29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the Senate that on 9 February 1975 I received a letter from Senator L. K. Murphy resigning his place as a senator for the State of New South Wales. In accordance with section 2 1 of the Constitution I notified the Governor of the State of New South Wales of a vacancy in the representation of that State caused by the resignation of Senator Murphy.
- Mr President, may I have leave to make a statement?
-Is leave granted?
– No, Mr President.
– Leave is not granted.
– I inform the Senate of the following changes which have been made in the Ministry following the appointment of the Honourable L. K. Murphy, Q.C, as a Justice of the High Court: Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Honourable K. S. Wriedt; Attorney- General and Minister for Customs and Excise, the Honourable Kep Enderby; Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Senator the Honourable Jim McClelland. Changes in the representation arrangements in the Senate are as follows: I will represent the Prime Minister, Senator Willesee will represent the Minister for Overseas Trade, Senator Cavanagh will represent the Minister for Northern Development and the Minister for the Northern Territory, and Senator J. R. McClelland will represent the Attorney-General and the Minister for Customs and Excise and the Minister for Science. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry will be represented in the House of Representatives by Mr Enderby.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. Senator Townley, would you indicate the nature of your statement?
– I am sorry but apparently I was under the misunderstanding that some arrangement had been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) concerning this matter.
– Is leave granted for Senator Townley to make a statement?
– Leave is granted.
Senator TOWNLEY (Tasmania)-Mr President, several months ago I said publicly that I had resumed my financial membership of the Tasmanian Liberal Party in a private capacity and that I would continue in this place for as long as possible as an independent senator, keeping in mind the good of Tasmania and the nation. Over the brief space of a couple of months we have witnessed the Australian economy pass into an acute recession. The direct actions of our present Government have had a disastrous effect upon the ability of hundreds of thousands of Australians to earn their livelihood, and amongst them are a great number of Tasmanians. Unfortunately, as this parliamentary year begins there is no sign of recovery and it is my contention that there will be no restoration of confidence until we see a change of government.
– I take a point of order, Mr President. Senator Townley was given leave to make a statement on his readmission to the Liberal Party. He is now proceeding to make a speech on the economy and this is totally out of order having regard to the permission granted to him.
– Leave was granted to Senator Townley to make a statement. I understand that he has completed it.
– I have not completed the statement. I believe that this Government is not fair dinkum in its attempts to right the economy.
– Wait a moment.
– It will take only a little while. As this parliamentary year begins I see no sign that the Labor Party is prepared to do anything special to help Tasmania. I have -
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I think it is quite obvious that the intention of the Senate was to grant Senator Townley leave to make a statement on a matter concerning his membership of the Liberal Party. In relation to the previous point of order, with due respect to you, Mr President, obviously Senator Townley is canvassing other matters which it was not the intention of the Senate that he should canvass when he rose to speak and was given leave to speak. I ask you to rule accordingly.
- Mr President, I wish to address myself to you on that matter. I think that both Senator Keeffe ‘s observations were specious. I regret that Senator Wriedt, who has just assumed the honourable role of Leader of the Government in the Senate, should advance the same argument. The facts are that Senator Townley sought leave to make a statement and after some difficulty he was given leave. He has indicated that he felt compelled to join the Liberal Party- a matter which caused Senator Wheeldon other problems at an earlier stage. Therefore, Sir, I suggest that you should uphold your ruling and allow Senator Townley to tell the Senate the reasons that caused him to take this step.
- Mr President, I rise on another point of order. Senator Townley, during the course of his remarks, said that he believed that this Government was not fair dinkum in its attempts to right the economy. I do not know the true interpretation of the expression ‘fair dinkum ‘, but I take it that that part of the Australian vocabulary, in this context, is something derogatory of the Labor Party. I find the remark offensive to me and to my Party. I ask that it be withdrawn.
-The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has requested that Senator Townley withdraw certain words. Senator Townley, will you withdraw them?
– I will not ask that they be written down. I think that everybody in this country knows what the words ‘fair dinkum’ mean. I do not think the Labor Party is fair dinkum. But, if the Minister thinks that my saying that the Labor Party is not fair dinkum is derogatory, I withdraw those words.
– I shall rule now on the point of order. Senator Townley asked for leave of the Senate to make a statement. He was requested to indicate the subject matter. Some senators have taken a point of order on the basis that he is departing from the subject matter in respect of which leave was granted. I ask him to confine his statement to that matter. If he wishes to enlarge upon the statement he should seek further leave of the Senate.
– I cannot remember at any stage this day giving any indication to you, Mr President, or to the Senate of the contents of the statement. It is a very short one. I am nearly finished.
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Townley did not come to me as Manager of Government Business in the Senate to let me know in advance that he was seeking leave to make a statement of the type that he is now making.
– He does not have to do so.
– I know that he does not have to do so; but there are customs, practices and traditions in this place, which have existed for some considerable time. However, the Leader of the Opposition and I had discussions this morning and again after lunch about arrangements for today. I had the distinct impression that the statement that Senator Townley was to make was to be brief and to the point. However, probably because of lack of time, I was not able to tell my colleagues at the time that Senator Townley would seek to make a statement of the type I was under the impression that it would be and therefore Senator Cavanagh, I understand, refused leave. It was at my request and at the request of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that our attitude on that aspect was reviewed. Leave was then granted in the conscientious belief that Senator Townley ‘s statement was to be brief and to the point. I say quite frankly that had I known the statement was to be of the type that it is the Government would not have acceded to the statement being made.
– I ask Senator Townley to make his statement brief, concise and to the point.
– For the reasons I have given I have taken the formal step of joining the Parliamentary Liberal Party from this time. Two other factors have been important in the formation of this decision. Firstly, I consider it most undemocratic for one person to hold the very considerable power I held as the independent in the balance of power. Secondly, I feel that Tasmania will be better served by a combination of Tasmanian anti-socialist groups with a united purpose against Labor. This is the time for a concerted effort by all those Tasmanians interested in a change of government, not a time for fragmentation. My anti-Labor feelings are well known, as is the fact that I have been a member of the Liberal Party since the early 1950s. My desire to help Tasmania is also well known, and I feel confident that now I will be able to help even more as a member of the Liberal team.
- Mr President, I ask for leave to make a statement which has been prepared by me and cleared by the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland).
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-On behalf of the Opposition, I advise the Senate that a pair will be granted for the vacancy presently existing in the State of New South Wales. The pair is granted on the basis of and in accordance with the long standing tradition in the Senate that all States should be equally represented and that no political group should take advantage of an unusual situation brought about by either death or resignation. Honourable senators will recall that in the past when deaths have occurred on either side of the chamber the deceased senator has been paired until his replacement has been appointed or elected. Honourable senators will also know that it is our view, and we know it to be the view of the Government, that divisions should not be lost or won by misadventure. We all know that the rule in the Senate has been and is that sickness, family bereavement or suchlike means that pairs must be and always are granted. Likewise, we believe that death or resignation should always warrant a pair. I am sure that the Manager of Government Business in the Senate agrees with the proposition I have put down, and I invite him to acknowledge it.
– by leave- On behalf of the Government, I express pleasure that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has made the announcement that he has just made. The Government notes in particular that the pair is granted on the basis of and in accordance with the long standing tradition in the Senate that all States should be equally represented and that no political group should take advantage of any unusual situation brought about by either death or resignation. I discussed this matter briefly this morning with the Leader of the Opposition, and he told me then that he would consider the matter and advise me of the outcome after, I take it, discussion with his colleagues. Doubtless he has now had those discussions, and he has made a statement on behalf of the Opposition. I think it fair to say that since I have been in the position of Manager of Government Business in the Senate we have been able to sort out the pairs situation. Now, having been invited to acknowledge the situation publicly, I concur in the proposition put forward by Senator Withers, and I agree in principle with his general statement.
– I seek leave to offer congratulations on behalf of the Liberal Party to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) and the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland).
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
-I apologise to both Senator Wriedt and Senator James McClelland. I should have done this immediately ministerial arrangements were announced. Firstly, the Liberal Party offers its congratulations to Senator Wriedt. I understand he is the first Tasmanian from the Australian Labor Party to occupy the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate. As we of the Opposition are aware, Senator Wriedt is a hard working Minister. He has always been courteous, he is a vigorous debater, and I think that generally around the chamber he has a large number of friends. We wish him well in his short stay on that side of the table. We hope he does not find his task too arduous.
We offer our congratulations to Senator James McClelland. I have had the privilege of working with him on one committee. All honourable senators are aware of his calibre. I am quite certain that all honourable senators believe he will prove to be an able and capable Minister. We wish him well in his stay in office.
– I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
-On behalf of Australian Country Party senators may I support Senator Withers in offering congratulations to Senator Wriedt on his appointment as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I wish him well in his office. I am quite sure that he will find it interesting and I think, to a degree, rewarding. I know that Senator Wriedt will have some problems and might say to himself: ‘Why did I ever offer myself for the position?’. It has always been my belief that leaders of the Government in the Senate have to be able to communicate. From my experience with Senator Wriedt 1 believe he will be able to communicate. I know from a statement I saw yesterday that this is the objective of the new leader. I say to him on behalf of the Country Party and on my own behalf that I am sure we will co-operate with him at all times. I wish Senator Wriedt well, as Senator Withers has said, in his short stay in office.
The Country Party offers its congratulations to Senator James McClelland. We are very pleased to see him in his new position and we look forward to working with him. We offer Senator James McClelland the same co-operation that we have offered to Senator Wriedt, whatever the task may be.
– by leave- I was unaware that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) intended to make those kind remarks. I realise, as I am sure my colleague the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) realises, the great responsibility that falls on the shoulders not only of those in the Ministry but also on the leaders of either House of the Parliament. It is my desire that the Senate should work as effectively as possible. I must say in return- it is not soft soap- that while I have been in the Ministry I have found both Senator Withers and Senator Drake-Brockman easy people to work with. I am sure that that situation will continue.
Obviously we will have some rough times during this sessional period. I am quite sure that no holds will be barred when it comes to debate on matters of policy. There are many areas in the Senate where we can, by co-operation, facilitate the passage of legislation. It is necessary not only for us as a Government on this side of the chamber to do that but for the whole of the Senate to do so as one of the Houses of the Parliament. I assure the Senate that I will do all that I can to ensure that we make the passage of legislation as smooth as possible even though at times it will be awfully rough.
– by leave- I should like to thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) for their gracious comments. As to the likely duration of our tenure of office, I should like to remind both honourable senators of the old adage that a threatened man lives long.
– During the recess all Australians were shocked at the disasters which struck the people of Darwin and Hobart. In the absence of honourable senators I sent messages to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Mayor of Darwin, Major-General Stretton of the National Disasters Organisation and to the Premier of Tasmania expressing, I am sure, the views of all members of the Senate on these tragic occurrences. I have since received messages thanking the Senate for its concern.
– The following petition has been lodged for presentation:
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:
Whereas the Treasurer of the Australian Government has proposed that the concessional deduction for education expenses be reduced from $400 to$150.
We, the undersigned, humbly petition the Senate to return any legislation which could give effect to such a proposal to the House of Representatives and request that the concessional deduction for education expenses be restored to $400 for each child attending an approved school or college.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Baume.
Proportional Representation in the Senate
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the sessional orders relating to the days and times of meeting and precedence to Government and general business be varied as follows:
) That, unless otherwise ordered, the days of meeting of the Senate shall be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered shall be half-past two p.m. on Tuesdays, eleven a.m. on Wednesdays and half-past ten a.m. on Thursdays;
That, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the Whole Senate, be suspended from one p.m. until a quarter-past two p.m., and from six p.m. until eight p.m.
That, unless otherwise ordered, general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays after three p.m.; and
That, unless otherwise ordered, the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate have effect at halfpast ten p.m. on Tuesdays, eleven p.m. on Wednesdays and five p.m. on Thursdays.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Government be commended for its initiatives in the area of local government and for the action it has already taken and proposes to take to further recognise and assist the valuable work performed by local government organisations.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate compliments the Government on recognising 1975 as International Women’s Year, and asks the Government to take urgent and immediate steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in Australia and to actively encourage the elimination of discrimination against women in all parts of the world.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Is it a fact, as widely reported in the Australian Press by journalists who accompanied the Prime Minister, that microphones were found in the air conditioning and that there were 2-way mirrors and secret doors in the hotel rooms allocated to members of the Prime Minister’s party visiting Russia? Did uninvited Russians enter the room of one Australian group and on detection flee through a concealed door, described by the journalists as a swinging door panel set in the main door? Was baggage of members of the party searched in their rooms? If these statements are incorrect, has the Minister for Foreign Affairs apologised to the Russian Government for the statements made by Australian journalists? If these statements are correct, is this the proper and correct treatment to be accorded to the Australian Head of Government and his staff when visiting Russia? Did the Prime Minister object to or accept this treatment? If the conduct occurred, is this the price of a visit by the Prime Minister of this country to Russia?
-I know nothing of these highly colourful things about which Senator Greenwood talks. I do not think I can be expected to apologise for what appears in the Press. There are only 24 hours in the day and I do not want to spend the whole of that time apologising to other countries.
-I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has been able to study the Opposition’s latest economic program. Does this program include wage and salary restraint and at the same time the abolition of the Prices Justification Tribunal which, according to Mr Snedden, has become an instrument of profit control?
-I have not had time to study in detail the document referred to by Senator Brown but I have been able to look at extracts from it and it is clear that there is a contradiction, as was pointed out by Senator Brown in his question. It is clear also that the Opposition would be no more able to exercise effective controls over wages and salaries than is the Government at the present time because of the lack of constitutional power, but at least this Government has taken the initiative to support the proposal for the indexation of wages now before the Arbitration Commission. It would seem to me, especially from statements made by, I think, Mr Malcolm Fraser, that any means used by the Opposition as a government would be repressive means. This is not the solution to the wage explosion problem.
– I rise to order, Mr President. I refer to standing order 100 which states that in answering any question a senator shall not debate the matter to which the same refers. My submission is that if there is to be a statement by the Government on the Opposition’s economic policy, let the Minister ask for leave to make a statement; but let there not be an abuse of question time contrary to the Standing Orders. I contend that this answer should not be further permitted.
– Speaking to the point of order, I want to indicate that the question was asked of me entirely without notice. I was not aware that that question was to be directed to me. I was answering it in the context in which it was asked and I do not see how I could divert from the matters raised in the question.
- Senator Greenwood was given quite an amount of latitude in asking his question. Questions, of course, should not contain inferences, imputations, ironical expressions or hypothetical matter.
– I did not ask the question. I just raised the point of order.
-The following question also contained material of that nature. I rule that Senator Wriedt in reply can choose whether he answers some of the wider implications of the question or confines himself to the question itself. The Minister must choose his own way of answering the question.
-I think the point should be made that at the present time the Prices Justification Tribunal is the only machinery available to the Australian Government to try to put a brake on prices. Until such time as wider constitutional powers are available to the Australian Government this machinery must remain in existence. I am sure that it is a matter of concern to all Australians that the suggestion should be made that this Tribunal should be abolished.
– In directing a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I refer to the much publicised denials by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime
Minister that the Government’s economic policy had been set in reverse. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister throughout last year stubbornly refused to cut Government expenditure as a means of checking inflation? Did he consistently uphold the Government’s decision to abolish the superphosphate bounty? How can the Government’s new approach to these questions be described as anything but a reversal of policy or, in Labor terms, does ‘reverse’ mean to go forward backwards?
– During the course of last year the Prime Minister on many occasions stated, and stated correctly, that the Government had been elected for a 3-year term to implement the policy which it had put before the Australian people. Certainly, any government, if it finds the necessity to do so, must alter the rate at which it attempts to do certain things. We made it quite clear that we intended to expand Government spending in certain areas of the economy. We have done that. I do not believe that there is any Australian who would say that we should have spent less money on education, pensions, health services or a whole range of other matters. I do not think that the farmers, who I am sure Senator Drake-Brockman hopes will vote for him, would think that there should have been any less spent on the wool support scheme, for example.
It is not a matter of retraction or going back on the principles which this Government has set out in various statements. If it is necessary for a government to alter the rate of change, then a government is at liberty to do so. Certain Government measures were referred to by the honourable senator. In particular, he referred to the superphosphate bounty with which I am perhaps more familiar. The recent decision represents a recognition by the Government of the changed circumstances in the rural sector. At the time the original decision was taken it was accepted that there was a degree of buoyancy in the rural sector which it must be conceded does not obtain at the present time. The Government recognises that and for that reason it has decided to refer the whole question of phosphate to the Industries Assistance Commission.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
-Is it on the same subject?
– Very well.
-In answer to my previous question the Minister said that the Government had spent money on the wool industry. I ask him: How much has the Government spent on the wool industry?
– I am not quite sure of the intent of the question, because I am quite sure that Senator Drake-Brockman would be fully aware of the appropriations made by this Parliament last year whereby the Government has made available an amount of $350m to support the reserve price for wool. That is the amount of money which has been approved by this Parliament.
-Can the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Parliament of the details of alleged police brutality against Aborigines at Laverton on 5 January of this year? In particular can the Minister advise why the police bashed women and children? How many were injured as a result of the bashings? Has legal action been taken against any police involved? If the Country Party dominated Western Australian Government refuses to initiate a royal commission to inquire into the incident as requested by the Minister, what other action can be taken to ensure that some other form of public inquiry is held?
– I have made investigations into this matter as a result of representations from the Western Australian Aboriginal Legal Service, representatives of which were at Laverton on the occasion in respect of which there were allegations of police bashings. As a result of those representations and a delegation from the Legal Service I wrote to the Acting Premier of Western Australia- I believe it was Mr McPharlin- asking him to support the request of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service for a royal commission. I suggested that if the reason that Western Australia did not appoint a royal commission was the cost involved, as had been stated in the Press, I was prepared to approach the Australian Special Minister of State and to ask him to finance a joint royal commission on behalf of both the Australian Government and the Western Australian Government. I have had no reply to that correspondence, but since writing it I have heard other allegations that would dwarf into insignificance the reported allegations of the police bashing at Laverton. This shows that there is some need for an inquiry into the relationship between Aborigines and police in Western Australia.
– Is there not an inquiry going on at the moment into this matter?
-Just a moment. I think the allegations concerning events at Laverton and the other allegations which I have conveyed by correspondence to the Acting Premier justify a public royal commission into the relationship between police and Aborigines in Western Australia. I do not wish to say any more because I am hopeful that the Premier will accept my invitation to hold a royal commission.
I believe a magistrate has been appointed to make inquiries into what happened at Laverton. He will report upon what is told to him by witnesses but his investigations will not involve any right of public examination as to the accuracy of the statements made to him. The sergeant at Kalgoorlie has admitted that the police over-reacted and that some brutality occurred there that should not have occurred. These are things that should be open to inquiry. I refer to them only as allegations. They should be subject to a full and open inquiry. I have made every attempt with the Western Australian Minister to get a joint inquiry. If he eventually refuses I will have to approach the Australian Cabinet to see whether we can do anything on an Australian basis.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. Like my colleagues I am very pleased to welcome him in his new capacity. Without doubt he is capable of bringing a constructive mind to finding solutions to the problems of the industry which he will find in considerable confusion and disarray when he begins to examine it. I am sure he is aware of the Jackson committee of inquiry into manufacturing industry which has been taking evidence from sections of the industry for quite a long time. I ask him whether he could indicate now or later when the Committee ‘s report may be finalised and be available for scrutiny by us all?
– I have not been in this high office long enough to confirm the dire prediction which the honourable senator makes that I will find the industry in some state of disarray. All I can say is that during the last 24 hours my own life has been in some state of disarray and I have not had time to inform myself of the exact stage of the Jackson Committee’s inquiry. I had some discussions about the Jackson Committee this morning with the permanent head of my Department but not of an extensive enough nature to be able to answer Senator Cotton’s question. However, I will make further inquiries and let him have an answer in the near future.
-I ask the Minister for the Media: Is it true that the Australian Government has looked into the question of communications between Darwin and evacuees from that city who are in other parts of Australia? Has anything been done to keep these evacuees informed about their relatives who may still be in Darwin? What arrangements have been made to make use of television tape equipment to show evacuees what progress is being made with rebuilding in the Darwin area?
-The honourable senator will know that along with a number of my colleagues I went to Darwin on Boxing Day, immediately after the cyclone Tracy tragedy. As a result I was able to assess at first hand the information needs of the people of Darwin, so many of whom were tragically being evacuated because of the circumstances. Since the visit at that time by myself and a number of my ministerial colleagues, the Minister for Social Security has been to Darwin and has personally investigated the social needs of the people of Darwin and of the evacuees from Darwin. Of course our colleague the Minister for the Northern Territory keeps us continually informed of developments.
As far as my Department is concerned, the Australian Information Service has sent to Darwin a journalist and a photographer who are responsible for assessing the feasibility of the Northern Territory ‘News’, which is the newspaper circulating in the Northern Territory, publishing a regular supplement which will act as a vehicle of communication between the people who are actually left in Darwin and their evacuated families and relatives. I am hopeful that this assessment will be provided to me in the near future and will form the basis of decisions as to whether the Government will support financially the publication of such a supplement.
Members of the staff of Mr Hayden’s Department, the Department of Social Security, have visited my Department’s central office to receive background information on the use of video portaback equipment and advice on the purchase and use of such equipment. We have arranged to send to Darwin 2 people to work with the Department of Social Security crisis teams that Mr Hayden has there in operating this video portaback equipment. Those people will be there with officers from the Department of Social Security until they are versed in the skilful handling of this equipment. The honourable senator can be assured that the Government is doing all that it possibly can to keep open lines of communication not only to the people of Darwin but also between the people of Darwin and those who unfortunately, because of the tragic circumstances, had to be evacuated from that city.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration whether Press reports are correct that the Australian Labor Party conference in Terrigal last week agreed to include in the Party’s platform a clause which in part states sympathetic consideration of people who for political and other reasons would face danger to life and liberty upon return to their country of origin’. If such reports are correct, will the Minister for Labor and Immigration grant asylum to 2 Czechoslovakian seamen, Jaroslav Reinisch and Jan Janik, who appealed for asylum in Australian early last year? Is the Minister aware that his indecision on this matter is causing great stress to these 2 unfortunate people who know only too well that if they are sent home they will face long gaol sentences or even worse?
-The Australian Labor Party’s policy has always had in it a prescription of the type mentioned by Senator Young but in a form different from the one to which he has referred, and it has been applied by the Minister as accurately as possible. I do not know whether the Minister for Labor and Immigration has informed Senator Young that, in respect of the 2 Czechoslovakian seamen about whom representations have been made by him and by some other people, he has invited Mr Tony Lamb, who is the Secretary of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party in Canberra and a Victorian member of the Parliament, to visit and talk to these 2 people, one of whom is at Tennant Creek and the other at Alice Springs.
– At Darwin.
-I should have said at Darwin. I think they have been advised of the impending visit of Mr Lamb. When the Minister receives Mr Lamb ‘s report on the facts concerning the individuals and the circumstances of the case he intends to act on it. I will attempt to find out when the visit will be made. I know that arrangements are being made for it. I am quite sure that the Minister, when he receives the report, will act upon it sympathetically and consistently with the policy of our Party.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate any knowledge of a statement by the Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania, as reported in the Tasmanian Press last Saturday and yesterday, in which he condemned the intrusion of the Country Party into Tasmania, criticised the move as an image building expedition by Mr Anthony and requested the Country Party to clear out, as he put it? How does this public repudiation of the Country Party or National Party by the Liberal Party in Tasmania square with the much vaunted close cooperation and rapport between this so-called coalition which purports to be the alternative government of this country?
