28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I inform the Senate that the Special Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Willesee, left Australia on 6th April to attend a meeting in Japan of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. He is expected to return to Australia on 16th April. During Senator Willesee’s absence the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, Mr Stewart, is the Acting Special Minister of State. In this chamber I shall represent the Acting Minister in addition to those Ministers normally represented by Senator Willesee.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice I will move that:
Contingent upon any Minister of State asking on any day of sitting during question time that further questions without notice be placed on the notice paper,
I may move that questions without notice be further proceeded with.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Does the Attorney-General recall the Prime Minister’s offer of last Tuesday to look at the tabling of the terms and conditions of the appointment of the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? 1 ask the Attorney-General whether he will now follow that course so that honourable senators will be aware of the terms and conditions of the appointment?
– Yes, I think I offered in this chamber to table the terms and conditions and I am willing to do so. I notice that there are some matters which, although they are not so much of a personal nature, are unrelated to things in which honourable senators would be interested. I know that in the other House the Prime Minister either has tabled or has indicated that he will table the document, leaving aside some formal matters.
I am not quite sure which formal matters he has left out; it may be that they are the same ones as I have in mind - in other words, matters touching on the appointment which are of a contractual nature. 1 do not think that the Senate would be interested in those matters; rather it would be interested in the matters of public affairs. I will certainly table the document. Perhaps if the Senate would allow me, I will table the document later in the day after I have ascertained which of the formal matters have been left out in the other House by the Prime Minister.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Miss Elizabeth Reid, who has just been appointed as adviser to the Prime Minister, states in a Press statement today that she will work for the abolition of laws against abortion, prostitution, homosexuality and marihuana, and that these will be some of her aims in her job with the Prime Minister. I ask: Did the Prime Minister appoint Miss Reid for the purposes and duties stated by her?
– I shall refer the question to the Prime Minister for an answer. But I think that the honourable senator would realise that he has simply asked a political question about the appointee. As everyone would be aware, persons employed are entitled to their own political views. The honourable senator has referred to some questions, particularly the question of abortion law reform, which are treated by the Australian Labor Party as matters for individual judgment, and members of the Party may express their own views on them. No doubt that would extend to all other persons. I do not know what political persuasion, if any, the person to whom the honourable senator has referred has, but I would think that she is entitled to express her view on matters. If the Prime Minister desires to add anything further, I will inform the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Minister subscribe to the views expressed by Senator Wright when representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the former Government, that any fragmentation of Yugoslavia as desired by certain members of the Croation Liberation Movement would increase tension in Europe and provide an opportunity for the Soviet Union to pursue its expansionist territorial policy?
– Yugoslavia is a country with which Australia has had friendly relations for a very long time - I think for more than 50 years - and I understand that it has been an ally of Australia at critical times. I am interested in the reminder by the honourable senator of what was said by Senator Wright in his capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the former Government. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for any further answer on the precise matter which the honourable senator has raised. The substantial part of the matter is that there is enough friction in the world, and any causes of further friction which might lead to a reopening of European sores, which have led to 2 World Wars, would not be welcomed by most people in the world.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Following his statement in the Senate last Thursday night about police raids in New South Wales, in relation to which he - is reported in Hansard as stating that the raids were initiated in the first place by the New South Wales police, I ask him whether he has seen reports in which the Premier of New South Wales has emphatically denied that the New South Wales police initiated the raids on 80 homes in the early hours of Saturday, 31st March? Will the Attorney-General state who did initiate this terror raid which must remind so many new Australians of their earlier life when they lived in fear of that knock on the door during the hours of darkness?
– Some detail can be obtained. No doubt the easiest thing would be for the respective police forces to speak out on the matter. But it is my understanding that for some time the New South Wales police have been contemplating searching certain premises for proper purposes. Ultimately what took place was a joint operation of the State and Commonwealth police forces. The co-operation was of a very high degree. The way in which this operation was conducted by the police forces was a matter for their planning and execution. If they considered that such a course was necessary in order to deal with illegal conduct and to prevent violence occurring, then I think that it does not behove the honourable senator to condemn the Commonwealth and State police forces for doing what they considered to be their duty in order to uphold public law and order.
That is my answer to the honourable senator. I find nothing to criticise in the actions of the New South Wales police or in the actions of the Commonwealth police. This matter was handled by the police. I have no doubt that they acted in what they thought was the public interest. Honourable senators have been informed already that as a result of the searches which took place a number of persons have been charged. When I say ‘charged’ I mean that they have not been tried. They have been charged with possession in various ways of explosives, gelignite, detonators and, as I recall it, in some cases weapons.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the ever increasing financial problems being faced by family units in the Australian poultry industry. Is the Minister aware of the concern felt by the broiler growing and other sections of the poultry industry at the tendency to monopoly control in those sections of the industry? Has the Minister received representations on these matters? What action, if any, has he taken?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has received many representations on this matter, including a delegation within the last fortnight from the broiler and turkey sections of the Victorian Farmers Union when there was complaint about monopoly control of the industry. In negotiation with the Attorney-General there has been some reference of this matter to the Commissioner of Trade Practices to see whether there is a breach of the Trade Practices Act. The Minister has received a number of deputations, and he is prepared to receive any deputation in relation to the matter. The matter is now occupying the Minister’s attention. Anything he can do to relieve the situation will be done promptly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the
Environment. It concerns the proposed inquiry into the Lake Pedder hydro-electric scheme. Because this work was agreed to by the sovereign State of Tasmania in 1967 and is its constitutional responsibility and because the work has been practically completed - to the extent that the resultant enlargement is approximately three-quarters full - is it not ludicrous, purposeless and asinine to conduct an inquiry now into the proposition, which actually is of little concern to the Commonwealth? Is it any wonder that Mr Reece says he is tired of the whole silly business? Could not the time and money that this inquiry will cost be spent to better purpose than on an exercise in futility?
– The Minister for the Environment has, as I think every member of this chamber has, had lots of representation on and protests about the Lake Pedder project, which is essentially a matter for the Tasmanian Government. As Senator Lillico said, there is nothing the Commonwealth can do at this stage to stop the Lake Pedder project from going ahead. An environmental inquiry is to be conducted for the purpose of ascertaining how someone could go ahead with a project in relation to which there is much opposition without taking into consideration the impact that it may have on the environment and for the purpose of ascertaining how the Lake Pedder project came about despite the great public outcry against it, as well as to ensure that any mistakes which may have been made in the decision to go ahead with the Lake Pedder project will not occur with respect to similar projects in other States. We hope that the inquiry will show the justification for requiring State and Commonwealth governments to make environmental impact studies prior to taking decisions to proceed with such projects.
(Senator Negus having addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport)
– Order! As that question is a very lengthy one it will go on notice.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In view of the psychopathic nature of the oaths taken by certain members of an ethnic group in which they swear by Almighty God that they will overthrow by violence the Government of a friendly nation, will the Attorney-General take the necessary action of sending by letter a warning to all Yugoslavs who claim to be Croats that such activity contravenes the Crimes Act and that the penalty is imprisonment or deportation or both?
– I think it should have become apparent to everyone that the Government will not tolerate terror or violence in this community, and steps certainly will betaken, either in the way that the honourable senator suggests or, perhaps even better, by some kind of notice being sent to the various newspapers as well as by whatever other means are available, to ensure that those who may not have got the message do get the message.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of a statement made by the Minister for Works in this chamber last Thursday during the debate on Croatian terrorism in which he said - this appears on page 865 of Hansard:
While neither this Government nor the previous Government may have had evidence on which to base prosecutions - it could well be that Senator Murphy did not have any evidence before the police visits to homes in Sydney last week-end - there was knowledge of the existence of a group in Australia.
I ask the Attorney-General: Did he have clear evidence concerning the occupants of these homes before the raids took place, or were the police used, as Senator Cavanagh implied, to raid these homes in the hope of obtaining evidence?
– I did not have any evidence about the persons concerned for the very reason that I have stated repeatedly in the Senate, namely, that what was done was not done by me, that this was a matter handled by the police forces. Insofar as they needed legal assistance in connection with warrants and the basis on which those warrants were issued, that assistance was given, I think, by the Deputy Crown Solicitor in Sydney - that is one person of whom 1 am aware - and with certain advice from within the Attorney-General’s Department and from the head of that Department. It was a matter in which I did not intrude. I think that honourable senators will appreciate that it was proper - T considered it proper, anyway - that I should not interfere in this matter. I do not know what the evidence was on which the action was taken and on which the decision was made in respect of each of the persons. This was a matter for the police, and I hope that the honourable senator would have confidence in the police forces of the States and the Commonwealth.
– I ask a question of the Attorney-General and I refer to what I regard as the growing concern and confusion in the nation in the absence of clear and full information as to the circumstances of the AttorneyGeneral’s personal intervention in the operations of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the consequences which flow from it. I refer to 2 answers given by the honourable senator to questions directed by me to him on 28th March and 3rd April. On 28th March I asked the honourable senator whether he was prepared to come before a Senate committee of inquiry. On 3rd April he said:
There are some conflicting accounts of what occurred, lt is not for me to prejudge what occurred and inquiries are still going on into the matter. I think it would be premature to determine the question whether I should appear before a Senate committee. However, I inform the Senate that the state of affairs I have mentioned certainly will not be allowed to persist.
That was part of the answer given on 3rd April. On 28th March I had asked the Attorney-General this question:
The Attorney-General replied:
I will discuss with the Prime Minister whether the appropriate course is for me to come before a committee.
And he went on to say:
The matter has been discussed with the DirectorGeneral of Security . . .
I now ask the Attorney-General whether he has discussed the matter with the Prime Minister and whether he would be prepared to come before a Senate committee of inquiry, if such were constituted, or any other body of inquiry if such were constituted?
– I find this an extraordinary question to come from the honourable senator. He now stands up in this chamber and suggests that there should be an inquiry into the matter. After having voted on Thursday last virtually to censure me he now says: ‘Will you come and let us find out the facts of it?’ I would say, Mr President, that the honourable senator ought to consider his position, not mine.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security the following question: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a short announcement by the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Gavin Johnson, when he said that the revision schedule of more than 3,000 recommended fees had to be printed and that this work would take some weeks and that the list would be printed outside Australia? Will the Minister please take this matter up with Dr Gavin Johnson to ascertain whether he has been correctly reported? If the report is factual will the Minister ask Dr Johnson whether he will justify his Association’s actions in having printing executed outside Australia, when Australians will.be expected to pay, the substantial increases in medical charges proposed by the AMA?
– My attention has been drawn to the statement made by Dr Johnson that it would be necessary, probably, for the Austraiian Medical Association to have the revised list of fees printed abroad, and certainly I will refer my colleague’s question in that .regard to the Minister for Social Security in another place. On this matter, Mr President, may I say that the present schedule contains some 2,100 items and it has been variously reported that the AMA’s new schedule includes 3,000 or 4,000 items. Concurrently it will be necessary for the Department of Social Security to analyse the effects of the changes on the different sections of the profession having regard to the fact that while fees for general practitioners’ home visits and surgery consultations were increased in 1971 and 1972, for many other procedures there has been no increase in fees for over 2 years. I stress on behalf of the Minister for Social Security that the changes contemplated will affect over 2,000 services for each State. Clearly, it will be a major exercise in economic analysis and logistics on the part of my colleague, the Minister for Social Security, and the officers of his Department.
-] refer the Attorney-General to his statements made on television last Friday night to the effect that his visit to the Canberra office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on the night of 15th March, as yet unexplained in answers to questions in the Parliament, was consequent upon his not being satisfied that he was getting enough information from ASIO. 1 ask him: In view of the fact that he has previously told the Senate that no information he had requested either from the Director-General or from the Regional Director of ASIO in Canberra had been withheld from him, what were the grounds, firstly for his dissatisfaction and, secondly, for going directly to the office of ASIO at midnight on that night and not asking the DirectorGeneral himself?
– I have said, a number of times I think, that I had not been refused information. I have said a number of times that I was not being given information which I ought to have been given. I went to the Canberra office a little before midnight, after the rising of the Senate, by appointment with the Regional Director. I there discussed with him a number of matters and saw a number of documents.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to an admission by the former holder of that distinguished portfolio that he took with him documents, both classified and unclassified, from departmental files? Has he had any investigation made into the statement of the former AttorneyGeneral which was made, not in the Senate, but in a television interview, to the effect that he had in fact taken certain documents from the files of the Department when compulsorily retiring from his office? Can he advise the Senate what documents were … by the previous AttorneyGeneral? Was this action legally taken and ethically proper?
– Order? The honourable senator cannot say ‘legally and ethically’ and preface those words by saying . . . Hansard will strike out the word.
– I rise to order.
– I have taken the point of order on the honourable senator’s behalf.
– There is another point of order. I know that I have a right to make a personal explanation at the end of question time about statements which completely misrepresent my position. But is the honourable senator entitled, without objection by me, to make quite inaccurate statements as to what 1 have said in the course of the interview?
– A point of order does arise in that the presiding officer is entitled to protect honourable senators. I have sought to protect the honourable senator. He may, at the end of question time, seek leave to make a personal explanation. I am sure that honourable senators will grant that to him. Senator Poyser, you will bear in mind my ruling that you have offended against the canons of the Senate. The word . . . will be struck out of the Hansard record. Continue with your question.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral also cause to have undertaken an investigation as to what other classified and unclassified documents were taken by other previous Ministers when relinquishing office? Finally, does he believe that the taking of these documents by at least one former minister was done for the purpose of denying the incoming Minister information which would have been an exposure of the former Minister’s maladministration of his Department?
– I saw some account of what Senator Greenwood said - that he had taken and kept documents. I have not caused an investigation to be made. I noted that he said he was doubtful as to the legality or the propriety of what he had done. But I have not caused any investigation to be undertaken. It is a strange state of affairs when a person who has no official capacity can, if he is correctly reported, keep in his possession confidential as well as non-confidential documents of the nation. Again if he is correctly reported, he has threatened to prosecute me, as I understand it, for what I did as a Minister with the ministerial reponsibility for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in having documents kept sealed and in going into property of the Commonwealth. Apparently the view which is to be taken is that one who has ministerial responsibility and who exercises it to preserve documents which he thinks it is necessary to preserve is committing some unlawful act, but one who ceases to have any responsibility and who abstracts or retains documents, if the previous Minister is correctly reported, need not be concerned about the legality or the propriety of his actions.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the decision of the Government, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, to decrease monetary liquidity by a call to statutory reserve deposits. Will the Minister advise the Senate whether this call is the first of a series of calls? If so, how far does the Government intend to exercise this process of economic restraint?
– The honourable senator has raised a question of a major nature. In view of its great importance I propose not to endeavour to answer it even in general terms but to refer the matter to the Treasurer for an answer to the honourable senator and. to all honourable senators.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister able to say whether the Government, with a view to saving money, has looked at the possibility of having most public servants travel economy class on aircraft in Australia, instead of first class as is now the practice? Will the Minister say whether, if the Government is not prepared to ask the Public Service to travel economy class on all flights, it will direct the Public Service Board to ask that travel on economy class be taken on flights of short duration where the scheduled flight is, say, of about 2i hours?
– I certainly will refer the question to the Prime Minister. If I may venture a personal opinion, I think that there should be only one class of travel in Australia. The economy class ought to be abandoned. People ought to be able to travel with some measure of comfort and decency. I think this applies especially to overseas flights on which humans are, I think, carried in con ditions of discomfort which probably would not be tolerated by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in respect of cattle. I think that irrespective of costs there ought to be some limits below which persons should not be forced into physical discomfort and that there ought to be more room for people to move on aircraft. I do not think that we should tolerate persons being given less than a proper standard. I would rather see the standard for everyone lifted. I think there should be only one class of travel in Australia.
– I ask of the Minister representing the Treasurer a question which follows upon the one asked by Senator Cotton. It relates to the action which was taken today to call up $100m of trading bank funds which are to be placed in . statutory, reserve deposits. Has any instruction been given to the trading banks as to how they are to apply this credit squeeze? Will the Minister ensure that the rural sector does not suffer unduly in view of the. fact that this part of Australia’s economy is just emerging from - a period of drought and low prices? ‘ ‘
– I do not “know of the details which the honourable senator has suggested. I have no doubt that the Australian Treasurer has received advice on all aspects of the matter, including the one which the honourable senator has raised, arid has taken this advice into consideration as we would expect him ‘ to do. He considers that the step mentioned is wise and is in the interests of Australia. He would have regard to its effect on all sections of the community, including the rural sector.
– My. question is directed to Senator Murphy in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is the Minister aware that, when answering charges in the United States of America that large numbers of prisoners were held in inhuman conditions in South Vietnamese gaols, the President of South Vietnam, President Thieu, said that he was prepared to open the prisons to international inspection? Will the Minister discuss with the Prime Minister the possibility of sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to inspect such prisons in South Vietnam?
– Yes, I will.
– I ask my question of the Minister for the Media. Is it a fact that the Federal Government proposes to replace cigarette advertising on television with antismoking advertising, sponsored by the Government? Does the Government propose to compensate television stations fully for loss of cigarette advertising revenue? If the Government picks up the tab completely, what is the estimated cost to the Government?
– It is Government policy that cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising should be prohibited on all forms of the media, but the Federal Government’s jurisdiction concerning media advertising relates only to broadcasting and television. Recently I have had discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Health, on the course of action that we should take in carrying out Government policy in prohibiting cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising and, at the same time, again in conformity with Government policy, to implement a system of phasing in anti-smoking advertising. These matters have been discussed by Dr Everingham and me and are now the subject of further discussion between officers of our 2 departments. 1 might add that it certainly would not be expected that the amount of expenditure to be incurred by the Government would compensate television stations for the loss in revenue that they might sustain through the prohibiting of cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising. However, recently I received a letter from the Chairman of the Australian Association of Advertising Agencies which said that members of his Association were having difficulty in obtaining sufficient time on television for the advertising of their client’s products. I genuinely believe that if cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising were phased out in Australia in conjunction with a phasing in of anti-smoking advertising there would not be much monetary loss to the television stations concerned.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that if one wishes ill fortune to any enemy the easiest way of achieving this is to present that enemy with the ‘Doctors Book’, upon which the enemy will invariably accumulate all the diseases about which he or she reads? Is .the Government not aware that if it persists with its scheme of forcing chemists to hand out pamphlets outlining the side effects of drugs that they have supplied to patients, the patients also will suffer from some or all of the side effects mentioned in the pamphlets, thus necessitating further costs in the patients having again to consult their doctors in order to get different tablets, from whose side effects they will again invariably suffer, thus necessitating further costs and again consulting their doctors? I could go on all afternoon, but there it is.
– It appears to me that my colleague Senator Turnbull is talking more about suggestible effects than actual effects. I shall refer his question to my colleague the Minister for Health in another place.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General and follows an earlier question asked by Senator Young and the answer given by the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the Federal Cabinet of which the Attorney-General is a member discussed the question of the pre-dawn raids of 31st March or similar raids to be conducted either in Sydney or throughout Australia prior to those raids? If such discussion took place, was it upon the instigation of the Attorney-General? Does the Attorney-General still deny that he instigated the raids? Does he say that the New South Wales Premier and the New South Wales Commissioner of Police are lying when they say that the New South Wales police did not initiate the raids?
– I do not propose to discuss in the Senate happenings in Cabinet, as the honourable senator suggests 1 should. I have told the Senate before that, as one would expect in view of certain happenings in Sydney last year, investigations were being pursued for some time and that certain action was being contemplated other than by the Commonwealth police. I have said that there was co-operation between both police forces in the searches which took place and that they endeavoured to do what they conceived to be their duty. I have read some of the statements which have appeared in the Press relating to what was said by the Premier and
I think I answered the honourable senator’s question before. I think the honourable senator is suggesting that in some way I instigated the raids. The answer to that is no.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Did Cabinet authorise the Commonwealth police raids on the weekend of 31st March and 1st April?
– My President, I have already informed honourable senators that I do not propose to tell the Senate of happenings in Cabinet. Once this course starts there will be open government in a way which I do not think anyone has contemplated in all the discussion on open government. Honourable senators will be pleased to know that the drafting of the Freedom of Information Bill is advancing very swiftly. Nevertheless I do not think anyone has contemplated that the decisions of Cabinet should be open to discussion. I do not propose to answer the honourable senator although it would be easy to do so. If I did I would have to do so again on some other occasion. These were police matters and they were handled by the police. Obviously one can deduce that there was good reason for the police force of the State to engage in searches otherwise it would not have taken out warrants. There was good reason for the Commonwealth police to do what they did. Is the Senate going to accept that the police carried out their duty? I have informed honourable senators that I did not know what premises were going to be searched. I did not see the basis upon which it was done. I thought that proper. I knew in a general sense what was going to take place, but I thought it proper to leave these matters to be determined by the police and, if they needed any advice, to seek it from the appropriate legal authorities.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the continual barrage of highly critical statements emanating from the Australian Ambassador designate to the People’s Republic of China, Dr Fitzgerald. I ask the Minister: When will the Government issue instructions to Dr Fitzgerald that diplo mats should- confine themselves to the carrying out of their diplomatic duties and not engage in political controversy?
– If ever there was a person who ought not to be giving advice on what should be said by persons in carrying out their duties in relation to matters of foreign affairs it is the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Government aware of the chaotic position in most ports in Tasmania in relation to the movement of cargo from that State to the mainland? ls the Minister aware that the disruption of trade in goods and materials from Tasmania is costly to many producers in primary and secondary industry? Will the Minister urgently press the Australian National Line to divert ships to move cargoes stored on the wharves awaiting shipment?
