17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. J. S. Rosevear) look the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed tto -
That Mr. Johnson be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on War Expenditure.
That Mr. Russell be appointed to serve on such committee.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the Senate by message.
Staff Allowances - Women’s Supplement
– Will the Minister for Information inform the House whether the Sydney Daily Telegraph has reduced the allowances to journalists employed by that newspaper in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra ? Is it a fact that no other newspaper has adopted’ this wagereducing practice, and that the employees of the Daily Telegraph at Canberra will lose from’ £2 to £3 a week ? Is it true that amongst the Canberra staff of the Daily Telegraph is a returned soldier from this war, and, if so, how does the newspaper’s action square with its professed solicitude for exservicemen? Is it also a fact that it is anticipated that the Australian Journalists Association will shortly secure an award granting its members increased pay, and, if so, does not the action of the proprietors of that journal take away the proposed salary increase even before it is granted? Will the Minister make representations to Australian Consolidated Press to the effect that it is a violation of Australian sentiment for a wealthy newspaper company to reduce the allowances of those who have given to it faithful service?
– The answer to all of the questions submitted by the honorable member, except the last one, is “ Yes “. As to the concluding question, all that I have to say is that, where no sense of decency exists, it is useless to make appeals.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs direct the attention of his colleague to to-day’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which contains a supplement called “Week for Women”? Will he have the contents of the supplement examined with a view to deciding whether it is given over to snobbish, inconsequential and- useless nonsense about so-called society people? I display to the House some pages from the supplement referred to. Honorable members will notice that two pages are taken up with an article entitled: “She is Sydney’s Most Charming Hostess “. The hostess referred to is Mrs. T. H. Kelly, whom I do not know. Will the Minister take notice of this paragraph -
A guest who forgot to bring flowers at the reception for the Duchess of Gloucester at the Trocadero this week, saved the situation by quick thanking. She quickly gathered a handful oi lovely almond blossom from the decorations in the foyer and proffered it as her gift. “Will the right honorable gentleman suggest to the Minister of Trade and Customs that the newsprint quota allotted to this newspaper - which is obtained only after the use of Allied Service transport and the expenditure of valuable dollar exchange - should he examined, with a view to its curtailment, so that such waste of paper may be checked?
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is an expert in such matters. An appropriate reply will be furnished to the honorable gentleman.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether, if the statement attributed by the press to the Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, that prices control will be necessary for four years after the end of the present war, was made with the authority of. the Government, it represents the policy of the Government? Is it not a fact that, as competition is restored , to private industry, prices control can satisfactorily be removed, and does the Government offer any justification for continuance of a policy which was amongst the proposals rejected at the recent referendum ?
– I did see a press statement in regard to price control purporting to have been made by Professor Copland. In it he expressed his own opinion, and did not speak on behalf of the Government. I have made it clear in this House that, in my opinion, there should be some measure of price control after the war in respect of commodities which will be in short supply. Indeed, I feel so strongly on this subject that I have addressed a communication to the Premiers of the ‘States asking them to discuss it at the Premiers Conference which will commence on the 20th August. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that there is no need for price control in respect of goods in ample supply, but for some years after the war - I make no prediction as to the period1 - some materials will be in short supply. For instance, there will be a shortage of timber, and it seems to me that, in view of the great amount of public money which will be involved in the construction of necessary public works in the post-war period, there is danger that, without control, the prices of commodities in short supply would “skyrocket “. I speak purely in the national interests when I say that, in my opinion, there ought to ‘be a measure of prices control over such commodities.
– Does the right honorable gentleman envisage a progressive relaxation of controls?
– I certainly do. Generally speaking, the period for which prices control should be continued will be governed by the law of supply and demand. I have already said that, irrespective of what occurred in connexion with the referendum, every thinking person in the community, and every State government which has a proper regard for its own finances, particularly in connexion with the construction of public works, will be anxious to ensure that there shall be no undue increases of prices of commodities which will be in short supply after the war.
– Recently, I asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs the following question, upon notice : -
What steps, if any, are being taken to ensure that German industrial, scientific and other patents now being investigated and taken over by the Allied forces in Germany will be made available to Australian industry!
In reply, I was informed that the Sciences Liaison Office attached to Australia House in London was acting in close cooperation with the United Kingdom authorities in the matter of investigating German industrial, scientific and. other patents for use by Australian industry. I now ask the Minister for External Affairs what is the personnel of the Science Liaison Office attached to Australia House? Having regard to the tremendous importance of the subject to Australian industry generally, and its effect on the standard of living in this country, does not the Minister think that something more is needed to ensure that the information which will foe obtained shall be made available to Australian industry?
– I appreciate the importance of the subject raised by the honorable gentleman, and desire to give a considered answer to his question. I am not in a position to do so at the moment.
– The leading article in the current issue of the Maritime Worker contains the statement that a sub-committee of Cabinet has decided, subject t.o the confirmation of full Cabinet, that the Maritime Industries Commission will .continue -to function after the war, subject to certain structural alterations. The article goes on to say that future award discussions will not be held under legal jurisdiction; and further, that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will no longer have jurisdiction in respect of claims by waterside workers. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping a ay whether a Cabinet decision to this effect has been made, and whether it is proposed to remove the waterfront industry from the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, as a forerunner to the possible removal of other industries ?
– I have not read in full the article mentioned by the honorable member. Discussions have been proceeding for some time, with a view to placing the waterfront industry on a rauch better footing than has been, the ease in the past. Matters relating to the decasualization of labour, the attraction to the waterfront of workers who willmake that occupation their permanent employment, annual leave, and the use of modern equipment at all ports, have been the subject of discussion with the Waterside Workers Federation. Representatives of the shipowners visited Can berra yesterday, and had a long conference on the subject with the Minister for Supply and Shipping. Endeavours are being made to bring both parties in the industry together for the consideration of these important matters. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has worked very well, under the direction of Sir Thomas Gordon, who, by the way, is also of the opinion that permanency of employment should be achieved. It is not altogether a matter of abandoning Arbitration Court methods, because at a conference at which both sides of the industry are represented much depends upon the kind of chairman available to preside over it. In the first instance, the commission was presided over by Chief Judge Piper who gave Arbitration Court direction and flavour to the proceedings. It is now presided over by Conciliation Commissioner Morrison. The Government is thinking along these lines, but the matter has not yet been considered hy Cabinet.
Acquisition of Estates - Advances to Ex-Servicemen
– Has the Prime Minister read a report published in yesterday’s Canberra Times that the Government of New South “Wales has asked the Commonwealth to provide to that State the sum of £4,000,000 for the acquisition of estates required for the land settlement of ex-servicemen and that the Minister for Lands in New South Wales, Mr. Tully, claimed that holders of large estates were selling portions of their properties to persons who already possess large holdings? Will the Prime Minister take whatever action lies within his power to ensure that requirements in respect of the land settlement of exservicemen shall not be prejudiced by the action to which Mr. Tully referred?
– I have not read the report mentioned by the honorable member. I have been told about it, .but as Prime Minister, or Treasurer, I have no knowledge officially of a request by the Government of New South Wales for the sum of £4,000,000 for the purpose mentioned. The State governments have been invited to furnish, to the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, particulars of estates which, in their opinion, should be acquired and subdivided for the settlement of ex-servicemen. I understand that the Government of New South Wales has submitted particulars of 21 estates for this purpose, and these particulars are now being examined. However, the final decision on such matters will be made conjointly by the ‘Commonwealth and the State concerned. I imagine that the press report with respect to the request for £4,000,000 relates to a proposal which will be the subject of agreements between the Commonwealth and the three States which will act as agents, and the Commonwealth and the three other States which will act as principals in connexion with the land settlement of exservicemen. Last week, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction indicated that the Government hopes to introduce a measure at an early date dealing with such agreements. I shall have inquiries made in order to ascertain exactly what the Minister for Lands in New South Wales was referring to.
In reply to the honorable member’s request that the Commonwealth Government take steps to ensure that land suitable for this settlement shall not be disposed of privately, the honorable member is, perhaps, .not aware that last week a regulation was passed, with the concurrence of all the State govern-, ments, which .prohibits the transfer of such land. Land transfers are also a matter for decision by the Treasury Department which will not agree to them unless the State governments concerned have intimated that the land is not required for the settlement of exservicemen.
Regarding the other matters raised by the honorable member, it has been my policy as Treasurer to eliminate as far as possible the acquisition of land in excess of what is necessary to provide a ‘ living area. It is true that exceptions have been made in special cases, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales, in order to provide sufficient accommodation for stock from outback areas. I shall examine all of the matters raised by the honorable member, and at the earliest opportunity supply a concise reply which I am unable to give offhand.
– The Prime Minister is aware that soon about 400,000 men will have been discharged from the forces since the beginning of the war almost six years ago, and that not one has had the opportunity to obtain an advance from the Government to enable him to settle on the land. Can he indicate when it will be possible for them to apply for advances? What advances will be made to successful applicants?
– I shall ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to supply a detailed written answer to the honorable gentleman.
Gift of Clothing FROM Commonwealth Government.
– I observe that appeals are being made at present for donations of clothing to be sent to people in the distressed countries, particularly of Europe. May I ask whether the Government will consider makins? a substantial monetary contribution itself, and sending the goods purchased therewith to the people of Europe as a direct donation by the Australian people through the Commonwealth Parliament ?
– As is known, the Commonwealth has already arranged to contribute £12,000,000 towards the work of Unrra. In connexion with the appeal for clothing, I, as Treasurer, was asked to allow the Advertising Division of the Treasury to join with Unrra in making the appeal, and I agreed. I understand that the right honorable gentleman is suggesting that, in addition to its direct donation to the funds of Unrra, the Government might consider also making <i donation of clothing. Does he mean new clothing?
– I shall ask Cabinet to consider the suggestion.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs ask his colleague to arrange for a survey of stocks of clothing, textiles and other goods held by the Division of Import Procurement at the same time as the general census of stocks is taken by the Rationing Commission?
– I shall comply with the honorable member’s request.
Amplifiers in Chamber.
– Honorable members appreciate the attempts which are being made to improve the acoustic properties of this chamber, but I point out, Mr. Speaker, that in the part where I sit there is a reverberation or echo from the amplifiers which, after awhile, tends to give one a headache. Would it be possible for experiments to be made in order to learn the right strength at which to set the sound-reproducing apparatus so that honorable members might hear comfortably?
– At the request of honorable members and of press representatives, who were having difficulty in hearing certain speeches and statements, experiments are being made in an attempt to improve the acoustics of the chamber. It is a difficult problem, and those qualified to express an opinion say that the chamber is badly constructed from that point of view. Nothing permanent has yet been done. The amplification is only in the experimental stage, and the experts are still working on the matter. The views of the right honorable gentleman will be taken into consideration.
– I have received a telegram from the District Clerk of Streaky Bay, South Australia, stating that unless fodder is made available immediately, it is estimated that 1,000 valuable farm horses face destruction. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture direct the attention of the South Australian authorities to the grave necessity to divert to the central northwest of Eyre’s Peninsula a part of the shipments of chaff due to arrive in South Australia from Western Australia and a part .of the cargoes of lucerne hay and meadow hay to be shipped from New Zealand to South Australia, with a view to saving the stock of the settlers in that district ?
– I have discussed with officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture what can be done to alleviate the acute fodder position in that part of South Australia. Some transport difficulties have to be overcome to deliver supplies to the area. I understand the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, will to-day have discussions with the South Australian authorities that I hope will result in satisfactory arrangements for the distribution of the fodder.
– Additional runways are proposed at the Mascot aerodrome. Twelve men of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force were killed in a recent disastrous aircraft accident near the aerodrome. Although the tops of nearby pine trees had been lopped, the aircraft struck them. It is stated that the Central Hirings Committee and the Department of the Interior disagree on the value of the land proposed to be acquired to provide the additional runways. Will the Minister for the Interior take up with the Minister for the Army and the Central Hirings Committee the question of the acquisition of the land as soon as possible in order that the runways may be soon laid down in the hope of avoidance of dangers? Will he report to the House when construction commences?
– I have no knowledge of any such disagreement, but immediate inquiries will be made in order that I may supply the honorable gentleman with the necessary information.
Priorities : Passengers and Freight
– I ask the Minister for Transport whether rail transport priorities for travel are to be lifted? If so, when ? Is it correct that the railways can now transport all the goods available? Does that mean that there will be a free flow of goods without permits in the future?
– Restrictions on the carriage of goods by rail have been relaxed, but not completely removed. The priority system will still operate, but the railways will be permitted to carry other than high-priority goods if it is within their capacity to do so. No decision has been made on further relaxation in respect of passenger travel, but the War Railways Committee will consider the matter at its meeting on the 6th August.
– For some time, many local authorities in Queensland have been considering the improvement of road’s constructed through sparsely populated areas. They are termed “ mail routes “. Will the Government consider their suggestion that in post-war projects a higher priority should be granted to the construction of secondary roads? Will all mail routes be gazetted, and will funds be made available by the Commonwealth to the respective local authorities for the improvement and maintenance of such mail routes? Finally, will such financial assistance be entirely dissociated from the Commonwealth grant for main roads ?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I am prepared to have the matter examined. Regarding the suggestion that the Commonwealth should provide financial assistance to local authorities for the maintenance of mail routes, I remind the honorable member that all these post-war works come within the programmes that will be determined by the National Works Council; the finance required for such works will be allocated by the Loan Council. Already, the Commonwealth Government makes to the States a contribution known as the Federal Aid Roads Grant. This money is provided from the tax on petrol. I should not like to give any undertaking that the Commonwealth will grant direct financial assistance, except under special conditions, in respect of roads within various States. I shall examine the honorable member’s question, ‘but con sider that his proposal should be dealt with as a whole by the National Works Council.
Russian PARTICIPATION in Pacific Operations.
– Prior to the landing of British and American Forces in Normandy, strong representations had been made for some time by the Soviet Government, especially toy Marshal Stalin, in public announcements, that the Allies should establish a second front in Europe. On D-Day, the second front was established1, and eventually Germany was defeated. Did the Minister for External Affairs, when attending the San Francisco conference, make representations bo the Russian delegates, personally, or in conjunction with the British and United States Governments, for the establishment of a second front by Russia against Japan, particularly in view of the “ all-in “ effort of Australia in this war, and the necessity to conclude the conflict as speedily as possible? That can be accomplished with the aid of Russia, which got the second front in Europe for which it had pressed.
– I do not mind walking into some of these things now and again, but I should like the honorable member to excuse me from doing it on my first appearance in this House after my return from San Francisco.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister . for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact, as stated in the latest issue of Smith’s Weekly, that the Prices Commissioner has sanctioned an increase of 2d. a line in the charge made for classified advertisements appearing in the whole or part of the metropolitan daily press of the Commonwealth? Will the Minister make a statement on this matter at an early date?
– The paragraph has not been brought to my notice, and I shall be glad if the honorable member will hand it to me. I shall then confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and supply the information that the honorable gentleman desires.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the very serious statement attributed to the president of the Sydney Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Mr. Upton, regarding the Captain Cook Graving Dock? According to the report, Mr. Upton claimed that malingering caused a heavy increase of construction costs ; that the men employed on the dock had produced, on an average, about onehalf the normal output, and had received about twice the pre-war rates of pay for it; and that the job had cost about four times the amount that it would have cost under normal conditions. Having regard to the importance of keeping construction costs at the lowest possible level in connexion with the forthcoming housing programme, will the Prime Minister investigate Mr. Upton’s statement .for the purpose of ascertaining whether factors were operating in the building of the Captain Cook Dock which could be eliminated in construction programmes in the future?
– I have already made an investigation of the cost of the Captain Cook Dock. Naturally, Treasurers are perturbed when they find that estimated costs of major projects such as this are being substantially exceeded, and in such circumstances I have made a practice, as no doubt have other Treasurers, of asking questions. The initial estimated cost of the dock - I cannot give all the figures offhand - was less than £3,000,000. That figure, of course, was based upon pre-war conditions. I may say that I have lost a great deal of faith in the accuracy of estimated costs for large undertakings, because, in most cases, unforeseen contingencies arise during construction. One factor in the substantial increase of the cost of the dock was the fact that the estimate was made when costs of labour and material were much lower than at later stages of construction, and another factor wa3 that some time after construction had been commenced, it became necessary to increase the length of the dock. Inquiries made on behalf of the Government by myself, as Treasurer, showed that much of the labour used in the construction of the dock was of a type which normally would not be employed on this kind of work. Many employees were unable to do what could be regarded as a normal day’s work for an able-bodied man. In one report, I was informed that a certain section of the workers were physically incapable of achieving anything like normal output on this type of work. In addition, of course, the work was carried out under conditions totally different from those originally envisaged. The first estimate of the cost of the dock was based upon the assumption that the job would be carried out in ordinary working hours without overtime; night work, and so on. The payment of large sums of money in overtime was a substantial factor in increasing the cost. I have sought the views of a number of people in whom I have great confidence - one of them was Sir Harry Brown - on this matter, and they have expressed the opinion that, in the circumstances, a magnificent job was done at a time when conditions for the carrying out of this urgently needed work were most unfavorable, and that, although the cost may appear to be excessive, in the circumstances it seems unlikely that better results could have been achieved.
In regard to housing schemes, I mentioned yesterday that I was perturbed at the increase of building costs, particularly in New South Wales. On this work, too, some of the conditions which applied to work on the graving dock again operate. For instance, in the building industry to-day, there are many old men whose daily output cannot be compared with that of able-bodied workmen. That matter is being investigated.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a statement in yesterday’s Sydney press by the New South Wales Commissioner for Railways, Mr. Hartigan, relating to the condition of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge? Is the Minister aware of the vital importance of this bridge and of the fact, as stated by Mr. Hartigan, that 96 trains cross the bridge each day ? Does the Minister realize that if the bridge became unserviceable, food supplies and, to a certain degree, coal supplies for Sydney would be seriously endangered. In view of the fact that recently there has been considerable deterioration of one of the foundations of the bridge, with the result that the time of crossing for each train has been extended to ten minutes, will the Minister make a statement to the House regarding the number of men employed on the bridge, and the labour requirements specified by Mr. Hartigan? Also, will the Minister give an undertaking to the House that work on this bridge will receive a high priority?
– The answer to several parts of the honorable member’s question is “ Yes “. Naturally I am aware that the bridge is an important one, and that, if it broke down, the transport of food supplies to Sydney would ‘be interrupted. Certainly I know that it tas been gradually wearing out and needs replacement, but there are other bridges over which traffic can pass in the meantime. I shall do what the honorable member has asked, but I shall do it in another way, which I think will be acceptable to him. I shall ask the Director-General of Man-power to consult with the Commissioner for Railways in New South Wales, and find out exactly what the needs are, with a view to reaching an arrangement which will overcome the difficulty. I shall let the House know the result later.
– During the absence of the Minister for External Affairs overseas, reports have appeared in the press that negotiations are in progress between the Government of the United States of America and certain British dominions for reciprocal trade agreements, which will presumably take the place of the lend-lease arrangements now operating, but honorable members have had very little information on the matter. Is the Minister in a position to tell the House anything regarding such reported negotiations ?
– A considerable time ago, under the legislation then in force in the United States of America, it was not possible for agreements of that kind to be made. The announcement which the honorable member has read probably followed upon the passing of amend ing legislation giving to the United States Government greater powers than previously in relation to trade concessions. I have some information on the subject, but I prefer in the circumstances to look into it, so that I may give to the House a considered reply to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– A serious shortage of cases for the marketing of fruit and vegetables has arisen along the north coast of Queensland, particularly at Gympie, where it is said that the shortage is expected to reach the proportion of 50 per cent. As these reports are becoming more serious from week to week, and as many representations made by the control authorities in Queensland .have not resulted in relief being obtained, will the responsible Minister send his deputycontroller to the areas affected, and consult with the local organizations with a view to alleviating the trouble, as there is likely to be a loss of fruit and vegetables owing to the shortage of timber for fruit and vegetable cases?
– If the “honorable member will supply me with detailed information from fruit and vegetable producers or co-operative organizations, I shall arrange through the controller to have a specific investigation made.
– The controller has the details.
– Then I shall do my best to expedite the matter.
Repatriation : Air Transport from Europe.
– In view of the great shipping difficulties that prevent the transport from England to Australia of the wives and families of Australian ex-servicemen, and the expeditious repatriation of Australian ex-prisoners of war and Royal Australian Air Force personnel, will the Minister for Air examine the possibility of utilizing aircrew of the Royal Australian Air Force awaiting return to Australia, so that they may fly our people home in the hundreds of Liberator bombers now idle in Great Britain?
– It is true that great difficulty is experienced because of the shortage of shipping, and I shall have the honorable member’s suggestion examined; hut I understand that the bombers to which he has referred would be entirely unsuitable for transport purposes, particularly for the transport of women and children. I do not know how many of the bombers are idle. As to travel by air, the present services are quite inadequate to cope with the passenger traffic now offering, and I receive complaints from day to day from people on lowpriorities who are held up on the journey; so the prospects of adopting the honorable member’s suggestion do not seem to be bright, but I shall have the matter investigated.
– Will the Minister for Works and Housing inform the State whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that the Civil Constructional Corps in Queensland is to complete its operations by September next? If that be so, are the carpenters to be directed to housing programmes, and will the Minister have regard to the claims of housing in rural areas, particularly in respect of carpenters previously employed in home building?
– I have not read the report in the press, and cannot say whether the Civil Constructional Corps will finish its activities in Queensland in September. A statement to that effect has appeared in the press, but newspaper reports are more often inaccurate than correct. The Government hopes, of course, that the Allied Works Council will finish its work soon, so that all of its resources may be diverted to housing. I shall give immediate consideration to the honorable member’s other request regarding housing in rural areas, and I shall inform him later of the position.
Mr.SPENDER. - Can the Minister for Air state whether Pan-American Airways proposes to re-open its service from
San Francisco or the west coast of America to New Zealand, and whether it also contemplates providing a service direct to Australia through Noumea on a similar air transport route? If the Minister knows that that is not the decision which has been reached, will he say what discussions have occurred with regard to it. Have any representations been made by Pan-American Airways. for landing rights in Australia; and, if so, with what results?
– All I know about the desire of Pan-American Airways to conduct a service to Australia is what I have read in the press. No request has reached me regarding the matter.
– That is all the Minister knew about the acquisition of aircraft.
– That is not all. I know that those for whom the honorable member was appealing were spending a great deal of money in propaganda which was completely unjustified, and a good deal of which was incorrect. The previous position with regard to PanAmerican Airways was that New Zealand had made arrangements for reciprocal landing rights, but it made that arrangement with the company and not with the nation. Australia’s attitude to this matter, I think, would be that, if it were to make , any arrangements with an overseas company for an air service to Australia, it would have to be on the basis of reciprocal rights between governments.
– Then we might be isolated for a long time.
– We need not be isolated. The honorable gentleman apparently takes a great interest in this matter, and if the Government gave reciprocal rights to a company instead of to the nation, he would be one of its most severe critics. I desire to make it clear that, although statements have appeared in the press, no communication has reached me.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether it is proposed to allow overseas aircraft to land at more than one Australian airport? Is it also proposed to allow those aircraft to carry freight and passengers between interCommonwealth airports? If not, will not such a decision be detrimental to
Australian services overseas because of the retaliatory action which might follow it?
– There are no difficulties about overseas aircraft landing at more than one Australian airport, but it depends in some degree on the kind of aircraft which the honorable member has in mind. In view of the fact that the second part of the honorable member’s question involves reciprocal rights, I ask him to place it on the notice-paper.
– In regard to the releases approved by Cabinet of members of the forces with long service, will the Minister for the Army state whether, under the pre-arranged plan, a proportion of doctors, dentists, and members of other professions, who have served in the Army, will also be released, in view of the reduction of military forces that has occurred?
– Yes; among the men who will be released will be doctors and dentists who have the service qualifications and whose release is asked for by State governments or State health authorities in order that they may undertake urgent work either in private practice or with Health Department. Only this morning, I had a consultation with the Minister for Health for Tasmania in regard to certain aspects of this matter, and I intend to discuss it with the Adjutant-General and the Director-General of Medical Services at the first opportunity.
.- I move-
That the House requests the Government to re-examine the Order of Precedence with a view to placing Mr. Speaker in a rank not less favorable than that occupied by the Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.
