29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 10.29 a.m., and read prayers.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement concerning the absence from the Senate chamber of the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop).
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In view of the unavoidable absence of Senator Bishop from the Senate chamber today, I wish to advise honourable senators that questions concerning the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Labor and Immigration should be directed to me.
– I again ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he accepts that if the Prime Minister of this country and the members of his touring party are subjected to spying, bugging of rooms, surveillance and attempted theft when they are the guests of a country they are visiting this ought to be a matter of concern to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the people of Australia. In view of the admission, painstakingly extracted from the Minister that he had not even read the articles in which these allegations were made and that his Department had not informed him of the allegations of eavesdropping, surveillance of rooms, 2-way mirrors, secret doors and so on, will he explain why he does not know these things have happened and why his Department has not explained them? For the third time, I ask: Will he elaborate to the people of Australia whether these things occurred and, if they occurred, whether a protest was made to the Russian Government? If no protest was made, why not?
– Firstly, as is not unusual for Senator Greenwood, he has based his third question to me on a false premise. I did not say that I was not aware of the newspaper articles. In fact, I said that I remembered seeing them. What I did say was that no complaint had been made to me by anybody on the trip that these things took place. Then the honourable senator asked a hypothetical question namely: If these things happened, are they not of serious concern? I reply: Yes, they would be of serious concern if they happened, but that is a hypothetical question. I said in my answer to his question either yesterday or the day before that I had seen the articles. But I also pointed out that generally I do not act on newspaper articles unless they are followed up or unless they are so serious that I think they should be followed up. The situation is that the honourable senator is basing his question on a false premise. I had read those articles. I repeat that I have had no complaints made to me. The other thing that he asked me was whether I would apologise to the various governments if these things were true.
– Has your Department not given you any briefing on it?
-No, my Department has not given me any briefing on it because I have not asked it to do so and because there have been no complaints from the people involved.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did Australia sign a treaty on migratory birds with Japan in February 1974? Is it true that the New South Wales Government, through its Public Works Department, has contravened Article VI by seeking to create the Kooragang Island industrial site on what was formerly mud flats used by the migratory birds concerned?
-I think 1 answered a similar question on this subject a session or two ago. We have signed a treaty on migratory birds with the Government of Japan. The treaty will not be ratified until the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill is passed by the Parliament. I am informed that it is expected that that Bill will be introduced into the Senate in the near future. The Government believes that when that Bill is passed it will have the power to enforce the provisions of the treaty on migratory birds. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, has been examining the question of whether actions by the New South Wales State Government will be in contravention of this treaty once it is ratified by the Australian Government. I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation for advice about where the matter stands at the moment.
-My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, refers to the Government’s decision to request the Industries Assistance Commission to review the abolition of the superphosphate bounty. I ask whether consideration of applications already referred to the IAC on behalf of new land farmers in Western Australia is to proceed separately from the general review? If so, is a recommendation expected before the general review is completed? Will the Minister give an assurance that should the IAC recommend a bounty, the Government will make the new bounty retrospective to 1 January 1975?
-I anticipate that the Industries Assistance Commission will report on the new lands reference prior to the general reference on superphosphate. I have not had any specific discussion on the matter with the Special Minister of State, who is now responsible for IAC references, but I recall that at the time of the decision to refer the whole question of phosphate to the Commission it was understood that a separate report on the new lands would be brought down. 1 anticipate that it will come within the next month or so. As to the second part of the question concerning payments being retrospective in the event of the Government’s accepting any such recommendation, I could not give that commitment. It would be a matter for government decision and particularly for the consideration of the Treasurer. I am quite sure that the Government, in making its decision, will be mindful of the problems which obviously have become known to the Commission during the course of its inquiry. The decision on the general reference, I assume, will not be available to the Government until May or possibly June.
-I ask the Minister for the Media: Is it true that poor television reception is still a feature of some metropolitan areas? Is something being done to rectify this problem? Will the Minister tell us whether basic steps can be taken by viewers to improve reception?
– In the past year the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has undertaken several investigations into complaints of poor television reception in various part of Australia.
As a result of surveys that have been taken, the Broadcasting Control Board is at present conducting experiments in the eastern suburbs of Sydney by use of a caravan and is making assessments of the television reception in that area.
The public survey unit aims to do 2 things. Its first objective is to collect further information on the reception problems in the area. This is the first of many areas that I understand are to be surveyed by the Broadcasting Control Board. The van is equipped with television sets showing various forms of interference. Residents are being invited to identify their particular complaint concerning television reception. Once the residents’ problems are more accurately known it is hoped that some advice can be given as to the likely cause of poor reception and how it can be overcome.
Surveys that have been taken by the Board to date indicate that a large part of the poor reception is probably because of the obsolescence of the antennae and of the cables connecting the antennae to the sets. Generally speaking the Board is looking at these matters and is conducting a wide survey in Sydney at present by the use of mobile facilities. This will be extended throughout other areas of Australia.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. I refer to the reported intention of the motor vehicle complex Nissan Motor Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd to bypass the use of the engine manufacturing facilities of Chrysler Australia Ltd at Lonsdale in South Australia in favour of a plant in Victoria. In view of the heavy dependence of South Australia on the motor vehicle building industry in providing employment in that State and in the interests of maintaining reasonable decentralisation of industry as between the States, will the Minister do all within his power to facilitate the use of this Adelaide plant by Nissan in conjunction with Chrysler as was originally announced would be done?
-This is a highly complex and delicate problem. In view of recent items that have appeared in the Press, notably an article in yesterday’s ‘Australian Financial Review’, I have only this morning had a quite lengthy discussion with the head of my Department about this whole matter. As a result of that discussion I find that it is an even more complex problem than I had suspected. I intend to resume these discussions with the head of my
Department later today. I can assure the honourable senator that this matter is in the very forefront of my preoccupations, new as I am to the problems of this portfolio. It is not a problem for which I can see an easy or an immediate solution. However, as I said, I intend to continue my discussions with the Department and I can assure the honourable senator that I will let him have an answer to his question as soon as I am in a position to do so, and I hope that will be soon.
-Is the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation aware that medical treatment by acupuncture can be of great benefit to many patients and that this technique is recognised throughout the world? Will the Minister undertake to examine the benefits of acupuncture with a view to making it available to veterans who need treatment under the repatriation system?
– All honourable senators probably have had their interest drawn during recent years to the claims that have been made by various people on behalf of acupuncture. Inquiries have been made by the medical officers of my Department.
– It is what is called ‘giving him the needle’.
– I suppose that there are various ways of giving people the needle. If I were personally selecting an acupuncturist I do not think Senator Cotton would be the one I would care to consult. Inquiries have been made by my Department which, as honourable senators are aware, does have responsibility for a number of very large hospitals. As a result of these inquiries, on the recommendations of the medical officers of the Repatriation and Compensation Department it has been decided to use acupuncture to treat veterans who request the use of acupuncture and for whom it is medically recommended. The policy of the Repatriation Commission on the use of acupuncture for repatriation beneficiaries was based on the report which was issued in 1974 by the National Health and Medical Research Council and which followed, as Senator Baume has reminded us, a visit by an investigating team which studied the subject in Korea, China, Hong Kong and the United States.
The recommendations, which have been largely carried through, include the setting up of controlled clinical trials to evaluate the use of acupuncture in 4 separate situations. The first is the alleviation of pain, which seems to be the most notable use of acupuncture, in particular for headache, sciatica, joint pain and postoperative pain. The second is the treatment of narcotic and alcohol withdrawal states. The third is the treatment of deafness. The fourth is dental and obstetric analgesia. There was a further recommendation from the Council that at present the practice of acupuncture should be restricted to registered medical and dental practitioners. It is not the purpose of the Commission to allow people who are not qualified in what, for want of a better term, one could call the orthodox medical science to use acupuncture within the Repatriation Commission hospitals. So far 1 4 applications for treatment have been received. The appropriate details are being recorded so that we can continue to make an evaluation as a result of the work which is being done in this field by my Department. The practice which has been introduced includes the safeguard that if a departmental medical officer considers acupuncture may be harmful in a particular case, the opinion of an appropriate specialist is to be sought. I apologise if my answer seemed to bc rather long but I think this is an important question and that an answer in some detail is required on a matter in which I believe there is quite a lot of public interest.
-My question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General relates to withdrawal from the Senate notice paper of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill. Why has this Bill been withdrawn? Is it a fact that the present Attorney-General wishes to review the clauses of the Bill? Can the Minister assure the Senate that in a review of the proposed legislation notice will be taken of the many submissions to the previous Attorney-General from the interests involved in the corporations and securities industry, or will the Attorney-General hold discussions with leaders in that industry prior to bringing down a new Bill?
-As I recall it, this Bill was introduced on the last night of the last sittings of Parliament by the then AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy. I must confess that 1 have not yet found time to read the Bill which roughly is of the proportions of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. I had intended to take it home to read in bed one night but I have not as yet mustered the strength to carry it home. I have discussed it with the new Attorney-General. As Senator Webster has suggested, the reason the Bill has been withdrawn from the Senate notice paper is that the Attorney-General wants the opportunity to study it and perhaps redraw it in the light of representations he has already had.
The Attorney-General has assured me that he is ready to receive submissions and representations from any persons interested in the final form of the Bill, including representatives of the various stock exchanges in Australia, and that the Bill will be reintroduced in the other House, as is appropriate in view of the fact that the present Attorney-General is a member of the House of Representatives, after he has received and considered such representations. I think honourable senators will recall that this was the course followed by the former Attorney-General in relation to an equally important Bill, the Trade Practices Bill, and that that emerged as a more comprehensive and fairer Act as a result of his consideration of wide representations on the matter. We hope that this also will be the case in relation to the Bill mentioned by Senator Webster.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Media and refer to a statement issued yesterday by the Minister in which he stated that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is seeking the expert guidance of practising journalists with regard to guidelines for producers of radio and television programs which include interviews. What is the Government’s reaction to the proposed guidelines drafted by the Board? Will the Minister express the Government’s attitude as to the justification for the application of guidelines which have been described by the State President of the New South Wales Broadcasting and Television Section of the Australian Journalists Association as restrictive, unspecific and unnecessary in most of their terms? Does the Minister consider that broadcasting and television journalists should have constraints which override the AJA code of ethics for fair reporting and which would not apply to newspaper journalists? Does the Minister consider that such guidelines could result in management of news released through the electronic media? Has the Minister specific instances of gaps in the AJA code which need special constraints from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board?
Frankly, I did not know that I had issued any statement on the matter. I have not seen it yet if it has been issued. I tell the honourable senators that immediately. The first time I knew anything about this subject was yesterday afternoon when the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board rang me to say that some journalists had rung him. In answering this question let me remind honourable senators that last year the Australian Government presented to this Parliament a Bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act which, if it had been enacted, would have given supervisory power to the Australian Parliament- not to the Government but to the Parliament- over the existing regulatory powers of the Broadcasting Control Board. Because of the attitude adopted by the Opposition, the second reading of that legislation was refused. Therefore, it was not enacted. I have just been handed a ‘media release from the office of the Minister for the Media’. Apparently it has come out on my letterhead. I notice that it was made in Melbourne yesterday. Obviously it has conic from the Broadcasting Control Board.
– The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
– If Senator Marriott had listened to the debate that took place last session he would know that the Board is a completely independent statutory authority.
– How can it be if it functions through your Department?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSenator Carrick is saying something now. The legislation was refused passage through the second reading stage by the Opposition. So it is quite wrong for anyone in the Opposition or anyone else to say that these new proposals- as I understand it, they are proposals only- have anything to do with the Government. The first I knew about them was when Mr Wright, the Chairman of the Board, rang me yesterday afternoon and told me that certain newspaper journalists had been ringing him about the matter. Last October he gave evidence to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts which was inquiring into all aspects of radio and television. Senator Carrick asked him about this very matter. As reported at pages 354 and 355 of the Hansard report of the Standing Committee’s meeting, Senator Carrick suggested that the Board design a code to be put to the commercial operators, have some common discussion with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and so get something which Senator Carrick thought the whole community and, he suspected, the media people themselves and the journalists themselves, would want.
I understand that as an extension of the attitude which was adopted by Senator Carrick at thatmeeting of the Standing Committee and which appeared to be the consensus of the members of that Committee, the Board has extended its activities in this regard. As a result, having obtained the guidelines of the British Independent Broadcasting Association- the IBA- the Board has put the proposals to the General President of the Australian Journalists Association for consideration by the Association. I am told that, apart from one or two matters raised in opposition by the President of the AJA, the belief is that the proposed guidelines are very much in common with the existing code of ethics of the Australian Journalists Association. Nonetheless the President of the AJA, I understand, undertook to obtain the opinions of the district committees of his Association. It is in that vein that this matter has been developing. It is completely a matter for the Broadcasting Control Board. Everyone in the Senate in particular should realise that this Parliament determined as recently as last November that the regulatory powers should remain with the Board, not with this Parliament.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. In fairness to the Minister for the Media who is confused because I referred to a media release from his office, I ask: Is it customary for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to release statements purporting to come from the Minister’s office?
– I would not know how the release has been made. I will make inquiries and advise the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister for Agriculture seen Queensland Press reports that the Premier of Queensland, the Honourable J. Bjelke-Petersen, is expecting to sign long term trade agreements with Japan for Queensland beef. What does the Minister know about this matter?
– I have seen Press reports to that effect, and I understand that the Queensland Premier has indicated his interest in such agreements. I would be surprised if they ever became a reality. It has been the practice over the years for the Australian Meat Board to negotiate long term agreements or they have been entered into between private traders and overseas buyers. Mr Bjelke-Petersen suggested some months ago that the Australian Government ought to play off its coal exports against its need to export beef to Japan. According to the Press report that I saw, apparently he dissociates himself now from that stand, and I am glad that he does. But at the time he first took that stand I indicated that it was a reprehensible approach to take with one of our major trading partners. At least Mr Bjelke-Petersen has made some progress in the last few months by adopting a more commonsense approach- or appearing to.
– My question is directed to the Minister who represents the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Australian Government is negotiating to borrow up to $A2,000m from the Arab countries of the Middle East? Is it also a fact that in these negotiations the Russian Moscow Narodny Bank Ltd is the intermediary?
– I have seen reports in the Press this morning concerning this matter and I understand that questions were addressed in the House of Representatives to Mr Connor, whose name was mentioned in the Press report. A question may also have been asked of the Prime Minister. I am not in a position to divulge the details of any consultations which may be in train between the Australian Government and overseas financial interests. It is a matter for the Treasurer, and I am sure that he will make an announcement in due course if he sees fit.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I remind him of the Senate ‘s inquiry into the Estate Duty Act and my report to the Senate some 14 months ago. Is the Minister aware that Sir Frank Packer, who died on 1 May 1974, was the head of a vast propaganda empire which, from the 1930’s, grew into a web of 60 corporate identities? Is the Government aware that despite the accumulated wealth of the Packer empire, in one portion of which Sir Frank was the principal shareholder and which was sold in June 1 972 for $15m- I refer to the sale of the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘Sunday Telegraph ‘-Sir Frank’s net estate for probate assessment totalled only $1,340,256? Will the Government indicate the ways by which Sir Frank Packer was able to divest himself of most of his fortune during his lifetime for the purpose of the Estate Duty Act whilst retaining absolute control of his vast empire?
Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will take steps to stop such wholesale manipulation of assets by the rich to avoid taxation? Does the Minister agree that the use of tax avoidance schemes undermines the equity of the taxation system and places extra tax burdens on the low and middle income earners? If the Government cannot close the loopholes will it issue instructions to the increasing number of legal aid centres that all citizens be given the opportunity to arrange their affairs so as to minimise their estate duty liabilities?
-I would think most people, irrespective of their individual wealth or their political beliefs, would agree that there should not be loopholes in the taxation system which favour those who are more able to avoid tax than those who are less able to avoid tax. This Government, in the 2 years it has been in office, has endeavoured to close the loopholes. In fact the terms of reference of the Asprey Committee were to advise the Government on matters such as this to ensure that people do pay the tax that is required of them under the income tax law.
I do not know anything about the personal affairs of Sir Frank Packer. It has always been the tradition- of course it should remain that way- that such a matter is personal and confidential as between an individual and the Commissioner of Taxation. I can only say to the honourable senator that I am sure the taxation authorities would be well aware of the matters to which he has referred, assuming they are factually correct. If I can obtain any further information from the Treasurer I will forward it to the honourable senator.
– Can the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs explain to the Senate the delay that is occurring in providing funds to the National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women? Is it a fact that the substantive submission in relation to those funds has been with his Department for more than 6 months? The year 1975 has been declared as International Women’s Year and $2m has been allocated to fund women’s groups and promote women’s causes. Does the Minister understand the frustration and dissatisfaction being experienced by the National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women when large sums of money are to be allocated to other women’s groups in Australia and it has not received any finality in relation to its submission? Will the
Minister finalise this matter without further delay?
-With the funding of hundreds of organisations and various activities one cannot keep track of any particular case., The National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women has put in a yearly budget which is to be processed by my Department to ascertain what funds will be made available and for what activities. That group is frequently in consultation with my Department. If we have not yet funded this organisation for 1974-75, surprisingly I have received no recent protest from it about the matter. I am somewhat doubtful whether it is true that we have not funded the organisation. There may be a delay in dealing with the submission. I will take the matter up with my Department to see what the delay is, if there is any, and I will let the honourable senator know what is happening.
-Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs yet had the opportunity to study the first of 19 research reports to be released by Professor Henderson’s Poverty Inquiry which recommends the abolition of the Queensland Aboriginal and Island Affairs Department and the transfer of its functions to the Australian Government? Will the Minister interpret this recommendation as giving added weight to his contention that the Australian Government should assume the policy and planning direction of Aboriginal affairs in Queensland? Can he further advise the Senate whether we are any nearer to executing this transfer?
– I have not seen the report of the Henderson Committee. I believe it was available to the Press yesterday. I hope to receive a copy of that report today. I have read the newspaper articles which set out what the report says. Apparently it shows the plight of the Aboriginals in Queensland, particularly those in the Brisbane area where the Committee set up a team to survey the life and the prosperity of Aboriginals. I think it has been well known for a long time that overall the Aboriginals in Queenland are the most impoverished anywhere in Australia. Whilst we know the features of poverty in other groups, if we take into account income, housing conditions, loss of freedom and racial discrimination it is clear that Aboriginals are worse off in Queensland than in other States. This has been denied, I note, in one report by the Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland, Mr Hewitt, who justifies the impoverishment of Aboriginals in Queensland by comparing them with Aboriginals in the Northern Territory.
