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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -

Repatriation. (Question No, 1228.)


Mr L R Johnson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   What are the details of the "act of grace" provisions in the Repatriation Act in respect of (a) the Boer War, (b) the 1914-18 War, (c) the 1939-45 war, (d) the Korean War, (e) the Vietnam War, and (f) operations in Malaysia?

2.   To what extent are (a) Salvation Army Red Shield personnel, (b) Merchant Navy personnel, (c) Comforts Fund personnel, (d) civilian prisonersofwar, (e) civilian employees of the services in war zones, and (f) representatives of churches and service organisations such as the Y.M.C.A. denied maximum repatriation benefits?


Mr Swartz - The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -

The provisions of the Repatriation Act apply to persons who were, in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 Wars, and the Korea and Malaya operations, members of the Defence Force, They do not apply to persons who, in those wars and operations, performed certain tasks in association with the armed services but were not themselves members of those services.

For this last group, repatriation benefits have been provided, by Australian Governments, in the course of and subsequent to the 1939-45 War, under a series of Act of Grace schemes. There are no Act of Grace provisions in relation to the 1914-18 War, and their possible application in respect of service in Vietnam and Malaysia is at present under consideration.

The classes of persons eligible under the Act of Grace schemes administered by my department are -

(a)   members of the Citizens Forces who served in part-time service, but do not qualify as a member of the Forces as defined in the Repatriation Act;

(b)   accredited representatives of philanthropic organisations, e.g. Red Cross, Salvation Army, Y.M.C.A, Y.W.C.A., Australian Comforts Fund;

(c)   accredited Commonwealth Employees attached to the Forces, e.g. official war correspondents and photographers and representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission;

(d)   civil aviation personnel (R.A.A.F. Reserve) employed in forward areas;

(e)   telegraphist employees of Amalgamated

Wireless Australasia attached to the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve;

(f)   canteen staff of H.M.A. Ships;

(g)   certain New Guinea civilians; dependants of certain civilians who lost their lives .is a result of the Japanese occupation. (As agent for the Department of Territories.)

The range of repatriation benefits available under the Act of Grace arrangements, is for all practical purposes, except in the matter of appeals, the same as that under the Repatriation Act in respect of service in the 1939-45 War and Korea operations. Consideration is currently being given to the possibility of suitable appeal arrangements for Act of Grace beneficiaries.

Benefits for merchant seamen are provided under the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act

Mr. ChenYu teh. (Question No. 1241.)


Mr Whitlam asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   When did Mr. Chen Yu-teh first come within the cognisance of any Commonwealth Department?

2.   On what occasion and for what reasons has he since come within the cognisance of any Commonwealth Department?

3.   On what occasions and for what reasons has any Commonwealth Department been in touch with any State Department on his behalf?


Sir Robert Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   Mr. ChenYu-teh first came under the notice of the Department of the Army in 1944 when he was brought to Australia following his capture by United States Forces in Hollandia. He was initially interned as a prisoner of war but was subsequently found to be not a prisoner of war and was released to the United States Forces for employment. Later he was considered to be a security risk and was reinterned as an alien. A deportation order was issued in September 1946. Mr. Chen was embarked on the s.s. " Taiping " at Sydney but jumped overboard. He was rescued and held pending later movement. In February 1947, he was certified insane and transferred to Gladesville Mental Hospital.

2.   Since 1947 and until 1957 continued and regular inquiries were made by the Departments of Immigration and the Army about Mr. Chen's medical condition to establish his fitness to travel. Medical authorities stated, inter alia, that Mr. Chen was given to periodical fits of violence, a condition the hospital authorities regarded as permanent. It was, however, indicated that he could be repatriated if accompanied by an escort. Because of humanitarian considerations no action to repatriate Mr. Chen to Mainland China (his recorded birthplace) was contemplated. In 1957 the Minister for Immigration decided to cancel the order for Mr. Chen's deportation. At no stage had Mr. Chen asked to be repatriated to Taiwan; nor was it indicated that he may have been born in Taiwan.

3.   From 1947 until 1957, when the deportation order against Mr. Chen was cancelled, regular contacts were maintained by the Departments of the Army and Immigration with the Gladesville Mental

Hospital concerning Mr. Chen's condition. Maintenance payments have been paid by the Department of the Army to the Gladesville mental authorities from the time of Mr. Chen's internment in 1947 until his departure for Taiwan in 1965.

In March 1965, the New South Wales Department of Public Health informed the Department of Immigration that Mr. Chen had stated that he came from Taiwan and that he wished to return home. The question of Mr. Chen's repatriation to Taiwan was subsequently followed up and Mr. Chen left Australia on 15th October 1965.

Public Service. (Question No. 1250.)

Mr.Hayden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

How many permanent female employees of the Commonwealth Public Service during each of the past ten years were, upon marriage, maintained in their employment under section 49 (2.) of the Public Service Act (a) as permanent employees, (b) as temporary employees and (c) without demotion?


Sir Robert Menzies - The Public Service Board has provided me with the following answer to the honorable member's question -

During the past ten years there is no record of any permanent female officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, upon marriage, continuing in her employment under the provisions of Section 49 (2.) of the Public Service Act.

As statistics of the number of temporary engagements during any particular year are not compiled, only the total numbers in temporary employment at various points in time during the year being recorded, it is not possible to say how many permanent female officers were re-engaged, after marriage, as temporary employees.

Public Service. (Question No. 1251.)


Mr Hayden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   How many females were employed on (a) a permanent and (b) a temporary basis in each division of the Commonwealth Public Service during each of the past ten years?

2.   How many in each case were (a) married and (b) single?

3.   What percentage of the total work force in each division did (a) permanent and (b) temporary female employees represent?


Sir Robert Menzies - The Public Service Board has provided me with the following answers to the honorable member's questions - 1. (a) The numbers of females employed on a permanent basis in each Division of the Commonwealth Public Service during each calendar year from 1959 to 1964 were as follows -

 

Prior to 1959, the number of engagements during the year was compiled according to definitions differing from those currently in use. Figures from the earlier series have not been provided as they are not statistically comparable with those shown above.

(b)   As statistics of the number of temporary engagements during the year are not compiled, only the total number in employment at various times in the year being recorded, it is not possible to say how many females were employed on a temporary basis during each of the past ten years. 2. (a) and (b) Permanent Employees. There are no recorded cases of married women being engaged as permanent officers during the years 1959 to 1964 inclusive. All of the females shown in the table given in answer to question 1 (a) were single, widows or divorcees.

Temporary Employees. As stated in reply to question 1 (b), statistics of the number of female temporaries engaged during the year are not compiled.

3.   As at 30th June of the years 1959 to 1965, the percentages of (a) permanent female officers and (b) temporary female employees in the total work force in each of the Third and Fourth Divisions were as follows -

 

Communism. (Question No. 1346.)


Mr Daly asked the Acting Minister for

Defence, upon notice -

1.   Is a member of the Communist Party eligible for employment in a defence establishment?


Mr HULME (PETRIE, QUEENSLAND) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   There is no statute expressly prohibiting the employment of Communists in Commonwealth defence establishments.

2.   There are some members of the Communist Party amongst the civilian employees of Commonwealth defence establishments but no person who may be regarded as a security risk is permitted to have access to classified information.

Repatriation. (Question No. 1373.)


Mr Hansen asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   Are recipients of repatriation benefits given a choice of the doctor and dentist from whom they wish to seek treatment?

2.   If so, why is a choice not extended in respect of optometrists?

3.   If a choice is not offered in respect of optometrists because spectacles are provided under contract, could the pensioner who purchases spectacles from a particular optometrist for whom he has a personal preference be allowed a discount equal to the contract price?


Mr Swartz - The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -

1.   Yes. They may choose a doctor or dentist from panels of Repatriation Local Medical Officers or Local Dental Officers practising in their locality.

2.   The Department's policy, on medical grounds, is, so far as practicable, to have all patients who may require spectacles seen by specialist ophthalmologists. If spectacles are prescribed, they are satisfactorily provided by the departmental contractor at rates far lower than individual optometrists are prepared to offer with substantial savings to the Commonwealth.

3.   Departure from contract arrangements by arranging refunds to pensioners who obtain spectacles privately would prejudice the contract system.

Stevedoring Industry: Interdepartmental Committee. (Question No. 1443)


Mr Whitlam asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Has consideration been given to setting up an interdepartmental committee, comprising representatives of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Labour and National Service and Shipping and Transport, to co-ordinate the proposals by those Departments for increasing the efficiency of the stevedoring industry?

The Government has already taken important steps towards increasing the efficiency of the stevedoring industry. Mr. A. W. Woodward, Q.C., has been appointed by the Minister for Labour and National Service to inquire into a wide range of matters touching the industry. He has received submissions from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Shipping and Transport. Mr. Woodward has also been appointed Chairman of a national conference of all parties associated with the industry including the Department of Labour and National Service.

Apart from this, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has a statutory obligation to ensure that employers and waterside workers carry out stevedoring operations efficiently.

There is no lack of co-ordination between Departments with respect to stevedoring industry proposals.

Civil Aviation. (Question No. 1456.)