I have no desire to dwell on certain events which occurred recently and bear intimately on the order of precedence as it affects you, Mr.Speaker, and the President of the Senate, but I think that the time has come when the Parliament should decide this matter. I am not one of those who care very much about rank and title, and, therefore, perhaps I am as well qualified to raise this subject as is any other member of the Parliament. The status which Mr. Speaker and the President should have on official occasions should bear a strict relationship to the importance of their offices. If we study the history of parliamentary government, and parliamentary institution in the United Kingdom particularly, we naturally go back to the time when the speakership of the House of Commons became one of the most important appointments in the country. I refer now to the reign of Charles I., when the Speaker was Mr. Lenthall and there was a conflict between the King and the Parliament. At that time, there was not an Executive Government such as exists today in the House of Commons, and also in the Australian House of Representatives, and so, in some respects, the conditions were not exactly the same, although, so far as the position of the speakership in relation to the Crown and the Executive was concerned, there has been no material alteration. The next importation development in the constitutional history of England which has a bearing on this subject was after the accession of King George I. when the Executive Government of the United Kingdom, as we now know it, came into being, and there was established for the first time in British history that Executive Councillor who hascome to be known as the Prime Minister. The holder of the office of Prime Minister in this country occupies a peculiar position in relation to the King or the King’s representative, the Parliament, and the people. I do not think that it is going too far to say that, in some respects a position is developing in Australia similar to that which has developed in the United States of America during the last one hundred years in connexion with the election of a President. In that country, the original intention was that a number of quite disinterested persons who, in no circumstances, would be candidates for the Presidency, would get together in an Electoral College and, having pooled their wisdom, would select for the Presidency and the vice-Presidency of the
United States of America the best men available. However, that system did not. work out according to plan. The system which actually came into being, particularly after the formulation of the American Constitution, was one under which every .person who is nominated for the Electoral College is pledged in advance to vote for one or other of the candidates who will contest the Presidency of the United States. The nominees are known ‘beforehand. In this country there is a growing tendency - a tendency which I deplore - to look upon each election for members of the House of Representatives as one which will place in power for the next three years a specified person as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. And so [ repeat that it is not too much to say that there is a tendency in the Commonwealth to move towards what one might call accepting something like the “ divine right of Prime Ministers”. This tendency in itself must have an important effect on the Speakership of this Parliament, the highest office within the gift of this House. A government remains in power only so long as it retains the confidence of the House, but Mr. Speaker is elected for the whole term of the Parliament. I do not know of any instance of a Speaker having been removed from his position. Dealing particularly with the position that exists in Australia, it is fair to draw certain comparisons, and also to point to certain differences between our constitutional and party set-up and that of the United Kingdom. Both countries have a King or his representative and also the bicameral system of parliamentary government. But there the parallel ends, because, whilst both countries have a lower House elected by the people, membership of the upper House in, the United Kingdom, which is known as the House of Lords, is entirely hereditary, whereas in Australia members of the’ Senate are elected by the people. I raise this point because I wish to dwell for a moment on the .position which must be occupied in the Commonwealth of Australia by the President of the Senate. He is in a very different position from that of the person who presides over the House of Lords. In Australia, as I have said, members of the Senate are elected by the people of the States voting as a whole. Those States are part and parcel of the Australian Commonwealth and were parties to the formation of the Commonwealth. There is no hereditary feature in the Constitution of the Senate. Every honorable senator is chosen for that office by the electors who return members to the House of Representatives. The franchise for the election of members to the. two branches of the legislature is identical. Every provision in the Constitution in relation to the powers and prerogatives of the Parliament places the Senate first. Therefore, it stands to reason that the President of the Senate should rank higher than the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the order of precedence that should be observed in the Commonwealth. When this Parliament was first constituted in 1901, the position was not exactly as it is to-day; in some respects, it was considerably different. The Parliament was then a newly established institution, which had no precedents to guide it except those of the House of Commons. It had no history, but only a future. It was composed of men, almost all of whom had made a mark in the parliaments of the six Australian colonies - as they were known until January, 1901. Therefore, the position then was entirely different from what it is to-day, 44 years after that event. It stood to reason that, as time went on, the Commonwealth Parliament should become more and more the National Parliament of Australia which the framers of the Constitution intended that it should be, and less and less purely federal in character. The growth and development of institutions of this description are only natural. Compared with the order of precedence in the United Kingdom whatever may be done in regard to the order of precedence in this country will always be complicated by the existence of six State governments, all of which are sovereign in their own right within certain limits. Their viceregal representatives are direct appointments of the Crown, in which respect they differ from even the Governor-General of the Commonwealth. They have their own Executive Councils, their own judiciary, and all the other characteristics which, combined, make them first-class self-governing bodies. That complication has to be kept in mind. After the termination of the last war, certain conferences in the United Kingdom had an important bearing upon the future status of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. From those conferences, held about 1926, emerged the decision to grant to all the Dominions a status which, in practically every respect, was equal to that of the United Kingdom. This decision was given expression in what is known as the Statute of Westminster. I argue - I believe with full justification - that since the adoption of certain of the provisions of the Statute of Westminster by this Parliament, the position to be occupied in an order of precedence by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must, because of its very nature, have been enhanced. I did not agree with the passage of that legislation. Nevertheless, this Parliament decided to adopt those provisions. From that moment, the degree of independence inherent in the Parliament of the Australian ‘Commonwealth has been materially increased. Therefore, the importance which the Senate and the House of Representatives assumed in the scheme of things must automatically have been enhanced. In considering the position which the President and Mr. Speaker should occupy on official occasions, regard should be had to the Constitution of the Commonwealth. One would imagine that such a carefully prepared document would at any rate state the different governmental functions in the order of importance in which they were considered by those by whom it was formulated. Chapter I. of the Constitution deals with “ The Parliament “. Part I. of that chapter deals with general matters, Part II. with “The Senate”, Part III. with “The House of Representatives”, Part IV. with “Both Houses of the Parliament” and Part V. with “Powers of the Parliament”, lt will thus be seen that the Parliament occupies the supreme position in the Constitution. Chapter II. deals with “ The Executive Government”, which is placed lower in the scheme of things than “ The Parliament”. Chapter III. deals with “The Judicature “. Those are the three important institutions of government. The same principle is followed in its entirety whenever estimates for the expenditure of public moneys are placed before this Parliament. The first item of the Estimate* deals with the Senate, and the first line in that item makes provision for the President of the Senate. The second item of the Estimates deals with the House of Representatives, and the first line makes provision for Mr. Speaker. Only after the Senate and the House of Representatives have been dealt with, does the Parliament consider the estimates of the different departments of government. The first department in the financial structure, naturally, is the Department of the Prime Minister. Therefore, in whatever way the matter be viewed, clearly from the standpoint of the Constitution, reinforced by the provisions of the Statute of Westminster which give to this country the status of legal equality with that of the United Kingdom, the Parliament, represented by the Senate and the House of Representatives, occupies a higher position than that of the Executive Government of the Judicature of the Commonwealth of Australia. Consequently. I argue that, notwithstanding the-change that have been made in the order of precedence as a result of the latest alteration, the position to be occupied by the President and Mr. Speaker should be immediately after the Prime Minister. With due respect to all members of the Cabinet, it is entirely unfitting and unbecoming that the President and Mr. Speaker should rank on official occasions lower than junior members of the Executive Government.
I shall not discuss certain other matters which appear on the list that was given to rae some time ago by the Prime Minister; they are matters on which I have no clearly defined views. But I do contend that, in the order of precedence as it now stands, the President and Mr. Speaker are not accorded on official occasions the positions which are warranted by the importance of this Parliament and the functions which they have to discharge. The Parliament will always be accorded’, in the opinion of the people of any country, that place which it. accords to itself. If the Parliament is prepared to write itself down, and the chief executive officers whom it chooses to carry out the duties allotted to them, then it stands to reason that the people will evaluate the Parliament accordingly.
Without going more deeply into the matter, I put these points, in the belief that there is no logical answer to the case that I have presented for the elevation of the President and Mr. Speaker in the order of precedence to places following immediately that occupied by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
.- I second the motion. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has rightly drawn attention to the historic significance of the position of Speaker in our democratic parliaments. Those of us who value the institution of Parliament, and accept it as a safeguard of the rights of a free thinking and free acting people, have always regarded the offices of Speaker of the House and President of the Senate as parts of the mechanism designed to guard the principle of free speech in this place. We cannot fail to have been concerned at the developments which have taken place during the war tending to minimize the influence of Parliament, and to relegate its functions to a secondary place, as compared with the tremendous power entrusted to the Executive. The actions of the Government, which seem to lower in the minds of the public the status of the two senior officers of the Parliament, reflect the decline of the influence of Parliament during the period of the war. The move recently made to restore the position of Mr, Speaker, and that of the President of the Senate, to a more appropriate status was a recognition by the Government of the fact that Parliament must be regarded as the supreme authority. It is proper that the order of precedence should be amended in keeping with the authority which Parliament ought to possess; but precedence is not the sole determinant of the influence of the office and the respect in which it is held by the people. There is a heavy obligation on the holder of the office, to see that its high traditions are properly maintained. 1 express this opinion with some diffidence, but I feel that I ought to say, with great respect, that recent occurrences in this chamber where the Speaker has, from time to time, been converted into the honorable member for Dalley, so that he might participate in a strongly partisan way in the debates, has created a feeling that the impartiality of the office was in jeopardy.
– He did not violate any rule by doing that.
– I do not suggest that Mr. Speaker did not act in accordance with his technical rights. But we are making a comparison between the Speakership of the House of Commons, where the position carries great authority and prestige, and the office of Speaker in this House. The Speaker of the House of Commons has certain rights, and it has been suggested that the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Australia should enjoy similar rights. Let us reflect upon the procedure in Great Britain. As I understand the position, it is not the practice of parties in Great Britain to contest the electorate of the Speaker. No doubt, you, Mr. Speaker, would welcome the application of that principle to Australia. However, there are over 600 members in the House of Commons. Our Parliament is smaller numerically, and one vote in this chamber might have a determining influence on the fate of a measure, or even of a government, and we do not feel that we can afford to grant political immunity to the holder of the office of Speaker. In Great Britain, the Speaker, once appointed, is regarded as beyond party controversy. In practice, he divorces himself from the deliberations of Parliament, and is able to assure Parliament in that way that the utmost impartiality will be exercised by him in the making of decisions. In a small Parliament, that may not be altogether practicable, but the legal right which the Speaker of the House of Representatives possesses, as a member of Parliament, to take part in committee deliberations, should be exercised rarely and with great discretion. It seems to me that recent action which you, Mr. Speaker, have taken in this regard may have weakened your authority, and lessened the dignity of your office and the respect in which it should be held by the Parliament and the people.
There is another aspect of this matter. Parliament has made special financial provisions for the positions of Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. The substantial amount of £1,300 a year is paid to the holder of the position of Speaker, in addition to the normal parliamentary allowance. In my opinion, it was clearly intended by Parliament that the Speaker and President should become the central figures in the official functions necessarily associated with the work of Parliament. In this connexion, there is a practical difficulty in the fact that the Government itself has no official menage, if I may use the term, for entertainments except in Parliament House. One effect of this has been to minimize the need for the President and the Speaker themselves to act as hosts on behalf of Parliament to distinguished visitors from other countries, and distinguished representatives of those countries stationed in Australia. The consequence of the offices of Speaker and President has been diminished by the fact that the Government conducts its official functions in Parliament House, and there seems to be no occasion for Parliament, as distinct from the Government, to give functions of the kind in order to pay tribute to distinguished visitors, and to offer hospitality to the representatives of other countries. I believe that we have gone almost to the other extreme. I understand that diplomatic representatives stationed in Canberra are not even entitled to make use of our refreshment rooms, or the various other facilities of a similar character provided in Parliament House. I do not draw any distinctionbetween the present incumbents of these offices and their predecessors. Arising out of all these circumstances there has been, in the result, a lessening of the significance of the offices of the President and Mr. Speaker. That is not merely unsatisfactory to the holders of these offices. It is also unsatisfactory to the Par liament itself. Honorable members should never lose sight of the importance of Parliament and of its historic traditions and responsibilities.From this place the Executive comes; and it is to this place that the Executive is directly responsible. During the war years the emphasis has been in the other direction. Parliament itself has been regarded almost as a rubber stamp for a Government which, with an enormous majority, is ableto treat lightly the authority of Parliament and the views of honorable members. That has had the effect of lessening the consequence of Parliament, and, therefore, the significance of the offices under discussion. The honorable member for Barker has assisted the Parliament, and has done a real service on its behalf, by focusing the attention of honorable members and the public at large upon the need, if we are to safeguard democratic rights in this place, to maintain the full authority of the office of Mr. Speaker, and through that office the respect and dignity which Parliament itself should possess.
Debate (on motion by Sir Earle Page) adjourned. [Quorum formed.]
– I move -
1 ) That in the opinion of this House -
That this House assures the Government of its support in the carrying out of -the above recommendations.
In submitting this motion -which, unquestionably, deals with a matter of farreaching importance, I make it quite clear at the outset that I am not raising it in any controversial spirit. This problem is one on which I believe there will be a wide community of feeling on both sides of the chamber. In particular, I say to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that I raise this matter in no spirit of criticism of himself, because I believe that he has done notable work in the provision of educational facilities during his term of office; and I congratulate him upon that fact. I congratulate him, in particular, upon recent announcements that have been made. I had prepared my speech on this matter before those announcements were made, and, indeed, my motion has already been postponed twice. Therefore, I propose to say what I had intended to say, unmodified by recent announcements which, however, to some degree, bear upon the matter that I am debating. [t is not my purpose to endeavour to set out a programme of educational reform. That can be done only by those whose minds have been informed by prolonged inquiry and reflection. I am not addressing myself to this matter in any sense as a pretended expert. My primary purpose is to direct the attention of the Parliament and the nation to the vital importance in post-war reconstruction of a revised and extended educational system in- our country, and to suggest to the Government that a commission should be set up in cooperation with the States in order to map out a plan for such reform. A good education, although it is not by any means indispensable to worldly success, is, or should be, I believe, one of the basic elements in the establishment of a citizen in life. This does not mean that everybody can receive usefully a higher education as we so describe it. It does not mean that the education of every citizen is to follow exactly the same lines as if all citizens were destined for exactly the same career. It does not mean that education must be so devised as to develop identical faculties in every human being whom it touches. The whole problem is one of infinite variety. But our experience, particularly in the last few years, has shown that we cannot combine progress with security unless the general level of the trained capacity of our people is very high indeed. Let me cite some examples - first, that of rural education. In rural production we are passing, if we have not already passed, out of the era in which only certain staple lines of production needed to be engaged in, for which there was a reasonable assurance of a world market. The period has been described by some experts as the period of exploitation. We are passing out of that. We are entering the period when there will be much more difficulty in obtaining markets. I am now taking the long view. We are passing into the period when we must direct ourselves to much more intensive use of our soil, with much more scientific knowledge of its treatment and possibilities and with much greater variety of production. If our rural industries are not to enjoy a brief period of high prosperity, while the world is going through the reconstruction period, followed by a shrinkage in the period of fierce competition that will then probably ensue, it seems clear that we must increase our efficiency and get our costs down. That will involve, I believe, at least two things. It will involve a large development of scientific research in its relation to the agricultural and pastoral industries. It will involve serious attention to the problem of, not theoretical! training, but scientific training for the actual work of the farmer. In regard to scientific training for the man on the land, it has seemed to me for a long time an anomaly that in a country so largely dependent for its true prosperity upon production from the soil, such meagre facilities should exist in relation to agricultural colleges, and that most of the existing colleges - and I have had a close look at a few - should be so obviously starved of plant, equipment, staff and buildings. If our attitude is to be that rural production is a mere matter of practical experience sharply limited to the locality in which it is acquired, and that a sound preliminary mental training is not needed, we shall fall very rapidly behind the other competitor countries. On these matters, I should like to mention without discussing it further the position of agricultural and other technical experts in this country, often underpaid and overworked, who are the advisers of the man on the land. They have given and are giving notable service.
Let me turn from that to the problem of university education to which the Ministerhas directed his attention, as I have said, so usefully. It is quite clear that there will be a big increase of our university populations. In Australia for every one person in 10,000 who attends a university, in America there are five or six. I have no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands of men coming out of the armed services, will desire to take up some form of university l raining. For one reason and another, I foresee a very large increase of the university population. That may mean, perhaps it already does mean, crowded classrooms and inadequate staffs in many universities, if not all ; and crowded classrooms and inadequate staffs will inevitably mean falling standards, which we do not want in our university training. Therefore it may well be I fear - I offer no dogmatic view about it - that the time has come for us to consider not the packing of more and more students into already crowded institutions, but the establishment of new universities. Lest I should be misunderstood, T say at once that I am not advocating small provincial universities that would be regarded as second-rate. They would not be a real service to education in Australia. That is not a criticism of the provincial universities. I believe in them. But it is a criticism of any idea that we should establish small universities that, in the nature of things, are regarded as second-rate. If a new university is to be created, it should he created on a first-class scale with such financial foundation as will enable it to attract the highest talent to the teaching staffs and make the degrees granted in its faculties recognized and reputable. Most people familiar with the work of university staffs will, I think, be disposed to agree with me that the sheer pressure of ordinary teaching work in large classes is .largely excluding them from the work of research and investigation with which they should be associated. The research aspect of university work needs to be brought into the very forefront of our educational thinking.
Then, hu frying on because I can do no more than make a brief conspectus of this problem, let me say a word about the problem of adult education. It is one of the real tragedies of our- society that there are so many boys and girls who leave school at fourteen or fifteen years, or whatever the age may be, rather glad to do so, lured by the prospect of some immediate job, some immediate wage, or perhaps driven to it by some family circumstance at home. When they have been at school they have not felt much like learning things. They have been going through the ‘ time of life when school seems an unnecessary evil. They leave instructed only in the most elementary fashion. Yet the same young men and women, five years later, at nineteeen or twenty, may have developed a burning desire for knowledge. If a community has within its boundaries even a few thousand people burning for knowledge and deprived of the opportunity to get it because they have passed into normal unskilled ways of earning their living, that community is immeasurably the poorer. The problem of adult education is not a problem of offering people a few university extension lectures or even the Workers “Educational Associations. Excellent as they are they are not a real substitute. The point is that the community has to tackle the problem of the boy of fourteen years, who left school not thinking he needed learning, growing into the young man of nineteen burning for it. What are we to do with him? There we have a problem that we have to tackle with everything we have. It is a problem that cannot be effectively tackled unless he is given some reasonably continuous means of acquiring knowledge. That will cast ‘ burdens upon his employers and burdens upon the community. We must be prepared to accept those burdens if we are to have any real system of adult education, because no man can be more frustrated as a citizen than the man who wants but cannot get the necessary training, whether of the mind or of the hand, [f he can get it, we shall receive enormous dividends in terms of citizenship and everything that matters.
Some honorable members - indeed, 1 hope, many honorable members - will have read two books written and published comparatively recently by Sir Richard Livingstone - books which, I believe, will have a profound effect upon educational reform all over the Englishspeaking world. One is entitled The Future of Education, and the other is called Education for a World Adrift. They contain a most acute analysis of many problems, and, in particular, this problem of adult education. In his book, Tha Future of Education, Sir Richard gives a very interesting description of the people’s high schools in Denmark. All the students are over the age of eighteen years, and only 25 per cent, of them have had any more than an elementary education, so that 75 per cent, of them have had the hiatus, to which I referred, between the normal school-leaving age and the age of eighteen at which they enter the high schools. After they left school, they spent the intervening years in farming, and general work in the cities.
– What is the schoolleaving age in Denmark?
– .Speaking subject to correction, I think that it is fifteen years. Without going into detail on that matter, L’ should like to read a passage from Sir Richard’s book. It is an observation by Grundtvig, who was one of the founders of the People’s High School movement in Denmark. It strikes me as being a most arresting observation -
Experience proves that the same amount oinformation which it takes the half-grown youth, dozing on the school forms, three to five years to learn can be acquired by adults who are keen on learning and who have done practical work, in the space of three to five months.
I discount that. T believe that it is an exaggeration.
– It is rather optimistic.
– I entirely agree; but, at the same time, allowing for exaggeration, it embodies what is to me a stimulating and optimistic idea. I believe that we should encourage it.
Let us have a look at the problems of technical education. We have learned several lessons from the lasdepression, but one of them, perhaps, deserves more study than we have given to it. In a period of business recession, the first sufferer is the unskilled man and his family. Thai alone would constitute a powerful reason for the active forwarding of technical training. But, of course, we must add to that the basic truth that a rise in the material standard of living must depend upon more and cheaper production, and that in cheapness of production, the effective work done per man - that is to say, the real skill of the man - is of far greater importance and should attract far more of our attention than the amount of money that is paid to him. In other words, high wages and great skill and efficiency are natural partners. If we are to match the rest of the world in production and make our products available to the mass of our people at prices which they can afford to pay, we must begin, not to follow the world, but to lead it in technical skill.
I should like to say now a few words about pre-school education. In the pas we have tended to assume that a child of pre-school age presents no problem, except the family problem. In the normal course, a child, on attaining the age of five years or whatever it may be, goes to school; but in those precious years up to five, we have as a community, broadly speaking, said that it is purely a matter of family responsibility. It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the acutesproblems of the wife and mother after the war will be the problem of getting help in her own home. In these circumstances, we must just face up to the fact that there will be far too many neglected children of pre-school years, unless we recognize that the community’s educational duties commence before the normal school life begins. A great deal of valuable work has been done in the kindergarten field, but at the best, it is too dependent on voluntary activities, and on the zeal and enthusiasm of a comparatively few people. Last year, thi British Parliament passed the Education
Act - an act winch has provoked a great deal of favorable attention, and which was based upon a White Paper published in that country. Section 8 provides for a system of nursery schools for children under five years of age. I cannot go into this matter in detail; honor able members will realize that all I am endeavouring to do is to assist a general consideration of this problem by putting such thoughts as I have in my own mind before my colleagues in this Parliament.
The broad problem, of which all these matters that I have mentioned are merely aspects, is the problem of education for citizenship. I did not mention it first, because I regard all the other things with which I have been dealing as leading up to it. The greatest failure in the world in my lifetime, and I am sure that honorable members will agree with me, has not been the failure in technical capacity or manual capacity half as much as it has been the failure of the human spirit. War after war is the result of a failure of the human spirit, not of some superficial elements hut of the fatal inability of man to adjust himself to other men in a social world. With all our scientific development of this century, it still remains true that “ the proper study of mankind is man “, and that the real “ peace-maker “ is human understanding. The closer the countries of the world have come to each other in point of time, the more thay have tended, unhappily, to develop a narrow spirit of selfsufficiency. The more absorbed the people become in the technique of material living, the more they have neglected their social responsibilities, and the more, unhappily, they have neglected the problems of popular self-government. It is well to remember that for years, the greatest danger to democracy has been, not so much a danger from without, as a danger from within.
My own view is that there are two reasons for this decline - there may be scores of others - but these two deserve particular mention. The first is the increasingly pagan and materialistic quality of our education. I have no hesitation in saying, and I have said it many times before in the course of my life, that I believe that religion gives to people a sensitive understanding of their obligations, and that is something which the world sadly needs at the present time. For many years we have had in Australia the advantage of a system of church schools of all denominations, based upon the belief that education should always be conducted against a religious background. But our State schools are, by statute, purely secular in their teaching. What the answer may be to that problem, I do not undertake to say, because that is a matter which calls for consideration by a commission. But I should like again to direct the attention of honorable members to the British Education Act of 1944. Section 7 imposes on local education authorities a duty to contribute towards “ the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community That is a very fine charter for education. Section 25 provides that the school day in every county school and voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all pupils in attendance at the school, with a proviso excusing a pupil from religious worship or religious instruction upon his parents’ request. Section 26 provides for religious instruction in accordance with an agreed syllabus, but it shall not include any catechism or formulary distinct to any religious denomination. This matter is one of vast importance. Nobody can suppose that we are educating our children, except for disaster, by turning them out of purely secular establishments at the age of fourteen, fifteen or sixteen years, merely educated to a point at which they think that there is nothing left for them to learn, aggressively conscious of what they suppose to be their rights, and oblivious of that penetrating feeling of moral obligation to others, which alone can make a community of men successful. That is the first reason, I believe, for the decline to which I have referred. The second particular reason is the unthinking contempt which has fallen upon what people are pleased to call “ useless learning “. The old classical conception of education has declined into disfavour. As parents, we clamour more and more that our sons and daughters shall be taught things at school which will enable them to earn money after they have left school, and nothing else. Again, I say plainly that that is a pitiful conception of education. The old classical notion of education may have had its limits. No doubt it did. It ignored far too many modem factors; but the study of humanities in the schools and universities can at least develop a sense of proportion - the balancing of all special knowledge against general knowledge of the world, of the men in it, and of its problems. “ Useless learning “, as it has been described, must, I believe, come back into its own in this world if we are to produce a really civilized point of view. The first function of education is to produce a good man and a good citizen. Its second function is to produce a good carpenter or a good lawyer, and the good carpenter and good lawyer will be all the better at their respective crafts if they have become aware of the problems of the world, have acquired some quality of intellectual criticism, and have developed that comparative sense which produces detachment of -judgment and tends always to moderate passion and prejudice. Sir Richard Livingston, the authority from whom I have already quoted, says in his second book, Education of a World Adrift -
How can the spirit of citizenship be created or developed? , How are good citizens made? This is part of the obscure and important -question, where do men get their virtues? From what deep sources are drawn the courage and sacrifice shown in the air, by sca, on land? Where do the inhabitants of, for instance, Bermondsey or Bow, many of them living in intolerable surroundings, learn the -qualities which enable them in peace to be -decent, kindly people, and in war cheerfully to face the ruin of their homes and death from the air? How are such virtues to be preserved and extended? And, on the other hand, whence come our weaknesses and how -shall we cure them - commercialism that sells beauty and debases standards for money, profiteering in every class and rank, partisanship and reckless statements in politics and -outside it, the intellectual’s betrayal of truth? Here are problems deserving inquiry more than many sociological studies, and very relevant to our future.