While there are areas in the Northern Territory where Aboriginals are impoverished, in the last 2 years they have possibly made more advances than have Aboriginals anywhere else. It is not true to say that Aboriginals in the Northern Territory are worse off than Aboriginals in Queensland. As the honourable senator knows negotiations on the question of transfer have completely broken off. We have introduced a Bill into the Senate- it was passed in an amended form- which will override the racially discriminatory clauses in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Act. As we have told the Senate, it is our intention to put Aboriginal reserves in Queensland under Australian Government control. The various departments are considering ways and means of doing this at the present time despite the non-co-operation of the Queensland Government. Despite the neglect of Aboriginals by the Queensland Government the Australian Government is determined that Aboriginals there will get the same privileges and rights as Aboriginals in the rest of Australia have.
-I ask the Minister for Manufacturing Industry whether his attention has been drawn to a report in today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ which states:
With Australian manufacturing industry in a depressed condition demand Tor executives and professionals is declining.
I ask the Minister whether his Department has made any statistical inquiry into the reported sharp increase in the number of well qualified managerial people seeking jobs. In view of the value of these people not only to the field of manufacturing industry but also to the total economic and commercial life of this country, can the Minister say when he expects this trend, as reported, to be arrested by enabling the private sector to provide employment opportunities for these people?
– I have not had time this morning to read the ‘Australian Financial Review’ and so my attention has not been drawn to the article in question. However, I suppose it is a matter of common knowledge that middle ranking executives and even higher ranking executives of various undertakings throughout the country have been disemployed- I think that this is the soft word- as a result of the current downturn in industry. That is only to be expected. I assure the honourable senator that none of these displaced persons has yet applied to me for a job. However, I would anticipate that the measures taken by the Government over recent months will rapidly cure this position and that these gentlemen and ladies who have been unfortunate enough to lose their employment will rapidly be re-absorbed in industry. I do not know whether my Department has taken out any statistics but I shall ask it and let the honourable senator have any figures that are available.
– I ask the Minister for Agriculture: Is it true as claimed by Sydney businessman Mr Reuben F. Scarf in Press reports that Australia’s cancellation of a visit by the Palestine Liberation Organisation has cost Australia a $20m meat contract with Iraq?
-AI1 I can say to the honourable senator is that, as I understand the position, an Iraqi trade mission is in New Zealand at the present time. The itinerary of the mission was determined before any decision was made in relation to visas to enter Australia for members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. That mission will be visiting Australia after it leaves New Zealand. I assume that the contract which has been negotiated with New Zealand would be overwhelmingly for the purchase of lamb. As is well known, much of the world’s market prefers New Zealand lamb to Australian lamb. This could well be the case in relation to this contract. I assume that it is a normal commercial deal that has been negotiated in New Zealand. There is no evidence to suggest that the decision on the PLO has in any way affected our trade relations with the countries concerned.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did it come to his notice by Press photograph following the appearance of Arafat, the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, that at the time Arafat addressed the Assembly he was wearing a holster for a gun and that in the course of his speech he stated- apparently metaphorically- that he was bearing a gun. Has the Minister made any inquiries as to this lapse of security at the United Nations? Does he not think it is fair to do so in the interests of the security of all delegations before that Assembly, particularly his own?
-I have been informed of that. I thought Arafat used the phrase during that speech- the honourable senator was there and might be able to brief me on it- ‘I come bearing an olive leaf and a gun’.
– He said: ‘I carry an olive branch and a gun’.
-That is what I meant to say. Thank you for the correction- ‘An olive branch and a gun’. On the question of security, we could make inquiries as to what security arrangements were made. As honourable senators know, there are a lot of security guards around the United Nations. It is not a matter for any particular country; it is a matter for the secretariat. Certainly we could make inquiries about it.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate follows questions I asked on occasions in the past of his predecessor, Senator Murphy, concerning the proposal to establish an Australian coastguard and also to equip the Australian Navy with a number of small fast patrol vessels. Will the Minister discuss with his colleague, the Minister for Defence, the desirability of stationing one of these vessels in a position to cover Bass Strait and the Bass Strait islands in view of the rapidly increasing traffic using Bass Straight for both commercial and private purposes, and the hazards to be encountered in these waters from time to time, as evidenced by the quite frequent rescues of fishing and other vessels using Bass Strait?
– I am not conversant with the specific details of this issue. As the honourable senator pointed out, the Government has taken some policy initiatives in this area in the past 2 years, but I will have to refer the question to my colleague, the Minister for Defence, for a detailed answer.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and refer to a reply the Prime Minister gave yesterday to a question concerning the situation in South Vietnam. The Prime Minister replied that he had told the South Vietnamese Government that it should do more to honour the Paris peace agreements. In view of the clear evidence that North Vietnam has flagrantly and continually breached the agreements from the day they were signed, and clearly never had any intention of honouring the agreements, has the Minister or the Prime Minister protested to North Vietnam over its massive breaches of the agreements? If not, will such a protest be made, if only in the interests of evenhandedness?
– The broad answer is yes, we have. We have made it very clear to all participants that we want to see the Paris accords carried out. We feel that a lot more could be done, and this feeling has been conveyed to the North Vietnamese as well as to other participants.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has he seen the report of Sir Charles Court’s address to American millionaires in New York in which he stated, among other things, that market forces should be allowed to determine prices and that academic would-be price fixers do not know what they are talking about? Do Sir Charles Court and apparently others on the Opposition benches who are now interjecting advocate transport subsidies for mining companies, subsidies for superphosphate and subsidies for petroleum exploration, to mention just a few, the avowed purpose of which is to prevent market forces determining prices? Are Sir Charles Court and apparently several members of the Opposition incapable of recognising their own contradictions or are the academic would-be price fixers not the only people who do not know what they are talking about?
– The question almost invites a fairly long debate and I am not permitted to debate the matter now. The point of Senator Walsh’s question is apparent. Generally, the Government believes that the market should be the principal determining factor. But there are occasions when it is necessary for the Government to assist industries despite the fact that one cannot manipulate the market and it is a dangerous practice. Nevertheless, a government’s role is to stabilise the market forces as much as possible. I think that is as much as I can say in answer to the question.
– In directing my question to the Minister for the Media I refer to the recent circular sent by the Australian Government Publishing Service to subscribers advising that the 1975 annual subscriptions for the weekly issues of the ‘Parliamentary Debates’- Hansard have been increased to the following rates: The Senate $24.30 and the House of Representatives $38.80, making a total subscription of $63.10 per annum. Is it correct that the previous subscription was a total of $1.20 per annum and that therefore the new subscription represents an increase of 5260 per cent in one year? I repeat that the new price represents an increase of 5260 per cent in one year. Does this increase reflect substantially or in part the continuing growth of inflation in this country? How does the Government justify this savage increase in view of its declarations supporting open government and the obvious need for improved communication between the Parliament and the people?
-The decision to increase the subscription rates for Hansard was taken as a result of discussions that I and officers of my Department had with you, Sir, as President of the Senate, and your Clerks, with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Clerks of the House of Representatives and with officers of the Joint House Department. I think it was a fact- I am speaking only from recollection- that the price of Hansard to members of the general public had not been increased for about 25 years. In any event, I point out that, despite the increase that has taken place, the issue of Hansard is still subsidised considerablyI have just forgotten the amount- by this Parliament.
At the same meeting it was decided that my Department, in order to obtain better sales of Hansard in the interests of Parliament, should conduct a feasibility study as to whether business houses and establishments of that nature would be interested in receiving copies of the daily Hansard. That survey is now being undertaken. I can assure the honourable senator that the decision was taken after discussion with the presiding officers of the Parliament and other officers of the Parliament and that the decision that was taken had been pressed for for some considerable time. From recollection, I think that it was for about 25 years.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, by saying that I am sure he and I agree that there is a need to provide accommodation for Aborigines at Laverton. What was the cost of the experimental circular shelter with the opening in the centre of the roof that has been erected at Laverton by his Department?
-The building at Laverton is an experimental shelter. It is known locally as the opera house because of the design of its curved roof. It is a prototype built on an experimental basis. It is hoped to build many more such buildings, with some necessary alterations to remedy any unsatisfactory features that are found. The cost of this particular prototype which would house 4 families was in the vicinity of $23,000 to $25,000. The high cost was due to the experimental nature of the building. It is estimated by the architect that a similar structure could be produced for between $8,000 and $10,000.
– Earlier I was asked by Senator Rae a question concerning the National Council of Aboriginal and Island Women. I have some further information. I have a letter which is a reply to Mr Snedden on 1 1 February. It is apparent that telegrams on this matter have been received by quite a number of people. I pointed out in my letter that a grant of $8,445 was given to the National Council for administrative expenses to the end of December 1 974. The letter continued:
My Department is now examining the Council’s application for a national program amounting to $52,000. The proposal is quite ambitious and, in some respects, may be premature. My Department will negotiate directly with the Council with a view to reaching a mutually satisfactory arrangement.
I believe those negotiations are still continuing.
– I remind the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation of departmental reports that 2 973 non-entitled people were treated in repatriation hospitals throughout Australia between April 1973 and June 1974. I ask: Were these people treated free of charge? If they were treated free of charge under what appropriation was money provided? Why was a fee not charged? Were non-entitled members of the public treated in repatriation hospitals placed at a financial advantage over members of the public at large who pay some portion of their hospital costs?
-As Senator Baume knows, there has been quite a lot of controversy about the use to which repatriation general hospitals should be put. On the one hand some people have argued that repatriation hospitals ought to be abolished and that they ought to be incorporated into a general hospital system. They argue that duplication of services seems to be taking place because the 7 repatriation hospitals are dealing with a specified group of people. On the other hand others very strongly argue, as indeed do most of the ex-service organisations, that the repatriation hospitals should retain their separate identity so that there can be a continuation of association between veterans while in hospital. To a certain extent the Repatriation Commission during recent years has tried to extend the availability of services provided by the repatriation hospitals to other people who are not normally recipients of repatriation benefits. This has happened particularly at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital where a casualty section is being set up.
I am afraid I do not have in my head the precise information that Senator Baume is seeking with regard to the payments which are made or may be made by the people who are not repatriation beneficiaries and who are making use of those hospitals. Certainly quite an important principle is involved. I shall obtain a detailed answer to that part of the honourable senator’s question as soon as possible and inform the Senate.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Agriculture, relates to the beef industry. 1 ask: What are the general criteria for a producer whose property is 100 per cent beef producing to obtain assistance through the Government’s $20m loan arrangement recently announced? I ask this question because one such producer after making application for short term assistance was advised to sell some plant and one property against a stock account of approximately $30,000, notwithstanding that he is currently paying 1 5 per cent interest to his stock agent who no longer wishes to accommodate him in this way. Does the Minister agree that such advice would only reduce the overall viability of this man’s property as a fully operational unit and would do nothing to help him in his current short term problem?
– It would be quite foolish to dismiss the significance of the question because we are finding under this scheme, which is administered through the Commonwealth Development Bank, that cases such as the one that has been mentioned by Senator Bessell are arising. I point out initially that in the original approaches from the industry it was not requested that the moneys be made available at less than the normal Commonwealth Development Bank loan interest rates. I do not say that the industry specifically excluded that proposition but the important point is that it did not request it. As such, the loans being made available are at the normal rate. The Bank has been instructed by the Government to be as sympathetic as it possibly can, but at the same time the Bank must exercise reasonable commercial discretion in making these moneys available. There are sole producers who, because of the downturn in the market, would find it not only difficult but in some cases almost impossible to service the loan. This has become apparent in the last month or so as the applications have started to come in.
I have discussed this matter briefly with the Treasurer and we have not come to any firm conclusion as to what may be done. I would feel that at this stage the Bank, acting within its authority under the scheme, is being as lenient as it possibly can. It may be necessary for the scheme to be liberalised in some way. The Government is looking at alternative means of assisting the industry, quite distinct from the specific carry on finance being made available through the Bank. I can assure the honourable senator that the Government certainly will be keeping a close watch on the position and we appreciate the difficulties in the industry. As our experience widens in this area and under this scheme we may find it necessary in some way to assist more liberally perhaps than we are at present those people who are caught in a position such as that which has been indicated. I am not able to be any more specific on that matter simply because we are still to a measure feeling our way to find the best means of making the scheme operate.
-I ask the Minister for Manufacturing Industry: Is the Government working upon an overall plan for the long term future of the automotive industry in Australia? If so, when will that plan be made public? Will the Minister ensure to the Senate the opportunity at that point for full debate upon this vital matter? Is it possible at this point for the Minister to identify the fundamental principles upon which the decisions are to be based? Can the Minister give an assurance that, as a result of current governmental policies, there will be no further significant dismissals of current employees in the industry, including those in ancillary industries?
– In the short time that I have occupied my present position I have become aware that the plight of the motor car industry, the necessity for structural change in the motor car industry and an overall plan for that industry are at the forefront of the Government’s planning for the future. I have obviously not had enough time to put myself forward as having mastered this problem or even being entitled to speak with any authority on the matter. I can assure the honourable senator that from the little I have learnt about the plight of the motor car industry I can say that it will occupy a very prominent place in my sense of obligation in this portfolio. I will certainly be urging that the Government should develop an overall plan for the motor car industry, and that when such a plan has matured it should be made public and every opportunity should be given for honourable senators and for all who are interested to debate the subject.
– Is it likely that there will be further unemployment?
– I know that the Government is taking daily steps to ensure that there will be no further dismissals. I am not able to tell the honourable senator what stage has been reached but I will make further detailed inquiries and let him have a reply.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the question asked of him yesterday in which Senator Keeffe alleged questionable actions on the part of the Premier of Queensland in the handling of Darwin relief funds, is the Minister aware of an answer given by the Minister for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives on Tuesday in reply to a question concerning cyclone Tracy and the Darwin Trust Fund in which he said that up to that morning $1,779,000 had been received by the trust and of that figure $1.3m had been paid by the Queensland Premier on behalf of the people of Queensland.
The Minister went on to say:
On behalf of the people of Darwin I congratulate the people of Queensland for the contribution that they have made of $ 1 . 3m out of $ 1 . 779m.
– No, I was not aware of the information that had been given. I thank the honourable senator for drawing it to my attention. Presumably that saves me getting an answer for Senator Keeffe.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Is the Minister concerned that the National Inquiry into Poverty, a report of which appears in this morning’s Press, should have found it necessary to criticise the lucrative business aspects of welfare work and to say that welfare funds should go to the nation ‘s poor and not to bureaucrats? Is he also concerned to learn that the greatest poverty area in this country is found in the poor white section of our people? Will he assure the Australian people that these serious findings will be rapidly checked and the conditions corrected?
– I have not seen Professor Henderson’s report. In fact it has not yet been released. There is what purports to be or is alleged to be a partial extract from his report in some of this morning’s newspapers.
– They have released 3 volumes.
-Yes, but I have not seen Professor Henderson’s report. All I have seen is a newspaper report which is alleged to be an extract from Professor Henderson’s report. Certainly from what I read of it, this did not say that the poor whites were the worst area of poverty in Australia. As I recollect it, what was said in the newspaper I read was that the condition of the poor whites was little better than that of the Aboriginal people. It did not say that their condition was worse than that of the Aboriginal people. The very fact that the Government is persevering with the Henderson report and the very fact that the Government has placed so much emphasis on what the inquiry will reveal, surely shows that we will act on what is reported to us. Beyond that I cannot go. Certainly if a report such as that of the National Inquiry into Poverty were to find that there was a waste of public moneys because of bureaucraticprocedures moneys which ought to be paid in social security benefits- the Government would consider the matter very seriously indeed and, so far as I am concerned, would act to remedy the defects.
-I ask that further questions be placed on notice.
-Dur- ing question time this morning Senator Guilfoyle asked me whether it was customary for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to issue Press releases in my name. I say quite emphatically no, it is not. 1 have had inquiries made into the circumstances of the Press release which was the subject of the question. I am informed that yesterday evening the Board telexed to my office a copy of the Press release which the Chairman of the Board had issued in Melbourne. The Board had expressed concern to my office that members of the Australian Journalists Association in the Parliamentary Press Gallery might be under a misapprehension about the proposed guidelines that the Board had been discussing with the Federal President of the Australian Journalists Association. My Press Secretary believed that Gallery members of the Australian Journalists Association should have access to the Board’s outline of the status of the guidelines and had the
Press release retyped. Unfortunately it was typed on ministerial Press release letterhead, and in order to have this information available quickly it was released on that letterhead. However, a note was placed on the Press Gallery notice board along the following lines:
AJA Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery please note:
Press Release from office of the Minister for the Media in your boxes has been passed on from Mr Myles Wright, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. For your information and use.
Rather than it being a case ofthe Board releasing a statement in my name, the boot was on the other foot, as it were, and my office was releasing it on behalf of the Board to assist journalists in the Press Gallery.
-Yesterday Senator Maunsell asked me a question concerning buildings that are being erected near Townsville. I have spoken to him subsequently about this matter. In my answer I said that the only health facilities- in this case, a quarantine station, which was the premises referred to- were at Cape Pallarenda and that a new quarantine station was not being erected but some additions were being made to the existing quarantine station. I understand from Senator Maunsell that there is some interest in the area as to exactly what is going on in the vicinity of Townsville. He subsequently told me that the area about which he was concerned was not Cape Pallarenda but Cape Cleveland. I am afraid my familiarity with the Townsville area is not as great as perhaps it ought to be. I caused further inquiries to be made of the Department of Health. The information which has been provided to me is that there are no health facilities of any kind, which would include quarantine stations, under construction at Cape Cleveland. The best information which we were able to obtain was that the construction at Cape Cleveland is for the Institute of Marine Science, which falls within the province of the Minister of Science. I am afraid that that is the best I can do for Senator Maunsell. It seems to me that the whole matter is shrouded in some mystery. If he wishes to pursue the matter with the Minister for Science, possibly he will be able to obtain some further and better particulars than those I am able to provide to him today.