Mr Clyde Cameron asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that certain T.A.A. flights from Adelaide to Canberra via Sydney and Melbourne have been fully booked up to 48 hours before the time of the flights and that subsequent passenger bookings are then transferred by T.A.A. booking offices to Ansett-A.N.A.?

2.   If so, will he take steps to permit T.A.A. to arrange additional flights so that members of the public may have the right to travel by the airline of their choice?


Mr Fairbairn - The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

From time to time the availability of seats on scheduled services on this and other services is exceeded by the demand. Special flights are then operated when there is sufficient traffic and suitable aircraft are available.

These cannot always be provided, however, and it is then normal T.A.A. service to contact Ansett-A.N.A. on behalf of the passengers to ascertain if seats are available and if so to book them. As an additional service, tickets for seats so arranged are issued by T.A.A. Similar arrangements also apply in the case of excessive demands for seats on Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft.

The airlines maintain a very close watch on the progress of bookings on all flights to ensure that sufficient capacity is provided and make the best arrangements possible to meet unusual traffic situations.

Drugs. (Question No. 1461.)


Mr Stewart asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   Are all drugs used in Repatriation Hospitals of the highest standards or are cheaper drugs of a lesser standard sometimes substituted?

2.   Are medical officers at Repatriation Hospitals given authority to prescribe inferior drugs which private medical practitioners are debarred from using?

3.   Is quality or cost the main consideration governing the supply of drugs in Repatriation Hospitals?


Mr Swartz - The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -

1.   All drugs used in Repatriation hospitals are subject to testing by the National Biological Standards Laboratory and the oversight of a Departmental Drug Committee, and are of the highest quality required for the therapeutic purpose for which they will be prescibed.

2.   No.

3.   Quality is the paramount consideration. Subject to that, the lowest tender by prospective suppliers is accepted.

Repatriation: Convalescent Centres. (Question No. 1472.)


Mr Reynolds asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

1.   Where are Repatriation Department convalescent centres located in each State?

2.   Has any consideration been given to the decentralisation of these facilities within the larger cities to meet the convenience of relatives and friends who wish to visit patients?

3.   Are there any proposals to establish these facilities in the southern and western suburbs of Sydney?


Mr Swartz - The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -

1.   The Repatriation Department maintains general and auxiliary hospitals which, in general, fully meet the medical needs of patients. It does not maintain separate convalescent institutions as such, but patients are normally kept at hospital until they are medically fit for discharge. If for any reason, for example shortage of beds, it occasionally becomes necessary to discharge a patient at an earlier stage, the Department arranges at its expense for accommodation at a suitable nondepartmental institution, if possible in the area in which the patient resides. 2 and 3. No.

Poatina Irrigation Scheme. (Question No. 1475.)


Mr Duthie asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1   . Is there urgency in the development of irrigation schemes as a boost to production and development?

2.   If so, why was the request of Premier Reece of Tasmania for a £396,000 grant to establish the Poatina Irrigation Scheme in northern Tasmania rejected?

3.   If the Government considers that Tasmania should find the finance itself, what guarantee is there that the Commonwealth Grants Commission would not penalize the State for this expenditure?

4.   Will the Government reconsider this request next year?


Sir Robert Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   As the development of irrigation schemes in the States is primarily a State responsibility, I do not think it would be appropriate for me in answer to a question to canvass the importance of irrigation schemes to production and development. In any event, it is not possible to generalise on such a matter.

2.   The Government decided that the proposed Poatina irrigation project did not justify special Commonwealth assistance.

3.   If the Tasmanian Government were to finance an irrigation scheme at Poatina from its own resources - presumably loan funds - the Commonwealth Grants Commission would, if it followed normal practices, be concerned only with the impact on the Tasmanian Budget of any losses (after meeting debt charges) incurred in the operation of the Scheme. The attitude that would be taken by the Commission towards any such losses would be, of course, for the Commission to decide. However, up to the present, the Commission has not imposed unfavorable adjustments on the claimant States in respect of losses incurred by them in the operation of water supply or irrigation undertakings.

4.   The Government's decision not to provide special financial assistance has been conveyed to the Premier of Tasmania and there is no cause for reconsideration of the decision.

Vietnam. (Question No. 1489.)


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Has the Minister information on the bombings by mistake of South Vietnamese villages by American aircraft?

2.   Is there a general instruction not to attack villages if troop movements are not in evidence there?

3.   If this is so how could the mistakes have occurred unless this instruction was disregarded?

4.   What steps are being taken to ensure that the bombing of civilians is eliminated as far as it is humanly possible?


Sir Robert Menzies - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows -

1.   Yes. Despite stringent safeguards, a few mistakes have occurred. When they have done so. compensation has been promptly offered.

