence of alcohol gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and uses it almost as a lethal weapon - and in the process kills somebody. I do not think that concentration on the fact that some Aborigines have to spend a night in the cells because they have seen too much of the moonshine in any way helps the cause of Aborigines - even if one gets the personal satisfaction of having a snide shot at members of the police force, who probably would not have wanted to put them in the cells but have an obligation to carry out their duty to the rest of the community.
I believe that the Bill before the Parliament will enable die Government to grant to the States money which at this time will provide some assistance to the States to deal with their own individual problems on the Aboriginal question. I would hope that as we learn more of the problems we shall never at any future time be held up for want of money when the requirement can be shown that there is a practical possibility of assistance for this problem in any way at all towards its ultimate success and the successful emergence of these people as an integral part of the Australian community. I for one hope that they will bring with them those things in their culture which will benefit mankind as a whole and Australians in particular to a better way of life; and that we shall be sensible enough to let them leave behind those things that will not help them and which will not help us if introduced into our community.
– I did not propose to join in this debate but having heard Senator Little I think it is absolutely essential that somebody should bring the debate back to a level of responsibility. Senator Little has cried crocodile tears for over half an hour in relation to Aborigines. He accepts no responsibility on behalf of the European race for the conditions under which Aborigines live today. He claims that if Europeans had not come to this island the Aboriginal race would be almost extinct. What a lot of nonsense. They were here for 25,000 years before we came here. If honourable senators want to look at the statistics they may see that the period could be even longer than that. But what did we do? We came to this country and we took all the lush hunting areas from them. In Victoria we were very gentlemanly about it; we poisoned their water holes; we sent people out on shoots at weekends and awarded prizes for the person who got the largest number of Aborigines. We were very sophisticated because we got the Aborigines away from under our feet very quickly in the history of Australia.
The same thing was done in Tasmania; the Tasmanians put the last surviving Aborigines on an island without food. We took them from their lush island that would have been good for them to continue to live on. What did we do with them? The remaining few that were not shot or poisoned we put on an island to starve; that is where the last of the Aborigines of Tasmania finished. What have we done right around the whole lush area of the Commonwealth? We have forced the Aborigines into the centre of Australia, forced them into areas where food is scarce, where they cannot live. What have we done to them in the Northern Territory and in Cape York Peninsula? We have allowed the major mining interests in the world the right to go into those areas and to take all the wealth out of the ground - and the Aborigines will not get one penny as a share. But for the efforts of the Reverend Clint and people like him who worked in the interests of Aborigines in that area they would be denied everything.
Yet the Senate has heard the pious nonsense which Senator Little has talked tonight in relation to this kind of situation. Senator Little is interjecting and I tell him that if he wants to hear the facts of history let him listen to them. What did we do to the Aborigines when we came to this country? We brought every filthy disease that was previously unknown to them; we have made prostitutes of them both in relation to ourselves and the people who minded the areas in the north and who dived for pearls. Now Senator Little is talking nonsense, saying that the time is not opportune to do something for them, that money alone will not do this kind of thing. When members of the Opposition protest about this and when people talk about it, Senator Little says that we are making political capital out of it because we want to do something for them.
– That is rhetorical nonsense, because you do not prove any of it.
- Senator Little says he cannot blame the Government because it is doing something for them. It is true that their children are dying at a higher rate than ever before in history. Do not blame the Government for that because it takes many years to get the statistics to prove it, and it takes many years to show that the increase in mortality is going on all the time. This was proved in this house only in the last fortnight. Who is responsible for this? We are; we have done this very thing. We have forced the Aborigines into the most barren parts of Australia where there is the least food - and Senator Little says they may want to stay there.
– Very often these things-
– I do not mind a few interruptions.
– I will give you the pattern of the tribes and the way they move. They have always lived there.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! You should address me and try to convince me, Senator Poyser, if you cannot convince someone else.
– That is true. It is impossible to convince Senator Little, who went on and on as he tried to make a case for the Government in relation to this legislation.
– It was a racist speech.
– There is no doubt that it was a racist speech. Senator Little referred to the fact that the Opposition’s amendment relates to a failure to act over a 5-year period. I remind the Senate - Senator Little may have forgotten - that full rights to control the welfare of Aborigines were granted to the Commonwealth 5 years ago. We are in the situation tonight where the Senate has half baked legislation before it which members of the Opposition have been asked to support and which we want to improve by way of the amendment which we have submitted to the Senate. It annoyed me to hear the claptrap which was spoken by Senator Little tonight about what has been or has not been happening.
– Does the honourable senator have a history of crime figures for Aborigines to present?
– I do not have any crime figures for Aborigines or Europeans, but I do recall that a person by the name of Namatjira was thrown into gaol for 6 months because he dared to give one of his children a drink of wine. Would Senator Little like to be in a similar position?
– I do not know that the honourable senator’s facts are right about the giving of one drink of wine.
– It may have been 3 glasses of wine or 5 glasses of wine. The point is that this Australian, whose people owned the country before we took it from them, was thrown into gaol for 6 months because he dared to give his family a drink. No doubt Senator Little has done the very same thing on many occasions.
– I do not know whether the honourable senator has his facts right.
– That is basically the crime he committed. On appeal - the appeal was conducted by the late Ashkanasy - the sentence was reduced to 3 months. Namatjira was given that sentence because he dared to share the food and liquor he was able to obtain because he was successful as a painter. We had those laws for years. It was only two or three years ago-
– Why do you blame the Government for that? There were Labor governments which had those laws, too.
– Irrespective of what government was enforcing the laws, it was wrong to do so and the honourable senator knows that it was wrong. Despite that, the honourable senator rose in his place and defended this kind of nonsense tonight.
– I say it is wrong.
– If I am interrupting your speech, Senator Little, I will sit down.
– I am only giving you what you gave me. Don’t squeal.
– I did not interrupt your speech at any time.
– If you say you did not, 1 will absolve you from any responsibility for doing so, but you must have had a few mates.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order!
– The point is that this legislation does not go nearly far enough and this is known by everybody throughout Australia. Senator Keeffe quoted a Minister as having said: ‘We will move into Queensland and take certain action if the Government in that Stale is not prepared to alleviate the problems that the Aborigines of that State are facing’. The Commonwealth now has the power to do so. I have not seen any amending legislation coming from Queensland. I do not know whether Queensland has moved in this direction. The Government, by this legislation, is continuing to treat Aborigines as second class citizens. It wants to keep them as second class citizens yet to be a do-gooder towards them so that it can say: ‘Look at what we have done for the poor Aborigines’. That is the very attitude which the Government is adopting tonight. The collective blame for the problems of Aborigines belongs to us all. It belongs to everyone of us, including my father and his father before him - I am a fifth generation Australian. To stand up and talk the pious nonsense that was spoken tonight and to say that this can happen and that can happen and that maybe in 100 years - not in the next generation but in the generation after that - we might solve their problems is so much humbug. I hope that we will get down to some reality in the future in relation to the real causes of the problems Aborigines face and not just stand here and carry on like a lot of missionaries trying to save the souls of people whom we have destroyed by our very actions.
– in reply - I rise to close the debate on the motion for the second reading of this Bill. The Bill is in terms very short. It provides for the granting to the States of the sum of SI 4.5m for the purpose of the advancement of the welfare of Aborigines. The context in which this Bill has been brought to the Senate is a continuing programme by the Government to advance in a variety of ways the welfare of Aborigines in this community. As has been stated, but to a large extent ignored in the course of this debate, the Government will be providing some $53m this year for approximately 140,000 Aborigines. Indeed, when one adds to the $53m which the Government will be providing the $!2m which the States themselves will be providing out of their own resources one gets an appreciation of the very significant monetary effort being made to assist Aborigines in a variety of ways. I understood Senator Little to indicate that money was not really the sole problem; yet I did not understand him to-
– It is not the only one, but we do not want to ignore it. I did not suggest that.
– I did not understand Senator Little to be regarding it as insignificant. I am in agreement with Senator Little on the general point that, whilst the Government must give every earnest of its intention by being prepared to expend moneys to assist where assistance is required, possibly more fundamental questions, lying in the approach we have and in the appreciation we must give to what are the proper standards and what is the proper ethos in relation to Aboriginal advancement, are of equal if not greater importance.