And again -
Indeed the history of mankind might be described by a cynic as a series of splendid expeditions towards the wrong goal or towards no goal at all, led by men who have all the gifts of leadership except a sense of direction, and every endowment for achieving their -ends, except the knowledge of ends worth achieving. We must npt forget in our education this element, a sense of direction. We do forget it, if we are content that our schools should merely impart knowledge, develop and discipline the intelligence, train character in the narrow sense. They must also be places where the mind is enriched by the right visions and where the ends of life are learned.
As the same distinguished writer points out -
It is possible to achieve peace, material prosperity and abolition of unemployment, and yet ha.ve u civilization oi little value.
All that consideration leads me, quite naturally and quite logically, to a few words on the qualifications, status, and remuneration of teachers. The task of the teacher is one which brings- him for hours every day, for many days, and for a number of years, into close contact with his pupils during their most formative years. It is a task which, if well performed, can do more to produce good citizens than all the acts of Parliament ever passed. It appears, therefore, that of all secular professions, teaching is the most profoundly important. The teacher does the work of making men. The physician and the surgeon can, at best, repair them; the lawyer can, at best, adjust their differences ; and the engineer can, at best, provide them with the means of physical community association; yet, of all these professions, that of teaching is the worst paid, and, broadly speaking, enjoys the least recognition in a social sense. As the years have gone by, we have, more and more - though perhaps not yet sufficiently - insisted upon high qualifications for teachers. The day of the old “ usher “ in some private school* in the time of Dickens, ignorant, brutal, and uninformed, has gone. We are insisting more and more upon higher teaching qualifications. It is relatively commonplace to require the possession of some university degree or diploma; yet’ if we take two young men of equal mental capacity, train one to be a teacher and the other to he a doctor, at the end of the period of training we pay to one three or four times as much as we pay to the other. Is it any wonder that occasionally one hears parents complain that their children are being taught by somebody who is somewhat “ left wing “ in his views, who seems to be discontented or who is filling their minds with ideas which appear to their parents rather disorderly? Of course not.
We must begin to recognize that the task of the teacher is one which requires the qualifications that we demand of other professions, and merits recognition which is equated to those qualifications. A community which was aware of the supreme importance of its educational system woul’d insist upon the highest qualifications for teaching, and would reward those qualifications with adequate remuneration and proper recognition. Our standards, where they exist, seem, all too frequently, to be wrong. For example, .as a Commonwealth, we spend something like £750,000 a year in scientific research; but we are prepared to spend more than three times that sum on free medicine, and that, with great respect to the Government, seems to rae to be starting at the wrong end. The Commonwealth and States together pay in pensions, nearly £40,000,000 a year; they spend on education only approximately one-third of that sum. What sense of values does a community possess which pays three times as much for what r will call - I hope without being misunderstood - social salvage, as it is prepared to spend on the most vital work of social construction? It is not a case for reducing one, but for increasing the other. In Australia we spend about £14,000,000 a year on education. The Commonwealth Statistician was good enough to estimate for me what we spend on amusements, and the amount is £16,250,000.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of Standing Order 1 19 be suspended as would prevent the debate being continued.
– I appreciate the action of the Minister, because I am sure that honorable members agree that we are discussing a most important matter. It is estimated by the statistician that we spend in Australia on drink something like £50,000,000 a year, but our expenditure on education is only £14,000,000 a year. It is not my purpose to criticize any of the items of expenditure to which I have referred. The community can make up its own mind as to its disbursements, in those directions. But I do criti cize our expenditure on education. 1 blame no government. Let us criticize ourselves upon this matter. It is for the community to decide what it will spend on drink or amusement, or, much ‘better, on social services for those who require them ; but, if the same community’s expenditure on education is so miserable that it is out of proportion to its expenditure in other directions, it will give us a rather contemptible place in what we call, broadly, the civilized world.
Now I turn to the position of the Commonwealth with regard to education. There is an agitation in some quarters for the transfer to the Commonwealth of the constitutional power to make laws with respect to education. I do not propose to discuss that, because, in my view, the problem is urgent, and it should not be considered upon the basis of some more or less remote constitutional possibility. After all, education was not included among the subjects referred to the people at the recent referendum, and therefore the constitutional aspect does not at present arise. There is, however, no legal reason why the Commonwealth should not come to the rescue, of the States on the matters that I am discussing. Either by appropriations under section 81 of the Constitution, as to which I agree that there is some constitutional doubt, or by conditioned grants to the States under section 96, as to which there is no constitutional doubt, the Commonwealth could make available substantial sums in aid of educational reform and development. It is inevitable, I think, that that course should be followed, and, thinking so, I have put forward the proposal mentioned at the outset of my speech. I believe that the Commonwealth will, in all probability, be a substantial contributor to educational reform, and, if so, it. is in the interests of the Commonwealth to establish forthwith, in collaboration with the States, a highly competent committee or commission to investigate the problem and submit recommendations. 1 believe that such a body should be composed of highly qualified persons completely detached from party politics, and reinforced by the inclusion of a member or members familiar with developments abroad. We should not be parochial on this matter. We have men and women in this country excellently equipped to sit on such a body, and I think that we could secure the services of somebody from Great Britain and another from the United States of America to reinforce the committee or commission. 1 have said that the Commonwealth must, in my opinion, give aid to the States. Ever since the passage of uniform taxation laws, the States have not been masters in their own financial house. Whatever State Ministers of Education may say about what they would like to do, there is a sharp limit to their available resources. Yet in more States than one there is a burning desire to do something about this matter. I should like to say, in the presence of the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), that no State has a better record with regard to education than Tasmania. The most dramatic and interesting educational experiment made for a long time in Australia has been carried out by the Government of Tasmania in the establishment of area schools. These schools will not only ‘bring immediate advantages to those who attend them, but will also provide a notable piece of educational research. Unless the Commonwealth, no matter which political party is in power, can aid the States financially, only limited objectives will be sought. I have profound distrust of limited objectives on the great and vital problem which we are now considering. If adequate resources are not available to the. States, they will cut their coats according to their cloth, and that should not be allowed to happen. As a nation we cannot afford to do anything less than our best in a campaign the result of which will be to determine whether, in the new world, we are to be a nation of strong, self-reliant, trained and civilized people, or whether we are to be content with second-rate standards, and more devoted to the pursuits of material advantage than to the achievement of a genuine humane community spirit.
– I formally second the motion.
– I welcome this opportunity to discuss the Commonwealth’s responsibilities with regard to education, not only because the Government recognizes the national importance of education, but also because it affords me an opportunity to outline what the Commonwealth has already done, and to state the Government’s policy in this regard. I express my appreciation of the manner in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has introduced this debate. I concur in much of what he has said and I agree with him in toto in his reference to the importance of education in the community. We are prone at times to say that this or that subject is of paramount importance, but in actual fact all of the other problems are secondary to that of better education. We talk about world security and our hopes for the future. Might we not have attained security long ere now if the peoples of all countries had been better educated? And so with every proposal to which we may turn our minds. Eventually, we have to admit the fundamental importance of a better understanding of the problems of life and the problems confronting the different peoples of the world.
Therefore, I agree that education is one of the most important subjects which the national Parliament can discuss. For a considerable period the Government has given close and detailed attention to. this matter. In recent months it has agreed upon a policy which I believe will enable the Commonwealth, in co-operation with the States, to make a real contribution to educational development in Australia. This policy may not be spectacular, but it affords a basis for solid progress. It arises out of discussions which I had with the late Prime Minister at the end of 1943. At my request, Mr. Curtin agreed to the appointment of a committee consisting of senior Commonwealth officers representing all of the’ departments concerned with educational activities. It met throughout the whole of 1944, surveyed the Commonwealth activities in the educational field, and submitted a report for consideration by Cabinet. The report was considered by Cabinet quite recently and certain decisions have been announced since the Leader of the Opposition gave notice of the motion now under consideration.
I shall now review briefly the Commonwealth’s educational activities. I propose, first, to deal generally with the Commonwealth’s interest in educational matters; secondly, to mention some of the significant educational activities in which the Commonwealth has become concerned as the result of the war; and, thirdly, to outline the Government’s policy in relation to education. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, education, apart from some special activities to which I shall refer later, is, under the Constitution, primarily a matter for the States and for certain other bodies. The Commonwealth’s long-term aim is, therefore, to assist full educational development through decentralization of whatever authority it has, and toassist the States to carry out their duties through their own institutions. The extent of the Commonwealth’seducational activities is in fact much wider than is generally recognized. It stands in marked contrast to the belief” that, under the Constitution, the Commonwealth Government has no power or responsibility at all in the educational field. During the financial year 1943-44,.. the Commonwealth made provision for the expenditure of at least £1,400,000 on> education. I have had prepared this table showing details of Commonwealth expenditure on education in 1940-41 and 1943-44-
Sitting suspended from. 12.45 to S.S0 p.m.
– The House will, perhaps, realize the significance of the years I have selected for purposes of comparison. The table shows that in 1943-44 this Government expended on education three times as much as was expended in 1940-41. I cannot give the corresponding figures for the current year; but the total expenditure on education by this Government in 1945-46 will be at least ten times the expenditure in 1940-41. I agree that certain of the expenditure in 1943-44 related to educational activities during the war which had not been begun in 1940-41.
The Commonwealth has found it necessary to arrange for the conduct of educational activities within its own territories. In both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, it has the responsibility of financing and administering whatever educational facilities are provided at public expense. That is the position also in the external territories of the Commonwealth, where the Commonwealth provides schools for European children, as well as a certain degree of assistance for the education of the natives.
It is clear that the development of those territories will involve a much larger Commonwealth expenditure on the education of the native population. I have no doubt that the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) will have something to say on the expansion of educational facilities, and the development of education generally, in his domain. It is evident that, apart from those Territories, the Commonwealth has expended, and will continue to expend, very large sums in the educational field. It must thus incur expenditure in order that the functions of the Commonwealth may be discharged. The nation cannot maintain an efficient public service, defend the country, promote the health of the community, provide adequate broadcasting facilities, and develop and maintain efficiency in primary production, without a large expenditure on education. No government concerned with all the matters I have mentioned can afford to .ignore the importance of this subject. Since the Commonwealth Constitution leaves with the States the power to legislate generally in relation to education, and in view of the fact that prior to and since the inauguration of federation each State has had a welldeveloped education scheme, the Commonwealth, in order to meet its needs, has had to obtain, and, indeed, has obtained, the co-operation of the States. Wherever educational activities have been necessary for the discharge of Commonwealth functions, the Commonwealth has obtained the co-operation of the States. Where the State has provided the necessary conditions and facilities, the Commonwealth has paid in some instances normal fees for those facilities and the instruction afforded. In other instances, the Commonwealth has supplemented existing State facilities, and has met the additional expenditure arising from its own needs. This has been done in respect of, for example, the defence training scheme. Sometimes, also, as in respect of the establishment and maintenance of the School of Public Health and Tropica] Medicine at the University of Sydney, the Commonwealth has provided and maintained the necessary institutions. Prior to and during the war, the Government has been very greatly assisted in its educational activities by the willing help that has been given by the Universities throughout Australia. Apart from the considerable number of men who have enlisted for active service from’ both the Education Departments and the Universities, all of those authorities have most generously made available to the nation the services of experienced and capable officers, who could ill be spared from their normal duties and who have been of the greatest assistance to the Commonwealth.
I pass from the general interest which the Commonwealth has in the education field to its educational activities in relation to the war effort. To traverse all of the field in which Commonwealth educational activity has recently occurred would be a very long task; therefore, I shall content myself with mentioning the most significant of those enterprises’. First, in connexion with defence, the Commonwealth has done these essential things: It has organized, in cooperation with the States, a defence training scheme of dimensions previously unknown in the history of Australia. Under this scheme, more than 100,000 persons have been trained in skilled crafts and occupations, so that, as members of the Defence Forces or while engaged in essential war-time activities, they could make a more effective contribution to the prosecution of the war.
– Is the Minister referring to technical training?
– Not only technical training for munitions workers, hut also training for the skilled technicians required in the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force. This is one of the finest illustrations of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the achievement of a national objective. In addition to providing funds for this training, the Commonwealth has made substantial contributions to the extension of facilities in technical colleges and similar institutions, without which it would have been impossible to carry out this very big scheme. These extensions will certainly be of great value to the community inthe post-war period. Secondly, in order to ensure that a sufficient number of professional men and women will be available for the prosecution of the war, the Commonwealth at the beginning of 1943 set upby means of National Security Regulations, the Universities Commission to organize a war-time scheme of training at a university, and to administer a scheme for providing financial assistance to students who otherwise would have been prevented by limitations of finance from attending universities. When the commission was established, it was hoped that this scheme would encourage many young persons to embark on universities training as a preparation for national service, who otherwise would have found such a course impossible. I believe that the Government has every reason to be satisfied with the record of that scheme of financial assistance during the last two years. I have prepared three tables setting out certain of the salient features of the scheme as ithas operated. They are these -
The first table shows the number of students at the different universities in 1943 and 1944, who were in receipt of financial assistance. The second table shows the expenditure on financial assistance to university students during particular years. The third table is very interesting, in that it shows how widely the assistance was spread over different sections of the community.
– Will the Minister have figures prepared showing the extra amount expended on technical education ?
– They can be provided. Therefore, in the field of tertiary education it can no longer be said -
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
– A flower may bloom, and yet waste its sweetness on the desert air.
– I am speaking purely of facilities for tertiary education. In addition to those activities that are directly associated with the training of skilled technical and professional workers for defence purposes, the Government has found it essential to expend considerable and increasing sums upon educational activities calculated to improve the health of the community. Included in these are pre-school education, physical education, and national fitness. The House is aware that legislation relating to national fitness was passed a few years ago, and that expenditure has- been undertaken by the Commonwealth in that regard. It has been recognized that, in addition to the training for the services, and the technical training that is needed for defence generally, the provision for adult education is essential to enable our fighting men to develop and maintain those intellectual qualities that are vital in active warfare, and that sense of responsibility which results from a knowledge of the nation’s war objectives and an appreciation of the principles for which we are fighting. I am pleased that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made a lengthy reference to that subject. The matter of adult education is still under consideration by the Government. I hope that a decision will be made in the very near future which will satisfy the Parliament and the country at large that the Government is determined that adult education in this country shall proceed very vigorously in the post-war years. In my opinion, it would be a tragedy if the service which has been built up for the education of men in the fighting services, and on which the Commonwealth has expended over £500,000, should be dissipated and allowed to go to waste after the war. In that service we have the nucleus of an adult education scheme, and I hope that I shall have a satisfactory announcement to make in regard to that in the near future. The services’ scheme has provided opportunities for adult education on a scale unprecedented in Australia. In addition to a course of lectures, discussion groups, &c, it provided, in cooperation with technical colleges and universities, valuable correspondence courses for those who hope to return, after the war, to special occupations requiring skill and training. To thousands of men and women these opportunities for resuming studies are definitely related to their post-war occupations. Up to the present time, 60,000 men and women in the fighting services have taken up these correspondence courses and over 4,000 have been enrolled in various universities.
– What range do the correspondence courses cover?
– A very wide range. In fact, I am not aware of any subject that cannot be taught by them. They will provide a valuable introduction to the studies which ex-service personnel will want to undertake, either for the professions at a university or for an industry at a college or technical school. In addition to the correspondence courses, thousands of ex-service men and women are now in training for careers under the post-war reconstruction training scheme, which is covered by the Reestablishment and Employment Act. These ex-service men and women are enrolled in technical colleges and universities and other educational institutions which provide the necessary training.
– Has the Government ever considered increasing the age of trainees beyond the limit of 21?
– The honorable member is now dealing with another matter - training for a particular occupation - for example, an occupation which, prior to enlistment, the trainee had not intended to enter. I dealt with that in answer to a question asked by the honorable member the other day. I pointed out that the facilities available for reconstruction training were limited by the staff and buildings available. If it is possible to extend the age limit from 21 to 22 or 23, or even to a later age, that will be done when facilities become available. It is recognized that, from every point of view, it is better to make the limited training facilities available to persons who were under 21 at the time of enlistment, rather than to older people who have not such a long period of active life ahead of them.
Even the early experience of the reconstruction scheme, which has now been operating for eighteen months, has made it clear that the Commonwealth must be prepared to assist the States and the universities to provide additional educational facilities in order to meet the demands of men and women in the services. This will involve the provision of additional buildings and equipment and the engagement of more staff. Cabinet has just approved of the following further expenditure for reconstruction training needs: - Up to £1,000,000 for extensions and additions to university buildings; up to £1,300,000 for additions and extensions to technical colleges. Some of the technical colleges affected are situated in rural areas, and they will benefit as well as those in metropolitan centres.
– Are any conditions attached to the grants ?
– Will this provision apply to agricultural colleges ?
– Yes, where they form a part of the reconstruction training scheme. Cabinet has authorized the making of a grant of £250,000 for buildings and equipment for textiles colleges and has made a donation of £250,000 worth of machine tools, which will be handed over to the States for use in technical schools. Here, again, some of the tools will be made available to technical schools in rural areas. Over and above these substantial amounts, the Government will make additional advances to the universities to recoup them for training large numbers of service men and women who desire to enter the professions.
It is expected that within three years after the termination of the war, approximately 10,000 persons from the services will be seeking professional training in the universities. In order to provide for their training, in addition to the training of the young students coming forward in the ordinary course of events, additional buildings, equipment and staff will be necessary. It is recognized that the fees received by the universities do not cover the complete cost of tuition. I am told that, On an average, they do not cover more than 50 per cent, of it. In addition to paying the fees of ex-service men and women taking professional courses at the universities, the Government will make a contribution of another £1 for every £1 paid in fees, the total estimated expenditure being £2,000,000. With regard to the University of Western Australia, which does not charge any fees, and also the University of Tasmania, special arrangements have been made. In their case, treatment is somewhat more liberal than in respect of universities in the other States.
– More liberal in the sense that, since they do not charge fees, they will need a larger grant.
– That is so. I understand that the University of Tasmania does charge fees, but that of Western Australia certainly does not. That is the explanation of what the Government ia doing in the field of reconstruction training, and it gives honorable members some idea of the expenditure which the Commonwealth will incur. In another field, the Commonwealth has recognized the importance of rural education as it affects the conditions of rural life generally, and the efficiency of the primary industries. It has decided to appoint a Commonwealth Director of Rural Training who, in co-operation with the State authorities, will set up a system of rural training for ex-service men and women who propose to go on the land. I have now reviewed the Commonwealth’s interest in the field of education, and the particular activities into which it has been drawn because of the war. I proceed from that to the subject of Commonwealth policy regarding education generally.
The Government believes that it ia essential that the Commonwealth should have a recognized authority to advise it on matters of policy in regard to education, and in regard to any action which the Government might wish to take in relation to its own sphere of activities in education, as we’ll as to provide means of co-operation and co-ordination with the States. The Government therefore proposes, as has already been announced, to set up at an early date a Commonwealth Office of Education. I have here a file of press comments made after the announcement was first -given to the public, and it is evident that the Government’s decision has been received favorably in all quarters. I feel certain that the setting up of this office will provide something which has long been lacking in the field of education. The functions of the office will be - (1) To advise the Commonwealth on general educational problems; (2) to organize consultations between the various Commonwealth authorities dealing with particular matters relating to education - for example, the Universities Commission, the Industrial Training Division of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Health, which deals with educational research into health matters, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; (3) to serve as a central point of reference for international contact on educational matters. It will be recognized that education authorities in other countries find it very difficult, in the case of a federation such as ours where powers over education reside in the States, to find a centre of contact representing the whole of the Commonwealth. The setting up of this office ©f education by the Commonwealth will provide a point of contact. [Extension of time granted.]
The Office of Education will provide research, statistics and other information and services which could more appropriately be located at a central office in order to obviate the necessity to gather them from individual States. The Commonwealth will be prepared to consider requests from the States that this office should provide for them any services such as research, statistics, and information which I have mentioned, or any other type of activity which they believe could be provided more conveniently by the central office than by their own educational authorities. As the head of the Office of Education, the Government will appoint a man of outstanding ability and experience, and will provide him. with the necessary staff. By this, the Commonwealth will have the means not only for securing the best advice on all its own. special educational responsibilities, but also for collaborating with, the States and developing their educational activities in relation to the needs of the’ nation as a whole. I am jure that this decision will have the full support of the House and the country, and I look forward to the approval and co-operation of the States in this matter.
I desire to make it clear that the Government does not intend that this Office of Education should take over any of the activities which are being exercised by departments of the Commonwealth, such as those which I mentioned, or any activities in the educational field which are now being undertaken by the State Governments. In addition to setting up the Office of Education, the Government has decided to offer to join the Education Council. Honorable members are aware that there is in existence an Australian “Agricultural Council. That consists of State Ministers of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who is the chairman. In the agricultural field, that council has done excellent work. Many problems of primary production are thrashed out, and many difficulties solved at its meetings. In the education field, there is an Education Council, but it consists merely of State Ministers for Education. The Commonwealth has no representation on it. What the Government proposes to do is to make an offer to the States to join the Education Council, so that the Commonwealth Government shall be represented thereon in the same way as it is represented on the Australian Agricultural Council.
Further, the Government proposes to give effect to two other measures. As was recently announced., the Government has decided to continue the scheme of financial assistance to students of universities and1 technical colleges, and to accept new students under the scheme for a period of five years after the cessation of hostilities. That means that the assistance, in certain cases, will extend to the end of courses. If they are five-year courses, the financial assistance will extend to somewhere about ten years after the cessation of hostilities.
– If students do not commence the courses’ for five years, the Government will still assist them to complete their studies?
– All who commence their courses within five years of the cessation of hostilities will be granted financial assistance until they have completed their courses. Of course, that does not mean that at the end of five years this or another Government may not make a decision to extend the financial assistance for an indefinite period; but in the meantime, the Government has decided to extend this scheme for five years after the cessation of hostilities.
– What is the estimated cost?
– It is difficult to estimate what the actual cost of the scheme will be in the post-war years. Speaking from memory, I believe that it has been about £200,000 during the wai- years. But many more students may desire to obtain financial assistance in the postwar period than in the past. If, on the other hand, we experience a period of great prosperity, the drain on the Treasury may be less than it has been during the war.
– In any case, it is well within the financial and other powers of the Commonwealth.
– Undoubtedly. This scheme for granting financial assistance to students has been administered by the Universities Commission, which was set up under National Security Regulations. The Government has decided to introduce legislation to provide for a continuance of that commission, and that legislation wild give to it a much more permanent status than it has at present. The Universities Commission attends to matters relating to financial assistance to students, and the Government has delegated to it the responsibility of reconstruction training on the professional side. So that apart altogether from the continuance of financial assistance to students, it is necessary that the Universities Commission should continue to exist for the purpose of looking after the professional training side of the reconstruction scheme.
– I understand that it is not the intention to continue the quota system under which students are admitted to the universities at present.
– The Government has no intention of continuing the direction of man-power, so far as university students are concerned, after the cessation of hostilities. That was only a war-time provision, because we could not afford to have too many students studying in faculties which were not related to the prosecution of the war. Our man-power was required for more urgent purposes. That was the sole reason for the introduction of the scheme which limited the number of students who could attend the universities. As soon as that emergency has passed, it is the firm intention of the Government to repeal the regulations dealing with that matter.
– The universities then will determine the number of students that they will accept?
– Yes. Another matter to which the Government has given attention is the establishment of a national university at Canberra. The Government has definitely decided to proceed with that scheme. We hope that this university will not be a duplicate of other universities in the Commonwealth but will be of a distinct type. The undergraduate university college will be continued as at present, and it is considered that we should set up, as a part of the Canberra University, post-graduate schools providing for research activities in fields of special importance to Australia. I hope to be able to make a more detailed statement about that matter in the near future ; but the Government does consider that Australia should have, as soon as possible, a national university in the- Australian Capital Territory.
– Of course, the Government will have to erect buildings for the university.
– That is so. The Leader of the Opposition may be particularly interested to hear that it has been suggested to me that, because the Commonwealth Government has no powers in relation to education, it might not have the power to establish a university with authority to confer degrees. I do not know whether that constitutional point has occurred to the Leader of the Opposition.
– I hope that it never will.
– If a constitutional problem of that kind does arise, perhaps the right honorable gentleman will assist me to overcome it.
– I shall, with the greatest pleasure.
– In addition to all these other activities of the Commonwealth in relation to education, we have been interested for many years in research. This is a particular form of education activity of the highest importance. Apart altogether from the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, funds have been made available by the Commonwealth Government for research at universities into the physical and social sciences, and also for medical research. The present annual expenditure on these various forms of research is about £60,000. The Government is now examining the possibility of increasing that amount. During the last two years the Government has made an annual grant of £5,000 to the Council for Educational Research.
Summing up, the Government’s policy provides for the establishment of a Commonwealth Office of Education; for legislation to place the Universities Commission on a more permanent basis; and for grants to universities to meet the costs of buildings, and additional facilities and expenditure connected with the reconstruction training scheme. It provides for extensions to technical colleges, for the establishment of a national university at Canberra, for the encouragement of adult education, and for the stimulation and development of scientific research in all fields. This is a most impressive record of progress ‘by the Commonwealth Government in the education (field during the last three years. I believe that the House will appreciate the progress that has been made, and commend the Government on the policy that I have outlined for the future.
I have not yet dealt with two subjects in the motion. The first is the matter of qualifications, status and remuneration of school teachers, and the second is the proposal for a commission to report on existing education facilities in Australia. Whilst I fully recognize the importance of the teaching profession, I consider that matters relating to the qualifications, status, and remuneration of school teachers are ones essentially for the States. Through their departments of education, tie States employ the great majority of teachers in Australia.
– The matter could be dealt with by the Education Council.
– That is true.
– If the Commonweath proposes to expend money on education it should surely express its opinion in a very definite manner about the shameful remuneration of school teachers.
– I agree with the right honorable gentleman, but that matter could be examined through some of the instrumentalities, which the Government has in mind, such as the Office of Education or the Australian
Education Council, if the existing body should be expanded by the addition of a representative of the Commonwealth Government. That would make it an Australian body, instead of merely an Education Council, as it is known at the present time.
– That would be the only course open to the Commonwealth.
– Yes. Regarding the training of teachers, I had consultations with the State Ministers for Education at a meeting of the Education Council in Adelaide not long ago, and I hope soon to be able to announce the terms of an agreement which we have reached with the States in connexion with all aspects of the training of teachers under the reconstruction training scheme. Regarding the proposal for a commission on education, I am again of opinion that this matter should be dealt with in consultation with the States.
– That is why I suggested that the Commonwealth should do it in co-operation with the States.
– The Commonwealth is setting up a body to be called the Office of Education, and is making an offer to the States to join the Education Council. [Further extension of time granted.]
Such matters as the status, remuneration and conditions of school teachers and the granting of assistance to the States to carry out education programmes, should, properly speaking, be brought to the Commonwealth either through the Office of Education or through the Australian Education Council. It would be useless to appoint a royal commission to inquire into a matter such as this when, as everybody knows, the difficulties involved relate to conflicts of opinion between the States and the Commonwealth. These problems can be solved only by consultation between the State and Commonwealth education authorities’. They cannot be solved” by any educational expert who has no knowledge of the difficulties arising in relations between the States and the Commonwealth. For that reason, I cannot accept the motion of the Leader of the Opposition, and I ask the House to reject it. The goal which the Government has in view is identical with that envisaged by the
Leader of the Opposition, but the Government proposes to reach that goal by a method different from that proposed by the right honorable gentleman. We are indebted to him for having raised this matter, and, even though I propose to reject the motion, I congratulate him on his approach to the subject. With his co-operation, and by the method which the Government proposes, we should be able to achieve much in the field of education and to ensure continued progress in the future.
.- I congratulate both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) upon the way in which they have dealt with this very important problem. I shall make only a few additional observations. It is a good thing that this subject has been raised, because if democracy is to survive, the people must be taught to understand the problems of democracy. For this reason alone, I am glad that the Commonwealth is playing an increasingly important part in education and proposes to continue to widen the sphere of its influence. There is a great danger of the overcentralization of education, and if the Commonwealth expands its activities, as I hope it will do, there will be a tendency further to standardize curricula in primary, secondary, and tertiary education. I hope that this danger will be realized and avoided. Sociological studies are a vital part of the education systems of modern countries. The minds of young children can easily be indoctrinated with social theories. We need not look beyond Australia to find evidence of that. People who are anxious to institute “some form of society different from our existing system seek to advance their cause by the indoctrination of children’s minds at an early age. There is far too much standardization of State education. Every child is obliged to follow a certain curriculum, and is required to pass set examinations. We are more concerned with teaching for specific purposes than with inculcating in each child the fundamentally important ability to think intelligently. As children grow up to manhood and womanhood they do not depend very much on what they learn at school. Such knowledge as they have gained may help them in the avocations which they choose, but the capacity to think clearly for themselves is essential if they are to play an important part in the conduct of national affairs. I hope that, this fact will be borne in mind in the formulation of plans for education.
I agree with the interjection of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), that, if the Commonwealth makes money available for education it must indicate very clearly how that money is to be used. It cannot be denied that money is needed by the States for education. From my association with the University of Sydney, I know that that institution is lamentably short of equipment. In other States, the standard of education is even lower than in New South Wales, owing to lack of funds. It should be the function of the Commonwealth to equalize educational facilities throughout the Commonwealth. Also, it should take action to raise the status of teachers. This is an important matter. T cannot see how any plan of education can be worthwhile unless the men and women who are called upon to mould the minds of young people are required to have the highest qualifications and are adequately remunerated. It is idle to imagine that we shall have a satisfactory education system unless our teachers are properly trained to communicate to both children and adults the fundamental requirements of clear thinking and principles of proper conduct. We must teach our rising generations to be good citizens. For some time past, efforts have been made to include courses of sociological studies in the curricula, of the University of Sydney. This form of education is of great importance in a democracy. The average member of this House, no matter what his past training has been, has had little opportunity to gain knowledge of the sociological and economic problems of the country. It is necessary for us, from day to day, to conduct research on our own behalf. It is even more difficult for the average citizen to gain any understanding of the problems upon which they are called to give decisions at elections and on other occasions. If democracy means anything, it must mean that people in a democracy should have the power to understand their nation’s problems so that they will not he misled, as they have been misled in the past, by the catch-cries of political parties. They should be able to understand the economic and social factors involved in governing their country and in international relations. These factors have a direct bearing upon their personal lives and those of their children. Therefore, whilst I applaud the programme which the Government has prepared, I contend that it is not adequate. The university to be established in Canberra - and I hope it will be established soon - should give a lead in these vital matters. 1 was educated at a State school, and went from there to a university. I have been impressed ‘by the overwhelmingly material aspect of education. It is not sufficient merely to teach children history and the fundamental things which we all have learned. It is of vital imiportance to teach them also to appreciate personal and’ spiritual values. If this country is to achieve the greatness for which we all hope, we must place greater emphasis upon the spiritual and personal values of living. For these reasons, I hope that special attention will be paid, in the new university at Canberra, to teaching our young men and women to be good citizens. That is of the very essence of education. Unless they become good citizens, it will matter very little whether they become good doctors, journeymen, labourers, or legislators. They cannot properly fill their places in the community unless they understand their duties to the country. There has been far too much standardization of education, and far too much emphasis has been placed upon the importance of young boys and girls reaching certain set educational standards. Having had some experience of the examination system, I know how easy it is for people with a special aptitude, such as a photographic memory, to pass examinations whilst others who have greater personal qualities are unable to make satisfactory progress. I should like to see closer personal contact between teachers and students in the primary, secondary, and tertiary stages of education. This would develop the personal qualities of the students, and would not tend so much to cast them in the one mould.
I desire to emphasize by repetition that one of the main problems of every democracy is the over-standardization of education. I am glad to hear that the Government does not propose to encourage this. I assume that it proposes to co-ordinate the problems of education and to resolve them by decentralizing th« teaching of children. I should like to see even the States broken up into smaller areas for the purposes of education so that children may receive special instruction in matters relating to their own areas. Children who show special aptitude for tertiary education should be directed to . universities, such as the University of New England, which should be established outside the capital cities. “When I visited Tasmania I was greatly impressed with the area school system operating in that State. It is important to teach young children to grow up as good citizens in the districts where they have been born. One of the sorriest features of education in New South “Wale? is that little attention is paid to thi; fact. The same curriculum is used in Bourke as in Sydney. That will not do. If we desire our people to be satisfied in the community in which they grow up, they must be taught the special problems of their respective districts. That has been shown in Tasmania, and also in the United States of America. In visiting America one is impressed by the way in which the people co-operate with the educational authorities for the purpose of developing interests which are of importance, first, in stabilizing the people in the places where they live, and then in turning their aptitudes to the economic problems of their areas. It was left to Tasmania, whose population is not greater than that on the north side of Sydney Harbour, to give a lead to Australia in that direction. ,We cannot expect young boys in outlying country districts . to be satisfied with the education they are receiving at present. The average schools in country areas are of a poor type, and seem to have been cast in one mould, with no suitable background for children. Tasmania, instead of having numerous small schools in a- country district, has one large school to serve a considerable area, and the children are transported to and from school morning and night. They are taught to grow up as good and useful citizens in that area. Young people are taught in these schools the arts of husbandry, and frequently they are able to instruct their parents. That shows how important it is that the students should be educated in matters which affect their particular areas.
– ‘Children in Tasmanian country districts are instructed in practical matters such as fruit-packing.
– Yes. I hope that that system will be extended throughout i he Commonwealth. Country people suffer from many limitations, and one of the greatest is inadequate education. [ rose chiefly to draw attention to the necessity for giving attention to the general needs of the community in the matter of education. The specialized education provided by the universities touches only a few of the people, and the secondary education given in the major schools benefits only a limited number. Education should be chiefly -directed to the people as they are spread throughout the Commonwealth. ‘We should teach them to live as good citizens in their own areas, and in that way we could do more good than is done at present by tertiary education. I stress the necessity for the decentralization of teaching and for raising die status of teachers. Whatever may happen to Australia regarding its social set-up, which must be determined by the people themselves, it is of paramount importance that they be educated to understand what their determination involves. I urge the Government not to place too much emphasis on tertiary education, but to get down to general principles and disseminate education throughout the length and breadth of Australia to people who are not able to find their way to the universities, but who wish to live in such a way that they may make their contribution to good citizenship.
.-I would lay emphasis on certain aspects of postwar education, particularly in relation to those members of the fighting forces who are serving abroad. War carries with it certain biological problems associated with psychological stress. People who go to war for years, and whose lives have been endangered in the heat of battle, are psychologically disturbed to a point not usually seen in the citizen who leads a normal life. We must take into consideration this peculiar psychological state in which_ ex-servicemen will be found. Unless we have educators in future fully appreciative of the significance of war stress upon the stability of those who will require education in the post-war period, we shall have another series of educational tragedies. Those who have been subjected to the stresses of war will be found to be not normal as to receptivity and community behaviour, so we must pay attention to the kind of education required for a special class in the community which has been created by the exigencies of war. Whilst we must pay attention to the problem in relation to the individual, we must not overlook another aspect of the problem. If ex-service personnel are to be eventually employed, a great difference will be found by employers in their general attitude to life, and the employer will have to be educated to show a considerable amount of forbearance. Children go to schools until they reach a certain age, and leave school to take up various avocations in life. They go to work and leave their jobs at given hours. They must indulge in certain social, industrial or commercial activities in order to hold down their jobs. Life for them has a certain rhythm to which they must respond. When our sailors, soldiers and airmen ought to have been learning this social rhythm, they were uprooted from society, and they found themselves in an entirely different sphere where their life was endangered every hour and minute of the day. The longer the war lasts the greater will the psychological problem become, so I hope that the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) will not only pay a considerable amount of attention to the psychological improvement of persons requiring education, but also have employers educated to appreciate the peculiar changes that servicemen have undergone through the stress of war.
Having had the advantage of a university education, I have not always been satisfied with the contribution which the universities have made with regard to educational problems. It is all very well to talk about improving our educational facilities and our approach to the problems of education. That is quito a proper consideration, but what are the facts? In the great majority of homes an educational atmosphere does not prevail. In consequence there is a continual conflict between the school and the home. That is axiomatic. Our university education, I regret to say, has not come up to expectations. We have the spectacle of many people urgently desiring higher education, but no facilities are available to them. I cannot imagine anything more serious than for young folk with such desires to be frustrated at every turn. I am not convinced that the universities could not have done very much better than they have. I believe they could have utilized a great many of the extra-mural facilities for the dissemination of education to the great advantage of the Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister have both painted first-class pictures of the problems confronting us, but of what use is high-brow education designed to improve the human race, if the rest of the world will indulge in jungle war? Is that not where we found ourselves at the beginning of this war, and where Great Britain and the United States of America found themselves in relation to Germany ? Germany concentrated on education for war, whilst Britain concentrated on education for peace. These are indisputable facts. By the greatest unexplained miracle of all ages, we have managed to emerge from this war successfully.
When I was last in Berlin, I saw a class of girls aged thirteen years being taught the English language, not so much out of school books as from a utilitarian point of view. I walked into a classroom, and the first thing I was asked to do was to speak English slowly. In my youth I was taught French and Latin to the leaving standard, but when I went to France I do not think I could say even “ Good morning “ in French. We should take a utilitarian view of the whole educational set-up. If we concentrate on our own system to the exclusion of every other method, we shall find ourselves on the edge of the same political abyss as we faced in 1939. This morning the Minister made a magnificent speech setting forth the objectives of education, but men have said the same thing for the last five centuries. We are not entering a new era of education. It is true that there has been more scientific education in the last few years than there was before, but socially we have stood still. To-day, man is, I believe, more cruel than he was ever before in the history of the world. When historians write of the first half of the twentieth century, and have to record that it was ushered in by the needless destruction of 100,000,000 souls, what will posterity think of us? And yet we walk about with our noses in the air and call ourselves civilized beings ! Oh yes, I know ; we have all the answers ; it was always the other fellow’s fault. By this attitude we pander to our ego, but the fact remains that, during the first 50 years of the century, we needlessly destroyed 100,000,000 lives, to say nothing of the destruction of almost everything that civilization has stood for. If we cannot do better than that in future we are wasting our breath here this afternoon. The problems are not wholly economics - they are social and scientific as well. If we do not wake up, the children of to-day will not be living under the Australian flag- at the end of the century. On several occasions I have drawn the attention of honorable members to present-day population trends, and I believe that they are beginning to realize that, however much we may differ regarding methods, the problem is a very real one, and it must be solved.
We have been very frugal in our approach to the problem of education. The Minister gave a very fine survey of what has been done and is contemplated by the Commonwealth, but when he came to the vital issue of what we must contribute to those who mould the intellect of the nation, he said that it was a matter for the States. I believe that it is a matter for every one to consider. We cannot expect a high standard of education until we pay adequately the men and women who “ deliver the goods “. I hope that an attempt will be made in this Parliament to bring about an improvement of the remuneration of school teachers. As one who holds degrees from several universities I am not by any means satisfied that higher education is to be found only in universities. I am not at all satisfied that, having turned a man out with a university degree, we have turned out even a civilized being. I served for over ten years on a university council, and I know that the greatest bigots, the greatest hypocrites, and the most prejudiced people I have ever had anything to do with were those who held the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts. God save us from the like! Education will need to be placed on an entirely new footing before I can be satisfied with it. People say to us, “ Look what we have done. We have produced aeroplanes, and telephones, and radio “. Yes, but we have also produced the means to exterminate men and women more quickly than it was ever possible to do before. I agree with the Minister that the artisan can be educated to think just as logically as the product of a university. This is a problem which faces not the Commonwealth Government or the States only, but the people of the whole world.
I see no sign of the eradication of the instinct for war among our people. If we want to improve matters, we must put our own House in order, and then try to get the world, generally, to take up the matter on a rational basis, entirely different from anything done in the past. When I passed my examinations at the university I have to admit that, from a worldly point of view, I did not know much more than an aboriginal. I could pass examinations all right. I think I took first place ten times out of twelve. At the university I acquired a background, but I did not get my education from professors. I got it through my own diligence and concentration, and I think that applies to every one. The university gives a man a background, and the rest he must supply for himself. All we need to do is to provide wider facilities for education, to provide means so that the people may educate them selves. We do not want to teach people scholasticism. I can quote for hours from the classics, and I have not read them for 30 years, but that does not prove that I arn’ intelligent. The only kind of education we want is education in the humanities - the material problems affecting the lives and comfort and wellbeing of human beings.
– That will not be found in universities.
– No, it is to be found in the hard school of life. The Minister referred to sociological education. The only way you can learn sociology is to rub your nose in the mud, get the smell of it, and then try to get yourself and the other fellow out of the mud. I was educated abroad, and made up my mind that a great thing to bind our Empire together would be a uniform standard of higher education. I believed that if we had reciprocal standards with other peoples of the Empire similar to ourselves it must be for the good of the British Commonwealth. With that object in view I brought up the matter at a universities conference. The lay people at the conference-r-who were the only ones capable of thinking - agreed that such a scheme would provide another link to bind together the various parts of the Empire. The idea was that students of good fame might go forth from Sydney to Montreal or London or Capetown, and be received there. To my amazement, all the objections came from the professorial members of the conference - those people for whom we send in every crisis, and whose theories result in getting us deeper into the mire. I was told that we in Australia could not teach according to the standards of other countries; yet in the practical field, I understand that no nation - having regard to our isolation, our geographical features, and the distances between capital cities, has made a better war effort than Australia with its 7,000,000 people. Education is a matter of adaptability, and native ability plays a large part. The real background of education is not scholastic, but lies in public health. If people are healthy, if they have had a good home life, if they have been brought up to appreciate principles of sportsmanship, they have already learned a great deal. Some of the most capable men Australia has produced never went through a university. Too much attention is paid to the academic side of education, and not enough to the practical side.
I do not oppose any of the proposals advanced by the Minister. He cannot go far enough in the direction of scientific training. No matter how far he goes he will always find me in front of him, but I regret to hear that the Commonwealth proposes to stop short. I like the idea of setting up an Office of Education to co-ordinate authorities, State and Commonwealth, but I think we should go farther. Reference has been made to the need for a national university at Canberra. I made such a suggestion a couple of years ago, and I would go farther now. I would give the whole of Canberra over to a national university, and transfer the Parliament somewhere else. I believe that the prime purpose in the establishment of the seat of government at Canberra was that there should be no lobbying; in other words, that the public servants and politicians should be left in this jungle, the atmosphere of which is conducive to pneumonia - from which, I understand1, three honorable members are now suffering - in ignorance of anything that would tend to enlighten them as to the other person’s point of view. I claim that we should be “ lobbied out of sight “, so that we might learn something of other viewpoints. The only chance we have to retain our democratic instincts - if we have any - is to establish ourselves where there is a big population, by whom we can be lobbied, and so learn what is happening in the world outside. I refuse to believe that intellectualism can thrive in a community which requires that a person earning £2,000 a year must live in one locality and a person on £1,000 a year in another locality, lt is time such practices were discarded. We ought to give Canberra away, lock, stock, and barrel. The best use to which this chamber could be put would be that of a lecture hall, for the enlightenment of students on intellectual subjects. The lecturer would have my blessing. We ought to be located where we can feel the pulse of Australian public opinion, and respond to all the conflicting interests that exist at the present time. There is growing up in our community complete hostility to the parliamentary system. That has been fostered by the press, which I regard as the only educational medium that adults have. The public to-day are far more interested in newspaper abuse of the parliamentarian, who taxes them and does everything detrimental to them. They believe that all their ills have their genesis in this legislature. That belief has been deliberately fostered, to the detriment of the parliamentary system, and the time will come when the people will pay for it.
It is rather tragic that we have not a uniform standard of entrance to universities throughout Australia. It is also unfortunate that we have not, within the realms of flexibility, some degree of uniformity in relation to curriculum, and that there is not much more reciprocity between the different Australian universities. We should also have made far more use of our technical institutions, as constituent colleges of our university education. Ear more people should be encouraged to assume higher degrees. To me, these are the very essentials of the subject-matter which binds us together as a people. Agreements ought to be made with other parts of the Empire, so that any, say, second-year engineering student at an Australian university, could complete hig course at a university in Manchester, Birmingham;, Montreal, or Vancouver. These are functions that cannot be carried out by the States, but belong entirely to the central Parliament. The sooner this Parliament has referred to it hy the States the power to deal with such propositions, the better will it be for the British Commonwealth of Nations.
I have discussed only one aspect of the matter. Whatever -scientific achievements have been in the past, they will be increased tenfold within the next half a century. Machinery must be set up that will enable us to adapt ourselves to the changing circumstances, if not of a. new political order then of a new scientific order. When the scientific achievements of this war are applied to the community as a whole, great material advancement will be made.
That, in itself, obligates the establishment by the Commonwealth Parliament of a machine which will enable this country to keep abreast of world affairs. A population of 7,000,000 persons cannot be expected to advance scientifically at the same rate as one of 150,000,000 elsewhere. But we can apply the scientific achievements of others to our economy. A tremendous duty will devolve upon the Commonwealth Parliament in the future, to co-ordinate activities and developments in our own country in every branch of science - rural, industrial, educational, and public health - because, in the final analysis, the States will not apply themselves to national problems, but will deal only with problems that peculiarly affect themselves.
I was very interested in the remarks of ray right honorable friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) this morning. Not only did he make a remarkable contribution to the cause of education in this country, but in doing so he appeared to discard that “coat of mail “ which has seemed politically to frustrate him, and to march out into the realm of Labour, with a bold stride that I had not previously seen him use. He was all the better for having escaped for a time from his political frustration. His approach to the subject was different from that which he usually employs; in other words, he did not seem to “ pull his punches “, as he has done in the past. I congratulate him on that account. A few more marches into the realms of Labour would be beneficial to his political wellbeing and helpful to the cause which we on this side of the House espouse. I hope that very often in the future my right honorable friend may be able to relax intellectually as he relaxed this morning.
.- I support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), but should like it to go farther. I am completely in favour of a qualified commission which would ensure’ the most comprehensive consideration of this subject. Yet there ure many other things which should first bo done, and as speedily as possible. I was interested in the suggestion of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) concerning an Office of Education, but would prefer a Commonwealth Minister for Education who could be specifically responsible for this problem. He would be kept fully employed. Before the war there was considerable need for an extension of educational activity and Commonwealth aid. The circumstances of the war have enormously heightened that need. In America, where a very wide survey of the whole position has been made, it is estimated that there will be more than 50 per cent, additional students in colleges and universities as a result of the absence of young American soldiers from their courses for three years, compared with the peak period at any other time in the country’s history. Our problem is greater, because we have been in the Avar for a longer period. Therefore, action must be taken immediately. Many necessities are being revealed. At first, they did not seem to matter much, but as time goes on they are becoming much more evident and pressing. Larger staffs of teachers, lecturers and professors are needed to handle the different subjects. The highest talent, and the greatest number of men, can be secured only by offering adequate rewards. No other touch-stone will attract men. Many persons have a flair for teaching. They should not, on that account, be condemned to an inferior status compared with other professional men, but should be paid what is commensurate with their educational standing. If one reviews the position that existed 50 years ago, one realizes that there has been a complete change in the intervening years. When I was a boy most families considered that a young lad who became a teacher bettered his condition, relative to that of other members of the family who engaged in other occupations. But to-day, in cities and country districts, the prizes for men of equal ability are very much greater in commerce, industry and the professions than are those which are available to teachers. We must ensure a marked improvement of the rates of pay and’ conditions of teachers. That can be done immediately in two ways - by the States which have control of education being given general financial aid, or by the Commonwealth taking over certain educational activities which the States find are too onerous.
The adoption of either of those courses, or of both, would so lighten the burden on the budgets of the States that teachers would be able to secure proper salaries and living conditions, and in addition greater provision could be made for the new buildings, laboratories and lecture rooms that are urgently needed. The student quotas imposed by the universities in connexion with different faculties are determined, in the last analysis, by the lack of laboratory equipment, buildings and teaching staff. If any progress is to be made, a considerable expenditure must be incurred as early as possible. One of the reasons why I am participating in this debate is to urge the Minister, who has very great authority in these matters, to grant the highest priorities to man-power and materials required for these buildings. If we do not tackle the problem immediately this matter will cause extraordinary difficulty in Australia. The lag in our education system which was evident before the outbreak of war will be accentuated when the necessity to re-train ex-servicemen arises. Many of them were only boys when they joined the services, and had only halfcompleted their training. Consequently, a considerable burden will be imposed upon the education services of this country.
