27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10 a.m.. and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister tell the Senate, as far as he can. what advances have been made towards achieving peace in Vietnam?
– All I am disposed to state at present is that unusual diplomatic activity is quite evident in this regard. The Government welcomes any advance towards the conclusion of negotiations that might lead to a cessation of hostilities but has made it clear that this must not be at the expense of South Vietnam’s right of self-determination. Further than that, of course,I do not involve myself in anything in the cabled reports of this morning.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Has the use of mercury compounds as a seed dressing been prohibited as from March 1973? Is the use of hexachlorobenzene for this purpose also prohibited? If so, what alternatives are available to wheat growers? What steps are being taken to ensure that the available alternatives are cleared for registration in time for treating seen wheat of this season’s crop?
-I usually answer a question on wheat but I do not think I can answer this one.I ask the honourable senator to put it on notice and to let me try to get an answer for him this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. What is the Government’s attitude to proposals for a feasibility study of prospects of obtaining oil from Australian coal, including brown coal available in large quantities in the Gippsland area of Victoria? Will the Government study the paper on this sub ject that was delivered at the World Petroleum Conference in Moscow last year?
– A lot of work has been done on this matter in this country, and honourable senators will recall that a substantial plant was set up for the production of oil from shale at Newnes in the Glen Davis area of New South Wales. There is, I think, a coal research development activity within the Bureau of Mineral Resources of the Department of National Development which has done work on the extraction of oil from coal and also on underground gasificacation.I would like to go further into this to see what information is available, and I will get it for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Aside from the negotiations between the Premier of New South Wales and the Prime Minister on the release generally of Sydney Harbour foreshore land, has he seen the plan, revealed by Alderman Shehadie, for an Olympic Games complex in the Sydney Sports Ground area, which depends largely on the relocation of the Army engineers depot at Moore Park? Can he tell me whether this agreement can be affected even if the Moore Park Army engineers depot transfer is unduly prolonged?
– No,I cannot do that. To be perfectly frank and blunt, so far I know only what I have read about the concept of the project. I have seen comments by advocates of it and I have seen adverse comments about it on the basis of concentration of activity. I have seen the reference to a spur railway to the area. I am only as informed as the honourable senator. I shall seek to obtain some information. If it is not available by the time we rise, I shall certainly have it conveyed to the honourable senator when it comes to me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is it generally admitted by the Government that some means tested benefits and pensions are underclaimed? Has the Government any plans, other than by Press advertisements, to ensure that persons eligible for pensions claim what is rightfully due to them?
– It is becoming apparent that there are a number of persons who have entitlements under the legislation for social service benefits and who have never claimed such entitlements.I think that yesterday I gave to the Senate some indication of the tremendous increase which has come about in recent weeks in applications for pensions. Of course, these applications have been occasioned by the extension of benefits which the recent Budget has produced. Quite apart from that, there is a continuing body of evidence that numbers of people have these entitlements but for one reason or another - possibly because they are unaware of them or possibly because on principle they do not want to exercise their rights - they have not made a claim. Advertisements have been tremendously useful in informing persons who are unaware of the benefits that they have an entitlement. But, apart from that. I am not aware of any programme which the Government has. Nevertheless, I shall convey the honourable senators question to the Minister for Social Services.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I preface it by reminding the Minister that on 29th August lastI asked him whether he would make available to the Parliament details of the number of people likely to be leaving school and joining the labour market in November and of the estimated number and types of job opportunities likely to be available to them.In reply to the question the Minister answered yes. I now ask him why that information has not been made available. Can the information be provided to me within the course of the next fortnight?
– I do not know why the answer has not been made available. I shall make every endeavour to see that the information is made available to the honourable senator as early as is convenient.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether his colleague has made any statement which refutes the allegation that the decision in relation to the use of timber sleepers as opposed to concrete sleepers was a political one. Will the Minister disclose the facts of this matter to the Senate?
– Last night a statement was made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport whom I represent. Of course, it is available to all honourable senators. But I shall outline the 3 clear decisions which the Minister made and to which he referred in his statement. His decisions were, firstly, that timber sleepers will continue to be used in maintenance replacement work by Commonwealth Railways on the Trans-Australian Railway while price and social factors are comparible: secondly that tenders will be called for both concrete and timber sleepers when sleepers are required for construction of the proposed Alice Springs-Tarcoola standard gauge railway; and thirdly, that discussions will be held with the South Australian Government before any decision is made on sleepering of the proposed new standard gauge railway to link Adelaide to the new east-west standard gauge line. The Minister goes much further than that. He draws attention to various comments on figures and the confusion in the interpretation of those figures. The statement is quite a long one. To save the time of the Senate I will not add any more. Copies of the statement are freely available.
– My question, directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, follows the question asked by Senator Webster. I ask: Is it not a fact that the South Australian Premier has made representations to the Minister for Shipping and Transport pressing that concrete sleepers be used on the Trans-Australian Railway and also that a policy should be adopted to use them now on the new connection between Adelaide and Port Pirie? Is it not also a fact that concrete sleepers are accepted internationally as being more suitable than timber sleepers for modern railway construction? Has the Government now considered the representations of the State Premier?
– I do not have a copy of what the Premier of South Australia said to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Indeed I do not have a copy of what the Premier of Western Australia might have said to the Minister. But I shall seek to find out the information for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I wonder whether, off the cuff, the Minister can give me the background of the 6 recently appointed conciliation commissioners, whose names were announced in the Press this morning.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: As the Government has announced a policy related to a national highway system, will the Minister make public or available to honourable senators the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on this subject? Also, in view of the report by the Expert Group on Road Safety, which identified the importance of safe roads in reducing accidents, has the Minister sought or received a report from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on the matter? If so, will he make this report available to honourable senators or make it public?
– Both of these requests will be directed to the responsible Minister.
-Is it desired to post pone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
– No.I am hoping that we can proceed with expedition.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– I move:
This Bill provides voting rights for 18- year-olds.
(10.18) - For the reasonsI have given on the last 3 mornings the Government will resist the motion:
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided- (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Ayes .. .. ..21
Noes . . . . 26
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Pursuant to the provisions of the
Services Trust Funds Act 1947-1950 I present the annual reports of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund, the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund and the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with the reports of the Auditor-General on the books and accounts of the funds.
Ordered that the papers by printed.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for
Health) - For the information of honourable senators, I present a report of the fourth quinquennial investigation as at 30th June 1969 into the state and sufficiency of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– Pursuant to section 35 of the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Act 1971, I present the report on the operation of the Act during the year ended 30th June 1972.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a statement in relation to the conventions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 52nd session in 1968 and 53rd session in 1969.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators,I present the report of the Australian delegation to the International Labour Conference 54th session - 1970.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report of Commonwealth financial assistance given under the 1964, 1965 and 1968 Technical Training Acts.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Pursuant to section 5 of the States Grants (Technical Training) Act 1971, I present a statement setting out the payments that have been authorised under this Act during the financial year 1971-72.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– Pursuant to section 9 of the States Grants (Teachers Colleges) Acts 1967 and 1970,I present a statement setting out the payments that have been authorised under this Act during the financial year 1971-72 and specifying the projects in relation to which the payments have been so authorised.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– Pursuant to section 5 of the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1971, I present a statement of schools assisted under the Act for the year ended 30th June 1972.I move:
– I rise briefly on this motion simply to observe that these papers have been presented to the Senate at a time after the House of Representatives has finally risen for this Parliament and at a stage when the investigations of the Estimates committees of the Senate have been completed. Each of the reports which have just been presented contains matters of considerable significance to the finances of the Commonwealth in relation to the States. I ask the Minister whether he can explain briefly why these important documents, which relate to the financial year which ended on 30th June, last, were not presented earlier to the Senate.
– 1 respond to the question by saying that our Estimates committees provide opportunities which enable any honourable senator, not merely a member of the Committee, to seek any of this information as to which he has the energy to formulate a question to the Committee. This is a presentation of the formalised accounts for the financial year, but the actual information with relation to any of the matters mentioned in the reports would have been readily forthcoming from the 15 or so officers who were present at the Estimates committee meetings. 1 have no doubt that these papers were presented to the House of Representatives before it rose, and if it so wished 1. have no doubt that it could have found further time before it adjourned to consider them. I think the Senate would be quite conscious of the fact that during this last session the information that has been available promptly before Estimates committee meetings has been remarkable not only in its comprehensiveness but also in the prom mess of its availability.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– ‘Pursuant to section 24 of the Metric Conversion Act 1970-71 I present the second report of the Metric Conversion Board for the year ended 30th June 1972. Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the reports of the Tariff Board on pyrethrum and magnet winding wire.
Pursuant to section 12B of the Tariff Board Act 1921-1972 I present the Tariff Board Report on parts for ball point pens by-law.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1969, 1 present the 13th annual statement on the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30th June 1972.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators, 1 present a Financial and Statistical Bulletin on the Activities of the Australian Post Office for the year ended 30th June 1972.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– Pursuant to section 13 of the Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Act 1968, I present the 4th Annual Report by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs on the administration and operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1972.
Ordered that, the paper be printed.
– by leave - On Wednesday last. Senator Keeffe directed a question through you, Mr President, to me in my capacity as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. The question concerned the company Nickelfields of Australia (NL) currently in liquidation in Queensland and whether this Committee had ever listed the company for investigation. The answer to this question is that during 1971 there was a very long list of matters which the Committee had drawn up for consideration of types of abuses or trends within the securities industry and for possible future inquiry. Nickelfields was one of a large number of such matters, lt has always been the Committee’s practice to select for investigation only examples which appeared to have some novel aspect not previously covered in the Committee’s inquiries. I might mention that the Committee has received upwards of 1,000 letters from the general public, as well as from senators and members, requesting it to investigate various matters. The matter of Nickelfields was discussed by the Committee on 1 1 th October 1971 and the Committee has since then, on a number of occasions, sought further information in relation thereto. Such information has been obtained from the Company Registrar, the official liquidators and company officials.
On the matter of investigation by this Committee, and after full consideration of the Committee’s list of possible inquiries, it was decided last December that there was nothing in the evidence available to the Committee to indicate any aspects novel to the inquiry being conducted by the Committee. Bearing in mind that the Committee is not a regulatory authority but rather a Senate Committee with specific terms of reference and bearing in mind the importance of reporting as soon as possible as to the types of abuses, and other matters within its terms of reference, it decided that it was undesirable to undertake new inquiries. Accordingly, I reported to the Senate in my statement of 9th December 1971: . . that bearing in mind the need to proceed with the preparation of its report, the Committee believes that it should not delay that by continuing its inquiry into these further areas without a specific direction from the Senate so to do.
That remains the position, Mr President. Our time this year has been taken up in verification and clarification of evidence and submissions formally taken by the Committee, in the obtaining of further documentary evidence and with numerous hearings associated with that verification and clarification. It has also been concerned with statistical and economic analysis of stock exchange and stockbroking data, the checking of many facts and figures and the drafting of large sections of the report. The Committee firmly believes that to do otherwise would result in an unsubstantiated and ill-informed report which would do rather less than justice to the important task with which this Committee was charged by the Senate.
Senate committees can and should fulfil a most important task of finding facts and trends and commenting and making recommendations in relation thereto. My
Committee trusts that its report when presented will add substantially to the sum total of knowledge of the securities industry in Australia and will enhance the public debate and consideration of the matters included by the Senate in its terms of reference.
I present the 20th Report from the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– I present the 43rd report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, being a general report upon the activities of the Committee since its 38th report.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - I move:
I understand that there is some possibility of the order of the day concerning the discussion of committee reports being restored to the notice paper in the new Parliament. I therefore move this motion to give the Senate in the next session its first opportunity for some time, other than on a motion for disallowance, to discuss the work of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I have had the honour to serve on this Committee as Chairman and am now in my 20th year of such service. I have been a member of the Committee for approximately 23 years and during that time many famous political identities have served on the Committee. I think this aspect may be discussed further when we return after the recess and election.
I take the opportunity, at the end of this parliamentary session, of expressing my sincere appreciation to the present members of the Committee. Every member has worked conscientiously, thoroughly and keenly on this Committee. It is fitting to note that whilst the Committee is composed of members of the various parties in this chamber no-one has ever taken any political aspects into consideration during the examination of regulations and ordinances. I therefore pay tribute to the members of the Committee for the work which they have so conscientiously undertaken and also to the Deputy Chairman, Senator Devitt, who has played his part extremely well. I also express my appreciation of the work of our secretaries. Until recently Mr Nicholls was secretary of the Committee. He was most conscientious and was keen on the work. It is pleasing to note that his successor, Mr Harry Evans, also is a keen student of his work and is playing an important part. To both Mr Nicholls and Mr Harry Evans J express thanks for the fine work that each has done in assisting the Committee. I seek leave to continue my remarks when the debate is resumed.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Parliament House Attendants - Australian Country Party
– I have 2 matters to raise arising from questions addressed to me by honourable senators. Some days ago Senator Keeffe asked a question concerning the hours of duty worked by certain attendants on the staff of the Joint House Department. Some 2 or 3 weeks ago a representative of the Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia raised with the Secretary of the Joint House Department and myself the question of the hours of duty worked by the attendant staff of that Department and pointed out that they worked 40 hours a week both in the session and the recess before overtime was payable, while attendants on the staffs of the Senate and the House of Representatives worked 42 hours a week in session and 321/2 hours a week in recess before overtime was payable. He asked that consideration be given to bringing the Joint House Department attendants into line with the House staffs. The representative of the Miscellaneous Workers Union was informed that the question that he had raised would receive consideration and that an examination of the hours of duty of these attendants and other related groups is, in fact, currently in progress. As the staff in question are working the hours prescribed for them under the Parliamentary Officers Regulations the question of overtime being paid retrospectively does not arise.
In the course of a debate Senator Douglas McClelland raised a matter which appears in the Hansard record. Senator Douglas McClelland made some reference to the platform of the Australian Country Party and asked me whetherI could see that an up-to-date copy of it was made available. I have looked into the matter. The Australian Country Party’s ‘Platform and Policy’ is currently being revised, and the 1971 edition carries an insert in it. No other copies are available. The Country Party secretariat has informed me that a new ‘Platform and Policy’ is being printed and that when it is available a copy will be deposited in the library.
– by leave - During the deliberations of Senate Estimate Committee C on the estimates of the Department of Education and Science on 21st September, Senator Georges sought information on the Department’s intentions concerning the funds to be made available for research into the crown of thorns starfish problem on the Great Barrier Reef. It was agreed that it would be taken up with the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) whether it would be appropriate for him to make a statement to the Parliament on this question. The Minister has advised me as follows.
Grants for research into the crown of thorns starfish problem were first awarded in March 1972. Therefore it is too early to expect substantial results from those research projects.
The advisory committee which the Commonwealth and the Queensland governments have set up has now considered further applications for awards as a result of its second call for research proposals.I am informed that, as in the first round, the submissions in total have been somewhat disappointing, and that the recommendations from the committee are unlikely to entail the utilisation of the full amount of $110,000 which is available.
Reports that the infestation is spreading south have been received, but this does not imply that the overall situation is worsening. I understand that other reports suggest no evidence of reinfestation in previously damaged areas and, indeed, good evidence of coral regrowth.
Alt information coming to hand since the report of the Committee on the problem of the crown of thorn starfish confirms the views and recommendations expressed by that committee.
I am advised that, in the circumstances which I have stated, there is no present intention to submit to me any recommendation to increase the funds to be made available for research into the problem of the crown of thorns starfish.
– by leave - I inform the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) of my disappointment at his announcement that the amount allocated will not be spent because of the low level of applications being made for assistance. I find that statement a rather alarming statement. On the basis of my experience and the experience of those who made surveys of the Great Barrier Reef during August, the problem of the crown of thorns starfish is increasing. The Minister admitted that reports that the infestation is spreading south have been received. I think that is evidence enough of the increasing nature of the problem, and it ought not to be dismissed lightly. One of the reasons for the failure of leading scientists in this country to offer their services for research is that sufficient money has not been made available, and any programme which they would be likely to submit would be of a limited nature. Dr Robert Endean, one of the leading researchers in this field, was refused assistance from the first allocation by the Committee. This refusal somewhat contradicts the statement that those who are submitting applications for research are not of sufficient standard to justify making money available or to increase the amounts. As I have said, the starfish infestation is spreading south. It has spread south far beyond the Darley complex and beyond Bowen. The latest confirmed reports indicate that it has reached a reef called Lion Reef which is only 25 miles from Hayman Island.
Statements have been made concerning the regrowth of infested areas and that this in some way had been limiting the initiative of both the State Government and the Commonwealth Government. It is imperative that any statement on regrowth should be carefully scrutinised because it has enabled governments to avoid their responsibilities in this field. There is some limited regrowth in the devastated areas, but it is a regrowth of a different nature. The whole character of the reef is changing. There is some regrowth of soft coral. There is little regrowth of hard corals. So the statement that has been made, that there is considerable regrowth, I consider to be a very dangerous statement when the future of the whole Great Barrier Reef is in question.
I would like to go deeper into this matter, but today is not the day to do so because of the pressure of legislation before us. But I hope that the Government will reconsider the amounts of money made available. It ought to increase the amounts by some supplementary arrangement. If we are to spend about $3m each year on parks and gardens in Canberra - I do not deny the need to spend this amount on the national capital - then we ought to be spending more than $100,000 a year on the protection of the Great Barrier Beef. The basic need is for more money for research, but at the same time some assistance ought to be given to those organisations that want to take immediate steps for direct control of starfish populations in certain vital areas.
– by leave - The purpose of this statement is to inform the Senate of decisions taken by the Government with regard to the proposal to establish a Commonwealth Superior Court. The conclusion that the Government has reached is that the proposal to establish a Commonwealth Superior Court should not be proceeded with.
The idea of establishing a Commonwealth Superior Court developed out of the need to ensure that the High Court of Australia should be readily available to carry out its major responsibilities under the Constitution - namely, the responsibilities of interpreting the Constitution and of exercising appellate jurisdiction as a court of appeal from State courts and Federal courts created by the Parliament. The Constitution also vests certain original jurisdiction in the High Court and empowers the Parliament to invest the Court with original jurisdiction in certain further matters. The volume of work in the original jurisdiction of the High Court had increased to a degree that, by 1967, made it desirable to make other provision, to the extent permitted by the Constitution, in regard to that work.
The choice facing the Government was to provide for original jurisdiction in certain matters to be exercised by State and
Territory Supreme Courts - just as they already, for example, exercised jurisdiction in matrimonial causes - or to establish a new Commonwealth Court. The Government decided at the time that the course should be followed of establishing a Commonwealth Superior Court and a Bill was accordingly introduced in the House of Representatives in November 1968. The House was then informed that it was not intended that the Bill be debated at that stage because it was desired that interested persons should be able to consider its provisions and to express views and make representations on it. The Bill lapsed when the House was dissolved in 1969 for the genera) election held in that year.
The Commonwealth Superior Court proposed in the 1968 Bill was to have been a Commonwealth Court comparable in status and jurisdiction to the State Supreme Courts and was to have exercised an original - that is to say, non-appellate - jurisdiction in all Federal matters except matrimonial causes, trials on indictment and matters in which jurisdiction was expressly confined to other courts. The new court would have absorbed the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Court of Bankruptcy. It would have had a limited appellate jurisdiction, which would have included appeals from Territory Supreme Courts.
The original jurisdiction presently exercisable by the High Court continues to be extensive. At present, the High Court is managing to attend to all its work with commendable expedition. Undoubtedly, however, the original jurisdiction work will continue to grow. There is a need for something to be done to minimise this work so that there will be no detraction from the capacity of the Court to discharge its primary functions of interpreting the Constitution and sitting as the ultimate court of appeal in Australia.
The Government has taken another look at the whole matter. Wilh the full support of the Chief Justice, the Government has decided that it should follow the alternative course, which is available under the Constitution, of investing State Supreme Courts and the Supreme Courts of the mainland Territories with original jurisdiction in certain additional federal matters in respect of which the High Court now exercises original jurisdiction. The Government, on reflection, sees this alternative course as having a number of important advantages. It will provide a more integrated system of courts in Australia, with fewer technicalities and with less expense to litigants. The problems of mixed jurisdiction - that is, problems arising from the existence in the one case of both State and Federal questions - will be avoided. There will be more diversification of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Courts, thus giving the judges of those courts opportunities for experience in new and important jurisdictions. The Government sees its present proposals as an exercise in cooperative federalism that will benefit both the States and the Commonwealth.
The Government now proposes to remove from the High Court the original jurisdiction it now has in respect of industrial property and taxation matters and to vest it exclusively in the Supreme Courts of the States and of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In respect of appeals from the Commissioner of Taxation, the Supreme Courts of the States already have a concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court. The industrial property matters are those arising under the patents, trade marks and designs Acts, and the main bulk of the work consists of appeals from the Commissioner of Patents or Registrar of Trade Marks, and applications for extensions of term of patents. The Government has considered the possible disadvantage of some lack of uniformity resulting from the decisions of separate Supreme Courts, lt recognises that a consequence is that there could be some increase in appeals to the full High Court, at least in the early years. The Government is satisfied however, that this should not be a major problem and would not, in any event, outweigh the advantages of the course it has decided to adopt.
Amending legislation will be necessary to give effect to this decision. There will have to be amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act and other taxation Acts, as well as to the various industrial property Acts I have already mentioned. The intention is that the legislation will be introduced early next year. The State Premiers have been informed of the Government’s decision. Although not all of the Premiers have commented on the decision, I think it true to say that the decision will be generally well received, subject only to concern in some States about the financial effect of the additional work load on State courts. I want to make it clear, therefore, that the Government’s announcement of this decision is done without prejudice to any case a State might wish at the appropriate time to make for financial compensation in respect of the additional jurisdiction thus conferred on State courts.