-I think that probably every Tasmanian read the statement of the Leader of the Liberal Party in that State following the visit to Tasmania by leading personalities of the Country Party including, I understand, the Premier of Queensland. There have been many occasions on which the Country Party has endeavoured to establish itself as a viable political force in Tasmania but it always has suffered the same fate. I suggest that this effort will suffer a similar fate in the few months ahead. The Tasmanian people are wise enough to know that they have had many years of good rule under the Labor Party and the leadership of men like Eric Reece, and if they wish to have an alternative they will turn to the Liberal Party. I think that would be the proper course for them to follow although I am sure they will not do so. Nevertheless I suggest that the Country Party’s chances of being established in Tasmania are exactly the same as they have always been, and that is nil.
– My question, addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows the comments he made in answer to Senator Brown earlier today in regard to the Prices Justification Tribunal. I refer to the statement of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Mr Justice Moore, that decisions by the Prices Justification Tribunal had delayed the movement towards conciliation between unions and employers. In view of the Government’s belated recognition that unemployment in excess of 3 1 1 000 will not be materially reduced until confidence and co-operative industrial relations have been restored in the private sector of the Australian economy, I ask: What is the Government’s present position with regard to the future operations of the Prices Justification Tribunal?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by Senator Guilfoyle and therefore it is difficult for me to comment. I would assume on the basis of what she said in her question that her reference to the Prices Justification Tribunal concerns the fact that the Government issued a direction recently to the Tribunal that it take into account the effect of investment in the private sector and the need for private companies to maintain a reasonable level of investment. I think that was a sensible decision and I am sure it would be applauded by the private sector. I do not know in what way prior to that the Tribunal may have exacerbated relations between employers and employees, but if that is the case then the recent instruction to the Tribunal has been a step in the right direction. It is the Government’s policy to continue the operations of the Tribunal. I am sure that this will be a stabilising factor for Australia in the months ahead.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. In view of the many special services and facilities provided by the Australian Government for the residents of Darwin following the devastating cyclone on Christmas Day, among them being certain mail and telecommunications concessions, can he inform the Senate their extent and nature?
– Following the cyclone I discussed the matter with Dr Patterson and the then Acting Prime Minister, Dr J. F. Cairns, and on a visit to Darwin we announced a number of important concessions. Telegram, telephone and telex charges were reduced by about one-third and there was an arrangement, which I think is now well known, for free postage out of Darwin for standard letters. For the other related mail services there were cuts of from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. In addition, very special arrangements, which still continue, were made for charitable organisations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to have free services not only in the capital cities but also in their agencies in Darwin. Very extensive deductions were made. The Government plans to meet the cost of those deductions by special appropriations. Of course, they were justified in the circumstances.
One or two questions have been asked about Darwin. Without reflecting or commenting upon the employees in the other departments, I wish to say specially that the Government and I appreciate the efforts which were made by members of the Australian Post Office staff who, as from after the calm before the cyclone, worked for many hours giving a voluntary service in damp and bad conditions. Also, they lived in very difficult circumstances. By a great co-operative effort they were able to feed, look after and accommodate in special emergency arrangements other Post Office staff. That service ought to be recognised by me. I am doing that suitably through the Department. 1 thought that I should mention it at this stage.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the need to re-establish the business community in Darwin and to encourage those people who are needed to work on Darwin’s reconstruction, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate follow up the subject of the letter which I wrote to the Prime Minister on 2 1 January and ascertain for me Government policy on my submissions recommending that company tax and income tax be not levied in the Darwin area until the beginning of the financial year 1977-78 and that sales tax on replacement items be not levied until the beginning of the financial year 1 976-77?
– I am not aware of the letter to which Senator Hall referred, but I certainly shall pass his request on to the Prime Minister with a view to expediting a reply to him.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the huge bush fire which recently destroyed a 50- kilometre corridor of farm and grazing land and a number of farm buildings from coast to coast on Kangaroo Island, with losses assessed at more than Sim. In view of the extreme hardship thus inflicted on land owners who were already battling adverse economic conditions, has consideration been given or will consideration be given by the Commonwealth Government to providing relieving assistance to those now in heavy need as a result of that fire?
– As Senator Laucke would be aware, it is customary for requests of that nature to come from the Premier of the State concerned to the Prime Minister. That policy was followed by our predecessors and it has been continued by this Government. Each State is expected to bear a minimum amount of the cost of such fires before the Australian Government will assist. I am not aware of any request having come from the South Australian Premier to the Prime Minister, but I am sure that if such a request were received it would receive sympathetic consideration because the magnitude of the damage caused by the fire in the area referred to by the honourable senator was very great. I shall inquire of the Prime Minister and let the honourable senator know whether such a request has been forthcoming.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. It relates to the Regional Employment Development scheme. Can the Minister provide to the Senate details of the total number of projects approved and the estimated cost of such projects, both Australiawide and in South Australia?
-I think Mr Clyde Cameron has announced some of these figures. The total appropriation is over $50m. Of that amount, about $44m comes from the Australian Government. Throughout Australia over 2000 projects have been approved. Employment opportunities have been provided for nearly 20 000 workers. The amount provided by the Commonwealth Government for South Australia is nearly $5m. I am not sure of the number of projects approved in South Australia so I will get the figure, but most of the projects which have been submitted in South Australia have been approved, and I think employment opportunities have been provided for about 1000 workers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Media. Is it a fact that the Government has decided that no licences shall be granted for frequency modulation radio to commercial stations? Is the Minister aware of the report of the Senate committee which suggested that frequency modulation radio should be available to the widest range of community and cultural groups ? Does the Minister agree that the Government’s decision taken at the recent Australian Labor Party Conference tends to be vindictive? Does he agree that the success of frequency modulation radio depends upon public demand and that the development of this demand depends in turn upon the inclusion of commercial stations? If so, what are the Government’s plans to make frequency modulation facilities available to the widest range of Australian people?
-For 25 years the previous Government did nothing to develop frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia. Within 2 years of the Australian Labor Party’s coming into office we had a frequency modulation station on the air. It is a community broadcasting station owned by the Music Broadcasting Society of New South Wales. I think that shows the difference in pace between the style of government that now exists and the style of government that existed under the Liberal and Country parties. Additionally, hopefully this month, depending on the approval of local government organisations in Melbourne for the erection of a mast, a frequency modulation radio station will come into existence in Melbourne. Let me deal with the other aspects of Senator Davidson’s question. It is true that the Australian Labor Party at its conference in Terrigal last week determined that there shall be no development of commercial frequency modulation stations in Australia for the time being, but of course that decision does not stop the development of frequency modulation community broadcasting stations somewhat of the type to which I have already referred. It certainly does not stop the development of frequency modulation broadcasting by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
The honourable senator will know that in past years under the previous Government a policy was adopted to protect the airwaves of this country by locking up and restricting the development of frequencies in the amplitude modulation frequency band. That restriction has been undone by this Government, and considerable development is now going on in the AM frequency band; so much so that applications for commercial licences were recently called for in Wollongong, Adelaide and the north-western suburbs of Sydney. A community broadcasting service in the AM band is being opened in Campbelltown in New South Wales and another will be opened in Melbourne in the near future. 1 can assure the honourable senator that one cannot look at frequency modulation in isolation from amplitude modulation. The two have to be looked at conjointly, one with the other. The Government in developing the airwaves of this country will take those factors into account.
-Will the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation inform the Senate of the procedures initiated by him and his officers to invite compensation claims from the people in Darwin who were injured or lost possessions as a result of the tragedy of cyclone Tracy?
-As soon as the Government became aware of the disaster that had occurred in Darwin as a result of the cyclone we considered what steps should be taken to provide compensation for people who had lost property and also the people who had suffered personal injury or who required compensation as a result of the death of persons on whom they were dependent. There is no clearly established precedent for matters such as this because various different steps have been taken by different governments at different times and in different circumstances.
My Department did advertise widely throughout Australia that there were available to people who had been living in Darwin at the time and had suffered some damage, forms which they should complete and return to officers of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation. A large number of forms have been returned- I think the number is considerably more than 10 000- from people, most of whom claimed for property damage. Fortunately, as all honourable senators are aware, the death toll and the number of personal injuries, although tragic, were perhaps rather surprisingly low in view of the almost total devastation of the city of Darwin.
As far as personal injury is concerned, very few of the people who were injured or who were bereaved and lost people on whom they were dependent were covered by any form of insurance. Naturally very few of them would be able to obtain workers’ compensation payments- if indeed any of them would be able to obtain such payments- because most, if not all, of those people who were injured or killed were not working at the time of the cyclone. With regard to property damage, one of the matters which have been revealed as a result of the survey undertaken by my Department has been, as probably one would expect, that most people were under-insured. Some were not insured at all.
A matter of this kind does raise a great many problems- I suppose one could correctly describe them as philosophical problems- as to what attitude one should adopt in such a circumstance. If a single house is burnt down by a small bushfire the person who has lost his house is obviously no worse off than somebody who is one of 10 000 people who have had their houses burned down. I suppose one could ask why one should differentiate because a lot of houses have been burnt down rather than one or two. It has been the attitude of this Government and I think of other governments that the very special circumstances of a national disaster such as that which occurred in Darwin require special treatment. Accordingly, the Government will extend such treatment.
What we are at present doing is assessing the total amount of property loss, the total amount of personal injury, and the extent to which the property damage and personal injury are covered by insurance. It is not my own view that people who were insured should not be entitled to any benefit at all, provided of course that they were not fully insured and as with people who were would receive more than 100 per cent compensation if they were to be paid something. The Government is looking at a proper formula whereby we can apply whatever moneys are made available by the Government to restore the damage that has been done in Darwin and also to assess the amount of money which we will make available. It still is not completely clear precisely what is the total amount of damage suffered in Darwin.
If I may say so in conclusion, what has occurred in Darwin is I think an illustration of the necessity for some form of national insurance or national compensation scheme, without canvassing the one which is embodied in the Bill which is presently before the Senate. Situations such as this occur all the time either in isolated instances or in the case of disasters such as that which occurred in Darwin. Clearly people are not normally adequately covered by their own private insurance. There has to be some comprehensive approach by the Government to the total question of compensation in matters of this kind. In fact the Government is undertaking such an approach at the present time.
-Did the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on a visit to Leonora late last year, in particular to the offices of the Shire of Leonora, accuse the Shire of misusing funds paid to the Shire for the purpose of a special works project for Aborigines? If the Minister did make such an allegation, has he had the allegation investigated? If he did, what action has followed the investigation? If he did not, will he do so? If the allegation is groundless will he apologise to the shire?
– I think it is unfortunate for the honourable senator that his friends at Leonora are now making public an accusation made against them which was kept secret. It was alleged by the Aboriginal community when I was at Leonora that Aborigines employed on special works projects were engaged in building a shed on the property of one of the councillors and in plucking Christmas ducks for another councillor. Another misuse of the labour force was cleaning the car of someone on the council. I brought up this matter at a private meeting of the council. While it was admitted that such personnel were employed on such work it was claimed that payment had been made to the council for the time these people spent on such jobs. The accusation was made. I then referred the answer back to those who had informed me. I took the matter no further. If the council wants to be proud of its use of labour in this respect, which it admitted, then it has used the honourable senator as the vehicle to make the matter public.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
-Is this on the same subject matter?
-Yes. I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether he is aware that a similar accusation was made by one of his officers prior to his visit and that it was refuted. Notwithstanding the refutation and an invitation to inspect the records having been made, the accusation was then repeated by the Minister. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of those circumstances?
– No, I am not aware of any accusation made before my visit. I had no knowledge that Aborigines were employed in such activities until it was reported to me by the Aboriginal community at Leonora.
-Can the Minister for Agriculture confirm that a contract has been signed for the sale of a substantial quantity of meat to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? How much will this sale of meat assist the meat industry in its current difficulties? Is there any possibility of future sales of this type?
– Towards the end of last year, when it became evident that the world beef market was in a very deplorable state, the Australian Government decided to send a mission to Eastern Europe to see what the prospects of selling beef were in that part of the world. As a result of that mission and of the inclusion on it of representatives of the Australian Meat Board a contract for 40 000 tonnes of beef has been negotiated with the Soviet authorities. This suggests that, in the present position of the world beef market, the Soviet importing authorities see the need to establish assured sources of supply for beef in the years ahead. There is no doubt that beef will come back strongly in world markets and that there will be a position similar to that which existed several years ago when, being a seller’s market, it was difficult for importing countries to be assured of their source of supply. I feel that as a result of the negotiations which have taken place in Moscow we can look forward to a reasonably stable market in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the years ahead. I am quite sure that every effort will be made by both the Australian Meat Board and the Department of Overseas Trade to consolidate the market that has been established.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry,is the Minister aware that, as a result of representations made to me by Mr Heini Becker, the State member for Hanson in South Australia, I sent a telegram to the Minister’s predecessor on 3 February concerning the use of Department of Supply vehicles in the transport of freight to Darwin from Adelaide. I drew his attention to the plight of private road hauliers in South Australia who are suffering grave economic hardship as a result of this Government intrusion. As I have received no reply from the former Minister to my urgent request for his comment, will the present Minister take speedy action to ensure that future movement of freight to Darwin is contracted to the private operators who have rendered such good service to the people of the Northern Territory in the past, in order to alleviate their present serious economic position?
– I was not aware that a telegram had been sent to my predecessor in this office and I will look into that aspect of the question immediately. However, I understand that the Department of Manufacturing Industry did transport considerable quantities of urgently needed Government materials to Darwin in the immediate wake of the cyclone disaster. Most of the vehicles used for this task now have been withdrawn and supplies for the Darwin population will continue to be transported by established hauliers. It is expected that in the immediate future, because of the fact that the township is now in the process of being rebuilt, there obviously will not be as much work for established hauliers as there normally would be. But I can assure the honourable senator that there is no intention on the part of the Government or any of its departments to supplant orin any way affect the prosperity of established hauliers.
– I ask the Minister for the Media: Has there been any success in employing local musicians to make recordings for use in the background music system known as Muzak? If discussions have taken place with the company, when will the local musicians make the recordings?
-For some time my Department has been negotiating with the Muzak organisation to have Australian musicians perform Australian musical productions that can be used in the music process. To date I think it is fair to say that if not all, then nearly all music used in the system operated by the Muzak people is of overseas origin. As a result of discussions that officers of my Department have had with the Muzak organisation, I understand that the organisation now proposes to record these tracks using local musicians for use in the systems now operating in Australia and also that these tracks will be for sale to local radio stations.
The Australasian Performing Right Association has sent a list of the 30 top songs of 1974 to the Muzak organisation and I understand that Muzak intends recording these almost immediately. The Australasian Performing Right Association has advised me that it is so enthusiastic about the project that it has offered to pay the cost of additional musicians for all sessions, thereby increasing the number of players to be used in this performance from five to twelve in all. It is a considerable breakthrough in the development of opportunities for Australian performing artists, particularly those who are members of the Professional Musicians Association.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and relates also to the Darwin cyclone. By way of preface, I point out that nothing I say reflects on the Postmaster-General ‘s Department or its employees. I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that twice in Australia’s history all communications, defence and civil, have been destroyed in Darwin, the first occasion being on 1 9 February 1942 and the second on Christmas Day last year. In view of the serious weakness that this exposes in the communications system and in Australian security, is the Government making any investigation- I ask this in no partisan fashion for it reflects apparently on past governments as well- to determine why defence and civil communications have not been weather proofed and bomb proofed so that neither cyclones nor enemy action can destroy them? I ask this with this question also in mind: Is the Minister aware of the enormous heartbreak and hardships that were caused despite the great actions of Post Office and other employees in the week or more after the cyclone when it was not possible for people to find out whether their relatives or friends had survived or what was the nature of injuries and accidents? Is he aware of the enormous difficulties encountered in dealing with the evacuees sympathetically and effectively at airports because of the sheer absence of any communications, even days after the cyclone? Finally, would not the mobile facilities existing in the defence forces have enabled a more ready opening of communications? I ask this in an entirely non-partisan way and because I believe it to be of major importance for the future.
-Senator Carrick has raised a matter which has concerned the Government ever since the cyclone hit Darwin. My understanding is that there was microwave communication with the southern States. I am not even sure what that means, to be quite frank; but it means some form of communication. That is as much as I can say. Nevertheless, as the honourable senator has pointed out, the great bulk of the communications systems were destroyed. I know that Mr Barnard, the Minister for Defence, who is responsible for the Natural Disasters Organisation, expressed very great concern about the possibility of this happening again. I presume that he would be the person to whom I should pass on the question for comment. If he is not, I will find out who the appropriate Minister is and I will do that.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. I preface it by referring to the stability for rural producers that has been generated by the Government’s decision to support a floor price for wool during the current wool selling season. Can he inform the Senate when an announcement may be expected on the Government’s intentions in respect of wool marketing in the 1 975-76 wool selling season?
– It is difficult to make any definitive statement in reply to that question. The Government will need to consult the Australian Wool Corporation and seek its advice before any decision is made on the floor price for the next selling season. I realise that there are 2 sides to the argument about this. There are advantages to the producers in knowing as soon as possible. We realise that. But, on the other hand, it is very difficult for the Corporation to make a judgment of the world market at any length of time prior to 30 June. It will be necessary to strike a balance between these 2 factors. The closer we leave the decision to 30 June, when we will know much more accurately than we know now what the market position will be, the better will be the judgment that the Government will be able to make. I anticipate that by the middle or end of April the Government will be in a position to make a decision on this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I preface it by joining with Senator Carrick in saying that the problems concerning the Darwin evacuees were difficult and complex and that I am not in any way trying to be unduly critical. I also preface my question by reminding the Minister that many people who arrived in the major capital cities from Darwin lacked health insurance cover because of the availability of health care from Government doctors in the Northern Territory and that many of them required and still require primary medical care from local suburban doctors, many of whom are treating these people free of charge. Is it a fact that the Department of Social Security decided not to give these people automatic cover under the subsidised health benefits scheme? Will he agree that such action would not be difficult to initiate and would be consistent with a commitment to universal accessibility to health care? In view of the urgent need for the ex-residents of Darwin for all kinds of social support, will the Minister undertake to have the situation reviewed? Will the Minister ensure that the community, through its government, will bear the legitimate medical costs of uninsured people evacuated from Darwin as a result of cyclone Tracy?
-As Senator Baume would realise I am not in a position, as the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, to give assurances about what the Minister for Social Security will do, but I can tell the honourable senator what the present position is with regard to persons who have found themselves in the predicament to which he has referred. Upon the arrival from Darwin of evacuees, medical treatment was made available to them from the State authorities and from the hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation, of which there is at least one in each of the State capitals. Further to that, any requests that are made by Darwin evacuees for financial assistance towards private medical expenses not covered by existing insurance or by the pensioner medical service entitlements are considered by the Minister. Evacuees seeking reimbursement for expenses paid or unpaid accounts after any benefits under their existing arrangements are paid are being asked to submit their claims to the Department for consideration on an individual basis. Similar provisions apply in relation to hospital expenses.
I think that Senator Baume ‘s question again raises the same sort of problems to which I was referring earlier. Where an evacuee requires medical attention and has not subscribed to one of the hospital or medical benefit funds I am not quite sure what the moral argument is for saying that that evacuee should be treated in a different way from any other person who finds himself in difficulties and has not been a subscriber to one of these funds. The fact of the matter is that the Minister is considering all of these applications and the things have been done to which 1 referred in the course of the answer. It has been announced that applications should be made to the Minister for Social Security through his Department, and in fact this is being done at present. Beyond that, as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, I personally cannot go.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. Can the Minister make inquiries to see what can be done to combat the false credibility that is now given to inventions such as by the endorsement given in the television program ‘The Inventors’ by Sydney Civic Reform Alderman Leo Port, aided and abetted by Bubbles Fisher, to a car fuel saving device that the National Roads and Motorists Association tested and found to be defective?
– It was brought to my attention that the program ‘The Inventors’ had made an award to an invention of the type to which Senator Mulvihill referred. After the NRMA had tested the invention which, as I recollect, was designed to save fuel, it was found that the invention was practically worthless. I have had the matter drawn to my attention. I have asked the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to provide me with all the details. When I have been provided with the details I will give them to the honourable senator. The honourable senator of course will appreciate that the Government has the policy of political and programming independence for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I certainly believe that matters of the nature to which Senator Mulvihill has referred have to be watched very closely by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate when the Aboriginal Loans Commission will be operative? When will application forms be available? Will applicants be subject to a means test? Will applicants wishing to borrow money to purchase a home be required to have a deposit; if so, how much? How many Aborigines are on the Commission and how were they appointed? Who are they and from what State do they come?
-The members of the Aboriginal Loans Commission have been appointed and the Commission has had its first meeting. So it is operative. It is now deciding upon the guidelines for making loans. Applications can be received at present and they shall be processed. It is thought that by approximately March the Loans Commission will be in a position to advance money. The Commission will have a second meeting on 18 February. There are 2 Aborigines on the Loans Commission- Mr Bruce McGuinness, who was a nominee of the National Aboriginal Congress, and a female Aboriginal from one of the northern towns of Queensland where she is a member of the local shire council. Her name and the particular area escape me for the moment.
– Rockhampton shire.
-That is right. Obviously the honourable senator knows that, but he may wish to have further details. The conditions of the loans obviously will be for the Loans Commission to decide. The Act itself is broad enough, and I am personally hoping that there will not be a means test. While it is desirable to have a deposit, in certain cases the Commission can lend 100 per cent of the equity in a project without a deposit. Interest charges will be paid and there is discussion between the Loans Commission and myself now about the rate of the interest charges. I am thinking of a charge which will be sufficient to administer the scheme and perhaps to make good losses arising from those who may default on the repayment of loans.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the Tobacco Industry Act 1955-1965 I present the 19th annual report on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30 June 1 974.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Fishing Industry Act 1956,I present the 18th annual report of the operation of the Act during the year ended 30 June 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Council for the year ended 30 June 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Royal Commissions into petroleum drilling in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. Due to the importance of the report the Government distributed copies to all senators during the recess. It is now tabled at the first opportunity.
– I present for the information of honourable senators the reports on injection moulding machines, dated 23 December 1974, and tyres, dated 2 January 1975, of the Temporary Assistance Authority. In accordance with section 20 (2) of the Industries Assistance Commission Act I present for the information of honourable senators a report on steam and other vapour generating boilers etc., dated 12 March 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a ministerial statement by the Special Minister of State entitled ‘Childhood Services’ dated 5 December 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report by the Cities Commission entitled ‘Planning Options for Future Darwin’.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1973I present the annual report on the operations of the Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30 June 1974. The financial statements of Commonwealth Railways operations for the year ended 30 June 1974 were tabled on 26 September 1974.
Senator WHEELDON (Western AustraliaMinister for Repatriation and Compensation)For the information of honourable senators I present a report by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation on the meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Environment Committee at ministerial level on 13-14 November 1974.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Bill 1974
States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1974
States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1 974
Companies ( Foreign Take-overs) Bill 1 974
International Development Association (Further Payment) Bill 1974
Banks (Housing Loans) Bill 1974
Loan Bill 1974
States Grants ( Water Resources Assessment) Bill 1974
River Murray Waters Bill 1974
Nursing Homes Assistance Bill 1974
Homeless Persons Assistance Bill 1 974
King Island Shipping Service Agreement Bill 1 974
States Grants (Soil Conservation) Bill 1 974
States Grants (Nature Conservation) Bill 1974
Wool Industry Bill (No. 2) 1974
Wool Marketing (Loan) Bill (No. 2) 1974
Export Market Development Grants Bill 1974
Structural Adjustment (Loan Guarantees) Bill 1 974
Loans (Australian Industry Development Corporation) Bill 1974
States Grants (Fruit-growing Reconstruction) Bill 1974
Appropriation ( Urban Public Transport ) Bill 1 974
Aboriginal Land Fund Bill 1974
States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Bill 1 974
Papua New Guinea Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 974
Judges’ Pensions Bill 1974
Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 3 ) 1 974
Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Bill 1 974
Dairy Adjustment Bill 1974
Parliament Bill 1974
Second and Third Reports of Fifty-sixth Session 1974
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That the Senate resolve itself forthwith into a Committee of the Whole for the consideration of the Second and Third Reports of the Standing Orders Committee, copies of which have been distributed to honourable senators.
