28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr President,I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That in the opinion of the Senate a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Court or Supreme Court justices should be established by the Government to inquire into and report upon -
whether terrorist organisations exist in Australia and, if so, their size, objectives and methods, and whether any of them have a connection with a foreign power or its Australian embassy or consulate;
whether co-operation between the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Commonwealth and State policeis sufficient to ensure effective police investigation of terrorist activity;
whether any amendments are desirable to strengthen the law relating to terrorist activity and politically motivated acts of violence; and
whether the actions of the Attorney-General in entering the Canberra and Melbourne offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation accompanied by Commonwealth police officers was (i) lawful, (ii) necessary and (iii) justified in the public interest.
– I give notice that tomorrowI intend to move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works ‘or investigation and report:
Modernisation of HMA Naval Dockyard - Williamstown, Victoria (Stage 1).
I further give notice that on the next day of sitting I intend to move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report:
Construction of new telephone exchange at Windsor, Victoria.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to restrict increases in prices of certain goods and services resulting from the making of industrial agreements, and for purposes connected therewith.
– Order! My attention has been drawn to the fact that sitting in the gallery on my right is the Right Honourable Lord Willis, Baron of Chislehurst, who is a distinguished member of the House of Lords. On behalf of honourable senators, I welcome him to the Senate.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear!
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does the Minister recall the attacks that were constantly made by the Australian Labor Party on the previous Government about its economic policies? Does he also remember that Labor senators and members claimed repeatedly that they were genuinely concerned about the harmful effects of high inflation? Does the Minister not agree that the present Government’s rate of spending - the Treasurer has estimated the Budget deficit for the first three-quarters of 1972-73 at $ 1, 685m - not only represents extreme irresponsibility but also demonstrates that Labor policies are directly contributing to the present high rate of inflation which his Government professes to deplore?
– We have the wisest and most prudent Treasurer that this Commonwealth has had for the last 23 years. So wise and prudent is the Treasurer that the Australian dollar is becoming recognised as strong throughout the world, and there is an atmosphere of confidence in this country. Immediately the Treasurer assumed his portfolio there came a wave of confidence throughout this community. The unemployment figures started to decline; the business community started to pick up. Everywhere throughout Australia there is an atmosphere of confidence in the policies of the Government and especially in the policies of the Treasurer. I hear complaints by way of interjection, not from the honourable senator in the Country Party who asked the question but from the other quarter, from honourable senators in the Liberal Party, about some of the measures of caution which the Treasurer has taken. Whatever he might do, he has succeeded in exposing the policies of the previous Government by the wisdom of his approach. The reason for the annoyance of honourable senators opposite is clear: They are annoyed at the success of the Labor Government’s economic policy and at the immediate flush of confidence which it has produced throughout the community.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that at the end of February 1973 the total savings in Australian banks was in excess of $9,000m? Will the Minister agree that current inflation is running at between 6 per cent and 8 per cent? If so, does this mean that between $600m and $800m will have been stolen from the savings of Australians this year? Will the Minister therefore outline to the Senate as soon as possible the Governments detailed plans to put value back into Australia’s diminishing dollar?
– It is clear that there is a worldwide problem of inflation. It is clear that the economic difficulties encountered in countries such as the United States of America, especially in its international relations, have repercussions throughout the rest of the world. It is clear also that the present Labor Administration inherited an economic mess from the previous Government. It was so bad that the people rejected the former Administration. It is clear also that every step has been taken by the present Administration to set the economy in order, and it is being successful in that endeavour. At least we are not facing the problem of an increasing pool of unemployed, of wasted manpower and wasted resources. We are endeavouring to induce productivity. The Treasurer and his advisers are to be commended for the efforts that they are making. I have no doubt that the Treasurer, as he sees fit and in the interests of the community, will let the Parliament know of the steps that are being taken. As the Senate is aware, in relation to the sphere in which I am involved, I am engaged with advisers in certain economic law reforms which will be helpful in aiding consumer protection and in seeing to it that the restrictive trade practices which were allowed to run rife under the previous Government are brought into check. In many ways the present Government is flat out trying to undo the mischief that was created by the previous Government and to make up for the omissions of the previous Administration.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relates to recent statements concerning the future improved relationship of the Federal Government with local government and proposals to both recognise and substantially assist local government in a number of ways - a position which I wholeheartedly endorse and support. As a condition of greater recognition and the granting of assistance to local government by the Federal Government, will the Minister take steps to ensure that to qualify for the benefits proposed, municipal elections be required to come into line with Federal and State elections, and to be based on a compulsory vote of enrolled municipal electors?
– Probably everybody in the community would like to stop the extraordinary number of elections that we have in the sense that the mistiming of them means that we are having House of Representatives and Senate elections separately when probably everyone would prefer to have them together. Probably it would be wise to have State elections held at the same time as Federal elections in order that the policies of the Australian Government and the State governments could be put together to the people so that if, for example, promises were made by a State party it would be seen whether the Federal party was endorsing those promises. The reverse also would be true. As to whether this should be carried down into the area of local government, I would agree with that for the same reason, namely, that it would be much better for the people to be able to get a whole package at the national, State and local government levels in order to ensure that whatever programs they were voting for were co-ordinated and comprehensive. I think that the portion of that relating to the national and State levels is part of Labor Party policy. Certainly, if it is not formally part of it, it has been voiced at various times.
As to compulsory voting, that is a matter which has been in the area of the States for the most part. As to whether what is called compulsory voting but which is not compulsory voting - it is compulsorily placing oneself in a position where, free of any intimidation or pressure, one can decide whether to vote - ought to be universal in Australia,I think that there are perhaps strong reasons why it should be universal. However, that may be a matter for further discussion but at the moment it is perhaps outside the scope of this Senate.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy aware of a statement reported to have been made by a Mr J. Butters, an executive of the Australian Gas Light Co., which suggested that pipes for the proposed national gas pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney would be unloaded at Port Adelaide and transported from there to Gidgealpa? In view of the recent Commonwealth Government decision to take a more intense interest in the construction of this pipeline and the fact that there is a considerable unemployment factor on the waterfront at Port Pirie, will he favourably consider sending the shipping to Port Pirie in order to discharge the cargo and provide further employment opportunities?
– As Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy in this chamber,I have not seen the statement mentioned. The honourable senator is aware that the Government is taking a very keen interest in the establishment of a national pipeline. The last portion of the honourable senator’s question, relating to the diversion of shipping to Port Pirie in connection with the construction of the pipeline,I will refer to my colleague in another place, Mr Connor, for his consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Can we be supplied with any indication as to whether the far-reaching minority report by Senator Keeffe and myself on the preservation of Black Mountain is still under review?
– Concerning the Black Mountain Telecommunications Tower, which was the subject of a minority report by Senator Mulvihill and Senator Keeffe, a paper has been presented to the Cabinet by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation and also by the PostmasterGeneral. The matter is now under consideration by a Cabinet sub-committee. I believe that it will be discussed by Cabinet in the near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the announcement that exporting secondary industries are to receive compensation for any loss they may have suffered through revaluation of the Australian dollar, will the Treasurer give further consideration to providing similar compensation for exporting primary industries?
– I will pass on that question to the Treasurer for his considered answer.
-I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. In the event of the 1973 touring Queensland Rugby League footballers playing against a New South Wales country 13 at Seiffert Oval, Queanbeyan, will he endeavour to have this important game televised?
– As one who used to play the gentlemanly and noble game of Rugby League, I state that while this Government has a political and programming independence policy for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I will nonetheless bring my colleague’s representations to the notice of the Commission to see whether his request can receive favourable and sympathetic consideration. At this stage, I take the opportunity on behalf of myself and, I assume, all honourable senators to congratulate our esteemed colleague, Senator McAuliffe from Queensland, who I understand was elected a life member of the Queensland Rugby League last night.
– Is the Minister for the Media aware that it was reported in the Press this morning that a percentage of the mining royalties in the Northern Territory would be paid to the ‘blacks’. Will he use his influence to ensure that in future the media will not refer to the Aborigines of this nation in such an insulting way?
– 1 have not seen the report referred to by the honourable senator in his question. I did not hear whether it was a report that appeared in a newspaper or was broadcast over radio and television. My responsibility does not cover the area of newspapers. I do not think there is anything wrong with referring to an Australian as a coloured Australian as distinct from a European Australian. We are all Australians and we all should be treated equally.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs although it might well be addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Mr President, I request permission to read extracts from a Western Australian newspaper to preface the question.
– Order! Senator Negus, you know perfectly well that the Standing Orders prevent your giving information in the guise of asking a question. Ask your question.
– All right. In view of the fact that Soviet aid to Indonesia up to 1966 totalled more than $ 1,050m and included much army and naval equipment, is the Australian Government, which has already given Indonesia $53.8m to June this year, plus $10m worth of Sabre jet aircraft - 16 of them all told - and recently more naval patrol vessels
– Order! Senator Negus, what is the question?
– Will the Minister advise why the previous Government agreed to give Indonesia J 69m on a grant basis over 3 years from June 1963? The announcement made at the time by the previous Prime Minister indicated that a large proportion of this advance was to be used for the purchase of naval patrol vessels. Does not the Minister feel that any equipment purchased by Indonesia with this gift from Australia may rot away, just as the previous equipment did? If the report by the ‘New York Times’ is correct, will the Minister examine the situation carefully with a view to withdrawing the offer and using the money so saved to make grants to Australian States to enable them to reduce death taxes paid by Australians by lifting the exemption to $50,000 before tax is imposed? The $69m would be more than sufficient. Will the Minister give the Senate an assurance that before making gifts to other countries in future an investigation will be made of the previous aid which has been given to those countries and how it has been used?
– A number of issues were raised by the honourable senator. In view of the fact that they fall within the sphere of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in some cases and the Treasurer in others, 1 think that it would be not proper for me to answer the question. I will refer it to the relevant Ministers. Perhaps the appropriate way of dealing with it is to ask that it be placed on notice so that a full answer can be given to the honourable senator.
– Is the Acting Minister for Primary Industry aware that a conference of State representatives of the dairy industry will be held in Adelaide on 1st May? Is it proposed that the conference be presented with an ultimatum that quota production proposals be accepted or the bounty or subsidy will be lost? If the subsidy is to be withdrawn, will that loss apply to all States or only to those States which refuse to limit production? What are the reasons for forcing limited production on Victoria when world markets for Australian dairy produce are unlimited and when dairy farmers are confident of selling every pound produced?
– I believe that a conference of representatives of primary industry will be held in Adelaide on 3rd May. It will be attended by representatives of the Department of Primary Industry. I have not heard of any ultimatum to be put to the conference. I think that it will try to sort out some of the. problems of the industry. I will refer the question to the Department of Primary Industry to get an answer. As I am only the Acting Minister for Primary Industry, this is not a matter on which I have full instructions.
– Is it a fact that the Attorney-General is soon to visit France to have talks with the French Government on nuclear tests in the Pacific? Will he convey to the French Government the strong feeling of the Australian people against these tests? Will he indicate what he hopes to achieve by these talks?
– It is a fact that I intend to leave for Paris this weekend to engage in talks with the French on the nuclear tests. I certainly shall convey the feeling of Australians on this matter, although I think it is very apparent already and was apparent last year. What I would trope to achieve by these talks ought to be evident to the honourable senator in view of the statements which have been made on the matter by the present Australian Government and, I think to some extent, by the previous Administration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism and Recreation. At what stage is the legislation that has been announced for the regulation of travel agents? Has any decision been made by the Government as to whether that legislation will be based solely on Federal power or conjointly on a basis of Federal and State power?
– This is a matter for discussion by Cabinet at present. Until Cabinet has considered and discussed the matter in detail, 1 am unable to answer the honourable senator’s question.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 refer to my question of 27th March 1973 dealing with the investment of $347m in property construction and mortgages by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board, ls the Minister aware that the latest report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board shows an increasing investment in the spectulative field of property investment by that organisation? Will the Minister take up with these public bodies the need to curtail such speculative and inflationary investments and suggest that their funds might best be made available to State, local and semi-government bodies so that the deficiency of community facilities can be overcome, in accordance with Government policy?
– I will refer that question to the Treasurer so that he may be able to discuss with the bodies concerned the matters raised by the honourable senator.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recall that on 17th October last year he had referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade the matter of the high prices of hides and the effect of these high prices on the leather footwear and allied industries? Is he aware that figures published in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ today show that the price of a 35 lb hide has fallen from $17 in November last to $7.80 - a drop of 54 per cent - and that there are now no inquiries for leather from overseas? Has the Minister received any representations from the leather footwear and allied industries indicating that because of the great fall in the price of hides there is an intention to lower the prices of their products?
– Yes, I do remember the motion which I moved and I do recall that I put before the Senate the viewpoint of those who were engaged in the industries and who were concerned about what was happening and the likely injury to the leather and allied trades. I regret that I was not aware of the fall in price to which the honourable senator referred. I have heard no suggestion that the price of anything would be reduced, including the price of leather goods.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to a report from the Industrial Design Council for the South Australian Traffic Board. The report criticises seat belts available in Australia, lt states that a more convenient and comfortable seat belt could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. I ask the Minister: Has the Government been forwarded a copy of this report? If not, will the Government seek one, examine the claims made by the Industrial Design Council and, if they are proved, introduce early legislation designed to reduce Australia’s road accident toll?
– The present Government is greatly interested in the toll on the roads and shortly will bring in a recommendation for the appointment of a parliamentary committee to study this question. I do not know whether the belt of the Industrial Design Council has been received by the Minister for Transport but I shall make inquiries and find out for the honourable senator. While on the question of seat belts, may I say that the Commonwealth car provided for me in Adelaide was without an effective seat belt for 2 days. When the belt was taken for testing the test was done only on the webbing of the strap and not on the buckle. Apparently if you have a collision and the buckle holds, you are safe; there is no guarantee about the attachment of the buckles to the seat belt. This particular buckle came off when someone lent over to ash a cigarette, so there is still a lot to be provided so far as the safety of seat belts is concerned. However, I will have inquiries made.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral confirm the recent statement of the Prime Minister that Chinese nuclear fallout over Australia is one-tenth of the French fallout over this country?
– I think that that question, which deals with a technical matter, ought to be placed on notice for a full answer to be given.
– You should know before you go at the weekend.
– Can I have an answer by tomorrow?
– The question ought to be placed on the notice paper so that a full answer can be given to the honourable senator. Opposition senators who are interjecting may think that answers to such questions should be given without reference to experts who can authenticate the answers. I think that in the interests of the Senate a full and proper answer should be given to the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. To what point have negotiations or discussions proceeded in respect of reported proposals that one commercial television station licence in each of the capital cities may be withdrawn? Were the proposals motivated by adverse economic pressures on the stations? Are they desired by the commercial television industry? Is it, instead, the desire of the Government to make way for increased governmental involvement in television?
– It is the policy of the Australian Government to ensure that the dual system of national and commercial television shall be maintained and be available to all citizens of this country. I think I mentioned to Senator Laucke earlier in the session that the suggestion that one of the commercial station licences in each capital city should be withdrawn came from an overwhelming number of commercial capital city licensees who met me in my Sydney office on Monday, 5th February.I will be having further discussions with the same licensees next Monday. As a result of seeking more information from them and having been able to acquire more information myself, I am hoping that the Government’s decision on this aspect will be much more firm after next Monday. As to whether it is the desire of the Australian Government to make more stations available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the honourable senator will be aware that the Minister for Education has established a committee of inquiry to investigate the feasibility and practicability of establishing an open university. We will await the outcome of that committee’s deliberations. One of the great difficulties in this regard at the present time, as the honourable senator will understand, is the lack of frequencies that are available for the further development of radio and television. This evening I will be discussing this matter with the PostmasterGeneral, with officers of his Department and with officers of my Department.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it not a fact that because of the terrific spurt in inflation over the past 2 or 3 months itis proposed to implement a prices and incomes freeze by what must be an unwieldy application of joint Commonwealth and State powers? Is it not a fact also that the Commonwealth Government itself is stoking the fires of inflation by its consistent support of an increase in money wages which is the most potent inflationary element unless accompanied by increases in production and services rendered? I ask the Minister: If this prices and incomes freeze eventuates in this fashion, will it not be necessary for the Government to desist from the inflationary actions which it has undertaken over the past 2 or 3 months since it assumed office while the freeze is in operation - that is, if it eventuates?
– Anything that the present Administration does certainly would not be unwieldy. Anything that is done in cooperation with the States in relation to inflation or economic measures no doubt would be the most prudent measures that could be taken. As regards the honourable senator’s remarks about increases in wages, in the last few months the incomes of certain people have been increased. The incomes of honourable senators in this chamber have been increased, and I did not notice any vociferous protests against that action by the honourable senator. 1 see no reason to take the view that increases which have been granted to other members of the community who are in a far more difficult position should be regarded as the cause of economic ills: rather, we should endeavour to increase productivity and we should be endeavouring to combat inflation. I am sure that if the honourable senator uses his efforts to come in support behind the Australian Government, particularly if it is acting in any way in cooperation with any or all of the State governments, his support will be welcomed, and co-operatively we might do whatever can be done by government to combat inflation and have the wealth of this community distributed more evenly.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Attorney-General and the principal constitutional law officer of the Commonwealth. 1 ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a report in this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ reporting the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, as follows:
No vote, no resolution in any place other than this House-
Meaning the House of Representatives - has any effect whatsoever as to the fate of governments. . .
Will the Minister ascertain whether the Prime Minister has been correctly reported? If so, will he arrange to let the Prime Minister have a copy of the Australian Constitution?
– The answer to both questions is no.
– I call Senator Maunsell.
– Mr President, could I make a mild protest?
– What is the mild protest?
– I can see the point of your calling honourable senators from ne Opposition benches before allowing a Government senator to ask a question.
– No, that is not so.
– Could I make the point that it is most unreasonable for me to be getting to my feet continually seeking your attention only to find myself being ignored in favour of the Opposition? I would suggest, Mr President, that you ought to consider not only the number of questions asked on any one day but also the number of questions which an honourable senator has asked during the previous 2 or 3 weeks. If you had considered that you would have realised that I have not been on my feet very often. This will be only the third question that I have asked this session. I would have thought that you should take that into consideration.
– It would be a very bold President who would not acknowledge you, Senator Georges. I would be the least of those presidents who would disregard your needs and protests. In the past I have made it clear to honourable senators that I try to give every honourable senator an opportunity to ask one question. Senator Georges, when I have done that I will call you and you may ask a half a dozen questions if you like.
– If I may speak to that-
– No, you may not.
– If I may, this would mean that the Opposition could frustrate my attempt to ask a second question - to which I am entitled - by all standing and seeking your attention. That means that I could be here for half an hour before I would be entitled to ask my second question.
- Senator Georges, I have taken your protest under notice. I realise that you are in a process of gestation or something or other and I will try to provide you with some relief in a moment. I call Senator Maunsell.
– Will the Acting Minister for Primary Industry bring to the notice of his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry the unanimous decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference that the limited sale of merino rams should be continued but that if a referendum is to be held it should be confined to merino breeders only? Will the Minister also convey to his colleague the absurd situation of giving a vote to the breeders of polwarth, zenith and corriedale sheep as they have a vested interest in maintaining the embargo, the reason being that such breeders are able to export rams which, because of their close relationship to merinos, are able to command high prices while the ban exists?
– The answer is no, I will not bring tt to the notice of the Minister. He already knows the decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The fact is that the Government has taken an attitude in accordance with Labor policy to have a referendum of those who are involved in the wool industry. Those who produce and sell wool have a vital interest in whether the export of the rams is permitted.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, relates to royalties paid by mining companies to the Aboriginal Trust Fund. Yesterday it was reported that the Government had decided that 10 per cent of such royalties will go directly to the Aboriginal communities involved. I ask the Minister: What arrangements are envisaged in the communities involved for the allocation of these royalties? What local administrative facilities will be established to deal with this expenditure? Is such local expenditure accountable to the Aboriginal Trust Fund?
– I know of the decision in relation to the payment which is in trust. It will be utilised for the Aboriginal community involved. I do not know the exact details but I shall find out and let the honourable senator know.
– My question contains a plea to the Leader of the Government in the Senate to restore one of the rights of hon ourable senators. Perhaps Senator Georges could have withheld his tears until this question was answered. I ask the Leader of the Government: Is it not traditional in the Australian Parliament that, following a general election for the House of Representatives, there is a debate entitled the AddressinReply debate which gives all honourable senators the opportunity to address the Senate on any subject desired? Is it not customary for this debate to proceed and to be completed with as little interruption as possible? Will the Leader of the Government state why tradition has been trampled so blatantly in recent weeks, depriving honourable senators of their democratic right to address the Senate? Does the Leader of the Government think that action on his part this session to delay the debate is in the interests of open government? When is it anticipated that the Address-in-Reply debate, which was adjourned on 1 5th March, will be completed as was done several weeks ago in the House of Representatives, which has twice the number of honourable members.
– The complaint by the honourable senator probably has some substance to it. It is traditional to complete the Address-in-Reply debate fairly expeditiously. As to the reasons for the delay on this occasion I can say that some of them may have been frivolous and some of them may have been worse than that. I could probably use lots of words to describe the reasons why the debate has not been concluded, but to do so could result in further unnecessary disputation, especially if I were to go through the various reasons why the Opposition has so conducted itself as to delay the Senate’s dealing with this matter.
Honourable senators may be interested to learn that the Parliament has an extremely heavy legislative program. Apart from the measures which have been introduced into the Senate directly, I think that something like 46 Bills already have been introduced into the House of Representatives and it is expected that a considerable number of others will be introduced. The position may be reached where something like 70 to 90 Bills will have been introduced into the House of Representatives. That will result in an extremely heavy legislative program which is scheduled to be completed by the end of next month. My understanding is that after the next break the
House of Representatives intends to sit continuously for a number of weeks - that is, for more than the normal 3 weeks - and that the extremely heavy legislative program before it will be added to by some measures still to be introduced directly into the Senate. To deal with all this business will require a great deal of co-operation by all honourable senators. I hope to be able to get the Address-in-Reply debate completed expeditiously.
There are some measures which it is necessary, in the interests of the proper working of administrative procedures to get through the Parliament expeditiously. That is why, for example, the Loan Bill 1973 is Order of the Day No. 1 on the notice paper. There are also some financial measures which necessarily have to be given precedence. But I hope that we will be able to get through the Address-in-Reply debate. I also hope that honourable senators opposite will be willing to co-operate in the handling of the legislative program so that we will not have to go through the procedure of sitting late nights and extra days.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask: Has the Minister seen reports of the critical situation that has arisen in Cambodia due to increased hostilities in that country? What steps are being taken by the Australian Government to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Cambodia, whose only desire throughout has been one of neutrality and peace?
– I do not know that Australia is taking any steps but I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the appropriate Minister.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I ask: Is it a fact that the International Tin Council has imposed quotas on tin producers and that these quotas have been imposed in Australia through the Department of Minerals and Energy? Is it also a fact that a number of small but longstanding tin producers in Tasmania have applied for quotas but have received no response to their applications? If those are the facts, will the Minister take immediate steps to have the applications dealt with and appropriate quotas granted to those producers as soon as possible?
– I am unaware of the matters raised by the honourable senator. I will refer his question to my colleague in another place for an early reply.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate refers to his proposed visit to Paris at the weekend. Did the Federal Government have presented to it a report by any of its departments of the effect on this country or on any of its citizens of the most recent of the nuclear testing in the Pacific by the French? Does the Leader of the Government intend to take this official report with him to France? Will he make the document available to the Senate?
– I will take with me all of the technical information which is available on the matter. I think the matter of making available to the Senate any technical assessments should be referred to the appropriate Minister.
- Senator Georges,I call you and I offer you an explanation. I had not realised that I had allowed a question to Senator Webster already. I hasten to attend on your semantic delivery now.
– You anticipated my protest, Mr President. While I am on my feet I wish to make another protest. Subsequent to my rising to my feet to attract your attention, Mr President, an honourable senator on the Opposition side who had not risen previously rose and attracted your attention before you noticed me.
– I undertake to reexamine the matter.
– Even though I am the only Government senator wishing to ask a question, Government senators have a right to ask questions, even if questions are being asked by the same person continually.
- Senator Georges, I call on you to ask your question.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for the Media. Will he clear up roy puzzlement in relation to the issue of Dnotices? Will he clarify the position? Will he explain whether he is responsible for the issue of D-notices? ls he responsible for the supervision of D-notices? If he is not, will he explain exactly his position in relation to the issue of these controversial notices?
– The matters which are the subject of Senator George’s question fall within the responsibility of the Minister for Defence. In 1951 the then Menzies Government decided to establish what became known as the D-Notice. Committee, lt is the Defence Press, Broadcasting and Television Committee. It consists of officers of the Department of Defence and the Departments of Navy, Army and Air, plus representatives of most sections, if not all sections, of the Australian Press - newspapers, radio, television, wire services and so on. My attention was drawn last Sunday to an article in that day’s ‘National Review’ in which it was reported that a recent D-notice was issued after consultation with me. In fact, I had nothing to do with the determination of whether a D-notice should be issued. Having considered the matter, the Committee decided that a D-notice should be issued, and then the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, contacted me. 1 understand that the Secretary of the Department of Defence contacted the Secretary of my Department and our consultative advice was sought as to which sections of the Press and the media should be issued with the D-notice. The matter of determining whether a D-notice shall be issued is the responsibility of the Defence Committee to which I have referred and which comes within the responsibility of the Minister for Defence. I am consulted only in an advisory capacity as to the areas to which the notice should be issued.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question refers to the committee system of the Senate of which we are all so proud, particularly in regard to its achievements in the last 2 years. I ask: Can anything be done to facilitate dealing with a number of proposed references that appear on the notice paper, some of which were given as far back as February, and which refer to committees which, although already constituted, have been unable to take any action? These committees have attached to them highly paid and highly efficient staffs who are not able to take action because nothing has been done about the references? In view of the obvious fact that the committee system will fall into some disrepute if this continues, can some action be taken to facilitate dealing with those references?
– Yes, I think that is a reasonable request. I had already had the matter in respect of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, to which the honourable senator is referring, brought to my attention by the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Drury. The relevant matters are about to be considered by the Government and I hope that they will be dealt with. The honourable senator’s suggestion is right. The Committee and its staff ought to be engaged in dealing with matters and I will see whether that can be expedited.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform the Senate whether the seals which he caused to be placed on safes and strong rooms in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s headquarters in Melbourne have been removed and the police guard taken away? If the seals have been removed, when was this done and by whom?
– I thought that this matter had been gone over sufficiently The seals that were referred to, as far as I observed and know, were very temporary tapes. I assume that they were removed on the day on which they were placed there. That is my assumption, anyway, and as far as 1 know that was done. I have not inquired further into it but I certainly think that this is correct.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is he aware that as a consequence of revaluation many persons in Australia in receipt of British service and civilian pensions have had substantial cuts made in those pensions? In dealing with revaluation compensation in other situations, can the problems of British pensioners who have suffered in this way be given the most sympathetic consideration so that, if possible their living standards will be restored to the former level?
– The matter which the honourable senator has raised comes under the responsibilities of both the Minister for Repatriation and the Treasurer. May I say that what is being done is a result of reciprocal arrangements between the 2 countries under which Australia acts as agent for the British authorities. There is as yet, no formal request from the United Kingdom to do anything about them. I will make further inquiries to see what further information I can get for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, and 1 refer him to the statement made last night by the Prime Minister that he is now prepared to hold a special Premiers Conference to discuss with the Premiers the pressing problem of inflation and particularly a prices-income policy. In view of the welcome recognition by the Prime Minister of the problem of inflation and also the belated acknowledgement of the relationship of incomes - wages - to price levels, is the Government prepared to consider re-opening its case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and to change its previous indiscriminate support of whatever proposals the Australian Council of Trade Unions has put up for wage increases?
– The honourable senators question is directed towards what he calls incomes and prices. He then deals with incomes as if they mean wages only. I do not understand how he is able to arrive at that conclusion. I take if from his question that he is opposed to the claims of wags earners who are seeking an increase before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Other than that, I do not think there is much to say. Obviously, the Minister for Labour, who is a very capable minister, not only is in close consultation with the trade union movement but also is involved in healthy discussions with the Treasurer. At all times, he will co-operate, as will the rest of the Government, with the States and with other interested bodies to see to it that there is a healthy economy in combating the problems of inflation, some of which, of course, are international problems and incapable of being solved inside any one country as everyone has come to realise. The Prime Minister will do all he can with those States that are co-operative to deal with this problem. I hope that the Senate will congratulate the Government for the constructive attitude that it has taken in all these areas.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media and refer to my previous question. If material is used in breach of a D-notice, is he required to impose a penalty or a rebuke? If he is not, who is?
– Certainly, it is not within my jurisdiction to impose any penalty for a breach. As I have said, my Department is only an administrative, consultative or advisory department in relation to the issuing of D-notices. The question as to whether D-notices will issue is a matter for the D-Notices Committee established within the Department of Defence. Therefore, the question asked by the honourable senator should be directed to the Minister for Defence.
– Yesterday the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation answered a question I had asked him on 29th March concerning extra Commonwealth funds for extending the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia. I now ask him: Did the request made by the Western Australian Minister for Works and Water Supply include only the York-Greenhills and CorriginBullaring water supply scheme or did it include other schemes as well? What consideration was given to the request? Did the reply that was sent back to the Minister on 3rd April indicate that more funds would be forthcoming to Western Australia?
– Yesterday the honourable senator asked whether the Minister had received correspondence from the Western Australian Government and whether he had failed to acknowledge it. The reply was that he had received it and that on 3rd April he had acknowledged the receipt of it. I do not know what was contained in the correspondence. I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper and obtain a full answer.
– Is the Minister for Works aware that Sydney waterside workers yesterday put a 24-hour ban on the loading of meat onto 2 ships bound for the United States of America and Japan? What action is being taken by the Government to meet this sort: of continuing irresponsible and frustrating attitude towards essential overseas trade? If no action is being taken by the Government, is it because it condones and encourages the watersiders’ stance?
– 1 do not think there has ever been a question of condoning stoppages. The Government’s attitude is intended to try to settle industrial disputes. The stoppage or ban by the Sydney waterside workers is now receiving the attention of the Department of Labour for the purpose of seeking a settlement to the dispute.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. It refers to questions asked earlier this session about the Tasmanian tobacco tax case which is before the High Court. Can the Minister state whether a hearing date for that case has been fixed, whether the Commonwealth has yet sought leave to intervene and whether there are any steps which the Commonwealth can take to assist in effecting the earliest possible hearing of that case which is causing considerable distress to a number of people in Tasmania?
– I cannot answer the first parts of the question. The latter part of the question refers to the expedition with which cases in the High Court are dealt. As the honourable senator would know, the High Court conducts its affairs in its own way. Whilst a party to proceedings can take steps to have a matter expedited if the Court so wishes, it may be more difficult for an intervener to take such steps. Certainly there is a widespread feeling that constitutional matters of great import ought, in the public interest, to be dealt with expeditiously. I will inquire into the matter to see whether I can give the honourable senator any information.
– I take the advice of the Minister for the Media and ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. If material is used by the media in breach of a D notice what penalty is imposed, and by whom?
– Recently I gave to Senator Keeffe an answer on this matter which pointed out, as Senator Douglas McClelland has done, that a D notice is a self-imposed discipline arranged through the agreed representatives of the Press and the Department of Defence. They set the criteria for the D notices. Currently there is a proposition for a review of D notices. As far as I know, the Press representatives have agreed to it. When I get some further information I will let the honourable senator know.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral given urgent attention to the matter of Ivan Mudrinic to whom he referred recently by inference as a suspected Croatian terrorist? In view of the photograph, which I gave his office, from a Yugoslav magazine dated 8th December 1972, which shows Ivan Mudrinic relaxing in Tito’s Belgrade, does not the Minister now agree with the theory of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that Mudrinic is certainly not a Croatian terrorist but is almost certainly a Yugoslav communist agent or an agent provocateur?
– I do not agree with anything that the honourable senator said. I think that the honourable senator asked me a question about this matter yesterday, and I suggested that it be placed on notice. Until some answer is forthcoming from those people who are concerned with these matters I am not able to agree or disagree with any proposition which might come from the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is it not a fact that the only lawful way in which police may enter a person’s home uninvited is pursuant to a search warrant which the law requires shall be granted by a Justice of the Peace only on reasonable grounds being shown that an offence is suspected of having occurred or that material relating to a suspected offence may be on the premises? If that is so, in view of the widespread public concern about, and the increasing amount of information which is coming to hand on, actions taken by the police who entered homes on the morning of 1st April, will the Attorney-General table the warrants and the affidavits on which the warrants were obtained by virtue of which the police made searches in various suburbs of Sydney on that morning?
– Although the honourable senator has asked me a legal question, I think that it is possible to give part of the answer to it. Firstly, the honourable senator asked whether it is possible for premises to be entered uninvited, without a search warrant, and whether entry by search warrant is the only legal way in which premises can be entered. The answer to that, of course, is no. Member’s of the honourable senator’s Party and their colleagues in the Country Party put through this Parliament, over our protests for a number of years, a considerable number of measures which allowed entry to premises without such search warrants. I remember the protests that we made against various rural Bills under the provisions of which homes or properties could be entered and searched without any kind of search warrant being produced. Those Bills provided for that action for all sorts of purposes, even for the most minor of matters including the counting of how many eggs or chickens were on a property. The former Government tore down the principle that a man’s home was his castle and made grave inroads into the position ot persons in our community. It was only after a great deal of protest that the former Government desisted from attempts to enact further such measures, but it still did nothing about the fact that there were some half dozen Acts of Parliament which were drawn to its attention and in which there were these departures from what, we would accept, ought to be the ordinary principle.
The honourable senator suggests that in some way something unlawful was done. He has already made some suggestion - I am not sure what his position is now - that something that I had done was unlawful. He was talking about prosecuting me or taking some action in that respect. Anyway, in fact he has not done that. Now the honourable senator suggests here that some police officers of the State or the Commonwealth have committed some illegality. He well knows that, if any illegality has been committed by such police officers, if in some way they have acted without lawfull authority or excuse, remedies are provided under the law to meet that position. If what the honourable senator alleges has occurred - that is, that in some way the rights of some citizen have been infringed - ample remedies are available within the law for those rights to be vindicated. I suggest to the honourable senator that he tender to those persons who have approached him his legal advice as to the very ample remedies which exist in the law. I do not propose to assume that some illegality has been committed by police officers; rather do I think that it would be better if the normal processes of the law were pursued by all concerned.
– Having regard to the Attorney-General’s answer to Senator Greenwood, I now ask the Attorney-General whether he suggests that the recent raids on homes were conducted under the dried fruits legislation? Does he approve of midnight searches, without warrants, of Australian homes?
– That did not happen.
– Yes, it did. Does the Minister recall that it is now more than 2 weeks since I asked him to investigate the midnight raid - to be precise, it was at 3.35 a.m. - by Commonwealth Police without a search warrant, and probably accompanied by a member of the Yugoslav secret police, upon the home of Franjo Till of Narrabundah? I ask the Minister why he has presented no report to the Senate following my question more than 2 weeks ago, as all Australians, not only the migrant community, are concerned about this type of activity?
– I leave aside the frivolous part of the honourable senator’s question. He asked about a particular incident. I had the answer with me in the Senate yesterday. A report has been obtained, but I do not seem to have it handy now. It answers in some detail what was suggested by the honourable senator. The report supplied to me does not accord with the allegations which he made. I do not have the report at hand, but I will endeavour to obtain it and perhaps table it in the course of the day
– I preface my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by referring to dialogue that I had with his predecessor last year about expanding the use of canine detectors to catch drug smugglers. Does the Minister propose to increase the number of labradors and other dogs used in this field, particularly in view of the opinions of the South Australian Commissioner of Police who is a known canine authority?
– I have no doubt that this important example of co-operation between the species will be taken as far as it can be taken by those responsible for detecting drug smugglers, especially smugglers of the hard drugs. We are all aware of the importance of preventing traffic in drugs which are destructive to the human personality and to the human physical make-up. I have no doubt that the officers concerned are doing whatever they can. I see Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson sitting opposite. He, having been responsible for some considerable time for the administration of the Health Department will be aware of the serious way in which the departmental officers view this task. 1 assure the honourable senator that they use every proper means at their disposal to detect the offences.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General in response to his last reply about the tabling of search warrants and the affidavits on which the warrants were obtained. If individuals desire to assert their legal rights, how can they otherwise obtain information on what is contained in the warrants except by having those documents produced to them. To facilitate the exercise of individual rights if they think an injustice has been done, I ask again: Will the Attorney-General table the warrants and affidavit material upon which the warrants were obtained?
– I will give some thought to it if the honourable senator presses this matter.
– How many questions do I have to ask for it to be regarded as pressing?
– I said that I would give some consideration to it. My disposition would be that the obvious answer to the ques tion would be no; that such documents ought not to be tabled. I indicated to the honourable senator that there are remedies available in the law which might be pursued. This is a matter which the persons concerned might well be able to take up outside this chamber. The honourable senator does not suggest otherwise than what I have put, namely, that if any wrong has been done to any person there are ample remedies in the law. I do not see that what he suggests is a proper course. However, as he has asked the question a second time I will consider it further but at this stage I would think that the clear and obvious answer is that it ought not be done.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. Have the procedures relating to Commonwealth warrants to search premises been varied during the period that he has held office as Attorney-General? I refer him to a statement issued by the Commissioner of Commonwealth Police Mr J. M. Davis, on 1st April 1973 and ask: Is it not true that the Commissioner of Commonwealth Police, Mr Davis, said in Canberra on that day that early that morning a large squad of Commonwealth and State police made an extensive search of 68 separate premises in the Sydney-Wollongong area. Did not the Commissioner say that he and the New South Wales Commissioner, Mr F. Hanson, authorised 130 Commonwealth and 130 New South Wales police to conduct the searches under warrants issued under Commonwealth and State law? Did not the Commissioner say that during the searches documents, explosives and weapons were seized by police and that some persons were being questioned? Did not Commissioner Davis say that for some time the New South Wales and Commonwealth police had been conducting joint inquiries into the existence and activities of Croatian extremist organisations which have had overseas connections and that considerable information concerning the nature and membership of these organisations had been uncovered following investigations into the bombings in the Sydney area in September last year?
– Without being certain in detail, I believe that statements to that effect were made by the Commissioner of Commonwealth Police, and I thank the honourable senator for informing the Senate of them.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, refers to the answer which earlier he gave to Senator Greenwood who said that certain rural industry marketing legislation still contains provisions for the right of entry and search without warrant. 1 now ask the AttorneyGeneral: Will he undertake to see that any of the Acts which still contain that type of provision are altered to contain the provision as to the obtaining of warrants which was placed into that type of legislation by the previous Government during the last 2 or 3 years?
– 1 think that the legislation ought to be rectified, but 1 think that as a matter of justice it ought to be indicated that the changes were made by the Parliament. The previous Government had to be pushed very hard in the first instance by the then Opposition, the Australian Labor Party, and 1 will concede that honourable senators who are now in Opposition joined vigorously in that struggle when they realised the importance of it. I would like to see those provisions taken out of the law. 1 will draw them to the attention of the Minister who is technically responsible for this matter - I think it is the Minister for Primary Industry. The provisions ought to be removed, but I do not know how soon it can be done. There is a heavy legislative program. The services of the Parliamentary Counsel already are heavily engaged, and I do not know whether these provisions can be removed soon. But I will send that message. Also I would thank the honourable senator to remind the Government if we show any undue delay in having the provisions removed.
– Mr Deputy President. 1 suggest that further questions without notice be placed on the notice paper.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the text of a report from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on breaches of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s advertising time standards by broadcasting and television stations for the month ended 31st March 1973. I seek leave to make a brief statement relating to this report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDHonourable senators may be aware that at the end of January and in early February [ received reports from the Broadcasting Control Board indicating that serious breaches of the Board’s standards on advertising time had been detected by the Board’s monitoring of the programs of 2 metropolitan television stations. The action I took in dealing with these breaches has been made public. Each station was informed that I had considered suspending the licence of the company concerned and each gave assurances that steps would be taken to ensure that no further breaches occurred in future. Shortly before I had received the Board’s reports on these 2 cases, I had issued a public warning that blatant excesses in over-commercialisation by radio and television stations would not be tolerated by this Government. Following the action I took on the 2 breaches drawn to my attention, I outlined to the Cabinet the circumstances of these breaches and the extent of the problem involved. Cabinet, at its meeting on 20th February last, authorised me to take action for the suspension of the licence of any company involved should further blatant breaches of the Board’s standards be detected.
On 21st February I sent a message to the Chairman of the Broadcasting Control Board requesting him to inform all radio and television stations that no further warnings would be issued by me on this matter and that I had Cabinet backing for action against any blatant offences. On that day I also conveyed to the Board a request that the Board provide me with regular monthly reports on any breaches of this kind detected by the Board’s monitoring service. I have since indicated in correspondence with the Broadcasting Control Board that the monthly reports I was requesting from them for tabling in this Parliament should cover, not merely instances of blatant excesses, but also instances of breaches which have been detected but for which there may be some reasonable excuse given. The first of these monthly reports has now been provided to me by the Control Board and I offer it to the Senate for its consideration.
I point out, in offering this report, that the Board has taken a number of points into consideration. These are, firstly, that last minute program changes to cover unforeseen situations, such as news flashes, can result in advertising schedules for a particular clock hour spilling over into the next; secondly, that there is a distinction between advertising, program and station promotions, community service announcements and the like; thirdly, that the application of the provisions of the standards allow averaging to be applied to a limited extent in adjacent hours in certain circumstances, and, finally, that institutional credits, prize listings in contests, shopping guides providing a form of service to the public, and mixtures of entertaining patter and sales messages all may, in some circumstances, count - in part at least - as a form of advertising, while also constituting program content.
The report I am presenting, takes account of these factors. It refers in particular to 2 breaches detected by the Broadcasting Control Board during March - one by a radio station, the other by a television station. In each case the Board has reported on the action it has taken in following up the reported breaches. I should point out to honourable senators that the cases mentioned by the Board are not necessarily the only breaches which occurred within this period. They are breaches detected by the Board’s monitoring service and that monitoring service cannot cover all radio and television programs for 24 hours of the day and 7 days of the week. I understand the Board is currently in the process of seeking additional monitoring staff to increase the service it provides for the ultimate benefit of the Australian public. I would like to make it known that I have offered the Board any support I can give on this request for essential staff.
Meanwhile, I should also make it clear that, in the course of the last month or so, we have seen a remarkable improvement in the degree of compliance by radio and television stations with the standards laid down by the Control Board in this area. The month of March has shown an unprecedented improvement in this area. It has also led, I think, to a better understanding by stations of what is required from them in this area.
