28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 1 1 a.m. and read prayers.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to repeal the High Commissioner (United Kingdom) Act 1909-1966 and for purposes connected therewith.
-I give contingent notice of motion as follows: That contingent on a message being received from the House of Representatives relating to the Senate ‘s amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 (No. 2) and requesting the Senate to reconsider any of these amendments, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent clause 24 being reconsidered in the Committee of the Whole.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Australian Government recognise the Lon Nol Government in Cambodia? If so, why did the Australian Prime Minister seek an interview with Prince Sihanouk, who is using force in an attempt to overthrow the Lon Nol Government? Are there any other governments with which Australia has diplomatic relations, but is actively giving encouragement to dissident forces to overthrow?
-The answer to the first question is yes, we recognise the Lon Nol Government. Mr Whitlam had conversations with Prince Sihanouk and told him very clearly what the position was- that we recognised the Lon Nol Government. My attitude to this matter is that we will recognise the government which is finally decided upon by the Cambodian people. As long as the Lon Nol Government is there, we will continue to recognise it. Because there is a war going on, we do not try to look into a crystal ball and say what will finally happen. It is nothing unusual to talk to somebody who is not necessarily the head of state. When visitors come here they visit Opposition members who are here.
As to whether we are actively assisting dissident forces to overthrow, we are not actively assisting the Khmer Rouge. We are not actively assisting Prince Sihanouk. I myself do not know whether, if the Lon Nol Government fell- and it still has not fallen and it may not, I do not know- the Khmer Rouge would want somebody else or whether it would want Prince Sihanouk. He has made several statements on what his future might be in his own country of Cambodia. The third question was: Do we go round trying to upset governments? Of course we do not. It is a matter for the people of that country to decide who is going to govern them, and then it becomes a question with the change of governmentas happened in Chile- whether, within certain parameters, you recognise the new government.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Is the elaborately printed brochure entitled ‘Shelter- Australian Department of Housing’ in fact printed, as it appears to be, at public expense as a publication of the Department? If so, will the Minister explain why taxpayers’ funds are expended to justify strike action and bans on work imposed by the communist led Builders Labourers Federation and to promote the former secretary of that Federation? Is this an expression of how the Government intends to promote better industrial relations, or is it simply a Government financed propaganda organ for an extremely militant union body?
-The publication is financed by the Department of Housing. A previous issue contained an article which condemned the construction of the Black Mountain tower, which was contrary to Government policy. I took the matter up with the Minister for Housing and I was told that the publication contains articles which express free opinion; articles are written by various authorities and nothing will be done by the Government to stop an expression of opinion on a building question being included in that journal. I think the columns would be open to Senator Greenwood if he desired to reply.
Minister for Primary Industry recall that in his reply to Senator Prowse last Tuesday on the subject of the Minister’s directive to the Australian Wheat Board the Minister said: . . the long established tradition of denying the Australian wheat grower markets to which he is entitled will not continue.
Is it not a fact that the Wheat Board has sold, at world market prices, all wheat entrusted to its care?
– I do not quite understand the significance of the question. I take it that Senator Drack-Brockman is asking whether the Australian Wheat Board has sold at world prices wheat entrusted to it. I would think that the answer to the question is yes.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister who is in charge of the Australian Council for the Arts. Has the Minister noted the statement attributed to Mr John Harper-Nelson, former Executive Officer of the West Australian Arts Advisory Board, that he has resigned and that in his view the Australian Council for the Arts is a strange and secretive organisation- a vast, didactic, dictatorial organisation with a huge staff and a huge budget whose money seems to be directed to certain arts channels while others are- Mr President, there appears to be a caucus meeting in progress. I find it hard to make myself heard.
– I will repeat the question.
– I will rise at a later stage when the caucus meeting is over, Mr President.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In the face of certain United States comments about Australian kangaroo product exports, can the Minister indicate the present state of negotiations with the various State Ministers responsible for wildlife conservation?
– There was a meeting of the fauna conservation Ministers- that is, the State Ministers concerned and also a number of Federal Ministers- earlier this year, and it was agreed that a working party be established to see whether a program could be drawn up for coordinated management and conservation in order to ensure the preservation of the species. A working party made a report which contained recommendations. That report was put to the States. My understanding is that at the moment a number of States have not agreed to implement the recommendations of the working party. The States which have not agreed to implement fully the recommendations are, I think, Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. The honourable senator, being very interested in this topic, along with a large number of other Australians, will recall that I stated that as Minister for Customs and Excise I would not agree to waive the ban on exports, which was imposed, I think, in 1923, until the co-ordinated program for management and conservation had been implemented.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation aware that there is considerable dissatisfaction amongst the ex-servicemen in the seriously disabled category- that is with 75 per cent to 100 per cent assessed disability- and in receipt of the special compensation allowance, who effectively received no increase in their repatriation pensions in the last Budget? Will the Minister reconsider the withdrawal of the $3 special compensation allowance which appears as unfair discrimination against these men and their families?
– I appreciate the honourable senator’s point, but I am not able to deal with the matter myself in the absence of Senator Bishop. However, I will pass this request along and endeavour to obtain an answer for the honourable senator and consideration of the matter which he raises.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister who is in charge of the Council for the Arts. Has the Minister noted the statement attributed to Mr John Harper-Nelson, executive officer of the West Australian Arts Advisory Board, that he has resigned and that in his view the Australian Council for the Arts is a strange and secretive organisation and a vast didactic, dictatorial organisation with a huge staff and a huge budget, whose money seems to be directed to certain arts channels while others- he mentions Western Australia- are neglected? As this is one more in a long series of complaints about the Council by people of authority in the field of the arts- for example, Sir Robert Helpmann- has the Government any plans to re-organise control of the Council for the Arts to ensure that it does not become the personal empire of a small executive group?
– The Government has spent a great deal of money on the arts and has provided for a great deal of money to be spent. It also has set out with the best intentions to encourage the arts and in no way to be dictatorial. Rather, the platform of the Labor Party goes to some pains to stress that the role of the Government ought to be to encourage and to allow the development of the arts according to the wishes of those who are practising in them. I know that there have been a good number of differences of opinion; some of these can be expected when changes are made. If the gentleman who resigned takes the view that he does of the body of which he was a member, then certainly it was appropriate that he should resign.
My understanding is that some initial opposition to the operations of this body has disappeared as what it is doing has became clearer, and that there is a great deal more satisfaction with its operations. But certainly the Government wants to do the best it can in the field. I know of no proposals for reconstituting or restructuring the Council. I know that at a meeting of Estimates Committee A the other night there was some discussion of the way in which the Council was operating, and it was evident that many of the benefits were just beginning to flow from the new way in which the funds had been made available through the Council and other bodies. I suggest that in this field, as in many others, it would be wise to allow the new structures some time to operate before they should be subjected to undue criticism.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I wish the Minister to permit me to indicate the satisfaction I felt when news came that as a result of his negotiations in Tokyo the Japanese were prepared to consider representations for the import of apples from certain sections of Australia provided the Japanese were satisfied that the fruit was free of codlin moth. In view of the special importance of that approach to Tasmania, will the Minister take up with the Premier of Tasmania a suggestion that we immediately institute a campaign there for the complete supression of codlin moth in commercial orchards, where it has almost been eradicated, and in residential orchards even if it means a government system of inspection?
Will the Minister include that suggestion in conversation with the Premier on his projected visit to the Prime Minister?
– I have some reservations about the use of the word ‘suppression’ because there are connotations which the honourable senator himself would agree suggest an authoritarian approach to this problem. This is a technical matter and I think it is necessary to cooperate with primary producers on any disease eradication programs. My department, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, has been conducting a maximum campaign to eliminate not only codlin moth but also other infestations and diseases of fruit. I shall certainly keep in mind the suggestion of the honourable senator. I would not wish to convey that the discussions which will take place, I hope in March or April, concerning the regional export of apples and pears from Australia to Japan will be easy discussions because the Japanese, naturally, are very strong in their quarantine regulations. The important point is that the Japanese are now prepared to consider a regional basis of imports. We will certainly be maximising our efforts to ensure that the fruit can be made free of disease and insect pest in whatever parts of Australia it can be commercially produced.
– Following his visit to Rome to lead the Australian delegation at the Food and Agriculture Organisation conference, will the Minister for Primary Industry take the opportunity to meet leaders of the European wool industry to assess their future demand for Australian wool and their interest in long term buying arrangements?
– Yes, I intend to talk to the western European wool buyers in Paris and to the British buyers in London. I am hoping to see representatives of the Soviet authorities also in Paris. It is important to the Australian Government that we know the attitude of our major purchasers of wool so that we can formulate any changes which may be introduced after the wool marketing report is presented to me, in about a month’s time.
-Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that some time ago at a Press conference the Prime Minister disparaged the idea of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ becoming the Australian national anthem? The
Prime Minister said that he could not imagine it being played as the national anthem at, for instance, a state funeral. Would not the same sentiments apply to any solemn occasion? In view of the foregoing, why was ‘Waltzing Matilda’ included in the poll to be held in the near future, which will have a definite bearing on the issue? While ‘Waltzing Matilda’ may almost rank as a folk song of Australia, was the Prime Minister not correct in his strictures at the Press conference and would such a song almost make a caricature of a national anthem? Will the whole exercise of holding a poll not be futile and a waste of money unless the people so consulted are asked whether they want retained the present national anthem, which has served Commonwealth countries since their inception?
– It is not often that I differ from the Prime Minister, but let me say that on this occasion it is hard to see why a song which has, as its theme, the death of a swagman caused by his jumping into a billabong should not be appropriate for a funeral. As to the rest of the matters raised, they are questions on which people differ. It is pleasing to know that conditions are so prosperous for everyone in Australia that the main bones of contention in this chamber are cultural questions, such as what ought to be the national anthem of Australia. I do not agree that God save the Queen’ has served the peoples of the Commonwealth all that well, because many of them have dispensed with it, and there has been a great deal of criticism when there have been such events as the Commonwealth Games or even the Olympic Games and Australia has suffered from not having an anthem or a song which indentified Australia as being apart from the other parts of the Commonwealth. Be that as it may, the people of Australia will be given some chance to have a say on the matter. I will ask the Prime Minister whether there is anything further he would like to add on the matter.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President.
– Does the honourable senator claim that his question has not been adequately answered?
– Yes, Mr President. The Leader of the Government did not answer the question I asked of him as to why the idea of retaining the present national anthem was not included in the ballot.
-I do not know the answer to that question. A committee of persons, whose names were mentioned in the meeting of Estimates Committee A on Tuesday night, came to a decision on this matter. Presumably they were responsible for the decision to arrive at 3 songs and to exclude ‘God save the Queen’. But I am unable to add further to that. I will check whether it was their decision that ‘God save the Queen ‘ was no longer appropriate.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can he inform the Parliament how many Bills have been frustrated by the Opposition in the Senate during the 2 sessional periods of 1973? In particular, can he provide the following details: Firstly, how many Bills have been rejected; secondly, how many Bills have been deferred and for how long in each case; thirdly, how many Bills have been amended to the degree that they are unacceptable to the Government; and, fourthly, how many Bills have been amended where the amendments have been accepted by the Government?
– 1 could provide those details later, but I am unable to do so now. I will do so later. I think it is sufficient to say that the answer to the question as to how many Bills have been rejected or delayed unacceptably is, too many.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it true that Mr Tom Burns, a Labor member of the Queensland Parliament, travelled with the Prime Minister’s party to mainland China? If so, in what capacity was he included in the party and who paid his expenses?
-I do not know. I ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that a number of companies which submitted applications to the Prices Justification Tribunal for a price increase in their commodities have withdrawn their applications because they became aware that there would be a public examination of their price item fixing structure, their profitability and their efficiency? Was one of the bodies concerned the Dairy Industry Council which sought a 5 per cent increase in wholesale butter prices? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Prices Justification Tribunal is now beginning to exercise an important restraint on price rises and that it has developed as a major tool in the Government’s light against inflation?
-I understand that the answer to the honourable senator’s first question is yes. As to the second, presumably the fact that there would be a public examination would be a factor in the determination of the companies to withdraw their applications. As to the third question, I understand that the answer is yes, the Dairy Industry Council was one. As to the last question, yes, the Prices Justification Tribunal is becoming an important instrument in dealing with inflation. It is true that the limitations of the Tribunal have been pointed out, I think in this chamber by report, and elsewhere. Notwithstanding those limitations on the Tribunal’s powers, the Tribunal itself is obviously starting to have some effect on what would otherwise be increases in prices adding to inflation.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security whether he is aware that the current greatly inflated property values are making the present level of allowable assets for pensioners unrealistic? As this is so, will the Government consider increasing the value of allowable assets for pensioners so that these people will not be further disadvantaged by the current inflation?
– It is a fact that property values do make inroads into the value of pensions payable to pensioners as indeed they make inroads into the value of workers’ wages generally, having regard to the fact that rates assessed by local government organisations are based on property values in a given area. The honourable senator will be aware that in the policy speech of the Prime Minister delivered before the last election the Labor Party undertook to increase pensions at the rate of $1.50 in each sessional period of the Parliament until the value of pensions had reached 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings. We have carried out that policy in the 2 periods of the Parliament since we took office. We will continue that policy until the value of pensions is 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings. Therefore, in that respect, the value of the pension will have some relationship to living costs generally.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry examine the possibility of proclaiming the rural property ‘Lanyon’ a rural area to be acquired in order to make it a national agricultural centre for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s animal breeding research, forestry and many other research and experimental activities carried on in numerous scattered areas within and without the Australian Capital Territory?
– I have no specific knowledge of this matter. I shall have to get the information for the honourable senator.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development to the report styled ‘Regions’ issued by the Department and I ask: Will the Minister advise what progress has been made in consultation with the appropriate State Ministers to establish regional applications? Also, will the Minister advise whether any regions have been approved under section 1 7 of the Grants Commission Act 1 973? Further, have any grants been made under this Act to this stage?
– I know that a conference has been held with the various States. What has been done in this matter, I do not know. I shall get the information. I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on notice and I shall make sure that she gets an answer.
-I .fer the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation to a report which appeared in a recent edition of the Melbourne ‘Age’ which claims that the Minister for the Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Minerals and Energy are on a collision course over the proposal to establish a uranium enrichment plant in Australia. I ask the Minister whether there is any truth in this report and whether, as the ‘Age’ states, the Department of the Environment and Conservation will be preparing an environmental impact study on the project.
– Order! I Do not know who will answer this question. Will it be the Minister representing Mr Connor or the Minister representing Dr Cass; that is Senator Willesee or Senator Cavanagh?
– I can answer. I think the important point is that there is no conflict between the two Ministers. That answers the main part of the question. As the rest of the question referred to an environmental impact study I suggest that I am the appropriate Minister to answer it. There is no conflict of opinion in this area. Under the Government’s environmental impact policy an environmental impact statement must be made on all occasions when it is necessary. The impact statement is made by the sponsoring department and not of necessity by the Department of the Environment and Conservation. The sponsoring department must proceed with an impact statement for any project which may have a detrimental effect upon the environment.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, representing the Prime Minister. Is the demotion of Mr Mick Young from the position of Secretary of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party to the personal staff of the Prime Minister to fill a vacancy on that staff or is it to forge a link between the Prime Minister and Caucus?
– I do not know any more about the suggestion than perhaps the honourable senator does from reading a report in this morning’s newspapers. I am afraid that I am not able to say whether the report is any more or any less accurate than usual.
(Senator Milliner having addressed a question to the Attorney-General) -
– Order! That is quite correct. I disallow the question.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate not consider that the confiscation of 2 Taiwanese fishing vessels is a very harsh penalty to impose in view of his generous treatment regarding the fines of the Taiwanese fishing captains? Will he consider extending that generosity to the release of those fishing vessels?
-The penalty was imposed in each case by the appropriate court of law. There was an appeal in each case. In the case of the individuals, of course, there was a lengthy term of imprisonment as an alternative to the payment of the fines with some suggestion that no payment would be forthcoming for the fines. The High Court in a judgment issued earlier this year referred to the very great importance of the laws protecting the territorial waters of Australia and the necessity which had been found by most countries to apply penalties such as forfeiture in order to insist upon their sovereignty. Now that the honourable senator has raised the matter I will look into it, although I may say that once the vessels have been forfeited they become the property of the Commonwealth. I am not altogether sure that this is a matter that comes within the scope of the Attorney-General. It may not be. This may be a matter for some governmental action outside of the prerogative which is within the sphere of the Attorney-General. However, I will look into this matter for the honourable senator.
– No. I do not approve of the trick as described by the honourable senator. This was a report made by a committee comprising members of the various parties in the Senate. The Government will give proper consideration to that report. The honourable senator will recall that there is a resolution of the Senate- I am not sure whether it has been entirely observed but it ought to be- under which the Government would give an indication to the Senate within some time of its intentions in respect of any recommendations made by a committee of the Senate which call for Government action. I assure the honourable senator that every consideration will be given to the report and to the recommendations made and that the Government will do what it thinks proper, uninfluenced by any such suggestions as were made.
-Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with the basis of free radio and television time being provided to political parties and being paid for from the public purse as has been proposed by the Labor Party Minister in charge of electoral matters? Is it a fact that the time would be given according to the percentage of votes won by parties at the previous election and further that once the limit for each party was reached in relation to the time factor that party would be unable to continue advertising regardless of any money that it may have to spend? Does the Leader agree with that proposal and does he agree that it is directed to providing a benefit particularly for the Labor Party at the expense of the public purse? Does he agree in this matter with the views of minority parties that the proposal represents an attempt to deny their rights and the ability to place before the public contrary views to -those of the larger political parties? Did he note the view of the New South Wales convener of the Australia Party, Mr J. Fraser, that the proposals of the Minister were frighteningly thoughtless and completely alien to democratic principles?
-I understand that the Minister for Services and Property, Mr Daly, has made an announcement that certain proposals are receiving consideration. No definite determination has been made by the Government of any of the details of legislation. As for the general principle, the honourable senator asked for my opinion. Here we have 2 scientific inventions, radio and television. Because of the limited number of channels or frequencies that become available, there has to be some kind of regulation. Because of the necessity for regulation, we have chosen to take channels and frequencies out of the general area where anyone can use them and to give them to certain individuals. Surely, in the case of elections of national governments as well as of State governments, this medium ought to be available to those who want to communicate their political ideas to the people and to those who want to receive those political ideas, and this ought not to be on terms of some prohibitive price being imposed so that political parties and electors have a price tag put on democracy. Some reasonable way ought to be found and provided whereby elections can be conducted without this kind of prohibitive price.
I think that what the honourable senator said about the necessity to make provision for those who might have a significant following with the public and yet not have representatives in Parliament, for example, ought to be taken into account. These problems have been faced and met in other countries. In Europe in various countries there are provisions whereby one can avoid this enormous expense in conducting elections. I think that we all ought to be co-operating, in the national interest and in the interests of preserving the democratic process, to find some way of ensuring that elections can be conducted without this enormous price factor entering into them.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to this full page advertisement in last week’s ‘Australian’ for the so-called World Council of Peace Forces? I inform the Minister that the full page advertisement is embellished with a large photograph of Leonid Brezhnev wearing 2 medals- presumably peace medals for Czechoslovakia and Hungary- but it carries no authorisation or name of the person or organisation responsible for the advertisement. In view of the Government’s professed worry about the influence of multi-national corporations in Australia, will the Minister take appropriate action to ensure that those responsible for peddling far more dangerour wares- namely, dishonest communist propaganda- are compelled to disclose their identity by statement or authorisation?
– I do not know of any provision of the law which would compel such disclosure. The honourable senator’s remarks might be taken as suggesting some form of political censorship. I would think that he probably would not mean to suggest that. It may be reasonable for political advertisements to have some authorisation even apart from that required during any election campaign, but we have not yet felt the necessity for this. I think it probably is a very safe rule that such things should not be introduced unless there is a clear necessity for them. However, I take the question under consideration.
– I refer the Minister for Primary Industry to the new wool research and promotion program announced by him last night. Why has the Government decided to take a greater role in financing research work while leaving the wool industry with more responsibility for promotion?
– An announcement was made to the effect that over the next 3 years the Australian Government will provide $61m for wool research and promotion. Under the plan the emphasis of Government support will be in the area of research rather than promotion. The reason for this is that the Government believes that research is a matter which has wider benefit over the whole of the industry; in particular, it has equal benefit to the small wool grower as well as the larger wool grower. On the other hand, promotion is a matter which can give a more inequitable return to growers, depending on the size of the growers, and it is the Government’s opinion that it is mainly the responsibility of the industry itself to provide funds for promotion. Of course, this does not mean that the Australian Government is opting out of promotion. We believe that the emphasis of government assistance in this area should be concentrated mainly in research.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it part of the Government’s policy to maintain interest rates at an unusually high level? If it is not, will the Minister ask his colleagues the Treasurer and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development to consider the position of local government bodies which have particularly heavy and to them unusual loan raising needs to cover programs such as sewerage? Will the Minister seek to have his colleagues assist such local government bodies which otherwise must enter into long term- 15 years or more- commitments to pay the current unusually high interest rates, thereby imposing a long term extra burden upon municipal ratepayers?
-No, it is not the Government’s policy to maintain high interest rates. The present high interest rates have been brought about only because of the very bad inflationary situation in the world today. The answer to the second part of the question is yes, I will ask the Ministers to see what they can do to help local government bodies.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory inform the Senate whether rural freehold land in the Australian Capital Territory is valued for death duty purposes at what it is considered to be worth as an agricultural proposition or at what it would bring in the open market as a future urban proposition, that is, at market value as determined by sales evidence?
-I think the land would be valued on the basis of an agricultural proposition and not as an urban proposition. But I am not sure because I am not a taxation expert. I will find out for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Prime Minister’s brief and uninformative statement presented yesterday on his visit to Japan and China. Is it the Prime Minister’s intention to make a detailed statement to Parliament on his discussions in Tokyo and Peking and on his meeting with Prince Sihanouk so that Parliament and the people can be fully informed as to the meaning, for example, of such expressions as Australia’s new aspiration is symbolised more in our relations with China than with any other country’? Further, is the reported statement by Prince Sihanouk, which was published and released today in Peking, an accurate account of the Prime Minister’s discussions with the Prince?
– The improvement in the way in which we are handling statements is that statements were never made previously. This has been an inauguration of this Government. We have presented a statement on any conference that we have attended overseas.
– What is the inauguration?
– The inauguration is the presenting to this Parliament of statements dealing with conferences that we attend overseas. As soon as I get the details finalised next week I will be presenting statements on 4 conferences that I attended. This was never done previously. What happened previously was that now and again we would get a statement on foreign affairs.
– A full statement.
- Senator Sim says that it was a full statement. He is getting very confused about 2 different things. Honourable senators are still presented with the same type of statement by this Government when it is considered appropriate.
– Not a full statement.
-Senator Sim has asked his question and he should listen to the reply. That is why he never improves; he talks all the time and never listens.
– You never answer.
– I am answering very clearly. Senator Sim is getting completely confused about 2 things. Honourable senators were presented with foreign affairs statements by the previous Government and those statements used to be criticised by the then Opposition. Now they are presented with statements by this Goverment and those statements are criticised by the present Opposition. There is nothing new about that. What is new is that we are giving, tabling and making public statements about those conferences which we attend overseas. In my own case, when I did attend a conference I gave a brief report which became a public document. The one favourable thing which Senator Greenwood said about the statement yesterday was that it was completely proper. He looks amazed that he said anything good about it, but he did. If he looks at Hansard he will see that he did. He said that it was completely right.
– Order! I suggest that the Minister conclude his remarks. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that they cannot revive a debate by asking a question, as Senator Sim did. I allowed the question because it was marginal. I do not want it debated. I suggest that the Minister conclude his remarks.
- Mr President, I thought that the question was completely out of order but I did not want to take that point. We have given a brief statement on the activities of the Prime Minister in the 2 countries.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. I refer to a statement made by Senator Cavanagh during the recent debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. My recollection is that he said words to the effect that a basic principle underlying the Government’s industrial policies is the fundamental right of individual workers to give or to withhold their labour. If the statement is not correct, the Minister might correct it. Does the Government acknowledge a parallel right of employers, as individuals, to give or to withhold their labour and services?
– I would not be so bold as to say that I said that that was Government policy. I said that it was a right. A distinction between the free man and the slave is a right to give or to withhold his labour. The honourable senator raised another point. There is a question not of employers withholding services but of employers refusing to make available the machinery and the implements by which someone can earn his living. Such action takes away the complete freedom of the individual.
– Are employers free men or slaves?
– They are businessmen.
– Therefore they are not people.