The purpose of this Bill is simply to provide monetary assistance to the States. It is to be viewed in the context of the overall Government programme which has been advanced. It is a continuing programme. It is a programme of cooperation. It is a programme of seeking greater understanding, lt is a programme of taking steps in the hope that they will be productive and developmental. No-one can be sure that the course we are taking will, in the long run, be the most satisfactory course for the Aboriginal people or for their relationships with the rest of the people of Australia, but it is an effort which must be made and it is an effort which stems from a conscience which the Australian people have in an enlightened age with respect to activities which occurred a century or so ago between our forebears and the forebears of today’s Aborigines. It is a sign of the times, and I think a mark of our society, that this type of conscience does exist. What we must guard against is this conscience leading us into taking any and every step which is suggested by people who claim to have the welfare of the Aboriginal people at heart but who, far from having their welfare at heart, are merely using them in a variety of ways as steps to achieve the realisation of other objectives.
We have heard from Senator Mulvihill and Senator Bonner who, in their different ways, expressed their views on this proposal. The Government acknowledges the assistance which Senator Bonner, who is himself an Aborigine, provides to (he Government Parties and to the Government’s appreciation of Aboriginal problems. He briefly identified himself with the programme which the Government is pursuing and generally indicated his agreement with its proposals. Of course, we had the usual aberrations which we have come to expect in this chamber from Senator Keeffe. I regret that Senator Keeffe uses this place as a forum for the expression of so many views which lack the basic foundation to give them credence and which I think destroy the effectiveness of any argument he might have in areas of real concern to himself. Senator Keeffe asked a number of questions. I have obtained some information which may be of assistance to him. I point out that Senator Keeffe came into this debate for the purpose of speaking for over an hour on this Bill, although he was not present during the earlier debate and has not been present since he finished speaking. But the moneys received in regard to certain matters about which he asked - the sale of artifacts, fines, rent for Stale houses, etc., all of which are State matters - are, 1 believe, paid into Consolidated Revenue, and they would be paid into Consolidated Revenue in Queensland. For the houses which the Commonwealth Government rents, the rent is paid into the Aboriginal Housing Trust Fund, and this money is used for the maintenance of the houses and lo build further houses. I think it is interesting to note that in Queensland alone the income derived from government investment in Aboriginal housing, in providing homes for Aborigines, amounted to approximately $100,000 last year. As 1 have said, that money is used for the maintenance of houses and for building further houses.
With regard to Thursday Island, which was another area in respect of which Senator Keeffe made a number of general allegations, the fact is that some 60 acres of land has been released by the Department of Defence, and the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland will be acquiring the area of land which is required for the building of [slander homes. Senator Keeffe was critical of the Government’s approach to Torres Strait Islanders. He threw in the usual allegations that we expect from him, such as that the Government was uninterested. If he himself was interested he would appreciate that the measure which he said one could never expect from the Government is in fact currently on the notice paper of the House of Representatives, and I hope, as the Government hopes, that that measure will be passed in this session. The effect of the measure will be to ensure that Torres Strait Islanders receive the benefits of the normal repatriation and war service home provisions which all Australians receive.
Senator Keeffe raised so many matters which have to be corrected, yet it seems a pity that the time of the Senate has to be taken to correct the rantings in which he engaged. The fact is that Commonwealth houses are available for purchase on approximately the same terms and conditions as are ordinary Housing Commission houses. Contrary to the general allegation, approximately $12,000 was made available in Queensland last month for the previous year for direct grants to the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, and that figure was matched by a further $12,500 in direct grant to the Service via the State programme. Indeed, far from it being suggested that Aborigines are not provided with any legal aid at all, last year a sum of SI 00,000 in direct grants from the Commonwealth was provided throughout Australia for legal aid for Aborigines. Far from it being true that not one Aboriginal is studying at a university, if only Senator Keeffe had been prepared to read the second reading speech and not utilise the occasion of this debate to give expression to preconceived ideas, he would have found that there was a vast programme of assistance in the education area. There are 29 Aborigines studying at universities and there are 9 Aborigines undertaking other tertiary education. I concede - this was stated in the second reading speech, and the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) has conceded this - that this is a small number, but it represents a distinct improvement in the situation.
– Until we improve baby health and the health of the minds of children at a very young age, Aborigines will never have the capacity to do university education. These 2 things are inter-related.
– I agree in general with the sentiment which Senator Little expresses, and the Minister himself has recognised this. Again, the second reading speech acknowledges the point which Senator Little now draws to my attention. It states:
Funds have been provided to the States - and in some cases by direct grants also - to meet a variety of educational needs ranging from the construction of, and the provision of equipment for, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, to the establishing of residential hostels in the cities and major towns so that students from rural areas may be able to continue their education beyond the primary level. In discussions with the States it was decided that one of the main targets to be aimed at in the educational sphere during this year would be the further development of preschools and pre-schooling facilities so that Aboriginal children would be suitably prepared for entrance into the school system. Provision is being made to achieve this aim.
I do not repeat the second reading speech in detail, but an indication of the general programme in education matters which the Government has been following is set out in considerable detail. I mention these things because I do not believe that it aids an understanding of the approach which the Government is making, nor does it aid an appreciation in an objective way of what the Australian people as a whole are trying to do, for Senator Keeffe to come into this place time and time again and to parade a lot of erroneous statements designed to create the impression that this Government is doing absolutely nothing. I appreciate that Senator Keeffe, who is a past Federal President of his Party, would like to see his own Party in power. I can appreciate that he would wish to attack the Government at every conceivable opportunity. But I do not believe that in regard to the welfare and advancement of the Aboriginal people it reflects to his credit o* to his Party’s credit that he should use a lot of mis-statements in order to found a case which is not to be sustained on the record.
No-one can question that, since the Government received the power in 1967, a tremendous advance has been made in a great number of areas. I think of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, the establishment of the Aboriginal Trust Fund and the assistance - specifically monetary - which has been given to enable Aborigines in a variety of ways to develop and build up their own identity. These matters should not be ignored, and it ought not to be suggested that the Government is without any policies in regard to the way in which it would seek to assist the Aboriginal people. I think that one of the most significant documents ever delivered by a government with regard to the welfare and future of the Aborigines of Australia is the document which was delivered on 26th January this year by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). 1 think all honourable senators have received a copy of this document which is entitled ‘Australian Aborigines - Commonwealth Policy and Achievements’. It is more than a statement of policy and achievements; it is a charter, which I think will survive for many years, as to what are the Government’s aspirations with respect to the Aboriginal people. I do not believe that the time of the Senate is wasted by repeating what I believe a number of people are inclined to forget. The document read’s:
The fundamental objectives of Government policy in relation to Aboriginal Australians are that they should be assisted as individuals and if they wish as groups, at the local community level, to hold effective and respected places within one Australian society with equal access to the rights and opportunities it provides and acceptance of responsibilities towards it.
At the same time they should be encouraged and assisted to preserve and develop their own culture, languages, traditions and arts so that these can become living elements in the diverse culture of the Australian society.
I believe that an examination of the various steps which the Government has taken and which the Government proposes to take indicates that that objective is in the forefront of the Government’s programming. The document continues:
The Government recognises the rights of individual Aborigines to effective choice about the degree to which, and the pace at which, they come to identify themselves with that society; and we believe that they will do so more readily and more happily when they are attracted to it voluntarily and when their membership of it encourages them to maintain and take pride in their identity, traditions and culture.
The concept of separate development as a longterm aim is utterly alien to these objectives.
I think it should be asserted that we desire with respect to our Aboriginal people as with respect to people who have come from foreign countries, this cohesive society in which, notwithstanding some ethnic differences, people can live, together in one society as one people. The concept of separate development has no place in this country. I can only say that 1 feel, for myself, that so much of what comes from the way-out members of the Australian Labor Party in this place, of whom we heard 2 exponents tonight, is a policy which seeks a separate development, an apartheid within Australia.
I notice that Senator Keeffe quoted a Mr McGinness who holds, or did hold, a position with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Association, to which the honourable senator referred. Mr McGinness is on record as advocating a policy of separate development. I think the Labor Party should make it abundantly clear where it stands on this issue, and I hope the responsible element in the Labor Party will be able to correct those within its ranks who would seek to move into an area which could only mean trouble and difficulty for the Australian nation and the Aboriginal people. We should make it clear that we assent the development of one nation. We must endeavour by all within our power to have an integrated community in which the Aboriginal people will feel that they are part of the Australian community and that the nonAborigines of this country will accept the Aborigines as part of their community. The third objective is:
We also believe that programmes to give effect to such a policy must evolve in accordance with the effects of action so far taken and the needs of the times. They must take into account the expressed wishes of Aboriginal Australians themselves.