– by leave - At long last the Senate has been told that the Government finally has changed its mind. I remember - it seems a long time ago - attending in Hobart a conference of lawyers from all over Australia not long after I had been elected to the Senate-
– A wonderful place for a conference.
– Yes. We had some beautiful weather when we were in Tasmania. Lawyers from all over Australia were present at this conference. We were addressed by the then Solicitor-General, on behalf of the then Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, Sir Garfield Barwick, and told, as I recall it - I do not have the words in front of me - that the long awaited day had come and he was able to announce that the Cabinet had directed that the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court proceed, thereby putting an end to all-
– That consideration of the proposals proceed.
– No. He announced a decision on the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court, and the machinery which was then to be invoked, the legislation prepared and so forth. The decision had been made to have such a court. That is as I recall it. We have gone through a period of years since this announcement to establish such a court was made, I think in 1968. There has been a great lapse of time but I suppose that is the way in which the Government has proceeded in most matters of law reform whether in the economic field or the social field. A lapse of some 5 or 6 years in bringing in legislation is about the pace at which this Government works. Then the dithering began and we started to have questions about whether the Government was going to proceed with it or not. There has been dithering over this period and until now we have had the Attorney-General saying ‘Well, we are not too sure’ or ‘We are deferring it’ and so on. Now an announcement is made today that the Government does not propose to proceed with the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court.
Many people will be disappointed that the Government has adopted this view. May I say that the policy of my Party - I do not think it is expressed in our platform but it. has been stated on various occasions - is to proceed with the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court. Wc believe that the carrying out of Federal law should not be p it is now, that is, something that for the most part fits into the interstices of the State laws. We need in Australia a Federal code of evidence. We need a Federal code of procedure. We need a court, which would be supplied by the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court, in which matters of peculiarly Federal law could be dealt with. I think there will arise very many matters of Federal law in the field of taxation and other fields which ought to be dealt with by a body which has been established by the Commonwealth, is staffed by judges selected by the Commonwealth and is supervised, insofar as it should be, by the Parliament. When T say that I speak not of interfering with the traditional independence of the courts but in a sense that questions can properly be asked in this Parliament about matters that arise in the Court in the same way as questions are asked in State parliaments about matters associated with delays costs or procedures, because such matters properly come within the function of the Parliament. We are in the twilight world where matters which are distinctively of a Commonwealth nature are being dealt wilh in the first instance in State courts and as such the State parliaments are not very much interested in them. After all, it is Commonwealth law which is being administered and there is an inhibition in this Parliament in raising matters concerning them, because they are the courts of the States and the judges who sit on them are appointed by State authorities.
– It may come to Commonwealth criminal laws.
– It may well come to Commonwealth criminal laws. One could expect, in view of what the Australian Labor Party proposes or even what has been proposed in recent times by the present Government, that there will be new criminal laws in the economic field and there would certainly be a considerable number of civil penalties arising in the economic field. There would be matters which would be much better dealt with by some relatively specialised Commonwealth tribunal rather than by being dispersed amongst the courts of the State as would happen if the Commonwealth Superior Court is not established. I do not know what Senator Wright’s views may be on the matter but it is pretty obvious that there is a strong case for the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court, if the Opposition takes the view and the existing Government took that view, has wavered and finally-
– It found that the arguments against it were overwhelming.
– And finally decided that it would not do so. If the arguments against it are overwhelming, it is an extraordinary circumstance that the Government decided to do it, prepared the legislation, brought it into the Parliament and then decides that the arguments against it are overwhelming.
– The purpose of bringing the legislation before the Parliament was to obtain representations. We have considered them.
– One may say that that is hindsight or that it is wavering or that the Government does not know what it is doing from one day to the next or from one year to the next. In any event, it is the viewpoint of the Opposition - it has consistently held this view - that there is a necessity for a Commonwealth tribunal to deal with matters which peculiarly arise under Commonwealth law. That does not mean that we should sacrifice entirely any advantages that flow from the symmetry of the State courts and the appeals to the
High Court. There may well be - I think there is - reason for leaving many matters of Federal jurisdiction to be dealt with by those courts. Many of those matters are already being dealt with by them quite efficiently. A good case can be made out for leaving the position stand in regard to those matters. But other matters are involved and there will be a great deal of new Federal law which ought properly to be administered by a Commonwealth Superior Court. I indicate that the Opposition on this matter differs sharply from the Government and that we would propose that the Commonwealth Superior Court be proceeded with.
– by leave - As to the relative merits of invest ing the State courts with additional jurisdiction as the alternative to the establishment of a second Commonwealth Superior Court, I would not say that my Party, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, has a very definitive policy in this field. Therefore, the views that I express are, to some extent, personal. I must say to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) that I am intrigued by 2 references in his statement when they are taken together. This is the first one:
The Government sees its present proposals as an exercise in co-operative Federalism what will benefit both the States and the Commonwealth.
I think it is an exercise in co-operative. Federalism. But I am intrigued by what appears on the fifth page of the AttorneyGeneral’s statement. On the face of it, apparently there has been no fundamental conference with the State Premiers in regard to the acceptability of the scheme because the Attorney-General says:
The State Premiers have been informed of the Government’s decision. Although not all of the Premiers have commented on the decision, I think it is true to say, that the decision will be generally well received . . .
I am surprised that when steps of this kind are taken which will involve the. administration of justice in the States in additional expenditure, perhaps in the provision of further accommodation and even in further appointments to the judiciary - no doubt the Commonwealth will foot the bill - that the States were not consulted as to their preparedness to accept the whole proposition. I am somewhat taken aback to find that the decision, after quite a lapse of time, has been taken and that at this stage the reception in some of the Stales at least is not even known.
Senaor Greenwood - That is not quite true.
– I am only going on the Attorney-General’s statement. He says that the reaction of the Premiers in some States has not yet been disclosed. That is what 1 understood him to have said.
– Not all of the Premiers have commented on the decision.
– Yes. Apparently not all of them have commented. After all, I would have thought that this proposal would have been introduced following prior consultation and acceptance by all the State Premiers - or by all the States.
– You will appreciate that J did not discuss this statement at length with all the Attorneys-General.
– Yes. Perhaps the Attorney-General might be kind enough, wilh the consent of the Senate, to comment on the suggestion that J have put up. Secondly, 1 personally regret the abandonment of the proposal to create a second Federal superior court. The arguments that are presented for what is called ‘integration’ and things of that kind, due to the introduction of the system now proposed, appear to me to be nothing more than attempts to rationalise a situation. I would have thought that the greatest integration would have been achieved by the creation of a court with uniform application of principles and uniform methods of procedure.
The only other comment I wish to make pertinent to this matter is that if my recollection is correct and if it is still the law. the High Court in its appellant jurisdiction has jurisdiction, I think under the Judiciary Act, to hear appeals in matters involving property of the value of $1,500. As of right the High Court has jurisdiction to hear such appeals from the State courts.
– Subject, I think, !o exceptions and regulations.
– Yes, that may be so, but the point J am making is that in matters involving persons convicted of murder in a State court, for example, an appeal to the High Court lies by special leave; it does not lie as of right. I think it is time that this matter was reviewed by the Attorneys-General and that greater emphasis were given to the rights of persons than to the rights of property. I think that perhaps this is a relic of a past age.
– That is an erroneous comparison.
– lt may be an erroneous comparison but it appears to me to be a very relevant one and a rather logical one. Perhaps the idea was to relieve the High Court from a multitude of appeals lying as of right in these matters. Nevertheless, I do think that some attention should be given to rectifying the situation. Appeals now involve mostly the personal liberty of people rather than the personal life of individuals. In view of the tendency to abolish capital punishment or not to carry such decrees into execution, I think that emphasis should now be given to this matter, and that the jurisdiction of the High Court in this regard should be reviewed. With those observations. I indicate some personal element of disappointment at the abandonment by the Government of the J 968 proposal which virtually reached fruition. We would hope that in due course the Government might perhaps see fit to change its mind and to redirect its policy.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time. As this is a short second reading speech, I suggest that for the convenience of the Senate the speech be incorporated in Hansard.
– Does the Senate grant leave to incorporate the speech in Hansard? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
The Customs Tarriff Bill (No. 4) 1972 now before the Senate proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1972. The changes were originally introduced by Customs Tariff Proposals in another place between 29th February 1972 and 20th September 1972. Much information about the changes has been public knowledge for some months now and I do not propose to weary honourable senators unnecessarily by repeating at length details of the changes. However. 1 invite honourable senators’ attention to the detailed analysis of the changes made by the Bill which is now being circulated. It is, nevertheless, desirable that I acquaint honourable senators with the broader provisions of the Bill. This Bill comprises 7 Schedules and is complementary, in part, to the Excise Tariff Bill presently before the Senate relating to the Government’s fiscal changes in respect of wine and tobacco products.
In the First Schedule changes are made in respect to recommendations made by the Tariff Board on: Industrial chemicals and synthetic resins - ethylene oxide derivatives; industrial gamma ray equipment; and shipbuilding; and by the Special Advisory Authority on: Isooctyl alcohol; continuous filament raw yarns of polyamide or polyester; and resins of the propylene type.
In the Second Schedule to the Bill changes follow recommendations by the
Tariff Board in relation to additions to Schedule A to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The Government approved the following additions to the Agreement: Hardened casein; laminated and veneer wood products; submersible pumps and parts; laboratory equipment (specific types); food mixers; and trailer axle assemblies. This Schedule also includes additions to the range of products eligible for concessional admission under the preferential tariff quota scheme for goods from developing countries.
The Third Schedule to the Bill deals with changes arising from Tariff Board reports on: Shot, angular grit and wire pellets of iron or steel; AC generators exceeding 120 kVA; rotary converters exceeding 50 kW; DC mill type motors; and hand tools and interchangeable tools, tungsten carbide, etc. The Fourth Schedule deals with the Government’s Budget concession on certain tobacco products for medical research, that is, it complements similar changes to the Excise Tariff in respect to locally produced tobacco products.
The Fifth Schedule of the Bill deals with changes arising from the Tariff Board’s report on metal working machine tools and accessories. A Bounty Bill on this subject is presently before the Senate. The Sixth Schedule to the Bill relates to the Tariff Board reports on knitted shirts and outergarments. Honourable senators will recall the Government examined alternative arrangements to voluntary restraints and decided to introduce tariff quotas on knitted shirts and outergarments and woven shirts for the period ending 30th June 1974.
Changes in the Seventh Schedule of the Bill stem from the Government’s adoption of recommendations by the Tariff Board in its reports on: Insulators; fittings and mountings, hat-racks, etc., of base metal; and ceramic tableware, etc. Again I invite honourable senators’ attention to the detailed analysis of the changes now being distributed. Should honourable senators require additional information covering any matter dealt with in the Bill, an application to my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, will receive immediate attention. 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 Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be. now read a second time.
AgainI suggest that the second reading speech could be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is the Senate agreeable to the second reading speech being incorporated in Hansard? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
The Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1972 now before the Senate consists of 2 Schedules. The First Schedule of the Bill contains tariff changes which introduce tariff quotas on imports of small pitch transmission chain. This action reflects the Government’s concern at the possible sociological and other consequences should there be any further reduction in the level of production of small pitch transmission chain by Renold Australia Pty Ltd at its plant at Benalla. My colleague dealt with these aspects at some length when introducing the Tariff Proposals and I will not traverse the same ground at this late stage.
The Second Schedule of the Bill provides for a simpler expression of the rates of duty applying to plywood. The rates of duty on plywood prior to 1st July 1972 varied according to increases in thickness of one-sixteenth of an inch. On and after 1st July 1972, that is, after metrication, the rates varied according to increases in thickness of 1.6 millimetres, that is the conversion of one-sixteenth of an inch to metric terms.
The change now proposed varies the rates of duty according to increases in thickness of one millimetre. Honourable senators will appreciate this is a much simpler expression and more in accord with the spirit of metrication. The changes in existing rates of duty are minimal and operate from 1st November 1972. 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 Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1972. Honourable senators will note that the earliest date of amendments in that Bill is 1st July 1972, the date of metrication. This Bill validates the collection of duties on grape wine and ships, boats, etc., up to 30th June 1972, that is, before metrication. 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:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I ask for leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
Consistent with the Government’s policy of removing legislation which discriminates against the native peoples of Australia, the Bill now before the Senate is one of 2 designed to remove the few remaining limitations between the war compensation benefits for which Torres Strait Islanders and certain mainland Aborigines are eligible and the war compensation benefits for which other Australian ex-servicemen are eligible. At the present time, Torres Strait Islanders and mainland Aborigines who served in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Forces during World War II are eligible for benefits under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act. Although it provides wide-ranging benefits, this Act does not extend to its beneficiaries the advantages of appeal rights to either War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals or War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals, or the payment of war pension in respect of non war-related pulmonary tuberculosis. The Government has over the years consistently lifted the levels of pensions and extended the benefits available to these former members of the Services. Originally, they were entitled to a limited range of pensions and allowances at lower rates than those payable to other ex-servicemen under repatriation legislation.
However, in a conscious endeavour to improve the status of these ex-servicemen, this Government and preceding governments have lifted pension benefits to the point where at present the same war pensions and allowances, payable at the same maximum rates, are available to Torres Strait Islands members and mainland Aborigines under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act as are available to other former members of the forces under repatriation legislation. In addition, service pension eligibility was extended to them some few years ago. This Bill and an ensuing Bill which I shall be bringing before the Senate are the last steps in the move towards full equality for these exservicemen.
As I mentioned, this Bill is one of 2 measures. The, other measure, the Repatriation (Torres Strait Islanders) Bill 1972, which I shall also be introducing into the Senate will bring them completely under the Repatriation Act, with no disadvantage whatsoever. In fact, they will enjoy some advantage in that problems which their geographic location might hold will be recognised and any advantage they currently have will be preserved. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake.Brock,nan) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave for the second reading speech to be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
This Bill is a natural flow-on from the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Bill 1972. It preserves the rights of exservicemen, formerly members of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Forces, who will now be brought under the provisions of the Repatriation Act. Although the proposals will bring no direct financial improvement to pensions and other benefits payable to these ex-servicemen, because their pensions and allowances are already payable at rates equal to those under the Repatriation Act, it will allow them access to the Repatriation Appeal Tribunals. Previously, their right of appeal under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act terminated at the Repatriation Commission. It will extend to them the benefits of section 37 (3) of the Repatriation Act in respect of pulmonary tuberculosis, a benefit not available under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act.
The Bill now before the Senate preserves the existing pension and treatment entitlements of these ex-servicemen and also protects claims which might at present be undetermined in respect of entitlements under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act. The Bill treats these claims in such a way as to enable the full benefit of the Repatriation determination system to apply to them, right up to an appeal to a Tribunal, without the claim having to be initiated afresh under the Repatriation Act. The Repatriation Act is amended to preserve, in respect of these ex-servicemen, recognition of the long-standing social customs and local practices such as that of island adoptions which are recognised in the broader definition of dependant in the regulations under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act. The Bill amends section 99 of the Repatriation Act to retain this broader definition in respect of those ex-servicemen.
Special provision is made in respect of the Torres Strait Islands for extended time limits for appeals to determining authorities. The accepted times within which an appeal may be lodged in order to give a successful appellant the most advantageous result is 3 months. However, because of the geographic location of the Torres Strait Islands, their remoteness, and the limitations of sea transportation between the islands, this time limit has been extended to 6 months for persons resident in the Torres Strait Islands, so that no member will be disadvantaged in respect of the exercise of his rights of appeal. The Bill also contains a declaratory clause designed to remove any doubt as to the future application to Torres Strait Islands members of Commonwealth laws providing assistance to ex-servicemen. To date, section 4 of the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act 1957-1968 has limited the benefits, advantages, and assistance available to these ex-servicemen to those provided under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act itself and under the War Gratuity Act. Clause 5 of this Bill provides that the laws of the Commonwealth providing for benefits, advantages and assistance in respect of members of the defence forces who served during the war shall in the future apply, according to their tenor, in relation to Torres Strait Islands members.
In relation to other Commonwealth legislation the major change arising from this provision concerns entitlement to war service homes benefits. The amendment proposed by this Bill will enable applications by these ex-servicemen for assistance under the war service homes scheme to be considered under the existing provisions of the War Service Homes Act. Applicants must, of course, have the appropriate qualifying war service and must satisfy the requirements which apply to all applicants for assistance under the latter Act. Although this legislation applies to a relatively small number of persons, Mr President, as approximately 760 Torres Strait Islanders and 40 mainland Aboriginals served during World War II in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Forces, it is nevertheless important as another move in the Commonwealth’s avowed intention to remove the last remnants of racial discrimination from the statute books. It is important to the persons who will benefit therefrom and who will henceforth enjoy the same rights under the same legislation as all Australians who were members of the Defence Forces.I should like to assure the Senate that officers of the Repatriation Department will take steps to ensure that the measures will be given publicity in the areas where these former ex-servicemen live, so that all those eligible are aware of this important change. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment:
Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Bill 1972.
Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1972.
Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1972.
Consideration resumed from 26th October (vide page 2065).
Department of Immigration - proposed expenditure,$68,024,000- agreed to.
Departmentof Social Services
Proposed expenditure,$61,565,000. Proposed provision,$890,000.
– I refer to the appropriation for rehabilitation services in Division 900. I would like information from the Attorney General (Senator Greenwood), who in the Senate represents the Minister for Social Services (Mr We, worth), regarding the proposed establishment of a rehabilitation and vocational guidance clinic in Geelong. The Minister may recall that some weeks ago the Minister for Social Services indicated that a series of such clinics would be built throughout the Commonwealth. He issued a press statement indicating that a clinic would open at Geelong early next year. For the purpose, I understand, a third floor of the Geelong Commonwealth Offices is under construction at present, if thai, is to be the location of the clinic it is rather disturbing that an establishment of that nature should be put on the third floor of a building. Obviously people who require rehabilitation find extreme difficulty in handling lifts, doors and other equipment and their difficulties will be aggravated if they must go to the third floor of a building.
If the clinic is to be located on the third floor of the Geelong Commonwealth Offices I would like the Minister to advise me whether modifications have been made to the lifts, doorways and toilets to accommodate the types of people who will be seeking rehabilitation and vocational guidance. I appreciate that it may be necessary to seek the information regarding structural alterations from the Department of Works.
– My first question relates to the appropriation for compassionate allowances and other payments under special circumstances. I would like information as to the nature of the payments made under this item. It hus been my experience that people seeking such payments are referred to a State Department of Welfare. It seems that on occasions the Department of Social Services is prepared to make such payments. My next question concerns the appropriation in subdivision 3 of Division 500 for annuities and other payments for holders of the George Cross and the Albert and Edward medals. Are regular payments made to the holders of those medals? If such payments are made as a right to those medal holders it seems that assistance is given more in respect of a social position than for any other reason.
My main query relates to Division 500- -Administrative. Officers of the Department of Social Services seem to be :-a law unto themselves, at times even in defiance of parliamentary decisions, in the administration of the Social Services Act. In recent years I have protested many times about the growth of bureaucracy in Australia. I believe that politicians have become office boys to departmental heads. Parliament is in serious danger of losing its power to the heads of departments and this is particularly noticeable in matters relating to the Social Services Act. In 1949 Parliament provided in section 22 of the Act:
An age pension shall not be grafted to a person -
Similar provisions apply for a wife. One could not justify in 1972, 1 think, the refusal of a social services benefit to a person who is not of good character. Parliament itself has said that if a person has a bad record he shall not receive a pension. Obviously, the Act ought to be changed. There may have been reasons in 1947 to restrict the availability of pensions, and Parliament decreed that certain persons should not be entitled to pensions. With a view to seeking some amendment to the Act. I asked a series of questions of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) which were put on the notice paper and numbered 2067. I asked the Minister:
Of course, one can see the farcical situation which the Act is in now. Nevertheless it was a decision of the Parliament that restrictions should be placed on what pensions could be granted. Senator Greenwood replied on behalf of the Minister for Social Services, stating that the Minister for Social Services had provided the following answer:
This reveals that despite the fact that Parliament had decided that certain persons shall be precluded from receiving pensions, the Minister for Social Services or his Departmental officers decided that those people will be entitled to a pension. We believe that we have checks on these procedures by the Auditor-General, who may not authorise in his audit of authorised payments the expenditure of any sum of money which has not been sanctioned by Parliament, but I think the debate in the Jetair Australia Limited case and the case concerning Treasury officers which I read to the Committee yesterday show that the Auditor-General’s power is limited. We have no restriction on departments. Some of them are doing as they like in defiance of the express will of the Parliament.
– Does the honourable senator say that cases have been refused?
– Well, let us see. Question upon notice No. 2130 which I asked states:
I went on to ask a similar question in relation to widow’s pension. The Minister’s reply was:
The point is that under the 6 causes which deprive a person of a pension it is unbelievable that there is not one applicant who is debarred by one of the items. The record of anyone who is receiving a pension would be known. It would be known whether he was of good character. What I am saying is that the Act is wrong. I do not believe that people should be debarred for the reasons stated in the Act. But Parliament has made a decision and somebody - either the Minister or a public servant - has said: ‘We will not carry out Parliament’s decision. We will do something else’.
– I do not think that is a fair interpretation of the answer that the honourable senator received from the Minister. The answer is that no-one has been rejected on that basis. The honourable senator is interpreting the answer to read that the provisions have not been carried out.
