28th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m, and read prayers.
– I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that a delegation from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is present in the Senate. On behalf of honourable senators, I extend a welcome to the delegation.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
Motion ( by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the Senate do now proceed to elect a Chairman of Committees.
– I move:
– I second the motion.
– I move:
– I second the motion.
– Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I invite the 2 candidates to address the Senate.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– There being 2 nominations, in accordance with the Standing Orders a ballot will be taken. Before the Senate proceeds to the ballot the bells will be rung. (The bells having been rung)-
– Order! The doors will be closed but not locked. Close the doors. The Senate will now proceed to the ballot. Ballot papers will be distributed to honourable senators, each of whom is requested to write upon the paper the name of the candidate for whom he or she desires to vote. The ballot papers will be distributed by the Clerk to all honourable senators. (A ballot having been taken) -
– If all honourable senators have marked their ballot paper, I ask the Clerk’s assistants to collect the papers. I invite Senator Murphy and Senator Drake-Brockman, being the sponsors of the 2 candidates, to act as scrutineers. (The ballot papers having been counted) -
– The result of the ballot is: Senator Webster, 30 votes; Senator O’Byrne, 27 votes. I therefore declare Senator Webster appointed as Chairman of Committees. Senator Webster, do you wish to make some acknowledgement?
-I thank the Senate for the honour conferred on me by my election as Chairman of Committees. Especially I thank those who saw fit to nominate and to support me. I acknowledge that the office is one of significant elevation and I assure honourable senators that it will lose none of its esteem in my hands. The Senate will have the best service that I can render and I seek the assistance and support of all honourable senators in carrying out the duties of my office.
– Honourable senators would wish me, I hope, on the occasion of the election of a new Chairman of Committees to make some observations on the retirement of Senator Prowse, who resigned his place as a senator on 3 1 December last year. It is proper, I think, that I should say to honourable senators that I found no more devoted colleague in the Senate. He gave assiduous attention to the duties of the office to which he was called by honourable senators, who will readily agree that in his role either as Chairman of Committees or as Acting President from time to time he displayed an impartiality which, I hope, will continue to be a tradition of this place. It was sad, of course, that his health began to fail him. I think it began to fail him as a result of a motor car accident which he had about 12 months ago- perhaps in part his own fault because of his addiction to driving fast cars. Maybe there is a moral there; I do not know. I do not want this occasion to pass without recording that Senator Prowse was devoted to his duties and obligations as a senator and above all an honest man in the discharge of his duties as Chairman of Committees.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
- Mr President, we all share your feelings about Senator Prowse. May I record, for those who are not familiar with him, some things about him so that they may be read in Hansard and may be remembered. He was a Country Party senator from 1961 to December 1973. He came to the Senate from active association with various Western Australian rural organisations and was Vice-President of the Country Democratic League from 1956 to 1957 and its General President from 1957 to 1962. He gave distinguished service to the Senate. He was Deputy President at the time of his resignation. He was Chairman of the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade from 1971 to 1973; Chairman of the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts from April to August 1971; Leader of the Australian delegation to the 58th Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at The Hague in 1970. The work which he did on behalf of the Senate and the nation is demonstrated by his membership of the Public Works Committee from 1962 to 1971; the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory during 1968; the Joint Committee on Prices in 1973; the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures in 1967; the Select Committee on Water Pollution from 1968 to 1970; and the Parliamentary Mission to the States bordering the Indian Ocean in 1968.
Senator Prowse is now devoting his energies to developing a cattle stud near Albany in Western Australia. We will remember him here, as others will, for his dedication to the interests of those he represented and, as he saw it, of the nation, for his quiet dignity with flashes of humour and for his kindliness. He was a gentle and good man. We hope that he enjoys very much the companionship of his family and the rural pursuits which he is following assiduously.
– I ask leave to make a statement on the same matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Opposition)- I support the remarks made by Senator Murphy. In the part of Western Australia where I live the Prowse name is very well known and very highly respected. Senator Prowse ‘s uncle, the late J. H. Prowse, was for some 20 years the member for Forrest in this Parliament. Many of the ex-Senator’s relations have lived and worked in my part of the State for almost a century. Edgar Prowse had the distinction of being one of the first in Western Australia to graduate with the degree of Bachelor of agricultural science. He never boasted about it, but he was very keen on the application of science in the primary industries and many a time he gave me lectures on genetics. I think one of the lesser known characteristics of Edgar Prowse was that he could tell you the breeding lines of just about any racehorse. Although he is a very devout and hard-working member of the Methodist church- I think he is a lay preacher- he also has an interest in horses and he was a pony breeder of some distinction at Darkan. I first met him when he was President of the Country Party of Western Australia and I was State President of my Party; we had a good relationship there and we had a very good relationship here.
I think we will always remember ex-Senator Prowse for some of his better interjections in this place. I have always thought that he made one of his best interjections about the birth of Senator Murphy’s son some 12 months ago when he suggested that Senator Murphy might name his son Ivor. It was that sort of humour for which I will always remember Edgar Prowse. He has retired to Albany where he is attempting to raise cattle, and I only hope that he has a great deal of success. On behalf of the Opposition I wish exSenator Prowse a very happy retirement.
– I also would like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and my colleagues in this corner of joining you, Mr President, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) in paying tribute to the services given by Senator Prowse to this Parliament and to the Senate in particular. When I came into politics Edgar Prowse was Leader of the Country and Democratic League in Western Australia. We had a close association which became closer on his election to this place where the two of us for nearly 12 years represented Western Australia as the 2 Country Party senators from that State. As you, Mr President, said, ex-Senator Prowse has retired from this place because of ill health. I think no one has regretted that necessity more than he. He was determined that he would not sit in this chamber and not make a contribution to the debates or take part in proceedings as Deputy President of the Senate. So he decided he would get out. I saw him the other day, as did many other honourable senators, and I think he is looking very much better for his stay away from this place.
As has been said, Edgar Prowse was a farmer. He took a degree in agricultural science before he went farming. He commenced farming during the depression and one of the first things he did was to join a farmers’ organisation in Western Australia, and it was not long before he was leading the hold-up of the delivery of wheat at a siding in Western Australia. One can imagine his little moustache bristling as he faced the farmers coming in with their waggon-loads of wheat and telling them that they could not deliver it to the siding because the growers were not at that time getting enough payment for their wheat.
– A striker?
-Yes, and with a left-wing organisation, too. He then went on to play a part in the meat industry in an organisation now known as the Farmers’ Union of Western Australia Inc. As Senator Murphy has already cited, on coming into the Senate we have seen the interest which Senator Prowse displayed in this place in trade and secondary industry. He was chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. Then he was appointed to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, reflecting his university training and his interest in education. Recently he was appointed to represent this Party as a member of the Joint Committee on Prices which the Parliament set up. Overall Senator Prowse has shown a very deep knowledge of all subjects in which he has been involved. He was a great worker. In fact I remember him telling me once, when he was President of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Country Party, that I did not get around Western Australia enough. I had to do a bit more at that time. Perhaps some other Senators could not keep up with me. We on this side of the chamber were very pleased indeed, as representatives of the Country Party, to see the way in which Senator Prowse represented our Party and Western Australia in this chamber. 1 extend to him and his wife a long and happy future out of politics.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party desires to be associated with this tribute to our previous Chairman of Committees, Edgar Prowse. When one first met Edgar Prowse he gave the impression of being somewhat reserved. But when one got to know him one found that he was a very kindly and friendly man with, at times, an impish sense of humour. I enjoyed my association with him. I am sure that all honourable senators did. He acted in the chair for a considerable period. At times he had to control riotous behaviour, but in spite of that he always endeavoured to be completely impartial. I believe that every honourable senator, whether he agreed or at times disagreed with Edgar Prowse ‘s decisions, knew that they were sincere decisions, made without partiality to either side. I think he will always be remembered for one thing in particular and that is the amendment which he moved which determined our recommendation in relation to the site of a new and permanent Parliament House. I think that is something that Edgar Prowse is proud of. He deserves to be proud of it. We all wish him well in his retirement.
– Before I go any further I take the opportunity to remind honourable senators that the delegation from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is about to retire. The delegates have been in Australia for some time and by their own expression I know that they have enjoyed themselves. It is our hope that they will continue to enjoy themselves as long as they remain in Australia. We wish them a safe journey and return to their homeland.
– Hear, hear!
-Mr President, as father of the Senate I endorse what has been said about one of my former sons, exSenator Prowse. While I regret his leaving us in his retirement I wish him good health and the comfort of having his family about him on his farm. I endorse what has been said about his gentility. I have even heard him called ‘Jack the Baptist’. He has been associated with church activities and this is reflected in his general demeanour. A point that did strike me forcibly was the unanimity of the kind words that were spoken about Senator Prowse. I could hardly believe that honourable senators were speaking so well of someone who was still alive. Usually, they wait until an honourable senator is dead before they start praising him up.
– Why don’t you retire?
– I will not retire until I am able to say something nice about you. However, I think that we all wish Senator Prowse well. I would like to commend him for his foresight in retiring at this stage. I think a lesson that should be learned by all honourable senators is to prepare for their retirement by having an active interest with which to continue. Many people give so much of their life to political activities that they forget about preparing to be with their families and with their loved ones. I endorse wholeheartedly the words that have been spoken already.
-by leave- Mr President, I knew Senator Prowse for only a short time. Even though I am a West Australian, I tell honourable senators candidly that I had not really heard of him until I came into the Senate. As a matter of fact, on my first trip across to Canberra- I had asked for special permission to come over here to see what the Senate was like- Senator Prowse touched me on the arm as 1 walked down the aisle of the aircraft. He said to me: ‘Your name is Negus isn’t it. My name is Prowse. ‘ I said to him: ‘Should I know you?’ I sat on the arm rest of his seat and said to him: ‘I might be sitting alongside you in the Senate soon’. He said: ‘Not on your life; not a chance’. I am very proud of the fact that I had that meeting with Senator Prowse. I feel that he was one of the senators who fought hard to try to have death taxes removed. I have spent many hours in his office and he has willingly given me much help and information. I feel that he is a man with whom we all should be very proud to have been associated.
I am glad for his sake that he has taken a decision to retire before it is too late. Many of us wait too long and retire too late and we are then carried out. I hear some laughter but I do not think that it is a joke. We are all idiots in that way. We all work for too long. I congratulate Senator Prowse very sincerely on his decision to retire. I sincerely trust that he and his wife will enjoy many years ahead of them.
– Now that we have spoken of the former Chairman of Committees, I ask for leave to make some remarks about the new Chairman of Committees.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-On behalf of the Government I would like to congratulate Senator Webster on his appointment to the high office of Chairman of Committees and Deputy President of the Senate. It is true that anyone who becomes President of this chamber is expected to observe a very high standard of dignity and impartiality. This high standard is expected not only by honourable senators but also by the people of Australia. A similar standard is expected also of one who becomes Chairman of Committees and Deputy President in this chamber. I think that we are all pleased to hear that Senator Webster has said that he intends to observe high standards of dignity and impartiality towards the Senate.
– Some people have bad memories.
– Whatever may happen in relation to a private senator, different standards apply and are expected when a person becomes the President, the Deputy President or the Chairman of Committees. We are all pleased to hear that Senator Webster, having been elected, has undertaken to observe those standards. We congratulate him and we wish him well in his high office.
– by leave- On behalf of the Liberal senators in this place I congratulate Senator Webster on his election as Chairman of Committees. I think he is a very good choice. Senator Webster is known as a very hard working senator and he has always been a very hard hitting debater. We know him to be a man of high intelligence who will certainly work at the job. He ought to make an excellent Chairman of Committees because- I do not think he will mind me saying this at this opportunity- he has probably tested every standing order in the book and therefore should know them inside out. I think that is something that stands to his credit because, after all, a senator should know the standing orders and should always do his utmost to inform himself on the job he has to do. The Liberal senators feel that Senator Webster will be impartial. I suppose that the only advice I can offer him- occasions such as these always seem to be a time for giving advice- is the same sort of advice that a very elderly judge gave to a newly appointed judge when he said to him: ‘My boy, never be afraid of making a decision because you have a 50/50 chance of being right, but whatever you do never give your reasons because they will never be right.’ I offer Senator Webster the same advice- never be afraid of making decisions. We have always known the honorable senator to be a fearless debater and we know he will be a fearless and impartial Chairman of Committees. We wish him well.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia- Leader of the Australian Country
Party in the Senate)- by leave- I thank the Senate for its faith in Senator Webster, our nominee for the position of Chairman of Committees. I congratulate Senator Webster on being elevated to this high position. We believe that Senator Webster has the capabilities with which to carry on the high standard that has been set in this place by previous Chairmen of Committees and Deputy Presidents. I feel sure from what Senator Webster said that he will endeavour to do the job to the best of his ability. I remind the Senate that the job of Chairman of Committees and Deputy President is not an easy one, particularly during a heated debate, and that whoever carries out these duties must have the co-operation of all honourable senators. I feel sure that honourable senators will give that co-operation to Senator Webster in his new position. On behalf of my Party I wish him well and hope that he has a long term of office.
– by leave- On behalf of the Democratic Labor Party I offer our congratulations to Senator Webster. Over a number of years in this place he has shown his ability. He comes from the premier State- Victoria. He has many other qualifications for the position to which he has been elected and we were happy to support him. I cannot wish him a long tenure of office because that would mean that after June 30 my own colleague Senator Little would be eliminated, there being an election to be held in May, as most of us know. However, I wish him well while he holds this position and I assure him of the complete co-operation of the DLP. The only other thing that I have to say is that I hope that now that the President and Senator Webster are a team, in the future they will agree totally on the Standing Orders.
-by leave-I would like to add my congratulations to Senator Webster. He may wish to draw on my experience in serving for 10 years as a Temporary Chairman of Committees. I thought I was serving an apprenticeship, but as a very distinguished former senator once said in his own halting way: ‘You may have the logic but you have to have the numbers’. This is a numbers game, and I congratulate Senator Webster on having the numbers.
– I wish to inform the Senate that Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved the appointment of the
Honourable Sir John Kerr, K.C.M.G., as GovernorGeneral. Sir John will take up his appointment when Sir Paul Hasluck relinquishes office at the end of June.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, will be absent from Australia from 5 March- that is today- on a visit to Guinea and Indonesia. He is expected to return to Australia on 16 March. During his absence the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, is Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will represent in the Senate the Ministers usually represented here by Senator Willesee.
DEATH OF FORMER SENATOR J. A. McCALLUM
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)- I wish to inform the Senate of the death of former Senator J. A. McCallum, who died on 30 December 1973. He was born at Mittagong in 1892 and received his tertiary education at Sydney University. He was a school teacher from 1910 to 1949 and an examiner with the New South Wales Department of Education. I remember that when I was at school he came around as an inspector, and I little thought that with the passage of time we would both come to spend so much of our lives in this chamber. He was a director of the Australian Institute of Political Science from 1934 to 1950 and an Australian Broadcasting Commission commentator on international affairs from 1937 to 1949. He served in Egypt, France and Belgium in World War I and was wounded.