Indeed programmes will prove ineffective unless Aboriginal Australians are voluntarily involved. The role of governments should increasingly be to enable them to achieve their goals by their own efforts.
Government is not concerned to provide a massive group of handouts in a variety of areas; what government is endeavouring to achieve is the creation of that type of assistance which will enable the Aboriginal people to stand on their own feet. This, of course, requires assistance in a variety of ways. The fourth objective states:
The Government considers that a balanced strategy directed at the essential problems facing many persons of Aboriginal descent requires a programme of action worked out and administered in collaboration with the States which would -
encourage and strengthen their capacity increasingly to manage their own affairs - as individuals, as groups, and as communities at the local level;
increase their economic independence;
reduce existing social and other handicaps facing them in health, housing, education and vocational training; and
promote their enjoyment of normal civil liberties and eliminate remaining provisions in the law which discriminate against them.
The final objective states:
The Government also considers that special measures will be necessary to overcome the disabilities now being experienced by many persons of Aboriginal descent. These should properly be regarded as temporary and transitional in the progress towards our fundamental objectives and should be based upon the need of Aboriginal individuals or groups for special care and assistance.
I hope that those objectives are more than simply the policy objectives of the McMahon Government. They are expressed in language which is capable of being adapted and used by all societies and groups in Australia because they represent fair aspirations to which we should all aspire. They are fair aspirations because they represent what I believe the Aboriginal people themselves would want. I think Australians would regard them as according with their notions of what should be a relationship between all Australian peoples.
So much has been done. This is not the end of Government programming; nor, as I have said, must it be assumed that it is in the long run the only course which can be pursued. But this goes so far to answer the points made in the Labor Party amendment that it is not surprising that there is not a person on the Labor side who was prepared really to support or to expound the points which were made in the amendment which has been moved. We do have a policy under which a new form of land lease, called a general purpose land lease, available on certain conditions to Aborigines as individuals, groups and communities for economic and social purposes, may be granted on the Aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory. These general purpose leases will enable Aborigines to have a greater opportunity to acquire title to land in a form which is recognisable in Australian law. It was considered that recognising a legal right to land on the basis of Aboriginal affinity with the land could lead to uncertainty and possible challenge to land titles in this country. Anyone who wants to appreciate the problems which are involved in Aboriginal affinity with the land has only to read the judgment of Mr Justice Blackburn in the Nabalco case to understand that Aboriginal concepts of relationship to land and affinity with land are completely different from the land use to which we as Australians have become accustomed.
There has been a special allocation to enable land to be bought off reserves as those pieces of land come on the market, and steps have already been taken in that direction, as we are all aware. Grants in addition to existing loans through Aboriginal advancement trust accounts to assist Aboriginal enterprises which have a reasonable chance of success are also aspects of a policy which is currently in operation. Aboriginal communities in the
States have access both to funds for land purchase and to grants, to which I have referred. Consideration is being given to steps which will facilitate the incorporation of Aboriginal communities, strengthen the law protecting Aboriginal reserves and provide explicitly for hunting and foraging for Aborigines. In addition there has been the recently announced programme which is designed to preserve and protect Aboriginal religious and ceremonial areas on and off reserves. The policies which have been enunciated, which have been started, which are in the course of operation and which will develop in the fullness of time are manifold.
I think that all who are interested in this area and who are prepared objectively to examine what the Government has been doing take some satisfaction from the progress already made. That progress is continuing. The Minister has indicated and given his full support to programmes for consultation with Aborigines. A meeting took place recently in Canberra of representatives of the advisory councils of the various Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. This type of consultation is inevitable and it is occurring. The amendment which the Labor Party has moved - and it is significant that Senator Mulvihill as their first speaker was not prepared to move the amendment and it was left to Senator Keeffe to throw it in as some form of adjunct to what he had to say - was not really supported by anything which was said by spokesmen for the Australian Labor Party. I am sure that they have not their hearts in it because they know that they cannot sustain the points which were being made. I hope that the Senate whilst accepting the Bill, as I think is the indication which has been given by various honourable senators who have spoken, will emphatically reject the Labor Party’s amendment.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - Mr President, I wish to make a brief statement as I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister.
– If the honourable senator claims to have been misrepresented he must point to the matter on which he claims to have been misrepresented and not debate the matter.
– The Minister claimed that I produced unsubstantiated evidence. Every document that I produced was signed by an individual, either on his own behalf or on behalf of an organisation. The Minister claimed that Mr Joe McGinness had previously stated that he wanted to see a system of apartheid in Australia. Joe McGinness has never said that in his life.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Keeffe’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
I refer to something which Senator Keeffe said when he claimed that he had been misrepresented. He referred to a Mr Joe McGinness. I had referred to a Mr McGinness in the course of my speech. Lest there be any misunderstanding - there may be misunderstanding and on my part I think there was - I point out that I was referring to a statement attributed to Mr Bruce McGuinness who is well known in Aboriginal affairs. I gather that he is not the person to whom Senator Keeffe was referring and I make that position perfectly clear.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That Government business, order of the day No. 5, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
– I object because again this will deprive me of the 15 minutes which you, Mr President, have ruled that I have remaining in which to complete my speech on the Budget.
– Order! Senator Georges, this does not expunge order of the day No. 5 from the notice paper.
– I know it does not expunge it, but it might as well because this is the fourth time thatI have come into this chamber prepared to speak for those 15 minutes.
– Eighteen minutes.
-I have been deprived by the Government from completing what I have to say. Mr President, you will recall that I was interrupted by being ejected from this place some 3 or 4 weeks ago.
– I think this comes under the heading of bad luck.
– It might be bad luck, but I make my protest now.
– in reply - I thought that we could deal with the Budget Papers 1972-73 and the Appropriation Bills tomorrow.
– That will do me. Provided that it is tomorrow, I withdraw my objection.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1417), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Senator Wheeldon has the call but I notice that he is not present at the moment. I will allow him to be called into the chamber.
– In the circumstances. Mr President,I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate Estimates Committees - Australian Council for the Arts - League of Rights- Estate Duties.
Motion (by Senator Greenwood) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I want to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate merely to enable my colleague to reach the chamber.
– He is not here.
– In that case, now that I am on my feet I will continue with what I want to say. I direct my remarks to you, Mr President. They concern an incident which occurred at a hearing of one of the estimates committees. I was and still am of the opinion that the estimates committees were established in order to investigate formally the estimates and that all honourable senators had equal rights to be members of a committee or to attend committee meetings. I am not being critical of the chairman of the particular committee, who happens to be Senator Davidson, because now my anger has subsided somewhat. 1 will relate the incident. I took my place at the table at that committee meeting, as I believed was my right. The chairman ruled, as is his right, that questioning should proceed around the table. If he wants to extend the estimates inquiry indefinitely the best way to do it is to invite every honourable senator in turn to ask questions. However, it is his right to adopt that course. On this occasion, ques tions having been asked around the table I thought that my turn to ask questions had arrived but he passed me over. When I objected he said that the elected or selected members of the committee had priority to ask questions over all other honourable senators irrespective of the time that they may have waited at their seats at the table in order to ask questions of the Minister or of the public servants in attendance. I ask you, Mr President, to rule on this matter or to give me some advice on it. Do not all honourable senators have an equal right ifthey attend those committee meetings. Is it not right for the chairman to recognise any honourable senator who happens to be present for the purpose of asking questions without there being any preference? I am not raising this argument in relation to standing committees or select committees but merely in relation to estimates committees. 1 put those questions to you.
– I have those questions in my mind. The honourable senator posed an Orwellian situation which will require some analysis and study by me before 1 answer him. I will answer the questions at an appropriate stage.
– For some time 1 have been requesting the Government to become conscious of the need for a higher standard of criticism of the arts in Australia. After making representations to the former Prime Minister, the right honourable J. G. Gorton, on 17th August 1970 Mr Gorton wrote to me saying that the Australian Council for the Arts was at that time considering the possibility of arranging a series of awards for Australian journalists. In April 1971, after having placed a question on the notice paper about this matter, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) representing the Prime Minister inthis place, advised me that the Australian Council for the Arts had been in touch with newspaper managements, the Australian Newspapers Council and the Australian Journalists Association, and had sought the interest and support of leading journalists with experience in the arts. The Minister went on to add that firm proposals had not been formulated at that stage.
