28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 9.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– ‘Honourable senators will notice that the Senate Chamber is strewn with wires and that there are photographers present. I would like honourable senators, if they concur, to remain in their places for a moment while some panoramic photographs are taken, for historical reasons, of the Senate in session.
– Honourable senator* will recall last night that, at 8 minutes past 9, there was some confusion in the Senate on a procedural matter for which I accept a substantial amount’ of blame. However, in the cold light of the early morning I have given a great deal of thought to this matter and it appears to me that there is a possible weakness in standing order 407b. As we are involved in a guillotine process in the Senate I propose to leave the chair and ask one of the Temporary Chairmen to manage the business of the Senate while I have a conference with the Clerks to see whether, in fact, circumstances of weakness which I feel may exist in standing order 407 b do exist. This may obviate any further dissension in the context of this standing order. I ask Senator Wilkinson to take the chair.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the question which I asked on Tuesday concerning the allocation of housing to Ministers in Canberra. I further ask: Does the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories, Mr Morrison, own a house in Canberra? Has the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories been allocated a government flat in Canberra? ]f the answer to both questions is yes, on what basis is a government flat allocated to a Minister who already has a private home in Canberra?
– I do not know the answer to either of those questions. I know nothing at all about the matter but I will have it referred to the Minister who deals with these things. I must remind the Senate that a system was instituted under the previous administration for the allocation of flats to Ministers. It operated for a long time. I understand that arrangements were made also for the disposition of land and homes to Ministers on what was considered, until a few months before the administration changed, to be an appropriate basis. The latter system has not been followed by this administration. There may be some changeover in a Minister’s plans and what he is doing to arrange his affairs. But there is a system for dealing with these matters and it will be looked into. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting that there is some departure from the appropriate system. The Government is handling these things according to an appropriate system which is a lot tighter, as I understand it, than that which operated for many years under the previous administration. I understand that a number of Ministers and even persons who were not Ministers in the previous Government hold premises which they acquired because of the system which the previous Government operated.
It might be a lot better if we went through the whole of the allocations. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition would like information about allocations not only to a specific person but also to others, including members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, to show just what has happened and whether there is any unfairness or whether there is any departure from the system. This will be done. I think it is most undesirable to ask a question about a particular Minister - especially when he is not a member of this House - which contains some kind of implication that there is something wrong in what is being done in relation to him. I will see that the question is referred to the appropriate Minister. Let the details of the system be brought out but let there be no suggestion left here, as the Senate is about to rise, that there is something wrong with what is being done in the operation of a system which is not operated by the particular Minister. He is not in charge of the allocation of flats. In view of the circumstances, the matter will be looked at.
– Mr Acting Deputy President
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to ask a supplementary question?
– No, I wish merely to draw the attention of the Senate to question No. 345 standing in my name on today’s notice paper. It relates to this subject.
– I wish to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning the 2 questions asked of him by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, about the housing of Ministers. Is the Leader of the Government aware that it was the policy of the previous Government to make accommodation available to all Ministers? Does he know that all new Ministers are offered rented premises on the basis of the policy of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government? Is he aware that a number of former Ministers -are still renting flats made available to them during recent years? Does he know that included in the list of Ministers of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government renting flats are the Honourable Les Bury, who lost his position in the Gorton Ministry in 1971, and the Honourable R. Holten, who ceased to hold ministerial office following the defeat of the former Government in 1972? Is this not another example of the Senate tail wagging the Liberal-Country Party dog?
– I accept what the honourable senator has put to me as being the case because I presume that he has inquired into the matter and ascertained the facts. As I understand it, the policy of the previous Government was that Ministers should be encouraged to live in Canberra because they have work to do in Canberra.
– For which they get a special allowance and do not get an advantage in rent.
– The Ministers of the present Government also have been encouraged to live in Canberra. I heard Senator Wright’s suggestion that Ministers receive some special advantage in rent.
– The sum of S4,000-odd.
– Presumably he is speaking from his personal knowledge of what was done by the previous Government in relation to its Ministers. If that was the position it was open to the honourable senator, as a Minister of the previous Government, to complain about what his Government was doing in relation to its own Ministers. This system was set up by the previous Government. As I understand the situation, it was modified just prior to the change in government. I think the best course might be for the whole matter to be brought out into the open and for what has been done over the years to be put before the Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Minister recall saying in answer to a question I asked of him last week that he did not think the subject of wool bonds had been raised at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council? Is the Minister now in a position to give any further information? If the matter was not raised at the Agricultural Council meeting, has he been approached directly to give consideration to a wool bonds scheme?
– I recall the question asked of me by Senator Drake-Brockman. I may have misunderstood his question because in the week prior to its being asked there had been a meeting of the Agricultural Council and I said it had not been raised. There was reference to it at the previous meeting of the Council in February. I apologise if I misled him. I have been approached concerning the implementation of a wool bonds scheme, as was my predecessor last October. The principle idea of the scheme is, of course, to reduce the aggregate taxation liability of wool growers. At the time he was approached Mr Sinclair felt that it was inappropriate to implement such a scheme as the taxation laws already provide for a 5-year averaging plan for primary producers. That provision still obtains. I believe that New Zealand has had a similar scheme for quite some time but it has not been availed of very much by New Zealand wool growers. The current position is, of course, that we are, awaiting a report by the Australian Wool Corporation on the whole question of marketing. We hope that one of the benefits that will flow from that report will be a means of lessening the. wide fluctuations in wool prices. If such is the case, this will be of benefit to the wool growers as well. A committee of the Commonwealth is investigating the whole question of taxation, which will include the taxing of primary producers. I would not want to give the impression that the matter is simply being disregarded. I think it would be wise for us to wait until such time as we see what changes will be effected in the wool industry as a result of the Australian Wool Corporation report. Perhaps then would be the appropriate time to look again at the idea of wool bonds.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise. The Minister will be aware of the very large number of passengers arriving in Australia, particularly by air, and the newspaper reports of delays which occur from time to time in the processing of passengers through Customs, particularly at Mascot airport. Will the Minister advise what steps are being taken by him to speed up the clearance of passengers while ensuring that effective checks are made against possible smuggling or the importation of goods subject to quarantine?
– It is true that there are delays in dealing with passengers arriving in Australia from overseas. This is especially so of Mascot airport and sometimes of Tullamarine. This situation is aggravated by fogs which cause an accumulation of planes at the airport, and it is aggravated even further by the use of aircraft. It is necessary, in the interests of preventing the entry of drugs and other prohibited goods, that the passengers be dealt with in some kind of system. This is a very great problem. The delays certainly cause great inconvenience to passengers. This sort of situation puts great pressure upon the Customs officers and others who are trying to carry out the procedures. Attention is being given to this matter.
One of the proposals discussed in the Department of Customs and Excise and also with the officers of other countries which strike the same problem is that there should be some kind of pre-screening of passengers. For example, in the case of passengers coming to Australia from New Zealand, it would probably be convenient to deal with them before they leave New Zealand, and equally in the case of passengers going to New Zealand it would probably be convenient to have them undergo in effect a Customs check in Australia before departing for New Zealand. This method and other methods of dealing with the problem are being explored. It is a great problem for the Department and certainly it causes considerable inconvenience to the public. I assure the honourable senator that everything that can be done is being done by the officers of the Government to explore this problem in order to try to solve it. It is not a problem encountered only in Australia. It is happening all over the world. We are conscious of it and we will try to solve it.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Works refers to the proposed Australian Capital TerritoryMolonglo intercepter sewer. I ask: Is the Minister satisfied with the present proposals for the work? Is it a fact that the present proposals are for an 8 feet 6 inches diameter concrete pipe to be laid on the surface of the land for 10 miles along the length of one of the most magnificent valleys in the Australian Capital Territory? Is it a fact that more than 130 most unsightly and extensive surface structures are to be built to carry the pipe, including a trestle bridge approximately 700 feet long by 70 feet high? Is it also a fact that an underground tunnel alternative would cause no environmental damage, incur no extra cost and cause no delay in completion time? Is the proposal that the pipe be laid on the surface an example of how Labor carries out its environmental policies?
– I do not think the facts are quite as the honourable senator has stated. 1 do not know the details of the surface structure. After tenders closed the suggestion for underground piping came from a firm which has a process of underground piping. It wanted preference over the successful tenderer. That firm has commenced a campaign of this nature. I shall get details of the diameter of the pipes and the area they will cover, and make that information available to the honourable senator. I do not know whether the proposed pipeline is to be located in the best valley in Canberra. I think that is a matter of individual taste so I cannot agree or disagree with the honourable senator.
– In directing a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to the action being taken by the Minister for Science, Mr Morrison, to enact suitable standards for consumer products. What steps is the AttorneyGeneral’s Department taking to enact laws in support of such worthwhile action?
– What has been done by Mr Morrison relates to the evolving and implementation of certain consumer standards which involve, for example, the Standards Association of Australia? The area in which I am operating concerns the formulation of laws which will permit such standards to be implemented but, more importantly - -leaving aside the implementation of particular standards - the evolving of laws which will protect the consumer generally against the operations of organisations which, of course, are more powerful than the consumer. The idea is to have such laws administered by the same authority which administers trade practices legislation, namely, the Commissioner of Trade Practices. Those laws will simply outlaw practices which might be fraudulent or misleading and enable their enforcement in the courts and by public authorities where the consumer obviously is unable to pursue the litigation himself. Where large numbers of consumers are involved or in special cases, public officers will be able to enforce the law and pursue it by means of penalties or injunctions. In particular cases, the remedy of damages will be available. In this way effective consumer protection can be given. The legislation has been largely formulated and I hope that the Government will be able to introduce it in the next sittings of the Parliament.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to reports that a large quantity of Australian meat is being held in refrigerated containers in Japanese ports? If this is the case, there could be a shortage of refrigerated space for meat shipment to other countries. Will the Minister cause a full investigation to be made into this matter to prevent Australia’s refrigerated trade with other countries being unduly affected?
– I am not aware of the matter raised by Senator Lawrie. It is completely new to me. I will have the matter looked at and if this refrigerated space is, in effect, lying idle it is obviously a matter of concern to us. I shall inquire into the matter and obtain information for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Until the Minister introduced a ban on the export of crocodile skins there existed a profitable export trade in these goods. Will the Minister indicate when he proposes to relax the export ban on crocodile skins?
– To be strictly correct I think that a ban on the. export of crocodile skins, as was the case also with kangaroo skins, as such was introduced a very long time ago. There was provision for the ban on exports to be waived with the consent of the Minister. In effect, there was no export without the consent of the Minister. For a very long time it was the practice for Ministerial consent to be given automatically. That practice ceased when the new Government came into office. I think the day after the new Government was sworn in I recommended a new regulation to apply a similar ban on the export of products made from crocodile, skins, that is, the manufactured goods.
There is no prospect whatever of the ban being relaxed. The fact is that in Australia the crocodile population, which is very rare, has been reduced from about 5 million to 5,000, that is, to one-tenth of one per cent of the former number, and by any standard it could be said that crocodiles were at the point of extinction. There has been a gross commercial exploitation of crocodiles which are significant from many points of view. If I may speak in broad terms, not only have they a significance from a scientific point of view as descendants of a family of the dinosaur type, which is of special interest to the world, but also they are extremely important to the ecology of the area. They are extremely important to the maintenance of a balance of fish life and so on in the area. There is simply no prospect at all of the ban being lifted. I understand that the ban is supported on all sides, except by the handful of people who are engaged in the export trade.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and remind him that the Prime Minister and Senator Willesee have repeatedly asserted that the formula used in assuming diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China was similar to the formula adopted by other countries. I ask: Is it a fact that a Japanese organisation called the Interchange Organisation, which is financed by government and private funds and which has on its executive the deputy chief of the Japanese Embassy in Taiwan, together with the Association for Far East Relations, which is headed by a former Taiwan Foreign Ministry official, both organisations being staffed by officers detached from official duties, conduct relations between the 2 countries? Is it a fact also that sporting, cultural and other exchanges, including airline services, continue as before and that trade has increased significantly? Is it a fact that Canada has a similar arrangement? If these suggestions are correct, will the Government admit that the Australian formula does not permit the same type of relationship with Taiwan as that which Japan, Canada and other countries have? Will the Government now stop misleading the Australian people on the matter?
– The honourable senator has asked a lot of questions and put forward many factual matters. Obviously I cannot answer all those questions, but I shall refer the matter to the appropriate Minister. Alternatively, perhaps the honourable senator will place the question on the notice paper so that an answer can be given. In order to clarify the situation arising from any assumption thai there has been a misleading of the people by the Government, I think I could anticipate that the answer to that would be no.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. On 3 May I asked the Minister whether he would introduce legislation to make the wearing of crash helmets compulsory for drivers and front seat passengers in order to reduce head injuries in road accidents. I was never more serious than when I posed that question. The Government insists on motor cyclists wearing crash helmets. If people in motor cars think they have any more protection in a motor car than they would have on a motor cycle they have another think coming because the modern car just crushes on impact. The Minister’s reply, which was printed in all the major newspapers, was:
To date, no evidence has been found to support such legislation. In fact, it is possible that helmet could increase injuries such as neck injuries.
I would like to explain further that crash helmets have to be made-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - It is your question that we want to hear.
– All right, I shall pose the question. I ask what further evidence is necessary or required than the following: The controlling bodies of motor sport throughout the world will not allow any competitor to drive in any event under their control unless that competitor wears a crash helmet of approved design and manufacture. CAMS, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, is the Australian body and the FIA, the Federation Internationale de 1’Automobile, is the world controller. If these controlling bodies insisted on crash helmets being compulsory long before they made seat belts compulsory, on what basis did the Minister make his reply? In view of this important evidence, which is easily obtainable, I ask the Minister to contact these 2 bodies and urgently reconsider this important matter and answer accordingly.
– I do not think the conditions laid down for speed car racing are accepted by the Minister as the criteria which should apply to the use of motor vehicles on the road. I had a son who was a speed car driver and I thought that people engaging in this sport needed armour, not only a crash helmet. However, I would not suggest that every motorist should wear armour. The honourable senator asked what further evidence is required. We only want some substantial evidence indicating that a safety element is involved in the wearing of crash helmets by people using cars on roads. The evidence that the Minister has suggests that the wearing of crash helmets would create a bigger danger than is created by not wearing them. Therefore he does not advise passengers in motor cars to wear crash helmets.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it a fact that the Federal Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, has sent a communication to all travel agents in Australia advising that bookings should not be accepted for persons desiring to travel to Rhodesia or through Rhodesia to other places? Is this not a serious denial of the freedom of movement and a political censorship of individual citizens? Docs the Government consider that Australian citizens are not mature enough to form their own judgments on where they should travel and the nature of the regimes of such countries? Finally, are similar measures contemplated for countries such as Uganda where political tyranny is self evident?
– I am not aware of the particular notice but assuming that such a notice has been sent this no doubt would be in pursuance of the intention of the Australian Government to fulfil its obligation as a member of the United Nations to carry out the decisions of the United Nations in regard to the illegal government in Rhodesia. As honourable senators opposite would be well aware, particularly considering their views on the matter of allegiance to the Crown which have been demonstrated in the last few days, the Rhodesian Government is in open defiance and rebellion against the Queen of the Commonwealth, lt is operating quite illegally and it has been so described by the Government of the United Kingdom. It has been criticised and condemned for its repressive activities against its own population. Altogether it is a government which ought not to be supported in any way by the people of Australia. Whatever this Government is doing in order to cut off relations and to bring an end to the illegal, oppressive and abominable Government of Rhodesia is in accordance with the policy of the United Nations and I am sure that its actions will be applauded by the people of Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of preface I refer to the Minister’s own valuable role, when an Opposition senator, in the cause of Australian mothers whose children were victims of the drug thalidomide. I ask the Minister: As the compensation which is being paid by drug companies in West Germany and Great Britain is overdue, what role is the Commonwealth Health Department playing to secure a flow-through of just compensation to the Australian victims of that drug?
– As the honourable senator has said, when I was in Opposition I raised the question of the thalidomide victims with the then Minister for Health, the late Senator Wade, and as a result of the late senator’s intervention in the matter assistance in the form of artificial limbs was provided by the then government. Recently, of course, settlements have been effected in a number of cases in Great Britain and other European countries by the drug company involved. I have taken up the matter with my colleague the Minister for Health and I know that he is pursuing activities in this regard. Exactly what they are I cannot say specifically at this stage, but I will seek more information from him and I will let the honourable senator know the result.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT: f LEASES IN CANBERRA
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government. Will he table in the Senate a statement of all leases held by members of this Parliament setting out the date acquired, the rent paid, the present economic rent and whether those leases are used for personal occupation or for sub-letting? And, unless he is personally involved, will he as Attorney-General supply to the Senate a professional statement on whether the acquisition of leases by members of Parliament contravenes the provisions of the Constitution which prevent members from having contracts with the Crown? 1 ask also whether the newspaper ‘Canberra News’ last night publicly displayed a photograph of a large house said to have been acquired by a Minister at an economic rent very much below its market value. And will the Leader of the Government draw this to the attention of the media, as to the possibility of newspapers raising there matters even under the present onerous laws of defamation?
– I see no reason why information on the letting of government premises to Ministers should not be made available to this Senate. I think the details of this have been produced from time to time. I will look into the question whether an opinion should be given on the matter. In requesting that I give an opinion the honourable senator asked whether I was personally involved. I am not. I have not at any time had any flat or other place let to me so there is no problem as far as that goes. The honourable senator referred to a Minister having in some way acquired some home. I do not know whether it has been acquired by letting or not. I am simply not aware of the facts. I have not read the newspaper article in question but I suppose that if this is a matter in which the senator is interested, it can be explored. I take it the honourable senator wants to know not only what the present position is but also what the position has been over a period so that the system which was instituted under previous governments - not the former Government of which the honourable senator was a member but governments of the same political calibre - and continued under the Government of which the honourable senator was a member can be looked into.
It is extraordinary that for 20 years at least there should be a system under which flats are let to Ministers, and apparently land given to Ministers upon which they are allowed to build homes and this is quite right and proper, then all of a sudden when there is a change of government the same party as instituted the system and carried it out starts to ask questions about it as if there is something wrong with what is being done by a government which is carrying out a policy which, as I understand it, was instituted by the Liberal-Country Party Government. It may even have gone back further than that but it was certainly carried on by the LiberalCountry Party Government. If the facts concern the public arena let them be brought into the open.
– I raise a point of order. I submit that the Minister is answering a question and should not be permitted to take advantage of that situation to give a speech every time he rises. This is the third time he has done so on this subject.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - No point of order arises. As has been ruled often from the chair, a Minister is entitled to answer a question in the way he sees fit.
– This being a matter which now suddenly concerns members of the Opposition who operated this system I will see what can be done to bring out all the facts on what was being done by them over the years and on what is happening now.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It concerns reports today of the trial of 2 men in Yugoslavia. Are the 2 men Australian citizens? If they are Australian citizens, why was the Australian Embassy in Yugoslavia not informed of their detention and trial? What provision is being made for observers to be present at the trial and for the 2 men to have adequate legal representation? Finally, will the AttorneyGeneral give an undertaking that no papers or documents seized in recent police raids have been or will be provided to the Yugoslav authorities for use by the prosecution in this case?
– I am told that there are some Press reports about a trial in Yugoslavia of persons who the honourable senator says - I accept what he says - may be Australian citizens and who may well be citizens of Yugoslavia also. I will refer the question to the Minister concerned. While on the subject may I say that it is and has been over the years, a matter of great interest how this question of dual nationality should operate in practice. It should not be forgotten by the Senate when it looks at this issue of dual nationality that there are literally tens of thousands of such dual citizens in Australia. In the course of this year there would be at least hundreds and perhaps over the years there have been many thousands of citizens of dual nationality - say Yugoslav and Australian - who have appeared in the Australian courts on all sorts of charges; some may be minor, some extremely serious and some of the utmost importance. I do not know that the practice has ever been to supply information to the Government of the other country. That would apply to foreign born citizens with dual nationality in Australia who are charged with offences. The problem ought to be looked at not with respect to simply one or two citizens. I remind the Senate of that. This is a reciprocal matter. Having said that, I tell the honourable senator that he raises a matter which is of importance to the Australian Government. If information should be obtained in relation to particular citizens and particular charges or judicial proceedings, I will refer the question to the Department so that the honourable senator may be advised of the exact position and what has been done. I do know that the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs has already indicated in this chamber that certain information has been sought about events in Yugoslavia concerning Australian citizens who may be of Yugoslav nationality.
– My question - it is a good one - is addressed to the Acting Minister for Labour. Did the Minister, on the very popular Australian Broadcasting Commission radio session ‘A.M.’ this morning, criticise the Opposition Parties in the Senate for not permitting the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 to go into Committee for detailed discussion and decision? Does the Minister agree on reflection that in making this criticism, he did not display his normal characteristic fairness, in view of the fact that his Government allowed only 3 hours, and perhaps 8 minutes, for the entire debate on this lengthy, comprehensive and important industrial legislation - a fact perhaps not known to his great crowd of unseen but interested listeners?
– I am rather surprised that the honourable senator has asked this question. May I remind him of what happened when Senator Murphy indicated to the Senate the program of debate on legislation in the Senate? He assured Senator Gair and other Opposition senators that the program of business would be flexible. But we found last night in the course of the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that no such flexibility was extended by the Opposition and 1 was to be denied the right to answer criticism of the legislation by the Opposition. How can the honourable senator advance such a proposition with respect to my criticism? I did not hear the program. Certainly his position cannot be defended, because if he had had his way - he was one of the people involved-
– You allowed us 3 hours only.
– If you had had your way I would not have been able to say anything.
– If we had our way we would still be discussing the Bill.
– The proposition put by Senator Murphy when introducing his motion relating to the program of work for the Senate seemed to me to be clear. He said that in some areas naturally there would be flexibility. Any Minister would expect courtesy to be extended to him to enable him to reply in a debate. That is the position.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. Can the Minister say whether the practice of the Department of Air with respect to flight arrangements for servicemen travelling between Australia and Singapore has changed? Is it a fact that until December 1972, up to 20 service personnel were entitled to first class travel on a charter aircraft, the excess being accommodated in economy class, whereas now these personnel travel first class on civil airlines with consequent heavy increased cost to the Government? If this is so, will the Minister ask the Department to revert to the previous system which appears to be much more economical?
– I will make inquiries about the matter. I do not know of any change in this respect, but I certainly will follow up the query which Senator Jessop has raised.
– My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. I refer in the first instance to the statement made by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation in connection with World Environment Day and I note particularly his mention of a national water policy in co-operation with the States, which would deal with water resources, water quality and water pollution. Is the Minister aware that this substantially coincides with the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution? Does this inclusion in the Minister’s statement mean that the Government is accepting the Committee’s recommendations? As such a national water policy would include the treatment of waste water, can the Minister say whether he has been able to obtain information on this matter relating to questions which I asked him in this regard earlier in the session?
– I have seen the reference to World Environment Day. The Minister has a committee assessing water pollution in Australia. That committee will make reports. I think that the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution is receiving serious consideration by the Minister with a view to recommending the adoption of a policy. Regarding Senator Davidson’s questions on water, including the re-use of water, earlier in the session, I believe that matter was brought up in the Estimates Committees. I have a reply for him today on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I refer the Minister to my question to him several weeks ago relating to his statement in the Senate that a Croatian, one Ivan Pavlovic, had threatened to kill the Yugoslav Prime Minister Bijedic. I ask: Does the Minister know that Commonwealth Police have informed Pavlovic that the only evidence against him was 2 anonymous phone calls to a police station? Does the Minister know that Pavlovic has made a sworn declaration denying any threat at any time to kill Bijedic? As this working man’s livelihood is adversely affected by this allegation, will the Minister check it and if it is found to be incorrect make a withdrawal before the Senate rises, as this course would seem to be the only one consonant with honour and justice?
– Reports have been obtained on this matter. There has been a report from the police, a statement by a police officer and a report from the Deputy Crown Solicitor in Victoria. I am able to say to the honourable senator that I cannot agree with the statement that he is making and I cannot give him the assurance that he requests.
– You cannot make the withdrawal?
– I am not in a position to make the withdrawal the honourable senator suggests. I think in fairness that I should not say more than that to the honourable senator. I indicated before what I would do if I were satisfied. I am willing to show the honourable senator the documents on which my answer is based if he wishes to see them.
– I will have the question referred to the Ministers concerned, but I think there is general agreement throughout Australia that the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, is doing a wonderful job. He has been an outstanding success as a Minister. Only the other day he was responsible for doing on behalf of Australia what apparently the previous Government Ministers were incapable of doing. That was to bring about a significant improvement in the returns which were to be received under contracts with Japan. In many other ways the Minister has demonstrated ability, efficiency and drive. I am sure that in the carrying out of his portfolio he is entitled to the gratitude of the Australian nation. The honourable senator raises a particular matter of which I am not aware in detail and I will pass that on.
– Is the AtorneyGeneral aware that there remain on the notice paper unanswered more than 30 questions directed to him about his raid on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation earlier this year and other of his activities connected with so-called Yugoslav or Utasha terrorism? Firstly, will the Attorney-General explain why these questions remain unanswered, having regard to the fact that the first of the questions was put down on 7 March of this year? Does he propose to answer them?
– Leaving aside the implication at the beginning of the honourable senator’s question which I do not accept, it is true that a number of questions are unanswered. It is also true that answers are being prepared to a good number of those questions, and I hope that most of the questions will be answered before the Senate rises. The reasons for the questions not being answered perhaps have some connection with the enormous number of questions which have been asked. I indicated earlier that up to one stage probably I had answered - certainly orally - more questions than had been answered by all the Ministers put together in the other chamber. I have not checked, but I think it is a fair assumption that that is so. I think that at one stage probably I had answered on my own more than the total number of questions which had been answered by all the other 26 Ministers put together. If I and my Department are experiencing a little difficulty in finding time to attend to answering a mere 30 questions, after I probably have answered about 350 questions, I trust that even the honourable senator would understand that the Department is being hard pressed to answer all questions and deal with all the problems which have been imposed upon it in relation to legislation and administration in order to overcome the mess which was left by the previous administration.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that all members of Parliament are elected by the people to act for the people and in the best interests of Australia as a whole? Does he feel that all new legislation to be introduced by the present Government will be accepted by the majority of the people? If any legislation has passed the House of Representatives, does that necessarily mean that the Senate should pass the same legislation without query or does he agree that the Senate, being a House of review, should re-examine such legislation and introduce changes if it is thought necessary? Does he consider that all members of this House have the best interests of the people of Australia, and Australia, at heart as their first and only consideration or does he feel that many moves or changes made or suggested by the Opposition are purely party or political moves, made not necessarily to improve the legislation, not with the interests of Australia and the people as a first consideration, but purely for political gain? Does he agree that all legislation should be the best that this Parliament as a whole can produce? If he does agree, will he convey to the Government these views and request that all proposed changes be examined carefully before being rejected as not acceptable? Will he publicly ask the Opposition in the Senate whether all moves made by it to change any legislation brought before this House are made for and on behalf of and in the best interests of Australia and the Australian people?
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. This purported question is obviously in breach of standing order 99 and I ask you to reject it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - I think the question is in order.
– The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is yes. The answer to the third question is no, the Senate can query the legislation. In reply to the fourth question, yes, changes should be made. As to the fifth question, yes, I believe that senators by and large have the interests of Australia at heart. The answer to the sixth question is yes, they sometimes get diverted from that motive and proportions are put forward by honourable senators on the Opposition side for purely party political motives and they thereby depart from what is their main consideration - the interests of Australia.
In reply to the seventh question, yes, I believe that all legislation should be the best that can be produced in the interests of the Australian people. As to the eighth question, yes, I will convey to the Government what has been put by the honourable senator. In general I would say that this Senate has an important role to fulfil. It ought to give credence to what has been put forward. It ought to permit the Government to carry through legislation which has been endorsed by the Australian people. True, the Senate ought to look at it and review it. If improvements in detail can be made to legislation which is introduced and if those improvements will not destroy the program which has been endorsed by the people, I think that the Senate should make those improvements. It has an obligation to discuss matters and to do its best on behalf of the Australian people. My only regret is that at times the Opposition falls down in that obligation.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise I refer to the question which I asked him several weeks ago in relation to the ban on the export of kangaroo products, in answer to which he indicated that he was giving some reconsideration to the blanket ban that now exists in order to encourage the reasonable farming of kangaroos. What progress is he making in reviewing this present policy in view of the urgency, which I now point out to him, of some action being taken to cope with the menace that the increasing number of kangaroos is creating in the remoter parts of Australia and even in some of the more settled districts?
– I indicated earlier this year that the policy of the law, namely, that the export of kangaroo skins should not be permitted, would be enforced and that the provision for consent to export would not be invoked by me unless I was satisfied that it was in the interests of conservation to do so. A regulation was introduced to deal also with the products of the kangaroo and that has come into operation. I gave fair warning that the consents which had been given automatically in the past would not be continued after 1 April of this year. That is the position. Since then there have been several developments. The Australian Fauna Authorities’ Conference consisting of Commonwealth and State Ministers has been held. It was evident, as can be found from a reading of the report of that Conference which has been put before the Senate, that there has been no co-ordinated management of conservation of kangaroos throughout Australia, especially in Queensland. There have been no quotas or proper conservation to the standards that clearly were necessary. A working party has been set up to endeavour to introduce a program for co-ordinated conservation and management. Some kind of report on that matter will be considered in due course. I indicated that there would be no prospect of a lifting of the policy that I had suggested, namely, that no consent would be given to waive the law until effective control, conservation and management had been not only formulated but also implemented. That remains the position.
Although I am not quite sure of the situation I understand that since that time and during the last few days the United States of America has imposed what is in effect a rule nisi on the import into that country of kangaroo skins and products. It had been importing about one million kangaroo skins a year from Australia. It will not proceed with that ban in view of the steps that have been taken by Australia to put its house in order. However, if Australia fails to do that the United States will reinvoke its ban on imports of kangaroo products. Obviously, it is necessary that there be co-ordinated management and conservation. I ask the honourable senator to read the report that was tabled in the Parliament. Any suggestion of a change in the indicated policy of not consenting to the export of kangaroo products will depend entirely on the implementation of the report and upon the formulation of a proper program of conservation and management. As far as I am concerned the conservation of kangaroos will be a first consideration. The suggestions that there has been proper control and proper conservation have been proved to be a lot of nonsense. It is time that Australians woke up to the fact that all around the world there is abhorrence at what has been happening in regard to the virtually uncontrolled slaughter of kangaroos. I agree that the State from which the honourable senator comes, Western Australia, has endeavoured to institute some form of quota and regulation. The report which I have mentioned indicates that the conference considered those measures to be absolutely essential for the preservation of the kangaroo. Yet those same measures are not operating in the State where most of the kangaroos are taken.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I suggest that the remainder of the questions be placed on notice.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - The remainder of the questions will be put on notice, as requested by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– I bring up the report of the Senate Select Committee on Shipping Services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
In so moving, I wish to inform the Senate that the Committee, although authorised to proceed in the absence of Government members of the Committee only on 17 May, was able to conduct 3 meetings, one in Melbourne, one in Launceston and one last Saturday on King Island where I think it heard 10 or 14 witnesses. I will not detain the Senate for long, except to mention the substance of the Committee’s findings. The substance of its findings is as follows:
Sec. 17. Where in the opinion of the Minister a shipping service is necessary to meet the requirements of a particular area andit is desirable in the public interest that the shipping service should be provided, the Minister may by writing under his hand, direct the Commission to establish maintain and operate or to continue to maintain and operate a shipping service for the purposes of meeting those requirements.
Federal Parliamentary Labour Party today approved the following decision; a Federal Labor Government will require the Australian National Line to assume responsibility for King Island shipping service and for this purpose to negotiate with the owners of the vessel ‘Straitsman’ which was specifically designed for this service. (Sgd) Ron Davies, M.H.R.
There is no evidence of any excuse for not honouring this undertaking.
I quote only part of the Minister’s statement:
The Minister was addressing Senator Rae who had asked a question. The Committee’s findings continue:
There is no explanation of the Government’s failure to honour that statement.
That the mining and trading companies of King Island, and the residents of this decentralised community, are entitled to a regular and efficient weekly shipping service and are suffering great detriment and loss by the suspension of shipping service.
That the ‘Straitsman’ should be immediately put into operation for the purpose of King Island shipping service, and should be operated for at least 12 months before it can be said that a fair test of experience has been had. We found no objection to the reintroduction of the ‘Straitsman’ to the service and unanimity of opinion that such a ship should be used.
I wish to draw particular attention to the subsequent parts of the report without referring to them in detail.
We set out the reasons for our conclusion and the history of the venture. We point out that the reconstruction of the wharves at Stanley, Grassy and Melbourne was undertaken as part and parcel of the one project whereby the ship itself was to be constructed and the wharves built so as to accommodate that ship. We point out the loss of the public asset so constructed and the loss being incurred by shipping arrangements in Tasmania because of the non-use of the Straitsman’. On page 9 of the report we show that the total public loss for the year was $442,000, in addition to which the loss properly to be attributed to the ship itself was about $312,500. We point out the aggravation that comes from waste of public assets by non-use instead of their use in service.
I draw particular attention to the passage on page 10 of the report. Paragraph (iii) refers to one of the losses not taken into account. The manager of Peko Wallsend scheelite mine stated that the delay in the introduction of the service ‘has cost the company approximately $120,000, and’ - and this is the significant part - ‘with this burden added to the low price of scheelite, it is doubtful whether we can continue to operate under the present conditions.’ This mine is the largest employer on King Island, employing no fewer than 362 men. I forbear from enlarging upon the matter further at this stage and ask leave to continue my remarks.
– I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I realise that there is a time factor involved in the Senate today but it would be remiss of me to allow this report to be brought into this chamber without comment. This is the greatest farce, in the form of a Senate select committee report, that has ever been presented to this Senate. It was a farce from the beginning. It was a political stunt. It was conceived as a political stunt, and the report is the evidence that it was a political stunt. The inquiry was intended for no other purpose than to give Senator Wright and possibly Senator Rae publicity in Tasmania solely because an election is impending. They decided to go ahead with this socalled report. Has there ever been a report brought into the Senate before by a Committee which sat for 3 days and which asserts it has examined the problem and brought before the Senate a comprehensive report detailing all the aspects of the arguments for and against the proposition? Is this alleged to be a document that canvasses all the arguments involved in this particular issue? Can anyone suggest that the sorts of comments which are made at the back of this report are anything more than a political stunt? For example, we are told that the Tasmanian Government did not supply the witnesses asked for by this socalled Committee. Why did the Tasmanian Government not supply them? I think it would be a good guess that the Tasmanian Government knew that this Committee was nothing more than a farce and was intended to do no more than give political mileage to one or two individuals.
The whole tenor of what I read in this report is simply an attack on the attitudes of the Tasmanian Government of the day and, of course, upon the Federal Government wherever there is an opportunity, lt is a great surprise to me that the Senate should have to suffer the indignity of a report of this nature being brought before it. For example, on page 15 the report states that the Committee met 3 times; it met in Melbourne on Monday, 21 May, in Launceston on Monday, 28 May and at King Island on Saturday, 2 June and it received evidence on those occasions. There is nothing about what the evidence was. We are not told about the cross-examination that took place. Are we to believe that it was a thorough examination of the witnesses and the issues involved? Of course it was not. What we see being brought before this Senate is no more than a means of making a bit of mileage out of a difficult situation, a situation that arose not after 2 December 1972 but over the many years when the people now in Opposition who formed this Committee were in government. Although I hope that later on there might be time to debate this report at greater length, I want it to go on record that as far as 1 am concerned as a Tasmanian this was nothing more than a stunt. It was a stunt from the beginning and this report proves it.
Inquiry into Australia - New Zealand Trade
– I present the report and transcript of evidence relating to the inquiry into AustraliaNew Zealand trade by the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. I move:
In October last in an interim report to the Senate, the Committee explained the reasons why it chose to examine trade between Australia and New Zealand within the broad terms of reference concerning the promotion of trade and commerce with other countries, the operation of Australia’s international trade agreements and the development of trading relations. In a subject such as AustraliaNew Zealand trade it is necessary to determine the parameters within which the Committee will conduct its inquiry so as to enable the work to be done within a reasonable time and so that the findings might have more immediate relevance to a current situation. Accordingly, the Committee has concentrated its attention upon the aims and operation of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the actual trade and shipping. The Committee also gave consideration to competition and co-operation between the 2 countries in third markets, tourism, defence procurement, trade promotion and the concept of freer trade.
