23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DALY presented a petition from 940 citizens of Australia praying that the House will -
Petition received and read.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister for Supply a question relating to the inquiry made by the Mayor of Cessnock about the possibility of acquiring some of the surplus Army blankets under the control of his department. Alderman Gleghorn has done a great job in the district in very difficult circumstances and I ask the Minister to try to give his request urgent and favorable consideration.
– I cannot say whether any surplus blankets are available from the Army at the present time. Where a charity is involved in this type of application, we usually, on request, endeavour to negotiate a price for the purchase of blankets. I will have an investigation made to ascertain whether any blankets are available. If the right honorable gentleman prefers me to do so, I will make direct contact with Alderman Gleghorn.
– Has the
Minister for the Interior any knowledge of a proposal to sell the government wool store at Portland? In view of the fact that trade is being built up through this modern port and. that eventually it is hoped to hold wool sales there, will the Minister consider sympathetically the effect of any action he may take concerning this store on the future development of Portland? Will he do what he can to ensure that the wool store is not disposed of in such a way as would prevent it playing its proper part in the future development of this great port?
– The wool store at Portland was one of a number of wool stores built or to be built for the purposes of the appraisal scheme during the second world war. At the end of the war, the structure was unfinished and, in fact, it has never been used for the purposes for which it was constructed. For a number of years the building was used by the Department of Supply, but that department no longer has any use for it. The Government would be very happy to consider any proposal which would result in the store being used for the purpose for which it was originally built. At the present time, however, there seems to be no possibility that that sort of use can be found for it. I would be very happy to consider any proposals put forward by the honorable member for Wannon or any of the authorities in the Portland area which would enable the Government to prevent this asset from wasting away and assist, at the same time, in the development of that district.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I wish to know whether it is a fact that in 1947, during the debate on a bill to increase parliamentary allowances, the right honorable gentleman and other members of the present Government, including the Prime Minister, expressed unqualified opposition to any increase in parliamentary salaries while wage pegging remained? If it is a fact, will the Treasurer explain what has led him to reverse completely the viewpoint he so strongly expressed on that occasion?
– It is not a fact that I took the attitude that the honorable gentleman attributes to me. My speech is recorded in “ Hansard “ and, as I recall it, the view taken by members of the Opposition at that time, of whom I was one, was this: As the government of the day had provided by way of a national security regulation for the pegging of wages for all other sections of the community, and as the Opposition had not had any opportunity to present a viewpoint on the proposals to a suitable tribunal, we should move - and we did move - for the appointment of a select committee of the Parliament so that all viewpoints could be considered before the matter was disposed of finally. The situation then was very different from that which exists at present. There is no pegging of wages now. The basic wage is reviewed annually by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. This year, a full opportunity was provided for members of the Opposition to present whatever views any of them, individually or collectively, might have held to the committee set up for the purpose of examining this matter. My recollection is that after we had voted for the appointment of a select committee in 1947, I expressed my own support for the decision of the Parliament and acted accordingly. Others can speak for themselves, but that is my recollection of what went on at that time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister heard of the opinion expressed bv Australian farmers well experienced in clearing scrub land that a great deal of land in Japan, estimated to be some 10.000.000 acres, could be cleared by methods commonly used in Australia? Is the Minister aware of the recent gift to an agricultural research station in Japan of a stump-jump scrub-clearing plough by the Australian Society of Friends, or Quakers, at a cost of £400? Does not the Minister feel that here we have an opportunity to do something really constructive by helpins bv precept and example, either through the Colombo Plan or the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, this new development in friendly co-operation between our two countries?
– I have not heard of the gift by the Society of Friends that the honorable gentleman has mentioned. I have heard that there is land, possibly scrub land, in the island of Hokkaido, the most northern island of Japan, that might come within the description he has given. However, 1 shall be glad to have any further information the honorable gentleman can give me, because it is possible, as he suggests, that something constructive could be done.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. As he will be aware, there has been a great deal of concern at the recent ruling of the High Court with regard to preference to returned soldiers. I therefore ask the honorable gentleman: Is it possible for this Government to take any action, legislative or otherwise, to restore the relevant powers to the Commonwealth?
– Lawyers are sometimes accused of giving bad opinions at the kerbside. I will have to be careful that I do not give bad opinions at the dispatch box. May T say that the High Court has ruled that there is no constitutional power in this Parliament at this time to make a law giving preference to returned men generally. The provision which has been declared to be invalid for want of constitutional power covered not merely employment by the Commonwealth, and not only 1914-1918 men and men of the last war, but also men from Malaya and Korea. The provision, I think, is not susceptible of division so as to make it good as to some of these classes although bad as to others. Consequently, the Commonwealth needs to examine the question - and there are, no doubt, matters of policy involved in it - whether the provisions need to be replaced with respect to Commonwealth employees and with respect to men from Korea and Malaya. There would be constitutional power with respect to those classes, and yesterday the Treasurer indicated that at the moment the Commonwealth is continuing, notwithstanding the High Court decision, the policy of preference in the Commonwealth service. My colleague, the Minister for Labor and National Service, pointed out yesterday that the Boyer report deals with section 84 of the Public Service Act and that the committee’s recommendations are being investigated. They will, no doubt, be the subject of some decision later on. But there is no power, on the decision of the court, by which the Parliament may reintroduce preference for ex-servicemen in employment generally.
– Has the Minister for Health yet completed his consideration of the question whether the Royal Adelaide Hospital at Northfield should be accepted as an approved institution for hospital benefits purposes?
– This question was asked the other day. A decision has been arrived at, and I will convey it to the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. In 1958 the Government amended the National Health Act for the purpose, as the Minister stated, of helping the aged sick and the chronically sick. In view of the non-recognition for fund benefit of certain approved, private, registered hospitals, with the effect that the aged and chronically sick therein are thereby deprived of fund benefit, and in view of certain other anomalies which have become apparent since the passing of the amendment, will the Minister examine the working of the act and refer to Cabinet for determination any matters which have caused hardship or in relation to which the intentions of Parliament as stated by the Minister in his second-reading speech, are not being carried out?
National Health Act is a very complex piece of legislation and it is, I think, quite natural that some people should be a little confused in their interpretation of it, when they are considering whether or not it is being properly given effect to. But it is very doubtful, to say the least, that the intention of Parliament is not being carried out or, indeed, that people are being deprived of benefits under the recent amendment of the act. In the main those who now do not receive benefits under the special accounts procedure would in any case not have received fund benefit, and it is undeniable that there is a vast number of people who are infinitely better off under the amendment. I suppose, Sir, that in any complicated piece of legislation some anomalies are likely to arise. Of course, if they are brought to my notice, I shall be very glad to discuss them and my interpretation of the administration of provisions relating to them with my colleagues in the Cabinet.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence with reference to questions asked in the House last week of the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Air regarding the use of Hercules aircraft. The Minister for the Army indicated that there was no conflict between the Army and the Air Force over the use of these aircraft, but the Minister for Air stated, inter alia -
To regard them as buses would be a mistake. They should be regarded and used as heavy trucks of a highly specialized kind.
This would indicate that dissension does exist over the use of these aircraft. I ask the Minister for Defence, in his capacity as senior Minister in charge of defence services, whether he will investigate this matter with a view to ensuring, first, that these aircraft are used in the best interest of Australian defence, and secondly, that a childish attitude is not adopted by any of the chiefs-of-staff or Ministers.
– I assure the honorable member that no childish attitude is adopted by the Chief of the Air Staff, the Chief of the General Staff, or any Minister. I heard the questions posed to the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Air last week, and I think I ought to explain to the House the procedure that is adopted in these cases. If the Army wants a lift of men, it applies to the Air Force for it. and the Air Force makes the aircraft available. If a circumstance should arise when the Air Force refused to let the Army have the aircraft needed, the matter would come to me and I would give the necessary decision.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. If the closing down of hotels in Melbourne - five, I think, in Bourke-street alone in recent times, with more to follow - is any indication, it would appear on this ground, as well as on other grounds, that the retail price of beer has reached an absolute maximum. Will the Treasurer please give particular budgetary consideration to granting some reduction in the present high excise duty on beer? At the present time more than half the price of a glass of beer is accounted for by the excise component. Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said, “ Give the people cake “. I appeal to the Treasurer to give the people beer at a reasonable price.
– I had not become aware that there had been any decline in the national thirst or the total consumption of the national beverage. Perhaps, in the highly prosperous condition in which Australia has found itself in recent years, some of the traditional beer drinkers have turned their attention to more exotic beverages, and those who come to this country from overseas may have helped to stimulate the consumption of wine, which, I gather, has been increasing in overall volume. But I have read and, in fact, I have been told, that those who maintain hotels, in Victoria in particular, have experienced certain difficulties. Whether that is one of the unhappy consequences of the shorter hours available for convivial gatherings in that State in contrast with the neighbouring States of New South Wales or Tasmania, I do not know. Whether the difficulties of hotelkeepers in Victoria can be attributed directly to some decline in the consumption of beer is a matter which I will gladly examine. The honorable member will appreciate that very considerable sums are involved in terms of revenue in this matter, which is of significant consequence to the Budget. What he has put to me will be considered in connexion with the forthcoming Budget, in conjunction with representations received from other honorable members.
– Has the Minister for Immigration recently altered the intake of migrants so as to allow the admission of 5,000 migrants from Italy in addition to those already coming to Australia? If he has, was this decision taken as a result of influence brought to bear by the Italian language newspaper, “ La Fiamma “ ?
– I do not think the honorable member has the correct informa tion. There has been no increase in the Italian migrant intake above and beyond the figures which I gave to this House when introducing the estimates for the Department of Immigration during the last Estimates debate. The question of the overall intake of migrants, and the intake from any country, is quite properly one for determination at the time of the Budget, and the Italian target, along with that of any other country with which we have migration dealings, will be determined at the right time later in the year.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: In view of the great demand for beef and the consequent shortage of cattle in Australia, will the Minister give consideration to publicity to promote a greater consumption of mutton?
– The brief report which I have received from the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, who has just returned from America, indicates that the mutton supplied to America is in greater quantity than that market can consume and that prices there are easing somewhat. The prices are being maintained fairly well in the United Kingdom market, at slightly above the guaranteed price within the agreement, but that market is fairly fully supplied and I am not confident that we would be able to increase our sales on either of these markets even if we spent money on advertising our product in America and the United Kingdom. However, I will give the honorable member’s suggestion some thought.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question without notice. Will the honorable gentleman state the reason for changing the building code as applied to post office construction? No doubt he is aware that strong rooms for security purposes are not now included in new post offices and that ordinary iron safes arebeing used instead. Is not the PostmasterGeneral afraid that this method of security is likely to revive the banditry and safebreaking that was so prevalent a few year* ago?
– I must confess that I do not know of any very great variation in what the honorable member terms the building code for post offices. I can assure him, however, that the department, in planning new buildings, takes advantage of all the latest developments in architectural science and, as a result, is providing throughout the community buildings that are a credit to the department and to the Government, whose policy the department is implementing. I shall look into the honorable member’s question about the use of safes in lieu of strong rooms, and I shall advise him of the result of my inquiries.
– Mr. Speaker, this question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. By way of explanation 1 should like to remind the Minister, and the House, that 65 firms are leasing premises from the Commonwealth at the St. Mary’s industrial area. Those buildings were erected temporarily in 1942, specifically for the manufacture of munitions and not for industrial purposes, and they were designed to last for only fifteen years. The firms occupying the buildings have to patch them up and improvise, particularly with respect to amenities for employees. Will the Government lose a good deal of money if there is an exodus from the St. Mary’s industrial area? Would such an exodus endanger employment and development in the area? Will the Minister be kind enough to say when he will next be in Sydney, and, if it is an early date, will he receive a deputation requested by the honorable member for Nepean in the New South Wales Parliament, Alderman W. L. Chapman, and other people who are greatly concerned about this matter?
– If there were to be a large scale exodus of industries from the area known as the St. Mary’s industrial area, undoubtedly the Commonwealth would suffer some financial loss. About two years ago it was publicly announced that the Government had decided to dispose of its land holdings in that area, which were not necessary for the St. Mary’s munitions plant. That process has been going on and a great deal of preliminary work has been done, but it has all been based on the supposition that there would be a continuance of interest by industrial firms in purchasing the properties that they now occupy or that the properties might be sold to other purchasers. The Government’s action will, I confidently expect, result in the present industrial undertakings at St. Mary’s continuing to operate.
I shall be happy to meet a deputation as suggested by the honorable member. Both he and the honorable member for Mitchell have taken a great deal of interest in this matter. I hope to be in Sydney within the next two or three weeks, and I will discuss with the honorable member for Macarthur a suitable time to meet a deputation.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Services, concerns the social services reciprocal agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government, and the fact that no provision exists in the agreement for reciprocal treatment of service pensioners over the age of 60 years. Will the Minister consider the inclusion of this type of pensioner in the agreement when it is next varied, as the means test applied to the service pensioner is identical with that applied to the age pensioner, but the service pension is granted five years earlier than the age pension, only because of war service?
– In reply to the honorable member for Kingston might I be permitted to say that the reciprocal agreement entered into between the Government of Australia and the Governments of New Zealand and the United1 Kingdom exclusively relates to social service benefits. Unfortunately, the war service pension is, on the other hand, exclusively a repatriation benefit, but it is possible for a war service pensioner who is temporarily absent from this country to nominate a trustee to whom his pension is paid for a period of six months. That arrangement, up to this point, has been entirely satisfactory. It would be beyond my power to make a recommendation along the lines that the honorable member for Kingston has suggested since the war service pension is a repatriation benefit.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House whether the
Government’s plans for the extension of television to Queensland are up to date and whether he has any information of particular interest to Queensland on the subject at this stage?
– I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member for Ryan that plans for the introduction of television to Queensland are proceeding as intended. It will be remembered that it was announced that the national station at Brisbane was expected to commence operations in early November of this year. As a result, it will be possible to televise the centenary celebrations which are taking place in Brisbane all through this year, but particularly about that time. At the present rate of development, both as regards buildings and the supply of equipment, that target date will be reached. I have every hope and belief that the national station will commence its operations at the beginning of November. Of course, certain test patterns would be put on the air before that but its regular service should start at the beginning of November.
I believe, also, that the same state of affairs prevails with regard to the commercial services. Of course, it will be realized that I do not get the same detailed reports from the commercial services as I get from the national stations but, from information that I have received from time to time, T believe that they, too, are well up to their schedule for the provision of services. They should commence about the same time as the national service. The third phase of the development of television, which will take services into country areas as determined by the Government, is still under consideration and I have no announcement to make on it as yet.
– Can the Minister for Social Services, representing the Minister for Repatriation, say what terms and conditions apply to the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner’s widow who makes application for a war service home?
– I regret to say that I do not represent the Minister for Repatriation, but I do represent the Minister for National Development insofar as war service homes are concerned. In reply to the honorable member’s question, I would say that where a person who has been in receipt of a totally and permanently incapacitated pension and who has qualified for a war service home dies, his eligibility for a war service home immediately passes to his widow.
– As a war widow?
– Yes. I would direct the honorable member’s attention to the unfortunate circumstance that all totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners do not qualify for war service homes.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is true, as reported to me, that an eighty-vehicle convoy moving to Mackay was bogged down for twelve hours on the Newell Highway between Narrabri and Moree, in New South Wales, recently. Will the Minister consider equipping the Army with vehicles capable of negotiating wet gravel roads, or, alternatively, will he bring the condition of this vital interstate highway to the notice of the New South Wales Government with a view to having it brought up to an allweather standard?
– I did not hear that the vehicles mentioned by the honorable member were bogged down, but I heard that they had had some difficulty. This convoy was going through to the Mackay exercises. I am not aware of the condition of the road that the honorable member mentioned, nor has any particular difficulty been referred to me in connexion with the matter. However, I shall certainly look into the incident and if anything can be done in the way that he has suggested, it will be done.
– I desire to direct a question to the Treasurer. Has the Victorian Government brought to the notice of the Commonwealth Government the necessity for additional finance for housing in Victoria owing to the serious accommodation problem in that State? Does the Treasurer agree that because of the large migrant intake in Victoria special financial consideration ought to be given to that State when housing requirements are discussed?
– The Premier of Victoria and his colleagues have brought to the notice of the Commonwealth Government the financial difficulties being experienced in that State at the present time - difficulties which they claim have been enlarged by the fact that Victoria is taking, proportionately, a larger number of migrants than are most other States. Indeed, I think the Premier of Victoria claims that his State is receiving some 40 per cent, of the total migrant intake into this country. Whatever the facts may be in precise terms, undoubtedly there has been a very rapid growth of both population and industry in Victoria. As a result of discussions with the Victorian Premier and his colleagues, and of views put to us by the Premiers of other States, the Commonwealth Government has undertaken to review the current formula for tax reimbursement grants, and considerable work is now being done on that matter in the Treasury and other Commonwealth departments. I am hopeful that when we come to the normal Premiers’ Conference and Australian Loan Council meeting later this year the formulation of our views will be sufficiently well advanced for us to take some policy decisions on this important matter.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Air a question without notice. In view of the widespread interest in the new Hercules aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force, is the Minister willing to arrange an opportunity for members of the Parliament to inspect one of these aircraft here in Canberra?
– I shall be very glad to consider the suggestion. Indeed, the proposal has already been given some tentative consideration, and I hope to be able to make the sort of arrangement which the honorable member has suggested before the end of this session.
– I direct to the Minister for Health a question that is supplementary to the one asked yesterday by the honorable member for Watson. The Minister stated in reply to that question that he did not think the severity of the present influenza outbreak merited a public warning. I now ask the honorable gentleman: Has he been informed of the position in Tasmania, where schools at Rosebery, Railton and other places have been closed, and where shops have been temporarily closed and production in mines and factories has been drastically cut, because of the epidemic? 1 understand that the epidemic has already resulted in the death of four children in Western Australia. Will the Minister reconsider his decision and issue a statement, in view of the severity of the epidemic and the large number of pneumonia cases which has resulted?
– It is a little difficult to know what form such a warning could take. A warning, if it is to be worth anything, must inform the people of some method of avoiding contracting a disease. Influenza is a very easily transmissible disease, and there are no practical methods for preventing large numbers of people from being infected with it once it appears in a population. As the honorable gentleman is probably aware, influenza vaccine is manufactured in large quantities by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and these supplies are available to doctors throughout Australia. But this vaccine is a preventive and not a curative - and perhaps* I can say that it is not 100 per cent, effective as a preventive. I should think it is widely known to the medical profession that this vaccine is available. Ar far as curative measures go, they are widely known and freely available. I cannot really see, Sir, that the Minister for Health’s uttering a warning can do anything to assist the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. As trials and experiments are now about to commence at the regional experimental station of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock at Ayr. in the Burdekin district, with the tropical dairying breeds, the Sindi and Sahiwal, imported from Pakistan by the Commonwealth Government several years ago for the purpose of raising the production of tropical dairying, and as I understand quarantine requirements are now satisfied, would the Minister investigate the possibility of a much wider trial use of these cattle to cover not only the dry tropics, as at Ayr, but also the wet tropics, for instance in the Palmerston area, near Innisfail, in order to cut down the time it so often takes to produce wider conclusions?
– The suggestion involved in the honorable member’s question is worthy of consideration because, obviously, if the trial proves successful in a dry area it would be more beneficial to have a similar trial in the wetter areas as well without waiting for the trial in the dry area to end before commencing a trial in the wetter areas. I shall certainly go into the matter and advise the honorable member.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question without notice. Will the Minister consider improvement of the heating arrangements in the Villawood migrant hostel for this coming winter? In considering the matter, will the Minister take into account the fact that the residents of the hostel are allowed to use only a 1,000-watt radiator for three hours daily, which is far from adequate?
– The question of the provision of the free lighting and free heating arrangements for migrants in all hostels throughout Australia has recently been considered by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, and by me. I think the free allocation of lighting to migrants is something like 7 kilowatt hours per room, for each four weeks, decreasing on a “ per room “ basis as the number of rooms increases, and the best advice I can get is that, for a free allocation, this is considered to be fair and reasonable. The free allocation for heating during the winter months is about 1,000 watts for three hours. Anything more used has to be paid for. I might say to the honorable gentleman that this is a special privilege given to migrants, which does not apply in other Commonwealth hostels. Recently the whole problem was considered and it was decided to increase the heating allocation by 50 per cent., from two hours a day during the winter months to three hours. As I have said, the problem has been recently considered, and I doubt whether on re-investigation of the facts I could now alter the decision. Nonetheless, I shall have a look at it, and if I find that anything can be done, I will do it and let the honorable gentleman know.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. During the right honorable gentleman’s recent visit to Japan he stressed the exchange of scientific discoveries as one of the bases on which Australia and Japan should co-operate. Does this mean that we are making such discoveries as Sir-o-set, Sir-o-fix and moth-proofing available to Japanese textile manufacturers so that the finished products they make from our Australian wool may truly attain the high standards now possible in woollen textiles, which, as such, are preferable to any synthetics?
– Yes, amongst other things, all that information has already been made available to the Japanese. I took with me on my recent visit to Japan one of the senior officers of the C.S.I. R.O., who assured himself that all the recent discoveries of the organization in the wool textiles research field were known - and widely known - in the relevant quarters in Japan, for the reasons that the honorable gentleman very rightly supposes.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Social Services. The Minister will know that for some time I have complained to the Department of Social Services about the delays that occur in dealing with applications for the widow’s pension, even where the applicant had, prior to the death of her husband, been in receipt of a wife’s allowance and, accordingly, her income and assets had already been subject to periodical review by the Department of Social Services. As any break in payments by the department causes particular hardship and distress to women who have just lost their husbands, I ask the honorable gentleman whether he will take steps to see that such breaks are eliminated or greatly reduced.
– The honorable member for Werriwa has made personal representations to me on this matter, and he has cause for complaint. That is entirely due to the fact that he lives - happily, I hope - in the most populous State of the Commonwealth. It must never be forgotten that the Department of Social Services has to deal with nearly 5,000,000 people and has to send out more than 1,000,000 cheques a month. Delays are sometimes unavoidable and are sometimes inevitable. The representations that have been made to me by the honorable member for Werriwa are such that I have given instructions that where a woman in receipt of a wife’s allowance is bereaved and she makes application for a widow’s pension, she should be paid and the application processed afterwards.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
Debate resumed from 21st April (vide page 1372), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– In accordance with the arrangement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I propose to discuss the Australian Universities Commission Bill and the Education Bill together. These are short bills, but are of great importance. I want to say at once that the Opposition will give enthusiastic support to the legislation. We want to mention certain features of it and to express again certain points of view. The assistance given by the Commonwealth to the States for recurrent expenditure on universities is very great indeed. The grants have increased from £800,000 in 1951 to £2,300,000 in 1957, and the State Grants (Universities) Act 1958 provided for Commonwealth assistance amounting to more than £20,000,000 for the period from 1958 to I960 for recur-~nt expenditure and for capital works. The claim that this startling change in finances introduced a new period of university development is correct, and much credit goes to the Government, and especially to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), for what has been done.
This legislation carries the process of Commonwealth expenditure on Australian universities a stage further. Provision was made in the old Education Act for a Universities Commission, which was concerned with the award of scholarships in connexion with the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme and the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. The Education Bill enables the functions that were carried out by the Universities Commission, which was associated with the Commonwealth Office of Education, to be continued. The Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, especially in relation to graduate awards, will also be continued. Any confusion about names is removed by remembering that the Education Bill changes the name of the existing Universities Commission to the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, but its primary functions will remain much the same.
That brings me back to the main feature of the legislation, which is contained in the Australian Universities Commission Bill. Clause 14 of this bill provides - (I.) The Commission–
That is the Australian Universities Commission - shall perform its functions with a view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage of Australia. (2.) For the purpose of the performance of its functions, the Commission shall consult with universities and with the States upon the matters on which it is empowered to furnish information and advice.