With that background I was very interested to read a Press statement issued last Friday by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) in which he announced that 2 Sydney journalists would receive the first Commonwealth Government awards for critical writing stimulating interest in and knowledge of the arts. I am delighted to know that after such a long period the Government has acted on my suggestion but the Minister’s Press statement, issued last Friday, is not only interesting for what it says but also for what it does not say. Let me state, firstly, what it did say. The Minister said that 2 Sydney journalists, namely Mr H. G. Kippax and Mrs Martha DuBose, both employed by the Sydney Morning Herald’, were the successful journalists. He said that the Government had accepted the advice of the Australian Council for the Arts to provide the awards which were to be made annually. He also said - this is the paragraph in his Press statement which I emphasise - that the successful journalists this year had been selected for their work in 1971 by independent assessors appointed by the Council for the Arts. The 2 journalists were responsible for these criticial writings on the arts in 1971. In October 1972, 10 months afterwards and a mere 4 or 5 weeks before an election, the Minister announced that the award had gone to these 2 Sydney journalists, both of whom are employed by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, and he said that the successful journalists had been selected by independent assessors.
The Minister did not mention on this occasion, as he has done almost invariably on every other occasion, that the awards were made on the recommendation of such and such an advisory body. In fact on this occasion the advisory panel appointed to consider the recommendations recommended a sharing of the senior award. I understand that it recommended that the award made to Mr Kippax, the senior award, should be shared between 2 journalists. As I understand it, the Australian Council for the Arts recommended to the Minister the sharing of the senior award by 2 journalists. I understand that it recommended Mr Kippax, who is named in the Minister’s Press statement and who is employed by the
Sydney Morning Herald’, and Mrs Maria Prerauer, who is employed by the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ and ‘Sunday Australian’ group.
The Australian Council for the Arts, I am informed, made the recommendation some months ago but the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts sat on the recommendation for months. Then he made a decision and rejected the Council’s recommendation that the first prize be shared between Mr Kippax and Mrs Prerauer. The Minister, on his own initiative, decided to ignore the recommendation of the Australian Council for the Arts. By his decision alone he decided to give the award only to Mr Kippax of the Sydney Morning Herald’. I do not detract in any way from the journalistic ability or skill of Mr Kippax. I admit that he is a man of tremendous capacity. But I think that the Minister is being unjust and unfair to Mrs Prerauer when he says that the successful journalist this year had been selected by independent assessors appointed by the Australian Council for the Arts. In fact, the independent assessment panel had recommended not one award but 2 awards for the senior award.
If only one award were to be made, why did the Minister take it upon himself to make the choice when the panel and the Council had recommended that the awards be shared? I suggest that he could have referred the matter back. But he did not refer it back to the Council or the panel that had originally made the recommendation. The very great fear about this sort of decision is that political patronage will become the determining factor in all future awards if this Government is allowed to remain in office. I assure the Senate that those who are interested in the cultural development of Australia and who want to see Australians who have these outstanding skills, talents and abilities use them in their own country are very concerned about this type of arbitrary decision being arrived at by the Minister. It flies in the face of a recommendation of the panel that was appointed originally to make the recommendation and also flies in the teeth of the recommendation of the Australian Council for the Arts. The Minister, in making his decision, has ignored the full recommendation of the panel that was set up. He has ignored the recommendation of the Australian Council for the Arts. He has taken it on his own bat to approve of one award instead of 2. In so doing he himself has determined who will be the winner. He is just making a complete and utter farce of the appointment of an advisory panel and indeed of the Australian Council for the Arts if it is to operate under these circumstances.
I personally congratulate Mr Kippax, but I also commiserate with Mrs Prerauer. 1 feel sorry for all those who took part in the recommendatory hard work. I say to the Minister and to the Government that it is about time that the Australian Council for the Arts was given a proper charter drawn up effectively after discussion with all those interested in the creative and performing arts of this country. It should be given a proper charter under which it will work and perform its functions rather than merely have to rely on guide lines that apparently are set out in some ministerial statement that has been made in the Parliament and which, as far as I know, has not been debated in the Senate. I assure the Minister that feelings are running high within the Australian Council for the Arts amongst the creative and performing people in this country who are feeling, to say the least, very frustrated. The community is becoming fearful of the manner in which decisions of this nature are being made if this is the standard that is to be set by the Minister.
– I rise to speak in what I think is my maiden speech in an adjournment debate. I do not ask for any of the usual dispensations or allowances that apply to maiden speeches because what I have to say actually is said in the hope of provoking from some authorative members of the coalition Government an answer to what has become quite a vexing problem. We on this side of the Senate - and, I am sure the public at large - have become confused as to the real attitude of the members of the coalition Government towards the fascist body known as the League of Rights. I do not use the word ‘fascist’ loosely. I know that words sometimes are tossed around a little loosely by the pro tagonists of law and order who sit opposite, especially the word ‘communist’. My authority for using the word ‘fascist’ as applied to this body comes from none other than a leading member of the coalition to whom I Wil refer n a few moments. Howeven, unfortunately for clarity of the definition, this is not the only voice we hear from the coalition. We have, for example, the view of Mr Anthony, the deputy leader of the coalition who speaks rather equivocally on the matter. Certainly one might assume from some of his utterances that he is quite clearly against the League of Rights and regards it as a reprehensible organisation. For instance, we have as a guide what he said at the annual conference of the South Australian branch of the Country Party held at a place called Nuriootpa - I am indebted to my colleague Senator Cavanagh for the pronunciation - on 6th August 1971. I ask the indulgence of the Senate to quote briefly what Mr Anthony said on this point:
At this point may 1 refer briefly to a matter which has been given some prominence in the press in South Australia recently, that is the activities of the League of Rights.
The claim was made here by Mr Clyde Cameron that the Country Party was ‘a creature’ of the League 1 want to make it quite plain that Mr Cameron’s rather extravagant claim is wrong. I want to dissociate the Country Party from any connection with the League of Rights.
I want to warn country people of the dangers of becoming involved with this movement, which is certainly trying to capitalise on the serious difficulties in which country people find themselves at the moment.
I understand that Mr Anthony has since claimed that these difficulties have disappeared. He was speaking in August 1971. He went on to say:
The League of Rights also is trying to ‘horn in’ on the Country Parry’s own objectives, and use the Country Party along with other organisations as a means to push its own views.
If we were to rely only on that as an expression of Mr Anthony’s views, I would suggest that it was a clear enough statement of where the deputy leader of the Government stands. However, under pressure from some members of the Country Party and some people whom he evidently hoped would vote for him he resiled somewhat from that rather positive view on another occasion. On 9th September 1971 he said in answer to a constituent:
I refer to your letter of the 1st September 1971 concerning my reply to a question asked of me during the recent conference of the South Australian Country Party. The statement to which exception has been taken is my comment that in the past the League of Rights tended in its ideas to be anti-semetic, pro-nazi and racialistic.
Very few people have questioned my use of the terms ‘anti Semitic’ or ‘racialistic’ but they have questioned my use of the term ‘pro nazi”. The term pro nazi* may have been an inappropriate expression. It was based on the anti Semitic and racialistic ideas, resembling those of the Nazi party, which have appeared in earlier publications of the league.
As strong exception seems to be taken to the use of the phrase ‘has tended in its ideas in the past to be pro nazi’, I have no wish to persist in its use.
However, another authorative member of his own Party, Mr Sinclair, was a little more forthright. Speaking at the Wesley Church forum in Melbourne in August of this year Mr Sinclair is reported in the Daily Telegraph’ of 21st August 1972 as follows:
He went on to say:
The picture becomes a little muddy when we consider the views of that great Queensland democrat, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, who, as we know, is under slightly more pressure from the activities of the League of Rights, who went to the extent of having this organisation investigated and who is on record as having said:
Some of their policies are just a rehash of ours.
He has a wife who reminds me in a way of the wife of the ex-Attorney-General of the United States - a rather loud-mouthed woman named Mrs Mitchell who was constantly embarrassing her husband. She was a little less diplomatic than Mrs BjelkePetersen.
– That was Martha the Mouth.
– That is right. I do not know exactly what they call Mrs Bjelke-Petersen. She is on record as saying:
The League’s policies on anti-communism and raising the morality of the community are good.
Then we come to another prominent member of the Government, Mr Nixon, who is the Minister for Shipping and Transport and who is alleged by Mr Jeremy Lee, the Queensland Director of the League of Rights, to have dissociated himself from Mr Sinclair’s attack. Although Mr Nixon has since denied that he has dissociated himself from Mr Sinclair’s attack, he has not publicly endorsed his Deputy Leader’s remarks. To muddy the waters further we have the views of a Queensland Country Party back bencher, Mr J. Corbett, who is on record as having said:
A lot of very fine people who support the League worked for me in the last election.
