29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 255 citizens of Australia:
To the honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Parliament should reject the Bill currently before it to establish an Australian Government Insurance Office.
That while there is a need to establish in Australia a Natural Disaster Fund to provide compensation for property damage and other losses resulting from disasters such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones, such a Fund can be established, as in other countries, using the medium of the existing private enterprise insurance offices.
That a plan for such a Fund was submitted to the Treasury in October 1974.
That no reasons for the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office (other than the desire to provide non-commercial disaster insurance and Australian Government competition with private enterprise) have been given by the Government.
That there is already intense competition between the existing 45 life assurance offices and between over 260 general insurance companies now operating in Australia, and that further competition from a Government Office would only be harmful.
That the insurance industry is already faced with
the effects of inflation,
increased taxation on life assurance offices,
the effects of recent natural disasters,
other legislative measures already in train or in prospect by the Government, e.g. the National Compensation Bill, a National Superannuation Plan and improved Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation.
That as taxpayers your petitioners are greatly concerned at the huge costs (far more than the $2 million initial capital and loan funds which it is proposed will be allocated) of establishing an Australian Government Insurance Office.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
-I would like the petition read but as it exceeds 250 words in length I ask that leave be given for the petition to be read by the Clerk.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 7 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
. Lead to the nationalization of the Insurance Industry.
Divert a substantial flow of funds from the private to the public sector.
Depress the private sector still further and create unemployment both within the Insurance Industry and elsewhere.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– The following petitions have been lodged for presentation:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already faced with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Scott, Baume and Sir Kenneth Anderson. (5 petitions).
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees and agents of the Australian insurance industry and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already coping with
Your petioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already faced with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already faced with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
Provide no better plan for the establishment of a National Disaster Fund than that provided by the Insurance Industry in its submission to the Treasury in October 1974.
Cost taxpayers far in excess of the proposed $2 million capital and loan funds.
Permit unfair competition against private enterprise with inevitable losses met by the taxpayers.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
Eliminate private insurance for Australians.
Lead to nationalisation of the private Insurance Industry, acquisition of its assets and thereby a nationalised control of a substantial pan of the private sector of the economy.
Provide no better insurance service to the public than that already provided by the existing 45 Life Offices and 260 General Insurers.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
Permit unfair competition against private enterprise with inevitable losses met by the taxpayer.
Permit the ultimate acquisition by the Government of the assets of private insurers which include substantial interest in the private sector of the economy.
Lead to nationalisation of the private Insurance Industry, acquisition of its assets and thereby a nationalised control of a substantial part of the private sector of the economy.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable The President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned employees and agents of the Australian insurance industry and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already coping with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Melzer.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the insurance industry is already faced with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Bessell.
-My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact, as anticipated yesterday by the Minister for the Media, that Mr Grassby will be granted 2 radio station licences? Is it a fact that he will not be subject to any statutory control as to the substance of the communications he transmits over those stations? Is it a fact that Mr Grassby is the same Mr Grassby who was a Labor Party member of this Parliament, who was formerly a Labor Party member of a State Parliament, who was also a Labor Minister in the former Government and who is currently one of the Government’s best paid propagandists employed at public expense with a job which is designed to popularise the Government? Would not the grant of 2 licences to Mr Grassby without control be simply an example of the Government granting to one of its supporters a privilege from which the Government would benefit? Is this proper?
– As to whether those things are factual, the honourable senator heard the answer given yesterday by Senator Douglas McClelland. I can only say that Senator Douglas McClelland and myself have discussed the question. We intend to make a joint submission to Cabinet in respect of the control of certain stations, but I think I can say that both of us agree that the control should be vested in a committee. That is as much as I should say until the submission has been made to the Government. Senator Young is seeking to interject. I suggest that he wait until I answer the question and then if he wishes he can pursue the matter with Senator Douglas McClelland. To put the matters raised by Senator Greenwood on a factual basis, all I am prepared to say at this stage is that the Minister and I intend to make a submission on this and both of us agree that any such stations should be in the control of a committee.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has he seen an article in the ‘London Times’ of 5 May 1975 concerning the spread of rabies across Europe? Speaking to the Minister as a fellow dog owner I ask him: What information can he give to the Senate on the steps being taken by the Department of Health and other Australian Government instrumentalities to prevent the spread of this deadly virus to Australia?
-As the owner of 2 dogs and a cat I was as concerned as Senator Mulvihill on receiving this information about the spread of rabies and I promptly referred the matter to the Minister for Health who has provided me with an answer which I think does relate to a very important subject of concern. The answer which has been provided by the Minister for Health is to the following effect: The main risk of importing rabies into a country is by the importation of infected dogs, cats and certainundomesticated animals, for examples, monkeys. The following precautions are taken by the Government to prevent the introduction of rabies into Australia: Dogs and cats may be imported only from certain rabies free countries, namely, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Hawaii and Norfolk Island. Animals must have been resident for at least 6 months in these countries, not including any period spent in quarantine kennels. Direct importation from all other countries is prohibited. Apart from importations from New Zealand, a period of quarantine is imposed on all animals coming into Australia.
For importations from the United Kingdom and Ireland the period is 2 to 3 months, depending on whether transportation is by sea or by air. For importations from other approved countries the quarantine period is 9 months. The reason for the shorter quarantine period for animals coming from the United Kingdom and Ireland is that procedures exist in those countries for rapid identification and notification of any cases of rabies that may occur there, thus permitting Australian quarantine requirements to be modified appropriately. Undomesticated rabiessusceptible animals may be imported only by registered zoos, circuses- of which we have seen a number just recently- and approved scientific institutions, and animals remain in permanent quarantine status while in Australia. Dogs, cats and other pets on any ships entering an Australian port must not leave the ship and the master of the ship is required to enter into a bond to this effect. Appropriate quarantine measures similar to the above exist in relation to importation of all other animals which may carry a slight or minimal risk in relation to the introduction of rabies.
I appreciate that this is an important matter. If any honourable senators are aware of any breaches- all of us are concerned, particularly people engaged in agriculture- I would ask them to advise me so that I can pass the information to the Minister for Health. There is serious concern in Europe at the present time about a very alarming spread of rabies. I do not think it is a matter that can be treated too lightheartedly. I will immediately undertake to take action on this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Media. Is it a fact that the Postmaster-General’s Department will collect the licence fees for the 2 new ethnic radio stations to be established in Sydney and Melbourne? Who will supply the transmitting facilities? Is it not a fact that other than in respect of the normal technical standards and operating bands these 2 radio stations will not be under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and not under any control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Following upon the Minister’s answer yesterday, I ask: Will these stations not be under the control of Mr Grassby?
-Any station licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act by my colleague the Postmaster-General is responsible for the payment of a fee to his Department. I think the fee is quite small. Any station licensed under the Broadcasting and Television Act has to pay a fee, based on a percentage of its revenue, to the Broadcasting Control Board. As my colleague the Postmaster-General, Senator Bishop, just mentioned, we have had a discussion and we have decided to make a submission to Cabinet on this matter. On the assumption that these 2 stations are licensed by my colleague, Senator Young has asked who would supply the transmitting facilities. I am given to understand that in Sydney it is proposed that the studios would be provided by the Christian Broadcasting Association and the transmitter by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. In Melbourne it is proposed that the studio be provided by the Media Sound Co. and the transmitter by radio station 3UZ.
It is not correct to say that stations licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act are not under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It always has been the custom and practice for licences issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act to be issued on the condition that the licensee of the station abides by the programming and technical standards laid down by the Broadcasting Control Board. So in that respect it is untrue to say that there is no control over stations of this type.
– I mentioned those two and I qualified them. I said with the exception of those controls.
-There cannot be any exceptions where there is specific control. However, as I said, Senator Bishop and I have had discussions about this matter and we intend making a submission to Cabinet about it.
-I ask the Minister for the Media whether it is true that there has been a considerable increase in the demand by the Australian public for the services of the government bookshops and Publications and Inquiry Centres? If this is true, what steps is the Minister taking to augment these services? Will these steps involve extending the centres to country areas?
– Yes. The answer to the honourable senator’s question briefly is that there has been a great public response to the Government’s action in establishing Australian Government bookshops and inquiry centres in each of the capital cities throughout Australia. I speak subject to recollection, but the figures that I call to mind are that when the inquiry centres were established it was estimated that in the first year there would be some 100 000 inquiries. The fact is that in the last 12 months inquiries have been averaging about 300 000 a year. So in that respect there has been a great demand on the part of the public for a service of this nature.
Secondly, I can tell the honourable senator that sales of Australian Government books or publications have doubled, or nearly doubled, in the last 12 months. I think that last year nearly $ 1 m worth of publications were sold. The advice given to me by my Department is that, with very little increase in staff, sales of Government publications this year will probably exceed the $2m mark. With regard to the extension of the service to regional centres, a number of centres are contemplated but, as honourable senators would know, particularly Senator Cleaver Bunton, I shall be visiting Albury tomorrow to open the first regional Australian Government bookshop and inquiry centre in that area.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security inform the Senate whether it is correct that the Department of Social Security has purchased a computer for the administration of the Medibank scheme? If so, when was the computer purchased and for what price was it purchased? Were tenders called? If so, how many tenders were received?
-Senator Marriott was good enough to let me know that he intended to ask this question this morning, and I have obtained an answer from the Minister for Social Security. It is a fact that an IBM 370/168 computer was purchased by the Department of Social Security for the following purposes: The development of the Medibank data processing system; the central development and maintenance of the social security benefits data processing systems operating on State based computers; the processing of health insurance statistics relating to the existing scheme; the processing of statistical analysis of social security benefits; the evaluation, development and maintenance of special and general purpose software to support all departmental computer systems; the development of management information systems and for assistance to other departments in Canberra requiring access to computer facilities.
The computer was purchased in May 1974, that is a year ago, at a cost of $5,081,905.40. Open tenders were not called for the supply of the computer. The order was placed with IBM Australia on the basis of a certificate of inexpediency issued under Treasury regulations by the Australian Government Stores and Tender Board.
– Will the Minister for the Media inform the Senate of the number of wire services monitoring international news which are available to subscribers in Australia? Will the Minister indicate the countries of origin and, where relevant, the companies controlling such services and those which are actually subscribed to by the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Will the Minister also indicate whether censorship can occur on the monitoring of such news to the public by such countries and companies controlling such wire services and by the companies or corporations subscribing to them?
– I ask the honourable senator to place the question on notice.
-Is the Minister for the Media aware of the widespread concern being expressed at the news of the possible abolition of the department of religious broadcasting of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Has his attention been drawn to articles appearing in the religious Press relating to this report? I ask the Minister whether it is proposed to abolish the department of religious broadcasting? Will the Minister make a full statement on this report as soon as possible?
– I am not aware of any widespread concern, as has been suggested by Senator Davidson in his question. Recently I received a letter from a reverend gentleman- I think from recollection it was a bishop- saying that he had heard it rumoured that it was intended by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to do away with its religious broadcasting section. Nothing of that nature has been reported to me and therefore I assume that there is no substance in the report. However, I have sought the views of Professor Downing, the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and when Professor Downing has given me those views I shall in turn transmit them to Senator Davidson.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Manufacturing Industry been drawn to a story on the front page of today’s ‘Australian’ containing this statement:
The Federal Government will tell the Prices Justification Tribunal that a substantial price rise for BHP is justified to sustain a strong level of private investment.
Can the Minister state whether this accurately represents the substance of the submission which the Government will put to the Prices Justification Tribunal concerning the application of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd for a 14 per cent price rise?
-Yes, I have read the story on the front page of the ‘Australian ‘. Honourable senators will note that if it is read carefully it is apparent that the writer of the story had no knowledge of the contents of any document containing the submissions which the Government will put to the Prices Justification Tribunal but that he has merely extrapolated from a letter written by the Prime Minister to the Prices Justification Tribunal on 12 November last and from remarks made in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Treasurer on the general question of the profitability of companies. The precise details of the Government’s submission will be known to honourable senators and the public generally, I hope, within the next few days because it is expected that counsel representing the Australian Government will be called on within that time. I think I should confine myself at this stage to saying that the submission does not go beyond suggesting to the Tribunal a general approach which it might make when applications are made for a rise in prices based on the desirability of maintaining profitability. The Government regards this as a most important case and it wants to give all the assistance that it can to the Tribunal in reaching a proper decision. In addition to the general submissions indicating the approach which the Government believes the Tribunal should take, it also places before the Tribunal certain factual material which is probably available only to the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. What arrangements have been made to obtain from the Minister for Social Security an answer to the question I asked a month ago concerning the Department of Social Security’s examination of benefits for single supporting fathers and requesting an indication of when a specific announcement would be made on this subject? Will the Minister undertake to expedite answers to questions on this subject- questions which have been asked over a period now approaching 10 months?
– I have referred the matter to the Minister for Social Security and I do not doubt that he is conferring with his departmental officers about it. However, I shall draw the matter to his attention again and I trust that there will be an early answer to this question which I realise has concerned Senator Martin and a great many other people for quite some considerable time. I think it would need to be borne in mind, however, that it is most likely that if anything is to be done in relation to this matter it may have to be done within the context of the next Budget, so it may well not be until later in this year that any firm announcement on the subject can be made.
-Is the Minister for the Media aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has discontinuted the popular Radio 3 program ‘Sunday Morning Concert’ with Ralph Collins? Can the Minister explain why the ABC has taken this action which deprives country listeners of this popular program?
– I have received a number of representations from senators and members on behalf of country constituents, expressing concern at the removal by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of the program to which the honourable senator has referred. I emphasise again that it is Government policy that the Government guarantee to the ABC political and programming independence. Having said that, I say that I discussed the matter with the Assistant General Manager (Radio) of the ABC, Mr McKriell and I have been told that the Commission has decided that the Ralph Collins ‘Sunday Morning Concert’ should be replaced by a program for children, because the Commission had been concerned for some time at the lack of support for its week-day children’s programs. A newly designed children ‘s program was therefore scheduled for Sunday morning at a time at which it would be more convenient for young people to listen. However, it has also been decided that in order not to deprive country listeners of a program of fine music on Sunday mornings an hour-long program especially prepared by Ralph Collins, will be broadcast between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. from Radio 3 stations, beginning on Sunday, 1 June.
-Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General say when he expects to be in a position to make an announcement of the appointment of the judicial committee to inquire into the disqualification sections of the Constitution resolved on by the Senate?
– I will take up the matter again with the Attorney-General and let the honourable senator have a reply.
– Is the Minister for Manufacturing Industry aware that many farmers are experiencing great difficulty in obtaining spare parts for tractors and that, owing to the long delay between ordering time and delivery date, some farmers have been forced to purchase new tractors in order to complete their seeding for the coming season? Will the Minister inquire into this serious problem with a view to providing a solution?
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. What commission will be paid by the Australian Government for the negotiations undertaken in regard to the $2,000m loan for which Executive Council approval was granted to the Minister for Minerals and Energy, which approval the Prime Minister now states has been revoked? To whom will the commission be paid? Under what head of expenditure will the commission be paid?
– The question involves the details of the terms under which the original authority was granted, and I will need to refer the question to the Treasurer to obtain the reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is the Minister aware that 2 separate groups of Aboriginals were refused interviews at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs State office at North Sydney on Thursday, 10 May 1975 and, in fact, had the office door locked against them? Can the Minister provide an explanation for the incident? Is the Minister of the opinion that such incidents may be caused by an air of isolation between Aboriginals and the Department because of the location of the office? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of relocating the office in an area more readily accessible for Aboriginals, for example, the Redfern district?
-I know nothing of the circumstances of the case. I did not know that 2 groups were refused admission and that the doors were locked against them. I know that we have had sit-ins and so on in offices of my Department. There has been an occasion when it has been necessary to take some action. I cannot see how the location of the office would have any bearing upon whether those attending the office would be seen. I shall look into the question to obtain some details and make them available to the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to investigations that have been carried out over a number of years by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning the possibility of providing television facilities to serve Leigh Creek in South Australia. Is it correct that the Minister last week in answer to a question indicated that the installation costs would be very heavy in that area compared to more populous areas? If it is correct, can the Minister give the cost of such an installation? Can he also give any comparative costs to install a local video-tape type service similar to those provided by private companies in other mining areas remote from the capital cities? Has the Minister considered approaching the South Australian Electricity Trust concerning the possibility of its assisting the financing of such a facility? Could a facility of that type be used as a relay station in the event of a satellite television service being provided to Australia?
– I think I replied to Senator McLaren last week on the question of Leigh Creek and pointed out that as a result of representations that I had received from him I had had discussions with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Broadcasting Control Board had had a conference with officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department and with officers of the South Australian Electricity Trust which, I understand, draws coal from the Leigh Creek area. I speak subject to recollection but I understand that the question of the South Australian Electricity Trust’s being invited to contribute in some part towards the cost of the proposed installation of television at Leigh Creek was taken up by the Board with that organisation. Suffice for me to say at this stage that I have now made representations to my colleague the Minister for Social Security to see whether it is at all possible for any assistance to be given for such a project under the Australian Assistance Plan. I am not optimistic of the outcome but at least I am trying to do all that I can to provide this amenity to the people at Leigh Creek.
The honourable senator asked me about comparative costs. The undertaking that had been given by the previous Government concerning the provision of television services in remote areas- and which has been adhered to by this Government- was that the Government would be responsible for meeting the cost up to an amount of about $45 a head. In the case of Leigh Creek- again I emphasise that I speak purely from recollection- the estimated cost of providing a service to citizens would be about $300 a head as compared with the norm of $45 a head. It was felt by those who are responsible economically for the development of the nation’s television and radio resources that such a figure was out of the question. I think that there could well be every prospect of establishing a video centre but if the honourable senator looks at the Broadcasting and Television Act I think he will find that that necessarily would be the responsibility of the South Australian Electricity Trust making application for a licence. As to whether such a centre could operate if a satellite were put up, that is beyond my technical capacity to answer at this stage.
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration to a recent statement of the Victorian Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr Rafferty, who said that the Australian Government’s national apprenticeship assistance scheme had been unsuccessful in creating employment opportunities for apprentices. Has the Minister any information to clarify this statement?
-I think it is well known now that the Australian Government decided to take more than its quota of apprentices into its departments. That action has been taken. In addition it consulted all the States to endeavour to get them to do the same thing, and I understand that the States generally have agreed. They have been co-operative. There is provision also under the National Employment and Training Scheme to ensure that any apprentices who might be subject to redundancy should keep their jobs. I refer Senator Brown to a statement by the New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, a colleague of Mr Rafferty. He said that it is remarkable that the intake, which he describes as the highest February total on record, should have occurred during a period of high unemployment. The honourable senator might recall also that we have recently increased the subsidies available to employers so that they would take the maximum number of apprentices.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture. Is it a fact that the Government is considering not to proceed with the setting up of the proposed overseas quarantine station on Cocos Islands? Is it also a fact that the Prime Minister intervened after the Public Works Committee had inspected the site and recommended the proposal? In view of the great need to upgrade the herds in northern Australia, not only with stud cattle but with semen, will the Minister advise when a quarantine station will be commenced? If it is to be delayed, why and for how long?
-The establishment of the quarantine station has been under discussion and consideration now for 18 months or more. As I indicated on Tuesday in answer to a question on this subject, there have been problems because the setting up of the station involves a number of departments and a number of considerations. The Department of Health has the final responsibility in making a recommendation to the Government. The Public Works Committee has recommended Cocos Islands. This matter is still under consideration.
– There would have to be a reference by some department.
– There would need to be a reference. I thought I had indicated that. At present the recommendation of the Public Works Committee is being considered. I am certainly not aware of the Prime Minister having issued any directions in respect of it. I doubt very much that he would have at this stage.
-Has the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation seen reports in several daily newspapers this morning of statements attributed to Sir Vincent Fairfax that there ought to be a truce in the debate on the proposed Australian Government Insurance Corporation? Has Sir Vincent consulted the Minister at any time concerning the establishment of an AGIC? Have Sir Vincent’s views on the proposed truce been communicated to the Minister personally? Does a truce mean that the insurance companies’ hysterical campaign against the AGIC in public rallies, public misstatements about the AGIC and other parts of the campaign to discredit the Government will cease forthwith as part of the proposed truce?
-Yes, I have seen the statement attributed to Sir Vincent Fairfax. After some of the flops at which he has been present lately, I do not wonder that he wants a truce. I do not know what he actually means by a truce. I think he probably means that if we drop the Bill he will stop campaigning against it. That is not the sort of truce which I am prepared to accept. I notice that he was reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’- I should imagine no one would have a closer association with the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ than Sir Vincent Fairfax has- as saying:
The debates in Parliament and through the media have become overheated by protestations, accusations and threats by the Government and some over-reaction and a few impulsive, defensive side swipes by the insurers.
I was a little intrigued at his chronology of events. I had thought that one might have said in all justice and accuracy that the reverse had been the case- that the hysteria had come from another source and that there had been just a few sideswipes from the Government of an understandable and a very accurate nature.
In answer to the question of what Sir Vincent Fairfax actually means by a truce, I am afraid I do not know. Sir Vincent has not communicated his remarks to me. Apparently he made them at a rather turbulent meeting of policy holders of the AMP Society which was held in Sydney yesterday. In fact, only a little over a week ago, when I agreed on a Sunday afternoon to meet representatives of the insurance offices, the representatives of the general insurance companies turned up in order to discuss with me amendments to the Bill, but nobody from any of the life offices turned up at all. So I will be interested to learn from Sir Vincent Fairfax, if he wants a truce, what the terms are. I suppose that if I see a white flag in Parkes Place I will know that it is Sir Vincent Fairfax about to approach me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I refer him to page 8 of the booklet Medibank and You’ which states:
Patients should be aware, however, that by asking doctors to agree to this method -
I interpolate that that is the assignment of billing - they are not in any way seeking a concession.
Will the Minister agree that whenever doctors reduce fees to 85 per cent of the scheduled fee a concession is being given? Will he also agree that whenever a doctor is asked to accept assignment of benefits for 85 per cent of the scheduled fee a concession is being sought? Is it not more just to acknowledge that the operation of the Medibank scheme envisaged by the Government will involve a combination of government funding and a concession in fees by doctors?
-Certainly once Medibank becomes operative those doctors who bulk bill will, in conjunction with the Government, be providing a concession to those persons who make use of the medical services and are obtaining them free and not paying the additional 15 per cent. I am not quite sure what point Senator Baume is trying to make because the Government has made it quite clear that if a doctor does not wish to bulk bill he does not have to bulk bill and it is up to him to decide what he will do. I should imagine that the experience in similar practices overseas would be repeated here. It could well be that doctors will find it most convenient to bulk bill because the 15 per cent reduction in their charges may be more than compensated for by the savings which they would make in bookkeeping expenses, accounting and the various problems which they and other privately practising professional people have experienced in the collection of debts.
If you say to somebody ‘If we guarantee the payment of 85 per cent of your fee without your having to go through any rigmarole of billing people’ I suppose it is a matter of terminology whether or not you are granting that person a concession or giving him a benefit. I certainly recall that when I was in practice as a lawyer I would have been very happy to be able to bulk bill somebody for 85 per cent of my bills of costs. I think that I would have been doing considerably better than I was doing when I was in practice. I do not know whether it is a concession. If the doctors, like Senator Baume, believe that there is a concession involved in this and that some unreasonable burdens are being imposed, there is nothing to prevent them from refusing to bulk bill and engaging in the other procedures which they are entitled to adopt under the legislation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Minister will have seen the brief report in yesterday’s Press referring to the continuing shocking loss of life due to the famine in Ethiopia. Can he advise the Senate of the steps being taken by this Government at this time to assist the victims of the drought in Ethiopia and in other countries in the Sahelian region?
-The latest information I have on this matter is that a shipment of 7000 tonnes of wheat arrived in Dakar, Senegal, in March for distribution in 3 of the Sahelian zone countries affected by drought. Senegal received 1000 tonnes, Mali received 2000 tonnes and Mauritania received 4000 tonnes in accordance with the recommendations by the Food and Agriculture Organisation Office for Sahelian Relief Operations, known as OSRO. The distribution of the wheat and its use will be supervised by United Nations development program representatives resident in those countries. The Australian Government is considering a further cash contribution to OSRO for the purchase of high protein foodstuffs. Longer term rehabilitation projects are also being considered. The Somalia Government has declared a state of emergency because of the current drought in Somalia and appeals for urgent provision of food, cash donations and other supplies have been made by the United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation.
A gift of 2 tonnes of clarified butter, known as ghee, will be shipped within the next week and 4000 tonnes of wheat will be shipped in June and July. In Ethiopia the purchase of 6000 tonnes of excess local maize is now complete. This will be used for free distribution to food deficit areas by the Ethiopian Famine Relief Commission and part will be used to establish food security stocks, as recommended by the FAO. A further 40 tonnes of full cream milk powder will be shipped in the next few weeks. In 1974, 4000 tonnes of Australian wheat were shipped to Ethiopia after 12 tonnes of protein enriched milk biscuits had been air freighted to Ethiopia in 1973. The drought also affected Tanzania and the Sudan. The Sudan has since suffered crop losses because of flooding in the south. Ten thousand tonnes of wheat for Tanzania and 5000 tonnes of wheat for the Sudan will be shipped in May and June.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to an article written by Denis Warner which appeared in yesterday’s ‘Herald ‘ under the caption ‘A Flotilla of Shame Heading Our Way’. In the article reference is made to a number of boats carrying Vietnamese refugees proceeding from Singapore to Australia. It is reported that the Singaporean Government provided food and repairs and an escort to beyond the pirates’ lairs in the South China Seas and then left the flotilla to its own devices. The report says further that no one knows whether the flotilla will get to Australia and no one seems to care. I ask: Has any action been taken by this Government in respect of this matter? Has it sought to locate the boats? What plans has the Government to facilitate the arrival and acceptance of the refugees in Australia?
– I have just glanced at the article headed ‘A Flotilla of Shame’, which is written by Denis Warner. He puts a very positive and definite point of view which, as always, is a one-eyed point of view.
– Three weeks ago he was predicting a victory for the Saigon Government.
– He has taken a very definite line and has expressed anti-Government views for a long time. I think one ought to regard this article as a view through fairly biased eyes.
– Is it true or not?
– It is absolutely true that he is biased. There is no shadow of doubt about that. With regard to the ships that were in Singapore harbour, they sailed quite some time ago and I would think that if they were going to reach Australia’s shores they would have been here by now. As I understand it, the usual surveillances did not indicate that they were coming to Australia but were moving across to Subic Bay and Guam. I do not think there is very much sense in doing anything about them arriving if we have heard no suggestion that they will arrive. If they did arrive on our shores we would examine the situation.
-Has the Minister for Manufacturing Industry seen Press reports of a speech by the Queensland President of the Institute of Surveyors, Mr K. Davies, to the effect that there is confusion and demoralisation in Australia’s small business sector and that discrimination against small enterprises is rife in Australia? Is there any factual basis for those statements? If so, does the Minister intend to do anything about it?
-Yes, my attention has been drawn to the remarks referred to by the honourable senator. The Government, of course, is very much aware that most of the business enterprises in this country are small. I suppose it all depends on your definition of small’, but the Government took as a reasonable cut off point the employment of 100 persons. It is undoubtedly true that business enterprises in Australia in that category account for a great deal of the business activity in the country, and that the small business sector plays a vital role in the economy. The Government also acknowledges that small businesses face special problems because of their size. Because of these special problems, the Government has taken the initiative to set up the National Small Business Bureau which is paying special attention to the problems and needs of small businesses, including such areas as the adequacy of finance facilities available to them.
In this regard, it is interesting to recall that the previous Government, we assume, was also aware of the problems of small business because as long ago as 1968 the Liberal-Country Party Government decided to set up a committee of experts to report on the matter. That report was completed and dated June 1971 but was not published, issued, presented to Parliament or made available for discussion by the previous Government between then and when it went out of office at the end of 1 972. Recently I opened the first 2 regional offices of the Small Business Bureau in Sydney and Perth. They are pilot propositions. The Government intends to see how their services are availed of, and if there appears to be an adequate demand for their services they will be extended to other vital centres throughout the country. Recent inquiries I made indicate that there has been a very promising response to the setting up of these facilities and that their advice and counsel is being availed of by a large number of small businessmen.
The Government also recognises that there is discrimination against small firms. To help counter this discrimination we initiated measures in the Trade Practices Act to prohibit price discrimination. The Government is confident that the small businessman does not want to be treated as a privileged or preferred sector or to be subsidised. He wants a fair go which will enable him to perform adequately his vital role in the economic system, and this Government has acted to see that he gets a fair go.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Will the Minister cause an investigation to be made into the cause of the delay, now approaching some 12 months, in the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office in Hobart advising the Health Department in relation to certain matters involving some five chemists in northern Tasmania who are alleged to be possibly in breach of the health regulations. This delay has imposed substantial hardship on those chemists, who have had prescription records seized and payments for large quantities of pharmaceuticals deferred by the Department. Will the Minister investigate? Is it not a fact that justice delayed is justice denied?
– In answer to the last part of the honourable senator’s question, I readily assent to the proposition that justice delayed is justice denied. As to whether it has been delayed in this case, I am not sufficiently informed of the facts to be able to tell him. However, I will make inquiries of the Minister involved and let the honourable senator have a reply as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. Can the Minister give the Senate an indication, based upon interviews conducted by his Department, of the number of claims for compensation in Darwin that will be made? Further, is it possible, as a result of the information gained from claimants, to determine whether the guidelines for compensation have been reasonably followed? When will the payments be made?
-Senator Walsh did let me know that he would be asking this question, and I think it is something that does require a detailed answer. So far, officers of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation have conducted some 8270 interviews for claims for compensation for damage to households and 1073 interviews with people who are claiming compensation for damage to business premises and material. The Department estimates that there are still about 2600 household claims and about 500 business claims which are yet to be lodged. Of the claims which have been made, 1 176 have already been settled and the value of these claims amounts to $1.5m. It is fortunate that the Darwin Cyclone Damage Compensation Bill was not delayed in the Senate. It is now in the House of Representatives and it should no doubt be dealt with very promptly there. Many of the claims which have been received are for amounts which far exceed the guidelines which were outlined by me in introducing the Bill and they also exceed what I think anybody on either side of the Senate would think that the Government could reasonably be expected to pay. In these cases the initial compensation payments will be accompanied by an explanation as to why we are not paying the full amount claimed and they will be subject to a later review.
Many claims have been made on the basis of replacement or repair cost.
Compensation is not paid on this basis but on the market value of the property as at the date of its destruction or damage, a point which I must say is not always entirely easy either for me or for insurance companies to explain to their customers or the claimants. Several thousand claims are awaiting valuation by the Taxation Office, motor vehicle valuers and other experts in this field and work is progressing in these areas. It is obviously limited by the resources that are available in Darwin because naturally one of the consequences of the cyclone in Darwin is that the number of people there available to assess the damage that was done by the cyclone has been reduced.
– My question to the PostmasterGeneral follows on an answer which he gave to Senator Greenwood and also an answer given by Senator Douglas McClelland regarding a proposal by the Postmaster-General to issue licences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act to some unknown committee, with which Mr Grassby seems to have some association, to conduct radio stations in Sydney and Melbourne. I ask: Is it not a fact that licences for broadcasting stations should be granted through the Broadcasting Control Board under the Broadcasting and Television Act? Is not this proposal which is apparently being put to the Cabinet by him and the Minister for the Media a method of circumventing the provisions of that Act? Has the Minister obtained any legal opinion as to whether this whole scheme is a lawful one?
– The answer is of course that under the Broadcasting and Television Act there is power to grant licences for commercial stations. Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, which is at present controlled by me, I have power to issue a licence which would include all systems of transmitting and receiving telegraphic and telephonic messages where there is no continuous connection, and so on. As to the general question, both I and the Minister for the Media have already answered what is proposed to be done in relation to the matter which has been raised concerning Mr Grassby ‘s interest in the 2 new ethnic stations. We have said that we intend to make a submission to the Cabinet. I have said, and Senator Douglas McClelland agrees with me, that the new stations ought to be controlled by committees. Until the Government has considered the submission and has made an announcement I do not think it would be proper for me to give any more information.
-Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs seen the statement attributed to Mr Peter Studer, the leading Swiss foreign correspondent, that this country no longer has any discriminatory laws on its statute book? Is this statement accurate, considering the presence of the unchanged Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Act?
– I have seen the statement but I do not think it could be described as an accurate one. Obviously the author does not know the position in Queensland. We have no discriminating laws in Australia other than in Queensland. In South Australia we have a law which makes it an offence to discriminate on the score of race or creed. We hope to have a law through the Commonwealth Parliament which will supersede State laws and make it an offence throughout Australia to discriminate on the ground of race, religion or ethnic origin. It is a fact that there is this discrimination law in Queensland. I am sure that the legislation on our notice paper- the Bill that has been through the Senate and the House of Representatives and now has been returned to the Senate with some proposed amendments- will overcome the discrimination that now applies to Aborigines on settlements in Queensland.
– My question to the Minister for Agriculture relates to the situation at Togari which is a soldier settlement area in the far north-west of Tasmania. In January that area was badly affected by flood waters and now it is again troubled in the same way. Has any request been made to the Government recently, in any way, for finance to assist in snagging and widening the Montague River which in times of heavy rain is incapable of carrying the water away from the Togari area, due in part to drainage creating a very much more rapid run-off?
– I am not aware of any approach by settlers at Togari. I would assume that if such an approach were to be made it would be made firstly to the Tasmania Government.
– It has been made many times over the years.
-That could well be but I do not know of it. This is the first time that I have been aware of it. If a fresh approach has been made I will certainly investigate the situation. I would assume that it would be made firstly through the Agricultural Bank, the agency which operates for the Federal Government in respect of soldier settler schemes. I can only inquire and find out what I can.
– Is the Minister for Manufacturing Industry aware of reports of the increased volume of cars sold last month? Is he able to confirm that this represents an increase of more than 13 000 over sales in April 1974 and a substantial increase over the previous month’s sales? Does the Government note that these increased sales arise solely as a result of the reduction in taxation and restriction of imports by the Government in order to maintain full employment in the motor vehicle industry? Having regard to the multinational character of the motor car industry and its mammoth profitability, would it not follow that the companies, in the interests of sales, stability and profitability, would achieve their objectives and full employment if they reduced the prices of their cars instead of expecting the Australian taxpayer to subsidise continuously the motor car industry?
Senator Rae; What does the Prices Justification Tribunal say?
-The Prices Justification Tribunal granted some rises. I do not know the precise figures relating to the increase in sales but I know they are of the order mentioned by Senator Gietzelt. I also know that it has been acknowledged by the manufacturers and the dealers that this improvement in sales, this moving of the accumulated stocks, is due entirely to the measures taken by the Australian Government. By the way, it is curious in this regard to note that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, which has been mentioned in other contexts here today, assailed these measures as amounting to a denial to the consumer of the right to have a car of his choice and at the same time complained about the possibility of unemployment in the motor car manufacturing industry.
As to the question of the price of cars, on the occasions when I have raised this matter with the manufacturers, with whom I am in constant contact, I have always been met with the rejoinder that increases in costs prevent them from making any reduction in prices. As the Government has no access to the books of those companies or of their parents, I have no way of testing the accuracy of these assertions.
-On Tuesday, 20 May, Senator Rae directed a question to me as Minister representing the Minister for Defence relating to the announcement which the Minister had made about consideration being given to a logistic supply ship and whether this was in any way different from what had been announced in 1 970 by Mr Malcolm Fraser when he was Minister for Defence. I refer the honourable senator to the statement which the present Minister made in another place on 23 April, as follows:
In the maritime transport area Australia has not possessed for very many years a service operated vessel with an overthebeach capability to provide for the ocean transportation of heavy military cargoes and any necessary force to undeveloped landing areas. I expect to make a decision soon on the construction of such a ship.
I understand from the Minister that the proposed ship is very different from the one which Mr Fraser referred to on 10 March 1970, but about which the Government at that time did absolutely nothing except to set up a committee which had not reported to Mr Fraser, Mr Gorton, or Mr Fairbairn, who followed in quick succession as Ministers for Defence. The announcement by the Minister about the construction of the ship is an example of the Government’s action to take positive decisions in relation to defence procurement.
Senator Rae further asked the difference in equipment between the Nimrod and the Orion, which are being considered for replacement of our Neptune long range maritime patrol aircraft. I wish to inform the honourable senator that, despite what he has read in the Press, the Minister has not accepted either proposal as yet. The Minister announced in November last that he would be making a choice between these 2 competitors, and service personnel have been involved since that time in evaluation of the 2 aircraft. As I assured the Senate on Tuesday, no decision has been made. An announcement will be made by the Minister in the near future.
– On behalf of the Minister of Education and for the information of honourable senators I present a report on the National Seminar for Teacher Educators, held at Macquarie University, New South Wales during the period 28 to 31 August 1974, entitled ‘The Multi-Cultural Society’.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table a statement concerning my recent visit to India to attend the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Meeting and my visit to London for the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting on Food Production and Rural Development.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Interim Committee on the National Estate dated May 1975.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
-On behalf of Senator Devitt who is unavoidably absent because of illness, and at his request, I seek leave to make a statement in relation to this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The notice of motion for the disallowance of the amendment of the Apple and Pear (Conditions of Export) Regulations was given on behalf of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. Following the passage of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation Act 1 973, the exporters in the apple and pear industry were given a clear undertaking that export licences would be issued for a term of 3 years, and they based their planning upon that undertaking. The principal regulations under the Act, which were gazetted on 2 September 1 974, fulfilled the undertaking by providing for licences to be issued for 3 years. Subsequently, during September and October 1974, the Apple and Pear Corporation met for the first time and considered the export strategy of the industry, which the Corporation is empowered to consider. Virtually without any warning to the industry, the Corporation decided that licences ought to be issued for one year only, and that decision was put into effect by an amendment of the regulations.