-No. They undertake a public responsibility and a public obligation. I do not know that there is any suggestion of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act being applied to employers, despite the answer which I heard the Attorney-General give to a question as to whether there had been a breach of the Act in New South Wales. If Senator Carrick is seeking to justify the events in New South Wales he will not get much support for his advocacy.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Why have candidates for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee election on 24 November not been informed whether their nominations have been accepted? Will candidates be permitted to solicit funds from political parties, organisations and /or individuals to assist them in the financing of their campaigns? When will candidates be informed of the actual method of marking ballot papers, thus enabling them to prepare how to vote material?
-Candidates have freedom to canvass votes for themselves. I would say that they have freedom to collect money to assist them in their campaigns from wherever they come. It is news to me that candidates were not notified. A list of candidates is available and has been publicised in the Press. No candidate was refused. The method of voting has also been notified. Most of the candidates have supplied photographs of themselves which will be on the ballot papers. If they have not supplied photographs, their names will be on the ballot papers. A cross against a name or against a photograph will count as a formal vote. If the candidates have not been notified individually of this, I will take the matter up to see whether we can get early notification to the candidates.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to a question asked earlier today by Senator Mulvihill about the conservation of kangaroos. I understood from the Minister’s answer that a report of a working party- I do not know whether that is the right term- concerning the conservation measures of the various States has been prepared and apparently has been studied by the Minister. Will the Minister make that report available by tabling it or by publishing it in some other way? Further, does the fact that the Western Australian Government has not accepted the recommendations mean that the repeated statements which the Minister has made, to the effect that he approves of the Western Australian methods of conservation are not accepted by the working party and that some further measures are recommended for Western Australia?
– There was a working party and it made a report. I will see whether the report can be tabled. At the moment I cannot see any reason why it should not be tabled; but I will look into that. As for the remarks about Western Australia, if I recall my statements correctly, I was a little cautious in my endorsement of what was being done in Western Australia. I think I said that what was being done by the Western Australian Government was welcomed and that it was trying more than the governments of some other States to engage in wise conservation. However, I am speaking only from memory of what I said earlier in the year. I am pretty sure that I did not give wholehearted endorsement. I do not claim to be an expert in these matters. One relies upon the advice that one is given. But, my recollection of what I said is that certainly Western Australia had been attempting to do something. But my information is that Western Australia has not accepted all the recommendations of the working party. I think it has accepted some and is putting into effect some but not all of the recommendations.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer him to recent Press statements that the famous Aboriginal bark painter Yirawala is considering returning his M.B.E. to the Queen because it is felt that he has been treated shabbily by the Government. As it appears that the Northern Territory Division of his Department has been less than helpful in this instance, will the Minister undertake to ascertain the full facts of Yirawala ‘s applications for grants and subsequently determine whether there is something he can do to assist this world-renowned artist?
-Some time ago I received a report on this matter which, I think, concerned a statement that the Department would not pay Yirawala ‘s fare so that he could visit a relative in hospital in Darwin. The relative, a girl, was not suffering from a serious complaint, but she had spent a long period in hospital. I understand that 4 Aborigines landed at Darwin and then wanted their fares home to be paid for them. A second question concerned the financing of a jeep, a car or a truck. The Department has not refused Yirawala permission to apply for assistance to buy a vehicle. We will assist him to prepare an application for our consideration. No application has yet been received. An earlier claim was made in respect of a motor vehicle. The Department was concerned as to whether it would have an effect on the ecology of the island and also whether it could be purchased from the Department’s capital funds- perhaps from the Aboriginal Benefits Trust Fund. As a result the request was altered to the purchase of a boat. The Trust Fund assisted in the purchase of a boat. If any application is made for another vehicle consideration will be given to it.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister, through the Attorney-General, has drafted a reply to questions asked without notice on 1 7 October by Senator Marriott, Senator Cotton and me concerning the purchase of the painting ‘Blue Poles’. The reply, inter alia, states that $A67,310 or US$100,000 was paid to Max Hutchinson (New York) Ltd, for brokerage and other services in connection with the purchase of the painting. I ask the Attorney-General whether a member of the Visual and Plastic Arts Board, which I understand was associated with the purchase of this painting, is associated commercially with Max Hutchinson (New York) Ltd, the recipient of the commission? If so, in the public interest will immediate action be taken to ensure that there is no possibility of private commercial gain accruing to the holder of a public office arising from privilege and influence in that particular office?
– Yes, I will look into the matter.
-I wish to ask a formal question to which the answer is always yes. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence table the manifests of RAAF Squadron 34, that is, the VIP Squadron, from the day details were last given until the end of October 1973?
-I must disagree with the honourable senator. The answer to that question has not always been yes. On this occasion the answer is yes. The manifests will be tabled in what is now the ordinary course.
-by leave-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That there be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts the following matter Procedures, organisation and action necessary to ensure that the Australian Council for the Arts and its boards properly and effectively carry out their task of overall promotion of the arts in Australia.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement for the purpose of an apology and in explanation of matters which occurred in the Senate yesterday.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr President, noticing for the first time from the record of the proceedings of this chamber that you ordered me to resume my seat yesterday, I unreservedly tender to the Chair an apology for non-compliance with that order. I assure you, Mr President, that at the time I was called on for an explanation yesterday I was quite unconscious of the fact that you had so ordered me and had not at any time heard you do so.
Having offered tothe Chair that unreserved apology, I wish to add twothings, not in justification but in explanation. Firstly, when I sought leave I conceived that I was entitled to have that put to the Senate instead of a rejection by you, Mr President, as the record shows to have been the case. Secondly, I wish to suggest to you, Sir, with the utmost respect, that consideration be given to the wisdom of reviving a traditional procedure, out of courtesy to the honourable senator who has the floor and whose right to speak is a very jealous one, of the President rising, if the honourable senator is to be interrupted by a direction to curtail his speech, to make known to the honourable senator the deliberation that, of course, would obviously precede a direction of that sort. I put those matters to you, Sir, in the utmost brevity and, needless to say, with respect.
– I am glad that Senator Wright has raised this matter, if for no other reason than that I am grateful that he should now feel that he had offended although he did not realise, at the time, that he had offended. I would also like to assure the honourable senator, with whom I have been associated in and out of the Parliament for nearly a quarter of a century, that I have never found myself involved in a more distasteful process than that in which I found myself involved yesterday when I named him.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Defence Legal Services Committee of Review dated November 1971. Because only a limited number of copies of the report is available, a copy has been placed in the Parliamentary Library for use by honourable senators.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962-1972, I present the tenth annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the AuditorGeneral’s report on those statements.
-As Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, I present the 145th and 146th reports of the Public Accounts Committee.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I seek leave to make a short statement, Mr President.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The 145th report of the Public Accounts Committee comprises 2 Treasury minutes relating to previous reports of the Committee. Those reports were the 123rd report and the 133rd report, which dealt with expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for 1969-70 and 1970-71 respectively. In this report the Committee has found it necessary to make observations on 2 matters relating to the Treasury minute on the 123rd report and 2 matters in connection with the Treasury minute on the 133rd report. Briefly, the observations were concerned with the Adequacy of training provided by the Treasury in the interpretation of output data from the Treasury computer system; incomplete evidence submitted by the Department of Works and the Department of Air; and delays in the payment of accounts by client departments of the Department of Supply. Further details are set out in chapter 4 of the report.
The 146th report concerns the Committee’s inquiry into aspects arising from the report of the Auditor-General for the financial year 1971-72. The Committee would again commend the Auditor-General and his staff for the sustained effort they have made over the years to present the report to Parliament during August. As we have indicated on previous occasions, the tabling of the report in that month each year has assisted the Committee considerably in this important area of its work.
In its inquiry the Committee took evidence from the Department of Air, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, the Public Service Board, the Department of Supply, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Works. In all, our inquiries related to 8 matters.
In relation to the Department of Civil Aviation, the Committee inquired into fraudulent salary payments that occurred in the Department’s Victoria-Tasmania region. The frauds were perpetrated by a number of officers within the salaries section in collusion with other participants. The evidence shows that a significant factor in the frauds was the failure of departmental officers to observe internal controls and checks specified in Treasury regulations, Treasury directions and Departmental instructions. Other factors that facilitated the frauds were a lack of sufficient staff to handle the volume of work and the general inexperience of the staff in the salaries section. It appears that appropriate action has been taken by the Department to prevent a recurrence of similar frauds.
The evidence taken from the 3 Service departments related mainly to inadequate checking of billings received from the United States services for equipment and stores supplied which resulted in substantial over-charges of approximately $900,000 not being detected. The Committee considers it most unsatisfactory that inadequate checking of billings has persisted for so many years. The Committee hopes that the measures proposed to overcome the checking deficiencies will be successful and has called for a report on the current position from the departments concerned.
In connection with the Department of Supply, the Committee inquired into the necessity to subsidise production in 1971-72 for the first time at the Central Drawing Office and the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory by charging amounts to the appropriation ‘reserve capacity maintenance’. The evidence shows that the Central Drawing Office did not have a viable work load after the transfer of much of its work and staff to the Defence Printing Establishment and productivity at the Clothing Factory had been adversely affected by a change in location and the Victorian electricity strike. On examination of the Auditor-General’s report for 1972-73, we note that the Clothing Factory seems to have regained its viability as there was no charge to the appropriation in 1972-73 and the Central Drawing Office ceased operations as a separate undertaking as from 1 July 1973.
Also in connection with the Department of Supply the Committee inquired into overexpenditure on orders at the Government Aircraft Factories. A number of remedial steps were taken by the Department following Audit representations and the Committee is satisfied that each of them will contribute to the eradication of the problem.
In the case of the Department of Works the Committee’s inquiry related to a claim by the Department against a private consultant in respect of the cost of rectification of deficiencies in the design for the structural frame for the terminal building at Tullamarine Airport. The Committee was neither fully satisfied with the method used to select the particular consultant nor with the methods of selection generally prevailing and has recommended that the Department should examine the alternative methods of selection suggested during the inquiry. The Committee was also not satisfied that sufficient control had been exercised in the administration of the contract and considered that every effort should be made to prevent a recurrence of similiar circumstances. In addition to these matters, evidence was taken from the Department of Air in relation to accounting for supplies purchased overseas, the Public Service Board concerning incorrect payments to officers leaving the Public Service and the Department of the Treasury in relation to the Works Services Trust Account. I commend the reports to honourable senators.
-I bring up the following report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices:
Import prices inquiry-price effects of currency changesReport No. 1.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to move that the Senate take note of the report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
This report on import prices, Report No. 1, which has just been tabled, is the second report presented to the Parliament by the Joint Committee on Prices. It is the first in a series of reports on this particular reference. As background, I draw the attention of honourable senators to the complex nature of this particular inquiry. The Committee faced difficulties in its investigations by the lack of appropriate statistical information. There is no genuine import price index, nor is there other statistical information on import prices collected on a cost, insurance and freightc.i.f. basis similar to that which is available in some other countries. Furthermore, changes in selling prices in Australia of imported goods cannot be obtained from the information collected for the compilation of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics’ consumer price index and wholesale price indexes. There is, therefore, no overall measure of the effect of revaluation or of other changes in landed costs on the selling prices of imported goods. This is a matter on which the Committee proposes to comment in a later report on this reference.
Because of this absence of adequate statistical information the Committee had to pursue a commodity by commodity investigation to find out whether reductions in landed costs had been passed on to the consumer or user. The commodities and services covered in Report No. 1 are inward freight rates, tyres and tubes, timber and pharmaceutical products. A strict interpretation of the terms of reference requires the Committee to comment only on whether reductions in landed costs, following currency changes, have been passed on to the consumer or user. The Committee resolved to expand its terms of reference to ascertain whether landed costs have fallen in the first instance when they should have fallen, because of the currency changes. There is, therefore, also comment in this report on the effect of currency changes on landed costs.
I consider that one of the functions of the Joint Committee on Prices is to inform Parliament and educate the community on this important subject of inflation. What this means for this particular inquiry is a description of the general background of revaluation. Incidentally, the Committee has preferred to use the term ‘upvaluation’ in referring to the increases in the value of the Australian dollar vis-a-vis other currencies. What should one expect from upvaluations? What are the net effects of upvaluations on domestic prices and so forth? These questions have been dealt with by the Committee in the first chapter of this report. When looking at the question of what to expect from upvaluations, we do have to face some popular misconceptions about benefits. Success of upvaluation as an ami- inflationary policy should not be judged solely by the extent to which consumer prices have fallen; success depends mainly on whether or not upvaluation has restrained increases in import prices.
In the present climate of world-wide inflation, therefore, the success of the policy can be j judged only in terms of whether import prices would have increased, or increased even further, without upvaluation. In this respect the graph in the report on page 1 1 is very revealing. The graph shows that in the first 3 months of 1973 import prices did fall and a ‘gap’ opened between the lines representing price trends in overseas countries and Australian import prices. One important finding of the Committee, therefore, is that, against the background of continuing world inflation, upvaluation of the Australian dollar has restrained the increase in import prices. In other words, these import prices would have been significantly higher without upvaluation.
I turn now to the individual commodities and services covered by this particular report. Concerning inward freight, the Committee recommends that the Australian Government obtains details of the currency adjustment factor, CAF, scheme as it operates overseas; and endeavours to find out whether the application of the CAF has enabled overseas shipowners to take advantage of the currency changes to obtain larger profits.
Concerning the import of tyres and tubes into Australia, the Committee finds that reductions in the landed costs of these imports are being passed on to the consumer and user because of competitive market conditions at home and abroad.
Concerning the imports of timber, the Committee found that there are restrictive practices of suggesting prices and profit margins in the timber industry and that these practices could reduce any advantage gained from upvaluation. The Committee therefore recommends that these practices be investigated by the relevant authority. Furthermore, the Committee found that export prices of timber have increased rapidly because of world shortages with the result that landed costs have also increased despite upvaluation. However, the evidence indicates that since in boom conditions exporters would not sell under the market price, upvaluation has assisted in restraining increases which would have been greater had there been no upvaluation.
Concerning pharmaceutical products, the evidence received was mainly in respect of products coming within the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. The evidence given to the Committee shows that landed costs of imports from the United Kingdom and the United States of America, whose currencies have devalued against the Australian dollar, of fully finished goods and active ingredients have generally fallen as a result of the currency changes. Since the consumer buys prescription medicines at a subsidised price he has not benefited directly. He has benefited, however, as a taxpayer because these reductions would reduce relatively the costs of operating the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Since prices are negotiated between the Department of Health and the manufacturers, the Committee was not able to find out the extent to which upvaluation was responsible for price reductions.
The Committee found that some overseas manufacturers have taken advantage of the currency changes to raise their selling prices and, therefore, their profits. The means by which this has been achieved is by the overseas supplier quoting in Australian dollars. The Committee is not satisfied with the explanations given for this practice and is led to the conclusion that the overseas parent companies have been using their monopoly powers to obtain windfall profits from the Australian upvaluations. The commodities mentioned in the report are Intal, a drug used for the treatment of asthma, and Lyndiol and ()VOS.tat which are contraceptives. It is also possible that some of the benefits of upvaluation may have been lost in respect of the products Eraldin and Inderal. The Committee recommends that the Australian Government negotiates with the UK companies that export Intal, Lyndiol and Ovostat with a view to recouping some of the benefits lost.
An associated question raised by the Department of Health and referred to by the Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association during our inquiry is whether or not the Department should receive cost and profit information which would assist it in its negotiations with manufacturers on prices for drugs coming within the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. If the Department is able by these means to reach a better judgment on price, then this is relevant to the import prices inquiry. It is certainly relevant to the consumer as a taxpayer because the scheme costs the community in the vicinity of $200m per annum. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the National Health Act be amended to make it mandatory for companies to provide the Department of Health with cost and financial information in respect of products in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
These, then, are the major findings and recommendations of the Committee in its first report on import prices. As I mentioned earlier, further reports on specific commodities will be tabled from time to time. I have to report that those present at one or more of the meetings when this report was considered and unanimously adopted were the Chairman, Senators Gietzelt and Prowse, the honourable members for Gippsland, (Mr Nixon), Phillip (Mr Riordan), EdenMoraro (Mr Whan), Gellibrand (Mr Willis) and myself. The honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) was absent at the United Nations in New York. I understand that at least one other member- the Deputy Chairman, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), who was not able to be present at these meetings -has arrived at a different conclusion on one or two of the findings and he will be informing the other place of his views when, at a later date, the report is debated. I commend the report to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to determine the site of the new and permanent Parliament House, to provide for the grounds in the vicinity of the Parliament to be controlled by the Parliament, and to set aside an area on Capital Hill to be known as the National Garden of Australia.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That unless otherwise ordered, intervening business on the notice paper be postponed until after the consideration of government business, order of the day Nos 1 to S, 27, 30, 6, 3 1 , 32 and 34 respectively, and that at 4.30 p.m. this day intervening business be postponed until after the consideration of government business, order of the day No. 1 8 relating to the siting of the new and permanent House.
- Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-As I have already informed the Senate, Estimates Committee F will meet on Monday next at 2 p.m. in the Senate chamber. It has now been arranged that Estimates Committee A and C will meet next Tuesday, 13 November, at 8.30 p.m. Estimates Committee A will meet in the Senate chamber and Estimates Committee C will meet in Senate Committee Room No. 1.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In view of the fact that the Bill originated in another place and that my second reading speech is the same as the one which was read in another place, I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The Bill will expand the involvement of the Australian Government in mental health and related health fields. It replaces the States Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act under which grants were made towards the capital cost of mental health institutions. That Act expired on 30 June 1973. The Bill adopts a different approach, while taking on a much wider view of mental health than that of the earlier Act. The Government proposes grants for the capital costs of approved additional community facilities for alcohol and drug dependent persons and the mentally disturbed or disabled. These will not be inside mental hospitals. They will include both non-residential and hostel facilities for prevention, outpatient treatment, training and rehabilitation. Besides funding capital projects we will make grants to meet maintenance costs of approved nonresidential services for alcohol, drug and mental problems, including prevention, teaching, research and the evaluation of treatment programs.
Under the Bill the Minister will approve schemes and projects submitted by the States, local governing bodies and voluntary organisations. State schemes may include projects of voluntary organisations within the State. In his consideration of a scheme submitted by a local governing body established by or under a law of a State, the Minister will be required to request the appropriate Minister of that State to consult with him concerning the scheme. This provision follows an amendment by the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) in response to a suggested amendment by the Opposition which withdrew its suggested amendment as a result. The Government does not consider that this will cause any change in existing practice. Research shows that community health care is often more effective than institutional care. Persons suffering from psychiatric and similar problems return to coping normally much more quickly when treated in their usual community environment, with their families and friends around them. Preventive, early treatment, education and aftercare services will be a feature of the projects to be undertaken.
We must abandon the institutionalised and quite often inflexible approach to health care. This approach, which unfortunately has almost grown to acceptance through habit rather than reason, involves ad hoc responses to urgent requests for health care along with the hope that things will work out. This has not been, nor will it ever be, a satisfactory approach to Australia’s health needs. Government, and government agencies can no longer sit pat waiting for the next urgent call for help. Through planning and research we must anticipate these calls. It is now a well-recognised policy in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada that the large and often impersonal mental hospitals and other similar institutions need to be substantially phased out and replaced by the types of services to be funded by this Bill with additional beds integrated into general hospitals.
As the community health program gets further under way and as the Australian Hospital and Health Services Commission completes its recommendations on hospitals and all other forms of institutional care we can expect to see similiar developments accelerated in Australia. Consequently the Government intends that care in the community should henceforth be placed, in effect, at ‘shop-front’ clinics and, indeed, ‘at the door-step’ of families who might otherwise delay going to an institution for help. Early diagnosis and treatment, social support and followup will be closer to the approach of the old village doctor, parish priest or other traditional family friends. Decentralised services in local communities will be staffed by specialised personnel such as mental health visitors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists, all of whom will work closely with general medical practitioners and other community health people.
Alongside community health programs will be an expansion of hostel and ‘half-way house’ accommodation for persons with chronic mental problems or social handicaps, who need residential care but not the more costly care of mental and general hospitals and nursing homes. The addition of community based services for alcoholism and drug dependency along with our new emphasis on other aspects of community mental health is a vital forward step in combating those serious community problems in a systematic way. Available manpower and other resources can thus be spread more widely and be more available at local level. In the next few years, further increasing local integration with community health, education and welfare services will remove more of the old stigma attaching to those needing help which is not just physical.
The Bill provides for allocations of up to $7.5m for each of the years 1973-74 and 1974-75 after which such services will continue to be supported under, and will be integrated with, the broader Australian community health program. Payments up to the level of approved allocations will be made as expenditure is incurred.
However, the Bill also provides for advances to be made, and this provision will be widely used to enable a speedy implementation of the services to those who need them.
The Bill authorises the Minister to make grants to voluntary organisations which have a role of co-ordinating the services, in more than one State, of their own organisation or other organisations. Claims in respect of expenditure incurred during 1973-74 or 1974-75 under approved schemes may be submitted up to 30 June 1976. Approvals may be subject to conditions and allocations may be varied during development of approved schemes. These provisions will give valuable flexibility to the recipients and enable adjustments to be made in the light of the rate of progress of individual projects. The Bill will bring, in a more effective and flexible way than the former assistance in the field of mental health, bridges to the developing broad community health field being expanded by the Government on the advice of the Interim Committee of the Australian Hospitals and Health Services Commission, whose first report on this subject I was privileged to table on May 3 1 last. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
This Bill amends the Fisheries Act 1952-1970. A Bill substantially the same as this was introduced into the Parliament by the previous Government in April 1971, along with a Bill to amend the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968. However, they were not proceeded with then because, I believe, of problems that Government was experiencing in relation to offshore legislation, since reintroduced by this Government as the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill. Most of the provisions of these Bills were considered by the then Government to be essential to permit the proper management of Australia’s fisheries resources. They can only be regarded as even more urgent now.
I believe it is well known, but it is certainly worth repeating, that the Australian fishing industry is one of the fastest growing of our primary industries. Just a few figures will illustrate this. The gross value of production of marine produce has risen from $3 1.7m in 1961-62 to $9 1.8m in 1971-72, an increase of 190 per cent. The rate of exports has risen at an even faster rate. In 1971-72 exports of marine produce were valued at $75.7m compared with $ 15.2m in 1 96 1 -62, an increase of 398 per cent.
It is axiomatic that an industry of the size and viability of this one needs sensible planning to ensure its continued growth and viability. I would like to say something about the present Government’s policy in relation to fisheries before discussing the Bills themselves. I might first refer to the second reading speech of the then Minister of Commerce and Agriculture when introducing the original Fisheries Bill in 1952. During the course of that speech he said:
The purpose of this bill is to legislate in respect of swimming fish in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, in order that fishing in such waters can be so regulated that existing fisheries resources will be conserved for regular commercial development, and excessive exploitation of our fish resources will be prevented.
The policy spelled out then of management and conservation of existing fisheries has been pursued in the administration of Australian fisheries since. Honourable senators will be well aware of the emphasis the Australian Government places on conservation matters generally. However, the Government believes that its role in regulating the fishing industry should not stop at the conservation of the resources but should extend to rational utilisation of existing fisheries and the development of new ones.
In regard to the future of the industry, we have already financed a number of projects designed to explore and develop new fisheries and new fishing techniques. Since the beginning of the year I have announced the allocation of almost $lm for such projects in the south-eastern and western Australian waters. The Australian Government has also allocated with the Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian governments in excess of $350,000 to develop new fisheries for shark fishermen adversely affected by the Victorian ban on catching and marketing large school shark containing mercury above permissible levels. Another aspect of our expansionist policy is to be seen in our support at the Law of the Sea negotiations for a 200-mile preferential fisheries zone. Given this policy of expanding our fisheries and extending the area of Australian jurisdiction over fisheries, it will be apparent that it is necessary to have legislation which permits giving effect to policy requirements. The amendments which these Bills introduce are partly designed to this end, and partly designed to overcome difficulties which have become apparent in administration of the existing legislation. I would add that rapid expansion of Australian fisheries as we give effect to our policies, and a favourable outcome with respect to our claim for a 200-mile fisheries zone, may well warrant a further overall review of our fisheries legislation in the future. However, the Government considers at this time that we should make only necessary amendments to existing legislation and undertake an overall review in the light of experience and results in the matters I have just mentioned. Honourable senators will be aware that the existing Australian Government legislation is administered in proclaimed waters by the States as delegates of the Australian Government. A considerable Federal/State machinery has grown up for this purpose. These Bills do not in anyway affect the operation of that machinery except to facilitate it.
I now turn to the provisions of the Bill. The first substantive clause is clause 5, which empowers the Minister and the Secretary to delegate their powers under the Act, subject to the reservation of licensing powers in relation to foreign vessels, fish processing and fish carrying vessels which may be delegated by the Minister or Secretary for Primary Industry only to officers of the Department. Power provided in clause 9 to cancel or suspend a licence may not be delegated at all. Clause 5 also gives effect in the Act to the principle that an official upon whom statutory powers are conferred should be subject to the directions of the Minister in the exercise of those powers. It further provides for the Minister. as defined, to delegate all of his powers under the Act to a Minister of the Papua New Guinea Government, who is further empowered by this clause to exercise those powers independently. The Bill above all provides practical machinery for regulating the quantity of fishing effort in fisheries requiring such regulations.
