28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
-I present 4 identically worded petitions from a total of 765 citizens of the Commonwealth in the following terms:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
That Australian citizens place great value on the sanctity of human life and the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children.
That we are deeply concerned to preserve throughout Australia the law’s protection of human life from the moment of conception.
That proposals to change the law to allow abortion on demand and the termination of pregnancy for non-medical reasons are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petitions received and read.
Petitions in identical terms were presented by Senator Murphy (3).
– I present the following petition from 119 citizens of the Commonwealth….. :
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That Australian citizens place great value on the rights of individuals;
That Australian citizens believe that abortion should be a matter for individual decision;
That abortion should be removed from the realm of criminal law and be a matter for the women concerned and her medical attendants;
That abortion is not a desirable form of birth control and that emphasis should be placed on education, better methods and wider use of contraception;
That as education is advanced and better con traception becomes available the need for abortion will diminish to negligible proportions.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled will give support to the abortion Bill before the House of Representatives upholding the liberty and rights of individuals.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I raise a point of order, Mr President. Is it in order for an honourable senator, when presenting a petition, to make a comment such as that made by Senator Gair, namely, ‘…’? I refer you to standing order 90, which says that a senator cannot present a petition from himself. The comment made by Senator Gair completely negated the original petition and in effect he presented a petition and an opinion on his own behalf.
– I do not recollect circumstances of this nature having occurred before in the yearsI have been in the Senate. I cannot uphold the honourable senator’s point of order in the context of Senator Gair having presented a petition from himself. The question is whether an honourable senator, in presenting a petition, can add a comment. I will take some time to consider that. There are methods of handling that. I will give the honourable senator an answer later.
Petitions in identical terms to those presented by Senator Withers were presented by Senator Mulvihill, Senator Gair and Senator Kane.
– In reply to the point of order that Senator Georges took earlier I said that I had no recollections of these circumstances having occurred before. Immediately I heard Senator Gair’s observation I directed the attention of the Clerk to them. The Clerk, as honourable senators know, is a learned Clerk who has spent many years compiling the notable volume ‘Australian Senate Practice’. He has drawn my attention to a passage on page 158 of that work dealing with the presentation of petitions by honourable senators under standing order 94. On that page he makes the comment:
It is improper for a Senator, when he is presenting a petition, to make any statements, except such as are laid down in the Standing Orders. Even a reference by a Senator that he does not agree with the prayer of the petition he is presenting is not in order.
In those circumstances I feel compelled to ensure that the observation made by Senator Gair is struck from the record.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and refers to the statement made by the Minister for Labour on the television program ‘Federal File’ on Sunday, 6th May that it was unfair for wages to be controlled and for prices not to be controlled. In view of the fact that that statement and similar statements have frequently been made and seemingly never corrected, I ask: Will the Minister confess to the untruth of that statement or spell out by what law and in what circumstances the maximum wages or salaries a person can receive are controlled by law?
– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition well knows, I am not in a position to discuss a verbatim report of anything said by the Minister for Labour on that program. We know that at various times discussions have been held between the Minister and the news media and that in such discussions this week a question was asked about Mr Clyde Cameron’s interpretation of the right to strike. I can only say in respect of what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has alleged Mr Clyde Cameron to have said that I will ask the Minister for Labour to give me his own interpretation of what he said and whether it was intended to be in any respect a declaration of Australian Labor Party policy.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Press of a United States contract to supply 19 million tons of wheat to Russia? Can he say whether, as stated in the report, the United States Government is paying a subsidy of 47.5c a bushel to grain company shippers in connection with that contract? Does the Minister know whether that subsidy will be in fact passed on to the growers? If so, does that mean that Australian wheat ‘growers will have to compete for a share of the world markets against overseas growers who have the distinct advantage of government subsidisation? Does it also point up the fact that the Labor Government’s proposed ne.w wheat policies will further disadvantage Australian growers?
– No, I have not seen the report to which the honourable senator refers. I do not know on what basis he made the closing remark in his question concerning the disadvantage that may be suffered by wheat growers under the proposed new stabilisation scheme. There are no grounds for him to imply that the wheat growers of this country may be disadvantaged as a result of that new scheme.
– I never mentioned the new wheat stabilisation scheme.
– Perhaps I misinterpreted what the honourable member said, but that implication seemed to be there. I am not aware of any subsidy arrangements which the United States has made with wheat growers. It could well be that the granting of any such subsidy has been because of prior agreement entered into with the wheat industry in the United States, but I am not sure of that. I shall endeavour to find out the circumstances of it. If I obtain more detailed information I will convey it to1 the honourable senator.’
– Is ‘ the , Minister for Primary Industry aware of “ reports having quite wide currency, especially in primary industry circles, that the ^.superphosphate bounty is ito be discontinued? Is that correct? If not, will the Minister take steps to reassure primary industry and others concerned that no such proposal is contemplated?
-I am aware that many rumours have been floated in the past few weeks, particularly by Opposition spokesmen, to the effect that hellfire and damnation will descend on the rural community as a result of the Labor. Government’s policies. I want to state as I have stated before in this chamber that the assistance given to rural industries in this country will be looked at objectively and in what we believe to be the. long term interests of these industries. There have been no discussions with me in respect- of superphosphate. I understand that both of the Acts dealing with superphosphate will expire next year and that there has been an examination of them by my Department. I can assure the honourable senator that when Bills come up for their renewal they will be looked at fairly and objectively and that we will continue to provide assistance in this area if we feel it is in the interests of the rural community in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Earlier this week I asked him a question about his statement that any future price guarantees to the wheat industry would be strictly limited. He inadvertently overlooked one part of my question when he answered it, so I repeat that part of my question to him. Does this mean that returns to the Australian wheat growers in future will be determined by world prices and that the Australian wheat industry, irrespective of the effects of rising costs of production over which the industry has no control, will be competing with highly subsidised exporters such as Canada and the United Slates of America?
– Everyone associated with the wheat industry is aware of the widely fluctuating prices which wheat brings on the world market. We would like to see the industry geared to a market situation. This is the only rational way in which production can be brought into line with demand. At the same time, because of the nature of the industry and of world prices, it is essential that some measure of stability be built into the industry. I assure the honourable senator that this Government has no intention of abrogating its responsibilities in this area. I question the statement that the wheat industry has no control over costs of production. I know that it is important that growers be as effective or as efficient in individual farming operations as they can. I think the Commonwealth Bureau of Agricultural Economics lias been of great help in the past to the wheat growing industry in this respect. If we improve wheat growing techniques and our marketing procedures, obviously we will be better off. Pending the renewal of the wheat stabilisation agreement, the Government will not allow the industry to go out of existence or to enter into a period of complete instability. We will look at this matter objectively and responsibly.
– I direct a question to the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What progress has been made in the establishment of an Australian embassy in Warsaw? Is similar action being taken in Australia to create a Polish embassy in Canberra?
– The last statement that I saw was to the effect that our ambassador in Moscow was visiting Poland. I am not sure of the position in relation to a Polish embassy here. I will find out the exact details and let the honourable senator know.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour aware of the statement of his colleague Mr Clyde Cameron that he would support the Federated Ironworkers Union’s proposal for a series of rolling strikes affecting the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd? Does this statement represent the individual view of the Minister or that of the Government?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honourable senator referred. In that circumstance, I undertake to get from Mr Clyde Cameron the answer and the explanation sought by the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. As there appears to be some confusion, particularly in the minds of members of the Opposition, about the implication of the Minister’s speech to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris as it relates to wheat stabilisation agreements, can the Minister confirm to the Senate that his policy of no more open ended stabilisation agreements will in no way affect the wheat quota system or the proposed first advance of $1.20 per bushel for the 1973-74 quota wheat?
– I most certainly can confirm that the commitment entered into by the Government in respect of the 514 million bushels and the first advance of $1.20 per bushel stands. The comments which I made in Paris were not related to that agreement. I most certainly can assure the honourable senator that there is no alteration to the Government’s commitment in respect of those 2 matters.
– I ask the Minister for the Media: What has been the effect of his virtual ultimatum to the British television companies that unless they buy more Australian programs on a friendly and voluntary basis he will have to ‘consider other measures’? Will the Minister indicate, what he has in mind in saying that ‘other measures’ will have to be applied?
– I think it was on 5th February last that I addressed a meeting of motion picture distributors and exhibitors in Australia. The head of the American motion picture industry. Mr Jack Valenti, was present at that meeting. I told that gathering - I have since reiterated it - that the Labor Government would encourage co-production arrangements being entered into between British, American and other foreign production companies and Australian film production companies to make programs and films in Australia with the predominant use of Australian labour. I also conveyed a similar expression of opinion to Lord Willis, Baron of Chislehurst, who a a world renowned expert on film and television productions and, of course, as honourable senators will be aware, one of the greatest script writers in the world. Honourable senators will be aware that recently he was in Canberra. As the Minister in the Labor Government responsible for this area of activity, I have set out to get co-operation from the American and British production houses. I can say quite openly that so far as I can see to date that co-operation has been forthcoming. Already a number of programs made in Australia have been sold in British and American markets as well as elsewhere, not only from the private sources of production but also from . the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
I might also mention to the honourable senator that in the last week of April, 6 Australian feature films were being shown in different theatres in Sydney at the same time, and I understand that that is a record for Australia. I am told that the films are being very well received by the Australian public and I am hoping, in my negotiations with the British and American people, to get some of those programs on to the export market. I reiterate to the honourable senator my confidence in the ability of creative Australians to match anyone in the world.
– Does the Minister for the Media accept the results of the recent survey on morale among Australian Broadcasting Commission staff members as reflecting a serious problem for the viewing community? ls the Minister able to say whether it is his opinion that the problem of staff morale follows the excessive criticism levelled at ABC programs in recent years by top figures in the former Liberal-Country Party Government and other conservative groups? ls the Minister able to tell the Senate whether the management personnel in the ABC wilted under this criticism and made staff members feel that they could not effectively present programs to the viewing public without the full support of ABC management? Will the Minister take urgent steps to restore full confidence within the Administration of the ABC., even if this means making drastic changes in management?
– I can tell the honourable senator that some time ago a public management consultant firm known as McKinsey and Co. conducted a survey of the affairs of the British Broadcasting Corporation and as a result a number of alterations were made to its structure. The Australian Broadcasting Commission subsequently commissioned that same firm, Mckinsey and Co., to do a similar study of the administration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. That study has been partly completed, but I understand that the full results will not be completed or made known for about another 2 months. During the course of that study it was agreed between the management of the ABC, the ABC Staff Association and the ABC Senior Officers Association that a survey should be made of the effects of staff procedures and working arrangements within the Commission.
I understand that the inquiry was carried out on a co-operative basis and is part of the general inquiry as to worker participation in the administration of the affairs of the Commission. In many respects a pioneering attitude was adopted. I think the only other company in Australia heretofore that had taken an interest in conducting such a survey was the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd. I am given to understand that another Commonwealth department has undertaken a similar survey. I have not yet seen the results of the ABC survey. I understand that the results of the survey are on their way to me now. The survey was conducted throughout the whole of the staff. Some 1 1 1 questions were to be answered by the staff.I understand that the results have been published by the Staff Association and the Senior Officers Association of the Commission. AsI say, I am informed that the results of the questionnaire are on their way to me now.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Media, refers to the screening last night on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s current affairs program This Day Tonight’ of an extract from a play-acted film showing a woman having an illegal abortion. That film was screened earlier this week through arrangements made by the Minister for Health. The television program falsely claimed that I attended that screening. 1 ask: What avenues are open to me to ensure that the program This Day Tonight’ correctly informs the viewers of the fact that I was not at that screening? Will the Minister assist me to clear my good name in this regard?
-I have constantly reiterated in this Parliament that it is the policy of this Government not to interfere politically in the programming arrangements of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. As 1 indicated to Senator Carrick yesterday by way of an answer to a question which had been placed on the notice paper, the ABC is considering the establishment of a complaints department. Pending further consideration being given by the Commission to the establishment . of that deparment, I most certainly will refer the matter that has been raised by Senator Kane to the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I will ask the General Manager to make inquiries and, if necessary, to have the matter rectified by the program.
-I desire to ask a supplementary question. Is the Minister for the Media prepared to assist me with my request to the General Manager, or is he saying my only recourse is legal action?
– I have already told the honourable senator that I will refer the matter to the General Manager of the ABC and ask him to make the appropriate inquiries. If the Commission feels that it is necessary for a correction to be made, he will undoubtedly see that a correction is made.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. In view of the delay in proceeding with Government business brought about by the diversionary tactics being used, will the Minister seek an assurance from the Opposition that it will give priority to the passage of the Defence Services Homes Bill and so relieve the considerable financial hardship and other problems for many persons awaiting the passage of the Bill?
– I have been in communication with the Minister for Housing this morning. He is very much concerned with the fact that his Department has received a number of protests from persons who are awaiting the passage of this legislation which will lift the ceiling of the permissible amount that can be borrowed for the purchase of a home which may be available for purchase now but which many not be available at some time in the future. I have told the Minister what the position is in the Senate. If it necessitates my making an appeal to the Opposition, I will make that appeal. Let me say that while-
– Order! This question and the answer are beginning to assume the shape of an attempt to pre-empt a matter which is on the notice paper, Senator Cavanagh.
– -I believe that the order of business is an arrangement between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. If that is so, I appeal to both leaders to realise the urgency of this matter and to bring it on as speedily as possible. The other night when the Bill was introduced Senator Rae indicated to me privately that he was most anxious to give it a speedy passage through the chamber.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents the Prime Minister.
Is it a fact that the Australian Government has recognised North Vietnam? Does it follow that there is a recognition by the Australian Government and the Australian Labor Party that there are 2 Vietnams? Is it a fact that while in opposition the Labor Party argued that there was only one Vietnam? When did the Labor Party change its mind on this subject? Does the Labor Party now actually recognise that there are 2 Vietnams?
– Although the question was addressed to Senator Murphy I think it falls more within my domain. As I have said here before, our position in relation to the recognition of the 2 Vietnams is that we recognise the realities of a certain situation. We will never reach the situation in which the world is presented to all individuals in the way in which ‘they would want to see it. In fact, honourable senators in this chamber would want to draw different pictures anyway. In relation to the Vietnam situation, the fact is that roughly half of the country is being controlled by the North Vietnamese and half is being controlled by the South Vietnamese. We have recognised both governments, as have many other countries.
– I direct my question to the Special Minister of State. Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister stated in replay to Mr Sinclair that Mr Li ‘would undoubtedly be able to come to Australia under the same conditions as any other person comes from Taiwan’, namely, in an unofficial capacity. As Mr Li was coming in an unofficial capacity, is it not a reasonable deduction that the Australian Government was prepared to allow Mr Li to attend the meeting until it received a complaint from the People’s Republic of China? What other countries have made a similar agreement with the People’s Republic of China - an agreement, apparently, which enables the People’s Republic virtually to veto the entry of Taiwanese into Australia?
– Mr Whitlam’s reply to the question asked by Mr Sinclair was given on the clear understanding that Mr Li was coming as a private citizen. But then Mr Sinclair himself referred to Mr Li as the Minister for Finance in Taiwan. It was Mr Sinclair who brought this into the open. Because of that we anticipated, as I said yesterday, that there would be a complaint because of the arrangements we had made with the People’s Republic of China. There was a complaint and it left us no alternative, if we were to keep our side of the bargain, but to tell Mr Li that we would not issue him with a visa. As far as I know, these sorts of arrangements have been made with the People’s Republic of China by most of the countries of the world.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It concerns the subject of man-made nuclear fallout and relates to the tabled reports of the National Radiation Advisory Committee, the Academy of Science and the Atomic Weapons Testing Committee and specifically to certain information which I have sought to obtain, very unsuccessfully, from the Minister. I ask: What is the current Australian fallout? Is it 2 milli-rads or less? Is it one of the lowest in the world? What contribution have the Chinese and French tests made to the total fallout? Is the Chinese fallout approximately 20 per cent of total fallout, the French approximately 60 per cent, and the residual British, American and Russian fallouts IS per cent to 20 per cent? Is the Chinese fallout to date approximately one-third of the French? As this information must be freely and immediately available, from the Minister’s advisers and because its nature cannot possibly prejudice the Government’s approach to the International Court of Justice, will the Minister make it available either now or prior to his departure?
– The honourable senator is asked to place that question on the notice paper. In case, he suggests that the answer will be available to him before I go to the International Court, I tell him that it may not be. I ask him to place the question on notice.
– It has been on notice for 6 weeks and it has not been answered. In fact, it was declined to be answered.
– For the assistance of honourable senators I tell the Senate that Australia has pending a case before the International Court of Justice. I do not propose to answer and I do not see that it is necessary for me to answer the honourable senator’s question prior to my departure for the International Court of Justice. I ask him to put the question on notice. I am not suggesting that it will be answered before I go to the International Court.
– I have information relating to the question Senator Mulvihill asked me earlier today. If I may, while I am on my feet, I shall provide some information which I promised Senator Rae yesterday. Senator Mulvihill asked a few moments ago about our diplomatic arrangements with Poland. As honourable senators know we have diplomatic arrangements with that country. It is represented in Canberra by a Charge d’Affaires. We intend to set up an embassy in Warsaw. We expect to have an advance team there later this month.
– Yesterday Senator Rae asked:
In view of the fact that the Government has a desire to assist in the provision of proper medical services and atd for the people of South East Asia affected by the Indo-China war can the Minister state why the medical teams and medical aid formerly sent to South Vietnam have been withdrawn? 1 pointed out that we were increasing aid to South Vietnam but that I did not have partiesulars about the teams. To explain the situation I shall quote part of a Press statement of 29th December 1972. An announcement was made that the Australian medical aid program in Vietnam is to change its emphasis from patient care aid to the fields of public health and medical training. The revised program follows a major review of Australian medical aid to Vietnam. As part of this review a team of 3 doctors, led by Sir William Refshauge, the Director-General of Health, visited Vietnam in November 1971. The team included a senior Adelaide surgeon and former leader of 2 surgical teams in Vietnam, Mr Mervyn Smith, and Dr J. Boxall of the Department of Health.
The new program is based on the review team’s recommendations. As an example of how this is being phased in I point out that the phasing out of the final surgical team at Bien Hoa will coincide with the completion of a major rebuilding project at the Bien Hoa hospital carried out under the medical aid program at a cost of $1,450,000. The new medical assistance program has already taken’ shape and Australia is constructing a prophylactic and diagnostic clinic in Saigon at an estimated cost df $250,000. This community health clinic will provide normal outpatient facilities, dispensary, a small laboratory, X- ray facilities, minor operating room and a maternity wing. The building is expected to be completed by April. In addition to the public health clinic project, medical training programs for the Vietnamese civil medical teachers and public health staff are being planned. These courses will be held in Australia and Vietnam. Already, at the request of the Vietnamese authorities a senior Australian surgeon is undertaking- a training program for medical teaching staff at the Cho Ray teaching hospital in Saigon.. Further training assistance within Vietnam is planned for doctors in the fields of X-ray diagnosis, ear, nose and throat surgery and . public health administration.
– Order! I make this observation: I know that this matter is of deep interest to the Senate. But there has to be an orderly method by which the notice paper is observed by the Senate; and in which the business of the’ Senate is dealt ‘ with. Under the heading of ‘Questions’ comes the matter of Ministers providing answers to questions which have been asked . previously.
– I looked, at that, Mr President. I seek your advice. For instance, I had 2 deferred answers the other day but those concerned did not ask about them. They were incorporated in Hansard.. 1 just did not know whether one should jump up at this stage to put-:-
– No. I think that additional information should be given at the conclusion of the giving of replies to questions previously asked on notice.
– Yes. The only thing about Senator Mulvihills question is that I took the opportunity to add to what I had already stated.
– I am quite happy about your giving additional information concerning Senator Mulvihill^ question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is it a fact that the Government has removed many of the restrictions on trade with certain communist countries? If so, has the Government given consideration to the effects which large quantities of imports may have on manufacturing industries and the workers in those industries? What safeguards does the Government intend to introduce in this matter?
– I shall refer the question to the appropriate Minister.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism and Recreation. Does the Minister realise that 70,000 tourists visited the northern Flinders Ranges last year and that the Australian National Tourist Association estimates that the number will increase to 100,000 within 3 years? In view of the Government’s stated interest in tourism and its policy to revamp this sector of the economy, when does his colleague intend to visit South Australia to examine the needs of the tourist industry and the potential of the industry in the Flinders Ranges and other areas in South Australia, such as the Barossa Valley, Eyre Peninsula and the Riverland? If no definite program is planned for this itinerary, will the Minister ask his colleague to consider such a visit as soon as possible?
Obviously, this is a matter for the attention of my colleague the Minister for Tourism and Recreation in another place. I will draw his attention to it and see whether I can obtain an early reply for the honourable senator.
– My question, which is addressed to the Attorney-General, is supplementary to question No. 266 on the Senate notice paper asked by my colleague, Senator Carrick. The subject matter df that question was the basis for another question asked by Senator Carrick of the Attorney-General this morning. Will the Attorney-General agree that he and the Australian Government have possibly made a very grave error of judgment in that he has got the Government to agree that Australia should make an approach to the International Court of Justice at The Hague concerning nuclear testing when, on his own admission, the Attorney-General - the chief law officer of Australia - is unable to say whether the Government accepts the jurisdiction of the Court, whether it will be bound by the Court’s decision and whether it accepts the other aspects which were put to the
Attorney-General by Senator Carrick? Would the Attorney-General agree with me that surely the nation wants to know whether the Government agrees with the powers of the Court before it makes an application to the Court?
– The honourable senator refers to a decision which was made by the Government of this country - by the Cabinet. The decision has been implemented by action by me. I think that it is highly inappropriate to discuss the kind of question which the honourable senator has raised, particularly as he raises it in association with a question previously asked by Senator Carrick. I may say that I found the question asked at this time by Senator Carrick also singularly inappropriate.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows the question asked by Senator Poyser and the answer given by Senator Cavanagh to the effect that in some way the Opposition in this chamber had been delaying or preventing the passage of the Defence Services Homes Bill. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it not a fact that the Defence Services Homes Bill was introduced into this chamber on Tuesday of this week and that the Opposition spokesman at that time indicated that it, the Opposition, would co-operate with the Government in having the measure passed? Is it not a fact that the Leader of the Government in the Senate can determine the order in which Government business is dealt with in the Senate? Is it not a fact that he has not given priority, either yesterday or today in the notice paper, to this Bill? Finally, will he enable the Defence Services Homes Bill, if he regards it as being of the urgency to which Senator Cavanagh referred, to be discussed and passed by the Senate this afternoon before, on his resolution, the Senate suspends its sitting for the meeting of Estimates Committee A?
– Order! There is a proper place on the notice paper - placing of business - for the discovery of this matter. However, in order to get the matter out of the way, I call on Senator Murphy.
– It is true that the Defence Services Homes Bill, was introduced
Into the Senate on Tuesday. As to why it was not dealt with yesterday, everybody knows what happened. The Opposition parties combined to take over the control of the time allotted to Government business and the whole day was spent in discussing a matter of general business. As to what is proposed to be done today, I propose to move a motion when dealing with the placing of business to give priority to these Bills which ought to be given passage. I propose to move that intervening business be postponed until after consideration of the Housing Assistance Bill, the Defence Services Homes Bill, and certain other matters that ought to be dealt with speedily. Also, I will move that Government business take precedence over general business this evening in order that those matters may be dealt with. The distortion that occurred yesterday by general business being dealt with instead of Government business will then be corrected. In this way, honourable senators will be given an opportunity to show whether they are willing to give the Government an opportunity to carry out the measures which the people of Australia want to be carried out.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Works as the custodian of the Snowy Mountains Authority. In view of the claims of the Minister for National Development in the previous Government that the workers compensation and allied damage claims of all former Snowy Mountains Authority workers had been met in full, will he call for the papers of an exSMA worker, one Karl Horvat, a Yugoslav who was injured in May 1967 and who still awaits a court hearing for his’ claim? Will he present a summary to show the Yugoslav community of Sydney that the SMA has met all compensation claims, in view of the solicitude shown last night by all Opposition senators for the rights of members of the Yugoslav community?
– As Minister for Works, I represent the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation but I do not represent the Snowy Mountains Authority. That body falls within the responsibility of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. As the man who had the accident was an employee of the Snowy Mountains Authority, .obviously the matter is one for the Minister for Minerals and Energy. However, I shall take up the matter, endeavour to get a report on it and let the honourable senator know the result. If that necessitates any communication with a particular community, that will be attended to.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As it has been announced that a large number of Bills are to be introduced before the House of Representatives rises, in accordance with past practice will the Government arrange for some of these Bills to remain on the notice paper until August so that there will be some business to go on with pending the start of the Budget debate?
– I am not going to suggest that the Government will be willing to leave matters on the notice paper. If the Senate fails or refuses to pass the legislation which is presented by the House of Representatives, the consequences of that, whatever they might be, will be for further . consideration by the Government.
– Mr President, my question is directed to you in your capacity as co-custodian of the security of Parliament House. In view of the scandalous revelations of what is known in the United States as the Watergate Affair’, where widespread bugging activities are alleged, what provisions have been made to guard against the possibility of buggers operating in party rooms - in Parliament House?
– The security of Parliament House obviously has 2 aspects, namely, the physical security of Parliament House and the intelligence security of Parliament House. The problem of the intelligence security of Parliament House can be coped with, with some reasonable degree of skill, by the Presiding Officers; but honourable senators must remember that embedded in Parliament House is a substantial proportion of the Executive Government. The Presiding Officers have no jurisdiction over’ the intelligence security of the Executive component in Parliament House.
I add that no security system is worth while if the security measures being taken are disclosed publicly. However, I feel that I can indicate to the honourable senator at this juncture that last year, in conjunction with the then Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, I set up a committee of senior clerks to examine the whole question of the security of Parliament and the totality of the jurisdiction of the Presiding Officers in this context. The Attorney-General will be aware that I have written to him, asking him for some technical and scientific assistance, and that I mentioned this to him only the other day by word of mouth. The AttorneyGeneral has given me an assurance that that technical assistance from the resources of the Government will be provided to the ad hoc committee of senior officers of both Houses to enable it to look further at the question of the intelligence security of Parliament House.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to his statement in relation to the emergency adjustment assistance to growers of canning fruit and export apples and pears. The statement details the assistance available to growers and J seek clarification regarding export apple and pear growers. I ask: Is it now possible for such growers to receive for the 1972-73 season up to $1,500 assistance based on exports, a new supplementary grant of $1,000 and continuation of the clear-fell assistance under the fruit growing reconstruction scheme?