– This is a matter on which I have had some additional information since I last answered a question on it by, I believe, Senator Rae, but I have refrained from giving it to the Senate because there is before the Senate for discussion a notice of motion dealing with the question of employing the ‘Straitsman’ to operate shipping services to King Island. The Federal Government is fully aware of the chaotic position of shipping services to Tasmania and points out that this position arose in June 1972 when the ‘Straitsman’ was taken off the service because the then Government would not give a subsidy. The chaos in Tasmania has been created by the refusal of the previous Government to do anything about shipping services to Tasmania.
Since this Government has been in office it has had continual consultations with the Tasmanian Government for the purpose of trying to find some remedy to the problem of providing shipping services to Tasmania. When I answered the question by Senator Rae - and I now find that possibly an incorrect statement was made about the purchase of the ‘Straitsman’ - it was not within my power to state that the Commonwealth Minister for Transport was consulting with the Premier of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Minister for Transport, Mr Batt, to find a solution to this problem. The question is essentially one for the Tasmanian Government. The Federal Government is prepared to subsidise shipping services to Tasmania. It is now only a question of finding a suitable ship that can be utilised for the service. Both Tasmania and the Commonwealth are working on this question and in the very near future we hope to be able to make an announcement about it.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: When did he first inform the Prime Minister of his reasons for his midnight visit to the Canberra regional office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Did he do so on the day following the visit?
– I suppose that it would be technically the same day.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, by referring to a reported statement by the Minister in another place indicating that he wants to see Australian built 100,000-ton bulk carriers in the Australian merchant shipping fleet as soon as possible. It is also reported that he wrote to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Australian National Line seeking their co-operation in choosing a standard design for these ships. In view of the apparent depressed state of the shipbuilding industry in Australia I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the continued interest by BHP in the shipment overseas of liquefied natural gas. Has the Government been approached by BHP in relation to the construction of tankers suitable for carrying such cargo? If not, will the Minister take up this matter with BHP or other shipbuilding companies and encourage the building of such vessels in Australia?
– I can say that this Government has done everything possible to develop shipbuilding in Australia, which had lagged badly under the previous Government. In his question the honourable senator asks whether the Minister has been informed by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. I do not know. I shall refer the question to the Minister for a more detailed reply.
– I ask the
Acting Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware, of reports that the export of Australian wool could be stopped indefinitely by a ban imposed on handling by the Federated Storemen and Packers Union, in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. If he is aware of these reports will he say what action the Government proposes to take to ensure that wool growers and the wool industry generally will not suffer at the hands of a few union agitators?
– .The. Minister for Primary Industry is well aware of the problem facing the industry at the present time because of the ban which has been placed on the handling of wool by the trade union movement. Two matters are involved. Mr Petrie of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union has had a conference with the Minister on this question and has arranged for a conference to be held with those who are interested. There is opposition in the trade union movement to the use of jumbo bales and to sale by samples, because this will reduce the amount of labour required to handle the wool and there is a fear of redundancy. The union feels that some compensation should be paid to those involved. This was the basis of negotiations with Mr Petrie, and subsequently with the wool brokers, for a conference to see whether the union’s fears could be allayed. In the meantime 130 wool handlers have been dismissed. This has led to a crisis and it is expected that the ban, which has spread to numerous ports, will spread throughout Australia. Essentially this is a matter for the Minister for Labour. He has informed me that he has the, matter well in hand at this stage.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether his attention has been drawn to a television statement made by the former Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, that he was in favour of a royal commission comprised of judges being set up to inquire into Croatian terrorism but that he would not support the members of the royal commission if they were appointed by the Attorney-General. Does not this statement cast a slur on the judiciary of this country and imply that any judge appointed by the Attorney-General could not be trusted to carry out his duties with integrity and impartiality?
– Yes, I think it does. It ought to be remembered that the overwhelming majority of judges have been appointed by Liberal-Country Party governments. Certainly in the Federal sphere no judge has been appointed by the Labor Government. In the States the great majority of the judges appointed have been appointed by Liberal-Country Party governments of various guises.
– I desire to ask a question of the Attorney-General on a matter that I believe concerns the important subject of human rights and civil liberties. Serious charges have been made against organisations and individuals by the Attorney-General. They have been made under the privilege of Parliament. Therefore those against whom the charges have been made cannot take legal action to clear their names. In another place the Prime Minister has just refused to set up a royal commission before which such people might have been able to appear in order to clear their names. I ask: Does the AttorneyGeneral not feel that citizens of the Commonwealth who have been charged in this way have a right to put their case to some tribunal in order to prove their innocence? I referred to this matter on a previous occasion and the Attorney-General said that the matter was worthy of thought. What was the result of the Government’s thinking on this matter?
– In respect of certain persons there have been convictions and in respect of certain other persons charges are pending. The importance of a matter being aired in the Parliament is that it is the one place where persons can deal with matters of very great moment in the community. If, as put by the Government, organisations of the nature described do exist, the Parliament is entitled to be told, especially in view of the fact that it had previously been told that such organisations did not exist. The Government does not make any apology for dealing with the matter of informing the Parliament, and therefore the nation, that these organisations exist. What the honourable senator has suggested may be resolved. Further consideration can be given to the matter and I will do so. But the fact remains that various proceedings have been instituted. No doubt those proceedings will serve to throw further light on the matter. No doubt further investigations will help to throw further light on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. Could the Minister explain how 2 conflicting opinions can be justified in, for example, a case where an anti-Labor government, such as exists in the State, of Queensland, grants an additional week’s annual leave to its employees and that is regarded by Liberals as the act of a benevolent employer, but when a Labor government acts in a similar manner and grants additional leave to its employees it is charged with irresponsibility? Does the Minister agree that such contrasting attitudes could be regarded as typical of the two-faced industrial pronouncements of the anti-Labor forces in Australia today?
– Order! That is a rhetorical question. The honourable senator is asking for an affirmative answer, and I assume the Minister is going to give one.
– The answer is yes.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Has the AttorneyGeneral seen the sign on the door of the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate which can be correctly read as M15 - M-15 - or misinterpreted as M.I.5? In view of the Attorney-General’s raid on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Melbourne, I ask: Will the AttorneyGeneral give an assurance that he will not misinterpret the sign as being M.I.S, which could result in an embarrassing visit to the office of the Leader of the Opposition?
– I think that question indicates the level at which the Opposition has approached a matter of very great importance. It is not unimportant that the Government considers that organisations existed in this country which should not exist; it is not unimportant that we had a visit of an overseas Prime Minister whose life was under threat while he was in this country; it is not unimportant that I consider that action of various kinds had to be taken in relation to that visit; and it is not unimportant that honourable senators opposite should use their numbers to pass a motion in respect of a matter which they now suggest they would like to know the facts and yet were ready to and did condemn before ascertaining those facts. Now the level of approach of the Opposition is revealed by a question put to me by the Whip of the Opposition who holds a significant position on the Opposition side of the chamber.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, follows on the question I asked him earlier as to how long before his visit to the Canberra office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation he made the appointment which he said he was keeping by going to that office. I ask the Minister: Why did he go to the Office of ASIO and not communicate directly with the Director-General if the cause of his dissatisfaction was to him so urgent?
– For the last week and the week before that I answered questions in this chamber until I think on the Thursday before last honourable senators ran out of questions to ask.
– Not as many as were asked in the Hoffmann case.
– Nevertheless the honourable senator has asked his questions. He has gone over and backwards and forwards and sideways and then has participated in asking questions. He can look back through the answers which I have given, and I do not propose to add to them.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, is supplementary to my previous question and his answer. I ask: How does the Minister reconcile his statement that he informed the Prime Minister of the reasons for his Canberra visit to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, in his words, ‘on the same day as the visit’ with the Prime Minister’s statement to a recent Press conference, I think last week, that at the time of that Press conference last week he, the Prime Minister, did not know of the reason for the Attorney-General’s Canberra visit?
– When I said *on the same day’ I meant, of course, that day if the visit went after midnight. So we will not have any doubts about this, I spoke to the Prime
Minister about the matter, if you like, on the Friday. Again I do not propose to go through any process of reconciliation, semantics or hair-splitting about the matter. The honourable senator has had his chance. He has asked his questions. He has arrived at his verdict. He has voted on the matter. I do not propose at this stage to go back, rehash the matter and go through this hair-splitting process of reconciliation. Maybe the honourable senator is starting to feel guilty about what he has done and he is searching around to try to find some justification for his actions. He made up his mind and he has voted, and I do not propose to add to what I have said.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the main reason for his action in relation to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation incident was that he felt human life was or could have been endangered by terrorist action? Did the Minister honestly feel that there existed in Australia terrorists or terrorism? Did he feel it his duty to act quickly, against such terrorists? Will court action be taken against such terrorists? If such court action results in sentences being imposed on the offenders, does the AttorneyGeneral consider that an apology should be forthcoming from those senators, who supported the motion of want of confidence against him?
– I think I can fairly answer yes to all the honourable senator’s questions. I set out on the course that I did, as I have indicated, because of the nature of the situation that we were faced with. Honourable senators opposite may have the numbers and they may think this is very amusing. It is not amusing to people who have suffered intimidation, who have suffered from violence and who have suffered from the use of explosives. It is. not at all amusing that a friendly nation has had to complain about Australia’s inaction in respect of terrorist organisations. It is not amusing that around the world Australia was regarded as the haven for these terrorist organisations. I thank the honourable senator for his support for the actions that I have taken. I think that the public of Australia does not want the terrorism and violence which were being allowed to develop under the previous administration.
It wants to see that action is taken to ensure that this is stamped out, and I assure the honourable senator that I will do everything I can to see that the development of terror and violence is prevented in Australia.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Can the Minister say whether the Government is planning to upgrade the national highway system to provide for 4-lane highways connecting Canberra with the State capitals in accordance with a reported statement by his colleague in another place, which statement was made before the present Government came into office? If so, what progress has been made with respect to this proposal? Is it a fact that the Minister for Works stated in Melbourne last week that bitumen roads should connect beef stations to major roads? Is it also a fact that the Minister said there should be good roads from Alice Springs to Port Augusta and from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock? If so, what is the Government doing about the Minister’s suggestions?
– This Government has granted additional loans to State governments for the upgrading of the transport systems of the various States and it is for the State governments themselves to decide on the question of expenditure. Large-scale intercapital roads are, I believe, the subject of an economic study by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. The Department is considering the question and hopes to bring down in the near future something on the question of roads. The honourable senator has referred to my statement when opening the national conference of the Australian Asphalt Pavements Association. I said what expresses my belief and, I think, the belief of everyone who has traversed the road from Adelaide to Alice Springs and to Ayers Rock. Everyone agrees about the need for such roads and I hope the time is not too far distant when these roads become a reality. However, honourable senators must keep in mind the volume of vital road work which has developed as a result of so many years of neglect of road formation and that as a result of this there may be some delay. At this stage it is the hope of the Minister for Works that these roads soon will become a project. The Minister for Works is not the Minister who must find money for the projects; the Department of
Works builds the projects but somebody else finds the money. While there may be a delay, [ can assure the honourable senator that the question is receiving immediate and serious consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. If, as the Minister said, one of the reasons for the Storemen and Packers Union’s ban on the handling of export wool is the union’s concern about the possible introduction of new methods of wool handling and marketing, can he say whether the Government proposes to allow unionists to dictate the marketing methods of Australia’s most important single earner of export income?
– 1 do not know whether there is domination by the unionists. The fact is that moving export wool from Australia is a co-operative effort in which the unionists are concerned as much as anybody else. As I stated in a previous answer, the question concerned the trade union movement because of the possibility of redundancy. This is a real problem when new methods are adopted. It is not anticipated that if the new methods represent progress they can be stopped. Representatives of the trade union movement have been conferring with the Minister. Advice has been going from the Minister to the Chairman of the Wool Corporation to whom the unions and other segments of the industry have been invited to submit their views. While all this has been going on 140 storemen employed by Grazcos Co-operative Ltd and Brookland Warehouses Ltd in Victoria have been dismissed as from 6th April. This has instilled a real fear in the minds of those who are threatened with redundancy. I do not know whether this was a hasty action taken by the companies, but the problem will have to be solved by negotiation. The Minister for Labour and his Department have taken up the matter. I believe that it has been the subject of a conference before an arbitration commissioner and the possibility of a solution lies in this area. The solution of this problem will not be found by condemning one section involved in the dispute. The parties should be getting together to see whether an early solution can be found to the problem.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to a question he answered earlier today about assistance to the shipbuilding industry in Australia. In the course of this answer he was critical of the activities in this area by the previous Government. I observe in passing that that seems to be a standard practice, and as the Government has been in office now for 4 months I think it is time that he began to operate on the basis of running the affairs of the country. Does he feel that the closure or potential closure of Australian shipbuilding yards since his Government took office is evidence of any real interest in the welfare of the industry by the Government?
– A previous government is not exonerated because of something that occurs when a new government comes into office and is faced with the difficulty of resurrecting an industry which is run down as a result of the actions of a previous government. While it is a matter for decision by the shipbuilding industry, since this Government has been in office it has assured Evans Deakin Industries Ltd, one of the industries that intends to close, that a subsidy would not be recaptured from the Santa Fe oil drilling rig in order to secure an order for their shipbuilding yard. The company would not accept the order. The Government has agreed to provide a 25 per cent subsidy for 2 roll-on roll-off vessels for the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Ltd for trans-Tasman services. It has announced that orders would be placed by the Australian National Line for a 70,000-ton replacement vessel for the Tolga’. It has announced that ANL will shortly place orders for the replacement of the ‘North Esk’ and for vessels in the Tasmanian trade. Tenders were called for the oceanographic vessel for the Navy and tenders will be called shortly for the navigational aid vessel for the Department of Transport. It is expected that several companies will announce plans to build vessels and oil rigs in Australia. The Government has permitted the importation of three 100,000 ton vessels with requirements that an equivalent tonnage be built in Australia. It has announced that coastal trade will be reserved for Australian ships, and it seeks an equitable share of overseas trade to be carried in Australian ships.
Surely this is a good record for the 4 months that the new Government has been in office in attempting to retrieve the position existing when it came into office.
– I rise, Mr President, if I might say so, to exercise a right which senators have to ask questions and to expect that Ministers will provide the information that they are asked to provide.
– Order! Senator Greenwood, ask your question and do not make a speech.
– I say that by way of preface because of what Senator Murphy said when I asked a question a moment ago. I asked him: About how long prior to his visit to the Canberra office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on 15th March was the appointment made by him to visit that office? I now ask him: Why did he go to the office of ASIO, in the light of his dissatisfaction, and not to the DirectorGeneral of ASIO?
– The answer is: Shortly before. The other answer, as I thought it had been made abundantly clear, was that I was concerned about the impending visit of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. I have already said enough about the matters which concerned me. I have said that I had expressed some dissatisfaction. I have told of my concern about what was happening and about my necessity to be assured that everything which ought to be done was being done. If I wanted to capsulate the reason why I went, I would say it was because I was determined to do everything that I could to see that no harm came to either the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia and his party or other persons. I did my best to see to that. Frankly, I think it was necessary for me to ensure that proper precautions were instituted and that proper steps and procedures were set up ‘ to ensure that safety. If I had not taken the actions which I took over a period there is little doubt that the precautions would not have been as stringent as they were.
I had the responsibility for ensuring the safety of that visit. I have informed the Senate previously about the circumstances. I had a public responsibility. It was my duty and my responsibility to see that that man - a distinguished visitor - and his party were able to come here and to depart in safety. No-one else - not the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, not any other person - had that responsibility. It was my ministerial responsibility. I deplore the fact that the visitors had to come in the circumstances in which they did and that such security measures had to be provided in a country in which persons ought to have been able to move freely. I deplore the fact that, on the unanimous advice which was tendered to me, it was not safe for our Prime Minister to walk through the Port Kembla steelworks on the Wednesday of the visit. I tell the Senate that I consider that what I did was proper for me to do. I do not think that the Senate ought to need any further assurance on that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is it a fact that a number of Aboriginal girls who are employed in the Public Service at Canberra are to receive free travel from Canberra to their respective homes and return to enable them to spend Easter with their relatives? In addition, are the girls to be given leave on full pay for Tuesday, 24th April, Thursday, 26th April, and Friday, 27th April? If the answer is in the affirmative, can he tell me why white girls of equal or similar age and status are not to receive this concession?
– If concessions are granted to Aboriginal girls, I would not have expected a question asked by Senator Gair to contain some condemnation of that action. If a concession has been given on this occasion it will not equalise the adverse effects which Aborigines suffer as less privileged people of our society. However, I do not know whether they are to be given these concessions. I ask that the question be put on notice. A full reply will be obtained.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Following his last response to the question I asked, and accepting, as he said, his grave concern about the matters to which he referred, why did he, having that concern, seek to discharge the obligations of his office by going to the
Canberra office of the ASIO and seeing a subordinate instead of immediately contacting the head of the security service?
– I do not propose to engage in debate with the honourable senator. I will not allow a situation to develop where he asks me questions one after the other on this matter. If anyone is to be questioned, I think that the nation would like some questions answered by the former AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood. I think that the answer would be be that if he had performed his duty there might have been a much better state of affairs in Australia and Australia would have been a much safer place for persons to come to, with a lot less terror and violence than Australia has had over recent times.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour whether he is yet in a position to give the Senate any information on any moves contemplated by the Commonwealth Government to galvanise the States into action to introduce measures which will combat the rising incidence of disease associated with asbestos?
– I know that the Minister for Labour has asked for some information from his Department and also from the State industrial departments on this matter. I have not received this information yet. When I get it I will give it to the honourable senator.
– My question arises from the question asked by Senator Greenwood of Senator Murphy. As Senator Greenwood is prepared to go before a royal commission of 3 judges to have his conduct as Attorney-General investigated, will the Attorney-General do likewise?
– The decision on whether any royal commission will be held is a matter for the Government. I think that the decision on this proposal has been announced by the Prime Minister. It is not fitting for the Leader of the Opposition to make such suggestions as he has just made in that form.
– You made the suggestion that Senator Greenwood ought to be investigated.
– The Leader of the Opposition well knows what the governmental decision would be. I do not recall having said that Senator Greenwood ought to be investigated.
– Why not have the matter investigated?
– I am saying that if he were questioned by the public or if he had done what he ought to have done, Australia would be in a much better state than it is. Coming to the question of investigations, I think I was asked before about investigating persons and I have said that the matter of documents kept by Senator Greenwood, if he did keep them, was not a matter which I have caused to be investigated. On the question of investigations, which is a little away from what the honourable senator has put, I think it is a matter of sad commentary in this community if public figures are to be investigated in the general sense, especially if that investigation is not restricted to their public affairs. Endeavours made by persons to investigate and to dig into the private affairs of persons are something that ought not to be tolerated in this community.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government as the Minister representing the Prime Minister - and strangely it is not about the same matter. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a statement made by the Premier of Tasmania, Mr Reece, that the Lake Pedder inquiry was taking a line quite apart from the agreement between himself and Mr Whitlam? Is it a fact that there was a behind closed doors agreement between the Prime Minister and Mr Reece for the inquiry to take a line different from that dislosed in its terms of reference? Is the inquiry to be conducted in accordance with the terms of reference which were amended at Mr Reece’s request and by agreement between the Commonwealth and State Governments? If not, upon what lines is it to be conducted?
– I deprecate the use by the honourable senator of expressions such as behind closed doors’. The Prime Minister of this country and the Premier of Tasmania are entitled to conduct their affairs as they see fit, and I do not think the honourable senator should start using these expressions in relation to the conduct of affairs of State by them.
Insofar as the question merits any answer as to any substantial parts of it, I shall refer it to the Prime Minister to see whether he wishes to give an answer to the honourable senator.
– I think this will be the last question I shall be asking the Attorney-General about the matter I have been questioning him about. In view of his failure to tell me why in the discharge of his obligations he preferred to go to the office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra and not to approach directly the Director-General of ASIO, is his failure to answer due to his inability to provide what he regards as a satisfactory answer or is it a refusal to answer?
– The honourable senator is asking, whether it is a refusal to answer or some inability to supply an answer, but I do not think those two alternatives exhaust all the logical possibilities that might occur even to the honourable senator. The honourable senator and other honourable senators seem determined, despite their protestations, to want criticism from the Government of the police forces or of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The object seems to be to dig and to question and to drive matters round to some state of affairs where they will have the Government criticising the law enforcement or security bodies. What has happened has happened. I think it would be much better for the honourable senator and other honourable senators not to start to endeavour to injure persons or injure bodies more than has happened.
– Earlier this afternoon Senator Greenwood indicated that he would seek leave to make a personal explanation on the ground of misrepresentation. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I rise only because of certain statements made by Senator Poyser in the course of a question which he addressed to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and certain comments made by the Attorney-General in response. The position shortly is that I ‘produced from my possession and tabled in the Senate last Wednesday certain documents ‘ which had come to me while I was Attorney-General. 1 indicated subsequently to a Press conference that I had retained a number of documents which had come to me while I was AttorneyGeneral.
The documents I retained were copy documents of which the originals would be kept by the Department, of which I previously had been the head, or were letters which had been received by me, of which copies would be held by the Department. Specifically, I did not take files from the Department. I did not . . documents. I did not extract documents from the Department. I did not believe that there was any offence involved in a Minister retaining documents which had come to him, although I do say that the provisions of the Crimes Act relating to who has custody of documents is a confusing section which, in the light of various reports published overseas, requires reconsideration by the Government, and that had been commenced* late last year. I also say, in answer to Senator Murphy, that I was incorrectly reported. I had not indicated that I proposed to take any action to prosecute.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the text of the International Cocoa Agreement 1972, and I seek leave to make a statement relating to the Agreement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– 1 make this statement in my capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry. The Agreement that I have just presented was negotiated at a conference held in Geneva last year under the auspices of UNCTAD- the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Australia signed the Agreement on 12th January 1973 and the Government proposes to ratify it before the due date, 30th April 1973. This is the first international agreement on cocoa. It follows many years of difficult and protracted negotiations. The fact that agreement has now been reached is a tribute to UNCTAD and particularly its Secretary-General, Mr Perez Guerrero.
