22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. F. Adermann) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Br. EVATT. - Can the Acting Prime Minister give the House a statement now, and later a more complete statement, regarding the effect on the Australian continent of the nuclear experiment that was carried out yesterday in the area of the Monte Bello Islands? The right honorable gentleman knows, of course, of the general concern about the matter of nuclear experiments, which has been increased by dogmatic statements and assurances given over and over again by the Minister for Supply, which assurances appear not to have been justified in the light of subsequent events.
– I can only give the Leader of the Opposition the information that, I received in the early hours of this morning. Ironically enough, I was awakened at twenty minutes past three by some one who said he was associated with ‘f intelligence “. The Government’s actions in relation to this week’s atomic explosion in the Monte Bello area were precisely the same as they were in relation to all other atomic tests that have taken place in Australian territory; in other words, they were based on the most rigid safety precautions. These precautions include a very extensive advance weather reporting service. No explosion is allowed to occur until a clearance is received from an Australian safety committee composed of distinguished scientists. However, in view of the reports about the existence of cloud over the mainland, the Government sought further information from the safety committee. Early this morning - and I stress that point - a message was received from the committee. The committee has stated that it cannot overemphasize the fact that the whole operation was carried out without risk to life or property on the mainland or elsewhere, and that there is absolutely no danger to. persons on the mainland.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise had an opportunity to consider the request of the Olympic Games Civic Committee, that he should relax the present customs regulations that require all cine-camera film exposed by visitors while in Australia to be submitted for censorship to the Australian Film Censorship Board before being taken out of the country?
– Yes. This matter has been considered quite recently, and ] am pleased to be able to tell the honorable member that the practice that has been followed for many years, by which all movie films taken by tourists in Australia are required to be submitted for censorship before being taken out of the country, will not be followed in the case of visitor? to the Olympic Games. I do not think that the Olympic Games Civic Committee has yet been informed of this decision, but it will be informed very shortly. A? some honorable members are aware, the Department of Customs and Excise is at present conducting investigations designed to relieve the public of the necessity to comply with any customs regulations that are found to be unnecessary. I think that the requirement thai all films taken in Australia by visitors must be censored comes within that category. I hope that it will not be necessary to do that in relation to the OlympicGames visitors or, indeed, any future tourists.
– By way of a supplementary question, I desire to ask thi Acting Prime Minister whether he proposes to make only the bald statement he has just made on the Monte Bello experiment, and not to give honorable members the benefit of further particulars. I assure him that it is certainly not an answer te all the information on the subject that has been supplied . by broadcasting stations and other sources. It is merely an assertion by the people who should have been responsible, and whose own actions may come under criticism. Therefore, I ask the Acting Prime Minister to treat this matter as one for which hfmust be personally responsible.
– Hear, hear!
– I ask him to give the public the information to which it is entitled and which, I assure him, it must ultimately be given.
– As I have said, the information that I have given to the House was received by me in the early hours of this morning and, as a consequence of it, I have insisted upon a full report being supplied. I am in complete agreement with the right honorable gentleman that the whole matter is worthy of the fullest report, and I will see that I get it.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, at the forthcoming meeting of the Australian Loan Council, he will make representations to the Premiers in regard to the quick dieselization of the State railways so that their deficits can be conveniently reduced. Is there any possibility of the Commonwealth considering the establishment of a special revolving fund to advance dieselization. along the lines suggested by me in the House last night?
– The honorable member’s question is worthy of most serious consideration. Naturally, Australian transportation costs are very disturbing. Anything that can be done to reduce or alleviate that burden is worthy of the greatest consideration, but such consideration must, of course, be given by the States. I shall certainly bring under the notice of the responsible States the observations made by the honorable gentleman in his speech last night, which I have read.
– Thank you.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Two weeks ago I placed before him details of the desperate need for modern amenities for the waterside workers at Devonport, in Tasmania. Is the Minister aware that the conditions which have, for a long time, been endured by the waterside workers there must be about the worst at any port in Australia? Will the Minister, in an> endeavour to have prompt action taken in the matter, take it up with the body that will replace the Stevedoring Industry Board? May I point out that theport developments considered by the Devonport Marine Board do not affect the area where the waterside workers have their head-quarters.
– The honorable member raised this matter in theHouse a little time ago and I immediately took it up with the Stevedoring Industry Board because it seemed to me, even with the imperfect knowledge that I then had of the situation, that his criticisms of the Government and of the board were completely unjustified. The information supplied to me by the board confirms that impression. I am told that towards the end of 3954 the board offered financial and technical assistance to the Devonport Marine Board for the erection of a new pick-up centre and amenities block. The offer was not accepted by the board, which stated, I gather, that it had no suitable land available. The Stevedoring Industry Board has kept in touch with the Devonport Marine Board and has recently been informed that plans are being prepared and will be forwarded when completed. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Stevedoring Industry Board iskeeping the matter under notice, and awaiting further action by the Devonport Marine Board.
– Can the Minister forExternal Affairs give the House any information concerning a paper that waswritten or published recently on the subject of the differences between and similarities of the Asiatic and European peoples ?
– Yes. A paper waswritten some time ago and published’ only recently by Mr. W. R. Crocker, theAustralian Ambassador to Indonesia. It was written in his capacity of Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University, lt was on. racialism generally in the world. Mr.. Crocker discussed the problem, which isone of the major problems of the world,. of the relationships between people of European race and people of nonEuropean race. Mr. Crocker has had, I think, an almost unique opportunity of observing in this field because of his long service in Africa and India and, now, in Indonesia. I believe his paper, which could broadly be called a paper on racialism, is a distinct addition to the rather scanty literature on this subject. A lot has been written, but very little has been written by people who are adequately equipped by experience and training to comment on this problem. It is written in very frank terms, which is unusual but, at the same time, in very sympathetic terms. Unfortunately, only a relatively small number of copies of this paper has been printed and published by the university. I commend it to any honorable members who are particularly interested in this problem and I shall be very glad to make a copy of Mr. Crocker’s invaluable paper available to them.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government has given any consideration to the question of bringing down legislation to declare parliamentary privilege and to revise the procedure of dealing with breaches of privilege. If not, will he take up the matter with the Prime Minister on his return to Australia with a view to setting up a parliamentary committee to examine this subject?
– I know that the Prime Minister has given consideration to the aspects of the matter to which the honorable member has referred. How far it has gone I do not know, but, naturally, in the absence of the Prime Minister, I shall not intervene in anything that has been done in this regard. The matter will be brought to the right honorable gentleman’s notice when he returns.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has any further information to give the House on a possible settlement of the shearing dispute.
– I cannot tell the House very much more than lias already appeared in the press, arising out of yesterday’s proceedings before the conciliation commissioner. It is quite obvious that the conciliation commissioner is willing and, indeed, most anxious to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion under the auspices of our arbitration system. I shall see what further information I can obtain on the matter. It would appear from published reports and from information that has reached me that the margin or area of dispute between the parties is so narrow at the moment that it certainly should not be allowed to count against the great public and national interest which is involved in this important matter.
– I preface a question which I address to the Acting Prime Minister by pointing out that in a recent judgment on the basic wage the Commonwealth Arbitration Court granted a rise of 10s. a week, or £26 per annum, to Commonwealth employees. Is it a fact that Commonwealth public servants will receive an increase of only £24 per annum, or 9s. 24d. a week? Why has it been necessary to reduce the increase to public servants by £2 per annum?
– The leaders of the unions concerned are quite conversant with the reasons for the making of adjustments in the manner indicated by the honorable gentleman. The basic wage was increased by £26 a year, of which £2 has already been received by those who come within the scope of the increase, because for years a formula has been applied whereby adjustments of this kind to public service salaries are made only in amounts which are multiples of six. The persons concerned know very well that of the £26 increase awarded by the court, £2 have already been received.
– How can an increase be received before it is granted by the court ?
– It may be received in anticipation.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry any information to indicate the probable effect of the rapid industrialization of China on the Australian wool trade?
– I cannot give the honorable member a precise statement of the probable effect on the Australian wool trade of the industrialization of mainland China, but we hope that as mainland China continues to industrialize, it will become a profitable market for the sale of Australian wool. As is well known to many honorable members, trading and commercial transactions are continually going on between mainland China and the Commonwealth, and there is every hope and expectation that these transactions will continue to increase in lie future.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the employment of large numbers of men on the Australian waterfront is being affected by the action nf this Government in withdrawing Navy contracts from the various dockyards? Will he take steps to ensure that these contracts are renewed so that our work force of highly trained mechanics and r.heir highly trained assistants will be kept intact and in constant employment, instead of being forced to register for social service benefits?
– That question should be addressed to the Minister for the Navy and placed on the notice-paper.
– If the honorable gentleman’s statement is correct, it is also a fact that work on the waterfront has been affected by inability to get wool onto the wharfs for shipment overseas.
– I direct to the Minister for Customs and Excise a question concerning the importation into this country, for propaganda, purposes, of vast quantities of such magazines as People’s China, Soviet Woman, China Recon and others, some of which were shown, to the Minister last week. Does hebelieve that the dissemination of this subtle and dangerous propaganda should: be allowed to continue unhindered, orshould we introduce legislation on thelines of the American Foreign AgentsRegistration Act to keep track of those persons disseminating it, or should wedemand reciprocity with Russia and Chinafor Australian propaganda ? Is there any liaison between the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Customs and Excise on this matter?
– As the honorable member says, I have seen some of thepublications to which he refers. I think only one of those which I wa. shown has actually been considered by thiDepartment of Customs and Excise in th* past as possibly coming within the designation of prohibited imports, but it was not prohibited and was released. Publications of the sort to which the honorable member refers are undoubtedly propaganda disseminated by the countries from which they come. But they are not direct propaganda. They are a kind of propaganda which most nations of the world use from time to time. They are of thiwindowdressing variety and are designed to convince the rest of the world of the excellence of the country from which they come and of the conditions of life which they represent. As I have said, they arcundoubtedly propaganda, but they are noi direct propaganda. Successive Australian governments have taken a broad view of publications of this sort, and, in general, have not prohibited them. Indeed, it is doubtful whether we haveauthority to do so under the existing law. The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations provide for the prohibition of documents advocating the overthrew of the Government by force, and activities such as the assassination of publicofficials, and disseminating direct subversive propaganda of that sort. But this description does not apply to thewindowdressing kind of publication. For my own part, I should be reluctant to seethe avenues of communication between nations closed to a degree which would prevent propaganda from this country, or other friendly countries, reaching nation,behind the iron curtain. The honorable- member asked me, also, whether there is any liaison between the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of External Affairs. There is no direct and continuing liaison between the two departments of which I am aware, but I should not hesitate at any time to seek the advice of my right honorable colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, if it was considered necessary.
– I should like .to take this opportunity to reply to the question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney on the 12th June concerning the Australian World Trade Fair which is due to commence in Sydney towards the end of July. I must apologize for the delay that has occurred in supplying the honorable member with an answer. However, I am sure he will not mind my dealing with the matter as f propose to do, because there has been a. good deal of misunderstanding and inquiry about the subject-matter that he rightly raised. In the first place, it should be made clear that the fair is entirely a private venture, from which the organizers, presumably, hope to derive financial gain. However, I should add that they undertook, at the outset, to make part of the proceeds available co the United Nations Children’s Fund. The organizers have sought government sponsorship of the fair on a number of occasions, but my colleague the Minister for Trade did not consider that the benefits to Australian export trade would justify such sponsorship being extended. Instead, as the honorable member is aware. all reasonable facilities were provided, through the Australian Trade Commissioner Service, to make the fair known overseas. In addition, the Department of Trade furnished details regarding organizations and firms which might be interested in exhibiting. From time to time, the organizers have been advised that any further reasonable assistance would be given, particularly in relation to overseas visitors who may wish to visit Australia to see the fair. Cn January last, the organizers sought special import licensing facilities for overseas exhibitors. They were informed, in the same month, that Australia’s balance of payments position did not warrant the expenditure of overseas exchange in this way. It was also pointed out to them that a wide range of goods could still be imported within the existing import licensing structure; so that if overseas producers, or their Australian representatives, wished to exhibit at the fair, they should be in a position to do so without having to obtain special import licensing facilities. The organizers were informed, also, that, when an exhibitor was confronted with a problem which he was unable to resolve because of import licensing difficulties, the possibilities of granting special licences would be examined. It will thus be seen that the organizers were informed in writing on this matter five months ago, and. further, that the Government’s decision not to grant special import licences to the value of, possibly, £400,000 is consistent with the view held for many months that the fair would not benefit Australia’s export interests to a substantial degree. It is the responsibility of the organizers to convince Australian exporters otherwise. The Government has taken no action to influence firms one way or the other. The fair has received wide publicity overseas, and the organizers have put a great deal of effort into it. I hope, therefore, that it will be successful.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware that some Asian students at the University of Melbourne have received letters from a government agency, warning them against, first, interfering with, or taking part in, political party discussions, and secondly, making party political utterances? Is the Minister in favour of that form of censorship? On the assumption that he is not, I ask him to inform me what action he is prepared to take to ensure that the greatest freedom shall be given to Asian students to indulge in such discussions and to air their views.
– I am not aware that any such instruction has emanated from the Department of External Affairs, but it is not impossible that an instruction of that kind, not necessarily in the form suggested by the honorable member, has gone out. We do take some trouble to see that Asian students, particularly Colombo plan students, do not get into the hands of Communists. Considerable effort is put into that work in all the capital cities where Colombo plan Asian students are studying. But, beyond that, I should be surprised to learn that any instruction had gone out from the Department of External Affairs or, for that matter, from any other government department with regard to the political activities or political interests of Asian students. However, I shall certainly inquire into the matter and advise the honorable gentleman accordingly.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Have the increased excise duties led to a reduction of the consumption of beer and spirits? If so, what has been the effect on the revenue of the Commonwealth?
– The department has no figures that relate directly to the consumption of those commodities, but it does keep figures relating to the duty paid on beer and spirits and to clearances from bond, which bear a direct relation to consumption. In view of the interest in this matter, I have had prepared a comparison of the clearances from bond and the duty paid in April and May of last year and April and May of this year. The figures show that clearances have fallen to some extent, but that revenue, except in one instance, has increased slightly. Compared with April of last year, excise clearances of beer in April of this year dropped by 23 per cent., but revenue increased by 5 per cent. A similar comparison of May of last year and May of this year shows that clearances of beer dropped by 27 per cent, and that revenue increased by 4 per cent. Turning to spirits, the comparison for the month of April reveals a decrease of 14 per cent, in clearances and an increase of 30 per cent, in revenue. For May there was a decrease of 22 per cent, in clearances, and a decrease of 1 per cent, in the revenue from duty. I think that it is too early yet to gauge the real effect of the increase in duty. We shall have a more clear idea of the pattern in another two or three months.
– Do the figures the honorable gentleman has given refer to import duties ?
– No, the information I have given relates to excise, not to customs duties.
– I direct two questions to the Minister for Immigration concerning immigrant hostels. The first relates to the means of access over the Georges River to East Hills, which the Department of Immigration formerly provided by a bridge which has collapsed, and now provides by a launch service. Does the right honorable gentleman know that the charge for adults travelling on this launch is 5s., and that for school children 2s. 6d., a week, and that the service is expressly provided at the passenger’s own risk? Can the Minister say whether any plans have been, or are being, prepared to resurrect the bridge and, if so, when they will be put into operation? Secondly, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether British immigrants in hostels have been forbidden to use kerosene heaters in their flats this winter. Have they been instructed to use no heaters other than the inadequate and archaic electric heaters which have been issued to them? Has Commonwealth Hostels Limited received any complaints from fire or municipal authorities concerning the use of kerosene heaters, which are bought in very great numbers by householders in every part of the Commonwealth? If it has, will the right honorable gentleman reveal them to the House? Will he agree that, coming on top of the removal last winter of sitting-rooms in hostels for British immigrants, the oppressive ban on kerosene heaters is calculated to diminish still further the number of arrivals from the British Isles which, in 1955, fell to less than 40 per cent, of the total arrivals, and to increase still further last year’s record number of immigrants who returned to the British Isles?
– Order I The honorable gentleman should come to his question. He is giving a great deal of information.
– Is it correct that in the first three months of this year half as many British immigrants left here-
– Order ! The honorable member will cease to comment and will complete his question.
– Then I ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is true that in the first three months of this year half as many British immigrants left Australia as arrived in Australia, and that the British Isles fell to second place among our sources of immigrants.
– I shall not attempt, at this stage, to give a detailed reply to the honorable gentleman’s series of questions. I have a detailed report from the department on the mishap at the George’s River hostel. The other matters to which he has referred will be examined, and I shall see that he is supplied with a detailed statement covering the various points he has raised. In regard to the last point that he made, to the effect that in the first three months of this year the number of British immigrants who left Australia exceeded the number in some comparable earlier period, if I understood him aright, may I say that I am surprised that any member of this House who has heard the explanations I have given, on various occasions, at question time on this matter, is still labouring under any delusion about it. I have repeatedly pointed out that the Commonwealth Statistician’s method of computing permanent departures has the effect of including in the figures, as permanent departures, a very considerable proportion of Australians who go overseas for a period of more than twelve months. It is easy to receive a quite misleading impression from figures so computed, which do not reflect the real situation. I am happy to be able to confirm again the fact that Australia has been receiving, and continues to receive, more British immigrants than any other country in the world is receiving, and that our rate of reception of British immigrants in recent times has exceeded the combined total received by Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. We are continuing, so far as we are able, to take the highest intake of British immigrants.
– I have received from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely -
The need for immediate action to relieve the desperate plight of age, invalid and widow pensioners.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- The Labour Opposition has been stirred into taking this action because of the absolute indifference of Government supporters to the desperate plight of this very deserving section of the community. In October last, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), speaking on behalf of the Opposition, directed the attention of the Government to the fact that even after the pension rate had been increased to £4 a week it was still11s. below the amount that would have been required at that time to restore the value of the pension to what it was under the Labour Government in 1948. When the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) talks about the pension rate having been increased, since this Government took office in 1949, by881/2 per cent., he completely disregards the value of money at the relative periods. If he were to take into account the value of money, he would discover that the purchasing power of the pension has never been higher in the history of this country than it was under the Chifley Labour Government in 1948.
We are not arguing that even Labour governments have done enough. In my opinion, the pension rate has never been adequate to meet the needs of these people. I am merely making a comparison between the two governments. Strangely enough, the pension rate in this country has never been determined on the basis of what it costs a person to live. If it had been based on that principle, it would have been much higher. One would have expected this Government to honour its election promise, given solemnly by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1949 and repeated later, that it would at least maintain the existing level of purchasing power of the pension; but it has not done so. Since the rate was fixed at £4 a week, the basic wage has again risen, wages generally in this country have risen, and the cost of living has risen, but the Government has taken no steps to adjust the pension rate. As an illustration of the callous attitude of the Government towards these unfortunate people, I remind the House that, when a question was asked yesterday about whether the Government intended to take any action before the end of this sessional period to deal with the plight of these people, the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) said that it was a matter that would be considered in due course when the next budget was i,ning prepared. That will be months ah> >t ‘. Everybody knows that to-day will be the last sitting day of the Parliament for some months and that it will not be meeting again until probably the first week in. September or late in August. What is to happen to these unfortunate people during the forthcoming severe winter months ?
Let us consider what the pension rate ought to be. As I have stated, in October last the honorable member for EdenMonaro calculated that the pension should then have been £4 lis. a week to restore it to the value which it represented in 1948. That being so, and having regard to the increased cost of living since the pension was last increased, it ought now to he at least £5 a week. Yet supporters of the Government, knowing the desperate plight of these people, make statements that are not in accordance with facts and which no reasonable member of the community will accept. When we were last discussing pensions legislation, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) said that we had reached the end of the road in relation to financial provision for social services. That meant, in effect, that from his point of view there could be no further increase. As a solution to the problem of these people, he said, “ A law ought to be introduced to compel children to support their parents “. What a humiliating position in which to put an old couple ! There are not many children who would not aid their aged parents, but many of them are unable to help, because of the increased cost of living. But here is the strange part about it. From the parsimonious attitude of the Government, one would imagine that these people were living on charity. What thipensioners receive to-day is not charity at all. They have contributed to the revenues of this country out of which people have obtained these benefits in the past, and, when their turn arrives, they are being paid only their own money.
Everybody knows that the present Government pilfered the National Welfare Fund. It abolished the National Welfare Fund, which was established by a farseeing Labour government so that these payments could be guaranteed against any interruption or diminution in the future because governments might argue that no money was available or that there wafinancial stringency. Although the present Government abolished the National Wei fare Fund, it did not abolish the sonia’: services contribution that was imposed and paid into the fund during the period of office of the Labour government. Ti is quite true that it does not appeal separately on income tax assessments, but I challenge any member of the Government to show that when the National Welfare Fund was abolished this Government took any action to reduce taxation, lt did not ! It kept the tax but abolished the fund.
The Minister for Primary Industry tried to support the Government’s case by saying, “ Yes, but to-day in addition to the pension rate we provide medical services and pharmaceutical benefits to pensioners and we also provide finance to establish a scheme to subsidize the construction of homes for aged people “. 1 shall deal with those matters in a moment, but at this point I want to refer to a statement made by Dr. Selwyn Nelson. He is not a member of the Labour party ; he is secretary of the Post Graduate
Committee in Medicine at the Sydney University. Speaking at a Rotary club luncheon on the 5th June last, he said that there were 20,000 old people in New South Wales who could not afford to buy enough food ; that there were 12,000 pensioners who would be unable to buy enough fuel to keep warm ; and that there were 20,000 of them who would be unable to get all the clothes they need. Yet the Minister for Primary Industry, who is reputed to be almost a millionaire, said, But they have free medicine and they have free pharmaceutical benefits “.
Let us examine the situation for a moment. A pensioner to-day receives t’4 a week. If his wife is ineligible for a pension because she has not reached the required age, she gets £1 15s. That is a total of £5 15s. a week to keep an old couple The widows of this country are also in a desperate position. An A class widow with at least one child under the ige of sixteen years is expected to exist £4 5s. a week. Other classes of widows receive £3 7s. 6d. a week. The Government provides only £4 10s. a week f’or war widows - the widows of men who have made the supreme sacrifice in. the defence of this country. How can anybody live on such a sum ? It is almost impossible to exist on it, and if the pensioners were unable to get some assistance from other quarters, they would probably not be able to exist.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), in his capacity of Minister for Health, had a peculiar line of argument in trying to establish that this Government had dealt generously with this deserving section of the community. He dealt with the free medical scheme and said that approximately S per cent, of the community benefited under this scheme and that there were 1,500,000 prescriptions, doctors’ visits and >o on in the year 1954-55. He went on co point out that that cost approximately £3,000,000. Then he calculated that only 10 per cent, of these people would be sick at any one time, and he said that because of this the pensioners would receive h benefit equivalent to the addition of £1 a week to the pension rate. Have we ever heard such stupid reasoning by a Minister of this Government? No doubt the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr.
McMahon) will tell us that the Government has provided a great benefit for pensioners because it contributes £10 toward? the cost of their burial when they die !
Let us look at the Government’s record in regard to social services. It agreed to abolish the means test as it applied to pensions. It promised to do that within a definite period of time. The Government promised to have a report prepared, which would be presented to this Parliament, and to abolish the means test within a certain period of time. Instead of abolishing it, the Government has extended it by providing that a means test should be applied in regard to the pensioner medical service. It has provided that a single pensioner who has an income of £2 a week or more in addition to the pension, shall not receive the benefit of the free medical service- An old couple, each of whom received the pension of £4 a week, and who have a separate income of £4 a week, making a total income of £12 a week between them, cannot get the benefit of the pensioner medical service. These provisions were based on a decision of the Government that any pensioner who had a permissible income which, in December, 1.953, would have prevented him from receiving the full rate of pension, would no longer be eligible for benefits under the pensioner medical service. Why did the Government make this change in the arrangements that existed previously? Il did so because the British Medical Association demanded that the Government should do so. It demanded that the Government should accept the principle that, that association had laid down, and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), when he was Minister for Health, said that it was not right that a married couple who had a combined income of £15 a week, including their pensions, should also receive free medical treatment. I remind honorable member? that in order to receive a combined income of £15 a week, that couple would need to have a separate income of £7 a week in addition to their pensions, and not many pensioners in this country are in that position. Since 1953, however, the basic wage has increased, until it is now £12 13s. a week in New South Wales, and married couple pensioners are being denied the benefit of the free medical service when their combined income is actually 13s. less than the basic wage. It is obvious that the Government is determined to cut down its expenditure, irrespective of the means it must adopt in order to do so.
Class A widow pensioners, who receive an income of £6 5s. a week, including pension, are denied the free medical service. The other classes of widows who receive £5 7s. 6d. a week, including the pension, are also denied free medical treatment. I shall read to the House the words of the right honorable member for Cowper in order to prove that the change in pension arrangements was introduced at the request or direction of the British Medical Association. On the 7th October, 1955, the right honorable gentleman, who was then Minister for Health, said -
Consequently the British Medical Association informed the Government that it would continue the pensioner medical service after the 31st October, 1055, only if the service was restricted to pensioners able to satisfy the means test in force at the 31st December, 1953.
In the short period of time left at my disposal, let me turn to the subject of rents. Every one knows that the unfortunate pensioner is exploited in many cases bv unscrupulous landlords, who increase rents every time the pension rate is increased. Many of these unfortunate pensioners to-day are obliged to pay from 30s. to £2 a week in room rent. If one subtracts the amount paid in rent from the total amount of the pension, and considers that the whole of the remainder is spent on food, a pensioner would be able to spend about 2s. 5d. on each meal. It must be obvious, therefore, to any reasoning member of this Parliament that many of these unfortunate people are unable to have three meals a day, and are merely eking out an existence. In making that calculation I have made no allowance for the provision of fuel for heating purposes, for lighting, clothing, smokes, fares, newspapers or a wireless set. Does the Government believe that the unfortunate pensioners in this country are not entitled to such things as smokes or newspapers, or to have a wireless set in their rooms?
I have heard Government supporters talking about what they have done by way of subsidizing the building of homes for the aged. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who now sits at the table, said in reply to a question in this House on the 14th March last, that there had been 116 approved applications for assistance in the building of homes for the aged, and that the Government had spent £1,392,000 in this direction.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Among the members of Her Majesty’s Opposition in this House, and elsewhere, there are some fine, warm-hearted characters who, largely by accident, find themselves caught up in the Australian Labour party, but no one would ever dream of including the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in that category. Among Her Majesty’s Opposition in both Houses of this Parliament, there are men of broad sympathies, wide experiences and deep understanding, but no one would ever dream of describing the honorable member for East Sydney in these terms - nor would he want to be described in these generous terms. He is a militantsocialist, a vicious socialist who, day in and day out in this place, demonstrates his most urgent intention to destroy democratic society as we know it, in the most cruel and callous way. He is a militant without mercy, a combatant without compassion, who has always taken the greatest pride in his utter ruthlessness, of which we have had a demonstration this morning. Yet he is the one, of all the members of the Opposition, who has been selected to launch this attack upon a government that has devoted more time, more energy and more imagination to the provision of social services than has any other government since federation. No other group of Labour party members has ever been reduced to such desperate circumstances as this one has, when it selects a militant without mercy to stand here and mock at mercy, a combatant without compassion to conscript compassion. If the honorable member for East Sydney is to be the champion of the poor, the needy, the distressed, the aged or the very young. then their cause is lost, and all that this Government has done for them, or is likely to do, must turn to dust and ashes.
The honorable member who has submitted this matter as one of urgent public importance has already made the political descent to Avernus, and to him the height of the flames is of no importance. If the public memory is short, let me revive it. Is it so short that the people have forgotten the circumstances of the poor, and of the people in need of these social services benefits, prior to 1949, when, after nearly nine years of socialism, this country was brought to the brink of disaster? Is the public memory so short that the people have forgotten the miserable confessions of failure uttered by the honorable member for East Sydney at that time, and by those who sat beside him ? Child endowment for the first child was impossible; that is what they said. An increase in the age and invalid pensions from £2 2s. 6d. was financially impossible; it could not be done, said the honorable member for East Sydney. He said that there was no hope of increasing the allowance payable to dependent wives and children. That is what honorable members opposite said six and a half years ago. They said that the widows’ pensions could not be increased, nor the Wind pension, nor the unemployment and sickness benefits. They said that it was impossible to ease the means test. Similarly, they could not extend the rehabilitation services that were introduced at that time, or increase the taxation concessions for men over 65 years, and women over 60. That is what honorable members opposite said when they had an opportunity to do the very things that the honorable member for East Sydney suggests might be done now. These were what might be called the routine negations of the Australian socialist party in 1949. Reciprocity with the United Kingdom and New Zealand could not be attempted at that time. Though they had tried for years, there was no hope for a medical pensioner service. Similarly, there was no hope for a pensioner pharmaceutical service, and the socialist government could devise no way of assisting the religious and charitable institutions to provide homes for tha aged. These failures were not unique or exclusive to the socialist government of that particular time. They have been the inevitable consequences of socialism, wherever it has been attempted. Nor would I have mentioned them but for the shabby sham of this urgency motion from the honorable member for East Sydney at the fag end of a long parliamentary session, when it can only serve to delude and lacerate the feelings of the credulous and the uninformed.
Let me deal categorically with what the honorable member for East Sydney has had to say. During the six and a half years of this Government’s office, the maximum pension has been increased, on five occasions, by a total of £1 17s. 6d. a week, or an overall increase of S8.2 per cent The total expenditure on social services and health benefits has, in round figures, increased from £80,000,000 in 1948-49, the last full year of the socialist government’s term of office to £218,000,000 to-day, an. increase of 170.35 per cent. I have excluded repatriation benefits, war service homes, the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, education, taxation concessions for the family manespecially in the matter of education-^ though all of these are social services, Indeed, if they had not been, excluded, the amount that this Government has been expending on social services would be seen to exceed £400,000,000, all provided by an effective work force of some 3,300,000 people.
In addition, the Government has liberalized the means test by increasing the permissible income figure from 30s. to £3 10s. a week, and by entirely excluding income from property. The property exemption has been increased from £100 to £200, and the property limit from £750 to £1,750. Discretionary power has been provided to enable property to be disregarded in special circumstances, and in necessitous cases. The special exemption in respect of the surrender value of life insurance policies has been increased from £200 to £750. The means test has been abolished for blind persons, and the circumstances of the parents of claimants under 21 years are completely disregarded in determining eligibility for invalid pensions.
It is my proud privilege to say that this Government’s record in regard to pension increases and the relaxation of the means test has been unequalled in the 47 years that have elapsed since Commonwealth pensions were introduced. I must emphasize that a pensioner may now own a home, furniture, personal effects and a motor car - regardless of their value without prejudice to his pension. Ho may also have other assets up to £200 in value, or £400 for a married couple, and earnings or superannuation up to £3 10s. a week, or £7 a week for a married couple, and still receive the full pension. Nor does income from property affect his pension. A qualified person may now receive a part pension, provided his additional assets do not exceed £1,750, or £3,500 in the case of a married couple. A pensioner may have, by way of income plus pension, a total of £7 10s. a week, or £15 a week for a married couple.
But that is not the total benefit. It must never be forgotten that free medical and pharmaceutical benefits have been provided for qualified pensioners and their dependants, thus adding to the real value of the pension and eliminating the social insecurity that was, until this Government took office, inseparable from sickness in all its forms. The one increasing purpose of the Government has been to give maximum assistance to the needy, without prejudice to those who have made some provision for their old age and their infirmities, but it is not m easy task. If we were to attempt to concentrate all our available resources - and I have said they exceed £400,000,000 - upon providing social services for those who are without means and/or earning capacity - and the proposition is not without merit - it would destroy incentive and deny to us an industrious, provident and self-reliant people. That is the grave danger that confronts us in the general expansion of social services, and it is one which, in the changing circumstances of modern society, must he met. Yet, here Ave have this militant and combatant socialist, a man completely devoid of mercy and compassion, standing in his place as the representative of the Australian socialist party, and launching an attack against a government that has devoted more time, more energy, more resources and more imagination to this problem than has any government of this or any other free country. Sums in excess of £400,000,000 have been expended in order to give a measure of social security and domestic happiness to those in our community who stand in such need.
The proud record of the Government is to be found in the comparative figure? that I shall now give. They relate to mv own department and to the Department of Health only. A total of £80,777,356 was spent on social service and health benefits in the last full year of the socialist Government. That wasthe best that the socialists could do when the honorable member for East Sydney was able to exercise an influence in this matter. His Government could not increase that sum by a single fragment. 1» contrast, this Government is spending, in the current financial year, upon social service and health benefits alone, the sum of £218,404,000. The difference is £137,626,644, and that prompts me to say that there are 137 reasons why this matter of urgency should, be rejected. Tt was raised by a man who has no understanding of the position. It was moved by a man who has neither compassion nor mercy, and it is designed to defeat the very purpose of the social services obligations of this or any other government.
Mr. MINOGUE (West Sydney) [11.36 1- - I am pleased to have the opportunity of supporting my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), speaking for all States in general and the State of New South Wales in particular, because I think that in New South Wales the suffering is the greatest. This morning, the people of Australia awoke to find that the atomic bomb had sent a cloud over Australia and, naturally the people were concerned as to how it would affect them. The first question that was asked when the House resumed this morning was in connexion with the atomic bomb. But the Government has not considered for one moment that thousands of pensioners are living in semi-starvation to-day. There are something like 5,000 or 6,000 pensioners in West Sydney alone, and I daresay there are a similar number in East Sydney. In the electorate of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) there are possibly another 4,000 or 5,000. The plight of those people is something to be dreaded. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) went back into records of four and five years ago, stating that the Government had given a rise of 2s. 6d. a week to the pensioners. Then it waited until the election year and gave them a little more. I predict here, to-day, that, possibly, in the next budget in September, the pensioners will be given an increase of 2s. 6d. again. That is what this Government says it has done for the pensioners.
If it were not for the assistance that has been given by the New South Wales Government, the Sydney City Council and the benevolent societies, the plight of these good people would be far more desperate. Some pensioners have brought their rents receipts to me and shown me that they are paying at least £2 a week for a room. In Sydney we have allowed big buildings to be erected, replacing homes in which pensioners had been able to live for the payment of a reasonable rent. A whole street of homes has been taken down to make way for the Sydney Morning Herald building at a cost of £5,000,000. The same can be said of other organizations. This Government stands condemned in view of the promise that it made in 1949 that it would relax cbe means test and give something to pensioners who were absolutely dependent on the pension.
There are two classes of pensioners. There is the pensioner who owns his home and who gets £4 a week, or £8 a week if his wife receives a pension. Married couples are not so badly off. But I speak especially for the pensioner who receives the net £4 a week. The Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who are seated at the table, were good enough to come to my electorate and at least one of them visited a home in my electorate; and the other gave serious and careful consideration to what they could do. In that home in Buckingham-street, Redfern, 118 ladies are being cared for. That home is in debt. Because a few extra shillings are being paid by the State Government, the people who live in that home will be excluded completely from the benefits of the legislation about which we have heard so much. The provision of money for the building of homes for the aged is a trap. I said so to the former Minister for Social Services when he introduced the relevant bill. It was a step in the right direction, but it provided only £1,500,000 for the whole of Australia, although the Government is spending £200,000,000 on war and cannot account for the expenditure of that sum. It refuses to assist people who are prepared to work night and day on behalf of the poor people in Buckingham-street, Redfern. Some of them are Americans, some are English, some are Irish and some are Australians. They are prepared to give a lifetime of faithful service to this cause. The former Minister for Social Services can tell honorable members all about the home to which I have referred. Because some technical point is involved, the Government has failed to give the organizers extra money to enable them to enlarge that home.
