31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. I refer to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 10 March concerning Loan Council borrowings. Has the Government determined a maximum amount which it is prepared to allow the States, on behalf of local government and semi-government authorities, to borrow overseas without Loan Council approval? Does the Government intend to reduce its own borrowings on behalf of the Loan Council to offset this additional borrowing capacity that it now proposes to give to local government and semigovernment authorities? As the Government has repeatedly claimed that local government has never had it as good as it does under the existing arrangements, why is it now necessary to allow it this additional borrowing capacity? Can the Minister also explain why the Municipal Association of Tasmania considers the present arrangements inadequate and will be pressing for an increase in local government’s share under the present tax sharing arrangements?
– The recent decision regarding borrowing, particularly infrastructure borrowing, by States and local government was prompted by the Premiers of the States and has been under discussion at the Premiers Conference. Because it is an important matter, I propose to obtain a specific written answer to the initial part of Senator Wriedt ‘s question in case what I now say is not as precise as it ought to be. In the past local government authorities have been given, at each June meeting of the Loan Council, certain ceiling amounts that they can borrow. They borrow outside the ordinary loan raisings and therefore, by and large, do not create competition in interest rates. The semi-governmental borrowings are fixed at the Premiers Conference.
As to whether the Government intends to reduce its own borrowings on behalf of the Loan Council to offset the additional borrowing capacity it proposes to give to local government and semi-government authorities, my understanding is that that is not so. It is not intended that the spirit of the 1927 Financial Agreement should be broken in any way. It is intended that there should be within Australia one coordinating body that would prevent competition for loans on world or other markets, which would force up interest rates. The aim is that local government bodies and States, having had discussions with the Loan Council, should be able to borrow overseas, no doubt with a certificate from the Loan Council that they have such authority. The simple fact is that this has been the subject of recent discussion at the Premiers Conference. In case I have not been as precise as I should be, I will ask the Treasurer to give me written information to answer specifically the first part of the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources inform the Senate whether a large deposit of phosphate rock has been discovered west of Normanton in Queensland? If this is the case, is it intended that it shall be pipelined in a slurry form to Mornington Island for transhipping?
-I have no information on this matter. I will see whether I can seek the information for the honourable senator before the day is out.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Can the Minister give any indication of the information which it is intended should be collected at the 198 1 census? Is it a fact that the census form may be modified considerably from the form used in previous years? In view of the importance of the series of information obtained in the census for the monitoring of important trends in society, will the Minister tell the Senate what is planned?
-As Senator Button will know, in the last year or two considerable discussions have taken place about what should be included or not included in census forms. There has been something of a conflict between those who see the extension of the questioning to be an invasion of privacy and those who say that the information is necessary to do the essential things in planning the economy. I am not sure how that conflict of opinion has been resolved. I will seek the information and supply it to the honourable senator.
-Mr President, I wish to direct a supplementary question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The implication in my question was that the range of information which would be sought in the census in fact would be reduced rather than expanded. Consequent upon that, I ask whether the Minister can obtain information on the planned reductions in the range of information sought.
– Yes, I understand that. Indeed, that is precisely what I will do.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development aware that some 14 home owners in Salisbury, South Australia, are now placed in financial difficulties, with some of their homes being sold, because the building contractor to whom they were making loan repayments has become bankrupt? Is the Minister aware that these individuals stand to lose thousands of dollars invested in their homes through no real fault of their own? As it appears that the South Australian Government will do nothing, will the Commonwealth Government make inquiries to see whether there is any way in which these unfortunate people could be given assistance to save their homes and prevent their homes from being sold?
– I have some information on the problem. My understanding is that the builder entered into an arrangement with a finance company to subsidise his clients’ repayments while they were seeking longer term finance, that the builder has withdrawn from the arrangement and the finance company is now requesting payment from the home purchasers. Of course, as Senator Young would know, it is a matter wholly under State jurisdiction. Although I will bring the thrust of the honourable senator’s question to the attention of my colleague in another place, one can hope and trust that the finance company will be gentle in its application of any necessary actions for the future.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications refers to a question I asked the Minister on 22 February this year. In reply, the Minister agreed that the action of Mr Bruce Gyngell, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, in appearing in a promotion campaign for an American credit card company had been improper. The Minister assured the Senate that the advertisements featuring Mr Gyngell and the Tribunal would be withdrawn, although he warned the Senate that this might take a few days and the advertisements might continue to appear for a few days. As three weeks have passed and the advertisements are still appearing in a national weekly, can the Minister explain to the Senate why the Government has not carried out its assurances in this matter? I would also like to know why the Minister has not given me the promised information as to whether the other members of the Broadcasting Tribunal had given their approval to Mr Gyngell ‘s using the Tribunal’s name in this matter.
– I well remember the question and answer of 22 February. I do not think I indicated that the Government considered Mr Gyngell’s action improper. If I did, I think it was wrong. His action may have been illadvised. Maybe it is even a question of the ethical relationship of a person in a public situation. I should think that the suggestion of impropriety would be wrong. Indeed, I explained then, as I reiterate now, that Mr Gyngell had indicated that he was receiving no financial or other reward from these advertisments and that he would withdraw from any further action but that in respect of particular publications the printing and planning take place weeks ahead and everything would be done to try to terminate the advertisements. I will look at that aspect for the honourable senator. Only yesterday I reminded myself that I had not as yet supplied the answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question. I am seeking the answer now and will let her have it.
-Will the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs inform the chamber of the financial capabilities of the Tasmanian Government to compete with other States in offering benefits to encourage industries to set up in Tasmania? Is it in fact a matter of the priorities of the State Government?
– Quite clearly the Budget practices and results of the past two years have shown that the Tasmanian Government has had a very substantial financial capacity to act independently and flexibly to overcome major problems, particularly in commerce and industry. The Commonwealth Government acted rapidly and effectively in terms of freight equalisation, which was a great disadvantage to Tasmania, and to set up what I think was a very significant inquiry- that of Sir Bede Callaghanwhose report deserves the fullest study. There is no doubt in the world that the Tasmanian Government is capable all sorts of incentives- by rearrangement of its own tax incidence and charges- to encourage industries if it so desires. It is perfectly free to do so. If it does not it is because of a judgment by that Government of what it regards as priorities, and not its incapacity.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, arise from the one he has just answered and relates to his reference to the Callaghan report and his allegation for the umpteenth time that the Tasmanian Government has adequate resources to do certain things additional to what it is doing. If he has such faith in the Callaghan report, I ask him whether he read the submission at page 48 thereof by the Tasmanian Government, which specifically refutes the proposition he puts forward, that is, that the Tasmanian Government is in fact flooded with money, or words to that effect. I realise that I have limited opportunity to read material into a question. But will the Minister look at the first paragraph on page 48 of that submission and bring back to the Senate an argument which refutes the figures set out by the Tasmanian Treasurer which show quite clearly that the Tasmanian Treasury does not have the surplus money that the Minister claims it has?
-I take it that Senator Wriedt does not support the Callaghan report. He does not seem to do so. It is not surprising that I did not personally read the submission of the Tasmanian Government.
– It is about time you did. Then you would be in a position to talk.
-I shall do so. It is not surprising also that the Tasmanian Government set out, as State governments have done for 30 years, to try to prove its incapacity. Why would anyone except Senator Wriedt be surprised about that? Why would anyone except Senator Wriedt use it as a logical basis for further development of a question? It defeats me. Senator Wriedt, of course, cannot have understood that in the Budget before last- the Budget Papers are evidence of this- the Tasmanian Government made a surplus of approximately $4.1m in its revenue account and $ 16m or more in its capital account. Senator Wriedt asks whether I will provide an answer to his question. I simply say to him that the answers lie in the Budget and loan fund programs of the Tasmanian Government for the last two years.
– I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister give the Senate a refutation of the arguments advanced by the Tasmanian Treasurer in respect of this matter? I have the figures to which he has referred. I also have the answer. I invite him to read the paragraph of the submission to which I referred and then explain to the Senate the figures contained in the submission.
-I shall look at the paragraph on page 48 of the submission to which the honourable senator refers. I shall give the honourable senator and the Senate a response to it.
– I address to the Minister for Social Security a question concerning the family support services scheme about which announcements have been made recently. Will the scheme extend to the Australian Capital Territory? If so, what types of programs will be eligible for funding in the Territory?
- Senator Grimes mentioned this scheme yesterday and asked me for some information about it. The scheme is to be funded through the Office of Child Care. Funds have already been made available to several States. The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory will be participating in the scheme. It is called a family support services scheme. There is a 3-year funding program through the Office of Child Care to provide funds for voluntary community organisations which are engaged in activities of support to families such as family counselling, financial counselling, advisory services, and services relating to ethnic groups, Aborigines and lone parents. The scheme will not provide funds to organisations which are eligible to receive funding under any other Government program. We hope it will be of benefit to voluntary organisations in the community.
I understand that Mr Ellicott will make an announcement with regard to it. I think the provision for the Australian Capital Territory will be about $180,000. People interested in gaining funds from this source can apply to the welfare branch of the Department of the Capital Territory.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services whether the Government had a draft Archives Bill prepared for presentation to the Parliament towards the end of the last Parliament. Was that legislation lengthy and involved? Does the Government intend in the present sessional period to introduce that Bill or a similar Bill establishing the Australian Archives? In any event will the Government consider introducing a Bill of that nature at an early stage and allowing it to lie on the table of the Senate and the House of Representatives for some time to enable interested parties to submit their views on such important and complex legislation?
-As the honourable senator would know, I no longer have ministerial responsibility for archives. That responsibility now rests with my colleague the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Ellicott. It is true that there was a Bill almost at the stage of completion. I do not think it was very lengthy but it did cut across a range of activities. I will have to ask the Minister for Home Affairs what his present intentions are, but it was my intention when I had carriage of the proposed Bill that it be introduced in one period of sittings and then be open to and available for public criticism and comment. I will inquire of my colleague as to whether that is still the intention.
– I address a question to you, Mr President. I refer to the placard or painting- whatever it might be- which is now standing in King’s Hall, which was alleged to be a gift from New Zealand and which was the subject of a question to a Minister yesterday. In view of the fact that you, Mr President, and Mr Speaker are responsible for the control of Parliament House, when can the Senate be assured that this unsightly eyesore will be removed from King’s Hall so that it will no longer intimidate senators, members or visitors?
– I must say that I deeply regret the question directed to me by Senator Missen. We have in King’s Hall a gift from the Government and people of New Zealand to the people of Australia. That painting will be on display in King’s Hall until next week and then will be taken to the Australian National Gallery.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether I heard him correctly to say, when he replied to a question from Senator Walsh on 8 March about Australia’s balance of payments: 1 am also happy io say that in the past quarter there has been some movement towards a rectification of the balance of trade position.
If so, I would be interested in the Minister’s explanation of the fact that Australia’s overseas reserves fell by $68m in the week to last Wednesday and that this is the second largest decline that Australia has had in its reserves.
– It is true, as reported by Senator McAuliffe, that I made that response in a lengthy answer to a question from Senator Walsh. It is equally true that evidence can be produced to support my response. I will obtain the precise figures and let Senator McAuliffe have them.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to a report from the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance to the Australian Transport Advisory Council dated November 1977, and in particular to item No. DR1002-(4) headed ‘Surface Films on Vehicle Windows’ which appears on pages 11 and 12. This report was discussed at the 52nd annual meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council held recently in Wellington, New Zealand, and attended by the Federal Minister for Transport and his State counterparts. The Press statement issued after the meeting made no mention of this particular item. I ask the Minister: Was this item discussed at the meeting and was a decision reached? If a decision was reached, is the Minister able to say what it was?
– I have in my brief considerable information on the matter of tinted films on vehicle windows. This is important in a variety of ways, particularly in relation to safety. I am advised that, as is customary in respect of each meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, a report was submitted by the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance for consideration at the most recent meeting in New Zealand. Amongst many other things, the report described briefly progress on the development of draft regulations on the application of surface films to vehicle windows. This item was identified in the Committee’s forward work program, but no proposal for action by the Council was made; thus, no decision was needed or taken. In the normal course of events the Committee will make a proposal to the Council when it has completed its investigation on this matter. It should be understood, however, that any such proposal would be for the approval of a draft regulation. If adopted, it would become part of a body of model legislation established and published for the assistance of State and Territory administrations. Ultimately, it will be for the responsible Minister in each State or Territory to determine whether he will adopt the draft regulation into his own legislation.
– My question is directed to Senator Guilfoyle in her capacity as Minister for Social Security, Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister representing the Minister for Health. It is not a threepronged attack. Is the Minister aware that a Queensland State Minister, apparently on an instruction from the Queensland Premier, has directed staff of the Community Health Services Centre of the Department of Health in Townsville that they are not to associate with or join any committees on which there are representatives of the Aboriginal or Islander communities? As Commonwealth funds are directly involved, will the Minister do everything possible to have such a racist instruction cancelled as soon as possible?
– I am not aware of the matters that have been raised by Senator Keeffe. If they are statements of fact I will certainly consult with my colleagues to see what can be done to ensure that matters of health and welfare of Aborigines are protected so far as the Federal Government is concerned.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has the Government been approached by the Tasmanian Government for assistance in a power alcohol research project based on sugar beet? Has the question been considered? If so, has a decision been made? If not, when is it expected that the investigations will be finalised?
-Over the years in Australia there has been considerable interest in whether one can produce commercially, at competitive prices, ethanol and alcohol from sugar beet. The question is important in that I am advised that the experts consider that Tasmania could be a suitable place for the development of the sugar beet industry. The information I have is that the production of ethanol from sugar beet by fermentation is a well known process but one which so far has been given little attention in Australia because it has been regarded, until now, as uneconomic. Lately there has been renewed interest in this process, especially in Tasmania, which, of course, would provide an ideal location for the farming of sugar beet. Indeed, the subject was raised at the meeting of the Australian Minerals and Energy Council in Hobart last week. The Minister is having a proposal to establish this industry examined by his Department. He believes that it should be one of the early proposals assessed by the body which it is anticipated will be established soon to coordinate government funding of research, development and demonstration projects in the energy field.
The brighter prospects for this industry, if there are such, relate to two factors. Firstly, a new and more efficient flow process has been devised to produce the ethanol. Secondly, the need to restrict our consumption of petroleum may be assisted by the substitution of ethanol for motor spirit to the extent of using a 1 5 per cent ethanol mix in future petrol supplies. That, of course, would be a large proportion. Finally, clearly these matters require the most careful and thorough investigation since the implications of setting up a substantial industry to extract ethanol from sugar beet are considerable. The Minister for National Development hopes to be in a position within the next few months to make some announcement on the results of various assessments.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. How long is it since the consultative committees on child care have met? When will the Minister announce the new consultative arrangements?
– The arrangements for consulting the States on child care programs are a continuing process. In some places the State consultative committees on social welfare have established sub-committees to deal with child care matters. I am not aware of the dates of meetings of those sub-committees, but I can have that checked and give the information to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce. A recent article in a major newspaper on 8 March reported that a large international hotel chain had offered an Australian wine producer a contract for supplying its hotels with Australian wines. The article alleged that the producer apparently was not even interested enough to reply to its inquiries. Will the Minister approach the Minister for Industry and Commerce and inquire whether he is aware of this case? Will the Minister advise the
Senate of the relevance of it and similar cases to considerations of assistance for this industry? Further, will he make information available as to what efforts and incentives Australian Government agencies undertake and provide to encourage and facilitate wine export promotion overseas?
-I shall draw to the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce the matters raised by Senator Lajovic and seek to obtain an early answer from him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and refers to a question I asked on Tuesday relating to the Trade Union Training Authority. Is it true that a document was prepared for the National Labour Consultative Council by senior officers of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, under the Minister’s direction, discussing means of reducing the autonomy of the Trade Union Training Authority?
-As the Senate would be aware, at present the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is attending a conference in New Zealand. Therefore, I have not been able to have a discussion with him about the matter Senator Sibraa has raised. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations will be returning next week. I shall certainly draw his attention to this matter then.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. It has been reported that some 200 to 400 tonnes of uranium ore from the old workings of the Atomic Energy Commission at Rum Jungle have been dumped at Snake Creek. In view of the poor mining practices previously carried out in the area, which polluted streams, caused erosion, et cetera, will the Government advise whether dumping in the area creates any hazards for the people of the area and whether the streams will be contaminated? Is it the intention to clean up the old mining and treatment area of Rum Jungle to ensure that it conforms with present day methods of mining and protects both the environment and people?
– I have seen media reports suggesting that there might be some hazards regarding the dumpings from the old workings at Rum Jungle. I have no specific information to support any thought that there is a threat to health. My colleague, the Minister for National Development, who is responsible for atomic energy, has advised me that he has instigated an investigation of this matter and has asked for an early report on it. I have no doubt that he will make any relevant information available, but I shall make sure that Senator Kilgariff receives the basic information.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce indicate the extent of the total subsidy by way of tariffs, grants and other assistance being given to the vehicle building industry? Can he say how this compares with the wage bill of the vehicle building industry? Finally, can he say for what purposes these aids and subsidies are being given?
- Senator Haines gave me some indication that she would be raising this question, which is a very extensive one indeed. However, I am not able to provide the honourable senator with a completely satisfactory answer because all of the data is not available for such an exercise. I draw her attention to a report by the Industries Assistance Commission on motor vehicle import restrictions which was published in October 1975. That report indicated that the estimated level of assistance given to Australian manufacturers participating in the motor vehicle plan corresponded to a tariff of 45 per cent and was equivalent to about $4,000 per annum for each employee of manufacturers and their suppliers. That figure, of course, does not take into account assistance afforded by the plan or by quantitative restrictions; neither does it include the cost of assistance provided through the taxation system.
The Government believes that the forms of assistance that are provided to the industry are completely justified. The motor vehicle industry is one of Australia ‘s largest industries and it is the largest engineering industry. In economic terms it represents more than 6 per cent of manufacturing employment. It has important linkages with other industry sectors and it plays an important role in the development of technical and other innovative skills. It is of major importance to the economies of a number of cities and regional areas.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I draw his attention to an article in the Adelaide News of 9 March 1978, reporting a sweetheart agreement in South Australia between the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union and the Metal Trades Federation, providing for overaward wage increases ranging from $4 to $15 a week, which is labelled as an attempt to avert industrial action by 270 members of that union. I ask: Does such an agreement indicate further evidence of the success of guerrilla-type tactics by small groups of key workers in industry in obtaining excessive benefits, leading to extensive disruption in industry and to the public? Are such agreements inimical to the interests of Australians generally in effectively countering the Government’s actions in seeking a reduction in the rate of inflation?
– I do not have any facts about this case. I have not read the article. This is the first that I have heard of it. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I would not dream of saying anything about the matter without having the comments of the Minister on it. However, as to the general aspects of Senator Messner ‘s question, it is a fact that the Government has been concerned about these agreements which may be outside the indexation guidelines. We have constantly reiterated the need to adhere to the indexation guidelines. The industrial legislation provides that agreements of this kind can be reviewed by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. As to the facts of this case, I do not want to comment at this stage.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the inquiry into oil prices which is due to take place next Monday. Recognising that any further increase in the price of petroleum products in Australia would have a disastrous effect on inflation and costs generally, does the Government intend to state a case before the Prices Justification Tribunal? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the Government’s attitude to the proposed petrol price increase?
-I have no information on that matter but I shall seek it for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Minister for Home Affairs. I refer to a reported statement that more Australian men are turning to Asia for their brides. Can the Minister say what scientific or social reason is behind this tendency? What credibility can be given to the assertion of Sue Ling, manageress of Unique Agency which is a Melbourne introduction agency, that this is an ocker syndrome?
– I perhaps could assume that this question has more to do with Home Affairs than with the other portfolio mentioned. I am unable to tell the honourable senator why Australian men take certain actions. He may be more directly informed on that than I would be. It could perhaps be said that Australian women are seeking independence in many ways. The recognition of their independence, both economic and social, has been a matter of discussion in this country for some time. Perhaps there is a feeling of some threat to Australian men. The lesser opportunities given to women in other countries to assert their independence and to express their personalities may be attractive to Australian men. But I leave it to the Senate to determine whether it can throw any light on the manner in which Australian men express their preferences for brides.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Science, refers to a matter I mentioned to him yesterday, namely, the reported scientific observations of a nuclear powered Russian satellite during its passage over Australia. I also drew the attention of the Minister to the statement of Mr Duncan Campbell, a scientific writer, which appeared in most of the national Press yesterday, that in fact the technical and scientific personnel of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission were in some way involved during the orbit of that satellite over Australia. Is the Minister able to say whether the matters set out in that statement are true or false? To what extent is Australia bound by an international scientific arrangement in respect of the orbiting of such satellites? Are there scientific arrangements with the Soviet Union in relation to these matters? Were Australian scientific back-up ground personnel at all concerned about that experiment?
-The matter raised by Senator Bishop is perhaps one for concern. My own Department, of course, administers tracking stations in the Australian Capital Territory. These stations are basically National Aeronautic and Space Administration stations. They had no part in tracking the Cosmos satellite which was reported by Duncan Campbell to have taken a particular track over Australia. My understanding is that Duncan Campbell is the science writer for the British weekly New Scientist. He is a writer of considerable stature whose comment could be accepted.
There is a variety of tracking equipment in Australia, some attached to the Department of Defence and some with in my own Department. The honourable senator mentioned the interests of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Another Minister would have to respond in respect of that part of his question. So far as I am aware the Commission would have no particular knowledge of the Cosmos satellite. However, there are one or two matters that are of interest because it must be accepted that if that satellite was in an uncontrolled orbit it probably did represent a risk to Australia. My understanding is that the Department of Defence probably would have been tracking the satellite for some three months prior to its landing in Canada.
If in fact the satellite took the track that was described by Mr Duncan Campbell the possibility of its landing in this country would be dependent on its height. My understanding is that all satellites have a limited life. It may be as short as a few hours in the case of satellites which have a low orbit of, for instance, less than 140 kilometres above the earth, or a life of millions of years as in the case of the moon which in fact is a satellite so far as the earth is concerned. But orbits change and as the altitude of a satellite decreases some parts of it may burn up. If this happens it is difficult to trace. It is interesting to know some of the risks taken in space. Following Senator Bishop’s question, I was advised that, since 1957, 10,640 man-made objects in space have been catalogued. Earlier this year it was known that as many as 4,586 pieces of satellite were still floating around in space. As these come towards earth they pose some problems for Australia.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. With respect to the Minister, the information being given was not sought in the question. If any honourable senator wants the information he should get it after Question Time. The Senate should not be listening to all these details. It has other matters with which to deal.
– I would appreciate it if Ministers’ replies were as direct and as brief as possible.
-Mr President, I will consider taking a similar point of order when Senator Wriedt asks ridiculous questions from time to time.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs concerning the mission stations at Mornington Island and Aurukun in Queensland, about which so much was said last evening. Is it not a fact that the basis of the trouble that the Queensland Government sees is the separatism that is being practised between the Aborigines and the other people of Australia? Is the basis of this separatism the principle that the two races shall not mix? Is this not apartheid? Is this a policy that was initiated by the Whitlam Labor Government and which is now being followed by the Liberal socialist Government? Did the Minister hear in the radio news this morning that the ratbag socialists of the Uniting Church in Australia had stated that they wanted the separatism to continue? This indicates very clearly a strong form of apartheid to which the Prime Minister and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs have stated in the past that they are opposed. As it now appears that they support it, does that not indicate that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs are being hypocritical in supporting the move against the Queensland Government in this matter?
– Order! I draw Senator Wood ‘s attention to the fact that he may not use the word ‘hypocritical’ in respect of a member of the other place.
– First, the honourable senator asked whether it was a fact that the basis of the trouble with the Queensland Government was the separatism practised between Aborigines and the other people of Australia. The debate in the Senate yesterday expressed the view of the majority of honourable senators that the Aborigines at the two stations concerned should determine themselves the best way in which to administer and develop their communities in the future. As I said yesterday, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had a meeting with representatives of the Uniting Church in Australia and he hopes, I think, to have a meeting tomorrow with representatives of the Aboriginal communities. Arising out of all the discussions that have been held and the views that have been expressed in the past day or two, I believe, there is strong support for the right of the Aborigines themselves to express the way they wish to see their communities develop. I disagree with the implication in the question that apartheid is being practised in this country. On behalf of the Federal Government, I say that it would abhor apartheid not only in this country but also in any other country.
Yesterday I desisted from commenting on a rash statement about socialists in the Uniting Church because I felt it did not warrant an answer. If statements of that kind are to be made continually by Senator wood, I as one member of that Church would like to say that I do not accept the use of ‘socialists’ collectively in relation to members of that church. I think Senator Wood should desist from making statements of that kind.
With regard to Aborigines, there are many people in this country whose view is that there ought to be integration; there are others who talk of assimilation. The view of the Government is that it wishes to see self-determination by the Aborigines, with assistance from government and community bodies to see that their health, welfare and development are such as to make them equal citizens and make the Government proud of what they are able to accomplish.
Having said that, I take strong exception to the statement that the Prime Minister and Mr Viner are hypocritical in this instance. I believe that the Prime Minister, Mr Viner, other members of the Government and members of the Senate are at this stage all working towards fulfilment of the hope that the Aborigines in the two communities concerned will, through the national discussion of their situation, develop further and so enhance their prospects in the future. I believe that the sentiments expressed by Senator Wood have no support in this Senate.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Do I take it from the view expressed by the Minister that this Government believes in a policy of keeping people apart? How can a country such as Australia have its people intermingle if they are kept apart? Is this not apartheid in its extreme form?
– The views of Senator Wood on this matter are his own and he should not regard those views as being expressions of my views.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. To help her understand my question I remind her of the parable by Sara Dowse which I had incorporated in Hansard last Thursday week for the elucidation of honourable senators and which is entitled ‘The Witch that Came in from the Cold’. I refer to the statement made by the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Ellicott, on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8 March 1 978, in which he said:
The Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne … is the only organisation within the union movement providing support for women.
Is that not a calculated affront to all those registered industrial organisations, including my own, which have women members and which in fact have supported programs for their women members over many years? Will the Minister for Home Affairs retract his statement, which is an affront to the trade unions concerned? Is this yet another example of the handmaidens who now have been banished to an outer chamber barking up the wrong tree, whether it be magic or otherwise, while pulling the wool over the Minister’s eyes?
– The parables are a little obscure to me. I know members of the Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne. My contact with them has revealed that they have consistently been required to seek support from the Federal Government. One comment I make is that I would have expected that the trade union movement would have given greater financial support to the Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne because it is a group which is putting forward representations on behalf of working women. I do not take exception to the fact that Senator Harradine claims that all unions make representations on behalf of their women members. I just say that they have had remarkably little success in achieving many of the things that working women require in this country.
– Like equal pay. That is what we got- not the working women ‘s centre.
– The granting of equal pay followed a continuing process of argument that took place over a number of years by many groups in the community, not just Senator Harradine ‘s union. The women at the Working Women’s Centre require support if they are to continue the work that they are doing. I should hope that whatever statements were made by Mr Ellicott would lead to recognition of the fact that the working women’s centre has not had any continuity of supportive funds since it was formed some years ago. If the trade union movement feels it has a role to have expression through this centre, I hope that it will also support it with funds to enable its work to be continued. As to any affront to the trade union movement I do not think that this was Mr Ellicott ‘s intention in any remarks he expressed. I will refer the question to him to ascertain whether there is any further comment that he wishes to make on this subject.
– I direct a supplementary question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. The Minister missed the point of the question I asked. I asked whether the statement by the Minister for Home Affairs that the Working Women’s Centre is the only organisation within the trade union movement providing support for women was an affront to those other unions registered as industrial organisations. I ask the Minister directly: Does she agree with the statement made by the Minister for Home Affairs that the Working Women’s Centre is the only organisation within the trade union movement providing support for women?
– I have not seen the precise statement made by Mr Ellicott on this subject. I would say that many voices can be heard on women’s issues but some of the voices have not been heard as loudly or as clearly as they could have been over the past years. If the statement were made that one centre provided the only voice for women, I would have to argue that other voices are expressing the needs of women in industrial and working conditions and in social conditions. I would not consider a statement made by Mr Ellicott to be an affront to any other organisation. Perhaps a choice of words could have indicated that one group may be having more success in having its voice heard than others seem to be having.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. It relates to the present strike of mail van drivers in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, which is affecting the clearance of mails in Parliament House. Mr George Slater, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union, which covers the drivers and other postal workers, is reported as having said that the strike was without the authority of the federal executive of the union. A further reported statement of the federal executive indicating that it would direct the strikers to get back to work immediately is at complete variance with the statement by the New South Wales branch secretary that the drivers have really taken the strike out of the hands of the New South Wales branch and kept it in their own hands. The strike appears to be developing into a situation similar to the disastrous La Trobe Valley strike when the federal executive of a union was powerless to take effective action to settle the matter because shop stewards and other unauthorised persons took the matter into their own hands. Can the Minister say whether any action can be taken at government level to ensure that the executive of the union has the necessary backing to enforce its directive for a return to work?
-Of course, this matter which has developed amongst workers of the Austraiian Postal Commission is very serious. Because of the concerns that have been expressed in the honourable senator’s question, the matter needs to be given the very closest, continuous attention. Such matters certainly can rapidly get out of hand, in the way that he has indicated. However, there is major cause for optimism in this matter in that all of the parties concerned are engaged in discussions. Despite what may have been said by Mr Slater, or the loss of control by the executive of the union, all concerned are nevertheless participating in discussions and trying to solve the problem.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been notified of the matter. Conferences have taken place and I understand that today further Commission proceedings will follow. There is certainly reason to hope that the hearing before the Commission will be productive. It is our earnest hope at this stage that an early settlement will be reached. As regards any other action, I think it would be premature at this stage of the dispute for me to say anything further.
– My question to the Minister for Administrative Services refers to the statement he made last week on behalf of the Prime Minister that an independent assessor would consider the new tenderers for a computer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Trade. I ask: Has the Government yet appointed this independent assessor and, if so, will the Minister state his identity and background?
-Could I say first that the Opposition was a bit slow this morning. I would have thought that, in view of the Prime Minister’s answer, that question would have been over from the House of Representatives long ago; but it evidently takes 40 minutes to get it over to this place. My answer to the question is that I am almost certain that the assessor has not yet been appointed.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to page 194 of the report on Australian transport for 1976-77, which includes a table showing the results of examinations for marine certificates of competency and discloses a very high failure rate in examinations for master, mate and engineer. I ask: Does the high failure rate of candidates indicate that a standard has been developed to restrict the number of successful candidates?
– Earlier the honourable senator indicated that he would ask this question and I am therefore able to give him a specific answer. I am advised that the statistics in appendix 38, on page 194 of the annual report of the Department of Transport, do not indicate the failure rate at examinations; that it should be understood that in some cases candidates choose to take the examination in two parts; and that therefore it is not possible to deduce from the tables the actual failure rate. The Department does not have a policy of restricting the number of qualified officers by failing candidates at examinations. It is not possible to comment on whether there has been a reduction in the suitability of candidates coming forward for examination.
-I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he has studied further the suggestions that I made during the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General when I contrasted the accessibility of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s recruitment procedures to Mr Justice Smithers and to this Parliament which, although it authorises the expenditure, has no such information. Does the Minister believe that we could reactivate the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians, of which Senator Townley was chairman, or could the appropriate Estimates Committee ask some probing questions on the subject?
– Of course, Estimates committees ask a lot of probing questions in relation to administration, financial provisions and so on. However, the answers given would, of necessity, have to pay regard to the interests of security. As I have already, I believe, indicated in answer to a question by the honourable senator, I do not consider that the appointment of a parliamentary committee to monitor in any way the operations of security organisations of the Government would be either appropriate or desirable.
-Earlier today Senator Bonner asked a question concerning the discovery of a large deposit of phosphate rock west of Mornington in Queensland. I am now able to inform him that the Government is not aware of any new commercial discoveries of phosphate rock in the area to which he referred. However, large deposits in the Lady Annie area of northwest Queensland were discovered in the late 1960s. Feasibility studies done on these deposits included incineration of beneficiation at the mine site and piping in slurry form to a port site on Swears Island south of Mornington Island. However, with the development of the Duchess phosphate rock this proposal is not being proceeded with at this time.
-Yesterday Senator Lewis asked me a question concerning trade with the Netherlands. The Acting Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer The criticisms referred to by the honourable senator are referred to in an article published in the current issue of the journal of the Department of Trade and Resources entitled Overseas Trading’. The article is by Mr K. A. Baxter, the Australian Trade Commissioner at The Hague. The main purpose of the article is to bring to the attention of the Australian exporters the rewards that can be obtained as a result of successful marketing efforts in the Netherlands. Mr Baxter points out that the Netherlands depends largely on imports to supply its home market for consumer goods and capital equipment and, in recent years, rising production costs have made it increasingly attractive to substitute imports for local production. The article is part of the overall trade promotion program of the Department of Trade and Resources to encourage Australian manufacturers to develop overseas markets.
Other elements of the program which concern the Netherlands are departmentally sponsored participation in specialised trade fairs and facilitation of visits to Australia by influential buyers from Dutch trading firms. In addition, a top level Dutch economic mission visited Australia last year and held discussions with many Australian exporters. A mission representing the Port of Rotterdam is currently in Australia. It held discussions yesterday with senior officers of the Department of Trade and Resources. The Department of Trade and Resources in Australia and the Trade Commissioner in The Hague can be consulted by any interested Australian exporter on the best means of promoting products in the Netherlands.
-Yesterday Senator Mcintosh asked me a question concerning the acquisition of land on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands for the new quarantine site. I can advise him as follows: The Commonwealth has reached agreement with Mr Clunies-Ross on the acquisition of the land required for the animal quarantine station on West Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands. A contract of sale has been signed and the Commonwealth gained vacant possession of the land on 1 March 1978. In a commercial transaction of this nature it is usual that details remain confidential until all legal technicalities are finalised. In this instance certain arbitration provisions in the contract of sale mean that the final price paid for the land may not be determined for some time. Therefore, the completion of the contract with regard to the price is still some time off.
– For the information of honourable senators and so that Senator McLaren may have something to occupy him in the recess I present details of special flights by the Royal Australian Air Force for the period 1 July 1977 to 31 December 1977. Copies of this report are available from the Senate Records Office.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967, I present the annual report of the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education for the year ended 31 December 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the 1977 report of the South Australian Local Government Grants Commission on financial assistance for local government in that State. Due to the limited number available, copies of this report have been placed in the Senate Records Office and the Parliamentary Library. The determinations on allocations to local government authorities for 1977-78 made in this report have already been made available to honourable senators from South Australia.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report by the Bureau of Transport Economics entitled ‘Darwin and Northern Territory Freight Transport Study’.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral For the information of honourable senators I present the report by the Industries Assistance Commission on bottle washing machines (developing country preferences).