Cocoa is, of course, a very important commodity to a number of developing countries’, particularly ‘ African countries, and also to Papua New Guinea. The economic and political stability of many of these countries depends to a large extent on stable and predictable foreign exchange earnings from the sale of cocoa. World trade in cocoa has been marked by excessive price fluctuations, ranging over the last 20 years from a high of some US58c a pound to a low of about US17c a pound. It is in the interests of producers of cocoa and every other commodity of significance that there should be a rational, sensible means of controlling the way in which it is marketed. There is nothing to be said for a free-for-all in international trade; nothing - to be said for violent fluctuations which can entail considerable human cost in welfare terms and cut right across countries’ efforts to achieve greater certainty and predictability in their trade as a basis for sound production and marketing programs.
The primary objective of the Agreement is to secure adequate supplies of cocoa and to maintain stable prices, prices which will be remunerative to producers but which protect consumers against exploitation. The price range within’ which the Agreement aims to stabilise the market price of cocoa is US23c and US32c a pound. Provisions exist for the price range to be adjusted periodically by agreement between the exporters and importers. The mechanism by which the Agreement’s objective is to be achieved will be by way of regulating supplies on to the market by export quotas. In the course of the negotiations it was agreed that the quantity of cocoa coming on to the market must be strictly limited if better and more stable prices were to prevail. Export quotas will be adjusted in accordance with fluctuations within the agreed price range. In addition, there is provision for a buffer stock mechanism, financed by a levy of US1c a pound on cocoa first entering international trade. The basic- function of the buffer stock, which might consist of up to 250,000 tonnes of cocoa, is to support the price range and to moderate short term price fluctuations due to temporary changes in market conditions.
Governments participate in the Agreement either as exporting or importing members. The Agreement has been signed by 41 countries and the European Economic Community. The major cocoa exporting countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Brazil and
Cameroon. These 5 countries have all signed the Agreement and alone account for over 90 per cent of total world production of cocoa for export. Importing countries which have signed the Agreement, including the member states of the enlarged EEC, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Japan and Canada, account for almost 70 per cent of world imports of cocoa. Regrettably, the United States had yet to accept the Agreement. The Untied States is the world’s largest consumer of cocoa and it would be most desirable for it to be a member. I earnestly hope therefore that it will shortly join or at least lend its cooperation to the effective operation of the Agreement.
Papua New Guinea’s position as a producer and exporter of significant tonnages of cocoa has, of course, been a paramount consideration in Australia’s participation in the negotiation of this Agreement. Cocoa accounts for about 20 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s exports and it is its third most important export commodity. Papua New Guinea exported some 30,000 tonnes of raw cocoa in the 1971-72 cocoa year, which represented about 2 per cent of world exports. For its part. Australia imported some 15,000 tonnes of raw cocoa in 1971-72 and 8,000 tonnes of cocoa products. The future of the cocoa industry is of major importance to Papua New Guinea and, indeed, on the basis of the country’s overall development program, it could well become an increasingly important agricultural export commodity within the short space of a few years. Hence Papua New Guinea has a very real interest in obtaining stable and remunerative prices for its cocoa while at the same time having the opportunity to plan ahead its production program on a sound and predictable basis.
In this connection, it was possible to negotiate export control provisions which in effect mean that Papua New Guinea’s aspirations should be adequately accommodated within the Agreement, lt was determined that some 75 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s exports is of a type of cocoa which is exempted from export controls, while the remaining 25 per cent will not be subject to controls at present because of the small quantity involved. Following discussions with the Papua New Guinea Government and the Minister for External Territories, it has been agreed that, pending independence, Papua New Guinea will join with Australia in joint exporter membership of the Agreement. Following independence, the Papua New Guinea Government will need to consider the question of separate membership in the Agreement. The Papua New Guinea cocoa industry was represented and consulted at all stages of the negotiations and I would like to take this opportunity to thank publicly Mr Poe, the Minister for Trade and Industry, who led the Papua New Guinea representatives at the final Geneva conference. The Australian Government welcomes this new agreement on cocoa. We are satisfied that it provides an acceptable basis for Australia’s and Papua New Guinea’s participation and it represents a further important step towards international cooperation in stabilising world commodity markets.
– Pursuant to section 21 of the River Murray Waters Act 1915-1970 I present the report of the River Murray Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with the Commission’s financial statements and the report of the AuditorGeneral on those statements, statements of gaugings and diversions during the year, furnished on behalf of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
– I bring up the report of the Australian delegation to the 60th Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Rome from 21st to 29th September 1972, and move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
I wish to speak briefly to the motion. The leader of the delegation, Mr John Jess, who was at the time of the conference a member of the House of Representatives, is by force of circumstance and the will of the people unable to be in a position to present this report. I wish to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to Mr John Jess for the work he did as leader of the Australian delegation to Rome last year and for the other work he did for the Inter-Parliamentary Union. It was a trip which I think was extremely beneficial to the interests of the individual members of the delegation as well as Australia as a whole. I think most, if not all, of the members of the delegation will agree with me when I say that one of the most impressive speeches made during the conference was that made by the leader of the delegation and former member of the House of Representatives, Mr John Jess. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I present the following paper:
Law of Privacy: Report by Professor W. L. Morison.
I wish to make a short statement in regard to the paper. At its meeting in July 1972 the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General resolved that the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral should ask Professor W. L. Morison of the University of Sydney to make a report on the law of privacy in Australia. The terms of reference to be given to Professor Morison, as decided upon by the Standing Committee, were as follows:
To study and report upon to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General the question of the protection of the privacy of an individual, having regard to the increased means of collecting, storing, retrieving and disseminating information and in particular -
whether the existing law provides or is capable of providing sufficient protection;
the identification of matters in respect of which decisions as to principle may be necessary before legislative changes are formulated;
what, if any, matters should be the subject of further investigation; and
what legislative changes could be contemplated, and incidental matters.
Mr Maddison, the Minister of Justice for New South Wales, in accordance with that resolution of the Standing Committee formally requested Professor Morison to make a report in accordance with the resolution. Subsequently, it was arranged between the New South Wales Department of AttorneyGeneral and Justice and Professor Morison that the initial phase of the inquiry by Professor Morison should consist in a review of the relevant published literature, the information sent to Professor Morison on an unsolicited basis and the files in the possession of the Department. It was further arranged that Professor Morison should, at the completion of this initial phase, forward to the Minister of Justice a memorandum for the purpose of enabling him to consider what extension of the form of inquiry might be justified in the light of the circumstances then appearing. That memorandum has taken the form of a preliminary report by Professor Morison.
At its meeting in Sydney last week the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General decided that Professor Morison’s report should be given a wide circulation. To this end it was agreed that the report would be tabled in the Australian Parliament and in each of the State parliaments. I have now tabled Professor Morison’s report in accordance with that agreement. Unfortunately, additional copies of the report are not yet available. The New South Wales Government is making urgent arrangements for the printing of additional copies and, when these are available, I shall arrange for each senator and member of the House of Representatives to receive a copy.
– by leave - I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
The paper which Senator Murphy has just presented is a paper of great interest to all honourable senators. I think I should leave it at that at this stage. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Book Bounty Act 1969-1970.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to amend the Book Bounty Act 1969- 1970 to give legislative authority to administrative decisions announced by the previous Government. When the book bounty was introduced in June 1969, the then Government expected payments to total about $1.6m a year. During 1970-71 this amount was exceeded and in May 1971 it was decided to contain expenditure to an acceptable level by excluding certain publications from bounty eligibility. The change was publicly announced on 28th May 1971 and applied on and from 31st May 1971 except for those publications for which a firm order was held by printers prior to this date and all copy had been received. The Bill gives legislative authority to this administrative practice which has been in force since 31st May 1971. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
– I move:
That intervening business be postponed until after the consideration of Government business, notices of motion Nos 2, 1 and 3, and orders of the day Nos 9, 15 and 1 to 5.
This will mean that the Senate will proceed to consideration of sessional orders as to the days and times of meeting, the reestablishment of the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, the re-establishment of the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, the establishment of a joint select committee on prices, the re-establishment of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, and the consideration of the first 5 Bills on the notice paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to enable the Senate to consider the appointment of select committees and the consideration of messages from the House of Representatives requesting concurrence in the appointment of joint committees.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has been through the House of Representatives, and in the anticipation that it will not be debated today, I would ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the second reading speech.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? Ther being no objection, leave is granted. (The Speech read as follows) -
In the short time since this Government took office it has introduced legislation which Parliament has since passed reducing the age for voting and candidature to 18 years. A comprehensive review of the Electoral Act is underway and further legislation covering many other important proposals, including additional representation for the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory will be submitted to Parliament later this year. I hope these will be passed into law before the next Senate elections. On 31st March 1971 the Minister for the Interior introduced a Bill covering several amendments to the Electoral Act but it was never debated.
The result of the census on 30th June 1971 established that Western Australia is entitled to another seat in the House of Representatives, making a total of 10 seats. This matter was repeatedly brought to the notice of the Parliament by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who was then Leader of the Opposition, but. nothing was done by the previous Government. Nor was the general practice followed of having a redistribution of Federal electoral boundaries following a census. The Western Australian situation therefore makes a redistribution not only necessary but also urgent and, if the provisions of the Electoral Act relating to distributions are to be changed, appropriate legislation must be passed by Parliament. The proposals in this Bill are therefore introduced to allow the redistribution in Western Australia to proceed as quickly as possible as, generally speaking, the formalities take about 28 to 31 weeks. In accordance with the usual practice, following the taking of the census, it is proposed to proceed with a redistribution in all States to remove the malapportionment of electorates for the House of Representatives.
Mr President, this Bill will bring down legislation establishing equality of representation as the paramount objective of a redistribution of a State into electoral divisions. It is therefore proposed, firstly, to reduce the permissible variation from the quota specified in section 19 (1) from one-fifth to one-tenth, which is a reduction from 20 per cent to 10 per cent; secondly, to revise the factors in section 19 (2) to which the Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration by deleting the reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance, the density or sparsity of population of the division, and the area of the division; and, thirdly, to vary section 25 (2)(b) to provide that a redistribution may be directed whenever in onefourth of the divisions of a State the number of electors differs from the quota by onetenth - 10 per cent in lieu of 20 per cent.
Exact equality in the number of electors per division cannot be achieved, nor is it desirable. Some degree of variation from the quota or average must be allowed. At the same time, equality of political rights is inherent in a truly democratic State and these rights must be indisputably safeguarded by the legislature. To this end we intend to amend the law so that, as far as may be practicable, the value of the vote of one citizen shall be equivalent to the vote of another. The existinglaw allows Distribution Commissioners to depart from the quota of electors by 20 per cent either way and it is a simple mathematical fact that this margin, in application, allows a division to have up to 50 per cent more electors than another division in the same State.
In 1965 the Liberal-Country Party coalition amended section 19 and added certain factors to give a distinct weighting to country electorates. I refer particularly to such things as the area of the Division, the density and sparsity of population and the reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance. As a result of the insertion of these factors the Commissioners were obliged to depart from the quota of electors to a much greater extent than hitherto. Some examples of the departure from the quota, which ranged from 16.08 per cent above to 18.65 per cent below at the 1 968 Redistribution, are as follows:
Darling - 18.65 per cent below the quota.
Grayndler - 14.01 per cent above the quota.
Brisbane - 15.44 per cent above the quota.
Griffith - 16.08 percent above the quota.
Kennedy - 17.95 per cent below the quota.
Kalgoorlie - 18.65 per cent below the quota.
Swan - 15.76 per cent above the quota.
A law which permits such a variation is not good enough. If equality of representation means anything at all we must not tie the Commissioner’s hands to the area of divisions and the like.
The redistribution provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which, until 1965, had stood virtually unchanged since Federation were altered in such a way that the principle of substantial equality of representation between electoral divisions was almost eliminated. In general, the 1965 amendments diluted the value of the vote in metropolitan areas and weighted it in favour of the rural areas. Equality of voting power became a secondary consideration. The Labor Party strongly opposed the 1965 amendments. We never accepted them as a proper basis for redistribution, nor do we accept the proposition that the relative value of a person’s vote should depend upon his geographical location. The 1965 amendments transferred the emphasis from the quota to the factors.
It is proposed to revert largely to the factors which applied prior to 1965 and restore the emphasis to the quota by repealing the references to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance, the density or sparsity of population and the area of the division. The redistribution provisions are set out in Part III of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918- 1966. They are contained in sections 15 to 25 inclusive.
The factors which the Distribution Commissioners must consider in determining proposed divisions will be revised by deleting certain factors which the Liberal-Country Party coalition added in 1965 to weight the vote in favour of country electorates. The proposed amendment to section 25 (2)(b) is a natural flow-on from the reduction in the permissible variation from the quota.
One of the main objectives of a redistribution is to restore substantial equality of representation within a State where the population movement has caused imbalance in a significant number of divisions and this Bill is designed to achieve that objective. The changes proposed by this Bill will give some meaning to the principle of one vote one value without unnecessarily restricting the Distribution Commissioners in application of the factors when effecting re-distribution.
Why should the law permit one division to have 69,600 electors and another division only 46.400? This may well happen as the average number of electors per division is approximately 58,000.
The Australian Labor Party’s platform providing that in electorates ‘the number of people should be as nearly as practicable the same’ is not a new development. Section 24 of the Constitution requires the number of members in the several States to be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. The Constitution thus ensures equitable representation of the people in the House of Representatives, State by State. Applying similar constitutional provisions, the United States Supreme Court has, for the last 9 years and more, declared any form of malapportionment within a State to be unconstitutional. We should not accept regional discrimination for or against particular regions within States any more than the Constitution allows us to accept discrimination as between States. Honourable senators will know of very great variations in the numbers of people in different electorates. For example, Aborigines, migrants and electors with young children are not uniformly dispersed throughout the various regions.
Although the principle should be to base representation on numbers of people and not on numbers of electors there are practical problems in the way. Because everyone entitled to vote must enrol, precise details are always available of the number of electors in a particular area. On the other hand, the population of an area, other than a State as a whole, can only be known after a census has been taken. There must also be some delay between the taking of a census and the publication of the results. By way of illustration, I invite honourable senators to consider the position if a redistribution were to be held now on the basis of population. The only figures available would be those of the last census - in this case 30th June 1971, nearly 2 years out of date. It is not at present possible to obtain reliable estimates of population in particular areas. Electoral redistribution procedures, taking as their starting point the Statistician’s estimates of the numbers of people in particular areas, can perhaps be devised. The Government has this matter under close examination. The present Bill, however, does not include any proposal to change the basis of redistribution from numbers of electors to numbers of people.
When speaking to the 1965 amendments, the Right Honourable Sir John McEwen, as Leader of the Country Party, spoke in the House on this matter. He left no doubt that the intention was to load the country electorates against city electorates. This is what he said and I quote from his speech:
There is in this measure a provision which I say, unashamedly I hope will operate to bring out more tolerance towards the permitting of a smaller number of electors in the gigantic, remote and difficult electorates.
This is what the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review 1959 described as a form of gerrymandering. I quote from the report:
One form of gerrymandering is the creation of electoral divisions in which there are substantial disparities in the number of enrolled voters so securing for a political party greater representation than it should have. In all its forms, the device is thoroughly subversive of the democratic process. In making possible minority governments, the majority can be deprived of the government of its choice and the way is opened for arbitrary action impairing the freedom of the individual even though that action stands condemned by the majority of people who comprise the electors of the Commonwealth.
Thus the 1965 amendments were completely contrary to the 1959 views of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. At the 1968 redistribution the New South Wales division with the smallest number of electors - not population - was Darling with 42,955. The Division with the largest number was Grayndler with 60,205, a difference of 17.250 electors or 40.16 per cent more than Darling. Similarly, the Victorian division of Mallee had 45,218 electors and the division of Wills had 58,213- a difference of 12,995 electors or 28.74 per cent more. In Queensland, the division of Kennedy had 41,609 electors and the division of Griffith 58,868 - a difference of 17,259 electors or 41.48 per cent more.
A significant factor of the 1968 redistribution was the disparity between the electors enrolled and the population of the divisions concerned as revealed by the 1966 census. For instance, in New South Wales they varied between 45.15 per cent in the electorate of Werriwa and 65.48 per cent in Barton. There are some striking examples of electors and population disparities under the 1968 redistribution. The seat of Sydney had 59,967 and a population of 126,430 compared with 45,751 electors and a population of 79,730 in the division of Lyne. In other words, Sydney had 14,216 more electors and 46,700 more people. Similar examples of this disparity are available in every State. This is a clear indication of under-representation in city electorates.
The Labor Party is mindful of the difficulties of representation of electorates both city and country. We hold the largest electorate in Australia - Kalgoorlie - with an area of 897,815 square miles, and the electorate with the largest enrolment - the Australian Capital Territory - with an enrolment of 85,000 and a population of 162,000.
The. Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in its recommendations endeavoured to safeguard the people against gerrymanders either by lapse of time or distortion of population. The Committee, agreed on the principle of one vote one value and recommended that the quota should not vary more than onetenth either way. The Committee further proposed not merely an alteration to the Electoral Act but that the principle should be enshrined in the Constitution itself, that the permissible variation from the quota should be reduced to 10 per cent and this should be written into the Constitution. The, Parliamentary Labor Party and the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference iri 1961 decided to support the Committee’s recommendations. The Labor Party has consistently supported the, principle of equality of representation in the Parliament.
Every worthwhile authority supports the case for one vote one value, and equality of electorates. The Supreme Court of the United States and the Constitutional Review Committee are just two that come to mind. Chief Justice Warren in giving judgment of the Supreme Court of the. United States of America when it ruled that electoral districts shall be as nearly equal as practicable had this to say:
Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by, voters not farms or cities or economic interests. To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The weight of a citizen’s vote cannot Be made to depend on where he lives.
All men in our society are adjudged to be equal before the. law. Surely they should be equal in making the law. There can be no doubt whatever that a man is entitled to equal representation whether he lives in the city or the country. The city and the country are not 2 hostile domains. The people in each are all Australians. The vote of one person, whatever his occupation or location, should be as good as the vote of the other. These amendments provide an opportunity for this Parliament to assert the principle of equality in our democracy - to say whether people in the city are just as equal as the people in the country - not more, not less.
At the 1972 elections the Country Party polled 9.44 per cent of the votes, won 20 seats and has 16 per cent voting strength in the House of Representatives. This is a totally different story from the elections of 1954 when the Australian Labor Party polled 50.03 per cent against the combined LiberalCountry Party vote of 47.07 per cent yet was defeated. In 1961 the Labor Party polled 2,534,702 votes, or 46.76 per cent of the votes and in 1969 polled 2,870,792 or 46.95 per cent of the votes. In these cases it was defeated at the polls, although it had a clear majority over the combined totals of the present Opposition. Electorates must be equal and there can be no justification in the eyes of any fairminded person to load country electorates against city electorates. .
This Bill underlines the Government’s belief that a person’s vote is of equal value no matter where he lives or whatever his occupation. All men should be equal in making the law as before the law. Electoral laws should provide equality, not privilege. These are the basic principles of this legislation. It gives to those who sit in this Parliament the opportunity, to say whether, they believe in these democratic principles and the equal rights of all electors. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended. .
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is a machinery measure which is necessary to meet legal and constitutional requirements associated with the Government’s end-of-year financial transactions. Honourable senators will be aware that the Australian Government’s transactions are recorded in 3 separate funds - the Console dated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. Current estimates of the Government’s financial transactions indicate that expenditures in 1972-73 on items presently being charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund will exceed receipts of that fund. However, expenditures from the Consolidated Revenue Fund cannot be appropriated in excess of receipts of that Fund; a deficit, therefore, cannot be incurred.
The normal procedure followed in the past to cope with a situation in which there was a prospective deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund has been to charge some expenditures which would normally be met from that Fund to another fund. This Bill is designed to permit such a procedure. The Bill authorises that borrowings be made for defence purposes so that defence expenditures in the remaining months of the year can then be charged to the Loan Fund rather than the Consolidated Revenue Fund, thus utilising funds available in the Loan Fund and avoiding a deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Bill does not, I should stress, seek to authorise any additional expenditures; its purpose is simply to re-allocate part of expenditures on defence services specified in the relevant Appropriation Acts for 1972-73 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Loan Fund.
While it is clear that, on the basis of the 1972-73 Budget provisions and subsequent measures, Consolidated Revenue Fund expenditures will exceed Consolidated Revenue Fund receipts in 1972-73 by a significant margin, it is not possible at this stage to forecast precisely the likely Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit. Much will depend on the flow of tax payments, which is only now gathering momentum and therefore difficult to forecast with a high degree of accuracy. The Bill before the Senate would provide authority for borrowings up to $300m - a figure which is considered adequate to meet any deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund that can reasonably be foreseen at this time. Finally, I would emphasise again that the proposed Act is a machinery measure of a kind taken in past years when a similar situation has arisen. It does not authorise any increase in expenditures. Its essential purpose is to reallocate expenditures approved by Parliament between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESD3ENT (Senator Prowse) - I have received message No. 29 from the House of Representatives proposing the appointment of a joint select committee on the Australian Capital Territory. Copies of the message have been circulated to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That consideration of the message from the House of Representatives bs made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have received message No. 30 from the House of Representatives proposing the appointment of a joint select committee on the Northern Territory. Copies of the message have been circulated to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed tot
That consideration of the message from the House of Representatives be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I seek leave to amend Government Business, Notice of Motion No. 2, in the form that has been circulated.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
For the benefit oF honourable senators, I state briefly that the hours of meeting will be 3 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, the day on which the proceedings of the Senate are broadcast, and 11 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. on Thursday. I suppose this means we are back to where we were. I understand that generally the amended notice of motion has been accepted.