– Pursuant to section 23 of the Australian War Memorial Act 1962-1973 I present the annual report of the
Board of Trustees of the Australian War Memorial for the year ended 30 June 1974, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report on apparel- section 1- men’s shirts, woven pyjamas and other woven night wear by the Textiles Authority within the Industries Assistance Commission, and the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on mushrooms.
– For the information, of honourable senators 1 present a record of decisions of the sixteenth annual conference of the Tourist Ministers Council held at Sydney on 18 October 1974.
– On behalf of my colleague Senator Bishop, pursuant to section 70 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1974, I present the eighteenth annual report of the President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13 August 1974.
Debate resumed from 12 February on motion by Senator Wriedt:
The Senate is of the opinion that proportional representation for the Senate calls for maintaining the status quo in Party representation when casual vacancies arc filled by the choice or appointment of a person pursuant to section 1 5 ofthe Constitution, and that, if a senator is succeeded by a senator of another Party, proportional representation is destroyed.
The Senate notes that, since the introduction of proportional representation in 1949, the States have without exception filled vacancies by the appointment of senators belonging to the same political parties as the vacating senators.
The Senate views with the greatest concern reports that the long-established convention may not be followed in relation to the filling of the vacancy now existing in the representation of the State of New South Wales.
Upon which Senator Withers had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘( I ) The Senate is ofthe opinion that’, insert- the choice of a Senator to fill a casual vacancy is by section 1 S of the Constitution the sole responsibility of the
Houses of Parliament of the State, or if the Houses of Parliament of the State are not in session, of the Governor of the State acting upon the advice of his Executive Council; and
The Senate commends to the Parliaments of all the States the practice which has prevailed since 1949 whereby the States, when casual vacancies have occurred, have chosen a Senator from the same political party as the Senator who died or resigned ‘.
– I do not wish to speak for very long. I shall simply sum up the remarks I made last night. I refer again to the point I made when I started to speak to the motion. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) adopted an extremely low tone in his approach to this question and adopted the basic attitude that if something was done by the other side which in his opinion was wrong, his side was entitled to retaliate in the same fashion. This attitude was somewhat disputed by interjection last night. I have since had a chance to study the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition and I would like to remind the House of some of them. He said: -this is not a matter of high moral principle about which he- referring to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt)- prated for some moments. It is nothing but a naked political vehicle by which the Commonwealth Government can attack the State governments.
I remind the House of the very basis of why this motion has to be discussed at all so that honourable senators can judge who is being unfair. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say: -this is nothing but a vehicle to attack Mr Lewis and the Liberal-Country Party of New South Wales. As for this rather phoney argument that the vacancy at present occurring was democratically filled by a million electors and their will must continue, who did those electors elect? They elected an individual . . . This is who they elected.
He then went on to say:
The Government is saying that the electors voted for a Labor ticket. Well, that is a denigration of democracy.
I remind the House that the Leader of the Opposition said that to vote for a party ticket in a Senate election is a denigration of democracy. He went on to make other statements of a similar nature, but I shall quote only one more. When he referred to the handling of this matter he said:
It should not be done by the device of trying to attack our State colleagues for taking mean political advantage of a situation.
Who is taking mean political advantage of the situation? This is where I reprove, with the Leader of the Opposition’s own words, his attitude to this question. He referred to taking mean political advantage. His statement is very similar to the statement that the Premier of New South
Wales made. The Premier was asked whether he thought the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) would retaliate at the Premiers Conference. I shall paraphrase his remarks in reply, but they can be looked up. They had this direct meaning”. ‘That would be pretty petty’. The Premier of New South Wales is willing to break a convention agreed to in writing by previous Premiers when it was first established and to charge anyone else who takes retaliation as being pretty petty. Since last night we have been able to see what the public is thinking and what the leader writers of Australia are thinking. The comments of these writers are extremely interesting. They do not support the defence of Mr Lewis that was put up here last night by the Liberal and Country Parties. I believe that a firmer statement has been made, by the ‘Age’. In referring to Mr Lewis it states:
While he and his Cabinet contemplate what ought to bc the inconceivable, the Federal Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) should act like the Federal leader he is supposed to be and tell Mr Lewis, firmly and sharply, where his democratic duty lies.
The reports today are that it took Mr Snedden until Wednesday to make a telephone call about this matter. The ‘Australian Financial Review’ deals with this matter in fairly lengthy substance. I will not use a great deal of what it states to enhance my argument but I use these comments:
If Mr Lewis is granted his wish and Australians have to trudge to the polls for the third time in less than 30 months what a great finale it should be for Mr Whitlam.
The Labor leader was able to make great play in the 1974 campaign of the obvious differences between Mr Snedden and Mr Anthony.
Now we have a State Liberal Premier helping to force an election on grounds that the Federal Liberal leader docs not agree with.
On top of this Mr Snedden is at odds with Mr Anthony on upholding the convention, a former Liberal Prime Minister has said Mr Lewis is mad. while another Liberal from bencher, Mr Killen, and the Victorian Premier have thrown their weight behind the same party appointee convention.
What a ringer of a campaign for Mr Whitlam. Half the Liberal Party including its leader is on his side for a start.
Mr Lewis wants to be known as iron fisted. “IT people arc playing it tough, then I play it tough too, “he said.
The Premier who wants to bc called iron fisted may yet go down in history as iron headed.
The ‘Canberra Times’ ends its leader today with this statement:
Mr Lewis may not yet have broken the convention- and it is the fervent hope of this newspaper that he will not- hut hehas made it unsafe. Because a convention is a matter of honour and trust it cannot stand the assaults of political brigands. Mr Lewis has demonstrated that, even if he is bluffing, he is not a man to be trusted in such matters.
I remind honourable senators on this side of the House that he is a Liberal.
I do not like the trend of this situation. I fervently hope that Mr Lewis will reverse his stand on this matter and his intention to appoint a Liberal or someone other than the Labor Party nominee. I do so on behalf of my own colleagues in South Australia. There are 2 Labor governed States in this country. In South Australia I have 3 political colleagues who in the choice of a replacement senator would hold the balance of power between the so-called Liberal Party, the one Country Party member and the Labor Party. There are distinctly 3 members who stand between the 32 members on one side ofthe House and the 32 members on the other side. I do not want my colleagues in South Australia to come under pressure to break the convention again to right a wrong that was done in another State. I do not in any way wish that on those people, because their intention most certainly would be to uphold the convention. What would honourable senators on this side of the Chamber want them to do today, next week or next month if the question was raised? What would honourable senators on this side of the House ask them to do? I suppose they could point to the resolution which the Opposition has watered down and which the Government has accepted in its place. I suppose honourable senators could say: ‘Well, this is our intention’. As I said last night and as the ‘Age’ has clearly said Liberals have not given the leadership on this matter that they should have. It is the old story.
– If you were the leader it would be different.
-They have not given the leadership and Senator Wright is aware of that. It is that inability to lead which is the reason why the Liberals are so outgeneralled and out-gunned in the other place every day of the week.
– You must be crazy to think you will ever be the leader.
-Senator Wright can explain why his Party has defended Mr Lewis so vigorously in this House.
– You have not dealt with the provocation given to Mr Lewis.
– I will get on to the provocation in a minute- in fact right now. What is the reason for this strange Liberal lethargy? Why are we so backward on our side in politics in upholding the principle ofthe democratic election of members to Parliament and of this convention which is to continue it? Why are honourable senators on this side of the chamber so backward? I believe the answer lies in the fact that the moderates are too silent. The moderates in the Liberal Party of Australia are in deep trouble. One of their troubles is their own fear to speak up.
As I said last night, I know from bitter experience that not to speak is to lose to the extremists. This is so evident in this particular case. One of the disappointments of members of the Liberal Party around Australia today is the way they strictly caucus their members. It is certainly not what the Liberal tradition used to be in the State I come from. I use the words ‘used to be’ because since Liberalism has divided on itself in South Australia and now declines under the Party which still represents it, it has begun to caucus itself strictly also on the State scene. Liberals are frightened to speak because they are bound by strict Party votes. That is not the way a strong Liberal Party should conduct itself.
– When the honourable senator was Premier he frequently caucused.
-No, we did not. Senator Webster is wrong. Under the Playford Administration in South Australia there was never a vote taken in the Party room.
– A vote is not taken in ours.
– I congratulate the Liberal Party in Queensland if that is the case.
– That is so here.
– If honourable senators here are trying to say that no votes are taken in the Liberal Party room, that they are not held to votes, let them get up and say so.
– That is the general rule.
– I am not worried about the general rule. I want to know what went on here and how undertakings were given to caucus. We know very well that the Liberal Party of Australia is too strongly bound and that those who are moderate are silenced under the discipline of a party which demands that silence. The situation is certainly one in which, if the moderates cannot speak up and give the leadership that is required, we will find -
– What do you want?
-Senator Laucke speaks to this matter by interjection. So that he will remember, let me tell him this: There are members of the Liberal Party from South Australia in this chamber and in the lower House who have promised in private conversations to support reforms but when they have gone into the Party room they have folded their tents and gone away.
– How does the honourable senator know? He has never been admitted to our Party room.
– I am talking in the State sense, for Senator Jessop ‘s requirements. That relates to the Party meetings which I have attended. I have seen those who would say in private that they would support reform in moderation and when the time of test would come they would slink away. This is a public issue. We have a public instance of this happening now. The remarks made last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and as recorded in Hansard indicate that clearly. He joins the Liberal Premier of New South Wales in everything but the vote which he will give to the amendment here today. 1 refer again to the so-called moderates. I think it was Senator Jessop who, by interjection last night, spoke about my blackmailing the party in South Australia into preselectingwe will ask him when he comes backMartin Cameron as a replacement senator in this place and who was elected by South Australia -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I believe that the words used by Senator Hall suggest that I, by way of interjection, accused him of blackmail. That is incorrect. I demand that he withdraw those words. They are offensive to me.
– I do withdraw because I have made a mistake. It was Senator Young. If I looked at Senator Jessop and made that mistake, I am sorry.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. We are told that that remark was directed by mistake at Senator Jessop. It is now applied to Senator Young. That is offensive to Senator Young as equally as it was to Senator Jessop.
– How does the honourable senator know it is?
– Well, by natural acceptance of the situation and the charge.
– I have no reason to offend these gentlemen. I withdraw that if necessary. It brings up a situation which I was using only in general explanation. I do not take offence at the honourable senator’s remarks. It does not worry me because those things are said continually about this situation. In relation to the preselection of Martin Cameron I simply say that I understand the opposition of Senator Jessop was great- I do not want to misconstrue himand I think Senator Young was very much against his preselection. The basis of the argument within the South Australian Liberal Party in opposition to the preselecton of Martin Cameron was that he was a moderate. He believed in one vote one value, especially in relation to the upper House in South Australia. That was the great public argument which his preselection caused in our State.
– Irrelevance! Irrelevance!
– It was the beginning of the very public argument about whether people should have an equal say in their affairs in the South Australian Parliament. It was the first public argument which gathered about that preselection at that time. For Senator Wright’s information, that is why the preselecton of Senator Cameron, as he was later, became so much a political issue on our side of politics in our State. I do not want to charge Senator Young but that is how I heard him introduce it last night. If I misheard, I do not want to continue saying it and he can put it right, but that is as I heard it last night.
I am not worried about the terms he used. I appreciate his raising the subject because he raises a very big one about the conflict between moderates and extremists within our side of politics. Having had that experience from those previous years I listened to the extremists speaking here last night. By no method of simply speaking in support of Mr Lewis but voting for a watered down motion, can they get around their responsibility which they hereby take on themselves on this question. I support the amendment because it would be divisive to do otherwise. I would certainly appreciate a stronger motion rather than a let out for Mr Lewis and those Liberals who were too weak to speak out at the crucial time, namely, on the first occasion the controversy arose this week. I applaud the Government for the stand that it has taken, and I subscribe to hardly any of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate which was more disgraceful than any he charged Government members with having made.
– At first sight, when the Government’s proposition was brought into this chamber I was disposed to support it in the absence, of course, of any time to consider it or to offer some alternative suggestion. However, contrary to what Senator Hall has suggested, that is, that we in our Party room watered down the motion, I suggest that we have distilled it and brought out the substance of the concern of this chamber. In the first part of our amendment we suggest quite properly that the right to replace a senator in the Senate rests firmly with the State Houses of Parliament. In the second part of our amendment we commend to the Parliament of Australia the traditional convention of this Senate by endorsing the principle of bringing into this chamber someone from the same Party as that of the senator who is to be replaced. 1 get somewhat weary when I listen to Senator Hall. He struts into this Senate chamber repeatedly and chooses to snipe at all sections of it- the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party of Australiaand he does this, in my view, with the object in mind of obtaining cheap publicity but offering nothing of constructive substance for our consideration. I also become concerned when he suggests that people on this side of the chamber have no principle. I was rather concerned and annoyed to hear him this morning on the program ‘AM’ say things about Senator Withers which I believe are completely baseless. Our Leader’s speech yesterday was exemplary and got right to the kernel of the nut. In my view Senator Hall has already abrogated the conventions of this Senate and the rights of the States by supporting the territorial senators Bill. This was done without consultation with the States of Australia and, because of that, it ignored the Constitution completely. He also has supported the concept of replacement of territorial senators by by-election. That again is an absolute disruption ofthe conventions of this place.
Therefore, I suggest that Senator Hall should think a little more clearly and do a little more homework with respect to his responsibilities as a State representative. I believe that my conviction is the same as that held by his supporters, that is, that we are anxious for his co-operation in ousting the present socialist Government from office. I am quite certain that many of his supporters would share that view. I suggest that so far his tactics have been counter-productive and that the best way to alleviate this situation is for him to join us in a united attack so that we can kick this Labor Government out of offiice and give some encouragement to Australian industry and to our supporters who are spread in large numbers throughout this country.
– I support the Opposition’s amendment which is before the Senate, but I do so with considerable misgivings. My misgivings arise from the fact that obviously this amendment represents an attempt by the Opposition to take off Mr Lewis, the Premier of New South Wales, some of the heat that his precipitate and almost infamous threat on Monday has drawn against him. I also support it with a feeling of sadness in that I look across at the Opposition benches and I see a number of honourable senators who, over a long period of years, have proclaimed their insistence on the observance of the Constitution and constitutional conventions; yet on this issue and in this context, purely to give some protective ointment to the Premier of New South Wales they retreat from those convictions that they have professed so strongly over such a long period.
Last Monday, when the Premier of New South Wales first made the threat that is the subject of this debate, was a black day for parliamentary integrity; it was a black day for respect for constitutional convention throughout this nation. But it was also a black day for the Liberal Party in Australia and particularly in New South Wales. In 3 short days since then the Liberal Party, as Senator Steele Hall said earlier this morning, has attracted to itself condemnation for the politically motivated action which lies behind Mr Lewis’s threat. Last night Senator Guilfoyle took exception to the description by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of Mr Lewis’s threat as one of sabotage. My only criticism of the Prime Minister’s description is that I think that it was too kind and that it would have been for better if he had described it as an act of political rape, for that is what it is. However, we do not know what the final outcome of the threat will be. At least until after the Premiers Conference tomorrow Mr Lewis has given himself a let-out because he has appointed a sub-committee to consider the legal and constitutional implications of his threat.
I am pleased that he has done so, because I do not doubt that in a consideration of this matter the sub-committee and its advisers will start with the authoritative work of Quick and Garran in their commentaries on the Constitution. If the members of the sub-committee take the trouble to read the commentary by Quick and Garran on section 16 of the Constitution they will learn, if they do not already know, that even before any question of proportional representation was involved in election to the Senate the procedure for filling a casual vacancy under section 1 5 of the Constitution was regarded- this is supported by the convention debates- as an extremely temporary measure until either the expiration of the term of office of the vacating senator or the next House of Representatives or Senate election. I refer honourable senators to page 436 of the work. I will read portion of what is contained on that page, because I think it is relevant in this context to indicate that it was never intendednever even contemplated- that section 15 of the Constitution could be used in this blatantly political way to upset in some cases at least the balance of power in the Senate. Quick and Garran state:
The legislative selection is only operative until the expiration of the term or the election of a successor, whichever first happens; it: is merely an ad interim appointment, in order to save the State from being short of a senator, on the one hand, and to save the State the cost of a special election, on the other: the legislative apppointee is not a successor of the deceased, disqualified, or resigned, senator, but merely a temporary holder of office, pending the election of a successor by the people ofthe State.
– If anything, surely that is against you.
– I suggest that it is not against me. I suggest that what that does is to indicate that the framers of the Constitution never comtemplated, even before proportional representation- I emphasise that- that the Premier of a State presumably without consultation with his colleagues or other members of parliament could blatantly state that he would take advantage of the accident that he was in power on the other side of politics and would appoint a successor who could alter in a practical way the voting situation in the Senate
As Senator Wright has interjected, I remind him that he was a member of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review which reported in 1959. Will that honourable senator, who so often has proclaimed respect for the complete upholding of the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, retreat from his endorsement of the report when it unanimously expressed the view that without exception- they are the words contained in the report- what Mr Lewis is threatening to do should never be done? How sincere can his protestations of respect for the Constitution, its letter and its spirit be when, after having been a party to that report- I refer to page 43 of it- he retreats and says, in effect: ‘Let us water down the Government’s motion; let us give Mr Lewis a little ointment that the public barbs seem to indicate he needs’?
At this stage I want to go back and to explain, so that it can be recorded for history, why the Government is supporting this amendment. It is doing so only for practical reasons related to the voting strength in this chamber. It is perfectly obvious that the Opposition’s amendment would be defeated because the question would be negatived 30 all if the Government opposed it. That would be an unsatisfactory situation when we consider the next position, that is, that if we can distil any logic from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) last night the Opposition would then vote against the Government’s motion. What would be the practical situation if this happened? It would be that therewould be no motion coming forward from the Senate.
– Do you think that is going to help Mr Lewis make up his mind?
– The interjection from Senator Bessell seems to indicate that he does not have much respect for the judgment of Mr Lewis. The honourable senator seems to be proclaiming him as a stubborn man. He has the advantage of knowing Mr Lewis personally; I know him only by reputation.