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations relating to its inquiry on the subject of Public Service computer use. As the report is very brief, I seek leave to read it to the Senate.
– The report states:
Report by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations on Public Service Computer Use
On 31 March 1977 the Senate referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations Tor investigation and report-Public Service Computer Use’. This matter was referred again to the Committee by the Senate on 28 February 1978.
Both references came from Estimates Committees. The report continues:
The Committee reported to the Senate on 1 June 1977 that because the subject was being investigated by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, this Committee proposed to take no further action on the reference.
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has informed me that its investigation of the subject has continued satisfactorily.
That Committee has sought and received submissions from the following departments and statutory bodies: Department of Construction; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; Public Service BoardMANDATA Inter Departmental Committee re Computer Use; Telecom; Department of Statistics; Department of Finance.
The submissions received were based on a questionnaire prepared by the Public Accounts Committee.
To date six days of public hearings have been held. These hearings covered the MANDATA project of the Public Service Board.
Because of the complexity of the subject matter the Public Accounts Committee is engaging consultants to analyse the evidence received in public hearings and to assist the Committee in the preparation of its report.
The Public Accounts Committee is not expected to report on this matter until October or November 1978.
In view of the fact that the Public Accounts Committee inquiry is proceeding and consistent with the attitude expressed by the Senate in adopting the second report of the Standing Orders Committee on 15 March 1977, that is that committees should attempt to avoid duplication of inquiries, this Committee will therefore take no further action on the subject pending the report of the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr President, I present a report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations on the Australian National Gallery annual report for 1975-76.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the paper.
- Mr President, I move:
I will briefly outline the nature of the report. Since May 1977 the Committee has been undertaking a continuing oversight of the financial and administrative affairs of Commowealth statutory authorities and other bodies which the Commonwealth owns or controls, including the appropriateness and significance of their practice in accounting to the Parliament. On 21 September, 1977 the Senate referred the National Gallery report to the Committee for investigation as to the reasons for the delay in its presentation. The Senate wished to seek an explanation for the report which covered a period of only 27 daysthat is, from 3 June 1976 to 30 June 1976- taking 1 5 months to be presented to the Parliament.
The report was the first annual report of the Australian National Gallery. It consisted of only 32 lines of typescript and noted that the Gallery neither incurred expenditure nor received income during the period. The Committee considered that the adequacy of the annual report of the Australian National Gallery should be examined as well as the time delay in its presentation. The Committee collected evidence from the National Gallery and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
As our report indicates, several factors were responsible for the delay in presenting the Gallery’s Report. Firstly, there was confusion as to whether a report was necessary at all as the National Gallery Act 1975 had been proclaimed for only 27 days of the financial year covered by the report. During this time expenditure of the Gallery had been undertaken from the appropriations of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Secondly, during this period the Gallery was hampered by a shortage of staff, as evidenced by a lack of documentary support as to when the report was forwarded to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Thirdly, and most significantly, there was confusion caused by the question of the Gallery’s acquisition policy.
On 23 February 1977 the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced that a statement of the acquisition policy was being prepared and it was understood by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet that it would be presented to the Parliament in the autumn sittings together with the report of the Gallery for 1975-76. The Department decided to hold over presenting the report. The reasons given for the lack of content in the Gallery’s report included the Prime Minister’s directive of 12 July 1976 seeking economy in the preparation of annual reports, the Crown Solicitor’s advice that due to the short time period and the fact that no expenditure was incurred only a brief report would be necessary and the advice given by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Gallery Council that it could not report on the activities of the previous Interim Council because it had been abandoned.
The Committee accepts the validity of these explanations for the delay in presenting the report and for its lack of content. More importantly, it also noted the assurances of those involved that no disrespect to Parliament was intended and that no repetition of the incident will occur. However, the Committee indicated to the National Gallery and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet the importance placed by the Parliament on all statutory authorities ensuring that the requirements of their governing Acts are complied with, particularly in relation to the prompt presentation of annual reports. Moreover, in the case of the report under investigation, the Committee felt that some background could have been provided on the Gallery’s activities, in spite of the difficulties involved. The Committee is currently preparing a separate report in relation to the general question of parliamentary oversight of statutory authorities. I would like to take the opportunity at this stage to indicate the Committee’s endorsement of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Publications in relation to the presentation of reports to Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
-I present the first report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave- adopted.
Senator KILGARIFF (Northern Territory) In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, 1 present the forty-first general report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I seek leave to make a short statement relating to the report.
– In tabling this report, I take the opportunity on behalf of the Committee to pay tribute to its retiring Chairman, the Hon. C. R. Kelly, for his dedication and untiring efforts to the Public Works Committee during his long service with the Committee. He had a real understanding of the workings and value of the Committee’s bipartisan role, representing as it does all political parties from both Houses of the Parliament.
Appendix A details the reports presented by the Committee during 1977. The proposals were most thoroughly examined, not only to assess the overall public value of the proposed works but also because the Committee had to satisfy itself as to the need for a project. It is the only committee that inquires in depth into Government expenditure before the expenditure is incurred. Despite the best intentions by departments in detailed investigations to foresee and overcome possible criticisms of proposed works, the Committee has been able to detect weaknesses and, on occasions, designs have been modified. In the case of the Katherine South Primary School, the scope of the proposal was reduced, resulting in a saving of $78,000. In the case of the Wallgrove Animal Quarantine Station, at the suggestion of the Committee, Horse grooms’ accommodation was redesigned at a saving of approximately $22,000. Other savings, not yet fully costed, are likely with the inquiries into the Antarctic Division Headquarters and the Royal Australian Air Force bases at Point Cook and Edinburgh. In summary, the Public Works Committee continues to function effectively as the watchdog of the Parliament over public works expenditure.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 4 April 1978, at 2.30 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President, or, in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees.
– by leave- I move:
I have asked the chairmen of the Estimates committees to look at whether we could have more Estimates committees, for example, six committees. There are some mechanical problems at the moment concerning the consideration of the Supplementary Estimates. The chairmen of the Estimates committees are going to pursue this problem with the clerks and seek their advice. I inform honourable senators also that, if this motion is agreed to, I hope this day to circulate the anticipated sitting times and days of the Estimates committees to consider the Supplementary Estimates.
– There has been some rearrangement of departments, has there not?
-There has been some rearrangement. The arrangement which I am proposing to the Senate is that the committees will fall into line with the ministerial representation in this place. Otherwise, Estimates Committee B for example, would be attended by five Ministers at various stages of its proceedings. I think we could have some mechanical problems, especially on non-sitting days.
– I have a question, Mr President. The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that if this motion were passed he hoped to circulate later today the sitting times of the Estimates committees. Could he also give some indication of when he expects the explanatory notes will be circulated?
– in reply- I am well aware of the fact that- I think it was in relation to Estimates Committee A- recently in the Senate a motion was moved indicating that explanatory notes ought to be circulated on the day the Estimates come to the Parliament. I am well aware of that request. I have asked the departments which I will be looking after to comply with that, if possible. I have also asked my ministerial colleagues to take the same action. As far as I am able to achieve it, explanatory notes will be circulated as soon as the Estimates come into the other place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a first time.
Senator DURACK (Western Australia-
Attorney-General) ( 1 1 . 53)- I move:
Mr President, I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to give effect to the Government’s decision to provide assistance to the manufacture in Australia of bench or pedestal drilling machines. These machines which are non-power fed are operated by means of belt-driven pulleys and have a drilling capacity of not more than 60 millimetres in mild steel under continuous operation in normal working conditions. Following advice from the Industries Assistance Commission in its report No. 146 of 30 September 1977 on bench or pedestal drilling machines belt driven pulley operated (non-power fed), it has been decided to accord assistance, by way of a bounty scheme, providing for payment to Australian manufacturers of a bounty at the rate of one-third of the factory cost of the machines.
The bounty, which is payable from 1 January 1978, is seen by the Government as according short-term assistance to local manufacturers pending implementation of the decision on the longer-term assistance to the metal working machine tool industry. The question of long-term assistance has been reviewed by the Industries Assistance Commission and the Commission’s report in this regard was circulated to interested parties in October 1977. Because of the shortterm nature of the proposal, provision has been made for the scheme to cease on 30 June 1979 or such earlier date as is fixed by proclamation.
Clause 20 of the Bill continues the Government’s policy of expanding, wherever possible, the Jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to administrative decisions which affect the rights or entitlements of persons under Commonwealth legislation. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15 March on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Prior to the adjournment of the Senate last evening we were debating the Bounty (Polyester-Cotton Yarn) Bill 1978. In the course of my remarks I had stated my Party’s view on this Bill, namely, that we were not proposing to oppose the Bill but that we did have some reservations about whether the Bill in fact would achieve the desired result and intention as described in the Industries Assistance Commission report. We are mindful of the fact that the IAC is purely an advisory body to the Government. Nevertheless, we have grave doubts as to whether the Bill will achieve the desired effect. That was to ensure the provision of a bounty at a rate broadly equivalent to the local producers price disability per kilogram. As the Industries Assistance Commission indicated, that would enable the local industry in the short term to compete on reasonable terms with imports of fine count polyester-cotton yarn and it should result in improved levels of activity in employment. I raised a number of matters last evening to which I am sure the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) will respond in due course. When the adjournemnt of the debate was reached last evening I had stated the period for which the Act would apply. I refer to clause 7 of the Bill which states:
The rate at which bounty is payable in respect of bountiable yarn is $ 1 . 1 5 per kilogram of the weight of the yarn.
Regrettably this clause may well conflict with clause 8, sub-clauses (2) and (3). Among other things clause 8 describes the amount of money which will be available and the limit of the available bounty. Sub-clause (2) states:
Where the amount available for the payment of bounty in respect of bountiable yarn in respect of which bounty becomes payable in a period to which this Act applies is insufficient for the payment in full of all valid claims in respect of that bountiable yarn, the bounty otherwise payable in respect of each of those claims shall be reduced to an amount that bears the same proportion to the amount of the claim as the amount so available bears to the total amount of all those claims.
That simply means that if insufficient moneys are available for valid claims there will have to be what I suppose one can describe as a pro rata payment which obviously would be less than the amount described in clause 7, namely, $1.15 per kilogram of the weight of the yarn. That certainly causes us some concern. I repeat that that does not meet with the object of the provision of the bounty to provide a bountry rate broadly equivalent to the local producers price disability per kilogram. If that were the case, then the intention of the recommendation would not be realised because the local industry would not secure that level of support necessary to guarantee it and to ensure improved levels of activity in employment. I am sure this is something which will concern the Government. We are concerned also about a provision in clause 22. Whilst we agree with and commend the Government for the inclusion of clause 22, the Minister in his second reading speech stated:
Clause 22 of the Bill continues the Government’s policy of expanding, wherever possible, the jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to administrative decisions which affect rights or entitlements of persons under Commonwealth legislation.
As I say, we commend the Government for that inclusion. However, I am mystified as to why limitations are imposed in clause 22 which states:
Applications may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of-
a refusal of the Minister to register premises under section 12, not being a refusal by virtue of sub-section 12 (5);
Sub-clause 12(5) states:
Where an applicant under this section was not, on 1 October 1977, engaged in the spinning of bountiable yarn at the premises to which the application relates, the Minister shall refuse to register those premises unless, in the opinion of the Minister, the registration of those premises will promote the orderly development of the production of bountiable yarn in Australia.
My understanding of that sub-clause is that a current manufacturer of bountiable yarn who was not producing bountiable yarn on or prior to 1 October 1977 may be, and can in fact be, refused registration by the Minister. That applicant is denied the right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the Minister’s decision. I ask the Attorney-General whether he would be good enough to clarify that position.
One other appeal provision which I find a little puzzling is sub-clause (b) of clause 22. Clause 22 sets out the nature of applications that may be reviewed by the Tribunal. Sub-clause (b) refers to an approval of the Minister given under section 10 or a refusal of the Minister to give an approval under that section. Clause 10 states:
1 ) Where an application for bounty in respect of bountiable yarn is lodged in accordance with the regulations, the Minister shall-
If the application is approved by the Minister as satisfying the requirements of the payment of the bounty I find it difficult to understand why there should be a provision under clause 22 for a review of the Minister’s approval given under clause 10. Who would be making the application for that review? As I understand the position, the parties entitled to make application for a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal would be applicants who had lodged applications for registration. I find it difficult to understand why a successful applicant would seek a review of his successful application.
I have outlined a number of matters that the Opposition believes require clarification. Above all, the Opposition is greatly concerned that manufacturers of bountiable yarn can be excluded from an entitlement to payment. They can be excluded on a number of grounds. The provision we are concerned about, of course, is that described in sub-clause 12 (5). Approximately five months have passed since the Bill was deemed to have come into operation, on 1 October 1977. The Opposition believes it would be improper if a manufacturer who did not have any knowledge of the intention of the Government between 1 October 1977 and the introduction of this legislation last week in the other place and who decided to invest in equipment during this period- I understand that specialised equipment is required for the production of this type of yarn- should find that he is likely to be precluded from his right to make a successful application for the registration of his premises and so be entitled to payment of the bounty.
I repeat that the Opposition supports the Bill, but it has grave concern as to whether it will achieve the desired results, because of the way in which the Bill prescribes the method of application of the bounty. The Opposition hopes that the Attorney-General in due course can allay its fears and that the intention of the report and recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission will achieve the desired result for the industry.
– in reply- I thank the Senate for supporting this measure. Senator Brown, who expressed the support of the Opposition, raised a number of matters, all of which I suggest, with respect, are matters for the Committee of the Whole rather than matters for the second reading stage. As the honourable senator has raised these matters at this stage, I will take the opportunity to answer, or endeavour to answer, his queries. Senator Brown raised the first matter which relates to the power of the Minister to refuse to register premises for the purpose of the bounty where the applicant was not engaged in spinning bountiable yarn on 1 October 1977. The object of this provision, of course, is to prevent the uneconomic fragmentation of the industry, which possibly may occur. It is really a policy decision. There are precedents for such a provision. They are in other bounty Acts such as the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966, the Metal Working Machine Tools Bounty Act 1972 and the Automatic Data Processing Equipment Bounty Act 1 977.
I suppose really this measure is designed to protect the revenue and to ensure that the bounty will be payable where there is economic production. The provision will ensure that the bounty will not be picked up by people who may seek to take advantage of the entitlement while it lasts but who had not been in production at the time the bounty was instituted. As Senator Brown has pointed out, under these circumstances appeals cannot be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, for the reason that the payment of a bounty is regarded as a policy matter. Of course, a Minister who took action in that way would be answerable to the Parliament.
The Tribunal has a widening jurisdiction, but there is concern not only, on the part of the Government in conferring jurisdiction in relation to policy but, I can also assure the Senate, on the part of the Tribunal itself about being involved in policy considerations. It is not an appropriate type of question for an appeal to a semi-judicial body. Appeals to such a body should be on a question of fact or a question of law, with which those sitting on such a body are trained to deal. But when questions of policy arise, as they will under this legislation, it is regarded as suitable and proper for the Minister to make the decision and answer for it in the normal way.
Senator Brown pointed out that under clause 7 of the Bill the rate of bounty is stated to be $ 1 . 1 5 per kilo and that under clause 8 there is a ceiling of $600,000 on the total bounty payable in any one year. It is true that in certain circumstances the bounty may be reduced below $1.15 per kilo as a result of the operation of the ceiling. This would occur when the production of bountiable yarn was more than could be met within the ceiling at the rate of $ 1 . 1 5 per kilo. However, it is not expected that this situation will arise. The ceiling of $600,000 is in accordance with the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission. It is not a figure which the Government selected for its own budgetary reasons; it is the figure which it was recommended should not be exceeded, and the Government is simply picking up that recommendation. There is only one producer of polyester-cotton yarn at this stage and it is possible within the ceiling to pay the bounty in respect of his production. So at this stage there is no reason to believe that the bounty will be reduced. Of course, if it were reduced, it would be reduced on a pro rata basis, and the partial loss of bounty would be shared between the existing producer and any new producer. The possibility of production going beyond the bounty ceiling is a factor that would have to be taken into account by the Minister in deciding whether to let another company enter into production.
Senator Brown also referred to the operation of the phosphate fertilisers bounty legislation. I did not quite follow his argument on this matter. The phosphate fertilisers bounty legislation provides, as does this Bill, for the payment of a bounty to manufacturers. The only difference between the phosphate fertilisers bounty legislation and the present Bill is that the phosphate fertilisers bounty legislation provides that the benefit of the bounty must be passed on to the purchaser whereas it is assumed that commercial considerations will dictate that the benefit of the bounty payable under this Bill will in all probability be passed on. Apart from that fact, the bounty is paid to the manufacturer under both pieces of legislation. The purchaser does not gain any direct price benefit.
Senator Brown raised only one other matter on which I thought I should comment. Perhaps he will remind me if I have overlooked anything. He referred to the constitutional power to confine the payment of bounty to bountiable yarn spun in registered premises and the Minister’s power to register premises and in that way to select who is entitled to the bounty. I noted the section of the Constitution to which Senator Brown referred. I would not want to express any definitive opinion on it. Really it is a matter that could well be left to the High Court. I should not try to anticipate the decision of the Court should it consider the question. Certainly this is a power which has been exercised in other bounty legislation. The provision has existed for a long time and has never been challenged. Our legal opinion is that it comes within the provisions of the Constitution. It has certainly survived the test of time and there are precedents for it. Whether the point could be successfully argued in the High Court could be tested only if somebody referred it to the High Court. Certainly the Government believes it is justified in proceeding as it has with this legislation and with other legislation concerning bounties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 7 March on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to amend the Control of Naval Waters Act 1918. The purpose of the legislation, which I would assume will not delay the Senate unduly, is essentially to bring up to date a fairly old piece of legislation, being legislation which goes back to 1918 and which has been amended on a couple of occasions in the past. But this Bill appears to contain a more substantial series of amendments than we have seen in the past. The objective is to make quite significant changes to provisions of the original Act regulating the movement of vessels and other activities. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that those areas which are defined as naval waters and in which naval operations take place are afforded proper protection and that the authorities are able to make certain that no activities take place which could be interpreted as hostile or detrimental to the defence forces. In that context I do not think anyone would have any argument with the legislation. Nevertheless I wish to raise two or three matters which perhaps more appropriately should be raised in the Committee stage. In view of what I assume will be a brief debate on this Bill, perhaps I could refer to them during the second reading debate.
Notwithstanding the need to ensure that proper protection is afforded to the defence forces, I feel certain I speak for all members of the Parliament when I say that we would not wish to see things done which perhaps unreasonably impose on the rights of the individual. We know that in all matters relating to defence certain rights must be foregone. It is important when we amend an Act of this nature that we should endeavour to achieve the objective which the Bill seeks but at the same time we should ensure that it does not go beyond what might be considered a reasonable thing. In more specific terms I would like to refer to proposed new section 3a in which there is quite a significant change in the definition relating to the vessels involved. Under the Act, ‘vessel’ refers specifically to vessels other than those of the Royal Navy or the naval force of the Commonwealth. Under proposed new section 3a a new definition of exempt vessel is given. It reads:
The Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare all vessels, or a specified vessel, belonging to, or used by, the naval forces of a specified country to be exempt vessels or an exempt vessel, as the case may be . . .
When the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (Mr McLeay) replied to the honourable member for Corio, Mr Scholes, on this matter in the other place, as I read his speech, he defined the division in this proposed new section to mean that an exempt vessel, that is, the naval forces of a specified country, would refer to the naval vessel of a friendly country. That gives a much more limited interpretation of what the provision means. When I read the Bill I assumed that the term ‘a specified country’ could mean any country including our own country. I ask the Minister to clarify whether, in fact, that is what is intended. Let me draw this example to the attention of the Senate. It is difficult to name a country which may not be considered to be a friendly country in a case like this, but let me assume that a Chinese naval vessel comes to Australia on a goodwill visit. It may be a matter of judgment as to whether we say that that vessel is representing a friendly nation. As I understand it, by the definition which the Minister in the other place has put upon the term ‘specified country’, it may be an arbitrary decision at the time that that vessel may not be afforded the protection or the care that would normally accrue certainly to our own naval vessels and those of other countries in relation to which there would be no argument about whether they were regarded as friendly. Perhaps the Minister might indicate, with the help of his advisers, whether my interpretation is correct.
I refer now to section 4 of the Act which is dealt with on page 3 of the amending Bill. Paragraph (h) of the Act reads: for prohibiting or regulating the breaming or careening and cleaning of vessels in any specified part of naval waters.
The following words are to be added to the paragraph: or on the foreshore of any specified part of any naval waters.
I do not know how a vessel can be careened other than on the foreshore. I assume that it is possible certainly to bream a vessel off a foreshore and to clean it off a foreshore to a limited extent. But I would have thought that the paragraph could have been worded more carefully. In fact, I almost wonder what is the need for it. I cannot remember- I doubt whether anyone can remember- the last occasion on which a vessel was breamed in Australian waters. Those vessels that were careened would have been small vessels. Normally, we do not see this practice in the southern parts of Australia. It is still the practice occasionally in northern waters. Perhaps we could be told why we are retaining in the legislation what is almost historical language now.
I now turn to deal with paragraphs (k) and ( 1 ) of section 4 which are amended fairly specifically. There seems to be a tightening up which, as I have indicated, may well be justified. In proposed new paragraph (k) we find that the restrictions apply to persons to whom I can not find reference in the Act. Of course, reference is made to vessels but not to persons. It is quite clear that the proposed new paragraphs widen the provisions of the Act. It is in this area that these rather arbitrary powers are being given to an individual. Originally under the definition, the power was given to a senior naval officer. That is fairly distinct. But under this legislation, reference is made to the category of an authorised person.
– It is a prescribed person. That person may be anybody who perhaps does not understand fully the implications of the area in which he may be dealing. I assume that such a person would be someone conversant with this type of work and this type of surveillance. But it is possible that this might not be the case. I am not sure whether it was an omission on the part of the draftsman, but by clause 5 of the Bill section 5 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the word ‘defined ‘. There does not appear to be any deletion of the word ‘defined ‘ in clause 6. If the word ‘defined’ is to be taken out of section 5 of the Act, I ask the Minister, whether, in view of the new definitions, it is also to be taken out of section 6.
Again, a significant change is made in clause 6 of the legislation. The Act refers to something being done about a particular vessel. Section 6(2) states that when any action is taken to sever a chain, rope and so on, there must be first put on board a sufficient number of persons for the protection of the vessel in case there is not a sufficient number of persons on board to protect the same. That is what is stated in the Act. That is now to be deleted altogether. We find that the superintendent can take quite arbitrary action, as I read the Bill, to deal with a situation. The Bill states quite clearly that if there is no person on board the superintendent may cause the vessel to be moored, anchored, placed, unmoored, removed, et cetera in accordance with directions given by him. For that purpose, he may do or cause to be done such things as he considers necessary. Quite a significant change is to be made to the Act in that respect. The Act obviously intends that there should be a proper protection of the property. I would have thought that as this legislation retains the right of civil recovery by any action taken by an authorised person which could not be upheld in a court, that protecting provision also would have been maintained.
We find a similar position again in clause 7. Proposed new section 7(l)(c) presumably replaces the present section 7 (2). I notice also that the draftsman continues to use the old term laid by’ which I do not think has been used for donkey’s years. The term which is normally used is ‘laid up’. However, I am not going to worry much about that.
The term ‘abandoned’ now appears where I could not find reference to it before. That raises the question, of course, of the definition of ‘abandoned vessel’, bearing in mind that we are talking about tens of thousands of pleasure craft, fishing vessels and so on in Australian waters, any one of which could be affected by this. For instance, a vessel may be temporarily abandoned while someone paddles off in a dinghy or some such thing. Are we to assume that that constitutes abandonment and therefore brings that vessel within the provisions of the Act?
I am not sure whether section 9, concerning service of summons, is to be repealed. Perhaps the Minister could indicate whether this is so. Certainly, I do not think the Bill is one over which the Opposition has any real concern, but in respect to the matters to which I have referred I thought it advisable to seek clarification.
– in reply- I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his comments, and especially for his very constructive questioning on what is contained in the Bill. I am advised that, the term exempt vessel’ in proposed new section 3a is not intended to be defined restrictively and is designed purely for purposes of flexibility. The honourable senator mentioned that the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) had referred to the use of the term ‘friendly vessels’. I think we would all agree that that is almost impossible of definition.
-But I would assume that any vessel which was in our waters either at the invitation of the Australian Government, or which remained here with the consent of the Government, would have to be put in that category. I do not believe it would matter over much from which country of the world the vessel came. I doubt very much whether ships of war belonging to any nation would come to Australia without first having either this country’s invitation or consent. Under those circumstances, I would imagine that, relying on the normal comity that exists between nations, if Australia invited a ship of war from any country to visit its waters that ship would be treated as friendly and would no doubt fall within the definition in the Act.
The honourable senator also raised some rather interesting technical questions. Referring first to the proposed addition to section 4 (h) of the words ‘or on the foreshore of any specified part of any naval waters’, as I read the old Act, it could be said that one could control breaming or careening in naval waters only. I believe, as does the honourable senator, that that is basically an absurdity. The vessel must also be on shore during some part of the process. I would imagine that the intention is to make more certain the purpose of section 4 (h), as presently written. I am advised that it is, again, aimed at achieving flexibility of control of the foreshores of naval waters.
Turning to proposed new paragraph (k) of section 4, it is interesting to note that it speaks of prescribed persons’. That would have to be done by regulation tabled in this place, and become a matter of public knowledge. Moreover, subject to my advisers concurring, I assume it would be subject to disallowance by either House of the Parliament. The honourable senator rightly points to the problem of preserving the individual liberties of the citizen. Those liberties are more likely to be preserved if there is parliamentary oversight of the persons being prescribed, rather than would be the case under the term that is so often used- of authorised persons or persons authorised by the Minister- or one to whom the Minister may delegate certain powers.
Turning to proposed new section 6, on the face of it the superintendent would have greater power. I have compared the old Act with what is proposed and find that there has never been any exemption of the superintendent from civil liability. One is not permitted to give a legal opinion, and I am not attempting to do that, but I would imagine that if the superintendent caused a vessel to be moored, anchored, placed, removed, et cetera, he would have to take reasonable care, under the normal doctrine of negligence; that if he acted negligently or carelessly he would not, as far as I can see, enjoy exemption from civil liability under either the present Act or the proposed Act. I would suggest that, in the circumstances, the citizen has that de gree of protection.
The honourable senator raised, of course, the amendment to section 7, and it is interesting to note that the provisions run together in both the Bill and the Act- and the problem with the word abandoned ‘. There are normally great problems involved in defining when a person abandons any property. There is the old example of the finder of a five pound note in the street putting it in his pocket. It is not, as I understand it, a case of finders keepers; one really needs some sort of indication that the person who dropped it from his pocket intended to abandon it and have no further claim to it. It is a difficult area and involves, I suppose, on the balance of probabilities and in the normal sort of action, whether or not the superintendent had proper reason to believe that the vessel had been in fact abandoned. That is a matter of evidence, a matter of proof. I would not conceive that ‘abandoned’ would cover the case the honourable senator mentioned of a new $10,000 pleasure boat that had been drawn up on the beach and left there overnight. One would hardly describe it as having been abandoned. I would imagine that any normally prudent person would, before he began to regard a vessel as abandoned in that sense, require a reasonable degree of evidence that in fact the person who may have had it in his possession, or whose property it was, had by some quite obvious act abandoned his property, or possession. A lot of these matters depend, of course, on judgments taken at the time and in the particular circumstances of the case.
The honourable senator also asked whether section 9 of the old Act had been repealed. From my reading of the Bill, section 9 has been retained. I do not know whether the numbering of the clauses in the Bill should have been different. Certainly it is the same as that in the present Act, and relates only to those matters which are in course under the Act as it stands. The honourable senator will see that any instrument which was in force will continue in force and that regulations made before the commencement of this legislation will also continue to have effect. Section 9 of the present Act will stand. Clause 9 of the Bill, as the marginal note states, is merely a savings clause to continue in force all those instruments, actions and proceedings which were in train at the commencement of this Act. Clause 9 sub-clause (3) states:
Where, before the commencement of this Act, a Senior Naval Officer incurred expenses in the execution of any power . . . section 8 of the Principal Act continues to apply . . .
It is not intended that the new Act will apply to matters in train at the moment; it will apply to future events. That is the meaning of that clause. Section 6 of the existing Act is replaced by clause 6 of the Bill. I think the Senate understands that. I have been asked whether there are any altitude limits under 4 metres in relation to airspace. I do not know where that question arose.
– It is in sub-clause 4 (m).
-Sub-clause 4 (m) of the Bill relates to prohibiting or restricting certain acts. It provides the capacity to make regulations to do certain things. All that clause does is permit the Governor-General to make regulations concerning those matters. Sub-clause 4(m) paragraph (ii) refers to the airspace over any naval waters or any specified part of any naval waters. That sub-clause only gives the power to make regulations concerning that matter. Naturally, regulations will be subject to disallowance by either House of Parliament. They will certainly be subject to the scrutiny of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee. As we well know, that Committee will certainly look very hard at whether the rights of the individual have in any way been upset by arbitrary decisions, whether there is retrospectivity or whether there has been undue intrusion. That Committee will carry out the normal and proper tests it places on regulations made under the authority of the Parliament. I put it to the Senate that the mere power to make regulations in itself is reasonable, provided that there is proper provision for adequate parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations made under that power. I hope I have answered the questions raised by the honourable senator. If I have not, no doubt he will advise me in the Committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the text of the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
The main purpose of the Bill relates to the arrangements agreed upon between the South Australian and Commonwealth governments to finalise the transfer of the non-metropolitan South Australian railways to the Commonwealth. In accordance with those arrangements, provisions are to be included in the Australian National Railways Act which will allow transferring South Australian railway employees to maintain their current long service leave entitlements and their workmen’s compensation arrangements. The Bill also includes a minor amendment to the principal Act to preserve the long service leave entitlements of a small number of employees of the former Commonwealth Railways.
Before turning to the details of the Bill, I want to remind honourable senators of some of the background to the proposals now before the Senate. As honourable senators will be aware, the arrangements whereby the non-metropolitan South Australian railways and the Tasmanian railways were transferred to the Commonwealth resulted from a policy initiated by the former Labor Government. The transfer of the liabilities and assets of both these railways took place on 1 July 1 975. However, the railways continued to be operated by the State authorities concerned, but subject to direction by the Australian National Railways Commission. During the period since 1 July 1975, the Commonwealth Government has been working with the governments of South Australia and Tasmania, as well as with representatives of unions and railway management, to finalise a number of detailed operational and industrial issues. In December 1977 the three governments agreed that all matters had progressed to the point where a date for completion of the transfers could be set. This date, called the ‘Declared Date’ in the transfer agreements, was 1 March 1978. From that date, the Australian National Railways Commission assumed full control of the complete ANR system.
This is not the occasion for a long statement on railway policies. There are, however, a number of comments which are appropriate at this point. First, the completion of the transfers will place the ANR in a far better position to get on with the number one task of increasing the overall efficiency of services and reducing their deficits. I also remind honourable senators that the Government has recently announced new measures aimed at assisting the railways operated by the State governments. The Government has undertaken to provide substantial support for the setting up of the Australian Railway Research and Development Organisation, which is designed to improve the railway systems’ analysis and development capability. The work of setting up this organisation is well under way and the Government will be looking for it to come up with constructive, managementoriented proposals, to improve the railways’ overall commercial and operational performance. The Government has also announced it will provide substantial capital assistance, amounting to some $70m over the next five years, to upgrade State government railways that are part of the main interstate national railway network, and $65m to upgrade interstate railways in Western Australia. This proposal was discussed by Ministers at the last meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. All State Ministers welcomed the Government’s initiative, and discussions have already commenced at officer level on the details of this proposal. The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) hopes to be able to bring forward proposals for consideration by the Parliament during the autumn session.
Turning to the Bill, I have circulated an explanatory memorandum to assist honourable senators. One point of clarification may however be appropriate. While the substance of the Bill covers arrangements with regard to transferring South Australian employees, there was no requirement for such arrangements with regard to transferring Tasmanian employees, but there are a number of machinery references to Tasmanian employees. Honourable senators will note that the legislation has been drafted to provide for retrospective operation as from 1 March 1978, and clause 2 covers this aspect. The substantive provisions relating to long service leave and workers compensation are set out in clause S. The agreement reached on long service leave is that transferring South Australian employees who make application for long service leave or pay in lieu, after the declared date, will be entitled to either the State provisions which apply on 1 March 1978 or the Commonwealth provisions applying at the date of the application, whichever is the more favourable. The agreed arrangement in respect of workers compensation is that transferring South Australian employees will be given the right to elect, at the time of injury, to have their claim for compensation dealt with under either Commonwealth or State workers compensation legislation. Provisions have been included to achieve this, and no reciprocal amendment of State legislation is required. Clause 5 also preserves the long service leave entitlements of a small number of railway employees, whose employment with the former Commonwealth Railways began before 7 October 1944. Their entitlement was originally defined under a 1936 railway by-law. This by-law will be repealed as from the declared date, and the proposed clause in effect expressed their entitlement as part of the principal Act.
The other clauses of the Bill are the normal definitions and machinery clauses and are selfexplanatory. Although the long service leave and workmen’s compensation amendments relate to areas normally within the responsibility of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Security, the particular provisions relate only to railway employees and for this reason it was thought more appropriate to amend the Railways Act, rather than other Commonwealth legislation. The Bill as presented to the Senate incorporates amendments adopted in another place. These amendments resulted from representations made to the Government in relation to the application of section 98 of the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act which otherwise would have precluded a compensation payment in respect of an injury for which a repatriation pension is payable. The amendments preserve the right which the transferred South Australian employees had under the State provisions to compensation payments in respect of such injuries. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Opposition supports the legislation and agrees that it should have a speedy passage through all stages. It might be using too strong a phrase to say that some matters were in dispute, but there were some sections of the Bill which were not understood. They certainly have been reconciled between the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), the State Minister, Mr Virgo, the unions and the management. The Opposition therefore trusts that the Bill will go through without any delay.
– in reply- I commend the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 8 March.
First Report of the Fifty-ninth Session.
