28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt, left Australia on 8 November to lead the Australian delegation to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Conference in Rome. He is expected to return to Australia on Sunday, 25 November. During his absence, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, is acting Minister for Primary Industry, and will represent those Ministers usually represented by Senator Wriedt. I also inform the Senate that the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, who is sick, is expected to be absent for a further 2 weeks. We all wish him a speedy and complete recovery. The PostmasterGeneral, Mr Lionel Bowen, will act as Minister for Education until Mr Beazley returns.
– I present the following petition from 48 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Australian citizens place great value on their freedom to choose their own doctor in all aspects of medical care.
That we believe in a doctor’s freedom to provide a personal service based on personal responsibility within a system based on quality rather than quantity, as opposed to an impersonal service in which doctor and patient lose their identity.
3 ) That proposals to change the existing health scheme are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 16 citizens of Tasmania:
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian health insurance program and any national health scheme.
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a general practitioner, specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
(Notice of Motion)
– I give notice that contingent on messages being received from the House of Representatives transmitting the Constitutional Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill 1973, the Constitutional Alteration (Democratic Elections) Bill 1973 and the Constitutional Alteration (Local Government Bodies) Bill 1973 for concurrence, I shall move:
That standing order 242 be suspended to enable the third reading of the Bills to be passed without a call of the Senate.
– 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 amend section 131 A of the Customs Act 1901-1971.
-My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the announcement by the Treasurer that he intends to introduce special legislation to provide additional funds until the Appropriation Bills are passed. As the Opposition has not impeded the passage of the Appropriation Bills for the simple reason that they have not yet been introduced into this chamber, is not the need for this special legislation yet another example of this Government’s administrative inefficiency?
-No, it is not an example of administrative inefficiency at all. The course that has been taken, as I understand it, is the course which was taken in 1971 by the then Government when Mr Snedden, who was then the Treasurer, introduced a Bill in similar circumstances. I think this action was taken earlier in November than is proposed by the present Government and was for a larger amount than is proposed by the present Government. This action is necessary in order to meet the situation which has arisen because the main Appropriation Bills have not been dealt with. I think the Senate Estimates Committees are not expected to report to the Senate on their examinations until 1 5 November. There could be further discussion in the Senate on the reports of the Senate Estimates Committees. We could run on until the end of November before the Bills are dealt with. I hope we can deal with them earlier than that. The Government will simply bring in a machinery measure to deal with a problem that has arisen before and apparently this is the way in which it is dealt with. Surely the Opposition will not attempt to make a lot of fuss about this simple machinery measure; surely it will not talk about the Government being broke and all of this sort of nonsense. The Opposition knows that this is simply a machinery measure to deal with a problem which its own Government faced when it was in office except, as I have said, the amount then was considerably greater.
I seem to recall that when the measure was introduced by Mr Snedden it went through the House of Representatives in about 12 minutes. The legislation came in here and, as Leader of the Opposition, I took the sensible view that this was a machinery measure to deal with exactly the kind of situation that we have now. I think it went through the Senate in about 4 minutes. It is typical of the Opposition that when it is faced with a machinery matter it is likely to put on some kind of turn and try to misrepresent what has happened as if something dreadful has occurred instead of the ordinary working of government.
– Welcoming the Leader of the Government’s flush of information, I ask him: Will he state why the former Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Michael Young, a man whose main claim to fame is that he is the Mr Fixer of the Labor Party, has been put on the Government payroll at a reported salary of $ 1 7,000? How many other functionaries of the Labor Party may the highly taxed people of this country expect to receive similar endowment from the public purse?
-As is well known, Mr Young is a man of considerable administrative and other abilities. The chagrin of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition no doubt is related to the fact that Mr Young was one of the persons who were instrumental in getting rid of the previous Government and helping to persuade the people of Australia to elect this Government. As to how much he is being paid and the other terms and conditions of his appointment, if it has been made, I know no more than I have read in the Press and I do not know whether what I have read there is accurate. I do not know how much it is proposed to pay Mr Young or the other terms of his appointment; but, if the honourable senator would like me to go through the history of members of political parties being appointed to the staffs of Ministers or Leaders of the Opposition, I would be only too glad to do so. However, I think that many of his colleagues might resent his suggesting that this matter be further inquired into.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it a fact that the Government is considering plans to spend $24m on a new Australian embassy complex in Tokyo, including especially $ 14m on an extra 4.5 acres of land? If so, will the Minister tell the Senate why such a costly project is necessary? Would this amount of money not meet a considerable portion of the cost of a new and permanent parliament house?
-The Government does not intend to spend $2 4m on the Tokyo property. I think the honourable senator mentioned that we were thinking of buying 4.5 acres of ground. We already own 4.5 acres of ground and it is a tremendously valuable piece of property. How we came to get it in the first place I do not know. It is a wonderful situation to have- 4.5 acres of ground almost in the heart of Tokyo- and it would never be possible to get it again. Some moneys are being spent on redeveloping the whole complex, including houses and all the rest of it; but we are not intending to buy any land. We were negotiating to buy about an eighth of an acre, I think; but the last time I inquired, when I was there a few weeks ago, the negotiations had fallen through and we do not look like getting it. We already own the 4.5 acres. Some buildings are to be refurbished or taken down and rebuilt. The figure, though, is nowhere near $24m
– I ask the Minister for the Media: In view of the importance of the Government’s policies in relation to Asia, does Radio Australia have an officer based in Canberra?
-Radio Australia administratively is responsible to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Upon making inquiries of the Commission about this matter recently, I was advised that there was no officer of Radio Australia directly employed by the ABC in Canberra. Because of the unique nature of the responsibilities of Radio Australia in gathering material to be presented in its various public affairs programs abroad, I suggested to the ABC that it should appoint a program officer for Radio Australia in Canberra. I understand that a recommendation of that nature is now in the course of being presented to me, and I hope to be able to give my approval to it in the near future.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: In view of the fact that Australian shipyards are so short of work, why was approval given for the Australian National Line to have 2 bulk carriers built overseas?
– I do not know the answer. I suggest that the honourable senator put his question on notice and I will get the answer as to whether permission was necessary. I understand that this is a commercial undertaking and obviously the shipyard could supply the ship at cost and within the time.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Transport to the recent report in the ‘Australian’ that the Victorian Car Consumers Association has proposed that there be a register of all vehicles involved in accidents where substantial damage has resulted. Has the Government had time to evaluate this proposal? If it has, would the adoption of such a register be likely to result in higher manufacturing standards and more stringent safety controls throughout the car industry?
-Yes, the Government has seen the report. Safety is one of the matters to which it is giving continuous consideration. The Government is concerned to see that all cars are manufactured to the highest safety standard. It would support a register of cars involved in accidents so that we would know the history of the cars. But it is thought that periodic compulsory inspection of vehicles is possibly more effective. Damage to a car can be rectified after an accident but the car can deteriorate and become a danger on the road. The new National Authority on Road Safety and Standards is carrying out research on all aspects of road safety and accidents at the present time. It is collecting and disseminating information on road safety and engaging in research and obtaining statistical information on this question.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the continual reports of the violation of the cease fire agreement and the build up of troops and supplies, including new and modern weapons, and the construction of air fields by North Vietnam in South Vietnam. As the Government has now established diplomatic relations with North Vietnam, has it taken any action to protest to North Vietnam over these violations and made it clear that any new offensive will invite strong Australian reaction? Will the Government leave no doubt in the mind of the Government of North Vietnam that further breaches of the cease fire agreement will affect relations between North Vietnam and Australia, including further economic aid?
– Australia has never used the withholding of aid as a threat to any country. This Government does not intend to start doing that. I have said several times here that we would generously support the post-war reconstruction of the 4 Indo-Chinese states and that we would do it without regard to the ideological complexion of the governments. The honourable senator asks whether, if the continuing build-up or the activities which he suggests are carried would this invite a strong Australian reaction. I do not know what he means by that. Does he mean that he would want us to send troops back into Vietnam or would he want us to make some statements? The situation in Vietnam is that there are continuing accusations and counter accusations by both sides. The Australian Government, together with many other governments, believes that we can add nothing to what we hope will be a permanent peace settlement in Indo-China by interfering at this stage. The Vietnamese have signed certain agreements. They are being left alone to work out those agreements.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. In view of the extreme cruelty which was associated with the transhipment of a consignment of donkeys from Western Australia to
Victoria will the Minister confer with the Australian Road Hauliers Association and the various State railway commissioners to consider placing a ban on the transport of such stock when it is obvious that severe travel hardship will cause a high mortality rate?
-I think that the question is related to the donkeys which went from Derby in Western Australia to Alice Springs. A number of them were in such poor condition when they were landed at Alice Springs, as a result of the journey, that they died. The Commonwealth Railways accepts livestock for carriage only after a report has been furnished by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It will not accept some animals. The transportation of livestock by road hauliers comes under legislation controlled by the State Ministers for Transport. This question has been taken up with the Western Australian Minister for Transport to see whether something can be done. The track by which the animals were taken to Alice Springs was across a desert. It is thought that the journey put them in such poor condition that they could not be freighted further south until their condition improved. The Minister for Transport has cognisance of such matters at all times. The Commonwealth Railways will accept livestock for carriage only after a report has been furnished by the RSPCA.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that for 1 974 the National Health and Medical Research Council has not renewed an annual grant of $13,000 to enable a medical research team to proceed with investigations of Huntington’s chorea and that the leader, Dr Colin Brakenridge, has announced the impossibility of proceeding with his team? As this mental disease is hereditary and usually does not reveal itself until middle age it creates great personal tragedies in the lives of people who live in doubt but who may never be affected. Will the Minister give consideration to a direct government grant of a paltry $13,000 as it is more likely to ensure national sanity than the expenditure of $ 1.25m on the painting, ‘Blue Poles’?
– I am not aware of the details to which Senator Little referred in his question. All that I can do is undertake to refer the seeking of the additional grant to my colleague the Minister for Health. The purchase of ‘Blue Poles’ is, of course, not within his jurisdiction.
– Will I place my question on notice?
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In view of his Federal responsibilities in the field of law and order, I ask the following question: Is it a fact that pistol licences have been issued to the following people associated with major illegal gambling clubs in Sydney: Mr Eric Farrell, Mr Perc. Galea and Mr Don. Lee, operators of the Forbes Club; a Mr John Williams, an employee of the 33 Club; and a Mr George Walker an employee of the Goulburn Club? Is it a fact that the issue of pistol licences is regarded by law enforcement authorities as a matter of great importance and that often even the most reputable businessmen, who have strong reasons for carrying a pistol, have been refused licences? If so, can the AttorneyGeneral make inquiries, through his New South Wales counterpart as to why operators and employees of illegal gambling clubs are issued pistol licences? Can the Attorney-General find out whether these pistol licences were issued before Sir Robert Askin relinquished his position as Minister in charge of the New South Wales police force? If so, is there any basis for suggestions that special representations have been made to assist these men to obtain pistol licences?
– I think that this matter is really one for the New South Wales authorities. It certainly appears that the issuance of licences, assuming that they have been issued, would be one for the New South Wales authorities. I will make inquires to see whether I can ascertain the position.
– Order! Senator Willesee asks the indulgence of the Senate to add to his answer to Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s question.
-Thank you, Mr President. I wanted a chance to correct some misinformation which I gave to Senator DrakeBrockman towards the end of my reply. I said that the amounts were not near $24m. I remember signing a document some months ago which to my mind related to about $1 lm. I have had this matter checked. What happened was that there were 2 stages to be developed costing about $10m or $1 lm each. The Department of Works or the Department of Services and Property, whichever is controlling this matter, decided to make it one stage. Therefore the latter part of my remarks was wrong and the cost does approximate $24m.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of Press reports that 3 Aborigines are protesting at the bombing of Quail Island, which they claim is sacred? Will he inform the Senate what steps he intends to take to assist the Aborigines to preserve the right of their Aboriginal tribe which is making a claim regarding the sacredness of this island?
– This island has been used as a bombing target for some IS years. Agreement was reached between the then Department of the Interior and the Department of Air for this bombing to take place. A protest was raised this year by Aborigines who wanted the island. Senator Bishop, as Acting Minister for Defence, wrote and suggested that if another target area could be found there was no desire to use this particular island. No one has come up with a solution to this problem. It is not an easy matter. There could be a number of unexploded bombs on the island which would create a danger to anyone visiting it at the present time. It is very unsafe for anyone to venture on to it. A group of Aborigines have gone there to squat and to see that no bombing takes place. I assure the honourable senator that no bombing will take place while they are there but their lives are in danger. My Department and the Department of the Northern Territory is trying to resolve this matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. I point out to the Minister that many of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s documentary programs are shown during evening transmissions when they will not attract school age viewers. Would it be possible to make suitable documentary programs available for showing in school?
-The Australian Broadcasting Commission at present is proceeding with a project concerning the possibility of the use of documentary programs for school purposes. It has 3 pilot programs. If I remember correctly one relates to the assimilation or integration of migrants within the Australian community. These programs already are in the Commission’s schedules in some States. However the ABC management has informed me that it is not simply a question of reshowing evening documentaries during school hours. Educational authorities have pointed out that programs of 35 minutes and longer are not suitable for school timetables. Thus it is proving necessary for the Commission to edit some of the documentary programs that it produces for normal viewing in order to make them suitable for school purposes. The Commission is looking closely at this matter and it hopes to be able to complete sufficient programs of a documentary nature for one full term of transmissions during 1974.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the unwarranted condemnatory attitude of the Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, in regard to the sugar industry, as revealed in his support of views that the advertising of sugar be banned. Is it not a fact that a situation of utter absurdity could be reached, in respect of restrictions on advertising, were credence to be given to the whims of individuals as they concern foodstuffs and beverages generally? To dispel mounting concern in many areas of industry, can the AttorneyGeneral, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, give an assurance that no commodity which is freely salable according to law will be denied freedom of advertising?
– In dealing with the opening part of the question I should say that Dr Everingham is well known for the work he has done for the stability of the sugar industy. Prior to the 1969 election and as recently as the last 2 weeks, he has made representations to all Ministers concerned for completion of the Bundaberg irrigation scheme. However, he takes the view that his responsibility as Minister for Health is to speak primarily on the health aspects, particularly from the point of view of the consumer or the ordinary citizen. Therefore, he has asked for statistical research on the effects of refined foods to find out why sugar cane and unrefined grains are harmless and nutritious foods but refined foods are suspect. He has suggested to the sugar industry that it help to set up such research. He is also investigating ways to study long range effects of food refining at the Sydney University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine which is administered by his Department. That is Dr Everingham ‘s view of the matter. I have some notes which indicate that. Dr Everingham is the Minister for Health. He is entitled to speak out on the questions which concern him, especially when he is proposing that research be conducted.
As to the question of advertising, I suppose that that, along with other matters, is something for the Government and this Parliament to determine. I do not know of any proposal which would be directed by the Government towards the banning of advertising. I do know that some commodities in this community are restricted. In fact, it is curious that one commodity which is supposed to promote health- that is, polyunsaturated margarine- is restricted in its availability to the Australian people.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that Mr Chaney, when defeated at the 1969 election, was appointed by the previous Government as Administrator of the Northern Territory? Is it a fact that Mr Bill Arthur, who was defeated at the 1969 election, was immediately appointed to the then Prime Minister’s staff? Is it a fact that Mr Gordon Freeth, a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, was appointed by the previous Government as Ambassador to Japan following his defeat in the 1 969 election?
– I believe that those are the facts and I believe that there are many more instances. I suppose that the honourable senator’s question arises out of an earlier question asked by the Opposition about Mr Young. That illustrates that in this instance the complaint by the Opposition is about the appointment of a successful man to a post, whereas the Opposition’s history was generally one of appointing persons who had been defeated in elections.
-My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Government proposing to implement a scheme for the full acquisition of the Australian wool clip at the earliest opportunity? Is it the intention of the Minister for Primary Industry, on his present trip overseas, to discuss with wool buyers and manufacturers ways and means of selling wool under this system?
– It was one of the considerations of the Government. I do not know whether any finality has been reached. If it is a question of Government policy I do not know whether it would be proper for me to answer. The Minister for Primary Industry, while overseas, will be discussing a variety of matters. I do not think this matter is one of the main purposes of his visit. However, it may come up for consideration. I do not think I can help the honourable senator in this matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the concern expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Greenwood, in relation to the appointment of Mr Young to the staff of the Prime Minister, can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the Attorney-General in the McMahon Government, Senator Greenwood, employed on his personal staff a gentleman who is a State executive member and office-bearer of the Young Liberals organisation in Victoria.
-I regret that I am not able to answer the honourable senator’s question. Perhaps these questions about Mr Young will have the healthy result of having all senators engage in some research into the matter.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to reported announcements that Australia is to give a big gift of wheat to Ethiopia and other countries in North Africa. Can the Minister give any details of these gifts and the names of the countries concerned? Is it proposed to extend Australia’s aid to these countries? Has the Minister any information on the situation in these countries at present particularly in regard to refugees?
– I read a report on the Ethiopian situation when I was in London. When I returned I asked for some information on the drought that has prevailed for quite a long time. Earlier in the year there was quite a belt of drought and it seems to have concentrated in this particular area. We tried to get some information on the matter but we could not. I asked the Australian Ambassador in Nairobi, Mr Rogers, to go and have a look at the situation. It was on his report that I acted at the weekend and made the presentation of wheat. The other part of the honourable senator’s question related to the other countries concerned. The drought extends right through a belt and I think some of the other countries concerned are Chad and Niger but its main effect is in Ethiopia. It is quite a difficult operation. We have told Ethiopia that wheat will be available. There is an organisation under the Food and Agricultural Organisation to which we made a presentation earlier in the year. The next step is to find whether it can handle this wheat. That would make the position much easier. The question may arise of having the wheat bagged because it is to be distributed away from centres. Incidentally when Mr Crean was in Africa recently he made offers of economic assistance but did not receive an application for it. We still have not received an application from Ethiopia. However, that may not mean anything as it may have made application to one of the international bodies. The point is that we have promised the wheat. We will have to ascertain the details to determine the final amount.