In Young-street, Sydney, there is an organization called the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Its members would not thank me for speaking to the House on this subject to-day, because they have never asked anybody whom they have assisted for a penny. They provide some.thing like 14,000 meals a month, in addition to 30 beds a night, for pensioners. That is how many pensioners are able to exist until the end of the fortnight, when they receive their pension. Shame on this Government! The members of this Government should hang their heads in shame because they have allowed the pensioners of this country to die in semistarvation. The Minister for Social Services accused my colleague from East Sydney of being a socialist. Yet, we have a man here from South Australia who promised on behalf of the Liberal party what he would do. He climbed back into his seat in Sturt with the same promise. What has become of the Liberal party’s promise? In Sydney, the City Council last year gave £18,000 as a Christmas relief to the pensioners of Sydney. We of the Federal Electoral Council of West Sydney hold an annual dance in the Sydney Town Hall. It will be held on the 13th July and the tickets are 4s. Sir Edward Hallstrom, that charitable man, has freely given a refrigerator to be raffled, and has told the people that he is in sympathy with us. That is a condemnation of the Government and nothing else.
A firm in North Sydney, Halvics Industries, has given another prize, and so have other people. Yet the Government of Australia, which does not know what to do with its millions of money, is depriving these people of an existence. Shame on that Government ! I hope and trust that when the next general election comes around the people will elect a government that will see that thisposition is changed.
The honorable member for East Sydney explained about the medical pensioner cards. I know a poor chap who is 71 years of age. He got a pension all right but, because he went down to the city markets and minded cars and possibly got ls. or 6d. or 2s. from those who liked to give money to him, he was told by the Department of Social Services, “ You must get a book and write down every penny that you get. You must tell us how much you get before we can issue that medical card “. The Government sends inspectors into the homes of these people. The State Government of New South Wales has been- good enough, through its welfare organization, to supply its people with spectacles. An inspector examines the applicant’s home before spectacles are provided. A doctor in the Department of Social Services told a lady that she could not obtain glasses for twelve months, although a doctor at the hospital said that she was going blind.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– My colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has reminded me of the saying, “ East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet “. On this occasion we have seen East and West Sydney meeting on common ground, but f am quite certain that they have not met in terms of the sincerity with which they have put their case. To put it shortly, I would never doubt the sincerity of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). I thank the honorable member for Mallee for reminding me of a suitable quotation to use on this occassion. A few moments ago, before rising to my feet, I counted the members of the Opposition who were present in the chamber listening to the speech made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and to my surprise he had the amazing audience of eleven of his colleagues. Only eleven members of the Opposition are prepared to support his statements relating to pensioners and his accusations against the Government regarding social services. We are justified in thinking, as I believe to be true, that the other members of the Opposition would not support the honorable member for East Sydney, or that they are not interested in this immensely important problem. In any event they are not prepared to come into the chamber to listen.
– And the Minister will gag us as soon as he has finished his speech. What sort of treatment is that?
– I put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Opposition has shown little interest in this immensely important debate.
– The Minister is crook.
– I now come to the position of the Government.
– He is crook in more ways than one.
– Order I
– The feigned irritation of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is well known. He can conjure up reasons for the most extraordinary exhibitions more easily than can any other member. It might be wise to ignore his interjections. I now come to the principles on which our thinking is based. The Government has in social services a record of achievement of which it is proud, but no government ever thinks that it can do enough for the poorer sections of the community. No government ever feels that everything that could be done has in fact been done, and we would not be prepared to make claims that might be extravagant hi that sense. In which way do we look at the problem? We look at it with these principles in mind : First, we try to achieve justice for pensioners and to give them a basic rate of pension that will meet their needs. The honorable member for West Sydney in his typical fashion agreed that married pensioners were not badly treated, and so he devoted his case, not to the married pensioner, but to the single pensioner, and impliedly asked that special consideration should be given to the needs of single pensioners. The Government always keeps in mind the matter of justice to the pensioner in determining what contribution it can make to his welfare.
The second important principle which the Government considers is to make certain that in this community we do not break down the sturdy self-reliance of the average Australian. The saving classes are important. They are composed of those persons who in the past have done a good day’s work, received good remuneration, and been able to save. Therefore, it is fundamental to the policy of the Government that, irrespective of what else it may do, it should not break down incentives to work and save.
Thirdly, surely we all know that the pensioner can benefit only if the standard of living rises and the wealth of the community grows. After all, the pension that is paid by the Government is but a deduction from current production, and therefore the Government must keep constantly in its mind how it can increase production and give the pensioner, particularly the pensioner of the future, reason to believe that he will be better off than he has been in the past. Keeping those three principles in mind, the Government, during the preparation of the budget, examines the problems of the pensioners and decides upon the maximum contribution which it can make at that time. That has been my approach to the matter of pensions. I can vouch for the fact that my distinguished successor and colleague is administering the department with the same keenness and sympathy that I tried to bring to bear in my administration, when I had the great honour to be Minister for Social Services in the Menzies Government. I put the position to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the principles which I have stated are the only realistic and decent principles that can be applied in an attempt to solve this problem.
– What is to be done about the problem ?
– The honorable member asks: What is to be done? He knows very well that the time for considering these principles is during the preparation of the budget, because we have to consider the various conflicting requests, demands, and needs. I am sure that you, sir, will agree that it would be improper and wrong to consider the needs of one section without considering the requirements of others. This Government, like the Chifley and Curtin governments, has always looked at this problem at budget time. No government departs from that policy.
The honorable member for EastSydney made the astonishing statement that he has never regarded the purchasing power of the pension as adequate. He did not think it was sufficient when he was a member of the Chifley’ Government. If I may put it to you, sir, this shows the standards of decency and the finance standards, of the honorable member for East Sydney. Despite the fact that his own principles - if he ever had a sense of decency - were being infringed, he did not have the common guts to rise and say anything along those lines in this House. He had not the common guts to resign from the government of which he was a member te show that he stood for the rights of the pensioner and that he had some principles that were worth sustaining. This is the kind of man who comes into this chamber and tries to create a furore and a false impression about pensions and the Government’s attitude to them. The second part of his question related to the purchasing power of the pension. This is also a hardy perennial. My colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has handed me a document which shows the purchasing power of the pension to-day as compared with its purchasing power when the Chifley Government was in office. With your permission, sir, I shall read the conclusion reached on the figures. It is as follows: -
Thus, on the ratio of the C series retail price index prices over the relevant period we note that in order to give the equivalent of £2 2s. 6d. paid in 1949 an amount of £3 13s. 4d. would be needed.
The pension to-day is £4, and therefore the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney that the purchasing power of the pension to-day is lower than it was when the Chifley Government was in office is proved to be totally false, as you would expect of statements made by the honorable member for East Sydney.
We do not claim that complete justice has been done. We do claim, in terms of realistic debate, that this Government looks at the matter from the most sympathetic angle. I have referred to my own attitude and the attitude of my distinguished successor in the administration of the department. We will continue to give to the pensioners inaccordance with what we believe to be their real needs. This problem cannot be met in isolation. The Aged Persons Home Act is another monument to the administration of the Menzies Government. I venture to say that over a number of years that single progressive enactment will bring more happiness and contentment to persons in the final years of their lives than any other reform in recent years. Therefore, I say to honorable members, in terms of simple justice, that the problems of pensioners will be considered when the budget is being prepared. We shall give it the same sympathetic consideration that the Government has always given to these matters in the past.
Several honorable members rising in their places,
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) proposed -
That the business of the day be called on.
– I want to make a statement on this matter.
Question put. The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C. F. Aderm ann.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 20th June (vide page 3509).
Mr.DUTHIE (Wilmot) [12.4].- This bill is part of the pattern to be seen in the present Liberal Government’s measures introduced during this sessional period, which has now lasted for four and a half months. This is the fifth of five measures which have definitely consolidated the capitalist forces in Australia. I refer to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1956, the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1956, the shipping bills and-
– Order! The honorable member must discuss the Housing Agreement Bill 1956.
– I shall do so. Lastly, we have the Housing Agreement Bill 1956. Each of these measures which have been pushed through by steamroller methods, has given a blood transfusion to the Government’s big business supporters. In every case, the worst features of private enterprise have been entrenched and the position of the basic wage earner has been worsened.
This agreement, which is intended to replace Labour’s agreement of 1945, provides for the distribution of loan money to the States on a new basis. A portion of the money will be used by State governments to finance their own housing programmes, and another portion - 20 per cent. in the first two years and 30 per cent. in the next three years - will be paid into a home-builders’ account, from which advances will be made to approved building societies. The Government claims that that will enable more people to own their homes, implying that that privilege is not extended already by most of the State governments that are operating their own housing programmes.
I have several general comments to make on the bill. I think that honorable members on both sides of the Parliament agree that housing should be given first priority. I do not suggest that Government members are not concerned about the housing of the people. We on this side are concerned about it, too - desperately so. We differ from Government members only in relation to the manner in which houses should be provided. The provision of housing in this country is far too big a programme to be left to the States. That is why the Commonwealth has had to come in. There has been a terrific increase in the demand for houses since the immigration programme was speeded up. In the last eleven years, 1,000,000 immigrants have come to Australia. During that period, there has been, naturally, a great increase of the number of marriages. In our opinion, the demand for homes is growing faster than is the rate at which they are being provided.
More homes would mean more families and happier family life. Homes can bring happiness, but, depending on who lives in them, they can bring the opposite of happiness also. Home-life is vital to any nation. The real strength of a nation lies, not in military armaments, but in the home-life and the character of its people. The first lessons in good character and good citizenship are given in the home. I think we all agree on that. All honorable members appreciate the guidance and help that they received from their parents in the early days of their lives. Discord in the home spells disaster for the nation. If some families have to live like animals in substandard, unhealthy homes, the real strength of the nation is menaced. If our home-life were to fall to pieces, we could be defeated from within before we were defeated from without. A study of history shows that all past civilizations received their death warrants through the destruction of their home-life. From homelessness or sub-standard homes stem the shocking evils of divorce, crime, larrikinism, child delinquency, bodgieism and widgie-ism - the latest manifestations of the effect of bad homes - and social disaster.
The home-building industry employs a larger work force than does any other industry in Australia. If the prosperity of that industry were impaired in any way - for instance, by a smaller demand for houses caused by high interest rates - the economy of the nation would be thrown into a tailspin. It is the greatest industry in this country. It supports a vast timber industry, a vast transport industry and a vast furniture manfacturing industry. The manufacturers of electrical appliances, floor coverings, curtains and kitchen utensils are dependent on it. A vast concourse of people depends for employment on a healthy home-building industry.
Last night, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) made a disgraceful speech - one of the worst that I have heard him deliver. I should like you to listen, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to what a supposedly responsible member stated. In the course of that speech, he said -
Labour does not want to see people contented in their own homes.
Let me tell him that that was a wicked falsehood and a piece of dishonest propaganda.
– Is that permissible ?
– Yes. I have looked up the list of unparliamentary remarks. I repeat that that was a wicked falsehood and a piece of dishonest propaganda.
– I rise to order. Those words are offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– I do not think that the words are permissible. An honorable member may not make imputations against another honorable member. The honorable member for Wilmot must withdraw the words.
– I say straight out that it was a falsehood.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the imputation.
– I withdraw it. But it was a falsehood. It was offensive to me.
– I ask for a withdrawal of the second imputation - that I was guilty of a falsehood.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.It was really a continuation of the first imputation. The honorable member for Wilmot will withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, but with great-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member must not qualify his withdrawal.
– Last night, the honorable member for Macarthur made a statement that was offensive to me, to all Labour members of this Parliament and to all Labour people outside the Parliament. He accused us of not wanting the people of this country to be happily housed, owning their homes. That accusation is completely untrue. Labour has always fought for the rank and file of this country.
– What about the “ little capitalist” statement? Does that still hold good.
– Honorable members opposite are always throwing that up to us. The former honorable member for Corio said something about that matter in the Parliament eleven years ago. It did not represent the opinion of the Labour movement. It was his personal opinion. I did not agree with the statement at the time it was made. Honorable members opposite throw it up at us year after year and say that it describes our philosophy. That is not our philosophy. We believe in the private ownership of homes.
– So you say now.
– Order! Interjections must cease. The Chair trie3 to maintain order with the co-operation of honorable members. If they do not co-operate, I shall have to get tough.
– The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), threw his weight into the debate last night. He, too, said that Labour did not believe in home ownership. Let me tell him that the amendments of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement proposed two years ago were written in at the instigation of Mr. Cahill, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, and Mr. Cain, the Labour Premier of Victoria.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to make only one comment on what the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has said. In my short experience in this Parliament, I have found that there is a tendency to blame the Commonwealth for everything that is wrong in the community and to give credit to the States for everything that is right. Child delinquency, a subject dealt with by ‘he honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) in his maiden speech, has been brought into this debate by the honorable member for Wilmot, who says that the decision of the Commonwealth to channel to building societies 20 per cent, of the funds made available to the States for housing will cause a wave of child delinquency, because there will be more substandard houses.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member implied it. Prior to my becoming a member of this House I worked among certain under-privileged people, and I found that delinquency is not confined to any one income group. My experience has shown me that we are just as likely to find delinquents, or potential delinquents, coming from the highest income groups, living in the best possible conditions but whose home atmosphere is not conducive to the best rearing of children. Some of the finest citizens of this country, who proved themselves to be leaders in various spheres of the national activity, were brought up in the worst possible conditions; yet they triumphed over adversity and did not automatically become delinquents because their early days were spent in poor homes.
The States must accept responsibility for the things that are actually their responsibilities’. The Commonwealth cannot justly be blamed for everything that goes wrong in every State. We have to be fair in respect of this matter, and give credit to the Commonwealth for its efforts to overcome Australia’s housing difficulties. Last night, during the second-reading debate, one member of the Opposition said that we had reached a stage where any sort of habitable house could not be built at a cost of less than about £4,000. In my own speech on the second reading I quoted from the Western Australian Hansard certain figures concerning the housing shortage in that State which, in the belief of the Western Australian Minister for Housing, had been completely overcome. I wish to quote two other statements from that Hansard report of the debate in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly on the annual report of the Western Australian
Housing Commission. The subject of the cost of building was brought up and the Minister for Housing said -
Some three months ago I issued an instruction to the commission not to let a contract for the erection of a timber-framed or a brick home costing more than £2,500 without reference to me. The commission has been able to let hundreds of contracts without any difficulty, and we are reaching the stage where it is possible to build houses for less than £2,000.
This is not my statement. It was made by the Labour Minister for Housing in Western Australia. He was asked what sort of houses they would be, and he said -
These are places faithfully constructed. They are timber-framed asbestos homes with tiled roofs. They have either timber or cyclone front gates. They have picket fences around them; they are equipped with rotary clothes hoists. They have a front verandah and a combined kitchen-livingroom. They all have two bedrooms and some of them also have a louvred sleep-out. Each has a bathroom and laundry, and they have septic systems installed. In what way are they inferior to any other timber-framed house ?
The whole point is that we cannot have everything. We cannot have the position where tradesmen can find week-end work putting up a garage or extending a building and earning perhaps £40 or £50, because of the shortage of tradesmen, and at the same time overcome the housing shortage. Once the housing shortage is overcome there will be less demand for skilled tradesmen. If ever we get to the stage where the housing needs of the people are completely satisfied it will be a sad day for honorable members opposite, because there will be no employment for thousands and thousands of building tradesmen and workers in trades allied to the building trades. Of course, in line with the natural progress of this country we must have at all times a demand for some houses, because newly married couples seek homes of their own. and we must also provide for the increase of population as the result of immigration. This all tends to keep men in full employment.
In considering this question we must be perfectly fair and look at all aspects of it. We should debate this bill on the aspects of amounts given to the States and the uses to which the money will be put, instead of trying to use the debate, as honorable members opposite are doing, as a vehicle for attacking the Commonwealth and belittling it in the eyes of the people. However, I think that the people are fully aware of the Commonwealth’s splendid record of effort to overcome the housing shortage, which is a more than usually severe shortage.
I wish to comment on only one other aspect of the agreement. It is provided that the States can sell houses and themselves determine the amount of deposit and the terms of repayment. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth can have no control over the sale by the States of the houses that they build, and therefore the States are able to put into operation a method of selling which might be directly opposed to the interests of the community. In Western Australia houses that were built at a cost of some £1,500 before the increase of £1 a week in the basic wage are now valued at something like £4,000. Many people were allotted these homes, and amongst them were ex-servicemen eligible for war service homes. They were supposed to be temporarily housed in such rental homes built under the Commonwealth and States Housing Agreement until they could get a war service home, but many of them found that their housing needs were well satisfied by the rental homes and relinquished their ideas of building for themselves under the provisions .of the War Service Homes Act, especially as costs for the type of home they had originally intended to invest in had risen to about £3,000 or £4,000. They were given the opportunity to purchase the homes they were residing in. A condition laid down by the State was that they could purchase within six months of occupying the home, at the cost of construction, or have the opportunity to purchase at a later date, at current values. Every one of those houses had to be occupied, however, before the cost of construction could be drawn up, because the State had to find the over-all cost of a contract. If, for instance, the cost of the house was £2,000 and the war service homes loan availably at that stage was £1,750. or if the cost of construction was £2,500 and the war ev- > ice homes loan was £2,000, the tenant had to find, if he was eligible for a war service loan, £250 or £500 as the case might be, in order to purchase the home. In many cases, when the value of the house was about £2,500 - on the present market it. would probably be worth £4,000” - the tenant found he did not have the £500 in cash to enable him to meet the conditions laid down in respect of war service homes and had to forgo his right to purchase at cost price. Later, when the war service loan maximum was increased to £2,750- he would have been in a position to pur chase that home.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that 13,000 out of the 30,000 applicants for houses in New South Wales are exservicemen?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member has no time to answer interjections.
– If I understood the interjection correctly, I point out that it is provided that 50 per cent, of homes built under this agreement are to be made available to ex-servicemen. In this country it would be impossible to allocate homes to citizens without 50 per cent, of them being exservicemen, because the rate of enlistment in the forces was so high.
.- I am distressed by the mealy-mouthed attitude of the Government in regard to this measure. It is very obvious that the Government is getting out of housing as fast as it can. If, instead of bombarding the chamber with heroics about the building of homes for people who have the money to buy them, the Government looked at the problem, the social problem, it would see that all its plans are completely out of kilter, and of no use whatever for the future of this country. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is the key man in this debate, said last night, with a great flourish of trumpets, “Under this legislation, we will be able to assist people to get homes “. But has it not been this Government which, since 1949, has prevented 40,000 people from getting homes because insufficient money has been released from the credit sources of the banks? How can the Minister have it both ways? He cannot direct any praise to himself to-day for having said, “ Now we are looking at the home-ownership side “. The Minister grows lyrical about this matter, but the real cause of the stultification of home-ownership since 1949, when this Government assumed office, has been the cramp on credit. Those people, including returned soldiers, who the Minister says will in due course get money through the co-operative housing societies, will buy houses at between £1,000 and £2,000 more than they would have had to pay if the money had been available in the normal way. The available figures cannot be controverted by any general statement to the effect that the Australian Labour party does not want the people to have homes. As far as it is possible to get figures, at the present time 20,000 returned soldiers want homes, 40,000 persons want to buy homes, and 60,000 persons want to rent homes.
The Government must remember that it cannot walk out of everything in this country, as it has tried to do in the past. It has walked out of the Commonwealth chipping line, out of the whaling industry, out of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, out of Trans-Australia Airlines - and now, finally, it wants to sabotage the housing scheme. It is essential that a government should build houses for persons who have not the money to buy them. If this Government does not do that, it will wreck its immigration programme. Nothing else will do it. Is it possible to conceive of 150,000 or 125,000 immigrants coming to these shores every year and for the Government to have a restricted plan for the building of homes for rental? It is all very noble to talk about encouraging the man who has a few pounds and who is prepared to build his own house. He is very lucky to bf in that position, and it is good that it can be done; but the essential thing for any government to do is to look lower down the wage-scale in order to see what it can do for those persons who, because of the war, have been dispossessed of the houses in which they lived.
The Minister for the Army, who is a very honorable and high-souled man, I understand, has been in the real estate business. He knows that the backlog of houses before World War II. was as great as 100.000 bouses, and that people, because of financial circumstances rather than any real desire to do so, lived with their in-laws or in sub-standard houses. Slums are a horrible inheritance. The Government talks about its housing scheme, but there is no provision for the reclamation of slums. People are just hanging on by their eyebrows. When there is a storm, they are in distress. Honorable members, particularly Labour members, know how grievous and destructive is the housing situation. The Government talks about a new plan, but it simply represents a walk-out on tha responsibilities that any federal government has towards the people of Australia. To say that the emphasis is now on homeownership and that the Labour party does not believe in a man owning his own home is all so much low-grade chatter; it does not mean a thing. The problem is right at the door of the Government.
As has been explained by so many Opposition members, the emphasis must always be on the provision of homes for rental. What does the Government intend to do with these people? Where are they to go? Are they to tumble around the country? Are they to be the new dispossessed? Already there are thousands of people who are not in possession of adequate housing accommodation. This scheme is obviously geared to tackle a problem that has been seen in its wrong perspective. Consequently, the problem will be worse confounded. The simple fact is that this legislation will not lead to the provision of more homes for rental. The appalling conclusion is that the Government does not seem to care. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) talks about housing settlements being blots on the landscape. He does not know anything about the matter.
– I have seen them.
– The Minister cannot see through his own prejudices. I can take him to many housing settlements in New South Wales where he will see beautiful gardens, made as a result of the self-help of individuals who, for the first time, have a house which they hope to purchase, and whose desire to own their homes is as keen as that of the Minister. Awards for beautification of those, areas are given by the councils and by the housing commission. The Westmead and Strathfield schemes are two that come to my mind, but there are many others. The aggregation of houses may be unpleasant to the artistic eye of the Minister for the Interior, but, generally speaking, they are good houses and are well built. To the dispossessed person who wants a home and to others who are experiencing housing difficulties and who, if they are not in the magistrate’s court every week, are under the threat of a notice to quit, a rented house is paradise. Flying over these areas in a Convair on the way back to Sydney, the Minister may look at them with some repugnance, but “ they are better than what this legislation will give to such people.
The simple facts can be restated very briefly: The Government does not think of housing as a social service problem, but as something that it should never have bought into. Last night, the Minister for the Army wailed about the loss by property-owners of £500,000,000 in rent. He almost had a stroke over it. How many millions of pounds in the form of wages were lost by men who served overseas during the war and who have been unable to secure homes of their own 3ince their return? Does the Minister for the Army want to deny them homes for ever and force them to live in “ Cramer’s comfy caravans “ for the rest of their lives, or does he intend to do something about the rental position? He is completely isolated by his training and experience. He cannot see any good in a house for rental, because there is no “ cop “ in it. I do not mean that in a personal sense. Neither the Minister for the Army nor the Minister for the Interior, who says that these houses are a scar on the landscape, see the social service side of housing. I think the Minister for the Interior reached the n’th degree of imbecility in his attitude to the establishment of quotas for Australian artists when the television legislation was before this chamber.
– The honorable member was hurt personally.
– I was not hurt personally.
– Not much!
– I was hurt personally last night when the Minister referred to these houses as being blots on the landscape. In his responsible position as a Minister, he ought to know better than to talk like that. In his attitude to the expenditure of the millions of pounds that have been spent in the past and which I hope will be spent in the future on houses of one kind or another, he ought to display some responsibility and not just adopt a low-grade snob approach to the problem. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has smiled on him and has destroyed his morale forever, we should not have to suffer the effects of it in this House.
– Talk a bit of sense.
– This is a matter of sense. The Minister’s reference to blots on the landscape will, in due course, not be overlooked by his electors. No matter how it is coloured by the heroics and the rhetoric of honorable members opposite, the point at issue is simple. With malice aforethought, the Government is bailing out of housing, because it proposes to subedit what is the most essential part of any housing project - the provision of houses for rental. In reply to that criticism, Government supporters say that the scheme will be very good for the cooperative societies and that more houses will be built for private ownership, but do they not realize that their sin from. 194’9 onwards will remain on their own consciences ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I spoke on this matter last night. I think it is a great pity that such an important social service, as it has been described by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), should be treated, as it has been treated, from a purely party political point of view. To do that is a very serious matter, because this problem is one which has a very far-reaching effect on the economic affairs of this country. I do not want to become rhetorical, as has been charged by the honorable member for Parkes; I want to be factual.
The honorable member for Parkes seem3 to hare in his mind that housing should be provided by the Government. I join issue with him on that contention, but that appears to be his idea. If that attitude is adopted, it simply means that we are intent upon this country becoming completely socialized, because that is the ultimate of that type of policy.
The minutes are flying by but I want to make clearer certain things I said in my speech last night in the hope that I may be able to get into the minds of Labour men in Australia and in this Parliament the real truth about housing. Every one talks about the shortage of houses. We know the terrible disappointments that are suffered when people try to find homes. This is a subject I have known intimately all my life, as the honorable member for Parkes is aware. Politicians and members of the public are running around with the idea that there is a great physical shortage of houses. A man cannot be blamed for believing that there is a great shortage of houses if he looks for a house and cannot get one. To him that is the test and, therefore, he thinks that there is a great shortage of houses. The truth is that if the existing houses were properly allocated for the needs of the people to-day, there are ample houses for every family in Australia to be adequately accommodated. The figures on this matter are indisputable. No country has a better supply of houses commensurate with its population.
– The .owners will not yield them. The Minister knows damn well they will not.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. Order.! The honorable member knows he cannot use language like that,
– They will not. In 1947 we had one house for every four people; to-day we have one house for every 3.5 people.
– Those are not the figures.
– When I say 3.5, the correct figure is 3.556 to the 31st December.
– As compared with- ‘ -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! The honorable member for Werriwa must refrain from interjectingI have called for silence.
– 1 apologize.
– 1 admit that during the war controls of rents and tenancies were necessary. In 1947, wage pegging was lifted and the cost of everything rose. The only things that were effectively pegged by Labour governments were rents and tenancy controls. They had a certain effect. They meant that the use of a house was frozen, as it were, to the people in it. Take the case of mum and dad and four kiddies living in a threebedroom house. When the children grew up, as they ultimately did in that time, and went away, mum and dad still stayed in the bigger house. These instances were multiplied enormously as time passed until to-day tens of thousands less people are living in the same houses as t’hey occupied when controls were imposed. That is shown conclusively in the statistics that are available. As I said last night, the only State in Australia to remove the rental control with the growth of the economy was Western Australia. It has fewer houses per capita than any other State, but there is no housing shortage. New South Wales, which has the most rigid controls, has more houses per capita than any other State but apparently has the greatest shortage of homes. The anomaly is quite clear and quite conclusive ; there can be no shadow of doubt about it.
The honorable member for Parkes has said that a great number of people desire to rent houses. Of course t’hey dot It does not mater how much money is .available; the physical capacity of the country to construct houses is limited by the availability of labour and materials. How can the housing .shortage be relieved when the figures .show that, as fast as houses are built by commissions, the number of rented houses occupied by tenants becomes less? Whilst the housing commissions built 90,000 houses in the period that I mentioned, the people who owned rented homes disposed of 150,000 houses. The facts are that, notwithstanding all the building done by housing commissions, the number of rented houses is getting less and less. It does not matter what evil there is in the community, it brings some good; and, as a result of this evil, more than anything else perhaps, the growth of home-ownership is developing not because the people in the first instance desire to buy a house - though it is a good thing if they do - but because they are forced to do so when all rental homes are occupied.
I agree that from the social stand-point governments should provide homes for indigent people and others who are unable to provide their own homes. But beyond that there should be a sense of responsibility in regard to renting a home, brought into a state of equality with the economy of the country. In that way the desire and the need for people to invest their savings in rented property are reintroduced. As I pointed out last night, 80 per cent, of the people now protected by rent controls are well able to pay the economic rent. Rent control is said to be in the interest of the worker, but it is not in the interest of the worker at all. Ft leaves the worker walking the streets trying to find a home.
If the housing commissions build homes, they have to charge an economic rent. If they do not, the deficiency must be made up by the taxpayers. It amounts to the same thing. If there were a free economy in housing, with the number of bouses that are available to-day, competition would bring the economic rent to the position where every worker capable of paying it would have a home. The sheer nonsense of Labour governments in perpetuating the system of rent control haft brought this terrible burden down on the heads of the workers themselves. “Whilst I agree that the control system cannot simply be cut with a knife, because that would do a lot of damage, Labour governments are responsible for the fact that thousands of people have been unable to get homes. Labour Governments are responsible for more dreadful things than that. They should face the fact that they are responsible for tens of thousands of children not having been born because of the legislation that they have imposed i upon us.
– Rubbish !
– There is no doubt about it. I do not want to become dramatic, but that is the fact.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
Mr. Frederick Michael Daly made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Grayndler, New South Wales.
.- The combined wisdom of honorable members of this chamber could not contrive to produce a statement sufficiently strong to emphasize the need for an adequate home-building programme in this country, and the influence of such a programme upon the life and character of the people. Honorable members on this side of the committee regard the provisions of the proposed agreement as totally inadequate to solve our housing problem. Furthermore, I suggest to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) that any agreement of this nature is of no value unless it has the complete concurrence of the State authorities that are, in the main, responsible for home-building. Honorable gentlemen opposite are, no doubt, aware of the serious concern that is felt by State governments, both Labour and Liberal, regarding the inadequacy of the provisions of this measure.
I feel that I must say something about the queer reasoning of Government supporters in regard to this measure. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), for instance, said that we could solve the housing problem merely by removing all controls and allowing private enterprise full reign. That is very strange reasoning on his part, because the public interest has been greatly protected by the housing policies of various State authorities, and by the actions of State governments in ensuring that rents shall be calculated on a fair and reasonable basis. The Minister’s argument in that regard is quite untenable.
The assertions that have been made, to the effect that homes built by State authorities are a blot on the landscape, are too foolish for words. Some of the best working-class homes in Australia have been built by the various State housing commissions or trusts. This Government would have something to boast about if its record in regard to construction of war service homes were as good as the home-building record of the State housing authorities. In South Australia there is no comparison between the work done by the State housing trust in the provision of homes and the inadequate performance of the Commonwealth in its war service homes building programme. People who seek assistance under the provisions of the War Service Homes Aci are faced with complete frustration. They have no guarantee of being able to secure the kind of home that they want in the locality where they want it. Some o’ the war service homes that I have seen are a disgrace to the Commonwealth. In some instances it was found, after the homes were completed, that some rebuilding was necessary before the homes could be made fit for occupation. There have been such instances in the electorate of Sturt, which I formerly represented. The Minister for the Interior had to approve of certain reconstruction work on some of the homes before they could be taken over by the purchasers. Such “things do not occur when homes are built :by the State housing authorities.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member may be quite an authority upon nonsense, “but I consider he has merely made a “frivolous interjection upon a matter of -great importance to the people of Aus.tralia. If the Government continues to apply its immigration policy on the present scale, having regard to the unsatisfactory housing position in Australia ‘o-day, it will have to make more generous allowances to the States than are provided for in this agreement. It would do well to consider the possibility of meeting more closely the wishes of the States. “This gives me my first opportunity to - answer the Minister for the Army (Mr.
Cramer), who accused my colleagues of having destroyed public confidence in government loans.
– That is correct.
– The Minister must realize that public confidence has been shattered because the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), has, from time to time, increased the interest rate and thus depreciated the value of Commonwealth bonds. People can. no longer feel confident that the value of their investment will not be depreciated in this way. Therefore, the Minister did not correctly present the situation to the House.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Last night the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) suggested that under the new agreement fewer houses would be built for the same amount of money, but he later added that in. his electorate there were people who had £2,000 and could not obtain the further finance that they needed. Surely this agreement attempts te meet such a situation. A person with £2,000 will be able to borrow another £2,000 from a co-operative building society, which will be financed under this agreement. If a housing commission built the same house the Commonwealth’s outlay would be £4,000. Therefore, by encouraging private home building, our money will go much further.
– We have heard this sort of thing for ten years. If it does not work out that way, will the honorable member get up in this House and say so !
– I will. Another reason why our money will go much further is that a man building his own home will doubtless use his own resources and labour, and those of his family also. If I am shown to be wrong in that prophecy I shall get up and admit it, but I think that I shall be proved right. Labour’s attitude to this bill is most interesting. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has denied his own doctrine. He said that I was wrong when I suggested that the Labour party favours Government, home ownership ind the letting of homes on a rental basis. He said that the former member for Corio, Mr. Dedman, was wrong when he said that the Labour party did not want to see Australia a nation of little capitalists. The honorable member is wrigglingon the hook. He is amember of the Hobartredexecutive.
– I rise to order. I object to that particular statement of the honorable member, but I am , prepared to listen to him quietly if he will not provoke me.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! Thehonorable member is not taking a point oforder and will resume his seat.
– I am gratefulto the honorable member for assuring me that he will listen quietly, but I doubt thathe will because what I am about to say will make him examine his own motives in this matter. This morning he said that in suggesting that the Labour party opposed private home-ownership I was guilty of a falsehood. However, he cannot deny that the Labour party supportsthe socialist objective of government ownershipofthe meansof production, distribution and exchange.
– Labour’s policy does not saythata mancannot own his own home.
Mr.JEFF BATE.-Honorable membersopposite now saythat that pledge does notapplyto homeownership. During thelastelection campaign theycloaked their socialist objective by saying onthe hustings that theywere not opposed to the ownership of small businesses. To-day, the honorable member for Wilmot, probably inspired by somesort of bigotry, has done something which shouldcausehimtolook very carefully at his motives. He’has helped the Labour party to fall under a ruthless influence, and therueful expressions of his colleagues would suggest that theyrealize that their socialist objective, which is being thwarted by this bill, is nothing more than a cloak for thedesigns of the Communists who, upongaining power, wouldimmediately see that all homes, businessesand landsbelongedtothe Government. Thatistheintentionof Labour’sredexecutive.Honorable mem - bersopposite, whodenythattheyprefer government ownership to private homeownership, are merely giving temporary lip service to the wishes of the people. The honorable member for Wilmot said that but, at the same time, he attacked this bill, the first that the Federal Government, with its very limited powers in these matters, has brought down to estab lish the principle of home-ownership.
We have heard this sort of thing for almost two days now, and it is becoming a little nauseating. The public ought by now to have realized that Labour is opposing the bill thoughit differs from Labour’s own legislation only in fostering home-ownership. From what we knov aboutthehonorablemember,heshould knowbetter thanto say that he believe. in private home-ownership ‘but is not in favour of the bill. Heis the whip ofhis party and will try to have thebill rejected. Hecannot putit over the public, who will not believe that he iis in favourof private home-ownership. If peoplecould be deluded bythat sort of approach, they could he deluded by anything. In democracy, itis a very dangerousbusiness tohave people opposinga bill which seeks to promote private home-ownership when, in fact, they claim tobein favour of it.
Thebillcontains manyrecommendable features. As I have said, theCommonwealth’s money will go further, and it is wrong for any one to deny that. The 20 per . cent, which willbe devoted to private homerownershipwillprobablygotwice as far as it hashitherto. This bill will foster that pride in one’s home whichwe are so anxioustosee in this community. Here we see the Labour party opposing that.