– Item 5, which concerns the functions and staff of Estimates committees, is of interest to me. One of the activities that I have valued in the Senate has been the opportunity to serve on Estimates committees and there to learn some of the extra details of the functioning of government departments and to obtain extra information about not only the construction of Budgets but also some of the reasoning behind them. I completely concur with what the Standing Orders Committee has said; that is, that there is value in the Estimates function of the Senate being extended. It seems to me that we have difficulties in analysing departmental submissions when they come to hand, we have a need of some assistance in the preparation of our questions for Estimates committees and we also require assistance in the analysis of the answers we receive in order to know exactly what information has been obtained and what extra information needs to be obtained.
The committees already are served in an administrative sense by the staff of the Senate. I simply place on record my appreciation- and, I think, the appreciation of all chairmen of Estimates committees- of the assistance we receive from the Clerks who service the committees and who make sure that we are able to conduct our business. I take it that the staffing assistance being discussed goes beyond this and is in the nature of research assistance of a special kind. At this point I would like to move slightly beyond what the Standing Orders Committee has suggested. The question might be, firstly, not only whether we should have staffing assistance on the Estimates committees but also who should be employed to give this assistance; and, secondly, how the system should be introduced and from where the staffing support should come.
I see a need for the Estimates committees, if they are to do their job in the best possible way, to have specialised staff. The Estimates function is a particular specialist function. Having served on many committees of the Senate, it is quite clear to me that the Estimates committees are unlike any other committees of the Senate. They are called on to do a particular job that requires particular analytical skills. I am in no way criticising any of the staff of our present committee secretariatfar from it- but, if I were chairman of an Estimates committee, I would want to have available to me someone who was used to public accounting and the kind of analysis which has to go into the understanding of the Estimates and who would help me determine what kind of information I should properly be seeking and obtaining.
I move now to my present position as chairman of a Senate standing committee. That committee has a secretariat which is trained to do a different kind of job. In that Committee we investigate matters on behalf of the Senate. I understand that the Standing Orders Committee has recommended that we examine, as a transitional arrangement only or as part of a gradual process, whether the secretariat of the standing committees should undertake- I take it that the Standing Orders Committee means for a limited period of time- a function in relation to the Estimates committees. I am concerned -
– I rather think that it is a changed role by means of a secondment- not the Standing Committee staff assisting the Estimates committee, but simply the utilisation of those people for a limited period of time.
– What I am saying is that if we agree that staffing is desirable for the Estimates committees and that the function of the Estimates committees should be extended as part of the general process of extending the role and use of the Senate in the parliamentary system, and if we agree that the Estimates committees would operate more efficiently with the provision of staff, I think we should grasp the nettle properly and make an approach to have the appropriate staff provided for our Estimates committees.
I can see immediately a number of questions which would have to be answered. At the moment the Estimates function is active for only two periods each year. There is no reason why that should necessarily continue to be the case. There is no reason why we could not copy what is done in other countries if we wished to do so, why we could not take on some of the parliamentary scrutiny on a continuing basis as is the case in the United States of America. The plea I am making is that if we agree that extra assistance is necessary for the Estimates committees we should seek now the right kind of staffing. I believe that we should try to do that as the initial step rather than move through any intermediate steps, even though that may be administratively more simple. I make it clear that I support the thrust of what the Standing Orders Committee has drawn to our attention, but I commend to it the proposition that it go further and seek some means of obtaining specialised staff for the Estimates committees as a first step and as a more appropriate definitive way of meeting the need.
– I do not wish to say much about the Estimates committee system. I apologise for not being present when some alterations were made to the Standing Orders. They are alterations that I would have violently opposed if I had been present. I do not believe that they make any improvement. I am surprised at the action of some honourable senators on both sides of the chamber in adopting those alterations, which have placed restrictions on the Standing Orders. I have never been a supporter of either the standing committee system or the Estimates committee system.
Although I admire the great speech made by Senator Chaney during the Address-in-Reply debate about the effective work being performed by those committees, I think we are trying more and more to take the work of the Senate from the forum of public debate in this open chamber and hide it behind doors within the committee system. If criticism is to be made of a department it should be made in this chamber rather than at committee hearings. But the Parliament has decided to have such committees. I accept that I am in a minority. Most honourable senators support the committee system, are active in it and praise the results that the committees achieve.
The stage has been reached where one of the Estimates committees has recommended that the Estimates committees could operate more effectively if permanent staff were allocated to it. Few honourable senators seem to disagree with that viewpoint. Obviously the Standing Orders Committee is of the same opinion as that committee. Page 12 of its report states:
The Committee agrees that, to enable Estimates committees to function most effectively, every possible assistance must be provided to honourable senators. To that end, the Standing Orders Committee will keep this matter under examination and, in the meantime, it would be helpful to hear the views of senators when this report is debated.
The report states elsewhere that it may not be appropriate at this stage fully to staff Estimates committees. In his contribution to this debate last Tuesday, Senator Rae made a similar comment. He said:
We understand that it may well be difficult to enlarge in any substantial way the staff of the Senate at this stage.
The pertinent question I ask is: If it is thought by the Senate that such action would enable its committees to function more effectively, what is the impediment against establishing what the Senate thinks is necessary for its proper operation either in the chamber as a whole or in its committees? I take it from the report and from Senator Rae’s remarks that staff cannot be appointed because of the ceilings placed on employment in the Public Service at the present time. That may be the Government’s policy, but I question whether the implementation of that policy should be extended to the operation of the Parliament. Should restrictions be placed upon the Parliament because of the Government’s policies? I am of the opinion that if it is thought that the work of the committees could be done more efficiently by the appointment of full time staff no government policy should deny the appointment of such staff.
The Standing Orders Committee’s recommendation, which I think will be adopted, is that it should keep this matter under consideration. I suppose it will wait until what it considers to be the appropriate time to deal with it. If we think it is essential that this demand should be made in order to facilitate the more efficient functioning of this House, it should be made now. If that demand were not met I suppose we could find some means of criticising the fact that the functioning of the Parliament is being curtailed somewhat by the actions of the Government. We definitely should not agree with a government policy which deprives the Parliament of the machinery needed for its efficient operation. If democracy means anything the Parliament should have the facilities to enable it to work properly. I think that we should do more than say that we will keep this matter under surveillance. We should say that it is essential. The issue is whether it is essential. If we decide that it is essential, we should demand some redress now.
– There are many ways in which honourable senators can be assisted. I have been making speeches too often of late about the accommodation situation in this building. If honourable senators read last year’s report of the Remuneration Tribunal they will find that it states quite clearly that when honourable senators and honourable members can be properly accommodated the Tribunal would be prepared to allocate another starr member to each of them. One could ask honourable senators and honourable members how, on balance, they would like the available resources to be spread. For example, would honourable senators prefer to have a staff member allocated to each honourable senator or would they rather have another 1 90 people appointed to the Senate secretariat. It is a matter of balance. One of the things that one has to watch is that if one puts emphasis on the Senate staff situation one may find that there is no room or money left for honourable senators and honourable members. I agree with Senator Cavanagh. I believe that honourable senators and honourable members need to have proper resources available to them to enable them to carry out their work. I have never been opposed to doing what I can to assist in that direction. Honourable senators and honourable members ought to have proper facilities and ought to have access to better equipment and better resources. But, as I have said, there is argument as to whether that should be given to them as individuals or as a group.
I know that it may not be absolutely germane to the item which is under consideration, but honourable senators may recall that the Remuneration Tribunal stated some years ago- in 1973-74- that in its view honourable senators and honourable members did not need another staff member each. It said that the thing to do was to double or treble the size of the Parliamentary Library and thereby get a common research service. Luckily for the Parliament my predecessor, Fred Daly, disagreed with that point of view and allowed every honourable senator and honourable member to appoint an additional staff member. I think that it was better to do that than to build up the library research area and let everybody have access to part of the pool. I often wonder whether the answer to trying to police the bureaucracy outside is to create another bureaucracy inside this place. Parliamentary bureaucracies can be just as bad as Public Service bureaucracies. They can be as unfeeling. They also have that terrible problem of tenure of office; so one cannot sack the dills. Let us be quite frank about it.
– You can sack your own personal staff.
– Of course one can and if they do not perform as we want them to perform we can employ somebody who will.
– That is the whole point.
-That is the whole point, as Senator Harradine has remarked. I do not like talking about the Government’s view when we are dealing with the Standing Orders Committee, but, as we are talking about resources being made available, I assure Senator Cavanagh that the Government does have this matter under active consideration. It is not simply a matter of saying that the Parliament should employ another 50 people. Better options may be available. There may be better options than just expanding a parliamentary bureaucracy. That is why I think it is more than helpful to hear the views of honourable senators when this report is being debated. Again I say that there are many methods whereby the resources of honourable senators can be increased and they can do their work better. It is fairly obvious to me from some of the examinations that have been conducted of the departments for which I am responsible before Estimates Committee A that some honourable senators have had papers well researched by members of their staff or have done so themselves. This is quite obvious from not only the quantity but especially the quality of the questions asked. They are detailed, searching questions and very good questions- the sorts of questions which should be asked.
– From Senator McLaren?
– Yes, particularly from Senator McLaren. I do not know whether he researches these matters himself or uses some of his staff resources. But that is an example of how it can be done. I do not know whether he uses outside or internal resources or just his own initiative and energy. But this applies not only to Senator McLaren. It would appear that honourable senators have been able to take away explanatory notes and say to somebody: ‘Go off and work in peace and quiet’- which we have little opportunity of doing- ‘and search through those explanatory notes and try to get better answers than those provided’. I am interested in other comments made by Senator Cavanagh. I think that what he said has been very constructive and quite helpful. I am only sorry that I got to my feet a little early. I have no doubt that the
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) is also going to be helpful and constructive in his suggestions on how we might add to the resources of honourable senators on committees.
– I might not be helpful and constructive, because in all the discussions on the Standing Orders which we have had over the years we have had the fundamental problem of the blind leading the blind. We are probably the most inbred institution in Australia. In the 10 years that I have been a member of this chamber we have always accepted the principle that we know best what is good for us. We literally stagger on from year to year trying to refine parliamentary procedures. Unquestionably, Parliament is the most complex institution in Australia. We deal with virtually every facet of matters in which the community is involved. I include universities when I say that we would be the most complex institution in Australia.
On top of that, so much of the work we do is not performed in a room, as is the case with a university lecturer or professor; we have to come into a public forum. What we say is recorded; often it is broadcast; and it is open to the media if their members are sufficiently interested to record what we say. Therefore, I think that the task we have is that much greater. It flows from that that the resources and facilities available to us should be commensurate with the task. Achieving this has been a long struggle. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) referred to the fact that only in the previous Parliament were we able to obtain research workers for ourselves as individuals instead of just for members of the Ministry. It took more than 70 years to achieve that. But we know the complexity of the work we do and the accelerated pace under which we are working. This was one of the reasons the Estimates Committees came into being.
In passing I must say that if we really wanted to do anything about the way in which we work here and the system under which we operate we would not try to do it ourselves; we would get an outside firm of management consultants or something of that nature, give it a free run of this place for 12 months and let it come up with entirely fresh ideas and a fresh approach to what we do. I do not think that any of us is capable of breaking out of the mental bonds which confine us all the time. There are big institutions and firms in Australia which do just that. They look to people who are specialised and who have experience in other large organisations to come up with fresh approaches. We will never do that ourselves, no matter how much goodwill there might be in this chamber and how co-operative the Minister might be about providing additional facilities; I do not question that. I question the foundations upon which we make our assumptions about what this place ought to be.
Senator Withers referred to space in this building. Where we would put more people if we got them? Ten years ago the first proposal for a new and permanent parliament house was brought to the Parliament. Almost to a man every member of this Parliament turned himself into a town planner, an architect or a city engineer. We were all experts. What was the result? We got precisely nowhere. If we had had enough nous then we would have handed over the matter to some experts and today we would be in that new and permanent parliament house. Senator Withers smiles, but that would have been so.
– Basically I am agreeing with you.
-That is the point I make: Because we consider ourselves to be better than those people who I feel would be more competent to do these things, we find ourselves virtually back where we were 10 years ago. We might be here in this building for even another 10 years. I have drawn that analogy because I think it applies to the running of the whole of the Parliament and to the matters with which we are dealing now. We are not asked to make any decisions about the particular item of this set of recommendations which we are considering, but I support the proposal that the facilities which have been suggested should be provided. I suppose there are certain risks with such things as parliamentary bureaucracies, but I do not find the present bureaucracy particularly offensive or unhelpful. By and large I think its work is of a very good standard and I imagine that there is no reason that people who are working for Estimates committees could not achieve the same standard.
We are dealing in matters involving a-n entire government expenditure of x billion dollars every year. I do not think we should quibble about the cost of providing the additional staff that would be necessary in order that we might properly examine and consider all the Estimates. We as individuals know that even with the one staff member many of us have up here we cannot cope with the work load. We never will, because as time goes by the work load will become bigger and bigger. It is difficult to say precisely what we should do. But I think that as soon as we can we should in some way resolve to back these committees and give them the maximum facilities we can afford.
-I think that so far the debate has been most useful, and I hope it continues in this vein. When the proposition which came from Estimates Committee F was put forward it was recognised that perhaps the realities of political life are that one should not ask for too much when one has a government which regards the curtailment of government expenditure as important. In view of that, I think it would be unreasonable to ask the Government to expand dramatically the staff of the Parliament. That is my answer to Senator Cavanagh. He said that the Parliament surely should not be curtailed. In no way are we suggesting any curtailment. In fact, what we are suggesting is an expansion as soon as possible. I think that there is a significant difference between the two approaches. I hope that that expansion can occur very soon.
The recommendation to use temporarily the secretariat which exists was a way of saying: ‘Let us give it a try; it ought to be better’. I say this notwithstanding anything that Senator Baume has said. It ought to be better than nobody applying himself at all. I believe that a number of the people in the secretariat of the standing committees who I know reasonably well would be able to contribute substantially to the consideration of the Estimates. I should like to see them used this session when we consider the Supplementary Estimates. Let us give it a try and see what people think. Then let us consider further the proposition put forward by Senator Withers and others concerning staff and decide which approach we should follow: The approach suggested by Senator Withers of providing extra personal staff or the alternative suggested by Estimates Committee F and agreed to by other honourable senators, namely, increasing the Senate bureaucracy’- to use that shorthand term. I suggest that today the Senate should pursue the idea of seconding members of the standing committee staff as a trial for the purpose of assisting in the consideration of the next supplementary appropriations. We can have further discussion after all. The supplementary appropriations will be coming up in the relatively near future. The seconding of staff can be done without any added expense. That can be done to gain further experience. I take the opportunity to add a little further to what Senator Withers said about the options open for an increase in the bureaucracy or in the number of personal staff available to members.
– Or maybe a combination of the two.
– Yes, maybe a combination of the two. I shall make a comment about the bureaucracy side. That is a matter to which we need to give some thought. I do not wish to criticise any particular appointments or people but rather to talk about the system. I wonder whether it is appropriate that all appointments to the committee secretariat staff should be made without direct or even indirect consultation with the chairman and members of the committees to which staff are appointed. To me it seems rather important that a committee which has some ideas of how it wants to operate should at least be consulted about the sorts of qualifications it might desire for its secretary. I have not the slightest doubt that good choices have been made in the past and will continue to be made. But I am concerned that the system does not include a degree of consultation. I would have thought that that was good manners or good sense, if nothing better, and certainly good practice.
I further make the point that I wonder whether we should not also be considering the problem of the lack of promotion. We tend to get good people on the Senate secretariat staff. Since we started to develop the committee system most of the secretaries, particularly the younger members, have gone off to other, higher posts in the Public Service. We tend to lose a lot of the good people who have gained considerable experience. I wonder whether that position should not be reviewed. Perhaps there should be some degree of promotion available and an increase in salary to attract people to stay at least for a longer period within the structure of the Senate secretariat. I suggest that those points be given further consideration. I shall comment for a moment on Senator Wriedt ‘s suggestion that we get in some management consultants. I could barely resist picturing Senator Wriedt with a lump in his cheek as he was saying that. I wonder whether his tongue was there.
– No, I meant it; I can assure you.
– I just wondered. To me it seems that while there could be advantages in attempting to find some management consultants who had some idea about Parliament, the best thing the Parliament could do would be to subject itself to a parliamentary committee of inquiry. This would be better than having a number of people who do not necessarily know much about Parliament asking: ‘Why do you do this? Why do you do that? Why do you do something else?’ I do not know of any management consultants in the country who would have the foggiest idea how Parliament should go about its work. What I think could be useful would be somebody- not necessarily an expensive consultantasking a few more times than we do why we do something in a particular way. That is my comment in relation to Senator Wriedt ‘s suggestion. I do not think we necessarily need management consultants. Perhaps we should try to gather a few jurors off the street and ask them to ask us why we do something in a particular way.
– What would they know about the system, any more than the management consultants?
– That is what I am suggesting. I do not know of anybody who would have much expertise. I think it would be useful to have a few people asking why we do something in a particular way and suggesting that perhaps we should do it some other way. It could be a suggestion which just comes to them. It is more important that instead of somebody coming to advise us we get somebody to make us get out of any of the strait-jackets or ruts which we may have got into by asking the question why we do something this way or that way.
– It is the same intent.
– I am agreeing with the honourable senator. I am adding a gloss. I am not sure that management consultants are the best way to achieve a result. We need to look at the situation and say that nothing is sacred. We should examine the matter to see where we can make improvements. I finish by urging that we get some comment about whether the Estimates Committee F suggestion of the secondment of standing committee secretariat staff for the purposes of the supplementary appropriations can be considered on a trial basis, with discussions thereafter.
– I rise again because I wonder whether those honourable senators who followed me had a complete knowledge of the matter or whether they had changed their minds since the matter was initially referred to the Senate Standing Orders Committee. I take it that the Standing Orders Committee took cognisance of this matter as a result of the Senate’s decision to adopt a recommendation of Estimates Committee F. The Standing Orders Committee had to consider that recommendation. It was not a question- as the finding indicates- of providing more facilities for honourable senators. It was not a suggestion that honourable senators should be made more efficient or of giving them more help. It was a matter of making the work of Parliament- of the Senate- more efficient. The Senate Estimates committee system is a part of the Senate. No one in the Parliament, except possibly myself on the odd occasion, has criticised the work of Estimates committees. I think valuable work is being done by those committees today. Estimates Committee F pointed out in its report that the Parliament could work a lot more effectively, not that honourable senators could work more effectively or do better in their cross-examination of officers of departments but that the Parliament could work more effectively. The report states:
That the effectiveness and scrutiny function of Estimates Committees could be enhanced by . . .
The purpose of the recommendation is to build up the Committee, not members of the Committee. As the report of Committee F states:
As a Senate we adopted that provision and referred it to the Standing Orders Committee, but the Estimates committee system needs to alter its full-time function and full-time staff. I take it that the full-time function refers to duties outside the time- I think this is illustrated herethe appropriations are examined. The report of Committee F continues:
So from time to time appropriations would be referred to the Estimates Committees and there would be a continuing function of the Committees. We have had no report from the Standing Orders Committee on the operation of these committees, except a suggestion that the time might be ripe. The report continues:
The Senate decided that those foregoing recommendations should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Therefore Estimates Committee F in its report saw an extended role for the Estimates committees that the Standing Orders Committee should look into. I presume that the Committee looked into the matter and thought that the time for action was not opportune. Senator Rae repeated the same statement today when he said that we cannot ask for too much. I agree that if the Government’s intention is to restrict the size of the Public Service it is entitled to support. That support should include perhaps limiting what honourable senators ask for. However, I believe that a continuation of a policy which involves a tightening of the purse strings in respect of the operation of the Parliament will destroy the whole system of parliamentary government. The Government can reduce expenditure in every other field, including the amenities of members of Parliament, but it is a different matter when the operation of the Parliament is affected.
Estimates Committee F referred only to the functions of the Parliament. It considered that those functions were carried out in a very effective manner. Therefore I say there should be no restrictions on the Parliament. The recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee contains no suggestion, as Senator Withers submitted, of the appointment of a bureaucracy or another group of 1 90 officers. The recommendation is not suggesting additional facilities but full-time staff for Estimates committees.
I know there could be physical limitations at times because of a lack of office accommodation and so on. However, many staff members of select committees and other committees are not housed in the Parliament building. Many of them are located in the administrative block at the old Hotel Canberra which we have taken over. I do not know whether accommodation in that building is overcrowded. If it is, I believe that the Kurrajong Hotel is idle. Therefore the question of accommodation should not prevent the Parliament from getting what it thinks it should get. Let us consider the report of the Standing Orders Committee. It stated:
Estimates Committee F added:
The Committee is, however, cognisant of possible constraints upon the immediate provision of a full-time secretariat to service the operations of Estimates committees. It therefore suggests, as an interim measure only, that staff of the Senate committee secretariat might be seconded temporarily to Estimates committees to examine the extensive documentation provided by departments, and to assist committee members in preparation for the hearings, particularly in relation to the listing of matters arising in previous hearings and needing further examination.
That is a start. However, the Standing Orders Committee concluded:
The Committee agrees that, to enable Estimates committees to function most effectively, every possible assistance must be provided to honourable senators.
I do not know whether this means, as Senator Withers took it to mean, that additional staff should be provided for senators. Estimates Committee F did not suggest that additional staff should be provided for senators. The Committee wanted to see the role of senators extended and it recommended that staff within the committee secretariat should be seconded to Estimates committees so that the Parliament could carry out its proper functions. The Standing Orders Committee also stated:
To that end, the Standing Orders Committee will keep this matter under consideration and, in the meantime, it would be helpful to hear the views of senators when this report is debated.
I hope that this matter is kept under close consideration. There is no question of dissenting from that pan of the report of the Standing Orders Committee. I believe we need to understand the recommendation by Estimates Committee F, if it is a proper recommendation. It relates to a function of the Parliament. The functioning of the Parliament should not be contingent on government policy or government financial restraints. Senator Rae is of the opinion that we do not get dills. The unfortunate remark ‘You cannot sack dills’ is not a reason why we cannot make some effort to extend the role of Estimates committees. I think that is the important question. Any additional staff should be given to the committees and not used by senators.
– We are dealing with that part of the report of the Standing Orders Committee which relates to the recommendation of Estimates Committee F. I point out to the Committee of the Whole that while that Estimates committees, as I understand the position, obtained their authority from resolutions passed from time to time by the Senate which read something like this: ‘That the Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the year ending’, for example, ‘30 June 1978, and the Particulars of Proposed Provision for Additional Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1978 be referred herewith to the Estimates committees for examination and report’. Under normal circumstances that resolution, which is the normal resolution, refers to two documents known as Document A and Document B. The way in which the titles of those documents are identified indicates that it is the documents that are submitted to the committees for examination. Those documents contain details of proposed expenditure for the relevant financial year and the expenditure for the previous financial year.
The Estimates committees have, and should have, the right to examine past and proposed expenditure, even if as happened with one item, there is only past expenditure and not proposed expenditure. Questions asked on past expenditure could very well affect the attitude of an Estimates committee towards proposed expenditure, not simply on that item but for a department as a whole. I bring to the attention of this Committee that on one occasion when I sought to ask a question on past expenditure on an item for which there was no proposed expenditure, the chairman of the committee suggested that I was not in order in so doing. I believed, of course, that it was my right, and indeed my duty, to ask the question on past expenditure because I believed it was relevant to the proposed expenditure for the department as a whole.
I come now to the matter that is before the Committee, namely the suggestion that staff of the Senate committee secretariat might be seconded temporarily to Estimates committees to examine the extensive documentation provided by departments. What happens in a similar case to the one I just mentioned? Suppose we get the staff. Under whose direction are they to work? Presumably they will work under the direction of the chairman of the Estimates committee. He will be a government appointee. That is where we can get into an area of possible bureaucracy.
As an independent senator I have the right under Standing Order 36AB (10), although I am not a member of an Estimates committee, to attend and participate in its deliberations and question witnesses unless the Committee orders otherwise. However, I do not have the right to vote. Am I entitled to the assistance of the staff who it is suggested should be seconded? If not, under whose direction are the staff to work? Is it to be under the direction of the chairman of the committee who will be a government appointee, or is it to be under the direction of the whole committee which will be, of course, made up of a majority of government members? I remind honourable senators that the Estimates committees are charged with the responsibilities that they have so as to ensure proper accountability for the expenditure of public funds. Surely any honourable senator has the right to assistance to achieve that objective. I would like answered the specific question as to the rights honourable senators may exercise under Standing Order 36AB ( 10). If that is answered to my satisfaction, I know where I stand in respect of this matter.
– It is not my intention to speak at length on this matter. I have listened with interest to the views that have been expressed by both sides of the chamber. I can fairly state that by and large I agree with practically everything that has been said. It is obviously the desire of honourable senators on both sides of the chamber to modernise the present committee system. One of the developments that have taken place as a result of the Estimates committee having been established is the re-establishment of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, of which Senator Rae is chairman. Two reports of the Committee were tabled in the Senate this morning on matters that had been referred to it for consideration by Senate Estimates committees. That is a very worthwhile development that has resulted from the sort of discussion that we are now embarking upon.
As I see it, one problem is the type of material that might flow from a Senate Estimates committee to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. For instance, just recently the Standing Committee was given a reference concerning government expenditure on pot plants. It was argued by an honourable senator at one of the Senate Estimate committee hearings that all told an estimated $ lm would be spent by the Government in a whole year on the hiring or leasing of pot plants. But I suggest that is a mere bagatelle compared with a loss, through devaluation, of $70m on the purchase of a warship from abroad. We are merely looking at matters that might attract publicity. I know that in the near future Senator Rae’s committee, of which I am a member, is to inquire into a building project in Victoria and the relationships that might have developed or the problems that might have been caused between Commonwealth, State and local government organisations. It is an important matter, but I suggest that if we were to dig a little deeper into the matters that come before the Senate Estimates committees much more would come forward than has come forward to date.
I want to make only two points. Firstly, all secretaries of committees should be called together for the purpose of trying to get some agreement on a prototype document for setting out the explanatory notes. Some of the documents that come forward have a great deal of explanation. Frankly, some have excessive explanation.
– A motion about that matter was passed a week or so ago. Senator Sim raised it on the first day back.
Minister has jogged my memory. That having been done, I hope that the work will be put under way at an early date. If we can get documents of the same size presented to honourable senators it will mean expedition. The second matter I mention is the following opinion expressed in the report of Estimates Committee F:
That the effectiveness and scrutiny function of Estimates committees could be enhanced by:
empowering Estimates committees to maintain a total and continuing examination of governmentfunded authorities which are not departments of State.
It appears to me that that is one of the really important areas of responsibility for Senate Estimates committees. After all, Ministers are ministerially heads of their departments and are immediately responsible to the Parliament. It is the Ministers who answer to the Parliament on behalf of their departments. I suggest that many heads of statutory authorities could well present themselves at future meetings of Senate Estimates committees. When I was a Minister I insisted that the heads of the statutory authorities for which I was ministerially responsible present themselves for examination by the Senate Estimates committees.
– Do you mean the chief executive officer or the chief” of the board?
– I was about to say either the chairman, or the deputy chairman if the chairman were absent, and the chief executive officer. The chief executive officer has the responsibility for administering the affairs of the organisation. The chairman has the responsibility of executing policy decisions of the authority. The policy of statutory authorities, not necessarily the policy of the Government, could well be questioned by Senate Estimates committees. I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) may not agree with that, but I suggest that is a role that could well fall on Senate Estimates committees.
I am delighted to see that consideration is being given to the recommendation made originally by Estimates Committee F. I hope that it will be possible to provide additional staff and accommodation to individual senators not only for their work on Senate Estimates committees but also for their work on standing committees and for the multiplicity of tasks they undertake. Whilst there has been reform, for want of a better term, in the establishment of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, I suggest that the matters referred to the Committee to date by the Senate Estimates committees could have been much more detailed and involved than they were.
– I should like to respond briefly to Senator Harradine ‘s invitation to explain a little further what those who have been urging this course of action may have in mind in relation to members of minority parties. When we debated the procedure for raising matters of public importance, I said that members of minority parties and independents should be able to have a fair go. I now say that in no way at all do I see it as being desirable that an independent or minor party member should be excluded from the opportunities which are available to other members of the Senate to serve on Estimates committee. On the other hand, the operation of the Senate Estimates committee system should not be held to ransom in some way because a senator happens to be an independent or a member of a minority party. I see what Senator Harradine was raising as a legitimate matter for him to raise from the point of view of asking ‘How are you going to help me? ‘ But what he said is not a legitimate argument against the step which was being suggested. When he talked about staff being made available to a committee whose chairman is a member of the Government parties and on which the Government has a majority, it seemed to me that he started to confuse the argument a little. It so happens that there is an equal number of members from both the Government and the Opposition on the Committee with the chairman having a casting vote. It is not accurate to say that the Government has a majority; it has a casting vote majority. The real question is: How do we ensure that we cater for and provide an adequate opportunity for minorities within the chamber?
– That is not the question at all.
– That ought to be the question, in my view.
– That is not the question I was raising.
– I thought the honourable senator was asking under whose direction the staff would come.
– That is correct.
– The honourable senator was saying also that any honourable senator has the right to assistance. He asked how an individual senator obtains the right to assistance.
– That is right; not minoritiesan individual.
– The honourable senator says that his point was limited to that. I am suggesting that for a trial period there should be a secondment of existing staff so that no extra staff has to be employed for the purposes of the trial. That staff would be seconded to the committee in the normal way that the secretariat staff works for a committee, that is, in liaison with the chairman at the direction of the committee. Obviously, the committee would meet and discuss what work it wished the secretariat staff to undertake on its behalf. The product of that work would be available to all members of the committee. I see no reason why another honourable senator who is not a member of the committee but who has an interest in attending subsequently the hearings of the Estimates committees and who can participate but not vote should not also attend that preparatory meeting so that he can have some opportunity to make an input into what sort of preparation work would be conducted and have the product of that preparation work made available to him. It ought to be made available to any honourable senator who expresses a desire to have it made available. In my view, it ought not to be the preserve of individual members of the committee, as if it were some massive state secret. Rather, it is a matter of organising the opportunity for the most effective work to be done by those honourable senators who are members of the committee or who are otherwise interested in the work of the committee.
I do not see any relevance in the matter raised by Senator Harradine. He asked under whose direction the staff would come and whether it would really become just a stooge of the Government in some way. That was the impression being given. That was really an attack on the whole committee staffing system. I think that our standing committees work well, notwithstanding the fact that Government senators are appointed as chairmen and have a casting vote. I think that our Estimates committees have worked well notwithstanding the fact that Government senators have been appointed as chairmen and have a casting vote. The fact that Government senators are committee chairmen and therefore have the closest constant liaison with the secretariat staff of the standing committees has not caused any great concern, so far as I know, in the actual operation of this chamber. I see the real and important question as being how we ensure that individual members of the Senate get an adequate opportunity to join with the members of committees in obtaining the advantage of any work which is done. I have made my suggestions in that regard. Otherwise, I think that Senator Harradine was expressing an unjustified concern.
– I think it is important to recall how this matter came about. It was as a result of a recommendation by Senate Estimates Committee F. The report of Estimates Committee F was adopted by the Senate. However, as I recall it, the Standing Orders Committee was asked by the Senate to look at this recommendation. The Standing Orders Committee has no executive function; I think that ought to be realised. It has but the power to present a report to this chamber. It is for the Senate to accept, reject or amend the recommendations in that report. That is the only power or function of the Standing Orders Committee. It has no capacity to expand the functions of Estimates committees. It has no capacity to direct whether staff will be made available to Estimates committees. That is not the role and function of the Standing Orders Committee.
It will be for the Senate and the Senate alone to decide whether the functions of Estimates Committees will be expanded, as recommended by Estimates Committee F. The Standing Orders Committee was asked to look at the matter because the Senate believed it would be far better for the matter to be considered in a small group situation than for 64 people to debate it here. I believe that the Committee is saying to the Senate that it can see no objection in this course being followed, but as yet it has not put forward a draft motion or recommendation to bring that about. I should imagine that it is a matter for the President to decide whether he will make available the staff needed to help the Estimates committee in the intervening period. It is fair to say that that was certainly in my mind and no doubt in the minds of the other members on the Standing Orders Committee when we said we would keep this matter under consideration and that it would be helpful to hear the views of honourable senators. Mr President has been sitting in the chamber during the debate. No doubt he has heard the views expressed. It will be for him to decide the matter. 1 take it that nobody is suggesting that the Committee of the Whole should lay down a direction to the President to make the staff available. Perhaps it might do so one day. But in the present case, I should imagine that Mr President will consult now with his officers to see whether he can do it.
That brings me to the other point which has been canvassed. Senator Wriedt made some remarks about management consultants, about having a look at ourselves and all the rest of it. As a Minister, I have lived with staff ceilings for two years. In spite of the fact that some people moan and groan, there is nothing wrong with staff ceilings. What is wrong is how they are often applied. Far too often in any sort of bureaucracy or institution- call it what you like- ingrained habits develop and ingrained procedures are adopted which become obsolete and no longer necessary. One of the great advantages of staff ceilings is that it makes people look hard at whether they are properly allocating the resources available to them. One of the problems of a rigid bureaucracy, such as one tends to have in the Public Service, is that there is a rigidity to shift people and to change functions. That is the problem. This is where I am quite sympathetic to the view that Senator Wriedt put forward. It may well be that the financial resources made available to the Parliament are not being used to the best advantage. I am not saying that they are or that they are not. But I must say that it struck me as odd when I first came to this place 12 years ago that we had five separate departments operating in the one building. It is almost as if this chamber and the other chamber must have nothing whatever to do with each other. Why do we have five departments? I have often wondered whether anybody else would attempt to run a parliament with five separate departments. Why do we do this? Is it because of tradition? Perhaps it is the proper answer. I do not know.
– Two would be enough as long as both Houses were still separate.
-I do not know whether one department would not be better. Why do we worry about that? Is everybody satisfied that the X million dollars that is voted to the Parliament should be spent in that area? Perhaps it should be spent to help Estimates committees. It is a matter of ordering the priorities within the amount of money allocated. It is a matter ultimately for the Senate to determine its priorities. If its first priority is to have a well-equipped committee secretariat, it ought to make that known and that would be the case. Further down the line other functions would drop off. One just cannot have everything one wants in life. After all, we ought to remember that whilst it is all very well to say that the Parliament must never be hamstrung, our electors must not be bled to death in taxation to support us in this place. We do have a responsibility to use our resources in the proper order of priority. That is why the Committee still has this matter under review. As I understand it, if the Committee comes back and recommends a draft sessional order which would expand the role, the President would then have to decide to reallocate his resources, to re-order his priorities. If he believed that he could not do that he would have to ask the Government to make more money available. That is what it is all about: It is a matter of understanding what are the functions.