The Broadcasting Control Board has informed me separately from this report that it has had a large number of requests in recent weeks from stations seeking advice from the Board as to how the standards may best be complied with and the public better served. One television station in Melbourne, for example, has been given considerable assistance and advice on the complex problems of containing excessive advertising content in a program which had built a large part of its entertainment around advertising content. I refer, of course, to The Graham Kennedy Show’. In spite of reports to the contrary, the Board has not taken action to ban this program. It has, on the contrary, gone to a great deal of trouble to co-operate with the station concerned to see that some understanding should be reached on the complex problems of defining advertising matter in this context. I would think this is an excellent example of sensible and reasonable action by the Board and its officers in attempting in a reasonable way to sort out a difficult problem by co-operative effort. I trust the cooperation will be maintained, and that the station concerned will, by continuing to seek the Board’s advice, keep its advertising within reasonable limits while still maintaining the program’s special attraction for viewers.
It is in this context that I want to inform the Senate that I do not consider that any action needs to be taken by me against the radio station 3GL which is mentioned in this first report. The breaches reported occurred because the advertising concerned was inserted ‘live’ by an announcer who was ‘adlibbing’. I understand the breaches will not recur because future advertisements will be recorded and carefully timed. The Board has also indicated to me that station 3GL has an almost impeccable history of compliance with the Board’s standards in this respect. As to the television station mentioned in the Board’s report - station GTS in South Australia - I refer honourable senators to the text of the Broadcasting Control Board’s remarks on the breaches observed. The Board reports in part that it has been informed that the breaches were the result of an inexperienced employee being engaged on extra duties’. It goes on to add that the station ‘has given an undertaking that breaches will not occur again’ and it concludes with a recommendation that no further action should be taken.
Mr Deputy President, no Minister with a responsibility to the public can be happy with a situation in which a supposedly inexperienced employee is given responsibility for control over areas as important to the public as are the control areas of a television station. In the circumstances, however, I accept the recommendation of the Broadcasting Control Board, in the hope that this Government’s policy of giving a public airing to a report such as this will in itself serve as a public sanction for the station concerned. I am also confident that this report - the first of many - will stand as further evidence that Australia now has a Government which is prepared to give real weight to the interests of the public as well as those of licencees and advertisers in the fields of radio and television broadcasting.
– by leave - I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I do so in order to enable the Senate to debate the statement and the report at a later stage. Perhaps this matter ought to be brought on for debate after honourable senators have had an opportunity to consider what is contained in the report. I would also like to make a couple of comments about the remarks of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). I can understand the Minister’s eagerness to enforce the Broadcasting and Television Act. It is all very well to try to force strict compliance with the Act and to be critical of a radio or television station for engaging an inexperienced employee on extra duties, but it is also important to ensure that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board acts reasonably in such matters. We do not want to get into the situation where the Minister or members of the Broadcasting Control Board who have never had actual administrative or commercial experience of attempting to run a business enterprise become hypercritical.
– The Chairman of the Board was at one time the manager of a commercial radio station.
– Thar may be so, but I just want to make certain that that situation does not arise. It is all very well to sit back and be an armchair critic when one does not have the actual responsibility of running the show. I can understand the Minister’s eagerness to do his duty. I congratulate him on the way he is tackling his job but I do think that the report ought be given a careful study by the Senate. For that reason, I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report by Professor A. H. Pollard on the inquiry into superannuation pension updating.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual reports for 1971-72 of the following Department of Supply research and development establishments:
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The amendment contained in the Bill now before the Senate makes provision for beer produced in the home for non-commercial purposes to be exempt from excise duty. Over recent years there has been an upsurge in public interest in home brewing but persons pursuing this hobby have had either to restrict the strength of the beverages they brewed so that they did not contain more than 1.15 per cent by volume of alcohol or take out a licence to manufacture beer and pay excise duty on the quantity produced. The Government feels that the provisions in the existing legislation are unduly restrictive where only small quantities of beer are produced for personal consumption and not for sale. The decision to remove these restrictions will bring Australia into line with Great Britain and New Zealand where home brewing has been permitted for many years. The opportunity has also been taken to redraft the definition of beer to align it more closely with modern brewing methods. A summary of the change is being circulated to honourable senators. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
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, which is complementary to the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) I have just introduced, will amend the Excise Act 1901-1972 to provide penal provisions for breaches of the concession permitting the home brewing of beer. The amendments provide for the forfeiture of beer on which duty has not been paid that is sold or offered for sale, and for a pecuniary penalty for persons who contravene the concession. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) 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 seeks the approval of Parliament to the provision of a guarantee by the Commonwealth for a borrowing in various currencies equivalent to$US9.8m -$A6.9m - by the Administration of Papua New Guinea from the Asian Development Bank. The proceeds of the loan will assist in financing a highways project in Papua New Guinea. The project was appraised by a team of experts from the Bank in September 1972 and consists of the upgrading, realignment and sealing of 75 miles of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Waterais; the upgrading and new construction of 62.5 miles of the Hiritano High way between Port Moresby and Bereina; and the provision of consultancy services for detailed engineering design and construction supervision of both roads.
The Highlands Highway between Lae and Goroka was completed as a gravel surfaced road in 1965 and is the only access road to the Highlands area which contains almost half the total population of Papua New Guinea. By reducing transport costs to the port of Lae the proposed new work on this highway is expected to provide further impetus to the economic development of the area. The Hiritano Highway extends west parallel to the coast from Port Moresby. The project involves the upgrading of 30.5 miles of existing road and new construction of 32 miles of road between the Veimauri River and Bereina, thus providing for the first time road access to Port Moresby from the fertile Mekeo area. The road link will substantially assist the development of the area and facilitate the supply of fresh foods for the Port Moresby market.
The loan is the second which the Asian Development Bank has made to the Administration since the admission of Papua New Guinea to membership of the Bank in April 1971. The first loan of$US4.5m was for relending to the Papua New Guinea Development Bank and the Commonwealth guarantee for that loan was approved by the Papau New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Act 1972. The present loan will be made from the special funds resources of the Bank and will be used to finance the foreign exchange costs of the highways project. The loan carries an interest rate of 3 per cent per annum and will be for a period of24½ years with repayments commencing after 4½ years.
Borrowings by the Papua New Guinea Administration automatically carry a Commonwealth guarantee by virtue of the operation of section 75a of the Papua New Guinea Act 1949-1971. In practice, however, this provision is usually supplemented in some way for borrowings other than those in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The guarantee which is required by the Asian Development Bank from the Commonwealth as a precondition for this loan is in the form of a letter of assurances which is shown as the First Schedule to the Bill. I would mention that at the time of Papua New Guinea’s admission to the Asian Development Bank Australia gave an undertaking to the Bank in accordance with Article 3.3 of the agreement establishing the Bank that, until Papua New Guinea itself assumes responsibility for its own international relations, Australia would be responsible for all obligations that may be incurred by Papua New Guinea by reason of its admission to membership in the Bank and enjoyment of the benefits of such membership.
In addition to guaranteeing the repayment of principal and payment of interest and other charges on the loan until such time as Papua New Guinea assumes responsibility for its own international relations, the letter gives certain other customary assurances required by the Bank. Because these assurances go further than the statutory guarantee already provided under section 75a of the Papua New Guinea Act it is necessary for specific Commonwealth legislation to be passed in order for the assurances to constitute valid and binding obligations of the Commonwealth as required by the Bank.
This Bill authorises the Treasurer to notify the Asian Development Bank that the Commonwealth approves the terms and conditions of the loan and provides that the undertakings in the letter of assurances shall be valid and binding obligations of the Commonwealth when this notification is given. The Bill also provides that payments of principal, interest and of any other charges on the loan will be free from taxation and from any restrictions imposed under Australian law or laws in effect in its Territories. In addition the Bill includes an appropriation of any moneys that may be required by the Commonwealth to make any payments under the guarantee contained in the letter of assurances. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Bishop) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The principal purpose of this Bill is to incorporate in the existing legislation improvements along the lines of those that were provided for in the amendments moved in October last year during the Committee stage of the debate on the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1972. These amendments were moved by Mr Clyde Cameron in another place and by me in the Senate. The amendments embodied the Australian Labor Party’s immediate objectives in relation to this legislation which provides workers’ compensation cover for employees of the Commonwealth and authorities of the Commonwealth. Honourable senators will recall that at that time it was indicated that if a Labor Government were to be elected in December 1972 then a Bill providing for such improvements would be introduced this year. This Bill honours that promise.
Injury’ and ‘Disease’ Provisions
Before going on to outline the main changes which will flow from giving effect to that pre-election promise, I think I should mention here that we are taking this opportunity to remove what is considered by the Government to be a serious anomaly in the present legislation. Under the existing Act, a temporal connection with the employment is sufficient to give an entitlement to compensation in the case of an injury, but it is not sufficient in the case of a disease. The amendments proposed in the Bill will allow cases involving disease to be treated on the same basis as those involving injury. Injury will be defined to include a disease or the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence of a disease and eligibility for compensation will be established if the disease, or the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence, arises out of or in the course of the employment. Though these amendments regarding injury and disease were not included in the amendments moved last year, honourable senators may recall that amendments along similar lines were included in the series of amendments moved in another place on behalf of the Australian Labor Party during the debate on the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1971.
Compensation for Total Incapacity
The major changes which the Government proposes to introduce by this Bill relate to the rates and amounts of compensation payable under the Act. In accordance with our policy that an employee in receipt of compensation should not suffer any loss of earnings, the Bill provides for the weekly compensation payment for total incapacity for work to be increased to the level of the employee’s average weekly earnings, including overtime, in his pre-injury employment. Provision already exists in the Act for the amount representing an employee’s average weekly earnings before the injury to be varied, from time to time, to take into account pay variations which occur after the injury. I will refer later to certain changes in this regard proposed in the Bill, but wish to point out at this stage that the provisions for variation of the amount of the average weekly earnings will have the effect of automatically adjusting weekly compensation payments based on that amount.
Compensation for Partial Incapacity
The Bill retains the principle that the weekly payment for partial incapacity for work should be an amount equal to the difference between the employee’s average weekly earnings in his pre-injury employment and the weekly amount he is earning after the injury. However, the limitation which the existing Act places on the amount of this payment is removed. Furthermore, the Bill proposes that the Commonwealth shall endeavour to provide suitable employment for a partially incapacitated employee and, if such employment is not provided, the employee is to continue to receive weekly payments on the basis of total incapacity.
We consider that it is fair that an obligation should also be placed on the partially incapacitated employee to act reasonably and so the Bill provides that the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation may suspend the weekly payments if the employee unreasonably refuses or fails to accept suitable employment, or to satisfactorily undertake such employment, when it is provided.
Compensation for Death
A major change is proposed in relation to the compensation payable where an injury results in the death of an employee. We propose to replace the existing lump sum payment with a weekly payment related to the average weekly earnings of the deceased employee. Because of this relationship, the weekly payment in a death case will be automatically adjusted from time to time, in line with variations in the rate of pay for the particular employment in which the employee was engaged at the time of the injury which resulted in his death. Under these amendments, a widow will not have to prove dependency if she was living with the employee on a bona fide domestic basis at the date of his death and, for this purpose, she will qualify if she was only temporarily living apart from him, perhaps because he was in hospital or she was merely temporarily away from the family home.
Where there is a widow or a wholly dependent widower and one or more dependent children, or grandchildren, the weekly payment we propose is an amount equal to the full average weekly earnings of the deceased employee. On the other hand, if a widow or a wholly dependent widower is the only dependent, she or he will receive a weekly payment equal to 75 per cent of the deceased employee’s average weekly earnings. In other cases, the weekly payments to persons who were wholly or partly dependent upon the deceased employee are to be determined by the Commissioner, subject to the total of such payments not exceeding the amount of the average weekly earnings of the deceased employee if he leaves 2 or more dependants or 75 per cent of that amount if there is only one dependent.
When he is determining the weekly amount payable for the benefit of a dependant, the Commissioner is to have regard to the need to secure the proper maintenance of the dependant and, where appropriate, the proper education of that dependant. In the case of a dependant other than a widow, a wholly dependent widower or a dependent child or grandchild, the Commissioner is also to have regard to the extent to which the dependant was dependent upon the deceased employee. The Commissioner will have power to vary or cancel the weekly payments payable in death cases to take into account a change in the financial circumstances or needs of a dependant or for any other sufficient reason. The Commissioner will be required to make such a review in cases where there is a widow or wholly dependent widower and one or more dependent children or grandchildren and the widow or widower dies.
Furthermore, a weekly payment being made to a widow or widower will cease upon her or his remarriage. However, in the case of a widow who was wholly or partly dependent upon the deceased employee, or where a widower was wholly dependent upon the deceased employee, a lump sum equivalent to 104 times the weekly payment will be payable.
Average Weekly Earnings
Having outlined the proposals in the Bill concerning compensation payments for total and partial incapacity, and for death, all of which will be related to the employee’s average weekly earnings before the injury. I think I should mention here that several changes are proposed to remove anomalies in the existing provision - section 25 of the principal Act - that specifies how the employee’s average weekly earnings before the injury are to be calculated.
Under the existing Act, allowances of an intermittent nature cannot be taken into account in the calculation of average weekly earnings and clearly it is an anomaly that they be excluded in the context of compensation based on average weekly earnings. The Bill will remedy this. At the same time, it is proposed that the existing average weekly earnings provisions be amended to allow rates of compensation based on the employee’s average weekly earnings before the injury to be proportionately increased in the light of increases in pay resulting from pay increments granted and promotions gained after the date of the injury. Honourable senators will be aware that the existing provisions enabling an employee to receive compensation at the full pay sick leave rate, the repeal of which is provided for in the Bill, allow such pay increases after the injury to be taken into account, ft is also proposed to insert in section 25 a new provision which is designed to ensure that the amount of the average weekly earnings of an employee, and hence weekly compensation based on that amount, will not exceed the amount of the weekly earnings that the employee would receive if he were not incapacitated for work and he was employed either in the employment he was performing when injured or the employment in which he was engaged when last on duty with the Commonwealth, whichever employment has the higher remuneration.
Compensation for Specified Losses
Another significant change relates to lump sum payments for specified losses or injuries. We propose that these lump sums be related to the national average weekly earnings, on a seasonally adjusted basis, per employed male unit as published by the Commonwealth Statistician and this will provide an automatic adjustment at quarterly intervals. The formula in the Bill provides for a maximum lump sum equal to the national average weekly earnings multiplied by 260 and, on the latest published figure, this gives an amount of $26,026 compared with the current maximum of $14,500 in the principal Act.
Certain losses will attract the maximum amount of compensation under this section and others will attract a percentage of that amount. The existing percentages for the latter type of loss have been reviewed and increased. As well, some new losses have been provided for. These are the loss of binocular vision, the loss of the procreative function, bodily disfigurement and the loss of a part of the body or of a faculty not elsewhere provided for in the section.
Under the Bill all losses will be included in the one section - the proposed new section 39 - and the amount calculated in accordance with the formula to which I have referred will become the maximum payable under the section even where multiple losses are involved. At the same time, however, it is proposed that these lump sums will be payable although an employee is totally incapacitated for work and also that they will no longer terminate any entitlement to weekly payments that an employee may have for total or partial incapacity for work.
Lump Sum Redemptions
Under the principal Act an employee who is partially incapacitated may request a lump sum payment in redemption of the Commonwealth liability to make weekly payments for his partial incapacity. The Bill proposes an amendment to the relevant section that will also allow a request for redemption to be made by a totally incapacitated employee who is in receipt of a pension, such as superannuation or defence forces restirements benefits pension, on account of invalidity due to his compensable injury.
The Bill will insert a new section of a beneficial nature for the severely handicapped. This proposed new section will apply only where an employee is totally incapacitated and would remain so permanently but for vocational training provided under the Act. In these circumstances, any earnings by such an employee during or as a result of the vocational training will no longer result in a reduction of his weekly compensation payments.
Reimbursement of Costs
I come now to the question of costs incurred by a claimant in connection with a request to the Commissioner for reconsideration of a determination. At present a claimant cannot claim reimbursement for any such costs he incurs. By comparison, if a claimant institutes proceedings before a compensation tribunal or a prescribed court in relation to a determination and, before the proceedings are completed, the Commissioner varies or revokes the determination so that the proceedings are rendered abortive, then the Commonwealth is liable to reimburse the claimant for any costs reasonably incurred by him in connection with the proceedings. Under a new provision contained in the Bill the Commonwealth will be liable to meet any costs reasonably incurred by a claimant in relation to a determination which is varied or revoked by another determination as a result of a request for reconsideration. The Commonwealth will be liable for such costs when the second determination is more favourable to any claimant whose claim was dealt with by the first determination and also in the case where the second determination is less favourable to a claimant, provided he was not the claimant who made the request for reconsideration. This new provision will apply in relation to costs incurred on or after the date of commencement of the amending legislation.
Honourable senators will appreciate that, with a comprehensive piece of legislation such as the principal Act, the proposed amendments which 1 have already outlined necessitate many minor amendments of a consequential nature. I should mention also that the Parliamentary Counsel has taken this opportunity to include some drafting changes in this Bill.
Amendment of other Act
A further matter which honourable senators might like to note concerns the United States Naval Communication Station (Civilian Employees) Act 1971-72. This is a companion piece of legislation which extends to civilian employees employed by the United States Navy in connection with the Station the terms of the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1971-72. The Bill provides for amendments to the Schedule to the United States Naval Communication Station (Civilian Employees) Act 1971-72 so as to apply to the civilian personnel employed in connection with the Station the amendments to the principal Act that I have outlined.
Application of Amendments
The intention is that the amending legislation will come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent and the Bill provides for the new weekly incapacity payments to apply on and from that date, notwithstanding that the payments relate to an injury sustained before that date. The new weekly payments for death and the new basis of payment in respect of lump sums for specified losses will apply on and from the date of commencement of the amending Act in all cases where the death occurs or the loss is suffered on or after that date, even though the death or the loss may have resulted from an injury sustained before that date. Perhaps I should add that the nev/ provisions relating to disease cases will apply only where a disease is contracted oi the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence of a disease occurs on or after the date of commencement of the amending legislation.
Standard Safety Code
At this stage I think I should remind honourable senators that the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) legislation applies not only to employees of the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities but also to holders of statutory offices, members of Commonwealth authorities, members of committees appointed by the Government and to certain classes of volunteers. When our proposed amendments come into operation all persons covered by this legislation will have the benefits of a workers’ compensation code which will be considerably in advance of the codes applying under the workers’ compensation legislation in the States and this, of course, is in keeping with the Australian Labor Party’s view that the Commonwealth should be the leader in this field.
However, we will not be satisfied simply with this. It is only right and proper that there should be a comprehensive compensation code to cover all workers who are injured. But there is another aspect of this matter of industrial or work injuries to which
I now want to refer and this is the prevention of accidents. We are not convinced that enough attention has been given in the past to the consideration of what can be done to reduce the incidence of accidents. In fact the prevention of industrial accidents and disease is specifically mentioned in the federal platform of the Australian Labor Party. The platform notes that the toil of personal injury is one of the disastrous incidents of social progress that calls for a co-ordinated response from the nation as a whole and goes on to state the objectives of the Australian Labor Party. This is for the Government to act:
When speaking on this legislation in another place, the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) acknowledged that some companies in Australia are doing an excellent job in this sphere. He mentioned the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd as one company which, through a comprehensive accident prevention scheme, has substantially reduced the time lost through accidents at its works, saying that, in fact, over the last 15 years it has reduced the incidence of accidents by no less than 93 per cent. So far as the Commonwealth Public Service is concerned, I know that some work has already been done in connection with accident prevention but I agree with the Minister for Labour that it is time for greater attention to be given to this matter throughout the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service and in its instrumentalities. The Minister for Labour has therefore decided to recommend to Cabinet the establishment of a representative committee to draw up a uniform code of safety standards for adoption by all departments. Once the terms of this new code have been thrashed out and approved by Cabinet, he will ask Cabinet to authorise the setting up of whatever machinery is necessary for enforcement of the new code so as to ensure that all departments will observe the new safety standards. Once we have a standard safety code it may become necessary to extend it to private industry, either through consultation with the States or by providing for it to be included in federal awards. in conclusion I should like to make the point that, while accident prevention is of prime importance, it is also relevant in relation to the improvements in the compensation code provided for in the Bill. It is true that under the proposed new provisions, injured employees will receive much more than they do now under the existing Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act. However, if we can get a worthwhile code of safety standards operating effectively, the net result will be an immense reduction in human suffering caused by avoidable accidents at work and consequently an immense saving in lost production and government expenditure. I commend the Bill to the Senate and trust it will be given a speedy passage.
– The Opposition will wish to participate in debate on this Bill which, while introducing many wide, generous and desirable provisions, is of great significance to the cost of production in that it will undoubtedly spread to other sections of employment and thereby add significantly to the cost of workers compensation policies. However, as I understand that it is not desired to continue the debate this afternoon, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10 April (vide page 957), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) said in his second reading speech, this Bill does not seek to authorise any additional expenditure. Its purpose is to ratify a re-allocation. It is clear that with the acceleration of expenditure there will be in the Consolidated Revenue Fund a substantial excess of expenditure over receipts. At present it is hard to estimate the total quantum of the excess, but the Bill provides for $300m to be transferred to cater for this over-run. The Bill relates to Appropriation Bill (No. 1), which expires in June this year. The total expenditure appropriated in that Bill was $3, 242m. So the Bill deals with a margin of the order of 10 per cent for extra expenditure incurred since that Budget was introduced. Most honourable senators will be aware of the various reasons for that increase. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill, but I would like to make certain brief observations as I deal with it.I could make the observation that the Bill would not have been necessary if the expenditure had been contained within the limits provided for in the 1972-73 Budget and if the expenditure had not been increased fairly considerably.