Senator Wheeldon having directed a question to the Attorney-General-
– Does this matter come within the ministerial responsibility of the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia?
-I think I can answer that.
– I raise a point of order. This is the second time today a question of this sort has been asked I did not raise any objection to Senator Gietzelt ‘s question but I do raise an objection here. This question in terms of the facts given by Senator Wheeldon relates wholly to allegations- they are bad enough in themselvesin relation to a State election. In my submission it is not within our Standing Orders as a matter of public affairs for which a Minister is responsible. I submit that the question is out of order and it should not be regarded as an opportunity for a Minister to make further damaging comments.
– Order! I uphold the point of order.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, is a member of the Order of the Collar of St Agatha of Patemo an award conferred by the Republic of Chile? If so, when was such honour conferred and who was the Head of the Chilean Government at the time? On what occasions does the Prime Minister wear the decoration? Does the Spanish word ‘grandissimo ‘ appear anywhere on the Order’s medallion?
-I regret that I have not been briefed on this matter but I will endeavour to find the answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– Can the Special Minister of State say whether he has received a letter from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Greenwood, and a telegram from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, Mr Lynch, complaining that members of their staffs are not being paid their overtime and travel allowances? If the Minister has received these complaints will he tell the Senate whether the charges made by Mr Lynch on the television program ‘Federal File’ are correct? If they are correct, what are the names of the people not being paid and the amount of money involved in each case?
– A telegram did come in which I referred to my Department. It was related to a question that was raised earlier. I understand that a cheque had already been forwarded before Mr Lynch appeared on the program ‘Federal File’. I did ask for the exact details but I did not bring them into the chamber with me. I understand that there was a slight delay in payment to an officer on Mr Lynch ‘s staff. I do not think it was untoward and I do not think the amount he stated was correct.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. Due to the grave concern expressed by so many people regarding litterbugging in this country, will the Federal Government have discussions with the State governments in an endeavour to counter litterbugging and help to keep Australia tidy? As a first step will the Federal Government impose fines on offenders caught litterbugging in the Australian Capital Territory, as is now being done in Singapore with such effective results?
– I think the discussions which the honourable senator suggests should take place have already taken place with the States. The question of litter being distributed around the country concerns everyone. I do not know whether the remedy in the Australian Capital Territory falls within the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. It possibly would be the responsibility of the Minister for the Capital Territory to impose a penalty for litterbugging in the Australian Capital Territory. I think we have to give serious consideration to whether penalising people is the solution to this problem or whether the solution lies in educating people to take a pride in their environment.
– The imposition of penalties is a success in Singapore.
-Despite the fact that that may be the case in Singapore I think a visit to Singapore would show that the tidy appearance of Canberra compares quite favourably with that of Singapore. I do not think consideration is being given to imposing penalties, but this aspect of the matter does not come within my responsibility as a Minister. I do not think prosecuting and fining people on every occasion is the solution to many of our problems in Australia.
– For the information of honourable senators and a number of people throughout Australia who are uncertain about this matter, will the Attorney-General indicate who appoints scrutineers for both polling and counting at a referendum? If the Minister does not know, will he check and let us know tomorrow?
-I do not know. I shall check and let the honourable senator know tomorrow.
– I point out to the Minister for the Media that the Minister for Fisheries in Tasmania has warned that the mercury content of the Derwent River is above the danger level and has asked that no fish should be consumed that have been taken from this river. In view of the increasing amount of unbiodegradable insecticides, weedicides and other offensive effluents that are finding their way into the rivers and the seas throughout and around the nation would the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment and Conservation introduce a system of periodic warnings through the Australian Broadcasting Commission of pollution levels as a service to the public similar to weather reports?
– I saw the report to which the honourable senator has referred. Of course, I would not be as familiar with the situation as Senator O’Byrne who comes from that State. In regard to the suggestion in the latter part of his question, I must point out to the honourable senator that it is the policy of this Government to guarantee the political and programming independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think that the suggestion of the honourable senator has tremendous merit. Certainly I will take up the question with the Chairman of the Australian
Broadcasting Commission, Professor Downing, to see what can be done about the matter. I will also refer the matter to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to see whether the commercial television and broadcasting stations also are prepared to co-operate.
-Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs tell me the exact cost to the Australian people of the Murray Grey bull that was presented to the Red Chinese Government and also the exact cost to transport the beast to China? Does the Chinese Government agree with the claim of the Prime Minister of Australia that he, Mr Whitlam, is the greatest Australian Foreign Minister that Australia has ever seen? Is it also a fact that the Chinese Government considers that Mr Whitlam is the greatest bull shipper in Australia ‘s history?
– The first part of the question is in order.
– It is not usual to disclose the price of gifts given to people in other parts of the world. Mr President, in accordance with the indication contained in your comment, I have no intention of answering the rest of the question.
-Why does the Attorney-General decline to enforce the provisions of the law available to him and cause the Aboriginal occupied tents opposite Parliament House to be taken down and removed?
– Some question was raised on an earlier occasion as to the law on this matter. I have not seen any cause to take any action myself on this matter. If a cause were to arise, then the Senate would be informed.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
-Does the AttorneyGeneral consider it a proper function of the chief law officer of the Commonwealth to decline to enforce the law and not give any reason for so doing?
-The question of what should be done about enforcement of the law has been dealt with in debate in the Senate. I think that even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would adhere to the proposition that in all of these matters there is a question of discretion on the part of the law officer. No one of whom I know who has been in this responsible position has ever maintained other than that there is a discretion as to what should be done in these matters. I have not seen cause, in any event, to request that any action be taken.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether he is aware that an Aboriginal lad named Lewis Saunders was incarcerated in the Quilpie police lockup this year for an alleged theft of goods valued at $50; that he was not brought to trial until 80 days after his arrest; that he was given no legal advice; and that he was a first offender but received a sentence of 3 years gaol with hard labour? Will the Minister cause an immediate inquiry to be made into all the circumstances of this case and take appropriate steps to ensure that an appeal against this harsh sentence is properly lodged on behalf of the lad concerned?
– The case has received wide publicity throughout Australia. I think everyone knows of it. The unfortunate thing about this case is that the lad appeared in court without legal representation. This was unfortunate because this Government is prepared to provide counsel for any Aboriginal who has to appear in court.
– This was a State case?
– Yes, it was a State case. As I was pointing out, this lad could have received free legal service if he had known that it was available. We have a problem in getting the message through to our Aboriginal people that such a service is available to them if they need it. We are trying to overcome this problem by funding legal aid services in all States of the Commonwealth. However, we still have the problem of conveying this information to Aborigines in the remote areas.
The court has taken a decision in the case raised by Senate Keeffe and I certainly would not hold an inquiry into that decision. I think it is doubtful that the same sentence would have been imposed had some case been put up for the offender. It seems likely that there would have been some mitigation of the penalty. The position now is that an appeal has been lodged. He will have competent counsel to represent him when the appeal is heard.
– I ask the Minister for the Media what are the prospects for initial runs of television transmissions in colour being made by
July of next year as has been sought by the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations?
– As I understand the position, this is purely a matter for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is an independent statutory body established by Parliament to oversee the operations and activities of commercial television stations and to make recommendations on the technical provisions applying to both national and commercial broadcasting stations. I did see a statement that a number of organisations had made representations to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to commence colour transmission pattern tests as from July of next year. It is the intention of the Government, of course, to introduce the actual transmission of colour television from March 1975. The application has yet to receive the consideration of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which doubtless will look into every aspect and make a report to me. When I am in a position to inform the honourable senator further I shall do so.
-I ask the Minister for the Media whether the increased level of interest about Australia in the United States of America, which was very evident around the time of the election last year from the amount of space devoted to this country in American magazines, is being maintained. What is being done to further the awareness of Australia in the United States?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDFirstly, since the election of the Labor Government the Prime Minister has visited the United States of America and as a result of that visit there was tremendous publicity for Australia in that country. The Australian Information Service of my Department has assisted some 65 or 70 publicists from the United States, all of whom have provided a high level of return in media coverage of this country. Additionally, it is expected that on 8 December, I think it is, some 80 million American viewers will watch the Carol Burnett Show’ which was recorded in the Sydney Opera House. That production, of course, will show scenes of the Sydney Opera House and of the city of Sydney itself. However, gratifying as the additional interest in Australia that has been generated in America may be, the real challenge in creating an awareness of our nation appears to me to lie in Asia and our immediate neighbours. Already my Department has established an information office in Wellington, New Zealand. An additional posting has been made to Osaka, Japan, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I and our departments are having discussions on posts for information officers that should be opened by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer him to his answer to me last week when he undertook to consider the question of Leonid Brezhnev’s full page advertisement in the ‘Australian’ being inserted without any authorisation or acknowledgment. Is he aware that the text of the advertisement is, word for word, though with some rearrangement, what appeared in the Soviet News Bulletin’ published by the Press office of the Soviet Embassy in Canberra? Does the Minister not agree that it is highly undesirable that communist propaganda or any totalitarian propaganda be published in Australia without the public knowing who was responsible for authorising it? Does he not agree that this proposal is the very antithesis of political censorship? Does he not agree that this Government would take precipitate action if it were suspected that political propaganda was inserted in Australian newspapers without acknowledgment by Rhodesian or South African authorities?
-There may well be reason for requiring that the source of any kind of propaganda, as it is called, by or on behalf of any foreign power in Australia be identified, irrespective of the questions which the honourable senator raises about the Soviet Union. Advertisements or material emanating from Rhodesia are of another character. The Australian Government’s opposition to that is founded upon the resolutions of the United Nations which, in substance, called upon member nations to take the action which the Australian Government is endeavouring to take; that is, to prevent the illegal and rebellious Government of Rhodesia from having influence in or propagandising in, Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science. In view of the experience over the proposed site for an institute of marine science at Cape Pallarenda in Queensland with regard to pollution, will the Minister have discussions with the Victorian Government on its proposals to site a similar institute at Portsea? Will not a similar problem arise at Portsea if the Victorian Government goes ahead with this scheme? Has the Minister read the case for the establishment of an institute in Western Victoria put forward by Dr O’Brien of the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education? Would not this be a better area for a marine institute in view of its attributes? Has the Royal Society of Victoria declined to meet Dr O’Brien and other members of the Western Victorian Institute Committee to discuss their case? Have any plans been drawn up at a national level for the rationalisation of marine institutes in Australia? Will the Australian Government have any financial commitment towards the proposed institute in Victoria? Will the Minister discuss this matter of the siting of marine institutes with officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and, if necessary, ask that that body investigate the merits of all sites in Victoria so that we can be assured that the site selected will be the most advantageous from a national point of view?
– Order! That is a very suitable question to go on notice and that is where it goes.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. As the Premier of Tasmania has not officially responded to the Commonwealth offer of $8m for a moratorium on Lake Pedder but has, by public statement, indicated that it will be rejected, and as it is increasingly and tragically clear that the destruction by pollution of the Derwent and Tamar Rivers and possibly parts of the north west coast of Tasmania is taking place, will the Minister reconsider the offer and give to the Tasmanian Premier the option of accepting it in relation to the cost of steps necessary to save those rivers and the coastline as an alternative to accepting the offer for a moratorium on Lake Pedder.
-The offer for the saving of Lake Pedder has been made. There have been reports that the State Government will not accept it. We must await some finality on this. I think that the Department of the Environment and Conservation will make money available to the States on any occasion where it can assist by such a grant in stopping the pollution which is taking place. I do not think any area other than Lake Pedder has ever been considered. I suggest that if there is need for Commonwealth financial assistance in other areas it is the responsibility of the State Government to make some representations.
-by leave-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate disapproves the following determination made under the Public Service Arbitration Act 1 920- 1 972:
No. 657 of 1973-Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
-by leave-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate disapproves the following determinations made under the Public Service Arbitration Act 1920- 1 972:
No. 656 of 1973- Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service;
No. 658 of 1973-Federated Clerks Union of Australia;
No. 659 of 1973-Federated Clerks Union of Australia.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a white paper entitled ‘The Australian Health Insurance Program ‘.
– For the information of honourable senators I table the joint communique signed by the leaders of the delegations which attended the first conference of South Pacific Labour Ministers in Sydney from 30 October to 1 November. The conference was highly successful and was a notable step forward in dealing with labour and related subjects in the South Pacific region.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the Defence Report 1973.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the final report of the Australian Council for the Arts on steps to implement the Government’s policies towards the arts.
– Pursuant to section 35 of the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Act 197 1-1972, 1 present the report on the operation of the Act during the year ended 30 June 1 973.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-1972, 1 present the ninth annual report on the administration and operation of that Act for the year ended 30 June 1973. An interim statement was presented to the Senate on 16 October 1973.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the submission of the Department of Urban and Regional Development to the Task Force on the National Estate.
– On behalf of the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) and pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-1970, I present the twelfth annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 53 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-1971, on behalf of the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) I present the annual report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission for the year ended 3 1 March 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statments
– I proceed now to the discovery of formal business. Is Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 2, standing in the name of Senator McManus, relating to the reference of a matter to the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, formal or not formal?
– Very well.
– I move:
Honourable senators will notice that I said Council for the Arts’, which is the correct title, not ‘Council of the Arts’ as appears on the notice paper. If it is necessary to get leave to alter the motion, I will seek leave.
– I will put the question. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I am sorry, but I must rise to oppose the motion.
– Order! As the matter is a formal one, I must put the question without debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
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.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
This Bill, though brief, is of some practical and historical significance. In form it is merely a repeal Bill; it will repeal the High Commissioner (United Kingdom) Act 1909-1966. In its practical effect it will terminate the present legislative basis for administration of the Australian High Commission in London, thereby clearing the way for administration to be on the same basis as that for all other Australian diplomatic missions abroad. In its historial aspect it formally signifies that Australia’s diplomatic relations with Britain are no longer regarded as being different in kind from its diplomatic relations with other countries.
It may be of interest to honourable senators if, before dealing more fully with the Bill, I outline briefly the history of the Act which it is proposed to repeal. In 1906 the Australian Government found it necessary to appoint a representative to look after its interests in the United Kingdom, especially in connection with the purchase of defence material. A representative of the Treasurer was later appointed to deal with financial matters. In 1909 the High Commissioner Act was passed to enable broader diplomatic functions to be exercised by Australia’s official representative. The four-yearly Imperial Conference had apparently been then regarded as a permanent arrangement, and it was felt that a High Commissioner, with an enlarged staff, was necessary to assist with liaison work between these Conferences, as well as to present a balanced Australian representation in Britain, as distinct from the primarily partisan efforts of the States’ AgentsGeneral. Canada had maintained a High Commissioner in Britain for some years, and questions of prestige and trade promotion were evidently important. It was envisaged, in this humble beginning, that the States would agree to transfer their function to the High Commissioner, but, as honourable senators are well aware, the States still maintain officers under Agents-General in London.
The 1909 Act created the office of our first diplomatic representative abroad. Over the years, it was amended as necessary because of changing requirements. It retained its original title through 4 amendments between 1909 and 1952, but by 1957 the post World War II expansion of Australian diplomatic representation was reflected in a change of name to the High Commissioner (United Kingdom) Act. From 1 957 on it became increasingly anomalous to administer Australia House, as the High Commission has long been popularly known, separately from other Australian diplomatic missions, all of which are staffed by Australia-based officers and locally engaged employees under the Public Service Act 1922-1973. Not only was it anomalous to have a separate administrative basis, but responsibility for the High Commission, alone of all our diplomatic missions, lay with the Prime Minister and not with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The previous Government, I am pleased to say, finally saw benefit in rationalising the position of the London mission and, on 1 November 1972, transferred responsibility for it to the then Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The present Bill is consequential on that transfer. Upon repeal of the Act administration of the High Commission will continue under the Public Service Act. To this end determinations under the Public Service Act will be made at the time of repeal. These, with existing provisions of the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act 1928-1969, the Superannuation Act 1922-1971, and the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1968, will preserve or improve existing rights and terms and conditions of service of the present locally engaged High Commission staff, who will all continue in employment.
Care has been taken by my Department and the Public Service Board, while this Bill has been in preparation, to keep the staff of the High Commission informed of developments and to consult closely with the Australian High Commission Staff Association. The Staff Association has given the fullest co-operation to the representatives of the Department and the Board, and I am happy to be able to inform honourable senators that agreement has lately been reached with the Association on new rules to replace the High Commissioner (Staff) Regulations which at present detail the terms and conditions of the staff. The new rules, as I have already indicated, will be in the form of determinations under the Public Service Act. The Association has indicated that it is anxious for early repeal of the Act and making of the determinations. The determinations will, of course, need to come into operation immediately upon repeal of the Act. In order to facilitate this, provision is made in clause 2 of the Bill for the Act to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The only other clause that calls for comment is clause 4. The clause preserves existing rights under the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act 1928-1969 of persons who have such rights by virtue of having been officers of the Public Service immediately before they became officers under the High Commissioner (United Kingdom) Act.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
– I ask for leave to make a statement relating to the sittings of the Estimates committees.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The Senate has been advised already that Estimates Committees A and C will meet tonight at 8.30- Committee A in the Senate chamber and Committee C in Senate committee room No. 1. At its meeting last Thursday night Estimates Committee E was unable to conclude its examination of estimates and resolved to meet tonight at 8.30 to continue its examination of the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Accordingly, it has been arranged that Estimates Committee E will meet tonight at 8.30 in Senate committee room L 1 7.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to the Bill.
Consideration of House of Representatives amendment.
Section 5 of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972 is amended by omitting paragraph (a) of the definition of “public work “ and substituting the following paragraph: - “ (a) that is proposed to be carried out by or on behalf of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth statutory authority within the Commonwealth or within a Territory: and “.
House of Representatives’ amendment-
Omit the clause.
– I move:
Honourable senators will recall that earlier this year I introduced into the Senate this Bill which proposes to amend section 18 (8) of the Public Works Committee Act to increase the mandatory limit for works considered by the Public Works Committee from $750,000 to $2m. Honourable senators opposite saw fit to move and pass an amendment to this Bill which, in its intention, would require the Public Works Committee to examine all capital works in excess of $2m undertaken by statutory authorities as well as Government departments. It is obvious that such an amendment would negate the original purpose of the Bill and result in the Committee being further burdened with works referred to it by the 60 or so statutory authorities.