The bill establishes the Australian Universities Commission, which will be under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Martin, Professor of Physics at the University of Melbourne and which will consist of not less than two nor more than four members. Its job is not merely to deal with questions of the amount of money needed by universities; it has also to promote the balanced development of the universities which receive aid. That covers practically al] the universities in Australia and includes the colleges attached to the universities. So. a system of co-operation between this Commonwealth authority and all the universities and the States is inaugurated for the purpose of what is called the balanced development of universities. The “ balanced development “ is one of the new phrases used. It covers something more than keeping a balance; I take it that it means ordered and orderly development and contains the notion not only of balancing but also of extending development.
The action already taken to implement the recommendations contained in the Murray report and the tremendous grant made by the Commonwealth last year have given new hope to universities which have been confronted with unparalleled development occasioned by the demands of young people seeking university education and the need for new buildings and additional scientific equipment. I speak from my experience on the governing body of the University of Sydney. The whole spirit of these institutions is changing. If parallel with that change we have a body - the new Australian Universities Commission - working hand in hand with the universities for development, the money will not be simply a sum allocated to buildings, but a sum allocated either to buildings or recurrent expenditure. That should mean a tremendous development of the universities in line with the Murray report. That report has been debated in this House and many honorable members, particularly on the Opposition side, have shown special interest in it. I hope that they will give their impressions of this legislation.
As we pointed out in an earlier debate on universities legislation, tertiary education - the ugly name really for university education - has to be developed, but it should never be divorced from secondary, technical and primary education. So even in the great vista that lies ahead for the universities, one has to see the relationship and build up of the other scholastic institutions.
Let me give one or two facts, Mr. Speaker. The children entering the secondary schools during this year will be in the age group born in 1947 when our birth rate was the highest on record. That shows the tremendous and obvious demand for education at the appropriate age. The teachers entering the profession this year will be drawn from the age group born in the late 1930’s when our birth rate was at the lowest point. So the problem is a great demand for teachers and a tremendous surplus of students. The Australian Labour Party puts it this way: You have a very grave shortage of teachers, a tidal wave of students and an insatiable demand for school accommodation beyond the resources of the States. So you must have the States acting energetically. You cannot do without Commonwealth support or the best advice the universities and other organs of education can get. We must not overlook another fact. The immigration scheme alone has brought 250,000 children and more under fourteen years of age to Australia in the years from 1950 to 1957. That shows that education involves an even bigger problem, important though that part of it we are discussing to-day may be. We rightly look to the Government and the Parliament for action in that connexion.
That brings me to one other feature of the Commonwealth contribution which is considerable and very meritorious. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his secondreading speech referred to the fact that the Commonwealth bases its power in respect of education entirely on section 96 of the Constitution. Section 96 states -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
So these tremendously important grants, according to the Government, must be channelled through the States. There is advantage in that arrangement in many respects, but the view the Opposition takes is rather broader. We say that the social service power under section 51 (xxiiiA) of the Constitution contains a tremendous power in relation to education which has not been utilized for the universities, secondary or other schools. That section provides power for this Parliament to make provision for benefits to students. Plainly, that provision covers every possible form of grant for scholarship at every level of education from the very junior and primary education up to the universities. Tt is a direct grant and, in fact, the Commonwealth Parliament has exercised the power in some of the great university scholarships which gave servicemen in the Second World War an opportunity to make a fresh start.
These are simple aspects of a great problem which is being tackled here. The spirit of the mandate is most important. There will be very skilled persons - experts in the field of education - acting as advisers to get a balanced scheme of university development and not merely providing money from time to time for the universities. Already the universities are feeling tremendous benefits from the additional financial provision which came from previous Commonwealth legislation. The new Australian Universities Commission is not to be confused with the Universities Commission dealing with the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. It is to be a commission in its own name and right and we look forward to the closest co-operation between that body and the universities. I repeat that this is perhaps a fulfilment, to a large extent, of the Murray report and that report needs supplementing at other levels of education so that we will have the greatest education system possible in Australia.
.- I wish to congratulate the Government on bringing down this bill to create the Australian Universities Commission. The measure gives us a new title to the body that is operating at present. I am glad that the powers of that body will not be lessened in any degree. It will be able to keep on its good work. It had done very good work indeed and, in personal contact with the controllers of that organization, I have been astonished to find how intimately they knew the position of many students whose cases came before them. This measure is the acceptance of the corollary of the Murray report which provided some £20,000,000 for universities last year. Instead of the ad hoc body that the Murray committee was, the new commission will be a permanent body in continuous liaison with the States on the whole question of university development. It will be much more than the present body which is dealing with students’ scholarships and so on. Its function is to examine where, when and how universities may be developed, and how the existing universities may be made more capable of teaching.
This has become absolutely indispensable. Tn fact, it seems to me that the great problem in Australia - apart from the physical problem of finding schools for small children - is to provide the teachers to teach throughout the university system and the secondary and primary school systems. We must have absolutely first-class bodies for that purpose. When one looks at the his tory of universities in Australia, one finds that during the first few years of responsible government, universities were established in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia within a period of five or six years at a time when the population of Australia did not total 1,000,000. Then we had to wait practically 50 years before any more universities were established and they were then established in Queensland and Western Australia. Then there was a little bit of speeding up, and, in 1938, 38 years later, the New South Wales Government brought into being the New England University College, which finally became an autonomous university. Then the Australian Government established the Australian National University in Canberra. The Canberra University College has been maintained for a long time, and I hope it will not be long before it becomes a university in its own right. Finally, the New South Wales Government established the University of Technology, as it was first called, its title now being the University of New South Wales. That institution already has a child which looks as if it will be very healthy and soon grow into an adult. This is the Newcastle University College, which I trust will become an autonomous university within the next few years.
It is absolutely imperative that our universities keep pace with the growth of our population. The increase in population in Australia since the last war has been phenomenal. In the present conditions prevailing throughout the world, involving so much poverty and hardship, and old memories that will not die, I believe we will continue to have, in our lifetime, hundreds of thousands of migrants coming here. Some of these, as well as our own young people, will have to be trained. Therefore, I believe that the position of our universities must be made secure.
I am glad to say that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out that this is in the nature of an experiment, to try to secure Federal and State co-operation on such matters as where universities should be established, how they should be developed, and how they will be financed. It appears to me that these are questions that have to be faced, because the State governments are in such a financial position that they cannot, without Commonwealth assistance, continue to carry this educational burden. It really is not a burden in any but a financial sense. It is a labour of love, surely, to ensure that people learn, first, to read and write, and then that those who are scientifically and culturally inclined receive further training so that we all may get the best out of life. In fact, our very safety depends upon it. In this regard, one has only to study the startling statistics of the Soviet Union, where scientists are being turned out at a miraculous rate. Fairly good results are being obtained in the United States of America, and in Great Britain and other European countries, but we must do a great deal more than we are doing at present.
Our record shows that we have people here of the necessary calibre. We have sent to other countries, as scientific workers, some of the most famous men in the world. We have sent Bragg from South Australia. Florey and others have gone from here to show others in their particular fields how bright Australians can be. In my view, it is absolutely essential that we should make certain that all our young people who have sufficient brainpower have an opportunity of being trained. If our educational system is not decentralized, it will be difficult to know how many potentially valuable youngsters are lost in the general muddle. We will not know how many first-class minds we may be able to rescue. This is a very important aspect in considering, the functions of the proposed commission.
The suggested body should first settle down to determine how, where and when new universities should be established. The presence of a university has an extraordinary influence on the development of a district. If a university exists in a certain place, families will continue to live there. It will not be necessary for them to move to the big metropolitan centres, where they would have to live in a manner different from that to which they have been accustomed. Already we have found that many advantages flow from the decentralization of universities. In New South Wales we have the University of New England and the Newcastle University College. The students live in relatively small communities. At the University of New England, they live in close proximity to their tutors all the time, and it was found, when the university was a part of Sydney University, that students who came there after having obtained only mediocre passes in the Leaving Certificate examination were able to win a very good proportion of scholarships and honours in competition with students at the parent university. This showed, first, that the students in the country district were subject, to fewer distractions from their studies, and, secondly, that they derived benefits from closer contact with their tutors. We were able to provide, to some extent, the conditions that exist in universities in Great Britain and other countries.
These are things that are worth paying for, because they produce the best results. No one can tell what is the actual money value of a mind that has been salvaged, as it were, and has been given an opportunity of full development. It seems to me, therefore, that this matter of education should not be the subject of political controversy. It should be a non-party question. This has been the case up to the present. The Curtin and Chifley Governments introduced the scholarship system, the scope of which has been increased by this Government, which has also been responsible for new developments with regard to our universities. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) did much of the early work in connexion with the University of New England. The honorable member was at that time Minister for Education in the New South Wales Government. Mr. Heffron, a later Minister for Education, has carried on the good work. This is the kind of spirit that we must maintain with regard to education as a whole and especially the matter of the provision of funds.
It is also obvious that unless we have universities, we will not have first-class teachers to teach our boys and girls in the schools in the various grades. We have to develop universities to ensure a supply of these men and women. When they do find their vocation, sufficient money must be provided for them to be able, not only to teach, but also to enjoy life to the utmost. There is no question that when one travels through this great continent of ours, comprising 3,000,000 square miles, one finds that our greatest foe is ignorance. The only way to overcome ignorance is by means of institutions of learning in which our people can receive adequate teaching. The first step is to teach the teachers.
As 1 said previously, when our population was 1,000,000 we had three universities. Now the population is 10,000,000, but we have not ten times as many universities. I hope that we will eventually have twenty or 30 universities. I believe that we must have them, and we must know the most suitable sites where they should be located. The best machinery for making such determinations is that which is being provided by the present bill. A permanent body will be established. It will be continually in touch with the universities and the other aspects of the educational life of the community, and it will enjoy the trust of the various governments throughout Australia.
I venture to suggest that the Government has done a great job of work in starting off this new project and in establishing a permanent body instead of the ad hoc body that operated previously.
.- The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has been fairly congratulatory, and I suppose that, in many respects, one is prepared to join with him in saying that at last some initiative is being taken by the Government on what is probably the most important social undertaking in which any government could engage. After all, it is very late. One did not need to be very bright to see, in 1947, when the birth rate was the highest on record, that there would be a tremendous influx into the secondary schools twelve years later, in 1959. One would not need to be very bright to see that that would create technical problems in education, in the supply of teachers and so on. One did not need to be bright to be able to look at the statistics and see that the low birth rate in the late 1930’s would create all the problems we face in relation to the supply of teachers in the late 1950’s, and will face in the early 1960’s. The unfortunate feature is that the Government is moving behind the crest of the wave instead of in front of it.
The Commonwealth Office of Education was established some fourteen or fifteen years ago, and its charter was laid down. It was to advise. It bad the ability to take the initiative in advising the Government and to set it going forward; but it has not done so. The statistics contained in various answers to questions in relation to the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme show that it has not kept up with the growth in population and with the social demands for higher education. It has not, therefore, encouraged a development of university education by putting a greater proportion of students into the universities. So, while this is a moment of some promise, it still highlights the fact that in the past we have been very neglectful - and this Government has been in office for ten years.
The right honorable member for Cowper mentioned that we must take steps to protect the university system. If I may adopt the words used by my own leader, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), we are putting the roof on first. We cannot have a satisfactory university system unless we take appropriate steps in the fields of primary and secondary education. There have been some remarkable deficiencies in the Government’s actions in this matter over the last twelve months. We have tackled the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) here on this constitutional question before. There is no way in which the Government can avoid responsibility for other stages of education if it accepts responsibility for university education, although in many respects this is a serious infringement on the sovereign rights of the States about which the Liberal Party is always talking when it is asked to do something. The States Grants (Universities) Act. which was passed last year, shows that section 96 of the Constitution gives complete authority to the Federal Government to take steps in this matter in any direction it wishes, because in the schedules to the act, the actual buildings to be erected with the money provided are even nominated. For instance, the University of New England is to use £100,000 for the erection of a building for a faculty of rural science, and £125,000 for the erection of a library building. In the schedules to that act, which ought to become almost a text-book to honorable members, we can see how the strength and financial resources of this Government can be directed to specific purposes. I shall not advocate in this sphere that the Commonwealth Government should step in and completely submerge State instrumentalities and dominate the whole structure. I have fairly strong feelings about the development of Commonwealth power and the unitary system of government, but I realize that the States of Australia have produced what is, at least from the administrative viewpoint and technically, a very efficient system of education.
The Commonwealth Government cannot avoid the logical step which flows from its action, that is, the development of secondary and primary education - particularly secondary education, because that is the sphere in which the Australian States face the greatest problems. Many of these problems are the direct result of financial and other policies of this Government. The immigration scheme has brought about 1,000,000 people to Australia in the last ten years. Therefore, on any basis of proportion of children to adults, this scheme has probably put between 120,000 and 150,000 more children into the State schools. When we multiply that number by the cost of each child - it costs £70 or £80 per annum to educate a child in State schools - we see that the Commonwealth immigration policy has resulted in a direct annual charge of some millions of pounds upon State governments. We on this side, of course, support the immigration policy, but we also demand that as a consequence of this policy a more logical look be had at the whole financial structure of the nation.
– Order! I do not think that the honorable gentleman has touched on universities at all.
– I was answering the congratulary remarks from the other side of the House on the action that the Government has taken.
– A reasonable reference to these matters is permissible, but a whole speech should not be devoted to them.
– Very good, Sir.
– Your own speech is rather grudging, so far.
– As I pointed out, the Government is following the crest of the wave instead of preceding it or creating its own wave. I shall return to the bill. There is one serious deficiency in clause 12. This provides that the commission shall hold such meetings as are necessary for the performance of its functions. I believe that the directions to the commission should be specific, requiring it to meet at regular intervals and to hold a certain number of meetings. However, its reports to the Parliament - provision for which is a happy augury for the future - will provide us with regular opportunities to debate the whole system of university education and everything that stems from it. The reports should at least have all the information that honorable members desire.
At present it is very difficult to find details of university and other education. The latest figures available are often several years old. The whole education system is a big business, yet unfortunately when looking for State reports, one finds that they are perhaps two years behind. In the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics issued by the Commonwealth Government in September, 1958, the latest figures are for the year 1957. Therein we find that the total expenditure on universities was £16,000,000. With a total student population of some 36,000, Australia’s proportion of students to population is pretty high, but it is well down compared with that of some other countries. The figures for 1954 show that in the United States of America the student population ratio was one to 71; in Italy, one to 116; in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, one to 163; in Canada, one to 218, in France, one to 286; and in Australia one to 305. So, as regards attendance at universities, we rank sixth in the student population ratio. This is nothing upon which to congratulate ourselves. As the right honorable member for Cowper pointed out. we had three universities comparatively early in Australia’s history, yet today we have only six or seven.
One of the points which is significant is the development of university education in New South Wales. We have two universities in Sydney, the University of New England at Armidale, and a university college at Newcastle. Admittedly, the two universities in the Australian Capital Territory are not the responsibility of the State Government. But the establishment of universities in New South Wales is indicative of the attitude of the Labour Party to education at all levels, and at the university level particularly, in this context. The
Labour Party should be congratulated upon the steps it has taken to expand university education wherever it has had the opportunity to do so, despite a previous lack of Commonwealth assistance.
There is one important deficiency in the whole approach to this question and that is in the matter of teachers. The right honorable member for Cowper referred to the necessity for having enough teachers. The Leader of the Opposition did also. The right honorable member for Cowper was following in the footsteps of my leader, as ordinarily he should. The question of teachers is bedevilling the whole education system. It is interesting to note that not even in the United Kingdom is teacher training regarded as equivalent to university training. I believe that this is a false approach to the problem of producing a professional body capable of doing all that we would expect it to do as a teaching service. In Australia now, there are some 46,000 teachers and 7.600 schools. Of that great body of teachers, from 10 to 20 per cent. - the figure varying from State to State - are graduates of universities. People with university training are required in both secondary and primary education. In Victoria it is necessary to have university qualifications in order to be admitted to the roll of secondary teachers. It is necessary to have university qualifications to reach the top of the primary service. In Victoria where there is a professionally trained teaching service we must accept teacher-training as being equal to any other tertiary education.
This is a very serious question. 1 believe that the Government will be making an important development by bringing teacher-training within the compass of this legislation. Recently, in my electorate a new teachers’ college was opened in a church hall. This means that 120 of our future teachers embarked on two and three year courses of training for their professional careers - very important careers - under very poor conditions. The building which they will eventually occupy might be ready at the beginning of next year, or so it is hoped.
Secondary education is in an even worse state in respect of temporary accommodation. In Victoria there are 30 buildings for high and technical schools, complete in the sense that they are educational units, which were taken in 1959. Nine of these schools are giving second year instruction in temporary quarters. No fewer than 5,600 children nave received an introduction to postprimary education this year and next year the numbers will be greater. We do not speak of the many schools using temporary premises to house their students. Therefore, I earnestly commend the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition who said that we must take similar steps to provide for secondary education as for university education. Although I believe that the direction to the commission could be much more explicit, this bill will help to overcome some of the problems which are facing university education.
One of the factors which has dominated the Australian education system generally has been the requirements of the matriculation examination. The whole secondary school system is directed, in most States, to the production of university students even though, in the end probably only one in five or thereabouts will receive the benefit of university teaching. Unfortunately, at the moment, only about one in twenty reaches a university. But there is an increasing social demand by parents that their children shall have this opportunity. I hope that the commission will pay attention to the question of evolving a matriculation system which is more or less national and which will allow children to move from State to State and still be able to proceed with their final education more smoothly. It will be faced with the problem of finding university-trained people who have some breadth in their education vision.
One current serious problem is the development of technology and the tendency to specialize. In the end this will stultify the development of a broad education system. I. hope that the appointment of Sir Leslie Martin, who is a distinguished scientist, will not necessarily result in a scientist-dominated university system, but I am hopeful, judging by his record, that that will not be so. I have no sympathy whatsoever with the attempt to compete with other nations in the production cf sputniks and similar experiments. Our ambition should be to produce highlytrained, cultured people wherever they can benefit from higher courses in education.
The commission will have to step warily because the protection of academic freedom in universities is a very important matter. Universities, since their inception in Australia, have been very fortunately placed. Most of them, I think, are established under some system of incorporation which gives them almost absolute freedom. They have very high responsibilities, lt is their duty to see that nobody is penalized by not being able to enter the appropriate faculty and to pass through it. People in the highest teaching positions in the university service have the right to make or break the professional careers of people, and I believe that over the past 100 years in Australia that responsibility has been faithfully safeguarded to ensure that there is no interference with the academic freedoms of the university. Those responsible have been men with a continuous sense of the need to maintain a high educational standard. Our objective is not to take a lot of people through university at a lower standard; our objective is to take as many people as possible through university at the highest standard. As I have already said, the commission will be faced with some serious questions.
It is obvious, particularly in Victoria, that at the moment the university cannot cope with the demands which will be placed upon it. There are no precise figures and there is no arbitrary arrangement which can be made, but it is reasonable to assume from the last overseas figures that we should have a university for every 500,000 people. On that basis there should be about twenty universities in Australia. This is the only way in which university education will eventually be developed effectively.
Of course, it is ,a very expensive business but perhaps not so expensive as some of the other undertakings in which the Commonwealth engages. I hope that this bill will awaken the Government to its own responsibility to every aspect of our education and that it will direct its financial policies to lifting some of the burdens of the States. The Victorian State education bill this year will be more than £500,000. If the Commonwealth Government will seek to develop throughout Australia standards of building and equipment for secondary education such as it has established in Canberra then university education will become the right of many, and not of just the privileged few and every Australian will be able to benefit from it.
– On several occasions in the past I have made the request that the Government should give consideration to an alteration of procedure in dealing with measures in this House. I make that request once again. Here we have a bill dealing with the Commonwealth Office of Education and with the establishment of an Australian Universities Commission on which the second-reading speech was delivered yesterday. Honorable members know at what time the House rose last night. I was engaged with a parliamentary committee this morning and, quite frankly, 1 have not had sufficient time to give to this measure to prepare a speech such as I should’ like to make on its important subject. I understand that the Government intends to take this measure through all stages to-night.
So we go along with bills coming in and passing through all stages in this House within 24 or 48 hours. Might I ask the Government again, through the Minister for Immigration, (Mr. Downer) who is now at the table, as far as possible to introduce bills listed for the session early in the session so that after the Minister’s secondreading speech has been delivered members will have time to examine them. This will also enable members such as myself to make much better contributions to the debate on bills such as the measure now before the House.
This is a measure with the general principles of which, I think, every honorable member agrees. We want the universities of Australia to be placed in a very much better position financially. But as one who has been born and bred in the State sphere of politics and who has a very great love for federalism as against unification, may 1 point out again that the reason why the universities in the States are in their present condition is that the rich uncle in Canberra holds such a tight control over the money bags - at least since World War II. The States have not sufficient funds, as the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) pointed out. Nor have the State governments sufficient money to provide schools for the training of teachers or anything else in connexion with education. The honorable member for Wills feels that everything should be controlled by the federal government. It is on that point that we disagree widely on the policy of whether, in their own States, the State governments should control education or whether the federal government should have an overall control.
One can hardly blame the States for being annoyed, for instance, about the shortage of money for schools in the States at the present lime and also the shortage of money for universities when the Australian National University, at the request of the physicists or engineers, can build the flying saucer which has now come to rest in the grounds of the university. I am not criticizing the construction of a building for engineering students or physicists in the Australian National University grounds, but I wish to point out that any architect will tell us that their building must have cost, if not twice as much, at least half as much again as an orthodox building designed to provide the same space and the same facilities. The copper roof that has been put on the building will, owing to expansion and contraction, involve a great deal of money in repairs. Workmen have already been engaged in covering the copper with a special substance in an effort to minimize expansion and contraction. The building is probably an excellent example of modern architectural design - I was about to say that it is a freak, but I will not. I can think of another ultra-modern building erected in my home town for the Olympic Games. It has given a lot of trouble and cost half as much again as a more orthodox building would have cost, yet the latter would have provided greater seating accommodation for the spectators at swimming events.
The Australian National University is erecting this expensive building because it wants something of ultra-modern design. The building will be expensive from the point of view of repairs and maintenance. But the States do not get sufficient money from the Commonwealth - and we are all to blame for this - to enable them to provide even the simplest accommodation for th° pupils who wish to attend their schools and universities.
– Which particular building is the honorable member speaking about?
– If the honorable member does not know the flying saucer in this city, he should have a look at it.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean the Academy of Science building?
– That is not a university building.
– It is built with money provided by this Government. It is within the university grounds, and it is a part of the Australian National University. What is the difference? The honorable member is splitting straws.
– The funds for the erection of that building were separately provided by the Academy of Science.
– If we can find the money to build buildings of that type in the Australian National University grounds, the States should be getting more money from us in order to alleviate their shortage of buildings for educational purposes.
However, I think all honorable members will agree that it is highly desirable that we should establish the Australian Universities Commission as envisaged in the bill. The Universities Commission operated under the Education Act 1945. Its chairman was the director of the Office of Education, which, in addition to its normal function of advising on educational matters, was responsible for the re-establishment training scheme for ex-servicemen. The Australian Universities Commission is to be established as a completely new body, but the Commonwealth Office of Education is to be maintained with all its staff, notwithstanding its reduced functions. What was formerly called the Universities Commission is now to be known as the Commonwealth Scholarships Board.
