23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, who is indisposed to-day, I have to inform the House that the Treasurer left Australia yesterday on an official visit abroad. The principal purposes of the Treasurer’s visit are to attend the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ meeting in London and the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank in Washington. He expects to return to Australia about the middle of October. In the meantime the Prime Minister will act as Treasurer, and he has nominated a Minister for each week of the Treasurer’s absence to carry out the duties of Leader of the House.
– I desire to direct a question without notice to the PostmasterGeneral. Some time ago I took up with the Postmaster-General’s Department the matter of having erected at Eucla a form of monument or plaque to commemorate the wonderful work and service rendered by the telegraphist at the repeater station, Eucla. The reply I received was both sympathetic and encouraging. I ask the Postmaster-General what decision has now been reached in the matter.
– I remember the matter submitted by the honorable member for Grey and, I believe, on quick recollection, also by other members from South Australia. I am not entirely clear as to the present situation. I was of the opinion that finality had been reached. However, I shall obtain the information the honorable member seeks, and let him know.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for the Interior I refer to the proposed levying of water rates in Canberra, at a £5 fixed minimum charge with an excess rate of ls. per 1,000 gallons.
Will these new rates apply only to householders, or will they apply also to government buildings and gardens and so on? Does not the Minister feel that, although such charges may be more applicable in cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, the levying of these rates will conflict with the Government’s aim that Canberra be a garden city? Has any estimate been made of how much water is required in a dry year in Canberra? Has the Minister considered providing a more liberal water allowance to Canberra residents who give a written undertaking that they will maintain the large nature strips in front of their homes?
– The proposal to charge for water in Canberra has received careful consideration, not only by the Government but by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. That council has considered the problem carefully and has made the recommendations referred to by the honorable member. The council is an elected body and I would imagine that it represents responsible opinion in this city. It has recommended a charge for water which is somewhat lower than the rate the Government would have fixed, but the council has sensibly suggested that the rate be given a trial for a period of twelve months. That was a very sound recommendation. The rate per 1,000 gallons is considerably lower than the rate charged m any town or municipality in Australia to my knowledge and it is considered to be a reasonable charge. So far as maintaining the appearance of a garden city is concerned, I hope that the residents ot Canberra will feel some sense of responsibility in this matter, as, indeed, the Advisory Council has felt. Under those circumstances I believe there is no danger that the character of this National Capital will change.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question concerning wool promotion methods. Has the Minister ever considered the suggestion of the Australian Primary Producers Union that a team of women skilled in woolcraft should be sent to Asian countries to teach the women of those countries knitting and other techniques in the use of wool in order to increase the demand for Australian wool?
– The promotion of Australian wool is, by traditional choice of the wool industry, left very substantially within the hands of the industry. To that end Parliament has established the Australian Wool Bureau, which operates within the general jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. The wool-growers from time to time invite the Government to tax them directly and specifically for the purpose of providing immense funds for the Australian Wool Bureau, and the Government itself contributes largely in this connexion. The details of wool promotion are, . therefore, decided by and controlled by representatives of the Australian wool industry through the Australian Wool Bureau. If the proposal referred to by the honorable member has been under lively consideration, I should have thought that it would have found its way to the Australian Wool Bureau. I arn sure that my colleague will make inquiries to that end and advise the honorable member accordingly.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Has any application been made for a television broadcasting licence for any country area of Western Australia? If not, when may such applications be made?
– It will be remembered that when I announced in this House the development of the third phase of television which embraces the extension of television to country areas, certain areas were not included. No areas of Western Australia were included in this phase. Applications for the extension of television under the third phase do not close until 30th September. I do not know whether any application has been made by Western Australian interests, but under the Government’s policy it would not be competent for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to consider such an application at this stage. However, I remind the honorable member for Stirling and other honorable members that I said in my announcement that as soon as this third phase was well under way further attention would be given to the next phase - the extension of television to areas not covered in the first three phases.
– My question without notice is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister. Is it a fact that, in the debate during the last sessional period on the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1959, Government speakers denied that grants for road construction and maintenance were in any way related to revenue from a specific source, namely the petrol tax? Is it a fact, also, that the Government is now asserting that child endowment payments are related to, and dependent upon, receipts from the pay-roll tax? Will the right honorable gentleman clearly state, as a matter of principle, whether or not specific payments from revenue are to be related to specific sources of revenue?
– In the first part of the question, the honorable gentleman asks me to confirm whether something that he relates was in fact stated in the Parliament. I do not know whether it was, but he can check that by looking up “ Hansard “. The Government has not felt it desirable, as a general proposition, to levy explicit taxes for explicit purposes - for example, as suggested by the honorable member, by devoting the proceeds of the petrol tax to road works. A few moments ago, I spoke of a special tax on wool-growers for an explicit purpose, and that is an exception to the rule. I think that there has never been a precise mathematical or arithmetical relationship between the pay-roll tax and child endowment, but there is a historical understanding that there is a relationship.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. It refers to a statement in the press that a syndicate backing the shipment of fat lambs from Australia to the United States of America on the vessel “ Delfino “ would, as a result of opposition by uninformed people and lack of support by Australia, seriously consider withdrawing from the Australian trade and concentrating on shipments from New Zealand. In view of the importance of exporting from Australia as many fat lambs as possible, will the Minister endeavour to assist in maintaining this trade?
– As far as I am aware, there has been no application to date for permission to make additional shipments of live sheep, but I want to assure the honorable member that the Department of Primary Industry and the Government gave all possible assistance and co-operation on the occasion of the first shipment. Should permission for further shipments be sought, we shall unhesitatingly do the same thing again.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: In view of the vast technological changes in the forms of production in secondary and related industries, has consideration been given to the need to set up, within the Department of Labour and National Service, some form of inquiry into the inroads that automation and other technological changes are making, or will make, into employment opportunities in Australia over the next ten years? If not, does the Minister regard the matter as one of great urgency which warrants early attention in order to secure a guarantee of full employment for the coming generation in Australia?
– The Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, consisting of representatives of industry, the trade union movement and the Government, made a very full inquiry into the effects of automation on both full employment and productivity. I think it can be said immediately that the council came to the conclusion that the alleged effects were exaggerated and that it was essential to the development of this country and the well-being of the Australian working man that automation should proceed at its present rate. I shall obtain a copy of the full report of the council and let the honorable member have it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. In the course of his recent tour did the Minister visit the new immigration centres established by his department in Belfast, Edinburgh and Manchester? Have these centres been operating for a sufficient length of time to enable an assessment to be made as to whether they are creating more interest in Australia and stimulating an increased flow of British migrants? If they are successfully performing these functions, will the Minister consider establishing offices in other centres with large populations where we still have no representation?
– I did take the opportunity, when I was in the United Kingdom recently, of visiting our immigration offices in what might be described as the provinces - and in saying that, Sir, I hope I do not offend any Scot or any Ulsterman, or any descendants of such, in the House.
– Why didn’t you go to Dublin? You offend me.
– If the honorable gentleman will approve of my going abroad again, perhaps it will be possible to visit other places. I am glad to tell my friend from Wentworth that these offices in Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast are more than fulfilling the expectations that we had when I authorized their establishment. The office in Manchester was first opened for business last November. This was followed in February by the opening of our office in Edinburgh. This in turn was followed in April by the establishment of the Belfast office. This whole experiment in decentralization is working so promisingly, and so numerous are the inquiries which are being received by these three offices, that I have now decided to take the matter one stage further. As I announced upon my return to Australia in about the middle of July, I have authorized the opening of a further office, in Birmingham. That, Sir, will, I hope, be opened for business well before the end of the year, in temporary premises. Meanwhile, my department has obtained a very good permanent site for its office in Birmingham. I hope that we will be fully established there and flourishing by April, 1960, at the latest.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services: Why is a pensioner, or an applicant for a pension, who, by reason of age or infirmity, is unable to work, and who seeks to augment his pittance by letting a portion of his home, subject to the penal clauses of the means test, while a pensioner who is still able and well enough to work is permitted to earn £3 10s. a week, without incurring such penalties?
– I regret to say that I did not hear the question addressed to me by the honorable member for St. George. However, it quite obviously involves technical points regarding the application of the means test in respect of age pensioners. If the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper, I will provide him with an adequate reply.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, is supplementary to a question asked yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. Can the Minister tell me whether there are in Australia copies of the maps to which he referred, printed in China, showing portions of India and neighbouring countries as belonging to Communist China? If so, could they be made available to the press for publication, or be publicized by other means, so that the people of Australia may know of this Hitler-like process of informing people of a country’s intended moves beforehand? In this case, the Australian public could follow with more interest the present struggle, and the actions of Communist China would be more evident.
– I propose to ask the House later for leave to make a short statement in respect of India. However, I can tell the honorable member and the House now that I have possession of one of these maps and that I agree with the honorable member that, if the contents of the maps were more commonly known, the public could more readily follow cabled news published in the press. I will consider what means are at my disposal to make the maps more generally available.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General. About a fortnight ago, and again about a week ago, the honorable member for Banks addressed a question to the Postmaster-General which could have been answered after a simple telephone call had been made. The question was: Is the Postal Department employing a private debt-collecting agency to collect outstanding accounts on commission? Why has the Postmaster-General not obtained an answer to that question? What is the reason for his discourtesy to an honorable member on this side of the House who asked a question that should be so simply answered?
– I take exception to the use of the word “ discourtesy “ when referring to my attitude towards honorable members on either side of the House. If the honorable member will see me afterwards and couch his ‘ question in other terms, I will be glad to give him the latest information.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Social Services, follows a request which was made by the Wodonga Pensioners Association because single pensioners who draw one pension only are faced with numerous fixed expenses similar to those of a married couple, who are entitled to two pensions. Will the Minister give earnest consideration to paying a higher supplementary rate to the single pensioner than is at present paid?
– This is not the first time that the honorable member for Indi has made representations to me on this matter, and I do not suppose that it will be the last time. He has been most persistent in all his representations since he was elected to this House. The question of giving additional assistance to single pensioners has been considered from time to time and, largely to relieve that situation, the Government decided to depart from the traditional custom by making supplementary assistance available to people when they qualify. It may be that circumstances will permit the Government to extend supplementary assistance to single pensioners at an increased rate, and I assure the honorable member that the matter will be carefully considered.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that the Army is equipping and conditioning a force for despatch to a tropical theatre. If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, will the Minister say whether the force is intended as a replacement or reinforcement for Malaya or is destined for some other area?
– I think it is pretty well known to honorable members of this House that the Australian battalion at present in Malaya is due to return to Australia during October; in any event, all members of the battalion will be back here before Christmas. The relieving battalion will, at the same time, go forward to Malaya. Some members have already gone and others are preparing to go. The purpose of this battalion is exactly the same as that of the battalion at present there; it will form part of the strategic force, part of the Commonwealth Brigade, and will assist, as is at present being done, the Malayan people to put down the Communist terrorist campaign.
– Can the Minister for Air tell me whether the Commonwealth Government has arranged for guests of honour to be present at the various State celebrations of Air Force Week, this year? If it has, can he inform the House which officer has been selected to represent the Commonwealth Government in Western Australia?
– I have recently made arrangements for senior officers of the Royal Australian Air Force, either serving or retired, to represent the board and myself at the forthcoming Air Force commemoration week celebrations in the capital cities. From recollection, I think that the officer designated to go to Western Australia is Air Commodore Pearce, Air Officer commanding the R.A.A.F. base at Richmond, who is, himself, a West Australian. I regret that owing to a number of engagements in Victoria and New South Wales I am unable to go to Western Australia this year, particularly in view of the importance to present and past members of the R.A.A.F. of the unveiling of the Spitfire memorial, which will take place during that week. The Air Force will take part by providing a fly-past with a formation of fighter aircraft.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. 1 understand that when migrant centres are no longer required, the buildings and equipment are handed over to the Department of the Interior for disposal. If this is a fact, will the Minister consider informing the local government authority in whose area such a centre is located so that it may have the opportunity to obtain the buildings at a most reasonable price and put them to the best possible use?
– It is quite correct that when the Department of Immigration has no further use for migrant hostels they are handed to the Department of the Interior for disposal. In cases where the property was originally acquired from either a State Government or a local authority, that body is usually given first opportunity to reacquire the property. In all other cases the property is disposed of to the public to the best advantage. However, regard is always had to local requirements. With respect to cases such as the honorable member mentioned, I assure him that the needs of the local authority will be considered.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: In view of the urgent need for Australia to expand her exports of secondary products, will the right honorable gentleman say what steps are being taken to encourage secondary industries to seek overseas markets and what facilities are available to manufacturers, through the Department of Trade, to do so?
– The Department of Trade, in accordance with the policy of the Government, is quite active in providing facilities and help for Australian secondary industry to increase exports. The Australian Trade Commissioner Service has recently been expanded and to-day covers practically all of the potential export markets in the world. That service is constantly reporting commercial intelligence to the manufacturing industries of Australia which then become the judges of whether an opportunity exists for them. In addition, the Trade Commissioners give direct and personal help on the solicitation of any exporter or potential exporter. Manufacturing industries have been invited to join in the succession of trade missions which have been arranged and which have visited many countries and brought home orders for millions of pounds worth of goods. The products of Australian manufacturing industries are exhibited, by arrangement with the Government, at trade fairs in obvious markets around the world. The Government is spending immense sums of money in the United Kingdom in general trade promotion and publicity. The Australian manufacturing industries have joined the Government in this activity and are contributing to it.
The Export Payments Insurance Corporation has been set up by the Government to aid both primary and secondary industries to insure against the risks of export. To date, more than £20,000,000 of cover has been taken out under that particular facility. The manufacturing industries now have a direct opportunity to advise the Government following the constitution of the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council and its sister body, the Export Development Council which, incidentally, under the chairmanship of Sir John Allison, met in Canberra yesterday and is continuing its meeting to-day. Trade negotiations are constantly going on. The Department of Trade is always willing to enter into consultation with any manufacturer who feels that it is within our competence to help him.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, nothing will aid so much Australian manufacturers to export as first achieving a grip on the home market. Our policy of protection is operating to ensure that they secure a solid grip on the Australian market to provide them with the best base of all from which to conduct their export operations.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: As, in general, no provision is made in the streets of the residential areas of Canberra for taps or stand pipes from which street lawns and plantations can be watered, is it thus true that the only satisfactory means of watering these lawns and plantations is from the taps situated within the house allotment and metered to the domestic supply? Will the Minister say what action the Parks and Gardens Section will take to see that street lawns and plantations are watered in cases where the householders or tenants find it uneconomic to go on watering street lawns and plantations which they have quite happily maintained and which, in many cases, they have, by their own work, and at their own expense, established?
– It is hoped that the residents of Canberra will take some pride in the maintenance and the appearance of the nature strips in front of their residences, as they have done in the past. The question of providing some special concessional rate for the watering of nature strips was considered by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council when reviewing water rates as a whole. The council came to the conclusion that as the rate was so far below the cost of providing water services this, in itself, was sufficient concession for the time being. At least, that is my interpretation of the council’s decision that no special concession should be granted to householders who looked after nature strips.
As I have pointed out, the Government’s decision is in the nature of a trial period of twelve months. At a later stage it might well be necessary to introduce some other arrangements for the payment of a higher base rate, plus some additional concession, but that remains to be seen. I am confident that the people of Canberra are proud of their city, and that they are willing to share, with the Government, the cost of maintaining its appearance.
– Can the Minister for Territories say what action has been taken to develop local government administration in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? At the other end of the line, can be say what action, if any, is contemplated to give this Territory representation in the National Parliament?
– The question of representation of the Territory in this Parliament is, of course, a matter of policy, and it will receive the consideration of the Government in due course. Local government, I think, has two different meanings in two different contexts in the Territory. Local government in the sense of municipal government as known in Australia has been the subject of investigation by an Australian expert and the report which he furnished on the problems of inaugurating local government in that municipal sense has been referred to the residents of the Territory themselves. The Government would welcome the introduction of local municipal government in the towns of the Territory such as Port Moresby or Rabaul, even though we recognize that it would be a complicated question because of mixed populations and the varying ownership of rateable property.
I say, without reflection on the people of the Territory, that up to the present time there has been no sign of any great enthusiasm for the inauguration of municipal government in the towns. If, at any time, the towns are prepared to bear that burden we will certainly co-operate with them in bringing about local municipal government: In the meantime, that sort of function is performed by the Administration with the assistance of town advisory councils on which both European and indigenous people are represented.
The other meaning that is given to the term local government in the Territory is government by the indigenous people in respect of their village affairs. We have conscientiously embarked on the promotion of local government councils in the villages as the first stage in the political advancement of the people. This is going ahead very rapidly and successfully in many districts of the Territory. I can supply the exact figures to the honorable member later. The increase in the number of local government councils and the extension of the work that they are doing in managing village affairs and running village enterprises are really remarkable and are encouraging signs of healthy political growth.
– Is the Minister for Health in a position to advise me why the drug butozolidine has been struck off the pensioners’ free list? I understand that this drug is used extensively to treat arthritic and rheumatic complaints. I therefore ask the Minister whether he can appreciate the hardship of most pensioners for whom the drug is prescribed in having to pay for it a price which is almost prohibitive in comparison with their pension.
– Drugs are added to the list of pharmaceutical benefits or removed from it in accordance with the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. In this case, as in all other cases, the committee’s advice has been followed. As I pointed out previously to the honorable gentleman, although butozolidine has been removed from the list of pharmaceutical benefits, two other drugs have been put on in its place.
– Could the PostmasterGeneral have prepared for the information of honorable members a summary of each of the existing contracts with airlines and railways for the carriage of mail; also a summary of the policy under which the Postal Department arranged contracts for the carriage of mails by road and sea? Could the existing contracts with airlines and railways for the carriage of mail be made available for the perusal of honorable members who are interested in this matter?
-I shall certainly see if I can obtain the summary for which the honorable member for Mackellar has asked - a summary dealing with existing contracts and, if I take him correctly, contracts which will be determined as a result of our new policy. The latter point is being examined now and is not yet finalized. However, I shall obtain all the information possible for the honorable member and let him have it.
-I ask the Minister for
Health what steps the Commonwealth Department of Health is taking in coordinating its services in research with the various State health authorities in fighting the very serious menace of hepatitis.
– Mr. Speaker, in such matters, the Commonwealth Government is guided by the advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
– My question to the Minister for Trade follows on the question asked a moment ago by the honorable member for Phillip. Is it true that in recent years, inflation in Australia has increased much more rapidly than it has among the competitors and customer countries of Australia and that a further boost has been given to inflation by the increase recently in the basic wage? If these are facts, would it be true to say, in colloquial terms, that Australia’s secondary industries have Buckley’s chance of competing on overseas markets?
– It would be completely incorrect to say so. Broadly, an examination of the matters to which the honorable member has referred would reveal that the normal pressures of war-time inflation were more effectively controlled in Australia than in almost any other country. That is to the credit of the governments drawn from the political parties on both sides of the House which administered Australia during the second world war. That is an unchallengeable fact, I am sure, but naturally, after the war, when this Parliament lost some of its war-time authorities which had been invoked to control inflation, there was some balancing up of Australia’s economy compared with the rest of the world. Undoubtedly, that has happened; but inflation is a fluctuating phenomenon in countries. Who would say that to-day Australia is in more trouble than France has been or than are Indonesia and certain other countries I could mention in connexion with inflation?
The evidence of this, of course, is that Australia is selling manufactured goods all around the world. In our sister country of New Zealand, our manufacturing industries have their biggest single export market; and we are facing the competition of all the other manufacturing countries of the world in a country which is not a great manufacturing country. We are selling steel products on the west coast of the United States of America. We are even selling some manufactured products in the United Kingdom and South-East Asia in competition with Japan. I say that the Australian manufacturing industry is not, in a broad sense, in the position of having Buckley’s chance of competing against other countries.
– In the absence of the Treasurer, who is overseas, and in the absence of the Acting Treasurer, the Prime Minister, with a toothache, I ask the acting Acting Treasurer, or whatever Minister happens to be representing Sir Roland Wilson in this chamber, the following questions: - For what period of time has the Commonwealth Bank been restricted to the financing of hire-purchase transactions involving producer goods only? Does this restriction upon the Commonwealth Bank’s hire-purchase activities arise from any Commonwealth Treasury or Government directive? If not. has the Treasurer, the Government, or the Commonwealth Treasury in any way attempted to influence the adoption of such a policy by the Commonwealth Bank authorities? Is this restriction imposed upon, or by, any other financial group or organization engaged in the business of hire purchase? Does the Government consider that such restriction upon the Commonwealth Bank in the interests of its private competitors constitutes fair and reasonable competition, and if it does not, will the Minister who replies to my question state what action he has in mind to correct this situation?
– If the honorable member cares to place his question,, in parliamentary terms, on the notice-paper, it will be answered.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health, and preface it by pointing out to the honorable gentleman that allegations have been made that certain members of the medical profession, in prescribing pharmaceutical benefits for their patients, have deliberately prescribed quantities lower than has usually been the case. I ask the honorable gentleman: Have these allegations been brought to his notice? Is there any substance in the further allegation that this behaviour is a prelude to the Government’s current proposals relating, to pharmaceutical benefits?
– If such allegations have been made they are without foundation. Under the present arrangements quantities are set to the amount of any particular drug which may be prescribed as a pharmaceutical benefit, and these quantities are varied from time to time in accordance with various factors, such as the quantities available, the packages in which the drugs are put up, and so on. At present, as the patient makes no direct payment for the drugs this, of course, does not affect him. When the changes announced by the Treasurer in the Budget speech come into operation there will be a charge for pharmaceutical benefits; but the honorable gentleman will remember, I am sure, that the Treasurer, when speaking on this subject, pointed out that the question of adequate supplies was one which would constantly arise. It is now under consideration.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) requested an early statement by the Government on the situation faced by India on her northern frontiers. Also, a question on the same subject has been placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As I said in the House yesterday, recent developments have been reported at length in the press, and there is not much that I can add. Nevertheless, in view of the importance of these developments, and of the interest in them shown by the House and by the Australian public, I feel that it would meet the wishes of the House if I were to give a short account of the main events - events which, I should say, the Australian Government is following with close attention and with every feeling of sympathy and concern for India. I am sure that these feelings are shared by the House and by the Australian people as a whole.
It has been clear for a number of years that the Chinese Communists have been unwilling to accept as the southern border of China the traditional and internationally- accepted boundaries. This has been made clear in the publication of maps incorporating in China areas of Burma and India. It has also been evident from the official pronouncements made by the Chinese Communist authorities in connexion with their discussions with the Burmese Government. It is, of course, true that not all the frontiers have been fully surveyed and marked on the ground, and the governments concerned would no doubt acknowledge that there may be possibilities for negotiation about border demarcation in minor respects; but, as I have stated, the issues hinge not upon minor frontier adjustments, but on the attitude taken by the Chinese authorities that their southern boundaries have still to be determined.
In 1956 the Prime Minister of Burma visited Peking for the purpose of discussing the Sino-Burmese frontier, and obtained the specific agreement of the Chinese Communist authorities on the need for early negotiations between the two countries on the question of the border between them. However, in the three years that have elapsed, despite continuing efforts, the Burmese Government has been unable to carry the negotiations towards a successful conclusion.
In the case of India, exchanges between India and China on the Sino-Indian frontier first took place in 1951, when the Indian Government drew the attention of the Chinese Communist authorities to the existence of Chinese maps which incorporated large sections of Indian territory in both the north-east and the north-west. In addition, these maps incorporated in Tibet areas of India and Bhutan - Tibet being regarded by the Chinese Communists as an integral part of China. In their answer to the Indian Government the Chinese Communists disclaimed the maps as theirs, and asserted them to be the work of the former regime. Nevertheless, the maps reappeared after a few years.
In replying to representations made in 1954 by the Indian Government requesting the withdrawal of the maps, the Chinese Communists stated, that they had not had time to survey their frontiers and draw new boundaries on the basis of surveys and discussions with other governments. They indicated that until this was done the status quo would be maintained. They did not, however, withdraw the maps.
There has been no advance on this position, which Mr. Nehru recently described as “ inadequate “. Honorable members will have noted that during the recent troubled days Mr. Nehru stated that India’s frontiers were “ firm by treaty, firm by usage, and firm by geography”. As recently as Monday of this week Mr. Nehru said that while the Ladakh border in the north-west had never been clearly demarcated, the McMahon line - that is, the north-eastern frontier, settled by treaty - was well established, and any violation of it would be a clear case of aggression. Mr. Nehru want on to say that it did not really matter whether a few square miles of mountainous area was in India or in China; but it did matter very much if a treaty were violated or an area were occupied with aggressive intent.
I should like to give a few instances of what has happened. For several years there have been occasional reports and rumours of trespassing by Communist Chinese forces into Indian frontier regions. These areas are, of course, remote, mountainous and sparsely-populated, and too much importance should not be given to these isolated occurrences. Last year, however, as Mr. Nehru stated in the Indian Parliament a few days ago, the Chinese Communists built a road from Gartok, a town in Tibet, through the remote uninhabited portion of northern Ladakhthat is to say, through Indian territory in the north-west - linking up with Yarkand, a town in the Chinese province of Sinkiang. In the same statement made in the Indian Parliament Mr. Nehru indicated first, that in July last the Chinese apprehended, but later released, an Indian party investigating Chinese activities in the Khurnak Fort area of Ladakh; secondly, that on 7th August 200 Chinese pushed back a small Assam Rifles post on the north-eastern border. The Chinese later withdrew, and the post was re-occupied by Indians; thirdly, that on 25th August 200 to 300 Chinese fired on an Indian post of eleven men at Miguitun, also in India’s north-eastern territory. They captured all the Indians, but eight later escaped to Longju; and, lastly, that on 26th August the Chinese attacked the post at Longju and forced the Indians to withdraw.
The Indian Government has protested to Communist China about these incidents. The Indian Prime Minister has declared that India’s integrity must be safeguarded at all costs but he did not think that large Chinese forces were concentrated on India’s border. In addition, Mr. Nehru has stated that the Government of India is responsible for the protection of the borders of Sikkim and Bhutan, and also responsible for the territorial integrity of these two States. He said that any aggression against Bhutan and Sikkim would be considered as aggression against India. Honorable members will have noted that as regards Ladakh in the north-west, Mr. Nehru has categorically rejected any suggestion that the Chinese road there should be bombed. The north-eastern area within India has been put under direct military administration, although Mr. Nehru has naturally refused to disclose the military means taken to strengthen border patrols in recent days.