– I suggest to the Committee that the Second Report of the Standing Orders Committee be considered item by item rather than as a whole.
-Is it the wish of the Committee that that course be followed? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-The Standing Orders Committee recommends that each of the proposed changes be given a trial period of 6 months. I particularly emphasise that point. We believe it is worth while experimenting with these matters. For that reason the Committee recommends that each of the proposed changes be given a trial period of 6 months. Hence, in the motions which will follow I will be moving that the changes have effect initially as a sessional order and that, unless otherwise ordered, they become amendments to the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months.
– Is there any objection to the Minister’s suggestion? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (4.36)- I am not clear on the procedure. I appreciate the concept of having a trial period but as I understand what has been said, it will mean that at the end of 6 months these changes will automatically become part of our Standing Orders unless some objection is raised.
– If they are approved by the Committee.
– I propose to move an amendment in respect of item 1 .
I have some reservations. I would not argue against the concept of giving these changes to our Standing Orders a 6 months trial but I think that after this 6 months trial there should be a formal resolution rather than for the changes to be accepted automatically if nobody raises an objection. I would not go to the barricades and force a division on that aspect of the proposition but it seems to me that it would not require much paper work or mental exercise on the part of the Senate if at the end of that 6 months period the Clerk, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt), or whoever is handling the matter, were then to move a formal motion for bringing it on. It may well be that this matter could slip under the guard of somebody who wanted to raise an objection and was not here at the normal time. If the matter comes forward by way of a specific motion the whole of the Senate would be aware that we were changing standing order 98 by adding proposed standing order 98A.
– The honourable senator’s point is noted. He may notice that the Third Report by the Standing Orders Committee states:
The Standing Orders Committee suggests that the proposed changes have a trial period. Accordingly, it is recommended that the foregoing amendments to the Standing Orders operate initially as a Sessional Order and, unless otherwise ordered, that items 1, 2, 4 and 5 become amendments to the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months.
The Minister made a suggestion along those lines. I take it that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson ‘s point is that he would like a positive motion to be moved at the end of that 6 months period?
-That is the point. I am expressing my view only because I believe that the totality of the Senate should be alerted at the end of the 6 months period.
– The Minister has suggested a certain course. I put it to the Committee that there is opportunity for any honourable senator if he is alert to take action at the end of 6 months. The Minister said that unless otherwise ordered the suggested amendments become part of the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months.
– I understood from the remarks of the Minister that in respect of each item in the Standing Orders Committee ‘s reports he would move that the suggested amendments become sessional orders and that after 6 months, unless otherwise ordered, they become standing orders. If Senator
Sir Kenneth Anderson does not agree with an item I suppose he will move an amendment to delete that item and any portion which he wants to alter. On that item the question is whether it would automatically become a standing order after 6 months or whether someone would need to move a motion. I think the point which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson took is pertinent. At the end of 6 months an item would automatically become a standing order unless someone were apprised of the position and realised that he must give notice of motion to prevent it from becoming a standing order. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s proposal is that after 6 months the question must be asked: Has it worked satisfactorily for 6 months? In his opinion it may have. In my opinion it may not have. In that way we could get an opinion of the Committee of the Whole. Therefore I am inclined to support his proposal rather than the proposal that the items become standing orders automatically. I think that we should be able to move a motion which could be amended so that some items would be adopted and some would be deleted.
– I agree in principle with the proposition that we have a 6-month trial period. As a member of the Standing Orders Committee, I support that proposal. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has raised another matter. I think we must consider one factor before we decide, and that is that the Senate may not be sitting at the end of that 6-month period. In that event no opportunity would be available for anyone to move a motion if the items automatically become standing orders after 6 months. It may occur when the Senate is not sitting. The item would automatically become a standing order without the opportunity for objection being available, as the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) has said would be available. I hope that the Minister will take note of this fact when he moves his motion and will ensure that if the 6-month period elapses when the Senate is not sitting appropriate action can be taken on the first day of sitting by any person who may desire some qualification or some alteration of a standing order because it has not worked satisfactorily. I ask the Minister to take note of that situation.
-I think the point made initially by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and then by succeeding speakers has a deal of validity. I think we all appreciate giving the proposals a 6-month trial, at the end of which they will be approved formally if they have met with agreement. If there is some concern there should be a vehicle by which those which have not met with approval can be deleted. Would the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) be prepared to amend his suggested motion to provide that these proposed standing orders, as amended, take effect as sessional orders for a 6-month period and that on a date- I suppose it would be a date in August; say 1 1 August or the first sitting day in August- it can be an order of the day that the sessional orders approved on 1 1 February be approved as amendments to the Standing Orders? It would be a vehicle to bring the matter on to the notice paper and to remind people of what has been decided. It could be voted on formally at that time. If people wanted to raise some questions they could give an intimation and propose amendments. It is an attempt on my part to resolve what seems to me to be a difficulty, and it would accord generally with what people are wanting.
– I have listened with interest to the debate on this matter. Let me say, more for the benefit of the public than for the benefit of the members of this Committee of the whole, that the debate which is taking place is a free debate and the votes which are to be taken are free votes. I mention that fact for the edification of all concerned. I have listened to the remarks of all those who have spoken on this matter. I thought it was the unanimous opinion of the Standing Orders Committee that the procedure suggested by me should be adopted, namely, that we give these proposed standing orders a trial period during the present sittings and, rather than raise them again in toto, if there were no objections they become amendments to the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months. However, I take note of the points made by both Senator Greenwood and Senator Poyser, who were members of the Standing Orders Committee which considered the matter. I must now take a consensus of those who have spoken on this matter. Therefore, I am prepared to amend my motion. I shall move:
That the changes have effect initially as sessional orders and that the sessional orders take effect as standing orders if agreed to by the Senate at a sitting in August next.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (4.45)- Could I help the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) by suggesting to him some words which occurred to me while he was speaking? In fairness to the Minister, I must say that he has not had a chance to consider these matters fully. I think we would achieve the same result by deleting all words after the words ‘sessional orders’ in the motion which he originally suggested and inserting the words ‘and that such sessional orders become motions for amendment to the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months or on the first day of sitting thereafter’. That would mean that there would be a motion, and if anybody wanted to say that he did not think that the sessional orders had succeeded during the trial period he could do so. That would meet Senator Poyser’s point about the Senate not sitting and my point about giving the Committee of the Whole a chance to vote on each item if any senator is not happy with it at the end of the period.
– Those words have the same effect. Therefore I am prepared to move:
That the changes have effect initially as sessional orders and that such sessional orders become motions for amendment to the Standing Orders at the end of 6 months or on the first day of sitting thereafter.
I will move as an addendum: -and that a motion for the adoption of the sessional orders agreed to on11 February be an order of the day in August next.
– I suggest that it is dangerous to name the month. We do not always meet in August. I suggest that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s words ‘at the end of 6 months or on the first sitting day thereafter’ stand.
– I will accept that.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That any changes made to the Standing Orders be given a trial period as sessional orders, and that the question of their adoption as Standing Orders be an order of the day for the first sitting day after 6 months.
– The Committee wishes to direct its attention to item 1 .
Seantor DOUGLAS McCLELLAND (New South Wales- Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (4.50)- I direct the Committee’s attention to item 1, which relates to the general aspect of questions being directed to senators who are chairmen of committees. At question time from time to time questions without notice have been directed to senators in their role as chairmen of Senate standing or select committees. The Standing Orders Committee has considered this matter, and on behalf of the Committee I will move a motion in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation. The Committee report states:
With the development of the committee system, a practice has grown up of directing questions without notice to the chairmen of committees relating to the activities of their committees. The committee recommends that all such questions should be upon notice, unless by leave of the Senate. To formalise practice, and give effect to the recommendation, the following new Standing Order is recommended: 98a. Questions may be put to the Chairman of a Committee relating to the activities of that Committee: Provided that-
unless leave of the Senate is granted for them to be asked without notice, such questions may only be asked upon notice;
they shall not attempt to interfere with the Committee ‘s work or anticipate its report; and
the Chairman shall answer such questions only on the basis that he answers on behalf of the Committee and not himself. ‘
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (4.52)-I want to say at the outset that good work has been done by the Standing Orders Committee. With your indulgence, Mr Chairman, perhaps I could get a little off the target of item 1 . As one who sat on the Standing Orders Committee and tried to convene meetings of the Committee for many years I think that much has been accomplished in the work behind the 2 reports that have been presented today. I am in favour of a new standing order 98A., and I support the view that questions can be put to a chairman of a committee. I will deal with paragraph (a) of proposed new standing order 98A. in a moment, but I agree with paragraph (b), which states that questions shall not attempt to interfere with the Committee’s work or anticipate its report. Paragraph (c) states that the chairman shall answer such questions only on the basis that he answers on behalf of the committee and not of himself. There is a slightly grey area in paragraph (c) because in answering a question he may presume to anticipate the report of a committee and he may find subsequently that a member of the committee will repudiate him. I am not going to the barricades on that, but I am most concerned with the proposition which states:
Questions may be put to the chairman of a committee relating to the activities of that committee: Provided that-
unless leave of the Senate is granted for them to be asked without notice, such questions may only be asked upon notice;
I hold the view quite strongly that such questions should be asked only upon notice. We all know from our experience in the Senate- some of us over a longer period than others- that the asking for, giving, receiving or rejecting leave is of essence capricious because, as we know, under
Standing Orders it requires only one dissenting voice for leave to be refused. Situations may develop from that circumstance. I could quote from Hansard what has happened in the past, but I do not want to do that because it would tend to destroy a little of the non-party, cooperative manner in which we are all handling these submissions. Let me talk in a hypothetical way. Let us take as a hypothetical proposition something which all honourable senators will know in their own hearts could have happened.
– Or certainly will happen.
-Or certainly will happen. I am trying to be very gentle on this issue. Let us assume that a senator asks a question of the chairman of a committee. Mr President will say: ‘Is leave granted?’ Everybody may be in quite a happy and responsive mood, as mostly we are in the Senate, and leave may be granted. But another senator who is not happy with the committee or the answer that the chairman of the committee gives- this will emerge subsequently in a debate- may want to ask a difficult question of the chairman of the committee. It might not even be supplementary to the answer but probably would be supplementary to bring out another point which the chairman has not brought out. When the President, as he is bound to do, asks whether leave is granted, in some capricious way one voice could say no. So we could get a distortion which would in essence do damage to the good work that the committee may be doing. I move as an amendment:
That in paragraph (a) of proposed new Standing Order 98a. leave out the words: ‘unless leave of the Senate is granted for them to be asked without notice, ‘.
Paragraph (a) would then read: such Questions may only be asked upon notice:
Proposed new Standing Order 98a would then read:
Questions may be put to the chairman of a committee relating to the activities of that committee: Provided that-
such Questions may only be asked upon notice:
Paragraphs (b) and (c) would then follow as they appear in the report. I think that in any event that would help to remove a little of the difficulty that could emerge under paragraph (c). As I say, I am not going to the barricades to delete paragraph (c). All our committees are non- party committees in a sense that they work as a team and politics never intrude into the committee work, but it would help to strengthen paragraph (c) if any question to the chairman of a committee were put on notice. Quite properly the chairman of the committee would have an informal meeting of the committee that day, and with the leave of the Senate, he would be able to give an answer the next day. I am frightened of some questions being asked and leave being given, and some subsequent questions, even supplementary questions, being asked and for some peculiar reason- somebody may have a sore ear or may not be happy with the question asked or the answer given by the chairman- leave not being granted. That would do irreparable damage to the work the committees are doing. If I may say so, the committees of the Senate are doing wonderful work. I do not think we should put them at any risk. We should not put a chairman at any risk of embarrassment because leave is given to answer one question and then capriciously leave is not given to answer a second question.
-I second the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I see the situation slightly differently from the way he does. Nevertheless I believe that his objections are valid. I see the situation another way. Someone may wish to ask a question of a chairman of a committee and the Senate may give leave for the question to be asked, but then the chairman of the commitee may be in possession of facts which influence him not to answer the question. The chairman would be placed in an invidious position in as much as the Senate had said in effect that the chairman could be asked questions. The chairman could be in possession of facts but he may not be able to answer the question. He would then be placed in an embarrassing situation for the reasons that have been outlined. I believe the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is quite appropriate.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I do so because his amendment, if agreed to, would mean that questions may be directed to chairmen of committees only upon notice. The situation will not arise where ad hoc or on the spur of the moment questions are directed to a chairman of a committee. This in itself is important because one can get a chain reaction of one question following upon another question. This could place the chairman of a committee in an awkward position. I think the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson gives strength to proposed new standing order 98a. (c) which states: the Chairman shall answer such Questions only on the basis that he answers on behalf of the Committee and not of himself.
If a question is put on notice the chairman has time to look at that question. If he is concerned about it he can discuss it and consult with members of his committee before he gives an answer.
I think that this is a very important matter because the chairman is responsible not only to the committee but to his position as chairman of that committee. I think it would be most unfortunate if, in trying to give honourable senators the opportunity of finding out the progress of the workings of a committee, we tended to place the chairman and members of the committee in an embarrassing situation. I think the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson strengthens and protects the position of both the chairman and members of any committee.
– 1 am opposed to both the motion and the amendment. It is a long time since we have had a discussion on the Standing Orders. Possibly we have a number of new honourable senators who do not know the history of the Standing Orders and alterations which have been made to them. I have been a member of the Senate for 12 years and I have spent much of that time opposing recommendations made by the Senate Standing Committee on Standing Orders. Most of those recommendations attempted to take away the freedom that honourable senators had in this place when I first came here. I want to refer further to that. I realise that my greatest opponent in trying to preserve the rights of honourable senators is no longer in the Senate. When we discussed this matter in the past I found that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson mostly agreed with my opponents. I thought, for a moment, that today we were getting on very well and that there was a change in the position, but I think the amendment now moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson makes the position even worse than it is at the present time.
An important aspect of this question is that we should alter the Standing Orders only when it has been discovered, by the test of time, that they are not efficient. Those Standing Orders which have been well thought out have been successful. Standing Orders should be altered only when they have been abused. That is the only occasion on which we should attempt to change the Standing Orders. To ask questions of chairmen of committees is not new. Standing Order 98 states that questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs, and to other senators relating to any Bill, motion, or other matter connected with the business on the notice paper of which such senators may have charge.
Under that Standing Order honourable senators may ask questions of the chairman of a committee.
If I hear a report about something a committee may be doing and if I wish to ask the chairman a question about it, why should I not have the right to do so? If I want the information I think I should be given it. It may be of benefit to the chairman. On one occasion Senator Rae, who was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, was asked some questions which suggested that he was holding up a report of the committee so that it would not be released before an election. If the position were that that question had to be put on notice one would have the right to say that Senator Rae had been asked the question and had not answered it. On the occasion to which I have referred Senator Rae had the opportunity to exonerate himself.
– If the forms of the Senate were such that he had to put the question on notice he would be putting himself at dire risk to make a statement like that, would he not?
– He may answer it the next day.
– Yes, but he may not answer it the next day. Therefore he must be given the opportunity to exonerate himself. Such a question may be asked on the last day of the session. If the chairman did not have an opportunity to answer on that day that fact could be used by some unscrupulous person in an election campaign. If an honourable senator is the chairman of a committee why should he not stand and answer a question asked by another honourable senator who wishes to know what is happening within that committee.
The motion moved by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) could give an occasional right to ask questions- as Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson says, when the Senate feels pleasantly disposed to give leave. If proposed standing order 98A. is inserted it will take away the right of honourable senatorswhether friendly disposed ornot- to ask questions of a chairman of a committee. Something might be said in the Press which somewhat belittles an individual or the activities of a committee. Surely we should have the arrangement whereby we can clarify the position. I agree that we should not have to ask for leave. The amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is that such questions may be asked only upon notice unless leave of the Senate is granted for them to be asked without notice.
I think that the chairman of a committee, who is responsible for the committee, has the same right as a Minister to choose how he answers any questions put to him. If he wants to say something which implicates the committee, that is his concern. He has to make the decision as to how he should answer any questions put to him. Members of Parliament should not be stopped from obtaining information they regard as vital. I think that the procedure of placing such questions on notice is entirely wrong. It is further taking away the rights of honourable senators. I hope that both the motion moved by Senator Douglas McClelland and the amendment moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson will be defeated.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (5.8)- If you, Mr Chairman, will entertain my rising to my feet, I would like specifically to answer the question raised by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). I admit most frankly and most freely that Senator Cavanagh, in the years that I have known him in the Senate, has sought vehemently- perhaps more than any other honourable senator- to maintain the rights of honourable senators. Senator Cavanagh learnt how necessary this was in opposition. He, of course, finds himself curbed, I suppose, from time to time. He made the implicit admission a moment ago that when a Minister answers a question he may answer it in his own way. Having said that, I think that the fallacy of Senator Cavanagh ‘s argument can be seen and that his argument falls to the ground. He equates the chairman of a committee with a Minister of State who is responsible to the Senate. A chairman is not responsible to the Senate. A chairman is responsible to his committee and it is the committee which is responsible to the Senate. I think that is the vital difference. It is the committee which is responsible to the Senate and not the chairman. The chairman is responsible to his committee.
That was the essence of my rulings when I had the opportunity to sit in the chair. As a result of certain questions being directed to chairmen of committees I ruled that a committee chairman should not be expected to answer questions in the Senate but to express the view of the committee itself when the matter had been brought to the attention of the committee. He could then respond to the Senate expressing the views of the committee and not his own views. I think that the attempt to retain this Standing Order is valid. I think the committee chairmen must be protected.
They can be protected only if honourable senators acknowledge that the committee is responsible to the Senate and the chairman is responsible to the committee. I recommend that Senator Cavanagh ‘s argument should not be accepted. Of course, the other question raises endless possibilities. For example, when does the committee respond to the question asked? We all know, from sitting on one side or other of the Senate, that if Ministers of State do not wish to answer questions they jolly well do not answer them. It is not a matter of whether they will answer in their own way. They take their time about answering questions. Only this afternoon I received an answer to a question which I asked back in July 1974.
– It is a case of King Bruce and the spider.
-That is right. We have to wait and wait. Sometimes the cave is cold and draughty. Because of our long experience in the Senate we can raise all sorts of points. We can raise a point in reply to Senator Young. When he advocated his support for Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, as I listened to him, I made the note: ‘Well, when will the question be answered?’ Perhaps the Senate would like to pursue that a little further. I think that we have to take the situation as it exists at the present moment, give it an opportunity of 6 month’s trial which is the basis of the ultimate paragraph in the report of the Standing Orders Committee, see whether it does work and then, if necessary, take up Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s argument or the argument adduced by Senator Cavanagh. At a later stage the Senate will have an opportunity of either introducing a new standing order or amending the standing order in a way which will find agreement among all honourable senators. While admitting some substance to the arguments of the honourable senators who have spoken against the proposed amendment, in net balance I suggest that,after nearly 10 years of struggling to try to get some sort of an analysis made of the Standing Orders, which are a hangover from an earlier time when the problem confronted the Senate, and which were not anything of the order and nature they are today, we give these proposed standing orders a go. If necessary we can cancel them later.
– May I quickly respond to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, and to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I acknowledge that Senator Cavanagh and I sat on the Senate Standing Orders Committee for many years and acted in a non-party way, as we are acting now. We have had great debates on Standing Orders and on the rights and privileges of senators inherent in them. When the honourable senator was speaking in opposition to my amendment he brought out a point. Had he settled for that and not for a complete rejection of my amendment I think I might have tried to work on him a bit. I would have pointed out that this proposed standing order makes flesh of one and fowl of another in terms of the implication of leave. It would have been equitable if the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) had said: ‘Let us have the same rights for both. If a question is directed to a chairman and leave is given, all subsequent questions on the same day to the chairman should not require leave’. But it is the inequity which is my basic objection to the proposed standing order. That is whyI am taking out the matter of’ by leave ‘.
I come to the remarks of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. He said that there was delay in providing answers. But the inequity which I see in the proposed standing order is that we could have the situation where a question might be answered the next day but there could be a delay in answering a subsequent question in perpetuity because an honourable senator is refused leave every time he seeks to answer. So there is a complete delay. The first question could be asked. There might be a little delay in answering but some other honourable senator may not even ask his question because he does not get leave. This is the thing that frightens me. It is true that we will give the proposal 6 months’ trial. That is fair enough. I agree with that. I am prepared to go quietly now and have a vote on the matter, if a vote is necessary. But I think we should have the situation so that all honourable senators are equal. It should not be a situation where some honourable senators can have leave and some cannot. The logical answer is for the matter to be put on notice.
-I desire to support the amendment because I believe this is the only really sensible parliamentary way of dealing with the situation. There are many times when somebody would come along to a chairman of a committee and say: ‘Tomorrow I will ask you such and such a question.’ That is the same as we do to Ministers. Honourable senators on both sides of the chamber do this. We get an answer that day. If we do not give a Minister a tip the question is put on notice and it takes weeks to get an answer. As of today 95 questions out of 428 are unanswered since 9 July last year. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has pointed out his fear about obtaining leave. If Senator Milliner has to ask for leave to ask me as the chairman of a committee a question and if I do not want him to ask it I say no and the President says: ‘Leave is not granted. Put the question on notice.’ Under this proposed standing order the chairman of a committee has to fulfil the rights of paragraph (c). He has the opportunity to refuse to answer straight away or to give an answer. I believe that that is the right way of going about the matter.
– I rise again to say a few brief words because it seems that my statements received some criticism. I think honourable senators are only playing with words to say that there is different accountability to the Senate between a Minister and a chairman of a committee. That is simply hogwash. Under standing order 98 there is a responsibility on any honourable senator who is in charge of certain business. It need not be a chairman of a committee. Any honourable senator has the right to answer a question in relation to a matter of which he is in charge. Some honourable senators want an exemption. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson says that we are denying anyone the right to get up and answer a question off the cuff. He says that because of the inequalities we will give the right to no one. I still make the plea for those who can escape the wroth of the Senate to have their right to ask a question accepted. I also point out to the Senate that, if something arises tomorrow at a committee and if it is imperative that we should have an answer on that day, we should have the machinery so that that question can be asked.
– In fact we do not have that when we have to ask for leave because it needs only one honourable senator to say that another honourable senator cannot have leave.
– I know that is right. It may be that if the Senate were convinced that the question were of such public importance that it should be answered, arrangements could be made to give leave. The honourable senator knows that arrangements are made between the Government and the Opposition. ‘Arrangements’ is the right word and not ‘deals’. The honourable senator would find that there would be occasions when leave could and should be given. Senator Marriott says that he wants to preserve the chairman’s right to dodge his obligation by saying that he will not answer. Of course he can do that in answering. Senator Rae did that. He said: ‘I want to refer that to my committee. Therefore I ask that the question be placed on notice.’ That is easily done. Any honourable senator has the right to get up and ask a question about something on which he wants information or which is propaganda. He has a right to do that in this case. But honourable senators want to take that right away from him now while the person who answers the question will have the box seat by answering how he likes. Of course, all sorts of suggestions could be thrown around that the chairman of the committee was afraid to answer because he had been 2 months providing a reply.