I rather felt that there was some criticism that somehow or other the Standing Orders Committee had not exercised an executive function to resolve this whole question. I notice Senator Rae shaking his head, because he understands the problem; but that is the problem- that the Standing Orders Committee is merely a subcommittee of the Senate, if I may put it that way. We merely have a capacity to come back to the Senate and say, ‘We suggest that the Senate do this, that and the other’, and it is for the Senate to decide.
It is for that reason, and no other, that it was said that it would be helpful to hear the views of the Senate when this report was considered. Speaking as one who is only a single member of the Standing Orders Committee, and having heard this debate, it would appear to me that at the next meeting of the Committee we ought to bend our efforts towards bringing in a sessional order, perhaps as the commencement, seeking an amendment of the Standing Orders to expand the role and function of the Estimates committees. That appears to be a point of view that is generally acceptable throughout this chamber. Certainly, it will be tested if the Standing Orders Committee brings back a recommendation directed to that end. As to the other function, that, I take it, has been brought to the attention of the President this afternoon. There is certainly a desire that he makes available immediately, to assist the Estimates committee, his present staff.
I wish to refer also to what Senator Harradine said concerning the relationship between the chairman and the Estimates committee. Estimates Committee A I know, only because I appeared before it as a supplicant. Last year or the year before that committee had a number of meetings before it went public, if I may put it that way. It decided, as a committee, to proceed with what secretariat assistance it had. The members sat around and decided which items of the Departments coming before them they wished to probe. It was a very good exercise because basically they then produced questions on notice for the departments, whose representatives subsequently came very well briefed. This not only expedited the work of the Committee but, I think, produced far better answers. I am not saying that that would happen if the present secretariat were made available, but I would say to Senator Harradine that, as a result of my experience, I would confirm what Senator Rae said earlier: That the chairman would call together the members of the committees and say, ‘We have this extra assistance. How do you think we ought to operate?’ The chairman would then, no doubt on his own initiative, make suggestions to open the discussion. Other members would then submit other suggestions. The decisions were really a consensus, because rarely are votes of Senate committees taken in private session. As a result of that consensus, the secretariat attached to the committee would be able to proceed. It would be under that direction and none other. Certainly, the chairman would mostly have a supervisory role to ensure that the consensus of the committee was carried out, but that would be his only supervisory function, if I might put it that way.
I could visualise this extra assistance as being of enormous advantage. As Senator Douglas McClelland mentioned earlier, the committee could home, or target- whatever the current jargon is- in on those areas that it felt were important, instead of, as has so often happened, having members thrashing around as pages are turned trying to think of a question to ask. In that way Estimates committees could be made far more effective. Let me assure honourable senators that, certainly, as a Minister who will be appearing before the Estimates committees, I have received the message. I have no doubt that the President has also, and that he will do his utmost to satisfy the wishes of honourable senators.
-I enter this debate only because of the suggestion by Senator Harradine- or at least one could draw the inference from his remarks- that because the chairman is always a government appointee there would be a desire on his part, or on the part of government members, on the part of a majority of the committee, to protect the government. I have never known Senate Estimates committees to work that way. Certainly, I have always believed my role as a member- and chairman for many years- was not to protect the government at all- but to act as a parliamentarian to put the government, whatever might be its political complexion, under scrutiny. I think the record would show that government members ask as many questions, and pursue them, as do Opposition members. That misapprehension should be put right. Any implicationand I do not say that it has been deliberatethat the government-appointed chairman or members seek to protect the government is simply not true.
– Rather, it is the opposite.
– Yes. I have always interpreted my role as chairman as one of ensuring that everybody asks questions, and pursues them. I believe this has always been the rule, even when we were on the Opposition side. Certainly, I never noticed on the part of the then Labor Government members any desire to protect their Minister or the Public Service. I wish to make brief reference to the statement Senator Withers made concerning the committees meeting earlier and looking at the types of questions or areas of interest that would arise, so that the various departments could be informed. That is one reason why we have requested that explanatory notes and estimates should be tabled immediately following the presentation of the Budget; that this would allow honourable senators plenty of time to go through the notes and then to meet and be able to pursue these matters. I know that we did have trouble, on several occasions when we introduced this system, because of almost last minute decisions and that our work was accordingly rushed forward. Therefore, I do hope that action will be taken on the recommendation of Estimates Committee A and that the notes be made available as soon as possible, and immediately following the tabling of the Budget Papers.
– I do not want to prolong the debate but I was interested in the remark of Senator Withers that he had taken note of what had been said and had accepted as fact that the President had done likewise; further, that the committee would give consideration to the views that have been expressed. My concern is whether we have expressed them sufficiently clearly, so that the committee will know what we are seeking. As Senator Withers remarked: Is the Standing Orders Committee the committee to achieve what has been proposed? Upon reading the report I bring up the question that I brought up before. It arose out of the recommendation of Estimates Committee F, that the use of full-time staff would empower the Estimates committee to engage, in addition to the examination of the annual appropriation Bills, in a total and continuing examination of special appropriations referred to it by the Senate. As a result of considering that, I take it from the report that the Standing Orders Committee recommended to the Parliament as a solution of that -
– Which one of the two Estimates Committee F reports are you talking about?
-The first of those reports, which was adopted by the Parliament. That was the initiation of the reference to the Standing Orders Committee. The Senate adopted that and therefore, I take it, the Senate has approved it. The reference to the Standing Orders Committee, under paragraph (b) read-
That the foregoing opinion be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration.
The Committee had a duty to recommend to the Senate a Standing Order to cover the recommendation of Estimates Committee F which the Senate had adopted. In accordance with the direction of the Senate, the Standing Orders Committee brought down a recommendation. It stated:
Standing Order 36ab was adopted by the Senate to meet the requirements of the recommendation of Estimates Committee F. However, Standing Order 36ab did not satisfy the full requirements of the recommendation of Estimates Committee F nor the decision of the Senate in adopting that recommendation. The Standing Order states: (1.) At the commencement of each Parliament, unless otherwise ordered, six Estimates committees shall be appointed, to be known as Estimates committees A, b, C, D, E and F. (2.) The annual Estimates, as contained in the papers presenting the particulars of Proposed Expenditure, and the Additional Estimates, as contained in the Papers presenting the Particulars of Proposed Provisions for Additional Expenditure, shall on motion be referred to the committees for examination and report.
Nothing in that Standing Order- the rest of the Standing Order related to the appointment, composition and workings of the Estimates committeesmeets the requirements of recommendation (ii) of Estimates Committee F which referred to empowering Estimates committees, in addition to their examination of the annual Appropriation Bills, to engage in a total and continuing examination of Special Appropriations referred to them by the Senate.
The Standing Order somewhat restricts the Senate because that additional task is not provided for in the appointment of the Estimates committees. One questions whether the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee which was accepted by the Senate on 15 March 1977 when it adopted Standing Order 36AB met the requirements of Estimates Committee F. That Committee, in its report presented to the Senate on 13 October 1977, stated:
The Committee is, however, cognisant of possible constraints upon the immediate provision of a full-time secretariat to service the operations of Estimates committees, lt therefore suggests, as an interim measure only, that staff of the Senate committee secretariat might be seconded temporarily to Estimates committees to examine the extensive documentation provided by departments, and to assist committee members in preparation for the hearings, particularly in relation to the listing of matters arising in previous hearings and needing further examination.
I do not know whether that recommendation was adopted by the Senate or whether the matter just appeared on the Notice Paper. The Standing Orders Committee has considered this recommendation. Senator Withers made the point that it is not an executive committee. I do not know whether it should provide for adjustment of staff or whether it should comply with the Standing Order. If the second recommendation of Estimates Committee F has been adopted by the Senate- I am not clear on this point- the Standing Orders Committee, at the direction of the Senate, should establish whether a Standing Order is needed. The question is whether a Standing Order is necessary. Estimates Committee F strongly recommended the secondment of staff. If the Senate has- adopted that recommendation this should take place. I do not know whether that has anything to do with the Standing Orders Committee. Nevertheless, the Standing Orders Committee has considered it.
The Standing Orders Committee is aware of the difficulties facing honourable senators. This is where I part company with some honourable senators. I do not know whether Estimates Committee F is complaining about the difficulties of honourable senators. I take it that its original suggestion was that Estimates committees are so efficient and are doing so much work that their role should be extended and they should have a full-time staff for that purpose. This matter has been referred to the Standing Orders Committee. The Leader of the Government has assured us that the President and he will give every consideration to it. They should report whether it is any business of the Standing Orders Committee to inquire and decide whether the work of the Estimates committees should be extended and whether they should have a full-time staff. If they consider that it has something to do with the Standing Orders Committee, is it necessary that there be a Standing Order so that the Senate can have a full debate on the recommendation of Estimates Committee F? Alternatively, as was suggestedI do not think it has anything to do with the Standing Orders Committee- should we try the recommendation with one committee? Should we second staff temporarily for the purpose of carrying out the recommendation?
As everyone praises the work of the Estimates committees, I cannot see the necessity for permanent staff unless the whole report is adopted and the committees are given extra power and a fulltime function. This brings in the question which
Senator Douglas McClelland raised. He referred to the capability of committees to examine the estimates of expenditure by statutory authorities. Is the Standing Orders Committee the appropriate body to consider this? Estimates Committee F has asked somebody to consider this. I put these points. I hope the Standing Orders Committee can give us a recommendation in its next report as to whether it is that Committee’s business and whether it supports the recommendation.
-I deeply appreciate the debate on this matter this afternoon. I have noted closely the comments which have been made. I have endeavoured to capture- I think I have succeeded- the spirit present in respect of the requirements of the Estimates committees to make themselves more effective. I have called a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee for the afternoon of Monday, 3 April, the day before the Parliament resumes. The matters which have been brought forward today will then be considered. In the meantime I am seized with the importance of giving immediate consideration to providing more research assistance to the secretariat of committees as a trial. The whole matter will be discussed at the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee on 3 April. Again, I thank each honourable senator who has taken part in the debate thus far. Because I am saying a few words I do not anticipate that the debate will end, but I wish to express my feelings in this matter and give the assurance that the Committee will do all it possibly can to further the effectiveness of the Estimates committees.
– I respond briefly to Senator Cavanagh to get the sequence clear. Senate Estimates Committee F first recommended an expanded role for the Estimates Committees to a year-round function because it was conscious of the fact that no detailed estimates were provided for over 50 per cent of the total appropriations. It saw it as being necessary that there be a system whereby a scrutiny could take place. It made a recommendation to the Senate, and the Senate accepted that recommendation and referred the matter to the Standing Orders Committee. The Standing Orders Committee reported that at that stage it believed that it was better to re-create the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations and to give to that function that single standing committee rather than for all the Estimates committees to have the function throughout the year. What was suggested at that stage was a change so that, instead of all of the Senate Estimates committees having the function throughout the year, one standing committee would have the function throughout the year. I think Estimates Committee F has now accepted that point. That is why its later report contains a recommendation that extra assistance be available at the times when the Estimates committees meet, which normally is twice a year.
– Do you think that the new Standing Order 36ab meets the requirements of the first recommendation?
– No, but Estimates Committee F accepted that when the Standing Orders Committee made the recommendation for new Standing Order 36ab the Senate held a different view. The most recent report of Estimates Committee F, which again raises this question of the secondment of staff and the provision of some extra staff, is more limited than the first one because of the events that have taken place and the provisions that have been adopted by the Senate in the meantime.
– But this recommendation does not meet the requirements of your second recommendation.
– The second recommendation still is that some secretariat staff should be made available to Estimates committees, notwithstanding the fact that the Senate also has given the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations the function of looking at statutory authorities throughout the year. With the assistance of staff, the Estimates committees can still carry out that function better and in greater depth, particularly in the preparation of questions on the Estimates submitted to them.
– Do you think that is a matter for the Standing Orders Committee to consider?
– At this stage I accept what Senator Withers said, namely, that following this discussion the President, being cognisant of the debate that has taken place, as he has indicated, will give consideration to the rearrangements which are directly within his power.
The other matters which have been discussed during this debate should be considered further by the Standing Orders Committee in order to see whether any alteration of the Standing Orders is required. I do not think it would be proper to try to draft amendments to the Standing Orders here, in the Committee of the Whole. I think it is proper that after this discussion the matter be referred back to the Standing Orders
Committee, and I accept the assurance that that is what will happen.
-I feel drawn back into the discussion by reason of the matters that have been mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) and Senators Sim and Rae in response to the points that I made. I do recall that senators were requested to give advance notice of the matters and items on which they wished to ask questions.
– I think you did that.
– The honourable senator is right. I religiously observed that practice on each occasion on which I went to Senate Estimates committees. I might say that I received a great deal of courtesy from the Senate staff and the committees in advising me when the items concerned were about to come up for consideration and for that I am most appreciative. I believe that Senator Withers’ suggestion is a very good one. Forewarned is forearmed, and at least the advisers in the departments can have their files with them and be prepared for questions. I think that should continue.
I refer also to Senator Sim’s remarks. I do not know whether he heard all that I said in my earlier remarks, but I made no implication that just because the Government had a majority on an Estimates committee the Government’s view would prevail on all matters. In my previous contribution I instanced a specific circumstance, where I had attempted to ask a Minister about an item on which there had been expenditure in the preceding financial year and for which there was no estimate for the current financial year. I did that in the belief that in order to question the proposed expenditure of the department as a whole it was necessary to ask questions about the previous expenditure. The Minister was not prepared to answer the questions. I did not receive support from the Government senators on that occasion. They were prepared to let the Minister get away with it.
– Perhaps they thought the Minister was right.
- Senator Sim raises a very interesting point. Perhaps Senator Withers should also bear that in mind. I was very pleased to hear the President of the Senate respond to the debate, and I trust that he and the chairman of the various committees will have regard to what I have said.
I think it was totally unfair of Senator Rae to suggest that I thought independents and minority groups should be in a position to hold Estimates committees to ransom. I made no such suggestion. I did not mention the word ‘independent’ or the word ‘minority’. We have been elected to this place by the people of our various States, and the minute we start taking away the rights of individual senators this institution will start to disintegrate. The point that I was trying to make -
– You introduced the business about protecting the Government and about Government senators being chairmen. You were the one who introduced the discolouration into the debate.
– I would be interested in Senator Rae ‘s comments on the proposal that I am putting, namely, that the previous expenditure and how well that money has been expended is a relevant matter to put to a Minister when the estimates of a department are being considered as a whole. I would be very interested to hear Senator Rae’s views on that matter. I think it is totally unfair to suggest that Estimates committees will be held to ransom by minority groups or independents. That is totally irrelevant. The fact is that I would not have needed to enter this debate had it not been for the wording of the report of Estimates Committee F which was presented to the Senate on 13 October 1977. The report, inter alia, on page 12- this is the recommendation- states: . . that staff of the Senate Committee secretariat might be seconded temporarily to Estimates Committees to examine the extensive documentation provided by the Departments, and to assist Committee members in preparation for the hearings . . .
As I have already pointed out, under Standing Order 36AB (10), individual senators who are not members of an Estimates committee have the right to participate in its public sessions and to question witnesses, unless the Committee orders otherwise; but they cannot vote.
If Estimates Committee F had been a little more circumspect in its choice of specific words I would not have risen. But as I understand the situation now, individual senators who have an interest in a range of matters which the various Estimates committees cover can participate in the research facilities provided by the back up staff not only in the initial meetings of the Estimates committee concerned but also, presumably, as the Estimates committee proceeds with its work.
– The honourable senator will understand that I cannot give any such assurance, but from my own knowledge I am fairly certain that he would have no difficulty in getting the cooperation of the Chairman of any Estimates committee if he approached him. I cannot go further than that. They are committees of the Senate. The committee members elect their own chairmen. It is something over which I, as a member of the Government, have no control and ought not to have any control. But I would be most surprised if what Senator Harradine seeks could not be obtained by approaching individually the chairmen of the various Estimates committees.
-I want to clarify a point I made earlier. I said before that I hoped and anticipated that we would be able to have a trial run with the Supplementary Estimates in respect of the assistance we receive from the committee secretariat. I want to make that quite clear. I do not think I stated with clarity previously that that is the intention. I trust that the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee on 3 April will be able to sort out a few more problems. In the meantime, we can go ahead with the expectation that assistance will be provided.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Item 6 noted.
– I move:
Some of these matters were canvassed by a number of honourable senators on both sides of the chamber in the debate on the AddressinReply. When I spoke in that debate I said that the Standing Orders Committee- I do not pretend to be speaking on its behalf but I am as one of its members- is well aware of the current mood within the Senate that we ought to look very hard at many of our procedures to see whether we can make our work more effective within the chamber. As honourable senators would know, the Standing Orders Committee will be meeting on 3 April as part of the continuing work on item 7 and other areas. I believe that there is a lot of work to be done in this area. I hope that honourable senators will be prepared quite often to be sufficiently adventurous to try out what could be a more effective and efficient means of conducting our business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Statement by the President
Debate resumed from 2 March on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
-At a later stage I intend to move the amendment to the motion standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt). I will move that at the end of the motion the following words be added: and that the matter of the security of Parliament House be referred to the Privileges Committee.
Before dealing with that matter, I should like to say that the statement has been of some concern, I suspect, to members of the House of Representatives and certainly to members of the Senatenot so much because of its content but because of the way in which the statement came about and certainly because of the atmosphere in which it came about. It came about after years of absence of anything that could be described as security in this building. We did not even have the sort of security that would have kept a cow out of Kings Hall if it decided to wander in.
– A lot of silly ones do.
-That is true, Senator. I do not think Senator Withers should be so unkind to members of the coalition parties. The point of the matter is that in the circumstances following the Hilton Hotel bomb incident a degree of hysteria was engendered in Government circles in this country which one feels was totally out of accord with the response which might have been dictated in the circumstances, particularly by a government which might have been aware for a very long time of the possibility of this situation arising in one form or another.
The sort of over-reaction which was reflected in Parliament House was, of course, best demonstrated on the day of the opening of Parliament when it reached quite absurd lengths. No doubt certain honourable senators will want to comment about that. In the following days there was also a fair degree of over-reaction. I shall make one or two comments about that based on my own experience. I found it absurd, for example, that on the Friday following the opening of Parliament a group of carpenters arrived in my office with the apparent intention of nailing up the door leading to the balcony. I understand that they also arrived in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) with the same apparent intent.
– Had there been any consultation at all on this, Senator?
– There has been no consultation at all.
– That is not desirable.
– As Senator Baume is curious about the particular circumstances, I will give him the details. I was in Melbourne at the time and I was alerted to this operation by my secretary in Canberra. She was in some distress when she rang me about this matter. I told her, with the gallantry which comes from all armchair strategists, that she was to place herself between the door and the carpenters until the issue was resolved. That is perhaps not the most difficult instruction to give if one is not there oneself. It is an instruction which I did give and which seemed to have certain desirable effects because the door was not nailed up.
– Was your secretary nailed up?
-I shall have to check before answering the question which Senator Colston just addressed to me. Certainly the door was not nailed up. I looked at the door when I came back; I did not look at my secretary, as I ought to have done. The point about that sort of incident is that it seems to have arisen because of an ad hoc decision made by way of over-reaction to a situation which probably did not exist and no one appears to have been consulted before that decision was made.
As I understand the traditions of Parliament, the rights and privileges of members of parliament are peculiarly matters for the Parliament to consider and there should not be an infringement of those rights and privileges- whatever that infringement might be- without proper consultation and discussion with the members of parliament. Members of parliament cannot delegate that function of determining their rights and privileges to a committee; for example, the Joint House Committee, which in no way is specifically empowered by its charter to deal with matters which might involve the rights and privileges of members of parliament as distinct from the physical conditions in which members of parliament work. That sort of situation has a dual aspect. It impinges on the rights of members in some respects; it certainly impinges on their rights if they are not consulted about it.
One could make some quite obvious and trite statements about this building. This is an old building, not in an historical sense, but it is a building which has been here for some time. It was erected as a temporary building and has been added to as the functions of this Parliament have expanded. But there are all sorts of things about this Parliament which have been of concern to honourable members and honourable senators for a very long time. There is the matter of the comfort and working conditions of people in the building. There is also the matter of the risk which people run in this building, not from threats to security as such, but undoubtedly from such events as storms or fire. I say ‘storm’ advisedly because I have had the experience of literally seeing some of my papers float in my room while I have been a member of this Parliament.
– You should have boarded up that door.
-Not that door; another door. Certainly I should think that there would be a very serious risk of fire in a building of this type. The sorts of decisions which have been carried out to seal doors, on the ground floor of the building were raised with me, not by members of parliament but by staff of the Parliament, including officers of the Senate. Some of these people are quite concerned that, whilst their security from a suspected outrage of some kind or another induced by people might be heightened or increased by the precautions which have been taken, their security in relation to matters like fire have been vastly threatened in their view. For example, in the event of fire people who work in ground floor offices in certain areas at the front of this building probably would have only one means of escape, namely, through the front doors of the building. There are very few facilities on hand in Parliament House to cope with an electrical fire or something of that kind. The building is, in the sense which I described earlier, old and one would think it would be something of a fire hazard.
– It would have to comply with standards of the fire commissioners or inspectors though, would it not? It must be adequate.
– One would like to assume that that is so, but I cannot assume that it is so. I do not know whether it is necessarily so. Certainly it does not comply with any standards that would be laid down by a labour inspectorate in respect of the people who work here, for example.
– Suggestions were made before one of the Estimates committees that the standards were not good at all.
– In relation to fire?
-I am indebted to the interjections from which I am able, as it were, to feed for a minute. The point of Senator Missen ‘s interjection in relation to fire is totally consistent with what one suspects is the situation in relation to the health of the people who work here. I suspect that not one employer in this country would not run the risk of prosecution if he employed people under some of the conditions under which employees of this Parliament have to work and in some cases I suspect under which members of this Parliament have to work. No labour inspectorate I should imagine has ever darkened the door of this place. I am sure that Senator Baume ‘s faith is not misplaced. I accept his belief that the Canberra Fire Brigade, whose report we receive every year and Senator Baume no doubt reads it, makes inspections of this building and that it is not regarded as a fire hazard. But so many other buildings have been inspected in a like manner in Melbourne and Sydney and have been subjected to serious fires and serious casualties even though those inspections have taken place.
Senator Baume, who appears to be content with the situation as it is explained in your statement, Mr President, and with the safety precautions in this building, will probably recall the time last year when there was a bomb threat in this building. He might recall what took place on that occasion. For example, police and the housekeeper- if you please- went around checking individual offices looking for a bomb and told individuals to go out of the building. But, of course, there was no warning system. In the unlikely event of an honourable senator or an honourable member being asleep, or meditating, or recumbent, or otherwise not totally alert, there was a grave danger that that honourable member or honourable senator might have been blown up on that occasion because he could not have been found by the housekeeper. That is an example of the very real danger that can arise from the lack of any centralised warning system in case of such threats as were uttered on the occasion of that bomb scare and which might be uttered again in the future.
One assumes that the response which the Presiding Officers have arrived at was made after consultation with some experts in this matter. Again I am indulging in charitable assumptions and joining with my colleague Senator Baume in that regard. But the response is really extraordinary. First of all, it involves the introduction of a pass system which one might imagine would be of limited value as a deterrent to a serious intruder into this place. Certainly one would think that it would be regarded as being of limited value in view of the very great number of visitors who come here. But the statement issued by the Presiding Officers states:
The pass system will not alter the existing freedom of movement, or the existing restrictions upon movement, within the building of persons permitted to enter the nonpublic areas.
I think there are very real difficulties about that. I should have thought that one of the privileges of members of parliament in this building is that they are entitled to be visited by any person who they desire to visit them. What is euphemistically described as security in that sense might well be dangerous from the point of view of securing that freedom of members of parliament to have, as it were, anonymous guests or visitors come to the building if they so desire. That is a problem in which one thing must give way. If a risk of insecurity is to be removed there is a corresponding infringement on the civil liberties- on the privileges- of members of parliament if that freedom of access and movement is in any way curtailed by a pass system and there is a collection of bureaucrats of one kind or another standing at the doors of Parliament House asking people for their passes and who they are when they come in and go out of the building.
If I could put it in a very blunt and obvious form, if a public servant wants to come and, in colloquial parlance, wants to leak something to a member of the Opposition- reprehensible as that may be regarded in general political terms- the freedom of that person to do that and the freedom of the member of Parliament to receive that information might be curtailed by a pass system such as is used in the Bantu lands or in certain airline establishments. The suggestion that there should be an examination of baggage coming in and out of the building is, I think, a sensible sort of thing which should have taken place years ago. But it is also subject to loopholes according to the way in which it is phrased.
I think one of the unfortunate things about the statement is that there could be a tendency for overt security precautions of a kind like this-that is, very obvious security precautions- to encourage the fringe dwellers of Australian society to stimulate their interest in this building and to see its importance as being far greater than perhaps it is in its day to day functions. I think that is always a danger. If we have security precautions which are obvious to members of the public, then, as a corollary, members of the public who may be less than- if honourable senators will pardon another colloquialism- 100 cents in the dollar will think something very interesting is going on so it may be a good place to put on a stunt of some kind. I think that always follows as a corollary of very obvious security precautions.
The statement is silent on who will be responsible for the co-ordination of security activity throughout the building. It points out that an officer has been appointed. It does not mention who that is, where he comes from, whether he is an officer of the Parliament or of some security organisation, what his qualifications are or what his responsibilities will be in relation to members of Parliament. I regard that as a defect in the statement. While a lot of things in the statement are unexceptionable and represent probably very sensible changes which should have been implemented many years ago, the proposals represent a change for members of Parliament who have been used to this place as a place of very free access. I do not say that that sort of freedom does not have to be sacrificed to some degree in the interests of security but these proposals represent a change because they affect the lives of members and their day to day movement. The statement suggests that there will be some unnamed and unknown bureaucratic figure in charge of this operation. If members are not told about this there is a very real risk that the limitations of the members’ freedom- as they are used to it- will cause friction and dissatisfaction among members of the Parliament. In our view this matter affects the rights and privileges of members. I know that some people on my side of the Parliament have very sensible views and some of them have quite bizarre views. I am sure that the same remark applies to members of the Government parties.
– What party do you identify with?
– I do not have a mad sense of identification as Senator Martin probably has. I am sure that many people on both sides of the Parliament have bizarre views about this matter. It is not a silly matter about which we should have these schoolgirl affiliations. The important point is that people have put different views about the proposal. For that reason this matter can be seen to affect the rights and privileges of members of Parliament and we would have sought much greater elaboration of the statement. We would have sought much greater clarification of what can be understood from certain sections of the statement. We would have expected that there should have been much greater consultation between the Presiding Officers and members of Parliament.
Mr President, I appreciate that it has been very difficult for you and for your colleague Mr Speaker to indulge in a mass Athenian-style democracy consultation in cases like this. But it certainly would have been thought more satisfactory if, before some of the specific incidents to which I have referred actually took place, there was at least some intimation to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives that it was intended to proceed with those matters. I summarise the views which I have put. I think I can say that I speak for my colleagues and myself when I say that by and large we see the whole matter as being an extraordinary response and a vast over-reaction to a very unusual situation which took place at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.. Many of these matters should have been attended to years ago. To that extent, some action is welcomed but it is felt that the sort of action which has been taken in a rather ad hoc way without proper consultation may be seen to affect the rights and privileges of members of Parliament. I accordingly move the amendment which stands in the name of Senator Wriedt and which states:
At end of motion add ‘, and that the matter of the security of Parliament House be referred to the Privileges Committee’.
– I second the amendment. I shall say only a few words about this matter.
- Senator Cavanagh, if I could explain, I did not ask for a seconder because I took it that Senator Button was speaking on behalf of his Party as Deputy Leader. In those circumstances I do not normally ask for a seconder.
– I do not know whether a seconder is necessary. I can endorse what has been said because I am one who possibly recognises the need for security as I have had security forces trailing me and sitting outside my home for weeks. While I was asleep in bed security officials were outside the front door all night. That never gave me a sense of security. The officials at that time agreed that despite all the security that was available, when an assassin wanted to assassinate he would do so. The only benefit is that the security official can catch the assassin. It is not of much use to have on one’s tombstone the inscription that the offender was caught because one is just as dead as. if one did not have the security official. If it is necessary for me to carry a gun for my protection, that does not make me secure; it makes me feel insecure that I have reached a stage in society when I feel it is necessary to carry a gun. If I misfire or if I have inaccurate aim, I do not have much hope on that occasion.
While it is recognised that the Speaker and the President have a responsibility for the physical security of Parliament House, I suggest that from the statement it can be assumed that that responsibility has been taken seriously and everything possible has been done to ensure that Parliament House is secure. I do not know whether the President or the Speaker has a duty to take into consideration the privilege of members of Parliament. I do not think so. The privilege of members may create a bigger threat or be a bigger detriment than lack of security. As far as can be ascertained there was no reason for gelignite being placed within metres of the front entrance of (he Hilton Hotel. No organisation has sought the prestige of claiming that it planted the bomb. We are left with the conclusion that gelignite was placed outside the Hilton Hotel only for the purpose of demonstrating that despite security measures an assassin can strike when he wants to strike. It has even been suggested that the gelignite may have been planted by security officials to protect their prestige or job or that it may have been planted by someone who wanted to condemn the role played by the Australian police forces.
Despite the fact that tight security measures were adopted at the Hilton Hotel which was the venue for a meeting of important heads of state enough gelignite to blow up the hotel was planted almost on the doorstep of the hotel. Therefore the security measures did not provide a great deal of protection. A recent report gave details of the number of guns carried by air travellers which have been detected over the years by various devices. However, there has never been any suggestion of an intention to use these weapons for the purpose of hijacking aircraft or for the purpose of an assault. We have no proof that the detection equipment at airports has protected the public from incidents on aircraft.
I suppose every occupation has its hazards and risks. The assassination rate among politicians, other than heads of state, is not high. Generally speaking, there does not seem to have been any genuine attempt to assassinate a politician. However, the assassination rate must be high in respect of heads of state, high government officials such as Prime Ministers, perhaps leaders of the Opposition, Deputy Prime Ministers and some Ministers. There is no doubt that strict security measures are justified in the case of such men. Against that we have to think of the disadvantage that security measures can impose on ordinary members of this chamber. If there is to be any protection against the use of weapons by someone who wishes to impress someone like that, protection must be based on the ability of a person to have access to the member of Parliament he wants to see. A person will use a threat or resort to violence only when that ability to sit down and talk is not available.
If one thing has distinguished the Australian Parliament from many European parliaments and has increased our level of protection it is the free flow of electors- citizens of the Commonwealthinto and out of Parliament House. They are able to travel about the Parliament to see their elected representatives. This involves the question of bringing Parliament to the people- of members of Parliament having contact with their electors both inside and outside Parliament House. If we take away the ability of electors to do this we will have to establish machinery to ensure they cannot get in at all. If we do this I think we will increase the risk of attack and diminish our level of protection. Therefore, I would be very cautious about keeping people out of Parliament House. As I have said, an assassin will get in despite all the devices we may establish for the purpose of keeping him out, just as someone was able to plant gelignite outside of the Hilton Hotel in spite of the security around that building.
As a previous Minister for Works for a short time I have some knowledge of the questions raised by Senator Button. I have seen the electrical wires that run under the floorboards of the passageways from the front end to the rear of the old section of Parliament House. The wires are attached to short pieces of wooden boards for the purpose of servicing. According to officers of the then Department of Works, Parliament House represents one of the greatest fire hazards in Canberra. I think that Senator Missen referred to this possibility. Everyone knows that the wiring is old but it is too costly to replace. Therefore, we can only hope that such a fire does not occur. There would be no escape if one were on the top floor of this building, when a fire broke out around a staircase and the ground floor doors were shut. The chances of escape would be nonexistent. This would apply especially if the front door were shut. They could not leave by the front entrance.
I believe we need to give close consideration to the sort of protection we need. Assassination or a threat upon life is a state of mind rather than the power of weapons. A person can inflict a mortal injury on someone without using a weapon. All he needs is the desire to inflict that injury. Members of Parliament are not protected against this sort of occurrence. Therefore, as Senator James McClelland said, unless we have faith in government actions, unless we have clarity in what we are doing, unless we have a free flow of information and unless we have the complete confidence of the people in governments, there must be a threat. The whole question of the protection of members serving the public is related to the confidence of the public in what we are doing. That is why I say our protection will be increased if people have the ability to come into this Parliament, as opposed to excluding them from this place and subjecting to examination everyone who comes into Parliament House.
There are certain aspects of the security arrangements for Parliament House that are offensive to some people. For instance, I cannot imagine my wife, if I brought her to this place, being required to carry an identity card. She has been coming to this place for a number of years and should not be required to carry some son of authorisation. I object to such a proposal. It is also proposed that members of Parliament who are known to the officers of this place must carry identification cards.
I remember the occasion I was subjected to security activities. I was notified that a certain gunman from Sydney was coming to Canberra for the purpose of shooting someone. It was not known whether the person who was in danger was myself or a member of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I told Senator Murphy, who was then Attorney-General. He brought in Mr Davis of the Commonwealth Police and the heads of the security services. They decided to put me under security. I was told that no Aboriginal could see me unless he first submitted to a search. I said: ‘Two Aboriginals are coming to see me this afternoon and I am quite confident they are all right. One is the Secretary of the National Aboriginal Consultative Council, and the other is in the strangers’ gallery at present waiting for the appointed time’. I was told: ‘Perhaps you can see those two because you know them, but no one else’. I appealed to the then President, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. He said: ‘I know it is an embarrassment, but I will try to ease it. I am prepared to invite them into my office and ask them whether they will submit to a search. They may be willing, but if they refuse they do so at their own risk’.
The two people concerned, who had legitimate business with me, found the suggestion of a search offensive. When I told the security personnel that these two people were all right they said that the two could see me, but one policeman said: ‘The fellow in the gallery now tried to force his way past a steward in the basement’. Immediately the head of the security services said: ‘No one sees you until he has been searched ‘. The Secretary of the NACC was told that he would have to submit to a search. He said: ‘No. I will go back to Sydney. I will not submit’. That person presented no danger. When the chap in the gallery, who had an appointment to see me, was told that he would have to submit to a search he said: ‘No. If that is the case I will not go’. Subsequently I said to him: ‘You were responsible for the requirement for a search because you tried to force your way past a steward ‘. He said: ‘I did not. I was in Gordon Bryant’s office and I asked the girl there the best way to get to your office. She said that the best way was straight along the corridor. When I was going along the basement corridor in the direction she told me this fellow objected and told me to go upstairs’. That was the extent of the force. We are sometimes misinformed on these issues. I do not think we should panic over the whole issue. I agree with the taking of all reasonable precautions.
When I was Minister for Police and Customs officers of the Police Association expressed opposition to policemen having to walk around the perimeter of Parliament House in all types of weather and under all types of conditions. We had to consider some means of affording them protection. It was suggested that we might build guard boxes on each corner of the building to protect the police engaged in surveillance of the building. It was opposed by most members of my party because we did not want to make the people’s democratic Parliament look like a guarded fortress. We wanted it to remain open to the people and we did no want police boxes on each corner. The Department suggested that by putting cameras on each corner of the building officers watching a closed circuit television set in the building could see everything going on outside and could conduct their surveillance much more thoroughly than by parading up and down outside. The suggestion has never been acted upon. That security measure has never been provided.
The real desire of people to whom one talks is not to have a military guard between them and their elected representatives. If a threat is ever carried out it will be because of a lack of confidence by someone in the Parliament or a member of the Parliament. One could well visualise the actions of the Premier of Queensland creating so much hostility in the Aboriginals of
Aurukun and Mornington Island that the Premier needs protection. The incident which it was considered made security arrangements for Parliament House necessary should never have happened. Therefore, Mr President, I am opposed to the security measures you have outlined in your statement. I believe they offer me no security but a great deal more insecurity.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (4.40)- I listened with amazement to Senator Cavanagh. I have known the honourable senator for a long time and I have a great personal affection for him, as he well knows. My amazement this afternoon is tinged with his total preoccupation with his own safety or his disregard for his own safety.
– There is no one more important to preserve!
-I will deal with that in a moment. Senator Cavanagh adverted to an incident that occurred in Parliament House. I met a similar situation some years ago, when it was part of my responsibility as President of the Senate to see that adequate protection was offered not only to the 180 members of Parliament but also to the working population of this Parliament which, when the Parliament is sitting, numbers 700 or 800 people. This Parliament House was built in a paddock in 1927. At that time one could count on the fingers of one hand the visitors who came here. The population of Australia has risen from about 6 million then to 14 million today. It is not a homogeneous population. People are highly mobile today. No one came to Canberra in the early days because the journey here was worse than trying to cross the Sahara on a camel. Today people come here from all over Australia and all over the world in great numbers. The last time I looked at the figures they showed that in a year about 300,000 visitors go in and out the front door of Parliament House. There is no reason why they should not. There is no reason why they should not go into public places. But they are not a problem. I will examine the problems in a moment.
The first problem in which we find ourselves involved is the problem of the assassin, about which Senator Cavanagh talked. He is the paranoid or psychopath who wishes to destroy a particular individual. The second problem is the problem of terrorism. The terrorist is not interested in assassinating a particular person; he is interested in one thing only and that is killing someone. He does not care a damn who he kills. The bomb incident at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel is a perfect illustration. It was not an attempt to assassinate the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) or the other heads of state who were conferring at the hotel. The design of that operation was not to assassinate an individual; it was to kill anyone. In fact it killed two innocent men engaged in their civic duty of clearing rubbish bins. The third problem in the protection of institutions is the problem of riotous mobs. Therefore there are three problems.
Let me deal with the question of the assassin. Have there been attempts at assassination? When it was my duty to preside over this chamber 1 had strong evidence that a psychopath or a paranoid wanted to assassinate an honourable senator. What was it my responsibility to do? I could not arrest anyone. The police could not arrest anyone. If a person came into this chamber and stood near the door and you, Mr President, thought that he was a would-be assassin you could order him to be arrested. If one of your officers told you there was a suspicious man in Kings Hall and you had reason to believe he intended to attempt to assassinate a member of parliament you could issue a warrant for his arrest. The moment that you, Mr President, issue a warrant for his arrest, the Standing Orders require you to inform the Senate that you have issued a warrant for his arrest. You must then explain to the Senate why you have issued a warrant for arrest. You may find in the meantime that you have been misinformed and that the person arrested is innocent. Then Parliament looks stupid because the President has ordered the arrest of an individual under the suspicion that he is armed and intends to commit an assassination. Honourable senators may laugh and say that it is not possible. But it has happened.
Mr President, I sat in your chair and was given a message from the Criminal Investigation Branch of the New South Wales Police that there was an individual sitting in the Senate public gallery who was suspected of being armed with intent to commit a murder. What does one do in that situation? This is an illustration of what can happen and of what, in fact, has happened. What should be done with a man sitting up there in that public gallery who is alleged to be armed with intent to commit a murder? He might have intended to kill Senator Cavanagh for all I knew. But I was staring that man in the face; so it might have been me he intended to kill. I am not without my ingenuity. I had him removed without causing too much trouble- in fact, I had him removed with no trouble at all. That is a story which I may tell at some other time.
There was a case involving another psychopath who had made threats that he would assassinate an honourable senator in this place. One of the reasons attendants have been placed around the Senate is that I, when I was President of the Senate, ordered that the attendants be placed at all the ingresses to the Senate in order to protect this honourable senator who was under the threat of murder. We went further than that. The Senate attendants were trained to recognise people who were known to have made threats. One day the senior Senate attendant saw this man prowling up and down in Kings Hall outside the Senate chamber. We had that man removed. Those are illustrations of the problems that are presented in the age in which we live. The paranoid or the psychopath is ambulatory. He can move from one end of Australia to the other in a few hours. He can come from Sydney to Canberra in 40 minutes.
– You mean that he can travel.
-Yes, these people can travel. For example, someone in Perth may make threats against Senator Button for something he misheard Senator Button say in the Senate one night. This person may say: ‘I will get that fellow’, referring to Senator Button. Honourable senators may laugh about this, but even if Senator Button went to the police in Western Australia and told them that he had reason to believe this man had made threats against his life, the man could be over in Canberra within a few hours and long before any precautionary action could be taken. That is the problem with assassination attempts and it is one of the problems that relates to the security of Parliament House. It is one of the reasons we must be able to distinguish between people who have a right to move around in Parliament House with freedom and people who must be checked. We must narrow down the number of people who can move around Parliament House.
The next point to make in this context relates to the security of Parliament House itself. I can assure honourable senators that this was a nice Parliament House in 1927. It had plenty of windows and doors and it operated under what I call the Clancy of the Overflow system. Clancy could hitch his horse to a tree or a fence where the fountains are at present. He could come into Parliament House to see the Prime Minister or his local member of parliament. That is now history. It is over and done with. We are not dealing with that Clancy of the Overflow system; we are dealing in Australia with a very complex and peculiar society, such as that which exists in other parts of the world. It is the protection of this building that must be placed under severe scrutiny. Honourable senators may not know that there was a paranoid wandering around in Canberra. Eventually he was tracked down, but only after he tried to break into the back of Parliament House one night. He was found on Black Mountain sitting on 20 lb of gelignite. That illustrates the situation clearly. This Parliament House is not physically secure and action must be taken to make it secure.
I now turn to deal with terrorists. No-one knows where the terrorist is. I am informed that generally known terrorist organisations are easy to penetrate. Suspicion has fallen on at least one organisation that has already involved itself in terrorism but it has not been possible to penetrate that organisation. I am referring to the organisation that is under suspicion in relation to the Hilton Hotel bombing. The terrorist does not care about Senator Cavanagh, Senator Button, the President of the Senate or the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). He is interested in making another point. He wants to cause notoriety. The way he does this is by killing and he does not care who he kills, as long as he kills. There are terrorist organisations in Australia. Honourable senators opposite will recollect quite clearly before and during the period they were in government they were moving motions constantly which directed the attention of the Senate to the existence of terrorist organisations in Australia. The motions were directed particularly towards the Croats. There is no question that there are terrorist groups operating amongst the Yugoslav people in Australia, whether they be Croats, Montenegrians, Serbians or Macedonians. They plant bombs and blow up buildings. They attempt to kill. Therefore, protection must be provided against terrorists.
All sorts of devices must be installed to protect against terrorists. I do not say this in an egotistical way, but when I was the President, I installed such a device in order to protect honourable senators. It was when terrorist organisations were sending explosive letters. I had the Australian Telecommunications Commission instal a machine- it did so very quickly- and unknown to all honourable senators, their mail was put through the machine before it was delivered to their rooms to ensure that no honourable senator opened a letter in his office and had his hands or his head blown off
Notwithstanding anything that Senator Cavanagh says, there are problems in this modern day and age and this building must be protected. Finally, I deal with the problem of protecting Parliament House against mob violence.
Honourable senators may not believe that it is possible to have mob violence in Canberra. I assure them that it is possible. I found myself in the extraordinary situation when I was the President of having to offer a guarantee. I, as the President, acting on behalf of honourable senators, had to give a total, unlimited guarantee that visitors to Parliament House would not suffer any molestation, hurt or harm. That is not easy to do when subsequent events indicated that the Commonwealth police were able to pick up a couple of people armed with pistols no more than 50 feet away from Parliament House. In this country people do not carry pistols for fun. They have reasons for carrying them. I must make this confession: Senator Cavanagh is right in saying that there should be free entry into Parliament House. There is no problem about any member of parliament who is informed by the attendants that there is a visitor by the name of Mr Smith to see him in Kings Hall saying that he would like to see Mr Smith. He can leave his office, come to Kings Hall and vouch for Mr Smith. But I think it is an extraordinary form of madness to allow someone who says that he is Mr Smith and that he wants to see Senator Guilfoyle, to walk into Parliament House and wander around the corridors trying to find Senator Guilfoyle. The person concerned may be quite honest or he may have a sense of injustice which he will satisfy only with an assassination attempt. So we have three problems. There is the problem of the assassin, whose threat is directed against the individual, and the problem of the terrorist. I have given the Senate illustrations of attempted assassinations, of people who are proclaimed assassins or who have asserted themselves to be assassins. I have given illustrations of terrorist activities and I have given illustrations- touching only lightly here- of the problem of mobs as they relate to Parliament House.
I should like to go back to the days when I first knew Canberra when, in fact, the system of free entry and movement in this Parliament House was totally uninhibited. But then we were dealing with a different society from the one we have to confront today. Whether we like it or not, a system of security has to be introduced in Parliament House. The very first precaution we must take is to lock the outside doors. That has already been done, and I commend the President for doing it. The second is that the people must carry an indication of who they are. It is a most extraordinary thing to me that every member of Parliament should view with satisfaction and relief that those who are involved in the maintenance and handling of aircraft, and in movement in airports, wear identity discs whilst, on the other hand, the moment one suggests that identity discs be worn in Parliament House those members start screaming privilege. I am being somewhat vehement because of the simple reason that honourable senators have no idea to what prejudice they have been subjected in the years during which they thought they were sitting here safely. I have known times when we have averaged a bomb scare every week in this Parliament.
– Why was nothing done about it then?
-It was done. I will tell the honourable senator what was done. I asked the House Committee of the Senate to meet me in my rooms to lay down security measures. I received agreement from honourable senators on the Government side, but a total repudiation from honourable members opposite. They were advancing- I might add with great honesty and without malice- the same argument that no security system was necessary.
I do not know what the situation is today, but a few years ago we averaged a bomb scare every week. The reason honourable senators were not informed of this was that we were dealing sometimes with the paranoid or even the psychopath, who gets some curious satisfaction out of knowing that he has scared someone; but we had then, and I suppose we still have, a system by which the Parliament- the areas in the vicinity of where honourable senators are sitting, as well as the House of Representatives- could be searched with great speed. So honourable senators are at present surrounded with a security system of some sort, but it is not a fully effective one.
The second problem is that although we had used to the maximum degree the capacity of the Presiding Officers to protect honourable senators and honourable members against assassination, terrorism and mobs, it just comes to mind that that distinguished senator, Dame Annabelle Rankin, a Minister of State, was bailed up in her office across the corridor by a man with a knife in his hand. Fortunately, that man was grabbed. That was before we instituted the reasonable security system that we have on the doors now. But whilst we say that the Presiding Officers can satisfy honourable senators and members that they are offering them the greatest amount of personal protection that they can, there is no guarantee that they can protect the other 600 or 700 people who work in this place. Those people are just as much entitled to be protected as the garbage collectors outside the Hilton Hotel should have been if the New South Wales police had been as good as they should have been.
I am being somewhat vehement because I am talking about a matter that I know something about. A lot of honourable senators are talking about things that they know nothing about. It is my opinion that the Senate should, without hesitation and without complaint, accept on their own behalf, and on behalf of the people who work for the Parliament inside this place, the precautions that have been taken by the Presiding Officers. On this basis, I reject the amendment and applaud the action of the Presiding Officers to protect honourable members and senators and those who work in this place.
-I rise to speak briefly in support of the remarks of my deputy leader, Senator Button, and my colleague Senator Cavanagh. It does seem to me that the reaction of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and those responsible for security in this place has resulted very largely from the tragedy at the Hilton Hotel. Frankly, in my view the Hilton Hotel incident can only be put alongside the letter bombs of 1975- a method used by agent provocateurs- and I see no reason why we should try to padlock this place because of the actions of such people.
Those of us who were here on the day that Parliament was opened could only have been staggered by the amount of security placed around this building, which was probably more closely guarded than Fort Knox- with snipers on the roof and security everywhere. It was rather strange the next morning to find the complete opposite being practised. On the Wednesday morning I walked down towards the members’ bar and saw lying in the corridor a cardboard box about three feet or three feet six long by eight inches by six inches, tied with a very pretty green ribbon. It appeared to me that someone in that area had that morning received a sheaf of flowers and that the box had been left outside in the corridor. On the previous day that box would undoubtedly have called for the use of the Army’s wheeled robot, and someone would have stood off at 50 yards and blasted it to pieces; but on the Wednesday morning it stayed in the same position for three hours. No one seemed to worry two hoots about it.
On the same day, a constituent of mine came into this Parliament carrying, as ladies are prone to do, a rather large bag. She walked straight up the front steps and came in and asked for me. There was no search- just the complete opposite to what had gone on during the previous day, an activity that had represented a total overreaction to what had happened in the Hilton Hotel. What happened on Wednesday certainly made Tuesday look a complete farce.
I want to refer now to the kinds of ludicrous things that can happen when one begins to clamp down with security. On the evening of the Tuesday on which Parliament was opened, Senator Brown, his wife, his electorate secretary and 1 went to dinner. We returned to Parliament House for the social occasion at around 9. 1 5 or 9.30 p.m. We were unloaded from our cars at the front steps. Upon approaching the bottom of the steps, to walk up into King’s Hall, we were confronted with the gentleman about whom Senator Mulvihill asked a question. I refer to the bemedalled officer in the swallow-tail coat, who came flying down like a bird in full flight and said: ‘Who are you?’. I said: ‘My name is Senator Primmer. This is.Senator Brown, Mrs Brown and Miss Mclvor, Senator Brown’s electorate secretary.’ He said: ‘Where are your entree cards?’ As it happened, our entree cards had been left in the Whip’s office. We told him this and he said: You will not enter this place without an entree card.’ I looked up. There were two Senate attendants whom I have known during the time that I have been in this Parliament, something like seven years. I said: ‘There are two Senate attendants up there who can identify all of us’. I beckoned one of those attendants down. The officer in the swallow-tail coat said: ‘It does not matter; you will not enter here without your entree card’.
Rather than get into a fight with the gentleman we turned on our heels and walked out. As we were walking out the attendant came down because he realised what was going on. We walked to another door of the building. There we were recognised by attendants. We told them what had happened. One attendant said to me: ‘ I recognise you, you are Senator Primmer.’ He said to Senator Brown: ‘You are Senator Brown, that is your wife. I believe the other lady is your electorate secretary’. At that time, the attendant who had walked down to the front of the House had moved through the building, picked up our entree cards, and we were allowed in at the other door. We came into King’s Hall, much to the horror, I believe, of the swallow-tail coated gentleman who immediately set his beady eyes on us. I understand he set up an investigation as to how we got into the building.
The point I make is that that gentleman, who appeared to be a security officer of some nature, was looking for entree cards. He was not con.cerned whether I was Senator Primmer, Billy the b1’kfellow or Joe from Timbucktoo. He wanted i entree card. If I had had my entree card on me when I left the building at 6 o’clock to go to dinner and lost it somewhere, a person who picked it up could have got into this building that night as Senator Primmer, despite all the security regulations, while I was precluded. That is the ludicrous situation we get into when we start to clamp down on security and give some authority to petty bureaucrats. All they know to look for is a card. Despite the fact that we were recognised by two attendants who had known us for seven years and could have identified us anywhere, that gentleman intended to keep us out of the building.
– Was that not the same gentleman who got locked out himself later that evening?
-Senator Coleman reminds me that the rules of entry into this place on that evening were changed at 9 o’clock. At 9 o’clock the bemedalled gentleman found himself on the outer. He was locked out. I do not know whether that is correct. That is what I am told. The situation was ludicrous. That could happen in any building where petty bureaucrats try to exercise petty authority. As I have said, despite the fact that Senator Brown, myself and other members of the party were fully and totally spoken for and recognised by attendants we found it difficult it enter.
What Senator Sir Magnus Cormack had to say summed up the situation. I was here at the time of many of the incidents to which he referred. He is to be congratulated for the way he handled those incidents. He said basically that although the security measures which have been taken in the Parliament have stopped the intruder that we do not want in the building, they will never stop all intruders. I was confronted by a gentleman in a corridor in Parliament House late last year. When the sitting of the Senate was suspended at 1 p.m. for the luncheon break I walked into the corridor, along with several other honourable senators. For some reason this gentleman approached me. He did not speak Australian as well as most of us speak it. He was obviously from a foreign country. I found it very hard to pick up the gist of his conversation. The other senators moved off and I found myself confronted by him. He started to become slightly agitated. As it happened one of the Senate whips walked out, assessed the situation and the gentleman was shown out to King’s Hall.
Despite all that has happened in the years about which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack spoke, it is still possible for someone to get into Parliament House. I do not say that man was dangerous, but he appeared to be agitated and could well have been dangerous. It goes to show that no matter what stringent security measures are implemented in this place a person who wants or who has been trained to get in will still get in. It reminds me of commandos during the war years. People are trained to get through security screens. They will get in. That is a risk we have to take. As members of parliament we should be prepared to take that risk in the interests of freedom of access into this place for ourselves, our families and our constituents.
– I am puzzled by what the Opposition is trying to indicate to the Senate in this debate. We have an amendment before us on which we have heard little so far. Therefore, I shall not comment on the amendment at this stage. I shall comment on the content of the debate as it has flowed to and fro on either side. The case from the other side of the chamber has been put forward in two parts. The first part is an allegation that people are acting too hastily on security and therefore the proposed actions should be slowed down. The second part is that no action should be taken, in any event. I wonder what honourable senators opposite are trying to achieve. At the beginning of the debate there was some sort of structure to the argument. It has been a little difficult to follow since. Perhaps we can extemporise for a few minutes.
Senator Primmer made us privy to some fascinating personal incidents he has experienced in his time as an honourable senator. I shall refer to a few I have experienced which alarmed me in relation to security. They have led me to the conclusion that some sort of action on security is long overdue. The question of whether the action we are taking is precisely the right action and how the action should be taken are other matters. I shall get on to that matter. I have had a number of experiences which have alarmed me from the time I first became a senator. People assume that Parliament House is a fairly secure place. I am sure that all of us have had experience of people from outside expressing some surprise at the free entry and roaming of corridors afforded to anyone who walks in to this place off the street.
Like most members of the public, I assumed when I was elected that there was some sort of security and that so long as I was in this building I was reasonably secure at any time of the day or night. Therefore, it was rather a rude shock to me when early in my experience here I left my office very late at night and proceeded to leave the House by the front entrance. I started to walk along the Opposition lobbies- we were then in Opposition- at approximately 2 a.m. and I was rather surprised when I turned the corner into the Opposition lobby to confront two men, one of whom was lifting from its position hanging outside the Opposition Senate party room the notice board which notifies honourable senators when meetings of parties will be held. As I said, I was rather surprised. I was also a little tired so my reactions were not very quick. I looked at them; they looked at me. One of them said: ‘Can you tell us how we get out of here?’ As we were then approximately 10 yards from the doorway into King’s Hall I concluded that those gentlemen did not know where they were and, therefore, they had no right whatsoever to be in the Opposition lobbies at that time of night. However, I am not an unnaturally intrepid soul so I pointed out the doorway to them hoping they would get out of it as quickly as they could. That incident brought home to me the fact that I could not work here late at night with the previous confidence I had that so long as I was in Parliament House I was secure. Since then when I work here late at night I assume that I must lock the door to my office. Security is so poor that one cannot be sure who will be wandering around here even at that time of night or morning.
I had a further experience when I was Opposition Deputy Whip. As you are aware, Mr Deputy President, there are two doors behind you which lead from this chamber into a corridor which the President traditionally uses when he moves to and from this chamber. That corridor leads into one of the main Senate corridors. You would also be aware, Mr Deputy President, that crossing the President’s corridor and forming a T-intersection is a corridor between the offices of the Government Whip and the Opposition Whip. The whips use this corridor to communicate quickly with one another. One day when the President was in the chair I had cause to proceed from the Opposition Whip’s office to the Government Whip’s office. I was at the Tintersection when I was rather surprised to bump into two young men. I hope that I am not considered a bigot in terms of dress or anything else but the fact that they were wearing jeans and Tshirts and no shoes, that I did not recognise them and that when they saw me they took to their heels, indicated to me that they had no business being within five feet of the door which leads into this chamber.
Those two incidents have alarmed me. I mentioned them to the previous President, and 1 mentioned them to the current President. They are the sorts of things that can happen. Some people might say that the attendants have no business letting people wander around the corridors. My feelings on that are a little mixed.
I will give a few more anecdotes for Senator Primmer’s benefit. He is not the only one who has not been recognised around here. The fact that some strange gentleman had some sort of surveillance over entree cards for a reception here is another matter. I have long since felt that it must be an impossible job for attendants in this place to know whom they should be halting when people attempt to proceed through doors marked ‘Strictly members only’. There is no way for them to tell whether those people should be there or not, unless they happen to recognise them. It is no wonder that the attendants have not bothered to challenge strangers in the past, except on a few rare occasions.
I will not attempt to count the number of times that I have been refused access to the Senators’ Gallery in the House of Representatives. The most recent time was early this year. I have been in this place for nearly four years and the gentleman who sought on that occasion to refuse me access to that gallery in the House of Representatives was someone whom I recognised very well indeed. He had probably been here for at least as long as I have, but he did not recognise me. There is, of course, a universal assumption that members of Parliament are not women; so some attendants have made that assumption and when a woman has attempted to enter the chamber they have not bothered to check their memories to find out whether she does have rightful access to that chamber. If he had been a new attendant I would not have been annoyed; but, since he was someone I recognised, I think it was only reasonable to expect that that attendant to recognise me. However, that is apparently one of the difficulties for women in this place. I have also, on occasions, been very rudely refused access to party meetings by attendants who thought I was a member’s secretary and therefore someone who could not set foot in that sacrosanct area. But we have managed to clear up those situations fairly smartly.
I do understand the problem faced by new attendants. They have no reasonable way of knowing who should be allowed to walk through certain doorways in this place. We place an impossible burden on them when we have absolutely no means of identification or checking. Early last year I had the privilege of visiting
Japan and meeting members of the Diet. I was interested in the fact that in Japan members of the Diet- the upper House and the lower House- wear a distinctive little badge.
They wear it at all times which the Japanese people recognise even of its wearer is in the street, as indicating that that individual is a member of the Diet. It is a badge that members of the Diet wear proudly. It also has the very clear advantage of security in terms of quick identification. Of course, one can always say that it is possible to lose one’s badge and for someone else to pick it up and put it on. That is a hazard. But I think that risk is statistically rather less than the risk that we run every day in this place, with literally dozens of people pouring through the doorways of the Parliament whom attendants do not dare challenge.
Earlier today I was discussing this subject with a former member of the State Parliament in Queensland who happens to be visiting Canberra at the moment. As I said, he is a former member of a State Parliament and so is a former member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and he happened to be wearing his CPA tie when he arrived. Nobody at any stage of my taking him to various Ministers’ offices around the building asked him for a pass, although he did not really have any right of access. But he was wearing a CPA tie which, it appears, guarantees immunity of some sort. It would be just as easy, I would imagine, for somebody to lose his CPA tie and for somebody else to pick it up and know that he could wander around this place without any challenge. I contrast that with my experience and just say that the present situation is quite untenable. If we are to have any reasonable method of security in this Parliament, we must look at the realities and realise that under the present circumstances the responsibilities that are given to certain employees of this Parliament at the moment are impossible for them to carry out.
Some reference has been made to the Hilton Hotel bombing. I was glad that Senator Primmer reminded the Senate that that is not the first such outrage that we have had in this country. I was glad that he reminded the Senate that several letter bombs were sent through the post during the 1975 election campaign and that a non-political individual- a totally innocent person- who had the responsibility of opening the mail in the Queensland Premier’s Department was blown up by a bomb because proper security precautions were not taken. I am surprised that Senator Primmer did not cast his mind back a little further to an incident in which his party’s former leader, Mr Calwell, was shot at. It surprises me that people in Australia treat the Hilton Hotel bombing as something which is completely new in our society. We have had this type of violence for some time and, at great risk, we have not taken notice of it. To a certain extent, one can blame the Hilton Hotel bombing on the fact that people have not taken the notice they should have taken of earlier shooting and bombing incidents in this country and have not been as scrupulous with regard to security as they should have been. We all can lament the limitation of freedom that it means, but we have to realise that we have a particular responsibility.
Our physical security is one matter, but we are surrounded by innocent people. We all know when we go into public life that we run particular risks. We all know that when we address public meetings during election campaigns, when feelings tend to run a little high, and when we do other things of that nature there is a certain risk attached. In Australia we do not expect that risk to be very high. But the people who are around us, the people who come to listen to speakers at these meetings, or the onlookers who sit in our gallery do not think in those terms and they do not expect to run that risk. It is a matter of total horror to us that two completely innocent men were killed in Sydney- the number of men killed has now increased to three- because a bomb had been planted. Two men who were going about their business, totally innocent and unaware of security problems attached to meetings of leaders of nations, lost their lives. Nobody ever thought to warn them that there were certain security risks in that area.
Certainly, we should not over-react. Certainly, we must make sure that we act in a way which does not infringe civil liberties. It might irk Senator Primmer and others that their legitimacy here has been challenged, but I just ask them to put the matter in perspective. They might feel that they have a right to be annoyed about those incidents. Possibly they do. I cannot account for the tone of voice in which they were challenged. However, I think they must realise that if we are to have any realistic security in this building there will be a period of adjustment and settlement. You, Mr President, have made a statement on security which I think is probably a reasonable response to the problem. Enormous difficulties are entailed in making Parliament House secure. However, it seems to me to be no answer at all to say that without going to extreme measures we cannot make this building totally secure.
The fact is that at the moment Parliament House is a favourite target of university studenttype pranks at the time of year when university students get up to such pranks. They gain access to this place with the greatest of ease. I have nothing against university students or their pranks- they tend to be amusing and to liven up a fairly dull scene- but it does prove that people without any particular skill at all have free access to this place now -
– Why not?
– Free access- access to our offices? The honourable senator says ‘why not?’; but why should they? We in this building have the right to believe that we are not physical targets for people who have some sort of grudge. We have the right to believe that our papers and our offices are secure. It has been pointed out to me -
– That is a different matter altogether.
– It is not a different matter at all. If people can come in here for the purpose of doing us physical harm- that is one supposition, but there is another one -
– Who should be allowed to enter our offices- someone who is authorised to enter our offices and search our papers? Is that what you want? That is what has happened.
– There is another problem, and that is the matter of the security of individual offices. I am astonished at the fact that we cannot secure our own offices, except in the most superficial way. I am astonished, almost whenever I walk into this building, whether the Parliament is sitting or not, to find that I do not need a key to open my office. That means that nobody else needs a key to open my office, Senator George ‘s office or a whole lot of other offices in this building. We can, of course, lock our filing cabinets. I do not know whether Senator Georges is aware of how many variations of keys there are for the standard issue of Public Service filing cabinets which we have in our offices. Not very many. It seems to me that our offices are not secure and our papers are not secure. Somebody who wanted to make mischief could do so with the greatest of ease. We would then sit back, throw up our hands and say: ‘That is dreadful’. There have been incidents in this Parliament where it has been alleged that people have improperly gained access to the rooms of members and senators and gained access to the papers that were in those rooms and, subsequently, used those papers. They are extreme cases; they are not common. I certainly do not know who comes and goes in my office when I am not around. I do not know who comes and goes when I am present on these premises because it could be literally anyone.
I said at the beginning of my speech that I came here with the assumption that basic security would exist, such as the security in a building in which I work in Queensland- the Australian Government Centre- which essentially houses public servants. After 6 o’clock at night that building is impregnable. It appears to be all right for that building to be made secure but not for this building. I once worked at the University of Queensland. It is not a major target for malcontents in the community, but the same basic security existed. After a certain time of day the doors were securely locked, the building was locked and checked and nobody gained access unless he or she had a key to the door.
– Are you not confusing two types of security?
– No, I am not confusing the issue. Senator Georges will get his turn to speak later.
– You are confusing two types of security.
- Senator Georges is trying to confuse me. If he will be quiet for a moment and listen for a change he will find out what I am saying.
– That is optimism.
- Senator Missen may also have a point. As I have said, I came here with the assumption that this place would be reasonably secure. Other people come here with the assumption that it is reasonably secure, such as those innocent bystanders we keep talking about. Shortly after I came here for the first session of Parliament in which I was involved some friends who live in Canberra came to visit me. They came here to join me for the evening meal. I indicated to them that they ought to go to the entrance that we refer to as the ‘rear of the Senate’ and ask there for me. At a little after the appointed hour I was surprised when they knocked on the door of my office and walked in. They were also a little surprised that they had been allowed to do that. They had come in the Senate entrance door and approached the Senate attendants’ box. I must make it perfectly clear that the person to whom I am going to refer anonymously no longer works in this place. My friends approached the Senate attendants’ box, which was just inside the doorway, and were mildly taken aback to see someone in a Senate uniform reclining comfortably in his chair with his feet on a desk watching a portable television set. That was at 6 p.m. With some difficulty, they managed to raise their voices above the noise and indicated that they wanted to see me. He told them that my door was next to the lift on the first floor and that they could feel free to get into the lift and go up to my room. So they arrived without any warning at all.
I do not know what instructions are given to Senate attendants. I do not know whether they are told not to watch television at 6 o’clock at night when they are on duty. I do not know what sort of precautions should be taken in relation to directing total strangers. My friends obviously were total strangers as they did not even know where the lifts were and they just wandered around the building. Perhaps that area of security is deficient. I suspect that the general lackadaisical attitude that has prevailed in the past on the part of members of parliament as well as employees has been at least partly responsible for the fact that that could happen; partly responsible for the fact that the two youths to whom I referred earlier could have been within five feet of this chamber and not have been challenged but just took to their heels when they saw someone who appeared to belong in the place and partly responsible for the fact that two men were wandering around the lobbies of this House at 2 a.m. and did not know how to get out although they had managed to get in.
I should like to make a few other points but I understand that a ministerial statement is about to be made. Therefore, I seek leave to continue my remarks when the debate is resumed.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement relating to Australia’s trade relations with the European Economic Community. This statement was made in the other place this afternoon by the Minister for Special Trade Representations (Mr Garland).
The speech read as follows-
I report to the House on behalf of the Government on progress in negotiations between Australia and the European communities, better known to us as the EEC. All aspects of our relationship with the EEC are important. But the special aspect of that relationship which is causing great strains between Australia and the EEC is that of trade. A united Europe is a potent force in world affairs and for world peace. Australia has traditional ties with Europe that cannot lightly be set aside. We must work to an improvement of relationships. Yet unless Europe yields on trade, anger and frustration will be predominant on Australia ‘s part.
Trade- access to overseas markets- is vital to Australia. We are efficient producers of agricultural products. By ‘efficient’ I mean that Australian primary products are genuinely low cost and high quality without significant Government subsidy. Yet the EEC is denying us the opportunitythe right- to compete in its markets. Worse, the EEC is disposing of the surpluses caused by its policies, at heavily subsidised prices on third markets in which we would otherwise sell our products.
Let me put some dimensions on the problem. The EEC is the biggest trading bloc in the world. It has a population of 260 million. It accounts for about 40 per cent of world trade. Total extra EEC imports in 1976-77 on a ci.f. basis were $166.4 billion of which $A2.3 billion was from Australia. Total extra EEC exports on an f.o.b. basis were $149.3 billion of which $A2.6 billion was to Australia. While we have a favourable trade balance with some Member States, we have a trade deficit with the EEC as a whole measured on a consistent f.o.b.-f.o.b. basis of some $A826m. When account is taken of invisibles the situation is even worse. We have a current account balance of payments deficit with the EEC as a whole of $A1941m. The Government is not arguing for bilateral balancing in trade with the EEC. Australia is a multilateral trader. But we are concerned at the imbalance- and the growing imbalance- of trading opportunities.
When the EEC was expanded from the original six to its present nine by the addition of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, all Australians expected trade in our agricultural products to suffer. All acknowledged the need for us to seek new markets. That we have done and that we shall continue to do. But nobody on either side of the House anticipated the severity of the effects on our trade with the EEC. And surely nobody thought that the EEC would compete with us through its heavily subsidised agricultural surpluses in those new markets to which we have turned. I think it is true to say that Australia is the country worst affected by the enlargement of the EEC and its common agricultural policy. It should not be forgotten that half our exports are agricultural products.
The decline in Australia’s access to the Community’s domestic market for food products is well illustrated by the following figures. In 1972-73 Australia exported 427,000 tonnes of sugar, 32,200 tonnes of butter and 110,000 tonnes of beef to the EEC. The application of the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy to United Kingdom imports has wiped out our trade in sugar and butter to the EEC. Moreover by 1976-77 our exports of beef as a result of the imposition of increasingly protective mechanisms under the CAP had fallen to about 10,000 tonnes. Our main exports to the EEC are basically wool and minerals which because they are not available in sufficient quantities from EEC sources of supply do not face significant trade restrictions in the EEC. There has been some growth in exports of these products in recent years, but they do not provide a sufficient base for development of proper trading relationships with the EEC. We cannot accept the argument that growth in these areas should be acknowledged to offset losses in our trading opportunities in agricultural products. It cannot be regarded as fair trade when almost all our many agricultural products are excluded from the largest trading bloc in the world.