Mr. Speaker, honorable members will form their own judgments of the conduct and behaviour of Chinese Communists in these matters and the relationship of these border pressures on India to the well remembered events in Tibet. Having regard to the importance and gravity of these issues for our great Commonwealth neighbour, which no doubt has them under most serious consideration, it would not be appropriate for the Australian Government to enter into the substance of them at this stage. The Government of India is seeking to secure appropriate recognition of its frontiers and the restoration of peaceful conditions, to which I am sure all honorable members believe India is fully entitled.
– by leave - I propose to say only a few words. Of all international disputes perhaps the most difficult of settlement have been disputes arising from claims and counter claims with regard to alleged boundaries. This present dispute in India seems to come within that category. But equally, no dispute is more suitable for international settlement, either by conciliation or arbitration. The facts cannot be questioned if there is an appropriate inquiry. I think some suggestion or application should be made either to the United Nations or to the International Court of Justice for such an inquiry. Otherwise a border dispute such as the present one could go on for years. I think it would be a service to India if some action of the kind I have suggested were considered. Otherwise, what will be the outcome? Mr. Nehru has stated his case with studious moderation all through this matter and there seem to be very strong grounds for concluding that he is putting an accurate case.
These are matters which occur to me. I am not satisfied merely to let this matter drift. If armed forces are poised ready to act, the situation may deteriorate to a point where neither arbitration nor conciliation are possible, and dangerous armed conflict will occur. Those are the observations that I wish to make. All I ask is that they be considered carefully by the Government as the situation develops.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 1st September (vide page 791).
Proposed vote, £3,228,000.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who had proposed to intervene in this debate at this stage, I wish to say a few words relating to the estimates for his department. It is a reasonable impression that most of the debate which took place last evening tended to wander from the subject before the committee, which is the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department, including the Commonwealth Office of Education. Instead the debate concerned itself with the educational needs of the country as a whole.
Since most of the speakers devoted themselves to the Office of Education, it may be appropriate to state once more the Com monwealth Government’s attitude on this matter. We should retain our perspective as to the reason for the existence of the Commonwealth Office of Education and what it really does. The office exists because the Commonwealth Government has certain responsibilities in education, not connected with the schooling of children, which both this Government and the previous Labour Government felt could best be handled by setting up a research and advisory body. This body - the Commonwealth Office of Education - exists first because Australia has certain international responsibilities in education, and secondly, because the Commonwealth has assumed certain functions in relation to universities and their students. It exists thirdly because we are assisting in the education of migrants. Finally, the Government has needs incidental to its other functions for advice on many aspects of education. You cannot raise armed forces, recruit public servants or train people for work in the Public Service unless you can solve a number of educational problems. For those purposes the Commonwealth Office of Education is constantly available for advice to other Commonwealth instrumentalities.
It may be desirable to review for honorable members the limited functions of the office and to point out that those functions are restricted to matters in which the Commonwealth Government has both a responsibility and an interest. The office is concerned, for example, with various schemes of education and training. These include schemes for training Australians in Australia, such as the Commonwealth scholarship scheme and the recently established scheme of post-graduate awards. They also include schemes for training in Australia selected persons from other countries - notably Colombo Plan students and holders of Australian international awards.
There are also limited schemes for the training of Australians overseas in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. We hope that as a result of the recent Commonwealth conference on education at Oxford, there will be further opportunities for Australian graduates to obtain advanced training in Commonwealth countries.
Honorable members may know that at Oxford a start was made on a great new scheme for the exchange of post-graduate scholars between all parts of the Commonwealth of Nations and on co-operative plans for training and exchanging teachers, so that the more backward countries can be helped to solve their problems of mass illiteracy.
The Office of Education is particularly concerned with language teaching. Its concern started with the problems of many of our migrants in using the English language, and the office, in co-operation with the Department of Immigration, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the State education departments, has assisted in the preparation and operation of schemes for training adults, not only in the use of our language, but also in understanding the essentials of the Australian way of life. This concern has become wider because some students from other countries, although acquainted with our language, need special help in the first few months of their studies in this country so that language difficulties will not hinder them from taking full advantage of our training facilities. Partly as a result of this and partly because of the careful selection of Colombo Plan students, their records at our universities have been very good.
The work of the office in language teaching has not been limited to Australia. Some of our Asian neighbours find a knowledge of English of great value, and the office is assisting in the preparation of English text-books and courses, as well as broadcasts, for use in Asian countries. One Commonwealth responsibility in the field of education is that of international relations, and the office co-operates with the Department of External Affairs and has developed a modest but effective organization to enable our country to discharge its obligations as a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - commonly known as Unesco - with maximum effectiveness but minimum of expenditure.
So much for the work of the Commonwealth Office of Education. Since there has been no adverse criticism of the office in this debate, it is assumed that the Opposition does not question the need for the activities of the office or the allocation of funds proposed for it. Last night’s debate has shown, however, that a number of honorable members believe that more should be done to help the States to provide money for education. It therefore seems desirable to recapitulate what has been stated on earlier occasions, in order to make this Government’s attitude clear. In May, 1958, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) raised for discussion in this place as a matter of urgent public importance the need for the Commonwealth to act to ensure that sufficient funds for adequate public educational activities were available to each State. During the debate that then took place, honorable members were informed that, for the period of seven years beginning with the financial year 1951-52 and ending with the financial year 1957-58, the income of the States from all sources totalled some £2,725,000,000. The Prime Minister pointed out that over the same seven years the States had spent on education approximately £500,000,000, or a little under 20 per cent, of this very large total.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has asked whether it is believed that sufficient money is being spent on education in Australia at present. Surely this is a matter to be answered in each State by the authorities responsible for the provision of education by the State governments. Already in this debate, honorable members on this side of the committee have pointed out that it is easy to ask the Commonwealth to provide more money for this end and for that - land settlement, transport, water supply, &c. It would be very nice indeed if we had more money for all these things. But in matters which are State responsibilities, it is for the States to decide how money shall be apportioned out of their own very considerable resources.
Honorable members on the other side of the chamber have tried, in the present debate, to demonstrate that the arguments on which Commonwealth help for universities is based are applicable equally to other aspects of education. This is not a matter which it should be necessary to traverse again in detail. There are two points of considerable influence in respect of which the university situation is unique. In this part alone of the educational field have all the State governments asked for help. No request of this kind has been received from any of the existing State governments in respect of other forms of education. That is the first unique aspect of the university position: All the Premiers have invited Commonwealth help.
The second unique aspect of the university situation is that the Commonwealth Government believes that financial help from the Commonwealth for universities can be given without weakening the constitutional powers or responsibilities of the States. This is because our Australian universities are regarded as, and have in fact been, autonomous institutions which, while helped by governments, are very largely self-determining. This autonomy does not apply, and is not likely to apply in the future, to primary, secondary or technical education.
When I was Acting Prime Minister recently, I forwarded to the Premiers of the States a statement of the reasons why the Commonwealth would not participate in an inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary and technical education in Australia. The Government’s decision on this issue stands. The reasons outlined are valid, and I understand that copies of the statement have been made available to honorable members.
– No, they have not.
– Well, if they have not, they will be.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am rather astonished at the alacrity with which the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) resumed his seat. The subject of education is one of the most vital questions that can face a nation. We on this side of the committee deny that we wandered from the subject. The Minister implied that the wider fields of education were not necessarily the province of the Commonwealth Office of Education. The charter of the office was specifically laid down in the Education Act 1945, which was passed during the regime of the Chifley Government. Section 5 (2.) of that act states -
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;
to provide statistics and information relating to education required by any Commonwealth authority; and
to advise the Minister concerning the grant of financial assistance to the States and to other authorities for educational purposes . . .
We say that discussion of grants to the States for education, and discussion of the whole field of education in the State sphere, are particularly relevant to a discussion about the activities of the Office of Education.
None of us on this side of the chamber has any complaint about the personnel or the management of the Commonwealth Office of Education, or about its general approach to the things that are referred to it. Responsibility for any failure to do what is necessary in the field of education lies at the door of this Government, because it is the responsibility of the ministerial head of the Office of Education - in this instance, none other than the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - to see that the office carries out the functions which I have just stated. The statement of those functions, I may say, concludes with these words - and shall include such other functions in relation to education as are assigned to it by the Minister.
Therefore, the responsibility rests with the Minister, and it is the Minister - in this instance, the Prime Minister - who is under attack. We on this side of the committee do not believe that the discussion of educational requirements fundamental to the development of the nation is irrelevant in a debate of this kind.
Our approach to this matter is that the Government has treated the Commonwealth Office of Education as an administrative body only. The office is a highly specialized organization which ought to be used to deal with education. The administration of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme is not a highly specialized educational function. In fact, the scheme seems to have hardening of the arteries. The figures produced to indicate the number of people in the higher brackets of secondary education, the number of applicants for scholarships, and the number of scholarships granted, show that there has not been a proportionate increase in the number of scholarships over the last six or seven years. This fact is fundamental to the issue. It is not terribly difficult to administer such a scheme. Therefore, we say that, in this field, the Government is treating the Office of Education as an administrative institution which is intended, perhaps, to take on more exotic and incidental functions such as the training of migrants in the English language.
I must admit that the constitutional point made by the Minister for Trade had at least a feature of novelty - the suggestion that because universities are, on the whole, semiindependent corporations they are beyond the scope of constitutional restrictions and therefore the Commonwealth can do something about them. We on this side of the chamber deny that that is relevant. If the Commonwealth can do something for the universities, it can do something for the other sections of education.
Let us examine for a moment the position of the Commonwealth Government in relation to the State governments. Every State government pays pay-roll tax on the salaries that it pays to its teachers. These are the amounts paid last financial year: Victoria, £516,864; New South Wales, £730,000; Tasmania, £81,130; Queensland, £243,402; South Australia, £175,861; and Western Australia, £157,270. A grand total of £1,904,527 is paid by the State governments in taxation simply because they happen to be in the business of education. This represents, at current building costs, the amount required to build twenty brand new high schools in Victoria. This amount of nearly £2,000,000 is paid by the State governments to this Government as taxation. That is a very serious reflection upon the financial policies of this Government. It is a shocking and amazing state of affairs If the Commonwealth wants to make an immediate grant, it merely has to vacate the field of taxation as regards State instrumentalities.
But there is another interesting financial fantasy. Take the matter of loan funds. In the last year Victoria spent £7,000,000 of its loan funds on the building of schools; New South Wales, £9,000,000; Tasmania, £1,157,000; Queensland, £2,000,000; South Australia, £3,000,000; and Western Australia, £1,700,000. That is a total expenditure, from loan funds, of £25,416,323 for the building of schools. Every penny of this will carry interest. Every penny of it will, in the long run, carry a burden of interest which will prevent the State governments from building other schools in the future.
During the Budget debate the matter of interest and its stranglehold on the States was stressed by speakers on this side of the chamber. Let me remind honorable members that of this amount of £25,000,000 spent by the States from loan funds for the purpose of building schools, probably a quarter came from Commonwealth revenue, yet when allotted to the States it attracts £200,000 or £300,000 a year in interest. Because of this financial juggling that goes on, the Commonwealth will be paid in this way money that the States could use to build another couple of high schools. By a simple amendment of its financial policies, the Commonwealth could relieve the States of a very great financial burden.
There is also, of course, the question of priorities to be considered. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said that the States had considerable resources. The total of grants to. the States to carry on their business is some £8,000.000 or £9,000,000 less than the total expenditure by the Commonwealth upon War and Repatriation Services, the figures being of the order of £320,000,000 as against £329,000,000. The States have reached the end of their resources.
– This has been apparent for some time. The honorable member for Hume may say “ nonsense “, but he cannot deny the fact that if one compares the resources available to the States through taxation with the amount they are spending on education, it is obvious that there is no room for manoeuvre.
Let no honorable member deny that the need is urgent. I have just come across an interesting item in the “ High Schools
Branch Bulletin “ of the Victorian Teachers Union on difficulties associated with overcrowding. The article is headed “ Problems of Shared Schools “, and it reads -
While these problems are often not as acute as schools using halls, they nevertheless present many obstacles to the smooth functioning ofa school, e.g.:
Overcrowding - an old primary school is shared by primary, technical and high schools at Shepparton–
I understand that Shepparton is in the electorate of the Minister for Trade - with inadequate playing areas, shelter sheds, washing and eating facilities.
Any member of the Parliament or any Australian has only to go for a short drive in order to find some State school suffering from inadequacy of equipment and paucity of funds. Consider the position in Victoria. As at the opening of the school year in 1959, new technical schools which are officially recognized as being in temporary accommodation included Altona North, Aspendale, Blackburn, Essendon West and Morwell. There are other technical schools using temporary accommodation because of the failure of the building programme to keep pace with expansion, such as those at Tottenham, Noble Park and Watsonia. These schools cater for a grand total of about 2,000 children, and that is in Victoria only.
There is no need to establish a basis of urgency. It is apparent to anybody who cares to look. It might not be a bad idea if, during this week when the schools of Canberra are closed to the children, those schools were opened to visitors to this city. I had a visitor yesterday - the headmaster of one of Victoria’s biggest schools. He had a look at school standards in Canberra and compared them with those in his State. He pointed out that at the North Ainslie school, with an attendance of 600 children, there are five cleaners, a dental clinic and a medical centre. I think the dentist turns up three days a week. In Melbourne, at the school controlled by my visitor, catering for 1,100 children, there is one cleaner and no such things as dental or medical clinics. The Commonwealth has been able to establish educational standards in its own field which cannot possibly prevail in the States, because the financial allocations by the Commonwealth are not sufficient to allow the States to attain anything like those standards.
– And the standard here is no higher than it ought to be.
– That is so. The standard, generally speaking, should be raised all over the country.
There is another matter that has a bearing on this problem; that is the matter of immigration. Since 1951 a total of 249,031 children under the age of fifteen years have been brought to Australia by the Department of Immigration. Every one of those has had to be found some accommodation in the State school systems. At the present cost of £70 or £80 per annum per head for school education, this must represent a burden of nearly £2,000,000 that has been placed upon the education systems of the States by the Commonwealth Government.
There are many other aspects of the problem which ought to encourage a Government interested in the desires for investment that lie dormant within the minds of people to take up the cause of education in the Commonwealth sphere. If Australia Unlimited has one unlimited resource, it is in the minds of its people. Therefore, as a pure investment proposition, and speaking to people who are politically addicted to materialism, I say that here is a very suitable field. In the last twelve months we have chosen to invest £39,000,000 in the Post Office. In the same period we spent £25,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains scheme. In that time, however, we spent only £29,000.000 for investment in capital works for education. Even the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) himself would not say that telephone boxes, telephone cables, auto- matic telephone exchanges and all the other things associated with his department’s expenditure, or even the subsidization of airlines that is involved in current airmail procedure, are more important than education. It is unreasonable that in the long line of priorities, for which ultimately this Commonwealth Parliament is responsible, education should lie so low on the list.
During this year we have spent £29,000,000 on capital works for education. At the same time, we have raised a loan of 29,000,000 dollars overseas to buy seven Boeing aircraft. It is time we got our priorities straight. Every Boeing 707 is worth 25 high schools. Every Lockheed Hercules is worth fourteen or fifteen high schools. The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who is now at the table, can buy these aircraft by the dozen, bm what Minister in any one of the States could afford to pay for 140 or 150 high schools?
This is a question that the Parliament has to face. I know that there are other honorable members on this side of the House who will take up various other aspects of the question. Some will speak of other fields, such as that of television. I have not the time to develop fully the subject of television for educational purposes. We have heard the PostmasterGeneral take up this issue and say that there are no channels available in Australia for educational television. In America there are 43 television stations exclusively for educational purposes. I have before me the report of hearings before a sub-committee of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce ot the American House of Representatives. It appears that there are dozens more channels in America being made available and being developed. All over the world television is being developed for the purposes of education, but not here. We would have a big struggle to get even the channels made available to us.
Many opportunities are open to the Commonwealth Government to develop educational facilities without it trespassing upon State fields. Television is one; printing and distribution of books and library services is another; and the placing of teacher training on the same level as university education is a third. Can any one deny that teaching should be given the same status as other professions that require university training? The Prime Minister and his deputy, the Minister for Trade, touchy as they are about constitutional restrictions, and despite the protective spirit that they show for the federal institution, have a ready opportunity within their policies to do something about education, without in any way trespassing upon the dear old Constitution.
.- One would almost think, Mr. Chairman, that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was making a claim for the post of Minister for Education in a future Labour government.
– He would certainly make a good one.
– It is good to hear Opposition members admit that the comments of the honorable member for Wills outline what they have in mind on education. Judging by the efforts they are making now, it is clear that if Labour comes into office education will be completely controlled by the Commonwealth. That is the obvious end result of the policy that the Opposition advocates. It seems to me to be absolutely irrelevant for the honorable member for Wills to criticize priorities, as he did this afternoon, when the matters to which he referred are both Commonwealth and State responsibilities. Honorable members opposite cannot get away from that fact, no matter how hard they try. They may criticize, if they wish, the priorities allotted by this Government in relation to matters which are a federal responsibility under the Constitution; but they should not take matters which are a State responsibility, lump them together with matters which are a Commonwealth responsibility, and criticize the priorities on that score.
In a moment, I shall make a plea for the Commonwealth to investigate the possibility of assisting in a sphere of education which it does not touch at present. However, first, I should like to make the point that the constant insistence of the Opposition that the Commonwealth enter the field of primary and secondary education is doing a very great disservice to the federal system. Opposition members do not worry about that because they are committed to a policy which envisages the destruction of the federal system, and this is part of the process. If education is taken into the maw, by far the most important sphere of responsibility left to the States is taken from them. That will be one more step along the road to unification. I do not think that honorable members opposite are really interested in education; they are interested in unification of the whole of the Commonwealth. But I cannot understand the attitude of one or two of the State governments. They ask for the very same thing as Opposition members in this Parliament seek. Even in my own State of South Australia, the Minister for Education recently made a statement which could be interpreted as meaning that he believes that the Commonwealth Government should enter the sphere of primary and secondary education. And that is in a State which probably places greater value on State rights than does any other State!
– According to the statistics, it has the lowest standard of education.
– That is not true, on the figures. But the point I make is that apparently not even South Australia is fully cognizant of the fact that once the Commonwealth comes into this field, which is the most important and vital field still left to the States, we have cut the throat of the States in the federal system for all time.
In speaking to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, I suggest that the Commonwealth investigate the possibility of assisting in the training of technologists and technicians, apart from those technologists and technicians who are trained in universities. In making this suggestion, I should like to explain what I mean. Obviously, I am not talking about technical schools which are incorporated in the secondary education systems of the States. I refer to the technical colleges at diploma and certificate levels which produce the bulk of the technicians and probably more than half of the technologists who are ultimately employed in industry. The training of these technologists and technicians can truly be described as tertiary, in the sense that the people who undertake it do so after they have left school. It is the tertiary nature of technical college education which, I believe, entitles it to special consideration by the Commonwealth Government.
There can be no doubt of the vital need for this type of education, nor can there be any doubt that the existing and projected resources for it are entirely inadequate. I shall quote a statement made by Mr. O, E. Nilsson, Chief Inspector of Tech nical Schools, in Victoria. When he returned from overseas, he said -
It is realized in countries overseas, perhaps as never before with such emphasis, that material progress and the maintenance of a high standard of living depend in the main on the training of men’s minds; that training at all levels of technical skill is now much more important to the national economy than even investment in modern plant and equipment.
I emphasize that he said that this training is “ more important to the national economy than even investment in modern plant and equipment. “ Technical education is recognized abroad as of great national importance and as vital to industrial progress. The sort of technical education that I am talking about is subsidized by the Federal Government in the United States of America and the United Kingdom Government is spending £100,000,000 a year on it. The problems arising here are twofold. The first relates to the training of technologists. This, of course, has been very considerably assisted by this Government in the extra grants it has made to the States following the recommendations of the Murray committee. But the point I want to make is that a large proportion of these technologists - perhaps even more than half of them - are trained in the technical colleges outside the universities. It is neither necessary nor desirable to have more graduate technologists than we will get when the present expansion scheme in the universities has been implemented. It is not considered desirable by industries and, personally, I do not think that it is desirable that the universities should concentrate too much of their resources on teaching and training these people and not enough on research and .other activities which are some of their vital functions. The demand for these extra technologists, where required, must therefore be filled from the technical colleges of which I speak.
The second part of this problem relates to technicians. They are trained in the same institutions. A recent survey in the United States of America estimated that, on the average, for each technologist at least five technicians were required to work as what might be described as aids in the capacities of analysts, computers, designers, draughtsmen, estimators, foremen, inspectors, laboratory technicians and so on. The position in Australia is graphically illustrated in a statement by Professor Francis, chairman-elect of the Melbourne Division of the Institute of Engineers. He said -
Industry needs anything from three to ten times as many technicians as it does engineers, yet I doubt if we are training as many technicians as we are engineers.
In both these cases it is clear that the implementation of the Murray committee’s recommendations concerning technologists and technicians has left a lopsided situation which, I believe, it is vitally important to correct. This was well illustrated by Mr. Denning, who, until recently was Director of Technical Education in New South Wales. In his evidence before the Murray committee he said -
Not nearly enough attention is being given to improving the quality of our manpower resources below the professional level and it would be nationally inefficient and uneconomical to expand professional training programmes both within and without the universities while at the same time failing to expand our resources for training skilled and technical manpower.
I urge the Government to treat this problem as different from the general one of primary and secondary education on the following grounds: Firstly, it is of very great national importance. It is vital to our national development. Secondly, obvious and glaring deficiencies exist in this field at the present moment. Thirdly, in view of the assistance which the Commonwealth provides to other types of tertiary education, it could, with perfect consistency, assist in this field, because of its tertiary nature. Finally, I point to the connexion with the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. The Commonwealth Government has stated that one of the reasons it is assisting the universities is their historical association with the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. That scheme had just as much effect, if not more, on these institutions as it did on the universities.
In the brief time left to me I wish to turn from the field of education and say a few words about another important matter - the National Library. This item comes within the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. I do not think it is necessary for me to persuade any honorable member of the importance of establishing in Canberra, with the greatest possible speed, an appropriate building for the National Library. This has been stressed again and again in this chamber and I urge the Government to accede to this request as early as possible. I urge it on the ground that under present conditions the library provides inadequate services. I pay tribute to the staff of the National Library for the services they give under very difficult conditions.
I urge it also because of the bad working conditions for the staff in the various establishments of the library in Canberra. I urge it because of the hopelessly inadequate, inappropriate and unsafe accommodation for books provided under the present arrangements. The National Library contains some of the most valuable collections of Australiana and Australian material in the world, as well as some of the most valuable collections in other fields. Many completely irreplaceable treasures are housed in such conditions that if a fire were to occur they would be destroyed.
Lastly, I urge it on a ground which may not be so obvious as the others I have mentioned. Until this library is provided in Canberra this Parliament will not have available to it the library which it needs and deserves and must have if it is to function as it should. The failure of the library to provide what may be described as an adequate reference service can be attributed to these conditions which I have mentioned.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to address myself also to the item of the Commonwealth Office of Education. Fortunately it will not be left to the government of the day to decide whether the assistance asked for will be given. The people of this nation will ultimately make that kind of decision. As a former teacher in the education service of New South Wales and as a parent observing the work going on among parents and citizens’ associations in our community, I am of the opinion that the people will demand, on the part of their children and because of the effect on the destiny of this country, that this Government shall give the recommended assistance needed for education.
I am grateful that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), went so far as to acknowledge that technical education at least might be conceived as a federal responsibility. I could not quite follow his logic, however. In one breath he said that any taking away of powers from the States would lead to centralism and a breaking down of the Constitution, but in the next breath he recommended that the Government should take over a very substantial part of the educational responsibilities of the State. In this latter matter I wholeheartedly agree with him. But it is a little hard to follow the logic of people who acknowledge that university education, and now technical education demand federal aid, but not primary or secondary education. One would think that these were two unrelated matters, worlds apart, whereas anybody - any parent or thoughtful citizen - must recognize that the great wastage that is occurring in secondary education, and technical education, is due to the lack of adequate finance to provide schools, facilities and teachers to provide this training. Education at all these levels is interrelated. Why do we make the pretence that they are different? Why do we call one section “ tertiary “ and on that account say that it is eligible, under the Constitution for assistance, but divorce the other sections because they cannot be so tagged? It is an illogical approach.
The point has been well made that any expenditure on education is a sound investment in this country, economically, socially, and militarily. But the Government’s attitude to giving federal assistance to education is in line with its attitude to child endowment. It is nine years since any increase has been made in child endowment to help the parents of this “country. The Government’s attitude on this matter is in line with its performance in its own acknowledged responsibility for Commonwealth scholarships. Originally, the Commonwealth Government awarded 3,000 scholarships, but between 1950 and 1955 there was a 50 per cent, increase in the number of persons qualifying for the scholarship, and from 1955 to 1958 the percentage increased still further. However, the number of scholarships has remained static at 3,000.
To emphasize the importance of education, I can do no better than to quote a statement made by the Chancellor of
Oxford University who was chairman of the Commonwealth Education Conference which was held at Oxford on 15th July, 1959. He said-
The idea of holding this conference and the themes to which it would devote itself flow from decisions taken at Montreal last year, when Ministers from all over the Commonwealth met to discuss their common economic problems.
Presumably Australia was represented at the Montreal conference. The statement continues -
They decided to lay particular stress among their conclusions on their belief in the fundamental importance of education as an indispensible condition of employment.
There was no suggestion that education was some other person’s responsibility. The Chancellor went on to say -
In these stirring days, education is not merely exciting. It is one of the great challenges of our age. It was H. G. Wells who said: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
That statement indicates the importance that has been placed on education. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) last night pointed out the practical approach that the United Kingdom Government is making to education. He referred to the White Paper that had been presented to the British Parliament which suggested, first, a lengthening of the period of teacher training from two years to three, with a considerable increase in the number of teachers to be trained; secondly, a continuous five-year building programme for schools to cost £300,000,000 sterling, and thirdly, a substantial increase in annual expenditure on education.