If we look at the twenty-sixth report of the Public Accounts Committee, we see quite clearly that the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme was controlled by the original Universities Commission, but the day to day administration of the scheme is entrusted to the States. In view of the dwindling responsibilities of the Commonwealth Office of Education - it has a staff of 200 or 203 people - T should like to ask the Minister in charge of the debate, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) whether he feels that there is any need to maintain trie Commonwealth Office of Education with the limited functions that it will now have. Apparently its staff is to remain the same, but we are now constituting another paid body - I do not suggest that it should be voluntary - that will take over many of the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Office of Education. When we do that sort of thing is it any wonder that we are criticized in the press over the expansion of the Public Service? This seems to be piling Pelion on Ossa. The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education will in future be extremely limited. I suppose it could be said that we need a Commonwealth Office of Education to deal with education in the Territories, such as Papua and New Guinea and the Northern Territory, but that would not require a staff of 203 people.
I would refer honorable members to the twenty-sixth report of the Public Accounts Committee, which dealt with the Commonwealth Office of Education. On page 39 the committee stated, perhaps more clearly than I have been stating here -
In concluding this Report your Committee emphasize our view that “ Organizations such as the Office of Education, which have no closely definable sphere of activities, are prone to expand beyond what might be regarded as a reasonable size “.
In paragraph 22 on page 7 of the report the committee stated -
Your Committee received an assurance from the Public Service Board that the staff of the Office is not larger than necessary. We also note that it is still well below what it was in 1950.
Well, I should think it would be, because many fewer people were being trained under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme although some persons - up to 200 I believe - probably veterans of Korea and Malaya - are still receiving training under the scheme. But although the scheme is not operating on its former scale, the Commonwealth still owns all the buildings that it owned when large numbers of ex-servicemen were being trained shortly after the end of the second world war. In its report the Public Accounts Committee states that steps should be taken to dispose of those unwanted buildings to universities, or in other directions, and that it is not desirable for the Common wealth to keep them. In paragraph 22 of the committee’s report a member of the committee asked the witness this question -
You say it (a survey of health schemes in schools and universities in Australia) was of interest to you. Does that mean that you acted entirely on your own initiative in making this survey?
I think that question very definitely implies that the committee member thought that the Commonwealth Office of Education did not have enough work to do and was seeking to initiate some other service. The answer to that question was -
In a case like that, yes, it does, I decided to use the limited resources I had, because I regarded that as an important topic. It would not have been an expensive study. I thought it was a necessary study and that it would be of interest to my colleagues on the Universities Commission.
Well, that is how money is expended. Somebody gets a bright idea that a survey is desirable, and in order to keep the staff employed the Office of Education goes ahead with it. The report continues, on page 39 -
The cost of the Office of Education and its associates is substantial, and the sums that it spends or administers for other Agencies or Departments are even more so.
For instance, it does a certain amount of work for the Colombo Plan which I should imagine could be easily done by a staff of two or three attached to the Department of External Affairs. It does something with regard to Unesco. A great deal of money could very easily be expended on United Nations activities of that kind but whether it is all necessary or desirable is another factor which has to be taken into account. The committee goes on -
These figures, quite apart from the functions discharged, emphasize our warning against the tendency for expansion.
If there was a tendency to expand then, how much greater will it be now in order to carry on the Office of Education, when the Universities Commission is taken out and established as a separate body to do all that part of the work which came under its authority under the Education Act 1945? The report continues -
Particular care should be taken to ensure that, amongst other things, the educational fields of the States are not trespassed upon.
In other words, the Public Accounts Committee has supported exactly what I said earlier - that by maintaining the hold that the Commonwealth had on the purse vis-a-vis the States, we are gradually taking over another function of the States. We allot a certain amount of money to the States for roads. We are now allotting a certain amount of money for education. And so it goes on and on until, finally, by stealth or accident or even subconsciously this country is becoming, more and more, governed by a system of unification and not by a system of federalism.
When the Constitution Review Committee was set up honorable members of the Opposition said that they would have nothing to do with the consideration of proposals to give any power back to the States. Therefore, the most important problem that should have been discussed by the Constitution Review Committee was entirely ignored. That was the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States.
– In actual fact, we gave a great deal of attention to it.
– The report says very definitely, on page 1, that the honorable members of the Opposition made their position quite clear. I do not doubt the Minister’s word but, if I remember the report rightly, it said that the subject had only been very scantily considered.
– That is not a correct quotation from the report. It said that a tremendous amount of time was given to the matter.
– I shall have another look at the report.
– I think that you should.
– If I am wrong, I am prepared to withdraw my statement. But I am not wrong in saying that the report stated - on the first page, I think - that honorable members of the Opposition who were on the committee had said that they would not agree to anything that would take any power away from the Federal Government. If the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) had been here before T commenced my speech he would be talking instead of me because he was next on the list of speakers and I had wanted to look up a few more things before T spoke. If I had been able to give more time to the preparation of this speech it would not have contained the inaccuracy - if it is an inaccuracy - to which I have just given expression.
However, the policy of members of the Labour party is as I have stated it. They have said that, clearly and frankly. The report of the Public Accounts Committee went on -
From the performance of the specific duty of arranging the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the Office has been invited to undertake and has been clothed with authority to discharge a very wide range of functions because they embrace something of an educational character. The Director of the Office assured us that his policy was never to undertake a task that could be done efficiently and economically by another governmental agency. The transfer of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme to the States and of Current Affairs Bulletin to Sydney University confirms this attitude.
Here is our own parliamentary committee referring to the transfer of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme to the States, yet in this bill we are altering a large part of the act and conferring upon the Commonwealth Scholarships Board some of the authority given to the Commonwealth Education Office under the Education Act - part III. of which deals with the Universities Commission. Probably, there is something more in it than I know about. 1 have had very little time to give the bill proper consideration. But I suggest that this matter needs to be looked into in order to ascertain how far these two bills, establishing the Australian Universities Commission, apart altogether from the Commonwealth Office of Education, will reduce the work of the Commonwealth Office of Education and to determine whether the office should continue to function as such, at all.
I know that the functions are set out in this 26th report, but I think that a lot of them could be performed with very much less staff. For instance, the Colombo Plan work could be done as an adjunct to the Department of External Affairs. Under the heading of “ Miscellaneous Grants in Aid “ honorable members will see five or six of the functions to which I have referred. One is the establishment of university courses in oriental languages. I do not think that an office of education is needed to administer that function. There is also the grant for occupational therapy training and the grant for the Royal College of Nursing. I should think that those are matters on which advice could best be given by such a body as the British Medical Association, rather than a special, civil service office of education.
I will not oppose the bill in any way. I hope that the Australian Universities Commission will be of very great benefit, not only to the universities themselves, but to the whole standard of teaching and education throughout Australia. But in agreeing to the creation of a new body to do a very large amount of the work now done by the Commonwealth Office of Education, we should consider whether it is necessary to maintain the office at its previous level. I ask the Minister to put these views before the proper authority. Possibly, there is a full answer to them. I do not know; but it seems to me that we are making at least a large proportion of the Office of Education redundant. A large proportion of its work is finished as the only repatriation activity remaining is in relation to the Korean and Malayan volunteers. In some ways, it looks as though the office is going round searching for work in order to justify its existence.
– I join with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) in expressing regret that more time has not been made available to honorable members to study the implications of these bills more fully. I join also with the previous speakers who have complimented the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government on the implementation of the Murray report. The problem is defined as helping in the orderly or balanced development of universities in Australia. I think that all those who have had anything to do with universities must recognize that need. This bill, which authorizes the establishment of an Australian Universities Commission, is probably in essence an extension of the Murray report.
I should like to join also with those honorable members who have already noted the inconsistency in the Government’s attitude towards the provision of tertiary education and its attitude towards the lack of provision - if I may refer to it as such - for education at those stages that are preparatory to university or other forms of tertiary education. I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will not mind my referring briefly, before I proceed to deal more fully with the provisions of the bill, to that aspect of the problem which is concerned with the lack of provision for primary and secondary education, which is necessary if tertiary education is to be based on sound foundations.
We have been informed that the estimated university enrolments in 1967 will represent an expansion of 120 per cent, in enrolments since 1957. In that year, enrolments in all the Australian universities totalled 36,465, and it is estimated that by 1967 we shall have more than double that number of students enrolled in our universities. The prediction in the Murray report is that the total will be about 80,000 by 1967. This means that we must do two things. First, we must do something urgently about university education. Secondly, as I am suggesting now, and as the Australian Labour Party has suggested at various times, we must do something very urgently about primary and secondary education, which are the foundations of future university study and of any other kind of further education.
We may take into consideration alongside the figures that I have just given the results of an inquiry which has just been conducted by the New South Wales Teachers Federation. In this very systematic inquiry, questionnaires were sent to all the schools in New South Wales. By 12th April last, 94 per cent, of these had been returned. This shows that nearly all the schools co- operated with the federation in the conduct of the survey. As a result of that inquiry, some very interesting figures about the state of primary and secondary education in New South Wales are available. First of all, the results of the inquiry direct our attention to the increase in the birth rate in New South Wales. In 1940, the number of live births in that State was 48,110. By 1958, the number had nearly doubled, being 80.045. We have to take note also of the increase in enrolments in schools in New South Wales. The figures that I am about to give the House indicate the impact that we must take notice of. In 1945 - not so very long ago - nearly 142,938 children were enrolled in public primary schools in New South Wales. By 1959, the number had grown to 241,500, and it is expected to be 246,500 by 1965. The number of New South Wales children receiving secondary education - which is the immediate prelude to tertiary education - was 86,492 in 1945, and, by 1959, it had jumped to 148,000- an increase of more than 60,000. It is estimated that by 1965 the number will have increased further to 157,500.
What have been some of the implications of this terrific increase in the school population in this State with which I am dealing - the one State for which very recent figures are available to me? These implications have an effect on tertiary education all over Australia. In infants’ schools, only 6 per cent, of the classes numbered fewer than 30 pupils. And educationists generally consider that 30 is a reasonable maximum limit in a class for effective education. Forty-six per cent, of the classes in infants’ schools contained 40 or more pupils. There were, in fact, 45 infants’ classes in New South Wales with 50 or more children. I shall not weary the House with a lot of figures, but I should like to cite just a few more. The story goes on through the primary schools, where only 4 per cent, of the classes in New South Wales did not exceed the desirable limit of 30 pupils. Fifty per cent, of the primary school classes had 40 pupils or more. In the first, second and third years of secondary education, which is in the more immediate prelude to tertiary education, only 6 per cent, of the classes had fewer than 30 pupils, and 60 per cent, had 40 or more students. In fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, 75 first, second and third year secondary school classes contained more than 50 pupils.
The figures relating to rooms, equipment, gymnasiums, playgrounds, teaching aids and toilet facilities indicate that there was a substantial shortage of those requirements. In the infants’ and primary schools, 264 schools and departments reported insufficient classrooms. High schools and secondary schools reported a shortage of 698 classrooms, and they were 207 teachers short of the number required to provide one teacher for each class.
I think that the point has been made that if we are to spend on tertiary education the amount that it is suggested we should spend, the Commonwealth, in order to be consistent, must also relieve the States of part of the burden of primary and secondary education that I have just described.
Otherwise, the efficacy of the grants and other provision made for tertiary education will be limited by our failure to take account of the state of primary and secondary education. The same sort of sad story can be told of technical education.
Having described the situation and made that point in regard to primary and secondary education in order to show how urgently necessary it is for the Commonwealth to be consistent and to do something substantial in that field by making emergency grants to the States for primary and secondary education, and how urgently necessary it is for the Commonwealth to undertake, as we have so often requested, a nation-wide survey into the requirements of education at the primary and secondary levels, I now turn to some of the issues that, are raised in this bill. People engaged in providing university education, I think, are quite rightly concerned that this added dependence financially upon governments may threaten the academic freedom of th: universities. Whether or not those misgivings are justified will depend substantially, I suggest, on the personnel of the proposed Australian Universities Commission.
I would be one of the first to claim that the universities should have academic freedom and that they should not be pinned down by immediate practical moneymaking problems. I would be one of the first, also, to acknowledge that, although the pursuit of pure research at the universities has resulted in discoveries which, in the first place, seemed to have no immediate practical and useful application, many of those discoveries later turned out to be of substantial benefit to the community. But, although I acknowledge those claims to academic freedom for the universities, 1 think it will be accepted that if the universities are to be supported by funds drawn from the various sections of the community in taxation the universities themselves must have an increased sensitivity towards the requirements of the community in relation to the kind of education that the universities shall provide.
In this respect, as I have said, a lot will depend upon the commission that is to be established. It will need to be able to interpret to the universities the requirements of the community, and it will need to be able to communicate to the universities, without interfering or directing, the thoughts of the Parliament on university education. Apart from its communicating those thoughts, I would be one of the first to insist, along with the Murray committee’s investigators, that the commission should not direct the universities. But there does seem to me a great opportunity for the commission to help the universities to make use of the resources that are available, relatively scarce as they are, to the best advantage of the community generally. In that regard the commission will have the task of trying to integrate and co-ordinate the activities of the various universities and their appendages scattered throughout the Commonwealth.
It has occurred to me that, for instance, universities should not be bound by State contacts. It should not be necessary for all faculties and facilities to be available at a university within each and every State. It should be possible for students to move readily from a university in one State to a university in another State. There might not be justification for having exactly similar faculties available in every university, but rather it should be possible for Students to move from one State to another for university education, either at the undergraduate or the post-graduate level.
– The Murray committee wanted to encourage that.
– Yes. I sometimes suspect that universities are no less human than individuals - that there is a competitiveness between universities in one State, or even one city, that can be wasteful. I think the commission has the job of trying to induce co-ordination, co-operation and integration not only at the teaching level but also, and very importantly, at the research level, so that we shall have coordination of research, both pure and applied.
Along with measures to make it possible for students to move from a university in one State to a university in another State must go increased provision of residential facilities at universities. I have not had the pleasure of attending a residential university, but from my observations and what I have been told by people, I should regard residential life as being a most important part of university life. The communica tion and interchange of ideas between people being educated in different faculties must surely be an important part of university education. So I hope that the recommendation of the Murray committee will be implemented, and that the Australian Universities Commission will take particular cognizance of requests for extra residential facilities.
May I refer, by the way, to a problem that is connected with this? I understand that Colombo Plan students in this country have difficulty with accommodation. Frankly, 1 am not quite sure whose responsibility it is to help them in that respect, but I do know that many of these students are being viciously exploited in the matter of private accommodation. I understand that, unfortunately, a good deal of ill will arises as a result. It would be a great pity if, Australia having gone to the trouble of bringing students here under a quite commendable scheme like the Colombo Plan, in order to educate them at our expense, we were to suffer some loss of prestige or consideration, which we might otherwise have got, as a result of pinch-penny provision for the accommodation of students. If ensuring that Colombo Plan students are properly accommodated is part of the Commonwealth’s responsibility, I hope the Government will look into the matter. I do not wish to linger on that subject, but it is a point that was brought to my notice only recently.
Earlier, I made the point that not only should a university be given freedom, but that it should also use its freedom in such a way as to take cognizance of what the community thinks a university ought to do and ought to be. Perhaps the commission will provide something along the lines I am suggesting, but I should like the universities themselves to inform the community more adequately, by improved publicity, of what universities do for the community as a whole. If that were done perhaps the Government would not have to supply such a high proportion of the finance necessary to provide university education, because the community generally, and especially the people who benefit from the products of university education, might do moTe directly to help the universities with their finances if they knew more about what the universities do. Personally, I should like to see universities take a more active part in discussion of current social problems, as well as engaging in the more practical problems concerned with science and technology. It might not have been a bad thing, for instance, if some university had spoken on the matter of parliamentary salaries. That might seem to be a trifling thing for a university to engage in, but there are fundamental issues involved in that matter on which I think the public would appreciate an opinion from some informed body, not speaking with a unified mind on the subject, but providing a forum for discussion on the issues involved.
I suggest that there may still be a little of the ivory tower mentality in the universities. One of the reasons that universities have become so dependent on governments for finance is that public opinion is not formed in such a way that the public would be readier than it is to make contributions to the upkeep of universities. If public opinion were so formed perhaps universities would not have, arising from their financial dependence on governments, worries concerning the danger to their academic freedom.
On the subject of co-ordination and orderly development the Murray committee advocated that allocations to universities should be in terms of three-year periods. In other words, the universities should be able to know fairly accurately what finance is likely to be made available to them for recurring expenditure over a period of three years. That is a very modest requirement. I notice that the British Universities Grants Commission works on a five-year period. I do not know what the reason was for restricting the period to three years in Australia compared with five years in Great Britain, but I rather suspect it has something to do with the duration of Parliaments in the two countries. There is a five-year period in England between general elections compared with a three-year period here. Apparently the principle is that no government should be charged with the responsibility of carrying out another government’s plans with respect to financial provision for universities. T do not know whether my assumption is correct, but T suspect that it is.
I notice that the bill itself contains no expression that the Government intends to provide even for a three-year period.
There is no specification of any period for which the allocation will be made. However, 1 hope the commission will be allowed to put into effect the Murray committee’s recommendation that the allocation be for .i three-year period at least. I have heard university administrators, and others, make the point that considerable economy could be effected and funds used more beneficially if the universities knew what amounts would be made available to them for some period ahead. They would be able to spend more effectively, with less duplication, and jobs would not be left unfinished because insufficient finance was available to carry them through to their fullest development.
In promoting the balanced development of universities, consideration will need to be given to whether we should have comparatively few large universities or considerably more small universities. Of course, a case can be made out for either development. A case can be made out for decentralizing universities and thus providing universities that will reflect local interests. On the other hand, I hope that the commission will take cognizance of the arguments against such decentralization. I know that arguments for decentralization will be pressed here and elsewhere. One argument against too much decentralization is that small universities do not provide facilities for communication between a large number of students belonging to different faculties, and that they tend to become too narrow, too local and too specialized. One of the fruits of a university education should be a broadening of outlook. Small universities probably could not provide opportunities for intercommunication between the teaching staffs or between those engaged in research. To that extent, the argument against having too many small decentralized universities is fairly substantial. The intercommunication between students, researchers and teaching staff would probably be greater in large universities, and increased facilities would more likely be readily available for teaching and research.
There is one other point that I hope we would learn from the experience of the British Universities Grants Commission. At the end of each five-year period, this commission reports on university development throughout Great Britain. That compels both the commissioners and the universities to establish some overall national policy on university education. I hope that that example will be followed here. An annual report, more in a statistical form, is also furnished in Great Britain. This attempts to assess the intake, student failure rate, teaching staff requirements and the deficiency in fulfilling needs. However, the more valuable report from the point of view of informing the public and the Parliament and from the point of view of compelling the universities to adopt some kind of national university policy is the report which is furnished at the end of each five-year period and which is called the Universities Development Report.
Before we go too far with the coordination and integration of the activities of our universities, 1 suggest that we make some attempt to assess the number of trained people in various walks of life that are needed to supply effectively the requirement of the community, socially, economically and industrially. That may be one of the first tasks for the commission to undertake. Before it can explain to the universities what it would like them to do and how they could co-operate, it should have some clear picture of the needs of the community, so far as they can be assessed. The commission might discover that this country needs something like the liberal arts colleges that exist in the United States of America.
It seems to me that there is a gap between secondary education and university education and that the gap might reasonably be filled by institutions similar to these American institutions. That view is supported by the knowledge of the high failure rate of students at universities. I concede that insufficient teachers, too many students for the number of lecturers available, lack of teaching aids, inadequate accommodation and insufficient library facilities may well have an effect upon the failure rate. But we found in 1956 that only 61 per cent, of the students then at universities passed at the first year level and that only an estimated 58 per cent, were likely to graduate. That could mean that many people who attended universities were not capable of absorbing a university education. However, they may have been capable of absorbing a liberal arts education. I hope that, even in this age. we are not so obsessed with science on the practical technological level that we have lost sight of the necessity for a broad education for those people in the community who are supposed to be the guardians of our society. I hope that we are not so obsessed with the need for intense specialization that we have forgottenthe importance of general education and’ the broad development of personality.. Those attributes make for genuine leadership in the community.
– Order! The honorable member’s timehas expired.
.- The Australian Universities Commission Bill and the allied Education Bill naturally deal with the subject of finance and raise the important question of Commonwealth and State financial relations. That has already been discussed to some extent by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid* Kent Hughes). I should like to refer to the report of the Constitution Review Committee which was mentioned by the honorable member. He did not have the advantage of having the report before him, as I have at the moment. But I understand that he has since refreshed hia memory from it and agrees with me, as I unfortunately interjected upon him, that the report undoubtedly shows that a great deal of time was spent by the committee in> an endeavour to solve the problem of Commonwealth and State financial relations.
– It also supports what I said about the Labour members of the committee.
– The report says -
The Labour members of the Committee considered that full legislative powers should be vested in the Commonwealth Parliament with the duty and authority to create States possessing delegated constitutional powers, but since it was not possible to gain agreement to this effect, the Committee was concerned to ascertain what measure of agreement was possible between members from both sides of the Parliament.
Strictly, I do not think that that has anything to do with the passage dealing with Commonwealth and State financial relations, which appears on page 21 of the report.
This Australian Universities Commission Bill is a development of the time in which we live. The cry of the universities to-day is for more money and greater resources so that the functions of the universities of
Australia may be carried out properly. The universities are required for teaching, research and discovery. That means the expenditure of a tremendous amount of money. It means the provision of buildings, lecture halls, demonstration blocks, research buildings, laboratories and other structures. It means a tremendously increased staff with more teachers, research workers, administrative officers and even more persons teaching in the workshops.
All this requires tremendous expenditure of money, and the Australian universities to-day can quite properly be described as half-starved. They lack funds which are so necessary to enable them to carry on their present work and their finances are far short of what is required for the expansion which must come about during the next decade. “That expansion is inevitable. Universities to-day cannot carry on research work to any great extent at all except the Australian “National University at Canberra which is essentially a research university. The other universities of Australia are primarily teaching universities, and although a degree of research does take place in them, they cannot function as research universities to any great extent. That should be greatly deplored. But even as teaching universities they fall down. Quota systems have had to be introduced and many students who would be of great value to the nation and would “have been able to carry on far more useful lives in the community, are being deprived of university training. The right to that training should belong to every citizen who wishes to have it.
It is in these circumstances that we are here to-day to consider this bill relating to the Australian Universities Commission to determine what we can do to provide greater opportunities for the universities to carry out their natural functions, and greater opportunities for those in this community to get the advantages of university life. Of course, it is to governments that the universities have to look for more money, but there is a dancer that governments might try to take control of university life and thinking. It has always been regarded as something vital to university life that there should be absolute freedom within a university for it to teach such subjects as it believes in and to teach those subjects in the way in which it believes, and that there should be no control whatever from any outside bodies or governments. All that is implied in those beliefs is described by the phrase “ academic freedom “. It may be that that phrase in this age is somewhat abused, but the notion of it - that a university should be free of control and have the right to make its own decisions and express its own opinions - is vital to all future development of thought and behaviour in Australia.
In recent years, the Commonwealth Government has been making quite extensive grants to State universities as well as providing for the universities in the Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth has more or less come into that field by expenditure through the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, the rehabilitation of men who served in the second world war and so on. It has been established, however, that the Commonwealth has properly entered the field. When I say that, I mean it is accepted that the Commonwealth is in the field and should remain in the field. That may be due in quite a degree to the uniform taxation policy which has become the law in Australia. It may be due in part also to the fact that, in any event, the Commonwealth would be required to make grants to the States for education under section 96 of the Constitution, because the wants of the States from a university standpoint are so enormous that almost inevitably, even if there had not been uniform taxation, the Commonwealth power under section 96 would have been called upon.
But in making grants for university education, the Commonwealth Government has made it clear that university education is primarily a matter for the States as such. Therefore, when any grants have been made to the States, the relevant legislation has made it clear that the States must match the Commonwealth grants with their own money. That is a very important point and one that should always be remembered. While the Commonwealth has assisted in this matter, primarily the obligation to maintain university education is a State obligation.
The Commonwealth acts have been passed annually. This procedure which has been adopted by the Commonwealth Government of making these grants to the States and passing annual acts in relation to them has been the subject of some discussion by the Public Accounts Committee presided over by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland), and the House has had the benefit of a very valuable report on this matter from that committee. The committee approves of the principle of the Commonwealth Government making grants to the States on the basis that the States still retain the responsibility for university education and must continue to match the Commonwealth grants with their own money. The Public Accounts Committee, as 1 understand its report, does not entirely favour annual acts of Parliament because it rather suggests that, involved in that procedure, is the fact that every year, the position of the universities will come before the Parliament and will be discussed by the Parliament and that eventually the Parliament will think it has the right to exercise control over the universities. That would be quite contrary to the principles which I have earlier expressed and which I believe are generally accepted, namely, that the universities must have control of their own affairs and that they are not to be interfered with in that control by governments.
This matter has been dealt with in England in this way: For many years there has been a Universities Grants Committee. That committee has been described as a specialized institution or a body. It consists of representatives of the Treasury and of universities. It is a committee which makes up its own mind as to what is necessary for each university to receive in the way of grants over a period of five years. That period is long enough to give university policy stability so that for a period of five years ahead, a university will know that it has a certain amount of money available for it to put to particular uses.
The universities make submissions to this Universities Grants Committee. The committee considers whether those submissions should be accepted, in whole or in part, and once it has arrived at its conclusions as to the amount that should be given in respect of each university for the period of five years, it submits its report to the Treasury. The Treasury then accepts that report and makes the grant. It does not interfere in any way with the amount of the grant or the purposes for which the grant is to be used.
It may be said by those who look at the matter from the point of view of the tax payer and of the Treasury that this is a case of the Government giving up control of the purse. It may be said, “ What guarantee have you that the taxpayers’ money will be properly spent? “ The answer to that is that these university bodies realize that from time to time they must again go before the Universities Grants Committee. They must satisfy that committee that the money they have already received has been properly spent, and if they are unable to satisfy the committee in this way they will get no more money. There you have a sanction which has worked out extremely successfully in England. On the one hand you have the universities of England being properly provided with the necessary money to proceed with their development over a five-year period, and on the other hand you have no interference with the principle that university freedom, academic freedom, should remain untouched.
It is this type of principle which is embodied in the bill before the House. It is proposed to establish an Australian Universities Commission, similar to the Universities Grants Committee in England. I am not saying it will be identical, but only that it will be a similar body. It is proposed to ensure that the committee works in the same way, that it maintains close alliance with the Treasury, but that once it has made up its mind it will become more of an executive body than a mere adviser. When it has made up its mind, it will say what it has decided, and then the Treasury will accept that view and the report that is made to it. The money will then be provided in accordance with the report.
As I have said, the committee in England makes its reports over periods of five years. Section 1 5 of the bill before the House provides that the commission shall, in respect of such periods as the Minister directs, furnish to him reports. No definite period is laid down, and, so far as I am aware, the period with which the commission shall deal has not yet been determined. It may be three years, five years, or some other length of time. The reason for providing for five years in England has been that the term of Parliament in normally five years. As the term of Parliament in Australia is three years, it has been suggested that the commission should deal with periods of three years. It does not seem to me that this is necessarily logical, because, in England, although the period of Parliament can be five years, it is not necessarily five years. It is often far less. What is needed in the case of the universities is some assurance that they will be able to budget for a definite amount of work to be done over a fairly long period, such as five years, thus ensuring a degree of stability throughout that period. I do not think that five years would be too long a period for the commission to consider.
Various objections have been raised from time to time as to the feasibility of our following in Australia the precedent set in England by the Universities Grants Committee. It has never seemed to me that these objections, which were more or less of a technical nature, were particularly sound. They seemed to me more in the nature of objections raised in order that action need not be taken, so that it could always be said, “ We are considering the difficulties, and when we have overcome them we will go ahead if possible “. 1 am happy to think that the Government has found that it can go ahead, and that it proposes to do so by means of this bill. 1 believe the legislation will be of tremendous value to the universities of Australia, and that as a result of it the universities will receive the money that they so urgently need, that they will be able to carry out their development, that their students will be enabled to take advantage of the teaching facilities to which youth is entitled, and that we will have all the teaching, development, research and discovery which we will undoubtedly need in this country and which will be of tremendous assistance to us.
.- The Opposition supports this bill. We feel that it is a step in the right direction. We are concerned with the progress of education in this country.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) started off like a young radical, saying that he believed that every person in this country who required a university education should receive one. But then the “ but “ came in - the Government should not interfere with the freedom of universities. That is the conservative view. Primary, technical and secondary educa tion have been provided quite successfully by government educational bodies in Australia. If there is to be any government control of universities, I have no objection so long as the necessary finance is made available. The point I want to make is this: I want to see this Government, or any government, make sufficient money available for us to educate our people.
This Government has, admittedly, increased the amount available for university scholarships from £800,000 in 1951 to £2.300,000 in 1957. But let me point but one fact. During that time this country has spent £200,000,000 on defence. I believe that education and development are among our most effective methods of defence in this atomic age. Honorable members will agree that £2,300,000 is a very small amount when compared with our huge defence expenditure. Admittedly, as a result of the Murray committee’s report. £20,000,000 is to be made available over the next three years for the universities of Australia to carry out construction programmes and pay their teaching staffs, but T would like to say something further on that later.
I believe that insufficient money is being made available by the Commonwealth Government to the State governments, whether they be Labour or Liberal, for primary, technical and secondary education. We know that because of our great immigration programme and the natural increase in our population education in the States is becoming a much heavier responsibility than it was previously. In New South Wales last year, 55 per cent, of all the money made available by the Commonwealth to the State was spent on education, but still it was insufficient. Classes are getting bigger and teachers cannot give the necessary instruction to students. Therefore, in some respects, instead of going forward, we are going backward.
The Teachers’ Federation has been making a grand fight in this regard in New South Wales. Just prior to the federal elections, with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), I attended two meetings in Parramatta with reference to the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility for education. I then made a pledge that when I entered this Parliament I would do my utmost to assist the development of the education services of this country. I believe that the answer is to be found in this Federal Parliament, and that we cannot push off the responsibility onto the State governments. We have control of the taxing powers of this country, and we must use them to the greatest benefit. There are no constitutional barriers. As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) pointed out, there is power under section 51, placitum (XXiiiA), and also under section 96. We can make money available to the States for education, including university education. We must face up to the fact that this is a matter of No. 1 priority. We must educate the youth of the nation if we are to keep it free and make progress.
I should like to refer to passages in the report of the Committee on Australian Universities, better known as the Murray committee report. In the opening passage of the section dealing with scholarships and grants, the committee stated -
The Committee has not found it possible to determine with any precision of detail just what the present position is in regard to the availability of scholarships and grants for students.
Even a body such as that could not determine what the position really was. On 14th April, I placed on the notice-paper a question to which I have not as yet received a reply from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The question reads -
To date, it is all still a big mystery. We know that in bulk £2,300,000 is made available, but I have yet to learn the highest amount that a student may receive. I know that there are so many means tests and strings attached to it that not many people can qualify.
– They exclude quite a few.
– Yes. The committee stated, at page 65 -
Firstly, it has been represented to vis on many sides that the time has come to increase the number of scholarships offered . . .
An amount of £20,000,000 was made available as a result of the committee’s report, to be expended over a period of three years on the construction of buildings and on teaching services in universities. No further money has been made available to increase the number of scholarships granted,, although the committee reported that further scholarships should be provided.
At present only members of a small section of the community can afford to go to* a university. A worker cannot afford to send his children to a university. The provision of this amount of £20,000,000 is only a further subsidizing of a certain section of the community. We should accept a greater responsibility for the provision of scholarships and, as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) said in his opening remarks, we should give opportunity to the youth of this nation. I hope to see the day come when any person who has the ability to attain a certain standard of education will’ have the right to attend a university with all’ expenses paid and to receive the award wage during his period of attendance. When= he receives his degree, he should be under no obligation to the Government. The nation will then be so much richer, because he will have been trained. No strings in the form of a means test should be applied. In many cases the child of a wealthy family may be an idealist, who wants to follow the medical profession or enter the arts or sciences. He may want to contribute something to the welfare of his fellow men, but his father may say that as he had, for instance, been in the flour-milling industryall his life, as his father had before him,, his son should go into the same business. Honorable members may smile, but they know that that sort of thing happens. Theego of man still operates to-day. I therefore believe that any person who has the ability and desire to serve his fellow men* should be given an opportunity of obtaininga university education. If he has the capacity to attain a certain standard of education he should be able to go through auniversity course without any stringsattached.
I want to direct attention to another passage in the report of the Murray committee.. The report deals not only with scholarshipshut also with bonded students. When theGovernment faces up to its responsibility, it should give attention to bonded students. The passage reads -
In general, the bonded student receives moregenerous financial treatment than the scholarship- student or the holders of other grams. His award is not subject to a means test and his living allowance is calculated on an altogether more generous scale. This is a considerable inducement to the student who is not well off to accept bonding. On the other hand he must honour his bond, and in the great majority of cases he has little or no chance of putting his hand on the money which would be necessary to buy his freedom. In other words, at an early age, sometimes at a very early age, he bonds himself to give so many years’ service as a teacher or an engineer in order to secure for himself a university education. If in the light of the opportunities which the university opens before him, he finds he would be much better suited to some other career, there is nothing that he can do during his student life; and by the time he has finished a course which he may not like and given his required service in a profession for which he may not be suited, it is usually too late for him to turn towards another vocation, even though in it he might be more valuable to the community. Tn the meantime his university opportunities have been in large measure wasted.
The Murray committee sums up the matter by saying -
But from the general educational point of view, and in the long-term interests of the community, bonding is a bad system.
I believe that it is, too. This Government must face the responsibility of giving more scholarships and higher remuneration to students who take them. I say that because this condition of bonding is found in two fields. The State education authorities bond student teachers, and in private enterprise some trainees are bonded. The Federal Government makes money available to the States, which in some cases has been wasted on bonded students. I think that if private enterprise bonds a student the amount it expends on that student is allowable as a taxation deduction from its company’s profits. It would be better, right at the beginning) for the Commonwealth Government to make scholarships available to people who have the ability to attain a certain standard of education and when they obtain their degree they will be able to face the many great responsibilities for which they are trained.
That view might be somewhat radical to some people but under the present system we are going backwards. We are not facing the great international implications of advanced education. We know that in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics university education has gone ahead with leaps and bounds. If Australia cannot do something similar then the only hope is a change of government so that the party on this side of the House can carry out a policy such as I have advocated.
– I congratulate the Government on the introduction of the legislation now before the House. It is indeed a very fine thing in promise towards the development of a better and more evenly balanced system of university education and possibly in other aspects than has been provided in any previous legislation. However, this Government recognized what was necessary when it introduced legislation based on the Murray committee’s report.
The two bills under consideration propose, first, the setting up of an Australian Universities Commission. In the second place, because the expression “ Australian Universities Commission “ conflicts with the wording of the original Education Act passed in 1945 to establish the Commonwealth Office of Education and a universities commission, it is proposed that the term which will apply in future to the education activities of what was formerly the Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be altered by omitting the word “ commission “ and replacing it by the word “ board “. This is done for the express purpose of preventing confusion between the respective activities.
At the outset, it is well to make clear what is proposed in the legislation, that is, to set up a universities commission and delete from the 1945 act words which may lead to confusion. At the same time, the reason should be made plain why it would be a thousand pities if this action implied any denigration of the importance of the Office of Education. It is proposed that the word “ board “ shall be used in connexion with the activity of the Commonwealth Office of Education, and that this word shall be substituted ‘for the former word “ commission “ throughout the legislation. I feel that there is some substance in the statement of an American president - I am not sure that it was not Roosevelt - that he did not like boards. He added, “ A .board is a thing that is hard and narrow and uncomfortable to sit upon “.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who said that he had some doubts as to why the Commonwealth Office of Education should be continued. It is not often that I find myself in serious disagreement with the honorable member and, although his point was raised in a tentative fashion, I find that it contains the seeds of something which might bode ill for the Office of Education if it continues and thrives, as I hope it will. The honorable member is in considerable doubt whether there is, first, a necessity for the Office of Education, secondly, whether the functions it discharges should be as extensive as they are at present, and thirdly, whether the board will be necessary if the Australian Universities Commission is set up and whether the importance of its work will justify its continuance?
My own study of this question dates back to the 1930’s. In 1936 I travelled abroad to study certain aspects of education. I visited Washington and observed the activities of the United States Commissioner of Education - I think his name was Mr. Studebaker. I discussed with him and his expert staff the value of the work that he was doing. Honorable members who can cast their minds back to those days will agree, I feel sure, that the work placed under the control of Mr. Studebaker arose from a sudden recognition on the part of the United States people of the horrible and deplorable condition of technical education in their country in that very critical period of its history. The President of the day set in motion a scheme to overhaul the system and the committee that dealt with education in the United States at the time - a very influential and well-informed committee - recommended the expenditure of. I think, about 33,000,000 dollars in order to improve the general standards of education, particularly vocational education. As a result, the United States Commission of Education came into existence. The commission commenced its operations with a relatively moderate allocation of funds compared with what it would get to-day. It did not tell the several States of the Union what they should do. It had no more power to do that than we have to tell the States of the Commonwealth what they should do. However, the commission did tell the American States that if they accepted specified standards they would receive grants of money for certain purposes. The net result was that in the
United States not only was the importance of the vocational aspect of education recognized, but also there has been considerable extension of education along those lines since that time.
In Australia the first real move was made under the guise - it was really more than a guise - of providing machinery for advising the Commonwealth Government with regard to the assistance, financial and otherwise, to be provided for discharged members of the forces. But there is another reason why the Commonwealth Office of Education should continue to function and why its director and staff should be supported financially and not discouraged.
Section 5 (2.) of the Education Act reads -
The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be -
to advise the Minister on matters relating to education;
to establish and maintain a liaison, on matters relating to education, with other countries and the States;
to arrange consultation between Commonwealth authorities concerned with matters relating to education;
to undertake research relating to education;-
Not university education, but all aspects of education -
Under the second bill, the Education Bill 1959, a new sub-section will be added to that section, the purport of which will be to require the Commonwealth Office of Education to advise the Minister, in relation to university education, with respect to such matters only as the Minister directs. In other words, what we are doing now is bringing into existence by one act of Parliament an ad hoc body to deal purely with university education and matters immediately ancillary thereto. The Education Act, which has operated satisfactorily for fourteen years, is to be amended so that responsible Ministers can be advised on all aspects of education, particularly those aspects that impinge upon the affairs of the States vis-a-vis the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is assuming very great responsibilities. When I was a Minister in the New South Wales Government I found that the greatest difficulty with the Commonwealth set-up was that there was nobody in Cabinet or elsewhere really competent in this field to advise or direct the work of education. There was an excellent public servant here in Canberra - I think he was the secretary of the Department of the Interior - for whose knowledge of these matters I had a great respect, but the responsibility of education was handed over to the States. There was practically no factual, concise and authoritative information readily available to Ministers, and as far as I could see there was no desire on the part of any Minister here to interfere in what he considered to be the responsibility of the States. If we look at this capital city of Canberra we find that in the eighteen years since I held ministerial office in the New South Wales Government, it has grown considerably. Quite obviously the day is approaching when it will no longer be desirable or practicable to lean upon New South Wales for the development of education in the Australian Capital Territory.
As far as I arn aware, education in the Northern Territory and in certain other Territories of the Commonwealth is the responsibility of more than one State. South Australia may be responsible for one part of the Northern Territory and Queensland for another part. When we consider the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, surely nobody will suggest that it would be wise to undermine the Commonwealth Office of Education or to detract in any way from the powers of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board which is to replace the Universities Commission. I do not like the word “ board “. I believe that the name of the body as we have known it in the past should remain. There need be no conflict with the Australian Universities Commission. I believe that one of the essential things that we must seek when we consider the education of our aboriginal population, the expansion of our territories, the growth of this capital city, and the growing problems of interlocking State and Commonwealth education responsibilities, is not a degrading of the present authority but rather an endeavour to use the present facilities to the full. This is so, irrespective of the advice it gives entirely outside the field of university education - although at present it advises on that - in South-East Asia under the Colombo Plan and in connexion with United Nations activities.
In these things there is not a limited field such as university education. There is the widest and broadest field of the whole system of education which must be looked at in its entirety. I refer particularly to primary, secondary, technical and vocational education, domestic science, agricultural science and applied science. With all due respect to the doubts which have been raised, I do not think that they can be wisely sustained.
I come, now, to one or two points of great importance which arose from the speech of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). One of them concerned the financial trend in the States which has been responsible for the situation which this piece of legislation is partially intended to meet. Let us face the facts. I think that I know them quite as well as any one in this House. After the first world war, every State in the Commonwealth found itself confronted with a rapidly expanding school population, an economy rapidly changing from primary to secondary, and the tremendous leeway of the period when men thought in terms of education almost as a charity unless it was paid for by the student at 3d. a week.
The records of 1936 show that the States held a meeting in Melbourne in that year, drew up a plan, and presented it to the Commonwealth. That plan plainly established the fact that even though the States had their powers of taxation they were utterly unable to face up to the tremendous demands which were being made upon their resources in order to overcome problems of unemployment, on the one hand, and in order to prepare for what was looming in relation to defence on the other. That case was put before Commonwealth Ministers. It was quite fruitless in its immediate result, I believe, because there was no office of education in Canberra. There was no responsible officer with an experienced staff who could put the matters before a Minister and there was no Minister with sufficient real background of the matter to argue it in Cabinet. It was a problem which had slowly emerged out of the past juvenile state of Australia and it did not seriously engage the thoughts of men until the war dragged us into it.
It is of little value for us, to-day, to bewail what I believe has gone forever. I believe it is truly impossible to turn back the book and say that the sheer independence of the States shall be what it was before the war of 1914. I say that as one who profoundly believes in trying to maintain our federal system reasonably intact. We must face up to the fact that time has moved on and seek a solution to the problem of the financial independence of the States, not by trying to create a complex system of taxation, but rather by trying to ensure to the States a certain share of revenue - this can be supplemented in proper proportion by the States themselves - and so enable them to retain on the one hand, their independence within reasonable limits and, on the other hand, a real financial capacity to discharge their share of responsibilities.
There is a special task, however, for either the new Australian Universities Commission - it may be that body if one can read certain implications into the Treasurer’s speech the other night - or the Commonwealth Scholarships Board which will now be set up. There is grave concern in the State of New South Wales, which has found expression in certain letters to the press, as to proposals which have emanated from the secondary schools committee. This is a very fine body which, I think, was presided over by the DirectorGeneral of Education in New South Wales. It may be thought that this has very little relevance to this matter. I hope to make it clear that it has a very real application indeed. In 1937, just prior to the war, legislation was enacted in New South Wales which provided for a complete alteration to the system of examinations in the schools. Instead of an intermediate examination leading to the university leaving certificate, there was to be a fourth year lower leaving certificate. A student could either leave at that stage or go on for one or two years of honours courses, leading to the university.
That was of very great importance, for this reason: There are many students who, for various reasons not always associated with wealth or lack of it, want to leave after four years. With that leaving certificate, they could go on to commerce or industry fairly effectively equipped for the purpose. But if they had the extra year or two of specialized study two things were possible: The first was that the failure rate in the universities to which one honorable member has referred would be markedly reduced; secondly, the tendency to overload the universities with immature students could be very considerably overcome. However, many parents have expressed the fear that they would not be able to stand the expense of those students who would want to take a final fifth or sixth year, as the case might be, leading to the university. I think that it is eminently sound now to introduce the system which was provided for in the legislation of 1937, but was not proceeded with because of the onset of war. However, now that this system is to be introduced, with all the likelihood that it will greatly improve the average pass rate of our universities, I think that the Commonwealth, either through the Australian Universities Commission or through the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, should seriously consider whether the best results will be achieved for the universities unless it faces up to this economic problem. I pass on from that, Sir, to the need for this proposed commission to overhaul the situation as quickly as possible.
Although I compliment the Government on having arrived at the stage at which the commission is to be appointed to go into the various matters that arise, I also urge that, if the selection of the members of the commission is not complete, there should be on it a member with a university background - not necessarily a university professor, but a man trained in universities - who has a real knowledge of the problems of education in the country areas. I think that that is absolutely essential in order to get a balanced view on the part of the commission. If we appoint to it only men from Sydney, Melbourne, or even Adelaide - only men from the cities - we shall be apt to lose some of the advice which would be of immeasurable advantage to the balanced system of university education which this bill proposes to bring into existence. So I urge the Government to appoint to the commission a trained university man with a thorough knowledge of the problems of education in the country.
It has been pointed out that this bill is of a non-party character. I suppose that it is unusual for any one in political life to pay tribute to somebody who belongs to an opposing political party, but I should like to pay tribute to the Honorable R. J. Heffron, the Minister for Education in New South Wales, who has now entered upon a record term as Minister, or who is very close to it, for the non-party approach that he has consistently brought to the discharge of his great task. I know perfectly well that without the backing of the Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales he could not have achieved what he has been able to achieve, and I pay tribute to Mr. Cahill also for the part that he has played. I think that, in dealing with a non-party matter, it does no harm to keep it on a non-party basis by giving credit were credit is due. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in spite of all that has been attempted, and much that has been done, in New South Wales, there is a very considerable leeway to make up.
I remarked earlier, Sir, on the impact on schools and universities of the leeway in ideas and money compared to population after World War I. We face a much more acute problem to-day, and for that reason I hope that the proposed commission will be given all the necessary powers to review all aspects of education.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- The House is holding a joint second-reading debate on two bills, the Australian Universities Commission Bill and the Education Bill, the latter of which is to amend the Education Act 1945.
The first bill establishes an Australian Universities Commission. It provides in clause 13 that -
In this case, the Prime Minister - on matters in connexion with the grant by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities . . .
Clause 14 provides that - (1.) The Commission shall perform its functions with a view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage of Australia.
We of the Opposition, Sir, heartily support the bill, lt is completely in accord with our aspirations and ideals for the education provided by our universities. We also approve of it dealing with universities on an Australia-wide basis. In fact, the only criticism which has come from any part of the House concerning the bill came from the honorable and gallant member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). He would have us regard university education - and all forms of education - as primarily State matters. I thought it was significant that he should have brought out the old cliche about piling Pelion on Ossa; a Balkan metaphor typical of the balkanization which conservatives seek to preserve in our legislation and administration. Conservatives stress that every matter which affects the welfare of the population as a whole, every matter which concerns equality of opportunity for Australian citizens should remain on the original, the archaic, the State basis. Thus they assert that education was awarded to the States by the Constitution.
The word “ education “ nowhere occurs in the Constitution. It is true that at the time of federation the States ran all the schools. They subsidized, to a very small extent indeed, the rudimentary universities which had been established in the six Australian colonies.
– If the power over education is not given to the Commonwealth in the Constitution it must be a residual power.
– That is so. If the Commonwealth Parliament does not pass an act within its power, then the field is left entirely to the States; but if the Commonwealth Parliament passes an act within its power, then it exercises concurrent power with the States, and if the legislation of the Commonwealth is inconsistent with that of the States, the Commonwealth legislation prevails to the extent of inconsistency.
There are two ways in which the Commonwealth can deal with matters such as education. One is by granting financial assistance to the States on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. Another is to provide benefits to students. Again, the States may refer any particular aspect of education to the Commonwealth. The universities have improved since the war solely because the Commonwealth has provided the funds and the incentive for that improvement. The universities could not maintain their present standards if it were not for the Commonwealth’s participation in university education. They could never hope to improve their standards if it were not for an increasing Commonwealth participation in education.