2.   There are specific instructions to United States and Vietnamese aircraft not to attack nonmilitary targets such as villages and populated areas even if they receive light fire from these places. The Vietcong on occasions have fired from such areas in an attempt to provoke bombing attacks which, if they cause civilian casualties, could be exploited by them for propaganda purposes.

3.   Mistakes have been the result of human error by individual targetting officers and pilots.

4.   Voice aircraft and helicopters are normally sent to warn the civilian population to take cover before attacks are launched on Vietcong targets in order to reduce the risk to civilians. Further, when air strikes are requested by the ground forces, clearances must be given by the Vietnamese authorities, after which the strikes are carefully observed and usually directed from light aircraft by forward air controllers who know the area. The targets are clearly identified by smoke or similar means.

Motel at Exmouth: Liquor Licence. (Question No. 1492.)


Mr Cleaver asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -

1.   Was a liquor licence for a new motel at Exmouth issued on 29th November 1965, and were licences for two camp accommodation areas some four miles away cancelled?

2.   Will he recognise the very real impact that this situation will have upon the difficult labour recruitment problem already existing?

3.   Under Commonwealth defence regulations relating to the communications station area will he investigate the possibility of exemption of these temporary camps from the local licensing law until work has been completed?


Mr Hulme - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

l.   Yes. 2 and 3. This is essentially a matter for the Western Australian State authorities. We understand that the proprietors of the hotel and the prime contractors are negotiating, with the knowledge of the State Licensing Court, to settle the matter.

Public Service


Sir Robert Menzies - On 19th November 1965, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) asked me a question with out notice concerning prospects of employment in the Commonwealth Public Service for servicemen returning from active service in South Vietnam? I said at that time that I would have an examination made of what the facts are and as I am now in possession of these I am able to inform the honorable member of the present position of this matter.

On 16th May 1962, I made a statement setting out the Government's policy on the permanent appointment to the Commonwealth Public Service of physically handicapped persons.

That statement indicated that, subject to the overriding requirement to maintain the efficiency of the Service, the Public Service Board would in future consider for permanent appointment, with Provident Accounts benefits, to positions for which they are qualified, physically handicapped, persons who were not previously eligible.

This relaxation was in accord with the main recommendations of relevance in the report of the Boyer Committee and extended to all applicants concessions which have previously been restricted, almost entirely, to returned soldiers.

I assure the honorable member that the cases of any applicants for appointment who have seen service in Vietnam will be considered on their merits in accordance with the policy I have referred to above.

Sale of Army Equipment


Sir Robert Menzies - On 29th September 1965, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) asked me a question without notice concerning a newspaper advertisement about the sale of surplus military equipment which appeared in an issue of the Brisbane " Sunday Mail ". I said then that I was not familiar with the facts of the matter but would find out from the defence authorities what they were and would then consider whether any particular step needed to be taken.

I am informed that consultations concerning the disposal of all arms, ammunition and explosives declared surplus by the three Services are held between the Department of Supply the Service departments and the Department of the Treasury. Recommendations as to disposal methods which might be used are subsequently made to the Contract Board. Every care is taken to ensure that weapons and the like are not sold indiscriminately.

Disposal of .303 rifles is effected by offering them to the National Rifle Association of Australia, which operates under the auspices of the Department of the Army. Those rifles not taken up by the Association are offered to licensed gunsmiths. Sales are not made to the general public. No .303 ammunition has been sold for at least four years as the Service departments have not declared any for disposal. If such ammunition were to become available for disposal, and I am assured this is most unlikely, it would be sold only to the National Rifle Association of Australia and to licensed gunsmiths.

At the present time any Commonwealth stocks of surplus bayonets are destroyed usually by dumping at sea. There is however no prohibition under Commonwealth law on bayonets being imported nor any control under State legislation on the sale of bayonets. In the light of representations from the States, the Minister for Customs and Excise is again looking into the question of imposing import control on bayonets.

Under State legislation persons authorised to have rifles of a military type in their possession, may import them. Before import is permitted by Commonwealth customs authorities, however, the importer is required to produce the necessary approval of police authorities in the State in which he desires to land the rifles.

As regards the recent advertisement referred to by the honorable member, several advertisements were inserted by two Brisbane disposal firms, who advertised the availability of the rifles, etc., in the Brisbane " Sunday Mail ". Our inquiries reveal that the rifles, ammunition and bayonets were imported from Britain through licensed dealers. The Queensland police authorities are aware of the availability of the rifles, ammunition and bayonets.

With regard to sales of alleged United States Army service clothing, I am informed that other than certain footwear the Commonwealth Disposals Commission did not sell any between 1945 and 1949. It is considered doubtful whether the uniforms advertised are actually American Army uniforms. They are more likely to be locally made from material similar to that made in Australia for the United States forces during the war.







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