I have asked the Parliamentary Research Service for some comments on this Bill. I think they may be interesting and useful. They are not very extensive, so they can be dealt with now without there being an extended debate. I made this request: What are the items of over-expenditure expected in 1972-73 which will cause expenditure to exceed receipts in the Consolidated Revenue Fund? That is what the Bill really deals with. The answer was this: Between the August 1972 Budget and 2nd December 1972 the Liberal-Country Party Government entered into new expenditure commitments for $21m, of which $15m was a special advance to New South Wales to assist its budgetary position. The Treasury Information Bulletin for January 1973 estimated that new measures taken by the present Government between 2nd December and the publication of the Bulletin would increase expenditure by $168m in 1972- 73 and by $331m in the full year 1973- 74. The major items were items of social service benefit and pensions, repatriation and unemployment benefits, war service home entitlements and employment creating grants to the States. There were some offsetting items of savings on the abolition of national service and the end of defence aid to South Vietnam. The net situation was an addition of $152m in 1972-73 and $269m in the full year 1973- 74.
A list of the decisions taken to produce this result is available to any honourable senator. I think the decisions have been quoted previously. They appear at pages 2 to 9 of the Treasury Information Bulletin. I will not seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard. There is no point in overloading the Hansard. They establish in quite some detail the areas of excess expenditure, how they are incurred and when they are incurred. I mention this for the sake of historical accuracy because in the past couple of days I have heard references to monetary and economic policies of the present and past governments which bore little relation to reality. While I have not complained about what might be called fundamentally inaccurate statements, I would have done so in due course if this sort of thing had kept up. The figures are there. The Bulletin was published by the Treasury. It was issued in the life of the present Government, and it was authorised by the Government. It was quite specific. The items can be established.
A statement is available to those who are interested - I will not seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard - which shows the Commonwealth’s financial transactions for the 9 months ended 3 1 st March 1 973 compared with the corresponding 9 months ended 31st March 1972. It shows the causes of the increase in expenditure. Fundamentally the Bill is about an increase in expenditure provided in the Budget which has to be financed in a situation in which the law does not permit it to be financed other than by a transfer from the defence fund. In effect it utilises some of the loan money to cover over-expenditure of the revenue. The table can be obtained by anybody who wants to read it. One thing is interesting. Departmental running costs for the 9 months ended 31st March 1972 were $459m in round figures. For the 9 months ended 31st March 1973 they were $511m in round figures. There is an increase in the cost of running departments of $52m in round (figures for the same period of time in corresponding years. In a full year the increase would be at the rate of $70m. It is important for the Senate, which has some concern with expenditures and with the scrutiny of expenditures, to realise that the established figures show an increased cost of running departments, for the 12 months which we will review some time later in this session, of the order of $70m per annum.
I ask myself how often had there been a transfer of amounts from the Loan Fund to the Consolidated Revenue Fund to satisfy the legal position in the budgetary sense. There have been similar transfers in 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971 but not in 1969 and 1972. That is one of the reasons why the Opposition did not feel that it was proper or appropriate to oppose the Bill in any way. When we were in office there was a practice of transferring amounts. That practice is being continued this year. I am adverting to some items of expenditure and some of the detail as to how this expenditure was incurred. I repeat that this information is published by the present Government. The need for a Loan Bill, as stated in the second reading speech, arises from the fact that the Commonwealth has 3 funds. All moneys received by the Commonwealth are credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund or the Trust Fund. The transfer is an accounting procedure which would not be necessary if there were only one Commonwealth fund.
I ask - not for debate today but for later examination of Treasury procedures in total - whether there is not some room for examination of the various ways in which this accounting is carried out. There are always very good reasons why the Treasury does things. I am a substantial admirer of the Treasury as a department, but I would like later, when the opportunity is present, to look at some of the methods by which these transfers are made. It may well be that they could stand an examination and a change. It has been quite a substantial time since the Treasury as such was looked at in an impartial sense. While I have a great admiration and immense respect for that Department, perhaps the time has come to look at some of the methods and some of the styles of doing things. But that can be done later.
An amount is transferred from the defence fund. Under the 1927 financial agreement with the States, the approval of the Loan Council would be needed to transfer any other types of expenditure. That transfer may be usefully examined later. I refer again to the 2 sets of available figures - pages 2 to 9 of the Treasury Information Bulletin which detail the precise amounts of expenditure in excess of the Budget provisions, which amount is necessary to be transferred, and the Commonwealth’sfinancial transactions for the 9 months ended 31st March 1973 compared with its transactions for the same period in the previous year. I commend them to my colleagues in the Senate. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
-I wish to speak only briefly on the Loan Bill 1973 which was introduced in the Senate yesterday afternoon. Members of the Opposition have not had a great deal of time in which to discuss the various aspects of it. To all intents and purposes, its provisions are fairly simple. The previous speaker, Senator Cotton, has indicated, as a result of some research that he made, the actual financial matters associated with this legislation. To me, the purpose of the Bill is significant. Bills of this type do not come before the Senate regularly. A Bill of this type is not presented annually to the Senate. It was some years ago that a Loan Bill was last introduced. I believe that 1966, 1967 and 1968 were the last years in which Bills of a similar nature were presented.
– And in 1971.
– My advice from the Department of the Treasury was to the contrary. The honourable senator may be correct.
– That is the information that the Parliamentary Library gave me. The honourable senator’s information may be more accurate.
-I would be pleased if, in this instance, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), as Minister representing the Treasurer (Mr Crean), would make clear to me the exact situation in relation to this Bill. The wording of the second reading speech is simple. It indicates that, as a deficit is running this year and the moneys that are available in the Consolidated Revenue Fund will be fully expended, it is necessary for the Government to seek money from the Loan Fund for expenditure purposes. Action of this type has occurred in previous years. I had in mind that previously action of this type took place in relation to defence expenditure; that is what the Minister says in the second reading speech. But it was my view that action of this type in other years had taken place in relation to specific defence expenditure. I see instanced in this Bill a change from that normal procedure. I ask the Minister to clear my mind as to whether what is proposed in this Bill represents a change from the precedent in any previous year. The core of the reason why there will be a deficit this year is not-
– I am informed that the procedure is the same.
– I would have been quite pleased if consideration of this matter had been deferred while I investigated the wording of the second reading speeches when Loan Bills were introduced earlier. 1 accept the Minister’s word. 1 take it that the Government indicates that the fact that the Senate will rise tomorrow for some 2 weeks makes it necessary that this Bill be passed by the Senate this week. I will not ask that consideration of the Bill be deferred; I will take the matter up in my own time.
– I have my advisers here. They have indicated to me that the provisions of the Bill aTe the same as those of earlier Bills. That is all I can say.
– Are they exactly the same? Is there no evidence to support the claim that I make that in previous years expenditure from this Fund was related to specific items of defence expenditure? I will proceed. Undoubtedly there is nothing uncommon about this. If the advisers indicate that that is so, I accept that. I endorse the remarks made by Senator Cotton that, if the procedure adopted in this Bill represents the way in which similar legislation was presented in the past, undoubtedly the responsibility lies at the feet of the former Government. If that is the procedure which has been adopted, it would appear to me that the practice ought to be corrected.
What is at the core of the need for this expenditure to come from the Loan Fund? The answer to that question is of great importance. My own view is that the actions of this Government will bring about a most serious situation in relation to expenditure by the Commonwealth. Since the Labor Government took office, a number of new proposals have been introduced. As a member of the Opposition, one matter which is of immense importance to me, as a result of that action, is the way in which Commonwealth expenditure has exceeded Commonwealth income. We read in January that the Treasury reported that the Commonwealth deficit for this financial year was estimated to be approximately $ 1,000m. That represented an increase of almost SO per cent on the deficit which had been estimated by the previous government in respect of its proposed expenditure. To me, that fact is significant.
Perhaps simple accounting or business administration procedures suggest that in view of the inflationary situation that has existed in past years it may be wise for a government to borrow money and to expend that borrowed money. The way in which inflation, in my view, will continue in the future demonstrates that it is very good business for the Government to borrow, whether internationally or from the Australian public, at the ruling rate of interest because it will find that that rate of interest in succeeding years will be exceeded by the annual rate of depreciation of the value of our currency. As a supporter of the former Government, I can proudly say that great responsibility was associated with Commonwealth expenditure incurred by that Government, and great responsibility was exercised in the way in which the inflationary trend or what may be called the deflated value of the Australian dollar was closely held. The change in the political atmosphere now that the Labor Party is in control of national expenditure presents to the present Government a challenge to demonstrate whether it holds the same interest, whether it has the same ability to control Commonwealth expenditure and hence whether in the world situation where inflation exists, it can be marked as a government which is capable of holding inflation in its country at a moderate rate.
The proud record of the previous Government is that it can say that no other country was able to compare its rate of inflation with the delicate rate of inflation which occurred in Australia in its period of office. It must be agreed that from year to year the percentage increase in inflation has varied. But I predict to the people of Australia that the attitude of the present Labor Government to Commonwealth expenditure will result in an escalation of the rate of inflation. At the core of this matter is the fact that the additional funds necessary for Commonwealth expenditure will be borrowed from the public and the lending of funds by Australians to the Commonwealth Government will be a bad proposition because the rate of inflation will exceed the rate of interest they will be paid. That situation will apply not only in respect of Commonwealth borrowings from this source but also in respect of loans by banking institutions. At present, loans by these institutions in general business activity are at an interest rate of Ti per cent. I predict that, before the end of the year, we will find inflation running at a rate of at least 10 per cent. In fact, I believe that the rate of inflation will exceed that. It will not be good business for various sectors of the community to lend money at ruling interest rates, if what I predict does occur. I question whether a policy by which the Government is able to borrow funds from the Australian public, transfer that money to the Loan Fund and then service that loan at a rate of interest which does not equal the rate of inflation is an honest policy to pursue. The socialist Government which is in power now, I believe, is not competent to sum up the present grave situation that this nation faces in respect of inflation.
The policies that we have seen announced and, in some cases, enacted by this Government are most, attractive, perhaps, to certain sectors of the community. This Federal Government is willing to say before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that it does not oppose the very large demands which at present are under consideration by that body for across the board increases in salary levels in the community, as fixed through the national wage case, or to oppose an increase of approximately S13 a week in the minimum wage. It is simple for an employer such as the Commonwealth Government, it not having a great deal of responsibility for where this money is to come from, to say that rises are acceptable to the Public Service. But what shape is private industry in to carry this burden within the next few months? It will be a burden, too, even though the SI 3 increase that has been sought may not be granted.
Consider what has happened in the last 3 or 4 months in regard to demands by unions. Employers have had to grant the salary levels demanded, and margins for the middle man, therefore will have to escalate. I make that point first because I take it that the Commonwealth Government is moving at the moment in this area to get a prices policy operating. It is bringing that suggestion forward at a time when the cost factors affecting the middle man, or even the producer, are far outrunning their ability to turn out a profit in business. How will a person with an average or a stable turnover in a suburban or a national business be able to calculate the return to investors when a cost escalation must be taken into account in order to anticipate the problems of a 35-hour working week?
The Commonwealth Government certainly is not opposing a 35-hour working week. In all areas it is encouraging people to calculate at this time the impact of an additional week’s annual leave which obviously will be granted to all employees. It already has been granted in some areas. The impact of that must be calculated at this moment in order that funds will be in hand at the end of this year. Industry must calculate also the problems associated with the expense of maternity leave and paternity leave. Consider, for example, the Compensation Commonwealth Employees) Bill which was introduced by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop). I dare say that this Commonwealth Labor socialist Government has made no calculation of the total cost of the effect of that Bill on private industry in Australia which is supplying the funds by way of taxation that the Government needs to run affairs. The Government is not concerned with the impact of the Bill now before us which contains an implication of a Commonwealth deficit expenditure of S 1,000m.
This Bill is of extreme importance to the community. A very black picture is painted for private industry as a result of the actions of the Commonwealth Government over the past 3 or 4 months. I admit that we must accept that there has been a change of policy. There may be some policies as a result of Labor gaining office which are for the good.
– All of our policies are for the good.
– I hear words from the fowlhouse. I say that some of the Government’s policies may be for the good. I hope they are spelled out at some stage because the poultry industry at the present time does not think they are too good. The honourable senator might be able to give us a report of what the leaders of that industry think when they have to increase the price of eggs by 10c or 12c to be able even to compete in that field. The honourable senator who brings his knowledge of that industry to this Senate dares to interrupt me again and say that this Government brings in some excellent measures.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! I am sorry to interrupt you, Senator Webster. Senator McLaren, I ask you to allow the honourable senator on his feet to speak uninterrupted. An odd interjection is acceptable but not this constant flow that is coming from you at the present time.
– I acknowledge, Mr Acting Deputy President, that you have a very strong hand when you occupy the Chair. I acknowledge the constant interjections coming from the Government side at present but they do not concern me greatly. However, 1 think the interjections indicate that there is some excitement on the part of Government supporters because some of the things 1 am saying are proving to be true. Again 1 say to members of the Government: Please take into account the effect that your actions are having on private industry. Private industry is one of the larger employers in the Commonwealth and it is an area from which the Government receives the greatest amount in taxation. Unless the Government takes into account the consequences of its actions on private industry it is heading Australia for a grave disaster.
I reiterate that the Bill before us relates to a borrowing from the Loan Fund to meet ordinary expenditure budgeted for previously by the last Government. Specific items of defence expenditure are not being met from the Loan Fund. It was said by the AttorneyGeneral that the normal procedure is being followed. I accept that, and I indicate again that I have not had sufficient time to consider this Bill - it was introduced only in the last 24 hours - and to check what was said in the Minister’s second reading speeches when these matters were last introduced. In fact, it has taken some little time for the people in the Bills and Papers Office to produce the second reading speeches as Bills are introduced. I do not oppose the Bill. It is a very simple Bill on the face of it, but I ask the Government to take into account the consequences of its actions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 7 March (vide page 223), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Acting DEPUTY PRESIDENT- That course will be followed:
– The Opposition will offer no objection to the motion for the second reading of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill and the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill. They are designed to facilitate the extradition procedures which exist between Commonwealth countries and between Australia and foreign countries. I think that the case for improved extradition procedures, to which Senator Murphy referred in his second reading speech, is a case which really brooks no opposition. We are in the position that we must have clear, straightforward and easy to operate extradition procedures.
Where a person commits a crime in this country and seeks to avoid the consequences of that crime by avoiding the jurisdiction, and yet it is known where he can be traced and is located, there should be procedures available to the law enforcement authorities in this country whereby the person can be extradited from the country where he has sought sanctuary and brought back to Australia so that in Australia he can face the courts and meet the charges which are laid against him. Likewise, where a person comes to Australia, having committed a crime in respect of which charges are being laid against him in another country, it is only appropriate that there should be clear procedures under which the Australian authorities can meet the requests for extradition which come from that other country.
– Should there not be a Minister at the table, Senator?
– I am sure that Senator Murphy welcomes the support which the Opposition is giving to this measure and that in due course he will return to the table. It is not simply a matter, as the Opposition sees it - and I think this is conceded in the second reading speech which was delivered in support of these measures - of assisting the criminal administration of a particular country. It is a matter of ensuring that the law-abiding are protected and that those who obey the law receive the acknowledgment and the benefits from society for the fact that they are law-abiding citizens. In short, crime should not be allowed to pay and criminals should not be allowed to take the benefits of their crime overseas and expect there that they will be in a position where they will enjoy the fruit of their wrongdoing. That, I understand, is the essence of all extradition procedures, and it is the core upon which extradition procedures have evolved in this country over the years.
The scheme which operates in Australia and which derives essentially from 1966, is that there are 2 types of extradition procedures. There is the extradition procedure which, as I have indicated, prevails amongst those erstwhile British colonies and dominions which are now Commonwealth countries, and there are also the provisions which apply between Australia and foreign countries. The 1966 Commonwealth Law Ministers Conference arranged that as between Commonwealth countries there would be reciprocal legislation which would give effect to certain principles which were inherent in the original Act - I think it was the Fugitive Offenders Act - so that in the Commonwealth countries there would be a common code of extradition which would enable the means of extradition between Commonwealth countries to be easily and readily facilitated. The reciprocal legislation is at the core of the Commonwealth countries extradition provisions.
We in Australia have passed the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act of 1966 and this, I think, is the third subsequent amendment which development and evolution have indicated is necessary. The provisions of the extradition foreign countries legislation depend not upon reciprocal legislation but essentially upon the treaties which are negotiated between Australia and those other countries which are prepared to enter into extradition arrangements with us. Therefore, they are dependent on the treaty arrangements. This derives from the extradition legislation which the United Kingdom I think commenced in 1870, which was developed by subsequent amendments up to 1935 and which still has some operation in this country insofar as treaty arrangements which were made under that legislation were retained and perpetuated.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to the framework under which the extradition laws of this country have been evolved. The Bills now before the Senate deal, firstly, with amendments to the extradition laws of Commonwealth countries and, secondly, with amendments to our extradition laws with foreign countries. I had been indicating the basic distinction which has developed since Australia initiated its own activity in this area in 1966. As the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has indicated in his second reading speech, the purpose of these Bills is to provide within the framework of the legislation for the acceptance and signature by the Government of certain treaties which have been entered into or which have been prepared for ratification by Australia with a number of countries and to ensure that the legislation permits the type of treaty arrangements which have been agreed upon. At the same time the opportunity has been taken to make amendments of a comparable kind to legislation relating to extradition arrangements with Commonwealth countries.
I was gratified to see that the new Government had accepted the treaty negotiations in relation to extradition arrangements which the previous Government entered into with Germany, Italy, Israel, Austria, Sweden and the United States of America. I know that during my term as Attorney-General some of those treaty negotiations were active and that the procedures which were involved require direction and consideration from time to time. Of course the negotiation of those treaties which, because of their bilateral character, requires the concession by Australia of certain points and matters which have been insisted upon by the other countries necessitates changes to our legislation. I understand that that is fundamentally the reason why these Bills have come forward at this stage.
There are 3 matters which call for consideration. The first is that the Bills which are now before the Senate provide for the extradition provisions to apply to offences which are offences in Australia because of the application of the extra-territorial doctrine. To me it appears to be inevitable and proper that treaty arrangements should provide for extradition to or from Australia of persons who have committed offences which are offences because of their extra-territorial character. But I sound a note of warning. The ambit of extra-territoriality is one which has bedevilled the lawyers in many countries over so many years. In Australia we have experienced this in terms of our offshore seabed legislation. Earlier there have been enormous problems which have excited the interest of the lawyers with regard to the extent to which it can be said that an offence which occurred outside the area of Australia can, nevertheless, be said to be an offence against Australian law.
Once we accept that extradition provisions may apply to offences of that character we may find that Australia is required to extradite to a foreign country a person whose offence is but remotely connected with Australia because the area where it occurred is far removed from the territory which we regard as Australia’s. Likewise, Australia can require the extradition to Australia of a person on a similar basis. I think this is an area which will pose problems at some stage in the future. But I think it is inevitable that we should make the provision. I see no reason why, when the treaty arrangements make this provision, our law should not accommodate it.
The second aspect to which I refer is the fact that the Bills provide for certain offences not to be regarded as offences of a political character. The general principle of extradition law is that a country will not extradite a person who is accused of a political offence and who, in the country to which he is extradited, will suffer punishment because of his political activities. In one way it is curious that this matter is being aired before the Senate when, in recent times, we have had discussion as to the legitimacy or otherwise of the deportation from Australia of persons who may have been convicted of crimes here, or who may have disclosed here a propensity to commit certain crimes, to be dealt with in the country to which they are being deported because of their political activities outside the country with which we are dealing. All I say is that that type of approach is alien to the whole development of our extradition law. It is alien to that development because it is a wellestablished principle that in extradition law a person may not be extradited from a country if he is likely to be dealt with by the requesting country for political offences. The Bills before us provide that if a person is charged with the offence of genocide or - to put it shortly - with the offence of plotting the death or overthrow of the leader of a country, then those offences shall not be regarded as offences of a political character.
– Who would be regarded as the leader of this country? Would it be the Prime Minister or the Governor-General?
- Senator Byrne raises a fine point. It is an area to which 1 have not devoted minute attention. But I would have thought that there is no question that in this situation the Governor-General is the head of the Australian Commonwealth just as the President of the United States of America is head of the United States and the Queen is head of Great Britain. I think customary usage will establish who is the head of a country. But the point I make is that offences of the character which I have mentioned are by this legislation designated as offences which are not of a political character and therefore the ordinary rules as to extradition will apply. Whilst that may appear to be an inroad upon traditional principles nevertheless I think it represents the evolution of a world-wide consensus possibly derived from the feeling that certain crimes ought to have a universal application which will enable persons to be extradited because of the character of the offences which are involved. But whatever may be the motivation or the justification for this approach it is a provision which is contained in each of the Bills, and for my part I see no reason why we should not accept it as a reasonable development in our extradition law.
The third point which is covered in the second reading speech and to which the AttorneyGeneral devoted quite considerable attention is the amelioration of the so-called specialty rule. The specialty rule in extradition law says, in effect, that a person who is extradited from a particular country to the country where he is to be tried for an offence can be tried for that offence and that offence only. If a person is extradited to be charged with the offence of larceny or embezzlement he cannot be put on trial in that country for the charge of murder.