– 1 have referred to a question that I asked. But in relation to another question I was told:
These provisions were included in the legislation introduced in 1947 by the then Government. They have not been applied to any claim for pension during the time I have been responsible for the administration of the Act.
I think a fair interpretation of that answer is that the Department has not looked at applications to see whether the applicant has been of good character. I have never raised this matter during debate because I think such persons are entitled to a pension but the Department has power under the Act to refuse a pension to someone who may be entitled to it. This matter arose when I wrote to the Minister on 2nd October appealing against a decision of the Department in Adelaide. A reply has not yet been received. A family was living together but the husband and wife were incompatible. The partners to the marriage could not agree and decided that the best thing they could do was to separate. An arrangement was made for separation, with the husband paying maintenance. He left his wife and family of 3 children but agreed to pay regular maintenance. They lived apart. This seemed the solution to their problems. The husband, after paying maintenance for some 18 months, simply disappeared and did not pay. Of course the wife and 3 children now have no income for their sustenance.
The woman made an application for deserted wife’s pension. One of the essentials in obtaining such a pension is the requirement to prove an unjustifiable desertion. Because the separation was by agreement the woman can never be recognised as a deserted wife.. But the conditions of the agreement were not complied with when the husband ceased to pay maintenance. He cannot be found for the serving on him of a legal order for maintenance. Surely this breaks the agreement and today the woman is deserted? But the Department says that the woman is not deserted and that she can never claim to be. a deserted wife because the separation came after an agreement. Her solution is to obtain a divorce or judicial separation from her husband. She can then, as a divorcee, apply for a widow’s pension. But such action would conflict with the religious beliefs of this family. The Department is discriminating against people on religious grounds, because this woman would have to break all of her religious beliefs in order to comply with the Act. I say that if my legal interpretation is not correct as I believe there are grounds for saying it is correct - as the Department has the power to defy the Parliament in another direction, it should have the power to give assistance where assistance is justified. In the hope of getting some assistance so that the members of the family could be fed, on 2nd October I wrote to the Minister, but they are still waiting for some assistance in helping them to exist.
The other point 1 want to raise concerns an employee who becomes sick and applies for sickness benefit. I draw the attention of the Committee to the case of a man who was ill for some weeks. During that time he received 2 days sick pay which he had accrued at his place of employment, pay for a public holiday which fell during his period of sickness and 3 days long service leave which was due to him. This made a total of 6 days for which he received payment. After he had been off work for a week he applied for unemployment benefit.
His application for unemployment benefit was refused because the amount he had received -
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Poyser raised the question of the rehabilitation clinic which is to be established at Geelong. I know that he mentioned the clinic at Geelong because of his local interest in that area. But this proposal by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) is a general proposal. A number of clinics are proposed to be established at various places. I have managed to get some information for Senator Poyser in the short time that has been available to me this morning. I mention only in passing that, if Senator Poyser had come along to the meeting of the Estimates Committee at which these estimates were considered, I am sure he would have been able to explore this matter with the officers concerned and would have obtained detailed information which would, I am sure, have been reassuring to him as well as informative to other Victorians who are interested in this proposal. We know that Senator Poyser declines to attend these committee meetings and this has imposed some difficulties upon the Minister and his officers in getting the type of information he wants at short notice.
However, on this occasion we have been able to get some information. The information is as follows: The Geelong clinic, when it is established, will have a full time vocational counsellor, a social worker and a medical officer who will be recruited locally. The clinic will screen potential rehabilitation cases for referral to the Department’s main rehabilitation centres in Melbourne, lt will liaise with voluntary organisations which conduct sheltered workshops, handicapped children’s centres and aged persons homes. The vocational counsellor also will assist widows who wish to undertake training for employment under the Department’s training scheme for widow pensioners. Senator Poyser’s belief or information that a site has been selected is wrong. No decision has been made, although a number of sites are being examined and it may be that an examination of a particular site has led to the assumptions which have given Senator Poyser concern.
I am told by the officers who are with me - they have made their inquiries in Melbourne, I understand - that Senator Poyser can be assured that before a decision is made full account will be taken of the problems of accessibility of handicapped people.
– A very satisfactory answer.
– I am delighted in the difficult circustances to which I referred to have been able to give Senator Poyser the information. Senator Cavanagh has raised a number of matters. Again I say to him that these matters could be elucidated so much more easily in the Estimates Committees if only he would attend them and avail himself of the opportunity there to ask questions. He asked about compassionate allowances and other payments made in special circumstances. I refer him to the explanatory notes which were provided by the Department of Social Services for the Estimates Committee hearing and which are available. In them he will find set out the details of the types of allowances made.
Likewise Senator Cavanagh asked questions about the circumstances in which annuities and other payments are made to the holders of the George Cross, and the Albert and Edward medals. Again full information is provided about this matter in the details of expenditure which were circulated to the Estimates Committee and which are in the folders available to honourable senators. The reason why the Department of Social Services handles those matters is that adminstratively it has the machinery available by which annuities and payments of this description can be most readily made. In short of all government departments it is the preferable department to handle these payments. The other point which Senator Cavanagh has been developing relates to the provisions of certain sections of the social service legislation and the particular obligation which is cast by the Act upon the Director not to pay pensions to certain persons. It may be that there is a case for amending that leg islation but it is the type of amendment which would occur when there is a general reconsideration of the whole of the social service legislation.
The important point, and I think Senator Cavanagh will appreciate the import of this, is that there have been no occasions on which persons have been denied pensions because someone has alleged that they have been of bad character or that they are not deserving. If there were such cases these may well highlight the need for some reconsideration of the provisions in a special context. Where he has clear evidence that there are no occasions on which those provisions have been used to deny a person a pension to which he would otherwise be entitled, I say with all respect to Senator Cavanagh that he either knows of some cases where people should have been refused pensions, in which case if he cares to provide the names we can examine them, or he is embarking on an interesting but I think unfruitful legalistic exercise.
– The Attorney-General has reminded the Senate of my laxity in attending the hearing of Estimates Committees.
– You should have been there and we would not have had to put up with this nonsense.
– I would ask for at least the courtesy of the House.
– You have not got any courtesy when you go on like this.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh is addressing the Committee.
– I have found that this information was available to this Estimates Committee but I would like the Attorney-General to tell me how I can get the information I sought and which was not supplied in his reply to my questions. The import of the question I raised about compliance with the Social Services Act by the Department of Social Services is not, as the Minister stated, whether I can name someone who is receiving a benefit but who should not be receiving it or whether I desire to name someone. Its importance lies in the fact that the Parliament decides one thing while departments decide another. While there may not be a great deal of complaint on this occasion, if the power exists for the Department of Social Services to act in this manner, where do we stop? What money may be paid out of the revenue of the Commonwealth where there is no legislative authority for it to do so? But where it does cause hardship is that the Department of Social Services decides its own rules for payment and, likewise, decides its own rules for refusing payment. I made the mistake of writing to the Minister on 18th September concerning the case of a deserted wife who can never claim desertion. Another letter was sent to the Minister for Social Services on 2nd October in relation to the other case to which I referred concerning a person’s application for social service benefits, and I am now in a position to give actual details of that case. This person was absent from his place of employment from 16th May to 24th July 1972. During that period, he received from his employer on application 40 hours paid sick leave, 8 hours for a holiday which occurred during that period he was absent and 8 hours long service leave, which gave him payment for the first 7 working days of his illness. The reply he received from the Elizabeth branch of the Department of Social Services stated that approval for his application for sickness benefit could not be given for the following reason:
That the long service leave received from your employer during your incapacity is in excess of the maximum weekly benefit and the allowable income.
Therefore, he did not qualify on the basis of long service leave received. Of course, the Department of Social Services based its decision on this case on section 1 1 4 of the Social Services Act which states:
The rale per week of the unemployment benefit or of the sickness benefit payable to a person shall be reduced by the amount (if any) by which the rate of income per week of that person exceeds-
The Act then goes on to define the amounts applicable to married and unmarried persons. But a payment for long service leave is a payment based on the number of days worked and is paid on the basis of so many days of long service leave. The person concerned took 5 days sick leave and received a sick leave payment in respect of those days. In other words, he received his normal wage for those days just as if he had continued working at his place of employment and when his sick leave, long service leave and holiday entitlements terminated 7 days after he ceased working at his place of employment, he was entitled to a sickness benefit. Because he was sick and was paid for so many days this payment was equated to a weekly period of income and, under the interpretation of the Department, he was refused benefit. This was the case which I raised with the Minister for Social Services on 2nd October. As yet, I have received no reply. I think that this was a wrongful interpretation of section 114 of the Act. The power of the Department should be used on this occasion as it has on one other occasion to pay benefits to such people as the one to whom 1 have just referred.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts
Proposed expenditure, $43,411,000
Proposed provision, $1,432,600
– I speak in this debate only to continue the agitation which, as the Minister would know, I expressed when officers of his Department were before Estimates Committee B. 1 expressed grave concern at the Minister’s dilatoriness in failing to convene a summit meeting of all the various State Ministers responsible for wildlife. I pointed out that the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation had submitted an interim report a year ago because it felt al that stage that, particularly in the States of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, many species of kangaroos were facing extinction, lt was indicated a week or 2 ago by officers appearing before Estimates Committee B that it appeared from agitation by private citizens and representations from the fauna authorities in the various States that all were agreed that the time was well overdue when the responsible Commonwealth Minister should call together the State Ministers to see whether there was a possibility of the recommendations contained in the interim report being adopted.
The reason I intervene again today is that yesterday the completed report of the House of Representatives Select Committee was tabled in the House of Representatives. I make this plea to the Minister in the hope that another 2 years will not pass before we get off the ground. Most senators - particularly Senator Keeffe, Senator Poyser and myself - have been inundated with correspondence from various areas where there is private land which, ifsection 96 of the Constitution were taken advantage of to make feed back grants, could be acquired to enlarge national parks.I know that the House of Representatives Committee made certain suggestions on obtaining revenue to cover the cost of acquisition and, as a witness who appeared before the Committee, I suggested other alternative plans.
I conclude on this note: I sincerely hope that before Christmas the summit meeting to which I referred will have taken place and that the recommendations contained in the report will not be filed away but will become a reality so that within the next 5 years we can say that our wildlife reservations are comparable with the best of North America.
– It is not my intention to speak at length in this debate on the estimates of the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. There were a number of matters to which normally I would like to address myself, but because of the lateness of the hour so far as the life time of this Parliament is concerned I will restrict my remarks merely to 2 items that were the subject of discussion during the course of Estimates committee consideration. The first one to which I shall refer is division 256 relating to the Australian Film Development Corporation and an amount of $95,000. The Minister will recall that during the course of the Estimates debate I raised the point that the annual report of the Australian Film Development Corporation had not been made available to the Parliament before the consideration of the Estimates by the Estimates committees. The reply that was given was that because the Corporation is relatively new it had taken the Corporation longer than it had anticipated to compile and prepare the annual report. I was told that the figures were subject to the approval of the Auditor-General and that obtaining this approval was taking longer than necessary. The Minister said that it was hoped at that stage that the report of the Australian Film Development Corporation would have been available to him within a week or so of the Estimates having been considered by the relevant Estimates committee. That was the reply given on 17th October last.
As far as I know the annual report of the Australian Film Development Corporation has not as yet been presented to this Parliament. I speak subject to correction, but because I am interested in this matter I have kept a watchful eye out for the annual report of the Corporation andI have not as yet received a copy of it. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) had some comments to make on the compilation and presentation of a number of annual reports that were presented by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) after question time this morning.I think it is pretty poor on the part of Government departments and public corporations to be regarding the presentation of annual reports to this Parliament as an off duty task.
– There is nothing to suggest that this is their view, is there?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDThe fact is that they had a responsibility to present a report as at 30th June of this year.
– The report was to be in regard to the operations for the year ended 30th June. The report was to be presented as soon as possible thereafter.
– I think it would be implicit that the. Corporation and the Minister in charge of the Department should ensure that that annual report be available to the Parliament before the Parliament is prorogued. That is not what is happening in this case. The House of Representatives has adjourned, its members have left and yet a report of a very important Corporation has not been presented to that House. I do not know how much longer the Senate will sit but members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are entitled to receive the report and are entitled to raise any matter appearing in the report with the responsible Minister in the House of Representatives before that House adjourned.
I suggest to Senator Greenwood, who is in charge of the estimates now before the Committee, that if the report has not been presented to the Parliament - I am practically certain that it has not been - steps should be immediately taken to ensure that that report is presented to the Senate before the Senate adjourns for the forthcoming election. If this practice occurs in the future I most certainly will be pressing that consideration of the Estimates be deferred until the annual report, of whatever body it may be. is available for consideration. AH information required for consideration of the Estimates of departments should be in the hands of members of this Parliament before the Estimates are dealt with. It is just not good enough to be doing it on a cursory somewhat slap-happy basis. I draw that matter to the attention of the Minister.
Theother matter to which I wish to allude is in connection with Division 250, the Australian Government Publishing Service. The Minister will recall that in the course of the consideration of the hearings of Estimates Committee B my colleague, Senator McLaren and I raised with him the question of thefinancial operations of the Commonwealth Advertising Council. We also raised the matter of the responsibility of these organisations to make figures available to the Parliament in respect of expenditure by the Commonwealth on advertising and the payments that were made by the Commonwealth to the various advertising agencies from time to time employed by the Commonwealth. I refer the Minister to page 462 of the Hansard record of the Senate Estimates Committee B hearings. I drew the Minister’s attention to an answer which had been provided on 16th May 1972 to a question which I had placed on the notice paper. The answer the Minister gave was:
Apart from small amounts of special fees, the Commonwealth does not make payments directly to advertising agencies. They are remunerated almost entirely from commissions derived from the media and material production firms. These earnings are pooled and distributed by the Commonwealth Advertising Council. The Council has informed me that it does not normally disclose details of commission allocations to individual agencies which are regarded as confidential business information.
The earnings are pooled and distributed by the Commonwealth Advertising Council.
The Council apparently has knowledge of the amounts which are distributed but, because it is regarded as confidential business information, the Corporation does not disclose that distribution to the Parliament.
I then pointed out to the Minister - this appears on page 463 of Hansard - that the answer he gave me did not square with an answer that was given to me by the Acting Minister at the time, Sir Alan Hulme, whilst Mr Howson was abroad, to a matter that I had subsequently raised in the Parliament. At page 463 of the Hansard record I am reported as having said that the Acting Minister had written to me on 13th June. In that letter, among other things, he said: i am informed that payments of commission to advertising agencies are determined and made by media proprietors.
Who makes the payments? Are they pooled and distributed by the Commonwealth Advertising Council, as I am told in an answer in this Parliament on 16th May, or are payments of commission to advertising agencies determined and made by media propietors, as I was told in a letter from the Acting Minister on 13 th June? I remind the Attorney-General that the general question of information being known and being made available to the Parliament was to be referred by him to the Minister for further information as to the situation and as to whether information could be made available to the Parliament. I think that somewhere in the Hansard records the Minister is reported as having said that he would refer the matter to the responsible Minister for further information. Is the Minister able to give that information?
– Senator Mulvihill asked whether action would be taken by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) to give effect to the recommendations of the Mount Hagen conference concerning fauna conservation and protection. I recall that in the Estimates Committee Senator Mulvihill was given information that a recommendation from the officers who had met at Mount Hagen, I think earlier this year -
– My information was that it was on the Minister’s desk for implementation or otherwise.
– It was suggested that there should be a meeting. I understand that consideration of the matter is progressing. The phrase which the officer used, and which Senator Mulvihill has repeated, ‘It was on the Minister’s desk’, is a fair description. The matter is under Ministerial consideration at present. I am quite sure that Senator Mulvihill appreciates that Ministers, as with Senators, have had a fairly hectic time during these last 2 to 3 weeks. A number of decisions have not been able to be taken with the promptitude with which they were able to be taken when pressures are not so strong. I think he appreciates the interest and concern which the Minister has in this area. Any action is sure to be prompted and assisted by the obvious concern which Senator Mulvihill has expressed both in the Estimates Committee meeting and here. Tn any event the Minister will have the opportunity of reading his comments.
Senator Douglas McClelland has raised 2 matters, the first of which relates to the report of the Australian Film Development Corporation which, as f recall from the legislation, is required to be tabled in the Parliament each year. I think Senator Douglas McClelland raised this matter in the Estimates Committee and was informed of the position as at 17th October, the dateon which he asked his question.
– That appears at the bottom of page 465 of the Hansard report of the meeting of the Estimates Committee.
– I thank the honourable senator. He asked when the report might be made available because he wanted to see it to help his consideration of the estimates. He was told by the officer concerned that the Corporation was relatively new. All honourable senators know that it is in only its second year of operation at present. The officer said:
It took us longer than we would anticipate in future to prepare the annual report. It took the Auditor-General, because of the newness and the nature of the operation we are conducting, longer to audit. The figures are in fact in Canberra at this time for forma! approval at the AuditorGeneral’s office in Canberra and I would anticipate that the report would be with our Minister within a week or so.
Senator Douglas McClelland then asked:
But it has not as yet been made available to the Parliament?
Mr Stacey replied:
That is so.
I do not suggest for one moment that senators and members are not entitled to have reports on the operations of statutory corporations as soon as possible after 30th June each year.
– Especially when a parliament is being dissolved.
– Whether the parliament is being dissolved, I think the point that Senator Douglas McClelland made is a valid point, and I do not seek to question it. I think he appreciates that there are greater problems, with a recently established corporation than there are with one that has been in operation for a longer period, in getting the necessary material together, in getting the approval of the Auditor-General, in getting the material through the Printing Office and in having the report tabled in the Senate. He will recall that this morning I think about 12 reports of one form or another were presented to the Senate. One of the reasons why such a large number was presented is that the Government Printer in recent weeks has been in a position to get printing clone. Likewise, the material is coming through from the departments in a rush to get it tabled in the parliament before parliament rises. There are physical problem,1! not only of printing but also of having the necessary material collated in the departments and approved, where it has to be approved, by the Auditor-General.
– Parliament either means something or it does nol, and that is the principle involved.
– I am sure that the point which Senator Douglas McClelland raised is not under challenge. To the extent that one can get reports out quickly, every effort is made to do so. Sometimes practical difficulties prevent one doing so. To give an example, yesterday I presented to the Senate in a form not available to all honourable senators a report on the operations of the Bankruptcy Act. I am required by statute to place that before the Parliament. I presented a typed copy. A copy is available in the Library, a copy was presented in the Senate and a copy was presented in the House of Representatives, but it was not physically possible to get that report printed by the Government Printer in time to present printed copies. Honourable senators will get copies in due course, when it is printed. I mention that to illustrate the problem and to suggest that Senator Douglas McClelland, in his strictures, might bear in mind those facts and also the fact that officers of departments who have to carry the burden do the best they can in the circumstances. I noted what the honourable senators said about moving that the Estimates be deferred if this happens next year. I acknowledge with appreciation the right which he will have to do that next year.
The other point to which Senator Douglas McClelland referred concerned the Commonwealth Advertising Council. He raised this matter, as did Senator McLaren and it seems to me a number of other senators, in the course of the hearing by the Estimates Committee, and discussion proceeded for a very long time. Material was sought from the Minister. It has been supplied. The appendices to the report presented by Estimates Committee B contain a letter from the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) which gives the Minister’s answers to the particular problems which concerned Senator Douglas McClelland during the course of the hearing. I think the fundamental point to be recognised is that the Commonwealth Advertising Council, which apportions money to various agencies which are entitled to remuneration for the work that they have done for the Commonwealth, is not a government body. Therefore the Commonwealth Government has no power to direct the Council to provide confidential information which it says that it wants to preserve as confidential. The Commonwealth has no rights in the matter because the moneys which the Commonwealth Advertising Council disburses to the various agencies are the commissions which are paid by the media to the Council for distribution to the agencies. Obviously those commissions, once they are paid by the media, are moneys which in total belong to the persons who ultimately will receive them. It is not the Commonwealth Government; it is the various agencies which are entitled to commissions as fees or remuneration–
– But the Commonwealth meets the commission payments, surely.
– The Government does not meet the commission; the media pay the commission. That is obviously the position. The Minister said in his letter:
In view of the nature of the discussion by the Estimates Committee, I wouldlike to emphasise that- the commissions to the advertising agencies are determined and allowed by the media proprietors, not by the Commonwealth: whilst the commissions are allowed from moneys paid to the media from the public purse, the commissions themselves are not public moneys; not being public moneys, the commissions are not subject to audit by the AuditorGeneral and the Commonwealth has no right to require the Commonwealth Advertising Council to divulge its allocation of the commissions to individual agencies.
The Minister went on to say:
In a question in Committee, Senator Douglas McClelland implied that there was an inconsistency between the answer which he was given to Question No. 1983 -
That is the question Senator Douglas McClelland referred to earlier today - and the letter of 13th June which he later received from the Acting Minister. In fact, there is no real inconsistency. Payments of commission are determined and made by media proprietors but the payments are not made directly to the advertising agencies because, within the industry, it has been decided that the payments shall first be lodged in a pool account and then distributed to individual agencies by the Commonwealth Advertising Council according to a formula which it has established.
That to me is perfectly clear. It may be that I have an appreciation of it because I sense more readily than Senator Douglas McClelland and maybe some other honourable senators the legal implications of the position.
The obligation by the Commonwealth is an obligation to pay the media which provide the advertising which the Commonwealth has sought. Certainly there is an obligation on the part of the Government to pay the media, and that is payment for services rendered. But the obligation to pay the advertising agencies which have secured the advertising is an obligation of the media themselves, not the Commonwealth. All the Commonwealth knows it has to do is to pay out the enormous sums it does pay out each year to the media which accept the obligation of advertising as the Commonwealth has directed. The various media are happy to get the advertising, and they get it because of the work of the advertising agents to whom they must make payment. They make payment out of the moneys they have received from the Commonwealth. That commission is therefore paid by the media, through this Commonwealth Advertising Council, to the agencies which are entitled to it. That to me is clearly the legal position. It is the position which the Minister has asserted in answers which he has given to honourable senators’ questions and in the aproach which was made to all these questions when they were asked in the Estimates Committee. As I said, I think it is an obviously clear position, but if Senator Douglas McClelland desires to seek further elaboration, I will do the best for him that I can.
– May I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) through you, Mr Temporary Chairman, to explain one matter to me? 1 am confused about it. I do not know whether other honourable senators are confused. Is this money paid into the Government department? Does the Government department handle the money at all?
– Each department has some advertising requirements and it will usually arrange for that advertising to be obtained through the services of the Commonwealth body which is responsible. But when the advertising is secured and the bill is rendered, it is a bill which is rendered by the media which have produced the advertising - by the radio station, television channel or newspaper which has provided it. Obviously the relevant department pays the medium concerned. The medium then has an obligation to pay a commission to the agency which has arranged the advertising for the benefit of the medium. So the commission is paid by media proprietors to the Commonwealth Advertising Council, which is, of course, the agencies’ body. By arrangement, there is a pool account into which the money is paid and from which comes the money to pay the advertising agents who are entitled to it.
– I am not going to continue the discussion unduly as 1 can see that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and 1 are completely at loggerheads. I completely understand what the Attorney-General has had to say, but I disagree with his interpretation. First of all. he said that the Commonwealth Advertising Council is the agencies’ body. The fact is, it is a body established by the Commonwealth. The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts appoints 4 or 5, whatever the number, of his own representatives to the Commonwealth Advertising Council. The others ara elected from those who have done media work for and on behalf of the Commonwealth in the preceding 2 years. So the right of election to the Commonwealth Advertising Council is restricted, in the first instance, to those who have done work for and on behalf of the Commonwealth in the preceding 2 years. It does not relate to alf advertising agencies. Election to it is restricted to those who have done work for the Commonwealth. The Minister also has the power of appointment. He appoints 4 or 5 representatives of advertising agencies to be, as it were, representatives of the Commonwealth.
How the Minister can say that the Commonwealth Advertising Council is an agencies’ body is, frankly, completely beyond me. It is a body that is responsible to the Minister and it is a body, as I understand it, that is set up to advise the Government how and where the advertising to be indulged in for and on behalf of the Commonwealth should be done. I will not delay the Committee any further. I think there is a conflict that cannot be resolved here. I think that basically it is very wrong that the Parliament cannot ascertain how certain public moneys are spent, where they are spent and with whom they are spent.
– I think there is obvious benefit in elaborating on this matter as it goes along. On 22nd February of this year Senator Douglas McClelland was given the following answer to a question he asked about the Commonwealth Advertising Council:
Five members are elected biennially on the votes of agencies which, during the preceding 2 years, have participated in (he planning, originating or production of Commonwealth advertising.
The other 5 members represent agencies rendering placing-charging services to the Commonwealth. They hold membership for the duration of their appointment by the Commonwealth in this capacity.
My recollection is that I provided details of the membership of the Council during the course of the Estimates Committee B hearings. It is not correct to say, as the honourable senator did, that the Commonwealth Advertising Council is a body the members of which are appointed by the Commonwealth. It is a body which is representative of the agencies which have the job of securing the advertising which the Commonwealth departments want to do.
– I do not wan: to delay the proceedings, but I want this matter sorted out. Will the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) ascertain from his officers whether any of the members of the Commonwealth Advertising Council are appointed to the Council by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts?
– I think I have already answered that question. 1 again refer Senator Douglas McClelland to the answer he was given on 22nd February this year to a question he asked concerning the Commonwealth Advertising Council. The provision which may have led to part of the misunderstanding which, obviously, is present is the one to the effect that there are 5 members who represent agencies rendering placing/charging services to the Commonwealth. They hold membership for the duration of their appointment by the Commonwealth in this capacity. Insofar as the Commonwealth appoints represen tatives of certain agencies - 5 agencies - they will be members of the Council because they hold those appointments, but they do not even represent a majority of the Council. In the ordinary language which is used, to say that the Minister appoints the members of the Council is, as the answer with which the honourable senator was provided indicates, incorrect.
– I have several matters I wish to raise in our consideration of the proposed expenditure for this Department. One of them is the matter which has just been under discussion. My colleague Senator Douglas McClelland has stated that he and I went to a great deal of trouble in trying to ascertain during Estimates Committee hearings where this money was spent. I will not delve into that any further today, except to register my disapproval that an amount of $5m of taxpayers’ money is being spent by the Commonwealth but we, as members of this Federal Parliament, cannot under any circumstances, and despite all the queries we have put, find out where the money goes, to which company this money is paid and how it is used. 1 leave it at that. I hope that perhaps in the next 12 months we will be able to ascertain just who is getting that money.
One of several matters which I wish to raise is a matter which I raised during (he Estimates Committee B hearings in relation to the purchase price paid for Everard Park. I was given an undertaking by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) that he would do all in his power to have information made available. My question was:
May I ask the Minister whether he will see that this information is made available to this Committee before we deal with the appropriate matter in the Committee of the whole iri the Senate?
Senator Wright replied:
I will make that request, certainly.
I hope that Senator Greenwood has the information available. Another matter I wish to raise relates to the Aputule Housing Society at Finke. I sought some information on the operations of that Society and the reason why the Commonwealth Government was not channelling some of the work of the Office of Aboriginal
Affairs through that Society. I hope that there is some answer to the question I raised.
Another matter which I raised was the setting up of an Aboriginal museum. I will read out the reply given by an officer of the Department at the hearing of Estimates Committee B:
This is partly a matter of policy, but as far as the Gallery is concerned there is a section of the National Gallery which is going to be devoted to Aboriginal art as art. There are also plans for a gallery of southern man which are currently being considered. This would include Aboriginal art and also art of the Pacific Basin. But this is still in the planning stage.
In the following answer I was told:
The Minister is in the process of appointing a committee to investigate the matter.
I would like the Minister to inform the Senate of the guidelines his colleague is using to select members of that committee. Ls it his intention to appoint to that committee persons who, over the years, have shown a very deep interest in the welfare of Aborigines and the preservation of their culture and heritage? Can the Minister give an assurance that the committee will be staffed by persons of the calibre that I have mentioned? They are the matters on which I would like to have some answers
– In regard to the last part of the honourable senator’s remarks, I think he must appreciate that I am not in a position to give him the particular information that he seeks with that categorical assurance that he is looking for. 1 can only say that I will refer that part of his remarks to the responsible Minister for his consideration and it will be for him to supply to the honourable senator what information he is able to give. I am just not in a position to do so and, because it is a matter on which he wants information from the Minister himself, my officers are not in a position to assist the honourable senator.
I still feel that the matter of advertising is misunderstood by Senator McLaren. His suggestion that in some way he is entitled to or wants information which is being withheld is completely unwarranted. I am sure that if he read the Hansard record of what took place during the sitting of the Estimates Committee and if he has followed what has been said here today he would appreciate the position quite clearly. The information is available publicly. Senator Douglas McClelland has asked questions about it and the answers have been given to him. The matter was referred to in the Estimates Committee. For example, the departments have estimated their advertising expenditures during 1971-72.
Set out in the report of the Estimates Committee is what each department proposed to spend on advertising. The total amount involved is $5, 196,000. Also, there was an indication as to which Commonwealth instrumentalities had their own advertising arrangements. The various Commonwealth advertising and charging agencies were also set out. If it is appreciated that the Commonwealth’s fiancial obligation is the obligation to pay a lump sum to the media proprietor who has given the advertising then it will be appreciated that that is the sole extent of the Commonwealth’s obligation. When that money is paid the Commonwealth has paid for its advertising.
What Senator McLaren is seeking - I. do not know whether Senator Douglas McClelland wants it also - are the details of how much is paid by those media proprietors to the various agencies. The Commonwealth is not in a position to give that information because the various agencies have established this Commonwealth Advertising Council. It has all the commissions from the media proprietors paid into a pool account. In accordance with its own arrangement, which surely it is entitled to make and which it has made, it allocates to each of the agencies what sum is appropriated according to the formula it has devised. That is not Commonwealth material. It is not information which the Commonwealth has power over, lt is not information which the Commonwealth has. Therefore, the Commonwealth cannot provide it to Senator McLaren. On that understanding of the situation I think that this constant imputation that the Commonwealth Government is in some way hiding something lacks any credibility or basis. 1 cannot take the matter any further than that. I am not able to give the. honourable senator very much information as to the Everard Park issue because I was not present at the Estimates Committee hearing at the time that question was raised and L am a little at a loss to obtain that information readily. I will look at the Hansard record, speak to the officers and see whether I can get the material to the honourable senator in some other way.
– As the Chairman of Senate Estimates Committee B, I want to make a further reference for the sake of the Hansard record, as I did during the hearings of the Committee, to the environment section of the estimates which we are discussing at present. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) will recall that towards the close of the hearings 1 drew attention to what I considered quite an inadequate amount of detail in the explanatory notes relating to the whole field of the environment. I asked a number of questions about funds which might be provided for a number of interstate organisations, authorities and establishments as well as about funds set aside for other matters relating to the environment such as water, noise oi the air. At the close of the hearings the Minister provided us with a document which was incorporated in the Hansard record. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge it and to indicate that it has provided a substantial amount of information. 1 hope that the Minister will recognise that the members of the Committee sought this information and that when the departmental estimates are being considered again and the explanatory notes are being prepared, it will be remembered that there are a number of honourable senators who would be grateful for more detailed information. For the present I acknowledge that the information which has been given to us has answered a great number of the questions raised. However, there are still some matters that can be taken up and discussed at a later time.
– I only acknowledge what Senator Davidson has said and remind him of his own words last night, that Senate Estimates Committees are evolutionary, as we proceed we learn.
– 1 do not want the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to take what 1 am about to say as an indication that I, or any other senator, wants to quarrel with him in any way. The Minister appears io express surprise. I am not being modest about this. If the Minister wants to fight about it, that is what we will do.
– I have been a model of docility all morning and here you are suggesting that there is a fight on.
– I am not. The Minister suggested that some of the questions we were asking were unwarranted. I listened to what Senator Douglas McClelland said during the hearings of the Estimates Committee and in the chamber today. 1 had only one question to put to the Minister, and that was whether the money was to be handled by the Commonwealth, and the Minister said yes. Therefore 1 claim that our questions are not unwarranted. In my own humble way, I can see that something could quite easily be done that is not 100 per cent according to Hoyle. I am not suggesting for one moment that the Minister, the Government or any of the officers is doing anything suspect. But surely if we think we see a way in which this could happen, then we are entitled to ask a question about it. I will not pursue the matter any further, but in my own way I will try to establish to my satisfaction whether I am right or wrong. Ff I am right f will raise the matter again. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything wrong, but I am defending the right of honourable senators to ask questions without being challenged and without having it stated that their questions are unwarranted.
– The fact that a question has been asked and that an honourable senator is entitled to ask it is not being disputed. All I say is that if the answers are given consistently and clearly then really the import of those answers ought to be accepted. Let me simply put it this way: If Senator Milliner wants to put an advertisement in a newspaper and he goes to a newsagent and lodges the advertisement for placement in the newspaper he will pay a lump sum to the newsagent for that advertisement. Whatever commission is allowed by the newspaper to the newsagent is not a matter which concerns him. and if he starts asking questions he might be told to mind his own business
– 1 hope you do noi say that.
– I would not.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) has given an example of a man who might be told to mind his own business. I suggest that that is exactly what the Minister is telling us to do in relation to this matter.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
– Is it the wish of the. Committee to deal with the group of estimates considered by Senate Estimates Committee C as a whole? Is there any objection to that course being followed.
– Yes,Iobject to it.
Department of Works - proposed expenditure, $87,382,000 and proposed provision, $103,884,000 agreed to.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $105,040,000.
– I refer to Division 270. subdivision 5. item 04 - Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan,$600,000. I want to know whether Nigeria is included under this plan and how this amount of $600,000 is disbursed. I emphasise that Uganda seems to be out of step with all other Commonwealth countries including countries such as Kenya with which we have a good relationship. Is there any idea of excluding Nigeria from receiving this aid? In view of the comments by the leader of Nigeria, is he accepting aid from us?
– I regret that I am not in a position to provide a specific reply, but I assure the honourable senator that 1 will obtain the information for him before the Senate rises.
– I have 2 other matters to raise. I refer to Division 270, sub-division 4, item 12 - United Nations - Cost of Peace keeping Force in Cyprus. I understand that the force is supplied on a quota basis by the various State police forces. I also understand that for reasons best known to himself the Queensland Premier decided to pull out his quota from Cyprus.
I want to know whether the other States had to provide extra police in order to maintain the contingent at full strength.
I also refer to Division 270, sub-division 5, item 26 - South East Asia Treaty Organisisation - Aid Programme. In view of some of the revelations of the United States Senate committees which look at the question of where American aid is going and the fact that we are providing $2m under this aid programme, I would like to know whether we have any check on the currupt merchant group that permeates a lot of South East Asian countries. Do we try to circumvent them? How is the money disbursed? Do we try to get down to the village level - to provide the aid to village co-operatives - or does somebody in the Asian capital cities obtain a rake-off? I am not indicating our own officers who have the best of intentions, but I am trying to evolve a system whereby we can weed out these blackmarketeers who have been found to exist by the United States Senate committees.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania- Minister for Works (12.39) - Senator Mulvihill asked for information about the United Nations peace keeping force in Cyprus. He wanted to know whether the other States supplied the quota which Queensland withdrew. I will have to check that in detail. With regard to his question concerning the South East Asia Treaty Organisation aid programme, if I can make a general statement to the Committee, I think it will appear - and 1 think I can give honourable senators an absolute assurance about this - that the method of payment adopted by the Department gives blackmarketeers and intermediaries no opportunity of being advantaged by this aid. The way in which the aid is given precludes any such exploitation. However, I will give the honourable senator a reference to the specific notes prepared by the Department before the Senate rises because to turn up each note now in the Committee while considering appropriations generally would detain other honourable senators too long.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed expenditure, $26,004,000
Proposed provision. $931,000
– I refer to the appropriation for the Department of Labour and National Service in Division 370, which deals with administration. I am much concerned with the appointment of conciliation commissioners so as speedily to improve public relations between employers and employees. In a newspaper yesterday I saw an announcement by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) that 6 more commissioners had been appointed. I am concerned when the Parliament appears to be given false information for some purpose. I refer to a clause of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which was debated in this House on 26th May. The Senate rejected the Government’s proposal to increase the salaries of commissioners. One of the arguments used to attempt to persuade the Senate not to reject the clause was the difficulty of obtaining commissioners with the salary then offered. I recognise that the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service in this House did not have charge of the Bill; Senator Greenwood was responsible. On page 2199 of Hansard Senator Greenwood is reported as stating:
The lower salaries which are paid to the conciliation commissioners in the Commonwealth area place the Commonwealth at a disadvantage in obtaining suitably qualified persons to act as commissioners. The inescapable fact is that the present salaries are too low to attract suitably qualified persons from industry, from employer organisations or from government service to become commissioners. It will be extremely difficult to fill the additional positions of commissioner that will be required to be filled in order to give effect to these new procedures at the current salary levels.
One can realise the persuasive influence of such a statement coming from such an authoritative source. I was much concerned with this because I know someone who made an unsuccesful application to be a commissioner. From my knowledge of the individual he would be very suitable for the job. He has a wealth of experience in industrial matters and has been an industrial advocate. Therefore, I asked a series of questions of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and asked him to verify his statement. On 23rd February 1972 I asked:
In the 1970 report of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission did Sir Richard Kirby refer to the need for 2 additional commissioners to be appointed? Was one appoint ment only made in the ensuing12 months? Inhis 1971 report did Sir Richard Kirby express the urgent necessity for a new appointment of a commissioner and a further judge to replace Mr Justice Gallagher? Has any appointment been made, as requested? If not, when will the 2 appointments be made?
Senator Wright, representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, replied:
I have quite clear recollection of reading the references in the chief judge’s report under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to which the honourable senator has referred. I have no recollection of the particular vacancies mentioned by him, but I shall ascertain from the Minister what proposals for filling these vacancies he is prepared to disclose at present. Until appointments are made these naturally are matters as to which discretion must be exercised in the publication of facts.
I was concerned that the Chief Judge had recommended the appointments and that nothing had happened except that had been given in May that there was difficulty in filling the vacancies for commissioners because it was felt that the salary offered was too low. I was concerned about whether the Department was really trying to obtain commissioners and asked a question to that effect. It is question on notice No. 2351. I asked:
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) replied that the advertisment placed in the newspapers during June 1972 represented the first occasion on which application were invited for appointment as commissioners in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It had not been the practice previously to advertise vacant positions and to invite applications. He further advised that 188 applications had been received.
Sir Richard Kirby, the Chief Judge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, said in his report in 1970 that there was a shortage of commissioners. We were subsequently told that the low salary offered was creating difficulties in filling the vacancies. Following questions about what attempts were being made to fill the vacancies we found that they had not been advertised. I then asked the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents in the Senate the Minister for Labour and National Service:
In view of the statement of the AttorneyGeneral on the difficulties of filling vacancies for industrial commissioners as reported by Sir Richard Kirby in 1970, what efforts have been made by the Department of Labour and National Service since August 1970 to fill the vacancies? Were public advertisements placed for applicants? If so, in which media of information were they inserted? Over the period of 2 years have any applications been received for appointment as commissioner which have been unsuccessful? In view of the difficulties in attracting suitable people al the present salary level, as staled during the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, will the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the immediate future have to operate with either a shortage of commissioners or wilh unsuitable personnel?
Senator Wright replied:
In the honourable senator’s question he refers to the report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of August 1970. This report bears the date 11th December 1970 and was not tabled in the House of Representatives until 24th February 1971 and in the Senate on the following day. As mentioned in my supplementary answer to a question asked by the honourable senator on 23rd February-
– February of which year?
– February 1972. Senator Wright went on in his answer: on 23rd February (Hansard. 23rd May 1972, pages 1945-6) Mr Commissioner Stanton was appointed on 5th April 1971. I also mentioned that there was a need for further appointments of commissioners and presidential members to the Commission but that the nature and number of these appointments would be affected by the outcome of the consideration by Parliament of the Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The statement went on:
Following the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in the last Parliamentary Session advertisements for applications for appointment as Commissioner were placed in newspapers in June 1972 as follows: 10th and 14th June, Melbourne, the ‘Age’ and the ‘Sun’; Sydney, The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’; Brisbane, the ‘Courier-Mail’; Adelaide, the ‘Advertiser’; Perth, the ‘West Australian’; Hobart, the Mercury’; Newcastle, ‘Newcastle Morning Herald’; Canberra, the ‘Canberra Times’; National, the Australian’, the ‘Australian Financial Review’; 16th June, Melbourne, the ‘Herald’; Brisbane, the Telegraph’.
The President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission reported in 1970 a shortage of staff. The Senate was told that this shortage was due to the standard of salary offered to Commissioners. This was impressed upon us and used for the purpose of persuading us to pass a Bill in this House which provided for salary increases. However, the Department did nothing from the time of Sir Richard Kirby’s report in 1970 until June 1972 in the way of advertising for persons to fill the vacancies, and when it did advertise it received 188 replies. Obviously there had been plenty of applicants at any time for these vacancies and therefore the argument should never have been used in the debate that the Parliament should take certain action as a result of the Bill that was then before the House. The House was misinformed. There was no attempt to get the information.
What the qualifications of the respective 188 applicants are, I do not know. But the fact that those who have been appointed as conciliation and arbitration commissioners, as announced in the Press today, are connected with industrial affairs and are associated with either certain trade unions or employers organisations creates some suspicion whether the most suitable of the applicants were appointed. 1 do not want to be taken as being critical of any person who has been appointed, and I am not saying that any of the new appointees does not possess the required qualifications. But I am querying whether some of the applicants had higher qualifications than some who were appointed, or whether the nature of a trade union or an industry with which their industrial activities were associated debarred them from appointment in favour of someone from a union or an industry which was more acceptable to the Government. I think it is open to query - I appreciate the difficulties of this - whether full details in justification of the appointments announced today should not be made known to the Senate.
– During the contentious debate on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill earlier this year, in response to challenges by Opposition senators the Government repeatedly gave assurances that it sought peace and harmony in industry and was doing everything possible to facilitate the working of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. As Senator Cavanagh has said, for the first time applications were called to fill vacancies for Commissioners and almost 200 applications were received from people in all sections of the community concerned with industrial relations. The advertisement stated that the applications were being called to fill vacancies caused by retirements of commissioners and to ensure the effective operation of the new conciliation and arbitration procedures introduced by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act earlier this year. But what do we find the Government has done in relation to the appointments which were announced in the Press? There are 2 representatives from employer organisations and 2 representatives who possess Australian Democratic Labor Party influence. One of them, Mr F. W. J. Brown, is a Queenslander. Until recently he was an official of the Queensland Federated Clerks Union. He resigned from that position on account of ill health. At the time of his appointment he was a clerk with the Australian Workers Union in Queensland. Honourable senators will appreciate that it is a pretty decent lift from the position of clerk to commissioner of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– He was not in good health?