The Committee considered that this amendment violated a substantive right of exporters, a right which was conferred by the principal regulations, even though no licences had been issued before the amendment. It was put to the Committee by the Corporation that the Corporation had not had time to formulate its plans and needed the limitation of licences during this year in order to do so. It appeared to the Committee, however, that the amendment severely disrupted the plans of exporters and had put an element of uncertainty into the industry which did not apply before.
The Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) yesterday wrote to the Committee and stated that, if the Committee considered that the amendment to the regulations ought to be repealed, he would accede to the Committee’s view and introduce a 3-year period of export licence for current licence holders. The Committee has accepted that undertaking to repeal the regulations and accordingly, on behalf of Senator Devitt and at his request, I withdraw Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 1. The Committee has asked the Minister to carry out the undertaking to repeal the amendment of the regulations as soon as possible. I would like to thank the Minister for his co-operation in relation to this matter.
Motion (by Senator Wood) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 2, standing in the name of Senator Devitt, be postponed until 3 sitting days after today.
– I move:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of South Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs A. J. Walsh, G. H. Campbell-Kennedy and F. W. Summers, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 15th day of April 1975, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.
The Government, having considered the report by the Distribution Commissioners for the State of South Australia, as tabled in this House on 15 April 1975 pursuant to section 23A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1973, together with suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Distribution Commissioners, now recommends approval of the Distribution Commissioners’ proposals. In the following remarks, I shall be placing in their proper context not only the redistribution proposals for South Australia, but also those relating to the other States concerned, since the Government intends also to move very shortly for approval of the proposals relating to Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, which have also been tabled in this chamber.
Prior to the amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act last year, Distribution Commissioners were permitted to draw divisional boundaries that could result in enrolments for divisions being up to 20 per cent above or below the quota applying to the State. Since the 1968 redistribution, which observed the previous guidelines, the consequent inequalities in enrolments have progressively worsened as a result of trends in population growth within each of the four most heavily populated States. We now have a clearly unjust and indefensible situation in each of these States, with some electorates having current enrolments which are approximately double those of other electorates. For example, as at 25 April 1975, enrolments for divisions in New South Wales varied from 83 941 in Mitchell to 46 975 in Darling; in Victoria, from 87 522, Diamond Valley, to 49 200, Wimmera; in Queensland from 94 024, Mcpherson to 46 456, Maranoa; in South Australia, from 83 388, Bonython to 49 561, Wakefield. In no less than 52 of the 109 electorates in these States the enrolments vary from the quota by over 10 per cent- a situation which is clearly unjust and which must be righted as soon as possible.
The Government does not agree with all proposals of the Distribution Commissioners, but it believes the Commissioners to be men of competence and integrity who have performed their difficult duties with complete impartiality. In the Government’s view, there is no reason why the Liberal Party should not support a speedy adjustment of the inequitable situation which I have just outlined, since the existing boundaries discriminate against the party in most States. This point is worth stressing, given the frequent assertions which have been made by Country Party spokesmen to the effect that the percentage of seats won by the Government and Opposition in recent elections has accurately reflected the number of votes polled. Such assertions obscure the degree to which present disparities as between divisional enrolments within each State have assisted the Country Party.
For example, at the 1972 House of Representatives elections the Country Party polled 9.44 per cent of the votes, yet was able to win 16 per cent of the seats. Again, to express the anomaly in another way, at the 1974 House of Representatives elections the average enrolment of the 66 electorates won by the Australian Labor Party was 63 458, while for the 40 electorates won by the Liberal Party the average enrolment was 64 045. Yet for the 21 electorates won by the Country Party the average enrolment was only 54 708. It is therefore understandable that the Country Party should regard this situation as highly satisfactory, but there is no reason for any Government committed to the elimination of electoral inequalities and anomalies to share this satisfaction with the ‘ status quo ‘.
While taking this opportunity to reiterate the Government’s determination to uphold the principle of one vote one value, I also remind honourable members that under the Act as amended it remains possible for the Distribution Commissioners to fix the boundaries for divisions in a way which would result in enrolments varying from the State quota by up to 10 per cent, that is to say, an overall variation of up to 20 per cent. The degree to which the Distribution Commissioners choose to exercise this discretionary power is left entirely to their independent judgment. The Government believes that , in the case of the Distribution Commissioners for South Australia- and, indeed, for the other States also- that judgment was exercised with the utmost competence.
Let me now indicate some major features of the South Australian redistribution proposals in particular, in order to demonstrate that these proposals are unquestionably fair and reasonable. Under the proposals presented by the Distribution Commissioners for South Australia, all 12 existing divisions have been retained in name, although boundary alterations are proposed in every case. It is proposed that 2 of the existing divisions, Adelaide and Hindmarsh, should retain all their existing electors but should also take in additional electors from other divisions. Each of the other 10 proposed divisions takes in a substantial majority of the electors currently enrolled in those divisions.
The proposals make a significant reduction to the overall range of percentage variations from the quota. Thus taking enrolments as at December 1974, on which the proposals were based, percentage variations from the quota for existing divisions range from 21.88 per cent below quota for the Wakefield division to 29.65 per cent above quota for Bonython division. Furthermore, 2 other existing divisions, Angas and Kingston, also currently vary from the quota by over 10 percent.
Under the proposals now before the House, the size of variations from the quota would be substantially reduced. The maximum enrolment proposed is 68 372, or 8.74 per cent above quota, for the division of Adelaide, while the minimum proposed enrolment is 57 015, or 9.32 per cent below quota, for the division of Kingston. Apart from the divisions of Adelaide and Kingston, proposed variations from the quota for the remaining 10 divisions range from 6.66 per cent above for the division of Hawker to 9.02 per cent below for the division of Bonython. The need for a redistribution is exemplified by the projected enrolments as at May 1977, the approximate date of the next Federal election, which show that compared with the enrolments as at 25 April 1974 the following changes will take place: Bonython, 83 388, will increase to 90 000; Kingston, 72 830, will increase to 78 000; and Sturt, 69 0 1 1 , will increase to 72 000.
To sum up, the Government is quite satisfied that the proposed boundaries for South Australia demonstrably promote the objective of electoral equality to a far greater degree than do the existing boundaries in that State. I move:
I ask for the leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard the latest enrolment figures available for all divisions as at 25 April 1975 in South Australia as provided by the Chief Australian Electoral Officer.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
DIVISIONAL ENROLMENTS FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA AS AT 25 APRIL 1975
– I indicate in opening that I speak not only on behalf of the Liberal Party but also on behalf of the Opposition generally. I indicate that we will vote against the motion proposed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee). I will make some generalised remarks before I refer to South Australia, as did Senator Willesee. I think it is rather unfortunate that there should have been an attempt within the speech of Senator Willesee, who is but representing in this place his colleague the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), to force a division between my Party and that of our friends and allies the National Country Party.
– Especially in Western Australia.
-Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Senator Hall is that he was such a political genius in his State that he had a redistribution which was unfavourable to himself and then had an election, 12 months before it was needed, on a non-issue which he could not win. Therefore his political judgment is such that it does not leave room for him to criticise others.
Let us talk about the Federal redistribution. The general allegation made by the Government, of course, is that these proposed boundaries are good for the Liberal Party but because of pressure from the National Country Party we will vote against the proposals. I deny that. I am responsible for this area within the shadow Opposition portfolio system. It was upon my recommendation and my recommendation only, and not because of any pressure or consultation even with the National Country Party, that the Opposition is taking this attitude. This matter was brought into the joint Party room and my recommendation was accepted. One of the reasons put down by the Minister is that a redistribution is necessary because the present boundaries are distorted. The simple fact is this: If one looks at electoral boundaries State by State or division by division one can pick out all sorts of electoral distortions, be it under the present boundaries or under any proposed boundaries.
The simple fact of life is that the present boundaries throughout Australia are fair and equitable if one accedes to the proposition that a national election is held to elect a national Parliament and to form a government as a result of that election. The fact that the present boundaries are fair and equitable on a national basis has been proved at the last 2 elections. With less than 50 per cent of the first preference vote in 1972 and 1974 the Labor Party gained and held office. In 1974, 49.3 per cent of the first preference vote- I emphasise ‘first preference’gave it 52 per cent of the seats and a majority in the House of Representatives. From recollection it contested every seat. I know that assumptions based on proposed boundaries always contain some degree of guesswork, but the interesting thing is that under the proposed boundaries the same percentage of the vote would give the Labor Party a majority of eleven. It is rather interesting also that with less than 50 per cent of the first preference vote a party could get a majority of five, but by shifting the boundaries it could get a majority of eleven.
An awful lot has been said about the imbalance between city and country electorates. If one wants to be particular and single out different places in rural areas one could pick up distortions. One could pick up distortions where large rural electorates will have more electors than small city electorates. As I recall the present boundaries, the electorate of the Leader of the National Country Party in the other place, Mr Anthony-the electorate of Richmond- has 10,000 more electors than the electorate of Mr Daly, the Minister for Services and Property, who has a pocket handkerchief size electorate called Grayndler in the city of Sydney. I suppose that is called weighting in favour of the National Country Party. If one looks at the present redistribution and singles out electorates, the proposed electorate of Hume in New South Wales, of about 17 000 square miles, will have, in round figures, 65 000 electors. The city electorate of Lang, in the city of Sydney, of 9 square miles, will have only 60 000 electors. I know it can be argued that the Redistribution Commissioners have done this deliberately because the electorate of Lang may well be a growing one, and the 2 electorates will come into balance.
I put it to the Senate that the proposal, if carried, in any event would mean that these boundaries would last for only one election. It is well known that the next census is due next year, on 30 June 1976. It would appear on population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that a number of seats in the States will have to be redistributed. I know that population projections may not be totally accurate, but it would appear, on the best projections we can get from the Bureau of Statistics, that after the next census New South Wales would lose a seat, Queensland might well gain a seat, Western Australia could gain a seat and perhaps even South Australia could gain a seat. The census is 1 5 months away, but it is odds on, if I could put it that way, that after the next census the number of seats in each State could well change. I ask: If these proposed boundaries in New South Wales will be valid only for the elections to be held, say, in 1977, why has the electorate of Hume, of 17 000 square miles, 65 000 electors and the city electorate of Lang, of 9 square miles, only 60 000 electors?
The Minister was making a general argument as to fairness. I have not attempted to deal with States in a particular sense. He talked about the necessity for the redistribution because of fairness. I have never been able to understand why a redistribution was ordered in 5 States but not in my home State of Western Australia. It was said at the time that it was unnecessary to order a redistribution for Western Australia because there had been a redistribution in that State within the previous 12 to 18 months, and that as that redistribution was made on the basis of a 20 per cent tolerance from quota it was expected that all electorates would come within the 10 per cent tolerance. Of course, they have not. If that was the reason there should not have been a redistribution in Western Australia, one wonders why there should have been a redistribution in Tasmania where all 5 seats were within the 10 per cent tolerance. I think that at present all 5 seats in Tasmania are either 6 per cent above or 6 per cent below what the quota ought to be. Why have a redistribution in Tasmania and not one in Western Australia?
– They are trying to make Denison safe.
-I was coming to that although I am not arguing the Tasmanian situation in particularity. The interesting thing is that all the redistribution in Tasmania did was to make all the Labor seats safer. There ought to have been a redistribution in Western Australia because the seat of Kalgoorlie is still 15 per cent out of quota. If we talk about fairness and electoral justice, there ought to have been a redistribution in Western Australia. Why was there not a redistribution there? For the simple reason that if Kalgoorlie had been brought within the tolerance the Liberal Party would have won that seat quite easily at the next election.
I have no doubt that when I resume my seat the Senate will be delivered a lecture by Senator Hall on fairness, equity, electoral justice and all the rest. If he is going to deliver that lecture, perhaps he will also advert to the situation in Tasmania and tell us why a redistribution was held there when it was not necessary to bring any seat within the 10 per cent quota, and why all 5 seats in Tasmania have been made safer for the sitting Labor members. Perhaps he will also explain why it was just that there should not have been a redistribution in Western Australia where, on a proper redistribution within the 10 per cent tolerance, the Liberal Party would win the seat of Kalgoorlie from Labor. The basic reason we are opposed to the whole series of these redistributions is because they are not designed to bring about electoral justice. Their sole purpose is to entrench the Labor Party in office.
I turn now to the well-known Mackerras pendulum. We all know that Mr Malcolm Mackerras is quite distinguished in the field of producing figures relating to the percentages of swing required to unseat a sitting member. At present there are 2 Mackerras pendulums in existenceone based on the existing boundaries and one based on the proposed boundaries. The Mackerras pendulum indicates that under the present boundaries with a 3 per cent swing the Opposition would win 12 seats, but that under the proposed redistribution it would win only 8 seats. So the Government’s position obviously would be improved under the redistribution. As I have pointed out previously, with less than 50 per cent of the first preference votes the Government was able to win office in 1972 and to retain office in 1974.
The other point- I put this not as a strong point but certainly as one worth adverting to- is that this redistribution has been carried out under the Electoral Act as amended by the legislation which went through the Joint Sitting of the Parliament last year. It may well be that that legislation could be declared invalid- I do not know and nobody else knows- because at present it is under challenge before the High Court of Australia. I believe that as a matter of simple electoral justice you would not carry out a redistribution under an Act which may well be declared to be invalid. Who knows whether it will be declared valid or invalid? Perhaps that is more an argument for deferring this matter to await the outcome of the High Court challenge.
One would have imagined that any government that had any real interest in electoral reform, electoral justice and electoral equality would have waited until the determination of that question before the High Court before ordering a redistribution. That is another reason we regard this redistribution with a great deal of suspicion.
I come to the situation in South Australia and to the particularity of it. What in fact has the redistribution done in South Australia? It has shifted boundaries, it has shifted electors and it has changed the number of electors. What else has it done? I suppose the best thing it has done is to make the seats of the 12 sitting members safer. Those members are virtually no better off or no worse off electorally under the redistribution. What evidence has been produced to indicate that the electors will be better off by being shifted from one electorate to another, because that is what it has all been about? It is not as if there has been what one might call a major redistribution within South Australia which will so alter the political fortunes of the parties involved that it is a matter of real significance.
I know that my friend and colleague, the distinguished honourable member for Sturt in the other place, Mr Ian Wilson, has said that his position would be marginally improved under the redistribution because of the addition of, I think, Norwood to the seat of Sturt. I think his seat would be marginally improved by about 0.5 per cent or something of that order. To those who propound that proposition I say that the honourable member for Sturt voted with us on this matter in the other place. He supports the decision which the Opposition has taken. In any event, I am certainly not worried about the position of the honourable member for Sturt because even though his seat may appear to be a marginal one, through his own efforts he has converted it from a marginal seat into a far safer one. With the present electoral climate, even a marginal seat like Sturt will most likely be won by a swing of 10 per cent at the next election.
– With the expenditure of $30,000, on his own admission.
-I often wonder how much was spent on the temporary member for Sturt when he was given one of the jobs for the boys so that he could campaign at the taxpayers expense in the electorate of Sturt and also to get into the upper House in South Australia. So let us not sneer at a person who meets his electioneering expenses out of his own pocket and not out of the taxpayers pocket. I think Senator McLaren ought to suck back on that one. I put to the Senate the proposition that the redistribution in South Australia is basically a non-event. I know that honourable senators opposite will say that it is fair, it is reasonable and it has brought electoral justice. For the life of me, I cannot see how it has brought electoral justice to anybody. One would imagine that the boundaries as distributed in South Australia at present so grossly favour either the Liberal Party or the Labor Party that they ought to be redistributed to bring about electoral justice between the 2 parties. The simple fact in South Australia is that using the best of one’s projections on the last figures, with all the shifts and twists and the shifting of electors, the balance of seats between the parties will not be altered. What will alter the balance between the parties is that one party or the other will gain a far greater percentage of the votes than it gained on the last occasion. For those reasons, for the general reasons which I put down as to the 5 electoral redistributions within Australia and for the particular reasons concerning South Australia, the Opposition will vote against not only this motion but also the 4 succeeding motions.
– I have pleasure in supporting the motion and I am sorry that the Opposition will not support it at this stage. However, I do not believe that it is a matter of very great debate or really great interest at this time because I think its presentation to the Senate is premature. I forecast with the firmest of convictions that the redistribution proposals will pass the scrutiny of Parliament before the next House of Representatives election. I honestly and earnestly believe that the next House of Representatives elections will be held under this proposed redistribution which we are considering now. All that will happen in political terms is that the composition of the Senate which is now 60 members and which will be 64 members after the next Senate election, will alter and a majority in this place, which will be added to by my Party, will provide a free passage for these redistribution proposals when they are presented to the Senate after 1 July 1976. Therefore, I do not think there is any need to engender heat in this debate. I think this is a premature presentation in the sense of political power and I think that the power structure will shift away from the Opposition in the Senate next year to a third middle group which will ensure that electoral justice is provided for all Australians. There is no need for me to go into detail about that. I am sure that Senator Withers will find out more about that as he studies the electoral scene in Australia.
It is an intriguing exercise to go through Senator Withers’ speeches to try to find any matter of principle upon which he argues, because principle is entirely absent. His view of electoral distribution is based on the question: Who will win? It is not based on a consideration of whether the distribution is just or provides electoral equality for the electors of Australia. I noticed with rather humourous observation that he continued today his many arguments about electoral redistributions on the basis that someone might win under the system that is proposed, not on the basis of whether it is just. He substantiated his argument by a most peculiar thesis which is that as long as the result overall in Australia produces a percentage of votes for a party in accordance with the general overall Australian content of Liberal Party, Labor Party, National Country Party or other voters, it is a just scheme. So by Senator Withers’ reasoning if there were a 50 per cent, 70 per cent or 100 per cent variation between one seat and another it would not matter at all as long as the overall result for the whole of Australia produced a percentage of members in either House consistent with the electoral support across Australia. That is the basic principle, if there is a principle, that Senator Withers uses.
Of course, that argument is most objectionable to people outside the Parliament and it is no wonder that the Liberal Party is subject to so much quite effective criticism on this one issue. I have had a lot to say about this matter in the past and I do not think there is any need to repeat it with any vehemence or heat because I think both sides have fully stated their cases on the question of whether there ought to be the fullest extension of the franchise. I do not think much will be gained by simply repeating all those arguments which have been used in previous times. However, I would like to say that I think it is rather sad that the Liberal Party again takes this view and is subject to the type of editorial which appeared today in the Melbourne ‘Age’, which speaks for most Australians on electoral reform. My movement in what are supposed to be conservative electorates in this community leads me to believe that an overwhelming number of Australians do approve of electoral equality. It is a great sadness to me that my general side of politics puts itself into such an area of criticism, which can be so simply justified. Those of us who want equality shudder at the type of speech that Senator Withers has made to the Senate.
There is no doubt that the National Country Party is the victor as a result of this attitude. I do not blame it. The National Country Party is a sectional party. As much as it may claim to be a national country party and set out to go into the cities, we know that it is a sectional party and that it represents sectional views. I do not blame it; nor do I say in a sense that it is wrong for it to hold those views. Of course it can hold those views. I do not think it is nearly as false in holding those views as is the Liberal Party. After all, the Liberal Party is supposed to be a liberal party to cover all sections of this community. It does not make out that it is a sectional party and therefore it places itself in a much more difficult position in relation to electoral reform than does the National Country Party, which is expected to take the view that it takes. This creates further difficulty for my side of politics.
I have had some very recent and real experience in relation to supposedly conservative areas of the countryside and their views on electoral matters. The seat which I resigned in South Australia to come into the Senate was the seat of Goyder which has always been considered to be one of the most stable, solid and conservative of country areas in South Australia. It is a lesson to all of those who want to know what the community thinks about electoral reform to study the by-election which was held last year in that seat, and to study the policies which the parties put openly and vigorously to that community. The electoral community of Goyder, which consists of slightly fewer than 10 000 electors, was subject to the canvassing of 30 members of Parliament from the Liberal Country League as it then was, from 3 members of Parliament from the Liberal Movement and from a considerable number of interstate visitors from the then Australian Country Party, who were very pleasant and personable people to meet in the field. Whilst it was a vigorous campaign it was not unpleasant in that way.
The policies were put extremely vigorously and at the large meetings which were held in that district our candidate had to face a question which was quite obviously deliberately put by his opponent. The question was: Where do you stand on electoral reform? His answer was quite clear: I stand as a candidate for the Liberal Movement and my party stands on the platform of one vote one value. This was highlighted by our opponents of the then Liberal Country League which represents the view of Senator Withers that there should not be electoral equality between the country and the city and that some additional weighting and value ought to be given to country votes. The results speak for themselves. I reiterate that it was one of the most intensive campaigns that South Australia has seen and the party standing for one vote one value received 46 per cent of the votes in the first count and the then Liberal Country League received 29 per cent of the vote. That is an extremely valuable lesson and I wish that my side of politics would understand that a vast majority of its own backers and voters approve overwhelmingly the principle of electoral equality. Therefore, the Opposition here speaks for a very small section of the Australian community today. It saddens me to think that it does.
I take the matter of Goyder a little further. Goyder has become in South Australia the first real test of electoral equality. It is a black mark against the new Leader of the Opposition, Mr Malcolm Fraser, that he should now lead a party in this manner. I notice that he is taking this electoral fight right back into South Australia by going to the electorate of Goyder to help the candidate who is standing in the State election for the Liberal Party. In so doing he is immediately involving himself in the most sensitive electoral State in Australia for electoral reform and deliberately and deeply involving himself in the matter of electoral equality, plus or minus. I believe that he is going to a district of which he ought to take note. On the trip that he will make to Goyder he ought to ask very carefully what the public believes about this matter, because I am quite happy to debate this question of electoral reform before the public of South Australia in any of the media of South Australia that Senator Withers may care to choose.
I challenge also the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Malcolm Fraser, to select at his convenience any of the media in South Australia and I will debate with him before as many members of the public as we can get to listen the question of electoral equality in South Australia, which of course has exhibited in the past the most disgraceful form of electoral inequality that Australia has known. I hope that either one of those gentlemen will accept the challenge. Senator Withers has had a lot to say here about who will win in certain circumstances. He has drawn attention to various small defects which he believes exist in the system. This would be denied in any overall view of the redistribution, which most experts believe is the fairest that Australia has seen. I hope that one of those gentlemen- Senator Withers or Mr Malcolm Fraser- will accept my challenge. I hope that Mr Malcolm Fraser, on his visit to Goyder in South Australia in support of a candidate who does not believe in electoral equality, will accept the challenge. He is involving himself in the test bed of electoral questions in visiting a place which is the very origin of change in South Australia, and I believe he ought to accept the public challenge, front up and tell the public of South Australia, and through that confrontation the whole of Australia, why he would deny to some people the rights that others may have. I hope that consideration of these electoral Bills will prompt the Opposition to think deeply about that challenge. The opinion of everyone to whom I have spoken in South Australia about this specific matter of the redistribution in South Australia is that it is the fairest possible redistribution which could have been devised.
– That is why they are opposing it.
– I can only go back to the reasons Senator Withers has given for opposing the total distribution for all of Australia. He sees certain values that may come from it in party terms. He did not deal with the matter of the rights of electors, which I think is the paramount factor in a distribution. Senator Withers referred to my problems in the past in South Australia. In Senator Withers ‘ opinion, the greatest sin that I committed was to put my name to a redistribution which led to the defeat of the government which I happened to lead at that time. That is the standard of argument that Senator Withers adopts and that is the reason why I challenge him and his Leader to debate openly and freely with me in South Australia the question of electoral reform so that he can defend the system which he chooses, which suppresses some people ‘s rights in relation to their voting capacity in Australia. I agree fully with the editorial which appeared in the ‘Age’ this morning and I hope that Liberals take note of it. I do not think that this is a matter for any heat and that is why on this occasion I have not set out to debate this issue at any length. I put it to the Senate that after the next Senate election, which will be effective from 1 July next year, this Bill will be passed, and members of the House of Representatives had better prepare themselves for the prospect of fighting the next federal election on the boundaries which we are now considering.
– The only reason I rise to make a small comment in this debate is because of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Withers, who accused Mr Foster, a former member of the other place, of using taxpayers’ funds to ensure his election to the Legislative Council in South Australia. I want to rebut that comment completely. I think it was quite wrong for Senator Withers to make that statement because, due to Mr Foster’s position on the ballot paper, he is assured of election without expending one cent in the campaign. He is No. 1 on the ballot paper for the Legislative Council election. It is beyond my comprehension how Senator Withers could arrive at that conclusion and make the statement that Mr Foster is using taxpayers ‘ money to secure election.
I am very pleased that Senator Hall has indicated his support for this legislation. I was a little intrigued to hear him say that after the next Senate election he will have the numbers in this place to ensure passage of the Bill. That statement leaves me in 2 minds. I would like to see the numbers here to ensure the passage of the legislation, but I would not like to see Senator Hall with the numbers to ensure that the legislation goes through, unless it is at the expense of the party of which he was a member- the Liberal Party. Of course, that is quite possible. I think it hardly will be at the expense of the Labor Party. Be that as it may, I hope, along with Senator Hall, that there are sufficient numbers in this place after the next Senate election to ensure the passage of this legislation so that the electors of Australia will be able to elect a government on a democratic franchise.
Senator Withers in his speech quoted Mr Malcolm Mackerras as an authority for the argument that he put forward, but he did not go on to quote the comments by Mr Mackerras in respect of this redistribution. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) yesterday did quote those remarks in the other place, and I want to repeat them here for the information of honourable senators who may not have read them. Mr Daly said:
I want to quote from a document entitled ‘A Fair Redistribution’ issued by Malcolm Mackerras who I would say has been a consultant to the Liberal Party in days gone by. He said, in part:
In overall political terms the 197S redistribution is the fairest set of proposed boundaries ever to be presented to any Australian Parliament in my lifetime.
Of course, this is the man Senator Withers quoted as an authority. If Senator Withers had read that report he should have agreed with him. Mr Mackerras went on to say in his report:
The Commissioners have bent over backwards to avoid any suggestion of gerrymander.
My impression is that they have set out to draw boundaries so patently fair that rejection by the Senate would reflect discredit on the Senate, not the Commissioners.
Dealing with South Australia, Mr Mackerras went on:
All other seats would stay at the same political strength.
That is with the exception of the seat of Angas-
The really interesting point is that the Commissioners have left the marginal Liberal seat of Sturt at the same strength. It would have been very easy to turn it into a Labor seat.
That statement prompted my interjection to Senator Withers, when he commented on how well the seat is represented and how well thought of the present member was when he won back the seat. I interjected to say that on the present member’s own admission he spent $28,000 to win back the seat, which was a complete infringement of the Electoral Act. Candidates are not supposed to spend more than a certain minimal amount on an election campaign.
– It was a law and order campaign.
– When the present member first nominated for the seat I think he was a member of Senator Hall’s Party. After the Party split in South Australia he could see the writing on the wall. Although he had the support of the Liberal Movement in winning back the seat, as soon as he was elected he reverted to the parent party, which at that time I think was called the Liberal Country League. Now the ‘Country ‘ part of it has been thrown out and it is the Liberal Party.
– Like Senator DrakeBrockman.
– I think that is another argument. Senator Drake-Brockman too came here under a false flag. No announcement was made to the Senate that he had repudiated the Party for which he was elected when he again took up his position as Leader of the Country Party in this place. I do not think that this matter needs much debate in this chamber because the whole question of this redistribution was explored fully in the other place yesterday. The proceedings were broadcast and people could ear the arguments put forward by the Liberal Party in explanation of its support for this Bill and the arguments put forward by the Government, telling the people at large how many members of the Liberal Party had expressed the opinion that they would like to see the redistribution go through but were too afraid of the Country Party to bring this about. It has been said by many political authorities that this has been the one great opportunity for the Liberal Party to get the National Country Party off its back and ensure that at some future date when there was a change of government the Liberal Party would be able to govern in its own right. While the Liberals are saddled with the National Country Party putting pressure on them and having to consult with that Party on every decision the Liberals want to make and they cannot make it in their own right they never will be a good government in their own right. Many Liberals admit this when you talk to them privately. The opportunity, of course, is now there for the Liberals to get rid of the National Country Party by agreeing to this redistribution. They would not, of course, be able to do it if they were in government in coalition with the National Country Party, but the wonderful opportunity has been given to the Liberals now that they are in opposition.
I think the Melbourne ‘Age ‘ was very apt in its editorial. Although Senator Hall referred to it briefly I want to quote the first paragraph of the leading article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ published today, Thursday, 22 May. It is headed ‘Liberals opt for electoral folly’ and reads:
In determining their attitude to the proposed redistribution of Federal electoral boundaries, members of the Parliamentary Liberal Party had the option of adopting two approaches. They could have asked themselves: is this redistribution fair and equitable and in accordance with democratic principle? To which the honest answer would have been- Yes! Or they could, ha ve pondered: does this redistribution serve our long-term political interests? In which case the wise answer would also have been Yes! The Liberals made a decision which was neither honest nor wise: they decided to oppose the redistribution. In doing so, they opted for a marginal short-term political advantage and for a mockery of electoral justice. The main beneficiary of this aberration will be neither the Liberal Party nor the people of Australia, but the National Country Party.
That links up with the remarks that I have just made- that the Liberals are under the dominance of the National Country Party. As I said, as has been pointed out by more than one political authority, and again today by the Melbourne Age’, the Liberals are throwing away a golden opportunity to rule this country one day as the government in their own right. There is only one way in which Australia can be ruled as a proper democracy and that is under the 2-Party system. Any Party that comes forward with a policy cannot honestly say at election time that it will implement that policy if it is going to be saddled with a splinter group, a pressure group, like the National Country Party which demands its pound of flesh for every decision that is made.
I think the Liberals will rue the day when they rejected this legislation. I hope that when this legislation comes back again in 3 months time the Liberals will have a change of heart and will decide that they will let it go through the Parliament. Even then, as they say they are going to win the next election, if they are really sincere and things happen as they think they will, they might form the government of this country after the next election in their own right. The only chance they will have of forming the government in their own right will be if they allow this legislation through the Parliament. I have great pleasure in supporting the proposal.
– I rise just to indicate that I cannot see anything wrong with the way in which the boundaries have been redistributed in South Australia. It is a marginal sort of redistribution; it is not a major matter at all. In fact, I envisage that if the next election is conducted on the proposed boundaries the Liberal Party will win the seat of Grey. Under the proposed redistribution it will be improved marginally in favour of the Liberal Party and, marginal though it may be, it will be sufficient to give the seat of Grey to that Party.
– How about the other States?
– I am discussing the proposal now before the Senate, which concerns South Australia. We are not arguing about the fairness of the redistribution in South Australia at all. We are just pointing out that it is unfair to consider this redistribution in isolation. We believe it is fair to consider it on a national basis. Senator McLaren seemed to me to have been insinuating that our attitude in this matter is dictated by the National Country Party of Australia. That is quite ridiculous and as far as I am concerned that has nothing to do with the issue. We frequently hear the opinions of Mr Mackerras quoted, and I suppose he has made a study of this subject.
– He is very often wrong too.
-That is quite true. I have heard him make predictions on election results early in the evening on polling day that have certainly led me to believe that he is not as accurate in some of his estimates as perhaps he thinks he is. In fact when I spoke to Mr Mackerras last year, I forget exactly when, he seemed to give me the impression that he believed that a redistribution at this time was premature, that it ought to be done after the next census. I think the next census is to be held next year; so a redistribution in about 1977 would probably be much better altogether because no doubt by that time we will require another seat in Queensland, one in Western Australia, and possibly there would be a need for a further seat in South Australia although the demographic predictions for that State would seem to indicate that the population trends are not moving forward at the present time. I can understand that too, because the present State administration under the control of Mr Dunstan is in a chaotic mess. I support the attitude outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and I look forward to the next election when we can deal with the Government and return to the treasury bench. I believe we can assert some responsibility in government once again.
– I enter this debate very briefly on behalf of the National Country Party of Australia and the coalition Opposition. Let me say in the first place that I am sure that the Liberal Party of Australia will find for itself, and in fact has, far better advocates and advisers than Senator McLaren. Let me further say that, as Senator McLaren and other socialists choose from time to time to denounce the National Country Party, they compliment us and we owe them a measure of gratitude for singling us out as having some real and proper contribution to make in the Australian electoral system.
I should like to draw attention for a moment to the remarks of Senator Hall. Those remarks were delivered in a remarkably muted tone for Senator Hall and I wonder whether they were in such a muted tone because once again he was seen to be adopting an electoral situation or a redistribution which can advantage only the socialists in the Australian scene. I imagine that Senator Hall as a member of the Liberal Movement, indeed as its Leader, finds it in some measure embarrassing to be adopting so continually attitudes which are those of the supporters of the socialist theories in the Australian political scene.
Constant reference is made- Senator Hall also mentioned this- to the principle of one vote one value. That is a most attractive suggestion, but I submit once again that when speaking of value in a voting sense it must be related to the value of representation, the capacity to represent. I am sure that in this field our great ally, the Liberal Party of Australia, is in agreement with us when we say that if we are to have electoral justice and justice in redistributions proper consideration must be given to equality of electoral representation and that one vote one value of itself is relatively meaningless if you divorce value from effective representation.
My Party has been criticised as being a pressure group. I suggest, Mr Acting Deputy President, that that sort of accusation could be made against practically every political entity in this or any other country. I do not know that it is the sort of accusation of which people should be ashamed. I understand that there is a very significant number of Australians who consider that the Government of this country today is a pressure group representing not even the total forces of unionism but perhaps on most occasions only the attitudes of the radical leaders of some of the Australian unions. I think that when we are accused of representing a pressure group the accusers could well be advised to look at their own circumstances.
The National Country Party has been accused of being a pressure group, a splinter group and so forth. It has been said that it does not have a wide base. I ask honourable senators to recall that it was Sir John McEwen, a prominent leader of my Party in this Parliament for many years, who in no small measure was instrumental in bringing about protection that enabled the establishment of many Australian industries. That cannot be regarded as a narrow based attitude. He was the Leader of my Party for many years. I want to instance the constant attention that my Party and its leaders have given to the value of balanced development in the Australian scene and the value of real decentralisation. Again I submit that the suggestion that we are a narrow based organisation is false and extremely hard to substantiate. I think that it is because our Liberal allies recognise these facts that we remain a strong and concerted Opposition. I am sure it is well known that the basic philosophies of our 2 Parties virtually are identical. If there are differences at any time they are merely differences of emphasis which can only contribute to a proper and worthwhile force in opposition or in government.
In closing my remarks I want to refer to one electorate that comes to mind in my own State of New South Wales. The suggestion is that one vote one value is the real contributor to electoral justice. I had in mind the electorate of Gwydir in New South Wales which virtually covers onethird of the total area of the State. In that circumstance it has been allotted the greatest number of electors of any electorate in New South Wales. Is this the sort of arrangement that the Government means when it refers to electoral justice? I have great pleasure in opposing the motion that is before us.
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– On behalf of Senator Wriedt who moved this notice of motion as well as the previous one on my behalf while I was away, I move:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Tasmania into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs J. R. Lennard, C. C. A. Butler and P. W. Fletcher, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 17th day of April 1975, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.
The Government, having considered the report by the Distribution Commissioners for the State of Tasmania, as tabled in this chamber on 1 7 April 1975, pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1973, together with suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Distribution Commissioners, now recommends approval of the Distribution Commissioners ‘proposals. As at December 1974, enrolments for divisions in Tasmania varied from 45 846 in the Division of Bass- 6.8 1 per cent below quota- to 52 206 in the Division of Braddon 6. 1 1 per cent above quota. The quota was ascertained to be 49 1 98. These variations have been reduced in the Distribution Commissioners’ proposals, with the maximum proposed enrolment being 5 1 394-4.46 per cent above quota- for the Division of Braddon and the minimum 46 148-6.20 per cent below quota- for the Division of Wilmot.
Although the reduction in the degree of variation from the quota is not large, it is worth noting that the Distribution Commissioners have nevertheless proposed variations less sizable than those proposed for South Australia and Queensland, as one might expect, when dealing with a State like Tasmania, where population movements do not fluctuate so dramatically as in other States. It is also worth remarking that the Distribution Commissioners’ comments contained in paragraphs 9 to 12 on page 7 of their report indicate that they have approached their task with commendable care and objectivity. Twenty-one suggestions, comments and objections relating to the proposed redistribution were lodged with the Commissioners all of which received full consideration. In this regard paragraph 10 states:
Several objections were received to the proposed amendment to boundaries between Denison and Franklin. Following careful analysis of the situation, your Distribution Commissioners could find no reason to amend their original proposals in this area, which made use of natural boundaries such as rivers and streams, and are in full accord with all the criteria outlined in section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
I move that the Senate approve the report of the Distribution Commissioners for Tasmania, dated 15 April 1975. 1 ask leave of the Senate to incorporate the latest enrolment figures available for all divisions as at 24 April 1975 in Tasmania as provided by the Chief Australian Electoral Officer.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mulvihill)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
DIVISIONAL ENROLMENTS FOR TASMANIA AS AT 25 APRIL 1975
– I indicate, as I indicated earlier, that the Opposition will vote against this proposal also. I think I gave sufficient reasons at that stage, and some of my Tasmanian colleagues will be adverting further to the matter. I take this opportunity, however, to say something to support what I said earlier. It is very difficult to look at electoral boundaries State by State or within a State. One has to look at the result that turns up in the national Parliament. I was somewhat taken to task for saying that I did not support this odd principle of one vote one value. I think there is basically a support throughout the Parliament for the principle of one vote one value, but we all know that that is impossible of attainment. Even the Government admits that, and that is why in the Electoral Act it has a variance tolerance of 10 per cent in the quota.