– Has that intimation of what is intended to be prosecuted to be given before the extradition or after the extradition and before the second offence is charged?
– Under the rules as they have applied the request is made by the country which requires extradition specifying the charge upon which the person is to be extradited and setting out the evidence upon which the extradition request is made. Of course, the person extradited is to be dealt with in accordance with the request that has been made. If the offence is larceny, the evidence which is presented to the country in which the person to be extradited is resident will specify the evidence of the charge. It is upon that basis that a magistrate in Australia would be satisfied as to whether the case concerned is an appropriate one for which a person should be extradited. What is involved in the current legislation, as I understand it, is that a person may be extradited to be dealt with in the country requesting extradition for the offence of, for example, larceny but if a subsequent request is made by the extraditing country the Attorney-General of Australia may give his consent to another offence-
– That is after the original extradition has taken place?
– Yes; and, of course, having regard to the fact that the extradition has taken place, the person concerned is resident in the country which originally sought his extradition and whose authorities seek to prosecute him for a further offence. If the Attorney-General is satisfied that it is proper that that person should be dealt with in that country for that additional offence he may give his consent to that being done.
– Certain countries will try him irrespective of whether they get the consent.
– They must get the consent or an undertaking must be given that if consent is not forthcoming that person will not be tried or will be returned to the original country.
– What would that be worth in some countries?
– I accept the general proposition which Senator McManus has put forward that there are some countries which would regard the nature of the undertaking given as being of less weight than other countries would regard it. But that is a matter which concerns the executive government in terms of the treaty arrangements which it makes.
– Has that not always applied in the past?
– No, it has not always applied. At the same time I do not want to suggest that the treaties which have been entered into and the provisions of the legislation work hardship against individuals because there must be an element of trust on the part of the person who has the power to give this consent from time to time. I note from his second reading speech that Senator Murphy, when he went to the Law Ministers Conference in London in January of this year, indicated that this specialty rule, which is a rigid rule, should be dealt with flexibly and that if there is a course of conduct which indicates that an individual has been guilty of for example a series of offences the AttorneyGeneral of the country from which extradition has been requested ought to be prepared to look at the reality and the facts of the situation and concede that the country which sought the extradition ought to have the right, if the evidence is there, to try that individual for an offence. With respect to Senator Murphy, I concur in the general approach which he has adopted because I think it is a realistic approach.
– The honourable senator inferred that an earlier interjection was correct when in fact it was not.
– I am not sure whether I understand what Senator Poyser is saying. Therefore I will not respond to his interjection because by doing so I may give a wrong impression. All I say is that the legislation now before the Senate modifies the somewhat rigid specialty rule of an earlier day. The legislation provides for it to be modified in a way which I think ought to command acceptance. I indicate further that the broader proposition to which Senator Murphy adhered when he was overseas is one which I think carries with it a degree of commonsense and reality which ought to govern the way in which extradition provisions are operated. As I have said, the Opposition sees no reason to object to the second reading of these Bills and will support the motion that they be read a second time. They are part of a continuing process which is above partisan party politics that governments must undertake in order to ensure that appropriate, sensible and flexible extradition provisions are operating between countries where there is a common accord that the resources of those countries will be used to ensure that persons who are to be charged with criminal offences in one of those countries shall have the facilities available to ensure that the criminal law does operate.
Having said that, I must make some comments on the painstaking study I made to apply what I read in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General to the provisions of the legislation and to understand the clauses in terms of what the Attorney-General had said in his second reading speech was the intention of the Bill. I must say that I had great difficulty in doing so. There was, of course, legislation in 1966. There were amendments in 1968. There were further amendments in 1970. There were further amendments in, I think, 1972. Now we have a further Bill. No explanatory notes were available which would enable me readily to determine, what was the effect of the amendments which were made and no indication was given of what was the draftsman’s intention in framing the amendments which were made. I sensed from a perusal of the information available that more amendments were made than were comprehended by the terms of the Attorney-General’s second reading speech. I believe it is important that those honourable senators who feel an obligation upon themselves to understand the provisions of a Bill which is being presented to the Senate should have access to, if not an explanatory memorandum, which is so frequently produced with a complicated amending Bill, at least some explanatory notes on the clauses.
That difficulty was communicated to the Attorney-General. He has very willingly provided me with the necessary material. Unfortunately it did not reach me until after the Senate had resumed the debate on this legislation this afternoon. I suggest that after the legislation has been given a second reading and proceeds to the Committee stage progress should be reported so that I will have an opportunity to examine the explanatory notes which have been provided to me. I suggest that course as a matter of commonsense and to save time. If I am able to avail myself of the opportunity of examining the explanatory notes it may mean that many of the questions which I would otherwise ask may not need to be asked and the matter will go through in due course without any further debate. On the other hand if there are provisions which require some explanation the opportunity of seeking it could be availed of.
I can only say that I am speaking for myself. I do not know whether other honourable senators have experienced the same situation. I do not know whether other honourable senators who have addressed themselves to the clauses of the bill have experienced the difficulties that I experienced. But I do suggest that on future occasions where there are a number of principal Acts to which a number of amendments are to be made the means of facilitating debate certainly would be assisted if an opportunity were to be given to all honourable senators to find out why particular sections are being amended. That is a machinery matter and a machinery matter only. The general principles of the legislation, as indicated by the Attorney-General’s second reading speech, commend themselves to the Opposition and it will support the second reading of this legislation.
– The principles upon which extradition is based are, of course, unexceptional. None of us would want a criminal to escape retribution for his crimes by fleeing to a foreign country. Extradition within the framework of the Commonwealth countries to which Senator Greenwood has referred has worked quite satisfactorily. In normal times and in normal circumstances it would continue to work satisfactorily but we have to face the fact that in some respects we do not live in normal times. I think it is a regrettable coincidence that this legislation relating to extradition comes before the Parliament in an atmosphere which has been created by the events of the past couple of weeks to which I do not intend to refer particularly in the course of this debate. But we have to realise that what has happened - the allegations of terrorism and other allegations which have been made - has inspired in the minds of many Australian citizens and Australian residents of overseas origin a fear that they may be sent back to their country of origin.
I know that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) will disagree that in the case of this Bill there is any intention of doing that kind of thing. I know that the Minister for Immigration, Mr Grassby, has endeavoured to alleviate the fears of these people by suggesting that only in cases which are proved may action be taken. But I believe that it is necessary to point out that the mere mention of extradition or deportation at the present time puts many Australian citizens of overseas origin and many Australian residents of overseas origin into a state of panic. I have been interviewed by some people who have assured me that sooner than be returned to their country of origin they would be prepared to take their own lives. They fear that extradition may be used to take them back to their former country for trial for political purposes or offences. While there is a schedule of offences for which they may be returned, they insist - I think it is a reasonable proposition - that evidence can be manufactured, that it would be very difficult for a man who has come to this country from a country abroad to obtain persons to give evidence in those countries if it is against the wishes of the particular government that he do so. Therefore they feel extremely concerned about issues related to extradition and deportation. I think that we are entitled to try to alleviate their fears.
This matter or a mutter akin to it was discussed on 11th April 1961 when 1 moved the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing the question of the increasing threat to the rights of migrants from communist governed states who desired to live their lives in Australia in security under the rule of law. 1 moved that motion for the adjournment of the Senate because of a number of cases in which communist countries had sought the extradition to within their own boundaries of persons against whom they alleged crimes but against whom they presented no evidence. The particular case concerned was one in which the Soviet Union sought, although it did not have an extradition treaty with Australia, the extradition of Ervin Viks, an Estonian, who pointed out that no evidence had been put forward that he was the guilty person. He was accused of war crimes. He denied” the charge and, furthermore, he denied that he was the Ervin Viks to whom the charges allegedly referred. On investigation of the case Sir Garfield Barwick refused to permit his extradition.
It was revealed that this request was part of an existing pattern. At the same time the Soviet Government had sought the extradition from Great Britain of 2 Estonians, alleging war crimes but giving no evidence. The Government of Great Britain refused their extradition. In the same year, after a legal battle extending over 8 years, the British courts refused the request of the Government of Yugoslavia for the extradition of a Croatian who alleged that he was being brought home to be tried for political crimes. At the same time, I received correspondence from a lawyer from as far away as Iceland who informed me that the Soviet Union had requested the extradition of certain Estonians who were prominent in anti-Soviet activities in that country and that the Government of Iceland also had refused their extradition. Only 6 years before there had been another case in Australia which was brought before the Senate by the late Senator Cole and in which a Yugoslav or a Croat named Rancic was sought for extradition by the Yugoslav Government. The Australian Government, having investigated the case, refused to permit him to be extradited. In that case Australia was able to refuse the request because there was an escape clause that neither Government need necessarily grant extradition if it was sought. But Sir John Latham made a strong comment on the case when he said that although Rancic would remain free there was no guarantee that similar demands by communist countries for extradition of persons resident in Austraia would have such a happy ending.
At that time the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs called upon the Government to take action in regard to the extradition law because it felt considerably concerned over what had happened. The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs made the following statement:
The Australian network of extradition treaties is by no means complete, and the abrogation of our treaties with Communist-controlled countries would not therefore occasion any significant change in our capacity to prevent Australian criminals from escaping punishment by flight abroad; and this is especially true insofar as we could scarcely expect such Communist-controlled countries to perform their reciprocal obligations in good faith, unless it suited their own particular purposes at the time.
The Foreign Affairs Committee therefore recommended that all existing extradition treaties with communist-controlled countries be cancelled and that legislation be enacted to make it clear that no person would be liable to extradition under any treaty made subsequently to the Act if the offence was of a political character or, if the alleged offence was not of a political character, unless it was proved to the satisfaction of the magistrate or court before whom the accused was brought on habeas corpus that the requisition for his surrender had not been made with a view to trying or punishing him for an offence of a political character. The situation in relation to the Australian Government was laid down by Sir Garfield Barwick in these words:
It is the practice of Australia to refuse to surrender an Australian citizen, even if an extradition treaty exists. In the instant case, Mr Viks-
He is the man who was formerly from Estonia - is an Australian citizen, having been naturalised in the year 1957. I should also point out that extradition treaties to which Australia is a party contain a further limitation, namely that no surrender should be made if the crime alleged by the requesting country is a political crime in the international sense in which those words are used.
Then in referring to political crimes Sir Garfield Barwick went on:
This limitation applies to Australian residents as well as to Australian citizens.
Broadly, speaking, crimes of a political character, for the purpose of the extradition system, include crimes committed in the course of conflict between contending political groups or organisations. Breaches of the laws of war committed by commanders in the field would scarcely come under wis heading.
But he pointed to the confusion that can sometimes exist in the law in these matters when he said:
But the position of acts performed in the purported exercise of government authority is doubtful. There are cases in which it has been held that acts so done do not justify extradition under the ordinary treaties and statutes. Partly for this reason special international arrangements and recommendations were made at the conclusion of the World War with respect to the surrender and trial of war criminals.
Of course, in any extradition treaty a government must have regard to the Declaration of Human Rights. Article 10 of that Declaration states:
Everyone is entitled in full equality, to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
The statement by citizens who have come to this country and are opposed to communism is that if they are extradited to a communist country they will not receive a just trial in accordance with the terms of the Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, Article 14 of the Declaration states:
Every one has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
I believe that we in Australia stand for that principle. As I have said before, I do not purport in any way to defend those who may be guilty of crimes and against whom adequate evidence is presented. However, I have the gravest reservations about taking action which can in any way enable a communist country under the guise of seeking to prosecute a man for one of the crimes set out in the schedule, a communist country which can manufacture the evidence without the least difficulty and can then put the man in this country, who has to face up to that evidence, in the position that he has nobody in this country to whom he can turn as a witness and he will be unable to find any witness to appear for him in the communist country because the people there will be afraid of the government. I believe therefore that this kind of legislation should be approached with the utmost care.
I want to quote a statement that was made when the Soviet Government was attempting to extradite people from the Baltic States and Croatia without putting forward any evidence, merely an accusation that they were wanted. Aleksander Kutt, the Chairman of the Committee for a Free Estonia, who was well known throughout the world during the period in which he was representing his country said:
During the eighteen years of Soviet occupation of Estonia the Soviet regime has caused the destruction of about 90,000 Estonians, or 8 per cent of their prewar number in Estonia. Certainly the judiciary of this regime cannot be considered a proper authority for establishing what may or may not have happened in Estonia either under the Soviet or Nazi occupation if justice should prevail.
The present Soviet extradition requests are aimed at terrorising the refugees. Moreover, the present show trials in Estonia of which there are more to come in addition to a recent one this month are quite obviously designed to implant fear in the population of Estonia against any change of the present regime.
He went on to say that those trials, as a result of which the fantastic number of 125,000 persons allegedly had been executed, had been conducted for that purpose.
When I moved this motion calling on the Australian Government to take the strongest possible action against any proposal to extradite an Australian citizen or resident, particularly to a communist country under the circumstances suggested - where no evidence was presented - my motion received strong support from Senator McKenna, a former Attorney-General and, like Senator Murphy, a lawyer of repute. Senator McKenna voiced very strong criticism of the then Government upon one point He said:
Under the present extradition law, a person who has come to our country from another country and who is charged with an ordinary offence - one of those listed in the schedule of the Extradition Act - is compelled to prove that his extradition is not sought in respect of thai crime - it may be quite a fictitious one - but for some political offence for which his accusers abroad want to get him and punish him. He has to prove affirmatively that he is wanted for a political offence. Where is his evidence? How could he ever prove it, with the onus of proof upon him?
Senator McKenna then said that particular attention had been drawn to that point in the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he strongly criticised the Government because it had not legislated to place the onus of proof upon the government which was charging the particular individual and seeking his extradition to his home country. I would be grateful if the Attorney-General would assure my mind on that point. Is the situation in law as stated by Senator McKenna, that the onus of proof is on the person resident here or on the Australian citizen in this country? Or should the onus of proof not be upon the government which has at its command all the resources of a police state, money and everything else that is needed to present its case while the particular individual in this country who is being charged may be without resources or, because of the fear of people in his home country of government action against them, may not bc able to obtain evidence to put his own case? As I have said, I would appreciate an assurance from the Attorney-General before I am called upon to vote on this Bill on whether the onus of proof does lie upon the individual whose extradition is being sought, because it that were so it would be absolutely impossible for me to vote for a provision of that character. I would hope that the Australian Labor Party which has fought many notable battles against imposing the onus of proof on individuals would join me in that particular case.
We have had extradition treaties with a number of communist countries. We had none with the Soviet Union, we had one with Hungary, which had an escape clause by which neither country had to hand over people if it did not want to do so; and as far as I know we have had treaties - unless they have been repealed - with Albania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia. The
Government at the time made strong declarations that it would not permit any Australian citizen to be extradited, and that no Australian resident would be extradited for a political crime. But as I have pointed out, a person whose extradition is being sought has obvious difficulties confronting him ‘in getting’ evidence to defend himself. Sir Robert Menzies, to whom the matter was referred at the time, made a statement in which he indicated that the position was satisfactory. He said:
Under present circumstances the Australian Government has to be convinced . . . that the application from Eastern European countries is bona fide and not a pretext to obtain custody of an individual for other purposes.
That is, possibly to try him for a political crime. But I believe, particularly since this legislation is designed to change the law and particularly because we are now recognising so many communist countries, that the opportunities for this kind of action to be taken will be greatly increased. The possibilities will arise increasingly of demands from communist countries for the extradition of people against whom they allege crimes of which they may or may not be guilty. They may be wanted for another reason. But in view of the fact that we are now recognising a large number of communist countries, the possibility of dangers from this point of view becomes all the greater. There is one factor which may be claimed to give Parliament some control over the situation. It is that extradition treaties have to be presented to Parliament. In those circumstances, I suppose that they would be open to review in the Parliament. But at the same time it would be infinitely better if we could obtain assurance that the Act, as it stands, is ironclad and watertight in regard to the trial of people for political offences.
I am not happy about the provision that a person may be extradited for one offence and then the government in that country to which he is extradited may say: ‘We would like to try this person for something else*. It would request the permission of, say, Australia to do this. I would say that some communist countries, having got the man in their clutches, if they wanted to try him for something else, would not bother about the niceties of asking what the Australian Government at the particular time thought. I am unhappy about that and I hope to be given some information that will reassure my mind that this clause may not be used to get a man out of Australia and into a communist country on the pretext that he is to be tried for one of the offences shown here. I would have no objection if he were to be tried only for one of these offences. But what I am afraid of is that this provision may be used to get him out of Australia on trumped up evidence and then deal with him for some other offence. I point out that special exceptions are made in the case of genocide. Genocide can cover a multitude of sins. An overseas government could say simply that a man belonged to an organisation in his country which was responsible for the deaths of a large number of people. Therefore, it would state that it wanted to try him for genocide. He may have been only a pawn in the game. I think that that is an extremely wide provision which, as I said, could cover a multitude of sins. I think that lawyers would experience a good deal of pleasure in arguing it backwards and forwards.
As to the other items in the Bill, as I say, I have no objection to the principle of extradition. I think that in principle it cannot be argued against. What can be argued against are the circumstances in which it may be applied. The attention of the Australian Government was drawn in 1961 to the dangers which may arise of people being taken out of Australia purely for political purposes on various pretexts. I felt that it was my duty to make a similar declaration to the Government of the danger upon this occasion. I do not do that from the point of view of defending a man who has been guilty of murder without political implication or guilty of any other crimes without political implications. But in the kind of atmosphere we live in people will make all kinds of efforts to obtain the control of persons for political reasons. We in Australia have to satisfy our own people and our own migrants that nothing will be done which will render them liable for trial under a government in whose democratic principles they do not believe and whose ken they chose to leave and become refugees in this country.
I conclude by saying again that I hope the Attorney-General will satisfy my mind on this question of on whom the onus of proof rests. I hope that he will make it clear that there will be the firmest stance and the utmost protection in our courts against people being taken out of this country for trial for political reasons.
– I intended to intervene in this debate to obtain advice from the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) concerning that part of his second reading speech that lists a number of nations to which this legislation will apply. I wanted to relate that information to the hijacking of aircraft. Before I proceed to do that I want to take up with Senator McManus some of the fears that he expressed. This part of the Attorney-General’s second reading speech to which I have referred was quite specific in regard to the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Israel, Austria, Sweden and the United States of America. When the honourable senator went into a parade about eastern Europe, I felt that he was getting away from the Bill. In those circumstances I understand that the same ground rules will apply to me also. I look forward in the not far distant future to the time when the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, will be introducing amendments to the Crimes Act which will meet a situation in which many post-war migrants had reservations about receiving second class citizenship in Australia. I know when that time comes, from the pledges of both the Attorney-General and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), that something will be done about that. I look forward with relish, whether it be Senator McManus or one of his colleagues who will obviously have to support the relevant measure, to see how they will justify it or give grudging praise to Senator Murphy. For a long period since the 1950s successive Liberal Party Attorneys-General, with their bleatings on civil liberties, did not attempt to change the position. I say that with some feeling because I do-
– That is not accurate.
– The honourable senator had his opportunity to speak, the whistle has blown and he is on the sidelines now. The fact of the matter is that this was something that could have been attempted by the former Government. Of course, Senator Greenwood’s fear was that if he did what I suggested - possibly the Australian Democratic Labor Party would have supported us - we would have moved an amendment to such a bill concerning the trade unions. He was afraid of Bob Hawke and Harold’ Souter. He feared that there would be chaos.
To return to the basic submission I am making, I say in deference to Senator
McManus that the test of the Labor Government’s sincerity will come when it deletes these iniquitous clauses from the Crimes Act. They are clauses that were the product of a conservative government in the 1920s that had a phobia about trade unionism simply because an Irishman and a Scandinavian occupied dominant roles in our maritime unions. To return to the present, Senator McManus referred to totalitarianism of the Left. It has been only honourable senators from this side of the chamber when we were in opposition who have badgered - I use that word advisedly - Senator Greenwood and Senator Wright about the refugee seamen’s convention. Senator McManus talked about repatriating people to eastern Europe. Honourable senators would find that one of the most vicious regimes at the moment is the Government of Greece. That is totalitarianism of the Right. The statistics for seamen who have deserted ships because of these Captain Bligh conditions that apply on Greek and to a lesser extent on Spanish ships show that previous Governments in the last 20 years were only too happy to give sanctuary to refugees from totalitarianism of the Left but not to refugees of totalitarianism of the Right.
We could well emulate the policy of the British Home Office, whether it be under the control of Richard Maudling or James Callighan. They played it fair and they did not play favourites. As a matter of fact, I recall the controversies that existed in London 2 years ago. One concerned a student from East Germany who was a little afraid of how he would be treated after he left Cambridge University. He was allowed to stay in Great Britain. Conversely, another student who came from the University of Barcelona had certain feelings on how the Spanish Government would treat him. He was also allowed to stay. 1 have sufficient confidence in the Attorney-General to know that when be evaluates any of these cases he will treat them in the same vein. He will not say: ‘Oh well, you are an anti-communist. You may be a neo-Fascist but you are an anti-communist. Therefore, you are a hero.’ He will not say of somebody who is a bit radical and a suspected communist: ‘Bring him back.’
If Senator McManus is to harp about people in Yugoslavia, I wonder whether he has made an assessment of people who have gone back on charter flights on the JAT air line to Yugoslavia and not returned here. It may be found that some person has broken some army call-up regulation. But for every one that can be referred to in the case of Yugoslavia, I can refer to twice as many held by the Greek or Spanish Governments. Of course there will be anomalies. The countries with which we will have extradition treaties will be the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Israel, Austria, Sweden and the United States of America. I emphasise that when the Senate rises in late May or early June the Government will be able to look ethnic groups in the eye and say: ‘We deleted all these iniquitous and discrimintory sections from the Crimes Act. We have given you portability of pensions. We will become a signatory to the refugee seamen’s conventions.” These are all things that the Government plans to do. When it comes to action, we can stand up and face anybody.