Clause 6 empowers the Minister to close an area to the taking of a specified kind of fish except by vessels with licences endorsed for that fishery in that area. Selection of vessels entitled to work in a controlled effort fishery will be made in accordance with principles and policies publicly announced by the Minister in each case. To complement the control over the number of vessels, the existing provisions relating to registration of fishing gear are repeated and a new power is provided to regulate the quantity of fishing gear permitted to be used from a vessel and to require that such gear be registered under State or Territory law before it may be used in proclaimed waters. This latter provision will prevent fishermen from using one full set of gear in State waters and another in proclaimed waters and so defeating the purpose of the effort control policy. To deal with the situation of 2 fisheries in the same area using similar gear but having different management regimes, power is provided to prohibit carrying one or other kind of gear on a vessel in the area unless that gear is stowed and secured.
Clause 7 provides for licensing machinery to implement the foregoing principles. Henceforth, a boat licence will authorise the use of a vessel to process and carry its own catch only. New classes of processing and carrying boat licences are provided for in respect of vessels that perform those functions for other vessels ‘ catches. A new power is provided for endorsing a boat licence to authorise its use in a controlled effort fishery. The discretionary power to grant or refuse a licence is reenacted. This power will continue to be exercised in accordance with the principle that unless there is good reason, consistent with the purposes of the Act, for refusing a licence, it will be granted. To simplify licence issuing procedures, clause 7 provides for a licence to be issued so as to expire on the same date as the State licence held by the applicant and for both Commonwealth and State licences to be printed as a single document if the State concerned so wishes.
Cancellation of a licence for contravention of a condition, or if the holder has been convicted of an offence against this Act, the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act or a State or Territory fisheries law, is provided for in clause 7. That clause also provides for suspension of licences. If a condition is contravened, suspension may be involved for a month or until legal proceedings- to be commenced against the older within that time- are determined. If the licence-holder has had a State or Territory fishing licence cancelled or suspended, the Minister or the Secretary may, if he has consulted the State or Territory and if he is satisfied that suspension is desirable for the management of the fishery concerned, suspend a licence under this Act for such period as may be necessary. Suspension may be general or in relation to a specified fishery. The Government has sought to protect the rights of individuals in relation to cancellation or suspension of licences by providing the qualifications in clause 7. At the same time, it considers that those provisions are necessary for proper management of the fisheries and for protecting the rights of law-abiding fishermen.
The Bill repeals the offences provisions of the principal Act and re-enacts them in clause 9 subject to the new principles to which I have referred. Past experience has indicated a need for extending liability in certain circumstances. The holder of a boat licence henceforth will commit an offence if he permits anybody acting on his behalf to contravene a condition of that licence. The person contravening the condition is also liable as if he were the holder of the licence. An act done by an employee or agent of a person charged with contravention of a notice under section 8 of the principal Act is deemed to have been done by the person charged. While the person who commits the contravention remains personally liable, the Bill, by extending liability to the master or owner of the boat, clears the way for courts to order forfeitures if such penalties are considered appropriate.
Clauses 9 and 12 strengthen the forfeiture provisions in cases of offences involving foreign vessels. Clause 9 provides that if a conviction is recorded, the court is obliged to order forfeiture of the catch and the fishing gear. Clause 12 provides that a foreign vessel used or involved in the commission of an offence- that is, fishing without a licence in the 12-mile declared fishing zone- is forfeit to Australia. The boat may be seized by an officer in such a case. If the owners give a security to the value of the boat in the event that it is subsequently condemned, the Minister may release it. Condemnation may be effected in a number of ways. The master or owner may bring action for recovery within 60 days. If such an action fails, or if no such action is brought, of if a conviction is recorded against a person involved in the offence of if the Minister brings a successful action for condemnation, the seized and forfeited foreign boat is condemned. It may then be disposed of by the Secretary acting under the general proviso that the directions of the Minister will apply to the disposal. ‘Boat’ in clause 12 includes all its equipment other than its fishing gear which is subject to the forfeiture provisions of clause 9. The Government considers that since the value of a catch and a vessel will almost invariable exceed the amount of any fines provided by the Act, penalties of this sort are appropriate to prevent the owners of foreign boats infringing the Act from profiting thereby.
The reinforced penalties are designed to serve as a deterrent against actions which although committed outside Australia are nevertheless offences against Australian law. In the last year, or a little more, 6 foreign trawlers have been apprehended in the declared fishing zone. A large foreign fleet has been operating off the northwest coast in recent months. It has been there since early February, to the Government’s certain knowledge. We are keeping them under surveillance and will take action against any which are observed infringing the declared fishing zone.
Clause 11 provides for liability, in cases of offences detected on a vessel without direct evidence of the person who committed them, to devolve upon the master of the boat. The Government considers that this is a reasonable provision having regard to the possibility of evasion of due penalties by persons who have colluded to conceal evidence in the isolated conditions that prevail at sea.
Clause 13 simplifies the giving of evidence of certain matters by empowering the Minister, the Secretary or a delegated person to give certificates of nationality of a boat, the juridical status of an area of waters, whether a licence was or was not held at the time of an offence or whether a licence was issued subject to conditions.
Clause 20 applies the provisions relating to forfeiture of foreign boats, retroactively. That is, if a foreign vessel is apprehended infringing the Act and is under the control of an officer at the time the Bill receives royal assent, it is at that time forfeited.
The Bill does not provide for extending Australia ‘s fishery jurisdiction over foreigners beyond the existing 12-mile declared fishing zone. As I have already said, the whole question of the Law of the Sea is under international examination in the United Nations. Australia will be represented at the Law of the Sea Conference to be held in 1974. At this conference, the question of the fishery jurisdiction of coastal countries will be considered. The clauses of the Bill to which I have not referred are either formal or machinery provisions for the effective administration of the principles I have outlined. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend certain of the machinery provisions of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act to ensure more effective administration of the legislation and, in conjunction with amendments proposed in the Fisheries Bill which I have just introduced, to bring the principles embodied in the 2 Acts into uniformity. Where appropriate, identical definitions and provisions have been introduced. As honourable senators are aware, the main purpose of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act is to enable the fullest possible protection to be given to the living resources of the continental shelf of Australia and the external territories, including the Great Barrier Reef. Such control is in accordance with international law as expressed in the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf.
Clause 4 recognises changes in portfolio responsibilities in respect of certain island territories by including them within Australia. It provides similar definitions of ‘Australian ship’ and foreign ship’ to those in the Fisheries Bill which I have just introduced. Clause 6 gives effect to the principle that an official on whom statutory powers are conferred should exercise those powers in accordance with directions given by the Minister. It also takes a further step in the transfer of power to Papua New Guinea by enabling the Minister for External Territories to delegate his powers under this Act to the appropriate Minister in the Papua New Guinea Government who may exercise those powers independently. Clause 8 empowers the Minister to close an area to the taking of a specified sedentary organism except by persons or by the use of boats with licences endorsed to permit the taking of that sedentary organism in that area. These provisions will enable effective effort-control programs to be undertaken where necessary, especially in the case of removal of live coral from the Great Barrier Reef, and of the taking of abalone.
Clause 9 empowers the placing of endorsements on licences to authorise the holders to take sedentary organisms in effort-controlled situations. As in the case of the Fisheries Bill, this Bill contains provisions which enable Commonwealth and State licences to be combined. Clause 10 provides for the cancellation or suspension of licences in exactly the same way as does the Fisheries Bill. Clause 1 1 re-defines the offences in relation to the use of unlicensed foreign ships to search for and take sedentary organisms. Clause 12 deems an act done by an employee or agent of a person charged with contravention of a notice under the principal Act to have been done by the person charged. As in the case of the similar provisions in the Fisheries Bill, while the person who committed the contravention remains personally liable, the Bill, by extending liability to the master or owner of the ship, clears the way for the courts to order forfeiture if considered appropriate. Clause 13 contains identical provisions to clause 1 1 of the Fisheries Bill.
The provisions in clauses 14 and IS of the Bill are similar to those in clause 10 of the Fisheries Bill in relation to forfeiture penalties in cases involving foreign ships. Clause 16 provides similar evidentiary machinery to that in clause 13 of the Fisheries Bill. Clause 17 embodies the new principle, that a foreign boat used or involved in the commission of an offence is automatically forfeit to Australia. I have dealt with this principle at length in the second reading speech on the Fisheries Bill. Those remarks apply in this case also. Clause 20 applies the provisions relating to forfeiture of foreign boats retroactively. That is, if a foreign vessel is apprehended infringing the Act and is under the control of an officer at the time the Bill receives royal assent, it is at that time forfeited.
The clauses to which I have not referred deal with formal and machinery amendments for the effective administration of the Act. Because the provisions of this Bill are for practical purposes identical with many of the provisions of the Fisheries Bill, the Senate may consider it appropriate to debate them together. I commend this Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.57 to 2 p.m.
Debate resumed from 27 September (vide page 1042), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) -Is it the wish of the Senate that that course be adopted? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– As the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has said, these 3 Bills- the Aged Persons Homes Bill 1973, the Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill 1973 and the States Grants (Home Care) Bill 1973-will be debated cognately. We will debate the 3 Bills together perhaps emphasising the areas in which we are either involved or in which we have a particular assignment to carry out. One of the features of government in recent years is its involvement in the ever-widening sphere of social welfare. As patterns of society change so the need for government leadership strengthens and the leadership of government involved is intensified and the more diversified.
In the sphere of attention to those citizens of senior years who are sometimes described as the aged- if I may say so they are too often called the aged; I prefer the phrase ‘senior citizens’- the pattern of society has changed dramatically. We have seen the emergence of the new styles of family life, the economic changes and the new place of older people in our community. This is not the first time that the Senate has had discussions about senior citizens or the older group in our community. The Bills which the Government has put down for discussion this afternoon are Bills to which members of the Opposition do not have any opposition at all. Members of the Opposition are interested in the steps which the Government has taken. They are interested in the pattern which the Government has prescribed, but we lend our assistance to ensure that the benefits which are outlined in the Bills as prescribed in the Minister’s second reading speech are carried forward and receive the assistance of the Opposition Parties. The Aged Persons Homes Act was first introduced in 1954, which is quite a time ago, during the regime of a previous government of the same political complexion as the present Opposition. This Act encouraged organisations of a non-profit nature to enter the field of the provision of homes for senior citizens. There were provisions in this original Act for capital cost subsidies. In the first instance assistance was given on the basis of one pound for one pound. This encouraged religious, church, charitable or returned service organisations to establish homes in which senior citizens and people of senior years could be accommodated. In 1957 the one pound for one pound subsidy was increased to an amount of two pounds for one pound for capital costs. There was a later development in 1967 when local government organisations became eligible for this subsidy.
In 1 969 the Act was amended to include personal care subsidies. This personal care subsidy program was established to provide a benefit to homes for the aged that were described as approved homes. To receive this subsidy these homes were required to meet certain circumstances and qualifications. These included the provision of meals and the employment of sufficient staff to help the residents who were in need of any particular personal care. Initially the personal care subsidy was fixed at $5 a week for residents aged 80 years or over. Last year it was increased to $10 a week for persons aged 80 years or over. The Aged Persons Homes Bill provides for the increase of this amount by $2 from $10 to $12 for persons deemed to be in need of personal care services. The eligibility age limit which was previously described under the Act as 80 years or over is to be amended to include all those persons in those homes who are in some need of attention. The 80 years age situation will not apply in the way it did prior to the introduction of these measures.
During the course of this quite extensive program- a program of great variety- for aged people and senior citizens, something like $ 1 7 1 m has been approved and accommodation is provided with the aid of this amount for something like 50,000 senior people. The Minister in his second reading speech said:
It is obvious therefore that the Act has enjoyed a considerable amount of success.
We appreciate the Minister’s acknowledgement that this has been a success. He will not mind my saying that this success has been achieved by previous governments which not only have pioneered this field of care for senior citizens but also have put into practice a wide range of services and accommodation for the benefit of senior citizens. One of the very important principles of the program which has been going on through the years has been the fact that the government of the day has provided circumstances, financial assistance and opportunities for community groups and other organisations to help senior citizens. In short it has been a case of the government helping the community to help other people.
It is important in this age of rapid change in our society and rapid development in community thinking towards aged people to state this principle: The aged persons care system must never become another total government social exercise whereby sums of money and facilities are handed out and personnel made available without any sense of responsibility or indeed response from the community itself or from the senior citizens so involved. In my view the best way in which senior citizens can be assisted is a system whereby community involvement must be complete and continuous. This means that there must always be involved groups of people such as committees, social workers, auxiliaries, fund raisers, visitors, social scientists, social study groups, educational and recreational groups and vocational advisers. Every one of these groups must be involved. What is more, the community involvement must have a strong element of voluntary involvement or at least semi-voluntary involvement. I take leave to point out this afternoon that this is the pattern that has been followed. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has been good enough to indicate that the pattern which has been followed has been a success. I imagine that by using the word ‘success’ he meant not only that it has met with a considerable degree of response from the Australian community but also that it has been of great benefit to the senior section of our community.
One of our first and, indeed, strongest responsibilities to those who are in their senior years is to care for those of them who are in need, those of them who do not have sufficient finance or facilities to enable them to carry on the standard of living which most people in Australia expect today. It is also important to point out that not all senior citizens are poor or in need of assistance in their day to day living, but that all people who are in their senior years have the same serious problem, that is, they all suffer from the same conditions of age. They may be lonely; they may be isolated; they may have no relatives to care for them; or they may have no homes to go to. The program of the last years of the previous Government has shown that there is an essential need in our society to provide facilities for aged people in whatever circumstances they find themselves and from whatever financial group they come. So the Minister chose well when he used the word ‘success’ to describe the program of the previous Government. The Aged Persons Homes Act has been a success since its introduction because it has provided facilities for all kinds of people who have only one common link, that is, the fact that they are in their senior years.
I note with considerable interest that the Minister for Social Security is not altogether satisfied with certain features of the scheme and that he has asked the Social Welfare Commission to carry out a critical appraisal of it to see whether it can suggest any better ways of providing a program of accommodation for aged people or senior citizens. While he is awaiting receipt of a report on the result of its deliberations, the Government proposes to make some amendments to the Act. I have been interested in the report which the Social Welfare Commission has distributed headed ‘Annual Report 1973’. It is in fact the first report of the Interim Committee of the Social Welfare Commission. In the early pages of the report, under the heading of Philosophy’, the following comment appears:
The general purpose of social policy- which encompasses such areas as education, housing, health services, employment policies and other matters, as well as the more specific issues of income-security payments and personal welfare services- is to provide an environment in which the individual is given the opportunity to develop his or her personal abilities to thenmaximum potential. Special provisions must often be developed for particular individuals or groups of people who are in need of particular assistance to enable them to cope with inherited or environmentally induced disadvantages.
Social welfare policies have traditionally centred on the disadvantaged. However, in the last few years in Australia, there has been a growing concern to ensure that community health, welfare and legal services, as well as adequate education and housing, are available to the entire community as a matter of right rather than as an act of charity.
I underline the words ‘as a matter of right rather than as an act of charity’. That is a philosophy which, if I may say so, the previous Government endeavoured to implement through its wideranging plan of providing services to aged people. I note with interest and, indeed, approval that there is in this report a maintenance and a carrying on of the philosophy that these kinds of services are a matter of right rather than an act of charity. I return to the section of the report devoted to philosophy. It states:
The Commission considers that it is of the highest importance to develop a different approach to the planning and provision of welfare services. It considers that the traditional medical’ model of treating social problems as sickness, or deviation, has proven unsatisfactory and inappropriate. The counter position, which the Commission endorses, recognises the need for fundamental changes in society. Initially, it is necessary to develop community-based systems with a network of services to which people may be linked if they have family, health, educational or personal problems.
In that paragraph the Commission is indicating that there is a need for a change in approach to the whole matter of social welfare policies, especially as far as aged people are concerned. That may or may not be true, but I have in approval the matter that the Commission is. examining the total area to see where the unsatisfactory and inappropriate elements lie. I am not convinced that the program which has been heretofore followed is entirely unsatisfactory or inappropriate. On the other hand it has been acknowledged that there have been vast advances and improvements in social studies and that the matter of care for aged people, whether it be in aged persons homes or in their own homes, needs to be thoroughly and continually investigated and that every progressive opportunity that can be taken advantage of should be embraced and implemented. Nevertheless it also should be recognised that when these schemes were first embarked upon some years ago the Australian Government of the day was reflecting those processes of modern thought and research that were being used in various parts of the world at the time.
The measure to which I am at present referring relates to the personal care subsidy, the details of which have been outlined in the Minister’s second reading speech and to which I have already made some reference. But in relation to any matter which takes up the case of senior citizens I think the Parliament needs to draw the attention of the Australian community to the fact that it- the Australian community- needs not only to rethink but also constantly rethink its attitude to senior citizens. Too often we have fallen into the habit of thinking that by the establishment of homes or other institutions we have solved the problems of our senior people. Involved in the whole environment of our senior people is the matter of their retirement and what they do on their retirement. That, of course, is a study in itself which I do not propose to examine or pursue at length this afternoon because we are dealing with a matter which provides for certain facilities and assistance to the community of senior people.
While the original plan behind the providing of homes and capital subsidies for homes was to care for the people who live in those homes, it needs to be placed on record that the thing the Australian community has to do today is give very serious thought to how it integrates into the total community those people who have, according to the chapter and verse of various books, reached retiring age. I do not think it is sufficient just to say that in order to meet a situation we will provide a whole lot of recreational activities, craft centres and things of that nature. It is true that they are necessary, desirable and meet the needs of a wide range of people but there are a large number of people in our community today- I suggest the number is going to increase- who, at the age at which society says they shold retire, are Stil in possession of their faculties, abilities, ideas and who have a physical capacity for work in relation to which they can continue not only to make a contribution to our society but also create for themselves years and years of job vocational satisfaction. Therefore I hope that as the Government prepares its program of social welfare and as the Social Welfare Commission swings into action the Government will take into account the vocation and occupation by which the talents and abilities of our senior citizens can be involved.
I want to say only a few more words in regard to the States Grants (Home Care) Bill 1973. Many of the things which I have already said apply to this legislation. But it needs to be observed that as this is a States Grants Bill it involves money granted by this Parliament to the States which must be spent in a certain way which is laid down in the Minister’s second reading speech. In that speech the Minister said that the Bill provided for 3 forms of assistance. He pointed out that firstly it provided assistance for home care service schemes which give housekeeping and other domestic assistance for aged people in their own homes; secondly it provides assistance for the building of senior citizens centres; and thirdly it provides assistance for the employment of welfare officers employed by or in association with senior citizens centres. Very obviously the main object of the Bill is to provide extra funds for the present home care program by providing a more generous basis on which finance is made available. The Minister expressed his hope that the terms of this subsidy will prove to be an incentive to what he called ‘an accentuated development of the home care program services’.
The proposal to increase the subsidy for the home care service schemes is an extension of that which is in operation and which provides the facilities for keeping aged people in their own homes. One of the social problems with which all of us have had some association is the situation whereby senior citizens have to be moved from their own environment with which they have become familiar for a long time into another environment which might provide security and a whole lot of other social advantages but which is not the area in which these people have grown up and with which they have been long associated. This matter calls for a balanced approach. It is true that there are those of us who would prefer to stay where we have spent most of the years of our lives. It is true that there are people who are prepared to put up with discomforts and disadvantages so that they can stay in this environment. But a judgment has to be made in regard to whether or not a person should be moved into an environment which is more secure but which does not have the same kind of relationship to which I have just referred. Such a judgment provides a difficulty. I hope that in the implementation of this plan the Government will always take into account the dignity of our senior citizens and will ensure that there is a minimum of emotional upset so that the people who have the opportunity to take advantage of the home care service scheme will be able to take the maximum advantage of it, not only in regard to material facilities which the scheme may provide but also in regard to matters of their own personal satisfaction and good will.
The second measure to which this Bill refers is the building of senior citizens centres. The development of senior citizens centres and clubs is something that has taken place in recent years and it goes without saying that they have provided a great deal of satisfaction and happiness to a great number of people. All of us have had some association with senior citizens centres. I have had a personal connection with two or three in my own State and I have seen for myself some of the conviviality, comradeship and club.manship which these centres provide. But like all organisations of this kind they not only provide community centres but they also reflect community patterns, and because human nature is what it is they also run into the problem of personal feelings, and sometimes those personal feelings can be very strong. I think that in the implementation of this section of the legislation the Minister or those who will administer the Act on his behalf should always be very watchful of this element of human nature so that senior citizens will not be disadvantaged in the running of these centres, so that the community in which the centre is placed will not be disadvantaged and so that the centre can maintain a high reputation of care for people of senior years.
The third and final objective of this Bill relates to the employment of welfare officers. As time goes by the employment of appropriate welfare officers becomes more and more urgent because there are a greater number of people to be serviced. While voluntary helpers and workers do a splendid job there is a point beyond which many of these people cannot go simply because they may not have had the training to take them beyond that point or the time or the facilities to render the kind of service that a trained welfare officer can render. Therefore it is important that there should be a sufficient number of these people available. At the same time it must always be remembered that people who are served by any welfare officer program should never be placed in the position where the welfare officer determines what they should do. This is an area in which advocacy, conversation and an exchange of views by the senior citizens and staff of the institutions must be observed and maintained. The Government has given an indication that it is aware of the many involved and changing problems and situations that are associated with that section of the community which I call senior citizens. I am glad to support the measure which is before the Senate this afternoon. I hope that in the implementation of the provision of extra funds and services the Government will never lose sight of the human dignity of the citizens involved. I support the measure.
-On behalf of the Opposition I wish to refer to the second Bill that we are discussing in this cognate debate, namely the Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill 1973 which is concerned with the extension of the subsidy paid for the delivery of meals to senior people. The Opposition wholeheartedly supports this legislation, as it supports other Bills that have been referred to by Senator Davidson. This is an example of how the Opposition is anxious to give speedy passage to legislation, particularly legislation of this nature which provides benefits to the needy in our community. It is interesting to note that the Opposition has been able to give approval to about 36 Bills that have been introduced into this House during this session. We have seen fit to reject only one Bill and to defer another one. I believe that the criticism by the Government that the Opposition is frustrating it is ill founded. I believe that many of the Bills that we have considered and passed have been improved by the amendments that we have been able to effect. I believe that better legislation has resulted because of our attention to these matters.
The Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill is in fact an extension of the benefits that were provided by the previous Government, as is the case in regard to many other similar Bills that we are discussing this afternoon. The Bill proposes to increase the subsidy to 354 organisations that have been approved for the purpose of delivering meals to the homes of the senior people of our community. The subsidy is to be increased by 5c in the first instance which will bring it up to 25c from the moment when this Bill is given royal assent. There is also a provision whereby an additional 5c will be paid for each meal provided with an approved vitamin C supplement. This will bring the subsidy to 20c. This is an important aspect in view of the number of people who are being served by these organisations today and the fact that almost 4 million meals were served last year. A considerable number of people are benefiting as a result of this subsidy.
I was interested to read the report of the survey which was recently conducted in New South Wales on Meals-on- Wheels. It is interesting to note that 70 per cent of these people are living alone, 87 per cent either own or have access to a refrigerator, 38 per cent are able to do some shopping for themselves and there is quite a large number where the family contact pattern is not evident. Also it is interesting to note from the report that the majority of the clients of mealsonwheels organisations are women. Over 50 per cent are over 50 years of age and 85 per cent are suffering from some chronic illness or permanent incapacity. Because these organisations take the trouble to provide meals which comply with dietary requirements for these people, particularly those suffering from chronic illness, the service they render is extraordinarily well appreciated by the people concerned. It is also worthy of note- the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has paid a tribute to this aspect of the service- that is it conducted largely by voluntary workers. Four million meals were provided last year by these people, most of whom are women, driving their own motor vehicles, probably averaging a couple of miles for each meal they deliver. If they were paid 10c a mile for the running of their cars a considerable amount of money would be due to these voluntary workers, not to mention the personal time which they sacrifice and also the physical effort which they have to exert to lift the sometimes fairly heavy containers and to carry the meals into the homes.
I believe that the senior citizens of our community, probably because of inactivity in their later years, do not really feel the requirement for food which perhaps they did in their younger days. They can easily slip into the habit of not bothering to cook themselves a well balanced meal. In fact, probably they resort to opening a can and they deny themselves the benefit of fresh vegetables and a properly balanced diet. So I believe that this service to the community is a very important one. It is going to grow. Last year the demands on the service grew by something like 13 per cent. This is an indication of just how important the service is and of how many people are taking advantage of it. I wholeheartedly support this Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill. I congratulate the Government on its recognition of the previous Government’s work in this area. I hope that the Government will find the finance to increase the subsidy to an even greater extent and to encourage these organisations to expand their activities.
