29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present 2 petitions, identical in wording and from 37 and 59 citizens of Australia respectively, in the following terms:
To the Honourable, the President and members of the Senate of Australia in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That, in modern society which accepts divorce, the law of divorce should be fair to both parties. However, we are very concerned about proposals to alter the law in the Family Law Bill 1974.
The Family Law Bill, 1974 would fundamentally change the institution of marriage itself; that is all existing and future marriages.
The said Bill does not protect the legal and social rights of women and children in the family.
The said Bill does not provide for either the training of suitable counsellors who can assist in conciliation procedures or for suitable initiatives to be taken prior to the breakdown of marriage.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this Bill be tabled for 6 months and that all sections of the community be consulted on marriage, the family and the long term effects of such a Bill upon our Australian society.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petitions received and first petition read.
– I present the following petition from 93 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable, the President and members of the Senate of Australia in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That, in modern society which accepts divorce, the law of divorce should be fair to both parties. However, we are very concerned about proposals to alter the law in the Family Law Bill 1974.
The Family Law Bill, 1974 would fundamentally change the institution of marriage itself; that is all existing and future marriages.
The said Bill does not protect the legal and social rights of women and children in the family.
The said Bill does not provide for either the training of suitable counsellors who can assist in conciliation procedures or for suitable initiatives to be taken prior to the breakdown of marriage.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this Bill be tabled for 6 months and that all sections of the community be consulted on marriage, the family and the long term effects of such a Bill upon our Australian society.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 1 8 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
Divorce is a social and medical problem not a legal issue and be relieved accordingly.
There must be urgent reform and the Family Law Bill must be presented to Parliament forthwith and accepted without further delay.
Irretrievable breakdown must be the only ground with a maximum of 12 months separation.
All family matters must come out of the legal system.
There must be no lawyers- no courts- and especially- no judges.
DLRA’s proposals must be considered for the new divorce laws.
1 ) The persons themselves to record their own divorce at the place where marriages are made.
Guidelines to be established by mediators (non lawyers) to resolve difficulties particularly with children and property.
Joint custody and mutual financial support of children where possible.
Child endowment to provide financial support of children when needed.
Property disputes to be resolved as an ordinary civil matter.
Adults not self supporting to be regarded as unemployed or on sickness benefit or pensions.
Only the breach of agreement should incur legal process and the Family Law Bill used as a last resort, with family courts for enforcement only.
The motivation of lawyers in family matters is for profit only and their involvement has proved a disaster for the community since 1959.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to inform honourable senators that we have present in the gallery this morning delegates attending the Second Australasian Parliamentary Seminar arranged by the Australian and New Zealand branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The delegates come from branches of the Association in the Pacific and South East Asian areas and in the Australian States and Territories. Seminar sessions were held last week in Perth and Adelaide and will conclude here in Parliament House on Friday. I am sure that the Senate would wish me to welcome the delegates and to express our hope that the seminar has been successful and rewarding.
Honourable senators- Hear, Hear!
Notice of Motion
– On behalf of Senator Chaney and myself I give contingent notice of motion of an amendment to the Family Law Bill as follows:
That, contingent upon the Family Law Bill 1974 being considered in Committee of the Whole, I shall move the following amendment: Page IS, clause 26, sub-clause (2), line 5, leave out ‘twelve months’, insert ‘two years’.
-Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that the decision of several unions to withdraw financial support from the Australian Labor Party and the threat by others to follow suit is an indication that most Australian workers feel let down and double crossed by this Government?
– It is a matter for the trade unions to decide what they might do. The Australian Government and the Australian Labor Party have done a great deal for trade unionism in this country.There is no doubt that from time to time some unions may not agree with everything that the Government has done, but it has been remarkable how over the whole of this century the great bulk of the trade union movement has stuck solidly with the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, in recent years there has been a tendency for some of the trade unions which were not associated with the Australian Labor Party to become associated with it. In white collar workers’ organisations especially there has been a great recognition of the benefits that have been brought by Labor governments and of the sense of the policies espoused by this Government. So, if the Leader of the Opposition thinks that he can get any comfort from some criticisms that might be expressed now, I assure him that when he looks over the space of the years that is a very temporary enjoyment that he will have.
– My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the economy. With the knowlege that man cannot live by bread alone, will the Minister inform the Senate of the level of consumption of beer, wine and spirits per head of population for the September quarter compared with previous quarters? In view of the quality of the answer which he gave me yesterday, he might also supply to the Senate comparative figures for cigarettes and tobacco for the same period.
-As a matter of fact, I have come prepared with some of the figures. In regard to the per capita consumption of beer they show an annual increase from 127 litres in 1971-72 to 141 litres in this financial year. I do not have the figures for wine, but the indications are that they are increasing. The per capita consumption of spirits has increased from 1 litre to 1.3 litres. I think the figure for the consumption of tobacco has remained fairly constant over the last 4 years. Whilst the figures for alcoholic products show some variations because of pre-Budget speculation and so on, they clearly indicate that Australians are drinking a little more than usual, and I can only explain this by saying that they are drinking and they will continue to drink out of joy. It is only in areas where the Liberal and Country parties hold sway that people drink out of sorrow.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Special Minister of State. Is the Minister aware that the Local Government Association of Western Australia has alleged that there is discrimination by the Federal Government in the treatment of applications for unemployment grants to authorities in that State? Will the Minister outline the criteria to be met before a local government authority qualifies for a grant? In view of the serious allegations, will he also table in the Senate lists of Western Australian local authorities which have applied for grants and those which have had their applications approved?
– Order ! Before Senator Willesee, the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, answers that question, I should like to say how pleased we are to see him back recovered from his indisposition.
-I will have to get the Minister for Health on to this problem of influenza. I take it that Senator Drake-Brockman is talking about the grants that fall within the responsibility of the Australian Grants Commission?
-A11 right. There is a lot of detail involved in the question. I am aware that there is some dissatisfaction. I will refer the question to the Minister and get a reply for the honourable senator as soon as I can.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the price of bread in New South Wales has risen to 41c a loaf, the fourth increase in 5 months? Has the Minister noted that this rise means that the price of bread- a staple part of family diet- has risen by 32 per cent since the Federal elections in May? Does the Minister acknowledge that monopolisation is now a feature of the baking industry and that this rise is the highest commodity rise in the period? Will the Government give urgent consideration to ordering an inquiry into the blatant disregard of community interests by bread manufacturers?
– The honourable senator indicated that monopolisation is now a feature of the baking industry. My understanding is that that has been the position for some considerable time; for some years the baking industry or the bread industry has been highly monopolised. I am unable to assure the honourable senator with any degree of certainty, but my understanding is that through a series of subsidiaries there is an enormous concentration of control of the Australian bread industry in the Uunited States of America. It is through the operations of what I understand to be an extremely tight monopoly that the price of bread has increased by this extraordinary amount. I agree that this matter ought to be looked into by the appropriate authorities, including the committee of this Parliament which is concerned with prices, and also the Prices Justification Tribunal.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral confirm that expenditure by the Commonwealth of moneys to purchase either the buildings or the plant of the Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Limited in Sydney for the purposes of public housing or car production is not authorised by this Parliament or by the Constitution? Will he therefore put into proper perspective claims by Mr Hawke, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and President of the Australian Labor Party, that the Commonwealth Government cannot constitutionally do what he says it ought to do?
– I am not prepared to agree with the honourable senator, irrespective of whatever the merits might be of such an acquisition, for the simple reason that I am not satisfied that his assertions about the Constitution in particular are correct.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. In March 1 973 the Prime Minister announced an inquiry at Australian Government level into the problems of salinity affecting the Murray River and its environs. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the outcome of that inquiry and of the action that the Government proposes taking on this matter?
-The Prime Minister met the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, the 3 States involved, in March last year. I understand that discussions were held about the powers of the River Murray Commission. A working party was established for the purpose of determining its powers. The working party was to report to a group of Ministers representing the 4 governments. I understand that not a great deal of headway has been made although one report concerning water quality has been presented so far. It is my understanding that it is necessary first to establish the technical needs of the commission before an assessment can be made as to extending its powers. I understand that this is where there has been a slowing down and the progress which was originally anticipated has not been made. I cannot give the honourable senator any further information at the moment. If any further information is available from the Prime Minister I will refer it to the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. With the introduction of colour television and the variety of colour television sets available, particularly from overseas, what steps has the Government taken to inform people of the traps involved in buying these expensive sets? Has the Government made people aware of the excellent document, ‘Australian Buyers Guide’, published by the Consumer Standards Association on the problems involved and care needed in the purchase of colour television sets?
-The Australian Consumers Association, through the Department of Science and in conjunction with officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, earlier this year prepared a guide for prospective buyers of colour television sets. I think that is the document to which Senator Young has drawn attention. The fact that the publication became available as from about August last year was given wide circulation at that time. The fact that it has been available from the Australian Government bookshops has been fairly widely publicised by my Department, or it was at the time that it became available. Now that the honourable senator has raised the issue of the publication it might be worth while for my Department to consider again advertising it, especially as colour television sets are being purchased at present. Certainly I will discuss the worthwhile and constructive suggestion with officers of my Department.
– My question which is directed to the Postmaster-General relates to the decision of the Government to reduce charges on the shortest distance trunk calls. Can the Postmaster-General now supply information on the number of subscribers to benefit and the extent of the overall benefit?
-I have been able to get some information for the honourable senator because he asked me about this matter previously. As was pointed out in the debate in this chamber, the reductions range from 3 per cent to 20 per cent. It is estimated that approximately 49 million calls in the category to which the honourable senator refers were made in 1973-74, and rates for these trunk calls have now been reduced twice by the Government, first in the 1973 Budget and again this year. Using the 3-minute call as an example, the rates prior to October 1973 were 19c during the day and 15c at night. The comparable rates now are 12c and 6c. Taken together the reductions will benefit callers by approximately $5. 5m.
-Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister able to inform the Senate what high priced art works in the category of ‘Blue Poles’ are under consideration for purchase by the Australian National Gallery? Are such works to be bought through private negotiation?
– I have some notes on the National Gallery’s acquisition program. I am informed that $4.6m has been allocated for acquisitions during 1974-75. Compared with the total national budget, this is a small sum to give towards developing a national heritage. Referring the Senate to an answer I gave to an earlier question, I point out that the Australian public consumes 141 litres per capita of beer a year. If my arithmetic is correct, that means that we consume approximately 2,000 million litres of beer, which would probably involve the expenditure of something in the order of $ 1 billion a year. One can compare that item of our national expenditure with the $4.6m allocated for acquisitions by the National Gallery.’
If the Gallery does not seek the best, whatever its origin, its role as an educator and developer of standards of taste and appreciation will be diminished; it cannot hope to be anything better than a pale reflection of other galleries, either here or abroad, and it will be unlikely ever to attain a truly national stature and command national respect and pride as well as international regard. The Gallery and its collections are not only for present generations but also for future generations of Australians. Those people who do not appreciate this and what we have inherited from past generations have no sense of history. Prices for the finest works of art have always been thought to be high in their time. They have usually not been thought to be so in retrospect. Purchases of great works of art may be negotiated over very long periods, and missed opportunities are rarely repeated. Therefore they cannot be planned to coincide with favourable moves in the trade cycle. In the notes provided to me there is a quotation which reads: ‘When you pay high for the priceless you are getting it cheap’.
I am unable to say whether the purchases will be by way of private negotiation. I would assume that those responsible for the acquisitions would be endeavouring to get them in the best way they could. Sometimes this might be by way of auction but, judging from our experience of the past, it is often by way of private negotiation.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral have any information concerning fines imposed by the Perth Stock Exchange recently on member firms? Specifically, does he know the names of the firms, the penalties imposed, and the type of malpractice for which the penalties were imposed? Is he able to provide this information to the Senate?
– I am not able to provide the information to the Senate. I am aware that some disciplinary action has been taken by the Perth Stock Exchange against some of its own members for infraction of the rules of that Stock Exchange. I am unable to say which persons were involved or what the breaches were. There may have been some report of the amounts involved but I am afraid I am unable to inform the Senate on this now.
– My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to a statement by the Deputy Prime Minister that the Government could withdraw the 5 per cent deposit restriction on overseas investment in Australian industry. I ask the Leader of the Government whether the Prime Minister- in fact the entire Labor Ministry- have alleged for the past 2 or 3 years that the former Government had sold out Australia to foreign investors? Does the foreshadowed withdrawal of the deposit restriction make hollow these allegations and prove that overseas investment appears essential if Australia’s resources potential is to be fully realised? Does the Labor Government now demonstrate that it agrees with the Liberal Party and Country Party philosophy and will encourage overseas investment?
-No. I do not agree with the proposition put by the honourable senator. I think there is a certain amount of agreement between the Party in government and those opposite. I recall being on the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control which was chaired by Senator Withers who is now Leader of the Opposition. There was a good degree of concordance between various viewpoints. I think, subject to some general reservation, we were able to present a unanimous report. There are points of agreement, therefore, between all the parties represented here. But in general I think it would be conceded that the existing government has taken a stronger and more vigorous attitude towards the development of Australian control of our industrial resources. It is doing that in the light of world changes in order to cope with the inflow of capital into Australia and the inflationary situation. I think it is wrong to suggest that because there may be some projected change in the Government’s application of the policy at any particular time, it has therefore either changed its general attitude or it has been wrong in what it has done in the past.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport advise the Senate on the ministerial meeting held in Suva, Fiji, concerning regional aviation in the South Pacific? Has the Minister for Transport reported back to the Government on the decisions reached at the meeting? What action has the Government since taken?
-Yes. I have had discussions with the Minister for Transport on this question. The Minister was unable to attend that particular meeting as it coincided with a Cabinet Budget discussion. A very senior officer from the Department of Transport was sent to that meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss closer co-operation and amalgamation between the airlines of the region. Whilst it was agreed that the individual regional governments wanted to support their separate airlines, it was decided that a great effort should be made to co-ordinate the operations and functions of the airlines. The Australian Government supports a single regional concept. It feels that regional arrangements must be determined by the governments and the peoples of particular areas. In order to enable Air Pacific to continue operations in a profitable manner, the Australian Government has agreed to provide a loan to the Fijian Government. The Fijian Government, to utilise the loan, seeks a bigger shareholding in Air Pacific at a time when the airline badly needs greater share capital. It is thought that, as a result of the conference, there will a closer coordination of the functionings of the various airlines in this region.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture. In view of statements made by leaders in the meat industry that a critical financial situation is facing meat producers in the next few months, can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government intends to provide special bridging finance to help tide these producers over the difficult period?
-I think I indicated to the Senate last week that an application has been received from the cattlemen’s association of, I think, Queensland or the Northern Territory seeking bridging finance assistance for cattle producers in those areas. Of course the Government will consider applications for financial assistance where it is justified. At this stage my understanding is that there is not insufficient finance available through the normal banking channels, namely, the farm development loan funds and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation generally. But the Government certainly is mindful of the problem. If a request is made by the Queensland Premier, obviously that request will have to be given serious consideration. Until such time as the matter has been properly considered, the Government is not in a position to make any statement.
-Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs seen reviews published recently in the Press of the book ‘Every Second Child’ by Dr Archie Kalokerinos? Is the Minister concerned at Dr Kalokerinos ‘s claim that there has been negligence on the part of government departments in investigating the validity of the doctor’s theory concerning the effects of vitamin C deficiency on Aboriginal infants? Can the Minister advise whether the Government has investigated Dr Kalokerinos ‘s findings? If so, what has been the result of those investigations?
-The government and the Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, have investigated Dr Kalokerinos ‘s findings on this question and I have had discussions with the Minister for Health. Firstly, it must be said that the work this doctor has done amongst Aboriginal people is well appreciated. His capabilities and studies in relation to this question also must be recognised. While the value of his work is acknowledged in the Department of Health there is some doubt about the validity of his theory concerning the effects of vitamin C on the health of the Aboriginal people, a theory which he seems to believe is the whole solution to the Aboriginal health problem. Only within the last month I received a deputation representing doctors in New South Wales who are looking after the health of the Aboriginal people in that State. They say that it is impossible to overcome the health problem of Aborigines while there is a lack of housing and while there are cramped conditions. Dr Kalokerinos has had discussions with the Minister for Health. Within the Department of Health generally, it is not accepted that his theory will provide the solution. We hope that by a study of the question we can obtain a more definite solution to the problem of Aboriginal health. It is true that in many areas vitamin C tablets or special foods will supply a vitamin C diet to Aborigines. But we do not accept and the Department of Health does not accept the theory that this is the solution to all Aboriginal health problems.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, refers to the action that has been taken recently by the stock exchange committees in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth- which action was referred to by Senator Walsh a minute ago- against their members arising out of matters disclosed in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. In view of the fact that in relation to the actions that have been taken by these committees there have been no disclosures of the names of the people concerned or the levels of fines imposed on individuals, and so on, 1 ask: How far advanced is the Attorney-General’s projected Bill to set up a national securities and exchange commission? Will that Bill provide for adequate penalties and public disclosure of offences found to be proven?
-Preparation of the Bill is quite advanced. As the honourable senator might know, there was a draft Bill ready when the Senate Select Committee introduced its report. In the light of that report and of other submissions some alterations are being made to the draft Bill. A great deal of consultation is going on with the experts in this field and with those who would be affected by it in various ways. Work is also proceeding on the wider aspect of the national Companies Act. I do not think it is wise for me to say what are the provisions in the Bill except to indicate that, of course, there will be appropriate penalties for those who infringe the rules.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: Has the Australian Government officially offered to provide the finance for a new graving dock at Newcastle, New South Wales? Is the site to be that which was proposed by the New South Wales Government over a period of years? If not, where is the dock to be sited?
-The Minister for Transport and the Australian Government have reached agreement in broad principle with the New South Wales Minister for Public Works on the establishment of a commission to own and operate the Newcastle dockyard, including a new dock, on behalf of both governments. Agreements between the 2 governments are now being drawn up and the governments are considering the design of the new dockyard. Preconstruction work is proceeding and the design is well advanced, I believe. World wide registration of tenders has been called and some material for the construction of the dock ordered. The new dock is proposed to accommodate larger vessels, such as bulk carriers. After consideration of all sites and thorough investigation there was some alteration to the plan. The authorities abandoned the mine works in the area and are now proposing to put the dock somewhere in the Newcastle harbour. The problems of site are difficult. Discussion is now going on as to the location of the dock. This will be worked out between the Australian and New South Wales governments.
– The Postmaster-General will be aware that the ordinary letter postage rate increased by 43 per cent in the 8 years from 1966 to 1974. 1 ask him: Is it a fact that the Royal Commission into the Post Office projected that a 15 per cent increase per year in ordinary letter postage charges would be necessary for the next 3 years to cover increased wage and operating costs? How then can the Government justify the recent increase from 7c to 10c, a 43 per cent increase in one hit?
– The Vernon Commission in its report estimated that an increase of 15 per cent would suffice. But honourable senators will appreciate that at that time the Commission could not have foreseen the sort of escalation which has occurred. Let me remind the Senate that the Commission recommended that generally the user should pay for the services. This is the view of the Government and of people who know the situation. That is one of the principles that will be incorporated in the legislation. In the event of a new commission deciding what the tariff should be, I am unable to say to what extent the Government might decide to apply that tariff. But that is the general trend of the recommendations contained in the report of the Vernon Commission.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Did the Minister see an article which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ recently, claiming that about $25m worth of new motor vehicles had not been delivered, chiefly because of a shortage of rail wagons? Since most of the large motor vehicle firms are involved, can the Minister advise whether the Minister he represents is concerned at the apparent state of affairs and whether the Government is doing anything to overcome the shortage of rail wagons?
-The Minister for Transport is aware of the shortage of rail wagons for the shifting of vehicles. In the main the article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ was true. Of course the Government is vitally concerned. It estimates that there is a shortage of some 3,200 rail wagons in Australia. As will be remembered, the Prime Minister in his 1972 Policy Speech offered to accept the responsibility for State railways. As a result discussions are now progressing very satisfactorily with both South Australia and New South Wales, but Western Australia has broken off negotiations on the question of the Commonwealth taking over railways. Victoria and Queensland have refused even to discuss the transfer. Of course, Queensland consistently refuses to discuss anything with the Commonwealth.
The availability of wagons is limited by the poor turn around of vehicles at terminals, in particular at the Brisbane terminal. It affects all Australian systems and is therefore of national importance. The problem on the Brisbane line could be solved by the building of a new terminal at Acacia Ridge. Because the Queensland and New South Wales Governments have indicated that they will not take part in the scheme, which would be of national importance, and are not prepared to finance it, the Australian Government has offered to build a terminal at Acacia Ridge and meet the whole cost if the Queensland Government will make the land available. This would be of great assistance to the movement of cars within Australia and to rail transport generally. So far we have failed to receive co-operation from the Queensland Government on this aspect.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of Press reports in many newspapers this morning that the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, had offered the Leyland plant in Sydney to the People’s Republic of China, will the Government now make a full statement as to why it has sought this particular type of foreign investment?
– The honourable senator refers to Press reports of statements by the Minister for Overseas Trade. I ask him to put the question on notice so that the Minister may give his own answer to the question.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that the Premier of Queensland and the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs are using Australian Government funds, made available to that State for housing, to exploit Aborigines and Islanders? Is the Minister aware that homes bought with Commonwealth funds in recent years for $10,000 to $12,000 are now available for sale to Aborigines at current market values, which indicates that the Queensland Government is making a profit of up to 100 per cent? Will the Minister take all possible action to have this blatant profiteering and shameless exploitation of black people brought to an end as soon as possible?
– It is surprising to know that in Queensland Aboriginal housing is being sold to Aboriginal people. The position, as we discovered during the Estimates Committee meeting, is that Queensland still has money for Aboriginal housing from previous years which has not been expended. What Senator Keeffe is saying now justifies the attitude of this Government which in the future will direct more housing finance through Aboriginal organisations rather than through the State Government. The conditions for Aboriginal housing are that Aborigines must live in the houses and if a sale is effected, whether it is to an Aboriginal or otherwise, another house must be made available out of the grant for the purpose of housing an Aboriginal. I do not know the original cost of any house or the price at which it may be sold today. I shall have an investigation made of the statement made by Senator Keeffe. If there is thought to be any exploitation of Aborigines in purchases of property, I shall try to take it up with the Queensland Minister, although there are some difficulties in taking anything up with the Queensland Minister. However, in future our funding to Queensland will stipulate that such exploitation must not continue.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with the President of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Hawke, and the Federal Secretary of the Federated Clerks Union, Mr J. R. Grenville, when they state that the Government in its efforts to find a scapegoat for the nation’s problems is guilty of union bashing?
-Of course I would not agree with any criticism of the Government expressed by anybody.
– Does the Minister representing the Prime Minister recall that last year the Queensland Government submitted a proposal to the Commonwealth Government suggesting that, as the flood problems in Brisbane were so great and as the Brisbane City Council could not possibly meet the cost of overcoming these problems, an agreement be reached between the 3 levels of government to finance the works required? Will the Minister confirm that the Queensland Government’s recommendation was that the Commonwealth Government should contribute 40 per cent of the cost, the Queensland Government 40 per cent, and the Brisbane City Council 20 per cent? Will he agree that this flood mitigation work is of the utmost importance because of the flooding which can be expected to take place in Brisbane during January and February next year? Will the Minister undertake that the Commonwealth Government will consider as quickly as possible the making of a direct grant of money to the Brisbane City Council to help alleviate these problems?
– I shall refer the question to the Prime Minister for his answer.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface it by saying that it does not require him to agree with any criticisms of the Government. Does the Minister agree with the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, that the trade union movement ‘worked its guts out’- that is Mr Hawke ‘s expression- to put a Labor Government committed to full employment into power? Does he admit that the trade union movement now feels, and indeed has been, let down by the Government?
-I think it is fair to say that the trade union movement in general around Australia worked very hard to have a Labor Government elected in 1972 and again worked very hard to have that Government stay in power in the election in May this year. I think the trade union movement did so because it was to the advantage of its members to do so. I am sure that at the next election- whenever it comes- the trade union movement in general again will work very hard to have the Labor Government re-elected, as it will be, because again that will be to the advantage of the members of the trade unions.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General, partly in his capacity as Postmaster-General and partly in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to the report that the Woomera rocket range could face the Government axe after 1976. Can the Minister say whether the Government is contemplating other uses for the area to retain the scientific and technical staff employed by the Weapons Research Eastablishment at Woomera and Salisbury? Has the Government given consideration to the possible use of Woomera for research and development associated with the provision of a Postmaster-General’s Department telecommunications satellite for Australia? As complete continental television coverage is possible only by this means, will the Minister explore the possibility of a joint venture with other countries in this region with object of making such a proposal economically viable and also of providing a facility that would be of mutual benefit to the countries concerned? I am thinking in particular of Indonesia which has indicated a requirement for such a satellite.
– The honourable senator will recall that in the previous reply of the Minister for Defence about Woomera, which I restated in the Senate, we pointed out that the future of Woomera still depends on the requirements of our partner in this venture, the United Kingdom. While it has been decided to apply the present policy we must still find out the future requirements of the United Kingdom. Until those requirements are determined it is not possible to say whether the Government ought to explore, or I should explore separately, some other venture in equipment which might replace the defence activity in the Woomera area. But I will try to find out from the Minister for Defence whether any negotiations between Australia and the United Kingdom will result in increased activity to the extent that the Government may have to change its policy. I think that is the first thing to consider.
The Minister for Defence has said that he will ensure that research and development areas of the defence forces are viable. The honourable senator has asked whether, in the event that the arrangements with the United Kingdom do not obtain in the future, some consideration might be given to other ventures. Some have been mentioned in the Press, in addition to the one mentioned by the honourable senator. I will try to find out from the Minister for Defence whether there is any reason to believe that something may come from the negotiations. In the event that this seems unlikely, I will see to what extent Senator Jessop ‘s propositions might be investigated.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science, follows Senator Gietzelt ‘s question earlier regarding bread. My concern is not only about the price but also about the quality of that product. In view of the monopolisation not only in the bread manufacturing industry but also in the flour milling industry, will the Minister consider instructing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to conduct tests on the quality of bread and bread products sold throughout Australia, such tests to include the quality of the flour being used? Will he make that report public so that consumers can readily assess whether there is any relativity between price and quality?
– I will refer that suggestion to the Minister for Science so he can consider whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation should conduct such tests. 1 remind the Senate that section 62 of the Trade Practices Act makes provision for certain consumer safety standards. Insofar as the quality of bread comes within the scope of that Act, it is possible for regulations to be made which would have national application and which would require conformity by manufacturers otherwise they would be in contravention of the Act. It may be that if standards can be developed which would come within those provisions they could be used. I express no opinion at all on what the result of an investigation would be, but it may be that in this and a number of other fields there is a necessity for national standards to be laid down.
– My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate refers to the acquisition of the Waterloo, Sydney, plant of the Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia. Will the Leader of the Government inform the Senate when the Government will announce whether it has adopted Mr Hawke ‘s policy to operate the plant itself, Dr Cairns ‘s policy to sell or give the plant to the Chinese or Mr Enderby ‘s policy to close the plant?
– I shall refer the question to the appropriate Minister so that an announcement on the question raised may be made as soon as convenient.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, ls it a fact, as reported today, that the Government is proposing to withdraw as allowable deductions for income tax all donations to charities, with the exception of the Red Cross? If so, does the Government plan to provide further finance for the scores of institutions, voluntary services and establishments which contribute to our quality of life and which depend upon donations? If not, will an early announcement be made to allay the fears of tens of thousands of voluntary workers who maintain Australian charities?
-I have no knowledge of the matter referred to. I shall have to pass on the question to the Treasurer for an answer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Agriculture. In view of the serious problems facing primary producers of the Huon Valley area of southern Tasmania resulting from the feared collapse of the apple industry and the serious downturn in the meat producing sector, will the Minister take appropriate action, as recommended by the producers in the area, to encourage the Australian Industries Assistance Commission to investigate and report upon any aspect of primary industry to which this hitherto richly productive area can turn in order to ensure the economic security of the community?
-The question raised by the honourable senator is, of course, a very important one for the people living in that area. As he is probably aware, the Australian Industries Assistance Commission is currently inquiring into the apple and pear industry in the Huon Valley. It has been taking evidence from the public and from the industry for some three or four weeks. The industry is currently supported by the Australian Government under the stabilisation scheme and also in the current year under the guarantee arrangements with the Tasmanian Government.
There has been a very significant movement out of the industry for some years. In fact, most of that has been into the beef raising industry. It is true that because of the problems facing the beef industry at the present time the alternative does not look as attractive as it did one, or even two or three years ago. But I am quite sure that the Australian Industries Assistance Commission, as part of its inquiry, will be considering the alternative uses of land in that area. The main problem, as I am sure the honourable senator would be aware, is the size of the holdings in the Huon Valley. They are very small, averaging only about 30 or 35 acres. One of the aims of the rural reconstruction scheme has been to enable these small holdings to be built up to larger holdings in order to assist farmers to become economically viable on individual properties. We will need to await the outcome of the Commission’s report, but I would think that there would be a very strong emphasis in the report on alternative uses of land which is currently being used for fruit growing.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a most salutary and arresting article by John Hallows in today’s issue of the ‘Australian’ concerning the serious downturn in the profitability of Australian trading enterprises in real terms because of the effects of inflation? Has the Government considered giving credence in taxation procedures to inflation accounting which would reflect the action of rising prices on a company’s true balance sheet position? Is it not a fact that under present conditions of inflation profits are being overstated especially by inadequate depreciation provisions and by treating stock appreciation as profit and that many Australian manufacturers are rapidly heading for a situation where they will be unable to carry on for sheer want of cash, leading to inevitable growth of unemployment?
-There is no doubt that inflation produces special problems in accounting and these may make the procedures hitherto adopted by the taxation authorities in the application of the Act quite inconsistent with our notions of fairness. One can see how this could rapidly happen. I think it has been referred to with the capital gains tax. There may be no real gain at all in constant values and it would seem quite an absurdity that after a period when there had been an apparent gain it was really only the measure of the inflation that had taken place and one would be at a disability in the case of a sale. All over the world these problems are being struck and attention will need to be paid to them. It would be helpful if those people who represent the professional bodies in Australia, particularly in the accounting and auditing fields, were to come up with some suggestions. Perhaps they have done so in other countries.
Quite clearly problems are created and commonsense will dictate the need for new approaches to the problems that the whole world is facing. The honourable senator also asked me about the shortage of capital caused to various companies. One thing that seems very clear and agreed upon by almost every economist- certainly outside of government circles and by a great number inside- is that what we are facing in Australia and elsewhere is a grave shortage of capital. That seems to be agreed and I would not dissent from what the honourable senator is putting. Many of those who are in difficulties are in that state because of shortages of capital. The main brunt of what the honourable senator is putting is that some attention ought to be paid by the Government to the special problems being created by inflation and the simple changes of values which give the appearance of profit when in fact there is no real profit. I will bring that to the attention of the Treasurer.
-My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns the proposed investment by the Petroleum and Minerals Authority in the Wambo mine. The Estimates Committee investigating the estimates of the Department of Minerals and Energy on Tuesday sought information regarding the likely expenditure of the Authority and was informed that only very minor commitments were proposed. I ask the Minister whether he will bring to the Senate a statement indicating the manner in which this Authority has evaluated the true worth of the $3.5m investment in Wambo mine?
-Regrettably I am not informed on the particular matter to which the honourable senator refers. It falls within the sphere of the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, and I shall refer the question to him. I cannot commit myself to doing what the honourable senator suggests because I do not know the implications of the matter. However, I shall refer the question and the request of the honourable senator to Mr Connor.
-On 15 August Senator Martin directed a question to me as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security concerning the criteria of eligibility for the payment of special benefit to supporting fathers. The Minister for Social Security has told me that special benefit may be paid to a person who, because of age, physical or mental disability or domestic circumstances, is unable to earn a sufficient livelihood for himself or herself and his or her dependants. The maximum rate of benefit cannot exceed the maximum rate of unemployment or sickness benefit. Any supporting father suffering hardship as a result of having to remain at home from work to look after his children may qualify for special benefit. It is not essential that the children be sick. It could well be the case that healthy young children who have been deprived of their mother’s care because of her having to go to hospital, because of her desertion of the husband or whatever other reason it might be, need constant care and attention in the same way as do sick children. In most cases the mother ultimately does return home or some assistance is obtained from a social worker, which means that the father has found a satisfactory solution to the problem and the special benefit is required to be paid for only a short period.
At the moment grants of special benefit for supporting fathers are approved by the DirectorGeneral of Social Security or his delegate. The question of the circumstances under which special benefit may be paid has been under examination for some time now by the Department of Social Security, as probably Senator Martin would gather. The examination is nearing completion, and when it has been completed it is expected that it will be possible for the wide range of claims already determined in the various States to be extended further.
– I present the first report of the Royal Commission on Petroleum entitled ‘Shortages of Petroleum Products’. Due to the limited number of copies available at this time I have arranged for reference copies to be placed in the Parliamentary Library.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967-70 1 present for the information of honourable Senators the report of the Council of the Canberra College of
Advanced Education for the year 1 January 1 973 to 31 December 1973.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I lay upon the table of the Senate a statement by the honourable L. H. Barnard, Minister for Defence, on Australian Defence Estimates for 1974-75 dated 24 October 1974 together with a memorandum of arrangements between the United States Government and the Australian Government relating to the proposed purchase of two patrol frigates and associated supplies and services.
– Pursuant to section 23 of the Cities Commission Act 1972-73 I present for the information of honourable senators the second annual report of the Cities Commission for the year 1 July 1973 to 30 June 1974.
– On behalf of the Minister for Transport (Mr Jones), for the information of honourable senators I present the second annual report of the Australian Shippers Council for the year ended 30 June 1 974.
– I present the transcript of the in camera evidence from the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on its inquiry into the law and administration of divorce and matters related to the Family Law Bill 1974. 1 move:
That the transcript be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I seek leave to make a brief statement relating to the transcript.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Although the evidence was taken in camera the witnesses who gave the evidence were aware of the Committee’s intention to publish the transcript. There is something of a printing problem concerning this transcript which will be available in quantity on Friday next week and can then be obtained on request from the Secretary of the Committee or the Senate records office. I understand that any honourable senator requiring a copy before then may be accommodated if he applies to the Secretary of the Committee who will do his best to provide any honourable senator with a copy of the transcript. The transcript of the public evidence given to the Committee on the general reference- that is on matrimonial matters generally which were before the Committee as long ago as 1971- was tabled on 24 September 1974 and is available from the Secretary of the Committee or the Senate Records Office. It is understood that the final report will be made available in Australian Government Publishing Service shops in the eastern States by Tuesday of next week and in other States shortly afterwards. The interim report will be available in the same places shortly afterwards. In the meantime, ample copies are available from the Secretary of the Committee or the records office. The submissions mentioned in the appendices of the report are available from the Secretary.