I said that last Monday was a black day. Let us look very briefly at some of the consequences of this threat if it is carried out. In the first place, such action would set a precedent which any person with respect for the Constitution surely would not want set. That is what the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review said in 1959. Would anyone cast any doubt on the competency of that Committee? It was one of the strongest committees that this Parliament has ever known. Secondly, the threat of Mr Lewis makes a mockery of the words that were uttered by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber as recently as Tuesday. I quote Senator Withers’ words in the context ofthe granting of a pair following Senator Murphy’s resignation. He said this: no political group should take advantage of an unusual situation brought about by cither death or resignation.
What would Mr Lewis be doing if he carried out his threat? In the words of Senator Withers he would be taking advantage of an unusual situation brought about by either death or resignation.
The third result that execution of the threat would have is that it would deny the voters of New South Wales the party representation for which they voted in this chamber less than a year ago. I would describe that as political cynicism which has no parallel. It is more than an insult to a significant section of the New South Wales voters. It is a jack booted deprivation of their constitutional rights. It is an invitation to political anarchy, and maybe even worse. When I say that, I invite the attention of honourable senators to an article in the ‘Australian’ today by an academic from New South Wales who already is canvassing the counter move to Mr Lewis if he carries out his threat.
– I wonder on what prompting?
– The interjection directs attention to the Machiavellian mind of Senator Wright.
- Senator Wright is adamant that the conventions should be observed.
-Of course. Senator Wright is the great upholder of the Constitution and has been for a quarter of a century. Let it never be touched in its spirit or its letter, until a fellow Liberal is in trouble. The article by an academic in the ‘Australian’ today to which I have referred suggests, as I have said, the next counter move in this constitutional game of chess. Mr President, in case you have not had an opportunity to read it, I advise you that the serious suggestion is that this infamous act of Mr Lewis, if he carries it out, can be countered by your refusing to administer to the appointee the oath of allegiance.
Opposition senators- Oh!
-Mr President, we hear the ‘Ohs’ of Opposition senators. This is what happens once people start to tinker with constitutional convention and constitutional practice. Where is there the obligation in a legal sense on you, Mr President, to administer an oath? That is the message in the article. I hope the day will never come when we have to consider the propriety of whether you should take that action. I have referred to the article to illustrate the point that if the Premier of New South Wales is going to be infamous he is inviting wrong conduct at least by his political opponents. I hope I never see the day- I would have thought that the professed upholders of the Constitution would never want to see the day- when matters of this nature will be the subject of chess moves of a constitutional character in order to gain political advantage.
– Have you never heard of the Gair affair?
– It is notable that when the Opposition is being exposed as being hypocritical in this matter it has to have resort to matters which lie in history and which have their counterparts in the actions of our opponents over a long period of 23 years. One could refer to other results which could follow, but I believe other speakers have adequately canvassed them. I pass now to the next point which concerns me deeply. I ask: What is the motivation of Mr Lewis? Is it spleen? Is it just grandstanding and the taking by this fledgling Premier of 5 weeks of the opportunity to show his strength? Is it to put pressure on the Australian Government in order to get some better treatment for New South Wales starting tomorrow at the Premiers Conference? Is it to divert attention from his own political ineptitude and that of his Government as illustrated by the handling of the recent power crisis in New South Wales? There may be other reasons, but whatever his motivation I would describe his threat, and I would describe the execution of that threat if it is carried out, as the most blatant, partisan political trickery since proportional representation was introduced in the Senate. I suggest that Mr Lewis, if he carries out his threat, stands condemned, the Liberal Party will stand condemned with him and the Senate to a degree will stand condemned for the mealymouthed, weak manner in which it has sought to express its views on this matter. If the issue had arisen in another context not involving a Liberal government and a Liberal Premier, it would have brought the stern condemnation of those who for so long in this chamber have said that the Constitution, what is implicit in it and what is convention as a result of it must be fairly upheld.
Hypocrisy marched last night and again today. The aspect of last night’s debate which sickened me most was the apologia that was delivered by Senator Scott- I regret he is not in the chamberin defence of the action of Mr Lewis. It was an apologia that traversed matters that had been canvassed in this chamber on many occasions, lt amounted to this: ‘All right, we recognise the convention. We commend that the convention bc observed, but Mr Lewis would be justified in ignoring the expression of view of the Senate because in our political judgment this Government ought to be out of office’. What an illogical approach to the matter. Would Senator Scott have permitted the Labor Opposition in this chamber before 1972 to take a parallel attitude during the years in which the infamy of Vietnam was being perpetrated? If a similar situation had arisen with reverse parties during that period of infamy would Senator Scott have listened to a Labor senator in this chamber who said: ‘Because you are acting in this infamous way by maintaining this undeclared war with Vietnam we will take advantage of the situation and we will not observe the convention’? There is no logic whatsoever in that.
The other aspect of Senator Scott’s speech to which I wish to refer- I do not believe that a person of the lustre of ex-Senator Murphy should be permitted to be reviled in this way- was the snide manner in which he attacked the propriety of the appointment of ex-Senator Murphy and his suitability to be appointed to the Bench of the High Court. The Liberal-Country Party has double standards. It has one standard when in office and it has one standard when in Opposition. I should like to refer on this issue to what was said by the present Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, when he was AttorneyGeneral in 1 964 on the occasion of the swearingin of the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick. Mr Snedden dealt at length with Sir Garfield’s distinguished career. I do not wish anything that I say in this context to be taken as the slightest reflection in any way on Sir Garfield Barwick. I will simply quote what was said by Mr Snedden on that occasion as shown in a verbatim report of a speech which appears in the Commonwealth Law Reports for 1964-1965. After tracing the political career of Sir Garfield Barwick and referring to his achievements, in Mr Snedden ‘s view, in relation to the portfolios that he occupied, Mr Snedden said:
By pure coincidence three of your Honour’s predecessors as Chief Justice who had earlier held political office alternated in succession with three others who had not. The three who had held political office were Chief Justices Griffith, Isaacs and Latham. Between their respective terms of office came the Chief Justiceships of Knox, Gavan Duffy and Dixon. By coincidence, your Honour follows exactly in series.
The important words are these:
No man, looking back over their succession, could say that political experience was a necessary condition of a distinguished chief-justiceship -
The pregnant words are:
No man, however, could say that it was, in the slightest, a disqualification.
No man, however, could say that political experience was, in the slightest, a disqualification.
The present Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, in a tribute to the late Sir John Latham who died on the 25 July 1964, referred to the very extensive political career of Sir John Latham, who as honourable senators know was appointed directly from Attorney-Generalship of the Commonwealth by the Government of which he was a member to the Chief Justiceship ofthe High Court in 1935.
– That is not so. He had resigned from Parliament and from the Attorney-Generalship for approximately 2 years before his appointment.
– I suggest that that is not so. If I am wrong about the facts I will acknowledge that. Sir Garfield Barwick said:
Sir John Latham thus brought to the performance of the duties of the office of Chief Justice a wide and varied experience of public and international affairs and a familiarity with the working of the Australian Constitution gleaned both in the days of his practice at the Bar and in government during his term as a Cabinet Minister and as a parliamentarian.
If there was that gap before his appointment to the High Court- I did not think there was- it makes no difference whatsoever to the point that was made by Mr Snedden in 1964 and by Sir Garfield Barwick in 1965. The point is that the High Court of Australia has been studded with persons who have moved directly from high political office to the Bench of that court. It is not for me- I do not do so- to suggest that any one of them was false to his oath of office or that any one of them was influenced by the fact that he, as a politician, had previously considered matters that later came before the court. To do so is to confer on them, as well as on Mr Justice Murphy, a gratuitous insult which is completely unjustified. It seems to be part of the Liberal Party’s philosophy to suggest that judges of superior courts should be conservatives- conservatives in their thinking, conservatives in their actions and conservatives in all their attitudes. To my mind that argument ignores the fact that the courts are interpreting matters, so far as the High Court is concerned, of extreme constitutional and social concern. Why should that interpretation be the prerogative of one section only of the community? For courts to be living and to be able truly to reflect social mores they ought to bc comprised of men not only of distinction but also of differing social backgrounds and of different philosophies, and I am not speaking of party political philosophies. Does anyone suggest that Mr Justice Denning, now Lord Denning, was not a complete adornment to the courts through which he marched in England over a period of some decades? He brought to that musty, imperial judicial system a breath of fresh air that is badly needed. I believe he is continuing that attitude in the judicial role that he now occupies.
– I do not think any honourable senator on this side has made observations as to the social background of judges.
– I do not know what honourable senators think on this matter, but I am certainly not prepared to allow Senator Scott’s attack on the Government and on former Senator Murphy last night to go unanswered. I do not know whether the honourable senator who has just interjected was here when Senator Scott made his speech or whether he has read it, but what Senator Scott said in essence- I quote his words as much as possible- was that the appointment was one that would lose respect for the law and if we are to lose respect for its institutions and personnel then a free society is doomed and confidence has gone. Is not that the strongest possible indictment of the propriety of the appointment?
– There was no reference to social background in those observations.
– The honourable senator who interjects ought to read the full text, if he did not hear the speech, of what Senator Scott said. I am endeavouring to rebut that and as a corollary, because former Senator Murphy can no longer speak for himself on this matter- his tongue is silent for ever on this issue- I propose to take this opportunity to say to the Senate that in my respectful submission the appointment was from all points of view a completely proper one. We are debating Mr Lewis’ action. Mr Lewis is on public record as having attempted to justify his action by criticising the appointment of former Senator Murphy.
– You are speaking about Senator Scott and what you have said does not follow his speech. There was a comment on former Senator Murphy, but nothing along the lines that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has brought up.
-Senator Martin will not divert me from my defence of former Senator Murphy. We are debating a matter relating to Mr Lewis’ threat. Mr Lewis has on more than one occasion publicly linked his threat with criticism of the appointment of former Senator Murphy. Senator Scott last night took up that criticism in the manner that I have indicated. I will answer this generally and completely, I hope. Mr Lewis also had the temerity publicly to say- I heard it- that former Senator Murphy could not be described as an eminent jurist. Of course he is not an eminent jurist, but he is about to become one. I wonder whether Senator Scott in his criticism of former Senator Murphy last night -
- Senator Scott of course has a wealth of experience at the Bar behind him!
– Yes. I was about to say: What does Senator Scott know of the legal capacity at the Bar, which is the prime criterion for appointment as a judge, of former Senator Murphy? I propose to say to the Senate certain things about that matter which may not be known by a number of honourable senators. Former Senator Murphy’s career at the Bar has been the subject of close investigation by me during this week for the purpose of this debate. 1 never had the privilege of appearing against former Senator Murphy or with him, but when his career at the Bar is examined it would, I believe be fair to say that few judges who have been appointed to the High Court during the period of three-quarters of a century have had anything like the breadth of experience at the Bar that former Senator Murphy has had. He has had an extremely wide practice. It would be quite wrong to describe his practice as confined to industrial or constitutional law. It covered the whole gamut of the law so far as the Bar was concerned. It extended from probate actions to the defence of persons charged with murder. If every case in which former Senator Murphy appeared, either nisi prius or in the appellate jurisdiction, were examined 2 things would emerge. Firstly, he had a tremendous breadth of clarity of expression of the essential issues of a case, which I would have thought would have been somewhat useful to him on the Bench. Secondly, he had an extraordinary percentage of success- I realise that that of course could be fortuitous. Thirdly, he was completely respected by the judicial tribunals before which he appeared.
He did not abandon his practice when he became a senator in 1962, and even when he was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate he continued to a degree the practice that he had enjoyed as a leading Sydney silk for many years. That is one of the qualifications for his appointment to this office. The second is this: Those who criticise the appointment- Senator Scott is in it, he canot get out of that- would, I venture to suggest, wish that they had the brilliance of mind of Lionel Keith Murphy because he does have a brilliant mind. He demonstrated the brilliance of his mind many times in this chamber in the short period that I have been here.
– Ha, the raider.
– I would have thought that it is completely unseemly for persons on the opposite benches who belong to professions to snigger at the delineation of the brilliance of u person in another profession. What of his personal qualities? I leave aside -
- Mr Deputy President, I do not know that a remark containing that innuendo should go into Hansard uncontested. The honourable senator referred to some members on the opposite benches belonging to the profession sniggering at an assertion of Mr Justice Murphy’s capacity.
– They did.
– I regard it as a besmirching remark which is quite unworthy of the honourable senator. I thoroughly disclaim any such thing.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr Deputy President, there was a clear snigger from the Leader of the Opposition when Mr Justice Murphy was referred to. He made some remark about the raider, or something to that effect. It may be very easy for Senator Wright to wish to dissociate himself from his colleagues, but the very people within the Party opposite who always immediately say that one should never reflect on a member of the judiciary, have taken every opportunity they can to besmirch an appointee to the High Court because he happens to be a member of the Labor Party. I believe it is quite right that the attention of the Australian people should be drawn to the double standards and dishonesty of Opposition senators.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Order! Senator Wheeldon, I think you should withdraw the comments you have just made. I will leave that matter with you until after I have made the following point: I do not think that the point of order raised by Senator Wright should be upheld. Senator Wright has made it quite clear that he dissociates himself from the remarks made by Senator Everett and I feel that Senator Everett can proceed. No point of order was raised about the remark being offensive.
- Mr Deputy President, in view of your remarks I will withdraw the words.
– I rise to speak to the point of order, Mr Deputy President. I draw your attention to the fact that Senator Everett spoke of the legal men, the professional men, on this side in the plural. That is my interpretation. The Leader of the Opposition has been accused of sniggering. Now he denies that. He said that it was not in the form of a snigger. I point out to you that the plural was used, that the honourable senator referred to members of the profession. Senator Wright, Senator Missen and Senator Chaney are all legal men on this side of the chamber and I am sure that none of them sniggered.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy President. 1 refer to standing order 4 1 8 which provides that no senator shall use offensive words and that personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly. To say that the many members of the legal profession sitting in the chamber have been sniggering at the qualifications of Senator Murphy is offensive, lt certainly is offensive to me and I think that the comments should be withdrawn. The question whether appointments from Parliament to the judiciary are proper when contentious legislation is to be considered is one which 1 believe can be raised without casting any imputation on the character of the person appointed. I suggest that that is a matter which might be debated in this chamber, although I for one have not raised it, without drawing the sort of reference made by Senator Everett. I believe that Senator Everett’s statement should be withdrawn.
- Mr Deputy President, I take the same point of order. If the remark is not to be withdrawn generally I want to make it quite clear that I reject the assertion that was made. I am sure it was quite false so far as the honourable senators on this side are concerned. As a member of a profession I have the same strong views in regard to the canvassing of judicial appointments. The suggestion that there was sniggering on this side is offensive to me and it is untrue.
– It is not untrue. Senator Withers did snigger.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! A point of order has been taken by Senator Chaney that the remarks made by Senator Everett offend him. Senator Everett, under those circumstances I ask that you withdraw those remarks.
– I want to speak to the point of order, Mr Deputy President. If you are asking Senator Everett to withdraw on the grounds of inaccuracy, then I rise to deny it. I do not wish to enter into an argument over the definition of the word ‘snigger’ but upon the mention of Mr Justice Murphy there was a cackle- I suppose that is the best way I can describe itfrom Senator Withers and I heard the words ‘ Ha, ha, the raider’, or words to that effect. If that is not sniggering about the appointee to the High Court I do not know what the word ‘snigger’ means. It is true that other members of the legal profession who were in the Senate did not do that, but it is certainly true that that is precisely what Senator Withers did. It would be quite improper to ask Senator Everett to make any withdrawal. It may be quite correct for him to point out that he was not referring to other senators who are lawyers but it would be quite improper to ask him to withdraw a statement about Senator Withers which was clearly true and was observed by me and other honourable senators on the Government side.
- Mr Deputy President, speaking to the point of order, Senator Everett used the plural. I agree with the comment made by Senator Wheeldon as I heard it from this side of the chamber. Senator Everett may have been mistaken, however, about Senator Wright who has now explained his position. Frankly, I sometimes find it difficult from this position in the chamber to determine whether Senator Wright is sniggering and Senator Everett may have been mistaken about that. Senator Everett should appropriately have indicated it in the singular rather than the plural. I just make that observation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I think the Senate is being a little pedantic in speaking of the word ‘snigger’ and what it means. I think the Chair on many occasions could take comments from either side as to what the word may mean and feel offended by it. The only point of order I uphold is that put by Senator Chaney and Senator Missen who claim that the words offend them and I ask for a withdrawal.
– I accept your ruling, of course, and I withdraw the expression pro tanto in relation to the two honourable senators who claim to be offended. So that no one else will feel offended I want to add the explanation that I did not use the words ‘legal profession’. I said ‘the professions’. I did so deliberately because as I spoke- I must not use this word ‘snigger’- the noise to which I was referring was coming from 2 quarters, one baritone and one contralto, and I therefore deliberately used the word ‘professions’ to include that member, I understand, of the accountancy profession whose contralto noise had first attracted my attention. I hope that everyone now is not offended. I may be wrong and, if so, I am sorry.
I must conclude, but before doing so I wish to refer to some of the personal qualities of the former Senator Murphy which in my judgment will make him an adornment to the High Court Bench. Above all- this surely is of the essence of the right to be a judge- he has a love for his fellow men. He also has and demonstrates a humanistic approach to social matters. It is significant that, in a television interview this week, when Mr Murphy was asked to state what he considered were his best achievements in the past 2 years he put legal aid for needy persons at the forefront of what he considered he had accomplished. He was a kindly and sympathetic man. In the spirit of what was said in 1 964 by Mr
Snedden about Sir Garfield Barwick and what was said in 1965 by Sir Garfield Barwick about Sir John Latham, 1 suggest that Mr Murphy’s very wide experience in public and government matters, rather than being any embarrassment to him, will be of considerable assistance. I believe that in a few years time the Australian public and the legal profession will recognise in Mr Justice Murphy the counterpart of Lord Denning of England. For the reasons I have given, I support the amendment.
– I do not propose to proceed in any way along the lines on which Senator Everett has been proceeding. I will not be provoked into making comments on judges. I hope I am of a sunny disposition. I always have the greatest hopes and expectations about new judges. I certainly do not intend to canvass any appointment.
Both Senator Hall and Senator Everett made somewhat similar remarks about the attitudes of certain members of the Opposition in this chamber. I think Senator Hall described them as moderates. I hope he includes me in that category, whatever it may cover. Senator Everett spoke of those who support the conventions and practices and who have not been heard. To those 2 senators I say that there are many on this side of the chamber who have made public remarks about the practices which are under discussion today.