He denied that the organisation was in any way anti-semitic or pro-Nazi. We come to the recorded words of the Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood - that enthusiastic although rather selective upholder of law and order. A publication, which gives rise to my remarks tonight, called ‘On Target”, copies of which may be inspected in the Parliamentary Library, is a weekly commentary produced by the League of Rights, which has the very praiseworthy slogan which I am sure will commend itself to the Attorney-General: ‘The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance’. I am glad that Senator Greenwood is present to hear my remarks because I think that he, of all members of the Government, is the one who is called upon the most to introduce some clarity in these dark places, in the interests of the Australian community, and to state that both the major parties are dedicated to the upholding of democracy and are in no way tainted by - I cannot remember the exact words of Mr Sinclair - this fossil from the past, this ugly spectre of fascism. Senator Greenwood is reported in this publication as having written a letter to Mr Eric Butler. The Minister will not need to be reminded who Mr Butler is. I think the Minister has acknowledged that he has heard of Mr Butler. Senator Greenwood is alleged to have said in a letter to Mr Eric Butler dated 5th October:
So far as I am aware the Australian League of Rights is not engaged in activities that are proscribed by law and in that context it is capable of being described as a ‘reputable organisation’.
The same publication, in a further reference to the Attorney-General, quotes a question asked by another great democrat of this institution, Senator Little, who I am sorry to see is not in his seat. The document from which I am quoting states:
On Thursday, 14th September, Senator J. A. Little from Victoria, placed the following question on the Senate notice paper: ‘Has the AttorneyGeneral’s Department any evidence to indicate whether there is any substance for an allegation made by the Honourable Ian Sinclair that the Australian League of Rights and the Nazi Parly are closely linked? The Attorney-General has to date not answered this question, simply because he would have to say that there is no substance whatever in Mr Sinclair’s allegation.
Knowing the honourable senator as we do and knowing his reluctance to uncover right wing activities, contrasted wtih his eagerness to sniff out anything at all suspicious on the Left, 1 am inclined to think that at this point al least we on this side of the chamber would have to agree with the prediction made in the document that we will not get an answer from the Attorney-General to this question. Incidentally, by way of comic relief, another edition of this weekly commentary which I examined in the Library this afternoon - the issue of 23rd June of this year - while praising Senator Greenwood for one of his more egregious law and order statements went on to criticise him and his Government for following what is referred to in the publication as Marxist finance economic politics. We on this side of the chamber do not ask the Attorney-General to disclaim any addiction to Marxist finance economic politics. That is not the purpose of my speaking tonight. What I really want to know is this: In a statement which is attributed to Mr Hunt, a Minister of the Government, which statement is referred to in this publication and which is alleged to have been made at a place called Perenjori in Western Australia, Mr Hunt is alleged to have said certain things. I am indebted to my highly literate colleague Senator Wheeldon for the pronunciation of Perenjori. I quote from the 20th October issue of the League of Rights journal again. It reads:
THE HON. R. HUNT ON HIS DEPUTY
LEADER: On Monday, October 2nd, the Hon. Ralph Hunt, Country Party Minister for the Interior, addressed a meeting in Perenjori, Western Australia. In discussion after the meeting Mr Hunt told the League of Rights supporters that Mr Eric Butler and The League of Rights were doing a good job and that he had at one time subscribed to The ‘New Times’ for 3 years. Mr Hunt expressed the view that the communists were behind the Ustasha business. . . .
We have heard similar suggestions from the other side of the Senate recently. Maybe the source of that information is the same as Mr Hunt’s source - that is, the League of Rights. The article continues:
Mr Hunt expressed the view that the communists were behind the Ustasha business and the agitation for Aboriginal land rights.
We heard echoes of that today. The article continues:
When asked why had his Deputy Leader, the Hon. Ian Sinclair. Minister for Primary Industry, attacked the League of Rights, which was doing so much against communism. Mr Hunt replied that Mr Sinclair had been ‘brainwashed’. It is a pity that Mr Hunt was not asked who did the brainwashing.
There is a suggestion later on that that is the result of some Jewish conspiracy. Even with this protestation Mr Hunt does not earn the unequivocal admiration of this Nazi-Fascist organisation because evidently he does not always speak with the same voice. The articles continues:
Like many modern politicians, Mr Hunt is a man for all seasons. His favourable words about the League of Rights at Perenjori, expressed when he knew he was in the middle of a group of League supporters are rather different from his blatant misrepresentation of Mr Eric Butler and Mr Jeremy Lee, at a Wellington, NSW meeting when he attacked them for going around the country advocating ‘unlimited printing-press money’. It should also be recorded that Mr Hunt was quick to make it clear to The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ that he had not dissociated himself from the Sinclair attack on the League by writing lo Mr Lee following Mr Lee’s resignation from the Country Party. All that he had done was to express regret that Mr Lee had felt it necessary to resign from the Country Party.
The question that I would like answered - I am sure everybody on this side of the Senate would like it answered - is this: What is the official and authentic attitude of the coalition Government to the League of Rights? Is it the attitude of Mr Anthony and if so, which Mr Anthony - the Mr Anthony who at Nuriootpa sounded rather categorical in his condemnation of the League of Rights or the Mr Anthony who found it necessary to square off to a constituent who was a little put out by his comment? Is it the view of Mr Hunt, and if so which Mr Hunt - the Mr Hunt of Perenjori, or the Mr Hunt of Wellington, New South Wales? Perhaps it is the more unequivocal view of Mr Corbett, that Queensland intellectual I quoted a little earlier. Is it the view of Mr Bjelke-Petersen or the slightly more forthright view of Mrs Bjelke-Petersen? Is it the view of Mr Nixon?
Is it the view of Senator Greenwood, and if so which view of Senator Greenwood? We know where Senator Greenwood stands on the matter of the Ustasha: His attitude is that there is not one. We know where he stands on matters such as the Communist influenced left wing unionists Australian Labor Party. He is quite forthright on these matters. Some of us might say that he is inclined to be a little loquacious on these matters. But what is the official line? What is Senator Greenwood’s line on the League of Rights? Is it possible that the answer to this question depends on where the answer is given - whether it is given in Perenjori, in the Wesley Church or in Wellington, New South Wales, or does it depend on who he is talking to and has it, perhaps, nothing to do with principle whatsoever?
– Last Wednesday the Senate, in Committee, took a great deal of time discussing the Estate Duty Assessment Bill. During much of that time, because I was occupied in my capacity as Chairman of Committees, it was quite unethical for me to attempt to reply to some statements that were made during that debate. However, late in the evening a situation occurred in which Senator Douglas McClelland, in pursuing an argument, was let to quote from the policy of the Country Party. I intended to rise to speak to this matter on Thursday night and I informed Senator Douglas McClelland of my intention. But owing to a combination of the selerity with which the President adjourned the Senate and my aging knees - my being rather slow to rise - I missed the opportunity of correcting the statement made by Senator Douglas McClelland. (Honourable senators interjecting)
– I know that the Senate is in a good humour tonight. I was interested that Senator James McClelland referred to his maiden contribution on an adjournment debate. This also is my maiden contribution on an adjournment debate. However, to get on to the matter under discussion, certain parts of the policy of the Country Party in relation to taxation were quoted by Senator Douglas McClelland. I suggest that because of pressure of time and because he came into the debate late - I believe originally he did not intend to come into it - he did not sufficiently research the subject on which he was speaking. An injustice has been done to the Country Party in relation to its policy by what now appears in Hansard. I take this opportunity to correct what is a wrong interpretation of Country Party policy. That error was aggravated because Senator McLaren chose to interject:
No mention of abolition.
Senator Douglas McClelland replied:
No mention of abolition, no mention of relieving hardship on the widow . . . merely a mention of minimising the estate duty.
I have taken the trouble to obtain a photostat copy of the relevant portion of our policy and, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate it in Hansard so that there will be a clear understanding of Country Party policy in relation to taxation. (The document read as follows) -
The Australian Country Party supports theapplication of taxation at the lowest level compatible with the financing of national obligations and the maintenance of private initiative and borne equitably by all sections of the community but with minimal use of indirect taxation where the effect is to increase the cost of production.
The use of taxation -
to assist the development of Australia’s natural resources;
to encourage an even distribution of Australia’s population throughout the continent.
Taxation incentives, including concessions, rebates and depreciation allowances to enable efficient expansion in rural and export industries.
The application of taxation so as to encourage individual initiative, enterprise and stimulate private capital investment.