The conservative attitude towards education, health, housing and other matters which are said to remain with the States seems to flow from two attitudes. The first is the old Hapsburg maxim that you divide and rule. If you divide Australian governments, and the functions of Australian governments, big business rules. The second is that only the Commonwealth has adequate funds, the financial resilience, to improve the standards of education, or any other social service of any kind in Australia. It has that, because the Constitution gives it the sole power to raise the only remunerative indirect taxes - excise and customs - and geography has imposed on it the necessity of raising the most remunerative and fair taxes in Australia - namely, direct taxes on income. If any activity is left with the States, the extension of that activity is automatically restricted.
I may make some later references to the State aspect of education; but on the question of universities and the assistance which is to be given to all universities for their buildings and their salaries, there is no question that, except for the honorable member for Chisholm, to judge from some of his remarks, the whole House supports and applauds the Universities Commission Bill. The commission will carry out the functions which, for 40 years, have been carried out in the United Kingdom by the Universities Grants Committee, whose charter is to inquire into the financial needs of university education in the United Kingdom and to advise the United Kingdom Government as to the application of any grants which may be made by Parliament towards meeting them. I think we can look forward to the advice of the Australian Universities Commission being accepted by the Commonwealth Parliament as readily and automatically as the advice of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is accepted by the Commonwealth Parliament and as the advice of the United Kingdom Universities Grants Committee is accepted by the United Kingdom Parliament. So we can expect with confidence an improvement of university standards in Australia, an improvement in university buildings and an improvement in the terms and conditions of employment of the staffs of universities.
I now pass to the Education Bill. The bill can be summarized by saying that it re-names the Universities Commission, established by the Education Act 1945, as the Commonwealth Scholarships Board.
– Let us hope it will make some scholarships available.
– I shall refer to that aspect of scholarships in the light of the Murray committee’s report. The Murray committee, Sir, recommended that the number of scholarships should be increased and that their value should be increased, and that the increase in each case should be substantial. Paragraph 236 of the report states -
We conclude that the number of scholarships offered should be increased without delay. Accordingly, we recommend that the Commission-
Now to be the Commonwealth Scholarships Board - should be asked to make specific proposals about the number required. We have had many discussions with the universities about the quality and progress of Commonwealth scholars, and in general we see every reason to suppose that the qualifying level of marks which has been adopted by the Commission has proved in experience to be well chosen and would serve in general as a good guide for determining the number of scholarships which should be offered in the immediate future.
Paragraph 237 states -
Secondly, it has also been frequently suggested to us that the operation of the means test in determining the living allowances which were paid in some cases to scholarship holders is too severe. We understand that in general the Commission takes the view that parents should contribute as much as they can afford to the maintenance of a scholar, and that the scholar should be encouraged to help himself as far as possible, without prejudice to his studies, by engaging in employment during the long vacation and should not expect to rely on his scholarship allowance for full maintenance. We have especially asked ourselves whether the operation of the means test in particular and of this policy in general causes good students to be lost to the universities or causes hardship and anxieties which hinder the work and progress of students who are actually pursuing their courses there. It seems to us that there is considerable evidence that both these effects are being produced, and perhaps in an increasing number of cases. We very much hope that the Commission will continue its investigations into this matter and that, if these confirm our views, it will be enabled to take steps, whether by easing very substantially the scales of the means test or by some system of hardship loans, to remedy the present position.
That recommendation, Sir, was presented by the Murray committee to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 19th September, 1957. A year later, some modifications, but not substantial ones, were made in the means test. They came into operation last month when the universities commenced their 1959 year, but no increase has yet been made in the number of scholarships. The qualification of the means test was of this magnitude: The maximum living allowance was increased from £195 to £221 for scholars living at home and from £229 to £338 for scholars living away from home. These maximum allowances were to be paid only where the scholar was the sole dependent child, and where the family income was £675 a year or less. The previous maxii. urn was £650. It will be seen, Sir, that the modifications were far from substantial.
I said that there had been no increase in the number of scholarships. Last August, the Prime Minister explained that fact in a statement outside the House, although the House was sitting, by saying -
The Government is not at this stage increasing the number of Commonwealth scholarships because university accommodation is already under great pressure, and the Murray committee had reported heavy failure rates. However, the Universities Commission has been asked to keep the need for additional scholarships under review. An increase in applicants for scholarships, and in the universities’ capacity to cope with more students, would warrant the question of extra scholarships being re-examined.
I do not doubt that the Universities Commission has considered this matter in the year and a half since the Murray committee made that recommendation, but it is certain that the Prime Minister has ignored or rejected the recommendations of the Universities Commission in that regard. The Prime Minister’s reason for deferring the implementation of the Murray committee’s report on this matter is that overcrowding would be occasioned in the universities if more scholarships were made available. There are two ways in which accommodation at universities can be rationed. The first is the honest way of basing it on the capacity and diligence of the scholar or prospective scholar. The second is to impose economic pressure. Any honorable member would say that he believes that diligence and capacity should be the only criteria, but the Prime Minister has said almost explicitly that economic pressure is to be the method of keeping down the numbers of people entering the universities. Better students may be available, but they are not to be admitted unless their parents are able to support them at the universities. More and more people are entering the universities; more and more people hold Commonwealth scholarships, but not because more scholarships are being made available. No more scholarships are made available each year than were made available when the scheme was instituted, but because some university courses are quite long, the number of people there is increasing each year, although the number of new scholarships being issued remains static.
In answer to my questions on notice on 9th September last and the 8th of this month, the Prime Minister gave me figures which show that the number of students receiving the full living allowance has not increased - it is just the same as it was when the scheme was introduced, although many more people are now in receipt of scholarships - that the number of people receiving part living allowance has not gone ur> since 1953, and that the number of people receiving no living allowance at all has gone up very considerably. It has increased by 2,200 since the scheme was introduced. I can only hope that the Prime Minister’s activity in introducing this amending Education Bill and renaming the Universities Commission as the Commonwealth Scholarship Board will mean that at last the board will make the recommendations or the Prime Minister will accept the recommendations of the Murray committee made a year and a half ago that the number of scholarships should hp greatly increased and that the value of the scholarships should b°.. not slightly but substantip 11v. increased.
Since this is a bill amending the Education Act 1945 - the first bill amending that act - I propose to launch into some wider subjects which are not apposite to the bills before us but which are permitted by the Standing Orders whenever an act is being amended. I therefore refer to the general activities of the Commonwealth Office of Education set up by the 1945 act and slightly restricted, but in a permissible way, by the two bills we are now discussing. Reference has already been made to the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the Commonwealth Office of Education. If I may say so with respect, it bears the mark of the chairman of the committee; it reflects the nineteenth century and State rights attitude. There seems to be some satisfaction expressed in the very great reduction in the staff of the office. It is significant, Sir, that when in 1951 the Government decided to reduce the number of public servants, the instrumentality of the Commonwealth which suffered by far the largest proportionate loss was the Commonwealth Office of Education. It lost well over 60 per cent, of its personnel. Paragraphs 16 and 17 of the committee’s report state -
Before the Government decision in July, 1951, to reduce public service staffs there were 375 persons employed by the Office … By September, 1953, the staff had been reduced to 158, a reduction of 217 persons.
– There had been some transfer of functions. For example, the Office of Education used to deal with native education in the Northern Territory and the Northern Territory Administration took it over.
– How many people were involved in that?
– I cannot say offhand, but some of them would be included in the figures you have given.
– Another example, of course, is that the Current Affairs Bulletin has been farmed out to the University of Sydney and some functions under the Colombo Plan have gone to the Department of External Affairs. But whatever way one looks at it, there has been a very great diminution of the personnel and the activities of the Commonwealth Office of Education. That is well shown by the fact that in the Budget for the financial year 1950-51, the salaries of the office reached £227,000. In 1953-54, they had sunk to £126,000. The subsequent small rises have been due entirely to the adjustments of salaries of people who were and still are on the staff. The present appropriation is still £80,000 less than it was eight years ago. I would think it is a shameful thing that the Government’s principal economy was in respect of education.
– That is not a fair comment.
– I would like the Minister to quote one other instance where there was even half as great a proportionate reduction in personnel or in expenditure. I would have thought that the honorable gentleman, who is one of the men on the Government side who has extensive academic experience, would have been ashamed of that reduction. I hear an interjection also from another Western Australian, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). The only interjections from the Government side are from two honorable gentlemen representing Western Australia, the only State-
– Have you no State loyalty?
– I regard people as Australians primarily. Our aspiration on this side is that people who are born in Australia or who come to Australia should have the opportunity of the fullest education that Australia can offer. Their opportunities for education should not be restricted as they were a few years ago to the State where they were born or raised. The honorable gentlemen who have interjected know that the University of Western Australia was the only one in Australia where education was freely available to everybody who passed the appropriate examination, but the facilities available, before the Commonwealth came into the field, provided no education in medicine, or dentistry, or in faculties which required more than basic scientific and library equipment.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– I wish the Minister for the Interior were a better alumnus of that institution. He comes from a State which I think must have benefited from Commonwealth participation more than any other State. I do not object to that. I regard it as entirely desirable. After all, I belong to a political party which, in government, introduced the State grants and uniform taxation which have made the opportunities for university education and other social services in kind equally available for everybody in Australia. The honorable gentlemen opposite come from a State which derives three and a half times as much of its income from Commonwealth taxation as it does from the State’s own taxation. Let us get the comparison. South Australia and Tasmania derive two and a half times as much of their income from Commonwealth taxation as they do from their own taxation. The three other States derive more of their income from the Commonwealth than from within their own jurisdiction.
There is no doubt that all the universities in Australia now derive more of their income from the Commonwealth than from the States and very much more than they used to derive from private benefactions upon which some of them were fortunate enough to be able to rely to a great extent. Before the war, the Universities of Sydney and Western Australia received more income from benefactions than from the State government.
Let me refer to some of the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education which can be carried out by the Commonwealth and not by the States. I refer to section 5 of the Education Act which states -
The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be -
to establish and maintain a liaison, on matters relating to education, with other countries and the States;
to arrange consultation between Com monwealth authorities concerned with matters relating to education;
to provide statistics and information relating to education required by any Commonwealth authority; and (0 to advise the Minister concerning the grant of financial assistance to the States and to other authorities for educational purposes.
It is true that the States could have co-ordinated their standards, but they never did so and a consequence is now that if a child who is at secondary school is taken by his parents from one State to another, he will lose any scholarship he earned in the first State because these scholarships are payable only to persons attending secondary schools in that State and he will be too late to get a scholarship in the State to which he moves. Again, the level of education varies from State to State. Let me refer. Sir, to Table 1 in the Murray committee’s report. You will see there that pupils enter upon secondary education in Victoria and Tasmania in their seventh year at school, in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia in their eighth year and in Queensland in their tenth year. They remain at school to get the leaving certificate or matriculation after five years in New South Wales or Western Australia. They remain four years in Queensland to secure both qualifications. In Victoria, they secure the leaving certificate after five years and matriculation after another year. In Tasmania, they secure the leaving certificate after four years and matriculation after another year.
I shall refer to the experience which will befall many thousands of children when they are transferred from Victoria to Canberra where the New South Wales system applies. 1 have quoted the difference which now exists. Within three years, however, the New South Wales Department of Education is to adopt the Wyndham report which recommends a leaving certificate after four years compared with five years in Victoria, and a matriculation certificate after a further two years in contrast with one year in Victoria. These differences are an impediment to a great many people who are employed by large companies which operate in more than one State or by Commonwealth instrumentalities. The Commonwealth Office of Education should be permitted to use the functions given to it by the 1945 act to urge the co-ordination of educational standards in Australia. The Commonwealth at present subsidizes the States to perpetuate and accentuate their educational differences and divergences. Parents and pupils should not be hindered from accepting more interesting, remunerative or useful employment in one State or Territory rather than another State or Territory because the standards differ between those States and Territories.
There are even differences, of course, between the two Territories administered by the Ministers who have been interjecting. The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have different educational systems. A great many people transfer from one Territory to another, and the children immediately have the disadvantage of having to repeat a year which they had already studied in the Territory from which they came or catch up with a subject in the Territory to which they have moved.
The States cannot even agree on minor matters. School holidays differ from one State to another. The States refuse to hold Education Week in the same week throughout Australia. They have refused a suggestion of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust that the intermediate or leaving certificate students should have the same Shakespearean play to study even although that would mean that the trust could put on plays more frequently or students could see the plays which otherwise they merely have to read. There are even differing matriculation requirements for some faculties at the three universities in New South Wales.
I want to conclude by a reference to the last Premiers’ Conference at which the then Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Hawke, asked the Prime Minister to consider setting up a committee like the Murray committee to investigate secondary and technical education. The Prime Minister replied that he would send a considered letter to all the Premiers. On 12th March, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) asked the Prime Minister whether he had yet sent a reply. The Prime Minister said he was still preparing it. Yesterday the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) asked the acting Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) whether a reply had yet been sent. Apparently it had not. The offhand reasons given at the Premiers’ Conference by the Prime Minister are illuminating. He said that the Commonwealth got into university education only because of historical reasons - that is, re-establishment after the second world war. He said that if the Commonwealth went into school education, it would be expensive.
On this side of the House, we believe that, firstly, the Commonwealth should help to close the gap between the school leaving age and university entry age by employing its constitutional power to pay benefits to students and that, secondly, the Commonwealth should provide State grants for other tertiary institutions and for secondary and technical institutions. We should provide grants to the States for other tertiary institutions which are not at present covered, such as teachers’, agricultural, theological and technical colleges and teaching hospitals. We should provide the same assistance in improving buildings and salaries at technical and secondary schools, as the Commonwealth has already shown that it has the power to do if it has the will in regard to the universities and the universities alone. The States would accept a Commonwealth offer of participation in secondary, technical and other tertiary institutions as they have accepted the Commonwealth’s participation in university education. The Commonwealth should itself pay scholarships to students at such institutions.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, we have never spent so much time listening to something so unrelated to the legislation before the House as we have tonight. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) first proceeded to give us an exposition, somewhat inexpertly, of the Constitution, and then he delivered himself of a long litany on Western AustraliaCommonwealth financial relationships. Then, under shadow of the Standing Orders, he proceeded to discuss the Commonwealth Office of Education, a subject which could not by any stretch of discretion, I submit, be regarded as having anything to do with the two bills before the chamber at present.
– That is a reflection on the Chair. It is scandalous. Apologize to the Chair!
– I think that if any apology is necessary it ought to come from the honorable member for Werriwa. He said that everybody in this chamber supports this legislation. Not being content with making that statement or giving the reasons why it is supported, he then went on to use the time of the House for his own purposes, which are unrelated, I submit, to the business before the House.
This bill raises from the investigations of the Murray committee. The Murray committee, I believe, was a very fine body, brought into being to perform a most valuable service. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) introduced the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1958, he foreshadowed that this legislation would come before the House. The States Grants (Universities) Bill 1958 dealt with finance in its proper sense, and I, therefore, do not propose to deal in any way with finance. The principal recommendations from which this bill flowed are to be found in chapter VI. of the Murray committee report, in sub-division 3, and particularly in paragraphs 306 to 309 inclusive. I think it is proper to record the Prime Minister’s own personal interest in this legislation, and not only in the legislation but also in the formation of the committee which preceded it. There was obviously a recognition of the problems which confronted the universities of Australia at the time when the committee was established.
As I see it, this bill has three primary purposes. First, it achieves a co-ordination of development of all the present and future universities which will serve the tertiary education needs of Australia. Its second achievement is in giving the opportunity to individual universities to plan ahead. The present position is unsatisfactory, in that the legislation provides for annual grants. There was, of course, the emergency legislation providing for capital expenditure and, to some extent, for running costs, which was recently passed, but that too was unsatisfactory, in that the universities were not given the opportunity to plan sufficiently far ahead. The existing legislation is unsatisfactory in another way. When the universities, under that legislation, wished to put anything to the Government, they had to place the matter before public servants of the Government, who may not have been in a position adequately to comprehend the needs of the universities and the reasoning behind their requests. If I may use the term, I. believe that these requests were dealt with empirically, in an ad hoc fashion. The bill before us provides that recommendations and appeals by universities will be dealt with by people who are in close and constant touch with university affairs and needs. The third benefit that the bill confers is a benefit enjoyed by all concerned, and particularly the universities themselves. Every one will profit from the close contact that will be created between the commission and the universities.
With regard to the first achievement, let me quote a short sentence from the Minister’s second-reading speech, which, I think, gives a fairly adequate description of the functions of the proposed commission -
It will not be a body of coercion; its whole success will depend upon its securing the confidence and trust of all those who are interested in the universities.
The reason why this co-operation is necessary is that in university activities to-day there is a growing necessity to install expensive equipment. This is being done in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom on a regional basis. There has been a growing tendency to establish interuniversity boards to control the use of expensive machinery such as atom-smashers and the like. The Murray committee made this point very succinctly in paragraph 306 of its report, in which it said -
Then again there is the question of the very expensive machines, for instance in the field of physics. No country could afford to sprinkle these about indiscriminately, and there must be considered agreement between universities about their placing and their use. In the United States and the United Kingdom some extremely costly machines have been or are being established and serviced on some central site, used by several universities, and perhaps controlled by an interuniversity board. Distances in Australia are great: but some of the installations concerned are quite immensely expensive, so that co-ordination may have to be accepted. There is no doubt that the university systems necessary to meet the future are going to make very exacting demands on the national economies. No country is going to be able to afford to be unnecessarily extravagant in duplicating expensive establishments and departments. It is not going to be simply a matter of saving money on universities for hospitals and schools and other national services; it is going to be a hard necessity to save money where it can be spared in order to allot it to another place where it is needed inside the universities themselves.
This legislation opens up the prospect of planning the faculties and schools of individual universities so that there will be as little overlapping as possible in the provision of expensive departments. The Murray committee put this matter very clearly in another part of the same paragraph:
Sound university planning for expansion to meet Australian needs also requires some degree of coordination of the ideas and programmes of the different universities. Some has already been achieved. For instance among the ten universities there are two veterinary schools; it may well be necessary to establish a third, but veterinary schools are among the most expensive of university departments and nobody would propose that every university, or even every State, should establish one for itself. There are other schools such as Oriental studies, ecology, genetics, or geophysics, to take widely differing instances, which certainly need to be provided in Australia, but equally certainly not in every university.
The value of this commission in achieving co-ordination in the various fields will be readily appreciated in the near future.
Then, of course, another advantage will be found in the capacity of individual universities to plan ahead for the enlargement of buildings and professorial staffs and the extension of teaching departments. I assume, along with my friend, the honorable member for Werriwa, that the recommendations of this commission will be accepted by the Government without question, and I believe that the commission, which undoubtedly will be a wellestablished, sensible and responsible body, will take into account, when it issues its reports, the very tiresome necessity for heads of departments and1 administrative officers of universities to scrape in order to make ends meet. With the establishment of this commission, I believe, both the administrative staff and the teaching staff will be relieved of a great deal of that administrative headache.
Another important feature which will be achieved by the commission, I believe, will be a co-ordination of estimates by the universities of the growth of population. It is an interesting fact that a committee as distinguished as the Murray committee, which reported in September, 1947, erred even at that time in its expectation of university enrolments. Already, in this short period since the report was made, the Murray committee has been shown to have erred on the low side in estimating the number of enrolments.
It is interesting also to note that the honorable member for Werriwa, in attacking the Government concerning Commonwealth scholarships, said that there had been no increase, or very little increase, in the number of those scholarships. Yet it is unchallengeable that the university population has increased immensely over the last few years. That, of course, is one of the prime reasons tor the difficulties in which universities find themselves and one of the reasons for the necessity to create this commission.
The bill proposes that the commission will be composed of from two to four members, plus a chairman. It was not indicated in the Minister’s second-reading speech how many in fact will be appointed. I suppose whether there will be two, three, or four in addition to the chairman will depend initially upon the achievement of a balanced commission, of which I shall say more shortly.
– Not any more!
– This commission will be composed largely of experts and there may even be some psychologists to examine the problems of the honorable member for Grayndler. The commission may be assisted by specialist committees, as provided in clause 17. There may be some inherent danger in that provision. I should be very reluctant to see the autonomy - if that is the proper term - of the commission in any way debilitated by the creation of specialist committees which, because of their specialized knowledge, would inevitably view matters in a specialized way. I hope that those committees will in no way debilitate the autonomy of the commission itself.
– Can you bring that down to the level of the non-U roughnecks?
– I shall do my best to bring it to your level.
– Thank you very much.
– If I speak in words of two syllables, it will be beyond you.
– If you know some.
– Get back to your pavements and overhanging trees. There will, of course, be the added advantage from this legislation that the commission will be able to create a closer understanding between the administrative and teaching staffs of universities, and to a great degree will be able to resolve the conflict of personalities which must inevitably occur in university life. Such a conflict occurs here, and it occurs also in even greater degree in university life, and I feel that the commission, experienced as its members will be, going from one university to another and from one faculty to another, will be able to resolve these difficulties and rationalize personal conflict between individuals. Then, of course, the inter-university boards, which may have to control expensive equipment, will be most valuable. There will also be an opportunity for proper sharing of incoming and newly enrolling students.
In the past there has been a suggestion that such a commission as is now to be appointed under this bill should be made up of a representative, or more than one representative, from all universities. That, of course, would be, I submit, a hopeless situation. It would almost certainly prevent the creation of any new universities, because if the people who formed the commission were themselves beneficiaries from the Commonwealth of a limited amount of money they would be inclined, naturally, to preclude the creation of new universities, because any new university would automatically be another beneficiary of that money.
While we are debating the effects of this bill, I think it is most important to consider with some caution some aspects of it. For instance, I feel that it would be a very bad thing if this commission itself grew into a big administrative organism. That is always a danger with any commission which is created. If it were to become a big administrative organism, it would immediately lose that close and constant contact, which is so necessary to its proper functioning, between the Government and the universities and in the relations of universities with one another. Another factor is that there must not be any diminution of the independence of the universities. I believe that they ought to be absolutely selfgoverning and autonomous in every way. They are, of course, dependent to a great extent on Government finance. University finance is becoming more and more a matter for governments, but there must be no diminution of the autonomy of the individual university.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said -
We hope the new body will help the universities to carry their responsibilities in a better way because of the advice it will give. “ Advice “ used in that context appears rather harmless but, of course, advice too frequently tendered tends after a period of time to become almost an order, and I think it would be a very sad thing for Aus tralian universities and for tertiary education in general if there were any diminution of the autonomy of Australian universities. A third point is that universities are set up by State legislation and in my view there must be no intrusion by the Commonwealth Government into that State legislative field.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Fawkner, I am glad to hear, shares my view on this matter, as on so many other matters. The undeniable fact, of course, is that the Commonwealth Government is at present the only sovereign body in the field of finance in Australia and there may be a temptation at some time in the far distant future - so far in the future that it is scarcely able to be contemplated - when our socialist opponents form a government, for the Commonwealth to interfere unduly in State affairs and take away from the States their undoubted and unbounded duty to the universities. But the most important point of caution is that the university system of education in Australia must not get out of balance. There are always pressures in any field in Australia, or for that matter anywhere in the world. At the present time in Australia, and indeed throughout the entire world, all the pressure is in the scientific direction. That is one of the phenomenas of post-war development.
– What do you suggest it ought to be?
– Phenomenons or phenomena.