As I said during the original debate on this Bill, I wish to remain flexible on this matter. I have therefore already launched an in-depth examination by an interdepartmental committee of the full range of works undertaken by all arms of the Australian Government. Following this examination it should be possible to draw up a more rational method of selecting works for reference to the Public Works Committee. This was accepted by the House of Representatives which has returned the Bill to the Senate in its original form. I therefore commend the Bill to the Senate with the undertaking that the indepth examination already in progress will be pursued as a matter of urgency.
Having spoken for this side of the House in the original debate, I rise to express my appreciation, of what the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) has said. I believe that in rejecting the amendment that we introduced requiring the Committee to scrutinise all works which exceeded $2m undertaken by statutory authorities, the Government has seen that we would create, from the point of view of practical dispatch of business, quite some difficulty. We recognised that at the time and therefore have no hesitation whatever in accepting the proposal to reject that amendment. I express my appreciation that the Minister has instituted an in-depth examination by an interdepartmental committee of the full range of works undertaken by all arms of the Government. He has given this Committee an undertaking that he will proceed with the operation of that committee as a matter of urgency. It was recognised that the formulation of the description of works that were required to go before the Public Works Committee- simply in a form that described departmental works- enabled a great bracket of works undertaken by statutory authorities to escape the scrutiny of the Committee.
It is implicit in the interest that the Government has taken in the amendment that there is perceived an anomaly inasmuch as departmental works are to be scrutinised and statutory authority works will escape the scrutiny. So the fact that the whole of the matter is now being subjected to examination and will come up for consideration as early as practicable is a matter of satisfaction. I only wish to suggest with regard to the formulation of the works program for the consideration of this Parliament and therefore of the Public Works Committee that we render considerable service by having a program formulated to deal not merely with an annual period but with a period extending over 3 or 5 years. I suggest that then the Government, the Parliament and the industry would know just what work load was to be expected both from the finance point of view and the point of view of demand on the resources of the industry. I suggest also that this would be a great help to the financing by the Government of the public works program. People will say: ‘Why did you not institute this while you were Minister for Works?’ Well, endeavours are made but not always not in vain. I am pursuing here a theme, which I hope can be taken on a non-partisan basis, of considering the appropriateness of a program of works based not upon a year but upon a period of 3 or 5 years
From the point of view of the general economic balance of the country, I believe that, together with consultation with the States as to their programs of works, which of course are very great indeed, in conjunction with our programs and taking them into annual review so that they are rolling on year by year, a program covering a period of 3 to 5 years would give to the economy of this country a balancing wheel that we have not had. I merely make that suggestion. I believe it is a suggestion which Senator Cotton has advanced on previous occasions. I hope I did not distort it or wrongly attribute it.
– Not at all.
– I hear my colleague say: Not at all’. I simply inject those 2 ideas into my speech in acknowledging the Minister’s proposal. The proposal is to delete the amendment of statutory authority works being required to go before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. It is a suggestion in which we readily acquiesce.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 1629), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Senate is debating the Schools Commission Bill. This Bill aims to set up in terms of structure and function a Schools Commission. Quite clearly the Australian Government has a mandate from the people to establish a Schools Commission. Quite clearly also during its presentation of its platform to the public the then Opposition- now the Government- had submissions from parent and teacher organisations which argued strongly that on any such commission there should be direct representation of parents and of teachers and, indeed, of other interested segments of education. Equally clearly Government supporters, then in opposition, responded by indicating that they would support such a proposition. This has become a fundamental part of the policy, as understood by the public, in giving a mandate to the present Government. It is equally true that the parents and teachers’ organisations have pressed for such representation. I am reminded that in the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission of May 1973 it is stated in chapter 13.6:
In submissions to and discussions with the Committee the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations argued strongly for the right to nominate representatives as members of the Commission.
I have also before me a selection from a great volume of correspondence ranging over the last 1 8 months from the various parents and teacher organisations. For example, I have a copy of a letter written on 27 March of this year by the Australian Council of State School Organisations to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). The second paragraph states:
The purpose of this letter is to request you to agree to the representation of parents and of teachers organisations on the Schools Commission.
Since then there have been some discussions on what was meant by representation. The Government has come forward with a Bill which does not grant such representation. Last week we had deputations within the precincts of the Parliament from various organisations and views were expressed to us. But so that we can be quite explicit I read from the very latest official communications which I, probably in common with my colleagues in the Senate, received today. It is a letter dated 13 November 1973 signed by Susan Ryan, Executive Officer, for R. G. Helyar, President of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. The letter directs itself to what is meant by that organisation in terms of representation. The key paragraph is the third paragraph which I read:
Like the Australian Teachers Federation, ACSSO submitted to the Minister a panel of nominees from which one was chosen as a part-time commissioner. It is our view that if every group represented on the Commission were required to do the same, the result would be a Commission properly representative of the education community, but free enough from sectional pressures to be able to function as an expert, objective body.
The very latest and most immediate submission from this organisation reveals that the 2 main bodies, the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations submitted to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) a panel from which one person was chosen by the Minister. This being so, in putting together the Committee the Minister has acknowledged the representations of a panel. I want to say that it is precisely in line with the amendment moved by the Opposition in the Senate that this should be so. The Opposition in the Senate has recognised the desirability of submitting a panel to the Minister from which the Minister may select members. The relevant amendment, as circulated, concerning the teacher organisations says this: the Chairman and five other members upon the recommendation of the Minister and of whom two shall be members of teacher organisations selected by the Minister from a panel of not less than five persons’ names submitted by the Australian Teachers’ Federation and one shall be a person involved in research in relation to education;
I pause here to say that the Opposition envisages, not one nominee representative of the teachers, but two. It has put forward a panel of five from which the Minister can accept two. By the acknowledgment of the Australian Council of State School Organisations, this is precisely the principle that has been followed. Of course, it is not the principle that has been embodied in the Bill. But it is the principle which that organisation urges should be adopted and it is precisely the principle which the Opposition puts forward. In regard to parent representatives, I quote from page 2 the amendments that have been circulated by the Opposition:
Six other members upon the recommendations of the Australian Education Council and of whom two shall be members of parent organisations selected by the Australian Education Council from a panel of not less than five persons’ names submitted by the Australian Council of State School Organisations and one shall be a person involved in special education of handicapped children or children with special learning difficulties;
In fact, our amendment strengthens the submission of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. It recognises its principle that there should be submitted a panel from whom a choice might be made. The amendment recognises that instead of 1 parent, 2 parents shall be selected and, it goes further to include the representation of handicapped children.
What the Opposition is doing by way of its amendments is twofold: It is translating in the amendment form for adoption by the Senate those propositions put forward by parent and teacher bodies which prior to the election were acknowledged and supported by Labor Party members who therefore tacitly indicated that these propositions would be part of Labor policy. In other words, the amendment translates into legislative form the second part of the mandate that the Labor Party was given by the people.
The amendments have a second leg: They are implementing specifically what was stated in the letter of 13 November from the Australian Council of State School Organisations and they go further than that. They carry out precisely what was indicated quite inadvertently by Senator James McClelland in the debate on 7 November as reported at page 1620 of Hansard when he drew attention to the composition of the existing interim committee. Step by step he spelt out the names of the persons and their qualifications. I want to say this to the Senate: That Committee would find itself wholly likely to arise in its form and categories under the amendments proposed by the Opposition. Indeed, in every way that would be possible. The only thing would be that the Committee would be enriched by some additional categories from which there can be no disagreement. Senator James McClelland, in drawing attention to the Committee, said that the present Committee has as its Chairman, Dr Kenneth McKinnon who was Director-General of Education in Papua New Guinea. In other words, he is a leading educator in Papua New Guinea.
He went on to mention Dr Gregory Hancock, 30 years of age, who was associate chief of the New South Wales Education Department’s Division of Planning; Mr David Bennett, who was a lecturer in education at Monash University and who no doubt is well equipped in education theory and research; Mr Peter Moyes, Headmaster of Christ Church Grammar School in Western Australia, who is obviously the type of person who would be looked at by the National Council of Independent Schools; Mr A. D. J. Wood, Principal of St Michael’s School for the Handicapped just outside Launceston, which is a category specified by our amendments; Mr McNamara, President of the Sydney Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends’ Associations, a category which we provide in terms of our amendment; Father F. Martin, Director of Catholic Education in Victoria, which is a similar category; Mrs J. Kirner, who was selected from a panel of names presented by the Australian Council of State School Organisations- and we, of course, would allow for 2 such persons.
He mentioned Mr Ray Costello, President of the Queensland Teachers Union- and we would allow for 2 such persons; Mr Albert Jones, Director of Education in South Australia who is, of course, capable of being appointed by the Australian Education Council; Dr Peter Tannock, a young man who is Dean of the Faculty of Education in the University of Western Australiaagain capable of being categorised; and Mrs J. Blackburn, who has been an outstanding member of teachers’ college staffs in South Australia. I again point out that I have used the words of Senator James McClelland in what I have just said.
Therefore from all points- from the preelection policy indications, from the submissions by parents and teachers’ bodies, from the categories that have emerged from the present Committee and by the understanding now quite clearly from ACSSO that the Government sought a panel from the parents and a panel from the teachers and submitted one from them- the Government can find no possible objection to the amendments that the Opposition proposes to move to the structure of the Schools Commission. Those amendments are completely in line with all of those headlands. They are particularly in line with the submissions made directly to the Karmel Committee, which I have read out previously, by the parents and teachers’ body. Therefore in terms of structure our amendments can only enrich the Bill. They can in no way weaken the Bill; they must strengthen it.
One point, and one point only, remains in terms of the argument advanced by Labor Party speakers. This was a very, very weak point. Labor Party speakers sought to claim that our indication that there should be a nominee from the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia would be ultra vires section 1 16 of the Australian Constitution. This was a remarkable fact because I think that the very same senator, without a smile on his face, read out that the Australian Government had found no difficulty in appointing Father F. Martin, the Director of Catholic Education in Victoria, and no doubt nominated to such an office. But as I read the Constitution, in no way would there be a restriction, quite apart from the fact that the Government itself has sought to use exactly such a category, because section 1 16 reads as follows:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
The latter words ‘no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office’ are the significant ones. We are not nominating members of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia. A person would come forward from the Executive and there would not be an infringement. If there were infringement the present situation is that Father Martin’s place on the Interim Committee would be in similar jeopardy. I challenge that.
The remainder of our amendments deal not with structure but with function. They are, of course, wholly in line with the philosophy and the principles spelt out by the Karmel Committee. The Karmel Committee was set up in the knowledge of the impending establishment of the Australian Schools Commission and in the knowledge therefore that it should recommend objectives in line with that Commission. It is of great importance to look at chapter 13.2 of the report of the Karmel Committee. With the indulgence of the Senate I desire to read this because it is the basic theme and the basic philosophy of the Committee. If I may say so prior to reading this part of the report, as I understand it the Australian Government has indicated that it will adopt the general philosophy of the Karmel Committee. Certainly the Government has said nothing to the contrary, and if that is so, this paragraph is important. The paragraph states:
The constitutional responsibility for the provision of public education rests primarily with the States, as at present does the major financial commitment. The Committee believes that the Commission ‘s influence should be of a general kind and that it should not intervene in or interfere with the management of schools or school systems. As has been emphasised in Chapter 2, the Committee places great value on the encouragement of grass-roots developments in education, as local knowledge and initiative are more likely to produce effective educational experiences than fiats imposed from remote sources. Moreover, the Committee’s attachment to diversity is an argument against a centralist approach to educational matters. On the other hand, the planning of the strategic development of education on a national scale, as distinct from its centralised administration, may yield many benefits in meeting the requirements of the twenty-first century. In the light of these considerations, the Committee has formed the opinion that the Commission should concern itself more with providing incentives for the schools to move in one direction or another, than with delineating a particular model of precise development.
I commend the members of the Interim Committee upon that philosophy which would be in my view wholly supported by the Opposition. The concept that education should not be centralised in Canberra, the stress by the Committee that some remote bureaucracy, using its words, in Canberra should not impose its will upon individual schools, the seeking for diversity, the seeking for innovation and the seeking for experimentation are the basic principles that the Opposition wholly espouses. The recognition that education is primarily, under the Constitution, and essentially, because of decentralisation, a State matter, is inherent in the beliefs of the Opposition and in the Karmel Committee’s report. So basically if we are to look to an interpretation of the functions of the Schools Commission we should ask: ‘Are they in line with chapter 1 3 of the report of the Karmel Committee which deals with administration and accountability?’
I want to say emphatically that all of the remaining amendments proposed by the Opposition are aimed at carrying out specifically the philosophy of the Karmel Committee. Therefore the amendments proposed by the Opposition will not only enshrine in legislation the Australian Schools Commission but will strengthen it within the full understanding of the community when the mandate was given, within the full request of the parents and teacher bodies, and within the full philosophy of the Karmel Committee itself. Against that background there has been an attempt to misrepresent the general philosophy of the Opposition, specifically of the Liberal Party of which I am a member, with regard to education.
The Liberal Party sees the responsibility of government with regard to education as a responsibility for every citizen in Australia and not just for some. We take the view that a member of Parliament, when he takes his oath, takes an oath to serve all the people of Australia and not just some, and that education should be provided without fear or favour and at the highest possible standard for all the people of Australia. It is important that that principle be written into any legislation in this field. It will be interesting to see how the Government reacts to the Opposition’s suggestion, which I think is a very attractive one, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations should be embodied in the legislation, because the Government on many occasions has said that it believed in and fully supported the Declaration of Human Rights in every way. Here is a test for the Government. Does it really support the Declaration of Human Rights or does it support it only when it suits it? The Opposition proposes to write into this legislation an amendment drawing attention specifically to Article 26, which reads:
I cannot believe that any member of this Senate would disagree with those sentiments, bearing in mind that the Labor Party says that it is pledged to support them. The Opposition intends to include them in the Bill. Of fundamental importance are the elements of that Declaration, namely, that education shall be for everyone and that everyone has the right to education- that is of great importance in that education shall be directed to the full development of the person and not only to material things; and the last of the three paragraphs, which states:
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
The Liberal Party sees the responsibility of government in the field of education as being to govern in the interests of all. Because the absorption of education between certain ages- 6 years and 1 5 years in most States- and attendance at school by children irrespective of living standards, affluence or poverty of parents are made compulsory, the Liberal Party sees the responsibility of government as being to provide within a state system a secular system of education which is free. I emphasise that the government makes laws to make educaton within certain years of life and the absorption of certain curricula within those years compulsory. It is those goals which government seeks. The instruments by which they are achieved are purely mechanical and are variable according to the philosophy of government. In order that poor people may obtain education, quite clearly the government must provide a free and secular education. But the government’s responsibility does not and cannot end at that point.
Let me make it clear that the Opposition believes that it is an important duty of” government to provide a government system of education throughout Australia, of the highest possible standards, within which individual talent is encouraged and within which there is no disbarment or inequity because of the lack of financial assistance. The Opposition accepts as a major task the responsibility of government to establish a state secular system of education free of charge and of the highest standards. But it also accepts that, in complying with compulsion and with the curricula, parents and students should have the right of choice. One discharges one’s function to the state by going to school or to college between the ages fixed and by absorbing the curricula during that period. That is the goal of government. The goal of government is not to enshrine education in one set of bricks and mortar to the exclusion of another. Therefore, it is fundamental to the second part of a philosophy on education that we understand and embody the third section of that Declaration; that is, that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
The important factor here is the meaning of ‘a prior right’, because to have the right or the freedom to do something must mean that one has the opportunity to do it. It is not a prior right to choose education if only the wealthy can choose. It is not a prior right if there is a theoretical right to a non-government system but many people, through lack of finance, have no access to it. So, quite clearly, in that Declaration and in the philosophy of the Opposition it is implied that the right must be real and not theoretical and that, therefore, it is the duty of government to ensure that if a student desires, or his parents desire him, to attend a non-government school lack of finance in the family will not preclude attendance at the school. That is the only possible interpretation of ‘prior right’ or freedom of choice. But I do not say for one moment that that means that a government should provide the totality of funds to an independent system or a non-government system, as it does to a government system. The freedom of the nongovernment sector would be destroyed if that were so. The duty of government is to see that in the individual schools there is a free choice to go to a school without rejection by the parents because they cannot afford it. The important point is that we understand that expression and interpret it fully. The Opposition accepts fully the responsibility towards the Government sector. It accepts in every way the need to pump into that sector not only money but also ideas and drive which will give the primary and secondary education at the State level all the virtues and enlightenment which can move it into the next century. To give some earnest of that, let me measure the Budget for my own State of New South Wales in the current financial year. This year no less than $7 16m will be spent by New South Wales on education of all kinds in that State.
– How much of that is Commonwealth money?
– This is a 20 per cent increase over last year so it is a fundamental increase. Senator McLaren interjects: ‘How much of it is Commonwealth money?’. Let me say that I am quite excited about many of the Karmel Committee recommendations. But I understand that in terms of the total expenditure on primary and secondary education in New
South Wales the Karmel Committee increment represents some 2 per cent. I draw that information from a publication of the New South Wales Government. I say that in no denigration of the Karmel Committee at all. Incidentally, what it has done has been in furtherance of a whole series of advances which were made by the previous Liberal Government, such as going into the funding of colleges of advanced education and moving into libraries for primary schools. All of these things were foreshadowed and many of them were started. But I want to place in perspective that as an earnest of the Opposition’s attitude we find in any State where a Liberal Government is in power that the great bulksome 42 per cent or more- of its total budget is directed to education. I think it is a rule of thumb to say that education costs as much as or more than the whole of the funds which a State gets by way of Commonwealth tax reimbursement. In other words, all money which comes back to the States by way of Federal income tax reimbursement and more, is absorbed by the States in education. It is their job to find by their own taxes and charges the money to finance other departments. In my own State I think there are some 15 other departments. I say this not in any sense of satisfaction because I would like to see more money put into education but to try to get a perspective.