TheCommonwealth is only able to provide finance.If ahouse is costly, it is because the services which are provided for home-building are inthe hands of theStates. The transportwhich carries thebuilding materials,electricity and waterareinthehandsof theStates. All thatthe CommonwealthAdministration cando is considerKeynesian theoriesanddealwiththebudget,taxation, importcontrolsandcentral banking. It cannot do anythingabouttransportcosts intheStates.The socializedDepartmentofTransport inNew South Wales has raisedfaresby50percent. Ithas raised, by 50 per cent, the freights that have to be paid by home-builders on building materials. This Parliament cannot control those charges. It can only make suggestions, such as the suggestions of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for the purpose of encouraging lower freight rates.
This bill is directed to the financial side of the problem. All the costs involved in home-building are in the hands of the States. The other day, the New South Wales Forestry Commission increased enormously the royalty on timber, an action which will increase the cost of houses. R ail freights have also gone up enormously, the increase being equal to 10s. a hundred super, feet on timber. So the New South Wales Government is increasing the cost of home-building. This bill will not do that. The State Government controls the services or the physical things that go into the building of houses. The cost of those things is going up, but not enough to meet the losses that the State Government is incurring on its transport services.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has, expired.
.– This bill is an extremely misleading measure. It is a dishonest bill and, in some ways, it is a completely disgraceful bill. This bill purports to ratify an agreement but there is no agreement. At the best, it is a pro forma agreement which has not been signed by any State government. The State governments have been told that they either, sign the agreement or get nothing.
– Hear, hear !
– They are being bludgeoned into submission. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), a key man in this Government as has been remarked, contends- that it is perfectly right and’ proper that the State governments should’ be told that they must: sign or else- that, otherwise, the States will not. be able to build any houses, for the people. Honorable members; opposite said that the Labour party is opposing this measure.
Apparently the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) does not remember what happened last night. The second-reading stage of the bill was passed on the voices. The Opposition is not asking for divisions in the committee stage. But we are criticizing the bill justly and properly. We are criticizing it because the agreement is not a genuine agreement. The States have had no sa in the matter at all. In our day, when the first agreement was signed, the States agreed to the proposals of the then government and the bill that went through was what it purported to be, a ratification of an agreement between the States and the Commonwealth.
– That was a socialist bill.
– The Minister says that that was a socialist measure. Does he mean to say that no government should advance money to the States in order to enable them to build houses for rental? Private enterprise, which the Minister represents, abdicated from the field of house-building 50 years ago because there was not enough profit in it, and it is because of its abdication that the principal cities and towns of Australia are disgraced with foetid, filthy slums. Tt was the Chifley Government that set out, after the war, to repair the damage that had been done by the Lyons Government, the Bruce-Page Government and the other governments which had not taken up cbe work that private enterprise had abandoned. No banking institution, until recent times, had advanced money by way of overdraft to co-operative building societies in order to help the members of the societies to build their own homes. Labour has always believed in home Ownership, in spite of the, slanders of all the people opposite.
It, was argued by the Government thaihome building had progressed to- a remarkable degree in recent times. The Government has even claimed that it built 80,000 houses a year in the last four years. That is. demonstrably untrue. The Government?, awn *Facts and: Figures prove that it has not built an average of 80,000 buildings a year. As a matter’ of fact, it will; not build 80)000’ houses this year. The> Government is trying to- mislead the Australian people- by- suggesting- tha* its house-building programme is a splendid one. We as a Labour party have always believed in private ownership of property. We still believe in it. Our fault, in the view of the agents of capitalism in this Parliament, is that we believe in a greater diffusion of ownership of property. They believe in concentrating it in the hands of fewer people in order to hold the whole community at economic ransom to the wealthy banking institutions and all the other people associated with the empire of money. The Labour party would, if it could, when putting its platform into effect, establish a lot of people in smaller businesses because of the things that we would do to control the activities of monopolies, trusts and combines, which are enjoying such a wonderful experience under this Government. Honorable members opposite have talked of the money that the Government is providing in order to enable people to build their homes, but value is going out of the £1 every minute of the day, and every honorable member opposite knows it. The other day, T heard of an Italian tenor who could hold, a note for three minutes. The average Australian housewife cannot hold one for three seconds. That is due to the things for which this Government is responsible.
There is an escape clause in the proposed agreement which will allow the Government to make a separate agreement with each of the States. That, of course, shows that the agreement is not what, it ought to be.
Conversation being audible,
– M.r. Temporary Chairman, I wish that you would call a certain honorable member to order. I cannot hear a word for his yab, yab, yab all the time. It is jarring my ear.
— Order! The honorable member has too loud a voice.
– This measure proposes to abolish the rebate system. Of course, the rebate system will be regarded as a piece of socialism by honorable members opposite, and so it is. The Labour Government included it in legislation deliberately to help the man with a large family on a small income. His requirements are such that he needs a big home, and unless he is prepared to lower the living standards of his wife, his family and himself, he cannot possibly pay the rent that would be demanded without the rebate system. So, the Labour Government devised a system under which a fifth of a man’s weekly wage was enough to pay the rent for the house in which he lived. The difference between the economic rental and th<fifth of that man’s wage was met by th,Commonwealth and the State concerned in the proportion of three-fifths by thi* Commonwealth and two-fifths by thState.
The Government proposes to wipe om that provision. As a result, the man with a big family on a small wage will bfleft to his own devices. There are wai widows, there are widows who artwidowed, according to act of Parliament, by the death of their breadwinner, by his incarceration in gaol, or by his detention in a mental asylum. These women are living in government homes, at a very small rental. When this rebate system goes, unless the State governments bear the burden, those unfortunate women will have to pay a rental that they cannot possibly afford. What does the Minister for the Army, a big estate agent in Sydney, care for small people - war widows or ordinary widows, and basicwage workers?
– I am only a small real estate agent.
– Well, the Minister talks like a big one. He may be a small one, but he is the most reactionary mem ber of this Parliament when it comes to doing the decent thing in providing housing for the people. Housing is our No. 1 problem. If we do not solve the housing problem, we will solve nothing. A man may receive the highest basic wage necessary to pay for food and clothing he needs, but if he has not a decent home in which to live, be will be an unhappy social being. If the conditions that exist to-day in Australia are continued, communism will be bred. It was stated that 50,000 persons in New South Wales are living in tents. Is thatcorrect ?
– No. They would not be, except for the State Labour Government.
– The honorable gentleman says that they are not living in tents. One of the leaders of the Liberal party in New South Wales said that these persons are living in tents. I cannot say whether the leader was Treaty Robson, or Morton.
– The conditions were brought about by the Australian Labour party.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Minister for the Army will cease interjecting.
– The New South Wales Government has a tremendous problem on its hands, and so has every other State government in Australia. T remind honorable members opposite that according to Facts and Figures. No. 48, which reported the results of the census of 1954, no fewer than 49,000 persons in Australia are living in sheds and huts. Yet this Government has been in power for seven years.
– Those conditions apply in Labour States.
– The Minister may :ry as much as he likes to shout me down, but I am talking to the people of Australia and talking sense, whereas he is merely barracking for reaction.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member must address his remarks to the Chair.
– This is the first time to-day that you have told any honorable member to do that.
– Well, I am telling you.
– I know that you are. Apparently I am making it, a bit too hot for the people who are sitting opposite. In Canberra itself, for which this Government is completely responsible, there are persons who have been waiting for houses for two years, and the waiting period will lengthen. I ask the Minister for the Army - and 1 address you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, when I do so - to laugh that one off, and tell the people of Canberra when they are going to get homes.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– We have heard from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, a lecture on socialism. If I interpret aright the views expressed by him and by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), they would have denied to the Federal Government, when it began to draw up a new agreement to replace the purely socialistic agreement of 1945, the possibility of having any influence at all on the terms and conditions of the agreement. The honorable member for Melbourne says that there is no agreement, in effect, because in fact the States are being dragooned into it, and that they have had no say in the contents of this agreement. Those of us who know the procedure that was adopted preparatory to the introduction of this bill to the Parliament, know very well that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) spent many months of pat ent negotiation and discussion with all the States, during the course of which very great concessions were made to the States so that we would be able to bring this bill before the Parliament at this time.
– And not one of them has agreed to it.
– That, of course, is not true, as I shall illustrate in a few moments. I now propose to outline some of the conditions of the agreement which should benefit the States in their administration. We all need to get away from the assumption that housing is a Commonwealth responsibility. Constitutionally, this responsibility rests upon the States. For that reason, the grants for housing in this instance are to be made under section 96 of the Constitution, and we have every right to impose upon the making of those grants conditions which suit the policy of the parties which comprise the Government. As I had reason to say last night, it is completely fantastic to believe that we should have to accept and administer a socialist bill because we inherited it, and when our own time comes to produce a bill, be denied the opportunity to write into it some of the conditions which are near and dear to the Liberal heart. One would be led to believe that there is no room left for the States in the administration of this agreement.
Honorable members opposite have had something to say about the rebate system. In respect of houses built under the 1945 agreement the Commonwealth will continue to meet three-fifths of the losses on contracts. There is an aspect of this matter which has not been referred to heretofore, and it ought to be brought to public attention. Honorable gentlemen will know that not all the States have used the rental rebate procedure. Foi instance, South Australia has not used it. There is still provision in the new agreement for the States to make rental rebates, and a fund is already in being from which those rental rebates may be made. Honorable members will know that in the fixing of economic rents under the 1945 agreement an allowance of 5 per cent, was made for a bad debts reserve, which was to provide for rentals not paid and houses vacant during the course of a change in tenancy. This 5 per cent, figure applied to all the 95,000 homes built under the 1945 agreement? Not at all. The fact is that of the £12,000,000 of rents received in respect of homes built under the 1945 agreement, 5 per cent., or £600,000 remains in a fund to meet bad debts, &c. Although the amount set aside was 5 per cent., because of the conditions which applied for the duration of the 1945 agreement, it is very doubtful whether, in fact, that fund has been drawn upon to the extent of more than, perhaps, .2 per cent, or .3 per cent. In the last three years rental rebates have amounted to only £300,000, thus absorbing only half of the reserve fund which has been set aside. So if the States want to continue to make rental rebates, .there is a fund from which those amounts may be provided.
I shall refer now to the entitlement of the Commonwealth to write into the agreement some of the conditions and terms which suit its policy. Of these, the basic principle is that we should encourage home-ownership. We have had evidence of some very remarkable arithmetic in the chamber in the last couple of days. Last night the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) tried to suggest, in fact, that we would build fewer homes under this agreement than were built under the 1945 agreement. But when 20 per cent, in the first two years, and 30 per cent, in the succeeding three years, of funds allocated to the States are to be put aside for homebuilding for ownership, on terms extending over 31 years, as against the 53 years’ term of the main agreement, . actuarial computation will show that under this agreement the housing funds available will build twice as many homes as would be built if the same amount were available through the housing commissions for the construction of homes for rents. So, in actual fact, if the nature of the exercise is to make an attack on the housing shortage in this country, it is proved on the figures, which cannot be disputed, that under this agreement we shall build more homes for a certain amount of money than could have been built under the terms and conditions which characterized the 1945 agreement.
But I am digressing. The matter of rents is bound up with the matter of interest and so on. Much criticism has been voiced in this chamber because this agreement is tied to the long-term bond rate, but that does not in any way differ from the conditions of the 1945 agreement, whereunder the interest rate was also tied to the long-term bond rate. As I have said before, it is one of the facts of life that the interest rate has risen, but as wages have risen in a comparable fashion, no greater degree of hardship will be created under this bill. Put in recognition of the fact that the interest rate has risen - a fact of life which we cannot ignore - and in view of the known effect of the rise in interest rates on the rents to be paid, the Government has agreed to make this money available at a concessional rate of interest. Here is one of the respects in which the Commonwealth has made very great concessions to the States. The interest rate will be three-quarters of 1 per cent, below the long-term lond rate where that interest rate is 4-J per cent, or less, and 1 per cent, bellow the long-term bond rate where that rate is in excess of 4£ per cent. Here is a fund from which the State governments can contribute by giving rebates of rentals, if they so desire. If they want another source of help for the people who seek homes from housing commissions at reasonable rents, they can draw on this pool of 95,000 homes which were built under the low-interest provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement of 1945. By careful administration and proper allocation of those homes, the States can still preserve all the benefits of the 1945 agreement for the people on lower incomes.
The money to be made available under the new agreement is ostensibly to come from loan funds. But we all know the hard facts of the loan market situation to-day. A very large proportion of the moneys which are to be made available to the State governments under the new agreement will, in fact, be provided out of Commonwealth revenue. Surely, the Commonwealth should be entitled, as it has done, to write its own policy above -all others into this agreement. I remind the committee that low interest rates and subsidized rents amount to subsidizing the rents of a vast mass of the Australian people at the expense of the other taxpayers who are obliged to meet their own housing requirements without the benefit of government assistance. One nas only to look at the facts and the “figures to see how the matter stands. If an amount of, say, £30,000,000 a year were made available to the States under the new agreement at an interest concession of 1 per cent., the taxpayers would have to bear a total cost of £66,000,000 for this concession over the terms of the -agreement. Surely these are factors that not only entitle, but also oblige, the Commonwealth to enforce its policy and to -exercise the greatest care to ensure that the people in the lower income groups are not treated unjustly in the provision of homes under the agreement.
It is quite true that the States say they are not thoroughly happy about ite terms of the new agreement. I can well understand that the States administered by socialist Labour governments, which believe in rented housing, do not agree with its terms. But it is a perfectly fair and reasonable agreement, and I have not the slightest doubt that, within the next few days, all the States will sign it. When it comes into operation, “we shall be able to build with the money that will be available during the next five years more houses than we could possibly have built under the terms of the 1945 agreement.
.- The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has described the housing problem as a Labour-created problem. I suggest that the desperate situation in which we find ourselves to-day has been deliberately caused by Liberal policy, first, on prices, and, secondly, on interestrates, both of which have been allowed to increase. The problems of inflation and higher interest rates have been aggravated by the policy deliberately followed by this Government. The housing problem is only one example of the way in which this devastating policy is affecting the people of Australia. There seems to be a certain measure of disagreement between the Government and the Opposition on this matter. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), in his second-reading speech, stated -
This Government believes in encouraging home-ownership . . .
It has been suggested on behalf of the Government that the Australian Labour party does not believe in encouraging home-ownership. That is a deliberate misstatement. The Australian Labour party believes just as strongly as does the Liberal party in encouraging homeownership, but, unlike the Liberal party, it recognizes that home-ownership has become increasingly difficult to attain, and that it is almost impossible nowadays for large sections of the community to own their own homes.
It is all very well for Government supporters to accept as a brilliant theory the statement, “We believe in homeownership “, and not do anything to make home-ownership a reality. I suggest that the housing problem, like many others, must be analysed. The problem of pensions, which we discussed this morning, is an illustration of the need to analyse a problem. For a person who is wholly dependent on the pension, the problem is very much different from that which confronts a person who has other means. Similarly, home-ownership is not a problem to the person who already owns a home. It is a problem only to the person who is endeavouring to obtain a home.
I do not distinguish between the virtuous and the vicious sections of the community according to those who own their own homes and those who do not, because [ recognize that economic circumstances largely determine whether people own their own homes. I happen to represent an electorate in which two-thirds or threequarters of the electors do not own their own homes, but are tenants. The last census revealed that, at the 30th June, 1954, there were more than 800,000 dwellings occupied by tenants. In other words, 800,000 families did not own their own homes at that date. Those are the people whom the bill should be designed to benefit, because, as I have said, housing is not a problem to those who own their own homes. It is a problem only to those who are endeavouring to obtain homes. T say categorically that present building prices and interest rates make it impossible for family men with an income of £16 a week or less to own their own homes. But those are the very people for whose benefit the housing commissions were established. More, not less, money should be made available to meet tha needs of those people. All members of the community, and especially families, irrespective of their circumstances, are entitled to live in decent homes in a decent environment.
I propose to refer now to certain arguments that have been advanced on this matter. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) mentioned building costs in “Western Australia. I suggest that he was talking merely about the cost of constructing a house, without allowing for the purchase price of the land on which it was built, the construction of streets, or the connexion of sewerage and other services. In Victoria, it is impossible to buy a decent house for less than £3,500 in cash, or to obtain a mortgage at less than 5 per cent, interest. In most instances, much more than 5 per cent, must be paid. Even at 5 per cent., the interest charges on a mortgage of £3,500, without any allowance for amortization, would b» £175 per annum, or more than £3 a week. In addition, rates and taxes on the property would average between 15s. and £1 a week. The total payments with amortization would amount to approximately £5 a week. How can a family man with a wife and, say, two children, who earns the basic wage plus, perhaps a slight margin for skill, giving him a total income of, say, £16 a week, possibly pay £5 a week to meet his housing needs ? How can he live in a decent, modern home unless bodies such as housing commissions come to his assistance and provide him with a home ? It has been suggested that, through the housing commission, he would be subsidized by the rest of the community. But housing is not the only field in which one section of the community subsidizes another. Are not primary producers, particularly wheat-growers, and secondary industries, subsidized by other sections of the community? Why should we not subsidize from taxation the community’s greatest asset - our Australian families ? But apparently, in the view of this Government, that would be a crime against the sacred thing called private enterprise, the name of which is bandied about this Parliament so often.
Yesterday, the Minister for the Interior referred to housing commission estates as monotonous. I invite him to go to South Melbourne, Montague, and Port Melbourne. There he will see examples of monotonous housing, erected in the 1890’s in the name of private enterprise. There are streets 220 yards long in which the houses have common’ walls. They have frontages of 11 feet, 15 feet and never more than 33 feet. The houses were built over 60 years ago, and tenants have paid for them over and over again. Hardly any repairs have been done to them. Nevertheless, the Liberal Government of Victoria recently increased the rents by 25 per cent. We are asked to say that that has improved the housing position in that State!
As my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), has said, it is an act of imbecility for the Minister to say that, because housing commissions rationalize construction methods in order to keep costs down, their estates are monotonous. Under private enterprise we have had monotony, with misery alongside it, for over 60 years. One of the greatest things that ever happened in this country was that the States, one by one - in most instances very belatedly - recognized the need to provide for the average family a modern, decent house - subsidized, if necessary, by the taxpayers. It was recognized that the fortunate should help to give the unfortunate a better deal. But that kind of activity will be restricted by this bill. We have listened to a lot of clap-trap about there being more houses-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Having listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), one might imagine that there has been no change in the conception of housing since the time to which he referred. I am astounded that he tried to persuade the committee to accept that idea. Sixty years ago, houses were built in accordance with designs which were then quite acceptable. But we all know that, since then, there has been a transformation of our ideas about the design of dwelling-houses for the people of this country. I reiterate that this agreement is founded upon a. principle which is diametrically opposed to that accepted by the Opposition in this Parliament, and by the State Labour governments. It is a principle on which this Government stands firmly and on which it will continue to stand - the principle of home-ownership. The provisions of the agreement which appear to be most obnoxious to the Labour party are contained in clause 6. Subclause (2.) provides -
During each of the financial years commencing on the first clay of July, 1956, and the first day of July, 1957, respectively, each State shall allocate for the provision of finance for home builders not less than twenty pet centum of the total advances made to that State under clause 5 of this agreement in that financial year.
Sub-clause (3.) provides that, in the years 1958, 1959 and 1960, respectively, each State shall allocate for the provision of finance for home-builders not less than 30 per cent, of the total advances made to that State under clause 6. It appears to me that the State Labour governments have tried strenuously to avoid building homes for individuals. They prefer a nationalized system of housing. They prefer government control of the types of houses built and the places in which the, are built. Before I finish, 1 want tn refer to the practice of housing people m flats, rather than in the individual home>for which this Government stands so firmly.
This Government stands for homeownership. I have listened carefully to both the second-reading debate and the committee debate. In many instances. Opposition speakers have implied that, during recent years, this country has been entirely dependent upon building by State housing commissions. That is a suggestion to which I cannot agree. What about the great number of homes that have been built by private enterprise? The Minister for Housing in the State Labour Government of Western Australia is reported by the Hansard of the Western Australian Parliament to have said, on the 25th November last year -
In the 12 months ended on the 30th June last, more than 9,000 homes were completed in Western Australia - 4,000 by the State Housing Commission and the balance by private contractors. The figure of approximately 9,000 was more than the number of homes erected in South Australia and, speaking from memory, it was almost as many as was built by Queensland, which is a considerably larger State than ours, reckoned by population. In any event, the number of houses built in Western Australia in the last 12 months on a per capita basis waB far more than that built in any other State.
That statement is evidence that in Western Australia the number of houses built by private contractors was greater than the number built under the State housing scheme. Many people prefer to build their own homes on their own block of land, rather than to be restricted to housing commission estates. This is a government which encourages young people to save to buy their own homes. I well remember the opportunity that I had to purchase a block of land, by instalments, during the late depression years. I paid gradually for the block of land that I had chosen carefully with an eye to the years that lay ahead.
Eventually it was my privilege to build on that block a home of my own design. This Government wishes to encourage young people to buy their own blocks of land. We trust that it will always be prepared to assist them by providing finance, so that they will not be compelled by State authorities to occupy homes, not of their own design and not in the areas of their choice.
The provision that finance shall be made available to building societies is fully justified. We admit that rental homes built by housing commissions do provide accommodation for the people, and that in a time of desperate need we must turn to schemes of that kind. But we say that we should not be bound to them. We believe in encouraging private enterprise to build, and it has responded magnificently in recent years. Rental homes invariably deprive young married couples of an incentive to enter into community life and take an interest in their homes. In a large number of cases, the maintenance of rental homes presents a problem. In many housing commission areas, we find that no gardens have been made by the tenants. These homes are often surrounded by black sand. This particularly applies in Western Australia where there is much black sand land in the metropolitan area of Perth. True community spirit is affected by undue emphasis being placed upon the provision of homes for the people through agencies such as housing commissions.
I want to refer now to the magnificent record of this Government in making money available to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The previous Labour Government provided approximately £62,000,000, but this Liberal Government has provided approximately £176,000,000. The figures quoted by my colleagues during this debate show the magnificent degree of assistance that the Commonwealth has extended to the State governments, in the way of co-operation, and the corresponding results in the large number of housing units built. These figures should give us a great deal of encouragement, particularly as the purpose of this bill is to renew an agreement which is decidedly in favour of the States.
I conclude by saying that, in my opinion, the State Labour governmentshave again and again used this housing agreement for ulterior purposes. Wehave seen groups of housing commission homes so located that even anybody whoknows little about politics would realizethat political motives lie behind their location, because they are strategically placed in accordance with electoral boundaries. I believe that the new agreement’ still gives far too great a freedom to theStates. I consider that the Commonwealth would be justified in imposing on the States some measure of control, under this agreement, in respect of wherethese large housing commission areas arelocated, in order to ensure that no ulterior electoral purpose is served by the choiceof location. The houses built under thisagreement should be located in carefullychosen and suitable areas. It is obvious that we have no real control over the location of houses built under the agreement, because I have seen housing commission areas located in places wherethere is no provision for adequatedrainage. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) referred to> slums, as I did at the beginning of my remarks. I believe that many housingcommission areas are so located that they will eventually become slums because,, being under government control, a seriouslack of maintenance could well eventuate.. I submit my views believing that theStates will, of course, accept the agreement, because it represents a positiveapproach to the housing problem.
– I am prompted to join in the debatebecause of what I believe to be the misleading and grossly inaccurate statementsmade by the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall)’ and the Minister for the Army (Mr.. Cramer), both of whom are now at thetable, as well as similar remarks made by other honorable members opposite. Thisbill, designed as it is to provide finance forhome building, will not, and cannot, touch approximately 2,000,000 of the working: people of this Commonwealth. Lastnight, the Minister for the Interiorclaimed that the average wage of the Australian workers was more than £17 a week.. or, approximately, £900 a year. Last year’s budget-papers, however, give a different picture. They show that there were 884,836 taxpayers earning less than £500 a year; that there were 1,237,517 wage-earners earning between £600 and £800 a year, or about £14 a week. These figures, taken together, show that more than 2,000,000 wage-earners in Australia are earning less than £14 a week on average.
– Those figures refer to taxable income.
– They do not. The budget-papers show that they refer to the actual incomes of taxpayers. So, there are more than 2,000,000 taxpayers who earn less than the £17 a week average mentioned by the Minister for the Interior. They are the people who, m the main, are unable to provide themselves with homes.
It is interesting to note that the Minister for the Army stated that we had approximately one home for every 3.5 persons in the Commonwealth. But what are homes? The Commonwealth Year-Book shows that the Commonwealth statistician’s definition of a home 13 much broader than the definition usually applied by the layman. It says -
For the purpose of a Census a “ dwelling “ is defined as a room or a collection of rooms occupied by a household group living together ae a ‘’ family unit “ whether comprising the whole or only part of a house or other building (including temporary structures). Included in this definition are private houses, flats, tenements, hotels, boarding houses, hospitals, institutions, and any other structure used for the purpose of human habitation. ft also gives the definitions of a fiat and a tenement as follows: -
For Census purposes a “ flat “ is defined as part of a house or other building ordinarily intended for occupation by a separate family group, and is a self-contained dwelling unit with both cooking and bathing facilities. A “ tenement “ is part of a house or other building ordinarily intended for occupation by a separate family group but is not a selfcontained unit, and consists in the main of a room or rooms with cooking facilities.
There are literally many thousands of people in Australia who to-day are living in groups of three or four families to a house. The Minister for the Interior himself knows that in Newcastle people are living in gun-pits.
– How many are in gun-pits ?
– The Minister knows that there are a dozen families living at Stockton in such conditions. They are living in caves and sheds. Over the last six years the Minister has travelled to and from Newcastle by train, and he knows quite well that along the railway lines there are many people living in tents.
– They are there by choice.
– They are not there by choice !
– Of course they are there by choice!
– They are there because there are no houses for them. They are working on the railway system and there are no houses for them, so they are forced to live in tents.
– They live there by choice.
– That is not true, as the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) knows. They live there because they are unable to find homes. If the Minister for the Interior doubts that, we shall send a group of them every week to see him and explain to him that they are looking for homes, but are unable to find homes.
It is interesting to relate the statements of both of the Ministers at the table to the statement made by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) when this bill was before another place. For the purposes of comparison he gave figures that had been obtained from building societies in respect of applicants for loans. Of the 50 cases he cited, we find that 46 concern people who receive between £16 and £20 a week, that three receive £15 a week, and that one receives £13 a week. The man who receives £13 a week is an engine-turner, and is probably a young man who has applied for a loan knowing that sooner or later he will be on a higher wage level and will be able to meet the expense associated with building a home. There is not one labourer among the group of people mentioned by the Minister for National Development.
We welcome the bill in that it is intended to provide finance for homebuilding, but, as I said before, let us not be blind to the fact that there are approximately 2,000,000 workers in Australia whom the bill cannot, and will not, touch. These workers are people who, because they are labourers earning the basic wage, are unable to take advantage of the measure. The Minister for the Interior said that there is nobody now on the basic wage. I shall disillusion him on that point, and very quickly I invite him to investigate the position in any railway depot. There is trouble in the railway service because wage levels are very low when compared with those of people in other industries. Boilermakers’ labourers, yardmen and fitters’ assistants receive a flat rate of between £13 and £14 a week. It is physically impossible for such workers to obtain finance to build a house for themselves. I believe that, if this Government wants to do the right thing for people who wish to acquire their own homes, it should make it possible for a public servant, a railway employee or an employee of any semi-governmental undertaking who is contributing to a superannuation fund, to an insurance scheme, or to a provident fund, to acquire -t house by paying the lowest deposit possible or even without having to pay a deposit at all. As soon as a man obtains a stake in the country, he is part of it.
Tn Newcastle recently, I sent to the Commonwealth Bank a young man who had £1.300 worth of assets, and who was building his own home. He had the weatherboards, the window sills, the window frames, and the remainder of the framework of the house erected. He went to the bank and tried to obtain £230 for the purpose of obtaining the roof and putting in the windows and a stove. He works at the State dockyard, and being a plasterer by trade he is able to do his own plastering. He wanted to reduce his expenditure, so he asked the bank for £230 to enable him to do the work himself. The bank manager said, “ No, that is not our policy. We are not allowed to lend on that basis. If you say it will cost £900 to complete the building and if you ure prepared to employ a builder, we are willing to consider providing you with, finance so that you may have your house completed.” This young man was willing to hand over the deeds of the land and the asset that had been erected, and to commence repayments as soon as the money was made available to him.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- J was interested when I heard the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) refer to some of the housing problems that existed in his electorate. He and other Opposition members seem to think that the electorates that they represent have a monopoly of bad housing, but. 1 should say that in the electorate >>f Fawkner housing is as bad as anywhere else in Australia. I know of a condemned house consisting of five rooms in which 29 persons are living, and of another in which thirteen people are living in two rooms. Opposition members have failed to emphasize the great progress that has been made during the term of office of this Government towards alleviating overcrowding. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) tried to discredit the present building rate, but he knows that during the last year more than 80,000 houses were completed in Australia
– When were more than 80,000 houses completed?
– In 1954-55, 81,71;» houses were completed. In the current financial year, almost 80,000 houses wilt have been completed. Fifty-seven thousand houses a year are needed to cope with the marriage rate and the intake of immigrants, so the backlog is being reduced by more than 20,000 houses h year. At present, the backlog is 100,000 houses, so at the present rate of building the shortage will almost have been overcome in four years. If that building rate is maintained, it will soon be possible to start clearing sub-standard dwellings and slums in parts of the capital cities. Within the last year, a start has been made with the demolition of condemned housesin the electorate of Fawkner. A temporary housing establishment has beendemolished, and the occupants placed in better homes. The policy adopted by the
Liberal Government has resulted in a much greater degree of improvement than was achieved during the term of office of the Australian Labour party.
It is necessary to look at the position for the whole of Australia. Whereas in 1921 there were 4.3 persons to each dwelling, the number is now 3.76. Figures with which I have just been furnished show that the position in Australia is unsurpassed elsewhere in the western world. In New Zealand the figure is the same as that for Australia, namely, 3.76; in the United States of America, it is 3.79 ; in the United Kingdom, it is 3.8; and in Canada it is 4. The improvement in the rate of home construction in Australia over the last two or three years has been such that nowhere else in the world L« the housing situation better.
I should now like to refer to the question of home-ownership. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) said that in his electorate very few people felt that they were able to buy their own homes. That is a strange state of affairs, because in my own electorate, just across the street, I have met a great number of persons who are desirous of purchasing their own homes or who are already in the process of doing so. Having spoken to many of my constituents, I know that there is a large number of people in the electorate of Fawkner who will welcome this agreement or any other means oy which the principle of home-ownership can be implemented.
The agreement seeks to promote the formation of co-operative building societies. I have had a lot of experience in helping to direct the work of cooperative societies, and I know the degree to which they have encouraged persons to own their own homes. The number of new Australians who have been able to purchase their own homes through a particular society with which I am connected is tremendous. Therefore, I am one of the many persons who welcome this agreement, which provides that 20 per cent, of the moneys that are to be made available to ‘the States during the first two year’s, and 30 per cent, in the ensuing three years, shall be allocated to co-operative building societies. From what has been stated by members of the Opposition, one would think that the number of people desiring to own their homes was being reduced. In fact, it has been increased. In 1947, only 53 per cent, of the people of Australia owned their own homes. The figure is now 63 per cent, and, at the rate at which it is increasing, it will not be many years before at least 70 per cent, of the people will be engaged in some form of home-ownership. Therefore, ] say again that this agreement must bc welcomed by the majority of Australians.
The revolving scheme that has been submitted in the bill will produce the mean? of voluntary saving that is so important. The effectiveness of money provided by the Commonwealth will be doubled because twice as many houses will be built than would be erected if they were built for rental. More than anything elsehomeownership means that the owner? take great care of their houses and dc their best to keep them in a good state of repair. That cannot be said of the largesocialist housing projects that are being built by the State government in various parts of Melbourne.
I say yet again that the majority of thipeople of Australia will welcome this Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and I trust that the State governments will sign the agreement within a very short time.
.- Thu agreement has been resisted by the State Premiers, despite what the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) has said. Those who have accepted it so far have clone so under protest. That includes the Premier of Tasmania, the Honorable Robert Cosgrove, who said that hi? Cabinet accepted it under protest. The States had to accept it because, if they had not, they would not get any mone.ii at all. One does not quarrel with one’s banker who controls the purse-strings.
One of the worst features of the bill is the interest rate that is charged. Notmuch mention has been made of that. The States will pay 4 per cent, interest to the Commonwealth on the money that they receive and will lend 20 per cent, of that money to the building societies at 4$ per cent. But what will the building societies, ask for that money when they lend it to the rank and file of people who want homes? That is the great question in this bill, and it has not been answered. Will they charge a further ^ per cent, to home-seekers, thus bringing the total interest rate up to more than 5 per cent. ? This high interest rate will shackle the wage-earners, who will still have to rely on the State housing commissions if they want homes. It will drive the wageearners farther and farther towards State assistance.. Therefore, the agreement will not achieve what the Government said it would. The wealthier people will get priorities from the building societies because they will have the ability to pay. The agreement will create a new middleman between the people and the government - the building society. Before this bill was introduced, we had direct contact between the State and the people. There was no middleman at all, but now the building societies are injected between the State and the people.
The high rate of interest, which is Liberal policy, is the red light of danger to our economy. It pushes the chance of a home further away from the wageearner, who is already staggering under the burden of inflation, and throws him on the mercy of the State. The building societies are in that way isolated from the wage-earner. As the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) said last night, 53 per cent, of home applicants in New South Wales receive less than £14 a week.. This bill will not help those people. It will have exactly the opposite effect, because only 80 per cent, of the money will go to the State for housing purposes and the other 20 per cent, will go to the co-operative building societies. Therefore, the poorer people in the community - 53 per cent, in New South Wales - cannot expect one scrap of help from the co-operative building societies when this bill becomes law. They will definitely be made to suffer as a result of this legislation. The States can use only 80 per cent, of the money in the first and second years, and only 70 per cent, in the third, fourth and fifth years.
– Less the 5 per cent, for servicemen’s dwellings.
– As the honorable member for Werriwa says, less 5 per cent, for servicemen’s dwellings. The wage-earner will be pushed further and further away from the chance to get a home. Low interest is the answer to this problem and would transfuse new blood into home-building. In every State fewer houses are being built to-day. Figures have been cited here for each State. In Tasmania, 2,364 new houses were under construction at the 31st March of thi9 year. At the same time last year, 2,507 new houses were under construction. During the March quarter of this year, the number of new homes commenced was 592, a decrease of 56 compared with the December quarter of 1955. lt is the same story throughout the Commonwealth. There should be a special low rate of interest - 2 per cent, or 3 per cent. - for all housing loans. That is Labour’s policy, and it would give’ the vast bulk of home applicants a reasonable chance to get a house. Labour’s policy is to have low interest rates and low deposits, and that policy should be implemented as a matter of urgency.
In Tasmania, the Agricultural Bank builds the government homes. No deposit is required, and there is a re-purchase system if the occupant wants to buy the home. We have listened to a lot of clap-trap from Government supporterswho say that we do not believe in private ownership of homes. That is the great lie that has been forced out through propaganda from the Government benches. But what sort of a deposit will be asked for by the building societies? It will be £700 to £900 deposit, plus a block of land owned by the applicant, on a house valued at about £3,500. This bill will increase rents by about 10s. a week to all whocome under its operations. That is a tragedy and it will slow down the homebuilding rate for those really in. need of homes.