– Myself, for one. Senator Martin and Senator Chaney are others.
– Did you say ‘public’ or published’?
– Not all our remarks are published because we may not have the same facilities as other senators have. We may make statements which are not provocative and sensational. Therefore, they have not been published in the newspapers. That does not mean that we have not expressed our views in moderate terms.
I wish to speak first in general terms about the practice under discussion and the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). There is public concern and public controversy about this convention at present. No matter what we may call these things- whether they are the practices adopted by the parliaments and the governments of this country, the understandings or the conventions, whatever the appropriate word may be- they are of great significance and importance in this country. We have a written Constitution, but it does not cover all the circumstances of government. There is no reference in the Constitution to the Prime Minister. At times this must be mortifying to the present holder of that position. There is no substantial reference in the Constitution to cabinet government. Unquestionably over the years there have been developed practices which have prevailed and which need to prevail in the interests of stable and useful democratic government. In that respect one only has to turn to the parliamentary system which the British people have developed. It is based not on a written constitution but on a great mass of understandings and conventions which are observed. Therefore, they are of great importance. The practice which is involved today is one which has been continued unvaryingly since 1 949, namely, that casual vacancies in the Senate are filled by a member of the party to which the late senator or retiring senator belonged. I and, I think, everybody on this side of the chamber think it is a desirable development of a practice which should continue.
I refer now to the motion which the Government moved. It is, as I think has been observed by Senator Withers, rather unsound to suggest that proportional representation is the sole reason why the practice must be observed because, in general, it was observed before the introduction of that voting system. That was in days when senators were elected by a system which resulted in a ludicrous spectacle- on one occasion of 33 members being on one side of the chamber and 3 on another. I think on another occasion it was 35 members on one side and one on the other. Therefore one can imagine that the practice was not so fixed until 1949.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
-When the sitting of the Senate was suspended I was making the point that in respect of the method of filling casual vacancies, the reason for the arrangement or practice which has developed over the years is greatly strengthened, in my view, by the introduction of proportional representation, because I think proportional representation retains a balance of representation of the States. That is one reason why I think the practice is desirable, but, as I said, this is not a matter which just arose with the introduction of proportional representation. It existed before then and has been an invariable practice since 1 949. It was adverted to by Mr Odgers in his excellent publication. On page 65 of the 4th edition he states:
Since the introduction of proportional representation in 1 949, the States have demonstrated their readiness to choose a new Senator ofthe same political party as was the Senator he replaces at the time of his election to the Senate. A convention has been so established -see the precedents on p.59.
In addition the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in 1959 recommended in paragraph 59 and 60 of its report as follows:
The Committee desired to recommend a constitutional amendment whereby, if the senator for a Sta”; whose place has become vacant was a member of a political party, the Parliament of the State or the Governor of the State should be required, in filling the vacancy, to choose a person who was a member of the same political party as the vacating senator. The Committee was, however, unable to find a form of amendment which would satisfactorily express the objective it had in mind.
The Committee wishes to record, however, that although its members belong to different political parties, all were strongly ofthe view that the principle referred to in the last preceding paragraph should bc observed without exception.
So far as I can see, it is the view of all members of this Parliament that that is a desirable practice which should be continued. It takes away the accidents that may occur. It provides some certainty in regard to representation. It is similar to the decision that was announced by the Opposition 2 days ago whereby a pair is granted because of the absence of a senator from New South Wales. It provides something which is not changed by the mere accident of numbers or the accident of death or resignation. 1 entirely agree with the remarks made by our Leader in the other place, Mr Snedden, the other day. He said:
I think the convention has served us very well. You never know when it will operate in the reverse direction.
That is so. You never know how extensively it will operate in one direction or another and create an accidental situation in regard to the strength of numbers in the Senate. Therefore I think it is desirable to place on record the matters which we set out in the amendment, which is a non-provocative amendment and which does not seek to demand of a State that it do something but sets out the view which is commonly held in the Senate. There is no doubt where the power lies and who may make the decision. Therefore it is foolish for the Senate to go beyond an expression of opinion and to attempt to dictate, whatever the unfortunate effects of that might be. The original motion, which is now superseded by the support which the amendment has been given, contains some unwisdom because it endeavours in its last part to express an opinion before the decision is finalised. I do not think we should do that, because in fact there is always a possibility that persuasion will ensure that no breach of practice occurs. In fact Senator James McClelland last night said that he would predict that a change would take place. That is the reason why we should leave the options open.
– What is your view of what should happen if an independent senator resigns? In the general context of what you are saying, how would proportional representation be maintained? Do you believe that a government of the present complexion would appoint an independent or an independent Labor man?
-I agree that Senator Webster has raised a difficulty. This is probably one of the reasons why in the past the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review found difficulty in phrasing an amendment. I agree that this is a problem, but it is rare. In the general course of events one would find that the accepted practice would operate successfully. I agree that there is a difficulty in the exceptional case to which Senator Webster referred. Last night and this morning Senator Hall criticised statements made by Senator Withers in leading for the Opposition in this matter. I think it should be said that unfortunately Senator Hall both last night and this morning misinterpreted and misrepresented arguments which Senator Withers raised. Last night Senator Steele Hall put the proposition that Senator Withers was in some way saying that the actions by this Government in regard to an appointment justified in some way the action which another government might take. He did not say that. In the debate last evening, as recorded at page 127 of Hansard, Senator Steele Hall said this of Senator Withers:
In the process of putting his arguments and his deductions he went on to say that because the Labor Party had done things which in his opinion were distasteful, so others ought to be excused for doing things which were distasteful.
By way of interjection I said:
He did not say that.
I point out that that is so. Senator Steele Hall said:
He did say it and an examination of Hansard tomorrow will show it.
This morning, when he chose to continue his speech, he in no way established that. There was nothing in Senator Withers ‘ speech to justify that interpretation. Senator Hall went on to say that Senator Withers said that the States were entitled to retaliate. Once again there is no justification for that statement. My re-reading of the debate satisfies me that Senator Withers was making the important point that the way in which the Federal Government of this country has in recent months and years treated the States, the actions by the Government both in regard to the Gair affair and in regard to the interference by constitutional amendment with the States’ rights in regard to the Senate by introducing non-State representatives and also the attacks that have constantly been made on States and the infringement of their powers have left many State leaders in a position where they considerably fear the intentions of this Government, and I think justifiably so.
No one on this side of the House is saying that 2 wrongs make a right. We are saying that we must understand the feelings of State representatives and the real fears they have about what might happen through interference with the normal practice of elections either by the persuasion of resignations or by other means. These things have justified the State leaders in being extremely concerned about the future of this country. One then understands the state of mind in which they may find themselves.
Although there was perhaps a spirit of Terrigal, about which we heard, and it was announced that in future the Labor Party was intending to proceed to use State authorities in the road sphere, it was proceeding with certain Bills which it has now withdrawn, I hope with good intentions, including a Bill relating to a housing commission, under which obviously it was not going to use State authorities but to supersede them. Therefore it is a matter in which State leaders have the greatest of fears for the future of their powers. I say that it is highly necessary that this Senate do nothing provocative or which will drive any of the State leaders to decisions which might be unfortunate.
– What are the prospects?
– I am not going to speculate on prospects. Senator James McClelland said that there is a possibility that there will be a change. I will accept that. That is his judgment. He comes from the State of New South Wales. I will not impose on the Senate any of my guesses on the situation. I hope that the convention, agreement or understanding- whatever you want to call it- will continue. I would like to see predictability in regard to representation and I would like to see some observance of the position so that the Senate is actually representative of the opinions in the States concerned. I believe the Government has shown good sense in accepting the amendment. I accept that the Government has not accepted our amendment simply because, as Senator Everett put it, it is a matter of tactics. I hope it is on a higher plane than that. I hope Government supporters have realised that our particular amendment endeavours to state a principle, to give it moderate and sensible support, and not to endeavour to wave a big stick where we have no power possibly to follow it up.
Therefore I am pleased to see that the Government is supporting the amendment. I hope that the amended motion is accepted unanimously as an expression of opinion by the persons who are representative ofthe States in this Senate.
– I rise to speak very briefly on this matter which has been very well canvassed and dealt with by my colleague, Senator Everett, amongst others. There are several points which I want to make arising from observations of recent speakers. My colleague from Victoria, Senator Missen, has been at great pains to moderate and to make more attractive the somewhat crude argument which was put by his leader, Senator Withers, in the debate last night. By way of illustration he drew attention again- it has been done several times in this debate and indeed has been done by the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives, Mr Snedden- to what are described as legitimate fears of the States about the intentions of this Government which somehow justify the sort of action that has been taken. As an illustration of that Senator Missen referred to the Housing Corporation Bill. He said that the States had something to fear from that piece of legislation. If Senator Missen had examined it carefully he would have seen that the whole purpose of that legislation is to fill a gap which the States have never filled in the provision of housing for certain income groups.
– That was not my interpretation.
– I understand that it may not be Senator Missen ‘s interpretation but if he read the second reading speech and the Bill I am sure he could only arrive at that conclusion. I want to deal very quickly with what seems to me to be the basic difference between the amendment and the motion which was moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt). The original motion and the amendment contain, as has been pointed out, nothing more than a difference of emphasis and a difference of degree in the terminology which is used.
– It is not evident even to a lawyer?
– I hope that it is evident to Senator Sir M agnus Cormack.
– It is evident to me.
– If Senator Sir Magnus Cormack will let me continue, in the course of my remarks I hope to point out that there is a difference even though it may be characterised as a difference of degree. The simple difference between the original motion and the amendment is this: The Opposition seeks, by its amendment, to take out of the Government’s motion the words:
The Senate views with the greatest concern reports that the long-established convention may not be followed in relation to the rilling of the vacancy . . .
And to replace those words with the expression:
The Senate commends to the Parliaments of all the States the practice which has prevailed since 1949 . . .
The importance of taking out words to the effect that the Senate views this matter with the greatest concern is indeed very great.
If the Liberal Party as the great upholder of constitutional tradition in this country and the great upholder of the position of the Senate does not view this possible departure from that convention with the greatest concern and if it attempts to substitute that view of greatest concern with one of commendation, it will be a somewhat meek and mealy-mouthed form of the tradition which has prevailed. This of course is the great note of sadness that has entered into this debate. It is sad that the Party of Sir Robert Menzies which in 1 95 1 , defeated on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill by the decision of the High Court, took appropriate steps constitutionallysteps which a Party in that position should take- and sought a referendum to obtain power in connection with that issue. That was the Party of Sir Robert Menzies which ever since has encouraged people to believe that it was the upholder of tradition in this country, that it was the upholder of the national heritage in this country, and that it was the upholder of the Constitution of this country.
It is said that healthy plants do not grow under big trees. That is, of course, what we are evidencing today in the attitude of the Liberal Party towards this convention. No longer are honourable senators on the other side of the chamber speaking with conviction on this matter. They are seeking this mealy-mouthed compromise. Senator Wright is attempting to interject. I had been in this chamber only about 3 weeks when I heard Senator Wright, the honourable senator from Tasmania, rise and say: ‘I stand here as the bulwark of the Constitution’. I, as a young senator, was very encouraged by that. I thought: Whatever happens we have a bulwark of the Constitution on the other side of the chamber who will preserve us in every vicissitude which this country may face politically. I now realise, in view of his attitude today, that Senator Wright was not talking about the Constitution when he said that but was talking about his own constitution. He is here to safeguard his own constitution and his own skin. That is why today Senator Wright has been strangely silent on questions of principle which have entered into this debate.
I compare the mealy-mouthed apologia of the amendment moved in this House to the statements which have been made by the Liberals in this country who do stand up on questions of principle. The remarks of the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) have been referred to. He accused the Premier of New South Wales of suffering from a grave psychiatric disorder and in doing so used terminology which is unacceptable in this chamber. He went on to say that it meant we could have a majority one minute and have it taken away the next, quite regardless of the wishes of the people. It was the statement of a democrat in the great Liberal Party tradition, as the Party once was or was claimed to be in the days of Sir Robert Menzies.
The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), in the House of Representatives, warned quite unequivocally that the whole process of government would be at risk if the action of the New South Wales Premier were allowed to proceed. In spite of those sorts of warnings we still have the incredible situation in which the Opposition in the Senate is moving an amendment which contains a very weak commendation of the convention which has lasted so long and, as the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives said, has served us so well. It is not merely a self-serving convention. It is a convention which has been approved and commended by the State Premiers, other than the Premier of Queensland. It was commended, indeed, by implication in Senator Withers’ remarks on Tuesday of this week when the honourable senator dealt with the question of pairs in this Senate. It is a convention which I am sure would appeal to someone like Senator Wright much more than the process which has now been embarked upon by the New South Wales Government.
There are 2 other matters which have arisen in this debate and which I want to deal with briefly. First, however much people might try to cover it up in these proceedings, it has been said by way of condonation of the action of the New South Wales Premier- it was said by Senator Withers, and by Senator Missen who said it in a nice way- that this Government is so irritating and so threatening to Premiers that they are no longer responsible for their behaviour. That is effectively what is said: They are no longer responsible for their behaviour because of the attitude of the Federal Government. Of course, as I understand it, we are all engaged in political activity of one kind or another. When one comes to the question of the appointment to the High Court which has been made, again a political element enters into that. I want to deal with that in a moment. But the point I seek to make is that the principle which the Liberal Party allegedly stands for- some adherence to convention- has been glossed over in this instance because the Premier happens to be a Liberal Party Premier. We are told that because of the things that the national Government has done that Premier must be excused in some respects for his apparent departure from principles. In fact, what has been done by the Premier of New South Wales constitutes the first clear evidence in this place that he is both politically inept and opportunistic in his approach to this matter.
The next point I make about the Opposition’s amendment is simply that day after day Opposition senators come into this chamber as defenders of State rights, as they like to call it. They also come here as members of the Liberal Party. Is it not time that instead of giving this sort of approval to a convention about State rights they should look as well at State obligations to this chamber? If Mr Lewis has a problem which concerns his State honourable senators on the other side of the chamber will be quick to point that out in terms of the rights of New South Wales. But they are very slow to point out to Mr Lewis the terms of his obligation under the convention which has applied since 1 95 1 . As I have said we find this backing and hedging. In today’s newspaper we find the Leader ofthe Opposition in the other place (Mr Snedden) saying that the States should be excused in some way for their attitude because of their resentment of the Federal Government in various other ways. So I draw attention again to the obligations which Opposition senators might have felt in relation to the States.
It has been said in the course of this debate and by Mr Lewis, the New South Wales Premier, that perhaps the action was justified because Lionel Murphy who was appointed from this place to the High Court was not, as Mr Lewis put it, of sufficient juristic ability to be appointed to such an office. That has been said by Senator Scott in this place. Other honourable senators have recited Senator Murphy’s long and distinguished legal career. But I think something should also be said in this chamber, discussing the matter as we are here, about the role which Senator Murphy has played in this country as a legislator. This is the first time in the history of the political appointment of a High Court judge that such appointment has become in debate the subject of criticism by honourable senators opposite.
– That is rubbish. What about Dr Evatt? He was subject to criticism.
- Sir Magnus, I said in connection with a High Court appointment.
– I am talking about the High Court too. Mr Justice Evatt was appointed to the High Court.
– I am sorry. I am not old enough to remember that. That was before I was born. But the point I simply make, in case Sir Magnus is correct, is that this is the first time since the appointment of Dr Evatt to the High Court in the early 1 930s that a political appointment from this side of Parliament has been the subject of criticism here by honourable senators opposite. I think this chamber has some obligation to consider the very great role which Senator Murphy, as he then was, played in this chamber as a legislator. That in itself is a qualification for a High Court appointment, quite apart from Senator Murphy’s distinguished career as a lawyer and advocate. The characteristics which he brought to this chamber as a lawyer were those of innovation, imagination and vast capacity for mastering the details of new legislation. Those characteristics were needed in this country for many years, during all the time the Opposition was in government, but they were never displayed by his totally unimaginative predecessors.
I think Senator Murphy goes from this place, in a sense, as the great prince of the Senate. Over many years of activity as a parliamentarian and as a lawyer Senator Murphy has ensured that the Senate will continue to perform a useful function in the governmental structure of this country and that it will continue, by virtue of the committee system, to play a worthwhile and expanding role in the more increasingly complex activities of government in Australia. I think it is most important that that should be said in this chamber when one considers his appointment to the High Court.
– Is that why he voted against the committee system last year?
- Senator Rae, if you are trying to say that Senator Murphy perhaps made some political mistakes I for one would not disagree with you. But I was making a comparison with his predecessors, and, in particular, with his immediate predecessor who was one great political mistake. Senator Murphy might have been accused of making small political mistakes from time to time. These could be pointed to. But the thing I emphasise about the man is the vastness of his contribution in this chamber as a legislator. This will mark him in the history of the Senate in ways that perhaps nobody else who is here today will ever enjoy.
I referred earlier to the great traditions of the Liberal Party in relation to this matter in the days of Sir Robert Menzies and to the tremendous deterioration of adherence to those traditions. One finds in the Liberal Party platform a vestigial sort of statement about the role of a parliamentarian in matters of this kind. It is expressed in these terms:
Members of Parliament should possess appropriate qualities, experience, dedication and ability with a proper understanding of the parliamentary system and a respect for its traditions and functions.
Whatever might be said about the earlier parts of that sentence in relation to Opposition senatorswhether they possess the appropriate qualities of dedication or ability- the fact of the matter is that if they hold a respect for the traditions and functions of this Parliament they should not be so reticent about expressing those convictions with firmness and forthrightness in this place. They should not have taken the step of amending the motion which was moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) and which expresses the gravest concern about the possibility of a departure from those traditions to which I have just referred.
-I rise in this debate in the belief that although the Government has adopted the Opposition’s amendment some things have been said in the course of the debate that call for comment and others do not. I want to distinguish between the two. My second purpose is mainly to take advantage of this occasion to put on record the ramshackle situation that is left in the constitutional provisions with regard to casual vacancies in this place which I have lived to learn has become much more important even in my time. I heard Senator Button refer to Mr Justice Murphy as a prince. With regard to that I use not language of my own but the language of Machiavelli who said in discussing the prince: ‘Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong and to make use of it and not according to necessity’. I dismiss the other remarks of both Senator Button and Senator Everett, which canvassed the personal or professional propensities or qualities of the newly appointed judge, as precocious, presumptuous, most inappropriate and, I think, betokening a puerility which I hope will with experience improve.