– The Opposition - I speak only for it- does not oppose the motion. But I seek to add a further clause to it. I spoke to Senator Murphy-
– Does the honourable senator have a copy of the clause?
– I do not have a spare copy. It is basically the motion moved by Senator Murphy in 1967. 1 move:
At end of motion add:
During any period when the Senate is adjourned, and notwithstanding any resolution of the Senate fixing a time for the next meeting of the Senate, the President, upon a request or requests by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators that the Senate meet at a certain time, shall fix a day and hour of meeting in accordance with such request or requests and such time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
For these purposes a request by the Leader of the Opposition shall be deemed to be a request by every member of the Opposition, and a request from the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate and/or a request from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party shall be deemed a request by every member of the respective Party.
Provided further that the request or requests may be made to the President by leaving or delivering the same to the Clerk of the Senate, who shall immediately notify, the President.
In the event of the President being unavailable, the Clerk shall without delay notify the Deputy Prest* dent, or, should he be unavailable, any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees, who shall be deemed to be required by the Senate to summon the Senate on behalf of the President, m accordance with the terms of this resolution.
The amendment is almost the same as a paragraph, with a slight contraction of wording, which was put to the Senate, I think in 1967. The purpose of the additional paragraph is to get over the difficulties which we had in last January, I think it was, when there was a desire by some senators to have the Senate recalled prior to a certain date. Mr President felt, I think quite rightly, that he did not have the power under the constitutional practice and that he certainly did not have power vested in him by the Senate. It is to overcome that problem, perhaps in anticipation of events which have yet to come, that I move the amendment.
– I wish to speak to the amendment. The saying is that your chickens come home to roost. I suppose the amendment could be described as an example of that saying. I do not object to it in general. I want to make a comment about one aspect of it in a moment. I do not object to the amendment because I think it is proper that if an absolute majority of a body such as the Senate wishes to resume it should be able to do so. That is the view which the Government, when in Opposition, took. I think I drafted the paragraph on which the amendment is based substantially. May I say one thing about it? It is a very important matter. At the time when I drafted it, one objection was raised. It was a serious objection. It has since been advanced to a further degree. The objection was that one person, the leader of a Party, could purport to bind all members of the Party. That objection was raised in this chamber and outside.
In the past few weeks there has been a shift in relation to the matter. We were asked not to allow the leader of a Party to appoint persons to a committee. Rather the leader nominates a person, but the Senate makes the appointment. In other words, there was a disposition to the view that leaders ought not to be regarded in some way as having some proprietary right over others.
– Do you think - if I am to follow you - that the request should be the sum of individual requisitions?
– ‘Precisely, otherwise it could well mean that some senator might be objecting to the request. He might not want it. It might not represent the will of senators. It is a very serious matter to call the Senate together. I suggest that the following words be deleted:
For these purposes a request by the Leader of the Opposition shall be deemed to be a request by every member of the Opposition, and a request from the Leader of the Australian Country Party and/or a request from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party shall be deemed a request by every member of the respective party.
I do not object to the amendment if that paragraph is deleted. That is consistent with the development which, as I understand the position, the Opposition insisted upon in relation to the appointments to committees. I accepted that members of committees should be nominated by leaders and should be appointed by the Senate. If the paragraph were deleted I think that there would virtually be general concurrence. That would be very important. Otherwise I think there should be some consideration of the amendment. Other honourable senators may wish to express their views on the matter. I think the matter would be dealt with more democratically if the paragraph were deleted. As I have said, we have acceded to the viewpoint that there should be nominations rather than appointments and that the rights of individual senator’s should be preserved. That is my suggestion on the amendment. If that part were withdrawn from the amendment I would have no objection to what remains. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that part, by leave, or somebody could move an amendment to change it in that way. I would prefer him simply to withdraw that portion of the amendment.
– We are discussing a motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), which deals with the sitting times of the Senate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has moved an amendment to that motion. I say first of all, to the Leader of the Government that this amendment is poetic justice. I brought into the Senate today some copies of the Hansard reports containing what had been said by the Leader of the Government when he was Leader of the Opposition in regard to the sitting times of the Senate. I am very glad that the Leader of the Government has seen fit to change his motion as originally framed to read as it now does. Members of the Country Party, in particular, face the difficulty of travelling long distances to attend sittings of the Senate. Many honourable senators do. One proposal suggested that on Tuesdays honourable senators would do very little work. It was suggested also that the Senate should not sit on Thursday nights. I am very glad that the Leader of the Government is examining this question and accepts the concept contained in Senator Withers’ amendment.
I believe that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition must stand. I have had an unfortunate experience as Leader of the Country Party in the Senate of what can happen when the recall of the Senate is proposed. I read in the Press a proposal that the Senate be recalled. That was as far as the matter went. No-one informed me officially that it was suggested that the Senate be recalled. That is what happened in the first instant. Next, I received a letter from the President which said that he would not recall the Senate because the leaders of certain parties had not written to him asking him that this should be done. On each occasion when I have seen reports in the Press of a proposal that the Senate is to be recalled, I have sought out members of my Party and asked them their views on that proposal. Any decision that I may make as Leader of my Party will be made with the confidence that honourable senators who sit behind me will support me in the view that I put forward. I see no reason why I should not support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– by leave - I have moved a motion to deal with the sitting times of the Senate. I amended my original motion of which I gave notice because in a general discussion on the proposal my original motion was not acceptable. It is one thing to deal with the times of sitting, and it is another matter to deal with the second part of the amendment in relation to which there may be some difference of opinion. I have had no chance to consult members of my Party on this question. As I have said, I think that an absolute majority should have the power to seek the recall of the Senate. May I suggest that really in deference to ourselves whatever we are to do we should separate the 2 elements of the motion. We are agreed on the question of times. The other matter raises a really different question. Whatever the view of the Senate is on it, the will of the Senate will be carried. May I suggest that it would be better to separate the 2 elements of the amendment and perhaps to stand the second matter over. If there is not to be concurrence with the proposal that I made, it may be that my Party might decide that it will have to oppose what has been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. In fairness, we should be able to have a chance to consider as a separate matter the important proposal that has been put by the Leader of the Opposition. May I with respect ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the amendment and to let us deal with it by way of a notice of motion. I will agree with the re-consideration of the matter being given priority. Let us deal with the 2 elements separately. There is no immediate urgency. This would be more consistent with orderly procedure in the Senate and it would be fair. All honourable senators would be able to give proper consideration to it and they would be able to consult their colleagues.
Senator WITHERS (Western Australia - Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - I do not mind attempting to do my best to co-operate with the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy). I know that I can do this by giving notice of motion tomorrow. Perhaps I may have leave to give notice of motion today so that it may be brought on tomorrow. Perhaps that might be the easiest way. We will be going home on Thursday and will disappear from this place for a fortnight. I certainly want the matter resolved - and not at the expense of general business on Thursday night.
– I agree to you giving immediate notice of motion now.
– If we can dispose of paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) I will seek leave to give notice today that on the next day of sitting I will move in accordance with what I said earlier. That is on the understanding that Senator Murphy has advised that this matter will be resolved before we go home on Thursday.
– I cannot speak for Senator Drake-Brockman or Senator Gair.
– I concur in the suggested arrangement.
– I suppose that to do it properly I have to ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
– Yes. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– Before the motion is put I would like to make an explanation to the Senate. The suggestion in the motion is that on Tuesdays we meet from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. and that on Wednesdays we sit until 11 p.m. I think the suggestion for Thursdays is that we sit until 5.45. Some thought has to be given to (he numerous committees that have been set up. The business of the Senate involves very important committee work besides the general routine of Senate business. In addition, the parties have numerous sub-committees to which they refer Bills and they expect reports back to their party meetings. We have to consider carefully the division of the time available while we are in Canberra.
Senator Drake-Brockman said that he did not want to have to travel a long distance to come here on Tuesdays and then do very little. The idea behind the new hours was that Tuesday nights could be devoted to meetings of Senate committees. There are not very many honourable senators who are not now involved in committee work. We either have to hold committee meetings during the sittings of the Senate or times have to be found for them when the Senate is not sitting. This matter should be given some consideration before we get too deeply involved in the future. Now that we have reverted to the old hours we will have to make other arrangements in order to give some time to committee meetings.
I hope that the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) and the leaders of the Opposition parties will get together and examine this problem of how we are to sort out the virtual impasse that has been reached. The importance of committee work is growing but the hours of sitting of the Senate have been kept at the previous level. We sit all day Tuesday and on Tuesday night. We have our party meetings on Wednesday morning and we sit in the afternoon and at night until 11 p.m. We sit right through Thursday until 10.30 p.m.
– We do not sit all day Tuesday. We sit from 3 p.m. on that day.
– Yes, I stand corrected. However we will have to give some consideration to sitting on Fridays or on Mondays.
– What are the Whips doing about it?
– The Whips actually were responsible for the motion before the Senate to devote Tuesday night and Thursday night to committee work. However it worked out that the Government was handing time over on a platter to the Opposition, which could use the time to get stuck into the Government. We therefore are very pleased to revert to the old hours. I can assure the honourable senator of that. However, I want to draw the attention of the Senate to the importance of committee work. I point out the growing number of committee meetings and the time factor involved. Somehow or other we will have to sit either on Mondays or Fridays or on Mondays and Fridays in order to get through the business of the Senate and of the committees.
– Mr President
– Are you concluding the debate.
– Yes, if no-one else wishes to speak. A lot of careful thought was given to the first proposal and I think it would have been in the interests of the Senate. Now we are reverting to where we were. My view is that this is not satisfactory but it is apparent that most honourable senators want to continue with the old times. However those old times were worked out in a context which did not involve the committee system. We did not have it then. I think we will find that these times are not satisfactory. I suggest to all honourable senators that we should not approach this as an inter-party matter but one which concerns the working of the Senate as a whole. It would be wise for us to give some consideration to how we can best conduct our business here with due regard to the health of honourable senators as well as the efficiency of the operation of the committees and the Senate. I know that the times we are proposing meet the wishes of most honourable senators but frankly I do not think that they are in the interests of the Senate. We ought to have a continuing look at these matters but let us do so dispassionately. I feel certain that there will need to be a revision of these times.
– Honourable senators have indicated a certain area of agreement in the Senate. The question is that Senator Murphy’s motion - that is notice of motion No. 2 standing in his name - as amended by him by leave, be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
During any period when the Senate is adjourned, and notwithstanding any resolution of the Senate fixing a time for the next meeting of the Senate, the President upon a request or requests by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators that the Senate meet at a certain time, shall fix a day and hour of meeting .in accordance with such request or requests and such time of meeting shall be notified to each Senator by telegram or letter. For these purposes a request by the Leader of the Opposition shall be deemed to be a request by every member of the Opposition, and a request from the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate and/or a request from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party shall be deemed a request by every member of the respective Party.
Provided further that the request or requests may be made to the President by leaving or delivering the same to the Clerk of the Senate, who shall immediately notify the President.
In the event of the President being unavailable, the Clerk shall without delay notify the Deputy President, or should he be unavailable, any one of the Temporary Chairman of Committees, who shall be deemed to be required by the Senate to summon the Senate on behalf of the President, in accordance with the terms of this resolution.’
– I seek leave to amend notice of motion No. 1. The amended motion has been circulated. I think that Senator Rae has some suggestion to make and it seems to me to be reasonable. I ask leave, firstly, to amend the motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Substantially this motion seeks to reconstitute the previous Committee. I understand that there is some suggestion that one of its members may not wish to continue but he can take action in that regard. The simplest and cleanest way of dealing with the matter seemed to be to reconstitute this Committee and let it bring in its report. I understand that it is getting very close to doing so. I will not open up that vexed subject. But we would hope that the Committee will be able to conclude its task without the passage of very much time. I do not want to go into the matter of time. We would hope that the report will be presented fairly soon, and substan tially that is what the proposal seeks to do. Normally the Government would want to have a majority of members on the Committee and would want to have one of its members as the Chairman but as the Committee is so close to the end of its task, we thought that it was a reasonable course to re-establish the Committee along the lines which I have suggested.
Senator WITHERS (Western Australia)Leader of the Opposition) (5.26) - The Opposition does not object to the motion moved by Senator Murphy, subject to an amendment to paragraph (10). I understand that Senator Rae has spoken to Senator Murphy about the amendment which Senator Rae will move forthwith.
– I can amend the motion or accept the amendment.
– I think that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson wants to say something about the motion.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.27) - I want to speak very briefly about the motion. In fairness to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers), there is an element in this question now of which I was not aware when we discussed it in our own conclave. Paragraph (2) of the motion states that the new Committee shall consist of certain senators, including a Minister of State. I boggle at the fact that a Minister of State is to be a member of this Committee. A Minister of State cannot very well join in recommendations from the Committee which might express policy.
– I am not following you.
– If you are not following me -
– No, I do not have the amendment in front of me.
– I did not have the document.
– It has nothing to do with the document which Senator Byrne has. It refers to the document which has been circulated. As I think it was a little difficult for me to talk over the interruption, can I start again?
– -Order! An amended motion for the appointment of the Select
Committee on Securities and Exchange has been circulated to all honourable senators. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson now is referring to that document.
– I am referring to paragraph (2) of the amended motion which, for Senator Byrne’s edification, states:
That the Committee shall consist of Senators Durack, Georges, Lawrie, Little, Rae, Sim, Wheeldon and Wriedt.
This matter has arisen since we discussed the question in our party room earlier today. The Leader of the Opposition already has indicated our concurrence in the generality of the amended motion. But I have some difficulty in my mind because of the fact that on this Committee the Government will have only 3 members, one of whom is a Minister of State. It seems to me an extraordinary situation that a Minister should put himself in this embarrassing position. Once the Committee makes to the Senate a recommendation which has the imprimatur of a Minister of State it will create an embarrassing situation with which he could not live. That is one thing a Minister of State cannot do. He has collective responsibilities within his own Ministry and he could not be a party to a recommendation of the Committee. Therefore, I think that Senator Wriedt should be replaced on the Committee by an honourable senator from the Government side.
– If I may interrupt, there are some words of wisdom in what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has said. But I think that the Senate would like to see this Committee get started. We can take account of what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has said, explore the implications of it and deal with it. But I would hate to see it delay the establishment of this Committee today, even though I recognise the point raised by the honourable senator.
– The Australian Country Party supports the amended motion. I believe that if we want this Committee to get going, we will have to support the amended motion. I take note of what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has said, but I think that the problem could be overcome by Senator Wriedt resigning and another senator being appointed to take his place. Senator Wriedt is overseas at the present time, but I am sure that we can overcome the problem. When 1 looked at the notice of motion I saw that the Committee was to consist of certain senators from the Government side, certain senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) and one senator to be nominated by the Australian Democratic Labor Party and that there was to be no representative from the Australian Country Party, and this concerned me.
– There is on this one.
– Yes, I know, but I want to make my speech. As 1 say, there was to be no representative from the Country Party. I recognise that we are appointing the same Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange which operated previously, that Senator Lawrie represented the Country Party on that Committee and, from what I hear, he was a very staunch member of it. During the course of my remarks on this amended motion I want to make the point that we in the Country Party play a part in the Senate. I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) is to offer me a position on another committee which we will discuss later. But where possible I should like my Party to be given representation on these important committees of the Senate.
I will digress a little and reply to Senator O’Byrne who, a short time ago, said that I had remarked that Tuesday evening would be wasted if we accepted the suggested sitting times which we discussed previously. I made that remark because if honourable senators look at the number of committees of the Senate on which the Country Party is represented they will see that we are not represented on as many committees as perhaps we would like. At the beginning of the year I, together with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), saw what the Government was offering us- and wc agreed between ourselves to take the positions on the various committees which we were allocated. But since that time further committees have been established, and I refer particularly to the Joint Committee on Prices, in respect of which we will be moving an amendment, and the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory on which probably we will be seeking a position. So I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to consider what I have said when he is appointing committees.
There is a rumour that Senator Lawrie wants to go off the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. That is not so. When we were not offered a position on the Committee, Senator Lawrie said: ‘I have been on the Committee for a long time. It is nearly in the position of making a report. The report will be before the Senate very shortly. We will not make a fuss about the short time that we could be off the Committee’. Now the Government has decided to reappoint the previous Committee and Senator Lawrie will be a member of the new Committee. He hopes to carry through to a finish the work that he did on the previous Committee.
– As was mentioned by Senator Murphy, I wish to suggest to him - he may like to incorporate it - an amendment relating to paragraph (10) of his motion which presently reads:
Thai the Committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange appointed during the previous Parliament.
I suggest that the paragraph should read:
That the Committee have power to consider and use the motions, transcripts of evidence and all other records, including draft reports, advisory papers, correspondence and other documents of the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange appointed during the previous Parliament.
That will make the motion accord with the form which was used by the Senate on J 4th March of this year when the legislative and general purpose standing committees were reappointed.
– I should like to intervene at this stage and say that I would be grateful if that amendment were signed and produced to the Clerks at the Table. Amendments are floating around the place and unless cognisance is given to the Standing Orders of the Senate, the Table Clerks, whose job it is to put these matters into a modular form that is understandable to honourable senators, will not be able to do so.
– For the record, I point out that I have just handed a copy of the amendment to the Clerk.
– I am pleased to accept the suggestion which was made by Senator Rae. Paragraph (10) will read:
In order to meet the suggestion made by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson it might be appropriate if we incorporate in clause (2) the words which have been suggested by the Leader Opposition (Senator Withers). Paragraph (2) will then read:
I seek leave to amend my motion accordingly.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In conclusion I ask honourable senators to agree to the regeneration of this Committee.
– The question is that the amended motion, as amended, be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– We are now considering the reconstitution of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. As I understand the situation the proposed motion sets out the terms which applied on previous occasions except in relation to the number of members. Also the members are to be nominated rather than appointed. I understand there is a suggestion from the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Senator Drake- Brockman) that his Party should have a member on the Committee.
-Brock,nan - We had one member.
– Yes, I think that is a reasonable suggestion. Although I have not had a chance to discuss this with my colleagues. I think it is something to which we should be willing to agree.
– What would be the effect of that proposal? Would it increase the number on the Committee by one?
– It would mean an increase of 2 members. If we are going to maintain the principle - which we should - that the Government should have an effective majority we need to alter the number to be nominated by the Leader of the Government to 4 instead of 3.
– That was not maintained in the previous resolution.
- Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has referred to the previous matter, but that was a special case. We understand that the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange is drafting its report and, in effect, is about to present that report. That is why we took that as a special case. But in relation to the Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control I think it is reasonable to accept the request of the Leader of the Austraiian Country Party. Clause (2) will then read:
That the Committee consist of the following senators:
Does that meet the wish of the honourable senator?
– Does the honourable senator propose to move an amendment in relation to paragraph (10) similar to that moved in the case of the Committee on Securities and Exchange?
– Yes. Clause (10) will read:
Is that clear to all honourable senators?
– Is the quorum being left at 3?
– Yes, I suggest a quorum of 3. I think that is reasonable. The committees have always worked well together. There has been no real problem. Sometimes because of the late arrival of aircraft or other difficulties there is a problem to obtain a quorum. I think it is probably wise to have a relatively low quorum for sheer convenience. If we strike any problem over this we can meet the problem. I understand that there has never been any occasion when a small number has tried to do something which would be inconsistent with the proper standard of behaviour which exists as between members of the Committee and what is expected of them by the Senate. I suggest that the number to form a quorum be left at 3.
– Has the honourable senator considered the question of the personnel on a sub-committee, apart from a quorum?
– Yes. Paragraph (5) provides:
The quorum of a sub-committee shall be 2 senators.
The Committee has power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members.
– Does the honourable senator think it should be 4 or more Which is 50 per cent?
– I think it is reasonable to leave the discretion with the Committee. It is permitted to go down to 3. I think this is reasonable. In many ways we are still experimenting with the operation of the committee system. This gives a larger measure of discretion to the Committee. It may be that the Committee wants a sub-committee to travel a very long distance. In the public interest it may feel that because of the question of finance it should not have a larger subcommittee. I seek leave to amend my motion in the manner I have indicated.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon foreign ownership and control of Australian commerce, industries, land ami resources and, in particular, to report upon-
That the Committee consist of the following senators:
– I indicate that the Opposition has no objection to this motion now that it is proposed to amend paragraph (2). In relation to the quorum, I take the simple point that as the quorum of the whole Senate is one-third of the total number of honourable senators and as 3 honourable senators constitute more than onethird of the total number of 8 members of this Committee, a reasonable quorum is 3. As to the size of a sub-committee, when I had the honour and distinction of chairing this Committee last year Senator Guilfoyle and I formed a sub-committee. We achieved an enormous amount of business. Whether that was due to the presence of us 2 or the absence of the other 4 I would not like to say. We found that this worked very sensibly. I find myself in agreement with what Senator Murphy has said.
– On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party I indicate that we approve of the motion in its amended form. I speak because I was the one who had the pleasure of writing down the original constitution of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. 1 am delighted to see that it is being reconstituted. I hope that it will continue to bring in fruitful reports in its very important area of investigation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 3 April (vide page 791), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate concurs with the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 22 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to prices.
That the provisions of the resolution so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Upon which Senator Cotton had moved by way of amendment to paragraph 1 of the message which reads:
That a joint committee be appointed to inquire into and, as appropriate, report on -
complaints arising from prices charged by private industry;
movements in prices of goods and services in particular fields or sections of private industry, for example, as measured by price indices; and
such other matters relating to prices as may be referred to the committee by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
At end of paragraph (1) add ‘subject to the following modifications -
paragraph (.1), sub-paragraph (a), after the words “private industry” add “and by the public sector”; and
paragraph (1), sub-paragraph (b), after the words “private industry” add “and the public sector” ‘.