The provision of maximum relief for the taxpayer with family responsibilities.
The encouragement of improved productivity through concessional allowances and taxation rebates on the acquisition of new plant and machinery and on money spent on research and development.
The application of taxation concessions -
to minimise the cost of education and medical and hospital expenses to persons living in isolated country areas;
to offset the dissolution of stud properties and family rural estates to meet probate duties;
to minimise the incidence of death duties so as to avoid the necessity for the forced sale of family property where the estate is left to the wife and children of the testator;
to offset the effects of national disasters to primary producers.
The maintenance of the ‘averaging system’ for primary producers at a reasonable level.
The continuance of the optional system of self-assessment for provisional taxation.
The progressive lessening of death duties towards their abolition.
– Whereas Senator Douglas McClelland replied that there was no mention of abolition, clause 9 of Country Party policy states:
The progressive lessening of death duties towards their abolition.
Senator Douglas McClelland chose to state:
I have a copy of the 1972 policy of the Australian Country Party. Page 36 of that policy. . . .
That is the page I have had incorporated in Hansard. Unfortunately for Senator Douglas McClelland, he was quoting from the policy published in 1966, and there has been no official alteration to that publication. So the policy from which he was quoting way the 1966 policy, not the 1972 policy. So that the record may be put completely straight, let me say that in 1971 the Federal Executive of the Australian Country Party, which is the senior body in relation to policy matters, passed this resolution:
That Federal death duties be eliminated forthwith.
That is the current policy of the Country Party with regard to death duties. I raise this matter because there could be a complete, misunderstanding of Country Party policy in relation to death duties if the matter were not corrected. I am not suggesting for one moment that Senator Douglas McClelland deliberately misquoted our policy. In the time at his disposal it may be that he did not read as thoroughly as I think he might have the policy of the Country Party.
This leads me to comment on something that was said by Senator James McClelland on the matter of the alleged association of the League of Rights with the Country Party. It has been variously stated by writers on the subject - there have been many published studies of the vagaries and the peculiarities of the League of Rights - that the League of Rights has an influence on the Liberal Party. It has even been said that members of the League of Rights are also members of the Labor Party. I have no doubt that this is true. I have no doubt that the policy of the League of Rights is to infiltrate all parties, and it certainly has made attempts to infiltrate the Australian Country Party. But Senator James McClelland engaged in a very pleasant little exercise in attempting to demonstrate some variations in attitude between various members of the Country Party - mainly in varying degrees of condemnation, it must be admitted, of the League of Rights.
– And some approved, Senator.
– I doubt whether any approved completely. Some statements could have been interpreted as approving some part, but if one looks at the various publications of the League of Rights one will see that it espouses a great variety of causes.
This sort of exercise, of course, could be repeated by other parties perhaps in relation to the Australian Labor Party. We could draw attention to some variation in thinking between Dr Patterson and Mr Whitlam in relation to the question of revaluation and we could ask: What is the attitude of the Labor Party towards revaluation? We could also draw attention to the opinion expressed by Dr Patterson on the ability of the Labor Party to have anything intelligent to say about rural policy. I can recall him saying on one occasion that there was hardly anybody in the Labor Party who knew anything at all about rural conditions. I am sure that he had never heard of Senator Primmer, for instance, who I think has considerable knowledge. But, if we like to pursue this sort of question, we can determine some very strange inconsistencies in various statements that have been made from time to time by members of the Labor Par:y.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee B, together with the minutes of the proceedings. I also table the Hansard report of the evidence taken, and I move:
That the report, together with the minutes of the proceedings, be printed.
– Are you in order in doing this during the adjournment debate?
– Order! I will deal with the interjection in a moment. Senator Davidson, you must seek leave.
– I seek leave to move a motion in respect of the report of Estimates Committee B.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
- Mr President, may I seek leave to make a personal explanation?
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
No, I do not claim to have been misrepresented. I seek leave to make an explanation arising out of remarks made by Senator Prowse.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I merely seek to say that before I quoted from the policy of the Australian Country Party last Wednesday night I made inquiries of the Parliamentary Library as to what was the latest copy of the official policy of the Australian Country Party in the Parliamentary Library. The document that was provided to me was the document from which I quoted. It now appears, from what Senator Prowse has said, that it was the 1966 policy of the Australian Country Party and not the 1972 policy of the Australian Country Party. Might I suggest to both the Australian Country Party nd the Parliamentary Libary that a copy of the 1972 policy of the Country Party be made available in the Library?
– I will see the Parliamentary Librarian and ensure that this is done.
– Mr President, I regret that I was unable to pay Senator Georges the compli ment of being in the. Senate when he raised a matter in relation to a hearing of Senate Estimates Committee B. I understand that he sought your guidance and ruling on a particular matter. I, too, will be grateful for your decision on that. To help you reach it I would take, the liberty of inviting you to look at the record, and I would like the opportunity to make a very brief submission to you so that you may take all factors into account before reaching your decision. Senate Estimates Committee B met on Thursday 19th October at 12.35 p.m. and sat until the luncheon adjournment. If you, Mr President, will study pages 507, 508 and 509 of Hansard you will see there was some discussion as to the method by which that Committee should arrange its general procedure for an examination of the estimates relating to the Post Office. At the top of page 509 you will see that as a result of the various representations that were made to the Chair I indicated to the Committee that we would try to examine the estimates line by line and if this proved to be cumbersome, I suggested to the Committee, we would come to a group discussion. We then proceeded with the hearing until the lunchtime adjournment.
Upon resumption after lunch the point was put to me by the Minister, Senator Greenwood, that it probably would be a more effective way, instead of doing the examination line by line, to take the matter in groups, and in this particular case a reference to a discussion of what was then the receipts in groups. This I accepted and the Committee accepted. If you, Mr President, will look at page 510 you will see that I made the observation that I had passed 2 senators on my left who had been operating under the line by line process; they were Senator James McClelland and Senator Mulvihill. Thereupon we decided to take the discussion of the estimates in groups and this procedure was followed around the table until I reached the last of the members of the Committee who were sitting on my right.
At this time Senator Georges indicated that he wished to ask some questions and it was then that I took the line as Chairman that before any senator who was not a member of the Committee asked questions, I should give the 2 senators on my immediate left the opportunity to discuss the total group, because they had confined their questions to a line by line discussion. At this point of my ruling on it, to which he objected, Senator Georges left the Committee room. I leave it at that. You, Mr Chairman, have heard the submission which Senator Georges has made. I invite your attention to Hansard of the Committee hearing and to my own representations this evening, and, with Senator Georges, I would welcome your firm decision for the guidance of chairmen of committees in future.
– To make the situation a little more confusing, it at all possible, and to allow you. Mr President, to have all the facts that you can possibly get with regard to this hearing of Estimates Committee B-
– I took the precaution of describing it as an Orwellian situation.
– I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I too was present at this hearing of the Committee and that I am not one of those senators who have been nominated to Estimates Committee B. My duty confines me to Estimates Committee E but I was interested in the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department and because Estimates Committee E was not meeting at the time Estimates Committee B was discussing the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department, I crashed the hearing which is possibly the way to describe my appearance at that hearing. I came at the beginning of the investigation of the Postmaster-General’s accounts and took a place at the table. Knowingly or unknowingly. Senator Davidson, as Chairman, accepted me as a member of the Committee and allowed me to ask questions in the rotation around the table. I think it was on the basis that I had already established a precedent by asking a question that Senator Georges felt aggrieved when it came to his turn and he was not allowed to ask his question. So I think it is necessary, Mr President, that you have all these facts hi your mind when you are making a decision. It seems to me that any senator attending any meeting of a committee should be given equal rights, but only those senators who are appointed to the committee are the ones that can determine a report which is then sent to the Senate at a later stage.
– Without unduly delaying the proceedings 1, too, wish to tell all in this saga of misunderstanding. The story started the night or the day before the incident which has been referred to. 1 took umbrage, perhaps rather caustically, at the order in which Senator Davidson was allowing senators to ask questions. I said very bluntly to Senator Davidson that 1 wished there would be a consistent application of ground rules. I felt that Senator Davidson had some inhibitions next day when Senator James McClelland and I, who had yielded - I think that is the term - came back into the play. With this ingredient, Mr President. I think you have the complete picture.
– Order! Before 1 call the Attorney-General to close the debate 1 would like to make this statement: Although the Senate has no grievance day as it exists in the other place, the adjournment debate in the Senate is the normal time when senators can express their grievances. There has grown up a habit, which is not in defiance of the Standing Orders, of introducing new matter in the adjournment debate in the context of the business of the Senate. I deprecate this practice and I would like to see it cease.