I know the area about which Senator McManus spoke. I refer to the situation in wartime and in early post-war years in Finland and the Ukraine. Some Ukrainians were seeking a republic. It is true that the Germans may have had an opportunity to convert them. Hitler was more oppressive than Stalin. As Senator McManus knows, that is the reason why the partisan movements in the Ukraine failed. I deal now with the situation in Yugoslavia. We are living in a pragmatic world - the greatest good for the greatest number. I have put this principle to many Croatians. Only a minority of them harp on the past. I put this very bluntly to Senator McManus. He should look at the history of the United States in the war. When the American war plants were in full production President Roosevelt had a problem. The United States had a larger population of Yugoslav migrants than Australia has ever had. At a crucial stage he had to decide whether he would give American aid to Tito or to Mihajlovic. To put it bluntly, Roosevelt knew that Tito was killing Nazis and that Mihailovic was playing politics. Therefore the American policy, which was adopted by Churchill, supported Tito and the partisans. It is true that there was a cold war period after that.
The point I make is that some of the Yugoslav migrants were economic migrants and some were political migrants. I reminisce about the period when Labor was previously in office. A member of the House of Representatives then was Mr Leslie Haylen. He and I know that the Labor Government did not play politics on ideologies. It accepted people. There was one proviso. As much as I despise the present Greek Government I would not expect a Greek in Australia to go to Greece on a bombing expedition or to indugle in similar activities there. That was the proviso. I apply that principle to Yugoslavs as well. There is no place for that sort of thing. This is not the debate to delve right into the matter. But let us be honest with ourselves. Some members of the Yugoslav community, not all of them, may have nostalgic feelings about a free state of Croatia, to use Senator McManus’ term. I have quoted Senator Wright repeatedly. The answer that he gave me last year was in brutal terms. On the one hand, if it suits Australia’s book, it suits the Commonwealth of Nations and the general Western democracies to hold the peace and possibly to subvert some Croatians who want independence. On the other hand honourable senators opposite say that we should not cause too much fragmentation in Yugoslavia. That would assist the Soviet Union’s foreign policy. To me that is completely incompatible with what Senator McManus has prated about tonight. He would say that on a priority basis the Soviet Union is more dangerous to world peace than Marshal Tito is. Yet tonight he prated about this idea of a free state of Croatia. It is just not on.
I have said publicly to Croatians that they are entitled to their nostalgic feelings about a free state, but in this era of the A bomb and the H bomb we cannot have little powers upsetting the balance of power between the NATO powers and the Warsaw powers. I do not want to refer unduly to the matter, but I say to Senator McManus and his colleagues that I appreciate that some people get heated about it, but for every Croat who believes in a free state of Croatia there are another 5 who accept the realistic appraisement of the Department of Foreign Affairs. That Department served the previous Government well, and it is giving us the same treatment. We are not on a witch hunt. I know that Senator Cavanagh has attended diplomatic receptions. He knows senior officers of the Department. They have made a hard, practical assessment. We should not have to choose between ethnic groups or rock the boat on our friends in the name of peace. It is just not on. We will not try to placate them.
I seek elucidation from the AttorneyGeneral on one matter which I cannot understand. I know that he, with his charitable attitude, will appreciate that I am just a layman. I can recall Senator Cotton and Senator Bishop having an interest in civil aviation negotiations. What I do not understand is the failure to act in tandem. I am not criticising the Department of Civil Aviation. If there were several conferences between all the nations involved in civil aviation and if all nations agreed that we need to combat hijackers, what baffiles me is that there are only 6 nations with which we will have extradition treaties. I suppose we can share the responsibility for the incompleteness of the list of nations. It will be very nice to enact the legislation, but it will mean, in effect, that all the other countries which have airlines will not be a party to the arrangement. If somebody hijacks an aircraft and takes it to one of those countries we will not have the protection of these extradition laws. I suggest respectfully to the Attorney-General that we should be endeavouring to enlarge the ambit of countries associated with this extradition coverage. I am sure that we will.
I make another point in relation to extradition. The people involved may not be only people for whom the Soviet Union may be looking. Let me put it in another way: I favoured the Israeli attitude when it put Eichmann, a war criminal, on trial and dealt with him. The inference that I got from Senator McManus was that if the Israeli Government sought somebody out here and if he were deemed to be a war criminal - Senator McManus can appreciate that I am not being specific; I am generalising at this stage - the Israeli Government would say that it wanted that person. He could have been from the Soviet Union or from one of the Baltic nations. If the Jewish underground and the present Israeli Government were able to prove that he was the cause of a lot of members of the Jewish community being sent to the gas chambers, the Israelis would want him tried as a war criminal. When I refer to atrocities I do not run away from the totalitarianism of the left, but there seems to be a remarkable double standard when we talk about fascism, Hitlerism and all this sort of thing. Nobody seems to talk about that. The point I am getting at is that if Eichmann’s counterpart were in Australia the Israelis would say: ‘Mr X may have fought for Hitler, but by God he hated communists’. To me, that is not good enough. If we agree that communism is oppressive in that sense, so is fascism. We cannot get very much said about that. Honourable senators opposite always qualify it by saying: ‘We have to be careful about fair play’.
If Senator McManus has some inhibitions about Israel, I have not. If the Israeli Government can fossick out somebody here - I qualify this statement in case there is an ambush - and if he is an Australian citizen he is protected. What happens if he is not naturalised? Honourable senators would be surprised at the number of these people who have been involved in events in the past few months who do not want to become naturalised. They hope that there will be a third world war - what they call a brush fire war - and in the process they will find themselves a tinpot dictator. That is the area about which I am concerned. We are supposed to have good relations with countries which are regarded as Western democracies. I am surprised that Canada is not a party to this extradition arrangement. In recent times there has sprung up what one could call multi-national criminals - some of the leading con men and manipulators of the stock exchange. They go over much better if they have a language similar to ours - such as Englishmen or Americans. That is the other point about which I am particularly intrigued. I will leave those submissions to the Minister for clarification.
– in reply - There has been a general acceptance by the Senate of the 2 Bills, for which the Government is grateful. I think it is right to say that it was the previous Government which entered into the arrangements, but I am not quite sure now how far they had gone before the change in government occurred. Substantially the matter is a non-party political matter. We need laws of this character in order to deal with persons who commit crimes here and then escape to other countries. Without these laws, we would be facing a very difficult situation, as would all countries.
It has occurred to me that it is curious that we handle matters such as this by way of treaty. I would have thought that it would be, better for Australia to say in respect of all other countries that it would deliver up persons under certain conditions because, substantially, we would not want criminals in this country. Let me explain the position, as I understand it, in respect of a country which is not covered by either of these enactments, that is, with which we have not a treaty. It could be demonstrable that a person who came from another country to Australia and who perhaps stayed here for some time had killed a number of persons. He may be. an ordinary murderer. We might have very great difficulty in sending him back to the country in which he committed the crime, where he properly ought to be tried.
I turn to some of the matters which have been raised. There are provisions in the principal Act to give guarantees to persons. Section 13 of the principal Act provides:
A person is not liable to be surrendered to a foreign state if the offence to which the requisition for his surrender relates is, or is by reason of the circumstances in which it is alleged to have been committed or was committed, an offence of a political character.
Section 4 sub-section (4.) states:
For the purposes of this Act, an offence against the law of a foreign state may be regarded as being an offence of a political character notwithstanding that there are not competing political parties in that state.
Senator McManus may be interested in this information in respect of the new treaties which have been entered into and through which there is any extension of the law. Section 14 provides:
The Attorney-General shall not give a notice under sub-section (1.) of the next succeeding section, or issue a warrant under sub-section (2.) of section 18 of this Act, in respect of a fugitive from a foreign state in relation to which section 10 of this Act applies, if the Attorney-General has substantial grounds for believing that -
the requisition for the surrender of the fugitive, although purporting to have been made in respect of an offence for which, but for this section, he would be liable to be surrendered to that state, was made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions; or
if the fugitive ls surrendered to that state, he may be prejudiced at his trial, or punished, detained or restricted In his personal liberty, by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions.
That section provides safeguards. According to its provisions, the onus on the AttorneyGeneral is that he is not to give the notice which is a part of the process ‘if he has substantial grounds for believing’ certain things which axe set out in. section 14. As I understand it, it is not even a matter of his being satisfied on the onus of proof, either beyond doubt or on the probabilities. It is simply substantial grounds for believing’ certain things. If the matter came before a magistrate, as I understand it, the onus on the person who was seeking to establish these things would be the civil onus, that is, the balance of probabilities onus. But, before that stage was reached, one would have the position of the Attorney-General not initiating the processes if there were substantial grounds for believing the things set out in section 14. The matter may be reviewed on habeas corpus proceedings in which the superior court would be entitled to take into account these same matters and whether there was such a position of a political character under the Act.
– On whom would the onus be?
– If the matter came before a magistrate, as I understand it the onus would be on the person who raised the question, and the onus would be the civil onus. Prior to that, in respect of any of the new treaties with which we are dealing, insofar as we are changing or extending the law there would be a prior onus - if one likes to call it that - on the Attorney-General that he is not to give a notice - that is, not to set the process in train - or even to bring the person before a magistrate if there are ‘substantial grounds for believing’ that in effect, as Senator McManus is putting it, the person is being dealt with because of his political opinions, race, religion or nationality.
– That makes the position of a person against whom an extradition order is sought extremely difficult. Obviously it would be a matter of intense difficulty for him to face up to what, in effect, is the onus on him.
– Prior to seeking such an order, if there is some ground for that belief, there is an obligation on the AttorneyGeneral not to start the process at all. I would think that the state from which extradition was being requested under a treaty would be very concerned about such issues. It is evident that all countries have a very great concern about this aspect of offences of a political character. One of the matters on which there is unanimity of view, as there was at the recent Law Ministers Conference, is that these laws cannot be allowed to be used for dealing with persons for political offences. This has been a very longstanding tradition. Once this legislation is enacted there must be no breakdown because the whole process of extradition from one country to another depends upon confidence and the agreement of the country concerned to yield up someone. If that understanding ceases the whole process will break down. That is why I think a very great concern is felt about this matter.
I think that this is a reasonable law. It has been tested in England and other countries. It has evolved over a long period. The provisions contained in the Act are general provisions that have arisen out of treaties and out of carefully guarded principles. Provisions of this character are needed because there is no doubt a serious and increasing tendency, because of the ease of travel, for persons to commit crimes and then to escape to other countries. I think that the provisions are reasonable; so apparently have previous governments. The provisions have remained substantially the same over the years. In any event, I propose to accede to the suggestion by Senator Greenwood to adjourn the debate at the Committee stage. Before the Bill is considered in detail in Committee it might be convenient to supply honourable senators with the explanatory notes which were given to Senator Greenwood at about 3 p.m. today. Honourable senators will then have a chance to look at the explanatory notes overnight and any further questions which arise can be dealt with when the debate is resumed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole?
– Perhaps I could have the explanatory notes incorporated and then the Committee could deal with the lot at once. Perhaps the Bill might be taken as a whole at this stage.
– If the Bill is taken as a whole at this stage, as the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) suggests, and he tables or has incorporated in Hansard the explanatory notes on each of the clauses, that would be a satisfactory course to which I would raise no objection. Progress could be reported and later we could resume discussion in Committee. It may be that in the light of the explanatory notes there will be no further discussion. Some matters may arise but I have no objection to that course being adopted.
– Is it now the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– I ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard the explanatory notes relating to this Bill. The notes deal with all clauses.
– Is it really necessary to do that? Could they not be circulated?
– This course has been suggested and I have agreed to it. This might be the convenient way of doing it. The practice of providing these explanatory notes has not been followed in Australia but it has been done in Great Britain. I ask for leave to follow that course here.
- Senator Murphy has asked for leave to incorporate certain material in Hansard. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– While what the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has done is unusual - I accept Senator Wright’s comment, sotto voce, that it is unusual - this will enable us to examine the clauses of this Bill in the terms in which the draftsman believed the amendments would achieve certain results. The Committee now has the opportunity to examine each clause. I raise as a matter of immediate concern the amendment in clause 5 in which there is a new definition of an ‘extradition crime’. I would be interested in ascertaining - this is not contained in the explanatory notes which have been circulated - why the existing section is being changed notwithstanding the reasons given in the explanatory notes. Why does there have to be a provision for some ‘equivalent act or omission’, or equivalent ‘acts or omissions’, to be included in the clause as to the type of act or omission upon which a crime may be constituted?
I know that these are technical matters but at the same time we are dealing with a Bill which, as Senator McManus said, can have far reaching consequences in the light of the application of these provisions to particular individuals. I mention that matter in passing. I suggest that it is one to which the AttorneyGeneral’s advisers could give attention and possibly advise him before we resume the Committee stage tomorrow.
– I did not force the question of onus of proof to a division because it was indicated that we would not get the support of the Senate. I am still not happy about that question. I thank the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) for what he has done. I think what he did is very helpful and that it will work out all right. Senator Mulvihill made some reference to the need for the Croatian people to be sacrificed for the good of Europe. I would refer the honourable senator to page 711 of the book Roosevelt and Hopkins’ by Robert Shearwood in which he quoted President Franklin Roosevelt as saying that he had said repeatedly that it was ridiculous to have forced 2 antagonistic nations like Croatia and Serbia into one country, and that in his view after the war Serbia should have been a separate country and Croatia should have been placed under a trusteeship.
– For so long in this Senate the realists have said that it is hardly up to Australia to try to revise the boundaries of Europe. Senator McManus referred to the mistakes that the Big 3 may have made. I do not think that an Australian Foreign Minister now has to be involved in this situation. As sure as the sun will rise in the morning, if we pursue this matter a little further I have no doubt that a conservative Foreign Minister in Great Britain and a United States Foreign Secretary will indicate to us, as probably has been indicated to us, that if we do not control these people who are meddling in Europe we will be out on our own. I do not wish to be sensational and I have never belittled anybody’s aspirations. All of us reach a stage in life when we know how far we can go and where we cannot go. Let us be realistic about this matter. We all know the ideological thaw that is taking place in Europe today, including countries under left wing governments. True it is that there are incidents like those that happened at Prague and Budapest, but by and large the young people in European countries have certainly much further advanced in what we regard as freedom a lot further than they were at the zenith of the Stalin era. The Croatian people, like everyone else in Australia, have an opportunity to make their way in life. It is simply impractical to get into what I call modern Bonapartism and adventurism. I am not sneering at anyone, I am dealing with the facts of life as I see them.
– I would like to answer the question raised by Senator Greenwood. The use of the phrase ‘equivalent act’ is to cover the equivalent of offences in the United States of America. Here not all the ingredients are the same but they are substantially the same. I refer to crimes such as interstate fraud. Over the years in the United States there has been a complication in relation to federal offences, presumably because of constitutional power. Such offences there have had the element of inter-stateness about them - using the mails for fraud, engaging in fraud in the case of interstate trade and commerce and things of that nature. The substantial offence is fraud and the word ‘equivalent’ brings it in. Apparently the reason this is not mentioned in the explanatory notes is that this was achieved in the 1968 Act. It was included then. It is not appearing for the first time in this Bill. If one looks at Act No. 112 of 1968 one will see these words in section 3 of that Act:
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in the definition of ‘extradition crime’ in sub-section (1.), after the words ‘constituting which’, the words ‘, or equivalent to which,’;
That is the answer. The draftsman did not pay attention to that matter because that amendment had been achieved in 1968. That is my understanding of the matter.
– I am indebted to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). I noted precisely what he said when I looked at the second of the amendments to this much amended legislation. It still leaves in my mind the doubt as to why we have to make a provision additional to that which is customary. We have, for example, an act or omission which, if it occurs in Australia, would be the offence but if it was committed in the United States of America would constitute the crime. What the words ‘equivalent act or omission’ mean I am afraid still escapes me. But it is not the draftsmanship of this legislation, it is the draftsmanship of the legislation in 1968. It has been in the legislation. In those circumstances I assume that there is no point in taking the matter any further. It may be that this is a matter which, for information purposes, might be ascertained overnight.
– I should like to add further to this question. This is a very real problem. When I was in the United States I had discussions on the various legal problems which might be arising between the 2 countries, and this was one matter about which the American authorities were concerned. They mentioned that over the years in extradition this had been a real problem for them; that the special federal offences in America had caused grave difficulties. I am not sure how it worked in practice, but apparently before the 1968 enactment they had difficulties. Because of their understanding of the laws they might not have even tried to extradite ordinary criminals whom they considered were guilty of federal offences because of the absence of sufficient laws here to deal with the situation. That is my understanding. I hope that the position has been sufficiently rectified in the somewhat technical set of legislation which has been enacted over the years.
Consideration resumed from 7 March (vide page 223), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Because the issues involved in this legislation are the same as the issues involved in the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill, I move:
That the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again.
– Perhaps before that is done I should take the same course as before and ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard the explanatory notes in relation to this Bill.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 3 April (vide page 765), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this Bill which provides for the ratification of the removal of the residual 25c a gallon excise duty on wine. I welcome this legislation and commend the Government for its prompt action, in the first instance, for introducing a special regulation to remove this duty and then by introducing this legislation to ratify the removal of the duty. I am quite sure that when the excise duty of 50c a gallon was imposed on 18th August 1970 the adverse effects which would flow from that imposition at that time simply were not realised. The industry suffered a major setback at that time. Half of the impost was removed last year and now we have reached the situation of totally abolishing the duty.
The grape growing and wine making industries in Australia are among our oldest established industries. They have a long and proud history. Looking back through the vicissitudes of the industries since their inception in a very humble and small way we see an indomitable spirit applied by the old families who got these industries going and who, through generations, built them up. The figures relating to the production of grapes and wine from those grapes indicate quite a saga. I refer to the production figures throughout Australia in the last 9 years. Iri 1963 the total production of grapes in the wine growing States of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia was 167,000 tons. In 1964 total production was 211,000 tons, there was a further increase in production in 1965 and a recession in 1966. But there has been a trend of improvement all the way since that time. In 1970 there was an all time high in production of 352,000 tons of grapes. In 1971 production reached 288,000 tons, and in 1972 it was 338,000 tons. This is big production in anybody’s terms.
I should like to point out the importance of the grape growing industry through all the activities connected with grape growing - the propagation, the planting, the trellising, and the caring for the vines. The ancillary industry which grows about the grape growing industry makes it one of the most intensively producing rural industries in Australia. A lot of benefit flows to the nation generally through the demands created by this industry. In the wine making industry we find very heavy capitalisation and demands being made for the supply of equipment and so on. All the time this is providing employment in rural areas and that is greatly appreciated by people in those areas. In my own home area of the Barossa, through the years I have noted, with great pride and happiness, the growth of the wine making industry. The makers have had great pride in their establishments and have co-operated splendidly with the growers. Through the years the cooperative wine industry has played a very singular part in providing an outlet for the growers’ produce. The wine industry - be it in the Old World or here - has always shown a very high sensitivity to imposts. Wine is a very price conscious commodity. We saw the effect of the 50c excise. I hope that we have learnt a lesson and that in Australia we will never again impose a charge of that nature on the industry. Grape growing and wine making are one of the few industries - they are complementary - which through the years have not received a penny of direct governmental assistance. They have been ruggedly individualistic and self-reliant. For production and sales to be in a good situation we have to ensure buoyancy for the industry as a whole. There are increased plantings, and greater tonnages are being processed. There have to be markets for this produce, either locally or overseas.
The 1972 vintage produced 61,920,000 gallons of wine of which table wines constituted 21,093,000 gallons. Dessert wines, sherry and flavoured wines accounted for 11,943,000 gallons and the balance of approximately 29 million gallons was used for distillation for grape spirit and for brandy. We have no statistics at the moment for sales in 1972. Looking back to sales in 1970-71, we find that on the local market sales of table and sparkling wines increased by 1.9 per cent from the previous year and accounted for 12,666,000 gallons. Approximately 8.5 million more gallons of non-fortified wines were produced than were sold. Of the fortified wines 11,755,000 gallons were sold as against a production of 11.9 million gallons; so production and sales were even Stephen. It is interesting to note the growth in the production and sale of table wines as compared to the fortified wines. Table wine production accounts for 64 per cent of total wine production now whereas 5 years ago it accounted for only 49 per cent. I think that this is an excellent move into an area of wine acceptance. Table wines augment and complement good food. They are consumed with food at table and are of low alcoholic content. We in Australia are still far behind other countries in relation to per capita consumption. But because of the quality of the wines now being produced and the acceptance of them in increasing quantity I feel that our wine consumption per capita will increase year by year.
In 1971-72 1,744,000 gallons of wine were exported. It was sent to 74 different countries. This compares with the figure of 1.4 million gallons for the previous year. Not a very great amount of our wine is being exported at this stage. It is of concern to note that there has been no progress in increasing our brandy sales. This has been due to the highly competitive situation which has arisen, particularly from South Africa, on our brandy export markets. Also brandy from overseas is making inroads into our own sales here. I feel that this constitutes an unfair intrusion because in most instances it does not match up with the requirements of our brandy producers in Australia. I realise that this matter is being looked at very closely by the Government at the present time. I hope that reasonable protection will be provided for our home produced beverage.