I want to conclude with the Canberra story. The Government has failed: to provide houses for its employees in Canberra, as the honorable member for theAustralian Capital Territory (Mr: J. R. Fraser) has often said. More than 3,250’ people are on the housing waiting list and are entitled to houses. The waitingtime now is more than two> and a half years. The people being allotted houses at the moment are those who- registered in September, 1953. Those registered now must wait three years to secure a house from this Government. The rate of housing construction, compared with population increase, is the worst in the Commonwealth; yet in the Australian Capital Territory housing is completely under the control of this Government. It has complete power and complete responsibility, but it has failed to house its own people adequately in Canberra. How can it be given the responsibility of housing the people of Australia? We need 3,000 houses in Canberra to meet the present demand, and the problem will become more acute. As the Minister knows, officers are being transferred from Melbourne to Canberra and 1,000 additional houses a year for the next five years will be needed to cope with the great influx of people from the capital cities. The number of housing units completed in 1952 was 635, but in 1956 it is 398. In 1951, 1,044 housing units were under construction, but last year the figure had dropped to 657. In 1950, the number of people on the departmental waiting list was 2,902, and this year it is 3,250. The number of people directly employed in the housing industry has decreased from 951 in 1950 to 693 last year. That is the record of the Government in the housing field in a territory in which it has complete control.
The Opposition will not vote against this bill; we merely point out its worst features. It was wrong for the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) to say that we will vote against this bill. We shall not do so. We believe in private ownership, but we do not believe in the methods used by this Government in its purported endeavour to improve the housing position. This agreement will make it more difficult for a wage-earner to obtain a home. Over 50 per cent, of the people in Australia to-day are earning about £14 a week, from which they must pay income tax. They will receive negligible assistance only from this bill. Although the Opposition will not vote against the bill, it definitely disapproves of the methods by which this Government has attempted to depart from the principles laid down by a Labour government in the agreement that it negotiated in earlier years.
.- The Australian Government has no power to deal with housing, except in its own territories. It has power under the Constitution, however, to provide money to the States for the purposes of housing, and it has power to lay down terms and conditions upon which it shall make that money available. Under that power the Commonwealth has been providing money to the States for housing for some years past. The bill that we are now debating provides for a new agreement under which the States will be given money for housing purposes. The Commonwealth is acting perfectly correctly, under its constitutional powers, in saying on what terms and conditions it will provide this money. We heard an amazing speech this afternoon from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), in which he suggested that the Commonwealth was exercising duress when it laid down terms and conditions. He implied that the Commonwealth had no right to do this. Of course the position is that the States cannot get money from the Commonwealth as of right for purposes of housing. They may ask the Commonwealth for the money, and it is for the Commonwealth to say in what circumstances they shall have it. The Commonwealth has, in fact, laid down fair terms and conditions. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who comes from Tasmania, to the fact that when the Labour Government introduced its 1945 legislation the Labour Premier of Tasmania would not become a party to the agreement. It is expected however, that the same Labour Premier of Tasmania will be very glad indeed to accept the agreement proposed in this bill. It will be obvious that when the matter is examined by a responsible Premier, who knows whether or not he wants money for housing, he will prefer the present bill to the earlier bill that has received praise from the honorable member for Wilmot and other Opposition members.
The honorable member for Wilmot gave the show away in the concluding portion of his speech. We have heard, during this debate, a great deal of abuse from the Opposition with regard to this bill, but when it comes to a showdown it appears, from the honorable member’s remarks, that the Opposition will not vote against it. That demonstrates how idle was the criticism of Opposition speakers. If their criticism had been constructive, one could have praised them for it. But it was not constructive criticism; it was in terms of abuse. I have already mentioned the term “ duress “ that was used by the honorable member for Melbourne. Similar strong words of an abusive nature were used by other Opposition members. The hollow insincerity of their remarks is apparent when we are told that they do not intend to vote against the bill.
I shall now deal in more detail with the housing position. At the end of World War II. there was a shortage of no fewer than 300,000 houses in Australia. By 1947 the shortage amounted to 345,000 houses. That was during the period of office of a Labour government.
– Was there a war then?
– There was no war in 1947. No doubt the honorable member has a short memory, hut of course that disability is shared by other Opposition members. Our housing difficulties in those days were due to the Labour government’s system of controls, which brought about shortages of materials and caused bottlenecks in construction. Great economic injury was done to the country by strikes, which were fomented by the Communists, and with which the Labour government made no real attempt to deal. Those were the reasons why the housing shortage became worse in those years. Houses are being built to-day at the rate of 80,000 a year, when the annual requirement is 57,000. Consequently, the housing shortage is being overtaken at the rate of 23,000 houses a year. It would, no doubt, be possible to build more than 80,000 houses a year, but for the shortage of labour and materials. It is not so much a question of the shortage of money, because the Commonwealth is providing a great deal of money for housing. A great deal of labour and a lot of materials are required, however, to build 80,000 houses annually for a number of years.
During the last six years, the period during which the present Government has been in office, no fewer than 450,000 houses have been erected. During the first five years of operation of the previous agreement negotiated by the Labour government, 30,296 houses were erected under the provisions of the agreement. During the next five years of the currency of that agreement, during whichthe present Government was in power,no fewer than 53,925 houses were constructed.
It must be remembered, however, that only about 15 per cent. of the total houses built in the Commonwealth are constructed under the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. It must not be thought for a moment that all house-building in Australiais carried on under the terms ofthe agreement.
The most important feature of the new agreement is that it provides better opportunities for home-ownership. It if idle for members of the Labour party to say that they are not opposed to homeownership. When the Labour government brought in its legislation in . 1945. it did not provide for home-ownership, as the present Government has provided in this bill.
– The Labour government was not concerned with making people little capitalists.
– That is what was said at the time by Mr. Dedman, who was the Minister in charge of housing. When he was asked by one of his colleagues whether the Government would provide for the sale of houses at lower prices. he said -
The Commonwealth Government–
That is, the Labour Government - is not concerned with making the workers into little capitalists.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I know that Opposition members do not like to be reminded of that statement. Indeed some of them deny that Mr. Dedman made that remark, but it appears in Hansard, and the fact that he said it, as representing Labour policy, is known throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Those Labour supporters who to-day say that they do not agree with it, have either altered their policy in the interim, or are not sincere. During the present sittings, Labour supporters have risen time and time again to express views that differ from Labour’s policy of only a few years back. How far they are sincere we do not know. First, they deny that they differ, but, when it is established that they differ from their former policy, they begin to equivocate. Far more houses will be provided now than was possible under the old agreement, and there will no longer be the same tendency to make great landlords of the State governments. Building societies, which have had a rough time over the last few years, will be greatly assisted by this new bill. During the ten years for which the old agreement operated, only 3,307 houses were sold. Under the amended agreement 1,452 houses were sold in only one year.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) is briefed as devil’s advocate by the Government to argue every spurious case with regard to arbitration, Transport-
– I rise to order. I regard, the honorable member’s remarks as grossly offensive.
– In that case, I will withdraw them. The honorable member for Balaclava, more than any one else in the House, should know the social problem which results from inadequate housing, because he is an expert on matrimonial relations and made his fortune in that field before entering the Parliament. It ill becomes any one to criticize the operation of the 1945 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement which, according to the Department of National Development’s own figures, had, to the end of March last, produced 90,986 houses. In a single decade, reasonablypriced and well-built houses were provided under the agreement for 90,986 Australian families. It ill becomes the snobs in the ministerial ranks to refer ro them as slum dwellings. The housing commissions have carried out the only slum-clearance work done in Australia. Moreover, they have produced no jerrybuilt homes.
This measure should be called the State Grants (Housing) Bill, for the States have not yet accepted the agreement. Of course, the only way in which they will get the money will be by signing the agreement, but it is quite plain - under clause 5, dealing with the amount of money; clause 9, dealing with the interest rate, and clause 10, dealing with the method of repaying advances - that in every case where there is no agreement the Commonwealth shall decide. The States would not object to this so-called agreement if the Commonwealth were to give them the full sum which the Australian people require for rental housing. The States would not object if the Commonwealth were then to give them a further sum equal to a quarter of the rental housing amount for the use of building societies. They would be only too pleased to pass it on, and also to spend a sum equal to61/2 per cent. of the rental housing amount for service dwellings. But the States fear that the Commonwealth will decide, as it is entitled to do under section 96 of the Constitution and clause 5 of this so-called agreement, how much they shall receive. They fear that the Commonwealth will first subtract from that amount one-fifth for the building societies, and then onetwentieth for its own responsibility in regard to service dwellings. They fear that the Commonwealth will do this because it flouted its obligation to find all the funds required under the 1945 agreement. They fear, too, that the Commonwealth will do it because it has made housing one of its first sacrifices in its fight against inflation.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) put -
That the questionbe now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporarychairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 7th June (vide page 2899), on motion by Sir ArthurFadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition is in entire agreement with this bill, which is a measure of great importance. There are two aspects of it to which I wish to refer shortly. One of them is the means by which the Commonwealth Parliament, with no direct jurisdiction of a legislative kind over the universities of the States and certainly with no jurisdiction over the internal administration of the universities of the States, is able, in a measure such as this, to make grants to the States and thereby continue a very valuable subsidy for the purposes of education. This subsidy is intended, not merely for the universities of the States as such, as set out in the schedule, but also for the residential colleges which are affiliated to the universities of the States.
At this point, I direct attention to a matter that should be remembered by honorable gentlemen, especially those on the Government side of the House, and notably the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall). When the Minister was discussing the Housing Agreement Bill 1956, he spent some time in arguing that the Commonwealth Parliament has no jurisdiction over housing in a general way. That is true. But, of course, when the example of legislation such as the present bill is followed, there is no limit, practically, to the assistance that can be given by the Commonwealth to homebuilding in Australia. The relevant instrument is, of course, section 96 of the Constitution. I want to refer to it because of its supreme importance in the development of this federation.
The relevant sentence of section 96 of the Constitution provides that the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit. For a time, it was thought that that was not an absolute power, but that it was limited and that the Commonwealth couldnot lay down terms and conditions which were themselves outside Commonwealth power. The matter was settled many years ago in the case of the federal aid for road construction in Australia. The Commonwealth laid down the terms of the grant and it was argued before the court that that was beyond Commonwealth power because the Commonwealth could not control roads. It was argued that the Commonwealth could not determine what roads had to be built. The court said that that was true, but that the Commonwealth could give money on any terms that it thought fit and that, if the State accepted the terms, they were binding.
This bill is another illustration of the same principle and the illustration that E have given is always an answer to Commonwealth governments which claim that the thing asked of them is not directly within their legislative jurisdiction. Home-building is one such matter. Education is another. This bill is an instance of assistance to education. The housing legislation was the last illustration before the House. I mentioned it because of its supreme importance in the development of this country and to try to end the shibboleth that because the Commonwealth cannot control education directly, it should not go - to the assistance of education. Of course, this was not the first step.
I was sorry, this afternoon, to hear the name of an old colleague of ours, Mr. Dedman, brought into a debate, without relevance or just cause. Mr. Dedman was the. author of one of the greatest educational schemes in the post-war period, or, indeed, in the history of any democracy or Commonwealth country. The scholarships initiated by the Chifley Government, when he was in charge of educational matters, amounted, I think, to £3,000. That was a tremendous step forward, which enabled students to take advantage of university education. That was the origin of the grant, and his name should always be associated with it.
Following on that, this legislation has been initiated by the present Government. The effect of it is that the Commonwealth Parliament, that is the people acting in their Commonwealth capacity, unanimously, so to speak, agree to make a grant which this year will amount to almost £2,000,000 to the institutions set forth in the schedule.
As I pointed out a moment ago, we cannot deal with that topic as a topic directly within Commonwealth power, but we can deal with it by means of section 96 of the Constitution. The effectiveness of the assistance is very considerable. I speak, particularly, of the University of Sydney, having the honour to be a member of its governing senate. I think that without this assistance that university would have found it almost impossible to carry on and I have no doubt that that is true of the universities of Melbourne, Queensland, Adelaide, ‘Western Australia and Tasmania. The University of New England, in New South Wales, can, and probably will, receive assistance to the maximum figure under the provisions of this bill. These are vital matters.
Another matter that I want to mention is the kind of special assistance that might be given by the Commonwealth in the field of education. In this particular instance, the Commonwealth requires the State to provide a portion of the money voted for the teaching and administrative costs of the residential colleges of the universities. They are not the university itself. They are colleges representing and started, I think, in most cases, by church institutions or churches, and continued on a non-ecclesiastical basis as far as women’s colleges are concerned. They will receive assistance under this hill. Similarly, the university itself will benefit in having a part of its running expenses met in this way.
But the topic which is of supreme importance and in connexion with which special assistance should be granted urgently and to an increasing degree, is the subject of technical education which embraces engineering education and scientific education generally. The New South Wales University of Technology is such an institution. I think it is now conceded by those who have thought most deeply on this subject that the area of education in which British countries lag most, compared with other countries, is in this field of technology, science, scientific invention, and the like. T should like special assistance to be given by the Commonwealth under this bill or some other bill under which the States might accept assistance on condition that the grants are devoted to scientific education. The future of humanity may depend upon it. Certainly the future of Australia is deeply involved in it. I suggest that such funds may be increasingly made available by the Commonwealth, because this is a field which I think will be even more productive than mere grants to the great institutions which will benefit from this bill. I appreciate the importance of the legislation and we all agree with it. Having reached this stage in assisting education, we cannotmark time. The nation must go forward. In this respect we have no constitutional limitations which are a barrier to action of the kind I have described. The Commonwealth can select this field and can also select housing, in respect of which it has specific powers. There is power to grant financial assistance for any purpose that the Commonwealth thinks fit, so long as the assistance is made available through the State parliaments, which are only too glad to receive assistance. The Commonwealth may stipulate conditions. This provision is in a sense what might be called one of the flexible provisions of the constitutional system. “We have a binding and rigid constitution which limits the Commonwealth in many respects, but section 96 is not a provision of this type. It provides a way out of most of these problems. “We welcome this legislation, and I make no further analysis of it. Many of my colleagues are interested in special phases. The Opposition gives the bill its full support.
– This bill has as its object the provision of grants approaching a. total of nearly £2,000,000, which may be made available to the universities throughout Australia under the conditions set out in the bill. As the right honorable gentleman from Barton (Dr. Evatt) has indicated, the Opposition supports the bill, and we assume therefore that no controversy will arise regarding the central purposes for which the bill is. to be used. Nevertheless, I feel sure that there are many remarks which members on both sides of the House may wish to make concerning the general subject of university education. I think it is proper that they should make them, partly f demonstrate the fact that this Parliament, in a broad national way, does take an interest in and does recognize the importance of universities as being among the great institutions of the Commonwealth of Australia. Furthermore, the fact that the Commonwealth, by providing finan cial assistance, has entered into this field, makes it the duty of this Parliament, and of every member of this Parliament, to take an interest in what is going on in the institutions which this Parliament is now supporting.
As the right honorable gentleman indicated, the scheme which is now operating had its origin in the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, which was brought into existence shortly after the recent war. Provision for reconstruction training was clearly a function of the Commonwealth and, again as the right honorable gentleman indicated, it would have been possible for the Commonwealth, at the termination of the reconstruction training scheme, to take the line that its obligations had ceased and that its responsibility no longer existed, and leave the universities to their own devices. But, as is well known, as the reconstruction retaining scheme began to expire, the present Government took upon itself the responsibility of finding some suitable means of arranging for financial assistance to the universities in a. way which would replace the reconstruction training scheme, and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), as all honorable members know, took a very large personal part as an architect of the present scheme of financial assistance to the universities.
The remarks that I wish to make about the scheme concern chiefly the changes which have taken place in the operations of the universities in Australia. I think that the success of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme did have, by its very nature, certain very marked effects on universities and the way in which universities themselves came to regard their own functions. One immediate effect of that very admirable scheme was that it introduced more people to the idea that a. university education was obtainable by all and was available to all. It caused more people in Australia to regard attendance at a university as being a normal part of education rather than an exceptional part, and that, of course, is demonstrated by the permanent increase in university enrolments which has taken place in this country. In 1939, the enrolments in all universities in Australia totalled, in round figures, 14,000. At the peak of the reconstruction training scheme, they had risen to 32,500. With the tapering off of that scheme, the enrolments tended to fall, but to-day, in 1956, the enrolments are again at almost the same level as they were at during the peak period of the reconstruction training scheme; and, of course, to-day, there would be fewer than 100, or a few score, reconstruction training students still on the university rolls. One natural effect - and I think this effect may have been less desirable - of the reconstruction training scheme was to increase the trend in Australian universities to provide training for an occupation. A great deal of the work done in Australian universities to-day is vocational training - preparing students for occupations. If we look at the statistics of university subjects and the figures relating to degrees conferred, we find in Australian universities a very great trend towards what might be termed the utilitarian side, the vocational training side, of university activities. Nowa.da.ys, first degrees, or bachelor degrees, in medicine, engineering, law, science, dentistry, agriculture, architecture, and so on, form perhaps two-thirds of the total number of degrees conferred in Australian universities, a proportion much greater than was found in the prewar pattern.
A further influence which the reconstruction training scheme had, was to set up in the universities and, I think, in the student bodies of universities, a tendency to look for greater public financial aid. The habit in universities used to be towards independence. The habit to-day is certainly one of seeking assistance, and that applies to the students just as much as it applies to the university governing bodies. In my own student days, the general habit of mind of the student was that he worked his way through university; it never occurred to him that any one had to assist him to complete his course. The habit of mind to-day in the student - and I make no criticism of it - is that some one should provide him with money to cover his university course. The habit of mind in the governing bodies of universities in pre-war days used to be, “We should be very careful about accepting any money for fear that the grant of the money should have strings attached to it “. Nowadays, the habit of mind of every governing body of every Australian university is, “ Let us see if we can find any excuse for getting more money from somebody “.
– Of course, we have no big benefactors in this country.
– That is quite true. In Australia, the State has customarily been regarded as the major benefactor. One element of the scheme to be put into operation by means of this bill is that it is hoped to encourage public benefactions, particularly from industry, in addition to the provision of money from governmental sources.
– But public benefactions will not attract Commonwealth grants.
– They could do so.
– They have not done so hitherto.
– At any rate, it will be easier for the universities to obtain the full measure of Commonwealth financialassistance if they obtain additional revenue from other sources. The figures relative to university finances show that the universities to-day are dependent on governmental finance to a far greater degree than they used to be. I propose to refer to the figures given in the publications of the Commonwealth Statistician showing the total income available for general university activities. In 1933, when the total receipts of all Australian universities were only £6S2,000, grants made by both the Commonwealth and States made up less than one-third of that total. In 1954, the latest year for which I have the figures, when the total receipts of Australian universities amounted to £9,160.000, as contrasted with £682,000 in 1933, government grants totalled £7,490,000, or 81 per cent, of the total receipts of the universities. The contrast between the position in 1933 and that in 1954 is shown by the difference between 31 per cent., which was the exact proportion that government grants bore to the total receipts of the universities in 1933, and 81 per cent, in 1954.
This brings us to the problem of whether or not we are to consider the Australian universities as State institutions. 1 use the word “ State “ not in contradistinction to “ federal but in the sense of something subject to public control and to the wishes of the respective parliaments that make the grants. I think honorable members will agree that 81 per cent, is a very substantial proportion of the total revenue of anybody. To what extent are parliaments and the taxpayers, who provide the money which the parliaments disburse, entitled to ask whether they are getting value for their money? To what extent are they entitled to say that this or that purpose should be served by the universities in the expenditure of the money? Conversely, to what extent are the universities entitled to claim, as, traditionally they have claimed, that they can do what they like within the university sphere, and to suggest that this or that attempt to supervise their activity is an interference with academic freedom? Is it their function simply to spend and to be admired, or are they to be made subject to some sort of public, scrutiny now that so large a proportion of their funds is provided from public sources?
All honorable members who are concerned with matters such as academic freedom must realize that this is a vary difficult, and in some ways, a very delicate, matter. As I have already said, one consequence of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme was to maKe the universities dependent to a greater degree on governmental financial assistance. We must recognize that fact, and
We must recognize, also, that certain other changes in the nature of university activities have taken place. For example, universities, like all other bodies in ne country, have been affected by rising costs. I need not enlarge upon that problem. Universities, their staffs, and the students, like all other groups of people in Australia, have been affected by the changing ideas about what is an appropriate standard of living. At one time, in my own student days, students and staffs were quite accustomed to the idea that a bicycle, or their own legs, provided an appropriate means of travel. But people who would once have ridden bicycles now think it is proper to drive motor cars. People who would once have thought one drink at dinner time on Sundays was an appropriate indulgence, now think they ought to have a drink at dinner time on every day of the week. I do not think the universities should not share in the general rise of the standards of the community. But that sort of thing has had its effect upon the expectations of comfort and of monetary reward.
Perhaps the greatest change has been the trend towards more specialist training and specialist research, which requires costly buildings and equipment. We an go back in history to the ancient philosopher who, when he “ considered the heavens “, needed no more than quietness and a clear night for his study. Nowadays, an astronomer needs an observatory, costly equipment, and a highly paid technical staff. Newton was able to think in an orchard. The modern Newton needs a whole factory and a battery of electronic brains in order to think at all. For better or for worse, the specialized demands of specialist institutions necessitate the expenditure of much more money than was required in the past. This has helped tocreate the very great demand for financial aid which the universities now make.
In approaching the conclusion of ny remarks, I should like to address myself to a question at which I hinted a littleearlier : Seeing that additional public financial assistance is being given, to what extent are we, as members of the Parliament, entitled to look searchingly intowhat the universities are doing? The sort of inquiry that I personally should like to make does not relate so much to the activities of this or that lecturer, or to the question whether this or that set of views is being promulgated. On such matters, my mind is confident as well as calm, because I have a firm belief that the human mind is capable of sorting out sense from nonsense and distinguishing between truth and error, and that the Parliament need not concern itself very greatly whether one man’s course of lectures is directed towards a right end, or whether this or that lecturer holds correct views. There are no correct views in the broader fields of learning.
But one thing about which I personally feel very much concerned is the general purposes which the universities consider themselves to be serving. That question can be looked at best, I think, from thestandpoint of the individual student-. What do people go to the university to do ? I fear that a great many students at the universities attend simply to be trained for a job. Any one who has taught in a university knows the terrific pressure that is imposed on lecturers by the demands of a body of students interested only in passing an examination in order to qualify for a profession or for some position which may be advertised at the end of the course. That is one of the more discouraging and dispiriting things about modern Australian university life. I shall go the whole distance with any honorable member who argues that there is a national need for technical and professional competence. There is no doubt that we need engineers, doctors, lawyers, and scientists of various kinds. We must train them in order to meet the national need. But I am rather dismayed when I look at official university publications, particularly those which support the search for more money. I find that the university governing bodies and vice-chancellors base the whole of their case for more money on the function of the universities in training specialists. I am also rather dismayed when I find that young students embarking upon university careers are again just thinking of the occupational purposes that universities serve. I do not conceive that to be the whole function of a university.
– Teachers’ journals are even worse.
– I am not as familiar with the field of teaching as is the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), but I can readily believe that that is so. What do we expect a university to give over and above training for an occupation? What do we expect a university to do in addition to producing for the nation the whole army of technicians which, undoubtedly, the nation needs? Some people may go to a university for its snob value - just because they like to have some letters after their names. Some people may go to a university just because of the opportunities for sport which it provides, over and above those provided by a technical college. But there is something far beyond that.
I believe that what distinguishes a university from a vocational training institution and brings honour to it is that it adds something more to technical competence. Trying to think what that something more is, it seems to me that it is a search for truth, in the larger meaning of that term, and a belief that there is something that can be designated as the truth. In this world of ours to-day, we are accustomed to drift into the assumption that we cannot distinguish the true from the false. We need the universities to remind us - and to remind us constantly - that there is something that is true and something that is false. We need the universities to remind us, too, that it is possible for the human mind to distinguish between them, to devote itself constantly and without deviation to the search for the truth, and to value the truth above everything else. I feel that that is the sort of thing which universities, perhaps more than any other institutions, can add to the function of merely training for an occupation.
I hope the fact that the universities are receiving public assistance will not mean that, in future years, they will direct their attention simply to their vocational training job. I hope they will not desert that ancient principle of learning which expresses itself, not in the mere accumulation of knowledge, but in a constant, exacting, painful and undeviating search for the truth and a willingness to make sacrifices to obtain the truth and to regard it as the most precious thing that the human mind can encompass.
Having said those few words, I express the hope that, in the criticisms offered in this Parliament and in the arguments that may be produced by the universities on the question of financial assistance from taxpayers’ money, neither we nor the universities will ever forget that higher function of a university - a function not merely of scholarship, but of intellectual integrity which has been honoured in universities in the past.
.-Having served for ten years in a university, I regard it as an honour and a privilege to participate in the determination of the policy for providing, through Commonwealth agencies, for the development of universities. I should like to refer to the changes that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has noticed in recent years in relation to the development of universities and the provision, through the Commonwealth, of funds for them. The Minister gave the impression that, in his student days - they were not so long ago - every university student was a poor lad who rode to the university on a bicycle, but that now students are well provided for. He implied that they expected to use motor cars rather than bicycles. I do not think that that is an accurate picture. Years ago, just as to-day, the sons of very well-to-do people attended universities. I believe that in the days when the Minister was a university student, the proportion of students with well-to-do parents was rather higher than it is now. If some of the poorer students did use bicycles in those days, they had a more comfortable and, perhaps, a more effective means of transport than the over-crowded trains and trams on which” the students ride now.
I do not think that the Minister painted a completely accurate picture of the changes that have occurred. Many students to-day are working their way through a university and are paying the high fees that must be charged because insufficient funds have been made available to universities from Commonwealth and State sources. In these days it is not so easy for students to pay the fees charged for university courses, especially if they are working students, as it was in the 1930’s.
I hope that I shall not be accused of speaking with only a political objective in view if I remind the House that the foundations of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and of this kind of legislative provision for Australian universities were laid by the Australian Labour party - very largely by Mr. Dedman. He was attacked - rather gratuituously, I thought - in an earlier debate to-day. In the rough and tumble of politics, one would have expected such an attack to come from the rough and tumble members of the Parliament, rather than from those who have had the benefit of a university education. I give full credit to Mr. Dedman for the part he played in the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and in the establishment of the Australian National University.
I want to refer to the very obvious fact that all is not well with the universities. Let me refer the House to an article entitled “ The Responsibility of Science and the University in the Modern World”, published recently by Sir Ian Clunies Ross. On page 12 of the article, Sir Ian stated -
What can or should be done in Australia? Here we encounter all the normal resistances on the part of students, parents, and possibly staff, which have already been mentioned. In addition, there are difficulties which, if not peculiar to Australia, occur in exaggerated form: The continual struggle for the majority of the universities to carry on even as they are; the day-to-day uncertainty whether they will he solvent to-morrow; the battle to maintain and develop post-graduate research schools; the lower staff-student ratio as compared with the universities of the United Kingdom. All these, in a period of vicious inflation, preoccupy staff, administrators and’ governing bodies, and there is little time or energy left for thought about the vital purpose of university education or the broader questions of educational reform.
Having worked for ten years in a university, 1 can say that every one of those statements by Sir Ian Clunies Ross is strikingly true. He goes on -
Indeed, a pardonable analogy may be drawn between the universities and Toynbee’s arrested civilizations of the esquimaux and the nomads who were so overborne by the sheer business of living that opportunity to develop the arts and practices of civilization were denied them. While their present plight does not excuse complete inaction, it is obvious that the changes necessary to provide some semblance of general education for all students cannot be made except at considerable cost and by the appointment of additional staff.
This emphasizes afresh that the time is long overdue for a comprehensive examination, at the highest level, of the whole problem of university education in Australia.
Things are not all well in our universities. It is so obvious that more funds are required. It is so obvious, also, that more funds are needed for housing, railroads, road-building and for many other things. But the funds which should be provided for universities differ in this way from the funds necessary for other activities:
The resources are available in this field, whereas in so many other fields the problem, as has so rightly been recognized, is the shortage of resources. So .:i resources are available to meet the increased funds that should be provided to improve conditions in universities and to raise the standard of university education and research. °
In 1947-48, the Commonwealth provided 85 per cent, of the total university revenue. The last figures that I have available show that, to-day, the percentage is smaller. In 1953-54, it had fallen to 56 per cent. University staffs are themselves most concerned about this decrease. Prior to the determination of the level of the present grant of £2,000,000 the federal council of the University Staff Associations of Australia was active in an endeavour to have the grant increased. I have here a letter from the federal council of the associations to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) which reads -
The Federal Council of University Staff Associations of Australia and the National Union of Australian University Students are deeply concerned at the inadequacy of the financial resources available to Australian universities. University expansion, essential to the future well-being of Australia, is being severely restricted by financial considerations.
We recognize that university finance is considered to be primarily a State, not Commonwealth, responsibility. Nevertheless, in recent years the Commonwealth Government has seen the necessity of making substantial university grants. We feel that many of the present difficulties of the universities can be resolved only by greater Commonwealth participation in university finance.
There is no doubt whatever about that. The Commonwealth must come more and more into this picture. The letter continues -
We would like an opportunity to express in some detail our views on this subject. Accordingly, we request that you, sir, receive a joint deputation from our organizations at a date convenient to yourself, which we would suggest might be early in June, 1956.
The date of that letter was the 30th April. Of course, it was too late for a deputation to see the Prime Minister, who answered as follows: -
I received the letter … in which yon ask if it will be possible for me to receive a joint deputation from the Federal Council of the University Staff Associations of Australia and the National Union of Australian University Students to discuss university finances.
Unfortunately I shall be leaving Australia at the end of this month to attend the Prime
Ministers’ Conference in London, and I cannot see any opportunity of arranging to meet this deputation before 1 leave.
So nothing came of that proposal. I di not think that the representations of the universities as a whole, in relation to these annual grants, have been brought fully to the notice of the Government. The needs of the universities are widely recognized and I should like to spend a moment or two indicating what some of them are. It is generally recognized that there is overcrowding in universities, and that they have inadequate facilities and equipment and inadequate funds for research. Perhaps some figures carefully prepared recently will give an. enlightening comparison of the amount of money expended for every student in several British universities which are similar to our institutions, with the amount spent for every student in our universities. Expenditure for each student in various British universities was - Birmingham, £452; Bristol, £480; Leeds, £438; Manchester, £402 ; Nottingham, £325 ; Sheffield, £451 ; and Edinburgh, £343; or an average pf £A.422. The comparable figures for the Australian universities are - Sydney, £257; Melbourne, £259; Adelaide, £264; Queensland, £274; Western Australia, £355 ; and Tasmania, £456 - the only one which compares favorably with the British figures. The average expenditure for each student in Australian universities was £284, compared with £422 in the United Kingdom.
Professor S. H. Roberts, the vicechancellor of the University of Sydney, in a letter to graduates in April, 1955, referring to statements made by the president of the University of Toronto, said -
The President complained that “ Canadian Universities spent in 1952 $953 per student, fct wc in Canada spent in 1951 $1,077 for each individual in our penitentiaries “.
I do not think that the amount spent in Australian penitentiaries for every prisoner is quite as high as the amount spent on prisoners in Canada, but it is considerably higher a prisoner than the a-mount spent on each student in our universities. Professor Roberts commented as follows: - *
By Australian standards, the existing state of affairs in Canadian universities seems a very happy, indeed almost an Elysian, condi- tion. The above quotation thus draws attention to the terrific lag that has taken place in University conditions in Australia. It also clearly pinpoints the issue that any amelioration is beyond the capacity of even the best endowed universities and must perforce come from government subsidies.
The information bulletin of the Federal Council of University Staff Associations of Australia made the following statement last month: -
In 1954 the University of Sydney prepared a detailed statement of its needs for the next decade. Department by department, the survey revealed appalling deficiencies. For example, the Psychology laboratory accommodation is described as being ‘ so far below standard that it is a disgrace that students should be expected to work under such conditions ‘. The Professors of English reported : One thousand students with a staff of eight is still most unsatisfactory, and a true University education cannot be given in such conditions ‘. The two permanent members of staff in the Department of Music, ‘together with their pianos, are housed in two rooms.
The rooms were originally designed as the kitchen and pantry of the Yeoman Bedell-‘ Similar conditions doubtless prevail in other universities.
They certainly do. I have had the experience of getting half-way through second term before I knew the names of all the students in my class, because there was such a large number of them. The needs of universities are so obvious that they should not have to be stressed. The position will become even graver in the future, as the pressure of the number of students increases. In the five-years period from 1954 to 1959 there will be an increase of 25 per cent, over the previous five years, and in the succeeding five-years period there will be a further increase of 25 per cent. Apart from all these considerations, there are other reasons why more resources should be devoted to higher education in this country. There are, first, technological reasons. These are now regarded in the context of the cold war. We have suddenly become disturbed that Australia is not educating nearly so high a proportion of scientists as is the United States of America, while the United States has suddenly become concerned that it is not training nearly so high a proportion of scientists and engineers as is being trained in the Soviet Union. That is a matter about which we should be rightly concerned. If this kind of comparison attracts the attention of a great number of people who for so long have been silent and uninterested in these problems, cold war competition will prove to have been an important factor in the development of this country.
There is no question about the fact that, apart from the cold, war situation, the rapid development of industry by what is summarized in the shorthand term “ automation “ demands the allocation of more of our resources to technical education. The stress that should be laid, and which is being laid, upon the need for technical education should not obscure the need to develop a broad educational pattern for universities, to which the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) referred a little while ago. I quote the following further statement by Sir Ian Clunies-Ross -
That is, the situation in relation to the universities - should form the point of reference to which men, in years to come, may turn: the bastion from which to resist the pressures which would divorce the university from its true and lofty purpose, which would debase its role to the serving of essentially utilitarian interests.
I have devoted the greater part of my thinking on the question of the development of universities to stressing the need for them to serve utilitarian purposes, because it is necessary that they should contribute towards enabling a community to increase its productive capacity in order to get rid of poverty and to raise the standard of living and of culture. However, one should not, particularly in times of technological revolution and cold war competition, allow this concentration upon utilitarian purposes to hide the fact that at all times the universities have a much broader purpose to serve; but they cannot serve that purpose unless money is made available for non-technical faculties at least at the rate at which it is provided for the technical faculties. There is a likelihood of governments responding to the demand for technical development and a consequent danger, perhaps, of universities falling behind as centres of broad and general education - an education that will emphasize the fact that truth, cannot be acquired without a tolerant and careful application of thought and integrity to the problems in hand. Perhaps those things are not as popular or as fashionable to-day as they were in the past.
I shall now deal with the question of academic freedom. The Minister for Territories has rightly stressed the fact that, when increased funds are made available to universities, the question of the control of those funds arises. Let me refer to the position in Great Britain, where university education is far more developed, and where there is a far greater experience upon which to draw. For very many years, Great Britain has had a university grants committee. I propose to quote an article by Mr. H. V. Wiseman, entitled “Parliament and the University Grants Committee “, published in the 1956 spring edition of Public Administration. We must avail ourselves of experience gained in Great Britain when approaching the question of the development of relations between the Parliament and the university. Mr. Wiseman said -
The success of the university grants committee rests fundamentally upon unwritten conventions and personal and social relations of a homogeneous community of university men in and out of the government, who share common tastes and a common outlook unmatched by any similar relationship in the United States-
And in Australia, too. Incidentally, this article was written by an American. It continues -
Attempts to formalise these relationships by administrative regulations would destroy them and leave a vacuum which bureaucracy would soon fill.