-In Australia we have a tendency to say that we live in a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world. That is a proud boast. Generally we tend to think of the things which give us this high standard of living as the number of television sets or motor cars per capita, or the number of dwellings to house our people. It is usual to concentrate on material things in our community. One rarely points to the excellent things which are done by the people of Australia for those who are perhaps less fortunate in the community. Originally we were to debate 5 Bills this afternoon but I believe that we are debating the first three which appear as orders of the day. They are the Aged Persons Homes Bill, the Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill and the States Grants (Home Care) Bill. Probably we will debate the other two at a later stage.
These matters typify the kind of thinking on which the Australian people can be congratulated. Whether it be by the former Government or by this Government there is encouragement to improve the conditions of people in their later years or perhaps those in deprived conditions who seek the assistance of government and of the people at large. The Aged Persons Homes Bill is a measure which increases the Federal Government’s contribution for certain types of accommodation in aged persons homes. We heard from Senator Davidson a very well rounded discussion of the problems and the future of attempting to encourage the development of aged persons homes. I think that the Government has acted well because there has been a loss in the value of the dollar which can be spent in the interests of those people who are in hostel type accomodation in aged persons homes. At this time they need an increase in the Federal Government’s contribution.
In the area of aged persons homes I speak with some interest as I have been on the board of management involved in the development of a 100-unit hostel, not in my own State but in the wonderful State of Tasmania. One can readily see the problems which develop out of attempts by private contributors who are encouraged by Federal Government contribution to provide aged persons homes. The management of the homes and the ability to obtain people with sufficient knowledge to be able to run them correctly are particular problems. I make a comment which has come from our board of management and certainly from myself. In no area of government administration is congratulation due more than to those Federal public servants who have been connected with the development of aged persons homes. One could name the leaders in the field and say that they have been outstanding in assisting the development of these important homes in the community.
Aged persons homes must be encouraged and developed in the future. The style of living which we are importing from overseas and the very great problems which go with the type of living in our closely populated metropolitan areas lead one to believe that one must, in this wonderful country of Australia, look to the development of home complexes which are away from the metropolitan areas. In my own area close to Melbourne a complex has been developed which was once a hospital used for the recovery of individuals who needed plenty of open air and good air to breathe. On this very large site the Greenvale Village for the Aged is now being developed as one of the best aged persons homes complexes, although that expression is eliminated. This type of development appears to me to be one which both State and Federal Governments should encourage. But it will be a very sad day if we lose the services of religious institutions and those people who may be interested in attending to the welfare of their fellow man because they are not given the encouragement which is given to government-provided instrumentalities.
No matter where one may roam it cannot but be said that there is a close liaison and interest brought into the management and provision of homes where there is the personal interest of the representative body that may have eventually provided the home itself or which may have an interest in the on-going management of the home. This applies to all those things that we are debating this afternoon. It applies to aged persons’ homes, the provision of delivered meals, sheltered employment and assistance to handicapped children. We certainly must encourage the retention in the community of the interest and the work of people who are willing out of the goodness of their hearts to provide for those in the community who are less fortunate. I have some thought that we are tending to get away from that idea and are seeking more to have the Government provided type of instrumentality. In the end this will not be to the benefit of the people who should be advantaged by the provision of these excellent facilities.
I wish to make a point in regard to two of the Bills with which we are dealing. I recall the interest of members of the Labor Party in saying One vote one value’ or ‘One person’s vote has to be as good as the other person’s’. Yet whilst the Government speaks of equal representation for people throughout the community, we do not find that the finance that is offered under Bills such as those we have before us this afternoon can be provided to those who are in the sparsely populated areas as readily as it can be provided to the people who are in the densely populated areas. A great debate could flow from that statement. Whatever may be necessary in rural areas and in the smaller towns in which there are individuals who need the assistance, whether it be subsidies for meals on wheels services, or aged persons’ homes, those facilities and the benefit of a government contribution cannot be given to the same degree as to persons who happen to live in more populated areas.
Surely this must emphasise to the Government, if it gives the position a little thought, that there are disadvantages in the country which must be weighed against the advantages given to people in closely populated areas. But at this early stage of the community when Australians can provide from their tax funds for provision of age persons’ homes, home care facilities, sheltered employment, etc., we must recognise that there will have to be a development which assists in the rural areas to develop aged persons’ homes. In some way or other we may have to give the people who live in less populated areas greater encouragement to look after some of the aged people who are scattered throughout our countryside.
In regard to 3 of the Bills we have before us, I congratulate the present Labor Government on its interest in pursuing in each of these instances legislation which had been provided under former governments. This Government sees that it is wise that a greater financial contribution should be made in certain areas and no doubt it is correct in expanding facilities in other areas. On the very basis of setting up a commission to look into some of these matters, I think that the present Government deserves congratulations. I hope that at all times we will, as we progress as a society, see that we can bring new types of assistance to those people in all stations of life who need the assistance of the community in general.
I have made reference to the difficulties which people find in living in the densely populated cities. They become isolated when friends move away and they feel very lonely in big cities. There are great opportunities for any person in the community- whether he or she be a widower or widow who has lost a dear one and who feels bereft or somebody who may know of handicapped people- to do a great deal by way of visitations to people who are sick. There are people in aged persons’ homes, there is the provision of assistance in regard to meals that should be delivered to homes and there is the provision of home care. Many of the developments that we see taking place are being pursued by paid members of the community. It should be emphasised that there are great opportunities to give assistance. For people who think that they are reaching those ate years in their lives and who have very little to do there are the greatest opportunities to get out and freely of their hearts connect themselves with many of those excellent measures which are assisted by government and which can be improved by the heartfelt encouragement that private people can give. I congratulate the Government on improving the measures laid down. Undoubtedly, the people of Australia can say that this is a well ordered society and that our standards of living are increased by the benefits offered by these Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 September (vide page 1044), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 September (vide page 1046), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 1 8 1 ), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) -Is it the wish of the Senate that these 2 Bills be debated together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (2.52)- I am pleased to be able to speak in support of these 2 Bills, on behalf of the Opposition, and to say that we offer them a speedy passage. However, I would like to say a few words in respect of the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill and to offer a few suggestions. I think my remarks could refer equally to the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. For many years I have been very closely associated with the 2 largest sheltered workshops in South Australia. It certainly is extremely heartening to see the way that handicapped people have helped themselves in their difficulties, with the assistance of the previous Government, which did so much for them, and now this Government which, by introducing this Bill, is providing them with further encouragement. There is no more deserving section of the community than those who are disabled, be they adults or children. Most of these people have a great deal of thenlives ahead of them and have to face the handicaps they bear. Sheltered workshops are the most effective method of rehabilitation known. They certainly provide vocational rehabilitation and work in a work oriented atmosphere. This, as I mentioned yesterday, is the most important and effective way of going about vocational rehabilitation.
In the past voluntary organisations have done their utmost to provide sheltered workshops and homes for handicapped children, but it is quite obvious that they cannot provide all that is necessary. At present we have about 160 sheltered workshops employing 8,000 people, most of whom are handicapped. However, no complete survey has been undertaken to tell us exactly how many handicapped people there are who need these facilities and work opportunities. We certainly know that there are many thousands more than those already provided for. For this reason I am delighted that the Government now is to subsidise local councils which borrow in order to provide buildings for this purpose. I hope that if local councils do the building themselves they will consult constantly with the voluntary bodies which have had so much experience in this field and have so much to offer in the way of advice and co-operation with them.
I mentioned that much was done by the last Government by way of subsidising personnel who assist handicapped people in sheltered workshops and reimbursing people who are returned to open industry if they remain in industry for one year. The previous Government also subsidised hostels so that handicapped people can live near the sheltered workshops, as well as the building of the workshops themselves. Equally important, I think, is the fact that under the previous Government the Public Service modified its terms of employment so that handicapped people could be employed in that sphere.
The Public Service also has been extending its contractual opportunities for work done in sheltered workshops. However, there are one or two other measures that I would like to mention. I mentioned them in the past to the previous Government. Although it did a great deal to assist, these ideas which I will explain to the Senate have not yet been implemented. I hope that this Government will take them seriously and urgently and do something about them.
The most important suggestion relates to the special supplementary allowance for handicapped people. The allowance now has been raised to $4 a week. However, the anomaly is that, once a handicapped person working in a sheltered workshop earns $5 a week, his allowance stops. If he happens to be working in a sheltered workshop which does not provide transport for him, he no doubt is out of pocket. If he earns $5 a week he does not get the special allowance, and possibly his transport will cost him more than that. In order to get to work, he is out of pocket. I urge the Government to look at the question and to find ways of permitting the special allowance to be paid to a person who is courageously employed in a sheltered workshop.
In addition to the problem I have just mentioned, which relates to a person who is paying for transport and is out of pocket, there is another anomaly. If a person can earn $5 in 2 or 3 days at a sheltered workshop, he does not continue working for the rest of the week so as not to lose the allowance. This is a definite deterrent to a person trying to get into regular employment and thus being rehabilitated back into the work force. There is a tendency for a sheltered workshop not to pay in excess of $5 so that an individual will not lose the special allowance and so that the workshop itself can retain the allowance which it receives from the Government. Some workshops have to repay an enormous amount to the Government. I mentioned that I am closely associated with workshops in South Australia. One of them is the biggest in the southern hemisphere. It is known as Bedford Industries. Only last week that organisation had to pay back to the Government, in respect of one week, $661 which it had received by way of special allowances, because people were earning more than their $5. 1 repeat that this practice is a definite deterrent to people helping themselves, and I hope that the Government will soon do away with it.
Another matter which deserves urgent attention is the need to investigate government contracting with sheltered workshops. In Australia we have no policy for Government contracts in this respect. In the United Kingdom a Treasury circular of 195 1 provides a policy in this respect. In the United States of America the Wagner.0’Day Act of 1938 also provides a policy. In the United Kingdom part, if not all, of a contract can and must be given to sheltered workshops if they can meet the quality control and delivery requirements. This certainly would be of advantage. In the United States, workshops have a preference from the government in regard to contracts. In Australia at present the situation is relatively or reasonably satisfactory because we have full employment. Therefore, sheltered workshops can find the contracts and the work that they need, but in a time of less affluence there is a tendency for them to look for government contracts in order to keep people employed. It is almost impossible for sheltered workshops to engage in competitive tendering because of the difficulties concerning costing. Their costing is not normal, and therefore it would be of great advantage if the Government provided that some part of government contracts must go to handicapped people in sheltered workshops.
There is only one other small item that needs urgent attention, and that is the provision of assistance to transport handicapped people to their place of employment. It would be of enormous advantage if the Government were to grant an allowance, perhaps to the sheltered workshop itself, for the provision of the transport of handicapped people. This would be not only of assistance to the community because it would ensure that these handicapped people got to work, but it would be a great incentive to a handicapped person to find employment for himself. I again congratulate the Government in taking a further step to assist handicapped people, both adults and children, and I urge the Government to look at these further anomalies in the near future.
– I connect my Party, the Australian Country Party, with these 2 Bills. They are minor Bills but they are two of five Bills with which the Senate is dealing this afternoon which are directed towards providing assistance to those less fortunate in our community. The 2 Bills are the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill 1973 and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill 1973. The additional assistance provided this year will cost the Government $200,000 under the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill and $100,000 under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. Both Bills are aimed at encouraging the provision of aid by municipalities and other bodies which may find reason to give assistance in the 2 areas covered by the Bills.
The comments that are made about the standard of living in our community could well be applied to these 2 measures because they are important. Physically handicapped people are able to enter sheltered workshops and thereby assist not only their own mental and physical state but also, in a genuine way, production in the community. This certainly adds to the benefits derived from the output by the Australian community. I certainly support the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill. A great deal needs to be said about that Bill, but I wish to concentrate my remarks on the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill because we all have a heartfelt desire to assist those handicapped children in our community. The Bill seeks to widen the scope of the Act so that local government bodies are able to contribute to the welfare of handicapped people. The Bill is designed to serve the same purpose as was served previously. Money contributed by local government bodies will attract a Commonwealth subsidy, provided that the money is used by eligible organisations towards meeting the capital cost of sheltered workshops and residential accommodation. This Bill extends the provisions so that this money can be used towards meeting the capital cost of training centres, training equipment and residential units for handicapped children.
The Australian community can be reasonably proud of its past record in providing assistance to certain areas of handicapped children. Not all areas have received the traditional assistance. For instance, we find that today mentally handicapped children fall into the category which receives assistance from the Government. It is perhaps only in the last five or ten years that anything progressive has been done in this direction. Generally the lead has been taken not by government but by private people and private bodies wishing to assist in this area. A great deal needs to be done, particularly for the mentally handicapped children in the community. I suggest to the Government that assistance will need to be given to those who could be considered to be the socially deprived and who represent a growing area. I refer to people living in the densely populated cities and to the encouragement that is given to women or to mothers in our community to go out to work. This is against my own particular thoughts of wisdom.
We are finding that in many areas of large cities children are becoming socially deprived not because of the income that is coming into the family but because of the fact that parents are becoming particularly busy in their own workaday world and children are being left to fend very much for themselves. This is a greater problem than many people realise at the present time. I suggest to the Government that this is an area which certainly needs watching. Perhaps we will have to find some way to turn the wheel back so that the main responsibility of the mother is to mother and look after her children. Instead of this we are finding that both mother and father are working from 9 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock in the afternoon because the mother feels that she must, of necessity, work. So, early in the day and late in the afternoon the children must fend for themselves or else be brought up by the other children in the family. An investigation is needed into this matter and funds will have to be provided in this area.
Since 1954 I have been connected with the board of management of the Victorian School for Deaf Children, which is the largest school for deaf children in Victoria. Over the years it has developed from what was originally known as the Deaf and Dumb Institution. Perhaps the name by which it is known today indicates the progress that has been made in the community. At one time the community did not consider that those who were deprived of their hearing at birth or through some accident early in life needed special community attention. The Australian people should be proud that over many years the Commonwealth has paid close attention to the deprivation that has occurred in these areas. For instance, since 1945 free hearing aids have been available to children who lost their hearing either at birth or were found to be deaf in their early school life. Over a period of years assistance has been extended and now such a child is able to obtain 2 free hearing aids from the appropriate department.
We have progressed in these areas over recent years. Firstly, a contribution of $1.50 a day was paid by the Department of Health to the people who were accommodated in these institutions. That assistance was introduced by the Gorton Government with encouragement from the then Minister for Social Services, Mr Wentworth. The assistance has been extended so that the Commonwealth now pays a subsidy of $2 for $1 towards the cost of capital works of such institutions. Today the institutions to which I have referred are receiving a Commonwealth education grant on a per capita basis. This is providing the very basis for improving the conditions in the institutions and assisting those in the community who can be referred to as handicapped children. I am delighted that Labor has followed the traditions set down previously. These 2 Bills will have no great impact on the public purse. The Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill provides an expenditure of only $100,000 and the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill provides an expenditure of approximately $200,000, but the contributions will be of enormous importance to those in the community who are covered by the provisions of the Bills. I heartily support the Bills.
– I support these 2 very important Bills which are designed to assist Australian citizens who have a handicap of some nature. I am pleased to note that assistance to sheltered workshops was introduced by the previous Government about 6 years ago. It is also very pleasing and encouraging, I am sure, to organisations and to people who have involved themselves in this matter for some time to note that the present Government is giving extra assistance in this regard. The second reading speech of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) states:
In any such program sheltered workshops are a most important ingredient. But they are not, and never will be, the whole answer to this problem.
I agree with that statement entirely. Governments can do much in matters such as this by giving financial assistance to organisations which involve themselves in these matters but I believe that the community at large should take a greater interest. On a number of occasions I have visited sheltered workshops in my home State. When I come away from those places, the little aches, pains and gripes which I had disappear as a result of seeing the courage that is displayed by so many of the people, particularly young people, who are trying to better themselves in sheltered workshops.
We talk of this wonderful country in which we live. We are a very rich nation, and we enjoy so many wonderful things. I wonder how many of us take these things for granted and do not stop to think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. I refer to handicapped persons and aged people. How many of us enjoy the affluence in which we live and forget that we can become involved in areas such as this? How often on a Saturday or a Sunday do we say to the wife and children: ‘Let’s pack a picnic basket and go down to the coast’? We get into our motor cars and we go. We come back and we think about the wonderful day that we had. We walk along the street and see someone selling tickets on behalf of handicapped persons, we put our hands in our pockets, give 20c and think: ‘By jove, we have done a good job’. But how many of us who go down to the coast would go to an aged persons home or to a place in which handicapped people reside and take them out for a day? We do not do things like that. We think that it is the responsibility of the churches, the organisations and governments. It sometimes saddens me to think that we depend so much on other people to do the things in which we should be involved.
I realise that the Bills will certainly help handicapped persons, to a great extent, but I plead with Australians generally to take a greater interest in those people in our community who are Jess fortunate than ourselves. I have no hesitation in supporting the Bills. I congratulate the Government on its generosity in giving extra assistance to handicapped people and to sheltered workshops.
– I believe that these Bills have received the complete support of all honourable senators, and that is understandable, because they have as their objective assistance to handicapped people. The hearts of all Australians generally go out to those who are less fortunate than themselves. Let me indicate how far politics departs from this area of responsibility. Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield went overseas recently to represent the Australian people at a world wide conference. She did a particularly good job. She is not of our political colour. Nevertheless the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) felt that because of her interest in activities of this type over the years she would be an appropriate person to represent Australia at that conference. I congratulate her on the excellent way in which she handled the situation. I mention that merely to indicate that there is no politics on either side in these matters.
There are many areas in which public spirited people do an excellent job in this regard. I know that we could speak of our experiences and of how we have been associated with sheltered workshops or workshops for handicapped people. I have tried to play my humble part in assisting a sheltered workshop known as Help Industries, but mine is a very minor role; I would be the first to acknowledge this. Nevertheless, I have been on the committee of that workshop since its inception and I hope that I have been able to do something, in some small measure, to assist. I wish to place on record my thanks to the retiring chairman of Help Industries in Queensland, Mr Wally Best. I do not know whether he has any other name; I refer to him affectionately as Wally because that is how he is known in all sections of the community in Brisbane. He has done a particularly good job for
Help Industries and I would not like this opportunity to pass without paying tribute to the work which he has done on behalf of Help Industries in Brisbane. I refer also to the work of Mr Andy Gibson, who was Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service in Queensland and who recently was promotedsome might say demoted -to the State Industrial Commission in Queensland. I am sure that it is a promotion and a recognition, in part, of the work which he did for Help Industries and for other organisations when he was Regional Director of Labour and National Service in Brisbane.
I was interested to hear Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield say that in America and Great Britain certain contracts require the Government to give work to sheltered workshops provided they can meet time schedules and conditions of this nature. I think that this matter should be pursued. I offer to the advisers of the Minister the suggestion that they should pursue this matter to see whether they can get these contracts for perusal. Australia works differently from the United States and Great Britain. Nevertheless, I believe it would be of advantage to have such contracts. We may be able to modify them, expand them or see whether we can do something about them.
A thought which I would offer to the Minister is that at times it is almost impossible for sheltered workshops to pay their way. I know that quite frequently at the end of the month they worry about the trading arrangements for the month. We cannot blame anybody. We cannot expect people in sheltered workshops to be on the job 100 per cent of the working week. Because of their difficulties it is physically impossible for them to do so. Consequently, the work gets behind. The person who gives us the job to do may be quite interested in our work; but, after all, he is in business and he wishes to meet time schedules. Therefore, frequently we find at the end of a month that our trading balance is not as healthy as it should be, because of the circumstances which I have related- and there are numerous others.
I therefore offer to the Minister the suggestion that I have recommended: If the AuditorGeneral or somebody else of that status, at the end of a year for a struggling sheltered workshop or a workshop which employs handicapped persons, feels that there has been a genuine attempt by the people concerned to run the organisation as efficiently as possible he should have the authority to ask or require the Government to recompense the organisation for any losses that it has incurred during that year. I offer that suggestion to the Minister because I know that what I have outlined can be a problem.
Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield has referred to Bedford Industries. We are not all as efficient as Bedford Industries. It has had a long association with this activity. I know the organisation; I have visited its premises; and I know just how efficient it is. But I believe that in other circumstances in other States- I can speak only of my own Statesheltered workshops have faced financial difficulties because of the nature of their work. In no circumstances do I wish it to be taken that the people running sheltered workshops are inefficient, negligent or anything of that kind. The problem arises just from the nature of the work. I therefore offer to the Minister my thoughts in that direction. In company with other senators, I congratulate the Government on this progressive legislation. I know that the Government will continue the good work that has been accomplished over the years by governments of all political characters and that we all will strive to do even better in the future for those who are unable to help themselves.
– I would like to refer to the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill 1973. 1 am pleased to see that this Bill provides for the extension of finance to local government authorities in Australia to enable them to provide training centres, training equipment and residential units for handicapped children. I believe that it is wise to involve local government in this activity. Many children in the community will benefit from this piece of legislation. When one considers that in Australia today many children are being held back because of problems associated with, for example, dyslexia, multiple sclerosis and other disabilities that affect their mental processes- deafness, poor vision and so on- one can identify many thousands of children in our communities who require further assistance. This Bill, in my view, will go a long way towards fulfilling this need. It seems to me that the Government has paid some attention to the report on mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia which was presented in the Senate some dme ago by the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. I know that my colleagues Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and Senator Davidson, were very prominent members of that Committee and worked with other senators on that reference. I believe that the work they did was of tremendous value and I think that in this legislation the Government has recognised, to a degree, the importance of Senate committees.
I refer to the need to follow up the recommendation of the Committee that a national advisory council for the handicapped be established. If we are to provide local government with more finance for this purpose, it becomes more and more urgent that we provide not only local government authorities but also State governments and church organisations with an expert panel of people who can advise them as to the projects they should embark upon and where their money can be spent most profitably. This legislation will mean that we shall need more social workers, occupational therapists and other people involved with ancillary professions working in this important area for the benefit of the less fortunate children in Australia. So, I remind the Minister for the Media Senator Douglas McClelland of the statement made by his colleague, the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), this year, I think, that the Commonwealth is to set up a national advisory council on the handicapped. This, I believe, is an urgent need and must be carried out quickly to ensure that the money which we will provide to local government will be used in the best interests of the children to whom I have referred.
I notice that the Committee, in its report, recommended the allocation of more funds for these purposes, including the establishment of courses of training for professional staff concerned with the handicapped and other matters such as the setting of standards in services for the handicapped throughout Australia. The Committee reported that 44,000 handicapped children had been identified in Australia. I think that is a pretty conservative number. I am quite sure that if we made an intensive examination of this problem we would find that there are nearer 50,000 handicapped children, and possibly more. So, I am quite sure that this is an urgent need. We want to see a national advisory council set up as soon as possible. I commend the Government on the action it has taken in this Bill and urge that an advisory council be established.
– Speaking on behalf of the Government, I am gratified to hear the remarks of all honourable senators who have spoken on these 2 very important measures. Firstly, I endorse the remarks of my colleague Senator Milliner when he paid tribute, as has been done by the Government and particularly by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), to our Senate colleague Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, who was invited to go to the United States of America to play a prominent part in international discussions on the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped. Having been a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which inquired at length into the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped, I echo the remarks of Senator Jessop when I say frankly that I am very proud that the Government of which I am a member has taken heed of the very detailed and voluminous report which was arrived at collectively and unanimously by the members of that Committee, who were of all political persuasions, after they had taken evidence at length from a large cross-section of the Australian people who represent the physically and mentally handicapped section, particularly the handicapped children, in our community.
When the report of the Committee was presented to the Parliament, I, as a member of the then Opposition, recalled in detail the heartrending examples that we saw at first hand of the problems of many children and their parents and, probably to a greater extent, the problems of the non-handicapped members of families which have mentally or physically handicapped children. While the Government to date has recognised to a very substantial extent the details embodied in the report to which Senator Jessop has referred and has indicated by very tangible evidence in these Bills that it is taking heed of those reports, there are still other matters that have to be attended to and which undoubtedly will receive the attention of governments from time to time. I think Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield referred to the extension of government contracts for sheltered workshops. I should point out to her that this, of course was one of the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare of which she was a member and of which I also was a member.
– Is that the Wedgwood report?
-Yes. Dame Ivy Wedgwood was Chairman of that Committee at the time she was a member of the Senate. I think the report was referred to at one stage as the Wedgwood Committee report. The Government is certainly not overlooking the question of the provision of government contracts for sheltered workshops. The Department of Social Security is working on it. The Department has in fact made a survey of the workshops that exist throughout Australia- there are some 200- to find out the sort of government contractual work that the sheltered workshops might be able to do or might be able to be involved in. That survey having been made and the result of it being assessed, it is the intention of the Department to advise each of the other government departments and I would hope statutory commissions and corporations of the actual type of work that the Department feels the sheltered workshops can do. Discussions have been held with the Commonwealth Department of Supply and also, I understand, with the Department of the Treasury.