In my maiden speech in this Parliament I referred to the observations of a United States observer in Russia on the tremendous importance that the Soviet is placing on education in the realization that education is so closely and dynamically interwoven with national development and national defence. But Australia lags behind other countries. Reference to the 1957 International Year Book of Education which was published by the International Bureau of Education, an agency of Unesco, reveals the amount expended on education in the various countries of the world. In the first place, I acknowledge that the figures given cannot be taken absolutely on their face value because, after all, money values are different in different countries. Further the definition of public education might not be the same in different countries. Nevertheless, with those qualifications, there is a good deal of significance in the fact that Australia, on the common basis of expenditure in terms of United States dollars, spends 22.4 dollars per person per year on education, which places us eighteenth on the list of countries which expend moneys on the education of their citizens. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics spends 201 dollars a year, although it must be admitted that that figure includes expenditure on all kinds of cultural and social works. The United States of America spends 56 dollars; Poland 90; East Germany 81; Iceland 42; Canada 41; New Zealand 37; Argentina 36; Belgium 33; France 32; Denmark 30; Norway 29.6; Israel 28; Sweden 28; Switzerland 28; West Germany 27.6; the United Kingdom 26.6; and Australia 22.4.
It has been stated that the States should make a greater effort and use their resources to better advantage than they do. Taking New South Wales as an example, in 1958-59 that State spent on education £42,000,000 or 53.6 per cent, of its total tax reimbursements from the Commonwealth which amounted to £76,000,000. In other words, New South Wales spent more than half of its allocation on education. When one thinks of all the other responsibilities confronting State governments, how can one expect them to spend more than they do? During that same year New South Wales spent on education £10,000,000 or 18 per cent, of its total loan allocation of £55,000,000.
It is interesting to note that all money expended by the Commonwealth Government on education in the Australian Capital Territory comes out of revenue. The Commonwealth does not have to pay for loans. It is interesting to note also that the Commonwealth Government spends more consolidated revenue money on education in the Territory than is spent by the respective State governments in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland. Only New South Wales and Victoria are able to spend a greater amount of taxation revenue on education than is spent in the Australian Capital Territory.
I have referred previously to the seriousness of the situation. In this day and age when there is such a demand for educated citizens and for trained technicians, technologists, scientists, humanists and the rest, only 8 per cent, of the children who commence in secondary schools succeed in obtaining the Leaving Certificate. In other words, only eight out of 100 children obtain that certificate. What a tremendous wastage of talent and potential trained personnel! We worry about soil erosion and the wastage of other resources; we worry about rabbit plagues and we carry on research into ways and means of exterminating rabbits, but when wastage of human talent, which is worth immeasurably more than is saved by attending to the other matters to which I have referred, comes into the picture, the Commonwealth Government resists the pleas of teachers, parents and citizens generally for assistance. The question of barriers raised by the Constitution and State sovereignty does not arise. The States themselves are asking the Commonwealth, first, to help conduct a nation-wide survey of education requirements in Australia, and secondly, to make a specific additional amount of money available for education. There is no question of intrusion into sovereign powers. The States are not asking the Commonwealth to administer their education facilities. They are prepared to accept that responsibility themselves and to accept the decision of a commission which should be appointed to inquire into and ascertain the legitimate needs of education in this country. The Commonwealth could do certain things even within the limits of its accepted responsibility. It could increase considerably, or even double, the number of Commonwealth scholarships that it awards, and it could increase the living allowances paid to the holders of Commonwealth scholarships. Many students who succeed in obtaining scholarships are obliged to spend their vacation periods in some kind of a job to supplement their living allowance. I think that we have passed the time when the idea was held that students should work their way through college or university.
– What is wrong with making the students a little independent?
– That doctrine has been preached in the past in the United States, but not even in that country-
– How did the honorable member obtain his education?
– I obtained my education in that way, as did most of my contemporaries.
– So did I, but I cannot help thinking that a committee of inquiry in the United States thought it was much better for the student to be a full time student and use his vacation period to prepare himself for the lectures at the university.
There is no reason why a tutorship system could not be established under which guidance in study and preparation for lectures could be given during some part of the long vacation period. There are many people who think that the university year could be used much more advantageously, fully and efficiently than by people going out to work in factories or other places in order to supplement their living allowances. I think that if the Commonwealth is not prepared to go the whole distance it should single out teacher training for specific assistance. If the Commonwealth would undertake the responsibility of training teachers for primary, secondary and technical education it would be a substantial help.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I find myself in sympathy with the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). On this occasion, I find myself in sympathy, also, to some extent, with the remarks of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). I feel that the Commonwealth should be taking some further interest in the deficiencies of our education system which is largely administered by the States.
I appreciate the thoughts and the legal points enunciated in the statement which was made earlier to-day by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). I appreciate, also, the force of the argument that the States, or at least some of them, because of their mismanagement in other fields, do not have sufficient funds available for education even though their grants, in themselves, may be satisfactory.
These are all points; but I do not think that they are sufficient answer to the argument which has been put and, I think, substantiated, that the Australian educational system leaves much to be desired. There was a time when it was one of the leading systems in the world. It is not that we have gone back but rather that the world has gone forward and we have not kept pace with it. This is a matter of national urgency and national importance. It is something which cannot be quickly retrieved. People are only young once and the generation which is being educated now will live for many decades. This generation will shape the efficiency, the quality, and the moral and material progress of Australian life for a long time to come. A mistake made now cannot be quickly retrieved.
It is not, I think, entirely a question of money although the monetary factor, no doubt enters into it. I do not want to suggest that the monetary factor is not important; I only suggest that it is not the only important factor. So far as education is concerned, there is something rotten in the State of New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland - let honorable members substitute for “ Denmark “ whichever State they think fits the bill.
We feel that we are not fitting people as well as we might to take their place as leaders in what we hope will be one of the leading nations in the world, as it has been, not in size, but in achievement, over past years. Australia has little to be ashamed of in its past, but we have to think of the future and hope that we will be able to show the same degree of leadership, considering our size, as we have been able to contribute to the world in the past. Therefore, I feel that this matter might receive other and more sympathetic consideration than it has yet received.
Not only the financial aspect, but the overall picture, should be investigated. The direction of education and its impact on the mind of the young, which have been mentioned in such documents as the Wyndham report should receive great consideration on an Australia-wide basis. That cannot be done unless the States which have the primary responsibility in this matter take the initiative.
I understand that, in some degree, that initiative has been taken, but not to the full, and not yet satisfactorily. The first move is up to the States. They should put something forward, unanimously and in concert - not just one State by itself. The States, which have the responsibility in this field, should come together and say to the Commonwealth, “ We want to have this problem looked at. We will set up our committee to do it. Will you accept the impartial chairmanship of that committee ?” The Commonwealth is not the whole party, but it should come to the party. From such a committee might flow some recommendations which would be of a financial nature and others which would not be of a financial nature.
I do not feel that the recommendations should trench upon the authority of the States in this field. I would not like to see a Commonwealth invasion of that field take place. But I still feel that if the States do this unanimously - if they come together and say to the Commonwealth, “ You take the chairmanship of this conference “, we should accept that proposal and consent to participate in the plan. That, to some extent at least, is in concert with what has been said on both sides of the chamber this afternoon on that topic.
I want to turn to one other matter which is not unrelated to education, but which is fully within the competence of the Commonwealth Parliament. I refer to the National Library. I have had the honour of being on the Library Committee for the last nine or ten years. I am very sensible of the honour that the Parliament has done me by putting me on that committee. It has not been altogether an effective committee for reasons which are not attributable to the committee itself. We have been working, almost for the whole of that time, under the shadow of impending change which we could not determine ourselves. At the same time, we have been working with very inadequate buildings and very inadequate facilities. The intended change is a matter that has not yet been happily resolved. There was the proposal to set up the Latham committee which was to examine the whole position of the Library. That proposal was’ deferred for so long that Sir John Latham found it impossible to continue in his position as chairman of a non-operative committee and he had to vacate it. Then the Paton report was received and it is now in process of implementation. The mechanism of it is not entirely within the competence of the Library Committee. So the committee has been operating under great difficulties which were not of its making.
The main impediment has been mentioned by the honorable member for Barker and I believe that honorable members should give a great measure of attention to it. The National Library of Australia - I use that term because, as honorable members know, the National Library is to be separated from the Parliamentary Library - is the worst library in the world, in respect to accommodation, considering its importance. So far as I know, there is nothing comparable in the world to this situation where a magnificent collection is housed in inadequate quarters scattered all over the place. Not only are the books inaccessible but, in addition, the treasures of the library are liable to accident. In some cases, they are not being adequately protected against fire or a similar catastrophe.
The National Library should be one of the great institutions of Canberra. I have heard that the building of the new National Library ranks high in the plans for the next stage of the development of Canberra. I hope this is so because of all the things that are to be done in Canberra, this seems to me the most important and, from the point of view of Australia’s prestige, the most rewarding. I hope, indeed, that the necessary funds will be made available in the near future to allow this project to proceed and to permit Australia, in a sense, to hold up its head again because it is a matter almost of shame to us that the National Library is housed in this inadequate manner.
Honorable members will recall that as long ago as 1927 or thereabouts, when the national capital was being moved from Melbourne, one of the first buildings to be erected was the National Library building. It was erected for the purpose and allocated to the National Library. Unfortunately, it was not occupied by the library. The library was ousted, I believe, by the Treasury and the building is now known as
West Block. That building was constructed by those who arranged the first transfer from Melbourne to Canberra because they realized that the library was one of the most important buildings to go into the national capital.
As I have said, the library was ousted. The Treasury took over and although almost 33 years have gone by, the position of the National Library daily becomes more acute as our collections grow, not only in numbers of volumes but also in the value of the volumes because we do have treasures flowing into our library. With the use that is being made of it, the library is becoming increasingly a centre of Australian scholarship. That is one of the proper functions for this library in the national capital to perform. I think the decision to separate the Parliamentary Library from the National Library, which was made by the investigating committee, is a good and wise decision. I hope that its implementation will not be unduly delayed.
.- I am pleased on this occasion to follow the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in the debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, because I agree entirely with most of his remarks. As a matter of fact, I was appalled by the attitude of supporters of the Government on the vital issue of education. Honorable members on the Government side seem to have no fresh thoughts at all on the great responsibilities that face Australia in respect of education. All will agree with the thoughtful speech that has been made by the honorable member for Mackellar. It was pleasing to hear at last some refreshing thoughts from the Government side of the chamber.
I wish to support the appeal of the Teachers Federation of Australia and the Parents and Citizens Association of Australia for a nation-wide inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) referred to this matter during the last general election campaign. It was debated during the consideration of the Estimates last year, and the Opposition is again supporting the proposal. Over the years, no State Treasurer, whether
Labour or Liberal, has been able to make adequate financial provision for education because sufficient funds were not available. There cannot be any argument about that. We know that certain funds are made available by the Commonwealth Government to the State governments, and a proportion of these moneys is allocated to education, but if that proportion is very substantial, other State services suffer.
I do not want to be parochial about this matter, but if one examines the records of the Commonwealth Office of Education, it will be seen that South Australia and Queensland are relatively backward in education matters. The situation in Queensland is well known. Hospitalization is free there and that service is a great drain on the resources of the State. Consequently, education in Queensland suffers to a great extent. The Opposition believes there is only one answer to this general problem. There must be a wide inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. Primary education is at the root of all education. That is where we must start, and we must build up from there.
Recently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) instituted an inquiry into the universities of Australia. The report of the Murray committee, which resulted from that inquiry, was helpful to education generally. We know that the Government accepted only portion of the Murray committee’s report. It made £20,000,000 available for the construction of universities and for teaching staff, but that £20,000,000, the expenditure of which is to be spread over three years, merely subsidizes further a particular section of the community from which are drawn those who are able to attend a university. The recommendations of the Murray committee for an increase of scholarships merely resulted in an increase of 100 in the number of postgraduate students. This year, £2,000,000 is to be made available, and that represents only a small increase on the appropriation last year. In its report, the Murray committee stated, at page 27, under the heading, “ The State of Public Opinion “ -
It continues -
It has frequently been said in recent years that what makes the strength of a nation to-day is its professional and scientific man-power. It might be thought this is almost more true of Australia than of other countries; but if this ls so it does not seem to the Committee that Australian opinion is yet alive to it.
Well, at least the parents and citizens of this country, and the Teachers Federation, in common with the Labour Party in this Parliament, have been waging this fight. I feel that it is our duty to raise public opinion on the matter, and to disclose the great need for more education in this nation. If we are to develop Australia we must have a higher standard of education, we must have people educated to the highest possible level.
Let us examine the position regarding money made available to the States by the Commonwealth for education during the present Government’s term of office. The Deputy Prime Minister asked to-day, in relation to the matter of improving education, “Where are we going to get the money? “ I have here a few figures regarding the amounts made available for education and other purposes by this Government since 1950. No less an amount than £1,729,000,000 has been made available for defence since 1950, and we have nothing at all to show for it. In the same period £638,000,000 has been provided for education, which covers grants to the States, cost of construction of schools and cost of scholarships. This is one position that the Government could well examine.
The Government apparently finds no difficulty in providing such a huge sum for defence, so let us bear in mind what the Murray committee’s report had to say about the lack of scientific knowledge in this great nation. Unless we train people we cannot develop Australia as we all should like it developed. There have been arguments about constitutional barriers.
The prepared statement which the Deputy Prime Minister read to-day shows that the Prime Minister has receded somewhat from the argument he gave us last year about constitutional barriers. I do not think that there is any basis for the argument that there are constitutional barriers against more Commonwealth activity in the field of education. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) pointed out that there is no constitutional barrier.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission was created under the power conferred on this Parliament by section 96 of the Constitution. Under section 51, which was amended by the Chifley Government in 1946, further grants may be made for students within this country. We say that students should be given scholarships in their third, fourth and fifth years to encourage them to go on to higher education. The Government should accept the recommendations of the Murray committee. I have not time to read to honorable members what the committee had to say on the subject of scholarships, but I ask honorable members to read it for themselves. The need for more scholarships is urgent, and the time is short.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said that mistakes made now cannot be quickly retrieved. I agree. Those are wise words. The need is urgent, the time is short, and we must go forward. Money should not be a barrier to our progress. Last year the actual deficit on the administration of the Commonwealth was £297,000,000, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) pointed out in the Budget debate. The present Budget again shows the actual deficit at £297,000,000. What has happened is that the Government has given its friends a handout of £20,000,000 when there is so much that can be done for education in this country if the necessary money is provided. Money should not be any barrier, because education is a number one priority project in Australia. We must develop education, not only for the sake of the youth of Australia, but for the sake of the nation itself.
To prove my point about scholarships for students in the third, fourth and fifth year at school so as to encourage them to go on to higher education, I shall give the committee a few figures that I have obtained from the Commonwealth Office of Education. These figures are for 1953, which are the most up-to-date figures available, and they show the following percentages, in the various States, of the pupils who entered secondary school who continue to the fifth year. They are: - New South Wales, 12.1 per cent.; Victoria, 16.6 per cent.; Western Australia, 9.4 per cent.; Queensland, 7.9. per cent.; Tasmania, 6.9 per cent.; and South Australia - the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) should listen to this one - 5.3 per cent.
The figures provided by the Commonwealth’s own education authority are quite conclusive. They mean, and they prove, that we should have a complete overhaul of the education system in relation to primary, technical and secondary education. I believe that a great part of the education problem can be solved right here in this chamber. We do not want any buckpassing. We can solve the problem here if we give the leadership within this chamber by providing to the States the money necessary for them to develop their education systems. If we do that, this nation must prosper.
– I shall not delay the committee for long, but I wish to raise a matter which comes within the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department. My remarks shall be directed to the subject of education, the subject with which most honorable members on both sides who have spoken on this division of the Estimates have dealt. The speeches on both sides of the committee make it quite clear that most members agree that education is of more importance to the community to-day than it was, in view of the great strides that the world has made in recent years, particularly in the field of science.
I want to deal with one particular aspect of science, an aspect about which I spoke recently in this chamber. I refer to agricultural science. Graduates in agricultural science are on the lowest rung of the science ladder. To-day we find that every State, and even the Commonwealth, is crying out for agricultural scientists to carry on the work that is necessary for the ultimate provision of essential services to the community. We ought to ask ourselves why we cannot do more to raise the status and salaries of agricultural scientists. I appreciate that the Commonwealth Government grants scholarships for agricultural science courses at the universities. But that is not the end of the matter. When these people have been trained they do not carry on their jobs.
– They are not paid enough.
– That is true. Very often they cannot earn as much as a plumber can. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, bearing in mind the amount of study undertaken by these people, and I ask the Government to do what it can in the matter. I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that the Government cannot do everything in this regard, but it may be able to do something in co-operation with the States.
The greatest percentage of this country’s export earnings comes from the rural industries. The daily cry is for increased production in order to reduce costs. I am not so much concerned with the older people who are already established on the land as I am with the younger settlers. They are willing to go on the land and use new techniques, but they sadly lack know-how and sufficient finance to do the job. People with the basic scientific knowledge are not available to teach the new techniques to the men on the land. I appeal to the Government to take the lead in this matter and do something about it. It is an urgent matter and if something is done along the lines I have suggested the country will benefit from the dissemination of scientific knowledge. I repeat that until the remuneration is adequate, there will be a dearth of officers of this kind and the few who are trained will not be encouraged to give of their best.
– Mr. Chairman, it is quite apparent that the Government realizes that it is extremely vulnerable on this issue of education. It is significant that the debate on the Estimates has been so manipulated as to ensure that the Opposition will not have an opportunity to ventilate this very important matter over the national broadcasting network. There can be no doubt that the Government is on the defensive. It is quite apparent that the Government is having difficulty in keeping up an array of speakers to match those on this side of the House who wish to impress on the Government the need for a realistic approach to education.
The committee is discussing the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The Opposition is tending to concentrate more than is usual on this issue of education because it considers it to be of such importance. I, too, want to direct my remarks to that issue. Having regard to the fact that the States are responsible, generally speaking, for education, and also the further fact that the States depend substantially on the Commonwealth for revenue, it is apparent - or, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) would say, abundantly apparent - that facing up to this issue might involve the Commonwealth in additional financial allocations. I think we must be sensible, fair and realistic about this matter and realize that if more money is necessary for education it will involve some additional expenditure by this Government, and one or two methods must be adopted to make that money available. The money must either go to the States as proceeds from uniform taxation or loan money or, alternatively, special grants will have to made under section 96 of the Constitution. There can be no doubt where the Opposition stands on this matter. It has made its point of view extremely clear in this debate, in debates on universities, and in last year’s debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. But the Opposition also made its point of view clear in the period preceding the last general election. Delivering the Australian Labour Party’s policy speech, in the Assembly Hall, Sydney, on 15th October last year, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) said -
The Australian education systems face difficulties resulting from increased population, the migration scheme and an increased social demand for secondary education.
The children entering the secondary schools in 1959 will be the age group born in 1947 when our birth rate was the highest on record. The teachers entering the profession are drawn from the age group born in the late thirties when our birth rate was at its lowest point.
Therefore, a threefold crisis exists, shortage of teachers, a tidal wave of students and insatiable demands for school accommodation beyond the resources of the States.
The migration scheme alone has brought 250,035 children under 14 to Australia in the years 1950 to 1957.
We are equally determined that the children shall receive full educational facilities and opportunities. The Labour government intends to make an immediate and urgent examination of primary, secondary and technical education. The Murray Report shows clearly that there will never be full and adequate university education unless primary, secondary and technical education are also advanced.
The Labour government will appoint a full representative committee similar to the Murray Committee to examine and report on the needs of primary, secondary and technical education.
So it is clear where the Opposition stands on this matter and it was clear before this debate originated. In Australia, as the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has pointed out, we are not doing very well with respect to our education expenditure. When we compare our position with that of other countries we can see that there is a great need for improvement. It is true that figures are often deceiving, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has pointed out, and that they cannot be considered completely conclusive because there are some hidden factors in almost any set of figures, but a schedule is available which indicates the proportion of national income expended on education. As the honorable member for Barton has referred to that schedule, I will not read the entire list. However, the schedule shows that Australia is dragging the chain to a considerable extent. The percentage of the national income spent on education in Australia is much lower than in other parts of the world and I understand that by world standards Australia ranks about eighteenth. The Murray report has directed our attention to a great variety of educational deficiencies. I think it is fair to say that the Murray committee had no obligation to direct attention to the position prevailing in secondary education, but apparently the implication is so inescapable that the committee in its report said -
Though we made no close inquiry into the arrangements for secondary education we were sufficiently impressed by the evidence presented of wastage of talent at the secondary school level, due to early leaving, to suggest that this problem merits close attention.
I have no doubt that if the Prime Minister had not gone overseas he would not have found Sir Keith Murray, we would not have had an investigation into universities, and we would not be as well equipped as we are with an understanding of the deficiency of secondary school education. As a result of the Murray committee’s inquiry we have spent or are spending £23,000,000 with a view to putting the universities back on the rails, lt is clear that good reasons now exist why we should focus the same kind of spotlight on secondary and primary education.
If we look at the trend in education in Australia we find that primary school enrolments in recent years have increased considerably. In 1946. 691,930 children were enrolled in primary schools in Australia. In 1956 - just ten years later - the number had increased to 1,091,436. Primary schools have, in fact, already met the full force of the flood resulting from the higher birth rate after the war. Even now, the secondary schools are beginning to feel the effect, and it will be felt even more sharply in the very near future. In 1956, we had a total enrolment of 263,840 pupils in secondary schools throughout Australia, compared with 158,204 in 1946, and the number has become even greater with the passing of time. In June, 1958, Australia’s population was 9,846,140, of whom 2,942,810 were children aged fourteen and under. In other words, almost one-third of Australia’s population requires educational assistance.
The Murray committee’s report has revealed a tremendous range of educational deficiencies. It has shown, for example, that there is a very considerable wastage of talent which does not go on to secondary schools, and it has directed attention particularly to the fact that this country cannot afford that wastage. The committee pointed out that the 1954 Commonwealth census indicated that only 45.8 per cent, of children aged fifteen, only 20.5 per cent, of those aged sixteen, and only 9.4 per cent, of those aged seventeen were receiving full-time education. The position in New South Wales is not much different from that in the other States. In New South Wales, only 4.4 per cent, of young people aged seventeen and eighteen enter the universities. But although this situation prevails we are told that 16 per cent, of the members of any age group of the Australian population have an intellectual capacity above the minimum necessary for success at a university.
Economic factors often have a great influence. Many people would be prepared to continue schooling if their economic circumstances permitted them to do so. At this stage, I take the opportunity to remind the Government of the need to avail itself of the provisions of section 51 of the Australian Constitution and to stimulate education by providing more scholarships, especially for secondary schooling. It is a well known fact that prior to the 1949 general elections, as a result of which the Labour Government was replaced by this Liberal PartyAustralian Country Party Government, a great deal of research and inquiry into the possibility of extending the university scholarship scheme to secondary education had been made. Professor Crisp has directed attention to this matter, and has reminded us that a report was prepared and that it was the Chifley Government’s intention to implement it immediately after the general election. Unfortunately, this Government has pigeon-holed the report. We ask the Government to bring that report out of. its pigeon-hole, to adjust its figures to the present-day situation, and to act on it in order to stimulate education by providing scholarships for secondary schooling. :We are assured that this report is all-embracing and that it has been based on a very thorough examination of all the circumstances involved.
In New South Wales, as in all the other States, there is a desperate shortage of high schools. The figures that I gave a short time ago showed the great influx of students resulting from the high birth rate immediately after the war. I am told that 26 of the new secondary schools listed for construction in New South Wales in the current financial year will not, in fact, be constructed, although the list contains only proposed new high schools considered essential.
The honorable member for Barton has pointed out that we must recognize that most of the States are doing their very best in the field of education. In New South Wales, for example, £42,000,000 of the tax reimbursement grant of £76,000,000 for the financial year 1958-59, or 55.6 per cent,, was spent on education. A very substantial proportion of the loan funds allocated to that State - 80 per cent. - also has been spent in this field. We are told that an additional £10,000,000 could be used, in New South Wales this financial year in helping to relieve the crisis facing secondary education. Great problems exist in respect of class loadings, and 60 per cent, of the pupils in the first, second and third years of high school are taught in classes of more than 40 students. All sorts of deficiencies prevail in respect of buildings, libraries, and so on.
The Prime Minister has finally made clear his attitude on federal aid in education and the request for an inquiry into educational problems in Australia, Mr. Temporary Chairman. His present-day attitude is in direct contrast with that which he has adopted over a considerable period, and, for that matter, it is in direct contrast with the attitude of his colleagues in the State parliaments. In the joint policy speech of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party organizations for the last State general election in New South Wales, education was dealt with in these terms -
As a matter of urgency, we will sponsor, on the Premiers’ Conference level, a Commonwealthwide enquiry into all aspects of primary and secondary and technical education, similar to the Murray Committee. When the report is completed, we will act immediately upon it . . . If uniform taxation persists and still more money is needed for education, we will initiate a special Premiers’ Conference meeting to find ways of getting the additional funds.
Education will receive paramount priority in the allocation of funds.
This is a statement made prior to the last State elections in New South Wales, not on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, but on behalf of the Liberal Party and Australian Country Party organizations in that State. The discrepancy in policy that prevails as between the Commonwealth and State organizations of the Government parties is incredible. One would think that the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament - who is, incidentally, the leader of the Liberal Party there - in his policy speech, would have had regard for the Prime Minister’s attitude. But, unfortunately for the Prime Minister, that was not the case. We recall that it was not very long ago - in 1946, to be exact - that the present Prime Minister, who was then in opposition, advocated the very things that we of the present Opposition advocate to-day.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) made the point that honorable members on both sides of the Parliament are concerned about education, and he read an extract from the joint policy speech of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party organizations for the general election held in New South Wales earlier this year. I think that all of us are extremely anxious to see that the. best is done for our children and our students. Everybody is in favour of better education. But one cannot help doubting the sincerity of the views expressed in this Parliament by members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Hughes said that it was clear where Opposition members stood. I gathered, from what he went on to say, that the Opposition wants an inquiry into primary and. secondary education, but I do not recall him saying that, if Labour formed a government in the Commonwealth sphere, it would make funds available to the States for education. I should like to know what would happen to the States’ expenditure on education and their control of education if that is what Labour wants to do. It may be appropriate to call to mind, therefore, the expression “ sloppy thinking “, which was used by one Opposition member.