Patterns of trade are established between countries over a period of time, and they are based upon traditional links between exporters and customers, the ability of one country to supply goods to the specification and price of another, access to the market, availability of goods and so on. Nevertheless, trade is dynamic. Thus, individual industries and the exchange of specific goods and products can respond quite rapidly to economic changes in one or another country. This has been no less true to the context of Australia-New Zealand trade and it must be recognised that some observations made by the Committee will need to be viewed in the light of changes which may occur in world commodity markets and continuing uncertainties in the international monetary situation. The Committee’s report is presented on the basis that particular circumstances prevailed or certain factors were in operation at the time it concluded its deliberations.
There is nothing dramatically new in what the Committee has to say, as most of the problems indicated are long-standing ones or have been known for some time. On the other hand the report is very worthwhile because it suggests ways in which problem areas might be dealt with to the mutual benefit of industries and consumers in both countries. The Committee has been surprised to note the apparent lack of understanding of the aspirations of competing industries on both sides of the Tasman, particularly in the light of the close communication that exists between Australia and New Zealand and their affinity in so many spheres of cultural and commercial activity.
The Committee received a good response from Australian companies and industry organisations, as well as the then Department of Trade and Industry, for evidence and submissions. The response from New Zealand interests was disappointing. Although some direct evidence was received from New Zealand the Committee has had to base its observations mainly on information derived from secondary sources. This difficulty indicates the need for committees to have some flexibility in regard to the gathering of evidence and information from overseas primary sources, either through visits by, say, two or more members of the committee to the other country for on the spot investigation and absorption of attitudes prevailing in that country, or by bringing selected persons to Australia. I would hope that, when appropriate, this aspect of the Committee’s operation will be recognised as a valid and integral means of inquiry and be given favourable consideration.
Our examination of the trade has resulted in a number of recommendations framed with a view to assisting in the often expressed desire by Ministers and businessmen in both countries to move more rapidly towards efficient and productive use of the total resources of the area. Comments are made also in regard to other aspects of the trade which, we trust, will be considered by governments and the business community alike in the constructive spirit with which they are made. The inquiry covered diverse areas of the trade and it is particularly pleasing for me to say that, apart from a specific reservation by Senator Lillico in relation to the pea and bean industry, there has been complete unanimity in the presentation of the report. I remind honourable senators that the report which I now present examines only one area of the Senate’s request to the Committee to examine the promotion of trade and to report from time to time on the operation of Aus<tralia’s international free trade agreements and the development of trading relations. The Committee has at this point interpreted the reference as giving it discretion to determine the aspects of Australian trade which it should examine. However, in the light of current developments in trading relationships, the Senate may care to consider directing the Committee to explore specific areas which the Senate believes should have priority.
I express my sincere appreciation to my fellow Committee members for the support they have given. I gratefully acknowledge the willingness of senators to make themselves available for extended periods of Committee meetings, often at considerable personal inconvenience. I would like also on behalf of the Committee to recognise the diligence and effort devoted to the inquiry by those senators who were associated with the Committee in the previous Parliament. Senator Prowse served as Chairman throughout the period during which formal evidence was taken and the Committee has benefited greatly from the valuable work done by him during that time. Similarly, the Committee is appreciative of the contributions made by Senators Durack,
Kane, Primmer and Wriedt in their period of service on the Committee. I commend the report to honourable senators and seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the forty-fifth report of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, being an index to the reports of the Committee and related material.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Senator DEVITT (Tasmania) - Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to give a brief explanation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I believe that I owe it to the Senate to give a brief explanation as to why the report is not immediately available to all honourable senators. I have advised the Leaders of the 3 parties on the Opposition side of the chamber. The fact is that the Committee met this morning at 9 a.m., considered the draft report and adopted it in anticipation that the Senate will rise at the end of this week. It then became the report of the Committee. It was felt desirable that the report should be made available to those people who will have use of the information contained in its pages, it being an index to the 44 reports of the Committee. I merely wish to indicate that there is no discourtesy intended to honourable senators in the fact that the report is not immediately available to them. The report will now be printed and distributed as usual to all honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That business of the Senate order of the day No. 1 and notices of motion Nos 1 to 5 be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) proposed:
That Government business take precedence over general business at 8 p.m. this day.
– I move as a simple amendment:
At end of motion add the following words, ‘subject to consideration of general business notice of motion No.13.’
I inform the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) that we will seek only about 5 minutes of the time of the Senate to put that down.
Amendment agreed to.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent my moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
Motion (by Senator Drake Brockman) agreed to:
That after consideration of business of the Senate notice of motion No. 6, intervening business be postponed until after consideration of general business notice of motion No. 12.
– I move:
That the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance 1973, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 8 of 1973, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1972, be disallowed.
The notice of motion which I am now moving substantively was given several weeks ago with a view to repealing the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance which was brought down on 15 March this year. Its effect was to repeal sections 8a, 8b and 8c of the Ordinance. If the Senate agrees to my motion for the disallowance of the Ordinance those sections in the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance will be restored as from the time when the motion is carried.
– How does the honourable senator say that? Is he assuring the Senate that that is the legal position?
– I assure the Senate on my reading of the Acts Interpretation Act, on the basis upon which the Senate has acted and in respect of which all debates for disallowance of an ordinance have been carried on, that when an ordinance or a regulation is disallowed it shall thereupon be deemed to have had no effect. Accordingly, it can not have had any effect in relation to disallowing a previous ordinance. If Senator Murphy is interjecting in order to raise a legal point I only submit that this chamber is not the place in which to argue about the consequential legal effects. All I say is that the view he is putting forward by interjection is contrary to advice which is available to him in his department and it is contrary to the practice which has been followed by this Senate when motions for disallowance have come before it in all the years of its existence since the Acts Interpretation Act came into force with these provisions in it. If a legal question arises it can be taken to the courts by persons who have an interest to maintain or sustain. As far as I am concerned, in the argument 1 am putting to the Senate, the effect of the disallowance of this Ordinance will be to restore as in force the provisions of the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance which were introduced last year.
The Senate will recall that in September last year Senator Cavanagh, on behalf of the Opposition at that time, moved a motion to disallow the 1972 Ordinance which had been introduced by the previous Government. After a debate which lasted for some 3 hours the motion was defeated by 26 votes to 20 votes following a division. I submit to the Senate that the feeling of the Senate at that time obviously was that the substance of the 1972 Ordinance should be confirmed. The Opposition today feels that the continuation of the law contained in the 1972 Ordinance is still appropriate, proper and desirable. We see no reason why the present 1973 Ordinance disallowing the provisions of the 1972 Ordinance should have been introduced. When the Ordinance was presented this year there was a short explanatory memorandum which accompanied it. It stated:
The Government has approved the repeal of the 1972 amendments pending the preparation of comprehensive legislation whereby public use of Commonwealth land in the Australian Capital Territory can be properly regulated.
I make the comment that it would seem far more appropriate to wait until the preparation of the Governments comprehensive legislation before proceeding with an arbitrary cancellation of the provisions of the 1972 Ordinance. Those provisions were a genuine and, I think, an effective effort to legislate with respect to certain uses of Commonwealth land. To repeal them and to leave nothing in their place is, I think, a very poor and unsatisfactory way of legislating. It creates a vacuum and uncertainty. The rights of persons in regard to the usage of Commonwealth land in the Australian Capital Territory are not known.
– It is not that there be no restriction; that people have complete freedom to use?
– I think that that was the general view adopted early last year. But it was apparent from the decision of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory that there is not an absolute freedom for people to use Commonwealth lands in the Territory as a person may, of his own volition, wish to do. He is subject to some restraints and control. But the point is that one really has to go to court to know whether action which everybody takes to restrain the use of Commonwealth land is a valid action. A person who wants to use Commonwealth land is not in a position to go to court beforehand and get an opinion, judgment or advice as to whether his proposed user is a proper user. This creates what I have said is the unfortunate effect that the rights of persons with regard to the usage of Commonwealth land are uncertain. The explanatory memorandum went on:
Broadly speaking the provisions proposed to be repealed prohibit camping and the erection of structures on unleased Commonwealth land within the city area unless the land is a declared camping area or the person wishing to occupy the land in question is the holder of a permit issued to him for the purposes of conducting a fair or carnival and the like.
There would seem to be nothing objectionable in that summary of the position. If that be so, why then does the Government wish to cancel those provisions unless there is some possible ex post facto political reasoning or justification to which the Government desires to give expression. The explanatory memorandum also states:
The provisions- that is, of the 1972 Ordinance - were enacted to permit the removal of the ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ then on the lawns outside Parliament House.
That is a restricted view of the motivation of the previous Government and an unwarranted justification for the provisions of the Ordinance which was passed in 1972. Certainly it was the setting up of the so-called Aboriginal embassy and the. continued use of the lawns outside Parliament House for months by the persons who had settled in the collection of tents which brought the matter to the attention of the previous Government. But once that matter had been brought to the attention of the Government and when the ramifications had been explored it was apparent that there, was a complete vacuum with regard to use of Commonwealth lands right throughout the Australian Capital Territory. It was to remedy that situation, to provide some means by which persons would know what their rights were with regard to these lands, something to enable police officers to know what their obligations and duties were with regard to people who camped on these lands and, generally, to maintain throughout the Australian Capital Territory some regulation of land usage, that the Ordinance was introduced. The Ordinance of 1972 was made on 30 June. It purported to come into effect on 20 July 1972.
As a result of a decision of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory which was given on 12 September it became necessary for the Ordinance to be re-enacted. It was re-enacted on 13 September. As I said earlier, it was this Ordinance which the then Opposition sought to disallow. On a vote of the Senate it was not disallowed. That Ordinance provided as its objective that camping on unleased Commonwealth land in the city of Canberra was prohibited unless the land had been declared to be a camping area by an order in a ‘Gazette’. The Ordinance prevented the possibility of prominent public sites in the Australian Capital Territory which, of course, are of interest not only to the residents of Canberra but also to the tourists who visit the Territory - such as City Hill and the nature strips and other vacant lands - becoming camping areas. The Ordinance in no way restricted the traditional rights of freedom of speech and of assembly. Those areas could and can still be used for the purpose of holding demonstrations and assemblies or for listening to political speeches.
I think it would be a very unfortunate day if the area in front of Parliament House were not permitted to be a public place - a forum - to which people could come for the purpose of demonstrating by their numbers that they have an interest in a particular issue and of listening to speeches which may be addressed to them. The only important factor that I think should be taken into consideration in this respect is that the Parliament should in no way allow itself to be intimidated by the pressure of numbers. My recollection is that the Parliament of Westminster has very rigid rules which prevent the assem bly of people within a certain distance of Parliament House. The justification for hiving those rules is to prevent the nation’s legislators being overborne by the pressure of the mob. Those who have some idea of the tactics which have been adopted in some countries in recent times, particularly the tactic which is called gherao in India, can appreciate the way in which a vast assembly of people can absolutely intimidate a group of persons who are kept within the area of the assembly. Whilst I agree that people should have the right and would assert that people should have the right to assembly and to demonstrate in and around the front of Parliament House, I think it ought to be recognised that there are possible dangers in too great an assembly which could intimidate the Parliament.
As I have said, these areas, though technically comprehended within the language of the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance, can still be used for the purpose of holding demonstrations and assemblies and for listening to political speeches. The Ordinance, by its terms, is directed solely at camping and not at people assembling. The Ordinance created an offence for a person to camp or to erect a tent or other structure on Commonwealth land. People could, of course, obtain a permit. Permits could be obtained for the purposes of festivals, shows, fairs, circuses or carnivals. The parking of motor vehicles was, of course, prohibited. The penalties provided by the Ordinance were not unreasonable. A maximum penalty of $50 applied for an offence with a continuing penalty of $10 for each day after a person had been convicted of the first offence.
Last year we had the situation in which the expanse of lawn in front of Parliament House was the scene not of people demonstrating but of people placing tents and shanties on the lawns. The tents remained there for weeks, and those weeks merged into months. The camp was unsightly, unhygienic and unsanitary. The fact that the people involved were Aborigines was irrelevant. The Government at the time determined that effective laws should be passed to prevent a group of persons parking vehicles or camping on the lawns in front of Parliament House or on any Commonwealth land. We think that that is a reasonable proposition for a Government to maintain, and that it is unreasonable for an
Ordinance which makes that provision simply to be repealed and for nothing to be put in its place. I know that the present Government, when it was in Opposition, sought to denigrate the Ordinance and the Government’s actions and motives in relation to it on the basis that the Ordinance represented some racial bias or some racial discrimination. That was denied then and it will be denied again if it is raised today.
The purpose of the Ordinance - it can be looked at objectively at the present time because there is nothing unsightly on the lawns in front of Parliament House at present - is to provide an effective, proper and sensible means of regulating the use of unleased Commonwealth lands in the Australian Capital Territory. The significant fact, as I have said, is that no good reason has been given why this Ordinance should be repealed. The previous Government sought to clarify the law in 1972. The then Opposition tried to oppose that clarification. Among the arguments which were used was the argument that other sanctions of the law might be resorted to in trespass situations. I recall pointing out at that time the very real difficulties people have in relying upon the general uncodified - unstated in statute form - law relating to trespass to assert their rights. The Government now seeks by this 1973 Ordinance to revert to the uncertain situation which existed prior to September last year, pending some further legislative review of the whole question of trespass on Commonwealth land. We have not been told when that legislative review will be completed or when we will see the results of it. In the meantime the Government would have us revert to a position of uncertainty instead of the position which is indicated by the 1972 Ordinance. The Opposition, of course, will welcome the legislative review when it takes place, but we oppose any attempt to confuse the situation by reverting to the present uncertainty without any cogent, logical argument being presented.
As I have said, we do not really know why the Government has repealed this Ordinance. One may suspect that there is some desire after the event to justify a political attitude which was adopted last year. If that is the reason for the Government’s attitude, I think it is a petty and unreasonable approach to adopt. The fact is simply that the Ordinance passed last year is a sensible means of achieving an objective and ought not be repealed. If it is repealed some alternative which is equally sensible should be put in its place. That has not been offered. In the circumstances, I hope that the Senate will agree with the motion for the disallowance of the Ordinance moved this year concerning the 1972 provision.
– This is another example of an endeavour by the Opposition to overcome the will of the people as expressed at the recent election. Prior to the election the present Government stated that this Ordinance would be repealed if it were elected to office. The Government has given effect to its promise and the Ordinance has been repealed. The Opposition now seeks to disallow the repealing Ordinance. It is evident that such a motion would not succeed in the House of Representatives because the will of the people, as expressed through the House of Representatives, is that this Ordinance, which was a blot on Australia’s reputation, ought to go.
The 1972 Ordinance amending the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance was repealed by Ordinance No. 8 of 1973, which was gazetted on 16 March 1973. That gave effect to the promise that the Government made before the election that the Ordinance would be repealed. The repealed Ordinance made camping on unleased Commonwealth land an offence in certain minor instances, in which case camping could be permitted. The parking of motor vehicles in areas prescribed by the Gazette notice was also made an offence. Only one area was prescribed, namely, the area in front of Parliament House. Despite the other reasons which were given at the time of the introduction, the fact remains that the Ordinance was introduced and given effect to during the continuance of the Aboriginal embassy and was made to deal with that situation.
The introduction and application of the Ordinance was greeted with scenes of hostility and bitterness. The Government believes that the continuation of that Ordinance would have been for ever a derisive reminder of the circumstances of its introduction and for many Australians stigmatised its administration as a discriminatory and repressive law. It is a fact that the city of Canberra had existed since 1927 until 1972 without the apparent need for such a law. Such isolated instances of camping as have occurred have, it seems, been either tolerated with some good humour, such as those occasions on which university students have camped outside the Parliament, or presumably dealt with by other administrative methods. There is no evidence, other than that provided by the action taken against the Aboriginal embassy, that camping was seen as an actual immediate problem in the city area of Canberra.
The full Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory had expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth has sufficient powers as landlords to deal with camping without permission on Commonwealth land. If any camping activity took place which seriously threatened the peace or good order of the city or which involved any question of public health the Government would look to the existing laws in force in the ACT for power to deal with those situations. In the absence of any continuing problem the Government does not believe that legislation dealing with camping is required urgently. Certainly the recent demonstration on the lawns outside Parliament was, in the view of the Government, doing no harm. Now that the demonstration which was concerned with abortion law reform is over, the hasty reintroduction of the previous law is not warranted. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) has stated that his Department is reviewing the whole position of the laws controlling activities on unleased Commonwealth land in the Territory and that ultimately a new amending law or consolidated law to deal with the real problems may well result.
The position is clear. The Minister for the Capital Territory has stated that he is satisfied that the existing laws are ample and that there is no necessity to reintroduce this Ordinance which was introduced previously especially to deal with the Aboriginal embassy and which, I suppose, focused attention on the fact that these gentle people who have been dealt with unjustly over the years by the Australian public had to come here and set up that embassy in order to try to have some attention paid to their problems. That was very regrettable. The fact is that the existence of the embassy was an embarrassment to Australia, as it ought to have been, in pointing out to the rest of the world the unjust treatment given to our Aborigines. It is unfor tunate that the Opposition should want to reintroduce, by way of disallowance of this repealing Ordinance, a provision which was introduced especially to deal with the Aboriginal embassy.
One can recall the problems surrounding this matter. The Supreme Court said that the Ordinance was not properly notified in the Gazette, in any event. Subsequent legislation made retrospectively criminal conduct which was not criminal at the time it occurred. In its determination to move against the Aborigines the previous Government was prepared to offend one of the great principles of the law, namely, that criminal action should not be retrospective. I think the previous Government went even further by endeavouring to validate retrospectively the convictions of the people involved. This also was an alarming departure from the rule of law. Now the Government has got rid of this dreadful Ordinance. I use the word ‘dreadful’ because it was aimed at the Aborigines. It is no use anyone saying that this was an ordinary piece of police legislation to deal with a problem, because it was not. It was not regarded as that by anyone in this chamber or by the people of Australia. It was not regarded as that by people around the world. That Ordinance became a symbol of the action that has been taken against the Aborigines. That is the reason why the present Government wants it repealed. It is symbolic of racial discrimination. It was a piece of legislation especially aimed at the Aboriginal embassy.
It is evident that we have laws to cover any real problems which may arise in the future. I ask the Senate to leave the solution of these problems to the laws that exist already. The Supreme Court of the ACT has said that such laws do exist. Problems may arise. We do not need to go into the legal technicalities of what would be the effect of disallowing a repealed regulation or ordinance. Despite what Senator Greenwood has suggested, the effect of this action could be quite serious. I will not dwell on that point because the real issue is this: Is the Opposition so intent on endeavouring - whether or not its endeavours are successful is another matter - to restore an unnecessary ordinance which is aimed at the Aborigines when that ordinance was a symbol of attempts to prevent the Aborigines from making their feelings known in a dramatic way? After years of endeavouring to get justice, the Aborigines thought that the only way to achieve their ends was to come here and put their embassy right in front of Parliament House and stay there until their problems were understood and some attention was paid to them. Fortunately the change in Government has meant that they do not have to indulge in that kind of activity in order to have attention paid to their problems.
The Government is endeavouring in a number of ways to overcome the injustices which have existed since the white man came to this territory. But it is no credit to the Opposition that it endeavours to restore this symbolic piece of legislation - and that is what it is. In fact, the Minister for the Capital Territory - it is his responsibility to see the proper regulation of health and so forth in the Territory - says that it is unnecessary to restore this Ordinance, that there is ample provision in the law to deal with problems which may arise in the future. What does Senator Greenwood say in reply to that? He says: ‘There are some uncertainties under the existing law in relation to persons who may come here, so let us deal with those uncertainties as to their rights by taking away their rights. It is a simple process. Do not let us have any uncertainty; let us take away the rights of the people.* I suppose this is a principle which could be carried through the law in many ways. I suppose if the Opposition had its way it would get rid of any uncertainty where it occurs about the rights of people. If there is some uncertainty about the rights of people to demonstrate in the cities, about the rights of people to freedom of speech or freedom of assembly, the Opposition would say: ‘Let us attend to this uncertainty by the simple measure of taking away the rights.’
Let us not be distracted by the issue of whether such an ordinance is necessary. Relying upon the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Minister says that the Ordinance is not necessary. If the Senate decides to disallow the repeal of an ordinance which was directed especially at the Aboriginal embassy, it will reflect no credit upon the Senate. It will show that the Senate is determined to restore a provision which was aimed especially at the endeavours of the Aboriginal people of Australia to focus attention on their problems. There certainly is no problem at the moment to warrant repealing this Ordinance and the Minister for the Capital Territory says that he does not expect any problems to arise in the future. In any event, he has sufficient power under the existing law to deal with any problems which may arise. It would be, I suggest, much more consonant with the proper approach of this chamber not to show a determination to restore that Ordinance which was surrounded with so much bitterness and regarded with so much hostility by the Aboriginal people as something especially aimed at them.
– I certainly do not accept what the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) has said. For a great deal of his speech this morning he dwelt on the suggestion that this matter was entirely involved with the Aborigines. Of course it was not. The great amount of publicity given to this matter by the Australian Labor Party was a complete tissue of lies, as I saw the situation at the time. Indeed, there were very few Aborigines associated with the whole team of people who congregated outside Parliament House. As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment I went into this question extensively by speaking to people in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The Committee found that the genuine Aborigines in the community would not have a bar of those people who arrived here in Jaguars or the long haired individuals who came from universities. Indeed, one of the participants was a Black Power girl from the United States of America. These people were camping and sleeping in front of Parliament House. The aim of the Opposition is to ensure that there is an ability to control who may camp or sleep on the lawns in front of Parliament House. That was the main basis of the action taken by the previous Government. 1 seek an answer from the Attorney-General to this question: Will he declare to the Senate whether, if the move by the Opposition to reintroduce the original ordinance fails and the Labor Government succeeds in its wish to retain the 1973 ordinance, it will be permissible for any person or group of persons henceforth to park caravans, to erect tents, to sleep on or to carry out any other functions on the lawns in front of Parliament House?
– In considering this matter and taking what might be regarded as a non-Party view, I do not agree with the reply of Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to the remarks of Senator Greenwood. I know that Senator Murphy has a high regard for Parliament and particularly for the regulation making aspect of government. I do not agree that the original ordinance was introduced in a spirit of opposition to the Aborigines, of racism, or whatever other fancy terms are used. I do not mind admitting that I said that the former Government should have acted much more quickly in having the bunch of tents removed from the front of Parliament House. Those tents had the appellation Embassy’ attached to them but, of course, this was utter nonsense. Let us be honest and factual about this matter. That blot in front of Parliament House was a disgrace to this national institution. It remained there for months. Another chap was hanging about outside Parliament House for some time. He was seeking more aid for an Asian country. This sort of conduct is not proper in front of the national Parliament of this country.
The square in front of Parliament House was intended for beautification purposes. Anyone who is familiar with planning - I have been associated with planning for many years - knows that the square was designed for beautification purposes. There is nothing to stop people gathering in a temporary manner in that area for the purposes of a demonstration, but the setting up of a camp - a terrible looking thing it was - was a blot in front of Parliament House. What effect did that camp have on each individual senator as he came to Parliament House each day? Did it stir honourable senators to push for this or to oppose that? My impression was that it had no effect at all. I am trying to consider this matter from a non-Party angle. I think honourable senators know me well enough in this regard. My own feeling was that it was a welcome move when the Minister for the Interior introduced a regulation to debar such long sustained demonstrations or sit-ins. I cannot agree that a regulation that debars such things is bad, because the nation has gone to much trouble and expense to build an attractive city in Canberra and to provide pleasant aspects in front of the public buildings.
When one talks of the rights of a few people one must also consider the rights of the great majority of the people. Do the great majority want camps and similar demonstrations in front of Parliament House?
My assessment is that they do not. I know that it is usual for governments to claim that they have a mandate to do certain things. Yesterday Senator Lillico showed me a leader from the Launceston ‘Examiner’ which expressed views very much in line with my own thinking. I go around and talk to people and during the course of the last election campaign I questioned people on points contained in the policies put before them. It might amaze honourable senators to know that many people could not tell me one point contained in the respective policies, so all this nonsense we hear about mandates does not carry much weight. We must consider whether we, as decent minded Australians, wanting an attractive Parliament House with a pleasant frontage and set in an attractive city, want people to camp in that area for all manner of pretences or whether we want the area retained for the purpose for which it was originally intended, namely, as an attractive frontage to Parliament House.
I do not consider that the original ordinance was aimed against Aborigines. It was aimed at anyone who camps there. If we do not have laws to prevent this sort of thing, could caravans be parked there? If so, why not make it a temporary caravan park? What would happen if everybody wanted to camp outside Parliament House? One has only to take this matter to the extreme to appreciate the foolishness of such a situation. I think the original regulation was good. I do not mind confessing that I was continually at Mr Hunt, then the Minister for the Interior, to do something about the camp. I think that the previous Government, of which I was a supporter, was weak in not acting months before it did. I was glad that ultimately it had the strength to do the right thing. I cannot support the Government’s move to do away with the regulation which prevented such happenings. I suggest that if Senator Murphy were not Leader of the Government in the Senate his arguments might be similar to my own.
– I enter this debate for one very important reason. We are debating the disallowance or the repeal of an ordinance that was introduced by the previous Govern ment. I have sat in this chamber and have listened, as I have listened for many years, to Aborigines being used as a political football. They have been used as a political football in an attempt to disallow an ordinance to prevent people regardless of their colour - whether they be black, white or brindle with green stripes - from setting up tents or anything else on the lawns in front of Parliament House. I do not think the rights or wrongs of that ordinance should enter into this debate. The ordinance was brought in for a specific purpose - to stop anyone abusing the lawns or nature strips in Canberra. When the previous Government spoke of introducing that ordinance I spoke strongly against it because I felt that it was being brought in to remove my fellow Aborigines from the lawns in front of Parliament House. It has been said today that it was disgraceful that they camped on those lawns. Is it any more disgraceful than Aborigines sleeping on creek banks throughout this Commonwealth? I do not think it is. As a matter of fact I did not agree with Aborigines camping on the lawns of Parliament House. I felt it was not the right thing. I agreed with their objective of bringing to the attention of members of the Parliament the conditions in which some of our folk live. ButI do not think any member of this Parliament should use this subject for his own political gain.
The Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) spoke of all the wonderful things that his Government is going to do for Aborigines. Let me tell him that I will be in this chamber for a long time making sure that the Government carries out the wonderful promises it is making at the moment. At the moment they are only big talkers. I will be watching very closely, as will many of my fellow-Aborigines, to see what will happen in relation to Aboriginal affairs. I hope that we will not be shoved up a sidetrack because that is what I can see will happen with the establishment of this consultative committee - an Aboriginal parliament! We do not want an Aboriginal parliament. We want to be part and parcel of the Australian community. We want to see more Aborigines in this chamber speaking on matters that affect all Australians and not just having the opportunity of speaking only on Aboriginal affairs. We want the opportunity to speak on all matters affecting all Australians, because we are Australians. We were the first Australians. I speak strongly in favour of the disallowance of the ordinance so that in future my Aboriginal fellows will not be humiliated on the lawns of Parliament House. There will be an ordinance to prohibit them from camping there, but they will still be allowed to stand out there and make their protest in a proper and dignified manner like any other Australian citizen. I am quite sure that if the occasion arises and I feel strongly enough about it I will certainly stand on the lawns of Parliament House with other Aborigines. I certainly would not camp on the lawns and lower the dignity of a very dignified race.
– The occasion will not arise under this Government.
– That remains to be seen. Maybe I am a little closer to the Aboriginal people than some of the so-called–
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott) -I think the honourable senator should keep within the terms of the motion before the Senate.
– I am quite sure that the time will come when Aborigines will want to return here and make some protest. I hope that the disallowance motion will be carried. The Aborigines will then be able to protest with the dignity with which their forefathers roamed this nation before the coming of the white man.
That the motion (Senator Greenwood’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
On 24 May this year a notice was gazetted in the Northern Territory which had the effect of acquiring some 32 square miles to the east of the existing city of Darwin. This is freehold land held by a great number of small land owners although some larger blocks are involved. It is a very considerable area, some 20,480 acres. The nature of the action taken aroused considerable resentment not only on the part of the people involved directly but also on the part of other people in the Northern Territory who believe that the Commonwealth is endangering the whole question of freehold rights and titles which up to this time have been honoured and respected. As a result of the action taken, Senator DrakeBrockman and I have received a great number of telegrams of protest. We also have received a petition signed by some 346 people involved. I understand that there are other signatories in the Northern Territory and if they were added the total number protesting against what has been done would be some 500 people. In order to bring the matter concisely before the Senate I shall read the petition that I have received. It states:
We the undersigned landowners and occupiers in the Northern Territory respectfully seek your support in disallowing the acquisition notice tabled in the Senate on May 29 on the following grounds:
We do not consider it necessary to abolish all freehold titles in the area to achieve sound future planning.
To do so is in fact predetermining the recommendations of the recently appointed ElseMitchell Royal Commission.
It is also suggestive of an exercise in socialistic control of people’s land and lives, which could have future implications for the States.
This has not been done.
The methods used by the Government under the Lands Acquisition Act have tried to by-pass the protection normally afforded to the public in matters of land acquisition.
In discussing this matter personally with one of the people involved I ascertained that apart from the wording of that petition there is the objection that the Government has not provided sufficient reasons for acquiring the whole 32 square miles. The people object to the manner of carrying out the acquisition by gazettal rather than by the customary means of dealing with individual land owners. Most importantly, they object to the almost complete lack of information to the people affected regarding the consequences of the acquisition. They object particularly to the basis of compensation and the absence of plans upon which land owners could decide whether to seek lease back arrangements. In expansion of that point I point out that one of the contentions is that the rights of these people would be adequately safeguarded because they could lease back the land. However, they do not know what is planned. They do not know whether the land that they owned would be in the middle of an industrial area or in the middle of a residential area. There are no plans on which they can make a judgment about what they could or should do regarding lease back arrangements. The people object to the indeterminate nature of the proposal which means that members of the public affected are unable to make plans for the future. They object to the arbitrary nature of the proposal which ignores the opinion of the Legislative Council. They object because the Government failed to allow for expression of opinion. In amplification of the first point, I point out that the report presented by P. G. Pak-Poy and Associates was made available to the public only recently although it had been available to the Government for some considerable time.
– Who was the Minister at that time who did not make the report available?
– The report was available to the previous Government but it also had been available to this Government for some 6 months. It was released only a few days before the gazettal of the notice. Members of the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory hardly had time to read it. The Pak-Poy report draws attention to the very considerable area of conveniently situated Commonwealth-owned land which could be made available if the present Royal Australian Air Force base were relocated. The strategic concept of having an Air Force base close to the city of Darwin and the coastline is more consistent with the concepts of 1920 than those of 1973. There is great urgency in the need for re-examination of the present Air Force defence base. Consequently it is premature to put forward plans for acquisition of large areas of land without first finalising a town planning concept which takes into consideration the possibility of availability of such large areas of conveniently located land.
The Pak-Poy organisation has estimated that these Commonwealth held areas are capable of providing a housing area for some 107,000 people made up as follows: 40,000 on the airport area; 20,000 at Lee Point; 19,000 at Thorak Reserve; 18,000 at Sanderson, which is Commonwealth held; and 10.000 at Coonawarra. This fact is made clear at page 7 of the Pak-Poy report. In addition, the decision to go ahead with the aquisition of 32 square miles ignores the existence of Army held areas which may become redundant and RAAF explosive storage areas located quite close to inhabited areas. The Pak-Poy report, under the heading ‘Conclusions and Recommendations’, states that the Darwin peninsula could accommodate the urban requirements of almost 200,000 people. The present population of Darwin is some 46,000 people. An area of about 14 square miles of land on the Darwin peninsula which at present is freehold will need to be developed on a comprehensive basis to meet the needs of up to 150,000 people. I remind the Senate that the Pak-Poy report refers to about 14 square miles but the present acquis^ tion covers some 32 square miles. Members of the Legislative Council cannot understand the necessity to acquire some 20,480 acres of land which includes a large number of small 5-acre blocks at present owned or occupied by Darwin citizens, when some 8,000 acres in 2 large holdings are readily available from persons who are willing to make them available.
The argument that this acquisition is necessary to prevent haphazard development ignores the fact that the Northern Territory Legislative Council has power to legislate for such developmental processes. It also ignores the fact that a great deal of this land which is being acquired will not be occupied or used for some 25 years. In addition we need to look at the incompatibility of some of the Commonwealth installations with the nearby developmental areas, such as the hazards and nuisance to people from the bombing range areas, which are considerable. Further the effect of domestic appliances and industrial equipment on the efficiency of the radio transmitting stations at the air base is a serious problem to these installations which are badly located in regard to the planning of Darwin. The attitude taken by the Northern Territory Legislative Council is expressed in the debate which was held in the Council and by a motion that was carried unanimously by the Council objecting to the acquisition. I shall summarise quickly the points made. Dr Letts said:
These people are not speculators. Most are small landholders with S-acre blocks who choose to live in this area. The Northern Territory Legislative Council passed amendments to Town Planning Ordinance requiring the owners of 320-acre blocks to obtain administrative permission for subdivision. A number of subdivisions were approved but some went ahead without approval and these people are unable to obtain title or finance.
I would add that the very fact that a great number of people have been willing to go outside the town site to take up 5-acre blocks has meant to a great extent a lessening of pressures on other land in Darwin. They have contributed to keeping down costs because they have relieved some of the pressures of demand for areas closer to Darwin. Mr Kentish, another member of the Council, said:
This was a great shock to many hundreds of people on the eastern side of Darwin. Palmerston freeway was reconsidered because 11 families would be inconvenienced.
Here hundreds of people are virtually dispossessed and their rights ignored and trampled on. Yet we sent the Public Works Committee back to Darwin because we found that in a proposal for the Palmerston freeway some 11 families would be inconvenienced. We have no recourse and no appeal except as lies within this Senate to protect the interests of the people of the Northern Territory. Mr Kentish went on to say:
The battlers out there, many of whom have spent half a lifetime in the Territory, are to be chased off their land to provide cheap land for people coming from the south. . . . The method of this acquisition is unique … the method of going about it is a threat to the whole of Australia . . . The majority of these people are anxious to retain their holdings and their homes.
Mr Kilgariff pointed out that in this particular case the Legislative Council was not even consulted. Mr Macfarlane quoted Mr Whitlam as saying ‘Labor will trust the people’. Mr MacFarlane then said:
That is so much poppycock. . . . There seems no reason for this indecent haste.
Mr Fisher said:
It appears unjust that this other area should be acquired while this enormous area within Darwin is still left to be used for defence purposes. Defence based on such facilities in Darwin would be completely abortive in times of war.
Mr Withnall, an independent member, said:
The people of the Northern Territory suffer from 2 disabilities. The first is that the Commonwealth may not acquire any land in any State unless it is for Commonwealth purposes. In the Northern Territory, the purpose is any, purpose at all for which the Parliament has power to make laws. . . . Thus, the Commonwealth is no longer limited in acquisition. The other disability is that there is no constitutional guarantee in the Northern Territory that just terms will be provided. . . . The Commonwealth Government would be better advised to exercise its power with a great deal more care than seems to have been shown in the precipitate decisions which have been made with respect to this land.
Mr Bell, a Labor member of the Legislative Council, is on record as saying: . . the attitude of some members of the bureaucracy al that meeting was to be deplored.
This was the meeting at which the official reasons were given.
Mr Bell went on to say:
They did not seem to realise that they were dealing with people. Some of these people had lovingly built homes in which to live or retire and they were told: ‘Once I put the bulldozers through. . .’ This is not the way to deal with people outside of a totalitarian country.
– Who told them that?
– This is a statement made by Mr Bell in his speech to the Legislative Council. Mr Bell is a Labor member of the Council. I quote it for what it is worth. He said:
This is not the way to deal with people outside a totalitarian country. I regret to say that so far as this acquisition is concerned we might as well be in a totalitarian country. . . . They have no plan; they have no accurate map; they have no idea of the number of people affected by these illegal subdivisions. … I wrote to the Minister that ‘I will fight this thing which I believe is a monstrous thing, and which will cause unnecessary misery, for many families together with other territorians’.