One suggestion that is being looked at amongst a number of others- I mention this particularly for the benefit of Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield because I know how interested she was on the Committee of which we were members- is that perhaps 10 per cent of a contract to a supplier might be let out to a sheltered workshop with the approval of the successful tenderer. It is that type of thing and others generally that are being examined. Having made those comments in the generality suffice it for me to say that I greatly appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed by all honourable senators who have spoken on the 2 Bills. I appreciate the speedy passage that has been given to the legislation by the Senate and I hope that in the lifetime of this Government other measures will be able to be pursued which will make the lot of those who are less fortunate than us much easier in the days that are ahead.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 182), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the senior secondary scholarships scheme, postgraduate awards scheme and the tertiary education assistance scheme. The tertiary education assistance scheme, to be introduced for the first time at the beginning of 1 974, is a major step taken by the Government in its program to produce a revolution of access to education. It complements this Government’s decision to abolish fees in tertiary and postsecondary technical institutions and the effect of both these actions will be to ensure that hardship or poverty do not prevent a student from taking advantage of the opportunity for further study. Full time students at post-secondary technical colleges, colleges of advanced education, and universities will be eligible for means tested living allowances.
The Bill also provides for the payment of fees for students whose fees are not provided for in the general arrangements, such as those studying certain special courses for which fees are charged, for example, the medical records librarianship course and courses conducted by such authorities as barristers’ and solicitors’ admission boards. The medical records librarianship course is a full time course and students could qualify for a living allowance subject to means test. The same applies to the Australian Ballet School and other tertiary courses which may be approved.
The tertiary education assistance scheme replaces the Commonwealth university scholarships scheme, the Commonwealth advanced education scholarships scheme and the Commonwealth technical scholarships scheme. Arrangements have been made to ensure that those who now hold the scholarships will not lose financially. The legislation provides for the first time a legal basis for the senior secondary scholarships scheme. Regulations are being drafted and are expected to be ready in time for the new year. About 48,000 senior secondary scholarship holders will be involved.
The Bill repeals the Education Act 1945-1966, thereby abolishing the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board. Similar provisions are made under the Scholarships Act 1969, but this Act has never been proclaimed and changes and innovations introduced in the field of students assistance by the Government require new legislation. The Commonwealth Scholarships Board has continued to function since it was originally established under the Education Act 1945-1966. The community and the Government are indebted to it for the valuable contribution the Board has made over the years to the student assistance program.
Parts II, III, and IV of the Bill refer to the schemes of assistance at 3 levels of educationsecondary, tertiary and postgraduate. They allow for the drafting of regulations for the granting of assistance, for the determination of benefits, and they provide for transitional arrangements in favour of students already holding awards. It will still be necessary to assess the eligibility of students applying for assistance under each of the 3 schemes. This will involve consideration of such matters as the student’s academic progress and his previous studies, as well as the assessment of the level of assistance for living and other allowances. Provision is made for the Minister to appoint authorised officers to consider this eligibility subject to review. Part V of the Bill covers the establishment and operation of student assistance review tribunals.
There is a clear need for flexibility in the administration of student assistance schemes and I know that honourable senators will be aware of the many and varied problems which students must face, and the difficulties and indeed injustices which may occur because of too rigid an application of rules and conditions. We have therefore included in this Bill provisions for machinery whereby administrative decisions may be reviewed and reconsidered by a tribunal, so that an appropriate balance is struck between the requirements of formal legislation and the need for flexibility within the framework of that legislation.
The schemes covered by this legislation will provide assistance for probably more than 125,000 students in 1974. The Bill does not cover all the Government’s schemes of student assistance. We intend to introduce further legislation for isolated children, Aboriginal students and students receiving benefits under the Government’s new secondary allowances schemes. Students should be going through a period of life when they have the leisure to think, as well as the need to study. An age of speed does not easily lend itself to the creation of great new productive ideas. The function of education in a world in crisis is to develop people who can fashion a new and inspiring civilisation- people who have the moral and intellectual qualities, and the sensitivity to produce a renaissance. It is hoped that this Bill is a step towards these goals. I believe that the Senate should support this legislation.
– I wish to make a few remarks about this matter before seeking leave to continue my remarks. The Bill is one which has an aspect of urgency to it. It is that aspect of urgency to which I wish to refer this afternoon. However, before doing so, I wish to indicate not only that the Opposition will not oppose the Bill but also that it is delighted to see that the Government is pursuing a policy which was a fundamental policy of the Opposition when in Government. The Opposition certainly will not be opposing the Bill, although it will have some comments to make about various aspects of it. I take this opportunity of the Bill first being called on to inquire as to what is happening in relation to the preparation of the regulations which will be made under the legislation when it is passed. There is considerable confusion throughout Australia at the moment as to what the regulations will require and when they will become operative. There are a number of people planning for next year, particularly at the tertiary level, who do not know whether they will be able to retain scholarships they already hold or whether they will have to forgo special scholarships- that is, non-government scholarships- which they may have in order to be entitled to the advantages of the scholarships to be provided by this legislation. I simply urge upon the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) that he pass on to his colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who, I trust, has now recovered or will recover shortly, the urgency of making known publicly what the regulations will contain. I seek an undertaking from the Minister that he will do everything he can to ensure, in the interests of people being able to plan for next year and people being able to know where they are going and what their rights are going to be, that this does happen. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The second reading speech read as follows)-
This Bill is aimed solely at giving effect to the Budget proposal to abolish the exemption from sales tax applicable to non-alcololic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent by volume of Australian fruit juice or its equivalent in concentrated form. The ostensible purpose of the exemption was to enlarge the market for Australian fruit but although it has provided further outlets for some varieties of fruit, the additional returns to growers represent only a fraction of the cost of the exemption which has been running at about $25m a year. As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) indicated in his Budget Speech, this is a classic example of using the wrong instruments to achieve an objective.
The government is prepared, if the need arises, to provide funds to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruit growing industry affected by the withdrawal of the exemption. As has been announced, the fruit growing reconstruction scheme is to be extended to 30 June 1974. The Bill provides that the withdrawal of the exemption is to have effect as from 22 August 1973, the day after it was announced in the Budget. This accords with the practice, aimed at avoiding disruption of trading, that sales tax changes announced in the Budget become operative on the following day. The effect of the withdrawal of the exemption is that all carbonated soft drinks will be taxable at 1 5 per cent as from 22 August 1973. Since that date, manufacturers have been acting in anticipation of the passage of the Bill by charging sales tax on these drinks. A memorandum explaining the provisions of the Bill is being circulated for the information of honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate. (Quorum formed.)
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 180), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is it the wish of the Senate that that course be followed? There being no objection it is so ordered.
– One can see how anxious the Opposition is to facilitate the work of the Senate. It is very eager to do this. The Superannuation Bill (No. 3 ) 1973, which is Order of the Day No. 6 on the notice paper, has been taken cognately, as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has correctly pointed out, with the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill 1973, which is Order of the Day No. 3 1, and the Air Accidents (Australian Government Liability) Bill 1973, which is Order of the Day No. 32. The principal Bill on which the other Bills depend is not the Superannuation Bill (No. 3) but the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill. The Opposition does not oppose any of these 3 Bills and therefore there seems to me to be not very much merit in taking a great deal of time to debate them. But the principal Bill- the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill- has been introduced because of the establishment of the Darwin Community College which will begin teaching in March 1974 and will be established as a statutory authority under an ordinance of the Northern Territory.
I think it is quite clear to all of us that some of these provisions ought to be picked up by legislation in the Australian Parliament, and that is what this Bill and the associated Bills seek to do. They also pick up responsibility for air accident liability and for superannuation. I do not think there is any more one can say about the Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill except to point out the Minister said in the second reading speech that its effect would be to remove the need for further specific legislation by the Australian Parliament in relation to other authorities that may be similarly established in the future. I imagine that we are prepared to agree to that, although if there is anything of any consequence we would want that referred to in the Senate so that the Opposition might deal with it. But in general I think that this is quite an acceptable proposal as long as nothing of any major character arises out of that area which is not subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. If that were to happen we would want to see the matter brought to the attention of the Parliament.
The Superannuation Bill (No. 3) 1973 provides for the application of the Superannuation Act to the Principal and the staff of the Darwin Community College and these provisions will be made retrospective to 19 July 1973. Again we do not find that this presents any problem in the execution of responsibility and we will therefore support this measure.
The same situation applies in regard to the Air Accidents (Australian Government Liability) Bill which amends the principal Act so that any body corporate, that is incorporated for a public purpose by a law of the Territory may come under the general legislation that applies to this matter. This also covers the Darwin Community College and instrumentalities of a similar character in appropriate territory areas in which they may be introduced. This legislation will avoid amendments to the principal Act which seems to the Opposition to be sensible and necessary. Accordingly it is supported by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 179), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 1 79), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 347), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill and commends its passage. The Bill is straightforward. Its purpose, of course, is to abolish the full time position of executive member of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and to substitute the part-time position of member. I do not wish to delay the business of the Senate nor to make a major debate on this matter but as we are referring to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission I wish to make some brief remarks. I believe that we are dealing with a body whose work in the immediate months ahead and the immediate years ahead will be of growing and intense significance to Australia and I commend to the Government the fullest possible use and development of the Commission. I do so not in any patronising fashion but to point out that uniquely at the moment the world is confronted by an energy crisis, a crisis which is a growing one. It is a crisis which relates to a resource which unlike other resources is not capable of being recycled. Therefore the world is moving into a problem, a new problem of resources diplomacy which could in itself create confrontation and could even create conflict. But above all, unless we resolve by technology as well as diplomacy the problem of the energy crisis we could in fact confront lower living standards.
I draw attention very quickly to the fact that there we are as a world at this moment consuming oil as fossil fuel at a staggering rate of 2,500 million tons a year. That rate which cannot be kept up. It may have only a few decades of life. The immediate crisis lies in a decade or 2 decades ahead. What we want to know from our specialists, from the first class people of the Commission and from the people whom the Commission seeks as advisers is the order of priorities. Alongside the search for natural gas and for oil we must be asking ourselves these things: Should we, in fact, be conserving our coal or should we be using it? We have, in terms of steaming coal, at least reserves for some 400 years stored underground at this moment. Should it be used? What should we be doing at this moment about a uranium enrichment plant? Should we be selling our uranium without too much constraint on the world markets? Should we put constraints upon that sale? Should we be refining it in Australia? If we do refine it will we have markets and will it be profitable for us to do so?
The problem of a feasibility study into a uranium enrichment plant is involving literally thousands of millions of dollars. I urge upon the Government that all available information be given to this Parliament and to the people as soon as possible because the people are entitled to know. For example, they are entitled to know the complexity of these things and of the developments of this technology throughout the world. What is the possibility of the South African process? Will it be a breakthrough? Will the diffusion process as we know it be surpassed? Is the centrifuge process, as we know it, the right idea? What should we do? But, above all, in terms of technology- the Commission itself can attempt the answer- how long will it be before the next step in the generation of energy, which is the fusion process of the atom as distinct from the fission process? Those who ought to know will place it at something like a gap of 30 years. If that is so, and if we can understand this, the need for uranium as a fuel will have a whole life of 30 years because the fusion process does not depend upon uranium. It depends upon heavy water from the sea and from rain from the atmosphere. As I understand it, on conservative estimates, the volume of heavy water will be available to the world for about 10,000 years.
When we are dealing with energy and an energy crisis what we need to know is how best we should handle the resources which we have. When will the fusion process be available? In the process of it, what about solar energy? But above all, because I am talking about the Australian Atomic Energy Commission I pose this question and we need to have some very accurate answers in the months and years ahead if we are to make the right judgments: Will we have to use our uranium either sparingly because we have to conserve it or freely because we do not have to conserve it? Should we go into uranium enrichment because that would be good or should we put it aside because it would be unnecessary. We need to know very accurately and to follow the whole of the development of the fusion process because this would be an apparently unlimited source of energy. In a world in which the conservation of resources is now focussing heavily these kinds of answers must be given. I believe that as a parliament and as a people we are singularly uninformed by this Government on the existing energy crisis. I urge the Government to compensate by providing to this Parliament as much information as possible. I particularly urge that the relationship between the Commission and the Government should be the closest possible. There should be the closest association by the Government to urge the Commission to bring about the best possible advice for this Parliament and the people.
I shall sound one critical note. I do not mean it to be contentious. There is a tendency by this Government to recruit special advisers and people of that nature, tending to by-pass the bodies which normally should be available for information. My instinct is that in the case of the Commission this Government is not using it enough. I commend the Commission. Its members are first rate people, both scientifically and administratively. I commend the Australian nuclear scientists who are of world class- the Baxters, the Tittertons, and people of that nature. I urge the Government to use to the full the kind of knowledge which is available so that as a nation and as part of the whole world we can benefit. In conclusion I say- and this is the reason I rose- that in an energy crisis we cannot be neutral. The problem is not merely that we as a nation need each year only 28 million tons of the 2,500 million tons of oil which is consumed annually and that we produce about 70 per cent ourselves. We are essentially vulnerable in the short term. Resources diplomacy is a euphemism for the political bludgeon or the military bludgeon which shall be a weapon of the world. We have oil. More will be found. We have natural gas. More will be found. Unlike most nations we have coal in very large quantities underground. Unlike many nations we have a great deal of uranium. I say none of this in a contentious way but I believe that it is of vital importance. Apart from commending the Bill I call upon the Government in terms of the energy crisis to use to the full the magnificent resources of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 9 October (vide page 1070), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill has a long connection with the well being of migrants in Australia. As the Minister for the Media Senator Douglas McClelland) stated in his second reading speech:
The objective of the Bill is to eliminate the annual notification of address, occupation and marital status by aliens required to register under the Aliens Act.
The Act required the registration of migrants and of their general movements. It has a strong relationship to the integration of migrants into the Australian community. This measure removes the requirements of the annual notification of address, occupation and marital status by aliens who previously had been required to register under the Act. The situation made for some problems. I note that in 1965 after an amendment to the Act 84 per cent of registered aliens complied with the Act. Last year only 46 per cent of them responded. The Minister further pointed out that penalties and prosecutions are defective both from a legal and a practical standpoint. If prosecutions were to be instituted some 1 50,000 people a year might be involved. As the Minister has said, this is not in the best interest of the Australian community, particularly the migrant community. We agree with the Bill and lend it our support. But it does not necessarily mean that these things, having been listed, are dismissed lightly.
It may well be that in earlier years and under other circumstances the practice of registration has been adopted advisedly. It may now well be that the practice of registration has been superseded. But in the context of a nation’s total population, knowing who made up that population, where the people were and what they were doing was not without significance. After all, Australia has a very high percentage of people in its population who are related to the migrant community. A nation like Australia with such a large percentage of people who have come from outside needs in some circumstances to have cognisance of its population content. I certainly do not hold to the view that registration should be maintained. This Bill gives effect to that. But we should recognise that nations must from time to time have some knowledge and some appreciation of the content of their populations. Therefore, they need to devise methods by which they can obtain some information relating to the content of their populations.
It is not without relevance to mention the history of this measure as it passes through the Senate today. The principal Act was introduced by the right honourable Arthur Calwell who was Minister for Immigration in 1947. In presenting the Bill to the House of Representatives on that occasion he put forward some reasons for the legislation. These included the fact that registration of aliens would provide information about the aliens resident in Australia. Also, it would provide data for an analysis of Australia ‘s alien population so that the government of the day could implement its immigration policy on lines which were considered to be sound and scientific. The Minister on that occasion went on to list a whole range of specific matters on which information was required. I certainly do not propose to go through these, but I draw attention to one or two that are of interest. They were framed in words which were probably more appropriate then than they are now. The Minister desired information on the growth of what he called foreign population’ within the Commonwealth; the particular industry groups into which aliens fell; the prevention of undesirable concentrations either in industries or localities; and the devising and imposing, if necessary- I emphasise the words ‘if necessary’- of a quota system. Other matters related to industrial expansion, the absorption of aliens into the Australian community and matters such as that.
The main provisions of the Act of those days required that the register of aliens should be maintained in each State. There were certain requirements relating to this registration. Later on, it was found that notification of changes of address and occupation as they occurred was not adhered to in a large majority of cases, although the authorities of each administration encouraged compliance, and procedures to facilitate this notification were introduced. A lot has happened since those days. Of course, many of the phrases, ideas and ideals which were used in the early days of the immigration policy no longer apply. The main purpose of this Bill is to eliminate the annual notification which was introduced by the Act in 1965. The Minister has outlined the reasons for this measure. I think that it has come from a practical, commonsense point of view and is well justified. The statistics which have been listed in the second reading speech clearly indicate to the Senate the impracticability of attempting to enforce the notification procedures. However, I think I need to remind the Senate that this is something rather more than eliminating a procedure which may have proved to be unsatisfactory and which certainly has been superseded.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the matter of notification by aliens is very much related to the integration, contentment and wellbeing of the migrants within our gates. Therefore, whether or not a migrant is required to register, whether or not he does register or whether or not he runs a risk of prosecution because he may not comply with a particular Act are all some of a number of features and factors which have an influence on his contentment, well-being and, as we like to describe it, his integration into the Australian community. The influence of this process, of course, may well indicate not only his attitude to the Australian community but also, associated with a number of other things, may well indicate whether or not he will stay within the Australian community. To this extent, I am interested to read of the report which was placed before the Senate a few weeks ago on behalf of the Immigration Advisory Council. In particular, it was presented on behalf of the Council’s Committee on Social Patterns which presented a detailed report on an inquiry into the departure of settlers from Australia. As one who formerly had the privilege of being Chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council, I was associated with the first steps of this inquiry back in September 1971. This was a follow up to an earlier inquiry undertaken a few years prior to that.
In the report which the present Chairman of the Council, Senator Mulvihill, put down in the Senate there is a detailed study of the reasons for migrant departure. Of course, all of the reasons given have a strong relationship to matters within Australia concerning the integration of migrants into the Australian community and the relationship of migrants to the overall Australian community. As I said earlier, the migrant community within Australia is a large one. Therefore the attitudes which it, as a total community, or any segment of it, takes to the Australian community are not without importance. I will refer to some of the reasons which are given by the Committee in its report.
The Committee’s investigation showed that only rarely do migrants’ departures derive from one single identifiable cause. All of the evidence which was put before the Committee of the Immigration Advisory Council suggested that departures generally resulted from a number of factors and a complexity of factors. Some of these related to some dissatisfaction with Australia. But the Committee came to the firm conclusion that the large proportion of migrants who left Australia left for reasons other than dissatisfaction with Australia.
Interestingly enough, a significant number of people concerned in this study were described as those who used immigration to Australia to try to escape personal and environment problems at home. But finding no answer here, they eventually left, taking their problems elsewhere. Another factor which is underlined by this Committee is that we live in an age of international mobility. More and more people are not only able but want to move from one continent to another to try life and experience in different countries. We certainly live in the age of the intercontinental migrant. Social and personal reasons account for quite a considerable number of departures. These include the not surprising elements of homesickness and a desire to return. Underlined in this report is the attitude of the Australian community. The report states:
In addition, a migrant’s ability to cope with a new life depends largely on the attitude of the community in which he comes to live and many Australians are still reluctant or lack adequate understanding to assist. A large proportion of migrants claim that, whether or not they become Australian citizens, they will always be thought of as migrants.
The Committee’s report refers also to communication and migrant education problems- subjects which often have been debated in various ways in this chamber- as well as the employment situation. I know that many of these things have been taken care of by the previous Government and by the present Government by introducing legislation to create a climate of well being for the migrant community within Australia. The Aliens Bill which is now before us adds to that legislation, and I hope that it will make a contribution towards the contentment of the new settlers in our midst. I support the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16 October (vide page 1206), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition supports this Bill. In accordance with our normal policy in regard to Bills to which we are not opposed, we will give it as speedy a passage as possible. This is the tenth Bill to be passed by the Senate this afternoon. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) has said, the primary purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for the insertion of a new protocol as the Eighth Schedule to the principal Act. This protocol of amendment to the Chicago Convention increases the number of members of the Air Navigation Commission from 12 to 15. This proposition was endorsed by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government 2 years ago, when Senator Cotton, as Minister for Civil Aviation, led the Australian delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s assembly session held in Vienna in mid- 1 97 1 .
This Bill merely provides the machinery to include this amendment, which was supported unanimously by the member states of ICAO, in our statutes. The Air Navigation Commission has played an important role in the establishment of international standards for the operation of safe and efficient air services by international airlines. Any move that will strengthen and facilitate the work of the Commission, which is becoming more complex with the technological advances being made in air navigation, must be supported wholeheartedly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
- Mr Deputy President, I understand that this morning the Senate carried a motion, moved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh), with regard to the General Business to be brought on at 4.30 p.m. The Opposition has no objection if General Business is called on forthwith. I do not know whether that would suit the convenience of the Government.
– Yes, I agree to that.
Proposed Joint Sitting
Consideration of House of Representatives message:
Mr President, Message No. 20 1
The House of Representatives transmits to the Senate the following Resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this day and requests the concurrence of the Senate therein:
That this House is of the opinion that-
the site for the New and Permanent Parliament House should be determined forthwith;
a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter, and
planning for the new House should commence immediately.
House of Representatives, JAMES F. COPE
Canberra, 24 October 1973 Speaker
– The early start of the discussion of this matter could be somewhat embarrassing. I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, has particular views on this matter and will seek to convince us, during the course of the afternoon, as to what the Senate should do with the message from the House of Representatives. Senator Wright has introduced a Bill which seeks to indicate where the new and permanent parliament house should be sited. I think that his view disagrees somewhat with that of Senator Murphy. I imagine that there will be some debate on this question. Neither of those 2 honourable senators is in the chamber at present. Rather than talk about the Bill introduced by Senator Wright, I want to express my opinion on this matter. I believe that members of both Houses have a free vote on this question. The message from the House of Representatives seeks a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament for the purpose of coming to a decision on where the new and permanent parliament house should be sited.
– I understand your difficulties at the present moment. I am not treating this matter as a formal matter at this stage. I am quite prepared to have it discussed as the introduction of General Business. The Leader of the Opposition may care to express a point of view also also.
– For the purpose of allowing the Leader of the Opposition to move a motion, if he so desires, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave- I am in an odd situation. If I were to make a normal speech I would have to wear 2 different hats. I asked for leave just prior to 4.30 in order to speak while wearing my first hat as Leader of the Opposition. I indicate to the Senate that the Opposition, as an Opposition, has no view on the message from the House of Representatives or the Bill which was presented earlier today by Senator Wright. It has been a rule of the Liberal Party that, in regard to matters such as the siting of the new and permanent parliament house, each and every senator may speak and vote as he or she thinks fit. In my role as Leader of the Opposition, I indicate to the Senate that honourable senators on this side of the chamber- as, I understand, is the case in respect of those on the Government side and, in fact, all round the chamber- will be completely free to vote as they think fit. Therefore, when I rise to speak to the message from the House of Representatives I will be speaking as a senator and not as Leader of the Opposition.
– by leave- I support the view of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). Members of the Australian Country Party are free to speak as they think fit in regard to the site of the new and permanent parliament house, the proposed joint sitting, and the proposition that Senator Wright has put forward in his Bill.
– by leave- Mr President, I concur with my learned friends.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and
Excise) (4.30)- Mr President, we all seem to be of the same mind on this matter- that this is a non-party issue. That holds true for the members of the Government Party in this chamber. On 25 October 1973 the following message was received from the House of Representatives:
The House of Representatives transmits to the Senate the following resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this day and requests the concurrence of the Senate therein:
This House is of the opinion that (a) the site for the new and permanent parliament house should be determined forthwith; (b) a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter; and (c) planning for the new parliament house should commenec immediately.
In view of that message having been received, I move:
That this House is of the opinion that-
planning for the new house should commence immediately.
This matter was considered by the Senate on 6 May 1971. The Senate then took the view, in substance, that there ought to be a sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives in order to dispose of this issue. I will remind the Senate of what was then decided. It was:
Believing that the decision as to the site of the new and permanemt Parliament House is and remains the responsibility of those members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who constitute the Parliament of the Commonwealth;
Recommends that a joint sitting of the two Houses or other form of general conference be convened to express, by resolution, the point of view of the assembled members of the Parliament as between Capital Hill and Camp Hill area;
Recommends further for the consideration of the House of Representatives-
Invites Members of the House of Representatives to join with Senators in the Senate Chamber or such other place as may be determined by Mr President and Mr Speaker for the purpose of the joint meeting;
And further invites the House of Representatives to suggest any alternative to or modification of the Senate’s proposal, with a view to the convening of a joint meeting of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to determine finally the question where the new and permanent Parliament House be situated.