He was a New South Wales Liberal Party senator from 1949 to 1962. His parliamentary career included membership of the Library Committee from 1950, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on which he served for 6 years and the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra in 1954 and 1955. It was that last Committee that recommended the formation of the National Capital Development Commission. Senator McCallum served on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory from 1957 and as a Temporary Chairman of Committees from 1951 to 1955. He has left behind a large family. He is well remembered as a kindly and forthright man with strong views on a number of subjects. I remember his outspokenness on subjects such as state aid. He was able to express his views very eloquently. He served the
State of New South Wales well. He served the Senate well. He served Australia well. He had a very distinguished record in public affairs.
– As I did not know the deceased gentleman personally, Sir, I ask you to call Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson to speak on my behalf.
-On behalf of the Liberal Party of Australia, I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) in expressing condolence to the family of the late J. A. McCallum. I wish to place on the record of the Senate the tremendous regard and affection that we all had for him. I knew John McCallum for over 40 years. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has indicated, John McCallum died during the holiday break in December of last year. I was able to attend his funeral service where I made the point to his family that I was representing the whole of the Senate.
As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said, John McCallum was an educationist. He had a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was a high school teacher. Primarily he taught history. He was a lecturer at a teachers college in 1947 and 1949. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has also said, John McCallum was wounded while serving in the First Australian Imperial Force. He was one of the lecturers who delivered the old Workers Education Association lectures. As a very young man- I was a little ambitious in my early twenties- I attended lectures on economic subjects on 2 nights a week for a couple of years. John McCallum was one of the lecturers who lectured to me.
John McCallum had an association with the Australian Labor Party during its early years of divisions and problems. He became a senator in 1949 and retired in 1962. As a back bench member of the Senate he made a tremendous contribution to the Parliament. His interests were always associated with foreign affairs, a subject on which he was a commentator. In the old days when only station 2BL was on the air at night he used to give a foreign affairs commentary after the 7 o’clock news. That was before we had television. He concentrated his interests in the Parliament on foreign affairs but also had a tremendous love for the development of Canberra. I think he was the foundation Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra that was set up in 1 954.
– I think he moved the motion for its creation.
-He actually moved the motion for its creation. He was the influencing factor behind the creation of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, a committee of which he became Chairman. As the Leader of the Government has said, John McCallum ‘s activities in the Senate led to the creation of the National Capital Development Commission.
Perhaps I should say in lighter vein that as a Temporary Chairman of Committees he always remained a school teacher. For the benefit of Senator Webster, who has just been appointed Chairman of Committees, I wish to point out that, as a Temporary Chairman of Committees, John McCallum was constantly experiencing difficulties in handling a particular senatorSenator Grant- and finally in desperation he said to Senator Grant: ‘You will leave the room ‘.
John McCallum was a lovable character. I always remember, for instance, that without prejudice to his senatorial duties he would do the daily crossword puzzle and if he had not worked it out before the end of question time he would reckon that he was slipping. He was also a great linguist. He loved the French language. He could hold his own in any company in a discussion in the French language. There was always time during his period in the Senate, despite the heat and burden of senatorial duties, for honourable senators to have a smile. At the same time, as the Leader of the Government has said, he made a tremendous contribution to the development of this nation. I am sure that I am speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party in saying what I have said. We all have the same sentiments. We express our sympathy with his family. We would all want it to be recorded that in peace and war he gave service to his country of which his family can be mighty proud.
– I think the warmth of the expressions of condolence made by Senator Murphy and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is a fine tribute to the late Senator John McCallum. I am very pleased to associate myself and the other members of the Australian Country Party with those expressions. As a parliamentarian, John McCallum probably will be remembered for his work as Chairman of the Senate select committee which inquired into and reported upon the development of Canberra, and later as
Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, although he was also a prominent member of other Senate committees. I believe that the Senate select committee which inquired into and reported upon the development of Canberra was the basis for the development of the magnificent city of Canberra. I remember John McCallum. I remember his genuine friendliness to all in the Senate and his great charm, and I clearly recall his contributions to debates in the Senate while I was a senator. Those contributions always reflected the wealth of knowledge and wisdom which he gained before being elected to the Senate- in the years that he was a teacher and a scholar. I wish to associate my Party and myself with the remarks of previous speakers and to extend our sympathy to his family.
– I desire to associate my party and myself with the expression of condolence to the relatives of the late John McCallum. When I was elected to the Senate in 1956 he was a member of the Senate. He sat for years in the seat which is now occupied by Senator Wriedt. I remember him for the kindly manner in which he received me and for his friendly outlook at all times. He was an intellectual. He took his parliamentary duties most seriously. All who knew him liked him for his kindly attitude. When he left Parliament we missed him. We offer to his relatives our sincere sympathy at his passing.
– I report to the Senate that the former member of the House of Representives Dr. D. A. Cameron died on 5 January of this year. He was educated at the University of Sydney and had a private medical practice at Ipswich. He joined the Australian Imperial Force in 1918, and in World War II he served overseas as a medical officer. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire and was mentioned in dispatches. He became the Liberal Party member for Oxley in 1949 and held that seat until defeated in 1961. He had a distinguished career in this Parliament. He was Minister for Health from January 1956 until 1 962. He was Vice-President of the Tenth World Health Assembly in 1957. He was a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to the coronation of the Queen in 1953. After his time in this Parliament he served as Australian High Commissioner in New
Zealand from 1962 to 1965. He is survived by a widow, one son and one daughter.
From that short statement it is clear that Dr Cameron served this Parliament and the nation in very high office, especially in that office for which his profession fitted him- the ministry of Health. He continued to serve in another capacity after he left this Parliament. On behalf of the Government I ask the Senate to recognise his distinguished service and to extend its sympathy to his family.
- Mr President, I ask you to invite Senator Wood to speak on behalf of the Opposition.
– I desire to support the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, in connection with the late Donald Cameron. I was very happy to have the opportunity of campaigning with Donald Cameron during the 1949 elections when he first stood for the seat of Oxley in the House of Representatives and I stood as a senator for the State of Queensland. I think it can be truly said of Donald Cameron that he was a very clean personality and one of nature’s gentlemen.
As the Leader of the Government has said, he served in many areas, but I think the one that brought him closest to us was his service as Minister for Health. As we know, in those days the Minister for Health had certain problems to overcome and certain difficulties arose in connection with that portfolio. I think it can be fairly said that Donald Cameron, because of his own medical experience, was able to bring to that portfolio a clarity of mind and thinking about which the people in the medical world were quite happy. When he lost the seat of Oxley in Queensland and ceased to be a member of the House of Representatives, he moved on, as the Leader of the Government said, to the position of High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand. From the record it can be seen that he carried out that duty of representing this country in the fine, dignified manner which we all knew he possessed. As a fellow Queenslander, as one who campaigned with him in his first election and as one who had a very high regard for him personally and as a member of the House of Representatives, on behalf of the Liberal senators I join with the Leader of the Government in expressing very sincere sympathy to Donald Cameron’s wife and his family.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia- Leader of the Australian Country
Party in the Senate)- I rise to associate the Australian Country Party with the motion before the Senate. Unlike Senator Wood, I did not know Dr Cameron very well, although I was in the Senate during the latter part of his term in another place. However, I did have the opportunity of meeting the man several times after he left the Parliament, and the more one met him the better one got to know him. Dr Cameron served with distinction as a physician and surgeon during the Second World War. Later he served as a Minister of the Crown and later still he served as a diplomat. I associate my Party with the motion of condolence and on its behalf extend sympathy to Mrs Cameron and the family.
-The members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party desire to be associated with the motion of condolence, and in a particular way I personally desire to express my sympathy to Mrs Cameron and the members of Dr Cameron’s family in their very great loss. Dr Cameron, as has been said, was a most distinguished surgeon from Queensland. He was a man who gave of his professional talents to the community and, in time of war, to the nation. In turn he gave of his sympathy, his experience and his love of people in the service of this Parliament. He was part of that group of people who have created a very proud tradition of a great Scottish clan- the Cameron Clan: There has never been a Federal parliament of Australia in which there has not been one member who carried the name ‘Cameron’. I know that was one thing of which he was proud, and I think he would be proud that in the Parliament today there are so many who bear that name. We will all regret his passing. He was a man of gentle disposition. He and his good wife were very much involved in community work. These are facts of life which are not generally known, as people of that disposition would not want them to be known. But that was one of the aspects of their character which appealed most to those who knew them best. On my own behalf and on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party, I join in this motion of condolence to Mrs Cameron and the members of her family.
-I wish to associate myself with the expressions of condolence on the death of Dr Cameron. For some time I was a constituent of his as I lived in his electorate of Oxley. I did not know him during his parliamentary career, but I got to know him during his retirement. I know that he was loved and respected by many people. He served his State of Queensland very well indeed. He served his nation also with great distinction. Mr President,
Mrs Cameron has lost a beloved husband. His children have lost a beloved father. I say, Sir, that Australia has lost a true son.
– I invite honourable senators to stand in their places for a moment as a mark of respect. (Honourable senators stood in their places.)
To the Honourable, the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the citizens of Wyee, New South Wales place great value on the family as the natural and fundamental group of society and believe it is entitled to protection by society and the State.
That all citizens should be guaranteed by law the right to meet, worship and deliberate on religion, without being subject to arbitrary regulation by Governments.
That the proposed Human Rights Bill represents an unwarranted intrusion into the Australian way of life and the freedom of parents to educate and rear their children in their own way.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 28 Citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned Citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
The Australian people need and desire a health insurance scheme which automatically and fairly covers all Australians against the costs of health care.
The Australian Labor Government has a clear mandate to introduce such a scheme as soon as possible.
The proposals outlined in the Government’s ‘White Paper’ entitled ‘The Australian Government’s Health Insurance Program’ allow for
A fair system of financing health insurance based on a person ‘s capacity to pay, so favouring lower income earners, in comparison with the present scheme which favours those earning more.
The continued generous financing of our system of religious and charitable hospitals, with no threat to their independence.
The continuation of our freedom of choice to choose our own doctor and the sort of hospital care we want.
The possibility of controlling the rise in the cost of medical care in Australia, to benefit us as Australian taxpayers.
We therefore urge Members of the Senate to support the Australian Government’s legislation introducing universal health insurance and not delay such legislation when it is introduced in the Senate.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 21 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 Australia respectfully showeth:
That at the moment the Government is providing fifty times larger funds for research into atomic energy than for research into solar energy; that, on the other hand, latest scientific research indicates that energy production from the atom has become obsolete and undesirable. This is because of its threat to the environment, both during operation and during removal of its radioactive wastes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government urgently sets aside sufficient funds for research into the production of industrial solar energy which could be ideally established in the arid lands of Australia. We suggest that the ratio of Government funding be reversed- away from atomic in favour of solar energy. We feel strongly that since nuclear energy is a possible threat to the genetic balance of future generations, you- our Government- can only find favour with all Australians should you promote an energy program which is not only infinite in supply but also totally clean ‘.
By doing this, Australia would have a chance of becoming the centre of the New World, because current research at Australian Universities clearly states that an industrial solar energy source in Australia could supply not only local needs, but also those of S-E Asia and the western States of America.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 285 Citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament Assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
The Australian Prime Minister and the Australian Government voice emphatic protest to the Premier and Government of the USSR, at the government enforced exile of the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his home in the USSR.
We call on the Australian Government to instruct the Australian delegation at the United Nations to raise the Solzhenitsyn case and that of Soviet writers, historians, scientists, patriots and other defenders of the rights of the people, who are in grave danger as a result of exercising their basic right of free expression.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 238 citizens of the Commonwealth
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Further, they believe that this economic support should be in the form of per capita grants which are directly related to the cost of educating an Australian child in a government school.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 31 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
The Red Kangaroo, largest marsupial in the world, has through shooting for commerce become extinct or rare in many areas where it was once prolific. All scientific evidence points to this decimation of numbers, which is clear evidence that State governments are unable to control commercial shooting within their boundaries.
The people of Australia do not wish to subsidise the kangaroo industry, through taxation, in paying for the control measures which it calls for. We find the industry repugnant, unnecessary, and benefits but a few people in this country, whereas live kangaroos in their natural habitat, through their value as tourist attractions are economically far more profitable to our economy and to us aesthetically
We your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:
Maintain the ban on the export of products made from kangaroos.
Encourage State governments to have any necessary culling of wild animals carried out by their own fauna officers.
Establish large sanctuaries in the habitat of the Red and other species of kangaroo. (This would benefit all wildlife in those areas.)
Provide for scientific research into populations of kangaroos and other wildlife.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give the following notices of motion.
Contingent on any message being received from the House of Representatives transmitting any bill for concurrence, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Contingent on any message being received from the House of Representatives returning any Bill not finally agreed upon, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Contingent on any Bill being reported from a committee of the whole, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Contingent on any Bill originating in the Senate having been read a first time, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Contingent on a message being received from the House of Representatives transmitting a constitution Alteration Bill for concurrence I shall move:
That standing order 242 be suspended to enable the third reading of the Bill to be passed without a call of the Senate.
- Mr President, I have several notices of motion. My first one is the normal contingent notice of motion that contingent upon your proceeding with the placing of business on any sitting day I may move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion relating to the order of the business on the notice paper.
My second notice of motion is that contingent upon any Minister of State asking on any day of sitting during question time that further questions without notice be placed on the notice paper, I shall have the right to move:
That questions without notice be further proceeded with.
I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move- these are the general business notices of motion:
That the actions of the present Labor Government in attempting to destroy the federal structure of Australia and replace it with a unitary and centralist structure is detrimental to the individual Australian and if continued will destroy the basis of the Australian constitutional way of government.
I further give notice that on the next day of sitting
– Are these notices of motion in relation to general business?
-These are notices of motion in relation to general business. I think that I am entitled to give notice of them, Mr President.
– I do not see any objection to it as long as you are only giving notice. The motions are not going to be debated.
- Mr President, I rise to order. This is really a matter of proper procedure. Of course, I do not want to prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) from giving any notice of motion that he wants to give. But insofar as the notices of motion are motions of substance to go on the general business paper, it does not seem altogether appropriate that one senator should give notices in a way that would monopolise the whole of the notice paper. One would think that at least there ought to be some reasonable -
– I will pass them round.
– That is not the point. The honourable senator may pass them around but there may be honourable senators from other parties, including the Government Party, who want to do this. Perhaps some reasonable arrangement can be worked out. Perhaps if the Leader of the Opposition wants to give notices of motion and the members of other parties, including my own, want to give such notices, some reasonable distribution could be worked out. But we would not like to see the priority of general business seized. This would be contrary to practice. That is the reason I intervene.