– In fairness I must say that Mr Brown has a history of resignations from many jobs due to ill health. A useful suggestion which might be taken by the Minister is that before appointments to the Commission are confirmed the appointees should have to pass a medical examination.
– Put them under Harry Bath.
– It is an arduous, strenuous and demanding position. I felt that I must rise to express some concern that the appointments are not in line with the assurance which the Government has continually given whenever trade unions arid the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission relations are under discussion. The Government says that it is avoiding confrontation; it is not purposely setting out to attack the wicked trade unions and that it is doing everything humanly possible to facilitate the work of this Commission. But surely anyone with common sense must realise that this is an extraordinary situation which has been brought about by the Government.
As I said earlier, 2 of the commissioners are from employer organisations and the other 2 are gentlemen who possess DLP influence. Surely this will not do anything to improve relations between management and the trade unions. This is a big blow to the system and one which completely vindicates the stand which was taken by Opposition senators during the debate earlier this year on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The Opposition claimed that the Government was introducing legislation to stifle the amalgamation of unions for political expediency. The measure was forced upon the Government by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The Government knew that if it did not accede to the request of that body its electoral prospects which are very low at the moment would be infinitely worse. The appointments which have been announced completely justify the stand which Opposition senators took in that debate. In all sincerity I feel that the appointments made - particularly 2 of them - are a big blow to the system of conciliation and arbitration.
– I am sure that Senator McAuliffe would agree with me that it would be highly inappropriate to discuss personal aspects of appointees to such an impartial tribunal as the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I ask Senator McAuliffe to remind himself of the history of appointees in the past. I suggest to him that whether they have come from the employee side or the employer side, an examination of their performance and experience in the discharge of their arbitral functions will show that their previous affiliation with one side or the other does not affect the performance or the confidence which they have gained in the industrial world. I venture to suggest that as far as numerical comparison of appointees from employers or employees is concerned, no adverse criticism can be made on the basis that there is a greater number from one side or the other. I listened intently to Senator Cavanagh’s argument and I understand it, but I suggest that the reply which can be given to his satisfaction is that Senator Greenwood’s argument in the circumstances of that debate as to the difficulty in obtaining appointees was made when the practice was not to advertise for persons to fill that position. I think that Senator Cavanagh will realise that advertising was an entirely new step in relation to positions such as this.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– I want to round off what I said to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) on this matter. I said that I thought it was very unjust that the Parliament was deceived. The Minister replied that he thought I would accept that in the circumstances, and bearing in mind the conditions that applied, it was not a practice of the Department of Labour and National Service to advertise that there was a shortage of suitable candidates for the position of commissioner. What I said in my remarks was that I had known of an applicant who I thought would have been suitable for the job. He was not appointed. I thought that applications had been lodged with the Department. I at least know that there was one application. I think that the Minister, in view of the fair attitude he has taken on this question, would agree with me that any difficulties in obtaining applicants would be overcome by advertising the positions. When advertisements were inserted in the Press 188 applications were received. This information was provided in the Minister’s reply to a question by Senator McAuliffe.
The Minister upholds the qualifications of those who have been appointed. So it would appear that there were suitable applicants as a result of an advertisement being inserted in the Press. As the simple solution to any difficulty of filling the positions os to place an advertisement in the Press, can the Minister for Works honestly say that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who was in charge of the Bill which provided for the appointment of these men, was justified on 26th May in saying:
The inescapable fact is that the present salaries are too low to attract suitably qualified persons from industry, from employer organisations or from government service to become commissioners. It will be extremely difficult to fill the additional positions of commissioner that will be required to be filled in order to give effect to these new procedures at the current salary levels.
Was this statement justified? Events since then have proved that it was no: justified, but was a statement made by a responsible Minister at the time for the purpose of persuading the Senate to take a course of action that it was reluctant to take.
– I find this discussion particularly interesting because I have always been under the impression that there was no political test for an appointment to a position under the Commonwealth Government. Now I find that there is an obvious attempt by members of the Australian Labor Party to demand a political test. The suggestion that has been made is that a person may have been appointed a commissioner because of his political views. I have watched these appointments over the years and it has interested me that as far as I know none of the many friends and supporters of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the trade union movement has ever obtained an appointment to one of these positions.
– What about Jack Horan?
– Mr Horan always said he was a member of the Labor Party. He resigned from the Party, which at the time claimed to be the ALP and with which I was associated, before he was appointed. So I can only say that no person who has ever been associated with the Democratic Labor Party, in spite of the considerable number of trade unionists who have been associated with it, has ever been appointed to one of these positions.
– Are you saying that Mr Horan was not associated with you people?
– He was a member of the Australian Labor Party and when the split occurred he resigned from the group with which I was associated and which still claimed to be the legitimate Party. He resigned from that Party before he was appointed. I would know this better than Senator Poyser because I was the assistant secretary at the time and I received Mr Horan’s resignation from the
Party before his appointment. The Australian Labor Party’s attitude is that a person should be appointed to a position not on his ability as a trade unionist and on his knowledge of industrial affairs but because he is politically orthodox. I ask those listening to this debate to realise that if a Labor government is elected its primary consideration in any appointment to any position apparently will be that the person under consideration is sympathetic to the political standpoint of the Australian Labor Party. To me, that is a revolting prospect.
– Who said that?
– Senator Poyser is Baying it. He has said today that a man who has sympathies with the Democratic Labor Party is not eligible for appointment as a commissioner. Senator McAuliffe has said it, too, and I am surprised at this because I have had a lot of regard for him. I can only wonder whether his arm has been twisted from the Brisbane Trades Hall.
– Tell the people of Australia how you are laughing now.
– Senator Milliner laughs, but he and I have been in the game for a long time. We have been around the course. I know how these things are done, and so does he. It was said that Mr Brown was just a clerk in the office of the Australian Workers Union. Mr Brown had been secretary of the Federated Clerks Union in Queensland.
– But he is not at the moment.
– No, but he had that experience. I would have thought that, when one selected a man for a position such as this, one would examine his whole field of experience. Senator McAuliffe says that this man, who has been secretary of the Federated Clerks Union in a most important State, is ineligible to be appointed as a commissioner because he does not like his political views. It is a scandal that a senator should come into this chamber and advocate that in making an appointment to a position one should ascertain a man’s political views first and his experience and qualifications for the position should come at some later stage.
– That is what Labor would do.
– That is what we could look forward to under a Labor government. If that is the way things are to be run, the people of Australia had better have a good look at what will happen. It will be a bad day for this country if people are appointed to jobs only if the Australian Labor Party approves of their political views. Mr Brown is not a member of the Democratic Labor Party, but members of the Australian Labor Party have said: ‘We think he has sympathies with it’. In Japan before the war there was a crime known as dangerous thoughts. People were arrested and put in prison in Japan before the war for having dangerous thoughts. Mr Brown is not a member of the Democratic Labor Party but the Australian Labor Party suspects that he sympathises with the DLP and so, because of his dangerous thoughts, they say he is not eligible to be appointed. That used to be described as fascism but today it is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. I know that honourable senators opposite will say: ‘We did not say that’ because this matter is now being put right at their front door.
I have been in the Senate for years and I have read of man after man who was a member of the Australian Labor Party being appointed as a conciliation commissioner. I have never said that he should not have been appointed because I did not like his political views. If he had the trade union experience and was a man of integrity, why should I have objected because he was a member of the ALP? 1 have a lot of good friends who are members of the ALP and they are very good people, too. It is appalling that, 17 years after the establishment of the DLP, when a man has received the nomination for appointment as a Conciliation Commissioner members of the Australian Labor Party stand in this Senate and say that he should not have received it. They do not say that he is a member of the DLP, but they say: ‘We suspect that he is sympathetic to the DLP’. Where are we getting to? What has been put forward today is an absolute scandal. If honourable senators opposite think that Mr Brown is not qualified because of his trade union experience or if they do not think that he has sufficient experience in industrial affairs they are entitled to stand and attack him. But they should not attack him because, although he may not be a member of the DLP, they suspect that he is sympathetic to the DLP.
I have listened in the Senate night after night to honourable senators opposite. 1 listened to them last night talking about Rugby League. Despite all the imporant issues that are before this Senate, I listened to a long talk from somebody about how good Rugby League was. Then I listened to somebody else who wanted to say what a good thing Rugby Union was and 1 put up with it. But we have now reached the stage where a man who has been the secretary of a big union and who now occupies an important position in another big union has received the nomination for a job and members of the Opposition get up and say: We are against it, not because he does not have the experience, not because he is not qualified and not because he is a member of the DLP, but because we suspect that he is sympathetic to the DLP’. All I can say is that this entire procedure indicates the kind of attitude that will be adopted by a Labor government, where dangerous thoughts will be a crime.
– I rise to take part in this debate only because this morning I was possibly the unwitting instigator of the discussion that is now taking place. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who has a smile on his face, would know that I asked him this morning whether, off the cuff, he could give us a form guide on the backgrounds of the 6 successful applicants. lt was from that question that, at a later stage, Senator McAuliffe made his comments. 1 think that Senator McM~.nus completely misinterpreted the motives of Senator McAuliffe in raising this matter on behalf of the Parliamentary Labor Party. Senator McAuliffe said, among other things - this made me prick up my ears, and later I shall explain why - that Mr Brown was a senior official of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia and that he had resigned, in fact had resigned from several jobs, because of ill health. We are always sorry for anyone who is struck down with illness. But in my book, no matter what Party he may be from, if ? man is not physically fit to carry out a highly paid job, he should not accept the position. I do not argue about what Sena tor McManus said; Mr Brown may have been a good colt with the Federated Clerk., Union. But apparently at a certain point of time, perhaps because of modern stresses, he was not capable of carrying out his duties and he took a lesser job as a clerk with the Australian Workers Union.
I would like to know whether if Mr Brown were put through a physical training course it would be found that he could carry out the job. Earlier, by way of interjection, I mentioned Harry Bath, the New South Wales equivalent to Victoria’s Ron Barassi, in relation to physical fitness. 1 contend that the appointee must be physically fit. My whole criterion is that a man should be fit to do a job. On one memorable occasion here no less a person than a man for whom I have the utmost respect, a former senator and a former Prime Minister, John Grey Gorton, objected when I questioned the appointment of a certain conciliation commissioner. If we are to do more than give lip service to the importance of the role of conciliation commissioners, we should be certain that the men appointed are fit and able to do their job. I have a close personal relationship with a number of conciliation commissioner, and I know that those who do their jobs properly have working hours that are on a par with ours. Their job is not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job from Monday to Friday. It involves many miles of travelling.
Once when 1 was on a Qantas aircraft somewhere over the Middle East the senior flight steward, a man who believed in the arbitration system, produced a log book and showed me the conditions that stewards were subject to. He complained about inferior hotel accommodation. He said: Here I am quoting from the log book and over there nodding and falling asleep is the conciliation commissioner who is responsible for our conditions.’ I suppose I am saying something against myself, Senator Georges and Senator McAuliffe when I say that although this man claimed to be a rugby referee that still did not make him fit, as far as I was concerned.
I intervene only to mention the circumstances surrounding any man may have the misfortune to become ill. We all know that parties to industrial disputes, no matter what side they are on, find that sitting around tables for hours on end drains all their energy reserves. If this man is to be appointed a conciliation commissioner all I want to know is whether he is fit. It is not a job for weaklings. Nobody asks a person to become a member of Parliament, and nobody asks a person to become a conciliation commissioner. The position is something like that of Bjelke-Petersen virtually refusing to provide a quota of police for the contingent in Cyprus; if a person is not doing his job properly he should not be eligible for appointment to a responsible position.
In the broad spectrum 1 think we are entitled to say that if there are 6 appointments of conciliation commissioners the trade union movement as a whole is entitled to at least 3 of them. Secondly, irrespective of whether people within the trade union spectrum give allegiance to the Communist Party or the Democratic Labor Party - I do not say this offensively, but they are a splinter segment of the trade union movement - as far as I am concerned and I am sure as far as Senator McAuliffe and his colleagues in Queenstend are concerned, they should be entitled to appointment provided they are physically fit to the job. But if a man is hopping around on 2 or 3 jobs and if he reaches a stage where he becomes a victim of hallucinations and can see communists or Democratic Labor Party supporters under his bed he cannot be said to have the objectivity that is required to do this job. I say to Senator Wright that if it is good enough for locomotive enginemen and airline pilots to have blood pressure tests every few years I am quite happy for parliamentarians to have them, and it is even more important for judges and conciliation commissioners to have them.
– May I intervene shortly to indicate that our attitude on this side of the House is quite clear, that in matters such as the appointment of conciliation commissioners there should be no discrimination on any ground, whether it be of religion or politics, and the mere fact that somebody had been a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party does not disqualify him from appointment to office. Indeed, I remember a very respected commissioner, the late Mr Horan-
– That was denied.
– I am open to correction but my understanding is that at some time he had been a member of the Democratic Labor Party.
– It was the AntiCommunist Labor Party.
– It is suggested that I may be wrong in what I am saying, which highlights the view I am putting, that a man’s political background is really irrelevant. The only question should be whether a man is qualified for appointment to a position and no discrimination should be practised in any area.
Anyone would become, upset, 1 suppose, if every appointment were made from members of the Australian Labor Party or from the Liberal Party, or if the number of appointments of a particular type indicated that some discrimination was occurring in favour of some religion or some political party. Everyone would have some reason to complain about such a state of affairs as, I suppose, women have some reason to complain about the failure to make sufficient appointments of women to positions in the Public Service and in the judiciary. Although one cannot point to any specific discrimination in a particular case, the facts of the matter are so overwhelming as to indicate a discrimination in practice. But I want to return to the case in point and make it clear, not let it go unresolved because of some misunderstanding or confusion: I think that everyone in this chamber would adhere to the view that there should be. no discrimination in matters of this kind on the grounds of previous party affiliations of whatever kind.
– I rise because I think I introduced discussion of this matter this morning. Senator Mulvihill has sought to take the blame for raising it. He can bear the cross if he so desires but I think that I contributed something to the discussion. I was most particular not to reflect upon the capabilities of the 2 appointees concerned. Their capabilities may make them suitable for the job. Because of my trade union activities, at some future time I may have to appear before these 2 individuals.
– You are not a man with 2 jobs, are you, senator?
– I think that it was taken up-
– Do not get jealous.
– Here again is this offensive noise that one hears coming from the back of the chamber. It drifts in all the time.
– It is the voice of conscience.
– The noise comes from a man who is not able now to represent any trade union because the trade unions rejected him years ago. I return to the matter under discussion. Senator McAuliffe asked whether these appointments were political. It is not that, we believe that politics should play a part in any appointment. The accusation now is that politics did play a part in these appointments. What we are saying is that this is wrong. Senator McManus accused us on the basis of what we said was the present position. When I raised this question I did not wish to denigrate someone who had received an appointment. I still will not reflect upon the qualifications of these men at all. But Senator Wright must remember that there are many on this side of the chamber who are Still active in the trade union movement. They know the qualifications of applicants for these positions.
My point is that by any test, there are men who would appear to have greater qualifications to fill these jobs than those who have been appointed. If desired, we could name those men. If it is a fact that there were applicants with qualifications better than those of the 2 successful applicants for these jobs, why were these 2 applicants selected? That is the test. The accusation is that politics played a part in selecting the applicants on this occasion. We are opposed to politics entering into such a consideration.
Can the appointment of these 2 men be justified on their capabilities in view of the capabilities of the 186 other applicants for these jobs? The tests that could be applied to those seeking appointment to the positions include trade union experience, ability to negotiate, and experience in the settlement of diputes. The 2 successful applicants would not have had the experi ence of the other applicants for those positions. They were succesful and it appears - I do not know whether for the first time - that it was because of their political associations and because of their attitudes in their unions. Politics was played on this occasion and should not have been. The appointments should ‘ have been decided on the physical and mental capabilities of the applicants and on their experience.
– I have listened closely to this debate but I am somewhat puzzled because I have heard allegations concerning membership of the Democratic Labor Party of people who, as far as I am aware, are not members. From inquiries I have made in respect of one pf the applicants.it seems that he is not a member. I have never before heard so much nonsense spoken as was spoken by Senator Cavanagh. I did not know that anyone was privy to. the records concerning the qualifications of applicants except those officers who make decisions and recommendations to the Minister as to the most suitable applicants for the positions, but Senator Cavanagh, seems to know all about the private lives, qualifications and the many and varied experiences of the applicants. He says . that he will make his judgments. Of course, if applicants happen to belong to. his political party, I suppose their qualifications will be regarded as of the highest order. I am a member of 2 properly qualified unions which pay their dues to the Victorian trade union movement. These unions do not belong to that , section which gets support from members of the Labor Party in this chamber - a section comprising unions which are virtually scabs in the Victorian trade union movement because they are unfinancial and have been for more than 5 years.
I am grateful that this conservative Government has seen fit to appoint members of the trade union movement to these high positions, just as previous appointees have come from the trade union movement. In the early days of the divisions in the Labor Party, to which Senator Murphy referred, the late John Horan suffered the same fate as I suffered. He stood up for his views and was expelled from the Labor Party at that time. Whether he was actively associated with the DLP after his expulsion is beside the point because shortly after the disintegration of the Labor Party at that time he was appointed as a conciliation commissioner. He was a great trade unionist and a great conciliation commissioner. He passed on last week. He served with honour and distinction. But he has not been the only appointment from the trade union movement.
– Everyone agrees with that.
– Senator Murphy has made his speech. He cannot speak for the senators sitting close to me. He has expressed a point of view because he is aware of the political damage his colleagues’ predictions might cause. It is no use Senator Murphy frowning and trying to shut me up because he has no jurisdiction or control over me. Of course the lid has been lifted and the people of Australia are aware of the stinking mess that will result from public appointments if the Labor Party should accidentally become the government. I can understand Senator Murphy’s embarrassment and why he should try to square off. I do not want to be diverted. The Democratic Labor Party is proud of the role it has played in supplying successful applicants for these positions. Those appointed have served this country well. I refer to a personal friend of mine. Bob Saker, who was secretary of the Clerks Union, one of the great trade unions in Victoria. Today he is Chairman of the Victorian Government’s Wages Board Section. He has held that position for over 10 years. He is a past President of the Democratic Labor Party. Like any appointee to a position of that character, he has not been associated with any political party since his appointment. There was no secret about his political beliefs: he was not one to make a secret of them. He has been one of the most successful Chairmen of the Wages Board that Victoria has known.
Mr Saker was appointed by a Liberal Government as a representative of the trade union movement. It is the Liberal Government which has had reason to complain about his decisions, not the trade union movement. The trade union movement is proud, as the Democratic Labor Party is proud, of having supplied to the Wages Board a very distinguished Aus tralian. He served well the political part)’ to which he belonged originally, the Australian Labor Party. He served the Federated Clerks Union well. When he was faced with a decision of conscience and decided that the Democratic Labor Party was right, he stood 4-square with the Democratic Labor Party. He had a right to make that decision. He was State President of the Party.
– Tell us about Benelong.
- Senator McAuliffe is trying to interject. I do not know whether he is trying to say that there was something wrong with the appointment, that the Democratic Labor Party appointed Mr Saker or something like that. I believe that Mr Saker was appointed wholly and solely on his very excellent record in the trade union movement and because at that time not only the Liberal State Government but also people in the working class movement had confidence in his ability to carry out the duties of that position in the manner in which he has carried them out for more than 10 years. He has carried out his duties in the best traditions of the trade union and labour movements of this country. His politics had nothing to do with his appointment. They have not trammelled him in any way. I deprecate that paltry minded members of this Parliament grizzle about men being elevated from the trade union movement to some of the highest positions in the land.
– We want physically fit men, not physical derelects
- Senator Mulvihill Ls privy to the private medical records of candidates! I always thought the honourable senator was reasonably fair in his points of view. How does he know that a person is a physical derelict? I have no doubt that that description could be applied to many people. It could be applied to many honourable senators. People could say that some senators were mental derelicts. I might hold that opinion. I think that some senators who sit on my left at times show indications of that.
– On your left?
– On my left, and there are a few on my right as well. These people may be mentally deficient - I sometimes think they must be in respect of political questions. As a democrat I concede to them the right - if 1 did not concede it to them they would take the advantage of saying it anyhow - to say what they wish. We in the Democratic Labor Party have always been prepared to dish it out, but we take it and we take it without squealing. The Government has appointed to the arbitration tribunals men from the trade union movement. It ill behoves anybody in the trade union movement to deprecate such appointments. The Government made the appointments. It need not have appointed anybody who had an active role in the labour movement in this country. I compliment the Government on the broadness of its point of view. I compliment it on the appointments it has made. I trust that in the interests of labour relations in this country the appointees will carry out their duties as well as members of the Democratic Labor Party who have been appointed to similar positions have carried out their duties in the past.
– When 1 mentioned the late Commissioner Horan it gave rise to Senator Little suggesting that what I said about the late Commissioner was perhaps said out of some embarrassment and indicated that what I said might not have been based on knowledge of the circumstances of the career of that respected member of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Prior to his appointment I had some association with the late Commissioner in relation to a number of troubles in the Transport Workers Union arising out of the political circumstances at the time of the split in the Labor Party. In almost all of those I was acting as counsel for the faction, if one likes to call it such, which was opposed to Mr Horan. I had great opportunities to know his calibre.