– Do you think we should have questions on notice as we have at present?
– Yes. I think a question on notice is essential. It seeks information from the person of whom it is asked when that person has not got the information at hand. For the sake of accuracy I think that questions on notice are essential but I think that the person of whom the question is asked should be the one who decides whether it goes on notice. The questioner, because he knows the details but wants a more accurate reply, may still decide to get a more accurate and detailed reply by putting the question on notice. There is a choice. Without this proposed alteration we offer to the chairman of a committee the right to put a question on notice, but now it is sought to give him a privilege which we do not give to a senator who has charge of a matter. At present we can ask him questions.
Some honourable senators are trying to excuse this proposal by saying that it is only on 6 months trial. It would be unusual for a question to be asked of a chairman of a committee within the next 6 months. In all probability there will not be a question asked and certain honourable senators then will say that the system operated satisfactorily. There is not a mischief which we seek to remedy. Rules are being inserted just to fill up a rule book. That is the whole purpose of this proposal. Those concerned cannot say where there has been an abuse of the system or where there is a need for a rule. They say only: ‘We have a rule which could possibly receive a different interpretation from President to President’. He who is least governed is best governed. The more rules there are, the greater are the restrictions that we place on senators. It is unfortunate that most of the Senate has to come in and vote without knowledge of the debate that has gone on, but I hope they will not take the attitude of further restricting the rights of senators especially backbenchers.
– Standing order 98 as it exists states:
After Notices have been given Questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs; and to other Senators, relating to any Bill, Motion, or other public matter connected with the business on the Notice Paper, of which such Senators may have charge.
The Committee will appreciate that there has been in recent times a tremendous development of the Senate committee system. It was with this in mind that the Standing Orders Committee approached this question. All I can do in reply is adopt the arguments put forward by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and Senator Marriott who, of course, is not a member of the Standing Orders Committee. I emphasise that this proposal is for a trial period of 6 months. This is a genuine attempt by members of this Senate, representing the various cross shades of political opinion in this chamber, to bring up to date and modernise the existing Standing Orders and, where necessary, improve upon them. After the 6 months trial period senators can then express an opinion on whether the alterations are to be confirmed, amended or deleted. We deliberately included all 3 aspects of proposed standing order 98 (a) after full and detailed consideration. We wanted to protect the right of the individual to seek leave to ask a question. Any member of the Senate at present has that right. He has the right to seek leave to ask a question on any matter.
– Without notice.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDWithout notice. Whether that right is given to him is another matter, but at present any senator has a right to seek leave to ask a question without notice. If we adopted Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson ‘s attitude we would be depriving him of that right.
– No, because he could still put that question on notice.
-But he would be deprived of the right to ask it without notice.
– We are not depriving him of the right to ask a question.
-We would be depriving him of the right to seek leave to ask a question without notice. We want to protect that right. We want to protect the right of a chairman of a committee, at the time a member seeks leave to ask a question, to determine whether the senator should be given the right.
We also want to protect the rights of the individual members of a committee who might believe that before the chairman replies to any question he or she, the member of that committee, should be consulted by the chairman.
– That is why we give notice.
-That is why we give notice, of course. But in proposed standing order 98A. (a) we have included the words ‘unless leave of the Senate is granted’ for the question to be asked without notice. All we say is that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson can seek leave to ask a question without notice of a chairman of a committee, and if leave is granted he can ask that question but that if leave is not granted he can place the question on the notice paper. It protects the right of a member of this Senate to ask a question. It gives a right to the chairman of a committee to refuse leave for a question to be asked, and it also gives to an individual member of the committee the right to say that he wants to be consulted before the chairman of the committee of which he is a member gives an answer. They are very important questions. The proposed sessional order has been designed to protect the rights of all members of the Senate. It is for a trial period of 6 months and I propose that the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee be agreed to by this Committee.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.27)- In view of what the Minister has said, I think we will have to vote on this proposal. Under standing order 98 as it exists a senator does not need leave and if 98 A. (a) were deleted altogether we would have a situation where there would not be a conflict over whether a senator should or should not get leave. I am glad that the Minister read standing order 98 because it provides that leave is not required. One simply asks a question in the ordinary way.I think we should resolve the matter by way of vote. It is true that the proposal is only for 6 months trial butI do not like the idea of having kissing going by favour in the sense that one person can get leave and another cannot. We all come equal to this place. Incidentally, we would have to seek leave before we state our question. This is the point. Some poor person could have a question of the nature indicated by Senator Cavanagh but if somebody says ‘no’ when he seeks leave to ask if he does not get a chance to say what it is. In the circumstances I would like to get this question of leave taken out of the motion.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I now proceed to item 2 of the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee which relates to the question of how divisions may be called for. Again I indicate that this, if agreed to, is to be taken as a sessional order and that it will be for a trial period of, say, 6 months. Standing order 164 in practice has been interpreted to mean that only those honourable senators challenging the Chair’s opinion may call for a division; or, in other words, that those agreeing with the decision of the Chair cannot force a division on the minority if it does not want one. Therefore, in order to clarify the practice it is proposed that there be the following new standing order: 164A: A division shall be called for only by Senators who have given their voices against the majority as declared by the President.
I think that the terminology speaks for itself. I move:
– I am worried by this proposed new standing order because I do not think a correct interpretation of standing order 164 is given in the supporting paper. It is my understanding that senators call for a division because there is a tradition that in a parliament, when so required, members stand and be counted. There are many motions moved and amendments made in relation to which it is the desire of an individual, a party or a group that the public know how every member in the Senate voted or did not vote. Therefore, I believe that we would be giving away the right of any honourable senator to make the Senate members stand and be counted to have it go into the records whether such members voted and, if they did vote, how they voted.
There is another point that I believe to be in favour of my supposition. It is this: When a division is not called, the vote is taken on the voices. A senator could receive a letter such as one I received recently abusing me up hill and down dale. The letter stated that although I was Deputy Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures I did not vote for the adoption of the metric system. This was because the report was adopted by the unanimous vote of the Senate. No one called for a division and no names appeared in the record. I had to write a long letter explaining parliamentary procedures. Therefore, I believe- I do not want to labour the point- that we must retain the right to have the names of those who vote this way or that way, or who absent themselves from voting, put in the record.
– I want to make a few remarks which are in complete agreement with what Senator Marriott has said. I think that the Hansard record is the place to record the actions of honourable senators when they are in the Senate chamber. This is a public document compiled to enable those whom we represent to know our behaviour in the Senate chamber. If I am on the successful side of a vote taken in division, I want to prove that I am on the successful side. Of course, matters such as this one arise upon which there is no party instruction. But one could imagine the position more in relation to a Bill such as the Family Law Bill with the different sides pressuring honourable senators. They would do so with the knowledge that a certain senator, because of his religious beliefs, would vote for such and such a proposal. In fact, the senator may not vote that way and he can prove how he voted at any time. We amended this standing order because of that. Honourable senators know that divisions are not called for to see who has the majority in the voting. Everyone knows that when a vote is taken here we have a division to record how senators vote.
– As happened in relation to the Family Law Bill.
-We had a free vote in relation to that Bill. But honourable senators can remember occasions upon which there was not a free vote in the Senate and, for instance, the Opposition and the Government might have agreed upon something and we had the opposition of the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. They would call for a division knowing that the result of it would be 55 votes to 5 votes. The division was called only for the purpose of having the vote recorded in Hansard, and so it should be.
Then we had the position that the Standing Orders stated that more than one senator had to call for a division. Divisions have been called in which there have been only 2 senators voting the one way. But such senators called for a division because they wanted their votes recorded. We had an exciting experience in January 1 966 when only one senator wanted to vote against a proposal. He wanted his vote recorded. We found that under the Standing Orders he could not do so. So we altered the Standing Orders to make provision for his vote to be recorded in Hansard and he voted against the proposal. We have always acted on the principle that the Senate is a public forum and that what is done here shall be known to the people who elect us. Senator Marriott raised the case of someone accusing him of not voting a certain way because that person did not see his name recorded in Hansard as voting that way. I suppose that it could be said that honourable senators could be satisfied if they voted on the successful side in deciding a question. But one is not satisfied with that position. For example, we want to prove to the wine growers of the Murray region how Senator Young voted in relation to the wine tax. The Standing Orders Committee wants to deny us this right. The whole records of Hansard are for that very purpose. The Committee wants to take away that right and hide the actions of members of the Senate. It is not right.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.37)- I am in some difficulty in the light of what I have heard in the debate. It is a bit of a paradox that the proposed Standing Order states that senators, having won a vote on the voices, cannot call for a division because they have won it. I suppose that that is fairly natural under normal circumstances. If a vote is won on the voices as declared by the President or the Chairman of Committees, the senators who have won the vote will not say that they want a division. But there are circumstances in which a division may be wanted. A situation could arise in which members of a senator’s party have spoken against that senator and then they may shelter under the fact that the vote is taken on the voices. I suppose that there is some truth in what Senator Cavanagh and Senator Marriott have said, namely, that any senator has a right to call for a division. There could be a whole variety of reasons why such a senator would want to call for a division.
– No one is denying the right of a senator to call for a division.
-Yes, they are. The proposed new standing order 164a states: a Division shall be calledfor only by Senators who have given their voices against the majority as declared by the President.
– That is right.
-But the situation could arise in which a senator who isan ‘aye’ voter and nota ‘ no’ voter may want to have his vote recorded even though the Chair has declared the result in favour of the ‘ayes’. That person may also wish to record the vote of some others who are sheltering under the fact that the vote is taken on the voices. I appreciate the wording of the proposed new Standing Order a little, but I think that the position is a little difficult. Circumstances could arise in which there was a little internecine warfare inside the party and it might be desirable that a vote be taken.
– Flush them out, you say.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (5.39)- I would like to make some observations on this matter. This whole question of when a division shall be called or when it shall not be called is a most vexing one. The traditions of parliament for hundreds of years, involved in the problems of the nation as they are- in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or wherever it is- have been that parliament does not always force a division on a question it carries a great part of its business on the voices. Such questions are carried on the voices simply because the views of parliamentarians are known to each other and they are willing to have the business despatched by the cry. That is why the presiding officer says: ‘Those of that opinion say “aye”.’ He is not ordering a division. The presiding officer says ‘Those of that opinion say “aye”, to the contrary “no”,’ and then he makes the declaration, for example, that the ‘ayes ‘ have it. I ask honourable senators to bear in mind that Parliament, as I mentioned earlier, desires to carry a lot of its business on the voices. The Senate decides quite often to carry its business on the voices. When a couple of senators indicate to the President or the Chairman that they want a division they are in fact saying that the Presiding Officer or the Chairman has given the wrong decision. A request for a division is, in essence, saying that the Presiding Officer or the Chairman of Committees has given the wrong call. That is the essence. It has been a ruling of many Presiding Officers for years and one to which I finally submittedI thought the ruling was wrong but experience dictated to me that in the end the tradition is right- that those who are calling for a division must put their foot where their tongue is. That is the essence of the matter. If honourable senators want to force a division they can go to the appropriate side of the House. Therefore they just cannot fractiously divide the Senate. That is the reason for the proposed standing order which is before the Committee at present.I suggest to honourable senators that if they agree to this proposal they will not find their rights in any way destroyed. They can always get a division. They can always put their foot where their mouth is and relieve the Presiding Officer, the Temporary Chairman of Committees, the Deputy President or whoever is in the Chair in an extraordinarily difficult situation. I reinforce the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee and ask the Committee of the Whole to adopt this proposed standing order.
– Is not the plain fact of life that a person who is in favour of a given motion and desires to have his name recorded as being in favour of that motion has no right at all to insist upon a division being taken? That, I think, is not just. There comes the occasion when, for a particular reason, a given member may desire to have recorded very clearly how the vote went, particularly as it concerns him. He has no right at all to do that unless he agrees with the minority.
– Like Senator Sir Magnus Cormack I completely argue against and reject the assertion that by asking for a division after the Presiding Officer has indicated that either the ayes or the noes have it an honourable senator is challenging the hearing, the sense or the fairness of the President. I was going to say it is utter nonsense but I will be kinder than that; that is something with which I cannot agree. My reason for calling for a division is to find out which honourable senators are present and which way they are voting. There is the run-off of whether the Chairman or the Presiding Officer was right in his decision. It is wrong to expect the Presiding Officer to trust his hearing facilities. If the Presiding Officer had to do so in many cases he would never give a decision because honourable senators hardly ever indicate their attitude to the question unless their tempers are frayed. For goodness sake leave standing order 164 as it is and interpret it as it is. It should not be interpreted in the way other people would wish to have it interpreted.
-I draw the Committee’s attention to standing order 164 which states that the purpose of a division is to challenge the ruling of the President, as was stated by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. The standing order reads:
Whenever the President states, on putting a Question, that in his opinion the Ayes or the Noes (as the case may be) have it, his opinion may be challenged by Senators calling Divide’.
– There is little that I can add to the argument that has already been put by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. The honourable senator, being a member of the Standing Orders
Committee, has merely expressed the point of view which indeed has the unanimous agreement of the members of the Standing Orders Committee. The Committee has been informed that in no other Parliament that follows the Westminster system can the majority force a division on the minority if the minority does not want such a division and in fact if it does not call for one. In no other Parliament in the world that pursues the Westminster system- this applies to State parliaments throughout Australia and to the House of Commons- can the winning side force a division on the losing side.
The principle of calling for a division is for the purpose of virtually challenging the ruling given by the Chair in declaring as to the way that the greatest number of people voted. In order not to find out who has voted with whom or who has voted for a particular issue we are virtually declaring the right of the minority to question the decision of the Presiding Officer. All that the Committee is doing by this proposed new standing order is to carry out, in effect, what has been custom and practice for a number of years and which, as I say, has been adopted in all other parliaments which follow the Westminster system.
– Did we not amend it in 1 966 to read as it is now?
– It may have been amended, but I am advised that the principle nonetheless was not changed. It has always been custom and practice that the right to challenge the Chairman’s decision and call for a division rests with the minority. This proposal is for a trial period of 6 months. We are clarifying the position to conform to custom and practice. Therefore I suggest that the Committee’s recommendation be agreed to.
– Before I put the motion I point out that the Minister on 2 occasions used the term ‘6 months’. The same principle as was adopted previously about the matter being put at a future sitting still applies.
– I agree.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
– We are now dealing with item 3 of the report relating to the duration of division and quorum bells. The following amendments to the Standing Orders are recommended in this regard:
Standing orders 54, 57, 58, 173, 174 and 275, leave out two minutes ‘, insert ‘three minutes ‘.
Insert the following new Standing Order: 174A. When successive Divisions aretaken, and there is no intervening debate after the first Division, the Bells for the ensuing Division shall be rung for one minute only. ‘
Therefore I move:
The Standing Orders Committee gave detailed consideration to this matter. Because of the extensions to the Parliament House building some rooms are located some distance from the Senate chamber. Honourable senators who have been in committee rooms Nos1 and 2 on the House of Representatives side and have found that they have had 2 minutes in which to get to this chamber for a division have felt that they should have been in training for the Olympic Games in order to get to this chamber in time. The Committee recommended that the ringing of division and quorum bells should be extended from the present 2 minutes to 3 minutes. However, the Committee has also recommended that time could be saved by ringing the division bells for only one minute when there are successive divisions without intervening debate, such as when the question is put following the application of the closure. We all have had the experience where successive divisions have taken place in this chamber and on each occasion we have had to sit here and wait for the ringing of the bells for another 2 minutes before the next division could be taken. We believe that the implementation of this recommendation would be a practical way of trying out a new experiment until such time as it can be written permanently into the Standing Orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Item 4 relates to the suspension of Standing Orders to eleminate delays in the passage of Bills. The Standing Orders Committee has suggested that its recommendations should be agreed to, again for this trial period. In its fourth report of the session 1 970-72, the Standing Orders Committee referred to the practice of moving in connection with the passage of a Bill this motion:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Whilst the Committee recognises that the Standing Orders were framed in order to prevent surprise and haste, it considers that the continuation of the practice of regularly seeking suspension of the Standing Orders in connection with the consideration of Bills that are received from the House of Representatives is undesirable and that the procedure for expediting the passage of such Bills, when necessary, should be regulated by the Standing Orders. Accordingly, after the Standing Orders Committee had given due consideration to the matter, it made the following recommendation to the Committee of the Senate as a Whole: 23 1A. With respect to Bills received from the House of Representatives, a Motion, that the Bill may be taken through all or its remaining stages without delay, may be moved by a Minister of the Crown at any time without Notice. Such a resolution shall suspend any requirements for the three readings of a Bill to take place on separate sitting days and Standing Orders 2 10 and 2 15 shall not apply.
So far as Bills that are initiated in the Senate are concerned, it is considered that any necessary expedition of their consideration should be sought by leave or by a suspension of the Standing Orders, as at present. The point of view of the Standing Orders Committee is that this constant moving of the motion that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a Bill being passed through all its stages without delay becomes a bit repetitive and cumbersome. We suggest that the new procedure is worth while trying. Therefore I move:
– From memory, when a Minister has a Bill to present to this chamber he stands up and moves the motion that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay. The person occupying the Chair puts the motion and he says: ‘Those in favour say aye, to the contrary no, the ayes have it’. The Bill is read a first time. The Minister then makes his second reading speech and the debate is adjourned.
– Or not adjourned.
– Or not adjourned, as the Opposition wishes. If we want to be time saving and not time serving, I cannot follow how we will benefit from this suggestion. I ask in all seriousness whether the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) will give us a hypothetical example of how he would introduce a Bill that would be able to be passed through all its stages without delay. How can you save time? I just cannot follow it.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (8.8)- Mr Chairman, if you will permit me to make an observation on this matter, it seems to me that the present practice- and I am speaking personally on this matter because I did not raise it with the Standing Orders Committee- is an irrelevancy because it is the duty of the Presiding Officer to prevent the Senate from being taken by surprise, and the Presiding Officer is able historically to discharge the duty of preventing the Senate from being taken by surprise because any Bills coming from the House of Representatives come by message, and the messages are directed to the President of the Senate. By agreement between the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the custom is that the messages repose with the Clerk at the Table who holds them, as it were, in custody for the President.
The reality is that the Senate should be, and undoubtedly is, protected by its President because a message cannot be read to the Senate except by the President who is the only recipient of messages from the House of Representatives and the only person who can convey messages to the House of Representatives. I agree that what is recommended would cut out what might amount to circumlocution. If there is any concern as to whether the Senate can be protected against surprise, the fact is that the Presiding Officer is there to protect the Senate and in fact should protect the Senate. I doubt whether any President would take any other attitude than that it is his duty to protect the Senate.
– All that is proposed is the elimination of 23 words which I have heard used in regard to every Bill presented in the last 2 1 Vi years, and the formal motion which follows its presentation. It is traditional. I cannot remember any other circumstances in which they have been said. It is traditional to use the words: ‘that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay’. Then honourable senators are asked whether they are in favour and the motion is declared carried or not carried. I do not know how many seconds it takes to say those words but that can be timed if someone wants to do so. Through the years in this Parliament the Government has had the right to proceed or not to proceed with a Bill. But if we remove those words we will be flying blind because we do not know whether that can happen. We would not know whether so much of the Standing Orders would be suspended as to enable the Government to push a Bill through or whether the Government would go through the normal procedure. Traditionally those words have been used and then the Leader of the Opposition has been permitted to move the adjournment of the debate on the Bill until the next day. Is that not the procedure?
– That is what happens.
-That is what happens. I have hear those words used. In fact as a Cabinet Minister and a Minister of State for 9 years I had to use those words every time I introduced a Bill. That meant that the Government, or the Minister handling the Bill, had the options. We all knew that by the use of those words the Minister had the options. Now it is proposed that they be taken out so that we will not know whether the Minister will use the options. An honourable senator may want to move a motion for the adjournment of the debate after the second reading of a Bill when suddenly, out of the blue, something else may happen. The Minister in charge of the Bill may say: Oh well, when we get to a certain stage the debate will be adjourned until the next day’. We knew that that would happen because the words are in the Standing Orders. If what is proposed in this motion is accepted it will mean that we will not know what will happen. We will be flying blind. We will probably think that the ordinary procedure will be followed so that the Leader of the Opposition or somebody else can move a motion for the adjournment of the debate at the second reading stage or when we go into committee. If what is suggested is accepted we will never know what is to happen until it happens.
– The Minister has to move a motion that the Bill be taken through all its stages without delay.
-Yes. I would not go to the barricades over this proposals either because I think it is one of the least important that our Standing Orders Committee has brought forward. It has been brought forward only because some Ministers do not like the jargon. I have heard a Leader of the Government say: ‘Let us cut out the jargon’. The fact is that those words were inserted to warn honourable senators that they may face a situation when a Bill could go straight through without delay. The passage of this proposal will mean that they will not have any warning. If that is what honourable senators want I will not vote against it but I would like to see the standing order left as it is.
– I think I probably would be repeating myself if I replied to what has been put. So far as Senator Marriott is concerned, it is not so much a question of the saving of time that is involved but the saving of a repetition of words. We are trying to avoid the constant and, we believe, undesirable necessity for the suspension of Standing Orders and the usual procedure that is involved in moving that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would enable certain things to be done. We are seeking to have the usual procedure regulated and recognised by the Standing Orders. As I have said, there is no question of saving time so far as the 2 procedures are concerned, the existing procedure and what is proposed. Really, the 2 procedures achieve the same result. We are trying to regularise or formalise within the framework of the Standing Orders the procedure that now exists for the suspension of Standing Orders. What is proposed will be moved at the time the usual motion is moved that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay. We merely suggest that instead of doing that in a repetitive form we formalise the matter by way of proposed new standing order 231a. Therefore I suggest that the Committee adopt the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Item 5 relates to the calling of committee meetings. The Standing Orders Committee considered the question of the calling of meetings of committees and the absence of a rule for the requisitioning of meetings. In order to overcome this problem the Standing Orders Committee suggested proposed new standing order 297a which states: 297a. Notice of meetings subsequent to the first meeting shall be given by the Clerk attending the Committee (a) pursuant to resolution of the Committee, (b) on instructions from the Chairman, or (c) upon a request by a Quorum of Members of the Committee: Provided that, in Committees consisting ofless than seven Senators, the request is made by not less than three Members of the Committee.
It is a matter of determining arrangements for the convening of meetings subsequent to the first meeting of committees. I move:
-The question is that the recommendation contained in Item 5 be agreed to. Honourable senators will be aware of the procedure in relation to their membership of Senate Standing Committees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Chairman, I ask you, or the Minister, whether the Standing Orders Committee considered any other aspects of the Standing Orders.
– There is another report.
– I know there is another report. Did the Committee consider only what is contained in the 2 reports? I have always considered that standing order 28 1 was wrong in its application, and in saying that I am not being critical of the President or yourself. I have been a member of other organisations and I have always believed that the motion, that the question be now put, always had to be moved by someone who had not spoken in the debate. The procedure in the Senate is entirely different. I was appalled when I first came here to hear somebody say some very unkind things about the Opposition or the Government, as the case may be, and then with 2 minutes to go move that the question be put. I think it is entirely wrong because it gives nobody an opportunity to answer what has been said. I am fortified in that belief by reason of the fact that when there was a joint meeting of the 2 Houses that point was made very clear. No one who had spoken in a debate was permitted to move ‘That the question be now put’. It is unfair to this extent -
– It is hit and run.
– Of course it is hit and run. I repeat: In all the organisations with which I have been associated over the years I have not seen it happen yet. I think it is entirely wrong. I was wondering whether the Standing Orders Committee had considered that aspect. Would it be competent for me to move, either now or after we have considered the third report, that the Standing Orders Committee give consideration to this aspect?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster)Perhaps I should have called you to order earlier in your remarks to the Committee. Basically we are dealing with 2 reports from the Standing Orders Committee. Whilst I think it is fair for you to mention one standing order on which you have some comment, I think it would be as well if we considered the 2 reports of the Standing Orders Committee. We are about to commence consideration of the second report which is, in fact, the third report for the 56th session. If your question was whether the Standing Orders Committee had dealt with any other matters, I can assure you that it has dealt at length with a number of standing orders and has been unable to come to finality on many of them. I think your comment, when read in Hansard, will prove a prompting point for the Committee. I think the Manager of Government Business should proceed to the third report, and we will deal with that matter. The comment which you have made can be taken into account by the Standing Orders Committee.
- Senator Milliner could move that a matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. That is perfectly within his right.
– We are not dealing with that at present,
-I take it that I will have an opportunity to move a motion after consideration of the third report.
– You are quite free to do so if you desire.
- Mr Chairman, in response to your remarks and in reply to Senator Milliner, let me add that this debate is on a report of the Standing Orders Committee which is continuously reviewing and considering the Standing Orders, having regard to practices and traditions as they are raised during the year. I think it is fair to say that there was a report of the Standing Orders Committee last year. At that stage I was not a member of the Committee. My friend Senator Cavanagh was a member of the Committee.
– I did a better job than you did in these 2 reports.
– I might have criticised my colleague then, but he should go easy on me now. This matter is under constant review. Finally the matter is one for determination by the Committee of the Whole.
We have dealt with the second report. I come now to the third report for the 56th session. If honourable senators look at the first page of the report they will see the names of the members of the Standing Orders Committee. They were the President, Senator O ‘Byrne; the Chairman of Committees, Senator Webster; the former Leader of the Government in the Senate; the Manager of Government Business in the Senate, myself; the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Withers; Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, who is a former President of the Senate; Senator Drake-Brockman, the Leader of the Australian Country Party and a former Chairman of Committees -
– Are you trying to convince us or to frighten us?
– I have frightened myself. The other members were Senator Gietzelt; Senator Greenwood, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition; Senator Mcintosh and Senator Poyser. So honourable senators can see that a wide cross-section of opinion in the Senate is represented on the Standing Orders Committee.
I come now to item 1 in the third report. It relates to answers to questions on notice and their incorporation in Hansard. The Standing Orders Committee suggested in this instance the deletion of standing orders 102 and 103 and the insertion of new standing orders. Standing order 102 states:
A Senator, on being requested by the Senator who has given Notice, may ask the Question of which Notice has been given.
Standing order 103 states:
When Notices of Questions are given, the Clerk shall place them at the commencement of the Notice Paper, according to the order in which they were delivered at the Table, and the Reply shall be handed to him in writing, when given.
It will be seen that we are suggesting in lieu of the 2 existing standing orders the following standing orders: 102. The Clerk shall place notices of Questions on the Notice Paper in the order in which they are received by him. 103. The reply to a Question on notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Senator who has asked the Question, and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
In other words, we are suggesting the formal incorporation in Hansard of all answers to questions on notice. I move:
– I find it a little difficult to be clear in my mind on the amount of time which will be saved by this procedure. After all is said and done, on how many occasions do senators ask that the answers to questions on notice be read? I would suggest that it is most infrequently. The time saved would be negligible. I believe that a senator has the undisputed right, for any reason at all, political or otherwise, to read the question which he has put on notice and to have the answer read, and I do not think that right should be interfered with. This morning we had a series of questions on notice answered. Without counting them, there were about 25. Only one senator asked that the answer be read. I think I am interpreting correctly the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee. I believe that a senator should have the right to ask his question on notice and to have the answer read by the responsible Minister.
– Particularly on Wednesdays.
– It does not matter whether it is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. That is not the point.I believe that a senator has the undisputed right to ask a question which he has put on notice. I do not look at the politics of it. I look at the fact that he may want to ask the question for a particular reason. He should not have to disclose the reason. He should not be denied the right to ask the question. They are my views on the matter. I oppose the proposition.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (8.29)- I do not necessarily disagree with the totality of the intention of item 1, but I am a little concerned about certain aspects of it. Firstly, it purports to delete standing order 102 and to insert in its place another standing order which does not pick up some of the ingredients of the original standing order 102.I ask the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) to enlighten me and any other member of the Committee of the Whole who may have some doubts about the matter. The side note to standing order 102 states:
Questions asked for absent Senator.
The standing order itself states:
A Senator, on being requested by the Senator who has given Notice, may ask the Question of which Notice has been given.
That contains an implication that is not found in the proposed new standing order 102.
– Did you see when it was adopted?
-Yes, it was adopted in June 1914. After all, I was born in 1 909 and I still think I am on the ball.
– Journalists have been putting you and me in Death Row.
-That is right. The proposed new standing order 102 will not have the same purpose as the standing order it replaces. Proposed new standing order 103 refers to the Clerk. It states:
The reply to a Question on notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Senator who has asked the Question, and such Question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
The question of the time of the tabling of the question emerges. In the time I have been in the
Senate it has frequently happened that a question has been asked without notice and the Minister in his reply, because there are ingredients in the question which it is apparent to everybody will call for information from his departmental advisers, has said: ‘I suggest to the honourable senator that he put the question on notice’. In these circumstances, the honourable senator who asked the question has had to write it out. He may also have 3 other questions that he wants answered without notice before he writes out the question that has to be placed on notice. When does the Clerk put the question without notice on the notice paper? What is the order? Does he put it on when the Minister says: ‘I suggest that it be put on notice’? Does he put it on notice then, and does the senator by response say: ‘Yes,I will do that’? On the other hand, does he wait until it is scribbled out, rechecked, corrected and altered sometimes before it goes on the notice paper? These are little things, but sometimes they arise.
I agree that a few matters need to be cleared up, particularly as to the old standing order 102. I think it is fair to say that in the world in which we are living parliamentary practice in Australia has become more vigorous and more active than it was when the Standing Orders were written. We cannot have a situation in which all questions on notice are read and the replies are then given. During the life of this Government in the last 2 years reforms have been carried out, by common consent rather than by alterations of the Standing Orders, which have tended to shortcut the delay, but we always observed the reservation that if a senator wanted the answer to his question read he should be able to exercise his right to have that done. That seems to me to have worked reasonably well. It may well be that in the light of delays in receiving answers it is sometimes a bit absurd for a Minister to read out an answer to a question which has been put on notice many months before. On balance, I agree with the recommendation, but I would like to hear the Minister on the ingredient which is proposed to be removed from the old standing order 102.
– I oppose this recommendation and I will make a few preliminary remarks about how this discussion has gone. We have accepted a declaration by the Chair on whether a motion on the first report we dealt with today was carried or lost. That is not a matter on which I am questioning the decision of the Chair. I think that is a matter which at some time will have to be decided by getting all senators to vote. Any move in 6 months time to incorporate in Standing Orders the 2 matters I oppose will have to be the subject of a division. In the meantime I do not think that the 2 questions I opposed in the first report we dealt with will come up for consideration during the 6-month trial period, and I do not think there will be any indication during that 6 months of whether they are beneficial or not. If any question is decided on the voices in my favour during that 6 months period, I will have to ask for a division, although I will be denied it under this rule, and be refused an opportunity to show in the records how I stood on the matter. Otherwise the Hansard record will not give any indication of how I voted.
– Hansard is not the only journal of record of how votes are cast.
-The journals of the Senate do not show how I vote if there is not a division. Therefore there is no record but the Hansard of the Senate is the propaganda sheet to the public, to substantiate what I tell the public, to show that 1 voted as I said I voted.
– Hansard is the information sheet.
– It is the information sheet which shows that I have never voted contrary to what I claim to the electors that I have voted. I cannot escape into the coward ‘s castle by saying: ‘We will not record it in Hansard’. This is a question on which I fought some time ago. There is nothing in the Standing Orders at present that suggests that a senator should read a question on notice. We seem to be guided, firstly, by Standing Orders and, secondly, by the practice and tradition of the Senate. Until I came into the Senate it had always been the practice that if a senator wanted to ask a question without notice he read it. If questions on notice were to be incorporated in Hansard senators had to ask leave to have them incorporated. Obviously questions on notice became too numerous. Standing orders 98 to 103 deal with questions. There is no difference between answering a question without notice and answering a question on notice. The answer is given in the same way. Standing order 101 states:
Notice of Question shall be given by a Senator delivering the same at the Table, fairly written, printed, or typed, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for asking such Question, or such Notice may be given by one Senator on behalf of another.
That permits me to submit a question on behalf of a colleague or to put a question on notice if I want more detailed information and want to give the Minister time to reply. But there is nothing in the Standing Orders about replies to questions. It is assumed that questions on notice shall be replied to as set out in standing order 98, which states that a senator may ask a question. Standing order 102 deals with the issue that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson brought up- the right of a senator to ask a question on behalf of an absent senator. The intention is to delete that standing order. At the present time standing order 102 states:
A Senator, on being requested by the Senator who has given Notice, may ask the Question of which Notice has been given.
That immediately implies that it was the intention of the Standing Orders that a senator should ask such questions verbally. Standing Order 103, which we seek to delete, states:
When Notices of Questions are given, the Clerk shall place them at the commencement of the Notice Paper, according to the order in which they were delivered at the Table -
It was always implied by those rules that a question on notice is only for the purpose of getting more accurate information or getting details which a Minister could not supply immediately or which it was unreasonable to expect him to supply immediately.
During my time as a member of the Standing Orders Committee it became apparent that questions on notice were taking up too much time of the Parliament and the Standing Orders Committee considered a recommendation- the same as we are considering now- that questions on notice should be incorporated in Hansard and not read. Asking questions is important to some individuals. Some honourable senators may want it known that they have asked a question. Although the answer may be published in Hansard they would like the questions to be heard over the air if the Senate proceedings are being broadcast. Honourable senators may want the public to hear the answer to their questions. They may wish to wake up a sleepy reporter in the Press gallery who perhaps would not notice the question if it were published only in the Hansard record. If an honourable senator asks a question about Victoria and it is of interest to the Victorian newspapers, by the question being asked in the House it is brought to the attention of the Press.
A number of honourable senators in this place insist on their questions being answered by the Minister concerned. I think that you, Mr Temporary Chairman, like your questions on notice to be asked verbally and to be answered verbally. I think the Chairman of Committees, Senator Webster, who sits on the other side of the House, is another honourable senator who likes his questions to be answered in this manner. I do not know what value the honourable senators get out of this but it is important to them.
– It has propaganda value.
– It is important to you, Mr Temporary Chairman. If that is important to any honourable senator, why should we take away that right? Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s amendment seeks to take away a right which some honourable senators think is important. Proposed new standing orders 102 and 103 will mean that honourable senators will not be able to acquaint the listening public of their questions. They will not be able to direct the attention of reporters in the Press gallery to questions dealing with their district. Therefore, the questions placed on notice and their answers will be covered up in Hansard. Such questions will be in small print and honourable senators will have to hope that someone will read the questions they have asked.
When I was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Standing Orders the number of questions placed on notice had reached such proportions that we found it was taking up too much time to have all of them answered verbally. That Committee brought down a recommendation that there be incorporated in Hansard all answers to questions other than those which honourable senators notified the Clerk they would specifically like answered. That system has been operating for some time now. It has been operating successfully. That arrangement is not a part of Standing Orders but it gives satisfaction to honourable senators who want to ask their questions in the Senate, lt gives complete satisfaction to them. Proposed new standing orders 102 and 103 would deprive such individuals of the right to ask a question which has been placed on notice. Why? Is it taking up too much time? Of course, if a Minister answers a question which has been placed on notice and the answer is long and contains many details, the Minister may ask for the answer to be incorporated in Hansard. The motion moved by Senator Douglas McClelland is trying to remedy something that may arise but which has never arisen in the past. There has been no abuse of the privilege and the right of honourable senators to ask questions. Senator Douglas McClelland is trying to take something away from honourable senators that has caused no embarrassment to this chamber. I ask for a rejection of this motion.
– I agree with everything that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has said. I will not repeat it. I would point out that if we are unwise enough to carry the motion, the present standing order 102 would not be of any value whatever. No honourable senator would be able to ask for his own questions on notice to be answered in the House. Therefore, it is foolish to think he could ask for his friends’ questions to be answered in the House. I wonder whether something almost underhand is creeping in. I have examined the Standing Orders and I do not recall seeing a phrase such as is contained in proposed new standing order 103 which states:
The reply to a Question on notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk.
I presume that the Minister, his staff, his advisers or a public servant will deliver a copy of the answer to the Clerk. Proposed new standing order 103 states further:
A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Senator who has asked the Question. . . .
How gracious! The line of communication from the Minister to his staff, to the Clerk, and to the senator who asked the question would be ‘a copy’. I asked a question in October. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) was good enough to give me the opportunity to ask that question this afternoon. I let that opportunity go by but I did receive a number of copies of the answer.
The custom in this place for some time has been that any honourable senator can get in the voice of the Minister an answer to a question which has been placed on notice and he can also receive numerous copies of the answer so that the media, if it so desires, can publish the answer. In that way the public can become aware of the answer to the question that the honourable senator has raised on their behalf. If proposed new standing orders 102 and 103 are passed I am fearful that I will receive only one copy of the answer to any questions I may place on notice. Where have I got the support staff to make other copies in order to give them to the media and to send them to people who have asked me to ask these questions? Is this an effort to silence or handicap honourable senators and to prevent them from publicising the answers to questions that they have put in this national Parliament? I know that answers to questions placed on notice go into the Hansard record, but if honourable senators try to post a copy of Hansard to an elector who lives across the street it will cost 33c to do so.
I feel quite confident that this new item will be passed and will have a trial period of 6 months. If we press for a division, as this matter has not been caucused and the vote would be a nonparty vote, honourable senators will come into this chamber without being aware of the subject we are debating. They will have a look at where Charlie is sitting and we will not achieve the result that we should in the national Parliament. I am right on Senator Cavanagh ‘s side in this matter. I believe there is creeping in an influence to silence or handicap members of the Senate in order to prevent them from getting information and providing it to the public. I am not allowed to cast a reflection on a vote of the Senate but Senator Cavanagh got away with it, and I support what he said about that too.
– This has been a very interesting debate. I can recall, when I was in Opposition, making exactly the same sort of speech that Senator Marriott has just made. I remind Senator Marriott that this is a non-political event and that the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Standing Orders represented a wide spectrum of the views of this Senate. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson referred to existing standing order 102 which states:
As I pointed out to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, that particular standing order was adopted by the Senate on 1 1 June 19 14. Of course, if this new procedure is adopted none of the questions that have been placed on the notice paper will be asked by a senator. Therefore, as all questions that have been placed on the notice paper will not be asked in the Senate it becomes redundant to say that an honourable senator acting on behalf of another honourable senator may ask a question that has been placed on the notice paper.
– With great respect, you could have the privilege still supplementary but apart from what you are suggesting. That is the point I am making.
– I suppose we could have that, but why? The simple reason is that all questions that are on the notice paper will be put on the notice paper by the Clerk in the order in which he receives them.
When the Clerk receives the answer a reply will be provided by him to the honourable senator who asked the question. On the aspect to which Senator Marriott has addressed himself, namely, that an honourable senator might get only one copy of the question which he has asked and of the answer which is given, I point out that the simple fact is that at present about 35 copies of a question and an answer are supplied to the attendant by the Minister. The attendant offers them to the honourable senator who originally asked the question. Copies are distributed around the Senate chamber at times. Copies get into the Press Gallery and then they are available for public consumption. I point out that existing standing order 103 states:
When Notices of Questions are given, the Clerk shall place them at the commencement of the Notice Paper, according to the order in which they were delivered at the Table, and the Reply shall be handed to him in writing, when given.
I am sure Senator Marriott will agree that ‘the reply’ means a number of copies of the reply. If the honourable senator wants any further comfort I mention to him that proposed new standing orders 102 and 103 which the Standing Orders Committee has suggested should be written into the new Standing Orders are a replica of House of Representatives standing order 150 which states:
The reply to a question on notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Member who has asked the question, and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
We have tried to bring up to date and to modernise the mode of handling questions on notice and the answers which are given to questions on notice. Again I emphasise that this arrangement is proposed for a trial period of whatever is intended other than 6 months, but about 6 months. I believe that this is worth while adopting. I suggest that Senator Marriott in that time can see whether he is given a copy or a number of copies. I suggest that the Committee’s report be adopted.
-The Committee is dealing with item 1 of the third report of the Standing Orders Committee. It refers to answers to questions on notice being incorporated in Hansard. The Manager of Government Business in the Senate has moved a motion on behalf of the Standing Orders Committee. The question is: ‘That the recommendation contained in item 1 be agreed to’.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I seek leave to make a statement relating to the recent overseas visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam).
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
-This speech was delivered this afternoon in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister. Where the first person is used it should be taken as meaning the Prime Minister.
I wish to report to the House and to the Australian people on my recent mission abroad. It was, I believe, the most arduous and comprehensive overseas visit ever undertaken by an Australian Prime Minister. It was also among the most necessary and productive. From Australia ‘s point of view it was long overdue; in each of the countries I visited it was welcomed without reservation. It enabled me to put Australia’s views, to hear the views of our friends and trading partners and to strengthen our good will in regions of undoubted importance to us. I count it an unqualified success.
Between 14 December and 21 January I visited Sri Lanka, Belgium, the headquarters of the European Communities in Brussels, Britain, Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I had intended also to visit Malta, but because of my return to Australia after the disaster in Darwin, the Special Minister of State, Mr Bowen, who accompanied me throughout my mission, visited Malta in my stead. Mr Bowen and I were accompanied by a team of senior officials, including the Secretary of the Department of Minerals and Energy, the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, the Deputy Secretary of my own Department, and for part of our visit, a First Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
It will be seen from the duration of my trip, from the number and range of the countries visited and from the number and seniority of the officials who accompanied me, how highly I rated the importance of this mission and the tasks I undertook on Australia’s behalf. No Australian Prime Minister had visited the Soviet Union in the 33 years since diplomatic relations were established between the Soviet Union and Australia. Many of the other countries I visited had not previously been visited by an Australian Prime Minister. Yet the nations of the European Economic Community constitute Australia’s second largest trading partner after Japan. The Soviet Union is one of the world’s two superpowersone of the nations whose policies determine the fate of all mankind. More than1½ million citizens have come to Australia from the nations of continental Europe. We share with many of the countries I visited economic and social problems which it was clearly in our interests to discuss together.
I saw my mission as an essential part of my duty as a Head of Government. It had already been postponed for 6 months because of the action of the Opposition in refusing supply and forcing an election last May. I did not believe it should be postponed again. Quite apart from the inconvenience and disruption this would have caused to the Governments I visited, the issues we discussed were so important, so pressing, so central to Australia’s immediate and long-term interests, that a further postponement could not be contemplated.
I stress that point because, for some weeks, the Australian people witnessed a persistent and often unscrupulous campaign by sections of the media to deter me from my visit, and when I was not deterred, to disparage what I did. The specious view was put forward that a Prime Minister’s duty is to stay at home at a time of economic difficulty. Now however serious our own problems and however acute my concern about them- and I trust my concern is not in questionI believe a Prime Minister, in the nature of his office, has a special and at times an overriding duty to promote Australia’s place in the world. This is not to say that our economic problems are unimportant. I agree that domestic matters, inflation and unemployment, have a greater priority in our thinking and are more important to the nation’s welfare than any of the matters with which I had to deal overseas. The point is really this: While it was possible for my colleagues to deal with our domestic problems in my absence, it was not possible for anyone other than the Prime Minister to deal with the matters that arose during my mission. That is the crux of the matter. In all the denigration of my visit I have not seen this point acknowledged, let alone refuted. Only a visit by a Head of Government enables Australia to put her point of view at the highest level and in the most forceful terms. Only a visit by a Head of Government obliges the countries visited to clarify and co-ordinate their policies towards us. Only a visit that includes all European counries or at least the majority of those of importance to us- can generate a cumul.tive impact and promote Australia’s advantage on the widest scale.
Our economic problems, far from being irrelevant to the matters discussed on my trip, in fact bore closely upon them. One of the themes of my mission was the essential and growing interdependence of nations in dealing with their economic problems. It would have been curious indeed if I had given the impression to our friends and trading partners, by cancelling or again postponing my trip, that Australia is the only country whose problems can be isolated from the rest of the world. The whole point of my mission, the point persistently ignored by the critics, was that Australia cannot isolate herself. Our inflation and unemployment are to a large extent linked with the present economic recession in the United States and much of Western Europe. I left Europe with the feeling that despite our temporary difficulties Australia’s economy is healthier and basically sounder than those of most of the countries I visited. I left Europe with the sure knowledge that the management of the Western monetary system and the Western economy is, along with the maintenance of peace, the greatest and most immediate problem of 1975. In meeting that problem, Australia, like every other advanced industrialised nation, has a part to play.
For the information of honourable members I shall give a brief outline of my itinerary and official discussions before dealing with particular issues. I left Sydney on 14 December and made an initial stop in Sri Lanka, where I had talks with President Gopallawa and Prime Minister Bandaranaike. The following day I flew to Brussels for a stay of 4 days, during which I was received by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Belgium and had discussions with Prime Minister Tindemans. I had talks in Brussels with the President of the Commission of the European Communities, M Ortoli, and with the VicePresident, Sir Christopher Soames. I addressed the International Press Centre there on 18 December. I shall seek leave tomorrow to table the texts of this and other speeches made during my trip and the texts of cultural and other agreements that I signed on Australia’s behalf.
On 1 9 December I flew to London for a 5-day visit, which included an audience with Her Majesty the Queen of Australia and discussions with Prime Minister Wilson and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Heath. I sought to define Australia’s relations with Britain in my speech at the Mansion House at a luncheon given by the Lord Mayor of London. On 23 December I paid a short visit to the Irish Republic for talks with the Taoiseach, Mr Cosgrave, and other senior ministers. I was also received by President O’Dalaigh. On my return to Europe I visited Greece, where I had talks on 3 January with the recently elected Prime Minister, Mr Karamanlis. The same evening I flew to The Hague for a 2-day visit. There I was received by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands and had talks with Prime Minister Den Uyl and other senior ministers. On 6 January I went to Paris for 2 days of talks with President Giscard d ‘Estaing, Prime Minister Chirac and other French ministers. In Paris I attended a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the new Australian embassy building and a civic reception in the Hotel de Ville. I had talks with the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose headquarters are in Paris.
From Paris 1 travelled to Rome, where I had discussions with President Leone and Prime Minister Moro, the Foreign Minister, Mr Rumor, and several other senior ministers. During my visit to Rome I signed a cultural agreement between Australia and Italy. I flew next to Yugoslavia, the first Australian Prime Minister to visit that country. I had talks on 9 and 10 January with Prime Minister Bijedic and met President Tito. On 12 January I flew to Leningrad and 2 days later to Moscow where I had wide-ranging discussions with President Podgorny and Prime Minister Kosygin of the Soviet Union, and signed cultural and scientific agreements between the Soviet Union and Australia. I visited the Federal Republic of Germany from 16 to 18 January. In Bonn I met President Scheel and had talks with Chancellor Schmidt and other senior ministers. I addressed a meeting of bankers and industrialists at the Federation of German Industry in Cologne on 16 January. On my way back to Australia I paid a brief visit to Pakistan on 19 January for talks with Prime Minister Bhutto, and Bangladesh, where I met Prime Minister- now PresidentSheikh Mujibur Rahman. Joint communiques were issued after my visits to Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union which I shall seek leave to table.