– I would like to ask a question in relation to the transcript to which Senator James McClelland referred. It is the first time it has come to my knowledge that evidence taken in camera will be printed. I thought the greatest secrecy surrounded such evidence. Senator James McClelland has said that the witnesses were aware that the evidence would be published. I was wondering whether, before we embark on this new procedure, we should have some consultation with the witnesses concerned to see if they have any objection to publication of their in camera evidence. I am mainly concerned with the reaction that the publishing of in camera evidence may cause from future witnesses who wish to tell a parliamentary committee something in confidence. They may not be so willing to give in camera evidence if they think there is a possibility that the evidence will be published later.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement on what Senator Cavanagh and Senator James McClelland have said.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I support what Senator Cavanagh has said. I appreciate that Senator James McClelland has stated that the witnesses were aware that this evidence would be made public. In that case I question why the Committee should hear the evidence in camera. I express the view that when witnesses appear before a committee on the understanding that they are giving evidence in camera the transcript of that evidence should be purely a committee document and not a public document. On the other hand, if witnesses are informed that their evidence can be made public, I question why a committee should then bother to take that evidence in camera?
Senator JAMES McCLELLAND (New South Wales)- Mr President, I seek leave to make a further statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thought I made it clear in my opening remarks that although the evidence was taken in camera it was made clear to the witnesses, and we had their concurrence, that the evidence would be published. It has been made clear already by one or two honourable senators who spoke when our report was tabled a week ago that there is great anxiety that none of the information that was available to the Committee should be concealed from any honourable senator who wishes to take part in the debate or, indeed, from any members of the public or organisations which are concerned in this matter. This is most important. The Committee has gone to great pains to make sure that before we go into the Committee stage of the debate all honourable senators will have at their disposal everything that the Committee had at its disposal. The reason why the evidence was heard in camera was that the nature of the proceedings was highly informal; we wished the witnesses to be free to discuss the matter with us in a farranging way and in a manner about which they may have felt a little inhibited if members of the Press had been present. But it was made quite clear from the outset that this was not going to be a secret document and that it would be published to the world. There is no breach of faith on the part of anybody.
- Mr President, I seek leave to comment on the statement made by Senator James McClelland.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I heard on the communications system a question being raised as to the implications of releasing evidence which was taken in camera before this Committee. As the senator who initially asked a question in relation to this matter, I think that in fairness to Senator James McClelland I should make the point that the inference that could be drawn from the releasing of evidence given in camera, as raised by Senator Young- I think it was fair enough that he should raise the matterdoes not arise in these circumstances. I understand that the decision to take the evidence in camera was made because the witnesses were giving special evidence. Three of the witnesses, including the Attorney-General himself, were from the Attorney-General’s Department and were giving technical evidence. As I understand it, it was quite clear that there was no suggestion that the evidence was being given in camera in order to withhold publication of the evidence. So I am quite certain that the point raised by Senator Young and Senator Cavanagh- I think it was proper that they should raise it- has no application in these circumstances.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement on this matter, as chairman of a committee.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I have some concern about this decision. I feel that if evidence is taken in camera there is a reason for doing it. Now this evidence which was taken in camera will be published. I offer this word of caution: I would hate to see a decision made on this matter here and now. I would like to see it referred to the appropriate Senate committee to see whether this procedure is in order and to obtain its imprimatur before we finalise the matter. I say this because such a decision could be taken as a precedent for other committees.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of general business until 8 p.m. this day and that, unless otherwise ordered, the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate take effect at 10.30 p.m. this day.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered at 8 p.m. this day. after the consideration of general business, notice of motion No.l standing in Senator Rae’s name for the re-appointment of the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, intervening general business be postponed until after the consideration of order of the day no. 14 standing in Senator Poyser’s name for the resumption of the debate on the Parliament Bill 1974 (No. 2).
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate informing me that Senator Gietzelt has indicated that he wishes to be discharged from further attendance upon Estimates Committee A, and nominating Senator Mulvihill to be appointed to the Committee in his place.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That Senator Gietzelt be discharged from further attendance upon Estimates Committee A, and that Senator Mulvihill be appointed to the Committee in his place.
Consideration resumed from 23 October.
Clauses 21 to 32- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 33 (Estimates).
– The Opposition foreshadowed an amendment to clause 33 by omitting sub-clauses (2) , (3) and (4). As a result of the discussions in Committee which took place yesterday it will not proceed with the amendment. The Opposition will not be opposing clause 33.
– Do I understand from what Senator Guilfoyle now says that opposition to clause 33 in toto no longer exists and that the Opposition agrees to the inclusion of clause 33.(1), (2), (3) and (4)?
– Yes. The Opposition had indicated a desire to omit sub-clauses (2), (3) and (4). It will not proceed with the proposed amendment and will be supporting clause 33 as printed.
Clause agreed to
Clauses 34 to 39- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
– The Opposition is opposed to clause 40. The provision that the Commission be not subject to taxation under any law of Australia or of a State or Territory is not acceptable to the Opposition. We consider that it is unnecessary for the Commission to be placed in this situation and accordingly we will be voting against clause 40.
– Let me explain shortly why this clause has been included in the Bill. I emphasise to the Committee that the Australian Film Commission is not being set up to compete with the private sector of the industry. For example, it is not being set up in the same way as Trans-Australia Airlines or the Australian National Line were set up. They are commercial operations. In such instances I suggest that liability to taxation is appropriate as indeed I understand the legislation governing those commercial entities is appropriate. This Commission is being set up principally to dispense assistance to the film industry and also to make national and departmental films under the auspices of Film Australia, which was intended to be transferred to the Commission. To require the Commission to pay indirect tax would only increase the amount of money that would be required to be appropriated by the Parliament to the Commission in order to achieve a given level of assistance to the industry. Therefore it would serve no useful purpose.
Frankly, it is not intended, or it is certainly not believed, that the Commission, having the responsibility of dispensing assistance to the industry, will be in a position to make a profit. At the very best, all it could do would be to break even. Most probably it will require an annual injection of taxpayers’ funds. I suggest that any question of its being liable to income tax is irrelevant. But let us assume that after the Commission got under way it eventually made some return by way of revenue from its investments or from the sale of its products. I suggest that that would take some considerable time. One will see that subclause (2) of the clause states that the regulations may provide that sub-section ( 1 ) does not apply in relation to taxation under a specified law. That situation can well be covered by way of regulation. There are many examples of authorities, enterprises and government instrumentalities of the type proposed for the Australian Film Commission which are exempt from taxation. One of them which has already been referred to at length in this debate is the Australian Film Development Corporation. Others include the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Australian Tourist Commission. I suggest that the responsibilities of the Australian Film Commission to the film industry are akin to the responsibilities of the Australian Tourist Commission to the tourist industry. There is a long list of such instrumentalities which include the Cities Commission, the Film and Television School, the
National Library of Australia and the AngloAustralian Telescope Board, just to mention some of them. I suggest that there is no need to delete this clause. Because of the very nature of the responsibilities that the Commission will have, clause 40 should stand as printed.
– I thank the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) for the explanation that he has given of the reasons for the inclusion of the clause. However, they do not overcome the attitude which the Opposition has to proposed clause 40. The Minister has mentioned bodies which have a similar clause in their legislation, but this does not override the reasons that the Opposition has for believing that it is unnecessary for the Australian Film Commission not to be subject to taxation under any law of Australia or of a State or Territory. For that reason I indicate that the Opposition will be opposing clause 40.
That the clause stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator J. J. Webster)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 41 agreed to.
A person who is, or has been, a member of the Commission or a member of the staff of the Commission shall not, directly or indirectly, except in the performance of his duties, or in the exercise of his powers or functions, under this Act, make a record of, or divulge or communicate to any person, any information with respect to the affairs of another person acquired by the first-mentioned person in the performance of his duties, or in the exercise of his powers or functions, under this Act.
– I have an amendment to increase the penalty under this clause from $200 to $1,000. It seems to me that the importance of this amendment might well depend on what happens to clause 1 1 , which deals with the ability of the Commission to ascertain facts from distributors and exhibitors of films. Nevertheless, I am quite sure that the Commission will come into possession of very important information which could affect the private film industry and other aspects relating to people who have connections and dealings with the Commission or who are deeply involved in the industry outside. It seems to me that the penalty of $200 for the communication of information gained in this way is altogether too small an inhibition against the possibility of someone so doing. Of course, the sum of $1,000 could be far too small, depending on the value of the information being dealt with. But one has to draw a median line. I suggest that $1,000 is a sensible, yet not over-repressive figure. I move:
Leave out ‘$200 ‘, substitute ‘$ 1 , 000 ‘.
– The Opposition expresses no view that the penalty must be $1,000, any more than we are wedded to the concept that it ought to be only $200. However, we suggest that there ought to be some consistency in the penalty provisions. Is it a more heinous offence to disclose information which one should keep confidential than it is to give false information? These are issues that ought to be considered.
– I have just discussed the amendment moved by Senator Hall with my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy), within whose responsibility this matter more or less rests. He agrees with the proposition put forward by Senator Hall that the penalty of $200 as now set out in the Bill for an offence of this nature should be increased to $1,000. That being so, the Government offers no objection to Senator Hall’s amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move:
This amendment to clause 43 at this stage is consequent upon the deletion of clause 8 of the Bill. Honourable senators will note that subclause (2) says:
The Commission shall set out, in its annual report, any directions given to the Commission by the Minister under section 8 during the period to which the report relates.
It will be recalled that clause 8 has been deleted from the Bill. Our amendment is consequent upon that action.
– It is a fact that clause 43 (2) is related to clause 8 of the Bill. Clause 8 was defeated last night by vote of the Committee. Therefore, clause 43 (2) being consequential upon clause 8, I do not intend to divide the Committee on this issue.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 44 and 45 agreed to.
Postponed clause 10.
Amendment agreed to.
-The question now is:
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
– Yesterday the Committee deferred consideration of clause 10 following an indication of a possible attitude by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) in response to what Senator Guilfoyle had said. Senator Guilfoyle indicated that the attitude which the Minister had indicated was possible was something to which the Opposition desired to give consideration. The Minister acceded to further consideration of the clause being deferred. That consideration has been given by the Opposition. I indicate that the consideration which has been given involves clause 3 being considered before clause 10. Therefore, I suggest that it would be appropriate to consider whether the definition ‘Australian short film’ should be changed before we examine clause 10. If that is not done the Opposition will be compelled to adhere to the course it was following last night of voting against Clause 10, then considering clause 3 and, if what we suggest is acceptable to the Committee, re-instituting clause 10 in some different form. It seems that that is an unnecessarily cumbersome way of proceeding. Therefore, I suggest that the appropriate course is to deal with clause 3 now so Senator Guilfoyle can move her amendment to clause 3.I move:
– I understood that what you, Mr Chairman, were proposing to do was to have Senator Steele Hall’s amendment adopted with regard to clause 10 and then to proceed to consider clause 3- the definitions clause- prior to putting clause 10 as amended to the vote. I deferred speaking before you took that course of action because it seemed to me that you wished to have clause 10 as amended by Senator Steele Hall dealt with to that stage before putting the amended clause to the vote. If that were not what you were proposing to do, Senator Greenwood’s intervention was timely because it was decided last night that the vote on clause 10 would be deferred until such time as we had looked at clause 3 and the definition of an Australian short film. Senator Greenwood has now moved that we defer any further consideration of clause 10 until the consideration of clause 3.I support the motion that has been moved by Senator Greenwood because that was the arrangement for the finalisation of discussion of this Bill.
– As I understand the situation, the debate on deferred clause 10 to which Senator Hall had moved an amendment was called on. His amendment is to add at the end of the clause some sub-clauses relating to the bringing in of parliamentary regulations which would strengthen the regulatory power of this Parliament in relation to the establishing of quotas by the Commission. Because that is consistent with the attitude that this Government has taken all along that the Commission must be responsible to a Minister who in turn is answerable to the Parliament, the Government would offer no objection to the 2 propositions that are the subject of Senator Hall’s amendment, which has been adopted and endorsed by this Committee. I wish to make that plain before we go on to a consideration of clause 3 relating to definitions.
-The question is:
That further consideration of clause 10 be postponed until the definition ‘Australian short film’ in clause 3 has been considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Further consideration of clause postponed.
Postponed clause 3.
– I refer to the definition of ‘Australian short film ‘ which reads:
Australian short film means-
a short film made or commissioned by the Commission that is of a kind referred to in paragraph 5 ( 1 ) (b) (i), (ii) or (iii); or
b ) any other short film-
that is an Australian film; and
not less that 80 per centum of the footage of which has been photographed specifically for that film. but does not include a film referred to in paragraph (b) that-
is primarily produced for the purpose of promoting a product or service;
that promotes a product or service of a person who definition film’ film Commission (ii), Australian film; (b) (c) the cost of producing the film; or
is a news-reel or news-magazine or a trailer or other advertising film;
We are taking this course of action because of the carriage of clause 5 of the Bill as printed. It will be remembered that clause 5 of the Bill describes the functions of the Australian Film Commission. Our objection to that provision was that it was subject to the approval of the Minister. But that clause was carried as printed. In order to give commercial short film makers in Australia some access to Australian theatres we believe that it is necessary now to have a definition of a short film as it shall be dealt with under clause 10 of the Bill. The definition of ‘Australian short film’ in clause 3 is that it is a short film made or commissioned by the Commission that is of a kind referred to in paragraph 5 ( 1) (b) (i), (ii), or (iii), or any other short film, with some other requirements which are described.
By our amendment we are seeking to remove from the definition of an Australian short film those films which are made or commissioned by the Commission for the purposes of a department of State or an authority of Australia, films that deal with matters of national interest to Australia, and films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. Our purpose in seeking to have those films deleted from the Australian short films which are subject to clause 10 of the Bill is to allow commercially produced Australian short films to have access to the cinemas which is provided for under clause 10. We believe that because of the overriding authority which has been given to the Minister in clause 5 of the Bill there could be unfair competition from films which have been ordered and produced for a government department. They could unfairly compete with films which are commercially produced by other people. We believe that if we remove this provision relating to Australian short films which have this access to theatres through clause 10 of the Bill we will be giving assistance to the Australian commercial film industry, which was the basic premise on which the Australian Film Commission was to be formed. For these reasons we seek to amend clause 3 by the amendment which I have moved on behalf of the Opposition. We do this in the belief that because of the authority which the Minister is given in the operations of the Commission, we are offering some assistance to those people who will be producing short films in Australia and who need access to the Australian theatres for their operations.
-It might be recalled that last night when debate was proceeding on clause 10, after some considerable time I suggested that the Opposition might look at the question of amending the definition of Australian film in clause 3 to see whether some unanimity of approach could be reached in a genuine endeavour on the part of the Government to assist in the commercial development and the viable development of the Australian film industry. But unfortunately, by a mere transposition of clauses, the Opposition in its old attitude to clause 10 and its new attitude to clause 3 is merely emphasising that it does not want short films produced by Film Australia, or films that serve the purposes of a department of State or an authority of Australia, or films which deal with matters of national interest to Australia, or films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people, that are encouraged to be made or made by the Commission, included in the definition ofAustralian short film ‘.
– Where they are approved by the Minister or directed by the Minister; that is the core of the whole thing.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSenator Greenwood says: ‘Where they are approved by the Minister’. I emphasise again that the Commonwealth Film Unit, as it was known- it is now known as Film Australia- has been in existence since 1942.I cannot remember one instance where that film production unit under any government of any colour has ever been accused in this chamber or publicly of making a political film. The unit has in it men of outstanding ability. It has won prizes for film production right across the globe. It is engaging now in co-production film making activities with other countries. Its services are sought by a large number of nations. As a matter of fact, I think that very shortly the unit is to go to India to make a film on India. What the Opposition is saying is that when that film about India is made by the film production unit of the Australian Government it cannot be exhibited or it cannot qualify for certification for exhibition as a short film in an Australian cinema.
Frankly, I am just amazed at this attitude. On the one hand the Australian Government spends about $4m a year towards achieving excellence in documentary productions in order to promote, by way of film, the image of Australia within Australia and abroad. It is not to promote a political philosophy. It never has been used as such and I suggest that it never will be used as such while the Minister who is ministerially responsible for the administration of the organisation is responsible to a parliament. I can tell the Opposition that very often the distributors and exhibitors are keen to get their hands on films made by Film Australia. The Opposition would be doing the distributors and exhibitors a great disservice, but more importantly, it would be doing the people who attend cinemas for entertainment purposes a very great disservice in that it would be depriving them, under this provision of the benefit of seeing films which are made by this enterprise and which have probably won an international award. I can tell the Opposition also that since this Government has come into office I have encouraged a number of the television stations to have a look at some of the films that have been made by this unit. In the last financial year we sold $280,000 worth of films to various exhibitors and the television units. One particular organisation- I will not mention its name but honourable senators might guess it- operated on a co-production arrangement to make an historical document concerning the removal of the Sunderland flying boats from the Lord Howe Island to Sydney service. If the proposals of the Opposition were accepted they would deprive the Australian people of seeing such films in Australian cinemas.
The Government is prepared to go some of the way in order to appease, for want of a better term, the paranoic fears that seem to be exhibited on the other side. I would be prepared to amend the existing definition of an Australian short film. I have provided Senator Greenwood and Senator Guilfoyle with copies of my proposal which provides for the following definition of an Australian short film:
Australian short film’ means-
a short film made or commissioned by the Commission that is of a kind referred to in paragraph 5(1) (b) (i), (ii), (iii).
Those films are described as follows:
The proposed new definition continues: and is certified by the Commission-
Not by the Minister but by the Commission- to be a film that is appropriate to be classified as an Australian short film.
I think I have been generous. If the Opposition’s amendment is carried it will destroy completely the worthiness of the establishment of the Australian Film Commission. It will impede the development of Australian film productions for at least another decade. In order to stop that happening I am prepared to bend over backwards in the concession I am proposing. The proposed new definition continues:
that is an Australian film; and
I suggest that that should overcome the objections presented by the Opposition. If the Commission feels that a film that has been ordered by a government department and has been produced for or on behalf of a government department might have overtones of political propaganda, one way or the other, I suggest that it will be the responsibility of the Commission not to certify it as a short film. To deprive the Australian public of the benefit of seeing very valuable educational documentary productions made by Film Australia and to frustrate the activities of that very worthwhile film organisation would negative the worthiness of this legislation.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster)Before the Minister resumes his seat I make clear to the Committee that so far as the Chair is concerned the amendment which is before the Chair is by Senator Guilfoyle to omit the definition of an authorised person.
-No, it is to amend the definition of an Australian short film.
– Various amendments have been given to the Chair. Perhaps Senator Guilfoyle could restate her amendment.
– I restated the amendment when I spoke on this clause a few moments ago. I will restate the amendment now for your purposes. It reads:
Omit definition of’Australian short film ‘ and insert:
Australian short film’ means-
a short film-
that is an Australian film; and
not less than 80 per centum of the footage of which has been photographed specifically for that film but does not include a film referred to in paragraph (a) that
is a short film made or commissioned by the Commission that is of a kind referred to in paragraph 5 (1 ) (b) (i),(ii)or(iii);
is primarily produced for the purpose of promoting a product or service:
that promotes a product or service of a person who has borne the whole or a part of the cost of producing the film; or
is a newsreel or news-magazine or a trailer or other advertising film;
That is the proposed amendment to the definition of an Australian short film which is moved by the Opposition. I take this opportunity to refer to the remarks of the Minister.
- Senator Guilfoyle, would you mind if I interrupted you? The basic amendment before the Chair is that which was moved last evening and perhaps it is my fault that I have not put it to you. I ask now whether leave is granted so that the amendment presently moved by Senator Guilfoyle can be taken at this stage and that the amendment which is before the Chair be postponed. There being no objection, that course will be followed. The new amendment which has just been read by Senator Guilfoyle will be dealt with and we will come back to the postponed amendment which was before the Chair when this matter was first discussed.
– I understand that we are now discussing the Opposition’s proposed amendment to the Australian short film definition.
– That is correct.
– Following the remarks of the Minister I want to say that his statement about depriving the Australian people of seeing documentary films under commission for a department of State is inaccurate. We are not depriving the theatres of showing those films. We are saying that those films shall not be taken into account under clause 10 when we are determining the specified proportion of the number of short films which shall be required to be shown. That is not a matter of saying to the theatres that no longer are they able to exhibit the films which have been produced under the commission of a department of State of Australia. It is rather that they will not be taken into account when giving access as short films to the theatres of this country.
We have said again and again that because the Minister has the approval power with regard to making, promoting, distributing and exhibiting any kind of film the Commission no longer has the discretion to exercise that we believe it should have. If the Commission were able to decide which films it would produce and accept the commissions of government in the way that any other body would make its decisions we would not have the objection we have at present. Within the Minister’s proposed amendment the provision that the Commission needs to certify a film that is appropriate to be classified as an Australian short film adds nothing to the Bill as it already exists because within clause 10 as printed is the requirement that films be certified by the Commission to be short films. What the Minister has introduced in his amendment does not strengthen the power of the Commission to certify. That power of the Commission already exists within the Bill. What we are saying is that we believe there could be unfair competition from films which are under the approval of the Minister in contrast with those which have been produced commercially by private commission.
We insist that we are unable to deal with clause 10 as it exists because of the authority which is written into the Minister’s approval with regard to the functions of the Commission itself. For this reason we do not see that the amendment which has now been produced by the Government overrides our problems with regard to the assistance which we believe should be given to the commercial film operator in this country. The fact that the Minister has added the words ‘has been supplied to the exhibitor free of charge’ as a requirement under this clause is not something that we believe overcomes the problem. Free of charge is absolute. There could be a very limited charge for the sale of the documentary style of film which would be more freely accepted by theatres as part of the quota which they should exhibit. It would be desirable for them to accept something at a charge which could be negotiated to the advantage of the documentary type of film as against the competitive type of film which is attempting to make a profit in its own way. For these reasons the amendment which has been introduced by the Government does not overcome the problem of the Opposition. I commend the Opposition’s definition and the amendment which we have moved to omit the definition as it is written and to insert the one which I read earlier.
-Mr Chairman, I put a positive proposition to you that the amendment is out of order. I do so on the score that it is a direct negative. I refer you to the definition of ‘Australian short film’ which appears on page 2 of the legislation. It reads:
Australian short film’ means-
a short film made or commissioned by the Commission . . .
The definition goes on to say other things. But the controlling words of the definition are ‘a short film made or commissioned by the Commission’. You will see, Mr Chairman, that the Opposition’s amendment gives the definition of an Australian short film as a short film. It does not include the words ‘film made or commissioned by the Commission’. So the Bill says that a short film is something which is made or commissioned by the Commission and the amendment says completely the reverse. The amendment says that an Australian short film means a short film, and then it goes on to enumerate in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). It does not include the words ‘made or commissioned by the Commission’. I am sorry to have to do this to you at short notice, Mr Chairman. I did not give you any advance warning as to what I believe to be the situation and I do not want to place you in any embarrassing position. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that the amendment is a direct negative. If you study the amendment closely I believe you will arrive at the same conclusion.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster)Senator Milliner, I do not uphold your suggestion. It appears to me that in the full context of the amendment it is not a direct negative of what appears in the legislation. As you have stated your proposition, there certainly does appear to be an omission of those words ‘a short film made or commissioned by the Commission’. But it is not for me to decide whether that happens to be a direct negative of the legislation. I uphold the amendment as it reads.
– Since the fairly long argument which took place last night there has been a reasonable amount of agreement in the various viewpoints expressed on this particular clause so that there can be an effective and yet fair quota system set in motion for the exhibition of Australian short films. Despite some disparagement of my amendment last night, I feel sure that the regulation-making power is a very big safeguard for the members of this House in relation to what the Minister does, because the last part of the regulation-making power, which is now accepted so far as clause 10 has gone, says in fact that power shall not be exercised otherwise than in accordance with any regulation made. That is a very big safeguard.
Looking at the other side of the Opposition’s amendment which proposes to exclude subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of clause 5 ( 1) (b), I think we can all understand what the Opposition is trying to do. However, I think it is being unreasonable in proposing to exclude subparagraph (iii) because that sub-paragraph is a very wide definition in the sense that it refers to films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. I can only say that some of these films are made quite uneconomically at times. We may only get such a body as a film commission to make them. I think various productions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission do a very great amount to expand Australian productions which could not be shown on an economic basis. I would like to think that a fairly good spirit of co-operation all round could be extended to save clause 10 by the Opposition not proceeding with the exclusion of subparagraph (iii). I think, that is a very reasonable proposition.
I remind the Opposition again of the importance of the Minister’s regulation-making power. I ask the Opposition not to under-estimate the safeguard which has now been included in clause 10. If the Parliament does not like what the Minister must set out in regulation, Parliament can say he cannot have it. That is paramount to what we are talking about. We are not now talking about the Minister being able to direct or approve, regardless of what the Parliament wants. What we are saying is that the Minister may approve these various factors and the quotas and the proportions. He will have to set out either the individual films to be made or certainly the type of films proposed, and Parliament will have the opportunity to disallow.
I know that the Minister has fought strongly for sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). At this late stage after hours of debate it. is time to be factual. My assessment is that the Opposition is going to knock out clause 10 if it does not have its amendment passed. If later in the debate the Opposition adopted the principle of trying to save clause 10, which is a most important part of the Bill for the encouragement of the Australian film industrythe Opposition cannot expect to get all its own way- I suggest that it drop its insistence in relation to sub-paragraph (iii) and allow in that general description in regard to the oversight of the Parliament through the regulation. I hope that the Minister might be able to respond in some form by not going ahead with his opposition to the Opposition ‘s proposals in relation to sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). If the Opposition did as I suggest, from my experience in the making of legislation, that would be a fair compromise all round and it retains the essentials for the industry with the safeguard of Parliament.
– The Opposition has 2 major purposes which it desires to achieve in this area. I would have thought that in the expression of those objectives we ought to have the ‘support of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) and also of Senator Hall. The first objective is to ensure that the independent film producers, the small operators, those who produce films commercially for sale, will have a means by which they can be assisted by the Commission and have outlets in the theatres whereby they can show their short films. We want to stimulate and promote that objective. The second major concern that we have is that we should not create a situation under which thi: Minister can virtually superintend and direct the affairs of this Commission in the making of films and then require that theatres will show those Com mission- made, government-directed, ministerially-controlled films. We have insisted throughout this debate that we do not want 10 join in creating a government commission i.i which films are made by ministerial direction - that is what we believe this requirement of ministerial approval will become- will be propaganda films designed to present a case for a government, whatever complexion it might be, through the theatres of this country. Our attitude is based primarily on those 2 objectives. Last night wc were faced with a situation that in clause 10 the Minister was taking a power through the Coinmission under which the Commission woun.1 direct the theatres to show a proportion of Australian short films. The definition of ‘Australian short films’ includes Australian films made by commercial producers and it also includes films which are made by the Commission subject to the approval of the Minister.
If one examines the functions of the Commission as contained in paragraph (b) of clause 5 one sees that the Commission may make films subject to the approval of the Minister that serve the purposes of a department of state or an authority of Australia; that deal with matters of national interest to Australia; and films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. They are all films which the Com - mission may make but before it can make any of those films it must have the approval of the Minister. Because of the way in which the approval of the Minister would operate in that context, the Minister could get what he wants. Therein bes the enormous power which government can take to ensure that this Film Commission becomes a propaganda arm for government if it should want it to be that propaganda arm.
Therefore, we feel that if, in clause 10, there were a requirement under which those films could be shown in theatres, we would be just adding to the power which the Commission was taking. Not only could the Commission make these films as the Minister wanted it to make them but the Commission could also direct the theatres in which they were to be shown and could also insist that the films be shown to the exclusion of other films. Of course, the commercial independent producers could be shut out by the operation of that provision. Therefore, we believe that the appropriate course- as we have failed in an effort to persuade the Committee at an earlier date to exclude the power of ministerial approval or direction over the making of these films- is to remove that power to make a requirement. That is the view which, if our amendments which we have put forward today fail, we shall adhere to in the vote which we will cast on clause 10. But taking advantage of the suggestion made by the Minister last night, we have produced an amendment which we believe -
– You have transposed an amendment.
– What we have done is to produce an amendment to the definition of ‘Australian short films’ which will ensure that ‘Australian short films’ means the films which are produced by the commercial independent operators. If our amendment is accepted then it is those films which the Commission can say are to be shown in the theatres. That will be the encouragement to the film industry in this country because, consistent with what the Tariff Board report said, an outlet will be provided for those films. We will ensure, by our amendment to the definition of ‘Australian short film’, that the films made by the Commission cannot be insisted upon by the Commission as films that must be shown in a theatre. Of course, clause 5 of the Bill still remains and the Commission will have the ability to make films- as many films as the Commission and the Minister want to make- but it will not have the power to require that these Commission-made, ministerially-directed films shall be shown in the theatres. We believe that in that way we are avoiding the risk which we see in parts of this legislation that the Film Commission will become an arm of Government propaganda. At the same time we are promoting those whose interests really we want to see promoted and they are the small producers and operatorsthose persons who have a livelihood and who can sustain a livelihood by operating in the commercial film producing world. It is quite wrong, as the Minister has suggested, to say that we are denying to the public of Australia an opportunity to see films made by the Commission. We are not doing that. We are not, by this amendment, doing what the Minister said we were doingpreventing the public from having an opportunity of seeing a film about the Sunderland flying boat. If such a film is made it can be available to any theatre to show. It can be available to anybody who may want to exhibit it. There is nothing which will prohibit it being done.
We believe that the Government ought not be allowed to take a compulsory power to direct what films shall be shown. There is nothing in our amendment which will facilitate the taking of that power. Therefore, we accept, as Senator Guilfoyle has indicated, the proposition that we can amend the definition of ‘Australian short film’ so that we can overcome the problems which we saw in the existing clause 10. If the Government does not agree with the viewpoint put by the Opposition about amending the definition of ‘Australian short film’ then we are back, in a sense, to the position which we were in last night. But we object to clause 10 in the form in which it is presently cast.
– Before the sitting of the Senate is suspended for lunch I would like to put one or two facts straight. Firstly, it was not the Government that sought a deferral of this clause last night. I suggested to the Opposition that because it had not given proper consideration to all aspects of the Bill one way of reaching some conciliatory position might be for the Opposition not to continue their opposition to clause 10 and that we would examine a rewording of the definition in clause 3 of ‘Australian short film’. They took advantage of that offer and sought a deferral of this clause. It was not the Government that sought the deferral of the clause. It was in fact the Opposition. I made that suggestion in the hope that we could reach some form of settlement for the benefit of the industry.
What Senator Greenwood and the Opposition are saying is that all of the people employed by Film Australia and all of the productions of Film Australia are to be put in the same category as films from South Africa, United States, Canada, China or wherever it might be. They are not to be regarded as Australian short films for the purpose of quota. There is no compulsion for any exhibitor or distributor to take the films. All that we suggest is that they shall be eligible to become part and parcel of the quota, along with those being made by the commerical film producers. I suggest to honourable senators opposite, quite frankly, that had there not been a Commonwealth film unit in existence- now known as Film Australia ‘-there could not possibly have been an effective film industry which has reached the stage we have reached today. It has been that unit that has been responsible, generally speaking, for producing the gophers, the cameramen, the technicians and all those people. Those people have obtained their initial training with what was previously called the Commonwealth Film Unit because the Commonwealth has been able to afford that type of production- a type of production where today they have reached tremendous expertise.
Australia has made worldwide reputation and has made recently a co-production film with Canada and is about to make a co-production arrangement with New Zealand. The films that are made by Film Australia, under the amendments of the Opposition, will be put in the same category as foreign films. The Government certainly cannot accept that proposition, especially when about $4m of taxpayers’ money is being made available by the Government to Film Australia for the purpose of Film Australia productions and for the purpose of assisting in the development of the industry. I suggest that Senator Greenwood is way out. I am hoping that during the luncheon break we may be able to sit down and talk about the matter and perhaps bring some rationale into it. As I say, if the Opposition presses this matter it could completely destroy the benefits of the establishment of the Commission.
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.15 p.m.
-The Committee is considering an amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle in regard to the definition of ‘Australian short film’. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I would suggest that the question should be put in the form that the amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle be agreed to. Is leave granted for the question to be put in that form? There being no objection, the question will be put in that form. The question now is:
Thai the amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle in regard to the definition of ‘Australian short film’ be agreed to.
– I wish to speak to the amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle. I make the observation that I have listened for some hours last night and today to the debate in the Committee stage on this Bill. I agree that it is an extremely important Bill. I think it would be a very great pity, in view of the spirit of compromise that at times has been observed in this debate, if at the very end of it, when considering the combined effect of clause 3, as it would read if this amendment were agreed to, and clause 10, one of the basic objectives of the Bill was frustrated by ultimately clause 10 not being agreed to in its amended form.
I find it rather impossible to put to the Committee the suggestion I am about to make without considering clause 10 in conjunction with clause 3, because the amendment to clause 3 that is now before the Committee has as its main thrust clause 10. The purposes of the 2 clauses are intertwined. It seems to me that the Opposition would not wish it to be suggestedtherefore, I do not suggest it- that it would seek to do anything which would inhibit the widespread distribution of films which were made under the power contained in clause 5 (1) (b), which sets out the 3 categories of films that we are considering. As I say, the Opposition would not wish it to be suggested that it would not wish to see a wide dissemination of films which, in the words of clause 5 ( 1 ) (b) (i), (ii) and (iii) respectively, are films that serve the purpose of a department of state, films that deal with matters of national interest to Australia or films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. I am sure that, conceding for a moment the sincerity of Senator Greenwood ‘s desire that private film distributors as he terms them should not find undue competition from films made by the Commission, nevertheless the public has to be considered in this matter. I suggest that it is in the public interest that there be the widest possible dissemination of films properly made pursuant to the power contained in clause 5 ( 1 ) (b) (i), (ii) and (iii).
It seems to me that Senator Guilfoyle’s amendment and the thrust of Senator Greenwood’s speech which he delivered just before lunch were designed to ensure, as Senator Greenwood said, firstly, that there was not improper competition with private film distributors and, secondly, if I may use my own words to paraphrase his words, that films which might have some improper political bias were not included in the quota. Although the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), who is in charge of the Bill, sought to overcome the second of those objections by the offer that he made this morning, unfortunately it was rejected. Therefore, with the concurrence of the Minister, I put to honourable senators the suggestion that the difficulty would be overcome essentially if after the word ‘films’ last occurring in clause 10 (2) (b) (i) words to this effect were added: and in the case of films of a kind referred to in paragraph 5 ( 1) (b) (i), (ii) and (iii)–
That is, the films that concern the members of the Opposition- certified by the Commission to be films which are appropriate for inclusion in the proportion so specified.
That puts on the matter a different thrust from that which was rejected by the Opposition this morning pursuant to the Minister’s offer. In other words, there would be an additional requirement in relation to clause 10 that not only must the films which are the subject of a requirement under that clause be certified by the Commission to be Australian short films but additionally, I emphasise, in the case of films which were made under the power contained in clause 5 (1) (b) (i). (ii) and (iii) there would be a further certification by the Commission that they were appropriate to be included in a requirement given under clause 10. 1 suggest that that would remove any suggestion that, if ever a film came into existence which had some improper political overtones, it could be included in the quota system. The Commission- an independent statutory body- would have the additional duty of saying: That film is appropriate for inclusion in the specified proportion under clause 10 (2) (b) (i)’. I realise that I am speaking primarily to clause 10. But it is impossible to consider the effect of the Opposition’s amendment to clause 3 without examining what is its purpose. Clearly, its purpose is related to clause 10. 1 am grateful for the opportunity to pursue the matter in this way.
So I repeat what I have said in what may be a final effort to avoid a very desirable provision of this Bill being lost. With the approval of the Minister, I ask the Opposition whether it would consider withdrawing the amendment to clause 3 on the basis that when clause 10 is reconsidered by the Committee there will be inserted at the end of clause 10(2) (b) (i), after the word ‘films’, the requirement that I have mentioned, namely, that there be a further certification by the Commission, completely free of any ministerial control or direction in this matter- a requirement that the Commission should certify the film to be appropriate for inclusion in the films that would come into the quota system. I think I have made the position plain. Finally, I simply say that I believe it would be a sad day if, in the Committee’s final consideration of a Bill to strengthen the Australian film industry, there should be deleted from the Bill a provision which is designed to buttress up the Austraiian film industry and, in particular, Film Australia and to ensure a wide dissemination on the public interest of films which are basically in the national interest and which portray national sentiment and associated matters. I put forward that suggestion. If it falls on favourable ears, the Government will know what the position will be when we come to deal with clause 10.
-I am entering into the debate not to discuss the pros and cons of this clause but because of some statements made by Senator Hall in regard to the regulation making aspect of which he spoke in regard to his amendment. The impression could be gained from what he said that the very fact that regulations are made and come under the supervision of the Parliament is a safeguard. I want to make it clear that although regulations come to each parliamentarian, and understanding of them depends upon what scrutiny each parliamentarian gives to those regulations. Some honourable senators probably think that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee surveys all regulations, but it does not. It surveys the regulations that relate to certain aspects, such as the rights and liberties of people, whether the subject of legislation or otherwise. But where it is a matter of policy, as is this legislation, in my opinion such matters would not come within the scope of the Committee’s survey. It would therefore depend upon the individual parliamentarian to make his decision about whether he should move for the disallowance or otherwise of regulations.
For the parliamentarian to make a thorough survey of regulations a great deal of work would be required. A section of the regulations can slip through without parliamentarians realising the true impact of it. In order to make a proper survey we need to know the Act of Parliament, how it works and so on, and even if we are vigilant and know the Act there is still the question whether the matter which an honourable senator brings forward will find acceptance in the minds of other parliamentarians. They may take a different view of it. To show the need to have these regulations studied in conjunction with the Acts of Parliament, I point out that the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee has seconded to it a legal person who scrutinises regulations, makes a survey of them and reports back to the Committee. I understand that to make a survey takes quite a lot of work. I want to impress upon honourable senators that they should not be carried away by the fact that regulation making requirements are in a piece of legislation because where a survey and scrutiny of the regulations are required to be made by the individual parliamentarian it is a big job and regulations can easily slip through without his knowing its true consequences. Therefore we should treat this not as a simple matter but as one requiring very deep thought.
-We are grateful to Senator Everett for attempting to put forward another amendment to the Government’s amendment which is already before us.
– I have not put forward any amendment.
– I have an amendment which was put forward this morning.
– I put it to you for your consideration but I have not moved it. I asked for your support but you indicated privately that you would not give it.
– That is right. Perhaps I can rephrase what I said. The amendment suggested by Senator Everett is appreciated but, whilst he has made some points with which we concur, it still does not overcome the difficulties we have. For instance, Senator Everett has suggested that we would agree that we should not inhibit the widespread dissemination of films which are made under clause 5 (1) (b) (i) (ii) and (iii). We do not argue with that proposition. We would not seek to inhibit the widespread dissemination of documentary films made by the Government, but we do not wish to enhance the prospect of their exhibition at the expense of the commercial film makers whom, we understood, the Australian Film Commission was designed to assist. If we take as the starting point the fact that the films produced by the Commission are produced under the authority and with the approval of the Minister, we are then placing the Commission in a position of having to certify which of those films which have been produced under the authority and at the direction of the Minister are of the type that are not improper for this type of exhibition.
– It is not at the direction of the Minister. That provision has been removed.
-Well, with the approval of the Minister. The limitation of the way in which the Commission may function inhibits its scope in developing a film industry and its means of promoting the dissemination of films which it certifies, we consider, are still limited by the fact that the ones which are produced are only those which are subject to the approval of the Minister. For this reason we are unable to accept the amendment moved by Senator Everett as one that would overcome our difficulty with regard to the Bill as it stands. I repeat that with the functions of the Commission being subject to the approval of the Minister, the Opposition is unable to give authority to the Commission to require the theatres of Australia to exhibit the films which are made in this way. I am simply restating the position which developed earlier last night. Having been unable to arrive at an interpretation of ‘Australian short films’ which overcomes its difficulties, the Opposition, with reluctance is not able to accept the amendment moved by Senator Everett.
That the amendment (Senator Guilfoyle’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator J. J. Webster)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 10.
-I simply indicate, for the reasons which have already been outlined, that the Opposition will not be supporting clause 10 as amended.
That clause 10, as amended, be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator J. J. Webster)
Question so resolved in the negative.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator WebsterClause 10 has been deleted from the Bill. There is no clause 10.
Postponed clause 1 1.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Guilfoyle’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator J. J. Webster)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 October on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, this Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 1 October this year. After diligent efforts by Opposition spokesmen the Bill was not required to be debated until 16 October, but that represents a lapse of merely 4 sitting days of the Parliament. The Bill came into the Senate on 17 October and one week, or 3 sitting days, later the Opposition is faced with the need to consider the Bill in this place. The Bill attempts to deal with one of the most complex legal situations which the Constitution has projected. A problem of considerable practical importance requires resolution. The solving of this problem has taxed the resources and the ingenuity of some of the most astute lawyers of this country over many years. It has particularly excited attention without resolution in the 5 years since the clear character of the problem was resolved in the now well-known case of Moore v. Doyle in the Commonwealth Industrial Court in 1969.
The Opposition views with concern the way in which the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) has treated this Bill. We are concerned that he has regarded the problems which it purports to solve as matters which can be dealt with in a cavalier and undiscerning way. We are concerned that the persons most vitally concerned in the rectification of the problemnamely, the union movement, members of a number of unions and some employers’ organisations, but not all of them- have not been consulted as to the course which the Minister is pursuing. The States, whose co-operation in the passage of complementary legislation is absolutely indispensable to this Bill achieving its objectives, have not been consulted, and the Minister is unable to say what their course of action is likely to be. It is not unreasonable to say that the Minister is treating the people of this country, this Parliament and the persons most vitally affected by the problems that Moore v. Doyle has highlighted with contempt. It is not unreasonable to reflect on his attitude to this Bill and to compare it with his attitude to the administration of his portfolio generally. He has assisted, as the Minister for Labor and Immigration in this country, in producing the greatest rate of inflation that we have known in decades. He has assisted in the highest level of industrial disruption and dislocation, loss of working days, numbers of strikes and loss of wages in more than half a century, and he has presided over the nation’s worst unemployment since pre- 1949. One wonders at the application of the Minister to the problems of this country when one considers the way in which he has treated this matter of resolving the problems of Moore v. Doyle.
The Moore v. Doyle case in 1969 disclosed that the incorporation of employees’ or employers’ organisations under Federal legislation was not the same thing as the incorporation of such organisations and the creation of unions under State legislation. A union which is established under Federal legislation does not control or regulate the affairs of a State branch if that State branch is incorporated under the relevant State legislation. Questions of assets, membership and control all become the subject of disputation if 2 organisations, one Federal and one
State, each purport to exercise an authority over membership, assets or control of the organisation. The affairs of Federal and State organisations are thrown into confusion. Practical problems have arisen and will continue to arise because for years there was no recognition- or if there was some recognition it was inadequate- of the issues raised by this vexing decision of the Industrial Court. The decision in Moore v. Doyle did not create the problems. The problems were antecedent to the decision, but the decision exposed them. The real heart of the problems lies in the demarcation constitutionally of the power of a legislature to make laws with respect to the settlement of industrial disputes between the Commonwealth and the States. Section 51 (xxxv) of the Commonwealth Constitution provides a system for the settlement by conciliation and arbitration of industrial disputes which extend beyond the boundaries of any one State.
In the early days of our nation when the Constitution was being interpreted and was developing its own particular glosses there was an extension of the powers of the Commonwealth with regard to that head of power in a manner which had not been contemplated by those who had originally drafted and conceived the nature of the Federal power. The desire to move into the Federal arena of dispute settling and award making attracted the interests and efforts of many union officials. This head of power and the way it was implemented gave rise to the growth of Federal unions and Federal employers’ organisations and to the creation of disputes by easy, if somewhat artificial means. In the settlement of those disputes awards which had been offered to those who sought to bring themselves within the ambit of the Federal power were more acceptable and more generous than awards which were obtainable under the State legislation.
The combination of the interpretation of section (5)1 (xxxv) and the decision of the High Court in the Jumbunna case in 1 909 sustained all organisations of a Federal character. These organisations grew to take advantage of the federally provided disputes and award provisions. Little thought or attention was given, when a Federal organisation was being established, to the relationship between the State branches and the State unions. When State branches or State unions were combined to create Federal organisations the precise nature of the relationship between the State organisations and the Federal body was not clearly denned. In parricular, little thought was given to the consequences of incorporating a trade union or an employees ‘ or employers’ organisation under State legislation for the purpose of obtaining State awards or resolving State disputes when that organisation seeking State incorporation was also in an imprecisely defined way a branch of the Federal organisation.
Factionalism, litigation and the ambition of oncers of various unions, together with a considerable amount of legal ingenuity, brought to these latent difficulties a prominence which was eventually exposed in the problems of the Transport Workers Union in New South Wales preceding the Moore v. Doyle case. The Moore v. “Doyle case was important because, as I said earlier, it highlighted the distinction of a State branch of an organisation constituted in a particular way which, although it had regarded itself as part of a federal organisation, could not be part of that federal organisation. In the judgment which was handed down the Chief Judge of the Industrial Court indicated quite clearly that there was a need for reform, and he called upon all the parsons who were involved in the resolution of that problem to get together with a view to working out the necessary reforms.
– He forgot about the Senate opposition. He did not mention that.
-Of course, in those days the Senate Opposition was constituted differently from what it is today and I do not think that he was thinking in terms of other than an earnest desire to work together to resolve a difficult problem. In the years immediately following the Moore v. Doyle case that was precisely what happened. There was the establishing under the aegis of the Commonwealth Minister for Labor and the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral, together with the State Ministers for Labour, the State law departments, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the national employers body, of a working party which met over a period of approximately 2 years with a view to clarifying what were the issues and testing what were the possible areas in which reforms could take place. As I understand it, everybody worked in that atmosphere with a degree of goodwill which made everyone hope that some resolution might flow out of the discussions. But as I understand the position, since the present Government came into power there have been no further meetings of those particular groups to work together to achieve a resolution.
It may be that that is not in any sense a matter of culpability on the part of the Government because my recollection is that the parties had reached the stage where there was little more that they could do in this area. The most that had been achieved was an identification of what were the areas of doubt and what were the areas that needed to be resolved, and it was hoped that some action could be taken. I do not recall what happened in 1973, but it was not until early 1974 that Mr Justice Sweeney- a one-man inquiry, assisted by counsel- was appointed with a view to resolving some of these problems. The fact is that everyone recognised that the Moore v. Doyle case had exposed these problems which had to be resolved. I think it is important to recognise that the difficulties which have to be resolved cannot be resolved by Commonwealth parliamentary action alone. They are problems which cannot be resolved by State parliamentary action alone. Notwithstanding the goodwill of the employers’ organisations, there is very little that employers can do to resolve what is at heart and essentially a problem which affects the trade union movement and its organisation on a State and nationwide basis. These are the areas which I think were pinpointed as a result of the operation of the working parties to which I have referred.
I do not believe- and maybe I am pessimistic in my approach- that there will be co-operation between the various groupings to resolve the constitutional problems which the Moore v. Doyle case has thrown up. I believe that the ultimate solution must be an amendment of the Constitution, and I hope that the parties involved could use the difficulties found in the Moore v. Doyle case to reach the stage where a constitutional amendment, couched not in extravagant terms but in language which has the ability to command support from both wings of the political movements in Australia, and from employer organisations and unions, might be devised.
– Like the 1 959 proposals.
-Unfortunately the 1959 proposals were not proposals which commanded support outside the 10 or 1 1 persons who comprised the Constitutional Review Committee which put those proposals forward. Indeed, my recollection is that there was not a unanimous finding by that Committee of the Parliament with regard to the reference to industrial matters. There is no doubt that this problem has attracted the attention of people over the years. No fewer than 6 efforts have been made by parties of differing political persuasions to have a change in the head of power of the Commonwealth to make laws with regard to the broad subject of industrial disputation. On 6 occasions the people have been asked to extend the power and on 6 occasions they have refused.
It is an interesting sidelight possibly on the attitudes which parties take that the desire to use the processes of the Constitutional Convention for the promotion of a further referendum on this subject of widening the industrial power of the Commonwealth was expressed as part of the Opposition Parties’ platform at the last election. I suppose that proposal must be regarded as having been rejected. I understand that the Australian Labor Party favours some reform of the Constitution in this area. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party favour some reform in this area. The Constitutional Convention is currently constituted and is about to come into its second session, with or without Commonwealth representation. It is a forum at which agreement which is expressed independently could be brought together with the hope that some consensus could be reached. Of course, the real problem is getting together on the form of words which should constitute the head of power upon which the Australian people could be asked to vote. I believe that if goodwill is there, the differences are not so great that they could not be overcome.
One would suppose that the area which ought to be canvassed is the area under which there is a dispute settling procedure, preferably by conciliation and arbitration- not necessarily as part of the language of a head of power but as an exclusion from that head of power of a power to resolve disputes in the State or Federal public services. But this is possibly the solution of the future. What this Bill seeks to give effect to is the report of Mr Justice Sweeney. I think that one must recognise the effort and the real attempt to make a resolution of this question which is contained in the document embodying Mr Justice Sweeney’s report. It is a clear document and one has no difficulty in seeing where he regards the problems as lying and the ways in which he would overcome those problems. This Bill, of course, very substantially gives effect to what Mr Justice Sweeney recommended. In the Bill there are some provisions which were not part of his recommendation, but I think it is fair to say that the Bill is a substantial implementation of his suggestions.
But I draw attention to 3 matters which Mr Justice Sweeney regarded as crucial to the implementation of his resolution of these problems. The first was that whether the Commonwealth Parliament can initiate these proceedings by this sort of legislation depends upon a favourable reading of the Constitution. It depends upon reading into placitum 35 of the Constitution and interpretation of the incidental power of the Constitution on placitum 39 of section 5 1 which will enable the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws which really relate to State organisations. It is a bold step and one in which Mr Justice Sweeney may well be right in saying that he believes the Commonwealth has that power, but it is clearly an area in which doubt does exist and will exist until at some time in the future the High Court is called upon to make some adjudication. In paragraph 15 on page 12 of Mr Justice Sweeney’s report he states:
I will not refer in elaboration to those reasons which he stressed-
I am of the view that such a power can validly be given under the Act in pursuance of the power to legislate under placitum xxxv which authorises Parliament to make laws with respect to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State and placitum xxxix which authorises Parliament to make laws with respect to matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by the Constitution in the Parliament. In the Jumbunna Case the view seems to have been adopted that it would have been within power to give to trade unions and other associations constituted under the State laws a locus standi before the federal tribunal.
The kernel of what Mr Justice Sweeney recommends is based upon the validity of a law of the character which is contained in this Bill under the Commonwealth Constitution. As I have said, that is an arguable matter. Suffice it to say that the structure which he is suggesting depends upon that opinion and it is a fair enough basis to work upon. The second point is that the whole scheme of what Mr Justice Sweeney is contemplating depends upon complementary State legislation. At pages 28-32 of Mr Justice Sweeney’s report he sets out the various areas in which there must be complementary State legislation. He summarises most of those provisions. In paragraph 17 at page 31 he states that there should be a system of registration whereby a registered body under the State law does not by virtue of that become a corporation. He views as the appropriate course State legislation which constitutes voluntary associations of industrial organisations and not incorporated bodies under the State laws. He states that each State system should in each case retain a power to register the bodies which are to participate in the system. He states:
I contemplate that at least the discretion of the State tribunal in determining whether to register or not would be exercised having regard to the degree of autonomy of a federal branch for which registration was sought, the branch’s power to control activities within the State system, the presence of officers and like matters.
The State system should also retain ultimate sanction of deregistration of a federal branch.
I understand that that is a provision which, if not in all States, will in some cases warrant State legislation. His Honour went on:
Each State system at present provides for imposition of penalties in cases of illegal strikes or lockouts. In New South Wales this has been held to extend to strikes by members of registered unions even though they are employed under Federal awards. If this were removed and the power limited to cases concerning the working under State awards, there would in my view be no possible conflict with the Federal Act . . .
Obviously that requires complementary State legislation. Mr Justice Sweeney continues:
Since the branch will not be a legal entity it could not be sued in its own name. The remedy is to provide that the rules of an organisation shall contain a provision that if a branch is to obtain registration to enable the organisation to participate in State industrial systems then the Secretary of the branch shall be the person to sue or to be sued in matters arising under the State Act.
That again will require State complementary legislation. His Honour expressed concern about the method of enforcement of penalties. He stated:
This position can be met by the State machinery requiring as a condition of registration of a Federal branch that the organisation enter into a deed undertaking to pay to the Industrial Registrar any penalty imposed in respect of a strike or lockout under the State Act and remaining unpaid for a period of 14 days after the last day fixed for payment.
I leave aside how some organisations can square the making of a deed of that character with the policy which I understand is still the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In any event, whatever may be the attitudes of individual unions, State legislation would be required in order to enable that particular machinery to be adopted. His Honour also said that there should be a provision that the Registrar if required to give notice to and if required to consult with registrars of States before approving or certifying alterations to the rules. That again would involve in the State area some complementary legislation. His Honour stated:
Vesting all the power in respect of Federal organisations and their branches in one court would avoid the embarrassment of possible different judgments on the same issues in two separate tribunals. In the case of Federal branches which are given as I propose, non-corporate registration under a State Act, State provisions dealing with rules and their performance and disputed elections should not apply to those bodies.
I again assert that that requires complementary State legislation. Mr Justice Sweeney went on: -the power which now appears in the Act and in a number of State Acts giving power to the tribunal to make an order entitling persons to membership and requiring the organisation to admit them is another question . . . in the case of a Federal branch I think it preferable that the power be exercisable by one tribunal only and I think it quite sufficient if there is one power able to be exercised.
That again would necessiate some complementary State legislation although it would certainly involve amendment to the jurisdiction of the Australian Industrial Court. At the bottom of page 3 1 His Honour sets out in 9 paragraphs the areas in which he suggests that the respective State Acts could be amended. He excludes, of course, the further amendment which he refers to at page 36 where he recommends that the respective State Acts should be amended by providing as follows:
Of course, he recommended that the Commonwealth Act should be amended in the same areas. I have taken some time, possibly tediously, to refer to those areas where the judge, upon whose report this legislation is based, indicates that complementary State legislation is absolutely essential if the scheme which he is devising is to work. It is also clear that union co-operation to take advantage of this new system must be forthcoming if the difficulties are to be overcome. I leave aside the fact that there are bound to be personality and factional differences which will prevent this scheme from operating for some time, even if it were to be accepted by both the Commonwealth and the States. The real area of doubt which I have is whether unions will be prepared to enter into a deed, a bond, to pay any penalties which were imposed upon and ordered to be paid by a non corporate State union. I feel that this is one of the areas in relation to which the normally vociferous Mr Hawke has been fairly quiet. It would be interesting to know whether he regards this particular provision as one which the trade union movement would honour and, indeed, whether any union in the trade union movement would be prepared to enter into.
The Bill we now have before us provides for amendments to the Federal legislation. That is one of the steps which Mr Justice Sweeney recommends, but these steps will be of no consequence unless the complementary amendments required to be made to State legislation by State parliaments are made. Even if State legislation is passed, unless the unions agree to amend their rules, the scheme will be unfruitful. We have not been told whether the States are prepared to pass the complementary legislation. I invite the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Bishop), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Labor and Immigration, to indicate whether he can say positively that the States will implement complementary State legislation as required by Mr Justice Sweeney. The information available to the Opposition is that at least 2 States, and probably 3 States, have positively indicated that they will not do so. But it may be that more information is passing between Ministers than is available to the Opposition. We think it is also encumbent upon the Postmaster-General, again in his representative capacity, to indicate what is the attitude of the unions. Are they prepared to fulfil their part of the arrangements which have been suggested by the Minister?
I think this is an unfortunate development. The essential reason for my referring to Mr Clyde Cameron’s conduct at the outset of my remarks is that we are asked to adopt a scheme of this character when we are not told whether the other essential parties to the working out of the arrangement are prepared to do their part. It is not the proper basis upon which the Parliament should be asked to pass legislation. It may be that there are provisions in this legislation which, although they be introduced with a view to implementing a Moore v. Doyle solution, could be used for other purposes if the Moore v. Doyle situation is not resolved. I wonder whether the provisions relating to curing invalidity could not be used, at least as a basis for legal argument, which is putting it at its lowest, to frustrate those other provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which give members certain rights to see that the rules of the organisation are observed.
There are also the vexing problems which are raised by the proposed new section 142a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the possibilities which are open to a member of the Commission to determine by decision of the Commission which unions shall represent which members on a State basis in proceedings before the Commission. I have not much doubt that if any attempt were made in certain union areas to exercise that power the validity of the section of the Bill which gives to the Commission that power would be taken fairly quickly to the High Court. Maybe that is an effective safeguard.
But the point which the Opposition makes is that the Minister has not played fair with the Parliament in withholding information as to the attitudes of the States to the introduction of complementary legislation and the attitudes of the unions. These matters are absolutely essential to the working out of the scheme. We are not told what will happen. For those reasons I move on behalf of the Opposition as an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill:
That the following words be added to the motion: but the Senate is of the opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the Minister informs the Senate
whether or not the trade unions would accept the conditions for non-incorporated registration of State branches as laid down by the honourable Mr Justice Sweeney and
of the position of the States concerning proposed complementary legislation. ‘
We feel there is a real need for many of the trade unions to know what is contained in this provision and to know how the scheme is going to work. We also think it is desirable that we should know whether the States are prepared to cooperate to enable this scheme to work out. We will not be opposing the second reading of the Bill, because if this great scheme falls down it will fall down because of the Minister’s own approach to things and his lack of willingness to ascertain the views of the other parties. If our amendment is carried we shall, at the Committee stage, seek to postpone the first clause of the Bill with a view to ensuring that some time is given to enable the Minister to seek the opinion of the States. The Opposition proposes the amendment which I have moved and will support the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– I speak in support of the legislation. I was visibly distressed or depressed by the utterances of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Greenwood). When we look at the stark realities of the situation, we find that it was in 1969 that this momentous decision in the Moore v Doyle case was brought down. Because of the industrial changes that have occurred and have been inflicted on the work force and because of the strains that have been put on the trade union movement since that time, one would have thought that, whatever may be achieved by this legislation, there would have been a sense of urgency in having it enacted so that if there were any shortcomings in it we could build on it. I refer to the possibility of shortcomings because I know that Senator James McClelland and Senator Button will deal in depth with some of the legal misgivings on which Senator Greenwood expounded.
I want to deal with the more practical aspect of the industrial relations attitude of the average trade unionist and, what is much more important perhaps, some of the leading personalities involved. With all deference to what Senator Greenwood said about some trade unions having misgivings, I suppose it is a case of Hamlet without the Prince. The demarcation dispute to which the honourable senator referred would not have occurred if the key union, the Transport Workers Union of Australia, had not been involved. Senator Greenwood spoke today about a casual easytempo approach and an easy solution to demarcation disuptes. If an unfortunate demarcation dispute occurred involving segments of the Transport Worker’s Union and there was a hold up at an airport Senator Greenwood would stand up in this place at question time and would ask the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) and the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) what the Government was doing.
I think it was most uncharitable of Senator Greenwood to question the diligence of the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron). I know that Senator James McClelland shares my view that there has been no legislation comparable to that in connection with which 1,000 copies of the tremendous report prepared by Mr Justice Sweeney- assisted by Mr McGarvie, Q.C.- were sent out. If Senator Greenwood had examined that report he would have seen that a number of unions, other than the Transport Workers’ Union, were consulted. As recently as the 6-hour day march in which Senator James McClelland and I participated I had a conversation with Ted McBeatty, one of the leading actors in this drama involving the Transport Workers’ Union. His parting words to me were: ‘I hope that when you go back to Canberra you will get this legislation in orbit’. There is no secret about it.
Trade union goodwill and the goodwill of employers depends a lot on personal relations. It is a fact that the Federal Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, Mr Harris, and the Assistant Federal Secretary, Mr Hodgson, have not always seen eye to eye with the New South Wales State Branch secretary, Mr McBeatty. The art of successful industrial relations is to get people on the same personality wave length. At the present time it is well known that there is a tacit understanding between the people I have named. I repeat that as far as this legislation is concerned if the Transport Workers’ Unions want to work in harmony this will remove a tremendous source of irritation.
Senator Greenwood embellished this point by referring to unemployment, industrial unrest, and so on. Senator Greenwood is aware that disregarding the world wide inflationary trends, with modern technical changes occurring, it is the Australian work force that bears the brunt of job placement and changes in working conditions. This reminds me of a time 7 or 8 years ago when I heard Country Party senators questioning whether the Waterside Workers Federation, the Storemen and Packers’ Union and the Transport Workers’ Union would accept containerisation. Anybody from Sydney- I know it applies in the other States- must be aware of the stresses when we have a new ball game industrially. As required, the Federated Clerks’ Union entered into that dispute also. It is not a question of undue militancy. Unions have a job to protect the rights of their members. As a result, pressures and tensions are extended. Naturally, I suppose, when people want to score a strategic point they will have a look at union registration and all the kindred matters involved with it.
Something Senator Greenwood said frightened me. I think he feels that some non-Labor State Premiers will use a very minute section of the trade union movement in the same way as the Central Intelligence Agency subsidised a small element of the Chilean trade union movement. That would be bad for this country. I say that very deliberately. It would be a very serious state of affairs. If we get harmony between the 2 elements in the Transport Workers’ Union I feel that the synthetic objections to 1 or 2 other unions that may feel that they want to get a few more members are a minor consideration. There is no question about that at all.
I should like to take this matter a little further in relation to the possible challenges that Senator Greenwood visualises. I say again and again that if we remove this competition for members that did exist in the Transport Workers’ Union- in relation to fuellers and others in the union who work at the various airports- we would be taking a step to reduce any unnecessary or regrettable stoppages. I use the word ‘regrettable’ because no one could imagine that even when this legislation is passed there will be no industrial differences. One of the prices a free society will always have to pay is that people can push their point of view and have a confrontation. The natural corollary of what Senator Greenwood advocates is that a trade union secretary should rule by edict. In 90 per cent of disputes the management committee suggests further negotiations. The rank and file members of the union might think that they will put the screws on a bit and make the union officials work a little harder. It is not an edifying thing. It is mostly unfair to trade union officials. But it is part of democracy. Honourable senators have to take brickbats because of how we are performing and trade union secretaries expect the same.
If one reads the Minister’s second reading speech and the report of Mr Justice Sweeney, one sees that State Ministers of Labor and others involved in the State industrial field should have been aware of what was happening. The greatest regret that I have is that too many State governments appoint people as Minister for Industrial Relations or Minister for Labor who do not know what it is all about. Mr Hewitt, M.L.C., in New South Wales would not have the faintest concept of industrialism. All he has been told is that he has to humble the trade union movement. That is his attitude. Some of the views of Mr Rafferty, his counterpart in Victoria, are the same. He is another one of these backwoodsmen who wish that it was the nineteenth century and that we could go back to nineteenth century England and something like Peterloo with the army going in and all these sorts of things.
The point I emphasise is that if this legislation is rejected and delayed, as Senator Greenwood would like, the trade unions which expected constitutional changes via the national Parliament will find that the unions will have to slug it out, as it were, in a campaign to get members. It will be a matter of who can be the strongest. We preach about negotiations. Senator Greenwood might have in the back of his mind some of the misgivings of the Queensland Branch of the Federated Clerks’ Union. I can assure him that 1 or 2 of the officials in that organisation appear to have a maverick approach to industrial relations. That is their attitude. I know that the Minister for Labor has made endless pilgrimages to meet people who have widely divergent ideological attitudes in the trade union movement.
The great tragedy about this situation is that where there is a will there is a way. We will always have people who are stirrers. They cost the union members a lot of money in stupid litigation. Some years ago, when there was an endless wrangle in the Postal Workers’ Union a man named Neville Lynch had this attitude. He was defeated in ballots by thousands of votes. Yet he would persist with these vendettas. These sorts of people are like the jackals that get outside the campfire and live off corpses. This is their whole attitude and we do not want this sort of thing. I think that members of the major unions such as the transport workers and the meat workers are the people we should placate. It can be said that there has not been enough consultation. There were a number of unions that were well aware of the implications of the Moore-Doyle case. If one looks back into industrial history one sees that the Electrical Trade Union put its house in order and the Shop Distributors Union did the same. Other unions have come in that category.
In the overall considerations that were arrived at Mr Justice Sweeney made an evaluation. I think I can put it in a slightly different vein. I do not know what type of reading Senator Greenwood indulges in but there is a book in the Library on Sir Victor Feather, the retired president of the British Trade Union Council. It is true that Great Britain has a collective bargaining concept somewhat different to ours. But whether it be theirs or ours, he made the point that the successful role of trade unions is carried out by fighting limited wars. They accept limited victories and do not enter into total warfare. In most cases even with such an illustrious jurist as Mr Justice Moore or Mr Justice Robinson people have to make concessions. It does not matter whether it is Mr Harris or Mr McBeatty who is leading a transport workers union or its equivalent. If we are going to hold this legislation back the position will be something like that of a shipping convoy in wartime. One might wait until every ship is in good condition but at some stage they have to leave the port of embarkation. This is the recurring theme in this matter. Of course, we will never get the perfect system. I suppose we will have to accept what we can get at a given time. We have heard Senator Greenwood talk about the urgency of the matter. I point out to him that what happened took place in 1969. It is now 1974. At least we are launching something at this time.
Senator Greenwood, as a former AttorneyGeneral, will know that under our federal system the graveyard of lost causes is found in the numerous examples of the failure of the States to co-operate with the Australian Government in regard to uniform legislation. I think the honourable senator will remember the questions that I asked him when he was Attorney-General in regard to a uniform firearms code. I think that he accepted the proposition and that he believes in such a code. But I know that in my State of New South Wales the then Chief Secretary, Mr Willis, felt that he would be genuflecting to Canberra if he agreed to a uniform firearms code. That is an equally desirable reform. I simply make this point: I believe that additional changes will take place in our work force. Let us get away from this vexed question and these so-called dirty words trade union amalgamations’. They are in themselves on many occasions difficult without what is visualised in this reform.
I commenced my speech by stating that Senator Button and Senator James McClelland would deal with some of the fears in a legal sense expressed by Senator Greenwood. I have talked to the leading protagonist in this dispute, Mr Edward McBeatty, the controversial secretary of the New South Wales Transport Workers Union. If he is prepared to reach a resonable agreement with his counterparts in the Federal structure of the Transport Workers Union, that alone to me justifies such a procedure. To me there is nothing worse than just coasting along. I do not know how many such disputes we have had to examine over the years. Mr Acting Deputy President, you and I know that in this year of 1974 the whole advertising syndrome is based on instant action. I know that instant action can have repercussions. But, although we have been grappling with the problem since 1969 and more technological changes are not around the bend, all the Opposition is saying is that we do not know whether the trade unions would accept the conditions for non-incorporated registration and we do not know the position of the States. Let us be realistic about the position. I am one who is perhaps a little idealistic. I believe that Canberra should be the pacesetter. I say very bluntly to members of the Opposition who are adopting this attitude that there will be other disputes involving the Transport Workers Union or other disputes over the internal control of unions. Such disputes may involve unions whose members are engaged in essential services.
If the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, or the Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Clyde Cameron, appears on the television program ‘Monday Conference ‘ or a similar television program and accuses the members of the Opposition of being guilty men, they will come into the Senate and say that those remarks represent a gigantic smear. They become very resentful when we use the word ‘obstruction’. As I see the position, a neon sign showing the word ‘obstruction’ could be placed in front of the Opposition’s amendment. I do not say that in any Utopian way. I do not say it as a distant observer to the position. It was good enough for one of the people involved in this dispute, Mr McBeatty, to say to me on 6-hour day that he hoped that when I came back to Canberra I would support action to implement speedily the product of the mind of Mr Justice Sweeney. That is what we are trying to do today.
– I find myself in complete agreement with my colleague, Senator Mulvihill, when he says that it would be difficult to find a more blatant example of obstruction than what we are meeting in the attitude of the Opposition to this urgent and overdue measure. This Bill is very dear to my heart, if only because during my years in legal practice I was up to my ears in the very problem which it seeks to solve. I know that this is not an academic problem. It is not a problem which lends itself to a leisurely approach such as that suggested by Senator Greenwood. He says, in effect: ‘Let us talk about it a little further. Let us talk to the employers, the unions and the States and let us see whether we can get a constitutional amendment’. This statement represents a curious leap from the pessimism which he confesses to feeling about the prospects of co-operation with the States -
– You were the instructing solicitor in Moore v. Doyle -
– I will come to that. I will give the honourable senators the reasons why, with all modesty, I can claim a little more expertise in this matter than even perhaps his distinguished self. At one moment Senator Greenwood is pessimistic and says that we cannot expect co-operation from the States. I point out, by the way, that that is a curious observation by one who is constantly accusing us of dragging out feet in the matter of co-operation with the States. Yet, he goes on to express what in the light of recent history we can only regard as the most purblind optimism when he suggests that we can have a constitutional amendment passed. If there is one thing that should have become clear to practising politicians in this country, it is that the most difficult thing to do is to persuade the citizenry to amend this out-of-date document, the Australian Constitution.
The report on which this Bill is based is, as Senator Greenwood stated, the product of the labours of Mr Justice Sweeney. I thought that I detected some suggestions from Senator Greenwood that perhaps Mr Justice Sweeney was not the most competent man to comment on these problems. In my view, if we were to search throughout the country it would be very difficult to find anybody more competent to come up with a solution to this problem than Mr Justice Sweeney. Not only was he when in practice commonly regarded, at least in Sydney, as the most able and experienced practitioner in the field of industrial law; but, as Senator Greenwood knows, he was the counsel briefed by me in this vexed case of Moore v. Doyle. I happened to act for one of the parties in that case. This matter on which the Government of which Senator Greenwood was a member took such a leisurely approach happened so long ago that when I look back on the case now I find it difficult to remember whether I acted for Moore or for Doyle. In fact, I acted for Doyle.
– I understand that you won.
-Of course we won. Mr Justice Sweeney, who was then a leading counsel at the Sydney Bar, acted in the matter and succeeded in persuading the court that the victory should go to our side.
I must join issue with Senator Greenwood when he suggests that it was the Moore v. Doyle case which uncovered this problem. This problem was one which anybody who came anywhere near the industrial jurisdiction knew all about for many years before the Moore v. Doyle case. In fact, one of the judges in the Moore v. Doyle case- the judge, who I happen to know, was instrumental in drawing to the attention of both the State and Federal legislatures the necessity for getting together to find some solution to this problem; I refer to Mr Justice Kerr, the present distinguished Governor-General of Australia- was in a position to know more about this problem than even Mr Justice Sweeney. This is because Mr Justice Kerr, as a barrister, had been briefed in many cases- some of them cases in which I was the instructing solicitor- in which this problem of the dichotomy between State and Federal law in the matter of the status of registered organisations was at the heart of the problem. It was not something that just came to light in the Moore v. Doyle case. It was the conjuncture in that case of the counsel, Mr Sweeney, Q.C., as he then was, Mr Justice Kerr on the Bench and, if I may say humbly, my presence in the case, which produced the passage in the judgment drawing the attention of the legislatures of this country to the need to do something about this festering sore.
I think it is worth while at this stage, in case there are some doubts as to what the problem is, to point out that it is adequately and fairly stated in the second reading of the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop), as Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration, where he points out that over the years, because we have this dichotomy in our industrial law, situations arose so that a State branch of a Federal union and a State union often were administered as if they were the same body, with one set of books, one register of members, one membership fee, one set of officers, one election of officers for both bodies and one system of meetings. In some cases the rules of the State union are complied with and the rules of the State branch of the Federal union are ignored and in other cases the position is reversed. The plain fact of the matter as regards the ordinary unionist is that he conceives of himself as belonging to one undifferentiated body which he calls ‘my union’. This was the position in the Moore v. Doyle case which involved the Transport Workers Union. To give another example of this problem I mention that my present distinguished Leader in this Senate, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), and I were engaged over a long period on opposite sides in an intra-union- it could only be called that- in which this problem tore the union apart. Senator Murphy found himself on one side of the record and I on the other.
The ultimate denouement in this union brawl highlights the absurdity of this position. After years and years of litigation in which I succeeded in obtaining legal victory in the courts and Senator Murphy’s clients remained in control of the union because they ducked from the State body to the Federal body, my client finally won an election and went down to take his place in the union office. The astute opponent he had been fighting all these years, who had been very astutely advised by Senator Murphy, sat him down in a corner of the office and said: ‘Yes, you beat me in the ballot. You are now the secretary but it is an unpaid position because all the funds belong to the State registered union of which I am still the secretary. You go for your life. You have won but see what you will be able to live on. ‘ After a few weeks of this my client, who had scored a handsome victory in a poll of the members who believed they belonged just to the one union, had to give up and go back to work, and victory temporarily went to the man who had been rejected by his members.
I knew enough about the problems facing my client not to advise him that what this opponent of his had asserted was incorrect, because there was just no way of unravelling whether the State registered body or the branch of the Federal body owned the assets. So I had this empty victory, my client had this empty victory and the members of the union had an empty victory after showing quite clearly that they wanted my client as the secretary of the union rather than the other man. They were left having to be content with the man whom they had rejected. This is an horrendous situation cutting the ground from beneath the democratic processes in this country, something which people who are fond of railing against trade unions as the source of all the problems of this country should be worried about. I do not know how we can take seriously their constant upbraiding of the unions for their role in our society. Even after the incident I have mentioned of the man winning a ballot and not being able to take over the job this union- the Transport Workers Union which was involved in the Moore v. Doyle case- continued to provide the locus of struggle caused by the dichotomy of Federal and State industrial law and this led to the Moore v. Doyle case.
It is interesting briefly to trace what the Moore v. Doyle case was about. The union registered under the laws of New South Wales- I will refer to it as the ‘trade union’- was attempting to enrol taxi drivers in its ranks. It had never been able to enrol taxi drivers because they were considered to be self-employed persons and were not covered by the New South Wales Arbitration Act until an amendment of that Act was introduced making specific provision for people like taxi drivers and lorry owner-drivers to be enrolled in the State union. This was resisted fiercely by the employers in New South Wales. In fact one case was taken as far as the Privy Council, in which also Mr Sweeney appeared. The union managed to win this case right up to the Privy Council. Finally, Counsel advising the employers hit upon the idea that he might be able to establish that the trade union registered in New South Wales did not in fact exist but had had its identity absorbed in the branch of the Federal union and that, therefore, if that State registered body did not exist it could not go out and enrol taxi drivers or lorry owner-drivers because it would have to rely on the Federal industrial laws which excluded such persons because, by definition, they were not employees.
In the result, counsel for the employers failed to establish that fact. But the case had this curious result: Although the court found after an examination of the history of the 2 separate legal bodies- the State registered union and the branch of the Federal organisation- that the State body had continued to exist, it followed that the branch of the Federal organisation had for all practical purposes become defunct. That is not the end of the story. The notion that Moore v. Doyle is some sort of an academic problem we can take our time about does not stand up, because after the Moore v. Doyle case a faction fight blew up inside the union and the organisationthis is the word used in all Federal legislationthat is, the federally registered organisation, then began to claim the bodies of persons who were covered by Federal awards. It actually came over to New South Wales. The federal secretary of the organisation sent his representative to New South Wales to set up a branch of the organisation to replace the defunct branch which the officials of the State body had believed to be the same as the State body over all these years. The result is that we now have 2 sets of officers contending for these members in New South Wales.
– Causing the petrol strike.
-And causing, among other things, all the cars in Sydney to go off the road for a few days in 1 972 because the oil tankers drivers who had belonged to the old body refused to accept the idea that they should join this new branch which had been set up by the organisation. As a matter of fact, I had a dramatic illustration of the continuation of this problem this morning. When I found out shortly before lunch that I was to speak on this Bill I rang the Transport Workers Union in Sydney to get a little information. I took the first number in the book and asked for Mr McBeatty, who has been referred to by Senator Mulvihill and who is the secretary of the New South Wales branch. 1 was told by the man who answered the telephone: ‘He does not work here. He is in the State branch.’ I had rung the wrong number. The position in New South Wales at present is that there is one body claiming to have been the anointed body with the apostolic succession from the federally registered organisation which has about 1,100 members and the State branch, the one which has not any real locus standi in the Federal organisation, has 750 oil carters, 200 drivers for Qantas, 16 Commonwealth car drivers and 80 truck drivers in the Department of Supply- all covered by Federal awards- all of whom because of their allegiance and loyalty to the old body stayed with the body which cannot legally represent them.
This is the sort of problem which occurs even in this one union, the Transport Workers Union. As Senator Button points out, this is not something about which we can twiddle our thumbs while we wait for a constitutional amendment and say that it is only of interest to the lawyers and does not really matter. As Senator Button said, it is something which stopped all the traffic in Sydney for a few days in 1972 because the oil tanker drivers would not accept the proposition that one set of officials was entitled to represent them in court rather than the other set of officials. I have noticed that in the last few days another brawl has blown up involving a large important union- the Shop Assistants Union- in which the Federal Secretary, a Mr Egan, has been tipped out of his job, From my experience in this field I can read the signs that there will be a long and bloody battle which will be costly to the union, costly to the community and something to which I would have thought the legislators of this country must immediately advert.
– How is the current matter of Mr Egan a Moore v. Doyle problem.?
– I do not know the full ramifications of the matter but I know that on a television program the other night Mr Egan suggested that this struggle had overtones of the Moore v. Doyle matter. I do not presume to know much of the detail of it but I know Mr Egan. I know his acquaintance with these legal problems and I have accepted at face value that it does have those overtones. But even if it does not, we can rest assured that there will be no shortage of union struggles raging around the Moore v. Doyle problem. As I said, it is as old as the existence of unions in this country. As soon as a faction fight flares up and a union or a group of employers sees some advantage in exploiting the dichotomy between State and Federal industrial law, as happened in the Moore v. Doyle case, we will get similar litigation. If the union officials of this country were to look to their actual legal positions a great number of them would find that they just do not occupy those positions in law at all. That is all right so long as the union is flowing smoothly enough, but as soon as a faction fight blows up somebody goes to a lawyer, somebody sees a man of the industrial acumen of Senator Murphy, and before we know where we are a free-for-all has started.
There are enough problems to worry honourable senators opposite arising out of the existence of trade unions and their belief that they should look after their members’ rights- an impression that certainly cuts across what honourable senators opposite have been conveying to us in recent years- so I cannot see why they should be selfsatisfied about letting this additional irritant in trade union affairs go uncured. It is suggested by Senator Greenwood that we should not be doing this because we cannot do it on our own. There is no mystery about that matter either. This is something which is spelt out in great detail in the judgment of Their Honours in the Moore v. Doyle case. Mr Justice Sweeny has said constantly that this is a problem that cannot be solved by the Australian Government alone. But is that a reason why we should do nothing until the High Court does something? Somebody has to start these things going. I do not believe that we can afford the luxury of waiting for constitutional change, which is Senator Greenwood ‘s solution to this tangled problem.
As to the constitutionality of the proposals, I thought Senator Greenwood made a very curious remark, for a lawyer. He said that no doubt there will be some uncertainty about the constitutionality of this solution until the High Court passes on the matter. He must know that the High Court does not pass on these matters in a vacuum. It cannot really let us know what it thinks about the matter until it has an Act before it to construe. It does not seem to me to be a bad starting point to push this case up to the High Court which perhaps will let us know whether it stands up. Frankly, I cannot understand how a consistent advocate of co-operative federalism like Senator Greenwood can express such pessimism about the possibilities of our securing the co-operation of the States. He is not borne out by the attitudes of the States in my experience.
As a matter of fact I received a little gentle mauling myself for expressing opinions based on misinformation, I must confess, at the constitutional convention held in Sydney in September last year. I took the opportunity, as a man who is somewhat obsessed by this problem, to express certain views. I found myself in a constitutional gathering with the Attorneys-General and the Ministers for Labour and Industry of the various States present. I thought: ‘Here is a good opportunity to prod these chaps into doing something about the Moore v. Doyle problem’. So I stood up and accused the State representatives of more or less dragging their feet. 1 promptly met with this rebuke from Mr Hewitt, the Minister for Labour and Industry in New South Wales. He said:
If I recount, for the benefit of the honourable senator -
He was referring to me- a few happenings 1 think he will be compelled to agree with me. In April last -
That is in April 1973- the Ministers for Labour met in Melbourne and the Hon. Clyde Cameron agreed on behalf of the Commonwealth to submit to the federal Parliament legislation with a view to rectifying, as well as one can by legislation, the situation that arose from the Moore v. Doyle case. This proposal was based on a recommendation from New South Wales and I might state that we had some of the best industrial legal advice available to back our proposition. The Ministers met again in Melbourne last Friday and when the State Ministers asked the Hon. Clyde Cameron why the Commonwealth had not acted as had been agreed -
That is a curious reversal in that here we have the States reproaching the Australian Government with dragging its feet- he said that the pressure on the Parliamentary Draftsman to get legislation through meant that his legislation in this area had been delayed and would not come on until 1974. In the meantime the States have delayed their back-to-back legislation until the Commonwealth legislation, which was agreed to at that conference, has been enacted. I trust that Senator McClelland will take the trouble to ascertain the facts from his colleague, the Minister for Labour in Canberra, so that he may verify that what I say is indeed the case.
This is a rebuke which I am glad to accept but which, I suggest, completely refutes the proposition that is put up by Senator Greenwood, that we should wait, that we should delay until we are more sure that the unions, the State governments and presumably the employers will back us up in what we are undertaking.
Just before I rose to speak I had placed in my hand a document which comes from Mr Polites who, I think it will be agreed on all sides, is the authoritative spokesman on industrial matters for the employers of this country. The document reads:
The provisions of a Bill to amend the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act designed to implement the report of the Sweeny inquiry into the problems illustrated by the decision in Moore v. Doyle appear to be generally satisfactory.
Then Mr Polites goes through the more important provisions of the Bill in detail and indicates his assent on behalf of the employers of this country to what is proposed in the Bill.
Of course, it is worthwhile to recapitulate briefly the history of what has transpired, between Mr Clyde Cameron and his Department and his counterparts in the States, to rebut the proposition that there had not been sufficient time or that the unions or the States have not been able to consider the matter and, therefore, this should be deferred in some way. It is worth recalling that the Moore v. Doyle case is now5½ years old. As I recall it, the judgment was given some time early in 1969. Proceeding in leisurely fashion, the previous Government had a series of conferences. There is no doubt that it was seized of the fact that there was a problem here, but it proceeded at a very leisurely pace. As in so many areas of government, it was necessary for a Labor Government to be elected to power in this country before any serious attempt was made to grapple with this problem. I ask honourable senators not to forget that the Sweeny report, if I may call it that, on which this Bill is based was tabled here and in the other place in August this year. There has been plenty of opportunity for honourable senators opposite to read it and to digest it. Of course, the Bill is based primarily on the recommendations in that report. Copies of the report were distributed to all the States and to major unions and employer bodies. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) formally sent copies to each State Premier in July. The Minister sent copies to each of the State Ministers concerned in July. Copies also were sent to the relevant departmental heads. In all over 1,000 copies have been distributed to interested parties since publication in July.
So, the provisions of this Bill, incorporating the amendments contained in the report, are not new. Moreover, at a conference of Ministers for Labour in Brisbane on 30 August this year- I think I heard something fall from Senator Greenwood which suggested that such conferences had ceased in recent months- draft copies of the Bill were distributed to the State Ministers. The recommendations in the report were discussed there.
– What did the State Ministers say at conference? Do you know?
– I am informed by the Minister that they indicated their support for the proposition that a Bill should be introduced- apart from the representative of Queensland who, not surprisingly and very consistently, dissented from the general unanimity of the gathering on the ground that he could not understand the propositions.
– Not surprisingly, again.
-Not surprisingly at all. Otherwise, these Ministers indicated general agreement with what is being done here. The working party established in 1970 by the National Labour Advisory Council examined the matter in detail over a period of nearly 3 years, as Senator Greenwood knows.
Being a Government which is prepared to grapple with problems and to attempt to find a solution, we believe that it is about time somebody grasped the nettle and did something to solve this problem, rather than wait until the tanker drivers of Sydney or Melbourne, or some other batch of workers, in frustration because of a brawl between officials of their Federal body and of a State registered union do something which will inconvenience millions of people. We think that, rather than wait for that or for some mythical consensus between the major parties which will promote the possibility of a constitutional reform going through, it is about time we did something about the problem. That is the basis of this Bill. That is why it is introduced into this Parliament. In the light of what has been said here today, I suggest that that is a fairly good indication that we are a Government which believes in attempting to solve problems rather than just using problems as some sort of a weapon with which to beat our opponents over the head. For those reasons I earnestly commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Government takes the view that the Parliament should now take the step of passing the legislation. As Senator James McClelland has pointed out, it is now over 5 years since the famous Moore v. Doyle case. It is over 5 years since a previous Liberal Government decided to set up a working party of the National Labour Advisory Council. That working party worked on this problem for about 3 years. It made observations in a report which has been circulated to members of the Parliament. I think the working party consisted of representatives of all States except one, of the employers and of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. All representatives on the working party were agreed that an attempt should be made to overcome the difficulties adverted to by the Australian Industrial Court. The report went on with some other comments in the same vein. In paragraph 1 4 it stated:
Australian Government departmental representatives favoured an alternative approach based on the premise that, while it was basically a matter for the unions themselves to put their affairs in order, legislative provisions were needed to minimise the effects of technical irregularities and provide machinery to enable the unions to rectify irregularities.
But, of course, this is not a question which concerns only the trade unions, as has been evidenced by the comments made by Senator James McClelland about the views of Mr Polites. This is not the first step. As a matter of fact, as most people know, in South Australia the South Australian Government provided some stop-gap industrial legislation which placed a moratorium on the sort of acts which might arise in relation to these matters flowing from that judgment.
Later, as honourable senators know, when we became the Government the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) requested Mr Justice Sweeney and a committee to report on these matters. I suggest that the report of that committeethe Committee of Inquiry on Co-ordinated Industrial Organisations- which is now being discussed by us is, in fact, a classic report because it deals with the sorts of questions about which Senator Greenwood has talked. As to whether the legislation is constitutionally valid, I suppose that lawyers could argue the point. Mr Justice Sweeney has discussed it in the report, and the decision is that it could be. As a matter of fact, what we have done is simply to follow the suggestions and drafting recommendations of Mr Justice Sweeney. So, in fact, the Government has not done anything new. It has put into the Bill the recommendations of Mr Justice Sweeney and his Committee. As I said before, this is not the first step. As was admitted by Mr Lynch and by Senator Greenwood, on 8 May 1973 we took a step in relation to amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. As reported at page 1 76 1 of Hansard, Mr Lynch stated:
The Bill proposes to allow employee organisations to include in their membership persons who follow an occupation in or in connection with an industry and persons engaged in an industrial pursuit otherwise than as an employee. This is the proposition which the Government has advanced as a partial solution to the very vexed problems of the case Moore v. Doyle. It is a stopgap arrangement more pertinent to the problems created by the power struggles within the Transport Workers Union than to the central difficulties created by the judgment in Moore v. Doyle.
He made some other comments, and then he continued:
The Opposition believes that there are 4 possible solutions: The enlargement of Commonwealth power to legislate for terms and conditions of employment in industry and for trade unions; the transfer of certain powers to the Commonwealth by the States without referendum; complementary State and Federal legislation; or the encouragement of unions to go through the procedures required by law for the dissolution of State unions and the formation or State branches of federal unions.
Here we are not talking about what a Commonwealth organisation might do on its own account; we are talking about how a Commonwealth organisation might act in relation to its State branches. Senator Greenwood made remarks complementary to what Mr Lynch said. Senator Greenwood did not object to these provisions. As reported at page 1210 of Hansard of 16 October, he stated: 1 take the point which Senator Mulvihill raised. He referred to the Moore v. Doyle situation . . .The Bill contains a clause which seeks to overcome the Moore v. Doyle situation. The Opposition will not oppose that clause, but the Opposition certainly has reservations about whether it will stand up in a court of law if there should bc a challenge to it. We recognise that the resolution of those problems is not easy. The Prime Minister, when taxed about the recent industrial disputation in this country, said that the majority of the disputes which were taking place were caused by demarcation problems.
He continued in that vein. We know the problems which have arisen. Some of these problems are referred to by Mr Justice Sweeney. In the report he talks about the Transport Workers Union and the great problems which arose subsequent to the Moore v. Doyle decision. He also refers to the disputation and disruption in the oil industry in particular, and to the Shell Oil Co. dispute which occurred only recently. He stated:
I should add that written submissions were made to the Committee by each union.
They are the New South Wales Transport Workers Union and the Federal Transport Workers Union. He continued:
These stated that if a system of non corporate registration, as discussed later, is adopted in New South Wales the 2 unions can settle their differences and amalgamate and these problems will not then recur.
I have been told that the Federal Transport Workers Union has decided since the amendment to the Act last year to amend its rules to meet that situation. I suppose the only defence which the Opposition has is to ask, as it has asked in the amendment, whether the unions will cooperate and whether the States will co-operate.
I have already mentioned that the South Australian Government acted quickly. It told the Federal Minister for Labor and Immigration that South Australia is ready to introduce complementary legislation as soon as the Commonwealth Parliament passes this Bill. It would seem to me absolutely essential for this Parliament to pass the Bill and then take the initiative following the meetings between the State Ministers of Labor with Mr Clyde Cameron, which have been referred to by Senator James McClelland, in which this subject has been a matter of fairly continuous discussion. I would think that that is the stage to ask and urge the State governments to pass complementary legislation. We are satisfied that in the main the State parliaments will do so. Senator James McClelland has referred to favourable statements from the New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry. What will the unions do about it? It is true that not every union which is concerned about this matter has answered the question, but only yesterday I was told personally by Mr Souter, the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, that the ACTU supports the Bill. We know now that the employers are as much concerned about this matter because they are organisations in the same sense. They are registered in a similar way to the way in which the unions are registered. I shall read some of the comments made by Mr Polites representing the national employers in his submission which was recently sent to Mr Clyde Cameron. It was sent this month. The submission is headed ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Bill Notes for Discussion’. He stated:
The provisions of a Bill to amend the provisions of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act designed to implement the report of the Sweeney inquiry into the problems illustrated by the decision in Moore v. Doyle appear to be generally satisfactory.
He dealt firstly with clause 3. He stated:
This proposal was part of the Sweeney report and is probably necessary.
He dealt with clause 4 which amends section 132. He stated:
Therefore proposals implement the Sweeney report and follow changes made to conditions of eligibility.
He talked about clause 5 which refers to schedule C of the Sweeney report which concerns the vexed question of property. He raised problems which we know exist but which do not deter the passage of the Bill. He agreed that in the main sections 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 were not objectionable and were necessary for passing this legislation, etc. Senator Greenwood referred in his speech to the demarcation provision which will be inserted by clause 1 1. It refers to a situation arising from the new requirement of eligibility in the industry and provides for the commissioner to have certain responsibilities. Proposed section 142 A states:
The Commission may, on the application of an organisation, an employer or the Minister-
I am told that the Minister would not be worried if the word ‘Minister’ was taken out. make an order providing that an organisation of employees shall have the right to represent, in respect of all or some industrial interests under this Act, a class or group of employees who are eligible for membership of the organisation, either generally or subject to such limitations as it may specify, to the exclusion of another organisation or organisations and may make such orders as it thinks necessary in consequence of such an order.
In increasing the ambit it is absolutely essential that we have a power to make sure that a new situation does not develop which would create competition and disorganisation. The reason for that proposed section is that it is constructive and it has been recommended by Mr Justice Sweeney. We cannot see why anybody should object to these provisions. One of the measures discussed by the Committee of inquiry is the question of a deed or bond or some sort of penalty under the new arrangements which would obtain as a result of the passage of this Bill and the complementary legislation to be passed by the States. In some cases people have put this forward as a sort of remedy. The Government is not saying that this situation ought to apply. We are simply reporting that Mr Justice Sweeney indicated this as one of the things which might be done. In fact it may be for the States to decide whether any such enforcement procedure is necessary. I would think that in my State, which has generally followed the policies of the Federal Labor Party, there would not be any imposition of penalties. Rather there might be a requirement, in cases in which a body does not act consistently with the requirements of the State industrial arbitration Act, that it follow a policy of deregistration.
So it seems to us that this is merely a delaying situation. This subject has been more than thoroughly canvassed. The working party set up by the Government in which Senator Greenwood was a Minister certainly advanced consideration of the problem, and summarised some of the things it should do. The then Minister for Labour and National Service argued that there ought to be legislation in the Parliament. That legislation was never brought into the Parliament during the reign of the Liberal Party. Seeing the issues and knowing the problems in industry generally- I refer to the disputations which arose as a result of the Moore v. Doyle case- we took it upon ourselves to ensure that the matter would be readily reported, and we brought a Bill into the Parliament. That Bill is here today. I suggest that the amendment simply delays something which should be done now. Having done it, there seems to be no reason that the States and the ACTU, acting and speaking for all the unions, should not readily co-operate in a constructive way to bring about the changes which are required. Everybody knows that those changes are intricate and complex. They are not impossible. The first step has been taken today. I suggest that if the Opposition votes against the Bill one puts beyond possible improvement the sort of industrial complexities which we have today when we should be aiming to solve many of them.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, the Opposition indicated its attitude in the course of the second reading debate. It said it believed that this Bill ought to be delayed only to enable the Minister to inform the Senate as to the attitude of the States and of the unions. As I indicated, there is no question in anyone’s assessment of the structure which Mr Justice Sweeney has recommended but that complementary legislation by the States is required and co-operation by the unions is required. I only regret that we were not given more information about that matter before the second reading debate concluded. The Senate desires that the Bill should proceed, and the Opposition is not opposing it. We just know that this Bill will not achieve its objective until there is this complementary legislation and until some unions are prepared to operate under it.
– That is ludicrous.
– I hear Senator Button say: ‘That is ludicrous’, but I do not think that that comment does him justice.
– The ACTU favours the legislation.
-The Australian Council of Trade Unions may favour the legislation. If only one could have some assurance from either the President or the Secretary of the ACTU conveyed to the Senate and to Mr Fraser as the Opposition spokesman on industrial matters, that it favours the legislation and will support it, that would at least be indicative of the ACTU’s attitude and it would resolve our concern. I understand that Mr Hawke is not at all enamoured of the proposal. To mention just one aspect: Will unions enter into a bond that they would honour and pay penalties which are awarded against them? This to me is a matter which probably has not been discussed by the interstate executive of the ACTU. I should imagine that it is a matter which a great number of unions are unaware is part of the arrangement which has to be entered into. I simply make that comment in passing.
As regards the other aspect of whether the States will pass complementary legislation, I listened to what the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) said. He believes from what Mr Cameron has told him that once this legislation is passed the States will pass their complementary legislation. But I read only from the telegram which I know Mr Fraser received from Mr Hewitt in New South Wales. It states:
Understand Federal Minister Cameron claiming that States in agreement with Federal Legislation reference Moore and Doyle. This statement untrue. Queensland adamant in objection.
I stop there to say that I think that is something which Senator James McClelland acknowledged in the course of the debate. The telegram continues:
New South Wales. Western Australia and Tasmania have advised Federal Minister our legal opinion considers proposed legislation unconstitutional.
I stop here again to say that that I think was the view which New South Wales at least put before Mr Justice Sweeney, and he adverts to it in his report. It went on:
Therefore would await legal clarification before considering State legislation. Sections concerning union rules and strikes bear no relation Moore v Doyle issues. Believe in the interests of industrial relations generally throughout Australia proposed legislation should be defeated or deferred pending some detailed investigation.
That is an attitude of the States. It is a matter which has not been clarified and that is the basis of concern. I state quite emphatically, knowing it is the view of Mr Malcolm Fraser and the Opposition, that if there is an agreement between the unions, the Commonwealth and the States on this sort of approach it is to be welcomed, encouraged and facilitated by everyone who has something to do with it. The concern we have, and it is developing, is that Mr Clyde Cameron has unilaterally instituted this course and by unilateral action without consultation has jeopardised what Mr Justice Sweeney put forward as a projected solution which, if it is to work, depends on co-operation. I have a telegram from the national president of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.
– What is his name?
– I will read the telegram. I do not know the background of these disputes.
– We do.
-You assure me time and again that you do and I do not but it is interesting that a telegram should come to this side of the chamber.
– He is a lackey of Rafferty.
– I would have thought that to accuse a comrade unionist of being a lackey of a conservative Minister for Labor was a dreadful accusation to make in union circles. The telegram is signed by J. B. Maher. He said:
As national president of 125,000-
– He holds his meetings in a telephone booth.
– If there is something wrong I am sure that Senator Poyser and Senator Bishop can set me right and make sure that I am not misled by telegrams I receive from national presidents of large unions. The telegram reads:
As national president of 125,000 members Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association desire to advise you of following decision of national council of my association taken October 18: ‘National council calls upon Australian Government and Parliament to defer debate Conciliation and Arbitration Organisations Bill until such time as Federal and State registered organisations have considered the implications of the proposed legislation. Of particular concern to this association is possibility that legislation may be sought to be used contrary to the wishes of its promoters as a cloak for the unauthorised transfer of assest in current membership from one organisation to another.
I do not know whether the substance of that concern can have a justification in the absence of complementary State legislation. I would have thought that in certain circumstances if there is complementary State legislation and if an organisation utilises those provisions it may be able to persuade a State and Commonwealth Registrar to agree to the transfer of assets against which some people within a union may be objecting. I recognise that as being possible under this legislation if complementary legislation is passed by the States. I am not sure that it is the position. My belief is that it is not the position under this legislation without complementary State legislation.
Whatever might be the thoughts we have about a number of clauses of this Bill- in particular about whether the requirement that conditions which the Parliament lays down can by parliamentary enactment be simply declared to be directory and not mandatory has any effect at all, and if it has, what effect it might be- and notwithstanding our concern about a provision in clause 1 1 which gives to the Commission a power to determine what bodies may represent what unionists in proceedings before the Commission; notwithstanding our concern as to the provisions relating to organisations and associated bodies, how they may be amalgamated or integrated and what might be the rights of members who are dissenting in that area; and notwithstanding the concern we might have as to the scope of the validating provisions, we believe in the absence of complementary legislation they cannot work an injustice.
The Bill represents an attempt by the Government to give effect to the Moore v. Doyle case. If 6 months or 12 months later the Moore v. Doyle provisions are not resolved, at least this is one occasion that no matter how much the Government will say it is the Opposition’s fault it cannot point to this debate as an occasion where the fault crystalised or fructified, if that be the correct word. It is obvious that this measure will go through with our support but with our caution that until there is complementary legislation it cannot work. It is a pretty shoddy way to treat Parliament, to introduce legislation and to decline to give any indication of whether the States are agreeing. I indicate at this Committee stage the Opposition’s general concurrence with the clauses on the basis I have indicated.
-One really shudders to think about the qualifications which Senator Greenwood raised after shopping around for a small trade union to object to this legislation. One wonders what the result would be if the Opposition were ever in Government again. If government was ever to be conducted on the basis that after 5 1/2 years of waiting following the Moore v. Doyle case, 3 years of work on this problem and the presentation of a report to the Parliament 3 months ago the Opposition then felt it necessary to shop around for opposition to this legislation in remote and very small corners of the industrial relations scene, we would virtually have no government at all.
– Do you say that we shopped around for Mr Maher ‘s telegram?
– I am sure you did.
– It came as a pleasant surprise to justify an attitude.
– Where better could one shop than with the federal president of the Shop Assistants Union. Not only did the Opposition shop around for Mr Maher’s telegram. Its shopping around also took the form of letters from the Opposition spokesman in the House of Representatives on labour matters. That is why the amendment was proposed by the shadow
Minister, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), in the other place. In that amendment he said, in effect: ‘We needed to be satisfied that a number of unions were happy about the provisions of the Sweeney report. ‘ As to the attitude of the States one wonders about the stand of Senator Greenwood as one who aspires to statesmanship again, about this legislation being desirable and the fact that it is desirable being recognised, for example, in the State of South Australia by the enactment of complementary legislation already. One would think that Senator Greenwood as a constructive and potential Liberal statesman would say to his colleagues in the State industrial sphere: ‘How about doing something about it?’ That would be better than shopping around trying to get State Ministers to send telegrams here in answer to inquiries, saying that they were concerned about certain aspects of the legislation. Earlier in this debate Senator James McClelland properly referred to the notion of co-operative federalism, a term frequently espoused on the Opposition benches. In this debate the Opposition is not in any way co-operative but is rather obstructive in every respect except, one hopes, when it comes to a vote on the legislation.
So I am concerned that in uttering these vague and dire warnings of the dreadful things to come Senator Greenwood will encourage his State colleagues in Queensland and New South Wales, and perhaps in Western Australia- no encouragement is needed in South Australia- to introduce legislation which is complementary to the legislation now before the Senate. Of course, that legislation by its passing in this place may provoke in the State field action which is recognised as being so urgently necessary. Also the passing of the legislation might be an important occasion for the Opposition which has on a number of occasions obstructed legislation in the Senate relating to conciliation and arbitration matters because it does not understand the problems which are involved. It might be an occasion for the honourable member for Wannon, who has a feel for industrial relations which a rabbit might have for ping pong, and Senator Greenwood, who appears to be the spokesman on industrial matters in this chamber, to give some advance consideration to the industrial needs of the industrial relations community and particularly of the employers, whom one might have thought the Opposition represents, if only in a punitive sense, in this chamber.
The doubts and qualifications expressed by the Opposition to this legislation can only be resolved when the legislation is passed. Only then will we see whether those qualifications and doubts are in any way justified. It may be that in 2 years’ time Senator Greenwood can come back to this chamber and say: ‘Look, that legislation has now been to the High Court and the doubt which I expressed in the debate on the legislation as to its constitutional validity has now been resolved against the position adopted by the Labor Party’. I am sure that if I am still here I will look very humble when he comes back to make that pronouncement. But, of course, he will have that pleasure only if the legislation is given the opportunity of being tested in the High Court. He will have the pleasure of saying that we were wrong only if complementary legislation is not enacted as a result of his own failure to persuade his Liberal Party colleagues in the States that this legislation is, as he expressed a minute ago, a desirable piece of legislation which should be proceeded with in order that the many problems associated with the Moore v. Doyle decision can be overcome.
I make those comments because I want to assist Senator Greenwood, if I may, in embarking upon that course in the interests of asserting the authority of the senior House of the National Parliament in the Australian community. It is not only an authority to reject legislation from time to time but also an authority which should be asserted in persuading other legislative bodies in this country that legislation of this kind which is, admittedly, so much in the national interests should be passed and complemented by the States in an exercise of co-operative federalism. The problem is a very important one. I wanted to say more about it, but I am encouraged by the benign expression of Senator Greenwood as he spoke a few moments ago. My only reason for speaking was to encourage Senator Greenwood to convey that benign smile which he gave us in the Senate into constructive channels in urging on his State colleagues the necessity to complement this legislation as quickly as possible and, if necessary, to enable the High Court to deal with the legislation. I am sure that he will do this if he is really concerned about the constitutional validity of the legislation.
– I simply want to say very briefly that I recognise the sorts of reservations which Senator Greenwood has just stated and which he expressed in his speech during the second reading debate. I can only say that the position which he puts can be answered only when the legislation is passed, because at that time we would expect a quick response from the unions, the employers and the State governments in the sense that I will have reported. It may be that one or other of them may say: ‘Well, something more is required ‘. I do not know. I can only say that this legislation in fact was drafted in essence by Mr Justice Sweeney who at this stage would be probably the most competent authority to deal with the legislation. As I said earlier, the working party of the National Labour Advisory Council in the days of the former Government also worked towards the same objectives.