– The Leader of the Government is perfectly correct. These niceties as to how notices of motion should be given are generally matters arranged between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. Anyway, I point out that standing order 1 13 applies. The standing order states:
A Senator may not give two Notices of Motion consecutively, if another Senator has any Notice to give.
– If we agree that we will come to some reasonable arrangements -
-Mr President, may I speak to the point of order? That may be the easiest way.
– I have always understood that on general business days what is brought on for general business is agreed to by the will of the Senate. It is almost a general rule that on general business days a motion is moved that all intervening business be postponed until after consideration of some other matter. This applies to all honourable senators in the Senate chamber. But if I am out of order and I can give only one notice of motion at a time, I will give one and -
– Order! Senator Withers, you can give as many notices of motion as you like. But standing order 1 13 states:
A Senator may not give two Notices of Motion consecutively, if another Senator has any Notice to give.
That is all there is to the matter.
– In the hope of obtaining a place in the sun for my Party, I give notice that, contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator McManus moving a motion relating to the Order of Business on the notice paper.
– I call Senator Milliner.
– I give notice that on the–
- Mr President, as Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate I wish to give notice of a motion.
– Order! I am prepared to acknowledge these courtesies but Senator Milliner was on his feet before you, Senator DrakeBrockman, so I call Senator Milliner.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That, especially in view of the recent natural disasters in a number of States, the Senate congratulates the Whitlam Government on its proposals in regard to the preparation for and dealing with natural disasters and their financial and other consequences.
- Mr President, my notice has some substance in it. I give notice that, contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day, I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Drake-Brockman moving a motion relating to the Order of Business on the notice paper.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that local government and semi-government bodies should have direct access to Australian Government finance.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the consideration of the Estate Duty (Termination) Bill 1973 be restored to the notice paper and resumed at the stage it had reached in the last session.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Government’s refusal to acknowledge the rampant inflation in this nation and consequently to take effective measures to minimise it is having a debilitating effect on the productive effort of all sections of the community, is dissipating savings, is causing inestimable harm to numerous Australians and is destroying the sound economic basis of this country as community confidence is undermined.
Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia) I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate approves the Whitlam Government’s proposals for regeneration of the railway systems of Australia together with the modernisation of other means of public transport.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that a permanent national disaster organisation should be created, adequately structured financially and administratively, with joint Commonwealth and States participation.
– You are too late.
– We have had this one on for 7 years but nobody would do anything about it.
– Order! Notices of motion are merely indications of something that is going to happen at a future time. They are not the subject of debate.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That consideration of the National Health Bill (No. 3) 1973 be restored to the notice paper and resumed at the stage it had reached in the last session.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move a motion in the terms which have been distributed to honourable senators. (The motion read as follows)-
1 ) That, in view of the fact that Mr Wilfred Burchett has publicly stated that he is not opposed to a public investigation of his past activities, a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon-
devising and/or disseminating ‘Germ Warfare’ propaganda which was used against the interests and activities of the United Nations Force;
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
The the continued run-down of the Australian defence force, the erosion of our defence capacity and the deliberate understatement of Australia’s vulnerability in a volatile world is detrimental to the long-term security and well-being of the Australian people.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Senator Gair, in giving notice of a motion, said that copies of it had been circulated to honourable senators. I do not have a copy, Senator Brown does not have a copy, and I understand that no honourable senator on this side of the chamber has a copy. We should not allow notices of motion to be given without seeing what is to be placed on the notice paper.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that the present Australian national anthem, God Save The Queen, shall not be altered or replaced without a referendum of the people.
– Does any other honourable senator wish to give a notice of motion?
- Mr President, I was just trying to attract your attention.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– About what? You should give the Senate an indication of the context in which you are asking for leave.
– I just ask for leave to make a statement.
-Indicate the subject to honourable senators so that they will know whether they should give you leave. It is the Senate that gives you leave, not I. What is the subject of the statement you wish to make?
– It is in relation to something the Leader of the Opposition said when he was on his feet.
-Is leave granted?
– There being objections leave is not granted.
-I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Was the Attorney-General’s Department notified last Wednesday evening that there was to be a raid on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on Thursday?
-The answer is, Mr President, not as far as I am aware. I am not sure whether, in the welter of rumours and so forth, something to that effect was said. I will check for the honourable senator. I do know that some offer was made by the Commissioner of Commonwealth Police to provide some police protection on the premises of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. This may have been as a general precaution or as a result of a statement such as that to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. I am really unaware of the position and I will check for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will the Minister agree that the Post Office, which falls under his ministerial responsibility, should be run by the Government and not by the postal unions? If so, how does the Minister explain his passive acquiescence in union demands for the closure of all post offices on Saturdays? Is the Minister aware that over 300,000 persons who are largely working people transact their postal business on Saturdays because of their inability to do so during the normal working week? What is the Minister’s reaction to the claim of the unions that because they have banned all Saturday work their members should now receive an increase in wages to compensate them for the loss of their Saturday earnings?
Everyone knows that the Postmaster-General, Mr Bowen, has been doing his utmost to operate postal services in the interests of the community, at the same time keeping in mind the working conditions of workers in the Post Office. The Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party will know that Mr Bowen has been negotiating with the unions on these matters for some considerable time. He is also awaiting the report of a royal commission inquiry into the affairs of the Post Office. I would suggest to the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party that the type of question he has asked will only exacerbate the many problems confronting Mr Bowen at the present time.
– I would like to direct a question to the Minister for the Media concerning Australian film productions. Did the Government announce towards the end of last year that it intended to establish an Australian Film Commission? Until new legislation is introduced into the Parliament for the setting up of the Australian Film Commission what steps will be taken to encourage the continuity of film production in this country?
Recently, following a decision of the Government, I announced the appointment of an interim board of the Australian Film Commission whose responsibility it will be to plan and develop the Australian Film Commission pending the introduction of legislation into this Parliament and its passage through the Parliament. Meanwhile the Australian Film Development Corporation will continue to provide finance for Australian productions. The Corporation has committed itself to the extent of some $3. 5m on more than 60 film projects. Substantial returns from investments in productions have allowed it to commit itself for more than the $2. 9m in funds allocated to it by the Australian Government. The Corporation made a profit of, I think, some 200 per cent on its investment in the film entitled ‘The Adventures of Barry McKenzie’. There has been a 100 per cent return from the production ‘Alvin Purple’ even though that film began its showing only just before Christmas. I can inform the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party that my Department is preparing a directory of film production facilities in Australia for distribution abroad to foreign owned companies in the hope that they will be producing in Australia this year. I confidently expect on a conservative basis, that there will be this calendar year, at least 20 feature films in production in this country.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In view of the statement by the Minister that all evidence was not given in court in the charge against Mr McLeod, who was arrested in the offices of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for the possession of an unlicensed pistol, I ask: Will the Minister state to what evidence he was referring?
– I would be surprised if I ever said that all evidence was not given in court in relation to the charge that was laid against Mr McLeod. To my knowledge the evidence available was given in that case. I think the statement would have been that the evidence did not disclose the full facts of the happening on that day.
– Can the Minister for the Media say what is being done now to stop overseas takeovers of Australian advertising agencies? Is it a fact that the Minister’s moves in this direction in the past have been deliberately blocked by both the industry body itself and the loopholes that exist in the Companies (Foreign Take-overs) Act?
– There has been a takeover of the Australian advertising company that is commonly referred to as SPASM. That takeover involved the acquisition of assets and not merely of shares. I took this matter up with the Federal Treasurer in regard to his administration of the Companies (Foreign Take-overs) Act. The Treasurer has written to me that the provisions of that Act are currently under review and that he has asked his Department to ensure that full consideration is given to the limitations of the existing legislation that have been illustrated by the takeover to which I have referred, which was outside the scope of the Act because it involved assets rather than shares. I can also tell the honourable senator that I have written to the Media Council of Australia on this subject asking it to refuse accreditation in future to companies that are not financed predominantly by Australian capital.
-Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs give an assurance that the pistol that was in the possession of Mr McLeod at the office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs last Thursday was not loaded?
– No, I will not give that assurance. The gun was definitely loaded and emptied before it was handed to the police.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate whether any action is being taken by the Government to assist the fruit growing and processing sectors of the industries which were affected by the abolition of the exemption from sales tax of carbonated soft drinks containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juices?
-The Senate will recall that this taxation concession was removed in the last Budget. At the time the Government indicated that it would assist those industries which were affected by the removal of the tax concession. The apple industry is primarily concerned. The Government has appointed a joint industry-Government committee involving both my Department and the Department of Secondary Industry and including members of the apple and pear industry, that is, fruit growers as well as fruit juice processing firms. That committee has met on several occasions. It has done a good deal of work in an attempt to overcome for the apple industry in particular the problems which have arisen as a result of less fruit being used for juicing purposes. An agent has been appointed in the United States of America to examine the market prospects. A report has been received by that agent. We hope that there will be favourable reactions in the North American market. At its last meeting or the meeting before its last meeting the committee decided that it would extend its activities into the Japanese market and the European market. All in all, I believe that the committee has done some very good work since the decision was taken. I hope that we will see during the course of this year some positive results of the work that has been done.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I ask: What action has the Labor Government, which allegedly champions the cause of dissenters in Australia, taken to express its disapproval of the brutal action by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to exile Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his family from Russia? Will the Prime Minister use the occasion of his coming visit to the Soviet Union to protest to the heads of the Soviet Government against such brutal and mindless oppression of a distinguished writer whose only crime was to publicise the denial of human rights in the Soviet Union? Will the Prime Minister consider extending to Solzhenitsyn and his family, on behalf of the Australian Government, an invitation to reside in Australia and continue his literary work in a free society?
-The honourable senator should know that the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement expressing Australia’s disapproval of what had been done and that that statement was supported by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party at one of its meetings. The Australian Government takes the view that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ought to be observed by every country. That Declaration includes the provision that everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country, and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality. It also provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. It is very important to preserve the rights of persons to communicate ideas, and the Australian Government’s view is that every nation ought to observe the rights of those who wish to impart ideas to others beyond their borders. If those ideas are incorrect they can be demonstrated to be incorrect, especially by a very great nation which has enormous resources at its disposal to point out and correct any errors in what has been published. One would think that there would be a greater obligation on such a nation to observe the rights which have been declared as the common standard of men everywhere.
– I have a supplementary question.
– Do you believe that your question has not been answered fully?
– I do not think the Minister has answered the second or third parts of my question.
– I apologise. I will refer the other matters to the Prime Minister. If he has any comment on the action which it is suggested he should take, I will inform the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. Is it a fact that there has been a delay in the completion of the seventh stage of television development in south-western Queensland? Has the delay been because of technical problems? Can the Minister indicate when the services are likely to commence in this area?
asked me questions on this matter towards the end of last year. In fairness, I must say that the matter was raised with me by the Federal member for Kennedy. At that time I, on behalf of the Postmaster-General, indicated that it was anticipated that television transmissions to certain portions of south-western Queensland could be expected about Christmas time. Unfortunately, a number of unexpected technical problems cropped up in the arrangement of the transmission facilities, and they have delayed the introduction of the facility to the residents of south-western Queensland. However, I can now tell the honorable senator that it has been decided to commence interim transmissions from 7 stations in south-western Queensland as from 8 March, pending the rectification of some minor technical problems. The Postmaster-General has been advised accordingly. The stations concerned are at St George, Dirranbandi, Mitchell, Morven, Charleville, Augathella and Cunnamulla. I am confident that adequate service will be available to those areas, although I must tell the honourable senator that it is likely to be subjected to occasional breaks in transmission because of the technical difficulties being encountered by the Postmaster-General’s Department in effecting the installation.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. In view of Press reports that a solicitor was present with Mr McLeod during the time he confronted an officer of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs with a loaded pistol, I ask: Was the solicitor employed by any department or agency of the Government? Has any action been taken against him?
– A solicitor was present during the incident at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. He is engaged with the Australian Institute of Criminology and also, although I am not quite sure in what capacity, with the Aboriginal Legal Service. I understand that he was there representing Mr McLeod. There has been some inquiry into the matter. The gentleman in question gave some evidence during the legal proceedings.
– Was that Mr Hausman?
-Yes. The Director of the Institute of Criminology spoke to me about the matter before he left for overseas. I think the Director was leaving last Friday, which was immediately following these incidents. He mentioned the matter to me. Further inquiries are being made into this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. When was the committee of inquiry into the Post Office established? Who are the members of the committee? What is their remuneration? Is it subject to tax? Is a time limit placed on the presentation of their report? When is the committee expected to present its report to Parliament?
– I ask the honourable senator to place the question on notice.
-My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. Is it a fact that one of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s parliamentary announcers has recently been dismissed? If so, what was the reason for his dismissal? Was the announcer informed of the reason for his dismissal?
– I assume that my colleague is referring to the case of a Mr Flower who was a temporary officer in the employ of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. My colleague the Minister for Secondary Industry, who is the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, has already raised the matter with me. I have had a discussion with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Professor Richard Downing, who was appointed Chairman by this Government last July and whom I regard as a very fair and impartial man. Professor Downing has assured me that the Commission wants to ensure that justice is done. He has indicated to me that he understands that the ABC Staff Association, the registered industrial union of which Mr Flower is a member, has been approached by Mr Flower to take up the matter with the Commission on his behalf. Therefore, Professor Downing is awaiting contact with the ABC Staff Association on the matter. As soon as I hear anything about these negotiations I will advise the honourable senator and the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, Mr Enderby.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Australian Labor Party’s rural platform lay down that Labor shall provide fertiliser subsidies? Was this provision part of the platform when Labor campaigned in 1972? Did it not remain in the platform after the Party’s conference at Surfers Paradise last July? If the answer to both questions is yes, is not the Labor Government guilty of deceiving Australia’s rural sector and of abandoning its stated and published policies by announcing the withdrawal of the present superphosphate bounty?
– It is true that the platform of the Australian Labor Party provides for the provision of fertiliser bounties. Senator DrakeBrockman should be more careful in making the assumption which he has from the recent Government decision which does not state that there shall be no fertiliser bounty. The decision of the Government has been that the Acts which provide for nitrogenous and superphosphate bounties will not be renewed after 3 1 December this year. This statement does not mean that there will be no further fertiliser bounties.