I do not wish to see such formalized relationships develop in Australia, nor do I want to see any vacuum created that bureaucracy would soon fill.
There are two aspects of the problem of the influencing of university men by those outside who control the funds. The remedy is relatively simple. Recently, a member of the Australian National University staff associated himself with a conference in Indonesia, and he was criticized in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other honorable members. It seems that the circumstances required the vice-chancellor of the university to remind the staff that they had a duty to the university which they ought to consider when associating themselves with certain kinds of political activity. If we wish to do the right thing in relation to academic freedom, it is not necessary for us to think in terms of new committees or old committees. Persons who are rather heavyhanded in politics should not become heavy-handed in relation to academic freedom. It is not necessary to form new committees in order to rectify the situation. It is worth noting that, when certain other members of the staff of the Australian National University have supported the foreign policy of the Australian Government they have not been criticized by members of the Cabinet. That is the first point that I should like to make - that the question of academic freedom is a comparatively simple matter with which to deal. Men who work in universities have a rightful field in which to work, and I do not think it is desirable that senior Ministers or other members of the Parliament should intrude too far into that field.
– The intrusion should be only from one side ?
– I do not think there should be any intrusion at all, and I suggest that the Minister for Territories, with his background, should agree with me. I think that some action must be taken in the field of university finance and development. I suggest that there is a kind of hiatus or malaise in- the development of Australian universities. I know from my own experience that there is_ an awareness of the problems that might be involved in asking for more money. University people are aware that, if they go too far in this respect, they might become involved in certain governmental controls and restrictions that might be damaging to their scope of operations. I feel that there is a great danger that the recognition of that possibility will prevent the breaking of that malaise or hiatus in university development. The pressures are not intentional ; in many ways they are hardly recognizable. But there is need for a greater freedom and scope for development in this direction than we possess at the present time. It seems to me that the suggestion made by Sir Ian Clunies-Ross, in the article to which I have referred, may very well be one that could be considered seriously as being another step in the development of this relationship. What Sir Ian Clunies-Ross suggested was that a Commonwealth commission of the highest prestige and authority ought to be set ftp to examine and define the functions, responsibilities and needs of universities, as well as to examine the financial requirements to meet those functions, responsibilities and needs. If that were done, the emphasis given by the appointment of a commission or committee of such high prestige and authority as that suggested, would, in itself, be sufficient to break down the kind of hiatus in development that I suggest exists.
It is worthwhile to notice that Sir lau Clunies-Ross was concerned not only with finance but also with the function that the university should fulfil. That function concerns a much, more rapid technicological development, a much more rapid provision of scientists and engineers and people who are needed for utilitarian purposes of that sort. It concerns also the broader concept of education and the laying down of some kind of a plan so that the universities can get away from the condition which Sir Ian Clunies-Ross has described - and which I know from my own experience to be true. He referred to the continual struggle by the majority of universities to carry on, even as they are, with the day-to-day uncertainty about whether they will be solvent tomorrow, the battle to maintain and develop post-graduate and research schools, and so on. This means that planning and financing has to be from day to day or month to month. The development of a university requires that a plan must be much more long-term than that. These are the conditions that have been forced upon so many people working inside the universities.
It has been said that the new universities developed in Great Britain are redbrick universities. In that sense, our universities are fibro-plaster. The comparison emphasizes the extent to which we have had imposed upon us by circumstances a kind of development that is essentially short term. Much has been done and the universities appreciate what has been done by goverments of all kinds to foster their development in recent years. They appreciate what has been done and draw no political line or division in that appreciation. But all is not well with the Australian universities and we must see the importance of tackling this problem. It should not be put off with the kind of relationship that exists when the representatives of the Staff Associations of Australia write to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at a time, unfortunately, close to his departure, and are unable to put their case to him in relation to this measure. We need some more formalized relations. I am well aware of the difficulties and the problems that arise in these formalized relations, but we must see to it that better is done in the future.
.- The House is indebted to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) for the fine speech that he made on this matter and, in particular, for pointing out to us that it is so important for universities to seek the truth and to teach the truth. That is the sort of thing that one is apt to forget, and, because of that, it is very important that from time to time we should be reminded of it.
It may very well be asked whether there should be a constitutional change to give this Parliament full power to make laws in regard to education. There are, of course, people who favour that view, but I doubt whether it would find acceptance in the States. It must not be forgotten that any constitutional change must have the vote of the majority of the States before it can be adopted. The States are very proud of their educational systems and I believe that, in particular, they are very proud of their universities.
We have heard much to-day which proves to us that the universities of Australia are great institutions with fine traditions. They are institutions in which much research is carried out, in which fine teaching is provided and from which students graduate with honours and with knowledge of the subjects that they have been studying, which is of value to them for the rest of their lives. It may very well be that the position under the Constitution could remain as it is now - that the Commonwealth should not have full power to deal with education hut might make grants in the way proposed under this bill. That is to say, the Commonwealth should use its power to make grants to the States and to set out the terms and conditions of those grants.
It will be noted in this bill that the financial assistance to the States is granted on certain conditions. One of those conditions is that the States are to pay an amount equivalent to that paid by the Commonwealth to the university. The other condition is in two parts; firstly, that a certain .part of the sum is to be applied by the university towards the teaching and administration costs of the residential colleges; and, secondly, that the remaining portion is applied by the university for expenditure, not being capital expenditure^ on university purposes.
When one considers whether this Parliament should give more money to the university than has been given in the past - and that was very strongly canvassed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) - one has to examine it from two points of view. There is the point of view of the university, and there is the point of view of the taxpayer. Many university pontiffs have said to me. “ We need more money “. I have met those same gentlemen on the morning after they have received their income tax assessments and they have been very down in the mouth about the amount of their tax.
As this money comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers, it is the duty of this Parliament to watch very carefully how much is spent on universities. It is not a direct obligation of this Parliament; it is an obligation that we are entitled to take upon ourselves, but not an obligation that we are bound to accept. In other words, we must exercise due and proper judgment in this matter. In exercising that due and proper judgment, we must remember the worthy purposes of a university. We must remember that the needs of a university are very great indeed and that we should do our utmost to see that those needs are fulfilled so that a university may accomplish what it desires to accomplish. That, of course, will become more and more important as the years pass. It is quite likely that the grant now being made to the universities will increase in the future.
It is appropriate that I mention the point of view of the student. One of the great periods of his life is spent at a university. It is a period when he begins to realize that he has ceased to be a mere boy, that he has become a man, that he is spreading forth his wings, as it were, and that he is beginning to appreciate to the full the life that is unfolding before him. Any one who undertakes a university course, either here or in England, must appreciate the wonderful life that students lead. Not only are they beginning to live a full life, but they are also acquiring a great deal of knowledge which they will never forget. They are acquiring an educational background, than which nothing is more valuable in this life.
We must also consider the matter of scientific knowledge. The question often arises whether our universities should concentrate on research or teaching. Professors in a teaching university are sometimes inclined to resent the fact that they have to spend so much time in teaching when they would prefer to spend a large part of their time in research. That is one of the problems that will have to be considered in the future, and we may have to decide to what extent a teaching professor should spend his time in research, or whether, if he prefers research, he should go to a purely research university.
Another question that arises is whether our universities are making sufficient provision for the requirements of the community, particularly with regard to what may be called the professional ‘ courses. It is quite evident that, in the future, there will be a shortage of professional men in Australia. That, shortage will occur in most, if not all, of the professions. Some universities have introduced what they call a quota system, under which the numbers of students in certain faculties have been reduced. That is an extremely controversial practice. The universities that have adopted that system contend that they are unable to teach any more than the number provided in the quota. It may be that if they were a little more painstaking, or exerted a little greater effort, they could take more students. On the other hand, it has been said on their behalf that if they tried to teach more students their own staffs would break down through overwork.
The whole subject is most controversial, and I do not think that any good purpose is served by expressing firm opinions in favour of one view or the other. However, the quota system has undoubtedly been introduced largely because there has been in the past a shortage of money for the provision of more buildings and staff. As a consequence, professional men are scarce in Australia to-day, and there is likely to be an even greater scarcity in the future. That is one of the matters that must concern this Parliament when it decides how much money we should provide for the universities. As I said earlier, there can be no question that in the years to come our grants to the universities must be considerably increased.
Other questions arise in regard to our Universities. There is the question, for instance, of whether their courses are excessively academic, and not sufficiently practical. That, again, is a matter upon which much controversy can arise. Of course, the professors insist that they are right, and that their courses are more or le3s perfect. It is often very difficult for them to realize that changes should be made. They frequently say that they cram as much into a course as they possibly can, and that the trouble lies in the fact that the time allowed for the course is too short. Those taking the contrary view, on the other hand, assert that the courses are too long, and that they cram too much into them.
It has been suggested in the course of the debate that a commission should be established to examine the general position regarding our universities. If such a commission were established, it should be given power to consider far more than financial questions; it should have power to consider matters of general importance to the universities. It would be of the utmost importance to appoint as members of the commission representatives of various sections of the community, so that it would not become merely a university commission in the sense that it would consist wholly of chancellors and professors. It should be established on a very wide basis. I do not suggest for one moment that the universities should not be properly represented on the commission. No doubt, the members of the commission who represented the universities could contribute very valuable information. It should not, however, be so constituted that the universities would simply be acting as judges in their own cause. If that were so, the eventual report of the commission could hardly be regarded as satisfactory.
This is legislation of a kind which has been enacted over a number of years, which has always won the approval of this House, and which is likely to be reenacted in years to come.
.- The bill before the House represents a recognition by the Government of the needs of the universities, and I congratulate the Government on the measure. It is a recognition of the incapacity of the States adequately to finance the universities, and I think it is also a recognition of a social revolution that has taken place in this country. The social revolution to which I refer is that which came about when persons were no longer earning incomes of sufficient size to allow them to make private endowments to universities. “When one inspects the universities of Australia, one sees halls or libraries or other institutions which bear the names of private benefactors, such as Sir Hector Bonython or T. E. BarrSmith, in Adelaide, or Sir Winthorp Hackett, in Perth. One realizes immediately that those men made their fortunes before 1910, before “World War I. introduced the modern level of taxation which has, at least in Australia, dried up the flow of private endowments. It is true that some companies make endowments from time to time but, by and large, the business community in Australia assumes very little responsibility for the universities, by comparison with the businessmen of the United States of America. I think that the explanation is quite simple.
It appears to me that the speeches that have been made in this debate indicates that the honorable members who have spoken all subscribe to the British tradition qf universities, under which universities are places for the cultivation of intellectual excellence. The universities of the United States of America have rather a different function in the community. Certainly, there are some universities in America of the kind that are found in Britain, but Americans have unconsciously arrived at the point of view that there should be a special kind of university education, leading to the acquisition of a degree that is not really the reflection of a high level of academic excellence. Many of the colleges of the United States of America might be said to have a first-year study standard equivalent to that of our last year of high school. I do not say, of course, that such universities at Princeton and Harvard are in that category, but it is a fact that America has many of what might be called middle-level universities. That has led to a vast section of the American community appreciating university education, and appreciating research. It has resulted in the formation of a business community that is prepared, year after year, to pour millions and millions of dollars in endowments into all sorts of universities, research projects and other studies in ail parts of the United States of America. I do not think that we will see again private fortunes leading to such endowments as were made by the late Sir Winthrop Hackett, Sir Lavington Bonython and T. E. Barr-Smith. Therefore, the Commonwealth Parliaments of the future are likely to have to repeat this kind of legislation. I would say that education is that development of personality which goes on as a result of an individual’s learning. Personality is the sum-total of an individual’s aptitudes and attitudes. Technical education may be said to be the training of aptitudes. The development of attitudes is always a more difficult matter. Technical education is instantly appreciated because the products of the aptitudes that have been developed are there before us, physically. The question of attitudes is much more subtle and, basically, universities will be judged on the type of attitudes that they produce in their students.
I have been in this Parliament for more than ten years now, and can think of a lot of members of Parliament who have * university education, and a lot who have not. If a university education of a cultural type, which involves dealing with attitudes, is effective, it ought to have been apparent to me during those ten years that the men who had a university education brought to bear on the problems before this Parliament qualities which were available; qualities which should give some indication as to whether a university education is worth while.
There is far too great a tendency on the part of those who’ bombard this Parliament with requests for more finance for universities to assume that it is axiomatic that those institutions should get a higher proportion of the nation’s resources. That is very much open to question. For instance, the technical faculties of the Australian National University are magnificently efficient, but it is extremely doubtful whether the Australian community has yet received from the non-technical faculties, in research or in publications, anything which shows a quality of thinking that contributes something new to the national life, or to the clarification of the thinking of this Parliament or the Government. If the universities are doing that they are contributing something that is extremely valuable. If they are not, they do nol deserve to be appreciated by the community. I am not saying that a new institution like the Australian National University can be judged offhand immediately. I am merely making that point in order to argue that it is up to the universities, especially in those faculties which might be said to be primarily contributing a quality of thinking to the community, to show that they can produce results.
I may be making a very rash statement when I say that, over the last ten years, the members of Parliament on both sides who have had a university education, by and large, have been freer than are most members from that feature of this Parliament which makes the listener to broadcasts so sick - the practice of not dealing with a man’s arguments but, instead, defaming him. Generally speaking, I would say that the university men in this Parliament have attempted to deal with the issues before them without resort to personal abuse. To that extent they have contributed to clarity of thinking on the issues before this House. I would say that that is one up for the universities. If they can, in the civil service, in the Parliament and everywhere where decisions are made, produce an attitude of mind that tries to arrive at the facts, and that is suspicious of its own self-interest and will try to brush it aside to give a decision warranted by the facts, the universities will have been worth while.
The humanities are, of course, the faculties at the universities which are trying to produce these attitudes. Basically, I should say that the test of culture is how you treat people. I understand that the late Hermann Goering appreciated art to an advanced extent, and even went to some pains to collect the art treasures of Europe. I understand also that, with Heinrich Himmler, he appreciated Beethoven’s sonatas. I do not know that the culture of these gentlement was “much good to the world. The thing that the world will remember about them is the way in which they treated people. Ultimately, if the universities are to produce cultured people they must’ produce people who, by honesty of mind and other qualities, will solve the problems of mankind and not use their qualifications to ensure their own personal victories at the expense of the community. I would say that this last was the leading characteristic of the two late gentlemen whom I have just mentioned.
The universities are facing the problem of rising costs. I have been for ten and a half years on the interim council, and the council, of the Australian National University. I remember that in 1946 we had before us the question of approving certain plans for buildings which it was estimated would cost £340,000. Eventually, they cost more than £900,000. The plans had not been altered, but building costs had risen in the interim. Of course, universities are hit very heavily indeed by such rises. The Commonwealth has been drawn more and more into the field of university education because of the effect on the universities of inflation, and because the technical faculties are becoming so important. I do not know whether the information that I received was accurate, but when I asked an honorable member who knew a great deal about the “Woomera rocket range, whether there were many air force, army and naval personnel there, he said, “ Certainly not. Most of them are scientists “. I said, “ I mean the men firing the weapons and so” on ‘’. He said, “ Yes, they ,are scientists “. In the modern world defence has become an absolutely scientific matter. The handling of even the initial stages of weapon operation requires scientific assistance. There is no doubt that our present great concern about the lack of engineers and scientists is comparative with what we have been told about the enormous numbers of engineers and scientists who are being turned out by the Soviet Union, which we envisage as a possible enemy. Education, like many other fields of our social life, is now being discussed competitively with Russia, and I take it that that was what the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) meant when he said that concern about technical education was one of the characteristics of the cold war. There is no doubt that, for that reason, technical studies will be assisted more and more. I do not think that they need fear for their future.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) spoke about the size of classes and the teaching load. Every university in Australia, except the Australian National University, has that problem, but I feel that one answer to the increasing size of student bodies is to build more universities rather than to extend existing universities. About 1946, the late Professor Cotton took me through the medical school at Sydney University in order to show me the overcrowding of classrooms and laboratories. It was a very big building, but very old. The universities of Australia, except the Australian National University, the University of Western Australia and the New South Wales University of Technology, are large buildings that were constructed 100 or 80 years ago. We never sufficiently appreciate how those small communities put up magnificent public buildings which, in relation to their resources in those days, must have required immense contributions. Those same university buildings are now housing student bodies three or four times larger than those originally housed. I remember that before the war, when the University of Western Australia had a student body of about 1,000 - I think it has more than 3,500 students at the present tin:>’ - it was an extremely pleasant place to be. I rather wonder whether a university with 15,000 students or, like the University of Southern California, with 100,000 students is, in fact, a true university at all and whether it would not be better to have a number of them.
The University of Technology in Sydney, which seems to me to be quite wrongly named, is at least a university that has been established separately from the Sydney University. It should, in my opinion, be called an institute of technology. After all, the term “ university “ implies that people are studying in all disciplines - that it is a place where all disciplines are available. How it is possible to have a university of technology when technology is not a universal set of disciplines I do not know. The name is a contradiction in terms and, in the United States of America, such an organization is called an institute. But the principle that underlies the University of Technology, insofar as more students were not just slapped into the engineering faculty of Sydney University or more buildings built there, but that a separate institution was established, seems to be a sound one.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) in laying the foundations of the University of New England some years ago, appeared to me to adopt the right approach to this problem of the overcrowding of universities. It would be a good thing if, instead of continuing to crowd more and more students into universities such as the universities of Sydney and Melbourne the accommodation of which is already overtaxed, we gave some consideration to establishing new ones in centres away from the capital cities where they could perform a useful function.
I have mentioned the ending of private endowment as one of the factors making difficult the problem of university finance. T wonder whether it would be possible for the Commonwealth or the States to enter the field of university endowment. Each year we make a grant. It is a grant of income. Tt is not a grant which enables the university trustees to n=e their wisdom as to where they would invest money to get the best return for their university. I know that the Australian community has enormous problems before it in the rehabilitation of the railways and roads and I know also that it has tremendous developmental problems; but it would not be a bad thing if, from time to time, we could find £1,000,000 or so for the universities, divide it among them according to some formula, and leave them the discretion of investing that money and earning an income from it and, over a period of time, building up their endowment. I think that it would give them a great deal more independence than they have. I think it would stop this perpetual work of a near-political character in which vice-chancellors are forced to engage at’ the present time. In Western Australia, for instance, they are arguing whether the State government is being sufficiently generous in the matter of the salaries which it allows in its grant for professors and lecturers at the University of Western Australia.
– They got a rise last week.
– I noticed that they got a rise. It is rather a pity that great Australian enterprises such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited which do make handsome contributions to technical education have always kept those contributions under their own control, setting up their own technical schools, because technical advances will, to a very large extent, be based upon the general research which is carried out in the universities, not with an immediate bearing on some technical problem of manufacture, but with a bearing on establishing a general truth.
I think that the Australian universities, by and large, have established for themselves quite a good reputation in the world. When one goes as a member of Parliament to have discussions with leading civil servants, in Canberra for instance, many of whom are the products of universities, one finds in them a genuine concern about the welfare of the nation and a quality of mind being brought to bear on the problems of the nation which inspires confidence. I feel that this is a testimony to the .contribution which the Australian universities have made to the science of government in this , cOuntry. I .congratulate the G*vernment on the adjustment which it has made in the university grants and X. particularly commend to the Government the possibility pf making future endow? ments to universities.
– It is welcome, although I think in this case it is npt surprising, that we find unanimity on all sides regarding this bill and a uniform desire to support it. Because that is so, we are not so much debating the bill itself as follow. ing down the side issues which have been suggested by its introduction. I myself am happy and proud to join with honorable members on both sides of the House in stressing the importance of university education, and the valuable and essential nature of the work that universities do, and in commending the intellectual freedom which we believe is, and should remain, a characteristic feature of university education and life.
Our universities are, generally speaking and with one notable exception, State institutions. Here, we find the Commonwealth making a grant-rin-aid for their maintenance. I believe that it a right and a proper thing to do. I support it. I think the Government is to be commended. But I do feel that there are some different considerations in regard to this matter from those which obtain in regard to other matters in connexion with which the Commonwealth uses its appropriation power to invade a field which properly and primarily belongs to the States. I think, in general, that process, although it is to be commended in this case, is to be deprecated.
I believe that, in general, it is better that the responsibility of finding funds should be borne by the same authority that has the power of allocating and spending them. But in this case, J, think that a different principle can be invoke^. It is basic to the universities, that, they should be as free as possible and beholden to as few as possible,, They should. no_t. come directly under the control of any government, whether it be State or federal, and I (think .that it is a good thing, .and it increases their independence, if we can separate the sources from which they get their financial support It has been a characteristic, of course, of British freedom that it has depended upon this division of functions’ and powers. If we have universities which are dependent mainly on a single body, the State, for their needs in excess of what they receive from their student fees and from bequests, those universities are likely to come more under the control of one particular government or ene particular parliament than if the university drew part of its sustenance from two separate parliaments. So I feel that the very condition which makes it generally undesirable that the Commonwealth’s appropriation powers should be used to invade new fields, works in reverse in this instance. In order to assure the universities of the greatest degree of independence, there is something to be said for the division of the source of their revenue between the two governments. I mention merely in passing that we do not want this position in regard to the universities to derive from the situation where the States have insufficientresources to maintain their proper services. That is an entirely separate question, and I think that many honorable members agree with me that, in that regard, some adjustment should be made, and made before very long.
The universities in Australia are meeting a crisis in numbers. As honorable members will recall, they met a crisis in numbers immediately after the war, when the bank-up of persons of normal university age coming out of the services swelled their numbers for a few years after peace was declared. They are now about to meet another swellingof numbers, by reason of the. increase in the age groups which are now qualifying- for the university. This increase has come upon our primary schools. It iscoming up through our secondary schools^ and if we look from a demographer’s point of view at the various-, age groups we see that this is quite a steep increase,, and it is. now coming into-, the university range. The universities,. therefore, will have to expand the number of their students in the near future, and that will require quite considerable increases in real revenue beyond what may be occasioned by any increase in the general level of. costs.
In addition - and I think this has been mentioned by honorable members on both sides in the earlier part of this debate - the universities are meeting a new responsibility with new technology. With the coming of automation and new techniques, the maintenance and improvement of living standards must require that a greater number, and a greater proportion, of the people have technical ability, and although some of that technical ability will lie below the level of normal university education, much of it will lie above that level. We shall need more technical graduates if we are to improve our living standard ; but I think that honorable members on both sides have rightly stressed the view that the university is not merely a technical college, and that the mechanical side must not be given a position of superiority over the humanities.
I believe that the House is recognizing that universities can perform in the community a function which is essential, and which no other institution can duplicate. I agree with the contention of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that it is much better for us to increase the number of our universities than to increase over-much the size of existing universities. There comes a time when the institution is too big to be personal, when the mere weight of numbers crushes individuality, at least to a very large extent, and when a big institution cannot give the same opportunities to its students that a smaller institution can give. I know that there is a balance. One does not want the institutions to be too small. It is very difficult to decide what is the best size. I think that it depends very largely upon circumstances.
Here, again, I find myself in agreement with the contention of the honorable member for Fremantle that we should be looking to the foundations of new universities, and I hope that many of them will be, at least to large extent, residential universities. A residential university can give something that cannot, I believe, be given by a university where a majority of students come in by the day. I should have liked to see in the schedule to this bill a greater recognition of that basic fact. Honorable members on both sides have, I think rightly, pointed out that a research university cannot be altogether healthy if divorced from the teaching function. One does not want the really top-flight researchers to be impeded by routine duties, but nevertheless, even the top-flight researcher is likely to become sterile if n6t brought into constant contact with new and developing minds by exercising the teaching function. This, I think, is particularly true of the humanities. This association of research on teaching could be. I believe, one of the best ways of promoting both research and scholarship. This has a bearing on the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle, namely, that the work done on the humanities in the Australian National University has lagged behind the work done on the physical side. It is particularly in the realm of the humanities that the lack of students may be expected to impair the efficiency of the teachers.
– But even on the other side, it is frequently found that the most valuable research is done by teams of twenty or more undergraduates.
– I quite agree with that. I think that this tendency operates both in the sciences and in the humanities. I think that it operates perhaps more in the humanities than in the sciences, but I am not trying to say for one moment that it does not operate also in the sciences.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) mentioned the financial standards of our universities, which, I suppose, must be correlated with the standards of efficiency, although the correlation cannot be exact. The Australian universities are not -well endowed, and the ratio between students and staff is, I think, unduly high. A university education requires a tutorial system, and this brings me back to my earlier contention that there is a great deal to be said in favour of residential universities. I suppose it is correct to say that our Australian universities are by no means so well endowed as the overseas universities are. It may be that, because we are a new country in which because taxation is high, fortunes cannot now be made, our universities will continue to be meagrely endowed. If that is so, it would be a good thing for governments .to look on their grants for university purposes not as year-to-year appropriations, but as special appropriations to stand for a number of years, and perhaps to be adjusted in accordance with changes in the cost of living and the requirements of special expansions of activity. I should like to see a basic permanent grant which could perhaps be supplemented by other grants.
I think we could ask our universities to spend their money and to use their resources, both financial and human, to the best advantage. Australia has done some very significant things, especially in the field of science. One thinks of the generally admitted excellence of our medical schools, and of the fact that some of the greatest virus authorities in the world are in Australia. We regret that some of our most distinguished graduates have gone abroad to do the work that has brought them world fame. I hope this will not continue. There are already promising signs that it will not. In the most significant field of radio astronomy, in which the frontiers of man’s knowledge ave being extended, Australia is taking a leading part. May I mention that the University of Sydney has recently embarked upon the establishment of a chair of Australian literature, a project which, I think, will commend itself to all honorable members, because the integrity of a nation’s outlook depends upon its having its own national literature and store of literary traditions. I am sure honorable members on both sides of the House will join with me in wishing this venture of the University of Sydney we
I conclude by repeating that a university is. perhaps, ‘the one place, par excellence, where freedom is basic, and where intellectual freedom should he given the widest possible range. However, even in the university, we meet the logical difficulty that faces every other organization : What does one do about the freedom demanded by the organized gangs which destroy other people’s freedom? There we have a logical contradiction, which I put to the House. It has never been resolved, and I am afraid it is unresolvable, except by the maintenance of some point of external references.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
. -The bill makes’ provision for the payment to the various State universities of £2,000,000 for what the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) described earlier as a grant-in-aid. Basically, the responsibility for providing finance for Australian universities, other than the Australian National University, is a responsibility of the States. They provide about two-thirds of the finance necessary for the upkeep of universities throughout Australia.
Grants-in-aid are very difficult to administer, because they involve the delicate question of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the Spates. Although, under the Constitution, the States are responsible for providing finance for university education and for education generally, they are, as we all know, dependent upon the Commonwealth for the bulk of their revenue. I suggest that, until we get a more definite pattern of agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, certain difficulties will always be associated with the device of the grant-in-aid.
While present conditions exist, I suggest that the States should be given enough money to enable them to finance all their activities, and that’ it should bo left to them to provide adequate finance for our universities. But the States arp dissatisfied with the grants that are made to them under the tax reimbursement scheme, and many State activities, including education, health, law and universities, are languishing because of a shortage of funds.
So far - I suggest that we have been fortunate in this - the Commonwealth has not attached any strings to the grants that it has made to universities. It ha? not insisted, for instance, that the University of Melbourne should concentrate on science and that the University of Sydney should concentrate on medicine, [t has left the universities free to determine the pattern of their development. [ submit that that is the procedure that should be followed for so long as we operate under a federal system. We on this side of the House believe that, for the better government of Australia, ultimately there will have to be a considerable shift of constitutional powers, possibly from the States to the Commonwealth. But the powers should pass consistently. They should pass by means of agreement with the States, or by alterations of the Constitution. We should not have to use this hole-in-the-corner method of grants-in-aid.
Section 96 of the Constitution, which was referred to earlier by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), does give the Commonwealth Parliament broad power to make grants to the States for specific purposes. The grants that we are considering now are made under the terms of that section of the Constitution, as are the grants made to what are called the claimant States by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The present position highlights the very real difficulties that face the States to-day. One of those difficulties is a form of financial starvation on the margin of their activities. Universities are a case in point. Surely the financial system of this country ought not to be so delicately poised, as it were, that the State universities are forced to come to the Commonwealth and say, “ We cannot carry on our essential activities without a grant of £2,000,000 “. This is only one example of the many marginal difficulties that beset the States.
As has been stated from time to time in the debates on the annual reports of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, Commonwealth bodies of that kind, in effect, can control the policy of various State instrumentalities, because they hold the purse-strings. So far, the Commonwealth has not used its power to make grants-in-aid to universities as a means of dictating the kind of activities in which State universities should engage. The honorable member for Mackellar appears to believe that the fact that both the Commonwealth and the States are responsible, to some degree, for university finance makes tyrannical government control of universities less possible. I do not know whether he intends to imply that the Australian National University - with which I think he is very familiar - because it is beholden only to one government, is experiencing that kind of difficulty.
I hope that this Government, controlling the national purse, does not say to the Australian National University, “ We shall not give you financial assistance unless you engage in certain activities, curtail certain activities, or curb the conduct of certain people on the staff “. I do not think that that kind of thing has occurred openly as yet, although there are vague rumours circulating in Canberra to the effect that from time to time there are attempts to curb the freedom of expression of members of the staff of the Australian National University. If that were so, it would be a sad thing for academic freedom throughout Australia. If the first blow were struck, even if it were limited to the national capital, academic freedom throughout the Commonwealth would be in jeopardy.
– Can the honorable gentleman give a. specific instance ?
– In matters of this kind, all that we have sometimes is an atmosphere of rumour. I am not making specific charges, but the fact that these things are spoken of quite freely among the citizens of Canberra, who mix one with the other, indicates that all is not well as far as academic fredom is concerned. I have not had any connexion with the administration of universities. My association with universities has been as a student - not as a residential student, which some people appear to regard as the ideal pattern. It may be the ideal pattern for some stage in the future, but certainly it will not be the fairest pattern until considerable adjustments of the economic stratification of the community have been made. My experience is that from time to time the suggestion is made that the appointment of certain people to academic positions in the Australian
National University is prejudiced because some people believe that they hold certain political views. I suggest that when that kind of thing is occurring it is serious indeed.
– If it is occurring.
– “Well, if it is occurring; but, as you say, sometimes rumour has been persistent, persistent enough, I suggest, to lead to the suspicion - where there is even a little smoke there is some fire - that there is some justification for the rumours. “We on this side of the House are sometimes grouped with certain academic people to whom the term “leftist” has been applied because they have acted or spoken in some direction contrary to the views of the government of the day. But the term “leftist” is often applied to a member of the Labour party. In some of our universities, not only the Australian National University but also some of the State universities, people are being prejudiced to-day because of the political views they hold. I submit that, if any academic appointee attempts to indoctrinate his students, then perhaps the university authorities ought to act; but they ought not to act, in advance, on the kind of information that is sometimes surreptitiously given to them that such and such a person may be a dangerous man, or may corrupt the youth of the community should he be appointed to a university post.
This afternoon there was considerable discussion on academic freedom and the role that universities should play in the future, as well as the role that they have played in the past. I submit that anybody who has studied closely the role of the university in the community in the past knows that people in academic circles, who have been outspoken, and often unpopular, in their day have sometimes been the bearers of culture, as it were, for the future, and have often been the ones who have been responsible for change, and beneficial change, in the future. Once the power of the purse, or power of appointment, is used in any way to threaten the academic freedom of any individual t’*en, as I said earlier, it is a dangerous thing.
Recently, I noticed in the stop press column of a Melbourne newspaper a report that Professor Sir Howard Florey, who has played such an important part in the preservation of life in this community, had resigned as a member of the staff of the Australian National University. If I recollect aright, it was stated at the time that he had resigned because he was carrying on work at Oxford and wanted to devote himself to studies there. But again, ugly rumour in Canberra suggested that he had resigned for entirely different reasons - in fact, because he felt that the academic freedom both of himself and others in Australia, and particularly of people in the Australian National University, was being threatened. I have no definite proof of the truth of these rumours, but I say that they are more than persistent, and I suggest that some close examination ought to be given to this situation.
Recently a royal commission inquired into the administration of the University of Tasmania. The commission was the result of discontent, some of it economic because of the inadequacy of salaries and some of it academic on the question of freedom. But at least in Tasmania a judicial inquiry was held, and an opportunity was given to the aggrieved parties to state their cases. As I said earlier, in this Commonwealth of ours, university education is basically and primarily a State matter. By and large we have something like 100 years of academic integrity behind us in this community and we may very well be proud of the record of our various State universities. The University of Melbourne is celebrating its centenary this year.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) at the close of his remarks this afternoon, agreed that academic freedom needed to be protected but he said, rather veiledly, that sometimes we have to exert ourselves in the name of freedom against people who challenge the very name of freedom itself. But, again, he was not very specific. I suggest that there we have at any rate the kind of atmosphere that surrounds statements made by academic people in our community. Sometimes opinions are uttered, and have to be uttered, by academic people, which might be contrary to the views of the government of the day, or hurt that government. But -when a government attempts in any way to infringe on, or to abridge, that freedom of expression, something has to he done to halt it. Recently, we had certain economists, who are academic people, issuing an economic statement in which they suggested certain remedies that ought to be taken for the welfare of the community. We should not resent the fact that this kind of opinion was given, and that this kind of criticism was made. On the economic plane, of course, at least the opinions expressed are often subject to challenge and to a certain amount of debate as to the fundamentals of the opinions. Nevertheless, we should welcome the fact that academic people in our midst, whether they be economists or people concerned with international affairs, or people in schools or political philosophy or of philosophy generally, utter opinions. Although these opinions may at the time appear contrary to what is currently accepted, we should at least welcome frank expression of opinion, and make no attempt to hinder it.
In conclusion, I come back to the point at which I started, which is that, in this financial measure, is again highlighted a marginal difficulty that besets the whole of our federal system to-day. We have a system under which this Government has been chided by a committee of its own creation in regard to expenditure on defence, the committee having Stated that £9,000,000 was expended which need not have been expended. That raises the thought that if that sum of £9,000,000 had been made available to the States it could have been spent on such things as education generally, or adult education, library development, better health facilities or in such other ways as the States decided to expend it.
– That is not in issue under this bill.
– Well, I shall come back to the bill. I submit merely that the fact that an additional £2,000,000 has Deen sought by the universities is indicative that the States as a whole are not getting sufficient revenue, because it is well known that essential services, universities in particular, are languishing ir. the States because of the inadequacy of the revenue available to them.
.- It is nice to know that all parties in the House, and all members of the House, support this bill. Before I continue in rather more general terms about some of the matters covered by the bill I should like to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), as well as those of some other honorable members, on the subject of academic freedom. I think that we are all sometimes inclined to talk about academic freedom without pausing to think quite what we mean by the term. Whilst I do not apply the description I am about to use to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I think that we are sometimes prone to talk about academic freedom with some degree of priggishness. After all, what do we mean by academic freedom? I would say that academic freedom is only a part of the freedom in which we all believe and which we all enjoy. Perhaps it means a little more than that to persons who are on the staffs of universities, who are students, or who are doing research. Perhaps it means that they are free to investigate the thoughts, the history, the views, and the ideas of people of the past as well as those of the present - to express their views about them, to discuss them, and, as it were, to make an investigation of the minds of people of all age3.