– When the debate on the proposal for the establishment of a joint select committee on prices was interrupted last Tuesday I was saying that included among the membership of the committee were to be 3 members of the Senate, 2 of whom were to come from the Government side of the chamber and one from the Opposition. As there are 3 parties on the Opposition side of the chamber in the Senate it is quite obvious that all Opposition parties would not be represented on such a committee. Because an inquiry into prices would involve an investigation of areas of interest to the Australian Country Party, I believe that the membership of the proposed committee should include a representative from this chamber of the Country Party. Therefore I move the following amendment to the amendment moved by Senator Cotton:
At end of proposed amendment add the following modification -
At end of paragraph (2) add - “and one Senator nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate” ‘.
If that amendment were carried it would enable one of the 5 members of the Country Party in the Senate to be a member of the proposed committee. As I have said before, the proposed committee is to inquire into a very important matter. It would be quite obvious from an examination of most of the commodities that would be looked at by such a committee that the producers of our primary products could be vitally affected by the results of its investigations. Imaginewhat could happen if, for instance, the Government were to decide that the price of meat in Australia is too high. Our producers are operating on world markets and are selling at world market prices. They have been building up their markets overseas. There is now a shortage of meat on the world market. Our producers want to supply meat to their markets. It is necessary to ensure a continuity of supply to those markets to which we now sell meat in order to retain outlets for any surplus meat or beef that we produce in the future. The people who will suffer most from any idea of placing an embargo or restriction on the export of meat products from Australia in order to drop the price of meat in this country are the producers. I believe that the Country Party must be vigilant to ensure that the primary producers of this country are allowed to continue to supply their markets overseas and that restrictions are not imposed on them. I support the amendment moved by Senator Cotton on behalf of the Opposition. I hope that the addendum I have moved on behalf of the Country Party will receive the support of the Senate.
– I am wondering what it is hoped to achieve by the establishment of a joint select committee on prices. I suppose, with all modesty, I can claim to have had more experience of price control than any other honourable senator in this chamber. Following the conclusion of the Second World War the Chifley Government asked the people of Australia by way of a referendum to entrust it with the power of price control. The people rejected that proposal. The responsibility for price control reverted to the States. It was my lot, as Minister for Labour in the Queensland Government, to undertake some form of price control. I can assure honourable senators that I made a conscientious attempt to control prices, particularly the prices of items which I believed could be classified as being essential to the daily lives of people.
Soon after the States took responsibility for price control the Ministers from the various States who were responsible for price control met and consulted Mr McCarthy, who was later knighted, on his methods of price control and his formula in respect of price control. It was quite evident to me that federal control of prices failed because the Commonwealth Government undertook to control every item that one could think of, which was utterly impossible. It was controlling the prices of luxury footwear from Italy and expensive hats imported for the women of Australia. It had control over all items that one could think of. The Commonwealth Government failed to control prices because it undertook to do too much. I set about decontrolling those items in relation to which I considered there was ample competition in the community that would control their prices. To a great extent that is the right thing to do, except in those cases where the combines and the cartels determine the prices to be charged. There is not a lot one can do about that.
I endeavoured to control the price of petrol and was courageous enough to take on the combines. Every other Minister in charge of price control in Australia, with the exception of Queensland, accepted the claims or approved the claims of the oil companies without requiring any documented proof of landed costs or anything else. We arranged for the petrol to be brought into Queensland, and we were in the process of building storage for that petrol, having failed to lease it, because the only people from whom we could leave it were the oil companies. Of course, it was not likely that they would aid us in that connection. But what thanks did I get? When I was expelled from the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party, one of the charges levelled against me was that I brought disrepute on the Government of the State in fighting the oil companies on prices. Did honourable senators ever hear the like? Yet I had in my possession a telegram sent from thelate Dr Evatt expressing the congratulations of the Federal parliamentary Caucus.
The same situation applied in relation to very many commodities. In New South Wales, the adjoining State, a Labor government was in power. Mr Frank Finnan, the Minister-in-Charge of Price Control, was decontrolling prices in New South Wales when we in Queensland were trying to control them. Because of section 92 of the Constitution which provides for free trade, the commodities whose prices I was endeavouring to control in the interests of the public went over the border and were being sold at any price in New South Wales because the Labor Government in that State was not prepared to make a genuine attempt to control prices. That has been my experience with price control.
For the life of me I cannot see - nor could I have any hope - that the committee that is proposed to deal with this most important question can succeed in effecting any remedy or in arresting to any great measure the inflationary trendthat is taking place today, particularly inrelation to essential commodities. First of all,the people of Australia denied the Commonwealth Government power to control prices. It is up to the Commonwealth to control prices, particularly in relation to essential items; it cannot hope for anything to be done by the States, because the States are not in a position to do anything. I gave honourable senators the example that when I was attempting to do something the adjoining State was decontrolling the price of commodities and the result was that those commodities went over the border. The public of Queensland were complaining that they could not get the goods they wanted. These goods could be sold in the New South Wales market at any price. We can rule out, as far as I am concerned, the idea that the States are able to control prices. The 6 individual States cannot control prices successfully and effectively because of the system under which we live today and because of our constitutional rights in connection with trade.
What is the position? Let us look at the balance sheets that are published in the newspapers. Let us look at the profits of Myer Emporium and the profits of David Jones Ltd and the profits of many of these companies and we will see - a man with one eye could see - that the margin between the wholesale price and the retail price is far too high. The public is being bled.
– Some do contribute to political parties.
– No doubt. I would like to see some of it, not for me personally but for my Party. I have too much as it is. I got it from the oil companies.
– They contributed to Jack Duggan, not to you.
– Yes. Well, he had to put some into the tax office too, did he not? What I have outlined has been my experience in relation to price control, and I thought I would give the Senate the benefit of that experience with these few words. No-one tried harder than I did to give the public a go. lt is utterly impossible for the States to do anything about controlling prices. Unless the Commonwealth assumed the power or was given the power to control prices, I do not think any joint committee that we set up would be in the race of doing so. What power does the Commonwealth have to force these big retail companies to reduce their margins, if it is believed that their margins, which can vary so much, are too high? Some months ago 1 bought a hat.
– What for?
– To put on my head, of course. What does the honourable senator wear his for? It would not be to keep in his brains. I bought a hat to which someone in a football club or some other club took a liking and took it from me, in spite of the fact that 1 had my name in it. 1 suppose that person prizes that hat now because he can say: ‘I have got Gair’s hat’. I replaced it with an identical hat which cost $1 more in one shop than I paid for the original hat in another shop. What is the explanation for that?
– Higher rent.
– I do not think either of those shops would be paying rent. We see many of these anomalies. The manufacturers of clothing in Queensland used to complain bitterly about price control when we were in charge because we tried to be effective. But when the Government was destroyed by the Queensland Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party and price control was thrown overboard, the manufacturers used to say to me in the street: ‘I wish you were back in power and that you had some measure of price control. We are not in the race in trying to compete with southern manufacturers, and we just cannot go along. We were doing better with some measure of price control and a reasonable margin, but, of course, the southerners have their own stores in all the cities and they determine what margin is to be placed on the goods in the retail stores’.
Personally I think that this measure is a bit of window dressing. I cannot believe that those who are responsible for it are serious. I cannot believe that they genuinely hope to achieve anything. I cannot believe that they expect me and other honourable senators to accept this proposition enthusiastically because, as thinking people, we know that without complete power as the centre of government we are not in the race in controlling prices. In any case, if we did have the power, in the light of my experience, I would counsel the Government not to make the mistake that was made during the war years of endeavouring to control the price of luxury goods. Of what concern would it be to me or to other honourable senators if a wealthy lady walked into a store and paid an exhorbitant price for a pair of fashion shoes which were hand made and imported from Italy or some other country which manufacturers stylish shoes? What concern would it be of mine or other honourable senators if some extravagant woman went into a hat shop and paid a big price for a hat?
I tried to control the price of clothing for men, women and children. I tried to control the price of men’s working clothes and working boots, school children’s clothing and foodstuffs. But I was involved in a national crisis when I tried to control the price of butter. We refused to increase the price of butter, and because we did so we had a confrontation with the Butter Equalisation Board or some other federal set-up which claimed that it, not the Prices Commission, had the right to determine the price of butter. But let me come now to attempts to control the price of petrol. A certain officer in South Australia is supposed to determine the price of petrol. He must have agreed to and approved without documentation an increase in the price of petrol because there is no way in the world that he could have seen any documents. The oil companies could not produce landed costs of petrol brought into Australia, nor could they show any other evidence of a warrant for an increased price. The result was that the companies threatened to withhold standard grade petrol from Queensland. I had no difficulty getting supplies from another centre. I had the tankers all set up and, I repeat, the only thing that I did not have was accommodation - and one cannot hold a tanker at a wharf for any length of time without incurring great expense.
The oil companies then got to work and saw to it that I was not going to interfere with their holiday any longer. They saw to it that the split came in the Labor Party - and I was turned out, turfed out. I will produce the list of charges that were levelled against me. I also seriously offended the Labor Party in that I dared to legislate for the appointment of an appeal board at a university, and I was charged with destroying the academic freedom of the university - yet nobody could tell me what academic freedom meant. I told a leading member of the Party that I would give the Party £20 if he could spell academic - and I think I would have won that bet.
– Was it Jack Egerton?
– No. Price control is not the only way of (fighting inflation. If this Government thinks it is going to confuse the people of Australia by this measure and convey to them that it is trying to correct inflation by setting up a joint parliamentary committee to deal with prices when it has no earthly power to do anything in connection with the control of prices, it is wrong. The committee could make investigations, it might take evidence - but having got it, can it say to Kenneth Myer: ‘We think your margins are too high, cut them down’? Of course, it cannot say that to him or to Lloyd Jones or anyone else. Let us be fair dinkum. Do not hoodwink the people. If the Government thinks it can convince them that it is in this way wrestling with inflation in a competent and efficient manner, it is making a mistake. The people want something more tangible, real and effective, and something that would give better results than this proposed committee could ever hope to achieve. In my policy speech at the last election I said - and I say it again - that the greatest problem which this Government or any other government could have at present is racing inflation. It is eroding the value of the dollar. I feel that the benefits under the legislation providing for increased social services payments, which I commend and applaud, have already been eroded by half, because every day that one picks up a newspaper one reads that another 100 grocery items have increased by lc or 2c each. And so it goes on. Do not tell me that rents and accommodation charges have not increased. They have, of course.
When Government senators were in opposition, they complained about inflation under the previous Government, and in fact it had increased by a few points over the years. It ha? increased at a faster rate than that since the December election and I feel that what the people want from this Government is positive action to correct this racing inflation. Something must be done. What is the position? I know what it is in Queensland - and it would be the same in other States. People who have surplus money today are putting it into real estate. They are not putting it into the banks. They realise that if they put it into the banks it will depreciate below its real value or below its value at the present time. If they put it into real estate then at least their asset is there and will continue to be there and probably will be worth more when they want to resell it.
– There was a land boom and bust once, senator.
– ls that not a warning and ought it not be a warning to a government? It is all right to go along in a flamboyant way and to do these things with great gusto and demonstration and allow the things that matter most to go unnoticed or unattended. 1 would be the first to support this measure if I thought it could be of some value. But this is valueless. If I were permitted to use a favourite expression of mine - and some honourable senators have heard it - that is just the value of it. It is neither use nor ornament. The Committee will sit, it will waste a lot of time, it will hear a lot of evidence - and having got that evidence, what is it going to do? Let someone tell me what the Government proposes to do.
– It cannot do anything, it has no power.
– It has no power to do it. The States are powerless in this regard too. When the 6 States were trying to control prices, each had a different attitude. I recall that at one of our initial meetings in Melbourne this man McCarthy was there giving us some idea of administration of prices. Sir Thomas Playford was there representing South Australia and we were going through a tremendously long list of goods and items. As we came to one item, I would say: ‘I move decontrol of that; that commodity is being made in every State of the Commonwealth and there is ample and adequate competition to ensure effective control’. One group of items that we did decontrol was condiments: black sauces, tomato sauces and that sort of thing.
– Race horses?
– Only the slow ones. We wiped out control of those items; it was my resolution and it was unanimously agreed to. The old politician came back after lunch and wanted it recommitted. He said: ‘During lunch I thought about it. You know, a lot of working people take tomato sauce on their lunches and if you decontrol this item it might go up in price.’ Could anyone hear anything so feeble as that?
– It would be a Labor man who said that.
– That was Sir Thomas Playford. He was playing politics instead of grasping the real issue involved. I think honourable senators would agree with me that to suggest continuing price control of condiments would be a little unwise. In Brisbane I think, about 10 firms made condiments. Small factories are manufacturing tomato sauce. We produce good tomatoes in Queensland. Hot house tomatoes from Bowen are beautiful. They make good tomato sauce - the best in Australia.
I thought that those points would give honourable senators some idea of the difficulty involved. It concerns not only the rag trade or the shoe trade. It concerns everything, even the bigger articles. The control of land sales was the greatest farce in history. We tried to exercise control. We had an excellent commissioner of prices. He was a qualified cost accountant and a qualified secretary. He had all the necessary qualifications and was a scrupulously honest and very exacting gentleman. He enforced land sales control as well as any human could. But one did not have to witness that process for very long to realise that when Mr A wanted the property of Mr B so badly that he was prepared to pay the price that Mr B asked, the sale would go through. All the papers would be filled out to show that the property was sold at the price determined by the commissioner. But what happened after that? Money changed hands on the black market.
Let me give this warning to honourable senators: When you set out to protect the members of the public, in many cases you do not get a lot of thanks for it because they like to do it their way. If they have to pay a black market price to get what they want, they are satisfied. When I endeavoured to control the price of butter my telephone never stopped ringing because there was a shortage of butter. It was transported over the border. The housewives, whom I was trying to protect from paying a further increase in the price of butter telephoned me and abused me. They said: ‘I bet that your refrigerator is full of butter. We cannot get any’. That was the thanks I received for trying to protect them. The position continues in that way. If people want something and are prepared to pay for it, they will get it in spite of whatever legislation or power is introduced.
I could tell honourable senators of many incidents from the past. One of the best involved the butcher shops. Mr Power was the Minister responsible for the matter in Queensland at that time. He received many complaints from members of the public that butchers were short weighing them and that they were being over charged. We had a good system for meat sales in Queensland at that time. The meat was graded and branded. The first class meat bore a blue mark. People who wanted good meat and who were prepared to pay for it knew what they were receiving. There was a second grade, and so on down the scale. Mr Power decided to introduce a docket system in the butcher shops. With modern weighing scales the butcher has the advantage of having the total weight and amount of money to be charged determined for him. The scales would register quantities of meat and show the amount to be charged. But that was not good enough. The butchers did not like the docket system.
One evening, just after dinner, a master butcher called at my home. He wanted to talk to me and I asked him in. He had a bundle of docket butts. He said to me: ‘If you had time to go through these, you would find that in most cases there has been an error in the totalling’. I said: ‘Yes, and I suppose that if I had time to go through them I would find that the errors in most cases were in your favour and not in the public’s favour’. He said: You would find some where the public had benefited’. I said: ‘What excuse can you offer when you have the scales to aid you?’ He said: Some of these butcher shops do not have these scales. They are a pretty costly piece of equipment’. I said: ‘What is wrong with the docket system? If you go into David Jones store and buy a shirt, a couple of ties and a pair of socks, you received an itemised docket. What is wrong with the principle so far as butchers are concerned? He said: ‘Generally, counter hands in butcher shops have not received very much education. They have left school early and they experience difficulty in making out a docket and adding it up’. I said: Is that so? Then tell me how they did the addition in their heads before the docket system was introduced.’ Apparently they could do mental arithmetic but they were no good at doing arithmetic on paper. It was a case of any excuse being better than none.
They are only some of the difficulties that are encountered when an endeavour is made to control prices. The housewives beat us on the docket system. They would go to the same butcher and build up a friendly relationship. They did not want him to make out a docket. They would say: ‘Do not bother, butcher. We do not want a docket’. He would not give them a docket, even though he ran the risk of being prosecuted for not doing so. If they received dockets, the housewives would not examine them and the floor of the butcher shop would be littered with them. They would throw them down immediately they received them. But that does not remove the responsibility from the Government to make some greater effort in this field. Price control is not the only method of curbing this rapidly growing inflation that we are experiencing at the present time and which is eroding the value of the dollar. Wage increases inevitably increase prices. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I repeat what I said in my policy speech during the last federal election campaign: The greatest problem that the incoming government faces in the control of the affairs of Australia is to correct inflation. If the Government can do that it will correct many of the anomalies, disadvantages and bad effects that we are suffering today. The amendment deals with the appointment of an additional member to the proposed committee on prices. I think that the Country Party has a right to have a representative on the committee and I support the amendment. But for the reasons that I have given, I think that the Government is only belting the air. I think that it has set out deliberately to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. The committee has been presented as an attempt to arrest inflation and price increases. In fact, the Government knows that the proposed committee can do nothing as such because it has no legal power to cause people to reduce their prices or margins. It has no power to take any action to reduce the price to the consumer.
– In view of the fact that this proposition has come from the House of Representatives and a move has been made to alter the constitution of the committee, I think that the wisest course might be to move that the debate be adjourned so that some discussion can take place in order to deal with the mechanical side of the problem.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– I move:
The proposal is to establish a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. The membership of the Committee would be 8 members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, 4 members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Opposition there, 2 members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party, 4 senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 2 senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, one Senator nominated by the Leader of the Austraiian Country Party in the Senate and one senator nominated by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. There are other machinery provisions. The Joint Committee is to consider and report upon foreign affairs and defence generally and such matters as may be referred to the Committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, by the Minister for Defence or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. It seems to me that the points which were made earlier in respect of membership of committees have been met. I commend the motion to the Senate.
– I would like to co-operate with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and get this motion through because, as far as I know, our members on the proposed Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence have been selected already. I point out to Senator Murphy that clause (5) of the message from the House of Representatives is one to which we in this place will be taking exception. It states:
That the Prime Minister nominate one of the Government members of the Committee as Chairman.
At this stage we take the point of view that the Committee ought to select its Chairman. Senator Murphy will recall that this afternoon, when setting up the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, we took no exception to a Government member being Chairman, but we rather preferred the words that the Committee shall elect a Government member as its Chairman’. Perhaps this sounds like a bit of parliamentary nitpicking but 1 think it is important. No chairman of any parliamentary committee ought to be there because he has been appointed by his parliamentary leader.
– Who appointed the Chairman of the previous Defence Committee?
– I could not answer that. I think it elected its own Chairman. I think Senator Cormack, as he then was, was Chairman.
– We chose our own.
– Senator Sim, who was a member, said that the Committee elected a Government member. We feel that this system ought to continue. We well realise that Senator Wheeldon, who has been chosen by Caucus, I take it, has been announced as being the Chairman of the Committee. Therefore our members of the Committee would know full well that Senator Wheeldon, who had been chosen by his parliamentary colleagues, would be the Chairman of the Committee, because the Government has the numbers. We do not take offence at that. I think it is wrong for the Parliament to have in a message from the House of Representatives that a member of the Executive or some person other than a member of the Committee should nominate the Chairman. Honourable senators will recall that this session we have taken the point that the leaders have the right to nominate persons as members of committees but that they no longer have the right to appoint members.
– I am prepared to discuss the matter with my colleagues.
– I suggest that a member on the Government side, other than Senator Murphy, should move the adjournment of the debate and overnight we would most likely clear up the matter.
– You take the adjournment now.
– Very well. I ask for leave to continue my remarks. That might be the easiest way out.
– I think that that suggestion is a sensible one and one which would be suitable to the occasion. I do not think that there should be further debate now.
Debate resumed from 1 March (vide page 1 07), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When this Bill was introduced, 1 think quite some weeks ago, I moved the adjournment of the debate. That may have seemed an unusual course that night because generally my distinguished colleague Senator Greenwood handles all matters which deal with the Attorney-General’s Department. I took the adjournment for a deliberate reason that night, and that was because at that stage the Opposition had not made up its mind whether there ought to be an Opposition point of view or whether we ought to adopt our previous procedures and have a free vote based on the conscience of the individual. 1 speak briefly to the Bill tonight to indicate that that is the situation. The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Snedden), who is the parliamentary Leader of the Liberal Party in this Parliament, has announced already that there will be a free vote for members of the Liberal Party.
We regard it as a matter for the individual conscience and individual responsibility how this matter ought to be judged. This is in direct contrast to the position in respect of Government members who will vote as a block in accordance with the policy that they have had laid down for them by outside people. Because of this - because one side is caucused and because members on this side will have a free vote - there will be no pairs for this Bill. There is no Opposition point of view. Each member on our side will be voting according to his conscience. Therefore, it is impossible to have pairs. I realise, from past experience, that a sufficient number of my colleagues on this side will exercise their right of conscience and will support the Bill. I have no doubt that the motion for its second reading will be carried. We do not believe that the Bill should be treated other than as a matter of conscience. There are held many differing points of view on how this subject ought to be approached. We do not believe that the debate on such a critical subject is enhanced when one side of the Senate enforces a point of view on its members who cannot dissent from it.
I will be brief in my remarks. There are some things which I think ought to be said. Senator Murphy, in his second reading speech, spoke of the world-wide trend to do away with capital punishment. That is a point of view, but I remind the Senate that there is also a trend that the matter may well be looked at again. I think it is fair to say that this is happening in Great Britain. As I recall it, during the elections in the United States last November, in California a referendum was held on this subject. Again calling on memory, I understand that about 60 per cent of those who voted voted to put back into the constitution the death penalty. I think that that is the only time - J am prepared to stand corrected - that this issue has been taken directly to the people in a western country.