What ought to be made clear is that the Prime Minister has indicated in his statement that he has invited the Australian Farmers Federation to make a submission to me and to establish, if the Federation is capable of doing so, a prima facie case for reference to the Prime Minister and eventual reference to the Industries Assistance Commission. That letter, which was addressed to the President of the Federation, Mr Hogan, only 3 or 4 days ago, is continuing the procedures which were adopted by the previous Government in relation to applications for tariff assistance; that is to say, an industry should establish a prima facie case for reference to the Commission. There is no conflict in relation to the Government ‘s position; it is a matter of a particular rural industry determining whether it wants to present a case to the Government for eventual reference to the Commission.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that the Sydney City Council has expressed concern about the future of the Garden Island dockyard area and its continuing location close to the city with the resultant environmental effects?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes. Representations have been made to the Minister about the matter, but the Council has been advised that it would cost about $100m to resite the dockyard, which is a very important and necessary industrial complex for defence purposes. The Council has been told, however, that in any modernisation scheme which is under consideration environmental factors will be given great consideration. No doubt there will be further interviews between the Sydney City Council and the Minister for Defence.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is it a fact that a Mr F. Moy was held at gunpoint by a Mr McLeod at the office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on Thursday last? If so, did Mr Moy make a statement to the police? If so, why was the statement not given to the court last Friday? If such a statement was made, is the Minister willing to table the statement in the Senate?
-The answer to the first part of the question is yes. The answer to the second part of the question is no. The third and fourth parts of the question are covered by my answer to the second part of the question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Will the Minister agree that the Fabian Society is a social reform discussion group which enjoys close links with the Australian Labor Party, especially in its views on welfare proposals? Is the Minister aware that in a recent issue of the ‘Fabian Newsletter’ the Secretary of the Fabian Society, Mr Jim Kennan, strongly urged the Government to extend the arrangements under the present National Health Act to provide adequate cover for low income earners, pensioners and the unemployed, who are presently disadvantaged? Are not these proposals urged by the Fabian Society precisely the same as those provided for under the Democratic Labor Party’s Health Bill? Will the Minister now study the Democratic Labor Party’s Bill carefully in order, to use the words of the Secretary of the Fabian Society, ‘to reduce the inequalities and provide better health insurance’?
-The Fabian Society, as I understand it, is a political organisation based on the socialist doctrine of George Bernard Shaw. I have not read the article referred to by the honourable senator, although I have heard that the article was written. I am also given to understand that the writer of the article urged the Australian Government to take other initiatives in the health area which would enable the Government to implement the policy for which it secured a mandate from the Australian people.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Government has adopted more than half the recommendations on primary industry of the Coombs task force? Have these decisions resulted in the removal of concessions and assistance granted by the previous Government? Can the Minister say how many more of the recommendations in relation to rural matters made by the Coombs task force remain to be considered, and when they are likely to be implemented?
– I am unable to say precisely how many recommendations pertaining to rural industry contained in the Coombs task force report were not accepted by the Government in the last Budget discussions. If the honourable senator would like to know the number, the report is a public document and is available to him if he desires to count them up. In the forthcoming Budget discussions the Government will do the same as it did in the previous Budget considerations: It will allocate Australian resources to the best advantage of the whole of the Australian community and will not think in terms of sectional interests.
-Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of an article appearing in today’s ‘Australian’ entitled ‘ABCs of Black Policy’? In this article a journalist, who is unnamed, asks whether it is ‘too much to ask to get him’that is the Minister- ‘to spend a week with Kevin Gilbert at Taree to discuss Kevin’s book’. In view of this statement I ask the Minister whether he has had any discussions with Mr Gilbert? If so, what is the Minister’s attitude towards this Aboriginal?
– On the last occasion on which I was in Sydney I had a discussion with Mr Kevin Gilbert and his wife in our offices in Martin Place, and I found it to be one of the most interesting discussions that I have had on this particular subject. Since that visit and that discussion I have had an exchange of correspondence with Kevin Gilbert, including recent correspondence in which he explains his book and his hope that the book will be accepted as offering a new life for the Aboriginal people. I would say that Kevin Gilbert is one of the most interesting men to whom I have spoken . on Aboriginal affairs. I think he has more to offer in the way of solutions to the problems of Aborigines than is realised. It is hoped that he will be with us for some time so that he can assist in guiding the Minister and the Aboriginal people along better avenues in the future.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, is in pursuance of an answer he gave a little earlier to Senator Hannan ‘s question. I gathered from his answer that he said that a Mr Moy did make a statement.
– Did not.
-Did not make a statement or did make a statement?
– Did not.
-Did not make a statement? I just want to get this quite clear because I thought he said that Mr Moy did make a statement.
– Did not.
-In that case I do not really want to pursue the matter; but there has been some confusion about the Minister’s answer.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise sought the co-operation of the Dutch Government in seeking to halt the increasing flow of illegal exports of Australian birds to Holland?
– Yes, this has been done through the Department. There is a great deal of governmental and public concern, both here and overseas, about the heavy traffic in birds. This is especially so because inevitably it means a great deal of cruelty and loss of life to the birds. I assure the honourable senator, who has pursued this matter for many years, that it is also being pursued vigorously by the Department.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral verify that none of the 4 public servants involved in the hold-up by Mr McLeod at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs last Thursday have given statements to the police? If so, why have such statements not been given to the police? Is it a fact that the police have not asked for them? If it is, why not?
– I cannot verify what the honourable senator is asking. He is suggesting that no statements have been made. Certain statements have been made. No doubt due to the circumstances on the day, and what was apparently some undertaking not to lay charges, there was a certain reticence in what was told by the departmental officers to the police. In fact, to put it bluntly, there was nothing which was put to the police in statements which said that the gun was loaded. In the course of their duties the police made themselves available. In amplification of what was asked earlier by the Leader of the Opposition may I say that the information I am given is that there was some rumour on the day concerned that an attempt might be made to storm the place, meaning the Department, and to destroy files and the like. The sergeant in question informed the Commissioner of Police who directed an inspector to contact Mr Moy of the Department and offer protection to the departmental officers. An offer was made to place a uniformed member of the Commonwealth Police at the offices. As I indicated before, that was not accepted. It was said that this was not favoured as having police in the office would upset the staff. Apparently there had been a complaint to that effect on a previous occasion. Mr Moy said that he would prefer a policeman in the plaza outside the building, but it was pointed out by the police that this would not help as the records section was on the 14th and 15th floors while the executive officers were in the bank building, and for police reasons this would not be effective.
– This was the Commonwealth Police?
-Yes, it was the Commonwealth Police. Let me say in substantial answer to this question that one knows from the Press what happened, that the person went there and apparently a very difficult situation arose. The police were not present when this incident occurred. When the police were called they were outside and it was unknown to them how dangerous the situation was. The officers of the Department, after the intervention particularly of Mr Perkins, were able to get to the position where the gun was given up.
– It was unloaded?
– It was unloaded when it reached the police. Some suggestion was made that no charges would be laid. This was not accepted by the police officer who was outside. There was also some suggestion, and this was accepted, that the person would submit himself to a medical examination. On this basis the incident was resolved.
I think that the police acted sensibly and I presume that the persons who were subject to this incident also did what they thought best for their own safety in the situation. Obviously, as there always are, about such an incident, there were some unsatisfactory features. It is intolerable that there be any intimidation of any persons in this community. Whether it was thought to be for publicity or for any other reason this will not be tolerated. I want to say quite clearly that if there is any repetition of any such incident firm action will be taken. People may have their view of what was done on this occasion in order to resolve a situation. Honourable senators may have some understanding that there was’ some knowledge on the part of the police officers and others of the previous history of the person involved. It may be easy for others here to say what should have been done on the occasion. It is not always easy in these situations to know exactly what ought to be done. But this situation was resolved without anyone being hurt.
I wish to make it quite clear that intimidation will not be permitted in this community and if there is any repetition of that kind of conduct it will be dealt with severely and the resources of the law will be employed. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has made certain statements as to what has occurred. His officers at the time were in charge of this matter. They were offered the assistance of the police. They stated certain things to the person who subsequently submitted himself to a medical examination. The Minister has indicated now that he wishes some further investigation of the matter. That will be done.
-Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of a report in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of 3 March in which a journalist, Mr Russell Schneider, speaks of corruption within the Department of Works? I ask the Minister whether he agrees with the journalist’s statement, which reads:
That is, the Minister - discovered widespread examples of corruption in the Department’s lower echelons and cleaned things up without fuss.
Does the Minister agree with the journalist’s statement that while the Minister held the Works portfolio he cleaned things up? Does the Minister agree also that this form of generalisation by members of the Press Gallery cast aspersions upon all employees of the Department of Works and that public servants as such should not be subject to attacks of this nature?
– I do not understand the question but Senator Cavanagh may.
– I do not understand my capabilities would clean anything up, Mr President; I seem to be getting into a lot of trouble. I have read Russell Schneider’s article. At no time did I refer to any corruption in the Department of Works. In fact I would deny that in my experience I have ever found corruption in the Department of Works. I found it one of the best operated departments and I think it would compare with any other department of the Commonwealth. Possibly the statement was made because soon after I took office I received a complaint which I referred to the Commonwealth Police. A foreman was prosecuted in respect of, I think, some paints he had taken out of the control of the Commonwealth. I do not think the offence was considered serious. This is just one of those things. I would not say that a building organisation of that size would not have some thefts at times. I found no corruption. While I was in the building trade everyone took what he required for his weekend occupation in patching up the house but no one says this is actual stealing or corruption. I dissociate myself from the article. It could be a reflection on the Service but if it is I can assure honourable senators that I have found loyal, honest efficient service in the Department of Works.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Is there any purpose in the expenditure of taxpayers’ money for the purchasing of outdated, white cotton, boxer-style long-legged underpants as issued to members of our defence forces, especially when the members of the forces abhor the old-fashioned style and are forced to spend their own money to equip themselves with more modern and comfortable underpants? Mr President, I have here a set of these underpants which I would like to hand to the Minister so that he may investigate this matter and save the taxpayers’ money on something that is of no use to our defence forces.
– The underwear which servicemen wear has always been a subject of consideration by specialist committees of the Services. It may be that Senator Bonner wants to be more modern and use the sort of gear that is now used on the beaches. Whether members of the armed Services would be pleased to be walking around in this more modern coloured garb I do not know. I think the sensible thing to do would be to ask the Services equipment people to say what is preferred by servicemen. I would have thought that if there was any objection to the underwear servicemen would have written to the Minister about it, as they now can do. We have not had any complaints up till now.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to his statement earlier today that the pistol which was used in the course of the incident last Thursday was loaded and that it was unloaded before it was given to the police. Has he been aware that the sergeant of police who presented the case at the court last Thursday stated that the pistol was unloaded and that there was no evidence of any ammunition, and that the magistrate in imposing sentence referred to that fact? If he is aware of this did he make inquiries as to how evidence which he knows to be untrue was given to the court? What was the result of his inquiries?
– At no time would I agree that evidence which was untrue was given to the court. I think the prosecutor submitted all the evidence that was within his knowledge. I think there was other evidence which was not within the knowledge of the prosecutor who presented the case. Of course, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge. After a plea of guilty had been entered, it is unusual, 1 believe, to call evidence. Evidence is called to prove guilt or possibly to determine penalty. But the defence called character evidence on this occasion for mitigation of penalty. I think Senator Murphy gave the full facts of what occurred between police and officers of my Department. There was a possibility of a sit-in and the departmental officers did not want to upset the staff.
On previous occasions as a result of rational discussion trouble has been averted. No one anticipated that there would be an armed invasion. If there seems to be any inconsistency in my claim that Mr Moy had not given a statement, he was asked by an inspector as he came out of the room whether the gun was loaded and he said: ‘I have nothing to say’. So the police never knew that the gun was loaded. Because there were so many rumours, to get my information I spent this morning at the office talking to the officers. I found that not only were the 4 officers in the room threatened but that a little girl in the outer office also was threatened and was given an order to clear the floor of the office. So the gun was there all right. It is no secret now. The police may not have known all the facts at the time. They made out the only case available to them. I think the officers acted in accordance with some sort of agreement that they came to for the protection of their own lives, and this is realised, although at no time did they give an assurance that they would not give evidence. They gave an assurance that they would not lay charges, and they did not.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Does he know who unloaded the pistol used by Mr McLeod in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs last Thursday? If so, who was that person?
– I am informed that it was done by two of the three Aboriginals concerned.
- Mr President, I address my question to you with deference. Just a few minutes ago I was refused leave to address the Senate. I draw your attention to the fact that on many occasions the Leader of the Opposition has moved many notices of motion without any interference from you and yet a few minutes ago you distinctly said that according to standing order 1 1 3 no senator shall give more than 2 consecutive notices of motion. It often happens, as
Standing Orders will prove, that more than one notice of motion has been given by honourable senators, and it appears so on the notice paper.
– I take a point of order. Mr President, you have granted indulgence to the independent senator, but I ask: Is he addressing a question; is he addressing himself to a point of order, or what is the purpose of his speaking? In my submission the Standing Orders apply to all of us.
– I will not allow the question period to be interrupted by a question of procedure relating to notices of motion. Senator Negus, you may raise the matter with me at a later stage.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media and it relates to a statement which the Minister made at the end of February concerning broadcasting stations. Is it a fact that the Minister said that the number of medium frequency radio stations was likely to be doubled in the near future? Is it also a fact that the Minister claimed that this change could be made without upsetting international arrangements and at no disadvantage to the Australian public? If so, can the Minister tell the Senate where these stations are likely to be located? Are they to be commercial stations or will the Australian Broadcasting Commission have a proportion? Has consideration been given to the needs of rural centres and distant areas as well as special purpose stations for minority audiences? Will their establishment influence the introduction of frequency modulation?
– I do not think it is quite correct to say that I said that the number of stations is likely to be doubled. What I think I said was that the number of stations could be doubled by a change of policy from the policy adopted by the previous Government. For the information of the honourable senator, at the Federal conference of the Australian Labor Party which was held at Surfer’s Paradise last July, I told the delegates to the conference that I believed there was ample scope for the establishment of between 30 and 50 stations in the medium frequency band if there was to be a re-examination of the allocation of that band. The Party conference subsequently adopted a policy which referred to the need to conduct an investigation of this type. So early in August I asked the Broadcasting Control Board to carry out a re-examination of the technical basis on which broadcasting stations in the medium frequency band have been established and indeed have been protected. The Board, after detailed investigation of the matter, reported to me about 2 weeks ago that with a different policy being adopted on the protection of frequencies it would be possible to double the number of stations operating in the medium frequency band. The different policy that would be involved would mean, of course, in some instances the sharing of frequencies, as happens now in the case of 2GO Gosford and SAD Adelaide. Also it would mean the installation by most stations of directional aerials and, of course, the boosting of power of most if not all existing commercial stations as well as some ABC stations. I am now considering this report and I will be making certain submissions to Cabinet in the very near future. To provide for the situation in the event of the Government deciding to change the previous Government’s policy which has been in existance over the last 24 or 25 years, I am now asking the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and my Department to advise me on the need, in their opinion, for community access stations, ethnic group stations and, of course, additional commercial broadcasting stations. I expect that the new stations, if and when established in the medium frequency band, will be able to fill some of the demands which apparently have been made in evidence to the independent inquiry into frequency modulation which the Government established earlier this year.