– The information which the honourable senator has read out is correct. The only point of qualification is that under the relevant Act the $1,000 payment under the fruit growing reconstruction scheme technically expires on 30th June this year. This does not say that the provisions for reconstruction in that industry will stop at that stage. They will be up for reconsideration, and 1 suggest that in the event of the Government feeling that the restructuring processes under the Act need to be continued they will be continued. However, the terms which the honourable senator indicated are correct.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Did he have an engagement for a conference with the Premier of Tasmania and the Minister for
Agriculture on the subject of revaluation compensation for apple and pear growers during the Tasmanian Premier’s visit to Canberra yesterday for today’s Premiers Conference? Has that conference been held? Is the subject matter of discussion the absurd limitation that the Minister has suggested, limiting compensation to crops of 5,000 bushels? Is the Minister prepared to reconsider that limitation?
– I did have discussions last night with the Tasmanian Premier and the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture on matters concerning the Tasmanian fruit industry. There was no specific discussion on the subject of revaluation compensation payments to the industry. I am not aware of any specific request having been made to me by the Tasmanian Premier to discuss this matter with him. I am not saying that there has not been one; I am saying that I am not aware of there having been one. Senator Wright saw fit to describe the payments as absurd and asked whether I would reconsider them. My answer is no. I believe, as I have said before in this place, that the payments have been made on a basis that is designed to help those who have been affected most.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister state in reply to a question I asked of him earlier today that he had no idea what subsidies the United States of America and other countries grant to their producers? Does he not consider that the actions of overseas governments in this regard have some relevance to Australian Government decisions? Was that knowledge not essential to him in his discussions with representatives of the wheat industry?
– I do not think I used the exact words that the honourable senator quoted. I think I said that I was not aware of the situation with respect to the specific question he asked of me about, I think, a 47c a bushel subsidy on American wheat exports. I said that I was not aware of that. I remain unaware as to whether that is correct. In view of the fact that the Leader of the Australian Country Party has asked me another question on this subject, I think I should quote one or two passages from a speech in Paris by the United States Secretary of Agriculture in order to give some indication of the thinking of the United States Government on the subject. Among other things, he said:
We have terminated all export subsidy programs so that today we have no current program to sell commodities abroad at prices below the purchase price at home.
He went on to talk about the market directed agriculture policies of the present Administration and said:
These actions, taken within a period of 6 months, are part of a longer term movement away from controls and toward a greater reliance on market forces in U.S. agriculture.
There is a lot more of his speech that I could quote to indicate that the suggestions by the Leader of the Country Party that it is only the Australian Government that is thinking in terms of a realistic policy towards the marketing and the prices of our primary products are incorrect: That is not an isolated attitude on our part; it is a policy that is being pursued actively by the United States Administration, the Canadian Government and also the New Zealand Government.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to the questions repeatedly asked of him by Senator Carrick and the question asked of him by Senator Marriott about French nuclear tests. I ask: Is continual questioning along those lines likely to prejudice Australia’s approach to the International Court? Can their questions be interpreted as being a deliberate attempt by the Opposition to support the French position?
– The questions are not likely to prejudice the Australian case before the International Court of Justice because 1 do not propose to answer them.
– My question is supplementary to the previous question I asked of the Attorney-General and supplementary also to the question asked of him by Senator Georges. If I may say so, the AttorneyGeneral would have been more frank if he had said: ‘I do not propose to answer’ instead of Put the question on the notice paper’. I refer to his answer that I should put my earlier question on the notice paper. I now ask: Will the Attorney-General note that question No. 130 in my name dated 13th March - almost 2 months ago - and question No. 147 in my name dated 14th March seek substantially the same information? Since the information sought is objective scientific information that is accepted throughout the whole world and therefore not contestable in a court and since the people of Australia are fully entitled to know about matters which vitally concern them, for what possible legal reason has the Attorney-General persistently refused to answer such questions?
– If his statements are correct, the honourable senator is supplying an additional reason Why the question should not be answered. If he says that information is readily available elsewhere, then it is not appropriate for the question to be asked in the Senate. He suggested that the matter is one of public . record and is generally accepted. That is a matter for him. I do not propose to answer questions, especially oral questions, on this matter on the eve of the case being presented to the International Court of Justice to which the subject matter of the questions relate. I would have thought that if the honourable senator were not persuaded by anything else he ought to be persuaded by his common sense that that ought to be the position.’
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Some weeks ago I asked him could he say whether there was any, truth in Press reports in Adelaide newspapers that a Mr and Mrs Bon field of Elizabeth South in South Australia returned to England at the expense of the Department of Immigration and that this was agreed to during the Christmas period last year. I emphasise :th.at .it was during the Christmas period: - after the Federal election. If this is so, as the Government propounds a policy of open government, will the Minister give the full facts as to why this family was granted financial benefits? Does the Minister for Immigration intend. to give such assistance in future to all migrant families which wish to return to their home countries?
– The details supplied to me by the Department of Immigration are that the Bonfield family arrived in Melbourne on 28th February 1961 - some 12 years ago. There were 10 children in the family. Five were with the parents prior to repatriation. Three had returned to the United Kingdom previously. Two of the older boys had married, and they remained in Australia with their families. I understand that soon after arrival the Bonfield family began to have settlement difficulties. They have been known to the Department for approximately 11 years. During this period the family developed a considerable degree of dependency on the community and on assistance agencies, including of course the Department of Social Security. I understand that Mr Bonfield was in receipt of an invalid pension because he had an abdominal complaint and chronic bronchitis. He also had a serious chest complaint. Mrs Bonfield had been ill on many occasions, and it was thought that the family situation had been a factor contributing to her illness.
According to the Department of Immigration, 2 of the children had come to the notice of authorities for what might be called antisocial behaviour. Prior to their repatriation approval on 5th December 1972 the family had assumed a situation of chronic dependency, with medical conditions as contributory factors, and the Department considered in all the circumstances that the family would benefit if they were returned to the United Kingdom where their relatives and friends could be of assistance to them.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is the Government aware of the facts contained in the report of the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee which was tabled by Senator Murphy last week and which refers to fallout over Australia from nuclear weapons tested by the French in Polynesia during June and July 1972? Is it a fact that the summary and conclusions, as reported on pages 2, 4 and 6 of the report, indicate that in the main there is no danger to the Australian population from the fallout from the tests and that the National Radiation Advisory Committee concludes that ‘this source of radiation presents no hazard to the population’?
– Order! Senator, you cannot give information under the guise of asking a question.
– Mr President, I note that on many ‘occasions ‘ you interrupt my questions, but . you do not do sp in the case of honourable senators on the Government side. I ask that I be permitted to complete my question.
– Order! What is the question?
– My question to Senator Murphy is: As he intends to present a truthful case at the International Court of Justice, does he intend to take this evidence with him?
– I have indicated already that I do not propose to answer questions such as those that have been put by some honourable senators. The honourable senator referred to certain documents which have been tabled. Of course the Government is aware of them; they are public documents and they are available to other persons. I repeat that I find it singularly inappropriate - I will say no more-p-that honourable senators on the Opposition side should be asking questions about a matter of this kind which is to come before the International Court of Justice on behalf of Australia. Let me just add that I noticed that the leader of the honourable senator’s Party- yesterday, I think - made ‘ a strong statement, presumably on behalf of his Party,, relating to the nuclear tests.- The action of the Australian Government in initiating proceedings is being taken on behalf of the whole nation and the people of Australia.
– I direct my question to the Special Minister of State as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government yet received a reply to the protest delivered by the Australian Prime Minister to the Yugoslav Government on 13 April? In view of the delay of almost 4 weeks, why was the protest not in writing and what is the Government doing or proposing to do about what appears to be a contemptuous reception of the protest?
– I shall find out and let the honourable senator know.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware’ that recently I visited New Zealand and that subsequent to: that visit the
Leader of the Opposition in that country publicly expressed full support for the efforts of the New Zealand Prime Minister to have the tests in the Pacific region stopped? The Attorney-General just referred to a statement made yesterday by Mr Snedden, pledging support for the Australian Government’s efforts to prevent the tests from taking place in the Pacific region.
– Order! Senator, will you ask your question?
– Questions have just been directed to the Attorney-General by Opposition senators and I now ask: Is this not yet another example of differences within the Opposition parties - between the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Snedden, and Opposition senators?
– Whatever difficulties the Opposition parties are in with some of their members on various subject matters - this may be one of them - it is plain that in general the Opposition and the Government are in accord, as were the present Government when it was in Opposition and the then Government which is now in Opposition. Both sides are joined in opposition to the conduct of the French atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.
– Earlier in question time this morning Senator Kane asked me whether I could assist him with a request that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should correct a reference made to him in a program on ABC television last night. The honourable senator assured the Senate that he had not attended a film screening referred to in the program. I have had a check made with the officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and I understand that Senator Kane’s suggestion that the program had said he was present at the screening is correct. I am able to inform the honourable senator that, if he desires it, a correction will be made on ABC television tonight. He might indicate to me now whether he wants me to see that that course of action is pursued.
– I would be glad if the Minister would do so.
– I seek leave to direct a question to the Attorney-General.
– Only the AttorneyGeneral can do that.
– I seek leave to remind the Attorney-General that yesterday he promised me he would give me an answer at question time today in relation to a matter which has been on the notice paper for some time. He may recall that he said that he would attempt to answer the question before he left for overseas. The question is of great importance and relates to the civil rights of individuals who have been named as terrorists but who in actual fact may not have had a charge laid against them.
- Senator Webster, we know what the question is.
– Not everybody may know what the question is. If I have permission to ask it, I wish to complete my comments in relation to it.
– There are a lot of important questions on the notice paper and I am trying to do something about them. I assure the honourable senator that I am not idling the days away. I have been engaged heavily with a great deal of public business concerned not only with matters here but also elsewhere. I will still do my best to supply an answer to the honourable senator’s question and others. If there is some opportunity during the course of the day somehow to have these questions checked and so forth, I will endeavour to do it. There is an enormous amount of public business to be dealt with. I accept that questions are an important part of it. But the honourable senator should understand - if he does not understand I invite him to come around to my office and he soon will - that there is a great deal of public business with which 1 am endeavouring to deal as best I can. I accept the importance of his having an answer to his question, and I will do my best to supply one.
– I wish to inform honourable senator’s that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition requesting the discharge of Senator Durack from the service of Estimates Committee A and nominating Senator Wright to fill the resultant vacancy. Also I have received a letter from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party nominating Senator Little to serve on Estimates Committee E.
– 1 seek leave to make a statement.
– Can you indicate to the Senate the nature of the matter?
– It is in regard to affairs in this chamber.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators in this chamber to the situation of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy). I am just a man myself and I do understand just how rauch a man can be pushed beyond the limits of his capabilities. The present Attorney-General is new to his job. He has much to learn about it and he is doing the best he can. On top of that, up to date he has had, I think, 2 overseas trips and he is due for a third one. He is endeavouring to do his best for the people of Australia. I ask those honourable senators who, in my opinion, are pushing him beyond his limits whether they are endeavouring to cause the breakdown of his health. His wife just recently had a baby. I know that she has not been seeing much of him because of his duties. I request honourable senators to take into consideration the fact that the AttorneyGeneral is only a man and cannot be pushed beyond the limits of human capabilities.
– 1 move:
That Senator Durack be discharged from service on Senate Estimates Committee A, that Senator Wright bc appointed to Senate Estimates Committee A, and that Senator Little be appointed to Senate Estimates Committee E.
While I am on my feet I thank Senator Negus, who has just spoken, for his concern for my health. I think that I will manage to cope with the duties of my office and also with the efforts of the Opposition which are in no way succeeding in undermining the attention I am giving to my portfolios. But honourable senators have to recognise that there is a certain limit to what can be done., not only by me but also by my departments and staff in attending to matters. I recognise the importance of the issues which honourable senators raise and I shall endeavour to do the best that I can. I think that if anybody will be worn out it will be the Opposition first.
- Mr President, I seek leave to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) a question in relation to the sittings of the Senate Estimates Committees.
– I have not put the motion yet. Senator Webster, do you wish to address yourself to the motion relating to the appointment of honourable senators to Senate Estimates Committees which is the motion I shall put in a moment?
– I am seeking leave, while we are dealing with the subject, to raise with the Leader of the Government the matter of the sittings of the Senate Estimates Committees.
– That matter will come, later on in the business paper.
– J seek leave to raise the matter.
– Is leave granted?
Government senators - No.
– Leave is not granted.
Question resolved in thi affirmative.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Wellington Telephone Exchange at Perth, Western Australia.
– (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise) - by leave - I would like to make a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and to table in connection therewith a. statement by the Minister for Science (Mr Morrison). The statement by the Prime Minister relates to standards for the protection of consumers and that by the Minister for Science to consumer standards. The statement is as follows:
In the policy speech which Mr Whitlam delivered on behalf of the Australian Labor Party at the last Federal election, he made particular reference to the policies of a Labor government in relation to prices. In this context he referred to the importance of consumer protection activities. Consumer knowledge of the properties and quality of products can serve as a powerful restraint on unjustified price increases.
The Government’s approach will follow 2 principal paths namely:
The purpose at this time is to furnish information on the progress that has been made in regard to the first of these broad approaches. The Government is actively assessing both the needs of consumers and its own existing capabilities in regard to meeting those needs. This examination is proceeding. Both progress and plans for future action will be reported to the House at appropriate times.
Concerning the question of standards for the safety, quality and effectiveness of consumer goods, the Government recognises the need for such standards to be at the one time both realistic and effective. The considerable body of scientific and technological expertise now existing in Australia has much to contribute to the achievements of acceptable balances between the needs and rights of consumers on the one hand and the problems of manufacturers on the other.
The Government will therefore move to exploit the capabilities of its own scientific and technological resources. Various divisions of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and laboratories of several departments are repositories of expertise on which we can capitalise in formulating soundly based and realistic standards for consumer goods.
The Minister for Science (Mr Morrison) will be responsible for co-ordinating the establishment of consumer standards and he will shortly outline the activities of agencies, within his Department, of relevance to consumers. I - that is, the Prime Minister - propose suggesting to State Premiers at the Premiers Conference tomorrow - that is today - that they ask their appropriate Ministers to meet with the Minister for Science to discuss ways of arriving at uniform standards and ensuring that the accepted standards are observed.
We have drawn attention over many years to the potential role of the Defence Standards Laboratories in the Department of Supply. Many of the items tested by the Laboratories were raw materials and other products not generally of consumer interest. On other occasions, tests have been commissioned by private organisations, the results of which became the property of the organisations concerned. Nevertheless tests have been conducted of products which could be of interest although they did not include all brand names reasonably available nor did they generally relate to all properties of the goods.
The Defence Standards Laboratories has, for example, tested kitchen knives, bicycle components, hacksaw blades, herbicides, shoelaces, toothbrushes, pencils, detergents and cleaning components, sunglass lenses and floor tiles. Other Australian Government laboratories have conducted tests particularly in relation to procurement of stores for the Commonwealth Service. The Commonwealth Stores Supply and Tender Board has tested a wide range of office equipment and such other matters and electric lamps, clocks and towelling. Many of these tests were conducted for the Board by the Postmaster-General’s Department which has, in its own right as a major procurement department, conducted other tests such as assessments of the value of retreaded tyres. The laboratories of the Department of Works, to give a final example, have tested anticorrosive coatings and floor tiles.
Unfortunately, the tests conducted have not been in accordance with consumer product testing practice. Many have been directed simply to determine compliance with contractual specifications and others have not been designed to provide comparative results. The most severe restriction for consumer protection purposes arises from the fact that the products tested were not purchased from sources of. supply available to the general public. Tests conducted by the laboratories generally involve products supplied by the manufacturer and, as is well known, consumer organisations would not consider such tests as definitive.
The Australian Government’s laboratories and agencies will proceed with a review of tests conducted in the recent past that may be of consumer relevance and appropriate for public release. The Commonwealth Paint Committee, which is serviced by the Department of Supply, was originally established by the Australian Government in the late 1940s, for the purpose of ensuring that the paints bought by the Government for all purposes, gave a satisfactory service. In time a number of other Australian Government bodies, including the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Department of Housing and the Department of Civil Aviation and a number of Victorian Government departments and authorities, joined the scheme in a collaborative way.
In the early years of the scheme the CPC issued specifications for paints, tested manufacturers’ products offered as conforming to those specifications, and circulated amongst its members lists of those approved products that tests showed did conform. Each participant, when he bought a batch of approved paint, checked it for conformity with the specification. All this testing work was shared between the members according to their interests, testing facilities, and paint use. All results and experience were shared.
In recent years there has been an evolutionary change in the scheme as the capabilities and facilities of the manufacturers have increased. Now the emphasis is on requiring manufacturers to produce a certificate of test, from a laboratory certified as competent by the National Association of Testing Authorities, demonstrating that the paint conforms to specifications. The Department of Supply recently wrote to authorities in those States which are not at present participating in the CPC scheme, informing them of these developments and inviting them to reconsider, if they wish, their participation in the revised arrangements.
In consultation with all relevant authorities we shall investigate the applicability of the CPC scheme, for consumer protection purposes. The testing practices of the various laboratories and agencies will be reviewed from the same perspective. Their work will make a contribution in the development of a national consumer standards scheme. I have asked the Minister for Science to continue, his investigation of the development of consumer standards and the testing of consumer prod ucts. In conjunction with relevant State authorities the resources available to the Australian Government will be applied to the development of consumer information which will serve as an important restraint on unjustified price increases. I move:
– I wish to speak to the motion that the Senate take note of the papers. I note with interest that on the second page of the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on standards for the protection of consumers he states that he proposes suggesting to the State premiers at the Premiers Conference today that they ask their appropriate ministers to consult wilh the Commonwealth about this matter. I am delighted that the Prime Minister is doing this and not trampling over the States as appears evident from his staten ent on appeals to the Privy Council and perhaps in regard to offshore minerals legislation. I am delighted to see that he is starting to indulge in cooperative federalism. The 2 statements which the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has presented are of great interest to all honourable senators. I think that they should be debated properly one day. Therefore, I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - ls it desired to postpone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
– Yes. 1 move:
If the Senate accedes to this motion, that would mean that, apart from the sitting of the Estimates Committee which has been arranged and for which the various officers have been notified to be here this afternoon, we would proceed to deal substantially with the Housing Assistance Bill, the Defence Services Homes Bill and the other matters referred to in the motion. That would mean that those honourable senators who are suggesting that the Bills ought to be dealt with will have an opportunity to enable them and the other important matters concerning grants for education to be despatched by the Senate today.
– I state on behalf of the Opposition that we would oppose the surrender of time for general business tonight to Government business. Much has been made of this matter as a result of questions and answers in the Senate this morning. Yesterday, a lot was made of the fact that the Opposition is delaying and wasting time in the Senate. I turn firstly to what has been said about the Defence Services Homes Bill, lt appears that it has become a matter of great urgency to have it passed. For the information of honourable senators, I thought that I might give some dates concerning this Bill, lt was introduced into the House of Representatives on 7th March 1973. over 2 months back. The resumption of the second reading debate did not take place until 11th April 1973. The debate was adjourned on that day and was not resumed again until 2nd May 1973. This is the Defence Services Homes Bill 1973, which we are told in this place today is a matter of urgency. It was in the other chamber from 7th March to 11th April; finally, it was passed on 2nd May; and it came into this place on 8th May - that is, Tuesday of this week. Yet it is now being suggested to us that it has some urgency.
Of course the Opposition realises that the Government has an obligation to gets its legislation through and we know that a number of people are waiting on the passage of this Bill in order to purchase homes. But this is an option for the Government to take. It is for the Government to exercise its option whether to bring this legislation on at 2.15 p.m. today. With the co-operation that would be forthcoming from this side, the Government co’uld dispose of it well before 6 p.m. today. However, the Government has opted the other way and I do not quarrel with it over that is within its prerogative. If Senator Murphy likes to opt to arrange for a meeting of an estimates committee instead, that is his choice.
On the proposition that we ought to surrender General Business, I think I said yesterday that the Senate is now sitting in its seventh or eighth week and in that total period the Opposition groups have moved only 2 emergency motions. This is a vast change from what the Government did when in Opposition. It moved an emergency motion almost every Wednesday. I said yesterday and 1 say again that I do not quarrel with the Government having done that when in Opposition. A few useful statistics on what happened yesterday show that the debate on the placing of business took 2 hours 20 minutes when that matter ought to have been disposed of after, say, one short speech from either side of this place. According to statistics provided to me, Senator Gair took 49 minutes to make a 30- minute speech during which, according to Hansard and the information supplied to me, there were 1 1 recorded interjections by Government senators. Who, then, is wasting the time of this place?
Therefore I fail to see why the Party which I have the honour to lead in this place should surrender General Business tonight. Today being Thursday, normally there would be a 2- hour debate on Senate committee reports. As I read the notice paper, the matter listed for debate is the second report of the House Committee which was presented in May 1972. Since that report is now a year old, I doubt whether there is an urgency about it. I personally have no objection to the balance of the 3-hour time set down in the sessional orders being taken up by Government Business. But 1 think that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) is asking far too much. He must opt whether this afternoon he wants a sitting of an estimates committee or legislation. We care noi which one he wants, and whichever he wants we will co-operate. It is his option. But he may not do something else at the expense of Thursday night’s General Business.
– I rise to support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). I had hoped that there would be a continuance of the debate on the proposed appointment of a Senate committee to examine the matter of civil rights of Australian migrants. It is true that the debate on that issue could have been concluded yesterday had it not been for the usual, excessive, inexcusable and deliberate interruption of the proceedings of the Senate.
The figures given by the Leader of the Opposition are accurate: It took me 49 minutes to make a speech that normally would have’ taken IS to 17 minutes.
– You could not read the typescript.
– It is a pity about reading. I read too well for some honourable senators. 1 had hoped that there would be a resumption of that debate and that the matter would be disposed of. In the ordinary course of events tonight would be devoted to the discussion of General Business. Honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber made a lot of noise yesterday about the claim that I could have moved the motion 1 moved yesterday on a Thursday night. I now want a continuance of the debate tonight, but I am being frustrated in my endeavours. 1 propose to move an amendment to the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. lt is in the form of an addition. 1 move:
At the end of motion add: ‘, except for General Business Order of the Day No. 15, which will have precedence at 8 p.m.’
– 1 support the remarks of Senator Withers and Senator Gair. The Australian Country Party believes that the Government should devote the time that would normally have been devoted today to the debating of committee reports to Government Business, but it has seen fit to devote it to estimates committee business, and the Government has seen fit to have only one estimates committee sitting this afternoon. Senator Douglas McClelland said yesterday that that was designed to enable honourable senators to attend the meeting of that estimates committee. There are 6 estimates committees. Does that mean that 6 afternoons are to be set aside for the sittings of those committees? Is all that time to be lost because only one committee is to sit at any one time. Perhaps the Government will have another look at this matter and decide to have 2 or 3 estimates committees sitting at any one time.
I believe that Government Business must be dealt with, but Senator Murphy would be the first to agree with me when I say that, when as Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, I tried to obtain extended sitting hours by attempting to take away the time set aside on a Thursday night for the discussion of General Business, as Senator Murphy is attempting to do today, the Opposition cried out in horror about backbench senators having their privileges taken away from them. Being in that situation now we are saying the same thing. 1 support Senator Withers on this matter.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I seek clarification on a matter which is becoming increasingly unclear to me. It will be recalled that last Thursday night the Senate adopted a motion calling for the setting up of a select committee to look into the King Island shipping service and that Senator Murphy has now moved a motion that, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the resolution of 3rd May relating to the appointment of members to serve on the committee be varied to read in a certain way. The problem I have in regard to this matter is that the motion which was moved on 3rd May by Senator Wright, subsequent to a decision of the Senate, has as one of its requirements that the Leader of the Government in the Senate shall appoint members to serve on that committee within a period of 7 days. On my calculations the period of 7 days will expire today.
– That is your problem
– I think it is the Senate’s problem. In any case, I think Senator Webster should keep quiet for a moment while I get my point of order cleared up. I have raised a point of order in an attempt to clarify a matter of procedure as to what will happen with respect to Senator Murphy’s notice of motion if the Senate is in fact required to act by the conclusion of its business today.
– That is not a point of order.
– I wish Senator Wright would keep quiet for a moment. I am trying to get some clarification from the chair. I am not seeking his advice. When I do seek it I wi’.l pay for it.
– That is not a point of order.
– It is a point of order. I would like some clarification from you, Mr Deputy President, as to what the position is.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I think the honourable senator is seeking clarification. He should have asked for leave to do that. I was waiting for the point of order. I .find that there is no point of order. The matter which he has raised will be treated as a statement which has been made without leave. I believe that it deserves some consideration and clarification.
– I take a point of order. I take it, Mr Deputy President, that you are reflecting upon my integrity in putting the matter in the way in which 1 did. I hope you will clarify that point.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - No. I was referring to the mechanics of the procedure. I will confer with the Clerks on the matter which the honourable senator has raised.
– I believe that the matter which the Senate is discussing is one of great importance. I have great confidence that the truth will generally come to light in the Senate. 1 do not believe that in this instance the Government has expressed the truth when its members have suggested that the Opposition is frustrating the Government’s program. 1 think Senator Murphy could well be truthful in this place and give the actual facts. In my view, there are 2 important matters which are raised in this regard. The back bench members of the Government will have to conform to the wishes of their Leader if they are to get business through the Senate. They have not been doing that in the past few days.
Today they denied me the opportunity, by refusing me leave, to question the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) as to why 4 hours of Senate sitting time this afternoon should be devoted to the one Estimates Committee - Estimates Committee A. This is a most unique situation. Yesterday a Minister said that the reason for this was so that honourable senators could attend the sitting of that Committee. I do not know whether the Leader would agree with that statement, but it sounded so stupid to me that I wish to raise the matter today. If that is the fact, it indicates that for 6 more afternoons or mornings the Leader of the Government wants the Senate to devote that much time to the sittings of Senate Estimates Committees. They were originated so that the business of the Senate could be facilitated with a number of committees, senators being allocated to them, being able to sit at the one time. The most important business that the Government has this afternoon is for Senate Estimates Committee A to spend 4 hours of Senate time dealing with its estimates. 1 ask you, Mr Deputy President, whether the Gov ernment is truthful when it says that it wishes to clear the business that is on the Senate notice paper.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - It is not in order for the honourable senator to ask me that question.
– Then I pose it to the Leader of the Government. I hope that he will answer it. It is obvious that if the Government wished to deal with the business 3 Estimates Committees would be sitting this afternoon. If the business of the Senate is so important, the Senate would be sitting this afternoon and we would be dealing with the matters which the Government considers are important. We would be dealing with the important housing and education Bills. I plead with the Leader of the Government to alter his view and, in an attempt to assist the Senate to get through its business, to cancel the Estimates Committee meeting this afternoon. We could deal with and pass the housing Bills this afternoon. We could take the normal course of allowing 2 or 3 Senate Estimates Committees to sit later in the session. I ask the Leader of the Government to follow that course of action.
- Mr Deputy President-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Are you speaking to the amendment?