– Thank you very much. It is obvious that the honorable member for Werriwa spent most of his years at the university studying English and not law, which he professes. It is a peculiarity - I am sure that the honorable member will not disagree with this - of post-war development that all the pressures have become scientific. It is easy to sell science as a proposition to public opinion and to governments. It is not so easy, and for some centuries now it has become less easy, to sell the humanities to governments or to public opinion. What I fear is that we are threatened with a regime of technocrats. This, of course, would be a very bad thing for Australia or for any other country which had it, because the scientist or technologist is an incredibly naive man in his judgments. That is, unless he has been humanized in some way. To have a regime of technocrats would be a very great disaster for this country.
– They could fill the House with lawyers!
– Yes, we could have a houseful of lawyers. I feel that the function of a law school - there are some remarkable exceptions - is to teach its graduates to think logically and sensibly and to reach proper conclusions from a set of facts. If we were to have this regime of technocrats a sad situation would develop. In the United States of America, after the first satellite was launched there was a tremendous wave of enthusiasm for increasing the development of scientific education. That was the first wave. It was followed by a second and more conservative wave, one of sound commonsense. People said, “ Don’t let us overbalance with this scientific education.” There were outstanding exponents of this view, one in particular being Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University, an outstanding scientist. He said, “ Don’t let us get education out of balance. There must not be too much emphasis on scientific teaching.”
Men in the top ranks of business management in the United States made pronouncements and speeches showing clearly that they agreed with the view of Robert Oppenheimer - “ Don’t overbalance.” An example much closer to home and more . recent in time was the opinion expressed by Dr. Powell, the Nobel Prize winner in 1950 and a brilliant physicist at the Bristol University. Recently he visited Australia and the theme which he reiterated was that we must not overbalance in the way of scientific education. There is a most necessary need to retain the humanities. A very eminent man who has agreed to serve as the initial chairman of this commission is Professor Sir Leslie Martin, an outstanding scientist. I hope that the other members of the commission will provide a balance of thought and not concentrate overmuch on the scientific aspect of university education.
Within the outskirts of Melbourne the earth has already been turned for the foundations of a great new university to be called the Monash University. It is well named after an outstanding Australian and j consider that the authorities have made a fine selection of a name. But a most necessary matter to be considered at this stage while negotiations are proceeding between the Commonwealth and the State in relation to finance for this university is to ensure that it will not tend to become a technical university as distinct from the Melbourne University which may be left to concentrate on the humanities. The Murray committee pointed out very forcibly in its report that a university must have all-round faculties to function properly so that all aspects of teaching are available to all students. I hope that this will be the case with the Monash University - that it will provide a full array of faculties and departments to the students of Melbourne as an alternative to the Melbourne University.
In the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Bulletin for the month of April, 1957 a number of articles appeared written by people closely connected with university education. These articles were sponsored at a time when an announcement had been made that the Murray committee would investigate the universities of Australia. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) contributed an article to this bulletin. Another contributor was the Honorable J. F. Bloomfield, Minister of Education in Victoria. He commenced his article by saying - f assume the following propositions to be basic: -
In a country such as this, university education should be available to all who desire it and are capable of taking advantage of it.
Not only should we provide university education for those who, having the capacity for it, desire it. but for social, economic, and political reasons we should promote a national seeking after the highest culture and technical standards.
Finances for universities are principally and increasingly the responsibility of governments.
The States, though charged with the responsibility of educating their citizens, are short of money for education and for their many other obligations.
The establishment of universities and their maintenance and development can conveniently, and should, in the present and foreseeable state of this country, be co-ordinated on a national basis.
That is what this bill sets out to do. The article continues -
There are fundamental differences between the problems of tertiary education which relate to comparatively few institutions for adults, and the complex multifarious and highly localized problems of primary and secondary schools.
Universities should be autonomous and free from political influence and control.
Universities like other institutions supported by Governments, should be able to do their planning on a long-term basis, independent as far as possible of changes of Governments and fluctuations in the economy.
National university needs constantly change and develop, and should be under constant and competent survey.
I wholeheartedly support the bill.
.- I am sure that all honorable members regret the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) from this debate on account of illness, because the matter under discussion is one which has been peculiarly his sphere of interest. A second reason for regretting his absence is that at the present time we are not able to find out the processes by which the Government proposes to establish the new university in Canberra - the University of Canberra - an undergraduate university distinct from the Australian National University.
During the week, I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his capacity as representative of the Prime Minister, what were the steps the Government proposed to take and when it intended to take them to establish the University of Canberra. Although the Treasurer could indicate that Cabinet intended shortly to consider the matter, he was not able to give the details which the Prime Minister could have given us. I think it is a very significant development that this university is being established, firstly, because it confirms the character of the Australian National University as a research institution and, secondly, because it will add to the Australian group of universities another university which will serve the important population of the Australian Capital Territory, will be an educational centre for northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, and will relieve a great deal of the overcrowding that is common in Australian universities.
I regret that the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) got into the field of the difference between technical faculties and the humanities, because the truth is that every faculty of the university rests upon some values. No matter where a deterioration of fibre takes place in them, there is deterioration which is felt throughout the community, whether it is in the department of philosophy or in the department of medicine. Basically, the purpose of any faculty in a university is good life. There is value in the mere having of a faculty of medicine, although it might be regarded as a scientific and technical faculty. The value that lies behind it is that pain is worth relieving, health is worth restoring and life is worth having. When the medical faculties, for instance, of Germany, under nazism, betrayed a poor ethical code implied in their studies by the kind of experiments they performed, two consequences immediately ensued. There was a moral deterioration in the community as marked as if a false philosophy had been deliberately taught - in fact, a false philosophy was being lived - and secondly, there was a marked scientific deterioration. So every faculty of a university is equally important, whether it is one of the technical faculties or one of the humanities. If the honorable member for Bruce considers that the technical faculties may be peculiarly arid, let me direct his attention to the fact that philosophic chairs of universities can also put out a philosophy that is more arid than anything professed by any technical faculty.
I do not want to get on to this theme, but lest it be said that the scientific studies lead to aridity, I want to quote this empirical philosophy of Professor John Anderson, who said -
I have thus, without going into detail, indicated the place in the empiricist scheme of the other anti-rationalist theories I mentioned. The general conclusion is that all the objects of science, including minds and goods, are things occurring in space and time (the only reason for regarding minds as not in space being the rationalistic contention that they are indivisible), and that we car* study them by virtue of the fact that we come intospatial and temporal relations with them. And therefore, all ideals, ultimates, symbols, agencies and the like are to be rejected, and no such distinction as that of facts and principles, or facts and values, can be maintained. There are only facts, i.e., occurrences in space and time.
So, if Professor Anderson had been deprived of his salary, he would have said that it was unjust, and to answer him with his own philosophy you could say that justice and injustice were values and that values did not exist - there had merely been an occurrence in space and time - the disappearance of his salary. Of course, our law faculties, which deal ultimately with justice, and all other faculties in the university are ultimately dealing with values.
I think that the vital clauses of the first bill are clauses 4 and 13. Clause 13 states - (l.> Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, th* functions of the Commission are to furnish information and advice to the Minister on matters in connexion with the grant by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities established by the Commonwealth and of financial assistance to the States in relation to universities, including information and advice relevant to -
Clause 4 states -
The Minister may, by instrument under his hand, direct that this Act shall apply in relation to an institution or proposed institution in Australia specified in the instrument, being an institution or proposed institution for the provision of higher education (including a residential college connected with a university).
So the measure may relate to other fields of higher education than universities.
The definition of university under the bill is something that the Minister declares to be a university. That definition would hardly satisfy anybody with a passion for exact definition. So I thought that in the face of that definition I would have a look at the “ Oxford English Dictionary “, and I was pleased to note that the “ Oxford English Dictionary “ defines a university not in terms of buildings, which it includes as an after-thought, but in terms of people. The definition reads -
The whole body of teachers and scholars engaged at a particular place in giving and receiving instruction in the higher branches of Teaming; such persons associated together as a society or corporate body with a definite organization and acknowledged powers and privileges (especially that of conferring degrees) and forming an institution for the promotion of education in the higher or more important branches of teaming; also the colleges, buildings, &c, belonging to such a body.
The “ Encyclopaedia Britannica “ calls a university -
A lawfully recognized community of teachers and scholars.
It defines a faculty as -
A body of persons pursuing a branch of knowledge.
I think that the function of this commission will be constantly to give the Government ideas about universities, but the universities, as a society of people, seem to me to have two central problems. One is to eliminate over-crowding of people, and the other is to get rid of second-rate staff. I am not accusing the Australian universities of having a large number of second-rate personnel on their staffs, but, after all. the central problem in universities is to recruit personnel, and if you have a staff that is capable of inspiring and that has high personal qualifications, you may have some deficiencies in equipment but you need not have any fear about the future of your university or its place in the community. I rather regret - and this is purely a subjective impression: I do not give it any greater validity than that - that there seems to have been a decline in the prestige of universities in Australia over the last 20 or 30 years.
– In social prestige.
– I do not think that it is only social prestige. I think that the men who spoke from Australian universities 20 or 30 years ago - and some of them still speak, such as Professors of English like Professor Murdoch - were highly respected, but very often the utterances that seem to be reported to-day - this may be due to a deterioration in the press rather than in the universities - are either the bizarre or the eccentric.
Over-crowding in Australian universities is very serious. When I last had the priviledge of being taken over the faculty of medicine in the University of Sydney, one of the professors, speaking of his first-year lectures, mentioned the necessity of lecturing over a microphone to 400 students at a time. He spoke of the congestion in the research work that was necessary at the under-graduate level, and he felt that there was an accumulating evil in it in that under those circumstances, while a man may be an able and brilliant research man - every man contributing new ideas to universities expects to do some teaching and in fact his research is furthered if he does some teaching - he is not attracted to a position where he realizes that he will be so overloaded with teaching that he will not be able to get on with basic research, which adds to his own knowledge in his particular field.
But if we leave the question of the sciences alone and come to one part of a university that concerns every faculty - the libraries - we find a rather unsatisfactory position obtaining in Australian universities. The position in all Australian libraries is highly unsatisfactory, but we do not often realize how heavily this inadequacy is penalizing the work of universities and is wasting scientific research, a subject that may seem to be rather remote from libraries. On Sunday, 21st December, 1958, Dr. Keyes Metcalf, an American librarian from Harvard University Library, spoke on the radio session entitled “ Guest of Honour “. He had one or two comments to make about Australian libraries and the libraries of Australian universities which reinforce the points made in the Murray report on libraries. He spoke about the growth of libraries in the United States of America and went on -
I believe the growth is based to a large extent on the fact that those who control the library purse-strings are convinced that libraries arc of great importance; that a library is “ the Cultural Centre of a City “, “ The Heart of a University “, and an indispensable adjunct to a government; and so they appropriate the funds required to purchase the great collections and to pay the staff required to make the collections available. These funds are a first mortgage on the resources and are not those which governments and institutions have left over after other essential things are paid for. They are appropriated year after year for library purposes and are not turned on and off like a water tap, as economic conditions go up and down. Libraries appear to be regarded as more important in American cities and universities than you regard them here.
Later in his broadcast he said this -
There is a world-wide need for greater library resources. Without them, research work in all fields, in the humanities, the social sciences and in this day particularly, the sciences, is seriously handicapped. A considerable percentage of the scientific research carried on throughout the world repeats research already completed and recorded in printed form. This duplication results from the failure of the researcher, through carelessness or through the lack of available library resources, to learn about what has already been done. The cost of this failure exceeds the total budgets of all our research libraries.
I think it is a tragedy, if that is correct, that so much wasteful duplication takes place. It would not take place if there were a library which could mobilize its resources and make them available to the community.
I do not know whether libraries independent of universities could be regarded as an institution “ for the provision of higher education” under clause 4 of the bill. Probably not. But at least in this Australian Capital Territory we should be able to protect ourselves from the consequences of having inadequate university libraries. We know that there are mines of information which the Government needs, which scientific research needs and which students and visitors to Canberra need, but which cannot be mobilized because we have not an Australian National Library which can make the resources available.
What is true of the libraries is equally true of universities. The libraries should be much more generously thought of and provided for than they are to-day. The Murray report in dealing with that subject says this -
It should be unnecessary to stress the importance of the library to the whole framework of university education. In arts, law and social sciences, the library fills the place of the laboratory, with its technical equipment and practic.il exercises, in the sciences and technologies. The library must be found by the student to be a place where he is welcomed and encouraged to pursue a personal and independent search for knowledge and understanding, where his capacities for independence of thought and judgment are enlarged, and where, above all, he is treated as a scholar, to be provided with the peaceful and uncrowded conditions conducive to scholarly work.
I think it is rather a tragedy, if it be true, that so many of our universities have not the number of books or the library facilities they need to enable them to carry out the library part of their work adequately or for the libraries to service all the faculties. I believe that many of the material problems of the universities are beginning to disappear under the impact of the kind of legislation that is being brought into this Parliament repeatedly. I should be very sorry to think, as the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) appears to think, that the universities are a field for State action. I should be very sorry to think that they are a field for State and Commonwealth action.
It is not true to say, as the honorable member for Bruce has said, that they came into existence primarily because of State action.
The university which the honorable member for Bruce had the privilege of attending - the same one as I attended, the university of Western Australia - really owes its existence to Sir John Winthrop Hackett. It is very doubtful whether any State government of that era, in the small community that Western Australia was then, would have been sufficiently enlightened to have diverted money from the urgent work of development to establish a State university. The real reason why the States and the Commonwealth have become the overwhelming financiers of universities is that modern taxation has destroyed the kind of incomes that used to endow universities. If we look at the universities right around the Commonwealth and see a Winthrop Hall named after a benefactor, and a Barr Smith library named after a benefactor, and a Wilson Hall named after a benefactor, we ought at least to recognize that private fortunes were invested in Australian universities
It would be a very good thing, since the personal fortune seems almost to have ceased to exist, if the fortunes of corporations were invested in universities to give them a flexibility and freedom to conduct their affairs privately or so that the faculties of universities could be conducted privately. I feel that as many sets of ideas as possible should go into the financing of a university. A businessman’s approach may be quite different from the approach of the Government. The more approaches that are made and the more ideas that are incorporated the better it will be for our universities.
I congratulate the Government on this legislation. I hope that the Australian Universities Commission will be a source of fruitful ideas for the Australian community through the universities and that it will liberate, by its decisions, the skill and ability of the people of this country. The universities have an immense part to play in the transmission of sound values in the Australian community. That is their basic job and when the work is done faithfully it does not matter whether it is done by a scientific faculty or one of the humanities. I think that the Government had that in mind in setting up this flexible body to advise it on the whole problem of higher education.
.- I listened with great interest to the very thoughtful speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and also to my colleague the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) who preceded him. They took the trouble to deal with the fundamentals that are involved in the future of the Australian universities. The House should thank them for the contributions that they made.
To-night, I am going to be very brief. I certainly do not intend to cover the ground that has been covered by those two gentleman because I dealt with that type of question when T spoke in the House when the Murray committee’s report was first introduced. Nothing has happened since then to change my view of the importance of the committee’s work in the life of the Australian universities. The appointment of the committee was a great and imaginative act. I believe, on the part of this Government. It was the sort of step which, as I have said before, should have been taken Iona ago. I hear Opposition members interjecting, but the step was not taken during the period of government of honorable gentlemen opposite. It was an imaginative step and the important thing is that it was taken.
I remind honorable members of a point which is clearly contained in the Murray committee’s report. T think we need reminding of this, particularly if we listened to some of the speeches that have been made in this debate by honorable members who have tended to assume that all the financial problems of Australian universities were taken care of when the Government decided to make this sum of money available for the extra three years and to set up the Universities Commission. I remind the House. Sir. of that section of the Murray committee’s report which stresses that the money to be made available by this Government will do nothing more than take care of the present needs of the universities in the light of the growth which is likely to take place in the next three years. As I understand it, that sum will not provide for one additional advance. Tt will do no more than keep the existing facilities abreast of the development in the student population and will not provide for the increasing variety of things with which the universities have to deal. It is that, Sir, which makes the establishment of this- Australian Universities Commission absolutely essential. It will be the job of the commission to investigate thoroughly the situation in the universities and to submit to the Government proposals covering, not, as I understand it, the expenditure of the £20,000,000 which has already been set aside for the next three years, but improvements in the universities which are not covered by that provision.
The magnitude of the problems which the universities have to face is well illustrated, I think, by a report that I saw in the South Australian press this morning, in which it was stated that the University of Adelaide, which, after all, is by no means the biggest university in this country, had advertised last week for no fewer than 30 lecturers and senior lecturers - all at once - to provide for the increase in staff which was required to enable the university to maintain its existing standards in the light of the increase in the student population.
I have one criticism to make of this bill, concerning the number of members proposed to be appointed to the Universities Commission. In laying down that the commission shall be composed of a permanent chairman and from two to four part-time members, this measure departs from the recommendations made by the Murray committee, which recommended, as stated at paragraph 381 of its report, that the commission - it used the term “ committee “ - should consist of a full-time chairman and seven part-time members. The Murray committer .cave three reasons for arriving at that conclusion. First, it recognized - I think very wisely - that in Australia, anyway, in order to gain the confidence of the general public in the universities, and support for the expenditure of government money on them, it was necessary to have on a body such as this people who were not directly associated with the academic profession. It is for that reason that in Australia most university councils or senates - the governing bodies of the universities - have as members representatives of business or the professions. So the Murray committee recommended that at least two of the commission of seven which it proposed should be persons drawn from outside the universities - not necessarily people who had never been to a university, but people not directly academically associated at the time with a university.
The committee suggested that the other five members should be representatives of the academic groups in the universities, because it felt - and I think it was right - that wide academic representation was needed; not this time in order to get the confidence of the public, but in order to gain the confidence of the universities themselves. The committee stated - and I agree with it - that the university academic groups represented could not be reduced to fewer than five - the arts, the social sciences, the pure sciences, the applied sciences, including engineering, and medicine and dentistry. The committee’s idea was that there should be on the commission among the academic members one representative of each of those faculties or broad groups of faculties, and I repeat that the committee considered that this was necessary in order to gain the confidence of the universities themselves.
The dilemma into which I think we have got ourselves by proposing to establish a smaller body of from two to four members other than the chairman is that, in the end, whatever is the composition of the commission, it will not have the confidence of all the important sections whose confidence is needed if the commission is to function as it should. If, for example, the members other than the chairman number four and the confidence of the public is ensured by the appointment of two of them from outside the universities, there is room for only two representatives of the various faculty groups which I have mentioned. The Government has given no reason for its departure from the recommendation of the Murray committee in this respect, Sir, and I urge it to have another look at the matter - if not now, then later, in the light of experience of the way in which the commission works - in order to see whether it is not desirable to enlarge the commission to make it accord with the committee’s recommendation.
The Murray committee expressed its idea of the way in which the proposed commission will operate. It will keep in constant touch with all institutions, bodies and people who are interested in the future of the universities. Every three years, the members of the commission wi!’ spend perhaps six weeks travelling round all the universities, interviewing representatives of
State governments, and so on, before arriving at their conclusions. In this connexion, I want to emphasize something which seems to have been forgotten to some extent in this debate - that a vital part of that process will be the contact which the commission establishes with the State governments, which, after all, despite the Commonwealth’s use of its powers under section 96 of the Austraiian Constitution, are still constitutionally responsible for education in this country, whether it be primary, secondary or tertiary. I believe that, provided the commission goes about its task in the right way, it will be a very useful adjunct to the State governments, not only because it will advise the Commonwealth Government, which will then make grants to State universities, but because it can become the body on which the State governments themselves can lean for advice.
State governments in the past - I should think on many occasions - have found themselves in a dilemma because they have had nobody from whom to seek advice about proposals put to them by universities each year for consideration. Most State governments have been very careful to ensure that they did not in any way interfere in the internal workings of the universities; yet on quite a number of occasions they must have felt that the proposals put to them went too far. Thus far they have had nobody to whom to turn for advice about problems of that type. Provided the commission can establish the atmosphere of confidence which I hope it will establish, it will, I believe, perform a most useful function in that respect.
Several speakers in the debate have mentioned the very important task that the commission has in ensuring balanced development in the universities. It should be its function to ensure that we will look at the universities problem from the Australian point of view, not from a State point of view. A specific example was given by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his secondreading speech, when he referred to the problem of veterinary schools in universities. It will be the job of the commission to decide whether the next step is to extend veterinary schools to other States - at present I believe they exist only in Sydney and Brisbane - or whether to put the available resources for veterinary science teaching into improving the veterinary schools that already exist. I hope that the latter course will b3 adopted.
That is an example of the valuable work which the commission will do in its consideration of the problem of universities. In that respect I would say that if the commission is going to give advice on matters of this sort, and if that advice is going to be taken so that we shall not spread our university resources too thinly over the whole of Australia, then it is the responsibility of the commission to go on and consider the problems which flow from recommendations of that type. By that I mean that you will have students - research workers - who will not be able to study in their own State university and their own home town the subject in which they are interested because, on the advice of the commission, it is felt that that subject can be better taught elsewhere. That would apply to students at the University of Adelaide in relation, say, to veterinary science. If this sort of situation is multiplied considerably you will have a very wide movement of student population from one side of Australia to the other. I think that that is highly desirable. Indeed, it should be encouraged; but, once it starts, it brings a problem in its wake - the problem of accommodating and looking after the students. If the committee has the responsibility to make recommendations of this type, then it has also a responsibility to go on and apply itself to recommendations in respect of university colleges, university hostels, and the whole question of student facilities, student unions and so on.
Another problem with which the commission will have to deal, which flows from the same thing and applies also in other respects, is the problem of common standards at Australian universities, particularly on the matriculation level. Tt should be possible for the universities to agree on a common matriculation level, but they have not been able to do so up to date. If they can so agree, that will greatly assist this flow of students, that I have mentioned, from one part of Australia to another. Unless they can agree on a common matriculation level, and on common standards for subjects at university level, great hardships will be imposed on students if recommendations for concentrating particular faculties and types of university work in different pans of Australia are followed.
Sir, 1 have no more to say on this measure except to compliment the Government, first, on the speed with which it acted on the recommendations contained in the Murray committee’s report - which were revolutionary in their own way - and, secondly, for following up fairly rapidly with the appointment of this commission, which is the linchpin which is going to make all the rest of the scheme work. I support the legislation.
– I am going to be very brief.
– That is good.
– I know it is good. Before dealing with the points with which I wish to deal, there are several matters arising out of the debate this afternoon and this evening to which I wish to refer. The first is, how slowly conservatism dies, and how conservatives hate to die and, when they are dead, how they hate to admit it.
Several statements were made by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), and later by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden; and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) to the effect that this measure will not interfere in any way with State rights. They said that the States were not to be forced to do anything. But one of the major points in the legislation, which was referred to by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), is contained in clause 14 (1), which reads -
The Commission shall perform its functions with a view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage of Australia.
The honorable member for Bruce, in his contribution to the debate, referred to paragraph 306 of the Murray report, and there, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we see once again a reference to what is the objective of this legislation. I agree with the honorable member that the legislation is a followup of the Murray report, which suggests that one of the things that must be done in Australia is to co-ordinate education. I agree that this will be produced as a result of the appointment of the commission. The Murray report referred to duplication of certain courses by certain universities and said that the introduction of new courses, particularly in the field of physics, would involve universities in the purchase and installation of costly machinery and equipment, which state of affairs made necessary the appointment of some authority to co-ordinate activities in universities and prevent duplication. 1 fail to see how all this can be taken to mean that the legislation will not lead to interference with State rights or with the internal workings of universities. Honorable members are really having themselves on if they believe that that will not happen. I feel that this interference in the local autonomy of universities will be for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole. Honorable members have continually referred to instances in which some co-ordination would be an advantage. The Government has taken the correct step in setting up a commission which may result in some coordination and some progress in the field of university education. From this must flow further investigations, assistance and development of the lower fields of education - that is, primary, secondary and technical education. Yesterday, I asked a question regarding Government policy on this matter, but have not as yet received a reply. However, judging from the remarks made by the Prime Minister at the Premiers’ Conference, it would appear that at this stage the Government is opposed to any intervention in these fields of education. However, I feel that the Government must interest itself in primary, secondary and technical education.