I understand that in perspective the direct per capita grants to primary and secondary schools represent $ 15.6m in the year which I have mentioned. Some $7 16m has been spent on education, ranging over the whole of education and out of it in direct per capita grants some $ 15.6m has been provided. It we are to include the additions to the independent schools we must take what comes from the Commonwealth and from indirect grants. But the fact is that the 79 per cent of the community which go to state schools areand rightly so- drawing a major proportion, and a greater proportion per capita of funds than the 2 1 per cent of the community which choose not to do so. That is the perspective which I want to paint. The Opposition looks at education as a whole. Incidentally, it looks at education not only for every student but also in the concept of whole of life. Education will not be confined to formal education in the shorter age brackets but it will run throughout life. That is of enormous importance.
Now let me pull together what I have said. I have said that the Bill has 2 purposes, namely, to set up a structure and to set up functions. This is a Bill which arises out of election policies and out of the Interim Committee for the Australian
Schools Commission or the Karmel Committee. As to structure what we propose by way of amendments is wholly in line with election promises and undertakings and with submissions by education bodies. As to functions, what we have put forward is wholly in line with the Karmel Committee’s recommendations and its philosophy and, I believe, wholly in line with the aspirations of the great majority if not the totality of the Australian people. When delegations from the various education bodies came to this Parliament last week and discussed with a number of us our amendments, their criticism relating to a panel of 5 from which 2 will be selected, whether teachers or parents, was that that was not good enough, that they should be able to directly nominate 2 and not nominate 5 from whom 2 would be selected. I understand that the Australian Democratic Labor Party has a further amendment which virtually states this. It is interesting that the Australian Council of State Schools Organisations in its most recent letter of 13 November goes to the panel as the idea. It suggests a panel from which the Government shall select one or, in our case, two. Therefore what we are doing is in line with the very latest submissions.
There is a choice for this Senate in terms of the Democratic Labor Party amendment which goes to the root of further objections of some of the bodies which were here. I make one or two critical comments, if I may, in a speech which I do not want to be critical. I feel that no speech on this matter could pass without reference to the Report of the Interim Committee on the categorisation of schools. If ever the Senate should realise the importance of the danger of a remote body with respect to education- and I honour it- in Canberra making a not intensive investigation and hurried decisions, it must do so now when it looks at the first announcement of the categories, and the need to modify them out of sight and to come to a position in which the whole question of categorisation must stand under challenge. How can any committee, even as qualified as a committee led by Dr Peter Karmel- an acknowledged educator- sit in Canberra, send out questionnaires and from the response to disembodied questionnaires reach an answer? How can anybody invent the kind of ambiguous questionnaire which was sent out? How can anybody do so without sending out a covering explanation of the purpose of the questionnaire? This is a sad thing to have to say of a Committee which I respect very deeply. How can it then sit in judgment on the appeals without getting up and going to look at the schools? How can it make an appeal from a piece of paper to a piece of paper? This is the very nonsense of bureaucracy and centralisation against which the Karmel Committee is fighting and which all our amendments are shaped and designed to combat.
Let me give an interesting example. At Ryde, Sydney, along with many other schools which are still suffering, there is a school called the Australian International Independence School. Its headmaster is a retired state school headmasterBill Eason- a man of great vision who had a tremendous reputation as headmaster of Kuringgai High School. When he retired he was not content to stop. He wanted to carry into vision what he had seen. He wanted experimentation and innovation. He wanted the very things that were in the Karmel Committee report. With his efforts and the efforts of some others a small 10 or 12 -acre piece of land in Ryde, which was a chicken farm and orchard, with broken down chicken sheds and a couple of weatherboard cottages, was acquired. These people got together and set up the school. The headmaster’s office is a caravan. The recreation hut is a broken down double decker bus. The study rooms are the chicken sheds. The cleaning and maintenance are done by the students and their parents. The headmaster takes half salary, and the teachers take cuts in their salaries. There is no formed footpath, only mud in the whole school as such. But there is something much warmer and much more vigorous. There is the vision of educational experimentation and the vision of a great ideal.
As a result of answering the questionnaire the school was put in category A. An appeal was lodged. A few people drew attention to the state of the school. Did flocks of people come to see it? It may have been interesting if they did. They may have learnt something. The educational achievements of these students are worth looking at, and the great dedication of the headmaster and his teachers is worth looking at. Now it is in category B. It has gained something. What does it have? It has virtually no material possessions- just chicken sheds. The headmaster has the firm desire to put to work the fees paid by parentsthey are not wealthy parents- so that the pupilteacher ratio shall be low and so that the school can carry out a massive experiment in the interaction between pupil and teacher and pupil and pupil, something which I would have thought that any government would have wanted and something which the Karmel Committee prays to heaven to have. Why is the school rated so highly? Because in the desiderata of the Karmel Committee, a growing school, a small school, a school with a small teacher-pupil ratio should be penalised. It is firstly put in category A, then in category B. The Government could not support the placing of the school in either category A or category B. I invite the Committee to go to the school to look at the position.
Trinity Grammmar is situated in the central suburbs, the inner suburbs of Sydney. (Extension of time granted) I appreciate the Senate’s granting me an extension of time because I spoke for 15 minutes on the Bill last week. Take Trinity Grammar as an example. It is in the centre of Sydney’s industrial suburbs. The geographical residences of the students are in Summer Hill, Petersham, Stanmore and the inner suburbs- all low to low-middle income suburbs. The school was given a massively high category. This matter needs to be looked at. I did not rise to make critical comments because, in my view, the concept of the Karmel Committee is visionary and, in terms of philosophy, is first rate. I drew attention to this matter because in the Karmel Committee report, a report which we have not been privileged to debate in the Senate, there is a marked distinction in places between precept and practice, between the principle that the Committee has seen and the methodology that it invents. Time and time again the methodology shows that it has hurried and that it has arrived at a conclusion which I am sure it would not have arrived at otherwise.
The Government and the Opposition are combined in one great adventure- that is, to provide for the people of Australia the best possible education we can. We are, I hope, combined in the view that that education should be extended to all children, not to only some. If we really believe in the Declaration of Human Rights, the amendments which the Opposition will move in the Committee stage will be carried. If there is opposition to the proposed amendments to the structure of the Commission, it cannot be said in any sense to be an obstruction by the Opposition because the Opposition is seeking to carry out, by those amendments, the promises of the present Government and the desires of parent and teacher bodies. So the Government must accept its responsibility if it rejects those amendments. If it rejects the amendments which relate to the functions of the Commission, it must fundamentally reject the philosophy inherent in the Karmel Committee and in the Declaration of Human Rights. I commend the Bill and the proposed amendments to the Senate.
– I rise to ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debated adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Willesee) read a first time.
– I move:
We have introduced Supply Bill (No. 3) 1973-74 in order to obtain further appropriations totalling $35,944,000. These are needed to enable urgent payments to be made pending the passage of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74. This Bill will provide only the rninimum amount necessary to carry on the services detailed in the Schedule to 30 November 1973. In previous years, the Appropriation Bills have usually been dealt with and passed a good deal earlier than this. A recent exception was in 1971, and additional Supply was obtained then.
Supply Act (No. 1) 1973-1974 appropriated a total of $1,556,348,000 for salaries, administrative expenses and other services of departments in the period 1 July 1973 to 30 November 1973. In a number of instances, and for a variety of reasons, these appropriations have proved insufficient. Salary increases amounting to some $46m which have had to be paid in the Supply period have been funded under section 4 of the Supply Act (No. 1) 1973-1974, but there are some substantial salary requirements which cannot be met from that provision such as salary increases to staffs of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Australian National University and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. These amount to $5,288,000.
Not only have there been substantial increases in rates of pay, but staff changes resulting from the re-structuring of departments, the establishment of new departments and an increased tempo of activity have also put additional pressures on the Supply appropriations. In other areas too the level of” expenditure has been higher than could have been reasonably anticipated. For example, the Department of Education requires an additional $1,834,000 to meet payments under the assistance scheme for isolated school children and for Aboriginal secondary grants and study grants. In those cases the numbers of applicants coming forward during the period have been greater than was estimated.
The Department of the Army requires a further $3,733,000 to meet additional gratuity payments and bonuses on re-engagement as well as to compensate for an under-estimate due to a change, as from 1 July, in the method of accounting for recoveries of charges and rations and quarters. For similar reasons an additional $2,243,000 is being sought for the Department of Air. A sum of $2,691,800 is also required to meet a claim from the State of Victoria for advances for servicemen’s housing- a claim which is normally made much later in the financial year. The remaining items detailed in the Schedule to the Bill are in general required to cover costs of staff increases and under-estimates of other requirements pending the availability of the amounts included in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-1974. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– I think it can be fairly said that this Bill has been rushed into the Senate with fairly indecent haste. The Opposition does not want to be seen to be standing in the way of looking at these things reasonably and in the light of trying to help but I think it can be said that we are entitled to examine its contents with a little more detail than if we proceeded immediately with it. I therefore will make some comments on the matter in general and then seek leave to continue my remarks in the hope that the Opposition will be able to look at this matter overnight and, if it feels disposed to do so, deal with it to finality tomorrow.
When one looks at this Bill and reads the second reading speech just read by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) certain things become quite apparent. One would say to oneself: ‘Why all of a sudden do we have this rush to get some extra money?’ The principal reason, of course, is that the Appropriation Bills which properly deal with this area have not yet come to the Senate. They have not yet been disposed of in the House of Representatives. I. do not think anybody is entitled to blame the Opposition for this. This is a matter of Government management of its own business. The Government is responsible for any problem of delay created and any problem confusion has created.
In the general situation that this second reading speech discloses on a very quick examination it is necessary to find about $36m fairly quickly to cover various items of expenditure which appear not to have been estimated correctly, or which are the products of excessive cost increases or the product of the Government having done things which it clearly would have known about when it decided to do them. Salary increases of $46m cannot be met from the provision for salaries. Increases to employees of the Australian National University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and various statutory authorities total $5m and they cannot be met from the normal supply area.
There have been substantial increases in rates of pay. That is true but it is not the fault of the Opposition. It is not the product of anything we have done. There have been staff changes resulting from the restructuring of departments. In this regard one can advert to the fact that this Government has seen fit to expand the number of Departments of State from 27 to 37 departments. It must have been quite clear to it when it did this that it would be involved in substantial increases of expenditure both at that time and later as a consequence. It appears that the Government did not take that into account.
– What was the expansion?
-From 27 to 37 Departments of State. The consequential effect of that expansion has been referred to by the Opposition on many earlier occasions. The wisdom of doing that has been questioned but the cost of doing that seems to me not to have been adequately calculated or considered. The Department of Education requires not quite $2m of the sum of $36m referred to in this Bill in order to do some very worthwhile and praiseworthy things. There is no doubt, after looking at this Bill quickly, that this is not the reason for bringing in this urgent rush for money at the last minute. That is not the reason for it because that is a small amount and that Department could have been accommodated elsewhere. A substantial amount of money- $9m- is the direct product of increases in pay and grants and bonuses to the various Service departments, Army, Navy and Air. It is the direct result of the Government deciding to give away this money. All I am saying to honourable senators in this place is that we are involved now in an indecent rush for money at what might be called the last minute. It can be only because the Government has miscalculated, has not understood what it is doing and has not really come to grips with the problem of economic and monetary management in its own household. Can one wonder why people in the community are beginning to express considerable appreciation and concern?
I refer honourable senators to some comments today which are worthy of taking into account by the Senate as a whole. There are 3 separate judgments on this Government’s economic and monetary situation. They add up to this: The Federal Government will squeeze credit ruthlessly between now and next June even to the point of producing a rush of business failures and bankruptcies. The Government is looking after its own cash requirements by means of this rather hasty measure before us at the moment, is it not? Then the Government could have to choose between a rise in personal income tax or another rise in interest rates. We have had various authorities, both inside and outside the Government, giving the Government advice on this matter. We do not presume to do so.
The second point is that inflation, already running at a rate of 10 per cent annually, is certain to speed up in the coming months because of excess demand. The excess demand is largely the product of the Government’s own actions. Five sourcesthe three I mentioned plus two others- have looked at this matter across a spectrum of opinion and have agreed that the Government has made its own task of fighting inflation a great deal more difficult because the 1973-74 Budget was in no sense deflationary. None of the 5 areas of consideration which have looked at this matter of economic and monetary management would agree or are optimistic that price control, as proposed, will have the slightest useful effect. So all in all, at a time when we are being asked to approve this Bill seeking $36m in a great hurry because of fundamental Government mistakes, misunderstandings and economic and monetary mismanagement, the Government ought to have some concern and apprehension about where it is heading and where this country is heading.
The Opposition would simply say that it will facilitate consideration of this Bill. We will try to get it through as fast as we can. We will endeavour to dispose of it in our considerations this afternoon and this evening with a view to trying to get it fixed up tomorrow. Before sitting down I would add that it is a tragedy that we have a Government that so little understands the problem of running a country that this sort of situation is pushed on us at the last minute. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Do I understand it correctly, Mr Acting Deputy President, that this Bill will be referred to the Senate Estimates Committee?
– That was not intended. It is a special appropriation.
Debate resumed (vide page 1725).
– In discussing the Schools Commission Bill 1973, 1 recall, firstly, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) referred earlier today to the fact that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is still in hospital. We regret to learn this and we extend to him our best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.
The measure before the Senate, simply stated, is designed to provide for a Schools Commission. When the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) put down the second reading speech he indicated that the Government attached a very high priority to education. He went on to elaborate this theme by placing emphasis on what he described as ‘the quality of education’ and ‘the equality of opportunity in education’. We agree on this, of course. But the Minister is not the first to think of these things or to say them in a second reading speech. The previous Government, both by its words and by its actions, moved through the total field of education in recent years to improve greatly the quality of education by large financial measures and also great diversity of activity in the establishment of its own Department of Education. It also moved through the field of the establishment of science laboratories, libraries, colleges of advanced education and other measures which greatly improved the quality and diversity of education. Also, equality of opportunity in education was greatly enhanced under the previous Government’s administration by a wide ranging selection of scholarships, bursaries and other opportunities which put into action this particular theme and phrase.
So, when the Government says that it places great value on education and attaches a high priority to these things, I say that the same line was followed by the previous Government. Indeed, providing education and the facilities related to it is one of the most important things a government can do. In recent years education has moved a great way from the earlier simple areas of operation. Today we have more than simple primary, secondary and tertiary spheres; there are the great areas of technical education, advanced education, further education, continuing education, adult education and a whole range of other styles of education. So, this Schools Commission which is the subject of the debate in the Senate today will have a relationship with many areas of education. Some of these relationships will be quite direct; others will be indirect and perhaps only by inference.
The Schools Commission and its administration will have not only this kind of relationship with all fields of education but also a relationship with the community and with community organisations which themselves are bound up with education. So, whilst we applaud the Minister’s statement in which he talks about the quality of education and equality of opportunity, it is important to say that previous administrations opened the way for Commonwealth involvement in education on a very extensive basis. As the Senate looks at this development which the Government is proposing- the establishment of a Schools Commission- it needs to be observed that the Australian community for some years now has ploughed into the quality and quantity of education not only an enormous amount of money but also an increasing amount of effort and personal concern as well as a tremendous amount of student involvement, community involvement and parent and teachers involvement. Therefore, the establishment of the Commission is notable and important, and the Government is following up its undertaking to introduce this measure.
I think it is pertinent to contemplate the effects that this proposed Commission will have not only on education in Australia but also on our student community, our education community and indeed on our future citizens. If the Commission succeeds in providing a wide range of educational facilities, its influence will be good. If the Commission provides diversity, freedom of choice and absence of discrimination, its influence will certainly be good. But, if it develops uniformity, over-centralisation, the closure of independent institutions or the destructive processes of bureaucracy, its influence will be not good but bad. Any system that becomes hidebound and stifled by overadministration, hampered by departmental regulations or over-powered by a towering central structure will not serve the generation that it is designed to serve.
That is why, in any discussion of this Schools Commission Bill today, it is important to observe that freedom of movement in the total education sphere is essential. This is highlighted in a number of ways. I merely take the opportunity to refer to the independent schools systems or nongovernment schools systems. These schools systems have programs of education which have a complementary relationship to the government schools. Together, the government and nongovernment schools make a great contribution to what the Minister was pleased to call in his second reading speech ‘the quality of education’. In making that reference he follows no less a person than the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who, in his policy speech, made quite a strong reference to the matters which he had in mind for the examination of the needs of students in the government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools. Even in that short reference one detects the recognition by the Prime Minister of the value of the nongovernment schools within the total sphere of education in this country.
As has been observed earlier this afternoon, we have had in recent times an extensive public debate on matters arising within this area of nongovernment schools and quite frequently quotation from the recommendations made in the Karmel report which is so closely allied to our discussion in the Senate today. The Government’s actions upon the recommendations have created, as has been observed earlier, an extensive public debate. However, other events have now occurred and I should not be surprised if there is not a quite changed approach to this matter of categories and allocations flowing from the categories. I do not think that one can measure the needs and quality of a school by some form of economic index. A great number of intangibles are involved in making allocations and judgments on these matters; a great range of human values are involved. I hope that the Commission, when it is established, will have an opportunity in due course to examine these things and to take them into account.
I referred earlier to the freedom of movement occasioned by the inclusion of the independent school sector within our education community. It is very important to stimulate this freedom of movement in educational thought by the involvement of educational and community interests in any proposed commission. Enough has been said for the Senate to know that a great many references, representations and submissions relating to this involvement have been made. I have been interested to select from the great range of matters which have been put to me, as they have been put to my colleagues, some references from Mr John Riddell, President of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. In one document he has drawn attention to the fact that it is extremely important that there should be involvement by representation of teachers and parents in any proposed Schools Commission. He has pointed out that more than 70 per cent of school age children in Australia attend state schools. The particular organisation of which Mr Riddell is the President represents the parents of these 70 per cent of the nation’s children. He has emphasised that in the view of his association it is entirely appropriate that this enormous body directly interested in and affected by the education system should have some voice in the Australian Schools Commission. He takes up, as others opposite have taken up, the words of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who said in his policy speech prior to the Federal elections of 1 972:
Education is the prime example of a community service which should involve the entire community- not just the education departments and the Catholic School authorities and the Headmasters’ Conference, not just the parents and the teachers, but the taxpayers as a whole.