, as indicated in his Press statement of 20th October, that awards by the Commonwealth Government for critical writing had been granted to Mr H. G. Kippax and Mrs Martha DuBose I am sure that the Minister will read what the honourbale senator has had to say.
I would have thought however, that the difficulty to which he has given expression arises from the fact that the Council, which was not the body which had the power of making the decision - because that was the Minister’s power - in some way must have given the information publicly that certain persons had been recommended for an award. That not only causes embarrassment to a person who might be informed that he or she was recommended for the award - I do not think there is any doubt that embarrassment of that character can be caused - but it also leaves the situation open to the implications and the suggestions which Senator Douglas McClelland raised. I think that in the circumstances in which Mr Howson has to make a decision he must apply a critical judgment. I am quite sure that if Senator Douglas McClelland were ever to be in a comparable position he would feel that he had a proper ministerial role to cast an eye over recommendations which were made to him.
I think it is unfortunate that this matter has been given publicity in the way in which it has been, but I am sure that , if Senator Douglas McClelland wishes to take the matter up with the Minister he would find that the Minister would explain to him his reasons. I suggest that he might do that. I am sure the Minister will read what the honourable senator said. The Minister has to make his decision and he has to make it on standards which are to him proper standards. As I said, it is embarrassing and unfortunate that publicity was given to a situation which, for the proper functioning of Council recommendations where the Minister makes the decision, ought not to have been given any publicity prior to the decision being made.
Senator James McClelland referred , I think in a somewhat contrived and strained way , to some links which he believes exist between certain Government members and the League of Rights. I thought that the evidence which he adduced was a fairly selective group of statements made by some Ministers with respect to the League of Rights. Out of those statements he sought to establish a connection. Of course, we know that there is an unfortunate and deplorable tactic which some in politics engage in of
– Guilt by association.
– . . . establishing guilt sometimes by accusation and at other time by association. I sense that Senator Wheeldon’s interjection indicates that he is alert to the problems which Senator James McClelland has created for his own side by the sort of tactic which he has engaged in today. In the first place, he referred to a letter written by me which apparently has been published in the League of Rights journal. I do not know what the League of Rights journal says because I do not receive it. It may be that Senator James McClelland does receive it. Possibly bis own Party will ask him at some stage for an explanation as to why he does. But I do not receive it. All I can say is that the particular passage he read was a passage quite out of context and that he should have read the full letter. Moreover, he might be interested to know that the specific quotation which he made from my letter was in answer to a particular question which was asked by Mr Butler when he. wrote to me. I think he would agree that it is appropriate for a Minister to reply to correspondence which he receives. 1 reply to correspondence 1 receive from members and officers of the Communist Party and the Socialist Party of Australia, as I do to correspondence I receive from the League of Rights. That is only an appropriate way of dealing with correspondence.
All I can say with regard to the League of Rights is that Senator James McClelland would know full well that I have expressed quite firm and clear views on it in the past. He would know that because he has asked me questions on it in this place and has received answers to them. I should have thought that he would have referred to those answers if he was interested in getting a different view on the League of Rights from the view which he attributed to me in the context of the letter which he quoted. All I can say is that on the basis of earlier statements made by me in answer to his questions, I assure him that League of Rights officers, officials and members do not regard me as being sympathetic to them. I think that the general pattern which is to be found in the statements to which Senator James McClelland referred is a pattern of disagreement with a very significant number of the policies of the League of Rights. I should have thought that that would be the general position with which all members of the Senate would agree.
I believe that there are policies to which no self respecting Australian would subscribe, but that is not to say that every item of policy and every expression of opinion to which the League of Rights has given vent is to be condemned. After all, there are some views of the League of Rights, as there are some views of the Australian Labor Party, with which people would not disagree. Every political party has some facade - of course, the Labor Party has it - of so-called attractive policies that are designed to induce others into the Party. The really important point which I think has arisen from what Senator James McClelland has said is not what the Government thinks of the League of Rights. It is not necessary for the Government to explain its view about the League of Rights because that has been done. The important thing is: What does the Labor Party think about the League of Rights?
– We think it is a fascist organisation.
– Senator Poyser comes in and says it is a fascist organisation. He has called the Democratic Labor Party - our colleagues in the Democratic Labor Party - a fascist organisation too. He is inclined, with that lack of discrimination for which he is noted, to regard most persons and parties with whom he disagrees politically as fascist. There is a curious mentality among the Left in this .country to regard those with whom they disagree as fascist. 1 am interested to know what the Labor Party would do about the League of Rights. Does the Labor Party concede the right of the League of Rights to exist in this country^ or would it ban the League of Rights? Does it follow the view that Senator O’Byrne has expressed in this chamber in the past, that he would simply send back to Yugoslavia all Croatians who would like to have an independent Croatia? Is that sort of authoritarianism - the authoritarianism which Mr Whitlam has often acknowledged exists in his Party - the type of authoritarianism which would rule the Labor Party if it ever came to office?
What would it do with the League of Rights? Is there a spokesman - not tonight because I have to close this debate, unfortunately; but some other night - who would say whether or not the Labor Party would ban this organisation? Or would it say, as this Government says, that organisations which do not breach the laws of this country have a right to exist, because that is what we understand by freedom of association?
– But not a right to our approval, senator, as Mr Hunt has approved them.
– Senator James McClelland is quibbling, I see. He is not prepared to come out positively and say - because after all he cannot speak for all his colleagues in the Labor Party on this issue - that the Labor Party would not deny the right of this organisation to exist.
– Yes, 1 am. We would not ban them, but we would not speak in their favour.
– He says that, but I wonder how many other members of his Party are prepared to say it, because they are singularly quiet. I think a lot of Australians are fearful of this authoritarian streak within the Labor Party and of how far it would go in giving vent to its opposition to a number of bodies and persons. I for one, whilst I accept what Senator James McClelland personally has said, am not at all convinced that the Labor Party would not come down with a heavy hand on organisations like the League of Rights to which it objects. I concede it has every right to object to the .League of Rights. It may conceivably want to object to the DLP and ban it because it certainly would like to eliminate its role in the Parliament and deny its members the right to have representation in the Parliament. There is a host of migrant organisations which are simply shivering at the prospect of what the Labor Party would do with them. There is a tendency to guilt by association or guilt by accusation which runs through the Labor Party’s attitude.
What Senator James McClelland attempted to do tonight was to use a smear of linking the Government with what the
Labor Party regards as a fascist organisation. I say to him that if he is prepared to use that tactic and to regard it as justifiable, then surely he and his Party ought to be judged by the same tactic. For example, what would the Australian Labor Party say if I were to speak of the Communist Party as honourable senators opposite have spoken of the League of Rights? What if I were to refer to the communists who are in control Of unions, which unions determine who shall be delegates to Labor Party conferences and which conferences determine who shall be members of Parliament and who shall comprise the Federal Conference and the Federal Executive as the controlling bodies of that party? I would say that there is a link there between members of the Communist Party - and a host of other revolutionary left wing groups - and the Australian Labor Party. I would suggest, for example, that there are many significant members in the Australian Labor Party today who were past members of the Communist Party and about whom there should be a question mark as to whether or not they might be secret communists. That suggestion ought to be positively exposed and denied.
Then we have to look at the common policies of weakening our arbitration system and of denying the public interest which is involved in the approach of both the Communist Party and the Australian Labor Party to the conciliation and arbitration system of this country. We then have to look at the fact that the Communist Party invariably gives the Labor Party its preferences at elections.
Opposition senators interjecting -
-I wonder whether Hansard could get down all of those interjections. This always interests me because, when I hear the bedlam which I have just experienced from the Opposition. I feel that there must be a lot of truth in what I have been saying because it has been hurting a lot of people in their vocal chords. I have not finished because 1 suppose that the greatest implication of the link between the Communist Party and the Labor Party, if one wanted to establish it in this same guilt by association method which Senator James McClelland used, is to point to the Labor Party’s support for communist aggression in Vietnam - the support for the North Vietnamese Government which is backed by Communist China and by the Soviet Union - and to the attitude which would favour victory in South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese against the South Vietnamese, the Loatians, the Cambodians, the Americans and all our allies to our north who have engaged with us in supporting the right of self determination of the South Vietnamese.