After he became a commissioner he figured in the transport industry and particularly in the famous one-man bus dispute in Victoria which raged throughout the 1960s, as Senator Little may be aware. I appeared in those proceedings before the late Commissioner. I know that he was respected not only by me but also by those who came before him, whether they were on the employers side or the employees side, by persons who were members of the Australian Labor Party and by persons who were members of the then Communist Party. He was respected for the manner in which he carried out the high responsibilities of that office.
– He was a man of principle.
– Of course he was. He was a man of very great principle, a man who was admired for his capacity and his dedication to his job. I would like Senator Little, as well as other honourable senators in this chamber, to understand that my respect for Mr Commissioner Horan was deserved by him and in no way arose, as he might have thought, because of some suggestion that we’ were embarrassed here and were endeavouring to cast aside what has been said by some reference to him. He was an ornament to the office of Commissioner of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I repeat that he is one example - there are many others - of a person whose previously held political views were, as they should be, irrelevant to his appointment to office. There should be no dicrimination against people because of their political views, religion or sex unless those things affect the appointment. It they were taken into account in such an appointment one might have cause for concern, but the approach of members of the Australian Labor Party is that they are entirely irrelevant. I hope it is not suggested that this chamber would tolerate any other view.
– I accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that, in his view, the approach of the Australian Labor Party is that there should be ho political or religious test for appointment to these positions, but obviously that is not the view of some of those who sit behind him. It has been indicated definitely , by Senator McAuliffe that Mr Brown was appointed on political grounds. Let everybody listen to the record of this man as I read it. He is in his early 40s. He became a trade union official at the age of 19 and he has held full time positions in the trade unions for 19 years. He was the first full-time secretary of a trade union in Papua New
Guinea, that is, the Public Service Association. He formed the first trade union in Papua New Guinea for private employees. He was secretary of the Clerks Union in Queensland from 1965 until 1972. He was vice-president of the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations. He was a member of the executive of the Queensland branch of the Industrial Relations Society, a member of the Brisbane Regional Panel of the Australian Frontier and a member of the Immigration Advisory Council. It has been said that he was only a clerk in the Australian Workers Union. His position with the AWU is stated as being Industrial Officer. The suggestion is that the man who has all those qualifications got the job only because, while he was not a member of the Democratic Labor Party, it was suspected that he might have been sympathetic to the DLP.
I am sorry that the question of Mr Brown’s health has been raised. I have always understood - and I used to be a public servant - that before one could be appointed to a Public Service job one had to pass a medical examination. In this case he would have had to pass a medical examination because persons occupying these positions are eligible for superannuation. 1 think it is a shocking thing that a senator should get up and say that he is a physical wreck.
– A physical derelict.
– He did not stipulate a particular person.
– I thought Senator Mulvihill said that. I ask him to say what he said about it.
– I am not going to be interrogated.
– He said that he was a physical derelict.
– No, he did not say that.
– That was my hearing of it. Surely there is some privacy for the state of a man’s health. 1 did not know that there was anything wrong with his health. Senator Mulvihill could not have known that there was anything wrong with his health unless he had had access to his medical adviser. I think it is a scandalous thing that the statement should be made under privilege - he cannot challenge in the courts - that a man is a physical derelect, by a person who would have no knowledge at all of the state of his health. How could Senator Mulvihill have any knowledge of the physical health of this man? Are we in the position where anybody can come into this chamber and point to any person and say: ‘You are a physical or mental derelict’? I think that is a shocking state of affairs. If that is an example of the kind of government we would have under the Australian Labor Party, the people of Australia will know what to do on 2nd December. I want to refer to only one other matter, that is, the reference which has been made to Mr John Horan. I think it is regrettable that members of the Australian Labor Party have attacked his appointment and said that he was a member of the Democratic Labor Party.
– The only person who mentioned it was Senator Murphy.
– Senator Poyser said that he was a member of the DLP.
– I said that he was associated with it, and he was.
– There we have the statement that he should not have been a Commissioner because he was associated with the DLP.
– I did not say that at all. You denied that he was associated with it.
– I think 1 said that he was, but that I said that that was nothing to the point at all and should be no reason for discrimination against him.
– John Horan was a personal and very dear friend of mine. He was a man of outstanding integrity and he was a great Labor man. 1 am sorry that his name has been brought up in this place to be bandied about, because he was buried only-
– You brought it up. You were the first to mention it.
– I think you might listen to this in silence because of what I am about to say. I am sorry that his name has been bandied about in this place because he was buried 2 days ago. Let me say this. He was a great Labor man in the West Australian Labor movement. He came to Victoria and he was a great man in the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Parly. He became an official of the Transport Workers Union and later the Federal Secretary of that union. In 1955 he was elected President of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, by acclamation, after he had been President of the Victorian Trades Hall and one of the best presidents in its history.
When the split occurred John Horan stayed with us to a point. But when it appeared that there were going to be 2 branches of the Labor Party he was so good a Labor man that he came to me and said: ‘I have been Labor all my life. I have been proud. I looked forward to being President of the Labor Party and now there has been trouble and I have been told that I am not permitted to preside al the conference of the Victorian Labor movement.’ And he said: T am finished.’ Shortly after that - we still claim at that time that we were ‘the’ Labor Party - he came to me and said: ‘I am not prepared to go on in a divided organisation; I will resign’. I therefore owe it to his memory to say that he was never a member of the Democratic Labor Party, because he said he was a member of ‘the’ Labor Party, and in his view there could only be one.
When he was appointed a conciliation commissioner I know what Albert Monk - and I think you would take him as a good judge of character - thought of his qualifications for appointment, and I know that even people like Jim Donnegan, who is a communist and Secretary of the Ships’ Painters and Dockers Union, paid a tribute to him one of the greatest commissioners who had ever been appointed. I leave it at that. I think we owe it to his memory not to bring his name into a dogfight. I thank Senator Murphy, who knew him, for the very kind words he said about John Horan.
– My name was mentioned earlier in relation to the appointment of Mr Brown. I did not make any comment in relation to former conciliation commissioner Horan. But, to come back to taws, I did say that if we went back far enough, say several years ago, we would find, as
Senator McManus would know, that when we dealt with the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service the honourable senator started off on whether all the judges in the Arbitration Court were fully occupied. I dealt with a lower echelon - the conciliation commissioners. On that occasion I referred to the conciliation commissioner who was handling the flight stewards’ case and I repeated the reaction of the members to the demeanor of that conciliation commissioner. The corollary of this was not only whether justice was being done or appearing to have been done, but also whether all the conciliation commissioners were fit enough to be mobile and available to settle disputes. I went further and referred to the undoubted tensions imposed on various industrial mediators.
To return to the proceedings of today - and this is not put in any spirit of rancour - the question that has not been answered is in regard to the qualifications of conciliation commissioners. Senator McManus enumerated the achievements of one of the new appointments. I did not dispute what that man had done as a member of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia because I do not know Queensland trade union politics intimately, but I did say that, as Senator McAuliffe contended, if a man finds that a job is getting too hard - and this does not militate against past performances - or he feels he cannot measure up to it and he wants a nice quiet niche, which the term ‘industrial officer’ covers in many unions, that is all right. I was entitled to say that, in view of the legitimate criticism that was voiced in respect of a minority of conciliation commissioners not being fit. thus adding additional work loads on to the other commissioners. That was the question that I raised. It may well be that this fellow will face up to a physical fitness test. When a person takes up such a position and joins the team of conciliation commissioners, we are entitled to ensure that he does not have to be hidden. That is not a direct disparagement. Although I spoke about this appointment, I was the first person to raise the matter in regard to another conciliation commissioner who, I am pretty sure, has no affinities with any of the major or minor political parties. In the face of this morass about other commissioners, I am applying a principle. If a person is appointed to this job, he should be fit. I repeat that no answer has been given yet. I think that we are entitled to know whether, when this gentleman left the Federated Clerks Union, he felt that he was fit to take this job. It is not a disparagement. This relates to what is in front of him.
I conclude on this note: Whatever has been said on this question, it is better that it be said in this chamber and in the open, regardless of what any of my colleagues have said. Senator McManus is a great admirer of the United States of America. He would know that all persons appointed to bodies from the judiciary down to other institutions have to face Senate committees. What is hurled at such persons is far more venomous than what happens here. I do not say that we should descend to that plane. But I emphasise that I have been perfectly consistent. Whether it be in regard to political, judicial or semi-judicial appointments, we are entitled to feel that if a person takes a job he is fit to do so. It has been said that this gentleman will face a medical examination. That is fair enough. But I think Senator McAuliffe made a fair comment when he implied that there had been a gap after this gentlemen left the other job. I return to the other analogy I made. Senator Little was pitching to the listening public. By the stroke of a medical report, a locomotive engineman can be demoted. The same applies to all members of the fire brigades. Many people are subject to physical tests. I hurl back at Senator Little the point that I have no objejction if at any time somebody wants to question my physical fitness or my financial assets. I am establishing a principle. If I hurt somebody, I am sorry for it.
– At least it cannot be suggested that during the 52 minutes since the resumption of the sitting after lunch the Minister has intervened in the debate with long answers, thus precluding other senators from occupying time in advancing their arguments. I have listened patiently and interestedly to 9 speeches that are related in some way to the Appropriation
Bills that we are presently debating and the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service that we are considering. But it is not a tribute to the focus that we place on matters to realise that the whole period of those 52 minutes and about 15 minutes before lunch was taken up by this debate, which occurred because in today’s Press there is an announcement of 6 appointments of new commissioners to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
With regard to what Senator Mulvihill has just said, 1 hope the Senate will recognise the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as an institution that is entitled to the same prestige and immunity as is given to the courts, because it is in the interests of the purpose of the Senate that that tribunal - the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - be established as a commission of confidence and that that confidence be given to it by both sides of industry. Too indiscriminate personal political discussion of the individual members of the Commission is apt to damage the institution. In regard to the questions relating to health, I suggest that it would be impertinent of me to ask for the medical records of this gentleman. We should assume, under a proper administration by an impartial department and under our system of government, that due precautions have been taken to ensure that the appointees are in a fit state of health.
I am pleased that Senator Murphy has come in to disclaim any idea that the Australian Labor Party would consider political allegiance as being a criterion for or against any appointment. I think that Senator McManus put that proposition to the Senate in unanswerable terms. Only lastly do I refer to the particular side of industrial life on which these appointees have played their part. I think that in 90 cases out of 100 one finds that when a man accepts the responsibility of a high office which requires a display of impartiality, the very fact that he has that responsibility ensures that past professional or industrial experience is submerged and the true purpose of the arbitration issue is paramount. I rise not so that the Senate would not think that I was disdaining the discussion but to offer to the Senate, I hope in conclusion of that facet of the discussion, a brief comment with regard to it and hope that the Senate will accept the Department’s estimates.
– I wish to raise a query in relation to the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service under Division 370. My query refers to a question about the rural reconstruction training scheme which I asked during the hearings of the Estimates Committee. I asked how many applications had been received under the rural reconstruction training scheme in each State and how many people had been accepted for training. I posed the same question by telephone many weeks ago to the office in Melbourne. I was given the assurance that that answer would be forthcoming as soon as possible. I then raised the matter in the Estimates Committee but on that occasion I went further and asked how many applications had been received from Aborigines and how many of those Aborigines had been accepted. One of the officers of the Department gave me the overall figure, and the Chairman of the Committee said that it would be appreciated if those figures could be provided to me. I then went on to say that I would like a breakdown of those figures, both in relation to applicants and acceptances on a State by State basis. I now ask the Minister whether he can supply those figures for me.
– I am in arrears with a few of my correspondents, but as far as I know the figures have not reached me. I will see to it that an instruction is put through in the hope that I will have the figures for the honourable senator not later than Monday.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
– For the information of all honourable senators, I would like to announce that during the absence of Senator O’Byrne for the rest of this day the Acting Whip of the Opposition is Senator Poyser.
Department of Education and Science
Proposed expenditure, $188,055,000.
Proposed provision, $17,168,000.
– The matter I wish to raise in relation to the estimates for the Department of Education and Science concerns the amount of money which is being paid for the cleaning of the Nhulunbuy school on the Gove Peninsula. I raised this matter at the Estimates Committee hearing and expressed astonishment that an amount of $95,000 was being paid for the cleaning of this school. My colleague Senator McAuliffe also had some queries on that matter. Today the Usher of the Black Rod handed me a written reply to that question. It stated, quite contrary to the statement of officers of the Department that only one tender had been received for this particular job, that in fact 3 tenders were received. There has been a slip up somewhere. I seek leave of the Committee to have a written reply which Mr Coughlan sent to the Minister, who then passed it on to me, incorporated in Hansard for the information of all interested persons.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
P.O. Box 826 Woden, A.C.T. 2606 Telephone 81 7211. Telegrams ‘EDSCI’ 5th October 1972
My dear Minister,
During the examination of this Department by the Senate Estimates Committee the undertaking was given to provide additional information in regard to the contract for the cleaning of Nhulunbuy Area School on the Gove Peninsula. 1 should appreciate it if you would forward this letter to the Committee.
At the time tenders were called for cleaning the Nhulunbuy School the Tender Board of the Northern Territory Administration was continuing to provide this Department with services on the same basis as it had provided services to the Education Section of the Northern Territory Administration when it was responsible for community schools in the Northern Territory. As a matter of routine it determined the form of tenders for the cleaning of this new school and invited tenders on 17th August 1971 to close on 13th September 1971. The Department’s Northern Territory Office concurred in the acceptance of the tender submitted by Mr D. A. Orr of Nhulunbuy at a cost of $40 per 1,000 square feet per week on 20th September 1971.
Although it was understood by the Department’s Central Office and so reported to both the Public Accounts Committee and the Senate Estimates Committee C that Mr Orr was the only tenderer, information has now been provided from the Department’s records in Darwin that there were in fact 3 tenders received. Details of the tenders are not now available to the Department as all papers relating to them are held by the Tender Board. The Department’s officers in the Northern Territory concurred in the acceptance of the tender submitted by Mr Orr on the understanding that it was the lowest.
It was not until March 1972, when the first accounts were received, that it became clear that the contract with Mr Orr was so expensive. This was because the officer who examined the tenders assumed incorrectly that the area in respect of which payment would be made was the internal area of the school only. The contractor bases his price on the cleaning of certain external as well as internal areas and the tender documents support his interpretation.
The Department shares the Committee’s concern that such an expensive contract should have been accepted without more detailed consider’ation, and that a more detailed analysis of the implications of the form in which tenders were invited was not made before the tender was accepted.
The remedial action taken by the Department to ensure more appropriate consideration of such contracts in the future comprises:
The Executive Officer has entered into negotiations with the Northern Territory Administration Tender Board and the contractor with a view to reducing the cost of the contract. The negotiations are not yet completed but it is expected that they will result in a saving of approximately $9,000. The contract will terminate at the end of the school year. Tenders for 1973 will be called by the Department’s Northern Territory Tender Board. They will be subject to detailed scrutiny to ensure that the best price for the Commonwealth is obtained consistent with providing for the health and comfort of the children.
The Department has been looking closely at alternative ways of arranging cleaning for schools. The direct employment of cleaners presents difficulties at present. An attempt was made in previous years to provide cleaning at Katherine Area School by direct employment but this arrangement has not proved to be satisfactory.
For this reason, current arrangements are for cleaning at Katherine to be done under contract.
The Department, however, is giving serious consideration to more fundamental changes in the organisation of schools so that responsibility for such matters as cleaning and maintenance may be delegated to the school itself. A major aim of this study is to increase efficiency.
The Department was also asked for an estimate of the total salary bill for the teaching staff at the school. This has been assessed at $138,000 for the 1972 school year.
Yours sincerely, H. K. COUGHLAN for A. H. ENNOR, Secretary
Senator the Honourable R. C. Wright, Minister for Works, Parliament House,
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
– Very briefly, I raise a matter on behalf of Mr Norman Foster, a member of the other place, who received a letter from the Natural History Society of South Australia. The Society is seeking certain information from the Wildlife Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The annual report of the CSIRO for this year does not indicate whether any current projects appertaining to wildlife have ended or whether new ones are to be commenced. The Natural History Society of South Australia has directed to me, through Mr Foster, 10 questions dealing with this matter. I seek leave to have the letter incorporated in Hansard and ask that a reply be forwarded to me after the Senate adjourns.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - 6th September 1972
Mr N. Foster, Member for Sturt, P.O. Box 1 17,
Marden, South Australia 5070. Dear Sir,
The Natural History Society of South Australia is conducting research into the management and conservation of the kangaroo species and there are certain questions which we are trying to obtain answers for.
I realise that these questions may be somewhat of an imposition but we would appreciate your help in this regard. Senator Tony Mulvihill is at present giving us his assistance and we are grateful for his involvement.
Yours sincerely Graham Churchett, Public Officer
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
Department of External Territories - proposed expenditure, $131,754,000, proposed provision $3,093,000; Department of Housing - proposed expenditure $7,898,000, proposed provision $70,203,000; Department of Civil Aviation - proposed expenditure, $101,588,000, proposed provision $59,900,000; Department of Trade and Industry - proposed expenditure $45,137,000, proposed provision $547,700 - agreed to.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, $43,549,000.
Proposed provision, $19,297,000.
– In view of the discussions I have had at various times with Senator Cotton regarding the policy of the Australian Forestry Council on pine plantations and the ecological aspect of it, I simply seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a comment on Senate question No. 2332 headed ‘Pine Plantations’, and ask that the Minister’s officers follow the matter up.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Comment on Senate Question No. 2332, 14 September 1972
One would assume from the context that the answers to this question were provided by the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research.
In this regard attention should be drawn to the following statement published in the bock Birds in the Australian High Country edited by H. J. Frith and illustrated by Betty Temple Watts (A. H. and A. W. Reed. 1970). The editor is chief of the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research. In his editorial preface, on pages 25 and 26, in a section headed Bird Habitats we read under ‘Pine Plantations’:
The extensive clearing of the native trees has meant the destruction of much bird habitat; its replacementhabitat of single exotic species. to which no Australian bird has been able to adapt, has not compensated for this loss. When the pines are small and many plants grow between them, the plantations support birds, but as the trees grow and the canopy closes this all changes. The undergrowth disappears and the ground is covered with drypine needles. The birds leave. In a mature plantation, a few birds travel through or camp but very few live in it except along the scrubby creeks or in clearings where a few native trees and plants remain’.
The initials H. J. F. appear on page 27 at the end of the ‘Bird Habitats’ section.
The credentials of Birds in the Australian High Country are impeccable. It is an authoritative work of 481 pages. Its text was prepared by 14 contributors, including Dr Frith. They are identified on pages 13 and 14 of the book. There follows a statement that all of these contributors are officers of the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research, apart from one professional ornithologist employed by the National Museum of Victoria, and a Canberra amateur who ‘collaborates with the Division in many ways and has done extensive and valuable work with birds on his own account’.
It would thus appear that the answers to question 2332 are at variance with statements published in an authoritative scientific context under the names of the Chief and several officers of the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research, as well as other highly competent ornithologists.
In view of the foregoing the source of the answers to question 2332 should be revealed by the minister, and, if it is the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research a clarifying statement should be given.
If further questions are entertained on this subject it is essential that information should be sought regarding the success of smaller native Australian plants and animals, especially insects, under the cover of exotic pine forests. These organisms are presumably studied by officers of other CSIRO divisions. The term ‘wildlife’ covers a very few members of our fauna.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, $129,275,000.
Proposed provision, $30,252,000.
– Because of the time I will be very brief, but I want to refer to something in respect of which I asked the Minister and his officers in the Estimates Committee hearing to supply some further information. I refer to the first aid facilities provided for railwaymen stationed on Commonwealth lines. I refer to a serious incident which occurred and to the comments of the Port Augusta coroner in relation to the death of a railway man on the Trans-Australian Railway. I refer to an article in the Adelaide ‘News’ of 14th June 1972 headed ‘Railways Gets Blame for Death’. The report continues:
A Port Augusta coroner said the ‘monstrous irresponsibility’ of the Commonwealth Railways caused the death of a young Vietnam veteran working on the Trans-continental railway line, last October.
The Coroner, Mr K. J. Sowry, attacked the Commonwealth Railways for the lack of first-aid training it gave workers in outback areas.
Handing down a report in Port Augusta yesterday, Mr Sowry said the Railway was entirely to blame for the death of Ian Robert Lee, 24, at Deakin, on the Western Australia side of the border between Western Australia and South Australia.
He said the cause of death in all probability was heat exhaustion.
Mr Sowry said: ‘That man needn’t have died.
Of 25 people at the fettlers camp not one of them had the vaguest idea how to treat him.’
The question of what the railways do about first aid matters has been raised most recently by the honourable member for Grey, Mr Wallis. He asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon):
The reply given was that there were 75 main fettling gangs and in only 1 4 of them were there first aid attendants. The explanation from the railways, through the Minister, was:
One gang has a fully qualified first aid man as a member. Fettler gangs work on line locations in remote areas where conditions are generally harsh and inhospitable. Under such conditions staff turnover is high and Commonwealth Railways experience considerable difficulty in the employment of labour of any kind at line locations. This makes it highly impractical to attempt to provide a qualified first aid man with every gang.
The reply went on to explain that the men who are qualified get an allowance of $15 for being competent in first aid. I refer to that because there seems to be no solution to the problem of giving first aid treatment or ambulance attendance to isolated workers, particularly in the Commonwealth Railways. Therefore, I am offering the suggestion which 1 made before. Perhaps provision of such services by the Railways might be too slow for emergency cases. But consideration might be given to an association between the Royal Flying Doc tor Service and the Commonwealth Railways in relation to lines the locations of which do not afford proper first aid facilities when men cannot be trained in first aid. Also, it may be possible to increase the allowance paid.