I thank the Senate for the speedy passage of the legislation. I do not know what the position will be in relation to the bond or deed. I put again the position I put earlier. It may be that a State such as my own State would say that in effecting that sort of arrangement with the State branch of a Federal union it would be sufficient in fact simply to apply deregistration procedures. With those remarks, I thank the Senate for its consideration of the legislation.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Bishop) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Crean) announced the Government’s intention of increasing additional payments for children of pensioners and beneficiaries by 50c a week to $5.50 a week, raising supplementary assistance and supplementary allowance, for pensioners and sickness beneficiaries, by $1 a week to $5 a week, and increasing double orphan’s pension by $ 1 a week to $ 1 1 a week. The Treasurer also announced the proposed introduction of a new allowance called handicapped child’s allowance. This allowance will be payable at the rate of $ 10 a week to parents or guardians of physically or mentally handicapped children who are cared for in a family environment. This initiative will, I am sure, meet with wide acclaim. I will be providing further details of the benefit later in my speech.
The purpose of the Bill, which is the third amending Social Services Bill introduced this year, is to give effect to these measures and to some important amendments which were foreshadowed earlier this year. The latter concern changes in the residence qualification for invalid pensions, widows’ pensions and supporting mothers’ benefits, payment of additional amounts for children in the care of Class B widow pensioners, the payment of additional benefit for de facto wives of unemployment and sickness beneficiaries and the repeal of the ‘not deserving’ and ‘character’ provisions of the Act. The provisions of this Bill follow the record increases in the basic rates of pensions, benefits and allowances which were outlined to the Senate on 30 July in my second reading speech on the Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1974.
Honourable senators will recall that the standard rate of pension was increased by $5 a week to $3 1 a week and the individual married rate by $3 a week to $25.75 a week. The new rates were paid on 8 August in the case of age and invalid pensions and on 13 August in the case of widows’ pensions and supporting mothers’ benefits. The increases in unemployment and sickness benefits operated in respect of the benefit week ending on 31 July 1974 and each benefit week thereafter. Had we waited until the Budget sittings of Parliament to make these increases, pensioners and beneficiaries would have had to wait longer than usual for payment at the higher rates. This is because the Budget timetable was put back following the May elections which were forced upon us by the Opposition.
With the increases now proposed single age and invalid pensioners eligible for the standard rate of pension plus supplementary assistance will receive a maximum of $36 a week. Couples eligible for the married rate plus supplementary assistance will receive a maximum of $28.25 a week, individually, or $56.50 a week combined. Single or widowed pensioners, including supporting mothers, who are eligible for supplementary assistance and have, say, 2 children, will receive a maximum of $5 1 a week. This takes into account guardian’s or mother’s allowance at the lower rate of $4 a week. The total amount payable is increased to $53 a week if the pensioner or supporting mother has the custody, care and control of a child under six or an invalid child. I should explain that, in future, supplementary assistance will be paid subject to the principle that the total rent allowance will not exceed the actual rent paid. This principle will extend also to supplementary allowance which is paid to sickness beneficiaries who pay rent and who have received sickness benefit for more than 6 weeks. The Government has decided, however, that no existing payments will be reduced as a result of the operation of this principle.
When delivering the second reading speech on the Social Services Bill (No. 4) 1973, which introduced double orphan’s pension, the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) said that this pension would remove an area of human neglect that should not have been allowed to continue. Double orphan’s pension is paid in respect of a child both of whose parents, or adoptive parents, are dead or where one is dead and the whereabouts of the other are unknown to the claimant. The pension has proved of considerable assistance to people caring for children who, in the circumstances outlined, have permanently lost all contact with their parents. As already indicated it has been decided that it should be increased by $ 1 a week to $ 1 1 a week. There is one matter concerning this pension on which I feel I should comment. State welfare departments make financial assistance available to people caring for children who are under State control. It is my understanding that following the introduction of double orphan’s pension adjustments were made to some of these payments. Double orphan’s pension is akin to child endowment and it was never envisaged by the Australian Government that it should relieve the States of expenditure in this field. I accordingly hope that the States will see fit to reexamine their practices in this regard.
I would now like to give the Senate some details of the Government’s proposals relating to the handicapped child’s allowance. The rate of the allowance will be $10 a week and it will be paid where, because of the nature and severity of the handicap, the child requires constant care and attention in the family home. It will not be subject to any means test and it will not be treated as income in assessing other social service benefits. The allowance is designed specifically to assist parents and guardians who have a handicapped child under 16 years of age requiring constant attention and who, for reasons that all such persons will understand, prefer to provide this attention at home rather than place the child in an institution.
It is recognised that most persons who have a severely handicapped child in the home incur additional expenditure. The allowance will help them to meet the extra costs involved. It may be also used towards the cost of obtaining services that will afford some relief from the stresses that are experienced, especially by the mother, in these situations. This new allowance should be seen in the context of the broad program of education, training and general welfare for handicapped children being developed by the Government. The $10 a week allowance is intended to be supplementary to what is being done under that program.
Parents or guardians who care for a handicapped child at home will be encouraged to take full advantage of the facilities that are being made available under the general welfare program and the child ‘s attendance at a day school or training centre will not affect eligibility for payment of the allowance. The allowance will be paid as an addition to child endowment and will therefore will be available either by cheque at four-weekly intervals, or paid into a bank or similar account each 12 weeks. It is estimated that some 20,000 children will qualify for the allowance and that the annual cost will be approximately $10m. I sincerely hope that the States do not take the same attitude in respect of this benefit as they have in respect of double orphan’s pensions, that is, to reduce or terminate any payments that they may now be making to people who will qualify for the allowance.
As a further measure to assist the handicapped, the Bill also introduces an incentive allowance for disabled people employed in sheltered workshops. This allowance will be paid to all workshop employees who are receiving sheltered employment allowance as an alternative to invalid pension. For some time the Government has been acutely aware of the disincentives and anomalies that occur when a person who is receiving an invalid pension and supplementary assistance enters a sheltered workshop. As soon as he earns more than $1 a week at the workshop, his supplementary assistance must be reduced by the excess amount until it is cancelled when his earnings reach $5 a week. The implications of this are obvious. A significant number of sheltered workshop employees are paid no more than $ 1 a week because voluntary organisations conducting sheltered workshops are disinclined to pay more until the person is able to earn in excess of $5 a week and thus derive some monetary advantage from his earnings.
As well as providing handicapped people with the opportunity to augment their social security benefits, sheltered workshops perform what are perhaps the even more important functions of providing a social environment away from their homes or hostels and preparing handicapped people for employment in outside industry. To encourage more people to enter sheltered employment and to eliminate the disincentive effect that supplementary assistance has on earnings, the incentive allowance of $5 a week will be means test free and will be paid in lieu of supplementary assistance to all those who are receiving sheltered employment allowance. This will mean that eligible sheltered workshop employees will continue to receive an incentive allowance, without reduction, for so long as they retain some entitlement to the sheltered employment allowance.
I now turn to the amendments which were foreshadowed earlier this year. At present, to qualify for an invalid pension a person who becomes permanently incapacitated or blind in Australia must have resided in Australia for a continuous period of 5 years at any time. On the other hand the residence qualification for widow’s pension is immediately satisfied if a woman and her husband were residing permanently in Australia when she became a widow. Permanent incapacity or blindness can be just as unforeseen as widowhood.
Accordingly, it is proposed to abolish the residence requirement for invalid pension where permanent incapacity or blindness occurred in Australia. The only persons who will need to satisfy a period of residence will be those who become permanently incapacitated or blind outside Australia, except during a period of temporary absence. For such persons a period of 10 years continuous residence at any time will continue to be required, as for age pension. As honourable senators may know this period is reduced where a person has lived in Australia for periods aggregating more than 10 years and has had a period of continuous residence of not less than 5 years.
It is also proposed to amend the residence qualifications for widow’s pension and supporting mother’s benefit. Under existing conditions women whose husbands die overseas may qualify for a widow’s pension immediately on their return to Australia if they have resided here for a continuous period of not less than 10 years at any time. However, cases have arisen where Australian women have been widowed on account of desertion or divorce while residing overseas and, upon their return to Australia, have had to wait a period of 5 years before becoming eligible for widow’s pension, notwithstanding that they may have lived in Australia for most of their lives. Similarly, unmarried Australian girls who give birth to a child while residing overseas are required to serve a period of 5 years’ residence in
Australia on their return before qualifying for supporting mother’s benefit. This applies to married women who separate from their husbands while residing overseas.
To be consistent with the residence requirement for de jure widows it is proposed to enable any woman who becomes a widow or a supporting mother as defined in the Social Services Act while residing overseas to be residentially qualified for widow’s pension or supporting mother’s benefit, as appropriate, immediately on her return to Australia providing she has been continuously resident in Australia for not less than 10 years at any time. On passage of this Bill the residence qualification for widow’s pension will be satisfied if a woman and her husband were residing permanently in Australia when she became a ‘widow’. In other cases, 5 years’ continuous residence immediately preceding lodgment of the claim will be required, but this will be waived where the woman became a ‘widow’ overseas if she has lived in Australia for a continuous period of 10 years at any time. Claimants for supporting mother’s benefit will be required to satisfy similar conditions.
We also propose to correct an anomaly concerning the position of class B widow pensioners. Perhaps I should first explain the basic difference between the classes of widows. A woman with a child of her own or a child who entered her care before she became a widow is a class A widow and attracts payment of a mother’s allowance and additional pension for the children. A class B widow is one who has no child of her own or has no child who entered her care before she became a widow and who is not less than 50 years of age. A woman who ceases to be a class A widow because her qualifying child turns sixteen or ceases to be a full time student, may become a class B widow if she is at least 45 years of age at that time.
Class B widows at present receive the same basic pension as class A widows but they do not receive the mother’s allowance nor the additional pension for children. On the other hand an unmarried woman may be granted an age pension at age 60 or an invalid pension and, in addition, receive additional pension for each child in her care, and guardian’s allowance irrespective of whether she is the mother of the children and irrespective of the date the children entered her care. lt is therefore proposed to enable a mother’s allowance and additional pension for children to be payable to class B widows who have the custody, care and control of any child.
Mr Acting Deputy President, one of the more objectionable forms of discrimination in the Social Services Act is the treatment accorded de facto wives of unemployment and sickness beneficiaries. While de facto wives of pensioners are treated for pension purposes in the same way as legal wives if the relationship has existed for not less than 3 years, de facto wives of beneficiaries only attract additional payments if they are accepted as unpaid housekeepers, that is, if they are keeping house for the beneficiary and one or more of his children, provided they are substantially dependent on the beneficiary and not employed by him. In such cases additional benefit equivalent to the amount for a spouse may be paid. It is proposed henceforth that additional benefit be paid in respect of de facto wives of unemployment and sickness beneficiaries on a basis similar to that for de facto wives of pensioners, thus removing an unfair discrimination which now exists. Additional benefit will accordingly be paid if the parties have been living together on a normal domestic basis for not less than 3 years. Where a stable relationship exists, but is of less than 3 years standing, consideration will be given to the payment of special benefit to the de facto wife.
One thing which has inhibited the best kind of administration of the Social Services Act has been the remnants of the infamous ‘poor law’ mentality which remain in the Act. The Act still contains provisions which require that a pension shall not be granted to a person unless he or she is of good character or if he or she is classed as not deserving a pension. These provisions are anachronisms reflecting undesirable moralising attitudes and are contrary to the philosophy of the Government. This Bill repeals them. The Department of Social Security will continue to review the Social Services Act to see whether there are any other provisions of a similar nature which should be eliminated.
The Bill also varies the provisions relating to training and living away from home allowances which are payable to handicapped persons undergoing vocational training as part of their rehabilitation program. This is necessary in order to bring these allowances into line with those payable to trainees under the national employment and training system which was recently introduced by my colleague the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron). Under the NEAT system trainees will receive an amount based on the average adult male weekly award wage, and adjusted quarterly. For an adult trainee this is currently $93.44 a week. Proportionate amounts are payable for part-time trainees and persons under 21 years of age. At present rehabilitees- I mention in passing that this Government is coining not only new legislation but also a new vocabulary- receive a rehabilitation allowance equivalent to the invalid pension rate plus an additional allowance of $8 a week for full-time trainees and $4 a week for part-time trainees. Thus single adult trainees have been receiving a maximum of $39 a week, excluding supplementary assistance. In the case of a married person with 2 children the allowances would amount to $69.50 a week. Continuation of these rates is obviously inequitable.
The May 1 974 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Labour Market Training- the Cochrane Committee- on which the NEAT system is largely based, recognises this anomaly and contains a recommendation that the levels of allowances payable under a labour market training scheme should be applicable to trainees under the Australian Government Rehabilitation Service. The Bill therefore provides for the abolition of rehabilitation and training allowances in their present form and gives authority for the determination of training allowances which can be adjusted quarterly in keeping with those that will be payable under the NEAT scheme. In the few cases where a rehabilitee would be better ofT by remaining on his pension or benefit during training, that is, a married man with a large family, or for other reasons would prefer to do so, provision has been made for him to elect to have his pension or benefit continued during the training period.
– What reasons would they be?
– We will come to that later. Living away from home allowance is currently payable to rehabilitees required to live away from their usual place of residence. The present rates are $ 16 a week for persons with dependants and $10 in other cases. The rate under the NEAT system is 25 per cent of the adult training allowance, to the nearest half dollar, payable to a full-time trainee. The Bill gives authority for a similar rate to be paid to rehabilitees who qualify. The annual cost of these increases will be in the vicinity of $350,000 in a full year and $260,000 in 1974-75.
I should say finally that there are some minor consequential amendments to be made to the Social Services Act as a result of the Government’s decision to abolish broadcast listeners’ and television viewers’ licences. These licences have been available at concessional rates to pensioners who were qualified for Australian
Government ‘fringe’ benefits such as the pensioner medical service providing they were living alone, or with another eligible person or persons, or with another person whose income did not exceed a specified limit. In future no pensioner, or indeed any other member of the community, will be required to pay for the privilege of using his own radio or television set. It is estimated that the cost of the social service proposals in this Bill will be $20m in 1974-75 and $33m in a full year. In accordance with the usual practice the increases provided for pensioners under this Bill will operate from and including the pay-days following royal assent. Increases for unemployment and sickness beneficiaries will, as usual, operate in respect of the benefit week ending on the date of the royal assent and each benefit week thereafter. The provisions relating to the new handicapped child’s allowance will come into operation on 30 December 1 974. This will allow time for the completion of administrative arrangements, including the printing of necessary forms. Mr Acting Deputy President, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I speak on behalf of the Opposition in dealing with this Bill which has been presented so ably by the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). There are many matters upon which 1 could comment, but shortly I will seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage. There are some problems because we have an amendment which was supported by my colleagues in another place and upon which I would not want to call for a division at this stage. There are such things as the matter referred to on page 12 of the Minister’s second reading speech. It is stated on that page that no pensioner, or indeed any other member of the community, will be required to pay for the privilege of using his own radio or television set. This statement overlooks the fact that under the Budget those people who are operating amateur radio will be forced to pay a 100 per cent increase in their licence fees. Things such as this will require comment by members of the Opposition at an appropriate time. Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2 October on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition will vote for the second reading of the Arbitration (Foreign Awards and Agreements) Bill 1 974. There is some concern on the part of the Opposition about the method by which the implementation of this Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards is being carried through. But the Opposition recognises that there is value to Australia in acceding to the Convention. There are several points which I think should be made. The first is that Australia decided in 1969 to accede to the Convention. The decision to accede to the Convention was made by the then Commonwealth Government in consultation with the State governments as there was a general benefit resulting to Australia from Australia adhering to the arrangements of the Convention.
The second point is that the method of accession to the Convention which was then agreed upon was by the implementation of the Convention through State legislation. Pursuant to that general arrangement, a Commonwealth draft of legislation which could be adopted uniformly by the States was sent to the States in, I think, mid- 1971. I am not aware of what events have taken place since mid- 1971, except that from time to time the Commonwealth was seeking information from the States as to how they were progressing with the implementation of the legislation. It was in that condition that I recall the matter rested when there was a change in government at the end of 1972. It is obviousand again I say that I do not know whether any steps have been taken between the Australian and State governments since late 1972 to implement it on a State basis- that the Government has introduced the Commonwealth legislation believing that this is the effective way in which the Convention should be acceded to and the provisions of the Convention made available to citizens of this country.
The Opposition supports the principle of accession. It indicated that when it was in government. But there is a genuine doubt as to whether a Commonwealth legislative enactment is the most efficacious way of proceeding and whether accession to the Convention and the provision of the abilities which this Convention grants will be provided on a sure constitutional basis. I would be interested to know the way in which the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) views the constitutional base upon which the legislation is framed, because it does appear that the opportunity to enforce arbitration agreements or to rely upon awards made in foreign arbitrations is a right which citizens have in the conduct of their litigation within Australia. There is no doubt that in terms of overseas trade and commerce it is unquestionably of advantage to the parties to agreements with importers or exporters of other countries to be able to fix upon an arrangement whereby disputes which might arise between them pursuant to the contractual arrangements which they are making should be determined by arbitration or by an arbitrator appointed in a manner which is agreed upon and to fix clearly so that there can be no equivocation the law which is to apply for the resolution of their disputes. That is unquestionably a facility which is advantaged by the provisions of this Convention.
Having said that, it is equally apparent that if a person is suing in accordance with the law of the country in which he is resident in order to enforce what are his rights under the law of that country, he may be met with an application that would seek to defeat his claim and that is that he should rely upon the provisions of an arbitration agreement to which he has entered. In that sense there is a domestic matter which may have application so as to raise the question whether or not there is a constitutional base for the Commonwealth legislation. In short, we recognise that there are doubts. Probably any advice which any government received as to whether or not the Commonwealth had the power to enact this legislation is advice which would have some element of uncertainty about it until such time as the High Court was called upon to adjudicate. The steps which the Commonwealth has taken are steps which the Opposition will not object to.
There are provisions, however, which might usefully be referred to. The Convention was made in New York in June 1958 and came into force with the requisite number of countries acceding to it in 1959. 1 notice from the AttorneyGeneral’s second reading speech that some 41 countries have acceded to the convention. Information which was secured for me from the Parliamentary Library indicates that some 50 countries had acceded to the convention.
– This has been kicking around for a while.
-The information that came to me was that there were 50 countries as at the end of 1973. I am interested to know that the point is adverted to because I notice that one of the provisions of the legislation enables a certificate to be given by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs which will indicate conclusively whether or not a nation is a Convention country adhering to the Convention. It is highly important naturally that the information should be accurate. The present situation, of course, is that citizens of Australia who enter into agreements which contain arbitration clauses in respect of their overseas transactions do have means of enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, but that is a procedure which varies in Australia from State to State. It is also a procedure which, whether one relies on the general common law or the facilities which various State legislation gives, depends upon fairly complicated and often cumbersome and, therefore, not worthwhile procedures whereby one has to prove the agreement and the making of the award. Frequently it is a matter of concern to persons who sense that they have rights which are being denied because of conduct of the other party and they are not able effectively to enforce the provisions of the agreement to which they have entered.
These are part of the background considerations which make it desirable for Australia to have the facility which this Convention provides and which its implementation in Australia will give to citizens who want to avail themselves of the provisions. The benefits of adhering to the Convention are set out in the explanatory memorandum which accompanied the Bill and I simply state them. The Convention provides a single procedure for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, requires the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral agreements, provides a uniform law throughout Australia with regard to these matters and, by adhering to the Convention Australians will have similar procedural advantages with regard to arbitral awards and agreements in the jurisdictions of other contracting countries. lt is interesting to see the way in which the provisions are carried through. In the first place where proceedings are instituted by a party to an arbitration agreement those proceedings shall be stayed by the other party to the agreement if application is made to a court. The significant factor there is that in ordinary arbitration proceedings under domestic law the court always has a discretion as to whether or not it will stay the proceedings. One result of adherence to the Convention will be that the provisions of the arbitration agreement will be paramount and the court shall give effect to them by ensuring that the proceedings are stayed. The other way in which the Convention may be utilised is where an award has been made by an arbitrator and it is desired to enforce that award as if it were a judgement of a foreign court, and the provisions of the legislation enable that award to be enforced in a court of a State or Territory as if the award had been made in that State of Territory in accordance with the law of that State or Territory.
Leaving aside some of the constitutional questions which may arise with regard to that, it obviously is a facility which is of great advantage if that award can readily be produced in the courts. I would imagine that the real advantage of the legislation is therefore to be found in the provisions which relate to the evidence of awards and arbitration agreements. A duly authenticated original award or a duly certified copy of an award or agreement may be produced in court in circumstances which seem to be straight forward and simple and which are laid down in the legislation. If those provisions are availed of the document is prima facie evidence of what it purports to be. In those circumstances one can imagine that it must be of immense benefit to those who have increasing trading obligations with overseas countries to know that the courts of Australia can give recognition and enforcement to these awards in a relatively simple and straightforward matter. There is little occasion to embark upon an expatiation which simply acknowledges the merit of a provision on which there is generally bipartisan approach. There is some concern, as surely the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) recognises, as to whether this is the best way in the circumstances to proceed with the matter. I have no doubt that experience has shown that it is the most expeditious way. I trust that if it is to be challenged in the future it will prove to be legislation which will be upheld because it is legislation which obviously bestows benefit on those who want to avail themselves of its provision. The Opposition supports it.
– I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Greenwood) for indicating the support of the Opposition for the measure. The principal question he raised is one of the constitutional bases of the legislation. This was considered carefully during his period as Attorney-General of Australia. An opinion was given by the then Solicitor-General, Mr Ellicott, on the question. I think that the opinion has probably been circulated but I will indicate some portions of it to show the approach which was taken. He said:
My opinion is sought on the question whether the Commonwealth Parliament could validly enact a law to implement throughout Australia the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, in the event that Australia acceded to the Convention. In my opinion, the Commonwealth Parliament could enact such a law in the exercise of its power under section 51 (xxix ) of the Constitution to make laws with respect to external affairs. Additional support for such a law, insofar as it related to the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards made in connection with trade and commerce between Australia and other countries would be available under section 5 1 placitum (i)- the power to make laws with respect inter alia to trade and commerce with other countries.
In his rather lengthy opinion he turned to the question of whether it is within the legislative competence of the Commonwealth Parliament to implement this convention, and said:
The areas of inquiry are, I think, limited to 2 powersnamely, section 51 (i) and (xxix)- the trade and commerce and the external affairs powers. Since the kinds of arbitral awards to which the Convention would apply if Australia were to become a party would not be limited to awards arising out of transactions in the course of overseas trade and commerce, it is clear that section 51 (i) would not provide the necessary power and that it is necessary to look to the external affairs power.
He then came to the conclusion that this could be done. In regard to the particular Convention the Solicitor-General expressed the view, if I may put it in a simple fashion, that it was doubtful that it could be done any other way. He said:
If the Commonwealth, notwithstanding its own legislative competence, were able to procure legislation in a satisfactory form from each of the States it may well be that this would bc accepted by other contracting States as a sufficient discharge of its obligation. However, if the obligation of a federal government under the Convention is properly construed, I think other contracting States would be justified in requiring legislation by the federal authority instead of by State authorities where legislative competence exists in the federal authority.
The nature of the clause in the Convention was such as to require the Federal authority to legislate in court, if I may put it in simple terms. The conclusion reached is that it can and that, if it can, it is not a compliance with the Convention to allow it to be done other than by the central legislative authority.
So this is one case where, if that approach is correct, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition may agree that it is desirable in any event that the Australian Parliament exercise its powers, because it seems that to do otherwise may not be fulfilling its international obligations as it should. So that is the basis upon which we are proceeding- not only that there is legislative power to do it but also that it may not have been a fulfilment of the international obligations if we were not to do it.
May I recall the other practical consideration when we look at the matter. I do not have the details with me now, but some of the States went ahead to do something about this. Some introduced legislation inconsistent with it and some just did nothing at all. So if we were going to have satisfactory legislation it seems that this
Parliament has to do it anyway, and that is the reason for it. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I would like to raise a brief point in order to obtain the views and comments of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in relation to it. May I explain briefly the type of circumstance that concerns me and then refer to the clause in the Bill which would appear to cover it? I have had drawn to my attention recently the case of a man from a European country which has been taken over and become one of the communist countries. After that event he had acquired compulsorily from him the property which he owned, which was quite substantial in that country. The property was subject to a mortgage. Recently he has received a number of threatening letters from authorities in that country claiming the amount of the mortgage, some 20 years after he had to flee the country with nothing, his property having been appropriated and he receiving nothing with which he could possibly have paid off the mortgage.
Apparently in relation to the mortgage there were some arbitration terms. The inference is that he had agreed to arbitration, the arbitration had been carried out and he was duly indebted for the amount of the mortgage. I just want to make sure whether, either by statute in a foreign country or by that type of circumstance, the Australian court would be totally free under the provisions of clause 8 sub-clause (5) to hear and determine whether justice in our sense had been fully available to the particular Australian resident or whether one might have a circumstance in which a person finding himself in that position could have enforced against him what could only be described as a rather bodgie type of arbitration, leaving a debt which in any form of justice and equity could not be considered due and payable.
– It seems quite clear that the case Senator Rae mentioned would not come within the scope of this legislation as an enforceable arbitral arrangement. It does not really deal with that matter. The arbitration would have to be agreed to. There does not seem to be anything here which would bring it within the scope of the contemplation of this statute.
– In the original mortgage document, apparently, he agreed to arbitration.
– To give the honourable senator the simple answer, the legislation applies only to enforcement of arbitration arrangements made in this country when they would be regarded as legitimate arbitrations. The kind of thing of which Senator Rae is speaking could in no way be regarded as an arbitration within the contemplation of this kind of legislation. It seems a pretty extraordinary proposition that a person’s property could be expropriated and then some mortage over it could be sought to be enforced against him.
– But I have seen the correspondence. I know it is extraordinary, but it is happening. Naturally he is concerned.
-Presumably, that is a long time after the event. There are a number of clauses here. Clause 8 (5) (c) states:
– That appears to be the best ground of them all, I think.
-Yes. It is really not something that would come within the scope of this legislation at all. Quite clearly, it seems to be outside the scope of this legislation. I think that both Senator Rae and I would be astonished to think that anyone would seek to enforce such a arrangement.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 October on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
-The States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Bill with which we are dealing provides financial assistance to the States in relation to the Aboriginal people of Australia. I make the point that the assistance applies only to the 6 States. In the figures with which we will be dealing in relation to payments we are not concerned with payments for similar purposes in the Territories. The total amount provided in the Schedule to the Bill is $40,790,000. The way in which that money is to be expended among the 6 States is set out in a schedule attached to a statement made by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) which was issued separately from the Bill. It shows that something like half the amounts and, in some cases, more than half the amounts is in respect of housing. The amount has been divided among the States on an historical basis. The break-up is roughly according to the needs of the States and to the numbers of persons in the various States who are Aborigines or are of Aboriginal descent. The amounts involved include amounts in respect to Queensland. I shall come back to that in a moment.
The Opposition entirely supports the granting of funds for this purpose. It entirely supports the emphasis which is given to the need for housing. We do not wish to be understood, by any action we may take or any comment we may make in relation to this matter, to be detracting in any way from the importance of these funds getting out as soon as possible to the purposes for which they are intended. But I think it is important that we see what is being done by the Bill. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) in the Budget Speech referred to the total of $40,790,000 which was to be made available for this purpose. This is referred to in Budget Paper No. 7 at page 74. There, the amount which was to be paid to Queensland for this purpose was $13,552,000. That amount represented approximately onethird of the total amount. Queensland, by the 197 1 census, has 34 per cent of the Aborigines in Australia, other than in the Territories. So, that would have been a proper pro rata division of the funds, having in mind the percentage of Aborigines resident in Queensland who would benefit from this legislation.
However, for reasons which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs made clear in his second reading speech, that amount is now to be cut back by $3. 19m. So Queensland, instead of receiving $13. 5m- in round figures- will receive $ 10.3m. The increase in relation to Queensland is only some $400,000. In the Minister’s own words, that represents an increase related to the unavoidable commitment of the Commonwealth Government to Queensland. The remainder of the money- some $3. 19m- which otherwise would have gone to Queensland, is to be divided among other States. New South Wales will receive an extra $ 1.877m; Victoria will receive an extra $730,000; and South Australia will receive an extra $583,000. None of that amount will go to Western Australia or to Tasmania. The Minister also has said that the Government will make up by other means the amount of $3. 19m for
Aborigines in Queensland so that they will not be disadvantaged as a result of the action taken by the Government. The statement which the Minister made points out that the Government will be able to make payments direct to housing associations. It will make extra payments through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and in other ways will make up this amount for the benefit of the people in Queensland.
I think it is important to see why this action has been taken by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Government and why it is believed that it can be of equal advantage to the Aboriginal people of Queensland to receive the money in this way. The Budget shows that last year there was a shortfall in expenditure through housing associations of some $9m. At an estimates committee meeting the Minister was asked some questions about this shortfall. He pointed to the fact that the housing associations had not developed as rapidly as had been anticipated and that the housing program, through the housing associations, had not been as successful or rapid as the Government had anticipated and, I am quite sure, as all of us would have hoped it would be. But the fact remains that it has not been successful and that the people concerned are in the process of developing a capacity to carry out the speedy development of adequate housing by this means. At an estimates committee meeting neither the Minister nor his officers were able to give any evidence, nor is there any evidence known to me otherwise, which would indicate that the expansion of the housing associations in Queensland in the current year will be sufficiently rapid to ensure that the full funds which will be made available for housing can be properly expended in the coming year to the benefit of Aborigines in Queensland. In fact it would appear that any casual observer objectively viewing the scene in Queensland would arrive at the opinion that it would be desirable at least for this year- then to review the position after this year- to do as much as possible of the work of providing adequate housing through the Queensland Deparment of Aboriginal and Island Affairs and associated departments, which have an experience and an expertise in this field.
I suggest that to take away from the Queensland Government the $3. 19m and say that this will be made up by giving even more to the housing associations, which are at a developing stage, is clearly at this time not in the best interests of the Aboriginal people of Queensland. It is more likely than not to have an adverse effect upon the rate of development of adequate housing for those people. I think that the general background of the problems between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government of Queensland are reasonably well known. I do not propose at this stage to pause for any great debate back and forth as to who is right and who is wrong. We will have an opportunity at another stage when certain legislation -
– lt would be embarrassing for you to do it.
– I do not find it in any way embarrassing. I do not regard it as relevant to debate that matter in detail. What I do regard as relevant to debate and to consider are complaints such as the complaint made by the Cooperative for Aborigines Ltd in a Press statement dated 4 October 1974 of which the heading is Government Failure to Sponsor Aborigine Education in Co-operatives a “Turtle Scandal in Reverse” ‘. The authors state:
The almost total failure of the Federal Government to raise a finger to promote the co-operative movement amongst Aborigines is a public scandal.
While in Opposition, Government members pledged themselves to promote intensively co-operative education Ibr Aborigines, yet once in office, they have comfortably forgotten all about it.
After virtually 2 years in office they have done . . . nothing.
There is a word between the words ‘done’ and- nothing’ which I do not read, but it does indicate some exasperation with the situation. The Press release continues:
This failure can only be described as crime by default, and in its way a ‘turtle scandal in reverse ‘.
Further on the statement continues:
The statement said that the Government “s scandalous indifference was further compounded inside the Australian Co-operative movement itself where the crucial issue of cooperatives for Aborigines was not even on the agenda of the Convention.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business
-Mr Deputy President, notice of motion No. 1 in my name is a motion related to the reappointment of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. Before proceeding further I draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that notice of this motion was given on 9 July 1974 and that subsequent events have made parts of the motion no longer relevant or tenable. I therefore seek leave to amend my motion by the deletion of some words. In paragraph (1)1 seek to delete after the word ‘Committee’ secondly appearing the words forthwith to present its Report (which was agreed to and in the process of being printed at the date of dissolution) and’. So paragraph (1) would read:
That the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, which was functioning immediately prior to the dissolution of the Senate on 1 1 April 1974, be reappointed to enable the Committee to conclude and table the two remaining chapters not at present included in the printed Report.
I pause there to say that the report, which at that time had been printed, was as a result of a special order of the Senate tabled on 1 8 July, and therefore that section of the original motion is no longer relevant. I seek also to omit words from paragraph (4) which reads:
That the Committee present its final Report to the Senate as soon as possible but, in any event, not later than 30 September 1974.
I wish to omit the words ‘but, in any event, not later than 30 September 1974’. That, of course, is not relevant now, the date having passed. For reasons which I will advance shortly, in my view it is no longer possible to specify a particular date in the way in which it would have been possible had the Committee been able to be reestablished in early July. For the benefit of honourable senators I should like to make several points in moving the motion.
– I think that to formalise that, leave should be granted.
– Thank you, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I seek leave.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I also thank the former President of the Senate for his assistance. The history of the Committee is that it was set up with a membership which changed in only 2 ways between its original membership and the membership which would be available today.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Rae, do you intend to move your motion?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You formally move it?
– Yes. I move;
In speaking to the motion I draw attention to the fact that there have been only 2 changes in the membership of those who were appointed to the Committee when it was originally set up and of those who would be available to serve on it today. One was the original Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. He became the President of the Senate and therefore retired from the Committee, and Senator Durack took his place. That was several years ago. Then in May of this year another member of the Committee, Senator Little, failed to regain his seat in the Senate and is no longer available. Otherwise, all of those who have been associated with the Committee, either throughout its period of operation or alternatively, in the case of Senator Durack, for some 3 years of its period of operation, are available. They are the people who participated in the public inquiry which was conducted. They are the people who heard the evidence. They are the people who have unanimously agreed to the report which has been presented.
I think that this Committee showed that it is possible for the committee system to operate, even on a matter which was potentially difficult, in an effective and bipartisan way in presenting a unanimous report. I think it is important that those who heard the evidence and who are familiar with the considerations which have taken place in relation to the Committee’s work should be the people who make the judgments, the decisions and the recommendations which finalise the work of the Committee. I remind the Senate that the chapters which are left to be completed were explained in the report which has been presented. The first chapter relates to certain geological assessments and reporting and stock exchange practice involving a company, Queensland Mines Ltd. Also, there is the drawing together of the recommendations, most of which appear throughout the report at various stages of the case study chapters. These need to be drawn together into a final chapter of recommendations. That work still has to be done.
I can inform the Senate that the chapter on Queensland Mines is in an advanced stage of preparation; it being in, I think, its third redraft stage. When the Committee had to cut off its work to enable it to present the report which it has presented, that chapter had reached the stage where it needed redrafting, and the extremely important work of the checking of the facts right back from initial documents had to be undertaken. As I have mentioned, the chapter on recommendations requires drafting and the drawing together of the recommendations which exist. Part of that work- not all of it- had been done. There is no further evidence to be heard by this Committee. There is no new inquiry to be conducted in any way. There is only the continuation of the task which the existing members of the Committee had undertaken and with which they are all familiar.
I suggest to the Senate that it is appropriate, it is fair, and it is in the best interests of both the Senate and of the people whose interests are affected in one way or another by the report, that those who heard the evidence should make the judgments; in other words that those who were involved throughout the period of the inquiry should be the members of the Committee to complete what is very much a final stage of the Committee’s work. As I have mentioned, I gave notice of the original motion on 9 July. It is unfortunate that pressure of other business has prevented the motion from being dealt with until now.