– Yes. I would like to answer some of the points that have been raised. Senator Webster made a plea about Estimates Committee A meeting this afternoon. I informed the Senate yesterday that this would be done. It appears in the Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings - the proceedings on Wednesday, 9th May. After the appointment of the Estimates committees I made a statement, by leave, about the proposed sitting of Estimates Committee A on Thursday, 10th May 1973. It is not recorded that anyone moved anything, suggested anything or did anything else. As every honourable senator knows, notification goes out. This means a considerable interruption to the work of some 4 or 5 departments of state. It was after that course was announced and not dissented from that endeavours were made to take over the Government business which was set down for yesterday. The Opposition parties combined successfully to take out of the hands of the Government the conduct of its business. The Opposition parties took over the time allotted by common consent to the Government to have its business dealt, with. So we arrive at what is to happen today. It is proposed that Estimates Committee A sit. Does the honourable senator suggest that the Senate continue sitting while one Estimates committee sits?
– No. Tell us why only one committee is to sit.
– For one thing, certain honourable senators have indicated that they do not wish to be deprived of their opportunity to attend and to ask questions. If all honourable senators are given the opportunity to attend the Estimates Committee hearing one would think it would not be necessary for the matters it deals with to be gone over again in the Senate, as has happened in the past. No opposition was expressed yesterday to this course being followed. We have arrived at the stage at which it is proposed thai Estimates Committee A meet this afternoon. The question really is whether these matters should be dealt with, and we consider that they should be dealt with. The Senate ought to proceed with the important legislation put forward by the Government. The Estimates also are relevant to the Government’s legislation.
The Opposition succeeded in taking over the Government’s affairs for the Whole of yesterday and this is a repetition of what happened then. This obviously is part of a concerted campaign to take from the Government the conduct of affairs in the Senate. That is a fact of which anyone sitting in this chamber can be aware. The Government, to use the words used yesterday by Senator Withers, is being frustrated constantly by the Opposition. The Opposition conceives it to be its function to frustrate the Government in the orderly management of its affairs. Yesterday there was not the slightest reason why there should have been an invasion of the time allotted for Government Business. Today, instead of a correction being made, as was done often in the past, with Government Business taking precedence over General Business after 8 p.m. on Thursday, the Opposition parties have continued with the course of conduct adopted by them yesterday of endeavouring to frustrate in every way the Government’s conduct of business. The result of this course of conduct will be inevitable. It will drive the Government into a position where it will seek, by every constitutional means, to correct what is happening. The Government will face the fact that this endeavour is being made. Honourable senators opposite might as well put a truthful face on it. This is being done by combination. Everyone knows that this is a concerted campaign by the 3 Opposition parties to take over the control of the Senate.-
– You would not know anything. That is a pack of lies.
– -The Government will resist any pressure from the Opposition parties to take over the control of the Senate. The Government will continue to press for its business to be dealt with in an orderly fashion.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the objectionable remark, ‘That is a pack of lies’, made by Senator Webster be withdrawn. I ask that the remark be withdrawn as it was offensive to me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Senator Webster, a request has been made that your interjection be withdrawn. I find it highly unparliamentary and suggest that it be withdrawn.
– I will withdraw the remark if the words ‘treating the truth a little lightly’ are considered more appropriate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Of course, the interjection itself is disorderly.
– I ask that the Senate reject the amendment. 1 now refer to the matter raised by Senator Devitt as to what course will be adopted in relation to Government business, notice of motion No. 1, relating to a resolution of the Senate on Thursday last. In the course of the day I will give some consideration as to what I will invite the Senate to do.
– I certainly will not give you leave.
– No more leave will be given to the Government.
– I hear the remarks of Senator Little of the DLP and Senator Webster. Senator Little says ‘No more leave will be given to the Government’. Do 1 take that to mean that Senator Little and Senator Webster have indicated that the Leader of the Government will be given no more leave in. this Senate?
– The Leader of the DLP was refused leave and you are no superior person in the Senate. If Senator Gair is not given leave, you certainly will not be given leave. You had better discipline your own fellows.
– I regret that these statements are being interjected. I remind the Senate that it was I who moved that the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party be given permission to continue his speech. I ask the Senate to reject the amendment and to allow the Senate to go about its business according to the ordinary traditions. I ask that the time for debate of Government measures this week be not distorted and broken down by the intervention of the Opposition parties.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Gair’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– In accordance with the resolution of the Senate relating to the business of the Senate, the sitting of the Senate is suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended front 1.4 to 8 p.m.
Report on Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1973
– Pursuant to the order of the Senate, I present the report from the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1973.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That consideration of the Bill in Committeeof the Whole be an order of the day, for the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 9 May (vide page 1479). on motion by Senator Gair:
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following matters:
the unwarranted deprivation of liberty, privacy or good reputation; and, if so, what review or amendment of the law or administrative or judicial procedures is necessary or desirable;
That the Committee shall observe the following rules for the protection of witnesses:
receive and dispose of requests from such person to subpoena additional witnesses;
– Mr President, this is the continuation of a debate on a motion moved yesterday by Senator Gair which has as its purpose the establishment of a select committee to inquire into a number of matters. In essence, the committee is to inquire, first into whether the civil rights of a number of Australians, specifically migrants - and, more specifically, people of Croatian origin - are being infringed; secondly, whether there is any intimidation against any such Australians from any source, specifically from agents or officers of the Yugoslav Government, whether those persons be intelligence agents or secret police of that government, or from some other source; thirdly, to inquire into the circumstances of the visit by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) to the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in March; and fourthly to look virtually at the problems that now arise of dual citizenship of migrants and the threat to their lives and to their freedom when they travel abroad. Therefore, the motion is a most important one. The aim is to appoint a committee of 7 senators.
Last night 1 referred to a number of characteristics of this motion. If the Labor Government is to be consistent with all ils actions and words up to the 27th March when the Attorney-General delivered his speech in this chamber on alleged Croatian terrorism, the Government must in conscience support the establishment of this select committee. 1 remind the Senate that in September of last year, the then Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, moved for the appointment of a standing committee for precisely this purpose. I remind the Senate also that last year Senator Murphy said that, in the event of a royal commission being set up to inquire into these matters, he would not press for the appointment of that standing committee. I further remind the Senate that, throughout the course of last year, the whole pressure of the Labor Party was to ensure that there should be absolute civil liberties and that there should be no breach of such liberties by the Attorney-General of the day, Senator Greenwood, by his officers or by any other person.
I recall to the Senate that the device suggested - and this of some importance - by the then Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, was to appoint a standing committee of the Senate to investigate the matter. The standing committee to which Senator Murphy sought to refer the investigation - one of profound consequence - was the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, the membership of which at that time comprised 2 members of the Australian Labor Party - a minority in number - 2 members of the Liberal Party, one member of the Australian Country Party and one member of the Australian Democratic Party. The then Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, specifically indicated that he believed that a standing committee or a select committee of the Senate comprising Party representation of such proportions would be capable of discharging and would discharge an impartial investigation and would produce an impartial report. 1 remind the Senate that Senator Murphy then was willing for this investigation to be undertaken with the Labor Party holding a minority of representation on that Committee. So, last year, Senator Murphy saw the instrument of a Senate committee - in that case, a Senate standing committee - constructed as it was in this way. as the ideal weapon, short of a royal commission, to inquire into this matter and to find the facts that he was seeking.
I would hope that members of the Australian Labor Party in this chamber would not rise to their feet in this chamber now and challenge the proposed construction of the suggested select committee, which is to have a membership of 7 senators. The proposed membership is in precise proportions in Party terms to the membership of the committee that Senator Murphy sought last year. So. do not let us have any idea that a committee in which the Labor Party is in a minority cannot discharge an impartial task. Last year the Labor Party said that it believed that such a committee could do that job. May I add that the focus of Australian attention will be spotlighted on this committee. Whatever its composition and whatever the numbers of Party representation on it, the Australian community will demand of this committee, as will the Senate, that it shall be impartial in its findings. Indeed, I have heard the present Attorney-General many times in this chamber refer to the objectivity of Senate committees
– Not any longer!
– Well, the present Attorney-General acknowledges that in Government he sees with a jaundiced eye. One has little need to wonder at this because the jaundice is self inflicted. If ever a person inflicted political hepatitis on himself, the same Minister has done so in the last month. Let us not talk nonsense. Let the Attorney-General remove his index finger from pointing in my direction. If anybody is to be pointed out, he is. He is the target to be indicated in this matter. He is the purpose of the appointment of this committee.
– That is right.
– Who is the man who raided ASIO? Who is the man who made a statement to the Senate on alleged Croatian terrorism? Who is the man who tabled 2,600 pages of ASIO documents - formerly secret documents - in the Senate? Who alleged a conspiracy on the part of public servants-
– A better man than you are, Gunea Din.
– That will be the value judgment of the Australian community and I will rest on that decision. Who is the man who, after the event, after he had stated these things in the Senate, and after he had produced not one charge and not one conviction, then sought to get evidence in a post facto raid, a midnight raid? Who is the man who did this? This is the man who says by indication to me, by waggling his index finger to me as some school master would do: ‘Not now; not when we are in government. We do not think that committees will function as they did before’. Let me say to the Attorney.General and 1 will waggle, my finger at him as I put my test - that if that is so, it behoves the Attorney-General to abolish all standing committees of this Senate now because their construction now is precisely the same as the way in which they worked when we were in Government. If they are wrong, they arc fundamentally wrong. I remind the AttorneyGeneral of this fact: The device that we are offering to this chamber in the form of this motion is precisely the device that he sought until the lime when he made his speech on 27th March.
The fundamental question for the people of Australia to ask is: Why did a man up until 27th March of this year seek to have everything that was possible known about this Croatian affair and seek to have the most minute situation argued out before the former Attorney-General, and why from the moment when he tabled certain documents and made his speech on alleged Croatian terrorism has he rejected and resisted every form of inquiry? He said to us here: ‘We must have an open inquiry into all these things’. Now the shutters are rolled down. If tonight the Labor Party in this Senate votes to reject the motion seeking the establishment of this select com mittee there can be one reason and one reason only for it doing so; it is covering up. It has everything to hide. The. Labor Party senators can refuse an investigation only if they are frightened of what it will reveal. Let nobody argue against that, because we are offering to the Australian Labor Party what it sought from us some 7 months ago.
Let us see why a select committee should be established. Last night I mentioned the fact that a considerable number of statutory’ declarations - they are still flowing in - alleged that there have been breaches of civil liberty. Surely they must be investigated. I. remind the Senate that the Attorney-General rose to his feet and admitted - and admitted without apology - that there had been a raid, without a warrant, on the home of the Till family at Narrabundah. The pretext for the raid was the assertion - it was an assertion and not an allegation, to make the pretext sound as though it could stick - that they were looking for a man who had threatened the life of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. I predict that the Attorney-General will find that a very troublesome statement to live with in the future because the right of the Ivan Pavlovics of this world is one of the fundamental rights, whether in fact history proves him innocent or otherwise on this issue.
Having said that, let us look at the second item in paragraph (I) of the motion, which is in these terms: whether there has been or is intimidation or undue pressure applied to members of Australian migrant communities and, in particular, to members of the Australian Croation community, and the Ukranian community. Slovenian community, Macedonian community. Montenegran community and the Ukranian community at the instance or in the interests of the Yugoslav Government or any other Government, and, in particular, whether any members of the Secret Police of another country have applied such intimidattion or undue pressure or otherwise have been active among members of the migrant communities in Australia;
If the Attorney-General resists an inquiry into this term of reference he resists an inquiry basically into the very documents he tabled. If there is a purpose for documents being tabled in this Senate surely it is for them to be studied and inquired into. May I remind the Senate that, apart from the dreadful feature that those Australian Security Intelligence Organisation documents name people without charging them, imply guilt without offering any proof at all-
– At least they were disclosed.
– 1 acknowledge that they were disclosed, and their disclosure therefore places the total responsibility on the Labor Party, and particularly on the honourable senator who interjected, to stand by the evidence. As the honourable senator is out of his seat, I remind him that perhaps he would sit more comfortably elsewhere. He is, I understand, a displaced person. A number of themes run through those documents. The Attorney-General used the evidence in the ASIO documents when it suited him; he ignored it when it was not to his purpose. In another speech in this place I said that the Attorney-General sought to build one case only, namely, to establish without any proof the guilt of Croatian people in a plot, in a revolutionary upsurge in this country. He ignored the fundamentals in those documents. I remind honourable senators that the documents say, amongst other things, that the Croatian people offer no threat, hold no grudge, have no reaction against the Australian people, that they are dedicated to Australia as their homeland, and that none of their actions are directed in any harmful way to the Australian people. Was that information disclosed? No.
The documents then go on to say that there will be 2 directions in which any activities will be directed; one will be to the consulates and the Embassy of the Yugoslav Government in Australia and the other will be towards the Government of Yugoslavia in Yugoslavia itself. The documents then say that the Australian Croatian people believe that they are being subjected to intimidation by agents of the Yugoslav Government in Australia. This is what the documents state - not me. Fancy a responsible government seeing that in these documents and ignoring it.
The documents go on to say that there is a strong inference that in Australia the Yugoslav Government, through its Embassy and its consulates, is not only pursuing proper diplomatic activities but is using its position in Australia, its invitation to be part of Australia, to embark upon secret police and intelligence activities and that those activities are directed towards the intimidation of those Australians who do not support the existing regime in Yugoslavia. That is a serious implication. It is an implication that cuts across the whole idea of a democratic country. Does this Government intend to stand by and allow that implication to be made in documents tabled in this Parliament and not attempt to investigate the matter? Is this Government willing to say: ‘We do not mind if there are secret police; we . do not mind if there are in Australia secret agents of the Yugoslav Government; we do not mind if in fact it is true that they are intimidating Australian citizens who do not hold - they are quite entitled not to do so - to a belief in the present Yugoslav regime’?
Let me pause here, Mr President, and say that if honourable senators on the Government side are asking where this appears in the documents, this proposed committee will enable them to search the documents, to put their hands on all these things and to pursue them. It is the absolute right of any Australian citizen, naturalised or unnaturalised, to hold views that are opposed to those of an existing regime, lt is the absolute right of people in this country to exhibit portraits, to fly Hags of past regimes and past leaders, even though you and I might detest those persons. Last night Senator O’Byrne who is now vocally interjecting had the same political selectivity as his Leader. I will explain what he did. He said: ‘I will select Colonel Pavelic as the near nazi who led the Ustasha and I will brand htm as a nazi, a fascist, a bloody murderer’. History, of cour.se, says that this man was those things, but a great silence fell upon the Labor Party because it conveniently wipes out of history, as did Stalin and those after him, those things in history that embarrass it. What it does not recall is that the current President of Yugoslavia, Tito, is one of the bloody murderers of history.
– Order! I remind the honourable senator that the Standing Orders are quite clear that no reference of that nature must be made to the head of a friendly State.
– 1 bow to your ruling, Mr President. Without making references, I draw the attention of this Senate to the massacre at Bleiberg at the end of the hostilities of World War II. I remind the Senate, and specifically Senator O’Byrne, that objective historians place as the number of people murdered by the persons then in command of Yugoslavia in the order of at least 150,000 and probably 200,000. The majority of those people were innocent of any offence. Also I remind the Senate that a man who valiantlyled the Chetniks - a valiant non-communist - Mihailovic was executed. Therefore it is not good enough to name call. The wounds of World War II ought to be over.
– Hear, hear.
– I understand something of Senator O’Byrne’s reaction to nazism and fascism. He has no monopoly on having felt the yoke of nazism or fascism, as he well knows. I understand and sympathise with him in his reaction. But World War II is over. The hates and fears, except for the message, ought to be over. Do not let us go around poking out our tongues. I remind the Senate that it is the right of any Australian to believe in a regime which is different to the one existing, and to exhibit photographs and flags. It ought not to be the case that policemen come in and demand: ‘What is that portrait? What is that flag?’ It will be a sad day for Australia when in this country a person in his own home cannot exhibit portraits and flags which offend against a regime elsewhere or, indeed, against this regime. Yet this is happening. I said to the Senate that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation documents themselves point to suggestions that there are secret police in Australia. They go further. In referring to the murder of a Croatian general in Spain they state that it is accepted that he was murdered by Tito’s agents in Spain and that it is the common practice of the Yugoslav Government to use agents as its assassins against its enemies throughout the world. This is acknowledged.
I remind honourable senators that in the ASIO documents which were tabled by the Attorney-General there was reference to incidents such as the Warburton Range incident in relation to which a number of people - the matter is sub judice - are on trial, allegedly because they sought to make a cache of explosives in the Warburton Range. I also remind the Senate that the ASIO documents talk of a man named Mudrinic and at least state that he was an employee of the consulate, and undoubtedly was an informer. Now emerging from photographs allegedly taken of him in Belgrade is fairly abundant suggestion that the man may well have been a Yugoslav Government agent acting as a provoker of incidents and setting up people to dc things so that the regime could obtain a case.
How many more of these kinds of things must we go on with before we say that at least there is circumstantial evidence to argue that there ought to be a select committee to investigate these matters? After all, that is all that is being asked. If we are wrong then this can be proved. I ask honourable senators: What about the statutory declarations which are coming to hand and which say that the circumstances of the Bosnian incident are totally different from what the Yugoslav Government has said. I cannot reflect upon the leader of a government but I can say that admittedly-
– Order! Usher of the Black Rod, attendants, remove the member of the public from the gallery who is addressing a member of the Senate. Usher of the Black Rod, 1 wish to know who that man is.
– Because I observed the incident may 1 suggest that, really, the initiative may have been taken by a member of the Senate in addressing the person in the gallery who is a well reputed citizen. Really, it is not his fault.
– The Usher of the Black Rod will ask him what he was doing. I shall attend to the matter later. In the meantime he will leave the gallery. I address all honourable senators: This is not permitted.
Appointment of Senate Select Committee
– Does the Australian Government and the Attorney-General, who is singularly inattentive, not regard seriously the fact that the Yugoslav Government falsely represented to the Australian Government the circumstances of the arerst and ultimate death of 3 Australian citizens? I remind the Senate that the Yugoslav Government let it be known to the Australian Government that these 3 men were killed in active combat in what is called the Bosnian incident. That is what the Yugoslav Government said. Later, because of circumstances, a statement has been forced that this was not so at all and that these men who were apparently arrested under various circumstances in June last year were tried in a secret military court, had a secret appeal and, subsequently, were executed. This did not happen in the field of combat at all. It did not happen as the story was told. They were executed from a gaol.
Now the gravest doubt emerges as to whether the date on which the Yugoslav Government said that they were executed is true. We have a knowledge of false information from that Government. Therefore why should we not question the further information? Statutory declarations strongly indicate that the whole story of the Bosnian incident has the possibility of being wrong and that these people may well have been innocent. That is an old fashioned thought which the Labor Government would not understand.
Let us start. If a responsible government were told on the one hand that people were executed by being shot in the field, in the heat and blood of conflict, that is one thing. If, 9 months later, they are told that that is not true, that the Government has had them in gaol and has just executed them, should we not then query the whole situation and ask ourselves: Do we have any satisfactory proof at all that these men committed the offences which they are alleged to have committed? One thing is certain, that is, the circumstances of their being shot and killed in the field are, on admission, totally wrong. Surely a government, if it is responsible for its Australian citizens, would say: ‘We will put on query the circumstances of these men.’ But, no. Even when they were executed the protest was not to try to find out whether these men were innocent but a protest because the Government was irritated at being told late. This was what upset the metabolism of the Government - not the lives of the survivors of 3 decent Australians.
I remind this Senate that statements have already been made that at least one of those 3 men who was executed - Vlasnovic, whose widow and children live in Geelong, Victoria - never at any time had active association with Croat political activities in any organisation of violence, and did not go to Croatia under any circumstances of incursion but went for the innocent intent of visiting his parents. It is not disputed that he was arrested at night in the home of his father and taken to gaol. Those who point inquiring fingers at me infer that this is wrong and that this man may have been guilty. But let us do what I reminded this Senate of last night. Let us start with the British principle of justice, the assumption that a man is innocent. Honourable senators on this side of the Senate will assume that these 3 men and others were innocent until we have it proved to us that the situation was otherwise. We have also statutory declarations made by other Croats about people who died in gaol under the most suspicious circumstances which suggest elements of torture and of brutal execution.
Despite the document of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and what that Organisation says itself - that there is a strong inference of secret police active in Australia - and despite all the other things, this Government says that it will not investigate. Let me go further. Do honourable senators remember the famous manual that is described in the ASIO document? That is the manual that all terrorists should carry in their pockets and, we were told, was proof that this Australian secret revolutionary force existed. Do I have to remind the Government of what ASIO said? I will paraphrase the words used: ‘We cannot stomach the idea that Australian guerrillas would go happily into battle across Slovenia into Bosnia clutching in their hot little breast pockets a manual on how to organise in Australia.9 That is a presumption of absurdity. In fact ASIO said this. It said that the very shape and style of the document might lead to the presumption that it had been written by Yugoslav agents as a build up to a case that did not exist. If the ASIO document did not say this, there have been ample occasions for honourable senators to prove it. ASIO said that it could not stomach this idea. If in fact there are these plans and innocent people have had these things pinned on them or alleged against them, then all this presumption of guilt that the Government has built up falls to the ground.
In the bombing of the patio of the Yugoslav consulate at Double Bay there is evidence which could make one reach the conclusion - ASIO goes quite close to it - that whoever put the bomb there put it in the one place where it could do no harm to human life. It was on the night of a new years eve party and there were some 19 or 20 people there. Somebody put the bomb in that position. If someone wanted to build up a presumption of terrorism, that person would not want to hurt himself. All these hypotheses lie within the ASIO documents. The Opposition is saying this: Whilst these inferences and hypotheses lie in the documents, they must be inquired into. Whilst there is any possibility that a single Australian citizen has gone abroad and suffered brutality or has been executed while innocent, the Senate must inquire into this. If there is any inference that there is intimidation by secret police in this country, this must be inquired into. Let us remember that a statement, apparently denied, has been widely spread in the Australian media, allegedly made by President Tito in Sarajevo some months ago, that he had, in fact, sent secret police to Australia. At least, that statement needs to be tested. Did President Tito make it? If he did, should we not investigate it? If honourable senators go through the ASIO documents they will find these things which need to be proved right or wrong.
Persons named in this document feel that they have been libelled and slandered. They have suffered hardship and have had difficulty in obtaining employment because their names have been so mentioned. Inferences have been made against them and they ought to have a chance to come forward to have their names cleared. The man. Ivan Pavlovic, a painter in Victoria, has already suffered hardship because the Attorney-General said in the Senale that he was guilty of a criminal offence. He said that he had threatened to murder the Yugoslav Prime Minister. He has already suffered hardship.
– Will the honourable senator tell me where I said that he was guilty of an offence?
– The statement that a man has threatened to murder the Yugoslav Prime Minister is a statement that a man has, in fact, committed a criminal offence. As I understand the position, if 1 threaten to murder somebody, I have committed a crime in this country. 1 invite the Attorney-General to rule otherwise. He is very shy about giving rulings and about presenting documents. If I may interpose another matter, I have not yet received a statement he promised me yesterday. No doubt, I will not get it. He is shy on anything except the argument that suits himself. I say to you, Mr Deputy President - I think that the lawyers would support me - that if I were to threaten the life of a person in this country, I would be guilty of an offence. If it is not an offence so to do, what was all the Fuss about? Why was this mentioned if it is not an offence?
Why were the police seeking Pavlovic? They knew where he was. They had seen him 3 times already that day. They knew exactly where he was and where he was going. They knew all about him. So it was not a question of finding Pavlovic. If there was one man in Canberra about whom the police knew his location .and what he possessed, it was that man. Why were the police searching for him? The Attorney-General cannot answer that. Of course, that is the very substance of why we should have this inquiry. We have as a third term of reference the Attorney-General’s actions in relation to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in March 1973. I will not weary the Senate by canvassing that matter, lt is sufficient to say that it was an action unprecedented in the history of the Parliament and this country. It was an action which has been judged by the whole of the media as being reckless, irresponsible *nd calculated to destroy - probably it has already - the very fundamentals of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. As soon as persons, other than those employed by ASIO, gain access to the files of that Organisation it is possible for them to be displayed publicly. They could have been gone through over and over again by people other than the AttorneyGeneral because he refuses to tell us who did the devilling with him.
Indeed, his history in this place is one of consistent refusal to tell us anything. The man who invented the worthy concept of open government is the man who has brought in a closed shop in terms of the Parliament. If this is so, why should not a select committed look at what could be one of the most serious and reckless actions that has ever been committed by a Minister of the Crown in Australia - the breaching of security. If he chuckles, let him tell us who ‘went through these documents. Every time he gets that chesire cat grin on his face, he only compounds the felony. The fact that people have access to those documents will do 2 things. Firstly, no country will give us secure information. Secondly, and worse still, - this might not matter to those members of the Government who have sworn a singular disregard for human liberty - all those informants who have given that information at risk to their personal security are put in human jeopardy because of it. Does the Australian Government want to achieve this? Is it happy that people, doing what they regard as a decent job in the interests of Australian security, should be put at risk? If the Government does not agree with this, what is wrong with a select committee of the Senate investigating the Attorney-General’s activities in regard to ASIO? If he lias nothing to hide, why should he be shy? He should let the Australian people know. If Parliament means anything, it means that we should be told the truth.
– The honourable senator wants to set up a kangaroo court.
– I am told by way of interjection that we have been told the truth already. Let me tell honourable senators what we have been told when we asked: Why did the Attorney-General go to ASIO? He said: ‘I found a document in Melbourne that contained matter of transcending national security. It was a threat to national security that sent me on my way to Melbourne. It was a matter of transcending national security. I cannot tell you what was in it’.
– Get your facts right.
– Then let the AttorneyGeneral deny it. It has been said here before and said by me. I am told that I said Melbourne’ instead of ‘Canberra’. He said: ‘I found in Canberra a document that led me to Melbourne’. (Government senators interjecting) -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Honourable senators will come to order. These multiple interjections are most disorderly. The interjections must cease.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy President. You have ruled that interjections must cease, but the honourable senator who is on his feet is provoking the interjections by deliberately telling untruths to the Parliament. What he has said is a deliberate untruth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There is no substance in the point of order.
– I may be guilty of many offences, butI take no responsibility for provoking a guilty conscience. (Government senators interjecting) -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I will not again call attention to this disorder; I will name the interjector.
-I referred to matters that had been raised in the previous debate and said that, if there was one matter which remained totally unanswered in this Parliament and on which the Attorney-General refused to answer, it was why the AttorneyGeneral went to ASIO, what he did when he went there and what was the purpose. Surely, the Australian people are entitled to know.
The fourth term of reference should be dear to the hearts of members of the Australian Government. The Government is taking some legal action, I believe, to look at this question of dual citizenship; so I do not dilate on that.