There is a campaign in New South Wales particularly - I may be pardoned for saying that I know the affairs of that State well - and probably in other States, also, to obtain federal aid for primary and secondary education. A few years ago, the demands became so vehement and so hot, and the people involved in the agitation so steadfastly refused to accept the view that the sovereign States were in control of education and were responsible for financing it, that I wrote to the Hon. J. J. Cahill, the New South Wales Premier, on the matter. I said to him, “ Are you or are you not in control of and financing education in the State of New South Wales?”
He wrote back and said, “ Of course it is only labouring the obvious to say that we are in control of and financing education in New South Wales “. He went on to indicate that he would resent any intrusion into that field.
What is the position with regard to financing education? The Premiers of the six States meet here at a Premiers’ Conference and in the Australian Loan Council, and they try to get all the available funds. Having got them, they take to themselves - and quite rightly - the decision as to how much shall be spent on education. Education at this moment, therefore, is a matter for the States. If any honorable member seeks to attack this Government, let him say whether he will promise, if his party takes power, to make more funds for education available to the States. Having made this promise, let him then say, if we are going to get away from sloppy thinking, how he will arrange for State expenditure on education. In other words, will he have two groups of people running education in each State? Let him thrash that one out and tell the people of Australia which authority is going to do it. or whether both will do it, Federal and State.
I am sorry that it is necessary for me to put this proposition so strongly. I do not mean my remarks to apply only to the argument of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). They apply to the whole of the thinking on the Opposition side. I want to reply to those people who spend so much time organizing approaches to this Government for extra money for education. They should know, and they would if they looked at the matter carefully and analytically, that all the money available for education goes to the States. The States make certain that they get it all. The States are in control of expenditure on education, and will remain so for many years to come.
There is no quarrel with the proposition that an inquiry should be held into the way in which the funds are to be spent, or as to whether educational facilities and standards in this country are adequate. It sounds a very good idea. Let us, however, consider what actually has been spent in the States. The most highly populated of the States is, of course, New South Wales. Until the agitation that occurred between 1954 and 1956, New South Wales had been spending a lower proportion of available money on education each year than had been the case in that State ten or twenty years previously. The State governments put forward the proposition that they are spending a higher proportion of available funds on education, but they do not adjust the figures to take into account’ the amount of money saved because of the Commonwealth having taken over responsibility for social services.
When the burden of paying for social services was removed from the States, they naturally had much more money available for other purposes, and when one considers the field of education and adjusts the figures in the light of this development, it is found that the States have been spending, proportionately speaking, less on education during the last ten years. Of course, one has not the figures for this year, but it is obvious that the States are not spending enough on education. Financially, therefore, they are letting the people down, and in order to divert attention from what they are doing they inspire, in a backyard or underhand way, agitation to obtain federal funds to cover up their own inadequacy.
There is no doubt that the members of the teaching profession in Australia are doing, as far as they are able, a magnificent job. The improvements that have been made in the educational field over the last ten years have been quite wonderful. I, and, I suppose, other honorable members, are filled with admiration for what the members of the teaching profession have done with the resources at their disposal. However, let us get this matter straight once for all: Does the Opposition propose direct grants for primary and secondary education in Australia? If so, how would it arrange with the States about their sovereignty over the matter of expenditure upon education?
The next point raised by members of the Opposition was the insufficiency of scientists in Australia. Of course, we need the best scientific material available, and we need to train scientists in all types of work. However, let. us look at what our scientists are doing. In this country there has grown up a system of great socialized Government bureaus, both in the Federal and State spheres. There are bureaus of engineers, of chemists and of all kinds of scientific men. These men are working away in their large offices and laboratories. We have been told by leading scientists that we in Parliament, and leading men in the community, must not tell the scientists what they are to work on. In other words, they believe that they work better if they can decide the jobs that they will undertake. I have heard this expression of opinion from some of the most distinguished men in this country in the scientific world.
What does this mean? It means that any scientist can go to the head of his bureau and put forward some scheme, and then spend years and years of his life working on something that may never be of any value, although he will tell you that he has to work on it in order to disprove something. I believe that in a country growing as quickly as this, we should adopt a system such as that operating in the United States of America, under which large firms may apply 10 per cent, of their turnover towards research in their particular fields, the amounts so spent being allowed as deductions for taxation purposes. I have in mind certain large manufacturers of antibiotics. Some of them have established themselves in this country. There is, for instance, Upjohn Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited, if I may mention just one. In America the Upjohn organization spends 10 per cent, of its total turnover, which amounts to many millions of dollars a year, on research directed towards finding out the best way of dealing with certain human ills by means of drugs. The scientists who work for that firm do so with a purpose, but do they have a purpose in OU, Government bureaus, such as the huge engineering bureaus that are called upon to plan for public utilities? Would it not be better to employ private consulting engineers? With the stimulus of private enterprise and all sorts of different motives, would not a better job be done under the system that I advocate?
No matter how many scientists we train through our universities, we cannot get the best out of them if we organize them into huge socialized Government bureaus which have no direct purpose to work for, except, perhaps, some of the most obvious ones, such as those directed towards the curing of the well-known animal or human diseases that crop up from time to time. Let us, then, consider what our scientists are doing.
When considering the Estimates last year, some honorable members directed attention to the situation in the great Public Service of this country. I know that Opposition supporters like to hear some of us talk about the Public Service, because immediately they can say that we are attacking the Public Service. We are not doing that at all. What this Parliament must do is to arrange the legislation relating to the Public Service, particularly the Public Service Act, so that public servants themselves will work in the best atmosphere possible. There are many amendments that could be made to the Public Service Act, and if they are not made, this Parliament is letting down the Public Service itself.
Last year I, and I think others, directed attention to the system in Great Britain, where there is a very fine Public Service. Under that system, a royal commission sits constantly and continuously, conducting inquiries into all parts of the Public Service. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when replying, said that he had asked a number of people to advise the Government on certain matters. He had asked a Mr. Gerald Packer to advise the Public Service Board, and Mr. Packer had reported that the organization and methods work was of the first quality. Then the Prime Minister said -
We called on the services of an outstanding authority on transport in this country, Mr. L. A. Schumer … He is now working, and has been working for some time, in that field.
I do not know whether Mr. Schumer has made a report. There are so many of these reports that we often, unfortunately, miss them. If Mr. Schumer has made a report, or if he is going to make one. I think honorable members would be delighted to see it in order to have this gentleman’s views on the matter of transport. The Prime Minister continued -
Some questions cropped up about the News and Information Bureau … we secured the services in that field of Mr. Eric Kennedy, who, as honorable members know, has a long experience of these matters and is a distinguished consultant in this field.
I do not know whether Mr. Kennedy has completed his report or whether he is about to make it, but I would be glad to see it and to learn what he has to say about the News and Information Bureau.
In the past, attention has been drawn to the fact that the permanent heads of the departments are, by virtue of the Public Service Act, responsible for the administration of their departments. In other words, the whole of the work of the department depends upon the administrative head. The final result then depends on whether the Government has appointed a Minister with sufficient influence to deal with his departmental head on appropriate terms. I think that the part of the act which permits this situation to arise should be amended. If it is not, we will find that, as a department grows, the administrative head will have more influence and a bigger position. That brings into operation what is known as Parkinson’s law, which is that a department will grow larger and larger because it is to the advantage of the head of the department to create a bigger department.
I still believe that a royal commission or a public inquiry by men of ability should be held continually into the Public Service to watch what is happening and to ensure that officers are not unnecessarily employed. Many honorable members have had the experience of finding that people are unnecessarily employed by departments. An inquiry such as I have suggested would make the departments, and the Public Service generally, more efficient, and no one wants this more than do the members of the Public Service themselves. They are aware of the shortcomings of the act and of the system under which they work. While we fail to have an inquiry and to follow the British system which has produced an efficient public service, we will continue to have a situation in which Parkinson’s law operates.
.- I sympathize with the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) on his inability to make up his mind as to whether he should support the Opposition or oppose it on this matter. He suggested that the Government had some sympathy for the point of view put by Opposition members. I suggest that the point of view expressed earlier this afternoon by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) should be further considered by the Government. This matter was raised during the debate on the Estimates last year and as a matter of urgent public importance during 1958. It has again been raised during this debate. The Opposition has every reason to believe that the time has arrived when the Government should consider granting more practical financial assistance to the States for education purposes.
I want to correct a statement made by the honorable member for Macarthur in relation to the annual expenditure by the States on education. The honorable member suggested that the States were not spending as much money, proportionately, on education now as they were several years ago. I shall quote from the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for 1958-59. This shows that in 1948-49 the total expenditure on education throughout the Commonwealth was £26,000,000. By 1958-59, this expenditure had risen to £109,000,000. In other words, there was a four-fold increase in that period. A quick perusal of the White Paper will indicate that the increased expenditure on other public services has not in any instance been as great as the increased expenditure on education. For instance, the expenditure on health and welfare increased from £21,000,000 to £79,000,000 in the same period, and the expenditure on development and conservation of national resources increased from £7,000,000 to £22,000,000. Neither of these represented a four-fold increase. Expenditure on public works increased from £116,000,000 to £427,000,000. This increase was certainly not as great as the increased expenditure on education. I suggest to the honorable member for Macarthur, therefore, that he examine these matters more closely before he gives to the committee figures that will not stand up to scrutiny.
A moment ago, I said that the Opposition had every reason to believe that the time had arrived when the Commonwealth Government should urgently consider the difficulties facing the States in relation to education, particularly at the primary and secondary levels. Education authorities in every State acknowledge that the difficulties facing Departments of Education in providing school buildings and facilities, including library facilities, to meet increasing enrolments, must receive consideration by the Commonwealth Government. The report of the Murray committee made perfectly clear that the States are no longer able to overcome the difficulties confronting them in the field of education. I believe that sufficient has already been said in this debate to substantiate the view held by the Murray committee. Therefore, it is the duty of the Opposition now to direct the attention of the Government to the serious situation that has been created, particularly by lack of finance.
A crisis has developed in relation to primary and secondary education. That is the view of educationalists in every State and I believe that it would be the view of Sir Keith Murray, the chairman of the committee which examined tertiary education. In recent years, Departments of Education have been faced with a hopeless task in trying to solve the problem created by increased enrolments. One difficulty concerns the erection of school buildings, and I shall quote from the 25th report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to substantiate what I have said. On the question of education in Tasmania, the commission said -
Two items of relatively high loan expenditure in Tasmania on which comment may be made are those relating to public buildings (mainly -schools and hospitals) and roads. Expenditure on schools in Tasmania has been relatively heavier than in any other State. The .State was faced with the certain prospect of a large annual increment of school children and the choice was whether to add to old, inadequate structures or to build a number of new schools, which, at the same time offered the opportunity of effecting a substantial degree of school consolidation. The State Government chose the latter course.
It chose this course despite the fact that it would be penalized by the Commonwealth Grants Commission because the expenditure on education, which is taken into consideration with expenditure on social services, was in excess of the amount that the Commonwealth Grants Commission felt was proper for .that State. Until recently the problem of school enrolments in all States was confined largely to secondary schools, but within a few years from now it will be experienced in primary schools as well. That suggestion can be substantiated by figures from education departments throughout the Commonwealth. For example, in 1939 the primary school population was 747,709. In 1956, it had risen to 1,091,436. That was an increase of approximately 300,000 in thirteen years, at the rate of about 60,000 a year. As has already been mentioned this afternoon, the migration scheme fostered by this Government was responsible, between the years 1950 and 1957, for an increase of 250,000 in the school population under the age of fourteen years.
This increase in enrolment will continue against a background of inadequate facilities - school buildings and equipment - and an insufficient number of trained teachers. For every child who attended a primary school in 1939 there will be approximately two in 1964.
I support the suggestion made by previous speakers in this debate that the only solution to this problem is that the Commonwealth Government should enter the field .of education generally. There is no constitutional difficulty in the way. Members con this side suggest also that the Commonwealth Government should set up a committee to inquire into all aspects of primary and secondary education. There are plenty of educationists in every State who would be willing to give their services on such .a body. Irrespective of what was said earlier by “the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), I believe that a Labour .government would have :no hesitation in implementing the recommendations of such a committee, even to the extent of providing more financial assistance to the States for .educational purposes generallly
I am not prepared to subscribe to the view that the Commonwealth should not enter the education field. If it is possible for health to be administered by a Commonwealth Minister, and for all State Ministers of Health to work in conjunction with him, I see no reason why a similar arrangement should not apply to education. The Commonwealth Government should regard the setting up of the suggested committee as a matter of urgent necessity. Sufficient has been said in this debate to show that it is not merely members df the Opposition who are making such a suggestion. Members on this side accept the advice of all State education departments in support of their proposal. That is reinforced by representations from the Australian Teachers Federation and parents and citizens associations throughout the Commonwealth.
I remind the Government that only last year the Opposition presented to Parliament petitions signed by no fewer than 120,000 public-spirited citizens throughout the Commonwealth urging the Government to establish immediately a committee of inquiry and also to make financial grants to the States for educational purposes.
Although much has been said about constitutional difficulties, conclusive proof has been produced that no constitutional barrier is in the way of the Commonwealth making grants to the States for education. That could be done under section 96. In 1946, an amendment was made to the Constitution which gave this Parliament direct powers to make grants to the States for the purpose of education generally, as well as for students and for other purposes. The Commonwealth Education Act of 1945 lays down quite clearly in section 5 (2) (f) that the Commonwealth Office of Education shall -
Advise the Minister concerning the grant of financial assistance to the States and to other authorities for educational purposes.
In 1958 the Opposition made out a case on this matter. During the debate on this occasion the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has spoken in opposition to the view expressed from this side.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is not my intention to debate the subject of Commonwealth aid for education which has taken up so much of the committee’s time this afternoon, except to say that there seems to be a great measure of agreement among members on both sides that financial assistance should be given to the States for this purpose. The only disagreement seems to be on whether such assistance should be devoted to one section of education or another. Opposition speakers have indicated that for some time it has been the intention of the Australian Labour Party to set up a committee to investigate all aspects of primary and secondary education, including technical education. I feel that the solution of the problem of education will be found only if the Government acts upon this suggestion, which is supported by the Australian Teachers. Federation and the parents and citizens associations throughout Australia. The committee should work on similar lines to that of the Murray committee which investigated the needs of all Australian universities. I merely suggest that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should give sympathetic and favorable consideration to that request.
The subject I wish to discuss relates to the Commonwealth Public Service Board and the treatment given to ex-servicemen, particularly those who suffer some physical disability, who have endeavoured to obtain employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Section 33 (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act lays down that a person is not eligible for employment in the service unless - the Board is satisfied, after he has undergone a medical examination as required by the Board, as to his health and physical fitness for appointment.
On many occasions it has been found that an ex-serviceman who is suffering from a war disability for which he receives a partial pension has been refused employment in the Public Service, either in a permanent or a temporary capacity, because he is suffering from a war disability. All ex-servicemen, and particularly those with war disabilities, are entitled to expect some sympathetic consideration from the Commonwealth Government because they were maimed and injured while carrying out their patriotic duty in time of war to keep Australia free. However, because they are suffering from war disabilities the Public Service Board will not accept them for employment.
Section 84 (8.) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a returned soldier may be appointed to the Commonwealth Service, although he is not free from physical defects due to service in the war, if the Board is satisfied, after such medical examination as it requires,–
I emphasize those words “ as it requires “ - that the returned soldier is free from physical defects as would incapacitate him from the efficient discharge of the duties of the office to which he is to be appointed.
Although the ex-serviceman is subjected to a medical examination that is not as strict as that which other applicants for employment in the Public Service have to undergo, I feel that on many occasions the standard of medical examination applied to exservicemen with war disabilities could be lowered even further. Many of our exservicemen are deteriorating in health because they are faced constantly with the tear of unemployment, and because they do not know when their war disability will wake it virtually impossible for them to work.
If the Government is not prepared to extend sympathetic treatment to disabled ex-servicemen and to employ them in a permanent capacity - because temporary employment carries with it the constant feeling of insecurity - then we cannot expect private industry to do so. Further, if they are employed in a temporary capacity they have no prospect of promotion. The ex-serviceman is entitled to expect his right to earn a living to be recognized. He should not be subjected to the fear of unemployment.
Many honorable members have raised in this chamber the topic which I have mentioned to-day. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has brought before honorable members on a couple of occasions the position of one of his constituents. So have I. The committee of inquiry which investigated the question of recruitment to the Public Service recommended, among other things, that the Government should consider the employment of physically handicapped people in the Public Service. It recommended also that in order to employ these people the relevant acts dealing with the superannuation and provident funds should be amended so that such persons would not be required to contribute to those funds. The reason for this recommendation was to ensure that there would be no drain on the funds should the physically handicapped employees be retired earlier than at the normal retiring age. Exactly the same action could be taken to provide employment for disabled ex-servicemen. The least that this Government should do would be to make employment available in the Public Service on a permanent basis for disabled ex-servicemen who are fit and willing to work. If they are not fit to work, the Repatriation Department should give them a totally and permanently incapacitated war pension.
I should like to mention to the committee the case of a man who served for 22 years in the Royal Australian Air Force and reached the rank of warrant officer. He is now 42 years of age. He enlisted on 14th June, 1938, and was discharged on 20th February, 1959. His conduct assessment is exemplary; his trade qualification is exceptional; his skill is exceptional, and his administrative ability is exceptional. The reference given him by his commanding officer is in these terms -
It has been my privilege to supervise the work of Mr.– during the past two years and I have no hesitation in recommending him to any one requiring an executive possessing not only drive and a capacity for hard work, but also the ability to take the initiative in dealing with problems of an unusual nature.
This man applied to the Public Service Board for employment; he was subjected to a medical examination, and his appointment to a position in the Department of Air, Sydney, was gazetted in July, 1959. However, on 14th August, 1959, he was notified by the Public Service Inspector, Sydney, that his appointment had been cancelled because he had failed to pass the medical examination. For the previous 22 years he had been in the R.A.A.F.; he had been discharged medically fit in February, 1959, but in August of the same year the Public Service Board, through its medical officers, said that he was unfit for employment in the Public Service. I should be pleased to hear a satisfactory explanation from any member of the Government or any member of the Public Service Board as to how this man could be medically fit in February, 1959, on his discharge from the R.A.A.F. and be medically unfit in August, 1959, for employment in the Public Service.
The case to which I have referred is typical of many which have been mentioned in this chamber. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to investigate the administration of the Public Service Board and to ensure that disabled ex-servicemen are given sympathetic consideration and the right to obtain permanent employment in the Public Service. I should like to make additional comments on this subject but, because the time is not available, I shall conclude by asking the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), who is now at the table, to see that the rigorous medical examination to which disabled exservicemen are now subjected is modified.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish briefly to mention–
– Order! The honorable member will remain seated until he receives the call.
– You called me.
– Order! I call the Postmaster-General.
– But you called me.
– Mr. Chairman, an arrangement has been made between the parties for the conduct of the debate. In accordance with that arrangement I am obliged to move at this stage -
That the question be nowput.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Sitting suspended from. 6 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Loans Securities Act 1919-1956.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill, which is very short, is to clarify the position, in relation to Australian taxes, of non-resident holders of Australian securities issued overseas. In all loans raised abroad since 1921, Mr. Speaker, the Commonwealth has assured non-resident bond-holders that the principal of, and interest on, Commonwealth bonds would be free of Australian taxes. This undertaking has always been understood abroad to mean that non-resident holders of Australian bonds would be exempt from Commonwealth and State income taxes, estate duties, gift duties and so on, in relation to their holdings. The reason for granting this exemption is, of course, that many oversea bond-holders would otherwise be liable to tax on the bonds not only in the country in which they ordinarily reside, but also under Australian laws. I may add that this is a normal provision in loans raised by borrowing countries in the markets of other countries.
The authority by virtue of which the Commonwealth has given these undertakings has in most cases been the Loans Securities Act 1919-1956. However, recently certain provisions contained in the Estate and Gift Duty Conventions entered into by the Commonwealth Government With the United States Government in 1953, and ratified by both Parliaments, have created a situation which has emphasized the insufficiency of the promise in the bond to override statutory provisions imposing taxes and duties; in other words, to expose a situation in which the Commonwealth might conceivably be involved in a failure to perform its solemn promise.
If the matter concerned solely the circumstances affecting loans issued in America, all that would strictly be necessary to rectify the position for residents of the United States who hold Commonwealth bonds and who may now be subject to Commonwealth Estate and Gift Duty would be to amend the relevant convention ratification acts. However, undertakings to the effect described, though in various verbal forms, are included in Commonwealth securities issued in the United Kingdom, in Canada, and in Switzerland, as well as in the United States. Consequently, the Government has considered that an opportunity should now be taken to obtain Parliament’s approval to make undertakings of this type effective, and to ensure exemption from all Australian taxes of all holdings by non-residents of Australian bonds issued overseas, whenever such exemptions are promised by the loan agreements. In this way, the legal force of the undertakings already given, and to be given in the future, to investors in Australian securities issued overseas will be set beyond doubt.
The need to seek this approval as a matter of urgency at the present time arises from the fact that the Government is presently engaged in negotiations which it is hoped will lead to the raising of a further 25,000,000 dollars on the New York :market. The proceeds df this loan will be used for the borrowing programme of £220,000,000 approved by the Australian Loan Council for 1959-60. In accordance with legal requirements in the United States, a preliminary registration statement and prospectus for the proposed loan was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington on 28th August. In the registration statement and prospectus which will be finally filed at the time of issue of the new securities later this month, the Commonwealth again wishes to give an undertaking in relation to Australian taxes similar to that given in all other recent borrowings in New York. As I have emphasized such an undertaking is usual in such financial operations, and without it there would be little, if any, prospect of the success of a foreign loan, in particular of the loan now in an advanced stage of negotiation. Therefore, it is obviously desirable - indeed necessary - to clarify the position before the loan is actually floated.
Mr. Speaker, the structure of this short bill is simply to provide that where an undertaking to afford tax immunity - if I may use this compendious phrase - has been or is given, no taxes shall be levied under Commonwealth or State law upon or in respect of the security, where it is held by a non-resident and where the security has been issued abroad.
I should add that this bill, if enacted, would have no effect whatsoever on the liability for taxation of holdings of Australian overseas securities by residents of Australia. These will remain fully taxable. Nor will it, “as I have already explained, create any new rights for oversea bondholders other than those which were already understood from the undertakings in the securities. All that it will do is to set beyond doubt an exemption which was hitherto intended to be available to all holders of Australian securities issued overseas. It will ensure that Australia keeps its word. It will also enable oversea investors to subscribe to new Commonwealth loans raised overseas with confidence that their investment will have the immunity from Australian tax which they have always expected, and have been assured, in previous loans raised by the Commonwealth. I commend the bill to honorable members.
May I say, Sir, as the House has granted leave for the introduction of this bill, on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) I withdraw the notice of motion relating to the bill given earlier to-day.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 829).
.- I think it is to be genuinely regretted that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is not here in person to provide the committee with any explanations it may want regarding the Minister’s conduct of the Department of External Affairs. In my view this is the wrong time - the time when the proposed votes of the various departments are under discussion - for Ministers to be overseas. Honorable members are at a disadvantage during this debate in not having the Minister for External Affairs present in the chamber to answer such queries as honorable members may raise regardingthe foreign policy of the Government and the administration of the Department of External Affairs, regarding which I think we are entitled tohave some information.
For instance, we should have more information from the ‘Minister about the activities of our missions overseas. My experience abroad in an official capacity on behalf of the Australian Government has led me to the belief that there is one aspect of our representation overseas which requires correction. We have an Embassy to the United States, in Washington, a Consulate-General in New York and a Consulate in San Francisco. The Australian people have learned to recognize the value of such establishments as an aid to Australians visiting the United States and to firms and people having commercial dealings in that country. During my official term in the United States on behalf of Australia I found that one of the most important places for Australia in America is the city of Chicago. In that city I found much more interest in the life and work of Australia than I found almost anywhere in the United States. Also, certain organizations in Australia have links with Chicago. In those circumstances I believe that there should be an Australian consulate in Chicago, which is the second city of the United States. I also felt when I was there that there was a greater welcome to the Australian point of view in Chicago than I had found in most other cities of America.
I remind honorable members of the wellknown fact that it was in the city of Chicago that Walter Burley Griffin drew his first plans for the city of Canberra. Griffin later won a world-wide competition for his design of the great city that we hope Canberra will become.
In view of the commercial and industrial relationships between Chicago and Australia I think that the Department of External Affairs might well consider the present to be the right time to establish a consulate there. Australia is at present represented in Chicago by the Swedish Consul. I may say that at the time when I visited Chicago the relations between that city and the United Kingdom Consulate were not very cordial. Of course, there is a section of the population of Chicago which holds anti-British feelings. The fact that that section is so vocal does not make it any easier for the British view-point to find acceptance in Chicago with good grace. That being so, there is all the more reason why Australia should have direct representation in Chicago, where we are more favorably received. Furthermore, the establishment of an Australian consulate in Chicago would help to remove any idea that peoplethere may have that we are not a sovereign nation.
One matter on which I think an explanation is long overdue is why the Australian High Commissioner’s office in London is still under the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department and not of the Department of External Affairs. If it is good enough for our representation in Washington, Ottawa, and every other world centre in which we are represented, to be under the jurisdiction of the Department of External Affairs, why is it considered necessary to have the High Commissioner’s office in London under the immediate supervision of the Prime Minister’s Department? If better supervision results from having that office under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department why should not that consideration also apply to our diplomatic representation in other places? 1 have never heard an explanation of why this system is retained, and I think that other honorable members would also be interested to be told why the practice is continued of having two departmental authorities concerned with different aspects of our external representation. As an honorable member has reminded me, this lays the .way open for a certain amount of duplication. At times there must be matters arising concerning Australia in London which also affect Australian interests in America and on which consultation between our representatives in London and Washington would be necessary. Those two overseas posts are the responsibility of different Ministers, and I do not think that is a good thing for the proper co-ordination and understanding that should be exercised when exchanges of opinion are called for between those posts. Where that kind of situation exists duplications are likely to occur. I hope that this situation can be remedied and that we will have a little more uniformity in our representation overseas. 1 hope that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs will be able to give me some assurance and some explanation with regard to the matters that I have brought to the notice of the committee.