We are not discussing today those matters. They are completely irrelevant, and the imprudence of discussing them is that, having been stated, they provoke other persons either to qualify or refute them if those other persons are not capable of exercising the appropriate restraint, because nobody discusses the personal or professional qualifications of a judge unless he wishes to take some effective action in respect of it. That is irrelevant to this debate. The things, though, that do call for comment in this regard, some of the remarks that have been made, are indications or suggestions- I hope they are not more than that- that the newly appointed judge may participate in adjudicating upon cases in regard to which he has advised professionally as Attorney-General. 1 would have thought it is one ofthe conventions of the judicial sphere that no advocate who is appointed to the bench will assume to act in judgment on an issue upon which he has advised before his appointment. So I hope that there is no substance in the suggestions that the newly appointed judge is about to undertake that responsibility.
But if I go further and say that it would be fair in political discussion for people to be anxious as to the purpose of the appointment- that the Attorney-General who promoted certain constitutional claims which are being contested by the States should be translated from the AttorneyGeneralship to the High Court for the purpose of giving weight in the adjudication o.” thee issues to the judicial result- that is a proposition which would be highly revelant to the consideration by those responsible for filling the casual vacancy. Having said that by way of preface, let me now say that I think this debate can be carried on somewhat objectively by people of proper outlook and unfuddled intellect.
The Opposition has moved an amendment asking the Senate, now that it has entered upon a discussion of the filling of the casual vacancy following the appointment of Mr Justice Murphy, to affirm, as mentioned in paragraph ( 1 ) of the amendment, that the choice of a senator to fill a casual vacancy is, by section 15 of the Constitution, the sole responsibility of the Houses of Parliament of the State. That is a propostion that the Government now accepts. It is on our suggestion that that sole responsibility has been emphasised and it is part of the amendment. I need not read the remainder of paragraph ( 1 ). Paragraph (2) of the amendment states:
The Senate commends to the Parliaments of all the States the practice which has prevailed since 1949 whereby the States, when casual vacancies have occurred, have chosen a Senator from the same political party as the Senator who died or resigned.
The particular point about that paragraph is that it refers to the continued experience that we have had under section 15 as a practice, not as a convention. The Senate, if it has any scruples as to the Constitution, ought to be quite careful and most cautious about its language in this respect. But the third point about it is that these disciples of elevated constitutional integrity- I notice that Senator Everett is out of the chamber at the moment, and I wish expressly to bring him within the aura of the phrase- ought to give credit to the Opposition in the Senate when it does maintain the Constitution and established conventions, and when the Opposition goes further and commends to the parliaments of the States the practice that has been observed in this regard they might become a little generous in their understanding. In addition to constitutional provisions and conventions the Opposition commends the acceptance of and compliance with the practices that have been observed in regard to section 15. How important is that to those who slip so naturally into abuse and derision? One honourable senator of somewhat diminutive stature was so conscious of it that he even had the temerity to refer to my stature. One honourable senator this morning sought to write my face- its seriousness or its hilariousness- into the record. Now someone seeks to write my trunk into it solely because these little men are possessed with the consciousness of their own handicaps.
Let us proceed to a constitutional discussion. I suppose that it will be accepted by all members of the Senate if I assert that the States have a peculiar interest in the constitution ofthe Senate. Indeed, without an acknowledgement of their interest in the constitution of the Senate, there would have been no Federation. Idiots who refer to one vote, one value in propagating an argument appropriate to the Senate ought to accept silence in this place for a month. The very essence of the Senate is that all States, despite inequality in regard to population or number of electors, should have equal voting strength in the Senate. Having dealt with that, the Constitution then went on to concede to the newly created Federal Parliament the right to legislate as to the method of choosing electors, having prescribed that in choosing senators each elector shall have one vote. Otherwise, the method of choosing electors was conceded to the Federal Parliament. But the founding fathers reserved to the parliaments of the States the right to make laws for determining the times and places of elections of senators for the States. Realising that there can be no division of boundaries for senators for purposes of rigging the electorates or divisions, that power in regard to the places and times of elections is not unimportant. They reserved to the Governor of the State the right and authority to issue the writs for the election of senators. In those circumstances the States retained quite an interest in the composition of this chamber. The Parliament, pursuant to its authority, legislated for modified proportional representation in 1949. It adopted a truncated system of proportional representation. The principle of proportional representation was applied to any full election. Without a constitutional amendment to section 15 of the Constitution, the Parliament could not go on and fulfil completely in the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act the only method by which proportionalrepresentation could be completely applied. Section 15 of the Constitution was imperative. It stated that, if the place of a senator became vacant before the expiration of his term, then the Houses of Parliament of the State would, sitting and voting together, choose a person to hold the place for a temporary term until there was another election which would give the opportunity for his successor to be appointed. That is all that Quick and Garran stated, as quoted by Senator Everett. The term of the person coming in to fill the casual vacancy is temporary, ad hoc or interim until there is another election giving the opportunity for that person to be elected. Senator Everett seemed to display an inadequate understanding of the matter when he referred to the provision being temporary. I pointed out that it was that section that required this Parliament to truncate the provisions for proportional representation. It is a real knot in the log with regard to the provisions for proportional representation because the only true way to preserve the proportion for which the system is devised is to give the various shades, groups, parties or independents of political opinion that go before the people the right to be represented in this chamber proportionately to the vote that such groups or parties secure - Debate interrupted.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Order! It being 3 p.m., pursuant to the sessional order of the Senate, the Senate will now proceed to deal with General Business.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That General Business be postponed until after the further consideration of Government business, Order of the Day No. 1.
-Section 15 being in the Constitution as it is, to whom do we assert in the first part of our amendment it gives the sole responsibility for filling the vacancy? It is not the Executive, a group or a political party; and, God forbid, it is not up to an independent to nominate a substitute. No, the sole responsibility is vested in both Houses of the State Parliament sitting together. One of the defects of proportional representation and the transfer of votes from the original papers is that if there is an election in 1974 and the casual vacancy occurs in 1975 a great deal of change in the political judgment of the electors may have occurred in that interval. Section 1 5 of the Constitution, in committing the decision not to a political party, not to an Executive and not to an independent, but to the elected members of the State Parliament, I would have thought commits the responsibility to a body democratically elected and constitutionally indicated in that section.
So if it is found that the Constitution is in line with the general theme that the Senate is a body in which the States have a particular interest and that the Constitution prescribes that the members of both Houses of the State Parliament sitting together shall fill a casual vacancy, it can be seen that it may be that a decision by the people’s representatives in the State Parliament would be a more appropriate interpretation of the will ofthe people in February 1975 than a transfer of votes from an election held in May 1974.
– Some of those New South Wales legislative councillors have been there for years.
– I am discussing this matter constitutionally. When I want advice from the henhouse I shall go to Senator McLaren. I have not thought it appropriate to have any communication with Mr Lewis or any of his associates lest I be considered as interpreting their view. They may take the view that having that constitutional responsibility they are bound to take into consideration all sorts of matters affecting the public interest of this Commonwealth and their State as well as the practice that has been developed in connection with filling casual vacancies since 1949. This point of view does not depend upon my personal idea.
Mr Odgers referred to the Select Committee on the Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bill in the fourth edition of ‘Australian Senate Practice’. The Committee was led by Senator McKenna and was constituted wholly of Labor senators. At page 65 Mr Odgers refers to the fact that the committee drew attention to the incidence of proportional representation on the question of casual vacancies. It said:
Because of the added importance of casual vacancies as a result of proportional representation ensuring fairly evenly divided Senates, it was recommended that the constitutional provision for the rilling of casual vacancies should be reviewed. The Committee was agreed that the law should be amended to make it as nearly certain as possible that casual vacancies will always be Riled by a new Senator ofthe same political complexion as his predecessor.
The most satisfactory way to ensure this result, the Committee considered, was by a provision in the law that any votes credited to an ex-senator be transferred to the next in line according to his ballot papers and the candidate elected by a continuation of the count would serve until the expiration of the term or until the election of a successor at the next election, whichever should first occur. That is entirely in accordance with the principle which I say is the only principle fully to effectuate the system of proportional representation. That was understood by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, of which I was a member, as was the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). At present we are the only 2 remaining members of Parliament who were on that Committee. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review considered providing the review that the double dissolution committee had recommended. As reported in the Constitutional Review Committee’s report the Committee found it impossible to devise a provision which would allow for the transmission of votes according to party nomination. The difficulties are immense. To transfer to a political party the right which now belongs to a parliament of a State elected by the people is a very big political bridge to cross. The second thing, as the Committee noted, is that it is not outside the scope of experience that a vacating senator might join another party after his original election and before the vacancy occurs. Suppose that no Queensland election was in contemplation at the time the Gair affair arose and an ambassadorship was offered. Senator Gair may have found it convenient to declare himself as rejoining the Australian Labor Party the week before. We would then have had an even more scandalous situation in applying the convention then than occurred when he did vacate his seat. The scandal of that comes from the stable of the purists, from those people who expand their chests with righteous indignation in the anticipation that Senator Wright will desert the principles of the Constitution and convention. How noble I see them as specimens of integrity, those who procured the Gair affair or the translation from the Bethune Government to its successor. I think we might reflect that there were the greatest difficulties before the Constitutional Review Committee in writing in a specific provision that would become constitutional law requiring that the successor on a casual vacancy should be a member of the same party as the vacating senator.
Be it noted that the claim that is made for this so-called convention- I call it a practice, I want to be specific- is not that the next on the ballot paper shall have the adoption from the State members of parliament but that the nominee of the political party of which the vacating senator was a member shall be elected by the fully elected members of both Houses of State Parliament. AB may be put up as the nominee and 90 per cent of the State members of parliament then think, on other than political grounds, that he is unfit to be a member of the parliament.
– They can ask for another one.
-I am just pointing that out. The first thing that has to be considered is how far we concede to the State parliaments the right to go down the list put forward by a political party before they adopt a nominee who is acceptable. That is a real problem. The second thing is the case of the person who changes his political allegiance during his membership as a senator. Senator Townley only this week ceased to be called an independent and was adopted as a member of the Liberal Party. Let us take the position of Senator Hall. Let us imagine the situation if the practice were applied to him. This morning after he made his speech in this debate we saw him kneeling at the feet of Senator Wheeldon, no doubt getting compliments and expressions of approval for having so patronised the Government. Let us suppose that Senator Hall was offered an ambassadorship and that a vacancy was created in relation to him. One need only state these points to see that it is quite inappropriate, as the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review decided, to write a rigid formula of words into the Constitution to give effect to this practice. If it cannot go into the Constitution, by the very absence of definition it is a malleable practice in the circumstances to which I have referred.
If an appointment to the High Court is for the purpose of giving strength to a judicial position by the participation of an Attorney-General who has already advised on highly important constitutional matters- I do not say that is the position, I previously referred to it by way of explanationif the nominee of a political party was on other than political grounds completely unacceptable to the big majority of the members of the State Houses, if a member of a political party had changed his political allegiance during his membership of the Senate or if he were a sole independent person in the Senate who had no right to have any political succession attributed to him, the practice is ill defined and demands the judgment of those responsible for its application. That is one of the incontrovertible rights of State parliaments.
While I am talking of the rights of State parliaments, I point out that one of the Tasmanian senators who has contributed to the debate, Senator Everett, thought the issue of State rights being challenged by the Federal Parliament during the last few years to be so important that he joined with other State luminaries in a conference in London for a number of weeks, supported by advisers and the necessary public finance, to defend State rights against the challenge of the Federal authorities. No doubt he was concerned about the threats to abolish appeals to the Privy Council, the threats to encroach upon the extra-territorial domain of offshore oil interests and other matters that the States consider are their rights. As I have pointed out, the application of this practice is one of the rights that are today, by the unanimous resolution of this Senate, the sole responsibility of the 2 Houses of the Parliament of any particular State voting together.
When we get to the stage of translating a practice into a convention we ought to give a little thought to the way in which it might be developed as a convention. First of all, there is a provision in section 5 1 of the Constitution that enables all States by their own act to transfer matters to the Commonwealth, so that the Commonwealth can legislate upon them. Matters may be referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the parliament or parliaments of any State or States. If the States concede their constitutional power to fill a casual vacancy they could refer that power to the Parliament of the Commonwealth and enable the Commonwealth, having got rid of section 15, to go on and add to the present truncated proportional representation provisions, those provisions that would enable casual vacancies to be filled in accordance with those principles by a transfer and a recount of votes. That is one way in which one could establish a convention. Am I to be attacked as subverting the Constitution when I point out that in accordance with its provisions the practice might be translated into a convention or even into a constitutional power?
The alternative way of establishing a convention would be by a compact between the States. This matter has been referred to by Mr Odgers in his book. He says that a convention has been so established, but he has referred to the precedents of some 20 to 25 cases at another part of his book. I would have thought in a highly contentious political arena such as this that it would be questionable whether a convention has been established in the full meaning of a constitutional convention. Mr Odgers goes on to say that it would be possible by a compact between the State governments or their parliaments to choose a person who was a member of the same political party as the vacating senator, and that this is a matter which might well be considered at a Premiers Conference. There is a Premiers Conference tomorrow. I suggest that it will be a ready occasion for anybody who wishes to do so to take up the writings of the Clerk of the Senate and to say: ‘Are we all agreed that we have made for all time a compact to observe this practice?’ I suggest, even upon those rather superficial considerations in which I have engaged at greater length than probably is pleasing to the impatience of some of the impulsive debaters who preceded me, that an analysis of the situation shows that so far from subverting the Constitution by giving my vote to my Leader’s amendment I have with more care than some who have preceded me analysed the provisions of the Constitution and sought to act completely in compliance with the specific provisions of the Constitution and the practices, not merely the conventions, that we have established. I have done so because we commend to the parliaments of the States the practice that has prevailed of filling a casual vacancy by a person of the same political persuasion as the vacating senator.
It would be presumptuous of me, unless invited by the Houses of Parliament of New South Wales, to say what in my opinion would be the proper course on this occasion, just as presumptuous as it would be of them if they sought to offer me advice on my vote on off-shore oil legislation in respect of which I voted for an extension of Federal power. I believe in the integrity of other people and my own self-respect until I am satisfied that each is deficient. Having established incontrovertibly that, in accordance with the constitutional law, the sole responsibility for filling this vacancy rests with the Houses of Parliament of the State, and commending a practice that has been established in the last 25 years, I suggest that in that respect I am seeking to uphold the Constitution scrupulously. I have no doubt that the elected members of the New South Wales Parliament can be trusted to discharge their duties with integrity, knowledge and judgment equal to that of anybody here. Having regard to what we have said, I am prepared to leave the matter to the judgment of those elected and trusted persons. I doubt not that they will very cogently take into consideration all the repercussions that might follow in the political arena by failing to observe the practice that has been built up in this regard over the last 24 years. I think they are as capable of assessing the constitutional and political repercussions as are members of this chamber.
I want to add a postscript to what I have said and quite firmly to express my regret that Senator Everett indulged in an enumeration of the new appointee’s professional or personal qualities. Nobody on this side challenged them. It is easy to make a cock-shy to knock down. That is the weakest form of debate. Then he went on to advance argument questioning the integrity and political morality of my Leader, solely to join with and give a little weight to the words of Senator Hall, the moralist in this chamber, who claimed that my Leader said that because the appointment was bad the selection of the successor also can be justified on bad methods. Senator Withers would not be understood by anyone but a very small boy to put such a kindergarten idea. Senator Withers simply said that the States are being challenged and their rights are being encroached upon by many Acts of this Parliament, including a number of Acts whose constitutional validity will come before the tribunal to which the ex-senator has been appointed. That is a legitimate consideration and I would think that anybody who allowed the Premier of New South Wales to forfeit it would be showing political immaturity at its worst. It is a legitimate consideration for the Premier to take into account as to whether the appointment represents a threat to his State rights impelling a very exact compliance with the other State right that he possesses under section 15. 1 would hope that the public would not pay any of us our political emoluments for more than the first immature 1 2 months that we are here if, after being in politics for 12 months, we failed to learn the first lesson of politics, namely, that it is all a matter of compromise and that you use one political advantage to discount or promote the other. Therefore we need not go on to the level of high morality. When I hear persons talking of morality I begin to suspect their morality. I speak of judgment and I speak of responsibility, and I concede to them respect for integrity until it is proper to question it. I pass by those scurrilous references made about the Leader of the Opposition and I pass by those immature attempts to praise the outgoing senator, now Mr Justice Murphy.
– A subject which has caused some distress to many of us over past years has been a decline in respect for the United Nations. I am sorry that this view has been reinforced this afternoon by the recently returned observer who seems to have acquired some of the characteristics of a Caribbean potentate in speaking for several hours in great obscurity only to a much smaller audience.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Order! I do not think that that is a proper reflection on the previous speaker. I think you should direct your remarks to the proposed amendment.
– Is ‘Caribbean’ or potentate ‘ the offensive word?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The expression was offensive to me.
– I will withdraw it. The Opposition Parties- at least the Liberal Party and the Country Party- for many years have campaigned on a platform of law and order, none more than Senator Wright. I would think that the issues involved in the question we are discussing this afternoon are fundamental to law and order within a democratic society. I do not intend to traverse again the fields which have been so capably dealt with by Senator Everett, Senator Button and other members of the Government Party.
– You would agree that that is a narrow partisan view, would you not?
-No, I would not agree. I think that there are 2 fundamental requirements for the functioning of law and order in a democratic society. The first is that the people must have confidence in the integrity of their courts. The second is that they must believe that when they vote at an election to choose their representatives in Parliament they are taking effective action and an action which will retain its effect for the term for which they have voted. Both of these cardinal principles of law and order in a democratic society have been repudiated by honourable senators opposite who have so persistently and vociferously down the years postured in this chamber their adherence to law and order.