I sum up, having talked at length, by saying these things: I remind the Senate that the whole sequence of events that caused this request for a select committee was initiated by the Attorney-General in the actions that I have detailed. The Attorney-General and the Labor Party, repeatedly over the past year have urged that there should be total exposure of the whole of the Croatian affair. That was their plea when in Opposition. They urged that any alleged breach of civil liberty should be pursued thoroughly and dealt with. But. all those assertions and all those desires for justice ceased on 27th March when the Attorney-General made his speech, which was a masterpiece in political selectivity. Both his speech and the documents left so many questions unanswered which, over the weeks since then, he has refused to answer. If this Senate is delayed in its work by the request for this select committee, we are asking no more than the Labor Party asked. If we ask for a select committee of the structure for which we ask, we ask no more than the Labor Party asked last year. If this is so, then the Government, to be consistent-
– Why do you want to know?
– Why do we want to know? If that was in fact the authentic Tasmanian voice, we want to know because we are interested in civil liberties and we are interested in protecting people from bloody murder. If I am stupid for doing these things, I wear the badge of stupidity with honour. If it is stupid to plead for the freedom of people, then my stupidity will be chronic. What we ask for is a select committee with the same kind of structure as in the past, with the same percentage representation as in the past. I conclude by saying that, if the Government refuses this select committee, only one inference can be drawn by the Australian people; namely that this Government has a great deal to hide on all these terms of reference and it is determined to hide it.
– We have been treated to an unparalleled exercise in hypocrisy. Some of the last words of Senator Carrick, who has just resumed his seat, were that he was interested in saving people from bloody murder. He is one of the senators who voted consistently to support the war against the Vietnamese people. Let me not pursue that subject, however. The honourable senator then said that he was interested in setting up the same kind of committee, with the same kind of structure, to inquire into the same kind of matter as the Government, when in Opposition, proposed last year. Let us examine each of those matters, because this has been said by a man who was formerly, I believe, General Secretary of the Liberal Party in New South Wales-
– An adviser to a Prime Minister.
– Yes, an adviser to a Prime Minister. He spoke of the same kind of select committee. The committee that was proposed last year by the Opposition - we were the Opposition then - was a committee which was already established - the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence - and which had an effective majority of Government members and a Government member as chairman. We were prepared to send an inquiry - I leave aside for the moment what the inquiry was, although that is important also - to that Committee with a Government majority and a Government member as chairman. What is the present proposal? The honourable senator said, so that the people listening here would think there was some honesty in what he was saying, that he was sending an inquiry to the same kind of committee with the same structure. He has deliberately proposed, breaking the tradition in the Senate, a committee in which there will not be an effective Government majority. Whilst we were prepared to have the matter investigated, and according to tradition by a committee with a Government majority, this proposal is the very reverse. The Government would be in a minority on the proposed committee. Yet the honourable senator has the hypocrisy to stand up here and say: ‘We are sending it to a committee of the same kind and with the same structure’.
Then he says: ‘We are sending the same inquiry’. He says that this is what the Government, when in Opposition, asked to be investigated. Let me remind honourable senators of what we said ought to be investigated. There had been a complaint by the Government of Yugoslavia and I moved a motion. I said: ‘Without going into the rights or wrongs of it, because we do not know them, there is a complaint by the government of a friendly country about the actions and the inactions of the Australian Government’. I moved the following motion:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence -
That was the committee with an effective government majority and a government member as chairman - the following matters for urgent inquiry and report:
There is not one word of that in the proposal which is being debated this evening. Paragraph (2) of that motion was in the following terms:
Whether there have been or are in Australia extremists or terrorist elements engaged in violence or other illegal activity directed against representatives or property of the Yugoslav Government in Australia.
There is not one word of that in the proposal which is being debated this evening. I recall that when I spoke on that motion I said that I anticipated that the answer to paragraph (2) - whether there were in Australia terrorist or extremist elements engaged in violence or other illegal activity directed against the representatives of the Yugoslav Government - would be yes because there had already been a report by the Department of External Affairs in 1969 saying exactly that. The rest of the motion was in the following terms:
There is not one word about those matters in this proposition. The matters honourable senators opposite have been intent on avoiding in this proposal are the very matters which were set out in that proposal last year. If Senator Carrick, who preceded me in the debate tonight, had any honesty he would support a proposal in the terms that were put last year. He said tonight that honourable senators opposite are putting forward what was put forward by the Opposition last year and that they are putting it forward in relation to a committee of the same structure. If that is what the Opposition wants the people of Australia to believe, let it say so. I would be prepared to agree right now to a proposition in exactly those terms, being referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence for inquiry.
Senator Carrick is sitting very quietly now. Hu is not being responsive. Senator Carrick said to the Senate that honourable senators on his side were putting forward exactly what was put forward by the Opposition last year. I tell him now that I would be prepared to agree, on behalf of the Government, to a proposition in exactly the terms that were put forward on 19th September 1972 by the Opposition. Senator Carrick alleged that what was being put forward tonight in respect of a committee of the same structure was the same proposition. I ask him to say whether he is prepared to forego his support for the present proposition and agree to a referral to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of a proposition in exactly those terms. I request Senator Carrick to say whether he would be prepared to support such a proposition.
– 1 suggest that the Attorney-General read the Hansard report tomorrow and see precisely what I said.
– Crawl back. We saw an example last night from the Australian Democratic Labor Party and we have seen an example this evening from Senator Carrick of the motivation of honourable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber. It is quite clear what has happened in the Senate. On the Opposition side there are 3 parties which between them have a majority of the members of the Senate and they are determined to use their numbers without any regard to the traditions of the Senate, without any regard to the accepted position of the Government in tion in exactly those terms being referred to the Senate and without any regard to the mandate of the people. They are determined to make the Senate unworkable in defiance of the accepted traditions of this place.
There is no doubt that the Opposition parties have decided to make the Government’s position in the Senate untenable. They have broken the traditions of the Senate and ignored the principles that honourable senators on this side of the chamber adhered to throughout their term in Opposition. I cannot recall the Labor Party ever having advanced the proposition that there, should be a committee which did not have an effective government majority on it; yet twice within the last week that has been proposed by honourable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber. I do not know whether it was through decency or becausue it just spilled out from him in the course of what he was saying, but Senator Carrick let the truth be known when he said that I was the purpose of the whole committee. That is what he said. He said: The Attorney-General is the purpose of the whole committee. That is what it is all about’. Those were his words. He made it quite clear who the target was.
Honourable senators opposite are not interested in the activities of Croatian terrorists. An examination of the carefully worded motion which is before the Chair will reveal that they have avoided the matters which we have raised for consideration. They are not intent on any inquiry into the truth or otherwise of the statement which was made, by me in the Senate. They have carefully drafted the motion to avoid any such inquiry. Is it really thought that they want an inquiry into the truth of what I said in this chamber - supported by the evidence - about the existence of certain organisations? That is the last thing the Opposition wants an inquiry into. Is it really thought that they want an inquiry into whether the previous Government - their Government - was taking effective steps to combat terrorism?
Skill has been shown in skirting around the subject and to ensure that there is no reference whatever to the existence of terrorist organisations in Australia. That may be thought to be cunning and subtle. The purpose may be to divert attention from the affairs of state and to enable honourable senators opposite to carry on with their campaign. They have very little else to which to divert attention. The last thing they want is any inquiry into the record of their Government - its neglect of public affairs over 23 years and its failure to take action to combat terrorism by Croatian organisations in Australia. Why have honourable senators opposite not put forward a proposition for an inquiry into the truth of the statement which I read to the Senate? There has been no endeavour to do that. Honourable senators opposite think that by using their numbers in this chamber they will divert public attention from their record.
– Why should we not use our numbers?
- Senator Sim has made his own contribution to international affairs in a signal sort of way. The Opposition may have the numbers temporarily, but that may be even more temporary than its supporters think.
– That is not what the gal- lup polls say.
– Order! I do not see what relationship the terms of the motion before the Chair has to gallup polls.
– I think the endeavours of the Opposition over the last couple of months have not been of any credit to the Senate. The Opposition’s endeavours to break down the committee system of the Senate, which was not won easily, will in the long run prove to be detrimental to this institution. Members of the Opposition think that they can, with impunity, deal with the Government simply because they have the temporary advantage of having the numbers to pass what they like, to do what they like irrespective of the justice of the matter and of the facts, to take control of the Senate business, to invade the Government’s time and to delay the legislative business of the Government.
I think that all these things will come to be understood by the people of Australia and that retribution will fall upon the heads of members of the Opposition. The sooner there is a double dissolution and the sooner the Senate is brought to the people, the better. Honourable senators opposite think that they have the support of the people. I suggest that the sooner that it is put to the test the better because it is quite clear to me that the Senate has become unworkable clue to the refusal of the Opposition to pay even ordinary respect to the traditions of the Senate. The Opposition has endeavoured to break down, in the last few days even, every tradition that has been observed. No longer are the common courtesies observed between the parties. I think that the motion should be rejected. I hope that there are some in the Senate with sufficient common sense to understand its history and to realise that public affairs cannot be conducted in this way and that the motion ought, in the interests of the Senate as well as in the interests of the Australian people, especially the Croatian community which is sought to be used as a pawn by Opposition members-
– Who started it?
– I heard that remark from one honourable senator opposite: ‘Who started it?’ Honourable senators opposite think it is some kind of a game in which people are to be used as pawns. 1 think the remark is illustrative of the approach which has been made by honourable senators opposite.I see a deterioration in the effective working of the Senate. 1 will try to resist it. The Government will resist it. We have accepted the fact that honourable senators opposite have broken all the arrangements and all the traditions and that they are no longer prepared to allow the Government to conduct the business of the Senate in an orderly manner. We will treat the Opposition in exactly the same way. The motion ought to be rejected, and I trust that the Senate will reject it.
– Order! I intervene to refer to an incident which occurred earlier in the Senate this evening when I directed an attendant to ask a stranger in one of the galleries to leave the chamber. I have conferred with the gentleman involved. An explanation has been proffered to me. I consider it a satisfactory explanation. As far as the Senate is concerned, I think the matter is ended. One part of the explanation involved Senator Poyser, and I think it is proper that I should call him.
-I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- -Mr President and members of the Senate, the whole incident was entirely my fault. The gentleman concerned has been a close friend of mine for many years. I met him through the late Senator Cohen. That is how we first met many years ago. My son studied law under this gentleman at a university. The last occasion that I saw the gentleman was at Senator Sam Cohen’s funeral. I was so pleased to see him here that I broke the rules of the Senate by addressing him. He did not address me. J apologise to the Senate because 1 created the incident, not the gentleman concerned.
– Order! I make the further observation that if Senator Poyser cares to invite his friend back into the gallery he may do so.
Appointment of Senate Select Committee Debate resumed.
– On a previous occasion when I spoke on a similar motion I said that one could smell the stench of hatred which permeates the benches of the Opposition. This motion is a continuation of that same implacable hatred which members of the Opposition are stirring up among themselves against the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). Let us be quite honest about the motion, lt is not concerned about terrorists. It is strictly an attempt to corner the Attorney-General in relation to his raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Senator Carrick gave a clue to this when he was finishing his speech. He said that this is what members of the Opposition are after. I am quite able to hold my own against any senator here. It does not matter that 1 am a Tasmanian. I do not know what snide remark the honourable senator was about to make to me. At least I was elected on my own merit, not because I ani a bureaucratic member of a Party who crawls around the committee in order to be selected first or second on the ticket so that I can be elected. I challenge Senator Carrick to stand for election as an independent. He would not be in the race.
I resent any aspersions being cast on me by any honourable senator. Three independent senators have been elected. I have been elected twice. At least we got in on our merit, not because we crawled around the committee which selects those who shall be first or second on the ticket. If the honourable senator were not first or second, he would not be elected. Yet he speaks as if he were the only person who knows anything about the affairs of the nation. My God! If anyone should be ashamed of himself, Senator Carrick should because he is the man who is supposed to have advised the former Prime Minister. And how well the honourable senator advised him. All I can say is: Thank God for Senator Carrick because we got rid of the worst Prime Minister that this country ever had. This was due to Senator Carrick’s efforts, apparently. Let me return to the motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I think it would be as well if the honourable senator did.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. 1 was getting in ahead of you. I felt that I was entitled to make those remarks about a senator who made remarks about me. We heard so much from Senator Carrick about the structure of the committee. I thought Senator Murphy would deal with the motion in detail. The committee which the Democratic Labor Party wants to set up is totally different from any other Senate committee. One only has to read the motion to realise that. I do not want to bore the Senate by reading it. The proceedings of the committee are to be on television. Daily Hansard reports will be published. At one stage it was intended that counsel should appear. The committee will have the works. It will have a big line up so that it can have a crack at the Attorney-General all the time, which will be reported by the Press. The committee will try to keep that going. Members of the Opposition say: ‘We are one up on the Australian Labor Party’. Members of the Labor Party say: ‘We are one up on the Opposition’. What they forget is that the public is not interested ;n the petty quarrels between the 2 parties. The public is not interested in what is going on between the 2 parties. The public wants to know who is responsible for the bombings in Sydney in which civilians were hurt. Senator Carrick came out tonight with a wonderful fairy tale because of the side which he takes in the issue. So he said that the bombs were p anted by the Yugoslavs, not by the Croats. That is as fantastic as anything I have heard in this chamber. What can the committee do that the police cannot do? Even Senator Wright, 1 am sure, could not solve this problem, and that is saying something.
Senator Carrick’s argument that there is a need for the committee to probe all aspects of the matter is unfounded. I am not interested in what people do in Yugoslavia. It does not interest me one bit. It serves them right. If they want to die for their country, let them die for their country. What I am interested in, and what the people of Australia are interested in, is the fact that terrorists are letting off bombs in our country. That is what we arc interested in. The Opposition says that the select committee will find out who is responsible. I have never heard such drivelling nonsense as that put by the Opposition. Let me get back to the basic facts about the motion. lt is an example of the DLP’s hatred of the communists. All honourable senators know that whenever a matter concerning the communists arises the DLP flares up because it, together with the Country Party and the finks - the Liberal Party - has the numbers.
– The finks?
– The Country Party, the DLP and the Liberal Party are called the hicks, the micks and the finks. The members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party probably join in simply because the DLP is doing this and it is a chance for them to join in. There are people in the Liberal Party who are opposed to this motion.
– You will beat Senator Negus yet.
– Yes, I am hoping to. I am doing my best. 1 did this a long time ago. I am happy to say that it does not worry me 2 hoots which way other senators vote. 1 am here as an Independent and I will remain an Independent. I do not have to curry favour with any party.
– What about the Australia Party?
– I am very proud of the Australia Party.
– You got out of it pretty quickly.
– Yes, and I had every right to do so.
– It could not be because it would not give you No. 1 position on the ticket, could it?
– The absurdity of the stupid little man! He suggests that I could not get No. 1 position on the ticket when I was the only person in the Party. How stupid can you get! This is so absurd. Mr Barton is in New South Wales and I am in Tasmania. Senator Little should be sensible. He should try to use his brains instead of just chipping in for the sake of chipping in. I hurt him by saying that this motion moved by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) is aimed at the Communist Party, and this little pipsqueak pips and squeaks. Now shut up and leave me alone. I did not worry you. Just be quiet. I agree with the honourable senator about the Australia Party. I am proud of the Australia Party because it has a very good program and it is growing at the expense of the DLP. If anyone is worrying about a double dissolution, it is the DLP. When the next Parliament meets these 2 Independents, Senator Townley and Senator Negus, will rule this country because the DLP will have 2 or 3 senators fewer than it has now.
I want to get back to the point at which I was interrupted. This motion is DLP propaganda against the Communist Party. It is quite right for it to move it if that is its desire, but members of the Libera] Party and the Country Party rushed in and said: ‘Here is something with which we can hit the Government and attack Senator Murphy’. One only has to talk with members of the Liberal Party for 5 minutes before hearing them say: Senator Murphy did it to Senator Greenwood, he obliterated Senator Greenwood; so we are going to obliterate Senator Murphy’. That is the basis of this motion. That is not just my opinion. Members of the Opposition disagree with the Press when it disagrees with them, but praise it when it praises them. The Press admits that in that battle Senator Greenwood lost.
– You must read a different Press.
– I must admit that I do not read the ‘Advocate’, if that is the name of it, or whatever it is called.
– Or the ‘News Weekly’.
– ls it the ‘News Weekly’? The point is that that is the basis of this motion; Senator Murphy killed Senator Greenwood and members of the Opposition are going to kill Senator Murphy. That is why they are all sticking up for this motion. They are sticking together for one specific purpose. If they were decent and honest with themselves they would move for the appointment of an ordinary Senate committee; but an ordinary Senate committee is not being sought. This is being specially done so that members of the Opposition can get the maximum publicity for themselves. If the Committee so desires, its hearings will be televised. Of course that will be its wish when the Opposition has the numbers.
– You are not suggesting that your fellow Independent will not be independent, are you? Don’t you trust him?
– We can change the Independent who we suggested should be on this Committee?
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to a point of order. I heard one honourable senator say that another honourable senator had been bought off. 1 ask that that comment be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I did not hear any such comment. Therefore, I cannot take action.
– I did not hear it. It is suggested in this motion that there be a committee of 7 senators, 3 to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and 4 by the Opposition, and we heard the little pipsqueak say: ‘Don’t you trust your own Independent?’ We can change our nomination if we want to. 1 am quite happy to ask Senator Townley to come back into the fold and we will nominate Senator Negus if the honourable senator wants us to. I do not mind who becomes the Independent senator on this Committee, so long as I am not involved in it.
Senator Townley will admit that he stood for election as an Independent Liberal. I know that he is honest and J know that he will carry out his duties properly; but he is still a member of the Liberal Party and he admits it. Under the constitution of the Liberal Party in Tasmania he is allowed to stand for election against the Liberals and to retain his membership. He is a member of the Liberal Party. The Opposition has arranged that there be 3 senators appointed by the Government and 4 other senators. The Opposition is trying to wipe out the Government because even before we Independent senators had a chance to discuss this matter we were told that the Opposition would appoint Senator Townley as chairman of the Committee. Do not tell me that the Opposition is looking for a real Inde-pendent to be on the Committee. I have faith in Senator Townley and I know that if he happens to be chairman he will not let this committee become a witch hunt against Senator Murphy. Therefore, the Opposition will lose the whole basis of its reason for having this Committee. If Senator Townley takes over the chairmanship of the committee he will be independent and honest, unlike members of the Opposition.
I propose to move an amendment. I will support it, but I will vote against the motion even if the amendment is carried. If this motion is carried I want to see what we all want to see and what Senator Carrick insists should be done; I want to see that this committee is just like any other Senate committee. 1 have written out my amendment, but honourable senators will not be able to read my writing. I move:
That means that there would be 8 senators on the committee, 4 of whom would be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. That would almost get us back to where we were. The Government should have a majority. The Government will not have a majority in this case, but at least this will provide for a more reasonable approach. The Opposition is negating the principles of the Senate and is doing so deliberately because it thinks it has the numbers. Members of the Opposition are like a lot of bullies. They are just bullying, bullying and bullying and are going to do this because they have the numbers.
If the members of the Opposition were honest with themselves they would insist that there be a majority of Government senators, as is the case with every other committee. I know that honourable senators will support my amendment because it still will not give the Government a majority. My amendment would provide for 4 senators from each side of the chamber, one of whom is an Independent, and I know that he will be independent. Assuming that he is independent, this will give the Government 4 members to the Opposition’s 3. If my amendment is carried, I propose to vote against the motion because I think the Opposition is wasting its time. For some unknown reason, apart from the idealogy of the DLP, the public is not interested one iota in who is doing what, and why.
– Those people who were raided at 3 o’clock in the morning are interested. Do they not have any rights?
– Yes, and there are hundreds of other people in this country who also have the same feeling about their personal affairs and they receive no assistance from the people in the DLP. The answer to this problem is to set up an ombudsman. That is something of which I am in favour. These are the sorts of things that could be referred to him if people feel that the Government has obstructed them in any way whatsoever. I have moved that amendment and 1 hope that we get some honesty on the part of members of the Opposition. If the amended motion is carried the Government will have proper representation, and that is something to which it is entitled
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes, I second the amendment because it brings a bit of sanity back to this debate. A lot could be said, but I think that this is one of those situations which could be epitomised far better by quoting from a manifesto signed by a number of Sydney Croatians. I think this will do full justice to the amendment. The manifesto reads:
A group of prominent Croatian-born Australians joined some responsible Australian-born people, and met in Sydney during the Easter break.
The subject of discussion was the present position of Croatian settlers in Australia and a need for improvement in relationship between Croatian settlers and the Australian public.
The meeting agreed that the interests of Croatian settlers and the interests of the Australian community would be best served if Australian Croats speak in a common voice on their common problems.
For that purpose it was decided to set-up a preparatory Committee for the establishment of a general Council of Croatian settlers in Australia.
This is to organise a Congress which would represent the common interests of Australian Croats irrespective of political, religious or other differences between individuals or organisations.
The platform of the Congress would be:
Australia is the country where our present home is - permanent or temporary. Australia is our present haven and our daily bread. To Australia - the New World - we came to escape difficulties of one or another nature, from one or another part of the Old World.
Because of that - it is right and honest - that Australia has our first loyalty. It is for our own benefit that we take part in Australian main-stream life and that we give our first priority to our present-day interests in Australia. This is common sense and honesty!
I pause there and ask for leave to incorporate the remainder of it in Hansard. The signatories include people like Ivan Kosovich of Yagoona, a man who, when it comes to racial discrimination, experienced it on the Western Australian gold fields in the 1930s. It also includes Ivan Radaic, Rudolf Dezelin and a number of other people who have experienced tough times in Australia and who are sick and tired of their country - whether it be any one of the 6 republics of Yugoslavia - and being kicked around, as it were, like a shuttlecock. That is the first point I make.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Are you asking for leave to incorporate the remainder of that document?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted?
– No, Mr Deputy
President. If the honourable senator will let us see a copy of it there will not be any problems, but we have not seen it. There is a standing rule regarding this matter.
-I am quite happy to let Senator Greenwood see it. I ask the attendant to take it to him.
– We have no objection.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
We the undersigned Croatian settlers and our fellowAustralians co-signatories in responding to appeal of reason and honesty, believe that by speaking in one voice through the Congress we will best serve the interests of all our fellow-settlers in Australia, and the best interests of Australia as well.
We want Australian Croats to be proud oF their origin, without any stigma of shame.
We want to be accepted and welcomed by other Australian fellow citizens as their equal. Men of reason and honour - all of us.
It’s time fellow immigrants . . .
For the preparatory Committee
Captain Rudolf Dezelin, J. P., President, New Australian Club, 58 Crown Street, Wollongong, phone Wollongong 294494,
Ivan Kosovich (Editor, Nova Doba), 79 Smith Street, Yagoona, phone 6445142,
Andrija Silic (Assistant Editor, Nova Doba), John Vrkic,
George Petersen, M.L.A.,
Senator J. A. Mulvihill,
Dr R. Kingman, M.P.
– 1 want to make 2 other brief points about this. 1 think that when it comes to this inquiry, which Senator Turnbull, who has moved an amendment, referred to, the plain fact is that one of the reasons why we had distinct reservations about the inquiry is that I question the need to drag everybody of Yugoslav origin into the mire in this situation. I say that because one of the most amazing things is that if we read the Sydney Morning Herald’ during this week we would have seen reference to a Croatian named Mile Nekic being fined for being in possession of an unlicensed pistol and for other offences.
But the remarkable thing about it is that in the evidence reference was made to Mr Srecko Rover. That gentleman had his passport taken away from him by the previous Government, not by the present Government. I say very definitely that one of the reasons why I had reservations about this committee - and I Still have them, despite Senator Turnbull’s attempt to correct the imbalance - is that if people are going to go through a sort of McCarthyist trial, a lot of people will have red faces if people like myself ask the appropriate Commonwealth officials to explain why Srecko Rover had his passport taken away from him. As honourable senators well know, he had the passport taken away from him when Commonwealth Police reports indicated very clearly his involvement in Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood activities.
The other point is that it is not my desire, nor the desire of many sections of the Yugoslav community whose friendship I value, to have people put through the wringer. 1 refer to the text of the 21 statutory declarations which have been tabled by no less a person than Senator Gair. Amongst those depositions we find that one, Tony Bitunjac, said: 1 am Croatian by birth and have applied for and been granted Australian citizenship but 1 forgot to attend the ceremony.
Another gentleman, Anton Rendulic, stated: i have resided in Australia for the past 4 years and am not an Australian citizen.
I claim that people like these 2 persons have no desire to become Australian citizens. These 2 cases epitomise to me the lack of courage by the previous Government simply to say to these people, in the ambit in which Senator Carrick spoke: ‘How far can you indulge in legitimate political agitation?’ 1 would say that ground rules or battle lines were drawn last year when Senator Wright very clearly stated the direction of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He said that although you talk about internal politics in the Balkans, the moment that Yugoslavia is fragmented you would have an expansion of territorial aspirations by the Soviet Union which, in turn, would destroy the power structure, the balance of power between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Warsaw. I follow on Senator Turnbull’s argument. If you went out on to the highways of Australia today, no matter whether you quoted from the Croatian manifesto to which I have referred or what the average Australian had to say, you would find that people do not want to see any disturbance in world peace, as difficult as it may be to maintain at the moment. 1 repeat that that was the advice given to the previous Government. Yet no attempt was made to curb these ultra nationalists from using Australia as a base for overseas terrorism.
The other night Senator O’Byrne rightly referred to the manifestation of terrorism in the 1960s. If the Government had curbed it at that time, all would have been well. I am not one of those people who simply say these things in this chamber. I gave a similar address on 1st April, and Senator Kane was present, I put it very clearly that nobody in this country can attempt to be a backseat driver Foreign Minister. That is the substance of the matter, and this is what we are so concerned about.
I refer again to this question of who started all this. 1 was at a State banquet in Belgrade in the company of no less a person than Senator Byrne, Senator Davidson and the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir William Aston. Sir William Aston invited the Yugoslav Government to send a representative to Australia, and he had every right to do so. Obviously Senator Byrne was too much of a gentleman to get up and walk out of the dinner, but 1 question how the Leader of his Party would have performed. These are some of the ridiculous situations that arise.