The future economic life of Australia depends upon our ability to preserve our place in the march of specialization. Undoubtedly, every country must attain a much higher technology in future in order to enable it to survive in competition with other nations, to raise the standard of living of its people, and to increase the total output of goods so that the purchasing power of wages may be maintained. Technical standards in our secondary industries must be greatly improved, and that will require special provision. This problem may be dealt with in various ways. Certain measures which were taken by the Commonwealth before the war could be expanded considerably. Years ago. the Commonwealth established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and created a trust fund to ensure that research students could be trained for special work. After they had completed their training in the most suitable places, they were guaranteed employment in Australia for ten, fifteen or twenty years. Those scientists have conferred a great benefit on Australia. They have been able to help and inspire various State departments engaged in scientific work, and have come within striking distance of solving many of our great problems. For example, their experiments to eradicate prickly pear were successful, and thereby saved the country at least £40,000,000. Before the destruction of the prickly pear, Australia did not have the use of that immense amount of capital, so we can well afford to allocate a substantial sum to promote scientific research. Fifteen or twenty years ago, the Commonwealth established in the Sydney University a Chair of Anthropology, and that has assisted a general study of this subject, and facilitated the training of men who, because of their background, are able to administer much more satisfactorily the territories of the Commonwealth in which native populations must be cared for. The Commonwealth also established the School of Tropical Medicine, and the School of Aeronautics, ‘ and provided necessary equipment in the Sydney and Melbourne Universities. That form of assistance should be continued.
The schools I have mentioned were created in various universities to serve the requirements of the whole of Australia, and the time has now come to establish a school or faculty of rural economy. The rural industries of Australia will encounter extraordinarily severe competition when they attempt to regain their former markets, and obtain new ones. In the New England University College at Armidale, in New South “Wales, there is an excellent opportunity to create this faculty, and students from all parts of Australia could be trained there. Many more students are required for the faculties of agricultural science and veterinary science. If the large majority of Australian farmers could have a scientific background in addition to practical experience, many mistakes that have been made in primary production would not recur. The Commonwealth Government could, with advantage, grant substantial assistance in those matters.
The Commonwealth should also promote technical training throughout the country. If Australians are to develop their knowledge of mechanical arts, firstclass men, not half-trained persons, must engage in the work. The proper place for those men to be trained is in schools adjacent to their homes. That will solve the problem of housing, and enable them to study for several years longer than they would if they were obliged to seek board and lodgings some distance from their homes. Because of that, the Commonwealth Government should be prepared to assist the extension on the widest possible basis of technical training facilities in large country towns.
Yesterday, this House debated the Australian National Airlines Bill. Regardless of whether aviation in Australia should be a nationalized monopoly or conducted by private enterprise, we undoubtedly need many men who have been trained to deal with every aspect of aviation. The important thing is that they should be trained in schools close to their homes. To reduce flying risks, many aerodromes must be constructed, and they should be situated not more than 30 or 40 miles apart. Those aerodromes, with their facilities, would provide an excellent opportunity to train boys, while they are living at home, to fly and at the same time get technical training in their own towns. Their education would be more thorough than if they were learning to fly at crowded aerodromes near the large cities, and had to travel long distances to the centre where they received their technical instruction.
Conditions of Australian education have changed completely during the last few years. Australians must be given a wider training to enable them to take their full share in the international sphere. Owing to the annihilation of space and time through the introduction of radio and aircraft, our people cannot afford to live any longer in a state of mental isolation. They must have the means to form a judgment, not only on local and domestic affairs, but also on international relationships. They must be able to cast an intelligent vote on these matters, and before they will be able to do so, they must have the requisite training. Beginning in their youth, that training must continue even after they reach adulthood. For this purpose, the Government should provide school libraries which would have some association with the civic life of the community. The Commonwealth should co-operate with the States to ensure that every district shall have a library attached to the school, and the library facilities should be available, not only to the children, but also to the adults. Whether we like it or not, international problems will force themselves more and more upon our notice as the years pass, and we must be able to tackle many problems with which, in the past, we have been afraid to deal. The people did not understand them. We could not persuade them to think about or discuss those problems, because when they were young, they did not get the necessary background. Regarding the taste for reading and the continuation into adult life of the faculty for study, I believe that the thirst for knowledge must be inculcated in young people. We may not be able to improve the minds of the present generation, because their tastes have been formed, but we can make an impression on the younger folk by training them to appreciate all the factors which make up the life of the world.
Another matter of extraordinary importance, with which the Government should deal immediately, touches more intimately the lives of country people in Australia. Honorable members would be surprised if they knew the number of small country schools which, because of the shortage of teaching staff, have been closed during the last four or five years. A vicious circle is thus created. A small country school may have 20 or 25 pupils, but a teacher may not be available for some time. During that period, two or three families may leave the district and after a while, the locality is unable to supply the minimum number of ten pupils which the department requires before it will provide a teacher. At that stage, other families may leave, and food-producing industries in the district are destitute of
I refer now to the necessity for establishing new universities, at which particular attention will be given to the personal tuition of students. Such universities should be encouraged, while maintaining a high standard of education, to restrict enrolments so that individual attention may be given to students. Ex-servicemen will create a special post-war education problem, and their needs can best be met in such establishments as these. The first essential to achieve this end is money for their establishment, equipment, and
.- The problems of education relate mainly to the average man - the man with a family. Therefore, the wide range of discussion to-day indicates that, for once, political thought is at least abreast, if not ahead, of the thoughts of the people in relation to education. The challenge often flung at the politician is that he lags behind popular thought. We encounter instances of this at election times. However, it appears that all members of this House are aware of our education problems, particularly those which will arise in the post-war period. It is nice to be able to say in all sincerity that a speech made from the opposite side of the chamber has evoked great pleasure. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) pleased me, because of his exposition of education problems, without cynicism and with good Australianism. I was equally pleased with the speech of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who dealt with the practical aspect of education as it affected the Commonwealth Government. Nevertheless, we must deal with a wider problem than that of preparing a balance-sheet and saying that this represents what the Commonwealth has done to advance education. That is not enough. Macaulay. the essayist, said -
Every trace of intellectual cultivation is in this country except the harvest.
He referred specifically to England, but the comment is appropriate to Australia. Australians, who have been told for many years that many millions of pounds are spent annually on education, are asking us, “ What of the harvest? “ The harvest is the future of their children. Upon examination we find that there have been periods of drought and also of erosion of the education landscape, so that our schemes have not always succeeded. The people who are producing the race of the future are wondering where the difficulties lie and what can be done to overcome them. It appears to me, after devoting considerable thought to the matter, that the problem is one not of finance but of planning. We must accept a general idea of the real meaning of education and our objectives in regard to education. One honorable member, a medical man with a BA. and other degrees, sneered at university degrees as having created something monstrous in the community. That is an inverted form of snobbery which we must endeavour to correct. If little Miss Murgatroyd wants to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree so that her name will appear prominently in the social columns of the Sunday newspapers, we must tolerate her because we can do nothing about it. Although it may cost Australians only 4d.. per head annually to maintain our universities, our drinking bill amounts to £7 a head. Therefore, when we hear somebody say, “ I was reared in the university of hard knocks “, we should realize that it is a much dearer education than the classical academic education for young ladies and gentlemen. We must not confuse education with social snobbery. The problem which is worrying most people is the question of what will happen to their children. They want to know how they can educate them to the greatest advantage.
I shall deal first with the university. The university as we know it to-day has departed from the original standard, which was one of study. It was called, in the old state, a “studium “, but from what we read in the newspapers to-day, our universities might well be known as “ stadiums “. The university, in its original form, consisted of a number of men who met together for the purpose of making certain studies. They paid a professor - we are getting back to the same point now. and politically we are paying the professor - and if the professor was late in attendance or if he was late in producing a good argument, he was fined. This loose aggregation of men. with an idea in their minds to build up an industry of thought, ‘collected tutors around them. Eventually this business of going to the studium became so important that big buildings were erected and dons, beadles and all the other etceteras of higher education came into being.
The original simple proposition was to go to a university in order to study things which were not connected with the technical side of life. One went to the university to learn to think. It was a place where a man was expected to have some revolutionary thought. That was the important thing about universities. To-day they have been degraded to the point where they are nothing but plush-lined technical colleges, and whilst we can produce plenty of good lawyers, doctors and anthropologists, we are not producing the quota of first-rate thinkers that our universities should turn out. The university is the highest institution of education, where men should meet to study. It is a place where revolutionary thinking should be encouraged so that men may make a scientific approach to intellectual problems as a scientist approaches the average chemical proposition or statement of physics. The scientist considers whether the proposition he is investigating is right, and he then systematically endeavours by all means at his disposal to prove it to be wrong. The thinker does the same thing with the mechanics of the mind. He creates a revolution of the mind. Universities have turned out great thinkers such as Darwin, Bacon, Faraday, with his electrical experiments, and Karl Marx, with his experiments in social philosophy.Thosepeopleweretrueproductsoftheuniversity,andtheirservices to the community were very valuable. They changed the course of our thinking and altered the world outlook. Of course, they had extreme talents and in any case would have made their way to the top by the ingenuity of their minds. However, the aggregation of men who have been taught to think in universities has caused more progress than all the products of technical colleges can ever cause. The thoughtful man of the university should be left to his theories and to those studies which bring great benefit to humanity. Most of the leading figures of the world have had some contact with universities or some specialized knowledge which has made them more aware of the problems discussed in universities than those institutionsthemselves. It is important in this age to learn to think. A recasting of the school studies is necessary, and less emphasis will have to be laid on the purely technical side of education. The planners are always creating new words, and one that has come into use of late is “ tertiary “ education. What it means I shall leave on the lexicographers. In any case, I believe that they will scorn the new word. We need the conflict of men’s minds which takes place in the universities, but there might be some intermediate place for the conferring of degrees and the training of technicians, including professional men. More and more the universities tend to become technical. We find that the individual who takes specialized studies becomes only a specialist, and beyond that he is not prepared to engage in research into the mysteries of life, apart from that involved in his own particular calling. There should he an intermediate form of university for technicians, and then we should have our technicians and professional men in an institution attached to the parent body, the university itself reverting to its old classic status.
Now I turn to the education of the people themselves. In the early history of this country education was almost a fetish. Every effort was made by families, no matter how poor or isolated, to give to their children some training. We hear about pre-school education, and it is rolled up to us as if it were something new; but it was practised at the firesides of the people in the days of the pioneers, and it was the foundation of much solid education and the development of sound men and women. Once money came to be expended on education, and not on the acquisition of human knowledge, I think the deterioration set in. We have now come to the point where we can make a brave showing so far as expenditure is concerned, but we have given a poor exhibition with regard to the effect of education on the community. It is a matter, not of money, but of method. One of our greatest problems arises in connexion with the rehabilitation and training of exservicemen. They are taught, perhaps, when alongside their Bren guns, that there are many things apart from war that they should learn on their return to civilization. The Minister has told us that 10,000 members of the forces wish to take a university degree. I shall relate what happened to a young man in the United States of America, where this problem has been discussed. On his return from the Pacific jungles he took up a course of education and improved his outlook. He attended a university. The Saturday Evening Post reports that the lad was a commando in the Solomons, and this is how he described his life there -
From dawn till near dusk we inched toward it on our bellies, then sprang on the Japanese. We gunned and slashed in a nightmarish orgy, whipping the Japanese in their own technique.
On another mission we lived on rice and salt pork and danger for 36 days behind the Jap lines, slaying them by the hundreds, seeing our own wounded die, suffering every privation while we crept through the brush like animals.
After I got hack to school some study work assigned me included this: -
Merrily swinging on briar and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountainside or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name;
Spink, spank, spink. . . .
It is the most appalling thing I have ever heard of to take a man from the jungle, where he had been eatinghis heart out and then give him a story on the “Bob-o’-link” of the Lincoln bird. That shows that money is not the key to the solution of the problem, but planned study built around the student.
Method is of first importance. I am sure that the jungle warrior was inclined to crawl back into his lair, preferring to be eaten by a Japanese rather than by a professor. We must have better planning. When our own boys come back from the north, let us arrange a suitable educational curriculum for them at the universities, which should include something to do with ‘Pacific history. They and their children will live and die in accordance with what happens in the Pacific. I hope that there will be no “ Spink, spank, spink” in the curriculum for the re-education of our servicemen. There are many very wise men in the educational set-up, and one of the most able is Professor Eric Ashby, who states on this matter -
A great contribution to our time and country will be made by the University which sets up a school of new (humanities, and which offers a degree to the student who ‘has thought intelligently about the history of technology, the culture and society of (Pacific countries, economic stresses and the political frameworks which bear them. It is likely that any University which undertook to do this would be restored to its rightful place in public esteem.
A criticism made by the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) was that there are too many “ pot hunters “ and degree chasers. These fill the world with half-educated people who become halfbaked philosophers and futile fumblers, and who do not realize that the worst thing that has happened to them is that they have not been so well educated as the man who reached the fifth grade at a State school and not only absorbed the “ three It’s “ but absorbed the capacity to think.
Emphasis on new buildings is not the solution to- the problem, but the answer is a new building of the morale of the teachers themselves. The most conservative thing in history is the approach ito education. There are still people who talk of the old dominie, with his cane and snuff, and with his spectacles balanced on the end of his nose; but they have not realized what he. has not done for us educationally. I am rather in favour of the slick man with a degree, who is a philosopher and a psychologist. The sentiment about the little schoolhouse with its teacher has been a good thing for the capitalist who does not like pay- ing money to anybody. It has given the teacher a legend, but very little £ s. d. How the teacher has slipped down the social scale as he has with regard to salary is hard for me to understand. Compared with the remuneration of members of the semi-technical professions he receives less than the basic wage. He must live in a house of some pretensions, wear good clothes, and always appear at his best ; but he receives a low salary, and is not given the status, financial or other, that he deserves. Many people are intelligent enought to be teachers, but they decline to adopt that profession because teachers are not adequately remunerated. The provision of adequate salaries for school teachers appears to be nobody’s business, but I think that it is everybody’s business. Until this omission is rectified, we shall not have real progress in education. Unless steps be taken quickly to correct this anomaly, there will be further deterioration.
The Minister stated a few hours ago that a federal Ofiice of Education is to be established, and that it will work in cooperation with the States. This organization should immediately take steps to ensure that teachers shall at least receive a living wage. If a man becomes ill he does not hesitate to call in the best specialist that he can secure, and willingly pays for the service many guineas; but we say that the smallness of the salaries paid to school teachers is a matter of no importance. The dreary curriculum of Australian schools is mostly centred on an old-world model. There should be some technique whereby the instructor would be more a librarian than a teacher. Our educationists should endeavour to find out the jobs for which the students are adapted. Whether a pupil desires to be an engineer of a musician, under the present system all must go through the mill together. The boy interested in chemistry or English often realizes that half of his school life has been entirely wasted. The school does not catch up with him, because it requires him to complete the course laid down in the curriculum. Education is by rote, and when a boy reaches the age of eleven years, the teacher can only .say that he is, perhaps, well mannered, or that he attends to his lessons well. If the average teacher were asked which of his students were potential engineers and which were more adapted for the study of art, he would not know. He could only say whether the curriculum appealed to them. The objective should be to loosen up the technique and make the teacher more of a friend to his pupils, one who would endeavour to discover early in their careers the callings for which they were suitable, so that an indication of the jobs for which they were fitted could be given to their parents.
Much more “ Australianism “ should be inculcated into the schools. I do not use that word in the narrow sense, because I realize that a general world education is necessary, but Australians have developed a national inferiority complex. Any teacher or professor who knows a formula which would kill that accursed blight deserves the undying gratitude of Australians.Education should fit the students for the jobs that they will be called upon to undertake. If they are of the type which should be encouraged to pursue their studies to the universities, every opportunity should be afforded them to do so.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The proposed new Commonwealth Office of Education should immediately address itself, first, to the pay of school teachers. I have already said that this has appeared to be nobody’s business and that the resultant injustice to the teachers will have repercussions on the education of the children and, consequently, their future. Despite the limitations imposed by the Constitution, the Government should make the first forthright contribution by raising the standard of teachers all over Australia. If we do not start from that level and make contented ‘the custodian of the mind of the child, we can discard all our” airy fairy “ notions of a great educational scheme after the war and greater development of the mentality and educational standard of Australians generally. The man or woman who provides the tuition must have his or her living standards raised. Teachers must be imbued with the idea that they are an important part of the community. Until that aim has been achieved, much of our other planning will be merely vague dreaming. Where the
Commonwealth can fit in, I cannot say definitely, but it can at least make a gesture, as an Australian Government, on behalf of a large and important section of the community which is underpaid and under-privileged, yet, by a curious anomaly, is performing one of the most important tasks in this young country. Therefore, the Commonwealth Office of Education, in co-operation with the States, should first attend to the problem of the teacher, raising him to a more humane level and increasing his contentment. On that foundation we could build for the future. The main problem does not concern larger buildings, the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, university education, or the technical education of the adult. The root of the trouble lies in our wrong conception of education. We must plan from the lowest level, developing the child’s mind so that in adult life his circumstances may be a little better than those of his parents, or at least equal to them if his parents are fortunate enough to be in a reasonably sound economic position. From that stage we should progress until we have reached the peak of tertiary education. The matter can be handled thoroughly and justice can be done to working people only by means of an elaborate and comprehensive system of co-operation with authorities throughout Europe and America who have made a lifelong study of education. All of these considerations are most important to the future development of Australians as educated units of society. The main point is to replan from the basis of an understanding of the new order we have been promised after the war. There must be a new order in education for our children, so that their capabilities may be discovered at the earliest possible age and their development may be followed until ultimately their full capacity as thinkers and good Australian citizens is revealed.
Then there is the matter of adult education, which concerns the man who yearns to improve himself. For many years the sparseness of the facilities in this regard has been one of the greatest judgments on our lack of foresight in relation to people who, by virtue of the economic circumstances of their parents, or the depression which raged in the thirties, have longed in vain for education that would raise the standard of their lives and make them better fitted to serve their country. We should cut through the snobbery that education belongs to those who have money or a social background. Any intelligent child should be enabled to move from his pre-school nursery to the university if he has the necessary brain-power. The Government should assist him financially, if need be, and his tutors should be so placed economically that they can bring out the best that is in him and develop him to the highest degree. There is a world of research in regard to adult education. Some of the “ flam “ should be removed from these problems and education should be made the right of every individual ; whether he be a man of 90 years of age, or a retarded youth of nineteen years of age, he should be told that the benefits of adult education are his. I would go so far as to give to him some of the decorations and degrees that are conferred so lavishly on half-baked university students who merely attend a series of lectures. The Commonwealth Office of Education would do a good job if, by making the necessary facilities available, it were to lift the morale of those who have a hunger for knowledge, but because of economic circumstances have missed the ‘benefits of education.
We can kill much of the boredom of study, increase the delight of the precocious youngster in it, and make keener tho perception of the duller child, by the visual education that would be afforded by a children’s theatre. Already in Sydney a private organization has established a children’s theatre, and the education authorities of that State are tremendously interested in the development of this medium. Having made the child conscious of the beauty of drama, and taught him the poetry, of the spoken word in the theatre, his appreciation of Australia will be much greater than it would be if his education were confined to the subjects that are dealt with ‘by history books printed overseas, which depict Australia as a convict nation with fi second-rate population. If we do not break down the inferiority complex that is inculcated in our schools to-day we shall do a distinct disservice to Australia. The curriculum must be Australianized so that, on the completion of his studies, the pupil will be imbued with a feeling of pride in his country, rather than one of defeatism, due to his having been taught that we are only colonials, and not nearly so advanced intellectually as the people of other countries. The present practice is to stress the brave story of “ The Charge of the Light Brigade “, and to relate in a negligible and rather apologetic way the glory of Eureka. I should like the position to be reversed, with Eureka in the foreground, demonstrating the energy of the Australian people, kicking the ball along for better days and leaving the cold history of Europe to Europeans.
Very close to my heart is the development of the children’s theatre into a national theatre, which, in the capital cities, the large country towns, and even in hamlets, would portray in dramatic form the colourful episodes of Australian history. The establishment of a national theatre should be very seriously considered together with the extension of university education. Then, we shall have a full-blooded appreciation of our own destiny, and our education system will be sound from the bottom to the top. Basically, our education system is rotten. We have to cut through it at the base, and rebuild it, thus making Australia a better place for those who follow us.
– I strongly support the suggestion that the Commonwealth, in cooperation with the States, should investigate the anomalies which prevent the extension of higher education. I am not prepared to say that the States should be deprived of the duty of educating the people, as they tax their citizens to defray the cost of that facility. Immediately they are prepared to relieve their taxpayers of the cost of education, the Commonwealth can institute an Australiawide educational system, providing higher education than is available at the present time.. Unless we follow the example of other countries in regard to education, “ we shall be left a long way behind. No fewer than 24,000 of the American ex-service personnel have already entered universities. Much has been said regarding the extension of our education system. I emphasize the value of education in relation to rural industries. Rural scientific research in Australia should be developed along lines which will make it comparable with the achievements in other countries. We have achieved much of which we can justly be proud, and have produced some great men in the sphere of agricultural science, in consequence of which we have become famous for our wheats. William Farrar, a product of Cambridge University, who studied medicine, but had to relinquish that profession owing to illhealth, devoted twenty years of his life to the production of Australian wheats that are world famous and are now grown in many other countries. Science alone can decide whether fertilization is necessary for any soil, and what fertilizer will make a crop respond most favorably. Mr. Pridham, recently retired, was responsible for oat ‘breeding in this country, and his scientific achievements probably exceeded those of any other individual in the world, making possible higher yields of hay and grain and improving the malting qualities of barley. He was a graduate of the Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Although much has been done, the greatest activity still remaining in connexion with rural education is along the lines of scientific development. If we are to compete successfully with other countries we must educate our producers, even as the producers of other countries are being educated, in such subjects as animal husbandry and the control of animal and plant pests. In some of the more advanced countries cinematograph pictures have been exhibited, illustrating the application of science to the various phases of agricultural life. Caravans are sent by the Government to visit small rural settlements in order to demonstrate the application of scientific methods to the work on which the people are engaged. Such visits stimulate interest, and on the second visit promising young students may be selected for training in agricultural science. Some of these may develop into men of the calibre of Farrar. We in Australia are expend- ing millions of pounds in’ an endeavour to prevent the spread of cattle tick, but our approach to the problem has never got beyond the passage of legislation requiring cattle to be dipped. The blowfly pest is responsible for tremendous losses, but only the most meagre attention has been given to the problem by scientists, and for this I do not blame the scientists themselves. - There should be established in the north an institution staffed by competent scientists, whose work would be to investigate this menace, and to devise measures to combat it. Orchard pests cause many thousands of pounds worth of damage every year, and there is a promising field of research here which should yield rich results. The work should not be left entirely to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Canberra, but research stations should be established all over Australia. We have also the grasshopper pest to contend with. In other countries, lethal gases for the destruction of grasshoppers have been spread by aeroplanes. We should investigate the possibility of applying this method of control in Australia. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being expended upon wire netting in an endeavour to cope with the rabbit pest. Perhaps, by scientific research, a more effective method of dealing with the pest might be discovered. Every year, dingoes are responsible for an enormous amount of damage among our flocks. In some northern areas, the sheep are being exterminated by dingoes, which are now turning their attention to the killing of calves. The scientists are the only people who might possibly discover an effective method of dealing with this menace. There are diseases which affect dairy cows, and which are sometimes responsible for preventing any calves from being born in a whole herd. This disease is well known but no scientific effort has been made to deal with it. Heavy losses are also incurred by poultry-farmers from disease among their birds. Here, again, is a field awaiting investigation by scientists. In Great Britain, much more is being done in this direction. I brought back with me to Australia a film illustrating methods of dealing with pests affecting vegetables. Similar methods could be applied here.
I am not criticizing the present Government. No government has given to these matters the attention which they deserve, but the governments of other countries are now realizing their importance. We, too, must spread education among the rural population, .and in particular we must seek to interest the best of our young men through, summer schools and the establishment of demonstration plots. We must make provision in the universities for the scientific training of promising students so that they may become specialists in their particular line. We must begin by bringing to Australia the best of the scientists who have studied rural subjects, and we should not be afraid to spend money. Russia has spent money freely on this work, and no other country has been more successful in the application of science to rural industries. In this respect we should take a leaf out of Russia’s book. Ours is a more sparsely populated country than Russia and the need for scientific assistance is even greater here than it is there. We have in Australia an Institute of Agricultural Science which publishes a quarterly journal. To the current issue, Professor G. A. Curry, of the University of Western Australia, has contributed an article showing how the Commonwealth can encourage education, particularly adult education. He suggests that opportunities should be provided for adult education, not only in agricultural subjects, but also in general subjects. Farmers who are producing the commodities for export have to depend more and more upon machinery to assist them. Some very fine agricultural machinery has been designed and produced in Australia, but we should not fail to obtain from overseas the best available.