-I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General: Did the Postmaster-General approve of the instructions which were issued to all non-official postmasters ordering them not to give mail over the counter to the public on Saturday mornings?
– I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation: How real is the necessity- I am not talking about Qantas Airways Ltd this time- for security checks on people travelling within Australia? Apparently they are being started at every airport in Australia. They are a hindrance and a nuisance. They seem to be most unnecessary, unless there is some real purpose behind them.
-This is like a revolver being kept at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in that protection is not necessary until something happens. Possibly these searches are not necessary at Australian airports, but rather than take the risk it is better to have a search which might inconvenience someone than to have the hijack of a plane and many lives lost. The airlines are putting these searches into operation. The inconvenience is regrettable, but I do not think we would get an affirmative response if we asked whether the searches should be discontinued. I was wondering whether consideration could be given to certain people being exempt from search. It seems unnecessary to search people such as heads of departments and others in the Commonwealth who are not under suspicion and that they should be allowed to go through without a search. But generally it is thought that everyone should go through the search. I think it is an essential precaution.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to some questions which I asked him at the end of the previous session concerning his undertaking to give special assistance to the dairy industry in lieu of the bounty which is being phased out. I now ask him whether he has yet determined what form the special assistance will take. Has he made any announcement to that effect? If not, when does he propose to do so?
-Towards the end of last year in answer to a question by Senator Durack I indicated that the Government would be in a position early this year to make some specific statement on the continued restructuring of the dairy industry. I do not have the specific proposal as yet. At the time I indicated that over 100 submissions had been put to the Government in relation to suggestions for restructuring. They are quite remarkably involved and what different people believe ought to be done varies to an enormous degree. I hope that within the next month I shall be able to make an announcement on this matter and give some quite definite plans as to how the Government proposes to accelerate the restructuring of the dairy industry.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question which is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Young. What were the names of the 2 persons who unloaded the revolver on the occasion in relation to which a number of questions have been asked? What happened to the bullets taken from the revolver and in whose custody are they now?
-I am relying on information given to me. 1 believe the revolver was unloaded by McLeod and another Aborigine. There is some doubt about his name but it is thought to be Johnson. There was some difficulty in removing the last bullet. There was a suggestion from McLeod that it be shot through the floor so that the revolver would be empty, but appeals were made from people who were there: You will have the police rushing in and God knows what will happen if the gun goes off.’ However, finally the bullet was out. I do not know where the bullets are now. No one in the offices of the Department can tell me where they are.
-Is the Attorney-General aware of the dissatisfaction which has been publicly expressed by the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory about the law making procedures followed here where an enactment by way of an ordinance rates as subordinate rather than substantive legislation and comes into effect immediately upon gazettal, thus affording little opportunity for examination by interested bodies and persons who are concerned with its provisions? Does the Attorney-General not agree that a substantial proportion of the Australian Capital Territory ordinances would rate as substantive legislation elsewhere than in the Territory and that they would be subject to the procedures operative outside the Territory by way of parliamentary examination before becoming law? What alternatives to the present system are possible where what amounts to substantive legislation is passed in a subordinate form?
– Order! That is asking for a legal opinion.
– I am aware of the matter the honourable senator has raised. I indicate that it has been the practice that ordinances concerning the Territory are circulated, I think to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council and to various other bodies which are concerned. I know that ordinances which might be described as being of a legal nature have been circulated to those interested, sometimes to judges and sometimes to the Law Society. In fact, there has been some criticism of the delays which have occurred while we have been waiting for all opinions to come in. Criticism has been expressed not by those persons but by others who wanted the enactment of an ordinance to come into effect. Various other alternatives could be applied. I suppose one could provide that the ordinance should not come into effect for, say, 2 months or something like that. We could provide for consideration of it in the meantime. One could imagine the number of procedures in which this Parliament could be involved during the period before the ordinance would come into effect.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: In view of the
Labor Government’s decision to bypass its own Caucus rural committee and announce the withdrawal of the superphosphate subsidy, does the Minister regard his Green Paper group inquiring into all aspects of rural policy as wasting its time and the time of the many organisations making detailed submissions to the group? Cabinet has demonstrated by its decision on the superphosphate bounty that it is prepared not only to disregard some committees set up to help the Government in decision making, but also to ignore decisions made by them. Does the Minister see such a group as likely to be useful as an instrument in preventing Cabinet from going it alone in future?
-I do not quite see the analogy between the rural committee of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and the working group which, in conjunction with the primary industry group, is currently preparing the Green Paper which was announced by the Prime Minister and myself towards the end of last year. How this Government or any government decides the procedure by which it will work out its policy decisions is a matter for the judgment of the government concerned. The Green Paper which has been referred to is, in fact, a much broader paper than will have been produced in this country for many years. That will be a public document and it will be tabled in this Parliament. It will be available for public debate. So I do not see in what way the honourable senator is relating the work of the Federal Caucus rural committee to the pending Green Paper.
-Does the Minister for Primary Industry recall that I warned him last year that the cost of rock phosphate could rise by as much as 30 to 40 per cent and the cost of sulphuric acid by 50 per cent resulting in a big increase of many dollars per tonne in the price of superphosphate? Is the Minister aware that these increased costs, coupled with the abolition of the superphosphate bounty, will greatly increase costs to rural producers, adversely affecting productivity and also increasing the price of bread and meats to the Australian housewife? Because so many people in the community will be affected, will the Government make a statement on the level of subsidy on superphosphate as soon as it possibly can?
– The Government has made a decision on this matter at this stage by indicating that the present 2 Acts pertaining to the bounties will, in fact, expire at the end of this year. I should point out that the expiry date of that legislation was not nominated by this Government. The legislation was brought in by our predecessors. It was they who put the time limit on the legislation. I ask Senator Young to cast back his mind to 1951 when Sir John McEwen, the then leader of the Australian Country Party, decided, not to phase out, but to stop the fertiliser bounty being paid then. The reasons which he stated then are much the same as the reasons for which this Government has decided today to take this decision. I think that it is as well that the Senate should recall the words of the then leader of the-Country Party. He said:
Today, it is generally acknowledged that there is no longer any need for the bounty for educational purposes because the value of superphosphate is now widely recognised. Nor does any need now exist for the payment of a bounty to encourage the use of superphosphate … In addition, there is no longer any justification for payment from public funds of a bounty to reduce costs of production when for the overwhelming percentage of users it has ceased to serve that purpose.
These are the grounds on which this decision has been taken today. I am quoting from the then Leader of the Country Party.
– The Minister should read the whole speech.
– At some time in the future the honourable senator might like to quote the rest of the speech because there are some other additional comments in these speeches which are particularly pertinent to the position today. Senator Young went on to ask questions about the increased price of phosphate rock. This is quite true. There has been a dramatic increase in prices. Both Morocco and Florida rock have increased in price by about 70 per cent or 80 per cent as from 1 January this year. The demand is increasing. It looks as if the world position will become tighter over the next 12 or 18 months. It is quite true that Senator Young did draw attention to this matter last year. So far as we are concerned in Australia, the supply position should remain adequate because of our fairly assured sources of supply from Nauru, Ocean and Christmas Islands over the next 12 to 1 8 months.
It should also be borne in mind that South Broken Hill Ltd, as the honourable senator would be aware, found very substantial deposits of phosphate rock in North Western Queensland in 1966. That Company estimates those deposits to be in the vicinity of 2,000 million tons of phosphate rock. I believe that it is not of the highest quality, but it is suitable for mining. There were some extensive negotiations with the previous administration on the development of those deposits. Since the change of government, my understanding is that the Company has not proceeded with any further discussions with the Government on the development of those deposits. Nevertheless, they are there and, I suppose, we should be very glad that they are. For the next year or two the position in regard to superphosphate will be tight. One must accept this. However, it does not alter the basic position which the Government has taken. As I said earlier in my answer to a previous question, it is now a matter for the industry to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to present a case for possible reference to the Industries Assistance Commission.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Were the bullets removed from the pistol carried by Mr McLeod before or after the arrival at the office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs of Mr Charles Perkins?
-The bullets were removed after the arrival of Mr Charles Perkins. I think that Mr Charles Perkins used great persuasion to achieve the removal of the bullets.
-Mr President, I see that it is some little time after the customary hour for the conclusion of the asking of questions without notice. I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Report of the Auditor-General
– I lay on the table of the Senate a report of the Auditor-General upon the
Department of Aboriginal Affairs dated March 1974.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks because I have not had a chance to look at the report.
-Mr President, I understand that Senator McAuliffe has something to say. He is the chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
- Mr President, I wish to address myself to the Auditor-General’s report that you have just tabled. I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-In my capacity as Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, I want to make the following statement: The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has already resolved to conduct a public inquiry into the financial administration of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. This resolution followed the Committee’s consideration of the Auditor-General’s supplementary report for 1972-1973 where reference was made in paragraph 3 to apparent departures from the requirements of the Audit Act and Treasury regulations and to certain deficiencies noted in the financial and administrative control over the receipt and expenditure of public moneys and of moneys of the Commonwealth Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises. The Committee also resolved that it would not proceed to public inquiry on these matters until it had examined the special report which the Auditor-General was expected to table early in the autumn session.
The duties of the Committee as set out in Sections 8(a) and 8(b) of the Public Accounts Committee Act make it mandatory for the Committee to examine each statement and report transmitted to the Parliament by the Auditor-General in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 53 of the Audit Act 1901-1973 and to report to both Houses of Parliament with such comment as it thinks fit, any items or matters in those statements and reports, or any circumstances connected with them, to which the Committee is of the opinion that the attention of the Parliament should be directed.
It will be the duty of the Committee, therefore, to examine the special report of the AuditorGeneral which has been tabled today and to decide on the information that will be requested from the Department by way of a submission on which to base the public inquiry.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a communique of the 23rd ANZUS Council Meeting, dated 27 February 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report of the Australian delegation to the 22nd International Conference of the Red Cross. Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr President, I seek leave to have this statement incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
For some years, the International Committee of the Red Cross has convened international conferences to consider and develop all aspects of humanitarian law applicable in time of armed conflict. The first of these conferences took place in 1971 and the second in 1972. Further consideration was given to this work at the 22nd International Conference of the Red Cross, which took place at Teheran on 8- IS November 1973.
Consistently with this Government’s great interest in human rights, including the human rights of the individual in time of armed conflict, the Australian Government was represented at the Teheran conference. The Australian governmental delegation consisted of Mr F. J. Mahony, O.B.E., a Deputy Secretary of my Department, Mr W. Cutts, Australian High Commissioner to Malta, and Colonel P. Cameron from the Department of Defence.
The Australian governmental delegation participated in the work of the General Commission of the conference, and in the work of the Commission on International Humanitarian Law. Australia was also a co-sponsor of a resolution carried by the conference which appealed to all participants at the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation of Development of International Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict that is at present taking place in Geneva to do all in their power by co-operation and fruitful negotiations to secure the widest and swiftest adoption of the two draft protocols proposed to the Geneva Conventions for the purpose of reaffirming and developing international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflict.
The Australian Red Cross Society was also represented at Teheran conference by a delegation led by Sir Geoffrey Newman Morris of Melbourne. Sir Geoffrey was elected chairman of the General Commission of the Conference and was also elected a member of the Standing Commission of the Red Cross.
The report by the leader of the Australian governmental delegation that I am presenting has been edited by the omission of paragraph 1 1 which deals with a matter internal to my Department. As only a few copies of the attachments to the report are available, I am arranging for a copy of the report and the attachments to be placed in the library for use by honourable Senators.
Copies of the attachments to the report will also be available from the Senate Records Office for the perusal of the honourable Senators.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the interim report of the Priorities Review StaffGoals and Stategies- dated December 1973.
– Pursuant to clause 8 of the sugar agreement 1969, I present the report on the operation of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with the Committee’s Financial statements and the Auditor-General ‘s report on those statements.
– As a matter of convenience, at this stage I move:
Tomorrow I propose to give notice of a motion to fix the sitting times of the Senate. Because of some matter on which this is contingent I have not done so today, but it will be proposed to the Senate that we sit tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m. and on Thursday from 1 1 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Because certain Constitution Alteration Bills, some of which already have been before the Senate and, as has been indicated, will be brought on again, it may be necessary for the Senate to sit on Thursday night. But this is contingent on what happens in the meantime. It may not be necessary. I think we will be able to resolve the sessional times tomorrow. For those reasons I have moved that the Senate at its rising adjourn until 2 p.m. tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Soviet Trade Delegation- Medical Graduate Undertaking research in the United Kingdom- Aboriginal Affairs- Public Service- Queensland Floods
Motion ( by Senator Murphy) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Migrants who have come to Australia from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites have asked me to protest at the presence in Australia of Lieutenant-General E. Pitovranov who has admitted that he served for a long period in the Soviet Secret Police (KGB). The migrants do not accept the claim that he has retired from the KGB and is here as a trade official for discussions on, among other matters, patents. Migrants who have suffered from the KGB insist that the only way to leave the KGB is in a coffin. They believe he is here to inspect and make more effective the existing Soviet spy apparatus in Australia. This spy apparatus has, firstly, pressured refugees from the Soviet by threatening reprisals on their relatives; secondly, sought to intimidate Russian Orthodox clergymen to support the Soviet regime, notably at Geelong, Victoria and thirdly, arranged for the Communist organ ‘Homeland’ to be sent to migrants from the Soviet or East Germany. Even when they change their address, the publication follows them to the new address, indicating they are under surveillance and that ‘Big Brother’ is watching them.
The Australian Government has expressed concern at the crimes against humanity which the writer Solzhenitsyn has exposed. The agent carrying out these crimes was the KGB of which Pitovranov was a Lieutenant-General. It is claimed that one of his tasks was to arrange kidnapping of refugees and their transfer to the Soviet. Yet the Australian Government during recent days has given honored treatment and assistance to this same delegation, of which Pitovranov is a member. When another KGB Lieutenant-General visited Britain in the entourage of Khruschev, the British Press, public and Labour Party raised such an outcry that he was sent home. The British Labour Party at a dinner to Khruschev protested so strongly at the denial of human rights in the Soviet implemented by the KGB that Khruschev said that if he had a vote in a British election he would vote Conservative.
Recently the Australian Government refused entry into Australia of a group of Rhodesian Band of Hope girls to show disapproval of alleged denial of human rights there. Why is a Lieutenant-General, who implemented the denial of human rights in the Soviet which Solzhenitsyn exposed, admitted and honoured by the Australian Government?