I would go a little further and say that if we are to stand up and be counted in regard to our ability to help the ethnic groups in this community we would find that last night no less a person than the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) corrected an omission concerning the discriminatory clauses in the
Crimes Act which has been evident since 1950. We talk about who is a clean-skin. A month ago J bad the opportunity to recommend to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) a Yugoslav for appointment to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. I refer to one Joseph Bizjaic of Berrima. Like everyone else, he was subjected to a security test. Those who carried out the test said: ‘Senator, he is as clean as a hound’s tooth’. Do honourable senators know what that gentleman said to me? He has been in Australia since 1953 and his children were born here. He said - and he has said it for the last 6 years: ‘When is the Australian Government with its discrimination against citizens who are not native born and which utters platitudes and which patted me on the back when I worked my guts out at Island Bend up in the Snowy Mountains project, going to recognise it and amend the Crimes Act?’ Repeatedly I looked across at Senator Greenwood. I begged and pleaded with him to make that concession, but there was always an evasion. There has been a diatribe of abuse hurled at Senator Murphy. But last night Senator Murphy got up and did something that the previous Government refused to do for 20 years. This is the situation. Then there is the question of the portability of pensions. We are doing something in a practical manner. I would say this to any honourable senator opposite: If we go around all the ethnic groups today, we can face them because of our performances. Honourable senators opposite have been the victims, because world politics have left them behind. 1 have gone into enemy territory. I refer to the Captive Nations dinner which I attended on 1st April. The Ukrainians, who receive an honourable mention in Senator Gair’s motion, have reached the stage where they imagine that the Vatican has become a vassal of the Kremlin because there is a more flexible attitude in world politics. Whether we like it or not, as Senator Willesee said in his own inimitable style the other night, we have to accept the world as it is. 1 do not want to see the inquiry which honourable senators opposite have talked about being used to besmirch anybody who has a Yugoslav name. But I say this to honourable senators opposite: If the motion is carried, even in the amended form, I can assure the people whose depositions Senator Gair has produced that they will be asked a lot of difficult questions.
I have enough confidence in the Commonwealth Police and in the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs to know that if they are called upon to testify and they come up with the answers that are largely in the memorandum which Senator Murphy produced, a lot of people will be badly bruised. It is all right for this to happen to parliamentarians like ourselves. It is a way of life with us. We can go home tonight after a slanging match and sleep quite easily. I do not want to see people in this situation. But I warn the Opposition that for every person that it brings to such an inquiry, I can bring about half a dozen people. I will refer back to what has happened in the past, when a Croatian kicked a police constable in the testicles. Honourable senators opposite thought that he was not a pro-Tito man, that he was an Australian. But if a draft resister kicked a policeman in the testicles, honourable senators opposite, including Senator Greenwood, would want him put in gaol. But because a man is anti-communist, honourable senators opposite do not worry about him. If they want this sort of testimony, I will produce witness for witness. I know this much: I do not want to do it, but the silent majority of the Yugoslav community has copped it right and left. It was no use their going to the local police because in the main there were language difficulties. Meantime the minute minority pressurised the majority.
The final point that 1 wish to make is that honourable senators opposite cannot get away from the fact that Srecko Rover lost his passport and that his name appears in many of the documents that have been tabled. Senator McManus had reservations about the former Government’s action in connection with Srecko Rover but I did not see any members of the Liberal Party who proclaim civil liberties now push their Ministers very far on this matter. I resent very much that the vast silent majority of Yugoslavs including those from the Republic of Croatia are being dragged into this affair. I contend that only a most minute section of the Croatian community is involved in this matter. But honourable senators opposite are also including Slovenes, Serbians, Montenegrans and Bosnians together with other people who have not asked to be so cited. That is the situation. I might draw the analogy that at times when some trade unionists have referred to the union to which I belong they have not been talking for the rank and file of their unions. The same can be said of one or two people whose names have been mentioned in connection with this matter.
Let me say quite sincerely that with respect to overall ethnic relationships this Government has delivered the goods as regards civil liberties. Whether one supports the Labor Party or whether one does not, the fact is that the legislation which Senator Murphy introduced last night deleting discriminatory clauses in the Crimes Act is a real monument to civil liberties. I will listen with interest next week to the speeches by Opposition senators on that legislation. I will be particularly interested to hear how Senator Greenwood will be able to justify his indifference and the indifference of the former Government to that matter. I conclude my remarks on the basis of saying to a number of honourable senators that, although I have seconded the amendment moved by Senator Turnbull, if they have any sense at all they will not engage in a witch hunt and involve in this inquiry people who may be my friends or their friends. If they do so, they will be doing a disservice to racial relations in Australia.
– I rise to speak on behalf of the Australian Country Party. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber support the endeavours of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to establish the proposed committee but not for the reasons that some members of the Government would have the Senate believe. We refute suggestions that the inquiry by this committee will take the form of a kangaroo court or an inquisition. I believe that such a suggestion is an insult to the Senate. I have been a member of this place for 5 years. In that time I have served on 3 select committees. I have been a member of various committees which have conducted inquiries into a number of matters referred to them. I believe that all members of this Senate when sitting on a Senate committee behave in a responsible manner.
Senator Turnbull who has moved an amendment to the motion hit the nail on the head, 1 believe, when he said that Senator Townley as a member of the proposed committee would be fair. Senator Townley would not represent either the Opposition or the Government. He would adopt a fair approach. Surely that is the type of attitude for which we are looking. We do not want this committee to be stacked one way or the other. Let us look at the proposed composition of the committee. The Government will nominate 3 senators. The Government has 26 members in the Senate. One member of the committee will come from the Liberal Party which has 21 senators in this place. The Country Party will nominate one member of this committee. One member will come from the Australian Democratic Labor Party and one member will be from the Independent senators. As the composition of the Senate is 26 Government members and 34 other senators, surely a ratio of 4 to 3 in favour of non-Government senators, spread over the 4 groups-
– Where did you get your figure of 34?
– It is 26 to 34.
– Are you including the independents on your side?
– Senator Turnbull is not on your side.
– The Government with 26 senators will have 3 members on this committee and the other 4 groups represented in the Senate, a total of 34 senators, will have 4 members on the proposed committee ls that not fair enough? No one has suggested whom the chairman will be. This is a matter for the Committee to decide in the normal way Senate committees elect chairmen following their establishment. I want the public to understand that fact clearly. I for one would not support any inquiry which took the form of a witch hunt and which specifically sought to prove certain things. Let us face the Fact that the public at large has been disquieted by what has occurred in this affair. It is the dutyof the Senate as the House of Review and the States’ House to do something about this matter.
The Opposition has given the Government every opportunity to take action. We suggested that it appoint a judicial inquiry to investigate this matter. The Government has done nothing about that suggestion. Although we gave the Government the opportunity to appoint a judicial inquiry, it has taken no action in that regard. So, we have approached the problem in this way. Our proposal is a fair one. It is quite obvious that the Government does not want anything to do with this matter. If the Government has something to hide in this respect, obviously it would not want anything to do with an inquiry into it. But, if the Government has- nothing to hide, what are Government senators complaining about?
Unfortunately, in Australia today, if one attacks the former friends and allies of this country - those who have the same type of democracy as Australia has - one is applauded. We need only recall what happened in response to the remarks of 3 Ministers of the present Government when they attacked the United States of America and its President. But, if one attacks a communist country, one is considered to be a terrorist. That is the situation that has arisen in this country today. We wish an inquiry to be held into the whole affair. Security is most important to any nation. Australia’s security service has been destroyed by the raid conducted by Senator Murphy on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Let honourable senators have no doubt of that fact. Can honourable senators name one nation which would supply any information to our security organisation knowing that that information would be tabled in this House? Can honourable senators imagine any Australian citizen being prepared to give information to our security organisation knowing that that information would be tabled in the Senate? This is one of the reasons why we seek this inquiry. We want to ensure that the whole of this dirty affair is cleaned up.
A great many migrants have settled in Australia. They have become very good citizens. We know that some migrants may be involved in this matter. The Government says that Senator Greenwood has protected them. I object to the claim by the Government that the Opposition has sought to establish this committee to protect terrorists in Australia. If the Labor Party feels that there were terrorists in Australia during the office of the former Government and that it was protecting them, as it is now the Government it has the power to charge those people.
– It did.
– Yes, but the present Government has had to admit, as Senator Greenwood stated, that not sufficient evidence is available on which to charge those people.
– That is not true.
– Of course it is true. Where have charges been laid against these people? Recently 80 homes of new Australians were raided. We have not seen many charges resulting from those raids. Every new Australian who comes here from a communist country now is under threat. These people may disagree with the policies followed in their home country and decide to migrate to Australia because they have been told that it is a democracy, a country in which they can live in freedom. I have talked to a number of migrants, particularly migrants in north Queensland where many new Australians live. They are most disturbed by events that are occurring in Australia today. This is one of the reasons why my Party supports the proposed inquiry. In the whole of his speech tonight, Senator Murphy sought to make out that we were setting up a type of court merely to try him. Let honourable senators opposite face the fact, as I said earlier, that we offered the Government the opportunity to appoint a judical inquiry. I do not know who will be elected chairman of this committee once it is appointed. The chairman still could be a Government senator.
– For that to happen, the original motion will need to be amended.
– Well, you read it.
– Chairman who?
– Well, it will not be your friend, Chairman Mao. The chairman will be a senator elected by the committee. If Senator Turnbull is correct in what he said, Senator Townley will be an independent and free member of the committee. If that is so, obviously Senator Townley will have a say in the election of the chairman. He may feel that a Government senator should be appointed chairman. Let honourable senators opposite not try to fool the public that this inquiry will take the form of a kangaroo court established for the purpose of putting Senator Murphy on trial. The Senate has appointed some excellent Senate committees. The public at large has accepted the findings of those committees and has realised that those committees have been unbiased in their inquiries.
– The former Government always had a majority on those committees.
– We have allowed the Government to have the majority on standing committees.
– Not on this one.
– If the honourable senators reads the Standing Orders he will find that select committees are supposed to consist of 7 members. They do not say that the Government has to have a majority. We agreed that the Government have a majority on standing committees, and in most cases we agreed–
– In all cases?
– On this occasion we have included all sections of the Parliament in the membership of the committee. Surely, having 26 senators out of 60, the Government would think that the appointment of 3 of its senators to this committee is sufficient. The public will be watching this committee closely. There is little doubt that if this committee goes on a wild witch hunt the Press will pick it up. If information is secured that may incriminate the previous Government, so what?
– The committee’s proceedings will be heard in camera and you will not allow the people to hear them.
– How does the honourable senator know that we will?
– It is in the Gair motion.
– Order! Senator Mulvihill. you have addressed yourself to this motion already. Please do not address yourself to it a second time.
-I have little more to say on this matter. We have been right through the whole ramifications of it. We had a debate in this chamber on the ASIO affair. Day in and day out question time was taken up by this matter and we found out nothing. That is why we propose the setting up of this inquiry, and the Country Party supportsthe proposition.
– I call Senator Kane.
– Senator Kane is absent from the chamber at the moment.
– I call Senator Gietzelt.
– I will rise vice Senator Kane.
– But you have spoken already.
– No, I spoke on the preliminary matter.
– But you spoke.
– I have not spoken on the substance of the motion.
– Senator Kane is now in the chamber. It was indicated to me earlier by means of an unofficial list put to the President that Senator Kane wished to address himself to this motion. It is Senator Kane’s duty to be in the chamber when I look for him to call him. He is here now, so I call Senator Kane.
-I feel that this matter has been well canvassed. I think all viewpoints have been expressed, and I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Turnbull’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 2
That the motion (Senator Gair’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 1 303), on motion by Senator Cavanagh: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– If 1 find myself a little speechless at the moment it is as a result of finding out what happened in this chamber in most flagrant breach of a standing arrangement which has existed for a long time.
– Mr President, I rise to order. Is the honourable senator entitled to debate a decision which has been made by the Senate? Is he not supposed to be speaking to the Bill which is before the Senate?
– Order!I did not hear what Senator Rae said.
– But I hope some other people did because what has just happened is that there has been a vote, successful-
-I raise a point of order.
– Order! Senator Rae, you are not reflecting on a division which has just taken place, are you?
– No, not at all. I am not reflecting on it. We all know what happened. In relation to the Housing Assistance Bill which is the Bill before us-
– I raise a point of order, Mr President.
– What is the point of, order?
– I suggest that the honourable senator after you asked: Are you reflecting on a division which has just taken place?’, having said: ‘We all know what happened’, was reflecting on the division which had just taken place. I suggest that the honourable senator was out of order and that you, Mr President, should ask for a withdrawal.
– I rise to speak to the point of order. I heard what Senator Rae said. We must be careful in our elaboration of the points. It is only in that way that there can be any ruling by the President. It is for that purpose that I rise. Senator Rae said that we had got on to this Bill because of a flagrant piece of behaviour, a breach -I cannot recall the precise words. But that was not a reflection on the division. It was a reflection upon behaviour. What happened? What happened was a breach of practice under which this Senate has been ruled for as long as anyone in this chamber tonight has been here. I believe that to cancel the pairs unilaterally with a view to winning a division is conduct - when people engage in it - which is capable of being and which ought to be categorised in the terms in which it was. How can government be carried on when senators on the Opposition side go away knowing that their votes-
– Mr President-
– Order! Senator Georges, resume your seat. Senator Greenwood is speaking to a point of order.
– Can I not rise to the point of order?
– No, you cannot until Senator Greenwood has finished.
– Mr President, I rise to a point of order.
– Order! I wish to hear Senator Greenwood’s point of order.
– I rise to a point of order relating to a remark passed by Senator Gair. He referred in a loud voice to Senator Georges as a bloody Greek. 1 regard that as offensive, lt ought to be withdrawn immediately.
– Order! Senator Wheeldon, 1 shall deal with the point of order now before me and pay attention to your point of order later on.
– Mr President, are you going to allow what he said?
– Order! 1 will deal with that matter later on. I will hear Senator Greenwood’s point of order first. I call Senator Greenwood.
– Standing order 415 states:
No senator shall reflect upon any Vole of the Senate, except for the purpose of moving that such Vote be rescinded.
H is not a reflection upon a vote to comment upon persons who engage in conduct that we have seen for the first time, I am sure, in the experience of many people who have been around this place as officers of the Parliament reporting the Parliament. I believe that the mild remarks made by Senator Rae are remarks properly made in the circumstances and ought not to be ruled upon by you in the circumstances as being in any way a reflection upon the vote of the Senate. The truth will and must come out. The people who will be condemned are those people who have broken an arrangement under which the Parliament of the Westminster tradition operates. I trust that there will be some reflection on the part of Government senators as to how they will fare when they are faced with certain circumstances and cannot obtain pairs because they themselves unilaterally broke an arrangement.
– The circumstances are these, and I recall them to the Senate: Senator Rae rose. I heard some words which I thought were the beginning of words that may have been a reflection on the vote that had just taken place. In order to warn Senator Rae, if that were the case, I drew his attention to it. Senator Rae, I assume that you had no intention of making such a reflection, nor did you?
– No. That would be my understanding.
– All right. 1 now deal with Senator Wheeldon’s point or order.
– My point of order is that Senator Gair quite audibly referred to Senator Georges and said: ‘Sit down, you bloody Greek’. This is a highly offensive statement that I believe Senator Gair should be directed to withdraw.
- Senator Gair, did you say that?
– Never having had a facility for lying, Mr President, I admit having said it.
– Very well.
– Mr President, I do not know whether 1 am quite satisfied with that. I do not want to go into a long debate about my antecedents, whether they be bloody or otherwise. Nevertheless, Senator Gair has indicated that he said these words. He has said harsher things than that to me before. That is merely a gentle remark compared to some of the remarks that I could recite to the honourable senator’s disadvantage. He has hurled insulting and personal insults ot a rather obscene nature at me a number of times. Senator Jessop is attempting to take a point of order. You cannot do that now because the President has ruled previously that a point of order cannot be taken when-
– Order! Senator Georges, will you address the Chair?
– All I am seeking to do is to bring the matter to a conclusion. Not only should Senator Gair withdraw his remark, but he should also apologise for it, and I will be pleased to hear him do it.
– Order! It is not a question of how people feel about the matter. Senator Gair has met the requirements of the Standing Orders and the incident has ended so far as the Senate is concerned. I call Senator Rae.
– Thank you, Mr President.
– You are not a good Greek, either.
– I rise to order. Senator Gair has aggravated his previous remark by saying immediately afterwards to Senator Georges: *You are not a good Greek, either’. It is aggravating to make that remark immediately after the withdrawal of his first offensive remark. He is making a mockery of your ruling, Mr President. I ask that Senator Gair be made to withdraw this remark and not add anything further. If the Senate is allowed to become a place where remarks such as this can be made on a personal basis about an honourable senator’s antecedents, there will be no hope of obtaining any order or discipline. I ask you to make Senator Gair withdraw that remark without any reservation or qualification whatever.
– Order! I am convinced that the interjection that has been reported to me is highly disorderly. I ask Senator Gair to withdraw it.
– I withdraw.
– I call Senator Rae.
– If all of this is finished, I may be able to make some comments in relation to the Housing Assistance Bill which, after the passage of some time, now comes before the Senate. It provides for assistance to the Slates in relation to housing. The amount provided is relatively small. We are told that there is urgency in making the money available so that it can be expended during the remainder of this financial year. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. In due course of time the subject matter of housing will be debated fully when some of the proposals which so far we have heard about but have not yet seen in the Senate in the form of a Bill come before us. 1 do not suggest for a moment that the Opposition’s voice will not be heard in relation to some of those proposals with suggestions, comments and criticisms if they follow the general scheme which has been outlined.
But we do not wish to oppose this Bill. We wish to see that the money is made, available to the States to assist in housing. There .re some aspects of it about which we could comment. For instance, the States are being directed in a way which many of us may feel to be a little unfair where people are being required to provide particular types of assistance with the money provided. But these are matters which are not of sufficient importance, to delay the passage of the Bill in any way when compared with the importance of getting out some money before the end of the financial year which could assist in the provision of low cost housing in Australia. Accordingly, the Opposition, notwithstanding the extreme provocation of the events this evening, continues to pursue the attitude that it will not delay for any reason the passage of this Bill and will assist the Government in its program.
– On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, I wish to indicate that we are prepared to support the Housing Assistance Bill, although we have very grave reservations about the way in which the Commonwealth has gone about co-operating with the States for the purpose of its implementation, lt is very good that we are trying to provide low cost housing for those people who require it. lt is very good that we should be making that type of housing available and encouraging the people who will benefit to provide for themselves and their future needs and to escape the circumstances that always surround landlordism, whether it be in the hands of the State or of private individuals. We should encourage the enthusiasm and the application of individuals who set out with the ambition of owning their own homes. This is far better than offering to a community a sop of low rental housing just so that it may be there and so that it can be said it has been provided.
An enormous amount of good has come from the housing programs in this country when those on low incomes have been encouraged to purchase houses that have been made available by the States. They receive the same type of house. They have bought them under very advantageous circumstances and have been covered with excellent protection in the form of insurance that has been arranged by the various States. On this occasion, we find that there has been a great disputation, particularly with the State of Victoria that I represent in the Senate, on the question of how the money, once allocated to the State, will be spent and whether the homes are for rental or for purchase. I believe that a State ought to encourage people who require this type of housing and who set out to purchase housing within the compass of their finances. Nowhere has the Commonwealth produced evidence that any of the States, particularly the State that I represent - Victoria - have been making this type of housing available for purchase by people whose income is in excess of that of those renting houses. Provided housing is going to the people, I much prefer to see a government with the ambition to encourage purchase rather than rental of these types of homes. I believe that the Commonwealth has been wrong in imposing such requirements upon the States. The requirements have been relaxed to some degree, but not to the extent desired by the Government of the State of Victoria in particular. I am not aware of the attitudes of the other States.
The other question that can arise in relation to the general cost of houses that may bc purchased from the States even in these circumstances is the need to draw attention to the situation despite the advantages that will accrue to this section of our community as a result of this Bill; that is, that those who wish to purchase, if they are hampered by the higher interest rates which have now been agreed to by this Government, will find that, whatever the Government may try to do in other directions to lower the cost of housing, the near 1 per cent increase in the overall interest rates not only will take from them whatever advantages are available as a result of attempts to lower costs in terms of prices of material or even land but also will mean that ultimately they will pay more for their homes than they would under more reasonable interest rates which are within their compass.
Having stated, those criticisms, I say that the Democratic Labor Party has no desire to delay the Bill. We are- even prepared to assist in ils speedy passage although we have reservations about it. We request the Government to look twice at this type of policy because we do not believe that it is trying to carry out, in legislative form, the ideals that it purports to have on this question. 1 believe that, like myself, the present Government believes in more home ownership for the lower income groups than they are enjoying today. Surely, therefore, the Government does not want to persevere with the idea that it must make everybody on a lower income merely a tenant of a landlord State.
– The Opposition is eager to pass this Bill this evening and therefore 1 shall speak for a very short time on a matter with which I am very familiar and on which I would usually speak for a great deal of time. The Opposition, in supporting this Bill, supports the principle that Commonwealth money should be made available to the States for greater housing construction. There are some problems about that and I wish to point out one or two things to the Government in the few minutes for which I shall speak. I can only hope that it will take some notice of them. The core of the matter is that when one pours increased money into housing at any particular time one is pouring money into an activity which immediately will push up costs in that industry. Throughout Australia, from the generation of the original product - whether it be timber, bricks or whatever - there is a general flow of material. If one attempts to accelerate the demand for that flow from a general level, without building up the supply of the original product, one will find increased cost. If the Government does not have the information to enable it to work this out for itself, then 1 ask it to take some advice from the industry.
What has taken place since this Government assumed office in its attempt to have more houses built has caused a shortage of materials. In such a case anyone who trades in materials is not able to bargain and lower the cost of materials because the demand from above him is so high. That situation exists today. Materials are in short supply because of the housing demand and no basis has been laid in industry for the production of the necessary goods. This has created a shortage of supplies and increased housing costs of an order never known in the past 10 years. The other factor - the rise in wages - also is very important. Apparently the Government we have today is eager to encourage a very high rate of increase in the general wage. It is creating enormous problems for the people who are supposed to be helped by this measure. The amount of labour poured into any residence is particularly high and will remain so until we can find some means of producing houses from a factory.
The main point I am eager to put to the Government and, as I understand it, the main point of this whole matter, has been the original attitude of the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) in that whilst he says that money will be made available to the States he then says - I believe with little knowledge - to the States, including Labor States as well as Liberal Party or Country Party States: ‘You will apply most of that money to rental housing’. It is very interesting to see that at today’s prices discussions with the States the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said: ‘Can we work together?’ It is the first time since this Government took office that it has taken that attitude. In every other matter, including this one of which we speak - housing finance - the
Commonwealth, perhaps with good intentions but with a lack of knowledge - has said: ‘We intend that you can use only 30 per cent of that money for houses built for sale’.
Let me point out a couple of matters to the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh), as Minister representing the Minister for Housing. In my State of Victoria we have a very proud record in that the Housing Commission and the State Government - a Liberal Party Government, if I may say so - has over a period of years made houses available for tenants to purchase. I believe that is a good principle. I do not know whether the Minister for Works or the Labor Party wishes to maintain in the community a type of serfdom whereby people will rent their houses forever. That appears to be the attitude. But, in Victoria, for a deposit of $200 the Housing Commission makes available, a 3-bedroom home of an approximate value of $13,200 or a monthly repayment of $65.10, at 5£ per cent interest over a 45-year term. This means that the individual purchaser has to find approximately $16.30 a week. He is gaining an asset, he is proud of his home and he attempts to maintain it and to keep it in an environment in which his family is pleased to live. That does not always happen in rental premises. As a comparison, the rental proposition is that a similar 3 bedroom home in the metropolitan area is made available at $12.30 a week. There are some very interesting figures in relation to this. My point is that in Victoria the cost of purchasing a home is very little different from the cost of renting a home. I believe that on every occasion people should be given an opportunity to purchase their homes should they so desire.
I understand that the New South Wales Housing Commission makes available a 3- bedroom brick veneer home in the Sydney metropolitan area, which has been established to cost approximately $16,600, at a rental of $22.50 a week. The purchase requirements are a deposit of $200, stamp duty pf $2.50 and a weekly repayment of $20.80 over 45 years. Let us not be struck by that figure, because the purchaser has the responsibility of maintenance and payment of rates. However, the comparison is: Pay rent of $22.50 a week or own one’s own home, by paying the Housing Commission $20.80 a week. Yet a Minister of the socialist Labor Government has tried to demand of the States that they make available for sale to those who wish to buy them only a certain number of houses. Any person on a reasonable wage in Australia today can afford to purchase a home. I think that should be the principle which is applied. I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill but I would plead with the Government to look very carefully into the matters I have raised before it rushes in again and makes statements which are so ridiculous.
– I commend the Bill before the Senate, but I also wish to refer to some of the problems that exist in South Australia. I support Senator Webster’s statement that we ought to be encouraging the people of Australia to purchase their own homes.
– But Senator Webster has not looked at the Bill.
– I believe that Senator Webster has looked at it and that he has the interests of the people at heart because he has encouraged them to invest money in establishing their own interest in a home. I would like to refer to what is happening in South Australia. In its election promise the State Government said that it was going to make 300 acress available adjacent to the Noarlunga regional centre to enable 1,200 homes to be built for sale at about $10,000 to $11,000 each. I recall that the Builders Labourers Federation was critical of Australian workmen for not being capable of building a house of proper standards. I think that is quite incredible.
– That is not so.
– It is so.
– With overseas money too.
– I will be coming to that. The amazing part of the whole business is that the South Australian Government intends to make this land available to. the Australian Council of Trade Unions to enable it to build homes with the use of Israeli money for South Australians to purchase. I believe that that illustrates the incredible standards of the Australian Labor Party. Senator Webster has illustrated how people are being coerced into renting homes.
– It is not surprising that it will do that when it breaks its word on pairs, is it?
- Senator Little has introduced something else into the debate.
– Order? Address your remarks to the Chair, Senator Jessop. I do not want colloquy between honourable senators.
– I was just emphasising what Senator Webster has said. People are being persuaded to spend up to $15 or $20 a week on the rental of homes when they could be putting that money into the purchase of their own homes. The South Australian Housing Trust, which is an institution that uses wholly Australian money, is providing homes for the people of South Australia. I. believe that last year it built 2,201 flats, cottages and homes for the benefit of the people of South Australia. It makes housing available at as low a deposit as $100. The Government is now encouraging people to rent homes. That is quite incredible. 1 believe that the people of Australia should be encouraged to put their money into something that will provide them with a capital investment for the future. I believe that they ought to be encouraged to purchase their own homes.
I feel that what is happening in South Australia is quite contrary to what we should be advocating in this place. The South Australian Government is advocating the expansion of housing development in South Australia by the use of foreign capital. I believe that that is a wrong attitude to take. I believe it is an undermining of the South Australian Housing Trust, which has been doing a very good job in encouraging people to purchase their own homes on a low deposit and at low repayments. I commend the Bill; but I would point out that I think that we ought to be encouraging people to purchase their own homes rather than to enter into long term agreements to rent their place of domicile, which is to the detriment of their personal interests.