- Senator, do I understand that you are proposing to take out the date and not put any date in at all?
– I will come to that.
– Even if it is the end of 1 975 or 1 976, in view of the history of the Committee do you not think that it would at least be reasonable to put some finite date in the motion?
– I will come to that. If Senator Murphy has a suggestion I would be quite happy to consider it. I ask Senator Murphy to listen to what I have to say before we take the matter any further.
– Why not take out September and substitute November?
– May I go for a little while and them I will be quite happy to accept any suggestions. The delay in proceeding with this matterand I do not canvass the reasons for it in any way at all- has meant that two of the principal officers who were associated with the work of the Committee are no longer available to assist. I am sure that this would apply to other honourable senators as it applies to me: We have virtually no time that is not already committed between now and the end of the year to be able to engage personally in the work of the Committee which would be involved. Then there are those who have the background history of this matter. There is Dr John Rose whose tremendous assistance and contribution to the Committee is, I think, acknowledged by all members of the Senate. I should like to take the opportunity to pay tribute again to the work which he did for the Committee. He has been keeping himself available to assist in finalising the report but is no longer able to do so. He is due to go overseas, having completed another commitment. He is not available to assist the Committee in the checking, re-writing and preparation of material. There are others who are not available so that it would not be possible with the consistency which I would certainly hope to see- the consistency of those who are familiar with the work of the Committee being applied to the completion of the report- to have anybody having enough time available for several months, until the present sitting finishes, and until people have a little time available early in the new year. For that reason I cut out the date 30 September. It was no longer appropriate and I find it extremely difficult to nominate a specific date upon which it can be completed. However, if the first day of sitting next year was suggested and the Committee was not able to complete the report by then, the matter could be raised in the Senate. I simply draw attention to the fact that whereas at the time I moved the motion, the period from 9 July to 30 September remained as a reasonable assessment for the completion of the drafting work involved and for the Committee to meet and for the printing to take place of the final 2 chapters, I am now not able personally to be as confident as I then felt. Other factors have intervened. Between the time that I moved the motion in July and 1 7 September there was a period when the Parliament was not sitting. I had anticipated that in that time the Committee would be able to proceed with its work. Between now and the end of this session no other time is available. It appears that the only time available will be between the end of this session and the commencement of the next session. I have therefore moved the motion and have made the comments I have made without reference to a specific date. I indicate to Senator Murphy who raised the matter that I would be quite happy if a date was substituted, the first day of sitting next year.
– As Senator Rae has already indicated we are not debating the substance of the report of the Securities and Exchange Committee but merely the reconstitution of the Committee and its constitution. The Government will move an amendment to the motion moved by Senator Rae. The essence of the amendment concerns the tradition which has applied in the Senate over the years and as all senators know, since the Committee was originally constituted there has been a change of government. The Government believes that we ought to recognise that tradition and in accordance with it the Government should have increased representation on the Committee. I want to make it clear from my own personal point of view as an original member of the Committee that despite the long and controversial history of the Committee and its findings I believe that the Committee had a genuine desire to get at the problems of the industry which we set out to investigate. I pay a tribute to Dr Rose who was an essential part of the investigation which took place and also the drawing up of the report.
One should also pay a tribute to the work of Senator Rae who worked hard on the Committee. I think all members of the Committee worked hard but the important feature which everybody recognised is that the securities industry had never been investigated. Very little was known about it. One of the inhibiting factors for the Committee in its initial stages was the lack of knowledge of how the securities industry works. Although this is not the time to delve into the work of the Committee it ought to be said now that there was a combined effort to bring forward to the Senate an objective and impartial report. I believe that this is what we have in the report.
I was unaware that Senator Rae would be moving an amendment to the motion which appears on the notice paper. For the last 12 months or 1 8 months the most controversial feature has been the delay in the tabling of the report. Honourable senators, especially those of us who were here before May, would remember that many questions were asked of Senator Rae about when the report would finally be tabled. I know, as other members of the Committee would know, that it was the intention of the Committee and the officers involved to bring to the Senate a comprehensive report which was not short circuited by the time factor.
In my view that was the principal reason for the delay in the tabling of the report. However, I am concerned now that an amendment should be moved which deletes the time factor. Senator Rae is suggesting that in paragraph (4) of the motion of which he gave notice the date 30 September 1974 should be deleted. I suggest to him that in the interests of the Committee and the Senate we ought to insert a completion date. One of the compelling and convincing parts of his original motion was the specific date on which the report would be brought to the Parliament. There is a limit to the period for which the Senate should be expected to wait for the presentation of the final report. We would be in error if we allowed the presentation date to remain open by approving of the words ‘as soon as possible’. It has already been pointed out by interjection that as soon as possible’ might be 31 December 1979.
– If we are lucky
-Perhaps Senator Murphy is right. We do not want that situation. It was recognised in the original motion that a date should be stated by which the report would be brought to the Senate. I suggest to Senator Rae who, as did the rest of us on the Committee, endeavoured to adopt an impartial and objective approach to its work, that he think seriously about the terms of the amendment that we propose. I move:
Leave out paragraphs (1 ) and (2), insert the following new paragraphs-
In paragraph (3). leave out ‘preparing the final two chapters of, insert ‘finalising’.
In paragraph (4), add ‘but. in any event, not later than 30 November 1974’.
There are 2 essential points to be determined. The first is whether we should change the composition of the Committee in view of the change of government. I think there are very strong arguments based on tradition, which I indicated earlier, to support that contention. On the other hand, I would agree that there are strong arguments to support the retention of the Committee in its original form. It has been suggested that because Senator Wheeldon and I are now Ministers we shall not be on the Committee. I do not really believe that in view of the stage of development that the Committee has reached that is a particularly valid argument. Nevertheless, there are strong arguments to maintain the continuity of the Committee and the Government accepts those arguments. But we have to weigh that against what have been the traditions of parliamentary committees. Without knowing what is the Opposition’s point of view or what is Senator Rae’s point of view to the suggested date of 30 November, I would suggest to the Senate that there ought to be an acceptance of a date when that report should come before the Senate. Those are the 2 essential points to be considered.
But, in particular, in view of the history of this Committee and the widespread publicity that has been associated with it and the widespread criticism of the fact that this final report has never come before the Senate, we would not be doing the Senate a service if we were now to allow a final date to be deleted from the motion which is carried in the Senate. I hope that the Opposition will see the wisdom of maintaining a deadline, as it were, by which this final report should be presented. I would imagine that 30 November gives a reasonable time span, because at the time Senator Rae originally drafted his motion he considered, I think quite rightly, that 30 September was a date by which the report could be finalised. In our amendment we are suggesting that the time be extended by 2 months, and I feel that that is adequate time.
– You are suggesting 5 weeks.
-The date in the amendment is 30 November.
– That is 5 weeks away.
-Originally the date was 30 September, I thought, and we are suggesting that -
– Can I put it this way: My original suggestion was from 9 July to 30 September, which is 2% months. What you are suggesting is 5 weeks. I made the point earlier that during the original suggested period there was a period of parliamentary recess anticipated of something like 6 weeks.
-I would think that the important point, though, is the final date which we determine and the time that we allow for the final preparation of the report. That is why I would have felt that we were extending the period from 30 September to 30 November. Anyway, that is the Government’s position. I would be loath to see the Senate accept an amendment which leaves open the period of time and does not allow for some discipline to be exercised. That sort of discipline was accepted and respected by the Government in the original motion and there was a preparedness on the part of the Opposition to accept that discipline. 1 believe we would be wrong if we were now to reject it. On behalf of the Government I have moved the amendment which has been circulated. I believe that we would be very remiss if we broke the traditions which apply in the Senate concerning the Government membership of these committees. I would draw to the attention of all honourable senators the fact that a precedent would be created which may or may not be right. I doubt whether there has been a proper time to determine the effects of taking such a step tonight in relation to just this one committee. I commend to the Senate the amendment which I have moved on behalf of the Government.
– I believe that the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange should have the right to finish its work. If a vote is to be taken in that regard I suppose our views ought to be known. I am going to vote for the Committee to finish its work, and I will be very happy to support Senator Rae in that position. However, I too would expect him to finish that work as quickly as possible. 1 have run into very severe criticism in the business community in relation to the length of time the Committee has taken to produce its report.
– Stick to the facts.
-That is the fact, for the benefit of Senator Sim; I am just telling him that. The criticism was on 2 levels. It was directed, firstly to the length of time and, secondly, to the fact that some people were singled out to be named, to be criticised, and others were not. However that may be, I am happy to support Senator Rae in the finishing of his work. I hope that it will be carried out as expeditiously as possible and that the Committee will report, as the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) has indicated, as soon as it can. I would not like to feel that the matter was taken out of the hands of Senator Rae in any way by means of the Government’s amendment. On that basis I think, from what I have heard of the debate, I would support Senator Rae ‘s motion.
– I moved the original motion for the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. It was a long time ago. As I recall it, I think it was back some time in 1970. Forgive me if I am not exact on the dates. I think there was a storm of protest from Senator Rae when I suggested that the Committee had been guilty of unconscionable delay, and that was back, I think, in 1971- about 3 years ago. Approximately 6 months after that I protested again, but there is a stage at which one gives up protesting about the delay. The matter went on and I think I kept fairly quiet about it. I will not go into the details except to say that the Committee has taken a very long time. Now we are nearing the end of 1 974 and it is suggested that no time limit be placed on the Committee in presenting its report. I would think that there ought to be some kind of time limit. The words as soon as possible’ have an elastic meaning in the eyes of this Committee. Already the former Chairman of the Committee is suggesting that the report will not be ready before the beginning of the new term in 1975. 1 have got a feeling that we will be very lucky if we see the report by the beginning of 1975.
– What are you worried about?
– I have been wrong on occasions and I may be wrong about this. The inquiry is an extremely important one. It is a great venture into this area. As I informed the Senate today, and as the Senate is aware, the Government is engaged heavily in the work of legislation in this area. Everybody is interested in this legislation. I understand that those in the industry affected want new legislation. The public wants new legislation. In no way can I say that the preparation, the introduction or the passage of legislation should be held up while the Committee considers the legislation.
– I quite agree.
-I think the honourable senator who interjected on the other side is not aware of the representations which have been made to me. My understanding is that even the stock exchanges of Australia have made representations indicating that they want the legislation. My understanding is that it is wanted as soon as possible.
– The honourable senator did not hear my interjection which was to agree with what he just said.
-I thank Senator Durack. Let me say that this is an area which has been heavily considered by the public. The Committee has made an inquiry into this matter. It is intended to introduce legislation this session- if it can be done- in the hope that it will be passed. The former Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rae, is saying that he thinks that the Committee will not be able to finish the report until the beginning of next year. That may be so.
– I have explained why.
– I know Senator Rae has explained why. I am not going to engage in any criticism of the Committee because I do not think that serves any purpose. All I want to say is that the Government intends to press ahead with the preparation of its legislation.
– When is it coming in?
– We cannot afford to wait until the Committee has finally completed its inquiry and reported. It is obviously desirable to have the report but if the report cannot be ready in time- it would be helpful if the report were ready in this sessional period- it cannot be expected that the Government will postpone the legislation. We have an enormous public demand for it.
– Nobody is suggesting that you postpone it.
– If that is understood, I suppose no one can force the Committee to put in its report at any particular time. All we can do is hope that the words ‘as soon as possible’ will not be quite as indefinite as they have been in the past. Whatever the result of this determination by the Senate, I wish the Committee well in its deliberations. I trust they will come forth speedily with a report.
– I should like to briefly sum up in this way. As I said earlier all questions about the time that it will take to produce a report are governed by the fact that for the rest of this session every member of the proposed Committee is committed to sittings of this chamber and other committee work. It is extremely unfortunate that it was not possible for the Committee to be re-established in early July when the motion was moved and the work could have been completed. I make no further comment than that. I make no excuses either as to why I am not able to give any commitment to furnish a report more speedly either in my own behalf or on behalf of other senators.
I believe that we cannot report any more speedily. All members of the Committee have commitments. It is with extreme disappointment that I have to say this. I would have much preferred to have had the whole matter completed long ago. It is with extreme disappointment that I say that I think it would be unreal to give any greater commitment to the Senate than to say the report will be furnished as soon as possible. My idea is that the report will be completed at the beginning of the first sessional period next year using the recess to complete the work. The only comment that I made by way of interjection to Senator Murphy was that I do not believe- and I did not hear anybody else suggest- that this legislation should be held up pending the completion of the report. It is unfortunate that the Committee could not have completed its investigations so that the Minister could have had the benefit of the final report. But that is not the Committee’s fault.
That the amendment (Senator Wriedt’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr President, this Bill expresses a principle which has been passed by the Senate in resolutions on 6 separate occasions- namely, 22 August 1968, 26 November 1968, 22 May 1969, 29 May 1969, 6 May 1971 and 15 November 1973. In addition, Senator Wright introduced a Bill along very similar lines on 8 November 1973 and it passed through all stages in the Senate on 29 November 1973, unanimously. This Bill which has been sent to us from the House of Representatives is only a short Bill with 2 main provisions, clauses 3 and 4, which make provision for the new and permanent parliament house and buildings and associated works to be constructed on Capital Hill and provide that a site be set aside, consisting of Capital Hill and Camp Hill, where no buildings other than those determined by the Parliament may be constructed.
The arguments in favour of the Capital Hill site for the permanent parliament house have been canvassed so well on the previous occasions that I have mentioned earlier that I do not propose to take up the time of the Senate by repeating them. Honourable senators will readily realise that this Bill puts into legislative form the already expressed wish of the Senate, and a speedy passage for the Bill will allow an early start to be made on the planning, and eventual construction of, the new and permanent parliament house. It gives me great pleasure, as a long time supporter of Capital Hill as the site for the new parliament house, to have the honour of bringing this Bill before the Senate. I commend the Bill to the Senate and hope that the Senate will see fit to give it a speedy passage.
– I indicate, firstly, that, as on previous occasions, Opposition senators will have a free vote on this matter. This has always been the custom adopted on both sides of the Senate in relation to this matter. We are indebted to Senator Poyser for being prepared to sponsor his colleague’s Bill in the Senate tonight. It is a matter of regret in some ways that we were not able to proceed with Senator Wright’s Bill in the Senate. It had been passed in the previous Parliament and he had brought it down in this Parliament. Senator Poyser, quite generously, acknowledged that Senator Wright initiated legislation to this effect. I know that Senator Wright would have been delighted to be here tonight to speak to this Bill. In fact, his very good friend and colleague, Senator Wood, received a note from him the other day saying that he hoped that at last he would see some of his dreams come to fruition.
All sorts of various, almost hare-brained, schemes have been suggested for determining the site of the new and permanent parliament house. Senator Wright advocated from very early in the proceedings that the proper way to determine the site of the new and permanent parliament house was by the proper parliamentary process, namely, by a Bill for an Act being passed by both Houses of Parliament. I am delighted that we have moved away from the nonsense we heard about holding joint sittings of the Parliament, joint conventions or joint somethings and about counting heads and dividing the number by 3 or by 2. 1 am delighted that we are now conducting things in the proper parliamentary sense.
I indicate to the Senate that during the Committee stage I will be moving some amendments. In effect, this is what the amendments will be doing: For the benefit of those honourable senators who are familiar with Senator Wright’s original Bill, I state that I will be inviting the Committee to substitute some clauses in his Bill for some in the present Bill. I do this not in any sense of pique or in order to play party politics but because, since reading what might be termed the Johnson-Poyser Bill, if I may use the American expression- it was introduced by Mr Keith Johnson, the honourable member for Burke, was it not?
-Since reading the JohnsonPoyser Bill I have had the quite interesting experience of reading a document entitled: Report by the National Capital Development Commission on the Siting, Planning and Design of the Houses of Parliament, Canberra’. I do not see any date of issue on the report. It came to me under cover of a letter dated 16 October from Mr Tom Uren, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. So I assume that the report would bear a date somewhere about that time. Without wishing to be unduly provocative about the National Capital Development Commission, let me say that I read this report with some keenness. I have always been somewhat suspicious of where the NCDC has tried to place the new and permanent parliament house. The NCDC originally tried to put us down by the waters.
– At the bottom of the lake.
-At the bottom of the lake, and having lost that round it tried to put us on Camp Hill. It lost that round. I do not know how many honourable senators have read this report but I think the 2 key comments are on pages 27 and 29. At the top of page 27 the Commission talks about public access to the summit and says:
It would be possible to design a building on Capital Hill in such a way that members of the public could have free access to a roof viewing platform.
I take no exception to that.
This would be one way in which Griffin’s desire to allow the People access to the highest point could be realised and at the same time allay fears that Parliament had retreated to a remote and dominant position.
I accept that. We all acknowledge that we are in the service of the people and the people should be able to view Canberra from Parliament House. The report goes on, and I think these are very interesting words:
The complex of Parliamentary and other functions could be grouped below this viewing platform.
I underlined the following words in the report as I continued reading it:
Alternatively, the permanent House could be planned as a complex of buildings covering the site more extensively and with a low profile to match the topography and the overall landscape.
At the side there is an illustration. I must say this for the Commission: The illustration is in red, blue and green and even I could follow it. It is interesting to see that the red part- Senate red I take it, and not Government red- is called ‘observation deck, halls, entry’. That is a fair sort of illustration. To the left of it appears ‘executive, chambers’. That is basically what Parliament is about at the moment and I have no exception to that. On the right, occupying the same space in illustrative form only, I admit, is an interesting notation- ‘departments, offices’. Each wing has arrows showing the direction of expansion. That rather shook me as I was reading this report halfway across the Nullarbor last Friday and I thought: ‘Hello, what are these characters up to? They are trying to horn in on our site of Capital Hill’.
Then one comes to pages 28 and 29. 1 do not know whether the NCDC thinks that members of Parliament read only the first pages and not the fine print, but the report contains an interesting page of architectural comparisons. The first is Washington, the second is Ottawa, the third is
Westminster, the fourth is Brasilia, but the fifth is the building group and here the report says:
The design for Canberra need not be monumental. It may be more appropriate to have a group of buildings of deliberately human scale -
I do not know what that means- which invite public involvement and participation. Oxford University is an example of a building group of this kind.
There is a photograph of Oxford University. Right at the bottom in fairly bold print are the words:
The design for the new and permanent Parliament House should respond to the climate and landscape of Australia and to its social forms and procedures rather than copy historical forms and convention from other places.
In other words, the report is saying: ‘Whatever you do, do not put just a Parliament House on Capital Hill. It really ought to be surrounded by the NCDC, Treasury, Department of Trade and the Attorney-General’s Department and all the rest of the bureaucracy’. Now that Parliament House is to go on Capital Hill the Commission wants to get into the act too. I state quite categorically that I am for a monumental type building and I am for Capital Hill for Parliament House. Perhaps it is a funny view to express in Canberra but I have always been quite convinced that if it were not for the fact that Parliament House came to Canberra this area would still be 2 sheep stations and most likely growing wool in a productive sense instead of living off the taxpayers. Therefore I could not think of a better objective for a Parliament House here.
Every time I stay at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne and look out at where our fore-runners in the Senate used to be, I note that they used to delight in the fleshpots of Melbourne across the road and I often wonder why we came to Canberra. I would be much more comfortably housed at the Windsor Hotel walking across to the State Parliament House, but that is beyond us now. There is good football and terrible weather there but, that is all in the past. It is for that and not for any other reason that I think the Bill before us needs to be in a more definitive form. My amendments have just arrived and I ask that they be distributed. I shall talk in more detail about them when we get to the Committee stage. I assure honourable senators that the purpose of these amendments is my belief that Parliament should have control over the whole of the parliamentary zone. The Johnson-Poyser Bill, in effect, is asking for Parliament to assume control over Capital Hill and Camp Hill. I do not believe that is sufficient. I am wedded to the proposal put forward by Senator Wright that it should include not only those parts but also should run down King’s Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue and include the lakeside. Quite frankly, I do not trust a lot of people in life and I am not talking in a party political sense. No matter what government is in power people will get under Parliament’s guard if Parliament is not very watchful of these things. I believe that the 2 Houses of the Parliament should have an oversight and control of whatever buildings are built in what might be termed the parliamentary triangle. To limit this area to Camp Hill and Capital Hill is insufficient for our own interests. I shall return to that aspect later in the Committee stage.
I am delighted that the Bill is before the Parliament. I just forewarned senators- perhaps I am unduly suspicious and I hope not too unkind to the NCDC- that its words on pages 27,28 and 29 of its report fill me with a great deal of suspicion and I would like Camp Hill, Capital Hill and the whole parliamentary triangle put under the control and authority of Parliament beyond all doubt so that one morning- it will not be in my lifetime and I do not think there are any younger than I- Senator Poyser does not wake up at the new and permanent Parliament House and find that this building has been bulldozed down without Parliament’s consent. Whether this building ought to remain is a matter for debate at a future time. I believe that the Parliament has a responsibility to protect the interests of Parliament irrespective of politics and irrespective of personalities. As I said earlier, Canberra is here because Parliament is here and Parliament ought to make certain that it at least controls the parliamentary triangle. I warmly support the second reading of this Bill.
-As honourable senators have indicated, this is a very important matter for this Parliament and the Senate and perhaps a more important matter for the future of the city of Canberra. I believe that it is important that this Senate arrive at a decision based on mature considerations of the practical problems involved in the siting of the new Parliament House, on aesthetic considerations and the visual well-being, if I may call it that, of the future residents of Canberra. There is a history associated with this legislation. There was a previous Senate vote and a recent House of Representatives vote which, I suggest to the Senate, was largely based on the view which the had earlier expressed on the proper site of a parliament house. The Senate is now called on to consider the matter again. I remind honourable senators that it is a different Senate from the Senate which considered the matter last time. It is a very different Senate and there are 1 5 new senators taking part in the vote on this matter. As one of the new senators I felt it my solemn duty to examine both sites which have been suggested for the new Parliament House. I refer to Capital Hill and Camp Hill. I have inspected those sites on 2 occasions, each at 7.30 in the morning, on the last 4 days.
-At 7.30 a.m., in my track suit, I am reminded by Senator Baume. I should indicate some observations which 1 have made in the course of what I regard as my duty as a senator, in the course of those excursions early in the morning. Capital Hill is a pleasant hill shaped like a nubile breast which has been nibbled at by male chauvinist pigs. I refer, of course, to the genus mankind, which has cut all sorts of horrible gouges out of the side of Capital Hill and destroyed its essential symmetry. It is part of the perennial conflict between man and nature that this sort of thing happens. I should say to the Australian Country Party senators that my observations reveal that at this time the whole of Capital Hill is covered with first class strawberry clover. I am sure that members of the Country Party will be interested in that. However, let me come to the fact of this issue and consider the preservation of Capital Hill as a hill.
– Is there any bulldust up there?
-I do not know whether you have been there recently, Senator McLaren, but if you have that is possible. I have also visited Camp Hill, which is a pleasant undulating rise sloping gently down to the limpid waters of Lake Burley Griffin. I have made these observations about the 2 sites, essentially agricultural as they are, because I believe they are vitally relevant to the profound convictions which I hold in regard to this matter. I think we should ask ourselves what sort of building we want as a new parliament house, what it is supposed to symbolise and what it will do in a functional sense. All honourable senators must ask themselves those questions. Surely the answer in general terms is that we want a parliament house which expresses the aspirations of the Australian people but which is at the same time dignified and in harmony with its environment.
I want to turn now to an analysis of what might be called the colline theory of architecture. The word ‘colline’ is taken from the latin word collis’ meaning ‘a hill’. I use that adjective with a latin root because it is not only the colline theory of architecture but it is also a medieval theory of architecture. If one examines the history of architecture from Roman times onwards one finds that the main buildings that have been erected on hills have been castles and churches. Castles have been erected on hills in order basically to protect medieval barons from the people and churches have been erected on hills to make man aspire to the kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, in the last Senate vote which took place on this question last year there were 4 honourable senators at least present in this House who certainly aspired to the kingdom of Heaven with greater vigour than perhaps I do and who voted in favour of the Capital Hill site. One of those honourable senators, admittedly, finished up in Ireland. Perhaps on leaving here he did not attain the kingdom of Heaven but, as any Irishman would tell the Senate, he went very close.
These considerations should not deter honourable senators from changing their minds about the new site of the national Parliament. They should not deter honourable senators from a reconsideration of this matter because, as I said before, this as a new Senate. In erecting a new parliament house we should not use the criteria of medieval barons, of distinguishing ourselves and defending ourselves from the people, nor should be use the criteria of medieval churchmen. We must as honest Australian parliamentarians act with integrity and render under Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God ‘s. I am sure that there is no honourable senator who at this moment in this debate would be prepared to say that, having regard to the performance of this House in the last 3 months, we were anywhere near to erecting a kingdom of God when we created a new parliament.
I ask: What sort of parliament building do we want? Again the question arises: Do we want one which symbolises the aspirations of the people as they are ‘on the level’ of people or do we want one which symbolises the aspirations of politicians? Surely there is no quarrel with the proposition that one cannot make statesmen out of politicians by putting them in a castle or by putting them in a prominent parliament house which dominates the capital city of Australia rather than being sympathetic with it. I remind honourable senators of what happened to the residents of the tower of Babel and many other residents of edifices constructed upon hills in the way in which the symbolic view of Capital Hill is expressed.
– They did not drown in the floods, senator.
– That is true. There were others who did. Is the honourable senator suggesting the lake as a possible site for parliament house? I take it that, from what I have said, honourable senators may now begin to suspect that I am opposed to the Capital Hill site. When I talk about a house of parliament which expresses the aspirations of the Australian people I urge honourable senators not to go back to the medieval view of architecture- to the idea of a building which dominates a city rather than harmonises with it- but to go to a building which is in harmony with both the city in which it exists and with what I respectfully suggest are the true aspirations of the people of Australia.
One might ask, for example, what groups in our community identify with the suggestion of a parliament house erected on a site like Capital Hill. There are numerous groups in our community which might well identify with Camp Hill. Let me give some examples which spring readily to mind: The Outward Bound Movement, the Boy Scouts Association, the Returned Services League, the Association of Manufacturers of Canvas Goods, the Girl Guides, Gay Liberation and the Aboriginal Advancement League. Those 7 groups immediately appear to me to have some logical identification with a site such as Camp Hill. I turn to some practical considerations with which all honourable senators should be concerned. It is quite clear that if a new parliament is to be erected on Capital Hill the construction will be a long and very difficult process. The site of Capital Hill is, by all architectural considerations and by all planning considerations, a very difficult site on which to erect a building. It is a site which is restricted by the very structure of the hill itself, by the roadworks which surround it and so on.
– What do you think the roadworks were put there for? They were put there to stop parliament house being built on Capital Hill.
– I have received considerable advice from my colleagues as to why roads were built around Capital Hill. I appreciate all that advice but the fact is that those roads are there and any architects or planners who have considered the Capital Hill site have all come to the unanimous conclusion that it is a difficult site upon which to erect a building of this kind. If one looks at the other side of the problem one realises that it is a pleasant hill. I put to honourable senators that there is something to be said for a pleasant hill uncontaminated, as it were, by the works of man.
– That is not the plan they have for it. They are going to put all sorts of things on top of it.
– I would certainly support any Bill which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack introduced into this House to stop anything being erected on the site of Capital Hill because I think that, as it relates to the other hills in the city of Canberra, it is much better as a natural object without any human edifice on it at all. The great practical advantage of Camp Hill as against Capital Hill is that a building could be erected on that site relatively quickly. It is a site which relates in physical building terms to the present parliament building. For example, there is no reason why a building should not be built on the Camp Hill site in stages. Certain facilities now provided in the present parliament building could be transferred to the Camp Hill site as the building progressed. A building or buildings could be erected there which related directly to the present parliament building. As the process of building went on the transfer could be made, in a very practical way, from the present Parliament House to the new building. Honourable senators are fully aware of the very grave disabilities we suffer in terms of accommodation. We suffer difficulties in terms of all sorts of physical facilities which just are not properly provided in the present building.
We, as the 1970 decade members of the Senate, have no prospect of ever occupying a building which would be erected on Capital Hill. In saying that I am not predicting any dire election results in the foreseeable future; I am talking about this in terms of man’s longevity. Very few people in this building could ever expect to take part in any deliberations in a parliament building erected on Capital Hill. We should realise as a matter of practical consideration that this present building is a temporary structure. It was erected as a temporary structure. If it is to remain as a permanent structure, it will be a continual source of expenditure as long as it remains here. That cause of expenditure will remain even while a Capital Hill building is being erected. So 1 put it, as a very practical matter, that the Camp Hill site should commend itself to members of the Senate for the very reasons which I have expressed, namely, that it can be the site for a building which is related physically to this building and with which there can be a natural human ebb and flow.
But, talking in the Senate, I would not raise practical matters as the prime consideration. More importantly, we surely should consider the aesthetic considerations which go with both sites which have been suggested. I have made some comments about the theory of architecture which sees it as desirable for buildings to be erected on a hill in some sort of symbolic gesture, as some sort of suggestion of superiority instead of a suggestion of sympathy with other buildings. The great and overwhelming aesthetic and practical disadvantage of the Capital Hill site is simply this: Since this matter was first debated Lake Burley Griffin has been filled. It is now an important feature of the landscape of Canberra. The building in which we are now situated and any building erected on Camp Hill have a natural relationship with Lake Burley Griffin. Any honourable senator who has walked out the front door of this building on a fine, sunny day such as today knows that he can walk with comfort down to the Lake which, as I say, has a natural relationship with this building. This building is erected on a gentle slope which slopes down to the shores of the Lake, there is a very natural relationship between Camp Hill and Lake Burley Griffin.
There is also a relationship between this site, Camp Hill and the other buildings which are either erected or in the course of erection in what is known as the Parliamentary Triangle. There is now a relationship not only of distance but also of scale between this building and the National Library. Parliament House is slightly elevated above the National Library. There is a relationship of scale with the site of the proposed High Court building as the Parliament building is slightly elevated above that site. I put it to the honourable senators that it is very natural that buildings should have a balance, one with the other, and that there should not be an overwhelming emphasis on one building above every other building in the tiers of Government which are represented in the capital city of Australia. Of course, significantly, Camp Hill was the site suggested for the national parliament building by the great architect after whom Lake Burley Griffin is named. In making that suggestion in the early days Griffin drew attention to some of the considerations which I have raised in the Senate tonight. He had plans- which, I put it to the Senate, were really plans of the 1920s- for the erection of some great public building on Capital Hill. But one does not have to adopt Griffin’s view of what should be done with Capital Hill if the parliament building remains in this area. As I put to the Senate before, obviously Capital Hill should be left as a hill, relating as it does to the other hills of Canberra. What I am putting on the aesthetic matter and on the scale of buildings is really, by analogy, important for honourable senators opposite who espouse a theory of federalism. What I am putting is that the parliament building should relate to the High Court building and to the other government buildings in a proper way and not in a way which symbolises perhaps the aspirations of Mussolini rather than the aspirations of Gough Whitlam or Bill Snedden.
– What about John Button?
-Or Senator James McClelland.
– What about the aspirations of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies?
-I do not want to enter into a debate with Senator Sir Magnus Cormack about the aspirations of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies.
– He wanted it down at the lakeside.
– Order! Senator Button, I think it would be better if you addressed the Chair.
-Yes, Mr President. Of course, I would say that Sir Robert obviously fulfilled all his aspirations, which is something that is not given to many of us. But I do not think the lakeside is seriously considered any longer as a site for anything but a hotel.
– If we all talk as long as you we will never get the Bill through.
-That might be so. I am also concerned that the Senate should not be in any way in awe of decisions of previous Senates or in awe of decisions of the House of Representatives. After all, we are constantly being told that we are in some way a chamber which should assert its supremacy from time to time. In saying that I am not suggesting that the 2 buildings should be divided in any way. But I put it to the Senate that we should possess the subtle qualities of femininity and have the capacity to change the mind of the Senate. It might appeal to some of my friends on the other side of the chamber if I say that what I am really putting is that we should reject supply of a parliament building in the clouds. So I oppose the Bill introduced by Senator Poyser. I foreshadow an amendment in favour of the Camp Hill site.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (9.19)- I think the Senate should express gratitude to Senator Button for the magnificent advocacy which he has given us for the Camp Hill site. I find complete satisfaction in his expressions of view. Apart altogether from the question of Camp Hill or Capital Hill, I am sure that we are all as one in saying that his choice of expression in relation to Camp Hill was realy superb. I am interested in the second reading speech made by Senator Poyser. I have some reservations about some aspects of it. It is true that this matter was dealt with on 6 occasions. I think it is also fair and true to say that on those 6 occasions I have remained steadfast as an advocate of Camp Hill. Senator Withers commented about having a free vote. I think that on the first 4 occasions I was the only one in the Senate who did not have a free vote because if I had not presented a motion in favour of Camp Hill, as it were in a pro forma manner, we would not have had a motion on which to vote.
I think Senator Button has made a valid point that it is a new Senate. I think there are 1 5 new senators in the Parliament. On the occasion that I forced a vote on this issue, 15 November, believe it or not, my motion attracted 14 votes. If I add those 15 to my 14, theoretically we would thump it in. I suppose that even those who changed their minds on that occasion might change back to Camp Hill. All I can say is that there is great joy in heaven for a sinner that repenteth. I hope some honourable senators who were so adamnat for Capital Hill will now see the light of day and come back to the original Burley Griffin concept. It is true that during the period of the Menzies Government there was the intervention of the lakeside as a site. A very eminent town planner was brought out from England. In a lighter vein, the story is that he got a set of stepladders and climbed onto Parliament House and said: ‘There is the site down there’. The site was to me on the lake side.
– How much did he charge for that?
– I do not know, but it had no validity in the hearts and minds of the parliamentarians of the day, although the concept of his proposition had ingredients which could very properly be transferred to the Camp Hill site. The basic proposition is that a parliament house should be with the people. It should be where the people are and should not be in the heavens. When I think of the Capital Hill site I think of the expression: ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’. It seems to me that it is isolating us from the people. I thought Senator Withers got on to dangerous ground in his advocacy of the Capital Hill site, because of all the other ingredients up there that necessarily go with it. If the new and permanent parliament house is built on Camp Hill the Parliament will be quickly and readily accessible to all its departments and to the people. If the edifice and associated buildings are to be built on Capital Hill, the concept of a Capital Hill site is destroyed even in the minds of those who advocate that site.
I do not wish to dwell on this matter for very long, but to me the points made by Senator Button were true and accurate because there is the essential ingredient of the link between the Camp Hill site and the lake. There is also the essential ingredient that part of the Burley Griffin plan was that the parliament house should be in the Camp Hill area and there was to be another edifice on Capital Hill, as there is now, in the shape of the hill with the circular road and the Australian flag on the hill. It seems to me an extraordinary proposition to take the national parliament away from the area of the people. The Capital Hill site will isolate us, the people’s representatives, up in the air. When I was Leader of the Government in the Senate I advocated the Camp Hill site. Whether I get 14 votes on this occasion because of my advocacy or the couple I needed on a former occasion, I, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, will remain steadfast to the proposition that Camp Hill should be the site for parliament house. If the Camp Hill site is selected the buildings will be erected more quickly. I think that it will be ultimately an attractive parliament house and will be with the people whom we represent in this place.