Mr Riddell takes from that quotation an emphasis on the involvement of the parents and teachers. He is at pains, as honourable senators will find out or will have read in other speeches in this debate, to show that the view of his organisation is that this involvement should not be a direct representation as such. The request that is made in this document, which is similar to requests which have been made in various other ways in other documents by some bodies, is that the organisation’s area of education should have involvement in the Schools Commission so that it’s various aspects of thought, of knowledge and of skill can be placed before the Commission in its deliberations.
As I said a few moments ago, an examination of the amendments which we in the Opposition propose to put before the Senate during the Committee stage of this Bill will reveal a strong recognition of the importance of the fact that any advisory body containing voices and opinions of community interests in education, parents and teachers, those interested and involved in the highly important area of research and also those involved in the rapidly changing and demanding area of special education should be heard, and should be involved, and their influence should be noted. Indeed, the recommendations and amendments that we have reflect the representations and opinions that have been brought forward by community interest but indeed have taken an ongoing reflection of what was contained in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. Speakers on the Government side have acknowledged this kind of diversity of background to be already in existence in the community. This was spelt out a few days ago, as can be seen in Hansard, by Senator James McClelland. It was spelt out today by my colleague Senator Carrick. I think it is extremely important that provision for such a variety should be written into a legislative measure not only to place it in an ordered manner but also to provide for the ongoing nature of the Act and also of the Commission.
If we place any value at all on the Karmel report- it is a report of very great value to our education, research, history and indeed administrationwe can do no better when giving emphasis in support to the argument which I have just put before the Senate than to turn to the report. To underline this point I wish to quote the following remarks contained in the report:
In submissions to and discussions with the Committee the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations argued strongly for the right to nominate representatives as members of the Commission.
I wish to quote three or four more references which come under the heading ‘Functions of Schools Commission ‘. They are:
All of these matters will be found reflected in the amendments which the Opposition proposes to put down later in this debate. So I think we claim with some conviction to reflect the Government’s wish to establish a Commission by not opposing the establishment of a Commission because we believe in the equality of education and the equality of opportunity. We believe the amendments which we will move will improve the Commission. They will make it more representative, more effective and more efficient and therefore more truly representative of what the Government had in mind. Education affects not only the widest possible section of the Australian community but also affects an enormous variety of groups within the Australian society. It affects the groups involved in administration and in teaching, groups of parents and supporters, groups of citizens and various committees that abound, religious and church organisations and authorities and so many others. I invite the Senate to see the wisdom and fair involvement of these people through some form of representation not directly but rather from a given area. There seem to me to be several basic areas from which we might take a background in giving consideration to this involvement. These areas all have responsibility in education. There is the Commonwealth, which I have referred to earlier, with its program of financial contributions; the various State departments of education with the day-to-day administration; and then the several establishments which manage and establish non-government schools. If one wishes to have an effective commission or national advisory organisation it needs to be related to all of these areas and all of the other areas to which I have referred during the course of my remarks. So we desire to amend the structure of the Commission and we believe that the amendments we have will make it a better Commission. I believe the amendments will give to the Act and to the Commission greater diversity, will provide wider participation and will provide a worthwhile educational establishment. Also they will reflect what the Government has in mind, what the Karmel Committee has set out and what so many sections of the Australian community so earnestly desire.
– At the outset let me congratulate all those who have taken part in this debate for their moderation and for the temperate nature of the expression of their points of view. Always political differences are bound to develop and to exist in relation to matters of education when so much of the public purse is devoted to pursuit of these policies. In years gone by debates in this Parliament and I suppose in other parliaments on educational matters have taken place in a highly emotional way. I think it is fair to say, having listened to speakers from all sections of the political spectrum in this Senate, that in the 1 1 years that I have been in this chamber I have never listened to a more interesting and better presented discussion of a variety of views.
Having said that, I note that the Opposition is not opposing the second reading of the Bill but both Senator Rae, leading in this chamber on behalf of the Liberal Party, and Senator McManus, representing the Democratic Labor Party, indicated during the course of their remarks that they intend proposing certain amendments in the Bill at the Committee stage. However, as I have said, spokesmen for all 3 Opposition parties- the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party- have expressed newfound support for the principle of the establishment of a Schools Commission. There was no evidence of this support, of course, during the 1972 Federal election campaign.
– I remind you that we accept the mandate that was given, and you can proceed from there.
– I appreciate that. I have already said that there has been an expression of support for the principle of the establishment of a Schools Commission. Nonetheless, there was no evidence of that support during the course of the 1 972 election campaign when it was the foremost plank of the Labor Party that when we got into government we would establish a schools commission. Nine days after the election was held the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) established an interim committee to consider the establishment of a schools commission. Nevertheless, the amendments that all sections of the Opposition now propose would in the opinion of the Government seriously prejudice the ability of the Commission to do its job and could alter the thrust of assistance to both government and non-government schools. As Senator Rae has acknowledged, during the course of his remarks and by way of interjection a couple of minutes ago, both of these conceptsnamely, the establishment of a commission and the ability of the commission to do its job- were endorsed by the electorate generally when we put them to the people.
There has been much discussion in the debate on the composition of the Schools Commission. I refer particularly to the remarks made by Senator Carrick not so much today as last Wednesday. Someone listening to the debate might have got the impression that the Government was not prepared to appoint to the Commission persons associated with a range of major organisations and authorities interested in education. Let me say quite succinctly and specifically that that is not so, because we as a government have demonstrated in the appointments that were made to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission on 1 1 December and in the reconstitution of that Committee recently that we and particularly my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), recognise the significant contribution which such people can make to the work of the Commission.
The point at issue is that the Commission is intended to be a continuing body of great significance in the improvement of education in Australian schools. If places on the Commission are earmarked specifically for persons nominated by a particular oganisation or organisations there could well be a lack of flexibility to meet changing demands for representation in the future. There could also well be involved a real risk that the members of the Commission will act as delegates from organisations and thus could convert the Commission into a forum of disputation rather than a collective body looking constructively at the overall objective. Our 1972 election proposal on education was to establish a schools commission along the lines of the commissions for universities and colleges of advanced education. The legislation governing the establishment of those commissions does not allocate places on them to organisations of particular interests. Senator Carrick suggests that the Government’s proposals on the structure of the Commission are at variance with the recommendations of the Karmel Committee. The honourable senator referred to paragraph 13.2 which appears on page 132 of the printed document entitled ‘Schools in Australia’. I direct the attention of Senator Carrick and the Senate to paragraph 13.6 of the Karmel Committee’s report which appears on page 1 33. It reads:
In submissions to and discussions with the Committee, the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations argued strongly for the right to nominate representatives as members of the Commission. The Committee feels that the Commission should be able to conduct its proceedings on the merits of the business before it, with its members not bound to any particular point of view on specific questions. This does not mean that the Commission should be insensitive to widely held views in the community nor that its membership should not display a range of experience and attitudes, but it does mean that individual members should be free from the responsibilities of representing constituent bodies. Moreover, the number of organisations that might claim representation is large, so that a Commission based on the principle of direct representation would become unwieldy and inhibited in its capacity to make decisions. If teacher and parent organisations, as such, are to be involved in the work of the Commission, an appropriate place might be rather at the Regional Board level.
Having directed the Senate’s attention to that section of the Karmel Committee’s report, I suggest that the Committee in its report states quite clearly the view that organisations should not be entitled themselves to nominate representatives as members of the Commission and that the appropriate place for such representation is on what are proposed to be called the Schools Commission advisory boards. On the question of representation, most of the Opposition speakers in the debate have ignored clause 16 in the Bill which provides for the appointment of Schools Commission advisory boards in each State and in the 2 mainland Territories, namely, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. These boards, as specifically recommended by the Karmel Committee, will facilitate consultation between the Commission, on the one hand, and a wide range of organisations and authorities directly concerned at the State level, on the other hand. Because this is part of the consultation machinery that is involved in the establishment of the Commission, the Government is prepared at this level- that is, the advisory board level- to accept nominations from the range of interests that are listed in paragraph 13.9 of the Interim Committee’s report. Paragraph 13.9 is set out on page 134 and I shall read it into the record. It states:
The Committee suggests that Regional Boards might comprise the following:
a full-time commissioner as Chairman;
the State Director-General of Education or his nominee;
the Director of the State Catholic Education Office or his nominee;
d ) a nominee of the Association of Independent Schools;
a nominee of the government schools teachers organisation; (0 a nominee of the government schools parents organisations; and
four members appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education after consultation with the State Minister of Education.
There might be advantage in at least one of the members nominated by the Minister being a resident of another State. This, together with the background and experience of the Chairman, could help to prevent parochialism in the Board.
– Would the Minister be prepared to write that into the legislation? It is not in there at the moment. I am just inquiring.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDNaturally, I would have to discuss that matter with my colleague, the Acting Minister for Education (Mr Lionel Bowen). But I say that at this stage the Government is prepared at this level to accept nominations from the range of interests that are listed in the paragraph that I read out. I give that undertaking at that level on behalf of the Government at this stage.
– Would the Minister make the further inquiry?
– I will certainly make the further inquiry.
– Thank you.
-But having given an undertaking, I cannot see the necessity for it. However, apparently some State ministers of education have indicated to my colleague that there is a case for some variation in detail from State to State in order to reflect the local situation. But I assume that this could well be taken into account in the appointment of 4 members appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education after consultation with the State minister. It has been alleged that the Government has not announced any policy in respect of the matters dealt with in chapter 13 of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, otherwise known as the Karmel Committee. This very Bill reflects Government policy on many of the issues dealt with in that section of the Committee’s report. Some of the subheadings from chapter 13 of the report of the Committee entitled ‘Administration and Accountability’ might well be written into the record. The functions of the Australian Schools Commission is dealt with at page 132 of the report. The structure of the Schools Commission is dealt with at length at pages 133, 134 and 135 of the report. The staffing of the Schools Commission is dealt with at page 135. Also, the idea of consultation and accountability is dealt with in chapter 13. Perhaps accountability and the collection of data are more appropriate for consideration within the context of a states grants schools bill which I understand will be introduced shortly in another place authorising payments under the various programming headings that are recommended elsewhere in the Karmel Committee report.
Senator Rae, and also Senator Carrick, speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party, have acknowledged the need for diversification and decentralisation in education and for more direct community participation and involvement. I think it fair to say that both honourable senators have charged that the Government’s intention in this legislation is to promote centralism rather than decentralisation. But certainly, it has been acknowledged by both Senator Rae and Senator Carrick, who read a passage from the report this afternoon, that the Karmel Committee report went out of its way to reject the centralist approach. I remind honourable senators that it is only through the action of this Government in giving immediate attention to the problems of schools that school authorities, both government and non-government, are now going to be in the position of having funds available to them to take the steps necessary to promote innovationa word that was used by Senator Carrick to bring about diversification and community participation and particularly to provide for comprehensive in-service training and the encouragement of initiatives from teachers. It will now be possible to do those very things on which Senator Carrick addressed at length the Senate this afternoon as a result of the action being taken by this Labor Government.
While the points to which 1 have alluded cover a great number of particular matters, as we see it the significance of the proposed Opposition amendments to the functions of the Commission and to the matters to be taken into account in the exercise of those functions as set out in clause 13 of the Bill is to vary the intention of the Government as endorsed by the electorate at the last general election. Our policy proposal which was put to the people was to appoint an expert advisory committee at the national level which would determine standards, the needs of students in both government and non-government schools and which would recommend grants on the basis of priority of need bearing in mind particularly the primary obligation of governments to provide and maintain the government schools system at the highest standard to all Australian children. Of course, if the Opposition parties collectively use their numbers in the Senate to amend the Bill in a way which will seriously prejudice in the opinion of the Government the actions of the Schools Commission, the Government could continue, as I think was stated by my colleague the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, shortly prior to his taking ill, for the time being with an interim schools committee. That course of action naturally would present some difficulty. Certainly, it would be much less than the ideal. But we believe as a government that it would not present as much difficulty as if the Schools Commission were constituted and subjected to the functional direction which Opposition members have contemplated in the various speeches in the second reading debate last Wednesday and again this afternoon.
The proof of the Government’s concern for the education of Australian children in all schools, both government and non-government, is demonstrated by its actions. Its policy as enunciated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during the course of the last Federal election has shown this concern as have the actions since taken by this Government from its very first establishment and its legislative program. The appointment of the Interim Schools Committee was one of the first actions of the new Labor Government. As a result of that Committee’s deliberations, the Government shortly will invite the Parliament to approve grants for schools which during the 2 years 1974 and 1975 will increase grants for education to government schools to approximately $500m and for nongovernment schools to approximately $200m, making a total amount all told of some $700m.
I was interested to hear Senator Carrick’s remarks this afternoon when he gave the amount that was spent on education by the State Government of New South Wales. He said that only 2 per cent of the 42 per cent of that State’s budget devoted to education was spent as a result of the Karmel Committee’s recommendations. But, of course, we have only started implementing the Karmel Committee’s recommendations. One would naturally understand that at this stage there is only 2 per cent involved. But by the implementation of the Committee’s report the New South Wales Government and all other State governments will over the years be able to expend a substantially greater sum on education than they have been able to do.
– Does it not seem a high proportion for independent schools as against government schools grants?
-That is the honourable senator’s opinion, I assume. So far as we are concerned, we are implementing the recommendations of the Karmel Committee. An amount of $700m is to be made available in 2 years- 1974 and 1975- of which $500m is to go to government schools and $200m is to go to non government schools. This surely has to be compared with direct grants to schools which were made by the previous Government during the 2 years of 1 97 1 and 1 972 of approximately -
– Why does it have to be compared with those years? Why not be fair and say what it would have been in 1974-75. Be fair for the first time.
– Well, what is it then? Tell me what it would have been. Would it have been anywhere near the amount recommended by Karmel? We do not know what it would have been.
– Yes you do.
– Well, tell me what it was.
– It would have been in excess in relation to the total grants.
– If the honourable senator cannot tell me what his Party says it would have been, how are we expected to know? We can only go on the record of what it was in 1971 and 1972 of approximately $ 1 10m of which $40m was for government schools and $70m for non government schools.
– That is a completely false calculation.
-The honourable senator says that it is a completely false calculation. I invite him during the Committee stage to show me where it is in fact wrong. I think someone said earlier in the debate that the additional amount being made available was not in fact an increase of 92 per cent this year because of certain things that were done last year. Certainly on the argument that was proposed by,
I think, Senator Carrick there is at least an increase of 60 per cent.
– Admitted by them.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDAdmitted by them. If they do not accept that this Government has increased expenditure on education in this financial year by 92 per cent then on their own argument they must accept that there has been a 62 per cent increase.
Senator Rae- Senator Drake-Brockman said that the maximum possible was 69 per cent.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSenator Rae was given the opportunity to present his case without interjections being made. I seek the same consideration.
Having made those comments and realising that all sections of the Senate are not opposed to the establishment of the Australian Schools Commission and therefore do not oppose the second reading stage of this Bill, I urge the Senate now to put that section of this debate to the test. I seek the Senate’s endorsement of the second reading stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) proposed:
That the consideration of the Bill in the Committee of the Whole be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
-Whilst the Opposition accepts that the Government has control of the business of the Senate and is free to move the adjournment of the debate and whilst the Opposition will not oppose the motion, it wishes the fact to be noted that it is the Government that is deferring this matter for a further day. We would have been quite content to go ahead with this legislation forthwith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a Second time.
Debate resumed from 6 November (vide page 1559), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second rime.
– The Bill before the Senate proposes to assert the authority of the Australian Government over the waters and the submerged lands of those waters from the low water mark of Australia. I would have though this is a Bill that would not be opposed by the Senate. I am very thankful for the contribution made by Senator Greenwood on the second reading of this Bill. I do not wish to reiterate the matters raised by him because they were so much to the point. There has in the past been much confusion about the sovereign rights of these areas. This confusion was created by the preamble to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act which states:
And whereas the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States have decided, in the national interest, that, without raising questions concerning, and without derogating from, their respective constitutional powers, they should co-operate for the purpose of ensuring the legal effeciveness of authorities to explore for or to exploit the petroleum resources of those submerged lands.
By that paragraph in the preamble the Australian Government set aside its constitutional powers and entered into arrangement with the States to administer the areas off-shore. The Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources was appointed to inquire into and report upon that legislation. In other words, the Committee was to have a look at the horse after the stable door had been opened and the horse had bolted.
The Committee came to certain conclusions with respect to the references that were given to it. Before I read the conclusions to the Senate I would like to refer to the first term of reference which was: whether the constitutional conception underlying the legislation is consistent with the proper constitutional responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States.
There was unanimous agreement on the Committee with the recommendations flowing from that term of reference. The honourable senators who comprised the Committee and agreed wilh the conclusions were Senator Young, who was the Chairman of the Committee at the time of the final report, Senator Greenwood, who was Chairman of the Committee when an interim report in regard to this particular term of reference was presented to the Senate, myself. Senator the Honourable V. C. Gair. Senator G. C. Hannan, Senator J. B. Keeffe, Senator C. L. Laucke, Senator Justin O’Byrne and Senator J. J. Webster. They were in unanimous agreement on the following conclusions, which were arrived at by the Committee:
That the constitutional conception underlying the legislation is inconsistent with what should be the proper constitutional relationship between the Parliament and the executive.
That, in the context of broad constitutional responsibilities, there is a challenge to the exercise of the functions of Parliament in the conception of uniform legislation drafted by the executive arms of seven Australian Governments being presented to the Parliaments as a fait accompli requiring formal legislative approval. This cannot be regarded as strictly inconsistent with the ‘proper constitutional responsibilities’ of the Commonwealth and the States as the power always lies with the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the States to reject or amend the legislation.
That last sentence is not strictly correct. Honourable senators who have taken an interest in this matter will understand that underpinning this legislation is a non-justiciable agreement and clause 6 of that non-justiciable agreement forbids any one of the governments from amending the legislation without the agreement of the other 6 governments. Sure, a government can take legislative action to amend its legislation, but immediately it does so it puts itself outside the agreement and the legislation. That is the penalty which is imposed upon the governments to prevent them from taking unilateral action.