I moved that motion on 6 May 1971 and it was carried. The House of Representatives, by its message, has now suggested a similar proposalthat there be a joint meeting to determine the site- and also has suggested that planning for the new parliament house should commence immediately. I believe that consistently with what was determined by the resolution of the Senate on 6 May 1971, we should concur in the proposition for a joint meeting. The proposal for a joint meeting, if concurred in, can be followed by some machinery proposals to be agreed upon between the Houses. That should cause no difficulty.
It is simply a meeting of the members of the Houses in order that they may express their view. It is not intended, as I understand it either in what was proposed in May 1971 or in what is proposed now by the House of Representatives, that this meeting should be operative in the sense of an Act in the law. It is not. It is merely a means of ascertaining in a regular way what are the wishes of those persons who happen to be the members of both Houses. So it would not be a sitting in any constitutional or legislative sense. It would be a manner of determining where we think the site should be.
– Seeking the consensus.
-Yes, seeking the majority viewpoint of persons, irrespective of the Houses and irrespective of the parties. It could be a fair ascertainment of the views of the people concerned, again, as I say, without any constitutional significance in the sense of an operative constitutional or legislative decision. It could be a fair way to get a decision, and presumably the decision would be between Capital Hill and Camp Hill, although I imagine there is no conclusiveness as to that. If somebody wanted to propose some other site, that is a matter for those who would deal with the arrangements. I suggest that this is a reasonable and fair proposition that we should accept.
Prior to May 1971 the then Prime Minister indicated that this matter ought to be determined by the members of the 2 Houses. In this way the members can be brought together and they can make a decision in a fair manner. I suggest that if this proposition is agreed to, the arrangements for the meeting ought to be such that there should be no debate on the issue. This can be conducted elsewhere outside the chambers. It is proposed that we should come back into the chamber, have a vote and put an end to a matter on which there has been a great deal of debate and discussion. I hope that this proposition is agreed to.
I know there are some people who have fears about any meeting together of the Houses because it may serve as some precedent. I do not think we should shy at shadows on a question such as this. A decision as to where the new parliament house should be needs to be made, and I think we ought to have enough sense to regard this as being primarily a matter for senators and members. This was the point of disagreement previously when, there having been a difference of opinion between the 2 Houses, the matter was treated by the then Prime Minister as one for executive decision. I think that was resented greatly because, when one added the individual votes, there was a preponderance in the direction other than that which was determined by the then Prime Minister. I suggest that this procedure is similiar to that which was used on an earlier occasion when there was an ascertainment, as I understand it, of the views of members of the Houses. I suggest that the Senate ought to agree to the proposal of the House of Representatives. We suggested it in May 1971. Now the House of Representatives has come round to the viewpoint that there should be such a meeting.
– What happens after there is a decision?
– We would expect that the Government would act in accordance with the decision as to the site. Work would proceed, happily we would think, without the necessity for the approval of the National Capital Development Commission. Senators and members, as individuals, could determine the question. I feel confident that the Government would act in accordance with the decision. As far as I know, there has been no Cabinet decision either as to site or as to the whole question, during the life of this Government. The basis upon which I believe that members of the Government would be proceeding is that if there is a meeting and if there is a decision one way or the other it would be acted upon. I can say no more than that.
– There could be a counting of heads without a joint meeting.
-I think that is right. One could have a counting of heads. If people are away- some might be away- and if there is a close vote, there will be problems. The motion seems a reasonable way out of what has become an impasse. We could meet together, have a vote and be done with the matter. If it is accepted on all hands that that is the way in which the matter is to be resolved, we meet and count the heads then and there and let it be decided. After that it would be difficult to argue further about the matter. I suggest that it is a common sense way to resolve the matter. It is consistent with what we requested of the House of Representatives. I would ask the Senate to concur in the motion.
- Senator Murphy in his capacity as Senator Murphy has put down a very persuasive and, on the face of it, a very attractive argument. I think the $64 question was asked by Senator Drake-Brockman. This afternoon we are debating not where the parliament house ought to be- that would be irrelevant to this afternoon’s debate- but by what method the site ought to be determined. We have a proposition from the House of Representatives that it be determined by a joint meeting of the members of the 2 Houses. As all honourable senators know, another proposition is being floated by Senator Wright, namely, that the decision as to where the site ought to be should be determined by an Act of Parliament. As I see the position, we have 2 competing propositions- one a joint meeting of the 2 Houses, and the other the normal introduction of a Bill and its passage through both chambers. I said that Senator Drake-Brockman asked the $64 question. I believe that he highlighted the difficulty of having a joint meeting.
On the night of 29 May 1969, when the then Government announced the decision that the new and permanent parliament house would be in a certain place, the Senate erupted, as I recall it from reading the Hansard again. There was cross-voting all round the chamber. The simple resolution was that the Senate take note of the statement with disapproval. The motion was carried by 41 votes to 13. Some very angry things were said that night and I was among those who said angry things. I said that the matter should be decided by an Act of Parliament and ‘not in the arrogant, dictatorial executive manner in which it has been resolved tonight- by a statement from the Prime Minister’. That was one of the angry things which I said. What we were taking exception to there -
– When was this?
-On 29 May 1969. What the Senate was taking exception to that night was a decision of the Executive. If we agree to the 2 Houses of the Parliament meeting together, what happens then? Does the Executive accept the decision of that meeting? It is assumed that it would. How does it put that decision into effect? Does the Government introduce into the House of Representatives a Bill to fix permanently the site? Does this mean that a senator is bound to vote in this place according to the way that the majority voted at the joint meeting? At the joint meeting I may well vote for site A, and site B may be carried by the joint meeting. A Bill is introduced to promote site B. Am I in conscience bound to support that site, as a senator sitting in this place considering a piece of legislation?
– Not necessarily the same people.
– Not necessarily the same people. I think that is where Senator Drake-Brockman put his finger on the weakness of the proposition for a joint meeting. On 29 May 1969 I said- I did not realise that I had said it until I re-read Mr Bullock’s paper which he prepared in 1970 and for which I think we are indebted- that I believed that the proper way to resolve this question was by the introduction of a Bill and its passage through the 2 Houses. I asked the Government whether it would be prepared to allow me to promote a private member’s Bill. I could not get an answer that night, of course. The next day I asked the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson this question:
I ask the Leader of Government in the Senate a question relating to the debate on the statement about the site of the new and permanent parliament house. Can he advise the Senate whether the Government is prepared to introduce a Bill to give effect to its decision so that, if a disagreement arises between the 2 Houses of Parliament, the matter may be resolved in accordance with the proper constitutional procedures?
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, speaking in his capacity as Leader of the Government- I say that in fairness to him- said:
Last night we dealt with a statement by the Prime Minister which made abundantly clear that the Government had decided on the site, having regard to the impasse that had arisen because of the different views expressed in the 2 Houses. The Government will not bring in a Bill. The Government having already made the decision, that decision remains.
Much the same sort of situation could arise out of a joint meeting. I think this is is where the rub comes. I appreciate the attractiveness of Senator
Murphy’s argument. It seems a reasonable, sensible and practical thing for members of both chambers, who realise more than anybody else that the facilities in this place are totally inadequate for the 1970s, that the new and permanent parliament house has been necessary for at least 10 years, if not longer, and that something ought to be done-
– It has been necessary since 1912.
-It has been necessary for a long time. We are anxious to see something started. I think that is the view shared by all people connected with the Parliament. We all appreciate the dilemma in which governments have been placed because of the disagreements over sites, and it is fair enough to say that the matter ought to be resolved. So the message which we have received from the House of Representatives is, on the face of it, an attractive and sensible way of resolving these difficulties. But I have come to the conclusion that, attractive as that solution may be, it in itself will create greater problems than presently exist.
– It could hardly do that.
– With respect, I think it would, because all the other problems would arise thereafter. The Bill presented by Senator Wright, I think, does the correct thing. However, I do not think the area he has proposed is large enough. I think it should go down to the lake and cover the whole of the parliamentary triangle so that the National Capital Development Commission cannot put its own head office where it wanted to put parliament house. I would reserve the whole of the parliamentary triangle this side of the lake as an area in which nothing could be done without the permission of the Parliament. However, I believe that what Senator Wright has urged is the correct method, namely, that Parliament itself shall decide where the house shall be and shall lay down certain conditions as to what can happen within that area.
– What if the 2 Houses disagree?
-If the 2 Houses disagreed, then I think that eventually the members themselves would be forced to compromise and that one House or the other would give way. I could well start off convinced that site A is the only reasonable and proper site. If we came to such an impasse, I am not such a pigheaded person, as honourable senators know, that I might not be prepared to change my mind. 1 am always open to persuasion. I think that could happen. I do not think that we would necessarily reach an impasse again. I think that what we ought to be well aware of is that many things have happened since May 1969 when this matter was discussed. Somebody gave me the statistics- I think they were used in the debate in the House of Representatives- which show that of the members of the House of Representatives who voted on this question on the last occasion, in 1969, only 60 per cent are presently in that chamber. I have not worked out the mathematics for this chamber, but we all know that in 1971 quite a change occurred in the membership of this place; quite a number of new senators came in and quite a number of old senators retired. Now nobody is quite sure, firstly, how those who voted last time will vote this time and, secondly, how the new senators will vote. In the Senate the site which was the popular choice last time might not necessarily be the popular choice this time.
– What was the popular choice last time?
-Capital Hill bolted in by a mile. That is not to say that the same thing will happen again.
– There is one bloke who had a vote which he can change because he now has a free vote.
-That is right. It may well be that the Senate will come to the same conclusion. However, I think that the best way of resolving this is by legislation. I do not want to get involved in what could be thought to be the constitutional arguments or the relationships between the 2 Houses, but I come down on the side of a Bill and against a joint meeting on this very simple proposition: I believe that is the simplest, cleanest and best way to resolve this problem.
– I continue the remarks that I commenced to make earlier. Let me say that I had a pretty unhappy experience as a member on the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House to the extent that I was elected to that Committee in 1966; I sat at one meeting of the Committee which decided to ask all the parliamentary departments what accommodation space they required in the proposed house; and while those letters of inquiry went out to those departments we had an election, and my Party did not see fit to reappoint me to the Committee. However, after a 3-year period I was appointed to the Committee. I attended one meeting which considered the report to be presented to the Parliament. I was the only one, I think, who went through it clause by clause, and I was disgusted with the report that was presented to the Parliament. All that every one of the then Government members of the Committee could say was: ‘It is a pity you were not here from the start. Then there may have been some logic in it. It is too late to alter it now ‘. The report was tabled in this House and it remained on the notice paper for years, but was never discussed.
There are many features of the proposed new and permanent parliament house which I do not think are architecturally possible and others which I do not think are desirable in the interests of the comfort and satisfaction of members. However, we are not now deciding on the design of the building. So, if we cannot agree on the site, we have not agreed on the building. A committee has agreed on it, but so far neither House of the Parliament has considered the question.
The case put by Senator Murphy was said to be plausible. Whereas previously we argued that there were some constitutional barriers to a joint meeting of the 2 Houses, Senator Murphy now says that there would be just an expression of opinion. When we last discussed this matter my argument was that the Senate had the right to an equal voice and that that right should not be taken away and should not be sold for a joint meeting; that a solution had to be found which met the requirements of the Senate. Like Senator Withers, I do not think we would be pigheaded if an impasse arose. The great decision of the Senate on that occasion was taken by a margin of 2 votes, and 2 senator’s who voted for the joint meeting are absent today. So, we shall have to rely on the new senator’s or on a change of mind by some of the older senators, to carry this motion. I agree that a joint meeting would be an easy method of solving this problem We could do it by sending a ballot paper to each member. Senator Murphy has said that it would not be a constitutional meeting, just the determination of a consensus of opinion; that we would get together and vote. But the point is that we would be complying with the request from the other House to meet jointly. We, by resolution, would decide to meet jointly. Therefore, we would meet jointly by decision of both Houses. What we have to look at is: Are there any dangers in meeting the House of Representatives as a result of decisions of both Houses? If we wanted just an expression of opinion, we could ask every member for his opinion. I think I could forecast the majority opinion, whether it would be for Camp Hill or Capital Hill. I think the Executive would have more confidence if it had an expression of opinion by members. But this does not, of necessity, mean that we have to have a joint meeting. When we sought a joint meeting, the then Government did not agree with the opinion expressed by this House and decided to take action. That was when this House became irate because that action was taken in defiance of the expressed will of this House. Although there was a majority of only two on that expression of opinion, a bigger majority expressed hostility to the action of the other House. That shows that we considered the right of this House.
Under the Constitution, which I quoted on the previous occasion, the only provisions for joint sittings of the 2 Houses are contained in section 57. That section prescribes the action to be taken after a Bill has been rejected on 2 occasions with a 3-month interval between rejections. After that period a double dissolution can occur, and if a double dissolution occurs we can have a joint meeting of both Houses. Admittedly, such a meeting is concerned with Bills. I read the following from the final paragraph of section 57:
The members present at the joint sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the proposed law as last proposed by the House of Representatives and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed by the other . . .
– If the Governor-General agrees.
– If the GovernorGeneral agrees.
– This is the Government of the day.
-That is so. The point I am making about this whole question is that it can occur only when an impasse has been reached and then the voters have the first opportunity to cast a judgment. After the electors have been given an opportunity to cast their judgment the matter is returned to the Parliament. If it is again rejected a joint meeting can be held. Section 57 of the Constitution states:
The members present at the joint sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the proposed law as last proposed by the House of Representatives, and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed to by the other, and any such amendments which are affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members . . .
Anything which is not agreed to by one House can be debated by the other. As a result we could be debating the action of the House of Representatives or vice versa. Section 50 of the Constitution states:
Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to-
The mode in which its powers, privileges, and immunities may be exercised and upheld:
The order and conduct of its business and proceedings either separately or jointly with the other House.
Provisions have been made in the Senate Standing Orders as to the conduct of communication with the other House. A communication need not be by a joint meeting. I consider the holding of a joint meeting more dangerous to me than deciding the site of Parliament House. Equal voting strength is given under the Standing Orders to both Houses. Section 53 of the Constitution states:
Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall-
The section deals with money Bills which the Senate cannot amend-
That section puts the Senate on an equal basis with the House of Representatives which is greater numerically. If our equal right with that House is destroyed the Senate will be accepted as an inferior body. When I first became a member of this House it had a low public image. I think the image has improved, not as a result of my entry; it may have improved despite my entry to the House. The value of this chamber has been questioned on a number of occasions. If we reach a stage where we have not equal power and we become a lesser House than the other House it will be difficult to justify the continuation of this chamber. The next point I wish to make, and on which we have had some debate, is contained in section 23 of the Constitution which states:
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote. The President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.
At the moment we recognise the right of the Senate, We have equal power with the other House. But we now seek an arrangement whereby we will sit conjointly with another House by which we are overridden 2 votes to one. Our votes might be able to sway the decision for the siting of the new parliament house, but the value and prestige of the Senate would be weakened as a result of a precedent being set of a greater numerical House overriding us. In regard to the question of communicating with the other House, if we so desire, I refer honourable senators to the Standing Orders. A number of Standing Orders outline the way we can communicate with the other House. Standing order 334 states:
Communications with the House of Representatives may be by Message, by Conference, or by Select Committees conferring with each other.
Standing order 337 states:
Every Message from the House of Representatives shall be received, if the Senate is sitting, at the Bar by a Clerk at the
Table, and, if the Senate is not sitting, by the Clerk of the Senate, and shall be reported by the President as early as convenient, and a future time named for its consideration; or it may, by leave, be dealt with at once.
That standing order relates to a message received from the House of Representatives. Standing order 338 which deals with conferences states:
Conferences desired by the Senate with the House of Representatives shall in all cases be requested by message.
Standing order 339 states:
In requesting any Conference, the Message from the Senate shall state, in general terms, the object for which the Conference is desired and the number of Managers proposed to serve thereon, which shall be not less than five.
That standing order is not dealing with a joint meeting. It concerns a meeting of managers. Standing order 340 states:
Every Motion for requesting a Conference shall contain the names of the Senators proposed by the Mover to be the Managers for the Senate.
Standing order 344 states:
The Managers to represent the Senate in a Conference requested by the House of Representatives shall consist of the same number of Members as those of the House of Representatives.
If the House of Representatives requests the conference it cannot have more members than the Senate. Standing order 345 states:
In respect of any Conference requested by the House of Representatives the time and place for holding the same shall be appointed by the Senate; and when the Senate requests a Conference, it shall agree to its being held at such time and place as shall be appointed by the House of Representatives, and such agreement shall be communicated by Message.
Those who framed our Standing Orders said, in effect: ‘The method of communication in deciding matters, if it is not law or is not taken to the extent of a double dissolution, shall be resolved by having equal managers, if it is requested by the House of Representatives’. Of course, if it is not requested by the House of Representatives, the numbers may be disproportionate but the superiority of this House decides the numbers which it shall have. We can say that our position is such that we are prepared to meet the House of Representatives in conference if we have 2 delegates to every one from the House of Representatives. The Constitution has protected the position of the numerically weaker House and given it the prestige of equality; in fact, it has perhaps given it some superiority. Today we went to sell it all away to the numerically stronger House on this question. There is provision for the holding of a joint meeting about proposed law after the views of the people have been sought. The practice has been for a Government that introduces legislation which does not receive the approval of one House either to fail to go on with the proposed law or amend the provisions which offend the other House. We have legislated by that method through the years. I agree that if a Bill were carried in relation to this matter by one House and the other House did not agree to the proposal we could get somewhere on the question, but I cannot agree with Senator Wright’s proposed Bill because he has introduced into it a time factor. I have strong views on the prestige of the Senate. I believe that we should try to uphold its dignity and not lessen it. I do not regard myself as being an authority on where the new and permanent parliament house should be. There are several suitable spots for it in Canberra.
– I think the Minister was one of the original seven in favour of the lakeside site, was he not?
– No, I supported the Camp Hill site. Because of my imperfections and because I had insufficient knowledge on this matter I placed my confidence in the hands of the architect of Canberra. It was more in keeping with his ideas to have it on Camp Hill. I simply backed Burley Griffin. It was not a case of my thinking that it would be better on Camp Hill than on Capital Hill. After that I felt obliged, when the Executive moved to support the Senate’s recommendation and changed to the Capital Hill site. Because of my loyalty to the Senate I would vote at any such meeting not according to my feelings but according to the view of the Senate. That would destroy any chance of us obtaining a true expression of opinion on this matter. We have to uphold the dignity of this House. We should not sell it away to another House which is numerically stronger. I hope Senator Murphy’s proposal will be defeated.
– We have just listened to a speech which illustrates how, with all the imperfections of Parliament, the fundamental thinking and purpose is ennobled by the traditions of Parliament, evoked by the subject to which we are addressing ourselves, that is, the building that is going to house this Parliament in the future. It will probably be the chief democratic Parliament of the southern hemisphere for the next 2 to 5 centuries. That is something which I think ought to impress us all. I am sure it does. All I want to say on the subject of the actual site is that we are embarrassed by having 2 sites which are, in my opinion, uniquely special and which would be of great advantage to this country. Although I was originally a Capital Hill man, I have been persuaded by the report of both the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House and the National Capital Development Commission, which is entitled to be respected because of its knowledge of town planning and architecture, to change my opinion. My inclination at the moment is towards Camp Hill. I say that in candour simply to put the matter aside because today the issue is not, I submit, which of those 2 sites should be chosen but on how we should reach a decision as to which of those 2 sites should be chosen. I submit that Senator Murphy’s introduction- I hope I can say this without disrespect to him- was without proper consideration of the proposition. He said that a decision should be made and that it should be made by Parliament. Actually he said that it should be made by members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, but of course, we have no right of recognition other than as members of Parliament and by virtue of the authority that we hold as members of one House or the other. I could not agree more with the propositions, firstly, that a decision is required now- that is to say the immediate future- and, secondly, that it should be a decision by the Parliament. But Senator Murphy has put forward a proposition that would not lead to such a decision.
We have been bedevilled by the inappropriate procedures of this matter since 1958. It was in 1958 that the Menzies Government purported to decide the site as being on the lakeside. Anyone who reads the National Capital Development Commission’s report will see that it asked for a decision because it properly recognised that the site of the new and permanent parliament house would be the focal point of its planning. It went ahead 10 years in the planning of its environs. It was then confronted with resolutions passed by the Parliament and found that the Houses of the Parliament did not agree with the lakeside site. I think we can all rejoice in the decision of the Parliament of the day that elevated the site from beside Lake Burley Griffin to either Camp Hill or Capital Hill. At the time the Parliament dealt with the matter in 1968 it dealt with it by resolutions and then sought to reconcile the resolutions. The question of a joint sitting arose. I am much indebted to Senator Withers and Senator Cavanagh for the reminders they have given us of the debates of that time. I was a member of the Government at the time. Although there was a free vote, as we have been told, the Government made a decision. I am now at liberty to say, speaking as an individual, that it was a decision with which I fundamentally disagreed. It is not the right of the Government to make such a decision; it is the right of the Parliament. But it has to be a decision.
Parliament could not proceed to solve the matters before it except pursuant to the Constitution. Senator Cavanagh has made reference- I believe it was a very adequate one- to section 57 of the Constitution. He pointed out the special nature of the provision- it is the only provision known to me- of the Constitution that provides for a joint sitting. In this case none of the conditions that would entitle the Governor-General to convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives has yet been complied with. We have had none of the elections and double dissolutions that would justify a joint sitting of the House passing any resolution which, in the terms of the final part of section 57, once resolved shall be taken to be duly passed by both Houses of the Parliament and shall be presented to the Queen. There is nothing that applies to any situation other than that of a double dissolution followed by an election followed by a joint sitting under section 57.
So it is completely delusional to think that any resolution come to by a joint sitting such as is proposed in this message would have any operative or persuasive effect. Senator Murphy concedes that it would not have any operative effect. But the thing about it is that it would constitute a precedent on the part of the Senate in going along with the House of Representatives which has double its numbers. We would reduce by half the representation of authority that we are given by virtue of being senators and thereby not uphold the authorities and purposes of the Senate. 1 find myself so much in agreement with what Senator Cavanagh has so cogently put forward in this matter that I content myself with a simple statement to that effect.
I refer also to the procedural matters which have been provided for in the Standing Orders as to communications between the 2 Houses and conferences. If in any other case the 2 Houses wish to reconcile their point of view if they are in difference, we provided for it if it is a case outside section 57 and we provided for it in a way which preserves the integrity of our constitutional position. I think it was at the time they were forging out the Petition of Right in 1628 that Coke said: Parliament must do the things of Parliament in a parliamentary way’. At that time, of course, he did not have the 3 centuries of experience that followed. This statement was made right at the threshold of parliamentary authority. Why should we not proceed in a proper way, with all the example before us of irresolution and drift that is caused by inappropriate approaches. If the Executive makes a decision that belongs to the Government everybody tries to rebel against it and everybody ignores it. If we have a proposition that Parliament should decide and Parliament approaches it in the proper way, that Act may be altered by any subsequent parliament by a subsequent piece of legislation, but that would be an act of irresponsibility which parliaments usually do not show in matters such as this.
If we want to get this matter solved in a constitutional way, if we want to get it solved effectively, and if we want to get the procedure that will give the Parliament the promptest decision, I urge the Senate to reject the proposal for a joint tete-a-tete meeting at which a vote would be taken without debate. The proposition put forward by Senator Murphy is that consistent with the resolution of 6 May 1 97 1 we should concur in a message for a joint sitting. That resolution of 6 May 1 97 1 provided for no vote -
– It did not provide for any debate.
– It provided for no debate. It provided for the resolution, such as it was, to be ascertained by a majority of votes. I have heard Senator Murphy refer to the fact that if one has a Bill one may have absentees when it comes on. Is it supposed that we are going to have a full roll call for this joint meeting? Is it supposed that everything else is to be laid aside? We are going to have just the same difficulties. It has been indicated by way of interjection that there would be a much more responsible way of ascertaining our individual views if we simply took a secret vote from members and counted them up without going to the inappropriate procedure of a joint meeting.
The question of a joint meeting is also bedevilled by the reflection that there is to be no debate. I would think, especially with new members and even with those who have been here for many years, that it is imperative if one is to be responsible to one’s duty for each member of Parliament individually to inspect the sites. In the light of work that has gone on in regard to Capital Hill and the road which surrounds that area it is imperative to know in what way the Parliament House could be linked with the gardens on Camp Hill and those of the present Parliament House. In the same way to inspect Camp Hill is an experience, with the opportunity to have explained how the road can be bridged over so as to take in- honourable senators may be good enough to glance at the plans attached to my Bill- not merely Camp Hill but also the parliamentary gardens, the projection into Capital Hill square and the actual circle of Capital Hill.