So far, our concerns have focussed on agriculture. But there are ominous developments elsewhere. The EEC has taken measures that could have the effect of excluding steel imports except from countries that negotiate an agreement on prices and quantities. The Commission of the EEC has under consideration a subsidy on domestic steaming coal of about $12 per tonne. This commodity is produced cheaply in Australia and is one which we look forward to exporting to the EEC in growing quantities. What other exports may be involved? How far will these developments go? Returning to agriculture, the policies of the EEC are based on unrealistically high domestic support prices underwritten by high variable domestic support prices underwritten by high variable levies on imports- usually amounting to de facto embargoes- and export subsidies. Such support prices are generally set well in excess of the ruling world market prices in order to maintain the incomes of the least efficient producers. Because the system is open-ended, there is nothing to stop efficient producers in the EEC from considerably expanding their production to take full advantage of the high support prices. The price support systems of the EEC are relatively inefficient at supporting the incomes of farmers in the greatest need as the benefits they confer are also available to efficient producers.
Under such a system it is hardly surprising that the EEC finds itself with what has been called mountains of beef and butter and lakes of wine. In 1977, EEC stocks of beef, butter and wine were 424,000 tonnes, 500,000 tonnes, and 21.7 million hectolitres respectively. As a result of EEC support policies that have increased domestic production the net export availability of sugar in the EEC could be around 2.5 million tonnes in 1977-78. Under the EEC’s agricultural system the rest of the world finds itself with problems of restricted access and unfair competition.
These policies force up the price of food to the EEC consumer- despite the concern of most Governments of the member states about inflation. They drive down world prices of commodities, in some cases below economic costs. For instance the EEC’s subsidy on malt last year drove us out of markets in which we would have competed on normal commercial terms. The EEC’s export subsidy on sugar is more than sugar’s world price. Such subsidies disturb and disrupt world trade and the marketing opportunities of more competitive exporters. They make it impossible for competitors to pursue rational investment policies- witness the plight of our beef industry following world encouragement to export. And they work against the EEC’s desire for security of supply when its domestic production, through drought or other adversity, fails to meet its demand. They cost EEC taxpayers enormous sums for intervention buying, storage and loss selling and force the EEC ‘s consumers to purchase food at higher prices than they would otherwise have to pay. They have shifted the burden of adjustment in agriculture to efficient producers outside the EEC. And they have greatly reduced the efficiency with which the world ‘s agricultural resources are put to use.
These are the substance of our concerns. What can we do about them? The Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tell is it is all too hard. They say we will not get our beef or our steel into the EEC. We should therefore give up the EEC as a market, they say. We might as well put our heads in the sand. We cannot and will not ignore the world’s largest trading bloc. We cannot ignore heavily subsidised competition in new or developing markets. We cannot ignore the spread of special measures by the EEC beyond agriculture into steel and perhaps steaming coal, possibly zinc and who knows what next. The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition give us only counsels of despair. They are essentially negative.
The former Prime Minister tells us he discussed a ‘Framework Agreement’ in Brussels. He tells us nothing about his advocacy for Australia and our problems. We are ready to be convinced that a framework agreement would be of real benefit to Australia. But we seek substance and not formalities. We are getting on with the job of improving trading opportunities for our exporters. Let me remind the House of what has been done. In June last year the Prime Minister agreed with the President of the EEC Commission, Mr Roy Jenkins, that there should be wide-ranging discussions between the two parties about the totality of relations between Australia and the EEC with a view to a better understanding and a more meaningful trade and commercial relationship. As an indication of Australia’s real commitment to these discussions- conceived at the highest political level- and to their satisfactory outcome, the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator was established in July 1977 and my predecessor, the Treasurer, had first discussions with all the member states and the Commission of the EEC in September and October last. He left with the Commission of the EEC a note setting out Australia’s proposals on beef, sheepmeat dairy products, canned and fresh fruit, export subsidies, tariffs on processed mineral products and international commodity arrangements. He tabled that note in Parliament on 1 November 1977.
The Australian Government signalled its continuing determination after the 1977 election by establishing the Ministry of the Special Trade Representative. Additional significance was taken on by linking its portfolio responsibilities with the role of Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Resources. In the last few weeks, in my role as Minister for Special Trade Negotiations, I have visited the Commission of the EEC and several member states- Denmark, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom, the timing of the election making it preferable to visit France later. Denmark has a particular significance as President of the Council of Ministers until mid-year. I took up Australia’s general concerns in each capital. I emphasised to ministers and commissioners the desperate situation of the Australian beef industry, accentuated by the drought, and stressed that the worsening of the industry’s position added to the urgency of the proposals put in October. I told commissioners of the grave disquiet that the measures on steel had caused us. I made it clear that Australia does not want endless debate. We want meaningful results. We want to resolve our present problems and we want to lay the foundation for a fruitful and continuing dialogue. We want to foreclose the possibility of shocks and jolts to our relationship like those on steel.
I was well received in Brussels and elsewhere. Discussions were direct and courteous. In Brussels I had fruitful discussions with the President of the Commission, Mr Jenkins; the VicePresident concerned with external relations, Mr Haferkamp; the Commissioner concerned with agriculture, Mr Gundelach; the Commissioner concerned with energy, Dr Brunner; the Commissioner concerned with industry, Viscount Davignon; and the Commissioner concerned with the Community budget, Mr Tugendhat. I was impressed by the seriousness with which each of them approached Australia’s concerns. I am heartened by their attitudes but do not suggest for a moment that we should not continue to press our case consistently and with vigour. I do not expect all our problems to be dispelled overnight. Rather, I see a continuing period of hard negotiation to redress the present imbalance of trading opportunities and to head off future problems. We know there are forces within the Community working against the excesses of the Common Agricultural Policy. But we cannot rely on them to bite deeply or quickly. We must act firmly and decisively now.
Our approach has been confirmed by the support expressed by wide sections of rural industry, most harmed by Community action, and now by the steel industry. I have also been heartened by my recent discussions with Ambassador Strauss in Washington, the United States Special Trade Representative, who confirmed to me the United States Government’s intention to strongly press in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations in Geneva for improved market access into the EEC for agricultural products, including, most importantly, beef. In that connection my role as Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Resources will involve me in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations. While we are looking to the solution of our problems with the EEC in bilateral discussions, we recognise that the resolution of some of those problems will be in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
We must make progress with the EEC. Not for selfish reasons. Not for narrow interests. But because it is vital that the stand we take on trading relationships rejects the notion of isolationism and gives reasonable market access to efficient competitors. We and the EEC must bear in mind that our ability to provide an expanding market for the EEC’s exports is largely influenced by the EEC’s willingness to provide reasonable access for our imports. It is noteworthy that while the EEC has virtually closed its doors to, amongst other things, our cheese, we are importing 4,000 tonnes of its heavily-subsidised cheese each year.
While we have seen our own trading opportunities in the EEC market for food products virtually eliminated, we have continued to allow reasonable access for EEC products to the Australian market. I ask how long anyone can expect such a situation to endure? And how long can it be before we react? There are limits to patience and understanding. It is fashionable in the EEC and domestically to criticise Australia as being protectionist against the EEC’s products. I strongly reject such criticisms as relevant here. Let us look at the facts.
Exporters from the EEC face comparatively few restrictions in the Australian market- only a narrow range of Australian imports of interest to the EEC are subject to tariff quotas or import licensing. Even where such restraints exist arrangements have generally been made to allow imports to be maintained at levels comparable with those which prevailed in the years immediately preceding their imposition. That we have not erected barriers to trade on the scale of the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy can be seen from the growth in our imports from the EEC-between 1972-73 and 1975-76 our imports of manufactures from it increased by 67 per cent from $A1212m to $2024m; by contrast our exports of foodstuffs to the EEC have dropped by more than 80 per cent over the past four years.
A comparison between passenger motor vehicles and beef provides a graphic illustration of the relative openness of the Australian and EEC markets for sensitive products. Australia allows imports of completely built up passenger motor vehicles up to 20 per cent of the market. The only reliable access arrangement under which Australian beef producers are allowed to compete on normal commercial terms in the EEC market is limited to less than 1 per cent of total Community consumption. On a whole range of commodities Australian producers of food products are virtually excluded from the Community market.
The point is that tariffs are not the only protective measures available and, what is more, it’s the amount of trade that flows over the tariff, or other measures, that is the true determinant of the protectionism or otherwise of a country or trading bloc. All these matters and the proposals left by Mr Howard I have arranged to take up with the member states and Commission of the
EEC in April, possibly extending into May. It is probable that the EEC Commissioner concerned with agriculture, Mr Gundelach, will be visiting Australia in late May or June. If he decides to make a visit we would welcome him warmly and strive to advance with him in the improvement of relationships.
I emphasise that our approach is not negative or, on the other hand, one of boundless optimism. We recognise that our negotiations will be hard and that they will be long; but we will not withdraw. And we will work to establish a continuing dialogue with the EEC that will place Australia’s trading relationship with the EEC on a wider, sounder and more equitable footing.
– by leave- The statement which has just been incorporated in Hansard by the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) deals with Australia’s trade relations with the European Economic Community. This is an area in which there has been considerable contention and, indeed, friction between not only Australia and the EEC but also many other countries and the EEC. No one would deny that the efforts by the Western European countries to come to some arrangement whereby they could improve their trade relations with each other and, as a result, improve their political relations is something which I think generally should be applauded. The Treaty of Rome, of course, was signed in 1956. It is apparent that the nations of Europe which used to tear each other to pieces every generation, to smash up each other’s economies and do all other terrible things, now have a much more common purpose. To a large degree that is expressed in the arrangements under the Treaty of Rome.
I feel that all nations should be grateful for the fact that the likelihood of these terrible conflicts breaking out again- at least in Western Europe; let us hope it would apply to the whole of Europe- is much more remote now than probably any time over many centuries. Notwithstanding that fact, the creation of the EEC has meant that the nations involved- the members of the Common Market- have decided to go their own way in world trade. Australia is one of the nations which has suffered to some considerable degree. Over the years there has been a great deal of criticism by other nations, especially the United States of America, about this policy, particularly the common agricultural policy which is of so much concern to us. I believe that it is to be regretted that was originally a concept to bring certain nations of Europe together for their mutual benefit has now had this spin-off effect of creating frictions with other nations which probably were never intended in the first place.
We in this country have quite valid grounds for criticising the functions of the EEC at present. But it is difficult to know just how far one should go in being critical. I know from my experience during the term of the Labor Administration how difficult it was in negotiations with countries in Europe to try to break through the walls which those countries had built up. I can recall only last year when a certain British Minister came to this country and made certain statements about uranium. I hope that while he was here he learned of the increased costs to the British housewife because of the common agricultural policy, of which British is now a part. Easy though it might be to be critical, as he was in that case, I hope he went back realising that there was the other side of the coin. A great deal could be said on this subject. I have not really had the time to study it in depth because of other commitments today. I should very much like this matter to be brought on for further debate at some convenient time when we return after Easter. Mr President, I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I inform honourable senators that, in accordance with Standing Order 36ab, I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) nominating senators to be members of Estimates committees as follows:
Estimates Committee A:
Senator D. McClelland
Estimates Committee B:
Estimates Committee C:
Estimates Committee D:
Estimates Committee E:
Motion (by Senator Webster)- by leaveagreed to:
That the senators indicated, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order 36AB, be appointed members of the respective committees.
– Earlier I was making some comments about my personal experience with security in this place. One of the things which has been apparent in the course of debate on this issue concerning the security of Parliament House has been a lament that it is necessary. I believe that we all lament the fact that it is necessary. I remember some years ago lamenting the fact that it was thought to be necessary to build a high fence around the Lodge, the Prime Minister’s residence. It had been a feature of Australian life that we tended to come and go fairly easily and freely and did not have to worry about security. But we have had enough incidents now and enough experience with the modern world to realise that we have to be concerned about security.
I return to the point that it does not have to be a self-centred concern about security; it has to be a concern for the many other people around us. One of the earlier speakers on this matter mentioned staff. Frankly, staff tend to be the first in the line if there is any sort of a problem. I relate to honourable senators an incident which occurred here last year. You will remember only too clearly, Mr President, that Parliament House was blacked out for something like 20 minutes on one occasion in February 1977. At that time I happened to be waiting to see the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and was sitting in the lobby outside his door. Everything went totally dark, typewriters stopped and everything came to a halt because we depend so heavily on electricity. It occurred to me after a few seconds that there might have been a sinister cause for the blackout and that, if that were so, I was sitting in the worst seat in Parliament House. I had a cigarette lighter with me which I did not bother to illuminate. I sat there in the dark and was quite happy to remain totally invisible.
I am afraid that we have to face the reality of that sort of a situation. It is sad that we have to do so. Nobody has to go overboard, but we have to fact the facts. I have seen women come and go in this place with large handbags, to which Senator Primmer referred. Also I have seen a lot of gentlemen come and go with briefcases in their hands. I understand that there ought to be some sort of challenge in respect of that. I thought that Senator Primmer gave a pretty fair outline of how he reacted when he was challenged by someone who did not know him when he was seeking entry to Parliament House on a particular occasion. The message came across to me quite clearly that he was rather indignant at being challenged because he believed that he should have been known because others knew him. I thought that ‘entree card’ meant just that -something one carries to gain entry. But apparently to Senator Primmer the fact that he was not carrying his entree card was a minor matter. That was unfortunate for Senator Primmer.
I can imagine other people who come and go quite regularly in this place- top public servants, top business people, advisers and so on- who might show similar indignation if a stranger were to stop them and insist on searching their belongings before they gained entrance. But that is not an unreasonable requirement. I do not think reasonable people object to reasonable requirements. With one fairly recent exception, I am not aware of members of parliament objecting to the requirement of being searched or having their baggage searched at airports.
– It is a matter of safety.
– It is for their own safety. Although our country has been mercifully free of serious incidents in our airways, we recognise that we are not invulnerable and that we could have an incident. Therefore it is in the interests of our safety and the safety of everyone in the community who ever uses an aircraft, that we should acquiesce to our baggage being searched and to walking through a metal detector frame or, alternatively, having a metal detector device run over us by certain security people. It is sad that this should now be necessary. It was not part of the old world; unfortunately, it is part of the new world. We have to be careful that when we decide that we must face reality we ensure people ‘s rights and liberties are not infringed.
I do not claim unto myself any special right or liberty in this place. I would not like to have to wear one of those identity cards containing a photograph which the airlines people wear. I think that there are probably simpler ways around the problem for some of us- those of us who are coming and going all the time at any rate. I would not object to some sort of identification because I recognise that the people who lay down that policy and who are attempting to enforce it have at heart not only my welfare but also the welfare of those around me. I would realise that that is our motive, and that motive is important.
Of course, we have to look at the implications of the decision. However, some of the objections that have been raised are rather interesting. It seems to me that during part of Senator Cavanagh ‘s speech he was putting down an argument for a new and permanent Parliament House. If we have to wait for that building before we can be sure that people cannot come in with weapons to do damage to anybody they might encounter then we are talking about ‘pie in the sky’. I do not think we need to wait for that building.
We have had talk about fire escapes and exits. What we are complaining about is not that it is too hard to get out of this place but that it is too easy to get in. If there is a fire in this place and it occupies one of the stairwells I would not be particularly worried because one thing this building is not short of is stairwells and ground flood windows over the windowsill of which one can easily swing one’s leg. I do not think that is really an objection. There are always problems with fire. I agree that there is a particular problem with this place because it is an old building. But to say that the sort of security that has been proposed in itself represents a fire hazard is not fair.
I, like other honourable senators who on occasions leave this place late, previously used a side entrance of the Senate when the main entrance was locked. Last week I went to that side entrance only to discover that it was no longer possible for me to let myself out that door. I did not mind walking along a corridor and up a few steps to leave by the main door. I do not see that as an infringement of my liberty. I saw it as probably a fairly sensible security precaution and one which people believed they ought to take.
Of course, it is important that there be proper consultation. However, one of the things that troubles us in this debate is that there has been too much consultation and not enough action. Problems of security have been raised by members and senators over and over again. In my experience, when I have raised the sorts of incidents to which I referred earlier in my speech, people have thrown up their hands and said that that was terrible and it indicated that Parliament House was insecure. We have been looking at this matter for a long time but we cannot get agreement about what ought to be done. Objection has been raised over and over again. It appears that we do not have agreement again. But if we do not make a start then we have absolutely no basis on which to proceed.
Mr President, the proposals you put down seem to me to be quite reasonable and fair. In fact, they are only a starting point. I know of other, far more radical proposals which in themselves would not infringe anybody’s civil liberty but which would only limit physical access to certain areas of this building, but not total access to it. I think that approach has to be supported. We need to look at the proposals that are made here by Mr President. We need to look at what has already been done and to see whether it does pose a problem. I do not think the changing of the locking system on the side doors will in any way infringe anybody’s liberty. I do not believe that has added to the fire hazards in the building, unless there is some aspect which is not readily apparent. It is not my opinion that the areas served by those doors which have been locked and which one cannot get out of are critical in relation to getting out of the building. I would like to see members of the Government and of the Opposition approach this matter in a reasonable way. But approach it we must. We have that responsibility.
A couple of times I have referred to the fact that we have a responsibility to people who enter this place, who have reasonably free access to the visitors’ galleries, those who are in King’s Hall and those who have access, through us, to galleries on the floor of the Parliament. A couple of honourable senators opposite have seen fit to sneer at that suggestion.
However, I remind honourable senators of an incident which occurred here just last year when a group of people came into Senate gallery and threw pamphlets over the balcony of the Senate gallery. It is not a megalomaniac concern for themselves which worried honourable senators on that occasion. While those people were throwing pamphlets they could have easily been throwing hand grenades or something like that.
The fact is that that demonstrated just how wide open this place is.
I refer to a previous occasion in 1975 when there was a demonstration in King’s Hall. People came in with bulky objects which they then converted into banners in order to shout the then Prime Minister down when he was attempting to make a speech at a reception which was being held in King’s Hall. That was appalling. That demonstrated to anybody who could read- an assassin is as likely to be literate as illiterate- that people can walk into this place and do incredible things which fly in the face of all reasonable notions of security, apparently without any difficulties being placed in their way.
Mr President, I commend your report to the Senate. I commend the reasonable actions which have been taken. I suggest to the Senate that it ought to face the realities of the modern world and not with a knee jerk reaction say: ‘This will cause some inconvenience, even though it be temporary and we, as members of Parliament should not be put to that inconvenience ‘. We, as members of Parliament, have a responsibility to recognise that we will make decisions on this matter which will affect a large number of people and their daily safety and security.
- Mr President, when I was listening to your statement I was taken by the last sentence which you put into it and in which you asked for the co-operation of honourable members and honourable senators in the measures which were being introduced. I think, in general, you will be receiving that co-operation. One of the vital things we should do in the Senate is discuss your paper. I welcome the opportunity of being able to do so. I have some criticism on some aspects of the paper. I think my criticism is constructive and I shall mention that later on. Because I have this criticism I support the amendment which has been moved by Senator Button for the matter to be referred to the Privileges Committee. But I shall refer to those matters later in my remarks. Firstly I shall mention a specific matter for which I am not sure where the responsibility lies. Secondly, I shall mention some matters of general importance. Thirdly, I shall speak about those matters in which I think there is some area on which I can offer some constructive criticism.
The first matter I mention may sound to be rather petty, but for the people involved I do not think it is. Mr President, I am not sure whether the responsibility is yours or one of the Ministers here or in the other place. I was informed by some of the Commonwealth car drivers that they had been told- this was supposed to start this Monday, I believe, but if not this Monday then very shortly- that they would not be permitted to enter this building. We owe a great deal to our Commonwealth car drivers, I am sure. We know that they have periods when they are waiting for us or waiting on a shuttle service for anybody who needs a car. If they are not able to enter this building it means that they have to wait outside in their cars. Under certain climatic conditions which we have in Canberra that could be rather unpleasant. I do not know whether the rumours have any foundation, and certainly when I was last speaking to the Commonwealth car drivers they did not know either. They were not sure whether they would be able to enter this building. This matter of whether they are able to enter the building when they are waiting to provide transport for someone should be cleared up. If a decision has been made that they cannot enter the building, perhaps the matter could be looked into again.
I mention an aspect which has been mentioned previously in the debate. I shall mention certain other aspects raised by previous speakers as I go along and develop the theme of my own argument. But first I deal with the risk of fire which was mentioned. I must admit that when I first thought about the points I would raise in this debate I did not think of the possibility of fire in the building. When this possibility was mentioned this afternoon I realised that this was something we should look at in the context of securitysecurity of the building as a whole, I should imagine, security of the people who are in it and security of information stored here.
I was reminded of something I learned last year when I was in Ottawa. Apparently the Parliament House there has had two fires. The latest fire, which occurred not too long ago, damaged the building to such an extent that vast restoration of the building was required. In addition, it is important to note that lives were lost in one of those fires and that one of the persons who lost his life was in fact a member of Parliament. As a result I believe we should not blinker ourselves to the possibility that there is a fire risk in our Parliament House. Adequate fire precautions should be taken, and I am sure that they are being looked into. If we look at what has happened in other places we would know that the risk exists.
Mr President, I must admit that I am a little at variance with some of my colleagues who seem to think that there should be almost blanket opposition to the measures that were outlined in your statement. I do not think that should be the case. What we are looking at principally in your statement, Mr President, are measures that will protect the personnel of this building. I think it is understandable that some people are not interested in having some form of security arrangement. They are not particularly interested only in their own personal safety. That may be satisfactory to them, but members of Parliament should not think only of their own safety in this building; we also have to think of the safety of our colleagues. More importantly, I believe we should think of the safety of our staff as well.
I am not sure what members of Parliament will think when I say that we should think more of our staff than of ourselves. If anything happens to us it will happen because we have set out to offer ourselves for public service. We are in the public limelight, and we run certain risks when we enter the Parliament. As a previous speaker said, all of us probably at some time have had some threat made against us. When this matter was first raised Senator Georges pointed out that many of us have threats made against us but never say anything about them. Some people do. I think the majority of us never reveal these threats, except perhaps to report them to the relevant authorities. So I think that we, as members of Parliament, have to accept that there will be some risk, not necessarily inside this Parliament but perhaps outside this Parliament.
I believe the staff who work for us are in a different position. They did not deliberately set out to enter public life. They probably have gone close to it in that they have set out to obtain a position with someone who is in public life and who is in the public limelight at certain times. Those staff are doing a job for us as members of Parliament. For back benchers there is a risk of something happening to staff in Parliament House because back benchers do not have staff. However, I believe if something happened in my parliamentary office in Brisbane the person who would be in danger, firstly, would not be myself but my staff member. These are the sorts of things I believe we should look at and think about when we are debating your statement, Mr President.
I agree that there was probably some cause for us to be consulted firstly. I am not quite sure how you, Mr President, and Mr Speaker could have arranged to consult all members of Parliament. Perhaps this could have been done through some committee system. However, I think it would be very difficult to get all interested members of Parliament together at one time for the purpose of discussion and consultation. If that had happened I believe there would have been less confusion and less opposition to some of your proposals.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business at 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 22 February, on motion by Senator Button:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Young)- Does the Opposition agree to that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Then it is in order, and the Chair will allow that course to be followed.
-As I rise to deal with these two reports I recall the report of the Standing Orders Committee which has been debated recently in the Senate. While I have been a member of the Senate, on behalf of the Opposition, I have taken note of many papers without ever quite understanding why. As a result of what is on the Notice Paper for tonight, I at last begin to understand, and I congratulate the Standing Orders Committee on the suggestions it has made regarding the practice which has taken up much of the time of the Senate, and for no apparent purpose, since I came here. As I understand the report of the Standing Orders Committee, senators are enjoined to exercise great discretion as to the reports of which they ask the Senate to take note. I thoroughly agree with that view. In relation to a number of reports that are on the Notice Paper tonight, valour was somehow the better part of discretion insofar as I moved that the Senate take note of them. There is a great advantage in the procedure in that if one is to speak about a report it is, I suppose, encumbent upon one to have read it. For those honourable senators who have not read the reports, I suppose there is some advantage in at least one senator having read them and being able to speak about them.
The report of the Australian Institute of Criminology for 1977 and the report of the Criminology Research Council, as Senator Baume quite properly has suggested, in a sense are properly dealt with together. I will make some observations, firstly, about the Institute of Criminology annual report. I simply say that in the year in question the Institute clearly suffered from a lack of adequate funding. This restrained the Institute in the necessary crime prevention study and research upon which it otherwise might have embarked. According to the report, the Institute has been receiving about the same budget each year since the appointment of the first director in 1975. In real terms, this represents a substantial drop in finance available and consequently will hamper the growth and development of the Institute. The report reveals that financial restrictions have caused the cancellation or postponement of a number of nationwide activities in which the Institute otherwise might have been engaged. The Director, Mr W. Clifford, states in the report:
He then sets out what he considers some of those opportunities to be. The first is:
That refers to the Institute ‘s position. A section of the report deals specifically with international affiliations and research. The second opportunity the Director said the Institute is not able to take advantage of reads: to provide information to the Commonwealth and the States for a broader, co-ordinated approach to the problems arising from crime, especially in the area of crime prevention planning where expertise of world standing within the Institute is under-utilised because of lack of funds;
The third opportunity reads: to direct and co-ordinate education in criminology, especially in relation to the criminal justice services;
The fourth one reads: to take advantage of the interests in prisons and prison conditions arising from the Royal Commissions or inquiries in New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia;
I might add that there has been a great deal of press publicity about prison conditions. There has been much concern in my own State of Victoria about conditions at the major prison of Pentridge. Since the publication of this report further concern has been expressed and public discussion has taken place about conditions in prisons in New South Wales in particular. They are the four areas which the Director of the Institute of Criminology first mentions as being important opportunities which the Institute has been unable to take up because of a shortage of funds. Three others are mentioned. One of them reads: to contribute to change and improvement in the police forces of States, especially in view of the recent new appointments of police commissioners and of officers to the top echelons of police forces;
The Senate will be aware of the relatively new appointment of a police commissioner in Victoria, of a similar situation in New South Wales and of a slightly traumatic situation in South Australia which arose after this report was prepared. Other opportunities which the Institute has been denied read: to contribute to current reviews of court procedures; and to take advantage of the data now flowing to the Institute from its international associations.
The grants made to the Institute by the Australian Government in 1975-76 amounted to $932,000 and in the following year, 1976-77, in real terms the grants were reduced to $904,400. That is the magnitude of the reduction in real terms. Of course, it is much larger in terms of the capacity of the Institute to carry out much of the work with which it is properly concerned. In looking through the report and some of the projects with which the Institute has been concerned one can see a number of areas of research relating to matters such as police stress and things of that kind which are probably matters not of the utmost urgency in terms of the overall function of the Institute. They are important in terms of research and important, of course, in terms of police forces. But perhaps they are not as important as some of the other matters which are mentioned in the report.
I use this opportunity to express my concern about the habit of bodies such as the Institute and the Criminology Research Council, which have undoubtedly learned from government in Australia, to use acronyms to describe their programs. It is perhaps an unnecessary and slightly off-beat consideration to raise in the Senate but both the Institute and the Council have been singularly imaginative- one might almost say brilliant- in the choice of their acronyms, which is more than one can say about many government departments. For example, I instance two research projects which have been funded by these bodies and the acronyms used to describe them. The first is called the SOFTLY program. I inform the Senate that SOFTLY stands for Social Options for Teenagers Like You. Another program of the Institute is described as CINCH, which stands for Computerised Information from National Criminological Holdings. I do not want to digress from the subject matter of these reports except to say that I find it unfortunate that an institute and a council such as these, which are bodies of great distinction, should follow the example of government departments in using these acronyms, which are totally confusing to members of the public and in my view represent a total debasement of the English language.
If I might refer especially to the area of employment and industrial relations in this country, if any honourable senator has seriously tried to describe to a young unemployed youth what options are available to him in terms of assistance, the exercise is totally bizarre. One needs a special dictionary of acronyms in order to explain to a person in that situation what is really available to him. I apologise both to the Institute and the Council that my malign eye in relation to this subject matter lighted on their acronyms for particular mention, but I consider it most unfortunate that they have followed the bad habits of government departments in this regard. They provide, of course, singularly imaginative examples, and to that extent ought to be congratulated.
The decline of funding to the Institute and to the Council is a matter of great concern at a time when, in Australian society, the crime rate is generally increasing very rapidly. I can give the Senate briefly some statistics on the problem from my own State. In 1977, major crime in the State of Victoria increased by 1 1 per cent. That was especially exemplified by an increase in armed hold-ups, by an increase of 9.2 per cent in fraud, by a significant increase in drug abuse and, if I might say so, by a most marginal increase of 12 between 1975 and 1976 in the number of methylated spirit drinkers.
The publication of these reports was accompanied by comment in the newspapers including one by Mr White of IBM Australia Ltd relating to what is called computer crime, which he says is costing this country about $ 10m annually. I take computer crime to be interference with the workings of computers.
– Not the letting of contracts for computers.
– I take it to be the misuse of computers in a variety of ways and not, as Senator Wriedt has pointed out, anything which we have been debating in the Parliament in the last week or so, which as yet cannot be described as computer crime. There are a variety of aspects of the increase in the crime rate and Mr David
Biles, Assistant Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, has predicted that the Australian crime rate will increase to a record peak in the year 1979. Optimistically, and I hope correctly, he has anticipated that there should then be a decrease in the crime rate in Australia, but he expects that that decrease will be slow. He states further that the cost of crime in the next few years, indeed in the next decade, will be enormous. He suggests that Australia’s crime bill, including the cost of criminal courts, may be expected to rise to $ 1,200m this financial year, compared with $964m in 1975-76. So one really has to juxtapose those figures if one accepts the significance of criminological research, if one accepts the importance of the two bodies whose reports the Senate is considering, and the reduction in funds available to them. The reduction in funds is almost paralleled inversely by the rise in the cost of crime to this country. I am not suggesting that one follows from the other but the two things are happening together. In the context of these reports that must be regarded as unfortunate.
To a large degree the whole discipline of criminology is an after-care discipline. In many instances it is concerned with the results of poor social conditions which we as legislators have been less successful in solving than we might have been. Given that our success rate is not likely to improve, it is important that the utmost be done to see that the work of criminologists and these two bodies is funded and supported to the best possible extent. Mr David Biles to whom I referred a moment ago in relation to predictions about increases in crime rates and subsequent decreases has also stated that some of the factors which contribute to increasing crime rates are unemployment, inflation, the condition of the economy and so on. All these factors are directly within the province of government. They are factors about which we ought to be concerned. In particular, the Senate is becoming increasingly cognisant of the fact that there is a correlation between unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and crime. There is also a correlation between social disillusionment caused by youth employment, and potential crime. It is important that this fact be noted by the Senate in considering the two reports.
I mentioned the funding of the Institute. The Criminology Research Council had a reduction in grants between 1975-76 and 1976-77 from $125,000 to $16,300. The Australian Government makes a fairly small contribution but the
States also contribute. The Council is a cooperative effort on behalf of the Federal Government and the States governments in an area which requires the utmost co-operation and exchange of opinions, research information and other material between the various police forces and the law enforcement arms of the respective governments. I do not wish to say any more about the two reports except that their contents should be commended to the Senate. I hope I have successfully drawn to the Senate’s attention the situation regarding funds available to the Institute, the more important work of the Institute and the relationship- in some ways tenuous but in other ways very important to this societybetween the work of the Institute and the growing crime rate and significant degree of social disability in this country, which are not likely to improve in the immediate future. They are very important contributing factors to crime.
Most of us acknowledge that the unemployment problems of this country, particularly youth unemployment, are not likely to be solved quickly. We all acknowledge that in another important area of criminal activity, drug abuse, the situation in Australia has probably not yet peaked. We are not fully aware of the disastrous social ramifications of drug abuse, particularly amongst young people and the extra criminal consequences. In commenting on the reports I draw the attention of the Senate to those factors in particular. I commend to honourable senators the very important need to ensure that both these bodies, particularly the Institute, enjoy the continued interest and support of members of this chamber.
-The Senate is discussing the fifth annual reports of the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council. This is one of those happy occassions which are all too rare, Mr Deputy President, on which I can agree with almost all of what Senator Button has said. He has made a valuable contribution to the debate. It is good to see that reports such as this one can be discussed on a bi-partisan basis. I agree with what he had to say about SOFTLY which is mentioned in the report of the Institute of Criminology. One would have thought that a body such as the Institute would know better than to use terminology of that kind. One of the things of which I became very much aware when I came to Canberra and which probably worries all of us at times was the use of initials to describe reports and various departments. Probably the best illustration I can give is that of the letters CAE, which before I came here I knew in Victoria to be an abbreviation for the Council of Adult Education. Of course, here in Canberra it is short for the Colleges of Advanced Education. Occasionally we do find that initials represent more than one thing. As Senator Button mentioned, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations is probably the worst offender. Every new program which evolves from that Department- we all know that there has been a number of them recently- immediately receives a tag using the initial letters. I have great difficulty interpreting them.
I will deal firstly with the report of the Australian Institute of Criminology. Despite the cut in funding, the Institute was able to undertake much valuable research during the year under review. I will quote from the introduction on page 9 of the report. It states:
Consolidation rather than development has characterised the operations of the Institute for the year 1 976-77.
The report goes on to say:
In the circumstances, the Institute concentrated its interest and resources on subjects such as armed robbery and white collar crime, human rights, criminal investigation and the techniques of criminological research. In more specialised fields it conducted seminars for prison psychologists and criminology librarians.
So the list of areas in which research has taken place covers a reasonably wide field and a number of important areas. I would like in particular to say something about the work that has been done in relation to armed robbery. This is a crime which is occurring with increasing frequency in Victoria in particular, where bank hold-ups have now become a fact of life. I think the judges and magistrates who deal with the people who are ultimately brought to justice- of course, they do not all get caught- would agree that one can trace in a number of the cases which do come before the courts some connection between the drug scene and the people who are ultimately convicted. It usually involves heroin or some other hard drug and the robbery in many cases takes place because of the necessity for the individual concerned to obtain money with which to buy prohibited drugs on the black market. I suggest to the Institute that more detailed research could take place in that area. I think that trend is there, but so far as I know there are no statistics available to support the theory that there is a definite connection between the problem of drug abuse and the number of armed robberies that have taken place.
As Senator Button said, the scene in the crime world these days is changing. Because that scene is changing perhaps the need for research is more urgent than ever. In the white collar area there has been a great increase in the number of crimes. I suppose one might term them sophisticated crimes. They are dishonest, fraudulent acts which should be brought to retribution. The detection of these crimes does involve a particular class of detective. In the normal course, the general training for the police force is not geared to detection of this sort of crime. Again, I think this is a very useful and urgent field for research and investigation. This area might will be looked at by the Institute in the future.