It is impossible to get one vote one value. I was sufficiently interested in this to take out some figures for each State. I think the figures are accurate, but if my mathematics are not right I am quite certain that Hansard will correct them. As I understand the present position, the quota in Queensland is 64 842; in Victoria it is 63 507; in South Australia it is 62 874; in New South Wales it is 62 765 and in Western Australia it is 62 07 1 . The conclusion that can be drawn from that is that those 5 mainland States have approximately the same number of electors, and it could be said that that basically would fit in with the principle of one vote one value. But for those who propound the theory that there must be one vote one value or there is not democracy, I go on to another series of seats. In the Australian Capital Territory the best information I can get- these are the figures to the end of April- the quota would have been 53 500 or 1 1 342 fewer than the quota for Queensland. The quota for Tasmania, as the Minister has just said, is 49 198 which means that in each Tasmanian division there are 1 5 644 electors fewer than there are in Queensland.
– They are better quality, though.
-I quite agree. The trouble is that there are not enough of them in the other place. That is the electors’ problem but they will wake up. In the Northern Territory, where there is even better quality because the electors choose more sensibly, as far as I can ascertain the enrolment to the end of April 1 975 was 39 386 or 25 456 fewer than for a division in Queensland. The only reason I put this down is to try to come to grips with this argument that is floated that one cannot look at national results, which ought to be reflected in the national Parliament. If there is going to be a wedding by Senator Hall, who claims to be wedded to this total principle of one man one vote, I trust he and his Party will campaign in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory saying that they should not have the number of seats they have because it works electoral injustice to the States of Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. It is a phoney argument on which to try to run an Australian federation, and the fact that there are variations comes about for a large number of reasons. We on this side have always believed that the tolerance ought to be 20 per cent, because that is a more practicable tolerance, but to attempt to bring into the Australian electorate a totality of one vote one value is one of the greatest pieces of nonsense ever propounded in this Parliament. I invite Senator Walsh, who is interjecting, if he is a great adherent to this, to go around the Australian Capital Territory and tell people that the Territory should not have 2 seats because there are only 53 000 electors in each electorate whereas in his own State there are about 62 000 in each electorate.
– Are you saying that it should be 106 000?
-No, I am not. I am just saying that, whilst it is ridiculous to have one electorate for 106 000, we are prepared to tolerate having two for 53 000, and we do not get excited about there not being one vote one value in the other States; nor do we get excited about Tasmania having only 49 000 whereas Queensland has 64 000. We accept that that is a proper thing in a federation. We do not attempt to go for this nonsense of one vote one value as a totality of proposition. All I am putting is that if the honourable senator agrees with one vote one value as a totality, he should go to Tasmania and tell people there that there should be only 4 seats and that his Party will promote a referendum to attempt to bring this about.
– What about the constitutional position?
-Do not hide behind the Constitution. The Government has had referenda on everything from the price of whatever it might be to how many bananas there ought to be to a kilogram. The honourable senator’s Party is a great referendum party. Let it promote a referendum in which it says that, because it is so wedded to democracy in this country and to the principle of one vote one value, it intends to ask the electors of Australia to take away one Tasmanian seat. For goodness sake, let us stop all this nonsense of tossing around this one vote one value as though it is some terribly sacred principle that the whole electoral system has to be distorted to achieve. I just put down those few remarks. I am certain my colleagues from Tasmania will put down in more particularity some of the distortions which this proposed redistribution has brought about in that State.
– We are discussing the proposal to approve an electoral redistribution in the State of Tasmania. It is one more attempt by this Government to ensure that it stays in office for as long as it is possible for it to do so. I have mentioned before that at the last election the Labor Party just scraped home. Had a few hundred of the electors in certain electorates voted in a different way we would have had a Liberal Government. Ever since it came to power this Government has been attempting to change the voting system in such a way that it will be able to remain in power for as long as possible.
We see an attempt by the Government, which is always saying that it has got a mandate to do certain things, to do something which it certainly does not have a mandate from the people of Australia to do. This is a dishonest attempt by the Government to force upon the people of Australia a government that they will not want, in my opinion, at the next election. I say to Senator Hall that if his Liberal Movement is prepared to support redistribution following the next Senate election he should make that very clear to the people of Australia so that the people in those electorates in which he has candidates know just what they are letting themselves in for if they do elect any more of the people of the calibre of Senator Hall.
Senator Withers has pointed out that there is no need for a redistribution in Tasmania at this time and that the electorates are all well within the percentage quota which is the basis on which the Government has decided that there should be a redistribution. We know that no redistribution is being planned in Western Australia. Senator Withers has pointed out that there is very much a need for such a redistribution in that State to bring the electorates within the 10 per cent variation. But the Government has decided not to have a redistribution there- not on your life- because it knows very well that if it does it will lose at least one seat at the next election.
– Which one would that be?
– If the honourable senator does not know I suggest that he ought to do a bit of analysis. I am telling the Senate-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mulvihill)- Order! That sort of crossfire is unnecessary.
– It makes the debate more interesting though, Mr Acting Deputy President. I alway enjoy a few interjections.
– You will sit down in 10 seconds now.
-No, I will not. The seat about which the honourable senator asked is, in my opinion, Kalgoorlie. Even if there is no change in the electoral boundaries in Western Australia I think that the division of Kalgoorlie will become a Liberal Party seat after the next election. Anyway, the Government is just hanging on to government by the skin of its teeth and it is doing everything that it can to attempt to alter the situation so that it can stay in power for another term after this present one.
I can well understand why the Government wants to alter a few of the electoral boundaries in Tasmania. It knows that it is in deep trouble in our most: southern State. Let me forecast now that even if this redistribution proposal does not go through the Labor Party will be lucky to have any Tasmanian representatives in the House of Representatives after the next election. My analysis of the situation in Tasmania is that the Government will lose its seats in this order: Bass, Wilmot, Braddon, Denison and Franklin. Let us look at each of those electorates in turn. In Bass there are more than 1000 people- I was going to say thousands but I do not like to exaggerate in the manner in which some of my colleagues do on the other side of the chamber- out of work. Those people are out of work because of the mad decision of the Labor Party to cut tariffs by 25 per cent across the board. I think that Mr Barnard could very well kiss his seat goodbye. In fact, I predict that he will be the first person to fall at the next election, if indeed he does stand. If he had any sense he would resign now.
– But what if the -
– I hear an interjection from one of our New South Wales senators. He says that he is Tasmanian. He is at the top of the Senate ticket in Tasmania but he comes from New South Wales. I just cannot understand how stupid the Labor Party can be at times, but I am beginning to learn. Let me now turn to Braddon where we see that hundreds more people are out of work.
– Did you have Mr Ellicott in mind when you were saying that?
-No, it was Senator Grimes who comes from New South Wales.
- Senator Sim comes from Victoria and he represents Western Australia. What is the point?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! An honourable senator cannot reflect on the place from which a person originates.
– I must clear it up, Mr Acting Deputy President; it is very important. I think that we should point out to the people of Tasmania and to the Senate that Senator Grimes is really a New South Welshman and he is only a Tasmanian in disguise.
– You are getting weaker every minute. You had better sit down.
-Our friendly flapping feathers are at it over there again. He never ceases to flap. But I will get back to the point about Braddon where there are some hundreds of people out of work. The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd is just hanging on.
– Working 2 weeks out of four.
-That is right. It is only hanging on because of government subsidy. The Peko group has invested a lot of money on King Island. I believe that company lost money last year and it could well close down before the next election, or following it if the Labor Party is returned. The mining industry is in a lot of trouble along the west coast of Tasmania in the electorate of Braddon because the demands of the zinc company in Hobart are not as great as might be needed to keep that area of Tasmania in business during the next few years.
I have been advised that in the electorate of Denison the zinc company may have to put off more than one-third of its work force before the next election. How on earth are the people in these areas in the electorate of Braddon going to support Mr Davies when they know that their jobs are likely to go if he is re-elected? How are they going to support the gentleman in the electorate of Denison if they know that the zinc company is going to go bust if this Government -
– Can you tell me what this has to do with redistribution?
-Just let me finish the sentence. I always like to finish the sentence before I answer interjections.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! We want to help the honourable senator with his speech but I think the implication of Senator Wheeldon ‘s interjection relates to the relevance of the remarks. I know that Senator Townley is making passing reference to Tasmania.
– I am talking about each of the electorates.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Wait a moment, Senator. What I am suggesting is simply that you have made a passing reference but the fundamental question that we are debating is the justice or the injustice of electoral redistribution. I do not think that the economics of Tasmania are directly involved, so I am trying to avoid a point of order being taken on the relevance of your remarks. I ask you to proceed.
– If there were not so many interjections I would get through these points much more quickly, the work of Hansard would be a lot easier, and we might get to lunch at the right time, with this debate finished before lunch. Anyway, I was saying that I cannot see that the people in southern Tasmania are going to feel that any redistribution will be to their benefit. Surely whenever we are talking about things in Parliament we should consider the people we represent. I now refer briefly to the position in the electorate of Wilmot. Its boundaries are proposed to be changed, and therefore I feel I do have a right to mention it We see poor little Mr Duthie tearing around like the proverbial fly.
– He has given that up.
-He has, yes, but he is trying to tell the people that this Government is not anti-farmer and that the Government is doing a good job. If the people in his electorate realised that he is using a photograph which must be about 15 years old they would kick him out just on that count alone.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. What has the age of a photo of Mr Duthie got to do with the matter which we are debating?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! I have tried to apply the advantage rule here in relation to fleeting references to other subjects. I think that Senator Townley has said in this debate most of what he wanted to say. If he argues about the lack of community interest and imbalance in voting he will be in order but if he goes beyond those things he is straining the Standing Orders. I call Senator Townley.
– I think we should be fair in this. The only bloke I have not mentioned is Mr Sherry. Nobody hears very much from him, but I do not expect to hear very much from him at the moment because he has just had a heart attack. Even so, I think the people of Franklin have woken up to the fact that this bloke does not do much for Tasmania.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I think this has gone far enough and I am rising on a point of order. I find a reflection on Mr Sherry’s capacity because of some illness that he has suffered quite an unparliamentary remark for Senator Townley to make and I ask him to withdraw it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I will convey that request because to reflect on a person’s health is hitting below the belt.
– I would ask -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- No, Senator, I want an unequivocal withdrawal on that question.
– I ask you, Mr Deputy President, to get from Hansard the words that I used, because I did not say that I expected anything. The honourable senator has misrepresented the situation. Let me say again what I said.
– I said I make no imputation about Mr Sherry following his heart attack.
– Of course you did.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- All right, are you now giving an unqualified withdrawal, Senator?
– If you consider that necessary, Mr Acting Deputy President, I unqualifiedly withdraw it. I brought in Mr Sherry because he, talking about redistribution, wrote to the redistribution people and said this, at page 7 of the copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Distribution Commissioners for Tasmania:
I present herewith a submission to the Redistribution Commissioners for the electorate of Franklin, State of Tasmania.
Essentially I submit that upon the evidence available there is no justification for any alteration to the present boundaries of the electorate of Franklin at this stage.
Then he gave some figures that 1 do not think it is necessary for me to read to the Senate. At the bottom of the letter, Mr Sherry stated:
I therefore submit that the Division of Franklin be not subject to redistribution.
We have the situation there where Mr Sherry does not want a redistribution, and I can see why he wisely does not want one. He knew that the redistribution as proposed will take votes from his electoral district and give them to the division of Denison. In fact, it will change the situation in Denison from one where a swing of less than 3 per cent would have been needed by the Opposition to win the seat to one where there would be about a 5 per cent swing needed. The Division of Denison, on figures, was the most marginal seat in Tasmania, so senators can see that this redistribution, in Tasmania, which really is not necessary, is certainly benefitting the Labor Party in that area. Another thing about these redistributions that has not been mentioned is that we have to remember that they are to be used for the next State election. The people of Tasmania would go real crook, they would be rightly upset, if I did anything here that would help ensure that Mr Neilson stayed as Premier in Tasmania for any longer than possible.
– There is nothing either he or you could do to stop him from being thrown out next time.
– I think what Senator Rae has said is correct, but I think that this proposed redistribution, particularly of the division of Denison, is an attempt by the Government, not by the Commissioners, to fix Tasmania. I am convinced that the reason why the Government wants to pass these redistributions is that it wants to ensure that it has a longer term of office. In my opinion, this Government has been the worst that this country has ever had. It is attempting to change our whole way of life, and I am suspicious of anything that is introduced in the other chamber as a result of the work of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). I consider that all such matters are designed to keep the Labor Party in power. There is no need yet to have a redistribution: It is not really due for another few years. I could have mentioned other Tasmanian members who are against this redistribution. It is going to disturb unnecessarily some people who live in particular electoral divisions and, when we realise that the Government has brought in a redistribution for Tasmania when one is not needed but has not brought in one for Western Australia when one is needed, we must be suspicious that the Government has some ulterior motive. Before I conclude my speech, I would like to reiterate clearly that I did not intend to imply that Mr Sherry should not be resting at the present time. Anyone who has a heart attack should rest.
– Do you want it again, Senator Townley? What is all this about?
-The point is that I said before that Mr Sherry had done nothing for Tasmania, and I expect him to have a rest for about a month. It has been about a month since he suffered a heart attack, but I say to the Senate that, before his heart attack, he was not doing the things that he should have been doing for the State, and I meant to leave no impression that he should not have taken due care of himself since his heart attack.
– It is deplorable that Senator Townley should have adopted the tactics that he did adopt in this debate. He has got the debate down to just about the lowest key to which anyone could wish it to go by having denigrated people as he has done. He has repeated the claim that this Government is manipulating boundaries to its advantage in redistributions. As I have pointed out previously in this place, this Government has been responsible for 2 previous redistributions, one in the Australian Capital Territory and one in the Northern Territory. The figures speak for themselves; those redistributions were not to the advantage of the Government. The people can see that; so it is quite wrong for a senator to stand in this place and say that we are trying to manipulate boundaries. Any person who says that is accusing the people appointed to draw the boundaries of a falsity and a manipulation at the behest of the Government. To say that is not correct, and people should not make those statements.
Senator Townley made some remarks about Senator Hall and said that the electors of South Australia would regret returning another senator of the calibre of that senator to this place. I am sure that Senator Hall will deal with Senator Townley in relation to that other derogatory statement. I am not one who has defended Senator Hall, but I will defend him on the ground that he has stood up in this place and remained as a member of the Liberal Movement, the Party for which he was elected. It cannot be said of Senator Townley that he has remained a member of the Party for which he was elected, because he went to the electors as an independent and he has now come under the cloak of the Liberal Party to safeguard his place. (Quorum formed). I want to rebut another matter, because an attempt has been made here today to mislead the people of Australia as to the intentions of this Government in bringing in these measures State by State. Senator Jessop was the person who accused the Government of adopting some underhand tactics in introducing the redistribution State by State.
– I did not say ‘underhand ‘.
– I remind Senator Jessop of what was said in the other place by the Minister responsible for this legislation. Mr Daly said this:
What should be known is that distribution commissioners are appointed for each State. Each State must be voted upon separately. In any one vote, the legislation with regard to a State may be rejected.
The practice in this Parliament has always been that the proposals are presented and debated separately.
I remind the Leader of the National Country Party that in 1968 the present honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) brought redistribution proposals to this Parliament in precisely the same way as we are introducing them today. If we go back further to 1964-I think it was- when Mr Freeth was the responsible Minister, redistribution proposals were brought in in the same fashion. The Leader of the Opposition has not done his homework.
I add that Senator Jessop has not done his homework either when he gets up in this place and states that this Government is adopting underhand tactics by introducing the measures in the way that we have. It is quite in conformity -
– I raise a point of order. I object to what the honourable senator has said and ask for your protection, Mr Acting Deputy President. Senator McLaren is not correct. I made no statement suggesting that the Government was underhand. I should like the honourable senator to withdraw that reference.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mulvihill)- I know this has become a very robust debate, and we enjoy that. Did Senator McLaren make a personal imputation about Senator Jessop or is the objection to the general tone of the speech? I did not get the actual import of what was said.
– In deference to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, I withdraw the word underhand’. I will have a look at the Hansard report tomorrow. I believe Senator Jessop was implying that we were trying to do something which was not legal because of the way in which we were introducing this redistribution, although what we are doing is the same as his colleagues did and the National Country Party did in the other place.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Are you withdrawing the reference?
– Yes. I know we want to take a vote on this matter before the suspension of the sitting for lunch. Firstly, I think I have successfully rebutted the accusations that have been made by Senator Townley that we were trying to manipulate the boundaries and secondly I think I have explained properly that the method we have adopted in the introduction of this redistribution was previously adopted by 2 members of the National Country Party when they were Ministers for the Interior, as the portfolio was then named, and responsible for electoral matters. I hope that members of the public who read Hansard and those who were listening yesterday are fully aware of what tactics the Opposition will adopt to try to discredit Mr Daly over his introduction of these redistribution proposals. I fully support the motion.
-May I bring the debate back to the subject matter of the redistribution for Tasmania? I should like to comment on some of the reasons why I and the Opposition see this redistribution as one which should not proceed at this stage. We oppose the redistribution taking place. I remind honourable senators that a redistribution is due after the census that will be taken next year. I think Tasmania provides one of the best examples for illustrating the existing variations and the changes which are to be made as a result of this proposed redistribution. Tasmania is not an area of Australia which has a rapid population growth. In fact the stage has been reached, on the latest figures that I saw, where more than 25 per cent of Tasmanian born persons no longer reside in that State. Tasmania’s greatest export is becoming its people. I know this is a tremendous advantage to the other States, but it does not increase the population of Tasmania at the same rate as the population is increasing in some areas of Melbourne and Sydney in particular.
It is not as if there are likely to be very great changes in the next say, 2 years in the population of the various electorates in Tasmania. At the moment the variations range from 6.82 per cent below quota in the electorate of Bass to 6. 1 1 per cent over the quota in the electorate of Braddon.
The proposed changes do not improve that situation. Whilst those percentage variations are well within the 10 percent tolerance provided in the legislation we find that under the proposals the electorate of Wilmot will have a variation of 6.2 per cent under the quota figure and the electorate of Braddon will still have a variation of 4.46 per cent over the quota figure. Tasmania does not have the huge variations which exist in some of the other States. Tasmanian electorates have nowhere near any variation approaching 10 per cent.
The proposal to redistribute is simply a means of improving the Australian Labor Party’s prospects, deliberately or otherwise. I do not pause to comment about that; I think Senator Townley has made some comments on it. I simply say that it is a means of improving the Australian Labor Party’s prospects of winning seats in Tasmania. It will cause very substantial inconvenience to a lot of the electors of Tasmania and is totally unnecessary at this stage. It is opposed on those grounds by a number of sitting members in Tasmania- the ones who will lose some votes and the ones whose electors will be inconvenienced. Amongst them, as Senator Townley pointed out, is Mr Sherry in the seat of Franklin. I refer also to what Mr Barnard said in his objection dated 25 February 1975. Referring to his seat of Bass he said:
I can see no value at all in varying this boundary. In fact I believe it will lead to confusion because of the lack of proper definition.
He goes on to make further points about the inconvenience and the confusion to the electors which will follow the making of these relatively small variations that are proposed. The only advantage which will come out of the passing of this redistribution will be that whereas the seats of Denison and Wilmot would have required a 2 per cent to 3 per cent swing under the existing boundaries for Labor to lose them, under the proposed redistribution Wilmot will require a 3 per cent to 4 per cent swing and Denison a swing of nearly 5 per cent. The only seat which does not require a greater swing to be won by the Liberal Party is the seat of Franklin where the percentage comes down from something over 12 per cent to something under 12 per cent. The net result is that, whereas a swing of 2.68 per cent would be required in that State for the Liberal Party to win on the existing boundaries, under the proposed boundaries the Liberal Party would require a 3. 1 6 per cent swing. That may or may not be by design, but that is the net result.
There is no real advantage to anybody who is an elector in Tasmania from the changes. It is not a matter of getting greater equality because the inequalities in the size of the electorates will remain. The greatest inequality at the moment is a seat with a 6.8 per cent variation under quota. In the proposed redistribution there will be a 6.2 per cent under quota variation in another electorate. So, no advantage is gained in that way. Probably the most important point in relation to electoral inconvenience, if these changes are passed, is that not only will a number of people have to get used to the idea that they are in a different Federal electorate, but also because the Federal electorates are used for the purposes of the State Parliament, and each of those electorates comprises 7 members for the purposes of State Parliament, every person who resides in an electorate for which the boundaries have been changed and who is placed in another electorate, will have his relationship with 8 members of Parliament affected. He will have to get used to a new Federal member and to the idea of 7 new State members. The inconvenience, for no advantage, is tremendous.
In my submission there is just no good case made out in relation to Tasmania when one bears in mind the injunction in the legislation to have regard to existing boundaries and the inconvenience that is caused to electors by continual changes of boundaries. When one has regard to the fact that the boundaries carry through and apply to the 7 members of each of these electorates in the State Parliament, no advantage will be gained from passing this redistribution. There will be every disadvantage. The boundaries will have to be reviewed again in 1977 as a result of the 1976 census and this will happen in a State where the population growth is not, in the immediate future, likely to be large. I know that perhaps with changes of Federal and State governments the population growth in Tasmania might change but that is a matter a little further into the future; it does not apply between now and the redistribution which is due before the 1976 census.
– You have convinced me.
– In all those circumstances and having convinced Senator Wheeldon entirely of the justice of the case I have put I am sure that not only will all of the Opposition senators be voting against this redistibution but also Senator Wheeldon.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
-Prior to the suspension of the sitting we were discussing the proposals for redistribution of electorates in Tasmania. I had no intention of speaking on this proposition until some new ideas were introduced into the debate by Senator Townley in his inimitable manner. We heard Senator Rae and Senator Withers state quite clearly the Opposition’s reasons for opposing this motion. There was nothing different from the reasons that had been advanced in its opposition to the redistribution in South Australia. However, Senator Townley introduced a few new ideas in expounding his thoughts on redistribution, which I thought were worthy of comment from this side. His first and main proposal seemed to be the introduction of a new rule into elections, particularly Senate elections. He exposed me to the world as coming originally from New South Wales, having been born and brought up in New South Wales. He seems to haxe a xenophobia which I have not found in any other native born Tasmanian that Tasmania can be represented only by native born Tasmanians, and New South Wales can be represented only by New South Welshmen. I think the introduction of the Townley rule to the Electoral Act would raise many complications. I must admit that I was born and brought up in New South Wales.
-Shame on me. Until I reached a mature age and decided to move to the premier State I lived at Albury in New South Wales. While true confessions are in order, I must confess that as a child I threw stones on roofs and blew up letter boxes on Empire Day. I must go even further and admit that the owner of one of those houses and one of those letter boxes was our friend Senator Bunton who has recently been appointed to this chamber. He seems either to have forgotten it or to have forgiven me.
– Were you deported from New South Wales?
– I probably was deported. The introduction of the Townley rule would lessen the esteem in which this House is held because in the past we have had, and at present we have, many people who have not represented and do not represent the State in which they were born.
- Senator Mcintosh would be in a bit of strife.
-He would be in terrible trouble. Ex-Senator Turnbull, who was born in Shanghai, would have had to be sent back to the People’s Republic of China. Some members opposite would agree with the suggestion, but I doubt whether Mao Tse-tung or Chou En-lai would have felt happy about it. One wonders what ex-Governor Ronald Reagan of California would have said if we had insisted that Senator Arthur Gietzelt go back to California where he was born. No one in this House, I am sure, would insist that Senator Guilfoyle go back to Belfast. There are others involved. Senator Webster was born on Flinders Island which, some honourable senators may know, is part of Tasmania. The senator who concerns me most of all is a man for whom I have great respect. I refer to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who, according to the Australian Parliamentary Handbook, was born at sea. I do not know what we would do with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. He would be sailing around on a ship expounding his theories to whales and to fishes. I believe this place would have been grievously harmed by his absence. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack is from Caithness in Scotland. I must admit that if he had stayed there he probably would have ended up on the Woolsack and graced that as Lord Cormack of Caithness with the skill which he showed when he was President and with the skill which our present President shows.
– What if a senator was born in Pentridge?
– That would raise great complications. I think Senator Townley ‘s attempts to provoke some sort of xenophobia in the populace of Tasmania will not work. We would lose some eminent Tasmanians such as Senator Wriedt who, I understand, was born in Melbourne. The Liberal Party may gain because Mr Snedden who represents a Victorian electorate was born in Western Australia. There are many others. Senator Sim would have a much easier time getting home to Victoria, the State in which he was born, than he does to Western Australia, the State that he represents. It is unfortunate that Senator Townley introduced this matter. He seemed to be quite serious, but it is very difficult to know whether he is serious. Fortunately his Party in Tasmania does not hold this view because the man about whom he said some very harsh things, Mr Sherry, 2 elections ago was opposed by a rather right wing gentleman from the southern states of the United States. The new Secretary of the Liberal Party in Tasmania, like myself, is an import from that dreadful State of New South Wales. However, these things happen. I am sure that if Senator Townley thinks about his proposition he will change his mind.
Senator Townley had some unfortunate things to say about Mr Duthie who, he assures us, will lose the seat of Wilmot at the next election. People have been saying that about Mr Duthie since he was first elected in 1946. In the 12 or 14 years that I have been in Tasmania people have been assuring me: ‘Next year Mr Duthie is gone ‘. He is still there. I understand that when he writes a book it will be entitled ‘They’re all waiting for me to die’. Mr Duthie was described as scurrying desperately around his electorate. That is the reason he is still a member. He is always scurrying around his electorate looking after his electors, attending to their problems, hearing what is wrong and doing what he can to correct it. Mr Barnard also will lose his seat at the next election, I am told by Senator Townley. It was unfortunate that the candidate the Liberal Party selected to stand against Mr Barnard was a lieutenant-colonel from Hobart who was born out of the electorate. I understand that he was born in one of the mainland States. Obviously Senator Townley has not the support of his Party in this regard.
Some funny arguments have been raised against the redistribution in Tasmania. My friend and colleague Senator Wright used, in my opinion, a rather strange argument in a letter he wrote to the Electoral Boundaries Commission on 25 February. He said in part: six years ago Kingston-Blackmans Bay was taken out of the Franklin electorate and transferred to Denison when the Member for Franklin resided in the KingstonBlackmans Bay area, and now, when the candidate announced for Denison resides in the area, it seem unfortunate and inappropriate to switch the area away to another electorate.
That brings in a new rule- the Wright rule. The Wright rule is that electorates should be made to suit the candidate from the Liberal Party; the candidate should not be made to suit the electorate. I have commented on those two rather strange arguments only because I had no real reason to rise. The Opposition has made it clear that it will oppose the redistribution. The only member of the Opposition who has implied publicly that the Distribution Commissioners who were asked to do the redistribution were dishonest was Senator Townley in his speech today. He may or may not have realised what he was saying. I notice that Senator Rae was careful not to say that, as was Senator Withers.
We believe that the time for redistribution has come. We believe that the new rules, by which there will be a tolerance of only 10 per cent, are sensible. We believe that even in Tasmania where none of the electorates, it is true, falls outside that 10 per cent there is good reason to make the electorates even and geographically more sensible. Senator Withers’ comment that the result of the redistribution will make all the seats in Tasmania safe for Labor is an incredible one. I am sure that Mr Barnard does not agree with him. I doubt very much whether Mr Davies agrees with him. Senator Townley certainly does not agree with him because he said that even if the redistribution goes through Labor will win all 5 seats at the next election. I will not detain the Senate any longer. I support the proposition that there should be a redistribution in Tasmania. I believe it is a shame that the Opposition adopts the attitude that it does towards the question of dividing this country into equal electorates.
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Tasmania into the electoral divisions as proposed.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 2 1 May on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr President, when the debate was interrupted last night I had commenced to refer to the confusion of thought which seems to run through this Bill. I had pointed out that the Bill itself does not seem to be able to indicate clearly whether this Inter-State Commission will be a legislative body or an executive body or a judicial body, or whether it will be some extraordinary 3-headed monster which is compounded of 3 aspects of government. I have already indicated the aspects of the Commission which seem to give it a judicial flavour. On the other hand, when one looks at the Commission one may be forgiven for believing that it is supposed to be an executive body, because the Commission is to be given power to make orders for the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and all laws made thereunder relating to trade and commerce. The Bill also gives the Commission power to issue licences with respect to the engaging in, or the use of aircraft, vessels, vehicles or pipelines in interstate transport.
There are many other aspects of the Bill which seem to point to the Commission having a purely executive role. From listening to the speeches of honourable senators opposite in support of the Bill one would have gained the impression that they see the Bill- presumably the Government sees the Bill- as an instrument not only to plan but really to organise and indeed run what they call a rational transport system for the whole of Australia. In other words, they see the Commission as a super-commissar which will run all the transport services, whether they be interstate or intrastate. Obviously the Commission, because of the limited nature of its constitutional powers, will not go as far as that. Nevertheless, if that is the concept of this Commission it will go a great deal further than the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) claimed it would in his second reading speech. It goes a great deal further than I hope anyone on this side of the chamber would be prepared to concede.
The aspect of the Bill which concerns me more than anything else is the Commission’s obvious legislative powers. In the final wash the best I can make of the matter is that it seems to me that the Bill is really designed to set up this Commission and then to let it virtually make laws in regard to the subject matter, whether that be transport specifically or interstate trade generally. I have come to that conclusion because of the very wide ambit of some of the clauses of the Bill. I am looking in particular at clauses 10, 11 and 13. Senator Greenwood has already very carefully analysed and set out the ambit of clause 13, whereby regulations may be made authorising the Commission to exercise all or any of the powers of any authority or tribunal under any law of Australia relating to trade and commerce. That would be a clear exercise of legislative power, albeit by regulations, lt makes it even worse that it should be done only by regulation.
Another provision of the Bill which concerns me greatly, because of the ambit of the legislative power, is contained in clauses 10 and 11. Clause 10 provides that it is unlawful in respect of either overseas transport or interstate transport to give any preference or advantage to any person, State, locality or class of transport, and so on, which the Commission judges to be undue and unreasonable. This Commission is being given complete power to decide what practices may be undue and unreasonable. To my mind that is exercising powers which would normally be- and I would require to be- exercised by Parliament itself. We take great care in the legislative process to ensure that laws are made as specific as possible, deal with specific questions and create specific offences. We are constantly criticising Bills that come before us on the ground that they are too vague, but in this Bill the Parliament is invited to hand over to this Commission the power to say what practices in interstate transport or overseas transport are undue and unreasonable.
Clause 1 1 says that the terms and conditions on which a service by way of or in relation to interstate transport is provided shall be reasonable and just. That is a nice, pious statement. I would hope that all our laws would be reasonable and just, but it should be for Parliament to lay down what conditions and terms would be reasonable and just in relation to interstate transport just as it would lay down such conditions in regard to any subject matter. We might equally make a similar pious statement such as that Parliament is in favour of motherhood or some other unchallengable proposition. The Bill gives the Commission power to determine what would be reasonable and just conditions of service in interstate transport. Having made that sort of determinations the Commission can issue orders to give effect to its decisions. Those are the matters which give me the gravest concern about this piece of legislation.
If I were required to vote on this legislation today I would vote against it because of the extreme difficulty which I have in understanding just what it is supposed to do and certainly what it may do as a result of these extraordinarily vague and wide provisions. The second reading speech of the Minister for Transport ( Mr Charles Jones) does not clarify the matter at all. I have seen statements made by Mr Jones outside the
Parliament in which he has indicated that the Government wants to experiment with this Bill to see what its powers are, that it is starting off in the transport sphere and that it hopes there will be favourable High Court decisions in relation to the exercise of some of its powers. Then it will try to expand the whole ambit of this Commission. That is no way to proceed in regard to an area such as this. The Government should have a clear policy as to what it is proposing to do, what abuses it wants to remedy and how and in what manner it wants to remedy them. That is the right approach. I am not prepared to give my support to legislation which does not clarify these matters.
However, the Inter-State Commission is provided for in the Constitution, section 101 of which provides:
There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary -
It is very interesting to note what the Constitution says because it specifies the Parliament and not the Commission- for the execution and maintenance … of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.
It is clear that although the Constitution lays down that there ought to be such an Inter-State Commission, the Commission is to execute and maintain laws made by this Parliament and not laws which are made by the Commission. I am prepared to support the creation of an Inter-State Commission which has some powers of adjudication- they may be very limited powers of adjudication because of High Court decisions -and which is designed to execute and maintain the laws which are made by this Parliament. I can also see perhaps a greater purpose in this day and age for an Inter-State Commission as a body conducting investigations in this whole field of transport throughout Australia, making submissions and recommendations to government as to what the laws ought to be or how they ought to be executed and perhaps what body should be given powers of execution in addition to or in conjunction with the Commission itself. But it should act essentially on the lines of the Australian Industries Assistance Commission and not take over the role of Parliament or the role of other bodies which have been established by such legislation as the Trade Practices Act, the Prices Justification Tribunal Act or the Pipeline Authority Act to execute laws that are made by this Parliament. I cannot see the purpose of an Inter-State Commission which comes in and sits over and above all these other bodies as well as sitting over and above this Parliament.
For those reasons I am prepared to support the second reading of the Bill. I am prepared to support it because it creates an Inter-State Commission in terms of the Constitution. I am certainly not prepared to support an Inter-State Commission which will have the powers given to it by Part III of this Bill. I believe that further time is necessary for honourable senators to give a great deal more thought and attention to what should be the powers, functions and objects of an Inter-State Commission in 1975. I believe that the founding fathers’ concept of an Inter-State Commission in the 1890s was probably quite different from the concept we have in 1975. Senator Wright has suggested some powers which the Inter-State Commission should have particularly in regard to Tasmania and he put forward a clear proposal, which one can readily understand, as to what the Commission should do and the abuses that its powers should be designed to remedy. I believe there are many other specific proposals of that kind which could be made, to which thought could be given and to which expression could be given in amendments to this legislation. It seems to me that it will be necessary for the Opposition, in such amendments, to give any real force and meaning to this Bill. It is certainly not something that can be done during the pressure of the parliamentary session. Time will be necessary. The winter recess of the Parliament will be all too short a time for such a big task to be completed.
In the meantime, of course, many other people in Australia are vitally concerned about this matter. Their views must be sought and very close attention should be given to them. In particular, the State governments are vitally concerned with the powers that might be given to such a body as this. It is true, of course, that the powers of the proposed Inter-State Commission are to be confined to interstate trade and are not to impinge upon the States’ area of trade within the States. Nevertheless it is quite clear that, in the modern sophisticated economy and with the transport systems we have, any rules or regulations concerning interstate trade have a great effect and impact in intrastate transport. Therefore any powers we might consider giving to this body should be fully discussed with the State governments. We must allow time for such discussions to take place.
People, other than State governments, are interested in interstate transport. People engaged in the airline industry, road transport and interstate transport by sea are interested. It is a very great area. Many people are concerned. Any proposed powers for this Commission should be fully discussed with them and their ideas about how the Inter-State Commission could work should be sought and should be respected.
This Government has had 2lA years in which to introduce this Bill. Senator Greenwood quoted from the 1972 policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in which he said that the Government would be setting up an Inter-State Commission. The establishment of that Commission was not achieved before the 1974 election. The Prime Minister repeated the promise in 1 974. It is now a year later that the Bill has seen the light of day. It is quite clear that the Bill has been drafted purely and simply to enable the Government to say: ‘We are observing our election promise to set up an Inter-State Commission’. The promise itself was vague and general and the fulfilment of it is equally vague and general. It is perfectly clear that the Government has not given any clear thought or attention to the purpose of this organisation. The Prime Minister is simply insisting, presumably, on the introduction of this legislation in order for him to say: ‘We said we would establish an Inter-State Commission. We have done so’. It is quite clear that no greater thought than that has been given to this legislation. If more thought had been given, we would not have been presented with a Bill of this character. The Government having taken 2¥i years to produce this Bill in this vague form, I do not think it is unreasonable for the Opposition to seek to defer detailed consideration of it for 2Vi months. That is all we have said we intend to do.
– in reply- The Government considers that the real issue in this debate is whether the Senate shall proceed with legislation which is known to be a requirement of the Constitution, not a promise of the Government. The issue is whether the Opposition in the Senate will frustrate, once again, the Government’s intention to bring about something which is a requirement of the Constitution. In answer to repeated arguments made by honourable senators opposite which have been reinforced by Senator Durack, who spoke about the promise of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), and was supported by Senator Greenwood I want to say clearly that the establishment by the Government of an Inter-State Commission is an obligation. It is a subject that is well-known and well recognised. The availability of such a Commission is well established.
As Senator Durack has said, this legislation was not conceived in a hurry. It has taken the Government 2 1/2 years to bring down the legislation. It is in a form which can be comprehended and understood and argued. Opposition senators yesterday argued many of the clauses, which shows clearly that they understood what is contained in the Bill, although they argued that the Bill was too powerful. It has been argued that the provisions are horrendous, too strong, take away the rights of the States, and take away from the motivation of authorities to support co-operation between the States and the Federal Government.
I want to repeat what is contained in the Constitution so that all honourable senators will remember it. Section 101 of the Constitution states:
There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.