Mrs Lawrie, an independent member, and Mr Ward, a Labor member, supported the motion. Mr Withnall, an independent member, said:
When it comes to acquisition in this case, it is the people who are to suffer, and not the government land. It is the people who have some affinity with the land who must give it up whether they wish to or not because the government departments are too lazy to change or too uncomprehending of the situation to understand what they have done. … lt has been said town planning is 90 per cent guesswork and 10 per cent witchcraft. As far as Darwin is concerned, it is about 98 per cent guessing and 2 per cent witchcraft.
These are the expressions of the elected representatives of the Northern Territory but their wishes and desires are completely overridden and completely ignored by this Government’s action. This Senate is the only way by which deferment can be achieved because’ once the 30 days expire - it is only by the merest chance that we have been able to discuss this matter in the Senate - there will be no recourse for these people and no appeal whatever. I plead with the Senate to give these people at least an extension of time in which the Government’s plans may be more closely examined and in which a better understanding of the purpose of the acquisition may be reached. We know that part of this area is readily available through the ordinary channels. It has been argued that if this 8,000 acres were available and were purchased, this would mean an increase in the price of the other holdings. But the Commonwealth has power to freeze prices in the Northern Territory, and prices can be held at their present level for subsequent negotiation. Therefore the argument that these people are seeking a speculative investment simply does not hold water as an excuse. I appeal to the Senate to give to the people in the Northern Territory a chance to see what is required of them. Let the Government put forward a better considered plan which takes into account the whole of the area in Darwin that can be developed. I have been to Darwin on Public Works Committee investigations many times and I have seen the result of the sort of development that has gone on and the concentration of the centre c-f P.ir*k> 05 a very small peninsula. One of the effects is that we now have to consider the expenditure of some $5m to build a 5-mile freeway through a difficult area because of the lop-sided nature of the development into which the city of Darwin is forced, being built around the perimeter of an Air Force base which occupies what ought to be the heart of the city of Darwin. All these areas should be taken into account before a well considered plan is submitted.
The Government has set up the ElseMitchell Committee and, as I pointed out, the acquisition of this land pre-empts the decision of that Committee with regard to development. Every argument that is rational and logical seems to me to justify the Senate in taking action which will at least delay this acquisition so that the proper and right thing may be done with regard to the development of the City of Darwin, especially with regard to consideration of the rights of the people involved.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt) agreed to:
That the papers referred to by Senator Prowse be tabled.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide page 2017). on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– For the sake of convenience, in order to save time, these Bills have been taken together for the purpose of debate although they have some differences between them. It is not the purpose of the Opposition to oppose any of these 3 Bills. The Insurance Bill 1973 establishes a comprehensive system of supervision of general insurance. Those wishing to commence new insurance business will need to be bodies corporate which can meet the minimum standards of financial soundness laid down in the Bill. Existing insurers carrying on business in Australia on 9 December 1971 will be required to meet the same standards. Those who cannot or do not wish to do so may continue, subject to transitional provisions for the purpose of their orderly withdrawal from the insurance business. Special provisions have been made for Lloyd’s underwriters who are not bodies corporate. They have therefore been covered.
The Government has indicated that it proposes to look further into other aspects such as the supervision of insurance brokers, overseas ownership and control, and the general question of the need to protect policy-holders and to safeguard the community’s interests. There is a proposal that a committee of experts be set up to study the whole ramifications of this matter. This measure flows out of the work of the previous Government in aiming to do exactly the same kind of thing. Therefore it is a piece of legislation which is really in train from a previous situation and is now being endorsed by the Parliament because the new Government has brought it forward. One would be in sympathy with the broad aims of this legislation. Therefore we support it.
Another Bill under consideration is the Insurance (Deposits) Bill the purpose of which is to change the name of the Insurance, Act 1932-66 to the Insurance (Deposits) Act 1932-73. This is to provide for the termination of the deposit requirement after the new system of supervision provided for in the insurance Bill just referred to becomes fully effective. It also provides for other requirements which are consequential on the passing of the Insurance Bill 1973. There are some minor drafting changes but the Bill is substantially the same Bill as that which went to the House of Representatives on 28 September 1972. It was not presented in time to be debated on that occasion before the Parliament went into recess.
The third Bill concerned is the Life Insurance Bill 1973 the purpose of which is to change the title of the statutorv office mentioned in the Life Insurance Act 1945-1965 from the ‘Insurance Commissioner’ to the Life Insurance Commissioner’. This is being done in order to avoid the confusion with the statutory office of Insurance Commissioner provided for in the Insurance Bill 1973. There are 2 minor technical amendments in that Bill. The only comment that one would make on that is that the present Insurance Commissioner who now becomes the Life Insurance Commissioner is the same person who is the Commonwealth Actuary. One wonders whether, in due course, it would not be better for the Government, with the growth of life insurance and general insurance business, to have more than one person involved in the overall examination of the requirements of life insurance and Commonwealth actuarial work. The two tend to flow together. An examination of the life office situation must be based on a sound appreciation of actuarial needs and functions. I believe that it is rather much for one man to do all this, particularly in the growing field of savings in the life insurance field because life insurance is substantially a method of accumulating the savings of people over long terms.
In my view, therefore, it needs to come under Government inspection and regulation. This Bill does some of the things that are required. I believe that, later, it would be worthwhile expanding the office of the Life Insurance Commissioner so as to provide that more than one person may fulfil his duties. 1 think that that will be found to be necessary. However, as I have said, the Opposition supports these 3 Bills.
– The observations of Senator Cotton will be studied by the Treasury. I thank the Senate for its approval of the second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2209), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the provisions of this Bill which will give to the Electoral Office the status of a statutory office. The Electoral Office has a very important function to perform in the Australian electoral system. In carrying out these duties not only should it be independent but also it should have the appearance of being so. May I add that I am pleased to note that the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) in the other place gave an assurance that the officers at present occupying positions within the Electoral Office will continue to hold those offices under this legislation. We support the Bill.
– in reply - The assurance referred to by Senator Withers was given by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) in the other House. He said that the officers at present in the Electoral Office will be reappointed to the Australian Electoral Office. I understand that a vacancy has occurred in Tasmania in the ordinary course of events. Subject to that position - and there is nothing special about it - the other officers will be reappointed to their former offices. The Minister has given that assurance. I thank the Senate for its acceptance of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
WOOL INDUSTRY BILL 1973 WOOL TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 5) 1973
Debate resumed from 6 June (vide page 2460), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– When this debate was adjourned last night, I had been discussing the question of seeking fresh markets for the product of this, our most important industry. Before continuing on that line, may I say that considerable disappointment is felt in the rural community at the failure of the Government to honour its promise of long term low interest loans. All that will be made available to the rural producer will be such amounts as are available at normal bank rates. This would seem to suggest that the rural producer has been conned in this matter and that loans which previously have been available through pastoral companies, banks and insurance companies will not be improved upon by legislation introduced by the present Government. I suppose that that figures in a sense because this Government has no genuine interest in rural affairs or in the man on the land for the simple reason that it is unable to win any seats which are truly rural seats.
There is one area in which, if the Government was sincere, it might be able to bring about a genuine benefit to wool growers in our community. As I mentioned last night, Dr J. F. Cairns has been tripping around China making various statements on foreign affairs and periodically referring to trade. He has returned to Australia with the story that an enormous market is to open to us, gradually at all events, in China. Whatever may be the case with respect to that claim, there is a far more significant and a far more important market which this Government should attempt to penetrate and for which the previous Administration has laid the ground rules.
For about 35 years - I cannot give the precise number of years at the moment - the wool grower of the United States of America has been protected by an enormous impost on imported greasy wool amounting to 25½c per lb. The previous Australian Administration began protracted negotiations with American authorities on that matter. This year, with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations being opened up and international trade talks beginning again in September, a good opportunity could well be provided for the new Government to show its bona fides in pressing if not for the abolition of this enormous impost - difficulties could arise with respect to GATT if that was done - for a substantial reduction in, or at least even a temporary suspension of, that impost, even if Australia had to give some quid pro quo. The value of such relief to the Australian wool producer would be infinitely greater than all the wool in China.
If anything, this underlines the very grave disadvantage to this country which results from the inability of our Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to secure an appointment with Mr Nixon when he visits Washington. That visit would provide an excellent opportunity for the Prime Minister to discuss this matter which is of paramount importance to our greatest industry. The Americans in the past have not shown themselves to be entirely inflexible. But one does not have to believe that they are a gang of philanthropists and philosophers because they may well want their quid pro quo.
In the past, there has been considerable discussion, as you would be aware, Sir, of the Australian tobacco industry as being the industry which should carry such a quid pro quo. Sir John McEwen and other Liberal-
Country Party administrators in the past virtually at one stage had reached an agreement whereby the Americans were prepared to reduce that impost of 25½c per lb on greasy wool to 12½c per lb. One does not need to be a great mathematician or to have the benefit of a computer in order–
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! The time allotted for all stages of these Bills having expired, I put the question: ‘That the Bills be now read a second time’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time.
Remaining stages of Bills agreed to.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide page 2014), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– These Bills are being dealt with together. Basically they relate to an extra provision being made for a previously not catered for section of the community, namely, supporting mothers. The Bills provide benefits under the social services legislation, the national health scheme and in relation to broadcasting and television licences for supporting mothers. The measures are supported by the Opposition. I wish at this stage to make it clear that the Opposition does nothing other than support the introduction of this desirable welfare legislation.
It is yet again an example of the advantage which is accruing to Australia as a result of the sound economic management by the Liberal-Country Party Government over a period of 23 years. Continual improvements in welfare legislation and the provision of added benefits to the community can be the product only of a community which is able to pay for them because the economy has been soundly managed and is able to stand the cost of the added benefits. As on previous occasions, I simply take the opportunity to issue the warning to the new Government that not only it is desirable that a government should provide, so far as it possibly can, benefits to all sections of the community which are deserving of them and which need them, but also it is desirable and in fact essential that the Government should see to the management of the economy to ensure that its growth will continue to be able to provide that type of assistance. In the 6 months or so of the new Government’s administration we have seen an attitude which makes one wonder for how long these benefits will be of real value unless the benefits are continually, almost every few months, increased. The rate of inflation which is becoming evident and which will certainly be exacerbated substantially as a result of the economic mismanagement of the new Government will erode the benefits as fast as they are provided.
I again warn the Government that its economic management of Australia is little short of disastrous. The gallup polls which have been revealing an increasing disillusionment with the Government are reflective of the concern of the average Australian with that type of management because it means that people’s savings are not worth as much as they are thought to be worth. The ability of people to provide for themselves has been eroded as a result of rapid inflation. Great concern is evident not only in the Opposition’s ranks, but also amongst the voting public of Australia.
I pause now to mention a matter in the National Health Bill. The Bill provides for a relatively small amendment to the Act for the provision of hearing aids to supporting mothers. This is part of the overall scheme of these Bills which are being dealt with together. The Bill provides for hearing aids to be made available for the sum of $10 to eligible persons. I take the opportunity to raise a matter that I raised with the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) by letter some time ago. I inquired whether he could assist by informing me what was considered to be a reasonable cost of hearing aids. 1 had received representations from a constituent in Tasmania who had said that to purchase a hearing aid inserted in a pair of spectacles appeared to cost an exorbitant sum. He feared that some racket might be operating and he asked me to inquire of the Government what was considered to be a reasonable cost for this type of service because the Government is concerned in the provision of hearing aids to eligible people. I was surprised to learn, in reply to my written represen tations, that the Government did not know, that it had made no inquiries as to the reasonable cost, and in effect it could not care less.
I find this attitude extraordinary in a government which has introduced prices justification legislation, which has proclaimed its concern to look after the interests of the consumer and which is responsible for the administration of the national health scheme in which hearing aids specifically are being paid for out of the public purse. I was given a reply which can be summed up in this way: We do not know and we do not care’. I raised this matter because if that is the way in which public money raised by taxing people all over Australia is being administered by this new Government, it is a disgrace. If there is some other explanation for the reply I received I would be delighted to hear it. If the Minister is able to supply some information in answer to the request I made originally about the cost of hearing aids in spectacles I would be glad to hear it. Has somebody cornered the market and is able to charge whatever he likes? Generally, what assistance can the Government give in relation to a reasonable price that a person who does not qualify for a hearing aid under the national health scheme must pay?
Another point I wish to make relates to the class of Bills with which we are dealing. If there is any suggestion that some of these Bills have been held up as a result of the Opposition’s activities I should like to draw attention to the fact that when the Bills were introduced into the House of Representatives the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) stated: 1 wish to say to the honourable gentleman-
That is the Minister handling the legislation in the other place - that the Opposition will support this legislation. We would not want to see the benefits deferred until the Budget session. Therefore, we will co-operate with the Government in order to give this Bill a quick passage throughout the Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition was speaking about the Social Services Bill (No. 3), one of the Bills which we are debating today. However, notwithstanding that statement by the Leader of the Opposition the Minister refused to go on with consideration of the legislation immediately. It could have been passed quickly, but it was held up. Admittedly this was for only a short period but it was held up.
I refer to the education Bills which we dealt with a few nights ago. They too were ready and could have been dealt with in less than an hour. In fact they had been ready for some 4 or 5 weeks. The Government knew that the Opposition would not oppose them. We proposed an amendment which the Government was prepared to accept. The amendment would not have caused any undue delay, and we of the Opposition were anxious to have the legislation disposed of just as we have been anxious to have the social services legislation passed through this House at the first opportunity. But the rearrangement of business has meant that the Government has been holding back matters which it knew could have a speedy passage, and has been substituting controversial matters for consideration by this chamber. That legislation is important and is supported by the Opposition. It could have been given speedy passage. One or two of the Bills could have been passed through each day without any problem.
I take this opportunity to refute the suggestion that the Opposition has been in any way holding up the passage of some legislation. I take the opportunity to point out also that this is not entirely unrelated to the general question of the amendments which have been moved by the Opposition and in respect of which there has been some discussion. It has been suggested that the Opposition is doing something extraordinary by moving amendments to some Bills. I simply remind honourable senators that in the February to June session last year when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office, 10 Bills were amended by this Senate as a result of the activities of the then Opposition, the now Government. In the August to October session last year 4 Bills were amended as a result of the activities of the then Opposition, the now Government. I also point to the fact that part of this whole campaign by the Government has been to reduce the debating time available to this chamber.
– We have been allowed 15 minutes for this Bill.
– For these 3 Bills. Far more importantly, I believe that the Government has not been prepared to answer questions. We have repeatedly seen the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) move to close off question time after one hour on a pretence that this is approximately the length of time which was allowed previously. I have taken out some statistics to see whether this is correct. In the last session, before the change of government, that is the August to October session in 1972, the average length of question time was 78 minutes, which is 18 minutes more than this new Government is prepared to allow us to ask questions of it in this chamber. In the February to June session last year a period of 80 minutes was allowed for question time, and in the August to December session of 1971 the period was 82 minutes. This suggestion that the length of question time being limited to an hour is normal is absolute and utter rubbish. It is untrue, and the figures available in the statistics published on behalf of the Senate indicate that that is so. Question time has been curtailed as a result of this Government’s refusal to permit us to conduct the sort of questioning which we as an Opposition believe that we aTe entitled to have. The Government is frightened to answer questions in the same way as it is frightened to permit a full debate to take place on matters which are contested.
I simply summarise by saying that I take the opportunity to mention those matters, whilst at the same time indicating that we support legislation which we agree is providing desirable benefits to people. But we reiterate our warning that the economic mismanagement of this country, if it continues at its present pace, will nullify the benefits being given. We support these 3 Bills.
– The Government appreciates the fact that the Opposition supports these measures. It is not my intention at this stage to reply to the political content of Senator Rae’s speech. The greater portion of the honourable senator’s time was spent in giving a dissertation on the present political situation in this chamber rather than on the contents of the Bills.
– The only reason is that I did not get any other opportunity to say it.
- Senator Rae can say it during the adjournment debate and other debates.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! I point out to you. Senator Rae, that I gave you considerable latitude when you were speaking and I do not like the interjection that you have just made.
Suffice it for me to say, Mr Acting Deputy President, that this is the third Social Services Bill introduced by this Government in this session in order to assist in ameliorating some of the difficult conditions under which so many Australians have lived for so long.
The only other matter on which I wish to touch briefly is the question regarding hearing aids to which Senator Rae alluded. 1 am given to understand by the Department of Health - and I have not been able to contact my colleague the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) about the correspondence that has been exchanged between Senator Rae and the Minister - that the cost of hearing aids provided privately, quite apart from those provided by the Government under the provisions of this legislation, are at great variance throughout different parts of Australia. For that reason it is difficult to obtain a precise costing of the hearing aids that are provided by private people. However, I will pursue that matter further with my colleague the Minister for Health. 1 appreciate the fact that the Opposition has not opposed these measures. Indeed, it has said that it supports them. I suggest that the measures should go through the relevant stages.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– I should like to direct a question to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) regarding clauses 3 and 4 of the Broadcasting and Television Bill. According to the explanatory notes which were handed out by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) in another place, the Broadcasting and Television Bill deals only with the question of licences for certain pensioners - a matter with which the Opposition is in full agreement. However, clauses 3 and 4 provide that the remuneration of the Chairman and members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall be fixed by the Parliament. I ask the Minister whether any action has been taken regarding the fixation of this set of salaries because I think - I am not quite sure of this, I am speaking from memory - that the salaries of these men and women were before the Senate last year. I would be glad if the Minister could give me some information regarding those 2 matters.
– Order! The time allotted for all stages of the Bills having expired, I put the question that the Bills be agreed to.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I simply seek the co-operation of the Government in extending the time for this debate - the Government indicated that it would be prepared to do so - so that that question may be answered. It seemed to be a reasonable question which could be shortly answered.
– I am quite happy-
– Order! The situation is that we are in Committee and the time allotted for this debate by the Senate has expired. I believe that only the Senate can alter the timetable.
– I ask the Minister to supply that answer when the motion for the third reading of the Bills is put.
– We will deal with that matter when we move back into the Senate. I put the question that the Bills be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills reported without amendment.
Adoption of Report
– I move:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! The time allotted for all stages of the Bills having expired, I now put the question that the remaining stages be agreed to.
Acting Deputy President, I seek leave of the Senate to answer briefly the matters raised by Senator Hannan during the Committee stage.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Senator Hannan raised 2 short matters at the Committee stage. He referred firstly to clause 3 of the Broadcasting and Television Bill. I am advised that the index to the Parts in section 5 of the principal Act is being amended in order to include new Part IVaaa to provide for the new supporting mothers’ benefits. I might add that this Bill came on at a time earlier than I thought it would come on. The advising officers were expecting it to come on at 2.30 p.m. Therefore I have not been able to provide detailed information. I will do so at the earliest opportunity. I refer now to the amendment to the Broadcasting and Television Act relating to the salaries of the Chairman and the other full time members of the Broadcasting Control Board. This matter is set out in the second reading speech where I pointed out that the Government is taking the opportunity to amend the Act in respect of the rates of remuneration payable to the Chairman and the full time members of the Broadcasting Control Board and to the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The rates of remuneration are fixed by sections 11 and 43 for the Chairman and other full time members of the Control Board and for the General Manager of the ABC. They have been superseded by rates fixed by the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1973 which received the royal assent on 1 April 1973. This provision is for the purpose of bringing those rates up to date in the existing Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave- I wish to make a brief statement in respect of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. The Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has resolved to make a statement to the Senate on two of the matters referred to it by the Senate in the previous session which were not disposed of by the Committee. I deal firstly with the repatriation reference. The Committee anticipates that it will make a report to the Senate early in the Budget session arising from the reference relating to ‘all aspects of Repatriation including the operation of the Repatriation Act’.
The report will cover all facets of the Repatriation Act but the Committee has resolved that unless the Senate otherwise directs, it will not proceed upon a consideration of these particular matters:
I now deal with the question of national superannuation. The Committee has not proceeded with the reference relating to ‘the introduction of a National Superannuation Scheme and the methods of financing and operating such a scheme’ because of its concentration upon the reference relating to repatriation. The Committee has now noted the appointment by the Government of a National Superannuation Committee of Inquiry with terms of reference similar to those which the Committee received from the Senate, and has resolved that, unless the Senate otherwise directs, the Committee will not proceed with that reference and will re-consider this view following the receipt of the Government Committee’s report.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 2112), on motion by Senator MURPHY:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1973 is not a complex Bill. It seeks to amend section 88 of the Public Service Act. The Opposition welcomes the amendment to the Act made by the Bill. The amendment relates to situations in which the holder of a public service office who is required to exercise and perform powers and functions under some Act or regulation is absent and it becomes necessary for another person to act temporarily in the office. Current procedure under section 88 requires a direction in writing under the Public Service Act and Regulations for a person to act in the office and also a direction from the Governor-General in respect of the statutory powers and functions, even though those statutory powers and functions form part of the duties of the office. The Opposition agrees that the procedures will be simplified if the officer who holds a direction under the Public Service Act is able to perform without specific direction of the
Governor-General. We welcome this amendment and agree that the updating of the schedules is opportune and timely in the interests of government procedure.
I take this opportunity to make a comment with regard to a matter which was raised during the hearings of one of the Senate Estimates Committees. It deals with the relativity between the position of Secretary of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and positions in the Committee Secretariat of the Parliament. Because a reply from the officer of ‘the Public Service Board was not available to members of the Senate Estimates Committee, I take this opportunity to recall the matter that 1 raised and the response that has been received from the Office of the Public Service Board. I raised the matter of the classification of the position of Secretary of the Joint Committee. The response has been to advise that this classification has been reviewed on 2 occasions in recent years. The letter from the Public Service Board states:
In 1969 the position was reclassified from clerical administrative Class 9 to Class 10. It was again reviewed in 1972 when the Board advised the President of the Senate of Its view, based on the normal classification tests applied to positions in the clerical/ administrative area of the Service generally, that the duties and responsibilities of the position did not warrant classification above Class 10.
During the hearing of the Senate Estimates Committee I sought to have clarified how this classification compared in relativity with the classifications of other officers of the Parliament, principally those in the Committee secretariats. The reply continues:
The staffing arrangements In the Committee Secretariats of both House Departments were reviewed earlier in 1973. The Board advised, again on the basis of normal classification tests, that positions of Clerks of Committees should be reclassified from Class 9 to Class 10, and that two positions (one in each of the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives) of Senior Clerk of Committees should be reclassified from Class 10 to Class 11. The Chairman of the Board indicated to the Presiding Officers at that time that, in the Board’s view the position of Secretary, Joint Committee of Public Accounts was not equal to the co-ordinating Senior Committee Secretary positions located in each House Department - I have indicated already that those positions have been assessed at Class II - and its classification at the Class 10 level was therefore still considered appropriate.
I do not seek to dispute the experience of the Public Service Board when recalling this reply to my question during the hearing of the Senate Estimates Committee. I am simply using this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts has its senior officer classified at a level lower than that which is held by the senior clerk of the committees of the Parliament. As stated in the Public Accounts Committee Act, the duties of the Committee are to examine the accounts of receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth and report to both Houses of Parliament with such comment as it thinks fit any items or matters in the accounts, statements, reports, and so on. It can be seen that the Committee has quite responsible duties. I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the classification of the officer of this Committee and suggest that if this Committee is to fulfil the duties which I am sure the Parliament would expect it to fulfil, perhaps a further review of that classification could be undertaken in the interests of the Parliament 1 would want to feel that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts serves the Parliament In doing that, the staffing arrangements for the provision of assistance to the members of the Committee should be regarded as important, and this particular position needs a classification that will make it attractive as a career position to responsible public servants of the Commonwealth.
While speaking on matters of Public Service interest, it was of note to read today that the Commonwealth Public Service wage bill is expected to rise $63m in the next financial year. I was also interested to read that the Federal Government’s planned expansion is expected to take the bill to $ 1,334m. The wage bill for this financial year should be about $l,271m. This, in itself, represents an increase of $27m on last year’s figure when the previous Government was putting the brakes on the growth of the Public Service. If these present estimates are correct, it will mean that the rise in expenditure in the next 2 years will be about $90m in the cost of the Public Service to our Government administration. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has eased the restrictions on growth in Public Service recruiting. We will find that there will be a 4 per cent growth in this next year. The previous Government set a target growth of about 3 per cent for the year 1972-73. But already this has been disregarded by the new Government with the formation of new departments and a new form of administration. It seems that there will be an increase in the Public Service of almost 10,000 next year.
I draw attention to that in the interests of our economic position at present and of our conscious approach to the restriction of expenditure particularly in the public sector.
I also refer to a report today of a development in the new Department of Urban and Regional Development. I read that there has been protracted discussion between the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and the Public Service Board, that 6 months after the formation of the new Department the Minister still has not a full complement of staff and that the Department is not functioning in the way in which the Government has envisaged. I also read that there is a classification for staff which will give this Department a staff structure of 300. 1 draw attention to this, in the interests of the growth of the Public Service to which I have referred, and because of the responsibility which a government must take for the creation of new departments, for rationalising the structure of other departments and for using the Service in the best interests of good government. I feel that these are matters which relate to the Public Service Board, to government’s relations with the Public Service Board and to the way in which we see government being conducted at present.
In drawing attention to these matters I am not disputing the independence of the Public Service Board or its experience, but simply relate these matters to the Bill which is the subject of consideration, particularly as the Public Service Bill (No. 2) seeks to streamline a section of the Act in the interests of good administration. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. I feel that these amendments are appropriate and timely.
– in reply - I thank Senator Guilfoyle for her contribution to the debate. It is quite clear that over the years a number of anomalies have grown up in the administration of the Public Service. I am aware of some of these anomalies, one or two of which are quite absurd. I refer to certain matters which have to be dealt with by the Governor-General in Council. For example, I think it is in the Department of Customs and Excise, when certain vacancies are filled permanently the appointment is made within the Department. But if the officer becomes sick or goes on annual leave, the appointment for the temporary period of a few days or a few weeks has to be made by the GovernorGeneral in Council. That is quite an absurdity. That is being attended to. This kind of absurdity occurs in other departments and it ought to be cleaned up. Instructions have been given to the Parliamentary Counsel to be vigilant to see that this does not creep into Bills and to endeavour, when an Act is being amended, to take those absurd provisions out of the enactments.
I deal now with Senator Guilfoyle’s comments about what happens in the Parliament. My understanding is that generally the President and the Speaker carry out the functions which otherwise would be carried out by the Public Service Board. They can get advice from the Board but it seems that in large measure their authority is eroded because, however the processes of government seem to work, at a later stage unless the Public Service Board agrees to what is being done it manages to undo what the President in his sphere or the Speaker in his sphere or both in the joint sphere want to do. The attitude has been cultivated sedulously that there is a Department of the Senate and a Department of the House of Representatives and that they are just the same as any other department of state, whereas they are not. They are not part of the Public Service. This was discussed in the chamber some years ago in an endeavour to make clear that the Parliament was not part of the Public Service. However much that might be said in the Parliament, members of Parliament come and go and the Public Service remains not only independent but dominant.
I hope that during her time here Senator Guilfoyle will be as vigilant as she obviously is now about some of these questions because quite clearly there is a necessity for this Parliament - I would think for each House and for both Houses jointly - to insist that Parliament is not run as a mere appendage of the Commonwealth Public Service. It is bad enough for the Ministers to be put to some extent in that position. I do not refer to any change of government because, as we know, its effect is only superficial. The large part of government is run by the Public Service and will no doubt continue to be run by it. Some of that is necessary; it is necessary that that be done. But in the areas of policy, certainly the wishes of the Government of the day ought to be given effect to. Certainly the Parliament ought to be detached from the Public
Service. I think that the sooner the theory, which is implied, of the President and the Speaker acting in lieu of the Public Service Board is translated into reality the better for the Parliament and the nation. I think it is certainly the wish of the Presiding Officers that they be able to carry out what they want to do. Probably slight amendments to the law are needed to give effect to that and to ensure that there is real independence of the Parliament. Perhaps some attention may be given to that as well as to the other remarks made by the honourable senator. I thank the Senate for the way in which it has received the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I rise to express my disappointment that the Minister did not advert in his reply to what I thought was the most important observation which fell from Senator Guilfoyle who led for the Opposition, namely, that the total salaries for the Public Service will amount to $l,338m which, if my memory is right, represents an increase of 200 per cent in cost over the last 10 years. Could I have some information, either in confirmation or in contradiction of that?
– Senator Wright spoke of a 200 per cent increase in 10 years. Did that take into account increases in staff which occurred under the Liberal -Country Party administration during 9½ years of those 10 years?
– I am not introducing politics into the debate.
– I am. Did he mean that the increases in costs, wages and so on caused by the inflation which occurred mostly during the Liberal-Country Party administration has meant a doubling of cost? I cannot say, but I assume that is probably right. It is what has been occurring in the States and in most other parts of the world.
– Not a doubling; a trebling.
– Well, a trebling. Perhaps more significant are the figures cited by the honourable senator as the increase in cost of the Public Service expected for the first year of the Labor administration. I thought that, in the light of the fact that the Australian Labor Party is introducing great changes, is introducing new departments to deal with the environment, tourism and other matters, and is extending the area of government operations a great deal, the increases she mentioned were quite moderate. They were not very large.I think the highest was some 4 per cent.
First of all let us consider the increase in population in Australia which, as I understand it, is 2 per cent to 3 per cent per annum. If we are tending towards a greater population one woul d expect a comparable increase in the Public Service. The new administration says that the Federal Government should be involved in more activity. One would expect that to be an additional factor. Another factor would be increases caused by inflation, which is reflected in the increased wages bill and the cost of other supplies. One would expect all of these to amount to a sizable increase. As Senator Guilfoyle was citing the figures it seemed to me that they were quite modest. In fact she probably put the matter on a fairly moderate basis. I have not had time to give this detailed consideration but I think that, taking the factors involved, it would probably turn out to be a little more than that. I am open to correction - I was listening to the honourable senator when she cited the figures - but I think that they represented a rather moderate increase in amount.
– I ask leave to make one comment in reply?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wilkinson) - Will it be a short comment, Senator Wright?
– Yes, 2 sentences. It amazes me to think that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) can use the expression moderation’ when he should realise that farmers’ incomes throughout Australia have been reduced by 30 per cent over the same period.
– Senator Wright suggests that because some incomes have been reduced the Government should reduce its expenditure. I thought that theory had been exploded. The last man in Australia to espouse the theory which the honourable senator is putting was Sir Otto Neimeyer who said that once you start to have a depressive situation, certainly throughout industry, the remedy is to cut government expenditure. The honourable senator would have very few supporters for his theory for conducting the economy which is that, if there is any kind of a slipping back in industry, one starts to cut expenditure. The whole of experience since those dreadful days is the very contrary to that argument advanced by the honourable senator.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 2113), on motions by Senator Murphy:
That theBills be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I take if that these Bills are being debated conjointly?
– The Opposition supports these Bills. They are inter-related. The amendment to the Evidence Act is necessitated because of the change which has been made in the Acts Interpretation Act by this legislation. Three things are achieved by the amendments. The first is the alteration of the definition and description of ‘magistrate’ in the Acts Interpretation Act. This has been brought about because of an arrangement which was entered into last year between the Attorneys-General of Tasmania and the Commonwealth under which the Commonwealth agreed to pass suitable legislation acknowledging that Tasmania was changing the description of ‘stipendiary magistrate’ to ‘magistrate’. So this is a machinery measure giving effect to something which has occurred in Tasmania. It is appropriate that the Commonwealth Parliament should make this amendment.
The second change is to clarify what has been a matter of some doubt and which could give rise to doubts in the future. That is the description of the Commonwealth in relation to the Territories. If in legislation one finds the expression ‘the Commonwealth’ so that under the Constitution the laws made by the Parliament are to apply in every part of the Commonwealth, does that include the external territories as well as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory? This is a matter which has not really caused problems. The draftsman can easily overcome the problem by a suitable form of words. This Bill makes it clear that, if at any stage in the future when ‘the Commonwealth’ is used in a geographic sense, it shall include the internal territories but it shall not include the external territories, and special reference will have to be made to include the external territories in the scope of a Bill. This proposal appears to be sensible and the Opposition does not oppose it.
The third proposal contained in the Bill is the change of the name of the ‘Commonwealth of Australia Gazette’ to the ‘Australian Gazette’. We have noticed in this surge forward to a new nationalism with which the Australian Labor Party is seeking to associate itself, there has been a change in description in a number of areas. I understand that it is no longer ‘the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia’; it is ‘the Australian Parliament’. The Attorney-General is no longer the Commonwealth Attorney-General’; he is the Australian Attorney-General’. Of course the ‘Commonwealth of Australia Gazette’ will become the ‘Australian Gazette’. These changes represent a type of philosophy with which the Opposition finds no cause to disagree, though one wonders very much how effective or pointed they are in giving expression to a nationalism. Nevertheless, as I have said, the Opposition recognises that this is the way the Government desires to have its nomenclature and accordingly there is no basis for expressing any sound ground of opposition to it. The Opposition supports both Bills.
– in reply - We thank the Opposition for its expression of support for the Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 2113).
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 2115), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Opposition does not oppose either of these Bills but there are some matters which relate to them to which I wish to refer. The Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill seeks to grant to female officers and employees at least 12 weeks maternity leave on full pay. This leave is granted to them irrespective of whether they were pregnant or not when first employed by the Government. The arrangement for leave would be that 6 weeks leave could be taken before the expected date of confinement and 6 weeks leave taken after the birth of the child. This grant of 12 weeks leave on full pay the Government has classed as maternity leave for Australian Government employees. There are other provisions within the Bill which allow a Government employee to take other leave, sometimes from accumulated leave or from accumulated sick leave up to 52 weeks at the time of the birth of the child. A condition is that the female employee must be re-employed in her previous position or in a position at a level as near as possible to the position held by her at the commencement of maternity leave.
A further provision is that temporary employees will be given preference for employment over any other persons who are seeking temporary employment if they are seeking to be re-engaged after leave which has resulted from confinement. These provisions have been applied retrospectively from 1 January 1973 and the Bill replaces the existing provisions under section 54b of the
Public Service Act which providedfor absence from duty for up to 26 weeks for permanent officers only. This leave previously was granted without pay and was a matter for re-employment benefits rather than for a salary to be paid during the time of the leave. The cost of this proposal is expected to be approximately$3.3m in a year. I want to refer to the attitude of the Government in this matter because it does give the impression that the granting of these maternity leave provisions has fulfilled somehow the promise to the women of Australia that this Government understands the situation in which women see themselves in this time of social change while it seeks to give a discriminatory benefit to only those women who are employees within the Commonwealth Government instrumentalities.
The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) when introducing the Bill said that it implemented the promise in the Prime Minister’s policy speech with regard to the International Labour Organisation protection conventions. I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that this proposal in no way implements the provisions of the ILO protection conventions. It certainly might within very limited terms adopt the convention that a period of 12 weeks leave should be applied as maternity leave but because this is applied to Commonwealth Government employees only and in view of the fact that the Minister in his second reading speech said that if this matter came before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for flow-on to private industry the Government would be prepared to intervene and officially oppose the application, this Bill falls very far short of any of the intentions of the ILO conventions. I refer particularly to article 4 of Convention No. 103 of the International Labour Organisation which provides:
The Government has completely misrepresented the 1LO convention in the statement of the Minister that this particular Bill did implement the convention. I pose the question: How does the Government see itself to be implementing something which is to be an elimination of discrimination when under this particular Bill it gives a higher benefit to women who receive a high salary and a lower benefit to women who receive a low salary and no benefit at all to those women who are not employed by the Commonwealth Public Service? I also pose the question: If we are talking about maternity leave or maternity allowances on a national basis who should bear the cost? Should it be society as a whole or should it be the industry where the women are employed or should it be part of the whole social service pattern so that some maternity benefit is paid to all women who have a maternity condition and who have the responsibility of the expenses of confinement and other matters related to the birth of the child? Should there not be a benefit to all mothers whether part of the work force or not? Is not this part of the convention which we would want to adopt dealing with discrimination against women? This brings us to the broader question of the social change which has occurred in almost every country and which is particularly noticeable in Australia at the present time.