.- I think it was rather improper of the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) to criticize the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Case)’) for being overseas at this moment, because we are all aware of the important mission that has taken him overseas. We all know the important job of work that he has done for Australia over the last ten years. When this Government came to office ten years ago, relations with South-East Asia were practically nonexistent. To-day, we can say that we have some very sincere friends in South-East Asia.
While I am congratulating the Minister on the work that he has done over the past ten years, I should also like to con gratulate our diplomatic representatives overseas. Their tour of duty overseas is usually about two years, but in that time they do a magnificent job in building up better relations between this country and the countries in which they serve. We know only too well how South-East Asia to-day is looking to Australia for a lead. We are a country of only 10,000,000 people - a very large country at that. Malaya has 6,250,000 people; South Viet Nam has 12,000,000 people; Taiwan has about 12,000,000 people; and South Korea has 24,000,000 people. Those countries are looking to Australia in terms of equality. They know that this far outpost of Western civilization in the South-West Pacific area is not a powerful military nation, and they accept us sincerely, not only as a friend, but also as an adviser. We know that the leaders of those countries are not backward in seeking advice from Australia’s representatives. We know that Malaya gained her independence only two years ago, but when she wanted to set up a central bank, she sought aid from Australia. We should feel very proud indeed that to-day an Australian is in Malaya advising on the setting up of a central banking system. I should like to add that he is not only a good Australian, but he was educated in Ballarat.
I am very proud - all of us should be - of the Colombo Plan. Too many people know too little of what is being done under the Colombo Plan. I saw a great deal of the plan in action recently. We know that it was formulated in 1950, in Colombo, by eight countries, but to-day some sixteen countries are participating in the plan. Australia has done a great deal for the Colombo Plan countries. We have provided finance for machinery, as well as technicians and scientists to guide and advise those countries. Since its inauguration in 1950. 2,645 awards have been made to students under the Colombo Plan. I believe that the plan has done much to cement relations between our country and other member countries, and to break down barriers that previously existed.
I do not think sufficient emphasis has been placed on the human side of the plan. When you travel through these Asian countries you realize that the plan has done far more on the human side than perhaps the mere giving of machinery. I should like to point out that although the Government has led the field in giving assistance under the Colombo Plan, many organizations in this country have got behind the Government and have set a rather fine example to the Colombo Plan students. I refer to bodies such as Junior Chambers of Commerce, Rotary clubs, and Apex clubs. The members of those clubs have done a magnificent job by taking students into their homes. This has contributed a lot to minimizing the distaste felt in Asian countries for our internal immigration policy - known not very nicely as the White Australia policy. A total of 2,645 students have come to this country under the Colombo Plan, and approximately 6,000 private Asian students are training in Australia. We have had to provide facilities for them at our colleges and universities which, as we know only too well, are rather cramped at present. It has been no mean effort on the part of this Government to place those students throughout Australia.
Australia has spent a total of £31,000,000 on the Colombo Plan. Of that amount we have spent about £11,000,000 in India and about £9,000,000 in Pakistan. Honorable members may question why such large amounts were spent in those two countries. One has only to visit those countries to realize why we have spent such large amounts in them. Far too little is known about Malaya, Burma, Thailand, South Viet Nam, South Korea and Taiwan. People often throw their hands in the air and say: “What are we to do about the starving millions in the north? “ That is a good question up to a point. But take a country like Malaya. Malaya has a population of only 6,250,000 and an area about twice the size of Tasmania. It is an under-developed and underpopulated country. But it is a wealthy country. It produces rubber and tin. Malaya has a prosperous future if the Communists give it a chance. There is plenty to eat. If you go further north you find that Thailand exports foodstuffs. The peoples of South Viet Nam, South Korea and Taiwan all have plenty to eat and plenty of clothes to wear. Therefore, I think that we use this term far too broadly when we say that there are starving mil lions in the near north. We know that there are millions of people starving in red China.
I have already mentioned Pakistan and India. There are many millions of unfortunate people in those countries whose standard of living is very low, and I suppose it is for that reason that the largest allocation of funds under the Colombo Plan has been spent in those two countries. As soon as partition came in 1947, 18,000,000 people just walked across the borders from India into East and West Pakistan. In the period since 1947, there has been a great problem to overcome in housing and feeding these unfortunate people who just walked across the borders when partition came. I am very proud of the part that Australia, along with other countries, is to play in the Indus River scheme. The first agreement between Pakistan and India over the division of the waters of the Indus River system is almost ready to be signed. The division of these waters has been a contentious issue for a long time, and we hope that this agreement is the forerunner of closer relations between Pakistan and India, on the one hand, and Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom, on the other hand, which, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, are assisting Pakistan and India in the division of the waters of six rivers, the waters from three going to India and the waters > from the other three going to Pakistan, for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectric power. At the same time as we in Australia have maintained our standard of living, which we all know is the highest in the world, for we have full employment, we have been able to make this magnificent effort to help these overseas countries to educate their people and improve the standard of living.
I was very pleased indeed, Mr. Chairman, to see the Lady Templer Hospital when I was in Kuala Lumpur, in Malaya, recently. Under the Colombo Plan once again, we have provided the nursing staff for a 210-bed hospital. In addition, we have been training here in Australia Malayan nurses who will return to their own country and staff that hospital.
Altogether, 42 Australian nurses have served in the hospital and they have been training Malayan nurses there also. Seven Australian nurses are still there, by the way. It is expected that all of them will have been relieved by about the middle of next year, when the Malayan nurses who are already being trained at the Perth hospital will return to Malaya.
All these things are being done, and very little is being said about them. They represent a tremendous effort on our part, and Australians who visit Asia are very proud indeed to see so many things being done there, by Australia and Australians. In addition, there are. many training projects in Australia, and I should like to name some that are of great interest. First, we have been training miners from Burma. The importance of mining in that country has led to the nomination of three successive groups of metal miners and diamond drillers, most of whom have been given intensive training at the University of Queensland.
We have two large groups of Indians in Australia at present. One group, all the members of which are graduate engineers, is working for a year with Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and associated companies in various aspects of steel production. This is the second group of steel engineers to come to Australia - a total of 45 persons. Australian aid to the Indian steel industry under this programme compares favorably with that given by the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The second group, which totals fourteen persons, is studying sheep and wool development. These trainees are agricultural officials of the Indian Government service.
We have received three groups of officers from the Malayan Department of External Affairs for training in Australia, and we expect to have a fourth group next year. We are at present training a second group of people from the Printing School in Djakarta - a project combining Australian capital aid and expert assistance, and training in Australia. Similarly, we have been training bus mechanics for the Djakarta transport system, and we hope to train a group of administrators of that system in due course. We are training
Asians in public administration also. While we are on this subject, Mr. Chairman, I would say that this is without doubt very important.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I should like to make several points in this debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. I think, judging by the significance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this field, that perhaps the subject of external affairs should be discussed during the consideration of the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department.
The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) considered that there was something wrong in. the criticism by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), who said that he was sorry that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) was absent from the Parliament at this time. The point that the honorable member for Bonython was making was that the Parliament has just ended a recess of twelve weeks, and in a few more weeks we shall begin another recess of twelve or fourteen weeks. If the Minister finds it necessary to go overseas - and we agree that it is necessary - he should go when the Parliament is in recess and not at a time like the present.
– How can the Minister arrange international business to coincide with the periods when this Parliament is in recess? Why does the honorable member not use his brains?
– The Minister could send the honorable member, but it is obvious that he has no brains and that he would not understand the situation, anyway.
– The honorable member talks like a clot.
– And the honorable member for Lilley sounds like an alarm. It seems reasonable to me, Mr. Chairman, and I think it would be to any other person who is not imbued with some of the things that move the honorable member for Lilley, that the Minister for External Affairs should be in the Parliament at a time like this, and not overseas. He has ample time during the rest, of the year to tour the world: Surely it is not necessary for him to do so at any particular date, and especially when the estimates of the department that he administers are under consideration in this place. The Prime Minister has just been overseas, and has covered exactly the same ground as the Minister is now covering: There is no suggestion that there is any urgency in the trip being made by the Minister.
The honorable member for Ballaarat also said that Australia has had good relations with South-East Asia only in recent times - under the administration of the present Government. I. remind him. that the foundations of Australia’s relations with the countries of South-East Asia were laid by the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) during the period from 1941 to 1949. when he was Minister for External Affairs. Those people who saw something of South-East Asia in that period know the significance of the foundations of good relations with- Australia which were, laid by the right honorable gentleman in those years. We on this side of the committee give credit to the present Minister for what he has done in recent years, and it is time Government supporters were prepared to give credit where is it due and acknowledge the work done by the present Leader of the Opposition when he was Minister for External Affairs. But the attitude of honorable members opposite is typical of their one-sided attitude on every aspect of external affairs.
I think that the great weakness of the Government in this field has been its onesided attitude as exemplified in the speech that we have just heard from the honorable member for Ballaarat, who made repeated references to Taiwan, South Korea, South Viet Nam and Pakistan - the countries with right-wing military dictatorships which receive the sympathy of the small international affairs study group, which is very loud-voiced and vocal on this subject, and which seems to speak almost exclusively for Government supporters, who are predominantly silent on these matters. This leaning towards the right-wing military governments of Asia and the Middle East is not good enough. It is necessary to appre ciate the situation of the people of these countries and to sympathize with them; but it is not enough to think in terms only of those countries. We have examples of the attitude of. the Prime Minister himself in: this regard. It is not very long since he deprecated and criticized the People’s Action Party of Singapore, saying that it was a completely unreliable organization. Only recently he has been to Malaya and discovered foc himself that this party is a substantial one, which has formed a government in Singapore and has the backing of the. people there. This is an illustration of the one-sided attitude that has been adopted, by Government supporters.
We have seen some remarkable changes in some other respects - for instance, in regard to conferences in the international field. It is not long since every suggestion that came from this side of the Parliament that’ we should have some conferences and endeavour to settle the differences between countries in this way was met with the criticism that we were advocating the Communist line. Now it is the Prime Minister himself who says that we on the side of the West must launch our own peace offensive, that we must support the kind of policy that the Australian Labour Party has advocated for such a long time.
I turn now to the other important policy aspect - that which is concerned with economic aid. We have heard a good deal from the honorable member for Ballaarat about the importance of the Colombo Plan. The Colombo Plan is significant, but it is only a drop in the bucket so far as Asia is concerned. Much more important schemes have been discussed and put aside. At the present time great changes are about to take place with regard to this matter, just as changes have occurred in the attitude towards conferences. Recently the President of the World Bank, Mr. Eugene Black, said -
It has been the fashion for some time to try to use finance as an instrument of diplomacy - a method of winning or cultivating friends among nations, for the purpose of maintaining or improving international alinements in a time of world tension. But now, I think, the limitations of this approach are plainly evident.
So far there is no indication from the Government or from the Department of External’ Affairs that we have awakened to this change in the situation. What does the Government think of the use of finance as an instrument of diplomacy? What does it think of the chances of success or failure if finance is used in this way? About 1951, some very important proposals were discussed in the United Nations. It was proposed to set up a Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development and a United Nations Economic Development Administration. These were known as Sunfed and Uneda. It was proposed to establish something a thousand times more powerful than the Colombo Plan, and to bring all the countries in the United Nations into the financing of this kind of international organization.
It is of no use to say, in answer to my arguments, that the Communist powers would not co-operate in such a scheme. Had such a scheme been carried into effect, the Communist powers would have had to co-operate or show themselves guilty of a failure to co-operate, for all the world to see. But this scheme was not killed by the Communist powers; it was killed by the Western powers, because they wanted to use international finance as an instrument of diplomacy, as Mr. Eugene Black has described it. They wanted to use international finance as a method of winning or cultivating friends among nations. They wanted to use it to invest at high rates of interest, and not sufficiently to direct it towards solving the economic problems of those countries which, because of unsolved economic problems, have become seed-beds for revolution and disorder.
I think it is necessary, therefore, to direct attention at this stage to views such as those expressed by the president of the World Bank, to the effect that this method of using finance has serious limitations which are becoming plainly evident, and that it is necessary for us to give our support to the development of international organizations through the United Nations, along the lines of Sunfed and Uneda which were discussed in 1950-51 and put aside as unsuitable.
Now, Mr. Chairman, if this support is given, there will be less need to be concerned with military methods of dealing with international problems. The chances of disorder and revolt, or even of incidents occurring in various countries, will be considerably lessened, because these incidents are generated by unsatisfactory economic and social conditions. They are not produced by conspiracies of people, Communists or otherwise.
– What happened in Korea? I challenge you on that.
– I do not know where the honorable member for Lilley has been in the last hour or two, but I think that he ought to know by now what happened in Korea. It has been discussed a thousand times in this Parliament. The position still remains that the possibilities of disorder in Asian countries and the Middle East have economic and social origins. The only way to remove those causes of trouble is to remove the social and economic problems. You will not remove the cause of trouble in Korea and South Viet Nam until you solve those economic and social problems. Let me say that as far as those countries are concerned, their economic problems are not being solved. Those countries are to-day living on American aid, just as in the case of Taiwan, and conditions are not developing indigenously which will provide a suitable basis for political security.
Until we come to grips with the underlying economic and social problems we will have military occupation of those countries. What has been done in the last three or four years has not been directed towards a solution of these problems. Whatever happened in Korea before 1954, that which has happened since is not producing a permanent solution of the problems. What I am suggesting is that such a solution is not possible as a result of such things as the Colombo Plan. Excellent as that plan is, it is on only about one-thousandth of the scale necessary to deal with the situation. These problems will not be solved by using finance as a weapon of international diplomacy. The possibilities of solution - and I concede that a solution may never be possible - require a drawing together of the economic resources of the great powers of the world, particularly Russia and the United States of America, without which nothing significant can be done.
If these economic resources can be directed in this way rather than to the military competition that exists between the two main powers at present, there is some hope of solving the economic and social problems of the so-called underdeveloped and backward countries of the world. It is not much good leaving conditions such as those which exist in India and upon its frontiers, which can lead to revolt, disorder, civil war, invasion or other evils. It is not much good leaving those conditions and then hoping that by some kind of military action we can handle the situation. If military action is used in such a situation, the conditions of the people will be a hundred times worse, and the possibilities of solving their problems will be much further off.
There is one other point I want to mention in connexion with our relations with Asian countries. Australia has a traditional connexion with European countries. We think of ourselves as a kind of Britain in the Pacific. We think in terms of close relations with the United States of America because we speak, so it is said, a common language. But whilst those connexions, relations and backgrounds are of very great importance, the future will show the far greater arid growing importance of Asian countries to Australia. We still have very little real relationship with Asian countries, very little understanding of them and very little information and knowledge of them. Similarly, those countries have very little knowledge of us. It seems to me that the amount spent in fostering diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with Asia is far too small. This must be given renewed and greater emphasis in the work of the Department of External Affairs, and there must be considerable improvement in, and extension of, our relations with Asian countries in all respects. We encourage the visits of people from Asian countries to Australia, and of Australians to Asian countries, but there are barriers in this work.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to waste any time on the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), except to say that they were definitely typical of his suspected affiliations. I add that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) does not need me to apologize on his behalf. I point out to the committee that the Minister, in his duty on behalf of Australia, is doing as he has done for many years, and is not sparing himself in furthering Australia’s interests abroad. The reference to the Colombo Plan by the honorable member for Yarra may have left in the minds of honorable members the thought that it was a product of the previous Minister in the previous Government - I refer to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I am, in a way, rather surprised that he did not claim it was the product of Moscow. However, I do not propose to say any more about that.
I should like to draw the attention of the committee to the tremendous expansion of Australia’s representation overseas. As we all know, representation has expanded at a tremendous speed since the war. Centres have been opened, and we have widened our associations with very many nations. I think that we can safely say that Australia is represented overseas and at home, through our Department of External Affairs, by a type of man dedicated, highly trained and skilful in his work on behalf of this nation. I find myself at a loss at times to appreciate the views expressed by certain members of the community who complain about the cost of our overseas representation and of certain activities that are conducted through the Department of External Affairs. However, I am sure that we, as a Parliament, together with a generous element of the population of Australia, realize that these activities have a tremendous value in fostering our friendship with other countries, particularly with those that lie close to our shores. Any criticism of the expenses that we are now discussing falls to the ground when we realize the standard of work that is being done by the people who incur the expense.
We must realize in these days of international affairs, particularly with the added responsibilities that Australia as a nation has accepted since World War II., that our views must be properly presented to other nations. We have a responsibility to be represented on the highest level at international conferences, and all this costs money. It also means that we must have capable and experienced men to represent us, and we cannot get them without the expenditure of money. We should also consider the responsibility that we as a Parliament and the public as a whole have to those who represent us overseas, to see that they are adequately housed and that they are provided with a standard of living which will at least compare favorably with that of their confreres from other nations. We have in the past had a tendency to do things on a shoe string. These people are out of sight and out of mind; we forget about them. But I believe that every honorable member, irrespective of party affiliations, would agree that our responsibility to overseas representation will live on and will have to be honoured. I personally have no regrets about the size of the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, particularly the amount set aside to provide better housing and living conditions for our officers who represent Australia in some of the most difficult parts of the world.
I want to turn briefly to the question of languages. During the previous sessional period, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) asked a question about the number of officers in the Department of External Affairs who are proficient in certain Asiatic languages. The answer to the question is contained in “ Hansard “ of 12th May last at page 2092. Some interesting information was adduced. For instance, six officers are competent in Chinese and six are competent in Japanese. In other words, they can read, speak and write those languages with proficiency. I mention those two languages because our minds naturally turn to the countries that are fairly close at hand. I want to enlarge on this question because it is of considerable importance. We in Australia, by virtue of our isolation, will always have a difficulty in regard to the teaching of languages. Our children go to school and, ;if .they are lucky, may attain matriculation standard in French or German. But in actual fact, when measured by the standard .of sophisticated conversation, that means completely nothing, and until an opportunity is available to put the book learning into practice by the actual experience of conversation, they cannot hope to be proficient. As I say, by virtue of our isolation, we will always have difficulty in producing in Australia a section of trained linguists. The answer to the question that I have mentioned earlier refers to certain of our officers having to undergo studies at the Hong Kong University. This, of course, means additional expense.
The existing regulations provide for an allowance to be paid for proficiency in certain languages. An allowance of £100 per annum is available for those who are proficient in Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. That policy has been directed towards the decision that we must make our major effort in the countries that are close .to us and naturally certain of these languages are concerned - for instance, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. But I suggest that the method of encouraging the learning of languages by officers of the Department of External Affairs requires revision. This, of course, is not a matter for the Department of External Affairs alone; it is a matter for general Treasury consent. At the moment, if an officer of the Department of External Affairs wishes to acquire knowledge of another language - say, in a new posting where he will be stationed for two or three years - he is entitled only to the reimbursement of 50 per cent, of the language tuition fees up to a total limit of £20. Honorable members will realize that that does not cover very much tuition in a language. I suggest that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is now at the table, might refer this matter to the Minister for External Affairs for his con.sideratioin when he returns from his present arduous duties.
In passing, I want to refer to the expansion of the Department of Trade. While this does not come strictly within the debate on the estimates now before the committee, I can discuss it in relation to the responsibility of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Trade for our overseas representation. I think 1 am quite right in saying that at the moment the relations between the two departments, particularly in their overseas representation, are completely harmonious. But I see certain difficulties arising unless some detailed plan for the determination of seniority is adopted. In one or two centres, we have the position in which the Trade Commissioner is the senior officer by virtue of salary. Normally, where a Trade Commissioner is attached to a foreign or external affairs post, he is posted, as is done through the British representation overseas, as a representative of Trade to the embassy or legation. In some cases where certain Trade men are on their own in particular areas, there might be a conflict of policies on Australian representation. I feel that that is one point in the present set-up which might require some further exact study in order to prevent any possibility of misunderstanding from arising in our relations with other countries. In that connexion I would say that the two departments, External Affairs and Trade, working together, must be of tremendous value overseas to our country. The importance of trade expansion is obvious to everybody.
.- Unlike the Department of Territories, the Department of External Affairs treats this Parliament with studied contempt. It does not produce any notes in support of the Estimates and gives no information about its activities. We know nothing about this extraordinary body called the Foreign Affairs Committee which, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) admits, is the foreign affairs study circle. We have no reports of what it does and we have no information about its cost. We do not know when it meets and we do not even know whether it travels. Of course, the Minister for External Affairs is so often away from Australia that he knows nothing, relatively speaking, about what this body does. But we want to know something more about it; otherwise how is it to try to justify its existence to date?
The Department of External Affairs, in addition to not giving any information as to what it is really doing, does not explain some of the things that it fails to do. Why does the Department of External Affairs, under the leadership of a Minister named Casey, continue an anti-Irish attitude in regard to the establishment of an Embassy inDublin? That is something which the acting Minister (Sir Garfield Barwick), who has no inhibitions of a genealogical sort, might attempt to deal with.
This year, the Department of External Affairs proposes to spend something like £2,500,000, which is about £250,000 more than it spent last year. Nobody wishes to criticize the work of our diplomats abroad; they work very hard and very zealously and they do try to represent Australia to the best of their abilities. But compared with the budgets of other nations we do not spend so very much on our diplomats and their particular work. When we look at the amount the Government proposes to spend on international development and relief we find that it is £2,200,000 more than last year’s allocation. I would not begrudge one penny of that money because I think we have to spend much more than we have been spending on our Asian brethren who, in many cases, are living under such under-privileged conditions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December, 1948, contained these statements -
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
It reads almost like an extract from the American Declaration of Independence. Certainly, it is a paraphrase of it. The declaration goes on -
Every one has the right to work . . . and to protection against unemployment. Every one who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration, ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity . . .
That declaration of human rights, however, has no significance at all for two-thirds of the world’s population. It really mocks their misery. What the Government proposes to do is good in its way, but if Western civilization is to survive, we will have to do much better in future. It is no use making military pacts or trying to win the Asian countries against communism with all sorts of protestations of principles. The Italians have a saying, “ Empty stomachs have no ears “. The Asian peoples are suffering want still, and we have not done enough to guarantee the security of this country for our children and our grandchildren. The New York “ Times “ is not a radical journal; as a matter of fact, it is probably the best defender of capitalism in the United States of America. On 23rd February, 1958, which is not so long ago, it quoted a United States State Department report on the subject of trade and aid, which stated -
Through offers of aid and increased trade to less developed countries the (Communist) bloc is seeking to promote its political objectives - to reduce the influence of the United States and its allies, disrupt free world defence alliances and increase its own prestige and power.
It went on to say -
Thus a State Department survey published last month summarised the Communist challenge to the West on the economic front. The Communists have been late-comers in the field of international economic aid. But in the past two and a half years, the Soviet-Chinese bloc has committed 1.9 billion dollars in aid to ten underdeveloped nations - 1.5 in economic aid (chiefly in the form of trade and barter agreements), the rest military.
Soviet propaganda gains have been far greater than the cost of their program would seem to warrant. For one, the Communists chose projects with powerful eye appeal - paved roads for Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a steel mill for India, the arms deal with Egypt and Syria.
It is the problem of meeting this Soviet challenge that lends special urgency to the issues of United States aid and trade this year. What follows is a description of the background, the Administration’s program, and the outlook in each area.
The New York “ Times “, one of the most powerful journals in the world, summarized in those words the situation as it confronted the United States. In America, they do at least address themselves to these problems, but in Australia we seem to live in a situation where we think that what happens in the rest of the world does not really matter.
– Oh, rubbish!
– That is what I would expect from the honorable member. Let him hear these words from a noted American journal -
More than half the children in the world have never drunk milk or seen medicine.
That is not rubbish; that is an extract, I emphasize, from a well-known and influential journal published in the United States. It goes on, very significantly, to say -
The Far East (including China, Japan and India) produces only thirty-two per cent, of the world’s goods; at the same time it has fifty-five per cent, of the world’s population. By contrast the U.S. and Canada account for more than twenty-three per cent, of the world’s productive capacity, although they have only about eight per cent, of the world’s population. This inequality in the world’s distribution of material goods and population is not new. What is new is the dawning awareness of a world economy and its implication for the Christian nations of the West.
Let not honorable members on the Government side be so smug and self-satisfied about what this Government is doing in the matter of aid under the Colombo Plan or any other agency. Whatever we have done is only a small portion of what we will be required to do if we are to satisfy the legitimate claims of Asian nationalism and if we are to persuade the nationalist leaders of the Asian countries not to ally themselves with communism in order that they may secure a better share of the production of the whole world.
The smear which the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) directed at the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) is completely wrong and unworthy of him. The honorable member for Yarra is not a Communist and never has been a Communist. Furthermore, there are no Communists on the Labour side of the chamber. If we are to be impressed by what Ministers have been saying in recent times in regard to communism, we do not know where this Government is going.
The sum of £79,000 has been provided in the Estimates for the re-opening of the Russian Embassy after the disruption of diplomatic relations following upon the wretched Petrov affair - a very useful means by which the Government was able to stampede the community.
– A stunt!
– Yes, a stunt by which the Government was able to win an election in 1954. The Russians stayed away from the wool sales. One Minister - I shall not name him because he would not wish to be named - said some months ago that if the Russians returned to the wool market the price of wool would rise by 20 per cent. When this Government restored diplomatic relations with Russia the price of Australian wool did rise by 20 per cent.
– That is not so. That is all rubbish.
– Order! The honorable member has already spoken in the debate. He will remain silent now.
– This Government had been prepared to re-establish diplomatic relations with Russia just prior to the tragic Hungarian affairs in 1956, but it did not pursue its intentions at that time. The Government was not prepared to restore diplomatic relations prior to the 1958 election, but it promptly took this action after the election in order to promote the sale of wool.
We have heard the Minister for External Affairs argue that it was no use recognizing red China because red China did not trade with us. The assumption was that if the volume of trade grew this Government would recognize mainland China. The Minister for External Affairs - that peregrinating Minister who one day is trying to settle the affairs of Algeria with General de Gaulle and the next day, maybe, is trying to solve the problem of Berlin with Herr Brandt in west Berlin - delivered himself of a magnificent platitude the other night on the question of recognition of mainland China. He said: “Time does not stand still “. That is Government policy - “ Time does not stand still “. On this same question the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is a member of the Australian Country Party and who is supported very enthusiastically on this matter by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), said, on 30th May, 1959 -
I think if Communist China remains the government - and I see no reason why it should not - then I think it will be recognized as the de facto government of the Chinese mainland.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) having heard in London about the statement made by the. Minister for Trade said during a B.B.C. television programme on 27th June -
Australia has no intention in the visible future of recognizing Communist China.