Section 102 of the Constitution states:
The Parliament may by any law with respect to trade or commerce forbid, as to railways, any preference or discrimination by any State, or by any authority constituted under a State, if such preference or discrimination is undue and unreasonable, or unjust to any State; due regard being had to the financial responsibilities incurred by any State in connexion with the construction and maintenance of its railways. But no preference or discrimination shall, within the meaning of this section, be taken to be undue and unreasonable, or unjust to any State, unless so adjudged by the Inter-State Commission.
Section 103 of the Constitution refers to how the Commission shall be constituted. We have heard from speakers on the other side who have said that they do not now contest the view that there ought to be an interstate commission, but they would prefer to see some weak administrative organisation or tribunal emasculated as to powers although they understand clearly that the Government wants to have a commission with powers which in the first instance can be applied in the area of transport but not hiding the fact that in relation to some other areas those powers may be availed of when the Government’s experience and the Commission’s experiences are better established. The Commission itself is subject to parliamentary control. If the Commission does something which is not acceptable to any member of the Parliament he can take action in the Parliament to do something about it or if somebody chooses to take action against a decision of the Commission the matter may go to the High Court.
In addition I suppose the strongest point is that decisions of the Commission will always be subject to public scrutiny. Honourable senators have read the Bill and they will have heard what the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) has said. He wants the problems of transport to be well tested, whether they relate to freight rates to and from Tasmania, freight rates in Queensland or in relation to carriers transporting goods between Sydney and Queensland, the problems of transport co-ordination within the States, the problems of bridge heights, road levels or traffic regulations. Everybody well knows these issues. Honourable senators know them well because this Senate itself, through many committees, has often highlighted them. Senator Durack mentioned as an aside the complexity of the problems involved in developing an Australian transport system. Everybody will agree that the Australian transport system has not been developed along rational lines. Many speakers on the other side have talked about these problems including Senator Wright who last night talked about them in relation to the situation in Tasmania. Senator Guilfoyle said that in relation to Tasmania such a commission could investigate the problems which exist there. I remind the Senate that the setting up of this Commission is not a promise. The Parliament is obliged to give effect to the proposal in the Constitution to set up this Commission. It has not been given effect to despite the fact that on many occasions the evidence presented to Senate committees has indicated that there should be such a commission.
– There is only one of your own supporters interested in it.
– The honourable senator is listening to me. My colleagues not only support what I am putting to the Senate but they will shortly come into this place and vote against what the Opposition has decided to do in relation to this legislation. Whatever action the Commission may take, it will be wide open to public scrutiny and to action by the Government and by the Parliament. I refer to clause 40 of the Bill which reads:
I think that we all now accept that there is a need for such a Federal body. There is an obligation on the Government to establish such a Federal body. Those matters which ought to be considered are well known. The Minister referred to some of them when he talked about the differences in railway gauges, the varying State road regulations, transport weight limits and so on. I remember quite well, as Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and my colleagues who sat on the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes would also recall, the many problems involved in transport with the advent of containers into the general transport system. At that time the idea of resurrecting the Inter-State Commission was a matter of some concern and discussion. The position in Australia is that the States and maybe other Federal governments in concert with them have not made the rapid advance to a national, coordinated policy that we would want. I think I have mentioned that in the other place Mr Wentworth, who has been a great champion for the railways over the years, has more than once drawn to the attention of the Parliament the need for such a co-ordinated policy. This Government has moved in this direction. It has amalgamated departments. It has charged a Minister with a wide group of responsibilities in the transport field but we know that this is not enough and something more should be done.
It is not a question of our wanting what is in this Bill. The issue today is that the Senate ought to proceed with discussing this Bill. If it wants to reject some of the clauses in the Bill it should proceed to do so. This Bill was introduced a month ago in the Senate. It was debated in the other place. The Hansard records are available for consideration by honourable senators in relation to what they may wish to put from their own point of view. As we know, 14 amendments were moved by the Opposition in the other place. Perhaps they will be copied in this Senate.
– Test it under clause 13. What type of tribunal -
– A very clever device. Senator, you had your opportunity last night when the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast. This is something I want to talk about. In the Senate Wednesday, which is broadcast day, is always showday. Recently on every broadcasting day the whole time has been taken up by Opposition senators simply canvassing political issues and the Opposition has not been developing arguments which might well be put forward in the Committee stage, as honourable senators well know. But they say in defence: You did that when you were in Opposition’.
That is not the point. The point is that the Opposition has frustrated the work of the Government, as honourable senators opposite well know. Let me give the Senate some details on this frustration. I will refer to Bills which have been rejected, laid aside or deferred. (Quorum formed) I was referring to the suggestion that there has been a failure to consider this Bill properly and it might be considered to constitute a reason to apply section 57 of the Constitution. I said that the Opposition has had a month to consider what it might do in the Committee stage of this Bill. The Opposition speeches in the second reading debate yesterday indicate quite clearly that they have read and put forward arguments on the clauses in the Bill. Those arguments were supposed to be developed in the Committee stage. I then said that that was symptomatic of what the Opposition had been doing because every Wednesday, when the proceedings were being broadcast, it was showday. I want to refer to the number of Bills laid aside or deferred by the Opposition since we have been the Government. A total of 37 Bills -
– How many of them twice?
-That does not matter. Let me repeat what Senator Withers is on record as having said. Have honourable senators seen the statement in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 17 May, headed ‘Withers warns of a tougher Senate’, which states:
The Opposition Leader in the Senate, Senator Withers, yesterday foreshadowed tougher opposition to Government legislation. Senator Withers made it clear the Opposition would block 3 Electoral Redistribution Bills to be considered next week. And he left no doubt Opposition senators would block the proposed Inter-State Commission although initially they would only defer the Bill.
Over the next few months you will be hearing a lot about alleged Senate obstruction,’ Senator Withers said. ‘The Government wants to force its legislation through Parliament without reasoned debate and consideration. ‘
That is the full statement of the Leader of the Opposition, and it gives him the benefit of the argument and the excuse that he used. We all know that. Is it not obvious that on Wednesdays, when these proceedings are broadcast, the Opposition puts on a show? If the Government had any sense we would re-arrange some of the business.
– We are not the Government.
– It has been claimed in recent months that the Opposition has been more co-operative with the Government. On broadcast days it is very hard to see what that co-operation entails.
– More speakers have complained -
– Why do you not be quiet and be a regular senator? Why do you not stop interjecting?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! The Minister is replying to the debate.
– He is provoking me.
-I want to refer to the -
– He must not provoke. He must reply to the argument.
-Last night Senator Wright took some pride in saying that he and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) were the only 2 remaining members of the Constitutional Review Committee. He should have read that Committee’s recommendations on the reconstruction of the Inter-State Commission. At paragraph 866 of its report it stated:
Something more should be said about the Inter-State Commission. Section 101 of the Constitution requires the appointment of the Commission.
The Committee said it was required. It was not a promise, as somebody said earlier. The Commission continued:
The section reads- 101. There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.
The Committee continued and referred to the time when the Commission was in operation. It then made this recommendation in paragraph 868:
The Committee believes that the Commission should be reconstituted in accordance with the Constitution. The Commission would be capable of performing many useful functions in relation to the provisions of the Constitution relating to interstate trade and commerce. It could, for example, engage in expert fact-finding as an aid to the judicial process or inquire into the economic effects of legislation on interstate trade and commerce.
Senator Wright comes along to the chamber.
– But you are giving it many more functions than that. That is what is wrong.
-Of course. The Committee recommended this but no action was taken. Senator Wright lent his name to that Committee’s report yet he comes along and complains that the Government, after spending 2Vi years in designing this legislation, has brought down something with which he does not agree and therefore he will not proceed with it. He says that there has to be a delay of 3 months. Senator Wright can claim to be an expert in this field, he spends a lot of time considering these things and arguing them in the Senate, and yet he says that he cannot proceed with this and wants 3 months delay. Is it any wonder the Government complains about the actions of the Senate Opposition?
I want to refer to a matter which I think Senator Keeffe raised last night. Let me remind honourable senators about the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. The members of that Committee were Senators Young, Cant, Gair, Hannan, Keeffe, Laucke, O’Byrne and Webster. What did that Committee say about this subject? In paragraph 8.94 of its report the Committee said:
The Committee considers that if a need for a network of interstate pipelines is established, the Government should give consideration to the re-establishment of the Inter-State c ommission empowered to regulate the interstate transportation of oil and gas.
– You want to set up a Pipeline Authority.
– But the Opposition will not proceed. It knows all these things. It has heard them and it has read them. Opposition members have taken part in these things. I refer to the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution. On that Committee there was the present Acting Deputy President, Senator Davidson, and Senators Byrne, Mulvihill, Prowse, Rae and Ridley. That Committee stated:
Although there can be a measure of arbitration within the national body, conflict between Commonwealth, State and individual interests will require resolution. It is necessary, therefore, that an independent body within the Federal concept be created or utilised for this purpose. In this regard, the Committee has noted the nature of the Inter-State Commission provided for in the Constitution, and believes that consideration might well be given to its re-formation with, if constitutionally possible, effective arbitral power, and in a form suitable for the resolution of these potential conflicts.
I suppose I could read not only the most recent statements but statements made 77 years ago when many members of Parliament had a firm belief in setting up the Inter-State Commission. I could refer even to Mr Wentworth, the honourable member for Mackellar, who saw the position. I could refer to people like Mr Drummond, the honourable member for New England in 1966. I could refer to a former PostmasterGeneral, Senator McLachlan, and what he said in 1938 and also refer to Barton’s statement. Everybody knows these things.
I was a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling
Cargoes and we considered this question. Anybody who knows the complexities of modern transport and organisation today- who should know better than a Tasmanian- well knows that there has to be a body such as the Inter-State Commission.
– Will you read my amendment?
- Senator Wright complains that our proposals are too drastic but the power in his motion is almost overwhelming. May I refer to a question, as an example, which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack posed during the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. This appears at page 960 of the transcript. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack said:
I feel that I cannot let the Committee go to the report stage without an expression of opinion as to whether the Interstate Commerce Commission and the relevant sections of the Act have any relevance to this problem?
Professor Derham replied:
I think it could, particularly if one takes American experience into account, and, after looking at it, takes the view that some of their Commissions, like the Federal Communications Commission and their Interstate Commerce Commission have done valuable work and as we develop more activities which are interstate and foreign affecting what transport and commerce goes on inside the country, particularly if we legislate, there will no doubt be problems and questions which can come up at a high level and which, if you like, you could call the consequences of administrative control.
– What is the reference?
– I am referring to the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. If the honourable senator likes to read the transcript he will see that Professor Derham also argued that it would have to be a strong body, not just one to make investigations. In answer to a question I asked he observed that it would have to be a very strong body.
The unusual thing about this debate is that although Senator Withers wants to defer it for 3 months, nobody has asked the Minister for Transport or the Department of Transport for advice from its advisers. Although the Minister said that he was quite happy to make available any advice or advisers to honourable members in the other place, nobody in that place or in this place has decided to ask any questions of the advisers in order to check their own views about the position. To answer the sorts of questions which the Opposition has raised: Obviously there clearly is a present lack of co-ordination within the various modes of transport, which we all know about; there is consequent frustration on the part of users, and there are complexities relating to the different forms of transport which require attention. As I mentioned in regard to the Tasmanian inquiry, there were clear allegations which ought to be considered by the Commission. We know that the founding fathers decided and recommended that this should be so, and what the Government is doing is putting forward a policy which would be effective. It has been said that if we do this we shall disturb the present State organisations which are advisory bodies, and that there are changed circumstances today as between the time when the Constitutional Review Committee was established or the time when the Constitution was set down. Of course there have been changes. There are more complex decisions to be made, there are more discriminations to be considered, and it is a reason, as I have said, for the Commission to be put into operation.
Senator Guilfoyle referred to, I think, 3 present Acts which she considered might be interfered with by such a commission. In the first place she talked about the Airlines and Navigation Act. That Act is designed purely to establish the maximum safety in respect of airline activities. The Minister for Transport has already said:
I have already referred to our intention to establish a transport accident investigation authority and accordingly it is of course inappropriate to allocate a transport accident investigation function to the Inter-State Commission.
That is one activity which would not be included. In respect of the other two issues which Senator Guilfoyle has raised- I refer to the Airlines Agreement and the related agreement- the Minister has made it clear that they would come within the ambit of the Commission. I point out to senators opposite that if they do not like that they are in a position to amend the Bill if they want to do so. If they do not agree and if they say it should apply only to road transport, they are in a position to move to that effect. I would not consider that the Government would accept it, because we must have a policy related to not only one form of transport but to all forms of transport. We are saying that the use of the Commission in the transport field is precisely in accordance with the announced policy of the Government.
The Commission cannot operate under other powers without further legislation or regulations, all of which are in the power of the Parliament to check. Surely there must be some opportunity for the Senate to proceed with these things immediately. Many aspects of the Bill were raised. Generally, they were matters which might well have been argued in the Committee stage. Both Senator Greenwood and Senator Durack referred to clause 10 and said that they were very concerned at the extent of the powers contained in it. Clause 10 provides:
It is unlawful, in respect of or so as to affect overseas transport or inter-State transport, or in or in connexion with the provision of any service by way of or in relation to overseas transport or inter-State transport, to-
give to any particular person, State, locality or class or kind of transport any preference or advantage; or
subject any particular person, State, locality or class or kind of transport to any discrimination or disadvantage, that the Commission has adjudged to be undue and unreasonable.
That clause must be read in conjunction with clause 9, which states the principle, and I think honourable senators will agree that it is a principle that is consistent with the Constitution. It provides:
All it does is extend; it provides a related and necessary clause to the basic principle of clause 9. Senator Wright is seeking to interject. I suggest that if he does not like that he should allow the Bill to move into Committee and give the Committee the benefit of his arguments. I refer now to clause 13, which has been mentioned by one or other of the speakers. This allows the transfer of powers conferred on other bodies insofar as those powers are made under the provisions of the Constitution relating to trade and commerce. Much argument has developed on this, including an argument from, I think, Senator Greenwood, who talked about the use which might be made of powers in, for example, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. He referred to the position of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. He should know that the general powers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rely upon the very special constitutional basis provided for in section 51 (xxxv) of the Constitution, and he will also know that this is not a provision of the Constitution relating to trade and commerce. Senator Wright is again seeking to interject. He will have his chance to speak.
– You are putting forward such nonsense.
– The honourable senator will have every chance to argue the constitutional views. I am putting forward an answer, and he will give me the privilege of stating in reply what I think are answers. If he wants to argue the matter in Committee, he can do so. I know it is hurting him. I know that he does not like to be reminded of his previous activities supporting an Inter-State Commission, and now he is not anxious to have one. He wants to emasculate the Bill. When the matter is debated in Committee there is no doubt in my mind that he and other senators opposite will make sure that there are no strong provisions except anti-union provisions. That is my view, and I think it will be found that I am right.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– As I indicated in the second reading debate the Opposition will move- I do not formally move a motion yetthat we report progress until the first sitting day after August. I am doing it in this way because, as I understand standing order 281, the moment I move a motion it must be put without debate. I indicate to the Minister that, as he may wish to reply, should he seek leave it certainly will not be refused on this side. Although I do not wish to canvass all the reasons for moving the motion that I will shortly move, which I think were put for the Opposition yesterday, and I do not want to get into one of those interesting political arguments in the Committee stage, I point out that one of the simple facts is that a number of State Premiers have said that this Bill has or could have an enormous impact on them.
I said in my speech during the second reading debate that we would not oppose the Bill being read a second time, and that motion has just been carried on the voices. Without necessarily accepting in totality the proposition that the Senate is a States House, this place was set up to bring a balance between the States. It was set up so that the numbers generated in the other place from Sydney and Melbourne would not control this nation. Therefore those of us who come from the less populous States in particular have a duty, when a request comes from our colleagues in the State parliaments that they want some time to consider the legislation, as far as possible- I put it in those terms- to accede to that request. That is not to say that there is not an obligation on our colleagues in the States to move as rapidly as they possibly can to satisfy any queries they may have about it.
If this were not such an important Bill I would not be moving for its deferral. I am doing so because of the Bill’s importance basically to what may be termed the social and economic structures of Australia. The Bill may well alter the balance of power between the Commonwealth and the States. When legislation is introduced, often it is not known what will be the ultimate effect in years to come as between the Commonwealth and the States. Often quite innocuous legislation which is introduced into the Parliament has, in the ultimate, changed the balance of power and responsibility as between the Commonwealth and its constituent pans. It is for those reasons that I now move:
That the Temporary Chairman do report progress and ask for leave to sit again on the first sitting day after 1 August 1975.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) Mr Temporary Chairman, I seek leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– For the reasons which I stated when replying to the second reading debate, it seems to the Government that the opportunity has been available to the Opposition to prepare itself to debate the Bill forthwith. I remind honourable senators that the Bill was introduced in the other place on 9 April 1 975 and it was introduced in this chamber a month ago. The issues that might be involved in debating the Inter-State Commission Bill are well known; they are well founded in the Constitution. The requirement to set up the Inter-State Commission has been demonstrated by many decisions, including the decision of a committee which I referred to and on which Senator Wright sat. It recognised the need then for the establishment of the Inter-State Commission. Since that time, as a result of many of the Senate’s own activities, the requirement for the setting up of the Inter-State Commission has been established. The Opposition accepts the fact that it has taken the Government 2 2 1/2 years to bring forward a Bill which it felt might be acceptable to the Parliament. Whether the Parliament accepts the Bill is another question. The question at the moment is whether it will refuse to deal with the Bill in a manner which is, I think, speedy and reasonable.
We do not think it is reasonable that the matter should be delayed for 3 months. Accordingly we will oppose the proposition and divide the Committee on it.
That the motion (Senator Withers’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Senator G. S. Davidson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Committee have leave to sit again on the first sitting day after 1 August 1975.
– I would just indicate that the Government opposes the proposition but, in order to save time, we will not divide the Senate on the issue. We simply want our opposition to be recorded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16 April on motion by Senator Wiilesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-After a false start on this Bill about 48 hours ago, I am glad that at last it has come before the Senate. The Opposition does not oppose this legislation. We realise that the amendments which have been proposed by the Government in the Bill are the result of a compromise within the Australian Labor Party. We are well aware that the left wing of that party wishes that all United States bases in Australia be abolished. We are pleased that the more responsible elements in that Party imposed their will and that the United States bases remain. The legislation does not to any major extent and only to a minor extent alter the reality of the situation that has existed since the base was established. If the Bill placates the left wing of the Labor Party, we are not going to quarrel with the measure. If it satisfies some nationalistic feelings within Australia, we are not quarelling about that, either.
The Minister pointed out in his second reading speech that the Bill provides for 3 amendments. An amendment to article 1 of the agreement provides that the base will be jointly operated. An Australian Deputy Commander has been appointed, and he has been on duty since, I think, July of last year, I point out that Australia always has had a naval officer at the base. This is a more senior officer who has a more senior appointment. We do not quarrel with that change.
An amendment to article 2 limits United States control to the exclusive occupation of a national room. As one who has visited the North West Cape base on many occasions, I know that the reality of the situation is that the base always has been open to the general public except for the national room, which always has been exclusively for only United States naval personnel, and that arrangement operates for very good reasons. Therefore, in fact, little change is being made in that situation. The only change is that the amendment provides that there shall be also an Australian national room. The facts were that if Australia required- it was seldom required, because of the nature of the base- to pass messages to Australian vessels, it always could do so. We now have a national room of our own. We are not quite clear about what that means, but if it satisfies the Government and it placates the opponents of United States bases, we have no quarrel with it.
The third amendment is an amendment to article 14, which limits the Australian financial commitment to the cost associated with the location of elements of the Royal Australian Navy at the station. We understand that there will be a contingent of about 47 officers and men there as from the end of June 1975. That, in itself, does not alter the situation in the slightest. I think I can say that the amendments proposed in this legislation have failed to stir either our patriotic fervour or our opposition. We have a Deputy Commander at the base, and that is well and good. Our only concern is that the base should retain its operational functions as an important link in the United States naval communications network. The legislation does not in any way alter that arrangement or weaken the importance of the base as part of the United States naval radio network.
– It still has exclusive right of occupancy.
– Indeed, as Senator Wright has reminded me, the United States still has exclusive use and occupancy. If we do not see much good in the legislation, we see no harm in it. The changes being brought about by this Bill are quite insignificant having regard to the major operation of the base, and therefore the Opposition will not oppose the legislation.
– I enter the debate only because I interpret this agreement as being indicative of a maturity of relations between a small power and super powers. In considering the history of this country of ours, we could go back to the days when Great Britain adopted an unduly paternalistic attitude to what was then known as the British Empire. Similarly, during the Second World War relations between the United States and Australia doubtless were of a very high standard. However, when what was known as the Cold War era developed, there was a tendency to be with either the goodies or the baddies, and if people in what constituted the Western democracies- countries like Australia and Canada- had the temerity to question detail about the super powers, their loyalty could have been in doubt.
I know that Senator Sim is a very assiduous student of international affairs, and he would know that back at the time when Lester Pearson was Foreign Minister of Canada, there was a gradual realisation that everything that Washington said was not right and that sometimes second thoughts were better thoughts. Senator Sim has referred to the attitude of the Australian Labor Party, and, if he is fair about the matter, he will agree that in any of the major parties there always are people who are not prepared to accept anything at face value. Further, in the reminiscences and memoirs of American Presidents from President Truman on, we find that often there has been extreme doubt about decisions those Presidents have made. I think that President Kennedy, a President of stature, indicated in his revelations that Presidents of the United States of America have had occasion to keep their defence chiefs on a tight leash, in the same way as Prime Ministers of Australia have had to do.
I remember a famous fiction story in the Saturday Evening Post’. It dealt with a possible nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a stage was reached where only about 5 people were left. The story went on to enumerate the countries that had gone by the board. I think all of us agree that whatever is contained in this Bill is linked with all the various other treaties concerned with nuclear warfare, and the plain fact of the matter is that Australia has been agitated about nuclear weapons. I think even a former Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, had to exercise his sovereign powers about United States nuclear naval craft coming here if there was an element of danger that there could be some serious catastrophe. To the credit of that Prime Minister, he did that. The only difference is that people would applaud that decision, even if it was contrary to United States policy, whereas if a Labor Prime Minister did it, certain people would question his loyalty.
I say quite candidly that the independent attitude and firmness displayed by the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, supported of course by his Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, were examples of mature operations in the diplomatic field. I say that because I think that all of us, in our personal relations, do not like people to tell us only things that we would like to hear. We talk about a family of nations, and I think the present Prime Minister has referred to special relations between the United States and Australia.
I think that the United States likes the representatives of other countries to speak up. It appears that we are to bare our souls today. My mind goes back to something that occurred in the middle years of the Vietnam war. I do not say this as an apology or a confession. I know that people such as Senator Wheeldon and others expressed earlier doubts about the war than perhaps I did. I recall attending a reception at the American Embassy. I suppose people such as myself are regarded as being in the centre of the spectrum of the Labor Party. While I was there I said that I could not see how the Americans could have any success in the war. An American Embassy official recoiled in horror because I was taking that view. One can talk to American Embassy officials in a much franker manner these days without their fearing that you are an ardent Marxist. To me this is all part of the atmosphere. When our representatives sat down with the Americans we indicated that we did not want to be treated as a banana republic.
– We never were.
– Some people in the United States Republican Party designated us as such. It was to the credit of Marshall Green that he put the record straight. The statement that Marshall Green made has not yet been accepted by all members of the Opposition.
I know we entered this debate in a spirit of brotherly love. I only wanted to make the point that the present Australian Government, with its mature relationship in dealing with London, Washington, the Soviet Union and other lesser powers, has proved what can be achieved by conciliation. I know that the new attitude of the Government is no less than that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser). He has made the point that if there is to be a nuclear brawl between the 2 super powers of China and the Soviet Union we could be caught up in the action. Of course we advanced a similar argument that if there was a trigger-happy American admiral and something went wrong and there was a response from the Soviet Union, we could have been embroiled. I know one has to take a calculated risk. You can be out in the cold if you have no alliances. Without unnecessarily rubbing salt into anybody’s wounds, I say that the negotiations for this agreement have been typical of the top level forms of diplomacy that were practised by John Curtin and Dr Evatt are now practised by Edward Gough Whitlam and his Defence Minister Lance Barnard.
– It is not at all surprising that when Senator Willesee introduced this Bill he played it down. It is not surprising that Senator Mulvihill wants to play the issue down. This whole question has a very interesting history. The construction of the United States North West Cape installation was the cause of a very famous photograph. The Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Australian
Labor Party were pictured in the early hours of the morning awaiting their instructions from the faceless men who then controlled the Labor Party and who still control the Labor Party. When this Government came to power there was a great conflict within the Labor Party. I have in front of me one of the headlines which shows what Mr Whitlam said. The headline reads: Base pact obnoxious- Whitlam ‘. He said that in March 1973. More specifically the article states:
The North West Cape Base agreement with the United States was obnoxious, the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, said yesterday. He said the Defence Minister, Mr Barnard would renegotiate the agreement with the US in a few months. No self-respecting government would have entered into the agreement in the first place, Mr Whitlam told a Melbourne Press Club lunch. (The agreement gives the US sole control of the secret radio base for 25 years . . . )
Of course Mr Barnard went to America and came back to headlines of acclamation such as: Barnard wins US base say’ and ‘North- West Cape coup for Barnard ‘. All that took place after Mr Whitlam had had to fight against the procommunist element in his own party. It was said that he had had a great victory. Now, some 2 years afterwards, we are asked to approve the renegotiated agreement. What is now revealed is a great confidence trick which was played on the Australian people by the Labor Party and some of its supporters in the newspapers. To talk of this renegotiated agreement as a coup, as a victory or as something different from what has always been the position is to play on words. We simply have the same agreement as we had before except for a few altered words which do not alter the substance one iota.
If this was an obnoxious agreement 2 years ago, nothing which Mr Barnard secured in Washington makes it less obnoxious now. The smiles of Senator Mulvihill I think clearly reveal that he knows what I am talking about. What has happened is so apparent that there is good reason to try to get this agreement through 2 years after the great controversy of the Labor Party and with a minimum of words. I have referred back to the debates which took place in 1963 when Australia secured the estimable advantage of this base installation centre in Australia. It is an installation centre, but it ties Australia into the complete United States world deterrent system. Australians should be thankful that we are so linked in the United States defence system. What were the principles upon which the agreement was negotiated? I refer to what Sir Garfield Barwick said in a debate on 9 May 1963: let me say something of the broad principles which each government has recognised in the course of negotiations. They are-first, that the agreement and the obligations it creates respect the sovereignty of each.
The agreement did respect the sovereignty of the United States of America and of Australia and nothing which has happened since has altered that position. If it was said by Mr Whitlam that the agreement in 1963 was a derogation of Australia’s sovereignty, as he has said, then not one whit of the agreement has been altered in that respect as a result of what Mr Barnard supposedly achieved in the United States of America. Sir Garfield Barwick continued:
Secondly, that the control of the station should rest with the United States.
The control of the station has always been with the United States and good reasons were advanced in 1963 that it should remain with the United States. The control of the station remains with the United States today as it should, and no amount of words or double talk or deception will alter that fact. It ought to be of great value to Australia that the control of the base does rest with the United States. The statement continues:
Thirdly, that when desired by either there should be consultation between the two Governments as to matters connected with the station and its use.
Obviously a sound and sensible provision. It has not been altered or sought to be altered. When consultation was desired by the incoming Labor Government it was readily accorded the right of consultation and indeed the discussions took place. Sir Garfield then said:
Fourthly, that the Australian armed forces should have the use of the communication services of the station.
That has been the position. It is the position and the so-called renegotiated agreement which Mr Barnard instituted merely emphasises what has always been the position. Sir Garfield continued:
Fifthly, that the Australian Government should not seek to make a revenue profit out of the American establishment, maintenance or operation of the station and that, where possible, it should assist to minimise the cost of the station to the American Government.
There is a nice statement in the renegotiated agreement under which Australia undertakes to pay for the cost of the Australian troops at the station. Is there anything different about that? In an answer to a question on notice which Mr Whitlam gave to Mr Snedden last year the Prime Minister said that the cost to Australia would be $600,000 of which $50,000 was applicable to the cost of maintenance of the Australian forces at the installation and the balance was in terms of pay and emoluments. The contents of the new agreement do not alter the original principle at all. Sir Garfield continued:
Sixthly, that in the establishment, operation and maintenance of the station, the maximum practicable use of Australian resources should be made.
Anyone who reads the agreement which was made in 1963 knows that it contained provisions requiring the maximum utilisation of Australian resources. Sir Garfield Barwick continued:
Seventhly, that, without submitting to the jurisdiction of Australian courts, or compromising its sovereignty, the United States would conform to Australian law and its personnel would observe it.
That provision is not unusual in international agreements in which the forces of one country may be stationed in the territory of another. Certainly it was not part of the so-called renegotiation.
When one turns to the Bill one finds that it seeks the approval of the Parliament to an amending agreement. 1 imagine the Government has brought forward this Bill because the original agreement was approved by the Parliament. It is proper in the circumstances that the people of Australia be informed as to what happened. If anyone cares to look at the Bill he will find that the agreement of 1963 is altered in 3 Articles only- Article 1, Article 2, and Article 14. In this Bill the Government has reproduced Article 1 in full. The only change in the Article as a result of this agreement is the inclusion of these words:
The Station shall be operated by the armed forces of the 2 governments as a joint facility.
Article 2 is altered by the addition of these words:
They are the only words added to a provision which gives the United States exclusive occupancy of the land and which continues the exclusive occupancy subject to those provisions. The third change is in Article 14 which deals with the construction, maintenance and operation of the station being without cost to the Australian Government. These words are added: (other than costs incurred directly by the Australian Government on behalf of its armed forces).
That is all that has taken place. It certainly does not warrant all the claims that have been made. If some pro-communist members of the Australian Labor Party believe that in some way a great triumph was achieved by what the Whitlam Government obtained, they ought to look again at the terms of the actual agreement and wonder whether they, like a lot of other people in Australia, have been subjected to a hoodwinking experience by the Government.
– What about the pro-facists of the Liberal Party? What would they say?
-Members of the Liberal Party are proud of the fact that we negotiated this arrangement in 1963. We are proud to think that it is still continuing. We recognise that there should always be a willingness to join with the United States in the provision of bases such as this one, provided that there is reasonable access and that Australia’s sovereignty is protected. That has always been the position. This great argument over the years that Australia had in some way derogated from its sovereignty was so much political claptrap. It was not sustained by an examination of the agreement. It was a political line to try to win some support. I think that the consequences of what Mr Whitlam said and what Mr Barnard supposedly negotiated in the United States reveal it to be nothing more than political claptrap.
– That important phrase which was added changes the whole concept.
– I think Senator Georges, like everybody else, has been taken in.
– Do you?
-Yes, I think you have. I know what his Party’s platform states. I know what Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard said two or three years ago. The platform of the Australian Labor Party states:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreign-owned, controlled or -operated bases and facilities in Australian territory, specially if such bases involve a derogation from Austraiian sovereignty.
The crucial words are:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreign owned, controlled or operated bases -
– Does not the amendment make the station a joint base?
-No, it does not.
– You have just read out the phrase.
-That is where Senator Georges has been taken in by his leaders. When Mr Barnard delivered his statement to the Parliament in February 1973 he said:
The United States has told this Government that it is willing to enter into consultations and has said that it is prepared to make North-West Cape a joint installation. We will, of course, be examining whether this would be desirable.
A joint installation would involve, I think, in Senator George’s mind, a joint control. Joint control has not been obtained by the Australian Government. If sections of the Australian Labor Party now believe that the Government has secured some form of joint control they ought to look at the words and to have another think. The terms of the agreement as amended amount simply to an assertion that the station shall be operated as a joint facility. I wonder whether Senator Georges would be able to explain what a joint facility is. He may be assisted if I refer to what joint control involves and if I ask him whether he believes that there is now joint control in that sense. I refer to Sir Robert Menzies’ statement in the course of the debate on the original Bill on 16 May 1963. Referring to the Labor Party’s assertion at that time that in some way we lacked joint control or that there was a derogation of Australian sovereignty, he said that what the Labor Party was arguing was a preferring of barren theory to the actual security of Australia. That baffled him. After some experience of how the Government looks after the defence of Australia is should not be so baffling to anybody. He said:
How does that kind of thing fit into the facts of life or the ANZUS concept? Joint control- let me repeat- is not just the power to consult. There is plenty of power to consult. It is a power to veto- a power to say ‘No’ and that is what the Opposition wants to be said to the United States.
– Is that not reasonable?
– It is not reasonable in the circumstances of this installation. It is demonstrated by the fact that Mr Whitlam and the Government have not sought that kind of veto and have expressly said that that kind of veto would be impracticable. So they have chosen a form of words- ‘joint facility’- which simply means that in that part of the base to which the public may go in Pioneer buses the Australian Government may station its troops, but in that area in which the Pioneer bus tourists may not go Australian troops and the Australian Government may not go either. We do not object to that situation, having regard to the role which this installation plays in the defence of the free world of which America is the spearhead. If in some way Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard have been able to hoodwink the left wing of their Party to sustain that proposition, they will find the Opposition willing to support them all the way. All I say is that that is one of those great hoaxes which have been perpetrated upon the people of Australia and upon sections of the Australian Labor Party by politicians who said one thing and did something else. All that the agreement reveals is how little was obtained in the United States. We feel that it ought to be the subject of some forthright comments. We certainly support the Bill but not on the basis that it was a great coup or there was any great renegotiation. In fact the agreement is essentially the same as it always was. It is to Australia’s advantage that it remain that way.
– in reply- Mr President, 1 am glad to hear that Senator Greenwood will support the Bill, because he certainly spoke against it all through his speech. All that happened was that we inherited from the previous Government an agreement to operate a facility at North West Cape at Exmouth Gulf. What we did was to negotiate and to amend that agreement with our friends. Whatever Senator Greenwood says about what should have been done or about somebody saying this, that or the other thing, the fact is that with all agreements you have to reach an agreement, you have to negotiate with friends, and that is what we have done. I know that Senator Greenwood gets very irate about these things. He flies right off the handle. He goes on with his usual vitriol and abuse about what is, after all, a fairly simple Bill.
What we seek to do under this Bill is to amend an agreement which was entered into by the previous Government. We inherited this situation. If we had negotiated the agreement in the first place it certainly would not have been the type of agreement which it is. The agreement embraces the relationship which existed between Australia and America at that time, which was that Australia was a satellite of the Americans, that it never queried anything that they did and that it never offered them any advice even in the field in which we have some expertise in South East Asia. That relationship has been altered, and that fact has been appreciated by the Americans and they have made no secret about it. All this Bill seeks to do is to make 3 simple amendments to the agreement. I think Senator Sim said, in effect that the agreement did not do any good and it did not do any harm. I believe that it does some good. At least it shows now that we are partners with the Americans, and that we can negotiate with them and come down with something which is acceptable.
– You have always had that right.
-I know that Senator Greenwood wants it both ways. He wants to kowtow to the Americans and he wants to do what he did when he was a Minister in the previous Government, that is, to be completely subservient. I know that Senator Greenwood does not like Australia to have a foreign policy which is in some way independent. It is bad luck, but that is what he has got. Even with Senator
Greenwood’s dead hand on any future government, that is what he will have. There is a new relationship between Australia and America, and it is embodied in this Bill. In spite of the ravings of Senator Greenwood, which is not unusual, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. Therefore, I do not think that I have to go into the history of this matter or anything else. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-In view of what Senator Willesee said in the course of his reply at the second reading stage, I rise to ask him whether he will explain what is meant by the expression ‘joint facility’ and how the position has changed from what it was before this new agreement was entered into.
– I thought that Senator Greenwood had studied the Bill; evidently he has not done so. The Bill is a very simple one. It provides for 3 amendments to the 1963 agreement. An amendment to Article 1 of the agreement provides that the station at North West Cape shall be operated jointly, while an amendment to Article 2 limits United States Navy exclusive occupation to a national room and provides for a similar Australian national room. The land use arrangement under the 1963 agreement is amended to reflect the changed conditions of use and occupancy. An amendment to Article 14 of the agreement provides that the Australian Government will meet only the costs directly associated with the location of the Royal Australian Navy at the station, such as salaries, allowances and accommodation. I thought that Senator Greenwood had studied the Bill. The fact is that the station is now being jointly operated by the 2 countries which was not the case under the previous agreement. If Senator Greenwood does not like this, why does he not oppose the Bill? If he does not like the amendments or if he does not think that they go far enough, let him be honest about it. Senator Greenwood spoke against the Bill yet he will vote for it.
– I ask: In view of the fact that the preamble of the Bill states that this agreement came into force on 14 January 1975, what changes have taken place, pursuant to this new arrangement, since 14 January 1975?
– The question that Senator Geenwood is asking me is: What is the day to day operation? I do not know.
– I did not ask you that. I asked you a question.
-I know that Senator Greenwood asked me a question.
– If you cannot answer it, why do you not admit it?
-When we get hate, vitriol and ridiculous statements in a debate I do not know what one can do. Senator Greenwood asked me how the facility works day by day. I do not know. I do not sit up there day by day operating it. I have given a broad outline of the position. I take it that the Department of Defence, which runs this facility, ensures that the spirit of this agreement is being carried out.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Willesee) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 April on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition supports the Curriculum Development Centre Bill. At an appropriate stage I will move an amendment which relates to the membership of the Council of the Development Centre. I wish to make some comments about the form of the Bill which we have before us and about some of the work which we expect to be undertaken by the Curriculum Development Centre in the future. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) stated:
This Bill seeks to establish the Curriculum Development Centre as a statutory body.