-I would like to raise a matter on the adjournment debate because it is the only way I can get some publicity for it, or at least I hope I can. I refer to a medical graduate who is trying to do some research work in the United Kingdom. When I was in London recently I was surprised to find that one of the most eminent professors of pediatrics in the United Kingdom and in fact in the world was virtually trying to raise money from notable people in London in order that an Australian medical graduate should be able to undertake research at Kings Hospital in London. I said to him that I was horrified to find that he should be doing this. I said that surely some Australians or some institute or society in Australia should be providing the finance. I said that it was not up to the British to raise funds for an Australian to undertake research.
The facts of this case are that this person is a young doctor who wants to go to the United Kingdom to study for 12 to 18 months in a very highly technical field of pediatrics. He wishes to undertake research into liver and neonatal hepatic diseases and gastroenterology. Apparently no funds are available to enable him to do this work. Once upon a time one only had to appeal to the Adolph Bassers or the Edward Hallstroms for assistance. I wonder where men of their equivalent are to be found today.
– What about the Churchill Foundation?
– I do not know how many institutes will provide financial assistance. When Sir Edward Hallstrom was alive one could telephone him and he would provide the money that was needed. Surely there are Australians who are prepared to further interest in this sort of research work. The amount required in this instance is only about $10,000. It is required to enable the young doctor concerned to visit the United Kingdom for 12 months or 18 months. Perhaps the Minister could raise it with the National Health and Medical Research Council with a view to assistance being given. Apparently the Royal Children’s Hospital Research Foundation cannot obtain funds to send this doctor to carry out the research.
I have raised this matter in the hope that it will attract some publicity which will be seen by a notable Australian who will be prepared to carry on the work of the 2 gentlemen to whom I have referred. Anybody who wishes to help this program should contact me and I will tell him with whom to get in touch so that the research may be carried out in England.
– I have listened with interest to the case to which Senator Turnbull has referred. I am not sure whether it is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) or my colleague the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham). Because I represent each of those colleagues in the Senate I will certainly take up the case with either or both of them and see what, if anything, can be done. By interjection Senator Byrne asked: ‘What about the Churchill Foundation?’ That is one body that may help and I understand that there are others of the same nature. Nonetheless, I will refer the matter to my colleagues the Minister for Education and the Minister for Health.
-I wish to take the time of the Senate briefly to refer to matters which lie within the political responsibility of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) and the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). I refer specifically to events which have occurred mainly over the last week relating to statements made by Mr Charles Perkins, the lodging by the permanent head of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs of charges against Mr Perkins, the suspension of Mr Perkins and the subsequent withdrawal of those charges. Allied to those matters are the incidents which occurred last Thursday at the premises of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. There has been a report about the withdrawal of charges against Mr Perkins. Mr Perkins is not at work now. I read in a newspaper this morning that before Mr Perkins decides whether he will go back to work he will consult his legal adviser. If he intends not to permit the withdrawal of the charges, it seems that they would still be subject to an inquiry. Is it proper to discuss this question when there is the possibility of an inquiry? This raises the question of how much it may influence a jury deciding the question.
– I do not accept the point of order. The rulings I have given on sub judice matters relate to charges that may be preferred and whether the interests of a person on criminal charges would be prejudiced by any comments that were made here. The tendency in the past has been to restrict too narrowly the question of sub judice matters, for a whole range of reasons that I do not wish to canvass at the moment. I had thought that this matter might be raised today or tomorrow and I have come to the conclusion that there is no question of it being sub judice at present. It is a matter of public interest. On that basis I rule that Senator Greenwood may proceed, provided he does not transgress.
– I acknowledge the concern which Senator Cavanagh has expressed and I thank him for the further information, which I did not have, that there is a possibility that the charges will be pursued. I am not concerned with the propriety or otherwise of what Mr Perkins has said or done. Those are matters which are able to be determined by the Public Service Board and the procedures which are established under the Public Service Act. My concern is to examine the relevance to the charges of statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the subsequent action which appears to have been a withdrawal of the charges.
I also wish to refer to the incidents last Thursday afternoon at the premises of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the subsequent court proceedings which took place and were terminated last Friday. I can categorise what has taken place over this week only as an unhappy chapter of concealment, cover-up and intimidation. Each of those words is carefully chosen because the evidence is there to support what I have said. There has been criticism of alleged conspiracies to pervert or obstruct the course of justice in other countries. I certainly say that what has taken place in this country over the last week warrants the most probing examination by an independent authority so that we can see whether our courts are to be told the truth when they come to perform the functions for which they are constituted.
I am concerned about the principles of longstanding application which have been ignored by the Prime Minister of this country. I am concerned about the intimidation and the pressurising which are calculated to undermine the Public Service Board, the provisions of the Public Service Act and the integrity and protection of all members of our Public Service. I am concerned about the improprieties and the abuse of authority which are revealed by the events of the last week, and particularly the curious partially explained- and only partially explained as a result of questions asked here today- misleading of the police, the public and the court which had to try the matter last Friday. I will refer briefly to the chronology of these matters. Approximately a fortnight ago Mr Perkins made a statement in which he made allegations about the character of the parties which previously had been in government. There was controversy as to whether those statements should have been made. The statements were repeated on television. After a period of consideration, as it would appear, charges were laid by the permanent head of the Department and, in accordance with the procedures of the Public Service Act, Mr Perkins was suspended.
The Public Service Act contains quite clear provisions as to what is to happen in those circumstances. Because it generally has not been referred to, I simply refer the Senate to section 55(1) of the Public Service Act, which provides that an officer who is guilty of any disgraceful or improper conduct, either in his official capacity or otherwise, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to such punishment as is determined upon the provisions of the section. That is one of a number of offences for which public servants may be punished. Section 56 deals specifically with First and Second Division officers. It provides:
I understand that Mr Perkins is an officer of the Second Division- is charged by any person with any of the offences mentioned in the preceding section, the Minister, in the case of an officer of the First Division, and the Permanent Head, in the case of an officer of the Second Division, may suspend the officer, and upon such suspension shall forthwith report the charge and suspension to the Board. If the officer does not in writing admit the truth of the charge, the Board shall appoint a Board of Inquiry (consisting of three persons, one of whom shall be the Chairman of the Board of Inquiry, and which shall not include the person by whom the charge was made), which shall inquire into the truth of the charge and shall report to the Board its opinion thereon.
Sub-section (2) indicates that if the charges are admitted or are found to be proved the Board or commissioners may make such recommendations as to the punishment or otherwise of the person charged as seem fit. I believe that to be the procedure which the Government of this country, charged with the administration of our laws, should have been content to follow in order that the rights of individuals under the Public Service Act would be protected. I stress that it is not only Mr Perkins whose rights are in question in regard to this matter but also all other members of the Public Service who may wish to do the sort of things which Mr Perkins claims he is entitled to do or who may wish to know precisely what limits and what constraints are placed upon them.
I acknowledge what I heard the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs say at the time he was questioned about this incident, that is, that as far as he was concerned he felt that it was up to Mr Dexter to determine whether a charge should be laid because, if he was not entitled to say the things which he had said, Mr Perkins would have the realisation that what he had done was wrong and that if, on the other hand, a public servant like Mr Perkins was allowed to say these things other persons in the Public Service would have the same rights. The force of that proposition is abundantly clear. Whether the statements made by Mr Perkins were statements he was entitled to make or not, the fundamental fact is that there were procedures laid down which enable that issue to be determined.
The first matter of concern was the statements of the Prime Minister of that same day, that is, the day on which the charge was laid. I believe that the Prime Minister was guilty of an abuse of his office in making the statements which he made. It was absolutely incredible, particularly in the light of what the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs raised by way of a point of order in this chamber tonight, that the Prime Minister should have chosen the occasion of a Press conference to examine in detail what he understood to be the charges against Mr Perkins and to have said that if he had been the Permanent Head he would not have laid them and that it would be fantastic if Mr Perkins were to be found guilty. He then went on to say, in an even more incredible fashion, that he did not know the evidence upon which Mr Dexter had laid the charges. So we have the position of the Prime Minister not only prejudging the case but also making accusations which are prejudicial to the fair hearing and determination of the matter in the interests of all the persons concerned, on a confessed inadequate apprehension of what had been the evidence upon which the charges had been laid. For a Prime Minister to express his view on a issue which is committed by the Public Service Board to a board of inquiry to adjudicate upon is surely to undermine the authority of the legislation and the integrity of the whole Public Service.
It is not for the Prime Minister to decide Mr Perkins’s guilt. It is not for the Prime Minister to determine the guilt or innocence of any public servant when a charge is laid. The purpose of having a Public Service Act, of having a Public Service Board and of having independent procedures for the determination of charges which are made is to ensure that persons are dealt with fairly and that political favour, political patronage or political prejudice is not the determinant of whether a person has advancement in the Public Service and whether he continues in the Public Service. The standard upon which the Public Service of this country has rested for many years has been such that we have, I would think, one of the finest public services in the world. I think the present Government would acknowledge that it has received magnificent service from a Public Service which has been nurtured in the standards of independence and objectivity and designed to serve any government, whatever be its political complexion. One can only develop this theme on a basis which makes the Prime Minister’s statement the more reprehensible. What is the position of the 3 persons who comprise the -
– I raise a point of order. I have listened to what has been said by the honourable senator. The Senate has a standing order concerning the making of reflections upon the members of other Houses. I have listened while the honourable senator has made a point which seemed to be a point of some substance, but he has now started to enter into abuse of the Prime Minister, using words such as ‘reprehensible’ and so on. I submit, with respect, that the honourable senator ought not to make reflections. He is entitled to make whatever points he wishes to make, but it should not be nesessary for him to have to indulge in the making of reflections and he should not be permitted to do so.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate is somewhat sensitive about this matter. I think that my colleague has touched upon a raw spot. I do not think that to say that a person ‘s conduct is reprehensible falls within the category of a reflection. Senator Greenwood is not indulging in personal abuse. He is giving his opinion of how the conduct of a person who is a member of either this chamber or another chamber ought to be categorised and how it ought to be condemned. I submit that the language used by Senator Greenwood to date has not been in infringement of the Standing Orders of this chamber.
– The Standing Orders are fairly cogent in this respect. Standing order 418 states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any
House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Senator Greenwood is entitled to make out a case in respect of what he believes to be improper action by the Prime Minister. By refraining from the casting of personal reflections he can remain within the Standing Orders and still do so.
– I ask: What must be the position of those persons who constitute the board of inquiry whenever a charge against a public servant has to be considered when the Prime Minister of the day indicates that it would be fantastic for them to find the person charged guilty? I should imagine that those members of the board would wonder what their future would be if they were to do something which the Prime Minister said was fantastic. If the principle is conceded, what would be the position if a Prime Minister were to say that it would be fantastic if such a public servant were not found guilty? What would be the intimidation then upon members of a board of inquiry? The Prime Minister cannot have it both ways. If he is to regard himself as being free to take up the cudgels on behalf of some individual he might equally find himself free to take up the cudgels on behalf of some other individual in some other way. The basic rule that in these matters the political leader of this country should remain silent is a sound rule that is based in experience and justified by the most cogent reasons of commonsense and justice.
Where is the equal freedom and entitlement of all members of the Public Service? I imagine that Third and Fourth Division officers are from time to time charged under the Public Service Act. They would certainly welcome the Prime Minister’s intervention on their behalf because they would expect, if it were to be granted, the same results as have occurred subsequently in the case of Mr Perkins to apply to them. Once it occurs with regard to one individual there is no saying where it will end. That is why I say that what the Prime Minister has done is an example of intimidation that is contrary to the whole principles upon which the Public Service has been established. We would be a weak and pusillanimous Parliament if we were to allow it to pass without mention and condemnation.
Quite apart from the events of last week concerning Mr Perkins and what would seem to be one of the results of the Prime Minister’s intervention, namely, that the charges against Mr Perkins are now apparently to be withdrawn, if only he will consent to their being withdrawn, there were the events of last Thursday afternoon. I believe that this is one of the most frightening examples that one can see of how authority can be misused. We had an account, which was amplified in the newspapers of Friday morning, as to what had happened on that Thursday afternoon. It was a serious event. The newspapers of Friday morning- indeed, of Thursday night- did not minimise the seriousness of what had occurred. As the newspapers indicated, and as I personally observed, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was attended by a fairly substantial guard of persons whilst he was present in Parliament House on Thursday night. It was stated in the Press that that guard had been doubled after the events of Thursday afternoon. That would be an indication of how serious this matter was regarded by those who knew what had occurred.
I was amazed when I found that the only charge which had been levelled against the person who was primarily responsible for the events of that day was that between certain hours of the day he was in possession of a pistol for which he did not have a licence. There were no charges against the other persons who, on all the newspaper accounts which I read, were present at the time. There were no other charges against Mr McLeod, although it was quite apparent that he had possession of a pistol and that he had, in terms of the law, committed other offences with which he could have been charged. If it is suggested that no other charges could have been laid against Mr McLeod for what he did, I think the position ought to be a matter of the utmost urgency for the Attorney-General either to make an ordinance or to introduce legislation into this Parliament today to rectify an omission in the law. But I do not believe that there is an omission in the law. There are various sections, of both the Crimes Act of the Commonwealth and the Crimes Act which applies in the Australian Capital Territory under which other more serious offences could have been laid.
I am not suggesting for one minute that the Attorney-General had any part in the failure to lodge these complaints, but he carries the responsibility for the Australian Capital Territory Police and he has an obligation to explain why only one charge was laid. What reason was there for laying no other charges? Were the police, the Attorney-General and the prosecuting officers in the Crown Solicitor’s office unaware of the events at the office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs? If they were unaware, which persons did not give the information? If persons did not give the information because they were not asked, whose responsibility was it to have asked for that information? Where was the dereliction of duty on the part of the police? Which police were responsible for not doing their job? These questions remain unanswered. I would be suprised if they have not already occurred to Senator Murphy and Senator Cavanagh. Although we managed to extract, somewhat painfully but a little more easily than on other occasions, information from both learned gentlemen in this chamber this afternoon, I am sure that we still have not the full story of the events of Thursday and Friday.
I refer to 2 newspaper reports. All we can rely upon are the reports. The ‘Australian’ of Friday, 1 March, contains an article by a Mr Ernie Davitt. I do not recall knowing him. All I relate is the article in the ‘Australian’. I cannot say whether it is wholly accurate, partly accurate or totally untrue, but it is couched in a form which I do not believe is totally untrue, although there may be the ordinary inaccuracies in newspaper reporting. He states:
Mr F. H. Moy, the principal hostage in the 90-minute drama at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs yesterday told me moments after the ordeal ended: ‘I was an extremely worried man’.
Nervous and still shaking, Mr Moy had a glass of scotch to sooth his nerves as he surveyed the shambles of his office.
I am very relieved it is all over’, he said. ‘I was an extremely worried man as you could imagine.
Three Aboriginals, 2 men and a woman, came into my office. One of the men had a gun.
All of the doors were locked ‘.
Four hostages were taken, including Mr Moy.
We had a discussion’, said Mr Moy. lt was aggressive at times and very noisy.
I managed to calm one of the men down a bit, but when Mr Charles Perkins (the Aboriginal public servant) arrived and spoke to him the situation gradually defused.
The situation was very confusing- I could not work out what they wanted’.
Mr Moy pointed to the back of one of his officers held hostage and said: ‘I was very concerned when the barrel of the gun was right here ‘.
He did not identify the officer.
He said a harrowing moment occurred when a senior public servant from another building knocked on the door of his office and walked in on the gunmen.
He promptly became the fifth hostage.
The door opened and he walked straight into everything’, Mr Moy said.
It was a moment that gave us all a lot of concern.
We had no idea of what was going on outside. We did not expect there to be so many police around the building.
We were all very relieved when it was all over’.
Then there is a statement about the mess in the office and the fact that Mr Moy would have to stay back and clean it that night. I quote that newspaper account because it purports to be an account from the man who was most concerned about his experience. One could not believe that anything like that happened if one reads the account of the court proceedings the following day. I have 2 articles. They appear identical, except that the ‘Canberra Times’ report is more extensive than the ‘Australian’ report. The articles are an account of some of the things which were said in court the following day. I refer to the report in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 2 March. After relating the charge which was laid against Mr McLeod and the fact that a number of persons attended the court, the following article appears:
Sergeant Arthur Brown, of the Canberra CID, said he had spoken to Mr McLeod at about 4 p.m. in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs building about a .22 calibre revolver that had been handed to him.
Mr McLeod had admitted it was his but said he did not have a licence for it.
Sergeant Brown said the revolver was unloaded and there was no evidence of any ammunition. Mr McLeod had been very co-operative at all times and was not at all violent, he said.
Then Mr Charles Perkins gave evidence. On the account which was given by Sergeant Arthur Brown, it would appear that there is an inconsistency between the account which he gave and the account which Senator Cavanagh gave this afternoon which Senator Cavanagh said he had obtained as a result of his own diligence in going to the Department, asking the questions and getting the answers. Why did Sergeant Arthur Brown either not know the facts or, if he knew the facts, why was the account which he gave given to the court? There is absolutely no doubt that the court was misled. The same report contains a reference to a Mr Hausman. The report continues:
Another witness to the incident on Thursday, Mr Selwyn Hausman, said he had taken the pistol from Mr McLeod and had given it to the police.
When the Press had arrived he had surrendered the pistol.
Earlier, the pistol had sometimes been on view but was mostly in Mr McLeod ‘s pocket.
No one had been actually threatened by the pistol.
That account would appear to be inconsistent with the account which was given by Mr Moy in his statement to Mr Davitt of the ‘Australian’. I can refer only to the inconsistencies in the accounts because I do not know where the truth lies. It certainly would appear that Mr Hausman was the person who took the pistol from Mr McLeod. It would seem that Mr Hausman had been present at all times during this incident and that he would have known, on what Senator Cavanagh said today, that the pistol had been unloaded, and had been unloaded in his presence, and that he allowed this representation to be made to the court that the pistol was not loaded. Whether the pistol had been stuck into the back of one of the officers, as Mr Moy said, is a matter for other persons to ascertain when they have heard everyone’s account. It would seem strange that a person who is apparently a solicitor I say that on the basis of Senator Murphy’s statement today- should have given an account, as he has given, which in at least one respect requires further explanation in the light of Senator Cavanagh ‘s statement today.
Finally, one looks at the statement of Mr Nicholl, the magistrate. The report continues:
Mr Nicholl said it appeared that Mr McLeod had used the pistol Tor political purposes to draw attention to causes he thought valid- to improve conditions for the Aboriginal peopie.
However, the pistol had been carried in a very public area where some unhappy consequences might have followed even though the pistol was unloaded, he said.
The fact that the magistrate had been told that the pistol was unloaded was a fact which had some weight in his decision to impose a line upon and to give a bond to Mr McLeod. I raise these matters because to me there appears to be some concealment. There appears to have been some cover-up. It relates to the material or the information which was presented to the court. I believe that an explanation is due to the Senate by both Senator Cavanagh and the AttorneyGeneral, in the circumstances which I have mentioned, why the full information was not given to the court. Senator Cavanagh and Senator Murphy carry the political responsibility foi these matters. Has there been a conspiracy by certain persons so as not to let the full facts come out? What is the relationship between this particular incident and the subsequent dropping of the charges against Mr Perkins? It all has the air of a great convenience which may or may not be justified in terms of suspicion. But, whilst there is this silence and refusal to come clean in respect of all matters relating to what happened last Thursday, the accusation will remain, and it is an accusation which gives no credit, I believe, to any of the persons who are involved, actually or by implication or suggestion, in the events. It is for those reasons that I raise the matter, and I invite both Ministers to reply.
– Order! Senator Murphy moved the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, so I will not call him now because if he speaks that closes the debate and I see other honourable senators rising.
– I want 5 minutes, and I suggest that I speak just before Senator Murphy.
-I wish to say a few words in relation to this matter. I am very concerned about the relationship between the Public Service and this Parliament. A week or so ago we had Mr Charles Perkins making certain statements which, in the opinion of certain people, conflicted with what he should be doing as a public servant. It is to the credit of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, that he stood firm on what he believed was the correct action to take. It is my belief that Senator Cavanagh is a Minister who does his utmost to carry out the responsibilities of his portfolio in a very honest and sincere manner. He is very well regarded by those of us who know him. Senator Cavanagh made a certain stand which he honestly believed to be correct, and I think in the eyes of most people it would be considered to be correct. I think it was despicable for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to undermine that stand. His action was very serious so far as the democracy of this country is concerned. Both the well regarded Minister, Senator Cavanagh, and the very well regarded member of the Public Service, Mr Dexter, of whom everybody speaks in the highest terms, felt that some action should be taken in relation to this matter, and Mr Perkins was suspended. Of course, the charge was to be proceeded with and was to be considered. But what did we find? The Prime Minister intervened and said that he would do everything to stop it from proceeding.
– He tried him at a Press conference.
– As my colleague, Senator Lillico, said, he tried Mr Dexter at the Press conference. I think this is a terrible situation to have developed. We find the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the head of the Department being degraded or attempts being made to degrade them in the eyes of the public and the Public Service when, in my opinion, they were both doing a first-class job.
– It would have been better if the Prime Minister was where he usually isabroad would it not?
– I will probably make some remarks about that in a few minutes. It is very serious that the Prime Minister should intervene in this way. I have spoken to a number of public servants in this regard. For what reason did the Prime Minister take this unprecedented action? I have asked average public servants whether they think the Prime Minister would have interceded on their behalf had they done something of this nature, and they have said that of course he would not. Why did the Prime Minister intercede in this case? It was because Mr Perkins is, I think, a quarter-caste Aboriginal. The Prime Minister was playing up to the Aborigines in this regard. What we have to remember is that in this country there are between 12 million and 13 million nonAboriginal people and there are 150,000 Aborigines, whether they are full-blooded, half-caste, quarter-caste or one-eighth Aboriginal. I think it is about time we decided when a person is an Aboriginal and when he is not an Aboriginal. From the way in which the Prime Minister has been going on one would think that these 150,000 Aborigines were the 12 million or 13 million non-Aboriginal people. As a matter of fact, the reaction I am getting from people is that it is time somebody stood up for the rights of whites in this country. I really think that the bias shown by the Prime Minister in stabbing his own Minister and the head of the Department in the back indicates in no uncertain terms what the Prime Minister is. He is running around the world telling people this and that about our country. He talks about racism and all the rest of it. I say that his action indicates that he, the Prime Minister, is a racist.
- Senator Bonner is not interested in this; he is not here.
– I do not care whether Senator Bonner is here or not. I say what I think. The honourable senator should not get his temperature up. In the course of my speech somebody interjected and said something about the Prime Minister staying in Australia. That brings to mind another incident involving the Prime Minister. I come from the State of Queensland. Recently that State suffered probably the greatest natural tragedy that has happened in this country. The people in and around the Brisbane area suffered great hardship. They lost their homes and their property and were caused great inconvenience and danger.
– How much did you give them?
– I gave my contribution, and I have made it public. Homes in the city of Ipswich have been swirled away in the floods. In the west and north-west of Queensland people have suffered the loss of cattle and sheep and so on. In those areas homes were almost completely submerged and people were sitting on rooftops waiting to be taken off by helicopter. Yet this Prime Minister of ours left for overseas when that flood was reaching its peak. He would not stay. He is the great prima donna. He must appear on the world stage. He is so vain, conceited and arrogant that he thinks that when he goes overseas and talks the whole world is shattered, shivering and shaking from what he says. Of course, the statement was made that his program was arranged and could not be altered. He could have easily flown over the area and had a look at what was taking place before he left.
Let me contrast his actions with those of a former Prime Minister, the late Harold Holt. When Harold Holt was in New Zealand as the Prime Minister of this country and the bushfires occurred in Tasmania, what did he do? He returned to this country immediately. But during the time that these floods were causing this devastation the Prime Minister did not send one word of message to the people of the State in which this damage was occurring. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane tried to cover up for him by saying that he was in constant contact with the Prime Minister while he was away. What happened? The Prime Minister put in an appearance at the Brisbane Airport. He flew over the Brisbane Airport at night. He would see a great deal of damage at night! He spent about an hour in the Brisbane Airport.
It is all right for honourable senators opposite to make a display; it is to their credit that many of them were very hostile about the fact that their Prime Minister did not have a look at what was going on in Queensland. People might say: What could he do?’ We are human beings, and the very fact of the Prime Minister recognising the intensity of the tragedy by going and looking and expressing sympathy to the people of Queensland when they were suffering such tribulation would, I am sure, have touched the hearts and minds of the people much more than the action he took subsequently. My personal point of view is that the fact that the Prime Minister completely ignored the tragedy that took place in that State over that period of time indicates his lack of warmth and feeling for people.
I know that the people of the north-western regions of Queensland must have been very happy to read, after they were lifted from their roof tops by helicopters, how Mr and Mrs Whitlam and their daughter had a very happy day in Thailand being entertained by the King and Queen of Thailand. It must have given those people great pleasure to know that in all their adversity, trials and troubles Mr Whitiam had a happy day in Thailand with the King and Queen. It is quite evident that the Prime Minister lacks the warmth of human feeling and kindness, because he did not even go to Queensland and see the devastation and destruction that had taken place in that State of the Commonwealth. In my mind there are 2 things: The Prime Minister is a racist and he is such a conceited, arrogant person that all he wants to do is perform on a world basis.
– Order! Senator Wood, you have no right to use that language.
– I am prompted to say a few words. I did not intend to speak but I feel that after hearing Senator Wood express himself in those terms as a senator from Queensland I would be remiss if I did not rise and dissociate myself from the remarks that he has made regarding the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Federal Government’s treatment of the flood devastation in Queensland. I am sure he has been carried away with his hatred of the Prime Minister. A lot of the things that he has expressed are figments of his imagination. I am sorry to say that he handled the truth carelessly. Even the Premier of Queensland, whom one would not class as a great admirer of the Prime Minister, is on record in the newspapers and over the radio in Queensland as announcing publicly on many occasions that he was more than satisfied with the consideration that the Prime Minister and the Federal Government had shown in assessing the devastation in Queensland as a result of the floods.
As I said at the outset I rise not to answer the charges made by Senator Wood because I do not think they have been made temperately. They have been most intemperate. He has been excited and fired by his bitter hatred, as he has expressed on innumerable occasions in this chamber, of the Prime Minister. Seeing that the honourable senator is on record as saying that he spoke to several people in Queensland who expressed their concern at the treatment handed out by this Government and the Prime Minister to Queensland, I feel that the record should be corrected and put in order to show that all sections of State government and local authorities in Queensland have been generous in their appreciation of what the Prime Minister and the Federal Government have done in Queensland.
– This is a serious matter with some very wide implications and it deserves better than simply a rebel rousing. It has a number of implications, some of which have been developed by Senator Greenwood. In this case we have a Prime Minister who has gone out of his way to break every principle of Cabinet rule, of Westminster rule, to undermine the authority of the head of a public department acting, as was his responsibility, to uphold the law which he serves. We have a Prime Minister acting to weaken the authority of his Minister, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh), because clearly anything that attempts to weaken the permanent head of a department weakens the Minister concerned. We have a Prime Minister who attempted through a Press conference to use undue influence on a judicial tribunal that was to sit. We have a Prime Minister who provocatively led people to think that they could in future break laws with impunity because they would get his omnipotent blessing. This is something we must look at in greater depth than in an adjournment debate.
I wish to raise 2 matters and I invite the 2 responsible Ministers to look at them. The cold facts of the matter are that since last Thursday, until today and perhaps beyond, the whole of the Australian public has been misled and so have the courts of the land. The facts are that very reluctantly today, minute by minute, in an episodic way by instalments, we got from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and from the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) new facts which should have been available to the public and which should have been proffered and not wrung out of the Ministers. Let me state the case as I see it. Some incidents occurred on Thursday afternoon. One presumes that they were made known immediately to the 2 responsible officers, the Minister for the department concerned and the Attorney-General who is in charge of the Crown Law Office and the Commonwealth Police. One presumes that both those Ministers would set out immediately to equip themselves with every fact of the case. One presumes that the Attorney-General in particular would equip himself with the facts to ensure that the charges to be laid before the courts were the correct charges in accordance with the known facts. What do we find?
– Are you serious?
– I missed the AttorneyGeneral’s interjection. I am always grateful for his interjections. Perhaps he will repeat it.
– I said: ‘Are you serious?’
– I am deadly serious. I believe that the 2 Ministers had a bounden duty, a responsibility, to find out on Thursday afternoon what were the facts. With the knowledge of those facts the Attorney-General certainly had a duty to see that justice was done and that justice was not perverted. What do we find today? No doubt he is going to tell us that it was a matter for the police to lay charges and that Attorneys must not interfere with the police. We have had this kind of lecture before.
We have had today from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a statement- I am subject to correctionthat in the last 24 hours he sought to get information. It could have been this morning; I may have misheard. I do not wish to do an injustice to the Minister who in my view has been trying to do a first class job. I say that from my seat in the Senate. But if only this morning the Minister went across to his Department to find what were the facts I have to say that he was recreant to his duty. If only this morning he discovered that in fact the pistol was loaded and the circumstances of the loading of the pistol; if only this morning he discovered- he said this in the chamber this afternoon- that a young girl, a receptionist I think, was threatened- and one presumes threatened by a loaded pistol- to use the Minister’s words, I say that the Minister should have informed himself on the Thursday and should have seen that the proceedings from then onwards were carried out with full justice.
– Unless there was a conspiracy to withhold the truth.