Recently the Royal Flying Doctor Service indicated that it is considering using a Nomad aircraft. These aircraft are produced in a government aircraft factory and they are very suitable for outback conditions. I hope that the Minister will arrange for the Department to give special consideration to what action might be taken to meet emergencies. In such situations where first aid men are not available and nobody will accept training the Commonwealth
Railways surely should set up at intermediate and regional centres some sort .of special services and where possible use the Flying Doctor or other suitable services.
. (3.S) - I shall respond briefly. To me Senator Bishop’s suggestion seems most worthwhile. When Senator Bishop first mentioned this matter in the Senate Estimates Committee we had some concern at the number of fettling gangs which did not have a trained first aid man. lt is equally true that the Nomad aircraft seems to be very suitable for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. We at the Department of Civil Aviation, quite apart from this,, have been taking quite an active interest to promote the use of the Nomad aircraft. An arrangement between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the remote fettling gangs would be well worth putting into practice. 1 shall try to have something done about it.
– I have a question which I wish to raise in relation to the estimates for this Department which deals with the controversy that now exists over the signing of the agreement for the construction of the Tarcoola-Alice Springs rail link. Some conflicting statements have been made about the hold-up in the signing of this particular agreement. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) has seen fit to lay the blame for the delay in the signing of the agreement at the feet of the South Australian Premier, the Hon. D. A. Dunstan. Last Tuesday the Premier of
South Australia had to take what I believe is the unnecessary action of tabling in the South Australian Parliament all the correspondence in relation to negotiations being carried out between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government for the construction of this railway line. The South Australian Premier has claimed that Mr Nixon, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, had shifted his ground and that there was not the slightest reason why the matters raised by South Australia, which are necessary to safeguard South Australia’s interest, following the original agreement, could not be resolved in a matter of days.
The Premier said that replies to Canberra had not been delayed by him and that the Commonwealth had taken considerable time to reply to matters raised by South Australia. He said that the ball remained in the Commonwealth Governments court and that it had had South Australia’s last suggestion for a month but had done nothing but try some shabby politicking on the basis of complete misrepresentation of the facts. The South Australian Premier also said that it would be completely irresponsible to agree to the isolation of Marree and points beyond which serve the cattle industry. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is aware of the South Australian Premier’s reply to the accusations that the South Australian Government had caused delay in the signing of the agreement, yet yesterday in the other place in reply to a question by Mr Laurie Wallis, the honourable member for Grey, he again laid the blame on the South Australian Premier. He said that it is the fault of the Premier of South Australia that the agreement is being held up.
I want to say that the South Australian Government is not at fault. The Premier has said that there may be delay on a few minor matters but these could be tidied up in a few days. It should be realised that the South .Australian Premier is responsible to the people of South Australia to uphold their rights. He cannot sign a blank cheque. It is necessary to come to some agreement with the Commonwealth on these matters. I am not happy with what the Minister for Shipping and Transport has done in trying to blame the South Australian Government for holding up the construction of this railway link.
– Some years ago when Mr Hall was Premier of South Australia he had an asessment made of a plan by an American firm for standardising the railway gauge from Adelaide through to Port Pirie, connecting up with the east-west railway. When the plan was submitted it was criticised by the South Australian Railways Commissioner. He said that the plan was not as convenient as an alternative plan of his own, that the plan of the American firm was more costly and would create serious inconvenience along the route through the re-allocation of railways personnel. Finally a South Australian Labor Government adopted the Commissioner’s proposal and submitted it to the Commonwealth. Agreement between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government was reached that the plan of the previous Liberal Government of South Australia had to be accepted if the Commonwealth was to advance moneys for the construction of the standard gauge railway. This created other problems. Marshalling yards are located at Port Pirie together with the catering facilities for the east-west railway. The plan would involve shifting those facilities to Crystal Brook together with a number of railways personnel employed at Port Pirie, and taking business away from Port Pirie.
The mayor of Port Pirie called a conference which was attended by a number of senators, including 2 senators from the Government parties, and also by the Railways Commissioner from Port Augusta. The South Australian Minister for Railways put the proposition, on the insistence of the Commonwealth, that he was compelled to accept the alternative plan, despite the higher cost and inconvenience of that plan and despite the disruption to personnel who were working for the Commonwealth Railways. I asked the Commissioner for Railways why, if the plan was not preferable to the other, was more costly and would create more upheaval, the Commonwealth had insisted upon it. The Commissioner is a diplomat and he said: ‘It is not my job to comment on the action of my Minister. I cannot give you an answer’. Can I get an answer now as to why a more costly and more unsatisfactory plan was insisted upon? Was this simply politics at an additional cost to the Commonwealth?
– No officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport are present at the moment and I would not want to take upon myself the responsibility of answering questions which relatively belong in the policy area of another Minister. I have noted the remarks of Senator McLaren. They appear to me to be substantially a matter of what one person says as against what another person says. I do not wish to involve myself by taking sides one way or the other about them, except to put simply to the senator that I will direct to the responsible Minister the remarks and observations he has made. On the other hand, Senator Cavanagh is seeking direct information on the question of the uniform gauge situation, the report of the consultants on it which was made some time ago and the difference of opinion that began to emerge. All I can do for the senator is to try to obtain information for him; I regret that I cannot do more.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Customs and Excise, $38,877^000- agreed to.
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure, $142,036,000.
-1 wish to speak to Division 352 which relates to the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. I tried to raise this subject last night when speaking on the estimates for the Parliament but was advised that I should speak on it when the Committee dealt with the estimates for the Department of the Interior. Honourable senators may recall that during the Autumn session Senator Webster raised on an adjournment debate the question of travel facilities for members of Parliament who live outside a 30-mile radius of capital cities. Both Senator Laucke and I took part in the ensuing debate because we are 2 senators - Senator Laucke being from South Australia and I from Victoria - who have been victimised by this very narrow restriction which is placed on travel facilities. I understand that this matter had been discussed at a Party level and by direct representation through the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), I had expected that something could have been done by now to alleviate the situation whereby members of Parliament, as I indicated during that, debate, can be discriminated against after having spent a full week away from their homes. Such a thing happened at the time that Senator Webster became aware of it. Senator Webster and I were in Darwin, working very hard with the Public Works Committee, and after my return to Melbourne I had to wait in Melbourne for some hours before I could get to my home in Geelong by train.
I indicated during the debate to which I have referred, and I repeat it now to make it quite clear, that I believe ‘ that in this respect members of Parliament are being treated as second class citizens, lt is a fact that any person other than a member of Parliament, such as a public servant or a Service officer, who holds a warrant to travel by air from Canberra to Melbourne has an advantage over a member of Parliament. For instance, an Army officer travelling from Duntroon to Queenscliffe Staff College, which is 20 miles beyond my home, may automatically obtain a Commonwealth car at Melbourne to take him to Queenscliffe. Yet I, as a member of this Senate, have to wait many hours for trains because of the time at which the Senate rises. This is not good enough.
What is more important is the cost to the Commonwealth. It is now costing the Commonwealth $44 a week more because it will not provide me with a car during the sitting of the Parliament. Instead of travelling from Geelong on Tuesday morning I now travel on Monday evening. Similarly, when the Senate rises, instead of going home on the 5.35 p.m. plane - as honourable senators do on many occasions when the Senate rises at 5 o’clock - I stay another night and go on the morning plane. If I did not do this I would be stranded in Melbourne for a number of hours. It is not a comfortable experience for any person to sit on a railway station in the middle of winter waiting for a train which takes almost another 2 hours to arrive at a town 45 miles away. So the stupidity of the Prime Minister - I understand that he is the person who had to make the final decision - is costing about 3 times what it would cost to grant me this privilege of travelling in a Commonwealth car for an extra 20 miles. I ask for an immediate review of this matter. In Senator Laucke’s case the position is almost ridiculous. He is in a worse position thanI am He has no train or bus facilities available so his wife has to drive him 7 or 8 miles to the 30- mile post where a Commonwealth car is waiting for him. Have honourable senators ever heard anything so stupid in their lives? Inconvenience is caused to Senator Laucke’s wife because the honourable senator has to conform to the stupid regulations upon which the Government insists. I think it is an insult to a member of this Parliament that his wife has to perform these kinds of functions. I hope that the reasonable case which has been put by Senator Laucke, myself and Senator Webster, who initially raised the matter in this chamber, will be considered and that a quick decision will be made. It is far more costly to the Government to operate under this regulation than it would be if it granted those facilities whichI seek.
– Before I speak about the matter which Senator Poyser has raised I must congratulate him on his promotion which I heard announced a little while ago.
-I am getting the same pay, though.
– Yes, but things will improve later. Senator Poyser is talking about what one might describe as the 30- mile rule. I very well remember him making a speech during the debate on the adjournment motion in relation to this matter. He pointed out what seemed to him to be the inequities and inequalities in this. For myself, I thought he made a substantially strong case. I think he was supported by Senator Laucke and Senator Webster. I know that this matter has been under study by the Government. What the honourable senator has said about the extra cost to the Government has to be taken into account as a serious observation which, relatively, should have an impact on a final judgment. It is my understanding that the matter is under review. I think the point the honourable senator has raised is useful. I will forward it to the responsible Minister. I think that all of us, apart from any considerations of politics, would regard this as an exercise which needs careful examination.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision agreed to.
– Is it the wish of the Committee to consider the estimates of those departments examined by Senate Estimates Committee E together? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– As Chairman of Senate Estimates Committee E, let me say that I had pleasure in being part of the activities of that Committee in this past year. I indicate to the chamber that the report which was brought in by Estimates Committee E emphasised one or two matters in relation to the financial expenditure of the Commonwealth. In particular there is emphasis that certain expenditure does not come under the scrutiny of committees such as this. This reference related particularly to some Service expenditure, where money was expended from overseas loans. In such instances the particular expenditure does not come before the Committee. I draw the attention of the Senate to that fact as it was something about which I was not previously aware. I have not known of its coming before the Senate in the years that I have been here.
I wish to make one or two comments which basically refer to the activity in which we are engaging at the present time. The aim of the Senate in establishing committees of the Senate was several-fold. Positive achievement has resulted from this method which changed quite radically the manner in which the Upper House of the Federal Parliament reviews departmental expenditure in estimates for an ensuing year. The itemised proposals undoubtedly can be better considered. Several departments can be heard at the one time. Departmental officers are able to give a direct answer to questions upon which those officers are expert. There is a potential to deal more efficiently with financial expenditures and with the time of the civil servants concerned. The general principles that were embodied in the system can only be regarded as admirable.
We find, and we have found, that in the last 2 days the consideration in the Committee of the Whole of all of the Estimates again has brought about a situation which I suggest to the Senate it may consider in future years and attempt, if possible, to avoid. Many, many matters which took the time of the Senate yesterday and have taken time today have caused important civil servants to be away from their offices for many, many Hours when we as a Senate should be dealing with them more efficiently and more effectively. I believe that the Senate can do itself more justice if in the future we deal with Estimates Committees as the Senate as a whole proposed we should. Certainly we would then be able to deal more efficiently with the time of those who are employed by the Commonwealth.
– I will not keep the Senate unduly. My remarks are related to division 460 - Administration, Department of Repatriation. I make an appeal to the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) to ascertain what is the delay associated with compensation claim payments to the maintenance staff at the Concord Repatriation Hospital. I make that appeal in a general sense but I am fortified by what has been said to me by Harry Blyth, the Builders Labourers Federation delegate who points out to me that there seems to be an abnormal delay in finalising compensation cases. His own experience would be an instance of this. I am talking about what has happened in the last 12 months. This is not a matter which I want to belabour but an accepted thing in most industries with which I have been associated is that if by the second subsequent payday a person does not receive compensation payment for three or four days for what may be deemed a minor physical injury - I am not talking about a protracted case such as the loss of a leg or an arm - he has cause for complaint. Many of these people receive a fairly low income. If they have to wait for compensation payment for three or four days they may be financially embarrassed ir. succeeding pay periods. In this age of the computer I believe there is something wrong in an establishment when workmen cannot have their compensation claims completed at least in the next pay period after the one in which they sustain the injury.
– I want to say a few words about the Department of Supply. I note that the Committee is discussing the group of departments as a whole. I hope that I do not have to go any further than to put a point of view and ask the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) to consider what I put to him. I refer to the now much publicised transaction involving Jetair Australia Ltd. I do not want to go into the legality of what happened because in relation to the estimates for the Department of Supply all we need be concerned about is whether a proper . payment was made. I leave aside the . question of whether it was a proper transaction or whether it was concluded at. a high cost. The question is whether a legal payment was made, and it was the Department of Supply that eventually had to authorise payment. It is said that all questions about irregularity or illegality have been cast aside by a statement by Sir Kenneth Bailey, the Solicitor-General, that the transaction was all right. But Sir Kenneth Bailey did not say that, and no-one has thought of this point. He did not justify the transaction at all. In the second paragraph of his letter, which is included in the statement to the Senate of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), Sir Kenneth states:
It seems to me quite clear that the letter sent to the Company on 6th January last was without authority. The procedures for such a purpose are regulated either by the Treasury regulations or by the Supply and Development regulations, or both. In general, action is required on the part either of the Commonwealth Stores, Supply and Tender Board or of the Contract Board (1 am myself not sure which).
He expressed some doubt on whether he knew the full particulars. He continued:
In the event of the Department of Supply has taken the necessary action to make the proceedings regular. I would not think any element now remains either of illegality or of administrative irregularity.
Sir Kenneth reached his opinion that the transaction was all right, on the assumption that the Department had taken the necessary action to make the proceedings regular. His opinion stands only if the Department had taken the necessary action. What he envisaged to be the proper proceedings that would make the transaction regular or legal I do not know. It could well be that since that time the Department had called for tenders, as it is required to do under regulation 52 of the Treasury Regulations. Sir Kenneth went on to say:
As I understand the position, no legal effect is now attributable to the Department’s letter to the Company of 6th January last. It is somewhat confused in expression, but I think may best be regarded as an intimation to the Company that the Department would recommend to the Department of Supply . . .
I come back not to where Sir Kenneth said that the transaction would now be regular. His words were:
This however is a matter on which, if it becomes necessary, the Attorney-General’s Department would need to advise.
Because the Attorney-General’s Department is the legal adviser to the Commonwealth. I asked the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) whether he had advised either the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Supply on the legality of this payment and whether that advice was in writing. He replied: ‘We had several discussions and as far as I remember everything was all right’. So there is no record of the legal advisers to the Government ever having expressed an opinion on the transaction. A capable and competent legal adviser has expressed an opinion that the transaction is correct in the event of some other things being done. Therefore, we have to see whether they were done. As everyone knows, regulation 52 of the Treasury Regulations states: (1.) Subject to any Act making provision with respect to contracts for supplies and subject to the next succeeding regulation, contracts shall not be entered into, and orders shall not be placed for supplies the estimated cost of which exceeds one thousand dollars unless tenders have first been publicly invited for those supplies.
Therefore, unless there is something in the next succeeding regulation, there is not power to purchase unless tenders are called. We know that tenders were not called so, under regulation 52, the purchase was not a proper purchase. Regulation 52AA (2.) of the Treasury Regulations states:
Where the Secretary certifies that compliance wilh regulation 51- that relates to the calling of tenders - of these Regulations, or with the last preceding regulation, in respect of supplies of a kind specified in the certificate is, having regard to the nature of the supplies and to the established practices in a profession, business, trade or industry connected with the supply of supplies of that kind, impracticable or inexpedient, regulation 51 of these Regulations or the last preceding regulation, as the case may be, does not apply to supplies of that kind.
A layman’s interpretation of that would be that no purchases can be made of goods of a value over $1,000 unless tenders are called and that tenders need not be called if a certificate is issued stating that the calling of tenders is impracticable or inexpedient.
I believe that the chairman of the Contract Board did issue such a certificate on this occasion. But the question arises as to whether the chairman of the Contract Board had the power to issue such a certificate. If the value of the proposed supplies was more than $1,000 and it was not desired to advertise or to call tenders, the chairman could not willy-nilly issue a certificate for the purchase of the goods. The terms under which that certificate can be issued are limited to ‘having regard to the nature of the supplies and to the established practices in a profession, business, trade or industry connected with the supply of supplies of that kind’. There is nothing in the established practices in purchasing aircraft or in this industry that would permit the issuing of a certificate that the calling of tenders is ‘impracticable or inexpedient’.
The only remaining reason’ for exemption is ‘the nature of the supplies’. One could visualise that this exemption provision was inserted in section 52AA(2.) as a safeguard, having regard’ to the fact that perishable goods that might go rotten by the time tenders are called could be involved. But, before such a certificate could be issued, it would have to be justified by ‘the nature of the supplies’. I suppose that purchases of aeroplanes occur so rarely that if one knew that there were no other in Australia one could say that one was permitted to issue a certificate citing ‘the nature of the supplies’ as the reason for the exemption from calling tenders.
But some time afterwards the Department of Civil Aviation issued, on the basis of its register, a certificate which indicated that 16 planes were involved and the Department said that the aeroplanes were limited to those on the register of the Department of Civil Aviation. There may have been more planes. So, it would suggest that there is nothing in the term 46 - nature of the supplies’ that would permit the issuing of a certificate. As Sir Kenneth Bailey said, we can only assume that the correct procedure was followed, in the event of a subsequent happening which the Government does not know happened. As the Attorney-General’s Department advises the Government on legal matters, I ask the Minister to take this matter up with that Department and obtain an opinion as to the operation of Treasury Regulations 52 and 52AA(2.).
– I have one matter which I wish to raise and which concerns the Department of Primary Industry. This matter has become rather a hardy annual with me, although I am not prepared to dwell on it now for very long. I am a great believer in the old saying that constant dripping wears away a stone. Before I came into this place 1 endeavoured, through people who are now my colleagues - when I entered the Parliament I continued the endeavour myself - to obtain a copy of the feasibility study on the generation of hydro-electric power from the Dartmouth Dam. 1 had the very happy occasion today to be handed that report after 2 or 3 years of constant agitating for it. I have been agitating for some time for an amendment to the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act. The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) will be aware that we had a discussion on this matter here some time ago. I raised it before the Estimates Committee. I will not go into the detail of it because it is well known to the Minister. One of the departmental officers told me that he understood that the Minister was considering the matter at the moment but he could not give any further details. 1 would like to know whether any further details are available on this matter of preference being given to ex-servicemen from Vietnam and from the Regular Army in relation to dispossessed blocks under the existing States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act before these blocks are put on the open market.
– We have noted what Senator Webster said not only in this chamber but before the Estimates Committee. I think all the departments will note his remarks, and if they pertain to a particular department that department will take the necessary action. To Senator Mulvihill all I can say is that I will examine what he has said and try to get some information to him by way of letter. I believe that the matter Senator Cavanagh raised will need a thorough examination by the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) himself. He will examine in Hansard what Senator Cavanagh has said and I will ask him whether, having made an examination, he will write to the honourable senator himself.
– I had hoped it would be the Attorney-General’s Department.
- Senator Cavanagh directed the remarks to me as the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. If the Minister for Supply wants to direct the honourable senator’s remarks to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that would be his business. I recall Senator McLaren’s remarks not only in the Committee but in this chamber recently when we were debating the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Bill. His remarks on that Bill will be examined as well as what he has said here now. Again I will convey the results of the Minister’s examination to him by way of letter.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I rise on the motion for the third reading to give answers to 3 items that I promised honourable senators I would have for them today if possible. They will take only a minute. Senator Mulvihill asked how the $600,000 allocated under the special Commonwealth African assistance plan would be spent, and in particular whether anything would be allocated to Nigeria. About $500,000 will be spent on training Africans from Commonwealth countries and about $100,000 on the provision of minor items of equipment or the services of Australian experts. The largest recipient of Australian aid in Africa is Nigeria, which has received some $816,000 worth of aid from Australia and which has been allocated a further $99,000 in this financial year.I am aware that Senator Mulvihill is interested mainly in Uganda. I have not yet been able to get that information.
Senator Mulvihill also asked what steps were taken to ensure that Australian aid funds were properly spent. As Australian aid is given on a government to government basis, the opportunities for middle men in recipient countries to profit by it are diminished. The expenditure of all aid funds is properly and fully accounted for. A further question from Senator Mulvihill related to the cost of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. His understanding that the force is supplied on a quota basis by the various State police forces is correct, as is his understanding that the Queensland Premier decided to withdraw the Queensland quota of police officers from Cyprus. This information was conveyed to the Senate in the answer to question 2474 on 17 October 1972. In consequence, other States had to provide extra police in order to maintain the contingent at full strength.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1972-73 In Committee
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth
Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24 October (vide page 1815), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this legislation. The proposal that has been put forward by the Government is in line with the statement that was brought down in this chamber on 16th August 1972 by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). After looking at the Minister’s second reading speech and at the provisions of the Bill, it appears that there is nothing different in the Minister’s second reading speech from what was set out in his Ministerial. Statement which he made in the Senate on 16th August 1972.
I wish to make one or two observations in connection with the legislation. First, I notice that the Bill seeks to amend the National Health Act which would, in normal circumstances, provide to the Senate a very wide ambit for discussing the whole ramifications of the Government’s health scheme and the proposals that will be submitted to the people by the Australian Labor Party in the forthcoming election. But because the Parliament is in the dying hours of this sessional, period,I merely restrict myself to the comments contained in the Ministers’ second reading speech and his Ministerial Statement of 16th August 1972.
I wish to comment to the Minister on the proposal by the Government that each nursing home which desires to continue to be approved under the National Health Act will have to make out a new application for approval. A . condition of the approval will be that each nursing home will have to agree to participate in the new arrangements by giving an undertaking to charge fees which do not exceed those normally charged by that institution as at 30th June of this year or to which variations in fees have been agreed to by the Commonwealth Department of Health. The Minister has pointed out that the Government believes it is an essential part of this legislation that the fees be subject to supervision and subject to approval and ratification by the Department. This provision, of course, does not apply to nursing homes that are operated by the State governments because naturally the Commonwealth believes that it is the responsibility of the various States to determine their charges.
As I think was mentioned by my colleague, Mr Hayden, in another place, there is written into this legislation a type of prices justification policy in relation to the Government’s health proposals on nursing homes in respect of future charging by nursing homes. In short, any increase over and above the charge that was imposed at 30th June 1972 will have to be approved by the Department. The Opposition supports this section, particularly, of the legislation. We think it is a sensible arrangement and one that should have been brought into existence some considerable time ago. I express the hope that when adjustments are approved by the Department in future with respect to the fees charged by these institutions the Department will look closely at the matter from the point of view of services provided by a home and not according to the demand by the community for bed accommodation at the home. I am sure that the Minister and his Department will agree that charges vary from home to home within a given State and that they also vary considerably as between State and State.
To me it is rather anomalous that a pensioner medical service payment by the Commonwealth for a patient in New South Wales will be $10.50 a week but in Victoria $22.40 a week, a difference of over 100 per cent. I am sure that the Minister will agree that the standard of home in Victoria is not that much better, if it is any better, than the standard in New South Wales. I suggest that the higher fee payable in Victoria is due to demand, not the standard of the service. For people who do not hold pensioner medical service entitlement cards the Government has decided that the hospital benefit insurance scheme will be extended to provide nursing home benefits for members. The benefits from these hospital funds will be exactly the same as the benefits provided for pensioners. In New South Wales they will be $10.50 a week; in Victoria, $22.40 a week; in Queensland. $10.50 a week; in South Australia, $14.00 a week; in Western Australia, $11.20 a week and in Tasmania, $10.50 a week. The great improvement is in respect of the domiciliary nursing care benefit which will be paid to a person who accepts responsibility for the provision, in his own home of professional nursing care and supporting services required by an aged relative on a regular and continuing basis. That benefit will be at the rate of $14 a week and will be payable to persons who are willing and able, in their own homes, to care for aged persons or immediate relatives who would otherwise qualify for nursing home benefits. Payment of the domiciliary nursing home benefit will be on the basis that the aged person’s own doctor will have to certify and a departmental medical officer will have to approve that the aged person is in need of professional nursing care equivalent to that which he or she would have received in a nursing home.
I think a question was asked by my colleague Mr Hayden in another place of the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) who represents in that place the Minister for Health. The Minister for Health might answer the question now. Exactly what is involved in the approval by the departmental medical officer? Does it mean that the departmental medical officer merely approves the certificate that is issued by the person’s medical practitioner, or does it mean that the departmental medical officer, in giving his approval, will have to see the person and virtually confirm the certification by the person’s doctor? At the same time the Minister might say what is involved so far as nursing home admission approvals are concerned. Again all that the legislation says is that a private doctor must certify that the person is eligible for nursing home admission, and then is it that the departmental medical officer merely upon seeing the medical certificate of the private practitioner issues an approval or is it that the departmental medical officer sees the person before giving approval for the admission? I think that has to be cleared up, for public edification.
On 19th September the Minister gave me an answer in which he stated that certain medical and hospital benefit organisations allow rebates for home nursing visits when they are ordered by a medical practitioner. I am not speaking of pensioners; I am speaking of contributors to a voluntary health organisation. The Minister gave me a very long answer which set out the number of medical and hospital insurance companies in the States which give some sort of ancillary benefit. There are 22 organisations in New South Wales, 19 in Victoria, 8 in Queensland, 8 in South Australia, 5 in Western Australia and 10 in Tasmania. The individual benefits which are paid vary from fund to fund and from organisation to organisation. In relation to the organisations which pay an ancillary benefit for home nursing visits by trained nurses when the visits are ordered by a medical practitioner, 16 organisations in New South Wales do not provide home nursing rebates, 3 in Victoria do not, one in South Australia does not and 3 in Western Australia do not. I suggest that in view of the increasing number of people who will benefit by the domiciliary care legislation - not all of them will be pensioners; a great number of them will be subscribers to medical and hospital insurance organisations - the Government should consider trying to achieve some uniformity in respect of the payment of ancillary benefits by medical and hospital benefit organisations when home nursing visits by nurses are ordered by a medical practitioner. I can see that there will be great problems and great anomalies when 2 people are in receipt of the domiciliary home nursing payment from the Commonwealth if both of them have been ordered home nursing visits and if both of them are in separate organisations, one receiving an ancillary benefit from the organisation that pays it and the other not receiving any ancillary benefit. I suggest to the Minister that the Government and the Department look at that situation to see whether some uniform basis can be established.
I make those few comments on the Bill. As I have said, the Opposition does not oppose the legislation. Indeed, it welcomes it. It realises that the Government has been in office for 23 years and that it is probably in the last 23 hours of the Parliament that this sort of legislation has come in. But it is still a case of better late than never at all. The provision is certainly long overdue. I personally see a number of anomalies arising, but basically it is a very great improvement in health care legislation for the Australian people. It is somewhat in line with the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Health and Hospital Costs, commonly referred to now as the Wedgwood Committee, of which I was a member. That Committee was primarily concerned with domiciliary care. For the reasons I have outlined, notwithstanding the anomalies, the Opposition does not oppose the legislation and gives it a speedy passage.
– I rise merely to indicate that the Democratic Labor Party welcomes the presentation of this measure and supports the principles contained therein. It is a reflection of the growing concern and solicitude for the sick in the community and also of a growing recognition of the new social patterns of life that are developing and an attempt to meet them. I suppose that the Government could be criticised for delays in introducing measures of this kind, but I think we have to be conscious of the fact that it is not possible always to make the great leap forward. The development of new concepts in relation to the care of the sick and the aged, as in other things, often comes in short steps only as an assessment is made of the needs and the social patterns are assessed. Then legislation is introduced to meet them from the public fund. I welcome this legislation. I hope that it will give tremendous relief in those areas where relief is so badly needed, particularly for those caring for the aged sick in their homes. We support the legislation.
(4.3) - in reply - I thank the official Opposition and the Democratic Labor Party for their co-operation in the passage of this Bill. I would like to say to Senator Douglas McClelland that I recognise, as he has pointed out, that whilst this very comprehensive Bill covers the whole area of what we are attempting to do, of necessity there will be administrative matters that will have to be resolved because, as Senator Douglas McClelland said, this Bill is interrelated with other legislation. The spirit of the fundamental principles are expressed in the Bill. It is sure that, from our experience in the application of the fundamental principles that are expressed in the Bill, we will have to look at aspects where there might be obvious duplications. This is a challenge for the Government. I can assure the honourable senator that I or my successor as Minister for Health will meet it. The officers in the Department of Health are dedicated people and they will give a great amount of guidance and help to the Minister.
Senator Douglas McClelland said that the basis of the scheme was that, to attract benefits, a nursing home would have to establish what fees were being paid as at 30th June this year. As the honourable senator knows, nursing homes already attract a benefit of $3.50 or $6.50 a day. This scheme will be supplementary to that. What we had to do in the sheer logic of the thing was to ensure that the additional benefit provided under this legislation would not be absorbed by an increase in charges following its provision. Consequently this provision has had to be included in the legislation. In fairness it should be pointed out that there is an opportunity for any organisation, whether it be a charitable one or one run for profit, conducting a nursing home to claim that it has a case for an increase because of, say, a new award being given to its employees or something of that nature. The legislation provides that a nursing home can seek to obtain a variation. If the Department says: ‘No, we are not prepared to grant a variation’ there is provision in the legislation for appeal to an independent tribunal. I think that is completely equitable. But we could not simply say, as would have been the case with respect to New South Wales which was mentioned by Senator Douglas McClelland, that we would agree to an increase of $10.50 a week. In Victoria the extraordinaty situation is that an additional $22.40 a week is involved. We just could not do that against the risk that the person we were seeking to help would get the real benefit of any assistance we provided.
Pensioners represent about 85 per cent of the people who are in nursing homes. What has happened in the past is that a great proportion of a person’s pension has gone towards his nursing home care. One of the most wonderful things about this legislation is that we have included a provision in it to the effect that, after a contribution has been made out of his pension, a pensioner will still have of the order of $6 with which to buy the things he wants to buy, whether they be certain personal things, some extra comforts or things that normally he would like to have while he is in a nursing home. It has been very heartening to me, as the Minister for Health, and the Department of Health to be able to bring this legislation forward and obtain not only in this chamber but also in the other place unanimous support for this concept.
Reference was made by Senator Douglas McClelland to domiciliary care, which is to be of the order of S14 a week. We all know the theory behind this. Many people like to keep their loved ones with them. Even though they qualify under normal circumstances for nursing home care, many people like to keep their own folk at home as long as they can. In terms of the economy of the thing, very often they have not been able to do so in the past because they could not afford it, despite all the love and affection they have for their loved ones. We decided to provide assistance in respect to domiciliary care because not only do we think that the humanity of the situation is so critical but also because it will help in relation to overcoming the overall problems of nursing homes and ultimately hospitals. It will help to relieve the pressure that is on hospitals at present. In this modern day and age hospitals do not like to have long term patients. When they do get long term patients they tend to move them into nursing homes. This is particularly so in hospitals which specialise in surgery. This legislation will help in that direction.
In response to the question asked of me by Senator Douglas McClelland, I wish to say that it is not intended that in normal circumstances departmental medical officers will go beyond the medical certificate from the patient’s own doctor. However, regard will be had to other circumstances as well as the medical condition of the patient where the patient can be better looked after in an institution than in a nursing home or if facilities are available in the patient’s own home. In the latter case the person looking after the patient would be advised to apply for domiciliary nursing care benefit. In no circumstances will an alternative arrangement be proposed without a process of consultation with the patient’s own doctor. Right throughout this Bill, even though there has to be support from the departmental doctor the primary message is - I used these words in my second reading speech, as I recall it - that it should be the patient’s own doctor in the first place because he is the one who knows the case, he knows the person, he knows the humanities involved and all the circumstances related to the case. That is the formality of the test. That relates to nursing home admission. In relation to domiciliary nursing care approval, it is not intended that in ordinary circumstances departmental medical officers in considering an application for approval for domiciliary nursing care will go beyond the medical certificate.
– They are virtually both the same.
– Yes. It is the medical certificate from the patient’s own doctor. Regard will be had, however, to all circumstances but no application will be refused in respect of medical criteria without a process of consultation. Again we come back to the patient’s own doctor. In the case of an appeal to the Minister, it is intended that where the appeal is based upon medical criteria the investigation is always to be carried out by a medical practitioner. I have not dealt with all the points raised by Senator Douglas McClelland. I will have a look at his speech and if there is a point that I want to get to him I will do so. In politics one lives his life and does what he wants to do but nothing has given me a greater thrill than to have this Bill before the Parliament and to have the unanimous support of all parties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– Honourable senators will recall that as a result of questions that have been addressed to me from time to time over the last 3 weeks I havementioned to them that there appears to me to be a constitutional anomaly in relation to the dissolution of the House of Representatives. I informed the Senate within the last 2 days that I have had this matter before the Standing Orders Committee. That Committee, as a result of a paper circulated to its members, met this morning. It has now made a report, which reads:
The Standing Orders Committee makes the following report to the Senate.
Consideration has been given to the question of Senate committees sitting after the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
This question raises matters of profound constitutional and parliamentary importance which require careful inquiry and deliberation. As the time available during the remainder of the present session is inadequate to complete such study, further consideration has been deferred.
That is, deferred by the Standing Orders Committee. The report continues:
I want honourable senators to mark these following words -
– Until when?
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the report be adopted.
– I heard the interjection by Senator Wright, He said: ‘Until when?’. Of course, it is understood that it is until the Senate meets again in 1973.
– I would have thought that there could be no resumption of the sittings of the Senate until the election of a new House of Representatives.
– I support the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– I draw attention to the words in paragraph 4 and I suggest that the paragraph should have been framed on the lines implied in Senator Wrights interjection. The paragraph states:
The Standing Orders Committee at this stage recommends to the Senate, without prejudice to any constitutional rights, that Senate committees be directed to refrain from meeting and transacting business after the forthcoming dissolution of the House of Representatives. . . .
No terminal point is imposed. I think that the words ‘and until the newly elected House of Representatives is summoned’, or words to that effect, should be inserted.
– Is not that the contingency covered by the words?
– I do not know. I feel that at this stage and in these terms it is left open-ended. I think that a terminal point should be inserted in terms similar to those I have suggested.
(4.18) - I point out that when the Parliament is asembled the committees will have to be reappointed anyway.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have a second statement to make. Yesterday Senator Devitt asked me whether the listing on the Senate notice paper of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation meant that the Committee is extant and. if so. can it convene to consider further the subject of its refer ence. I notice that Senator Devitt is not present in the Senate chamber at the moment, but for the benefit of all honourable senators I say that I promised Senator Devitt that I would reply to this question after the Standing Orders Committee had met this morning because it is involved in the statement that I have just made and with which the Senate has dealt. I reply to that the listing of a committee on the notice paper is for information purposes only and follows the practice of listing all committees which have been appointed during the session, together with the dates of presenting reports. In my opinion, the Joint Select Committee, in the nature of its appointment, was set up to make a report on a specific subject and, having reported, cannot be convened again except upon a further reference from the 2 Houses.
Senate adjourned at 4.19 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Is it a fact that there is at present no law in the Territory of Papua New Guinea making telephone tapping illegal; if so, what Regulations govern police ‘phone tapping activities in the Territory and what is the current frequency of police ‘phone tapping?
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There are provisions in the Criminal Codes and Posts and Telegraphs Ordinances of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea respectively dealing generally with interference to telephone services. There are no laws dealing specifically with telephone tapping at present.
The Department of Posts and Telegraphs, at the request of the Police, occasionally taps telephone calls of an obscene or objectionable nature. The
Department at the request of the police also taps telephone calls where necessary in connection with criminal charges of a serious nature.
New legislation to regulate the use of telephone tapping and listening devices generally, has been introduced in the House of Assembly.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
Australian Broadcasting Control Board -
Males - 14
Females - Nil
Australian Broadcasting Commission -
Females - 3
Australian Broadcasting Commission News Service -
Females - Nil
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
What action does the Minister contemplate taking in conjunction with State Highway Ministers to ensure that the owners of all car junkyards, adjacent to highways and important arterial roads are compelled to screen their activities by ample tree planting.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
I have been advised that in the Australian Capital Territory the policy is to site junk yards away from highways and major arterial roads; in the Northern Territory town planning legislation is used to ensure that new land leases for industrial purposes are sited away from main traffic routes as much as possible and when industrial leases are granted near any main traffic route, it is usual to include a covenant that a plantation strip is required to screen the industry from passing traffic. I will draw the attention of the State Ministers with the primary responsibility for environmental control to the honourable senator’s concern in this matter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
How much research has been done in conjunction with State Governments to make use of pulverised coal to filter waste in an endeavour to combat water pollution.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
My colleague the Minister for Education and Science has provided me with the following comments by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the matter:
The CSIRO Division of Mineral Chemistry has recently developed a technique of treating black and brown coals to produce coal-based filtering materials which have considerable potential in the treatment of industrial wastes. The Victorian Brown Coal Research Association, an instrumentality of the Victorian State Government, is currently sponsoring, through CSIRO, the construction of a test rig to produce materials for industrial evaluation.
In connection with water filtration, the Division of Mineral Chemistry tested several crushed coals in 1965-66 as an alternative filtering material to graded sand bodies for the N.S.W. Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. In accordance with overseas experience, a coal with anthracitic properties was found to be the most suitable for this purpose.’
I have also been advised that Victoria has been supporting investigations by the University of Melbourne into the use of brown coal char for the treatment of effluents.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Information was supplied by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General consult with the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts so as to formulate standards for television advertisements, which would prohibit advertisements which display or promote defilement of the environment.
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have discussed with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board the question of advertisements which could be considered to display or promote defilement of the environment. The Board collaborated with representatives of advertisers, advertising agencies and television stations in the issue, in 1966, of guidelines to be observed in the production of television advertisements. The guidelines, which have been revised since, presently contain provisions relating to such matters as the avoidance of the depiction of dangerous driving habits, situations which could be dangerous for children if imitated, bad taste in presentation, etc. The matter raised by Senator Willesee appears to merit consideration for inclusion in the guidelines and the Board is proceeding in the matter in conjunction with the relevant industy bodies, and will consult the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Are the shelters used by members of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force outside certain embassies in Canberra equipped only with gas-lights; if so, will the Minister take action to have the shelters connected to electricity mains, so as to allow for the installation of suitable heating and cooling devices.
Senator COTTON- The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The shelters used by members of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force are equipped with gas heating and lighting. The design of these units was developed after discussions with the Commissioner of Police and the Department of the Interior. The views of officers of the Police Association were also taken into account in the planning of the units.
A prime requirement was for a portable facility; gas was used to obviate the need for electrical connection. In the design of the buildings particular attention has been given to ensuring protection from summer heat by the provision of insulation, double glazing and extended overhanging eaves.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
As to the latter part of the question, it is not the policy of the Australian Government to comment upon the internal affairs of a country with which it has close and friendly relations. It is noted, however, that President Marcos has stated that Martial Law will be terminated as soon as conditions allow, if possible before the national elections scheduled for November 1973.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1)I am not aware that persons have been secretly photographed in the circumstances specified in the question. It is the practice of the Commonwealth Police, in cases where it is practicable to do so to take photographs of scenes at demonstrations involving breaches of Commonwealth law, for possible use as evidence in subsequent proceedings. This activity is carried on openly, without any attempt at concealment.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Is the Commonwealth Police Force still searching for the man who threatened to hijack and blow up an airliner, unless 2 associates of his were released from a Tasmanian gaol; if so, has this man been arrested; if so. why have no charges been laid; and is this man the same person who faced a charge in Brisbane, Queensland, for blowing up the Communist Party Headquarters but who absconded.
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The person referred to in the question is at present in custody, awaiting trial on a criminal charge. In the circumstances I do not consider that any further answer should be given to the question at present.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) There is no basis in fact in respect of any Commonwealth authority having been involved in any manner suggested by these questions.
– On 26th September 1972 (Hansard, page 1140) Senator Georges asked the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate a question without notice concerning the Australian Press. I undertook to examine the matter and give the honourable senator an answer.
I have read what my colleague, the Attorney-General, said and also the editorial comments made by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
Senator Greenwood did not accuse the Press as a whole of ‘prejudice, slanting and selective reporting’ nor did he express a Government view of the Press as a whole.
He made it quite clear that he was exercising the freedom of speech which every senator has, and he referred only to ‘some newspapers’ as is recorded in Hansard of 20th September, page 993.
I see no reason, therefore, to seek a reassurance from the Prime Minister as requested by the honourable senator and as suggested by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
– On 24th October 1972 Senator Young asked the following question without notice:
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.
The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has provided the folowing information:
The Australian Environment Council has asked its Standing Committee to report on waste disposal in Australia. As part of its work on this subject the Standing Committee has studied a progress report of the Victorian State Development Committee on the Disposal and/or Destruction of Garbage and other Rubbish. The Victorian report concluded on this subject of pyrolysis:
From the evidence submitted and from other information tendered to the Committee, there is obviously considerable scope for further research into various systems of pyrolysis. The Committee considers that the question as to whether or not systems of pyrolysis will be universally adopted by refuse disposal authorities may well depend upon economic factors associated with the cost of the establishment and operation of the plants.’
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What criteria are used to determine which journalists accompany a Minister on a VIP flight when the number of requests exceeds the number of places available or, as is apparently the case in the proposed visit of the Minister for External Territories to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the number of places which the Minister decides to make available.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The answer the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The general rules for VIP travel set out in my statement to the Senate on 30th September 1970 provide that ‘on special occasions or on visits to remote areas, approval may be given for a VIP to be accompanied by representatives of news media’.
On special occasions such as election campaigns, the selection of Press representatives is generally determined by the capacity of the aircraft and the VIP’s nomination, having regard to the number of news services desiring representation. In these circumstances it is the practice to charge Press representatives the equivalent of commercial economy fares.
On visits to remote areas, it is usual that no more than 2 press representatives accompany a VIP and the selection is determined by the VIP’s nomination and the desire that the choice should adequately reflect Press interest. The guidelines are not inflexible and, should a VIP consider that special circumstances warrant exception to the general principle of limiting representation to 2, a further approach may be made to the Prime Minister for approval to exceed this number.
For the visit to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Minister for External Territories complied with the necesary criteria and approval was granted for 4 pressmen, representing different newspaper groups, to accompany him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
These T & PI pensioners previously had a dual eligibility for these benefits, firstly because of their T & PI classification and secondly, as means test pensioners and, in addition, they and their dependants qualified for medical and pharmaceutical benefits under the Pensioner Medical Scheme. The increase in the TPI rate has now raised the income of this group over ‘the limit which disqualifies any member of the community from participating in the scheme.
The question of fare and rate concessions is a matter for the various local authorities concerned. Eligibility varies from State to State and within States and in some areas possession of a Pensioner Medical Service card is the criterion for the concession. No figures are available which would indicate the number who may have lost these concessions because of the increase in the TPI rate.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 October 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19721027_senate_27_s54/>.