We expect that in the future this Development Centre will have the independence that a statutory authority should enjoy. We were interested to hear that the funding for this Centre is expected to be about $2m to $3m a year.
The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), in an announcement on 5 March of this year, stated:
Experience in Australia and overseas has demonstrated the benefits that can accrue to children and their schools from the concentration of relatively large funds and other resources on curriculum development ona national scale.
In Australia each of the State Education Departments has created facilities for curriculum development.
In general, however, these facilities appear to be fully stretched in the production of materials of particular relevance to the individual State, but which have limited use in other States.
There is also a lack of any permanent facility for the exchange of information and ideas between the State curriculum agencies and for receiving and assessing new concepts and developments from overseas.
We find ourselves in support of that last comment. The fact that the Curriculum Development Centre could act as a clearing house for the curriculum development which has been achieved throughout the States is something which we believe would be in the interests of using fully the work that is done by the educationists in the various States of Australia and within the various education bodies. However, we have some disquiet about the fact that the Bill contains many features which we believe are not in accordance with the report of the Interim Council for the Centre which was presented in September 1 974. For this reason we believe that the Bill should be scrutinised by us. We also believe that the way in which the Centre will work in the future should be scrutinised by us, because there is an evident shift from the original concept of the Curriculum Development Centre as outlined by the Interim Council in its report in September 1 974.
I think it was the understanding of many people connected with education in Australia that the Centre would be comparable with the Australian science education project and the way in which that project was developed and used. The report of the Interim Council which was issued in September 1974 reinforced that view by stating that the Centre expected to participate in large State programs mainly in conjunction with the States, the Commonwealth and the independent education authorities. I think that statement has not been confirmed by experience in most recent months, and there is an absence in the Bill of any definite provision for State involvement in education curriculum projects in the future. Unlike the ASEP projects, the State Ministers are not represented on the Council nor does there seem to be any distinct provision for involvement by State education authorites in the future work that will be undertaken.
As they stand, the provisions of the Bill leave open the possibility of centralised national curriculum throughout Australia. We hold the view that curriculum development should remain a State function and that moves to a uniform national curriculum should be resisted. I think that view would be shared by educationists in this country. For this reason I emphasise the clearing house function that we had expected to be undertaken by the Centre rather than the function of developing a centralised national curriculum in the future. It seems somewhat inconsistent to us for a federal Minister for Education to talk about diversity of education and at the same time to argue for what amounts to a centralised nationalised curriculum and to ignore the diversity inherent in separate State operations.
The second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) is somewhat uncritical in regard to large scale curriculum projects in the United States and the United Kingdom. We wish to draw attention to this because there is much educational opinion which is hostile to such packaged curricula and much research indicates that the funds expended have a bitter reputation in the literature. It seems desirable that the function of the Curriculum Development Centre should include provision for constant State co-operation and involvement and not gloss over, as we believe this Bill does, the involvement of the States in the future, because as the Bill stands the States can be bypassed. It seems to us essential that there should be a close relationship in the working capacity between the States and the Curriculum Development Centre if it is to function as the clearing house for the exchange of ideas on curriculum development.
I want to refer to some matters in the Bill which I believe will highlight our attitude to it. If we look at clause 5 of the Bill we see that the functions of the Centre are listed. I refer in particular to clause 5(1) (d) which specifies that the function is-
To collect, assess and disseminate, and to promote and assist in the collection, assessment and dissemination of, information relating to school curricula and school educational materials.
We take no exception to that function because that is the clearing house function that we would envisage as being desirable. We note that clause 5 (2) states:
The Centre shall perform its functions in accordance with any directions given by the Minister and shall furnish the Minister with such reports as he requires.
We find in this clause the ministerial direction of the functions of the Centre. We wonder whether that is the way in which it will best work as a statutory authority in the future to do the work which we would expect it to do independent of ministerial direction. I also wish to refer to clause 6 (f) which states that the power of the Centre is- to arrange for the printing and publication of, and of information relating to, school curricula and school education materials.
That clause is related to clause 46 which provides for the funding of the Centre. We are interested in the publication of the school curricula which would be developed because in this connection we wonder whether it is to work in the way that the ASEP projects were developed and what will be the relationship of publication to the work that can be done either by request from educational bodies or initiated in some other way. The publication of vast amounts of curricula for dissemination through the States, perhaps without their request but funded under the arrangements in clause 7, would seem to us not to be working in the way which the Interim Committee reported would be the means of work and does not find support from us. The other matters that we feel are important are those in clause 7, subclauses (1) and (2) which provide for grants to States for approved curriculum projects but specify approval by the Commonwealth Minister. We believe that greater flexibility for the States in selecting curriculum projects appears more desirable than would be apparent in clause 7, sub-clauses ( 1 ) and (2).
In summary, we think that there could have been some carefully worded provisions which would have provided for full State co-operation and involvement in all activities. We believe that our amendment, which suggests that there should be representation by State Ministers on the Council of the Curriculum Development Centre, could have been one way in which greater co-operation between the State and Federal education bodies of this country would be achieved.
I want to refer to some comments in the report of the Interim Council which was produced in September 1974. It was stated then that the task of the Curriculum Development Centre is seen as being concerned with its development in such areas as resources, sequencing or learning activities, teacher-pupil interaction, organisation of the learning situation and the teachers general approach to children and teaching. Some other matters were referred to on page 5. In particular it was stated:
We express the hope that in the future it will work in conjunction with other agencies by request and in consultation rather than by imposition of curriculum development material which may be produced without request or without relativity to other States and their educational needs.
It seems to us, too, that the involvement of teachers in the process of development is likely to be at least as valuable to them as to the end products of that process. This thought was expressed by the Interim Council when making its report to the Government. We have noted that for the past year or more the Centre has been producing some projects. In the newsletter of March of this year we saw a listing of the 9 curriculum development projects which have been the course of the work in more recent months. We note that some of these have been requested by the Victorian Universities and Schools Examination Boards, the Australian Council for Educational Research and other bodies. We hope that that sort of co-operation with the education bodies will continue and that the Centre does not see itself set up as a body which will originate without consultation or without request.
The workshop which was held prior to the actual work of the Interim Council and the development of curricula also stressed that curriculum development needed to be a decentralised model of operation. This concept of the way in which it would work would have our support. A preference for a decentralised model for development of projects means that the Centre’s role will be basically that of an enabling organisation. We can see a purpose in this role of an enabling organisation which gives an opportunity for curricula to be developed and exchanged throughout the various centres of education. In that workshop the use of the clearing house for ideas and the exchange of views was stressed. I think that comes through quite strongly in most of the literature that I have read with regard to the operations of this Centre in Australia. I hope that this is the way it will work in the future. I note that a variety of attitudes have been expressed by people who have written since the inception of the work of the Curriculum Development Centre. One finds that some writers pose the question as to whether this body could duplicate the work of the Schools Commission. It would be interesting to me to know what relationship there is to the work of the Schools Commission in the Curriculum Development Centre- how they either co-ordinate the work or how they exchange views and information. It seems that there are people who pose the question that some of the activities of the Schools Commission are closely related to the development of curricula and to innovations in our schools. Perhaps some explanation can be given of the way in which these 2 bodies relate to one another.
I suppose it would be expected that in this year I would say something about the curricula that can be developed in Australia for the future of our children so that they are not moulded into the traditional roles- the sexist roles. This has been given emphasis by people who question opportunities in education and who question the role of women in Australian society. I would see the Curriculum Development Centre as having an opportunity in this area to do some national project work- the sort of work that would place emphasis on the fact that it is preferable that a society sees the need to develop to the full the talents and skills of all its people and does not segregate them into traditional roles or limit the opportunities which some of the women of this country may find ahead of them.
Another point to which the Opposition wishes to draw attention, for instance, is clause 46 of the Bill which provides that the Centre may make such charges as it thinks fit for school curricula. We do not take exception to the fact that there will need to be some provision for the sale of its work and for the charges it will make. I would like some guidance as to what approach will be taken by the Centre so providing an information source on curriculum development. Will it be an advisory body to those educational bodies which require information on curriculum development? Will such information be something that can only be provided professionally and come within the ambit of the part of the clause which states that the Centre may make charges for services rendered by it? Will the Centre see itself as an information body which has an advisory capacity and will give to those educational institutions which are referred to it the advantage of the research which it has undertaken? I wonder: With curriculum which the Centre produces, what arrangements will it make in the future for its own curricula to have some copyright or will there be limited access to it in that way? Just precisely what is the way in which the Government has decided that the Centre’s material will be sold? Will there be some attachment of copyright to such material? The Opposition would like to have an explanation of that particular clause.
The Opposition would like to say something about the emphasis on greater community involvement in educational curricula. We would like to think that in the membership of the Council opportunity would be taken to have as wide a representation of interests as is possible. For instance, we wonder whether teachers ‘ collegesand the necessity for those at teachers’ colleges to be close to the development of curricula- are considered as a group which could well find representation. I do not mean representative in the sense of a delegate. I simply mean a person with expertise in the training of teachers and with a recognition of the role which teachers themselves must play in the development of curricula. I should like to refer in relation to this matter to the Karmel report. Section 12 (2) of the Karmel report stated that so often we make no provision for business and industry. Again I draw the attention of honourable senators to the development of curricula in some centres of learning for specific requirements and the need for national curricula development to be undertaken with that sort of objective in some cases. We approach that from the point of view that provision is made in clauses 30 and 31 for experts to be engaged who may be required for the development of particular curricula. The Opposition stresses the point that perhaps those persons with practical experience might be required. The Opposition is interested in clause 3 1 of the Bill. It states:
The Centre may . . . engage persons having suitable qualifications and experience as consultants to the Centre.
This would lead us to believe that it will work in the way that particular projects will have specialised members who undertake that project and these members will be engaged on a short term consultancy basis. In this way the Centre will not have to build up a group of people who are permanently engaged in producing the whole of the curricula which emerges from the Centre. It would seem to the Opposition that the way in which the Australian Science Education Project was presented and developed would be a desirable way for this Centre to function and produce its curricula in the future.
We also welcome the fact that it is recognised in clause 30 that the Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of a State for the services of officers or employees of the Public Service of the State to be made available to the Centre. This concept of secondment of people from the State with expertise also is a desirable way in which to work. I again relate it to the function of education in the States. Those people who actually work in the field need to work with the material and would know the possibilities of it.
I would like to have some information about what evaluation will be made in the future of the curricula which are developed in the centre. I should also like to know whether this evaluation will be made by the same people who create the work, whether it will be done by outside bodies or whether it will be done, of course, by teachers and I suppose ultimately by students. If the Government is talking about a national curricula body it is important that it should have a sound evaluation and assessment of the purpose and the feature of the information as it is used in the classroom. I would be interested to know how this has been done in the past. I would be interested to know how the Government thinks this work will be done in the future.
It has been put to me that this National Curriculum Development Centre will be located in one of the growth centres in Australia. Some concern has been expressed that such a location would make it remote from many of the educational bodies which would be able to offer expert assistance. Again, I would be interested to know, if it is the proposal of the Government that this Centre be located in a new growth centre, such as Albury-Wodonga- or wherever it might be- whether it has thought that that would be the best way in which the Centre could work and whether it would be using the resources of education to the greatest extent.
The other matters to which I want briefly to refer are simply these: It was stated by Professor Evans in the ‘Report on Curriculum Development Centre National Workshop’ in April that considerations of what kind of an agency the Curriculum Development Centre will be involved 3 distinctions: First, that between the broad and narrow view of curriculum; second, hierarchical versus popular methods of curriculum development; and third, projects at the cutting edge versus those involved with large scale change. He states that the task of anyone who would understand and influence curricula is clearly to understand the genesis of such curriculum prescriptions and the extent to which they are controlled by the needs of employers and tertiary institutions, the extent to which the educational philosophy they embody reflects prevailing attitudes in society at large and whether they are responsible in terms of what is possible for schools.
It seems to me that those thoughts of Professor Evans are important as we look to the future work of the Centre. It has some bearing on our attitude with regard to the composition of the Council itself because unless those things are given the emphasis which would be desirable in the educational process, it could be that the development of curricula may not have the practical purposes and be the accessory and facility to education that the whole concept may have envisaged. The Opposition supports the formation of the Curriculum Development Centre. At the appropriate time I will be moving an amendment which was moved in the other place and which relates to the membership of the Council of the Curriculum Development Centre.
-I rise to support the Curriculum Development Centre Bill. I am glad that the Opposition in general agrees with this principle to establish the Centre. The Interim Council for the Curriculum Development Centre has done valuable work since July 1973. Its report issued in 1974 outlined some of the work it has done, but what is more important it outlined suggested plans for the future, all of which I think are very desirable. The desirability of this Centre with its coordinating functions, with its innovative functions, with its information collecting and distributing functions has, I think, been recognised in other countries which like ours have a multiplicity of educational authorities and systems. Valuable assistance has been given in other countries by such groups as the National Schools Council in the United Kingdom, the Nuffield Science Project and various projects in the United States which are federally funded and which have aided teachers and pupils in many fields.
The previous Government in this country recognised the necessity for this sort of thing when it helped the Australian Science Education project and other projects in Asian languages and in social science teaching. I believe this has been part of the evolution of such a Centre as this Centre. As has been mentioned by Senator Guilfoyle, many of the States have various sorts of curriculum development centres dealing with teaching material, dealing with the development of curricula but mainly, I think, concentrating on the development of teaching aids. So much is happening here and overseas in the field of education that the development of such a Centre to act as merely an information gathering and coordinating Centre, the clearing house function of which Senator Guilfoyle spoke would alone seem to me to make the development of such a Centre justified. In fact, those of us who use our own excellent resources centre in the Parliamentary Library, will realise how such a Centre as that proposed could assist teachers, particularly teachers in outlying areas.
It always seems to me to be unfortunate but inevitable that in respect of any Australian Government initiative like this, fears will be expressed that we are trying to develop a central dictatorship on curricula in this country. Senator Guilfoyle touched upon this and indeed letters that I have received have expressed such fears. The fear is that we will have a bland and a sort of uniform conformity in curricula in this country. I do not believe that anyone can accuse this Government of having such an aim or such a philosophy. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) frequently oppose such a concept, and we have espoused at various times the development of regionalisation of educational facilities. I think anyone who knows or who has spoken to the Minister particularly and to the Prime Minister would realise that such a thought would be as abhorrent to them as it is to me. The Interim Council, I believe, expressed its disapproval of such an over-centralised approach when it said at page 4 of its report: . . there is a need to distinguish between the development of prototypes and demonstrations of possibilities on the one hand, and taking decisions on curriculum policy on the other. The former is a task appropriate to the Curriculum Development Centre and the latter is the responsibility of such agencies as State Departments of Education, schools commissions and the schools themselves.
And I might add, the parents. I think everyone on this side of the Senate agrees with that, and that is the intention of this Bill. If the State governments, if the schools, if the teachers themselves abrogate completely their responsibility to curriculum development, only then would there be a risk of this overbearing conformity and rigidity developing. I do not think anyone can seriously suggest that that is likely to arise out of this Bill. I believe that the functions outlined in clause 5 of the Bill provide in their diversity options for the Centre and its Council to be innovative and to assist others to be so, and more important to assess properly the results of their own and others’ work. I would hope that the evaluation and the analysis of ideas from overseas and at home is a function that is utilised in proportion to its importance because the impression has been given- I must say at times to methat schemes have been adopted from overseas without considering the conditions in which they were developed or at times without any concept of the results of the schemes in those other places where they did develop. I believe adequate evaluation of such innovations together with a proper explanation to parents and a proper preparation of teachers is essential before we start experimenting in introducing new curricula ideas.
I would like to join with those on both sides of the Senate who, I am sure, would urge the Minister, as did those who participated in the debate in the other place, State Ministers and other authorities to ensure that the very flexibility of approach in the concept of this Centre is carried right through and that those who are employed at various times, who are commissioned and who are supported by the Centre are not merely what one may loosely call academics and theorists, and that sufficient emphasis is given to the importance of practical teachers and to parents at all levels and to others who may be interested to have their skills and ideas utilised and evaluated. Since we have stopped, in most of our state schools and private schools, steering children rigidly into a sort of academic and technical type school in 2 streams, since we have stopped putting children into these streams and giving them little hope of getting from one to the other, I think the lack of curriculum development and curriculum assessment in many schools and in many systems has left the non-academic child, the child who is not going on to matriculation, the child who is not going on to university, in a sort of educational no-man’s land.
There are many children- I think it applies to most children- who for reasons of intellect, environment and psychological and other reasons do not proceed to matriculation, colleges of advanced education or to university level, are left doing courses which in some States and in some schools are merely watered down versions of the academic level courses. This may have been brought about because the curricula in the schools in the States are developed by people who are of their own nature academics, people who have had academic training and who have been to university. I think this has in some ways been aggravated, certainly in my own State, by the raising of the school leaving age to 16 years. This has left children doing watered down versions of academic courses- the same subjects but at what is considered to be a slightly lower level. These courses seem to the pupils, to the teachers and to others to bear no relation to the outside world, to the realities of the world in which they live or into which they are going to graduate. I believe that teachers recognise this; children certainly recognise it; parents recognise it, but to me authorities do not recognise it. I hope that such a Centre would give full support to the development of new concepts in the training of these pupils and in the development of curricula for these pupils, so they will see some relation between the school and the world at large and they will be better equipped, I hope, to cope with the world at large when they leave; better equipped to cope with everything they come up against, from the blandishments of advertisers, I suppose, to the importuning of finance companies, to the duplicities of politicians and everyone else and even the perfidiousness of nature itself.
– Labor Party advertising.
– Liberal Party advertising too, senator. I think we would probably all be better off if advertisements for both parties could be assessed more correctly. I think the Council of the Centre, the staff and its grantees must not become a further prop to the ivory towers which we seem to have in abundance. I certainly think that they must not become a haven for senior administrators or an avenue in which to promote people sideways. I have a fear that if the Opposition’s amendments are carried this may occur. I think there must be a place for the innovative, the idealistic and practical teacher. The aim described in the report of the Interim Council for the Curriculum Development Centre is to relate education to the needs of the individual. I think that provided the Centre is retained with this flexible approach, provided that it does not become a rigid conformist centre of propaganda to produce curricula that every child in the country must swallow daily in large doses, it can develop useful and very important concepts in the education of our children. If it can take one small step towards changing the rigid approach to education that some of us knew, and perhaps few of us overcame, it will do more for the children of this country than many similar provisions. I support this proposition. I do not support the amendments but will leave discussion of them until the Committee stage.
– The Senate is debating a Bill to establish a Curriculum Development Centre as a statutory authority. It is with considerable pleasure that I realise that we of the Opposition are able to support the Government in regard to this Bill. Anything pertaining to education in our community is of immense importance and if we are basically of a similar view it is something about which we should be nothing but pleased. The functions of the envisaged Curriculum Development Centre are suggested to be: To undertake curriculum development tasks and to develop teaching and learning materials for use in schools; to commision and support curriculum and materials development; to display equipment and materials; to publish assessments and information about equipment and materials; to provide advisory services relating to curriculum and materials development, and to arrange the printing and marketing of materials. That is a wide field of research and it will involve proper correlation in many fields hopefully to produce curricula which will tend to improve the educational capacity of schools, universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges throughout this country.
While we on this side certainly support this Bill, I believe it proper that in the course of this debate we make a few observations which could be of some value to the Curriculum Development Centre in its efforts to achieve its various objectives. I suggest that it is immensely important that such centres should concern themselves not only with the standard of education as represented by some sort of technical achievement, whether it be in the academic field, the professional field, the technical field or what have you. I believe that a development centre should concern itself not only with the establishment of specific technical standards but should regard with great importance the relevance of education to the society and the community about us. This is one of the areas of education which perhaps has not received the accent that it should receive. I refer to the relevance of the educational system to the socio-economic society in which it finds itself. Let us make it clear through our curricula that the purpose of education surely is not purely and simply to enable students to reach points where they have through diploma, degree or whatever achieved a meal ticket. Let us hope that the curricula of Australian education will be such that when people have passed through it they have developed their capacity to assimilate facts, to think logically and to come to conclusions that are of real value to a free society. That is what education is all about and I hope that the Curriculum Development Centre envisaged will contribute to bringing that sort of reality to education in Australia.
It was the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament, Mr Malcolm Fraser, who, when Minister for Education in the previous Government, provided for the first time Commonwealth financial assistance in this area of curriculum development. Under his auspices and the auspices of the Government of which he was a member, there was established the Australian Science Education Project, the program to stimulate the teaching of Asian languages, and the National Committee on Social Science Teaching. Therefore I believe it is a perfectly logical and necessary step for us to take as an Opposition if we join the Government in what we have before us, the establishment of a Curriculum Development Centre in the form of a statutory authority.
There is some query, I suppose, about the extent to which this Centre should involve itself. Originally it was conceived that it should concern itself with education from pre-school to post secondary education inclusively. I would imagine that this is properly related to some sort of totality in the area of education. It is my understanding that the Bill concerns itself only with that area which lies between pre-school and post secondary education. This may or may not be a good feature of the Bill. The Centre will, among other things, lend itself to the development of prototypes and demonstrations in the course of education. This is a proper and necessary field in which we need a central authority able to assimilate the results of research relating to a quite widespread area of education in Australia. As for taking specific decisions, we believe that the significance of this Curriculum Development Centre must remain virtually as a well-informed liaison type advisory authority. In that form it can be- I believe it will be- of real value to the Australian educational scene.
I believe that the Centre should be seen to expand and encourage curricula development wherever it may occur throughout Australia, expanding it and giving it impetus. In bringing together this widespread research it may well come out ultimately with constructive development, with constructive curricula that are of real value. I emphasise the need that I believe exists for a proper measure of teacher involvement in this sort of circumstance. I say that because I believe it would be a dangerous circumstance if curriculum development in the Australian scene were to become too dependent on the assertions and findings of the purely academic. I think it would be a dangerous thing indeed if we were to find curriculum development dependent almost totally on the findings of somewhat ivorytowered conceptions, because the danger that confronts us is that many of the theories and attitudes that are produced so simply and so perfectly, closeted away in some study atmosphere, seem to fall down when they come out into the laboratory of the outside world and come into conflict with human nature and all the problems that human nature has for all sorts of theories. Consequently, I think it is important that as we think of this Centre it should involve itself with teachers themselves who have, I believe, a very real contribution to make on one or two sides.
I believe that the involvement of teachers in curriculum development is of importance because they, probably more than most people, can contribute to curriculum development a real knowledge of classroom atmosphere and of human nature, with which a curriculum has ultimately to come into contact and against which it ultimately will be judged as being successful or not. So the involvement of teachers is an immensely important involvement. Not only that, I suggest- it is in some form of corollary or like circumstances- the involvement of the teacher in curriculum development must be such that it intensifies the determination of teachers to be effective in moving their particular message to their pupils. If they are involved in the development of a curriculum, it is reasonable to assume that they will have a very pertinent interest in moving that curriculum, that particular area of education, to the pupils whom they instruct. Even more than that, I believe that the involvement of teachers in this way may well contribute to a greater measure of job satisfaction, which after all is just as important to school teachers as it is to any other member of the society in which we find ourselves.
I emphasise that I believe the important role of the Curriculum Development Centre is that it should act as a type of liaison officer to enable and to implement exchange of experiences in research, demonstration and teaching wherever they are found in this country and, indeed, beyond it. If it can effectively become the correlator of the experiences from a vast field, it is reasonable to assume that the sort of curriculum that will be developed by this Centre will have a real relevance to the community in which it is being practised.
I want to emphasise in closing one or two matters with regard to a curriculum development centre which I believe are important. I believe it is important that the centre should have a real liaison, a real measure of attachment, with the Australian States. I believe that is important, if for no other reason than that it should be thereby certain that the Centre will not become some form of Canberra-based bureaucratic dictatorship in the educational world. I feel sure that the Government, together with ourselves, would strongly resist that type of occurrence. I certainly hope that it would resist it. I believe that this Centre, if properly developed, must tend to bring a greater measure of diversity to education because of the involvement- and I believe it must involve- of teachers and, indeed, pupils and parents. There must be an across the board involvement if we are truly to arrive at a curriculum that has real relevance to the society in which it finds itself.
It is important also that we avoid, in the establishment of this type of centre, the possibility of building twin operatives, as it were, of duplication in expenditure and in effort, in establishing curricula for the Australian scene. I emphasise also that in the development of curricula it is necessary for them to be related to an everincreasing mobility in the Australian scene, in the Australian public. Curricula must be related to the fact that we are living in an age where mobility between job and job, State and State, and indeed nation and nation is constantly increasing, and any curriculum development centre must be aware of this fact and must concentrate its efforts to a point where it can in some measure solve those problems of mobility.
I think perhaps a word of warning is necessary in reference to the Centre’s involvement in printing, manufacturing and distributing or retailing educational material. I believe it is proper that it should have the capacity to do this, but I would hope that it would not be seen as likely that it should ultimately enter into some sort of privileged competition with the various manufacturers and distributors of educational material. With those few words, I indicate once again that I support this Bill. I believe it is an intensely important measure and, if it is possible to obtain through amendment some extra form of State involvement, some breadth to this particular development centre, I would hope that that, too, may come about. I support the Bill.
– The Senate is debating in a very agreeable and ecumenical fashion the Curriculum Development Centre Bill. It is a pleasure to support the Bill and to indicate that I believe that the amendments to be moved at a later stage by Senator Guilfoyle will strengthen the ultimate purposes of the Bill, and they deserve support. I believe the Curriculum Development Centre will be an important Centre, that the initiatives which it will enable will be important, and that it will enable us to innovate, to experiment and to encourage diversity in the development of curricula: I say this as one who has been a teacher, even if only at the tertiary level, but one who, even with the very poor curricula available to him, has seen one of his pupils make it into the Senate, even if on the wrong side. I would like to direct a couple of comments towards the basic aims of such a centre.
The Curriculum Development Centre should achieve some aims in terms of the educational achievement of Australian school pupils. Indeed, it is only in the belief that the establishment of such a centre will have beneficial effects upon children at school that the Government can justify the creation of such a centre or its continued funding. The Government believes, and has stated on a number of occasions, that money resources are likely to be converted into educational achievement of some kind. I just sound the warning that there is evidence that that is not necessarily so.
I draw the attention of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) to the book entitled ‘The Renewal of Australian Schools’ in which J. P. Keeves has written a chapter concerning the actual educational achievement of some of the Catholic schools in Australia. The point he makes is that the Catholic school system, working with fewer resources in the way of teachers, fewer physical resources, larger classes and poorer assistance in terms of curriculum material, was achieving better results in terms of educational output than was the State education system. So we have just got to be careful about assuming that money resources, attractive as they seem to be, will necessarily be converted into some kind of educational output at the end of the line. It is argued in the book to which I have referred and in the chapter which I mentioned that if we do increase the resources available to some of these schools- for example, those in the Catholic system- which are disadvantaged as regards their physical facilities what we might end up doing is in fact widening the educational gap, because this school system seems to have some secret, having nothing to do with physical resources, which leads to good educational performance. What we eventually want is not just better curricula and not just better schools but better performance by students. That is what the Government should be’ seeking at all times. For that reason whatever kinds of programs it brings in, whatever kinds of centres it starts, it has to have proper evaluation procedures to know whether something like a curriculum development centre is doing anything worthwhile or whether in fact it is doing nothing more than providing salaries for people producing materials which in fact may be doing very little in terms of educational impact.
There are some problems attached to a curriculum development centre which I would like to highlight just briefly. They have already been mentioned, but they deserve further emphasis. The Curriculum Development Centre will duplicate existing State facilities. Every State at the present time has a centre for curriculum development. It was interesting to see in the Minister’s second reading speech the comment that these centres are fully stretched at the present time and that it was mainly on that justification that the decision was taken that there should be a formalisation of the structure of the Commonwealth Curriculum Development Centre. That may be fair enough, but it may not be sufficient because it may be necessary to give some further support to the States to allow them to strengthen their own curriculum development branches and to carry out what has been stated so blandly in the speeches in the debate, namely, that we want to see diversity and that we want to see the maximum experimentation possible. Give the States a chance. If their resources are fully stretched they should be increased in their own curriculum development procedures.
The other problem which seems to be arising is that wherever the Commonwealth and the States want to work together on curriculum development there are problems in reaching satisfactory agreement. There appears to be some Commonwealth intrusion into the field of curriculum development which some of us fear is going to be progressive. I note that when a project was mooted to deal with the provision of social science educational materials, contractual arrangements were made between the State and the Commonwealth for a joint effort, but that was only after prolonged argument and negotiation. There has already been evidence of some difficulty in reaching agreement between the States and the Commonwealth as to how these projects should be operated. I hope that the Commonwealth, which holds the power of the purse, will not always impose its will on the States as many people in the States fear. The thing that worries us is not the idea of the extra help that the Curriculum Development Centre can provide; it is the possibility that we may see the bypassing of the already existing State curriculum development branches.
I am reminded that in Great Britain- Senator Grimes mentioned the situation in Great Britain -the National Schools Council has a similar function, but the approach to it seems to be quite different. The National Schools Council, which has the executive, financial and general overview control of education, has elected to decentralise curriculum development. It has elected to emphasise diversity by setting up not one but a whole number of curriculum development centres in England to encourage local regions to do their own curriculum development, without being bound by a central body, to emphasise and maximise local autonomy. I just mention the English model. It is possible for the same kind of thing to operate in this country if the Government will make a commitment to the strengthening and continued operation of the State branches already in existence.
I am delighted at the opportunity for curriculum diversity which is being offered to us. I might mention- Senator Douglas McClelland will be interested in this-that in the area in Sydney in which he lives I recently had the opportunity to visit the Port Hacking High School which has an extremely innovative and original scheme. It is a core program which involves the use of social science projects. Here we have an example of the headmaster, Mr Harold Goodwin, being able to develop a program which is locally relevant and which has involved the children of that school in a whole series of exercises which they are embracing enthusiastically, which mean something to them and which are being related to a number of activities in the area in which the school is situated. To me that is diversity in curriculum development. That is the kind of local autonomy which I want to see- where a school principal can identify something which is relevant to his area and will be allowed to put it into operation.
I would also remind the Minister that in Kogarah, the Marist Brothers College has started another experiment with an innovative curriculum. Brother Barry Lamb has established a separate little annexe to the school. He set it up in the local School of Arts. He has modified the normal school curriculum. He has taken a group of boys who were not doing well in the normal, rigid school situation. He has given them freedom and a flexible curriculum and the result has been that they are now improving their school performance; they are improving their motivation; and they have been encouraged to go back and become involved in achievement in the kind of education system in which we work.
If that kind of thing can be encouraged and continued then I will be well satisfied. If the Curriculum Development Centre will enable that kind of program to carry on then we will all be well satisfied. But we are concerned that it could be the beginning, ever so insidiously, of the imposition of a national school curriculum. If that happens and if we have the imposition of a grey kind of educational uniformity, that would be a great pity. Education in Australia today is already too highly centralised. If our system is compared with other systems around the world it is seen that we do have a pretty centralised education system. Any effort to impose national curricula or to impose national examinations, or to use the Curriculum Development Centre to indicate what will be taught in different education systems would be unfortunate and would be resisted. Certainly we require more State involvement in curricula development and more State involvement in the resources which are available.
The only other comment I wish to make refers to the multiplicity of bodies being set up in the educational field by the present Labor Government. The function of the Curriculum Development Centre will impinge eventually upon the functions of the Schools Commission. Depending upon the degree to which it extends in that direction, it could even impinge on the functions of the Commission on Advanced Education or possibly on the Technical and Further Education Commission. At the present time we have in Australia a whole series of bodies, each of which is responsible for some educational function. Their areas of responsibility overlap considerably, and there is no kind of co-ordination. I remind the Senate that in Australia at the present time there are some 30 comparatively small bodies and 4 quite major bodies which directly advise the Minister for Education on matters related to his portfolio. They cover a wide range of subjects and many functions, but the 4 major bodies- the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, the Schools Commission, and the Commonwealth Teaching Service- together with the Commission on Technical and Further Education, and now the Council of the Curriculum Development Centre, all exercise functions independently although these functions tend to overlap, and what is concerning many very senior educationalists- this morning I took the trouble to telephone a number of universities to talk to professors of education- is the total lack of any mechanism for coordinating, even informally, the activities of these different branches of Government.
There are inadequate mechanisms proposed to tie up the ends, where the functions, say, of the Curriculum Development Centre will or may overlap the functions of the Schools Commission. The same thing applies when we consider the different functions in post-secondary education and the lack of co-ordination in the grey areas of overlap which are becoming more apparent and which are going to give rise to more tension and more confusion. At present, the only point common to all those groups is the Minister for Education himself, and I would make the suggestion to the Minister representing that Minister that there may be a need for a coordinating body to examine some of the problems that are going to arise from the operations of all these independent groups in what should be an integrated area.
The educational programs being proposed by the Labor Government have been extensive. In the end, they will be sustained in the public mind only if they can be shown to have some effect upon educational achievement. I would like to know that every program being put up by the Labor Government is to be subject to evaluation, not just in terms of whether the service is set up and exists, because that is meaningless, but also in terms of whether it is achieving anything to help Australians to better education, helping them to fulfil their capacities as individuals, and helping them to prepare themselves to live in the present society. Regardless of whether it is a Curriculum Development Centre, a Schools Commission, a Technical and Further Education Commission, or whatever it is, this Government has a duty to offer and present to the Australian people regular evaluations to show that the bodies concerned are actually achieving something. I remind the Minister that already doubts are being expressed whether this Government, with all its good intentions, is getting the return for the dollar that it hoped for in educational terms for some of the quite ambitious and quite original programs it has introduced.
With those remarks, I say that it is a pleasure to support the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre. I hope that the Government will consider a very simple amendment proposed by Senator Guilfoyle which will be discussed later in the Committee stage.
– As the Minister in the Senate representing the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), I am appreciative of the Opposition’s attitude in giving support to this Bill at the second reading stage, although I am aware that Senator Guilfoyle will be moving an amendment in the Committee stage. I think that unanimity of opinion has been expressed in the Senate this afternoon that this step proposed by the Government for the establishment of a Curriculum Development Centre is a tremendous step forward in the Australian educational system.
As has been pointed out, and as was stated by my colleague, Mr Beazley, in his second reading speech when he introduced the Bill in the House of Representatives, the Curriculum Development Centre will be a statutory body and, when fully functional, it is expected that it will be funded to the extent of about $2m to $3m a year. Several matters have been raised by Senator Guilfoyle and Senator Baume, speaking on behalf of the Opposition, and also by my colleague Senator Grimes, but I think it fair to say that the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre is a logical development of the policies of previous governments in regard to the fostering of curriculum development at the national level, policies which have led to the establishment of the Australian Science Education project, to which Senator Guilfoyle referred, the program to foster the teaching of Asian languages in schools, and the establishment of the National Committee on Social Science Teaching.
As was said in the Minister’s second reading speech, the announcement of the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre was made by Mr Beazley in June 1973, and this Bill is the legislative result of that announcement. An Interim Council of the Curriculum Development Centre was established in December 1973, five or six months after the Minister’s announcement, and that body has been under the chairmanship of Professor Evans. I have just been looking at the membership of the Interim Council, and I note that there is a wide cross section of people representative of the educational system throughout Australia who are members of it. First, as I have stated, Professor Evans is the Chairman. He is Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Queensland. The other members of the committee are: Mr Alan Anderson, First Assistant Secretary, Australian Department of Education; Sister Mary Britt, CoordinatorDesignate of Secondary Education for the Dominican Congregation, Sydney, who has since been replaced by Brother Peter Butcher, Director of Teacher Education, Mount St Mary’s College, Strathfield, New South Wales; Mr George Berkeley, Director, Special Education Services, Department of Education, Queensland; Mr Robert Coggins, Principal, Salisbury College of Advanced Education, South Australia; Mr Desmond Davey, Principal, Eltham College, Victoria; Mr Denis Driscoll, Principal Lecturer, Canberra College of Advanced Education; Mr Athol Gough, DirectorGeneral of Education, Tasmania; Mr Rupert Granrott Supervisor, Arts and Craft, Education Department, Victoria; Dr Gregory Hancock, Member, Australian Schools Commission; Dr David Mossenson Assistant Director-General of Education, Western Australia; and Mr John Tozer, Lecturer, Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, New South Wales. Not only has there been a diversity of educationists represented on the Interim Council of the Curriculum Development Centre but I also suggest there has been a wide diversity of representation from the States. If one reads Mr Beazley ‘s reply to the second reading debate in the House of
Representatives, as recorded at pages 1614 and 1615 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 15 April last, I think one will see that to date there has been plenty of flexibility in the recommendations that have come forward to the Minister from the Interim Council.
Having mentioned those matters, I will now refer briefly to some of the points that were raised during the course of the debate. Probably I will necessarily omit one or two points because I realise that during the Committee stage some matters are likely to be raised in addition to the matter that will be the subject of an amendment. I think Senator Guilfoyle first posed questions about how the Centre might operate. I suggest that that will depend very much on how its role is developed by the Council that is appointed, the membership of which is intended to represent a wide range of interests relevant to Australian education. I think that it will speak volumes if the type of representation to which I have referred on the Interim Council is carried through by way of example to the newly established Council.