Stocks of wine in Australia as at 30th June 1972 consisted of 37.9 million gallons of table and sparkling wines, 33 million gallons of fortified wines, and 6.1 million gallons of brandy. These arc big stocks. Again, this emphasises my point that we have to ensure at all times as far as we possibly can that the industry remains buoyant. As I have pointed out the provision of employment and the radiation from this industry generally to other industry in Australia is of real importance to our economy. I am very happy indeed, as I know all honourable senators on both sides of the chamber are, that the last vestige of excise on table wines has been removed.
Before I resume my seat I shall make brief reference to criticisms which have been made of the wine industry. I regard the criticisms in regard to alleged increases in price as being misplaced, unfair and unjustified. In 1970 the wholesale section of the winemaking industry in Australia reduced its price. It did so again in May last year when the 25c reduction in excise came about. The increase in price which has been criticised can be traced invariably to the retailers of the wine, particularly the restaurateurs who charge very high prices. It must be pointed out in fairness to the vignerons that since 1970 the industry has paid out $3.1m more in wages than it did in 1970 and $2.9m more for the raw” material - grapes. This is of vital importance to the producer who has to meet increased costs of production. He also faced an increased cost of $2.1m for bottles. Other components in the industry have gone up. I have listed 3 areas of increase in the industry which total some $8m. So I think the criticisms which have been levelled at the industry are - in the words which I used - misplaced, unfair and unjustified. I have much pleasure in supporting this Bill.
– As a senator from South Australia, I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill tonight. I was very interested in the remarks of Senator Laucke, especially his statement that the implications of the imposition of an excise on wine were not realised when this tax was first introduced. I would like to point out to Senator Laucke that the Australian Labor Party was well aware of the implications that would flow from the imposition of such an excise. It has pointed out those implications in the Parliament ever since the imposition of the excise in the 1970 Budget. The wine grape growing industry also has pointed out in no uncertain terms the problems that would arise and the financial difficulties that would result from the imposition of such an excise.
I am very happy to be able to stand in this chamber tonight and say that the abolition of the wine excise was one of the policies enunciated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during his election policy speech. He said that immediately on election to government the Australian Labor Party would abolish this tax. As Senator Laucke has pointed out, the Australian Labor Party abolished it by regulation immediately on taking office. At the first opportunity - on 28th February - this Bill was introduced into the Parliament to bring into effect by law the complete abolition of the tax. I want to point out to Senator Laucke that a wine excise will never be imposed while a Labor Government is in office. I suppose it is inevitable that a Labor Government will not remain in office forever. If Senator Laucke is present when a change takes place I hope that he will never again agree to the imposition of a wine excise, as he did in 1970.
– The honourable senator knows that I was not happy about it at any time.
– I know that Senator Laucke has always spoken out against the imposition of such a tax. Unfortunately when the chips were down and the votes were counted he was never on the side of those people who were opposed to it. That is all the criticism I wish to direct at Senator Laucke. However, later on I wish to levy some very strong criticism against a member of the other place who represents the up river wine growing areas of South Australia for the political acrobatics that he has engaged in ever since this tax was imposed on the wine industry. I intend to quote one or two of his statements that appeared in the local Press in South Australia to show how he endeavoured from the time of the imposition of this excise to mislead the people of his electorate as to what he was doing to get it removed and how at every opportunity the Australian Labor Party gave him to have it removed by voting against the excise he voted the other way.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator McLaren has referred to a misleading act by one of my colleagues in another place. That is offensive. I would ask him to withdraw it.
– I would like a ruling from the Chair on that point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President, because, as I said when I made that statement, I intend to quote from newspaper cuttings statements that were made by a member of the other place.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott) - There is no substance in the point of order. No honourable member was named.
– I will qualify those remarks later on in the course of my speech. This tax was placed upon the wine grape growing industry in 1970 by a government which was being sustained in office by the Australian Country Party, which claims to have the interests of primary industry and those associated with it uppermost in its policies. The wine grape growing industry was one of the very few primary industries that were at that time making a determined effort to solve its problems without the aid of a government subsidy. What was the reward for its efforts? Because the wine grape growing industry was going along on its own and not asking for assistance the then government saw the possibility of extracting some financial assistance for the Federal Treasury out of that industry and imposed a 50c a gallon excise on the wine. This affected mainly South Australia and New South Wales, which are the main wine producing States, and, to an extent Western Australia.
As I said a while ago, when that excise was imposed no definite action was taken by supporters of the Government, on behalf of the people in the industry, to prevent it being imposed. They certainly never spoke against it. As I have said before they said one thing in their electorates and acted to the contrary in this Parliament when they had the opportunity to prevent the excise coming into being. Supporters of the former government had many opportunities to express their opposition to the imposition of the wine excise. They had an opportunity last year when, because of the pressure brought upon them by the wine grape growing industry itself and, in particular, the efforts of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) and the former honourable member for Sturt, Mr Foster, the then Minister for Primary Industry and the former government had to capitulate. They came halfway towards abolishing the excise. The then Opposition moved at that time for the complete abolition of the excise. I well remember supporting in this House a move by Senator Murphy for its abolition, but we did not get the support of Senator Laucke, who has indicated that he would not vote with us to repeal the legislation. It has been left to a Labor Government to do it
Had the Australian Labor Party been joined by the supporters of then Government at the time of the imposition of this iniquitous excise the serious financial setback which the industry suffered would not have come about.
Although towards the end of last year there was a 50 per cent reduction in the excise - a reduction to the tune of 25c a gallon - the industry has not fully recovered and it will not recover for a while either because of the ramifications and the implication to the retail trade of a price increase. It is going to be a very hard task to get the price back on an even keel. I hope that following the setting up of a joint committee on prices we will be able to do something about the matter and say to those people: ‘You have had the benefit of having this 50c a gallon excise taken off. It is time you passed it on to the public at large’.
I want to remind the Senate of a statement made in this chamber in 1970 by Senator Murphy. The Australian Labor Party has been accused of using the abolition of the wine tax as a political issue during recent election campaigns. I want to remind those members of the Opposition who were in government at the time of the imposition of the wine excise of the statements they made and point out how untrue they were. In the Senate Hansard of 3rd and 4th November 1970 - just after midnight on 4th November - Senator Murphy had the following to say when he was speaking on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-71-
– Just after midnight.
– Another midnight exercise.
– It was said during a debate on Government legislation, namely, an Appropriation Bill. Of course, the only people who could be blamed for the Senate being here after midnight were the supporters of the then government. I see that Senator Wright agrees. I wish to quote what Senator Murphy said on that occasion. He said:
The Committee will recall that this new tax on the wine industry was introduced by the Excise Bill. When we debated that Bill, the Labor Party voted against the imposition of the new duty on Australian wine, but other honourable senators voted for it. In particular, Liberal and Country Party senators voted for the excise, either physically or by being paired.
I wish to comment on Senator Murphy’s statement about being paired. I have mentioned on quite a number of occasions since I have been a member of this chamber that if the South Australian supporters of the former Government had been sincere they would have said to their Whip: ‘We do not want a pairing on this legislation because we do not agree with it’. But they did not. They accepted a pairing. An examination of the votes cast on that occasion reveals that 25 senators voted in favour of retaining the excise and 23 voted against retaining it and that 3 South Australian supporters of the then government were paired.
– Which three?
– Senator Davidson, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and Senator Laucke.
– I was not in the Parliament at the time. I was overseas at the time.
– The honourable senator was paired. He could have instructed his Whip that he did not want to be paired on that occasion.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to a point of order. I object to the allegations that have been made against my colleague from South Australia by Senator McLaren. He is giving the people of Australia the impression that Senator Laucke had some motive for not being in this place when the vote was taken. I know for a fact that Senator Laucke had every reason to be absent from this place and that had he been here he would have exercised his vote in a manner to which-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poyser) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order that the honourable senator is making. This is a matter for debate and can be answered by a subsequent speaker.
-I object to your ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President. I would request you to reconsider your ruling and ask the honourable senator to withdraw the allegation.
– I rise to a point of order. The honourable senator is challenging your ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President. It is completely disorderly to do so in this chamber, and if any apology is necessary I think the honourable senator should make one to you.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTThe position is that the honourable senator who has been speaking to this Bill has made certain statements in relation to the actions which took place in the Senate previously. Senator Jessop has taken a point of order because he objects to those statements. The honourable senator will have an opportunity subsequently, if he so desires, to answer those statements.
– I have been misquoted by Senator Jessop because I did not say that Senator Laucke was using any devious means by not being in the chamber. I know why he was absent. All I said was that he could have instructed the Whip that he did not want to be paired when the vote was taken on that particular legislation. He was quite able to do that under the Standing Orders.I will continue quoting from Senator Murphy’s speech from where I left off:
They voted against the wine industry and the interests of South Australia by supporting the imposition of a new duty on wine. It is a crippling duty to be paid by an industry which has not sought Government assistance. It is one rural industry which has been free of the decline experienced by other rural industries. It should not be burdened in this way.
Senator Murphy went on to say:
I wish to say that my Party, will carry out what it stated when it opposed the duty. I pledge that the Australian Labor Party when elected to office - which will be at the next Federal election - led by Mr Whitlam will repeal the excise on the wine industry. I say that after consultation with Mr Whitlam and the wine industry of Australia. The Australian wine industry may take it that the ALP is pledged to the repeal of this excise.
I quoted those words of Senator Murphy to knock on the head the wrongful allegations made by Opposition senators. They are in Opposition now. During the Federal election campaign they said from the hustings we were putting up this proposition only as political bait. Yet it is on record that in 1970 it was the intention of the Australian Labor Party to repeal the excise. We have made every endeavour at every opportunity since that time to do just that. I am happy to know that for the first time since the imposition of this excise the South Australian senators who are members of the Liberal and Country League, or whatever it is called now that it is so torn asunder, will vote for the abolition of this excise. What a wonderful thing it will be for the industry. As I have pointed out, the Labor Party gave clear warnings as to the illeffects of this excise. The warnings have been borne out by the successive reports of the Australian Wine Board. The imposition of this excise was an exercise in stupidity by the
Government of the day. The 43rd annual report of the Australian Wine Board for the year 1970-71 states:
In the 1970 Federal Budget the Commonwealth Government introduced an excise duty of50c a gallon on all Australian wine produced for commercial purposes for sale in Australia.
The report went on to say that this had had a detrimental effect on the industry and then went on further to say that a deputation from the wine industry met certain Federal Ministers in May of that year to discuss the effects of the tax on the industry and in no uncertain terms informed the Minister of the day of the problems that the Government had created by the stupid exercise that it carried out in imposing the wine excise. The 44th annual report of the Australian Wine Board dated 1972, which was presented to the Parliament only recently, states:
The single most important factor affecting the operations of the industry during 1971-72 was, as for the previous year, the imposition of excise on wine. This factor is commented on in more detail in the following section of this report.
I will read this whole section so that it will be on record for all time just what a silly and stupid exercise it was when the previous Government imposed this excise on the wine grape growing industry. The report states:
On 18th August, 1970 the Commonwealth Government introduced an excise duty of 50c a gallon on all Australian wine produced for commercial purposes for sale in Australia. The Board believes that this excise imposed a heavy burden on the industry and notes that its earlier forecast that it would cause a severe setback to the Industry has been borne out by, wine sales statistics. In fact wholesale sales for 1970-71 were only 55,000 gallons or 0.2 per cent greater than the 1969-70 total.
It would be reasonable to assume that, in the absence of any excise, the continuance of the normal market growth pattern recorded in the preceding 5 years (11.8 per cent p.a.) would have led to salesin excess of 27.3 million gallons in 1970-71. The imposition of the excise would therefore seem to have resulted in the loss of more than 2.8 million gallons in sales for 1970-71 alone.
Unlike cash crop industries, the very nature of the wine and wine industry means that it cannot respond to any sudden shiftsin the pattern of demand such as those involved in the imposition of excise, except through considerable hardship experienced during the course of a necessarily prolonged adjustment of the supply situation.
An independent inquiry undertaken for the Commonwealth Government by Professor J. McB. Grant, Professor of Applied Economics, University, of Tasmania, and presented in April, 1972 reported on the immediate and longer-term effects of the excise. The report summarises the results of the inquiry as follows:
The excise imposed in August, 1970 stopped the growth in sales for about a year and although sales are now increasing again, for the next few years at least, they will be below what they would have beenin the absence of the excise. The vineyards planted to meet the demand for grapes expected before the excise was imposed are already in existence and in the event of there being a good vintage in any of the next few years, there may be a surplus of specialised wine grapes.’
A Deputation from the Wine Industry met a number of Federal Ministers in May 1972 to stress the industry’s concern at the effects which excise was having on the sales of stock position and renewed its request for the complete removal of the excise.
On 25th May the Minister for Customs and Excise announced that the excise would be reduced to 25c a gallon, the reduction to take effect as from the following day.
As would be expected, clearance figures for the 1971-72 financial year generally show increases over the corresponding period in the previous year. It is still too early to estimate what the outcome of halving the wine excise will have on the industry but the fact brought out by Professor Grant remains valid, i.e. that sales under excise will, for the next few years at least, be below what they would have been in its absence.
The disruptive effect of the excise can also be gauged clearly from the industry’s situation as revealed by the level of stocks upon which duty has not been paid. These stocks of fortified wine which were at a normal level of 25.3 million gallons at 30th June 1970 rose to 31 million gallons 12 months later and exceeded 33 million gallons at 30th June 1972. Comparisons over a long period cannot be made for table and sparkling wine, but it is significant that the stocks of these wines rose from 33.5 million gallons at 30th June 1971 to 37.9 million gallons at 30th June 1972.
So not only the Labor Party criticised the excise because of the detrimental effects that it would have on the industry; the industry itself in its official report presented to this Parliament also criticised the excise. As I said earlier, I am happy to know that the Government has seen fit to act immediately. It was not only the Labor Party and the wine industry that pointed out the ill effects that this excise would produce; it was pointed out by delegates at a meeting of the Liberal and Country League in Adelaide on 6th and 7th August 1971. That meeting passed a motion which was to be brought to the attention of the then Treasurer in these terms:
That the Federal Governments’ wine tax be abolished immediately.
What was the reply from the Treasurer of the Day, Mr Snedden? He said:
The situation in the wine industry has been kept under close review By the Government. Having con sidered the report of an interdepartmental committee, the Government decided, in the 1971 Budget, not to alter the existing duty on wine.
Having heard all of the evidence from the industry, having been pushed from pillar to post even by its own members, as they have said in the party rooms in this Parliament - but they did not have the courage to vote against the excise in this chamber - it was the view of the Government that in the light of the Committee’s report the problems besetting some growers and co-operatives were not solely or even largely due to the imposition of the excise. Honourable senators opposite should talk to the wine growers to see whether they agree with that.
In the time left to me I want to refer again to what I said about that very well known acrobat in politics, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). On 17th August 1971 Mr Giles put this motion on the notice paper:
That Parliament abolish wine excise because (a) the grape grower section of the industry is bearing, and is likely to bear, the main burden of the tax, (b) it has caused damage through being the most important factor in a strong down turn in sales and (c) it is largely self-defeating.
Mr Giles never made any move to bring on the debate on that motion in the Parliament. It was put on the notice paper as a political gimmick. Every time the Labor Party made an effort to bring it on, he voted against it. He voted against the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders, and he voted against his own motion on every occasion until last week, I think it was, when in the House of Representatives for the first time he voted for the abolition of the wine excise just as his colleagues in this place will vote tonight. But it took the election of a Labor Government to put in a position where they could vote against the wine excise these members of the Liberal Party who tell the electors they are men of free choice. At a conference in Canberra last year Mr Southey, the Federal President of the Liberal Party, is reported in this way:
Mr Southey said the privilege of carrying Liberal Party endorsement implied not only devotion to the platform and principles of the Party.
It also meant an understanding that all membersevery one of us without exception’ - were servants of the Party and trustees for its future.
This is what I meant when I said that these members say one thing in this Parliament, vote another way in this Parliament and say something else in the electorate. When Mr
Giles put that motion on the notice paper he contacted all of the provincial newspapers in his electorate of Angas pointing out:
My motion requesting abolition of the wine excise is first in order of General Business.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. Is the honourable senator in order in referring to a member in another place on this particular issue?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - There is no substance in the point of order.
– I can see that I am getting under Senator Jessop’s skin for he is using devious means to prevent me telling the true story of this terrible imposition that was levied on the industry. I know it is hurting him. He does not want the people in the upriver areas to hear the truth because members of the Liberal Party will not tell them. However, I am telling them here tonight and I am putting it on record in Hansard. Mr Giles went on to say about his motion.
This will come on air on approximately Thursday, 25th November, after the completion of the Estimates debate which takes precedence. lt is my intention to notify over the air and in the Press the approximate time of my lead-off speech.
If anyone specifically wishes to be notified individually by telegram, my office will attempt to provide a forecast time.
He even took on a job in the Bureau of Meteorology there. He then gave a telephone number which those interested could ring and also the telephone number of his secretary, Miss McBain. This Press release appeared in the provincial Press throughout the up-river areas, but it proved to be a terrible let down because when the motion came on Mr Giles voted against his own motion. One can imagine what the people in the grape growing areas thought of Mr Giles at that time. Mr Giles was reported in the Murray Bridge ‘Observer’ on 31st May last year when speaking on the wine excise. I do not have time to quote it all but this report brings me back to my statement that he has misled the electors of South Australia when he said:
He said that in spite of being taunted frequently by himself, the Opposition still had no policy on wine excise for all the growers knew it might sharply increase excise if perchance they were elected to government.
I have read from Hansard that Senator Murphy said in this Parliament in 1970 that we had a policy and that we would abolish the wine excise. Yet as late as May last year Mr Giles told his electorate that we had no definite policy, and he even had the audacity to tell them that if perchance the Labor Party became the Government it would increase the excise. That lie has been thrown back in his face because, as I pointed out at the beginning of my remarks, on the very first day of business of the Labor Government - on 28th February this year - we brought in a Bill to abolish the excise. This is what I was referring to when Senator Jessop so rudely interrupted me by trying to protect his colleague in another place.
The figures of the last Federal election show that Mr Giles has got himself into a bit of a political knot and is writing statements to the Press. The Murray Bridge ‘Observer* on 29th March 1973 reported Mr Giles as saying:
He hoped the present Government and governments to come, would remember that excise had damaged the industry and that the wine industry must still be regarded as unduly sensitive to price variations, whether brought about by Government action or not.
The Government of which he was a member had brought them about, but now he is trying to crawl out from under. The final paragraph of that report reads:
Finally, Mr Giles reminded the Parliament of the third point in Professor Grant’s report which stated that the rate of wine sales dropped sharply as a result of the prices increases following the application of excise.
One wonders why Mr Giles, following what he has done for the industry and what he has not done for the industry, and his failure to honour his promises, continues to send this stuff to the provincial Press in the electorate of Angas. I state now why he is doing it. At the last election, for the first time in the history of the division of Angas, Mr Giles had to go to preferences to retain his seat. The combined votes of the Country Party and the Labor Party show that we outpolled Mr Giles. If at the next Federal election the Labor Party decides for some reason or other not to run a candidate, Mr Giles is gone because the Country Party is an emerging force in South Australia. The Country Party won the seat of Flinders at the State election on 10th March last and went very close to winning Rocky River. The sitting Liberal member held it by only 44 votes. The seat of Mallee-
– Who won Chaffey? The Liberal Party.
– 1 am pleased that Senator Davidson has interrupted to ask who won Chaffey because the man who won Chaffey is a supporter of Mr Hall of the Liberal Movement. As is well known, Mr Hall has broken away from the Liberal Party and formed his own party, and has taken Mr Millhouse and Mr Cameron with him. The man who won Chaffey went in as a supporter of Mr Hall, as did Mr Mathwin, Mr Heinrich Becker and a few more.
Senator Webster - I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. Government senators are interjecting ceaselessly. The honourable senator was giving great credit to the Country Party and it would be better if he continued without interruption.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! If the Speaker is misguided enough to do that, he is entitled to do so.
– It is a privilege to have Senator Webster on my side for once. I noticed that my good friend Senator Young had a blank look on his face when I mentioned the Country Party and Mr Hall. Senator Young will have problems for he is number 2 on the ticket for the next Senate election and faces the advent of Mr Hall running as an LM candidate. I remind the chamber also that Mr Jack Ryan the editor of the paper of his organisation, the ‘United Farmer and Grazier’, is the endorsed Country Party candidate for the Senate. Therefore Senator Young will be in trouble. All of this trouble stems from the wine excise. Mr Petch, the man who could have beaten Mr Giles had he finished a little bit behind the Australian Labor Party candidate and gained our preferences, which he would have got, instead of finishing in front of our candidate, is secretary of the Upper Murray Winegrape Growers Association. This is where it all started. Because of the good vote he got his Party ran candidates in the State election and won seats. When one looks back one sees that all of the problems have arisen as a result of the political acrobatics engaged in by Mr Giles.
I want to put on record my appreciation of the wonderful work done by Mr Reg Curran, the previous member for Chaffey, of whom Senator Davidson so kindly reminded me. A great deal of credit must go to Mr Curran foi his efforts on behalf of the wine industry. He approached members of the State Government in South Australia and members of the Federal Parliament to bring every pressure to bear for the removal of this excise. He did it, and what reward did he get? He got a similar reward to that which the grape growing industry got for not asking for subsidies. He was hit with a 50 per cent tax and then notwithstanding the good work that he did - he served his Party well, he did the job required of him - others wanted him out and they put him out. I tell Senator Davidson that they will no doubt live to regret the day that they did so.