He did not rule out the possibility of recognizing red China in the invisible future. He continued -
For Australia to recognize Communist China would be a very great encouragement to the extension of communism in Asia.
On another occasion when asked to comment on communism in Australia the Prime Minister said -
I would say there is no danger. They are a minority. They are very active and full of vigorous and evil intentions, but they are not a major factor.
If one were to listen to these bright boys from this foreign affairs study circle, after their latest lecture by a diplomat, one would imagine that the collapse of the whole of western civilization was imminent. I think that the Australian people have seen through a lot of the nonsense put out by this Government. 1 shall conclude by telling the chamber again the attitude of the Australian Labour Party - this party which supports the principle of democratic socialism - on the question of red China and communism. The Council of the Socialist International, at its meeting of 10th March, 1956, having discussed the international situation and the question of relations with other political forces, stated -
The changes of Communist tactics which emerged at the recent party congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union are not adequate proof of a genuine change in the principles and policies of Communist dictatorship and, therefore, provide no grounds for departing from the position taken up by democratic socialism which firmly rejects any united front or any other form of political co-operation with the parties of dictatorship.
.- The Government must be very refreshed by the support which it has received from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). He has spoken about foreign affairs, but he knows nothing of the administration of the Department of External Affairs, and he will gain no knowledge from a perusal of the accounts that have been submitted to the Government. He has the right to be a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. When the Government is appointing the Foreign Affairs Committee it leaves a certain number of vacancies which may be filled by members of the Opposition if they desire to accept appointment. If they were to accept the opportunties that have been given them, they would obtain an extensive knowledge of what is going on in the world to-day.
From the speeches of members of the Opposition one would gain the impression that it is impossible for Australia to have a bi-partisan policy on foreign affairs as every other reasonable country of the world has. The United Kingdom has a bipartisan policy on foreign affairs; the opposing parties differ only in emphasis. Likewise, in the United States of America the Republicans and the Democrats differ on their bi-partisan policy only in emphasis. But in Australia, the policies of the opposing parties are. poles apart. However, the curious thing is that, our foreign policy has earned the respect of all foreign nations. That fact must be very difficult for the Opposition to laugh off.
I was intrigued by the honorable member for Melbourne who spoke about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the very declaration from which he quoted is the particular principle of the Right of Free Association. The honorable member claims to be a member of a democratic socialist party which believes in the Declaration of Human Rights, yet he would deny to Australian citizens the right that he wishes to give to every Asiatic country - the Right of Free Association. There is no doubt - the Opposition is definitely opposed to the Right of Free Association.
The suggestion that the wool sales were influenced by the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is complete poppycock. If Russia wants to buy our wool she will do so. If she wants to buy South African wool or New Zealand wool she will do so. She has not broken off diplomatic relations with those countries, and she has not interposed in their wool sales. The honorable member’s statement is complete nonsense. The price of wool has risen because little wool has been stockpiled and consumption has increased. It is purely a matter of the law of supply and demand. As I have said, to associate the rise in wool prices with the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is complete nonsense.
The Opposition has placed too much emphasis on poverty in Asia. In many parts of Asia there is poverty, but poverty alone does not necessarily create communism. Are East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other European countries so poverty stricken that communism naturally follows? Of course, there is poverty in Asia. But other countries must be very careful of the manner in which they assist the poverty-stricken parts of Asia. America has learned that lesson already. It is unwise to pump aid into countries continually. These nations should try to rise by their own efforts. Let us give them all the technical aid that we can, but do not let us pour in too much financial assistance.
After all, Russia has promised Nasser a tremendous sum of money to build the new Aswan high dam, but that has not won friends for Russia in Egypt. To talk about’ pouring money into Asia is nonsense. Assistance must be given with understanding and with the objective that the nations themselves will rise by their own endeavours and will retain their self-respect. The honorable member for Yarra said that the Government parties were now coming round to Labour’s policy on the subject of a summit conference. That is complete nonsense. For the last five years the Leader of the Opposition has been urging conciliation with the Russians. But there is a time for negotiation. If you want to buy a house you do not run across to the owner and say, “ Look here, I want to buy that house. Let me know immediately how much you want for it.” You go about the thing more sedately and say, “ I am interested, and perhaps one day we will come to terms “. You do not negotiate from weakness. You negotiate from strength. To suggest that we. are changing our policy because we are now advocating a summit conference is just nonsense. Conditions change. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said that time does not stand still. Of course it does not. Two years ago was not the time to negotiate with Russia. Since then, many factors have changed Russian opinion. The “ Nautilus “ is one thing that has changed Russian opinion. The way in which the United States of America has caught up with rocket missiles is another.
I support the honorable member for Corangamite who spoke about the importance of languages. Australians have made a favorable impression on our Asian neighbours. I have lived in countries of coloured people, and I have a very warm regard for these people. I know of no people who mix better with the coloured races than do the Australians. I think they are great mixers. From all reports that I have heard, we are highly regarded by Asian peoples. We are an Asian nation and I think that our reputation is to the credit of the Department of External Affairs. Most of our representatives overseas are career men. We have been wellserved by the officers of the Department of
External Affairs who have created a good impression of us in Asia. Credit for the work done by our officials must go largely to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). His guiding hand and his conferences with Asian diplomats have resulted in the enviable position that we hold in Asia.
I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that we should take more notice of the language problem. External Affairs officers must be trained to understand Japanese and, in particular, Chinese, because Chinese is spoken not only throughout the great territory of China itself but also by the important and influential Chinese communities in other Asian nations. Also, the Department of Trade should have its officials trained in the languages of Asia. The Army, the Air Force and the Navy should have more attaches at embassies .in Asian -countries, with the consent, of course, of the nations themselves. We should encourage the learning and understanding of the customs as well as the languages of the people of Asia.
Russian emissaries overseas can always speak the language of the country to which they are sent, in the old days the Germans sent officials -to East Africa who could speak Swahili. ‘We do ‘-not do that sort of thing. English-speaking people are lazy. They want other peoples to speak English. I am one of those, too.
Not even the ‘best friends of members of the Australian Labour Party would accuse (them of being deep thinkers. They have chided the Country Party with having traded with China while refusing to recognize that country. I can see no reason why we cannot trade with China without recognizing her. Yesterday, I asked the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs ‘whether, while there are patrol clashes on the Indian frontier, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had made any further representations that the Government should recognize red China. The next few weeks and the next few years will show that China is in an aggressive mood. We have these continual pin-pricking problems because China wants to exert influence on the whole of Asia.
The only difference between socialism and communism is that socialism is communism with a clean shirt. No socialist country can live in a free world without having constant trouble with its neighbours. We must look to the future. Why should we recognize red China if we can trade without recognition? In time, probably, when there is a change of view, we will extend recognition. But for the moment, I, for one, am totally opposed to the recognition of red China.
What has been the attitude of the Opposition to Tibet? Not once has the Opposition proposed that we should take this tragic problem to the United Nations. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) - the only member of the Opposition who sees these things with any sense at all - is the one Labour spokesman who may have recommended that course of action. The Leader of the Opposition suggested taking the problem of India and Pakistan to the United Nations - but not Tibet. Why not Tibet?
Through our Department of External Affairs we have won a very enviable position in Asia. ‘Our policies are sound. The more we -can encourage cultural relations with our Asian neighbours, the more Asian students we can bring to study in our country, and ‘the more people we can send to Asian countries ‘the more respect we shall earn from our neighbours and the more likely we are to live in a better world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I suppose -that the greatest hope for the future lies in the fact that the Australian Parliament can nourish in its bosom a man with the thoughts of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). The fact that people holding ideas as divergent as are his and ours can sit in the same institution, representing people who speak the same language, shows such a broad basis of toleration and goodwill in this nation that something should be done to expand it more widely over the face of the planet.
The .honorable member for Hume said that there has to be more international understanding, and more understanding of Australia’s position. Let us consider our policy over the last few years. Not so long ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was denying that a summit conference could possibly do any good, whereas in recent weeks he has been saying that it is the only hope for the future. In the past we have heard him advocate policies against independence for India and now he would be the last to advocate such policies.
– That is not so.
– It is in “Hansard”. I will give you the reference afterwards. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen; advocates, in a quiet, unobtrusive way in this House, trade with China. The rest of his colleagues will not recognize that country. I recognize, quite willingly and amiably, the viewpoint of the honorable member for Hume. But I do not agree very much with his policy.
In considering the estimate of £2,582,000 for the Department of External Affairs, let us see in what way that department is attempting, under the leadership of the Minister, to break down the tension and the barriers that beset and bedevil the world. The challenge to-day is to break down those barriers; but Australia can contribute no strength in this field. We have no strength. With our 10,000,000 people, we have no strength in the sense in which the members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party speak. They speak of strength as associated with military power. I say that our strength in the world lies in the influence that we can spread abroad as a result of our own national spirit, which I think has something to contribute to the world to-day. If I look back through history, I see that some of the greatest contributions to humanity have been made by small groups of people. If we turn to the time which is contemporary with the thoughts of the honorable member for Hume - that is 2,500 years ago in Athens - we find that about 10,000 citizens of that city were able to contribute something which has seeped through all the stages of history. We use their language and culture as the basis of some of our language and culture in a way which cannot be denied. Those people were few in number and they lived in a very small spot on the world’s surface.
I look at the history of England itself in the past 300 years. Three hundred years ago, England was a small kingdom off the edge of Europe. Geographically, it was not much more significant than the State of Tasmania and not much larger, with an English-speaking population of 3,500,000. Yet, over the past 300 years - unfortunately often by methods of which I do not approve - the influence of England’s free institutions and the language of its relatively few people, have spread all over the world. To-day, 10 or 11 per cent, of the people of the world speak English as their first tongue and 50 per cent, learn it as their second language. That is a very significant feature of human affairs, yet this influence and the English language were not spread by the weight of battleships. Our influence will be spread in the end by the spirit of humanity and by a recognition of the dignity of man although, in the meantime, perhaps we might keep our powder dry.
I examine the record of this Government and the activities of its Department of External Affairs, and in this particular regard I conclude that it has failed. I agree with the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) that at this time of the year and this stage of the parliamentary proceedings, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) should be in this chamber. This is one of the few times that we get a chance to debate the activities of the department under his administration. He should be here. I admit that in many respects, when his work is examined through the eyes of those who do not think too deeply, the right honorable gentleman is doing not too bad a job. In many respects, he is not making many enemies for us. I can think of a number of honorable members on the Government side who would sow seeds of doubt and discord around the world if they were appointed to his portfolio. At the moment, the Minister is not doing that. I have not much against him except that he happens to be the Minister for External Affairs. I believe there is something to be contributed from this nation which the right honorable gentleman cannot contribute, either because of his personal background or because of the people with whom he has to associate.
In reply to the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) I would be happy if I could think there were as few people with fascist tendencies in the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party as there are people of Communist influence in the Australian Labour Party.
I want first, Mr. Chairman, to bring to your notice the higgledy-piggledy nature of these Estimates. The Department of External Affairs is principally responsible for our relationships with people overseas. Yet, we find, as the honorable member for Bonython has pointed out, that according to the Estimates, the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom comes under a different department. We have to turn to the Miscellaneous section of the Estimates to find something about the Colombo Plan and the United Nations. Surely, this list could be reorganized so that we could take these estimates together without testing the Standing Orders too far. This is simply a matter of reorganizing the Estimates.
I have examined the list of our representatives abroad. I look in vain for a number of countries. I believe that we should do our best to be represented among, to speak to and to be associated with all people on the earth no matter what their political philosophies, no matter how bad their behaviour politically, and no matter what their general tendencies may be in international affairs because from that approach will spring the hope of the future. The Olympic Games in Melbourne three years ago were an example of the sort of spirit which should enter into international affairs. I look for a number of important nations in this list. Apparently, we have no representation in Spain, Hungary, Poland or Portugal. We have ‘none in China or Finland. If we have representation in Sweden and some other countries, it is very insignificant because the Estimates do not show that any significant sum has been expended there. All of this should be explicable even to honorable members of this chamber.
I make the point that was put very well by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell): The Department of External Affairs makes very little effort to explain its policies and place them before the Parliament or to bring reports before it. Such matters should be some of its most important functions. If we are the deliberative assembly representing the people of Australia, we should have access to all the facts. In the past few years, I have put numerous questions on the notice-paper asking the Minister for External Affairs about the internal affairs of other countries. I have been told that it is not appropriate to give the answers. Apparently there is some secret about these matters. We must have the same information about international affairs as we have about internal affairs.
In this connexion, I have no objection to the right honorable gentleman journeying overseas. It may well be that the Parliament and the people would benefit if we could send some parliamentary delegations overseas. At a recent Melbourne meeting, the question of Laos came up. I am frequently questioned about Laos, but I find it very difficult to get any information. I think that we could send parliamentary committees from Australia, especially to South-East Asia, to examine the position. We should have closer relationships with these people as is agreed by honorable members opposite. I point out to the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) that the whole field of foreign relations, so far as this Parliament is concerned, was initiated by the Labour Party when it was in office. That cannot be denied. It is nonsense to suggest that that has been this Government’s great production. It has been one of the developments of history and geography that in the past few years the Government has been able to extend the field a good deal, but the manner in which it has extended the field is capricious in the extreme. If Korea, Taiwan, and Cambodia are to have representation, equally it should be extended to the Chinese and the other nations I have mentioned.
So, I challenge the general expenditure of the Department of External Affairs. A vote of £2,500,000 is not much, relatively, in this national Budget. It is about the cost of one Boeing aircraft, so we are not causing a very great drain on our national wealth by spending some of it on international affairs. I question the information that is supplied to this committee. I believe we ought to reject this expenditure and the sort of policies that have been developed. The challenge of the time is to find some way across the barriers of the world and not in the way that this has been attempted by this Government.
I look particularly at Indonesia and India. We have a complex about China. We have forgotten that over its borders there is another nation almost as populous and probably with greater problems facing it and with more hope for the future The people of India are attempting to raise their living standards, and the Government of India, under Mr. Nehru, is attempting to do it by reasonably democratic means. The people of China are attempting it by totalitarian, means. We should be turning our thoughts and our attention towards India. We should be sending delegations and fact-finding commissions to look into its border disputes. We want detailed information - reliable information - before we can make up our minds. The decisions of this Parliament and the Government on international affairs involve everybody. I am disappointed and dismayed at the way we continually face international problems and crises without any appropriate basis of information.
The honorable member for Hume mentioned Tibet. Perhaps we should have had a full-scale debate on Tibet. What do any of us know about Tibet? What information has the Minister for External Affairs placed at my disposal so that I can make a decision on Tibet? My view is simple. I believe that anybody who crosses another country’s borders without an invitation is an aggressor and should be ejected.
– The honorable member should not ever come to Western Australia.
– The honorable member for Perth has amply demonstrated the difference between us. I, as an Australian, do not recognize its borders. The fact is that in the past ten or twelve years there has been very serious disregard of ordinary human rights, whether in Hungary or Tibet, Formosa or Algeria, Madagascar or Indonesia. We ought to have something more to- contribute than a miserable, sycophantic policy which does not make any decisions for this country, but means just another vote in power politics. That is the position the world is in at the moment. We, therefore, strongly oppose the policies promulgated by this Government. I want to see leadership from this nation, I want to see more information given in this Parliament, and I want to see the Minister for External Affairs here in this place, answerable for his actions and his doings, on every possible occasion.
.- Mi. Deputy Chairman, mav I first answer one or two comments made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). It is not necessary for me to go back into history, as he did. Referring to the comments he made on some of the statements of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), may I remind him that in the relatively short time I have been here I have heard many members from this side criticize and condemn the Colombo Plan. During his speech the honorable gentleman, in fact, contradicted himself on a number of occasions, especially during the peroration of his speech. He said then that he would not support the external affairs policy announced and carried out by this Government, but only a little while earlier in his speech he was praising some of the objects and aims of the Government’s policy. 1 wish to address myself to the estimates of the Department of External Affairs. I am very glad that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) mentioned the high standard of diplomatic representation which we enjoy abroad, lt does not seem curious to me that a great deal of the debate on these estimates tonight has centred upon South and SouthEast Asia, because that part of the world is becoming more important to the future of Australia. Indeed, I believe that the future of our country has become closely linked with the future of the countries in those areas.
The estimates for the Department of External Affairs remind us that we have embassies in Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Burma, and joint representation in Viet Nam and Laos. We have a legation in Cambodia, High Commissions in India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Malaya, and a mission in Singapore. As you know, Sir, quite a number of members of this Parliament, especially during recent years, have had the. opportunity to travel in those countries and I, in common with other honorable members, would like to pay a tribute, and say “ Thank you “ to the members of the staff of the Department of External Affairs who represent us in those areas. As one of those who had an opportunity to make a short visit to some of the countries of South and South-East Asia, I’ found it indeed a proud- thing to be an Australian, because wherever we went we found that there was a great feeling of friendship for Australia and a great interest in Australia. I believe that that is due in great degree to the work, the understanding and the objectives of the Government as enunciated by and through our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and is also due to the continued and excellent representation of Australia in those countries by members of the staff of the Department of External Affairs.
I relate this to the Estimates, Sir, because I believe that this is a case in which we are not providing sufficient money. On many occasions when we are debating the Estimates we find it necessary to criticize expenditure; but I believe that we could well consider increasing the amount of money that we make available to the Department of External Affairs for the administration of our foreign policy. In making that statement I know full well that it will have no effect on the current Estimates, but I think it is well to make such comments in advance of the preparation of the Estimates for the next financial year, when attention may be given to the matter.
As I say, I believe that it is necessary for us to increase the amount of money being made available to our offices in South and South-East Asia for the work that they have to do, and I have in mind, in suggesting this, the competition - if I may use that term- which we face from other nations which are more strongly represented in those areas, and which perhaps have not the same keen mutual interest in the countries of South and South-East Asia as we Australians have.
That is the first of the two things I wish to say. The second is also connected with the provision of funds. I ask for more money to be made available for visits by Australians to South and South-East Asia. I realize that, especially during the last few years, more of our Ministers - leaving the Minister for External Affairs out of consideration - have been able to visit South, and South-East Asia, as also have more members of this Parliament. I believe that those members have benefited from, their visits. I also believe that they contributed something to the countries that they visited. I say this, because I believe that the. Australian is a naturally good ambassador. Apart from the personal qualifications of visiting- Australians which appeal to the people of the countries visited, those people realize that Australia is interested, in that part of the world, that Australia, has no. imperialistic history, that Australia has no territorial ambitions and, therefore, that the interest we take is a mutual interest for mutual advancement and mutual protection.
In mentioning visits by Australians, I do not limit my suggestion to cover only Ministers and members of the Parliament, because a great deal of good can be done by members of Australian organizations also. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr: Erwin) earlier this evening mentioned the work that has already been done by international organizations, many of which have branches in Australia, such as Rotary and the Junior Chambers of Commerce. In addition to the work of these organizations there is the work being done by our own Australian organization, Apex. A contribution that Apex is making among the younger peoples there is the establishment of Apex clubs in various districts in those countries.
In the estimates for Miscellaneous Services, which we will be debating later, reference is made to the exchange of visits with South and South-East Asian countries, and an amount has been set aside for promoting an interchange of visits, not only between government representatives, but in the educational, cultural, social and humanitarian fields. I hope that we may bind up this part of the debate with the objects provided for under that division. I know that this is not strictly the time to debate this, Sir, but I believe the two things are so closely linked that we should give some recognition to that division while we are. debating the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. Having made the plea for extra expenditure under these two items, may I now give some of my reasons for doing, so?
The honorable member for Wills complained that he had little information regarding happenings in South-east Asia. As far as he and those who sit with him are concerned, the answer to that problem is to a great extent an easy one. For a number of years now members of the Opposition have been invited to join the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and on each occasion they have refused. To join the committee is one way to obtain more information. Another way, of course, is to make visits such as I have described, and also to read the various publications that come from those countries. But even if one is not able to do any of those things to a great extent, I believe there is general information available to those who wish to take an interest. That information can make us well aware of what is happening in Laos, in Tibet, on the frontiers of India, in Indonesia, and in Singapore. Perhaps what is happening in Indonesia and Singapore affects Australia more closely, in the short-term, than the happenings in other countries. However, in saying that I do not belittle the importance to Australia of what is happening in those other countries at the present time.
It is vital that we should take an interest in our neighbouring countries and understand what is happening in them. On 17th July, 1959, the official organ of the People’s Action Party in Singapore, which came to power in June this year, stated -
When the People’s Action Party assumed office on the 5th June, 1959, for a period of live years, we understood clearly that we had embarked upon a gruelling test, under the most exacting of circumstances. The test is to make democratic socialism work in an entrepot economy, under conditions of semi-independence.
That is written under a headline in heavy black letters “ Democratic Socialism - A Five Year Test”. The newspaper stated further -
For us, the stake is happiness, welfare and wellbeing of our one and a half million inhabitants, and, indirectly, that of our seven million kinsmen in the Federation with whom we share a common destiny. For the Federation the stake is, can Singapore still be a stable and efficient port for Federation imports and exports, and whether a Left wing Government in Singapore will co-operate with the Federation Government to maintain the security of the whole of Malaya. For the Indonesians, the stake is whether a nationalist Government in Singapore with powers limited to internal affairs and only trade and cultural relations will be able to give them more co-operation in sincere friendship. . . . For the British, the stake is the security of their bases in Singapore. . . .
I should also like to quote from the same newspaper of 15th August, 1959, portion of an article on Singapore’s civil service. It stated-
Few people in Malaya understand how vital it is for the survival of the democratic system to have a strong and efficient civil service to carry out the will of an elected Government.
The newspaper proceeded to take stock of Singapore’s position, describe its civil service, and then stated -
The result has been that the few men who were recruited before the war and the much younger men recruited after the war suddenly found themselves lifted into positions of higher authority in th civil service as a result of the vacancies created by Malayanisation.
The newspaper stated that the present holders of civil service positions in Singapore are most loyal and honest to the Government that they serve in the tradition of a neutral civil service. It added -
Our business is not to quarrel and punish the civil servants, but to educate them politically and make them more effective instruments of policy. . . . 1 have read from those newspaper reports to prove my argument, not in an unfriendly way, but, I hope, in a most friendly way, that it is necessary for us to increase our personal contacts with those people who are presently engaged in their experiment in democratic self-government. We must talk with them and discuss with them our own experience over a period of years and so help them along the way to true democratic government, a democratic way of life and, as they say, democratic socialism at work. That is why at the beginning of my remarks to-night I made a plea for extra funds to be made available not only for our representation overseas but also to enable more honorable members to visit some of these countries so that we may have a better understanding of them.
.- I should like to join with other honorable members who have protested against the absence of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) during this important debate. Somebody said that he is not game to come here. One can understand that his duties call him overseas frequently but it is unfortunate that his absence from Australia on this occasion has coincided with the discussion of the estimates for his department.
It is most noticeable that members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has been spoken of to-night by Government supporters as an important committee, seem to adopt an entirely different line of thought from that adopted by the Government. There seem to be continual differences of opinion between the Minister and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who, incidentally, like the Minister, has been absent from the chamber while the Department of External Affairs has been under discussion. One would expect the honorable member for Chisholm to have something to say about these estimates, which concern vitally the committee of which he is chairman.
Honorable members opposite have asked why members on this side of the chamber have not joined the Foreign Affairs Committee. If all that the committee can accomplish is a conflict of opinion, it says very little for the committee which, after all, can only discuss matters that are referred to it by the Minister.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) spoke of the very high esteem in which the Government and the Minister for External Affairs were held overseas. He said that never before had Australia held such a high place in the councils of the world. Well, if one goes back to 1948 one will see that the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was then President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I suggest to the honorable member for Hume that that was the time when Australia and her Minister for External Affairs were held in the highest esteem ever in our history. It would be a great thing to-day if this Government could boast that its Minister for External Affairs held such high office. Perhaps if he could attend more to the wants of the smaller nations and spend more of his time amongst them, and perhaps if the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) could join him in travelling through those countries nearer to our shores, we could again look forward to a day when a representative of this nation would have the distinction of occupying such a high position in the United Nations.
The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) said that honorable members on this side of the chamber often referred to the starving millions in Asia. Then he mentioned India and spoke about the troubles of Pakistan. Perhaps I do not know as much about Asia as does the honorable member, who may have spent a lot of time in the countries that he mentioned, but if he is insinuating that India and Pakistan have not millions of hungry people, he is wide of the mark. Those countries, which are within the British Commonwealth, have millions of hungry mouths to feed. Those hungry millions demand something more than promises of help through the Colombo Plan. We must refrain from criticizing and we must refuse to allow our thinking to be conditioned by a fear of communism. We must get back to a line of thought directed towards doing the right thing by the hungry people of this world.
The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), who preceded me, criticized some remarks made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and said that he had heard criticism of the Colombo Plan by honorable members on this side of the chamber many times. I cannot recall, Mr. Temporary Chairman, any complaint by honorable members on this side about the Colombo Plan, except, perhaps, about its administration and the need for more help to the countries assisted under the plan, and except for suggestions that help should be given in ways different from those adopted, I well recall that, in a debate on the Estimates about four years ago, I advocated that technical aid rather than capital aid should be given. At that time, we were completely topsy-turvy in our allocations of funds as between these kinds of aid. It is good to see that we have now learned that technical aid is the more important of the two. New Zealand quickly discovered that, and, even though we have been a little late in doing so, we have at last discovered it, too. We are now spending more money on technical aid, and our emphasis on this kind of aid will reward us greatly. On this aspect of the matter, I agree with the honorable member for
Ballaarat. I have said .before, as he did, that railway rolling-stock, buses and similar kinds of equipment are of very great help to the countries to which they are given, but the people who see these things have no idea where they come from and no appreciation of what they really mean.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ technical aid “?
– I mean the exchange and training of personnel. Technical aid is directed towards the training of personnel rather than the provision of machinery. I do not say that machinery supplied to Asian countries under the Colombo Plan is completely wasted, but it is often not used to the best advantage.