– I do not say these things at the moment. Here is a government- and in particular an Attorney-General- which has mouthed the words of ‘open government’ hour by hour, minute by minute. Every time the AttorneyGeneral is involved he is in a complete conspiracy of silence. We cannot wring out of him the facts. We have to get them out. We still wait after years for answers to questions on past misdemeanours.
The simple fact is that the public was given a picture, and allowed to have the picture right up until this moment, of circumstances that were completely untrue. On evidence this must be so because the Ministers today have told us an entirely different thing. A court was allowed to proceed with a case on evidence that was grossly untrue. I do not for one moment say anything about the public servants concerned. The public servants concerned no doubt acted with great presence of mind. I have been inside mobs; I have been on occasions under threat- and being more cowardly than most I can understand what happens in emotional circumstances. I do not reflect at all on a situation which no doubt people present thought ought to be cooled and a solution reached which might save lives. That is understandable. But it is not the responsibility of a Prime Minister or his Ministers to conceal the facts from the public. The true facts should come out. What we are really doing is subscribing to paying a ransom, because that is all that happened on Thursday: A ransom was agreed upon and paid in the circumstances. I do not know whether a conspiracy occurred.
I would like to ask one clear question of both Ministers, and it must be asked: Before, during or after the incidents were they as Ministers, their departmental officers, their advisers or any persons connected with them politically contacted, given the information and an advice from them passed back? In other words, was there any communication or involvement at any time on a political level with those involved so that a bargain was made and a ransom paid? This must be unqualified if we as a Parliament, and the public, are to understand these things. Was there any interchange? Is it a fact that there was no coInmunication between the Department and the Minister during the incident? Were both Ministers, having been alerted to the situation, not teed up with instantaneous communication? If there was communication, was a suggestion made at any time to either Minister, or any other Minister, that any bargain should be made, and what was the response?
I rest on 3 principles: The one of the Prime Minister, which is too big for an adjournment debate; secondly, that the public and the courts of law have been wilfully misled; and that if the Ministers themselves did not inform themselves on the Thursday, they should have done so, and if they did so on the Thursday and allowed the public to be continually misled, they have committed a grave fault. If they did inform themselves then and they allowed a court to proceed on evidence which was a perversion of justice they have committed a fault; and if they did not seek to find that evidence, they should have done so. Why do we wait until Tuesday to find this evidence? Why is it that we are getting it bit by bit? Is there any more? Those are the matters before the public. Those are the matters that require answers.
– Before Senator Murphy, who I take it will reply to the legal question of the trial, rises to reply, I desire to say one or two things. Firstly, this is an attack by senators who are substituting for a legal trial a trial by newspaper reports. All that we have heard tonight is what has been published in the newspapers. On the question of Mr Charles Perkins I have said at all times that I support the charge laid against him. At the Press Club luncheon last week I told those present that there is a story behind the charging of Mr Perkins- a story that I do not think should be kept quiet. It is possibly a departmental one. But I had sufficient fairness to say that: ‘Because of the possibility of a trial I do not think I should say anything that may prejudice a trial’. That was somewhat applauded. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is criticised because it is interpreted that he took a different attitude at a time when we are not sure whether there will be a trial. The Opposition gets up and says: ‘Because the Prime Minister was wrong, we repeat the same error’. The Opposition can have no citicism of the Prime Minister. I thought that Senator Greenwood would be fair when I raised a point of order and pointed out that charges against Mr Perkins may still proceed. All I know is what has been published, that Mr Dexter is prepared to withdraw the charge today, that he is prepared to lift the suspension today and has advised Mr Perkins to go back to work. I know only that I have seen the Press report that Mr Perkins would consult his legal adviser before he replied to this suggestion. I was at the departmental office this morning. Mr Perkins was not there. I am informed that he arrived there at 2 o’clock or some time past 2 o’clock this afternoon and remained there until knock off time. Whether this was for employment and whether he has accepted the terms I do not know.
But if there is any criticism of anyone for trying to prejudge an issue then the Opposition senators are not going to put that criticism against me. I do not stoop to the extent to which the Opposition will stoop for the purpose of making a point against the Prime Minister. There was no question of the Prime Minister stabbing his Minister in the back. At the Press interview he commented that he had full faith in his Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and that in his opinion he was doing a good job.
There was no doubling of the guard on myself as a result of what happened on Thursday night. As it turned out, it is like the question we had today about the inspection at the airport. A guard on me was never necessary. It was one of those precautions we take because without it it could be too late if something should happen. There was never at any time any intention by the Aboriginals who congregated outside on the lawns to take violent action. One man, I think, became under the influence of liquor and had a gun, and that man went into the departmental offices armed, a fact which was not known to anyone associated with the Aboriginal cause who was demonstrating on the lawns. I went out of my way to give all the facts that I know of this case. I first went out of my way to find the facts.
– Why were you not told by your officers?
– I was told by my officers. One of my officers was in consultation with me at all times while the siege was going on. On Thursday afternoon while I was in my office and not in the House to listen to the Queen’s opening speech, he was advising me. But he was advising me only of what was happening in the building. No one knew what was happening in that particular room. There were 8 men in the room and one gun. This is a question of the belief of those who were in the room that the individual would have used the gun. Can anyone be critical of what happens in such a situation when people are caring for their lives? There was no agreement between me and anyone who was in that room because what was going on in the room was unknown to me and to anyone outside, although I believe that messages were being taken out by Mr Charles Perkins. He was conveying the terms on which the individuals in the room were prepared to surrender the gun. The terms were that those in the room whose lives were threatened would be prepared to give an undertaking that they would not lay charges. This is all that was offered. There was no question of ransom. Of course, we all know that on any occasion when someone’s life is threatened terms are made in order to get the person threatening the life to surrender. It was agreed that the persons threatened would not lay charges. They have not laid charges. They are honouring their agreement.
Immediately afterwards, a police inspector interviewed Mr Moy. I think I said in reply to a question today that Mr Moy did not make a statement. That is what I gathered from his reply to me this morning. But what actually happened was that he went out and spoke to the policeman. He was asked by the policeman- I believe he was an inspector- whether the gun was loaded. He said: ‘I have nothing to say’. That is what happened on that occasion. The police agreed as to what might happen to the man who had the gun if he surrendered it. They said: ‘We will have him medically examined ‘. That was conveyed to the individual. He was medically examined. Perhaps he thought that that was all that would happen.
The police had to decide whether to lay a charge at the time he was cleared after the medical examination. They decided to lay a charge. They had no evidence at all that there ever were bullets in that revolver. The only charge for which there was evidence was that the person had an unregistered firearm. The police laid the only charge that they could prove. They have to prove a charge in court. When the case came before the court the man pleaded guilty to the charge. A plea of guilty is not a case in which the police bring evidence. I think it was stated that Mr Arthur Brown gave evidence of the information he had received in the Department and of the refusal of Mr Moy to answer his question as to whether there were bullets in the revolver. That was the evidence before the court. The court convicted according to the evidence. That is all a court can do. That was the whole of the evidence before the court. Those who gave evidence for the defence gave character evidence.
– The whole of the false evidence before the court.
-No. The whole of the evidence that was given for the defence was character evidence. The witnesses gave their knowledge of the defendant in this case.
– What about Mr Hausman?
- Mr Hausman gave evidence. No one has read the transcript of the proceedings. There was not a lie in the whole transcript. If there was any deceiving of the court, it would have come from counsel representing the defendant during his address to the magistrate. Counsel representing the defendant has one job, as I understand it, and that is to do the best he can for his client. I take it that he would put the facts as known to him. I believe that the counsel was Mr Higgins. No one is going to tell me that he got up and made a deliberately untruthful statement. It was simply a matter of giving the evidence that was given to him, namely, that there were not bullets in the gun. He made the statement in the court, which was repeated in the Press the following day. The position is that we accept that because what counsel has done is to present the facts. He had no responsibility and no knowledge to give any other facts. Senator Greenwood quoted from the ‘Australian ‘ newspaper. This report was shown to be false. It stated that 2 men and a woman went into the office armed and held up 5 hostages. Of course, this was completely false. There was never a women in there. There were never 5 hostages in there. There were only four. The position is that the defendant in the case, Mr McLeod, and one other person, believed to be a Mr Johnson, went into the office. Two people went in. They were joined afterwards by a Mr Hausman, who is the legal man, and by Mr Foster. Whether they were in there when Mr McLeod had the gun, I do not know. I knew on the Thursday night that the gun was loaded. I knew that.
– How did you find that out?
– The Minister permitted a police officer to go to court and not to be informed of that fact. It was withheld from him. He presented false evidence to the court.
-See how they prejudge a trial. I knew on the Thursday night that the gun was loaded. I also knew that a man had been arrested and that he was to be medically examined. I knew that he was to be charged. I did not know what the charge was. It was not for me to take my hearsay information to the police court and interfere again in another trial. That is what honourable senators want me to do. They want me to interfere in someone’s trial. What has happened is that the police acted on the only evidence they had available. The case is complete. The trial is ended. Now is the time to speak out if anyone wants to.
Because I knew that I would be asked a series of questions today and because of rumours which were going around the building yesterday, I went over to consult those who were in the seige on Thursday so that I would have first hand information to give to those to whom I am responsible- the members of the Parliament of Australia. I went over and obtained that information so that I could recite it properly. That is when I discovered that a girl also had been threatened. These are all the facts of the matter. I have come out and answered every question. I had no leave to make a statement. Honourable senators opposite did not wait to see whether I would make a statement. To every question asked I answered as fully and as frankly as I could. I could not have answered more frankly. Why is there criticism? Honourable senators opposite are criticising me for being honest with them and the police for doing a good job on that occasion. My God, if men’s lives are threatened and the matter is resolved without loss of life or injury- and injury could have been caused if there had been an invasion of the office- we have not done too badly in the siege. And that is what happened on this occasion. I think the information which I had is known to everyone now. But let us examine the realities of the case. There should not be this condemnation because somebody has read something in the Press. This should not be a matter of condemnation because there might be political advantage. This whole exercise does have some political advantage. I agree with what has been said, namely, that we have reached an unfortunate period in history. I hope it never happens that people who are going about their lawful duties will be threatened with lethal weapons. We are at the stage now of trying to solve the whole problem. We have had our trial and we have had our conviction. Everyone has done everything humanly possible on this occasion. They acted according to the rules of law. Are they to be condemned for doing so?
– in reply- A large number of questions has been asked. I do not think that it is possible to deal with all of the matters that have been raised here. However, some of the ones that I recall are important. I think that it was Senator Carrick who asked whether any bargain was made with either of the Ministers concerned. The honourable senator has had the answer from Senator Cavanagh that there was no bargain made with him and the answer from me is that no bargain was made with me. As to what was done about the matter, I state that I was told during the course of Thursday afternoon in some general terms of this incident when I was in the President’s room. I then made certain that the Commissioner of Police was fully in charge of the matter. I also went to see Senator Cavanagh to see whether there was any assistance needed by him further than what had been done. Apparently, he was in communication with those in the building.
In one respect I think that I should correct what Senator Cavanagh said. He said that the man McLeod agreed to be medically examined. As I indicated earlier during question time, this arose from what was known of the history of the man. Although Senator Cavanagh has said- and I said- that an examination was held and he said that the man was cleared, I think that the Senate ought to know, since we are trying to understand this issue that this is not, I think from what has been told to me, a complete description of the matter. It was said by those who examined him that he was not certifiable. But to say that he was cleared is not a proper description in the terms in which I was given it. I am informed that the view was taken that he ought to have psychiatric treatment.
I think we all have a fair picture of what happened. The charge was laid. I have no doubt that one could think of other charges which could be laid. The police laid a charge. I have a transcript of the proceedings and anyone else could have a transcript of these proceedings. Very short evidence was given by the police. I do not think that it can be suggested that in any way there was any misleading by the police in the court proceedings. Evidence was also elicited from witnesses brought by the defence. I do not intend to enter into the question of whether any false evidence was given. Others have suggested that here in the Senate in various ways. Some have said it and Senator Greenwood has inferred that false evidence has been given. These are very serious charges to make about the proceedings which have been conducted in the court. Names of individuals have been suggested as the ones who have given some false evidence or been a party to some conspiracy. These are extremely serious crimes which have been suggested against various persons. I do not propose to enter into those matters although the Opposition has seen fit to do so.
– Will the Leader of the Government have an inquiry?
– I have already indicated that there is an investigation in progress on various aspects of this matter. I will say no more at this juncture on that matter. What seems to me to be important is that this kind of conduct be not tolerated in this community. I have said that earlier today. But if any impression has been created from the incidents of the last few days that the intimidation of public servants or others will be tolerated, I want to have it made clear beyond any doubt whatever that it will not be tolerated. Whatever may have been the exigencies of the time, taking into account what has been said about the known history of the person involved, I think it is probable that the persons in the emergency of the time did what they thought was necessary and tried to act in the wisest way possible. But I think what we need to do is to show- I think that it is apparent from what everyone said- that any kind of intimidation of the type that occurred will not be tolerated in this community.
– What about the matter that I raised?
-I am sorry. Senator McManus raised certain matters. I think that it is properly the function of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) to deal with them. May I say that the information with which I have been supplied indicates that Mr Petovronov attended a meeting of the Executive Committee of the International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property. The meeting was held in Melbourne from 24 February to 2 March 1974. The Association has been in existence for some 80 years and takes a leading part in the development of international law relating to industrial property. The Association is organised on the basis of national groups. My information is that Mr Petovronov is the President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ national group.
Over 100 representatives from more than 30 countries attended the meeting in Melbourne. There was a substantial representation from both Western and Eastern European countries as well as from North and South America and Japan. The Commissioner of Patents and officers of the Government attended the meeting as observers. It is understood, again from the information, that Mr Petovronov has attended a number of previous meetings of the Association as a representative of the USSR in countries outside of the USSR, including Mexico, Switzerland and France. It may be that the Minister for Foreign Affairs or his Department can supply me with further material in relation to the visit. I understand what has been put by the honourable senator in relation to the background of Mr Petovronov. If the Minister has anything to add in relation to the questions which have been raised that he thinks proper, no doubt he will do so on his return to Australia from overseas.
A further matter was raised in regard to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). No doubt, this will be cleared up when the debate takes place on the question of natural disasters. Of course, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) was present in Brisbane as well as Mr Crean and others. A great deal of assistance will be given by the Commonwealth. Some assistance has been given already by the Commonwealth for the alleviation of the consequences of the floods in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. I think that when the full facts are known the Senate will appreciate the admirable efforts which were made by the Government and the personal interest which the Prime Minister has taken himself in seeing to it that not merely some sightings or journeying around took place but also that real and positive help will be given to the people who are affected. He has done what he could do. His Deputy was there. He had commitments to go elsewhere. All in all, no government has ever given such help as has been given by the Australian Government on this occasion and this is only a small pan of what is to come.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 7.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1974/19740305_SENATE_28_S59/>.