– Having been a senator for a little bit longer than Senator Button I realise that when the notice paper reaches a certain stage somebody suggests that we have a little fun and indulge ourselves in the fantasy that one of these days we will have a new parliament house. So I was rather touched when Senator Button came to me this afternoon and actually lobbied me. He approached me rather tentatively as though he thought that he might be treading on some cherished illusions. I was rather touched when he expressed some surprise when I told him that as far as the choice of sites was concerned I have always been ‘Camp’ and opposed to presumptuous erections. I said to him- I repeat to the Senate- that I think all members of Parliament should beware of the sins of hubris, which is a Greek word meaning the pride which cometh before a fall. Not every politician falls as quickly as every other politician. Some have more luck than others. One politician whose name is writ large in the history of our country has been mentioned here tonight- Sir Robert
Menzies. I suppose he was a classic example of a politician who got away with hubris. I understand that he was a firm advocate of a parliament house down by the lake. It is said that his advocacy of that site was based on the desire that he should arrive at Parliament House by barge.
– Rowed by the 6 Premiers.
– I thank Senator Withers for that illustration of a practical example of co-operative federalism. I wonder whom he would nominate for the role of cox. Having mentioned the subject of hubris, I think that the same spirit is disclosed in those who want us to have a temple of democracy in the clouds somewhere on Capital Hill where the masses will gaze up to their masters, bow down to them, worship them and perpetuate the old notion of British democracy at its height, of God bless the Queen and all her relations and keep us all in our proper stations.
– Why not put a church there?
-That is a very good suggestion by Senator McAuliffe. I have a feeling that this notion of a building in the clouds has been reinforced by certain ecclesiastical attitudes that could be expressed by the phrase: ‘Nearer my God to Thee’. But as Senator Button pointed out the Senate has changed in composition since we had a lobby for the proposition that the closer we were to God physically the better our deliberations and the wiser our conclusions.
I suggest that in this day and age we must beware of what I could call the Cassius Clay syndrome. The constant suggestion that one is the greatest is something that politicians should try to avoid. Quite seriously, I think that a certain amount of humility is becoming in politicians. It may be said that it comes more naturally to me than it does to our Leader because I suppose I could be said to have more to be humble about.
– You want it on the lake so you can walk across it?
-As a matter of fact, it has been suggested that Kirribilli House is very nicely placed in relation to the Opera House because it enables some people who are constant visitors to the Opera House when they are in Sydney to avoid the rigours of public transport and walk across the water. I seriously suggest to everybody here that we should cultivate certain humility. We should not attempt to indulge in megalomaniacal tendencies that are all too easily developed by the adulation that we get from our supporters. One of the reinforcing elements for this megalomania is to get up there in the clouds. I agree wholeheartedly with the proposition advanced by my wise friend, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, when he makes the suggestion to politicians that they should try to keep their feet on the ground and not to get their heads in the clouds. For that reason I succumb to the lobbying that I have had from my friend Senator Button and eagerly espouse Camp Hill.
– I enter this debate with much the same experience of this matter as Senator Button. I only say to the 2 wise men who have just spoken and who are no doubt somewhat fixed in their views: So far as Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is concerned 1 just want immediately to disabuse his arithmetic and to assure him I am one person who has long felt that there is only one place for the new and permanent parliament house, and that is Capital Hill. But I think that we should look back at the arguments of the leader, if 1 may call him so, or the first follower who has set out in front to try out the ground, Senator Button. His arguments, if I may dignify them in that way, fell into 2 categories. The first might be roughly described as theory, and the second as practice. Senator Button at all times claimed to want to identify with the people. I think that he really identified with small men, small aspirations and small vision when he saw the new and permanent parliament house sitting on some low place on the same line as other buildings.
– Is that Sir Robert Menzies’ view?
– I am not here to represent Sir Robert Menzies. He is now one of my constituents, but I have about 3 million others.
– Did he give you his vote?
– Who knows what would be revealed but for the secrecy of the ballot? If Senator Button wants the new and permanent parliament house to be situated so low, there is an excellent site for him, and that is the airport which, because of fogs, is obviously unsatisfactory as an airport in every way throughout most periods of the year. He can be assured that the site could be much better used for a new and permanent parliament house. It obviously is of no use whatsoever as an airport. He comes before us with the idea that we must not have a mediaeval view. Why should we have a mediaeval view? What has this matter got to do with a mediaeval view? The fact that we put the new and permanent parliament house on a high spot, out of fog, and enable it to be seen and used by people is, I think, useful in itself.
When Senator Button suggests that on other occasions the Parliament should assert its superiority at various times it is clear that he does not believe in this idea of identity with the people. It comes to him only when it suits him. I suggest to the Senate that a new building does not dominate the city because it is the highest building in it. This is not a city of so many high hills. If you are going to do that and you put the new and permanent parliament house where the towers are being erected on Black Mountain you might have a point. The new and permanent parliament house should be put on an elevation which is clearly one which can be viewed in the city but not one which dominates it or is separated from the people. It is suggested that in a city like Canberra a parliament house situated on this spot is somewhat closeted with the people and close to the people. In fact, Canberra has a sense of isolation in itself, and it will not make the slightest difference so far as that is concerned, whether the new and permanent parliament house is put on one hill or another.
I can only say that it has always seemed to me that to start putting quickly, as Senator Button said, a parliament house on Camp Hill is to create an outhouse for the existing parliamentary building. It will not create a building which in its own sense and its own features will be a matter cf pride for the Australian people. So 1 reject the so-called theoretical argument that somehow the aspirations of the people would be ignored by having a building on a fairly high and fine position in this city. Nor do I accept the fact that because some roads have been put in and because certain officials have taken certain steps that might make more difficult the siting of the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill, this is anything which ought to restrict this Parliament from doing what it thinks is right and in the best interests of the people.
It seems to me that there is one essential argument. Sure, we want to consider the aspirations of the people. We want to see the people uplifted and to have higher aspirations. We want to improve that aspect. I see nothing inconsistent in having a building, which is their national Parliament, in a prominent position in this city. But surely Parliament, above all things, must assert its dominance over the administration and over the public servants. It must assert what members of Parliament have indicated in debates that I have read. They have indicated a strong preference for the building of the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill.
– You do not achieve that by a building.
-You will not achieve that by a building, but I think that you will go a long way towards achieving that if you make your own decision and are not set aside from that decision by decisions or recommendations or beguiling picture books produced by the National Capital Development Commission in order to try to divert you from that view. We are here to make what we think is the best decision regarding the best spot for the new and permanent parliament house. Surely we are not here to be prejudged or pre-empted by decisions of public servants in the past. In my mind, the top of Capital Hill is the best spot for the new and permanent parliament house. The building ought to be a reasonably clear building that can be seen and appreciated around the city, not one of a cluster of many buildings. For those reasons, amongst others, I think that Capital Hill is the site for the new and permanent parliament house.
– It is with some trepidation that I follow such articulate gentlemen as our legal friends who have spoken in this debate. But I feel that in view of what has been said I should add a few points. One thing that prompted me to speak was the second reading speech of Senator Poyser in which he said that on 6 separate occasions the Senate has voted in favour of Capital Hill. All the arguments have been advanced previously, and I will not go over them; I just go along with them. Really, apart from making some interesting reflections on the document produced by the National Capital Development Commission, Senator Withers said very little. But like Senator Button, I did some investigations into and some readings of previous debates on the siting of the new and permanent parliament house. It seems that 3 considerations have always been advanced. There was the practical considerationwhether it is more difficult to build the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill or on Camp Hill. There is probably not much difference, although some people suggest that it would be a little more difficult to build on Capital Hill.
The second consideration was the aesthetic consideration. 1 suggest that in this debate only Senator Button has referred to that consideration. Two groups of witnesses came along to the inquiries that were held. One group was the architects and the other group was the politicians. In the inquiries only the architects advanced the aesthetic consideration but a third factor has become obvious tonight. It was pointed out by Senator Button and Senator James McClelland, and it was again pointed out by Senator Missen. This is the psychological factor. One needs to look at the submissions by the architects- the socalled experts- and the submissions by the politicians which were made to those inquiries. The submissions by the architects were concerned with aesthetics and practical considerations of the building. The submissions by the politicians contained this psychological factor that we must dominate. One honourable senator who is not present tonight- I will not name him- made a submission to an inquiry saying: ‘I favour Capital Hill’.
It was said that Parliament should dominate the Public Service and that it was inconceiveable that anybody should dominate Parliament. That line of thinking was reflected in all the submissions. Senator Missen said tonight that the important thing is that we must not be dominated by other people, we must dominate them. Senator James McClelland wisely interjected and pointed out that you do not do that by setting a building on a hill like a castle or a church, standing over everybody, dominating people. This is a democracy. If we had a monarchy or a dictatorship such as that of Mussolini, undoubtedly it would be suitable to have a mausoleum up on a hill. Senator Button’s arguments about the aesthetic and practical value of Camp Hill impressed me as did Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s points. I think we have to be wary of putting a building on a hill. It would be very difficult to add to in the future, as undoubtedly will be necessary. Canberra is remote enough from the rest of the country as it is. It is tremendously remote. The public servants who live here are remote from the rest of the community and their problems. It would be a great mistake to have us and our advisers stuck up there, in an even more remote position. For aesthetic, practical and psychological reasons the new and permanent Parliament House should go on Camp Hill where Burley Griffin wanted it.
-As has been pointed out, this issue has been thrashed out on a number of occasions. It has been rather interesting to hear the discussion. Senator Button dealt with the architectural features. I have been associated with town planning for many years. Because I brought in a town plan for the city of Mackay town planning legislation was introduced.
– You have had plenty of practical experience. You built Mackay.
– That is right. The first town planning legislation in Australia came about because of Mackay. It brought about the introduction of town planning legislation in Australia. Throughout the years I have been very interested in town planning and architecture. Over the years I searched for the best people in town planning and in that way I met a very eminent town planner, the late Dr Karl Langer, who lived in Brisbane. Senator McAuliffe would remember his name. He escaped from Vienna at the time of the Nazi occupation and that is the only reason we got the services of such an eminent town planner in Australia. The late Mr Charles Chuter, who was head of the Local Government Department in Queensland, said that Dr Karl Langer’s misfortune was our great fortune. Some years ago a parliamentary committee inquired into the siting of the new and permanent parliament house and brought in a report. Dr Karl Langer came down to Canberra during that inquiry. Senator Button said that he has been up on Capital Hill to look at the proposed site. Whilst Dr Langer was here he walked up Capital Hill, examined the site and came to the definite conclusion that that was the place on which to build the new and permanent parliament house.
References have been made to dominance. It is not a matter of dominating from a democratic point of view. It is a matter of standing out as the House of Parliament. Dr Langer pointed out to me that the central feature of the city of Canberra is that it is a parliamentary city. When people come into Canberra they say: ‘Where is Parliament House?’ Therefore it should have an eminence so that people may readily be able to say: ‘That is Parliament House’. On my first visit to Canberra I came with a party in a car. We raced from building to building. I was always keen on the political scene and I thought I would know Parliament House when I saw it but there seemed to be so many buildings of the squat type. Unexpectedly we arrived at Parliament House.
– And you have been here ever since.
– This was not when I entered Parliament. I was on a visit. I was indicating that the present building has no eminence. Dr Langer’s suggestion was that it should be on an eminence so that when people came to Canberra they would recognise it immediately by its architecture and position. Senator Button spoke about different types of architecture. We should remember that the architecture which stands the test of time is that with simplicity of design and the right proportions. Those are the 2 cardinal principles in good architecture and they will never go out of date. If we were to place a building of such a design on Capital Hill we could not go wrong.
In discussing this question a very prominent member of the National Capital Development Commission said to me: ‘Where would you put the cars that turn up at Parliament House?’ Mr Langer said: ‘You do not take the cars to the top. You leave them at the bottom and build a walkway tunnel in which people can catch a lift to Parliament House.’ He was a world authority. It is as simple as that. These are small problems that can easily be overcome by the right type of thinking. In choosing the site for the new and permanent parliament house we should keep in mind that the whole atmosphere of this place rests with its being a parliamentary city. Therefore everything should merge towards Parliament House, not in the spirit of dominance but simply merging. Senator Button spoke about castles and churches on hills. Does he know that the type of architecture reflected in those structures developed from the wish to carry the sweep of the hill on into the design of the building?
– How would you get a pushbike up there?
– I will get over that. I do not have to go up on a pushbike. I will catch a lift in a tunnel. The more that we know about it the better decision we will arrive at. I have given it a lot of consideration over the years. I have talked with authorities such as Dr Karl Langer and it is quite clear in my mind that Capital Hill is the proper site. If more eminence is required than the hill supplies there is nothing wrong with building a tall structure. There would be nothing wrong in erecting a building tall enough to include accommodation for parliamentarians in its highest section so that at the end of the sitting at night we would just get in a lift and go up to our accommodation. The greater number of storeys the building has, the greater eminence it will achieve.
It requires the very best of thinking to arrive at the best design for our new and permanent parliament house so that when it is built it will reflect simplicity and the right proportions, fitting in with the character of the city. It should be a building of which we can all be proud. Over the years the majority of honourable senators of this chamber has consistently voted for the Capital Hill site, even when honourable members in the other chamber have not thought that that should be the site. Now the people in the other chamber have come around to our way of thinking. I hope that the majority of honourable senators will still think that Capital Hill is the right place for the siting of Parliament House in this city of Canberra so that it might breathe the right atmosphere in an elevated position and with an eminence in the true spirit of the Australian people.
-in reply- I have listened with a great deal of interest to this debate tonight. At one stage I thought we were dealing with the Superior Court Bill when all of the lawyers were using language that we laymen do not understand. Senator John Button gave us a great argument in relation to the history of the situation and told us in Latin, in London cockney and in several other ways why Camp Hill should be the site. He obviously has done little study on the subject. I thought Senator James McClelland knew more about it than he proved to know. I forgive Senator Grimes for his remarks. The position is that if we decide here tonight that the site should be changed once more even the youngest of us- I refer to people such as Senator Button- will be grandfathers before construction is commenced.
Let us have a look at the history of the present Parliament House building. Australia became a federation in 1901. In 1923 the Public Works Committee held an inquiry into Parliament House. If one looks at the history of that inquiry one finds that Burley Griffin gave very important evidence which indicates how silly and stupid the members of Parliament were on that occasion. He operated on the basis that we should at that time build a permanent Parliament House, and had his proposal been accepted we would have had a permanent Parliament House at a cost of £250,000.
– On Camp Hill.
-On Camp Hill; that is correct. Senator Button would have been delighted with the fact that Burley Griffin proposed to put a museum on Capital Hill. All of his old history books could have gone in there and he could have jogged up there every morning and read to his great delight all of the Latin and Shakespeare that he could get hold of. So, had Burley Griffin ‘s proposal been accepted, we would have had a big museum on Capital Hill. Senator Grimes probably would have been happy about that as well.
– Among the bones.
– That is right. If, after debating this matter on 6 previous occasions, we change our minds again tonight, our grandchildren will be taking part in the same sorts of debates in this Parliament year after year, Parliament after Parliament, and the present building will be falling down around their ears. There was one famous occasion on which Senator Cavanagh and I were sharing an office in the present building. Every time it rained the roof leaked and we had to put on our raincoats when we sat at our desks. After a while it got a little bit too much for Senator Cavanagh and he mentioned the fact to the then President, Senator Sir Alister McMullen. He got up in the Senate and said to the President: ‘We are delighted that the roof of our office has been fixed; they have given us 2 plastic buckets’. That is exactly what they did in our old accommodation, and the position is not much better now.
– What happened when the bucket filled?
– The bucket dropped a little later and the roof was mended. But in all seriousness, in the 8 years that I have spent in this place we have been arguing about the site of Parliament House. We have been arguing about the urgency of building a permanent parliament house. The arguments have gone backwards and forwards from House to House until at last both Houses were completely in agreement. Then it was suggested that because we have 15 new senators, the 1 5 new senators might not like what we propose to do. But if the matter is not resolved during this Parliament we might have 15 new senators again next time and the Senate might change its mind. The practicalities of this operation are that we have to have a new Parliament House so that our grandchildren can come and see it. I know that I will not be here when it is completed because I will be retiring in 2 years time, and I will not live long enough to see it being opened.
– You still want to have the original mistake.
– The mistake will be if the building is put on Camp Hill, as I will explain in a moment. Senator Grimes mentioned the fact that the Capital Hill site leaves no room for expansion. If the honourable senator did his homework he would find out that the Capital Hill site has a much bigger area than the Camp Hill site. Senator Button spoke of the historical aspects and the aesthetic beauties of the Camp Hill area. He knows that if the Camp Hill site is chosen the present building will have to be destroyedbulldozed down- and so will East Block and West Block. If the present building is allowed to remain we will have an historical building which can be used for convention work. With a little money spent on it it can be converted so that it can be used for conventions. If the new Parliament House is built on Capital Hill we will have the situation of it being positioned where it was always meant to be.
I come now to the proposition that the new Parliament House could be built by means of a staged program; we could start building on Camp Hill and build a little bit more at a time. The Melbourne Parliament House had a staged program. The first stage was built 100 years ago. The second stage is being commenced this year. If the new Parliament House is built on a staged program it will take 50 years at least to complete.
– You will be able to do it by using the unemployed.
-It could be done by that means when the honourable senator’s party becomes the government again. I appeal to the Senate to bring the matter to a vote tonight. We have only 30 minutes left in the debate. I want to see the matter finalised so that planning can go ahead. I have some reservations about the amendments that are proposed, although I have some sympathy as regards what Senator Withers has said in relation to this matter. I also am not very trusting as far as the National Capital Development Commission is concerned. I shall not be supporting the amendments because I believe they provide for a further delay in our reaching our final goal of having a new and permanent parliament house. However, I think that at some future stage there will have to be some legislation to curb the activities of any organisation which may have the power to move into this area and build a lot of office blocks on it. As I understand it, an interdepartmental committee report has been prepared in relation to the powers of the Public Works Committee being extended over some of the statutory authorities. I believe that that is a decision which eventually will be taken by this Parliament. If that happens organisations such as the NCDC will come within the ambit of the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. If this becomes the case it would be within the power of the Committee of this Parliament to ensure that there is no ravage or rape of the area in front of Parliament House. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I have had circulated the amendment which, during my speech in the second reading debate, I mentioned I would be moving at the Committee stage. The amendment still favours the Capital Hill site and it dennes in precise terms what ought to be in the parliamentary zone. That is the basis of the amendment. I put it to honourable senators that whether this amendment ought to be carried or lost has nothing whatever to do with whether the site of the new parliament house should be Camp Hill or Capital Hill. That decision ought to come as a result, perhaps, of a later amendment. Whether or not this amendment is carried one assumes that some honourable senator will move an amendment either to the Bill as amended or to the original Bill, to strike out the words ‘Capital Hill’ and insert the words ‘Camp Hill’. That is where that argument should lie- in relation to the amendment. The amendment I am putting, with respect Mr Chairman, concerns whether or not we ought to be more definitive as to the area which should reside within the parliamentary zone. I gave arguments concerning that in the debate on the second reading.
It has been put to me by some of my colleagues on both sides of the chamber that perhaps we ought not indulge in amending the Bill because if the Bill were amended either in this form or another form then that amendment would have to go back by message to the House of Representatives. It might sit on the bottom of the notice paper until the Parliament is prorogued. Alternatively it might not be disposed of within a reasonable time. I think the same argument can be put in reply to my proposal for an amendment as would be put to those who would wish to insert the words ‘Camp Hill’ instead of “Capital Hill ‘, That is that it is better to have a better Bill than to have a not so good Bill. I imagine the Camp Hill addicts would argue, as I am now arguing, that it is better not to have a Bill at all than to have a bad Bill. Therefore, it is worth taking the risk. I do not say ‘bad’ in an offensive sense.
I believe that we need to be very careful because once this Bill is passed, even if it is passed in its original form, it will most probably be the last opportunity the Parliament will have to pass an opinion on this matter. It will be very difficult in the future if we make a mistake at this stage for a private member to bring in an amending
Bill. It is for those quite simple reasons that I promote the amendment. The amendment basically only extends the area over which the Parliament ought to exercise control. The Bill, as presented by Senator Poyser, extends control in a fairly simple way over Camp Hill and Capital Hill. The purpose of my amendment is to extend control over the whole of what is generally termed the Parliamentary Triangle’, which will take the area down the 2 avenues to the lakeside.
– I think the best way to approach this matter would be to take the amendment of Senator Button first, which is to delete the words Capital Hill’ from the Bill and substitute the words ‘Camp Hill’. There being no objections, that course of action will be followed.
– I am grateful to the Chair for the guidance on this matter. I have an amendment to clause 3 which reads:
The new and permanent Parliament house and buildings and works associated therewith proposed to bc constructed after the commencement of this Act shall be constructed upon Capital Hill.
The amendment I wish to move relates only to that clause. I move:
In clause 3 delete ‘Capital Hill’ and insert ‘Camp Hill’.
I do not seek to amend clause 4 of the Bill.
– That is clause 4.
-No, I am looking at clause 3. 1 do not seek to amend clause 4 because I adopt the view- which I believe to be the correct view- that if my amendment were to be acceded to, no buildings should be erected on Capital Hill. I do not wish to advance any further arguments in relation to clause 3 other than those which were advanced by various members of the Senate in the debate on the second reading. I simply say that for aesthetic grounds, practical reasons and reasons which vitally concern this building in its relationship with any future parliament which is to be built the site should be Camp Hill. The words ‘Capital Hill’ should accordingly be deleted for the reasons advanced in the course of the second reading debate.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) ( 10.5)- I think that honourable senators at least should be informed of some matters that have come to my knowledge in the last 6 months. Senator Button has treated us to a series of arguments which give his reasons why Camp Hill should be selected as a site for a new and permanent Parliament House. He based his arguments upon aesthetic reasons. I merely put this point of view because it is inherent in the plan which was circulated last year by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) that this House should be demolished in order to provide a parliament sited on Camp Hill.
Last year 2 gentlemen from abroad called upon me and I entertained them in a suitable way, I hope. They turned out to be architects of world fame. One happened to be an architect appointed by the late President J. F. Kennedy to supervise rebuilding, as necessary, in Washington. The second gentleman was an architect appointed by ex-President Nixon in a similar role. In other words, they were on a panel of architects in Washington. These 2 men represented an era of rebuilding in Washington. The object of their call was, firstly, a courtesy one. But in the course of conversation both of them- separately and together- put the point of view that notwithstanding anything that may be said by architects in Australia, or certainly by those who are not architects and who regard this as a pretty glum looking Parliament House, they thought the reverse of that. They said that they thought of all the parliamentary buildings that they knew of in the world that had grace, dignity and quality there was none that exceeded this Parliament House. They thought therefore, that it would be an act of vandalism if any Parliament were to consent to the destruction of this Parliament House.
– What about the plastic buckets?
-In answer to Senator Marriott, I point out that any change in the structure of this Parliament necessitated putting up scaffolding and high beams before one could put a sledgehammer into one wall. It was built, as Senator Button remarked earlier- and as we are all aware- as a temporary Parliament House and not a permanent one. But the interesting observation is that these were men who had been called in by UNESCO to look at and help other countries. On their swing back to the United States they called into Australia. They spent a week here in Canberra. They admired Canberra as a city and thought it was one of the best planned cities they had ever seen in the world. But they repeated before they left never allow this Parliament which you occupy to be pulled down’. I said that it was a jerry-built building. The reply was: ‘So was the White House in Washington’. I merely introduced that note to indicate to honourable senators that if they are making any decisions which relate to a new and permanent Parliament House they should remember that at least 2 very distinguished architects of world renown have said that it would be an act of vandalism to pull down this Parliament House.
– I think the point that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has brought forward is another reason why Capital Hill should be the choice for the new and permanent Parliament House. If it is put on Camp Hill this building will go. I think it should be made clear in the minds of honourable senators before they vote that this amendment would substitute Camp Hill for Capital Hill. I strongly urge honourable senators to continue the support they have always given to the best site which is Capital Hill.
– I would like to speak in support of Senator Button’s amendment. In doing so, I would adopt the argument already put to the Senate by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and, indeed, by Senator Button himself. It is a little difficult to rise to speak in a debate following upon representations that have been made by honourable senators in regard to the calls by world famous architects for the preservation of this building. But it seems to me that this is a decision which has to be made by those of us who are presently members of the Parliament. We have to make the decision on the basis of what we see as being the real future of Parliament House. I am sure that, if we are united on one subject, we are united on the fact that this building is an inadequate parliament house and we must have a new one. The only question before us at the moment is whether the new parliament house ought to go on Camp Hill or Capital Hill.
I would like to refer to just a couple of the arguments that were put by honourable senators during the second reading debate. Firstly, I think that Capital Hill is worthy of preservation in its present form because it is a pleasant aspect of Canberra which is unlikely to be improved by any man made structure. Secondly, I reject the arguments which have been put forward and which suggest that Parliament should dominate Canberra in some way. I agree with the arguments that have been put to the contrary, namely, that Parliament should form part of the city and not dominate it. Finally, I say that there are practical considerations which should interest all of us who are not within 2 years of retirement, or hopefully are not within 2 years of retirement. These considerations include the point that if we opt for a parliament house on Capital Hill it is extremely unlikely that any benefit will be received from it within the lifetime of the youngest of us here. It seems quite clear that if a parliament house is to be built on
Capital Hill it will be many years- probably close to a generation- before Parliament can move into it. So, for a combination of practical, theoretical, and aesthetic reasons, I support Senator Button ‘s amendment.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Button’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator B. R. Milliner)
Question so resolved in the negative.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I wish to move amendments to clauses 3 and 4 and the Schedule. They read as follows:
The plan in the Schedule, with hatching, was as follows)-
Mr Temporary Chairman, I seek leave of the Committee to move my amendments as one amendment. Each is consequential upon the other. I suggest to the Committee that leave be granted for me to move my amendment as one amendment so that a vote can be taken fairly quickly and we can all go home.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr Temporary Chairman, all I want to say is that for the reasons given during the second reading debate I cannot accept these amendments. They would lead to delay and more delay, which would negate the purpose of this debate.
That the amendment (Senator Withers’) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator B. R. Milliner)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Poyser) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
This Bill will give effect to the Government’s proposals to bring up to date repatriation benefits provided for those for whom this country has a continuing responsibility. This is a combined Bill which will authorise changes to the Repatriation Act, the Interim Forces Benefits Act, the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act, the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act, the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act to be retitled the ‘Papua New Guinea (Members of the Forces Benefits) Act’, and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. The last 2 Acts are now administered by me. During this speech I shall be using the term veterans to describe those exservicemen and women who are covered by repatriation legislation.
Most Repatriation pensions and allowances will be increased by this Bill. Free medical and hospital treatment will be made available for all Australian veterans who were interned as prisoners of war. Last year the Government took a decision to provide free medical and hospital treatment for cancer for those veterans who suffered from that disease, provided they had served in a theatre of war. This year we will extend the provision to cover all veterans no matter where they served. The Bill provides for an increase in the addition to service pension on account of children and an increase in the rate of supplementary assistance or, as it is often referred to, ‘rent allowance’. The Bill will place beyond doubt the validity of majority decisions by the determining authorities appointed under the Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act.
Retention of eligibility for repatriation benefits which are available only to residents in Australia and its Territories will be proposed in respect of Australian veterans and their dependants who are resident in Papua New Guinea prior to that country gaining independence, and who continue to reside there. It will be proposed that special appropriation provisions be included in each of the principal Acts to appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue fund the moneys necessary to meet the liability for pensions, allowances and other payments, the rates of which are specified in the legislation. Some improvements will be made to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act and some discrepancies in the Repatriation Act will be corrected.
As well as some further increases in the main pension rates next autumn, it is proposed to introduce some new provisions in the repatriation area at that time. These provisions, which are not included in this Bill, are mentioned at this stage for the information of honourable senators. In the autumn of 1975, the means test on service pensions will be eliminated for all persons aged 70 years or over. A further 25 per cent of disability and dependants’ pensions and allowances, making 50 per cent in all, will be disregarded as income for the means test that will still apply to service pensioners aged 69 years or less. In addition, service pension eligibility will be extended to veterans of other British Commonwealth countries who served during wars or warlike operations in which Australian Forces were engaged. To be eligible to be granted a service pension, such persons must have served in a theatre of war and have had at least 10 years residence in Australia at the time of application for the pension. After this proposal has been adopted we will give consideration to the question of whether it would be practicable to extend service pension eligibility, on the same terms, to members of the armed forces of our other war-time allies.
While not included in this Bill, another improvement to be granted by the Government is in the amount available by way of loan for the re-establishment of ex-national servicemen and former members of the Regular Defence Force. The maximum amount available will be increased by $2,000 to $5,000 for business loans and by $4,000 to $10,000 for agricultural loans. All these changes are further tangible proof that this Government is honouring its undertaking to provide a just and adequate compensation system for Australia’s veterans. The major changes introduced by this Government are in marked contrast to the meagre hand-outs made by the Opposition in the twenty-odd years they occupied the benches on this side of the Senate.
I shall now outline the specific increases proposed in the Bill. Where a rate of payment is referred to it will be for a weekly period unless otherwise stated.
Special Rate (T.& P.I.) Pension
The Bill proposes that this rate, payable to those who, because of service-related incapacity, are incapable of earning other than a negligible percentage of a living wage, will be increased by $4 to $64.10. There will be a further increase of $4 to $68.10 in the autumn when this rate will again be the equivalent of the present minimum wage. Other veterans who will receive these increases are the service-blinded, certain sufferers from tuberculosis and those temporarily totally incapacitated by service-related incapacity. Altogether about 1 8,600 will benefit from this proposal.
Let me remove any misunderstandings honourable senators may have regarding the amount of this pension compared with the minimum wage. The special rate pension is not subject to income tax and, in real terms, has a higher purchasing value than a similar amount earned by way of salary or wages. Even the current special rate of $60.10 is the equivalent of a taxable income, on the present tax scale, of $69. 1 5 a week if earned by a single man. The proposed rate of $64.10 has a taxable equivalent of $74.10 a week or $6 a week more than the minimum wage. In addition, the special rate pensioner has access to some valuable fringe benefits and his dependants also receive pensions. These also add further actual value to the special rate pension.
Intermediate Rate Pension
This rate of pension is paid to nearly 1 ,900 veterans who, because of service-related incapacity, are able to work only part-time or intermittently and, consequently, are unable to earn a living wage. The Bill provides that this rate will be increased by $3.50 to $44.55. An increase of a similar amount is proposed in the autumn of 1975.
General Rate Pension
The Bill provides that this rate of pension, at the maximum 100 per cent level, will be increased by $3 to $25. There will be appropriate increases at other levels based on the degrees of incapacity suffered. This rate also will be increased again by a like amount in the autumn.
About 190,000 veterans receive this rate of pension because they suffer, to varying degrees, from service-related incapacity. Although this group of pensioners may be able to engage in employment, and most of them do so, many find that because of their disabilities their earning powers are restricted.
The Government has undertaken to raise this rate, at the 100 per cent level, to 50 per cent of the minimum wage. After the autumn increase it will have reached 41 per cent of the current minimum wage compared with 27 per cent when the Government took up office. We had a long way to go; we have made appreciable progress towards achieving our goal and we shall continue until that goal has been reached.
Dependants of Deceased Veterans
All honourable senators will be aware that the rate of pension paid to war widows and defence widows was increased by an unprecedented $5 to $31 as from 1 August 1974. No further increase in this pension rate is proposed in the Bill but this rate will, of course, be reviewed in the autumn of 1975. There will be an increase in the rate of domestic allowance paid to 98 per cent of these widows and I will give details of this increase in a moment.
Increases are now proposed in the rates of pensions payable to the children of veterans who died from service-related causes. It is proposed to increase by $1.20 to $10.45 the pension payable to each such child who is in the care of its mother. Where the child has neither mother nor father, the rate will be increased by $2.40 to $20.90.
The Bill proposes that the attendants allowance which, as the name signifies, is payable to a veteran who requires an attendant to help him in his normal daily personal activities, will be increased by $2.90 to $24.90 or by $1.70 to $14.70, depending upon the degree of need for an attendant.
For any who, due to war or defence service, have suffered the amputation of a limb or limbs and/or the loss of an eye, an amount additional to the pension is payable. The Bill provides for an increase of about 13 per cent in these amounts. Depending upon the degree of incapacity resulting from the amputation, the increases will range from 30 cents to $1.90 and the new rates from $2.55 to $16.60.
Other allowances and benefits will be increased but these will not require amendment to the Repatriation Act. In most instances they will be authorised by regulations. For the benefit of honourable senators I shall briefly list these improvements.
The domestic allowance, payable in addition to pension to about 98 per cent of all war widows and defence widows, will be increased by $2.50 to $12. This allowance is paid to a widow who has a dependent child or children, including fulltime students, a widow who is over the age of 50 years, or one who is unemployable.
The hourly rate of allowance paid to a person who suffers loss of earnings because he is required to attend for authorised purposes, including attendance at an appeal tribunal, will be increased.
The allowances paid under the soldiers’ children education scheme to students undertaking secondary education, or industrial or agricultural training, will be increased by about 13 per cent. The increases will range from 45c to $2.25 and the new rates from $3.70 to $ 1 8.80 depending on the child ‘s age and whether it is necessary to live away from home to undertake study. Overall, about 4,500 children are involved.
Recreation transport allowance, payable to some 3,200 very seriously incapacitated veterans, will be increased by $2 a month to $18 a month or by $4 to S36 a month depending upon the restriction on mobility. Those veterans who have been issued with gift motor cars do not receive this allowance. Instead they receive an annual grant towards the upkeep of their cars. That grant will be increased by $48 to $342 a year. Where the body of a deceased veteran who has died in a hospital to which his admission has been authorised, is returned to his home town for burial, the Department will in future meet the full costs involved. At present assistance for this purpose is limited to $30.
The 1974-75 cost of increasing pensions and allowances outlined above is estimated to be $ 15.6m and, in addition, the proposed autumn increases are likely to cost $3.9m. The cost in a full year of both increases is estimated to be $40.6m.
Medical and hospital treatment for any condition will be extended to all veterans who were prisoners of war. About 13,600 will benefit from this proposal. It may be asked why single out prisoners of war. The answer is that, during their incarceration, these people suffered abnormal hardships and privations which could affect their general health and well-being as they get on in years and, for this reason, they are obviously deserving of special consideration.
The extension of repatriation eligibility for treatment of cancer regardless of the area of service is estimated will benefit a further 2,400 veterans. Both these treatment provisions will be introduced by regulations. The cost of both items is expected to be about $3.158m in 1974-75 and $4.830m in a full year.