– For the obvious reason that an examination of the position will show that additional assistance should be given by the Commonwealth Government to meet the needs of our expanding population. The Government boasts that the population is now in excess of 10,000,000. That has been brought about by the immigration programme first developed by the Australian Labour Party, when it was in office, and followed by this Government. The Government must interest itself in these fields of education if we are to keep pace with other countries, but it will not try to do anything about it. Some years ago, Sir Winston Churchill said that the Western powers should assist education on all levels or they would fall behind the Soviet Union, which was giving full assistance to its people in all fields of education.
I believe that the education of the individual is his right and not something that he should receive because he is born into the right family. If he has the ability, he should be given every assistance by governments through the provision of scholarships and the like so that he can advance to the highest level possible within his intellectual ability. I am pleased to see that the Commonwealth Government has awakened to its responsibilities in the field of university education. Commonwealth grants have increased from £800,000 in 1950 to £2,300,000 in 1957, and an additional £20,000,000 will be given between 1958 and 1960.
– Why was not Newcastle chosen as the site for the new university in New South Wales?
– I will deal with that in a moment.
– Order! The honorable gentleman wil! address the Chair. We will get on much better, if he does.
– I propose to deal with university colleges, and will have a little to say about the Newcastle University College. That is why I said earlier in my remarks that I intended1 to be parochial in some of my comments. Most honorable members have been very pleased with the recommendations contained in the Murray report. We in the Newcastle city area were not so happy with them because no recommendation which would improve the status of the Newcastle University College was made. The committee, referring to Newcastle University College, said -
The Committee also considered the needs and status of the Newcastle University College of the N.S.W. University of Technology. Submissions were received from local bodies and from staff and students, all of which urged that there should be an autonomous university in Newcastle. In particular, those concerned with the future of the humanities in the College emphasized the anomalous nature of the present arrangement whereby students in the Faculty of Arts are granted the degree of the University of New England.
We do not feel it possible at this juncture to recommend any alteration in the present status of the College. If, in the near future, the N.S.W.
University of Technology becomes a university of the traditional type, there would seem to us little objection to the Newcastle College continuing to be associated with it, at least for some years to come. We are satisfied that the University would be happy to have in mind the need to develop the College to the stage at which it should eventually become autonomous. If, on the other hand, there appears no likelihood of any substantia] alteration in the coverage of the N.S.W. University of Technology, particularly by the establishment of a Faculty of Arts, we would think it best that the College be divorced from it at an early stage. It should become an autonomous institution but we suggest that during its early years it should receive guidance for the safeguarding of its academic courses and degrees requirements from an advisory committee representing the three existing universities in New South Wales.
We were not altogether happy with the report or with the recommendations concerning finance. At present, the Newcastle University College has an enrolment of over 900 students and the teachers’ college in the city this year has 617 students. The population from which the Newcastle University College can draw exceeds the population of Tasmania; but what do we find ;n Tasmania? At present, the University of Tasmania has an enrolment of a little more than 1,000, but its financial allocation far exceeds that of the Newcastle University College. The Newcastle University College allocation was some £400,000, but the allocation for the University of Tasmania was £1,510,000. We hope that the commission envisaged in this legislation will give considerable support to the Newcastle University College so that a fully autonomous university may be established in the district. For that reason, I personally support the legislation.
I wish to deal with several other points relating to university colleges. I note that the personnel of the commission established by this legislation is to be a chairman and not less than two and not more than four members. I ask the Government, when selecting the members, to consider appointin? a person who is representative of or has some knowledge of university colleges. At present, we have the Newcastle University College and the Canberra University College, and the Wollongong University College is in course of formation. Therefore, I suggest that the Australian Universities Commission should have in its membership a person who is interested in the welfare of university colleges. It is obvious from the recommendations regarding finance contained in the Murray report that the Newcastle University College has been pushed to one side so that the larger universities may receive preferential treatment. After all, the amount of money the governments are prepared to allocate will determine, in the final analysis, the growth of the university itself.
Therefore, we believe it is essential that the university colleges should have some representation on the commission so that they might press the case, not only for the university colleges at Newcastle, Canberra and Wollongong, but also any other university colleges that might be established from time to time. Only a few years ago there was a New England University College. In 1954 it became a fully autonomous university. This matter of university colleges is not new. In many cases, they last for a lengthy period.
I suggest also that the university college councils should have a financial allocation. They should determine what development has to take place and what development they can genuinely support. Therefore, I believe that applications for funds from the university college councils should be considered by the Australian Universities Commission when it is considering the allocation of finance. I suggest also that they should be permitted to determine the manner in which any money allocated to them should be spent.
Another matter that should be taken into consideration is this: Far too often the establishment of university colleges is carried out in conjunction with a technical college. That is the situation in both Newcastle and Wollongong. An attempt is being made to develop technical and university education at the same time, and the continual bickering is not in the interests of either. Possibly, the new commission could insist that if a university college has been established for say eight or ten years, unless it separates from the technical college and each goes its own way, no further assistance should be received from the Commonwealth or from the Australian Universities’ Commission. That is one way in which the Government could direct the States to get on with the job of creating fully autonomous universities away from technical education.
At present, no assistance is given for the establishment of hostels. I believe that a university college is as much entitled to a hostel as part of its appointments as is any full university. I ask that when financial assistance is being granted, some of it should be allocated specifically for the establishment of hostels and to provide housing for university college staffs. Homes are short throughout Australia. Unless accommodation can be made available for staff, it is often impossible to obtain the staff required for university colleges. Therefore, I ask that financial provision should be made for hostels and housing for university staffs.
Industries generally realize to-day that they must provide accommodation to attract workers, and many industries have set up their own housing establishments so that they can get the best labour available. University colleges should be given funds for housing their staffs because ultimately they will become full universities.
Finance should also be provided for the establishment of library facilities, particularly in country districts, and also for scholarships for adults. At present there are many scholarships for juveniles but I suggest that adults should have the opportunity to take up scholarships at any time that is convenient to them. Possibly the number of scholarships for adults could be determined by the number of students who attended a university college in the previous twelve months. Such scholarships would be particularly welcome in industrial areas so that men of ambition could have an opportunity to improve themselves and raise their educational standards. I hope that the Australian Universities Commission will consider that suggestion.
The bill represents a step in the right direction, lt is a progressive move which shows that the Commonwealth Government has a better realization of its responsibilities in the field of education. I hope that this action will be maintained and developed into the lower level of secondary, primary and technical education and other fields of activities where the States require more assistance from the Commonwealth Government which controls the national purse string. I have pleasure in supporting the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hasluck) adjourned.
New Melbourne Airport - International Jet Aircraft - Gold-mining - Parliamentary Salaries - Allegations against Member of Parliament.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On 20th August last year, I directed the attention of the House to the recommendation of an expert committee for the establishment of a jet aircraft landing area in the vicinity of Melbourne. The committee which made this recommendation to the Minister for Civil Aviation at that time suggested that the airport should be established at Tullamarine within 10 or 11 miles of Melbourne. The committee consisted of sixteen to twenty members and was heavily loaded with experts from the Department of Civil Aviation and private airline companies and with other persons who had a very direct interest in aviation generally. The proposal involves probably the resumption of anything from 5,000 to 10,000 acres of firstclass land suitable for home building in a most attractive area.
– The honorable member is not forgetting the town planning authorities, is he?
– No, that is a pertinent remark. This expert committee included members of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, the Premier’s Department, town planning authorities and one other; that is, four representing various interests to about sixteen who represented aviation interests. Therefore, the committee was heavily loaded on the aviation side. The recommendation to the Minister in favour cf Tullamarine was, I think, unanimous but I believe the town planning authorities represented on the committee did not have any real interest in the area as a residential district. They must have been influenced materially by the experts surrounding the Minister for Civil Aviation and associated with civil aviation. I think the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is a man who will at least endeavour to form his own judgment with regard to this problem. There is, perhaps, a tendency on the part of Ministers to become almost unconsciously biased or swayed towards the advice tendered by their experts, but I sug gest that that tendency should be resisted. I have a very great respect for expert advice, but experts have not always been correct. They have their prejudices, and one must always exercise a very careful judgment in the final analysis.
The civic authorities concerned with this area are the Keilor Shire Council and the Broadmeadows Shire Council. The civilian committee consisted of Tullamarine residents, landholders and representatives of other interests. When this problem first arose, and subsequently as the conflict developed between the Minister’s advisers and the civic authorities in the immediate, vicinity, the civic authorities and the residents’ committee did not have the advantage of expert advice. Nor did they have adequate facilities for the preparation of their case in opposition to the proposed site. Since then they have gathered into their fold very competent assistants, not expert in the technical sense, but expert in preparing propaganda to counter the recommendations of the experts advising the Minister. Unfortunately, there is a tendency apparent among the Minister’s expert advisers to resent the advice, the publicity and the propaganda emanating from those who represent the immediate local influences. This is regrettable, but I think the Minister may still have an open mind.
From the point of view of the immediate economics of the situation, the Minister’s advisers may be correct. For the economic working of aircraft, this site, by virtue of its being within a mile of the existing Essendon airport, may be a very suitable one. Administration will be facilitated because of its proximity to the existing interstate and intra-state airport. The transport of goods and international passengers will be facilitated, and it will be more convenient from the point of view of the local staffs than if the international airport was situated at some place more remote from the existing airport. But what the Minister and the Government must consider is the fact that because of the spread of the population of Melbourne, the time is fast approaching when the Essendon airport will be considered too close to large centres of population. I am inclined to think that this position will be accentuated as time goes on, if Tullamarine is ultimately developed as an international airport. Tullamarine is within a mile or so of a very densely packed residential area. Honorable members obviously cannot read the details on the map that 1 have in my hand, but they can see the colours and may be able to follow my description.
The Melbourne airport is represented in the position 1 indicate on the map. In the red area almost completely surrounding the airport are 6,000 Housing Commission homes. In the adjacent area shown on the map in blue, and about a mile or a mile and a half to the east of the proposed airport, it is proposed to build 6,000 more Housing Commission homes. The area to the south of the projected airport is already very densely settled indeed. The smaller separate areas shown in blue, to the east and south-east of the proposed airport, are in the possession of private companies interested in subdivision, and plans have already been made for the development of residential areas in which private homes will be built. The projected site is jammed up closely against these thickly populated areas. It is true that to the north of the proposed landing field there is some rising ground at present covered with very attractive timber.
But I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that even if these projected housing developments do not take place in the immediate vicinity of the proposed airport, the site, because of the noise and the dangers that would follow the provision of an international airport, would be rendered uneconomic, a menace to the civil community and utterly unsuitable for the purpose now envisaged. In to-day’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the following report appeared under the heading, “ Londoners Win Airport Battle”: -
Pan American World Airways has had to abandon its proposed jet service leaving London at 1 .30 a.m. for New York, says the “ Daily Telegraph “.
The newspaper says the Ministry of Transport banned the proposed flights after people living near the airport had protested against the noise the Boeing 707 jets would make.
This is the type of aircraft that it is proposed will use Tullamarine -
Pan American has re-arranged its schedule so that its jets will land and take off in both London and New York in daylight.
That compromise by Pan American may be all right for the time being, but I suggest that if the Boeing 707 aircraft is so rowdy as to create a disturbance at a particular time of the day, it will be just as noisy at any other time during the 24 hours.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I support most of the arguments of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) with regard to the proposed operation of international jet aircraft. I am concerned with this matter in connexion with the KingsfordSmith aerodrome. Recently I was honoured to meet in conference aldermanic representatives of the Botany, Marrickville and Randwick councils. This conference was called to discuss the proposed use of these aircraft, which, I believe, are scheduled to commence operations in about June or July of this year. Although I am not at liberty to divulge the actual decision reached at the meeting, I can tell the House of some of the opinions expressed. Thanks to the Tullamarine committee, we were able to discuss many problems that will arise when these aircraft eventually start using the Kingsford-Smith airport. Probably all honorable members received information from the Tullamarine committee similar to that which T received, and also a copy of the reply given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to the committee. The Minister admits that the Boeing 707 is a very noisy vehicle of transportation. In my electorate of Watson, approximately 20,000 people will be affected, and in all probability there will be many others affected in the electorates of Kingsford-Smith. East Sydney, Grayndler, St. George and Barton.
I think it would be pertinent at this stage to give some of the findings of the Tullamarine committee, which have not been denied by the Minister. In relation to the noise nuisance and vapour trails of the Boeing 707, the committee reported -
Members have protested in the House of Commons that when the Boeing takes off at London airport children are so terrified that they run sobbing to their mothers, old people tremble for minutes after the aircraft have passed and houses shake and old properties are in danger of tumbling. The present Boeing 707 is only a domestic version. What will happen, they ask, when the intercontinental type with its noisier engines comes along next year.
This is an extract from an editorial in an American newspaper -
Unless you have heard the piercing thunder of a multi-engine jet plane, you cannot fully comprehend just how noisy one of these high-powered planes really can be. Planes with conventional piston-driven engines will seem like the sweet sounds of a string quartet when compared to the roar of those gigantic jets.
The trailing exhaust clouds are referred to in these terms -
The smoke that comes from the Boeing 707 with each take-off has raised an additional problem. . . . Overseas correspondents declare that these clouds are such that clothing cannot be left hanging on the lines of nearby residences.
The committee proceeded to give some more graphic illustrations of the nuisance resulting from the introduction of these aircraft. In my opinion, this is one of the most important - the Federal Housing Administration of the United Slates and the Veterans Administration . . . will no longer approve home construction within a 20,000 feet (or 3.7 miles) radius of the Navy Jet Base near San Diego, California. This takes in a total area of 43 square miles or 27,520 acres! It was considered that the noise and potential danger of jet aircraft would be so detrimental to property values as to make a poor mortgage risk.
The United Kingdom Government recently saw fit to subsidize the owners of property adjacent to London airport because they had been robbed of part of the value of their property. The committee stated - . . the London “Daily Telegraph” of 11th November last reports that rate cuts of between £8 and £1 had been granted by a local Valuation Board to 49 out of 50 householders who live near Southend airport and had appealed to it. The Chairman of the Pane), Mr. Herbert Hyams, in announcing its decision, said, “ It is plainly obvious that until practical science can join forces with the law to suppress this grievance, reductions in rate assessments will continue to be a mere palliative and will neither award appellant ratepayers with appreciable compensation nor restore their vanished amenities “.
Another very important aspect is the danger that would result from the crash of one of these aircraft on take-off. Fully laden, they carry 15,000 gallons of very highly inflammable fuel. One can just imagine a crash at the airport, on the Mascot side or the St. Peters-Marrickville side, and the loss of life that would result. We recall the recent crash of a Lockheed Electra aircraft into the East river at New York. While it was most unfortunate for the people who were killed in that crash, had it occurred on neighbouring land hundreds more people might have been killed. If one of these big Boeing 707 aircraft should crash on take-off from Sydney, I would say without hesitation that it would devastate acres of land in Marrickville, Randwick and St. Peters, or on the other side of the aerodrome. This is a matter which must be kept in mind.
It does not seem right to me that we should be speeding the transport of travellers to and from Australia by using jet aircraft at the expense of many hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected, not only in Sydney, but also in Melbourne and in Brisbane eventually. I believe that we must look a little more closely at the comfort of the people who live near airports, and if airline operators insist on bringing to Australia these huge pure jet aircraft, aerodromes will have to be built away from closely populated centres. We should not wait till the horse is out of the stable before locking the door. We must look at these problems before huge jet aircraft are brought to Australia. Let us hope that if they do operate here in future the Minister will take all precautions to see that noise is suppressed and that take-offs and landings occur only during the day time. There are also many other aspects of safety that must be examined. I support the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in his request that the Government look into this matter and make sure that the people living near airports are protected from the noise nuisance.
.- In direct contrast with the two previous speakers, who were so firmly against proposed locations of jet airports, curiously enough I am not offering resistance to a location; I am making a submission that the Melbourne international terminal should be in an area which is claimed - I think very logically - to be particularly suitable. I refer to Avalon, which is some 12 miles on the Melbourne side of Geelong. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) did not mention, as I hoped he would, the suitability of Avalon. I agree that progress cannot be stopped, and that we must move with the jet age. If we have enough warning and time to prepare, the preparation should be of the best runways that we can develop in the most suitable places. I think the greatest argument that can be used against the suitability of Avalon is its distance from Melbourne. But, as I said in the House recently, that consideration becomes of infinitesimal importance when the facilities available there are taken into account. Buses travelling from Tullamarine cannot make fast trips through congested suburban areas where there are traffic lights. A four-lane road is to be laid down from Melbourne to Avalon, and some of it is now being used. When the work is completed, a considerable amount of travelling time will be saved.
The railway line is adjacent to the airport, and this fact, in itself, is a strong argument in support of my submission. But, in addition, Boeing aircraft will begin to use the runways next July for crewtraining and preparation, and facilities will have to be provided for repair and maintenance work. The runways will have to be strong enough to take these aircraft, so we are half way to our objective.
It will be three or four years before Tullamarine is ready, and if Melbourne is to have an international airport it should be established long before that time so as to enable international passenger traffic to arrive in Victoria. It is only logical to assume that, for a time, the international airport will be at Avalon. I feel that the Government and the Minister should take into consideration the facilities which are available at Avalon before incurring the heavy expenditure which will be necessary at Tullamarine.
We cannot discard the safety factor, although it is an aspect that no one likes to bring into the discussion. But the fact is that accidents can happen, and they are always more likely to occur in congested areas. The approach from the sea to the runways at Avalon is over big areas of land which have not been settled to the same extent as has the Tullamarine area. This land could be acquired so that the approach to the aerodrome could be kept free from housing. The danger element would be infinitesimal, compared with that at Tullamarine.
I want to stress again that if all the factors at Avalon are taken into consideration - the fact that there are wider spaces, that it will have to be used for a considerable time and that arrangements will have to be made for the landing of big aircraft - they must offset the few extra minutes taken in transport from the aerodrome to Melbourne.
Of course, that extra time may be eliminated by a diesel-electric rail service from the airport. The duplicate MelbourneGeelong railway line has not been removed and with a straight-ahead run on the railway it would be possible to get to Melbourne as quickly from Avalon as it would be from Tullamarine. Consequently, weighing all the factors, I believe that every consideration should be given to the Avalon airport. Because of the open spaces in this vicinity, the noise from Canberra jets does not cause anything like the distraction that would be created in the more thickly populated areas around Melbourne. I strongly urge that the claims for the Avalon airport should be further considered.
.- Although the Tullamarine jet airport is in the electorate of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the Avalon site is in the electorate of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman), most of the people who will be affected in the built-up areas around Tullamarine by the noise factor are in the Maribyrnong electorate in the districts of Essendon, North Essendon and West Essendon. I shall deal, first, with the remarks of the honorable member for Corio. I have listened to his plea for an airport at Avalon and I point out that to bring overseas passengers 40 miles into Melbourne-
– Thirty-three miles.
– To bring them by bus all that distance, after the fast jet service, is a proposition which is just not on. The Tullamarine area has been provisionally selected by a panel and put to Cabinet by the Minister after due consideration of the noise rating. That is a matter about which I am particularly worried so far as my own constituents are concerned. I find that every major discussion on a jet airport has been attended by officials of the Department of Civil Aviation, high-ranking men, who have gone into this matter of noise level very carefully. Although overseas a decibel rating of 87 or 90 is allowed the authorities are aiming to have a noise rating of 60 or fewer decibels at Tullamarine. It is estimated that a tram going down Collinsstreet has an 80 decibel noise rating and on that basis a rating of 60 decibels is not so bad.
The main objections to the proposed Tullamarine jet airport came from a particular investment company which had a great deal of accommodation land for which it had sub-divisional plans approved by the local municipal council. This council invokes the by-law that any sub-divider must make streets, channels and so on and provide ready-made facilities which will give a high rating value to the council and thus enlarge its revenue. On this occasion, the council became an interested party.
In this case three councils are affected, Keilor, Broadmeadows and Bulla. The Bulla council is in favour of the jet port going to Tullamarine but Broadmeadows is definitely against it. Keilor was against and has reaffirmed its decision, but in the interim it has put an amended plan to the Minister. That happened in February of this year. The amended plan provided for the runways to be moved a little over a mile north and west of the present proposed layout.
– That council still said it did not want a bar of it.
– I have said so, but between its first and second decisions it sent a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) suggesting an amended siting for the runways about a mile or so north and west. This would have the effect that takeoff to the north would be over more or less open country. To the south it would follow the river down. To the west is open country and to the east and a mile or so further north are about 6,000 housing commission homes at Broadmeadows. The buffer areas around the proposed site have been worked out so that by clearing the buffer area an aircraft at an altitude of 1,500 feet, according to the department’s opinion, will have a decibel rating well within the 60 which the department has provided for.
A suggestion was made by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) with regard to the use of suppressors to minimize noise on take-off and landing. It is a matter of technical acceptance, apparently, that if suppressors are fitted to jet aircraft their performance is lowered. Therefore, the aircraft would be at a lower altitude as they crossed the buffer area than they would be if they were not fitted with suppressors. So if you get them up higher and if there is a sufficient buffer area around the airport, you would probably achieve the same result.
I know that the council recently - in the absence of the shire president who was an interested party, his farm being in the middle of the project - re-affirmed its decision that it was against the use of Tullamarine as an airport for jet aircraft. These aircraft must go somewhere. Avalon is certainly too far away. I should have liked to see them go to Laverton, but there will be reactions wherever they go. I want the House to believe that the department has made every investigation, and I hope-
– You cannot have Fishermen’s Bend, either.
– It was due to the insistence of the former incumbent of my electorate that Essendon airport was enlarged to its present size when it could have been cut out and a new site selected. If that extension had not been done, perhaps the fact that all the ground control approach instructions from Essendon can control the Tullamarine show would not now be the one thing that weighs heavily with the Department of Civil Aviation. There are quite a number of considerations. I would be pleased if some of these planes could be brought into some place, such as Mascot and these things tested before it is finally decided to put down the first barrow load of cement. I do not like to hear a lot of uninformed criticism as to whether these aircraft are going to do this or that. We have a department staffed with experts, and I think we should listen to what they have to say before we go off into realms of rhetoric.
.- Yesterday, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) answered a question I had asked, indicating that the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act would shortly be reviewed by the Government. The act will expire on 30th June this year, and with a view to it being renewed I and some of my Western Australian colleagues interviewed the Treasurer and discussed the various aspects in favour of the re-enactment of this legislation. Shortly after that, a deputation from the Various chambers of mines throughout Australia was introduced to the Treasurer and I believe that a strong case was submitted for the renewal of the legislation.
I should like to emphasize the importance that I, representing the electorate that produces most of the gold in this country, place on the continuance of the Government subsidy to the gold-mining industry. At present the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act provides for a maximum subsidy of £2 15s. per oz. on gold produced. That subsidy is payable on a cost basis to marginal mines. One of the submissions of the various chambers of mines is to have that maximum subsidy raised to £3 10s. The figure of £3 10s. is based on very sound actuarial experience and it follows the same pattern as the subsidy of £2 15s. per oz., which was applied three years ago and takes into account only the increased costs of production of gold since that time. The increase of the subsidy to £3 10s., together with certain other recommendations that were submitted by the various chambers, would cost the Government, according to an estimate, £100,000 per annum. I suggest that as the total gold production in Australia is now at a level of roughly 1,000,000 oz. a year, representing £15,000,000 in United States currency for the most part, that subsidy figure of £3 10s. is not high.