– in reply - 1 thank the Opposition for not opposing this Bill. I regret that some members of the Opposition could not resist the temptation to express their opposition to the Government’s general housing policy. An examination of this legislation will reveal that those honourable senators have not read the Bill and do not know anything about its terms. The fact of the matter is that the Commonwealth-States Housing Agreement expires in June of this year. The Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) is now in the process of meeting the State Ministers for Housing on the implementation of a new agreement that will continue in force for a 3-year or 5-year period. It is necessary to obtain the approval of the State Ministers on that agreement. The terms of the agreement, particularly as to whether the housing constructed is to be for rental purposes only or for purchase, will be the subject of a series of discussions between the Commonwealth and the States.
When the Labor Government took office it found itself in the position where the construction of government dwellings in :he various States had fallen to such an extent that in 1972 about 6,000 fewer houses were built than in each of the years 1969-70 and 1970-71 and 3,000 fewer than in 1971-72. The decline in the number of houses being built by the housing commissions throughout Australia at that time was due to the fact that the States had to use up their allocation in earlier years. To arrest that position the Commonwealth committed itself to the provision of an additional $6.55m, which Senator Rae said was a small amount.
– I said relatively small in relation to housing.
– (But that was not an allowance for a 12-month period; it was an allowance to arrest the decline in building or to make up for the insufficiency of the previous Government’s allocation to enable building to carry on over a 5-year period. The additional amount was provided for the States to use and not to create a demand on materials and manpower, as Senator Webster suggested. It was for the use of the manpower which was available for the construction of housing commission homes and which would have had to be dismissed because of the lack of finance to carry on to the end of June. So an additional amount was made available for use by the States to the end of June. As this amount was additional to the amount provided for in the agreement between the previous Commonwealth Government and the States the Commonwealth made it a condition of the provision that the amount of $6. 55m had to be spent on the construction of rental homes.
Irrespective of whether people desire to own homes it is undeniable that there are 90,000 applicants for rental homes in Australia at the present time, there are people who are being exploited by landlords charging high rentals, people who are living in poverty and people who are living in sub-standard homes. It is for those people that this provision has been made. Who is to say that it was wrong to do so? Who will say that it is going to increase the cost of homes? This money is being provided to the States at 4 per cent interest. That is the lowest interest rate that has ever been applied to money made available to the States for homes. It will result in the construction of cheaper homes under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I thank the Opposition for its support of this proposal. In view of the time and as the Government wants to get this legislation through the Senate tonight, I shall say no more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to speak to the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. Does the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) want the Housing Assistance Bill passed tonight?
– The Government would like the Housing Assistance Bill and the Defence Service Homes Bill passed tonight.
– There has been no arrangement of any sort about this, and I desire to speak to the motion.
– I seek leave to make a short statement.
– I have no objection.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– After tonight’s episode perhaps the leaders are not speaking. I have no power to speak to the Leader of the Opposition about speaking in the adjournment debate. We were hoping, as a result of what was said today, that because only a short period would be involved the Opposition would vote with us to oppose the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and permit the Housing Assistance Bill and the Defence Services Homes Bill to be passed tonight. Then I would move that the Senate adjourn. If there is no agreement and, the Leader of the Opposition exercises his right to speak at this stage, we will take it no further.
– I seek leave to make a statement in reply.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Opposition) - I certainly would not oppose a negativing of the motion at this stage to enable the Housing Assistance Bill to be passed, although the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) will understand that there is some reluctance to do so. It is not aimed at the Minister. It is due to an earlier episode. It is for that reason only. We would not want to see the Bill delayed at this stage. I do not think the Defence Service Homes Bill should come on. I do not want to take too much time now. After all, the last division was called for at 9.45 p.m.
– When both Bills are completed I will move that the Senate adjourn.
– On that condition, we will negative the motion when it is put.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a third time.
– The Opposition agrees to the Defence Services Homes Bill being debated provided there will be no lengthy speeches.
– There will be none by me. I suggest that the next order of the day be called on.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 1 385), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition will co-operate to facilitate the passage of this Bill because it will bring to people benefits which we support in basic terms. The War Service Homes Act will become the Defence Service Homes Act, if the Bill is passed. The Bill will make alterations which, among other things, will extend the amount of loan available to qualified exservice people. We increased the amount just a few years ago. Now the amount will be. increased from $9,000 to $12,000. We understand that a number of people have been awaiting the passage of the Bill so that they could finalise applications for loans. They are entitled to benefits. If we delay the passage of the Bill the processing of their applications will be delayed. I refer to what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) said yesterday when the Bill was being referred to. He said that it has been delayed at various times by the Government, not by the Opposition. The Opposition has been prepared to debate it.
The Opposition is prepared to give the Bill a speedy passage tonight. Therefore, we will not move the amendment which we had intended to move but I will read it to the Senate because it expresses our view. It may be taken by the Government that we are simply indicating a view which we would have argued and pursued if it were not for the fact that it would delay benefits being granted to people who are entitled to them. We are of the opinion that:
Provision should have been made for the effective period of service to be 6 years.
I interpolate - rather than the period of 3 years which is provided in the Bill. There are many reasons for that, and those reason are set out in detail in the various speeches which were made in the House of Representatives on this Bill. The second point which the Opposition would wish to make is that we. are of the following opinion:
For the concessions granted to single or widowed female members of the forces without dependents be granted also to single or widowed male members of the forces without dependants.
The justice of such an amendment is obvious, and I find it difficult to understand why the
Government was not prepared to pursue that type of amendment. I ask the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) to pass on to the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) that we are also of this opinion:
For amendments to be made to the principal Act in respect of the title to the dwelling-house, unit or lot to enable the serviceman to borrow on second mortgage and give valid security to the lender.
The reasons for that were outlined in the House of Representatives. I feel that we are rushing the Bill through a little by not outlining the reasons again. I simply refer to the debate that took place in the House of Representatives.
The reasons include the fact that there is a wide variation in housing prices in various States and that many people are not able to take advantage of the loans available under this legislation because as things stand they cannot borrow on second mortgage. I do not pursue the reasons further. I just draw attention to them. I remind the Minister that we do not pursue them, and I remind the Senate of the other amendment which the Opposition moved in the House of Representatives and which is now contained in clause 8 of the Bill. The purpose of the amendment was to extend to TPI pensioners certain benefits. I congratulate the Government for being prepared in that instance to accept an obviously desirable amendment which was moved by the Opposition. We are pleased that the Government was prepared to accept it. It is now incorporated in clause 8 of the Bill. We support the Bill.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I join in giving support to the Bill. A number of matters were raised by the Country Party in another place. It was stated that the Country Party had its doubts as to the benefits which would be given. It viewed the granting of benefits to certain national servicemen as somewhat of a bribe to get them to stay in the forces. Certain parts of the Bill could well be revised. I had quite a comprehensive speech to make on it. I intended to discuss, among other things, the increase in the amount of loans from $9,000 to $12,000 and the matters which I mentioned in relation to the Housing Assistance Bill about costs. A person who borrows $12,000 has to pay $10 a week in interest, even under the very beneficial interest rates that apply under this legislation. The fact is that under this Government costs are getting away from the individual far too much. There are a number of matters that this Government, with its wisdom and with its freshness, should be very careful to evaluate before it proceeds with them. I refer to wages, compensation and the desire to have more homes built. Costs probably are getting away far more in the building industry than in any other industry at the present time. The Country Party does not oppose this Bill.
– Minister for Works) (10.41) - in reply - In view of the attitude of the Opposition and the generosity extended to me in relation to this Bill, I agree with everything that has been said. The question raised by Senator Rae will be taken up with the responsible Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, it is a fairly unusual procedure for me to wish to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but I do not think that the Senate should adjourn tonight without my making some comments on what happened earlier tonight, mainly for the benefit of the record of the Senate. I know that I am not allowed to allude to a debate which occurred in the Senate tonight, but I think that I am allowed to allude to matters which arose during divisions. I ought to place on record that when the motion moved by Senator Gair for the appointment of a Senate select committee to inquire into the civil rights of migrant Australians was called on for final decision by the Senate, the Senate divided on the question. I ought to inform the Senate that, as I moved to the seats on your right hand, Mr President, to vote on the matter, I was informed by the Opposition Whip, Senator Young, that he had been informed by the Government Whip, Senator O’Byrne, that all pairs were off.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech!
– Upholding the Standing Orders of the Senate is of vital importance to me and I thought it would have been of vital importance to Senator Marriott. Mr President, I draw your attention to whether it is permissible to refer to pairs in the Senate. My attention has been drawn to the reference work written by Mr Odgers, ‘Australian Senate Practice’.
– What about the Standing Orders?
– This work deals with the Standing Orders. On page 234 the author states:
Although pairs are recorded in Hansard they are not recognised by the Senate and must not be referred to in debate, nor in a Question or personal explanation.
The authority on Senate practice says that pairs must not be referred to in a debate. Pairing is an arrangement between parties. An arrangement between parties cannot ‘ be dragged into the Senate “when the Senate is not recognised as a party House.
– Senator Cavanagh should have read on from ‘Australian Senate Practice’ and I do not uphold the point of order. Senator Withers carefully skirted around attracting my attention as a result of a reference to a debate that took place prior to the motion for the adjournment. As a speaker opposing the motion for the adjournment, the honourable senator has a right to refer to any subject. Whether or not pairs are recognised in the practice of the Senate - in fact, they are not recognised and I do not recognise them - he may address himself to a custom of the Senate.
– I was wishing to put on record the situation as we members of the Opposition saw it this evening. This evening 3 Opposition senators were paired with 3 Government senators. I understand that 2 of the pairs were at the request of the Government and one at the request of the Opposition. The interesting fact is why this matter was concluded in the way it was. The great question which we all must ask ourselves is: Why?
What I wish to place ‘ on record for the information of Government senators is that they cannot expect to receive any pairs until there is an apology in the Senate to members of the Opposition and until a firm undertaking is given that in future undertakings on pairs will be adhered to. I must go further,
Mr President: Any such undertaking given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) will not be accepted unless it is backed by that of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I think that the Leader of the Government in the Senate ought now to be told that we on this side of the chamber will never trust him again in any matter at all. The conduct tonight was such that there cannot be any sort of relationship between Senator Murphy and myself. I am the first to admit that our relationship may not have been as good as it should have been since the parliamentary session commenced. I am prepared to admit that that is not necessarily Senator Murphy’s fault.
– You are being bighearted.
– I am not afraid to admit my sins, if I have them. Mr President, I think it must he made quite clear - I speak for myself, for my Deputy and for the other Liberals who sit behind me - that never again can we trust the Leader of the Government in this place. If that means that the Senate becomes unworkable, then the Prime Minister and his Government have no one to blame but the person appointed to lead the Government in this place, and the Prime Minister must pick up that burden.
I would like to make this comment: Whilst this is primarily a Senate matter - I can understand that perhaps the Government has no need for pairs in this place; it may think that it will always be in the minority if the 3 Opposition groups combine and therefore a pair or two does not matter, and that whether the Government loses by one vote or by 4 votes is immaterial - I, of course, must have discussions with my parliamentary leader, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, because if the same course were adopted by the Opposition in the other place - at this moment I have no knowledge of whether it would be adopted - the working of government would become impossible. In that House the Government must always retain its majority, and we realise that all governments, of necessity, must have Ministers absent from the Parliament either within or without Australia on Government business. That is why I say that this responsibility, whilst it might be seen to be just a Senate matter here tonight, has implications far outside this chamber. It is now a matter right in the Prime Minister’s lap. We on this side of the Parliament would hope that the Prime Minister will deal more honourably with us than we were dealt witta this night.
– -The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) speaks of honour in this place. I refer to the succession of events over the last few weeks. Mr President, I remind you that after I made a statement on Croatian terrorism the Leader of the Opposition came into this chamber with what amounted to a motion of no confidence. After I had spoken, he came into this chamber and without a single second’s notice to me moved a motion of no confidence as an amendment to my motion. Then at the end of it, without a single second’s notice, he moved the gag. Then again we had the events of the last few weeks. This has gone on-
– We will never trust you again.
– You shut up, you little cur.
– A cur and a skunk.
– Mr President, I rise to point out to you that I object to being referred to in the way in which I was by 2 honourable senators opposite - by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and by his running dog-
– I am sorry, his Whip.
– Senator Rae, you object to the words used by Senator Murphy and who else?
– Senator O’Byrne.
– Do you ask for a withdrawal?
- Senator Murphy, do you withdraw?
– Mr President, out of deference to you, 1 will withdraw.
– Senator O’Byrne, do you withdraw.
– I ask for a withdrawal by Senator Rae-
– Order! Will you withdraw the words that I heard?
– You did not hear them.
– I heard them.
– You did not hear him call me a running dog.
– I heard Senator Rae being described as a cur. Is that the word you used?
– If you heard the interjection, I will withdraw.
– Over the last few weeks we have seen a breach of every arrangement which has been standing in this Senate and which has governed the working of the Senate. It has been pointed out in the Senate that, although the Leader of the Opposition has made certain undertakings, he has failed to honour his undertakings in respect of the workings of the Senate. He has failed to come, as he said, to confer on the workings of the Senate. We have had an endeavour to take over the Government’s business in the Senate. Yesterday the Australian Democratic Labor Party moved - and not for the first time - to take over the control of the business of the Senate. We have had the breaking of the arrangements, which have operated, I think, for living memory, that the Government should have an effective majority on any committee of the Senate.
This evening Senator Turnbull, by his amendment, gave the Opposition a chance to agree that the Government should have equal numbers on the committee which honourable senators opposite sought to set up, but the amendment was rejected. Before that we had the truth stated by one of the members of the Opposition. Senator Carrick, in a moment of frankness, revealed what had been said all along about the motion which was debated this evening.
– Order! You must not, during the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, refer to a debate that took place this evening.
– Let me say this: In every parliament in the Westminster system, if there is anything which amounts to a vote of confidence all pairs are off. Tonight the view was taken, and rightly taken, by my Whip when it was stated that the motion - its whole purpose and its only object - was aimed at a particular person - a Minister - that this was a motion of confidence. There is no doubt about that. This was stated accepted and put by the Opposition senator. When the Opposition persisted in refusing even to give the Government equality of representation - not a casting vote, but simply equality of representation - on a. committee which was to be set up for the whole purpose, and the only purpose, as Senator Carrick said, to aim at the Attorney-General, the Government was entitled to take the view - and my Whip took the view - that this was a motion of no confidence and that in those circumstances he would not agree to any pairs in the Senate.
It is quite evident from the events of the past few weeks that the 3 Opposition parties have a majority in the Senate which have the numbers, and are determined to use these numbers without any regard to conventions that have existed. They have broken every understanding. Every arrangement that has been made as to pairs has been made on the basis that certain conventions and traditions would be observed. What has happened is that the convention or the tradition that the Government should have an effective majority on committees has been broken. Honourable senators opposite have decided to go out and break these conventions and every tradition; not only that but they have decided to break everything that has been carefully built up over the last few years. Well, let them do it, and let it be on their own heads that they have set out to do it. As far as we are concerned, they have a majority in the Senate. They have 31 members. They can do what they like. If they want to break down everything that has been built up over the last few years, they can do it. But let there be no nonsense about it; let there be no thought that we are carrying on in some kind of gentle fashion.
Honourable senators opposite have decided to use the brutality of numbers. Let them go ahead and use those numbers. As I have said, they have 31 members. If they want to, next Tuesday let them move to set up some other committee and pass something without reference to the facts of the matter, as they have done before. Now they turn around and pretend that they want to carry out an investigation, with television and all these other things in order to harry and do whatever they like. Well, they should do it. But do not let us pretend that it is gentlemanly or decent or anything of this nature, because they are not decent and they are not gentlemanly. They are just using their numbers. Let them do it. This is what they want to do. They have broken the traditions and the conventions. They have broken everything that we on this side of the chamber have tried to build up and preserve.
They started off with a pretention of some kind of investigation but, in reality, as Senator Carrick has revealed, there was only one purpose in moving the motion. This is what honourable senators opposite have done. From now on they can just go ahead and do it. We are not going to tolerate this pretence, this nonsense, when honourable senators opposite are going to carry on with this hypocrisy of putting up a motion which is, in reality, a confidence motion. That has been revealed nakedly in the Senate. From now on honourable senators opposite can do it; they can use their numbers brutally. Instead of trying to cover them with some subtlety, just do it and see how we get on. From now on there will be no nonsense about it. The Leader of the Opposition stood up in this chamber and said that perhaps he is to blame. Since the commencement of this session, not on one occasion - let alone before anything about Croatian terrorism arose - has the courtesy been paid, which was always paid by me in dealing with the former Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson.
I will not include the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) in those remarks because on one occasion I think he did pay some deference to the traditions of the Senate. But not once has the Democratic Labor Party or the Liberal Party made any pretention even to observe the conventions which are necessary if this Senate is to work. That is what they wanted to bring about. They are determined to bring it about, because the Government has changed. They are not willing to recognise that with a change of government certain conventions must still be observed. The Government is entitled to carry on its business. They have decided to use their numbers. Well, let them do it! But let the whole country know what is going on. Let us have no more pretence about the matter. Now, next week, get up there and start to move some more of your motions, irrespective of the facts, circumstances, justice, truth, numbers, conventions, traditions or anything else. This is all we can expect from you. That, no doubt, is what you will do.
- Mr President, it was an arrogant, authoritarian and irresponsible act which took place in the course of a division this evening in the Senate. It was authoritarian because it was unilateral.
The Government, without notice, without any indication beforehand that this course was to be adopted, and in order to secure a vote favourable to it, decided that all pairs would be called off. That act was irresponsible because it was done without adequate reflection, as Senator Withers has indicated, of the consequences of that action upon the Government in the whole Parliament. As Senator Withers said, this is a matter which concerns not only the work of the Senate but also must concern the attitude of our colleagues in the Opposition in the House of Representatives.
It is an action which is not made any more justifiable, even if it could be justified, by the way in which Senator Murphy has sought to defend what he has done. He has made an attack upon the Leader of the Opposition which is quite unwarranted and which has not been demonstrated with any particular instance to which he can point. There is a generality of statement made by Senator Murphy. We know that he has this tendency to generalise and we also know that, in the past, the generalisation has been found to be faulty because there has been no specific basis on which to sustain it. But when Senator Murphy says that Senator Withers has been in breach of every arrangement and every undertaking, I ask the Senate to reflect upon what is being said. The Government could not have secured the passage of the 30-odd Bills for which it has already secured passage through this Parliament this year if it was not for the fact that the Opposition, acting through its Leader,’ has co-operated with the Government to ensure that legislation to which the Opposition is not opposed but upon which it may from time to time have some comments to offer is not delayed in its passage through that place. Abundant evidence is on the records to prove what I say. It cannot be said with truth or with objectivity that that is not the position, if people are only prepared to look as what has occurred.
Senator Murphy might have expected some credence to be given to what he said if his own conduct this year had not demonstrated that he is a man whose credibility is very much suspect. In the course of this year, we have seen major incidents - in a sense, I suppose the major problem incidents for the Whitlam government have been those in which Senator Murphy has figured. It may be that he is just plain crisis prone. It may be that he is plain unlucky. But it seems that everything that he touches causes difficulties for his leader and for the Government. I think that it is not surprising that this particular action tonight will probably cause the greatest trouble of all the troubles which have befallen the Whitlam Government. Senator Murphy seeks to justify this action on some assumed, unjustified, unparticularised allegation of a failure on the part of the Opposition to co-operate. Senator Withers, I think, was gracious and forbearing in the way in which he approached this matter. I do not think he needed to say anything of the character which he said about there being possibly some fault on his part because we know that Senator Murphy has proved to be a very difficult person to see and to reach and to have arrangements with because - this may be part of the difficulty he is facing - he is a Minister with many obligations and is required to be in many places at many times. He cannot always be available when sought. Of course, on occasions when he is available he should tell people and in those circumstances it may be that others can see him. That is part of the difficulty and it is that sort of situation which Senator Withers acknowledged.
I know that Opposition senators would join with me unanimously in saying that we have difficulty daily in knowing what the Government business is, and often we do not know what Bills are to be brought forward by the Government until we come into the Senate and Senator Murphy moves a motion at the time of placing of business. This is not because the Whips do not try to make an arrangement; it is simply because the management of the Government in this place has its difficulties. I believe that is really what Senator Murphy was referring to, and to put the blame on Senator Withers and to use it as justification for this action tonight is completely inexcusable and lacks any basis. Furthermore, it is inaccurate. Senator Murphy said that this vote tonight was tantamount to a vote of confidence in a Minister and therefore there was some unwritten rule that he could break the pairs. He did not refer to the book to which we all refer from time to time to get authority in these matters. He did not give any authority for that proposition. lt is inaccurate because there was an earlier occasion this year when there was a direct motion of no confidence in the AttorneyGeneral. That was carried on 4th April on a vote in which there were pairs. The pairs were not called off on that occasion. So if , as Sena tor Murphy pleads tonight, there is any merit in or justification for calling off the pairs, why did he not do it on an earlier occasion when there was a vote of no confidence? This is one further illustration of an impetuous act taken without consideration of the consequences, and the attempt thereafter to justify on the first basis which comes to mind. It really is a matter of little consideration whether that basis has justification. Senator Murphy refers to the brutality of numbers. Of course, I do not know whether he has complained to his colleague, the Leader of the House in the House of Representatives, Mr Daly, about the exercise of the numbers in that place but if he were prepared to do it and to take that stand, it may be that what he says here might have more credence attaching to it. However, the basic fact is - I remember Senator Murphy saying this on occasions when he, then in Opposition, could persuade the Australian Democratic Labor Party or the independent senators to vote with the then Opposition - that it is the vote of the Senate which is important. It was all the more important then because neither the major Opposition Party nor the Government had a majority in the House. Therefore, we should give greater weight to the vote of the Senate. We have all heard Senator Murphy use that type of expression when he was in Opposition.
Tonight when it is a vote of the Senate with which he disagrees) - we are all the more interested now to find out why the Government does not want to have an inquiring select committee established - he decides that this is the occasion when he will break one of the traditional arrangements in this place. I refer to the standard practice which we observe in the Senate relating to pairs which, of course, as Mr Odgers says, is a courtesy arrangement. It is an arrangement which is not honoured by being mentioned in the Standing Orders, but it is the basis upon which all Houses of Parliament operate. For its efficacy and for the proper working of the Parliament we must be able to have this arrangement.
An honourable senator from the Government side, whom we all know is gravely indisposed but who still spends his time in the precincts, was told readily and without any question at the outset of this session that he would always be paired, and the only occasion on which that senator has voted this year was tonight. Two other pairs were made today, and the 2 Opposition senators concerned left the Parliament this afternoon knowing that in fact they had been paired by agreement through the Whip. Of course, if we had wanted them we could have said to them that a tremendously important question had arisen and notwithstanding the pressing nature of their engagements, they would have returned. When they read the news of what has happened, they will feel an embarrassment which is not theirs at all. The embarrassment rests with the Government.
I believe all that Senator Withers said is totally justified and it must have its consequences. I say also with the authority of Senator Withers that the Opposition will do all in its power to right what we believe was the wrong which occurred tonight. At the earliest opportunity we shall seek by the means which the Standing Orders provide to have the motion recommitted, because that is the proper way in which we should seek to ensure that the standards of working in this place are maintained and to make it abundantly clear that the tactics of the type which were adopted by the Government tonight do not pay. I believe that the Senate, if it comes to consider the question of recommittal, will agree that the only decent thing to do is to restore one of the courtesies, one of the standards of operation, which has long guided the way in which the Senate works.
– We have just listened to another attack upon the credibility on the Leader of the Government in this chamber (Senator Murphy) and, indeed, upon the vote of the Australian people. As I said yesterday during the course of a debate that took place in this chamber, the Government and the Australian people are sick and tired of the frustration and the thwarting of Government business that has been caused by the Opposition.
– What a lot of nonsense.
– My friend from South Australia, Senator Jessop, says that that is a lot of rubbish. We know that yesterday the control of Government business was taken out of the hands of this Government and tonight, when the Senate debated general business, again the Opposition took control out of the hands of the Government, not because it is the elected Government but because by way of tripartite arrangement - .the Liberal Party, the Country
Party and the minority rump in this Senate, the Democratic Labor Party, which in fact has become the leader in the Opposition - it decided to wield the big stick. It is complete audacity on the part of the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the so-called leaders of the Opposition, the DLP rump, to suggest, as Senator Greenwood suggested and indeed as Senator Withers suggested, that Senator Murphy’s credibility is very much suspect.
These people who sit opposite us remind me of sharp shooters looking at a target. They have been looking at the target ever since this Parliament met and the target has been the Leader of the Government in the Senate. They intend to try to pick off each Minister in this chamber one by one merely because they have the numbers in this place. I suggest, as I suggested yesterday, that it is about time the Australian people realised what is going on in this Parliament. This Government was elected on 2nd November. It was elected by the people of this country to carry out a program of legislation. It is a government that has so many things to put into effect. It is a government that has many things to do for the welfare of the Australian people. I ask you, Mr Deputy- President, as I ask all honourable senators in this place, especially the members of the Liberal Party, the members of the Country Party and the Party of the titular head of the Opposition - the Democratic Labor Party: How many Bills has this Senate passed this week? The Australian people send us to this Parliament at great expense and we are here from Monday night or Tuesday morning until Thursday night or Friday morning. And this week in this Senate one Bill has been passed.
– That is incorrect.
Well, how many have been passed?
– There was one the other day.
– According to my recollection one Bill has been passed.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I ask the Minister to speak the truth. If he does not know the facts he should not speak.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! No point of order is involved.
– I speak subject to recollection and honourable senators opposite can correct me.
– You are wrong. Ask the Clerk.
– I do stand corrected. Senator Webster has corrected me. Two Bills were passed this week.
– You are wrong again. What a great Minister!
How much longer can the Australian people continually-
– Have another guess.
Senator McAuliffe - I raise a point of order. 1 want you, Mr Deputy President, to be consistent in your rulings from the chair. Senator Webster is continually interjecting while the Minister is speaking. When anyone from this side interjected earlier you, sir, were very quick and spontaneous.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator will resume his seat. That is a reflection on the Chair. There are continual interjections and there have been all night. There are as many people interjecting from my right as there are from my left. This is so even when the honourable senator’s colleagues are speaking. I suggest that the Senate come to order and have some sense of decency in the proceedings.
– Let us get off the Bills that have been dealt with. What, about the committees. There was the matter concerning King Island. The Opposition moved for the establishment of a select committee. It moved that a majority of members of the Opposition be appointed to that Committee.
– Do not forget they selected the chairman, Senator Wright.
– And the Opposition wanted the chairman elected. The Opposition moved another motion concerning Croatian activities. It wanted a majority of the Opposition on that committee. Honourable members have the audacity to suggest that they are not taking the control of government business away from the Government. Senator Greenwood has suggested that the action taken by the Government this evening was arrogant, authoritarian and irresponsible.
– He should have added ‘dishonest’.