The fact that so many more Australian women are now seeking to combine employment with their role of motherhood and home maker has brought us to the need for revision of many of our attitudes and to the stage where there will need to be a revision of many of what have been our conventions in this area. If we are talking about the way in which a woman should have the freedom of choice to exercise whether she wishes to be wholly engaged as a home maker or to combine this with some career for her own fulfilment and for a national contribution to our economy, we need to consider that perhaps Government assistance will be required in the form of incentives to employers to provide more flexibility in hours and types of services in which women may work. Above all, we need accelerated action by Government in the provision of adequate child care facilities for those children of working mothers who are part of the mainstream of our employment pattern at present.
We repeatedly hear about the higher percentages of women who are engaged m the work force. We have all sorts of statistics to show us how many more of these women are married and who have children of pre-school age, yet it has been some years since the first Gorton proposal, that the Government would create child care facilities for the children of working mothers was announced. I know that steps have been taken in this concept but I am a little concerned that they have not been taken as rapidly as the social pattern of Australia would show, because hundreds of thousands of pre-school children of working mothers are at present without adequate or ideal child care facilities. This is something which I thought would have been related by the Government to this Bill when the Government referred to the implementation of an ILO convention.
This again brings me to ask another matter. When we hear all of these statistics about women who are in the work force in Australia, we really do have to ask: Where are they at the top level in our professions and in our commercial activity? It is all very well to talk of increasing numbers, but unless we say: Where are they at the top level’, we would have to accept that undoubtedly, there has existed discrimination. There has been lack of opportunity for women to find the range of occupation which their capacity would have allowed them to reach. If they are not yet at the top level in their chosen professions, whatever employment they have sought, we must then take up the point that was made at the end of the Minister’s speech when introducing the Bill, when he said that these women would be making a contribution because they had had the facilities of education. If we regard education and training as a national investment, surely we should allow the aspirations which will flow from that to reach the top level in all of the chosen professions of the women of Australia.
There undoubtedly has existed in the past a social, sexual, psychological and political discrimination against women. Perhaps the activist women’s organisations of Australia are pointing somewhat militantly at present to this discrimination. There have been gaps in opportunity for women and the fulfilment of women’s aspirations has not yet been reached. I would like to think that this Government or any government in Australia would see the whole question of women, their opportunities, the facilities for them to fulfil their professional careers and the ideal way in which the family structure should be protected, as part of a whole national institution and not one in which a single Bill is sought to give a discriminatory benefit only to those women who are Commonwealth Government employees and then to have, as a rider to that, the fact that the Government would intervene if this principle were to be introduced in the ordinary, commercial sense.
I would have to support a Bill that gave any benefits to women in their employment situation, but I question the way in which this Bill gives a handout only to the women of Australia who are in the Commonwealth Public Service and discriminates against those who are in other commercial employment. In the limited time which has been allowed for discussing what is a big national question, I again have to ask the question: Why should one area of our work force have a benefit which is to be refused to others? Should we really not be asking who should bear the cost of what should be a national policy in order to allow women to have their right of choice in the future, namely, whether they combine their role of motherhood with a career which they may wish to pursue. I support both of these Bills but I have the reservations which I mentioned.
– I rise to refer to this Bill because I think it is a Bill that should have been opposed. It amounts to a special privilege for women in the Commonwealth Public Service solely because the Government has a focus as narrow as its own
Service and ample moneys to provide unlimited salaries and compensation for public servants. The Government probably has not turned to its powers in the field of social services where, for long since - I think, since the original Constitution - it has had the power to provide maternity allowances. The idea of giving 3 months salary for maternity in the Public Service and denying any maternity allowance to the wives of farmers, of workers in industry, of people in commerce and in the State public services is, as Senator Guilfoyle has pointed out, a harsh discriminatory measure. Those who are denied this maternity allowance as a social service measure are the taxpayers who are being fleeced to provide it. These unique provisions and these extraordinary privileges are being granted to persons simply by virtue of the fact that they are on the Commonwealth payroll for the period due to maternity.
I rise to protest against this harsh discriminatory idea in favour of Government employees. I think that it shows in a sharp focus the point of view of this Government whereby it seeks out to take the employee replationship and abuse it at every stage that it can. When it has control over that employee relationship, just because it is the collector of the huge tax masses that it is collecting in Australia and because it employs these people, it gives public servants a privilege and forgets the wives of the farmers, the industrial workers, the school teachers and public servants in the States and everybody else. The Government forgets all but the female employee in the Commonwealth Public Service who, from a variety of circumstances - this Bill covers the lot - has the experience of maternity. I could think of nothing more potent than this Bill to point the minds of the people of Australia to how exclusively this Government is focusing its attention upon the employee relationship. The Government cannot rid itself of the prejudice that it has in relation to employment. It seeks to grant privileges to people just because they are in the employ of the Commonwealth, but it will find that the great mass of people who are not Commonwealth employees will develop a disapproval of sectional legislation of such a unique character as this.
– I echo the sentiments expressed by Senator Guilfoyle and Senator Wright in relation to this matter.
I realise that in this instance the Government has a right to bring in this type of legislation. I congratulate it for recognising its capacity to deliver to the women in the Commonwealth service the benefit of 3 months’ leave as for their maternity requirements. 1 appeal to the Acting Minister for Labour (Senator Bishop) to recognise what the situation will be when this benefit naturally flows into other areas of the economy. Firstly, it is obvious that the Government is interested - as is the Opposition - in attempting to have some of the escalating costs of the production of goods and services held as much as possible. I mention to the Minister that this is one matter which will certainly add a percentage to the cost bill of any industry. That cost bill will vary according to the percentage of females employed. For instance, in the clothing trade and in one or two other areas, such as in private industry in the retail trade, there will be an enormous burdett when the flow-on occurs, as it must. If the Commonwealth Public Service has this benefit in 1973, it is obvious that it will be forced on to the various State public services within the next year. Bank officials will apply for the same requirements and insurance officers will follow. I do not doubt that in areas where some unions think an industry is able to stand an expense of this type, it will be forced on to that industry.
In short, within a few years we will see this required of employers not only by the female personnel but also by the male personnel of their staffs. They will have to be prepared to provide approximately $1,200 to the most menial female employee if she becomes pregnant. That amount represents an average 3 months’ wage bill, with health assurance and insurance costs. This is a very substantial figure which will have to be met. I had the benefit of talking to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) about this matter. 1 thought he was very sympathetic to the proposition which I put to him, that at this coming Budget or certainly within the very near future the Government of the day, of whatever complexion it may be, should seek an early opportunity to introduce this payment as a social service benefit. It should be freely available to every employee and it should be paid for out of the public purse. This is something which will have to follow. It is not a fair burden for the Government to be casting this obligation on private industry. I ask the Minister to take this into account and perhaps comment on it when he is replying to this Bill.
– in reply - I thank honourable senators opposite for their comments in relation to this Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill and their indication that they will not oppose it, although Senator Wright said that he believed that the proposition should be opposed. I shall speak about the point of view which he took which was that we are deciding matters which are purely of social consequence in relation to an employee and employer relationship. The simple answer to that is that in relation to an International Labour Organisation Convention such as this the Government has taken an initiative in respect of its own employees. We have taken the initiative because we promised to do so. As everybody knows, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his policy speech stated:
For our own employees we will apply the International Labour Organisation Protection Conventions going back to 1919 which guarantee women leave with full pay and benefits for 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after confinement.
This is the first point I want to make. The second point is the conflict between Senator Wright and Senator Webster. Senator Webster raised what is obviously a very pertinent question as to whether the Government ought not to consider the question of providing this social service benefit to all women in this situation. After all, there is a complete liability on a Commonwealth Government for whatever funds are necessary. In relation to the present proposal the Government has a liability as a Commonwealth Government to provide funds for those women who would be employees of the Commonwealth Government and who would be entitled to the benefit. But I agree that there is substance in Senator Webster’s contention. It is certainly a matter about which the Government must think.
There was also a trend to introduce into the debate what was done in the other place and to say: ‘Yes, we think the principle is good but, anyway, it is highly inflationary’. Of course it can be inflationary. That seems to me to be the main concern of the Opposition. That was the main concern of the shadow Minister in the other place. He said that whilst the Opposition would not oppose the Bill, the proposition was mostly inflationary because it would apply to everyone as the Commonwealth
Government had applied it to its employees. This could be a campaign point. It could be a proposition advanced by unions and people in outside industry. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Government have made it clear that we are introducing this scheme because, firstly, we think it is an obligation. We think that the sensible thing is to do this in the way that we are proposing. We certainly will not support any moves for people to incorporate this benefit in an award. The question of what the States and employers in outside industry will do is one which has to be faced in the general context of social welfare legislation.
About all I can say in relation to this proposition and obligation is that we have, as everybody knows, a comprehensive approach to all social service questions. We have policies under way in relation to national health, social security and national superannuation. We have also policies in relation to wider forms of compensation. They have been advanced in recent debates in this place. I make the point here that every time we say we are moving towards these matters the Opposition says: ‘If you do these things great inflationary trends will be imposed upon the community*. I come to my interpretation of Senator Guilfoyle’s proposition. She canvassed in a very sensible, quiet and studied contribution the matters which arise when one reads the Convention as to whether public funds ought to be used to provide this benefit universally. She referred to article 4 of the Convention of the International Labour Organisation. This certainly poses an issue which any government which wants to implement the Convention has to consider. Article 4, paragraph 1 states:
While absent from work on maternity leave in accordance with the provisions of Article 3, the woman shall be entitled to receive cash and medical benefits.
That raises the wide theme to which I have replied: The Government at some stage has to consider to what extent not only in the State sphere but also in the Federal sphere public moneys have to be used to provide this sort of scheme. In relation to our own employees at this stage we can take the initiative. I referred to this only last night. In the first instance we should take the initiative to provide the scheme for Commonwealth employees. In the other place there was no objection to the adoption of this proposition. At this stage there is no real objection to it. The issues raised by Senator Guilfoyle certainly need consideration and we will consider them. I understand the point she was making, that once this benefit is provided we have to ask ourselves the question: ‘Is this a discrimination between the high wage earners and the low wage earners?’ All I say in answer to that is that our social programs have been greatly criticised by some sectional interests outside - I refer to the doctors, of course - and by some in this place as being inflationary. This encompasses the sort of proposition which Senator Guilfoyle put in her contribution. It was certainly a good contribution from a woman’s angle. I understood Senator Wright’s contribution to be not so constructive. He did not oppose the way we have approached the matter. He said that in his opinion this scheme should be opposed.
– General equity.
– What we are doing now is fulfilling a commitment to the public. It is a commitment which has been announced. It is a commitment to our employees. It will be funded by the Commonwealth Government. I suggest to Senator Wright that if he had listened to Senator Guilfoyle he also would accept her proposition. Any such scheme is dependent upon the allocation of public funds. The New South Wales Government already provides to its employees the benefits that we are now seeking to provide. I think that sums up the issues that have arisen. The Government is grateful to the Opposition for not opposing this proposition. It is a proposition which has been welcomed not only by those who will benefit from it but also, as may have been noticed from a reading of the Press of the country, by a section of the community as being the sort of benefit that we should be providing. The issues Senator Guilfoyle has raised have been left for further consideration by the Government. I thank honourable senators for their support of the proposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– I understand that a salary benefit of 3 months will be the entitlement of a young woman in the Public Service who is pregnant at the time she enters the Public Service. Could 1 be informed whether my understanding to that effect is correct?
– The answer to Senator Wright’s question is yes. In my opinion that will meet the obligations imposed by the International Labour Organisation Convention.
– In that case, may I ask whether the application forms filled in by people seeking to join the Public Service in future will include the question asked of females: Are you pregnant?
– That form of inquisition is nazism.
– I just want to know whether any information will be sought with regard to such a subject and whether an applicant’s privacy in that respect is to be invaded.
– The answer is clearly no.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Repatriation and Acting Minister for Labour (Senator Bishop) to clause 6 of the Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill, which seems to be the operative part of the Bill. Drawing upon his gynaecological knowledge, can the Minister tell me what would be the effect of this provision in the case of, let us say, a first confinement which is 2 to 4 weeks late? Would that period be added to the 3 months allowed? Clause 6 (1) (b) seems to deal only with those cases where the confinement occurs a little earlier than expected. Perhaps the Minister can answer that question.
– The answer is yes.
– So, instead of getting 3 months maternity leave, such a female employee would get 4 months maternity leave. The other point is rather trumpery. The Bill refers to ‘a female employee who has become pregnant’. Does the Minister know of any other type of employee who could become pregnant?
– The honourable senator may direct his attention to the clause he is referring to.
– Why the emphasis on females’ and ‘pregnancy’?
– That is the point. Do we have to spell out these things. 1 leave the matter at that.
Bills agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Senator Bishop) together read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 2117) on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At present the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is limited in a number of respects in its operations. It has to confine its operations to the development of water resources, the generation and transmission of electricity and underground works. Further, the Corporation has been unable to operate strictly in its own right and has had to operate through a private consulting engineering firm. It cannot undertake other forms of construction work in Australia, except work done for the Commonwealth or a State authority. The purpose of the Bill is to expand the work of the Corporation to allow it to engage in engineering work in Australia and overseas and to allow it to operate in its own right without any essential tie-up with any other private consulting engineers.
The Corporation also will be able to enter into agreements with other parties to perform certain works. The Bill also proposes that certain categories of work may be undertaken by the Corporation without referral of the matter to the responsible Minister for his permission. New borrowing powers are to be granted to the Corporation in line with provisions applicable to other instrumentalities, such as the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. However, the Corporation must seek the permission of the Minister to acquire or dispose of property of a value in excess of $100,000 or if it seeks to enter into agreeements to provide services value of which exceeds $100,000. The Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) indicated quite clearly in the House of Representatives that private consultants now engaged in this kind of work had nothing to fear from the expansion of the scope of the Corporation. The Opposition - both the Liberal and Country Parties - in the House of Representatives supported the BilL So does the Opposition in the Senate.
I just want to say that I hope that the Corporation will continue to expand in sensible directions, as it has in the past; that its fine record of work both in Australia and overseas will continue; that it will be able to operate in the context of the consultant engineering field, both in Australia and overseas, freely and openly with others engaged in the field; that it will have neither an advantage over the private consultant engineering sector nor be disadvantaged by it; that it will contribute towards the general pool of knowledge and skill and will work equally and fairly in what I call the market place scene for such work: that it will not be given directions by governments to take on more work than it can sensibly handle; that work will be freely available to both the Corporation and the private sector; and that the Corporation and the private sector will work together sensibly in the development of Australia’s great resources. As I have said, the Opposition in the House of Representatives, which is the chamber where the Bill originated, did not oppose the Bill. Accordingly the members of the Liberal Party in the Senate have adopted the same attitude.
– The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill is a measure of some importance. The Opposition, particularly the Australian Country Party, sees it as being a Bill which puts forward the philosophy of the socialist Labor Government that the work of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation should be expanded. The Corporation has been a valuable instrument to Australia throughout its lifetime, lt was established for the purpose of supplying power, which it has done. Its work has since expanded to encompass one or two other fields. When the work which was initially set for this body was completed the previous Government decided that it should maintain a role in those areas where it had obtained expertise. At the time when there was some discussion as to the role which the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation should play the States were consulted as to whether the Corporation’s services would be of use to them in the work that they had to perform. My State, of Victoria has its own excellent Public Works Department, and it indicated to the Commonwealth Government that except in relation to specific types of work - I think the type of work mentioned at the time was tunnel- 14507/7*-s_o2) ling - it was capable of doing its own engineering work. I believe that is the situation today.
However, the Australian Labor Party has been quite quick in presenting to the Parliament the proposition - perhaps it may be said that a Party with a socialist platform has a right to introduce such a proposition into the Federal parliamentary sphere - that the reorganised body will take over, as I see it, much of the large constructional engineering work in Australia. The amendments contained in the. Bill which is before the Senate vary the rights of the Corporation and give it liberty to expand its activities in many areas. I believe that any work in an area of activity which requires professional competence is generally done better by private industry than by a government instrumentality.
Honourable sentators will note that there is no provision in this Bill which calls for the Corporation to make a profit on the work it does. From my experience of the various works undertaken by the Corporation, both in South-East Asia and in Australia 1 know that the Corporation creates competition between instrumentalities and private firms in Australia. 1 believe that that situation will continue. 1 am not one who argues that competition is not healthy. Indeed, I think it is healthy in certain areas. I think that in some areas Commonwealth instrumentalities can cope with work with which perhaps private industry is not able to cope. But, like the previous speaker, Senator Cotton, I hope that the Government will see fit to take every opportunity to maintain in Australia those private organisations which are efficient.
I notice that in the Minister’s second readingspeech there is some mention that the Corporation will be used to carry out some of the work required by the Pipeline Authority. The Minister does not say whether it will be doing consulting work, actual engineering work or constructional work. However, I believe that the socialist philosophy of the Government will ensure that in actual fact the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will do much of this work. I believe it would be much better if the Federal Government called for tenders for the various jobs and got them under way in the most efficient businesslike manner possible.
My main concern is to ensure that we maintain the services of private consultants in this country. When the Liberal-Country Party
Government was in office I found it necessary on a number of occasions to press the case that private consultants were perhaps not being used as much as they should be. The former Minister for Works, Senator Wright, will recall that he put down statements in the Senate in which he indicated the great use that he at least thought the Department of Works was making of private consultants. That was a matter of some credit to the former Government. I only hope that the Labor Government will see fit to utilise to the full the great engineering expertise that we have in Australia. I should repeat that at least one of the private engineering consulting firms in Australia is amongst the leading engineering consulting firms in the world. It is larger than most consulting bodies in the United Kingdom and larger than most private engineering consultant bodies in the United States of America.
The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is something of which we can be proud. Its expertise has been built up in Australia; it is not a case of overseas organisations coming into this country, establishing an office here and then saying: ‘Well, we are an Australian based consulting firm. Where is the work that you can give us?’ I would like to see Australian private consulting firms used to the utmost in connection with the work of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. The former Department of Trade and Industry took great pains to encourage the use of Australian consulting engineers in the excellent work which has been done in South East Asia. There is great wisdom in the proposition that we should look for work in this near area. If a country has consulting engineers who go in for a variety of work, other countries will get to know about it. Australia must realise, as other countries have, that a local consulting firm which carries out work overseas is usually familiar with the products manufactured at home, whether they be pumps or other kinds of equipment or some other commodity. Such a firm generally has the ability to write into the specifications for the work it is undertaking that products manufactured in the home country must be used. If it is the wish of this Government to reactivate the operations of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation in a number of fields, we must realise that this is what socialists do. But I make a plea to the Government to ensure the maintenance of the private consulting organisations that exist in Australia at the moment and their utilisation to the full both in the consulting field and in the construction field.
– I thank the Opposition senators for expressing their support of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill. Although Senator Webster did not actually say so, I take it that the Australian Country Party is supporting the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I acknowledge the remarks of Senator Cotton and his recognition of the approving comments of Mr Fairbairn in the other place who acknowledged that there are no dangers in this legislation and indicated that it had his wholehearted support. Senator Webster repeated the speech of his Leader in the other place. He said that he sees in the Bill the philosophy and platform of a socialist Labor Party and then said he is supporting the measure. Well, I welcome him to the socialist camp and congratulate him on his conversion. Evidently he now sees the value of socialist philosophy.
I do not think anyone apart from Senator Webster and his Leader has seen the danger in the Bill to which he referred. The honourable senator pointed to 2 dangers. One was that he could see nothing in the Bill which requires the Corporation to show a profit. During the 3 years of the Corporation’s existence it has made a profit. It has to pay tax and this is assessed on the same basis as is the tax paid by private enterprise. There is no mention in this Bill of the Corporation being required to make a profit because that provision is contained in a section of the principal Act which we do not seek to amend. This requirement to make a profit which has been in existence all along remains in the Act. We do not propose to alter that provision.
Senator Webster said that his main concern is whether the Corporation will seek assistance from private consultants. The Consultative Committee advising the Minister under the Bill protects private consultants and private engineers by having them represented on that Committee, and that position has not been altered. The section of the Act in which this provision is made is being altered to make it clear that for works being carried out overseas the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Overseas Trade, which are concerned with what we do overseas, shall be represented on the Consultative Committee.
The private engineers and private consultants are represented on the Consultative Committee and I think they are capable of looking after their own interests. It can be said, as it was said during the second reading stage, that the Corporation has opened up fields which Australian private engineers otherwise could never have entered. The work would have gone to overseas engineers were it not for the Corporation. The Government believes that much work can be undertaken in Australia with the assistance of private engineers if the Corporation is given power and if it removes the restrictions which prevent the Corporation operating to develop Australia. At present the Corporation can assist development in other countries but not in Australia. I thank the Opposition for its support of the measure and its assistance in giving the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The Minister said that the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation was required to make a profit.I raised this matter during my second reading speech.I had in mind at that time information in my possession which suggests that in calculating the cost of work per hour of, say, consultants who are employed by the Corporation, the Corporation does not have to charge an amount equal to that which may be charged by a private consultant. Can the Minister indicate the figure of profit that is required of the Corporation or state where it is noted what profit the Corporation must make? My understanding of the legislation is that the Corporation is not necessarily required to make a profit.
– The Corporation acts as an independent authority and is required, by section 24 of the principal Act, to return finances to meet the expenditure of the Corporation properly chargeable to the revenue of that year, to enable the Corporation to make provision for income tax and to permit the payment to the Commonwealth of a reasonable return on the capital of the Corporation. While it is not specified that the Corporation must make a profit, it has to stand on its own feet. It does not get money from the Government. This provision has been in the Act since its insertion by the previous Government in 1970. The Government is not seeking to amend that provision, so the same conditions apply. If the honourable senator thinks that the Corporation should compete against private enterprise in making a bigger profit, that is not the Government’s intention. It is intended to use the Corporation without profit for the development of Australia.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2208), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. I shall speak briefly to it. This Bill simply varies the legislation enacted by the previous LiberalCountry Party Government to create an Institute of. Marine Science at Townsville. It has been found, as a result of investigation, that the site which was believed to be suitable for the Institute is, in fact, not suitable and the Council has requested that arrangements be made to alter the legislation to enable it to select on the tropical coast of Queensland a site which would be suitable in every way for the placing of the Institute. The Opposition is anxious to see this legislation passed and to see the Institute become a reality. It was an idea which was promoted by the LiberalCountry Party Government and one which we support in every way. It is important to the development of Australia that the Institute should, as soon as possible, be able to undertake the research and development work which is envisaged for it. Accordingly, the Opposition will not in any way delay the passage of the Bill. We support it.
– The concept of this Institute was suggested by Senator Dittmer a long time ago, I think in about 1961. 1 recall that for several years after that both Senator Dittmer and I, during Estimates debates, pressed very strongly for the establishment of such an institute. The Minister then responsible for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Oganisation and later Minister for Education and Science, Senator Gorton, took the matter up as a resultof the initial suggestions that were made. It is pleasing to note that there has been movement towards the entry into the field of marine science. Australia is surrounded by water but had been so lagging in marine science that nations such as the Soviet Union and Japan were far more knowledgeable of what was happening with the fish life around the coast of Australia than were Australian scientists who were placed in the position of having to ask the Japanese or the Russians for information about our own resources. This Institute is a venture which is supported by both the Government and the Opposition. I thank the Opposition for giving a speedy passage to the Bill .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I do not wish to speak at length but merely wish to associate the Democratic Labor Party with this Bill. Unfortunately, because of circumstances the DLP did not have the opportunity to speak during the second reading stage of the Bill. The establishment of the Marine Institute in the Townsville area is of immense value to that area and to Australia. Whilst the great fisheries of the world mostly lie in the colder zones of water, the investigation of the fishing potential in the tropic and sub-tropic waters is of particular significance to Australia. The investigation has never been adequately carried out - certainly, as Senator Murphy says, not by Australia. It is important that it be done because the productive capacity of the marine areas around Australia could be of immense economic value to Australia. It is unfortunate that it was found necessary to change the suggested site of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. It is very wise that it has been discovered that it was prudent to move the site now. When the Institute is ultimately developed it will be on the best available site. Therefore we commend the Bill. I am sure the people of northern
Queensland, who take great pride in the establishment of the Institute in their area, would recognise the necessity that has arisen to alter the actual site to give a fluidity of site according to the availability of land and the availability of the areas for research and investigation. The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 2490).
– I wish to speak briefly in support of what Senator Prowse said earlier this afternoon when he pointed to the problems associated with the land acquisition proposed by the Government in the Northern Territory to allow for expansion of the Darwin housing program. I have received many telegrams from land holders in that area pointing to the shabby treatment that they have received from the Minister for the Northern Territory, Mr Enderby. They all maintain that, despite repeated attempts to obtain answers to their questions relating to the Government’s intention for this area, they have been unable to get any satisfactory answers. The people concerned called a public meeting in Howard Springs on Sunday 18 March to discuss this matter. They invited representatives from the Department of the Northern Territory to be present to provide information and answer further questions. I believe more than 400 people attended. I have been informed that it is fair to say that many questions were not answered to the satisfaction of those people who attended. In spite of general assurances many of the people in the area, and in particular the small block holders, were being hurt and their hopes and aspirations for the future were being seriously prejudiced.
I realise that the Government is quite in order in gazetting this matter. It is quite within its rights to bring this matter before the House of Representatives and this place where, according to requirements, a copy of the notice must be laid down in the Parliament within 14 sitting days after the date of publication and either House may, within 30 days - not sitting days but 30 actual days - thereafter pass a resolution that the notice shall be void and of no effect. It seems to me that the Government introduced this measure very late. If it was not for the vigilance of Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Prowse and other honourable senators representing the Opposition I believe this proposition could well have taken effect. This would have been to the great inconvenience and apprehension of the people in the area to which we are referring. We must remember that a majority of these people are very small land owners who are doing their best to provide their families with a comfortable home in an area which is rather greater than the area of the blocks in Darwin. I understand that 2 people who own about 8,000 acres of land in the area are prepared to sell.I also believe that the smaller land owners in the area are not opposed to that idea. According to the PakPoy report, if the 8,000 acres were acquired it would provide space for development of the housing program in Darwin well into the 1990s.I oppose the way in which the Government has introduced this measure. I suggest the Senate ought to reject the proposal and agree to Senator Drake-Brockman’s motion. If that were done it would give the vast majority of those 100 people who are involved in this matter an opportunity to plan for their future.
– The Government will oppose the motion moved by Senator Prowse. In effect it seeks to declare void and to no effect the notice of acquisition of land by the Commonwealth for the planned development and control of the City of Darwin and its adjacent areas. Senator Prowse has said that he received a petition from interested people in the Darwin area and telegrams. Senator Jessop has said he has received many telegrams. Firstly, I ask Senator Jessop whether he would be prepared to table the telegrams in the Senate so that they may be. checked against the register. WhenI asked Senator Prowse to table the petition he was kind enough to do so. During the luncheon adjournment I had the signatures on that petition checked against the register of land holders in the area. Whilst I do not suggest that Senator Prowse was aware that the petition was loaded with signatures of people who had no interest in the matter, the blame must be sheeted home to Dr Goff Letts, the member for the Victoria River district. A letter from Dr Letts was attached to the papers.
The letter was addressed to Senator DrakeBrockman and was tabled by Senator Prowse. It is headed ‘Darwin Freehold Acquisition’. The letter states:
Thank you for the time which you gave to me in Canberra last week. I am forwarding further information which may prove useful in the debate on the disallowance motion. It comprises a list of signatures collected from people protesting against this acquisition, obtained within 24 hours and extracts of Press releases from the local paper.
As I said, the list of names on the petition has been checked. Of the115 land holders registered only 27 signed the petition - approximately 25 per cent. Three whole pages of the petition contain signatures of persons who have no interest in the land under consideration for acquisition. Most of those signatures on those 3 pages are of people who, according to their address on the petition, live at Humpty Doo, which is many miles away. In fact the address of one signatory, Mr Little, is Hopetoun, Victoria. That is a jolly long way from the area we are discussing. I have asked Senator Jessop to table the telegrams so that the authenticity of them may be checked. Many of the people have no interest in the area at all. There are a number of suspect signatures, including one that has been rubber stamped and another that can be identified as false. Over 300 signatures are on the petition. Of the names that can be clearly identified only 33, including the signatures of 6 wives, are from persons holding land in the acquisition area.
I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a list of the registered land holders who are involved in this land acquisition.I spoke to the President this morning and he has given his approval for the document to be incorporated.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott) - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
A list of those people who are involved by way of title or rights to title in the 32 square mile acquisition area are listed as follows:
Ainsworth, Ross MacDonald.
Albany, Albert Sydney.
Aldrick, John McKechnie and Susan June
Andrews, Phyllis Frances.
Angliss W. & Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd.
Austin, Agnes Lawson.
Barclay, Charles James Brown and Selma Mabel.
Bauer, Harold William Henry.
B. Bricks Pty Ltd.
Belletty, Colin Thomas and Anne Margaret Mary.
Benvale Pty Ltd.
Beumer, Gerrit and Ebelina Aukesina.
Blake, David Michael and Tanya Dawn.
Boylan, Peter Michael.
Bradley, Edward Leslie.
Braun, Gunther and Caroline.
Buscall, John Cobb.
Catania, Gregorio and Annette.
Cedar Pty Ltd.
Chester, Barry Michael and Juliette Marie Claude.
Chiffoleau, Daniel and Yvette.
Churcher, George Maurice.
Churcher, Russell Emanuel.
Clarke, James William and Anne.
Connell, Kenneth Frederick and Clarice Wilma.
Darwin Office Equipment Pty Ltd.
De Grandie, Carmelo.
Denholm, Peter and Ellen.
Dowsett Engineering (Aust.) Pty Ltd.
Dumigan, Ronald John and Pamela Joy.
Edwards, Arthur Lawrence and Claire Margaret.
Elliot, Graham G.
Firmin, Colin Charles and Anne Margaret Mary.
Fong, Ernest and Elizabeth Mary, William and Darwina May.
French, Christopher William.
Gillies, Heather Margaret.
Goetze, Jill and Horst Frederick William.
Gordon, Betty Elaine.
Hand, Terence Martin and Marilyn Joy.
Hearne, Arthur William and Lorna Gwendoline.
Henry, Fraser Earl.
Heubach, Emma Marianne.
Hilcke, Eric John.
Howells, Colin Charles and Janice Ann.
Humphrey, David Ewart.
Joondanna Investments Pty Ltd.
Kemp, Charles Fitch.
Kietz, Alfred and Dorothy May.
Klemm, Zoolt George.
Marx, Albert Gustav.
MacKenzie, Nena Jean.
McLean, William Paterson and Mary Veronica.
McLaughlin, Thomas David.
McMillan, Neil Jamieson, William, Maxwell McMaster Muir.
McNamee, John and Lorna.
Midland Bank and Executor Co. Ltd.
Morandini Contracting Co. Ltd.
Nelder, Harold Arthur and Josephine Mary,
Nunan, Edward Francis and Jane Marie.
Nutt, Arnold William.
O’Neil, Pamela Frances.
Osgood, Shirley Anne. (Pickering, Anthony John and Judith Anne.
Port Darwin Motors Pty Ltd.
Pott, William Ellis and Marjorie Ramsy.
Purish,Phillipus and Cecilia Noel.
Raistrick, Betty Muriel.
Randazzo Holdings Pty Ltd.
Redwood, Kenneth Graeme.
Roberts, Leon Joseph and Yvonne Georgina.
Robinson, David Murray.
Robinson, Terence Anthony and Gwyneth Margaret.
Ryall, Joyce Florence.
Savage, William Michael and Sally Louise.
Sunders, Keith Raymond and Valerie Lorraine Vivian.
Scaturchio, Guiseppe, Euginio and Dominic.
Schombacher, Georgina Nazareth.
Shergold, Annie Elizabeth and William Clarence.
Smith Snr., Alfred Joseph and Florence Jessie.
Smith Jnr., Alfred Joseph.
Smith, Ross Alexander.
Spillett, Peter Gerald and Muriel Grace.
Streeter, Kenneth Graiper.
Summerville, Charles Gladstone.
Thompson, Audrey Adelaide.
Thompson, Mark Lindsay.
Thomson, Petty Evelyn Ramsay.
Thomson Nominees Pty Ltd.
Trippe, Daphne Isobel.
Tudehope, Mavis and Gordon William Robert.
Tulleau, Jean Claude and Nicole.
Vali Ply Ltd.
Ward, Arthur David.
Ward, Francis Paterson and Connie Thelma.
Wattam, David John and Albert.
Walker, Melville John.
Warner, Larry Milton.
White, Edwin Jock.
Wilson, Derek Whitworlh.
Williams, Jean Lynda.
CAVEATS- INTEREST AS PURCHASER
Bail, Barry James.
Clarke, Rex Warren.
Cryer, John Maxwell.
Humphreys, Owen Leonard.
Lawrence, David Stanley and Lucinda Jean.
Moore, Rosemary Kay and James Ian.
Roman, Otto and Antonia.
Small, Kenneth John.
Spring, Kenneth Ian.
Stenberg, Bo Kent.
Van Esch, Jacobus Johannes and Anna Kathrin.
White, Allan Martin.
Wilson, Leslie Mervin.
– I thank the Senate for its consideration. If this acquisition is declared void and of no effect development in the Darwin area will become chaotic. There will be a large degree of inflation in land prices. There will be a halt to economic development. This will diminish the business opportunities for people already established in the Darwin area who established themselves in the expectation of a certain growth rate. It will be impossible, for young people to buy land and to set up a home or for the government of the day to assist in providing land for this purpose. The activities of the Housing Commission will be brought to a halt. No more land will be available at a reasonable price for public utilities such as schools, hospitals and other things which may be required.
We have a similar situation prevailing in Canberra in the case of the development of Tuggeranong. Land there should have been acquired at least 10 years ago by the past Government for a sum of about Sim. Now, as the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) pointed out when replying to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) in the other place, there is a case before the High Court of Australia over this matter. The people now on that land are claiming $35m from the Commonwealth Government for its acquisition. That is what is going to happen in the Darwin area. If the Government does not acquire this land at the present time we are going to be faced very shortly with having to pay a massive price for land because speculators will have moved in and will have acquired all the land available for the greater Darwin area. A very big responsibility rests on the shoulders of honourable senators today to see that what is happening in the case of Tuggeranong does not happen in Darwin.
Senator Prowse, during his speech, referred to the leasing back arrangements and said that no confirmation had been given by the Minister for the Northern Territory that this would happen in conformity with the usual Government practice. I want to read to the Senate a letter written by Mr Kep Enderby, the Minister for the Northern Territory, to Dr Gorman, a director of Cedar Pty Ltd of Darwin, who had addressed some queries to the Minister. This is the answer by the Minister:
The Government decided to acquire the land because it was convinced it was the only way to ensure that proper balanced non-exploited development occurs in the area.
The Government thinking assumes that wherever practical and proper and desirable, existing uses of land will continue on lease-back arrangement. T have instructed the Department to treat all claims with maximum sympathy and understanding.
The planning team concerned with formulating the new plan will be instructed to so plan as to enable, where practicable, the existing buildings of reasonable quality to be “built into’ the proposed development.
The Department of the Northern Territory is making every effort to ensure that no unnecessary delays occur at the time when lease-back discussions are being held.
That was the undertaking given by the Minister for the Northern Territory. I think that a Minister of any government can be relied upon to carry out that undertaking. We are all aware that even when land is acquired by a government instrumentality the tenant in common has a right of appeal to a court of appeal and that an independent arbitrator adjudicates to see that he gets a fair deal for the land in question.
The Australian Labor Party is putting into effect what the then Minister for the Interior, Mr Hunt, attempted to do in July last year. For the benefit of honourable senators who will vote on this matter, in the brief time I have available I should give some background information concerning the acquisition of this land in question. In 1970 the then Department of the Interior commissioned private consultants, P. G. Pak-Poy and Associates of Adelaide, to investigate and report upon land use in the Darwin area. The pressure for this investigation came about by a continued rapid increase in population and a reduction in the availability of developed land. I have a copy of the population projection - from 1973 to 1990. There are 5 lines of figures and, in order to save time, I seek leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank honourable senators. The consultants were directed in their investigation by a steering committee comprising representatives of the Departments of the Interior, Treasury, Works, the Defence group, Civil Aviation, Education, Health, and National Development and the Commonwealth Railways. The study was carried out in 3 stages and the consultants furnished a report on each stage. The Minister for the Interior at the time decided that the report should remain confidential. Senator Prowse, in his remarks earlier today, implied that it was the fault of this Government that those reports were not made available to the public. In fact it was the fault of the previous Minister for the Interior. The Minister decided that it should remain confidential largely to avoid speculation taking place on the land proposed for acquisition. The consultants’ recommendation became available in 1971 and its final report included the following: Firstly, a broad plan for urban development to provide for a population of up to 200,000 people. Secondly, it recommended removal of the Royal Australian Air Force and Department of Civil Aviation communications installations - radio receiver stations and radar - from 1,500 acres at Lee Point, most of which is choice residential land. Thirdly, it recommended acquisition of about 32 square miles of freehold land contiguous to the existing Darwin acquisition boundary for future urban development. Fourthly, it recommended reservation of a suitable site for an out of town airport against a possible future need to shift the existing airport from its present site.
The steering committee concurred in these recommendations but the Defence group and the Department of Civil Aviation had reservations about relocating the airport before 1990, favouring remaining on the present site until after the year 2000. The Department of Defence has agreed since to a 1985-90 airport removal. In July 1972 the then Minister for the Interior recommended certain things to the Government and they are what this Government has recommended and is endeavouring to put into action. The recommendations were, firstly, that the general plan recommended by the consultants for future urban development be accepted as a broad basis for future planning. Secondly, the Minister recommended that the DCA and RAAF installations at Lee Point be removed as soon as possible, and not later than about 1980, to make way for urban development. Thirdly, he recommended that an area of about 26 square miles be acquired for pastoral lease - part of the area is vacant Crown land - at a cost of approximately $200,000 and reserved for a future airport. Fourthly, he recommended that about 32 square miles of freehold land adjacent to the existing Darwin acquisition area be acquired for future urban develop ment. Those were the recommendations put forward by Mr Hunt when he was Minister for the Interior.
Prior to the change of government, on 31 October 1972 the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Works and Environment were asked to seek the concurrence of the then Prime Minister and their respective Ministers to the acquisition of the 32 square miles of freehold land concerned. This was done, firstly, because the need for additional areas had become urgent as the land now available for urban development would be exhausted by the end of 1976. To avoid a shortage of serviced land there was a necessity to acquire the freehold area and begin planning new neighbourhoods to ensure continuity of the supply of serviced land. The second reason was that the Defence Services need residential land in urban areas of Darwin beyond their present defence reserves and had a requirement beyond that required to meet the needs of the normal population development. Defence needs were expected to increase with the importance of Darwin as a defence area. So honourable senators can see that defence plays a very great part in this question of acquisition.
– Is not Mr Hunt a Country Party member?
– Yes. It surprises me to hear Country Party members attempting in this place to do something quite contrary to what Mr Hunt recommended to the previous Government. They are taking the opposite view. A lot has been said in this Parliament about our need for defence, and the Labor Party goes along with that. However, are we to be at the mercy of private developers when we want to acquire land in Che Darwin area to enlarge our defence areas, particularly land for an airport? That is what will happen if this acquisition proposal is defeated here today. I now want to refer to the reasons for freehold acquisition. There is going to be an increasing urban sprawl in the area regardless of any possible decision to develop separate towns in other areas unless this area is controlled. Present land development is uneconomic, haphazard and devoid of proper roads and services. If allowed to continue it would result in a type of development that would be totally unacceptable when judged by modern standards. Land costs are spiralling as private developers move in and planning for future urban development must begin at once if land pressures are to be met. To control private development by legislation still will mean significant capital gains to land developers because of the present urban land shortage. A decision now to acquire land for the purpose of planned development and control of the city of Darwin and its adjacent areas does not pre-empt decisions on the best strategy to be adopted in the face of the rapid growth of Darwin.
Those are the main reasons why the present Government is carrying out what was recommended by Mr Hunt and is putting the acquisition plan into effect. It is doing so in order to be able to plan for the future and so that young people who want to acquire land in the future will be able to get it at reasonable and fair prices. They can then negotiate with the Government so that they will not be exploited by paying abnormally high prices for this land.
A great deal has been said - Senator Jessop spoke of it - of mass meetings which were called in the area involved to protest against this acquisition. I have read to the Senate proof that of all the signatories to the petition presented by Senator Prowse very few are in fact affected by the acquisition. Why are the outsiders coming in and signing petitions and sending telegrams to Senator Prowse and Senator Jessop? Why is the Country Party under the guidance of Dr Goff Letts and Mr Rupert Kentish - the latter chaired the first meeting at a caravan park in Darwin - so interested in defeating this acquisition? It makes me wonder. Is there a dollar or two on the side for the speculators so that they can cash in on the people who deserve a fair deal? What this Government is trying to do is what Mr Hunt was trying to do - to give a fair and square deal to the people who live in that area. I want to indicate to the Senate details of another turn-about which has been made - we have seen one turn-about by senators here against what Mr Hunt said - byreading an extract from the Hansard of the Northern Territory Legislative Council of 10 May 1972. This shows that even Dr Goff Letts has changed his mind for some reason. What is the reason for Dr Letts’ turn-about in saying that he opposes this acquisition? Dr Letts is recorded in the Northern Territory Hansard in this way:
Finally, I would like to refer to an answer to a question which I asked in relation to freehold subdivisional land. I asked how many cases had come to the notice of the Administration where freehold land bad been subdivided and sold without approval, in contravention of section 18 of the Town Lands Ordinance. The answer I received is fairly staggering for those people who are not up with the figures:
Documentary evidence within the Administration indicates that 3 subdivisions comprising some 120 allotments appear to have been sold without the approval of the Administration as required under section 18 of the Town Planning Ordinance. This number is not necessarily exhaustive and others could be in existence but where factual documented evidence is not available to the Administration.
At least 120 people have suffered from the disadvantage of buying freehold land that was not approved for subdivision and having no means of getting titles or redress.
I asked, ‘Have any prosecutions under this part of the ordinance been launched against offenders and, if not, what steps is the Administration taking to launch prosecutions agains! offences of this type?’ The answer was, ‘The Administrator has recently sought the Crown Law Officer’s advice on the legal action that can be pursued.’ This has been going on for a damn long time - four to five years in some cases - and this ‘recently sought’ business is not good enough. The answer continued: ‘When this advice is received, a decision will be made as to whether the prosecutions will be launched by the Administration. There appear to be grounds for the individuals affected by such subdivisions to take legal action against the subdivider.’
That is a lovely thought! Here is a person breaking the law and the suggestion is that the sufferer should take civil action against the person who has conned him into having this land, thinking he was going to get title and gelling nothing. The victim has gone onto the land hoping to be able to borrow some money from the bank to put up a house and establish a water supply and has found that he can borrow nothing because he has no title. He is on an unapproved subdivision and so he uses up whatever funds he has to build some sort of substandard shack which in many cases is worse than those on VRD. Having used all his money, it is then suggested by the Administration that he might institute court action.
That is what Dr Goff Letts said in the Northern Territory Legislative Council on Wednesday, 10 May 1972. Mr Hunt must have taken a lot of notice of what Dr Goff Letts said then because shortly afterwards he approached the then Cabinet to make this acquisition to protect the very people whom Dr Goff Letts had said were being victimised. This is the very thing that this Government is endeavouring to do to protect those people. As I have said, many of the signatures on that petition are not valid and honourable senators ought to give serious thought to ascertaining who doctored this petition and the reasons behind it. Have they got at heart the interests of the people who live in the greater Darwin area or have they at heart the interests of the speculators who want to make a quick dollar at the expense of the battler and the business people?
– It is a bogus petition.
– It is in fact a bogus petition. I have had many telephone conversations with people in Darwin. I visit Darwin frequently and I have kept abreast of what is going on up there. I have been assured that most of the people in the area want the acquisition to go through so that they will know where they are going and that if they want to dispose of their land they can dispose of it to the Government. If they want to stay there then once the acquisition becomes law the Government can give them title to their land, something which many of them do not have today. They do not have even title to the land they are on and for which they paid good money. Yet under the previous Administration subdividers were allowed to sell this land with no title. Mr Hunt - 1 give him credit for it - saw the folly of what the previous Government was doing and tried to rectify it. Now members of his own Party here are flying in the face of what he in good faith tried to do for these people in the Territory.
I ask the Senate in the interest of the future planned development of Darwin to vote against the motion which was put down by Senator Drake-Brockman and moved today by Senator Prowse. If this motion is agreed to, the honourable senator will have good reason to rue this day and so will everybody else in this Parliament who supports that motion to disallow this acquisition. They will have to accept full responsibility for the outcome. I expect to be a member of this Senate for at least another 4 years and I will have a lot to say-
– Fourteen years.
– I say at least 4 years because I have been elected for a term of 6 years. Whether I get back after that depends on what the electors think of me. However, if this acquisition is defeated today, then during the remainder of my term in this Parliament I will be very vocal and I will bring into this place every incident which has been proved to me to show that people have been victimised because the Government has not been allowed to carry out its fair program for the people who live in the area. I hope that honourable senators in their wisdom will vote against the disallowance of this acquisition.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, may I ask that Senator
McLaren table the document from which he has quoted since Senator Prowse tabled a document from which he quoted.
– I am happy to table it.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) agreed to:
That the document from which Senator McLaren quoted be tabled.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party has experienced the greatest difficulty in arriving at a decision upon this matter. It is not an uncommon situation whereby a paternalistic government prepares a plan, in many cases for people living far away, and assures them that the plan is good for them. Then one has the development of a certain amount of local opposition on the ground that the local people want to decide their own affairs and not be subject completely to the paternalistic government. As I have said, we had great difficulty in arriving at a decision. We did everything we possibly could to secure complete information on the matter. The Minister put a very strong case which was supported efficiently and most effectively by officers of his Department who were courteously made available for interview by 2 of our members and who placed before them a number of considerations. Against that, some of us were impressed by the statement that this plan was unanimously opposed by the elected members of the Legislative Council. I would be grateful if anybody would correct me if that statement is not true. The point is that the Legislative Council is a body elected by the people of the Territory. It contains not only representatives of the Country Party but also representatives of the Australian Labor Party.
– And they are totally opposed to it.
– They opposed it. I think that any national legislature which tries to give as much self government as it can to areas under its control could not fail to be impressed by the fact that the Legislative Council, the body representing the people of the Northern Territory, unanimously opposed the Ordinance. Party lines were broken. Whatever Party members were in, they all considered that this Ordinance was not in the interests of the people of the Territory. I freely admit that very powerful arguments were adduced for the plan, and many of us would be concerned at the possibility of big profits being made by land developers who do not deserve them. But I would assume that the Legislative Council was aware of all this, and in these circumstances very narrowly we decided that we would vote against the Ordinance. Therefore the Democratic Labor Party will support the rejection of the Ordinance.
– Senator McLaren asked whether I would be prepared to table the telegrams that I have. I am prepared to do so at this time with your permission, Mr Acting Deputy President.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott) - Is leave granted for the telegrams to be tabled? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I table the telegrams.
– I rise because I feel a little concerned about what has been disclosed by Senator McLaren. He said that the names on the petition which Senator Prowse presented are those of people who live nowhere near the area in which the Ordinance we are debating has effect.
– What does that matter? They are still taxpayers.
– There is an admission from the other side of the chamber that what I say could be factual and that there are signatures to this petition belonging to people who have no interest whatsoever in the matter that is before the Senate today. It disturbs me, even though it may not disturb Senator Webster of the Australian Country Party, that fictitious documents may be presented to this Parliament. Let me make the position perfectly clear. I do not associate anything bogus with Senator Prowse. We know him sufficiently well to say that a petition presented by him would have been presented in good faith. But Senator McLaren has had all the documents examined and the examination discloses that some people who signed the petition, on their own admission, live in Humpty Doo. They indicated on the petition that they live in Humpty Doo which is miles away from the area affected.
– What does that have to do with it?
– I think it has a lot to do with it. These people have no association with the area. Senator Webster could advance the argument that if there is anything happen ing in the Australian Capital Territory and someone from Goulburn signed a petition relating to it that would be legitimate. Quite frankly I do not subscribe to that point of view. If there is a problem in an area surely the people in the area are the ones to petition for a change
– Is there anyone from outside the Northern Territory who signed the petition?
– Yes. I told you. Someone from Hopetoun - down your way - signed it.
– Senator Webster asks a question which has been answered by Senator McLaren who said that someone from Hopetoun in Victoria signed. I would not know where Hopetoun is. The people there may play Australian rules football, and that is pretty significant. It appears to me that this is a very serious position. A petition has been presented in support of an argument and that petition has been rebutted by a member of the Senate. Let us forget party politics. That is the actual position. Again I say with all the emphasis at my command that I am not suggesting that there was anything wrong with Senator Prowse presenting the petition. But if a petition is presented, is examined exhaustively by a member of the Senate and is proven by analysis not to reflect the opinion of the people who live in the area affected, I submit with respect that we are entitled to say - at least 1 will say it - that the matter should be held over for further consideration to determine whether what has prompted the action taken here today is the actual position.
If the residents in the area concerned are critical of this Ordinance that will influence me to a substantial extent, but when the case for the disallowance of an ordinance is based on a petition that appears, to me at least, to be invalid, I submit with respect that the Senate should defer consideration of the matter and make its own investigation in its own appropriate way.
– I would like to make one or two brief points. The whole purpose of the Commonwealth’s action in respect of this matter, of course, was to implement the report which had been brought down by the Pak-Poy consultants and which had been presented to the previous Government. The then Minister for the Interior, Mr Hunt, had seen the wisdom of what was being recommended and he endeavoured, as Senator McLaren has pointed out, to persuade the Government last year to act on those recommendations. Unfortunately that was not done. The whole purpose of this acquisition scheme is not only to try to keep prices of land in the area concerned at a reasonable level but also to ensure a proper development of the area around Darwin.
As Senator McLaren has pointed out again, there have already been land deals in the Darwin area in which many people apparently have been caught out and the Government wants to try to prevent that sort of thing from happening. We also want to ensure that the land is bought now at a reasonable price and that we do not see a repetition of what happened in Canberra where the Commonwealth did not act in time and as a consequence of a case presently before the High Court of Australia it seems as though it will be up for a sum of $35m whereas if the land had been acquired at the right time it would have cost the Commonwealth about only$1m.
Senator McManus raised the point that the decision of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory was not in favour of the acquisition, andI think it is a valid point. I understand that there was no division in the Council on the matter. Had there been a division there might not have been a unanimous vote. Time may prove that the Council itself was in error in its decision, and the electors of the Northern Territory may wish that the Legislative Council had taken a different approach.
There is just one other point on which I would like to comment. It is the point raised by Senator Prowse that allegedly there was no prior consultation with land owners. The situation did not lend itself to prior consultation. One of the reasons why Mr Hunt, the previous Minister, last year did not release the report from Pak-Poy was that it was necessary to keep the report confidential. Had the present approach not been adopted there would have been great danger that the confidential proposals would have been released and consequently would have led to very great speculation in the area. It would have destroyed the whole plan based on the recommendation that had been made by Pak-
Poy and which had been accepted, I repeat, by the previous administration.
It is unfortunate that it would appear that the motion of disallowance moved by Senator Prowse will be accepted by the Senate. I do not know what procedures the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) will adopt in the House of Representatives when this matter comes before that House again. But I do think that it is a great shame that this step will be taken. There was no question as to the sincerity of the previous Government in trying to meet the situation of the very great increases in land costs. We are trying to do the same.I believe that it will be a very great pity if the motion moved by Senator Prowse is carried. I do make a last minute appeal to those who are concerned about the future of the Northern Territory and of the people who live in that area not to support the motion.
That the motion (Senator Prowse’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the Senate that, pursuant to section 15 of the National
Library Act, I have resigned from the Council of the National Library of Australia. His Excellency the Governor-General, in accordance with the provisions of that Act, has gazetted a notice declaring a vacancy on the Council.
This is a domestic matter for the Senate. I take the opportunity of reading that message to honourable senators to make the matter clear to the Senate. The circumstances are that the National Library Act has embedded in it a statutory requirement for the National Library of Australia, and therefore its Council, to assume a role in the context of library matters in Australia which involves the National Library in becoming a centre of the retrieval of knowledge. I prefer to use that phrase rather than to use ‘library’ in the traditional sense.
This means, for example, as honourable senators will discover from reading the Stisec report which was tabled in the Senate a week or two ago by Senator Willesee, the Special Minister of State, and supported by him, that the scientific knowledge that is available in Australia has to be produced into an area in which all people who seek scientific knowledge can retrieve it. This is true also of medical science or the art of medicine in a system known as MEDLARS by which medical knowledge can be retrieved.
Australia is a continent. We have State libraries, university libraries, departmental libraries and so on. If we used the traditional method of storing adopted in the world at present we would have acres of warehouses filled with books. That, in itself, is an economic absurdity. The problem presented with respect to the retrieval of knowledge for the benefit of humanity, scientists, students and others can be expressed in these terms: If we take the accumulated knowledge of human beings from 2000 BC to 1960, the rate of increase in world knowledge has doubled very 10 years. The retrieval of that knowledge involves vast technological changes.
The Council of the National Library has finally come to the conclusion that it has to accept the obligations imposed on it by the original National Library statute and is in the process, therefore, of trying to discover over the next 10 years a technological means by which the National Library will become the centre of a system of knowledge retrieval in Australia and will be hooked into a worldwide system that also requires this process.
It is manifest to me that this work requires a longer period of time than probably is available to me as an individual. I felt therefore that it was proper that I should resign and make way for a younger man.
There has been a bipartisan approach to this problem in the Parliament. Mr Gordon Bryant, the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, represented the then Opposition in the House of Representatives on the Council. My predecessor in this chair represented the Senate. I have obtained some degree of opinion that this bipartisan approach should be maintained in the work on this vast problem, which will involve millions of dollars over the next 10 years. I have taken this approach even down to the extent of dividing the national Parliamentary Library, which will eventually have to be hooked into this system, by putting forward the argument that this bipartisanship should be maintained in the national interest. That is the reason why I felt it proper that at my age I should retire and make way for a younger man.
– I move:
Mr President, in view of your having made those remarks may I say that the alteration in the concept of the National Library by turning it into a national information centre is probably the most important event in the progress of Australia. Instead of information being fragmented it will be collected in a form which will make it readily available to all who are concerned. If one were to select a project on which money should be spent I suppose there is no endeavour whatever in Australia, whether it be any university, any research projects, any building of a dam, any bounty or payment of public moneys, which would be more important than the evolution of a national information centre. There is no project which is more important. There is no other project which is likely to return 100 or 1,000 times over in benefits what may be expended on it. There is no project which is more deserving of support from all of Australia than this concept of a national information centre which we hope will be fairly soon realised.
Having some little knowledge of the concept I hope that those concerned with it will push ahead with all dispatch and will not hesitate to turn to the Parliament to ask for whatever resources or facilities they want, because the project is of extreme and overwhelming importance to our country. It is a very great sacrifice which you make, Mr President, in deciding to retire in the interests of the project in order that you may be able to devote yourself fully to the important tasks which you have and that the centre may be able to proceed with people who are able to help to see it out. I only doubt that you are underrating the value of the services which you can give to the project. But having said that, we accept your decision and I ask the Senate to decide to elect Senator Davidson.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 22 1 2), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill which provides for an additional member for the Australian Capital Territory. This will give the Australian Capital Territory 2 members in the House of Representatives. There is no doubt that the Australian Capital Territory should now have an additional representative. The number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory exceeds 85,000 and it is estimated that by December 1975 the enrolment will exceed 120,000. This means that each division within the Territory would have an enrolment of approximately 60,000 which is not dissimilar to enrolments elsewhere in Australia.
– Is that the adult population?
– No. This relates to electors, not population. In the Committee stage of this Bill it is my intention to move an amendment to clause 10, sub-clause (2). The purpose of the amendment will be to delete the variation from the quota of onetenth and insert one-fifth which will bring it into line with the permissible margin Electoral
Commissioners have in relation to other electorates in Australia. The Opposition supports the Bill.
– I thank the Opposition. The principles of this Bill and the necessity for it have been outlined in the House of Representatives and in this place in the second reading speech. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has conceded the wisdom of the measure in the interests of democracy and there is really nothing further to be said.
Question resolved in the affirmative. i.
Bill read a second time. f
– I refer to clause 10, which reads:
In making the proposed division the Distribution Committee shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Electoral Division, to:
The purpose of this amendment is, as I mentioned earlier, to bring the variation from the quota permitted into conformity with what applies in all other Federal electorates. It is a variation which the Distribution Committee may adopt. It is not mandatory. We believe that if the population of the Australian Capital Territory grows in the 2 divisions equally no use of the margin will be required, but if it becomes obvious that one division is going to grow at a faster rate than another, the Distribution Committee will have the flexibility to allow for this. I commend the amendment to the Committee. I do not intend to speak at greater length on this matter other than to say that when the Commonwealth Electoral
Bill (No. 2) 1973 was before this chamber a month or two ago the arguments for or against the one-tenth or one-fifth margins were canvassed at enormous length and I do not think I need go over them again.
– The Government will not accept the amendment which has been moved. There is no justification for such an amendment in relation to the Australian Capital Territory. We have analysed the arguments applicable to other areas and the desire of the Opposition to have representation based on acres, sheep or trees rather than on people. But how can we justify in the ACT a disparity which could permit one electorate out of the two proposed having a number of voters one-fifth above a quota and the other electorate having one-fifth below?
– May. It is only ‘may’.
– Yes, may. So if the quota is 100,000 one electorate could have 120,000 electors and the other could have down to 80,000. The position could be reached where one electorate would have 50 per cent more electors than the other. What possible basis is there, even on the worst approaches of those who say that people in the country should have more electoral influence than those in the city, for carrying that kind of disparity into an area as small as the Australian Capital Territory? We say that there is no possible justification for it, and we oppose it.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Wither’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Prowse)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– While honourable senators are sitting in the seats which they occupied during the last division I put the second motion:
That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.
– The noes have it.
– The Senate will divide. Ring the bells.
– If it is recorded that honourable senators have remained in the places they occupied during the last division, which will indicate that the vote will be the same on this matter as on the last one, a division will not be required.
– Is it the wish of the Senate that this procedure be adopted? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill as amended agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Adoption of Report
– I move:
In doing so I just wish to make it clear that that does not mean that the Government is accepting in any way the amendment but regards it as failing to allow the legislation put forward by the Government to pass.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide pages 2214 and 2215), on motions by Senator Wiliesee:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Liberal Party opposes the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 which provides for 2 Senators for the Australian Capital Territory and 2 Senators for the Northern Territory. We believe that this proposal is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution by which the sovereign States agreed to the establishment of the Federal Parliament. The prime reason for this agreement was that the Senate should be created as a States’ assembly with the clear and prime responsibility of protecting the interests of the States, particularly the less populous ones. In order that the smaller States were given full protection, the basic principle of Federation was equality of Senate representation of the original States and that all proposed legislation must have the majority assent of the Senate before being enacted. The people responsible for drafting the Constitution acted very wisely in this respect as this principle gave a reasonable guarantee to the 3 smaller States that they would have an equal voice in the Senate and provided a balance to the House of Representatives where they were decidedly outnumbered by New South Wales and Victoria. We believe that if this Bill were approved, this principle would be destroyed by giving the balance of power to Territorial representatives and the Senate would no longer be a true States’ House.
The passing of this Bill would also open the door - and I believe quite properly - to a request from other Territories of Australia to seek Senate representation, and this would create a precedent for the admission of 2 senators from the Australian Antarctic, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Heard Island, McDonald Island and Norfolk Island. A further 12 senators could conceivably be added to the number of senators in this place. I think that this Bill is a further attempt by the present Government to weaken the States. I should like to draw the Senate’s attention to an article that appeared in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser of 18 May 1973. This is an illustration of what the present Government is trying to do. The article was written by Stewart Cockburn and it is headed Whitlam “hell-bent on abolishing States” ‘. It states:
Commonwealth proposals to abolish appeals to the Privy Council and to have the Governor-General changed into a Viceroy are designed to ‘kill the Federal system of government and achieve a unitary system by back-door methods’.
This is the belief of MrIan Wilson, M.H.R., and, he claims, a growing number of ‘Australian Constitution watchers’.
I think that we can look to other recent examples where the present Government is driving the wedge further and further into the foundation of the power of the States and we do not have to look very far back. Yesterday the Senate dealt with a Bill which was designed to enable the Commonwealth to create regional council groups througout Australia at the will of the Minister and thereby circumvent the States with respect to providing finance for local government. As the States agreed to federate on the basis that their rights would be safeguarded, it would be interesting to know whether the Australian Labor Government has consulted the State governments for their opinion on the effects on States’ rights of proposed territorial representation in the Senate. Although there is no provision in the Constitution for this, I am sure that the architects of that document would have expected adequate consultation before such a move was ever contemplated.
We have just passed in the Senate a Bill giving the Australian Capital Territory another member in the House of Representatives. I believe that the electorate at large is against an increase in the number of members of Parliament, as was demonstrated quite adequately at the last referendum on this subject. The Liberal Party agreed to the additional member of the House of Representatives for the Australian Capital Territory as the electoral populaton of the Australian capital is now 85,282, and this will bring the 2 new electorates into line with other electorates in Australia as far as the number of electors are concerned. The Northern Territory, with an electoral population of about 32,000, is adequately represented by one member. Mr Calder, the member who represents that electorate, is an exceptionally energetic member of the Australian Country Party. He represents the Northern Territory very effectively in the other place. The only possible argument in favour of an additional member of the House of Representatives for the Northern Territory would be based on the tremendous size of the electorate.
No one can possibly say that Canberra is not given an adequate hearing in this Parliament. In fact, South Australians who visit here - and more particularly, State members of Parliament - turn green with envy when they see the rapid development that is taking place in this part of Australia as a result of what, they consider to be over-generous expenditure of taxpayers’ money. In addition to 2 members in the House of Representatives, the Australian Capital Territory has a permanent Standing Joint Committee of the Parliament that is responsible for promoting the interests of Canberra. This Committee, consisting of 4 Senators and 5 members of the House of Representatives, examines matters relating to the Territory. Indeed, no area of its size in Australia is as well cared for as the Australian Capital Territory. lt is also proposed to have a joint committee for the Northern Territory, and if the Senate decides to be represented on this committee, there will be 4 senators and 5 members of the other place on that committee. Even if we do not decide to be represented on the committee. I would imagine that the House of Representatives will form such a committee which will take a particular and continuing interest in the affairs associated with the Northern Territory. If people in the Northern Territory say that they are not being cared for, as a member of the Public Works Committee I should like to point out that we seem to spend most of our time in that area considering references put to the Committee for the benefit of the Northern Territory. I recall that last year we approved of no less than $59m of new work to be carried out in the Northern Territory. In addition to this projected figure, the total expenditure on capital works for civil and defence departments and the Australian Post Office in the Northern Territory in 1972 was $47m.
The Australian Senate was modelled largely on that of the United States of America, and territories in the United States have never been represented in the United States Senate. In 1967 a congressional committee considered a proposal that the District of Columbia be represented by 2 senators but the Constitution was not so amended. Ohe of the arguments advanced against the proposal was that small State influence in the Senate could be defeated as effectively by according senatorial representation to a non-state as by according more representation to a larger State. The independence of the Senate would be largely destroyed if this Bill were passed tying the terms of Territory senators to the life of the House of Representatives and, in my view, it would create second class senators. I should like to refer to an article that appeared in the Canberra Times’ on 25 January last. It stated:
The Constitution gives Parliament a relatively free hand in providing for parliamentary representation for a Territory, lt can allow representation ‘in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit’.
However, when it comes to the Senate, the Constitution reads, ‘The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State . . .’ This raises some doubt as to whether a Territorial representative could be in the full sense a member of the Senate.
Territories may have to be satisfied with parliamentary representatives sitting in the Senate rather than senators as such, and this could also raise questions about voting rights.
I will conclude my remarks, because I believe there are other speakers who are anxious to speak on this Bill, by drawing the attention of the Senate to a letter to the editor of the Australian’ in April this year. I think it sums up the electors’ anxiety about this matter.
– Who wrote it?
– The letter is signed ‘G. Morris, Brisbane’. I will read 2 extracts from it which I. think are typical of the attitude of the electors to this serious matter. The letter commences with these words:
The Government’s announced intention of legislating for the appointment of two senators each for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory must give rise to considerable anxiety about the future of the Senate itself.
The letter concludes with these words:
It is fervently to be hoped that the present Senate will not sign its own death warrant by passing this piece of constitutional chicanery.
It is quite obvious to the Opposition that the Whitlam Government would ultimately like to see this House completely abolished because obviously the Senate is providing the Government with a considerable amount of irritation. I think that view is borne out by the fact that on a recent visit to New Zealand the Prime
Minister (Mr Whitlam) expressed his admiration for the wonderful system of government in that country. In my view everything that Mr Whitlam says points to the unfortunate mania of the Australian Labor Party about abolishing the Senate and weakening the rights and powers of the sovereign States. For those reasons the Opposition will oppose the proposal. We have given this matter very serious thought. We cannot support the measure. Mr President, is it in order for me to refer to the Representation Bill?
– Leave has been given for both Bills to be dealt with together.
– The Representation Bill is consequential upon the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill and the Opposition will most certainly be opposing that Bill.
– The 2 Bills before the Senate provide for Senate representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory on the basis of 2 Senators for each Territory and that such senators shall have the same powers, immunities and privileges as senators representing the States. The Bills also provide that the first election of Territory senators shall be held at the same time as the next Senate elections in the several States or at the same time as the next general election for members of the House of Representatives if it is held before or in conjunction with the next Senate elections. The legislation also provides that the term of the first Territory senators be from the date of their election until the eve of polling day for the ensuing general election for members of the House of Representatives and that after the first election for Territory senators, elections shall be held at the same time as the general election for members of the House of Representatives. The legislation also provides that after the first election of Territory senators the terms of Territory senators shall be the period between each House of Representatives election.
Senator Jessop said that the Senate is a States house. I think it would be of interest to honourable senators if I were to quote at this stage the view which was held by someone prior to Federation.
– That is 70 years ago.
– That may be so but I want to quote part of a report which appears at page 58 in the ‘Australian Federation 1901’. This is what a Mr Howard Willoughby had to say:
All Federal Governments have their Senates or Councils of the States, and in all of them the Senate is based upon the principle that in a Federation the States must be represented as well as the people. The principle, if not as old as the hills, goes as far back as the Achaean League -
I believe that is early Egyptian days.
– The report continues: where each city, independent of its size, had one vote. And the reason why the principle is universal is not far to see. It is probable that no small States would care to link their fortunes with large States if they were liable to be out-voted and ignored by virtue of the superior population of their greater brethren.
In ‘Annotated Constitution’ Quick and Garran had this to say:
After prolonged and exhaustive debates the Federal Convention, by decisive majorities, accepted the principle of equal representation of Original States in the Senate, as a positive and indispensable condition of the Federal scheme.
That is what Senator Jessop said. Quick and Garran went on to say:
The question had to be considered, not so much from its logical and symmetrical aspect - not so much as a principle capable of satisfactory dialectical analysis and vindication - but rather as one of the terms of the Federal compact, which is based on compromise.
They went on to say:
The problem to be solved in the case of the Australian colonies desiring to federate was similar to that which had to be solved by the framers of the American Constitution; it was - how to reconcile the creation of a strong national government with the claims and susceptibilities of separate and, in their own eyes, quasi-sovereign States. The solution of the problem was found in a Parliament partly national and partly Federal. The national part of the Parliament is the House of Representatives - ‘the organ of the nation. The Federal part of the Parliament is the Senate - the organ of the States, the visible representative of the continuity, independence, and reserved autonomy of the States, linking them together as integral parts of the Federal union.
I will make brief reference to the remarks of Senator Jessop who referred to the minority views of the Honourable Charles E. Wiggins and the Honourable William V. Roth. In their report to the House of Representatives they said:
The Senate is not a forum where ‘people’ are represented. Senators are elected by the people of each State to represent that State in the national legislative body,.
The Australian Capital Territory has no likelihood of becoming a State in its own right. We believe that the Senate is a States house and therefore we are opposed to granting senatorial representation to the Australian Capital Territory, which we see as being an area permanently apart from the States. Therefore we oppose this legislation. I see it as the thin edge of the wedge in the destruction of the independence of the Senate..
Honourable senators will recall that earlier I made the point that the election of Territory senators is to take place at the same time as elections for the House of Representatives. If one were to carry that argument to its logical conclusion one would see that it would not be very long before someone would be suggesting that the other 60 senators should be elected for a period of 3 years to tie in with the House of Representatives. This is why I believe that it is the thin edge of the wedge. Also, 1 say that this has been brought about because the people, of the Australian Capital Territory say that they do not have enough representatives in the Parliament. Canberra was created as the site of “the Federal Parliament of Australia. The people who have come here have been closely connected with the Parliament. They have been given representation in the Federal Parliament and, as Senator Jessop said, they also have a Joint Parliamentary Committee composed of members of both Houses of the Parliament - no State has this - which is working in their interests continually. If honourable senators look at the past work of that Committee, they will find that it has done many things and made recommendations which have been of great benefit to the Australian Capital Territory.
As recently as in today’s newspapers we see arguments advanced in relation to self government for the Australian Capital Territory. We see a reply to the question asked by the former Minister for the Interior, Mr Ralph Hunt, who was in charge of affairs in the Australian Capital Territory. That reply was given by Mr Enderby. Mr Hunt is calling for self government for the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Enderby says that he has made certain recommendations. But we see the local Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council not accepting Mr Enderby’s recommendations. What is the position of the Northern Territory? I believe that it would be in the interests of the Northern Territory if the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) set up self government in that area instead of looking towards representation for it in the Senate. Would not it be of great benefit to the Northern Territory if a House of Assembly was set up there to give the people a voice in their own affairs? We had the situation this afternoon in which the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory was totally opposed to what was done by the Minister in Canberra. It had to resort to the Senate to try to get some satisfaction in that matter. Why do not the people up there receive some assistance to place government in their own hands?
I believe that all of these things add up to the fact that we should not support this legislation. The only other comment I want to make is that if we are to give Senate representation to the Australian Capital Territory and to the Northern Territory, why should not a similar case be made out for many of the other territories such as the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea islands, Heard Island, McDonald Island or Norfolk Island? I could go on to cite a number of them. Surely if representation is given to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory it would not be long before these other territories would be asking for representation along similar lines. Therefore, we in the Country Party oppose this legislation.
– I rise to indicate that the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party are opposed to this Bill. The purpose of the Bill has been stated already by previous speakers. It aims to increase the number in the Senate by four, 2 senators to come from the Northern Territory and 2 senators from the Australian Capital Territory. The addition of 4 territorial senators would, I believe, upset the balance and the constitutional role of the Senate as a States House. I have indicated the stated purpose of the Bill. But the hidden reason is not so much a desire on the part of the Government to give greater representation to a section of the people of Australia. It is obvious that the true reason is a political one. It is a hope in the hearts of members of the Government to increase the number of senators in the belief that they can create a balance of power in the Senate to the Government’s advantage. As we all know, the Senate is unquestionably the most important of all the Federal features of the Australian Constitution. At Federation it was devised to link together in unity a number of co-equal political communities under a common system of government.
The Senate is not just a House of review. It is a chamber in which the States, considered as separate entities, are represented in such a way as to enable them to protect their constitutional rights against invasion and to advocate their peculiar and special interests. For this reason at Federation the original States were given equality of representation in one chamber of the Parliament so that they might effectively resist at the legislative stage any attempt to invade and violate their rights as States. We all know - it has been said repeatedly - that if a Senate system had not been devised we probably never would have had a Federation. That provision was made to protect the smaller States against the larger ones, and particularly the less populous States such as South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. It is a principle of Federation without which the Australian colonies would not have agreed to the compact. There was to be equality of Senate representation of the original States. Also, it was agreed that all proposed legislation was to have the assent of a majority of the senators of the States. This was done so that the 3 big States could not ride roughshod over he 3 smaller ones.
It is interesting to note that only responsible Government colonies - not Crown colonies or territories were admitted as members of the Federal partnership. Therefore, the present Bill seeks to change the whole basis of our Federation. The proposed territorial senators, with full voting rights, would not be representatives of sovereign States and might well achieve a balance of power in the Senate as I suggested. That would destroy the principle of equal representation of the States and the principle that all proposed legislation requires the assent of a majority of the senators of the States. In other words, the Senate would cease to be a true States House.
Surely the States that originally agreed to federate on the basis that the States rights would be safeguarded have every right to be consulted about this Bill which seeks to destroy their States House. Were they consulted? Of course not. They have not been consulted to my knowledge, anyhow, or to the knowledge of any other member of the Senate. I do not believe that they were consulted in any form. This suggests that this move is simply a way of the Whitlam Government to destroy the States, to have a Federal voice and to centralise all power and government activity in the Commonwealth capital, in one House of Parliament. The Labor Party makes no secret of the fact that part of its platform for years has been the abolition of the Senate, but it is conscious of the great difficulties confronting it in this connection. Not feeling confident about its chances of success in a referendum on the abolition of the Senate, it sets about to erode the Senate’s power, influence and prestige.
– What did Senator Keeffe have to say about that?
– He has advocated openly the abolition of the Senate.
– But not in his time.
– That is a very pertinent interjection. Senator Durack said: ‘But not in Senator Keeffe’s lime’. I cite the example of a man, since dead, who was President of the Senate for not less than 8 years. He was a member of the Senate for a total of over 30 years. It was not until he retired that he advocated the abolition of the Senate. Surely the Government must be conscious of the fact that the people of Australia would not have a bar of any attempt to destroy the prestige of the Senate. The referendum in 1967 was an excellent example of that. The Government of the day held a referendum on whether the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives should be broken. The major political parties supported that proposal, with the exception of several Liberal parliamentarians of independent thought, several Country Party members and the Democratic Labor Party as a party, who took up the role of opponent of the Government’s attempt to interfere with the prestige of the Senate. What was the result? The Government’s proposal was defeated overwhelmingly. It was carried in one Stale, New South Wales, by a hatful of votes out of millions. All the other States rejected overwhelmingly the proposal that there should be any interference with the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
This Bill is another snide attempt - the other attempt was not so snide, it was more open - to interfere with the prestige of the
Senate in a different way. If carried, it would have the effect of breaking the nexus just as effectively. I assert what has been asserted by previous speakers. The Senate is the States House, and the Territories - the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory - can be represented adequately in the House of Representatives, which is the people’s House. The Senate is the States House. If this Bill is passed, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory will be represented in the Senate. But where will it end? Who knows? 1 do not have to repeat what has been said already. The other Territories, which have been named, will be entitled to representation in the Senate if the Bill is agreed to.
– Norfolk Island is one.
– Yes, and Christmas Island and many more. The destruction of our bicameral federal system would be complete. It would be destroyed completely. An American case was cited by Senator Jessop who led for the Opposition on this Bill. One last objection to the Bill is its proposal to tie the terms of the proposed Territorial senators to the life of the House of Representatives. This could easily lead to the tying of the terms of all senators to the life of the House of Representatives. This would destroy completely the Senate’s present independence. The Bill, if carried, would strike a severe, perhaps a mortal, blow to Australia’s federal system. It would further the grand Whitlam design to weaken and destroy the States and so concentrate all power in one Federal House whose electorates are suitably gerrymandered to perpetuate his power.
For those reasons, which 1 consider to be good, sound and substantial reasons, the Democratic Labor Party will not support the Bill. We will oppose it. Why are members of the Australian Labor Party in Government so intent on destroying this edifice which was the conception of the fathers of Federation? Those great men worked tirelessly for years to get a federation of the States on the basis of equality of all States and of protection for the smaller States against the larger States. I know that some people, mainly in the big States, cannot understand why Tasmania and South Australia should have as many senators as have New South Wales, Victoria and perhaps my own Stale of Queensland. They cannot understand why the Premier of Tasmania and his Treasurer should have as much say at a Premiers Conference and a Loan Council meeting as have the representatives of the larger States. The reason, of course, is obvious. It came about because great men, big men, saw the need to protect the weak against the strong. It is for that reason that this country has been so successful, having regard to its age. I believe that our parliamentary system of government is a model for many other countries.
In 1967 the people showed in a very decisive manner that they recognise, realise and appreciate fully the necessity to have a responsible Senate, a Senate made up of men who will have regard to the welfare of the States they represent, men who will act judiciously, honestly and responsibly in the decisions that they make on the issues which come before the Senate. The voters do not expect their representatives in the Senate to be the tools of outside influences. They do not expect them to be robots for central executives. I read in the newspaper this afternoon of a most humiliating incident. The Labor Premier of Western Australia is in London to join forces with the other State Premiers on a mission which will determine who has sovereignty over the submerged lands of the Australian continenal shelf. Mr Tonkin was informed on arrival in London that he has to withdraw from the delegation because the Australian Labor Party Executive in Western Australia has decided that he is not to take any part in this very important mission. Is that a sample of open government? Why not transfer the executive of this Government to the trades hall and be finished with it? Why not take it out of the atmosphere of Parliament altogether and take it into the halls of their dictators? They may as well be open about it instead of going on with this repeated dictatorship through their representatives in Parliament? Honourable senators can appreciate and I certainly can appreciate the humiliation that Mr Tonkin has suffered as a result of this action. What will the public think of him? He, a man who has been elected democratically by the people and by his Party as its leader, has been reduced to nothing. He accepts his responsibility as the Premier of Western Australia on a matter which he believes is of importance to the welfare of his State, yet on arrival in London he is told that Joe Chamberlain of the ALP or some other Pooh-Bah-
– 1 rise on a point of order. Even with the deference that is usually and properly accorded to the leader of a party, I think this is really getting away-
– Mr Acting Deputy President, is Senator Webster entitled constantly to interrupt me and say that what I am saying is rubbish? I have already pointed out to the honourable senator what I think his attitude is, and that has been demonstrated consistently over a period. I ask that the honourable senator not interrupt me and not make such statements in regard to me, especially in the light of his other capacities. I ask that Senator Gair not deviate from the purpose of the Bill; otherwise what he is saying will have to be answered and inevitably that will lead to a complete digression from the Bill before the House.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! I would just like to point out that it is not Senator Murphy’s place to complain about Senator Webster. If it is necessary I will do that, and I will ensure that I do it. I ask Senator Gair to keep as near as possible to the subject matter of the Bill and not to digress too far from it.
– I think my remarks were related to the Bill. I was referring to the influence of outside interests on the elected representatives of the people. The person to whom I referred - I know this because I was on the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party in 1955 - was responsible for the destruction of the Labor Party and the Labor movement in Australia because he placed himself over and above the elected representatives of the people on that Executive and in other places. He believed that he would be the big force. I was closer to the Labor movement at that time than Senator Murphy was. I had not heard of his name in the Labor movement at that time. The destruction of the Labor movement was based on the destruction of men who had been cradled in the Labor movement and who had fought in a reasonable and commonsense way - in a balanced way - for the advancement and the improvement of the social standards of the people. But that was not good enough. The rightwingers, as we were described, had to be thrown out because we were an impediment to the forces which wanted to destroy the Australian Labor Party and also to destroy Australia in the course of their machinations.
I will content myself with those few observations. You can understand my feeling, Mr Acting Deputy President, as one who was cradled in the Labor movement and who saw the grand political edifice and the movement which had achieved so much destroyed by men who had not had the same experience but who were hell-bent on exercising their power, wherever they could get it and however they could get it, to take over the Labor movement. I hope that the people of Australia will awaken, to a greater measure than they are awake at the moment or were awake on 2 December, and will realise just what is taking place at the present time under the present Government, the attempts on all sides to centralise power in Canberra and attempts by gerrymander and by fixing the numerical strength of this Senate to gain complete power and domination over people in a free land.
– I suppose that we will be accused once again of obstructing the Government’s legislation, but I want to make it clear that my attitude and. that of the Opposition is more basic than that. Our attitude is to protect the Senate, as it was formed by our founding fathers. As was indicated earlier, we do not oppose increased representation for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives. It is there that representatives of the Territory can achieve their most proper and effective representation. The question of Territory representation in the Senate, and indeed in Parliament generally, was the subject of considerable debate at the constitutional convention and also in the United States of America, on the Senate of which country our Senate was so closely modelled. It was also the subject of a good deal of comment in Quick and Garran’s commentaries on the Constitution. They deal at great length with territorial representation. In a few moments I shall cite extracts from that commentary.
There are some doubts as to the constitutional validity of this legislation. It appears to me, one who is not a constitutional lawyer, and no doubt if this legislation is passed the constitutional lawyers will argue, that there is some conflict in the Constitution because, as already mentioned by Senator Jessop, section 7 of the Constitution says:
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.
It then goes on to say that senators shall be chosen for a term of 6 years. Section 122 makes provision for the Parliament to make laws for the government of any territory and on such terms and to the extent which it thinks fit.
At one stage the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) said that there were some legal and constitutional problems to be solved. On Tuesday, 16 January, ‘The Canberra Times’ reported Mr Enderby as stating in Darwin in reference to representation for the Australian Capital Territory:
Because of the wording of the Australian Consitution, they could be called Representatives rather than Senators.
If that were true, we would have the farcical situation of having some second class citizens in the Senate. We would have senators and these other characters would be called representatives. That was Mr Enderby’s view. However, I do not want to labour this point. It is at least doubtful whether these people could enjoy the title ‘senator’.
Our objection is more basic than that. It is that the Senate was conceived as a State House or State assembly and its major role, as has been mentioned by previous speakers on this side, was to protect the interests of the States, in particular the smaller and less populous States. The whole principle 01 federation was equality of Senate representation for the original States and that all legislation, as was mentioned by Senator Gair, must have the assent of a majority of senators. From a reading of the Convention debates it is extremely doubtful whether the smaller States would have agreed to federation if they had not been able to achieve equality of representation and without the guarantee that they would maintain equality of representation. This principle would be destroyed by territorial representation with full voting powers. Somebody - I think it was Senator Gair - asked: Has the Government consulted the States on this matter?
– Or on anything.
– The answer is that it does not consult the States on anything which is of interest to the States. I believe it was incumbent upon the Commonwealth Government before bringing this measure forward to consult the original States. I referred to Quick and Garran. I think if we are to show clearly why we oppose this legislation we should have a look at the interpretation or the com mentary on the Convention debates by these very distinguished Australian constitutional lawyers and have a brief look, if time permits, at the report of the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, particularly the 3 powerful minority reports which convinced Congress that territorial representation in the Senate should not be granted in the United States. Quick and Garran wrote:
The Senate is one of the most conspicuous, and unquestionably the most important, of all federal features of the Constitution, using the word federal in the sense of linking together and uniting a number of co-equal political communities, under a common system of government. The Senate is not merely a branch of a bicameral Parliament; it is not merely a second chamber of revision and review representing the sober second thought of the nation, such as the House of Lords is supposed to be; it is that, but something more than that. It is the chamber in which the States, considered as separate entities, and corporate parts of the Commonwealth, are represented. They are so represented for the purpose of enabling them to maintain and protect their constitutional rights against attempted invasions . . .
That the Senate is the Council of States in the Federal Parliament is proved by the words of this section. There are to be six senators for each Original State. That the States, and not the people-
I repeat ‘That the States, and not the people’ - are actually represented in the Senate is shown by the requirement that the ‘equal representation of the several Original States shall be maintained’. Equality of representation, it is argued, is a natural corollary of State representation, because the colonies were, prior to federation, politically equal; equal in constitutional power and status, although not necessarily equal in territory or population.
This shows that Quick and Garran were quite clear on this. They continued:
The national part of the Parliament is the House of Representatives - the organ of the nation. The Federal part of the Parliament is the Senate - the organ of the States. . . .
Here we have the view of these distinguished Australian constitutional lawyers. Those who wish to argue in favour of territorial representation must argue against the original concept shown in the Convention debates and mentioned by Quick and Garran. Quick and Garran further wrote:
Local representation was adequately provided for in the House of Representatives. In the Senate the principle of locality, as the basis of representation, should be ignored, and corporate representation should be insisted upon.
Again the view of Quick and Garran is quite clear. When they posed the question whether the territories should have representation in the Senate, while not denying that there could be an occasion for representation in the House of Representatives, they said:
As regards Senate elections the answer must clearly be in the negative; the Senators for each State must be chosen by ‘the people of the State’.
So here we have quite clearly interpreted the intention of the constitutional founders of this country.
We come now to the situation in the United States where in 1967 the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary was asked to report on the advisability of having representation both in the lower House and in the Senate for the District of Columbia. The separate views of the Hon. Richard H. Poff are interesting because he first of all posed the question which has been posed here this afternoon: Is there any national consensus supporting this approach? He was dealing with representation of the District of Columbia in the Senate of the United States. He goes on to answer no. Is there any national consensus supporting this proposal in Australia? The answer must surely be no. He then goes on in his minority report, after quoting the United States Constitution which is the same as our own, that is, equality of representation as between the States, to say:
The purpose of the proviso was to furnish a forum where States with smaller populations could yet exert influence. That purpose is defeated as effectively by according senatorial representation to a non-State as by according more representation to a larger State.
I think we should take note of that view. Then we have the view of the Hon. Edward Hutchinson who said:
The Senate of the United States–
We can relate this to our own Senate - is an assembly of States and it is a deep concern of many of my colleagues that representation in the Senate by political entities other than States presents so fundamental a change of concept as to destroy the present constitutional character of that body.
Here again we have a very powerful argument. The final comment by the Hon. Edward Hutchinson is worth noting. He said:
I believe every member of the House must resolve the following question in his own mind before he votes on this proposal:
On close votes in the House or the Senate where one or two votes can make the differencein extremely controversial issues, should the people who choose to reside in the Nation’s Capital bold the balance of power?
The answer again is no. I now quote the minority views of the Hon. Charles E. Wiggins and the Hon. William V. Roth. They said:
We believe that the people of the District should be represented in the House of Representatives . . .
We do not oppose that view. They continued:
The Senate is not a forum where ‘people’ are represented. Senators are elected by the people of each State to represent that State in the national legislative body. The entire federal system is predicated upon this principle.
Later on in their minority report they ask:
How, then, does the District merit admission to that body?
That is, the Senate -
Only by the fiction that it should be treated ‘asif it were a State’. The Constitution should not be amended to formalise that fiction. The District is not a State and possesses none of the essential attributes of sovereignty which characterise a State. The District is a city, truly a Federal city. . . .
Then I quote the final paragraph of their minority report, because I think this is fundamental to the situation. It states:
Heretofore, our history and our laws have spoken in unison: the Senate represents States, the House represents the people. This distinction is the foundation of our federal system - governments within a government, sovereignties within a sovereignty. This principle has served us too well to be eroded by an amendment such as that now before the House.
The United States Congress showed that these powerful arguments embodied in the minority reports were such that they defeated the proposal to provide Senate representation for the District of Columbia. We on this side of the House believe that these arguments are equally applicable to Australia and the Opposition holds strongly and firmly to the view that the representation in the Senate of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory would undermine the constitutional rights of the States. The Senate should not approve of this legislation without at least first obtaining the approval of the States.
– I believe that the Senate of Australia today stands higher in the estimation of the people of this country than probably it has at any time previously in its history. I believe too that it is fulfilling and carrying out the functions which it was intended to carry out much more truly than at any other time. As a consequence, wherever one goes today, the Senate is spoken of in the very highest terms. I feel that that achievement has not come from just one side; it has come from the part that senators on all sides have played over recent years. The Senate was established to protect the States. No compact would have been arrived at if the independence and sovereignty of the States were not recognised and preserved.
- Senator Wright, do you wish to address yourself to me on a procedural matter?
– I only indicate to you that I would like to hear your ruling on the question arising out of standing order 407b which you indicated you were going to take into consideration this morning. I just express my wish that your ruling be made known before the time allotted for this Bill expires.
– Order! I mentioned to honourable senators earlier today that I would discuss this matter with the Clerks of the Senate because, in the absence of a Standing Orders Committee, I have no point of reference and 1 have therefore made the following decision: Earlier in today’s sitting of the Senate 1 indicated that I would make a statement relating to certain proceedings last evening on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The matter to which I mainly refer arose from my ruling that, when the time allotted for all stages of the Bill had expired, the question then before the Chair should be put. That question was Senator Bishop’s motion that the time allotted for all stages of the Bill, namely 3 hours terminating at 9.7 p.m., be extended by 20 minutes. My ruling was based on paragraph (2) of standing order 407b - and I wish honourable senators to mark this - the relevant part of which reads:
I have considered arguments advanced last evening that, pursuant to paragraph (1) of standing order 407b, the time allowed for debate on Senator Bishop’s motion was one hour and therefore the debate should not have been interrupted at 9.07 p.m. The relevant part of paragraph (1) of the standing order reads:
Upon such further motion or motions with regard to the allotment of time being moved, no debate thereon shall be allowed for more than one hour, and in speaking thereon no Senator shall exceed ten minutes.
It may be arguable whether, under the terms of standing order 407b, the Chair was bound at 9.07 p.m., to put the question on Senator Bishop’s motion or whether further debate on that motion, within the one hour limit, should have been permitted.
In view of the argument advanced last night as to the interpretation and application of standing order 407b, I propose asking the Standing Orders Committee - when it is appointed - to consider the whole matter at the first opportunity. In the meantime I suggest that any extension of the times allotted for all the stages of the urgent Bills be by leave of the Senate. I recognise that certain other points of order were also raised regarding the interpretation of standing order 407b and these will also be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
Finally, I wish to clear up any misunderstanding which may exist concerning the proposed division last night on Senator Bishop’s motion. Points of order were raised concerning standing order 407b when the bells were ringing. That was in order. The bells were switched off after the usual 2 minutes. Discussion on points of order continued for some time after the ringing of the bells. When the Senate agreed to Senator Bishop having leave to speak in reply for 8 minutes to the second reading debate, the division which had been suspended was not further proceeded with.
I go on to add, because the matter has been raised in another context, that it is correct that on 6 June one motion was moved covering the declaration of urgency and allotment of times - I know this is in Senator Wright’s mind - in respect of 43 Bills. In recent years the practice has been to apply the guillotine to individual Bills, as required. However, I consider that the procedure of 6 June was in order because no objection was taken to the procedure at the time it was initiated.
- Mr President, I have regard to the imperative terms of standing order 429 which states:
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once . . .
I do object to the latter part of your ruling which refers to the inclusion of more than one Bill as urgent. Standing order 429 continues: and in writing, and Motion made, . . .
I ask leave of the Senate to submit a written objection, because I do not mean to move that the matter be debated forthwith. My purpose is that proper objection shall be taken so that the matter may come up for decision after mature consideration by the Senate. 1 therefore move:
That Mr President’s ruling be dissented from.
I ask leave of the Senate to submit in writting my reasons after the resumption of the sitting.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I understand Senator Wright to have in effect asked for leave to give himself a chance to put his objection in writing subsequently and to move the appropriate motion at a later date, because of the inconvenience of doing it now.
– It is a courtesy that I have extended to Senator Wright and it is proper that I should because he did me the grace of informing me earlier in the afternoon that this matter was in his mind.
Sitting suspended from 6.6 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business after 8 p.m.
– The terms of reference established for the Joint Committee on Prices are as follows:
That a joint committee be appointed to inquire into and, as appropriate, report on -
complaints arising from prices charged by private industry and by the public sector;
movements in prices of goods and services in particular fields or sections of private industry and the public sector, for example, as measured by price indices; and
such other matters relating to prices as may be referred to the committee by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
Honourable senators will note that there is no reference to wages and hours which are an essential factor in price determination, price examination and price change. Indeed, they are an essential factor in any prices and incomes policy. As is known, because I have expressed myself on this matter before, I have great reservations about the effectiveness of prices and incomes policies in restraining inflation in a consequential fashion for any period of time. Of course, I have complete distrust of a prices policy without an incomes policy and I have little affection for an incomes policy without a prices policy. All <I am suggesting here is a reference which allows the parliamentary Committee in its examination to have full regard to the consequential effects of all these things. I think that this is a sensible adjustment. We are most concerned about inflation. We are most anxious that the Committee be able to work effectively if it can. We want it to be fair and sensible. That is the reason why our reference is put down.
I have one or two very brief matters to point out, at this late hour, in relation to the sort of thing that can affect a determination of price. As I said earlier one can prepare oneself for a 5-hour debate or a 5-minute debate. 1 opt for a latter. I shall take the particular case of a 35-hour week. It has been calculated - J think quite effectively and accurately - that a 35-hour week would add $800 to the yearly bill of a family. This would all be in price rises of various commodities. A 35-hour week would increase the price of electricity to the consumer by 3.95 per cent, for a start, without its flow-on effects. That is just an example to demonstrate that the reality is that wages changes, hours changes, and productivity changes at a rate less than the rate of wage increases are of consequence in the situation of prices with which we are all concerned. Therefore, it seems to the Opposition to be sensible that this reference should be passed to the Committee to make its work more effective.
I do not think the Government can really object in any sensible style, because it has a majority on this Committee. There are 6 Government members as against 5 Opposition members and the senators are in a minority in that there are 4 senators as against 7 members of the House of Representatives. If the Government wishes to amplify the work of the Committee by giving it some more things to look at and perhaps put it, in the view of the Government, into an even better state of balance, there is no reason why that cannot be done. The Government has the numbers to do so. Very briefly, we feel that these factors are important in the determination of this matter in the proper sense. Accordingly I move, in the terms of General Business, notice of motion No. 13:
The continuing oversight in examining the prices of goods and services of the following aspects in relation to the cost of those goods and services:
relative rise of wages to the rise in productivity over periods of time as determined by the Committee.
As I said earlier, this is done so that we can put this matter on a proper basis of full examination by the Joint Committee on Prices and find genuine reasons why prices might be rising. As I said earlier, this could be a very long debate. I do not think that that is necessary. I think that the Government could agree to this motion without causing any harm to anybody.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the motion moved by Senator Cotton. I think we must recognise the economic fact that one of the most difficult things to discover is just what is causing the pressure on prices and where the solutions lie. We are moving into an economic field of very great complexity. Even those who are most skilled in this field are unable to diagnose the cause and certainly, as yet, they are unable to provide the remedy. Senior Cotton, in putting down this motion, is asking the Joint Committee on Prices - I think very wisely - to consider these other factors, all of which may in some degree, either more or less, be contributing to the price-cost push. If this Committee is to do its work properly, it is important that it have regard to all the circumstances, including the ones which Senator Cotton bas mentioned.
However, there is one suggestion I make. If necessary I shall move this as an amendment to the terms of reference proposed by Senator Cotton. Paragraph (1) (a) refers to the increased cost arising from industrial stoppages and strikes. I have in mind to add the following words: ‘and from consent industrial agreements’. Senator Cotton may be prepared to accept that and incorporate it in his motion. That would save a formal amendment being moved. The reason for this proposal is that during the last session we introduced a private member’s Bill called the Prices Limitation Bill. The object and purport of that Bill was to consider industrial agreements which were entered into by an employer and a group of employees or a group of employers and a group of employees and which may have resulted in a very substantial wage increase as a result of which the prices of the employer’s products may have been increased and the increased cost passed on to the consumer.
The concept of the legislation was this: If an employer chose to enter into such an agreement with an employee or a group of employees, then he was not entitled to increase the prices of his goods for 200 days unless he could satisfy a commissioner - perhaps a commissioner of prices or the Commissioner of Trade Practices - that he was paying the increased wages out of his own profits and was not passing that cost on to the consumer. That Bill went to the second reading stage; but, unfortunately, it disappeared from the notice paper with the dissolution of the House of Representatives. So far we have not represented it. The principle embodied in that Bill might well be examined by the Committee in the course of the reference which is now being put down by Senator Cotton and which will be part of the total examination which the Committee will have in mind and no doubt will handle with competence and, we hope, with great success. If Senator Cotton is agreeable, I suggest that he might add those words to his terms of reference and let the motion be presented to the Senate for decision in its amended form.
– Are you floating that as a suggestion, Senator Byrne, or do you propose to move it as an amendment?
– I would be prepared to put it forward as an amendment. But, with the consent of the Senate, Senator Cotton could more easily and more comfortably include it in his motion, which would save a formal amendment having to be moved.
– What are the words of the proposed amendment?
– The words of the amendment are: ‘At the end of paragraph (1) (a) add “and from consent industrial agreements”.’ Paragraph (1) (a) would then read: ‘increased cost arising from industrial stoppages and strikes and from consent industrial agreements.’
– As the suggestion was addressed to Senator Cotton, I think I should hear from him first.
Senator Cotton May I have leave to make a statement, Mr President?
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales) I take it from listening to what Senator Byrne had to say that he wants those people who agree to the breaking of industrial awards and who are paying more than the award rate - engaging in what might be called industrial irresponsibility - to be responsible for their actions and that the cost of their actions should not be charged against the public by way of increased prices for goods. That seems to me to be a fair proposition. Accordingly, I will be happy to accept the addition of those words to the motion I have moved, providing that can be done procedurally without causing any panic.
– It can be done procedurally.
– I wish to address myself to the substantive motion before the Chair, Mr President. 1 understand Senator Cotton’s motive for moving this motion. He is an economist of some years’ experience and has interested himself in many aspects of the economy. But I would point out to him that the reference contained in this motion is one which would be outside the scope of the Joint Committee on Prices. The Joint Committee was appointed to inquire into and, as appropriate, report upon the following matters:
That part was added by the Senate - for example as measured price indices; and
This motion relates to paragraph (c). This motion requests the Committee to examine the whole basis of the complex law of supply and demand in the community.
Senator Cotton has asked the Committee to investigate certain aspects of the costs of those goods and services. The first is increased costs arising from industrial stoppages and strikes. How could a committee ever be expected to investigate the increased costs arising from industrial stoppages and strikes? If one were to do so what would be the. purpose of its doing so when the basic cause of industrial stoppages and strikes is inherent in the very economic system under which we are living? There is no answer to that. It depends on the law of supply and demand. It is part of the continuing battle that has been waged over the last 150 years of our economic system.
At one time labour was available on demand. It came from the fields, from the villages. As it was made available by the peasants it was expendable. It was taken into consideration at the price which the employer was prepared to pay. When the employer felt so inclined he could discard that labour as he would discard a disposable package or something like that. In those days the employer did whatever suited him at the time. So it would be necessary to go right back to the basis of our economic system as it exists. We are going to have industrial stoppages and strikes as long as the battle continues between, on the one hand, those who have their labour and their service to sell and, on the other, those who own the means of production, distribution and exchange of commodities for the purpose of profit. There is going to be a continuing battle, a philosophical battle, an ideological battle.
Senator Cotton has asked a committee which was set up for the simple purpose of examining what is causing inflation and the like to deal with such a very involved problem. He has also asked the Joint Committee to investigate the additional costs that will be brought about by the granting of 4 weeks annual leave. He has not specified to which section of the community the fourth week of annual leave is to be granted. A large proportion of the community is now enjoying 4 weeks annual leave. Senator Cotton is in effect asking the Committee to differentiate between a person who has 3 weeks annual leave, who has a wife and children and who has amenities in his home that he has to pay for, and another man who has 4 weeks annual leave. The Committee is to be asked to say what effect would follow the granting of an additional week’s leave, to the man who has 3 weeks annual leave.
Senator Cotton has not taken into consideration the fact that the whole trend of modern society is towards labour saving devices. He has not taken into consideration the benefits derived from improved technology. The Government believes that the ordinary man in the community should get some benefit from the technological advances in the sophisticated society in which we live. The Government does not believe that it is the prerogative of the profiteer to skim all the cream off the improvements brought about by the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the unselfish men in laboratories throughout the world who devote their lives to trying to lift the burden from the shoulders of the human beings inhabiting the earth. It is not the exclusive prerogative of the profiteer to be able to get all the benefit from improvements. We believe that some of this benefit should filter down to the ordinary citizen in the community. The benefits derived from the introduction of labour saving devices should be shared, if not equally then on a proportional basis. Whether people receive 3 or 4 weeks’ annual leave is really a matter for the courts and not for a joint committee of the Parliament.
Senator Cotton has also asked ; quite rightly ; what additional cost will be brought about by the granting of a working week of less than 40 hours. Exactly the same argument applies because a large proportion of the community does not work 40 hours. The Public Service does not work 40 hours. Many people work 40 hours a week but two or three of those hours are worked on an overtime basis. Some people work 60 hours a week. Some people have to send their wives to work in order to obtain a living wage. In some families the wife works 40 hours a week and the husband works 40 hours a week just to keep the family going. The continuation of a 40-hour working week is another of the myths that still exist in the minds of Opposition senators.
Only the other day I addressed a meeting of a committee which was set up 60 years ago. It was the sixtieth anniversary of the Eight Hour Day Committee. Its long range objective was for 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of leisure. That was the objective which people worked for 60 years ago. We were able to reflect upon the battle we had to achieve those conditions and we looked to the future for the emancipation of our fellow man. The 40-hour week is something that has arrived and passed. It is only a matter of how long one has to keep a man employed to make a profit from him. We look to a society in which the purpose of work is to achieve a higher level of man’s estate and in which he will have time, if he has had proper education, to appreciate his leisure hours and work will be only a means to an end. But these philosophies are foreign to honourable senators on the Opposition side. They believe that man is a horse and that one only has to put him in a collar to make him work. A horse is better off than man. A horse has to be fed when he is turned out whereas a man can simply be turned out, and if there is no alternative he could starve. In other words, if it was not for social service benefits which have been improved by rebels in the community he could starve. Except that he has certain rights, man could starve for all the profiteers care about him. These are the important considerations involved in this motion which is before the Senate tonight.
To get on to the technical level, Senator Cotton said that the Committee should investigate the rise in wages relative to the rise in productivity over periods of time as determined by the Committee. This is an impossible task to give to the Committee because this is implicit in the whole of our system, like the chicken and the egg. In other words, if there is a rise in prices and the cost of living goes up, the courts then increase wages. So we have this continual cycle of the dog chasing its tail. The motion proposed by Senator Cotton is in effect asking this Committee to solve this problem. Part of Senator Cotton’s motion reads:
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
When the House of Representatives received the message it would see that the terms of the motion are far beyond the terms of reference of the Joint Committee on Prices. I would just like to indicate - the Minister possibly will be speaking along the same lines - that I am opposed to this motion.
– I seek leave of the Senate to amend my motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I amend my motion by adding after the word ‘strikes’ in paragraph (1) (a) the words ‘and from consent industrial agreements’.
- On behalf of the Government I wish to oppose the motion moved by Senator Cotton. In the first place, I want to raise objection to the way in which the motion is brought before the Senate. The Senate business sheet is already loaded with important legislation which the Government has put before it and which ought to be dealt with on a priority basis. I cannot understand why this motion which is rather more of a political gimmick than anything else should be brought before the Senate at this stage. I say it is a political gimmick-
– I think you are nit picking.
– Well, you are the nit, senator. I say it is a political gimmick because if honourable senators think about the motion-
– Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I object to the fact that Senator Bishop called me a nit, and I ask him to withdraw what he said.
– It is a simple idiomatic phrase and I find no objection to it.
– I rise on a point of order. Parliamentary decency demands, I submit, that no honourable senator should address such a remark to another honourable senator. I ask you, Mr President, to revise your interpretation of such an offensive expression.
– When I was young, for someone to be described, for example, as a-
– Out on the rubbish tip.
– Order! Senator Wright, I am on my feet; do not interject. I merely remark that what was regarded as objectionable in one generation is not regarded as objectionable in another generation. I merely point out that perhaps when Senator Wright and I were young the fact that someone had nits in his head, for example, was a mark of derogation. The expression has gone into the language and at the present moment it is merely an idiom to express an opinion about someone who is examining somebody else’s head. In modern idiomatic terms I regard it as an unobjectionable phrase, and I rule accordingly.
- Mr President, I will-
– Mr President-
- Senator Jessop, are you rising?
– Yes, I am. ;
– For what purpose?
– I want to comment on what you said, Mr President. I acknowledge that you belong to a different generation from mine, but I still object to the word that was used.
– I rule that it is a modern idiomatic expression without offence.
– I would like to state what seems to be a very straightforward position, and I hope the Senate will agree with me. We have a long program of work to get through, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has advised the Senate what legislation should, in the opinion of the Government, be passed. In a general sense the Opposition has accepted that program. A timetable has been set down, and that timetable, but for a few exceptions, has not been varied. So the first point I make is that I cannot see why at this stage in the Senate’s proceedings we should be diverting from the consideration of important legislation. One such important group of legislation is the defence forces retirement benefits legislation which, when passed, will be of great value to all members of the Services. That is the legislation we should be discussing at this stage.
– Well, knock off and we will.
– That is a very logical point! This is the Opposition for you. There is Senator Young-
– You are a nit. You are just a nit.
- Senator Wright says that I am a nit.
– Yes, a nit in the President’s sense.
– We should have television.
– Yes, we should have television, because 2 minutes ago Senator
Wright supported his colleague, Senator Jessop, who objected to the reference 1 made to him. But I shall bring the debate back to earth. What has happened here is that by some arrangement Senator Cotton has put up a proposition which is purely-
– You are engaging in a filibuster.
– Order! Senator Webster, your interjection which is highly improper was made from a seat which is not your own.
– They are better from this seat.
– Order! Consideration of the business of the Senate and therefore the business of the people is in its dying stages and it would be better conducted in an atmosphere which is appropriate to the Senate of the Parliament of Australia.
– I accept your attitude which is my own attitude, Mr President. I cannot see why in the dying stages of the session, instead of dicussing those-
– ‘Closing stages’ would be better.
– I do not want any help from the honourable senator. Let us be reasonable about the proposition that Senator Cotton has put up and use some common sense. After all, what Senator Cotton has put up is purely a political gimmick. It has no relevance to the sort of task which the Committee ought to perform because his proposition is not concerned with prices of commodities or products. Rather it concerns itself with the incidental costs of such things as 4 weeks annual leave, a reduced working week and other related matters which, of course, can be debated in their proper context. They should be debated when we are discussing the economy. The relative factors about incomes and prices and industrial relations - the sort of matters which Senator Cotton puts up in his motion - ought to be properly related to that argument. But they are not the sort of things which one would want to refer to the Joing Committee on Prices.
My colleague Senator O’Byrne pointed out that the Committee can inquire into complaints arising from prices charged by private industry and by the public sector, and inquire into movements in prices of goods and services in particular fields or sections of private industry and the public sector, for example, as measured by price indices and such other matters. If we want to inquire into anything at all we have some sort of statistical base on which to work in relation to the matters being inquired into. But the proposition is not that the Committee should inquire into the cost of commodities or prices. It will not look into the question of collusion between manufacturers and retailers or price arrangements under which manufacturers and commercial agents or retailers determine prices. The Committee is not to examine any of the things that we know are highly important. For many years authorities in Australia, including the esteemed economist Dr Coombs, have pointed out in proceedings before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that prices often are arranged between manufacturers and retailers. However, under the terms of this proposal that situation will not be examined. The committee will look at increased prices resulting from industrial stoppages and strikes. But what is the position today? The situation with respect to stoppages in recent years is no worse than it was in earlier years. For instance, from December 1970 to February 1971 the number of disputes within Australia, as assessed by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, was 561; from December 1971 to February 1972 it was 413; and from December 1972 to February 1973 it was 564. In those 3 periods the number of working days lost were, in 1970-71, 334,800; in 1971-72, 377,900 and in 1972-73, 383,700. These figures do not indicate any unusual situation in respect of time lost, so it is impossible to make even an approximate guess of the increased cost to the community of time lost. Such cost cannot bc assessed as can the increased costs of a pair of boots, a pound of butter or any other commodity which is produced by society.
– What about-
– Such cost cannot be assessed, as Senator Wright should know. For example, how could one assess the cost to the community of Senator Wright and his colleague, Senator Townley, travelling on a VIP aircraft to King Island last weekend as compared with the advantages to the committee concerned if they had travelled on a commercial flight? In examining such matters, various aspects must be considered.
– He did not have his wife and relatives with him.
– Well, I do not know that, Senator Little. When the manifests are produced - 1 hope to produce them tomorrow - honourable senators will be able to see who have travelled on VIP aircraft. Certain criteria for such travel were established by the previous Government when Senator DrakeBrockman was Minister for Air. Mr Barnard is now Minister for Air and I am informed that criteria have been laid down enabling senators to travel on VIP aircraft only in special circumstances. However this is a philosophical aspect which might be argued. It may be that some benefits were to be derived from Senator Wright travelling on a VIP aircraft to complete his committee’s investigations. But nobody can analyse the cost because no figures are available. Let us get this straight: No figures are available at present to enable the compilation of a suitable productivity index. Why is there no such productivity index? When 1 was associated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1956 the ACTU approached the then Liberal Government and asked it to produce such an index. But it has never been produced and if one is looking for a productivity index one cannot find it, so what chance will the committee have if it wants to determine the factors involved in this particular question? These proposals of Senator Cotton are simply gimmicks.