The industry also badly needs a development allowance. A figure has been mentioned of 4s. a ton. In an industry such as gold-mining there is always a temptation for operators to go into the richer lodes and neglect the lower grade ore bodies. This, I suggest, is fatal if we are to regard the gold-mining industry as a lasting factor in our economic set-up, because once those lower grade ore bodies have been by-passed, there is no coming back to them. In most instances when a stope is worked out of its high-grade ore, that stope is then filled in and oan never be recovered. The low grade ore bodies then can never be reached and thus a great national asset is wasted.
The Gold-mining Industry Assistance Act is, broadly speaking - very broadly speaking - divided into two sections. One section relates to marginal mines of a large character and the other section relates to small mines. The small mines are given a flat rate of £2 per oz. on all gold produced. The definition of a small producer is one that produces not more than 500 oz. a year. I suggest that the reason for that flat rate is because the operators of a small mine producing no more than 500 oz. a year cannot assess accurately the costs of production that are necessary to obtain the large producers’ subsidy, which is based on costs. But the figure of 500 oz. is a very small one when we consider that in a small mine, producing 400 oz., there may be five or six partners. It may even be a small company project. Therefore, if we say that the cost of production is in the vicinity of £10 per oz., and the mine produces 400 oz. at a profit of £5 per oz., that means that there is £2,000 to be divided between perhaps five people. That does not make mining a very lucrative practice.
Submissions have been made to the Treasurer that the figure of 500 oz. should be increased to 2,000 oz., so that there will be no temptation for a producer who is capable of producing 600 oz. to limit his production to 500 oz. and thus get £2 flat rate of subsidy for each ounce produced. That temptation is strong at present and by raising the cut-out figure from 500 to 2,000 oz. it will be removed in, I should say, almost every instance. The cost to the Government in raising that cut-out figure to 2,000 oz. would be in the vicinity of £18,000, which I suggest is not a very large amount considering the incentive that it would provide to produce a mineral of such everlasting value. We do not have to hawk our gold. It is not subject to a fluctuating market as most of our other products are. We can sell it for £15 12s. 6d. an ounce as soon as we take it out of the ground. We do not need to have an advertising campaign or promotional bureaux. We can sell it all.
– When did the price last go up?
– Thirty-three years ago.
– What use is it?
– I have some gold fillings, and I find it is admirable for the purpose. I press the Government to give every consideration to the renewal of this legislation with the amendments suggested by the people who have approached the
Treasurer in this regard. I cannot stress too much the importance of this nation developing its resources of gold. The only way in which we can develop them in the interests of coming generations is by making it possible for all our gold to be extracted, and the only way in which we can do that is by providing financial incentive for mining companies and individual miners, not only by means of the subsidies of which I am speaking, but by other Federal and State government measures.
.- First of all, I want to correct a situation which was referred to by the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) in a personal explanation yesterday. The honorable member undoubtedly wanted to create the impression that the speech which I had made in respect of parliamentary allowances was in error in certain respects. In the course of that speech I did mention a number of names of members of this chamber, who I said had voted against Mr. Lang’s amendment. I was in error in the names that I submitted to the House. The young chap who was doing this delving for me made a mistake which is very easy to understand. If honorable members who are interjecting will restrain their impatience I will refer them to page 3436 of “ Hansard “ on which it says -
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Lang’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
Anybody who did not understand parliamentary procedure could easily make the mistake that that division was actually on Mr. Lang’s amendment. But the argument that I advanced is not destroyed. Upon examining the division list myself, I discovered that there was a considerable number of members of the Government who had spoken one way and voted the other. I now correct my previous statement for the purpose of the record and state correctly the names of those who opposed the amendment. They were the then Minister for Primary Industry; the present Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bowden); the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson); the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden; and the present Minister of Trade (Mr. McEwen). If these names are substituted for the names that I originally mentioned, the argument remains the same.
– What did the honorable member for East Sydney do?
– I am coming to that. It was also mentioned by the honorable member for Canning that I did not vote in the division. That is perfectly true.
– I said that your name, was not there.
– In June, 1947, when that division was taken I was leading the Government delegation at the International1 Labour Conference in Geneva. 1 was not in this country so the reason why I did not vote is obvious.
I want to correct another error on thepart of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). At question time to-day 1 asked the Treasurer about his attitude to wage-pegging in. 1947 when we were dealing in this House with a measure to increase parliamentary allowances. The Treasurer said that hehad not changed his attitude, making out that his attitude to-day was the same as it. was then. I had a look through the debate. I found that whilst there were other members of the Government who were much stronger in the views they expressed than the Treasurer, at the same time he was definite enough. The Treasurer is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said -
I should have preferred, as my party would have preferred, this matter to be delayed until the wage-pegging regulations have been repealed.
That is exactly what my question was based on. So it is quite obvious that in 1947 the Treasurer believed that there ought to be no increase in parliamentary salaries and allowances until wage-pegging had been repealed. He has now reversed his attitude and I think that I have made the point that I set out to make by way of a question.
Let me turn to another matter to which I referred here about a week ago. I am still not satisfied about this. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) at his own request, had a matter referred to the Privileges Committee and that a report from the committee was submitted to this House. I did not question the procedure up to that point. But I do say that the matter should not be let rest there because, although the honorable member for Capricornia may regard it as having been satisfactorily disposed of, I do not think so and there are lots of other people who think the same.
As we are aware, under the peculiar system that operates, we get a report from the Committee of Privileges, but we do not get the minutes of evidence. So, we do not know what evidence was submitted to the committee unless we get the tip that evidence was given in a certain direction. I have heard a rumour circulating around the corridors of this House that the honorable member for Capricornia had his fare to Japan, and his expenses, paid by Messrs. Thiess Brothers who are large contractors to the Government. Up to this point, the honorable member for Capricornia has not denied the accuracy of this report. 1 gave him the opportunity during the adjournment debate the other night of saying whether that was true or otherwise. But when he got up to speak all that he said was that he believed people would prefer to take his word against that of Mr. Somerville Smith. I do not know the situation between these two gentlemen. I do not know either of them very well. But I do know that a straight question requires a straight answer. If the honorable member for Capricornia continues to remain silent and will not deny this rumour that his full expenses were paid by Messrs. Thiess Brothers to go to Japan, that is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. We should know more about it.
– Why should you?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) can come into the defence if he likes, but the fact is that this question has not been answered. I say that it should be answered. Does the Minister argue that a member of this chamber is entitled to be, in effect, in the employ of a private firm; in the employ of people who do business with the Government; representing their interests when they are big contractors to the Government? Does the Minister believe that that is a proper procedure to be followed? It may be that the Minister is a little tender on this particular subject because if we can only delve far enough we would probably find that he had done a little bit of this, himself, on the side.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal of those comments. I know nothing about this transaction whatever, and I do not want the honorable member for East Sydney to cast aspersions at me.
Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is imputing improper motives. He cannot follow that line. I ask him to withdraw the remarks that he made with reference to the character of the Minister.
– I withdraw whatever is taken objection to. May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you might pay heed to some of the insulting interjections of the Minister for Labour and National Service and see that decisions from the Chair are not in one direction only.
– Order! The Minister for Labour and National Service, who is interjecting, will remain silent.
– I repeat my question, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue to repeat it until I get an answer. I do not care who answers it, although, naturally, I prefer the honorable member for Capricornia to do so himself. Up to this point, he has not done so. If the Minister for Labour and National Service believes that this kind of payment is a legitimate payment to a member of the Parliament, let him get up and say so; let him defend the honorable member. I say here and now that it seems to be a scandalous state of affairs if a member of this Parliament is acting as a paid lobbyist for any firm that is doing business with the Government.
– But the honorable member said that it was only a rumour.
– And, therefore, I want a denial of it. Is the Minister for the Army able to say whether it is true or otherwise?
– Will the honorable member tell us where he got the rumour from?
– The Minister for the Army is coming into the discussion now! I want to know whether there is a denial, and I believe that other honorable members want to know. I believe that we should know, if we could get the minutes of the evidence given before the Committee of Privileges. I believe that we should know, if those minutes were produced. I understand that this matter of the trip to Japan and the expenses paid by Messrs. Thiess Brothers was mentioned before the committee. If it was mentioned to the committee, which makes its report to this House, what a ridiculous situation we are in if we cannot say anything about it because we are expected to receive the committee’s report, knowing nothing about the evidence upon which the committee’s decision was made! I hope that some endeavour will be made-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, we have heard a most extraordinary performance by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I do not profess to know anything about the affairs of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). What interests me is the way in which the honorable member for East Sydney has approached this subject. He has said, in effect, “ I have heard a rumour “. He has produced no evidence of his own to support the alleged rumour, and he has thrown on the person about whom he alleges that he has heard the rumour the onus of proving his innocence.
I can remember an occasion when we were debating in this chamber a bill which provided for the banning of the Australian Communist Party, and when the question of the onus of proof was very much in our minds. On that occasion, the honorable member for East Sydney stormed about the iniquity of throwing any onus of proof on any one. Yet he is now prepared to peddle a rumour, to offer no evidence of any kind in support of it, and to throw the onus of proof on an honorable member of this House, who, for all that the honorable member for East Sydney knows, may be completely innocent of the imputation made in the alleged rumour. The honorable member for East Sydney has fabricated the whole basis of his attack against the honorable member for Capricornia.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Minister has said that I fabricated the matter that I have raised in this House. I ask for a withdrawal of that remark, because it contains an improper imputation against me.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw his remark.
M». HASLUCK. - I withdraw the term “ fabricated “, Sir, and, if I may do so without disrespect to the Chair, I shall make more precise what I was saying. I suggest that what the honorable member for East Sydney was doing was to say that he had heard a rumour. He never brought forward anything more substantial than that statement to justify the rest of his remarks. The whole of the rest of his remarks was built upon that initial statement that he had heard a rumour. Having said that he had heard that rumour, he threw the onus of proof upon a colleague in this Parliament. Yet, on another occasion, when far more serious matters than this were under consideration, the honorable member went to town in a most eloquent fashion about the iniquity of any one having the onus of proof thrown upon him. I do not think that the honorable member is consistent. He has revealed himself here as a person who is concerned more with blackening the reputation of a fellow member of this Parliament than with doing justice to any one.
.- I do not intend to take up the time of the House for very long, but in view of the remarks that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has made, I feel constrained to say something about certain happenings in 1947. Yesterday, I raised the question of certain remarks that had been made by the honorable member during the debate on the Ministers of State Bill 1959, and said that I had observed that the name of the honorable member did not appear in a certain division list. I said nothing about the way in which he voted. The honorable member for East Sydney has come back to the attack to-day in a question addressed to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and again this evening in this debate, in an attempt to establish that the present Treasurer, in 1947. voted against a proposal which related to wage-pegging, and which has an application to the position that exists to-day. We have heard the honorable member say this evening that, in 1947, the present Treasurer endeavoured to disregard the position that then existed. I refer honorable members to the first division list on page 3432, in volume 192 of the “ Parliamentary Debates “ of 4th and 5th June, 1947 - as I said yesterday, the sitting continued after midnight on that occasion. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, had moved an amendment to the Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1947, in these terms -
That all the words after “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted after the whole question of allowances to and provision for members of Parliament h?.s been investigated and reported upon by an all-party committee of both Houses “.
When the vote was taken, the question put to the House was -
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.
The present Treasurer, who was then the honorable member for Fawkner, voted with the “ Noes “. That means that he favoured the amendment moved by the present Prime Minister who, as I have said, was then Leader of the Opposition. I notice, however, that although the honorable member for East Sydney is not listed as having voted for the “ Ayes “, the names of Mr. Chifley, who was then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who was then Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs, and quite a number of other honorable members who are now in the Opposition, are listed.
The honorable member for East Sydney has tried to skate around this fact this evening by saying that the person from whom he got his information apparently did not understand parliamentary procedure. I think that this may lead one quite properly to believe that the honorable member employs somebody outside this Parliament to do his parliamentary work for him. Whether or not that is true, I do not know. T tried to find out by interjection, but, in the fashion that we know so well, the honorable gentleman passed over that.
I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying something that should put an end to this discussion about the relationship between wage-pegging and the present position. As all honorable members who look at the matter fairly and squarely will understand, there is no direct relationship, because the wage-pegging regulations prevented employers from increasing the wages of their employees, even if they wished to do so. That is not the position to-day.
Although the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ended the quarterly adjustments, there is nevertheless an investigation and an adjustment of wages, either up or down, every twelve months. Therefore, wage-pegging has no direct relationship to the present position.
Finally, to come back to the attempt by the honorable member for East Sydney to get out of this by throwing the blame on to the shoulders of somebody else, I say, with all the deliberation that I can command, that the honorable member for East Sydney failed to vote on the Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1959 either because he feels that he is not earning his money, or because he felt that some people outside the Parliament would know that he was not earning the increased salary and allowances for which he would have been voting.
– Mr. Speaker, prior to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) leaving the House last week, I discussed with him this problem of the attack made upon him by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I say straight away, Sir, that I do not know a great deal other than what the honorable member for Capricornia has told me about his trip to Japan. I have never been interested in it and I know nothing of the facts other than what he has told me. I want to say immediately that the honorable member himself would be in the House this evening were it not for the fact that he has been ill. He went to see a doctor in Sydney to-day, and has been unable to return. If he had been here, he would have been able to reply to the criticism made by the honorable member for East Sydney.
– But the honorable member for Capricornia heard the honorable member for East Sydney the other night.
– Order! I think it would be better if the honorable member remained silent.
– Of course, we all heard the honorable member for East Sydney the other night. I think that his performance then was disgraceful but we have heard an even worse one from him this evening. If the honorable gentleman from Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) wants to aline himself with the honorable member for East Sydney - he did not do so in the party room when the vote was taken on the salaries question - let him make up his mind about it.
I make two comments. First, the matter, so far as it concerns this House, has already been dealt with by the Committee of Privileges, which has held that no breach of privilege was involved. So the matter no longer concerns the House, and there is, therefore, no question in which the House could be genuinely interested. As for the suggestion that there should be a royal commission, Sir, this problem of Mr. Somerville Smith has nothing whatsoever to do with a royal commission. The House has decided that there was no breach of privilege. If there is any matter involving civil law, then it is for either the honorable member for Capricornia or Mr. Somerville Smith to exert his civil rights in a court of law. All of us here know Mr. Somerville Smith. We may sympathize with him but I do not think it would be reasonable to expect any person to attempt to exert in a court of law his civil rights against the man. In fact, action could not be taken, because the person concerned would not be in a position to defend himself. In any event if judgment were obtained against him, nothing could possibly be got from him, because Mr. Somerville Smith is not a person of any great substance.
Finally, Sir, I come to the question whether or not there is anything wrong in the alleged fact that my friend from Capricornia went to Japan to endeavour to sell some Australian coal to the Japanese That had nothing whatsoever to do with a government contract. It was purely a private and individual transaction, as we find from the evidence of the honorable member for East Sydney himself. I see nothing wrong with a private member of this House engaging in normal commercial undertakings not connected with the business of government. In fact, it was once felt that private members should engage in their private occupations and in addition give all the time necessary to their parliamentary and electoral duties. So the second point mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney adds little or nothing to the case.
I hope that, after those two comments, this scavenging process that is going on against my colleague will be dropped. We on this side of the House - and I am certain that most honorable members on the other side of the House who know the honorable member for Capricornia feel the same - trust him. He is not only a trustworthy, but also a highly respected colleague. The attacks made on him by the honorable member for East Sydney do nothing but degrade this House and unnecessarily affect the reputation of my colleague.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has sought again to bring into question my attitude to measures introduced by the Labour Government in 1947, corresponding to those just passed by the Parliament to increase parliamentary allowances. I think that, by way of answer to the question that he put to me earlier to-day. I made my own position quite clear, and established, I think to the satisfaction of anybody who cared to study the comparative situations in 1947 and to-day. that there is a very marked difference between what occurred then and what is occurring at this time. Wages were pegged, at that time, when Labour was in office, bv way of a national security regulation. There was no inquiry by a committee - whether a committee of this Parliament or an independent committee appointed by this Parliament - at which members from oil sections of the Parliament could express their views. Indeed. Sir, it was largely because of the experience in 1947, and the very wide public dissatisfaction which developed then over the decision to fix arbitrarily some increases in parliamentary allowances, that we. when we came to office, adopted the method of committee investigation and report, which we have pursued ever since - a method of dealing with this matter to which honorable gentlemen opposite have given either their vocal or their tacit support.
Now. Sir. T did not rise to clarify my own position in this matter, in 1947 or at any other time. T think that the record establishes that beyond challenge. But I did think that the opportunity should be taken to point out to some of the newer members on the other side of the House that the honorable member for East Sydney should be the last man to take our minds back to the events of 1947, because he has demonstrated that not only on this present occasion was he disloyal to his leader and to his mates in the caucus, but that it is a part of a pattern of cheer-chasing that he has pursued whenever this matter has arisen in this House. That is something that new members opposite would do well to study so that they may see for themselves just how much reliance they can place on the loyalty and support of the honorable member for East Sydney whenever he fears that some passing loss of popularity would be suffered by him were he to combine with his colleagues in the course that they have adopted.
I want to refer further to the events through which we have passed, but I certainly will not attempt, Sir, to traverse the merits of the legislation dealt with by this chamber. We have two men who, in this issue, have carried a very great weight of responsibility for this Parliament. First, there is the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), a man who has been attacked for the part he has played in relation to the Government’s decision, but a man who, throughout his public career, has shown his regard for high principle and, by his own example-
– Pardon my laughter.
– Yes, I will pardon your laughter, because I will draw a contrast between his course of action and yours. In 1947, the present Prime Minister opposed the legislation then introduced by the Labour government. He did so, not because he thought that members were being adequately paid. He did not think that. He opposed it, but not because he responded to a press campaign as hostile in essence as that to which we have been subjected in recent times - and which he criticized very strongly himself in his recent speech. He opposed it because he did not think it right, while wages were pegged, for the Parliament to increase its own emoluments. Neither did the honorable member for East Sydney think it right, and he showed that by abstaining from voting with his colleagues when the measure was brought in. The difference between the two men was that the Prime Minister was prepared to stand by the principles in which he believed. He did not take one penny of that increase of salary during the life of that Parliament. Can the honorable member for East Sydney say that he had the same regard for principle on that occasion as was shown by the right honorable gentleman who now enjoys the distinction of being the Prime Minister of this country?
Then we come to 1955. At that time, the Prime Minister said, “ Yes, I think the time is ripe for a review of parliamentary salaries, but I do not want that review to apply to myself or my colleagues in the Ministry “. The result has been that seven years have gone by since any review was made of the salaries of Ministers and officers of the Parliament. And in 1955, even after the report on salaries and allowances had been received, the Prime Minister postponed its implementation for several months, until he felt that the economic situation was more propitious for its adoption.
That is the record of the Prime Minister on this matter. It is the record of a man who at all times has had a proper regard for principle and a sense of the fitness of the action which was being taken by the Parliament.
Then there is the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who also has carried a big responsibility to the Parliament in this matter. I do not often agree with the right honorable gentleman on matters of policy, but T do believe that on this issue he has shown a dignity and a stability of conduct which show him in a very much better light than that in which his detractor, the honorable member for East Sydney, is shown, or the president of the Australian Labour Party, who has resigned, and who has tried to make some political capital - I suspect for his own political advancement - out of this issue before us.
The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister should be amongst the last men to be attacked for the stand they have taken on this matter. Both of them could have looked to a prosperous income and a comfortable security had they gone ahead with their professional careers and not devoted their talents to the service of the country. The Leader of the Opposition, as a former High Court judge, could have retired on a comfortable superannuation of more than £3,000 a year.
– To which he did not contribute.
– To which he was not required, by statute of this Parliament, to contribute. I should have thought that the honorable member for East Sydney in those circumstances at least might have shown more loyalty to a man who has displayed a great deal of courage on this issue. I noticed in this morning’s press a letter attributed to the former president of the Australian Labour Party. He concluded his letter in these terms -
I think by and large we have endeavoured to model our thinking and decisions upon the fundamental honesty which shone from the late Ben Chifley.
He quoted Mr. Chifley as saying, “ If you think a thing is right, then fight for it “, and continued -
I hope I am fighting as he would have wished.
I have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Chifley. He was one of the great Australians and great members of the Labour Party in this century.
– You did not say that when he was alive.
– I have always said it. He and I were always on terms of friendship. Mr. Chamberlain has taken a pretty poor example with which to flog the Leader of the Opposition on this issue. It was Mr. Chifley, who, in 1947, in the teeth of wage-pegging regulations for the workers, introduced and had passed legislation increasing parliamentary allowances because he thought that they should be adjusted and that that was a matter worth fighting for, against the hostile press and against cheer-chasers like the honorable member for East Sydney. Mr. Chamberlain can take such comfort as he likes from a contrast between the late Mr. Chifley and the present Leader of the Opposition. At least on this issue they had the same approach, the same degree of public responsibility and the same courage. To both of them, what they thought was right was worth fighting for.
.- In the last Parliament, I suggested that the Standing Orders Committee could well consider a revision of the Standing Orders to protect the reputations of members when an attack was made on them on the basis of a rumour. On that occasion, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr.
Ward) besmirched the character of the honorable and learned member for Parramatta (Sir Garfield Barwick). He said that he had heard something by way of rumour. When he was asked to substantiate the rumour, he could not produce one scintilla of evidence.
Precisely the same situation has developed this evening. He has attacked the character and integrity of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). How does he attack it? He does not attack it by producing evidence that reasonable minds would be prepared to consider and possibly to accept. No. Sir; he adopts the coward’s way and resorts again to rumour. He says that he has heard by way of rumour that the honorable member for Capricornia did this and did that. What the honorable member for Capricornia did is no mystery at all and I suggest to the honorable member for East Sydney - the darling of Darlinghurst - that he may as well have the facts. The honorable member for Capricornia went to Japan. The people of Queensland, at least, were fully acquainted with the nature of his mission, and the date of his departure and of his return. There is no mystery about it at all. He did not sneak out of the country; he did not leave like a wombat at night. He went with the full knowledge and the full authority of the Premier of Queensland. He went with the full knowledge and approval of the leader of this House (Mr. Harold Holt) and of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Before he left, he was interviewed in Sydney by one of the Sydney daily newspapers.
He went to Japan to stimulate the position of a company which operates within the system of free enterprise. What is wrong with that? Would the honorable member for East Sydney not be prepared to lift a finger to help a company and to promote its interests so that it could develop and thus ensure employment for its workers? I see nothing wrong with that; there is nothing to be ashamed of in it at all. The honorable gentleman should approve, if any semblance of respectability lurks within his frame, of the conduct of the honorable member for Capricornia who was prepared to travel half way across the globe in order to advance the development of Queensland and to ensure the employment of good decent Queenslanders. But what does the honorable member for East Sydney do? All he is prepared to do is to walk down the garden path to find something to throw at a reputation that he can only envy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
i asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What was the number of - (a) tradesmen and (b) apprentices employed as (i) carpenters, (ii) bricklayers, (iii) plumbers, (iv) painters and (v) electricians in each State at the 31st December, 1958?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Care of the Teeth.
t asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question has been referred to me by my colleague, the acting Minister for Trade. The answer is as follows: -
The percentages, by value, of total Australian exports of wheat, flour and butter covered by contracts by the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Dairy Produce Board, are -
Second World War the Australian Wheat Board has been the sole exporter of wheat from Australia. Sales, including those under current trade agreements, are negotiated on normal commercial terms between the Board and the buyer. Sales of wheat by the Board, therefore, have represented 100 per cent, of exports over the five years ended on 30th June, 1958.
Butter.- 1953-54, 70 per cent.; 1954-55, 84 per cent.; 1955-56, 84 per cent.; 1956-57, 78 per cent.; 1957-58, 78 per cent.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590422_reps_23_hor23/>.