I do not want to talk for more than a few sentences o’n the propriety of the appointment of Mr Justice Murphy to the High Court. The matter has been raised by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Lewis, as one of the reasons why he would not follow the convention, the practice, or whatever it may be called, relating to the filling of casual vacancies in the Senate. We would not be having this debate today if it were not for Mr Lewis. He raised the question of the propriety of Mr Justice Murphy’s appointment to the High Court of Australia. We on this side of the chamber did not raise the subject. We are replying to a matter which was raised outside the Parliament by the Premier of a State and which was raised in the Senate by Senator Scott who referred to it quite specifically. There are difficulties in appointing judges. Many methods of appointment have been applied in different countries. In some countries judges are elected directly by the people. In some countries they are appointed or nominated by a panel of other judges or jurists or responsible citizens, whatever that may be taken to mean.
In our system, which we have inherited from the British, we have followed the practice that members of the bench are appointed by the Government. It has been accepted essentially by all those people who participate in the democratic system in this country and in other countries in the Commonwealth that, whatever the political background of the person who is appointed to the bench may have been, once he is appointed to the bench he takes with him all the traditions of that bench to which he has been appointed. That is something which the Australian Labor Party has accepted. We have been most scrupulous -
– I would like you to clear up one point.
– 1 would like to continue now. I will debate this matter with the honourable senator later. We have been most scrupulous in observing this practice. During this debate or any other debate, including debates on any matters which will come before the High Court, there has not been any reference by Labor senators to the previous political background of Sir Garfield Barwick. Senators from the Labor
Party have not discussed the previous political background of Sir John Spicer or any of the other numerous political appointments which have been made by Liberal-Country Party governments in the past, because we have accepted the principle that once a judge is appointed he is an impartial member of that bench.
Once we commence the course advocated by Mr Lewis and by Senator Scott of attempting to discredit people who have been appointed to a court, whether it is the High Court or any other court, we undermine that loyalty to those who interpret the laws of this country about which people such as Senator Wright have boasted in the past. I do not believe that his speech today warrants so much attention that I ought to be devoting a whole speech to it. He has advocated respect for the courts. He has said that one should not impugn the honour or the integrity of judges. But he could not restrain himself from suggesting, albeit in a hypothetical way, that there could be a circumstance in which a judge would be appointed because he had given advice relating to a matter which later would be dealt with by that court.
– The suggestion has come from Senator James McClelland.
-Whomever the suggestion came from, the point was made by Senator Wright. I heard him make it only a few minutes ago. It is the members of the Liberal and Country Parties who are setting out to discredit the courts of this country. Their mean motive is to gain some temporary political advantage.
The second requirement of law and order in a democracy is that the people should be assured that when they vote at an election their vote has some meaning. Australia has a bicameral parliament. We have a Senate whose members are elected according to a system of proportional representation. We have a House of Representatives whose members are elected on a basis roughly approximating the populations of the electorates which they represent. This system is imperfect. Owing to the actions of the previous Government and the refusal of the Senate to take various steps which the Australian Labor Party wished to take, there is a gross disproportion in the sizes of electorates for the House of Representatives. So already democracy itself is distorted by the composition of the Parliament. Allowing for all that, one can say that in comparison with other countries we have a relatively democratic system. Twice in a little over 2 years the Australian people quite clearly and quite definitely have elected the Australian Labor Party to govern this country for 3 years. This fact has not been accepted by the people who sit opposite or by the people whom they really represent- the people who are opposed to the policies which the Australian Labor Party is trying to implement, with the support of those people who elected it to government.
One way in which not only the Constitution but also responsible politicians down the years have attempted to retain some meaning in the democratic process is by the convention or practice, call it what you will, that when a senator vacates his seat, for whatever reason, he will be replaced by a member of the political party to which he belonged. It is no use raising pettifogging points about what would happen if an Independent senator vacated his seat or in the case of a senator who changed his political allegiance while he was a senator. These circumstances, admittedly difficult, have not arisen. That is not the circumstance now. There are perfectly clear precedents for the existing situation.
– What about Senator Hannaford? He changed his allegiance after he was elected.
-He did, but a Liberal was appointed to replace him.
– That is the point. He was elected as a Liberal. He sat as an Independent.
-That only strengthens the point which I am making. It means that the man who was appointed as his replacement was a member of the party to which Senator Hannaford belonged at the time he was elected. There was no issue and no debate on this question in the Parliament. Nobody in the Labor Party objected to a member of the Liberal Party being appointed to replace Senator Hannaford.
– Why did you not object?
– I did not object because I believe that it would have been most improper for me to have done so. That is why the Australian Labor Party did not. We believed that it would have been most improper to have done so. I can see that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack cannot discern the impropriety that is involved in that. We did not object because we did not believe that it would have been proper to object, and it would not have been proper to object.
Of course there are difficulties involved in this matter. One of the weaknesses of the system results, as Senator Wright in one of his more lucid moments told us, because of section 15 of the Constitution. We do not have a perfect system of replacing retired or deceased senators. Owing to the requirements of the Constitution an election has to be held before the balance of the departing senator’s term has been completed by his successor, and this throws the alignment of the Senate out of adjustment. Nonetheless, despite all those difficulties, the convention or the practice- call it what you will- has been an honoured practice. It was honoured last year by the Australian Labor Party Government in Western Australia when Senator Prowse resigned from the Senate when an election appeared to be in the offing. The Labor Government in Western Australia appointed to the Senate a man who was here for only a few monthsthe State President of the Country Party in Western Australia- something which would in normal circumstances have made it much easier for him to be re-elected and to retain Senator Prowse ‘s seat in the Senate.
Even though it was quite obvious what had happened, never once did the Australian Labor Party Government say: ‘There is something funny going on here. Why is he not seeing his whole term out and allowing a new candidate to stand at the election?’ The Australian Labor Party Government in Western Australia, without any demur from the Australian Labor Party organisation, without any complaint from any member of the Party in the Parliament, even though it was perfectly obvious what was being done and why it was being done, said that the practice or convention, call it what you will- we certainly treated it as a convention- is that if a senator vacates his seat it is the responsibility of the government of the State which he represents to appoint a member of the same party to replace him. Mr Tonkin, who was then the Premier of Western Australia, did that without the slightest hesitation whatsoever. 1 do not believe that it is any use Senator Wright, Senator Withers, Mr Lewis or anybody else saying that he is entitled to distort the Constitutionthat is what they are doing- or to distort the nature of democratic government in this country because he strongly disagrees with the policy of the Australian Labor Party and the present Government because it is centralist, communist, socialist or whatever else. The whole point of democracy is that people who have strongly opposing views compete within the electorate and compete within Parliament. Mr Killen very admirably has pointed out that if we were to rely on the written letter of the Constitution the whole structure of parliamentary government in Australia would collapse. If someone is going to depart from that practice because he objects, however strongly, to the party to which he is opposed, then he is setting out to destroy democracy in the same way as democracy was destroyed in Germany in 1 933, in Austria in 1 934, in Italy in 1 92 1 and in Greece in the 1 960s.
Democracy is a very fragile flower. It exists in only some countries. Apart from a handful of countries in Asia and the Caribbean democracy exists only in countries where there is a relatively high standard of living and where there is a relatively high standard of education, and it does not exist in all of them. We have seen, I suppose within the lifetime of everybody in the Senate, democracies destroyed in some of the most advanced western countries- in Germany, Austria and Italy. In only recent years we have seen that happen. It happened in times of economic crisis similar to that through which the world is passing at the present time. Senator Martin apparently disagrees but the facts remain that it has been in times of stress and economic tension that democracy is the most vulnerable. It was in similar times of inflation and unemployment that democracy collapsed in those countries in which it did collapse.
If you are going to depart from the principles which govern a parliamentary democracy and make enough people think that, though they voted in an election and elected a party to govern, that is really meaningless and all sorts of steps can be taken to abort what they have tried to do with that vote, those people who are already dissatisfied because of economic circumstances and do not like the economic system will also have a contempt for the political system. When they talk about the system they will not mean just the economic system; they will mean the political system as well. We saw that happen in France with the constantly changing governments and the shabby manoeuvres that took place throughout the 1930s. That was one of the things that led to the growth of the Communist Party at the expense of democratic socialists and the growth of the fascist organisations which subsequently destroyed their own country and collaborated with the Germans at the expense of the traditional conservatives. The whole of the democratic framework inside that country had been destroyed. That is what I believe is being done.
– I think you are being rude.
– If I wanted to have an historical discussion I do not think Senator Webster is the person I would choose as my debating partner. That is the sort of thing which is now occurring in Australia. I believe that if the Liberal and Country Parties believe not just in profits but that there ought to be a democraticsystem and that within that democratic system there ought to be law and order, they have a very clear responsibility to join with the Australian Labor Party in seeing that the democratic system is not only preserved but also extended and that law and order are preserved and extended. You do not preserve the democratic system by engaging in shabby tricks and manoeuvres to gain a majority in Parliament to which you were not elected, nor do you gain it by discrediting the judges of the courts of this country who have been appointed in the traditional manner. That is what the Opposition is doing and that is what it would have persisted in doing had it not been for the action of the Government in the Senate. It would have allowed Mr Lewis to get away with what he was trying to do, but at last belatedly and shamefacedly it has been dragged into proposing its present amendment. We accept that amendment because we want to get a unanimous resolution of the Senate, but I hope that historians when they look back on the history of this debate will judge the integrity, the honesty and the consistency of those people who have talked so much about democracy and law and order but have done so much to damage and discredit them.
– I hope that when historians look back on this debate they will be able to read the Hansard report clearly. I am not an historian, and do not need to be, to read last night’s report of what was said in the Senate in relation to our amendment to the motion. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) said:
As might be inferred from what I have said, we on this side regard Senator Withers’ amendment as a worthy one and we are prepared to accept it.
I find it difficult to respond with any sort of warmth to the apparent passion with which Senator Wheeldon has spoken this afternoon. We had a motion put to us which we in the Opposition found unacceptable for various reasons which Senator Withers put to the Senate in detail last night. I will speak briefly on a couple of them in a little while. The Opposition moved an alternative amendment in terms which, according to the lead up to the debate, should have made the Government very happy. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) during his opening speech, when referring to members of the Opposition, said:
Will they stand up to defend the convention, to defend the agreement between the States, to defend the democratic rights of the New South Wales voters? . . . Will they seek to remain silent on this great and historic question of principle by the device of moving an amendment which deliberately dodges the central issue?
The purpose of our amendment was to make 2 statements- a statement as to who actually has the legal right to make the appointment, which cannot be quibbled at because it is a legal and constitutional right, and a second statement on the procedure we believed States should follow when there is a casual vacancy in the Senate. These were the issues to which Senator Wriedt referred. He asked us to stand up to defend the convention, to defend the agreement- and there is some dispute about that- between the States. That we have done. We have not dodged that central issue, which was denned by the Government when it opened the debate last night. Our amendment is very much to the point.
We had an extraordinary spectacle following the introduction of our amendment. The Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) was the first to raise the probity of so-called political appointments to the High Court. The next speaker from the Government referred to it also. I do not want to pursue this point. I am not a member of the legal profession, and I do not believe that we should be saying things in the Senate which reflect on the probity of our judges. Many strong reflections have been made today on the remarks made by Senator Scott last night. Some comments were made during the debate this morning which I could not accept and which at the time I indicated 1 could not accept by means of interjections to Senator Everett. Last night Senator Douglas McClelland, when referring to Mr Murphy, said.
He was elected to the Senate, but he was chosen by the Government to accept a judicial post and he accepted that judicial post, as other members of the present High Court of Australia did. If Senator Greenwood likes to name them he can do so because he knows a greater number of them than I do.
I suggest that there is not a senator of Australia who did not know exactly what Senator Douglas McClelland meant by that. We should have had, on the surface of it, a brief and non-acrimonious debate. The Government indicated, in the words of Senator James McClelland:
Nevertheless, we have had at times a very acrimonious debate and at times a very heated debate. I have come into the debate not because I wish to prolong it- I will attempt to be brief- but because I feel that there are some things which I must say. I must say some things in reply to some of the allegations made by Government supporters which I feel touch on my probity as a senator. I specifically wish to reply to allegations that were made this morning by Senator Hall, the Independent senator from South Australia.
– He is an independent Liberal.
– He is not by my definition a fellow Liberal, nor is he by his own. Senator Hall chooses to walk and to sit apart, to campaign and to speak apart. One must look, with all the high morality that several Government speakers have proposed when speaking today, at just what they have been doing and what they have been claiming to do. Personally, I found the remarks of Senator Wheeldon in some particulars offensive. He accused Opposition senators of posturing and then entered into a discussion of a particular appointment to the High Court by accusing the Opposition of being the first to raise it. If he were to check the Hansard record, as I have pointed out he will know that it is patently wrong. There was a desire on the part of some Government senators to pursue the line that they thought they would be pursuing when they came into the Senate to launch this debate last night, to attack a particular member of the New South Wales Parliament, to attack the New South Wales Government and its actions, and to attack what they thought would be the Opposition’s stance- quite mistakenly. The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation did not have good reason to believe that so strongly.
The attitudes of quite a number of Opposition senators, as well as Opposition members of the House of Representatives, were quoted in the Press yesterday. I was one of those who was quoted. A large number of us were interviewed, I am told. I do not know how many were quoted but I was certainly one who was. The amendment moved by the Opposition which was put to the Senate last night and which will be voted on shortly reflects the point of view that I gave to the Press yesterday before knowing what our move would be. It was a stand I would have maintained in any event. This is important because another honourable senator in this place who calls himself a Liberal has made very serious reflections on all Liberal senators. He made them this morning. At the time I attempted to get him to elucidate the allegations he was making.
– You are referring to Senator Steele Hall, I presume?
– I said one who chooses to call himself a Liberal, not one that I recognise as a Liberal. Yes, indeed, I am referring to Senator
Steele Hall. Senator Steele Hall said that he was sorry that the Government had accepted the amendment, that it had accepted this watered down version of its motion. The amendment is not a watered down version of the Government’s original motion. It is a distinct amendment which was accepted as a distinct amendment. However, it was fashionable in a couple of speeches today to call this amendment a watering down of the Government’s motion. It was nothing of the sort.
My Leader in the Senate spoke last night at some length on our reasons for not supporting particularly parts (1) and (2) of the Government’s motion. I do not wish to revive that motion but it is relevant to note that there is a very strong difference between our amendment and the Government’s original motion. In speaking this morning when he accused us of putting in a watered down motion, Senator Hall said that the moderates of the Liberal Party had been silent in the Senate. The reason he gave for the silence of the moderates was fear. He had much to say about what he called the moderates. He went on to say that he warned the moderates that not to speak is to lose to the extremists. I asked Senator Hall several times during the course of that section of his speech to whom he was referring as moderates.
You may recall, Mr President, that Senator Hall said that one of the moderates had risen in the Senate to state their point of view and that only the extreme conservative point of view had been voiced. I asked him several times: ‘Who are the moderates and to whom are you referring?’. So long as Senator Hall does not answer that question then all Liberal senators can be accused by him, by inference, at any time as being either an extreme conservative or a moderate who will not speak. He has a broad choice in the list of speakers who have spoken on this side of the House on this particular motion. So long as Senator Hall does not indicate who are these moderates who fear to speak I stand apparently accused by him of being an extreme conservative.
I would like Senator Hall to clarify that remark. I think that I at least am entitled to that. According to the statement made by Senator Hall this morning I am one of these extreme conservatives. I was one of a number of people in the Liberal Party meeting room yesterday who forced these moderate Liberals to knuckle under to a majority vote. It is quite some time, as Senator Jessop pointed out at that stage of the debate, since Senator Hall knew anything about Liberal Party meetings. It is some time since Senator Hall has been in a position to speak with any authority. Whichever brand of Liberal I happen to be according to Senator Hall ‘s statement, I say quite categorically that whether I am a moderate who walks in fear or an extreme conservative who suppresses my colleagues in the Senate, his statement that a majority suppressed a minority yesterday in the Party room is total nonsense. I was, as I said earlier, one of those honourable senators who was quoted in the Press yesterday morning as saying that I believe that the practice that has been followed for some years in relation to casual vacancies should be followed in this instance.
I put it to honourable senators that the amendment we are putting forward hardly squares with the notion expressed by Senator Hall as to who were the conservatives. Apparently Senator Hall was disappointed. He would have liked the Opposition to have rejected the Government’s motion outright and to have proposed no positive alternative. We put up a positive alternative which has been accepted by the Government. That disappointed him. For once he could not get up and say that the Opposition was being negative. He makes that statement repeatedly, regardless of whether or not the Opposition is being negative. By the Government’s acceptance of our amendment, Senator Hall had no platform on this occasion to accuse us of being purely negative.
I must on this point take strong exception also to remarks made by Senator Everett. Senator Everett said something today which Senator James McClelland certainly did not say last night. Senator Everett said that the Government accepted our amendment in order to get a motion of some sort on the books. He then went on to elaborate his statement about the Government wishing to get a motion of some sort on the books. He said it was clear that if our amendment was defeated a vote would be taken on the Government’s motion, we would vote against that and we assumed there would be a tied vote on both matters. He said that if our amendment were not carried then we would defeat the Government’s motion and there would be no decision. Senator Everett said that for the purpose of getting a decision on to the books the Government accepted our amendment. Earlier I quoted Senator James McClelland ‘s words. I shall quote them again. He stated:
That hardly indicates any sort of compromise on the ground that we want to get something or anything at all on the statute book.
– Where did he say that? That was at the tail end of his speech.
– They were the last words spoken by that honourable senator. I will agree with Senator Georges that it was rather difficult at some stages to follow what Senator James McClelland was going to say finally. He seemed to indicate during part of his speech that he was opposed to the amendment. Nevertheless, the Government has used the device of moral outrage at our reasons for putting forward this amendment. As a means of” attacking it and in speaking to the original motion honourable senators have attacked the Premier of New South Wales. A moral little, story was read to us by Senator Wheeldon. He told us that there were 2 requirements for law and order in Australia. Mr President, I suggest to you, as one of the very few non-lawyers who has spoken in this debate but nevertheless as a debater, that the criteria which Senator Wheeldon put up were worthy of the sophistry of a debating stage and not worthy of criteria which this Senate will accept. At some further time I would be delighted to debate with Senator Wheeldon whether he is the custodian of absolute truth as to what constitutes the criteria for law and order in Australia. I suggest that that was a device to launch a political attack on the Opposition while pretending, in the end, through a vote to support us.