The functions statement to which Senator Guilfoyle referred of course was prepared by the Interim Council and has the endorsement of the Minister for Education. In respect of State participation, and I understand that the Opposition will be moving an amendment on that matter in the Committee stage, I am advised that the State Education Ministers fully support the concept of the Curriculum Development Centre and also the manner in which it is intended it shall operate. The matter was fully discussed by the Minister for Education with the State Ministers in meetings of the Australian Education Council before June 1973 when my colleague, Mr Beazley, announced that it was the Government’s intention to proceed with the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre. Senator Guilfoyle, Senator Scott, Senator Grimes and, I think, Senator Baume, referred to the necessity for diversity in our curriculum. The basic policy already adopted by the Interim Council of the Curriculum Development Centre is to foster a diversity of approaches to teaching. The Interim Council wishes to encourage curriculum and materials development at local and regional levels as well as conducting projects of its own.
I know Senator Baume during the course of his remarks referred to the large number of curriculum development centres that have been established in England. The Interim Council of the CDC- if I may use that short expression- is very much aware of the practices which are involved there. Reference was made to representation of teachers colleges by, I think, Senator Scott. I have already read out the membership of the Interim Council of the Curriculum Development Centre. Two members of that Council are lecturers in colleges of advanced educationteacher education institutions. The Chairman, Professor Evans, is Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Queensland. The Centre is intended to be an information source in curriculum development. It is intended that it will perform such a function. Interested bodies will have ready access to the Centre’s holding of information which are developed from time to time. Senator Guilfoyle, during the course of her remarks, referred to the relationship that might exist or is likely to exist between the Centre that will be established by this legislation and other educational institutions such as the Schools Commission. This matter was of concern to Senator Baume. He said that doubt is growing as to whether the Government is getting value for the money it is outlaying in all of its diversities, such as commissions, which are being established, as it were, under the umbrella of education. I am advised that working relationships have been established between the CDC and the Schools Commission with a view to effective coordination of effort.
Reference has been made also to evaluation of curricula. It is a general principle of evaluation that summative evaluation- that is evaluation of curricula or of materials that are used in actions -is carried out by people other than those who designed the actual curricula or materials. It is intended that the Curriculum Development Centre will follow this general principle. So far as scope of activity is concerned the Centre will concern itself with education in schools. The term schools’ is rather broadly defined in the Bill now before the Senate. In practice the Centre’s work is likely to cover pre-school, primary, secondary and possibly some post-secondary schooling such as technical schooling. Senator Baume raised the question of the possibility of overlapping and of duplication, but it certainly is not intended that the Centre will duplicate State facilties. It is intended that the Centre will complement and supplement the work that is done by State education departments or other educational bodies. The thing the Centre will do which the States cannot do is foster national projects which will benefit children in all States and in all schools throughout the whole nation. Naturally, as I have said and as I am told, the States support the establishment of such a centre.
Coming down to a more personal vein concerning the area in which I live, Senator Baume mentioned the excellent work that is being done by Mr Goodwin at the Port Hacking High School and by Brother Lamb at Kogarah. I am aware of the type of activity that is taking place in the schools which those people serve and which is taking place in the St George and Illawarra areas of Sydney. I know it is taking place in every other area, in a large number of schools where a diversity of curricula in education is occurring. For instance, my own son who attends a State high school at Blakehurst has a much more diversified form of educational pursuit available to him than was available to his sisters who left school about 4 years ago and who have since gone to universities.
Having made those points, I should like to say that I appreciate the speedy passage that the Opposition has given to the legislation. I appreciate the support that the Opposition has given to the concept of the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre. I realise that during the Committee stage there will be some discussion as to whether the representation of the States should be enlarged. On behalf of the Minister for Education I thank members of the Opposition for the manner in which they have made constructive suggestions concerning this legislation. Their ideas and thoughts will be conveyed to my colleague the Minister for Education and they will be taken into consideration because, after all, education is of vital concern to all Australian children and to the Australian people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
- Senator Guilfoyle is to propose a series of amendments. Perhaps it will be suitable to take clauses 1 to 10 together, excluding clause 3, and then to consider the several amendments.
Clause 1 and 2- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
-As the Opposition has an amendment to clause 11,1 move:
That consideration of clause 3 be postponed until after the consideration of clause 1 1.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 4 to 10- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 1 1.
The Curriculum Development Centre Council shall consist of-
The members of the Council referred to in paragraphs ( 1 ) (b), (c), (d) and (e) shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral as part-time members.
Leave out sub-clause ( 1 ), insert the following sub-clause- ‘( 1 ) The Curriculum Development Centre Council shall consist of-
1 member nominated by the Secretary of the Department of Education;
3 members nominated by the Australian Education Council;
1 member nominated by each State Minister who is a member of the Australian Education Council;
2 members nominated by the Schools Commission; and
such number of other members, not being more than 3, as is from dme to time determined by the Governor-General by notice published in the Gazette.’.
I make this observation: It is of fundamental importance to us that the membership of the Council be representative of the functions which it will undertake in the future. I am not suggesting that it ought to have representatives of distinct bodies. The way in which we envisage the Curriculum Development Centre operating is such that it would seem to us that a very close relationship between State Ministers for Education would be desirable. It is principally for this reason that we have moved the amendment. It will be seen that in paragraph (d) we have specified that one member nominated by each State Minister who is a member of the Australian Education Council shall be a member of the Curriculum Development Centre Council. Earlier this afternoon I said that it is important to us that the membership of the Council should reflect community participation. We believe that education in general has much to gain from the involvement of the community in educational processes. We think it would be in the spirit of the function of the Curriculum Development Centre for these communities to be identified by the participation of State Ministers.
The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), when winding up the second reading debate, said that the State Ministers for Education supported the establishment of the Curriculum Development Centre. I do not challenge that statement, but I say that there is some disquiet among some State Ministers about the way in which it may function and the disparity between the terms of the Bill and the report of the Interim Committee of the Curriculum Development Centre. It is principally at the request of State Ministers that we have moved the amendment which seeks to include as a member of the Council a person nominated by each State Minister who is a member of the Australian Education Council.
If we look at the work which is to be undertaken by the Centre, the functions which it will have in developing projects as a clearing house in field development and in services which it may give to education, it can be said that a representation of the areas which will be using these support services would be desirable. The setting up of a close relationship between the Council and those bodies in the States which will be using the educational curricula seems to us to be sufficient reason to warrant the formation of the Council in the way we have specified. It is not specified in our amendment, but as an observation I note that 2 members are to be nominated by the Schools Commission. Perhaps it would be appropriate to pose the question why there is no provision for the Technical and Further Education Commission to have members nominated to a Curriculum Development Centre Council. It may be that this Bill was drafted before the formation of the Technical and Further Education Commission, but it would seem to me that if the Curriculum Development Centre is to do the work that we hope it would do on the broad range of educational opportunities in Australia it might be broadened to include some representative of the Technical and Further Education Commission. Undoubtedly this person could be one of the members specified in paragraphs (a) to (f). I would hope that that would be so.
I make a contrast of the membership of the Curriculum Development Centre Council with that of the body to be set up under the Trade Union Training Authority Bill, which has shown a recognition of the need for representation of people in the community who would be best able to judge the service which that sort of body could give. Equally I would think that the Curriculum Development Centre Council should have a wide representation. I would like to think that a practising teacher would be on the Council, not as a representative of a body of teachers but as a person with special skills who could make a contribution at Council level to the future functions of this new Centre and to the way in which it will serve the educational processes in Australia. It is for those reasons that we have moved the amendment. I would like to think that it would be accepted by the Government as providing for an improvement to the membership of the Council because it would then be more broadly representative of the areas in which the Council shall use its functions and make its decisions. The Council would have the most broadly based membership that we could find.
-I oppose the amendment, not that I think that it is moved with any ulterior motives or because of any evil intent. I can understand the reason for the Opposition moving it. It wishes to ensure that the States, which are vitally involved in the Curriculum Development Centre and in the application of the curricula developed by that Centre, will be adequately represented on the Curriculum Development Centre Council. I realise that the States are vitally interested and want to keep in contact with the Council. I think we should realise that under the Bill 3 members of the Council are to be nominated by the Australian Education Council, which is made up of the State Ministers for Education. Surely this will give ample liaison and ample reporting between the Council and the Ministers. I would express some concern at the very grave danger of the 6 members on the Council who are appointed by the State Ministers for Education being senior administrators from each State who are sent to the Council to keep watch for their Ministers. I said that during the second reading debate. I wonder whether they are the right sort of people to help develop the innovative programs and the diversity of programs which we want from this Centre.
The development of various forms of curricula teaching aids, etc., by this Centre will be well known. Surely the Centre will be in regular and close contact with the various curriculum development centres in the States. I can see nothing in the Bill to prevent the Centre and the Australian Government from helping and possibly at times funding projects developed by the various State centres. I would not like to see the Council of the Centre become another place where States rights, States jealousies and CommonwealthState jealousies in particular are thrashed out and thus interfere with the development of the functions of this Centre.
The State Ministers have approved of the development of the Centre. I am told by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) that at the meeting of the Australian Education Council before this Bill was written the Council approved of the Curriculum Development Centre Council. As the Australian Education Council is to nominate 3 members to the Council of the Centre, I do not see that the amendment will achieve very much. I think that it could inhibit the functions of the Centre. Also- this is more important- 1 think it could keep off the Council of the Centre people like practical teachers, outstanding theorists, outstanding parents or anyone else in the community who should be represented on the Council. I think that the appointment of administrators from each of the 6 States would keep these sorts of people off the Council of the Centre. For that reason I oppose the amendment.
– I wonder whether I could say a word to correct what could have been a misinterpretation by Senator Grimes of what I meant. I would not like it to be thought I was suggesting that the people appointed by the State Ministers to the Curriculum Development Centre Council should be administrators.
– They probably would be, would they not?
– I would not like to think that that would be so. I think it is fair to say that in the past the administrators have had a great influence on curriculum development. If one goes back 10 years one recalls that it was largely the administrators who would have had a paramount influence on educational facilities, curriculum and all other things. I would like to think that the wisdom of the State Ministers was such that they would not see the specialised work of the Curriculum Development Centre as being administrative work. My concept of State representation on the Council of the Centre is more along the line of having a diversity of skilled people who would be able to give a refreshing and perhaps somewhat localised decision-making power to the work of the Council. If one thinks of the diversity of the 6 States of Australia and of the very different needs of those States for curricula that may relate to the educational processes one sees that it could be desirable to have at the Council decision-making level a cross-section of skilled people who had a more local and general experience.
One thinks of some of the projects that one hopes might be developed, for instance, in environmental education and other things. I think that in the States there are people with skills who, if the State Ministers were able to nominate them to the Council of the Centre, may be able to bring those special skills to the Council and perhaps provide an Australian balance on the Council. With these few words I wish to correct the impression that 1 was thinking of administrative representation on the Council. I do not think that the State Ministers for Education would see that as the representation that they are seeking; rather, in the development of the curricula and the innovations which they hope will be introduced, the Ministers may see some special need for their States to have a voice on the Council.
-Very briefly, I think that Senator Guilfoyle and I entirely agree on this matter. It is just that I have not got the faith that she has that the State Premiers will not send just senior administrators to the Curriculum Development Centre Council. I think that it will be just another job for an experienced senior administrative public servant in their various departments.
– I shall comment only briefly. The amendment proposes a rather dramatic alteration to the numbers on the Curriculum Development Centre Council. From my very quick count there will be a minimum of 16 members instead of a minimum of 1 1 members as proposed in the Bill. I think that those figures are right, although I may be one out. That seems to me to greatly upset any balance on the Council. Surely the people who framed the constituent parts of the Council must have thought carefully about some form of a balance. Surely what is proposed in the amendment must throw that balance, if it was a consideration, right out the window. I cannot imagine that the numbers on the Council were arrived at in a totally haphazard manner. Therefore, it seems to me that to appoint to the Council 6 representatives from the States- one from each State- is to make the Council a State body. That is the way it seems to me if the amendment is looked at in that light. I hope that it would not be looked at in that light. But the State Premiers themselves are turning these sorts of relationships into that area of conflict.
The State Premiers have appointed Ministers to oversee Commonwealth activities, and I am sure that one of the jobs of those Ministers would be to look at this sort of legislation. If they did not do that they would not be fulfilling their function. Therefore, it is not a matter of academic interest but a fact that some State Premiers have set up a ministerial responsibility to oversee Commonwealth activities. Although I cannot recall all the details, recently the New South Wales Premier refused a request for someone within the New South Wales Public Service to be part of some arrangement with the Commonwealth. In the light of the direct and formalised antagonisms which exist, it seems to me that I cannot take the risk of approving of it as one person voting for the amendment. It proposes such a dramatic alteration. If it were a question of adding one member to the Council or something like that it would be a different matter, but it seems to me that what is proposed in the amendment will turn upside down any balance on the Council. I should like to hear Senator Guilfoyle on that point.
– If Senator Hall were to look at clause 11(1) (e) of the Bill he would see that his remarks would be relevant only if he is talking about the minimum number on the Curriculum Development Centre Council and not the maximum number. He referred to the minimum number and I draw his attention to that fact. Paragraph (e) of clause 11(1) refers to not less than four or more than nine other members. In paragraph (d) of our proposed sub-clause ( 1 ) of clause 1 1 we refer to 6 members being nominated by the State Ministers, and in paragraph (0 we refer to there being not more than 3 other members. If Senator Hall is talking about minimum numbers there is some validity in his point, but if he is talking about the way in which clause 1 1 appears in the Bill, there could conceivably be the same number of members on the Council.
– The Government opposes the proposition that is embodied in the Opposition’s amendment. The amendment is in similar terms to the one which was moved by the Opposition when the Bill was before the House of Representatives. The crux of the proposal is the addition to the Curriculum Development Centre Council of one member nominated by each State Minister who is a member of the Australian Education Council. That is set out in clause 11 (1). The other parts of Senator Guilfoyle ‘s proposal are simply amendments consequential on the one to which I have just referred. They relate to clause 3 and to clause 11 (2). As Senator Hall has said, one effect of the amendment would be to fix the minimum number of members of the Council at sixteen. As the Bill stands it permits any differential from 1 1 to 16 members.
As a general comment, I suggest that the measure of support that the establishment of the Centre has had from the States rather tends to answer- certainly at least in part- the point that is implicit in the amendment. In view of the provision already made for State representation on the Council, on behalf of the Government I suggest that the amendment as well as virtually, for want of a better term, stacking the Council would be seen as unnecessary, because clause 11 ( 1 ) (c) provides for 3 members to be nominated by the Australian Education Council. These, of course, would be State representatives. I am given to understand that by agreement with and between the States, the 3 members would represent all States and all States are happy with this sort of an arrangement. Formal representation of all 6 States, under the Opposition’s proposal, would result in the Council being denied a contribution by several expert groups who could be included under clause 1 1 ( 1) (e) with its allowance of tolerance between 4 and 9 unspecified members. This flexibility might be further reduced if representation of the 2 Territories were also added within the total membership of sixteen. If that happened it would mean that only one unspecified place would be left. If all States were represented individually it might be hard to resist pressure for immediate Territory representation. An alternative would be to increase the overall size of the Council to accommodate these additional members, but the Government believes that this should be resisted as it would result in a Council of quite unwieldy proportions.
In any event, the amendment appears to be based on a misconception of the role and nature of the Council. It is intended that the Council should be an expert body with a policy and management role to perform and it would include in its membership people drawn from a range of educational interests. In this type of context issues and debates on State lines calling for individual State representation, the Government suggests, would be inappropriate. It has been pointed out to me that none of the other education commissions that have been established has State representation on the basis that is now proposed by the Opposition’s amendment.
Senator Guilfoyle also mentioned that provision is made for representation for the Schools Commission on the Curriculum Development Centre Council and raised a question as to why the Technical Education Council was not represented. I am advised that the main activities of the Curriculum Development Centre Council are intended to be at school or pre-school level, that the report of the Committee for Technical Education proposed the establishment of a body at the technical and further educational level which would be a body in much the same sort of vein as the Curriculum Development Centre is intended to be at the school level. Admittedly, as I am advised, no decision has been taken on that recommendation of that Committee, but that in short is the reason why provision has not been made for representation of the Technical Education Council on this Curriculum Development Centre. For those reasons the Government opposes the amendment that has been proposed by Senator Guilfoyle.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 3, and remainder of the Bill- by leave- taken as a whole.
– I wonder whether I could have a brief answer to my question which referred to clause 46 with regard to the charges which the Centre may make for its material. I queried whether it would be charging for all services rendered or whether it would be an advisory body. I also queried whether it would have copyright arrangements for the material produced by the Centre. A brief answer would be sufficient.
– I am advised by the officer instructing me that it is intended that the Council will charge only for materials that it is intended will be for sale just as any ordinary publisher would sell an article.
– Will there be an advisory service through the Centre?
– I am given to understand that there will be an advisory service through this arrangement.
– Will it copyright its published material?
– It is intended that it will copyright its publications.
Postponed clause 3, and remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 16 April on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition supports the Bill now before the Senate to form the Technical and Further Education Commission. We recognise that this is the fourth education commission which has been established and we welcome the opportunity that this will give for the funding of technical and further education in this country. We recognise that the formation of the Commission is one of the results of the Kangan report, a very comprehensive report which specified the formation of a commission. We recognise that this Commission is comparable to the Schools Commission in the way that it will relate to technical and further education. We understand, of course, that it is not comparable to the Commission on Advanced Education or the Universities Commission which provide total funds for their areas of education. However, we would want to emphasise that we recognise the need for technical education to have some priority when competing for funds for education in the near future, because it is fair to say that there is need for improvement in many of the opportunities in technical education which we would like to see available to the Australian people.
I want to refer to the Bill which we did pass some months ago, that is, the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Bill. It will be recalled that when we were dealing with that Bill we outlined our attitudes in regard to the means by which technical and further education would be funded under this Bill. It will be recalled too that while we did not deny that Bill a second reading we did express the view that we believed that the system proposed by the Bill for the development of technical and further education imposed intolerable and unacceptable administrative burdens upon the States and their education systems. We further deplored the fact that at that time the Parliament had had no opportunity to debate the Kangan Committee’s report. We also asserted that the provisions of the Bill made extensive use of ministerial discretion and would limit the States in their own educational programs, and we contended that the grants proposed to be made to the States for the purposes proposed in the Bill should be made without being subject to the conditions as were prescribed. At that time we called upon the Government to implement a scheme to grant money to the States for technical and further education that would give the States control of expenditure of such grants and require them to report annually to the Minister as to the manner in which such grants had been expended.
It is appropriate at this time to refer to those attitudes which we expressed when dealing with the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Bill because it is very much a part of the future of technical and further education to ensure that we are not simply duplicating the administration of this form of education. It will be recalled that the Bill had very definite specifications in regard to arrangements for funding, and it was our concern that this would require a good deal of duplication in administrative action and, of course, it would be a means of administratively absorbing funds which otherwise may have resulted in improved quality of technical and further education actually reaching the students.
We note from this Bill that the functions of the Commission are set out in clause 6. It is perhaps in this area that we can see dangers in regard to the detailed functions which are specified for a body at the Federal Government level which relates closely to the States in their administration of education. In clause 7 we have noted that there are requirements in respect of consultation with the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, the Schools Commission and the authorities in the States and the Territories. We welcome that consultation because we believe it is essential that if this Bill is to work where we would want it to work, that is in the areas in which educational opportunities exist, consultation will be required as a means of effective functioning of the Commission.
The provisions in this Bill relating to the establishment of the Commission adopt a similar approach to the other related Commonwealth enactments such as those relating to the Commission on Advanced Education and the Universities Commission. The provisions in the Bill reinforce the power of the Commonwealth to direct the lines of development of technical and further education by recommending or withholding recommendations for financial support. Thus this, in essence, represents another of the areas into which the Commonwealth has moved, areas which constitutionally and traditionally have formerly been State Government responsibilities.
On page one of the Bill ‘college of advanced education’ is defined as: . . an institution or proposed institution that is an institution providing advanced education for the purposes of the Commission on Advanced Education Act 1971-1973.
As colleges of technical and advanced education in some States are engaged in the provision of advanced education courses, this definition would seem to include these institutions. It has been suggested by one State, the State of New South Wales, that clarification of this definition is required. There are also some reservations in that State in respect to the definition on page 2 of technical and further education’. Technical and further education is defined as: . . education provided by way of a course of instruction or training-
In spite of the inclusive nature of paragraph (b) in that definition, there is some doubt in New South Wales as to whether the phrase ‘trade, technical or other skilled occupation’ in paragraph (a) adequately covers a wide range of occupations for which courses are provided in institutions of technical and further education. I draw the attention of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) to that concern which has been expressed by the State of New South Wales in respect of those definitions and would welcome any response that the Government has to offer.
There has been a good deal more interest in technical and further education since the release of the Kangan report and the study that was undertaken in the report. In fact, articles may now be written to say that the charter under that report gives us a new word, that of TAFE- Technical and Further Education Commission- in recognition of this new emphasis on technical and further education. The document which was produced was widely read and of great interest to us. I think that the matters which have been outlined in it can well be used as the blueprint for accent on technical and further education in the near future.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer. It has been drawn to my attention that the salary range for the Chairman of this Commission is lower than that for the Chairman of the Schools Commission, the Chairman of the Universities Commission, the Chairman of the Colleges of Advanced Education Commission; indeed I understand it is in a lower range than that proposed for the Chairman of the Children ‘s Commission. I draw attention to this matter and ask whether those facts as they have been reported to me are accurate. If so, is there any explanation why this should be so? What is the reason behind the thinking that this position should be in a lower salary range than those which apply in respect of the chairman of the other education commissions through which we work.
Again, with regard to this Commission we will be proposing an amendment which we consider appropriate. The amendment again relates to the membership of the Commission. We seek the inclusion of one member from each State nominated by the State Minister responsible for education. Our reason for suggesting the inclusion of a member from each State, nominated by the State Minister concerned with education, is simply that if this Commission is to work in conjunction with State Government programs in the States throughout Australia it would be an advantage to have at the level of the Commission’s work some expertise directly concerned with State governments and their responsibilities in education. For that reason at the appropriate time we will be moving the amendment I have suggested. The Opposition supports the formation of the Technical and Further Education Commission and we wish the Bill a speedy passage. I will move the appropriate amendment in the Committee stage.
– in reply- The Government appreciates, as it did with the Curriculum Development Centre Bill, the speedy passage of the legislation that the Opposition is affording. This Bill represents another very important milestone in the history of education in Australia. The Bill under discussion is the Technical and Further Education Com: mission Bill. As was said in the second reading speech I presented in this chamber on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), the establishment of this Commission will complement the three other commissions that already have been established, the Schools Commission, the Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education.
The Technical and Further Education Commission will give the long under developed area, as we see it, of technical and further education the same sort of assurances in regard to skilled and impartial consideration of the needs of technical and further education that have been given to the areas of primary, secondary and tertiary education. I pointed out in my second reading speech that the new Commission which it is proposed to establish under this Bill will build upon the work already done by the existing Interim Committee which was appointed as long ago as April 1973. The Interim Committee reported to the Government in April 1974 on financial assistance that should be given to the States up until the end of this calendar year. As a result of the passage of this Bill and the establishment of the Commission on Technical and Further Education, the Commission will be a financial adviser to the Australian Government on applications from the States and areas of technical education for financial assistance and support.
I wish to deal briefly with 2 matters mentioned by Senator Guilfoyle in her remarks. When speaking on behalf of the Opposition she said that the current technical education program tends to restrict the freedom of the States in determining their priorities. I think it fair to say that Senator Guilfoyle expressed concern that the new Commission being established under this Bill might have the effect of duplicating existing administrative arrangements. I am advised that in fact the States’ freedom to spend funds as they wish will not be reduced by the passage of this Bill. The Commission’s programs will take the form of additional funds which the States may use if they so wish. Furthermore, there is considerable flexibility under the existing program as to the purposes for which States may choose to use funds. As for the present program, on the instructions available to me the States have welcomed the distribution of funds.
Senator Guilfoyle alluded to another point to which I must make some reference. She pointed out that the proposed salary of the chairman of this Commission is in a lower range when compared with the salary payable to the chairmen of the Schools Commission, the Universities Commission and the Colleges of Advanced Education Commission. Frankly, I respect the point of view put by Senator Guilfoyle. I do not want it to be thought by her or by anyone for one moment that the salary range determined reflects any downgrading in any way on the part of the Government of the importance of this position. As honourable senators will know, the simple fact is that the Government established the Remuneration Tribunal and it is responsible under the Remuneration Tribunal Act for making an assessment of the work value of positions in statutory authorities and statutory offices. Naturally, the salary determined by the Remuneration Tribunal is binding on everyone concerned. I accept the point that Senator Guilfoyle has made. I assure her that so far as the Australian Government is concerned the fact that the occupant of this position will receive a lower salary is not intended in any way to mean a downgrading of the importance of the position. I appreciate the speedy passage that the Opposition has given to the second reading of this very important Bill on education.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-The Opposition will be moving an amendment to clause 9 ( 1 ) of the Bill but we are prepared to deal with the Bill as a whole. I would like some explanation about the definitions which I mentioned earlier. I would be prepared to have the Bill dealt with as a whole if that course does not preclude that question being asked.
– I should have mentioned the matter to which Senator Guilfoyle referred, clarification of some of the definitions in the Bill. She sought clarification of the way in which the definitions in the Bill covered the provision of technical and further education in colleges of advanced education. I am advised that the arrangements agreed upon by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and the Chairmen of the commissions concerned is that all funds that go to colleges of advanced education will flow through the Commission on Advanced Education. However, that part of the funds which goes towards technical education level courses within the colleges of advanced education will be recommended upon by the Commission on Technical and Further Education but the funds will flow through the other Commission for reasons of co-ordination.
My instructions are that this is covered by a combination of clauses in the Bill. My attention has been drawn to clause 6(1) (d) and clause 6(3). Senator Guilfoyle said that the current technical education program tends to restrict the freedom of the States but I already have dealt with that matter in my reply in the second reading debate.
– I wonder whether the Minister could help me a little further in regard to the definitions. In some areas and in some towns, small or large, such as the town I come from, there is a college of advanced education and, because of size, economics and everything else, technical courses are being conducted. Does this mean that these colleges in applying for their grants, or the State in applying for its grant, for technical courses in colleges of advanced education will have to go to this new Commission but will then get its funds through the College of Advanced Education Commission, or the other way around, or why do they have to do both? I am not sure that the definition makes this clear.
– I am advised that, if it is a separate technical education body- a part of a college- the school would make application through the State to the proposed Technical and Further Education Commission. In other words, that is the position if it is part of a scheme within an existing college. But if it is simply one year of a college of advanced education, the school would make application through the college of advanced education.
– I desire to move an amendment to sub-clause ( 1 ) of clause 9, which reads: 9. ( 1 ) The Commission shall consist of-
As with the Curriculum Development Centre Bill, which we dealt with earlier today, we consider that the membership of the Commission is very important because, as the Minister has already said, it is part of the State’s educational program with regard to technical and further education. It would seem to us that there should be at the decision-making level of the Commission a member from each State nominated by the State Minister for Education. We believe that this would give an opportunity to have a commission which was able to deal with the realities of funding for technical and further education, and that such a commission would have an awareness of the programs which the States were initiating and funding as their own responsibilities. To decide that the Commission could have this sort of representation we believe would also point to the difficulties which are envisaged by the States in working under the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Bill.
Whilst the States may have welcomed the opportunity to get additional funds for technical and further education, the analysis of the funding Bill that we had to do showed a predominance of ministerial approval for projects that were to be undertaken, and a great deal of detailed requirement administratively. We envisaged many delays with the States in regard to the fulfilment of requirements by the Federal Government and through to the Commission. For these reasons, it seems appropriate that the Commission itself should have on it members who are aware of the problems which would be undertaken by those people who have to work within the scope of the Bill and the Commission ‘s operations.
If we understand that in the realm of technical and further education various streams of education are involved- and we note that there are the professional streams, the para-professional, the trade, the other skilled, the preparatory and the adult education streams- it would point to the fact that a very wise commission in its membership would be the sort of commission which we think could best deal with the new emphasis that we would like to see placed on technical and further education. For these reasons we have moved this amendment, hoping that the Government will see our reasons as being constructive, will accept the proposed Commission, and will add to the commissioners a member who would be nominated by each State Minister for Education.
– The Government does not accept the amendment that has been moved by Senator Guilfoyle on behalf of the Opposition, primarily on the basis, as I mentioned in reply during the second reading debate, that this Commission that is being established is basically an advisory committee to the Australian Government and to the Minister for Education on how funds provided by the Australian Government, or the Commonwealth, in regard to technical and further education should be spread out within the States having regard to the applications that the States might make from time to time. It has been pointed out to me that, as in the case of the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education and the Schools Commission, the Technical and Further Education Commission should be a working body compossed of experts chosen for their capacity to bring independent expertise to the task of making recommendations about national policies and priorities.
It is suggested that they should be chosen from a range of interests including, in the case of the Technical and Further Education Commission, technical education, adult education, employers and unions. In this context the concept of having official representation from each individual State is felt by the Australian Government to be inappropriate. It has been pointed out to me that none of the other 3 major advisory commissions in education, namely, the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education or the Schools Commission, has the kind of State representation proposed in the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Guilfoyle. The Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education were established when the present Opposition was in government, and that government did not then make arrangements for such State representation. In speaking on a similar amendment to the Schools Commission Bill, my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said:
The making of a mandatory provision that State Ministers will give me a panel of names from whom I must chose people to exercise the prerogative of this Parliament under section 96 of the Constitution is not anything that has been required of any previous government in Australia and certainly is not a provision that our predecessors would have accepted from us.
My colleague the Minister for Education states that there will be ample opportunity for State interests and views to be heard in the deliberations of the Commission, without formal representation of the kind now proposed in the amendment. He points out that at least one member from each State was appointed to the present interim committee- the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education- at the time it was established, and in general it could be expected to be the aim in the future with the establishment of a commission of this nature.
Clause 7(1) of the present Bill obliges the Commission, which is being established by the passage of this legislation, to consult with State educational authorities in the course of its deliberations. Also, my colleague points out that as a member of the Australian Education Council he, the Australian Minister for Education, naturally may expect to receive direct feed-back from State Ministers on progress in technical and further education in each of the States. For all of those reasons, the Government opposes the amendment that has been put forward by the Opposition on this legislation.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14 May.
– This matter was raised last week as a result of a request being made basically to allow the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of Members of the Parliament to extend its sitting time to enable it to complete its report to the Parliament. The message received from the House of Representatives was in these terms:
That paragraph ( 12) of the Resolution of appointment of the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of Members of the Parliament be omitted and that the following paragraph be substituted:
During debate on that matter Senator Hall then moved this amendment:
At the end of proposed paragraph (12) add “; and that the Committee be requested to hear evidence by any senator or member of the House of Representatives who may indicate to the Committee a desire to be heard “ ‘.
We all know that in short Senator Hall’s amendment is related to the reference to the Court of Disputed Returns of the matter involving Senator Webster of the National Country Party of Australia and the decision of the Parliament to request the Government to establish a judicial committee to take into account matters of this nature. I understand that Cabinet will be considering tomorrow the question of the appointment of a judicial committee. Because it is the desire of the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of Members of the Parliament to have sufficient time in which to compile and complete its report, having heard evidence before it, the
Government opposes the amendment that has been moved by Senator Hall. For that reason I would urge the Senate to adopt the motion which has been moved by me on behalf of the Government.
– I would indicate, as did my friend and colleague, Senator Marriott, who is one of the Liberal Party members of the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of Members of the Parliament, that we support the message from the House of Representatives. Senator Marriott quite clearly
PUt to the Senate last week, as I understand what e said, that the basic reason for the Committee asking for an extension of time is really a printing problem. The Committee believes that it has concluded its task under its original terms of reference. The Committee may have had the capacity to complete its report, but we well know that there are problems in getting a report into the proper form for presentation to the Parliament. It was for that reason that Senator Marriott urged the Senate to accept the recommendation from the Committee. Therefore we will support the recommendation from the Committee.
I now turn to the amendment moved by Senator Hall. Without going into personalities, as did Senator Hall when he gave his reasons for moving his amendment, I put it to the Senate that had the Government not agreed to the request of the Senate to set up a judicial inquiry into the whole aspect of this matter there might be some merit in what Senator Hall was seeking. As I understand the position- I am certain that Government senators will correct me if I am wrong- the Government in effect has accepted the view that a judicial inquiry ought to be established to deal with the other matters. I understand that the only other matter remaining is for the Government to announce the person or persons who will conduct this inquiry.
– That is to be considered tomorrow.
-Yes, as the Minister has said, that will be considered by Cabinet tomorrow. The real issue is not in doubt. The only matter remaining to be decided is the person or persons to conduct the inquiry and the method of appointment and perhaps the terms of reference. I am not privy to that information and I would not want to advert to it.
When this matter originally came into the Senate it was our view that, whilst the matter involving Senator Webster ought to be treated in isolation and in no circumstances should members of the Parliament start to indulge in some sort of inquisition of member after member or senator after senator as a result of allegations made, the proper way in which to handle the matter was by way of a judicial inquiry. That is why we moved the amendment to the Government’s motion at the time, and we are still of that opinion. We understand what motivated Senator Hall, but as the Government has accepted in principle that there ought to be a judicial inquiry- the setting up of the inquiry is a matter of the mechanics being gone through in the Executive area, and we have the assurance that the inquiry will be set up- the Opposition will not support the amendment moved by Senator Hall.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. Is there a right of” reply to the mover of an amendment?
– We will give you leave to make a statement.
– If you seek leave of the Senate to make a statement, the Senate will give you leave.
– I seek leave of the Senate to make a statement on this particular point.
– I will put that to the Senate. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Thank you, Mr President. I thank the Senate for its courtesy. I wish to say only a few brief words about this matter. I do not want to inject any heat into the debate at this stage. I would just like to say that I am disappointed that the Government is not supporting my amendment because I believe that if the amendment is defeated it will prevent the continuation of the pursuit of a new turn of events in relation to the pecuniary interests of members of Parliament. I feel that the matters raised by the Webster case have been matters of some principle. Because of the factors which prevented the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of Members of the Parliament from hearing further evidence, those events cannot therefore be properly developed before the Committee, and I am sorry about that. I also believe that other members of the Parliament are not treated in the same way as Senator Webster has been treated.
I remind Senator Withers that whatever the judicial committee does it will not be subject to standing order 386 of the Senate or the comparable standing order of the House of Representatives. Its treatment of any comparable matter would be different from that provided under those Standing Orders. Therefore I still maintain my own support for the amendment which I have moved. However, the curtailment of the taking of evidence by the Committee will in no way prejudice, I believe, the examination of other members of the Parliament who may have pecuniary interests. The matter of Senator Webster is proceeding and, I believe, proceeding satisfactorily Therefore, whilst I regret this matter and whilst I would like to see the Committee pursue the matters of principle raised I will pursue my belief by supporting my amendment in a vote of the House. I do believe that comparable treatment will be achieved and therefore justice will not be denied, although I would like it to be pursued in the manner provided by the amendment.
– The question now is that the amendment moved by Senator Hall be agreed to. Those of that opinion say ‘aye’, those against say ‘no ‘. I think the noes have it.
– The ayes have it.
– We need more than one voice for a division. I have declared that the noes have it.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 15 May on motion by Senator James McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Some days ago this matter was before the Senate for debate and I spoke for some time then on this Racial Discrimination Bill, so let me give a quick resume. I stated then, and I repeat, that this is the type of Bill which should not exist in this country of ours. It is a lot of utter nonsense and rubbish to bring such a Bill before this Parliament in order to inflict it upon the people of this country. To talk about racialism in this country in the manner in which it has been talked about is, as I have said, nonsense because I would say that racialism in this country probably is practised less than it is in the big majority of countries.
What is racial discrimination? Is it discrimination because of the different nationalities of people? Is it discrimination because of the different colour of people? Is it discrimination because some people are not as well off as are others, or because of whatever other aspect we may think of? Much fuss is made of racialism. As I stated the other evening when I was speaking on the Bill, the integration of people and of people accepting and getting to know one another is very much a personal matter. This is particularly so in relation to newcomers to this country. If they speak the language it is much easier for those people to be accepted and brought within the warm human fold of the people of this country. I also pointed out that if we try to talk to and help, in discussions, people who cannot speak the language, the average human being will tire very quickly. Therefore, the matter of accepting one another, getting on well with one another, and of not having discrimination depends in many cases upon individuals. I cited the case of a lady in my own city of Mackay who recently came there for the South Sea Islanders Association Conference. This woman who was of islander extraction, spoke perfect English in a delightful manner. Because of her own personal manner and attitude, she would be the type of person that anyone would be pleased to speak with and treat in a friendly way.
She was intelligent, she was interested in things and so on. This indicates very clearly that, to a large extent, how people are accepted depends on the people themselves. There are good and bad in every race in this world and even within the race of one country- take the people in Australia who are established citizens- there are people we like and people we do not like. Are we to be accused of racial discrimination because we do not like those people? It is a case of personal desires and personal likes, but legislation such as this Racial Discrimination Bill when put into effect, is the type of thing that can cause to develop, in the minds of certain people in this country, an attitude on racial discrimination that can be of a very dangerous character. It is easy to say, ‘Someone acted against me racially’, or That person showed racial discrimination’. Often these things can be in the mind of the accuser, but the big difficulty is for the person accused to overcome that accusation because, having been accused, the difficulty is for him to speak otherwise.
– It is a bit like Whitlam and Cass.