What would be the cost to the community of the arrangement made last year between waterside workers and employers in relation to a 35-hour week? It is known that the employers of waterside workers and the industry were able to arrange for a 35-hour week. This resulted in savings because formerly that industry had been beset by regular industrial disputes. In this particular case the industry gained a shorter working week as a result of across the table consultation and the industry saved in shipping costs and freight handling costs many thousands of dollars. Stoppages were avoided. When one refers to the impact of a shorter working week on costs and prices one must have regard to the possibility of saving through avoiding time lost on industrial disputes. This is something that is pragmatic. Everybody knows - Senator Cotton is too shrewd a politician and too mature in his experience of this Senate not to know - that if a burden is imposed on industry, industry has the capacity to improvise and to bring into productive form new devices to offset the increased costs of that burden. Modern industrial society has that capacity. Anyone who travels through factories, as I have done throughout the world, knows that almost daily new machines are being installed and new processes established which reduce the time that a man must work on a machine. By what index can one determine the saving to society from innovations and changes? No such index is available.
– What is the ratio between losses from stoppages and losses from accidents or illness?
– That is a good point. Recent figures indicate that when a comparison is made between loss of time through industrial disputes and loss of time from accidents and sickness, it is clear that time lost because of disputes is minimal. Where there are good relationships between employers and workers there is no loss of time. Some notable industries in Australia have profit sharing and productivity sharing schemes. In those industries there are no losses. Also there is an acceptance of the machine to do the work of man. We have no figures to determine the profits or losses from the use of such machinery.
Similar comments can be applied to the question of 4 weeks annual leave. When the Australian Labor Government sought to provide 4 weeks annual leave to everybody the Senate said that it could not be done the way the Government proposed to do it. It was suggested that the Government would give extra leave only to unionists. Later, however, the Senate agreed to the principle of an extra week’s leave for members of the Public Service. How can one assess the profit to industry or to society as a whole from the provision of additional recreation leave? This is difficult to assess. What we do know historically is that industry has a capacity to meet additional costs. Despite the rising costs of labour in modern society, there is an inherent capacity in the mechanical productivity machine to match those costs. If there are good relations in industry there are many ways to offset increasing costs. I terminate my comments by saying that what is proposed in this motion is surely nothing more than a political gimmick aimed for a start at the Labor Party.
– It was aimed at the Government.
– Yes, aimed at the Labor Party, aimed at the Government, because the
Government is pledged to improve the conditions of the work force. The Labor Party believes that if the conditions of the work force are improved something is added to the industry - work satisfaction. The Opposition has never beard of that sort of thing. In 1956 I went to the Duke of Edinburgh’s conference when the idea of job satisfaction in industry was rather a queer notion, but today everybody is talking about it. We should be analysing the problems of the workers to make their tasks more pleasant. 1 refer now to something which is being done today in the automotive industry in the United States of America and Australia. We know that in recent times the monotony of the conveyor belt system has become a factor in turning people away from the industry. We know that as a result there has been less production. What has happened? Some European countries have devised new systems. I refer to the Volvo factory in Sweden which I visited. As a result of its experience with a loss of motivation and a loss of productivity that company has decided to break up the assembly line into small units to make sure that workers receive some satisfaction from their job.
I come back to the notice of motion which has been proposed by Senator Cotton. 1 am sure that Senator Cotton has been too long in the game to deny that his motion is anything other than a pure political stunt. The motion has been supported by Senator Byrne of the DLP. That is no surprise. The DLP regards everything which concerns shorter working hours or improved working conditions as suspect. It takes the view that workers should work harder and that profits should be higher. We do not agree with that. It is not my fault, Mr President and Senator Withers, that this debate has taken up so much time. It should never have been put on at this stage of our deliberations. It is a subject which needs-
– At short notice too.
– It is general business.
– At short notice. I was told 10 minutes ago that this debate would be coming on at 8 o’clock.
– It was put down for 8 o’clock.
– -No, it was not. It was said that the matter would be given consideration.
– It was set down for 8 o’clock.
– At this time of the night, according to the timetable, we should be considering a very important piece of legislation concerning servicemen.
– Well, sit down and get on with it.
– I will not sit down. I will put my case as I see it.
– Stop wasting time then.
– The honourable senator is wasting time because it was his Party which floated the motion.
– It was put down at 11 o’clock this morning that the matter would be coming on at 8 o’clock.
– If those were the arrangements they were not broadcast to me until 10 minutes ago. I put to the Senate again-
– Why do you not make friends with each other?
– I beg your pardon? Would the honourable senator like to make his point?
– Why do not members of your Party talk to one another?
– It is not a question of talking to one another.
– You cancel pairs and no one knows what is going on.
– I put to the honourable senator what I said earlier and with which he ought to agree. The Party to which the honourable senator belongs talks about the needs of the defence Services. We should be discussing at this stage defence forces retirement benefits. That is the program for tonight. I cannot understand why the Opposition has put on a political gimmick.
– Why do you not sit down?
– I did not cause the debate, Senator Cotton caused the debate. I finish my remarks by saying that what has been put up tonight is purely a political gimmick. It has no relationship to the sorts of matters which might be referred to the Joint Committee on Prices. Senator Cotton knows that if he were to refer to the Committee the cost of goods and services in the community his proposal might have some substance. The issues raised are purely matters which have been canvassed by the Opposition because it wishes to attack the Labor Government.
– in reply - I shall be very brief. When I introduced this subject I said I would be extremely brief and we would save as much time as possible. I have been the only brief speaker.
– You made a blatant attack on the trade unionists.
– Do not talk rubbish to me. I have been through the experience of working with unionists. I have worked with my hands; a lot of Government senators never have. This matter was notified this morning by one Leader to another. Therefore I was entitled to rise at 8 o’clock and bring the matter forward, as I have done briefly. Notice was given of this motion on 31 May. Therefore notice was given and the facts were known. The simple situation is that the Joint Committee on Prices of this Parliament is charged to look into various prices and, if possible, to ascertain whether they are justified. For Senator Bishop to say - I wrote it down -‘Wages do not concern prices; productivity does not concern prices; strikes do not concern prices; hours do not concern prices’–
– Senator Bishop did not say that.
– I do not think I have heard so much piffle in all my life. I agree that we are anxious to proceed with other matters which are important but this matter is also important. It is not a political gimmick. On my part it is a genuine attempt to try to make a prices committee, to which we have agreed, work. If honourable senators read Hansard they will find that I have always commented that such a policy cannot be workable without having full regard to the prices and incomes content.
That the motion (Senator Cotton’s), as amended, be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I table the statement of over commercialisation of commercial radio and television stations for the months of April and’ May 1973.
– Mr President, earlier in the day you mentioned for I think about the tenth time in this sessional period that no Standing Orders Committee had been established. I ask leave–
– I rise to order. I would like to know on what item of the notice paper the honourable senator is being permitted to address the Chair.
– Order! I think the honourable senator stood in his place and sought the leave of the Senate to make a statement. Senator Murphy, do you seek leave?
– Is leave granted?
– Of course, graciously.
– Thank you.
– There being no objection, leave is granted. I was waiting for Senator Murphy to make clear to the Senate what he had in mind before he sought leave.
– I thought it was in accordance with the courtesies of the Senate to indicate why I wanted leave before asking for it. I was proposing to ask for leave. I indicated that you, Mr President, had mentioned on a number of occasions during this sitting that no Standing Orders Committee had been established and that it would be of great convenience to the Senate if one were established. I move:
I point out that Senator Drake-Brockman is the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate and Senator Gair is the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The President and the Chairman of Committees come from 2 of the parties represented here, one from the Liberal Party and one from the Country Party. However, I am not suggesting that in the exercise of their offices they act in a Party fashion. The Committee would have 6 representatives from the Opposition parties and 5 representatives from the Government Party. I understand that this probably is the first time for a very long time that the Government has been in a minority on the Committee but having discussed it with some representatives of the Party I suggest that it is generally acceptable. If there is no objection the motion could be voted on now and disposed’ of. If there is objection it could be brought on at some later stage. I do not wish to delay the Senate. I understand that we may reach general agreement on this matter and if so it would be convenient to establish the Committee before the end of the present sitting.
Tha PRESIDENT - Senator Withers, would you indicate your attitude?
– Mr President, speaking to the motion, I am delighted that now. on what we hope is the last day of sitting of this autumn sessional period the Government at last has got round to doing something about the Standing Orders Committee. After all, I gave notice on 2 May that something ought to be done in an effort to spur action. This has been a fascinating ses sion. Now, almost on the last day, we are worrying “about the Standing Orders Committee but we still have to complete the AddressinReply. However, I pass that matter by. There ought to be a Standing Orders Committee and I think the numbers are relatively irrelevant because I understand that past practice has been that the Committee does not bring in a report unless it is unanimous in its decision. I do not resist the motion put forward by the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy). I only trust, Mr President, that during the winter recess you will be able to find time to summon a meeting of the Committee so that we may look at a large number of matters which have been raised in respect of the Standing Orders since we assembled for this Parliament.
– Senator DrakeBrockman, would you indicate your view?
– I do not resist the motion. I am very pleased that at last we are appointing a Standing Orders Committee.
The PRBS1DENT - Senator Gair, would you indicate your view?
– I concur.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 2531).
– As I said at the commencement of my speech, the Senate today stands higher in the estimation of the people of Australia than at any time in its history. I believe that the Senate is fulfilling what was expected of it when it was set up. It is now operating in the fullest conception of what the Senate should be. The Senate was established to protect the State* and no compact would have been arrived at if the independence and sovereignty of the States were not to be recognised and preserved. The Founding Fathers ensured that the constitutional rights of the States were maintained and protected by providing in the Constitution equality of representation of the original States on the basis that the colonies prior to
Federation were equal constitutionally and politically. Section 7 of the Constitution provides:
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each Stale, directly chosen by, the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.
But until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the Parliament of the State of Queensland, if that State be an Original State, may make laws dividing the State into divisions and determining the number of senators to be chosen for each division, and is the absence of such provision the Slate shall ha saa electorate.
Until the Parliament otherwise provides there shall be 6 senators for each Original Slate. The Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for nach Slate,* but so that equal representation of the several Original States shall be maintained and that bo Original State shall have less than 6 senators.
Tha senators shall be chosen for a term of 6 years, and the names of the senators chosen for each State shall be terrified by the Governor to the GovernorGeneral.
The Constitution, in section 122, also provides that the Parliament may allow representation of Commonwealth territories ‘in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit’. But was it intended that territories should be allowed full representation in the Senate? Certainly, under the proposed legislation, it is not suggested that any territory representatives in the Senate should be taken into account in determining the number of members of the House of Representatives. In that respect any such representatives are not to be considered senators. But such territory representatives in the Senate under this Bill are to have full voting rights and could as non-State representatives hold the balance of power in an institution set up to safeguard the interests of the States - a principle embodied in the Constitution without which Federation would not have been accomplished. Although provision was made in the Constitution for representation of territories in the Parliament, our Founding Fathers did not envisage that such representatives would have voting rights. In fact, concern was expressed that the provision did not preclude such representatives having the right to vote. Deakin, Brown, Barton and Braddon aro recorded in Convention Debates, Adelaide, 1897, as fellows:
Mr DEAKIN: I think my honourable friend Sir Edward Braddon somewhat mistakes the position. If the United States plan ls followed territorial delegates would simply be entitled te eater the House of Representative* amd apeak there, but would not be permitted to vote. They are only agents. The territories here would consist of parts of Australia in which there was merely a nominal population. From them persons might be privileged to enter the House of Representatives in order to state their wishes, but these persons could not take any other part in the proceedings.
Mr BARTON: They are provisionally governed by the Commonwealth.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: Representation should carry with it the right to vole.
Mr DEAKIN: Under territorial representation if it follows the plan of the United States, as it probably would, territorial representatives would be entitled to peak in the House of Representatives, but not to vote. I think Sir Edward Braddon will see that his alarm is not well-grounded, and that whatever determination is come to in regard to the representation of territories must be settled by both Houses. The, Senate will have an equal voice wilh the House of Representatives in determining what representation is to be gives, when it is to be given, and how.
Mr BROWN: I hope that Sir Edward Braddon win not insist on this amendment. It appears te mc that we are again doing as we have been doing very frequently during the discussion of this Bill, namely, trying te put into the Constitution things which ought to be dealt with hereafter by the Commonwealth. II is perfectly plain that as regards any territory which may require to have representation in the Commonwealth, some special arrangement will have to be made such as that indicated by my honourable friend Mr Deakin. To put into this clause a condition that such territory can only be represented under the terms and conditions to which the complete States are admitted will, I apprehend, be contrary to what the Convention has in view.
Mr BARTON: … It would be impossible for the Commonwealth ever to consent to the admission of territories which might be sparsely populated, and which would, according to the honourable member’s proposal, be entitled to six members in the Senate. Territories or districts which are only ia a primitive state of development are intended to be dealt with by a clause of this sort. They are in a transition state, and they are governed by the Commonwealth until such time as the States have reached a condition which would entitle them to representation in the Senate. Bryce says: Besides these full members there are also eight territorial delegates, one from each of the territories, regions in the West enjoying a species of self-government, but not yet formed into States. These delegates sit and speak, but have no right to vote, being unrecognised by the Constitution. They are, in fact, merely persons to whom the House under a Statute admits to its floor and permits to address it.
This Constitution is on a little more liberal basis than that in this respect: the Commonwealth in the case of the secession of a territory which is cumbersome, gives power to allow the representation of it in either House of Parliament under the terms which the Parliament thinks fit. Instead of the territories being governed in a way that only entitles them to be represented as delegates there is power to give them a certain degee of representation. It is quite as much as they can have the right to expect, and tab is a more liberal provision than is to be found m the American Constitution.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON: I should not object to the clause so strenuously as I hare done if it were clearly shown that representation in. this instance did not carry with it the voting power which we generally understand accompanies representation. A representative is as well as being a speaking machine, a voting one, and if Mr Barton will say in the Bill that this representative or these representatives are not to have votes, tthen my alarm will be dispelled. This is the fact as regards the representation of colonies under the American Constitution, but we have nothing in the clause to show that it is to be the fact here also.
But unlike our Founding Fathers, who were concerned to establish the Senate as the Federal part of the Parliament - ‘the organ of the States, the visible representative of the continuity, independence, and reserved autonomy of the States, linking them together as integral parts of the Federal Union’ - the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) leaves no doubt that, as one honourable member of another place expressed recently, he ‘is hell-bent on completely abolishing the States themselves’. Of course, in the process and incidental thereto, he is attempting to destroy this institution which was established to protect the interests of the States. Protection of those interests should be the first and foremost duty and responsibility of each and every person in this chamber who calls himself a senator.
The Bill is a political ruse to destroy the whole character of the Senate. It is an attempt to intrude non-State representatives into the Senate with terms of service the same as the terms of members of the House of Representatives, with elections to be held at the same time as general elections for the House of Representatives, and with any vacancies of such representatives being filled at an election as though it were a by-election for a vacancy in the House of Representatives. This scheme must be seen as the real threat that it is to the independence of the Senate. It is the thin edge of an insidious wedge being relentlessly employed by those bent on the wrecking of our federal union and the destruction of our sovereign States. The Prime Minister has recently made it quite plain that he wants no truck with any States. He believes in a unitary system and his actions recently indicate that he is out to attain that end, if given the chance, in as short a time as possible. If we allow this Bill to pass we will be sounding the death knell of the States and our federation. As well, we would be endorsing the present Government’s plan to emasculate the Senate and destroy its status, independence and continuity. This Bill, as already mentioned, requires the proposed representatives to be taken to election at each House of Representatives election. Such a proposal would make destitute the system of proportional representation instituted by a former Labor Government for Senate elections, which system has provided in the Senate a true reflection of the political feeling in the States. We know full well Prime Minister Whitlam’s burning desire to take half the Senate out at each House of Representatives election - or is it his intention to take all the Senate to election with the lower House and so completely destroy the Senate by making it a replica of the House of Representatives? It could be that such a move would suit the purposes of certain members of the Labor Party, which still retains on its platform its plank to abolish the Senate. Is it believed that altruistic considerations prompted the Government to initiate this legislation so as to enable the electorally discriminated against people of the Territories to be adequately represented in Parliament or could it be that the Government believes it may be able to gain control of the Senate with these nonState representatives? Should this happen, of course, there would be no barrier to increasing, by amending legislation, the number of representatives for the Territories to whatever number was desired and thereby kill the identity of the Senate as a State’s House.
This ruse is only one of many attempts to invade and violate the domain of rights reserved to the States. The first was the proposal to abolish appeals to the Privy Council. This was projected by the Prime Minister without any suggestion of consultation with the States. One would have thought that the criticism evoked by this proposal would have made the Government a little tentative in attempting any further inroads into State areas. But this was not so. There was no hesitation whatsoever by the Government in introducing the seas and submerged lands Bills, which have real constitutional significance to the States. Once again, no advice was given to and no consultation took place with the States. Although the States indicated that they would seek an advisory opinion of the Privy Council on the question of sovereignty over the territorial sea and continental shelf, the Government attempted to intimidate by threats of a double dissolution and to bludgeon these Bills through the Senate.
The Grants Commission Bill is yet another measure which seems to fit into the pattern. Again it appears that the Government is encroaching en an area of responsibility, which should rest squarely on the States with Commonwealth financial assistance, in an endeavour te by-pass the State Governments and virtually make nonentities of the States. As each of these matters can seriously affect the rights of the States surely the democratic process demands that the States be consulted before any action is instituted. At a time when all the States, together with the Commonwealth, are in the process of holding a convention to look at all things pertaining to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, would anyone not believe that all these matters should have been submitted for consideration? If not, why is the convention being held and, at the rate the present Government is intruding on State rights and responsibilities, what matters will be left for the convention to consider?
This Bill, by providing representation for Territories, could as effectively destroy the influence of the smaller States as it could accord more representation to larger States. This was an argument advanced in the United States of America when it was proposed in 1967 that the District of Columbia - the Seat of Government of the United States with a population of over 800,000 - be given representation in the United States Senate. The proposal was defeated, and in dissenting reports on the proposal before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary it was stated:
The people of the District of Columbia should have both a voice and vote in the Congress.
However, it is neither prudent nor practical to treat the District as a State. It is not a State. It should not be. It should remain the Capital City of all America.
So long as every State is like every other State, equality of suffrage is not destroyed by admitting a new State to the Union. But is the same true when a non-State is involved?
The purpose of the proviso - no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate - was to furnish a forum where States with smaller populations could yet exert influence. That purpose is defeated as effectively by according senatorial representation to a non-State as by according more representation to a larger State.
Another view was as follows:
The Senate of the United States is an assembly of States and it is the deep concern of many of my colleagues that representation in the Senate by political entities other than States presents so fundamental a change of concept as to destroy the present constitutional character of that body. It has even been suggested that if Washington, D.C., can obtain voting representation in the Senate, other large metropolitan centres in the country might seek a like voice. Fears of that eventuality can be allayed by the dear mandate of the Constitution. Every city other than Washington is within a State, and is already represented in the Senate. And no Stale may be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent. Consequently any amendment which would grant representation in the Senate to any large city, other than Washington, would enlarge the senatorial representation of a Slate and could not be accomplished with less than ratification by all the States. the large majority of the residents of the District of Columbia are not native here but willingly left their States in order to live at the seat of Government, surrendering the advantages of direct representation for other advantages thought important to them.
. it was no historical accident that the people who choose to reside in the congressional haven are without direct representation in Congress.
I believe every member of the House must resolve the following question in his own mind before he votes on this proposal: On close votes in the House or the Senate where one or two votes can make the difference in extremely controversial issues, should the people who chose to reside in the National’s Capital hold the balance of power?
That applies to cities such as Canberra. Yet a further view was as follows:
We should approach this task recognising that the fundamental principle guiding our deliberations should be the attainment, insofar as possible, of equality of political rights to all citizens. Anything less is inconsistent with our national heritage and should not be tolerated.
It is at once apparent that the people of the District do not now possess equal status with other citizens. They are not represented, as a matter of right, in the Congress of the United States (although, as a practical matter, no group of Americans has a louder voice in Congress). An amendment to our Constitution is in order. We regret, however, that the resolution before the House goes beyond that necessary to achieve equality and in fact creates a special class of citizens accorded greater political rights than that possessed by other Americans. For that reason we must respectfully dissent from the majority views.
We believe that the people of the District should be represented in the House of Representatives by such number of Members as their population justifies; and that the people of the District should not be represented in tie Senate. Perfect equality can be achieved in no other way.
The Senate is not a forum where ‘people’ are represented. Senators are elected by the people of’ each State to represent that State ia the national legislative body. The entire federal system is predicated upon this principle. the Senate represents States, the House represents people. This distinction is the foundation of our federal system - governments within a government, sovereignties within a sovereignty. This principle has served us too well to be eroded by an amendment such as that now before the House.
That is the American situation. What was said in relation to the American situation in respect of the District of Columbia equally applies to the representation of Territories in the Australian Parliament. The Senate is the States House and should retain its unique character. Territories are not States and therefore should not be represented in the Senate. They can be adequately represented in the people’s House, the House of Representatives, in proportion to the numbers of their population. The Australian Capital Territory is to have 2 members in the House of Representatives and this rs reasonable on a population basis. The Northern Territory has one member in the House of Representatives. As the population of these areas increases so too should the number of representatives in the House of Representatives be increased to the number the population warrants.
Under section 122 of the Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for the government of its Territories and to assist it in its task a Legislative Council has been established in the Northern Territory and an Advisory Council in the Australian Capital Territory. Also, the Parliament for many years now has had a Joint Committee consisting of 4 senators and 5 members of the House of Representatives to inquire into and report upon matters affecting the Australian Capital Territory. And in respect of the Northern Territory there is presently a proposal, already agreed to by the House of Representatives, on the Senate notice paper for the establishment of a committee on matters relating to that Territory. Surely there is no area of its size in Australia given more consideration in its development than the planned city of Canberra, the seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and I would venture to say that no other people in Australia have more influence on Government thinking than do those residing in the Australian Capita) Territory. I also believe that no population in Australia of the number in the Northern Territory is given more consideration by the Federal Parliament.
If the people of these areas believe that they should have more say in their development this does not mean that they should have representation in the Senate. More rep resentation in the House of Representatives in accordance with their population and greater autonomy in their Councils would seem to be more like the answer. Surely it would not be suggested that other Territories, such as the many island Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth, should have representation in the Senate, but if this Bill is passed the way would be open for just that to happen.
I do not believe that we should, for what I consider to be political purposes, destroy the whole identity, stature and ability of an institution which has functioned responsibly and well since proportional representation has been made the mode of electing senators. In recent years, through its Committee system and the calibre of its members, the Senate has been acclaimed throughout all sections of the community. Let us not destroy that image which we have built up. Let us throw out this Bill and retain this Senate intact as the institution which our founding fathers entrusted to us to safeguard State interests and to act responsibly as a House of Review. In the course of the State election campaign in Victoria recently, the Prime Minister asked the people of that State to vote Labor to indicate their opposition to the actions of the Senate. The result was an abounding one in favour of the Senate. I therefore oppose this Bill.
– I intervene in the 2 minutes available to me only to say that the present Constitution is based upon an agreement between the peoples of the 6 Australian States. The first foundational part of that agreement was that there should be a Senate in which each of the original States should have an equal number of senators. That is an inviolable principle foundational to the establishment of the Senate. We of the smaller States who depend upon that one plank of power against the larger States of the Commonwealth for exertion of our rights of justice would be recreant to our faith to pass over the balance of power in this place to what is a segment of New South Wales, now greatly inflated and enriched by its unique proximity to the Federal Government and with all the advantages of enrichment that we have seen over recent years. The most untoward balance of power that there could be in this place would be brought about by bringing here representatives of the Territories. This is an idea quite foreign to the fundamental concept of the constitution of the Senate. It is on that short ground that I am utterly opposed to this indirect method of undermining the real power of the 6 original States in the Senate.
– The proposition which has been put by the honourable senator is a fundamental one–
– Mr President, do you not see Senator Jessop? What about Senator Jessop?
– Will you allow me to use the twoor three minutes that are available tome? The fundamental proposition put by the honourable senator is answered by the Constitution itself. Section 122 provides:
The Parliamentmay . . . allow the representatioa ofsuch territory in either House of the Parliament to theextent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
Our Party put to the people in the last election campaign that if elected to government we would allow the representation of these 2 territories in the Parliament in the way which is proposed by this Bill. This was part of our electoral program. It was accepted. The people, therefore, are entitled to that representation in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The voting on this Bill in the other House shows that the Opposition Parties in the 2 Houses are divided amongst themselves on this issue. Why, in the House of Representatives, the Country Party voted in support of the second reading of these Bills. When the Bills were considered in Committee, the Country Party members were in favour of the clauses that provided for representation of the Northern Territory but said that there ought not to be such representation for the Australian Capital Territory, although the Australian Capital Territory has a population more than double that of the Northern Territory. The Bills were transmitted to the Senate and what has happeeed here demonstrates the absurdity of the divisions amongst honourable senators opposite and the lack of any rational argument. Now the Country Party intends to vote withthe Liberal Party and the others on that side agaiast this proposition. This shows not only that there is a division in the ranks of the Opposition Parties, with their members fighting amongst themselves like Kilkenny cats, but also that the attitude of the Opposi tion to the proposal which has been introduced by the Government and endorsed by the people is not rational.
There is every reason why the Territories should have representation here. The Constitution recognises that. It does not matter whether the representatives of the Territories are called senators or representatives in this place. They could be called delegates of the Territories. The Government has recognised that, in the strict sense, they will not be senators. That has been stated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and was contained in a letter written by the Acting Prime Minister, Mr Barnard, to the States on 27 April 1973. I think that this letter will answer the request which has been made by Senator Jessop. I ask for leave to tender a copy of that letter sent by Mr Barnard to the Premiers of the States.
– Let us see it first.
– I ask for leave then to incorporate that letter.
– We wish to see the letter before leave is granted.
– The letter sets out in substance what the Government proposed to do and what I have indicated.
Only a few moments remain in which to debate this matter. May I say in that time that the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the people of the Northern Territory are entitled to a voice in this chamber. Certainly, that description is an apt one. It has been conceded that those who will be elected to this chamber will not be senators in the sense of senators representing the States; the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives will not be affected; altogether, it is a good proposal and is in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution. It has been endorsed by the people of Australia. These Bills have been passed by the House of Representatives. If there is any rationality in the approach of the Opposition, if there is any consistency in the actions of the Country Party, the. Bills ought to be supported by the Senate. I commend the Bills to the Senate.
– Order! The time allotted for all stages of the Bills having expired, I put the question:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. Is a division required? Ring the bells. I inform Senator Murphy thatI will deal with the matter of the incorporation of the letter mentioned earlier by him when the division has been resolved.
That the Bills be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Earlier Senator Murphy asked for leave to incorporate a letter in Hansard. Senator Greenwood asked to see the letter and has now done so. Is leave granted?
– Aye, but I seek leave to make a very short statement about the granting of leave.
– All right, forget it. Leave must be granted without conditions, Mr President.
– That has been done.
– Order! Is leave granted to incorporate in Hansard the letter Senator Murphy tabled? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Acting Prime Minister, Canberra 27 April 1973
My dear Premier,
I am writing to inform you that in accordance with its announced intention the Government has decided to legislate to provide Senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory (including Jervis Bay) and the Northern Territory. Section 122 of the Australian Constitution empowers the Parliament to make provision for representation of a Territory in either House of the Parliament.
The proposed legislation, which will be introduced during the current sittings, will provide for the electionof two Senators for each of the two Territories at the same time as the next Senate elections in the several States. Thereafter, both Senators for each Territory will be elected at each General Election of Members of the House of Representatives.
It is proposed that the term of the first elected Territory Senators will be from the date oftheir election until the date of the next expiry or dissolution of the House of Representatives. The term of Territory Senators elected subsequently will be the period between each General Election of Membersof the House of Representatives. Territory Senators will be elected under the same proportional representation system used for electing State Senators. Casual vacancies will be filled by the holding of by-elections.
The Government’s legal advice is that Section 24 of the Constitution does not have application in relation to Senators who may be provided for a Territory under Section 122 and therefore the provision of Senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory would not require an alteration in the number of Members of the House of Representatives.
The Hon. J. T. Tonkin, M.L.A.. Premier of Western Australia, Perth, W.A. 6000
– I ask for leave to make a statement about the granting of leave for the incorporation of that document.
– I do not know what Senator Greenwood is going to say. It is a simple matter. Leave is not conditional, and I will not have him making a statement on it.
– Order! Senator Greenwood has asked for leave to make a statement. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– Earlier today I made a statement in relation to standing order 407b. Senator Wright disagreed and has handed me a letter which reads as follows–
– It is simply a notice of motion.
– I shall read it because it must go on the record. It reads as follows:
That the ruling of the President be disagreed with on the grounds that:
Standing order 407b authorises a declaration of urgency and a motion that the Bill be declared an urgent Bill only in respect of a single Bill and does not authorise the inclusion of a number of Bills - in this instance 43 - in one declaration and one motion.
That on the expiration of the time specified by a motion pursuant to Standing Orders it is not competent for a Minister to move the extension of the time specified. The expression ‘motion or motions’ used in the Standing Orders has been erroneously interpreted to authorise this. The true interpretation of the singular and the alternative plural is to authorise a motion specifying the time for a second reading and a second motion specifying the time for the Committee and another motion for the remaining stages.
Reginald Wright, Senator.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales -
Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise) (9.36) - I move:
– I submit that there is authority to move at any time a motion for suspension of the Standing Orders without notice and without leave.
– I think I can resolve this problem without involving the Senate in a procedural dispute. The operative and conditional word in Senator Wright’s letter to me is that the ‘ruling’ of the President be disagreed with. I put down no ruling. I put down a statement advising the Senate of matters that occurred last night. I informed the Senate of my opinion in these matters and recommended that they go to the Standing Order Committee which has now been appointed pursuant to a resolution earlier this evening. I undertake to bring to the Committee the matters raised by Senator Wright.
– Well, Mr President, having moved the motion–
– I have objected to it as being out of order.
– I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– Is leave granted?
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide pages 2221 and 2222), on motions by Senator Bishop:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose these Bills and I propose to deal but briefly with them. Basically they are the result of work carried out by the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation. The appointment of that Committee was very largely the work of Mr John Jess, the former Liberal member for La Trobe in the House of Representatives. That Committee worked hard and well and produced a report which endeavoured amongst other things to introduce a greater degree of equity and simplicity into the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. I think that this chamber could do well to record its recognition of the value of the work done by that Committee. I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) whether he might like to consider formally recognising the work which was dons by that Committee and the value of the report which it produced. I personally would like to compliment in particular Mr John Jess for the workhe did.
– Hear, hear!
– I am delighted to hear Senator Devitt join me in that compliment. The Committee carried out a task which was perhaps overdue in the eyes of many people. The task certainly was undertaken with enthusiasm and the net result, although in a somewhat jumbled form, comes before us in this legislation. It was mentioned in the House of Representatives that simplicity in the scheme has not been achieved, and it may be that the Government, upon reviewing the debate which took place in the House of Representatives, and which I do not intend to take up time in repeating in this chamber but which I reassert, will consider some of the criticisms and comments which were made. I think some of them were substantially accepted by Mr Barnard, who was the Minister in charge of the legislation in the House of Representatives. I simply draw that matter to Senator Bishop’s attention and ask him to pass it on to the Minister.
It may be that there would be advantage in reconsidering some aspects of the Bill. However, it is not a matter which should be held up by this chamber at this time. It is for that reason, without going into the matter in detail, I indicate the Opposition’s attitude. We support the legislation with the hope that the suggestion which was made in this afternoon’s Press - that the legislation will result in large scale resignations from the defence forces - will not in fact be the product of this desirable legislation. I draw that matter to the Minister’s attention and indicate that I am sure we all would be extremely interested to know, after this legislation has been in operation for a period, just what has been its effect on the retirement rate of officers who are entitled to benefits under the legislation. If it causes large scale resignations, maybe some attitude will have to be adopted not by way of diminishing the returns but by way of taking some steps to encourage officers to remain on in the Services where they still have useful years of life to give to the armed forces of Australia.
I repeat that the Opposition welcomes the introduction of this legislation and wishes to record the indebtedness of the Parliament and of the armed forces to Mr John Jess and the Committee for their work which inspired the legislation now before us. We support the Bill.
– I want to speak only very briefly on this legislation. I speak as a member of the Joint Committee on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation. I support the remarks of Senator Rae about the work of the Committee. It was a very sizable undertaking to try to bring into a comprehensible form the pen sion schemes which have been available to Australian servicemen. One scheme was the pre- 1959 scheme, with all its complexities, (n fact, it was almost the initial scheme which provided pensions and benefits te servicemen up to that time. Then there was the post- 1959 scheme. Both of those schemes, when taken together, were almost incomprehensible. I think the explanatory booklet which wis available to servicemen to enable them to interpret what the scheme was all about ran to approximately 211 pages.
I do not want to weary the Senate. I want to compliment Mr Jess for his Chairmanship of that Committee and all members of the Committee. Indeed, as a member of the Committee I am very proud to have played some small part in the Committee’s work. 1 have seen and heard from all quarters commendation of the Committee’s recommendations. I thought I should take the opportunity at this point to support Senator Rae’s remarks and to say that I am very happy to have had the honour and privilege, to serve on a Committee which has produced such a valuable report.
– I also, as a member of the Joint Committee on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation, am delighted to see come forward the enabling legislation which has adopted in substantial detail the Committee’s recommendations. There are one or two exceptions and one relates - probably this will be discussed at slightly greater length by those who are already on pensions - to the movement of their pensions in terms of the rising costs of living. Maybe in this area disappointment is held because our recommendations in that regard have not found complete acceptance.
There are one or two things that I should mention and on which I agree with Senator Devitt. The first is the removal of the inexplicable complexities of the previous scheme which was causing great dissatisfaction n the Services because servicemen just could not understand the scheme and it had a very bad psychological effect within the Services. The second is to try to give some measure of equity and justice and to simplify the scheme by making a percentage contribution of actual salary instead of a system of units. That has greatly simplified the whole proposition. We deliberately set out to get rid of the word pension. We have used the words ‘contributing member’ and ‘recipient member’ because unfortunately the word pension has come to have a connotation which implies some element of charity. I do not think it is a good termin any legislation. I would like to see it removed. We have set out to have it removed by this legislation. We hope that it may well be the indicator of what we feel and what the Parliament feels should be done with all social security legislation.
This is a superannuation scheme to which people contribute. They get a reward on their retirement. They get a retirement benefit and we think that ‘recipient member’ and ‘contributing member’ are much more appropriate terms. I do not want to go into the whole of the details of the legislation. The report of the Jess Committee has been before honourable senators for many months. As the legislation substantially embodies the recommendations of the report honourable senators will be familiar with the purpose and intent of that Committee. I pay my tribute to the chairman of that Committee, Mr Jess, for his work and I express my appreciation of the work that was done by my colleagues on that Committee.
I rose principally to point out that I presented a dissenting report in regard to one or two paragraphs of the Committee’s general report. This is in pursuance of a view which I held in relation to unmarried male and female members of public superannuation schemes whether it is this scheme, the Commonwealth Public Service superannuation scheme or the parliamentary superannuation scheme andI disclosed my interest in my dissenting report in terms. I had hoped that the fact thatI myself am unmarried might be accepted as prompting my interest rather than persuading my judgment. The amendment which I shall present is one which sets out to provide that unmarried male and female contributors to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund would have some entitlements to pass on in succession to a surviving mother, brother, sister or child, particularly if dependent, in the same way as can a married man in the Services in relation to his surviving widow and children. My amendment has been circulated. As an amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a secondtime I move:
I have presented that amendment not with any great expectation that it will receive the support of this chamber. Without unduly occupying the time of the Senate I will just draw the attention of honourable senators to one or two observations which I made in that dissenting report which are pertinent asI present this amendment. I said this:
I hold firm to the view that contributors irrespective of sex or marital status should receive as far as practicable the same range of benefits; that suitable provision be made by which a reversionary benefit created by a deceased contributor, and which if he were married would pass by right in terms of the general recommendations of this Committee to the widow or widower, should similarly pass to such person as is within an acceptable and prescribed degree of consanguinity (and in some cases the person designated by the contributor).