The second point I would like to make about the absence of debate is that I would think every member of Parliament would enrich his understanding of the problem involved in these 2 sites by listening to members of that expert body, the National Capital Development Commission, explain by way of a model the relative considerations as to the site. So the idea of going to a joint sitting without debate, 1 think, is a stultifying prospect for members of Parliament.
Lastly, I notice that Senator Murphy says that it is not necessary to have the joint meeting in this place and that it may take place anywhere. I heard someone offer various locations for the joint meeting in Canberra elsewhere. But when one speaks in the Parliament one speaks with all the advantage and responsibility of complete freedom from defamation law, under parliamentary privilege. It will be recalled that it was needful for that to be invoked at the time of the last debate when some honourable senators felt it was their duty to make criticism of some people. One would not feel free to indulge in such criticism without the protection of the privilege of Parliament.
So for all these reasons- our constitutional position, promptness and effectiveness of decision and the appropriateness of discussion of the decision- I would urge that the Senate should not accept the resolution from the House below. In whatever way commends itself to any honourable senator let us initiate an Act of Parliament. I have put forward one simply to indicate the general idea of what may be described in a simple Act of Parliament. Of course, I am not committed to any one part of it. My Bill has been put forward only as a medium of consultation within the Senate to see whether we could get an expression of the original passage of an Act of Parliament to go to the House of Representatives for that place to say whether it would agree with it or not.
I wish to make only one concluding reference. Some people, I think, were swayed in the House of Representatives by the emotional appeal to capture Capital Hill before the bureaucrats get it. It was argued that if we do not build a parliament house on it they will build on the site. I have shown that even the National Capital Development Commission’s Camp Hill proposal ensures that Capital Hill will never be made the site of a competing structure. In my Bill I have included the additional safeguard which is, I think, the thing most warm to the ideas which I have expressed. This is an idea in which persons best rejoice and it will make the whole of the area around Capital Hill an eternal garden, a national garden or park for the people of Australia where parliamentarians can see the people in what I hope would be a unique park of all parks and gardens in Australia. In that sense let us decide the question without delay in the proper way. Let us reject this motion and see whether, by debate, we can agree to a stature which will give definition to the site and describe the jurisdiction of the grounds to be annexed to the Parliament which, as far as I am concerned, I would prefer went down to the lake as suggested by Senator Withers. But in my natural approach I wish to make as little contention on any subject as possible. Therefore I will confine myself to as little area as possible. In that spirit I trust that the motion will be rejected to enable us to bring in the appropriate Bill.
– I support the motion moved by Senator Murphy which, in fact, agrees with the message which has been sent to us from another place. I think that far too much emphasis has been placed today on constitutional difficulties. I think that they have been drawn across the track deliberately to try to avoid what I understand would be a meeting without great formality but which would give a clear guidance or indication to the Executive in relation to a site acceptable to the majority of members for the new and permanent parliament house. I am a Capital Hill supporter, but I would accept the position of Camp Hill if such a decision were made because of the great urgency to do something today. I feel that we have to do something of this nature. There are no problems which cannot be overcome according to the very learned discussion we have had from both Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wright in relation to the Standing Orders. I do not believe that the Standing Orders are relevant to the position as we see it and as this message from the House of Representatives has been given to us.
We, in our wisdom in 1969- and this is the emphasis which I want to make- by a majority of the Senate sought such a meeting. It is now 1973 and finally a similiar message has come from the House of Representatives. It virtually agrees to our original proposition. But it could not be done in that form because a new Parliament exists at this time. The matter was left on the notice paper over in the other place for a long time but it was removed before Parliament was prorogued before the last election. It is interesting to have a look at some of the background to the desire of the Australian Government to have a proper place to meet. It goes right back into the early history of federation. I was interested to obtain a copy of a meeting of the Parliamentary
Committee on Public Works held on 22 May 1923. The witness was Walter Burley Griffin, architect. He was sworn and examined. In his opening remarks he stated:
I have not had an opportunity of seeing the draft plans prepared in connection with the provisional Parliament House and administrative offices at Canberra. In my opinion it would be preferable, from every point of view, to proceed with the erection of the nucleus of the permanent building. It would be possible to erect the nucleus of the permanent building within 3 years. The Government called a competition in June 1914, and again in August 1916, requesting the architects of the world to formulate their plans and register their acquiescence in the arrangements.
This was in 1923 which is almost 10 years after the first competition was called and almost 8 years after the second competition was called. That competition was never judged. If honourable senators read through the whole of this document which I have in my hand they will see that the government of that day completely repudiated the competition which it had established. Burley Griffin in the strongest possible terms takes the government to task in the evidence which he submitted to the Public Works Committee. It is interesting to go on a little further and find that 210 architects entered for the previous competitions. I believe that this is relevant. It might not seem to be relevant to the message which we have received from the House of Representatives but section (c) of that message states:
That is part of the message we are being asked to support today. We go on into the report of this meeting and into the history of this matter and we find that we in this parliament are walking around a budding which should never have been built in the first place. Burley Griffin goes on to indicate that it would have cost a maximum of 1 5 per cent more to have built the permanent parliament house then.
– What site did he favour?
– He was in favour of Kurrajong Hill- that is Capital Hill- completely because as he stated in his evidence:
It is not beyond the capacity or the brains of the architects to design a building of symmetrical architecture for erection on Kurrajong Hill as a Parliament House . . .
He says this quite clearly, although he had a strong favour for Camp Hill. He did not rule it out. His initial idea was to put on Kurrajong Hill- as it was called then- which is now called Capital Hill, the residence of the GovernorGeneral and the Prime Minister’s Lodge. It was found that that was architecturally difficult. Then Burley Griffin wanted to put a monumental building there which would be used for the openings of Parliament and ceremonial occasions. Parliament would then meet in the Parliament House which would be built on Camp Hill. I think that this was a dream and something which he really believed would be very wonderful. But in my view this is impractical on today’s standards. We will not build a big monumental, ceremonial building on Capital Hill as long as Australia is Australia. That was an architect’s dream which I think could not be achieved at any time because of the cost factor. A monumental building for ceremonial occasions only is something which very few countries can afford. Rome has one and that was built many centuries ago. I think that there are only 2 other major cities in the world which have a monumental building for ceremonial purposes such as Burley Griffin looked at in his dreams.
We are in a situation again which we were in in 1914, 1916, 1923, 1958, 1968-69. Now we are in a situation again where in 1973 we have not advanced one step. We have not got the site. We have not advanced one step towards replacing a building in which, in some areas, if the carpet were not there we would break our legs because there are no floor boards underneath us. Senator Cavanagh and I were in one of the top levels and we had the experience of being given 2 buckets to keep the water off us and to keep our office dry. We had to wear our overcoats. It took us months to have the repair work done on the roof of our office. I can recall Senator Cavanagh saying with pleasure to the then President that the problem of the Cavanagh-Poyser office had been solved. They had given us 2 plastic buckets. That is exactly what we had received. We had them for a week or so. I am not so concerned about those things because they are repairable. But I am concerned about the lack of facilities that we will have to put up with in the Parliament for at least another 10 years even if we made a decision right now.
I think that most of us in the Senate- indeed, the greatest majority of us- will not be here as members of Parliament in the new parliament house. So we have no axe to grind in relation to our own personal comfort in this matter. But it is absolutely essential that a decision is made that will be a direction, guidance or clear indication to the Executive of the urgency for the planning and construction of a new parliament house. I believe that it is absolutely essential that it be done in the manner that has been suggested. Both Houses of Parliament on separate occasions have decided that a joint sitting should be the method by which a consensus is obtained. I am not very concerned about the precedent that some honourable senators may think will be established. I am not concerned about the situation Senator Cavanagh has indicated in which we will be outnumbered two to one. This will be a meeting of all members of Parliament not on a basis of whether there are 60 or 100 members in the Senate or whether there are 100 or 200 members in the other place. The meeting will be conducted on the basis of individual members making decisions, and not on the basis of one House of Parliament making a decision instead of having a consensus of all members of both Houses.
If John Gorton, when he was Prime Minister, had carried out what was contained in his original statement in relation to the site of the new parliament house on Capital Hill, construction of the building would be well under way now. Initially he said that he would respect the majority decision of the members of the Parliament. An adverse decision was given in the Senate, the voting outnumbered the majority in another place. In other words, the majority of all members, by separate vote of both Houses, indicated quite clearly that Capital Hill was their choice. Then we found that nothing was done. It is true that John Gorton was removed from the office of Prime Minister. Then we had a new Prime Minister who took no action in relation to the matter.
– He resigned as Prime Minister.
– In my opinion, he was removed. Certainly, the technicalities of the position were that he resigned. But all prime ministers resign, they are not removed by a vote of the Parliament. They are removed in their Party rooms by vote of the members at that level. But I do not think we should get into an argument about this because it has little to do with the present subject. We had a further Prime Minister who took no action in relation to this matter. We now have a new Government that I believe will accept the decision of the majority of members. Certainly, there are differing opinions in relation to how we go about it. Some opinions were expressed- this was defeated in the other placethat we have a stage program in relation to the construction of our new and permanent parliament house. I would not support this. I can see an example of a stage program in my State of Victoria. The first stage of construction was completed some 80 or 90 years ago. The second stage will be started this year. I can see the continuing arguments for many years to come if, for instance, we had a three-stage program. The first stage would be completed and nobody would move for another 20 years before the next stage would be undertaken.
I understand that a similar position prevails in Western Australia in relation to that State’s Parliament House in Perth. Its construction was undertaken by one of these stage programs that are never finished. I believe that the Parliament has to grasp the nettle. I think that we have to say that we will have a new and permanent parliament house. I do not know whether we have to go through all the trouble that apparently has been gone through abortively in the past. I refer to the conducting of architectural competitions. I think that we have to get some competent people and say to them: ‘Plan us a Parliament House on the designs and the ideas that have been put before us by the committee that was elected by both Houses of the Parliament for this purpose’. We could say that we wanted that building completed in, say, 5 or 6 years. This is the only way in which we will do it. If we have a 2-year competition we may find that it will finish up in the same way as the 2 competitions that were conducted earlier in this century- without result and without examination. The whole thing was a complete waste of time. We have to do something.
I believe that the quickest and most effective way is to have this informal meeting of both groups- not as a meeting of the House of Representatives and a meeting of the Senate, but as a meeting of all parliamentarians meeting together to obtain a consensus which may be given to the Executive as a clear indication of the wishes of all members. The meeting does not necessarily have to be held in this chamber. I take the point made by Senator Wright in relation to privilege. I would think that Kings Hall would be also a place of privilege on this basis. There could be some argument between the 2 Houses on protocol in relation to where -
– The meeting could be held in the rose garden.
– The rose garden would be perfect because it is delightful at the moment. I am sure that Senator Wright would be very amenable if he was amongst those roses to any subject that was discussed. I could see the point of view of Senator Murphy when he said that the meeting should be conducted without debate. I do not think that this was in any way supposed to mean that this would be done to stifle discussion. I firmly believe that the reason this was indicated in the previous resolution was that at that time both Houses had discussed the matter very recently. It was a very hot question at that time.
Decisions were made and I believe that his position then was that we did not require another full scale debate at that stage for members to vote on the question. They would have been able to cast their vote and the outcome would have been decided by the numbers. But that was not acceptable. I do not think that Senator Murphy would be hard and fast in relation to that aspect of the matter. I do not know. I cannot speak for him personally. A free vote has been given on this. But there would be no hard and fast attitude that there should not be a debate. Certainly, we should meet, certainly we should be able to give an indication to the Executive of where the building should be sited and certainly the Executive, after that indication had been given, should take very clear cognisance of paragraph (c) in the message the Senate received which states:
Planning for the new parliament house should commence immediately. This is the major factor. Anything that I can do or anything that I can say that will convince this Government, the Parliament or any members of it that we have to start this year I will do or say. I will not do this for my own comfort because I may not be here to see the new parliament. I may not live long enough to see it open. Certainly, I will not be sitting as a member of it. I hope that the decision will be that we accept the message from the House of Representatives which is similar to that which we ourselves sent to that House some 4 years ago.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.49)-I think that I will need about 5 minutes to say what I have to say. This is not a discussion on whether we will have the new parliament house on Capital Hill or on Camp Hill. Quite frankly and clearly, I state that this is a discussion on proposals for procedures. I must say that I will not support the motion moved by Senator Murphy. I have listened very carefully to the argument advanced by Senator Cavanagh and, to a lesser extent that advanced by Senator Wright, and I completely agree with the points that are made. Whether we like it or not, ultimately the construction of a new parliament house will have to be proposed in the form of legislation. It has been suggested, quite extraordinarily, that the members of both Houses of Parliament could get their heads together in a park. But whether we met there, in Kings Hall or at the Lakeside Hotel and take a vote by putting up our hands, the fact of the matter is that for the expenditure involved in building a parliament house there must be an appropriation. But how can the government appropriate money if there is no legislation backing for the appropriation? Whether we like it or not, ultimately we will be confined with a piece of legislation. I do not necessarily accept the Bill that Senator Wright has brought forward; I reserve my options. However, I believe that ultimately, either here or in the other place the Government or a private member will present a Bill. At least that will be legislation and we as parliamentarians will deal with it in a parliamentary way.
It has been said that in 1969 there was a vote on this matter. At that time there were certain numbers in this chamber and certain numbers in the other House. But the fact is, as Senator Withers said, that something like 40 per cent of the people who took part in the vote in the other House at that time are not members any more and about 15 per cent of the then senators are not here any more. If we have a Senate election next April, or whenever it might be, perhaps 30 people now in this place will not be here after it. That sort of argument is, in my opinion, a superficial argument.
Senator Murphy has put forward a proposition which suggests that the Parliament should abrogate its function. It is suggested that, because there is an element of difference of view within the various parties, there should be a system whereby we have what could almost be called a kangaroo court vote on this issue. To me that is quite wrong. I believe that the Senate has a responsibility to act as a Senate. If we have legislation before us and there is disputation between the 2 Houses, the Constitution lays down what should be done. That seems to me to be the issue. I do not necessarily accept Senator Wright ‘s proposals. I accept the concept that there should be a large area as a parliamentary triangle, or whatever it is called; but, as for the site, I reserve my options. I did not have a free vote when we dealt with this matter the last time because I was the guinea pig who had to move the motion on behalf of the then Government. I reserve my options, but I say that we should deal with this matter by way of a piece of legislation and the provisions of the Constitution on the one hand and our Standing Orders on the other hand, because they set out what the function of the Senate should be, and not by means of some resolution by which we abrogate our authority and responsibility as members of the Senate.
– I am in favour of acceding to the request received from the other House. If we had agreed to have a joint meeting some years ago when this matter came up, probably the foundations of the new parliament house would have been laid and the building would be on the way. I see nothing wrong with members of this Parliament meeting as a union of members and taking a democratic decision. I am sorry that, as happened in 1969, constitutional and legal difficulties are being raised. They were raised then and they resulted in no decision being made for years afterwards. I am 100 per cent in favour of agreeing to have a joint meeting; and when it is held, if it is held, I will be voting for Capital Hill.
-I rise to express my opposition to a joint sitting of the 2 Houses of the Federal Parliament supposedly to decide the issue of the site of a new and permanent parliament house. I believe that a study of the background to this debate and the decision on the siting points clearly to a doubt as to the wisdom and the ability of a group constituted as a parliament. The Parliament is, and is intended to be, demonstrative of the failings and inabilities, as well as the abilities, which one finds in a cross-section of public life. We hope finally to arrive at a correct decision. The Senate has received a message requesting a joint sitting of the 2 Houses of Parliament at which a vote of members and senators would purport to decide the site. The meeting would have no constitutional base whatever and would, I believe, create a precedent for future embarrassment of the Senate in its role of a House of equal strength to the House of Representatives. There are strong arguments for both of the important matters that we are considering, and in general they have been raisied by previous speakers. A poll of members today would produce a different result from that which would be produced in 5 years’ time. If the Government of today wishes to take the advice of the concerted view of the larger number of members of both Houses, it is on record from some years ago.
A meeting of the nature suggested would decide nothing constitutional or positive. If there were a joint meeting there need only be a leader of great strength in a new government- perhaps someone like Sir Robert Menzies- and within 6 months it would be quite likely that he would decide the site and direct the National Capital Development Commission to build on the lakeside site. There would be no constitutional argument against such a leader doing so. A meeting of the two Houses would produce nothing. I believe that I represent my State in this Chamber on a basis which is not comparable in strength with that of representatives in another place. I would not like to join with them in any meeting which would indicate that the strength in the House of Representatives is double that in the Senate. If there were a genuine intention on the part of the former Government or this Government to be influenced by the united vote of the 2 Houses of Parliament, regard would be paid to the fact that the House of Representatives voted on a site and that the Senate voted on a site. I indicate to the senate the view which I expressed previously and which appears in Hansard. I indicated that I saw no need for a joint meeting. I then said:
As it was supposedly the wish of members of Parliament, expressed by their votes, that would be taken as the criterion as to where the house would be situated, I think an answer has been given already. Adding the votes of members in the other place and in the Senate, those for Camp Hill total 63 and those for Capital Hill total 83.
One has grave doubts as to what governments will do. In my ignorance, I then said:
I have no doubt that this decision of members of Parliament cannot be reversed by any Executive decision that the site should be elsewhere. I have confidence that the will of Parliament as expressed by the majority of votes, will be upheld.
We know, of course, that the Gorton Government trampled into the ground that decision on the basis of the united vote of the 2 Houses and that it decided that the new and permanent parliament house should be on Camp Hill. The same thing can happen again. A joint meeting of the 2 Houses will decide nothing. In my view, the only way to go about this matter is to bring in a Bill and, in general, I cannot but be attracted to the suggestion by Senator Wright.
– I rise to make known my feelings on this matter. I intend to support the proposal for a joint meeting of the 2 Houses to decide on a site for the new and permanent parliament house. It is high time that a decision was made once and for all. I am a member of the Joint House Committee, and I am appalled at the continuing expenditure involved in adding to this building in which we work at the present time. In my opinion it is a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money continually to spend money on building dogboxes onto this place in order to try to improve the conditions not only for the members of Parliament who have a duty to perform here but also for the staff who have to work in this place not for the same period of time as we do but continually from one year’s end to another. I think it is high time that a little bit of common sense prevailed and we came to a decision instead of arguing the toss year in and year out as to whose authority should prevail- whether it should be the authority of the senate or the authority of the House of Representatives. It is high time that we got over these petty jealousies and came to a decision.
For those reasons I will support the proposal that there should be a joint meeting of both Houses because the members of both Houses are sent here by the same electors in the Commonwealtheverybody over the age of 18 years who is entitled to vote. Why should we bring these petty jealousies into this matter and say that we cannot associate with the members in the other place? We associate with them in the caucus meetings of the various parties; we associate with them in party committee meetings; and we associate with them in the dining room or in the bar. Yet when it comes to the question of making a decision on where we should deliberate on this proposal, we find that people get up and say: You cannot associate yourselves with them’. I will support the proposition for a joint meeting and, for the information of those who are present in the chamber, when it comes to a vote I will support the proposal to construct the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill where I think it ought to be situated.
– I hope that like Senator McManus I will be extremely brief. I would not want to sit here on what I believe to be one of the great occasions in the Australian Parliament and in the Senate and not let honourable senators know what I feel about this matter. I am very strongly of the view that Senator Wright, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Cavanagh are correct. The Senate has a responsibility to itself now and to those who will occupy this place later to make a decision in the Senate as part of the Australian Parliament. If the Senate accepts the arguments advanced by Senator Wright, Senator Cavanagh and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, it will do that without in any way diminishing itself in the Australian parliamentary scene, and with a full sense of responsibility to those who will come after us and to the Australian nationhood of which the Parliament is a part and the beginning. I believe that we have a proper responsibility to make a decision and to make it quite clear to the Parliament as a whole. In no way ought this to be construed as an act of petty jealousy on the part of any honourable senator. I do not think one can go away from that view. As I sit down, I testify that I am also a Capital Hill man from way back.
-I should like to repeat the statements expressed in the first sentence of Senator Cotton’s remarks. I believe that this is an historic occasion when we fill in another saga in the long history of the indecision, vacillation, cantankerousness, conservatism and inability of responsible people to make up their minds about a very important matter which concerns all of us and the future. There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that Capital Hill is the proper place for the construction of the new and permanent parliament house. I believe that as one travels around any city in Australia particularly Canberra, one sees that the houses on the top side of the street have a premium over those on the bottom side of the street, The roads that run into the circuit around Capital Hill are named after the Australian capital cities. If one looks from anywhere in Canberra, from Campbell to Black Mountain to Farrar, one can practially see the flag pole on top of Capital Hill, which is the dominating part of Canberra. It is the centre of Canberra. It is the apex of the triangle to which Senator Wright has referred. It has everything in its favour. Yet we have been arguing about this matter for half a century. It is ridiculous. It is a reflection on members of Parliament that it has taken so long to reach a decision on an issue such as the siting of the new and permanent parliament house.
The other methods which have been used to decide this question have not been successful. It is the Jack Sprat system. One House comes to one decision and the other House, either out of pique or something else, reaches the opposite decision. It is a matter of passing the buck backwards and forwards. I believe it is disgraceful that we cannot make a decision. We could decide here and now in the Senate, if we wanted to do so, whether we should have a joint sitting or whether the new and permanent parliament house should be constructed on one or other of the sites. But whatever we do, for goodness sake let us make up our minds one way or the other. The proposal for a joint sitting of members of both Houses to try to reach a concensus is an alternative that has not been tried previously. This practice is adopted in many other areas. Why cannot we try it? We have virtually a joint sitting in the Senate when Her Majesty or the Governor-General delivers an address to the Parliament. There are no jealousies about that.
I suppose that a lot of history is involved in this matter. We can have a joint meeting in the Senate. If every member of the Parliament has not made up his mind now about where the new and permanent parliament house should be sited, then he should not be in the Parliament. Members of this Parliament should be able to cast a vote for one site or the other. We have these alternative sites. Whatever happens, we should have the new and permanent parliament house on one site or the other. Do not let the matter go to the next saga where in another 15 or 20 years another set of grumpy old conservatives will want to defer a decision because of some technicality or some imagined constitutional difficulty. Let us be sensible people, make up our minds once and for all and get on with the job for which future generations in this country will praise us. The present Parliament House is a temporary building and it is tremendously expensive to maintain. Only this morning we discussed the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars on this place, and that is only to put sucking plaster over a running sore. My plea is: Let us make up our minds and forget all the petty jealousies and the other things that are raised against having a joint sitting. Let us create a precedent, even if it is not followed again in the future. Let us do it this time and come to a decision like reasonable and responsible people representing the electors who would expect us to make a decision. I support the proposition that has been put up by Senator Murphy as a lead to enable us to discuss the matter.
– I believe that I should enter into the debate because I think I can fairly claim to have been associated with town planning in Australia for longer than anybody else here. I had the great privilege and honour of bringing in the first town plan for the city of Mackay which initiated, I understand, town planning in Australia. I have continued to be associated with local government for a period of years, and I have also had the pleasure of taking part in the preparation of an amended town plan for the city of Mackay. This is a subject that requires a lot of thinking and imagination. When a plan is drawn for a place it is important to do the very best job in order to present the best qualities of a particular area.
There has been quite a bit of discussion about the Canberra town plan. Some years ago I was a member of a parliamentary committee which dealt with the Canberra town plan. My aim, like the aim of all senators and members, is to do the best for this city and, as a consequence, for the nation. So we have arrived at a situation today as to how we will reach a decision on where the new parliament house will be sited. I came into this chamber with the intention of supporting a joint meeting of the 2 Houses of Parliament. I had talked to various senators about the debate that had taken place and I had listened to some speeches before I came back to the chamber. As one who has always stood very strongly for the Senate as a chamber, I feel that I must change the opinion which I had and come down on the side of this chamber as a House expressing its view. I feel that the case for the joint sitting, as presented now, has some weaknesses. To me, it seemed a simple solution at first. Having heard some of the views which have been expressed, I feel that it is probably not as effective as it might be.
I was reminded by Senator Webster of an occasion in my Party when a decision was made by the 2 chambers as to where the parliament house should be sited. At that time the 2 Houses had a different view. I remember that the then Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, told parliamentarians of the joint parties that, as far as he was concerned, as they could not make up their minds, it was to be Camp Hill. I thought that that was a very autocratic attitude to adopt. Remembering that, it seems to me that if a decision is made jointly by parliamentarians, without the power of a parliamentary enactment, it cannot have any real force. That struck a point in my mind which indicated that there is a weakness in the case for a joint sitting, more particularly if it is held outside the parliamentary chambers. Senator Wright has on the notice paper a Bill relating to this issue at the moment I am not in favour of his Bill as it stands because it presents a point of view that the new parliament house should be on Camp Hill. I am in favour of Capital Hill. In view of what I have been reminded of by Senator Webster, the very fact of there being a Bill will give it more of an authority, something which must be conveyed, and will give it some parliamentary strength. If we have a legislative enactment, it gives the Senate a voice as the Senate. It also gives us the support and backing of legislative enactment. So, under those circumstances, I am compelled to come down on the side of the Senate making a separate decision.