Let me refer to the specific incident that was mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra, namely, that a member of the staff of the Australian National University attended a conference outside this country and later expressed certain views about it. Perhaps I have a little more knowledge of this matter than has the honorable member. My understanding of the situation is that exception was taken to what he did in the sense, not that he was there or that he expressed certain views, but that he conveyed the impression that they were the views of the Australian National University.
– Mr. Fitzgerald never even suggested that. He expressed his own view.
– The right honorable gentleman interjects, but I happen to know something about the matter.
– So do I.
– I repeat that that was the only matter to which exception was taken. Not only is it a question of academic freedom; members of university staffs also have certain responsibilities. I suggest to the House that we should consider that aspect of the matter too. I am sorry that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has given to the House the impression that positions at the Australian National University are prejudiced because of views that are held by persons who either occupy those positions or seek them. Again, I say that I have some knowledge, and, with respect, perhaps, even more than has the honorable gentleman, about this matter, and I deny that suggestion. I think it would be a great pity if the House were to gain the impression that that is the manner in which the council of the National University manages its affairs. If I may use a stronger word, I say that I think it is deplorable that the name of a very great Australian scientist should have been introduced into this debate in such a way as to suggest that it was for that reason that he severed bis long connexion with the Australian National University. I should like to assure the honorable gentleman and the House that that was not so.
– Does the Minister say that seriously ?
– That is, Sir Howard Florey ?
– I say that it is substantially true that he resigned for that reason.
– I say that it is not substantially true.
– Well, produce his report.
– It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to interrupt like that, but again I say that I have knowledge of this matter, and that I think it is a great pity that the name of this very eminent gentleman should have been introduced into this debate in this way and that the position should be aggravated by the interjections of the right honorable gentleman.
– It was aggravated by the Minister’s assertions.
– Order I
– I shall now say something about the provisions made under this bill. The bill covers provisions only for the universities of the States; but we should not forget that the Government, in addition to providing, in the terms of this bill, £2,000,000 for the State universities, also provided in the last financial year, under other legislation, £812,000 for the running expenses of the Australian National University and £874,000 for capital expenditure. Therefore, Commonwealth expenditure in a financial year for university education in Australia is very considerable.
Although the Australian National University is purely a research institution, we must not get the idea that we can divorce research entirely from the other universities, that we can concentrate it either in the Australian National University or similar institutions, and that it is not necessary to conduct research in the teaching universities also. By way of illustration, let me refer to the medical schools of the teaching universities. If the standard of medicine is to be advanced or even maintained, it is most important that research should be conducted in the teaching universities in connexion with such institutions as the schools of physiology, the schools of pathology, and the teaching hospitals to which students go to complete their courses. Tt is not possible for us to maintain or to advance adequate standards in medicine or. I believe, in other scientific discipline* unless the States and the Commonwealth are prepared to provide sufficient finance to the universities to carry on adequate research in order to reinforce and to supplement the teaching that is given. I have no doubt, as I have indicated, that it is necessary in relation to the other scientific faculties, and certainly in relation to the humanities as well.
Although it has been stated on several occasions during this debate that in this age we can no longer look for benefactions or endowments to the universities from private sources, I should like to support honorable members who have expressed the hope that perhaps we might be able to look to such industries as the pastoral industry or to such organizations as Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited for such benefactions. “Why should we not be able to attract suitable endowments from such industries? Of course, in a sense, private endowments are still received. That is to be seen in the money that is provided by the various churches for the building of university colleges. Although, perhaps, they are endowments only in the sense that they make a great contribution to university life, the colleges that have been erected are not merely halls of residence. I am sure that any honorable member who has been fortunate enough to pass all or part of his undergraduate life in a. well run university college will agree that, not only were the years he spent there some of the most pleasant and important years of his life, but also that the colleges separately and. as a whole have a great impact and make a great contribution towards the corporate life of universities.
In the changing society in which we live to-day, there is need for the encouragement of university education. It is hardly necessary to refer to what has been stated already during this debate about the need for technical education, but I should like to make some reference to what was said by my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), about the mistake of looking at university education as being merely vocational training. It would be a great pity if we were to regard universities in that light. There is, of course, ample scope in them for technical training and for vocational training in the professions. *It is essential that they should provide the best facilities and training, that they should attract the best teachers, that they should attract not only our own graduates but also graduates and teachers from abroad, and that they should be able to maintain a standard of technical training and of general scholarship that not only will attract teachers and lecturers from abroad but will also ensure that we are able to produce graduates of such a calibre that they would be welcome and easily able to obtain positions in universities in other parts of the world.
I hope that we shall also keep in mind the fact that universities do not cater only for the scientific professions. . I hope that we shall be ready to provide funds for them as homes of learning and of scholarship for its own sake, and that we will not adopt the attitude of some persons who ask, “What is the use of such and such a faculty? What does it. fit one for? What sort of living can one earn after he has taken a degree in it?” Non-scientific faculties will fit us for a better understanding of life, for a better enjoyment of living, and for a fuller, better and more satisfying life. Even if we are to pursue in our universities some disciplines merely for the sake of the knowledge they contain, for the learning they give us and for the. understanding of the past, and through that of the present, then it will be well worth spending the money which the Commonwealth and the States are providing.
There was a time when governments had very little to do with the provision of learning or of scholarship, except perhaps through the patronage of princes. Those days have, gone altogether. I like to think that we are carrying on the tradition of that patronage by extending freely - not in the financial sense as freely as we should like, but in other senses quite freely - the funds made available to universities. That is what this bill does. It provides money only for their current expenses, but it provides, quite a large sum. Taken in conjunction with the money provided under another act for the Australian National University, it adds up to quite a great deal for the provision of higher education. I am glad that all of us in this House are able to support the bill.
.- The Opposition applauds this bill insofar as it increases the amount payable by the Commonwealth to the State governments for the purposes of their universities from a maximum of £1,7,00,000 to a maximum of £2,000,000. The Acting Prime Minister (‘Sir Arthur Fadden) estimated that the expenditure in this calendar year will be £1,900,000. That takes no account, of course, of the expenditure of something less than £900,000 a year which this Parliament gives to the Australian National University and another sum of something less than £100,000 a year which it gives to the Canberra University College.
I should like to make a few suggestions in connexion with future bills on this subject. There will, undoubtedly, be future bills because this is already the fourth bill which the Menzies Government has passed, during its six . and a half years of office, to continue to the universities in the States the assistance which was first made available by Mr. Dedman under the Chifley Administration. There was a 1951 act, a 1953 act and a 1955 act.
The first criticism one must make is that this Government’s provision for the State universities has been spasmodic. It is perhaps notable that the four bills that I have mentioned have all been introduced in the dying hours of the parliamentary session. The 1951 bill was taken through all stages in the early morning of the last day upon which Parliament set in 1951. The 1953 bill was taken through all stages during the early morning session which concluded at twenty minutes past five the same morning! The 1955 bill was passed through all stages in the last week of the session. The present bill, of course, is debated on the last night of this session - the longest night of the year. I suppose there is a certain appropriateness in our dealing with a universities bill in such circumstances, because notoriously people at universities burn the midnight oil or alternatively have end-of-term parties.
The next criticism which one can make’ is that this grant is conditional. I am not referring at this stage to the aspect arising from the speech of the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), and the interjections, which he deflected during his speech, concerning grants to universities being made conditional on the good behaviour of the staff of those universities, and in particular, on condition, that the staff in the science faculties, especially the physical sciences, or in the social services faculties such as economics,, political science and so on, will not overstep the bounds of prudence, decorum or political good behaviour.
There have been examples on the Government side in recent years when thebehaviour of people on the staffs of theCommonwealth universities in Canberra - the National University and the University College - have been called in question. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), as he now is, in his early days - his salad days - in thisParliament questioned the appropriateness of appointing a socialist to the Chair of Economics. The Prime Minister, to> his credit, rebuffed the implied suggestion. Only a couple of years ago, the honorablemember for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the former honorable member for Henty, Mr. Gullett, brought up on the motion for the adjournment the appropriateness of a statement, which was made on subjects with which they were well acquainted, by a professor in the Canberra University College and two professors in the Australian National University.
The attacks on the academic freedom of those four professors who live and. work in the national capital, emanated in the last four or five years from the Government side of the House. I said? that the Prime Minister rebuked the first” suggestion. On the second occasion, whenthree professors were under fire, not only did no member of the Ministry rebuke theGovernment backbenchers who introduced1 the subject, but the Minister for External’ Affairs (Mr. Casey), who can never resist an opportunity to look through hi.ilorgnette at us and lecture us on political’ rectitude, joined the attack. He not onlycondoned but also supported the attack on academic freedom.
When I criticize the attitude of the Government towards assistance to State universities on the ground that it is too conditional, I refer rather to the fact that all the grants under this bill are made conditional on the State universities receiving specified sums from State grants and from fees. A disturbing feature is that there have been many cases in the last few years when the universities have not qualified for the maximum grants specified in the act. In other words, they have not been able to consume the carrot dangled before them. Let me cite some cases.
In .1954, the University of Sydney, which was entitled to a maximum grant of £472,000 under the 1953 act, qualified for only £391,000. The University of Melbourne, which could have obtained a maximum grant of £385,000, was able to qualify for a grant of only £360,000. Last year the University of Sydney, which under the 1955 act was eligible for a maximum grant of £493,000, was able to qualify for a grant of only £440,000. The short-fall of the University of Sydney last year of £53,000 could have been made up only if the university had received three times that amount, or £159,000, from State grants and from students’ fees. In that regard, it is not inappropriate to point out that the biggest and most populous universities in Australia - the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne - already receive in students’ fees more than the maximum amount they are eligible to receive under this bill, and still more than they were eligible to receive under the acts of 1951, 1953 and 1955.
The difficulty of these conditional grants is that the State governments can increase their grants to universities only by decreasing their grants for other purposes. In order to pay Paul they have to rob Peter. In the case of the University of Sydney, with which I am mo3t familiar, and to which I have already made reference, one has only to point out that the Government of New South Wales already spends more a head of population on universities than is spent by any other State except Tasmania, in which State the university, being a small one, costs somewhat more a head of population.
The suggestion I make, to remove the spasmodic and conditional character of the Commonwealth’s grants to universities, is that we should establish a universities grants committee, such as has operated for many years in the United Kingdom. We already have in Australia a Commonwealth Grants Commission for the purpose of considering the amount of money which the Commonwealth should pay to the three less populous States in our federation, to enable them to provide public services of standards similar to those provided in the three more populous States. The Commonwealth Grants Commission makes an exhaustive inquiry every year and presents a very full report to the Parliament. As far as I know, the Parliament has always adopted its report, and the amount of money involved each year is very many times the £2,000,000 which is the maximum commitment of the Commonwealth under the legislation we are now considering.
This measure will become obsolete if the population of the universities increases, and as the salaries and other costs that universities have to meet also increase, as we must expect they will increase within the next year or two. Already one can see that Australian universities receive very much less money a head of population, and are more poorly staffed, than their counterparts in the United Kingdom. I refer to the red-brick or non-residential universities. I said that our universities are comparatively under-staffed. In 1954 and 1955 the University of Sydney had one full-time member of the teaching staff for every 15 full-time students. In the nonresidential universities in the United Kingdom, such as Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the population of each of which is less than that of the universities of Sydney or Melbourne, there was an average of one full-time member of the teaching staff to every eight or nine full-time students. The proportion of teachers to students in the United Kingdom was almost twice as great as the proportion in our two largest universities.
I am not reflecting in any way to the disadvantage of the Australian universities when I make that comparison.
It Ls only just that I should point out that among the ranks of the Government parties the graduates of the universities of Sydney and Melbourne are in the Ministry, and the graduates of Oxford and Cambridge are on the back benches. I do not suggest that every honorable member on the Government back benches is a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge. I do not know from what university the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), who has been seeking to interject, graduated. From the diversity of his talents and his contributions to the proceedings of this House, I should have thought that he would have been through many campuses in his time.
I have said that our universities are comparatively poorly staffed. That is because, as is the case with so much of our capital equipment, we are doing things on the cheap. Seventy-one per cent, of the income of the University of Sydney is spent on the salaries of the staff. To take the same year as that for which I gave the House the proportion of lecturers to students, 1953-54, the average expenditure for each full-time student in the non-residential universities in the United Kingdom was £375 sterling, which is equivalent, I believe, to about £A.469. I have obtained those figures from the returns of the Universities Grants Committee in the United Kingdom for that financial year. In 1954, the average expenditure for each full-time student in the University of Sydney Was £274, which is less than 60 per cent, of the amount spent in the United Kingdom. We are cutting down on the most essential expenditure in a university, which is onthe teaching staff, by having too few members of the teaching staff and paying them too little.
I have said that the only way in which the States can qualify for the full amount of the grant is by increasing their grants to the universities at the expense of other public services. It is not inappropriate to point out here, as did the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), that the uniform income tax system and the Australian Loan Council system provide a very real brake or restriction on the expenditure of all the States. The States cannot impose income tax under the present system. They cannot raise loans, except with the consent and through the agency of theCommonwealth. They cannot, under the Constitution, impose excise or customs duties. The easiest way in which State governments, Liberal and Labour alike,, can increase their income is by charging licence-fees if we wish to indulge in our various foibles and by imposing higher fees in order that we may drink or gamble without breaking the law.
Another shortcoming, as I see it, of our method of helping universities isthat our contrbution is being made only for the running expenses. There is nocontribution whatever towards their capital expenses. We know that in universities to-day, particularly in those faculties which more and more students arc seeking to enter, and into which it is in the national interest that more and* more students should go, there- should be more elaborate laboratories and better stocked libraries, which can be provided only with a higher capital expenditure. We are not giving the States sufficient loan funds to provide those services in the universities, and this measure makes, no provision for grants for such purposes.
Another shortcoming of this legislation, as I see it, is that it provides no incentive for private benefactors to make grants to universities. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) stated earlier in the debate that it was possible, under this measure, for contributions by benefactors to universities to attract these Commonwealth grants. With great respect to the honorable gentleman, that is not so. It has never been the case under the 1951, 1953 and 1955 acts, and it will still not be the case under this measure. If the Minister will look at the definition of “ State grants “ in the bill, ho will see that private benefactions do not come within the category. I may point out that but for some of these bene”f actions in the past many of our universities could not have carried on. I believe that the University of Sydney has an income of about £115,000 from the investment of private gifts. Much of that money, of course, is tied up in the endowment of particular chairs and prizes, and cannot be used for general university purposes. The University of Melbourne nas an income of £70,000 a year from “ similar sources.
If it is desirable for us to encourage benefactions, we should provide that such amounts of money as are bestowed privately on a university should attract grants under this bill. It is true, as the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) have said - the former having represented us on the Council of the Australian National University, and the latter still representing us on that council - that the day has passed when some of the princes of commerce, such as Bonython and Hackett, have left vast, benefactions to the universities. To those two names I might have added the names of Wilson, Bosch, Challis and McCaughey, and also Professor Schofield, under whose will, I believe, some £90,000 came two years ago to the- University of Sydney. Benefactions these days are made only when, as is done in America, large corporations set up trust funds. 1 instance the Ford Foundations and the Sloane .Kettering Institute and like organizations. Again, there are occasionally super salesmen, or, ns some people would regard them, charlatans, who from time to time obtain funds for the study of nucleur research or the promotion of what some people would regard as frontier literature. I do not mean to make any reflection on the persons who will speak later in this debate. The point is that, more and more, we must depend on public benefactions - the donations of the taxpayers.
The other point which I wish to make is that though one would think this an appropriate bill, no provision is made for the encouragement of persons to proceed beyond the school leaving age to matriculation, and so to the university. Much of the trouble is, of course, that the school curricula are not attractive, and do not hold pupils who have scientific or technical talents. The Minister for Territories and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) spoke nostalgically of the days when the sons of the gentry were able to cycle to the colonial university in the capital city; but times have changed. People no longer go to universities merely for their own benefit. It is now in the national interest that they should go to the universities, and the biggest countries in the world - biggest according to normal standards - such as the United States, Russia and now the United Kingdom, are realizing more and more that the community gains something from people going to the universities, because it is there that they obtain the higher technical skills which enable them to develop, and conduct the affairs of their country. Incidentally, one can expect that the growing giants of the East will not fail to realize this also.
Government supporters who have reminisced of their university days will surely recall that it was not then possible - and it is still not possible - for a person to enter the medical profession, or the dental calling, or become a specialist in most branches of engineering or science without having either independent means or family support. It is not possible to live on the allowance, which is £3 5s. a week, or, if one is married - and not many students are in that condition - £4 12s. 6d. a week. A means test is applied to claimants for these allowances. To enter most professions one must study full-time. That can only be done with community assistance - which is now inadequate - or with family subvention. There should be no such unstated means test in regard to entry to universities. Brains and determination are essential to succeed in most faculties, but they are not in themselves sufficient. With this objective the Chifley Government, in 1946, persuaded the people, at a. referendum, to insert placitum (xxiiiA.) in section 51 of the Constitution permitting this Parliament to give benefits to students. If we were to increase the benefits we would do a service not only to the- favoured, the determined and the able students, but also to the community as a whole. Whatever provision we make for universities, it is not sufficient unless we make greater provision for their capital expenditure - and we have never done that - and greater provision than we have so far made for the sustenance of the people who are proceeding through the universities and, in so doing, are acting in the national interest. The proper way to look after these matters is to appoint some continuing, non-partisan, expert body, such as the Universities Grants Committee of the United Kingdom to make periodic investigations and report to the Parliament. That would provide continuous and consistent grants in place of the present conditional and spasmodic grants to universities. We support this bill because it is an improvement. It is good as far as it goes, but let us hope that in the bill which will be brought down next year, or, if preceding practice is adopted, in the following year at the latest, we will do better.
.- It is not my intention to cover much of the ground that has been covered by speakers on both sides of the House. It is perhaps unique, especially at this particular time, that there should be such unanimity among honorable members. Of course, a degree of criticism has come from both sides and I think that many of the suggestions put forward warrant serious consideration. When further grants are made to the universities, some of them could well be kept in mind. We have among us my colleague, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), who has made a valuable contribution to education in New South Wales, having been for many years Minister for Education in that State. Another of my colleagues, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) is the Chancellor of the new University of New England. I am sure that the Government is gratified at the support that this bill has received from both sides of the House. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) concluded his second-reading speech with these words -
I commend the bill to honorable members, t am sure that they will wish the Commonwealth to continue its assistance to university education, which is so important for Australia’s future.
It has been proved conclusively that all members wish the Commonwealth to continue its assistance to university education. I congratulate the Government upon this bill and upon the increased grants being made to the universities. It may be that, some consideration could be given to increasing the amount still further because, to me, £2,000,000 in a budget of approximately £1,000,000,000 seems insufficient to spend upon something that is of such vital importance. Certainly, in the future, the Government might well consider increasing the grants to a very much greater degree. I congratulate the Government upon bringing down the bill because it is apparent that universities are to play an increasingly important role in Australian development. Therefore, the future of Australian universities is the concern of all Australians. The degree of apathy and indifference which so many people display to the need for universities in the community is quite remarkable. That, of course, may be attributable to many factors, to some of which a few people in the universities contribute. This debate should bring home to the people the fact that universities need finance and should not be allowed simply to “ grow up “ as did Topsy. Universities offer valuable opportunities for research, for the advancement of knowledge, and for the provision of trained and skilled technicians in this modern mechanical age.
Comments have been made in this House about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the sums that this Government has made available to it for research purposes. That money cannot be spent unless we provide trained men to carry on the research. We speak today about the atomic age and about nuclear research. Even in the field of defence and in our Air Force; Navy and Army, greater stress is being laid on the technical side and the technical weapons in those individual services. Therefore, it would be of no value if we had the weapons without the technicians to use them, and to train other men in the use of them. In the field of agriculture, veterinary science, and farm machinery we have gone beyond the horse-and-buggy days.
This mechanical age needs mechanical minds and mechanical ability on the farms. When we talk of the need for increased production, we should remember that we need scientific development in order to achieve increased production. So we find that there da in our community a growing need for universities. Unfortunately, in so many cases, there is not parallel with that need a full appreciation by the public of that growing need. One thing I would say is that when grants such as this are made they give a degree of certainty to the university. As I said in the opening remarks of my speech, perhaps the amount given could be increased but while there are these grants, there is a degree of certainty and so a degree of continuity within the university itself.
I think that the suggestion made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) with regard to money being given as an endowment to universities should be given serious consideration. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) touched on the matter of teaching and research. I think that he went on to say that we must strike a balance between the teaching side of the university and the research side of the university. That is something well worth considering because if we concentrate on one, we do so to the detriment of the other. The honorable member proceeded to talk about the life of the university and the benefit gained by those who attend universities. We have seen that development in the University of New England. That university is outside the metropolitan areas. It has been established in the country and gives greater opportunities to young men and women to attend the university who, in the normal course of events of their lives, might not be able to attend a university and gain the higher educational standards.
The effect of correspondence courses is that now men and women in Australia are able to study for certain degrees by correspondence. I believe that that development will make its contribution to our academic life. I think it should be appreciated that the value of a university is not to be measured merely in academic qualifications. I should like to read the report of the Australian University ViceChancellors Committee on the function of universities. One of the functions of universi ties was stated in section 4 of that report as follows,: -
The preservation of our cultural heritage and of our democratic traditions of freedom of thought and speech and the development and exchange of new ideas. Indeed the contribution of the Universities tosociety should not be reckoned only in terms of the professional proficiency of the graduates they produce or of the value of their contributions to research but rather in terms of their part in determining and moulding our way of life.
I think that that should be stressed because many people think of university graduates and the value of having university graduates in terms of academic qualifications. We have seen in this House proof of the fact that academic qualifications do not necessarily fit an individual to make a contribution here. A man may have a brilliant academic record and yet fail to make a vital contribution because he tries to be clever, tries to score a point, is sarcastic or stresses his intellectual qualities compared with those of some one else who may not have had the same educational opportunities. I think we should realize that the words that I have quoted are quite true. The contribution of the universities to the life of the nation is not merely in academic achievement but in the training of men and women to play their part in the community life of the Commonwealth in which they live.
I should like to make one comment on the remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) in regard to freedom of expression. I think that every honorable member will agree that there should be no interference in the expression of thought by the leaders of our universities. But while we say that, we should also say that the leaders of our universities should be most careful when they make a statement on a particular subject, particularly if that subject has a political flavour. Whether the view is justified or not, a university professor or lecturer, is looked upon by the rest of the community as a person of some learning and knowledge and of some standing; therefore, the average person, if I may use that hackneyed phrase, will take more notice of the statements made by such a person than he would if they had been made by some one with not quite the same qualifications.
Therefore, I believe that while we should stress continually the freedom of thought in universities which has been part of our Australian way of life and of the British way of life, we should agree that with freedom must go the realization of a greater degree of responsibility by the leaders in our university life. I congratulate the Government on the presentation of this hill and hope that, in future years, further consideration will be given to the suggestions made by honorable members on both sides of the House in this debate.
– I gather from the comments of the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) that apparently he has not come to the same conclusion as the many speakers on this subject of university education, university training and the philosophy that comes from higher education. The question of the final responsibilityof the academic mind to the community is not measured by whether you like it or not ; and it was rather astonishing to hear the honorable member for Lyne refer to the fact that university leaders should be careful of their statements. I think that any man of authority and knowledge should he not careful of his statements, but should be courageous in his statements, and the people should be careful as to the conclusions that they draw from those statements. In the circumstances, the freedom of the informed mind to inform in turn the community is largely challenged by statements such as that made by the honorable member for Lyne. That permeates so much of the thinking on the Government’s side which has been made evident during the past year when men of letters, professors and others, time after time, have been challenged simply because they have not got what is regarded as the right political line. That has nothing to do with the matter at all. If there is any merit in their training and study and in the university system at all and in the democratic acceptance by the community of men who group together to think - and that was the original concept of a university - then the Government and members such as the honorable member for Lyne must be crassly wrong in their whole attitude.
But at this late hour and at this time of the session I do not intend to develop that theory, or my attitude towards it.I have something to discuss which islot more important and down to earth.It is the subject on which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) touched in regard to the studies in universities and what will he taken up in future. It is of especial importance that we at this stage should give some support to Australian literature and to a Chair for Australian literature in our Australian universities. The Leader of the Opposition, referring to our responsibilities and our rights under section 96, which have been now established by contested cases in the courts, indicated how much and how usefully we can assist, either by means of payment for services by establishment, or otherwise, in regard to this fund. In New South Wales, without waiting for a government to do anything, and without waiting for the university to initiate anything, a body of men has clubbed together, held meetings, and begun a university fund, which now stands at about £12,000. The Leader of the Opposition was one of the speakers at the inaugural meeting at which the scheme was launched to raise, by self-help, the sum of £80,000 for the establishment of a chair for the study of Australian literature and letters in the University of Sydney. It is hoped that then, first the Federal Government, and later the State government, will come to the assistance of all the universities in establishing a chair for Australian literature. We have heard much to-day about what studies should be pursued and how far technological study should be taken at the university, how far the university should be a plush-lined avenue through which a man may get a job on the strength of the letters he may add to his name, as a dentist, a lawyer, a doctor, or in some other profession, and how far the university provides a philosophical course of study, so that a man may think and know and remain democratic and informed.
But there is a wider and larger call which must be answered now or forgotten altogether, and that is for the establishment of a chair of our own basic literature, which during the last century has been developed and written and is now deserving of wider exploration and explanation. Nobody suggests that a chair of Australian literature will at once produce geniuses, as £100,000 or £200,000 expended on a legal medical school will produce geniuses immediately in the courts and the operating theatres. After the cold, hard, and long study of literature is over, it still remains for the man who completes that study to make his own mark and his own contribution to Australian literature, which is the greatest and hardest taskmaster of all. But surely at this stage, when we are celebrating the centenary of the establishment of responsible government in New South Wales, and when we have had various celebrations to mark the centenary of the establishment of our universities, there is a vacuum in the whole of the Australian approach to our own culture and ‘the universal culture that we seek, in that we have not any truly representative chair to further the study of our own literature. It is not a matter of some quick and easy way of providing degree courses in literation for young people. It will be in many ways a research chair. Great difficulties will be faced in obtaining a suitable professor to occupy it, but surely now is the time to do something about its establishment.
Section 96 of the Constitution is the medium whereby this Parliament can be of assistance, but we can go further: we can broaden the scope of the literary f and. The Commonwealth Literary Fund to-day is a. poor thing. Awards from the fund depend upon whether the PrimeMinister (Mr. Menzies) likes a writer or not. It has been a tragedy. I belonged to the advisory board, but I was not a member of the administrative committee, and I fled from my post in despair. The conclusions that the committee has reached and the bureaucracy by which it has surrounded itself are not only astonishing but frightening, and if the same sort of thing takes place in relation to the Council of the Australian National University as has taken place in regard to the Commonwealth Literary Fund all I can say is, “ God help the Australian National University”. As an ordinary member of the advisory board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, I experienced many frustrations. Honorable members would rise in this House and say that such and such a writer who was receiving a grant was a Communist, a leftist, or something or other, or that he wore the wrong sort of hat or came from the wrong country. Such considerations are all completely absurd in the realm of literature, and everybody who knows anything about literature would be shocked at the conclusions arrived at by the committee. The worst offenders in this regard, of course, were the members of the splinter group which belonged to this side of the House but which is now happily absent from our midst.
In making a special grant for Australian literature and in establishing a chair of Australian literature, we ought to be proud. “We ought not to be so precious in our discussion of university education as some honorable members have demonstrated themselves to be in the speeches we have heard. If we can produce something which is unique in our own right, a chair for the study of our own literature, after an existence of less than 200 years in this country, we shall have done very well for ourselves. Let us study the works of the writers Henry Lawson, Christopher Brennan - thai neglected, corn ; ;i ting genius of Australian letters, who in any other country would be amongst the immortals - C. J. Dennis. Kendall, and Henry Handel Richardson, and our poets Banjo Paterson and Ogilvie, and let consider the spirit that prompted them to become the literary giants of our time. There is a tendency to debunk Paterson and Ogilvie, because theirs was. of the rural and primitive type of poetry in their age, but they belonged essentially to their century, and we should be careful that we, too, belong to our century. We have to make an analysis and a study, through the universities and the scholarships available to us, of these sources of national, and indeed international, aspiration. We should know what makes the Hungerfords, the Darcy Nilands, and a hundred and one other successful writers of this country to-day, and we should observe how there has been a change from the frontier writer, of whom the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) spoke, to the more sophisticated writer of to-day. We talk of development of the universities and money for study, accommodation, and research, but I submit to the House that the real, crying need at this moment is for money for the establishment of a chair of Australian literature, and the Federal Government, with its limited powers, which are gathered together under section 96, could be of assistance in the struggle that is taking place outside to this end. The right honorable member for Barton, the leader of our party, Dr. Eris O’Brien, and many distinguished men of letters, were proud to be in Sydney a few weeks ago to inaugurate this drive amongst the people to create the desire to study at the university our Australian literature and to create a chair in the mother university of Australia, the Sydney University. We should go further and not depend entirely on our powers under section 96 and on allocation of some of the taxpayers’ money. Many people made a lot of money prior to and during the war, and I believe that they should be told that, as their wealth is immense, they should emulate the example of other wealthy persons and give of their wealth for this splendid purpose. I am sure that many of them have not even dreamed of such a noble act. We remember that in the past universities have been endowed by this famous individual, that scholar, or this lover of the arts. To-day, the situation is entirely different. This is not only a matter for individuals. Great corporations in this country have the requisite finance to enable them to help. They have millions of pounds at their disposal. Such corporations have endowed many universities and faculties in the United States of America. The thinking of our great industrialists should be directed to the fact that the job that they can do to help .Australian universities and Australian education is only just beginning. I sit down on this note-
– I hope that it is not a sharp note.
– No, it is a mellow and placid note. The establishment of a chair of Australian literature in all our universities would benefit not only the honorable member who interjected, who I am sure would be susceptible of benefit, but his children, too. We need not be so Pecksniffian about this subject. We shall feel proud in the long run if we can force ourselves to accept our destiny. There is a fine backlog of Australian literature that requires investigation. One may learn from what has been written over the years about this country what really makes the country tick. An investigation of French literature gives the key to the French way of life and French thought. Everybody today faces the fact that it was the slow and steady stream of Russian literature that eventually brought about the Russian revolution, because it was writing on a national theme.
We must investigate our own literature to ascertain the central theme and the pulse of our country’s thought. It is not to be found in the daily newspapers, or even in Hansard. It is found in the slow writing out qf the thoughts of men in the literature of our country. For that reason, it i3 imperative that we should establish chairs of Australian literature in our universities. We should be businesslike in this matter. We should take advantage of the provisions of section 96 of the Australian Constitution to broaden our fund of literature, as I have mentioned before, by providing scholarships to encourage the writer who is held back by nothing so much as the peculiar circumstance of being Australian. Because he lives in a community of fewer than 10,000,000 people, the vast and multifarious literature of the world, except for the classics, comes to him almost in syndicated form. He needs a unique kind of protection for that very reason. We must assist our own publishers. If we are genuine in our love of Australian literature and of the Australian way of life, many magnificent books about our aborigines, our customs, and our early days of exploration, which are not in themselves best sellers, must eventually find places on our bookshelves. Our literature must be encouraged through that initial development by literary grants and by the efforts of universities with chairs of Australian literature. It is very obvious that the whole thing should be removed from party politics and put in the hands of the universities, to which it belongs.
An amount of £2,000,000 is being voted for the work and the maintenance of the universities by this measure. I should like to see, in the years to come, many more millions of pounds poured into the development of the universities. Of course, as the population increases and the demand grows, this will come. But I suggest this evening that one of the most important things for us to do within the next decade is at least to establish a chair of Australian literature in each of our universities, without arrongance, immodesty, or an inferiority complex. The field for study is there. It is no longer sufficient to have only readerships in the universities, and to treat our own literature as a sort of poor relation of English literature. If a brilliant student wants to take a course in literature, he must feed on the source books of Australian literature, and he ought to have proper supervision and guidance in his course. This can be provided only by the creation of a first-class chair of Australian literature in each of our universities.
I should like honorable members to appreciate that, in this matter, we are not going to the Government cap in hand. We propose, first, to establish that the community, under the stimulus of an idea, can find £80,000 for a chair of Australian literature in the University of Sydney. We think we shall be successful, and we hope that, once the new chair of Australian literature has been established in the University of Sydney, the public, the taxpayers, and the Commonwealth Government will ensure that similar chairs are established in the other universities, and that sufficient finance will be made available to the universities, by the means adopted in this measure, to nourish those new chairs. This is an important matter. It transcends the question of whether university professors are free to express their views. We know they are. It transcends the question of how many classrooms are available in the universities, or of how many plush courses are available to technicians who wish to obtain university degrees in order to fit them to earn their living. The study of the literature of a country is the very essence of the work of its universities. If we leave it any longer to undertake a proper study of our own literature, we may find that we have left it too late.
.- I shall approach the consideration of this measure perhaps along lines slightly different from those taken by previous speakers. I congratulate the Government on increasing the allocation of funds to the universities to £300,000 above the allocation made last financial year. However, it is not enough for the Commonwealth merely to grant funds for the universities in this manner. I worked for years as a coal-miner, and, had I continued to work as a miner, my two sons, who won scholarships, would have followed me into the mines. But I was lucky. I was elected to the Parliament and this good fortune enabled me, with the help of my sister, to put my elder son through the university. The other son also qualified at the university. However, the hungry ‘thirties came along, and my sons could not find employment in the field for which their training fitted them, although this did not prevent them from making good in life. They were not the only coal-miners sons to qualify themselves by university training with the aid of scholarships from the Maitland High School. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) also attended that high school.
The community as a whole benefits from the education of those who attend the universities. I had no such education. My only training was in the school of hard knocks, and it was very hard training. The £2,000,000 that is to be made available to the universities by this measure is not enough. I honestly and sincerely believe that all the States would willingly hand over to the Commonwealth the field of education, in which the Commonwealth could do much more than it does now by means of measures such as this. My elder son, whom, unfortunately, I lost, was a , schoolteacher. On one occasion, while on a visit to Canberra, he admired the schools here. He compared them with the schools generally found in the States, which he said seemed like military barracks by comparison with the Canberra schools, and were hardly an encouragement to children to go to school longer than they were compelled to do. The same remarks could be applied to the universities. The State universities seem almost like military barracks in comparison with the Australian National University in Canberra. If ‘the whole nation benefits from the education of our citizens, why should not tho National Government give more money to the States for education? At the present time owing to the lack of funds the States find it very difficult to discharge their responsibilties in the field of education. The States cannot afford to replace the old military barrack-style of buildings and build something more congenial and comfortable. They have to appeal to the Commonwealth from time to time for assistance, because the Commonwealth has the money and all the other resources that are necessary to provide the opportunities for a higher standard of education.