-Yes, Whitlam and Cass have said a few things about each other. I feel that this type of legislation gives a big opportunity for people to be destructive towards one another. One of the previous speakers in the debate, Senator Gietzelt, tried to shed many tears about people being called poms, wogs and so on. When all is said and done, we are called all sorts of names. Amongst our own people, we probably would call one another all sorts of names, but is that the sort of thing we want to go shooting people about or causing trouble about? As I have said, that is a very simple type of racialism, and to what does it amount? Goodness gracious me, we in this country are amateurs as far as racialism is concerned. There are people in countries who talk about Australia being racist. I have in mind Uganda and other countries. What did Amin do when he took over Uganda? He just emptied the Indians out of the country. Was that not racialism? What about what happened in Malaysia between the Chinese and the Malays? Were those fights not racial fights? What about Fiji and the feeling towards the Indians there? What about Burma? What happened to the Chinese, the Indians and a few other people there some years ago?
– What about South Africa?
– There is racialism there. The point is that people in many of the countries I have mentioned do not call one another poms and wogs they pop them off. In fact, they slice them off at times, too. If we talk about fair dinkum racialism, we are amateurs and have much to learn. Recently, we have had a man named Perkins running around the country accusing this Government and the people of being racist. What utter nonsense. He is the type of man and many others like him who stir up a racial attitude.
We hear him talking about the fact that he has a grant of $ 1 1,000 to write about the Aboriginal people. He speaks about ‘my people’. Who are his people? He has not much Aboriginal blood in him. Most of his blood is white race blood. We are suckers. We fall for this sort of thing and we play up to these people. When people have something of another race in them, no longer, in my mind, do they belong to the race from which they may have stemmed, so the sooner we wake up to this sort of nonsense the better for this country. I feel that many people who are running around about this racial business are the opportunists, the self-seekers, and limelighters who want publicity in these matters. Where are we going to stop this business? Does the Government think that legislation of this kind will stop people being racist, if we think they are being racist, that they have feelings about this person or that person? I remember not so very many months ago that four black men were sitting on a very nice seat which the council had built outside my own premises in the business area of Mackay. They were eating very large prawns. A rubbish bin was just alongside them. Where were they throwing the remains of the prawns? They were throwing them on the concrete footpath in front of the seat.
– Australians do not do that.
– Have a look what they do at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
– Wait a minute. I walked out to them and being keen on the cleanliness of the city- we should commend civic pride and not try to destroy it- I spoke to the men in a very courteous manner and told them that we were trying to keep the city clean. I asked them to help by putting the rubbish in the bin which was at the end of the seat. The abuse that came from one of those fellows was disgraceful, so much so that I had to ring the police. Would I be accused of racism because I rang the police? Would the police be accused of racism if they had caught the men? The men knew what I was doing and they galloped off.
– Would you do that to a white person?
– I would do that to a white person too, because I am very keen on cleanliness in the city. When I was mayor of my city, Mackay was known as possibly the cleanest city in the State. These are the sorts of things that make one realise how legislation like this can be used to charge people with being racists, and so on.
I understand England has a racial board. Sometimes in England a person advertises a house for sale and half a dozen people wish to buy it, one of whom is coloured. If the coloured person does not get to buy the house, he accuses the seller of displaying racism. What is the result? Because the seller is accused of racism I understand the coloured man has to get the home. The result of this is that people in Britain are now selling their homes by tender. Whilst these things might originate on the part of legislators with probably a high minded purpose sometimes the legislation can be of a very destructive character to people. I believe that in the long run legislation of this type can divide our people much more than at present. Sometimes people have an aversion to others either because of personality, race, creed, or whatever it might be. Does that mean that that is such a bad thing? What about a person who claims to have come from a lowly position under poor circumstances? I know in earlier days it was probably a crime to be poor. Does it worry me? Of course it does not. If the person concerned has character and has within himself a determination to build himself and to go forward the silly things that people say about each other in racial terms or in other discriminatory terms are just not worthwhile worrying about.
Let me take a very striking case. Have any people in the world been more discriminated against over the centuries than the Jewish people? I doubt it. They have been discriminated against considerably through the years. What are the Jewish people today? What have they been for many years? I would make bold to say that the Jewish people on a percentage basis would be one of the most intelligent, best educated and most creative people in the world despite all that has been done against them. Because of the character within them, because of what they believe in and because of their aims they are today a race that carries a very high respect in a very great section of the world. They were, as we know, a people without a country; but now they have the state of Israel. Everbody I have met who has been to Israel has spoken without exception of the magnificent development the Jewish people have made in their country. This is even more apparent when compared with nearby countries. The Jewish people have turned the country, comparatively speaking, into a garden compared to some of the other countries.
– Yet they are still discriminated against in this country.
- Senator Missen says: ‘Yet they are still discriminated against in this country.’ To what extent are they discriminated against? Have their opportunities deteriorated in any way? Has it frustrated them from developing? The Jewish people have achieved a greatness, a development and an enrichment in many ways because they did not allow this silly business of discrimination to worry them and to beat them down.
– Do you mean by that that discrimination is good for people?
– I am not saying that discrimination is good. I am saying that if people have the right character, thinking and ability within themselves adversity and things against them often give them a determination to dig deep within themselves and to build themselves into better and richer persons mentally and in other ways.
Apart from racism, I refer to people who have been born in poor circumstances. We find that the difficulties they have had, the determination within themselves and the adversity which they experienced in early life have been really a great opportunity upon which to build. So it is in all these aspects. The fact of somebody having a racial attitude towards a person should not worry that person. It should not affect him. If he is the right type of person it should give him a determination to go ahead and prove himself so that the people who may discriminate against him might secretly in the long run admire him for what he is. I have never seen strong racism against migrants. Probably in Queensland we might be a more tolerant, friendlier and more accepting people. The 2 main types of people who have come to my city of Mackay as migrants are Maltese and Italians. I thought the other night of the number of people of those nationalities that I know. They are, today, in many cases people of quite considerable affluence in our community. They are people who have been accepted. I have not seen any discrimination against them. So far as I can find everyone in the region accepts these people and treats them in the best possible way. If they can speak English there is no difficulty at all.
These of course are just some of the aspects that I think should be emphasised. Do not let us get carried away with this racism business to the extent that we think it is so deep that this country is divided. That is absolute nonsense. To those idealistic romanticists who want to straighten out everything and have everybody perfect I want to say that this legislation will not change people. People are human beings. Just as we cannot stop people of the same race from not caring for each other so we will not in the main change this attitude that begins very often when people do not know each other very well. I am strongly opposed to this legislation. I feel it is the type of legislation that should be left unexpressed. It is the type of legislation that can lead to deep schisms in our community and cause great trouble to individuals. Therefore, despite all the ideals behind it, I think it is a very great mistake, If we on this side of the chamber had any sense we would throw out the legislation. The trouble is that there is too much weakness, too much jelly in the backbone of some of the people in this chamber for them to stand up and do what is right. I feel that as the days and the years go by we will regret not having taken a stronger stand on this legislation. It is abhorrent to me to suggest that racism is of great consequence in this country. Race after race of coloured people fight each other, stab each other, cut each other and kill each other. As I said before, the people of some countries in Africa and elsewhere who are so loud in their cries of racism demonstrate to us that we are just infants and amateurs in racism. I oppose the legislation very strongly.
– I understand that the Opposition will support this Bill in principle and move a number of amendments, but Senator Wood certainly fooled me. I realise that it is often most difficult to establish discrimination on race, colour or ethnic grounds, and of course there is always the risk of creating the converse situation. Nevertheless, that does not mean that the necessity to protect these people on such grounds should be neglected in any way. There is nothing worse than the mental cruelty that can be and is being inflicted on minority groups in our community by so-called law abiding citizens, and when the only ground for this discrimination is racial it is indeed high time that something was done about that form of cruelty which not only disadvantages a person in the fields of employment and housing but robs him of his dignity and his pride. Racial prejudice should not be tolerated. In a progressive society real social progress can be measured only by the attitudes of the majority of people to minority groups and the impact of those attitudes on the minority groups. This Bill helps to protect people from racial discrimination in the fields of employment and housing and in access to places and facilities.
Previous speakers have dealt with employment and housing and have made an excellent job of it. There is little to be gained from my labouring those points much further. However, I will say that racial discrimination in the 1970s is not as blatant as it was in the 1950s, but it is just as latent, and that is where the danger lies- in the latent discrimination that goes on, especially in our education system. However, there is one area that receives little attention and virtually no publicity, and that is the area of expectation. Everyone has certain expectations in life. Surely this is part of ambition, whether it be in the field of employment, housing or elsewhere. People in ethnic groups are no different from anyone else in that regard, but within their framework of expectation they make allowances for the likelihood of being discriminated against on purely racial grounds. I am talking about people in ethnic groups who protect themselves from being disappointed or hurt simply by not applying for higher employment or better accommodation, solely because of the fear of discrimination on sheer racial grounds. To appreciate this one must feel it. One must experience it to know what it is like to have the feeling of being rejected and to realise how it can break a person’s spirit. In many cases these people could be quite wrong, but it happens so often that they are not prepared to take a chance. Their fear is real. Their fear of rejection does exist and it can be passed on to the next generation. Should one’s skin happen to be black by chance or by the grace of God, then this fear of rejection will be passed on to further generations. When young Evonne Goolagong was chosen in 1 972 as Australian of the Year she said:
In the past I have been referred to as an Aboriginal. Now I will be truly known as an Australian.
I was moved by that. I was most touched indeed. Quite innocently she had reflected the type of cruelty that society, with its Anglo-Saxon conformity, inflicts on the minds of minority groups. These minority groups form an integral and most important part of our community. Nevertheless, I feel that we should never lose sight of the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are a nation of migrants. In no way can we claim to be an egalitarian society and at the same time foster the type of thinking that prevents sections of our community from being able to feel and say quite proudly: ‘I am an Australian’. They should be able to say this without having to conform to an Anglo-Saxon myth- and that is all it is- of what an Australian is supposed to be. The Canadians have an all-embracing term. They take a person’s national origin and then apply the name of the country of adoption after it. A person is a French-Canadian, an Irish-Canadian, a ScottishCanadian and so on. I am not arguing all the pros and cons or merits and demerits of this issue. What I should like to say is that in Australia if one takes the national origin and couples it with the term of endearment that Australians use, it could hardly be printed in Hansard.
Quite apart from the personal tragedies involved, our nation is the poorer for our attitudes. Instead of people of this ilk being more outgoing and mixing with their fellow citizens, they cling together. Often this is not entirely out of national pride. They are seeking some form of security that does not exist in the community at large, and more’s the pity. Not only do we lose any contribution that they can make to the community from their different personalities but we could be missing out on the undeveloped talents that they are holding back because of a perfectly natural instinct to protect themselves from being hurt on racial grounds. I realise that education is the kernel of this issue and that there are several organisations in the community which are quite well aware that the only cure is education and conciliation. I will quote the relevant sections from comments made by three of those organisations. The Victorian Council of Churches Ecumenical Migration Centre has stated:
Legislation is but the necessary first step. To be effective it needs the combined services of the educationist and the researcher.
Each of the International Conventions on which the bills are based recognise the vital role of education. Parties, for example, to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information with a view to combating prejudices which tend to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding and tolerance’. (Article 7)
At a 2-day conference held in Sydney in April 1974 the United National Association of Australia touched on the field of education and moved the following motion:
That the widest possible educational and publicity campaign be undertaken and, in particular among disadvantaged sections of the population, with respect to the Human Rights Bill and the Racial Discrimination Bill, if and when enacted, and the Legal Aid Schemes.
That motion was carried at that conference with one dissension. This year Mr Walter M. Lippmann, M.B.E., in an Australia Day address touched on education. He said:
The most important challenge for the community relations program however lies in the field of education.
I have already spoken of the importance of ethnic identification for many children caught in the no man’s land of ambivalence between their home environment and that of their school still geared to the assimilationists ‘ goal of Angloconformity.
Those organisations, together with a number of other organisations, will be delighted when they look at Part III of the Bill which deals with conciliation and educational standards. The existence of the Bill would offer security to people in the position I have outlined. It would help to eliminate man’s inhumanity to man. It would give redress where redress is just and proper. What is most important, the educative steps proposed in the Bill would serve to diminish tensions and ameliorate problems. So long as the Bill is unambiguous it need not be offensive in any way. Franklin D. Roosevelt said: ‘There has never been, there is not now, there never will be any race of people on earth fit to serve as master of his fellow man’. I think that thought is worth bearing in mind when we are considering the passage of legislation of this nature. I commend the Bill to the Senate. I sincerely hope that the Opposition’s proposed amendments will serve to enhance the Bill and in no way water it down.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (9.12)- It is probably a very good idea that this Bill is moved from one position on the notice paper to another, up and down and around and about, because whoever is responsible, whether it is the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) or the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland), at least it serves the purpose of diminishing the emotive terms with which various honourable senators have addressed themselves to the Bill. To that extent its movement on the notice paper, I think, is of some value. I am sorry that Senator Button is not here tonight. I understand that he is not very well. When he was speaking I interjected that I was involved in antiracism long before he embraced it. 1 think I owe a duty to myself, if not to my Senate colleagues, to illustrate in simple language, by 3 stories, the attitudes which I have taken, as a person, in the context of racism. I can remember as a young boy of seven or eight years of age, in about 1914 or 1915- somewhere about then- finding a little German migrant girl weeping near some bush. I stopped beside her and asked what was the matter. She could not speak English. Obviously she did not understand what I was talking about. The memory has remained with me ever since. She was alienated from the surroundings in which she found herself. The Great War was raging. People of German descent were not accepted. Obviously this atmosphere spilled over on to the child. She could feel the hostility. She could not communicate with other children. That is the first story.
The second story relates to an event which occurred just after the War, when I was far more muscular and able physically than I am at present. I remember forcing one of Ansett ‘s buses to stop when it was travelling in western Victoria to throw off physically 2 young thugs who were attempting to ill-treat in one way or another 2 young Aborigines. These youthful or even middle age memories remain and condition one’s attitudes, I suppose; so much so that in the early 1950s, when it was unfashionable to embrace the problem of the Australian Aborigines, I was able to persuade the Chief Secretary of Victoria, the late Sir Arthur Rylah, to set up a royal commission to examine the problem of the Australian Aborigines in the context of the society in which they found themselves. Notwithstanding the report of the royal commission and its acceptance by the Victorian Government, the impact and drive by the Victorian Government to try to change the situation of Aborigines in Victoria in the context of the society in which they found themselves were destroyed by all the egg-heads at the University of Melbourne who proceeded to get into the act. The problem that besets Senator Cavanagh, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, at present in relation to Aborigines is bedevilled to a major degree by the intellectual egg-heads at the universities and by the anthropologists because they cannot see the wood for the trees. They do not understand the social structure in which the problem exists. That has been the main thrust of some of the arguments raised, inferentially and directly, in the Senate tonight and on the 2 previous occasions that we have debated this Bill.
I wrote on a piece of paper some of the observations that were made by 3 honourable senators on the Government side who addressed themselves with some vehemence to this problem. They have this fantastic belief that we can solve all social problems in the same way as the mediaeval Christian church attempted to solve problems- by an act of canonical law. Because we live in a materialistic society today rather than a religious society, the same urge exists to solve all the problems of racial discrimination of one sort of another, not by the canonical law but by statute of Parliament. It is not possible to solve the problems that relate to human nature by passing Acts of Parliament. Yet that has been the thrust of the arguments in support of this Bill.
I remember Senator Coleman, for example, making a great speech. She attacked the whole problem of racial discrimination on the basis of sexualism that is to say, women are a deprived element in the community. No doubt they are. The problem in the city of Canberra, for example, will not be solved on the basis of the arguments that I have heard Senator Coleman advance. Racial discrimination against women as a sexual problem will not be remedied by passing laws. Her argument was that we could pass laws to solve the problem. As a matter of fact, most honourable senators know the story. Senator Coleman said that there should not be an exclusive bar for males in one of the Canberra hotels, notwithstanding that there are four other bars in the hotel, I understand, which she could frequent if she wished. There is one bar which the men regard- apparently the licensee of the hotel regards it in the same way- as a place which should be a male refuge.
Senator Button adverted to Senator Coleman’s observations. He praised the Ontario Human Rights Code. I have taken the trouble to look up that Act. It is a very good Act, as he said. He did not say, for example, that in section 2(1) there is inserted an exception provision. I am dealing now with arguments put by women’s lib organisations. The sub-section in the Ontario Act states:
Sub-section 1 does not apply to prevent the barring of any person because of the sex of such person from any accommodation, services or facilities upon the ground of public decency.
– They will want common urinals next.
-If we take their aims to extremes, that is what it amounts to. There is nothing in this Racial Discrimination Bill that can support the arguments of Senator Coleman, but there is a totality of equality.
I deal now with Senator Gietzelt ‘s speech. It was an emotive piece of mob oratory from its beginning to its end. He concluded by quoting a poem by Mrs Walker from Queensland. I have read the poem. If I had sent that poem to a newspaper with my signature at the bottom it would not have been published. I will not quote the story of Boswell and Dr Johnson on this because it would immediately arouse a little bit of enmity around the place, but the fact is that according to Senator Gietzelt, this has become a poem of some import apparently because Mrs Walker happens to belong to the Aboriginal race. Therefore it is a good poem. But if I had written it, because I belong to the European race it would have been a bad poem.
I turn to what I regard as the most dreadful form of racial discrimination which came out inferentially in Senator Button’s speech. Senator Button said that he believed in a multiracial society. If he wants to believe in a multiracial society, so what? What he forgets is that the majority of the Australian people do not want to have a multiracial society; they want to have a homogeneous society. As Senator Sheil has said, the problems in relation to racial discrimination in Australia exist to a large degree because we have tried to create a multiracial society at least based on some common ground of a European descent, which Senator Mcintosh appears to disregard. No wonder he left the Clydeside.
– ls that a racial comment?
-Racial, religious, ethnic- you name it. It is all in the United Nations declaration. I am not saying that in a sneering way at all. I repeat that we have the elements of a multiracial society with a conflict of ethos, ethics, racialism and religion in Australia at the moment, and we have to try to solve it. I will support the Bill. I make that declaration now. There is a snivelling attitude to this question. Senator Button said he will advise his son to marry a Malaysian girl because he believes in a multiracial society. Subjective racialism existed in Senator Button’s observation. He deliberately selected a Malaysian woman as a proper bride for his son. He did not select a Chinese woman or a Taiwanese woman or a Japanese woman or a Negress or a Latin American woman. He selected, on a racial basis, what he considered would be an ideal bride for his son. These are some of the problems that we have in our society at present.
I accept the declaration by the United Nations Organisation that there should be no discrimination in the terms in which the United Nations made this declaration. The propaganda which was distributed in Australia by the United Nations Organisation and which was mentioned by Senator Mcintosh states that the United Nations was unanimous on this declaration regarding racial discrimination; that all the people in the United Nations subscribe to this declaration without any demurrer. This is not true. I have here a list of the nations that have acceded to the United Nations International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is worth reading. Australia acceded to it. It was signed by Sir Paul Hasluck, representing Australia, in October 1966. We are in this present jam, to a large extent, because under questioning in the House of Representatives, on 2 occasions Sir Paul Hasluck said that the matter had been referred to the States for consideration because it was in the States where the common law existed.
This Senate is now confronted with the problem of an inability of the States to accept their responsibility in this context. Although this matter remained on the agenda of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General nothing was done about it. Finally, this present Government- for which I commend it- realised that Australia could not be isolated from the area of the United Nations and that something had to be done about it. One of the problems about this matter is that if we look at the Bill carefully we see that Australia’s accession and ratification to this declaration will depend on the Senate passing this Bill. When we look at the nations of the United Nations which have acceded to this declaration we find that they have imposed all sorts of Reservations.
I understand the problems of the Republic of India perfectly well. There it is, a great part of the sub-continent of Asia with some 450 million or 500 million people, wracked by racial, religious and caste discriminations, yet that country acceded to the Convention. But what did India do when it came to signing the Convention? I will tell honourable senators what it did. The Government of India declared that for reference of any dispute in the International Court of Justice, for decision in terms of article 22 of the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the consent of all parties to the dispute is necessary in each individual case. Do honourable senators know why India put in that reservation? I will tell them. India did that so that no one in the United Nations can take India to the International Court of Justice without its consent. India will not have the United Nations interfering with the internal arrangements in India as regards religion, caste, creed or anything else.
Italy used about 2 columns to write its reservation about the Convention. Other countries which have submitted reservations to the Convention include Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Libyan Arab Republic, Nepal, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Romania, Tonga and then a clutch of communist countries. Even the United Kingdom has made reservations about the Convention. Finally, the United States throws the whole Convention out of the window and says: ‘We will make our own arrangements in relation to racial discrimination on the grounds of religion, cast and colour’. What are we going to do? Have we any reservations about this Convention, because this is the matter that bedevils Senator Wright? Once we accede to this Convention without any reservations, under section 5 1 of the Australian Constitution we hand over in its entirety to the United Nations the capacity to interfere in Australia’s internal arrangements without any demurrer on our part. We give the ground away, not on the basis that we are ashamed in any way, but simply on the argument that I first adduced, namely, that you cannot eliminate discrimination on the ground of religion, race, colour or anything else except if it is done by an educated society.
If honourable senators have read the Melbourne ‘Herald’ this week they would know that in the Canadian Province of Ontario, which Senator Button praised as having a model statute of racial discrimination of one sort or another, there is more discrimination than in any of the other Canadian Provinces. Yet it has this model racial discrimination legislation which, as I mentioned earlier, carries this exception to protect Senator Coleman from affronts of one sort and another. The racial legislation in Canada has been praised by Senator Button and is held as a model for the Senate to follow. Yet a report in an Australian newspaper by, I understand, a well respected correspondent says that there are more racial problems in Canada than any other kind of problem.
I asked an eminent Canadian in the Canadian House of Commons some months ago: ‘How is the Indian problem in Canada?’ He said: ‘There is no Indian problem in Canada. Where did you hear about that?’ I said: ‘I have been reading a great deal about the Indian problem in Canada’. His answer may strengthen the heart of Senator Cavanagh, who is not in the chamber at present. He replied: ‘There is no Indian problem in Canada; it is an industry’. The thrust of this Bill is to create a racial industry in Australia. This Bill will polarise racism in Australia. If honourable senators do not believe that assertion it would be a good idea for them to obtain a copy of the report of a select committee of the House of Commons in Great Britain which has been looking at the problem of racism in England. The main thrust of the report of that select committee is that the basic problem with regard to racism is in the area of housing.
I have obtained a copy of a monograph by someone in the United Kingdom in relation to race relations. It is probably a bit out of date, but on page 128 it mentions the Race Relations Board in England. That board is the equivalent of the organisation proposed for Australia whose director-general, I understand from Senator Greenwood and other informants, will be quite a notable man who once served in another place, Mr Grassby. I am informed that he is the director-general designate. Observations were made by Senator Gietzelt about racial discrimination in the election which Mr Grassby lost. No one has ever discussed the racism that was involved in the election for the seat of Riverina when Mr Grassby won. The monograph which I have mentioned, referring to the Race Relations Board in England, states:
In 1970-71, the Board and its conciliation committees investigated 40 complaints with regard to privately rented accommodation.
This has happened in a country with a population of 53 million. I notice that Senator Mcintosh has left the chamber. The report continues:
In 18 cases, it was decided that there had been discrimination. Twenty-two complaints in the sale of houses were investigated and discrimination found in 3 cases . . . The Race Relations Act seems to have been effective in reducing discrimination in public houses.
Senator Coleman would be happy about that. The report continues:
In 1970-71, the Board and its committees found 23 such cases, in twenty-two of which conciliation was successful.
We are not arguing against conciliation. The population of the United Kingdom is involved in racial discrimination to an infinitely more emphatic degree than the population of this country. The Race Relations Board and its committees found 23 cases of racial discrimination concerning public houses in 1970-71 and in twenty-two of those cases conciliation was successful. I do not intend to go through the whole of this book. All I am saying is that there is racial discrimination in Australia. We on this side acknowledge this fact. To a large degree I have been fighting against it in a personal sense most of my adult life. The Opposition supports the thrust of this Bill. But its essential empire building projection, which in a substantial way, I understand, comes from the fair hand of Mr Grassby, will not succeed in solving the racial problems in Australia.
The report of the select committee of the House of Commons in Great Britain- it is the third of such reports- found that the causes of discrimination were other than colour, caste and creed. It has been forecast that some amendments will be made to this Bill. I support the Bill. It will not solve the problem of racial discrimination as referred to in the United Nations Convention. I think that any government requires at least two lines of attack on this problem. First of all it must tackle the problem of racial discrimination at its base. Senator Mcintosh has referred to the young Australian tennis player. I suppose that Senator Cavanagh would not disagree that she was alienated from the community because she was part of a submerged culture. I do not say that in any disagreeable sense. I give Senator Cavanagh full marks for his attempt to do something in relation to Australian Aborigines. It is a racial discrimination problem in which he is involved. The objective is to try to bring the indigenous Australian people up in social terms. Senator Cavanagh is attempting to cut out the root cause of the problem. This is a different area altogether from that into which Mr Grassby is projecting himself. Work in it will probably begin to solve the problem of racial discrimination. But it will not be done to any major degree by creating a statute which provides for an inquisitor whose job it is to frame people. This could lead to ludicrous circumstances.
I mention one as an example because I can see with great clarity the possibility of it happening in Australia. A Pakistani in London applied to be a member of a Welsh Rugby Union club which was a society exclusively for Welsh people who lived in England and were fond of Rugby Union. I am damned if I know why anybody should be fond of Rugby Union. I know that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is fond of it and that a few New South Wales people round here seem to be fond of it. I cannot see any sense in it, but the Welsh find a lot of comfort in it.
– You are not being discriminating, are you?
-I am talking about discrimination. Because the Pakistani in the example that I have given was not elected to the Welsh Rugby Union Club of Greater London he appealed to the courts through the Race Relations Board and the courts ordered that he had to be elected to the club, not on the basis that he was a Welshman, but because he had been discriminated against. That is the sort of situation that will happen in Australia.
Because we are committed internationally to try to solve this problem, I believe we must introduce a racial discrimination statute onto the Australian statute books. But I do not agree with the Bill which has been presented to the Parliament. This Bill must be subjected to the scrutiny of the Senate in the Committee stage. It must be scrutinised very carefully because there are more mantraps in this Bill at present than the wit of man has ever devised, not because of malice but because of ignorance. I support the second reading of this Bill but I give notice to honourable senators that I will argue to the limit of my capacity in the Committee stage that some of the more wrongly drafted elements should be thoroughly amended. In principle, I support the Bill.
– Notwithstanding the comments of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and the references that he made to Senator Button and 1 or 2 other colleagues of mine, I do not believe that anyone on this side of the chamber believes that racial discrimination can be entirely legislated out of existence. I think this Bill also recognises that fact. The emphasis of the Bill is primarily on conciliation. Should that fail the Bill contains punitive provisions. I think that in his second reading speech the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) touched upon an extremely important point when he stated:
The fact that racial discrimination is unlawful will make it easier for people to resist social pressures that result in discrimination.
Having been born and reared in a country town which like most country towns in Australia manifested quite a deal of anti-Aboriginal discrimination, I have seen examples of the relevance of the point that Senator James McClelland was making. For example, I have in mind the barber who refused to cut an Aboriginal’s hair. Whether the barber himself is racist or not is irrelevant. The barber states in a town where racial discrimination does exist that if he cuts the Aboriginal’s hair his European customers will not patronise his shop; they will go somewhere else. No doubt in this particular town this was a justifiable fear. If on the other hand the barber is in a position to say ‘the law forbids me from discriminating against Aboriginals’ he is then in a very much stronger position to resist those very social pressures for racial discrimination to which Senator James McClelland referred.
The near hysterical exaggerations that Senator Greenwood and Senator Sheil manifested in references to star chambers by Senator Greenwood and by Senator Sheil the allegations that the Bill provides the Commissioner with ‘power similar to that used in the Spanish Inquisition’ should not be permitted to distract attention from the provisions which the Bill does actually contain. The Bill prohibits racial discrimination and incitment to racial hatred. It provides the Commissioner with power to subpoena witnesses for purposes of conciliation and inquiry and it provides the Commissioner also with powers to levy penalties against people who refuse to answer subpoenas. It provides for the referral of matters to a prescribed authority and a prescribed authority is defined in the legislation as a judge of the superior court, of a State court of or an industrial court. The Bill makes provision for legal aid for defendants.
The belief that this legislation will induce a flood of frivolous or vindictive complaints is, I believe, answered effectively in clause 21 (2) of the Bill in which the Commissioner is empowered to dismiss complaints which are in his opinion trivial, complaints which refer to offences which allegedly occurred more than 12 months ago or complaints which are frivolous or vexatious. I have been perplexed by the attitude of the Opposition to this Bill. Senator Greenwood appeared to be ambivalent. Senator Sheil offered the opinion that countries which have laws pertaining to race generally have more racial problems than countries which do not have laws pertaining to race, a view which he subsequently contradicted. I will return to that in a moment. Then from Senator Wood we finally obtained in the most unequivocal terms this statement:
To my mind this is a very dangerous piece of legislation. I believe we would be far better off without it.
That was the statement that Senator Wood made in the Senate last Thursday evening which he repeated tonight in, if anything, stronger terms. Senator Greenwood criticised the Bill on the ground that by forbidding the incitement to racial hatred or the dissemination of racist propaganda it infringed the right of free speech, of absolute freedom of publication and of speech. It is a point which must be conceded. However, Senator Greenwood did not bother to mention that the laws of defamation already provide substantial constraints against an absolute freedom of expression and of publication, nor did he explain why if the Bill is objectionable on those grounds the Government of which he was a member in 1966 voted for the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination which is appended to this Bill and which provides for exactly the same prohibitions against incitement to racial hatred and the publication or dissemination of racist propaganda.
Senator Greenwood forecast the Opposition’s intention to move a number of amendments to the Bill. At this stage at least I am not aware of the precise nature of those amendments, but from the general tone of Senator Greenwood ‘s remarks it appeared, I fear, that Senator Greenwood ‘s attitude could be summed up thus: Senator Greenwood will support the Bill so long as it consists of nothing more than a series of pious platitudes and so long as all the teeth are drawn from it.
– You may be mistaken.
– I may be mistaken, Senator Missen. I hope very much that I am, but I think that is not an unreasonable interpretation to place upon Senator Greenwood’s speech or the tone in which it was delivered. Then Senator Sheil, to whom I have already referred, last Thursday evening stated:
That is the racial problemsseem to me to be worse in those countries which have legislated in an attempt to solve the problems than in those countries which have not.
Surely that can be interpreted only as an expression of total opposition to the Bill. Senator Sheil, however, proceeded to contradict himself by delivering a eulogy on South Africa and Rhodesia and by aligning himself quite clearly with the very stringent and very racist laws which exist in those countries. It is no great surprise, of course, because Senator Sheil on previous occasions has put forward in this Senate similar views. By way of an aside it would perhaps be interesting to know how that great overseas campaigner against alleged racial prejudices in AustraliaMr Charles Perkins- would react to that statement by Senator Sheil given the recent flirtation between Mr Charles Perkins and the National Country Party of Australia of which Senator Sheil is a member, and also of course the rumours as yet undenied that Mr Charles Perkins will be seeking endorsement by the National Country Party for a Senate seat representing the Northern Territory. (Quorum formed). So much for Senator Sheil.
Then, last Thursday night, we were treated to some delightful entertainment from that unmarked and undiluted survivor of the 19th century plantation society from which he was spawned, Senator Wood. He treated us to a delightful or entertaining homily on racism last Thursday evening and he repeated most of it again tonight. I think that the first time I heard Senator Wood speak in this chamber he read about 2 pages from Hansard, quoting himself from the year before. Tonight he dispensed with Hansard and the acknowledgement and repeated what he had said, more or less verbatum the previous Thursday.
The highlight of that address was this unequivocal statement which I mentioned before and which bears repeating:
To my mind this is a very dangerous piece of legislation. I believe we would be far better off without it.
The rest of his speech supported that sentiment, to the acute embarrassment of Senator Missen and, I have no doubt, a number of the other more enlightened members of the Liberal Party in Opposition. Senator Wood then proceeded to recite an anecdote about a Kanaka or a South Sea islands lady he met recently and with whom he conversed in Mackay. That lady, as he put it, spoke the most beautiful English. Senator Wood said that with the sort of awe or reverence that one normally would reserve for an observation that an chimpanzee had faultless table manners.
He then proceeded to tell us that in terms of racial persecution and racial discrimination we in Australia were just amateurs and that we had a lot to learn from the natives. In response to an interjection from Senator James McClelland it appeared that in Senator Wood’s lexicon a native is synonymous with a black or, as he put it, a coloured native. A native means a black in Senator Wood’s lexicon. The natives or the blacks fight each other, Senator Wood informed us; not having been down from the trees for very long they behave in barbarous and uncivilised ways; they carve each other up and expel each other from each other’s country and so on.
– I take a point of order. I think that what the honourable senator just said gives rise to the suggestion that Senator Wood said that people were just out of the trees. My recollection is that that expression was not used by Senator Wood. I think it should be made quite clear that that was Senator Walsh’s own interpretation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mulvihill)- I do not regard that as a point of order. I think the matter has been somewhat misconstrued.
– As far as I recall it, Senator Wood did not use the term ‘just down from the trees’. However, the inference was quite clear. The state of mind and the views of Senator Wood on this question are virtually indistinguishable from those of people who use that sort of term. There may be less malice in Senator Wood but nevertheless the attitude he holds towards people of non-European racial extraction is, I suggest, quite clearly comparable with that of people who use more offensive terms like just down from the trees’. That point can be emphasised somewhat by the fact that at no stage did Senator Wood bother to refer to the tribal fighting in the United Kingdom. Tribal fighting, you see, is something in which only natives indulge and natives, in Senator Wood ‘s lexicon, are non-Europeans- those who are black or yellow. It is not conceivable to him that Europeans in the United Kingdom could indulge in tribal fighting as they do in Ulster, and as they have done in Ulster for many years.
Tonight Senator Wood put forward what to me appeared to be a most curious hypothesis. He seemed to say that the Jewish people have been enobled by centuries of racial persecution. Whether intentionally or otherwise he appeared to advocate that racial persecution- group persecution, racial or otherwise- was something which would assist with the evolution of a superior species of humanity. I do not suggest for one moment that the views of Senator Wood represent the views of all members of his Party. In fact I would be very surprised if they represent the views of a majority of the members of his Party. I know very well that some of them, a couple of whom were in the chamber until recently, hold views that would be diametrically opposed to those of Senator Wood.
We must recognise the problems of the small 1’ Liberals who take a tolerant and progressive view on the question of racism and other social matters. We must recognise the problems that they have with the Bourbons and dinosaurs within their own Party. 1 trust that when the amendments forecast by the Opposition finally are presented to the Senate, the views of the progressives within the Liberal Party- Senator Chaney, Senator Missen and people like themwill have triumphed over the prejudices, conscious or otherwise, of Senator Shiel, Senator Wood and people of that type.
– I rise to welcome the presentation of this Racial Discrimination Bill to this chamber and to congratulate the Government for having introduced it into the Parliament. In doing so I think I am expressing the general view of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. Certainly I am expressing the view that we adopted with respect to the motion for the second reading of the Bill which we intend to support. If I have any regrets about this matter it is that it is necessary for such a Bill to be introduced into this Parliament. The racial discrimination document which the United Nations produced was executed by the previous Government in 1 966. It is my view that it is a pity that following the execution of that document legislation was not enacted at a State level, where there is less constitutional uncertainty, to deal with the question of racial discrimination. In the event, no action has been taken since 1966. In those circumstances I think it is most welcome that the Government has brought this Bill before the Parliament.
I also welcome the fact that this Bill has been before the Parliament for a considerable period. This is an extremely delicate area of law or an extremely delicate area in which to legislate. The fact that all of us have had a long time in which to consider this Bill and the fact that the public has had a long time in which to consider it is a very good thing. All of us are aware that a good deal of public debate has been engendered by the introduction of the Bill. I am sure that many honourable senators have received many representations about the Bill and about alterations which might be made to it.
I draw the attention of honourable senators to the very welcome degree of unanimity which exists with respect to the subject matter of the Bill. I refer them to the second reading speech made by Mr Killen in the House of Representatives when leading for the Opposition in. that House. He said:
In other words, 1 am seeking to assert the thesis that it is the view of this entire Parliament that racial discrimination, one of the disfigurements of the 20th century, should be silenced.
He went on to say:
But how do we do it?
The basic difference of opinion which might give rise to argument in this chamber or in the House of Representatives relate to that last sentence that I quoted- ‘But how do we do it? ‘
There is some difference of opinion about the machinery that ought to be utilised by society and by government to bring an end to racial discrimination. I think there is nothing improper or disgraceful about having differences of opinion about the machinery, but I stress the unanimity of the Parliament in condemning racial discrimination. It is true that a variety of opinions have been expressed in debate, but I say to all of my colleagues in this chamber that that is not a bad thing. The correspondence we have received over the past few months relating to this Bill would indicate to all of us that there is a wide difference in the opinions that are held in the community, and I think it is not unhealthy that different views have been expressed here in the national forum. The important thing is that there is unanimity among the Parties that this Bill should be given a passage through the Parliament. The differences merely lie in what the machinery ought to be to bring about the desired result.
I think in another respect the Government deserves commendation. Not only has it introduced the Bill and given all of us an opportunity to study it but it has been prepared to make amendments to the Bill in the light of submissions which have been made. The Bill before us now and the Bill as it went into the House of Representatives is not the same as the Bill that was originally introduced. I think that that is a recognition by the Government of the difficulty and complexity of this field and of the fact that different opinions put forward may have something to offer. In fact, in the House of Representatives some of the criticisms of the Opposition in that place were acknowledged, and some amendments were accepted.