The area of crime prevention, of course, is a very important area. We all know that prevention is better than cure. If research could be undertaken to prevent crime- to nip it in the bud, as it were- it would be very valuable. The subject of international relations also is mentioned in the report. When the former Attorney-General, the Hon. R. J. Ellicott opened a United Nations course at the Institute in November 1976, he said:
There was a time, when in the criminal justice system world, Australia was an outside country with only peripheral contact with the famous centres of study and learning in the criminal sciences. With the creation of the Australian Institute of Criminology this has radically, in a very short space of time, changed.
So we have a very useful and fruitful field of contact in the area of international relations where research can be conducted with a view to assisting not only in the detection of crime but also in the type of crime which is being committed at the present time. A number of major research projects have been carried out, and they are set out in the report. I will not detail them, but there are some seven in number. They are all very worth while and are an indication, I think, that despite a restricted budget much useful work has been carried out. I quote from page 13 of the report. Under the heading ‘Patterns and Trends of Crime ‘, it states:
The Institute continues to maintain a close interest in the establishment of uniform crime and criminal justice statistics for the whole of Australia and has continued to work closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to achieve this goal.
I think this is one of the problems highlighted by the investigations being carried out at the moment by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, of which I am a member. We have a current reference which concerns the best method of collating law reform matters throughout Australia. Because the six States and the Commonweath each have their own system of law reform it is a somewhat daunting prospect to get some uniformity of law. I think that a good example in the current scene is the Criminal Investigation Bill which was introduced into the other place during the life of the last Parliament. When one looks at the terms of the legislation and at the problems which are created by separate State legislatures one realises just how great the problem of establishing uniformity in the law is. I refer to the situation in Victoria, where there has been a royal commission, and to the situation in Queensland. Neither of those States has yet decided what legislation, if any, might be introduced by way of law reform in the criminal investigation field.
It is good to know that the Institute is looking at the sorts of problems which I have underlined in relation to obtaining uniformity, particularly in criminal law. The major research projects cover a wide field: The position of police unions and their impact on police administration; juvenile justice; and white collar crime, which I have mentioned already. Even the Institute’s 10 minor research projects cover a wide and useful field of investigation. Training projects are also carried out. Due to financial restrictions it was possible to conduct only 16 of the 28 training projects originally approved in this regard. They are also very valuable in improving the investigatory method of reform of the criminal law. The Institute ‘s activities cover such diverse aspects as a seminar of prison psychologists, the role of the police in juvenile delinquency and criminal justice research methodology. I commend this very valuable report of the Australian Institute of Criminology to the Senate. I wish to say a few brief words about the Criminology Research Council, which has funded a number of research projects. Senator Button and I have already mentioned the Social Options for Teenagers Like You program, but there are also projects concerning such things as police stress, school programs to reduce delinquent behaviour, a manpower analysis of police recruitment and retention, and avoiding delay in magistrates courts, which is a very real problem for the legal profession in my State of Victoria and, I understand, in other States.
No one has yet devised a method to avoid the situation in which a busy lawyer who has one case before a court has to wait three or four hours at court before his case is called on or finds that the police are not ready to proceed and so on. There can be all sorts of delays in those areas. It is good to see this sort of problem being tackled on a national basis. All in all, the Council has undertaken 14 projects. This debate affords us a brief opportunity to evaluate these two reports. As Senator Button has said, we do not have an opportunity to debate all the reports which come before the Senate. I think that we can say that in the area covered by these two reports very useful work has been done. I commend the reports to the Senate.
-Senator Tehan and Senator Button are in substantial agreement about the reports of the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council. I am not quite in agreement with either of them. My main criticism about their speeches is the moderation with which they dealt with the reports and the situation of the two organisations. I think there is a serious problem. I do not think that one is presented with a very happy situation when one examines not only the finances of these organisations but also the extent to which they can thereby carry out their functions. I think we are all in agreement that they are very important organisations; that they are playing and can play an enormously valuable role in the community.
Perhaps it would be worthwhile for me to say first of all what I think has not been said tonight, that is, that there is a difference between these organisations. At first sight it is confusing to people that there is the Australian Institute of Criminology and there is another organisation whose name sounds very like that of the Institute, namely, the Criminology Research Council. Their functions do overlap. We are debating simultaneously the reports of both organisations, which is appropriate. It is worth pointing out in the first place that the Australian Institute of Criminology has on its board of management four members appointed by the AttorneyGeneral and the other three members appointed by the Criminology Research Council. There is certainly a linkage between the two organisations. The Criminology Research Council consists almost entirely of State representatives. There is one representative of the Commonwealth Government and then representatives of each of the States. So it is a Federal body in that sense and therefore serves a different role. In the report of the Australian Institute of Criminology there is a useful paragraph which perhaps describes the way in which those organisations co-ordinate their two roles. Page 12 of the report states:
The type of research undertaken within the Institute continues to complement research projects funded by the Criminology Research Council. Institute research is generally of a national and comparative nature, whereas that funded by the Criminology Research Council is more often of an intensive nature and localised in particular regions. This distinction is not rigid, however, and research staff have been increasingly used to advise and assist persons receiving grants from the Criminology Research Council.
I emphasise that that Council is more concerned with the giving of grants and deciding who gets those grants. Those people then go away to do this intensive research. But the work of the two organisations is sensibly complementary. The matter which seems to me to be very serious is the constant situation of financial restrictions which appear through these reports. I shall refer to some parts of the reports to show what has had to be cut back and what cannot be done by reason of those cutbacks. The introduction to the report states:
Consolidation rather than development has characterised the operations of the Institute for the year 1976-77. With its budget tightened still further and staff further reduced there has been no alternative course for the Institute to follow. These limitations compelled the Institute to cancel or postpone a number of nation-wide initiatives.
I think that matter is serious and, as it was placed first in the report, we ought to emphasise it tonight. I do not really think that this cutback is wise. I suggest that we should look at the financial statement which appears in the report. I always hesitate to inflict myself on anyone as a guide when discussing financial statements because I regard myself as fundamentally unsound in the accountancy world. But as I read the statement of assets, in 1976 the Institute had assets of almost $88,000 whereas in 1977 that amount was reduced to almost $20,000. So what has happened in the reduction of work which has been forced upon the Institute is that it has also used nearly all its assets. Surely it must be clear that that situation cannot continue. There is not much further to go before the Institute is in the red as far as it assets are concerned. I do not know what the situation is today because of that.
Senator Button pointed out that the amount of Commonwealth grant has gone from $932,000 to $904,000. That means that the amount has been reduced not only in actual terms but also in real terms. No doubt costs have risen at least to the extent that the cost of living has risen throughout the country. So one has to face the fact that obviously the work cannot be performed to the degree which is satisfactory to those who are running the Institute. It means that people with experience and knowledge who are associated with these two bodies are obviously not being used to the fullest degree and in the most effective way if the Institute has to cut back in this way. This is seen in the report in a number of areas. For example, one sees this in relation to the training projects which are dealt with on page 17 of the report. We are told, as Senator Tehan has just mentioned, that it has been possible to conduct only 16 of the 28 training projects originally approved by the board of management for the 1976-77 financial year. That would appear to be very regrettable.
One looks in the report to the number of very valuable areas in which various authorities have been brought together by the Institute. Lectures have been given and papers prepared. Those of us who have had the opportunity of dealing with the Criminal Investigation Bill that was mentioned know that valuable work was done. The work done by the seminar and the ideas expressed have been valuable to the Government and to members of the law and government committee of the Government parties. That is just one example. When one realises that the Institute has not been able to perform something like 12 other projects one has reason for regret.
One more example of the difficulties experienced by the Institute is set out on page 27 of the report. The Institute stated:
Because of lack of funds, the growth rate of the Library’s collection decreased during the year. Increases in serial subscription charges forced the cancellation of 68 serial titles and prevented the subscription to new serials. Monograph purchase was also restricted, 275 being added to the collection, bringing its total to 3,639 volumes.
One would think that in such organisations the needs for the J. V. Barry Memorial Library is paramount. Because of the need for the Library to keep up to date and to take more, not fewer, subscriptions to the documents which come from around the world the lack of funds has created a very alarming situation for the Institute.
I believe that the consequence of the difficulties experienced by the Institute must be reflected in the amount of work that has been done. 1 take one example of this. The Institute’s report lists the various objects of the Institute. One is to provide information to the Commonwealth and the States on a broader co-ordinated basis. Obviously that cannot be sufficiently done. Another is: to contribute to change and improvement in the police forces of States, especially in view of the recent new appointments of police commissioners and of officers to the top echelons of police forces;
It seems to me, looking through the work that has been done, that there is perhaps a very considerable lack of development in what I might call ‘hot potato’ areas. The situation of police forces in Australia is to my mind a very worrying one. There are reports and inquiries, and some reports not even disclosed as yet, which indicate pretty alarming situations in which police forces do not get the recognition they should and very often do not attract the standard of persons that make it the type of force which is respected throughout the country. That has an effect, of course, on efficiency because if police forces attract, as I know they do in some areas, people who are very unsatisfactory, these people set a very poor example and therefore there is a lack of respect and a lack of effectiveness. I would have felt that the Institute, and probably the Criminology Research Council, ought to be doing much more work in dealing with very difficult and embarrassing areas that require investigation of the actual effectiveness and even the honesty, standards and so forth of the police forces around the country.
It is no good saying: ‘We in the Commonwealth do not have a very big police force; therefore we have to wait and see what the States do’. We know this often means that nothing is done; that things do not happen. The opportunity for the Australian Institute of Criminology to point out defects and put forward practical, constructive ideas is obviously not being fully exploited at present. I trust that I can put this down to a lack of finance as much as to any other reason.
– Does the Institute actually evaluate the objectives you mentioned? Are they evaluated by the Institute in its report?
– Does the honourable senator mean: Does it show the priorities of its objectives?
– Does it actually state the extent to which it achieves its objectives?
– No, the report does not do that in a real sense. The report divided the Institute ‘s work into various areas and tells what has been done in those areas. There is no statement as to whether it feels that it has succeeded in achieving particular objectives.
– The report does not contain the results of research.
-No, it does not. It describes the research that is being done and in some instances says very honestly that some of the results are inconclusive and further work needs to be done. It does not really go into great detail about the results of the research work. One can understand this. It would be a very lengthy report if it did.
When one looks briefly through parts of the report one realises a number of things. Reference is made to the fact that in Sydney in 1980 Australia will be the host nation to the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. Obviously this will be a matter of great importance to this country and it is very important that the Institute and the Council should be acting most effectively because obviously they will play a very active role in the organisation and running of that conference. Also, they will need, as the report says, ‘to prepare material to bring Australian programs and achievements in this field to the attention of Congress participants’. Obviously, there is a very urgent need for work to be done and for work to be speeded up before that conference takes place in Sydney.
International relations are referred to. The Institute has a very active program of relations with other countries and persons and with visits here and elsewhere. This is not only a matter of expenditure. In its report the Institute points out:
It is appropriate to invite attention to the economic aspects of these international contacts. The United Nations courses alone have channelled some $120,000 into Australia, not to mention the spending of participants while they were in the country.
There is almost an economic gain which the work of the Institute brings to this country. So, I think the Government should look at the Institute’s work in the light that it is not all a pay-out. It is not all a pay-out because what might be achieved in dealing with the massive problem of the crime rate and the work done in making more effective the criminal enforcement agents of this country have a very great economic bearing in the view of this Parliament and other parliaments. The work could save this country a lot of money and social crises which we have could be somewhat lessened.
When one looks through the report one notices that the two organisations, but particularly the Council, have been doing work on drug issues. I know that Senator Baume is very concerned about the drug problem and will be particularly interested in the report of the Criminal Research Council. Senator Baume ‘s committee, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, is inquiring into the evaluation of health and welfare services. In its report, the Council shows that last year it funded four evaluation projects in this general area. It also has some new projects. This area is of great importance and concern to this Parliament.
The Criminology Research Council has suffered a reduction in the number of research projects it has funded. It also suffered a very alarming loss in the amount of money contributed to it by the Commonwealth and State governments in the last financial year. In its statement of receipts and expenditures, among the receipts are Commonwealth and State grants. In the previous financial year these grants totalled $135,000. In the year covered by the report, 1976-77, such grants amounted to only $25,000. This is an alarming drop. Grants from the Australian Government dropped from $62,500 to $10,000. The New South Wales
Government, which had given $23,000, did not give any money in the year under review. I gather that the money from New South Wales was received too late, and even then it was only about $3,500. All States reduced very greatly their grants to the Council. The result, of course is seen in the report. The assets of the organisation dropped very severely and consequently it was not able to proceed with anything like the number of projects it wanted to undertake.
The Council, in its report, gives a description of many of the specific projects which were being carried out. The work on them is very valuable. I am sure that it would be the Council’s policy to greatly increase its work if it had the money. On page 1 5 of the report it makes this comment:
The total cost of crime and criminal justice services in Australia was estimated to be at least $ 1,000m last year. It has been predicted that in the next 15 years the figure of SI, 000m could quadruple. In the view of the Council, an annual contribution of $20,000 which was the amount provided for the year 1976-77 -
That is a grant- is inadequate to fund research to meet the challenge of the increasing cost of crime to the community.
I think its prediction of the increased cost of crime is very moderate. These are people who one would surely think would have reasonsthey are not alarmists- for indicating that we are likely to suffer a very great increase, on the basis of the trends that already are apparent. Surely the Government cannot continue to contribute poorly to the research work and co-ordination in this field which are essential if we are to meet the problem and beat it.
I welcome the report and welcome the opportunity to say something about it. I regret that I and many other members of the Senate have not taken sufficient interest in these organisations or the opportunity to go and see their work and to discuss these matters with the members of them. We need to recognise that these are two most valuable organisations and that we are not paying proper and due regard to their work. We created them some years ago. That was good; but we have now faltered in our funding of them. I hope that we will do better and I hope that these reports will lead to the realisation that this is an area that needs a very quick review.
– The Senate should be grateful to Senator Button for moving that the Senate take note of these reports and so allowing this debate to take place. We have heard from three members of the Senate who are also members of the legal profession. They have given considerable support to the work of the Australian Institute of Criminology and have indicated in this short debate the importance of the Institute and the need for increased funding.
I was particularly interested in what Senator Missen said about the need to impress upon the community that the police forces of Australia need to be of a high standard in the carrying out of their work, in particular of a high enough standard to be able to use the discretion which is so necessary in their day to day work. Until this debate I was not aware that there was such an organisation as the Institute of Criminology. I am sorry that I did not know. In future I will give added support to the Institute and seek to have its funds increased. If it is only in that area which Senator Missen mentioned that the Institute of Criminology operates, then its functions are very important indeed. Most citizens do not come into conflict with the police forces of Australia. Very few citizens would come into conflict with the police force in Queensland. But having come into contact with the police force in Queensland as I did recently, I realise how important it is that there should be an Institute with aims as they have been described by Senator Missen and other honourable senators. I realise how important it is that the work of that Institute should become part of the training of young police officers. They should appreciate what is said on just one page I have open before me in a volume called Crime and Justice in Australia edited by David Biles. The book is produced by the Australian Institute of Criminology in Canberra. It should be compulsory reading for every police officer in Queensland from the Commissioner of Police down because I do not think they properly understand their role. Perhaps it is through no fault of their own, but if they continue to ignore books of this sort, of course, the fault can be attributed to them. The book states on page 5 1 when dealing with adult offenders:
Arrest may be either with or without a warrant, depending on the laws pertaining to the particular circumstances. These three courses of action, and the decision to take official cognition of an offender’s behaviour in the first place, require the exercise by police of a great deal of discretion. It is by this exercise of discretion that police forces, and indeed criminal justice generally, are to a significant degree judged.
That statement could be repeated and underlined. It should be part of the daily equipment of every police officer in Australia. It was my unfortunate experience- I cannot say too much on this because the matter is still before the court- to come into conflict with the police. Tonight I appreciate the value of the Institute not only in the training of police officers and police forces throughout Australia but also in the examination of the way in which magistrates courts are run. I can perhaps think of a better word than that. I am referring to the procedures followed in the magistrates coutts. It came to me as a great surprise that a citizen just at the point of arrest seems to loose all his or her rights. It came to me as a surprise that a citizen at the point of arrest can be treated as someone less than human. It seems to me that this procedure ought to be investigated. Perhaps it has been investigated and commented upon by the Institute. It seems to me also that the treatment of all citizens arrested and kept in the holding places which are called by a variety of names- I think watchhouse might be correct- is questionable. It may be for a variety of reasons. It may be due to insufficient expenditure on the buildings themselves, insufficient staffing or insufficient staffing of the right type of people. It may be due to those reasons, but surely that is not an excuse.
I made some rather hot comments about this at the time until I was reminded that the treatment I received was the treatment Aboriginals received practically every night of the week at Redfern. It was a comment that made me pause because I did not wish to be treated differently from any other person. My argument is that the treatment of all citizens should be considerably better than the treatment that was received by me and some three or four hundred other people on that day. Let me go further than that. I believe that by, shall we say, comment and examination by organisations such as the ones that we are discussing tonight, the position can possibly be improved. I am told that within the prisons there are problems in this respect and that the program of the Institute is under constant discussion.
There appeared to me to be a strange procedure adopted in the magistrates court. It was puzzling for me to be there for the first time and see that the magistrates court was not in a sense a court of justice, a place of neutrality where the rights of the person arrested or charged were protected by the prosecutor. I would have thought that a magistrates court would seek to protect the offender. I may be quaint in my view but I would have thought that the offender’s rights need to be protected by the magistrates court. I left the magistrates court with the impression that it was an extension of the police department and that the offender appearing before that court ought not to be prosecuted by an officer of the police department. In all cases the offender is being charged by an officer of the police department. There seems to me to be an essential conflict here. It leads to some sort of arrangement, agreement or facility which exposes the court to some critical comment that there is too much agreement or pre-agreement between the magistrate and the police prosecutor to the convenience of the police department and to the disadvantage of the offender.
– Just ask the police; they do not agree with you.
-Perhaps the police do not agree with me but I like to know what the Institute thinks about this. I am still of the quaint opinion, in spite of my experience- might I say it is a continuing experience- that the prosecutor is present in the court to protect the offender and to bring forward any material which came to his notice which might be in support of and could be used in the defence of the offender, that as a prosecutor -
– It is quite the opposite.
-Not so much the opposite; he is a prosecutor.
– He has to condemn you. That is his job.
– I would have thought that the position would be different. It seems to me that the person who prosecutes in a magistrates court should be a member of the crown solicitor’s office and that a person appointed to be a prosecutor by that office would carry out his duties in the highest ethical way.
– His duty is to get a conviction.
– If he is a prosecutor, it is.
– I do not accept that the duty of the crown prosecutor is to obtain a conviction at all costs or to present only that evidence which will obtain a conviction. I believe that he has a duty to bring forward that evidence which may in some way inhibit his own case and perhaps inhibit the possibilities of a conviction. Am I wrong in saying that this is so? Possibly only those who are a part of the profession could properly answer me, but it seems to me that there is a conflict of interest when the police prosecutor is proceeding against an offender who is charged by a person who belongs to his own department, and to the same association, the Police Association. Surely somewhere some investigation should be made of it. It may even be dealt with in this book, which I have not read as yet. The book may contain just a germ of an idea.
– Is not the person laying the charge a private citizen, even though he is a policeman? The fact is that it is still a private person laying a complaint.
– Yes, but in a case in a magistrates court it appears to me that he also belongs to the same organisation and department as the prosecutor. That is what I am arguing about, from my short experience in the magistrates court, it seems that the magistrate is meeting the convenience of the prosecutor. In one or two cases that I have in mind he should have dismissed charges rather than deferred them until the police were able to gather the information that they did not have at that time. Wrong people were brought into the court and were charged. Other people were charged with the wrong offence. There are one or two other examples that I might cite, but perhaps I ought not to be going into them at this stage. There were instances where it appeared to me that the prosecutor and the magistrate should have moved for the dismissal of the charge rather than proceeded with it. I believe the element of justice simply vanishes when the convenience of the prosecutor is put before the convenience of the alleged offender. If we are to have an enlightened system of justice in this country- I believe that the work of this Institute may be leading to that objective- we must do all those things which ensure that the offender’s rights are in no way jeopardised, even if that may result in a guilty person escaping justice
– Where was the person who was defending you?
– I have not got to that point as yet. I appeared on both occasions. I can say that for myself. I cannot say it for several other people in Queensland who fill a more important position than my own and who pass laws which, in retrospect, allow them to escape an appearance in court. I believe that the courts of the land do at all levels- whether it is the magistrates court or the High Court- share an equal place with this assembly and must be treated with the fullest respect. However that respect must be reciprocated, especially in the magistrates court. In my view, it is not. The problem arises because that court seems to have become an extension of the police department, which surely it was not intended to be.
Let me conclude on that note before I get into further discussion with Senator Walters that will lead to the President perhaps reminding us of the need to maintain an orderly debate. I have listened with care to what has been said. It has led me to support the work of the Institute, which I believe is important for the enlightenment of both those who receive the law and those who apply it. I believe that the budget it is receiving at the present time is far too low. I would prefer to see $10,000 spent on one item and $10,000 spent on another.
– In making a very brief contribution to the debate, I do so with some trepidation, especially after listening to the three legal people on the other side of the chamber. I was encouraged to do so by the fact that my nonlegal colleague, Senator Georges, was prepared to enter the debate. I make it clear that I have no desire to emulate him in his experiences with the law, preferring to remain, as it were, an outside observer. I shall keep away from Queensland and keep my nose clean, so to speak. My first contact with the Australian Institute of Criminology took place some years ago when I attended one of the seminars conducted by that organisation on the broad area of crime prevention. I cannot remember its exact title, but I was invited to attend it. I was surprised that I was the only educator, if one may use that word, who was involved in it. The fact that I am an educator prompted me to rise tonight perhaps to bring one little additional facet into the debate.
The seminar was composed basically of learned judges, magistrates and special magistrates from all over Australia, police commissioners and senior departmental officers. As I say, I was the only educator there. I was present because I believe that education has a role in this whole field of crime prevention. A number of influences operate on the young person as he moves through his childhood into maturity. The home no doubt has the greatest influence. It is there that the child gets his original foundation. The Jesuits suggest that the years of a child’s life from nought to six set a certain pattern for the rest of his life. Most educators suggest that there are times during the life of a child when he is more susceptible to suggestion than at others. My own feeling is that the home has the greatest influence, if it has something to contribute to the child. I do not want to go into that factor, it might come up in later comments.
The church, I believe, has a lessening influence on young people. I believe that is a great pity but is a factor which the churches are recognising and which those who are dealing with young people have to recognise. It has not the same influence it once had. Unfortunately the clubs that are set up to deal with young people, to help them avoid crime, are I fear a little Victorian in their approach- in suggesting that the devil will find work for idle hands; that if one gets young kids into a club they are not likely to get into trouble. This is a commendable thought and I certainly do not want to denigrate clubs. I have spent a lot of time working for them myself, but one has to admit that quite often the young people who attend such organisations are those who perhaps have influences elsewhere and perhaps would not ‘need ‘ what the club has to offer.
So I come to the school, which I believe has a great influence on young people. If we take school as starting with pre-school and going through into primary, secondary and the later stages of college and university, we have a definition of school as I discuss it tonight. If education is anything, it is attitude change. Perhaps to use the word ‘change’ goes back to the old original sin concept that the child comes in with problems which need to be corrected. I am not suggesting that this is so. Perhaps we ought to say ‘attitude development’ rather than ‘attitude change’. Nevertheless educators do tend to stick to this concept of attitude change; that the child has come in and if there has been no change there has been no education. Notice that here we are avoiding reference to facts to be acquired, knowledge to be stored and so on. We are speaking of the major role of the school as achieving this attitude development or change.
– Or behaviour modification.
-Behaviour modification is normally a science of its own, as the honourable senator knows, and is not normally applied within the schools. It is specialised and seen as remedial, but it could express the same idea.
When I first went to the seminar, my impression was that the criminal, to use that word, was being treated- as I expressed it to one or two of the participants at the seminar- rather like a choir boy who had been caught smoking. It seemed to me that there was a new approach coming through from the Institute, which suggested that criminals were not really bad sorts of people; that there was no great problem. I have oversimplified the position, of course. But nevertheless it did appear to me at that early stage that we were looking at the case of the choir boy who had been caught smoking, or doing something of a very minor nature.
– That is not the case with Senator Georges.
-I do not think he can sing. From my average background my opinion was that if one fell foul of the law there was a certain punishment. I listened to the comments made at the seminar- I make this point because it was one of the Institute’s seminars- and came away with quite a different attitude. I listened to the comments about the farms that have been developed. Although they were not new to me- I had seen them before- I heard a lot more about them. I heard about the weekend detention concept of letting people work during the week and simply give up their free time. I heard about rehabilitation programs and all those things which constitute the new approach. Naturally, I came away with a change in my attitude towards the sorts of things that ought to be happening to those people who have fallen foul of the law.
I have raised this matter only to indicate that it seems to me to be a great pity that the Government has seen fit to make cuts in the allocations to these two excellent organisations. I agree that money is not everything and there are other ways of doing things, but money is important if we are to carry on these sorts of training and research programs. There is a great need for investigation at present. This goes beyond simply the techniques that the police might use. I am talking about a much broader picture of things which the Council and the Institute could be considering. We need research into the psychology of those who commit crime. Some research is done but a lot more work is needed to be done in this field. We need sociological studies into why people adopt this style of life. We need studies into the effectiveness of the techniques of punishment, detention or whatever word one wants to use. We certainly need a lot more research into rehabilitation techniques.
Perhaps the greatest amount of work that needs to be done is in the derivation or compilation of programs which will guide those who deal with the young. This is necessary firstly for parents. I do not mean parents in a broad sense, I mean those parents who have a child who falls into the general category of ‘juvenile delinquent’ or a child who has fallen foul of the law, to continue to use that phrase. We need to help teachers to get programs going in schools for attitude development or behaviour modification, which is something to which Senator Baume referred. They need some assistance in identifying at an early stage those people who have a propensity towards crime. I am not suggesting that we go back to the old concepts of stigmata. But we need teachers who can see when children are moving away from the norm.
I shall not detain the Senate for long but I should like to refer to some experiences I had as a teacher many years ago when I had to deal with juvenile delinquents. I had a class composed almost entirely of young folk who had spent some time in homes or on probation. I looked at these people to try to find out something about them and what was common to each one of them. It was incredible that they did not seem to have anything in common except that they had been in front of a magistrate and many of them had long records. They came from a wide range on the social spectrum. They came from all points on the continuum. They did not appear to have any identity in that way. Many of them were insecure but that was not a feature peculiar to them. Many children who were not in trouble were also insecure. Many of them needed love. Again, this was common to many young people who did not get love at home. Many were inactive at home. They went home of an afternoon and there was nothing for them to do until the next morning. Many of them had broken homes. Again, many of the children who were succeeding in school had the same problem.
There appeared to be among some of them a certain need for excitement. They needed to go out and establish themselves by engaging in exciting activities. Some of them needed money, but not all of them. Many of them had plenty of money and did not need to go out and steal to get money. Some gained satisfaction from organising things. I remember one instance of a 1 3-year- old girl who had a face like an angel and who was organising a prostitute ring of 45 people. These people ranged from girls of her own age to women aged 20 years and 30 years. She obviously got some satisfaction out of manipulating this empire. We need research to find out what it is that is common to young people in this situation so that we can help the people working with them to do something about rehabilitation.
Before concluding my remarks I wish to mention my particular interest in Aborigines. I suggest to the Institute and the Council that this is a great field in which people can work. A lot has been done in the areas of alcohol abuse and petrol sniffing. Much more needs to be done. People have examined the number of people who drink and the amount they drink. There has been very little research into what makes people drink. There has been very little research into what makes people, particularly young men- I am speaking here of men aged 12 years and onwards in the Aboriginal sense- sniff petrol or whatever else they can get on the settlements. There is a field for research into the lack of respect for traditions in young Aboriginal people. There is a lack of respect for the law among a number of Aboriginal people. We must find out why young people see crime and the act of going to gaol as being some mark of manhood. They are proud of the fact that they have been arrested and put in gaol a number of times.
I am not speaking generally. These are problems that face those of us in the Northern Territory. I know that many honourable senators opposite have also seen them. We need research into the problem of those young people, usually of mixed blood, who are in limbo between two organisations. Many full-blood Aboriginals are in the same situation of being between two cultures. If this is to result in some sort of crime- in some cases it does- this field ought to be looked into by the Institute and the Council. It is a great pity that because funds have been cut many of the projects those organisations want to undertake cannot be undertaken. Many more projects which perhaps they have not even looked at also need to be undertaken. In this case the Institute of Criminology could be working with the Institute of Aboriginal Studies to look into those areas. I commend the Institute and the Council on their reports and on the work which they are doing. Once again I reiterate what my colleagues on both sides of the chamber have said, that is, it is a great pity to see that the funds for these groups have been cut.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 22 February 1978 on motion by Senator Button:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 February 1978 on motion by Senator Button:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
-I shall be very brief in dealing with the contents of the 1976-77 report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. One of my notes says that it is important to relate what this body is doing to the world at large. I intended to make that comment about the report of the Australian National University, but it might equally well be made about the work of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. This report has some historical significance if nothing else. It is the last major report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. For many years this body played a role and made a contribution- we believe quite properly- to an area of industry in this country which has been fraught with difficulties and industrial problems. It has had a bitter and tragic history at times. I was reminded of that history during the weekend when I was reading a biography of Sir Richard Kirby, a former President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It dealt at some length with his involvement in the problems of the stevedoring industry dating back to the 1 940s.
– He played a good role in Indonesian pacification, too.
– I am reminded of that by Senator Mulvihill. Because this is the last report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, the Parliament should pay a tribute to its work. After much delay we recently embarked on new legislation in relation to the industry. In some respects- I think I indicated this view at the time- it is very much a step into the dark as well as being a step into the future. The essence of the new stevedoring industry legislation is that arrangements on the waterfront will be, by and large, conducted by negotiation and, one hopes, agreement between the principal parties on the waterfront. It is interesting to see what this report reveals about the principal parties on the waterfront in the last year covered by the report. Referring to waterside workers on the Australian waterfront the report states:
The average weekly earnings of all categories of waterside workers increased, as did the average hours worked per week by all except those employed at non-permanent ports under normal award provisions. The men employed under normal award provisions averaged, at permanent ports, $22 1 . 69 per week for 24.7 hours worked, as compared with $189.59 for 23.3 hours in 1975-76. At non-permanent ports, they averaged $155.99 per week for 14.2 hours as compared with $ 145.40 for 1 5.7 hours in the previous year.
It goes on to say that cargoes handled increased slightly in the relevant period and it indicates something of the nature of those cargoes and particularly the additional handling of container and roll-on roll-off vessel cargoes during the year. In relation to the employers in this industry the report states:
The Prices Justification Tribunal conducted two inquiries into stevedoring charges. It found that- proposed increases by James Patrick and Co. Pty Ltd and Patrick Operations Pty Ltd in wharf handling and shippers’ charges at a number of ports were not justified; the existing prices charged by those Companies for wharf handling and shippers’ charges at Sydney and Melbourne and for mechanical equipment hire at Sydney were not justified and should be reduced; and the rates charged by Seatainer Terminals Ltd for handling containers at terminals were not justified and should be reduced.
These were the first instances in the history of the Tribunal in which it found that existing prices should be reduced.
Mr President, I have quoted those two extracts from the report because in their own way they describe something about the labour situation and the employer situation on the waterfront. That is why I suggested earlier that the disbandment of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, however much it is desired by the parties on the waterfront, under the legislation passed by this Parliament is in many respects an act of faith which is not always the most desirable basis for legislation. But the Parliament has passed that legislation, and it passed it before this report was available to it. The report records the type of information which I have mentioned in relation to both labour and employers on the waterfront.
This report is a mine of statistical information on the industry. I am assured that complementary legislation to the Stevedoring Industry Act of 1978 provides that that material will be recorded as port statistics and will be made available to the Parliament each year. I think it is important that that material should be available, particularly in view of the contents of the main stevedoring industry legislation which the Parliament passed. The statistics contained in this report are important for students of both labour conditions and efficiency of the stevedoring industry in this country. To that extent they are well worthwhile and should be retained and made available to both the Parliament and students of this subject. I have nothing more to add to my comments on this report. As I have said, in a sense it is an historic document as it is the last main report of the Authority. For that reason it has been worthy of the brief consideration it has received in this Senate.
– My contribution to the debate will not be lengthy. When I read this report I think of Dickens; it tells of the best of times and the worst of times. It has a certain nostalgic air about it. I know many of the officers connected with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. I think the first thing I should do tonight is pay tribute to the Senior Assistant Director of the Authority, Mr Bellew. I have spoken with him on a number of occasions about recruitment in the stevedoring industry. I know of one case of a chap who was born overseas. When recruitment on the waterfront was taking place there was some delay in his birth certificate being accepted. Initially there was a miscarriage of justice. I pay tribute to Mr Bellew for arranging for the matter to be reviewed. Justice was done. I know that that member of the Waterside Workers Federation is now an extremely competent overhead crane driver. He would probably have been culled out in the first instance but for the intervention of Mr Bellew.
I notice that the report refers to lost opportunities. When we get on to this vexed question of redundancy the implication is that if we had done certain things in 1967 we may not have had some of the problems that Senator Wright and others are inclined to unduly distort. We are faced with the real problem of redundancy today, with the mechanisation of the industry. It is very difficult to gauge months and years ahead what the work force will be. We hear some of the critics of idle time, but the fact is that if we prune the work force and a certain boom period follows as far as exports are concerned, complaints will then be made about penalty rates. I know that in the State transport system which I know better that the maritime industries, it has always been accepted, in either the railway service or the bus service, that a reserve force must be maintained. Even if we reduce the work force on the waterfront by introducing more sophisticated lifting appliances that we have in this era of containerisation, if we want skilled operatives we have to pay for them.
Admittedly, the WWF has outstanding leaders like Charlie Fitzgibbon, Norm Docker and Tas Bull. They are men who are extremely effective in their judgment of a situation. I speak in glowing terms about Mr Bull because he was one of the first trade unionists who was aware of the fact that even with more efficient lifting appliances there is still a need for incessant vigilance. I have said on a number of occasions that there have been some mishaps in the port in Sydney which have been attributed to one rather modern West German freighter and to the efforts that were probably made to overload the ship’s equipment. I do not know what the final outcome of that mishap was. This report raises some doubts about whether the new system will be any better in an industrial sense than the present one.