I am quite convinced that Capital Hill is the correct choice for the site. Let me state my reasons. Firstly, the city of Canberra is a parliamentary city. Parliament will always be the dominant feature for its existence and its site. Therefore, as people come into this city, the building which should stand out clearly in their vision is the parliament house. As a result, it needs to be given some eminence. I believe that the way in which that can be done is by placing it on Capital Hill. Certain difficulties were suggested to me by the National Capital Development Commission. I refer to the parking of motor cars on the top of the hill. One eminent planner and architect said: ‘It is a very simple matter. All you do is have car parking space at the base and put in a tunnel. People walk in and ride to the top in an elevator’. The solution is very simple when one has the right type of people to advise. I feel that that position would give the new parliament house an eminence, and I believe that it would fulfil all that any town planner would desire- the eminence of parliament house would make Canberra appear to be a parliamentary city.
Let us consider the alternatives before us: A joint sitting and Senator Wright’s Bill which would be a parliamentary enactment. I am not in favour of Senator Wright’s Bill as it stands but I think his purpose in introducing it has more merit than I conceded a first. As a consequence, I feel that we should reject the joint meeting until his Bill can be discussed. We should plump for a legislative enactment. When his Bill is discussed those of us who are in favour of Capital Hill can move an amendment saying that we favour Capital Hill. Under those circumstances I have changed my mind on the issue. I now come down on the side of the Senate expressing its opinion as a House.
– I enthusiastically support the motion moved by Senator Murphy. Paragraph (a) states that the site for the new and permanent parliament house should be determined forthwith. 1 could not agree with that more. Senator Wood said that when he entered the chamber he had his mind made up, he listened to persuasions by other senators, he went outside, he consulted somebody else, he came back in and he changed his mind. This is an example of what has been going for many years. Let us have some action, not words. So I appeal to the chamber to support enthusiastically this motion, particularly paragraph (a) which provides that the site be determined forthwith. Paragraph (b) states that a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter. I support that paragraph, too. I could not care less whether the joint meeting is held in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. I know about the constitutional precedents and historical associations which have been referred to by honourable senators who have advanced those sentiments. They are entitled to their opinions. I am not disagreeing with them. I think that in the interests of progress and in the interests of getting a decision and getting on with a building which will enhance the reputation of the national parliament we should cast those matters aside. I suggest that we should support this joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. To overcome any difficulty as to whether it should be held in the Senate or the House of Representatives, we should clear the tables and chairs out of the Refreshment Rooms and the meeting should be assembled there. It could be presided over by the 2 Presiding Officers.
– If the tables and chairs are cleared out, it would be a standing committee.
– Make it a meeting place of the joint members of the national parliament- senators and members of the House of Representatives. The 2 Presiding Officers could preside over the meeting. The Minister for the Capital Territory or the Minister responsible for steering the Bill through the Houses could act as the secretary and put the proposition to the assembled members. He could put the proposition: All those in favour of Capital Hill or against, or whatever the alternative proposition is. Let us make a speedy decision and do away with this humbug about who has the traditional right to declare the venue for the meeting place.
Paragraph (c) states that planning for the new house should commence immediately. All of us agree with that. All of us agree that a speedy decision should be made. It appears to me that there is indecision only on the method of reaching a decision. I earnestly suggest to the Senate as a common sense proposition that we, as a body of parliamentarians of the national parliament, should meet in the Refreshment Rooms, presided over by both Presiding Officers. The secretary can put the proposition to the assembly. That work can be handled by the Minister for the Capital Territory.
– I recall that when this matter was discussed previously I was a member of the House of Representatives, and I voted for Capital Hill. I think that the numbers which voted in support of Capital Hill in that place and in the Senate seemed to indicate clearly that the vast majority was in favour of that site. I was very annoyed that the Gorton Government came out with the announcement that it intended to put parliament house on Camp Hill. That made me really cross. 1 have been disgusted with the procrastination on the whole business over the years. We are not arguing about the urgency of the matter; we all appreciate that we have to get on with the job. I have listened to the debate this afternon and I have been impressed by what Senator Cavanagh has said.
I am very attracted to the action of Senator Wright in putting down a Bill to the effect that we ought to prescribe the precincts of the grounds of Parliament House and tidy up this matter in a correct procedural manner. I am persuaded that the correct thing to do is to get a Bill into this chamber as a matter of urgency, and then we can agree with other suggestions that have been made. I agree that we must start the planning of the parliament house straight away and get on with the job. I come down on the side of Senator Wright’s proposition, although I shall have to be persuaded to change my opinion that Capital Hill is the best site.
– The debate has been an interesting exercise, with various points of view and various degrees of emphasis upon the role of the Senate. I appreciated the logic of Senator Cavanagh ‘s speech and I have been almost persuaded by several other speakers. But I sense that the opinion of the Senate is clear. The Senate, by an overwhelming consensus of opinion, desires that we proceed with the erection of a new parliament house at the earliest possible time and that nothing that we may do here should delay that procedure.
Great and proper concern has been expressed, I think, for the Senate as a part of the Commonwealth parliamentary structure. I agree with Senator Cavanagh that we should not, by inadvertence or eagerness, in any way denigrate the status, significance and role of the Senate. However, I think that the impasse at which we seem to have arrived between these conflicting views can be resolved fairly simply, We are discussing a motion put forward by Senator Murphy regarding an approach made to the Senate from the House of Representatives. If I recall the matter correctly, that approach originated from a private member’s motion in the House of Representatives. I move the following amendment to Senator Murphy’s motion to meet the situation as it appears, to have developed:
That all words after ‘That the Senate’ be deleated and the following words be inserted- while not agreeing to the request of the House of Representatives for a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, expresses the opinion that planning for the New House should commence immediately and that the site be upon Capital Hill. ‘
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
-I shall be brief. A great deal of discussion about where the parliament house should be sited has ensued. Even though we must agree that this is an issue which has gone on for many many years and which is an extremely important issue, it is not the issue under discussion at present. The issue is whether we shall have a joint meeting with the members of the House of” Representatives to decide where the new parliament house should be sited. A similar suggestion was made some years ago. On that occasion I opposed the proposal for a joint meeting and I gave the reasons why I opposed it. Senator Cavanagh spoke very clearly and explicitly on this issue this afternoon, and I support his remarks. Frankly, the only thing that a general meeting can do is to give an indication of thinking; that is as far as it can go. There can be nothing binding as a result of that meeting- only an expression of opinion.
Senator Wright’s Bill is such that, being enacted according to the forms of the Parliament, we would then have a specific piece of legislation in which we could lay down prescribed areas for the grounds of parliament house and make a decision on a site of the house. This then, if agreed to by both Houses, would be regarded as an Act of Parliament and would be binding. More important than this perhaps is the fact, as some honourable senators have said in this discussion, that there has been a hedging on the subject and it has gone on for so long. But, when we have legislation before us, members of this chamber must make up their own minds as to the side of the chamber on which they will stand. They must make a firm decision or abstain from voting. An identical procedure would apply in the House of Representatives. So we have the question whether to have a specific Act of Parliament which would be binding and which would prescribe the area of the parliamentary grounds and the site of the proposed parliament house. More important than this is the fact that all parliamentarians would have to make up their minds; so there would be more than a clear indication of where the new house would be. The site would be decreed by legislation. I oppose Senator Murphy’s motion and I support Senator Wright’s Bill, even though I may not agree with the text of the Bill in relation to the site, when we come to discuss it.
– The Senate is indebted to Senator Wright for placing this important matter of a new and permanent parliament house before us in a way that invites us to give renewed contemplation to the whole matter. It is a challenge to our thinking and invites us to re-examine our views as to the procedure and other matters relating to a decision on the matter. We have listened to the motion which Senator Murphy has put before us and we have listened with considerable interest to the argument which Senator Cavanagh has put forward. I am indebted to him for drawing my attention to the previous debate on a new and permanent parliament house which took place on 29 May 1 969.
Senator Murphy put a long resolution to the Senate on that occasion. The first three or four phrases spelled out some considerations and recommendations. But the basis of it, as I pick it up from the debate on that day, was that the resolution included the words:
RECOMMENDS FURTHER . . .
1 ) that the proposed joint meeting -
To which earlier reference has been made- be held on a day and time to be fixed by Mr President and Mr Speaker and that the joint meeting consist of senators and members of the House of Representatives;
Then followed a fairly long debate lasting for some considerable time and taking up quite a few pages in Hansard. Then just prior to 1 o’clock the President of the day, Senator Sir Alister McMullin, put the question, the Senate divided, and 25 senators voted in favour of the motion and 27 voted against. There was a majority of 2 votes on that occasion opposing a joint sitting. I know it has been pointed out that the composition of the Senate is now different and will be different on other occasions. It is interesting to record as we reopen this important subject of debate that this was the decision of the Senate at that time. I have dealt with the matter fairly simply and quickly and it may be that I have missed some points, but I leave it at that.
I have only one or two other observations to make. I come down in favour of a legislative measure such as that proposed by Senator Wright because it deals with this matter in what I call a parliamentary manner. It may be argued that a joint sitting held somewhere in the buildingI hope not in the refreshments rooms- may just as well be a parliamentary matter. I still prefer that an issue of this nature be decided in the forms of which the Senate already enjoys provision, and that is in a legislative measure in the form of a Bill. A Bill will enable us to debate the matter. A Bill will enable us to make amendments to the issue. A Bill debated in this chamber has procedures which are already laid down and already agreed to. There are Standing Orders which exist and work. There can be no doubt at all about those matters.
However, in the event of a joint meeting regulations will have to be prepared and there will always be issues on which there is debate and division of opinion. So, I support a decision by legislative measure, such as by the introduction of a Bill and I look forward if such a decision is carried to its being part of an amendment to Senator Wright’s proposed legislation which will provide for the Capital Hill site.
– I wish briefly to indicate my attitude to the suggestion that there be convened a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives to determine the matter of location of a new and permanent parliament house. On principle I am opposed to departing from normal parliamentary procedures in the determination of a matter such as this. I believe that it is through legislative enactment that matters such as this can best and most properly be determined. The House of Representatives has the number to express its desire for a certain location. If we have a vote we have the numbers for a certain site. Whilst not being very good at arithmetic, it is quite easy to tot up the numbers to see just where the majority of favour would lie for a given location.
I was very impressed with Senator Cavanagh ‘s speech this afternoon. I believe that there is no necessity to depart from normal procedures, that there should not be any inundation by members from another place either for this matter or for any other matter at all to enter into a situation which is not constitutionally provided for, as Senator Murphy said in his opening speech on this matter. The meeting is solely a get together for a talk. I believe it is only through firm and normal parliamentary action, as suggested by Senator Wright in his motion, that this matter should be finalised and determined. I will not say, nor should I say, at this stage where the location of the new parliament house should be. Are we prepared, as a Senate, to agree to the proposal for a joint meeting? In general principle and background of respect for the system as we know it between the 2 Houses I am opposed to the suggestion of a joint meeting.
– As seconder of the amendment moved by Senator Prowse I call Senator Drake-Brockman.
– As an original member of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, I, like many other senators, have seen this matter go on and on and never reach a stage of finality. Today Senator Murphy has moved a motion. During the course of his speech to the motion that we should have a joint meeting, I asked him by way of interjections that if a decision was reachedthere must be a decision reached at the meetingwhat would then be the situation. The Leader of the Government indicated that if the decision was the way he believed it would be, it would be an indication to his Government to go ahead with a joint parliamentary meeting.
A decision has been reached in another place for a particular site and that site happens to correspond with the wishes which the Senate has expressed on many occasions in the past. I am not one of those who favours, as Senator McAuliffe says, a meeting down in the refreshment rooms of this Parliament.
– Kings Hall.
-I am not in favour of that, Senator McAuliffe.
– That would not be such a loss of dignity. It is better than our offices. If it means we will get a new building I will meet in the street.
– Well, senator, you can meet anywhere you like, but I will not meet with you. I want to meet in this chamber. I am a member of this chamber and I want to see this chamber make the decision. If we make a decision along the lines that we made the previous time when we formed a very strong view on a particular site, with the 2 houses indicating that they want a particular site, it must be an indication to the Government and to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of this country to do something about it. Why wait and have a joint meeting? If we cannot go along with the amendment of Senator Prowse I will fall back on Senator Wright’s proposed legislation although I do not agree with the particular site he has indicated. I would have to move amendments. Why should we have to go through all this rigmarole when the Senate today can give an indication of the site that it wants.
– We did that before, senator, without any effect.
– Yes, it was done before.
– Why are you opposed to a joint meeting? I am very serious.
-For the very reasons which the honourable senator gave. He wants to kick aside a few chairs in the refreshment rooms of this Parliament House and hold a meeting. There are certain constitutional factors to be taken into consideration. If there is to be a joint meeting between the 2 Houses we will have to think along those lines. Some honourable senators say that that does not matter.
– Not in this instance.
– Is this or is this not a Parliament? That is my thinking on this matter. I am only expressing my view. Because of the views I have expressed, I will be supporting Senator Prowse ‘s amendment.
-Mr President -
– Order! Are you speaking to Senator Prowse ‘s amendment or the original motion?
– I wish to speak in favour of Senator Murphy’s motion, Mr President. The members of another place have seen fit to resolve that they should confer with us at a joint meeting on this matter of the site of a new and permanent parliament house. Members of both Houses of this Parliament have argued about this matter for years. It will never be new, it will never be permanent, it will never be at all the way things are going. We have received a positive indication from people in another place that they want to meet with us and what has happened? The issue of where we should meet has become highly critical. I believe that the Parliament of the State of Victoria was generous enough to remove itself to the Exhibition Building in Melbourne so that this institution could use it facilities. Why has so much emphasis been placed upon the importance of where we meet when this institution has not always met in this building? I think what the institution does and the brains it has are a lot more important than the furniture in the building or the venue of a meeting.
If there are insufficient public galleries in either of the Houses of this Parliament to accommodate another 60 members, I do not know where we can hold such a meeting. It has been suggested that we could even meet in the parliamentary dining room. We probably would be more comfortable meeting in it than we are at present in the slum conditions under which we work in this building. Although a new wing has been added to this building some members of Parliament still have to share a room. If both of the people who share a room receive deputations at the same time one has to sit outside in the corridors because the office is not commodious enough. In the under-privileged nations to which we make great subscriptions to help them build their parliament houses and so on an ordinary member has a suite of offices. I am ashamed to have to take visiting dignitaries from abroad into my parliamentary office. I had more dignity in the Parliament of the State of Victoria than I have in the Commonwealth Parliament.
I wish to make a positive suggestion about this matter. It is a fact that there has been a barrier against progress being made with this proposal. Although attempts have been made to start something they have been without success. The other place has now put forward the suggestion that we should all get together and talk the thing over. What are we going to do? We are going to be like a lot of old fuddy-duddies and say that there is no proper place in which to meet, that it would be beneath our dignity to meet in such a fashion and that the other place might take advantage of us because of its superior numbers. We will not achieve anything by sitting around waiting for a new parliament house to drop as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. We will achieve something only when there is sufficient brains, initiative and courage in this institution to let the people outside know precisely what circumstances prevail. I am sure the people would support us if we were to do so. They want a parliament house that is worthy of the nation.
Proper facilities should be provided not only to members of Parliament but also to staff. As a former trade union official I would have promoted a strike if members of my organisation were asked to work in a boot factory under the same conditions as people are working in Parliament House in Canberra. We who are responsiblethe members of Parliament- are doing nothing about improving the conditions. All we are doing is arguing about where we should meet and whether we should talk to other people who have the same responsibilities as we have. I am all for the proposition that if somebody wants to meet us in a joint meeting and talk about this matter we should do so. When we do get together and talk I will put forward my views as to where the new and permanent parliament house ought to be and how quickly it ought to be started. I agree with everything contained in Senator Murphy’s motion. I certainly agree with paragraph (c). I believe that planning of the new parliament house should commence immediately.
-I think it is important that this matter be resolved and resolved quickly. On the last occasion on which I spoke on this matter I put a proposal to the Senate and Senator Murphy put a proposal to the Senate. Ultimately the 2 propositions emerged as a single proposition. Obviously one of the difficulties which is presenting itself to honourable senators is the fact that if a joint sitting of both Houses were held in some way the Senate may submerge its dignity lose its independence and, in the vote that is subsequently taken, be overwhelmed by the House of Representatives. I think that is a very artificial reason for resisting the proposition put forward by Senator Murphy. This is a matter of concern not just to one House of the Parliament but to both Houses of the Parliament. Surely the 2 Houses could meet on this occasion. I know that constitutionally there is only one situation in which a joint sitting of both Houses is provided for. But this would not be a joint sitting in the constitutional sense. It would be merely the 2 Houses meeting together for a common purpose to determine a matter of great national importance.
To those honourable senators who feel that in some way the dignity of the Senate is going to be trespassed upon or that in some way its opportunities are going to be submerged I foreshadow an amendment that I propose to move to Senator Murphy’s motion. I will move it formally when the opportunity arises. It relates to paragraph (b) of Senator Murphy’s motion, which states that a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter. As I have said, I see no objection to that happening, but there are some honourable senators who have some objection to the motion in that form. Therefore I will propose that the following words be substituted for the words contained in paragraph (b) of Senator Murphy’s motion:
A meeting of all federal parliamentarians be convened in Parliament House to determine the matter.
In other words we would not meet as 2 Houses meeting together; we would meet in what might be called a collegium of elected representatives in the Federal Parliament, as an electoral college, to determine this matter once and for all. That, I feel, should reassure the honourable senators who, to my mind, have an oversensitive regard for the position of the Senate on this occasion. I suppose there would be nobody who, on other occasions, has protected the rights and dignities of the Senate more than I have or who has defended them more enthusiastically than I have. But to try and propound that proposition in this circumstance is I think completely artificial and totally indefensible. I feel that if my form of words were adopted and the elected members of the national Parliament were to meet, as it were, in one great plebescite, in a collegium, in an assembly of elected persons to determine this matter and the identity of the 2 Houses was submerged in the totality it would overcome even the most sensitive resistence of those who feel very strongly about this matter. I will not pursue the matter any further at this stage beyond saying that I agree that all members of Parliament should get together on this issue. I have no objection to the 2 Houses meeting in the terms of Senator Murphy’s proposal. For the benefit of those honourable senators objecting to an assembly in those terms and in that form I will propound my alternative proposition. Apart from that I agree with paragraphs (A) and (c) of Senator Murphy’s motion. I do hope that this matter will be quickly, effectively and satisfactorily resolved.
– Are you addressing yourself to the amendment, Senator Wood?
– Yes, Mr President. I think the amendment moved by Senator Prowse will really bring about some action in a very quick manner. Reference has been made to the delay in arriving at a decision on the site of the new and permanent parliament house. The House of Representatives has made a decision as a single House. What is wrong with Senator Prowse ‘s amendment, which would mean that we would express right now that we are in favour of, as his motion puts it, the Capital Hill site?
– We did that before and it was disagreed with by the then Government
- Senator Wright has proposed that an Act of Parliament should be passed in relation to his matter. There is no reason why immediately that Senator Prowse ‘s amendment is carried we cannot enact the amendment in a piece of legislation. If this were done it would be on the stocks and on the business of the Senate. Arguments have been put forward about whether a decision on this matter should be delayed. I think that the amendment put forward by Senator Prowse concerning the siting of the new parliament house is the quickest way by which a decision will be reached so far as we in this chamber are concerned. There is no reason why, immediately Senator Prowse ‘s amendment is put through, Senator Wright’s Bill cannot be amended and the site specified as Capital Hill instead of Camp Hill. I am prepared to support the amendment put forward by Senator Prowse because I think it is the quickest way of getting a decision. As I have said, immediately the amendment is passed we could then introduce a parliamentary enactment such as Senator Wright proposes.
It has been suggested that I have been galloping inside and outside this chamber. This is a very important matter which is not being considered on party lines. We are sitting here as individuals. The purpose of this debate is to convince individual senators which site should be selected. If anybody can bring forth a good argument I hope that my mind will never be shut to it.
– I move:
– What was that?
- Senator Cavanagh has moved the closure of the debate.
– Excuse me. Another meeting is taking place.
– The question has been put. I must put the question without debate.
– It is a terrible thing to stop a debate like this.
– Order! There can be no debate.
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– One must not reflect on a vote of this House, but one can comment on it. If ever there was proof that this place should not have voted on the principal motion before it, it would be found in the result of the last division which was 20 to 25 against the Government One of the reasons why I want the debate to continue is that 1 realise that under the absurd sitting hours we are now forced to follow, as a result of which the question that the Senate adjourn is put at 7 p.m. a thin Senate would be present to make a decision of lasting importance to this country, a decision the effect of which will not be seen, I suggest, by very many, if any, honourable senators now in this chamber. We were going to rush a decision on this matter through on the death knock when 45 out of the 60 senators in this place were present. I do not believe that such a practice is in accordance with the traditions of Parliament and the traditions of this House.
The situation is that all of a sudden, after months of inaction, we have brought before us a motion for a joint meeting of the 2 Houses to vote on this very subject matter. I believe we should forget about meeting with the other place and the question of the siting a new parliament house should be very thoroughly examined. I come down on the side of those who oppose a meeting of the 2 Houses to discuss this matter. I believe that such a course of action would be wrong and that we would be held up to ridicule if we adopted it. I believe that if a joint meeting were to be held there would be an endless debate and where it would be held I do not know. The fact is that the Senate has been placed in a position to discuss the matter. An amendment to Senator Murphy’s motion has been moved by Senator Prowse. Without reflecting on anyone I wonder how, on close examination, that amendment can be acceptable because it is my belief that it is an absolute negation of the original motion. I have always thought that an amendment should not be a negation of a motion.
The motion is that there should be a joint meeting of the 2 Houses, and the amendment moved by Senator Prowse proposes that the new parliament house be built on Capital Hill. Whether or not the amendment has been properly brought in- it was moved by Senator Prowse only 10 minutes or so ago- we now find that Senator Byrne, a man of great erudition who has taken a terrific interest in this question, has foreshadowed another amendment. One speaker was allowed to rise and briefly refer to the amendment before the gag was applied. I believe that we all should study what has been said in this place today. When we have had time to consider this matter we should resume the debate and make a decision.
– Order! Before I put the adjournment question I remind honourable senators as they have been reminded earlier by Senator Cavanagh of the 2 meetings of the Senate Estimates Committees which are listed on the business paper of the Senate.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 7 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
As to (3), (4), (5) and (6) I am informed by the Commonwealth Police that the answer to (3) is yes; to (4) is yes; to ( 5 ) is no and to (6) is yes. I am unable to say from what source Mrs Coxedge received the document.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Any information the Government may have about the terms of any agreement proposed between Sun City Pty Ltd and the Tokyu Corporation of Japan relating to the Yanchep development would come to it in confidence. In these circumstances, unfortunately no details can be provided.
In a recent press statement I said explicitly that the West Australian Government intended to acquire all the land held by Sun City Pty Ltd, not yet sub-divided. I also said that Mr Bond had been told of the Australian Government’s intention to give financial assistance to the West Australian Government to help purchase the lands. I emphasised that the Australian Government would encourage the West Australian Government to continue with its acquisition plans. I understand that the West Australian Government has informed Mr Bond that it valued the land at a price much lower than the estimate set on it by Mr Bond and I believe that the view taken by the West Australian Government with regard to the value of the land was a reasonable one.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Executions in Yugoslavia (Question No. 237)
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Police: Reported Raids on Croatian Homes (Question No. 151)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– I am informed that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
For what reason does the Government refuse to table the telex message from the Director-General of Security to Australian Security Intelligence Organization staff dated 28 March 1973 and referred to by the Director-General of Security in his letter to the Attorney-General dated 20 August 1 973.
– The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
The Prime Minister has declined to table the document. The telex message was an internal communication of the ASIO.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
– On 13 March, Senator Bonner asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the following question without notice:
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate in relation to the capital fund for Aborigines of the number and total value of loans approved in each State and the Northern Territory for each year of operation of the capital fund and the number and total value of defaults and losses in each year in respect of each State and the Northern Territory.
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The records of Capital Fund operations are not maintained on a state-by-state classification, and officers of my Department have had to examine every application to identify the State concerned. I am sure the Honourable **Senator will** realise the difficulty of doing this with over 300 cases when my Depanment is still suffering considerable staff shortages. The full answer to the Honourable Senator's question can be found in the attached tables.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731108_senate_28_s58/>.