All of us would have had complaints that this Bill would encourage pimping, and there was the possibility, I think, as the clauses were originally worded, that one could have an anonymous informant and a person could be hauled before the Race Relations Commissioner without knowing who his accuser was. I think the Government sensibly acknowledged that that was something it did not want, and it accepted the amendments. I say to the Minister in charge of the Bill that he ought to give very careful consideration to the amendments which will be put forward by the Opposition in the Committee stage of this Bill, because it is certainly my conviction that the amendments will in fact improve the legislation, would enable it to be introduced far more successfully into the community, and would in the long term aid the objective which I am sure the Government has of reducing racial discrimination in this country.
I do not wish to analyse, as Senator Walsh, who spoke previously did, the speeches of those who have gone before and to criticise them. I accept that there are differences of opinion, and people are entitled to their different opinions, but I do draw the attention of the Senate to 2 speeches that were made in the House of Representatives, one by the honourable member for Robertson, Mr Cohen, and one by the member for Bennelong, Mr Howard. I think those 2 speeches are a model of what this Parliament could hope for in a debate on a topic of this sort. I think they show a tolerance and an understanding of the difficulties with which we are dealing and that is most commendable. If I could make a speech that caught the spirit of the debate that we are having half as well as those speeches did, I would be well pleased.
What 1 would like to do in the course of my remarks is indicate initially why I support the concept of the Bill, subject of course to the amendments that we will be moving later. The first point is, of course, that Australia is a multiracial community. It has been so since the first European settlers arrived, and we are stuck with that fact. Since the first settlers arrived this country has been peopled by successive waves of immigrants, largely from Europe but also from many other parts of the world, and now, quite apart from any future immigration policy that we may follow, we have a community which is multi-racial. That is fact No. 1, and that is what we must bear in mind.
The second important fact is that there is discrimination in this country. I have listened to my fortunate colleagues who have spent time overseas tell us that discrimination in other countries is worse than it is here. Since I do not have the benefit of that experience, I cannot say whether they are right or wrong, but I can say that my own experience tells me that discrimination in this country is at a level which I find totally unacceptable. When I speak of discrimination I simply mean that a large number of people are treated not because of what they are but because of their racial heritage- because their parents were Aboriginal, Greek, or of some other race. In my professional life I came across a consistent series of examples of discrimination on the grounds of race that I found highly objectionable, and on many occasions the law did not provide an adequate remedy. In those circumstances I have no choice but to look for an improvement in the law so that these things can be dealt with.
I will weary the Senate with just one example which I think initially got me interested in this subject. I was a very young solicitor at the time. A clerk from another office brought an Aboriginal woman to my office and told me he had been told by his principals to get rid of her because they did not care to act for Aborigines. That, I suppose, was their privilege. She had paid money on account of costs, and that money was paid to me. The matter on which she sought advice was an application to have her family of 6 children declared neglected. I made a couple of telephone calls and ascertained that the case seemed rather flimsy. Indeed, the clerk who brought the woman to me told me that he had already taken instructions and he thought she had a very good case. In fact, I fought the easiest case of my life, and the charge that the children be declared neglected was dismissed.
The effect of the non-defence of that charge would, of course, have been that the children would have been found neglected and would have been committed to institutions. Being an extremely young man at the time, I became very angry about what I regarded as a rank injustice, so I said to the man who had brought the charge, an officer of a government department: ‘Why did you bring this charge?’ He said: ‘Well, we have had a lot of complaints about having too many Aborigines in East Perth, and we are moving them out’. The 6 children would have been institutionalised as part of a program of moving Aborigines out of East Perth. That, to me, is blatant discrimination, and this woman was subjected to it not only by a government department but also by my own profession. I perhaps should add that she subsequently paid the balance of my costs. So there was no great high principle in it as far as I was concerned; I did the job for money. That case demonstrated to me that groups of people in the community are treated abominably simply because they happen to have a dark skin.
I am afraid that that experience is by no means unique. In the successive years of my practice I found that there were many such examples. Perhaps I should add another point about the example I have given. The officer of the department was surprised to find that a solicitor was involved. He told me that he had brought many such applications, but never had any of the Aborigines concerned been represented. I perhaps offer that in support of my view that the Aboriginal Legal Service is also a very important and positive contribution by this Government.
I will now briefly refer to the platform of the Liberal Party which I think indicates that I am in the mainstream of Liberal thinking in supporting this Bill. This platform, which was adopted only last year, provides on page 17 that ‘the maintenance of individual freedom calls for positive measures by the Government and private organisations to encourage equal opportunity and to prevent discrimination against the individual or minority groups’. So, I am very pleased to be supporting this Bill, which is consistent with the platform of the Party that I represent.
I do not, however, wish to make too extravagant claims for this Bill. I agree with many honourable senators who have pointed out that to legislate against discrimination is extremely difficult. The proposition I put to the Senate is no higher than this: The Bill that the Government has introduced has a potential for good, a potential for at least moving some of the way towards the Government’s objective.
There has been some opposition to the Bill on broad principle, and this has been reflected in the debate in the terms, I think, that we cannot legislate to change attitudes. I must say that as I have heard that put forward both in this chamber and out of the chamber my mind has gone back to the Family Law Bill which we debated at some length only last year. Honourable senators recall that many people bitterly opposed the changes that were being made to family law in this country on the basis which I accepted, namely, that the state of divorce law would indeed affect the community’s attitude to marriage. I accept that argument, and that is why at the time that legislation was before this chamber I supported the proposition of making divorce rather more difficult than the Bill proposed. In just the same way, if we have a legislative framework which declares that racial discrimination is illegal, that legislative framework in itself has some educative effect and it is part of the environment and the context in which people grow up. While I do not think it will change those of us who have passed the great divide of 30 years of age, I think it might succeed in changing the attitude of our children, in the case of some of us here, our grandchildren and subsequent generations. I do think that law has a place in moulding community attitudes and that therefore the declaration that racial discrimination in Australia should be illegal is useful in itself as a long term educative tool. Quite apart from that, of course, the Bill, even if it cannot change attitudes immediately, can prevent overt acts of discrimination which are harmful to individuals. Therefore it deserves to be defended on that basis alone. I am always a little selective in my reading on this matter. That being my view, my eye was caught by an article by Arthur Earl Bonfield who at the time of writing in 1965 was Associate Professor in the Law School at the University of Iowa. His article carries the heading ‘The Role of Legislation in Eliminating Racial Discrimination’. I shall quote one paragraph from that article because I think it summarises my view and perhaps puts it a little more concisely than I could. He states: . . the mere existence of the law itself affects prejudice. People usually agree with the law and internalise its values. This is because considerable moral and symbolic weight is added to a principle when it is embedded in legislation. Additionally, most people are conformists, and the law usually represents the prevailing attitudes in the community. The law, embodying as it does the societally acceptable norm, constantly holds before people an image of what their feelings should be. Over an appreciable period, this cannot help but influence them in their private attitudes. As a result, While we may not be able to repeal prejudice by law, (it) . . . is an essential part of the enterprise of education which alone can end prejudice. ‘
I respectfully adopt that comment of Professor Bonfield as being an accurate statement and as a ground for giving support to this Bill.
There has, of course, been some much stronger opposition to the Bill and some of that opposition, I believe, is justified and supports the amendments we have put forward. But some of the opposition is not justified. The sort of justified criticism to which I draw the attention of the Senate is the fear of pimping which I think has already been dealt with by amendment. There has been the fear of restriction on debate, and that is a matter which I think all of us ought to be concerned about. Reference to that has been made in the debate. Of course, at the Committee stage there will be long debate on the fate of clause 28. But I think we must be cautious in restricting debate even when we find the debate odious to us. Some honourable senators opposite might consider that some of the speakers on this side of the House are actuated by ill-will. I will not accept that for a moment. The judgments that people make about motives when somebody is putting forward an argument on a sensitive subject such as this are dangerous. Clause 28, when looked at in that light, represents a dangerous restriction on freedom of speech in Australia.
Recently I have had my attention drawn to the writings of academics such as Eysenck and Jensen. I find their writings interesting. They deal with the question of inheritability of IQ, the measure of intelligence generally and the whole question of the extent to which one’s intelligence is determined by environment as against being determined by inheritance. Their researches go dangerously close to suggesting that perhaps there are basic inherited racial differences which ought to give rise to different policies for dealing with different races. From all that I have read of the history of these gentlemen, I would accept them as being genuine researchers and seekers after truth. At times in universities they have been set upon and stoned and generally abused. That is an illustration of the danger in trying to legislate against the dissemination of ideas, and I think that is effectively what clause 28 does. If a clause like clause 28 was passed into law, it is possible that we would find that people who are genuinely trying to debate perhaps our immigration policy or other matters that they regard as being of importance, or even more abstruse subjects such as the inheritability of intelligence, might be held up by some as having a racist intent and of trying to divide the community when in fact that is not the case. So I regard the criticisms that have been put forward in these other fields as being criticisms to which we ought to pay regard, and I think that we ought to proceed cautiously. Where there is any doubt, I believe that we should remove the clauses and experiment with the legislation and make changes later if changes are found to be needed.
Some criticisms of the Bill I regard as totally unjustified. There have been criticisms which have been personalised in the shape of Mr Gassby and even Miss Morosi. I have received literature with references to the ‘Grassby-Morosi Bill’ and references to the racial origin of those persons. I put on record in the Senate that criticisms of that sort are utterly repugnant to me. I find them offensive and I pay no note to them. I would say, however, that I have taken the trouble in many of those cases to write what I regard as a reasonable reply in the hope that those people are open to conversion. I think that has been a rather offensive feature of the campaign against the Bill. There have been references to Italians, Spaniards and Filipinos in a way which I think most Australians would cast aside.
The Opposition amendments which will be dealt with in detail later simply try to preserve the basic structure of the Bill which is put forward by the Government, but to make it something which does put stress on conciliation rather than on legal bludgeons. Many statements have been made by Government supporters and indeed by Government Ministers which indicate that it is the view of the Government that this Bill ought to proceed by way of education, by way of research, by way of conciliation, with law being brought in only as a last resort. I would respectfully say that that is the proper approach because I think the law is a quite imperfect instrument in this field. I have had some experience of matters which have been drawn to the attention of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) over the past year or two in which, in my judgment as a lawyer who has had some practise in this field, it would be difficult to obtain solutions simply by going to the courts because quite often people who are the subject of discrimination are the sort of people who are least able to take advantage of court procedures. Anyone who has represented a person who has imperfect control of the language, limited conceptual understanding and so on, knows that that person is under severe disadvantage under cross-examination and in the general adversary forum that a court provides. To put those people into a legal battle is to do them very little good.
If our amendments are examined it will be found that we have adopted what has been put forward as the theoretical view of the Government. We have accepted that in all cases the things which are declared illegal ought to be illegal. Indeed, we have added to them by putting some requirements oh unions not to discriminate. What we have said is that a person who believes that he has been offended by somebody who has done something which is illegal under these provisions should not go to court but to the Race Relations Commissioner. That Commissioner then has power to summon the parties to a compulsory conference. We leave the Commissioner with that power. So the situation is that whenever somebody feels aggrieved under the provisions of the Bill, his recourse is to go to the Race Relations Commissioner who can bring the parties together and attempt to conciliate. One would hope that in most cases that would lead to a solution of the problem. The reason that is not unduly optimistic is that there is a sanction on both of the parties to negotiate. The sanction on the offended party is that he does have to face the difficulties of litigation if the conciliation does not succeed. The sanction on the offending party, or the alleged offending party, is that if he does not behave reasonably and there is some case against him, he runs the risk of civil action because our amendments leave preserved the right of civil action. The difference is that we cut the
Race Relations Commissioner out of the civil proceedings.
I suggest to the Government that if it wants the Race Relations Commissioner to be accepted as a genuine educator and conciliator, it ought not to permit him to be involved in litigation because again my rather short experience as a lawyer- it is short compared with that of many lawyers in this chamber- has convinced me that when you go to law and you go into court and you have lawyers on each side attitudes harden and very seldom do you get a solution which leaves both sides satisfied. So in saying that going to law ought to be the last resort open to the parties only after conciliation is tried, leaving the conciliator as a conciliator sole and with no enforcement function is, 1 believe, a better and more positive approach to the problem.
In referring to the provision regarding the dissemination of ideas in clause 28, 1 have referred in part to the changes that we propose with respect to the clauses of the Bill that create criminal offences, but I think that the change that we propose with respect to incitement is logical, because we say that that should rank on the same basis as the other civil matters that are dealt with in Part II.
In my view, the important thing is that the people of Australia should see that a Bill comes out of this Parliament that has the unanimous support of the Parliament, because I think that that in itself will be a big propaganda victoryand I use the word ‘propaganda’ in a nonoffensive sense, I hope- for those people who believe that racial discrimination should be destroyed in Australia. If those people who are actively discriminating on the ground of race see that the whole of the Parliament is united in this declaration that racial discrimination should be unlawful, I believe some will lose heart at least to some extent and cease the sort of campaign that I think has been offensive to most of us. I conclude by again commending the general objectives of the Bill and by commending the Government for introducing it and for showing flexibility. I ask the Government to show the same flexibility in Committee in dealing with our amendments, and I suggest that a Bill approved unanimously, even if not as strong as the Government would like now, would be a better start than one based on a division within this Parliament.
– I did not think it would be necessary to discuss this Bill further, because no one disagrees with its purpose. The debate has ranged over many questions and there has been disputation about whether there is or is not racism in Australia. Those people I have an obligation to look after under my portfolio have been referred to frequently and I think it would be accepted that, if there was any racial discrimination in Australia, they would be the most aggrieved people by any racist attitude of the Australia public or of any sections of our community. Therefore I hope for some improvement because of this legislation.
Not only do I represent what is possibly the most deprived section of our community; I come from the only State that has made it an offence to discriminate against people on the score of race, colour or creed. I also would like to get a unanimous decision on the legislation, or a decision that would be close to unanimous. I do not think the matter is all on one side. If we all unite for the purpose of getting the best legislation that we can get, we will not be saying that something is bad and every Opposition amendment is good. We should consider the matter in a way in which we can find out whether there are some flaws, some better solution, or better wording in amendments. The Opposition should consider whether we can get a compromise.
Possibly a question should be raised in the Committee stage about whether Senator Chaney had studied the matter sufficiently. The Opposition may have an amendment to overcome somewhat the objection that he saw to clause 28, which in his opinion would stop free speech in Australia. As he is a lawyer I think that if he had studied the matter he would have found that that is not the intention, nor would there be the power to do so. By clause 28, the offence is the intention of the person either distributing any publicity or speaking. That clause provides, in part:
A person shall not, with intent to promote hostility or illwill against, or to bring into contempt or ridicule, persons included in a group of persons in Australia by reason of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the persons included in that group-
publish or distribute written matter;
The whole question is that a person may still publish literature and talk about the black race, the yellow race, or any other race and possibly show his attitude to these people, but it is a matter of whether his intention is to promote hostility or ill will. I wonder whether Senator Chaney, on reflection, would say that there was anything wrong in regard to anyone who purposely set out to create the hostility and ill will against anyone by virtue of the fact that that person happened to be of a different race or colour. We have supported this Bill because the questions that arise continually are: Is there racism in Australia? Is Australia a racist country in the way in which people in overseas countries have been told recently that our country is the most racist country outside South Africa?
Often the meaning of the word ‘racist’ has puzzled me. I am inclined to think that we ourselves establish standards, with those below standard being inferior individuals to us. We aspire to the position of, and look up to, those above the standard that we have established. I do not think it would be true to say that there is a hatred of Aboriginals because they are black, because they are Aboriginals, but we always find the reaction, We do not want them living next to us because, in the way in which they live, they are not up to our standards.’ However, those standards are standards that we have created and, because we have created them and become accustomed to them, we accept them as the highest peak of standards that we would tolerate. They may not be the right ones; we have never considered the standard of another culture.
When we meet some people in Australia, the immediate reaction of those people when they start a conversation is, ‘I am not a racist, but-‘. Then follow all the racist utterances. Of course, despite all the standards that we have developed in our society, some other ethnic groups have different standards, but there is no justification for saying that the latter standards are inferior. There is in Aboriginal culture much that we would do well to copy, and we have copied some of it. We should think of the whole program of Aboriginal culture, of tribal welfare as against our family welfare system. The practice of ‘Pull up the ladder, I am all right, Jack, and the family is all right’ never happens in Aboriginal tribal communities. If the father leaves to go walkabout he knows full well that the women and children will be looked after by the community. That attitude deserves much praise. In suburban society any Aborigine who comes into the area must be given a roof over his head, because there is nowhere else to go. Then sometimes there are two or three Aboriginal families in a house. That is not the standard which we are used to and which we would tolerate, but it is help for those who need it. We have departed from the standard of tribal welfare. Because the family welfare system is corrupt we pay child endowment, deserted wives pensions, widow pensions and invalid pensions. We are adopting in an organised fashion a lot of things which were generated from primitive communities. That may be something for us to consider.
We must have tolerance. We might think that someone is not good enough to live with us or not good enough for our children to marry, but we should not say that we have a better standard and we should not say that we should not show toleration to those people. Such an attitude is born into us; it is taught to us as children. We must change that attitude. There is no one more cruel in our society than a child going to school. Most of us will say that we love the child; but the dark child at school is referred to as a nigger, the kid with one arm is called wingy and the Vietnamese who come here and form a small group in the school will be called chows. When we fight people in foreign wars we call them Huns and dagoes.
– And wogs
-And wogs We have to denigrate these people to the extent of hating them and exterminating them. This goes through the whole civilisation. Therefore by legislation we can never eradicate what has been instilled in us and in our civilisation through a number of years. The position will not change.
In South Australia landlords will not now let homes to Aboriginal families because they are a credit risk. That is the claim. But if it is established that the landlords will not let the homes to the families because they are black an offence is created. If it is established that discriminatory action was taken because an ethnic group was involved, then there is an offence and, as Senator Walsh said, it establishes social support for the individual to refrain from using discrimination. There have been some prosecutions in South Australia. At one time hotel people would not serve Aboriginal people in a bar. The Aborigines established that they were well dressed and that they went to the hotel for the same purpose as white people- to have a drink. There have been some successful prosecutions with the result that today no publican would refuse to serve a drink to an Aboriginal in a bar unless because of his behaviour or his dress. That would not have happened a few years ago. That is not the case in most other States at present. Why does this attitude go right through our society?
We have tried to purchase hostels for Aborigines. We seek to make the purchases because the buildings suit our needs. Immediately there is an outcry, protests and petitions because black people will move into the hostels. Anybody else can buy them. In Canberra we were refused the purchase of a building because we intended to house Aborigines. This infiltrates throughout Australia. We have had fights about housing in Brisbane. We have done nothing else but pay cash.
– You wanted to turn nursing home patients out of their homes.
-This attitude infiltrates the thinking of people who say we wanted to turn patients out. There was a nursing home up for sale with vacant possession. Those who offered it agreed that they would have the patients out of the home and otherwise accommodated before the takeover date. Then there came the lie. After it was found that the nursing home was to be purchased for use by Aborigines there was the lie that old people would be thrown out of the home. Nine of the rooms were empty and we gave an undertaking, that we would occupy those and any patients who could not be placed somewhere else could remain until such time as they found accommodation. There was never a question of turning anyone out but Aborigines were not to have that Bonney hostel. Senator Sheil is supporting that attitude and is perpetrating this lie for the purpose of carrying on this racial fight. He would deny that he is a racist. We wanted to establish a group of people who it was said were inferior to ourselves. This thinking goes right through society. It relates to the purchasing and renting of houses.
An Aborigine was on trial in the Katherine court within the last 2 weeks. I think 18 Aborigines were arrested. One was convicted and the others were discharged. The Aborigines were arrested for an incident at Hooker Creek. Let us leave out the disputed evidence that bashing occurred. The evidence of the Aborigines, which was supported by the policeman, was that the Aborigines were put in 2 paddy wagons- nine in each. With one driver in each, they travelled from Hooker Creek to Wave Hill. They stopped at Wave Hill where a drink was passed into them. They were driven to Katherine- a distance of some 380 miles I believe- for the purpose of being locked up. None were permitted to get out of the cages in which they were locked. I repeat that there were nine to each paddy wagon. They were not allowed to use conveniences and they went 24 hours without a meal. When they asked for a meal the constable said: ‘We do not feed animals’. Does this not show a bad state of mind? The constable, when asked under crossexamination why the Aborigines did not get a meal, said: ‘Our shift finished at 3 o’clock and we had no time’.
– That is Federal jurisdiction.
-It does not matter. It was a person in the service of Australia. It appears that some people think Aborigines are so low that they should not be allowed decent elementary rights which we would expect anyone else to receive. I ask: Would that have happened to white prisoners? Has anyone ever known it to happen to white prisoners? It is happening today to black prisoners in Australia. I deny that Australia is a racist country or that there is any widespread racism in Australia. But it is a fact that there are pockets of racism in Australia, not that legislation will cure it. There are pockets in the community which will not accept lower standards than those we have created. Legislation will not cure racism but at least it will give the opportunity for some attempt to be made to police it and to make it a breach when there is information that an action was taken which was detrimental to an individual only on the score of his race.
Honourable senators will remember the television program concerning Laverton. The publican was proud that his Alsatian dog had been trained to smell out Aborigines, just as Customs officers train their dogs to smell out opium and other drugs coming into the country. This person was proud that an Alsatian dog had been trained to a standard where it could smell out an Aboriginal. That sort of thing is happening. I leave it at that. I do not want to detail any further cases because we all agree with the purpose of the Bill. There are some people who may say that racial discrimination acts in 2 ways and that some preference is being given to Aborigines at the present time by way of the allocation of funds. Such special measures come within the provisions of clause 8 of the Bill, which excludes from the operations of the Bill any special concessions given to a depressed ethnic group.
Senator Sir Magnus Cormack said that I am doing my best to bring Aborigines up to a standard where they will be accepted in white society, but there is so much difficulty in the way that we have reached a stage where it is for the Aborigines themselves to decide whether they want to degenerate to the standard of the white society or whether they will lead their own cultural life. This Bill makes provision for them to do that if they so desire. I hope that the Opposition will assist us by allowing the legislation to have some teeth. The question of who may be appointed as a Commissioner is not important. Give us the legislation. If someone is appointed who does not or cannot do the job he will be removed, and the legislation will succeed.
- Mr President, I have listened with interest to this debate and I am most grateful to those who have made a contribution to what is a very serious matter. The Government has been very active for some time now and has presented some excellent legislation. Nevertheless, I think it has been over-zealous in presenting the legislation under discussion. I think that this Bill is unwise- unwise in the light of what has been said by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber who are in favour of this legislation. It is significant that a Racial Discrimination Bill has only now reached the Senate after having been first introduced in November 1973. The period of time which has elapsed indicates very fully the complexity of the matter.
In my opinion, Australia is not in the throes of racial discrimination; and I emphasise that. Senator Cavanagh has just admitted that that is so. He said that there is a pocket of discrimination; he said it is a pocket of racial discrimination. I am not prepared to admit that there is that pocket of racial discrimination. There is a pocket of discrimination, and there is a difference between normal discrimination and racial discrimination. I say that Australia is not in the throes of racial discrimination for these reasons: Accepted Government policy has decreed that Australia is not in the throes of racial discrimination. Let me add further to that by saying that the policy of the Federal Government in this connection has been accepted by the States and has been accepted very fully by local governments. People from other lands have been made to feel very welcome, and indeed Australianborn people with racial distinctions have been made to feel very welcome, provided they have been willing to accept the welcome extended to them.
The Senate may be interested to know that I played a leading part in the removal of naturalisation ceremonies from the courts of law into the chambers of local government. I did that after long experience with people from other lands whose plight I could see. They came from lands of oppression and tyranny and when they got into the formal atmosphere of a court they thought it was the old times back again. That prompted me, when I was President of the Local Government Association in New South Wales, to prevail upon local governments throughout the Commonwealth to make an effort to have naturalisation ceremonies removed from the courts of law into the chambers of the people. That move has been an outstanding success, and I am sure that on all occasions when naturalisation ceremonies have been held what has happened in my council chambers has happened in council chambers throughout Australia. The people being naturalised have been thanked for accepting Australia as their new home. They have been thanked for bringing to this land the cultures of their homelands. They have been thanked for creating a very decent blending of the old with the new. They have been assured that there is no difference between those who are Australian by birth and those who are Australian by naturalisation. They have been told that they are entitled to all the privileges that every other citizen enjoys, and indeed that they are entitled to subscribe to the obligations that all other citizens are prepared to accept. It has been pointed out to them that the efforts of their forebears in making Australia the country that it is today have been very much appreciated. They have been assured that they have come to a country which welcomes them wholeheartedly. As I see it, that state of affairs applies universally in Australia today.
I have watched the progress of these people. I have naturalised about 1500 people in Albury, and our sister city of Wodonga has naturalised more than that number because the immigration centre is in the Wodonga shire. That understanding of people from other countries was introduced in the first instance through the wonderful immigration policy of the national Government, and both Labor and Liberal Party governments are due for credit in that respect. That policy has been accepted by the State governments, and more particularly by local governments. As a result we find that we have a happy and contented people. These people have fitted into our society. They have kept their own ethnic groups, and rightly so, because they have within them some wonderful friendships but by the same token they have been prepared to be assimilated into the overall pattern of the folk in the various districts. So we do not have that racial discrimination of which we have heard so much tonight. There will be isolated cases, but on an overall basis we do not have racial discrimination in our area.
I was very pleased when on one occasion, after a naturalisation ceremony, a person came to me and said: ‘You are not only the mayor of Albury but you are the uncrowned king of the Greeks’. I accepted it as a privilege to have been referred to in that way because the Greeks in my community are very wonderful citizens. In fact, all the people from other lands who live in my community are very wonderful citizens. They have played their part in society nobly and well, and indeed they are an affluent part of the society. But because of that isolated pocket of discrimination referred to by Senator Cavanagh, we have presented to us legislation which in my humble opinion is going to be very difficult to implement.
I am not aware of blatant racial discrimination, but I am fully aware of many acts of discrimination. That is the danger of this legislation. As a result of our democratic rights, we are a race which is inclined to discriminate. There is discrimination galore in this chamber. There is discrimination against people because of their likes and dislikes for music, the arts and everything else that one could imagine. There is discrimination against men who wear their hair long. There is discrimination all along the line. Draw this thing to its natural conclusion: People who are of a different race and who are dissatisfied with their lot in life, could quite likely present a case to the Commissioner because they were perhaps unsuccessful in obtaining employment. A person could think: ‘I did not get this employment because of racial discrimination’. In ail probability he did not get the employment because he did not have the qualifications. The prospective employer probably did not desire to employ a person with long hair, and this person had long hair. There could have been a multitude of reasons he was not successful. That person, of a different racial origin, would come to the conclusion: ‘I was not employed because I was of a different race’.
– He must prove that it was racial discrimination.
– The Commissioner would receive all day, every day complaints from people who had been discriminated against, but not by reason of their race. That is the whole story. It is not one bit of good introducing legislation which cannot be satisfactorily implemented. I have been somewhat amazed at the discussion tonight. It is evident that the Opposition has told the Government that it is prepared to agree to the legislation. But there is a proviso. The only legislation which the Opposition will be prepared to accept will be a brand new cast of legislation. Nothing in the present legislation is acceptable to the Opposition, according to what has been said tonight. So the implementation of this Bill will be very difficult. Let me read the main clause, the one which I think should not be included because I do not think it can be implemented. Clause 9 states: lt is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
That is all embracing. I am not opposed to what has been said tonight. If there were racial discrimination I would do my best, not only as a legislator but as a person, to see that it was stopped. It is not fair that there should be racial discrimination. We say to people: ‘Come among us. Assist us to develop our area’. The least we can do in return is to assist them to assist us. That has happened. It is evident in the pioneers of the various country districts. In the main the people in country districts, the people on the land, have origins in other lands. The German race is very prominent in that connection in my area. They have set an example. The example of their forebears has been followed by the descendants. We have a wonderful community in Australia. I honestly think that this legislation could be the means of insulting that section of the new races we have in Australia because it implies racial discrimination in an area in which I think it does not exist. This is very dangerous legislation. It implies a state of affairs that does not exist. Nothing that I have heard tonight allows me to think that it does exist.
– What about Senator Chaney ‘s speech?
-What did he say? He said that we are a racial community. He did not say that there was racial discrimination. He said that we are a racial community and I know we are.
– He did not say that at all.
-I made a note of his speech. We are a racial community. I refer to what I said a moment ago about the pioneers who developed this land. They were people of other races. They soon became very good Australians. So we have a state of affairs today in which people who have played a part in our society will get the idea that there is racial discrimination in Australia. It is a racial discrimination of which 99 per cent of our community are not aware. That 99 per cent are people of other races. What do we find? We find that legislation which is repugnant to a law abiding section of the community is not wise. For that reason, I am not prepared to support it.
– Some sections of the community will find certain legislation repugnantthe payment of taxes, the payment of pensions.
– Universally hated but necessary.
-I have not seen it. You speak for yourselves. I will speak for myself. Tonight the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs referred to a case in which action was taken by a member of the police force. It is evident that if citizens are in the hands of the police they are being accused of a misdemeanour. In all probability what happened to those folk would have happened to people with white skins. It is very difficult to make comparisons in these small, individual cases. We must ask ourselves this question: Has racial discrimination in Australia reached a point at which legislation is necessary? I give the answer in the negative.
– The matter before the Senate today is one of great complexity, great sensitivity, great difficulty, one that is capable of a wide variety of interpretations and responses, yet it is of very great importance. On the one hand, we have a desire in the Senate and in the community to protect, to assist and to preserve. On the other hand, in developing a set of machinery, clauses, details, Acts and legislative deliberations we must face up to the fact that in our desire to protect and to assist we are in great difficulty in interpretation. Because the issue is one of great sensitivity and because it involves legal matters, social matters of very wide import, and human relations, the Racial Discrimination Bill requires a great deal of examination and requires of all of us a considerable amount of thought and selfexamination as we endeavour to make a contribution to the debate. Matters of racial discrimination, matters of social equality and matters of social inequality are what I would describe as popular issues today insofar as society, in endeavouring to find new ways in which mankind may express itself, has decided that these issues shall be the subject of seminars and conferences. They have become subjects for writers, articles, journalists and publications.
– In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Severe food shortages due to drought or natural disasters are taken into account in deciding the allocation of Australia ‘s annual food aid commitment under the Food Aid Convention, or of other food aid programs. In 1974-75 substantial wheat gifts have been made to Burma, Bangladesh and the Sahel Zone of Africa under the Food Aid Convention.
In addition, a special Emergency Relief (Food Aid) Program was approved in July 1 974 for countries most seriously affected by steep increases in the prices of essential imports such as oil, fertiliser and food. This has included gifts to India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and other drought-affected countries in Africa.
Assistance from overseas Governments was not sought for relief and reconstruction work in Darwin after the cyclone on 24-25 December. However the following Governments responded to the Darwin cyclone in the ways set out below.
Indian Government Tea Board- 10 000 lb of tea
Government of Sri Lanka- 3000 lb of tea
Burma- 1500 sheets of plywood
The following governments provided aircraft for use in emergency relief operations for periods of about 10 days:
Britain-C 130 aircraft
New Zealand- C 130 aircraft
The Nauruan and French governments also offered aircraft for emergency relief operations but for logistical reasons it was not possible to make use of these offers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
If a theological course is conducted by a university or college of advanced education, there should be no obstacle to approving the course for benefits under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme. The outstanding example is the postgraduate Bachelor of Divinity at the University of Sydney, which has been approved for many years under the appropriate scheme of student assistance of the day. If a theological training institution obtains State recognition as a university or college of advanced education or makes suitable affiliation so that a course is effectively conducted by a university or college and attracts Government funding, it is possible that the course could be approved.
Under the appropriate State legislation, Moore College has not obtained recognition as a corporate college of advanced education. This legislation empowers the State Minister to declare an institution a corporate college of advanced education. He has not done so. As far as the Diploma of Arts course is concerned, the College submitted it to the New South Wales Board of Advanced Education for an assessment of its standard. The Board is empowered to approve courses as courses in advanced education in corporate colleges of advanced education and also in colleges not so declared. The Board has approved the Moore College course and also a course provided by another theological college. Neither institution has been declared a corporate college of advanced education.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
April 1975, page 1941 to a question concerning delays in payments under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme.
I might add that I visited the University of Wollongong, the University of Newcastle and the Newcastle College of Advanced Education and consulted students in distress. I believe the Department needs additional staff, branch offices in Wollongong, Newcastle, Armidale, Dubbo, and a few other places. It needs computers to cope with the problem. I had a conference with senior staff of my Department seeking solutions.
Trade Practices Act
– On 5 March 1975, Senator Georges asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General the following question, without notice:
I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General to an editorial in the ‘Australian Financial Review of 4 March 1975 which appears to indicate that the Trade Practices Act is being used to inhibit public discussion on matters of public interest. I ask him: Does the Trade Practices Act place as sub judice any matter relating to an application by a firm to the Trade Practices Commission? Will he clearly state whether this is desirable? If it is not desirable, what action will be taken to prevent firms from making mischievous applications in order to protect their own interests? ‘
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer to my reply to Senator Georges on 5 March 1975 at the end of which I stated:
Therefore, I intend to draw this matter to the attention of the Attorney-General and to ask him whether the Act needs amendment in order to put the intention of section 162 (e) beyond all doubt.’
I have now received the following advice from the Attorney-General-
I have considered the matter and concluded that the Trade Practices Act 1 974 does not need amendment in this regard.
The question that arises is not whether the Trade Practices Act makes any matters pending before the Trade Practices Commission sub judice, but whether the rules as to contempt of court which are made applicable by sub-section 162 (e) have the effect of prohibiting any discussion relating to a pending matter.
The law of contempt of court applied by this sub-section is the same law as is applied to every court of record. The Trade Practices Commission is not placed in any special position.
Under the law of contempt of court, public comment on a matter that is before the courts is not of itself contempt of court. Contempt of court is not involved unless the comment is of such a kind and made in such circumstances as to have the effect of interfering with the proper administration of justice. The risk of interfering with the proper administration of justice must be a real one. These principles do not prohibit reasonable comment concerning matters pending in the courts and I do not expect difficulties with the application of these principles to the Trade Practices Commission.
– On 23 April, Senator Carrick asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, without notice:
My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refers to the Commonwealth Government’s extremely narrow and restricted guidelines for the admission of refugees from South Vietnam. Is the Minister aware that many South Vietnamese in Australia hold official letters from the Commonwealth Government approving the admission of relatives? Is he aware that the guidelines will prevent those admissions? Does the Government now repudiate its previous decisions on these matters? If so, why? Is the Minister further aware that the guidelines will divide immediate families? Is it not a fact that children over 2 1 years of age will be denied reunion with their parents in Australia? Since the division of families by wilful act of the Commonwealth Government will not only cause terrible anguish to all concerned but could threaten the very lives of those forced to remain in South Vietnam, will the Government immediately review its guideline policies? Finally, how does the Government reconcile its inhumane guidelines with its claim, as announced by the Minister himself this morning, that it is doing everything possible to save lives in Vietnam?
The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
The attention of the honourable Senator is drawn to the public statements made since he asked his question on 23 April, by the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Morrison, which statements have dealt comprehensively with the matters raised by the honourable Senator.
Peace Negotiations in Vietnam and the Removal of President Thieu
– On 23 April, Senator Sim asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, without notice:
Is it a fact that the North Vietnamese Government has continually insisted that negotiations for peace in Vietnam would be undertaken as soon as President Thieu had been removed? Has President Thieu now resigned? Is it also a fact that the North Vietnamese Government now demands that further conditions be met before negotiations commence? Does this not indicate further the insincerity and the dishonesty of the North Vietnamese Government in obtaining a political settlement rather than a military settlement?
The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam has never maintained that the removal of President Thieu would be the only pre-condition for new peace negotiations. In a statement of 8 October 1974, reiterated on 12 March this year, it called for a ‘definite and complete end to its (U.S.) military involvement and interference’ in South Vietnam and the overthrow of ‘Nguyen Van Thieu and his like’ to be replaced by ‘a new administration standing for peace, national concord, and scrupulous implementation of the Paris Agreement’ before talks could begin.
The PRG thus did not add further conditions in stating that the resignation of President Thieu was not fulfilment of the conditions they had presented.
Since the premise is not correct any conclusion drawn from it has no validity.
asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is true that a motion passed in the House of Representatives on 13 September 1973 called for a Royal Commission on this matter and included in the proposed terms of reference that the Commissioners should have regard to the United Nations’ declaration on the rights of children and the sanctity and preservation of human life.
Subsequent to this, Cabinet considered the question of establishing a Royal Commission for this purpose and the terms of reference of the Royal Commission are as decided by the Cabinet and drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. They are based upon those terms contained in the motion passed in the House of Representatives to which Senator Baume refers.
asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Matters Relating to the Public Service, upon notice:
– The Special Minister qf State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Matters Relating to the Public Service has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Public Service Board has provided the following information:
The employment figures in the answers provided relate to staff employed under the Public Service Act and exclude: staff of the departments of the Parliament part-time staff staff on leave for National Service (only applicable at 30 November 1 972 as there were no staff in this category at 31 March 1975) officers on leave under section72b of the Public Service Act to serve overseas as representatives of the Government.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 May 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19750522_senate_29_s64/>.