It must be remembered that the purpose of the mirror legislation was to use all the constitutional powers of Australia, wherever they may lie. Whether the Commonwealth had sovereign jurisdiction in this area or whether the States had it, the legislation was designed in such a way that no. challenge could be made to it because if the States did not have the power the Commonwealth did, and vice versa. Any State which took unilateral action would find itself outside the agreement and outside the protection of the other States and the Commonwealth. In March 1969 at a conference of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General it was agreed that sections 9, 1 1 and 101 of the Act be amended. But only 2 States have taken action with respect to that agreement in March 1969. This poses the question whether those 2 States or the other 4 States and the Commonwealth are now outside the agreement. This is something that should be looked at. Perhaps the other 5 governments should take action in accordance with the agreement reached at Hobart. That is the position as I see it and is why I draw particular attention to the second sentence of that conclusion. The third conclusion was:
That the Committee does not regard the legislation as being inconsistent with the ‘proper responsibilities’ of the Commonwealth and the States because, as a result of a decision to avoid litigation which would have resolved the matter, it cannot say what is the measure of those proper constitutional responsibilities.
This brings us to the crux of the matter. Having set aside the Constitution or the rights of the States or the Commonwealth under the Constitution, it was impossible to determine where the responsibilities lay. The legislation that we have before us today is designed to settle that matter. The fourth and most damaging conclusion that was arrived at was:
That, notwithstanding the advantages to the national interest which the legislation and its underlying conception has produced, the larger national interest is not served by leaving unresolved and uncertain the extent of State and Commonwealth authority in the territorial sea-bed and the Continental Shelf.
Therefore, I think it is timely that Commonwealth legislation to control this area by the Commonwealth Government should be passed by the Senate. This Parliament has only the powers that it asserts it has- no other powers. The issue of who has sovereign jurisdiction in this area will not be resolved in this Parliament; it will be resolved only by the assertion of the power by the Parliament and, if someone is sufficiently interested to challenge that assertion, by the High Court. The High Court is the protector of the Constitution of Australia. That is the place where the resolution should be made.
So I urge all honourable senators to support this legislation. There are 9 honourable senators who are committed to supporting the conclusion that I have read out. They have agreed that these are the conclusions to which they have come after hearing all the evidence which was put together so ably by Senator Greenwood in the interim report, although I think he exhibited one of his continual faults- I do not criticise him for it- in that he may have over-talked in the report. Perhaps that is why not a great many honourable senators or members of Parliament have taken the trouble to read the report. The late Ben Chifley said: ‘If you put it on one page the Minister will read it; if you put it on 2 pages the secretary will read it; but if you put it on 3 pages no one will read it’. I think that is what happens when we receive this sort of report.
There are 800 pages of very valuable information in this report. The Committee came to its conclusions not lightly but only after hearing a lot of evidence. I want to refer to some of the evidence that was given. When I mention page numbers I will be referring to the ronoed transcript of evidence. Professor D. P. O ‘Connell, who is regarded as one of the top men in the law of the sea in the world, not just in Australia, gave evidence before the Committee in Adelaide. He stated at page 2517 that there was considerable doubt as to the ability of the State to legislate with respect to the Continental Shelf. In his mind there was considerable doubt as to whether the States could legislate, although the States as a whole in a general submission had asserted that they could legislate for this purpose. At page 2521 Professor O ‘Connell stated:
Because the States may have no power to legislate extra- territorially and because the Commonwealth has restricted legislative power under the Constitution there could be an area of legal vacuum.
Of course that again raises a point for legal jurisdiction. It is a question of what the powers of the Commonwealth are under its external affairs power. If I speak to my Leader who is the present Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) he will tell me that there is no question about the powers of the Commonwealth under the external affairs power. But if I speak to some other legal people they will tell me that the question has not been resolved and that the High Court has not enunciated a decision with respect to the external affairs power generally. There have been some decisions in specific cases but not generally. Professor O’Connell stated at page 2533 that the State boundaries are frozen at 1900 and that if you add anything to them it becomes Commonwealth territory. That is not quite right, of course, because the submerged land area never becomes Commonwealth territory.
The Commonwealth may have sovereign jurisdiction in the area but if it were territory of the Commonwealth then section 122 of the Constitution would allow the Commonwealth to pass whatever legislation it liked for the area just as it can in the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory. Sovereign jurisdiction in the area given by the terms of the Convention on the Continental Shelf does not make the seabed to the continental shelf territory of the Commonwealth. Professor O’Connell casts another doubt at page 2434 where he states:
It is arguable whether the State law is extended to the adjacent area.
Some few months ago there was a case in Western Australia. Senator Durack would know of it. The State authorities took action against one Robinson for blowing up a wreck at Trial Rock. The State took action under the Western Australian criminal code. In the lower court proceedings the Crown Law people were prepared to argue the extent of the boundaries of Western Australia. But on appeal to the Supreme Court they were not prepared to sustain that argument. The learned Chief” Justice, Sir Lawrence Jackson, found that as Trial Rock was 12 miles distant from the Monte Bello Islands it was not in the State of Western Australia. Surely there is a restriction. I must be honest with the Senate. The criminal code of Western Australia is applied to the State of Western Australia. But if there were any truth in the submission made by Western Australia in conjunction with the other States that it had the right, as the coastal State, over the shores of Western Australia then the criminal code of Western Australia would have extended to that area. But the learned Chief Justice found that the criminal code of Western Australia did not extend into that area. So there is now one decision that at least Western Australia has no jurisdiction in this area.
– Was it a submerged island or was there some dry land?
– No, it was a submerged reef.
– But many miles off the coast.
– It is 12 miles from the Monte Bello Islands.
– They are 100 miles or more away, are they not?
– Yes. There is a decision from the Supreme Court of Western Australia which completely blows the submission made by Western Australia in conjunction with the other States that it has jurisdiction in this area. Of course the States would argue with respect to the Convention that the Commonwealth is only acting on their behalf and that once the Convention was entered into by the Commonwealth on behalf of the States then they would have sovereign jurisdiction in that area for their own State. I do not believe that that argument can be sustained. If it can be sustained, then let them sustain it in the High Court. Let us pass this legislation and let the States challenge it in the High Court. Let us once and for all know where sovereign jurisdiction lies. At page 2535 Professor O’Connell stated:
Matters which are extra-territorial and international should be brought under central regulation.
There the Professor is referring to the regulation of the areas by 7 different designated authorities. I ask honourable senators to remember that this legislation was passed in 1967. No regulations were made up to this date. Provision is made in the legislation for the Designated Authority to issue directions. He issues directions in what might be termed, for want of another word, regulations. While there was uniformity until Western Australia and South Australia seceded from the legislation, there is no uniformity in the directions issued by the designated authorities. If honourable senators are careful to read this report they will see that there is considerable criticism by the Committee of the amount of discretion which resides in the various designated authorities. Matters which are left to the discretion of the various designated authorities should have been matters of this substantive legislation and should not have been left at large.
There is no uniformity of regulation, although there is a mirror Act. As a matter of fact, the regulation runs foul of being able to do anything in certain areas. This was brought out in evidence in relation to the deep sea divers employed in this industry. They are a scarce commodity in the world today. The Designated Authority was unable to prescribe rules for diving at depths greater than 180 feet. The diving had to be done under special circumstances. The divers had to use helium gas. No one in Australia understood sufficient about helium gas to be able to give proper directions as to how that diving should be performed. Only 3 weeks ago I met a deputation from the professional divers association, and it informed me that the position in Australia has not been resolved to date. Professor O’Connell’s statement is pertinent to having the jurisdiction in the one place, and that should be with the Australian Government. As reported at page 2538 of the transcript, the Professor said:
The Act does not extend any State law into the adjacent area if that law would be beyond the legislative competence of the Commonwealth (section 9).
I do not want to argue extensively section 9 of the Act because I believe that the interpretation of it held up the committee for over 2 years, trying to find out exactly what section 9 did. Section 9(1) transports and applies all the laws of Australia, whether written or unwritten, and instruments made under those laws into the waters of the continental shelf of Australia. They are very wide terms. The word ‘instruments’ has some restrictions upon it. The Committee was unable to say whether an award made under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was an instrument. I believe that there is insufficient law on this question. If an award made under that Act is not an instrument it would not apply in this area. One of the Committee ‘s recommendations was that subsection ( 1 ) should clarify the position by the addition to the words ‘instruments made under those Acts’ the word ‘awards’.
In section 9 (2) the draftsman has said that the laws which are transported and applied in this area are laws applicable only to the exploration and exploitation of petroleum products. That means, to take a simple case, that the criminal law does not apply in this area. We had evidence from legal people in Victoria, and I questioned the counsel who appeared before the Committee as to whether the advice of senior counsel had been sought. He agreed that it had been sought. A pay packet was stolen from one of the men on a pipe-laying barge. A legal firm was asked to advise whether a prosecution could ensue. On the interpretation of section 9 (2), it was not possible to institute proceedings under the criminal code of Victoria. This is the sort of thing which one finds in section 9.
In section 9 (3) the draftsman protects himself once again by saying that the laws which are transported and applied in this area are only those laws which the Commonwealth Parliament can pass. Dependent upon a proper interpretation of the external affairs power, but looking at that power as it has presently been interpreted, one is faced with the restrictions imposed by the Commonwealth Constitution in this area. I will instance a case. There was an industrial dispute on a pipe-laying barge in Bass Strait. Conciliation Commissioner Watson was asked to resolve that dispute. The conclusion to which he came was that as the dispute did not extend beyond the boundaries of a State it was not within his jurisdiction, and he was unable to resolve it. This is the type of restriction that one gets with section 9.
Subsections (4) and (5) of section 9 are the most extraordinary subsections because they allow regulations to be made which would make any of the laws which are transported and applied in this area non-operative. That means that a regulation can be made. For instance, the subsections say that the Workers Compensation Act does not apply in this area. One must remember that a regulation can be made on the last sitting day of a parliament. It can operate during the recess and for 1 5 sitting days of the next sitting of the Parliament. Workers could be injured out in this area- it is a highly intensive injury area- and no workers compensation legislation applies. I do not want to say any more about section 9, but it is an illustration of why there should be resolution of this problem.
– Did not Western Australia and South Australia amend those provisions to try to overcome some of the difficulties to which Professor O ‘Connell adverted?
– If the very short second reading speech in the South Australian Parliament is looked at, it was as a result of evidence before the Senate Select Committee that the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General agreed that sections 9, 1 1, and 101 should be amended. Only South Australia firstly and then Western Australia adhered to that agreement. I pose this question: What is the position with regard to clause 6 of the non-justiciable agreement which underpins this legislation? Are those States inside or outside the legislation? Are the other 4 States of the Commonwealth inside or outside the legislation?
– The present Government seems to have taken the same view that the previous Government took in relation to the Commonwealth sphere.
– I pose the question. It has to be resolved. The only way that I can see its being resolved is by the High Court. This matter will not get to the High Court unless this Parliament passes a measure and lets someone challenge it.
– What is the alternative?
– There is no alternative.
– What about a challenge to the Pipeline Authority Act?
– That could be done. At least, a legal authority told me that it could be done. I do not know what the Attorney-General would think about it, or even what the exAttorneyGeneral would think. If the Pipeline Authority Act transgresses the Australian Constitution it could be subject to challenge. The onus is on those who say that the legislation setting up the Pipeline Authority is invalid to prove their points, and they prove them by going to the High Court. The remedy is there for them. The High Court is the protector of the Constitution, and no one else. For people in this place to say that that legislation is invalid is ridiculous. The legal men can have opinions as to whether it is valid but only the Justices of the High Court will say whether it is. When they say so they may be wrong but there is no one to tell them that they are wrong.
At page 2256 Professor O’Connell questioned the security of title beyond the 200 metre mark. He said that it was in doubt. I am not capable of arguing whether that is correct but it is well known that the Government in most cases refrained from issuing permits to explore beyond that mark. Some permits for Bass Strait were issued to the Magellan company which has the Merenie-Palm Valley oil and gas but very little else was done. A representative of one of the big exploration companies came to me in Perth a couple of years ago and asked my opinion on whether the Commonwealth would be prepared to issue titles to areas in deeper water off-shore in Western Australia. Of course my answer only could be that that company would have to consult the Government. I am not the government and the Government has its own policy. Professor O ‘Connell cast doubt on any permit issued in this area outside the 200 metre limit. At page 2593 he was reported as having said:
If the whole operation off-shore were under one unitary authority there would be less reason for legal argument.
That was the final conclusion Professor O’Connell came to. His opinion was that if it was under one authority there would be less room for legal argument.
– Do you know whether he agrees with those comments today?
- His mind may have been broadened in the four or five years since he gave evidence to the Committee: I do not know. On the other hand his mind may have become more fixed. Nevertheless those were the opinions he expressed under cross-examination at that time. He was not the only person who thought that one authority should be in control of this area. Mr Pettingell, a man who has been talked about a lot in this place within the last couple of days, was reported at page 1773 as having said:
Because they are resources of national significance they should be under Australian control.
At page 1774 he was quoted as having said that national control was preferable to State control. Dr Hunter, who unfortunately is not alive now, was then at the Australian National University and at page 2344 he was quoted as stating:
A single authority controlling goods or raw materials is to be preferred.
I do not know whether I should go through all these quotations.
– They are interesting. Give us some more.
– The Leader of the Opposition in Queensland, Mr Houston, gave evidence and I suppose this would be a political answer. I do not know whether it could be said now after the recent visits to see the Queen about the Privy Council. At page 709 the Leader of the Opposition in Queensland was quoted as having said:
There could be certain advantages in central control provided the States’ financial interests were protected.
I do not think the Commonwealth said at any time that the financial interests of the States would not be protected. Professor G. S. Reid of the University of Western Australia was quoted at page 1424 as having said that there should be uniform control. That could mean anything, of course; it may even mean the mirror legislation but at least he said that the control should be uniform. But the control is not uniform despite the Act of Parliament which was passed because the directions given by the designated authorities are not uniform. At page 1444 Professor Reid said that there was need for central control. At page 1447 he said that there should be sole Commonwealth government control. The next man I intend to quote is known to pretty well everyone here, particularly the legal men who decorate this chamber. I refer to Professor J. E. Richardson, who said at page 1 509:
The Act should provide for complete responsibility by the Commonwealth for the Commonwealth Act. . . the Royalty Act should be amended to provide for payment of royalties to authority exercising powers of DA.
There was no thought in Professor Richardson’s mind of not protecting the financial interests of the States as enunciated by Mr Houston but he did say that there should be complete responsibility by the Commonwealth. At page 1540 Professor Richardson was quoted as having said that the Commonwealth had fallen down by placing administration of the Act in the hands of the States. On the same page he was reported as having said that the Commonwealth should have an overriding authority. Professor Cowen, of the University of New England, was reported at page 2084 as having said:
Fragmentation of responsibility may well not serve our interests.
He was referring to the Act that fragmented the responsibility among 7 different authorities. Professor Sawer, of the Australian National University, was reported on page 344 as having said that it would have been better to put the whole matter in the hands of one central authority. I will get away from the legal men for a while although this is a very legal Bill.
– There are some legal men who did not give similar evidence to that which you have quoted.
– I only know about the evidence that they gave us. Mr McGarry, who at the time was chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, said at page 2954:
Unless you have one body you could not have this approach. There must always be variances. The overseas companies are the ones that would like one body.
Of course, the important companies exploring for oil in Australia are the overseas companies. Mr McGarry gave evidence not on behalf of himself but on behalf of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association. I do not want to proceed to give more, but several other references in the evidence support the argument that the authority should be in one place. We cannot find out whether it will be in one place unless we assert the authority in this Parliament and have it challenged in the High Court so that that Court may rule on it. The first quotation that I want to make comes from a highly esteemed member of the Liberal Party.
-Who is that?
-Sir Robert Menzies. In 1965, Sir Robert said this:
The question, of course, inevitably has arisen between the Commonwealth and the States as to who has the jurisdiction. The States say that within the territorial limits- which, being old-fashioned, we call within the three-mile limit- they have the sole jurisdiction. We don’t agree with that as a matter of law, but we on the other hand assert the outside territorial limits and on the Continental Shelf, which has a total area about twenty times the size of the territorial waters, the jurisdiction belongs to the Commonwealth.
That was said by Sir Robert Menzies who, apart form being a very astute and very well respected member of Parliament, has a not inconsiderable knowledge of the law. He does not admit that the States have authority over the territorial sea; he is quite adamant that they have nothing outside the territorial sea.
I do not want to weary honourable senators, but I should like to quote what was said by a former President of the International Court of Justice and very prominent member of the Liberal Party, Sir Percy Spender, in an address to the Australian Conservation Foundation. He had no doubts that the Commonwealth had the power from the low-water mark out. He is a legal authority who cannot be lightly brushed off. It is true- I admit this-that Sir Percy Spender was addressing a gathering when he said this; he was not making a decision as a result of argument placed before him. As honourable senators will understand, there is quite a difference between making a decision as a result of argument and making a decision as a result of arguing with oneself To that extent, there may be a weakness in what Sir Percy Spender had to say. But the quality of his legal ability cannot be disputed and his capacity to arrive at this decision cannot be disputed. He put the result of what he said in 3 short paragraphs, as follows:
Those are strong words from such a learned man. It is well known to everyone here, I think, that in a case in the High Court against a fisherman who operated off the coast of New South Wales- the La Macchia case, if I might refer to it as such- a former Federal Attorney-General and now Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, concluded that the Commonwealth had sovereign jurisdiction from the low-water mark. He was supported by Mr Justice Windeyer in that conclusion. So there is ample reason to believe that the Commonwealth should assert its authority in this area and that it is neglecting its responsibility to the people of Australia if it does not do so, because if the question of jurisdiction to operate in this area is not settled numbers of people in this country will be done irreparable harm.
I want to say this while I have the opportunity: The first fatal accident connected with drilling for oil off-shore in Australia that I can recall occurred in 1967 at a well drilled by the WoodsideBurmah Company ofT Ashmore Island. The dependants of that worker have not yet received workers compensation. In fact, workers compensation has not been paid to any diver operating in the waters around Australia.