In regard to agricultural research, 1 believe that, we should invoke the assistance of practical men as well as of scientists. In Canada, there are between 200 and 300 experimental farms conducted by the National Government where practical work is carried on side by side with experimental work. It was a practical man who discovered how to deal with the prickly pear in Australia at a time when the pest was spreading at the rate of 1.000,000 acres a year. He conceived the idea of controlling the pear by means of insect parasites. His first efforts were not successful, and he spent ten years in experimental work, taking samples of Australian pear to the United States of America where tests were made. He imported insects to Australia and he was not very warmly received by the scientists in this country, who said that the insects would have to be destroyed. Eventually, as a direct result of his efforts, the cactoblastus insect was imported, which proved successful in destroying prickly pear and in clearing millions of acres of land upon which stock are now being fattened. The discoverer of this remedy was a practical man. He had the requisite knowledge and ability to employ scientific methods. On one occasion, we lost a wonderful opportunity to destroy cattle tick. A man claimed that he had produced a tick-resisting beast. With other members of the Country party in Queensland, I was associated with certain of the experiments, and I am satisfied that he had made an important discovery. But, not being a scientist, he did not have the sympathy of scientists. Unfortunately, he died before he could give a complete account of his discovery, and his secret perished with him. The Government should establish institutions which will sympathetically investigate discoveries by practical men, with a view to using them to the national advantage.
Education in rural sciences is most important. Some provision has been made for the education of menfolk on the farm, and now the suggestion has been made that schools of instruction should be opened for womenfolk in rural areas so as to enable them to revise their knowledge of such matters as the preparation of food, hygiene and home nursing. Those subjects should he included in the education system, and the Government should make available a substantial sum of money to enable young people to be instructed in those sciences, and to assist primary producers, apart from the aid that is given to them from time to time to enable them to recover from the ravages of drought, fire, flood and disease. By the application of scientific methods, we may be able to increase production, and reduce its cost. Other nations, which are our competitors, are doing so, and we cannot afford to lag behind them.
I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to the matters that I have raised.
.- This motion has been so well and so widely debated that little remains for me to add. The only excuse that I can offer for making a brief contribution is because the subject is so vital to the welfare of the nation, its results can be so beneficial, and its neglect can have such far-reaching consequences in the future. All aspects of education, as such, have been discussed at some length, ‘but one factor has been neglected, not purposely, but perhaps because its influence upon the student has not been so widely appreciated. I refer to the position in the home. No matter how gifted a pupil may be, he cannot give of his best, and derive the greatest benefits that education has to offer if the conditions in the home are unsatisfactory. Domestic discord, or the poor circumstances of the parents, undoubtedly will prevent the pupil from obtaining the maximum benefit from modern education facilities. Education, as such, is vital, and the Commonwealth and State Governments should do their utmost to ensure that the education system shall attain the highest standards, and yield the greatest benefits. But first, the Governments must devote their attention to bringing about happy and contented conditions in the home.
Having made those introductory remarks, I shall now sketch the education system against the background of those conditions. We must discover the purpose of education, and also examine its administration. In this, I am in complete agreement with -the views of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). This opinion will be widely shared. Education is not merely to pour into the recipient of the information rules of thumb or certain text-book lore. As those honorable members rightly pointed out, the real object must be, not merely to equip a student to pass the prescribed examinations, but to develop his mental faculties and powers of reasoning, and to enable him to improve by associati on with the teachers. That is fundamental. The student, whether young or old, is no empty vessel into which the accu mulated learning of some professor should be poured. He is a human being, whose faculties are developed under the influence of the teacher and in association with fellow students. That is the basis upon which we must develop our education policy.
The second matter is administration. Once again, the honorable member for Warringah and other speakers emphasized the necessity to decentralize the education system. This Government must accept some responsibility for the administration and expenditure of the money that it raises by taxation or other means. That is one of the canons of sound finance. Having accepted that overriding responsibility, the Commonwealth should leave, as far as possible, the administration of the education system to the State governments, and going even further, to local authorities. By that means, the parents of the pupils, and the residents generally of the various districts, will be made to realize that they have an interest, not. only in their own children, but in the products of the school generally. I had the very great pleasure, during a recent visit to Tasmania, to study a new idea in education that is being developed, namely, the area schools, and I was greatly impressed by the spirit that prevails among pupils and teachers. A real interest is being shown in the system, and great results are being achieved. That method may be extended, with advantage, to other States. I was interested also in a further proposition that Tasmania has to offer. Schools in the rural areas teach a wide variety of subjects, not with the object of enabling pupils to specialize, but to develop an all-round student, making for a useful citizen. In the city of Launceston, the authorities are endeavouring to launch a community school which will not have one huge building, but will be scattered in cottage style. The object is to give to city children the same facilities for education in a broader modern style than is at present provided in most of the country areas of Tasmania.
This system was in sharp contrast to the conditions under which I received my education in a country school in
Western Australia. I have vivid recollections of the days when I rode a distance of seven miles to school. Although my mother had eight children, she had to board another two children in order to maintain at the school the minimum number of ten students, so that the Education Department would’ not close it. That position still exists to some degree in Western Australia, where distances are great and the population is meagre, although the State Government is expending 10 per cent, of its total annual revenue on its education system. Obviously, education is beyond the financial capabilities of the .State governments. Therefore, I am happy to see that the Commonwealth Government is now taking a greater interest in education, and is seeking to co-ordinate the activities of the various governments throughout Australia. If the proposal submitted by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) be properly and wisely administered, and if the several governments co-operate as I believe they will, much will be done to improve the education system, and Australia will undoubtedly reap the benefits in a wiser and better citizenship in future.
To-day, honorable members on both sides of the House are in general agreement with the principles enunciated in this debate. That is a reflection of the feeling throughout the country. No matter where we go to-day, we find a great and growing appreciation of what education in a modern democracy can mean, and know how little democracy will mean unless we have a wise, intelligent and educated people. Therefore, it is heartening to ‘find that the Commonwealth Government, even though it is engrossed in the conduct of the war, is willing to provide the fullest possible assistance to the State governments for the purposes of education. In saying that, I do not suggest that the Minister should now rest on his labours. Much remains to be done. A wider field is opening before him, and the work which lie can do will pay enormous dividends in the future.
The suggestion has been made that State school teachers are underpaid and badly trained. That is true. As I mentioned earlier, the financial burden that has been imposed upon the State governments, with their limited resources and their great problems, lias been beyond their ability to bear. With Commonwealth accession to the Education Council, and the establishment of the Office of Education, the Commonwealth must co-operate with the States in order to ensure that the school teachers shall be adequately trained and paid. The person who takes Upon himself the task of teaching must, have a real liking for it. He must have a really humane interest in the material that he is moulding, and in its destiny. It has been suggested in regard to many professions - or if it has not been, said, it has been accepted - that people engage in them and make the sacrifices that they entail, because they have a real interest in them. Even so, we cannot impose unfair burdens on people who are willing to give of their time, energy and talents to the education of the future citizens of this Australian democracy. Therefore, the Commonwealth Government, through its co-ordinating activities, must ensure that school teachers in future shall be adequately trained and paid. It should endeavour to ensure also that, through our education system, we promote better understanding between the nations of the world. In pre-war years, limited numbers of Australian teachers were exchanged with teachers in other parts of the Empire. That system should be greatly developed in the post-war years, and-, in addition, we should endeavour to arrange for students to visit other countries, or, at least, to make greater contacts with the people of other nations. This will enable them to realize that, although we have a great country with enormous potentialities, and correspondingly great problems, other nations are equally well situated. The human sympathies that could be fostered by thi.* means would help the people of Australia to develop into a prosperous and intelligent community and would also do something which we all desire in our hearts, namely, cement between the nations feelings of friendship which would prevent future wars. If our education system can help to achieve these ends, we all should be willing to give to the utmost of our resources, both financial and otherwise, to promote its development. For these reasons we must not let the matter rest at this stage. “We have expressed our support of a wider education system and our belief that it can achieve great results. Therefore, from this day we must do our utmost to give effect to the glowing promises which we have made to foster and promote the education of our citizens so that Australia may take its place with the great nations of the world.
– This is a very important debate. One of the things that first impresses itself on an honorable member when he is elected to this House is the evidence of lack of education in the community which is apparent in the correspondence with which he has to deal. This obvious paucity of education is a serious reflection on the education services that have existed in the Commonwealth, in a free or semi-free state, for the last 60 or 70 years.
– Perhaps lack of education is evident only in correspondence from the honorable member’s electorate.
– I have found plenty of such evidence in the last few weeks in letters from residents of Labourrepresented constituencies regarding the release of soldiers. An uneducated people creates an inefficient nation. The aim of any Commonwealth Government should be to have an efficient nation which will be able to support a high standard of living.
– The election results in Great Britain show that there is no lack of education there.
– Nobody would say that the Minister had ever been well educated. “Without efficiency in a nation, it is impossible to maintain a high standard of living., Australia lags far behind other nations with its system of rural education, particularly in the agricultural and pastoral districts. In some respects, it has not even reached the standards attained by other countries 150 years ago. Anybody who studies the works of Arthur Young, dealing with his travels in France and Italy, and in England and “Wales, and Cobbitt’s book, Rural Rides, and other works must realize that, a century and a half ago, those nations had developed their agricultural practices to a degree which has not been reached in Australia yet. I do not know of any place in Australia where one may find agricultural colleges, or even universities, dealing with the subject of crop rotation. I have found no Australian literature on the subject. I have inspected large numbers of research institutions, but in none of them was the science of crop rotation taught. This science is one of the basic factors in the agriculture of northern Europe. Also, very little research work is being done in Australia on ley farming, on the lines that Sir George Stapledon has developed in “Wales. Very little effort has been made to establish faculties of rural economics in our universities. “When efforts were made to establish such a faculty at the New England University College two or three years ago, many difficulties were placed in our way. It seemed that such a course had never been envisaged in Australia before. Nevertheless, a study of Young’s book about France in 1789 shows that at the University of Paris at that time there was an agricultural institute with five professors, one of whom was a Professor of Rural Economics. Australia has not reached that stage yet.
An extension of the services which bring the results of scientific research and general education to the notice of the people of the Commonwealth is an important factor which must be considered in dealing with the general problem of education. One of the greatest difficulties experienced, by institutions such as the Australian “Wool Board and the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research arises in bringing the story oi their work and discoveries to the notice of the people. It is hard to put this information in a form ‘which can he understood by the average person, for whom it is intended while maintaining scientific facts. If this difficulty can be overcome, we shall be able to develop a thirst for knowledge which will benefit the nation as a whole. The Australian “Wool Board1 has already taken action which might well be copied by other educational organizations. The board has recently fitted out a large motor caravan containing a theatrette which will seat 30 people and which has a motion picture projector. The caravan also mounts a loud-speaker, which enables the scientific officer in charge to give lectures in small towns. The service exhibits educational films and has a small laboratory in which research work can be carried out, and farmers will be able to bring their problems to the officers for solution. This sort of service could be developed to a much greater degree. The Wool Board’s theatrette may be an aid to the theatre which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) often advocates as a means of taking theatrical productions to rural areas so as to develop an appreciation of art and culture. Knowledge is not obtained only through our educational institutions. A great volume of knowledge can be derived from the practical experience of men working on farms and in industries. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) referred to Professor Ashby, of the University of Sydney, who is one of the most distinguished educationists in Australia. Two years ago I heard him address students at a school in the Armidale district. He told the boys that everythingthey learned at school was only second-hand knowledge, but that what they learned themselves from practical work on the farms, or from experience in life was first-hand knowledge worth all the second-hand knowledge that they had ever gained. Practical knowledge developed their brains and stimulated original thought. A tremendous amount of knowledge gained in the pastoral and agricultural industries has never been collated. I believe that it should be studied by scientists, and collected as Young and Cobbitt did in England, Wales, and France. If we could employ men with the capacity and ability of those great investigators in this sort of research, we could learn much that would be of benefit to us. I hope that the Government will try to assist and develop free libraries throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in the rural areas, where they are badly needed. If the Government considers itself unable to give monetary assistance to free libraries, it can still perform a great service by presenting such institu tions with books, modern reviews, and modern technical and scientific literature so that country residents will be encouraged to study , and so benefit from the facilities made available to them.
.- I have been interested to hear the speeches made on this very important subject. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), true to his style, covered the field of education in a very able manner, but for most of the time his thoughts were well up in the stratosphere. I am not an intellectual man. Being a humble farmer, a son of the soil, a product of the out-back, I bring a practical mind to bear on the problems of education which confront the people who produce the real wealth of the nation. We have heard great schemes about theatrettes, children’s theatres, and other things. However, before this Government expends money on such grandiose projects, it should at least see that every child in Australia receives its democratic birthright - equality of educational opportunity. What happensunder the existing system? In most homes whether they he in the cities or in the farming areas, when a child reaches the age of fourteen years his parents must make a great decision. They have to decide whether they can afford to allow him to continue his education and remain an economic burden on their finances, or whether he must go out into the world and work.
I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1940-1944.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the measure is to make the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act applicable to a by-election for the House of Representatives as well as to a general election or referendum. It is introduced to-day so that at the impending by-election in the Division of “Fremantle, and, of course, at any other by-election that may occur during the continuance of the war, members of the forces and others who are on service and are qualified” to vote for the division concerned, may have the opportunity wherever practicable to record their votes.
The Commonwealth Electoral (Warrime) Act was passed in August, 1940, by the previous Government, but the only elections covered were elections for the Senate and for the House of Representatives. As a result, when by-elections ware held late in 1940 in the electorates of Kalgoorlie and Swan, and in 1941 in the electorate of Boothby, all members of ibc forces outside Australia entitled to vote were disfranchised. It is proposed to remove this flaw by passing the present bill.
Apart from the formal clauses which have been drafted to ensure that the :ippropriate provisions of the principal net shall apply in the case of a byelection, the only variation proposed is that at a by-election the votes of qualified service electors located in a State shall be recorded in a manner precisely similar io that which obtains in areas outside Australia. Under Part Ha. of the principal act, it is necessary at a general election for the electoral authorities in the States to appoint special polling places, and the required staff of presiding officers and assistant presiding officers at all service camps and other similar establishments in their respective areas. These polling places must be kept open and the staff retained on duty from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day fixed by the writ for the polling. That is the Saturday on which the general vote is taken. Such a procedure at a byelection is entirely unnecessary. It would be inordinately cumbersome and expensive, especially when we consider that in a great majority of cases, very few persons attached to a particular unit may be entitled to vote. Consequently it is provided in this hill that at a by-election the required voting material shall be sent by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State direct to the commanding officer of the unit concerned, who, in exactly the same manner as a commanding officer of a unit outside Australia, will designate an officer to take the votes of those entitled to vote, and will notify in orders where and when the votes may be recorded. Immediately after the votes have been recorded and placed in the voters’ declaration envelopes, they will be transmitted by the commanding officer direct to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State for purposes of scrutiny. By adopting this simplified procedure, the votes will be taken at a minimum of inconvenience and expense, no matter how widely the personnel entitled to vote at the by-election may he dispersed throughout the States in Navy, Army and Air Force units.
When my attention was first drawn to the fact that members of our fighting forces were to be denied a vote, I immediately consulted with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who recommended that I should discuss the matter with the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth, Mr. Turner. As the result of this discussion, I submitted to Cabinet a recommendation for an amendment of the act for the purpose of providing, if physically possible, the necessary facilities for extending to members of our fighting forces overseas, who are entitled to a vote, the privilege of exercising the franchise at the forthcoming by-election for the division of Fremantle. I do not think that that action will be challenged by any honorable member. In this democratic country we are anxious, at all times, to extend to any person or persons who are justly entitled to a vote for the election of a parliamentary representative, the right to exercise their franchise; consequently, this short measure, which I believe will be acceptable to all sections of the Parliament, is submitted for the consideration of honorable members. It seems to me that there is no necessity for lengthy speeches on the bill. The principle embodied in the measure has the support of every man and woman in this country. We have provided facilities for members of our fighting forces who are overseas to vote at general elections, and the Government sees no valid reason why the same privilege should not be extended to those members of our forces overseas who are entitled to vote at a by-election.
– I presume that the Chief Electoral Officer sees no practical difficulties ?
– -He is satisfied that there will be difficulties, but he is of the opinion that they will be no greater than they were at the last general election. If this Parliament decides to-night to grant the voting facilities for which the bill provides, and through unforeseen circumstances the provisions of the bill cannot be availed of by members of our forces overseas, the fault will not rest with this Parliament. “We ought to make the provision which I have indicated, and, without further ado, I urge honorable members to accord the bill a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
SUPPLY (Grievance Day).
Australian Army: Leave - Wheat for Stock FEED - Dairying Industry: Zoning of Milk Deliveries - Repatriation: War Pensions Appeals - Housing.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
.- I bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), the necessity for granting leave to certain members of the fighting forces, as Australia is no longer threatened with invasion by Japan. The conditions which obtained in 1942 do not prevail to-day, as Japan is now about to receive the coup de grace. Hundreds of thoroughly trained men who are now retained on the mainland of Australia are anxious to go overseas and get in contact with the enemy, and I maintain that there i3 no good reason why members of the fighting forces who have had long service overseas should not be granted a measure of relief. Many hundreds of mem’bers of our fighting forces in New Guinea and in the islands north of Australia have not had leave for a couple of years, and that indicates that the organization of the Department of the Army has apparently broken down. I have received 85 letters from soldiers throughout Australia, and one of them is signed “Lance-Corporal Calwell, of Melbourne “.
– He must be a good man.
– He claims that the present Government is “ no good “. In the 35 letters that I have received, soldiers have complained to me that they have been in the tropics without leave for 20, 23, 24, and, in one instance, 25 months. I do not need to remind the House, the Minister for the Army, or the Prime Minister, of the conditions that exist in New Guinea. It is impossible for men to remain there for two years without leave and not have their health ruined for all time. There is not a shortage of man-power in the fighting forces to-day. Many servicemen in Australia are breaking their hearts because the higher command will not consent to their being brought into contact with the enemy. There is no reason why men should remain in New Guinea for two years without leave. I appeal to the Prime Minister to instruct that they shall be relieved immediately. There may . be some excuse for deferring leave for a month or two because of the shortage of shipping, but bad organization and administration must be responsible when men are denied leave for as long as 25 months. That state of affairs cannot continue. These men volunteered and are anxious to give the best service to their country, but they cannot be blamed for saying that they are “ fed up “ when they are told that, having been without leave for 23 months, there is no prospect of their obtaining it for another nine months. Many servicemen have young wives and families whom they have not seen for 23 months. If the circumstances to-day were comparable with those of 1942, these men would face them uncomplainingly. But there is no danger of this country now being attacked by Japan, which is in a helpless position. I and others have made strenuous appeals for the discharge from the Army of men who have served for five years or more. After persistent pressure, the Government agreed to make arrangements for the release of men in that category. Equal pressure will be applied if the men whose case I am now pleading are not granted leave. My mind goes back a few years to the time when, in this House, I led a campaign which was supported by the honorable members for New England (Mr. Abbott) and Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and other honorable members, for the granting of leave after twelve months operational service. That was resisted. I clearly recall the day when the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) agreed to submit the matter to the Government, at the same time challenging me by asking, “ What will you do if these men do not want leave ? “ We made it quite clear that we would insist on every man taking leave, whether he wanted it or not, because of the climatic conditions and all the other disadvantages which men in New Guinea suffer. Men who have been prepared to offer their lives for their country are disgusted because of the treatment they have received from the Government in the matter of leave. I have made frequent references to the subject. On the 30th June I quoted from a letter I had received from a serviceman in these terms -
I have been in New Guinea for 23 months on Thursday next without any leave of any kind to the mainland. It is just over two years since I have had any leave and my friends and myself have seen units come and go and still we are kept here. I do not want you to think that I am complaining, but I do feel that leave could be arranged, as other chaps around about us are able to get leave to go away with drafts.
I have received another letter which reads -
Here is another ease to refresh the memory of Messrs. Dedman and Fraser. . . . Leave has been promised on several occasions but has never occurred. Actually, he has not had any leave since March, 1943, when he had a few days compassionate leave on account of losing his first child.
The letter went on to say -
My son’s unit has had six commanding officers during his stay.
That indicates that the commanding officers return to Australia, whereas the soldiers fight on. I have received 25 letters from the 475th Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Troop, which is composed of men from several States, many of them being my constituonts They pay tribute to me for my efforts to obtain leave for them. I shall make two quotations. The first reads -
I read in a recent newspaper just received up here of your remarks made in the House of Representatives regarding the leave position of soldiers serving in New Guinea and the South-West Pacific Area. … It is a subject which concerns not only myself but about 70 per cent, of our unit. . . . You will readily appreciate, I am sure, just what a “ kick “ we received to learn that our cause was being championed by your good self, especially as wo have read from time to time statements made by the Government to the public, that “ every man serving in the tropics was getting leave after twelve months’ service “. . . .
The second quotation is -
I, myself, have been in this area for almost 21 months with no leave to Australia in that period. My case is the same as that of most other members of this unit, except that most of them have been without leave to Australia since August, 1943, and my final leave was a couple of weeks later, i.e., at the beginning of September, 1943. So I, therefore, have a personal urge to thank you very sincerely for the attention you have given to soldiers who seem to have been utterly forgotten as far as their being returned to Australia is concerned. . . .
A letter from a member of the 7th Australian Platoon Troop, Transport Section, points out that the writer had not had leave for 23 months. He wrote to a relative asking that the matter be brought to my notice but not to the notice of his wife, because she would completely collapse as she had been expecting him home for so long. He said that his unit commander had indicated to him that he had no prospect of obtaining leave for another nine months. It is useless for the Government to “ toy “ with the mattei by granting leave capriciously. No Minister or commanding officer ought to ask these men to remain in the tropica for two years without leave. They have no protection from the heat, the cold, and wet conditions, they have inferior food, and have to battle through swamps and fever-infested jungle. No man can stand the strain for too lengthy a period. This is a complete indictment of the Government’s administration. I regard the matter very seriously, and urge that there be no further delay. A few days ago, I asked the Minister for the Army this question -
Last week I raised the question of leave for soldiers in New Guinea who are supposed to have leave every twelve months. I cited a soldier who has been in New Guinea for 23 months without leave. I have since rereceived complaints from relatives of soldiers who have been 20 months and 22 months in New Guinea without leave. Will the Minister for the Army instruct commanding officers in the South-West Pacific Area to prepare a return of nil soldiers who have served more than twelve months without leave, in order that special steps may be taken to ensure that, in the interests of their own health, soldiers shall have leave after twelve months’ service? Apparently, the leave system has broken down in New Guinea.
The Minister had only just returned from San Francisco, and his reply was brief -
I shall have immediate inquiries made into the matter raised by the honorable member for Moreton.
Twenty-three days have since elapsed, yet I have not received a reply. I emphatically protest on behalf of men who are being destroyed physically because the Government will not do the fair thing. During the last war, the troops in France were given leave of absence in England every six months. The conditions in France were deplorable but not comparable with what I believe the conditions in New Guinea to be to-day. We had to go into trenches, frequently* up to our hips in water which was intensely cold, but we were not liable to catch fever, and our food was better than that which the troops have to-day. I ask the House to support my protest against the indifference of the Government to these men. The morale of the fighting forces will be undermined, and they will be destroyed physically for all time, if they are not given the opportunity to recuperate. Our war pensions bill is mounting by millions of pounds because of the neglect of the Government to grant leave. It is not possible for the men to keep in good health when they suffer such neglect. I make a fervent appeal to the Government that they be granted leave at once. If I were in charge of this department, or any other sane man were in charge of it, these men would be brought out of New Guinea without delay. It is proposed that men with five years’ service will be brought back from the islands.
– That matter must not be referred to. That is covered by Order of the Day 13.
– We are. bringing men back from overseas by special means, and the same means could be used to bring back others on leave if the Government had any heart. I make a special protest on behalf of these men, and I shall fight day and night until they are brought back.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Government the position in South Australia regarding wheat rationing, particularly as it affects poultry-farmers and other stock-owners. During the last twenty-four hours I, as well as other honorable members representing. South Australian constituencies, have received telegrams on ‘the subject. The first is from the Poultry Breeders and Keepers Association of South Australia, and is as follows: -
Poultry breeders and keepers of .South Australia unanimously appeal to you to stop the proposed 50 per cent, cut of wheat for South Australia. This cut will wreck poultry- breeding and ruin poultry-breeders. The matter is urgent.