I have no definite support for my opinion, but I think the States would willingly hand over the field of education to the Commonwealth if it were willing to accept responsiblity for it. Why should not the Commonwealth take over responsibility for all education in this country? After- all, education is fundamental to the development of a nation in this atomic age. At Woomera, there are people engaged in developing and exploding atomic weapons. Press reports have put the wind np some of us because, apparently, a radio-active cloud, caused by the recent explosion of an atomic bomb at the Monte Bello Islands, is drifting over the mainland of Australia. If we had people well versed in weather forecasting, in all probability they would have foreseen, before the bomb was exploded, the change of the weather that occurred immediately afterwards. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) has said that we have nothing to fear from this radio-active cloud, but I know that I should be fearful if I were living at Wyndham or any of the places nearby.
However, I am not at Wyndham; I am here.
I plead with the Government to take action to enable the children of coalminers to receive higher education. There is a great deal of talent in the coal-mining community, including a male voice choir of miners which won for three years in succession the Australian singing championships, if I may so call them, held at Ballarat. When the coal-miners strike, either to obtain improvements of their working conditions or to resist attempts to take something from them, they are condemned; but when a war occurs and, in order to maintain coal production, miners have to be prevented from enlisting in the forces, we find that, after all, they are not bad fellows. Why not give to the sons and daughters of miners an opportunity for a higher standard of education? If I had continued to work in the coal-mines, instead of breaking into Parliament, so to speak, I could not have afforded to give my sons who won scholarships, the education that they have received. I ask the Government to negotiate with the States with a view to taking over, lock, stock and barrel, the responsibility for education in this country. But for my eldest sister, I should not have been able to afford to keep my sons at a university I pay tribute to her now. She is still alive, at the age of 89 years. I suggest that at each university there be established university hostels, at which students could board much more cheaply than elsewhere. My sons were lucky enough to win scholarships which entitled them to free university education, but, if my sister had not given them free board and lodging, I should have been unable to keep them at the university.
I appeal to the Government to do something to assist the poorer people in relation to education. Honorable members opposite say that they are Liberals. If they are liberal minded, let them act liberally to the poorer people. Let them give to those people an opportunity to educate their sons and daughters to a high standard. There are many talented young people in coal-mining districts who would benefit from university courses, but whose parents cannot afford to pay for a university education.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 8th June (vide page 3001), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a bill to amend the Tractor Bounty Act 1939-1953. It is of profound interest to Australia, because tractors are of prime importance to our primary industries. T have always had considerable personal interest in tractors. I operated one of the first dozen internal combustion engine tractors to be brought to Australia. It was a huge, single-cylinder machine. Tt was used for threshing and for driving straw presses, contract presses and chaffcutters. I remember that on one occasion I used that great monster of a tractor to pull an eight-furrow plough on the plains of Werribee. That was away back in 1913, or thereabouts. I am still personally interested in tractors, and I still operate them. I have watched their evolution from 1913 onwards.
With that background, and as one who is very interested in the development of Australia’s secondary industries, naturally I am deeply concerned because, in this measure, the Government has not done the right thing. For many years, the Australian tractor manufacturing industry has been assisted by bounty and by other means. At the present time, it is being assisted by bounty under the terms of legislation enacted in, I think, 1952. The Tariff Board - I admit frankly that this Parliament is not bound to accept the recommendations of that body, but almost invariably it does accept them - made a thorough investigation to determine the degree of assistance necessary to stimulate the production of tractors by Australian manufacturers. On the conclusion of the investigation, the board submitted a report to the Parliament. By no stretch of the imagination could it be alleged that the investigation by the board was not extremely thorough. The investigation was made as the result of a submission by manufacturers that the bounty was quite inadequate to stimulate the production of tractors in Australia. After all, how important it all is ! Our tractor requirements are in the vicinity of 20,000 a year. Of that number, approximately 3,500 are now manufactured in Australia, and the balance is imported. We have an existing capacity to manufacture at least 6,000 tractors a year, and, without a doubt, if the essential measure of protection were given to the industry, we could very easily increase our manufacturing capacity to 12,000 or 15,000 tractors.
I am staggered to realize that there are some influences at work on this Government; that in this case, a most exceptional instance, the Government has seen fit, despite the very thorough investigation by the Tariff Board, to turn down the board’s most emphatic recommendation. The Government brings this bill into the Parliament with the intention of re-enacting, practically in their entirety, the provisions for the existing measure of assistance, or alleged assistance, to the industry by way of bounty. I have said that our capacity to manufacture tractors is about 6,000 compared with our annual requirements of about 20,000 annually. I should say that one of the reasons that prompted the Tariff Board to recommend the imposition of a tariff on tractors, in addition to the bounty paid on tractors manufactured in Australia, was the fact that unless something definite is done in the way of assistance to the tractor industry there is no possibility of that industry being able, in any appreciable time, to increase its output to any great degree. If the industry is unable to develop itself in that way within a reasonable time, then it has no decent prospect - and this is pointed out in the Tariff Board’s report - of being able to reduce its cost of production and, unaided, to turn out tractors in competition with imported tractors. By “ unaided “ I mean free of bounty and possibly free of tariff protection. That is the irony of it.
I want to emphasize to this Parliament the fact that in recent days we have had before us bounty proposals to assist the acetate flake industry conducted by Colonial Sugar Refinering Company Limited, and to assist the cellulose rayon industry conducted by a very large firm with an ample supply of capital at its disposal. In both instances the Government - I do not know why - despite the fact that the manufacturers of both these products are concerns with huge aggregations of capital behind them, has seen fit to do two things. First. it saw fit to give those concerns bounty assistance and, secondly, it saw fit to bring down a proposal, which will be debated at some time in the future, to give them tariff protection in addition to bounty assistance. The third factor is that the Government has provided in its bounty proposals to allow the firms -to draw bounty, as well as to have the advantage of tariff protection, so long as the profits on their capital do not exceed 10 per cent. If they exceed 10 per cent, the bounty assistance is withdrawn. But in the case of the tractor industry, what do we find? The Government gives the industry the benefit of bounty assistance, but refuses it the advantage of tariff protection. It is a small and struggling Australian industry which very greatly needs assistance; but all that the Government can do for it is to give it bounty assistance and no tariff protection. In addition - and mark this! - it has provided that the bounty shall cease if the profit on capital exceeds 5 per cent. “Why does the Government on the one hand give, without hesitation, to two very wealthy concerns with immense aggregations of capital at their dispos.il both bounty assistance and tariff protection, with a provision that the bounty assistance will not cease until profits on capital exceed 10 per cent, and on the other hand adopt a very different attitude to a small struggling industry which needs protection?
– The answer was given in my second-reading speech.
– The Minister says that the answer was given in his secondreading speech! I shall deal later with the answer given. In the case of the Australian tractor industry - and the best sector of it at that - the Government not only refuses tariff protection, despite the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but also provides that bounty assistance shall not be given when profit on capital used by firms in the industry exceeds 5 per cent. Did anybody ever hear of such discriminatory action? The Australian tractor industry is not only a worthy industry, but is also an essential industry. It would appear to me that the influence of the people in the corner, the members of the Australian Country party, was imposed on the Government. It does not necessarily follow that tariff protection for the tractor industry would lead to an increase of the price of tractors which are bought by primary producers.
– Yes, it would.
– The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), the apologist for the Australian Country party, says that it would. If tariff protection for the tractor industry would lead to an increase in the price of tractors, then surely tariff protection in respect of acetate flake and cellulose yarn would mean that higher prices would have to be paid by the users of those commodities. I suggest to the honorable member for Moore that, nothwithstanding the fact that it may be true that, owing to the negligence of this Government, primary producers are finding great difficulty in competing with other exporting countries because of keen prices on the world’s markets, it is also true that they are in a reasonably sound position and could possibly afford to carry whatever slight increase of the price of tractors might result from additional tariff protection. The honorable member for Moore shakes his head, but the fact is that experience, has shown that when tariff protection has been granted to enable the Australian industry to compete with the imported product, there has never been any necessity to increase prices to the Australian users, for the very simple reason that almost immediately the tariff protection has been granted the importers have reduced their prices. That is ancient history, and it is a common occurrence when tariff protection is given.
Now let us examine the plausible excuse given by the Government in connexion with this matter.
– It is not an excuse. It is a reason.
– Then let us look at the reason advanced by the Government for not accepting the recommendation of the Tariff Board to allow the tractor industry to make 10 per cent, profit on capital before bounty assistance cuts out. The Minister for Customs and Excise said in his second-reading speech -
Furthermore, the Government cannot conaider raising the profit limitation from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent, at this juncture. The Government agrees that 10 per cent, is not, under normal circumstances, an unreasonable level-
– Under normal circumstances.
– Will the Minister tell me what abnormal circumstances are ? I suppose the Minister would regard as “ abnormal circumstances “ the fact that in Western Australia there is a very efficient tractor-manufacturing concern turning out what, in my opinion, is, in its class, probably the best and sturdiest tractor produced anywhere in the world. I saw this firm’s tractors under test four or five years ago.
– I am in entire agreement with the honorable member about that firm’s product.
– There you are! The honorable member for Moore is in entire agreement with me, yet he is supporting the Government’s refusal to give tariff protection to the Australian tractor industry. The company in Western Australia to which I have referred is hamstrung and embarrassed by the fact that, because Western Australia is a small demand State, 60 per cent, of its tractors have to be exported to the eastern States. Some are, perhaps, exported to the islands. Surely a firm of that kind which, if given tariff protection, could double its output and even then meet the disability of freight on its exports to the eastern States, is entitled to some consideration. In addition, behind the protection of a tariff barrier, it would be able to overcome the disability under which it now labours of not being able to afford the advertising on the scale that is indulged in by firms that have American capital. Because of an imaginary temporary disadvantage to a few primary producers, the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) is not prepared to agree that, in the interests of Australia and particularly of Western Australia, the report of the Tariff Board should be accepted.
– What is the amount of the bounty?
– The bounty has been stated by the Tariff Board to be ineffective as a means of assisting the tractor manufacturing industry, and that is the very reason why there was an additional inquiry by the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board laid particular stress on this fact. Let me quote its conclusions. It stated -
If means are found to increase the volume of output of some sizes of locally produced diesel-powered tractors-
And Chamberlain Industries Proprietary
Limited make such tractors - for which engines are now imported-
That is another factor - this may lead ultimately to one of the overseas manufacturers of diesel engines establishing a plant in Australia.
Is that not important? It also stated -
From the figures quoted earlier in this report relating to imports, tractor population and estimated annual requirements, it is evident that, although the market has not diminished, the establishment-
And I want the honorable member for Moore to note this - since the Board’s previous report, of bounty payments on a higher scale has not resulted in any substantial increase in the output of locally produced wheel type tractors.
In other words, a bounty does not solve the problem. As everybody knows, the Tariff Board is not eager to increase duties if increased duties can be avoided. The Tariff Board said further -
Continuation of the present method of assistance - wholly by bounty - will leave the industry very much where it is at present. The weaker unit will continue to struggle on a hand to mouth basis, and there will be no encouragement for new capital investment in the enterprise.
Much weaker cases presented by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, the acetate flake manufacturing company and Courtauld’s, the manufacturers of rayon filament, have resulted in those organizations obtaining not only a bounty but also protection in the form of the right to earn 10 per cent, on their capital before the bounty payments peter out. It is significant that although the report of the Tariff Board has been in the hands of the Government for several months, the Government has not brought down its proposals to assist this industry until after the elections in Western Australia. It knew what criticism awaited it. The fact that it stands handsomely by the big concerns to the detriment of the small concerns is most significant.
– That does not enter into the matter.
– It enters into it all right.
Mr. Turnbull interjecting,
– For the benefit of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), let me quote the following statement by the Tariff Board -
The Board is strongly impressed with the need for keeping down costs of primary production and considers that the time is inopportune for assisting the tractor industry by duty instead of by bounty. There must be a realization however that assistance by bounty cannot be continued indefinitely. The industry is ti firmly rooted in Australia and is reaching the stage when consideration will need to be given to some other form of assistance.
Et further stated -
Bounty assistance is ineffective; imposition of a protective duty would be unreasonable. The Board considers that the form of assistance in the future should be one of bounty-cum-duty with the bounty element decreasing and the duty clement increasing as circumstances from time to time necessitate.
The board says quite freely, in effect, that duty alone would be ineffective, that bounty alone has proved to be ineffective, and suggests a combination of the two forms of assistance. This Government, however - I think for the first time since it assumed office - has refused to adopt a recommendation of the Tariff Board.
Let us look at the importance of the industry, quite apart from the question of defence. It directly employs 1,400 workers, and I have no doubt that as many more are employed indirectly. In addition, it is a source of demand to other industries that supply ancillary parts for these machines. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government. It is an outrageous state of affairs. I should like to know what Government supporters who represent Western Australian electorates propose to do about it. I should like to know how the Ministry justifies this victimization of a section of a very important industry and why it refuses to accept the report of the instrumentality that is most competent to report on this matter. The attitude of the Government is all the more startling and astonishing when one notes the readiness with which it grants protection to other much stronger organizations. It is quite true, as the Tariff Board has pointed out, that the International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited manufactures thousands of tractors per annum. It is true also, as the board has pointed out, that that organization has never claimed the protection of a bounty. But the board has pointed out, too, that that concern has enjoyed enormous advantages by reason of the fact that the parent company has been able to supply all the know-how, plans and specifications, jigs, and other requirements. In addition, there are many other advantages tha’ flow from the company’s long establishment in Australia and the fact that it has distributing and spare parts agencies in most of the country centres. In the face of all that, surely there is some justification for giving protection to this smaller Australian company in Western Australia which, if it were enabled to increase its volume of production and thereby reduce its costs, could, doubtless in due course be as favorably placed as is th> great American concern. Let us examine the recommendation of the Tariff Board in detail.
Conversation being audible,
– Order ! There is too much audible conversation.
– Of course, it is only a laughing matter to the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– Order !
– He is sitting pretty. He is responsible for introducing proposals for 10 per cent, profit allowances for the great concerns of New South Wales that are adjacent to his electorate, and which have vast aggregations of capital. I say with a due sense of responsibility - and my assertion will be supported by all the users of these machines and by many engineers - that this organization in Western Australia is producing probably the most efficient tractor of its size that has yet been manufactured in Australia. If the Minister knows anything about mechanics or engineering, I invite him to inspect one of these tractors. This small but admittedly efficient concern is to be denied the tariff protection that was recommended by the Tariff Board. The sinister influences behind the scenes are, or could be, the great importing tractor concerns and some of the great American tractor concerns already manufacturing here. They are the sinister influences and they probably influenced the Ministry against adopting the recommendations of the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board recommended -
That has been rubbed right out. Here is a recommendation based on the responsible opinion of the Tariff Board that the Western Australian industry, desirous of fitting tractors of 55 horse-power, which is the limit for which bounty is paid or protection given, with engines of 75 or 80 horse-power, should be given assistance to the extent of £200 for each tractor. The Government has refused tariff protection and, in addition has refused to concede the bounty of £200 for each tractor to the Western Australian firm if it produces a tractor incorporating a 75 or 80 horse-power engine. The hoard recommended further -
The Government has conceded that point -
That is the profit limit. The board recommended an allowance of 10 per cent, profit, but that is refused. The Colonial
Sugar Refining Company Limited, Courtaulds (Australia) Limited and all the rest of them are allowed to make a profit of 10 per cent, before the bounty is eliminated or even partially reduced. What is the reason for this discrimination against the State of Western Australia and a firm turning out a first-class product? There has been no criticism by the Tariff Board of the efficiency of the industry. The only suggestion is that the volume of production of the company is too small and that other disadvantages under which it is labouring are hindering it. Those disadvantages can be overcome if the company is given the opportunity to produce in volume and is protected from imports. The Tariff Board also recommended -
That a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem under the British Preferential Tariff be imposed on all imported tractors exceeding 30 m.b.p.h.p. and that rates other than those under the British Preferential Tariff be fixed in accordance with Australia’s international commitments
The board then made certain recommendations about crawler type tractors. I do not think that anybody is particularly concerned about those recommendations at this juncture. Will the Minister explain this discrimination?
– I did.
– The Minister did not explain why a 10 per cent, profit should be allowed to the fattest concerns in Australia. He did not explain why the little concerns - particularly Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited - should be tied down to a profit of 5 per cent., in spite of the recommendations of the Tariff Board. What is the reason for this wicked discrimination? It is not mandatory for a government to accept the recommendations of tariff boards, but this is the only instance of which I know in the last six or seven years where discrimination has been shown against a small firm and the Government has refused to accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board. I suppose the Minister will tell us that the adoption of the recommendations might have had an adverse effect on primary producers and on primary production. If every industry in Australia had been dependent upon that excuse, it would not have been able to continue.
That excuse has been made by members of the Australian Country party who are the direct representatives of primary producers in regard to every industry that was ever granted tariff protection. Traditionally the Australian Country party is a free-trade party. Representatives of their organizations or of industrial organizations such as farmers’ unions, wheatgrowers’ unions and so on, attend all tariff board inquiries that involve any article that may increase the cost of primary production. They express their opposition to the raising of a protective barrier to enable secondary industry, so necessary to the protection and development of this great country, to be established firmly on a sound basis. That is the influence that in this case - and for the first time since this Government came to office - has been responsible for the refusal to accept the recommendation of a very efficient tariff board.
I could understand the attitude of the Government if the report had said that the tractor industry in Western Australia was a struggling, hopeless industry; that its product was not a good product; that it had no possible chance of surviving; and that it would be a waste of time to encourage it and to inflict upon the primary producers some additional cost for tractors. But this report does not reflect in any way on Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited or any of the people who are now manufacturing tractors or propose to manufacture them in the future. This is a matter that, in reality, ought to be referred back to the Tariff Board immediately for further investigation and consideration so that the Government can see whether it will stick to its present recommendation or whether it will withdraw it, eat humble pie and advance some reason why the industry should not be protected. I know that it will not do that.
I suggest to the Minister that if he is not prepared to reconsider his attitude, withdraw the hill and promise some tariff protection, say, during the next session of Parliament, then he should at least give a promise that he will ensure that within at least six months this matter shall again be referred to the Tariff Board. The board has suggested that the matter be reviewed before the expiration of the present period of three years’ protection or three years’ bounty recommended in the report. I am sure that, in regard to tariff protection, bounties and any other activities of this Government since it came to office, this is the most flagrant and most wicked discrimination, and it reeks of corruption or, at best, of favoritism. Itis a disgrace. It is a penalization of a segment of Australian industry simply because it may have some unfortunate repercussion on the cost of primary pro duction.
– That is a big thing.
– It is a big thing. However, the Government does not say, when it introduces tariff protection for any other industry, “We will not impose tariff protection on this industry or that industry because it may have some serious repercussion on the pockets of industrial workers by virtue of the fact that it increases the cost of materials for their homes, their small factories and their industries “. There is not a word about that. Is there any reason why a manufacturer, who is admittedly efficient, should be deprived of that which is given to other segments of industry simply because his product goes directly to the farmers 1 The farming community in this country has been treated reasonably generously by most administrations. For this Government to yield on this issue to that section of its Ministry that consists of representatives of the Australian Country party is the most cowardly and unjust thing I have seen since this Government came to office.
I shall say no more on this matter. 3 hope that what I have said will receive consideration by the Minister, and that it will be endorsed and supported by honorable members from Western Australia, although they represent another party. I hope that even at this late stage some wise counsel will prevail, and that the Government will do the right and decent thing to the tractor industry that is now struggling to establish itself in Australia on a basis that will enable it eventually to stand unaided.
.- I am eager to speak in support of this bill, because it concerns a Western Australian industry that is making a valuable contribution to industrial development throughout our nation. Also, it is an industry that provides employment for quite a large number of individuals. The enterprise that benefits from the provisions of this legislation is located in my own electorate, and I can, therefore, claim to know personally of its value. I propose to deal with the purpose of the bill, then with the firm of Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited, which will benefit from the provisions of the bill, and then to point out in conclusion that while the assistance that is to be granted is logical and fully warranted, there are several anomalies in this legislation that I feel should be corrected.
At this stage, however, I feel that I should say a word or two about the contribution made to this debate by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). It is good to be in agreement with the honorable member, at least on some aspects of the matter, on this occasion. In other debates I have appeared always to be diametrically opposed to him. I thank him for emphasizing that this bounty bill is of profound importance. He linked this hill with primary production. He also referred to the very thorough investigation made by the Tariff Board. Again I entirely agree with him, and later I wish to deal in some detail with the report of the Tariff Board. Of course, I cannot agree with the honorable member for Lalor when he refers inaccurately to Western Australia as the little State. My colleague, the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) and I would remind the House with some enthusiasm that Western Australia is a vast territory with an immense potential, the development of which is now being vigorously undertaken. It will be difficult indeed for the nation to measure the contribution, that Western Australia will make in the future to our national development.
I turn now to the purpose of the bill. I remind the House that it provides for an extension of the Tractor Bounty Act 1939-1953. The Minister said, in his second reading speech, that the bounty payment on tractor production by Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited will be renewed, that that bounty will be subjected to a profit limitation of 5 per cent., and that, for the first time, the bounty will be payable on sales of tractors by this company to Australian territories. The next point that is revealed in the Minister’s speech is that the bounty is restricted to tractors rated at not more than 55 horse-power. Finally, as the honorable member for Lalor has mentioned, no protective duty in the interests of Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited is to be applied to tractors imported by other companies.
Only two manufacturers in Australia produce tractors, including engines, of a power rating above 35 horse-power. The smaller company is Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited, to which I have referred, while the larger, which seeks and receives no bounty assistance, is a world-wide organization, represented in Australia by the International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited.
Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited was first established in 1947, and it went into production effectively in 1949, at which time the only tractor being manufactured was a kerosene model. It made only kerosene tractors until 1955, when it produced its first diesel tractor, the Chamberlain 55DA. This was the first all-Australian diesel tractor. In 1952, when tractor sales suffered a recession, the company commenced to manufacture implements. The main implements made were the 14 and 18 disc ploughs, and the 20 and 24 type scarifiers. In 1952, the Tariff Board visited the plant at Welshpool in Western Australia, and it was quite evident from its report that the board did not consider that the industry at that time was efficiently organized and controlled. However, since then many alterations have been made, both in the management and ti»e layout of the factory, and the industry is far better equipped in 1956 than it was in 1952. It is interesting to note that the same members of the Tariff Board revisited the plant at Welshpool in February of this vear, at which time, of course, the Tariff Board report that we have been considering bad been compiled and submitted. I am quite satisfied that the members of the Tariff Board were far more impressed in February of this year than they were when they first reported on the industry in 1952.
At the present time Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited has about £8,000,000 worth of plant in the field, spread throughout Australia, and I think it can be claimed that all of this plant is being efficiently serviced by the organization. The level of employment varies between 750 and 850 persons. In addition, it is known that a number of small engineering firms in the metropolitan area of Perth virtually exist on the work that they do for Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited. Should the industry close - and it is quite apparent that it cannot exist without proper assistance and encouragement - it is clear to me, and, I am sure, to others, that a number of small engineering workshops in Perth would immediately go to the wall.
The company’s marketing organization is now nation-wide. The head office in Welshpool controls marketing in every State of Australia, where either branches or agents have been established. The control is exercised through a distribution manager and, of course, a service manager. The company’s prospects are far brighter than they were previously, because of two principal factors. First, there has been an increase in the company’s production programme, mainly brought about by its discontinuance of implement manufacture, and by a policy of importing the engines rather than manufacturing them in its own plant. Secondly, having entered the field in which the sales potential is considerably greater than in the case of the previous heavy type tractors. Any survey carried out among primary producers would, I feel sure, show clearly that the company’s products are held in high esteem. They have gained an excellent reputation. It ia understood that the branches of the War Service Land Settlement Division in Western Australia and South Australia have strongly recommended the use by their contractors of Chamberlain equipment. The company reports that very recently an overseas production engineer, an expert in his field, estimated that the production potential of the Welshpool plant was between 3,000 and 4,000 of the new diesel tractors a year. It should, therefore, be apparent to us all that the target that the company has in mind at present, namely 1,500 tractors per annum, should be achieved with little difficulty.
I should like now to quote from th* Tariff Board’s report on this company. At page 9 the report states -
The smaller of these twu manufacturers, Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited, has had a chequered career. It had the initial advantages of occupying an already established factory and of undertaking production at a time when there was a great shortage oi tractors in Australia, when mechanization o* farms had commenced in earnest and when the prices of primary products were at u relatively good level. It had the disadvantage associated with the production of a new and untried design which had to establish itself against limited competition from well know, overseas makes. The price of the machine waso high as to discourage users from experimenting, and only the then existing scarcity enabled sufficient numbers to be distributed to prove their worth under actual service conditions. The tractor proved to be quite satisfactory.
In the meanwhile the supply of tractors fro overseas increased, particularly from th. United Kingdom, and by the time that Chamberlain’s had proved its capacity to produce satisfactory tractors the market was highly competitive. It was necessary for Chamberlain’s to sell tractors in the eastern States teniaintain a reasonable volume of production, but the freight from Western Australia to the users’ market proved to be a big handicap. The company was assisted by loans from the State government in Western Australia and by bounty paid by the Commonwealth. With great difficulty it survived, and it has nowreached the stage where the whole of its operations have been re-organized and where it ha* commenced to earn a slight profit. There is no doubt that the company was helped by the operation of import restrictions, but it is a reasonable conclusion that it has emerged from its vicissitudes in fairly good shape and thai it is in a better position now than at an other time in its career to manufacture tractor? in competition with imports.
If this company were the only manufacturer in Australia, the board, reviewing all the circumstances, could possibly come to the conclusion that it is now operating with reasonable efficiency and that it is worthy of assistance.
Next, as I indicated when I commenced my remarks, I want to affirm that assistance under this bill is both logical and fully warranted. I am personally impressed with the consideration given by the Tariff Board to efficiency in production and general organization. On page 8 of the board’s report there is a summary of the action taken by the Chamberlain company to achieve production efficiency. It reads -
It was stated on behalf of Chamberlain Industries Pty. Ltd. that the company has taken steps to reduce its costs of production and to overcome the disability of location through being so far away from the main market for its products.
As the honorable member for Lalor mentioned, more than 60 per cent, of the company’s sales are made in the eastern States. The company’s plans for its new medium-type tractor provide for assembly operations to be performed in the eastern States and for the utilization, to a greater extent than in the past, of the facilities provided by outside manufacturers specializing in the production of components. These components would be shipped direct to assembly points, wherever located, instead of, as at present, being shipped to Western Australia, with attendant transport costs, assembled in the Welshpool plant, and then transported back to the east where 60 per cent, of the sales take place. The advantage of this method lies in the saving made in high interstate transport charges on both the components and the finished product. The report states further -
The company has taken steps to obtain modern precision machinery for use in the production of the new model medium tractor. lt has also installed centrifugal casting machines to enable castings to be used in place of some costly forgings. It was claimed that the introduction of this improved equipment could ultimately result in a production output of 5,000 tractors per annum of the medium type within three years. The increased production if achieved in conjunction with the anticipated output of heavy type tractors should result in lower production costs.
The board was, therefore, faced with a problem. Its policy is not to recommend assistance to an industry that is not reasonably efficient. All members of this Parliament should support the Tariff Board in that attitude. On the one hand, there is a large manufacturer supplying the bulk of Australian production, and apparently making satisfactory profits without any assistance. The fact that it is able to do this is worthy of commendation. I suggest that it is a tribute to its efficiency. On the other hand, there is a small manufacturing concern which is just emerging from a period of great difficulty. It is definitely in need of assistance, and apparently not as efficient - to be quite fair - as its larger competitor. Nor would we expect it to be as efficient as a world-wide organization. Chamberlain Industrie? Proprietary Limited is a new and struggling concern, but one which is growing more efficient day by day. Because one manufacturer with a large share of the market can continue without assistance, should the other manufacturer be deprived of assistance on the ground that his undertaking is inefficient? 1 should like to quote again from the Tariff Board- report on the subject. It reads -
The Board does not interpret its requirement of efficiency in the sense that every industry seeking protection should have the high standard set by- a large world-wide organization -
There are few industries in Australia that would qualify for protection or assistance under such an interpretation. And while it is comforting to know that there is in Aus tralia an engineering industry capable of producing an intricate piece of machinery without, protection or assistance - an industry setting a standard for other industries - the Board takes the sensible view that an industry or a unit of an industry is not necessarily inefficient because it fails to reach that high standard. Hence without departing from itideclared policy the Board is not prepared to refuse to recommend assistance to the tractor industry on the ground that the small section requiring assistance is inefficient.
Having quoted that, I come now to a consideration of the fact that many people find bounty payments objectionable. However, not withstanding one’s attitude to bounty payments, I submit that it would be illogical, and a bad economy, to cut off assistance by way of bounty to an enterprise which has overcome very great initial difficulties, is now producing a tractor that is very acceptable to the farming community, and appears to have at last reached the stage of profitable production.
Some take the view that duty protection would result in increased costs to the primary producer. This was certainly not in the mind of the Tariff Board, which recommended a protective duty in addition to the payment of the bounty. The board expressed its conviction in these words -
That the form of assistance in the future should be one of bounty-cum-duty, with the bounty element decreasing and the duty element increasing as circumstances from time to time necessitate.
It seems to me that the Government, in deciding to avoid any risk of increasing costs in key export industries by rejecting the recommendation of the Tariff Board, should have been consistent and realistic and amended the approved bounty by adding an appropriate amount to offset the duty protection.
The second point that I want to emphasize is that covered by the honorable member for Lalor. The exclusion of bounty payments of £200 a tractor on tractors between 55 and 80 horse-power is difficult to follow. The Tariff Board recommendation was quite clear that the bounty should be payable on tractors within this category. The report emphasizes that the multi-cylinder diesel engines which are imported for these larger tractors are subject to a 10 per cent, ad valorem duty, whereas a competitive tractor of United Kingdom origin is free from duty. My thought is that bounty to offset this duty would represent a sound and sensible incentive to the manufacturer. Furthermore, primary producers are eagerly seeking larger horsepower tractors in the interest of cost reduction and economy. With my little understanding of farming operations, I think I may say that the larger implement or several implements can often be used with the extra-powered tractor. I believe that in Queensland and Western Australia the general trend is towards the larger-sized tractor.
I have obtained from the company concerned some helpful observations in this connexion. They feel that their 70DA tractor was produced to fulfil an insistent demand by the largest farmers for a highpowered tractor capable of doing maximum work with minimum of labour, thereby reducing their production costs. This tractor, which is normally equipped with twin rear wheels, has proved to be much cheaper in heavy operation than many crawler type tractors. It has a gross weight of 10,000 lb. and will . pull approximately 8,000 lb at the draw bar. It is extremely important, not only to the company for which this bill is designed but, I think, to the Australian farmer, that assistance be given by way of bounty or protection with regard to those tractors which exceed 55 horsepower. It is quite apparent from a reading of the Tariff Board report at page 11 that the “ mark up “ on the landed costs of imported tractors for which there is no competition from Australian-made machines is higher than the “mark up” on landed costs for tractors where equivalent models, by way of horse-power, are made in Australia. Therefore, if this company is not protected in some way in the manufacture of tractors of over 55 horse-power it is perfectly clear that it must cease to manufacture such tractors even though Australian manufacturing efficiency is constantly improving.
I want to make this point : I have estimated that the additional cost by way of bounty, if this larger tractor were given bounty assistance, based on 50 per cent, of the Australian demand which would represent 250 tractors per annum, would be only an additional £50,000. I strongly urge the Government to reconsider the restrictions to which I have referred and to provide for the payment of the bounty on this larger tractor, that is, on tractors exceeding 55 horse-power but not in excess of 80 horse-power. 1 remind the Government that this is in line with the recommendation of the Tariff Board. If this be not possible, I recommend that at least the Tariff Board be requested to review in the light of the most recent statistics and information, this section of its report and its relationship to the present bill. At the same time, I strongly recommend to the Government that it should suitably increase the amount of the bounty payment on tractors due to the non-application of any protective tariff.
.- 1 regard this bill as another example of the inability of the Government, on essential matters, to take a really progressive step. I think that in a matter of this description in which the Government should have been generous, this bill unfortunately shows that it has been niggardly. I agree with the remarks that have been made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver). The recommendations which were made by the Tariff Board were five in number. The first was the continuation of the bounty which was fixed in 1952. Secondly, it recommended that a bounty of £200 should be provided on tractors of 55 belt pulley horse-power, manufactured in Australia. The board recommended a bounty to operate on tractors exported to Commonwealth territories. It recommended permission for the profit rate to be increased from 5 per cent, to not more than 10 per cent. Finally, it recommended a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem under British preferential tariff on imported tractors exceeding 30 maximum belt pulley horsepower.
Those five recommendations were made after a very extensive and a very careful inquiry. In the report that has been issued by the Tariff Board in respect of this matter, one finds a wealth of detail. A lot of information is given with respect to the submissions’ which were made by a large number of persons interested in tractor manufacture - by those who were opposed to it and by those who made submissions from the general community stand-point. In its report, the Tariff Board has analysed these submissions very carefully and, after due consideration, it has made a recommendation on the five points that I have mentioned.
One really has to read the Tariff Board report in order to appreciate how all these recommendations are bound together. I think it can be said that, after having made this very full inquiry and having made these recommendations, the Tariff Board believed that it had done something that would place the tractor industry on a firm foundation and enable it gradually to develop and be in a position to meet the great bulk of Australian productive requirements in respect of tractors of over 30 horse-power.
The position is, as has been stated by previous speakers, that two companies are vitally concerned in this matter. One is the International Harvester Company Proprietary Limited, a great international company which manufactures not only tractors but also agricultural implements. It is a world-wide organization which is backed by heavy capital, great assets and great resources. When that company established itself in Australia, it established itself as a manufacturing unit after it had built up and obtained a market in respect of both tractors and agricultural machinery by importations into this country. So it can be said that before the Internationa] Harvester Company Proprietary Limited actually came into Australia, it was already upon a firm foundation in the international sphere and that it simply brought into this country the necessary manufactures to meet a market which it had already, over the years, developed in this country. The second company is Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited, which, as previous speakers have pointed out, is an Australian company of fairly recent origin. Whereas International Harvester Company Proprietary Limited was, and is still, primarily a manufacturer of agricultural implements, Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited is primarily a manufacturer of tractors, although it does manufacture some agricultural implements. A bounty is now payable on terms similar to those proposed in the bill, but it is not payable on tractors in respect of which a profit in excess of 5 per cent, is earned. That probably is the reason why International Harvester Company Proprietary Limited has never sought the aid of the bounty. That company is an extremely profitable concern, and had it sought a bounty it probably would have been refused because of the size of the profits the company makes. I have no objection whatever to the proposal which is made by the Tariff Board for an increase in profit limitation from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent., but Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited is not concerned with such an alteration. This company is now breaking even, and possibly making a slight profit, but its profit is not as much as 5 per cent. It has no desire for a limitation to 10 per cent., but it does desire to have conditions in respect of this industry placed upon such a firm and strong foundation that it can, from now onwards, progress in the manufacture of tractors to the stage where, as a result of increased production, the industry may be put on » firm and permanent basis.