– Do you know the reason?
– There are various reasons. I was talking the other day to divers who came to see me and even they were not quite sure of the place of their engagement. They did not know where to take action. It is not a sufficient answer to say- I hope I do not name anyone wrongly, but I think it was Mr Murray of Victoria who said it- ‘They can take action in this court, and if this is not the right court they can go to another court’. Workers and their dependants- in particular, their dependants- should not be put in that position in order to obtain their rights.
– Have these people you have mentioned taken legal advice? Has action been instituted? What has happened?
– I understand that the Professional Divers Association has sought legal advice on the question. The company that employs the men is no longer resident in Australia. Honourable senators will remember that during the hearing of the Committee, Divcon Australasia Pty Ltd moved its quarters to Singapore and it is still there. An opinion was expressed before the Committee that some of these diving contractors had their workers insured under American law. The only place, of course, where action can be taken under American law is in America. There is no court anywhere outside America that -
– What about Hawaii?
-Hawaii is a State of America. There is no court outside America that can exercise American jurisdiction. In fact when Conciliation Commissioner Clarkson made an award he put into it a clause to protect workers for workers compensation. I do not know the validity of the award in the face of what Conciliation Commissioner Watson found at least Commissioner
Clarkson made an award for the off shore areas of Victoria. Not only was the question of where action should be taken to protect these people involved but also at that time the Victorian law contained a provision that workers earning more than $6,000 a year were not classified as workers. As the divers were paid more than $6,000 a year they did not come within the jurisdiction of the Victorian Act concerning workers compensation. This is the sort of position that honourable senators opposite must face up to when they look at this legislation and determine whether or not they are prepared to support it. We cannot continue in this state of hiatus any longer, not knowing who has what. The sooner this matter is cleared up the better.
One other thing which I wish to say is that the legislation that was passed came into operation on 1 April 1968. Under the provisions of that legislation permits for areas of 10,000 square miles were issued. Permits had been issued for larger areas for a much longer period. In fact Western Australian Petroleum had had permit areas in offshore Western Australia since 1951. Next year and early in 1975 half of these areas will become subject to surrender. The Commonwealth Government should administer those areas that are surrendered and it should not be left to the States to dish them out as they like and perhaps even give them back to the people who have not explored the areas while they have had the permits.
– Under the agreement the States’ decision is subject to Commonwealth approval.
-That is qualified, as the honourable senator well knows. I do not know whether the qualification has been used, but the qualification is there. My allotment of time is running out and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation for the Australian Government to have sovereign jurisdiction in the areas from the low water mark to the continental shelfwhatever that may be because there is still a United Nations conference on it. Whatever the sovereign jurisdiction it should reside in this place. I ask honourable senators to give urgent consideration to not delaying this measure. Let us get it on the statute books and let the States challenge and let the High Court decide the issue for us. We are not capable of deciding the issue for ourselves.
– I do not think I will take quite as long to put my case as did Senator Cant, but I think it will be a much better case. I am against this legislation at the present time. I will state my reasons. The main point of this legislation is contained in clause 6 of the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill which states:
It is by this Act declared and enacted that the sovereignty in respect of the territorial sea, and in respect of the airspace over it and in respect of its bed and subsoil, is vested in and exercisable by the Crown in right of the Commonwealth.
That is the whole story. We are told that the Commonwealth has sovereignty from the low water mark. This legislation was originally introduced about 3 years ago. At that time some considerable difference of opinion existed among the members of the then Government. It was decided to refer the matter to the States for conference and to see whether some arrangement or agreement could be made with them.
I do not believe that this matter has been pursued fully. I believe that the States are not so uncompromising that they will not agree to a decision being reached as to where a line of demarcation should be drawn. The 3-mile limit is not mentioned in any international law that I know of but perhaps at a further conference of the States some sort of agreement can be made. I believe that conditions are very much different in my State of Queensland in the sense that we have many islands and reefs. There is also the question of the actual extent of our boundary. The position of the low water mark is even in doubt. At low tide where is low water mark when there is such a huge area of reef out of the water? It is a very big problem as to where the control should actually lie. I believe the people of my State will fight to the limit against any suggestion of taking away control of the Barrier Reef from them.
Section 5 1 of the Australian Constitution spells out the powers of the Parliament and states:
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
Sub-section (x) states:
Fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits.
What will happen to fisheries within territorial limits if this Bill is passed. What are territorial limits? They have never been spelt out. I think some sort of agreement can be adopted with the States on some definite mileages of territorial limits. It could be 3 miles or 12 miles, within which we control the fishing.
Queensland is in a far different position from the other States because of the maze of islands and reefs and the great area of shallow water which extends almost to the Papuan boundary and SO or 60 miles out from the coast. I should like to quote some history concerning the control of the waters off the coast of Queensland. I take my quote from ‘Triumph in the Tropics’ by Lack and Cilento which was published 14 or 15 years ago and which reads:
When Queensland was separated from New South Wales in 1 859 her rights were not clearly denned regarding the islands off the coast. Letters patent dated 6 June 1859 and letters patent dated 13 March 1862 transferred to Queensland ‘all and every adjacent islands, etc.,’ but, what was ‘adjacent?’
In 186S, the Governor of New South Wales granted a lease of Raine Island -
That is 6 years after Queensland became a separate State- (latitude 1 1 degrees 35 minutes South; longitude 144 degrees 1 minute East), which is on the outer edge of the Barrier Reef and about 60 miles from the coast of Queensland.
On 30 May 1872, the Governor of Queensland was appointed Governor of all islands within 60 miles of the coast and these islands were transferred to Queensland by Government Gazette 1872, Vol. l,pp. 1325-6.
By letters patent dated 10 October 1878, Queensland was authorised to annex by Proclamation the islands beyond the 60-mile limit. By G.G. 1879, Vol. 1, pp. 1379-80; and G.G. 1879, Vol. II, p. 143, the boundaries of Queensland were extended to include all islands of the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Straits and the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The passing of the Imperial ‘Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act’ of 1901 rendered it necessary to issue a new Commission to the Governor of Queensland. Letters patent dated 29 October 1900 did not confirm those letters patent dated 10 October 1878.
This is the interesting part and honourable senators will note the date. It continues:
To place the matter beyond doubt, a fresh Commission was issued to the Governor of Queensland on 10 June 1925.
That is 25 years after Federation. This was as a result of letters patent from the imperial authorities in Westminster, and the letters patent spell out the result quite clearly:
The maritime boundary of Queensland is the coastline from Point Danger to the 138th meridian in the Gulf of Carpentaria, together with all islands within the outer edge of the Barrier Reef and within a line drawn from the north-western point of the Reef to the 1 38th meridian.
I believe that that spells out what the imperial authorities in Westminster and the Queensland Government of the day believed was the territory which they controlled, and I have the authority to show that. The maritime boundary of Queensland includes all the Barrier Reef, all the shallow waters and each and every island. If one adopted a 3-mile limit around each and every island or rock which is above water at hight tide, it would cover a tremendous area in that part of Australia. I have mentioned that the position in relation to fishing rights is not clear.
– Why is it not clear?
– We have a Constitution which says that the Commonwealth Government cannot control fisheries in territorial waters, as I read out to the Senate a little while ago. The Bill sets out to take control of everything from the low water mark. We have an interesting position. By means of this Bill and another Bill we are trying to spell out the position in relation to royalties on minerals. Is it seriously suggested that if a coal mine or some other mine were put down right on the beach or on a little rocky headland and it had one tunnel which went out to sea for 1 or 2 miles and another tunnel which went shoreward the Commonwealth should get the royalties from the coal or minerals or whatever from one tunnel and not from the other? I think the position becomes ludicrous in many ways. I believe and my Party believes that we should defeat this Bill or defer it until after futher consultation with the States. As I have said before, I have spoken to the Ministers in some of the States and I do not believe it is impossible to reach agreement with them. The Commonwealth has an agreement in relation to oil royalties.
– On what percentage would you let them cut it up?
– We are talking about minerals found under the waters extremely close to the shore, and I do not think there would be any difficulty in cutting up the areas close to the shore. I suggest that the Commonwealth should have another conference with the States. If what the Government suggests is carried out we will have a very big mix-up involving interminable legal battles. The Government wants to pass this Bill willy nilly and try to arrive at some sort of law by a series of legal battles. I do not believe that is feasible. I do not think that the legislation should be passed at this stage in its present form. As a Queenslander I intend to fight as hard as I can to prevent the control of the Barrier Reef passing out of the hands of Queenslanders. I believe that the legislation should be deferred so that we can have another look at it or so that we can have another conference with the States. I am totally opposed to the Bill in its present form.
-I commend the lead speaker for the Government, Senator Cant, on the very knowledgeable way in which he outlined the current legislation and the proposed legislation. I think that he handled the legal side of the matter excellently and I do not propose to devote any more time to it. However, I wish to refer to a number of aspects which certainly have not been clarified by Senator Lawrie. I assume that Senator Lawrie was putting the official case for the National Party. He almost had me in tears. I could see him grazing his stock on the sea grass. I believe that the attitude of the Opposition is summed up in a very brief newspaper article which I propose to read. It was published just before the end of the first sessional period of this Parliament. Under a Canberra byline the article states:
The Federal Liberal Party has changed its mind again about who should control the seas around Australia. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, yesterday said his party would not support in the Senate a Bill asserting Commonwealth control.
In the House of Representatives last week, the Liberals allowed the legislation to be passed.
The legislation was originally introduced 3 years ago–
Yet Senator Lawrie is calling for yet one more conference with the State Ministers - by the Liberal-Country Party government of Mr John Gorton.
But after a party meeting on Monday night, the Liberals decided more time was needed for a decision.
The Opposition Leader in the Senate, Senator Withers, will therefore move to have a decision deferred until Parliament meets again for the Budget session.
The main reason for the last minute switch is opposition from State Premiers.
Then the article goes on to say how the State Premiers had decided to approach the Privy Council in London to get a declaration that the Federal Government had no rights over the territorial seas and the continental shelf. The article then continues:
The about-face of the Liberals was by no means unanimous.
The former Navy Minister, Mr Jim Killen, walked out of the Party meeting on Monday night as soon as he learned the question was to be discussed again.
Mr Killen and Mr Gorton have been strong supporters of Commonwealth control.
I could hardly believe my ears when the matter came up yet again’, Mr Killen said last night. ‘After 3 years we are still trying to make up our minds ‘.
After 3.5 years the National Party is still trying to make up its mind, too.
-The National Party. I think Senator Lawrie is the official spokesman. There is no truth in the rumour, of course, that he will be appointed as the Governor of Queensland after secession. This country is becoming a laughing stock around the world. The International Conference on the Law of the Sea will be held in 1974 and we will probably be the only country to go there and say that we have not yet made up our minds on what to do. I do not accept the statements of Senator Lawrie that the imperial orders given some 45 years ago under letters patent from Westminster are the be all and the end all so far as the law is concerned. Then he created further confusion by saying that he was not sure what had happened to the fish in the sea because there was conflict between the orders from Westminster and the Australian Constitution as they applied to Queensland. It is true that Queensland is likely to fight to prevent any sort of law of this nature being passed. There are people in Queensland who are interested not only in what is in the sea but also, and particularly, in what is below the sea. I refer particularly to the possibility of extensive deposits of hydrocarbons being found anywhere from south of the Gulf of Papua down to the bottom end of the Great Barrier Reef. Should there be legislative enactment of this Parliament to protect the environment, the marine environment in particular, and, as Senator Lawrie said, the air above the sea and the soil below the seabed, it will mean that there will be resistance, Queensland leading the way, from those areas in which there is a vested interest in what might be extracted from the sea. When the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources was established it took some 3.5 years to compile its report and extensive evidence was gathered. Some parliamentary committees which were sitting concurrently with this Committee decided that although some matters that were being investigated by the Senate Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources were covered by their terms of reference it was not necessary for them to carry out such investigations because that Senate Committee was already making extensive inquiries. We spent a lot of money and a lot of time compiling that report. It is with some feeling of modesty, as a member of that Committee, that I say it is probably one of the most comprehensive reports ever compiled by any committee of the Senate.
– Was it a unanimous report?
– No, it was not an unanimous report. As a matter of fact, it is very interesting to note that the dissenting report made by the then Opposition members on the Committee is today just about solely the law of the land in these matters except for some minor amendments that still have to be carried into legislative effect. A part of the dissent report headed: ‘Interstate Trade-National Pipelines Policy’ reads:
That aspect of the minority report is well on the way to implementation as a national outlook by a national government. I say again modestly that it is a very comprehensive piece of legislation. As Senator Cant pointed out in reply to an interjection from an Opposition senator, the legislation might be the subject of challenge. The senators who compiled the minority report inserted the qualifying line: -this may require the co-operation of the States-
However, to date there has been no challenge of this nature. Then, we went on to recommend a number of other things concerning pricing and other matters which do not have a great deal to do with the Bill currently before the Senate. But there are other aspects, particularly in relation to the preservation of the environment. On page 460 of the report there is a statement taken from the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which takes up the statement that I made a few moments ago. It is stated:
This Committee, during its public hearings in Queensland, was tendered evidence of concern over possible pollution of the Great Barrier Reef, but we did not pursue this as a particular area of investigation since it was understood that the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources had received a great deal of evidence on the subject.
However, we share the common concern for the future of the Reef and welcome the actions being taken to protect this great and unique natural wonder of the world.
I quote paragraph 13.2 of the introduction dealing with conservation and the marine environment:
In Australia, also, considerable public controversy has been aroused over the question of whether drilling for oil should be permitted on the Great Barrier Reef. Much of this controversy has been engendered by fears of damage to the Reef in the event of an oil spillage. Many witnesses approached the Committee seeking to give evidence on this question.
In the case of the oil tanker the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ which ran aground on a reef in the Torres Strait on 3 March 1970, the containers of that ship punctured to the extent that almost 250,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled into the sea. Of course, this matter was supposed to be the responsibility of the State. We had the Premier of Queensland saying at that time that little or no damage had taken place.
– Who was the Premier?
-Premier Holy Joe, otherwise as known as the honourable Johannes Bjelke-Petersen. At the time I had the opportunity to do an aerial inspection of the area. There were large drifts of oil floating in various directions. It was emphasised by the Premier and others on his behalf that no damage had been done to the environment. We find that this was a complete misstatement of fact. As a result of that oil spillage the cultured pearl industry is now virtually non-existent in the Torres Strait area. The shellfish that were not destroyed by the drift of oil were subsequently destroyed by the very potent detergents that were used to clean up the oil. I quote again from page 460, paragraph 1 3.3 of the report:
The Committee was charged in term of reference 1 (g) to examine ‘the provisions of the legislation generally’ and it was aware that the legislation (in section 124) makes specific reference to ‘the conservation of the resources of the sea and sea-bed’. The Committee therefore considered it desirable to hear evidence and give detailed study to not only the question of the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, but also to the wider question of the conservation of the whole off-shore area of Australia from any possible deleterious effects of exploration for, and exploitation of, petroleum.
I might add that at this time, as the result of wide publicity, the Queensland Government and the then federal Government decided that they would co-operate in establishing a royal commission to examine the problems associated with exploitation and exploration of the Great Barrier Reef. After the announcement had been made by the Prime Minister of the day there was a lengthy period of time in which certain people who were apparently anxious not to have too many pro-reef preservation people on the royal commission continually held up proceedings. The report was compiled but the position is now like a Blue Hills or a Bellbird serial. The report was to be made available, I think, late last year; then it was to be made available early this year; and then it was to be made available in September. We are now reliably or unreliably informed that the report will probably not be available until March or April 1974. 1 return again to quote from the report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources at page 461: 13.4 To examine this question adequately the Committee found it necessary to range wider than would at first have appeared necessary. The Committee was concerned, however, to ensure that:
The State, . . . cannot say: “We want to preserve the primitive beauty of the coastline and no mining at all can be carried on.” I think that this is an extreme conservationist approach which does not benefit the State. On the other hand another extreme approach is expressed in this policy: “Let us get all of the minerals from anywhere as quickly as possible. “ That does not benefit the State either. That is the extreme exploitationist approach. Somewhere in the middle the whole solution of these two interests can be worked out . . .’
That can be worked out most adequately by having this legislation that is before the Senate passed by both Houses of the Parliament. I understand that another matter has to be dealt with. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-by leave- I rise to speak on the White Paper on the Australian health insurance program that was tabled this afternoon. I move:
This is an important document. It is one that must be understood by the people of Australia in order that the measures which the Government seeks to implement might also be understood. It has been said- completely incorrectly- that this White Paper is markedly different from the Deeble Committee’s report, so different that the headlands and the ideas behind the Government’s national health scheme would be acceptable to the majority of people, including the Opposition.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the White Paper is a sugar coated Deeble Committee report. It contains all the fundamental defects and all the fundamental ideas of the Deeble Committee’s report, dressed up in public relations language with glib phrases and many inaccuracies of statement and statistics. To understand this is to understand that on matters of fundamentals the White Paper perpetuates those fundamentals which would, if implemented, destroy the concept of the health scheme as it is known today and put in its place a scheme which is a rigid and socialist type scheme, one which impels compulsion and one which would destroy the key and fundamental relationship between doctor and patient.
I say emphatically that this scheme and this White Paper continues the compulsory tax levy which in fact brings about a monolithic government health scheme which in essence destroys the voluntary health schemes. True they are to be propped up by some allowance of health funds to continue to finance private wards; true there is to be some vestidual remnant of medical health funds to finance some parts of the medical scheme including para-medical schemes which a benign socialist Government will not finance itself. But the fact is that all people will be compelled to pay a tax levy and in effect the voluntary health schemes will disappear as they are known today.