The second is from the Red Comb Egg Association, and reads -
Red Com;b Egg Association representing commercial poultry-farmers South Australia respectfully requests your assistance making representations appropriate authorities re wheat allocations for poultry. Consider unfair discrimination against this State and protests against further wheat stocks being diverted from South Australia. Present quota poultryfarmers entirely inadequate and has caused incalculable loss to industry. Proposed further reduction must result in complete disaster. Also essential adequate allocation he made rearing of spring chickens maintain for next season already greatly depleted flocks. Kindly take energetic steps direction indicated on behalf egg-producers South Australia.
I need hardly remind honorable members that more eggs are produced in South Australia than in any other State in the Commonwealth, and they are produced not only in the metropolitan area but also in many other districts throughout the State. Therefore, any move for the further reduction of the wheat ration for stock feed will strike a heavy blow at the industry. I quote the following statement by a highly placed gentleman, which was published in the Sunday Telegraph of the 10th February, 1944, under the heading “Is His Face Red?”:-
Australia’s reserve wheat stocks without the 100,000,000-bushel crop just harvested, are sufficient to meet her needs for four years.
Under all predictable conditions, it is quite impossible to conceive of a shortage of wheat in this country. - Production Executive Chairman Dedman, February 10, 1944.
Immediately underneath there is a statement, “ Would-be Venus wasn’t bashful “. I do not think that it has anything to do with wheat, but it was evident that the Minister was not bashful either when he made his prediction about wheat stocks. I do not know what the position is in Victoria, but I know that there is a general belief in my State that the ration is .being increased in Victoria, while being reduced in South Australia by 50 per cent. This is a matter which affects practically every electorate in South Australia. I should be glad if the Minister would seek an early opportunity to declare the .policy of the Government. Stocks of wheat sufficient for the needs of Australia for the next three months are held in Western Australia, but shipping is required to get it to the places where it is needed. I am not optimistic regarding the forthcoming season. As a matter of fact, nothing has occurred so far to justify optimism. In South Australia, and in Victoria and New South Wales so far as I have been able to see, the crops are very patchy. Unless conditions improve after the 1st August, the position in regard to wheat and grain generally will be serious throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia.
Recently, I placed before the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a file of papers dealing with the zoning of milk supplies in South Australia. They affected the transport authorities and the Liquid Fuel. Controller, the chaff rationing authority, and the milk zoning authority. It appears that a lorry belonging to a well-known firm starts 3 miles off the main road to pick up fresh milk for the Adelaide market. It has been decided that certain persons who sell fresh milk to Adelaide will not be allowed to have it transported by this lorry. The liquid fuel authority has declared that they must have their petrol ration reduced, as it is not right that they themselves should take the milk out when another lorry is available. The chaff authority says that unless they produce fresh whole milk they cannot get any chaff. One farmer told me that his losses within the last three months amount to nineteen cows, or one-third of his herd. We have the impossible position that one Commonwealth Department says that certain farmers shall not be given petrol to take their milk and cream out to the main road whilst another says that they must not produce milk for the Adelaide market, but that they may produce cream; then the third authority says that unless they produce whole milk they cannot get any chaff. I regret that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is ill, but he should be represented by some other Minister with a knowledge of the industry.
.- This session promises to be a record, and the Government is setting, an example of “getting on with the job”, and of bringing down legislation to effect social and economic reforms. However, it is one thing to make laws, and another thing to have them put into effect. The administration of legislation is a matter of ‘paramount importance. In the United States of America, when there is a change of government, there is also a general change throughout the administration. I do not advocate that in Australia, because I realize that it might lead to abuse, but we should be assured that when there is a change of government the permanent administrators, even though not supporters of the new government,, should serve it loyally.
Mr. Speaker has ruled that the matter of long-service releases of members of the forces may not be discussed on this motion. Otherwise, I should have had something to say on the subject. I have reason to believe that, in spite of the emphatic assurances, of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), attempts are being made to frustrate the policy of the Government.
As 1 have said, the administration of legislation is a matter which affects us very much, and I have in mind particularly the administration of the Repatriation Act. This Government was responsible for amending the act, which has been described as the best piece of legislation of its kind in the world. However, it appears that the principles laid down by Parliament are not being applied. I am not criticizing persons in the department, or any of the tribunals dealing with claims. I am criticizing the procedure, and I suggest that it calls for consideration by this House, and for the setting up of an all-party standing committee, as was intended when the Government first introduced its amending legislation. Unfortunately, at that time, the Government did not have a majority in both Houses of this Parliament, and the Senate rejected the bill.
I have here the annual report of the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal which was tabled on the 28th February last. It has not yet been printed, but I have been supplied with the original copy. I believe that copies should be made available to all honorable members. The report contains some important revelations. There is a report of the full tribunal, and also a minority report signed by the chairman of the tribunal, Mr. O’sullivan. It is stated that up to June, 1944, 1,919 war pensions appeals came before this tribunal, excluding 39 which lapsed or were withdrawn. Of that number, 448 appeals, or 23.34 per cent., were allowed, and 1,471, or 76.66 per cent., were disallowed. Certain other appeals were lodged under sub-section 7 of section 64 of the act; seventeen succeeded and 27 were rejected. This report pointed out that section 37 of the act doe3 not allow an appeal. It deals with members of the- forces who served in a theatre of war and who, any time after their discharge from the forces, become incapacitated or die from pulmonary tuberculosis. If the commission disallows the claim, no appeal may be made to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. The report comments that this is a singu lar position. In every other case where a claim for a war pension has been refused by the commission, the appellant may approach the Entitlement Tribunal. The act should be amended for the purpose of ensuring that these unfortunate ex-members of the forces shall, upon the rejection of their claim, be given the same opportunity, as others have, to appeal to the Entitlement Tribunal.
I desire now to refer to the minority report of the chairman, Mr. O’Sullivan. He pointed out that although his colleagues disagreed with him, the matter was of such importance that he had decided to bring in a minority report. He stated -
The occasion of this report would appear, therefore, to be appropriate to bring to the notice of the Parliament any matters in relation to the operation or administration of the war pensions provisions of the present act as the Tribunal (or any of its members) may deem to be of sufficient importance to merit the attention of Parliament.
In certain of such matters, which I observe upon below, I find that my views do not coincide with those of my two colleagues; but as I regard those matters as vital to the proper functioning of the tribunal, it becomes my duty to observe upon them independently in this addendum.
The report deals with various subjects, the first being the “ non-representation of the Repatriation Commission on appeals “. When the act was being amended, honorable members discussed thoroughly the provision relating to onus of proof, and after much debate, they agreed to what was believed to be a watertight provision which placed on the commission the onus of disproving that an ex-serviceman’s disability was due to war service. Mr. O’sullivan pointed out that section 72 of the act contemplates the representation of both parties at the hearing of the appeal, but places the onus of proof on only one of them, namely, the Repatriation Commission, which is never present to discbarge it. He added -
The Commission ought to be present at the hearing of the appeal to begin the proceedings and to justify its decision, the subject of the appeal. In the absence of the party carrying the onus, the other party is obliged to begin proceedings and to present his case. In this sense, the appellant actually carries the onus at the hearing. As there are no pleadings in the nature of a clear statement of the Commission’s case, the appellant or his representative, and the tribunal must wade through a mass of official documents (or a precis thereof) to ascertain the case. If the Commission’s representative appeared at the hearing to open the case, and to present and explain the evidence on which the Commission relied, and thus to state and clarify the issues, both the appellant and the Tribunal would be relieved of a good deal of the difficulty which necessarily arises from this absence. As it is, members of the Tribunal are obliged to present the Commission’s case to themselves, as it were, with what assistance they may be able to derive from the appellant or his representative. They must inform themselves as best they can of the Commission’s case simply by reading the files placed before them. These files are quite often charged with a mass of highly technical medical evidence which is so expressed as to require explanation or expansion by the medical man who wrote it, or, at least, by some expert (medical) witness. Obviously such evidence ought to be presented to the Tribunal by a well-trained and responsible representative of the Commission with a medical expert to assist him in those departments where such assistance is necessary.
Having done its best to ascertain the Commission’s case merely from a reading of the files and arriving at a conclusion as to what are the issues, and on what it is that the Commission apparently relies to discharge its onus, the Tribunal, under the present practice, proceeds to hear the appellant’s case where there seems to be a case for him to answer.
As the parties are denied legal assistance under the act (section 72), it is incumbent on the Tribunal to ensure, as far as possible, that each case is fairly put forward. Where the Commission fails to appear at the hearing, the Tribunal must perforce act for it. When it comes to the appellant’s case, every assistance must also be afforded him in presenting it.
He pointed out in his summary -
Members of the Tribunal, having thus ascertained the case for both parties, that is by first presenting the Commission’s case to themselves (in effect acting as the representative of the Commission!) next assisting the appellant with his case, and then functioning as advocates for the Commission by cross-examining (where necessary) the appellant or his witnesses, the Tribunal finally assumes its own role of adjudicating fairly between the parties! The machinery provisions of the act do not contemplate that kind of procedure by an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. The act, as well as natural justice, and the public interest (the Repatriation Commission may be said to represent the community) require that both parties should actually be heard on every appeal.
I emphasize that the act places the onus of proof on the commission; but, under this procedure, the commission is not represented before the Entitlement Tri- bunal to discharge its function. That may be one reason why a large number of appeals have been disallowed because, in the actual proceedings, the onus is placed on the appellant. Mr. O’Sullivan referred also to the preparation of cases for hearing. In his opinion, the method does not result in a case being properly prepared and placed before the commission. He referred also to the lack of any depositions or any facilities for taking a proper record of the proceedings. Stating that no appeal is allowed from the tribunal on questions of law, Mr. O’Sullivan said -
Under the act a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal is the final authority to determine all questions either of law or fact falling within its jurisdiction. Such quest-ions - both fact and law - are decided by the majority vote of its three members.
On questions of fact, as distinct from questions of law, a majority decision is quite a normal and satisfactory procedure. It has in my experience of hearing more than 2,000 appeals worked smoothly and well. And there is, of course, no reason why the Tribunal should not be the final determining body on any question of fact ‘ after a proper hearing.
Questions of law (i.e., questions involving no decision or dispute on facts) arc, however, in a different category. Although purely legal questions are not of frequent occurrence in the work of the Tribunal, such questions involving the interpretation of the act itself (an. important question of pure law) have arisen within my experience; and similar questions will doubtless continue to arise. As the act stands, there is no appeal from the Tribunal to the High Court or any court on a question of law however important it may be. (Whether a decision of this Tribunal on a question of law could possibly be challenged by an interested party in the High Court in some form of action other than by direct appeal is a doubtful question, and in any event is outside the scope of this report.) The position as left by the act is that when the Tribunal construes the act or lays down the law in any other respect, the parties are bound to take the decision of the Tribunal as the law and final. The act establishes very important and valuable rights for a large section of the community (ex-servicemen and their dependants) and imposes heavy obligations on the whole of the community (war pensions alone involve an annual expenditure exceeding £10.000,000). It is essential that the law be settled so that the parties to an appeal, both the appellant and the respondent Commission, should have a definite and certain legal standard by which to measure those rights and obligations. It is also, of course, of prime importance that the possibility of an error in law should be eliminated. Only one member of this Tribunal (the Chairman) is qualified in law, but he may lawfully be over-ruled on any question by the majority. Questions of law should, J. think, be left either to the ruling of the Chairman alone rather than to the chance of n majority vote; or a right of appeal from the Tribunal’s decisions on law should be given to the High Court.
The English Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1043 (section 0) provides for an appeal on questions of law to a judge of the High Court of England.
No stone should be left unturned to ensure that in all cases complete justice shall be afforded to those unfortunate members of the fighting services who become disabled and are obliged to apply for war pensions. A further amendment of the act may be necessary to effect that. Mr. O’Sullivan dealt also with the question of the closed tribunal. He stated -
In my opinion, war pensions entitlement appeals should be conducted in public, subject to curtain exceptions, and to necessary safeguards. Exceptional cases would include those in which public hearings might cause embarrassment or distress to a member of the forces or t” his dependants by the exposure of matters which could lie of no public concern. Appeals involving such matters could still be heard in camera at the request of the appellant or on the volition of the Tribunal. The open administration of justice is, of course, a timehonoured principle which is adopted wherever the British system obtains. It is based on sound reasons. Rightly or wrongly the breath of .-suspicion is often cast on proceedings conducted behind closed doors. And there arc other objections. (See, for example, the remarks of Lork Hewart, Lord Chief Justice Of England in The New Despotism, at pages 48 and 49, cited on page 7 of the Report of the Committee on Ministers’ Powers abovementioned.) Open hearings are the rule in the conduct of war pensions entitlement appeals miller thu English and Canadian systems. (The English Appeals Act 1043, and Canadian Pension Act.) lt is emphasized, however, that if open hearings! were the order, parties would require to be protected aga inst “ trial by newspaper “ and the Tribunal would be entitled to the protection which a court enjoys against licentious attacks upon its proceedings or its members.
This matter could bc provided for by regulation under section 77 (2) of the act.
He then dealt with the prohibition against legal practitioners appearing before the tribunal Officers of the Legal Aid Bureau, which was set up by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt-), ave qualified legal practitioners and advise servicemen on preparing their case for presentation to the tribunal, but they are not permitted to appear on behalf of the appellant at the hearing. Mr. O’Sullivan dealt also with the identification of the tribunal with the Repatriation Commission. He said -
I’ll ere is a strong impression in the public mind that the Tribunal is simply part of the Repatriation Department. This is technically correct. The Tribunal is set up under, the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, which is administered by the Minister for Repatriation. Although the Tribunal is distinct from the Repatriation Commission, it is nevertheless entirely dependent on the Commission, through the Minister, for its accommodation, its travelling facilities, staff, &c. The whole of the administrative work of the Tribunal is done by the Repatriation Commission, including the payment of salar y and allowances of members of the Tribunal. The staff is responsible to the Commission and not to the Tribunal. Owing to the lack of representation of the Commission (as mentioned in paragraph (i)) the Tribunal is often obliged to correspond with the Commission on vital issues, which concern both parties to an appeal. This makes for such close liaison between the two bodies as to create an impression in the public mind that the Tribunal is not as entirely independent of the Repatriation Commission as it is often said to bc. In England, a War Pensions Appeal Tribunal is legally and, in fact, entirely separate from the Ministry of Pensions, from whose decisions appeals are brought to the Tribunal. The English Appeal?. !ribunal is under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor (see English Appeal Tribunals Act l!)4.’t) and not under the Ministry of Pensions. it is obvious that a tribunal such as this should be, in fact, and in law, completely dissociated from the Department of Repatriation.
During the year 1 prepared some notes on the law and procedure governing appeals to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. These notes are now published in printed form and are available at the office of this Tribunal at Sydney. A printed copy of the notes is annexed to this report.
The act should be amended to give to the commission greater discretion in dealing with border-line cases. A man, who served for two months in the Royal Australian Air Force, became ill after innoculation and died from cerebral haemorrhage. For 25 years prior to his enlistment he had held the same position, and his health was excellent. Medical evidence could not show the cause of death. The widow applied for a pension, but her appeal was disallowed by the tribunal. When I raised thu matter, the Minister informed me that the act did not permit the payment of a pension in such a case. I contend that in a borderline case of that kind the commission should have the discretion to grant the payment.
– The Opposition moved an amendment to the bill but the Government rejected it.
– No amendment was moved on that occasion to cover such cases as this. Another matter which must be considered relates to what is described as the “bomb-happy” serviceman - a new problem which has arisen from this war. In this connexion, I refer to an article by Dr. A. T. Edwards, Medical Superintendent of Callan Park Hospital, recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald, under the heading, “Understanding the Bombhappy Serviceman “ -
World war “I. brought the terra “shell shock based on the erroneous theory that anxiety states, neurasthenia, hysteria, and illnesses such as mania or melancholia all had their foundation on a hypothetical physical disturbance, the result of physical agitation of the brain by air blast. . . .
The majority of psychiatric casualties no matter under what qualification of mental disorders they are placed individually, display a very definite emotional (more commonly styled effective) element both in the causa tion and in the symptoms. If the causative factors are long-standing, it is often difficult to discover the emotional complexes without prolonged investigation. …
Therefore, with the onset of World War fi., no term corresponding to shell shock was officially adopted. Unfortunately, the soldier needed a term to apply to these apparently mysterious disorders, and “bombhappy “ soon became popular, a term which both provided a readily understandable physical basis for the condition and also, being physical, robbed the condition of the stigma that unhappily still attaches to illnesses whose origin is mainly in the mind - the psychogenic disorders.
Dr. Edwards pointed out that there is no form of treatment available in Australia to deal properly with these cases. His article continued -
Therefore, to lessen the possibility of future illness in such cases, there is necessary some form of physiological treatment . ( psychotherapy) which, at present, is unavailable. Careful consideration of post-war medical planning will be necessary to provide adequate facilities for this treatment.
There is provision in the act to establish treatment such as he mentioned. I realize that the department has been at a disadvantage, on account of war conditions and shortages of man-power and materials, but, in fairness to the unfortunate servicemen who have been disabled in this manner, it should establish hospitals for their treatment. By receiving treatment at an early stage, they may be ‘cured and, as a result, the Government also will save considerable expenditure on’ war pensions for these men in later years arid save them from becoming a permanent charge on the community.
– As far as I am aware, I am the only member of this House who has not at some time inferred to the subject of housing. My silence has not been due to lack of interest in the subject; the reason is that I have a distinct aversion from repeating something that has been said over and over again and from drawing attention to a fact that is obvious to everybody. However, the recent establishment of a Department of Works and Housing has led me to speak on the subject. It seems to me that the difficulties which have hitherto made it almost impossible for the Government to cope with the housing shortage are now beginning to disappear, and that there should be some revision of the present method of handling the problem. Many instances have come to my notice of questions arising as to the desirability of issuing building permits. Often one man considers that his application has been rejected unfairly in favour of another. I have been informed that a points system is employed in allocating permits, and that, as far as it goes, it works with admirable fairness. The difficulty is that the points do not extend to a sufficient number of subjects. For instance, a man is allowed so many points on account of the lack of accommodation from which he now suffers, for .the number of people whom he must house, and so on. However, no points are allotted for the amount of material available close to the place on which he wishes to build. A case came to my notice of a man who applied for a permit and was refused, although there was, on a block adjacent to his own, a quantity of building material that had been there for years. As far Jas* I” know, the material is still there, [f that man had been allowed to build his house, even though, on the existing points system, his claim was not so important as those of other men, he would at least have relieved- the general shortage? of housing. On this ground, some degree of elasticity must be introduced into the system. I had another case of a man who, according to the department, had exceeded the amount of money allotted to hi,m for expenditure on his bouse. His contention - and;, as far as I know, the department does not combat it - is that the extra value in the house was the value of labour which he himself put into it in his own spare time. He is not a carpenter or building tradesman of any kind, but he is a handy man and he did a lot of work. His permit has not been revoked, but he has been told that he can go no further with the work on that house, although about three days’ work would complete it. The almostcompleted building remains empty, and the family which was waiting to go into his present house is still homeless, and so a vicious circle is created. I do not often cite the work of other countries and certainly I have not often cited Russia as an example to us. Too many people confuse the deeds of valour in the field of the Russian soldier with the economic and political- system of Russia itself. We all have been moved to the greatest admiration by what- Russia has accomplished in the fighting field, and we can also express admiration of certain things that Russia has done in the economic field. One feature of the Russian system that has very great virtue is that, when a plan is decided upon, it is completed by the quickest possible means. Therefore, I refer to what Russia is doing in connexion with housing. Our problem is negligible compared with that of Russia, which needs 25,000,000 homes. I quote an article dealing with what Russia is doing to overcome the shortage -
Though the planning scheme is Soviet-wide, building will be regionalized in the sense that local products will be used as far as possible - where clay abounds, constructional material will be bricks ; in forested regions, there will he .only log houses; and in the neighbourhood, of quarries, stone ones.
I believe that in parts of South Australia there are deposits of stone which can be used for building and which can be worked with a cross-cut saw. Yet, under our present system’,, a man who is prepared to put his own labour into cutting the stone and building a house is not permitted to do so. I quote further from the article about Russia -
In country districts, peasants will be left to build their own cottages, as they have done for generations. In rural communities, the only building expert is the man who makes big, brick stoves.
The owner himself does everything else, from digging the foundations to elaborate wood carving around the window. Now, however, he will get a government loan to buy construction materials.
If we in Australia were allowed a little more freedom to use local materials and our own skill, a great number of homes could be built in a short time. Many Australians are semi-skilled tradesmen. They could add to their existing homes or build small .and simple ones in country districts. I hope that the Government will not overlook that possibility. People must be encouraged’ to use their own labour and skill. This restriction of initiative is one of the blots on our present clothes rationing system. We have not allowed sufficient scope for the skill and industry which people are prepared to devote to the making of garments. A woman who is prepared to make her own dress has to surrender almost as many coupons for the material as does the woman who buys her clothing ready-made. I have pointed out one or two of the disabilities of the present housing system. As soon as they are removed, the main point will be to concentrate on the early production of joinery so that men who have a certain skill in building may use the expertly made joinery in the construction of homes. That is being done on a very large scale in Russia, and, in districts where many people are prepared to build their homes, the Russian Government is erecting houses as a pattern for their guidance. I hope that the Government will not neglect to make use of such skill and initiative as are lying idle in the community and which can be employed to the benefit of all concerned. I believe that the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) is anxious to press on with the work of home construction. I have already brought to his notice a very bad case of hardship and have received a most sympathetic reply. I believe that he is prepared to deal with the position as far as material and man-power restrictions will permit him to do so.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sheehan) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause S - (1.) A body corporate which desires authority under this Part to carry on bunking business in Australia may apply in writing to the Treasurer for authority accordingly. (2.) Where any such application is made, the Governor-General - («) if the applicant is a body corporate specified in the First Schedule - shall ; and (fc) if the applicant is a body corporate not so specified - may, grant to that body corporate an authority to carry on banking business in Australia.
Semite’s amendment No. 1 -
Leave out sub-clauses (1.) and (2.), insert the following sub-clauses: - “ (1.) The Governor-General shall, within seven days after the commencement of this Part, grant to each body corporate specified in the First Schedule an authority to carry on hanking business in Australia. (2.) A body corporate (not being a body corporate specified in the First Schedule) which desires authority under this Part to carry on banking business in Australia may apply in writing to the Treasurer for authority accordingly. (2a.) Where any such application is made, the Governor-General may grant to that body corporate an authority to carry on banking business in Australia.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
It is the intention of the Government that those institutions at present carrying on the general business of banking or the general business of a savings bank and listed in the first schedule to the bill shall receive an authority from the Governor-General as of right. Clause S, as originally drafted, provided that each such institution shall go through the formality of making an application for an authority, and a period of six months was allowed in which to make the application. The institutions listed in the First Schedule, other than the two savings banks, are already in possession of an authority under the National Security (War-time Banking Control) Regulations, and it is intended to issue the authorities under the proposed Banking Act automatically. Accordingly it has been decided to amend clause S to provide that all the institutions listed in the First Schedule shall automatically receive an authority from the GovernorGeneral within seven days after the commencement of this part, without the necessity for making an application. In addition to eliminating the unnecessary step of making application, the amendment will also facilitate the machinery arrangements necessary to change over from operation under the War-time Banking Control Regulations to operation under the proposed act. Sub-clauses 2 and 2a continue the provision in clause S, as now drafted, that any other body corporate desiring an authority to carry on banking business shall make application in writing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 13- (o.) Where the Commonweatlh Bank has, in pursuance of sub-section (2.) of this section, assumed control of the business of a bank, the Commonwealth Bank shall remain in control of, and shall continue to carry on, the business of that b:ti;U
Senate’s amendment No. 2. - Leave out “ shall remain in control of, and shall “, insert “ shall, subject to the next succeeding subsection, remain in control of and “.
Senate’s amendment No. 3. - After subclause (5.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (5a.) Upon the application of a bank of whose business the Commonwealth Bank has assumed control in pursuance of sub-section (2.) of this section, a Full Court of the High Court constituted by not less than three Justices may, if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary, for the protection of the depositors of that bank, that the Commonwealth Bank should remain in control of the business of that bank, order that the Commonwealth Bank shall cease to control the business of that bank, as from a date specified in the order.”