I deal with the question that traditionally the dependants’ reversionary benefits have been based on the legal duty to support. But a new concept has been written into this legislation in which there is recognition of the entitlement of a de facto spouse to receive reversionary benefits. In other words, it moves from a pure legal duty to support to a moral duty to support. That now receives statutory recognition. I have argued that if we impute a moral duty to support in the case of a de facto wife, surely the moral duty of a single person who may have a dependent mother or somebody else - a brother or a sister - dependent on him is equally compelling and should be equally recognised.
– You did not say ‘dependent’. Did you leave that out specifically?
– Yes, I think I did. That was in my original recommendation. I did not use the word ‘dependent’ because I thought that this should be an entitlement as of right, not that a means test or a dependency test should apply. Nevertheless, even if a dependency test were to apply, that would be acceptable. At least we would be seme way along the road. One of the arguments that has been advanced against my proposition involved the question of emerging cost. For this reason I consulted the Actuary. I read from page 52 of my dissenting report where I state that die Actuary advised as follows:
In order to arrive at estimates of cost for any proposals concernning dependants it is necessary to make assumptions as to me sua be rs of dependants who will become eligible for the proposed benefits. For the existing scheme, these assumptions can be based on past experience. For the proposed scheme wherein a reversionary pension is available to the widow of any contributor or to the widow of any pensioner who was married when he became a pensioner, as in the existing scheme, and in addition to any pensioner who took a wife after retirement but prior to aged 60, a further assumption is necessary. For the purposes of making calculations for the abovementioned report, the further assumption was made that all pensioners were married at aged 60 or at earlier death.
In other words, the whole actuarial basis of computation of the scheme rests on the assumption that all persons who become eligible for pension are, in fact, married at the point of time of receipt of that pension. Obviously, that is an actuarial figment used for actuarial purposes. The significance of it is as mentioned in the Actuary’s letter:
It was also assumed that the age distribution of wives of existing members would apply, so that very young wives would be eligible for reduced benefits only. These assumptions imply that a reversionary benefit will be available in respect of all pensioners who die before age 60 and in respect of each pensioner who dies after age 60, subject to his predeceasing a wife who was alive when the pensioner was aged 60. lt can be assumed therefore that the cost of the Committee’s proposal already covers a condition that a reversionary pension be made available either to a widow or to a brother, sister or parent who was dependent on an unmarried pensioner at aged 60 or earlier death.
In other words, the Actuary says that the whole assumption of his calculation is based on the fact that every person would pass on a reversionary benefit, he being married and being survived at death. In those circumstances, it appears extraordinarily anomalous that this concept was not received. 1 regret that my colleagues on the Committee were not able to agree. I was the only dissentient. Frankly the other members of the Committee disagreed with my proposition. Nevertheless, I felt that having embodied it in the report, I had an obligation to present it as an amendment to the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I particularly put up a plea for women in the armed Services. I deal with the position of unmarried women who are in the defence forces. I point out that there arc many wemen who by age composition will remain in the armed Services without marrying until they die or retire, probably leave those dependent on them without passing on any benefit. In the course of my report I say:
Excluding unmarried service personnel below the age of 26 years (most of whom will marry or leave the Services) and presuming that those above the age of 45 years will not marry - on the figures in the First and Second Schedules 13.6 per cent of female personnel in that category will continue in the Service unmarried until retirement, but only 9.4 per cent of male personnel in the same category.
In other words, a quite substantial component of unmarried females and a slightly smaller component of unmarried males will contribute at the same rate as other members of the armed forces who receive the equivalent salary and will receive a very much smaller benefit which cannot be passed on, in reversion, to those who succeed them and who may be dependent on them.
The session is drawing to a close. It is not my intention to prolong unduly the debate on this matter. I agree with and have been a party to ail the recommendations of the Committee, with the exception of one which is the subject of my expressed dissent. I commend the amendment to honourable senators. I do so candidly, but not in the expectation that it will be carried. At least it brings the matter before this chamber. I think I can say that this is certainly not the end of the examination of the superannuation scheme for the armed forces. It is a new scheme. It is a different scheme. There is little doubt that time will indicate imperfections in it which will require statutory rectification. When they are dealt with, as undoubtedly they will have to be dealt with, I hope, that the proposition which I now put as my amendment and which was my reason for dissenting from a recommendation of the Committee will be embodied in any amending legislation. It is in that hope, if not in that expectation, that I commend the proposition to honourable senators for examination and trust that at a future date the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) might be able to commit this proposition to his Cabinet colleagues for sympathetic consideration and, I hope, for favourable acceptance.
-The Australian Country Party will support the Bills. As a member of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation, I, too, would like to place on record appreciation of the fine work which was done by our Chairman, John Jess. He is the only member of the Committee who is not now in Parliament. As has been expressed already by other speakers, there is no doubt that John Jess did a tremendous job during the Committee’s investigations. The main Bill, the Defence Force Retirement Bill, substantially implements the report of that Committee. As has been pointed out previously, that Committee was set up because of the complete uncertainty about the previous scheme. No one in the Services had any idea of his entitlement. No one could work them out. The object of the Committee was to recommend a simple scheme which could be understood by everyone.
It is unfortunate that the Government has not been able at this stage, probably because of the short period of time that it has been in office, to bring the pre-1.959 contributors into some sort of orderly scheme. At this stage it looks as though there will be 2 schemes operating side by side until such time as all the pre-T959 contributors and the contributors prior to 1 October are out of the scheme or have completed their service. I imagine that 2 schemes will continue until then. I feel that because the new scheme provides benefits far in excess of what had been provided previously, the Government, in reviewing the scheme, could be generous to members who have retired, bring their entitlements into some sort of order and have a formula by which they will get increments annually, or however they are worked out, so that they can be brought into the new scheme in some way or another.
I cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Byrne. I was not a party to his dissenting opinion in the report of the Committee. I do not think my Party will support the amendment, but at least it is on the record. This scheme will have to be reviewed.
The Jess Committee thought that the benefits for invalidity and compensation brought down in its recommendations would be superior to anything operating at the time, but the new Commonwealth employees compensation scheme makes them look a bit silly. The reason for providing servicemen with a better superannuation scheme than possibly anyone else had was that they suffer particular disabilities. They have to serve overseas, away from home. They are shifting all the time. A lot of them do not marry until later in life. A lot of them have to be retired at an early age. Consequently, conditions of service and superannuation must be made attractive enough to attract servicemen to enlist. Because tha Commonwealth compensation scheme far exceeds what the Jess Committee recommended, that area will certainly have to be reviewed. But in order not to hold up the proceedings of the Senate, the Australian Country Party will support these Bills.
– Notwithstanding the time, I want to take just one or two minutes because these schemes are getting out of kilter. I was pleased to hear Senator Maunsell say in his concluding remarks that when the recommendations of the Jess Committee were brought in it was conceived that the defence forces personnel would receive a retirement benefit in excess of anything hitherto dreamed of. It is stated in the second reading speech that this is a contributory scheme to which serving personnel contribute 5.5 per cent of their salary. After 40 years contributory service, a serviceman becomes entitled to retire on a maximum retirement pay equal to 76.5 of bis pay on retirements. That is, forty years service and a contribution of 5.5 per cent entitles him to 76.5 per cent of his retiring pay.
As Senator Maunsell said, in the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill, which has been deferred until September, it is proposed that in the event of any accident including any disease, morbidity or illness occurring in the course of duty, a civil servant will receive 100 per cent of his pay without any contribution to the compensation during his life. To show the inequality as between the Service personnel and the civilian personnel let us take the case of a serviceman with 20 years service. He will qualify for a retiring pension of 35 per cent of his pay but a civilian worker suffering an accident or illness in the course of his duty will receive full pay - not 35 per cent of it - for as long as he is incapacitated or, if it is an incapacity which requires retirement, for the rest of his life. Let us take the case of a serviceman’s widow. She will receive five-eights of his retiring pension. That works out at 47 per cent of his pay. Under the Bill that has been deferred the widow of a civilian worker will be entitled to 75 ner cent and if she has a child she will be entitled to 100 per cent.
I wish to point out these inequalities briefly again tonight because all these schemes are getting out of kilter and somebody who is able to apply judgment and fairness and bring them into adjustment one with another has to take them into consideration. To show the anomaly between the provisions of Commonwealth employees compensation and the field of repatriation, if a serviceman is wounded on war service he gets a totally and permanently incapacitated pension worth about $55 a week, whereas a Commonwealth employee whose retirement salary was $12,000 a year would receive $9,000 a year on retirement. The widow of a war veteran killed on active service gets a widow’s pension of something between $20 and $30 a week with some allowances, bringing her entitlement up to about $45 a week, irrespective of her husband’s rank or civilian earning capacity.
These are the anomalies I rise to state. I think a brief statement assists to point out that it is imperative that repatriation, defence forces retirement benefits, civilian compensation, general compensation for invalidity and compensation for the accident victim who is self-employed be brought into alignment one with another, so that there is a basis of equity. lt is not for the first time that I take an interest in this matter. I have some pride in having been very instrumental in securing a decision from the previous Government when our Vietnam involvement was at its height that serving personnel should not be left with Repatriation benefits alone but should be entitled to repatriation plus defence forces retirement benefits. The only other thing I want to state is that I regret sincerely that the executive and officers of the Returned Services League, have not shown themselves to be alive to this gross injustice to the war service victim. I state my complete disappointment with their reaction to what has been addressed to them on the question of this inequality.
– in reply - I thank Senators Rae, Devitt, Byrne, Maunsell and Wright for their contributions. I support and join in the comments of Senator Rae about the interest and general pioneering efforts of Mr Jess in respect of defence forces retirement benefits, because there is no question that his endeavours in the early stages were instrumental in the formulation of the scheme which is the best scheme that has yet been proposed. There is no question about that. I should mention too the other members of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund Legislation who should share some of the commendations. The Committee consisted of Mr Jess, Chairman, Mr Crean, Deputy Chairman, Senator Devitt, Senator Byrne, Senator Maunsell, Mr Barnard, Mr Bonnett and Mr Hamer. There is no doubt that their recommendations in the Committee’s first report form the basis of the scheme now expanded by the Labor Government. As every honourable senator knows, the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) in the other place has made suitable commendations, particularly to Mr Jess, and I support what he has said.
May I reply firstly to the remarks of Senator Wright. Senator Wright spoke in the first place about the situation of Commonwealth employees compensation and defence forces retirement benefits. This brings us back to the argument - I will not take much time on this - we dealt with the other night in relation to amendments to the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill because in this legislation there are the same provisions which Senator Wright then rejected. A serviceman who is injured and receives Commonwealth employees compensation, would have his compensation reduced by the amount of his DFRB entitlement. That was the point which was objected to in the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill. The inequality that Senator Wright now refers to was the thing he rejected the other night. I accept that there are some general instances of inequality in the scheme, as Senator Wright has mentioned. I resent what he said about the Returned Services League. I do not think he has any basis for saying that the RSL has not advocated, in proper representation form, a better standard for servicemen. The fact is that a man can receive a war pension and, in addition, he can receive a DFRB pension.
– Only due to service in Vietnam.
– He can get it whatever. If a person earns a war pension attributable to his service in war, he can receive that pension plus his defence forces retirement benefits pension. It is true that, when one compares the DFRB scheme with what the Labor Government proposed in relation to compensation payments, the compensation payment levels at the stage we were proposing them were greater. But we have said that as the basis is laid in one form of legislation it becomes a level for the next form of legislation. That is something like the proposition that Senator Byrne is putting forward, namely, that the Government should have regard to a moral case in relation to his amendment. That has some substance. I know this because 1 receive representations in the repatriation field from people who represent exservicemen and their families; they are not backward in putting forward what they think are propositions which should be considered. I accept that there is a need to have regard for modern standards in relation to compensation trends. AH I can say about that is that I am sorry the Opposition rejected the other night a compensation standard which could have helped to lift those other standards.
I assure Senator Rae that the points he made will be considered, particularly as to whether the scheme will have the effect of maintaining that interest and permanence in the Services which we all want. I think it will. The reactions generally from the Services have been very good. As honourable “senators know, this scheme was not developed quickly. lt took many months to develop. I was on some of the committees, apart from the committee of which Senator Byrne and Senator Devitt were members. I was present at the subsequent consultations with the services as a result of which, as I have mentioned, the Government expanded the scheme which had been proposed in the Jess report. It expanded the scheme in respect of the penalties clauses, the no-detriment provision, the benefits, the indirect advantages of the new pay scales and the purchase of past service. Those are some improvements which have been made to the report, but they certainly are not the end of the Government’s obligations.
I think that everybody would commend the particular interest of the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard). During the passage of the Bill through the other place and elsewhere, the Minister gave the assurances that, firstly, there would be a review of invalidity provisions in relation to both existing and future invalidity pension; secondly, there would be a review of widow’s benefits in the light of amendments proposed in other Commonwealth legislation; thirdly, there would be a review of pension updating arrangements for existing and future pensioners and their incorporation in the principal Act; and, fourthly, there would be a further review of the nondetriment provision.
That brings me to the proposition which has been advanced by Senator Byrne. I regard with some approval the move which Senator Byrne wants to make. But it is a new proposition, as he acknowledged in his minority report in the report of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation. I refer to page 53 of that report where, in paragraph 14, Senator Byrne states:
Examination of many superannuation schemes elsewhere in the world discloses that the principle which is presented above does not find acceptance.
Senator Byrne goes on to say that there is an interesting example in Queensland. So, he himself acknowledges that what he is proposing is a new proposition which, as I think Senator Maunsell mentioned, the Committee did not approve. But there is no question but that it has a great moral basis. 1 can tell Senator Byrne that in our Caucus his proposition received quite commendable interest. It is a matter to which, 1 assure him, the Government will give consideration. However, it must be considered in the light of ils effect on parallel and equivalent legislation. With those comments, I thank the Senate for its speedy passage of the legislation.
– I wish to speak to the amendment. I simply indicate that the attitude of the Opposition is that it will not support the amendment moved by Senator Byrne. We received notice of it at a fairly late stage. We note that, as has been indicated by both Senator Bishop and Senator Maunsell, the other members of the Jess
Committee were not prepared to support Senator Byrne at the time of the presentation of the report and when he made the recommendations. Although I see that it is worthy of some further consideration I do not see that we can support h at this stage. Mr Deputy President, 1 ask leave to add a matter which is outside the amendment. I have just received some information about it and I would like to mention it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I mention for the information of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) that I understand that some 2,000 persons who are entitled under the present scheme will suffer a detriment as a result of the introduction of this scheme. If the details of that can be supplied, may I receive an undertaking that it will be investigated and that some steps will be taken to ensure that no injustice is done in respect of existing entitlements? I do not yet have full details of the matter. I will not hold up the Senate by slating what little I know of it but 1 will try to get details and supply them.
– ‘May I make a short comment by leave?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It was the disposition of the Joint Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation - Senator Devitt can correct me if I am wrong - that under the projected scheme no person should be at a detriment. I think that was the aim. If that was not expressly recited in the report it was the disposition of the Committee. If detriment has occurred it is almost inadvertently. I hope, with Senator Rae, that this matter will receive early attention and rectification. That would be in consonance with our thinking even though it was not articulated in the report.
– It might be appropriate to refer to what Senator Rae has said and also to some of the representations which have been sent to honourable senators, including myself and Senator Poyser, which relate to the ‘no detriment’ provisions, so that the matter will be on record. A number of contributing members have expressed some concern with the provisions of clause 25 of the Bill which is the ‘no detriment’ clause. The position is that a number of officers - I understand about 3,500 - could be detrimentally affected by their conversion to the new scheme and to overcome this detriment some of them may be required to purchase national service which will enable them to preserve the percentage entitlement of final pay they had at 1 October 1972, the commencing date of the new scheme. I would like to assure those members that their position in relation to detriment is to be carefully examined. My colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) has already made it clear that if any serious anomalies are found in the arrangements proposed, he will be pleased to have a further look at the matter.
I also refer to what has been said by way of representation to Senator Poyser and some other honourable senators. It relates to the distribution of surplus assets in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. The las* quinquennial investigation of the DFRB fund revealed an actuarial surplus of some $14. 8m. The question has been raised whether existing contributors and pensioners are likely to benefit in any way from this surplus. The results of that investigation were valid only if the DFRB scheme had continued in its present form for very many years into the future. Honourable senators will be aware that tha contributions and benefits structures have changed radically and accordingly the results of that investigation are no longer valid.
I also put on record something which ought to be noted because this is the substance of some representations which have been made. It relates to the updating of retirement pay and pensions. In the second reading speech on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill, I gave an assurance that the method adopted for adjusting the pensions granted in respect of members who retired before 1 October 1972 was an interim measure only and that the whole question of adjusting benefits in the future was under review. Suggestions have been made that, in compliance with the Jess Committee recommendation, adjustments should be on the basis of maintaining relativity with Services’ pay. For example, if the retirement pay of a major represents 44 per cent of his final pay on retirement, then his retirement pay should always be 44 per cent of the pay of a major end adjusted simultaneously with rises in Services’ pay. This proposal and others that may be put forward for consideration will, of course, be examined during the review promised by the Minister for Defence.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2223), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Liberal Party will not oppose this measure. It will be recalled that one of the early actions of the committee of two that ruled Australia after the election on 2 December last was to take administrative action to cancel all forms of national service. It is recognised by the public of Australia that abolition of national service is a definite plank of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. All the Bill which is before the Senate tonight seeks to do is to complete the administrative action that was taken. It is my view that the Senate cannot undo that which was done on 5 December. As a result of that action there is no national service. It is my view also that it is of no value to the Senate or to the nation to have an Act of Parliament on the statute book which cannot be put into operation. That is the reason the Liberal Party Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We realise that the action has been taken. It was definite action. Therefore we do not oppose the repeal of the Act. I do not propose at this time to enter into a discussion, as I possibly could under the terms of this Bill, of the somewhat tattered policy of the Australian Labor Party in relation to the defence of Australia. So I leave the matter by stating our lack of opposition to the Bill.
– As has been stated by Senator Marriott, the Government has declined to carry out the provisions of the National Service Act. There is therefore no purpose while this Government is in power in arguing about theBill. I merely say that the AustralianDemocratic Labor Party sees nothing wrong in training the young men of Australia to defend themselves. In those circumstances, we fed that national service is a desirable thing. However, during the course of the election campaign the. Labor Party made national service a considerable feature of its policy. While I do not agree with suggestions that the Government can claim a mandate for everything in its election policy, it made the repeal of the National Service Act such a prominent feature of its policy that it can claim to have a mandate in that regard. In those circumstances we will not oppose the Bill, but I can assure the Senate and the people of Australia that we believe in training young men to defend themselves in time of crisis and that on other occasions we will support national service.
-I do not wish to speak on the matter to which Senator McManus has referred. I rise to deal with one small aspect of this matter. On 11 December last year I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) asking him whether he would indicate to me the formal processes by which the 2-man interim Administration had done many things, including the lifting of the compulsory requirements of the National Service Act. On 12 January this year the Prime Minister replied to me, and he referred me, in relation to the National Service Act, to a statement released by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Barnard, on 5 December, which reads in part:
Liability for call up under the National Service Act was ended today by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L. H. Barnard. In a series of administrative directions to the Department of Labour and National Service, Mr Barnard deferred indefinitely all liability under the Act.
Under section 31(1) of the National Service Act the Minister has power to deferthe liability of such classes of persons as he determines where it appears to him to be necessary or desirable to do so in the public interest.
Mr Barnard said that the next call up had been scheduled for January 31February 1 next year.
About 2,200 men had been passed fit for service and would have been liable for the call up.
There were another 30,000 men who would have been included in futureintakes, subject to fitness.
The statement goes on:
All men who were liable for call up would be advised as soon as possible that their liability had ended.
At this stage I am commenting only on the process by which the Government gave effect to the policy which, as Senator McManus said, it had put before the people and in relation to which it sought a mandate and on which, it could be interpreted, it had obtained a mandate. But over a period of years we have seen in this place very severe comments levelled by the present Government which was then in Opposition against the undue use of ministerial power and ministerial expression. Whether or not one agrees with the National Service Act, one must recall that it was a statute of the realm which laid down the compulsory enrolment requirement for national service. In fact, by ministerial order in relation to that section of the Act to which Mr .Barnard referred, the whole provisions of the statute were laid aside.
With respect, I say to those who took this action that it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. I often wonder whether, if there had been some legal challenge to what had been done, such as somebody insisting that he register under the terms of the Act, a court might not have held that this was not a defensible exercise of ministerial discretion. In those circumstances, I think we should have some concern about this matter. I am not debating the merits of the matter or whether the Government sought a mandate and apparently received a mandate in this area; I am merely commenting on the process by which this action was taken. The Government may argue that part of the mandate was to do this as early as possible and that this was the only means of doing it. But there was always available, of course, the immediate recall of Parliament to legislate for the repeal of the Act which, I think, it was intended to do, that would have been the proper course to follow and one that would have satisfied those who in this chamber for so long have been critics of ministerial discretionary exercises. I think the Senate should advert to this and regard it as a very dangerous precedent which the Government, new in office and vested with great power, and Ministers, vested with great discretion that they can exercise, should exercise with prudence and restraint, having regard always to the pre-eminent position of the Parliament, the pre-eminent requirement of statute, and the need that Parliament itself should be the only organ which can repeal a statute of the realm, and in proper parliamentary form.
– May I express my extreme satisfaction at the end of this pernicious Act.
– Why? Were you expecting to be called up?
– I did not expect to be called up and neither did you, Senator Marriott, and for that reason it is not to your credit that you supported the Act for so many years. I am pleased that this Act is now at an end and I hope that it shall never be resurrected.
– I rise merely to indicate that the Australian Country Party will support this measure for, the same reasons as mentioned by Senator. Marriott. There is no point in having anything on the statute book which is virtually redundant. Whilst my Party still believes in the principle of some form of national service, we will support this Bill.
– in reply-* I thank honourable senators who have participated in this debate for their support of the Bill. I propose to reply briefly to Senator Byrne. Two points arise from Senator Byrne’s! comments. One concerns those persons who were not called up, in which case the Government took action. The other concerns those who were offered a release from their obligations. I inform Senator Byrne that it was pleasing to note that of those who could have been released, one-third chose to remain in the Services. This, I think, is a satisfactory position. With those short comments, I thank honourable senators for their contributions to the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2224), on motton by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is a beneficial measure which has been inherited by the present Government from the McMahon Administration. The Liberal Party supports this Bill because it provides an amount not exceeding $2.1m to the South Australian Government to enable completion of the construction of the pipeline from Lock to Kimba, both townships on Eyre Peninsula. It is fitting to remind the Senate of the negligence of the Labor Government of South Australia in presenting the first submission on this project. I say ‘negligent’ deliberately because in my opinion the report concerning this project that was presented in May 1970 did not give an accurate impression of the stocking trends in the area to be serviced by this pipeline. Among other considerations, the report pointed out that because water was the main restriction to further land development for livestock the benefits to farms resulting from the pipeline proposal would mainly come from increased sheep prices. This would have resulted in an aggravation of the embarrassing over-supply of wool at that time. Quite properly the Government rejected the proposition on the grounds that heavy financial commitments already had been entered into with respect to the establishment of the Australian Wool Commission which were designed to alleviate this serious situation. It would have been irresponsible for any Government at that time to encourage further wool production.
It was fortunate that I and other honourable senators from South Australia were able to organise a deputation to the then Prime Minister and the Minister for National Development, in company with 2 members of the State parliamentary Opposition, the Honourable Arthur Whyte, M.L.C., and Mr Graham Gunn, the honourable member for Eyre, in order to furnish the Prime Minister and the Minister for National Development with additional evidence. I must say that Senators Laucke, Davidson and Young have traversed the route proposed to be followed by this pipeline and know at first hand the conditions that have been experienced by the people in that area. I am glad to say that the very excellent report presented by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics recognised the effectiveness of the deputation on page 6 of its report. The deputation showed that there was a substantial increase in cattle production in that area from 1,215 in 1965 to 4,753 in 1971. Pig production increased from 1,634 in 1965 to 4,582 in 1971. There is evidence that the raising of English-bred sheep was being encouraged in that area purely for the purpose of meat production. I was glad that the
Prime Minister recognised the efforts of these farmers to undertake diversification. The Prime Minister indicated to me afterwards that he felt that if the South Australian Government could sustain the evidence that had been presented he believed that the deputation had a case. Eventually, in May 1972 - 12 months after the original submission and 7 months after the deputation of South Australian Senators on this side of the chamber - the State presented an upgraded report. I am glad to see that the present Government has capitalised on the effectiveness of the previous Government and as a result of this the people from the Eyre Peninsula will benefit from the provisions of this excellent Bill. I support the Bill wholeheartedly.
– 1 rise very briefly to refute the misleading allegations made by Senator Jessop. This is not the first occasion on which he has attempted to mislead the Senate by quoting wrong information. Again, I think the information should be corrected. Honourable senators will recall that during the Budget debate last year Senator Jessop had to be corrected by my colleague, Senator McLaren. The actual fact is that the LockKim ba pipeline, the construction of which is the responsibility of the South Australian Government, was delayed and deferred only because the previous McMahon Government refused to assist the State in the financing of it. That was rectified with a change of Government. Senator Jessop was in error in saying that the failure of the State Government to make representations was the cause of the delay in continuing the construction of the pipeline. The delay came about because the previous Government considered that in view of the low wool prices and the failure of wheat crops, and the effect of these things on rural industry at the time, it would not be economical to spend Commonwealth money by assisting South Australia in continuing this pipeline. This Government recognised the problem. Since it has been in office wool prices have increased considerably. The Government realised that the farmers in Kimba need water not only for their sheep, cattle and other stock but also for domestic purposes.
In this dry arid area there is a very high rate of evaporation during the heat of summer and water supplies are essential. No underground water supplies are available, except those recently discovered in the Polda sub-artesian area. Apart from those underground supplies the people in that area nave to rely on the water that has come from other parts of the Eyre Peninsula. The provision of this S2.1m to South Australia will assist the State Government to complete this pipeline. Actually, the State Labor Government almost completed it without assistance from the Commonwealth. I understand that about 69 miles of the trunk line already have been completed and only about 170 miles of distribution branch fines are needed to complete the scheme. This work is vitally important. Kimba, which is the main town to be serviced by the pipeline, has a population of 900 people and this scheme will be of enormous benefit to them. Of course, the Labor Party’s policy on decentralisation is different from that of the previous Government. This pipeline will enable the people of Kimba who rely on farming to maintain their properties and even to improve them. I commend the Bill. It was long overdue, but we had to have a change of government to give these people a fair go.
– in reply - I thank Opposition members for supporting the Bill, but I do not see how they could do otherwise - especially Senator Jessop who comes from South Australia. I do not know that we should use the debate on this Bill for political propaganda as has happened on this occasion but 1 think that Senator Cameron replied to it. I was elected to this Parliement in 1961 and at that time I was given the task of organising in the Eyre Peninsula area. I spent much of my time in Kimba and listened every day to the plea for a water supply. I watched the people of Kimba carting water in tankers from Iron Knob during that hot summer. That water was not only for animals but also for human consumption. The people had to go without bathing and in other ways restrict their use of water in order to conserve the supply. That was in 1961. Mr Mortimer, a former member for Grey, was agitating continually for the Federal Government to provide a water supply for Kimba.
Tonight Senator Jessop spoke on this Bill. I think it was because the Labor Party did not solve this water supply problem that Senator Jessop was successful in winning the seat of Grey in the 1966 election on the promise of providing a water supply for the important area of Kimba. However that supply was not forthcoming and he was beaten in the 1969 election. He lost his seat because he did not keep his promise. Tonight we heard him say that the Commonwealth Government wisely rejected the request to supply water in this area because of the position of the wool industry there. I hope the honourable senator will go to Kimba and repeat his statement that the previous Federal Government had wisely rejected the request for the water supply.
This Government is of the opinion that water should be supplied to that area. It will be no mean gift but $2.1m of the total cost of $3m. Kimba will now get its water supply and I think it is well to say that it has succeeded in getting it only because there is at the same time a State Labor Government and a Federal Labor Government in power in the respective spheres. To my knowledge, in 1961 and long before that this complaint to a Liberal government in both the State and the Federal spheres about a lack of water supply fell on deaf ears. We are fortunate to see the effort succeeding today. I thank the Opposition for supporting the legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2225), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Government has presented the Senate with a Bill to finance the construction of the harbour at Grassy, King Island. This is the same government which up to date has refused to run a ship into the same harbour although the harbour and the ship were built complementarity to each other. The port and associated works comprise a main breakwater from the south side of Jetty Point on King Island to Grassy Island but not including the initial mound of the main breakwater, port and harbour facilities at Little Grassy Bay on King Island, and a main access road to connect the port at Little Grassy Bay with the King Island roadway system in the Grassy area. Set out in the Schedule to the Bill is a description of the port and associated works.
Senator Rae, Senator Townley and I had the privilege, after working as a select committee at great pressure, to present a report to the Senate on this problem before the Senate rises. By reason of great energy and initiative we were able to present that report this morning. The only Minister in the Senate from Tasmania revealed sufficient understanding and appreciation of this problem as to describe the submission of that report as a political stunt. So I shall take in hand first the speech made by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) when he introduced the Bill. He said:
The proposed port situated at Little Grassy _ is being developed as an alternative to the existing port at Currie.
That was the Minister speaking on 23 May. The port at Currie ceased to exist 12 months ago. It is in disuse. It is used only as a harbour for fishing fleet. The commercial shipping has been going into the Grassy Harbour since May 1972 although the cattle loading facilities were not then complete and although the crane had not been completed. It has still not received a certificate from the labour inspector but it is all there now ready to go as soon as he can find the energy that we mustered up to get to King Island and inspect it. This wharf at Grassy was built in less time than it takes this Government to understand it. And the Minister talks about the existing port at Grassy! He then was informed sufficiently to say:
Over the years, shipping operators have found difficulty in providing a reliable, economic service to King Island owing to the hazards of entering or leaving the port of Currie in bad weather.
The waves rise as high as 20 or 30 feet, and because of the hazardous entrance sometimes ships remain outside the harbour two or three days or longer for the weather to abate. Cattle are penned up at the port of Currie for 10 days at a time. Then the Minister for Transport became specifically percipient and said:
Development of a more sheltered port at Grassy will enable larger vessels to operate on a more regular basis.
The whole idea behind the project of building new port facilities and building a larger ship was to have a more modern ship which would be able to carry livestock and bulk cargo in the lower hold and have a refrigerated container hold for other cargo and, in accordance with the trend of shipping economics, to have a bigger vessel manned by the same labour and so carry more freight more economically.
Rather than the pitiable predicament we are in due to the futility that prompted the rather contemptible political description that fell from Senator Wriedt this morning, what we want is a port for a larger vessel. The ‘Straitsman* was built with a dead weight of 750 tons. The complaint was that she was too large. So the colleagues of the Government whom I am addressing - the members of the Tasmanian Shipping Commission - first go away from here a month ago and they are to buy a ship from Europe. They go away from here a fortnight ago and they are to buy an old hulk up in Cairns that is 28 years old, an E class ship which the shippers in Tasmania said they would not put their cargo in. Yesterday, not to be outdone in stupidity, they announced that they are to charter the ‘Blithe Star’, a ship that was built in France in 1955 for a Norwegian company. This ship was introduced into the Bass Strait trade about 15 years ago and has been used for carrying explosives. The union would not man her. She is manned by a non-union crew. That sounds well, does it not, with respect to the policy of the Australian Labor Party? She has n© refrigerated facilities. She is not equipped to carry cattle, which is an essential back freight from King Island for the economic survival of any ship operating that service.
So, Mr Jones having said that these port facilities were designed to accommodate a larger vessel and a larger vessel ideally suited for the trade having been constructed, the governments in combination are stupid enough to use a vessel such as I have described, manned by non-union labour, without any container or refrigerated facilities and not equipped to carry cattle. That is the sense of business that the Government which puts forward this proposal has. Let me turn now to what was said in the other place by a colleague of honourable senators on the Government side. The honourable member for Braddon, Mr Davies, described in detail the development of the port and then said:
Captain Houfe went ahead to call tenders for o new vessel, the ‘Straitsman’ . . .
He continued: we received a telegram from Mr Fry, the managing director of NQEA, on Friday, 4 September 1970, to the effect that the keel … had been laid . . .
With respect to that telegram he stated:
We thought that all our worries were over.
He then described how the, ‘Straitsman’ was commissioned. He said:
Despite strenuous efforts by all Tasmanian Federal members-
He was not the carping, despicable critic we heard in the Senate this morning- and by the Tasmanian Government, we have been unsuccessful in persuading the Commonwealth Government to take over the ‘Straitsman’.
He complained that the Australian National Line first assessed the annual trading loss which would be incurred by the ‘Straitsman’ at §500,000. He stated further that he was able to obtain the transcript of evidence about which Senator Wriedt made aspersions this morning and that showed that in evidence
– How many hundred pages?
– We took 1,900 pages of evidence. Mr Davies was able to read from the evidence to the effect that the ANL had revised its assessment - I see Mr Davies says- to $300,000. In fact, is was $363,000. The last paragraph of Mr Davies’ speech should be understood by his colleagues in the Senate. He said:
The people of Australia just cannot understand why a new ship should remain tied up now for 12 months when the shipping position both on King Island and in Circular Head is so critical, when hundreds of head ot cattle and sheep have been bought for the Melbourne market but cannot be delivered because of the lack of shipping, and supplies of materials to keep the scheelite mine at Grassy operating are urgently needed. They cannot understand why, alternative ships either have to be imported or have to be built in Australia when there is a ship in Melbourne which was specifically designed for the service. However the Minister is adamant. . . .
That is a compliment, is it not, for the honourable member for Braddon to pay to the Minister for Transport, his own colleague, whose views simply cannot be penetrated? The bolts will not go through the boiler plates of the Minister. We cannot get him to move this ship. But we are not opposing the. provision of finance to construct the port at Grassy-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH-The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Although the driver may appear primarily to be at fault in many accidents, there is clear evidence that in the shorter term making the road and/or vehicle safer is often cheaper and more effective in reducing both the incidence and severity of accidents than are attempts to modify human behaviour.
In part the aims of probationary licences and points demerit systems are to remove grossly inefficient drivers from the road, albeit temporarily. The evidence suggests that a very small proportion of accidentinvolved drivers are identified by these measures.
Another way of identifying potentially ‘inefficient’ drivers is through the licensing test. However, there is some evidence that a test sufficiently difficult to exclude’inefficient’ drivers would also exclude a considerable number of drivers who would not fall into this category.
Not all accidents are caused by irresponsible or incompetent drivers though these groups may make a disproportionate contribution. Other drivers, normally skilful and prudent, may become involved in accidents through a momentary lapse of concentration or as a result of a combination of road and environmental conditions and hazards with which they are unable to cope.
It has decided to do five main things re-appoint the Select Committee on Road Safety in co-operation with the States, undertake a program of improvements at locations where accidents keep occurring establish a central information service for those working in road safety increase the technical and other resources devoted to vehicle safety, traffic codes, education and publicity and road safety research re-appoint the Expert Group on Road Safety.
As part of a comprehensive research program being carried out by my Department, and planned for the future, the following projects which focus on the role of the road user in accidents are included
A Sociological Study of Drivers Involved in Serious Accidents
A Feasibility Study for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Defensive Driving Courses
Effects of Severe Penalties on Road Safety
Effectiveness of Licence Suspension
Road User-Behaviour as it Relates to Accidents
Effectiveness of Television Filmsin Reducing Accidents.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
However, before early 1973 the Standards Association of Australia approved the attachment of an identification sticker as meeting the requirements of Clause 14. A belt from which the sticker had been removed would thus be unidentified. As a result, SAA has now tightened its approval requirements.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 June 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730607_senate_28_s56/>.