Honourable senators would know that in last year’s Conciliation and Arbitration Commission report Sir John Moore mentioned some of the problems which have occurred and which could recur with the sort of collective bargaining that goes on between the stevedoring industries and the WWF. There do not seem to be any clear cut guidelines when there is a collision between a union which comes under a Federal award and one which comes under a State award. In relation to the port in Sydney, the Transport Workers Union has State registration. Looking ahead, I know that we might ultimately get certain adjustments to a schism that has been there a long while. At the moment it is not impossible, with certain developments in containerisation. There are areas in which the Storemen and Packers Union and the Transport Workers Union conflict with the WWF over coverage. I know of a number of situations where high trade union statesmanship has overcome the conflict. If the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) were present he would know that I have repeatedly raised this matter. The President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has suggested that the law should be amended so that if necessary there can be an integration of parties, some of which comes under a Federal award and some of which come under a State award. Whatever doubts the retiring authority may have and whatever optimism the unions, the employers and even the Minister may have, a gap exists and I just do not know how the Government will handle it. It may be that collective bargaining will be successful. There are times when mediators are needed. I am aware that we have certainly moved away from the hungry mile concept.
I draw the attention of the Senate to Mr Harry Bridges, who is well known. If Senator Walters has read the report, I am sure she will realise that Harry Bridges was regarded as more than a pinko’ in his early days. It has been suggested to the Australian maritime unions that he is the paragon of industrial mediation. The fact is that we have ups and downs, minuses and pluses in industrial disputes. The disputes that often occur on the Atlantic coast of the United States are of longer duration than our disputes. It always amazes me that some people on occasions may criticise the Waterside Workers Federation but when they get around a table they make certain agreements. A Tasmanian senator- I am not referring to Senator Walters- still believes that there may be something sinister about such an agreement. This is an area in which we should hasten slowly. It may be that common sense will prevail and that this new structure will operate very well.
On the other hand, it is obvious that in a tight employment situation there is justifiable militancy by unions to protect jobs. As a matter of fact- I think Senator Bishop will concur with me- the trade unions adopt a much more intransigent attitude when they feel that something is being taken off them than when they are aiming at something higher. If they are aiming at something higher an across the board offer is generally made. It might only be 40 per cent of what they are seeking but their members may indicate that they will accept the offer, regroup and work towards winning the rest. But when it comes to changing job methods and when people do not know who is going to be put out into an industrial Siberia, it is a horse of another colour. I think one Liberal senator on an earlier occasion raised the matter of golden handshakes being given to those who were retrenched. The fact of the matter, if one examines it carefully, is that some people who accepted redundancy in their fifties may have a life expectancy of 70 or more. The golden handshake is not a lot of money to them. We have to be realistic about it.
– Thirty thousand dollars?
-Do not forget, Senator Walters, that in the past you have spoken about the industrial dangers of slipping in a ward of a hospital. I can assure the honourable senator that industrial hazards exist in any port in Australia whether one is working on the night shift or climbing 50 feet up a ladder into the cabin of a crane. Let us be fair about it. I notice Senator Baume is smiling at my comments but I remind him of the number of waterside workers who have splayed toes or mangled fingers. They are the sorts of injuries which people who live all their working lives in air-conditioned offices do not have to face. We have to be fair about this. The waterfront industry is not the only industry in which people may feel they have made their contribution to the Australian work force. But if they feel that way they are entitled to be given some incentive to get out of the industry.
This industry has a high degree of industrial hazards and they are still not solved. An ambulance service and first aid officers are still required in the industry. I will draw an anology with the maritime industry. It is argued that there may not be so many tankers today but each one is bigger and, therefore, there could be bigger oil spillages. That argument could be applied to our major ports and one could say that the bigger a cargo container the bigger the tonnage and, if a mishap were to occur, then perhaps many more people would be squashed than if a few bags of potatoes fell on them. These are the industrial problems which the Government has to face.
If the Minister replies to this debate at a later stage I ask him to answer one criticism. When this parliamentary session began I asked that the personnel of the new advisory body be made available to me. I believe that other than the representative of the Waterside Workers Federation they all have a stevedoring company background. When we deal with matters concerning the waterfront, do we consult with the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australia, the Transport Workers Union of
Australia or the Federated Clerks Union of Australia? I am not trying to cause any discord. It could be said that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has a role to play. That is true but at the same time, I believe- I think one or two of my colleagues believe this also- that the State has a role to play. I have always believed that in any political system the State on occasions must take action, even if it is indirectly, and appoint a mediator. I hope that the reservations expressed by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority do not become reality. On the other hand, I feel that the Government has to gird its loins and fill in the gaps. I think that as Sir John Moore of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has put his finger on a weakness the Government should respond and indicate what it is going to do when it is faced with industrial disputes in which some people are covered by a State award and others are covered by a Federal award.
– Before I move that the debate be adjourned I should like to indicate that it had been the Government’s hope to proceed to a vote on each of these motions that the Senate take note of the reports. But a very eminent member of the Senate who is interested in the Stevedoring Industry Authority is not present tonight. This is his last Parliament and it is our wish that he should have an opportunity to speak on these motions. It is for that reason that I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 23 February, on motion by Senator Button:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
-I speak to this report for the same reason as I spoke briefly earlier on two other reports. I would like to make a couple of comments about the nature and importance of the report. Before doing so, I should say that it must be a source of regret that the Parliament so recently received a report of the Australian National University for 1976. I understand that there were serious difficulties in getting this report printed, and that, of course, is a matter of concern and a matter of explanation as to why the tabling of the report in this Parliament was delayed. We must be concerned with the consequences, not with the reasons. It is undesirable that the report should be delayed because a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since this report was compiled.
I should like to refer to two aspects of the report which seem to me to be important. It commences by setting out the functions of the Australian National University as they were determined in 1 946 when the first Australian National University Act was passed by this Parliament. The objects of the University were described in 1 946 when the University was established under the Post- War Reconstruction Act. The report states that the functions of the University were:
It is the first of those objectives of the Australian National University which singles it out from other universities in Australia. The Australian National University has a particular function, that is, to encourage research and study in relation to subjects of national importance to Australia. I think it is important that we remember that fact when considering this report. There is a nice paragraph in the Vice Chancellor’s report which constitutes the first chapter of this report, which describes in a very brief way the present situation of the ANU and its situation in this capital city of Australia. I should say that the Vice Chancellor’s report is an extraordinarily interesting and extraordinarily descriptive section of the report, which gives a very impressionistic view of how the University functions. In describing the present situation the Vice Chancellor said:
Depending on how one counts the much welcome parttimers, there were in 1976 about 6000 students- and upwards of 3500 staff, academic and general. All up, this is 5 per cent of Canberra’s total population. After the Commonwealth Public Service, they comprise the second largest working complex in the capital city.
That is an important and interesting statement when one considers the situation, role and function of the Australian National University, particularly the function of conducting research in relation to matters of national importance to Australia, to which I referred earlier. Apart from describing the present situation of the University, the functions of the various research schools and the functions of the various faculties, the report draws attention to the financial situation of the University and states that it is a difficult one. It points out that real operating costs by 1979 will be reduced to 3 per cent below those in 1975. The report records on page 9:
The repercusssions are manifold. Plans for an undergraduate medical school at this University have been shelved; whether indefinitely remains to be seen. A planned $12 million building program has had to be replaced by a $200,000 minor works program. The time when the University’s seven research schools can expect to reach their long agreed ceilings on academic staff numbers has been indefinitely postponed. Many other carefully considered objectives have had to be shelved as well.
That is the situation which pertains in the ANU, as well as in other universities. In some degree it must be regarded as a matter of concern. This report marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Australian National University, which commenced operations in 1946. During its 30 years some distinguished people, such as Prof. R. D. Wright of the Melbourne University, a brother of our colleague in the Senate, served on the Council of that University for 30 years from 1946 to 1976.
– He was a rather radical man, was he not?
-I would say that both the Wright brothers in their own way are radical men.
– Both have made a very distinguished contribution to the forums in which they have performed.
-Thank you, Senator Rae. The point I am making is that in the 30 years in which the University has existed over a very long period services have been rendered to it by a number of distinguished Australians; people such as Sir John Crawford and others come to mind. A number of others have given a great length of service to the University.
If one reads the report of the Australian National University one sees that in a sense in its own unique way the University provides a sort of microcosm of the problems and anxieties of universities throughout Australia. When I say problems and anxieties’ I mean problems which relate to the definition of the role of universities in Australian society. Are they basically institutions of higher learning and research; are they institutions on the traditional model of the great English universities; or are they institutions whose prime function is to turn out vocationally orientated graduates? I think that in a sense all universities in Australia face this dilemma at this point in time. It is reflected in the Australian National University as well as in others.
It is often difficult for the Australian community, which supports universities like the ANU- a university of which I believe all Australians are rightly proud- to understand and appreciate the sort of work which is being done in universities of this kind. The research projects of the Australian National University are set out in the back of the report. It is very difficult for the ordinary Australian to see the relevance and significance of many of those research projects. One might be tempted to say that, because the ordinary Australian cannot see the relevance and significance of many of those research projects, there is something wrong with the University. That might be a conclusion which one could draw. One might say that the public relations people of a university which fails to relate to the community on the sort of work it is doing are not all that they might be.
I believe that in this Parliament we have reached a stage where, in the next few years, we will have to start to question the article of faith of all Western societies, including the Australian society, that the medical and scientific research that is being done necessarily constitutes progress towards some extra enlightenment- some continual progress towards the elevation of mankind -and that all we as citizens in a community have to do is to have faith in the progress of science, which will go on and on, and to believe that that faith justifies expenditure on all sorts of projects about which ordinary people might justifiably be very concerned and critical. We have never yet come to the stage in this Parliament where we have faced up to these sorts of problems. But I believe that in the next few decades we as a Parliament will have to try to make value judgments and try to establish bodies which will assist this Parliament to make value judgments about the direction in which scientific research is going.
I speak for myself, but I suspect that I might be speaking for others, when I say that we can no longer opt out of the whole situation as an article of faith and say that we are satisfied that we as a community are spending money on scientific research which is necessarily conducive to the well being of the people in this society. That is an enormous problem for a Parliament to have to face up to- an enormous problem for the whole of Western societies to face up to- but I suspect that we are coming to the end of the period in the history of mankind when we can be totally satisfied about claims that scientific discovery and research will lead, as I put it, towards the greater enlightenment and wellbeing of mankind. There are plenty of examples of the sorts of extraordinary and undesirable consequences of scientific research which societies have been persuaded are necessary for human advancement and which have shown in time not to be so at all.
I use the debate on the report of the Australian National University, which in many ways is perhaps the greatest research institute in this country of a university kind which is supported by appropriations from this Parliament to raise that issue because I think it is important that it is raised on the agenda of politics in this country. We cannot any longer commit ourselves to unquestioning acceptance of economic growth and the desirability of economic growth, or unquestioning acceptance of the benefits of scientific research and discovery.
I commend to honourable senators the report of the Australian National University. It would be easy to go through it and make quibbling points about various research projects, various items of expenditure and that son of thing. I believe it is important that, to some degree, universities have a greater amount of autonomy in regard to those matters than other institutions and departments which are supported by the Parliament. I do not believe it is appropriate to make this quibbling criticism.
One other matter I raise and which I know has concerned the Australian National University and its Council is the passage through the Parliament of the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) legislation. Honourable senators will recall that when that legislation was gagged through the Parliament there was a lot of criticism of it from the Opposition. We felt that the ramifications of that legislation were not fully realised. Honourable senators may recall that it was pointed out that the legislation could have bizarre consequences in a number of situations; and from that point of view it was a most undesirable piece of industrial legislation, poorly thought out and presented in haste and anger rather than in quiet deliberation.
One of the ramifications of that legislation which has been a source of concern to the Council of the Australian National University is its implication on academic freedom and the freedom of academics in the community to pursue both their chosen vocation and their right to express views about a great variety of controversial issues with which the community is confronted. That is a matter about which Senator Rae may have some wisdom. He is gesticulating at me; I do not know whether it is for me to be quiet, to sit down or to abandon my course of action. Whatever he means, I want to finish my point. I offer that comment in no criticism of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) whom I know is giving consideration to this matter. I offer criticism of the Government, as I did at the time, because I think the legislation is bad legislation which should never have passed the Parliament in the form it did and certainly should not have passed the Parliament in the way it did. As far as the problems of the Minister are concerned, I am not offering that comment in any spirit of criticism at all. 1 commend the report to the attention of the Senate-
-Senator Button has drawn our attention to what I believe is an important matter to which the Senate should give some passing thought, and that is the report of the Australian National University. In starting to speak to the report, let me refer to what I thought was an unfortunate part of an otherwise excellent speech. Senator Button spoke about something upon which he has been misinformed. He talked about the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provision) Bill as if the Council of the University had asserted a view which he espoused. In fact, it did not. As recently as last Friday it did not, notwithstanding the efforts of one or two people- a minority. The legislation does not have general application to the University which does not wish to enter into the politics into which the Opposition may wish to enter. I do not propose to discuss the matter further than that. The University Council was careful not to create a situation such as that which Senator Button, I fear, in an otherwise very good speech attempted to introduce.
I go back to other matters about which Senator Button talked. He quoted from the ViceChancellor’s report and talked about the problems of universities in the current financial situation. I think it would be appropriate to say that universities in Australia have accepted that we are existing in a situation of some financial stringency in relation to expenditure. There is an overwhelming and clear attitude among people that they wish inflation to be curtailed. The University has set to with a will to endeavour to retain its very high standards, while accepting what it regards as regrettable but as something over which, nevertheless, it has no control- that is, the expansion rates which might have existed previously cannot continue. I think it has managed to adjust itself to a situation of low growth or non-growth. It has managed to ensure that its academic standards are not being damaged. It will strongly fight for its continued autonomy notwithstanding the attitudes which may be expressed at any time by some sections of the bureaucracy about the autonomy of universities.
I believe the Australian National University has sufficient reason to feel proud that in its 30-plus years of existence it has established itself as one of the great universities not only of Australia but also of the world. It has established itself in Australia and in the world as a centre of world class research. I do not think that one or two people with bureaucratic intentions will curtail the very strong feelings which exist among those who have helped to develop that world standing of the institution. I do not think they will give in easily to petty attempts at restrictions on the autonomy of an institution which has reached its standing as a result of its freedom, given to it in the original Bill and maintained by the Parliament thereafter.
I note that Senator Button criticised the University’s public relations. Perhaps the University could spend a whole lot more of the public funds which it has available to it to produce some sort of an even more glossy report with pictures such as those which are produced these days by companies for products, particularly if they are the sort of thing which some of the mass circulation newspapers manage to put on their front pages. I would rather see the report retain its academic standards instead of trying to compete with some of the penny dreadfuls of the media.
I can accept Senator Button’s criticism to the extent that perhaps there has not been enough public understanding of the reasons for the substantial expenditure in keeping that major national institution going. I am not sure what the amount will be in the current year, but it will approach or be more than $80m. That sounds a lot of money. I believe that this is one of the areas in which we are getting value for money for the taxpayers’ funds. It is not just the campus, the students, the research or a particular part of the University that it is worthwhile maintaining- it is the whole collection. It is the bringing together of the various activities of the University that has made Australia a part of the world so far as academic study is concerned.
I deprecate the attacks which have been made on the Australian National University and some other universities by journalists such as Mr Peter Samuel. He is a journalist whose journalistic standards I believe leave a lot to be desired. He is a man who has pursued a vendetta against universities since he left them. One asks: Why did he do so? He is a man who appears to have a chip on his shoulder in relation to the activities of those who perhaps surpassed him in his would-be academic pursuits. Perhaps I could be as unfair as he has been in most of his articles in which he has condemned people without trial and without an objective approach to the matters about which he is writing. I will simply say: Let him explain why it is that he has a chip on his shoulder about universities before he starts to write any more articles condemning universities.
I admit that there are things that are not right about universities. There are things that are not right about the way in which some of the universitiesprobably most of the universities- have been administered from time to time. There was an awful lot that was not right about the way in which the Australian Labor Party administered this country when it was in government. There is an awful lot that is not right about the way in which we administer it when we are in government. There is an awful lot that is not right about everything that goes on throughout the world. If one looks at what is happening in respect of companies and if one looks at any section of the community one will find something wrong. But for a man to conduct a vendetta against those whom he found himself having to leave for one reason or another and to write with a vitriol that is more reminiscent of Pravda than it is of the Australian media -
– I was thinking of Goebbels.
– Perhaps Senator Mulvihill has drawn my attention to a more appropriate illustration. I simply deprecate the sort of attacks that have been made. I do not think they are part of the Australian scene. I hope that the next time Mr Samuel proposes to look at an area in which he once was a participant he will be more objective and a little less personal.
I believe that the universities of Australia have achieved for this country a standing of which we can be proud. Again I admit that there are things that are wrong. Of course there are. I could enumerate a whole list of them. There are things I do not like. There are things many of us do not like. There are areas in which the universities, like this Parliament, endeavour to balance all the competing interests and to provide an opportunity for the development and the pursuit of excellence in our community. That as a standard and that as an objective is something that, provided it is being pursued, should not be denigrated.
There are probably people who abuse study leave in the same way as there are probably people who abuse the opportunity for an overseas trip through this Parliament and there are probably people who abuse promotion opportunities within a university in the same way as there are probably people who abuse the promotion opportunities within the Public Service. But that is a part of life. It does not deserve the vilification of the objective, which has been a tendency of some of the sorts of attacks which have been made not only on the Australian
National University but also on other universities.
I am not suggesting that universities are immune from any criticism. I am not suggesting they are immune from any constructive questioning. I state here and now that I see no reason at all why the appropriate committee of this Parliament should not say to the Australian National University at any time that it wishes: ‘We, as the people responsible for ensuring that that which the Parliament has created is living true to and accountable to the objectives, wish to hear from you’. As I said this afternoon, never has any institution a good reason to say: ‘We will not throw it up in the air and have a look at it; we will not ask why that is done or why this is done ‘. In the same way as we may ask in this Parliament why things are done, so may we ask why of the Australian National University or any other institution or statutory body which the Parliament has created. This Parliament is responsible for ensuring that there is accountability. But we are not concerned with aggressive accountability. We do not operate on the basis that we require institutions to answer our queries as though they were malefactors of some sort. Rather our attitude is one of interested accountability and of saying: ‘What are you doing, why are you doing it in this way and how are you going? ‘.
I see no reason at all why the Australian National University should be immune from that sort of accountability. But I do not think that to criticise universities generally, particularly the Australian National University, in a way which seems to have become relatively common of late and to use them as some sort of whipping boy for what are seen as the misfortunes of education is a desirable trend. It is not one that will help to develop the objective which all of us seek, namely, the pursuit of excellence, the pursuit and development of scientific research and the pursuit and development of historical research and many other forms of research.
I was amused recently to hear about the dreadful conditions under which the biology department of the University has to operate. I was amused only because of the way in which the difficulties of the department were expressed. The biology department has severe problems. This is the sort of thing on which the stringency of the current era has its impact. The biology area of the University certainly has its problems from a departmental functioning point of view. It was described as being in no way a paradise of biological effort. I wondered for a moment how one would illustrate the text when it came to talking about that statement. I simply mention this matter to illustrate the problem that exists within that University. It receives a great deal of money from the taxpayer but it does need more. The University accepts that it will not get more in substantial terms until the country can afford it. The University has a will to do the best it can with the funds that are available to it. I think that is a most appropriate way for a university and a university council to approach the issues that it has to approach in the current circumstances. Trimming its sails has just been part of what it has had to do in recent times.
I want to mention one other matter before I conclude my speech in respect of the report which we are now discussing. It happens to touch upon two things that are fairly near and dear to my heart. One is the report of the Australian National University. As people may have gathered, that is fairly near and dear to me. The other subject is Tasmania. The connection may escape people until I explain it. With a true federalist diversificationist attitude, the university sought to have its report printed not necessarily at the centre. If one looks at the report one will see that it was printed by Mercury- Walch of Hobart, Tasmania.
– Shame! You should have declared your interest.
– The Minister says that I should have declared my interest. As a matter of fact, my interest started when I found out that that was the arrangement. I did not know until after the arrangement had been made. There is a little story attached to this, and it is an interesting story. Some honourable senators may have noted that the report was late in being presented to the Parliament. Normally the report is presented considerably before the time of the year when this report was presented. The reason why this report was late is that, having engaged somebody to print the report- if one looks through the report one sees that there is no question of a lack of competence in printing- the university was held up in that because of Tasmanian shipping difficulties, which are an old problem to which many of us from Tasmania have referred from time to time, the printer could not obtain the paper to print the report. It was held up for weeks as a result of some of the industrial and other problems which create backlogs in Tasmanian shipping services.
This serves to dissuade bodies such as the Australian National University from ever again engaging a competent and efficient printer in Tasmania to print their reports. I take the opportunity to mention that this problem is one about which Tasmanian members of this chamber talk when they discuss the importance of things such as the freight equalisation scheme and the problems that Tasmania has in being able to compete with the mainland States on anything like an equal basis. This printer won the contract; but he cannot keep a contract if he cannot get the paper to do the printing.
– Would not the printer have supported Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd? It is in Tasmania. Why would the printer have to wait for paper to come by ship?
– It is a matter of the paper that is needed for certain reports. Not every company produces paper which is appropriate for a particular publication. Certainly, we have one of the best paper producers in the world, in APPM. It produces the most appropriate paper for all sorts of purposes. I am assured that the specifications in the contract for which the printer tendered called for a type of paper which it could not obtain from APPM in Tasmania; at least, the assumption is that the printer could not obtain it from APPM because that paper was not part of the run it was doing.
– Has the Australian National University been deterred from using Tasmanian printers?
– I hope that it has not been deterred. I found this out as a result of inquiries I made as to why the report was late. That is the only reason why I found this out. I hope that I will be able to encourage the Australian National University to try a Tasmanian printer again. The freight equalisation scheme and the efforts of the Australian National Line in having an over-tonnage on the Tasmania run should ensure that the sorts of hold-ups which followed the disaster and debacle of 1974 and 1975, and which carried through into 1976 and even 1977, will be eliminated entirely. If that can happen, I believe that the Australian National University and anybody else will be able to have a great deal of confidence in engaging a Tasmanian printer to print and publish on time.
– It does show how Tasmania’s freight problems can affect us all, even us in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I accept entirely what Senator Knight has said. Poor Tasmania! It is an island that in many ways can do things better than many other parts of Australia, but it is adversely affected from time to time by the problems which it has and which have been imposed on it; they have not been of its own making. Tasmania has the most expensive ships in the world, the most expensive crews in the world and the most expensive wharf labourers in the world. That is not Tasmania’s fault. All that is the result of Federal government policies. When there is no option, the situation becomes a little more difficult. I believe that the freight equalisation scheme, together with the attitudes currently being adopted by the Australian National Line, can overcome the sorts of problems experienced by the Australian National University when it reasonably and properly engaged Tasmanian printers to prepare its report and found itself embarrassed by a delay which was not of its making but rather was the product of some successive national government policies which have disadvantaged the State of Tasmania and its industries. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in support of the consideration of the Australian National University report.
I summarise by saying that I believe that all of Australia- not only this chamber, which is probably more closely aware of the activities of the Australian National University, but the whole of the country- can be proud that within a very short period, in competition with universities around the world which have developed over many centuries, we have developed a university of a standing and degree of excellence which are a compliment to those who designed the original Act, to those who have supported the concept and the autonomy of the university over the years of its existence and to those Australians who make it work- the taxpayer, the contributor, the person who, in one way or another, has ensured that we have a university which is able to hold its head high wherever the question of achievement and excellence is discussed in the world. There are some areas in which the university leads the world. There are others in which it competes. But, taken all round, I am delighted to be able to support Senator Button in the general sentiments which he expressed, namely, that we are proud of the Australian National University which was created by this Parliament and is paid for by the Australian taxpayer.
– I think the Senate does well in debates on General Business, and specifically on subjects such as this, in which it has the opportunity through honourable senators to look more profoundly at great matters that alter the tides of the nation. I commend the contributions of Senator Button and Senator Rae. The way in which a nation approaches its institutions aif higher learning is a reflection of the character of the nation. It tells much about the goals and hopes of the nation. The way in which a nation is willing to guarantee academic freedom is important to the character of the nation. The way in which a nation is willing to pursue knowledge and excellence is a vital clue to the character of the nation. A nation ought not to be frightened of the exposure of further knowledge. Much new knowledge, particularly the knowledge of the basic cell, DNA, is in many ways a frightening thing; but it is for man to understand how he will use the knowledge once that knowledge is exposed. It is not for man to be frightened of its exposure.
The Australian National University is an institution of which this country can be proud. It was set up with unique aspirations. I believe that it is discharging its task well. As Minister for Education for the moment, I am privileged to have an overview of it and other institutions. I will be fascinated to read what the Williams committee of inquiry has to say about the Australian National University and its postgraduate aspects, as well as about other universities. As Senator Rae has said, the Australian National University spends huge amounts of money. In fact, it costs roughly the same to run the ANU as it costs to run the University of Sydney or the University of New South Wales. Each of those universities has a basic undergraduate or primary degree population of 18,000 people. Senator Rae can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the ANU has a student population of 6,000 people. That gives an indication to honourable senators of the massive and vital costs incurred in the field of research. The question of balance to be placed upon pure and applied research is enormous. I believe that the ANU is achieving its goals. I believe, along with Senator Rae, that we should scrutinise that expenditure, and certainly in the Estimates committees and elsewhere analyse what is happening. If any honourable senator would like to visit the University and to inspect the research schools or to have discussions, I would be very happy to make arrangements for him to do so, and I am sure that Senator Rae would also.
– The Council, too.
-Indeed, the Council of the Australian National University would be quite happy for this to happen. I pay a tribute also to Senator Rae and to Dr Klugman, the honourable member for Prospect in another place, who are members of the Council. Mr President, I understand that you wish to make a statement. So in concluding my remarks, I ask honourable senators to apply their minds quite regularly in these kinds of debates to the fundamentals of education. We are spending in
Australia today nearly $6,000m on education across the board. That will be money well spent if we are producing human fulfilment and the adequate and coping person and if we are achieving the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of knowledge. I believe that we are headed on that path. I commend to honourable senators the standard of debate that we have had tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Two weeks ago I made a statement to the Senate on measures that were to be brought into operation progressively to improve the security of Parliament House and the safety of people in the building. A similar statement was made in the House of Representatives by the Speaker. At the time I told the Senate an officer had been appointed to co-ordinate security measures throughout the building. This position has been filled temporarily during the past fortnight by a parliamentary officer. It was clear at the outset, however, that Mr Speaker and I needed to have the benefit of advice on these matters from a person who not only had a sound appreciation and knowledge of the Parliament but also who had first hand experience in protective security arrangements.
I now wish to inform the Senate that the Speaker and I have approved the secondment to the parliamentary service of Mr William Worth, a former senior officer of the Australian Public Service, who will be known to many honourable senators on both sides of the Senate. We are fortunate in having an officer of Mr Worth ‘s calibre to assist us in these matters.
We are anxious to see the measures already announced implemented as quickly as possible. A good deal of preparatory work has already been done. One major measure- the pass systemshould be operational by the time the Senate resumes after Easter. It is clear that in a building that is used in such diverse ways as Parliament House, some difficulties and inconvenience may be experienced in the initial stages of the implementation of the new arrangements. I trust all honourable senators will recognise this situation and assist the Presiding Officers in their resolution of these difficulties as they become apparent.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note or the statement.
I think it is deplorable that after an incomplete discussion in the Senate this afternoon about what security the Parliament needs, we find that an appointment has been made which may not coincide with the desires of the Senate. I thought that in the discussion this afternoon there was raised, along with the question of essential security, the question of the privileges of members of parliament and of visitors to this Parliament. But now an appointment has been made and announced. I do not know the gentleman concerned. But we are told that we are fortunate to have an officer of Mr Worth’s calibre to assist in these matters.
-Just a minute, Senator Cavanagh. It being 10.30 p.m., I must put the question: That the Senate do now adjourn.
- Mr President, I seek the indulgence of the Senate to raise a point of procedure. If we receive an indication from Senator Cavanagh that he wishes to seek the indulgence of the Senate for two or three minutes or for a short time in order to make his speech, I would be happy to negative the adjournment question for that purpose. Perhaps Senator Cavanagh could indicate that that is his desire. Otherwise, he could seek leave to continue his remarks and I would facilitate the debate coming on at another time.
- Senator Cavanagh, in view of that arrangement suggested by the Minister, are you prepared to speak now?
– It will not take me long to make my speech.
– Order! It being after 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I can give no assurance about the response that my remarks may prompt from other honourable senators. I am concerned that an appointment has been made. I would have thought that the emotion that was generated in the debate on the security of Parliament House would not have justified the appointment being made now. I thought that the discussion today would have resolved that matter, but it was incomplete. I would have thought that before any announcement on this matter was made the Senate would have completed this discussion and ascertained the opinion of honourable senators on how far they wanted to go. Now we have imposed upon us a coordinator of security within Parliament House. According to the President’s opinion, this man, Mr Worth, has the calibre to assist in these matters. I have been told something of the history of this man by honourable senators on this side of the chamber who know about him. He was Australia’s representative for the South East Asia Treaty Organisation in Bangkok. I do not know whether that position carried with it any security connotations. He was the co-ordinator of the world expositions at one time. That would not suggest to me that he had associations with security. He was then appointed the Administrator of Christmas Island. This is the man of high calibre who will protect this House at a time when the Senate has not resolved the question of whether it needs the protection which you, Mr President, are so generously affording us.
– Of course it does.
– If the honourable senator feels insecure, he has justification for doing so. I do not, and I do not need Mr Worth to protect me against anyone other than Senator Archer. That is the only protection I need. I am told also that Mr Worth is to be paid a salary of some $26,000 a year that we cannot reduce. He will have a deputy, a typist and office facilities. He will have office facilities in this building which is so cramped that it will not permit us to extend the operations of the Estimates committees. Accommodation will be handed over to a co-ordinator of security when the Senate has not expressed its opinion as to whether it desires this appointment. Mr President, although I know your responsibility to protect the security of Parliament House, I seriously question whether we should be making such an appointment at a time when we have not discussed the question of how much security the Senate needs.
Debate (on motion by Senator Carrick) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I want to speak only briefly. I do so on behalf of Greenpeace Australia and its coordinator, Jodi Adams. I am prompted to do so by an illustration of the barbaric seal slaughtering that has been occurring, apparently sponsored by the Canadian Government, on the coast of Labrador. I know that Australia has had its own gory chapters of animal slaughter, but I doubt whether anyone could fail to be affected by this recently published photograph of a seal pup which has been skinned and of another seal that was pitifully trying to defend it. Notwithstanding any question of our membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, I hope the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will exercise our rights to protest, via the Canadian High Commission, that there are certain standards which apply and that we expect them to be adhered to.
I would like to make this a double-barrelled appeal. I would like the Minister in control of imports to examine whether this country, or the Canadian Government, is justified in capitalising on this wildlife carnage by allowing trade in seal pup pelts. As I say, it is a twofold suggestion that I make to the Minister. I hope that in a few days I will receive a response from the Prime Minister on the making of a diplomatic protest and also, if necessary, the banning of the importation from Canada of this type of pelt.
– in reply- I shall be brief, but I think the Senate would want me to respond. I have seen the seal hunt article and photograph in today’s Canberra Times. May I preface my remarks by saying that I think all honourable senators would want to restrict the killing of all forms of life to the minimum necessary. There is, therefore, naturally a strong emotional reaction by people when they see what looks like massive slaughter of harp seal pups. Apparently the pups are sought because of their white coats which, if left to grow, change colour. I understand also that, strangely enough, they are not an endangered species. I do not say that by way of a defence or an argument that I should not pursue what Senator Mulvihill seeks. I am simply giving the facts.
According to the figures from the Canadian Government, the present harp seal population is estimated as being between one million and one and a half million. As the species is not endangered, and not listed in the appendices to the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, the Customs Bureau has advised that any embargo action Australia could take in reaction to the importation of harp seal skins would be discretionary. Again, I do not say that to qualify what the honourable senator has said. I understand that the Canadian Government imposes a quota. Until it can be established that harp seals are endangered we are obliged to accept
Canada’s assurance that it is acting responsibly in allowing such seal pup hunts.
Against that background, which is provided purely on a factual basis, I think I can give an undertaking that I will convey the honourable senator’s request to the Minister concerned and see whether I can obtain a response for him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Senate stands adjourned until Tuesday, 4 April, at half past 2 p.m., unless sooner called together in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 23 February 1978:
Did the Minister state, in reply to a question without notice on 25 August 1977 (Senate Hansard, page 524), that the Ministerial Document Service is provided only for Press releases and speeches by Ministers and Opposition office holders; if so, why did the Ministerial Document Service distribute a press release, dated 30 January 1978, entitled Australians ‘Risk Losing the Future’, by the Chairman of the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council, on the letterhead of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes. As a result of a clerical error the Press release in question was prepared on headed paper normally used for announcements made by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.
The error was not detected in time to prevent inclusion in the daily distribution of ministerial statements. The release was, however, excluded from the weekly ‘Commonwealth Record’.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 February 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 February 1 978:
What funds were made available to Queensland for the financial year 1976-77 under the Federal Homeless Persons Program.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In accordance with Government policy funds are made available to projects as they are required. It was anticipated that in 1976-77 projects in Queensland would have a financial need of $759,000.
Due to litigation by community bodies against the establishment of the two centres in Brisbane, funds were not required as originally anticipated.
Funds will now be made available when these delayed projects commence.
Funds expended in Queensland under the Homeless Persons Program for the financial year 1 976-77 were as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 28 February 1978:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 28 February 1978:
What was the total cost to the Commonwealth of the accommodation at the Berida Manor Hotel in Bowral of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and their staff.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An interim payment of $14,000 has been made to Berida Manor but final accounts have not yet been rendered.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 28 February 1978:
Has the research group, referred to in the Age of 6 February 1978, which is examining welfare programs such as Medibank, made recommendations on Medibank or on any other welfare matter.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In my Press statement of 2 March 1978 I announced the appointment of Dr Sidney Sax as Head of the new Social Welfare Policy Secretariat. The establishment of the Secretariat had been announced on 19 December 1977. It will be responsible for the development of plans and policies and review of existing policies and programs in the broad field of health and welfare. The Government will be receiving recommendations from the Secretariat on these matters in due course.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19780316_senate_31_s76/>.