The second headland is the emphasis throughout on financing hospitals on one basis and on one basis only by government, and that is that the Government through its compulsory health scheme will pay only for a patient in a standard ward or a public ward. The emphasis that the Government is perpetuating is that it wants the standard ward to be the normal and the private ward to be the abnormal; the public hospital with major standard wards to be the normal and the private hospitals to wither on the vine. It has some fine words which pretend otherwise, but there it stands. The White Paper continues to make the socialist difficulties of access to the medical practitioner. Inside the hospitals the specialist in the standard ward must be essentially sessional in payment or salaried. Fee for service as it applies to the specialist and the consultant will shrink markedly. There is some access of the private doctor to the so called private wards but there would be a limitation. But above everything, through the instrument of billing patients the whole fundamental relationship of doctor and patient will be changed.
Today when a patient goes to a doctor of his or her choice and receives a bill and pays it and gets 85 per cent or thereabouts back from a fund, the patient is the employer of the doctor and his skills. It is the patient who enters the contract, pays the bill and is the employer. If the Government gets its way and the great majority, if not all, of doctors cease to bill the patient and have a euphemism called ‘assignment’, which is really bulk billing, the patient will pay nothing and the relationship between the doctor and the patient is altered fundamentally. It is not the patient who employs the doctor; it is the Government that employs the doctor- the Government in fact pays the doctor- and this fundamental is destroyed.
Furthermore, if bulk billing which is mentioned in the White Paper is carried on as set out in the paper the squeeze will be on the private practitioner, despite all the honeyed phrases, not to bill the patient at all. There is one incredible concept in the White Paper which proposes that a patient getting an account from the doctor may send the account direct to the Government’s health commission and the health commission will then send a cheque to the patient made out to the doctor for 85 per cent of the bill. The cheque will be sent not to the doctor but to the patient. Of course, the aim of this is very simple.
The aim is to do everything that is possible to get the patient to say to the doctor: ‘There is your cheque- that is all you are going to get’. If an alternative is given in terms of payment the tendency will be for the patient to say: ‘No, you can bulk bill because if you do this I will not have to pay 15 per cent’. Under tins system there is no choice. It is Buckley’s choice in terms of bulk billing. Incredibly this proposition narrows the options open to a patient.
The former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, brought in a. maximum ceiling of $5 for a group procedure so that a patient having major surgical or medical procedures would find that for any of these procedures he would pay, if the common fee was observed, only $5. Let it be quite clear that this White Paper says that no longer shall there be group procedures but for every single procedure that can be enacted, whether it be firstly for the general practitioner, secondly for the specialist, thirdly for the pathologist, fourthly for the radiologist, fifthly for the surgeon and sixthly for the anaesthetist, an extra $5 is put on the ceiling. This is the Government that pretends that this is a straightforward scheme.
This scheme was sold to the people at election time on a primary basis which was: ‘We the Labor Party will be able to handle the doctors. They are charging too much in fees. They are money grabbers. Only we will be able to force down their fees’. The Labor Party said that the doctors were charging too much and that only it would be able to cause fee adherence. The simple fact of the matter is this, and the public understands it: A medical tribunal was set up by this Government. The tribunal studied the submission from the Australian Medical Association on fees. The medical tribunal of this Government and the Government itself adopted the very fees put forward by the AMA which all last year and at the beginning of this year the Labor Party used as the bogey man to frighten the people. In fact, what happened was that the tribunal set up by the Government proved that the Doctors were right and the Government was wrong.
Having said this, and the main skeleton having now gone, I ask what has happened in regard to this matter? The Labor Party in opposition said: We will have a scheme to force fee adherence’. Both the Deeble Committee and the White Paper admit that they have only one answer on this. That is the implied threat that, if a ‘yes ‘ vote is recorded at the prices referendum on 8 December, price control may be used by the Government. It means simply that, if the Government uses price control and bulk billing on the doctor, the Government has the doctor in a squeeze and this makes it easier for him to be a salaried doctor rather than to operate on a fee for service basis. So, I restate the position on the great headlands: On fee fixing the Government has been proven wrong; on fee adherence it has nothing but the threat of the use of price control and, therefore, through bulk billing the threat of nationalisation of doctors. Has the Government a solution to the problem of the cost of refraction treatment- the testing of eyes for eye ailments? No. The White Paper says: ‘We have not an answer. We are thinking about it’.
Let us examine the situation. There is running through this White Paper the thought: ‘We have put some berley on the water for the private hospitals by increasing their daily bed subsidy. That will make them look as though they are not for the slaughter’. The truth of the matter is that inherent in this is a forcing of the standard work concept. There is a toe in the door already. The Government suggests that it will encourage private hospitals to start standard wards. Once it gets its foot in the door for standard wards in private hospitals, with government control of the purse, private hospitals will be strangled and the standard ward concept will become accepted. It would be fatal if any private hospital thought that because the Government had increased the daily bed subsidy its problem had been ameliorated in any way. The contrary is the case.
In the limited time available to me I want to deal with the basic and inherent defects in this report. The report says that the scheme has been devised to do 4 main things- to cover all the people instead of only part; to have no means test at all; to service the poor areas where doctors will not willingly go; and to finance the scheme on the capacity to pay basis. A fifth point is that the Government says that cost rises are imminent and it therefore wants to control this. The figure of 87 per cent coverage now used by the Government is based on a fallacy. The truth of the matter is that taking all people, including those in voluntary insurance schemes, repatriation benefit recipients, pensioners and various other people who are covered in a similar way, something between 92 per cent and 94 per cent of people can be shown to be covered. In the remainder of approximately 6 per cent there are people of affluence who do not want to join a scheme, people who just do not want to join, people with religious beliefs against joining and of course those who, being poor, have not seen the possibilities of relief offered to them in the existing Acts or in Acts that could be brought in.
What is happening is that the government of the day says: ‘In order that we can get that 5 per cent or 6 per cent of people in’- only 1 per cent or 2 per cent of people in this area are underprivileged ‘we will compel 94 per cent of people who are already covered and not seeking more to comply’. There are a dozen different ways of achieving the same thing. If the tax scheme is to be used, let the Commissioner of Taxation have the right to deduct from all income earners an appropriate amount if they cannot prove that they belong to an appropriate health scheme. That is a simple way of doing it. There are a dozen different ways of doing it without punishing the freedom of choice and the pockets of the 94 per cent.
I come now to the question of capacity to pay and I test the humbug that is talked here. A great deal is said to the effect that the present scheme is wrong because a man on $70 a week pays more for health insurance than a man on $400 a week. It is said that he pays, after he gets his tax deductibility, some $20 more. A man on $70 a week gross, allowing for ordinary deductions, pays in a whole year direct tax of about $340. A man on $400 a week gross, allowing for normal deductions, pays $8,000 tax a year on the ordinary tax scale. One man pays $330 or $340; the other pays $8,000. It is right that the second man should pay $8,000 because of his capacity to pay. Out of his contribution comes the main financing of the health scheme because up to twothirdsand it is a growing segment- comes from tax revenue anyhow. If the Government wants to rectify what it sees as an inequity in tax deductions there is a simple thing it can do. It can make a flat rate tax deduction of, say, 35c in the dollar available to every person in respect of what he pays for health insurance, irrespective of his income. The Government would then level it up so that the man on $70 would pay the same as the man on $400. That could be done with a stroke of the pen.
But the words still roll out. The Government says that it will not have a means test. However, a means test is applied in terms of one’s capacity to pay. Have a look at the pensioners and the pensioner medical scheme. Very smartly the White Paper says- in my judgment this will cause considerable anguish- that the Labor Party proposes to establish a means test on pensioners on the same basis as the means test applies today, and if I am any judge the Government will make no allowance for the rising inflation it has caused. So it is completely wrong to talk of there being no means test. The means test runs through the whole of this Paper. If the Government wants all people in- we would agree with that- there are a number of devices that can be used to bring everybody into the scheme. If the Government wants no means test, that can be worked out also. If it wants consideration to be given to a person’s capacity to pay, that is happening now with the tax schedule. If there is one anomaly, it can be rectified with a snap of the fingers.
What the Government says is one thing; what it means is another. It says that it believes in freedom of choice, but it implements a denial of freedom of choice. There is no freedom of choice when a government nationalises the health scheme and does not give people the freedom to choose. If it says ‘Yes, you can cover youself for private wards; we believe in private wards’, why does it now allow a taxpayer under its scheme to pay a special rate so that he can cover himself for a private ward? Why do we need 2 schemes? This is the Government which says ‘We will bring in something different because a multiplicity of health schemes is bad because of overheads’, but immediately proceeds to set up a multiplicity itself. It will have a scheme that will operate in respect of private wards and another that will operate in respect of fringe medical benefits and paramedical benefits. One by one it goes out the window. One by one the attack on private hospitals is written into this. The attack on the specialist practising in hospitals is written into it with the inherent plan for him to be salaried. The attack on the general practitioner is more insidious. It is there, by implication, in that the Government says that it will fix fees through price control. It can fix the fee and then force him into 85 per cent, 80 per cent or 75 per cent as it likes. It can squeeze him until he says: ‘To hell with bookkeeping; I will take a salary’.
The Government says here: ‘Under fee for service some doctors will not practise in poor areas and therefore poor areas do not have the good doctoring which is necessary’. I dispute that. But, supposing it is right, it is competent for this Government at any time to set up salaried doctors in particular areas which need relief. It can do it now. It is doing it in Canberra at the moment and there is nothing at all to stop it if it is proven that it is necessary to set up a community health service. So, all its goals can be achieved with very minor alterations to the present Act or even regulations. But the fact is that the goals it says it has are not the goals it means to achieve. Today the patient is the employer of the general practitioner; tomorrow the Government will be the employer of the general practitioner. Whilst the patient is the employer he can demand skills, time and the quality of the service. When the Government is the employer what will happen is the same as has happened in England and is happening in Canada. There will be overcrowding of waiting rooms and hospitals due to over visiting by patients, with the result that patients with genuine illnesses will not have time to be properly cared for. I seek leave to continue my remarks on another occasion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne)- Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Before I put the question I remind honourable senators that at 8.30 this evening Estimates Committee A will meet in the Senate chamber, Estimates Committee C in committee room No. 1 and Estimates Committee E in committee room LI 7.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- 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 7.1 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Tetracosactrin was transferred from an unrestricted listing to its present restricted listing on 1 December 1972 at the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, an expert committee established under the National Health Act to advise me, as Minister for Health, on matters concerning the listing of drugs as pharmaceutical benefits. In formulating this recommendation the Committee took into account several representations from specialist medical bodies concerning wide-spread, imprudent prescribing of tetracosactrin. The Committee also obtained expert opinion from a number of eminent specialist endocrinologists.
The listing of tetracosactrin will remain under review by the Committee which, in relation to this matter, will continue to consult with relevant specialist medical Colleges and Societies. In accordance with a recent recommendation by the Committee, tetracosactrin will also be available as a benefit, as from I December 1973, with the authority of the relevant Director of Health, for the treatment of-
i ) acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis;
National Anthem (Question No. SIO)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Bills returned by the Governor-General (Question No. 492)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Electoral Bill 1902,
Navigation Bill 1912,
High Court Procedure Bill 1903,
Life Assurance Companies Bill 190S,
Customs Tariff( British Preference) Bill 1906,
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 191 1,
Customs Tariff Bill 1921,
Customs Tariff Bill 1926,
Excise Tariff Bill 1927,
Income Tax Bill 1931,
United Kingdom Grant Bill 1947.
All were returned with recommendations for amendments.
Australian Council for the Arts (Question No. 470)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Executive Officer of the Australian Council for the Arts is shortly to visit China for a period of 12 days. The purpose of the visit is to make a survey of the types of cultural visits by Australians which would be suitable for China; in particular, what might be arranged to coincide with the Australian Trade Exhibition to be held in Peking in October 1974. The visit has been approved by the Oversea Visits Committee.
-On 18 October 1973, Sentor Gietzelt asked me as Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, without notice, about the increase in the price of crude oil in the oil producing countries of the Persian Gulf. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
One third of our oil imports are imported, principally for heavy fuel oil used for industrial purposes, lubricating oil and bitumen. In seeking Australian Government control and direction of our fuel resources, I have been concerned naturally to reduce our dependency on Middle East crude and this concern is reflected in the provisions of the Pipeline Authority Act 1 973 requiring the Authority to secure, control and retain reserves of petroleum adequate to meet the long term needs of the Australian people. The domestic price for our indigenous crude was fixed for a period of five years from September 1970 and will not come up for review until September 1975. Until then the price of Bass Strait crude oil will be $2.06 per barrel, FOB Westernport.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I am informed that:
1 ) The New South Wales and Commonwealth Police had 57 search warrants on 1 April 1973. They searched one premises by invitation and in a second case they had a warrant for a wrongly given address and searched the correct address by invitation.
Does not arise.
The sworn informations and warrants that had been obtained by the Commonwealth have been produced to the Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians. They had been filed in the Court of Petty Sessions, Phillip Street, Sydney.
and (6) Do not arise in view of answer to (4) above.
– Last week, Senator McManus and Senator Wood asked, without notice, questions relating to the wedding tomorrow of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, following reports that the Governor-General had declined an invitation to attend. I undertook to find out what were the facts.
As honourable senators may know, the Prime Minister answered a question about this in the House of Representatives yesterday and I have nothing to add to what he said. I am sure there have been no embarrassments and I know honourable senators will join me in wishing Princess Anne and Captain Phillips every happiness on their wedding day. The Prime Minister’s reply was as follows:
The Governor-General did discuss with me the invitation he had received from the Queen and Prince Philip to attend Princess Anne’s wedding. I know that he also discussed it with the Queen and Prince Philip when they were in Canberra.
This is a matter on which the Governor-General makes up his own mind. I do not consider it appropriate to state what might have been the purport of discussions between His Excellency and me on this or similiar matters nor what I understand was the purport of discussions between His Excellency and the Queen and Prince Philip.
I should inform honourable gentlemen that my memory is that no other Governor-General is attending the wedding. I have not heard, I do not believe, that State Governors were invited to attend the wedding.
Embassies in Canberra: Rates (Question No. 466)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The Minister for Services and Property has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Following negotiations with the Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs it has been agreed that in future all diplomatic properties will be charged for specific services beneficial to the property, such as water, sewerage, engineering services, and parks etc.
Diplomatic properties will continue to be exempt from payment of other elements of the general rate (e.g., public libraries, vacation play centres) under the terms of the Vienna
Convention. The Australian Government will pay the amount for which diplomatic properties are exempt.
Whether the circumstances in which payments are made by the Australian Government in lieu of rates should be extended is a question that can properly be considered only in the overall context of financial relationships between the Australian Government, the State Governments and local government authorites. In that regard, as the Honourable Senator knows, the Government is very much aware of the financial problems being faced by local government authorities. The Government is giving close attention, in developing and implementing its policies, to how best to achieve its objectives of having the role of local government become a fuller and more effective one, and making available to local government resources adequate for its functions.
Accordingly, the Grants Commission Act 1973, which has recently been implemented, authorises the Grants Commission to inquire into applications for assistance by regional organisations of local government as approved for this purpose by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. The Commission’s inquiries will be directed towards recommending special assistance for those authorities or regions which are financially disadvantaged compared with other authorities or regions- because, for example, of relatively low rating capacity or special or additional expenditure requirements not shared by local government generally.
If a Council felt that it suffered unduly as a result of the nonpayment of rates by the Australian Government- if, for example, it believed that it had an unusually high proportion of properties owned by the Australian Government within its bordersit would appear to be open to it, as part of a regional organisation to submit to the Grants Commission that it should receive financial assistance to compensate it for this disability. I cannot, of course, predict the Commission ‘s attitude towards such a submission, or what it might recommend on the matter.
It may also be of interest to the Honourable Senator to learn that this matter has been referred by the Australian Constitutional Convention to one of its Standing Committees for discussion.
Gold-mining Industry Concessions (Question No. 514)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Housing: Lending by Savings Banks (Question No. 446)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
New South Wales- Two and a half years
Victoria- Two years
Queensland- One year
Adelaide- One year
Country areas- Two years
Perth- One year
Country areas- Longer periods according to circumstances.
Tasmania- One year
Australian Capital Territory- The waiting time on the Department of the Capital Territory’s housing list (i.e. about three years)
Darwin- Two years
Alice Springs- Sixteen months
Katherine and Tennant Creek- Eight months Papua New Guinea- One year.
The maximum periods listed above may in very special circumstances be extended e.g. where an officer was building his own home and had been delayed through circumstances beyond his control from meeting the building timetable.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government has on numerous occasions in the past made known its views that all countries should respect the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which the right to emigrate is an essential pan. As leader of the Australian Delegation I stressed in my statement to the current session of the United Nations General Assembly the importance which Australia attached to the full implementation of all international instruments concerned with human rights. In 1970, in the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, the Australian representative expressed concern about the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union and appealed to the Soviet Union to resist from policies or practices of discrimination against citizens of Jewish origin and to allow those wishing to emigrate to do so. Reference was also made to the same issue by the Australian representative to the 1971 meeting of the Third Committee. The present Government’s attitude has been made plain by the Prime Minister this year and by him as Leader of the Opposition in former years to successive Soviet Ambassadors in Canberra. The Soviet Union has in recent years considerably relaxed its restrictions on the emigration of
Jews with the result that an increasing number of Jewish citizens have been permitted to emigrate from the USSR. The Australian Government applauds this development.
Attorney-General’s Staff: Appointment of Professor Howard
– On 26 September last, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson directed a question to me concerning a report appearing in the Australian Financial Review’ that Professor Colin Howard had been appointed to my staff. At that time no such appointment had been made. There was therefore no basis on which I could comment on any of the purported details of the appointment given in that report.
An appointment has now been made. Professor Howard has been appointed General Counsel to the Attorney-General. His duties are to advise me on any matter as to which I seek his advice. I anticipate that such matters will comprise legal questions of all kinds arising incidentally to the Government’s legislative program, but will concentrate particularly on Constitutional questions. Senators will be aware that Professor Howard is a distinguished authority on Australian Constitutional Law and has written widely on the subject, as well as on many other legal matters, particularly criminal law. In recent years he has furnished advice on a variety of matters to the Senate, to committees of the Parliament and to the Government of Victoria. In his present capacity Professor Howard is on leave from the University of Melbourne. His appointment is full-time for a period of 3 years and he will be paid a salary of $25,000.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731113_senate_28_s58/>.