– Did you read what the English jurist said in today’s paper?
– The honourable senator is referring to Lord Gardiner, and I am well aware of his views. What I am saying is that it is very easy for honourable senators to say here that the world trend is this, the world trend is that or the world trend is something e’se. The only way in which to test this is to put it to a vote of the people. As far as 1 am aware - I may well be wrong - the only time that this matter has been subjected to a vote of the people was during the Presidential election in the United States last year when the people of California voted in a referendum on the subject. It may well be that there have been other referendums of which I am not aware. I know that one can take notice of what appears in the media and Gallup polls but none of those authorities is as good as a referendum. To state that world opinion is inclined one way or the other is to make a subjective rather than an objective judgment. If the Government really wished to test the views of the Australian electorate it could put the matter to a referendum. It could well be that there would be a surprising result. 1 think it is well known world wide that the United States Government is considering at the moment the drafting of legislation which will overcome the objections of the United States Supreme Court to capital punishment as expressed in its decision of June, last year. While I am referring to this aspect I should like to take some time to talk about that judgment. One of the things that could madden one but really saddens me is that the proponents of abolition, who project themselves as men of great conscience, integrity and all that sort of jazz, have completely distorted what the United States Supreme Court said in its judgment of June last year. It is generally said that the United States Supreme Court held that the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was a ‘cruel and unusual punishment and therefore offended against the Constitution’. Those who say that are not telling the truth. Therefore, I intend to read some of the Court’s remarks into the record because they should be available in the record.
I quote from the United States Supreme Court 33l edition 2d in the cases of Furman v State of Georgia, Jackson v State of Georgia and Branch v State of Texas. These cases were argued before the United States Supreme Court with a bench of 9 judges on 17th January 1972. The decisions were handed down on 29th June 1972. The summary of the cases before the headnotes reads as follows:
Each of the 3 petitioners was Negro, was convicted in a State court and was sentenced to death after a trial by a jury, which, under applicable State statutes had discretion to determine whether or not to impose the death penalty.
The summary continues to give details of the charges on which the petitioners were convicted. I do not think it matters if I skip those details. The summary continues:
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment in each case insofar as it left undisturbed the death sentence imposed, and the cases were remanded for further proceedings. In a per curiam opinion expressing the view of S members of the Court, it was held that the imposition and carrying out of the death sentence in the present cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
I emphasise that these remarks were confined to the cases under review.
– Are not all judgments to the cases at hand?
– Senator Cavanagh should not rush in. He might be disappointed. Those remarks appear on page 346. On page 347 is a summary of the judgments. I will quote from each of them so that honourable senators will not be able to say that I am quoting only selected parts. The summary states:
Douglas, J., concurring -
In the majority decision - stated that it is cruel and unusual to apply the death penalty selectively to minorities . . .
I repeat: ‘ … to apply the death penalty selectively to minorities’. Do honourable senators want me to read the rest of it?
– What is a minority? Murderers would be a minority.
– All right, I will read the rest of the summary. It continues: . . whose numbers are few, who are outcasts of society, and who are unpopular, but whom society is willing to see suffer though it would not countenance general application of the same penalty across the boards, and that because of the discriminatory application of statutes authorising the discretionary imposition of the death penalty, such statutes were unconstitutional in their operation.
These statutes applied to negroes only. White persons charged with the same offence did not attract the same penalty. The summary that I quoted earlier was that of the decision of Mr Justice Douglas, in concurring with the majority decision. I turn to the summary of Mr Justice Brennan’s decision. He concurred and took the broader view of the abolitionist. That is why I propose to read the decisions. The summary states:
Brennan, J., concurring, stated that the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment was not limited to torturous punishments or to punishments which were considered cruel and unusual at the time the Eighth Amendment was adopted; that a punishment was cruel and unusual if it did not comport with human dignity;
This is the abolitionist’s argument which I accept - - and that since it was a denial of human dignity for a State arbitrarily to subject a person to an unusually severe punishment which society indicated that it did not regard as acceptable, and which could not be shown to serve any penal purpose more effectively than a significantly less drastic punishment, it was a cruel and unusual punishment.
That was the summary of the decision of Mr Justice Brennan, who was the first of the 9 judges to support abolition.
The next summary of a decision is that of Mr Justic Stewart, who also concurred with the majority decision. This summary states:
Stewart, J., concurring, stated that the petitioners were among a capriciously selected random handful upon whom the sentence of death was imposed, and that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments could not tolerate the infliction of a sentence of death under legal systems which permitted this unique penalty to be so wantonly and so freakishly imposed, but that it was unnecessary to reach the ultimate question whether the infliction of the death penalty was constitutionally impermissible in all circumstances, under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Mr Justice Stewart’s remarks were limited to the cases before the court. The summary of Mr Justice White’s decision states:
White, J., concurring, stated that as the State statutes involved in the present cases were administered, the death penalty was so infrequently imposed that the threat of execution was too attenuated to be of substantial service to criminal justice-
This is important - but that it was unnecessary to decide whether the death penalty was unconstitutional per se, or whether there was no system of capital punishment which would comport with the Eighth Amendment.
These remarks again were in relation to the cases before the court. I now come to the summary of the decision of the fifth judge who concurred with the abolition of the death penalty. There were 4 judges who held one view and 5 who held the other. The summary of the decision of the fifth judge, Mr Justice Marshall, a complete abolitionist, states:
Marshall, J., concurring, stated that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment because it was an excessive and unnecessary punishment and because it was morally unacceptable to the people of the United States.
Of the 5 judges I have mentioned - namely, Mr Justice Douglas, Mr Justice Brennan, Mr Justice Stewart, Mr Justice White and Mr Justice Marshall - only 2, Mr Justice Brennan and Mr Justice Marshall, said that the death penalty was completely unconstitutional. The other 3 judges said that it was unconstitutional in the cases being considered.
– The judges said there could be some cases where it was not. They would need to be dealt with on their merits.
– That is right. What I am saying is that the abolitionists do not do their cause any justice by saying that the United States Supreme Court by a majority held that the death penalty was unconstitutional. They do their cause no good by not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I do not think there is any real reason to read all of what the 4 judges in the minority said. Basically they said that the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments could not be construed to bar the imposition of the punishment of death.
– I think you have established your point, but 1 do not know how it helps you.
– I stated it only for the reason that those who sincerely believe - I can understand why they have this sincere and conscientious belief - that the death penalty ought to be abolished hold a view with which I disagree, but which I respect. I say that they do their cause no good by floating the sort of argument that the American Supreme Court found that the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was a cruel and unusual punishment. I have stated this early in the debate tonight in the fond hope that this matter will not be adverted to in the balance of the debate.
The Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) also stated that he believed that the abolition of the death penalty was in line with the substantial wish of the majority of Australians. However it seems to some of us that a majority of honourable senators may wish to have the death penalty retained for certain categories of crime, lt is for that reason that during the Committee stage of the debate certain members of the Opposition will move amendments to this Bill so that its scope will be widened. There are some of us on this side of the Senate who believe that capital punishment ought to be retained for such matters as treason, the hijacking of aircraft, the murder of policemen in the performance of their duty, and the murder of prison warders and like people in the performance of their duty. We believe that the imposition of the death penalty for such crimes ought to be retained because of the very nature of the crimes and we believe that the majority of people would support its retention in those areas.
I personally intend to vote against the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I think that in some ways it is the wrong sort of Bill to introduce because it is a one line Bill, an all or nothing Bill. It is for that reason that during the Committee stage we will attempt to widen it so that it is more than a one line Bill and people will have the opportunity of making their choice. I think the majority of honourable senators are against the death penalty, totally, absolutely and completely, but there are some who ought to be given the opportunity of voting for its retention in limited areas. It is for that reason, as I said earlier, that amendments will be moved in the Committee stage to test the opinion of the Senate as to certain categories of crime.
– On a free vote?
– On a free vote. Every member of the Liberal Party in this place will vote according to how his conscience moves him. I have not spoken to any of my colleagues about how they ought to vote. It is a matter peculiarly residing within a person’s conscience and I think it would be terrible for anyone to interfere and to indicate how someone else ought to vote on a matter of this kind.
– The Bill before the Senate was introduced by the Government and it purports to abolish the death penalty. If carried by both Houses of the Parliament and assented to it will have the effect of abolishing the death penalty absolutely. It is a comprehensive Bill designed to abolish the death penalty for all purposes under Commonwealth law and under the law of all Territories other than Papua New Guinea. It will abolish the death penalty for murder in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory, for treason under the Crimes Act, for the offences of destruction or prejudicing the safety of an aircraft with intent to kill or with reckless indifference to the safety of life under the Crimes (Aircraft) Act, and for the killing of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions. It also will abolish the death penalty in the circumstances provided for under the Defence Act which, shortly stated, involve traitorous conduct or mutiny. The Bill substitutes a penalty of life imprisonment.
I have read what the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) said when introducing the Bill. It is apparent that it has been introduced because abolition of the death penalty is part of the Australian Labor Party platform for social and legal reform. Therefore it is a Government Bill. Members of the Labor Party will support it because it is their Government’s policy. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) said, the Liberal Party takes the view that this is a Bill about which there is a difference of opinion among members of the Liberal Party. Traditionally, over many years, this has been regarded as an issue about which people’s consciences are strongly stirred, and so the Liberal Party will not seek to impose any policy upon its members. It will be for each individual to decide for himself how he will vote on this measure and how he will vote on particular amendments which will be moved in the Committee stage to allow for variations of opinion on the types of offences for which it might be held that the death penalty is an appropriate penalty.
The approach of the Australian Labor Party to this Bill typifies its approach to so many measures. It is a total approach. You accept the Labor Party policy and do not permit any variation to that policy. I should point out one exception. In recent times - 1 cannot but believe that this is because of the electoral consequences of holding a different viewpoint - the Labor Party has said expressly that in regard to matters of abortion, the death, the murder, the cessation of life of a foetus in being, there shall be or there may be a conscience vote on the part of its members. However, in regard to the taking of life in circumstances which the law of this country has said justify the taking of life, the Labor Party will permit of no conscience vote. I repeat that the Labor Party has taken a total view. All its members must subscribe to the policy that the death penalty be abolished. 1 am under no illusion that this Bill will be passed by the Senate and by the House of Representatives. It will be passed in both Houses of Parliament not because the Labor Party has a majority which would, on Party lines, require it to be passed, but because there are individuals within the Liberal Party and possibly within the other Opposition Parties who, in the exercise of their judgment and in the expression of their conscience, feel that they must support and will support the measure now before the Senate. I do not doubt that there are members of the Australian Labor Party who are not opposed to the death penalty but their conscience is denied, their freedom is assailed. They have not got the freedom which always has been the hallmark of the Liberal Party. This is an issue, possibly above all issues, which indicates the fundamental difference in approach between the 2 major parties in this country.
I am a member of a Party which always has conceded to its members the right of individual expression and the ability to disagree with the majority without penalty if their feeling or their conscience so requires. There will be no penalty attaching to any member of the Liberal Party who speaks, votes and acts in that way. I take pride in my membership of the Liberal Party in that over some 25 years I have exercised in regard to fundamental issues and not so fundamental issues that freedom which I think, if one wants to reflect upon it and look upon it, is one of the characteristics of the Liberal Party in this country - and long may those principles be maintained.
The Labor Party, for its part, is a Party which on this issue requires the complete and absolute adherence and obedience of all its members irrespective of what their viewpoint might be. I think that indicates why, philosophically and intrinsically, the Liberal Party is superior to the Australian Labor Party which does not allow this freedom and independence of opinion which ought to be the hallmark of sophisticated, educated and intelligent legislators in the national interest. The effect of this Bill, as I have said, will be to abolish the death penalty for all purposes under Commonwealth law.
– Even terrorists.
– I note the point which Senator McManus has made because it seems to me - and I can speak only personally on this issue - that it is a hollow attitude for the Labor Party to say that it will take all measures within its power to stamp out what must be the most appalling crime which modern mankind has to experience - people placing bombs in crowded streets and in cars, causing havoc, murder, injury and terror - and that with regard to crimes of that character there shall not be the death penalty which ought to be the mark of condemnation of society of the horror and terror of such a crime. I wonder whether any members of the Australian Labor Party will seek to sustain what I think is a hollow inconsistency in their attitude.
But I fear that I was distracted from my line of argument by Senator McManus’ interjection. The death penalty remains on the statute book in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. The death penalty was carried out last in Victoria in 1967, and prior thereto it was carried out last in Western Australia in 1964. But having regard to the current of opinion and to the attitudes which governments have adopted, it must be assumed - at least in the case of the ordinary types of crime which carry the death penalty - that it will be only in exceptional circumstances in the future that the death penalty, which is imposed for certain capital crimes, would not be commuted. I mention in passing that no sentence of death has ever been carried out in the Australian Capital Territory, and there is no provision for it to be carried out in the Australian Capital Territory. The death penalty was carried out in the Northern Territory in 1930 and in 1952 and, as far as I am aware, there have been no executions in the other Territories of the Commonwealth - in Norfolk Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or Christmas Island - since they became Territories of the Commonwealth under Australian administration.
But I take the view that the death penalty is a penalty which ought to remain on the statute book not so much because it has moral justification and not so much because it has the deterrent quality which is claimed for it, though I say in each instance that there is a moral and a deterrent justification. The main view which I would take - holding, as I do, that there is no moral argument which I would accept or acknowledge as being opposed to the death penalty - is that it represents the condemnation by society of certain types of crime and the means by which society unites its ranks against those who in a particularly heinous way would seek to destroy the liberties, rights and values which, as a society, we would seek to maintain. I accept that the way in which I put it is not the way in which it is frequently categorised by those who seek to argue the case for the abolition of the death penalty. Those who seek to argue the case for the abolition of the death penalty usually put up the so-called retentionists’ argument and, having put up that argument, seek to demolish it. But what are the arguments of those who seek to retain the death penalty? I think that those arguments largely centre upon the peculiar deterrent effect of the death penalty and the retri butive element which it derives from society’s concern that certain crimes should be stamped with the most emphatic disapproval of which society is competent.
Before I elaborate on those arguments, I turn to some of the traditional arguments which are raised. It is said, for example, that the argument for the abolition of the death penalty is based primarily and fundamentally upon the view that it is wrong in all circumstances for an individual deliberately and consciously to take human life. I suppose that this is fundamentally the basic moral argument against capital punishment. Yet I wonder whether those who are prepared lo assert that view will maintain it in all cases, notwithstanding that in no circumstances should human life be consciously and deliberately taken. There are those who argue against capital punishment who have, in the service of their nation, borne arms and been prepared to accept all that the bearing of arms in the nation’s defence involves. Notwithstanding the horrors that people in those circumstances have witnessed and experienced, I cannot but assume that there would be many who on a future occasion would still be prepared, in the defence of their nation, to take the same course.
I mention these people because they are persons who must allow a qualification of the general rule or the general proposition that in no circumstances can human life be deliberately and consciously taken. I think that the view of the moralist or abolitionist must fundamentally come down to the proposition that the taking of life consciously and deliberately can be accepted only if there is some primary social purpose which is to be accommodated. The real difficulty is to determine what is that primary, social purpose. The way in which the argument develops on the part of these people is that there is an obligation upon those who seek to retain the death penalty to show whatever, in a particular case, is the primary social purpose. That, I believe, is difficult to show, and it can be shown only if one accepts that in society there occur crimes which must be stamped with such an emphatic disapproval that that disapproval is expressed, in terms of protecting the lawabiding and indicating the quality and standard of society, in the marking of the crime with the sentence of death. But I cannot say - and I do not believe - that those who argue the case that there is a moral position against the death penalty can sustain it in all circumstances for all purposes.
The argument is raised that the so-called deterrent position is not a position which can be sustained. The abolitionists would argue that there is no evidence whatever, derived from statistics or human experience, which shows that the deterrent of the death penalty will mean that there will be fewer crimes of murder or other crimes which carry the death penalty or that it will in any way lessen the incidence of offences carrying the death penalty. I suppose that if one looks at statistics and motivation of conduct one sees that it is difficult to establish that proposition. But how difficult is it? Arguments have been raised which suggest that statistics prove the opposite. I have before me - 1 commend it to those who are interested in reading one of the more recent surveys and summaries of opinions on capital punishment - a hearing before Subcommittee No. 3 of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives of the 92nd Congress of the United States of America. I shall refer to only part of the document and to that part only once. This was put before the Committee as the high point of argument by those who seek to rebut the deterrent argument on the ground of statistics. Mr Thorsten Sellin in a report for the Model Penal Code project of the American Law Institute stated:
Anyone who carefully examines the . . . data is bound to arrive at the conclusion that the death penalty, as we use it, exercises no influence on the extent or fluctuating rates of capital crimes. It has failed as a deterrent.
I mention that because I feel that it puts compendiously, neatly, the argument of those who say that the death penalty is no deterrent. In more recent times the opinion of Lord Gardiner, who was formerly a Lord Chancellor of England and who has a long record as an abolitionist, would support the same proposition.
How valid is this proposition? In the first place I submit that statistics cannot be relied upon because those who are in fact deterred do not show up in statistics. Of the very nature of the statistics which are relied upon there cannot be any assessment of something which is personal and psychological. Equally, the statistics are inadequate not only in terms of coverage but also in terms of the types of crimes which are used as the basis for the many judgments which have been made and from which conclusions have been drawn.
For example, during an earlier debate in this place I had extracted the homicide rates and the murder convictions in the various States since 1956. I do not seek to table those figures tonight because they are in the Hansard record of the previous debate on this subject in which I engaged. The significant feature is that in those States where the death penalty has been abolished the murder rate is enormously higher than in those States where it has not been abolished. If one takes figures for the 2 States where the death penalty has been abolished - that is New South Wales and Queensland - one finds that in New South Wales in the period 1956 to 1970 there were 217 convictions for murder. In Queensland there were 84 convictions for murder. But in Victoria where the death penalty has not been abolished and where the last execution in Australia was carried out in 1967 there have been only 72 convictions for murder. The point I make is that these figures suggest that in those States where the death penalty has been abolished the number of murder convictions is infinitely higher than in those States where the death penalty has not been abolished. Those are statistics in Australia. It may be suggested superficially that they disprove the conclusions to be drawn from statistics which have been derived overseas.
– What does the honourable senator mean when he says that the number of convictions are higher? Does he mean that juries have been prepared to convict where there is a death penalty as against juries where there is no death penalty?
– That is the point 1 am making. In New South Wales and Queensland the number of murder convictions, as I said, is infinitely higher than the number of murder convictions in Victoria. Quite simply, it appears that in those States where there is no death penalty more murders occur.
– More homicide or more manslaughter in Victoria?
– I have not taken out the manslaughter figures. I was about to come on to this argument. 1 concede that in relation to the figures I have given for the Australian scene one might draw wrong conclusions because so much psychological impact is involved and one cannot take account of how deterrents act upon an individual. I say wrong conclusions absolutely because I think the point which Senator Byrne had in mind when he interjected and asked me the question was that in those States where there is no death penalty for murder juries may be more ready to convict of murder than in those States where there is a death penalty. This is a fact which is quite uncalculable in its impact.
– Women are now serving on juries and that might be more so, might it not?
– On the other hand it may be less so.
– Do you think the female of the species is more deadlier than the male?
– I am not going to be attracted by Senator Byrne to discuss a subject which is not, I feel, germane to the main theme which I am putting forward. Whatever be the source from which the statistics are drawn - whether they be statistics as the United States authorities have elaborated them and as I know they have been elaborated in writings in the main texts on this subject or whether they are drawn roughly as I have drawn them from an examination of the murder conviction rates in the various States of Australia - it is very difficult to draw any conclusion out of those statistics. I make the point only to say that those who seek to rely upon statistics to say that the retention of the death penalty will not act as a deterrent have no solid or sound basis for their argument. Fundamentally, the reason why they have no such sound basis is that what motivates a person to commit a crime and in particular to commit murder is known to that person and to that person alone. I would have thought that in those cases where a killing is committed on the spur of the moment in response to a situation which indicates irresponsibility or lack of fundamental control, the death penalty does not loom as a factor which deters that person from taking the action which his own instincts in the situation in which he finds himself would lead him to. On the other hand if there is a premeditated murder, if there is a calculation of the gains or benefits which accrue from carrying out a particular crime, I suppose the death penalty is a factor which would loom large in that person’s thinking.
– Does the honourable senator really think that with a premeditated murder the perpetrator contemplates that he may be caught?
– I think that in many cases the person does think that. But, of course, one cannot speak for every individual. One cannot read the minds of persons who murder and are convicted as such any more than one can read the minds of persons who have thought murder, planned murder and who have never carried it through. But I believe that the death penalty may be effective in preventing large numbers of potential wrongdoers from ever reaching a state of criminality which becomes uncontrollable and impulsive. The more society indicates that there is an ultimate penalty - the death penalty - which is the price which a person must pay for certain types of wrongdoers then the more society is likely to deter potential wrongdoers from ever reaching the stage where they commit the offence which ordinarily would carry the death penalty as a consequence.
– Having committed the first offence could they not go ahead and commit several others?
– I am not sure how Senator Georges is making his point in terms of the argument that I am putting. I should have thought that if there was a penalty less than the death penalty for certain types of offence which ought to carry the death penalty there would be the possibility - one cannot put it any higher than that - of a person who is released from a term of confinement repeating the offence. He may become a recidivist who will commit the same type of crime. But that is not the point I am making. What I am saying is that the mores of a society determine to a very real extent the type of conduct which occurs in that society. There will always be persons who act and behave above and below the norm. But the general pattern of behaviour within a society is determined by the standards which that society maintains.