Senator Everett also made some sort of an attack on us on the basis of Vietnam. I mention this in passing. It is an old device in debating that if one does not have anything to say about what is being debated one talks about something else but pretends it is relevant to the subject under discussion. This is a device with which honourable senators are familiar. The relevance of the comment on Vietnam quite escaped me as I think it was probably meant to escape anyone except those who respond with a certain sort of emotion to the comment which Senator Everett made. Or perhaps we were supposed to be misled into a debate on that subject. That level of debate hardly fits the style of high moral probity which some Government senators have chosen to strike when speaking to this matter.
I said that I would be brief, but I wish to mention one other point. I do not bring this up to be purely politically provocative but, as a Queensland senator, I think it is highly relevant. It is the matter of the Gair affair. The Government should watch what its own record has been in these matters. As a Queensland senator I know that the appointment of Mr Gair to a diplomatic posting- Mr Gair, of course, formerly being an honourable senator for Queensland- mattered very much in Queensland. The Government should have learnt its lesson. I hope that it has. 1 did not approve of what the Government did at the time. I would prefer not to see any deviation from practice in this event.
– It is just as well the Government did. The honourable senator would not be here if it had not.
- Senator Georges said that I would not be here if the Government had not taken that action. That is a matter which is a debate in itself. It is a matter of interesting conjecture as to what my chance of election would have been if there had not been a double dissolution. But there is certainly no doubt what the Government’s motives were in appointing Mr Gair to a diplomatic posting. The purpose was simply to provide 6 vacancies in Queensland. The Government knew very well that it could not win 3 out of 5 Senate seats. Members of the Government can apparently count. They can multiply and they can divide. They did their sums on election percentages and they decided that if there were 6 vacancies in Queensland the numbers might have come up right for them on that occasion. I suggest that that sort of manipulation of diplomatic posting, of Senate numbers and of representation of honourable senators hardly fits the argument we have. At that time Mr Gair was a long term senator. He had been elected by the people of Queensland with 16% per cent of the vote. He was not an Independent at the time he was elected. The people who voted for his Party apparently were entitled to substitute representation by his Party. But a different device was used by the Government. The Government used the device of timing which made for 6 vacancies. That was a little bit different from this situation. That sort of extreme cynicism in manipulation does not fit the high moral probity on which honourable senators on the Government side depend to attack the Premier of New South Wales.
I believe that the attitude which is expressed in the Opposition’s amendment is the correct one. We have to recognise the legal fact. Then we express an opinion about the practice which we would prefer to see followed. I do not believe that we should pass any judgment here in a formal way on what another government may do. Of course that was one of our big objections to the Government’s motion. It is not for the Senate to pass motions of that sort, to use numbers or to use a particular political situation to direct the actions of another government. If we were to accept that motion then we could run riot if a government or an opposition had the numbers. As honourable senators we have a responsibility for the Federal area of government. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility as individual senators to indicate an opinion on what we consider a practice should be. I think it is very different to indicate that we would prefer this practice to be used in the matter of the appointment of honourable senators rather than to actually pre-judge another State Government on something that it may do or to pass a motion that has just purely high political content. As I said at the outset, I thought that when the Government accepted the amendment this might have been a rather shorter and less acrimonious debate. I am sorry that it has not been. Nevertheless, I am glad that the Government has accepted the amendment. I commend the content of the amendment as against the content of some of the speeches which have been made on a purely political basis to the Senate and to the public of Australia.
– in reply- One would imagine that the subject matter of this debate would have caused some political heat. Of course it has done that, not only between parties in the Senate but also, it would seem, within at least one party. The purpose of the motion was to demonstrate that the Senate objected to the proposed actions of the New South Wales Government in relation to the replacement of the now Mr Justice Murphy. Quite apart from the issues which were canvassed and which I do not intend to canvass again now–
– Thank God for that.
-For Senator Sir Magnus Cormack ‘s benefit I am deliberately being cooperative in the circumstances. One thing is apparent from this debate and that is that there appears to be a unanimous decision to be taken by the Senate rejecting the course proposed by Mr Lewis. This is not a matter which today is perhaps vitally important, or it may not appear to be. But in the context of time and in the context of the future of the Senate we are taking an important decision. There does not appear to be a member of the Senate who is opposed to the principle which I believe was clearly written into the motion and into the amendment. The amendment is acceptable to the Government. It contains the essential feature ofthe feeling of the Senate. I am quite sure that by the Senate unanimously passing the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition it will be an expression to all State governments of a unanimously held opinion and one which I am sure all of us hope will be abided by in the years ahead. I suggest that we put this matter to the vote.
– The question is: ‘That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Withers’ amendment) be left out.’
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question is: ‘That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Withers’ amendment) be inserted. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question is: ‘That the motion as amended be agreed to. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
This a most appropriate time for this motion because the Premiers and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) are gathering tomorrow to discuss yet again a very grave situation which has arisen as a result of the inadequacy ofthe existing financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. I move this motion with a great sense of disquiet with regard to the arrangements as they exist now and as they have existed for some time. I also move it with a great sense of conviction that the terms of the motion would prove to be an adequate solution to the problem, and also with a good deal of satisfaction that this proposal has the full backing of my Party and is now included as one of its principal policy initiatives which, if returned to government, we arc pledged to implement.
The purpose of the motion is to give force to the policy that the States, in the terms of the motion, should receive a guaranteed proportion of Commonwealth personal income tax revenues. This is a great departure from the situation which has existed in Australia since Federation and a departure which my Party believes is long overdue. I regret that I may have to go back briefly over the history of these financial arrangements to indicate the reasons I make those assertions. At Federation the principal source of revenue of the States was customs duties, and one of the prime purposes of Federation was to eliminate the customs barriers between States and to create the principle of freedom of trade throughout the nation as it is enshrined in the famous section 92 of our Constitution. That decision immediately provided a grave problem for the States and, if I may say so, one that has never been solved in the 75 years since Federation.
Section 87 of the Constitution attempted to solve it by providing that during the first 10 years of Federation the States should receive 75 per cent of the customs revenue. Of course, after that period it would be received by the Commonwealth. It is interesting to note the terms of section 87 of the Constitution because there is the germ of this proposal. In fact it contains a similar type of proposal that the States should be guaranteed a certain proportion of Commonwealth revenue. I have said, in that case it was 75 per cent of customs duties received by the Commonwealth. The assumption was that the States, which were left with other taxing powers except the power of raising excise duties, would in the space of 10 years be able to reorganise their finances and to find other sources of revenue and after 10 years would be able to operate on thenown. That has never proved to be the case, and I recommend that honourable senators who are interested read the history of the general revenue assistance which is set out in the appendix to the Budget Papers every year and brought up to date every year. It appears in the 1974-75 Budget Papers commencing at page 153. It is a very careful survey of financial relations as they have existed over the 75 years of our Federation.
What became apparent early was that certain States, known as the less populous States- in particular, my own State of Western Australia and Tasmania- soon found that they had to obtain special grants from the Commonwealth. Western Australia first received special grants in 1910 and in 1911, and Tasmania in 1912 and 1913. Thereafter for many years from the First World War to the beginning of the Second World War the finances of the States jogged along in a very unsatisfactory way, the States raising what revenue they could from income tax and other sources. This revenue had to be supplemented by special assistance grants to many States. During the Second World War in 1942 the Commonwealth Government decided to arrogate to itself the total income tax revenues of the Commonwealth of Australia and thereby to exclude the States. This was done under what was known as the uniform tax legislation. It was to have 2 pillars, one a monopoly on income tax powers by the Commonwealth and the other a reimbursement to the States of income tax revenues forgone by the States. The condition of that reimbursement was that the States would not impose any income tax. This was introduced in the financial year commencing 1 July 1942, and basically that has been the principle governing the provision of revenue for the States ever since 1942.
Various formulas have been worked out. They have changed over these years but I think it is fair to say that these formulas, although having been revised from time to time, have broken down within a very short time after they have been adopted. It is interesting to note that the way in which these reimbursements to the States were originally determined has had a great deal to do with the principle which has governed these financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States throughout this whole period. The original form of reimbursement to the States was based upon the States own collections of taxes in the income years immediately prior to the imposition of the uniform taxation system.
– Tasmania and Western Australia have been drawing on the dug of the financial cow ever since.
– As I said, Western Australia and Tasmania were forced into this position by the inadequacy of their State revenues as long ago as 1910. Indeed, special grants have always had to be given to the States over the whole period. The method of approach was to reimburse the States for some notional income tax that they would have been able to raise themselves. I think it was in 1959 that the system was altered to provide for the different basis, not based essentially on what the States would have been able to raise themselves if they had had the taxing power but based on a formula which had regard to the population of the States- it was to be varied each year in accordance with movements in the population of the States- and also took into account increases in the level of average wages throughout the whole of Australia. That was a substantial change made in that year. Grants to the States then changed from being known as tax reimbursement grants to financial assistance grants. There have been some subsequent changes, notably those in 1 965 and in 1970. But, substantially, what has always happened is that there has been a base grant which originally was fixed on the basis of what income tax revenue the States had forgone. Added to that base grant were to be increases in the grant as a result of population changes and changes in the level of average wages and, in subsequent years, an addition for what has been known as a betterment factor. That was a percentage increase on the total grant to the States to give them some additional revenue in order to meet additional responsibilities. But, in essence, the whole approach to giving a proportion of the Commonwealth’s revenues to the States has been confined essentially to an approach as to what the States themselves had forgone by their surrender- it was hardly a surrender because it was imposed on them- of their income taxing powers. There has never been, in the whole history of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States since 1 942, any recognition of a right of the States to a clear share of the total revenues raised throughout Australia. That has been a particularly serious factor for the States because not only by this arrangement of uniform taxation had they been excluded from imposing income tax- of course, that is not only personal income tax but also company tax- but also by the Constitution they have been precluded at all times from raising tax in the nature of excise, the definition of which the High Court has interpreted quite widely. It covers anything in the nature of a sales tax or a purchase tax. It has even been found in recent years that a receipt duty that the States attempted to impose in order to solve their problems has been precluded. There has been so much doubt about it that the States have more or less kept out of that field of taxation altogether. There have been some moves in recent years in New South Wales and in Tasmania to try to impose some tax of this kind. But any effort of that sort on the pan of the States may run the risk of being struck down by the High Court.
– The tobacco case did give a considerable opening, though.
– There is an opening, but what 1 am saying is that the States have not been prepared to experiment with these types of taxes because they have had so many failures when cases have been taken to the High Court over the years. Even if there is an opening, it is an opening of a very limited and unsatisfactory character. There are the difficulties of imposing, collecting, etc., such a tax.
– Permit me to say that I am not suggesting other than that.
-I am sure that the honourable senator is not. The point I wish to make essentially is that since 1942 and to a great extent over the whole history of our Federation the Commonwealth has had virtually not only a dominant or substantial control of revenues that are raised in Australia but also almost a virtual monopoly of those revenues. The States have had to survive either on reimbursement grants, in the -shape of the present financial assistance grants, or on special assistance grants such as those that the less populous States have come to know so well, as administered by the Grants Commission, or as they have become more familiarly known particularly under this Government, special purpose grants.
– What about the TAB and those things?
– What portion of the total revenue would be made up by such contributions? Revenue from such sources would represent just a drop in the ocean compared to the taxation revenue available to the Commonwealth Government. The nature of the sharing of revenue in Australia is based on the fact that the Commonwealth Government has virtually a monopoly on raising money and it has in its discretion and by its decision handed back to the States the money it has seen fit to hand back. There has not been any sense of rightful sharing ofthe public revenues. There has been no sense of co-operation or partnership in this arrangement. I believe, and my Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, believes- it has now adopted the principle contained in this motion as its policy and is pledged to implement it when we return to Government- that, if a nation based on cooperative federalism such as existed before we went out of office but which does not exist now is to work, there must be adequate and rightful sharing of revenue. We have selected as one way of doing this the use of the moneys raised by personal income tax because that has been the outstanding field of growth in revenues. If it had not been for the growth in revenues received from personal income tax, the Commonwealth Government itself would not have been able to provide the services and the grants to the States that it has been providing in recent years.
I have here a table which has been prepared by the Statistical Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library and which sets out the figures of total Australian Government revenues, revenues from income tax on individuals, financial assistance grants to the States and total payments to the States during the 10-year period from 1965-66 to the present financial year of 1974-75. The table also shows the percentage increases year by year. The table also shows various revenues and reimbursements to the States and the percentage of total Australian revenue which is reflected in the receipts of income tax and in the returns to the States. The dominant figures show that in 1965-66 the proportion of Australian Government revenue which was raised by personal income tax was 36 per cent. By 1972-73 the proportion had risen to 43 per cent. In 1973-74 it was 45 per cent and in the present financial year it is 5 1 per cent. The percentage increase of revenue from income tax this year over last year is 46.9 per cent. The revenue raised by personal income tax this year is 5 1 per cent of the total Australian Government revenue.
– Is that a projection?
– It is not a projection. This is the figure. The sorry tale- this emphasises the problems of the States- is shown by looking at the percentages of total Australian Government revenue which is returned to the States in the shape of the financial assistance grant. In 1965-66 financial assistance grants to the States comprised 15.8 per cent of total Government revenue. The figure has hovered around 15.8 per cent and 1 6. 1 per cent and reached 1 7.5 per cent in 1970-71. That increase followed a new agreement with the States. The percentage fell back in 1 973-74 to 15.5 per cent and in the current financial year it is only 14.8 per cent. Although there has been a vast increase in the revenue from personal income tax as a proportion of total revenue the proportion of revenue returned to the States in the financial assistance grants has actually fallen since 1965-66. I think the table tells the sorry tale and indicates, clearer than I can, why the States are in the difficulties they are in and why there has to be a Premiers Conference tomorrow to do something for them. I seek leave to incorporate the table in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Milliner)- I shall have a look at it.
– This problem was recognised by the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, when he was Acting Prime Minister last month. He realised that the formula arrangements had not been working properly this year, as indeed they have frequently failed inpast years. When Dr Cairns was Acting Prime Minister in January he indicated that he would be calling the Premiers together. I notice that since the Prime Minister has returned he has started, in his usual form, to denigrate and downgrade the States. He has indicated that the States will not get much out of his Government, despite the rather more favourable attitude which Dr Cairns, as Acting Prime Minister, seemed to be expressing a few weeks ago.
The fact remains that over the years the formulas for financial returns of revenue to the States have been worked out at Premiers Conferences. As I have said, almost as soon as those formulas have been worked out they have broken down. I refer particularly to 1959, 1965 and 1970. The formulas have broken down because essentially they have been based on a backward looking attitude, on what the States might have raised themselves with some supplements for population, increases in wages and so on. The formulas have not had a dynamism about them. They have not had a recognition of the fact that the States are being called upon to provide more and better services, the same as the Commonwealth Government is also being called upon to do. They have not had a proper recognition of the great growth in revenues, particularly those raised by personal income tax. As I have said they have been really in a fossilised condition. They were fossilised back in the period of the early 1 940s. Although the States have been trying to get new formulas, essentially the formulas have been looking backwards. The formulas have not been looking forward and have not been providing for any form of dynamic growth and any reflection of the dynamic growth which has been occurring in the Australian economy over those years.
We are putting forward this proposal as the only way of arriving at any solution to this problem. It would be experimental. We believe it will work. We believe also that modifications and changes may have to be made to it. It is a fundamentally different approach from the one that was tried in the past 30-odd years and which has obviously failed. As I said, the nature of that approach has been that the Commonwealth has all the money and it hands back to the States what it sees fit to give them based on some notions which were virtually fossilised back in 1 942. This situation gives the States no rights of their own in the total revenues which are raised in Australia, despite the fact that the States have been excluded in one case by the Constitution and in another case by policies of the Government and decisions of the High Court from the 2 major sources of public revenue and the 2 sources which would provide the greatest form of growth in public revenue.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTSenator Durack requested that a table prepared by the Statistical Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library be incorporated in Hansard. The skill of the Government Printer will be equal to that task. Is leave granted for the document to be incorporated in Hansard? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:
Did the Minister for Overseas Trade offer the Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Ltd’s plant in Sydney to the People’s Republic of China; if so, will the Minister make a full statement as to why the Government sought this particular type of investment.
– The Minister for Overseas Trade has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
During the Australian Exhibition in Peking representatives of the Leyland Motor Corporation associated with the Leyland exhibit informed the then Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, that they had full power to negotiate with Chinese officials in the sale of cither vehicles or plant. They asked Dr Cairns if he would communicate this to Chinese officials. Dr Cairns did inform Chinese officials, and the Minister for Foreign Trade, Li Chiang. After brief consideration, the Minister informed Dr Cairns that the purchase of vehicles and /or plant from foreign sources was not in accord with China ‘s policy on vehicle manufacturing. Initiative for the offer came from the Leyland officials.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The Minister for Services and Property has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The Minister for Services and Property has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Glass: Tariff on Imports
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, on 28 November 1974, the following question without notice:
My question is directed to the Leader ofthe Government in the Senate and refers to the decision relating to the Industries Assistance Commission’s new approach to 5 items and, in particular, to the recommendation that imports from the Philippines and South Korea should not get developing country preferences. Is the Minister aware that the figures of imports of clear sheet glass for the September quarter this year approximate the imports for the full year 1973-74? ls the Minister considering the revision of the classification of Taiwan as a developing country for the application of duty free access? As the figures for the September quarter imports from Taiwan are similar to those for imports from the Philippines, it would seem consistent that Taiwan should be reviewed as a duty free exporter of glass to Australia if we are to give assistance to the recommencement of clear glass manufacture in Australia.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate passed the question to my colleague, the Minister for Overseas Trade, who provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In its report on glass and glassware, the Industries Assistance Commission recommended that the tariff preference for developing countries be withdrawn in respect of flat glass imports from Taiwan. In supplementary comments on the subject of protection for the manufacture of flat glass in
Australia, the Industries Assistance Commission recommended that tariff preference be withdrawn in respect of imports from the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.
The Ministers for Overseas Trade and Manufacturing Industry announced on 3 December that the tariff preference on flat glass imported from developing countries was being withdrawn. From 1 January 1975, imports of flat glass from developing countries will attract General Tariff rates of duty.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 February 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19750213_senate_29_s63/>.