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
During the course of the debate in this House, the right honorable the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) expressed general agreement with the purpose of this clause, but pointed out that there was no provision for a bank, which had been assisted to escape from its difficulties, to regain from the Commonwealth Bank control of its business. The Government has given consideration to the point made by the right honorable gentleman. The purpose of the amendment now proposed is to provide that where, for the protection of depositors, the Commonwealth Bank has assumed control of any trading bank, and subsequently, that trading bank considers that its financial position is so improved that it is no longer necessary for the Commonwealth Bank to continue in control of its business, the trading bank may apply to the High Court for an order that the Commonwealth Bank shall cease to control its business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 23- (1.) The Commonwealth Bank n.ay, from ti mu to time, by notice in writing, require each bank to transfer to the Commonwealth Bank an amount of sterling equivalent to such proportion as is specified in the notice of that bank’s excess receipts of foreign currency as at the close of business on “a date specified in the notice, not being more tiwi n twenty-one days before the date on which (hp notice is given. (2.) The proportion specified in any notice under the last preceding sub-section shall be the same in respect of each bank.
Senate’s amendment No. 4. - After subclause (2.) insert the following new clause: - “ (2a.) Where, as at the close of business on a dato specified in a notice under sub-section ( 1 . ) of this section, a bank has not transferred an amount of sterling which it has been required to transfer in pursuance of any previous notice under that sub-section, thu excess receipts of foreign currency to which that amount of sterling is equivalent shall not, for the purpose of calculating the amount of sterling required to be transferred in pursuance of the first-mentioned notice, be taken into account as part of the excess receipts of foreign currency of that bank.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
When sub-clause 2 was being dealt with, in committee in this House, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) stated that, in his view, the clause as now drafted, made it possible for the Commonwealth Bank to require a trading bank to transfer approximately twice the amount of its excess receipts of foreign currency on the date specified in the notice. The point raised by the Leader of the Opposition has been examined by the Government and the purpose of the amendment now proposed is to make clear beyond all doubt that the Commonwealth Bank cannot require a trading bank to transfer the same amount on more than one occasion.
– I have not discussed the Senate’s amendment No. 3, and I shall not discuss amendments Nos. 4 or 5, because in each case they fairly meet the points raised by the Opposition. The amendment now under consideration, as the Minister has said, overcomes a possible danger which existed under the clause, and in my opinion it does it accurately. If I may say so at this stage, the Senate’s amendment No. 5 also seems to overcome the objection raised by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 4.9- (2.) The Treasurer may at any time direct the Auditor-General to make an investigation of the books, accounts and transactions of a bunk specified by the Treasurer and to furnish to the Treasurer and to the Commonwealth Bank such reports upon the affairs of that bank as the Treasurer directs and the AuditorGeneral shall make an investigation and furnish reports accordingly.
Senate’s amendment Ho. 5. - After subclause (2.) insert the following new subclause : - “ (2a.) Nothing in this section shall authorize the Auditor-General to furnish a report with respect to the affairs of any individual customer of a bank “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The purpose of this amendment is to make clear that the Auditor-General is not permitted to furnish to the Treasurer or to the Commonwealth Bank any report on the affairs of any individual client of a trading bank.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 7 -
Section 41 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “41. - (1.) Where a pensioner deserts his wife, the wife may, from time to time, apply toa court of summary jurisdiction . . .
Seattle’s amendmentNo. 1. - After” wife “ (first occurring) insert “or leaves her without means of support “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The matter with which this amendment deals was raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) and others and the object is to extend the provisions of the section to a wife who is left without adequate means of support. The other amendmentsmade by the Senate are consequential.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s consequential amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 16 -
From the amount of the war gratuity to be credited there shall be deducted -
any amount due to the Commonwealth by amember in respect of any period of service as a member unless, in the case of a deceased member, the war gratuity is to be credited in whole or in part toa person who, in the opinion of a prescribed authority, was totally dependent upon the deceased member at the date of his death or is in necessitous circumstances.
Senate’s amendmentNo. 3 - Leave out paragraph (c).
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
When the bill was in committee in this chamber the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) moved this amend ment, and whilst the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) assured the committee that the intention was to deduct from gratuity only in the case of embezzlement or overpayment, at the same time the Minister promised to consider the argument put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members. This has been done and to place the matter beyond all doubt this amendment has been made in the Senate. The Senate’s amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are merely drafting amendments consequentialupon the omission of paragraph c.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s consequential amendments Nos. 1 and 2 agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Drought Belief Bill 1945.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1945.
Loan Bill 1945.
Wheat for Stock Feed - Western Queensland Social and Economic Conditions : Roads ; Pastoral Industry; Refrigerators; Mail Services; Industrial Disputes - Australian Capital Territory : Post-war Development of Canberra; Railway Service ; Tourist Traffic - Emergency Medical Service - Bicycle Tyres for School Children.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Recently representations have been made to the Commonwealth Government by South Australian members of this Parliament for an increase of allocations of wheat to the pig and poultry industries in that State. The wheat position in South Australia has been the subject of consultation during the day between Mr. Thomson, general manager of the Australian Wheat Board, and the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock. The examination of the position indicated that South Australia has, in the earlier months, exceeded the quota that was allotted to that State by the Australian Agricultural Council. However, in view of the circumstances that have arisen, it has now been decided to make available to South Australia an additional quantity of 150,000 bushels for each of the months of August and September. This will bring the total quantity of wheat to be made available for South Australia for feed purposes to 330,000 bushels a month for the months of August and September. This decision has been made possible by favorable news concerning the importation of grain from the United States of America. It must, however, be clearly borne in mind that this quota cannot be exceeded, and pig and poultry farmers will need to adapt production programmes to the quantity of wheat that can be made available. The whole matter of wheat quotas for South Australia, and possibly for other States, will be a matter for examination in August, when the position for the balance of the year will be capable of assessment. The difficulties of transport from Western Australia have by no means been overcome, although transport is improving. Instructions are being issued to the Wheat Board that for each of the months of August and September, 300,000 bushels shall be made available to the pig and poultry industries. This quantity represents the maximum that can be made available to South Australia with any degree of safety; and it is thought that this will prevent any undue hardship and will enable poultry and pig farmers to carry on with relative security during the next two months.
– In July last, I directed attention to the position of the tobacco-growers in Queensland, and pointed out that their request for an increased price for tobacco leaf had not been granted, although the Government had seen fit to give £750,000 te the tobacco combine, which is the greatest combine in Australia. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), who I regret is not able to be present, promised an inquiry into the matter. I was impelled to retort that, if we could be guided by past experience, i report would not be received for twelve months. Unfortunately, my phophecy has been fulfilled. The report has not been presented, and no information has yet been furnished to me or the industry, although I have repeatedly questioned the Minister on the matter. The industry is in a parlous position, and planting time has arrived. If ever a primary industry has been neglected, it is the tobacco industry. I should like to know what subsidy was paid to the combine this year. I recall that £750,000 was paid to it last year. This Government professes not to favour combines, yet in this instance it has done so, to the detriment of the growers, who have not been given anything. That £750,000 was used to pay dividends to the shareholders of the company. The Government claims that the object of the subsidy is to maintain prices at a reasonable level, yet the growers are not paid a price that will enable them to meet the cost of producing a commodity which Australia needs, and of which it has been short during the war period. I urge that the report be presented and the decision finalized, and that some information be given to the industry, so that the growers may know where they are before they plant their crops.
I wish to eulogize an organization called “ New Deal for the West “ which has been formed in Queensland and has branches throughout the black-blocks, principally in the electorates ~>f Maranoa and Kennedy. It has just concluded a conference at Longreach. Its aim is to plan for the improvement of conditions in the inland, and thus make it more habitable. The organization is imbued with a spirit of hopeful enterprise, and the desire that this country shall prosper and that its foundations shall be corrected for developmental purposes in the post-war period. I admit that to some extent the lack of consideration shown to these districts in the past has been due to war conditions. I hope that, as these are’ relaxed, the Government will try to improve the conditions, and will give to these persons a greater incentive to carry on their organization. Many of the problems with which they are confronted affect the State Government, the Commonwealth Government not being directly concerned with them; nevertheless, the Commonwealth is interested in transport, hospitalization and housing. A resident in the back-blocks often has to have his child educated at a boarding school, because the necessary facilities are not available in his neighbourhood, and he is classed as a capitalist on that account, even though in many instances there is no alternative.
The drought has imposed very serious conditions. As the Commonwealth has large revenues and complete control of finance, perhaps it could make a greater allocation for road works in the west than it has made in the past. I could criticize the Queensland Government in that regard because, up to within the last year or two, it paid into general revenue money which it had received from the Commonwealth on account of the receipts from the petrol tax, instead of assisting the local authorities to a greater degree to construct and maintain roads. Rail transport is a State matter, but the Commonwealth is now becoming associated with it by reason of its intention to construct strategic railways. I am glad that the western parts of Queensland are to be considered and possibly assisted in that way.
The industries in the west make a large contribution to the prosperity of the State, yet they have had no effective priorities in respect of man-power or fodder relief. So little man-power has been released that the sheep grazing industry has really no priority. That- is the effect of a statement by the Deputy Controller of Man Power in Brisbane. Requests for releases for urgent requirements in the sheep industry have received scant consideration ; compared with representations by, for example, the dairying industry, the needs of which have been more urgent. I do not necessarily condemn that action in giving a higher priority to dairying, but disagree entirely with the unsympathetic attitude to the grazing industry. In respect of fodder, too, the sheep industry ; has not received any priority. The cattle industry is in a slightly better position, in that it has had a somewhat higher priority, although it has been lower on the list than other industries.
I stress the lack of amenities, such as refrigerators, in the remote parts of Queensland. When I have made applications on behalf of different persons, I have been told that the list of applicants is so long as to absorb all the supplies that are likely to be made available in the next eight months. I am certain that all of those applications were not made by residents of western districts, who are supposed to receive first priority. The need of the city dweller to keep his food supplies in good order is not nearly so urgent as that of the man out west, who has only weekly or fortnightly deliveries and cannot obtain the tyres or petrol which would enable him to visit shopping centres. I criticize the administration of this matter severely, and contend that the Government is- not living up to its promise that, in the release of kerosene refrigerators, those who live in the backblocks shall have first priority.
As soon as possible, the Government ought to give more sympathetic consideration to the residents of the remote areas’ in the matter of postal facilities. For a short period in the ‘30’s, a sympathetic policy was followed, but was not continued. The chief difficulty at present is to secure contractors to carry on the mail services. The Postmaster-General’s Department also is hesitant about continuing some of the present mail services because, when tender’s are called, the price asked by contractors is naturally, on account of higher costs, greater than that previously paid. It appears to me that the policy of the department is to make profits without increasing services commensurately. That is not fair to the outback. Because of the lack of transport facilities, many mail cars are the only means of getting from one place to another. The Postmaster-General’s Department should recognize that. If it cannot secure contractors, the Government should release men who will undertake the work, because these men render an essential service in the delivery of food. Pew releases would be necessary - probably only a dozen or so.
The Government should take action tq prevent intimidation and victimization of the grazing industry. A short time ago, a strike was caused by a minority of unionists, who ignored industrial awards and deified their own union. That trouble is beginning afresh. I pay tribute to the outback employer and employee, who are the finest citizens this country could produce. The Government should put a stop to the terrorism that is practised by this minority section, which has no real patriotism and does not desire to help the country, but rather disobeys awards of the court and even its own union. The grazing industry has every right’ to protection against sabotage.
I hope that the work of the organization to which I have referred will prove effective, and that the Government will not wait for it to submit requests by means of a deputation but will consider sympathetically whatever representations it may make.
.- We have heard a great deal about the preparation of post-war plans for industry, and I believe that much has been done to that end, but very little has been heard about what it is proposed to do after the war for the development of Canberra. There has been some talk of establishing a national university here, and of building more homes, but the Government should draw up plans for the general development of the city, for which this Parliament is peculiarly and wholly responsible. When I first came here in 1934, there was a shortage of 350 houses, and I believe that the deficiency to-day is even greater. There is insufficient accommodation for tourists and for single people employed in the departments. I know that, during the war, it has not been possible to develop Canberra, but we should be told what the Government has in mind. This brings me to the need for providing a better railway service between Canberra and other centres. The railway station here lis a disgrace to the Capital City. It was proposed some years ago to build a better railway station, but nothing was done. I disagree with the honorable member for Denison (Dr. ‘Gaha), who wants to hand Canberra over for university purposes. For good or ill, Canberra is the National Capital of Australia, and it is not now possible to develop it solely for any other purpose. I have always regarded Can- berra as a very beautiful city. It hanot been developed as it might have been if governments had taken more interest in it. I do not refer to the present Government particularly. Previous governments must take their share of blame. I believe that all Commonwealth departments should be transferred here, hut that cannot be done until there is more office accommodation, and until more homes are provided.
In 1909, the Seat of Government Acceptance Act was passed through thi* Parliament, and was assented to on the 13th December, 1909. It deals, with the matter of rail connexion, between Canberra and Yass. The first schedule of the act contains the following passage : -
In the event of the Common-wealth constructing a railway within the Territory to its northern .boundary, the State shall construct a railway from a point near Yass on the Great Southern Railway to join with the said railway, and the Commonwealth and the State shall grant to each other such reciprocal running rights as may be agreed upon, or as in default of agreement may be determined by arbitration, over such portions of that railway as are owned by each.
I understand that the length of railway to be constructed by New South Wales would be about 24 miles. I do not think that Sir Harold Clapp’s plana for the standardization of railway gauges makes any provision for the YassCanberra railway, but the Government should look into the matter. The time is long past when rail connexion to Canberra should he established by the shortest route, which i9, 1 believe, through Yass. Visitors and members of Parliament should not be asked to continue travelling by the circuitous route which is the only one available to those travelling from the south. It may be argued that railways will not be so important now as in the past, and that they will be superseded by air travel. However, I believe that the great majority of people will continue to travel by rail, and we should no longer tolerate the present inconvenient rail service to Canberra. That is why I suggest that negotiations should be undertaken with the Government of New South Wales so that plans for the construction of the Yass-Canberra railway might be drawn up at once.
There is the other aspect of this matter to which I have referred from time to time, namely, the development of tourist traffic. I dealt with this subject in April of this year. If this Parliament does not undertake the development of tourist attractions in and around Canberra, that work will never be undertaken because the responsibility rests entirely with the Commonwealth. I trust that this matter will be given favorable consideration at an early date.
– I wish to refer first to the treatment by the Commonwealth authorities of certain hospital patients, particularly in small country hospitals in New South Wales. Under section 36 1 of the New South Wales Hospitals Act, patients receiving medical treatment in public wards are exempt from payment. However, the Commonwealth Emergency Medical Services Regulations over-ride the State legislation and impose upon patients liability for payment for medical attention given by officers of the Commonwealth Emergency Medical Service. I have here an account rendered to a patient in the Emmaville Hospital for medical treatment from the 28 th January to the 2nd February of this year. The patient occupied a bed in a public ward. For medical treatment he was charged £3 3s., and for public ward accommodation £1 10s., making a total of £4 13s. At the bottom of the account, which was rendered by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Customs House, Sydney, the following words are stamped: -
For services rendered by -
On the 28th June a letter was forwarded by the senior Commonwealth medical officer to the patient acknowledging receipt of £3 3s. in payment of the account for medical attention by Dr. Steiner and further stating -
I desire to inform you that the balance of the account of £1 10s. is also due for Dr. Steiner’s services for the period 28th January, 1945, to 1st February, 1945 … If payment of the amount of £1 10s. referred to would entail financial hardship, consideration will be given to any representations you may care to make in this regard with a view to reducing or waiving the charge.
Most of the doctors of the Emergency Medical Service are refugees. The fee for their services is payable to the Commonwealth and the proportion allowed to the doctors themselves is very small. Although from the Government’s point of view the amount of revenue obtained by imposing these charges is insignificant, from the point of view ofmany patients who receive attention in public wards, the imposition is substantial. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to refer this matter to the Minister for Health and Social Services with a view to altering the regulations to abolish this charge. Probably most of the patients concerned are from the poorer sections of the community, and the payment of those fees imposes considerable hardship upon them.
The second matter with which I shall deal is one on which I have spoken on numerous occasions in this chamber; I asked many questions of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Beasley) when he was Minister for Supply and Shipping. I refer to the supply of bicycle tyres for school children in country districts. I have here a copy of a letter dated the 12th July, forwarded to the Department of Supply and Shipping, Sydney, by the president of the Armidale and District Chamber of Commerce. It states -
The letter goes on to state that a survey has been made of the requirements of the school children in the Armidale district, and that at the time of writing, 265 tyres and tubes were required. The writer asks that the matter be given special consideration as the circumstances are becoming such that chaos is likely to develop, with consequent diminution of school attendances. To-day’s sitting has been devoted almost entirely to a debate upon education, and methods of improving standards throughout the Commonwealth; but an improvement certainly cannot be effectedif such children are to be prevented from attending school because of the lack of bicycle tyres. Time and again, when I have raised this matter in this chamber, the reply has been that the children would be given equal priority with other bicycle users; but the continuance of the shocking state of affairs to which I have drawn attention indicates that those children are not receiving priority.
I ask the Minister to take particular notice of the matters which I have raised, and bring them to the notice of the Ministers concerned, so that the hardships imposed upon the sections of the community concerned may be alleviated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Land Tax Assessment Act - Applications for relief dealt with during the year 1944-45.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t. - On the 21st June, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
In South Australia, the Wax Service Homes Commission took over from the State Bank of South Australia as from 1st January, 1935, and the figures for that State exclude cases the control of which was not vested in the Commissioner prior to 1935.
New South Wales 5; Victoria 3; South Australia 7; Western Australia 8; Tasmania 1. No Order of the Court was executed in Queensland and two warrants were current in South Australia as at 31st December, 1936.
New South Wales 245; Victoria 97; Queensland 19; South Australia 47; Western Australia 33 ; Tasmania nil.
New South Wales 197; Victoria 49; Queensland 14; South Australia 4; Western Australia 16; Tasmania nil.
New South Wales 48; Victoria 48; Queensland 5; South Australia 43; Western Australia 17; Tasmania nil.
The number of cases in respect of which satisfactory arrangements were made and proceedings withdrawn subsequent to the granting of an order of the court was -
New South Wales 303; Victoria 91; Queensland 58; South Australia 25; Western Australia 63; Tasmania 2.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and an answer will be furnished as soon as possible.
Land Settlement: Purchases by Aliens.
y. - On the 19th June, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) asked me a question relating to the purchase of land by aliens.
As the honorable member’s question refers to aliens generally and not merely to enemy aliens I propose to set out in some detail the conditions governing the acquisition of land, first, by friendly aliens, and then by enemy aliens and subjects of countries in enemy occupation.
As to sales of land to friendly aliens, this matter falls outside the province of the Commonwealth; it is governed by the laws of the States, and there is no uniformity in the laws of the States. For example, there is no restriction in Victorian law on the right of aliens to hold or deal with land. The position in the other States is as follows : -
The Naturalization and Denization Act 1898 lays down a general rule that real and personal property in New South Wales (not being a British ship) may be acquired and disposed of by an alien in the same way as by a British subject.
There are, however, special statutes relating to Crown lands which impose restrictions on aliens - See Crown Lands Consolidation Act 1913, as amended by subsequent acts, ss. 156, 241, 265 and 274a and the Closer Settlement (Amendment) Act, 1916, s.11.
It appears that an alien cannot hold freehold land. A friendly alien may hold every species of personalty except chattels real. If resident in the State he may take and hold a lease for occupation by himself or his servants or for the purposes of any business, trade or manufacture for a term not exceeding 21 years (Aliens Act of 1867).
No person may lease any land exceeding 5 acres to an alien who has not first obtained a certificate that he is able to read and write from dictation words in such language as the Secretary for Public Lands directs. This act is not to prejudice the rights of foreigners between whose country and Britain there subsists any treaty whereby reciprocal civil rights are granted or declared, and to which the State accedes Regulations may be made for examination and for the granting of certificates and for the exemption of persons whom it is not considered necessary to examine. The Attorney-General has the power togrant exemption from the act (Leases to Aliens Restriction Act of 1912).
The Land Act 1910-1936 provide that no alien can apply for a selection (that is, a certain type of tenure from the Crown) under the act unless he has first obtained a certificate that he is able to read and write from dictation words in such language as the Minister may direct. If an alien does acquire a selection he must apply for naturalization within five years.
Under the Miner’s Homestead Leases Act of 1913 to 1929 an alien cannot obtain a lease unless he has obtained a certificate that he is able to read and write from dictation words in such language as the Minister may direct. Provision is made for the granting of exemptions.
With one exception, South Australian law does not impose any restrictions on the right of friendly aliens to hold or deal with pro perty. The exemption is contained in section 50 of the Irrigation Act, 1930-1936, which provides that persons of any Asiatic race who are not subjects of His Majesty the King are disqualified from being lessees of Crown lands under that act.
No Asiatic is allowed to take up Crown land. (The Minister has absolute discretion under section 16 (4) of Land Act 1933). Asiatic or African aliens may not acquire town or suburban lands or a lease thereof unless the lands are North of the 25th degree of South Latitude and declared specially open for those aliens (Regulations under the Land Act, 1933).
With certain exceptions (e.g. in relation to British ships) the rights of aliens in respect of real and personal property are similar to those of British subjects (Aliens Act, 1913 s.3).
It will thus be seen that the only State that has made any real attempt to deal with the problem is Queensland. As to how far that State has succeeded may be gauged from the infiltration of Italians into the sugar-cane districts of Queensland. The prohibition in that State on the acquisition of freehold land is not altogether effective as the tendency is for aliens in the sugar-cane districts to become naturalized as soon as they have lived in Australia for the prescribed period of five years and they are than free to acquire land.
The honorable member referred particularly to aliens purchasing the best farm lands in Victoria. If he is referring to friendly aliens purchasing land, this matter is one for the Victorian Government. If, however, the honorable member is referring to the purchase of land by enemy aliens, I stress the fact that, under the National Security (Land Transfer) Regulations, enemy aliens are absolutely prohibited from purchasing land and naturalized persons of enemy origin are prohibited from doing so without the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney-General or his delegate, the Solicitor-General .
All applications for consent are considered carefully and the personal character and loyalty of the applicant are thoroughly investigatedbefore consent is granted. Public feeling in the locality in which the land is situated is also taken into consideration and consent is refused in every case where there is real doubt as to whether it should be granted.
Concern similar to that expressed by the honorable member has, in the past, been expressed by other persons and organizations, and although in every case in which a specific transaction is mentioned the complaint has been carefully investigated, up to the present it has not been found in any of the cases that there have been any material contraventions of the regulations.
I add that the consent of the Commonwealth Treasurer is also required under the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations before any laud can be purchased by any person in Australia, whether he be a British subject or en alien.
l. - On. the 19 th July, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The question of providing a special ship for the transport to Australia of war brides is under examination in conjunction with the British Ministry of War Transport representative in Australia, and the matter is being pursued from every aspect.
The inquiries now being instituted will be extended to include the possibility of arranging transport for the wives of American servicemen in Australia.
Commonwealth Disposals Commission.
y. - On the 24th July, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) referred to a communication he had received from the Minister for Supply and Shipping stating that the Commonwealth Disposals Commission had large stocks of goods available for disposal, including motor vehicles, motor tyres, buildings and building material. The honorable member urged that the Government take immediate action to have these goods distributed to people who are in urgent need of them. I referred the honorable member’s representations to the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who has supplied the following information : -
The letter from which the honorable member for Wide Bay quoted was forwarded to him in reply to representations he had made on behalf of the Gympie Traders Association. This organization suggested that as goods being disposed of by the Disposals Commission had already been paid for by the Australian citizen through taxation, the Disposals Commission should not be permitted to sell on the civilian market, as this might mean that the goods would be competing with similar goods being produced by Australian manufacturers. The association considered that surplus stores should be distributed free of charge to the needy of the Australian nation through welfare organizations, and the balance shipped to the needy of Europe.
In my reply to the honorable member’s representations, I advised him that the Disposals Commission had already made available hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of goods to the suffering people of Europe through Unrra and other organizations. I pointed out, however, that there are large stocks of goods available for disposal and which are urgently required by the civilian community. I further stated that the commission is making every effort to ensure that these goods reach the .people requiring them as quickly as possible.
The goods being disposed of by the Disposals Commission represent a huge sum of taxpayers’ money and the Government considers that these stores which are urgently required by the Australian community should not be shipped outside Australia but should be made available to the people at a reasonable cost. All stores declared surplus are marketed with the least possible delay. By the end of this month the commission will have disposed of approximately 15,000 motor vehicles. Tyres are being disposed of immediately they become available. As soon as buildings and building materials are declared surplus they are offered to the State Governments. At the present time there are military camps in northern Queensland which I would welcome the State Government taking over, and large stocks of timber and other materials which are coming forward from the military camps at Atherton will be offered to the State. Stocks not taken up by the State are disposed of by public auction.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450726_reps_17_184/>.