Service pensions, which are analogous to social security age and invalid pensions, were increased as from 1 August 1974 and the main rates will not be altered again at this time. However, there will be an increase in the addition to pension payable in respect of children in the custody, care and control of the pensioner. The addition in respect of each child will be increased by the Bill by 50c to $5.50.
Supplementary assistance is payable to those service pensioners who are entirely or substantially dependent upon their service pension and who pay rent for accommodation. The Bill proposes that the rate of this allowance be increased by $1 to $5 for a single pensioner or as a combined amount for married couples.
The cost of increases in the service pension areas are $0.27m for 1974-75 and $0.37m for a full year.
I now turn to some matters of a non-Budgetary nature which are also dealt with in this Bill.
Each of the determining authorities authorised by the legislation is comprised of 3 persons. Obviously, in some cases decisions are not unanimous. To remove any doubt as to whether a majority decision is valid, especially in view of the benefit-of-the-doubt clause in the Repatriation Act (section 47), it is considered desirable that clauses be inserted in the appropriate Acts to put the matter beyond question. The Bill does this.
Australians Resident in Papua New Guinea after Independence
Some benefits provided under repatriation legislation are restricted to persons resident in Australia or its Territories. The main benefits included in this category are service pensions and medical treatment for non-service-related incapacity. Many of these people have spent many years in Papua New Guinea and have established their means of livelihood there, and it would seem unjust to deprive them of benefits because of changed circumstances beyond their control. The Government proposes to allow persons resident in Papua New Guinea prior to that country gaining its independence, and who continue to reside there after independence, to be then considered still resident in Australia or its Territories for repatriation purposes. The Bill makes provision accordingly.
Special Appropriation Clause
The Bill makes provision for a special appropriation clause to be inserted in the principal Acts to appropriate automatically from the Consolidated Revenue fund sufficient moneys to cover the payment of all pensions, allowances and other payments, the rates of which are set by legislation and which are a legally committed liability of the Australian Government. Such an arrangement will remove the need to provide funds necessary to pay repatriation pensions and allowances in Supply Bills before the passage of the annual Appropriation Bills.
Better Provisions for Australian Mariners
The Bill provides for amendments to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act to allow a right of appeal to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or an Assessment Appeal Tribunal against an unfavourable decision by a Pensions Committee or the Repatriation Commission on a claim by, or on behalf of, an Australian mariner relating to death or incapacity resulting from a war injury. Medical practitioners reporting upon claims will be required to indicate any doubt, and the nature and extent of that doubt, on matters relating to those claims. These changes will bring the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act more in line with the provisions of the Repatriation Act.
Chairman of the Repatriation Commission
The Bill also makes provision for the person who is appointed as Secretary to the Department of Repatriation and Compensation to also be appointed as Chairman of the Repatriation Commission and to continue as such without contravening certain provisions of the Repatriation Act. A person appointed as Secretary to the Department will not receive additional remuneration for carrying out the duties of Chairman of the Commission.
It is proposed that increased rates and new and improved benefits will be effective from the date on which the Bill receives royal assent. The clause of the Bill which makes provision for the one person to be appointed the Secretary to the
Department and the Chairman of the Commission shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
This Bill covers a fairly wide field of Repatriation activities and, in order to assist honourable senators in their consideration of it, I have had prepared some explanatory notes dealing with each clause of the Bill. Copies of these notes have been made available to all honourable senators.
It is my pleasure to commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Marriott) adjourned.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise on an issue which I think is of vital importance to this Senate and of vital importance to freedom of speech in this country. Freedom of speech is the right of all Australians. It is the fundamental liberty of any citizen who claims the rights of a free people. Politicians as well as other citizens have a right to speak their minds. It is a freedom which is subject, of course, to some regulation, but it is a regulation measured in terms of the consequences which can be adjudicated upon in the courts and not imposed by a censoship dictated by an executive. Individuals are free to speak. It is up to them to assess the consequences of what they say before they speak. It is a freedom which acknowledges that if a citizen is defamed he has a right to restore his reputation by court action. He can reestablish his good name by claiming damages and by an injunction to prevent people saying wrongful things about him. If he succeeds, the damages he recovers are a measure of community opinion as to the harm he has suffered.
In Parliament the freedom to speak one’s mind ought to be absolute. There should be few, if any, restraints. Absolute privilege attaches to words spoken by members of Parliament. If my recollection of the law is correct, qualified privilege attaches to all reports of what is said in Parliament. That means that if one reports honestly what is said one is immune from action. There are always instances which can be demonstrated to establish that rights and freedoms can be misused to achieve objectives opposite to the objectives for which these rights and freedoms are maintained. A classic example is the way in which throughout the world over many years communists have used freedom of speech, freedom of association and all the democratic traditions under which they can work to undermine democracy and liberty and to establish their own dictatorship. Many countries show this. I hope that we are vigilant in this country.
There is one other way in which freedom of speech can be prevented and that is by the use of the procedures of the court to stop freedom of speech, which although it is the truth is hurting. The procedure is the issue of a writ of defamation to stop free speech by those who may be too timid or too apprehensive to continue to say what they are entitled to say because they are intimidated by a writ of defamation. A writ of defamation can be a ruse of those who know that they have no answer to what is being said and who resort to the procedures of the court, in effect, to intimidate those who are the subject of court procedures. It is a well-known tactic of which those who wish to engage in it are well aware. In my State of Victoria just over 20 years ago the issue of a writ by an individual succeeded in stopping a royal commission into corruption. What is a stop writ of defamation? It is a writ which is issued and is not further proceeded with. It may be that it is not intended to be proceeded with.
– We all know this.
– I am interested to hear Senator Wheeldon say ‘We all know this’ and trust therefore that he will agree with the general propositions which I am asserting. After a writ has been issued and before it is discontinued or determined there is a constant plea of sub judice which is able to be used to prevent or limit the freedom of speech of those who want to discuss matters of public interest. It can inhibit discussion in Parliament, in the Press, on television or on radio. It can be a denial of freedom of discussion. This is a matter of complexity and a matter of some delicacy. The right of citizens to protect their reputation is a right of the utmost importance. It is a right which I hope will never be diminished. The defamation writ is a recourse of this character. The ability of a citizen to have upheld his claim that he has been subjected to hatred, ridicule or contempt ought to be upheld by all citizens. I certainly uphold it. But equally important is the ability to have freedom of discussion about matters of public interest.
Tomorrow and on Saturday in the city of Launceston there will be a massive public demonstration to indicate this Government’s disinterest about the affairs and the people of Tasmania. In this Parliament in recent weeks there have been concerted efforts by members of this Opposition to bring home to the Government that it has a responsibility to the State of Tasmania which cannot be disowned simply because it holds all the House of Representatives seats in that State and simply because it feels that, as it holds those seats, nothing further has to be done. I recall that in this chamber on 16 October a motion was moved by Senator Rae in the form of an amendment to a motion for the second reading of a Bill in which it was suggested that Tasmania ought to receive more moneys. That resolution was in these terms: . . The Senate is of the opinion that the proposed provision of grants to the State of Tasmania is inadequate and that the Government should forthwith make provision for further funds to enable Tasmanian people and commercial undertakings to enjoy a shipping transport cost no greater per ton mile than the rail freight rate applying in the other States of Australia.
That proposition was defeated. All the Government senators in this chamber voted against it, and that included every one of the Tasmanian senators representing the Australian Labor Party in this place. In support of the resolution all the senators from Tasmania not acting on behalf of the Labor Party voted in favour of it. That was a decision which ignored the realities of what was happening in the State of Tasmania. I should have adverted to the fact that the only reason why that motion was defeated was that the Tasmanian senators had the support of the solitary independent senator in this place. But the decision ignored the realities of what is happening in Tasmania.
At the present time we have in Tasmania a situation of unparalleled peril which I feel the people of Tasmania themselves do not really appreciate is threatening them. Tasmania is hardest hit by the economic problems confronting this country of any State in the Commonwealth. Unemployment in Tasmania is reaching unprecedented levels. In the textile companies of northern Tasmania there has been a threat to the jobs of thousands of people and already there has been a loss of employment for over 1,000 people. If Repco Auto Parts (Tas) Pty Ltd bearing company should have to close down thousands more people will be out of work. There is a threat to Tasmania which is caused by the present economic conditions, about which this Government seems completely unconcerned.
When one considers that there is not only growing unemployment but also growing inflation, and this Government is doing virtually nothing except making some half-hearted, belated effort to help the subsidising of the cost of freight on the northward route, but not otherwise, one has some appreciation of why Tasmanian people are concerned.
I do not believe that there needs to be a stressing in this chamber of what was very clearly pointed out in the debate on 16 October to which I referred. The meeting which will take place in Launceston on Friday and Saturday will be a demonstration to the people of Tasmania that one of the major parties in this country does care about what is happening to the people of Tasmania.
– You did not care when you were in Government.
-We certainly cared when we were in Government. But for the deception and misrepresentation which is engaged in by members of this present Government they would realise that for an 1 1-year period the costs of freight for Tasmania were almost half what they were in 1958 and were kept that way for approximately 1 1 years. That is a far different proposition from what this Government is doing when before it secures office it makes promises that it will put the Tasmanian freight position on an equality with that which operates between the mainland cities of Australia, and in fact does nothing to aid the position. Indeed, as I recall, on 17 September the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) said that he was not prepared to lift a finger to subsidise the transport situation in Tasmania. Only a matter of some 12 or 13 days later, when the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) went to Tasmania and was faced with the need to make some face saving gesture, he said: ‘We will subsidise the northbound freights’. That is the type of action which the present Government is taking with regard to Tasmania.
Why have I introduced this matter in the context of freedom of speech? Last night a curious statement was made in this chamber by Senator Everett. He said that he took exception to a newspaper advertisement and that he proposed to issue a writ of defamation. I endeavoured to ascertain whether that writ had been issued. As Hobart is having a public holiday today, I imagine that it has not been issued. It is for Senator Everett and the other Tasmanian senators to decide whether they will issue a writ of defamation. I have my views as to whether there is any basis to that proposed writ of defamation. I do not think it is proper- notwithstanding the strength with which I hold those views- to express them in this chamber. But I do say, and this is the point of it, that there are 5 senators from Tasmania who obviously feel affronted by events which took place in this chamber, and I, for my part, believe that a writ should not be used, under the plea of sub judice, as a means of preventing discussion either in this chamber or out of this chamber about this Government’s inadequacies in its treatment of Tasmania.
I raise this point because, if any issue is attempted to be raised in the future when we seek to talk about what this Government is failing to do in Tasmania and someone says that we cannot talk about it because a writ has been issued, I regard that viewpoint as fundamental to the rights and liberties of honourable senators to speak their minds in this place. It ought to be regarded as fundamental that people outside this chamber can speak about Tasmanian Labor senators as they please. If they speak about Tasmanian Labor senators in terms which warrant those senators taking them to court, then that is a right which those senators have. But I do not believe that any tactic of a stop writ ought to be used to inhibit discussion in this Parliament. Accordingly, I have raised this as a matter of public debate.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. It is simply this: Senator Greenwood, by alleging that this is a stop writ, is simply casting a reflection which almost amounts to dishonesty on honourable senators in this chamber. He might have all sorts of theories about what a stop writ involves, but the fact of the matter is that it was announced in this chamber last night by an honourable senator that he intended to issue a writ claiming damages for defamation. It is nothing more than an insult and a slur on the integrity of such an honourable senator for Senator Greenwood then to get up tonight and say that that is a stop writ. Of course, that is an assumption in which Senator Greenwood is entitled to indulge but not to pronounce in this chamber in the way in which he has.
- Senator Greenwood, do you wish to speak to the point of order?
– In response to the point of order I only say that if I said that this was a stop writ then I certainly would be making an assumption and Senator Button might reasonably take offence at my statement. But I certainly say that if it is a stop writ and if it is used for the purpose of stifling or attempting to stifle discussion, in those circumstances it is a matter of the fundamental rights of every honourable senator in this place to ensure that freedom of discussion takes priority. That was the point which I desired to make. I thank the Senate for its indulgence.
- Mr President, in support of the point of order which has been raised by my colleague Senator Button, I invite you to direct your attention to standing order 418 which 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.
With great respect to the attempts by Senator Greenwood to proffer some explanation following the point of order taken by Senator Button, I say that having listened to Senator Greenwood I am convinced in my mind that he has, in fact, by implication, impugned the integrity of honourable senators on this side of the chamber who represent Tasmania. I ask you to rule accordingly.
– I take up the point of order. I take it from a different angle. I will not pursue it if Senator Greenwood has finished and we do not have to put up with this tirade any more. The point of order I raise is: In the tradition of the Senate, when is a matter sub judice? An honourable senator got up and said that he had given instructions to have a writ issued. In the process of law a court will consider the writ. I was impressed by Senator Rae the other day when he came to the defence of Senator Bonner. I maintained that Senator Bonnor should not talk on a matter which was before a court. 1 was impressed by the statement that legal action should not stifle frank statements and justice and that therefore we had a right of discussion. But on this occasion we find that that is not a matter which impinges on this question.
We had a great preamble. We had a lesson from a law textbook, which led to a description of all the dastardly things that could happen if a person used his prerogative and took action to clear his name. It is only at the last minute that we find that this is a matter not of ventilating justice but of using a matter which we are notified is now before the court for the sole purpose of further repeating slander against an honourable senator in this chamber. To all intents and purposes, I think we have notification that this is a matter which is now before the court. It is not right that an honourable senator, under the privilege of this chamber, should try to judge the motives of someone who thinks that he has an action in law to justify what has been said. Mr President, I ask you whether there is validity in the point which has been raised. I also ask you to consider the question whether this matter is sub judice at the present time and should not be mentioned.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of whether this matter is sub judice. By no stretch of the imagination could it conceivably be sub judice unless a writ has been issued.
– That is not correct.
– Where there has simply been a statement of intention then it is a matter in which perhaps one could say that caution should be exercised. But it certainly cannot be categorised as having become sub judice. I do not wish to pursue that aspect any further, but I wish to reiterate that it is my understanding that Senator Greenwood, as he has said, having explained what the principles were which he believed should apply, was referring to the fact that, if it were intended to prevent debate and to place some sort of blanket upon public discussion of the problems of the particular area, then it was a matter which could come within the definition of a stop writ. I did not understand him to be making a positive accusation; I understood him to be raising a problem. I understood that that was the basis on which he raised the matter. If that is so, then the arguments that have been raised are not relevant.
– I uphold the point of order raised by Senator Button. Standing order 418 provides: . . all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
We must not have honourable senators disparaging the motives of other honourable senators. The writ has been described as a stop writ. There is very grave doubt as to whether the writ has been issued at all. I would like Senator Greenwood to take the necessary action to withdraw the imputation of improper motives.
– If any imputation of improper motives was made- I regret, Sir, that as one of the plaintiffs in this writ you should have made that ruling- I would certainly withdraw it. I say that I never made any such imputations.
– I ask Senator Greenwood to withdraw that remark against me personally. I insist on it.
– I have no desire to offend you, Mr President, and I certainly would withdraw any suggestion of offence, but I do not hesitate to say that 5 persons were referred to in the advertisement to which Senator Everett drew attention last night. You, Mr President, along with Senator Everett and the other Tasmanian Labor senators were mentioned. I feel that this is one of the areas in which I am concerned to uphold the right of free speech, which is the right of every senator in this place. The downfall of democracy -
- Mr President, I take a point of order. You asked Senator Greenwood to withdraw an imputation against you. He is canvassing your ruling and is mentioning the fact that you are one of the plaintiffs in this writ, whether or not it has been issued. By imputation he is suggesting that there is something improper in your ruling on a matter in which your are involved. I suggest that he is not withdrawing the imputation against the Chair. He should be asked again unequivocally to withdraw his imputation against you.
– I support the point of order that has been taken. I hope that on reflection Senator Greenwood would accept it. Apart from the issue which he has raised, he did suggest, by his statement following the President’s request that he withdraw, that the President was making his ruling in some partial manner because the President himself was involved in the issue. All of us know that in these matters the President acts on the advice of the Clerk. I think it is grossly unfair to suggest that the President has acted in any way partially. It is quite improper for any senator to suggest that. The only way in which that ought to be done is by a substantive motion. I ask Senator Greenwood to withdraw at once and without equivocation any imputation that the President was partial in his ruling a few moments ago.
– There seems to be a determination on the part of some people speaking from the Government side to make an issue of something which did not exist. Senator Greenwood has stated that the matter to which exception was taken was not what he said. It becomes an issue of fact as to whether he said it. He has not disputed -
– I take a point of order. If Senator Rae, as an expert on the issuing of writs designed to stop comment, wishes to enter this debate he should at least address himself to the argument.
– The honourable senator cannot follow that line.
– If anyone is suggesting that imputations have been made, Senator James McClelland ‘s comment that Senator Rae is an expert in issuing writs to stop people from talking, must be the clearest and most unequivocal imputation of a wrongful motive. I submit that he should be called upon to withdraw.
– The first order of business as far as I am concerned is that I want withdrawn the imputation that was made against my impartiality.
– I have said before, and I say again, that I made no such imputation. Mr President, if you view anything I said as an imputation I would certainly withdraw any intention to make such imputation. I have said that. But I made no such imputation.
– I have ruled on the point of order raised by Senator Button that you made disparaging remarks imputing that honourable senators had improper motives. I would like you to withdraw that also
- Mr President, I made no such disparaging statements. The Hansard record will reveal this. I have no desire at this stage of the night to engage in a disputation with you.
– I take a point of order, Mr President. I suggest, Mr President, that you asked for a withdrawal. You interpreted certain words as a disparaging remark, and now Senator Greenwood is canvassing your ruling. This is the deadliest of sins against the Chair.
-I have asked Senator Greenwood for a withdrawal.
– I was explaining the position.
-You are not to canvass my ruling.
– I made no disparaging statement. As I said, I am not engaging tonight in a disputation, Sir, with you or with the Senate. Therefore, I am prepared to withdraw. But I certainly reserve my rights to refer to the Hansard record and to raise this matter again. I desire to continue my remarks.
– I call Senator Greenwood.
Senator McAuliffe- I raise a point of order. Senator Webster is interjecting while he is not sitting in his right place. He might not know that he is not sitting in his right place, but he is interjecting.
- Senator Webster will either cease interjecting or return to his place.
– I desire to continue my remarks, but I also desire to remind you, Mr President, that Senator James McClelland made the clearest imputation and he has not been called upon to withdraw. I ask you, Sir, if he is to be called upon to withdraw.
– Nobody took a point of order.
– I took the point of order.
– What are the remarks that you objected to?
– I repeated them before, and I repeat them again. Senator James McClelland accused Senator Rae of being an expert in issuing writs to stop people talking. I submit that is a statement which is clearly a wrongful imputation.
– In the interest of order, which does not seem to be an interest which is shared by many senators opposite, I withdraw.
– I feel that the developments of the last few minutes highlight the point that I desire to stress to the Senate. 1 believe that a study of democracy in those countries where it has disappeared will reveal that the sort of intimidation and tactics which have been engaged in by Government senators tonight have been reproduced in the actions of those who have contributed to the downfall of democracy in other countries. Firstly, they decide that they object to what the President says and then they take action which has the effect of stifling and preventing other people from speaking.
- Mr Speaker, that again is an imputation on the integrity of senators because what Senator Greenwood is saying now is that people who take points of order which are upheld by the President of the Senate, as my point of order was, are the sort of people who have brought about the defeat of democracy in other countries. If it can be said that people who take points of order which you, Mr President, uphold are embarking upon a course of conduct which every member of this Parliament is sworn to oppose, that is an imputation on senators, particularly those senators who have taken points of order tonight.
– I do not intend to force this into an issue. I ask all honourable senators to observe the Standing Orders.
-Since I embarked upon this subject I have been subjected to a barrage of interjection, accusation and noise from the Government side. I believe that this is part and parcel of the authoritarian process of shutting up points of view with which one disagrees. We have seen it in this chamber previously. I do not doubt that what we are seeing tonight we will see in the future. In those circumstances I think it is salutary to refer to the matters to which I have adverted in this adjournment debate. I believe that if steps are taken in this chamber or outside this chamber by lawful process or by unlawful process to prevent people from saying what they wish to say, this is something with which the Senate ought to concern itself. I for my part will refer to what the Hansard record shows, and we may be pursuing this matter at some future time. But I certainly feel that it is about time that someone told the Labor Party in this country that it cannot shut up people with whom it disagrees.
-Mr President, I speak for the first time in a debate on the adjournment. I say to Senator Greenwood that I have never heard such a contemptible speech as he uttered tonight, especially the last sentence of it in which the clear inference was made that legal process in the course of being instituted is for the purpose of stopping some political comment. That, Sir, is a lie.
– Order! The Standing Orders provide that the word ‘lie’ cannot be used here. It is against the Standing Orders, and I suggest that you withdraw it.
-The word is withdrawn and I substitute for it ‘complete untruth’. If a first year law student had given the purported lecture on law given by Senator Greenwood tonight I doubt whether he would have got a rough pass. For it to have come from the hps of a former Australian Attorney-General indicates the complete bankruptcy of the Opposition. But what I resent more than anything else is that a former Attorney-General of Australia should deny to persons- in this case 5 members of this Senatethe right to issue legal process.
– In no way did he suggest that.
– You will have your chance to comment on advertisements, with which I suggest you are more familiar than most in this chamber, at a later stage and I think you know what I mean by that. It is perfectly clear, Mr President, that the announcement that was made in the Senate last night on behalf of 5 members of this chamber has touched the Opposition very much on the raw.
Opposition Senators- Ha, ha!
-The laugh that comes from a person who is very much involved in this matter, I suggest, indicates that the Opposition realises that that is so. I did not say last night that a writ had been issued.
– You implied it.
– I did not imply it. The Hansard record of what I said is available. The newspapers in Tasmania faithfully reported what I said, and in no case could it be suggested that I implied that a writ had been issued. I said that a decision had been made by 5 senators to issue a writ; I said that instructions for its issue had been given that day. That is one thing. For Senator Greenwood to mouth words about democracy and at the same time deny the right of citizens, be they members of this Parliament or not, to issue a writ if they consider that they have been defamed is, I suggest, a complete inconsistency. I suggest that more important than so-called freedom of speech in this chamber- if what we have listened to for the last half hour is called freedom of speech, I will have to revise my definition of it- is that persons who consider that they have been wronged and who have a case at law to pursue should not be inhibited by such rantin as we have heard tonight from pressing their claims.
It is perfectly obvious that what Senator Greenwood chose to do was to select the statement that I made last night as a vehicle for speaking on the adjournment in relation to Tasmanian affairs. I welcome Senator Greenwood ‘s new found interest in Tasmania. I hope that he enjoys his forthcoming visit to that State. But when one gets on to the merits of the treatment of Tasmania- I have already canvassed that once in this chamber in recent days and 1 will not do it again- I point out that it is a Gilbertian situation that a person from New South Wales- like myself, a newcomer to this national Parliament -is, according to an announcement today, to be the new shadow Minister for the State of Tasmania.
-Who is he?
– I simply state what has been published in the Press. It is Mr Ellicott, MHR.
– He was announced as the representative in the House of Representatives, the spokesman in that chamber, and none of your continuing misrepresentation will change that fact.
– I said that it had been announced today. It was so announced in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ that Mr Ellicott had been appointed the shadow Minister for Tasmania. It is on the front page of the ‘Mercury ‘. I can understand Senator Rae’s consternation at that appointment, because the movement of Senator Rae, who is the chief protagonist in this matter that we are debating, is most significant. From shadow Minister for Education at the time of the last election, we have him emerging shortly afterwards as the shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and I pass no reflection on the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). I do point out that we do not have an Aboriginal population in Tasmania, as so called. I can imagine that Senator Rae was most anxious to get out of that somewhat invidious situation and become shadow Minister for Tasmania in this Parliament, but it was not to be, and New South Wales has obtained another plum in the shadow Ministry.
Because this matter is one that I treat quite seriously, I should like Senator Rae, when he speaks on this matter tonight as I have no doubt he will, to inform the Senate of what knowledge he had of the advertisements that are complained of before he saw them published in the Press, or before they were published in the Press. I do not want to pause to read them, but the wording has a very familiar ring. These advertisements that were published in the 3 newspapers in Tasmania yesterday, as I said when I spoke last night, represent a continuation, in the view of 5 senators, of a campaign of untruths and misrepresentations of a defamatory character. Quite frankly, the 5 senators -
– That is not an imputation against anyone on this side, and not intended to be?
-The 5 senators took that view, and we do not want Senator Greenwood’s judgment as to the basis of the proceedings that have been referred to.
– One would not want you to defy the ruling of the President- that is all; that is what I was inquiring about.
– I do not intend to be diverted by that nonsense. Senator Greenwood said tonight- and this came from a former Australian Attorney-General- that he questioned the basis for the proceedings. Any more impudent intrusion into a private legal case I have never heard. Do not say that Hansard will not record that, Senator Greenwood, because that was noted with clarity even here. He questioned the basis of it. I would think that a former Australian Attorney-General would have known that when a writ has been issued or is about to be issued, one thing that ought not to be said in this chamber under the cloak of privilege is any comment on the merits of the matter.
– What are you doing?
– Who was that?
– We have another champion of democracy, do we, from Victoria? I am challenging the statement that Senator Greenwood uttered tonight, the propriety of it, that he questioned the basis of the proceedings. Does Senator Missen suggest that it is proper in view of the situation that he knows exists that in this chamber under privilege utterances should be made as to the basis for legal proceedings?
– I suggest that you are doing that and you are in no position to make that complaint.
– Absolute nonsense. I did not canvass the issues. I did not even read the advertisements yesterday and I do not pause to read them now. I have complained about the contemptible character of Senator Greenwood’s utterances. I have pointed out -
– I rise to a point of order. The word ‘contemptible’ has been used on 2 occasions with respect to my colleague the Honourable Ivor Greenwood. In standing order 418 it is very clearly stated that no senator shall use offensive words against any member of this House or any other House. I call for the retraction of the word ‘contemptible’ in respect of my colleague Senator Greenwood.
- Senator Everett, did you use that word?
– I recall that I used the expression ‘contemptible utterances’. I do not indulge in personalities of the sort purportedly complained of.
– You are famous for it.
-The hollow laughter of Senator Rae does not affect the truth of that statement.
– The word ‘contemptible’ was used about a member of this place by the honourable senator and that is why I call for a retraction and apology for using that word in respect of a senator.
– In the list of objectionable words ‘contemptible’ is included and I ask Senator Everett to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, of course, but I wish to say that I do not believe that I used it in relation to an individual but only in respect of his utterances. That is what I thought I said. If it is thought that I used the word in relation to an individual I of course withdraw it. I summarise what I wish to say simply by repeating that it is perfectly obvious that the statement made in the Senate last night is a matter of some consternation to members of the Opposition. Otherwise why have they raised it? I assure Senator Greenwood that I will not have jack boots trampled on a court writ to which I am a party. Despite all that, I wish him a pleasant trip to Tasmania for the weekend.
– I hope with a few brief remarks that I can put this debate to bed. I wish to refer to what Senator Greenwood said. It has been asserted that he claimed that the writ should not be issued.
– Which writ? Do you mean the one that you issued?
– I rise to a point of order. I want to inquire whether a senator on this side of the chamber can be heard without constant interruption from the Government side, an experience I had this evening. Senator Rae is about to have the same expericence through interjections being made by Government senators. I ask that the Standing Orders be upheld to allow him to be heard in silence.
– I rise to a point of order. In the interests of clarity Senator Rae should be asked when he refers to a writ whether he is referring to a writ issued on this side of the House or to the writ he has issued.
– There is no point of order. I ask honourable senators to cease interjecting and for Senator Rae to continue and to address the Chair.
– I refer to what Senator Greenwood said. He said that the issue of a writ could inhibit discussion in Parliament, in the Press, on television and on radio. He said that it can be a denial of freedom of discussion. He said it was a matter of complexity and delicacy, but what he did go on to say, and this is my point -
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Rae reading from a document that has come from Hansard which will clearly identify the words that Senator Greenwood used, or is he paraphrasing?
- Senator Rae can answer that.
– I will continue to refer to what is, as I understand it, a correct recollection of what was said. I simply say, and Hansard will bear me out, that what Senator Greenwood said is that this is a matter of complexity and delicacy. The right of citizens to protect their reputation is a right of the utmost importance. It is a right which I hope will never be diminished. A defamation writ is recourse of this character, the ability of a citizen to claim that he has been subjected to hatred, ridicule and contempt ought to be upheld by all citizens. I so uphold it. Senator Everett is entirely mistaken if he believes that in any way was Senator Greenwood suggesting that there was not a right to be taken by Senator Everrett or anybody else who wished to take proceedings through the courts and so uphold their rights. I certainly uphold that and intend to continue to do so.
In relation to some of the more scurrilous remarks that seemed to flow around the chamber there has been the appointment of a representative from the House of Representatives to speak on behalf of Tasmania in that chamber; no more and no less. It is one of the misfortunes of Tasmania that it does not have a Liberal representative in the House of Representatives, a misfortune which is becoming more and more manifest as every day goes by. It is something which is being overcome by having someone to speak on our behalf, even though he is not from Tasmania. As to some of the other remarks of Senator Everett, I think they can be judged by his knowledge of the size of the population of Tasmania who are classified as Aborigines. If Senator Everett studies the last census he will find that the number was about 600. If he inquires of the Aboriginal Information Service he will find that according to their records the number is very much greater.
I have been challenged to say whether I have any knowledge of an advertisement that appeared and to which exception was taken. I do not wish to canvass the matter any more than Senator Everett apparently wished to canvass it, but if he wishes me to read out an advertisement which appeared in the newspaper and to say whether I had any knowledge of it, we may then be able to identify which advertisement he is talking about and which one I am talking about. If he does not want me to take that course I will say only that I have had nothing to do with any advertisements lately except those about which I have been asked for legal advice as to whether they were defamatory or contained defamatory matter. I gave clear advice that they did not. I am unable to take it further without identifying in greater particularity. I simply conclude by saying that what Senator Greenwood said is in no way what he was misrepresented from the other side of the chamber as having said. He certainly upheld the right to institute proceedings. He queried whether the institution of proceedings in that manner could have the effect of preventing discussion of a matter of public importance. As a matter of law I simply suggest that it does not and I certainly do not intend to regard it as doing so.
– I wish to turn to another subject. Today the Melbourne ‘Sun News-Pictorial’ published on its front page a story by one Laurie Oakes. It was headed: “Tax Plan May Hit Schools, Charities’. The article stated:
The Federal Government is considering a plan to scrap tax deductions for gifts to school building funds . . . Government sources said last night Cabinet would consider soon a submission to abolish the deductions from the end of this financial year.
There was other material of this kind. I then turned to another portion of the report which reads:
Sources said last night that the head of the Sydney University School of Physics Professor Harry Messel had been lobbying for abolition of the school building deductions.
The report continues on the next page in these terms:
Professor Messel is employed as a consultant to the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy. Some Government members said last night that in trie Government’s present electorally-perilous position, abolition of the deductions would be political folly.
I want to say that there is no truth whatever in this statement made on the front page of that newspaper that Professor Messel had been lobbying for the abolition of the school building deductions. There is no truth whatever in the suggestion that as Professor Messel was a consultant of mine I was in any way concerned with lobbying for the abolition of school building deductions. Furthermore, from the information which was given to me I believe that Mr Oakes knew that what is contained in the article was untrue before the article appeared in the newspaper.
– I want to say briefly that I have listened with interest to the rather touching concern of Senator Greenwood with the transport problems of Tasmania. It may be accidental or coincidental that his concern occurs at the same time as there is talk in the community of an election. If his attention and his Party’s attention to Tasmania is preceding an early election, I suspect and I would expect that his pronouncements about Tasmanian transport would be something that he would fulfil or would try to fulfil if his Party were elected to office. In that event I would draw Senator Greenwood ‘s attention to the plight of a very important area of South Australia called Kangaroo Island which, over many years, has suffered with a very real transport problem. The residents and settlers on Kangaroo Island are placed at a very great disadvantage in regard to transport costs compared with those on the mainland of South Australia. In his enthusiasm in dealing with shipping costs in Australia I find that although Senator Greenwood referred to Tasmania he did not include any reference to South Australia. I would just tell the honourable senator that in the event that circumstances should be extended along the lines that I have projected and his Party should soon take part in a new government in Australia, I would expect, and certainly the people of South Australia would expect, to get at least equal treatment with that which is promised on the widest and most generous scale by the honourable senator to Tasmania. Certainly the honourable senator can expect some reaction from my State if he considers that it can be left out of the most generous plans that he has.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
– On 2 October Senator Young asked me a question relating to the possible extension of the superphosphate bounty to 30 June 1975, in view of delivery delays, but utilising only the amount appropriated for bounty payments to 3 1 December 1 974. I have some further information for the honourable senator. It is as follows:
If this suggestion was adopted, then in the light of normal seasonal usage of superphosphate it would be necessary to cither lower the rate of bounty per tonne or impose a maximum bounty payment limit if the appropriated amount of $33 m is not to be exceeded. At present about $ 1 4m of the appropriated figure remains to be expended.
On the basis of previous years sales, usage of superphosphate in the period November-June will be 4.5 million tons. If the $!4m were spread over this amount of fertiliser, the rate of bounty would fall to $3 per tonne.
If a scheme of paying bounty to a maximum limit was introduced, then it is anticipated some 200,000 applications for bounty could be expected. Although many applications would be for small amounts, we have no way of estimating the size distribution. To ensure staying within the $14m payout limit would mean an upper limit to payments of $70 per farmer (based on total numbers) or about 6 tons of superphosphate. Additionally, administrative difficulties would make implementation of such a scheme impractical.
In these circumstances, the Government does not propose to implement a scheme along the lines suggested by Senator Young.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The above costs include overheads in order to establish a valid comparison with the cost of HMAS Perth’s modernisation.
Australian Mail Contractors Association
– On 1 October 1974, Senator Missen asked me the following question, without notice:
Is the Postmaster-General aware of complaints by the Australian Mail Contractors Association that they are forced to continue their contractual services at a rate which, over the last 12 months, has been so eroded as to be financially inequitable? Further, is the Minister aware of complaints that the Department’s system of tendering is outmoded and unfair? Do the members of this Association provide a useful service, particularly in rural areas? Will urgent steps be taken to meet their complaints?
At the end of my statement in reply I said that I would see whether there was any other information I should give Senator Missen and this information is now provided:
My Department was aware some time ago of the difficulties which some road mail service contractors were experiencing as a result of increases in operating costs and commenced a review of the mail contract system. This review was recently completed and a number of changes, including a price variation clause in future fixed term mail contracts, have been approved. Arrangements have also been made to invite the present holders of fixed term mail contracts to apply for adjusted rates of payment based on substantiated cost increases.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1974/19741024_senate_29_s61/>.