Now Senator Little from the Party of the titular head of the Opposition says that it was dishonest as well. We believe in trying to implement the will of the Australian people. We want to get on with the job of governing this country and if we are continually to be frustrated and thwarted in the management of the affairs of this nation, as I said yesterday, the sooner both Houses of this Parliament can be taken to the people the better it will be for the Australian nation.
– I rise because, since 1946 1 have had experience of a continuous nature in the Parliament of Tasmania and in this Parliament. To my recollection on not one occasion has there been a time when the leader of a Party has repudiated paris. The granting of pairs is an arrangement of responsibility and a long honoured tradition which is fundamental to the good faith upon which the Parliament works. For Senator Murphy, as his last act in the Senate before leaving for Europe, to instigate a repudiation of pairs without notice is a depth of parliamentary dishonour I think without precedent in the recollection of anybody in parliamentary life in Australia. Senator Murphy, when challenged, had the indiscretion to lose his temper in a rabid attack on Senator Rae. 1 concede that he had the decency to withdraw when the Chair called attention to this attack. But the honourable senator showed the degree to, which his irrationality overtakes him.
Then he complained about the Opposition. We are still elected by the people to the authorities which are within the powers of this chamber. Therefore, having those authorities we are under a duty, according to our judgment, to exercise them. By what spirit of dictatorship does the honourable senator, having become the Leader of the Government in the Senate - where his Party is in a minority - by reason of the fact that his Party has a majority in the other House, claim the right always to overrule the Opposition in this chamber? The people of Australia are beginning, in growing numbers, to acknowledge and to realise the importance of this chamber as the really effective bulwark against this unqualified dictatorship which Senator Murphy is so inclined, impulsively, to express. I suggest to the. honourable senator that he should recognise that the people have constituted this chamber within the bounds of its limited authority to exercise some scrutiny and examination in respect of Government affairs. It is in the realm of committees where the honourable senator, when in opposition, emphasised that our chief function lies. When there is an administrative matter or a matter such as Croatian affairs it is absurd for a Government majority to inquire into the propriety of Government action when the Senate can constitute a committee with a majority independent of the Government but can concede to the Government a very great proportion of numbers.
The Senate will lose all respect within itself and in the country if it does not maintain the full integrity of its authority to inquiry into Government administration. As far as the people whom .1 represent are concerned, I give the undertaking that I will go on exercising that authority whatever be the strictures of Senator Murphy. I have added that remark to the brief statement which I intended to make. I conclude by pointing out that to the series of incidents in which Senator Murphy has been discredited and exposed in this chamber over the last few weeks, he is tonight stooping to the lowest level of Parliamentary discredit to which the leader of a government can stoop and that is to dishonour, without notice, parliamentary pairs.
– The honourable senator who has just spoken talks about dishonour. He speaks with the voice of experience in the Senate. During the time that the senator has been in the Senate he brought the greatest discredit to himself when, in a case in Hobart, he persecuted a man, Professor Orr, into the ground. The senator was condemned by his archbishop.
– He used the confidences of the archbishop, who received the confidences in the confessional, in a court to persecute a university professor. His own brother had to come to the professor’s assistance. He would not speak to him for 17 years. This imitation of a specimen of humanity comes here and talks about honour.
– I ask you!
– You are not doing your case any good.
– I am giving you the home facts about our friend from the deep south. Honourable senators have referred to courtesy arrangements which prevail in the Senate. I believe that courtesy applies to the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech which states:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign.
They are words of courtesy. The arrogant, authoritarian and irresponsible Opposition will not allow these courtesies to be carried out. They append to this message of courtesy intolerable and objectionable amendments which make it impossible to carry out these courtesies.
Let me refer to the tactics that have been used by the Opposition. The Opposition has now brought about a situation that is absolutely intolerable and is bidding fair to making this Senate unworkable. The Australian Democratic Labor Party - a minority group, the actual leaders of the Opposition, the blackmailing splinter group, the pressure group, the de facto leaders of the Opposition - is pressurising the other Opposition groups in the Senate and is taking the business out of the hands of the Government. 1 repeat that in these circumstances that Senate will not operate. The Government has to make every effort to run its own business. The whole attitude of the Democratic Labor Party over the period since this Senate assembled in February has been one of vindictiveness, of spleen and of psychopathic hatred, not only of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) but also of the whole of the Australian Labor Party. The DLP has a guilt hang-up from its misguided attempts to take over the Australian Labor Party. Ever since then the DLP has been acting like people who have a psychopathic approach to their opponents.
– What about Senator Byrne moving the gag on an honourable senator who had yielded to him.
– That is the courtesy to which the DLP is referring. The Government is under no obligation to help the Liberal Party. We do not recognise pairs with the DLP at all; we do not recognise any other pairs. It was a DLP motion. We feel that we are not under any obligation whatever to assist the Opposition when it is being led by the Australian Democratic Labor Party on a motion introduced into the Senate for the reasons I have stated already, namely, vindictiveness and hatred. Tonight, Senator Carrick showed without a shadow of doubt the purpose behind the motion that was before us.
– Order! Senator O’Byrne, during the adjournment debate you must not refer to a debate that has taken place in the Senate that day.
– We of the Government took this motion to be a vote of no confidence in our Leader. The traditions of the Senate are that no pairs are granted in a vote on a motion of no confidence. We felt also that, the Government has to run the business of the Senate and that we will observe the traditions as long as they are observed by other honourable senators. Those arrangements that have been mentioned by Senator Murphy and which have been observed for 60 years have been broken at the instigation of the DLP. The traditional representation on Senate committees is set out clearly by Mr Odgers in ‘Australian Senate Practice’. In the case of every type of committee with which he deals, he shows that there is at least equality of numbers or a government majority.
The motion was debated until Senator Turnbull moved an amendment to rectify the position that has been taken by the Opposition. I felt that the Opposition had every opportunity then to rectify the situation, this breaking of tradition and courtesies and this departure from what has been the usual practice in the Senate. When that vote was taken and we saw that the arrogant, authoritarian and irresponsible Opposition was not prepared to observe the courtesies of the Senate I decided that pairs were off. As long as members of the DLP are leading the Opposition, all pairs are off.
– We have never had pairs with the DLP.
– That is right. Of course we would not give them pairs. We have never given pairs to members of the DLP.
– Order! 1 do not like the sound of the nightjars calling.
– As I stated before, the Government took this motion as a motion of no confidence in Senator Murphy. From the point of view of honourable senators on this side, this was as much a conscience vote as any vote we have ever taken. We saw this arrogance of the DLP, supported, aided and abetted by the Opposition. The calling off of the pairs was a drastic move to meet a drastic situation and was quite justified. As I see the situation, if the Opposition continues to carry on in the way it is carrying on now, it will destroy the Senate committee system. Also, it will put the Senate into the position in which consideration will have to be. given to whether these committees are being set up to improve and to widen the activities of the Senate, to help in the good government of this country, or whether the committee system is being used only as a subterfuge. We will have to see whether the system is being used by groups in the Senate to take revenge on a Government that they were not able to beat at the polls and which they are now trying to take it out on temporarily while they have the numbers.
I do not intend to accept the proposition that was put forward by Senator Withers. I have no apologies to make to him. I believe that, unless he is able to put up a better effort in leadership of the Opposition, he can consider his position to be in jeopardy, because he is not showing leadership. He is being led by Senator Greenwood, who is showing all the potential of going up the wall with his absolute jealousy of Senator Murphy because Senator Murphy would more than match him on every level - intellect, experience, action, energy and every other level. We have found out that, over the period of years when we were questioning Senator Greenwood about the operations of terrorists in this country, he either was grossly ignorant or was lying in what he told this Senate. Senator Murphy has been able to produce the documents and background to show that Senator Greenwood was protecting these people, which did great discredit to the office of Attorney-General and to the Senate. What is worse is that Senator Greenwood, who has had a classical education, is being led by a little toad from Queensland’
– Order! Senator O’Byrne will moderate his language.
– I will alter the description to bull frog - 90 per cent frog and 10 per cent bull.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. In the absence of the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, reference has been made to him in terms that are opprobrious, completely out of consonance with the dignity of the Senate and a disgrace to the person who made them. I ask for the withdrawal of that reference to the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party.
– The terms are unparliamentary and also I consider them to be offensive when addressed to any senator; so I ask Senator O’Byrne to withdraw them.
– I did not address them to Senator Byrne.
– I know to whom you were addressing them. I said that they were offensive to any senator to whom they were addressed and that they were unparliamentary. 1 ask you to withdraw them.
– What do I have to withdraw?
– The offensive remarks made about Senator Gair. Senator O’Byrne knows as well as I do what the remarks were, or he does not know what he is saying.
– I said ‘toad’.
– Do you withdraw it?
– I withdraw it. What has been said tonight has not done the Senate any credit. We believe that the future will decide whether this conduct is to continue in the Senate, with the arrogance of the Opposition. The only way that this matter will be resolved, of course, is the way in which a resolution was made on 2nd December. The people themselves will have to determine this impasse, and the quicker they do the better it will be for Australia.
– I think that those who have an interest in the reputation of the Senate have received tonight a very rude shock in the development that has taken place in this chamber. The contributions by Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator O’Byrne have hot done anything to add to that reputation. The functioning of this Senate is dependent on the co-operation and close working of the leaders in this place. No matter what happens in the Senate, unless the leaders can work closely together and talk to each other this Senate will not operate. In the past we saw Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson as Leader of the Government in the Senate tell the Leaders of the other parties in this House what he had in mind for the day’s proceedings and even for the week’s proceedings. I am aware that
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson bad sat down at 9 o’clock in the morning and discussed with his Whip and with the officers of this Parliament procedures for the day and then get in touch with the Leaders of the other parties in this House. The result was that we knew what was going on. I believe that the situation we are in tonight is caused by a lack of communication between the Leaders in this place.
– Did not the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) undertake to come to me and see me, and did he not fail to do so?
- Senator, I just want to make my speech. I heard you 2 days ago saying in this place that the Leaders should get together. You have been saying that as long as you have been Leader of the Government in this place. The honourable senator and I - and I do not want to talk about things outside this House - have only once or twice had an opportunity of talking together. That, I believe, is not good enough. I believe the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) believes that it is not good enough. I heard Senator Douglas McClelland talk a little while ago about the business of the Senate. The honourable senator tried to discuss what we have done today. When one looks at the notice paper one sees that the Death Penalty Abolition Bill 1973 is in committee and that the Book Bounty Bill 1973 is in committee and requires only an answer from the Minister in charge of that Bill to let it go through.
– We were not allowed to bring it on.
– The honourable senator by way of interjection says he cannot bring it on. We had a discussion today, today being Thursday, about the procedures of the Senate and how they were to function. Firstly, on a Thursday after the commencement of the sitting, and after question time, up to 3 hours discussion is spent on committee reports. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate said he would forego this in the interests of Government business. This afternoon Estimates Committee A met for 4 hours. If the Leader of the Government believed that we had to get down to do Government business, why have only one committee sitting? Why was’ it not put off until next week? Or why did not 3 committees sit today so that we could get on with business? Two Bills on the notice paper, No. 14 and No. 15. are Government Bills which have been on the notice paper since the commencement of this session. Why are not the Bills dealing with extradition shown there? T understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate wants to move an amendment to them. Is that the result of the Opposition holding up that legislation? Of course it is not.
Senator O’Byrne issued a warning to the Opposition parties about what the Government will do in future if the Opposition parties do not toe the line. Is that in the interests of the good running of this Senate? Of course it is not. I remind the honourable senator that when these committees were set up they were not just the brain child of the then Leader of the Opposition. He received the co-operation of all party leaders in this Senate in setting up those committees, and they have operated with the co-operation of all honourable senators. I would hope that they would continue to operate with the co-operation of all honourable senators, so I suggest that honourable senators should not make threats.
– It is not a threat. It is a promise.
– I regret to hear the honourable senator say that. I want to see this chamber function well, but it can not do so if threats are to be hurled from one side of the Senate to the other that pairs will not be granted. Members of this chamber travel long distances to attend sittings and often, because of commitments in their electorates and because of travel difficulties in getting here, they must seek to be paired. Senator Greenwood referred to such a case involving a Government senator. I believe that for the good conduct of this Senate, pairs must be granted, but they cannot be granted if a situation such as we have witnessed this evening occurs because no one on the Opposition side will have confidence in assurances that have been given. 1 hope we do not reach this situation again.
– We have gone past that situation.
– I hope that we have not, or that the ground can be recovered. I believe that the Leader of the Government must communicate with the Leader of the Opposition. I was appalled to hear the comments of the Leader of the Opposition about the situation which exists between himself and the Leader of the Government. This is something that has not happened in the past in this place. 1 know that Senator Murphy can co-operate because when I was Acting Leader of the then Government he used to talk to me and we co-opertaed Surely as Leader of the Government he can talk to the Leader of the Opposition.
– 1 have offered to do that and 1 have invited him to do so.
– I know that Senator Murphy has offered, but surely he needs to do more than offer because if he had done more than offer we would not have reached this situation tonight. 1, and my colleagues behind me, believe that if Bills are to be placed on the notice paper and debated there must be co-operation between all honourable senators. I know that the Leader of the Government does not regard me and Senator Gair as members of main Opposition parties who. must be consulted.
– That is not true.
– It is true. I have had more to do with your Leader than you have had.
– Yes, but he recognised your position in the Senate when no one else would recognise it.
– I am not talking about that particular matter.
– But you should remember it.
– What the honourable senator is trying to say to me is that he wants me to be a scab. I have never known him or any member of his Party to be a scab.- I am making a plea for a bit of common sense in the good conduct of this Senate. If honourable senators will show common sense I believe we will get through the business. Senator Withers made the point that there have been only 2 urgency motions during this sessional period. I recall that when the Government was in Opposition it proposed urgency motions every week. That was well and good but I can recall also that the then Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues made great advances to try to get the Democratic Labor Party senators and Independent senators on side. They did not then call them all sorts of” names when they wanted their assistance to defeat the then Government.
– And they often did get their assistance.
– They often did, as Senator Prowse states. They thought nothing of trying to bring into this Senate motions condemning Senator McKellar and Senator Scott. They tried every trick in the book to crucify those 2 Ministers when they were members of this chamber. In his contribution, Senator Douglas McClelland said that what the Opposition is trying to do is to pick off Ministers one by one. I do not suppose honourable senators opposite ever did that when they were sitting on this side of the chamber.
– You would not have survived if we had.
– I know it was different then because honourable senators opposite were in Opposition and were only carrying out the job of being in Opposition. Honourable senators opposite tried to crucify Senator Scott.
– What about Colin McKellar?
– Honourable senators opposite crucified Colin McKellar when he was a member of this chamber over a matter that was not really of any importance.
– What, the VIP aircraft issue?
– What did honourable senators opposite do about the VIP aircraft issue? They tried to crucify the Minister in this place when the Minister who was actually responsible for their use was overseas. I come back to the plea I made earlier. If the Senate is to operate as a Senate it must receive co-operation from all of the leaders, and the man responsible for giving the lead is the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I regret that this situation has developed tonight. I hope it will be corrected by the time we meet next week.
– We have just heard a fairly reasonable speech from Senator Drake-Brockman, who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party.
– Reasonable from his point of view.
– That is what 1 was about to say. I said it was reasonable because I think Senator Drake-Brockman entered into the debate in a different spirit from that of Senator Greenwood or Senator Withers. Senator Drake-Brockman did try to understand the problem as he saw it. I want to remind him that he is one of the leaders of a party which has been instrumental in antagonising supporters of the Government by seeking to amalgamate with the Australian Democratic Labor Party and to follow the DLP line as well as by co-operating with the Liberal Party of Australia in Opposition. Honourable senators opposite have decided on doing a number of things which are very offensive to the Senate and, in my view, undemocratic.
– What about your Whip’s decision about pairs?
– Listen to me for a moment and you may learn something. Let me put my first point to honourable senators opposite and let one of them answer it. The first thing that honourable senators opposite did some weeks ago when they were attacking Senator Murphy day after day during question time was decide that 3 people - the leaders of the 3 minority parties in Opposition - could without a vote by their fellow senators decide to recall the Senate. Do honourable senators opposite call that democratic? Do they expect any government or any elector to support them in such a proposition? But they went ahead and did so. Despite the pleas of Senator Murphy and honourable senators on this side of the chamber they decided to take the bit between their teeth and carried a proposal - they probably do not realise this - that gave 3 people the power to ring each other in their various States and decide whether to bring the Senate back to discuss anything they wanted it to discuss. When the Government suggested that a vote should be taken and that it would accept the proposition if the vote was supported by each of the members of those parties, honourable senators opposite rejected the suggestion, lt was undemocratic. Honourable senators opposite know that they cannot stand upon it. I am sure that the people of Australia would support us in the complaint that we have made tonight.
Since that time, of course, honourable senators opposite have pushed Senator Drake-Brockman into doing something that normally he would not do. He is ordinarily a very reasonable b’.oke. I accept what he said about his relations with Senator Murphy. We know that what he said is true. We know that when in Opposition the Australian Labor Party regularly met with the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, whom we all greatly respect, and Senator Drake-Brockman. Senator Murphy was the person who regularly met with them. On many occasions Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson gave in to us because he was a leader to be respected and an honest man. Senator Murphy is the person who initiated those discussions. A different situation is applying today. Only a day or so ago I saw Senator Murphy go up to the office of Senator Withers about a matter which had been discussed between the Ministers but he could not find Senator Withers. Senator Withers said that he had been attending a committee meeting since 9 o’clock. Quite obviously Senator Murphy’s prestige must be recognised because when he was Leader of the Opposition he did these things. He wants them done today. Tonight the Opposition is complaining about pairs. Senator Drake-Brockman and others comp ain that the Government did not give them pairs. The arrangements were not to give pairs other than to the Opposition. That was a Democratic Labor Party resolution. That is not strange. The amalgamation of the Opposition parties has produced a topsy turvy situation. All the parties are coming in behind the DLP.
– Senator Gair is the Leader of the Opposition.
– Of course. The DLP becomes the leader of the Opposition in the Senate on every issue and then its members go out and say in the public arena and in the media: ‘We have taken the initiative.’ The Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party will find that they are tailing the dog all the time. In tonight’s situation clearly no complaint can be made about the Australian Labor Party because what Senator O’Byrne did tonight had the full support of every Minister and every Labor senator. We have become sick and tired of this situation, and we mean it. I have repeated on several occasions that everybody is concerned that the relationship that used to exist between the Government and the Opposition no longer exists. The Opposition wants to dominate every committee that is set up in the Senate, and what is more-
– Do you mean that you caucused on what was to happen?
– Will you stop acting like a little pekingese and interrupting all the time? This matter has been referred to not only by me but also by other honourable senators. It is a very important matter that ought to be considered. The more reliable and responsible senators opposite, the senators with experience, ought to think about this. The situation we have today is that the Labor Government has been elected by the people. It has a mandate to carry out its program.
– You are being led by the nose by your Whip.
– You are silly, Senator. I have already told you-
– 1 rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I distinctly heard the honourable senator call me silly and T object to that. I ask him to withdraw it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I think that the honourable senator is under a misapprehension. I think that what he heard the Minister say was: ‘Do not be silly’. Senator Jessop, several times I have asked you to refrain from interjecting.
– What I said before, which caused the interjection, was that every Labor member and every Minister supported what Senator O’Byrne had done. We had discussed it. Everybody on this side of the Parliament is sick and tired of arrangements being made between 3 people in the Senate who then get up and complain because the Government wants to run the Senate. The Government of the day has a mandate from the people. Government members are charged with putting forward its programs. We find that we are frustrated, particularly on days such as yesterday when the proceedings are being broadcast. Any government with guts would raise objections and would do what this Government did tonight. Senator Greenwood and others complained about the pairs. In the past we have never agreed to give pairs to the parties referred to. The pairs are between the Opposition and the Government. Senator Murphy has told the Senate, and Senator Drake-Brockman has confirmed it, that those relations existed when we were in Opposition. We want to know why honourable senators opposite do not do the same thing today.
Let us look at the motions proposed by Senator Gair and other people. They always want to dominate the committees. The proportions proposed are 4 to 3. The Government is to be expected to investigate and inquire into many important things when it is in the minority by 4 to 3. In addition, of course, the Government is expected to provide all the services, the cost of running the committees and the cost of providing experts. We will do this. Surely nobody who has any sense - no ordinary elector - would accept that position. Nobody in a democratic society would accept the position. No government, even one which has fewer numbers in one House, can be expected to put up with a similar situation.
If the confrontation is not to be tonight, it will be next week or the week after. We will not put up with it. As Senator Drake-Brockman has said, running the business needs some cooperation. It needs a review by people who are not used to it. Let me put this to honourable senators opposite: The cold situation is that the Opposition is not yet used to being in opposition. It is used to being in government. Some senators opposite have been very arrogant, as everybody knows. What did they do? Apart from the issue of the Croats-
– If it was not for the
– Senator Jessop, why don’t you shut up; why don’t you be quiet? You can speak later if you wish, but don’t keep on interrupting me all the time like a poodle dog. I think that what I am putting forward is just as reasonable as the proposition which was put by Senator Drake-Brockman. I think he is culpable because he has accepted these arrangements which we cannot put up with. There has to be a return to sanity in the Senate if any sort of parliamentary system is to operate. There has to be co-operation. No government will put up with the sort of things which we have had to put up with since we came to office, in particular, the matters relating to Senator Murphy. Despite what honourable senators opposite have said about him, he has been under great strain in the Senate since we came to office. We know that he has been subjected daily, not for an hour but for several hours, to bullying and arrogance from senators asking him questions. He has not had a chance to raise or to deal with major matters or to co-operate with the leaders. He has not had the co-operation to which he is entitled.
There is a tension in this place which should not be here. It should be resolved quickly. It calls for a lot of intelligence, but in the first place it calls for the acceptance of a major principle, that is, that we are the Government and we will be the Government as long as we retain office. If honourable senators opposite keep issuing challenges and keep on establishing undemocratic committees, the Government will take them on. We hope that that time will not be too far away. Of course we will take them on. We believe that the people will back us because no parliamentary system can put up with the sort of situation which has developed in the Senate. I hope that the more responsible senators opposite will think about that situation.
– This evening I have seen happen in the Senate chamber something which I never thought or hoped I would see, that is, the breaking of an agreement which has been a traditional institution of the Parliament. It is something that I will long remember. I hope that Government members will long regret the action which they took tonight. Going through life one faces many disappointments. This is one disappointment which I did not expect to face. I have been Whip for nearly 2 years, first in government and then in opposition. During that time I have on all occasions stood by my arrangements and agreements with my counterpart in the Australian Labor Party. Mutual trust and respect underlined everything we did and every arrangement which we made. One of the present Government senators was sick when I was Government Whip and on that occasion I went to Senator O’Byrne and said: ‘Your senator will have a pair all the time that he is sick. I have respect for him. This will be the understanding.’
When we became the Opposition one of the first things 1 did was to go again to Senator O’Byrne, who was the Government Whip, and offer him exactly the same arrangement, and that arrangement has stood. Tonight we saw that honourable senator come into the chamber. I am going to say now that the honourable senator did not walk into the chamber voluntarily because I have too much respect for him to say that. He was driven into this Senate tonight, without a doubt. Let him speak for himself if he denies it. I have so much respect for this man that I am certain he would not have done this on his own. Much has been said by Senator O’Byrne and Senator Bishop tonight about the fact that pairs will not be on when anything is associated with the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– They never have been.
– We have just heard another interjection from another honourable senator on the Government side of the Senate. Let us put this matter on a proper basis,. I do not intend to get stirred up. Already there has been too much emotion tonight. 1 want to put my case fairly and factually. We have had a pair arrangement since we became the Opposition, with 3 parties on this side of the chamber. Arrangements for pairs have always stuck. We have stood at all times by our arrangements at a Whips level and at a Party level. If, as Senator O’Byrne and Senator Bishop said tonight, no pairs were on when any motion came from the DLP, why did the Government stand by its pair arrangement when the DLP moved an urgency motion in this place? On that occasion the Government stood by its pairs. Why then was there a sudden change of attitude tonight?
– And on the Turnbull amendment.
– As Senator Marriott has reminded me, the Government also stood by its pairs tonight with Senator Turnbull’s amendment. One of the things that disappoints me most is the fact that, as I said earlier, I have worked on a basis of understanding, co-operation and trust with my counterpart, Senator Justin O’Byrne. Yet he said tonight in clear terms that he decided that there would be no pairs. I would not have objected if he had let me know that this was what he had decided. But I do not regard it as playing the game when I crossed the chamber after division was called for, got to the other side ready to take my seat and, as Whips do, counted and checked off the numbers and then was informed at that late stage that pairs were off. As I have said, we have had a standing arrangement with one of the Government senators. I have so much respect for this man and so appreciate his physical position that I will still give him a pair because I will not be responsible as Opposition Whip for seeing that this man is placed in perhaps an embarrassing situation. If Sena tor O’Byrne does not want to keep this arrangement then that is up to him. I have respect for my fellow man.
However, I am beginning to wonder just how long ago today Senator O’Byrne decided that there would be no pairs. An arrangement was made tonight that 3 pairs would be given and this arrangement was broken. One pair was arranged with a sick senator. 1 gave another pair to the Government because one of its senators was to be absent from this chamber for the whole of this week. That senator, arrived back in Canberra this morning. We informed that Government senator that one of our senators, not knowing that he would be coming back and thinking that he was off for the week, was paired and had gone home.
– Do not forget the time you forced us to bring Jim Arnold here on a stretcher. Do not forget that.
– I did not, Senator Poke. I have made my position clear. This morning the Government was aware of the fact that one of our senators was away from Canberra. Late this afternoon, in fact at 4.45 p.m., another of our senators was desirous of going home for domestic reasons and I told him that he would not be given a pair. Then I was informed that the Government was only too happy to give him a pair - at 4.45 p.m. Then I allowed him to go home. I wonder what time today Senator Justin O’Byrne decided that pairs would be off? That is not a nice question to have in the back of one’s mind after having worked closely with somebody for nearly 2 years. We have stood by each other and have been honest with each other all the way through.
Taking the matter further in order further to clarify the situation to the Senate, after dinner tonight I called Senator O’Byrne, the Government Whip, out of the Senate chamber and I discussed pairs with him on a name basis. That would have been at approximately 9 p.m. We went outside the doors of the chamber where we normally go to discuss our arrangements. Senator O’Byrne did not say a word then and he agreed that they were the pairs. Yet about li hours later when we had crossed the floor of this chamber I suddenly was informed that pairs were off.
Even when I grant pairs for Government senators, as I have done - if honourable senators doubt my word they should ask honourable senators on this side of the chamber - on most occasions our senators are still in this Parliament because I do not allow them to go home. I keep them in Canberra unless they have a good reason to leave, even if they are paired to allow one of the Government supporters to leave this building. I keep Opposition senators here. Senator O’Byrne knew that one Opposition senator had left because he was informed about it this morning but even if he thought that the other senator was still in Canberra there would not have been time for me to get him into this chamber. That illustrates the timing of the exercise.