I conclude by saying again how proud I am of the Labor Government for honouring quickly that part of the policy on which we went to the people and on which we were elected. The Bill was introduced on the first day in the life of this Parliament, and it is a forerunner of many more planks of our policy which will be honoured in the life of this Parliament. I am sure that at the end of 3 years we will be returned to office because ours is a Party the people can rely on, ours is a government the people can rely on, and ours is a government that honours the promises its makes to the electors.
– Firstly, I should like to endorse what Senator McLaren has said about Reg Curran, the member for Chaffey who was defeated in a recent State election in South Australia. I believe that he did his very best to overcome the embarrassment caused by the Australian Labor Party in that State. I believe that one of the reasons for his defeat was the fact that Mr Dunstan did not honour his promise with respect to Chowilla Dam. This highlights the dishonesty of the Australian Labor Party in South Australia. I support the measure before the Senate at this time and say how much I endorse what the present Government has done with respect to the wine excise which I believe, along with Senator Laucke, was an iniquitous tax to be imposed in the way it was imposed. Senator Laucke, along with my other colleagues from South Australia, particularly Mr Giles, the honourable member for Angas in another place, constantly promoted the opposition to the way in which this excise was introduced.
As a non-member of the Senate at that time, I made representations to the then Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, and the then Treasurer Mr Bury, indicating my opposition to this measure. I am afraid that we were not successful in convincing the Government of the time to remove the excise. Therefore, I endorse what has been done. I do not think any honourable senators should have objection to this measure. Senator Laucke has supported it. I should like to suggest now that the Government should direct its attention to a reduction of an excise of another kind. It is the excise on what is apparently the beverage of the workers of Australia - beer - from which the Government derives approximately $400m a -year in excise.
– Who imposed the excise on beer?
– That is all right. I charge the Government of the day to pay regard to the beverage - beer - drunk by the Australian worker. It has seen fit to remove any imposition with respect to home brew. I believe that this is the thin edge of the wedge because unless the Government pursues the matter and pays regard to the removal of some of the excise on beer, unemployment will be created in that industry. People will make their own beverage. I believe that the Government has done what we in South Australia consider to be the right thing. I support it, as do my colleagues. But I object to the manner in which Senator McLaren used this debate to cast aspersions on my colleagues from South Australia. I can say from personal experience that they were to the forefront of an attempt to have this excise removed. That is all I want to say at this stage.
– The Senate is debating the Excise Tariff Bill 1973. In actual fact the Bill has been introduced because of a Government promise that it would reduce by 25c a gallon the excise on wine. I congratulate it for the step that it has taken. I believe that it will be for the general good of the wine industry that this excise is removed as it would be for any industry to have removed from it an extra cost which it had to thrust on to the public. This is one of 2 Bills referring to taxation on liquor that is produced for home consumption. Shortly we will be debating a Bill relating to the home brewing of beer which will provide that no excise shall be associated with that product. So we see that those who are concerned in the industry are being given some attention in several areas.
It is interesting to note the 44th Annual Report of the Australian Wine Board and the various comments that are made relating to the effect of excise. Government honourable senators would agree with me that no back bench member of Parliament is particularly happy when a government decides to introduce a tax. As a member of the Australian Country Party, I say that that was certainly the attitude of the back bench members of my Party when we opposed the original introduction of the tax on wine. I say to the credit of the 4 Liberal Party senators from South Australia, namely, Senator Laucke, Senator Young, Senator Jessop and Senator Davidson
– What about Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield?
– I thank the honourable senator. He speaks with a knowledge of the way in which she took action in this matter. She could well be connected with the remarks I have made. Those 5 senators certainly took the problem to the ministry of the day. The speeches that they made in the Senate indicated their opposition to the tax.
– How did the honourable senator vote on the introduction of the tax?
– We hear the comments of honourable senators opposite. But I say that I am opposed to a direct tax on the industry and the effect it has on the consumption of its product. It is interesting to note that the effect of the tax on the wine industry was not a loss in the volume of sales. It brought about a loss in the proven escalation in percentage terms of wine sales that had become a part of the expansion of this industry.
– What does the honourable senator mean by that?
– The honourable senator would not understand what I mean. In actual fact wine sales did not decrease because of the introduction of the tax. That can be seen in the report to which I have referred, lt is quite interesting to note. We would have wished, as no doubt, the Australian Wine Board would have wished a continuation of that 11.8 per cent escalation in the volume of sales that it had experienced over past years. During a period in which there may have been some problems within the economy of the country generally wine sales did not escalate but held their existing level. I hope that we will see on the local market a situation in which the sales of this most wonderful product that is turned out by the Australian wine industry will again increase.
I draw the attention of honourable senators to this interesting point: We heard our friend from the Government, Senator McLaren, speak a while ago. Generally he is accustomed to bring into the Senate bags of the byproduct of the industry with which he is associated and dump them on the floor of the Senate chamber. He again attempted to do that in relation to criticism of Senator Laucke and those other Liberal Party senators who had argued against the introduction of this tax on a previous occasion but who had been unsuccessful. But in the past 4 months the Labor Government has created the greatest disaster ever for the exporters of wine. Let us hear the loud mouths on the Government side tell us what the wine producers and the wine exporters say about the 2 attempts of the Labor Government at revaluation of the Australian dollar.
– Which exports were affected - the white wine or the red wine?
– As a hotel keeper, Senator McAuliffe would be well aware which was affected.
– He might be confused about which is which.
– There is a suggestion that the honourable senator may be confused about which is which. I do not go as far as that. I do not think that is a fair comment. I refer now to the 1972 report of the Australian Wine Board. It shows that the export trade in wine is in a very delicate position. Without using the exact words, the report states that the wine industry faces a great problem in relation to its volume of export to European Economic Community countries.
– Which Party was in government when Great Britain joined the EEC?
– Listen to our loud mouthed friend again clucking away so that one can hardly hear what is being said. If Senator McLaren will be quiet I will attempt to finish my speech. We are anxious to help the Government get the Bill through this evening. Perhaps those Government senators opposite who are trying to interject could give their attention to the report of the Wine Board at a later date. It would help, particularly those from South Australia, when they are out talking to the wine producers. Let us see what the producers think in the ensuing months about the actions of the Labor Government in relation to revaluation. In truth, each Labor senator knows the disaster that has been wrought on the wine industry because of the Government-
– Because of the wine excise.
– Does Senator McLaren, who is loud mouthed in his interjections, support the Government’s action in revaluing upwards so that there is a 19 per cent disparity of sales for the wine industry? Senator McLaren does not dare to open his mouth now.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poyser) - Order! There will be fewer interjections. I would appreciate it if Senator Webster would address the Chair.
– I was not addressing you, Mr Acting Deputy President, because I knew that you understood my argument. Goverment senators from South Australia do not understand it. They speak of the action which the Liberal-Country Party Government took in imposing the excise. I hope that they will be able to speak, as they -have suggested that the present Opposition members should have spoken, about the dastardly effect that the action of the Labor Government has wrought on the wine industry. I refer to that part of the report of the Board which refers to our exports to New Zealand. They will be affected greatly if we are faced with a situation in which we are robbed, by a Labor government, of competition. What will be the effect of this very important aspect of export on the Australian wine industry? A most vital section of the industry will be lost, not just harmed as was the local market when the excise was imposed.
Let us look again at what happened in Australia when the excise was imposed. There was no loss of sales. There was a loss of escalation in sales, something which the Labor Party did not understand. Let us see the result in one year of this 19 per cent revaluation upwards. Ignorant members of Parliament took this action without considering the words of Dr J. F. Cairns. At least he had the stomach to say that it was a stupid action on the part of the Labor Government. How many senators have said that?
– When did he say that?
– Previously. We will have time to debate it on a future occasion. It is interesting to note that in 1971-72 Australia exported 1,744,554 gallons of wine to 74 countries, compared with 1,446,528 gallons in 1970-71. This growth was mainly attributable to an increase in exports to the United Kingdom, but a number of other markets shared in this increase. The report of the Board states that the value of sales to Canada was over 50 per cent greater. The report indicates what took place in relation to New Zealand. The whole tenor of the paragraph on page 7 of the report indicates the delicate situation and the need to be able to compete. The Labor Government has taken competition away from exporters of Australian wine. That is the situation.
– The report was presented last year.
– We heard Senator McLaren, who is now so vocal, talk about the promises of the Labor Party. I am afraid that many of its promises can be challenged. This is one promise. They have brought it about. While bringing it about to the benefit of the wine industry, what did the Labor Government do? It stole a benefit from one section of the wine industry. That is typical of what the socialist Labor Party will do. A similar thing happened in relation to 4 weeks annual leave. The promise at election time was that the Labor Party would grant it to all public servants. What did Labor do when it came into office? lt tried to say: ‘We will grant it only to unionists and to hell with anyone else’. Australia should be thankful that the Opposition in this place took action to make the Government fulfil its promise. I could refer to many Labor Party policies which have not been met. Senator Wright has often spoken about the promise to resume the shipping service to King Island. Is that promise being met? The Labor Party did not meet that promise.
– I rise on a point of order. For the purpose of getting the debate concluded, I raise the question of relevancy. We do not know where the discussion will end. Does the honourable senator intend to quote each plank of the Labor Party’s platform until he comes to the one which states that we intended to abolish the wine tax?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poyser) - I ask Senator Webster to relate his remarks to the Bill.
– I take note of what you say, Mr Acting Deputy President. Great liberty was given to Senator McLaren when he referred to what had been said by various South Australian senators about the South Australian election. Nobody stopped him. I take the point that reference to some of the promises which Labor has made and has not kept, particularly in relation to the controlling of inflation, can wait for another time. The public will be well alerted to those promises. I support the Bill. I am pleased to see that the excise will be abolished. The Government will have to find the amount which was collected previously under this Act. It is pertinent to remind the Government that it is running at a deficit of at least $ 1,000m. No good business can continue to do that. Where will it get the revenue which will be lost to it because of the abolition of the wine tax? I hope that it will not, as is suggested in print, run this country into a great deal of bother.
– in reply- I think the Senate for its enthusiastic approval of the Bill. The Australian Labor Party, when in Opposition, made a promise. Labor, when in government, is fulfilling the promise. The Bill is the result of that important promise which was made by the Labor Party. When next we go to the people we will have a long list- it was a long list- of promises which were made to the people and the people can tick off alongside each promise the performance in relation to it. I thank the Senate for its speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 28 March (vide page 615), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Acceptance of this Bill, which seeks to amend the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-1960, presents no problems for the Opposition. The Bill relates to section 15 of the principal Act, which provides that no action or proceedings, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for broadcasting or rebroadcasting any portion of the proceedings of either House of Parliament. The Bill merely seeks to extend the protection of this section to the Territories not forming part of Australia. As was pointed out in the brief second reading speech delivered by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), the coverage sought is basically domestic but reception may extend to other areas because of variations in atmospheric conditions. The extension of protection, as I see it, is simply meeting a situation hitherto not covered. The Opposition supports this Bill.
– in reply - The Government appreciates the indication by the Opposition that it supports this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– Order! Before the next business is called on, I wish to inform honourable senators that earlier this evening the Senate granted the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) leave to incorporate 2 lengthy documents in Hansard. I have looked into this matter. The Government Printer has informed me that the incorporation of the material would present technical problems and would unduly delay the publication of Hansard. The Attorney-General has agreed to circulate roneoed copies of the documents instead. So, the documents will not be incorporated in Hansard. That is by ruling of the President.
Debate resumed from 3 April (vide page 758), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Liberal Party will not oppose this Bill, which seeks to amend the Public Service Act to provide 4 weeks annual leave for members of the Public Service under the provisions of that Act. It will be remembered that a few weeks ago the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Greenwood, successfully moved for the setting aside of determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator which had the effect of confining the granting of 4 weeks annual leave to members of organisations which had actually made application to the Arbitrator for 4 weeks annual leave. It had been the previous practice of the Public Service Board under Liberal-Country Party governments that such determinations would apply generally as a common rule in the Public Service. On this occasion - apart from the fact that the determinations applied only to members of organisations which had made application for 4 weeks annual leave - the Public Service Board under the direction of the Cabinet, particularly the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), was confining the application of these determinations to members of organisations and was, by that method, providing a form of pressure towards compulsory unionism on members of the Public Service.
The purpose of the setting aside of these determinations was to ensure the principle that no members of the Public Service would be obliged, by pressure of one form or another, to join a union or an organisation. As I said, the Senate supported the motion moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Greenwood. We also took objection to the determinations on the ground that the Public Service Act clearly lays down the provision of 3 weeks annual leave. The determinations, a subordinate form of rule making, would have had the effect of changing an Act of Parliament. We said that this extension of the annual leave entitlement should be carried out by an amending Bill being brought to this Parliament. We also said in the course of that debate that if the Government were to introduce a Bill providing for 4 weeks annual leave for public servants in accordance with its election promise, which was to do so without qualification or strings of any kind, the Liberal Party section of the Opposition in this chamber would not oppose it. Tonight, that Bill having been presented in this chamber we, unlike the Government which did not abide by its election undertaking in this regard, are abiding by the undertaking we gave to the Senate in that debate.
I remember that in the course of that debate we said that we would reserve the right to express our own views about the wisdom, and indeed the propriety, of granting 4 weeks annual leave to members of the Public Service. Nevertheless we recognise that this policy was clearly enunciated in the election promises of the Australian Labor Party and obviously it gained a clear mandate for that. For that reason alone, apart from anything else, we would not seek to oppose it at this time. However, for my part - I believe I speak on behalf of most, if not all, of my colleagues in this regard - I am particularly concerned about the effect of granting 4 weeks annual leave to members of the Public Service.
We of the Opposition recognise that there already has been some advance in this direction by State governments in favour of State civil servants, but by and large the industrial tribunals of this country, dealing with recreation leave for employees generally, have not yet adopted the principle of 4 weeks annual leave. We believe that the proper course for Government to take in matters affecting salary, leave and so on, being such important industrial issues, is to leave it to the industrial tribunals of Australia to decide the fundamental issue of whether the additional week’s leave should be granted. Those industrial tribunals were established under Federal and State laws for the express purpose of determining policy in these matters. We believe it is wrong for governments and parliaments to be intervening in such industrial matters and setting their own standards without regard to the proper and traditional processes by which these matters are usually determined in Australia.
Apart from that reservation, we have grave concern about the economic effects of a flowon from this decision by the Government which we are asked to implement this evening. The economics of it as far as the Public Service is concerned may be of a rather minor nature but I have not seen any costing of this provision. I would have thought that we were entitled to have that information but no doubt the cost will be relatively minor. Certainly by comparison with the way in which this Government is throwing money around in all directions it would be a relatively minor aspect of the spending spree in which it is now engaged. We of the Opposition are concerned for a much more important reason. I refer to the effect of this added cost if 4 weeks annual leave becomes a widespread provision throughout the industrial laws of this country and affects industry generally. It would be unrealistic for us to believe that once 4 weeks annual leave is introduced for Commonwealth Public Service, coupled as it is with a similar provision in one or two of the State civil services, there will not be tremendous pressure within the industrial movement of Australia for 4 weeks annual leave to be the normal provision for all people working under Australian awards. It may be that there again it will apply only to a limited section of the work force, but again it would be unrealistic for us to believe that once it becomes a normal provision in industrial awards, both Federal and State, it will not become the standard period of recreation leave for almost all employees in Australia.
So the snowballing effect, or the flow on as it is called, of this Bill on the economy generally will be of very great proportions. As I have said, we of the Opposition cannot let this matter pass this evening without expressing our concern about it, and about the fact that this benefit is being provided with proper and close consideration being given to the economic effects of such a decision, as would be the case if the matter was brought before the industrial tribunals of the Federal or State governments and litigated in the ordinary way.
There is one other matter I wish to raise. Apart altogether from the considerations I have mentioned already about the provision of 4 weeks annual leave for public servants, it will be a very serious matter if the Government makes the Commonwealth Public Service the pacesetter in industrial matters and industrial provisions. Liberal governments, for the whole of their life, set their face against the Commonwealth civil service becoming a pacesetter in industrial benefits.
– It started with maternity leave.
– My colleague Senator Jessop mentioned the provision of maternity leave. There is to be paternity leave as well. We of the Opposition must give this matter very close consideration. It certainly ought to be debated publicly as well as in this chamber, but tonight we are dealing with another matter.
The question of the Commonwealth Public Service becoming a pacesetter for industry generally is a matter of grave disquiet to us. 1 believe that it should be a matter of grave disquiet to all members of this Parliament and certainly of this chamber. This approach may well have been all right in the early days of this century before we had adequate industrial tribunals operating in the way in which they do today. It may well have been all right before we had trade unions with the power and influence that they have today. It may have been all right in a different day and age and in an entirely different economic climate that the Commonwealth Government, by the laying down of its own standards for its own employees in the Public Service, should provide a guide to and an example of industrial conditions. But what might have been all right 60 or 70 years ago is not by any means adequate or proper today.
As I have said, at present we have industrial tribunals with decades of experience in these matters. We have in this country the growing power of trade unions; they are becoming more and more powerful. Of course, we now have the very serious economic climate of great inflationary pressures. In these circumstances I believe that it is the utmost economic folly for this Government or any government to endeavour to become a pacesetter for industrial conditions and benefits. Apart from the economic or political argument, I also stress the element of injustice which arises in these matters when people employed in the Public Service or by the Commonwealth Government in some capacity or another are receiving pay which is far in excess of the benefits which the vast majority of their countrymen are receiving. Therefore, in the community we have the privileged sections who are able to obtain employment with the Commonwealth Government and the majority of the people who are not able to do so. 1 should like to cite one example of this situation. It is very close to home and it has just arisen. It is not something for which the Government is directly responsible at all, but I cite it as an example of what is happening. Only a few weeks ago our electorate secretaries who, I know, are of very valuable assistance to us - most of them, I am sure, are very competent women in their field - received a determination which gives them a salary of $5,000 a year, or $96 a week. This really staggered me when I heard about it. I have taken some trouble to inquire as to what salaries or wages are being paid to top level stenographers and secretaries in Perth. Of course, my own secretary and the secretaries of other Western Australian members of Parliament are in Perth. I have found, in doing a round robin of a number of professional and business people in Perth, that they are not paying their secretaries, on an average, anything like $96 a week. Very competent and very experienced secretaries can be engaged in Perth for $75 or $80 a week. Yet, as I have said, the Commonwealth is paying our secretaries at the rate of $96 a week. I believe that it is quite absurd that this rate should be paid admittedly to senior typists in the Commonwealth civil service. It is not only our secretaries who are being paid at this rate; secretaries in Commonwealth departments and in many other spheres of Commonwealth Government employment are being paid at the same rate. I do not want to single out our own secretaries as being specially treated.
– That is what you have done.
– I am not doing that. I am simply giving the example that our secretaries and many other typists in the employ of the Commonwealth Government are receiving the same amount of money.
– You have drawn a contrast between them and others.
– 1 know that Senator Poke probably would need a secretary on $10,000 a year to look after his affairs. But the fact of the matter is that the salary level at which secretaries in the Commonwealth civil service are being paid is utterly absurd. It is far in excess of what senior and competent typists certainly in Perth and, from other inquiries I have made, in other cities in Australia can obtain. Secretaries can be engaged at a much lower rate of pay. 1 believe that this is a glaring example of pace setting in the Commonwealth service. We get a grave injustice between one group of people in the community and another group in the community doing the same job. Therefore, in this matter I would stress the various objections which we have to the way in which the provision of 4 weeks annual leave is being introduced for the Commonwealth civil service. But for the reasons which I have already given, we on this side of the chamber do not intend to oppose the measure.
- Mr President, the hour is late, but I think that at this stage of the debate I should indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill. The history of events which led to the presentation of this Bill is of very recent origin and is thoroughly known to honourable senators. There was the determination of the Public Service Arbitrator and it was implemented by the Government with the addendum that only those who joined industrial unions should receive the benefit of 4 weeks annual leave. That promulgation of the award was disallowed in the Senate. At that stage the Democratic Labor Party indicated clearly to the Government that if the Government did not proceed forthwith to introduce legislation to provide for 4 weeks annual leave, without any qualification, across the board in the Commonwealth Public Service, our Party would introduce a private members Bill to do it. The Government indicated that it would respond to that and that it would introduce a Bill. The Bill has been introduced, and that is the measure which is before us tonight.
The original intention of the Government was one which was totally indefensible. It was resented very bitterly in the Public Service because it required people to join industrial organisations - perhaps against their will - so that they could get the benefit of an industrial award to which they were entitled in terms of the arbitration and which, if it had gone only to a segment of the employed community, could have created very great disruption and very great recriminations within the whole employed body of the Commonwealth Public Service. We congratulate the Commonwealth Public Service on what is a very great industrial advance. We are happy that this has been done by legislation.
I make the point that the Democratic Labor Party, in taking the stand it did on this matter, was conscious of the stand that it has always taken in relation to the mandate given to the elected Government. We said very early that the role of this Party would be to support the Government in matters where it had a clear mandate from the people, with the right to express reservation, criticism and perhaps qualification. In this case the Government had a clear mandate to introduce 4 weeks annual leave without qualification. But the Government elected to depart from that mandate and the Democratic Labor Party brought the Government back to the strict and honourable observance of the mandate, which has now been done. We hope that in the future we shall not have the same occasion to remind the Government of the mandate that it has received from the people and that the mandate shall be always strictly and honourably observed. In those circumstances we support the Bill.
– Order! In accordance with the orders of the Senate, it being 11 p.m. I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 April 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730411_senate_28_s55/>.