It became apparent as my visit to the 7 European Economic Community countries progressed that Western Europe’s demand for uranium in the late 1970s and the 1980s will be very substantial. Our role as a potential major supplier of uranium means that Australia’s importance to these countries will increase. In Brussels, London, The Hague, Paris, Rome and Bonn, as well as in Moscow, I consistently asserted Australia ‘s wish to develop its own enrichment capability so that as much uranium as possible should be exported in an enriched form. There are important policy issues to be resolved, such as the choice of enrichment technology, the capital investment required and the extent to which we may be prepared to sell unenriched uranium both before and after we have our own enrichment capability. I am convinced that my visit, and the fact that the Head, of the Department of Minerals and Energy, Sir Lenox Hewitt, accompanied me, has greatly facilitated the Government’s consideration of the total uranium supply and demand situation over the next decade. The obvious interest shown throughout Europe in Australia as a supplier of uranium suggests that we shall exercise considerable influence in this important area.
In each European Community capital 1 took up forcefully the Community’s current import restrictions on beef. I left heads of government in no doubt about our attitude to the Community’s action in imposing restrictions without warning or consultation. I pointed out the disruptive and harmful nature of this action to the Australian meat industry and urged on European leaders the need for stable long-term marketing arrangements. The response of individual governments was, in the main, apologetic and sympathetic. I believe that my visit has made it more likely that the Community market will be re-opened to Australian beef, if not later this year, then by mid- 1976. I was informed that the total market could return to about 400 000 to 500 000 tons by mid- 1 976. This total market, of which we would have a share, would mean that we would be still selling less beef than we did before the market was closed, but it is an improvement. I also believe that the strong stand which I took on this matter and the interest of the European countries in Australian uranium will make it much less likely that such restrictive actions will be taken against Australian commodities again.
In a number of countries I discussed in some depth the energy crisis and the Middle East. I assured European leaders that, while we agreed that an increase in the price of oil was justified, we did not wish to see a confrontation develop between cartels of producers and consumers. I asserted strongly our attitude that, while producers have every right to negotiate with consumers for fair prices for their resources, we will also work to harmonise the interests of producers and consumers with proper concern for the international situation as a whole.
In my discussions on the Middle East I asserted the right of all countries in the Middle East, including Israel, to secure and recognised boundaries. I believe that Israel’s integrity as a state must be upheld. At the same time, a lasting solution in the Middle East will require withdrawal from occupied territories and measures to meet the legitimate needs of the Palestinian people. While I cannot go into the details of private discussions, I was not discouraged by my discussions in the Kremlin and in Belgrade on this matter.
I took the opportunity in a number of capitals to urge greater support for the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. In particular I did so in Paris, Bonn and Rome. Australia wants to see the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty strengthened and all countries accept the multilateral obligations which the Treaty embodies. I sensed that there is a real possibility of movement by the governments in Rome and Bonn, which is most encouraging. In France I explained frankly the problems of selling uranium to countries which had not ratified the NPT or adhered to the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Although France has not signed the NPT I believe that she too is concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and I hope that she too will sign. Meanwhile, France has said that she will behave as if she were a party to the NPT and that she already applies the safeguards adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
I discussed with Mrs Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka and with President Tito and Prime Minister Bijedic in Yugoslavia Australia’s interest in the Third World and the non-aligned movement. Although Australia is an aligned country- and there can be no doubt about this- we have interests which overlap those of the Third World. Many of the non-aligned countries- like Sri Lanka- are within or on the borders of the Indian Ocean. I explained to Mrs Bandaranaike, President Tito and Prime Minister Bijedic our interest in attending future meetings of the nonaligned group either as a guest or as an observer. I found all three appreciative of the interest of Australia in the problems of the Third World and the objectives of the non-aligned movement and sympathetic to our association as a guest or as an observer with future meetings.
We shall in the future be examining further the possibilities of our attendance in this capacity at future meetings of the non-aligned countries with other important members of the movement in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
I had discussions on the Indian Ocean while I was abroad. Honourable senators will recall that I raised this matter in the United States and that the Government had raised it previously through diplomatic channels in both Washington and Moscow. I took the opportunity of my visit to Moscow to refer to this matter at the highest levels in the Kremlin. The Soviet Government understands our attitude. In the joint communique issued after my visit to Moscow the Soviet Government endorsed ‘its readiness to participate’ in ‘seeking a favourable solution to the problem of making the Indian Ocean an area of peace’. I believe that in urging mutual restraint on the great powers we are on the correct course. To support any further development of bases in the Indian Ocean- or any long-term naval deployments in the area- is to support escalation and a heightening of tension in the region. We reject that course.
While in Western Europe, and especially in Bonn, I had full discussions on the question of investment in Australia. I made it plain that the Australian Government continues to welcome foreign investment but that we wish as far as possible to control our own industries and resources. I agreed that a West German mission should visit Australia in the near future to discuss in detail all aspects of investment in Australia. I agreed also to take up with the Australian taxation authorities the strongly expressed interest of the Belgium, Netherlands and Italian Governments in negotiating a double taxation agreement with Australia.
Honourable senators should know that I took advantage of my visit to the Hague- the city in which the International Court of Justice is based- to refer to our warm support for the principles and objectives of the International Court and to urge that the international community give greater attention to the Court as an instrument for world peace and harmony. I urged that the Court’s jurisdiction should be made compulsory and universal. Honourable senators will know that it has been the practice of most countries, including Australia, to accept the Court’s jurisdiction only with reservations or with the exclusion of certain categories of dispute. I take this opportunity to inform the Senate that, as an earnest of our respect for the Court, Australia proposes to forgo her existing reservations and, in any dispute which we litigate before the Court, to accept its judgment unreservedly.
Relations with Britain
In London I had useful and cordial talks with Prime Minister Wilson on important issues including energy problems, unemployment, inflation, the dangers of a world recession, British attitudes to the re-negotiation of the Treaty of Rome, and constitutional issues including the right of appeal to the Privy Council. At a later hour I shall be introducing Bills to give effect to the Government’s policy on Privy Council appeals. That policy can be stated simply: we do not believe that Australians should litigate their disputes before the courts of another country. I believe that attitude is understood and accepted in Britain to a greater extent, regrettably, than it is in some quarters in Australia.
In case there are any lingering misconceptions about the Government’s approach to its relations with the United Kingdom, I made it clear in a speech at the Mansion House, which was widely publicised and applauded by the British media, that changes in the world situation had naturally led to changes in Australia’s traditional relationship with Britain. I made it clear that those who saw the Government’s recent actions concerning Britain as a manifestation of strident new nationalism or anti-British sentiment had completely misread the Government’s intentions. What we are seeking to do is establish an independent Australian identity in the world and especially in our region. We have grown up. Our actions are in no way anti-British; they are simply pro-Australian. Contrary to a popular impression, I did not raise in Britain the question of State Agents-General. I made it clear that the traditional understanding and affection between Australia and Britain, based on strong historical and family connections, would deepen rather than diminish as Australia assumed her rightful place as an independent nation with a distinctive Australian role and a distinctive Australian voice in the South East Asian region, in the Commonwealth and in the world at large. We see particular value in our continuing associations with the Commonwealth. With the majority of member nations of the Commonwealth now lying in and around the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, Australia is geographically closer to the centre of the modern Commonwealth than is Britain herself.
It is 33 years since a former Labor Government established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. When I spent more than 6 hours in discussions with Chairman Kosygin and President Podgorny in the Kremlin it was the first time that Australia’s views on a wide range of important issues had been put at this level. We discussed such matters as the situation in the North Asian region, Japan, China, Korea, detente and disarmament.
I was also able to raise a number of human rights issues. While the Soviet Union maintains that these are matters within its domestic jurisdiction it is not insensitive to representations on these matters. I raised the matter of Jewish emigration. I raised the matter of ‘Operation Reunion’, that is, the scheme under which persons resident in the Soviet Union seek to join relatives or friends in Australia. Prime Minister Kosygin listened with courtesy to my presentation and replied in some detail on the question of Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union and on the question of ‘Operation Reunion’. The Soviet Government takes the view that these are matters of purely domestic concern. Australia, for her part, believes that on any matters involving broad humanitarian rights, nations have a duty to put their viewpoints strongly. No purpose is served if we avoid issues where agreement is unlikely. The Soviet Union has a better understanding of our views and, I believe a greater respect for our candour.
In France I had substantial and lengthy discussions with President Giscard d ‘Estaing and Prime Minister Chirac. I believe it is true to say that my visit and my reception by my hosts in Paris put the seal at the highest level on the resumption of normal relations with France following the strains which had developed over France’s atmospheric testing in the Pacific. This testing has now ceased.
Arising from my visit to Paris, it was agreed that a French trade mission should visit Australia in the coming months to explore the possibility of increasing commercial exchanges between our 2 countries. Businessmen in Australia should understand that there is no political constraint upon their initiating contacts with France. It was agreed also to negotiate a cultural agreement between Australia and France and an agreement on co-operation in science and technology, lt was further agreed to hold regular consultations between officials of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first round of these consultations is likely to be held towards the middle of this year.
My visit to Dacca brought into focus the issues involved in responding to Bangladesh’s enormous needs, especially for food. I explained the great sympathy which the Australian Government and people felt for the people of Bangladesh in their struggle to feed their population. However, I felt obliged to point out to Sheik Mujib that while Australia is willing to do as much as we can for his country, it is not right that the whole burden for supply as aid, or selling on credit, of wheat for Bangladesh should fall on the relatively few countries which produce surplus grain. I suggested international arrangements under which some of the developed governments with capital, such as the Federal Republic of Germany or Japan, or the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries, might use some of their petrodollars to finance the purchase of wheat on credit from the grain producers.
I turn now to the broader issue of world peace. I see the peace of the world as resting on the progressive reinforcement of the network of accommodations and understandings between the 2 superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. This network of understandings is itself part of a wider balance of interests involving the other principal powers, China, Japan and the enlarged European Community.
If peace is to be preserved- and in the ultimate analysis nothing is more important than thatthe interests of the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan and China and those of the enlarged European Community must be kept in balance in Europe and in Asia. Each must live with respect for the legitimate interests and aspirations of the others. Only in this way will detente become durable and global. Only in this way will peace be secured.
It is the duty of the middle powers and the smaller powers to make their views heard in seeking to strengthen the structure of peace. This must be a common collective concern, not something left to the major powers alone. The future belongs to us all and, as I said in my address to the General Assembly last September, the Government rejects a concept of a world in which a handful of powerful men in charge of the most powerful nations chart the course for the rest of us to follow.
Some may ask what influence a country like Australia has in the White House, in the Kremlin, in the Councils of Europe, in the Great Hall of the People, or in Tokyo? I believe we can and do have influence. I believe at the very least we should not fail to try to exert some influence for the causes in which we believe. We should not permit our views on major international problems like the proliferation of nuclear weapons and access to markets to go by default.
I had a number of objectives in undertaking this journey and I believe I fulfilled them all. I wanted to emphasise Australia’s continuing and substantial interest in Europe and to strengthen Europe’s awareness of Australia. I have done so. I wanted to complete, as far as possible, the pattern of visits which my Foreign Minister (Senator Willesee) and I have been undertaking abroad to outline Australia’s policies in a number of areas following the first change of government in 23 years. I have now largely completed that pattern of visits. I wanted to establish or strengthen personal contacts with the heads of government of important countries and exchange views with them on matters of international concern and on common economic problems including inflation and unemployment. I have done so.
I wanted to discuss at first hand Australia’s interest in long-term arrangements for the access of our commodities in markets in Europe and I have done so. It is less likely, I believe, that Australia will ever again be subjected to summary and restrictive closures of markets which we have carefully nurtured. I wanted to discuss at the highest level the international energy situation and to form my own assessments on the major policy issues involved in the sale of Australia’s bountiful mineral resources, especially uranium and coal, to the countries of Europe. I have done so, and I believe the outlook for Australia in the area of energy supply is immensely encouraging. I wanted to discuss with those countries whose people have contributed to Australia’s cultural heritage and economic development the present attitude of the Government towards immigration. This I did in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands. I wished also to explain Australia ‘s policies on foreign investment and to remove any uncertainties about these policies: I have done so.
Finally, I wanted to examine ways in which Australia might make its contribution to strengthening the fabric of co-operation between Australia and Europe and to explore, at the highest level, the attitudes of countries like the Soviet Union, France and Yugoslavia to detente and to the Middle East, which are essential to forming any sound assessment of the prospects for world peace. I have done so.
I regret that many of these things, these immense and tangible benefits for Australia, have been obscured from the Australian people. I do not resent fair criticism from the media. Everyone in public life accepts such criticism, and frequently benefits from it. Even my worst enemies would concede that I have rarely complained about the media’s treatment of me, that I have been more accessible to the media, more frank in my dealings with them, than any of my predecessors in this office. A free press has an essential and constructive role in democratic society. I regret, however, that on this occasion the Australian public was not served by the media as objectively or as intelligently as it deserves. Too often matters of substance were subordinated to reports of trivia. It was repeatedly suggested that much of my time was taken up with sightseeing, in visits to archaeological sites and museums. Very little time was taken up with these things and most of it was during public holidays and weekends. Such diversions are, of course, a normal part of the hospitality extended to visiting heads of government, and I make no apology for my interest in the culture and histories of the countries I visited.
We are not a nation of Philistines; we should not be content with an image abroad based mainly on Barry McKenzie. I take some pride in the extensive and sympathetic presentation of my mission in the media in all the countries I visited. I found immense goodwill, not just for me, but for Australia. This goodwill was expressed and symbolised in many different ways. In Bangladesh, for example, there was a warm appreciation of Australia’s food aid programs. In my visits to war cemeteries in France, in Belgium, in Crete, in Athens, I found deep and genuine gratitude for the contribution of Australian soldiers to the allied cause. In many countries there was a ready understanding of the links forged by our immigration program. Everywhere in the media of the countries I visited I found a full appreciation of the importance and urgency of the matters I sought to raise, I regret that I found so much less understanding in the media of my own country.
Over a year ago, on my return from China and Japan, I had occasion to say that Australia had at last got her relations right with the 4 powers of most immediate concern to us- with Indonesia, our nearest neighbour; with Japan, our largest trading partner; with China, the most populous nation on earth; and with the United States, the world’s most powerful nation and our finest ally. My visit to China ended a generation of lost contact with a quarter of the world’s people. My visits to the United States, Japan, Indonesia and India consolidated, improved and matured existing relationships of great importance to us. My visit to the Soviet Union has marked a new stage in the development of practical and realistic relations with the other powerful nations on earth. My visit to Europe has reasserted our strong and continuing interest in the European Community, and, I believe, rekindled Europe’s interest in a strong, progressive and independent Australia. Taken together, we have begun to fashion a more contemporary relationship with EuropeEast and West- more appropriate to the changed conditions of our time. We can now say confidently that Australia has got her relations right, not just with the countries nearest us, but with most nations of importance, and regions of importance, in the world.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt)- by leaveproposed:
That the Senate take note of the Statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sim) adjourned.
– I inform honourable senators that I have received the following communication in connection with the vacancy in the representation of New South Wales.
GOVERNMENT HOUSE SYDNEY
10 February 1975
I have the honour to acknowledge your communication of 9 February 1975, notifying me, in accordance with the provisions of Section 21 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution, that a vacancy has happened in the representation of the State of New South Wales in the Senate through the resignation of Senator the Honourable Lionel Keith Murphy, Q.C., which occurred on 9 February 1975.
In reply I wish to inform you that I am bringing the matter to the notice of Ministers.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
By deputation from His Excellency the Governor
- Mr Chairman, when consideration was interrupted we had just completed debate and a division on item 1. We are now dealing with item 2- Unread matterIncorporation in Hansard. The recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee in this regard is that the following sessional order should be endorsed by the Senate:
Where matter is incorporated in Hansard by leave of the Senate, it shall be on the understanding that the final decision as to the practicability of incorporating material such as graphs, maps, blocks, etc., and incorporating material of an improper nature or which is irrelevant, shall be made by the President.
It is intended that this proposal should operate initially as a sessional order. The Standing Orders Committee in discussing this matter considered the practice of senators seeking leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard certain material, such as tables with figures and extracts from documents, etc., which they do not read. From time to time this does or could cause printing difficulties and difficulties with Hansard. Therefore, for these reasons it is suggested that the sessional order to which I have referred should receive the endorsement of the Senate. It means that where matter is incorporated in Hansard by leave of the Senate, the ultimate decision as to whether it will go into Hansard shall be made by the President. Accordingly I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Item 3 relates to the unofficial roster of speakers which we all know from time to time is kept by the President or the Chairman of Committees. The Standing Orders Committee considered the status and use of the list of speakers on the President’s desk, and after some discussion it was agreed that the list was unofficial and it was no curb on the President whose duty and privilege it was to say which senator he considered had a prior right to speak. Nonetheless, the Committee considers that the list should remain, on the understanding that it is unofficial and must not be referred to in debate.
-There is one expression in that statement of the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) that may need further clarification and it is the expression attributing to the President the right and privilege of saying which senator has a prior right to speak. I wish it to be understood quite clearly that that privilege of the President is in accordance with the Standing Orders and is not in any way to be considered as a discretion or judgment personal to him.
– Everything that I say in that regard naturally is subject to the Standing
Orders. If I did not say it I meant it and implied it. Therefore I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– We come to item 4- Motion for adjournment to debate matter of urgency- standing order 64. Standing order 64(1.) states:
A motion without Notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency, can only be made after Petitions have been presented and Notices of Questions and Motions given, and before the Business of the Day is proceeded with, and such Motion can be made notwithstanding there be on the paper a Motion for Adjournment to a time other than that of the next ordinary meeting. The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, a statement of the matter of urgency. Such motion must be supported by four Senators rising in their places as indicating their approval thereof. Not more than one such Motion can be made during a sitting of the Senate.
Standing order 64 (2. ) states:
In speaking to such Motion, the mover and the Minister first speaking shall not exceed thirty minutes each, and any other Senator or the mover in reply shall not exceed fifteen minutes, and every Senator shall confine himself to the one subject in respect to which the Motion has been made. Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed three hours.
Consideration was given to a proposal that the Senate should vote on the subject matter of an urgency motion rather than the question of rising until an unusual time. We all know the form of an urgency motion. It is ‘that the Senate at its rising adjourn until 10.59 a.m. tomorrow for the purpose of discussing’ a certain matter. If that motion is carried, the Senate, instead of meeting at 1 1 a.m. the next day, meets at 10.59 a.m. Consideration was given to the proposal that the Senate should vote on the subject matter of the urgency motion rather than the question of rising until an unusual time and, to that end, that the words in the standing order ‘that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate’ should be left out. The effect, however, would be to accord precedence to a substantive motion of general business which would be contrary to the purpose of the standing order. Furthermore, there are established procedures for proposing substantive motions to the Senate. Nevertheless the Standing Orders Committee considers that the present prodecural motion, namely, ‘that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate’, is antiquated and should be discarded. In its place the Committee recommends that debate take place upon a motion moved in the following form, and I ask honourable senators to take note of it because this is important:
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:
After that the matter of urgency is specified. It is considered that this motion should not be open to amendment so as to prevent the introduction of substantive matter which should be the subject of a motion upon notice in the usual way. So far as notice is concerned, it is considered that the senator proposing an urgency motion should give notice to the President at least 90 minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate. Having regard to those 2 matters, the subject of this recommendation, it is recommended that existing standing order 64, which I have read, be amended as follows:
Paragraph (1), leave out ‘The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, a statement of the matter of urgency.’, insert ‘The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President at least 90 minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, a statement of the matter of urgency. ‘.
So far as the senator next speaking after the mover is concerned, it is provided in existing standing order 64 (2) that the mover and the Minister first speaking shall not exceed 30 minutes each. The Standing Orders Committee considered this matter and recommends that the mover and the senator next speaking shall not exceed 30 minutes. The proposal to leave out reference to the Minister is aimed at meeting a circumstance where, because of the nature of the subject matter of a particular urgency motion, it might be appropriate on occasion that a senator other than a Minister be allowed to follow the mover of the urgency motion. It is suggested that that senator other than a Minister should have the advantage of the extra time allowed. It is not implied by this change that there is any abdication of ministerial responsibility. It is well established that the subject of a motion of urgency must be a matter falling within ministerial responsibility and this basic rule remains. The position which would follow from the proposed amendment is that a Minister would retain the right to have the first call after the mover if he chose and he could speak for the same time as the mover, namely 30 minutes. If, however, by arrangement a senator other than a Minister were allowed and were given first call after the mover and spoke for 30 minutes in reply to the mover, then a Minister taking part in that debate would then speak for only the same time as other senators, namely 15 minutes. Bearing all those matters in mind the Standing Orders Committee recommended a proposed new standing order 64. If the proposed amendments are agreed to the new standing order 64 would read:
( 1 ) A motion without Notice, “That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency: [here specify the matter of urgency],” can only be made after Petitions have been presented and Notices given, and before the business of the Day is proceeded with.
I do not know whether I could explain it in more detail than that which has been set out. Therefore, on behalf of the Standing Orders Committee, I move:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (9.49)- There are a couple of matters about which I am not clear. Perhaps they might be cleared up with the aid of the Minister. I refer firstly to the allocation of time. It is suggested that the mover shall have 30 minutes and that the senator next speaking shall have 30 minutes. The point about which I am not clear is that the senator next speaking could be the seconder of the motion or a supporter of the motion.
– There must be 4 supporters when the mover rises.
– It does not necessarily follow. The Minister is presuming the order of speaking. An urgency motion could well be moved by an Opposition member and it could well be that the seconder reserves his right to speak later.
– A seconder is not required for an urgency motion.
-The Minister says that no seconder is required. I will put it another way: Let us assume that the Government did not respond immediately after the mover of the motion. Would that confine the first speaker in opposition to the motion to 15 minutes? Proposed standing order 64 ( 5 ) states:
In speaking to such Motion, the mover and the Senator next speaking shall not exceed 30 minutes each.
I am not clear in my mind and I would like some clarity on this matter. The Senate is a party House. Traditionally either a Minister or somebody in Government responds to such a motion. He should have 30 minutes. The mover plus his supporter should not have 30 minutes each. A Minister could be confined to 15 minutes. I would like that matter to be cleared up. In my mind, there is some ambiguity in that paragraph.
I wish to raise another question. I seem to recall a provision in the proposal that notice of the urgency motion should be given to the President at least 90 minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate. The Clerk or the previous President might be able to help me on this matter. I have in my mind the idea that a senator could give notice of an urgency motion for Tuesday, 90 minutes before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, and when he did that he could also give notice of urgency motions for Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, a senator could have an urgency motion listed for each of the 3 sitting days of the week. He has made certain that he is the first one in, under the 90 minutes provision, but he may have pre-empted any other senator giving notice of an urgency motion because he has given notice of urgency motions for subsequent days. Since we are dealing with this matter of urgency motions I think now is the time for us to look at the matter and to see whether some amendment is necessary. On principle, I oppose the concept that that could happen. The Clerk might be able to advise the Minister that it cannot happen. The previous President might say that it cannot happen. I would like some clarity on that issue. A senator should not be able to pre-empt other senators because the first senator has given notice of a series of urgency motions, progressively, which would ensure that each sitting day of the week there was an urgency motion of which he was the mover.
- Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson interested me. He raised 2 questions which I raised previously. I favour the alteration of Standing Orders to prevent a mischief or to stop some abuse which has happened. My memory is not that good, but I remember one instance. An urgency motion normally is moved by a member of the Opposition and then the Minister in charge of the Department around which the question revolves replies. The following speakers have 1 5 minutes each. Although we are governed by practice and tradition as well as by the Standing Orders, the President always alternates the call, so there is no trouble. There was an occasion when the previous Government was in office when a Government backbencher moved an urgency motion. Honourable senators opposite will correct me if I am wrong. I think it was Senator Greenwood. A Government backbencher moved an urgency motion. He was followed by an Opposition senator who had 30 minutes. At a later stage of the debate the Minister, who was not the mover or the senator who replied, had 30 minutes. On that occasion 2 speakers in support of the motion of urgency had half an hour each.
– This in intended to avoid that.
– It seeks to avoid it. Of course the proposition works only on the accepted principle that we follow tradition and that speakers are allocated on the basis of one for the motion and one opposing the motion. That is why I support the proposition.
– On that occasion, if I recall it, because the reply was not given by a Minister the Senate gave the Senator who replied leave to speak for 30 minutes.
– No. It was an unusual circumstance. A Government backbencher moved the urgency motion.
– The next speaker was from the Government side, too.
-No. The next speaker was from the Opposition. He had half an hour. At a later period the Minister intervened. He was entitled to half an hour. Two senators from one side were given half an hour each. Only one speaker from the other side was given half an hour. This proposal seeks to rectify that position.
The other question relates to the giving of notice. I think there may be some confusion as to how the proposal seeks to solve the problem. Honourable senators will probably recall when the Democratic Labour Party had sufficient senators to move urgency motions. At the end of a session in December its members put on the notice paper half a dozen notices of matters of urgency which we discussed in March. They were urgent in December. We do not know whether they were urgent in March. Action of this sort holds the whole scheme up to some ridicule. The DLP did that for political propaganda, not to bring up a matter of urgency. I think we had some understanding that such notices could not be given more than 24 hours before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate. This recommendation states that notice must be given at least 90 minutes before the time fixed. It still does not limit the ability of a senator to give notice 3 months before, which was the danger then. A senator cannot, as the DLP did, put 5 notices of motion on the notice paper because proposed standing order 64 (4) states:
Not more than one such Motion can be made during a sitting of the Senate, and the Motion may not be amended.
Therefore, only one abuse of power is allowed.
– That is a step forward, is it not?
– I think that any alteration of the rules in that regard would be. I think the DLP at that time did itself more harm than good. I would not have sought to amend the rules to save the DLP senators. Someone wanted to get them out of the Parliament quicker than I did, apparently. They wanted to stop the suicide of their own Party. They are the reasons. I think it is reasonable to say that in the past the system was abused. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to accept the proposed alteration.
– You have not answered completely the question about the position if the Government chooses not to respond immediately and lets another Opposition senator follow.
– It does so at its own peril.
– I thought I mentioned during the course of my remarks that the position which would obtain if the amendment were agreed to is that when a senator moved an urgency motion and spoke for 30 minutes the next speaker who would be a Minister, could exercise his right and speak for 30 minutes or allow another senator to exercise that right in lieu of his right. The second senator- the senator following the one who moved the motion- would speak for 30 minutes. In the event of the Minister’s exercising his right to do that and choosing to speak later on in the debate, he could speak for only 1 5 minutes.
– I do not question that at all. What I am suggesting is that if a government chose not to respond immediately it would lose its 30 minutes and have only 1 5 minutes because the second speaker could be on the same side and take up the 30 minutes.
-That could be the position, but the Committee considered these things and in weighing up all the circumstances decided that the normal practices of the House would overcome any problem that exists in this regard.I do not know whether the matter to which Senator Cavanagh was alluding is different from the one that has been put to me. Senator Cavanagh cited the instance of Senator Greenwood’s moving an urgency motion when he was a back bench member of the previous Government. The Clerk of the Senate reminds me that in his book on Senate practice at page 245 he has recorded the following:
On 30 August 1956, President Sir Alister McMuIlin announced that he had received from Senator Gorton an intimation that, at the sitting that day, he proposed to move a certain motion under Standing Order 64. He also announced that he had subsequently received from Senator Toohey a statement of motion in similar terms and relating to the same subject, viz, damage caused by floods in the River Murray areas. Having read both communications, the President stated that, as only one such motion could be made during a sitting of the Senate, he proposed to proceed with the consideration of Senator Gorton’s motion, which was the first received. On the motion of the Government Leader, so much of Standing Order 64 was suspended as would prevent Senator Toohey speaking for 30 minutes to Senator Gorton’s proposed motion.
– That relates to the suspension of Standing Orders. It has no reference to the case that occurred quite recently.
– I am just stating what has been put to me by the Clerk. Undoubtedly Senator Cavanagh ‘s memory is better than mine on this issue. The Committee considered the matters to which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has alluded, but asserted that the good sense of the House looked after these matters. We believe that in the interests of common sense and practicality the proposed new standing order is a better version than the existing one, and we believe it should be given a trial.
– Arising out of what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has drawn to the attention of the Senate I ask the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) whether the Standing Orders Committee considered inserting the words ‘in opposition ‘ in the second line of clause (5.) so that it would read:
In speaking to such Motion, the mover and the Senator next speaking in opposition shall not exceed 30 minutes-
I think this would overcome what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has brought to the attention of the Senate and would safeguard the government of the day, because it has always been the case that it is members of the Opposition who raise matters of urgency, not the Government.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) ( 10.4)- I rise to my feet firstly to make a semi-pompous observation for which I hope honourable senators will forgive me. The situation amounts to this: However much we may draft constitutions or standing orders or involve ourselves in practice the facts of life of course are that constitutions are made for men and men are not made for constitutions. However carefully we may draft the Standing Orders of the Senate there always occurs a time subsequent to the amendments of the Senate when crafty or able men can find a way around them. So all we can do when we are dealing with Standing Orders is to realise that they are not cast in the mould of the tablets brought down from the mountain by Moses or the laws of the Medes and Persians, which were carved in unperishable stone. The fact is that all we are trying to do is bring down Standing Orders that deal with matters as they arise, say, over a period of 20 years and try to avoid the pitfalls that crafty and ingenious men have found by which to evade them.
The second observation I make- it is fairly important- is that there has grown up over the years a feeling that Ministers are a special caste; that they are bred like the Polynesian families who are kept in caves so they get a nice white skin, and when they come out not as dark and as ochre coloured as the commonalty of the people they are regarded as pretty important people and wherever they go there are taboos. I am willing to concede to Ministers of State a certain amount of priority and rights in the Senate.I am prepared to concede the rights of governments in the Senate. They should have priority in getting the business before the Senate; otherwise the Senate becomes totally unmanageable.
On the question of time I think the case has been made out that there grew up a situation where the Minister backed off the urgency motion, allowed another senator to speak for 30 minutes- this has been made clear by Senator Cavanagh- and then took another 30 minutes himself and deprived 4 senators who were supporting the urgency motion of the right of addressing themselves to the situation. That is the background, as it were. It was achieved, of course, by the advent of a corner party here in the Senate.
Lastly I come to the problem of the 90 minutes. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said that he hoped some senator would address himself to the observation he made. I address myself to it by presenting a footnote on Senate history. One day when 1 was about to appear in the Senate to open the proceedings of the Senate and was waiting outside the door behind you, Mr Chairman, through which you come so elegantly from time to time, watching that dreadful clock we have that goes ‘tick, tock, tick’- you must not come in a second too early or a second too lateprecisely 45 seconds before I took the chair I had notice of an urgency motion delivered to my hands. Of course, the whole of the Senate was taken by surprise. Nevertheless, under the Staning Orders I had to accept that urgency motion. The Standing Orders Committee, examining all the relevancies that relate to this matter, decided in the end that some formality had to be introduced into the system. I agree with Senator Cavanagh. I think the drafting is very good. I think it deals with a matter which in the course of time has been found to be imperfect, and 1 advocate that honourable senators should accept the redrafting as it stands.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) ( 10.8)- I want to be clear on this matter. What about the question I raised concerning postdating? The proposed new Standing Order contains the words ‘at least 90 minutes’. What about when the notice is 2 days and 90 minutes or 5 days and 90 minutes?
– That is all right.
-I do not think it is right. I think that that is calculated to block out everybody who may want to move an urgency motion at some future time. I do not disagree with what is being proposed. Do not misunderstand me. I support it, but I think we should be looking at the event that happened before when an attempt was made to block anybody else from moving an urgency motion by cornering the market for some days ahead.
– I mentioned earlier that the Standing Orders Committee considered all the aspects that have been raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I reiterate that we felt that the good sense and practical experience of the House looked after these sorts of problems. Admittedly the type of situation to which Senator Anderson alludes where a person could put in a notice of motion on a Tuesday for a debate on a matter of urgency on the Wednesday and Thursday could in fact occur.
– It did occur.
– I cannot recall its having occurred. The Clerk of the Senate tells me that it did occur on one occasion when a senator gave notice a week ahead. It has occurred only on the one occasion over the years. If that situation did occur may I suggest that, politics being what they are and honourable senators being what they are, it would bring about counter-activity. We would have some one else putting in a notice of motion or giving notice of an urgency motion. The situation would go on and would become utterly unworkable. We did consider these points. As I have said, we felt that this was a considerable improvement on the old standards. Therefore, on behalf of the Committee, I urge the adoption of the Committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The recommendation contained in Item 5 relates to a time limit being imposed on speeches of honourable senators. Again I emphasise that it is intended that this should operate as a sessional order for an interim period. I move:
That Item states:
Standing Order 407a provides that, in the debate on the Address-in Reply, or on the First Reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the Second Reading of a Bill, a Senator shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a half.
The Committee considers that this time limit should be reduced to one hour and recommends that Standing Order 407a be amended accordingly.
I think there is no need to amplify or to explain the matter further. It speaks for itself. I urge the adoption of the Committee’s report.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– In spite of the cries of ‘hear, hear’ we are seeking to take away some right that an honourable senator now has. If other honourable senators are not concerned about that, I am. For the past 70 years during which the Senate has been in operation a senator has had the right, if he so requires, to speak for an hour and a half during an AddressinReply debate. This is the occasion on which an honourable senator either supports or opposes the operations of the Government as set out in the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral or on the first reading of a money Bill when what he says may or may not be relevant tothat Bill, An honourable senator may enter such a debate because he has a particular theory or particular policy he wants to advance. Can any honourable senator indicate an occasion during those 70 years when the time limit has been abused?
– Yes, I can remember.
– Yes, but Senator Sir Magnus Cormack is much older than I am. During the 12 years I have been in this place it has never happened. No one has utilised an hour and a half but provision is there for someone to do so. If an honourable senator has an important item of national importance which he wants to develop it may take in excess of an hour to do so. Item 5 moved by the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) will mean that an honourable senator can speak for more than an hour only if he is granted an extension of time. Honourable senators have a right now to speak for an hour and half. In that time an honourable senator can present his views to the Senate in the proper way. An honourable senator may want to make a speech which will take more than an hour. In the past honourable senators who have gone beyond an hour have had the right to do so, but this motion seeks to stop senators from having that right in the future. This is something that has never been abused in the past. I cannot recall an occasion on which it has been abused. We have gone dangerously close to it. In fact,I never knew that an hour and a half was permissible. I may have spoken longer on previous occasions.
– You took an hour and a half on one occasion.
-No, I did not take that long. When one is speaking on the air one used to be limited to half an hour but that is now limited to 20 minutes. If I wish to develop a matter why should I not have the right to do so? If I did on one occasion I had the right to do so. But now it is sought to take away that right from me. This motion is designed to cut down the rights of members. If extra time has been used in the past the time involved has been so insignificant as to be unimportant. This again is a taking away of something from members and leaving a House which is more restricted than the one we entered. That principle is wrong.
– I want to support the attitude that has been adopted by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). By way of interjection some honourable senators referred to certain incidents that have taken place in this chamber over the years. Quite frankly I think that on at least one occasion that I can recall- perhaps on 2 occasions- I also have spoken for an excessively long time. A tendency has grown up during the time I have been in this place to whittle away the rights of honourable senators, particularly of back bench senators, and to whittle away their opportunity to explain in detail what may be a very involved case. We have seen time limits applied to urgency motions and to the time allowed to answers to questions on notice. Perhaps there are procedural matters where this is to the advantage of the Senate generally.
I believe that we ought to retain an hour and a half for speeches because it would give to honourable senators on either side of the chamber an opportunity to speak at any time if they have a fairly heavy sort of matter they want to debate. Honourable senators are all aware that in the ordinary course of events in the last 10 years this has not happened more than 3 or 4 times at the outside. Prior to December 1972 it frequently took Ministers of the Government of the day up to half an hour to reply to a question without notice. They used to take the opportunity to deliver a second reading speech for propaganda purposes. I am not saying that the Ministers of the present Government are not without sin in this particular area, because some of them take a fairly long time to reply to questions. But then we want to look also at those who ask the questions. There are some honourable senators who come into this chamber with 3 pages of notes which are allegedly a question without notice. Those are the sorts of things that can be properly cut down, both from the ministerial side and from the back bench side. If there is a worthwhile debate or a debate about which an honourable senator feels particularly aggrieved and wants to put forward his case in detail, then that right ought to be in existence. He should be allowed to speak for an hour and a half.
– But he can appeal to his colleagues for another half an hour.
– Over the years Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has made some fairly lengthy speeches in this place.
– Only once.
– Well, it might have been only once, but nevertheless there have been times when Senator Sir Magnus Cormack gave me warnings preparatory to throwing me out of this chamber. On those occasions it took him a long time to make a speech. I think that this right ought to be retained. If honourable senators divide on this matter that is the way in which I will be voting.
– I should like a point clarified, Mr
Chairman. My reading of the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Standing Orders would mean that the words ‘and a half’ could be deleted from line 5 of standing order 407a and that the words ‘or of one hour and a half would be deleted from line 6. Is it correct that there would be no deletions of the reference to time being extended by a further 30 minutes?
-That would be my reading of the proposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The reason I moved that the report be adopted and have effect from Tuesday next is that it will give the Clerk of the Senate and his staff ample time to sort out the proposed new trial sessional orders and to circulate them. They will be able to come into effect this time next week.
– During the debate relating to the Standing Orders I raised a question which I believe the Standing Orders Committee should examine to see whether some unanimity of thought can be reached on my proposal. I have been astounded to see in this chamber an honourable senator, after addressing himself to a matter and before resuming his place to give an honourable senator on the other side an opportunity to reply, moving that the question be now put. The President, Chairman or whoever may be occupying the Chair has no alternative but to put that question. I think that is entirely wrong and contrary to everything that I have known as a reasonable standard of debate. I therefore propose to move that the Standing Orders Committee be requested to examine standing order 281 which relates to the motion that the question be now put. I suggest that standing order 281 should read, in effect, that the motion that the question be now put may be moved only by an honourable senator who has not spoken on the question before the Chair. Therefore I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed Royal Commission on Law Enforcement
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) proposed.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not proposed to detain the Senate for a very lengthy time. My remarks are directed through you, Mr President, to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) and to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) who in this chamber represents the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby). Earlier today I raised, by way of a question, the matter of an assault which allegedly took place by police on Aborigines at Laverton. Honourable senators will recall that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs undertook at that time to make further inquiries and, incidentally, also stated that he had been pressing rather heavily for an independent public inquiry into 3 other cases of alleged police brutality. They occurred at 2 places in the Northern Territory and at one place in Queensland. At Laverton, some 28 Aboriginals were involved. Among those who were allegedly battered in this confrontation were a number of women and children.
Quite recently Tony Assan who was a National Aboriginal Congress representative in the Mout Isa area made known to myself and to a number of other people in this Parliament an instance of alleged intimidation carried out by police in the Cloncurry area. I propose to refer to that in a few moments in greater detail. But the incident about which I want to explain some of the details relates to Finke River. It refers to the Aputula community at Finke River. I have obtained my information from 2 very reliable white community leaders, who are prepared to have their names attached to any document, together with 2 other white people and a number of Aborigines. The alleged attack took place in the Finke River area on ground which is the property of a local Aboriginal group. My informants tell me that this is the third instance in the last 4 years where white policemen have aggravated a situation which was not necessarily of the making of the Aborigines and which was certainly of only minor importance until such time as the white policemen interfered.
On a previous occasion when an inquiry was called for a group of police in the Northern Territory inquired into the charges against the police. Consequently, they came up with a whitewash. This is not good enough. Nothing short of a royal commission or a Senate select committee or some other sort of public inquiry will overcome the problems of police and Aboriginal relationships. It is time we had such an inquiry because these incidents are getting far too common. Admittedly, in past years there were probably just as many but they were covered up. But today, with greater ease of communication, people are able more readily to communicate with those in authority in the community and we are hearing of a great many more incidents. I have been given permission to use my informants’ names. At this stage I do not propose to do so. They are quite happy about having their names used publicly in any area in relation to this subject. I understand communications have been sent to the Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and also to the office of the AttorneyGeneral.
It is true that this incident may have been triggered off by some local railway workers who apparently referred to the local Aborigines as Black BV. This led to an exchange of words. I propose to name the policeman involved. It was Constable R. Henshaw. He could have been much more conciliatory in his handling of the situation but he adopted the rather provocative attitude of calling for reinforcements. A constable came from another centre, Kulgera, which is a tiny outpost in the Northern Territory. I propose to make a brief mention of another incident which took place at Kulgera. The constable threatened to shoot an Aboriginal. This is not the way one can resolve a minor incident. Naturally this led to retaliation as far as the Aborigines were concerned. I ask honourable senators to remember that all this was happening on the Aborigines own community ground where they ought to have had some protection and where they ought to have been able to defend themselves. It is alleged that some flagons were thrown. It is alleged that an Aboriginal went away and got some spears, none of which were used. The flagons were apparently thrown and a policeman suffered ° .mnor injury as a result. But in return an Aboriginal was seriously assaulted by the policeman. A number of people associated with the community endeavoured to create a spirit of harmony.
The police, the Aboriginals and everyone concerned agreed that the matter would quieten down for the night, that everybody would go to bed and that next morning if there were charges to be laid the matter would be further discussed. But this did not satisfy the policeman. He moved on to the community property after everybody had settled down for the night and started blazing away with his revolver. There is some confusion as to the number of shots that were fired but there are people who are prepared to swear that at least two were fired and probably more. After making an agreement one would have thought that the keeper of the law in this area would have been the first person to honour that promise and not to go back and promote a further brawl on Aboriginal property. I believe the information that has been given to me because of the reliability of my informants. One of the persons concerned has worked in the area with Aboriginal people for 20 years. In a discussion today he said: ‘It has gone far enough. We just cannot tolerate this any longer and I have to report it.’ I have been further advised that 6 Aborigines have been charged with assault and that the case is to be heard on 7 March 1975. This will be another whitewash so far as the local police are concerned. I know that I should not refer in that way to a court of law. I regret very much that I have to say it, but there is a long history of this sort of thing happening in the Northern Territory, in Queensland and in some parts of Western Australia.
In a previous instance another policeman was involved. He is now stationed at Yuendumu which is another Aboriginal settlement in the Northern Territory. Shortly after his arrival there- honourable senators should remember that he was associated with the previous incident at Finke River- a serious problem arose. I request the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to find out the full details behind this case and to make them public because I believe that unless these sorts of things are aired as widely as possible and publicly on all occasions, we will never overcome the serious defects in the relationship between the police and the Aboriginal people in the community. As a result of this policeman’s call for help, extra police including 2 members of the Criminal Investigation Branch were taken in a few days ago.
The Cloncurry incident also happened in 1975. A lot of things are happening in 1974 and 1975 that one would have expected to have happened at the turn of the century orin the last century. But they are happening in these days of socalled enlightened law enforcement. The National Aboriginal Congress representative in Cloncurry has told a number of people in writing over his own signature that the local police broke into a house, apparently without a warrant, woke people in their beds, took blankets off them and started interrogating them. Instances have been reported by the same man in the same area of young men who are in constant employment, who are good young workers, good people and respected employees being threatened by the police, who have gone out on to the jobs, with all sorts of actions if they do not admit to certain crimes that they have not committed. In one instance a policeman is alleged to have said: You have a white man’s job working with the local railway department, and we will make sure you lose your job unless you submit and give us the information that we require’. He could not give the information. The only way in which that kind of thing will ever be sorted out is by making sure that there is a frank and open inquiry of the nature that I have suggested.
I wish to refer for a couple of minutes more to an incident that occurred when a white man, accompanied by three or four Aborigines, tried to get served at the Kulgera Hotel. He has arranged for a statement that he has made to his solicitors to be forwarded to me. He states:
We pulled up outside the hotel. I went into the bar and ordered a beer and I asked the girl behind the counter if my friends could come in and have some tea and sandwiches. The reply was simply that ‘ You can, but they can ‘t.
They could not go in because they were black. However, he was told that they could go to the back window and be served from there. So the Aborigines then had to go to the back to buy some soft drinks. The white man concerned, who was a Mr Leahy, bought some sandwiches. Then they drove down the road, stopped and had a conference about the incident.
On Sunday 3 November they were driving back through Kulgera and a similar number of Aborigines were with Mr Leahy on this occasion. He pulled up to get some petrol and he asked for some tea, some chicken and some sandwiches so that they could eat them outside. Mr Burgess was the publican in that area. I was told today that he has now left the district; and a hell of a lot of black people and a hell of a lot of white people will be happy that he has gone. The hotel would not give Mr Leahy knives with which to cut up the chicken that he had bought so he used a small pocket knife which he carried. They ate the food outside, certainly on the hotel ground but not inside the hotel. The gentleman who owned the hotel drove down the road a few minutes afterwards, went into the hotel, apparently said nasty words to the girls who had served this man and his black friends and then he was heard to say to the girl: ‘Why did you serve those bastards?’ Sometimes that word is a word of affection in the Australian language but when it is used in that way it is a word of hate. He then came out and used the same word again to Mr
Leahy and told him not to make a mess. The white man said to the hotelkeeper: ‘Would you please play it quietly?’ He was then assaulted by the publican for his trouble. He has now made a full statement to solicitors and I do not know what will happen to that case.
Mr President, through you I say to the 2 Ministers concerned with all sincerity that we want a full and fairly wide-scale public inquiry into these sorts of relationships. Maybe the answer is in the sort of thing that is happening in Townsville at the moment where teachers going to Aboriginal communities will have the benefit of perhaps a year’s instruction on how to cope with the special problems in Aboriginal communities. Maybe this is what the police need. Maybe they need special training. I am not blaming particular policemen. The only system they know is, bash and ask afterwards. It is not good enough for the Australian community.
– It is not often that I find myself on the same platform as my friend Jim Keeffe, but tonight I find that I must agree with him in his call for a royal commission into some of the allegations that have been made from time to time of police brutality and the discrimination that has been shown towards Aborigines in various parts of Australia. Unfortunately I cannot agree with him that it happens only in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. From my experience it is rather widespread. Perhaps I should confine my remarks at this stage to my experiences in my own State of Queensland. Senator Keeffe referred to an incident with which I was concerned in Cloncurry in Queensland and in regard to which I made some very widespread investigations. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to pinpoint or to substantiate the claims that are made by Aboriginal people. So often when a lone Aboriginal is walking down the street late at night- perhaps he has had a couple of beers or maybe on occasions has had one too many- he is accosted or allegedly arrested by 2 members of the police force. He is a lone Aboriginal. He is abused, mistreated and taken to the lockup. On being taken to the law court in the morning and appearing before a magistrate, it is his word against that of 2 members of the law enforcement organisation. What hope has a lone Aboriginal, who in the first place is black and in the second place is intoxicated, brought before a law court in the morning against 2 supposedly respectable enforcers of the law? He has not a hope in the world. I have seen the results of alleged police brutality on so many occasions that sometimes it makes my stomach turn. So I agree with Senator Keeffe that there is a great need within the community for a royal commission into some of the allegations that are made against members of our law enforcement agencies.