All I can say is that I am terribly disappointed. I thought that we had a better feeling of trust between us. If Senator O’Byrne had wanted to call off his pairs I think he could have done the right thing by me and informed me. I challenge any honourable senator on the Government side to say that I have let him down in any way at all on any occasion. I have done my best to give complete co-operation to honourable senators on the Government side. I gave complete cooperation when I was on the Government side in assisting the Opposition party in that respect if I could. I have done my best. I am sorry that tonight somebody in the Opposition has not done so. Senator O’Byrne has declared himself and to me he has done his worst.
– The problem that the Senate is faced with has been clearly evident for a considerable period of this session. Tension has been building up ever since the Parliament reassembled in February and its became very obvious that something had to happen to resolve the impossible position in which the combined vote of the Opposition was placing the Government. It is a matter of regret that we have reached this stage but I think it was an inevitable development. It seems that a power struggle is going on within the ranks of not only the Liberal Party but the Opposition parties generally. It is a matter of great regret that the men I see on the Opposition side of the chamber, men I know to be reasonable, men with whom the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and other Ministers were able to work in cooperation in past years, have remained silent and have allowed themselves to be the willing tools of a group that has set out to thwart the Government and to embarrass the Attorney-General. They are the ones who are guilty of the breakdown of parliamentary democracy. Every effort that has been made by the Government to establish its legislative program has been thwarted in the 7 sitting weeks since the Parliament resumed this year. Every Wednesday we have been subjected to motions which took away the right of the Government to place its business before the Senate. The consequence of this action is that we are considerably behind in our legislative program. There seems to be no end to it. There seems to be no end to this disruption of the work of the Senate and the disruption of the program of the Government.
Now we are faced with a position where the Democratic Labor Party has, in recent weeks, submitted motions to set up committees contrary to the established procedures of the Senate. It has made no arrangements with the Leader of the Government in the Senate or for that matter with any other member of the Government. In those circumstances we are not obliged to take any steps to cooperate with Democratic Labor Party senators. They have sought on every occasion to be part of a campaign of vilification against the Attorney-General, who has been subjected to a grilling and an experience that I think has been unheard of in Australian politics. Certainly in my lifetime no man has been vilified as much as Senator Murphy, not only within the Parliament but also by certain sections of the Press which have set out in devious and unscrupulous ways to undermine public confidence in the Government and in the Attorney-General. It is common knowledge that one newspaper proprietor set out to further a campain to undermine the confidence of the Parliament and the Government in the Attorney-General.
Of course, the Democratic Labor Party has played no small part in this campaign. Its attempt to establish a. committee of inquiry was clearly designed for that committee to present a report, the contents of which would have been a foregone conclusion. On the occasion several weeks ago on which the Democratic Labor Party sought to deal with Wilfred Burchett, it sought to create the same sort of court of inquiry as it did on the occasion in question. It had no arrangements with the Government. Are we to take it. therefore, that we have some obligation in respect of pairs with the Liberal Party senators, who are the only senators who made any sort of arrangements in respect of absentee members of the Senate? Are we to take it that Liberal Party senators will vote en bloc? Is that what Senator Withers, Senator Greenwood, Senator Wright and Senator Young are putting to the Senate and to the Australian people, that the 3 votes that Senator Young claims were denied tonight were votes automatically to be cast in support of the motion submitted by the Democratic Labor Party? Is that what parliamentary democracy is about, that those votes would have automatically been for the adoption of the motion? Is that the sort of way in which the affairs of the Senate are to be conducted, that senators are not to speak for themselves but are in fact to be spoken for by Senator Young, the Whip of the Liberal Party? The Government had no arrangements with the Democratic Labor Party for pairs and it was a motion of the Democratic Labor Party which was before the Senate on this occasion.
Mr President, in this power struggle and this build-up of tension which has been clearly evident to the Government senators, you have been subjected by Senator Greenwood, Senator Wright and more latterly by Senator Young, to some part of a policy of intimidation. It has been obvious to the members of the Senate that those senators have been endeavouring to suggest that you should not occupy an impartial position as the President of this Senate. It is to your credit that you have not lent yourself to this campaign to deny justice, rights and equality of opportunity to every member of the Senate.
We had the situation yesterday where Senator Byrne attempted to gag a debate, despite the fact that he had made an arrangement with a Government senator who had received the call. He sought to deny the Government senator the right to speak on a procedural matter. As you well know, Mr President, the same situation arose today when I received the call. Senator Kane was not in the chamber and Senator Byrne spoke in order to allow time for Senator Kane to come into the chamber and speak. What happened? The moment that Senator Kane came into the chamber he moved the gag and denied me the opportunity to speak on this important question involving the integrity of the Attorney-
General and of the Government. Is this the sort of behaviour which those reasonable members of the Liberal Party condone?
I do not think that I would be speaking out of turn if I said that I remember occasions in the past when certain members of my own Party have criticised Senator Murphy for the co-operation that he sought from and gave to both Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Drake-Brockman when they were leading the previous Government in this place. Senator Murphy had to defend himself on what he considered to be the way in which the leaders of the parties in this place should conduct themselves. That sort of conduct and behaviour has not been extended to Senator Murphy in any form of reciprocation in the life of this Parliament. In point of fact, from the moment that this Parliament assembled, Senator Murphy has been subjected to vilification, criticism and pressure of a sort which we have not seen for many years.
We have seen an abuse of power. I think that it is to the detriment of the reasonable men who sit opposite that they have not stood out and tried to curb the abuse of power from the Opposition benches. Of course Senator Drake-Brockman spoke in a reasonable way, but where has his voice been in the party room? If he genuinely holds those sentiments, surely the tension that we have seen in this place would not have reached the point of crisis that it did this evening. I can recall honourable senators opposite making very favourable comments about the leadership of Senator Murphy. In the last few weeks of the last Parliament I can recall Senator Hannan saying that Senator Murphy was a gentle and kind person. We on the Government side have not found any change in Senator Murphy’s attitude. The Government has not endeavoured to abuse its power.
If there has been a breakdown in communications and relationships between honourable senators, we are entitled to ask where that breakdown has taken place. Several weeks ago we had the spectacle of Senator Marriott criticising Senator Murphy over the failure to complete - the Address-in-Reply debate. Senator Murphy indicated to the Senate that it was not in his power to complete the Address-in-Reply debate because the business of the Senate had been taken out of the hands of the Government. Now, 3 sitting weeks later, we still have not completed the
Address-in-Reply debate because of the tactics of that extremist element in the Opposition which has sought at every opportunity to embarrass the Government and the AttorneyGeneral.
This afternoon, Estimates Committee A met in the Senate chamber to consider the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department. Honourable senators would need to have been present at that meeting to believe the disgraceful conduct of Senator Greenwood and Senator Wright and to see how they wasted the time of that Committee
– Prostituting the Senate.
– . . . denying any form of proper relationships. That hearing was turned into-
– 1 take a point of order. The interjection from Senator O’Byrne was completely unparliamentary and obnoxious to those who heard it. I demand its withdrawal.
– No. All interjections are disorderly. Senator O’Bryne knows that as well as I do. Go on, Senator Gietzelt. There are no grounds for a point of order.
– lt was clear to all my colleagues who heard about the disgraceful behaviour of Senator Greenwood that he was attempting to turn that Committee hearing which was examining the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department into a witch hunt. I suggest to honourable senators who have any doubts about what I am saying that they should examine the Hansard report to see the behaviour pattern this afternoon of Senator Greenwood and Senator Wright.
The question is: How much can the Government take and how much can Senator Murphy take? What did we hear this evening? Senator Negus, quite spontaneously, rose to appeal to the Senate - to the Opposition - to be reasonable and to recognise the immensity of the task that the Attorney-General has to perform. His appeal was denied. So, on the adjournment debate this evening, Senator Withers has attempted to suggest that the total blame for the present situation rests on the Government. Of course, he was aided and abetted by his willing colleague, Senator Greenwood. Let me state from the rooftops that the Government here and in the other place is .100 per cent behind Senator Murphy.
We are 100 per cent behind the actions that Senator O’Byrne took this evening. We are at the end of our patience with respect to the childish and outlandish behaviour of people like Senator Greenwood. He has not yet tumbled to the fact that he no longer occupies one of the power bastions in Canberra and in this chamber, that there has been a change of Government and that the Australian people have voted out his Party and have given the Australian Labor Party a mandate to carry out the program that it announced in the course of the last election campaign.
I know that there are senators on the other side who believe that a number of Opposition senators have not as yet come to appreciate the fact that a change in the power structure of the Australian Parliament has occurred. It is about time that some of these people exerted some influence in their Party room to see that the norms that did exist in the Senate prior to the election of 2 December are reestablished on a decent basis. We are prepared to work in the pursuance of relationships among the parties here. We are not prepared, however, to be subjected to the whims of a small minority Party, members of which we had the courage to throw out of our movement 17 years ago.
– I doubt whether the honourable senator was even in it then.
– Senator Little should bring his history up to date. He disrupted the Labor Party then and it is to his eternal discredit that he is disrupting the affairs of the Senate now. He should be working in cooperation with this Government because the Government was given an outstanding mandate on 2nd December 1972.
– I would not call it outstanding.
– It was an outstanding mandate. If honourable senators opposite want to continue on in this way there will be no recourse left to the Government other than to have a double dissolution. I heard members of the Democratic Labor Party on the eve of the last general election say that should the Labor Party win government they would be prepared to co-operate to fulfil the Labor Government’s program providing that it was as outlined in its policy speech. There has been no co-operation from the Democratic Labor
Party. It has done everything possible, everything within its means, to bring about an arrangement in this place that thwarts the Government at every point.
If there is any lesson to be learned at all from the events of this evening it is that men of goodwill on the other side of the chamber have to start asserting themselves to ensure that there are normal relationships of the type which were evident in this place under the previous Government, the type which enabled the Opposition over the last two or three years that I have been a Senator here to defeat the Government from time to time but at the same time enabled the Government of the day to carry forward its legislative program. At the end of each sessional period it was often necessary for 1, 2 or 3 extra sitting days to be devoted to the conclusion of the Government’s legislative program. Apparently that is not to be the case on this occasion because there are about 70 Bills to be passed in this place and about 13 of those Bills are currently on the notice paper.
On every occasion that the Government seeks to advance its legislative program it is confronted with attempts by the Democratic Labor Party, unfortunately encouraged by some extremists in the Liberal Party, to thwart the business of the Government. If it is feasible for us to recognise that the Government has certain rights in this chamber without seeking to take away the rights of the Opposition to reject or amend legislation, the sort of tension build up that has been evident in this place in recent weeks can quickly disappear. However, if there is to be a continuation of the tactics we have seen here in recent weeks it will be to the detriment of this chamber.
– I call Senator Cavanagh.
– in reply - In closing this debate-
– I want to speak.
– It is the debate on the adjournment.
– I want to speak, too. I sought the. call and I do not want the debate to be closed.
– I saw Senator Cavanagh first and called him. It depends on Senator Cavanagh whether you may speak now. If he does not want to resume his seat he is entitled to continue.
– But for my experience yesterday I would-
– Mr President, I want my rights as a senator.
– Senator Cavanagh may speak if he wishes. I called Senator Cavanagh because I saw him first but if Senator Cavanagh is willing to yield to another honourable sentor I have no objection.
– Surely I could not do so after my experience yesterday. One does not get caught twice. Yesterday an Opposition senator, at the conclusion of his speech, moved that the question be put. Let me say in closing the debate that there will be no pairs in the vote on this question. I understand that they are all wiped. I think it is unfortunate that what happened this evening happened but it had to happen. It is a very serious matter when pairs are simply wiped off without any explanation between the parties.
In considering this matter the first thing we must examine is what pairs are. They are not provided for in the machinery of the Senate. They are an arrangement between parties to ensure that if a vote is taken a Party will not lose its majority because one of its members is not here. So the Government makes arrangements with the Opposition for pairs. Senator O’Byrne discussed the matter with Senator Young and an arrangement for pairs was made. The independent senators and the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party are never paired because they are not part of the official Opposition. Therefore there is no responsibility on the Government in relation to pairs when the Senate is considering a question raised by the Democratic Labor Party. When there is a conscience vote in the Senate, all pairs are off. If I were to introduce a private member’s Bill there would be no responsibility to support me by arranging pairs because pairs are arranged on the basis that neither the Government Party nor the official Opposition parties lose their numbers. But this arrangement cannot apply in relation to extraneous matters which may be introduced by another section of the Senate. It is obvious from the interjections coming from Opposition senators that it was not necessary to yield to them because they are determined to have their say despite the fact that they do not have the call. The most serious thing about what happened today is that due to a series of events we reached the stage at which something had to be done by the Government. This brings up the question whether it is possible for the Government to continue to govern without having the numbers in both Houses of the Parliament. The previous occasion on which this happened was during the Menzies Administration in 1951 when it was necessary to go to the people not because the Senate rejected any of his legislation but because the Senate was frustrating the Government and frustrating the passage of legislation that came before it. The reference of a Bill to a committee was sufficient reason for the Governor-General to find that he had power to grant a double dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament. On that occasion the verdict of the people was that they would not tolerate this frustration. The Government has to assess its position, namely, whether it can continue when it does not have a majority in the second House of this Parliament. This brings us to the serious question whether there should be a double dissolution. I do not think the Opposition wants a double dissolution; 1 do not think we want a double dissolution. It is inevitable. It has to come. The sooner it comes after the Government has received the mandate of the people the more favourably it will be accepted by the people when it goes to them.
By not having a majority in this chamber we create this position: If the Government cannot operate with a hostile upper House, we destroy the only basis on which we have justification for having a 2 House Parliament, namely, that the upper House is a House of review and that it is a House representing the States. That is the basis on which we can justify ourselves. As soon as we destroy that and say that this House has to be of the same political complexion as the other place, we lose our justification to continue the operation of this chamber. It then becomes only the most expensive rubber stamp operation in the country. Honourable senators opposite are doing a disservice to the Senate.
There has been - and no one can say otherwise - an attempt to frustrate the will of the electors and the elected Government. No one can deny that attacks have been made against the individual. The Opposition, unused to being in Opposition, has reached the position that it cannot, while retaining any public support, oppose legislation that is brought down by this Government, and many members of the Opposition have congratulated the Government on its legislation. So their opposition is an opposition of attacks on individuals. As I said yesterday when Senator Withers said that we complained of a witch hunt: ‘Who started it?’ He admitted that there was a witch hunt. Honourable senators have heard the accusations made tonight. Senator Carrick said yesterday that this was an attack upon Murphy, that the purpose of the committee was to get Murphy. What is not generally known is that 3 witnesses in the gallery tonight, when the first division was called, saw Senator Webster turn around to an honourable member from the other place, who had just spent 2 hours asleep in the gallery in this place and say: ‘We have got Murphy this time.’ And the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) said: ‘Good on you.1*
Why is there this desire to get Murphy? lt is because Murphy is the most effective opponent to the views held by the Opposition? While honourable senators opposite talk about a socialist Labor Party and what it will do, Murphy will destroy their whole rotten, exploiting system unless they destroy him. The Democratic Labor Party, the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party of Australia have combined for the destruction of this man who is effective as a Leader of the Government in the Senate. The cry is: ‘Murphy has to go’. And Webster, with glee, says: ‘We have got Murphy this time’. Murphy, on his own efforts, when he was in Opposition had standing committees established to cover every point of disputation that may need to be examined. He had standing committees to cover everything. But the position is that on standing committees the Government has an effective majority. So now nothing goes to standing committees. But every Wednesday a proposition is put up seeking to appoint a select committee which will have an Opposition majority on it so that the decisions of the committee will be the decisions the Opposition wants. This is not an inquiry. This is just witch hunting, persecuting and trying to get support for the aim to destroy an effective opponent.
The Press persists in claiming that there is a rift in the Labor Party and that Murphy is on the hook in Cabinet meetings. Murphy has more support in the Labor Party today than he did on the day he fought for his position in the Cabinet. Murphy has more support in the Cabinet today and there is not a voice against the effective Senator Murphy. Everyone admires his capabilities. One can envisage the culmination of these events. There must come a breaking point somewhere. It came with the election of the Labor Party to office. Senator Byrne yesterday - this is the reason I would not yield tonight - did one of the most filthy things that we have ever seen in politicallife - more filthy than anything we did tonight. (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– Perhaps I can amend that and say that it was more filthy than anything we have been accused of doing tonight. It is out of character with Senator Bryne. Everyone knows it is out of character with Senator Byrne. The pressures are on. Senator Wright has lost the whole of his effectiveness. At the present time he is just a vindictive, wild, rambling man, incapable of making a decent contribution in the Senate. We know it is out of character with and not within the capabilities of Senator Byrne. Senator Greenwood went haywire when he was under pressure trying to persecute national servicemen in Australia. Senator Greenwood has never got over it. He is determined to destroy the forces which removed him from that great power of grandeur which he had when he could put 20-year-old kids behind prison bars. He wants to get it back. We have hatred breeding in this place. We are destroying the bi-cameral parliamentary system in Australia. The situation must come to a showdown. We have reached the position now where we say there will be no more co-operation. I did not know that there had been any co-operation since 2 December. There has been a lot of talk about it. During that time the Senate has had before it only 2 urgency motions. The Opposition has proceeded by way of motions, after giving notice. In urgency debates the time is limited. Debates on motions can continue all day.
On Wednesdays Senator Gair has to have his motions broadcast to Queensland to suggest to the people of Queensland that he is the only honourable senator in the chamber. This goes on Wednesday after Wednesday. Urgency motions do not permit the small group, this discredited Australian Democratic Labor Party, to make a last fluttering attempt to win the support of the electors by repeated appeals over the radio.
Would we have been a responsible party if we had allowed this motion to go through? We had the method of stopping it. This motion was moved to persecute and destroy one of the best Attorneys-General this country has seen for a long time. While the action which was taken was regrettable, it had to be taken. It was essential that it be taken. If honourable senators opposite want to carry on the fight they will have to answer to the electors in the near future. If they want to preserve the status and conditions of this chamber it is up to them to give the cooperation which Senator Drake-Brockman said was possible. I do not think it is possible while there is leadership by the DLP of what would otherwise be a responsible Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.48 a.m. (Friday)
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Division of the Attorney-General’s Department, of an Environmental and Administrative Law Branch. This Branch will be concerned with the development of environmental law as well as general administrative law matters. It will be headed by a Senior Assistant Secretary. The environmental section within this Branch will comprise one Principal Legal Officer and one Senior Legal Officer. Steps are being taken to fill these positions at an early date.
Before the formal establishment of this Branch, arrangements had been made - and these arrangements are continuing - for certain officers of the Adjvisings Division to assume special responsibilities concerning legal matters relating to the environment. As part of the arrangements, 2 officers, while on other duties overseas, have had a series of consultations aimed at providing a guide to action that the Australian Government might take to protect the environment through the law.
One officer was a member of the Australian delegation to the recent Plenipotentiary Conference in Washington which drew up the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. That officer subsequently had discussions in Washington with senior United States officials and others concerning water and air pollution laws, the functions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the operation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Another officer was a member of the Australian delegation to the IMCO Preparatory Meeting in London for the 1973 Conference on Marine Pollution. He subsequently had discussions with officers of the Environmental Law Centre in Bonn (an organ of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and attended an IBM Conference on Computers and the Environment at Bad Liebenzell, Germany.
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
My authority as Minister for Customs and Excise is limited to controls which might be applied in the imports and exports in accordance with the powers vested in me by various provisions of the Customs Act. I have no power to implement any controls in relation to the harvesting of kangaroos.
As I have stated on a number of previous occasions, there has been a ban on the export of kangaroo skins and the skins of certain other species, without the consent of the Minister, since November 1923. The basic policy of the law has not been enforced, as consent has been given to export by various Ministers of preceding Governments.
Earlier this year I announced that as from 1 April I would not consent to the export of any more skins. A new regulation brought products under the same controls. I decline to consent to the export of the products of such skins unless satisfied that it is in the interests of wise conservation of the species.
The general question of kangaroo conservation was discussed at the meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers on 9 March 1973. The meeting agreed as follows:
The meeting is opposed to uncontrolled harvesting of kangaroos and related species (Macropods)
Recognises that for conservation purposes selective culling or harvesting of certain species of macropods may be a legitimate management practice.
Agreed that a scientifically acceptable range of data gathering and control measures be drawn up to regulate culling or harvesting throughout Australia in the interests of conservation of the species and the general environment.’
A working party was established to report on techniques of data gathering, management and conservation of kangaroos and related species throughout Australia. When this report is received and adequate measures for the protection and management of kangaroo populations implemented, the ban on the export of kangaroo products will be reviewed.
I must emphasise again that my concern is to ensure conservation of Australia’s unique wildlife. However, pending the review to which I have referred, I would hope that the positive steps I may have taken to achieve this objective in relation to the kangaroo, will not be used as an excuse for the indiscriminate poisoning of kangaroo populations.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer:
Canberra in 1971-72 is not readily available but some indication can be gained from the rounded costs available for the years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71 which were $519,000, $637,000 and $903,000, respectively (see answer to parts (5) and (7) of Question No. 4711 referred to in the answer to (.1) above).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(a) Case one cannot be identified without further details such as the patient’s name and name of the nursing home concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Did the Minister claim, in Adelaide on 16 February 1973, that the Department of Social Security had evidence that daily admissions to nursing homes are about the same this year as before the Commonwealth introduced the requirement that before a patient may be admitted the approval of a Government Medical Officer must be given; if so
how many doctors in private medical practice are complying with the requirement to complete form NHS prior to the admission of patients;
how many patients have been admitted to nursing homes so far this year on recommendations appearing only on the professional notepaper of the patient’s private doctor; and
how many NH5 forms are completed each week by Departmental medical officers at the request of matrons, patients or their relatives in cases where private doctors decline to complete the forms.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is true that 1 stated in Adelaide on 16 February 1973 that figures available to my Department indicate admissions to nursing homes under the new arrangements introduced with effect from 1 January 1973 were about the same as last year. The answers to the 3 specific questions you raised are as follows:
The number of individual private medical practitioners complying with the requirements of the National Health Act regarding the approval of the Commonwealth prior to the admission of a patient to a nursing home is not readily ascertainable. However, the number of applications submitted to my Department in the authorised manner would appear to indicate that a considerable proportion of medical practitioners are complying with the new admissions procedures.
To minimise inconvenience to patients my Department is accepting applications on a private medical practitioner’s notepaper, provided such applications are accompanied by an official application form NH5 and contain sufficient clinical detail to enable the patients eligibility for Commonwealth nursing home benefit to be assessed. Where clinical details have not been provided the Commonwealth Medical Officers contact the attending medical practitioner by telephone and generally the required information has been readily provided. The numbers of recommendations submitted on medical practitioners private notepaper to my Department from 5 February to 2 May 1973 are as follows:
The total admissions for the same period, 5th February to 2 May are:
Finally, the honourable senator should bear in mind that procedures associated with the NHS form were legislated for by the previous Government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 15 March 1973, Senator Negus asked me a series of questions about fire precautions in the A.C.T. and asked whether consideration would be given Courts of the situation immediately to ensure that the Brisbane horror is not repeated to advising and enlightening all State Licensing anywhere in Australia. The Minister for the Capita] Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
Questions of public safety must over-ride convenience. In the A.C.T. occupancy of a new or adapted commercial building is not permitted unless the building meets the requirements of the A.C.T. Building Manual in relation to structural standards and fire safety, and complies satisfactorily with the requirements of the A.C.T. Fire Service as to appliances, alarms, etc.
Random inspections are carried out by Fire Prevention Officers to ensure that fire hazardous situations do not develop in buildings of public resort.
Conferences attended by representees of the States’ and Territories’ Licensing Authorities are held annually. These conferences provide a valuable means for exchange of views and information on mutual problems and ensure that matters such as those raised in the honourable senator’s question are examined. The conferences are supplemented by informal contacts as required. It is considered preferable for the Brisbane tragedy to be discussed and the lessons learned from it to be brought to attention in that forum.
– On 1 May, Senator Townley asked the following question, without notice:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the confusion which occurred at Hobart Airport during the Easter holiday break due to the poor facilities at the Hobart terminal? Will he say when some action will be taken to update this terminal so that the increasing number of travellers to Tasmania can have more room and a little more comfort in a modern terminal?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Plans are in hand to considerably expand the domestic terminal and its facilities at Hobart. Subject to annual budgetary considerations this work could be completed within about 3 years.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
In what year is it expected that pensioners will be given a pension which equals 25 per cent of the average weekly earnings in Australia.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The ‘honourable senator’s attention is drawn to the second reading speech on the Social Services Bill 1973 wherein the Minister said:
We are mindful that, if there is not some abatement in the rate of growth in average weekly earnings in 1970-71 of 11.3 per cent, then the regular annual 2 promised increases of $1.50 will have to be increased to achieve pension rates at 25 per cent of average weekly earnings within a reasonable time. Of course, we would be prepared to respond appropriately if such proves the case. We aim at honouring our promises. However, there is evidence of an abatement in this rate of average weekly earnings increase both for last year and on current trends and accordingly at this stage we are maintaining a careful watch on the situation.’ Seen Hansard 28 February 1973, page 47.
– Yesterday, Senator
Drake-Brockman asked me a question, without notice, relating to the export of livestock for slaughter. 1 have some additional information that I am now able to pass on.
As 1 indicated, I have rejected an application from a firm known as Livestock Corporation of Australia Pty Ltd which was seeking to export cattle and sheep to Iran. This application has been refused because of a report I have received from the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board. He has indicated that the Board is greatly concerned at reports being received from many sources that large exports of slaughter cattle are being planned. This would have a significant effect on the activities of Australian export meatworks. Accordingly I have directed my Department that approvals for export of livestock for slaughter purposes should be confined to normal shippers and normal destinations until the Meat Board has been able to make an assessment of the situation. The Board will also be recommending a firm basis for dealing with future applications.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General provide a break-down of the expenditures which have been incurred on the Black Mountain tower project in Canberra, and indicate when and how they were incurred.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Concerning costs already incurred in connection with the Black Mountain Telecommunications tower project, the following information is tendered:
Additionally, following the approval in 1969 by the National Capital Development Commission for the erection of a radio telephony tower on Black Mountain, a duct and coaxial cable installation was provided to the summit of Black Mountain at a total cost of $200,000. The purpose of this route was to convey radio telephony circuits from the summit of Black Mountain to trunk centres at Civic and Deakin.
This route would service the proposed telecommunications tower. However, if radio telephony were provided at a location other than Black Mountain it would be many years before the ducts and cables in question could be used for other purposes and there would be a significant financial loss that would have to be added to the expenditure quoted above.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730510_senate_28_s56/>.