It is quite a story which is revealed by the record of such a link between communists and Communist Party members and members of the Australian. Labor Party. I am interested to know: When will the Labor Party deny the Communist Party on some issue? When will the Labor Party explain itself? After all, if these accusations which are attributed to me are made from time to time, surely someone might be prepared to come out and clear the record. But no, this is not done and I accept it. Members of the Labor Party say that one should not engage in the tactic of guilt by association, and I agree with that. I just wonder why Senator James McClelland engaged in that tactic tonight. I only use this by way of response to suggest to him that if he wants to throw the old smear of making an accusation and imputing guilt simply by association of a most intangible character, then there is a vastly’ stronger case which the same tactic will enable me and anyone on the Government side to use against the Labor Party because I assure honourable senators opposite that the links to which I have referred are much more tangible. There is no question that there are persons within the Labor Party who have communist associations and who are interested in supporting the Communist Party in an undercover way. That is not the view of the Labor Party as a while, and I do not make that accusation. But I assure honourable senators opposite that if Senator James McClelland’s standards are to become the standards by which political judgments are to be made in this country, then I am quite sure that the Labor Party will be the first Party to be exposed for what it is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.29 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT - The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Central Secretariat Division - Nil.
Economic Affairs Division - Nil.
Government and Legal Affairs Division - 1.
The Papua New Guinea Public Service Board has informed me that women are employed at the senior level in the following Departments of the Papua New Guinea Public Service:
Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries - 4.
Education - 4.
Public Health- 4. Treasury - 1.
No women are employed at the senior level by Papua New Guinea statutory authorities or in the relatively small fields of public employment on Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Under the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, the promotion of officers to departmental positions under the Permanent Head is the responsibility of the Permanent Head and the Public Service Board, rather than the Minister. It would therefore not be appropriate for me to intervene in departmental staffing matters or attempt to influence particular promotion decisions.
Men and women have equal opportunities to serve is higher positions in public employment in Papua New Guinea, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD - The Minister for Immigration has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have received advice about the number of migrants in migrant hostels and the periods for which they have waited in the hostels before obtaining employment. The advice is that things have been better than normal throughout this period.’
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the article to which Senator Mulvihill refers, the question of appropriate entry channels is raised. I am informed that at Heathrow Airport there is provision for 3 entry channels through which persons entering the United Kingdom may pass. These channels are for use, respectively by:
Commonwealth citizens, including those carrying Australian passports, would ordinarily pass through the second of these 3 entry points although it has happened on occasions that Australian passport holders have been asked to approach the third of the channels because the
Commonwealth channel has not been manned at the time, or to help in expediting the clearing of passengers from the immigration control point. (2) See answer to (1).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
Is the Department of Supply carrying out research into the manufacture of fragmentation bombs and similar devices designed to cause death and injury to persons. rather than to property and machinery; if so, are the bombs similar in type to those used by the military forcesofthe United States of America in Vietnam.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. As indicated inthe 1972 Defence Report the Karinga air-dropped weapon is being developed for use against material targets and is not designed to be used against personnel, while the research work on fragmenting warheads is applicable to warheads for existing weapons.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Is the non-inclusion of contraceptive pills in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme due to a decision of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee or to the Government.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
As the honourable senator is aware, nodrug or medicinal preparation may be made available as a pharmaceutical benefit without a recommendation to that effect from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
The Committee has made no recommendation to list oral contraceptives as a pharmaceutical benefit.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Are members of the Australian bases in the Antarctic seldom given the opportunity to vote in Australian elections; if so, will the Minister take immediate action to institute appropriate measures to ensure that provisions are made for all eligible persons stationed in the forthcoming Federal Election for Members of the House of Representatives.
Senator COTTON- The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There are no means of conveying voting material to electors at Australian bases in Antarctica except by ship. The first ship to Mawson and Davis is scheduled to depart Melbourne on 7th December 1972 and the first ship to Casey is scheduled to depart Melbourne on 5th January 1973. Persons at these bases will not be able to vote at the forthcoming elections. Non-voters notices will not be issued to the persons concerned.
The first ship for Macquarie Island in subAntarctica is scheduled to depart Melbourne on 14th November 1972 and is due to arrive back in Melbourne on 30th November. Australian electors going to Macquarie Island will be able to record their votes before leaving Australia while electors returning to Australia would normally be able to vote upon their return. To meet the possible contingency of the late return of the ship to Melbourne, postal voting facilities will be made available at Macquarie Island.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The washing machines offered as lots 37, 38, 45, 55, 65, 66, 117, 119, 130 and 178 bore a certification ‘uneconomical to repair’. All machines had rusty bowls and none were in a working condition. The majority of them had burnt out motors. Similarly the water coolers, refrigerator and fan were also in very poor condition.
The prices obtained were considered reasonable in view of the poor condition of the equipment. Further I am satisfied that sufficient warning was given to potential buyers of their condition.
Reserve prices were not placed on the articles.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Heavy mortalities of pearl shell occurred at the time of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ grounding but the reason for these mortalities has not been determined.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
As I understand it, the Tasmanian workers have identified a certain type of fat-like substance known as ceramide which is produced in the body at times of stress, and through its effect on the blood is said to increase the chance of a sudden, severe heart attack. In such patients a high blood cholesterol level is not considered by these workers to be disadvantageous.
On the other hand, the majority of cases of coronary heart disease are less severe in nature, and it would seem that, in these, associations with high levels of blood cholesterol could, with justification, be viewed with concern.
I am advised that it is not possible at this time to rule out cholesterol as a factor in coronary heart disease. This view is supported by the National Heart foundation. I am further advised that research over many years has demonstrated that high blood cholesterol levels are strongly associated with coronary heart disease, although I concede that association, in itself, is not evidence of a causal relationship.
I consider this early report to be of considerable interest to the medical profession. I look forward to receiving details of the Tasmanian study and would be pleased to make these available to interested senators.
– On 13th September 1972 Senator Gietzelt asked the following question without notice:
Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior ask his colleague to investigate urgently the reasonable request by the New South Wales Penal Reform Council that prisoners in gaol during the forthcoming general elections be allowed to record an absentee vote. Is he aware that the New South Wales Electoral Officer has stated in a letter to the Council that there are no plans to provide for a postal vote for such prisoners on polling day. Will he ask the responsible Minister to give consideration to allowing prisoners to exercise their voting rights, especially as responsible members of the Penal Reform Council have offered their assistance to prison authorities in such activity.
The Minister for the Interior has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The Commonwealth Electoral Act does not make provision for voting by persons confined to prison.
– On 17th August 1972 Senator Devitt asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science:
I direct a question without notice to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science who, I understand, has responsibility also for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Is the Minister able to give to the Senate any details of acquisition by the Commonwealth for the use of the CSIRO of the property at Humpty Doo formerly operated by the United States entrepreneur Mr Art Linkletter. Can he provide to the Senate details of the acquisition and the purpose for which that property is now being used?
The Minister for Education and Science has now provided the following information:
In 1959, Territory Rice Ltd, a company formed by a syndicate and incorporated in New South Wales, was granted a lease over 53,000 acres of land in the Humpty Doo area. Mr Art Linkletter was a member of that syndicate but no leases were held by him in his own name.
As part of the lease agreement between the Commonwealth Government and Territory Rice Ltd, the company set aside an area of land within its holding for rice research and made available existing machinery, labour and buildings to help begin the work. In return, the Commonwealth Government, through the Northern Territory Administration (NTA) and CSIRO, undertook to carry out rice research of broad significance to Northern Australia, while paying attention to the problems facing the company, and to pass on experimental results for the benefit of the company. The Commonwealth also agreed to provide the staff and additional facilities required to begin the research programme, and to meet all subsequent costs. As a result ‘of these arrangements, the Coastal Plains Research Station (CPRS) began operating in 1959 jointly under NTA and CSIRO.
In 1963, Territory Rice Ltd ceased operations because of production and economic difficulties, and the lease was transferred to Adelaide River Ltd, a company formed by the creditors of Territory Rice and incorporated in .the Australian Capital Territory. Adelaide River Ltd could not continue operating for similar reasons and surrendered its lease to the Commonwealth in 1965. Humpty Doo Station is now Crown Land.
Over the years the rice research programme has demonstrated that there are serious agricultural and economic limitations to the establishment of a viable commercial rice industry on the subcoastal plains near Darwin.’ ‘‘Following Ministerial acceptance of proposals for the future of CPRS put forward by an inter-departmental committee, CSIRO is now re-directing its rice, research to the Ord Valley, and the NTA plans progressively to develop pasture and animal husbandry research at CPRS
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19721024_senate_27_s54/>.