I do not say that all members of the law enforcement agencies are this way inclined. There are very fine and respectable gentleman within the law enforcement agencies. I have a great admiration for those men who do their duty conscientiously and to the best of their ability. I have no quarrel whatsoever with them. But there are always the ones who sometimes allow their power to go to their heads and when they are dealing with some unfortunate Aboriginal or group of Aborigines they do tend to use brutality that they would not use in other circumstances. I would be the last to deny that there are some naughty Aborigines, but there are nonAborigines who can be just as naughty. I believe that a royal commission of some kind would bring to light not only the atrocities which are being perpetrated against Aborigines and of which Senator Keeffe has spoken but also the fact that there are occasions when members of law enforcement agencies need to chastise and bring to justice Aborigines who are not doing the right thing. So a royal commission certainly would be in the best interests of all Australians.
I know that this kind of thing happens to other members of the community as well as Aborigines. I know of many occasions when nonAboriginal people also have run foul of those people within the law enforcement agencies who have no scruples and no sense of decency whatsoever. So, while this matter is being looked at in regard to the Aboriginal people, perhaps it could be looked at also in regard to other underprivileged people within our community. Senator Keeffe has raised the matter tonight in relation to the Aboriginal people. I support what he is asking for- a royal commission. I am not quite sure how this c-.i be brought about. But surely those in authority, such as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Attorney-General, can look at this matter and do something about it. It is high time that something was done about it because certainly far too much of this type of thing is going on.
I do not pick on Queensland in particular because I know that this is happening in other States. But since I represent Queensland, since most of my time is devoted to Queensland and since I spend a lot of my time travelling around that State, I find that a lot of this is happening in that State. I am conscious of it happening in other States. For instance, it happens at Redfern and other places in Sydney. I have heard of police brutality and victimisation of Aborigines in that area. Senator Keeffe has raised a case of it happening in Western Australia. I have had it brought to my attention that such things have happened in Victoria and in South Australia. So surely a royal commission in this area would serve the purpose of making us all satisfied that justice not only will seem to be carried out but also will be carried out because those who are responsible for the enforcement of the law will know that if they are not administering justice as they should there is a likelihood of someone bringing them to book. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, it is strange that this evening I find myself on the same platform as Senator Keeffe.
– I do not think that anyone needs to apologise for being on the same platform as a political opponent when the cause is considered by both to be just. Accepting at face value that both honourable senators who have spoken on this question are desirous of doing something about rectifying what is claimed to be police brutality, I think that we should all join with them and say that we are united on this question. I think that it is generally accepted today that it is not only Aborigines but also members of the low socioeconomic community who are being arrested for crimes. Members of this section of the community who offend against the laws of Australia get a rough time from the police. 1 think that from time to time in the areas where the members of the Aboriginal community are regarded as far inferior by the white section of the community, the police somewhat reflect the general attitude of the community that the Aborigines should not receive the normal just treatment. No one has been more aware of this than me in my portfolio. No one has tried to do more to obviate it and to see whether we can prevent it.
When I took over this portfolio my predecessor, the present Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), had an ex-policeman from Victoria, Mr Shilton, travelling Australia to make a report on police brutality. When his report was given to me I found that it showed he had interviewed only Aboriginal people who had made allegations against the police; but the police refused to see him to contradict the statements and he could just repeat what Aborigines had said about how they were brutally assaulted by the police on various occasions. I did not even release the report for publication because I thought that in view of the negotiations in which
I was involved at the time it would do more harm than good in bringing about a better relationship with the police. It contained just a series of accusations, and the police had the right to make alternative charges or statements but they refused. When we receive a report of police brutality I never receive a report which is not investigatedand it goes to the State concerned for investigation, invariably the report of the police, supported by the fact that the defendant was convicted in the court, is that there was no foundation for the allegations that were made to me. Despite all that, we know that unnecessary rough treatment is taking place.
Senator Keeffe has raised 3 issues. This is what I know about the Finke River incident. I was telephoned by Miss McGrath from the Legal Aid Office in Katherine last Friday. She told me that what took place could be reported as a near riot. Her version of the incident, having interviewed the Aborigines in the court at Alice Springs, was that a member of the train crew abused the Aborigines and one Aboriginal of the tribe took exception to it and a fight ensued. The police were called and there was a serious bashing up of the Aboriginal people. She asked me to send George Abdullah from my Department to investigate it because she thought he had some method of conveying information to or getting the confidence of the Aboriginal people. We were not in the position that he could be spared from the Central Office. We sent Mr Bobby Liddle who is employed by us at Alice Springs and who is a part Aboriginal. We thought that he would have a good rapport with the Aborigines for investigation into this matter and report to me and to the Legal Aid Service at Alice Springs. The Legal Aid Service at Alice Springs is handling the case before the court.
I read in the newspapers this morning of the arrests that have occurred at Yuendumu. The European police were asked to go to Yuendumu by the tribesmen of the settlement because there had been some trouble and some fighting and the nurses had left the settlement. When the police arrived I believe a fight occurred between them and the Aborigines. It was only then that I found that the sergeant who was sent to Yuendumu had been taken off another settlement because of bad treatment of Aborigines. He had been brought into Alice Springs because it was thought he could be kept under better surveillance. The natural hatred of Aborigines by the policeman caused an upsurge of violence on his arrival. I wrote to the then Attorney-General asking whether he could make some other arrangements and get a more suitable policeman.
A lot is achieved if policemen can talk to and cooperate with Aborigines.
As I said this morning, the situation at Laverton is not the most serious in Western Australia. WhenI was there Europeans claimed that they walked into a police station and saw a sergeant of police bashing up an Aboriginal in order to obtain from him an assurance that he would plead guilty to a charge the next morning.I have heard of policemen saying to their girl friendsthis is not the evidence of Aborigines- ‘I am going out to get a few more boongs’. That is an indication of what is happening in Western Australia and it has been conveyed to the Acting Premier of Western Australia. The Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, telexed a letter to me today. He asked me to wait for Magistrate Sydall ‘s report. The Premier appointed the magistrate to make a report on the matter because of his sympathy to Aborigines and his record in Aboriginal affairs. The letter states:
After reading your 7 February letter, I am still of the opinion that we should await Magistrate Sydall’s report as he is a person who is highly regarded in the State because of his experience with, knowledge of, and sympathy for the Aboriginal people.
Unfortunately, he was admitted to hospital yesterday but I am assured he will be discharged fairly soon and should have his report ready for Cabinet next Tuesday.
I am also hopeful I might have a chance to see you for a few minutes whilst I am at the Premiers’ Conference on Friday.
The letter then refers to the possibility of the exaggeration of a person who feels aggrieved. The letter continues:
All the reports I am receiving from the Laverton area are that the responsible elements within the Aboriginal community believe that a full scale royal commission will not be in the best interests of the Aboriginals or the Laverton and Warburton areas.
Doubts have been expressed by Aborigines that the fear of going before a royal commission may prevent the obtaining of the truth.
When I became Minister for Aboriginal Affairs police from No. 21 Division in Sydney were going into Redfern and bashing up the Aborigines. I approached Mr Maddison, the then Minister of Justice in New South Wales, with the proposal that we should have a conference between the police and the Aboriginal community. The conference was arranged with Mr Maddison ‘s support and the arrest rate at the Empress Hotel at Redfern dropped 73 per cent.
The publican praised the reduction in the damage such as broken glasses, bottles and windows that had been occurring at this hotel. Damage was practically eliminated. This appears to be the solution. I have approached Ministers in other States.I have approached Mr Whitrod, the Commissioner of Police in Queensland, who said: ‘Well, they can call in and see our sergeant at any time. He will listen to them’. There is no formal arrangement. I have approached the South Australian Minister with the view to holding a similar conference there. The conference cannot be held because of charges pending as a result of a dispute at the Royal Exchange Hotel at Port Adelaide. The dispute happened 6 months ago and the charges have not yet been heard.
– That does not prevent any discussion.
– We wanted to have a discussion and see whether we could get a better relationship. The Attorney-General of South Australia thought it would be inappropriate to have a discussion on this and other incidents while there were related matters before the court. Those matters are still being dealt with. We find that there is not a general interest to try to do something in this area. We can do nothing because Aborigines are refused tea and sandwiches in Queensland. We have no racial discrimination Bill. We made an attempt to clean up Queensland last session. The Senate rejected the Bill which would have enabled us to do so. The Senate will not give us the armament for the purpose of going in and doing things for the Aborigines. Opposition senators cry crocodile tears as if they want to do something for the Aborigines.
I assure Senator Keeffe that we will have an investigation into each one of the cases he raised. I am hopeful that we will have a royal commission in Western Australia after I see Sir Charles Court on Friday. I am hopeful that we can discuss the question. I think all a royal commission can do is to identify what has happened, which is something we all know. If it is thought a royal commission can do anything to find a solution to the problem I am prepared to submit to the Government that it should appoint a royal commission for the purpose of inquiry into the problem.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
Accommodation for Ministers in Canberra
– On 27 November 1974 Senator Gietzelt asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following question without notice:
Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a message from the International Secretariat of Amnesty International advising of finding the tortured body of Lumi Videla Moya dumped on the premises of the Italian Embassy in Santiago, a report confirmed by the Italian Foreign Office in Rome? Does the message also allege that the husband and 4 year old son of the dead woman were also tortured in her presence? In view of the serious allegation and the extension of torture to young children, will the Leader of the Government raise this inhuman and fiendish development with the Prime Minister and ask him to protest on behalf of the Australian Government to GeneralPinochet against the torture and murder of political prisoners in Chile? In particular, will the Attorney-General ask the Prime Minister to seek the release of Sergio Alfredo Perez and his 4 year old son and offer them asylum in Australia?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I have not seen the message to which the honourable senator refers. Our Embassy in Santiago has reported that an official enquiry is to be conducted into the death of Lumi Videla Moya. The Embassy has received no information confirming the alleged torture of Sra Moya’s 4 year old son. The Australian Embassy in Chile has been instructed to report the results of the enquiry to the Department of Foreign Affairs as soon as it is completed. The Embassy will continue to take all appropriate opportunities to condemn the continuing disregard for human rights in Chile and to urge the Chilean authorities to release their political prisoners.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labor and Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1 refer the honourable senator to the answer given by the Prime Minister, through his representative in the Senate, to question number 302 on 3 1 October 1974 (Senate Hansard, page 2 198).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What training is given to members of the Australian Army in the area of control of civil disturbances and maintenance of internal security.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The control of civil disturbances and maintenance of internal security in Australia are responsibilities of the civil law enforcement authorities. Section 51 of the Defence Act provides for call out of the military forces in aid to the civil authorities in certain circumstances. No element of the Defence Force has ever been called out in Australia in aid of the civil authorities.
Members of the Australian Army are not given training in relation to control of civil disturbances and maintenance of internal security. A number of training courses for officers include some lectures and instruction in the theoretical aspects and principles of assistance by the Defence Force to the civil authorities.
Limited training in respect of aid to the civil power is conducted by elements of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (which at this time remains part of the Australian Defence Force). It will be recalled that the Papua New Guinea Government has announced that one of the responsibilities of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force after independence will be ‘to be able to assist the police in the maintenance of public order and security as a last resort if the police cannot reasonably be expected to cope. ‘
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Did the Minister receive a telex message from the Northern Land Council at Crocker Island, objecting to the bombing of Quail Island; if so, will the Minister inform the Senate if, and when, he intends to answer to the telex message, as the bombing of Quail Island re-started on 23 November 1974 at the Minister’s direction.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Minister received a telex message relating to Quail Island from Ward Keller, Solicitors, Darwin, on behalf of the Northern Land Council. He replied by telegram on 22 November 1974.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Are Regional Councils, established under the Australian Assistance Plan, required to observe all the provisions of the Audit Act in accounting for expenditure of moneys.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Regional Councils for Social Development are not Australian Government bodies and therefore are not bound by legislation such as the Audit Act regarding their expenditure of money. They are, nevertheless, expected to exercise normal financial prudence over their expenditure which should stand up to public scrutiny. In addition, the Councils arc required to comply with the specific conditions attached to the Australian Government grants made to them and these, among other things, are set out in a document titled ‘Australian Assistance Plan- Guidelines for Pilot Programme’ referred to in my reply to the honourable senator’s question No. 316 of 24 0ctober 1974
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The discussion papers and progress reports have suggested that local residents and welfare consumer groups be encouraged toparticipate in the planning and provision of welfare services under the Australian Assistance Plan.
Interim Regional Councils have, through their own initiative in striving for strong regional recognition and involvement, advertised widely and have held numerous public meetings.
In addition staff of the Social Welfare Commission and the Department of Social Security have advocated this action in their consultation with Interim Regional Councils.
Regional Councils formed so far enjoy a wide regional and cross-sectional representation of citizens in their area.
As and example of regional representation achieved following advertisements, meetings and the formation of Regional Councils, I refer you to the Answers to Questions Nos 604 to 637 which appeared in the House of Representatives Hansard of 22, 23, 29, 30 and 3 1 October 1974.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Nest, (c) Gosford, (e) Narrabeen, (f) Narribri, (g) Newcastle, (h) Parramatta and (i) Surry Hills.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As anticipated however, all regional groups have to date advertised their intentions, whether by newspaper, posters, letters, radio, television or public meetings. In particular many smaller public meetings have preceded larger regional meetings in order to acquaint people with the Australian Assistance Plan.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Pensioner patients accommodated in Tasmanian nursing homes are now eligible to receive from the Australian Government benefits totalling $69.30 a week in the case of ordinary care patients or $90.30 a week in the case of patients who need and receive intensive nursing home care. These amounts are made up of the following componentsordinary nursing care benefits of $24.50 a week plus an additional pensioner benefit of $44.80 a week and, where appropriate, intensive care benefit of $2 1 a week.
In addition such patients may also receive the single rate of age pension which presently stands at $3 1 .00 a week even when they are married pensioners. Pensioner patients in nursing homes may also qualify for supplementary assistance of $5 a week.
This means that pensioner patients in Tasmanian nursing homes may therefore receive total Government assistance of $105.30 a week as an ordinary care patient or $126.30 a week as an intensive care patient.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Commission of Inquiry into Poverty
Professor Henderson will himself determine the method of inquiry to be adopted and the time necessary for the work to bc finalised.’
The Inquiry was augmented by the appointment of another four Commissioners in March 1973. Within their terms of reference, the Commissioners are entitled to commission research into such matters as they consider appropriate.
The Department of Social Security is, however, responsible for approving funds requested by the Commissioners for research projects. In so doing the Department checks that the projects are within the terms of reference of the Inquiry, that the projects do not duplicate work being carried out elsewhere and that the costs of the projects are reasonable.
Social Welfare Commission
To date, the Social Welfare Commission has not had available to it the funds to implement a comprehensive research grants program, although guidelines and proposed working arrangements have been developed and a Research Advisory Committee set up in anticipation of funds being made available.
Therefore, the Commission has never advertised for research applications. However, it regularly receives research applications and has itself commissioned a number of research projects, as listed in the answer to (1) and (2) above.
Applicants were required to provide information concerning:
Decisions ‘as to who was to receive a grant and what was to be the amount of the grant’ were made by a full meeting of the Commission. These decisions were referred to the Minister if the amount exceeded the Chairman ‘s delegation to incur expenditure.
Terms of reference for decisions were based on the fact that a project:
A description of the project and the applicant was submitted to the Department of Social Security to ensure that it did not duplicate any projects the Department was funding.
Australian Assistance Plan
Since the Australian Assistance Plan is a completely new experiment within Australia, research expertise in this area is limited. For this reason, the Social Welfare Commission approached organizations and individuals it felt were capable of carrying out the specific research projects it required.
In line with the above, the Commission checked qualifications and experience prior to approaching individuals and organisations and specified the nature of the research to be undertaken.
The individuals and organizations approached were required to submit an outline of methods and techniques to be used, staff to bc employed and detailed budget. Only if this proved acceptable to the Commission were the individuals or organizations commissioned to proceed with the research project.
The Australian Assistance Plan is the specific responsibility of the Social Welfare Commission and the Department of Social Security. It would not be appropriate at this point in time for any other body to fund projects in this experimental area.
Section 15 (b) of the Social Welfare Commission Act of 1973 empowers the Commission to engage or make other arrangements with persons or institutions to carry out research for the Commission on any matter being investigated by the Commission.
Brotherhood of St Laurence Family Centre Project
The Brotherhood of St Laurence Family Centre Project is an experiment that will provide a ‘package deal ‘of financial assistance, amenities and staff resources to some 60 poor, socially disadvantaged families. The Project will attempt, via the supply of these resources, to provide an opportunity to the families concerned to learn the processes and methods of social decision making and to develop a ‘self-help’ orientation, so that they themselves will take initiatives aimed at improving their basic social and economic circumstances.
A key element of the Project consists of an Income Supplement ‘as of right’ to free the families from economicpressures so that they will be able to utilize the other resources provided at the Family Centre. Research into the impact of the Income Supplement on the families concerned provides one of the basic justifications for the Project.
The Project commenced operation in November 1972, and is to run for three years. Expenditure (excluding capital costs) on the Project for the 1973-74 and 1974-75 financial years is estimated by the Brotherhood of St Laurence at approximately $484,400 of which currently $60,000 is being funded by the Australian Department of Social Security.
Two grants, one of $10,000 the other of $500 have also been made to the Brotherhood of St Laurence by the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty. These grants have been made to assist in the evaluation of the Income Supplement component of the Project, and to enable an examination of factors limiting the stable employment of disadvantaged adults to be undertaken.
The grant of $60,000 was approved by the Minister for Social Security following evaluation by the Department of Social Security of a request for funds from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The grants of $10,000 and $500 were approved by the Director-General, Department of Social Security, following recommendations from Professor R. Henderson, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, and Dr R. T. Fitzgerald, a Commissioner on the Inquiry.
University of New South Wales- Family Research Project
The honourable senator’s attention is invited to the Ministerial Statement on this Project made by the then Minister for Social Services, the Honourable W. C. Wentworth, appearing at pages 1028-1029 of Hansard (House of Representatives) for 3 1 August 1972 and his own ministerial statement appearing at pages 656-657 of Hansard (Senate) for 31 August 1972.
On attaining office, sponsorship of this Project by the Department of Social Security was confirmed by the present Minister.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for. Education, upon notice:
1 ) What instructions, if any, have been supplied to staff in
– The Minister for Education has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Teachers are permitted to smoke in offices and staff rooms. They shall refrain from smoking in classrooms, in corridors and while on playground duty.
No directions have been issued regarding smoking by teachers in school grounds. This is considered an issue for each school to decide and the decision is left to the professional acumen of principals and teachers.
The instructions currently applying in the Australian Capital Territory are similar to those contained in the ‘ Handbook Instructions and Information for the Guidance of Teachers’, second division revised impression 1969, N.S.W. Department of Education. For the Northern Territory see (l)(b) above.
The Interim A.C.T. Schools Authority, which has been in operation for only one year, is currently formulating instructions and guidelines for teachers. The matter of smoking by teachers on school premises will be covered by these instructions.
The instruction for the A.C.T. has been in operation for more than 25 years. For the Northern Territory see ( 1 )
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Albury-Wodonga: Establishment of a University (Question No. 268)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A meeting was recently held between representatives of the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments, the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education and the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation to discuss the establishment ofthe university at AlburyWodonga. The Government will take firm decisions on the opening date ofthe university and other matters related to its establishment as soon as it is possible to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: ( 1 ), (2) and (3). It is established procedure that all bookings for overseas air travel at Australian Government expense are made direct with Qantas or one of its General Sales Agents. If Qantas cannot make space available on one of its own or its partners’ flights on the date travel is desired and it is not feasible to alter the date Qantas will arrange u booking through another carrier.
Because of this administrative arrangement, warrants are placed on Qantas or its General Sales Agents rather than a particular airline, e.g. Ethiopian Airways. The extraction of information to indicate which bookings were made at Government expense for travel on Ethiopian Airways would be, I am advised, a lengthy and costly exercise involving the examination of many thousands of documents and is not considered to be warranted.
asked the Minister for ‘ Nation Review ‘ upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The document in question is a telegram. Its publication was without authorisation. I do not consider that publication has compromised the security of communications between Australian missions abroad and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra or that any suspicion lies upon officers of my Department.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (l)to(3)-
– On 19 November 1974, Senator Devitt asked me the following question, without notice:
The Minister will be aware of the departmental policy requiring all future installations of ships’ radios to be of the single side band type. I ask: Is he aware that the single side band radio is twice the cost of the type of radio currently in use, in other words, about $1,200 as compared with $500 or $600? Is he also aware that there is no need whatsoever to require single side band sets to be installed in those vessels commonly referred to as small ships, that is, yachts, pleasure craft and vessels of that kind? In view of the discouragement to install radios because of the very great cost involved in single side band sets does the Minister appreciate the reduction in the safety aspect of small ship usage? Will he seek a review of the situation?
The following is the answer the honourable senator’s question:
The change in the transmission mode to single side band is being introduced on a world wide basis by international agreement as a means of relieving serious congestion in the high frequency radio spectrum so that services may continue to operate without harmful interference.
The plans for the change in the method of operation in the maritime service, which were announced in May 1972, provide that no new or replacement double side band equipment may be installed at any coast station or in any ship station for normal communication purposes after 1 January 1974. However, the plans also provide that ship stations licensed before 1 January 1974, which operate on frequencies above 4 MHz are not required to change to single side band until 1 January 1978, and these which operate only on frequencies below 4 MHz, until 1 January 1982. Yachts and pleasure craft mainly fall in the latter category.
It is true, as I indicated previously, that the new single side band equipment is more expensive than double side band equipment. Nevertheless, it is not considered desirable to grant exemptions from the requirement on this account. There is no need for the safety of small vessels, such as yachts and pleasure craft, to be in jeopardy, however, as provision exists for their owners to install double side band equipment fitted for operation on 2182 kHz, which is the international distress and calling frequency and on which all official coastal radio stations keep a continuous listening watch. Owners of small vessels may also belong to one of the many clubs which operate around the Australian coast and participate in the safety harbour mobile communication services which are normally provided.
Furthermore, my Department’s policy now provides for the establishment and operation of very high frequency maritime radiotelephone services in Australia which will be designed to cater for the communication needs of small vessels operating in coastal waters and it is hoped to announce details of the new types of these services shortly.
Degree Course for Teachers
– On 1 1 December 1974 Senator Melzer asked me a question, without notice, about bonded teachers. I have been advised by my colleague the Minister for Education that assistance under the Tertiary Education System Scheme, including the special concession to two and three year trained teachers wishing to obtain degrees is not available to students who arebonded or party to a training agreement with an employer. This is long standing practice and ensures that government assistance is applied to the students’ choice of course rather than to the training of personnel for a particular company or industry.
Where a student is under a bond he can become eligible for assistance by discharging his obligations under that arrangement.
No special arrangements have been made by us to extend the concession to bonded teachers employed by State Departments of Education.
The concession is aimed mainly at mature teachers who on the basis of their experience feel the need for improvement in qualifications. It is expected that a large number of those seeking assistance under the concession will have already discharged their obligations through years of service. It should be remembered however that in most States the Education Departments themselves have in-service courses and grant study leave to enable teachers to undertake further study. The special concession under our scheme should be seen as complementing existing arrangements enabling teachers to upgrade qualifications.
Trades Hall Building in Hobart
-On 29 October 1 974 (Hansard, page 2022) Senator Marriott requested that I ask the Minister for Services and Property to provide the Senate with information concerning:
The Minister for Services and Property has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 February 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19750211_senate_29_s63/>.