Pakistan was mentioned earlier this evening. The capital is to be moved from Karachi to another site. We have spent a lot of money on an Australian project in Pakistan which is a great credit to the Australian Government officers associated with it. I refer to the construction of a pipe-line to take water from streams far afield to the dry and arid .areas near Karachi. Some of the expenditure on this project may prove to be wasted if the capital is moved, but I suppose that the city of Karachi will always exist and that the need of the surrounding areas for water will continue. However, in the light of the proposal to move the capital, the objectives of this water supply scheme could perhaps have been better achieved in another way, or perhaps the scheme will have to be duplicated in order to provide water for the new capital.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I often wonder whether we do not take ourselves a little too seriously in discussing places far afield when we debate international affairs in this Parliament and are told that it is necessary for the Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs and other Ministers to go abroad in order to participate in the councils of the world. I believe that we have a duty always to express our opinions, to point out the errors that we see, and to give a lead in ways that will help to solve problems that exist far afield, but Australia’s first task is to deal with problems at her own back door. For example, we ought to express our willingness to help the new government of Singapore, which is to be congratulated on the great task that it has set itself. However w.e may describe the political philosophy of that government - whether we call it democratic socialism, capitalism or anything else - the new Government of Singapore has set itself the objective of feeding the people of the island, giving them work and housing them. In short, it has set out to give them, at long last, the bare necessaries of life. Whatever may be the political philosophy of the Government of Singapore, that island is part of the British Commonwealth, and we, as fellow members of the Commonwealth, should offer our hand in friendship and declare that we are prepared to help the people of Singapore to achieve the objective set by the new Government. Let us not take the attitude that it is following the line of democratic socialism, and that there is something wrong with it.
The honorable member for Hume said that there was no difference between the Communist and the socialist, or between communism and socialism; that it was only a. matter of a clean shirt. It is nice to know that the Prime Minister, at least, thinks differently. A short time ago, the right honorable gentleman spoke with great respect of the leader of the new Government of Singapore, and pointed out that, although he was .a socialist, there was no doubt that he was not a Communist. If the honorable member for Hume had a talk with the Prime Minister, perhaps he would learn that there is a difference between a socialist and a Communist. We on this side df the committee join with the .people of Singapore in hoping that their government’s objective will be achieved. We sincerely hope that the new Chief Minister will attain the objective of his government, irrespective of whether that government’s political philosophy is democratic socialism or something else, that objective being the attainment of a decent standard of living, and the provision of the food that the hungry people need and of the other things that are so urgently required.
Let me conclude, Mr. Temporary Chairman, on the note that I agree that we could perhaps achieve much by sending more delegations to the countries to our near north. I believe that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, through the interchange of delegations between various countries, plays a very important part in creating goodwill between nations, with particular reference to our neighbours in the near north. The conference that the association is to hold in Canberra later this year will help to carry on this good work. However, I should like to see more representatives of this Parliament go to the countries to our near north, mingle with the people there and help them by sponsoring delegations from the parliaments of Ceylon, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries, which could come to Australia with the assistance of finance from this country in order to learn something about our democratic way of life and develop respect for it. I believe that it is of no use to criticize these other countries. We must give them help because we realize that there is a need for us to give it. We should not be content to say, “We must do something to stave off communism. “ If we change that line of thinking, our Asian neighbours will appreciate our attitude much better. They will know that we intend to help them because we believe that justice and humanity demand that they shall not be denied the bare necessaries of life.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have noticed, during the debate this evening on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, some criticism of the fact that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is abroad at this time, and also of the fact that he is abroad for the second time this year. I, too, feel that it would be far better if the Minister were not abroad but could be in Australia for the whole of the time. Rut I think his absence is simply a result of the role Australia is playing in this year, 1959, as against the role it was called upon to play in pre-war years and perhaps the immediate post-war years. Australia had, prior to 1939, no need at all to frame its own foreign policy, for, I believe, three fundamental reasons. The first was the fact of our geographic isolation. Secondly, there was the existence of the Royal Navy, and, thirdly, there was the comparative weakness of those States and countries to the north of us, most of which were at that time under what could only be described as foreign domination. But these three circumstances have changed considerably in the last fifteen or twenty years, and it is becoming essential for Australia to frame its own external policy. It is, therefore, necessary for the Minister for External Affairs to journey overseas to a greater extent than was envisaged, probably, in pre-war years or in the immediate post-war years.
I would say that the time is fast arriving for a further ministerial appointment in Australia. We need what might be described as a “ Minister-at-Large “. Australia’s future is so closely tied up, as has been pointed out by speakers on both sides of the committee, with that of countries to the north of us, that it is almost a practical impossibility for a Minister to control his department in Canberra and to do also the things he ought to do in the countries close to us. Therefore I believe that we should appoint a kind of “ Minister-at-Large “ who would be a sort of external Minister on a public relations basis.
Let me say that I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), who said that he thought we were not spending enough money on the Department of External Affairs> To look at the Estimates for 1959-60 one would probably assume that a very large amount is being spent on the department, but I suggest that one should make a comparison with the amounts spent in earlier years. For this purpose I have looked at the Estimates for 1946-47. I make this comparison not with the idea of following the practice that has frequently been adopted in this chamber, by which supporters of one side say, “ You spent so much, and we have spent so much more; therefore we are twice or three times as good as you”. I am making the comparison merely to substantiate the point that, having regard to the changed value of money, we have not increased the amount spent on the Department of External Affairs, both in Australia and abroad.
Comparing the figures in the 1946-47 Budget with those in this year’s Budget, it can be seen that total expenditure has increased about threefold, while the increase in the Department of External Affairs is about three and a half times, ft should be remembered that when one is considering this particular department, it is very difficult, because of the changes in overseas posts and in the status of the various posts, to arrive at any accurate comparison of expenditure. The best approach that one can make is to look at consular representation in cases in which such representation has remained unchanged. In 1947 an amount of £13,200 was spent on consular representation in New York. The estimated amount for 1960 is £43,200, just over three times as much. When one considers again the total Budget figures for the two years, one finds that they tell their own story. Turning to an entirely different post, that in New Caledonia, representation there was estimated to cost £1,900 in 1947 and £2,750 in I960.
I realize that it is easy, with the use of figures, to prepare any kind of an argument. It can probably be said that there has been a change in the staffing of these places. But since the trend follows a fairly regular increase of three times the amount in the earlier year, I believe a fairly accurate picture can be obtained.
A study of the Estimates for 1947 and for 1960 leads to some interesting conclusions with regard to the way in which Australia is expected to maintain her overseas representation. In the short space of time between the two years I have mentioned, several legations have been raised to embassy status. We have embassies now in the United States of America, Soviet Russia, France and Brazil, and new embassies have been established in the Philippines, Thailand, Israel, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos and Indonesia. The establishment of embassies in these latter countries is indicative, of course, of the change that has come over the world. In the Estimates for 1947 one finds no record of any representation in these places. Most of those countries have since gained their freedom and taken part in the surge of nationalism that has swept our part of the world. It is interesting to see that during this period there have been been new high commissioners’ posts established in Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, Malaya and Singapore. I think that when one is criticizing the Department of External Affairs or successive Ministers for External Affairs^ it should be kept in mind that our Ministers have played no mean part in the granting of nationhood to some of these countries, and in raising their standards.
The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) criticized the Colombo Plan. Let me remind honorable members that Australia, as a participant in the Colombo Plan, has not the power of final decision with regard to what shall be done under the plan. Australia agrees to certain propositions. ~ We cannot suggest to. any participating nation what that nation shall do under the plan. The suggestions must come from the countries themselves. Although persons like the honorable member for Kingston and myself, and perhaps others in this Parliament, may believe that it is not in the best interests of a particular nation to have a fleet of buses, if that nation, under the Colombo Plan, asks for such a fleet and proves a fairly good case, then the Australian Government is in duty bound to supply the goods.
I personally believe, and here I agree with the honorable member for Kingston, that the greatest value of the Colombo Plan lies in the student training system. It is far better to bring a student to Australia, to be trained in a profession or trade and then to return to his country and assist in the raising of the standard of living of the people, than it is for us to send to that country a bus or a piece of machinery which the people, in many cases, have not the know-how to use. If we in Australia want to remain in this Pacific area as a predominantly European race and a nation of people deciding our own future, then I believe that we will get great assistance from the students who come here under the Colombo Plan. Some of them have been told before coming here - and some of them have believed it before they came - that this is a country of racial prejudice, and that this is evidenced by our immigration policy. But these students go back to their countries the finest ambassadors for Australia, because when they come here and do their training in the technical schools, colleges or hospitals, they find that they are treated as equals with the Australian people, and that there is no such thing as racial prejudice. This is the kind of contact that will pay dividends, not only to the countries from which the students come, but also to Australia in the future.
I believe it is important also, in the administration of the Colombo Plan, to refrain from adopting any patronizing attitude in regard to what we are doing. We must realize that this is 1959 and not 1859. The world has changed considerably, and what we do now might well decide our future in ten, fifteen or twenty years’ time. Of one thing I am certain; whatever might be thought of the Minister for External Affairs by this committee, in South-East Asia he is a man who is held in the highest esteem. Last year I was privileged to be in South-East Asia and on one occasion I spoke to a very prominent person in one of the countries in that area. He said that the finest quality that our Minister for External Affairs has is his colour-blindness. He cannot distinguish between white, black, brown or any other colour. If that is the result of the Minister’s administration of his department, he has earned the respect and admiration of every Australian.
I return again to the point made by the honorable member for Robertson, that if we are to accept greater responsibilities around the world and if we expect to be kept up to date on the movements of nations, we must expect a much higher expenditure through the Department of External Affairs than is shown in these estimates and that is comparable only with the expenditure that we were incurring some twelve years ago. Therefore, I believe that the Government should give every thought to this question to ensure that our overseas posts leave nothing that should be desired of an overseas post and that the men who are sent there, many of them dedicated to the job, are able to do the work to the best of their ability and in the best interests of this nation.
– The honorable member for Yarra .(Mr. Cairns) suggested that the West to-day is predominantly preoccupied with the diplomacy of investment finance and profit. If that is true, the West is finished, for to-day it is confronted with a force that is constantly preoccupied with the problems of power and the problems of taking power. I do not dispute his thesis; I say merely that if the West is preoccupied only with economic questions, it is finished and it is only a matter of time before it is completely finished. The statement that the other force is constantly preoccupied with the problems of power and the problems of taking power applies at absolutely every level of Communist activity. Whether it is a proposal for a unity ticket, which is their attempted solution of the problem of taking power in trade unions, or whether it is applied at the international level, they are constantly revising their methods and studying how to take power.
– It applies to capital.
– The honorable member for Yarra said that the West was concerned with making profits and that that is not a concern that, in the long run, will win the world because it does not win supporters. If that be true, it is indicative that the West has not made a clear study of the problems of getting power and it will not stand up to an opponent that has done so.
The feature that we see in Asia to-day is the constant revising of the technique of taking power. In 1948, when the Australian Labour Party was in Government in this country, we believed that Soekarno was not a Communist and that Indonesia should be given its independence. I think I am right in saying that both those propositions were disputed by the then Opposition. The Communists did seek to take over the Indonesian revolution. They sent a man named Muso, who had studied for 23 years under Mao Tse-Tung, to Indonesia, where he landed with 70 followers. His instructions were to change the revolution from a bourgeois nationalist to a Communist one. Soekarno arrested him and hanged him with his 70 Communist followers. The frontal assault on power having failed in Indonesia, the Communists cut their losses and sought to get power in Indonesia by other means.
In India, they advanced a proposition that the way to power was by taking the provinces and they were, in a sense, successful electorally in Kerala. The former Communist Chief Minister has stated that that approach was a failure and he has come to the conclusion that there is no power for communism in India until the Communists win the army. Obviously, if Nehru had the army and the Communist Chief Minister of Kerala had a parliamentary majority, the effort of the latter to hold power would not succeed in the event of any decisive clash. When the clash came, Nehru succeeded in ejecting the Chief
Minister. No sooner was the proposition that power should be taken in the army advanced - I should say it has been derived from their study of events in Iraq - than Krishna Menon became Minister for Defence in India, dropping his other portfolio. He started a new policy of sending Indian army officers for three months indoctrination in China, and I believe that that is the root of the present dispute in Indian army circles.
The Government has been accused by the Labour Party of a good many things. I frankly think that many of the accusations that have been directed against the Government have flattered it. I do not think that the Government has any clear or coherent policy on this China question or on the whole question of South-East Asia, lt has been accused by Opposition members of having a clear cut and definite policy which we believe to be wrong, but its policy is internally inconsistent. Through the South-East Asia Treaty Organization it actually took a stand on the basic proposition that Communist China is likely to be aggressive. That is the basis of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization; we seek to defend ourselves against aggression from Communist China through that organization. Then what happens? The countries in South-East Asia really do not know finally where the Government stands. They know that the Government is allied with them; they know that in the event of aggression some of their countries will take the first shock. The Government does not recognize red China, but nobody really knows where it stands on the problem of Taiwan. The Government has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Taiwan has an ambassador here; we have no ambassador there. The allies in South-East Asia do not know which way the Government will jump.
Then, although the Government said that it believes that Communist China is aggressive, it sent 20,000 tons of steel there in the year before the election, and that quite clearly furthers aggressive policies. While the Government accuses the Labour Party of not being clear on a number of issues in South-East Asia, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) advances in this chamber the philosophy that if we do not supply Com munist China, others will. We cannot get any answer to the question of whether the Government believes that genocide is taking place in Tibet; we cannot get any clear view from the Government as to whether it thinks that aggression is taking place in India; and we have no clear statement on Laos at all when there is a renewed effort to take power there immediately after Ho-chi-Minh returns to that area after having been with Mao Tse-tung.
What concretely the Government believes is happening in South-East Asia - whether it believes, as I think is quite clear, that all these things are manifestations of power moves emanating from Peking - we cannot find out. But one thing is perfectly apparent: Whatever the Department of External Affairs believes, the Department of Trade does not believe. It may well be that that is a manifestation of what the honorable member for Yarra has been saying, that the basic view is simply a concern with trade and profit and that there is no actual consistent following through of what has been the fundamental diagnosis which the Government claims it has made of the situation in Asia and which can be the only basis of such organizations as Seato.
However, I think that the honorable member for Yarra rather flatters Western diplomacy when he suggests that these financial policies are co-ordinated.
I have a friend who is a very brilliant linguist, and who lived in Cyprus until very recently. A leading Persian was visiting Cyprus, and went to see the president of the Trade Union Congress of Cyprus, which is affiliated with the Communist World Federation of Trade Unions. The president of the Cyprus Trade Union Congress is a Communist. My friend, speaking Persian and Greek, acted as an interpreter. The president of the Trade Union Congress of Cyprus said, “We will usher Cyprus behind the iron curtain within eighteen months, because the West will not have the intelligence to invest in Cyprus ideologically to solve the problems of Cyprus’s unemployment. The West will not be concerned, intelligently, with who is to have power in this island; the West will be concerned with the kind of investment that will give it a return. As there is no investment that will give it a return that will be the first reason why we will take over Cyprus. The others are that the left-wing Greeks will never agree with the right-wing Greeks, and neither will agree with the Turks.”
There is a very large American company which has invested 14,000,000 dollars in Cyprus. Half of its employees come from a Turkish village, and the other half from a Greek village. There has been a constant fomenting of trouble between the two groups, designed to produce despair in the company and cause it to withdraw its investment. In these circumstances, mass unemployment in Cyprus might well usher the whole population of the island behind the iron curtain in less than eighteen months.
But the feature which is fascinating about Cyprus, but which we do not regard as important, is its importance in the thinking of the peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean and in North Africa. The people who are concerned with advancing power have studied Cyprus as a sounding board for transmitting ideas. Clearly, it was a powerful means - or they thought it would be - for driving a wedge between Greece and Turkey; but more important is the attention which is riveted upon Cyprus m the Moslem world. Here is an area where Christians and Moslems live side by side. If this can be rendered unworkable, then tensions will be heightened throughout the Moslem world and throughout those areas - Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon - where the problem of Christians living with Moslems is a key one.
Frankly, I think the case made by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) can be overstated - that investing money is not everything. I am not suggesting that it is, and I do not think that what I have just said would indicate that I do, but certain tremendous gifts which the United States has made since the war have had an effect. For example, in the immediate post-war period, Eisenhower had the unusual quality, as a military leader, that caused him to divert a very large part of his transport to the simple problem of saving French children from direct starvation. Tremendous strokes like that, delivered by the United States, have determined that societies have not collapsed through chaos into communism.
That kind of action is important to-day. We have had a warning from the representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization, who was recently in Canberra, that the standard of food in Asia is deteriorating. Professor Arndt, in an article published last May in “ Nation “ has given this Parliament a warning of a new development that is taking place in world affairs, namely, a new international line that is being promulgated, that class war has now become race war. He points out that Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Europeans of South Africa constitute an aristocracy in the world to-day. He has shown also that the Australian basic wage earner has an income 70 or 80 times greater than that of an Indian and there is a greater disparity between him and the Indian than there was between the Russian aristocrat and the Russian peasant. This new line happens to coincide with the power interests of the Soviet Union which is designating certain Western Euorpean powers as potential imperialist enemies. One objective of the new line is to stress the racially privileged position of the West and that its technical advantages - I shall not say superiority, which implies racial superiority - <lue to its history is making it richer and richer and actually consolidating its own societies and properties within its borders whereas outside societies which are backward, technically, are falling further and further behind.
I want to warn the committee again because I honestly believe that the line taken by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is a menace and ls at variance with the policy of the Department of External Affairs. I want to warn that the question of food and the distribution of food services is vital.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is most pleasing to see an increase in the estimated expenditure of the Department of External Affairs of £252,847, plus an estimated expenditure in Miscellaneous Services of £253,000, and that a contribution of £425,000 will be made to the United Nations organization.
When we are considering the subject of external affairs, we should compare the position of Australia as it is now with what it was twenty years ago. As a result of increased speed of travel and the greater scope that is offered thereby the number of nations with which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and his departmental officers come into contact has considerably increased. A great responsibility rests upon the Minister in particular to make personal contact as frequently as possible with other nations.
It is the responsibility of the departmental officers and indeed of every one in Australia to offer the hand of friendship and understanding to all peoples of the world. I feel that in the past we have been honest, as a nation, in our negotiations with other countries. We must continue that policy so that reliance can be placed on the word of Australian statesmen, and the Parliament and people of Australia.
Another important factor in external affairs, which are virtually international relations, is the encouragement of the Australian people to be tolerant towards the customs and religions of all other peoples. Although such customs and religions may seem strange to us, ours must seem strange to them. We should try also to understand the way of thinking of other peoples with whom we come in contact. A very powerful movement is at work in the world to gain control of the minds of people. Australia can be of great assistance to neighbouring nations which do not enjoy our standard of living but which wish to improve theirs. I feel that we can help the people of those nations by imparting to them our technical know-how. By helping them to develop industries in their own countries we will be assisting them towards economic stability which will place them in a better position to trade with us.
We should keep our position among the nations of the world in its proper perspective. We should remember that, comparatively speaking, we are a young nation. We are growing and making for ourselves a place in the world. Not only the Department of External Affairs, but also each one of us has a responsibility to maintain friendly relations with countries that have a democratic form of government, and also with those which, although they do not, are already friendly towards us. Our relations with the rest of the nations of the world are of the utmost importance.
I should like to mention some of the organizations which play a supplementary part in our international relations. The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) have already touched on this aspect but I should like to enlarge upon it. Our athletes, our theatrical promoters whose visiting artists return to their own countries and give their impressions of Australia, and our own artists who have enjoyed wonderful success overseas and have become virtually ambassadors for Australia, all play their part. The service organizations, which are mainly international in character, are of great importance. I shall quote some figures to show the wide coverage of these organizations. Rotary has 10,120 clubs in 111 countries and 485,000 members, all of whom contribute substantially towards a better understanding of the world’s peoples and their customs. The extent of the work of Rotary is illustrated by the fact that it has 11,000 exchange and foundation fellowship students who have been exchanged between countries. These exchanges have been financed by members of the individual Rotary clubs. In my home town of Wangaratta, the Rotary Club organizes visits to the town each week-end of two students, usually Asian students. Members of the club take these students into their homes so that they may mix with their families and friends, and become familiar with the various facets of Australian life. This programme which is being followed throughout Australia is of extreme importance to the development of better relations with the people with whom we are most concerned - our near neighbours to the north.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) referred to the gift of buses to Indonesia. Strangely enough, last week the Indonesian students who were visiting Wangaratta mentioned how appreciative the Indonesian people were of Australia’s gift of 100 buses. They said that they could certainly do with more.
– I hope the honorable member did not mention the donation tags.
– The students themselves mentioned the donation tags. They thought it was a great idea for affix donation tags because the people in Indonesia had said that Australia must be a wonderful country to donate the buses to them.
Another organization worthy of mention is Apex which originated in Australia and now has 300 clubs. Apex has extended its activities to Ceylon and India, and has contributed in a material way to the relief of people suffering from leprosy in Ceylon. In university vacations the various Apex clubs throughout Australia arrange for Asian students to go to members’ homes. By this means the Asian students are assisted in their efforts to fit themselves into the Australian way of life. This will result in a breaking down of the prejudice that now exists in Australia towards people who are not of our colour. Rotary, Apex, the Jaycees and the Lions hold a world congress each year in a different country so that young people may mix together. Nothing but good can come from such activities which must play an important part in effecting a better understanding throughout the world.
The Jaycees is a world organization with 250,000 members in 80 countries. There are over 6,000 members in Australia, and in Queensland the members provide scholarships for Indian students. The organization also encourages international correspondence between children who after all are the ones who will have to live with each other in later life. The organization in Melbourne is also assisting Asian students.
The Lions club is another of the important service organizations. It is in operation in 87 countries of the world and the functions it performs are similar to those performed by the other clubs to which I have referred.
The efforts of the members of these organizations are extremely valuable in that they indicate to the peoples of the world that we are prepared to be down to earth and to mix with them on a common level. That is the way it should be. I am certain that the Parliament is extremely grateful for the work - I might even say, the silent work - that these service organizations perform. It is interesting to note that in the code of ethics and ideals of these bodies the words “ international fellowship “ have the highest priority, so the organizations must contribute substantially to understanding among the peoples of the world, particularly the young people. The work done by these organizations in Australia is designed to assist the Minister for External Affairs, the Department which he administers, and the Parliament generally in making Australia as safe as it can be made, and to place it among the nations of the world as a country that is prepared to play its part in helping the cause of peace. If at any time these organizations need some financial assistance, I entreat the Government to supply it because the work of the clubs is being done now at very little cost to the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to raise, once again, the question of the use of short-wave bands by amateur radio operators throughout Australia. I last mentioned this matter in the Parliament some two or three years ago. We were given an assurance then by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) that this question would be dealt with on an international level. In fact, a conference was held by what is called the International Telecommunications Union to decide what space on the spectrum - I think that is what it is called - should be made available to amateur broadcasters.
Although the conference did reduce somewhat the amount of space previously available in Australia, a body known as the Frequency Allocation Sub-Committee, or Fasc, decided to allocate a smaller number of bands than had been agreed to by the international conference. At the time, the Postmaster-General stated that this was a very complicated and complex matter. I agree that it is. I do not fully understand it and I am now speaking at the request of, and on information supplied to me by, the amateur radio operators in Australia. The Minister said that because it was a complex question, and because neither he nor the Government - by which I presume he meant the Cabinet - knew anything about the matter, they would have to be guided by what their departmental advisors told them. If that were true, I would agree that that probably is all they could do. But I do not believe it is true.
For example, there is in this Parliament a member who probably knows as much about the question, both on the technical and the practical sides as anybody in the Postmaster-General’s Department. I do not know why the Government did not seek his aid. I refer to the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), who, in a very briet period, was able to explain to me the rudiments of the problem sufficiently for me to be convinced thai, given anything like a reasonable briefing on the subject, I would be able to grasp enough of the fundamentals to be able to make an intelligent decision.
I have a feeling that the heads of the department to which the Government referred this matter, knowing that the Government had admitted that it did not understand the problem, and believing that the Government was too tired to try to understand it, decided to guide the Government not along proper lines but along convenient lines for the officers concerned. The Government should recognize that the amateur radio operators in Australia carry out a very important function.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad that the honorable member for Macmillan agrees with that. Any one who knows what these people do on a purely voluntary basis, for their own amusement in some cases and, in others, for their own enlightenment and education, will have to agree that if it were not for amateur operators throughout the world our scientific knowledge would be very much less than it is to-day. In Australia there are 3,800 licensed amateurs. In the United States of America, there are 150,000.
– There are 188,000.
– I am pleased that the Minister knows that much, even if he does not know anything about the technicalities of the matter.
– Who said that I did not?
– You said it.
– I did not.
– I am very glad that you can correct me on this. I hope that when you reply you will be able to make it quite clear that you know all about it, and that you recognize the importance of preserving to these people the amount of space that they now have. The trouble- with Fasc is that it is not a government organization. It is a body that makes recommendations to the Government. The body consists of those who use most of the space available for shortwave broadcasting. It has representatives of the armed services, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and the Telecommunications Commission. Those people who use the greatest amount of space are the ones who decide what amount is to be left over for the amateur radio operators for whom I am speaking to-night. We should remember that these people, acting in a purely voluntary capacity, provide a nucleus of trained radio operators, skilled technicians, and very able instructors for national emergencies in which the special resourcefulness, ingenuity and initiative of the keen, trained man, eclipse that of the man who is merely trained. The Government should recognize that these people provide emergency communications, as was amply shown in the flood-ridden Hunter valley of New South Wales not long ago. They have been of vital assistance, as I said earlier, in scientific research, by virtue of their scattered locations. They are in every part of the globe, and they can provide data for the study of the ionosphere and the tracking of earth satellites which would be absolutely impossible to obtain from any other source. Everybody admits that if it were not for the assistance given by amateur radio operators all over the world, the task of tracking earth satellites, which has been so terribly important to science, would have been utterly impossible, or would never have been achieved in the way that it eventually was achieved.
Not by any means the least important point is that an amateur broadcasting licence is the only means by which a private citizen may obtain the right to transmit for his personal education and entertainment.