I believe that that was the desire of the Tariff Board, and that the board’s recommendations interlocked with one another so as to produce proper conditions for this industry. As pointed out by the honorable member for Lalor, of the five recommendations the two basic recommendations were the bountycumtariff proposals, and retention of the rate of bounty provided in 1952. The appendices to the report disclose the bounties fixed in 1952. From that time onwards the costs of labour and material have increased greatly. Those bounties varied from £80 to £240. This legislation provides that only those tractors with a horse-power in excess of 30 are covered, whereas under the current legislation tractors with a horsepower in excess of 10 and tip to 55 were covered. The proposal which to me teemed to be the foundation upon which the Tariff Board recommendations were made was for a continuance of the bounty fixed on prices in 1952, plus the imposition of the 5 per cent. British preferential tariff duty. It is interesting to examine the reasons given by the Minister for not adopting the recommendation in respect of tariff. Honor.able members will recollect that the Minister made a very brief speech on ibc matter and that he dismissed the very important question of the 5 per cent, tariff in a few words. His actual words were.- -
The Government cannot agree to grant insistance by means of the Customs Tariff, particularly at the present time, mainly because increased costs in key export industries would follow.
Those are the words with which the proposals made by the Tariff Board, after a very lengthy hearing, were dismissed. The Minister was of the opinion that implementation of the board’s proposal? might lead to increased costs in key industries. It is very interesting to refer ti> what the Tariff Board had to say i» respect of this matter. At page 11 of itreport, the board said -
At present the industry needs further assist ance than that provided by the present bounty scale and the Board considers that such assistance should be provided by a duty of 5 pei cent, in the British Preferential Tariff on imported tractors exceeding 30 m.b.p.h.p. with increases in rates other than the British Preferential Tariff in accordance with inter national commitments. In arriving at thi* conclusion the Board examined closely thi possible effect of a duty on the costs to users,, and believes that there is sufficient competition between different makes and sizes of tractor^ to prevent a general increase in costs. In tin 30 to 40 m.b.p.h.p. range for example the competition between the 37 m.b.p.h.p. tractor made in Australia and those between say 3ft and 40 m.b.p.h.p. imported would prevent an; general increase in the prices of the imported machines; there would also be a restraining influence on the prices of the 30 to 35 m.b.p.h.p tractors because those prices cannot draw nearer to those in the higher horse-power rangy without loss of sales to the higher horse power group. Although individual tractors may no’ be competitive there must be a relative stability in the differentials between the different groups; consequently the Board feels that thiimposition of a duty of 5 per cent, will have little effect on prices. For the time being the Board sees no necessity for a duty on im ported tractors over 10 but not exceeding 30 m.b.p.h.p.; the provision for bounty on tractors of this classification should remain, however, and the question of assistance to thi* section of the industry examined again in the light of developments between now and th* next occasion on which tractors are before tinBoard.
In the next paragraph we find the reason behind the recommendations -
The Board believes that the imposition of the small duty recommended will provide a greater stimulus to the industry than the provision of equivalent or even higher assistance in thi form of increased bounty. Its greatest value would be in its being an indication that futurepOliCy of assistance will favour tariff protection rather than the relatively insecure and restrictive method of bounty.
I believe that had the Tariff Board known that the Government was to follow the very unusual practice, as pointed out by my friend the honorable member for Lalor, of not accepting the board’s recommendations the board would have pro posed a higher bounty, because we must bear in mind that the bounty proposed in this measure is exactly the same as the bounty fixed in 1952, since when costs of both labour and material have substantially increased. Obviously, that bounty does not give the same protection to-day, when costs are so much higher, as it did in 1952. I suggest to the Minister that the board, in making its recommendations, had in mind the two factors which it believed were necessary in order to put this industry on a proper basis. I think that the Minister is just as eager to see this industry placed on a proper basis as I am, or as are the honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Lalor. The question is: How can we do it? We want to place this industry, efficient as it is - I think it is admitted by all that the industry is extremely efficient - on a basis where it gradually can free itself from all assistance.
If a duty of 5 per cent, would stimulate production, and, perhaps, increase capital investment in the industry, it would be a sound long-range policy to impose a duty at that rate to enable the industry to become independent. Like the honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member for Swan, I very strongly urge the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) to give further consideration to this tariff in conjunction with the recommendations which were made by the Tariff Board, if he cannot at this stage take the action I have suggested. I believe the board, in making its recommendations, followed a plan which it believed would give the best results. If some of the features of the plan are eliminated, it will fail to give the results that were expected. In order to demonstate that the imposition of a tariff does not necessarily increase costs, I refer to page eleven of the Tariff Board’s report, which states -
The Board believes, however, that the existence of a local industry has had the effect of keeping prices to users at lower levels than they would otherwise have been.
The board then made this significant statement -
Distributors’ margins on types not made in Australia are noticeably higher than on those that are and the Board believes that an extension of the range of local production would cause further reduction in margins.
Tractors that come into Australia under by-law without the payment of duty are sold in South Africa and in New Zealand at prices lower than the price in Australia. Tractors are an essential item of capital equipment for primary producers, and importers who have no competition in the local market are able to charge any price they like. Although the primary producer may think he is getting his tractor at the lowest possible price, if there is no competition from local production, he will pay more than the producers in South Africa and New Zealand pay.
I know my friends in the Australian Country party will say that the primary producer is up against a lot of difficulties and that the Government wants to keep the costs of primary production down. One can understand that, but I point out that primary producers are not the only people who have to make sacrifices. I speak now from the stand-point of trade unionists, who also are making sacrifices to-day, because they are unable to keep pace with the rising cost of living. The freezing of wages, and other restrictions, prevent them from getting as much benefit from their wages as they received in the past.
I should like to point out that 7,000 Chamberlain tractors are in use in Australia, and they are believed to give efficient service. If 7,000 primary producers find these tractors satisfactory is it not possible that many others also will find them satisfactory? I am reliably informed that the life of a tractor is approximately fifteen years. An increase of the price by 5 per cent, would add very little to the costs of primary production if the increased price were written off over fifteen years. I mention that point so that honorable members may appreciate exactly what the position is. I again emphasize that, if we want to do the right thing by this industry, we must bear in mind that the Tariff Board has recommended the payment to the local tractor industry of a bounty based upon 1952 prices, plus a British preferential tariff at 5 per cent, based upon present prices. If one of these concessions is not given, the other must receive further consideration. If the preferential tariff is not imposed, it will be necessary substantially to increase the bounty based on 1952 costs, because the industry is now producing at 1956 costs. If this were not done the industry could not contribute to Australia’s development.
I wish to mention also the Tariff Board’s second recommendation, which reads -
That the Tractor Bounty Act 1939-1953 be amended to provide for payment of bounty on tractors exceeding 55 m.b.p.h., when fitted with an imported engine, of £200 per tractor.
I think the Minister is aware, though he is a busy man and he may have forgotten, that Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited manufactures tractors of approximately 75 to 80 maximum belt pulley horse-power. They are powered by engines produced in the United States of America. The competitors of this company are able to import machines of a similar type duty free under by-law, but the company pays a 10 per cent, duty on the engines. This undoubtedly places the Australian manufacturer in a very difficult position. I am sure the Minister will find, if he makes inquiries, that what I have said is correct.
I do not desire to go over the ground traversed by the honorable member for Swan, who pointed out that there is a tendency to-day for primary producers to favour tractors of greater horse-power. That is a good thing. Farmers producing on a large scale find it essential to have high-powered machines. At very little additional cost, Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited could increase the power of their 55 horse-power tractor to 60 horse-power, which would admirably meet the needs of many farmers and would enable the Chamberlain tractor to compete with the imported machine of CO horse-power. But, because the company desires to qualify for the bounty, it is unable to increase the horse-power of the tractor. That is undesirable. According to the figures I have been given, the demand for tractors of higher horse-power is not very great at the present time, and the company could easily supply half Australia’s annual requirements of tractors in the 40 horse-power, 55 horse-power. 60 horse-power, and 70 to 80 horse-power classes if the bounty were given for the higher-powered machines. I suggest that the Minister give further consideration to the Tariff Board’s second recommendation. I believe that, if he does so, he will realize that the recommendations constitute a composite plan designed to achieve worth-while results.
– In fact, Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited is changing to a United Kingdom motor which will be imported duty-free.-
– I understand that is so, but that motor has only recently come on the market. But the question then arises whether there should be a refund of duty on the engines they have imported. If the Minister will agree to give consideration to that matter, that will be something to be thankful for.
I conclude my remarks by stressing once again that the two key recommendations are those in relation to the bounty and the tariff. I believe it would be in the interests of the Government, the primary producers and the community generally to introduce a bountycumtariff. The greater is the production of tractors, the lower will be (he cost. That is the road to lower prices that should he followed by the Government. Our objective should be the long-range objective. If the Minister will consider the proposals that have been made by the honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Swan and myself, as well as the proposals which, no doubt, will be made by other honorable members, I am sure that the tractor industry will be placed on a proper footing.
.- It is refreshing for “Western Australian members to find that at least some members of this House in addition to themselves are prepared to advocate the cause of that State. That recognition, that “Western Australia is an important part of the Commonwealth raises some hope in the hearts of “Western Australian members that there is a chance of salvation for this Parliament. “We are dealing with proposals to continue the payment of a bounty on tractors of various sizes manufactured in Australia and to impose a tariff duty on certain types of imported tractors. Aa previous speakers have pointed out, the beneficiary, if I may so describe it, under past legislation and the legislation that we are considering now is Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited, a Western Australian firm which produces various kinds of tractors and other agricultural machinery of a very high standard. It has been said that the Government is acting wrongly in not giving effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board. I agree with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that it is most unusual for a government not to adopt recommendations made by the Tariff Board, or to depart from them to the extent proposed in this instance.
– This is the first time.
– I am not prepared to say that this is the first time that that has been done, because I am not sure of the facts. However, it is unusual. The point I want to make is that it is singularly unfortunate that the industry that has been singled out for this unusual treatment is a Western Australian industry.
– That is why.
– There may be something in the remark of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), although I do not think there is. However, it is a fact that, once again, this small State, as the honorable member for Lalor persisted in describing it, despite my shouted objections-
– Small in population, but large in outlook.
– The honorable member’s apology is accepted. This vast State, with potentialities exceeding those of any other part of the Commonwealth, has been singled out for this unusual treatment. I, too, want to say that I am not very happy about that. I do not mind the decision with regard to the tariff. Let me say that straight out. I disagree with the honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) in that regard, but I agree with them entirely in regard to the bounty recommendations made by the company with respect to the more powerful tractors.
– An increased bounty in lieu of duty?
– I should be happy to see an increased bounty in lieu of duty. The honorable member for Lalor suggested that the decision by the Government not to impose the tariff duties suggested might have been due to the influence of the Australian Country party. Let me assure the honorable member that he is being unduly generous in suggesting that this little corner group has such influence with the Government. But the protests that members of the Country party have made to the Tariff Board and to this Parliament through the years in connexion with tariff protection obviously had some effect on the Tariff Board. The board, at page nine of its report, stated-
The Board concedes the soundness of the arguments advanced on behalf of the primary industries as to the undesirability of increasing costs of production through higher prices being charged for tractors, when the products produced with such equipment have to be sold on the open market at world prices.
That is what we have been telling this Parliament through the years.
– Bead on.
– I shall read on. On page 11 of the report, the board stated -
The Board is strongly impressed with the need for keeping down costs of primary production and considers that the time is inopportune for assisting the tractor industry by duty instead of by bounty.
We have urged consistently that the tariff burden imposed on the primary industries is beyond their capacity to bear. The honorable member for Lalor referred to the recently increased tariff on rayon and similar goods. I shall not enter into an argument now about the merits or demerits of tariff duties imposed on consumer goods, but I point out that there is a vital difference between tariff duties imposed on consumer goods and tariff duties imposed on capital equipment, because the latter duties cause an increase of the costs of production of a section of producers in this country which is not given any protection in return. As the Tariff Board pointed out, those producers have to sell their goods on the open market.
There are some remarkable instances of the injustice caused by tariff protection. Let me refer to what must be by now a classic example. A few years ago, the producers of corrugated iron in this country received from the Government protection and assistance equivalent to the wages paid by them. The result was that, owing to the very high tariff duty imposed to protect the Australian industry, the cost of imported corrugated iron became prohibitive. Similar considerations apply to agricultural machinery of all kinds. Because of the tariff protection that was given to the agricultural machinery industry of this country, primary producers had to pay from £120 to £130 for machines which could be bought in Canada for £70 or 680. The machines available in Canada were manufactured there by the company that was producing similar machines in Australia. They could have been landed here at many pounds below the price which primary producers had to pay for the machines produced locally. The primary producer gained no benefit from the tariff because the difference between the price of the Australian-produced machine and the price of the imported machine was so small. So the primary producer, who was producing the basic wealth of this country, and who had to sell on an unprotected market in Australia, and to take his chance on open markets abroad, was being forced to pay high prices for capital equipment in order to protect a secondary industry whose products were so high in price that for many people primary production became not only unprofitable, but absolutely impossible. Is it any wonder that the primary producer eventually decided that, as he could not change the unwise national policy of protecting both the interests of industry and the interests of the employees, which were protected by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, he would ask for subsidies and bounties? The only reason why primary producers requested subsidies and bounties was to give them protection against the protectionist policy of this country. They had to have subsidies and bounties in order to enable them to continue to exist. That is the reason why the Australian Country party has consistently opposed the imposition of excessive tariffs, particularly on capital goods required for the production of the commodities on which we rely for our overseas funds.
The Tariff Board points out, and quotes figures to support its statement, that both the companies concerned in the tractor industry in Australia are unable to meet the Australian demand for tractors. What would be the position if additional tariff were imposed on imported tractors? The primary producers who need tractors, and who cannot buy them locally because the demand exceeds the supply, would be called upon, quite unjustifiably and unnecessarily, to pay additional costs. If the industry could meet the whole of the Australian demand there might be come reason for taking action to keep imported tractors out; but it is neither reasonable nor logical to make primary producers carry an extra cost burden because the nationa! policy is protectionist.
– The duties would be imposed on only a small proportion of tractors used.
– That small proportion is sufficient to affect the position very seriously. Both the honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member for Bendigo have repeated the statement that the imposition of tariffs has not increased the prices of capital goods to the user. No matter how much honorable members may argue on that point, the fact is that tariffs have increased the prices of overseas commodities and also the prices of similar local commodities. I will not go so far as to say that it has been a general practice for some of the protected industries to engage in some measure of exploitation, but that has not been unknown. Recently the Tariff Board said, in connexion with the prices of imported articles -
It appears from the confidential information available to the Board that the benefit of dutyfree admission of tractors under the British Preferential Tariff is not reaching the primary producer.
On the same page the board says -
It is clear that the retail price structure in Australia is much higher, notwithstanding that imports from the United Kingdom are admitted free nf duty under the British Preferential Tarin*.
There is no guarantee that in the event of a tariff being imposed the distributors of imported tractors would absorb the duty so that the primary producer would not be called upon to bear the additional costs. The position to-day is that, despite the fact that the local tractor industry cannot meet the Australian demand, and tractors have to be imported, there is not sufficient competition. The primary producer finds he is called upon to pay a higher price for both the local article and the overseas article than circumstances warrant. This is one of the best days we of the Australian Country party have ever experienced, because at long last the Tariff Board has recognized that there is injustice to the primary producing industries in imposing tariff burdens in respect of their requirements. 1 said earlier that I regretted that Western Australia had been singled out for this unusual departure by the Government from the common practice. 1 point out to the Minister and the House that the position is not a happy one for Western Australia, which suffers severely from the national protectionist policy.
– Nothing produced in Western Australia is protected by tariff.
– I agree. Western Australia’s imports from the eastern States for the year ended the 30th June, 1955, were worth £91,000,000.
– Not enough.
– The honorable member for Gippsland says, “Not enough”. Bless my soul, Victoria, the State from which lie comes, is bleeding us now, and vat he says that it is not wringing enough Mood out of this hardest-working State in the Commonwealth, Western Australia ! The expenditure of all that money by Western Australia in Victoria means, in effect, that every wage-earner :r.i Western Australia is taking £6 from vis pocket every week and sending it to Victoria. Is not that a. big contribution o make to the economy of this country? 1 point out, also, that the majority of the goods that Western Australia buys from Victoria, are produced behind a protective tariff barrier. If the Western Australians wanted to spend this money overseas they would find that, apart from import restrictions - a temporary circum stance, we hope - they could not do it. just as they could not do it in the past, because of the protective tariff which ensures that industries in the eastern States shall continue to operate at th, expense of Western Australia. As the honorable member for Fremantle has reminded us, Western Australia has almost no protected industries. For the year ended June, 1955, exports from Western Australia to the eastern State? totalled £24,000,000. They consisted mainly of primary products - unprotected goods for which we had to accept whatever price the eastern States money grabbers cared to pay.
– Oh, no !
– When honorable mein bers, including the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), say that Western Australia is not buying enough from thi eastern States, or that it is receiving too large a share of the money that has been paid to the Commonwealth Treasury, and part of which it has contributed in tat first place, it is obvious that those honorable members are very selfish and are looking too much to their own interest? The trading between the eastern State* and Western Australia yields a balance in favour of the eastern States of £67,000,000 a year.
– That has to be balanced by exporting goods overseas.
– As the honorable member for Fremantle points out, that has to be balanced by overseas trading. Overseas exports for the year ended June, 195F-. totalled £72,000,000.
– Is not the honorablet ,7 eln ber an Australian ?
– I often hear that que? tion asked. The attitude of the Victorian is that everybody should adopt his point nf view and that, if one doe..= not. he i> not an Australian.
– Be fair.
– I aru being fair. 1 have heard too often this reference to being an Australian. The eastern State.should realize that Western Australia is a part of Australia, and that it is entitled to be regarded as being a part of Australis and not the milch cow that it evidently is considered to be. Let me point on? how adversely tariff protection affects Western Australia. I again emphasize that the big prices that Western Australia pays for goods imported from the eastern States, the value of which is £91,000,000 a year, and for which it must pay with the money it receives for goods sold overseas on the open market, are the result of tariff protection. Western Australia also contributes towards the maintenance of those industries that receive bounties and subsidies. In addition, that State is called upon to pay extremely high transport charges, so that, by the time the goods reach it, they are very costly. On top of all these charges sales tax has to be paid, and of course this is assessed, not on the original wholesale price, but on that price plus the high transport and other charges. .
– Western Australia cannot expect to get goods for nothing.
– The honorable member says that we cannot expect to get goods for nothing, but we expect a fair crack of the whip. I am not able to support the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) in their plea for the Government to adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board, not only because I am a member of the Australian Country party and am protecting the interests of the primary producer, but also because I am a good Western Australian. I am sure the honorable member for Fremantle will adopt a similar attitude, and I feel sure that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) will support me when I say that we must protect the interests of Western Australia. I support the Government in its decision not to impose a tariff on these tractors. I add my plea to that of the honorable member for Swan, who said that the local industry should be assisted by increasing the bounty to make up for whatever tariff protection was recommended by the board.
.- I should like to plead with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) on behalf of Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited in Western Australia. A long period of time must have elapsed since a secondary industry in that State was the subject of a plea for tariff protection. The matter has been very carefully investigated by the Tariff Board, and at page eight of its report it directs attention to the steps that have been taken by this company to reduce its costs of production. It has taken very far-reaching steps indeed. The board has pointed out that the company has acquired modern precision machinery, that it has installed centrifugal casting machines to enable castings to be used in place of some costly forgings, that it proposes to increase its output by these means to 5,000 tractors per annum, and that it proposes to reduce interstate transport costs.
The history of tariff protection in Australia shows that it has been blatantly political, and that tariffs have been granted where there are concentrations of political power. In the years before the war, the tariff policy of the Commonwealth was contrived by New South Wales and Victoria, and it very largely remains that way. Of course, I think that its basis has been one of historical accident. I do not accept the viewpoint that the Australian Country party has a history of consistent philosophic opposition to tariffs in its espousal of free trade. The Australian tariff structure was built up after World War I. by the Bruce-Page Government, and it would not have been possible of achievement without the support of the Page segment of that Government.
This is one occasion on which the recommendation for tariff protection is directed at an important industry in Western Australia - one that is not located in a centre of political power. For defence reasons, the Government has been adopting a policy of decentralization of industry. I think that its attitude in relation to this matter will tend towards the closing down of this industry in Western Australia. I have received from Chamberlain Industries ProprietaryLimited a letter containing a request which, I understand, has been made direct to the Government, and which I believe isreasonable. The letter reads -
Should the Government for some reason not see fit to impose a duty of 5 per cent., then this company is asking that the bounty rates bc increased in order that the full measure of assistance, as recommended by the Board, i» actually received.
Frequently, tariffs have been framed by the Commonwealth Government in order to enable companies in the eastern States that are selling to Western Australia to sell behind tariff protection, and with a cost structure that will permit the payment of freights on goods going to the Western Australian market. Economically, Western Australia is the agricultural colony which buys the manufactured goods of the eastern States.
In this case, it is recommended that the tariff protection should cover Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited when selling in the eastern States, where it markets 60 per cent. of its products. It would mean granting to a Western Australian industry what has been granted frequently to industries in the eastern States. I understand that the Government still has the matter under consideration, and I hope that it will give its attention to the points I have raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
. -I rise only to make well known the disgraceful features of this legislation.
– Does the honorable member intend to repeat all he said in his second-reading speech?
– No, but I. shall say something about dates.
– The honorable member said that three times in his previous speech.
– I hope the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) will have something worth while to say later and will make a suitable apology. He need not get cross about it. The existing bounty expired on the 23rd October, 1955. The report of the Tariff Board was in the hands of the Government on the 14th October, 1955 - a little more than a week before the hounty expired. Yet this bill does not come before the Parliament until June, 1956.
Sitting suspended from 11.32p.m. to
Friday22, June 1956.
– I want to obtain some information from the Minister. The hounty expired on the 23rd October, 1955, hut we did not get this legislation until this middle period of 1956.
– There was an election in 1955 and a very busy session.
– The interval is unconscionably long. I should like the Minister to inform me what sum was paid or will be paid between the time the hounty expired and the time that this bill becomes law. What authority was there for paying the bounty, or does the Government intend to pay outstanding liabilities when this bill is enacted?
– If the honorable member read the bill, he would know.
– The Minister is in charge of the bill and I should like him to tell me.
– The answer is that the bounty is extended from the 23rd October.
– Has any bounty been paid to people who built tractors since the 23rd October, 1955? The legislation authorizing the payment of bounty expired in October of last year. Have the people who built tractors since then been paid? If they have been paid, under what authority?
– No, they have not been paid. This bill will authorize payment.
– Therefore, through the negligence of the Government, people who are entitled to the payment of bounty have not been paid. I cannot understand the reason for the prolonged delay. What is the explanation? The Government has had ample time to consider the Tariff Board’s report. Did the Government want to get the Western Australian elections out of the road, because it would have been unpopular to discuss this issue at the time those elections were in the offing? Did the Government refrain from introducing the bill before Christmas of last year because it knew it was going to an election ? Why did it fiddle around with this very important industry? Was it known that this industry would be crucified? Wau chat information deliberately withheld from the public for such a long period, or have unauthorized payments been made in that period? Those are important matters, and we are entitled to hear something from the Minister about them. I leave the matter there.
– Order! The question is that the bill be agreed to.
.Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– The question that the bill be agreed to has been put.
– It has not been passed. The Minister will not bluff his way out of this. I am entitled to another period of ten minutes in the committee stage.
– The honorable member said he would leave the matter.
– I was prepared to leave the matter until I saw whether the Minister would reply to the questions that have been put to him.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 29th May (vide page 2522), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this bill and wishes it a speedy passage through this House. It is fitting, however, that a few remarks should be made with respect to the efforts of the trade union movement and the Labour movement over a period of years to fight for such advancement as the long service leave provision has been to those engaged in the coal-minirig industry. I can well recall the fight by members of the miners’ federation, and those engaged in the trade union movement generally, to bring about reforms in the industry. I can recall, also, the bitter opposition of those who owned the coal mines and how they fought to prevent such advances as thi.taking place. Contrary to the view of those who cried havoc and predicted the destruction of the industry, the provision of long service leave has now been accepted and is rightly regarded as a necessary condition to employer-employee relationships.
This bill proposes to extend these benefits in certain respects. This is only an extension of Labour party legislation and . in drawing the attention of the House to the original Labour legislation in regard to this matter, I must pay a compliment to organized labour, those in the trade union movement and those whogave their time in the political activity of th” working people to bring about reforms such as this. I congratulate those people who played their part in that direction This bill extends, and accepts, the principle that was soundly laid down.
– Order! I think that the honorable member should deal withthe bill.
– Clause 2 of the bill reads as follows: -
Section three of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - “ (6.) Income derived from the investment of moneys standing to the credit of the Fund forms part of the Fund “
That seems to me to be a quite obvious development. If, by that alteration certain employees in coal mines in the various States will be able to obtain increased benefits and share the long service leave provisions that have been made available to miners in other col l ieries, then this bill will have the support of every honorable member in this chamber. The long struggle of the working people of this country has been rewarded. It gives Opposition members in this House tremendous satisfaction to know that a fight which was started from very difficult beginnings has been won. This struggle began when organized labour was almost a disorganized rabble. when the working people in the coalmining industry would go out to win coal, to make the wheels of industry turn, very often when the sun had hardly risen, and would return from the colliery with the sun almost setting. This legislation gives to those engaged in the industry an opportunity to enjoy long service leave, and it is certainly a boon to the industry. Since the provision for long service leave has been in operation the production of coal has increased tremendously. Only last year, despite the fact that the number of people engaged in the industry had decreased, the production of coal increased. There are dismal Jeremiahs in this country who foretold that the granting of long service leave would ruin Australia, but experience has proved that it has resulted in increased production. The fact that miners have been able to go out in the sunshine, to relax and to rebuild their tissues, has not only been good for those engaged in the industry, but has also resulted in benefits for the nation as a whole. I commend the measure, and I wish it a speedy passage through this chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill to amend the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Act 1949-1950.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed).
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment) :
Clause 9 -
Where, after the commencement of this Act, the Authority establishes a register of waterside workers at a port, the Authority shall declare, . . .
Senates Amendment. - After “port,” insert “ other than a port at which, immediately before the commencement of this Act, a register of waterside workers was maintained in pursuance of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949-1954,”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The committee will remember that when this measure was being considered on an earlier occasion, and the definition of “ union “ was queried by honorable gentlemen opposite, I pointed out the intentions of the Government, but made the offer to give favorable consideration to the adoption of a form of words that might be devised which, in the opinion of honorablegentlemen opposite, would express even more clearly the Government’s intentions. I understand that, in another place, an amendment in these terms was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, I am sure I can look for prompt and whole-hearted concurrence by my friend, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), and those who sit behind him on this occasion.
– The Minister has pointed out that the wording of this amendment was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition in another place. For that reason we accept the amendment. The amendment, in my opinion, makes clearer the definition of “ Union “, and from that point of view is a slight improvement in an otherwise bad bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 7 - “16bs. - (1.) In this Division, unless the contrary intention appears - industrial matters ‘ means all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and waterside workers and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes -
any industrial dispute, including any matter which may be a contributory cause of such a dispute; and
Senate’s Amendment No. 1. - In paragraph (n), leave out “industrial”, insert “industry “.
. This amendment is intended to correct a printing error and, accordingly, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– The amendment merely corrects a typographical error and makes the bill read intelligibly. The Opposition does not oppose the amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 10 -
Part IV. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Part inserted in its stead: - “Part IV. - The Commonwealth Industrial Court. “41. - (1.) The Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine an appeal from a judgment, decree, order or sentence of a State court (not being a Supreme Court) or of a court of a Territory of the Commonwealth made, given or pronounced in a matter arising under -
Part V. of the Coal Industry Act 1946-1952; or (c) the Public Service Arbitration Act 1920-1956.
Senate’s Amendment No. 2. - Leave out paragraph (b) of sub-section (1.) of proposed section 41.
– The committee will recall that when I had before the House the bill which linked the general arbitration system with the coal industry, I explained that it had been the practice to obtain the consent of the Government of New South “Wales to such legislation. That concurrence has been obtained, but we were requested to omit the reference to the coal industry from this clause. That is the purpose of the amendment. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– It is important that the coal industry . should remain outside the ambit of the bill, and we accept the amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the report be adopted.
I ask the indulgence of the House to make a very short, but sincerely appreciative, reference to the work of the draftsman and his staff in connexion with the two bills which we have just had before us. The bills rank, I think, amongst the most complex that I have ever had to deal with in the course of my parliamentary experience. A very capable job has been done - not without difficulties - by the draftsman and his staff, and I should like to place on record my own appreciation, that of the Government and, I am sure, that of the Parliament also, of what these gentlemen have done. If I may, I should also like to add my personal appreciation of the work of members of the staff of the Department of Labour and National Service. They have displayed remarkable application and ability so far as these two complex and important measures are concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As Chairman, I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.
The following hills were returned from the Senate, without amendment : -
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1956.
Rayon Yarn Bounty Bill 1956.
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1956.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill 1956.
Navigation Bill 1956.
Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court
Evidence Bill 1956.
Judges Pensions Bill 1956.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1956.
Coal Industry Bill 1956.
Motion (by SirEric Harrison) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to all members of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Sir EricHarrison) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Valedictory - Television - Mr. Speak er.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
It may be of interest to honorable members, who have discharged their duties during a very onerous series of sittings, to learn that the number of sittings which we have recorded this year - 50 - has been the highest since 1945 for the first half of a year. Also the Parliament has sat for a greater number of hours, namely 471, than in the first half of any year since 1931. Therefore, it appears that we have been on the verge of establishing records for both the number and the extent of sittings. I should like to thank honorable members for their co-operation in making this remarkable performance possible. I might say that I have not recorded the number of times that I have applied the gag, but I think that honorahle members will agree that I have probably established an all-time record. However, this has been necessary in order that legislation should be dealt with by the Parliament, and I believe that every honorable member has had an adequate opportunity to express himself in the way that he wished.
– I should like to thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the officers who have helped us in the House, and the staffs of the various parliamentary services for the assistance that they have given during a very strenuous session. It was obvious at an early stage that a great deal of legislation would be hurried through before the 30th June. I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) will admit that that had to be done. It imposed great strain upon the draftsmen and led to hasty consideration of hills, the effect of which will, doubtless, be observed hereafter, when they are examined more closely by those whom they are intended to hind. I believe that to be fair comment, but on behalf of the Opposition I would like to thank the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) for the occasional merciful treatment that he has given us. He does hold the world’s record for the gag. It is unnecessary for me to assert it because he claims it himself. It is a record, but the record that I should like to have is the record that is being announced on the wireless at present.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to congratulate you on the very splendid job that you have done, especially towards the end of this session. When you hear anything of a congratulatory nature from me, you are certainly hearing it from one who speaks unwillingly. I must say that if I were to give way to my earlier prejudice I would not want to say anything good about your rulings. But your rulings during the past few weeks have forced me to the conclusion that in that period at any rate, you have done a very excellent job in the chair. I want to let the House and you, in particular, know that I feel that you have done an excellent job. Your decision on insisting on a division on the adjournment when that was called for was good, and it is noteworthy that since you have insisted on having a division when one was called for, none has been called. The fact that you have not insisted on the strict interpretation of the Standing Orders in relation to the mentioning of names during question time is a great improvement on what has been the practice in the past, because it is often impossible to ask a question intelligently without mentioning a name. I think that that is another good example of good speakership on your part.
I want now to deal briefly with a matter which I hope the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) will be able to look at during the recess, and give me an answer in due course. It concerns television. 1 should like the Postmaster-General to check these facts, but I understand that after an intensive study of the problems encountered and the mistakes made in the early design of receivers for television reception in the United States of America and elsewhere, the Australian BroadcastLug Control Board has determined a series of technical standards to be observed in the production of receivers for use in Australia.
Another thing that has come to my notice is that in spite of the fact that this series of standards has been recognized by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, there has been a company established in Australia with head-quarters in Sydney and Melbourne called the Admiral Radio and Television Company which, we believe, is carrying on a policy that ignores the recommendations of the board with relation to the choice of the intermediate frequency channels in the manufacture of its television receivers. We have it on fairly good authority that the use of 21 megacycle system intermediate frequency channels in America has been discontinued and that the parts that have been rejected as a result of the change of policy in America have now been sent to Australia to be used by this company in the sets which it will be manufacturing for sale to the Australian people.
Therefore, I should like the PostmasterGeneral to find out whether it is a fact that this particular company is using printed circuits which are not manufactured here but which have been obtained from America with import licences granted by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne), who is smiling about this matter. I tell him that it really is not a smiling matter. I should like to know whether, in fact, these printed circuits will produce an article which will not give the satisfactory service to the purchaser which, I think, the board hoped would be given.
– Have these been rejected in the United States of America ?
– These have been rejected in the United States. I do not make the assertion, I just say that it has been reported that this company has purchased large quantities of these rejected printed circuits for use in the sets which it will be manufacturing for sale in Australia. I merely say it has been reported, and I ask the Postmaster-General to make inquiries into the matter to find out whether it is true that the standards laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are, in fact, being ignored by this company. If the inquiries reveal that the standards are not being ignored and are in fact being observed, then no harm has been done. If, on the other hand, it is discovered that our standards have been ignored, now is the time for the Government to step in so as to protect the Australian purchaser of these particular articles.
Finally, I ask the Minister to confer with the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who knows quite a deal about this matter, to see whether it is possible for the Government to establish a trade mark of its own or some mark of standardization which manufacturers of television sets, though not forced to use, may use if their television sets meet the requirements of the standards set by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board so that when the people go into shops to buy television sets, they will be able to look for the mark of distinction or the government trade mark or government certificate which will indicate to the purchasers whether or not the articles that they wish to buy are in accordance with those standards.
– It will be done.
– Nobody has mentioned the illness of Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) and, I think, if I might presume to say so, that every honorable member in this House wishes Mr. Speaker a speedy return to good health. We are very sorry about his continued ill health. I should like to have a parting shot at the departing VicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison). A few nice things-
– I know of uo more pleasing moment than this to move -
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mrr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. C. F. Adermann). - Strictly speaking the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has prevented me from expressing my thanks to the officers of the House. Nevertheless, I shall exercise my rights as Mr. Deputy Speaker because I should like to express my thanks to the officers of the House - the SerjeantatArms as well as the Clerks - for the very able and continued assistance that they have given to me. [ should also like to thank those honorable members who expressed their thanks to me to-night. I thank all members of the House for their co-operation. 1 have the pleasure to report that Mr. Speaker is improving in health. He is allowed to get out of bed and take some exercise. He has been advised to go to a warm place, such as Queensland. We shall soon cure him up there and he will be right again.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.39 a.m. (Friday), to a date and hour to he fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister forthe Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. The right honorable the Prime Minister has furnished information aboutthe estimated cost of structural alterations and fur nishings to office accommodation for the right honorable the member for Cowper in the Com monwealth Bank Building, Sydney. I under stand that this was done by letter in the first place and by a more detailed answer which appeared in notice-paper No. 36 of the 28th May. The Prime Minister gave estimated costs on that occasion and I have since ascertained that the actual cost is now avail able. This is £161 less than the estimated cost, the final figures being £510 for structural alterations and £641 for furniture and furnishings. I do not propose, unless in structed by this House, to furnish more detailed information than has already been supplied by the Prime Minister.
z asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The answers to the honormember’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies : -
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following replies: -
This price was considered excessive and wau, for that reason, rejected. Fresh tenders weretherefore called.
Government Grants in Aid.
t asked the Treasurer, uponnotice -
– The detailed information has now been obtained fromthe departments concerned and, in summary, is -
hitlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following replies : - 1 to 5. Replies incorporated on attached statements A to E.
Question No. 1. - (1) What are the classifications for medical technologists in the Repatriation Department?
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 June 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560621_reps_22_hor11/>.