I believe, and other people can believe differently, that in a society which in broad terms is permissive - I do not relate it only to the things which are categorised by the term permissive’ - there will be permissive actions occurring and that a society which emphasises and highlights the fact that individuals are responsible for their actions and have to carry the consequences in terms of personal responsibility for their actions is a more self reliant society and a better society in which the conduct of individuals towards their fellows will be generally more acceptable. I believe that the death penalty fits into that concept because I think, as I said earlier, that there are certain types of conduct which ought to be met by a retribution which is emphatic and an indication of society’s abhorrence of the type of crime committed. I think that the death penalty is the appropriate penalty for society to impose in that instance.
As I see it, the argument for retaining the death penalty is not simply historical. As I have said, the argument is its importance as indicating society’s attitude to certain types of wrongdoing. It represents society’s moral condemnation of certain acts. It indicates that society is prepared to close its ranks and act as one against those who are prepared to violate society’s laws. I instance that not by reference to particular incidents and the writings of many people who have expressed that view in the past, because the quotations I would want to make are replete in the Hansard record of various speeches I have made on the subject. But a crime like the moors murder in England where, for sheer thrill, 2 persons took another person and tortured him and, in their own excruciating way, proceeded to carve him up until he died is such a heinous crime that I do not believe that society could tolerate it unless it were to indicate that it was prepared to take the strong action which is involved in the imposition of the death penalty.
– Would the existence of the death penalty have prevented such a crime?
– I think Senator Cavanagh is missing the point I made earlier. It is not so much a question of the death penalty having a preventive effect. That is something which one cannot absolutely determine because the attitude of different persons differs with the motivations which operate upon them. But in the case of the type of crime which is so horrifying that one cannot indicate one’s disapproval of it in any way other than the death penalty - I believe that there are some such crimes - I think society would not be the type of society which it should be if it were not prepared to do so.
As I indicated earlier in response to an interjection by Senator McManus, I think the greatest crimes which society has to face at the moment are the crimes of terror, murder and violence which are involved in the concept of terrorism. I am on record as indicating in this chamber in times past that the crime of terrorism is the greatest crime on the statute book for which I believe the death penalty ought to be imposed, because it is the type of crime which sets at nought human life. The man who. is prepared, in pursuit of some political objective or even some personal objective, to place a bomb in a crowded street creates not only injury and possibly murder but also terror. Society would be powerless in the event of that occuring if it was not prepared to take the most emphatic action of which it is capable to show that there shall be no such conduct.
There have been all types of revolting murders in relation to which I will not proceed to elaborate. I think of what happened in the Manson killings in the United States. Indeed, the news in Australia today has revived memories of a particularly revolting crime which occurred in Victoria within the last 2 years. There have been all types of revolting crimes in our history to which one can refer where child kidnappings have resulted in the brutal slaying of defenceless infants. I do not know how society can really feel that it is going to create the standards which it believes are important unless it is prepared in those instances to say, not a life for a life, though there is that element to it, but that the most important thing which an individual has in his own being and his own life. Society ought to be prepared to say to individuals that that is at risk if they do certain things which society is not prepared to accept under any circumstances. Those are the fundamental reasons why I propose to vote against this Bill in its entirety and why I believe on broader grounds that society at its peril removes the death penalty from the statute book.
I do not believe that, because a death penalty is imposed by sentence of a judge upon conviction for a particular crime, in all circumstances the death penalty must be carried out. We do have - it is traditional - the recommending of mercy and the exercising of the prerogative of clemency. There is in every situation an examination by the Executive of the circumstances of the crime and there is a judgment as to whether or not the death penalty should be commuted. In those States where the death penalty exists at the moment that practice is followed. From my discussions with persons who have had to make the decisions as to whether there should be a commutation - I have never gone into details with them - I have found that they regard as being one of the most awesome experiences they have to undertake as Ministers of the Crown the consideration of whether there should be a commutation of the death sentence in a particular case. I believe that that is the way in which justice is served. In Australia - and I speak specifically of my own State of Victoria - the many convictions for murder have resulted in all but, I think, one death sentence being commuted in the last 20 years. I. think that reflects the standards of community opinion.
– Do you think that a Minister faced with the problem of a decision as to commutation can consider it as objectively as a judge can consider something judicially? Is he not subjected to all sorts of influences, inevitably?
– I am sure, as Senator Byrne says, that these influences do impinge upon his assessment. I think community standards and community thinking are part of this, but he has a job to perform. He has an oath to which he has to be true. I believe that the Ministers who make this decision from time to time in those States where the commutation is exercised undertake their task conscientiously and make their decision honestly. I do not think society has suffered because that has been the way in which many persons who have been convicted of murder have had their death sentences commuted to terms of life imprisonment. I believe the important thing to acknowledge and to recognise is that the death penalty still remains on the statute book, and on those occasions and in those instances where there is no case for commutation which is persuasive, the death penalty shall be carried out. I do not believe that Ministers of the Crown, true to their oath, will shirk the obligation which comes to them because they hold public office and because it is part of their function to make the necessary decisions.
Some 4 or 5 years ago, as I recall it, Sir Charles Lowe, who was a very distinguished judge in Victoria, wrote to the newspapers after he had retired from his judgeship, and set out these facts in simple and straightfor ward layman’s terms. It was about the time when the execution of the murderer Ryan was featured in the newspapers. I suggest to anyone who wants to read the circumstances in which the Executive considers these matters that it is instructive to read those letters which Sir Charles Lowe wrote. That basically represents the viewpoint to which I subscribe and on which I will determine the vote I will cast here tonight or whenever the Senate votes upon this matter.
But what is the reason for this Bill being introduced? I suggested earlier that fundamentally it has been introduced because it is part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy, and my recollection is that it has been Labor Party policy for very many years. But I notice that Senator Murphy, in the course of his second reading speech, claimed as one of the justifications for introducing this measure that it will represent the opinion of a substantial majority of the Australian people. Naturally he gives no basis for that viewpoint. I would say that as far as he is concerned it is nothing more than an assertion. On other occasions I would say in other language that he has no credible evidence for it. If one looks at the record one finds that the last gallup poll which took place in this country in 1967 showed that 43 per cent of the community favoured the abolition of the death penalty, 46 per cent of the community were against the abolition of the death penalty and 1 1 per cent of the community were undecided. The most that those figures revealed was a decided shift or swing in public opinion away from an emphatic affirmative vote in favour of the retention of the death penalty which accounted for 68 per cent of the community as reflected in the gallup poll taken in 1947.
The point I make is that public opinion is not to be regarded as determined or free from doubt, and it ought not to be the criterion upon which a decision as important as this is made. It ought to be made on the basis of how legislators assess the situation and how they believe the decision should be made. I refer to what occurred in the State of California in the United States of America during the last presidential election when there was a poll in that State to determine whether or not the death penalty should be restored. The electorate in that State voted 2 to 1 - the figures were 5,400,000 to 2,600,000 - in favour of restoring the death penalty for 4 specific types of crime, namely, the prisoner murder of non-prisoners, treason, wrecking a train entailing injury or death, and perjury resulting in execution of the innocent. If a general vote were taken here, I wonder whether public opinion, particularly in the light of certain types of crimes which have been occurring with an alarming frequency in recent times, might not affirmatively seek to retain and to have carried out in particular instances the death penalty.
The opinion expressed in California in the United States of America must have shocked many people who felt that the trend of thinking amongst the electorate at large was in favour of the complete abolition of the death penalty. I think with that decision in the United States must be taken the opinion which was expressed by President Nixon when he recently announced that he would ask Congress to restore the death penalty for aircraft hijacking, kidnapping, the throwing of fire bombs, attacks on prison guards or other police officers, and treason and other war-related crimes. I must say that for my part I wonder whether the Australian community might not reflect the attitudes which President Nixon believes ought to prevail in the United States and which the people of the State of California indicated by their vote. 1 think it should not be ignored in this argument which has raged - I think one writer said that the arguments about the death penalty and its abolition are the arguments of Caesar and Cato which prevailed in the days of the Catiline conspiracy - that the arguments put forward are largely developed on the basis that those who desire abolition are by character and by mission articulate, missionary and propagandist; those who seek to retain the death penalty-
– They have work to do.
– 1 know the way in which Senator Wright means that. People who seek to retain the death penalty are not persons who are prepared to go on a crusade throughout the community urging and arguing for the retention of the death penalty because no-one feels that way about the death penalty. lt is one of the necessary evils which a society must be prepared to acknowledge as part of the means by which society as a society is ordered and by which the law-abiding citizens of a community are given their ultimate protection. The retentionists for the death penalty are by nature and by the character of their cause inarticulate and non- propagandist. In an age which is a propagandist age, the case of the retentionist has never really carried the public message or the pages of the media which the opposite cause has carried. Notwithstanding that, the general opinion which seems to be culled from every public opinion poll which is held indicates a very substantial vote of persons who would seek to retain the death penalty.
I have sought in the course of a fairly long speech, Mr Deputy President, to express certain views as to why I propose to vote against this measure, and the character of the views I have expressed has been meant to be persuasive, if not to this audience to a larger audience. I believe that as far as society and the values of society which I regard as important are concerned, there is an urgent need for society to indicate what its attitude is with regard to certain crimes which are so repulsive that society must mark its denunciation of them, and I believe the death penalty on the statute book is the means by which that is done. As I have indicated, for those reasons I will oppose this measure. As the Leader of the Opposition indicated, the Liberal Party, unlike the Australian Labor Party, is exercising a free vote on this issue so that its members can vote according to the way they view this measure. I propose to move amendments in the committee stage of this Bill. We know it will be carried as a result of the phalanx of votes which must go one way since the result would be absolutely disastrous to a member of the Labor Party who was not prepared to vote as his Party dictates. I know that this measure will be carried and that the Bill will reach the committee stage. It will be carried only because the free vote which the Liberal Party allows and the independence of mind of some Liberal senators will ensure that it is carried. Those senators are to be commended for their forthrightness even though on this particular occasion I do not happen to concur in the view they express. But never let it be forgotten that when this measure is carried it will be carried because of a Party which will permit to its members a freedom of expression which the actual protagonists and supporters of the measure will not allow to their own members. I will move amendments which will give the Senate an opportunity to express its view on particular offences and particular crimes for which the death penalty may be retained. For my part I will oppose the second reading of this Bill.
– It is surely the obligation of honourable senators to express their views on this most important matter. In this Bill which is before us, which is for an Act to abolish capital punishment under the laws of the Commonwealth and under certain other laws to which the powers of this Parliament are extended, one finds in clause 4 a summation of this measure:
A person is not liable to the punishment of death for any offence.
The previous speaker has indicated that this measure will pass through the Senate, and it will obviously pass through the House of Representatives. Although this is the third occasion, I think on which the Senate has debated the question of the abolition of the death penalty, it is most regrettable to me that I should find myself the third Opposition speaker on this measure while no member of the Government in the Senate has had either the wish or the ability to present any argument on it. I think it is regrettable because it endorses the point made by Senator Greenwood. The fact that it can be predicted that this Bill will pass through the Senate arises purely because of the fact that in the Opposition, both Liberal Party and the Country Party, there is no tied or demanded vote though certainly there will be some members certainly in my own Party, the Country Party, who will vote with the Government on this matter since they believe in conscience that the death penalty should be abolished under federal law.
I have always voted to retain the death penalty in common law statutes, perhaps because of some enlarged experience which I believe I have had during my lifetime, for I have at times been involved with a number of people who have taken the lives of others. I had the wonderful experience of my father being a member, firstly, of what was called the Indeterminate Sentences Board in Victoria for some 10 years and, secondly, a member of the Parole Board in Victoria. Senator Gair will recall the many discussions he has had with that most wonderful gentleman of whom I have spoken. When I was a lad my father saw fit to bring young men from various institutions - young men who had not had opportunities but who had committed crimes - to work on his property. In recent years I have murderers employed in my own business and have been very proud to do so. I believe that when an opportunity arises for men to regain a place in society they should be able to accept it.
– You are arguing against yourself. You should have hanged them.
- Senator O’Byrne interrupts me and says: ‘You are arguing for the Bill.’ I have at least an open mind, something I do not find in Senator O’Byrne or in any other member of the Government Party and I say this most regrettably. Many of them hold the views which I hold for they have said privately to me: ‘We believe that the death penalty should be retained’, but they have not the intestinal fortitude to stand up here and vote that way. If they vote against their Party they will find that they face the same kind of situation that Captain Sam Benson faced when he voted against his Party in the other House. He was immediately put out of the Parliament. (Government senators interjecting)
– I am proud, however, that within the Opposition there will be some members who wish to vote in favour of capital punishment being abolished. I think that a trend has developed in the community which shows that people generally would expect senators and members to have a free vote on this matter. In my view the community is not prepared at this point of time to agree that the death penalty should be abolished from the statutes of the Federal Parliament and from those of the State parliaments. It is regrettable, as I say, that Labor members will not have a free vote - but there are a number of things associated with the Labor Party about which one has deep regrets, including the recent discussion on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. There is no doubt that members of the Labor Party have stood up and said: ‘We will dispatch members of the Croatian community; and Senator Murphy has named individuals who have never committed crimes and who have never been charged with crimes in Australia. He is prepared to name them and to table files on them in the Senate and he would suggest that they should be deported - and certainly there are countries to which they will be deported where they will be immediately shot.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Senator Webster, I think you are getting away from the Bill.
– If your ruling is that I am getting away from the Bill, I say that what I am saying is very close to the Bill. Nothing could be closer to the Bill than to ask an honourable senator to express his view on whether he would take the life of an individual. The Government will say: ‘We will abolish the death penalty in Australia but we will willingly send a person, who we think may have committed a crime in this country, to another country to be immediately shot.’ Tell me: Are the people who say that really death penalty abolitionists? That is the fact which we have here.
– You are not telling the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– Why should he lie?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator, you will withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it, Mr Deputy President, but he should not deliberately misrepresent the case which the Government members have stated from time to time. He is deliberately misrepresenting the case and the position of the.. Government and for that reason I say he has not stated the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You are now trying to qualify your withdrawal. I have asked you to withdraw the expression, not to qualify it.
– In deference to the peace of the Senate, I withdraw.
– 1 make the pointand to me it appears to be a prominent one - that while one may hear an individual say that he agrees with the abolition of the death penalty, circumstances can arise in which that person becomes absolutely aghast at some dastardly crime. Perhaps, then, he would agree that the perpetrator should forfeit his life because of that act. I do not doubt that the honourable senator who interjected to make some comment on the remark I had made would admit that in certain instances he would see that a person should certainly forfeit his life for some crime that he had committed.
– Mr Deputy President, 1 protest. I ask you to direct the honourable senator to withdraw that remark because he is inferring that 1. would be prepared to accept that a person should forfeit his life as punishment for some crime. That is not my position and the honourable senator ought not to state it on my behalf. As far as I am concerned, it would be as criminal-
– Is this a personal explanation?
– It is not a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is the honourable senator claiming that the remark is offensive?
– lt is offensive to me. I ask the honourable senator to withdraw it because I am wholeheartedly in support of this Bill, and I cannot understand his position.
– If I have done any injustice to the honourable senator, I certainly apologise. May I say, if it is not getting too far away from the Bill, that the honourable senator may be tested in this regard very shortly if, as I believe to be the case, some of his brilliant cobbers in another place are to introduce a Bill requiring abortion on demand. That Bill may come into the Senate. I hear an honourable senator say that it has nothing to do with this Bill. But a large section of the community may consider that abortion, at a particular stage, takes a life. I support that contention. I feel that the unborn, at a particular stage, have a right to life, lt will be very interesting should that Bill be introduced into the Senate to see in actual fact the way in which Senator Georges votes. I am inclined to think that he would be having a little bet both ways on this matter. I hope that I am wrong. Perhaps the honourable senator may care to leave the matter at this point until the time comes. I will watch with interest how he votes in the matter. Certainly, this situation is one of great world interest. I noted a large document emanating from the United Nations secretariat in relation to capital punishment in which it sought to collate information obtained from every country. It is interesting to note that I cannot find my comments supported by what may happen in Yugoslavia. As I understand the position - I hope 1 do not do that country an injustice - it did not reply. Comment is not made in the document in regard to the death penalty situation in that country. I read from the introductory note to the document:
Member States to ensure that the most careful legal procedures and the greatest possible, safeguards for the accused in capital cases in countries where the death penalty, obtains are applied, inter alia, by providing that (a) a person condemned to death shall not be deprived of the right to appeal to a higher judicial authority or, as the case may be, to petition for pardon or reprieve; (b) a death sentence shall not be carried out until the procedures of appeal or, as the case may be, of petition for pardon or reprieve have been terminated; (c) special attention shall be given in the case of indigent persons by the provision of adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings. The Governments were asked to consider whether those careful legal procedures and safeguards might not be further strengthened by the fixing of a certain time-limit before the expiry of which no death sentence would be carried out. The Governments were also requested to inform the SecretaryGeneral of their attitude to possible further restriction of the use of the death penalty or to its total aboliion, and to indicate whether any changes in that respect had taken place since 1965.
The Secretary-General sent reminders in July 1970 and in August 1971. The information 1 have here indicates the situation as at December 1971. It is interesting to note that the abolition of the death penalty has been a world trend since 1789 when Liechtenstein became the first country to abolish capital punishment. Over the years, many other countries have followed suit. This document, which is some half an inch thick, indicates the various attitudes taken by countries. It is interesting to note what the representatives of other countries would read of the Australian situation. It is stated:
Australia has always provided safeguards for persons accused in capital cases by, the most careful legal procedures, by appeals, by petitions for reprieves, and by opportunities for pardon. In view of the availability of the greatest possible safeguards to a person who is condemned to death in Australia, it is considered unnecessary that an arbitrary timelimit be set for which a death sentence can be carried out. It has always been the practice of Australian higher courts to grant priority to the bearing and determination of appeals in capital cases on ground of humanity, and because the liberty of the subject is at stake. The fixing of an arbitrarily, arrived at time-limit might be a disservice to an accused person who, while having available to him and being assisted by legal aid to use the full opportunities of legal appeal and petition for reprieve or pardon, should not be kept unnecessarily in suspense and possible anguish.
An indigent person who is charged with a capital offence in Australia is provided with legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings.
As regards the Secretary-General’s inquiry concerning the present attitude to and possible further restriction of the use of the death penalty, the Australian authorities advise that in December 1968 the State of Tasmania abolished capital punishment for murder, and in March of the same year the Federal Government abolished capital punishment for all offences except murder and treason in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, the Australian Antarctic Territories, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The position in the other States of the Commonweatlh is unchanged.
That was submitted on 12th January 1971 and is the view of Australia that has gone out to the world through the United Nations secretariat. We know that a number of individuals in Australia and overseas have said that the death penalty is not the answer. ‘Death penalty is not the answer’ seems to me to be a very attractive newspaper headline. It was the comment made by the former Lord Chancellor of Britain, Lord Gardiner as reported in ‘The Australian’ of 10th April 1973. He said:
There is no country where the murder rate has increased because capital punishment has been abolished -
Possibly that can be regarded as a statistical fact. The point was well made by Senator Greenwood when he said that one is not to know what would have been the position. Certainly it appears to me that the committing of certain types of murder would not be affected by the application of the death penalty. However, it also appears to me that there is a certain deterrent effect in the death penalty being retained on the statute books. Those who oppose the Bill should not be told, as members of the Labor Party have said to me at times: ‘You are a hanger’ or ‘You wish to see people hang’, or have some other charge levelled at them. Rather is it a case of a person wishing to see the penalty retained in the statutes.
It appears to me that there is a rising incidence of an outraged public demanding the extreme punishment, and the state has an obligation to carry out the will of society. Without such a penalty being available to a state, public confidence in the process of law and order may be weakened and private revenge may take over. There is the possibility that this could occur. Who can say what will face us in the foreseeable future? One would say on reading the reported facts of certain crimes that the life of the individual who committed the crime should be taken. I can well believe that this is so in relation to some of the dastardly crimes which have taken place in Australia. Even the very enlightened facts about terrorism if they are facts, that we have had in recent weeks from Senator Murphy, are a basis for not quickly removing the death penalty from the statutes of the Federal Territories. I believe that it should be retained.
There are 8 or 9 reasons why I would retain the death penalty. On the one hand, it could act as a deterrent. I suppose that these are the main arguments, if one has an argument, in relation to the retention of the death penalty. There are arguments related to the Christian approach. It appears to me that those Christians who say that the sanctity of life should be preserved and who quote the Bible take the sections of the Bible that suit their arguments. If one reads the Bible as a whole - whether it be the New Testament or the Old Testament - one finds it is not against Christian teaching, as I see it, that a person should lose his life if he is judged by a State to have taken the life of another. I feel that the inbuilt safeguards of Australian law would support the retention of the penalty. Another argument is related to the economic factor, and it certainly would appear to be a very harsh attitude to adopt. I have often thought that the $30,000 or so which it may cost to keep a particular type of criminal incarcerated for the many years of his sentence is an enormous cost. I know that recently one man was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment with no provision for remission. That would be an enormous cost to the community. In Adelaide quite recently the Labor Government attempted to commute the death penally which had been imposed on a person. The interesting point about the case was that the individual wished to be hanged. He believe that incarceration for a lifetime was a far greater punishment than to have his life taken. The Government acted wrongly on that occasion in that a person who is sentenced has to appeal before the State can commute the death sentence.
I believe that the death penalty, with those inbuilt safeguards of appeal where the case could be referred to other persons for evaluation, should be retained in many instances. The death penalty is carried out on very few occasions. I think the number has been given. One has to look well back into Australian history before one finds an instance of the death penalty being carried out. I believe that it should be retained for the murder of a policeman or a person in the service of the Crown acting in the course of, or any person assisting a policeman or persons acting in the course of, any duty involving the enforcement of the law, the maintenance of law and order or the administration of the advancement of justice. In my view the death sentence should be imposed on a person convicted of killing a prison officer who was guarding him. I think it is well known that a criminal who is incarcerated for life or for 40 years cannot serve any harsher penalty if the death penalty is not on the statute book, so there is a greater risk of the life of the individual whom society pays to guard the prisoner.
I believe that a crime against the safety of the Government is one for which the death penalty should pertain. It should be retained for the murder of the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, any Minister or any member of the Parliament. I believe that the death penalty should be retained for a murder committed in the course of or furtherance of any seditious conspiracy. During recent years there have been instances of crimes relating to aircraft and terrorism relating to aircraft. This country has been fortunate that there have been few instances of that, but I suggest that the demands of the community will not be met sufficiently if the death penalty is removed from our statutes. Remember that the Black September Movement proudly stated that it organised crimes relating to aircraft. I believe that the death penalty should be retained for the killing of a person protected by the Geneva Convention. The premeditated murder of the Head of State of a friendly country is one offence for which we certainly should retain the penalty. I believe that the death penalty should apply for crimes that relate to small, defenceless children who may have been kidnapped and assaulted violently or murdered - crimes which are considered particularly hideous and abhorrent because of the way in which they are perpetrated and the circumstances surrounding them.
There are many supporting arguments, but I make this point: While I face the fact that in the next few months the death penalty will be abolished from Federal statutes due to the fact that there will be no division among the Labor Party - its members will vote on this matter irrespective of their individual thoughts - there is a further argument that an enraged public may demand extreme punishment and that the state has an obligation to carry out the will of society. Without such penalty being available to the state, public confidence in the processes of law to meet a particular crime that may be perpetrated may weaken our society and private revenge may take over. I think that that is a particularly important point. One matter which is of growing concern in our community - it is related to recent comments by President Nixon and deals with a problem which we will face in the future - is this: What are we to do with sane individuals who are purveyors of and traffickers in drugs in our community? If capital punishment remained on the statute book, I believe that it would be a total deterrent to many people from engaging in the trafficking in drugs. Certainly if our society is to be a weak one which says: ‘We will imprison a person or we will fine a person some percentage of their earnings’, which must be an enormous amount in the period of their drug trafficking activities, we will not be meeting the situation correctly. I mention again the fact - it has been mentioned previously so I will not refer to it in detail - that there has been a resurgence of demands for the reintroduction of the death penalty. President Nixon in the United States has requested new crime legislation including restoration of the death penalty for certain crimes. The British Parliament is debating at present a demand for the reintroduction of capital punishment. The Senate has debated this matter on a number of occasions. I note again that it is regrettable that no member of the Government has seen fit to speak on this Bill on which members of the Opposition have expressed their views. I content myself with saying, on behalf of some members of my Party, that I certainly will oppose this Bill and, in the Committee stage, will support the amendments which generally have been agreed to by the Opposition parties.
– It was not my intention to speak in the second reading debate on this Bill. I rejected the opportunity to do so prior to Senator Webster’s being called. But I am prompted by the challenge of Senator Webster to enter this debate. The honourable senator said that no-one on this side of the Senate desired to debate the Bill. Senator Georges replied aptly that the desire of the Government was to secure the passage of the Bill through the Senate.
This is at least the fourth occasion on which the death penalty has been debated by the Senate. On 2 of those occasions, the Senate indicated by its vote that a majority of honourable senators supported the view of the
Australian Labor Party. The first occasion on which I debated the death penalty was in the course of consideration of the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill. That Bill imposed the death penalty not as the result of murder but as the result of an intent to prejudice the safe operation of an aircraft without regard to the life of anyone who may be near, or in, or around that aircraft. Senator Webster related the imposition of the death penalty to the heinous crime of the murder of a head of state or the murder, or the abduction and assault of a young child. In our legislation, the death penalty is imposed for crimes less serious than even the crime of murder.
It is appreciated that the Liberal Party has granted its members a free vote on this matter. Liberal members are not being instructed on how they should vote. Senator Greenwood suggested that this complete freedom was one of the hallmarks of the Liberal Party organisation. As Senator Laucke could inform him, the honourable senator does not know the history of his Party in South Australia where wholesale dismissals from the Liberal Party in South Australia occurred in respect of those who sought to reform the Liberal organisation into a body which they thought would be one with a most progressive outlook. There is no more freedom in that Party than there is in any other political party. The freedom that is granted and exercised on an occasion such as this follows a decision by the members of the Party, or its leaders, to grant such freedom. As is known, if one can take any notice of Press reports, the decision to grant a free vote on this issue was taken against the express wish of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr Snedden).
– Where did you get that idea?
– From the Press.
– You do not believe everything that is in the Press, do you?
– I made my statement on the basis of Press reports that this decision was contrary to the express wish of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. That report has not been denied. I have pointed out that the source of my information may not be reliable. I accept that possibility. I await a contradiction of that report from the Liberal Party, at which time I will acknowledge that what I have said is not the true position.
Following the passage of the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill, the Senate next debated the abolition of the death penalty when it carried a Bill, the specific purpose of which was the removal from the statute of the death penalty. The only method by which the then Government could defeat the Bill was to refer it to a Senate committee. While Senator Greenwood as Attorney-General acknowledged the right of honourable senators to oppose the death penalty, no-one was more persuasive or more determined than was the honourable senator to see that the death penalty was not abolished. Even when the Senate reached the stage of expressing its opinion by voting in favour of that Bill, the legislation was then referred to a Senate committee. The purpose of that action was to defeat endeavours to bring the Bill to a third reading in the Senate.
The first matter that we must consider on the question of the death penalty is that the death penalty sanctions the taking of a human life. If we are opposed to the taking of human life, we are opposed to the death penalty. Senator Greenwood and Senator Webster have said that on some occasions we may not be opposed to the taking of a human life. They refer to instances where a person has reached such a low level of degradation that his life is no longer worth living. When that stage is reached, the taking of that person’s life is justified, according to those honourable senators. But we must consider the lead-up factors which prompt us to seek to justify the taking of the life of an individual. If we believe in the principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, death should be matched by the forfeiting of another life, then I cannot see any difference between the murder of a head of state, the murder of a small child or the murder of someone’s mother-in-law. In each case it is the ending of a human life. Therefore different degrees of guilt cannot be applied to this question.
Senator Greenwood stated by way of interruption that in cases of premeditated murder in which the person committing the act takes all precautions to see that he is never discovered, but in which he does not consider the penalty if his action does not succeed and he is found to be the murderer, then the death penalty should apply. He refers there to those who act not on emotional grounds or through some specific hatred. These are per sons who, we generally find, reach a point where the action of murder is taken without any consideration of the aftermath of or the penalty for such an act. A person who takes this action in such circumstances acts as the result of an uncontrollable emotion. Senator Greenwood referred to the horrors of the Moors murders in England. Surely the number of the murders, and the mutilations and the tortures associated with those murders, suggest that they were the act of a sick mind rather than a criminal mind and that specific treatment should be given to the individuals concerned. I accept the proposition that figures relating to the incidence of such crimes are not a convincing argument for or against the abolition of the death penalty. I do not think that the penalty imposed in respect of murder acts as a deterrent to any person who, in the circumstances that I have described, decides to commit that crime.
Reference has been made to the individual in Adelaide who made application to the High Court seeking a ruling that the South Australian Government should carry out the death sentence imposed on him by the Supreme Court of South Australia. This person claimed that he held a great affection for his wife and children. He wished his wife to be free to remarry. She maintained an affection for him and, I believe, held certain religious beliefs which meant that she could not remarry while her husband was still alive. This person sought to create circumstances in which his wife could find the freedom to remarry someone worthy of her. He did this because of his love for those who were dear to him. By his action his wife would be able to marry a man who would provide a home and protection for the children. This was something which, because of his sentence, he would not be able to do for some considerable time.
– Order! The time being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the resolution of the Senate this day, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I claim the indulgence of the Senate for a few moments to add a few words to a matter I raised in the debate on a motion for the adjournment of the Senatelast August. Honourable senators may recall that on that occasion 1 produced certain papers in the Senate to show up the defects of a certain motor vehicle. I spoke for about 30 minutes about all the complaints I had received. Recently I had occasion to visit the headquarters of the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd, the company concerned with the matter I raised on that occasion. I have been through all the files forwarded to the company - some 114 complaints if my memory serves me correctly. I want to congratulate the company on the manner in which it processed those complaints and the way that it dealt with them, rather successfully I believe, exceptfor 2 complainants who could not be traced. The complainants who could be traced wen: notified and asked to produce their vehicles. They did so and at the end of 2 months they were asked whether they were satisfied with the way that the company had handled their complaints. A large proportion said that they were satisfied but some were not quite sure. Even those people who said they were satisfied were again contacted in 2 months time and asked if there were any further complaints. If there were further complaints the company took the cars back and fixed them. I believe that the company did all that could have been done in the circumstances to rectify the complaints brought forward by the people I mentioned.
I do not want my remarks tonight to be seen by anyone or any organisation as a general statement from me that I wholeheartedly agree with the attitude of the motor industry in general. I still am particularly perturbed about the fact that the industry is the body that controls the recall of motor vehicles. In this country we have not reached as yet the situation that exists in the United States of America where it is the Government that says whether a car will be recalled. I hope that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) in the present Government will work towards that end. It was rather interesting to see the comments in the Press and the comments by other organisations since I first raised this matter last August. It was very interesting to see the rather extensive report brought down recently by the Australian Automobile Association. I think the report indicated that the consumer is still not happy with the product he is getting at the end of the production line in the motor car industry. I believe that it behoves governments and others to press on in the interests of motor car durability and in the interests of motor car owners and passengers who place their lives at risk every time they get into a motor vehicle - and nowadays, of course, we all use motor vehicles.
– Mr President, as indicated earlier today, in accordance with the offer I made about a week ago, I table the terms and conditions of appointment of Mr Peter Barbour as Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
– Are you tabling them or do you seek leave to incorporate them in Hansard?
– I just wish to table them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions werecirculated:
(Question No. 88)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Mr D. J. Stevens, Director, Commonwealth Radiation Laboratory;
Dr W. J. Gibbs, Director of Meteorology; and
Dr H. D. Rathgeber, Reader, Department of Physics, University of Sydney.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- On Tuesday. 6th March 1973, in response to questions without notice I provided an answer to the honourable senator’s questions: Hansard, pages 142-3, 147, 148.
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice:
Does the Attorney-General uphold the principle enunciated by him on 13th March 1973 when replying to a question asked by Senator Greenwood on Scientology in general or only with regard to particular statutes, that, whilst he did not believe that a particular provision should exist on the statute books, he said ‘while itis there I believe that it should be carried out without discrimination*.
Senator MURPHY - The views I expressed in the Senate on 13th March 1973 (Hansard, pages 344 and 350) speak for themselves. It would be inappropriate to discuss them further in answer to a question on notice.
Dr H. C. COOMBS (Question No. 75)
Senator GREENWOOD asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
November 1967. His appointment as Chairman of the Australian Council for the Arts was also made in November 1967. Dr Coombs was appointed Chairman of the restructured Council on 23rd January 1973, thus continuing his association with the work of promoting the arts in Australia. In addition, Dr Coombs acts as a consultant to the Prime Minister on matters referred to him by the Prime Minister.
Terms of reference:
(Question No. 162)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) 1 refer the honourable senator to my answer to Question No. 190 in the House of Representatives (Hansard, 13th March 1973, page 534).
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The honourable senator should be aware that in accordance with its undertaking to the Australian people at the general election the Government has taken up directly with the French Government the question of the legality of French atmospheric tests in the Pacific. It would not be appropriate or in accordance with practice in such circumstances for the Government to disclose at this stage particulars of the kind sought by the honourable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
What are the specific details of the work program submitted by the Australian Fauna Authorities’ Conference to the recent meeting of State Ministers responsible for wild-life conservation, referred to in the answer to Senate Question No. 132.
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for the Environment and Conservation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Fauna Authorities Conference noted that the report contains 35 recommendations under 7 broad headings, but that some of these recommendations were of more direct interest than others to the Australian Fauna Authorities. Conference, therefore, grouped the recommendations into priority groups for further consideration as follows:
Conference recognised that in addition to its members other State and Commonwealth Authorities would have views on many of the recommendations of the report.
As an indication of its approach the Conference, in considering the recommendations of the interim report on kangaroos i.e. recommendation 20 in the final report, established 3 sub-committees:
Habitat (Convenor Dr. A. A. Burbidge)
Biology (Convenor Dr. H. J. Frith)
Management (Convenor Mr. W. S. Steel).
The secretariat will assist in ensuring that the programme is completed as soon as the Conference work-load will allow.
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Approve the acceptance of tenders and entering into contracts on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia for Works and Services for which requisitions or requests have been received and approved. The authorities are to be exercised in accordance with the Treasury Regulations, Directions and departmental procedures, and are subject to the Conditions that:
The Minister be informed at monthly intervals of:
Issue notices of acceptance and execute contract agreements (Effective 31st January, 1969) on behalf of the Commonwealth subsequent to approvals being given in accordance with the preceding delegation.
Director of Works - Wherever Appointed.
Controller of Works - Tasmania.
Executive Officer (Administration and Finance)Western Australia.
Executive Officer (AdministrationConstruction)Wherever Appointed.
Executive Officer (Design and Construction)South Australia.
Contracts Officers - Wherever Appointed.
Superintendent of Stores- Wherever Appointed.
Executive Officer (Administration) - Tasmania.
Assistant Director-General (Works and Finance) - Head Office.
Controller of Stores-Head Office.
asked the Minister for
Works, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for
Works, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for
Works, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
If the contractor desires to sublet any part or parts of the works, he shall send to the Director of Works a written notice to that effect, and shall slate in such notice the nature and extent of the parts of the works proposed to be sublet and the name of the person proposed as sub-contractor, but unless and until approval is given by the Director of Works the contractor shall not sublet any part of the works.
Any permission to sublet parts of the works shall not discharge the contractor from any liability under this contract, and it shall extend only to the particular matters in respect of which it is given.
The contractor shall not sub-contract the whole of the works. The contractor shall not sub-contract any part of the works unless he has made prior application in writing to the Director of Works giving full particulars of the part ofthe works he wishes to sub-contract and of the proposed subcontractor and he has obtained the written approval of the Director of Works, which approval shall not be reasonably withheld to the application; or he is specifically authorised by the Contract or sub-contract that part of the Works. An approval to sub-contract any part of the works given by the Director of Works in pursuance of sub-clause 9.2 shall not relieve the Contractor from any of his liabilities or obligations under the Contract.
(Question No. 140)
(Question No. 141)
All tenders are opened in a locked room by a Committee consisting of 3 senior officers of the Department. No officer is permitted acccess to the Opening Room except the Director of Works and the Regional Contracts Officer; the latter only for the purpose of handing in tenders which are received while the Committee is in session. Tenders are scheduled in order of price, where the prices are known, with the schedule being endorsed by the Opening Committee in respect of such matters as informalities, compliance with the Conditions of Tendering and submission of data required by the tender documents in respect of each tender received.
Publication of Details
At the conclusion of the opening of tenders, 2 separate lists are prepared as follows:
Appended to each of these schedules is the following statement:
Tenders have been scheduled on the above list in order of price. However, the schedule is not to be taken as an indication as to which tender (if any) will be accepted. The tenders are subject to check of schedules of unit rates, etc. (where applicable) and compliance with the Conditions of Tendering. Tenderers are advised not to enter into any commitments in respect of the above unless formally advised of acceptance.’
Acceptance or Rejection of Tenders
After opening and scheduling, tenders are submitted to senior officers for examination, assessment and recommendation as to acceptance or rejection. Where it is proposed that the lowest tender be rejected, senior officers interview the tenderer and inform him of the Department’s proposal and the reasons for it. The matter is then referred to a Tender Board which consists of 3 senior officers at Regional management level. If the Board concurs in the recommendation to reject a tender, the decision of the Board is conveyed to the tenderer by letter; at the same time, heis informed as to the identity and price of the accepted tender. The details of all tenders accepted are published in the ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ and on the Notice Boards in Regional Offices. (The procedures as to publication of details accords with Treasury Regulations related to this aspect.)
(Question No. 138)
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The contractor shall ensure that all persons employed on the site, whether employees of the contractor or sub-contractors, are paid at rates which are not less than those fixed by any relevant award, determination, judgement or order of any competent court board, commission, or other industrial tribunal and are employed under the conditions prescribed in any such award, determination, judgement or order’.
asked the Minister for
Works, upon notice:
In how many cases, over the last5 years, has a contractor been found (a) not to be paying at least award rates, or (b) not to be complying with award conditions.
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
No records are kept by the Department of Works to permit an accurate answer to cither part of this question.
(Question No. 139)
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - I provide the following reply:
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 61)
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Will the sugar industry, due to changes between the Australian dollar and the US dollar in the past 14 months suffer a 24 per cent reduction in income from sales to the United States of America.
Senator WRIEDT- My colleague, the Minister for Northern Development, has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian sugar industry will not suffer any significant losses as the result of currency realignments since December 1971 on its sales to the United States under the US Sugar Act. The anticipated proceeds from sales to the end of 1974, when the Act is due to expire, are largely protected by forward exchange cover taken out with the Reserve Bank.
– On 7th March. Senator Guilfoyle asked the following question, without notice:
I refer to the statement of the Minister for Transport of 19th February in which he stated that a decision had been taken in principle to have up to 40 per cent of minerals subject to new export contracts carried in Australian ships. He further stated that a policy is being worked out with the ship building industry with the dual aims of rationalisation and provision of the volume of orders necessary for efficient ship building. Will the proposed policy recognise that the efficient and economic performance of export mineral contracts is achieved in ore carriers of 150,000 to 20,000 ton capacity? Will the Minister relate this to the present manufacturing capability of Australian ship builders to ships more in the range of 60,000 tons?
The answer to Senator Guilfoyle’ s question is as follows:
The Minister for Transport is aware of the restrictions imposed on Australian shipyards as regards the size of vessels they can build. This restriction is a direct result of the policies adopted by the previous Government on shipping and shipbuilding.
Had the previous government developed positive policies for shipbuilding, we would have had an industry capable of building ships of the 150,000 ton size, both efficiently and competitively in world terms. Instead, the industry is in the depths of despair.
At the present time, the Australian Government is undertaking an urgent comprehensive review of shipbuilding in Australia. We intend to develop a rationalised and efficient shipbuilding industry.
Part of the impetus for shipbuilding will come from the Government’s proposals for the entry of Australian shipping into the overseas trades. If such policies had been adopted by the previous Government, then Australian built and operated vessels of the 150,000 ton size might have been operating in the bulk trades today.
At the present time there are about forty vessels in the world today of the size quoted by Senator Guilfoyle. These represent about one-thirtieth of the total number of ore carriers. The most common capacity range is 20,000 to 40,000 tons.
As Senator Guilfoyle will appreciate many factors determine the economic size of a vessel for a particular trade. These include the size of the trade involved, depth of water at ports, loading and unloading facilities available etc. In the view of the Minister for Transport the most economic size of bulk carrier appears to be about 120,000 tons for the coastal trades and 150,000 tons for the overseas trades.
Senator Guilfoyle will be interested to know that recently the Minister for Transport approved the importation of two vessels slightly in excess of 100,000 tons for coastal operations. These vessels will be replaced with equivalent Australian tonnage at the Minister’s direction.
– On 29th March, Senator Drake-Brockman, asked the following question, without notice
I undertook to take up with the Minister for Environment and Conservation whether such a letter had been received. The Minister has informed me that the Western Australian Minister for Works and Water Supplies wrote to him on 19th February 1973, concerning the York/Greenhills and Corrigin/Bullaring water supply schemes. The Minister for Environment and Conservation replied to the letter on 3rd April.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator BISHOP- The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Will the Minister make available to the Australian Consumers’ Association reprints emanating from the Defence Standards Laboratories.
Senator BISHOP - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I assume the honourable senator wishes to know if I will make available the results of tests carried out by Defence Standards Laboratories on items of interest to consumers.
Tests by the Defence Standards Laboratories usually relate to quite specific aspects of technical performance, composition, or function against specifications for one consumer. Results frequently are not suitable for general dissemination because the method of collection of samples, the comprehensiveness of the range of products tested, and the range of the tests conducted have not been designed in accordance with accepted consumer product reporting practice.
The Government is giving careful consideration to how information gathered by its laboratories can best be used for the benefit of the community. One of the Government’s responsibilities will be to ensure that the information made available to the public will be meaningful and in accordance with accepted practice.
Reprints of articles which have appeared in scientific and technical journals are of course available.
– On 15th March, Senator Hannan asked the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade a question without notice which can be divided into 4 parts:
– The Minister for Overseas Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
MR E. von DAMKEN: VISA (Question No. 146)
Senator GAIR asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Senator McCLELLAND - The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator McCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The need for an admissions policy has been expressed by responsible organisations concerned with the health of the community. As an example, a leading article in the Medical Journal of Australia on 4th November 1972 contains the following quotation:
The Government agrees with this and has plans for expanding the medical and welfare services which are needed to provide a full range of accommodation and care for the sick and the aged. Meanwhile a nursing home admission policy is needed so that priority in nursing home care and benefits is given to those people who need it most and also so that aged persons who do not need continuous nursing care are not accommodated unnecessarily in nursing homes. It is relevant that the physical and mental condition of a patient often deteriorates once he is admitted to a nursing home, thus reducing the chances of effective rehabilitation. It is far preferable for an old person to live in the community in accommodation most suited to his needs for as long as possible.
Finally, it should be borne in mind by the Senator that the system about which he inquires Is one created by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. The present government has inherited this scheme from that government and because, like that previous government, the present government believes in the need for an effective nursing home admissions policy we have continued the program.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 April 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730410_senate_28_s55/>.