The aims of the respective operators, of course, are varied. Some just keep in touch with friends in other parts of the world, simply talking to them. Others endeavour to contact an amateur in every country, thus adding to the general knowledge of broadcasting that we possess. Others aim to hold conversations over the greatest possible distances using the shortest possible wavelength. Others experiment with many and varied forms of equipment and merely use their amateur privilege to test their worth. Whatever their primary aim, the result is the same - an improvement in equipment and technique.
When I raised this matter previously I said that I felt the Government should invite some representatives of the amateur operators to sit on Fasc in order to assist in formulating the advice that was to be given to the Government. If I may offer a word of advice to those people - and I do this as a result of my own knowledge of sitting on Government advisory committees - it is this: The less they have to do with the advisory committee the better.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have risen to-night because the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has introduced a matter which is dear to my heart, as it is to the hearts of many other honorable members. In a matter of this kind, I do not mind making common cause with the Opposition. The International Telecommunications Union is now in session in Geneva and is dealing not only with this matter - because it is of a minor character on such an agenda - but also with many allied subjects. The House is well aware of the discussion that took place both inside and outside the chamber during the last sessional period on this particular subject of frequency allocations for amateurs in Australia.
Speaking for myself, I took great satisfaction in the undertaking given to honorable members on both sides of the House by responsible officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department that if the International Telecommunications Union conference did not reduce the world-wide reser vations for amateurs below those existingin Australia at this time, then the Australian amateurs would not lose any of the frequency bands they now occupy, because, on the occasion of the last International Telecommunications Union conference, when world reservations were made, we in Australia reduced them still further by local option at home. So the Australian amateur found himself in a position where he was suffering conditions which were something less than those imposed on almost any other country. I thought that in a country like this, which is developing industrially, which is rapidly developing its lines of communication with other countries and which stands in need of the goodwill that can come out of amateur radio, that was a very bad thing indeed.
Towards the end of the last sessional period, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who was the Acting Prime Minister at the time, gave an undertaking that the Government would consider another paper on this subject and instruct its delegation to the I.T.U. convention. I am not aware whether the Government has or has not reconsidered the matter, but I hope that it would be dealt with on a purely technical basis. In this country at the moment there is a difference of opinion between senior officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department - whose advice is taken by the Minister, I am sure - and many members of this Parliament and the Australian public as to the value of radio amateurs. When one surveys the proud record of amateur radio operators in peace and war, and when one remembers the contribution made to defence signals during the second world war when this country was given six months in time - and you cannot put a value on that sort of saving - one realizes that we ought to value our radio amateurs more than we apparently do.
But the question is not one of technicalities entirely. Of course they enter into it, but the real question is: What is the value of the radio amateur of Australia? With the sort of proposals that our delegation is at present taking to Geneva, there is every evidence to indicate that the PostmasterGeneral’s administration does not, in the opinion of this House, value radio amateurs sufficiently. It is quite true that there is a great demand for radio frequency channels. Unhappily, in this early stage of radio’s existence, we are running out of frequencies. That is bad business indeed and points to the need for a great deal more experimentation into that area which is at present not much used. I cannot help directing the attention of the House to the fact that the Americans, in a country about the same size as our own, somehow manage to operate 1,500,000 licensed stations of one classification or another. I forget the figure applicable to Australia but I think it might be 18,000 oi 25,000 stations. It is so small in comparison with the number of stations that the Americans have been able to license and operate satisfactorily on the same frequency channels that we employ that I believe we have not paid sufficient attention to the technical conditions under which all our radio services operate.
It lends point, I believe, to the suggestion I have made in this House on previous occasions that it is high time the telecommunications of this country were removed from the control of the Post Office and placed under a completely independent commission. In the United States of America, this has been found to be an extraordinarily workable system. When I look at the difference between the method of handling these matters in the United States and here, I cannot help coming down heavily on the side of an independent commission.
I join the honorable member for Hindmarsh in a protest against the fact that the Frequency Allocations Sub-Committee which is basically the source of the Minister’s advice on this particular subject of allocations, should be composed entirely of major users of frequencies. I made the point before - and I make it again because I think it cannot be stressed too strongly - that the major users of frequencies when appointed to a committee of this sort would be less than human if they did not serve their own departmental interests first. I wonder who speaks for the public in matters of this kind. Although we have moved into an extraordinarily commercialized world. I think it would be an extraordinarily bad thing philosophically if there were no place on the radio frequency spectrum which lies peculiarly in the public domain for the people who want to carry on private communications, not entirely for their own benefit but for the benefit of the country and telecommunications.
There is still time - because the conference will sit for months - for the Government to reconsider this matter and to raise the value of the amateurs in the minds of Government officers. The Government can still instruct its delegation to Geneva that its members are not to press their proposals for reductions in frequency bands. It is very important to know that all the evidence that is coming to hand from abroad seems to indicate that the major countries - the United Kingdom, the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and so on - will not press for reductions. It seems an odd thing that a country like Australia - a big country sparsely populated and having a great use for radio frequency channels - should be the one country to press for a reduction. I believe that our department has not paid sufficient attention to the technical conditions under which these stations are licensed. In other words, we are not using the most modern radio frequency techniques. 1 believe if the whole matter came under close scrutiny, we would find we could pack many more services into the radio frequency spectrum and not find ourselves obliged to reduce this valuable body of people who, while serving their own scientific interests, at the same time provide a magnificent reservoir of ready-trained, capable, intelligent and patriotic Australian technicians.
.- The last two honorable gentlemen spoke about frequencies. I want to speak about inconsistencies. I think that speeches made in this chamber over the last two or three weeks would indicate that there is a widening breach among Government supporters in this House over the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that the announcement of the restoration came almost immediately after the last general election; but that is in keeping with the Liberal Party’s habit of deliberately deceiving the people at election times about its intentions in regard to this matter. No doubt the Liberal Party was also scared of losing the support of the Democratic Labour Party.
The Australian Labour Party has never tried to conceal its policy of recognizing Russia and other such nations. By doing so, we do not suggest or advocate the acceptance of their ideologies or their politics. The Australian Labour Party’s policy is prompted by a desire to maintain world peace and ensure the advancement of the Australian economy. If we trace history back a few years, we will discover that at the time of the rape of Hungary the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), senior Ministers and many Government supporters made impassioned speeches in this House in which they described the Russians as “ murdering monsters “, and said that they were butchers and destroyers of liberty and freedom. At that time we of the Australian Labour Party were accused of treading the Communist path, of being fellow-travellers. Now what do we find? Only recently the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) was fraternizing and drinking vodka with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister on the Gold Coast of Queensland.
More recently, we discover the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) wining and dining with the newly arrived ambassador from Russia. If a Labour man or a trade union official fraternizes with a Communist, he is a fellow-traveller. Not so long ago it was so bad that if any Labour member sported a red tie in this House some of the members on the Government side would say jokingly that we were more or less Communists or fellow-travellers. I noticed that recently, at the Royal Ball, the Prime Minister sported a bit of red underneath his chin. It was partly hidden by his second chin, but still, it was there for every one to see.
If we examine the position in regard to red China, what do we find? The Minister for External Affairs - and I take it that he speaks on behalf of the Government - says that Australia will not recognize red China. On the other hand, we have the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr.
McEwen), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party, making the following statement on a television programme in Melbourne: -
I think if the Communist Government remains the Government - and I see no reason why it should not - it will be recognized as the de facto government of the Chinese mainland.
Surely that indicates a wide divergence of opinion between the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party on whether red China should be recognized. It is positively proved that this Government is fostering and advancing trade with red China. I shall give some figures to substantiate that statement. In 1957-58 we exported to red China goods valued at £9,768,000; in 1958-59 the value of our goods exported to red China rose to £13,876,000- an increase of £4,100,000, or over 42 per cent., in one year. Our steel exports jumped from a value of £109,000 in 1957-58 to £6,078,000 in 1958-59- an increase of nearly £6,000,000. Fortunately for us, Mr. Speaker, the Chinese have promised that this steel will never be used against us in a case of emergency, and that the wool that we sell to them will never be used in the manufacture of clothing for the Chinese red Army. We can rest assured that they will keep their word!
Many Government supporters - not all of them, but some of the red-baiters, the malicious types who have smeared the party on this side of the House and called us fellow-travellers because of our views on the recognition of red China - are worth examining in regard to this matter. Let us look at a report that appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 1st August of this year under the heading -
The report stated that Young Liberal delegates from 43 branches carried a motion calling for recognition of Communist China. It said -
More than 400 Young Liberals attended the annual convention of their organization. . . . Mr. Ross Barwick–
Where have I heard that name before? - son of the Federal Attorney-General, . . . and Mr. Richard Joel . . . clashed on the question of recognition of Communist China.
Apparently Mr. Barwick’s argument was not sound, because Mr. Joel bowled him over in no time. The report on what Mr. Joel had to say read -
He said non-recognition of Communist China had no effect on the development of that country and it was foolish and bigoted–
I hope the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and Moreton (Mr. Killen) listen to this one - for any one to take the attitude that it should not be recognized. . . .
Mr. Speaker, I am really appalled and alarmed at the fact that we have a responsible Government in this country which is riddled with fellow-travellers. Those people would dare to recognize red China and dare to trade with red China. We now see that the Prime Minister, the members of his Cabinet, you, Mr. Speaker, and all of the people who support the Government, have joined the ranks of the fellow-travellers.
.- I support the contention of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that the Government should instruct our representatives to the overseas convention about to be held that the representations of amateur radio broadcasters shall be heeded and that the rights of the members of their organization shall be respected and maintained. I am not quite so happy as some honorable members seem to be about transferring the activities of a section of the Postmaster-General’s Department to an independent commission. I was a member of the original Gibson committee in 1941 and I think that if there are any complaints to be investigated in regard to broadcasting of any sort they ought to be investigated by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting provided for in the Act. The committee, which sat from 1942 to 1949 has not been allowed to function by the present Government. I think that the Government would find itself in much less difficulty with its numerous backbenchers if it gave them something to do on committees of this sort, and I commend the idea to the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). I hope he will respect the Act of Parliament or, if he does not intend to do so, that he will at least repeal it.
I want now to say a few words on a publication that is called–
– You got a copy too, did you?
– Yes. I do not know what is on the honorable gentleman’s mind, but I suppose that is an overstatement. There is a publication circulating in Australia called “ Teens Today “. It is printed by a firm, K. G. Murray Pty. Ltd., that specializes in pornography. It is a Sydney publication - not that there is any more vice in Sydney than anywhere else. The PostmasterGeneral may be interested in this matter of allowing publications of this sort to go through the post. K. G. Murray Publishing Company Proprietary Limited publishes “ Man “, “ Man Junior “, “ Adam “ and similar pieces of filth. It secured a copy of an American publication called “ Teens Today “, published by the American company, McFadden Publications Limited. The McFadden show in America is just as bad as the Murray show in Australia. The Murray show purloined - stole - the whole of the American publication and circulated it amongst Australian youth.
Our problem of juvenile delinquency is bad enough at present. Possibly it is not much worse than it was in previous generations, but it seems to be worse to-day. Our problem is being aggravated by the publication of stuff coming from the Murray press. It is found that “ Teens Today “, circulating widely throughout Australia, claims to reveal what Australian boys genuinely think about girls, love, dating, &c. The magazine which is published in Australia by the Murray company and circulated by Gordon and Gotch (Australasia) Limited is revealed now as a hoax, a fraud and a gigantic lie.
– Don’t you believe it?
– Believe what?
– What you read.
– I do. I am paraphrasing it. The honorable gentleman may not be able to read, and if he would like to know I will tell him later what paraphrasing means.
The publication that I have in my hand is called “ New Youth “. It is a publication dedicated to the task of building a new
Australia. It is published by the Young Christian Workers and is registered at the General Post Office, Melbourne, for transmission by post as a periodical. The story as I have read it shows that the K. G. Murray company merely changed the names of the people in the American publication and gave them Australian names.
– Local cohabitation.
– Put it that way if you like. Artie Sterling from Los Angeles becomes Alan Sterling from Western Australia. A sixteen-year-old from Topeka becomes a sixteen-year-old from Victoria. On page 15 of the American publication these words appear - “ I figure girls think of a first date that way, too,” a junior from Colombus, Ohio, said flatly.
In the Australian publication these words are used - “ I think girls consider a first date that way too,” a high school boy from New South Wales said flatly.
Another page of the American publication reads -
A senior from Mississippi made this comment . . .
In the Australian publication that is made to read -
A University student from South Australia made this comment . . .
So it goes on. Jim McNeil, a senior from the South-west; Artie Sterling, a junior from the West Coast; Dutch Engle, a Middle West sophomore, and Joey Morris, a freshman from the East Coast become Jim McNeil, a university student from the South-west; Alan Sterling, doing his final year of high school in Western Australia; Peter Engle, a Victorian senior high boy, and Joey Morris, a junior high school boy from New South Wales.
My protest is against the publication of this sort of stuff anyhow. I also protest against the outright stealing of this overseas rubbish from a debased American publication and putting it out as if it were the result of a survey taken after an investigation among a number of Australian boys and girls. I do not think that a publication of this kind pays any tribute whatever to Australian youth. The bulk of Australian youth are better boys and girls and have a much healthier outlook than a publication of this kind would have us believe. It depicts them in a pretty poor light and I think that honorable members should use their influence and add whatever weight they can to the protests that are being made about the publication in Australia of such rubbish, sometimes miscalled literature. It is bad enough for a firm like K. G. Murray Publishing Company Proprietary Limited, which is a well-known firm, to publish the stuff, but it is very reprehensible for a reputable firm like Gordon and Gotch (Australasia) Limited to consent to the publication of what it knows to be a fake. Mr. Illingsworth, a director of Gordon and Gotch, was acquainted with all these facts, and yet the publication continues. It looks as if Gordon and Gotch has sunk to the same level almost as the K. G. Murray company.
I know that human nature is the same the world over. We all are children of our first parents. They fell very grievously and we are suffering over the generations that have followed since. I am not protecting the evils that exist in Australia, but I do not want to import any from America. I think that indigenous indecency is quite sufficient and we do not want to take the stand that indigenous indecency is insufficient.
– I wish to refer to dismissals from the Department of Works in New South Wales. This matter has been raised on three occasions in the last week during question time. On 25th August last, I asked the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth) whether it was a fact that dismissals were taking place at the Department of Works, and he replied -
I think that he-
Meaning myself - exaggerates the position. As far as I am aware, there have been few or no dismissals up to this time.
Then, in reply to my interjection that the number employed had been reduced from 2,300 in 1955 to 1,450 at present, the Minister said that he thought my figures were slightly astray. He said -
Irrespective of whether or not work is done by private contract, it will still require the same number of men if it is to be done efficiently.
In reply to a question by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), yesterday, the Minister said -
It is true that we will be dispensing with the services of some men in the Department of Works. So far as possible, an attempt is being made to place them in other jobs . . .
Mr. Speaker, following on the complaint that I made a few days ago, to which the Minister gave an evasive reply, I have received information that this week a further notice has been given of the dismissal of 50 tradesmen from the Department of Works. Furthermore, indications have been given that more dismissals, and probably greater in number, are to be given in the very near future.
Why have these dismissals to take place? Why are men, some of whom have served for as long as fourteen years with the Department of Works, to be dismissed in this way? The men themselves want to know why they are being dismissed. The officers charged with the act of dismissing them have been asked by the men why they are being dismissed. There is plenty of work to be done, yet tradesmen are being arbitrarily dismissed without explanation. No reasons for their dismissal are given. Officers are being told to get rid of 10 per cent, or so many men. It is not a case of singling out particular men because they are not doing a good job or because work is not available for them. It is simply a matter of issuing an arbitrary notice that so many men must be dismissed.
What is the reason for this? The reason given is that the Department of Works is handing over minor maintenance work to the client departments for them to do it themselves. The information given to me - and apparently given to the honorable member for Banks - is that the client departments, in a number of instances, have not the men, facilities, and equipment needed to undertake the work that is being handed over to them. They are pleading with the Department of Works to do the job itself, but that department apparently is not being allowed to do it.
What is the follow-up? The follow-up is this: The client departments are apparently then being told that they must hand the work over to private contractors. So this seems to be the means of reducing the number of men employed in the Public
Service. There is work waiting to be done, and good men who are capable tradesmen and about whose efficiency and working capacity no complaint has ever been made are there to do it; yet they are being driven out of their jobs 50 at a time simply in order that work may be put in the hands of private contractors! What is the position in respect of minor maintenance work done by private contractors? Much of this work, by its very nature, is emergency work entailed by the breakage of glass windows and doors, and so on. It often occurs at week-ends and the private contractor is telephoned and given the job to do on a do-and-charge basis. No tenders are called. No tenders could be called in an emergency like this. And so the work is done. The private contractor puts in his price, and that seems to be all there is to it.
Some of the supervisors in the Department of Works claim that, in quite a substantial number of cases, they have to go back after the private contractors have finished and make further repairs as a result of inefficient work by the private contractors under this system. A further irritation is that, although good tradesmen from the technical staff are being dismissed, there are no dismissals from the top-heavy administrative staff. These technical men complain that they are being plagued by so-called efficiency experts from whom they receive all sorts of what they describe as silly requests for statistical information about how far a job has proceeded and how many weeks it will take to complete, and requests for percentages and all sorts of silly information that does not mean anything to the men on the job. I merely voice the complaints that I have received. I am unable to vouch for these things beyond the complaints that have been made to me. The general complaint is that all these kinds of information are required from the technical staff without any explanation being given to indicate the purpose of these inquiries.
Is it any wonder in the circumstances that the morale of these men and their feeling of security have apparently reached an all-time low? They have apparently approached various members of Parliament about the matter, so strongly do they feel. I hope that the Minister for Works will consider seriously and sympathetically our request that the matter be examined urgently. The Minister apparently does not know what is going on, or, if he does, he is certainly avoiding giving the House the information that we seek. I quoted to him the other day a contention by the technical men themselves that, in 1955, there were 2,300 men on the maintenance staff, that the number has been reduced to 1,450 to-day, and that further arbitrary dismissals are to be made 50 at a time, some of the men concerned having already been given notice this week.
So I make the plea that I have made. This matter deserves urgent consideration, first, because the livelihood of the men and their dependants is involved. Quite a substantial number of men is concerned. Secondly, is this minor maintenance work the sort of thing that should be handed out to private contractors when tenders cannot be called, when the client departments have not the supervisory staff needed to ensure that proper work is done for the money, and when the morale of the men on the maintenance staff of the Department of Works has reached a regrettably low level? I ask the Minister to consider my request in this matter urgently.
– in reply - I looked round the chamber, Mr. Speaker, and, as no one else had risen, I felt that, even though the hour is a little late and my throat is not in good condition, I could perhaps be allowed a few minutes to reply to the points put forward by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) concerning the position of amateur radio operators in respect of the forthcoming international telecommunications conference and the allocation to them of certain frequencies in the radio spectrum. This is not a new subject, Sir. It is one which has been debated at considerable length and on which a great number of representations has been made by members of both Houses of the Parliament’ over quite a period. I have replied to those representations very fully indeed, not only in this House, but also by way of letter to honorable members who have written to me on the matter. This is a subject on which, some little time ago, pressure tactics were used in considerable force, and those tactics have been replied to.
I felt that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was, to a certain extent, trying to get on the band-wagon when he came into the discussion on the subject this evening. His attitude seemed to be that, although it was not a subject to which he had applied himself, he would have something to say about it since it had been referred to previously. He confined himself more or less to the statement that he believed that the rights of radio amateurs should be acknowledged and maintained. That is not the question at all, Sir. There is no question about our acknowledging the rights of amateur radio operators to a certain place in the spectrum and their claim to the maintenance of those rights. Those things have been acknowledged in many of the replies which I have given to those who have written to me. I have stated categorically - and I repeat it again now - that the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Government have no intention, despite what has been suggested by some of the critics, of gradually squeezing amateurs out of the frequency spectrum.
I ask the House to note, Sir, that the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and even the honorable member for Paterson, with whom I have had many discussions on this matter, have stated quite categorically that they speak for the amateurs. They have said that, over the years, the amateurs have established a nucleus of trained operators of great value to Australia in times of stress and trouble. That is acknowledged, but let it be realized immediately that the amateurs are not the only ones who train radio operators. We have, not only in the department, but also throughout the services, a system which is steadily developing throughout Australia a team of people who are very competent indeed in all aspects of radio work, and who can serve and are serving Australia. So it is not a case of the preservation of a service which cannot be provided by any other organization.
If you approach the matter from that standpoint, Sir, you will realize that it is not a question simply of maintaining the position of amateurs. For the Government, the department and myself, it is a question of preserving the very proper rights of many other users of the spectrum. For the information of honorable members generally, I want to cite some figures to show just how widespread are the ramifications of this problem, what attention is being given to it by all those who are responsible for solving it, and exactly how great has been the expansion of the demand on the frequencies available in the spectrum made by all organizations throughout Australia which operate radio services, and not just by the amateur operators. These other organizations have just as much right as have the amateurs to a place in the spectrum, to coin a new phrase. I shall give the comparative figures for the years from 1947 to 1959, Sir. I will take first the aeronautical field, leaving out the actual aircraft services entirely, that is to say, the requirements of the Department of Civil Aviation for navigational purposes and all sorts of things like that. In the aeronautical field, we were required to provide 59 services in 1947. That requirement now has extended to 172 services - about three times the requirement in 1947. In the case of aircraft themselves, and the provision of navigational aids and that sort of thing, which are so essential for the preservation of the safety of people when flying, the demand increased from 168 in 1947 to 426 in 1959.
The demands of the amateurs increased from 2,036 services to 3,773 - which was not nearly so great an increase as in the other cases. I shall not go right through the list, but I shall give honorable members the major items. There are the coastal services, the radio stations that provide the shore-to-ship requirements of those who go to sea. The Overseas Telecommunication Commission services provide a warning service to the ships on our coasts. The demand in that field has gone up from 132 to 164. Then there are what we call our outpost services, which include the Flying Doctor network and other services in the outback. They are the fixed internal services. The demand there during the period from 1947 to 1949 went up from 638 to 2,618. In the case of Government depart ments, such as forestry departments, the Overseas Telecommunication Commission itself, the police and all those bodies which have developed and now demand the use of radio in order to service all that they are doing, the demand has gone from 928 to 8,698.
Then there are the people who are using radio for commercial and industrial purposes. On many occasions honorable members of this House and members in another place, and people from outside, write to me saying, “ I want a frequency allocation for a taxi cab company “, or, “ I want a frequency allocation for a fishing company “. A fishing company may want a radio service in order to communicate between the shore and the sea, to communicate with its boats to tell them when to come in or to find out what catch they have made. This type of service is developing. In 1947 there was no demand from this sector, but in 1959 the demand had gone up to 13,000 odd.
Without going through the long list, let me tell the House that the demand for the use of the frequencies available in the spectrum has gone up from 4,258 in 1947 to 31,284 in 1959. There is the problem in essence, Mr. Speaker. The committees to which the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred somewhat slightingly, the Government and myself - those who have to go into this matter - are faced with the problem of trying to ensure that all reasonable and proper demands for the use of frequencies in the spectrum will be met. That must mean a rationalization of allocations, which took place a number of years ago. It is the purpose of this conference to see what can be done about rationalization. Rationalization does not mean the cutting out completely from the spectrum of any one user; it means seeking ways and means whereby there can be a better spreading of the frequency to all users, so that we can continue to meet the demands of all the users, and not just one of them.
How are we going about this? The allocation conference is being held at the present time. In preparation for that conference, our own people responsible for these matters formulated a number of proposals to put to the conference. Those proposals were submitted to me, and I submitted them to Cabinet for approval. They were approved. The amateurs requested that their representative should sit in on the discussions on the Frequency Allocation Sub-committee. That request was granted. A representative of the amateurs sat in on the discussions which took place on the questions that we are discussing here to-night. Then a request was made that a representative of the Institute should be permitted to go with the delegation to Geneva and sit on the discussions there, without being a voting member of the delegation. This representative, it was said, would be able to advise the delegation and keep in touch with the discussions. That request also was granted, and a representative of the Institute is at present with the delegation. The delegation will return and report to the Government after having considered all these matters. Nothing will be done until the Government receives the report of the committee.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.46 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
How many appeals were there last year to the High Court from the Supreme Court in each Territory?
– The following table shows the number of appeals instituted and the number heard: -
on asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Six.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4.-
on asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
On what occasions has he (a) been invited to attend and (b) attended conferences of the State Health Ministers?
– During recent years the State Health Ministers have met in conference annually to discuss State health matters. It has been the custom to extend an invitation to the Commonwealth Minister for Health to be present at these conferences, and I attended the conference held in Hobart in January, 1957. Apart from these annual conferences I have met State Health Ministers on several occasions for discussions on various matters affecting Commonwealth-State relationships.
Repatriation Benefits for British Ex-servicemen.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will the Minister give consideration to a proposal that the Repatriation Act be amended to extend hospital and medical benefits to British ex-service personnel and former members of the British Mercantile Marine who are in receipt of war pensions and have taken up permanent residence in Australia?
– I have been advised by the Minister for Repatriation that provision already exists under section 119 of the Repatriation Act whereby medical benefits, including hospital treatment, for accepted war-caused disabilities may be granted to British ex-service personnel who are receiving war pensions under the legislation of the United Kingdom, and who are resident in Australia. As a result of arrangements between the Repatriation Commission and the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, provision is also made for similar medical benefits to be afforded to former members of the British Mercantile Marine who are in receipt of war pensions under the legislation of the United Kingdom, and who are resident in Australia. If such ex-service personnel had been domiciled in Australia immediately prior to enlistment in the United Kingdom Forces, they may receive, under the Repatriation Act, the same benefits as an ex-serviceman who had served in the Commonwealth Defence Forces. Likewise, a member of the British Mercantile Marine who was, or whose dependants were, resident in Australia for at least twelve months immediately before his entering into the agreement or indenture, may be eligible for medical benefits, including hospital treatment, in accordance with the provisions of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act.
Coal and Coal By-products.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
Development. Arising out of the report he made on his return, the board made three recommendations in regard to an examination of overseas development in techniques for processing coal. These recommendations are -
These recommendations have been approved by the two governments and the Joint Coal Board has initiated action on the whole three. I should add that this matter will receive attention by the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee which has been set up by the Commonwealth Government to look into all aspects of research into the utilization of coal.
a asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590902_reps_23_hor24/>.