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SJ No 4 - 19 March 1968

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1 M eeting o f Senate: The Senate met at three p.m., pursuant to adjournment. The President (Senator the Honourable Sir Alister McMullin) took the Chair.


3 Q uestion: A Question on notice was answered.

4 P apers: The following Papers were presented, pursuant to Statute: Commonwealth Railways Act—Report by the Commissioner on the operation of the Commonwealth Railways, for year 1966-67. Defence Act—Regulation—Statutory Rules 1968, No. 20. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act—Regulations—Statutory Rules 1968,

No. 17. Explosives Act—Explosives Regulations—Orders directing the berthing of a vessel ( 2).

Honey Industry Act—Fourth Annual Report of the Australian Honey Board, for year 1966-67. Housing Loans Insurance Act—Regulation—Statutory Rules 1968, No. 19. Lands Acquisition Act—Land, etc., acquired for—

Civil Aviation purposes—Moorabbin, Victoria. Post Office purposes— Bayswater, Victoria. Mooball, New South Wales. Shipping and Transport purposes—Port Adelaide, South Australia. Post and Telegraph Act—Regulations—Statutory Rules 1968, No. 18.

5 I nterrogation in Viet-N am— M inisterial Statement: The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), by leave, made a statement concerning an interrogation of a female agent of the Viet Cong carried out by Army personnel on 25 October 1966 and stating that no court of inquiry would be appointed to inquire into the incident. Senator McKellar moved, by leave—That the Senate take note of the Statement. Suspension oj Standing Order 14: The Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) moved—

That Standing Order 14 be suspended to enable debate to be entered upon before the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Opening Speech has been adopted. Question—put and passed, there being present an absolute majority of the whole number of Senators and no dissentient voice. Debate ensued.

20 No. 4— 19 March 1968

And two hours having elapsed from the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the Orders of the Day were called on. Postponement o f Orders o f the Day. Ordered, on the motion of Senator Anderson— That the consideration of the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the further

consideration of the Ministerial Statement on Interrogation in Viet-Nam.

Debate on motion to take note of the Ministerial Statement continued. Senator Gair moved an amendment, viz.: At end of motion add “and the Senate expresses its utmost confidence in the Australian troops in Viet-Nam and believes that they can be relied upon to conduct themselves at all times in a characteristic

Australian manner”. Debate continued. And Senator Willesee proposing to move a further amendment to the original Question— Ruling of Acting Deputy-President·. The Acting Deputy-President (Senator Dame Ivy

Wedgwood) ruled that the amendment was not in order because an amendment proposed must be disposed of before another amendment to the original Question can be moved. Debate continued. Senator Willesee moved an amendment to the proposed amendment, viz.: At end of Senator Gair’s proposed amendment add “ ; but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government should table the evidence given before, and the report made by, the major whom the Task Force commander appointed to investigate the allegations and should commission a judge to inquire into and report on the following matters:

(1) Whether the prisoner was subjected to torture or inhuman treatment. (2) Why reports of her interrogation were classified as secret. (3) Why war correspondents who observed or filmed the interrogation were not asked to give evidence before the major.

(4) Why the matters disclosed to him were not promptly brought to the attention of the Attorney-General and the Minister for the Army”. Debate continued. Senator O’Byrne addressing the Chair—

And it being 10.30 p.m.—

6 A djournment: The President, under Sessional Order, put the Question—That the Senate do now adjourn. Debate ensued. Question—resolved in the affirmative. The Senate adjourned at twenty-nine minutes to eleven p.m. till to-morrow at three p.m.

7 Attendance : Present, all the Members except Senators Breen, Cohen (on leave), McKenna, Mattner and Sir Kenneth Morris.

J. R. O d g e r s, Clerk of the Senate

12585/68 By Authority: A. J. A r t h u i, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra