23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral about arrangements for the technical servicing of rural automatic exchanges. I raise this matter ‘because I have had several cases recently in which some subscribers have suffered breakdowns of service, or the service given by the rural automatic exchange itself has become unsatisfactory. Although these faults have been promptly and repeatedly notified to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department delays amounting to several weeks have occurred before the faults have been rectified. As this is a most serious matter for people in isolated areas I ask the Postmaster-General to have a look at it. Are there perhaps insufficient technicians, or have the technicians to cover too much territory? Whatever the cause, will the honorable gentleman take steps to ensure that such delays in restoring service at rural automatic exchanges do not recur?
– I will certainly have a look at the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. I would be disturbed to find that delays lasting for several weeks, such as the honorable member mentioned, are in any way common. I do not think they are common, such delays may occur several times, but the practice, Mr. Speaker, is that technicians are stationed at key points throughout the country so that they may service the rural automatic exchanges which are established in their districts. It will be realized, Mr. Speaker, that in a district in which there are large distances to be covered it may be difficult for a technician to be on the spot immediately after a report of some trouble has been received, but it is the department’s policy to have available sufficient technicians to provide a reasonable and sound service for the rectification of faults. However, I shall certainly have the matter ‘ raised by the honorable member looked at. I should be glad if he would give me the details of any case about which he has information, so that a more thorough investigation can be made.
– I ask the Treasurer: Would the Commonwealth Government collect more income tax if the pay-roll tax were abolished? The question is not related to policy in any way. I have always understood that if the pay-roll tax were abolished, the Government would have to collect from other sources an amount equal to the payroll tax revenue, but I have now been informed that a different view has been strongly expressed.
– I do not know whether the honorable gentleman’s question has been inspired by a report of a statement attributed to an officer of the Taxpayers’ Association of New South Wales - Mr. Henley, I think. I can only assume that it was an inaccurate report of what Mr. Henley said. It has frequently been argued that if the Government were to abolish the pay-roll tax, the net loss would not be the total amount of the tax forgone, because additional profits would be earned by those who were relieved of the tax and the Government would receive extra income tax revenue from the companies or the individuals so affected. That contention is one which is capable of some debate, because much would depend upon whether the persons or companies so relieved passed on the benefit of the relief to the purchasers of the goods or services which they supplied. If the relief were passed on, the gain would be to the purchasers, not to the Government, and the loss of revenue would be complete. I had a very thorough analysis made of this matter at the time of the last Budget, and I have given some thought to it since. I would like, at some stage before we come to the next Budget, to supply honorable gentlemen with a detailed statement of all the aspects of this problem. One obvious aspect is that we have determined the basis of financial assistance grants to the State Governments to be applied over the next six years, and that the State Governments and their associated authorities are paying currently about £14,000,000 a year in pay-roll tax. Quite obviously, if the tax were to be abolished - if that were ever found practicable - some new arrangement would need to be entered into with the States. In view of the undertaking which the Prime Minister has given, and having regard to the claims on the Commonwealth Budget, as I visualize them, in the year ahead, I cannot see any scope for a reduction of taxation on anything like the scale which would be involved if the pay-roll tax were to be abolished or reduced. The whole question is one of policy, which I will not elaborate at this stage. I think it would be useful and instructive for honorable members of this Parliament, as well as for the general public, if they could be reminded of the origin of the pay-roll tax and of some of its ramifications.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question without notice. Does the claim by the Minister for Civil Aviation that the cut in the speed of Electras will add, on an average, only ten minutes to the time taken on interstate flights refer to the most recent instalment of the cut in speed, or to the whole cut from 405 miles an hour to 259 miles an hour? If the latter be the case, will the Minister clarify the means by which the calculation was made? In view of the fact that 259 miles an hour is slower than the cruising speed of Viscounts, will the Minister consider substituting Viscounts for Electras on the main flights on the major trunk routes? Is there any likelihood of the Government’s previous decision not to permit Australian airlines to import Caravelles being reversed?
– The honorable member’s question involves quite a lot of technical detail which I shall be pleased to obtain for him’ from the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– In addressing my question to the Postmaster-General I direct his attention to the fact that a good many years ago his department licensed certain persons to sell postage stamps, and paid them a commission on their sales. This provided a very useful service to private individuals, as well as to business firms, as persons wishing to purchase stamps after the normal trading hours of the Post Office do not always have the necessary number of pennies on hand to operate the slot machines at post offices. Will the Minister consider restoring the practice of paying commission to persons licensed to sell postage stamps so that more storekeepers may be induced to provide this service for the public?
– It was some considerable time ago - about 1930, I think - that the practice of paying a commission to licensed stamp-sellers was abandoned. We are still prepared to license persons to sell postage stamps, but we do not now pay a commission on sales. The question of renewing the payment of commission has been reviewed from time to time, but the department has felt that no justification has arisen for altering its decision to cease paying the commission.
One of the reasons for the department’s decision is that with the increasing services which the department provides through post offices, unofficial post offices, stamp-selling machines and the like, there are very few places indeed where a person wishing to obtain stamps cannot do so without any trouble. A second reason is that when the practice of paying commission was in operation certain abuses crept in. It was found that people who were licensed and were receiving a commission were apt to seek business which would be taken away particularly from the unofficial post office in the area. Unofficial postmasters are now being paid on a work unit basis, and any loss of trade occasioned by the operations of licensed stamp-sellers would mean a reduction in the payment to the unofficial postmasters. As in many cases operating an unofficial post office is the sole means of livelihood of the postmaster, it was felt that it was far better to retain this kind of work for them than to give some of it to other people who had other means of livelihood available to them. Furthermore, the payment of commission entailed an additional accounting problem for the Post Office.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. Is it correct that the Postal Department is investigating the possibility of running a mono-rail car between Spencer-street railway station and the G.P.O., Melbourne, as a means of speeding up the transport of mails? Is it correct that the plan involves the use of underground tunnels, which are already available for telephone cables, to carry the mono-rail service? Is the Postal Department examining a model of the proposed mail transport mono-rail which has been built by a Melbourne engineering firm? Will the Postmaster-General indicate whether this system of handling mails will be used in other big cities to speed up the service? Will he tell the House when the scheme, if adopted, is likely to be in operation in Melbourne?
– The Post Office engineers and research staff are always investigating means of speeding up the sorting and delivery of mails. I think it can be claimed that the department has a good record in developing new ideas, but I must confess that although I keep in close touch with this particular aspect of the department’s work, I have not yet heard of the proposal which the honorable member has mentioned. It has certain intriguing features. I shall certainly make a point of finding out whether his information is correct and of giving him all the information I can get on the matter.
– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House of the action that has been taken to implement the decision of the Government, made last year, first, to establish additional trade posts overseas, and secondly, to strengthen the Trade Commissioner Service generally?
– The Government acted last year, and has acted since then, along the lines indicated to strengthen our Trade Commissioner Service overseas. Last October, I think, a post was established in Chicago. Early this year, a post was established in Nairobi and another at Ottawa. We are in the final stages of establishing a post at Accra, in Ghana. Within the next three months, five recent appointees to the Trade Commissioner Service - men from the fields of banking and commerce and the Public Service - will be posted to Calcutta, Djakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Bombay.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Does he know that civilized and educated Australian natives living on South Australian Government mission stations are not being paid the full cash value of the age pension entitlement, as is paid to all other Australian citizens, except those living in benevolent homes, but are paid only 15s. a week in cash and the balance in kind? Does the Prime Minister know that Australians living in benevolent homes are paid 33s. a week in cash, as against the 15s. a week paid to these natives? Does he know, further, that his Government, through the Minister for Social Services, is a party to this unjust discrimination by the South Australian Government against descendants of the race whose country we now occupy? What action does he propose to take to remove this stigma from Australia’s reputation among the coloured peoples of Asia?
– On the assumption, Mr. Speaker, that you rule this to be a question and not a piece of propaganda, I undertake to bring it to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, who, unfortunately, cannot be here to-day because he is unwell. He has a very close knowledge of this matter and has done some remarkably good things in relation to it.
– In view of the fact that a new sugar price is being negotiated, will the Minister for Primary Industry say whether consideration is being given to the effect which any price variation may have on the domestic sugar rebate - a matter of vital interest to stone and berry fruitgrowers?
– That matter is being considered, along with the application that has been made to the Prime Minister by the Premier of Queensland for an increase in the price of sugar. As to the concessional rate which has been granted to canners and other fruit processers, the Minister for Trade and I are to receive a deputation of canning fruit growers on this very matter this evening.
– Has the Treasurer’s atten tion been directed to a statement by the Victorian Premier, Mr. Bolte, that, as a result of the recent margins increase, the Federal
Government will make a profit, because the additional income tax revenue received will more than offset the marginal increases to its own employees, whilst, on the other hand, the Victorian Government will be down by £8,000,000 in three years because of the marginal increases? If that is the position, has the Treasurer any plans for assisting Victoria in its unfortunate plight?
– I have seen some statements attributed to Mr. Bolte, and I have had the advantage of a discussion with him recently in Canberra in the course of the special meeting of the Australian Loan Council. I am sure Mr. Bolte would agree that it is quite impractical for either the Commonwealth Government or any State government to determine with a reasonable degree of precision at this stage just what impact the margins decision will have on its finances for the current year. It is broadly true to say that the costs to State governments will be greater than the amount they are likely to recover immediately, even with the increased charges that they have imposed. It is broadly true to say that the Commonwealth, despite increased commitments which flow from the margins decision, will gather increased revenues which will more than offset the increased payments which will have to be made immediately. That is the position in the current financial year. However, the operation of the new scheme for financial assistance grants agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the State governments under which we take into account movements in average wages, should put the States in a very much better position in subsequent years.
I remind the House that in the current financial year the Commonwealth had budgeted for a deficit of £61,000,000. So, even with an improvement in our finances as a result of these developments, there is no question of us showing a surplus for this year. In addition, we have already announced publicly our determination to avoid deficit financing, if that is possible, in the year ahead. If we have to bridge the deficit gap and at the same time meet the increased commitments which will come our way next year, including increased commitments to the States, we will have a very formidable task ahead of us. I have no doubt that when we meet again later in the year for the Australian Loan Council and the Premiers’ Conference, we will hear more from our colleagues in the State governments of their predicament. At that time, we shall have a clearer picture of the whole situation.
– I should like to ask a question of the Minister for Trade. I refer to the employment of overseas capital in setting up new industries or in the takeover of existing industries in Australia. Whilst this is welcomed, has the right honorable gentleman experienced concern that this practice may result in certain Australian firms passing into the hands of overseas investors to the detriment of local interests? Is it possible to make quite clear in any negotiations he may have that Australia has no desire to submit to economic colonialism? Would it also be possible to draw up a code of investment which the Government would like observed by overseas interests and which would ensure that the general interests of the Australian people are protected against being swallowed up by external monopolies?
– I and other spokesmen for the Government have made it clear that we welcome overseas capital and industry with its attendant experience, skill and technical comprehension - coming to Australia to help develop industrial undertakings here. On the other hand, I and my colleagues on more than one occasion have made clear that we believe that it is not only in the general public interest of Australia that overseas organizations coming here should consider taking Australian capital and industry into partnership, but in the long term, it is also in the interests of the overseas investor that he should establish himself as a partner in the Australian scene as distinct from an overseas entrepreneur establishing himself here alone. This is not a line of thought that the Government has transformed into a set of rules, but we have made quite clear that, although we do welcome the entry of overseas skill, industry and capital, we believe that, in the interests of Australia and of the overseas investor, he should establish himself in some form of partnership with Australian industry and capital.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I preface it by stating that in answer to a question in this House the Treasurer said that the recent increases of postal and telephone charges had been introduced in order to obtain some return on the capital expenditure incurred by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government intends to apply the same principle to capital expenditure in the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Broadly the answer is that the principles which apply to a government instrumentality such as the Post Office should, I believe, be consistently applied to other government instrumentalities supplying services of a consumer kind. But the details of any such policy would have to be resolved by the Government after full consideration of all the factors involved. There is not necessarily any precise parallel between one utility and another, although I believe the principle holds good in all instances.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. I remind him that it has been considered in the past that the New Zealand Easter Show at Auckland furnishes a good opportunity to display Australian products, and I ask him whether Australia will this year again be exhibiting its goods at that show.
– Australia will take full advantage of the opportunity to display its products at the New Zealand show. This show, unlike our own royal shows, is primarily, I understand, a display of manufactured products. The Department of Trade will participate with a display. The Australian National Travel Association will have a display. Eighteen Australian companies have contributed towards the provision of an Australian pavilion in the show. There will be quite an impressive exhibition of all that Australia has to offer and is capable of.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. In view of the substantial reduction in the quantity and value of flour exported from Australia in recent years, which has resulted in the closing of a number of country flour mills, will he say what action he is taking, or proposes to take, to solve the problem of these declining exports? Further, will the right honorable gentleman see what can be done, apart from normal trade sales, to make flour available to Asian countries, either on long-term credit or by way of gift?
– The latter part of the honorable member’s question should, perhaps, be considered in connexion with Colombo Plan policy, which is not my particular province. I am aware that there has been a decrease in the volume of exports of Australian flour over recent years. There are two reasons for this. The first is the incursion into what we regard as our own markets, from a geographic point of view, of flour from North America, on non-commercial terms, and also, and more particularly, flour from European countries - Germany and France, and to a lesser extent, Italy. This flour, judged on the basis of what the farmer is paid for the wheat from which it is gristed, is, in my book, subsidized or dumped flour. The second reason is, of course, that some countries which have hitherto been markets for Australian flour, are establishing their own manufacturing patterns, and there are now flour mills in such places as the Philippines, where previously no such mills existed. Of that, we naturally offer no criticism whatever.
In the course of discharging my responsibilities as Minister for Trade, I have negotiated particular arrangements on behalf of the Government. I can say that, at the present time, Australian flour does not encounter, and for some little time past has not encountered, unfair competition from non-commercial disposals from North America, judged along lines that I have spoken of in the House before. In particular, I have engaged in negotiations, as I have mentioned, with the Government of Ceylon. As a result, Ceylon, which, for nearly eighteen months, did not buy one ton of Australian flour, now buys 100,000 tons a year. The Government of Malaya has undertaken to see that there is a market for Australian flour in Malaya to a total of not less than 80,000 tons a year. In the course of negotiations for the recently completed trade agreement with West Germany, which was influenced by a case that we had powerfully made in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade over a period, the Government of that country has entered into an undertaking under which there is no more than what we regard as reasonable competition from West Germany. Discussions along similar lines with the Government of France have been proceeding, and I am hopeful of the outcome. These arrangements total a very substantial protection of a diminishing market.
Presentation of Victoria Cross
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I have been informed that Mrs. Edmondson, the mother of the late Corporal Jack Edmondson, V.C., has indicated her desire to present to the Commonwealth the Victoria Cross won by her son, in order that it may be kept at the Australian War Memorial. I ask the Prime Minister whether arrangements have been made to gratify Mrs. Edmondson’s wish. Can the right honorable gentleman indicate what special significance is attached to this Victoria Cross?
– I had heard about this matter, and I find that the necessary arrangements have been made. A ceremony has been arranged at Anzac House, in Sydney, for next Wednesday morning, when Mrs. Edmondson will hand over the Victoria Cross to Major McGrath, the Director of the Australian War Memorial, and I express the hope that many people will find it possible to be present on so notable an occasion. The presentation will take place in the presence of officers and men of the 2/ 17th Battalion who served with Corporal Edmondson. As I do not need to tell the honorable member for Lilley, there is a special significance about this. It will be quite an occasion, because the Victoria Cross won by Corporal Edmondson was, I think I am right in saying, the first won by an Australian in the Second World War, and it was won in the course of the first successful encounter with the German forces. Therefore, it is something of which all Australians will be proud and of which everybody will be delighted to be reminded.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Has the right honorable gentleman taken any steps to examine the needs of technological education along the lines on which the Murray committee examined the needs of university education, and along the lines on which that committee recommended that the Commonwealth and State Governments, the universities, the technical colleges and industry collaborate in holding a similar investigation?
– When the honorable member, who shares my enthusiasm in this cause, receives - I have not yet received it, but the House will receive it in due course - the first report of the Australian Universities Commission, he will, I think, understand how it comes about that I have been devoting such miserable talents as I have, and such efforts as I make, to this problem before I engage in any other.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. At the Olympic Games to be held in Rome this year Australia will be represented by a large team of amateur athletes who will perform most creditably and be excellent ambassadors for Australia. The sending of this team will involve considerable expense and I ask the Treasurer whether he will give sympathetic consideration to financially assisting the Olympic Committee to achieve its objective of sending to Rome the complete team, as selected.
– The Government is conscious of the value to Australia of the performance of the splendid band of athletes who compete in the Olympic Games. It will be recalled that when the games were held in Melbourne the Commonwealth Government contributed financially in a substantial degree to their successful conduct. I know that the Prime Minister has been approached on this matter, as I have. With his authority, I have let it be known that the Government would consider sympathetically a request to make a suitable contribution towards these costs. At the same time, we have welcomed the evidence of activity on the part of the athletic organizations themselves and on the part of individual athletes in order that this shall not be merely a Government matter. I think that all who have participated in these efforts are to be commended on the degree to which they have set about raising funds for themselves. We have not yet received a formal application from the Australian Olympic Council, but, when it does come to us, the Government will look at it, having regard both to the value of the games in a general sense and their particular value, perhaps for Australia - the most athletic-minded country in the world.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is true that the International Telecommunications Union conference at Geneva made no change to amateur radio frequency allocations in region 3 which includes Australia, apart from the loss of 50 kilocycles in the seven megacycle band. Is it also true, that despite the decisions of the Geneva conference, Australian amateurs are to suffer most of the cuts originally proposed by his department? Is it further true that in May of last year officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department gave an assurance to members of this Parliament that Australian amateurs would retain bands allotted at Geneva without cuts by local option? Why is the 160-metre band, used during the war years for the Loran navigation system, still withheld from Australian amateurs?
– Order! I think the honorable member had better ask his question.
– I am coming to my fifth question. Will the Minister take the earliest opportunity to give the fullest possible details of this matter to Parliament?
– I have already dealt with this matter in this chamber when answering a question quite recently and, at present, there is nothing to add to the information that I have already given to the House. I said that a report would be presented to me dealing with this question of amateur bands before the main report dealing with the whole of the matters covered by the conference was available. When that report comes to hand it will be considered by Cabinet. Until then, any reference by me to it would be presumptuous because no decision has yet been taken.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House whether Ceylonese pineapple has been quoted to Australian wholesalers at 15s. sterling f.o.b. per dozen 30-oz. cans? Is it true that Ceylonese pineapple normally is sold through the Government cannery controlled retail outlets at the equivalent of about 39s. 3d. Australian per dozen cans? If so, what is the reason for the apparent disparity in price?
– I understand that offers of canned pineapple from Ceylon have been made to the Australian wholesalers at the price stated by the honorable gentleman - 15s. sterling, or 18s. 9d. Australian. However, so far as I am able to ascertain, the prices at which this commodity is sold on the domestic market in Ceylon are 25s. for pineapple rings and 23s. for chunks. Actually, the response of the Australian market to these offers has been negligible. After all, the quantity that is produced by Ceylon is not a very serious threat to the Australian market, as at present.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence, who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that Ansett-A.N.A. carries 40 passengers in its Fokker Friendship aircraft whereas Trans-Australia Airlines, the people’s airline, carries only 36 passengers in these craft? Is the Department of Civil Aviation aware of this? If it is, is the practice in line with the so-called equalization or stabilization policy followed by the Government in respect of airlines?
– I will refer the honorable gentleman’s question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. While I am on my feet, however, I may as well say that the decision as to how many passengers are carried in each aircraft is a matter for each company, so long as the number carried is within the safety limit laid down by the Department of Civil Aviation.
– I direct to the Treasurer a question supplementary to that on pay-roll tax which he answered a few moments ago. Did the Treasurer take into account, when he answered the question p.:t to him by the honorable member for Robertson about pay-roll tax and doubt as to its elimination in the future, the fact that this tax adds to the costs of producing our exports, the overall increases of which are making it constantly more difficult for the Australian manufacturer to meet foreign competition?
– Yes, I did have very much in mind the export aspect of this matter, because I know that there is a good deal of misunderstanding on the part of people who study the subject as to what that effect is. As most honorable members will be aware, there is a considerable field of exemption in the application of pay-roll tax which means that pay-rolls under £10,400 a year - that is to say, £200 a week - are exempt from the tax. Many of our rural producers, of course, come within the exempted category of employers. Indeed, since the bulk of our exports is made up of primary products, it follows that most of our exports do come within the exempted category. An analysis made by the Treasury revealed that in more than £800.000,000 worth of exports in 1958-59 the direct pay-roll tax content amounted to only £3,000,000. Only about 1 per cent, of the total amount collected in pay-roll tax is derived from rural production.
– - Would you repeat that, Mr. Treasurer, for the benefit of the Australian Country Party?
– The facts will be recorded in “ Hansard “. As to manufactured exports, it is no doubt true that in the case of manufactures produced by companies whose pay-roll exceeds £10,400 a year, the pay-roll tax element would have some bearing on the cost of production. However, going back to the origin of the tax, it was, of course, an alternative to an increase in the wage level of that time. Had pay-roll tax not been instituted there would have been a higher wage level, which industry would have been called upon to bear. Well, Sir, if our revenues are such that they fall short of our budgetary re quirements, and had we to replace the payroll tax with an alternative form of taxation, I believe our export industries would find the burden of the alternative more onerous than the pay-roll tax as it operates to-day.
– I ask the Treasurer a question without notice. Will he emphasize to all members of his own party and, indeed, of any party, and to people outside this Parliament-
– And to all sections of your party?
– To all sections of the community everywhere. Will he emphasize to all the people who ask for the removal of the pay-roll tax the fact that this tax was, as he has already said, instituted for the purpose of helping to finance child endowment, and was accepted by industry at that time as a legitimate charge upon industry, and as a cheaper way by which industry could escape an increase- in the basic wage? Will he also ask them, if they want a removal of the pay-roll tax, whether they will state their acceptance of the burden involved in some other form of taxation, either as an increase of company taxation or increased taxation on higher incomes, and not try to avoid the responsibility and throw it on to the generality of the people?
– The Leader of the Opposition has indicated some of the complexities of this matter. I have already said that if revenue has to be forgone in this direction then clearly we must look to alternative sources not necessarily in themselves less painful. He has rightly referred to the history of this matter, and the occasion when the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, as it was then named, indicated to the Government that, having examined the problem of the wage level following a request for an increase in the basic wage, it had decided that the basic wage at that time was adequate for a man and wife, or for a man and wife with one or two children. The court also decided, however, that in a family with more than two children hardship was experienced, and an increase in the wage, applying generally, would not meet that problem. It was therefore recommended to the Government that it institute a system of family endowment, and the pay-roll tax became the means of financing child endowment.
One of the problems associated with this matter is that the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission decides the basic wage according to the capacity of industry to pay. If the Government were to abolish pay-roll tax without any alternative form of impost being levied a nice question would arise as to whether the capacity of the economy to pay had been inc eased by the amount of taxation relief which had been given to industry, and the increased capacity would thereupon be reflected in a further increase of wages. This is just one of the elements which make this problem all the more difficult to assess.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Cairns be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, and that, in his place, Mr. Luchetti be appointed a member of the committee.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) owing to his absence from Australia.
Debate resumed from 24th March (vide page 572), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– In his secondreading speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the presentation of the bill marked an historic occasion for the National Capital and, therefore, for the nation. With this sentiment the Opposition entirely agrees. We have had a National University in Canberra since 1947. We have had a University College in Canberra, affiliated with the University of Melbourne, since 1929. That was a rare privilege enjoyed by the national capital, which in those days had no more than about 7,000 people. To-day Canberra has a population of over 45,000 people. We have reached the stage that the national capital is growing more rapidly than any other city of similar size throughout the Commonwealth.
That, of course, is a good thing, but there are quite a number of Australian provincial cities of similar or greater population than Canberra which would like to have a university college located in their midst. There are, for instance, Townsville, Rockhampton and Toowoomba in Queensland; Newcastle, Goulburn and Port Kembla in New South Wales; Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria; and Launceston in Tasmania. If we were spending as much money, comparatively, in Australia on the establishment of universities as they are in other countries, university colleges would be established in those cities. I hope that in the course of time we will have more university colleges scattered throughout Australia. New South Wales is singularly fortunate in that it has in what is really a small city - Armidale - a first-class university. That university started years ago as a university college affiliated with the University of Sydney, but it has grown and now it has most of the faculties that are associated with a university. It has as its Chancellor the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page).
I hope that this Government, which takes great pride in what it has done in the matter of university education, will not rest upon its laurels, but will try to do more. I hope that the Murray Committee - which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) appointed and which is one of his monuments, and of the work of which every member of the Federal Parliament is very proud - will not be the only committee appointed to inquire into university education. I should like the Prime Minister to have a few more monuments, particularly one associated with some sweeping amendments to the Federal Constitution to make it a very up-to-date document. But still, we do not begrudge him the praise and the honour for what he did when he appointed the Murray committee to make an inquiry into all phases of university education. I had the pleasure of being at Queens College in the University of Melbourne recently when the Prime Minister committed the Parliament - he did not commit only his own Government, but he committed subsequent governments also - to a much greater expenditure on university education. Most of the people there, I think, were overawed by his presence, in the scarlet gown of an honorary doctor of science.
– I had Carmen Jones dangling on top of me.
– I know that, but I do not think that that affected them. They thought that they must receive the Prime Minister’s sentiments with respectful silence. I think I was the only one who loudly applauded his sentiment that the Commonwealth must accept more and more responsibility in the matter of education. If I remember rightly, the Prime Minister said that even now the work of the Murray Committee was rather outdated and that we were advancing so fast that we would have to do more. I do not think any honorable member in this House would disagree with anything that was said on that occasion, or with anything that was said by the Prime Minister in this House in the course of his explanation of this bill. We on the Opposition side would like to see appointed a body similar to the Murray Committee, which would inquire into every aspect of secondary, technical and primary education in Australia. University education is only a part of the general pattern of education, and unless- we do more for secondary, technical and primary education we cannot guarantee that we will be able to educate all the people who would like to enter our universities.
We have lived through a revolution in the field of education since the commencement of World1 War II. The amendment of the Constitution in 1946 which permits the payment by the Commonwealth of benefits to students is the authority for the granting by the Commonwealth Parliament of scholarships to university students. The number of scholarships is still 3,000, as it was at the beginning of the scheme. We are dissatisfied with that. We think that the system that was introduced by the late Mr. Digby Denham, when he was Premier of Queensland away back in 1914, should be adopted in regard to scholarships for university education. The then Premier of that State introduced a scholarship system for education in secondary schools, and he made the grant of a scholarship subject to the passing of a qualifying examination. He never made it a competitive examination. Although Australia has grown very much in population since the Commonwealth university scholarships scheme was introduced1, we have kept to the same number of scholarships. As the years go by, of course, even if the same proportion “of people go through the universities, there will be more people wanting these scholarships.
As the thirst for education grows, more and more of our young people will wish to have a university education. There is not one member of this Parliament who, not having had the advantage of a university education himself, has not done his utmost to see that his children secure the boon and benefits of such an education. We are all anxious to see that our people - the young people in particular - will have all the benefits that education can give them. Therefore, I suggest to the Prime Minister that he might very well consider an increase in the number of scholarships in the next Budget. I think it would be like casting our bread upon the waters. If I may put it on a mundane basis, it would do much more to increase productivity, particularly in the technical and scientific fields, than could be done by the expenditure of the same amount of money in other ways. I liked what the Prime Minister had to say about Mr. John J. Dedman. He spoke of the legislation for the establishment of the Australian National University being in the charge of the Minister for Post-War Reconstruction, Mr. Dedman, and he said -
I take this opportunity to say to the House that his name will always be honorably associated with that achievement.
I agree. I was a member of the Cabinet at that time, and I know something of the circumstances under which the National University was born. There were other people who played1 a part, among them the late Professor R. C. Mills. The proposal came from some university people to Mr. Dedman, who brought it to the Cabinet. Of course, we had then to face the problem of bringing men out of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and putting them back into employment. Therefore, that seemed to be about the worst possible time to talk about building a university in Canberra. But those who were associated with the proposal, particularly Mr. Dedman, were very determined. The then Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr. Chifley, was at first sceptical, but he agreed that the matter should be investigated. Ultimately the Cabinet gave its unanimous approval, and now we have this National University. But whatever we have should be extended. We have only reached the beginning of our work in relation to university education. Some of our universities could do more than they are able to do now. They have said that irrespective of what the Murray Committee did for them, they are inadequately staffed and financed. This perhaps is something of a digression, but I hope that the Prime Minister will give some of his time and talents to a further consideration of what more we can do in the next financial year in relation to education, not only in Canberra but also throughout the Commonwealth. I think that if the Parliament voted any finance for education its action would be endorsed by every citizen in Australia.
.- Mr. Speaker, I welcome this bill and I am glad to find that the point of view which I am sure exists on this side of the House is shared by the Opposition. This was made obvious by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Perhaps I welcome this bill for the wrong reason. I welcome it because if not immediately, certainly in time, it will change the character of the Australian National University as we know it, and will make it what I would call in the best sense just another university in the overall Australian university structure. What is more, it will be. much more closely integrated with the Australian university structure as a whole than it has been hitherto.
Although I join the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition in giving credit to Mr. Dedman, I have always believed that the formation of the Australian National University in the form in which it was established, at the time at which it was established, was a mistake because it had a depressing effect on the development and1 advancement of the other Australian universities which had borne the brunt of university education in Austra lia, many of them for 100 years. I shall explain more fully what I mean.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member that we are considering only the amalgamation aspect. He should not get too far away from the bill.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. What I am saying does bear on the amalgamation aspect because, as I have said, I welcome the amalgamation with the Canberra University College for the reason that it will change the character of the institution as a whole. I do not want to disparage the work that the Australian National University has done up to date. In fact, contrary to the opinion which has been expressed by many ill-informed people, I hold a very high opinion of the work that has been done by that institution. I regard most of the criticism of its work as shallow and not worthy of consideration.
Some of the achievements of the Australian National University are worth bringing to the attention of the House. There is, for instance, the establishment of Sir Keith Hancock’s wool seminar, and the work of the anthropologists in New Guinea where they are surveying the anthropology of the human race in the last, as it were, natural laboratory. They are doing valuable work. Then there is the work of Professor Fenner on myxomatosis; the work of the bio-chemists on enzymes; the work of the demographers on the effect of migrants on the structure of the Australian population; the pioneering work of the economists on Australian economic growth, and last but not least is the very valuable pioneering work which the political science department is doing on the subject of political motivation. Perhaps that work is not as well known by honorable members as it should be. I have no doubt that the Australian National University will do even more valuable work in the future when it is joined with the Canberra University College.
My quarrel with the Australian National University is not based on its capacity to perform its function. The best way in which to illustrate my argument is to refer to an address which the first vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, Sir Douglas Copland, gave to the Anzus conference in Hobart in January, 1949, when the Australian National University was still in a formative stage. He was trying to justify the formation of the Australian National University to his colleagues from the State universities who were gathered at the conference and, if I may say so, he was somewhat on the defensive. The principal reason which he gave for the establishment of the Australian National University was, to use his own words, that it filled a gap in the academic structure in Australia. Lest his audience should think that by filing this gap the State universities would be prevented from obtaining the resources which they required to do similar kinds of work, he went on to outline how the establishment of the Australian National University would benefit all Australian universities- He pointed out that Australian universities at that time - indeed until the time when this Government accepted the recommendations of the Murray committee - lagged far behind those in the United Kingdom.
– Order ! The honorable member had better tie his argument to the subject of amalgamation. He is really dealing with the Australian National University and its activities. The subjectmatter before the Chair is limited to amalgamation, and I ask the honorable member to tie his argument to that aspect.
– As I understand it, this amalgamation will involve a change in the character of the Australian National University although the institution will still carry its original title. I am trying to indicate to the House why I regard this amalgamation as valuable, and to point out aspects of the work which has been done by the Australian National University in the past, and show how this amalgamation will change its character. Sir Douglas Copland said that the activities of the Australian National University could only result in increasing the public interest in the existing universities and in enlisting public and governmental support for them. Indeed, he said that it would stir the imagination of the administrator and the man of affairs towards the problems of the university.
I do not believe that that has happened. Any benefit which has come to the State universities since the establishment of the Australian National University has come not from the Australian National Uni versity, but from the establishment by this Government of the Murray Committee and the acceptance of its recommendations. Sir Douglas Copland said further that by raising the standards of academic remuneration and conditions of employment, the Australian National University would set a standard to which others would be raised. We all know that that has not happened. He said a number of other things, but because I feel that you would rule me out of order, Mr. Speaker, I will not mention them to the House now.
I believe that Sir Douglas Copland was right and that there was a gap in the academic structure in Australia. Not nearly enough research was being done in Australian universities. The staffs were overloaded - as, indeed, they still are - by teaching duties, because of the post-war influx of students and the inadequate resources available to them. There was certainly a gap in the academic structure. How could it have been otherwise, with the staff-student ratios of fifteen to one, or even worse, which the universities had at that time?
But what do you do when you fill the gap by creating a separate, highly privileged institution for the purpose? It is my belief that what you do - and this is what has happened - is to make permanent the existing situation in the other universities. As long as people could say that there existed a special university for research, they were perfectly content to leave the State universities as purely teaching institutions. That has been the effect of the creation of the Australian National University on the State universities. I am not saying that the State universities have not done some very valuable work in the field of research, but if they did so, prior to the establishment of the Murray Committee, it was not because they received additional assistance for that purpose.
To say that the existing situation in the State universities is a permanent situation is another way of saying that they have ceased to be universities at all. The purpose of a university is the pursuit of knowledge and truth, but without research teaching becomes sterile and barren. If the staff of a university has no time for research - as has been the case in many of the Australian universities, despite the desire of the staff themselves to undertake it - that university becomes, not a university, but a glorified technical college and exists purely as a place for obtaining professional qualifications. This creates a vicious circle. Good staff of high qualifications, as a result of this situation, will not go there. There will be no attraction for the Hancocks, the Oliphants, the Floreys and the others who have been attracted to the Australian National University because they will not be prepared to put up with the intolerable load of teaching responsibility- So we are told that we must have a national university in the form in which it exists at present to attract talented Australians.
I have exaggerated the situation deliberately but I think I have made my point The attempt to fill this gap by the creation of a separate institution has prevented the other universities from receiving the resources necessary to realize their true character - that is as institutions genuinely engaged in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, in which teaching is balanced with research.
To me, the value of the new arrangement is that the Australian National University begins to assume the character of a normal university, albeit, one with a special bias towards research. Nevertheless it is a normal and much needed extension, in the national capital, of the Australian universities system. I think the Australian National University can now be justified, because extra universities in Australia are much needed outside the centres in which they exist at present. I feel that, with this initial step to amalgamate the two institutions, the Australian Universities Commission and the good sense of the two institutions which have been amalgamated will take care of the rest.
The Australian Universities Commission has been charged, in the act setting it up, with the responsibility of ensuring, by its recommendations, a balanced development of the Australian universities. What I have tried to say so far is that, to me, such a balanced development means a balanced development both in teaching and research in all Australian university institutions. 1 hope that in the future, as a result of this amalgamation and of recommendations by the Australian Universities Commission, some of the best research in Australia in particular fields will be done in the Australian National University. I speak particularly of the John Curtin medical school. No university in Australia is better equipped than the Australian National University to undertake advanced and fundamental research in medical science. However, I hope also, now that the Australian National University has entered into the normal Australian universities structure, that the Australian Universities Commission will recommend that the other universities be given the resources to undertake research in fields to which they are particularly suited.
Each university should be able to undertake that research at the same standard as the Australian National University and with the same resources as in the past have been given to the Australian National University as a purely research institution. In other words, the same sort of privileges which have been extended to the Australian National University should be extended in particular fields to the State universities as well.
There remains to be considered the effect on the Australian National University of the absorption of the Canberra University College. Personally, I cannot see that the merger can do anything but good. Largely speaking, as I understand it, it is only final honours and post-graduate students who will come into contact with the staff of the Institute of Advanced Studies, which is a part of the new institution represented by the present Australian National University. It is an open secret that the Australian National University is full of frustrated teachers who would welcome the opportunity of exercising their talents on a greater number of students than they have at the present moment. I do not say that in any derogatory way. Some of the people in the Australian National University miss the stimulus which comes from associating actively with students. I should like to read to the House a statement made by Professor Sawer, Professor of Law at the National University. He said -
It is a good thing for men engaged in advanced and abstract work to have to explain their ideas occasionally to those who are new to the mental habits of research. It causes them to rethink their own fundamental postulates.
With this amalgamation, the staff of the National University will come into more direct contact with students at either the post-graduate or final honours level, and that will greatly benefit their work and the work of the university as a whole.
An additional advantage is that further use will be made of time which seems to me to rest heavily on the hands of some members of the staff of the National University and leads them to indulge in a particularly strenuous - if I may use a mild term - brand of academic politics. Indeed, some of the academic politicians at the university would leave, say, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) for dead. I do not want to say much about the regrettable affair of Lord Lindsay, but one conclusion I draw from it is that there are people at the National University who could perhaps employ their time more usefully than by engaging in the sort of intrigues that went on in that case. A few students around the place may be very helpful.
I do not suggest for a moment that all the departments of the Australian National University should engage in teaching work. Obviously, it would not be appropriate for some to do so. I would suggest that a fail case could be made for linking with the National University under-graduate studies in public administration, public finance, statistics, applied economics, geography, Commonwealth history, law, oriental studies and aspects of Pacific affairs. Those are subjects which are studied at the Australian National University and which appear to me to be suitable for linking at the final honours or post-graduate level with the Canberra University College, to the benefit of both institutions. I believe that in certain of these subjects, partly because the institution is in Canberra and partly because it is the Australian National University, students will be attracted from all over Australia, even at the under-graduate level. In that sense, the amalgamation will play a part in relieving some of the very great pressure that is at present placed on other universities.
I congratulate the Government for the action it has taken. I particularly congratulate the Prime Minister for the personal part he has played in bringing about an extremely difficult amalgamation and in achieving it so soon. I read an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ written in 1957 by a correspondent who had discussed this subject with the various people involved. The article said that if this amalgamation ever occurred, it would take at least fifteen years. Now, in the year of grace 1960, perhaps as a result of the compromises which appear in the bill and the work of the Prime Minister and of the people in the universities, we have achieved something which is not only to the advantage of Australia but also to the advantage of the whole university structure. I support the bill.
.- The union of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College was unwanted by the Australian National University and by the Canberra University College. I think that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who has given a superficial and facile speech on this matter, should consider the possibility that, as the councils of both institutions opposed the union, some strong reason against the union can be found. The honorable member’s speech was like an echo from twelve years ago of the word’s of some of the vicechancellors of the State universities who were on the interim council and who obviously resented the creation of the National University. They were wholly opposed1 to its creation for no other reason than that they feared it would divert Commonwealth funds which otherwise would be available for distribution among the State universities.
The honorable member has contended that this measure integrates the Australian National University with the State universities. He did not in any way explain thai. What it does is to integrate the Australian National University with the Canberra community, and that is the point in the bill which I think is objectionable. Some millions of pounds were put into this university in the belief that it was an Australian facility which would draw able students from all parts of Australia and, indeed, from outside Australia. It served the Australian State universities because it provided a research institution to which able students from all of them could come. If the honorable member for Barker thinks into the matter, he will realize that the grossly overcrowded universities of Sydney and Melbourne and such universities as the university of Adelaide which are almost jamming their entire campuses with obsolete buildings which could not be adapted to physics or medical research, could not have done the job that has been done at the Australian National University, even if they had been given the money used for the John Curtin School of Medicine or the other new research facilities.
At the Australian National University, a structure was created de novo without any of the crowding, the existing vested interests and the existing attitudes of some of the State universities. One would have thought that the State vice-chancellors, whose viewpoints of twelve years ago were echoed this afternoon by the honorable member for Barker, would have agreed that the more universities in Australia the merrier. Each of the capital cities, including even Perth, has now reached the stage at which a second university is needed, unless we continue with the concept of building enormous barracks for 30,000 or 40,000 students. At Sydney and Melbourne, we are getting universities half the size of the largest universities in the United States of America, but our population is only onesixteenth of the population of the United States of America.
This union was unwanted by either institution, and it is described as a shot-gun wedding. It will inevitably lower the standards. Two sets of glinting eyes were focused on the National University when it was established. One set belonged to the State vice-chancellors, whom I have mentioned, and the other belonged to the local community of Canberra. When the university was established, the local community was quite determined to have for the local boys and girls a facility that had been established by all Australian taxpayers. A visiting British Labour man described Canberra as the perfect Fabian society - all the facilities and no workers. The members of the community here, necessarily including a higher proportion of university graduates than any other community in Australia, and therefore, perhaps, more determined to give their children a university education than are the members of other communities in Australia - were eager to annex this place - and I think this measure involves the annexation of the Australian National University so as to make it a facility for the local boys and girls. Of course, the concept on which it was founded was entirely different. It was to be the apex of the Australian educational structure, to draw excellence from all over the Commonwealth, from countries throughout the British Commonwealth, and, indeed, to attract research specialists from all over the world.
Of course, it is ludicrous to quote the statement of a Professor of Law to the effect that he would welcome a certain amount of teaching, and to suggest that there should likewise be a certain amount of teaching in other sections of the Australian National University, such as the John Curtin School of Medical Research or the Research School of Physical Sciences. The law student, of course, is studying something that actually exists, the law that has been created, the precedents that have been set, and so on. Physics, medicine, and many of the other disciplines of the Australian National University involve, we hope, incursions into absolutely unknown fields.
There is this to be said in favour - and a very highly qualified favour - of having undergraduates in the associated body, which was formerly the Canberra University College. It is true that in the world to-day some of the most useful research has been done, under able directors of research, by young men and women of twenty years or so of age, who are not graduates, but who form undergraduate teams. These young people have very bright minds. If we were to take twentyyearold undergraduates from all over Australia, who showed a particular facility for research, and give them an opportunity to come to the apex, at the Australian National University - which in my view, having this legislation in mind, should have been renamed the University of Canberra - then the arguments about the desirability of undergraduates participating in even advanced research would be strengthened. But inevitably there will be a narrow selection from the local youth in a city with a population of 45.000. The pressure that has been felt in Canberra to take over the Australian National University, compared with the indifference that is shown towards the Canberra Technical College, indicates the community’s university bias and its values. It lends point to the description of Canberra as a Fabian society, with all the facilities and no workers.
The comments made by the honorable member for Barker about the staff of the Australian National University, as though they spent all their time in political intrigue, were simply ludicrous. I do not pretend to know the in’s and out’s of the dispute that Lord Lindsay had with the Australian National University - if he had a dispute at all - but I want the honorable member for Barker, and everybody engaged in enacting this legislation, to realize one point. No one is going to to pretend convincingly - and the last time I said this I received a strong letter from the Canberra University College - that those who applied for positions in that college when it was a distant annexe of the University of Melbourne would have comprised all those in the particular fields of ability who would have applied if the college had always been part of the Australian National University. To put it bluntly, many of the members of the staff of the Canberra University College would not have got their jobs if the college had been established de novo as a university in the way contemplated by this legislation. If that is disputed on the Government side, perhaps the Minister, when he is replying, will explain why the Commonwealth Government withdrew its diplomatic cadets from the Canberra University College and had them trained elsewhere.
It is tragic, I think, that the effort that has been made to select the very best staff we could possibly get is to be diluted by the proposed amalgamation. Australians were taxed in the belief that they were to have a university for all Australians. I believe the young people of Canberra need and deserve a university, and that a separate University of Canberra should have been established. The arguments concerning finance do not impress me. If the Commonwealth Government established half a dozen new universities scattered throughout Australia, it would simply be doing what is necessary, having in mind the tremendous pressure of student population that has built up in all our universities.
This annexation determination on the part of the local community is apparent in connexion with every national institution that is established here. If you discuss the Australian National Library with some of the locals, you will find that they appear to believe it should be a travelling facility for the people of Canberra. The concept of it as a national institution is very difficult for them to understand.
– How would you compare the situation in Great Britain and the United States of America?
– In the United States of America the position has been reached at which it is recognized that there is a need for some purely research institutions, at which no teaching is done. The Australian National University, as an institute for for advanced study, has the closest analogy with the Johns Hopkins University. The honorable member for Barker always argues from the point of view of British universities, because his experience has been confined to them. I am not deriding him for it, but that is the fact. He adopts the approach that because an institution like the Australian National University does not exist in Great Britain, and as Britain is the norm for all humanity, then such an institution should not exist in Australia. I believe, however, that the Australian National University has been doing very necessary work for all the Australian universities, and that it has a world status which I feel will be at least threatened if we amalgamate the two institutions, one of which is still supposed to attract excellence from all over the Commonwealth, whilst one enters the other just because one happens to live in Canberra.
The field of selection of students for this university will be very limited. Universities that become overcrowded sometimes resolve the difficulty by setting higher standards of entry. Obviously, if we had here a population as great as that of Sydney or Melbourne, the competition to gain entry to the undergraduate part of this amalgamated university would be much more severe than it will be with the narrow field of selection available in Canberra; and the standard of the student body, perhaps, will be correspondingly lower. I make this statement despite the fact that I realize the existence of an off-setting factor in that in
Canberra there is an extraordinarily high proportion of university graduates and professional people. While admitting that this is so, it is still obvious that there will be many fewer students applying for entry to the proposed university than are to be found in the large cities.
The establishment of this new university is, I think, quite contrary to what was originally expected. It was the general understanding - perhaps it was the misunderstanding - that the Prime Minister’s opinion was that if the Australian National University ever expressed a desire to amalgamate with the Canberra University College it would be extremely foolish to do so. For twelve years all the thinking and all the work of the Australian National University has been founded on the basis that it would continue to be a purely postgraduate institution. It is quite a revolutionary decision to add to it at this stage this quite substantial Canberra University College annexe.
T hope that I am wrong. I hope that this institution is not going to be turned into a local university. I hope that the views of the honorable member for Barker will be proved wrong. The honorable member said, “ We want this to become just another Australian university”. Goodness gracious me ! When you consider the problems Australian universities have to-day, the need for an institution not subject to teaching pressures and overcrowding pressures, not beset with equipment problems, and to which our very best graduates may go, becomes very clear.
I very much regret that I have to see this measure go through the House. I am sure that the Council of the Canberra University College and the Council of the Australian National University were wi«e in not wanting this amalgamation. I consider that the detailed experience that both bodies have had has been wrongly set aside by the Government, and it is regrettable that an experiment that neither of them believed in is now to be conducted.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the measure now before the House, which relates to the Australian National University, is an extremely important bill and will have very far-reaching results - results which I believe will be of great value to Australia. The Australian National University was created under an act passed by this Parliament in 1946. The Parliament then resolved that the university that was about to come into existence should be truly national in character. In ever sense, its very name - the Australian National University - meant something. The university was to be Australian; it was to be national. In the forefront of the aims and functions of this university was research. The new institution was to be essentially a research university of a unique kind. Since 1946, the university’s work has proceeded in accordance with those principles. Four great schools have been created - the John Curtin School of Medical Research, the Research School of Physical Sciences, the Research School of Pacific Studies and the Research School of Social Sciences. All of these are research schools. The word “ research “ forms part of the title of each. These schools have done very fine work indeed throughout the years and that work will continue under the form of administration that will result from the passing of this bill.
I greatly deplore the speech that was made this afternoon by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). In no way and in no instance did the honorable member indicate the greatness of the Australian National University. I venture to say that if his speech were remembered - and please God it will not be - it certainly would not enhance his reputation.
The charter of the Australian National University, which, as I have said, was created in 1946, provided that the Canberra University College might be incorporated in the university if this were decided on. But, as the years went by, this did not come about. The University College had been in existence for quite a number of years before the Australian National University was created, and had carried on under the wing, as it were, of the University of Melbourne. With the assistance and goodwill of that university, the college had done very well indeed. It did a tremendous amount for undergraduate education in Canberra, and, for this, the people of Canberra properly express their great goodwill for the University of Melbourne.
As a result of the great pressure on universities everywhere in Australia during the years, it eventually became impossible for the University of Melbourne to continue to assist and to associate itself with the Canberra University College in the way in which .it had been doing. So a decision as to what was to happen to the college became an urgent matter. Over the years, two divergent views had been canvassed, and people who professed one view or the other felt very strongly about it. One view was that there should be two separate universities in Canberra. It was obvious from the speech just made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that he accepted that view. He was not alone in accepting it. On the other hand, there was the view - it is, essentially, the view which has found acceptance in this measure - that there should be an association between, or an amalgamation of the Canberra University College and the Australian National University - in other words, that what was envisaged as a possibility when the Australian National University Act 1946 was passed should come about, and that the University College should be incorporated in the university.
That was a matter which had to be considered very carefully by the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his second-reading speech, indicated the concern that the making of the decision gave him. He mentioned the matters that he had considered and the information that he had obtained before making a decision. It seems to me that at this stage, the decision having been made, it is quite idle to cavil at it and to say, “ I prefer this view; I am against that view”, and so on. I think that, in justice to the Prime Minister, it should be said that he gave the matter most earnest consideration and that he sought information from the most eminent quarters - indeed, that he went to a great deal of pains and trouble in order to make a proper decision. I believe that, this decision having been made, we should accept it and not go back on it and say that a decision the other way might have been better. I do not think that that sort of thing leads us anywhere or does any good at all.
When the decision was made, the individual members of the councils of the two institutions, whatever may have been their views, came together with the utmost good will. They discussed freely and very thoroughly, and on friendly terms, the conditions under which the amalgamation should take place, and the negotiations proceeded in a most desirable way. There was no enmity, and, as the negotiations proceeded, those taking part in them were amazed that they were going so well and that people with the divergent views that were known to exist could come together, sink their differences and unite in endeavouring to produce the best possible constitution for the new university. What has happened is that the best possible constitution has been arrived at. The disagreements that arose, I think, concerned three problems which can be regarded only as matters of comparatively minor detail, and which the Prime Minister found no real difficulty in solving. That being the position, I believe, as I have said, that the proper approach to the future of the Australian National University is to forget what might have been and to say, “ We now have this institution and we shall see that it forges ahead “.
May I just mention two matters with regard to which it can be said that the Government’s move is quite a sound one. I do not suggest that these are the only two such matters; I just want to emphasize them. First, had the Government decided that there would be two universities in Canberra, the decision would have created a tremendous amount of consternation throughout the rest of Australia. Canberra is a comparatively small city. Other much greater cities within the Commonwealth are crying out for additional facilities for more university education, and if a small city such as Canberra had been given two universities the decision would have been regarded by Australians generally, at this stage of Australian history, as a very unfortunate one indeed.
– The Australian National University was not Canberra’s university.
– I did not say that the Australian National University was Canberra’s university. I said that there would be two universities within the city of Canberra - a city of 40,000 inhabitants. I emphasized earlier in my speech that the National University was an Australian national university and I would not think it necessary to pull me up on that matter and to suggest that I had indicated that the Australian National University was a Canberra university and only a Canberra university. I certainly dissociate myself from any suggestion of that sort.
The other argument which I believe to be sound is this: Unquestionably, teaching does help research. The research scholar who has a certain amount of teaching to do undoubtedly is able to clarify his mind to a great extent on the problems of research. It will be no bad thing for research people to indulge in a certain amount of teaching. Of course, it will be of tremendous value to the students whom they are teaching to learn from men who are experts in their line. A university exists for the advancement of learning, and for the promotion of scholarship. In a democracy in particular, it is of tremendous importance that there should be a very high level of university education. To-day, this country is crying out for more and more universities. Unfortunately, in most universities to-day, there exists a limitation on the number of students that can be taken and there are quota systems. One effect of the Australian National University’s opening its doors to students will be that there will be a far greater opportunity for young men and young women of ability to obtain a university education. That will mean a university education which is not necessarily limited to students within Canberra. The Australian National University will exist for students all over Australia. Students from various parts of Australia will have the opportunity of taking their courses within the Australian National University. This is a university in which there will be no restriction on the grounds of nationality or religion and in which there will be no distinction between the sexes.
When one says this, one is not overlooking the fact that the Australian National University will remain a great research university. There is no alteration in the act of the provision emphasizing that it is a research university. The Parliament, which passed that provision in 1946, still retains it to-day and we are not seeking in any way to terminate it. I believe that we would not want to do so for one moment. The Prime Minister said that when it comes to determining who are to be members of the council of the Australian National
University, it will be his practice - no doubt a practice which will be continued - to consult the learned bodies of Australia. That, in itself, will ensure that people will be chosen who will be vitally interested in research and who will realize that, in a great university such as this, which is aimed primarily at research, research must remain a very great characteristic.
Indeed, within the provisions of the bill which we are debating there are most important clauses which show that research is being maintained. There is the provision for an Institute of Advanced Studies which will deal entirely with matters of research. I have every confidence that the Australian National University will continue to be, not merely a research university as such, but a university in which research of the highest character is undertaken. The founders of the university in this Parliament stated that they believed that the Australian National University would be a credit to Australia; that it would do worthwhile work in research, both generally and with regard to matters of vital Australian interest; and that it would take its place amongst the leading universities of the world. Once again, there is no reason to believe that that great ambition will not be realized. In the years that have passed since the Australian National University was established, it has shown that it is capable of carrying out the ambitions which were expressed in the words that I have mentioned. It has been able to attract to itself men of international reputation. It has within it many worthy scholars indeed and its work has been magnificent.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, in entering this debate on the amalgamation of Canberra University College and the Australian National University, I find that in the contributions of the preceding speakers a number of very significant points have been raised which appeared at first to have had hardly any relevance to the measure that we are discussing. But as the afternoon has worn on, I think those arguments have been seen by all those listening to this debate to have particular relevance to the subject. I am sure you will have no doubt now that this relevance is most apparent.
The contribution by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) raised the question of the value of the original establishment of the Australian National University. That is relevant to this measure because the bill appears to change quite fundamentally the type of institution that the Australian National University was at the beginning and has remained since. This bill brings into being a research and post-graduate university. There can be no doubt that the Australian National University was established on the basic, fundamental and continuing principle that it should be a post-graduate research university which would attract from all over the world men whose work would be suitably paid, and suitably serviced by research facilities and everything else that was needed. The Australian National University, in the years that have passed, has proved that this can be done and I do not think the criticism of the honorable member for Barker is informed, accurate, or in any way justified. I agree with the preceding speakers, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that the honorable member for Barker is quite clearly and definitely wrong upon this point.
The establishment of the Australian National University as a research university was justified at the time and has been proved to be completely justified ever since. The establishment of such a university was a wise move. This legislation, of course, appears to change completely that concept of the university, lt appears to bring into it a section apart - an under-graduate university and a very limited one, which is not Australian but is confined to the still small city of Canberra. In this respect, the whole nature of the Australian National University appears to change very considerably. I take the view of the honorable member for Balaclava that, however much we might disagree on this legislation, it has this effect. Now that this step has been taken after such a long time and after such a considerable amount of delay, I feel that the right attitude to take is to accept it and to try to make it work as well as we possibly can.
I do not think that any good can come from continuing dissatisfaction or contention. Now that the matter has reached the stage of legislation it cannot be altered.
We should accept what has been done and make it work as well as possible. In addition, as I have said, the arrangement seems to change very considerably the nature of the Australian National University. It may well do so, but the university in future will consist of two fairly distinct parts - the Institute of Higher Studies and the schools. In other respects it will continue to be two distinctly different things. There is no reason why the entry of one into the other, as it were, the overlapping - the teaching by those engaged in research and the provision of opportunity for more research by those engaged in teaching - should not occur at the appropriate places. There is also no reason why it should be forced, or should occur where it is inappropriate to the type of research being done or to the type of teaching being given.
On the face of it, there is no reason to believe that the future will hold any reduction of the opportunity for, or capacity of those previously associated with the Australian National University to carry on their research activities. I do not think that the Australian National University is full of frustrated teachers. I think it is more full of people who want to carry out research and are not very anxious to do any teaching. The truth might be the other way round - that the Canberra University College is possibly full of frustrated research workers, as every university is, and should be. It may well be that these people will have a greater opportunity to do more research under the new order than they were able to do under the old.
Altogether, I do not think that the argument that the honorable member for Barker has resurrected from ten or twelve years ago, against the Australian National University, has anything in it. I thought I had heard it for the last time before today. There is no reason to believe that had the Australian National University not been established one penny more would have gone to any State university. There is no reason to believe that even if the non-establishment of the Australian National University had meant a few pennies more for the State universities, that money would have been used any better by them than it has been used by the Australian National University for the purposes for which that university is provided with money.
The existence and operation of the Australian National University have had considerable indirect effects on the State universities. For instance, the existence of the Australian National University has helped in the setting of a standard of salaries in a number of other universities, and in the provision of research funds for those universities. So, in those respects the State universities, instead of having suffered any deprivation, have gained partly as a result of the existence of the Australian National University.
– How many State universities have the same salary standards as the Australian National University?
– Not many of them, but the existence of the Australian National University has helped to raise their salary standards. I have not seen a claim for increased salaries submitted anywhere by the Staffs Association or the Teachers Federation which has not made reference in the first part of the submission to Australian National University salaries, and those references have had influence in the decisions which have been made.
Now let me return to the other point. I think that there is no certainty that the Australian National University is going to change, in the respects I was discussing, very much in the future. The extent to which it does change, the extent to which the fears of the honorable member for Fremantle materialize that it will become a Canberra high school, satisfying some residents of Canberra who tend to assume an importance perhaps a little bit out of proportion to what they should, is a question. If this occurred, it would be most unfortunate, and the result would be that there would no longer be any Australian national university. T seriously doubt whether this will be the case. 1 am not underestimating the influence of Canberra people in this respect, many of them being influential public servants, but I fancy that the structure of the Australian National University will be able successfully to resist many of those things.
I think we can foresee a time when the Australian National University, as it is still going to be called, will have undergraduates drawn not only from the Canberra population, but from Australia as a whole. There is no reason why we should not have residence facilities in the Australian National University of the future for undergraduates from areas other than the Australian Capital Territory, and there is no reason why undergraduate facilities of this kind should not contribute considerably to the Australian National University. I do not see any necessary conflict in it provided the matter is sensibly directed. So, I am not going to say that this organization will not remain an Australian national university, and for that reason I feel that the logical step would be different from the step being taken now. But, now that we have reached the present situation, I think the correct thing to do is to accept what has occurred and try to make it work. I repeat that I think that the logical thing to do was something different, however. A lot of time has been taken in the examination of this problem, which has been going on for a number of years. The Prime Minister sought advice from here, there and everywhere, and every time he received advice from one important quarter which conflicted with earlier advice from another important quarter, he was put into a position of more doubt and uncertainty. I think the logical thing to do was to recognize that we had the Australian National University, and that it should have been left to run on the principles of its foundation. That is to say, it should have been allowed to develop as a research university to provide the facilities that we have seen it providing over the last few years.
In Canberra we had the Canberra University College, which, in many respects, was of equal standard in its departments to any other university in Australia, and the logical thing to do was to convert it into the Canberra University with a charter of its own. This always seemed to me to be the logical thing to do. The argument of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) has very little in it in this respect. It is true that in a number of other places in Australia there are populations whose size calls for the establishment of a university more than the size of Canberra’s population does, and could therefore be regarded as having a prior claim; but the honorable member for Balaclava completely overlooked the fact that there was already a university college in existence in Canberra, and the only thing needed was to give it a name and give it the facilities and the opportunities to develop. It was not necessary to create a university in Canberra. On the other hand, it would be necessary to create a university in Ballarat, Bendigo or Launceston. So, I think that the honorable member’s argument lacks relevance for that reason.
I cannot allow to pass without comment a remark made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). He believes that the entry into the ranks of the Australian National University staff of the staff of the Canberra University College will mean a great dilution of the staff of the former institution. He believes that the staff of the college is not up to the standard of the staff of the National University. In some respects, it is not up to that standard, but its standard is high. It certainly compares favorably with that of the staff in similar positions at the National University. It is pointless to say that there is no one in the Canberra University College who can compare with the Professor of Physics at the National University, because there is not a research professor of physics at the Canberra University College. There are no members of the staff of the college who can be compared with the men in the John Curtin School of Medicine, but that is not a reason for believing that the entry into the National University of people from the Canberra University College would lead to a dilution of the staff. Where the qualifications and the work are similar, the staff of the University College is up to the standard of the staff of the Australian National University. I do not have any great fears in this respect.
The final points I want to make are points of detail. I feel that too much attention can be given to apparently great matters of principle, and not enough to details. It is certain that the Canberra University College is go;na into the National University. There is nothing that we or anybody else can do to stop it. But it is going in under certain conditions, and I should like to direct the attention of the House and, in particular, the attention of the Minister to several points in the legislation which I feel might be, and should be, considered.
Clause 7 of the bill defines the membership of the Council of the Australian National University. In sub-clause (c) we have the provision that twelve members shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral, being persons who, in the opinion of the Governor-General, by their knowledge and experience can advance the full development of the university. This means that twelve members of the Council of the National University will be appointed by the Government. To my mind, that is far too many. I feel that the influence of the Government on the Australian National University in the past has been too great. If this bill becomes law and twelve members are appointed directly by the Government, that influence will be too great in the future. I have never had any great affection for the provisions in the constitutions of various bodies that a large number of people shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council - whether those bodies be legislative councils or university councils. I do not think that, on balance, much good has come from Government representatives.
I think that the Government should consider reducing the number of its appointees below twelve and providing that some members shall be elected by professional bodies of research workers or teachers outside the university. I would not suggest that the principle of the election of more members from the convocation, or from the student body, should be used, because at the moment there is a very small convocation of the Australian National University and there is a very small and limited student body. I suggest that the number to be appointed by the Governor-General in Council be reduced and that provision be made for the election of some members to the council - I am not suggesting how many - by professional bodies of teachers or research workers.
In clause 9 provision is made for the board which is to control the Institute of Advanced Studies and that which is to control the School of General Studies. There is to be a council and, under that, there are to be two boards, one in control of the Institute of Advanced Studies and the other in control of the School of General Studies.
This may be considered to be a minor point. In the case of the board of the Institute of Advanced Studies, clause 9 provides that the council shall from time to time appoint a member of the board to be the deputy-chairman. It provides also that the Vice-Chancellor shall preside at all meetings of the board at which he is present and that in his absence the deputy-chairman shall preside. There is a similar provision in relation to the board of the School of General Studies. It is stated that the ViceChancellor shall preside at all meetings of the board at which he is present, and that in his absence the Principal shall preside. I think that the legislation would be better if those mandatory provisions were altered. I think that the word “ may “ is preferable to the word “ shall “. There appears to be an assumption that the persons mentioned shall be the presiding officers of the respective bodies. I think it would be much better to state that they may preside, and to allow the boards, if they so desire, to appoint somebody also to act as their chairmen. I think this contention is supported by the experience of our universities, and of the National University in particular. The effects of. a mandatory provision that the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor shall preside have not been happy at all. More flexibility would be given if, instead of the word “ shall “ in the places I have indicated, the word “ may “ were used.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, let me say that the debate has covered a great deal of territory this afternoon, and perhaps it has been of advantage to cover that territory. I think the evidence has shown that criticism of the Australian National University of the kind which came from the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) is ill-conceived and mistimed, and has very little indeed to justify it. The foundation of the Australian National University was a wise move. I think it would have been wise to allow the Australian National University to continue in that form for a greater number of years further before changing the principle on which it was established, as we are doing now. We should not assume that, in making the change, we shall make as great a difference to the institution as might appear. I feel that the research and the post-graduate work of the former institution will continue to exist in the new institution, and will con tinue their healthy growth. I think that the interrelation of the institute and the school is likely to take place at points where it will be beneficial and appropriate, and that neither body will be very seriously handicapped by the presence of the other. Rather, I think each will benefit. I think there is a possibility of developing the under-graduate work of this university, so that it will not be a base for under-graduate study by people from Canberra, but will tend to become a national base. I do not see why that should not occur. Finally, I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) that, whatever may be our views on this matter, this is not a change which will have a sudden and fundamental effect on the Australian National University. It is a change which offers great prospects of development. Therefore, we should accept it and try to make it work as well as possible.
.- I congratulate the Government on bringing to an end the uncertain position of the Canberra University College and giving it a form of autonomy or, if not exactly autonomy, at any rate some local control. As honorable members know, for many years the college has been under the tutelage of the University of Melbourne. I would rather have seen the college converted into an independent teaching university and functioning as such to fill a long-felt need in southern New South Wales, but now that it is to be joined to the Australian National University, I hope that the nexus is sufficiently loose to enable both bodies to be practically autonomous. The numerical size of the university council seems to make that possible, and the distinction that is drawn in the bill between the two organizations supports that belief. The fact that the vice-chancellor and the deputy vicechancellor will belong to the boards of the research and general studies institutes, and that the heads of those bodies also will be present on the council, will keep the governing body fully informed on what is happening.
Both organizations which it is now proposed to amalgamate have had a very distinguished record. The Canberra University College owes much to the assistance and direction of the University of Melbourne, and especially it owes a great deal to the support which Sir Robert Garran, who has now passed away, gave to it. He was chairman of the council for many years, and I think that he will always be remembered in connexion with the establishment of the college.
The Australian National University has recruited many famous sons and daughters of Australia, as well as other distinguished people, into its service and into the very valuable research work that has been, and is being, done. I was very pleased to see the cordial relationship that exists between the Australian National University and the various State universities. I repeatedly meet professors from various universities who tell me that they have been in Canberra to examine some of the National University students for the higher degrees. It is very pleasing to see this element of concord that has been built up. It has been of great value.
I would not have risen to-day - I felt sure there would be a paean of praise for this proposal, even though it is a little belated - if I had not been a little afraid that while we are giving the organizations a pretty good start in relation to their constitution, we are giving them a fairly bad start in relation to the area of ground which has been allotted to them. Canberra is still in its growing stage. I am old enough to remember the mess that has been caused by too parsimonious a distribution of ground to the State universities. The University of Sydney was given, I think, 139 acres. When I was a student there it did not have more than 400 or 500 students, and there was a dairy farm in the grounds. I returned to the university within ten years of my graduation and found the farm gone and scarcely a spot which was not covered by buildings. Now, the State Government is resuming a number of settlements around the university at tremendous cost. The position in Melbourne is the same. The university there has completely outgrown its land.
When the federal Cabinet of the day was considering the question of the amount of ground which we would give to the Canberra University College - what we hoped would be the Canberra University - we decided to allot it 300 acres. However, when I obtained the facts recently, I found that the college territory has been filched, some of its land having been given to the high school and some to other organizations. The result is that the college now has 138 acres, although that area is supplemented by additional ground under lease. The Australian National University has been granted some 200 acres, thus giving the two bodies something like 338 acres.
Now that the combined university is to commence operations, I appeal to the Government to increase its allotment of land by another six hundred acres, thus giving it about 1,000 acres in all. To ascertain whether the grant of the additional land was possible, I went to the university and obtained a map showing its position in relation to the adjacent locality. I found that there is a huge area running into several thousand acres which is available immediately. This area is bounded by the Molonglo River and by the proposed West Lake, and it runs back into the wooded country behind. It would surround the proposed botanical gardens, which would be an advantage. I appeal to the Government to give that ground to the university, for continuous possession and without any tags attached to it, before anybody commences to build on it.
This matter is very important. My colleagues and I who were associated with the University of New England were determined to obtain a reasonable amount of ground, and we approached anybody who looked as though he had £5 or a piece of land, and the university now has 700 acres. This area will see out my time on this earth, even if I live to plague you for another ten or fifteen years.
In view of the growth which will take place in this capital city, and in Australia, I feel that 1,000 acres is the minimum amount of ground which should be given to the university. If it is to be a great national university, there is no question that there will be all kinds of buildings tor new studies, and there should be ample opportunity for students of landscaping and architecture to learn their profession. This would be an ideal place in which to teach these subjects to students who later will go out and help to beautify our countryside. New scientific fields also will be opened. At this stage of our development when we have only 10,000,000 people it is the height of folly to grant a paltry 300 acres to this institution. The land for which we have paid £4 an acre will cost very much more if we allow it to go out of our hands and governments have to resume it in 40 or 50 years. If the grant of land were increased as I have suggested, not only would it be easy for the university to see its way ahead, but also it would help to make Canberra a more attractive place than it is.
I base my appeal on my practical experience of many universities and after seeing too many of them throughout the world over-crowded. Here we have an extraordinary opportunity to put this matter right from the very beginning, and we should take that opportunity for the sake of the people who will come after us.
.- The union which is now proposed between the Canberra University College and the Australian National University was, to some extent, anticipated in the act which set up the Australian National University. Sections 9 and 34 of the act of 1946-47 make some reference to it. Certainly there was no committal to the project at the time, but it seems to me - and this apparently has occurred to at least three honorable members who have participated in the debate this afternoon, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) - that the justification for the union of these two bodies was in terms, first, of economy, and secondly, to give prestige to the Canberra University College which it would not have if it were required to exist as an independent university in its own right. If that is the sole justification for it, I think it is a pity, because the essential factors that are involved, namely, teaching and research - or the two combined and called education - should be the main considerations in determining whether the two bodies should be joined together.
I join the ranks of the honorable members whom I have mentioned in having rather mixed feelings about what I think could possibly be a dilution of the principal purpose of the Australian National University, namely, the carrying out of research and the granting of higher degrees, at the doctoral level, for persons engaged in that research. Of course, we have to remember that not all research done in the Australian National University is directed towards the acquiring of higher degrees.
On the other hand, a question which occurs to me is: What would be the position of the Canberra University College if it were set up as a university in its own right? Could it stand the test? Could it cater for studies of every type? Could it achieve a high status in time? Personally, I think it could have done so. What would have helped would have been the fact that residential facilities were provided there such as do not exist in most Australian universities. I cannot help thinking that such a university here in Canberra would not have been merely the Canberra University, but, as the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said, a university for southern New South Wales.
When we talk about residential facilities, we have to remember that they are not provided simply for mobility - to enable students to come to the centre from various other parts of the State or, indeed, of the Commonwealth. Residential life has always been regarded, among the senior universities of the world, as a part and parcel of university education. It provides more than the formal instruction and education such as go on inside universities. It provides for the informal interchange of ideas between students on the one hand and the university staff on the other.
It seems to me that to some extent we are looking at this proposal in terms of how it will affect students. I do not think we should neglect to give some consideration to how it will affect university staffs. There is no doubt in my mind that university lecturers, such as those at the Canberra University College, principally engaged in teaching, must gain immeasurably from their contacts with eminent lecturers who are mainly concerned with the direction and conduct of research. It is certainly and obviously true that undergraduates will benefit by what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has called contact from time to time with some of the most eminent minds in the world.
What I am trying to say is that we have some misgivings about what seems to be a unity imposed upon these two bodies, because we know that in the long run the success of the enterprise will depend, not upon the legal or constitutional formula that we are providing, but upon the spirit that pervades the new university. There must be a spirit of willingness to co-operate. Apparently there has been a certain amount of coming together during the discussions leading up to this proposal. If teaching and research can intermingle and mutually enrich each other, a substantial profit will be gained from this union. My misgivings arise from the fact that this is a form of unity imposed on the two bodies, but without cordiality, liberality and cooperativeness there will be no obvious gains other than economies through the common use of facilities. I am making the point that much will depend upon the attitude of the two lots of people who are being brought together. There is a great chance, to my mind, for an intermingling and an intermixture of research and teaching facilities.
We hope that every research lecturer and professor will not automatically regard teaching as a part of his duties in the university. From my limited experience in this field, one of the greatest mistakes that has ever been made is the insistence that if a person belongs to a university staff he must be a teacher, even though his principal and special and very devoted interests are in research. For a long time there has been this assumption that a person who is very interested in research ought to be a good teacher. In my experience, and I am certain that of many others, that has not been necessarily so.
To put it very harshly, I think a large proportion of the failure rate in the universities to-day stems from poor teaching. Because people with high academic qualifications in their specialized fields join university staffs, it is assumed straight away that they are competent purveyors and disseminators of the great knowledge they have acquired. I say advisedly that a large percentage of our undergraduate failure rate in universities stems from this error. Of course, there are other factors, but they have been canvassed many times in many places and I shall not discuss them now because they are not related to this measure.
I hope that this new organization will allow those who are devoted to research, and have no particular interest in teaching, to carry on with research. In the proposed Institute of Advanced Studies, this will be possible. When the Australian National University was established, it was not only unique in Australia, but, as far as I am able to ascertain, it was also unique throughout the world. It was a university concerned only with higher post-graduate studies and research. A comparison might be made with some American universities, but, as far as I know, most of those universities have attached to them a college which is a sort of glorified high school, and they have also an undergraduate university. Sometimes the college itself is the undergraduate university. Sometimes there is a separate graduate school, and in some cases there is a professional school.
Those responsible for establishing the Australian National University were possessed of great insight and a great spirit of adventure. Nobody can quibble with me when I say that this university had made a great impact upon, and been of great advantage to, Australian university life. The proposed School of General Studies will cater principally for undergraduates, but its establishment will not mean a dilution of the great purpose of experimentation. I hope that people devoted to research can concentrate on that branch of learning without the distractions of undergraduate teaching functions.
With regard to the School of General Studies, I want to stress again that this does not have to be purely of local interest. It will cater for people over a much wider geographical field than its immediate environment. Being located in the Australian capital, this university could take up specialized fields of research and teaching which may not be duplicated in many other universities in Australia. I think we can abandon the idea that every university has to cater for every kind of need in the community. As we increase the mobility of students by the establishment of residential quarters, the provision of adequate living-away-from-home allowances and decent scholarships, it should be possible for a university located in this rather special place, if I may use the term, to set up not only at the graduate level but even at the undergraduate level, distinctive studies that perhaps could not be duplicated at other universities.
I commend the Government for what it has done to help universities as such, but I again make a plea - I and other honorable members have made it on several occasions - to the Government to give equal assistance to the students directly. I refer briefly to the fact that in 1960 we are providing approximately 3,000 Commonwealth scholarships, which is the same number as we provided in 1951-52. I am told by the Commonwealth Office of Education that this year about 26,000 students will sit for the leaving certificate or its equivalent. Even allowing for a very high casualty rate, an estimate that 15,000 of the 26,000 will pass at the matriculation standard would not seem to be unduly optimistic. Unless something is done urgently, only 3,000 scholarships will be awarded amongst the 15,000 matriculated students. In other words, one out of every five of these students will obtain a Commonwealth scholarship. Put in simple terms, it means that 80 per cent, of our students will not have the advantage of such assistance. I have on other occasions pleaded for help to be given to our primary, secondary and technical schools. I have suggested that the system of scholarships be extended to secondary schools so that secondary school students may be able to continue their studies and fit themselves for tertiary education. But, simultaneously with all this, let us do something more at the top level. Let us correct the situation in which four out of every five of our matriculated students have no chance of getting Commonwealth assistance for university education.
The system applied in other countries provides us with a lesson that we cannot afford to ignore if we want to hold our place in the world, economically, culturally and socially. We could well adopt the development in other countries of granting increased scholarships to students whose passes are better than the average standard. We should encourage the bright students to use all their efforts to continue their studies. At the post-graduate level, we recently provided for about 100 scholarships. That is a good start, but let us regard it only as a start. Australia, per capita of population, has only one-quarter of the number of doctorates of philosophy that the United Kingdom has, and only one-fifth of the number in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the United States of America. We must look to these matters, and we should not look to them only at the top level. The need is for assistance right down the scale to primary and secondary education. The need also exists for greater assistance at the undergraduate level.
The incentives for young students at universities should be substantially increased so that they will make an even greater effort to continue their studies and so ultimately reach the highest level. Some people may argue that such incentives should not be given, that the students know they will receive their rewards when they enter community life. However, other countries have found that the system of granting extra incentives to students on their way through to higher studies is most useful. An increase in the value of scholarships may be advisable. As a student passes from first year to second year and on to third year, increased grants could be made so that a sort of carrot is held out along the way. We need to increase the number of scholarships so that more students will come to universities. It is of no use setting up residential quarters at the university in Canberra if parents cannot afford to send their children to it. However, the provision of quarters will help to encourage students to undertake higher studies. The establishment of the new university in Canberra will make possible specialized studies that could not be duplicated elsewhere in the Commonwealth. If they could be duplicated, it would be at only one or two distant places. These specialized studies will enable students to be drawn from a much wider geographical range. As they come from the various parts of the Commonwealth, they will enrich the university and add to its status.
In establishing the new National University, those with authority should consider developing teacher training facilities in Canberra to train teachers for all areas of the Commonwealth’s responsibility. After all, the Commonwealth’s responsibilities to the areas and to the people for whom it has special care call for training that is a good deal different from that given in the normal teachers’ colleges and universities. I have in mind the specialist type of training that is needed for the territories under the control of the Commonwealth. The Government could very well consider setting up teacher training facilities either within the university or affiliated with the university.
Consideration might also be given to establishing, within the Institute of Social Studies, a department of psychology and perhaps a department of education, and linking with the institute the teacher training facilities that I have suggested are needed for the specialist requirements of the Commonwealth. This would give increased status to the university and would serve a useful purpose. It would certainly enhance the attraction of the university for students and would increase the range of studies available in the under-graduate section.
I note that the Australian National University does not at the moment cater for very many students. In 1957, only 23 new students were admitted and the total student population was only 88. In 1958, 46 new students were admitted and the total number engaged in study and research as students was 95. I do not suggest that a university of this kind would have anything like the number of students that would attend the conventional universities. Having in mind the type of research and study that is done, one would not expect to find a very large student population at the Australian National University.
In view of some of the things I said earlier about the number of doctorates of philosophy awarded in this university, or awarded in the whole of Australia, I think we must do something about increasing the numbers of persons who come to this university to undertake studies at this high level. I repeat that besides providing adequate residential services and facilities, and also adequate numbers of post-graduate scholarships, we will, if necessary, have to increase the values of those scholarships to make them commensurate with the values of scholarships available in universities in other parts of the world.
I hope that this union proposal will not interfere with the effective programme of what is at present the Australian National University. I hope that this great experiment, with its emphasis on research, will be allowed to go on, and, indeed, to expand. I would like to see the university carrying on not only its own fundamental research; I would also like to see more applied research - and I have no apologies for making such a suggestion. I would like to see a university of this kind take up. for instance, the idea expressed by Professor
Copland, who pleaded for the establishment in Australia of what he called a fourth estate, consisting of eminent persons who would look down, so to speak, on the whole national scene and give advice to governments. Such a body of experts could advise, for instance, on an integrated and co-ordinated national development scheme for the whole of Australia. This is something that occurs to me as being of social and economic value to every person in this country.
– Order! I think the honorable member is getting away from the subject of the bill.
– I think the honorable member has made an impossible proposal.
– You might think so. I do not agree.
– I hope the honorable member is not directing that remark to me.
– I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I was directing it to the honorable member who interjected. I do not agree that this is an impossible proposition. I think that a university of this kind could engage in that type of economic and social research, which would be of great benefit to the Commonwealth.
Another point to which I would like to direct attention concerns a matter that was brought up by my colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). I refer to the membership of the council. Provision is made for 38 members. This would seem to make a rather unwieldy group of people to have running a university. I am mindful of the fact that the Council of the University of New South Wales comprises 25 members. As far as I know, they get along quite well. I realize, of course, that the university here is on a rather broader scale, but I believe a council of 38 members may be too large.
The honorable member for Yarra directed attention to the fact that twelve of the members of this council will be virtually government nominees. In the case of the existing Australian National University the provision was for a maximum of eight such members. There was a basic stipulation of four, plus one for, I think, every 50 over a certain number of members in the convocation. That maximum of eight is now to become a definite twelve. On the other hand, the convocation, made up of graduates of the university and lecturing staff, previously had a maximum of nine members, which is now to be reduced to a definite four. On the one hand there is a reduction, with respect to the convocation, from nine to four, while, on the other hand, there is an increase from a maximum of eight to a definite twelve in the members nominated by the Governor-General - which means, of course, by the government of the day.
There have been some references in the newspapers, even in the last few days, to threats to academic freedom. As far as I know, there are no threats to the academic freedom of the Australian National University, but there are people who will have misgivings when the number of government nominees is increased in this way. It would have been better, probably, to give greater representation to professional organizations, and I still see no reason why the convocation, despite its smallness of size at this stage, should not have representation somewhat akin to that which it enjoyed in the Australian National University before the Canberra University College was added to it. Why the reduction, when the number of students, and ultimately the number of graduates, is going to increase?
I say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, despite some misgivings, that the new national university has great potentialities. The facilities for undergraduates and staff hitherto located at the Canberra University College will be greatly improved. The interaction of teaching and research, applied judiciously, can be mutually enriching to all concerned. I hope that full facilities for the training of teachers who will be engaged in the various areas of Commonwealth responsibility will be provided in the new university. I hope that increased provision will be made for residential colleges in the vicinity of the university, so as to ensure an enriched university education for all who come here, and also to make it possible for students over a wide geographical area, from southern New South Wales and, indeed, from other parts of Australia, to live and study here. I hope that the matter of scholarships and living allowances will be looked at, from the point of view of attracting a wider variety of students.
In the long run, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the success of this enterprise will depend not so much on the legal formula we have provided, which superimposes unity upon it, as upon the spirit of all who are engaged in it, in teaching, research or both.
– Like the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) I agree that the working out of this new scheme will be of great importance, but I do not share his misgivings. Indeed, I welcome the bill and give it full and unstinted support. I believe that this legislation will improve both the Australian National University and the Canberra University College. I believe that both have something to gain from this union, which has been described as a shotgun marriage, a forced marriage and an arranged marriage, but which I prefer to think of as the coming together of two organisms, each having the normal number of chromosomes.
The honorable member for Barton is quite right in describing the Australian National University as a unique institution. The fact that it is unique does not necessarily condemn it. I think we should take a broad view of it, and try to find out why other institutions of learning, in other parts of the world, have found it expedient or desirable to unite, to a greater or lesser extent, the teaching and research functions. I put it to the House that both these functions are better carried out if there is some kind of bond between them. The teaching university is improved if it has at its head some kind of research institution. A research institute will conduct its researches better if it has its roots in the new academic generation coming up. Apparently, there is something in teaching which brings out the best in research. This is a universal human experience.
It is not for nothing that the words “ doctor “ and “ teacher “ can be confused, and it is not for nothing that we have always found that the greatest researchers - the people who have gone furthest and brought most into the pool of human knowledge - have, at the same time as they conducted their research, found opportunities to pass on their knowledge to students. Moreover, in passing on that knowledge, they have found that their own knowledge has been enriched to some extent. We have to think also of the next generation. Knowledge is not just something in books. It consists of a living body of doctrine which is passed on in a university and inside a complex of universities. We have to think of the means of raising to the highest level the best of the students of this generation who will be the researchers in the next university generation, and the production of university research leaders is a necessary function of a university.
I think that this bill brings this situation admirably into focus. We shall have a joining of the Canberra University College and the Australian National University. We shall not have a confusion of them. There will be a proper separation; there will not be a complete divorce. Those people who are engaged in research will be able, under the constitution of the Institute of Advanced Studies, to devote the major part of their activities to research, coming back from time to time to refresh both themselves and the institute by association with students. One does not, of course, envisage a situation in which every researcher will teach, but one does envisage a situation in which the research schools will be engaged also in teaching, and we see as one of their functions the passing on of advanced knowledge to the academic leaders who will succeed them. So I feel that both the Canberra University College and the Australian National University have something to gain in respect of their own objectives by joining in this union. I am thoroughly in favour of the scheme. There is work for both sides.
We all know how the university population in Australia is rising, and we hope that it will continue to rise at an even faster rate. This can mean one of two things - either that our existing universities become bigger, or that we have more universities. For myself, Sir, in general, I prefer the second alternative. A university is not good if it is too big or if it is gigantic. There is an optimum size. I know that there will be argument as to what is the optimum size - whether the optimum number of students is 10,000, 15,000 or 16,000. But a mammoth university does not seem to produce the same kind of quality work as is produced by a university of a reasonable size. This, again, is an experience which seems to be universal in the academic world. So one hopes that, as our university population in Australia rises, we shall see, rather than an inordinate increase in the size of the existing universities, the establishment of new universities. I hope, indeed, that these will contain a reasonable proportion of residential students.
This means, I think, that, just as the most distinguished universities in both Britain and America lie away from the main centres of population, we in Australia should establish residential universities in centres of population which could not really be called metropolises and in which the concentration of population is not too great. Canberra seems to me to be a good site for such a university. It is an ideal site, because, as honorable members have pointed out, we have established here an institute of higher learning which is already distinguished, and which, I am certain, will go on to further distinction. In addition, we have here a number of institutes of a semi-governmental nature - the Mr Stromlo Observatory, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and bodies of that character - which naturally fit in with the academic work. Therefore, Canberra seems to be a natural site for a university which not only will perform the functions of a provincial university but also may draw around itself the supreme distinctions which belong to universities which in other countries are founded in provincial cities.
So, from the stand-point of a teaching university, there is something to be said for the establishment here of a complete university which will have at its head an Institute of Advanced Studies - an institute which will be an incentive to students and will from time to time provide from its ranks teaching facilities for those students who really have something to offer in the academic field, this teaching work serving also to refresh the staff of the institute. There is work for such an institute to do on the teaching side. It scarcely needs saying by any of us that there is an immense amount of work to be done on the research side. One hopes that, in this field, we shall concentrate on those studies which have, first, a peculiarly Australian character.
I do not speak only of the physical studies, although there are some physical studies which are more conveniently prosecuted in Australia than elsewhere. Our medical faculties have drawn on themselves immense distinction and they are recognized throughout the world as being of tremendously high standing. Perhaps we cannot hope to have here the immense physical plant which is needed to prosecute research effectively in some of the physical sciences, but, at least in the medical field, we seem to have the requisite physical facilities in Australia. I suppose, considering the size of our country and our population, that no other country has contributed more than Australia has contributed to the sum total of the pool of medical knowledge. One hopes that the John Curtin School of Medical Research, for example, will be able to prosecute its studies effectively. I hope, too, that the study of our indigenous flora and fauna and of our native peoples will find full expression in the researches of the new university.
There is no lack of work waiting to be dene by both the teaching and the research sections of the Australian National University as it will be constituted when this measure becomes law. They corns together in a university, and it may be that there are other things in this city on which they can draw. It may be that we have to re-think - I think we shall do so at some future stage - the position of the C.S.I.R.O. and its integration in the general scheme. I do not suggest, and I should not like to be taken as suggesting, that that organization become part of the university. That is not in my mind at all. I believe that the independence of the C.S.I.R.O. should continue to be preserved, but there is very great scope for co-operation between it and the university. I am not going to weary the House by labouring the obvious. I believe this is a bill which should receive the unstinted support of members. If it is properly worked out in practice - and everything will depend on the working out in practice - it will give a new future to both institutions and greater horizons than they could envisage separately.
.- This afternoon we have heard a number of gloomy speeches from members on a matter which should bring joy to all intelligent members of the House. I am sorry that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who is interjecting, will not be able to share in that pleasure. A measure such as this is no occasion for gloom. There is no need to sit down and cry because another unit has been added to our university system. I commend the Government upon the bill. Any measure that adds to our university system deserves our praise. What is the use of saying that because the Australian National University is to be linked with another university unit it will be destroyed? That has not happened in other parts of the world. Any advance such as this has not meant that aspects of university teaching and university life have suffered.
Why should it be necessary in Australia to have a special unit to deal with advanced studies and other units to deal with tertiary education generally? Surely it is possible to combine them both. This bill will enable university education and research to be combined in that way. It gives full value to the necessity for research and does not detract, for one moment, from the value of the advanced studies side of the university.
Obviously we must accept that the university will become a university of the type set out in the bill. What is the use of crying that it should have been this or should have been that? It will be a university of a certain type and I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) that it will be a good university.
The point that I want to make in addition to these general remarks is this: I hope that the university will give full heed to the necessity for thorough scientific training. There is one professor in Australia who places particular stress on the need for scientists. I do not say that the humanities should be disregarded. I do not say that there is no value in the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts. I will not argue that degrees in this or any other branch of learning are undesirable. But I believe that this worthy professor said something of importance when he said that we must train more scientists.
When Professor Messel advocated the training of more scientists I believe that he also meant to imply that if we wanted to get more scientists we should pay them better. Some scientists, after studying for about eight or nine years beginning with their secondary school days, and then spending another two years or more in getting honors, and more time still in getting higher degrees, find that they start off in the salary category of a good craftsman. No one would decry the value of good craftsmen to our community. But surely men who have spent many years of their life in gaining higher degrees deserve a reward!
-Order! I hope that you can relate this to the bill.
– I merely suggest that one thing follows the other. If this university is going to do any good in Australia it must help to train more scientists. If it does that it will do a very fine thing for the future of our country.
Mr. Speaker, many things of a somewhat detrimental nature have been said about the bill. We must remember that the issue is not whether we are to have a particular form of advanced studies at a university. The issue is not whether we will have professors who can teach well or lecturers who can teach well. We know that some of them cannot. The issue is not whether we will have some students who cannot learn at this university. The issue before us is whether this bill will add to our educational means in Australia. I support the bill because I believe that this is one step forward in furthering our education.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
.- Since the last war this Parliament has passed, with increasing frequency, acts dealing with universities, and the stage has now been reached where it provides the greatest part of the funds available to every university in Australia. Nevertheless, it is only in respect of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College, which are both situated in the Australian Capital Territory, that this Parliament is completely in command. It is only in respect of those two institutions that it can decide every feature, not only of the resources available to them, but of the courses which shall be pursued at them.
Sir, I approach this bill without any great enthusiasm. I regret the passing of the Aus tralian National University as a distinctiveuniversity. It has been the only university in Australia which had the means, material and human, to carry on post-graduate research. It has been the only university where the teaching staff was not preoccupied with lecturing instead of with guiding research. As we know, in most of the other universities, certainly those in the State capitals, the professor, the reader or the lecturer hesitates to give individual attention to any of his pupils for fear that they will all want similar attention and that he will be unable, through lack of time, to mark their papers and prepare his lectures. But in the Australian National University it was possible for staff and scholars to devote their primary attention to research and publications, and we believe that that university has become one of the most distinguished postgraduate universities in the world. It probably is already the most distinguished post-graduate university in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sir, I regret also the passing of the Canberra University College - not its disappearance as a college, a dependency of the University of Melbourne, but the disappearance of the possibility of its becoming the Canberra University. It is already in size, I imagine, close on the heels of the University of New England and the University of Tasmania. It would, no doubt, very soon surpass them, if it has not already done so; and in many respects, if not in every respect, in which it conducts courses, the Canberra University College provides the best education of any undergraduate university in Australia. The ratio of staff to students at the Canberra University College is more favorable than the ratio at any university in Australia, with the exception of the Australian National University itself. The staff is a very skilled one, and the students themselves have done well. We should be grateful to the University of Melbourne for having nurtured the college for a generation. The University of Melbourne is understandably anxious to cut the cord which ties it to the college. But the college could have become a university on its own. It was quite wrong to regard it as a university institution catering only for the Australian Capital Territory. It quite clearly could have become, and was becoming, a university catering for the whole district lying within a radius of 100 miles from Canberra.
There is a considerable number of country towns in that district whence students would come for a university education at this nascent University of Canberra.
I regret the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in an otherwise elegant speech that if the Canberra University College were to become the University of Canberra it would become, and remain, a second-rate university. I think that that was an unhappy phrase. We should not regard the universities in the State capitals, in Armidale, and in Newcastle, as secondrate universities. The University of Canberra would have been no more a secondrate university than any of them. There was no reason to think that scholars would have been unable to proceed beyond their pass and honours degrees to doctorates at the University of Canberra with equal facility and distinction as they have been able to do at the universities in the State capitals.
Not only is there the geographic suitability of Canberra as a university centre for an under-graduate university. There is also the very distinct functional advantage which Canberra provides for tertiary education. As the Murray committee itself said -
Canberra is a particularly suitable place for the study of certain subjects, such as law, political science and other social sciences, and Oriental studies . . .
I think that that puts it very nicely, and we all ought to take a bow. But it is pretty true, Sir, because there are some subjects in administration and in science and the social sciences which can be studied in Canberra more readily than in any other centre in Australia.
Thirdly, Sir, apart from the geographic and the functional aspects, there is another aspect in which Canberra could have provided tertiary education at the Canberra University College. The Commonwealth has responsibilities for educating most of the indigenous people in this continent, and for educating all the indigenous people - a couple of million of them - in the islands immediately to the north and north-east of Australia. There are no institutions in the States which are geared to give the education which is required to train teachers for those areas, and I would think that the Commonwealth had, in Canberra, the begin ning, the nucleus, of such an institution. There are, after all, more persons of school age under our tutelage in New Guinea - there are not more actually at school, of course - than there are in any Australian State except New South Wales. There is a crying need for teachers for our Territories. The United Nations Trusteeship Council and visiting missions have pointed out on many occasions that Australia is not producing enough teachers for its Trust Territory. The same would also apply, I should imagine, to Papua and the Northern Territory itself. We should endeavour to produce more teachers everywhere, and where more appropriately than in Canberra where there would be related government departments to give specialized training.
Sir, having said that I regret the fusion of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College, although they will still be readily distinguishable as an institute of advanced studies and a school of general studies, I wish to say no more now than to wish the partners, ill-assorted or not as they may be, a happy life together. I do not want anything I say to rock the boat at what is still in many ways, and must always be, the most distinguished university in Australia. I imagine that the good work which has already been done by the Australian National University and the Canberra University College will be continued and improved by the institute and the school at the Australian National University, which we are forming by this bill.
Sir, I cannot conclude my brief remarks on the subject of this university without making some remarks on the subject of university education generally. We applaud the Prime Minister for the lively interest he has taken in continuing and confirming the Commonwealth’s post-war interest in tertiary education. We hope that he will give still further earnest of his enlightenment in several directions. Firstly, we hope that he will see that the number of new scholarships which are made available each year for students at the universities will be increased from 3,000, the number which has stood since 1951. Secondly, we hope he will make an inquiry into the needs of technological education in Australia, as the Murray Committee has already done into the needs of university education, and as the Murray Committee itself recommended that the Commonwealth and State governments, the universities, the technical colleges and industries should combine in doing. Thirdly, we hope that the Commonwealth will give the same assistance, by way of grants to the States, to teaching hospitals, teachers’ colleges and technical colleges as it already gives to the universities, but to the universities alone.
In all these respects, the good work which will be done by this bill, and that which is being done by the other university acts which we have passed, can be made more readily available to the vast number of teenage and twenty-year-old people who will emerge in Australia in the 1960’s. Australia has never had such a large percentage of people of the age at which they would benefit from tertiary education. We believe that this Parliament, by means of State grants and benefits to students, should make opportunities more readily available to that unprecedentedly large proportion of our population which is in a position to benefit from it.
– in reply - I shall not detain the House for long. I am very grateful to honorable members for having supported the principles of this bill so splendidly. However, one or two questions have been raised about whether this amalgamation will reduce the significance of the research work established in the present Australian National University, and I just want to say that it is no part of our intention that it should. We attach the greatest possible importance to research work. We are, in fact, very proud of the work that has been done, of the standard that it has set and of the recognition that it has received in the various branches of the world of scholarship and learning. That work will continue to be the prime preoccupation of those who are engaged in research in this university.
Indeed, one of the purposes of the amalgamation is that undergraduates in what is now called the Canberra University College shall have the great advantage of being students in the same body as that which contains men eminent in various branches of research - men with whom they will have contact as they go on with thencourses, and particularly when they become, as we hope they will, honours students in their final year, before going on to research. That is one of the great advantages. On the other side, as I think I said originally, we profoundly hope that the contact that these research scholars will have, directly or indirectly, with undergraduate students will be of advantage to them. Particularly in dealing with honours classes towards the end of a normal university course, it will be a good thing for the research men themselves, either by specialized lectures or by personal contact, to have the advantage of rubbing shoulders with young men and women who are, as yet, learners, but who, with some encouragement, example and stimulus, will themselves become research workers, and thereby add to the lustre of this university.
I say that because I would not wish it to be thought that anything that is being done on this occasion will diminish in any way our appreciation of the prime importance of research in this university, and of the importance of that research as giving a special quality and standing to the university.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Sections eleven and twelve of the Principal Act are repealed and the following section is inserted in their stead: - “ 11. - (1.) The Council shall consist of -
a student of the University, being a graduate of a university of at least two years’ standing, elected by the students of the University other than those referred to in the last preceding paragraph;
– I move -
In clause 7, omit from proposed paragraph (I> “the students of the University other than those referred to in the last preceding paragraph “, insert “ the matriculated students of the University enrolled for study for degrees of Bachelor and such other students of the University (not being students referred to in the last preceding paragraph), if any, as the Statutes provide “.
There are several amendments proposed, but they are mostly of a drafting kind. I do not think that any one of them makes a substantial change in the scheme which was put before the House earlier, and which is now before the committee. This amendment is one for which the Canberra University College has asked, and with which the Australian National University agrees. Its purpose is to define more precisely a student for the purpose of election to the council. It gives, in effect, a vote to an undergraduate student who is pursuing a course for a bachelor degree. It will, of course, exclude persons who may claim to be students because they are pursuing, perhaps, a short course under university auspices, without being undergraduates studying for a degree. The definition, Sir, meets the intentions of all who have been concerned with this matter. Under the amended provision, taken in conjunction with the previous sub-sections, the student body is divided into two clear parts for the purpose of elections to the council.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 11 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section eighteen of the Principal Act is repealed and the following sections are inserted in its stead: - 18a. The Council shall appoint or elect persons to the following offices in the University: -
Principal of the School;
in respect of each Research School in the Institute, Head of that Research School;
in respect of each Department in a Research School in the Institute, Head of that Department; and
in respect of each Faculty in the School, Dean of that Faculty.”.
– I move -
In clause 12, omit paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) of proposed section 18a.
This is really a decision which has been arrived at by a high degree of mutual accommodation. On reflection, the Canberra University College felt that sub-clause (f) might cut across its normal practice, by which the dean of a faculty is elected by the faculty itself. By omitting sub-clauses (d), (e), and (f), we leave it to the university to work out, by statute and by procedural rules, its own internal arrangements. We feel that, in point of principle, that is the way in which the matter should be handled. We, as legislators, are not vastly concerned about that matter. It is essentially a matter of internal university administration.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 25 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 26 -
At any time on or after the date of commencement of this Part and before the prescribed date, persons may be appointed or elected to the offices specified in section eighteen a of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act, as if that section were in operation, but a person so appointed or elected, other than the Pro-Chancellor or the Deputy ViceChancellor, shall not assume office by virtue of that appointment or election before the prescribed date.
– I move -
In clause 26, omit “ , other than the ProChancellor or the Deputy Vice-Chancellor,”, insert “ as Principal of the School “.
This amendment is really consequential on the second amendment, which I have already spoken to. The clause could have been expressed somewhat more simply, perhaps, by a more elaborate amendment. That seems a contradiction in terms, but honorable members will see what I mean. It means, simply, that the pro-chancellor and the deputy vice-chancellor may be appointed prior to the date of commencement of this part of the act, and continue in office. That is, of course, just elementary good sense, in order to produce the necessary continuity. The appointment of the principal of the school - that is, the School of General Studies - is to take effect from the date of the commencement of this Part. The intention is to allow for continuity in the conduct of the affairs of the university over this interregnum period, particularly in the administrative sense.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 27 agreed to.
Clause 28 -
Statutes of the University may be made at any time on or after the date of commencement of this Part as if the amendments made to the Principal Act by this Act had all come into operation on that date.
.- I move -
Omit the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 28. The power of the Council under the Principal Act to make, alter and repeal Statutes shall be deemed to extend, before the prescribed date, to the making, alteration and repeal of Statutes for the purposes of the Principal Act as amended by this Act and as effected by this Part.”.
This amendment is intended simply to put beyond any doubt that the present council has powers which it can exercise within the scope of the legislation, and the amending legislation, before the prescribed date. Indeed, if we do not have it, we will not have the necessary continuity and there may be some awkward breaks.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
New clause 13a.
.- I move-
After clause 13, insert the following new clause: - “ 13a. Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: -
No act or proceedings of, or of the members or any Committee of, the Council, Convocation or any Board established by this Act, and no act done by a person acting as Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor, shall be invalidated by reason of-
a defect in the appointment, election, choosing or admission of any member of the Council, Convocation or any such Board;
a disqualification of any such member; (c) a defect in the convening of any meeting; or
a vacancy or vacancies in the number of members of the Council or of any such Board.’.”.
This is a form of words which is very familiar in the act and which is not unfamiliar to honorable members in other connexions. It was omitted from the first draft of the bill which was, I am bound to confess, drafted under considerable pressure so that this matter might be dealt with and concluded, if possible, before
Easter. As my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) knows, this kind of provision against invalidating an act done in perfectly good faith but in the presence of some technical flaw is one with which we are familiar, and I invite the committee to agree to it.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported from committee with amendments; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. OPPERMAN (Corio- Minister for
Shipping and Transport) [8.25]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
An international conference attended by representatives of 32 countries, including Australia was held in London in 1954 to consider the problem of the pollution of the sea by oil discharged from ships. Measures designed to overcome the problem were agreed to and were incorporated in the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954. The convention was to come into operation twelve months after the date on which not less than ten countries had ratified, including five countries each with not less than 500,000 gross tons of tanker tonnage. These requirements having been met as at 26th July, 1957, the convention came into operation on 26th July, 1958, in respect of the United Kingdom, Mexico, Sweden, Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, Canada, Norway, Irish Republic, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Since then Finland has ratified.
The discharge of oil into the sea by ships is a serious and world-wide problem, and has increased in magnitude with the change from coal to oil as a fuel for ships and by the increasing oil tanker trade. The countries which are bounded by the sea suffer from oil pollution to a greater or lesser degree including the pollution of beaches, widespread destruction of sea birds and the fouling of fishing gear. There have been specific cases in Australia recently which confirm the need for controls.
The principal difficulty in the way of dealing adequately with this problem arises from the fact that while countries can legislate for the control of shipping within their territorial waters, they cannot legislate to prohibit or control the discharge of oil by foreign ships in waters outside their territorial waters.
The object of the convention is to overcome this difficulty by providing that countries signatory to it prohibit the discharge of oil by ships flying their flags in specified zones adjacent to the coasts of the various countries. It follows that the very desirable objectives which the convention was intended to achieve will only be fully accomplished when all maritime countries ratify it, and it is important, therefore, that Australia should take the necessary steps for ratification. This involves the enactment of complementary legislation by the Commonwealth and the States. Each of the State governments has now indicated that it is agreeable to the adoption of the convention, and a draft bill for enactment by all States will be presented at a Premiers’ Conference. A model bill is being drafted and, when approved, it will be simultaneously placed before each of the State parliaments.
The State legislation will give effect to the convention within the territorial waters of the State concerned, while the Commonwealth legislation will deal with pollution outside these waters. State powers to control the activities of shipping in territorial waters will enable more stringent measures to prevent pollution to be enforced if so desired, but the Commonwealth legislation which is an exercise of the external affairs power in the Constitution can only impose the degree of prohibition laid down in the convention.
It is proposed that the convention be applied to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and requirements similar to those included in the State legislation will be provided in respect of that Territory and the Northern Territory. The installation and maintenance of port facilities for the reception and disposal of oily wastes re sulting from the separation of oil from bilge water and tank washings is an item to be covered by legislation in the States or the Territories.
This Pollution of the Sea by Oil Bill is therefore to provide the necessary legislation to apply the convention so far as Australia is concerned, outside its territorial waters. Such a bill was not introduced earlier because, as I have already mentioned, the convention did not come into effect until the latter part of 1958. The Government decided in early 1959 that action towards ratification should be taken. This involved obtaining the agreement of the State governments after lengthy and rather involved consultation, before a Commonwealth measure could be brought down.
The principal matters with which the bill deals are as follows: -
Under the convention, which appears as Schedule I. to the bill, the prohibited areas off the Australian coast are, for tankers, the waters within 150 miles, and for other ships the waters within 50 miles, except that in the north from Thursday Island westward to 20 degrees south, near Port Hedland, the area is 50 miles wide for all ships.
Under the bill a shipmaster or shipowner will not be liable to penalty if oil is discharged for the safety of the ship or of cargo or of life, or if oil escapes in consequence of damage to the ship or by leakage not due to lack of reasonable care, and all reasonable steps are taken to stop or minimize the escape. Also, it is a defence if proved that discharge from a ship other than a tanker occurred when the ship was proceeding to a port which was not equipped with facilities for the reception of oily water residues.
The bill is drawn to apply to government ships other than naval ships. It is proposed, however, that naval ships shall comply with the requirements as far as is reasonable and practicable. While it is obvious that the convention, and consequently this measure, do not provide the complete answer to the oil pollution problem, the difficulties of obtaining international agreement on this subject are such as would have so far precluded any more satisfactory approach from materializing.
The bill is without doubt a desirable one, and each State government has concurred in its terms. It is recommended for the favorable consideration of all honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24th March (vide page 574), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is a relatively simple one. It is easily understood, and it was explained very briefly by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) when he introduced it last week. The bill is designed to amend the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1953, and its announced purpose is to enable the Australian Meat Board to utilize funds which have been at its disposal for many years, in particular since 1947, for the purpose of promoting, in the main, sales of meat within the confines of Australia.
Section 16 of the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1953, gives the key to this measure. That section provides, amongst other things, that the board shall have power - to make arrangements, either on its own behalf or in collaboration with any other Board or
Authority, for any experiment, act, or thing which, in the opinion of the Board, is likely to lead to the improvement of the quality of, or the prevention of deterioration before or during transport from Australia of, Australian meat, meat products or edible offal, or to promote the sale overseas of such meat, meat products or edible offal.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, indicated that the time has arrived when the power granted under that section of the principal act to promote the sales of Australian meat overseas should be extended to permit the board to undertake promotional activities in Australia, the main purpose of which should be to encourage the sale of Australian high-quality lamb. The Minister did not say it, but it is obvious and I think I should say it, that this bill will empower the board to promote, within the confines of Australia as well as overseas, the sale of pig meat, beef or any other meat.
The funds which are to be made available for these wider purposes were accumulated as an outcome of war-time meat sale contracts with the United Kingdom Government. A very large sum indeed was accumulated. From memory, I thought it amounted to something like £470,000 and I was not far wrong. It was found by the Chifley Government that there was no direct way of distributing back to the individual meat producers this sum which had accrued. The individual ownership of the money had, in effect, been lost. Under those circumstances, the Government of that time put the money into a fund. The fund, which was under the control of the Australian Meat Board, and provided for in the principal act, was known as the Meat Industry Advancement Trust Account. The board could use that money for the purposes of promoting sales of meat overseas, as I have indicated, and it could do something else. The section of the act which I read just now provides that the board may also undertake any experiment, or do any act or any such thing as it thinks will improve the conditions under which meat is produced, or improve the actual condition of the meat itself. This expansion of the authority of the board, enabling it to promote sales in Australia is something new. I agree with the Minister that at the present time it is very necessary from the point of view of the fat lamb raiser in this country.
– Reverting to your earlier comment, the words I used were “ domestic consumption of lamb or any other class of meat “.
– The Minister points out that he said that this was to apply to the sale of lamb or any other class of meat, but he did not specify, for example, beef or pig meat. However, he did emphasize lamb, and perhaps rightly so, because the fat lamb raiser in Australia over the last twelve months has been having a fairly torrid time. A strange circumstance exists in this country. With the price of beef at an all-time record high, one would think that the public would be buying increasing quantities of fat lamb; but that has not been found to be the case.
The Australian Meat Board apparently envisages that when the principal act is amended, it will be able to indulge in promotional activities, encouraging the consumer to eat lamb rather than large quantities of beef. I would not say that that would be good for the beef producer, but at least it is an indicator that there may be some hope for the fat lamb producer. From my point of view, I look upon the problems of the meat producer as arising from an inefficient marketing system rather than from a lack of promotional activities. We have the extraordinary situation to-day, particularly in Victoria, that both the export and local markets for fat lambs are very largely in the hands of big and wealthy operators - and I think the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will agree with that comment. These markets are in the hands of great monopolies. It is true that many firms and individuals hold licences from the Australian Meat Board to export meat, but the small quantities that they export have no material impact on market prices. The bulk of the trade is in the hands of a few people and, just as we have wool pies operating to determine the price of wool, so the very large operators enter into arrangements that depress the price paid for meat on the local and export markets.
– There is much more local competition, though.
– There is some local competition, but the day when the local butcher went into the market, say at Ballarat or Bendigo, and competed fiercely with butchers from Melbourne for the available fat stock, no longer exists. The present trend is for large firms to undertake to buy meat and supply it to the butchers instead of the butchers going to the market to purchase supplies. In Melbourne, a few big wholesale meat operators make all the purchases, and no doubt from time to time they are able to make arrangements between themselves. It may be called a public service, but these operators buy the stock and take it to vast killing works or alternatively hire from the Melbourne City Council accommodation in the abattoirs that was formerly used by the suburban butchers. They kill meat in vast quantities and then deliver it to the door of the suburban butcher. The suburban butcher pays whatever the wholesale meat operator asks for his meat. The suburban butcher is no longer a competitor; he is a victim, as is the producer, of a very large organization which, in the main, has eliminated competition from the meat markets. Nobody can deny that. These people say to the auctioneer, “ Well, Jack, my limit today for fat lambs is £3 2s.”, and the auctioneer knows that it is useless trying to extract any more from the purchasers, because the number of purchasers is limited. The Minister and the honorable member for Mallee should know that that is the position. Any man who goes down to the saleyards at Newmarket on a Tuesday knows that only a very small number of purchasers operates there. The purchasers are limited to the large export firms and to the wholesale meat suppliers who have supplanted the individual suburban butchers. The honorable member for Mallee need not try to deny this. He can see it for himself. If he says that the market does not operate in that way, then he has been asleep for a long time indeed.
The bill introduces an essential provision. In the circumstances, the Opposition will support it. The principal act permits scientific research, experiments and other similar operations to be undertaken. Indeed, in the annual report of the Australian Meat Board, we find a resume of the experimental and scientific work that has been undertaken over the years. Opening the report at random I find that at Belmont there is a breeding station which has received some help from this fund. There are numerous examples of the use already made of the fund for scientific work. However, it is now desired to extend the powers so that the fund may be used for promotional activities. The Minister gives us no idea of the amount of money available.
– The amount is £240,000.
– Apparently the honorable member has information which enables him to give me that figure, but I will give him the exact figures and he may then find that his estimate is not quite right.
– That is the figure to-day.
– I have here in the annual report of the Australian Meat Board the balance-sheet as at 30th June, 1959. The honorable member may have a balance-sheet that is more up to date, but that is the latest information available to me. The balance-sheet, on the liabilities side, shows sundry creditors of £2,210. The accumulated fund has a balance brought forward of £434,059 and a surplus for 1958-59 of £5,208. Total liabilities are £441,477. The assets are cash at bank £13; accrued interest £1,331; advance to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and sundry debtors £278; and investments in Commonwealth Government securities, at cost, £238,832. That in effect is really cash. In addition, the board has freehold properties, including live-stock, plant and equipment, of £201,023. I take it that that includes land already bought from the fund. Assets total £441,477. The fund is now to be known as the Meat Industry Advancement Fund, and this fund will be operable under the amendment which the Minister has introduced. I do not quarrel with the bill.
When we have dealt with this bill, we will consider a bill which relates to the beef industry. Both these industries come under the jurisdiction, for export purpose of the Australian Meat Board. In the next measure, we will give the board power to impose a levy on beef producers. It is rather strange that on the one hand we give the board power to impose a levy on beef producers when at the same time we amend the act to give the board power to use existing moneys, much of which can be used for the same purpose as the beef levy will be used-
– One is promotional and the other is research.
– No; the first bill is not restricted to promotion. I am sure the Minister will not claim that, and indeed his amendment does not restrict it to promotion. The board is given power to do any thing that may be necessary to enable it to conclude the experiments and scientific research that it has already undertaken.
– It would be an extremely foolish board if it duplicated its activities.
– It is not a matter of being foolish. We have two bills amending the same act. One gives power to impose a levy on beef producers and the other gives the board access to moneys available for the purpose of advancing the meat industry - and that includes beef, lamb and pigs. Thus we reach a strange state of affairs. It is true that with the bill now before the House we are giving widened access to an existing sum of money which is available not only for lamb promotion, although the emphasis is placed on lamb, but also for beef promotion, and it is also available for scientific work, research and so on for any branch of the meat industry. Why could not all the provisions have been consolidated?
– One is a new bill and the other is an amending bill.
– They are both new bills in a sense. One is an amendment of the principal act. The other is a new bill which adds to the powers conferred by the principal act. They both deal with the great meat industry. Now we are going to have two acts dealing with the meat industry instead of one.
– I think the honorable member realizes that research bills have customarily been kept separate.
– I concede that point to the Minister. He is not always wrong, nor am I always right. He has pointed out - and his point is a relevant one - that similar measures have been introduced in respect of the wheat industry and, I take it, the dairying industry, the wool industry and other industries, by means of which levies have been imposed. It seems to me, however, that in this case these new measures should have been merged with existing acts to make for simplicity. I realize that the next bill to be introduced will provide for the organization and personnel of the authority which is to administer the Cattle and Beef Research Act. We will have the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee, on the one hand, engaged in scientific, economic and other forms of research, whilst at the same time the Australian Meat Board is still operating and empowered to indulge in certain acts, which means that it can indulge in scientific research, as it has done in the past. It has on occasion assisted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, State departments of agriculture and universities with research work. This research has not been confined to lamb raising; in fact it has been mainly connected with the meat industry. The Australian Meat Board may continue to do this work, and we will have two authorities engaged in research work.
I mention these matters merely in passing. It may well be that the Minister expects - and I hoped that he would give some indication of it - that at a future date the representatives of the fat-lamb industry will come to the Government and say, “We are prepared to submit to a levy on the sale of lambs “.
– The industry substantially financed a particular scheme last year.
– That was in New South Wales. The Minister refers to what was done in that State. That is, of course, a lead; but Victoria is the great fat-lamb producing State. It may be, as I was saying, that the industry’s representatives will say, “ We are prepared to submit to a levy of so much per lamb in order to finance a fund for scientific and other forms of research in the fat-lamb industry “. The Government may then say, as it has done, in effect, in this bill, that it is prepared to subsidize that fund £1 for £1. I hope it will. There is a need for it.
I want to point out one fact to honorable members opposite, particularly the members of the Country Party. Perhaps I should have reserved this comment until the next bill is being debated. My remarks apply to all these bills that are designed to impose levies. Those who are loudest in their condemnation of compulsory unionism and the imposition of levies by unions are those who have no hesitation whatever in roping in, by legislation, all the people in the cattle industry and imposing a levy on them, even though individual cattle producers may not be in favour of such a levy. They have no hesitation in collecting from the growers 2s. for every head of cattle they possess. I have frequently heard the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) talking about inequity - compulsory this and compulsory that - and insisting that a producer’s property is his own and no one else’s. Yet he will come into this House - or if he does not he will be paired - and vote for a bill that will undoubtedly impose a levy on some persons who object to it and would vote against it at a poll.
– The cattle industy organizations asked1 for it.
– The honorable gentleman knows that the cattle organizations have never been able, any more than have the trade unions, to obtain the endorsement of every one of their members for certain things they have done, particularly in respect of the imposition of levies. I make that comment not because I am opposed to the bill, but just to remind honorable members opposite that although they criticize the Labour movement for certain of its policies, they are only too ready to sanction impositions based on similar principles. I agree with their action in doing so. I am merely illustrating my consistency and their inconsistency.
However, there is no point in prolonging the debate on this measure. It has the support of the Opposition. I hope the machinery will work effectively. I think that the work of the Australian Meat Board, overall, has been pretty effective. I shall have some criticism to offer with regard to the measure that will follow this one. But I think the Australian Meat Board has operated fairly well in this country, and I hope that with its enlarged powers and the increased control that it will be given over the fund at its disposal, good work will be done for the people of this country. I believe such work will be of advantage to both consumer and producer.
.- This is really a very simple bill. It makes provision for the Australian Meat Board to use certain accumulated moneys for the promotion of meat sales in Australia. At the present time it has the right to promote sales overseas, and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said in his secondreading speech that when overseas prices are depressed we must find markets in Australia. Only by sales promotion can we afford the industry concerned a good chance of improving its local markets.
As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, the Minister has referred mainly to the fat lamb industry. Fat lamb raisers in this country have been concerned about the state of the industry during the last twelve months. Some years ago fat lambs were bringing very high prices. Sometimes I think the reasons why prices are low now is that they were high previously. I say this for the reason that when prices are high for a certain product, people are unable to afford that product. They get out of the way of using it, and when the price comes within their reach again they do not readily return to it. I believe that a sales promotion campaign such as is envisaged in this bill will do much to induce people to buy lamb. Surely there is nothing nicer than spring lamb.
The beef trade is buoyant in Australia chiefly because of the availability of overseas markets. Sales promotion is not required in the case of beef. These markets have become available mainly because of certain diseases amongst cattle in the Argentine, and the subsequent high prices inducing producers in that country to kill breedingcattle that would not normally have been killed, so causing a disruption in production. The Argentine now cannot supply the American markets, and the Australian beef producer has the advantage of those markets. A publicity campaign is not needed to sell beef. Bull beef has been selling at 4s. 8d. per lb. for American hamburgers. Bulls have sold for as much as £146 a head in Australia. After all, therefore, there is not much need at present for publicity in Australia or overseas so far as beef is concerned.
For this reason the Minister has concentrated on the fat lamb industry. I was interested to hear him say in his secondreading speech -
Indications are that the export outlook foi lamb is such that further action may well be required next season to promote the sale of Iamb throughout Australia.
That is not very good news for lamb raisers, but it is good to know that the Minister is attempting to do something to overcome the difficulty. With an active Minister holding the Primary Industry portfolio, perhaps we can do more in the future than we have done in the past.
The bill has the Country Party’s full support and the Government’s full support. The Minister has explained the measure adequately. Let me refer to the amount of money that will be available. There seems to be some difference of opinion between the honorable member for Lalor and myself. I gave a figure by way of interjection. That figure was supplied by the Department of Primary Industry to-day. It was a figure of £240,000, made up of cash and investments, as at 30th June, 1959. Since then there may have been some change, and it is possible that the figure might not be quite accurate. Nevertheless, there is a large amount of money available. This money could be used almost exclusively for the fat lamb trade, particularly as the beef trade does not require assistance at the present time.
I believe that this bill has the approval of raisers of all kinds of meat. I am not going to be led off the track by the reference of the honorable member for Lalor to compulsory unionism. He mentioned that in the wrong place. He said that it related to the next bill that will be .debated. If he persists in dealing with that subject in the debate on the next bill he will get the full answer from this corner of the House at the appropriate time, I can assure him.
I shall deal now with what the honorable member for Lalor said .about marketing. The main thing about the marketing .of any product is to have a buoyant demand. There is not the slightest doubt about that. It applies to meat, wool or anything you like. That is why we see much advertising of everything from the detergents which ladies use in washing machines to motor cars. After the ladies have heard a product being advertised on the air and seen it advertised in the newspapers and on television a few times - we will say it is a detergent which is supposed to wash whiter than snow - they say, “ I shall try this “. Having tried it, if it turns out all right, they go on buying it. That is why I suggest thai we should advertise lamb over the air and on television. A television advertisement showing chops that look beautifully tender makes people almost imagine that they are eating them, and a husband will say to his wife, “ When you go down the street tomorrow, get some lamb chops, because beef is pretty dear.” I believe that if we undertook this sort of advertising, we should be on the right track.
I have often been twitted in this House because 1 was an auctioneer once. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr, Daly), only recently, said that my occupation was that of an auctioneer. I have not been an auctioneer since before the last war. I sold at Newmarket one morning in 1940 and I was in camp with the Australian Imperial’ Force the same afternoon. I have not since had an opportunity to submit any sheep, lambs or anything^ else at auction. However, it is a fact that I was a live-stock auctioneer for quite a long time. In that occupation, I got certain information about marketing that would not be available to people like the honorable member for Lalor.
– It was said that the honorable member was a commission man.
– The remark that the honorable member made was absolutely untrue. But I was not hurt by it. The auctioneering business is a perfectly legitimate and honest trade, and its standing depends on the men in it, as does that of any business or trade. If one likes to adopt sharp practices, he can bring to a low level the reputation of any business or trade. In Victoria, we have in the auctioneering business men of high standing who buy stock for clients all over the country and consign the stock to the buyers without the buyers having- even seen the animals, such is the confidence they engender. These auctioneers are men of integrity, high standing and long experience.
Now I come back to what the honorable member for Lalor said about sales/ He said that, at stock sales at Newmarket, the big butchers put their heads together and formed pies. But, only last week, the honorable member was clamouring for legislation to prevent pies in the wool industry - legislation of the very kind that was introduced in Victoria in 1936 regarding stock. I remember on many occasions reading the provisions about tossing for or splitting lots or buyers getting together and arranging that only certain ones would compete. The auctioneer has to read those provisions before every auction takes place. The honorable member for Lalor now adopts very strange reasoning when he says that pies operate at livestock sales in Victoria, where there is in existence legislation of the very kind that he sought to have introduced in order to prevent pies in the wool industry. This Victorian legislation has operated in respect of auction sales of stock at Newmarket and elsewhere in Victoria since 1936, as I have already said. But the honorable member speaks with once voice in respect of a motion that he submits to this House and with an entirely different voice in respect of this bill and the conduct of the stock sales, although the relevant circumstance’s are exactly the same, as I am sure even Opposition members will agree.
It has been suggested that the big exporters go along to the auctions at Newmarket and say, “ We can pay only so much per lb. for lamb to-day; so it is of no use to try to push our bids up “. That suggestion is utterly ridiculous, because no one knows the figure which the big exporter may have set as his top price, and some of those whom we used to call the mosquito brigade - the small exporters or the country and suburban butchers who kill their own meat - will come into the market as opportunity offers and bid for a certain lot or lots. There is not the slightest doubt that that is what happens. I am always ready to agree with the honorable member for Lalor when he is right, but I certainly do not agree with him when he is wrong.
Big companies are buying fat lambs in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia, but it is very hard to establish co-operative organizations run by the farmers themselves. We had certain experience of this a long time ago in Victoria, when co-operative freezing works were established at Ballarat, Murtoa, Donald and Bendigo. The honorable member for Lalor will agree with me that most sellers will always take the best price that they can get. I have seen for myself what happens, and this is what happened in respect of these co-operative freezing works. I know that this is true. A buyer from the farmers’ own organization - we will say, from the freezing works that used to operate at Donald - might come along. The time of which I am speaking was a time when prices were lower than they are today. The buyer might say that he would pay 16s. for lambs. The owner might say, “ All right, but I have some one else to inspect them “. Finally, after a number of prospective buyers from different works had inspected the stock, the price might have been forced up to ls. 6d. or 2s. above the true value, and the buyer from the farmers’ organization might pay 2s. a head more than market rates. It is no wonder the farmers’ organizations so often became bankrupt and went out of business.
The honorable member for Lalor envisages inland killing works, with which I largely agree, and he suggested that every grower of fat lambs or other stock for meat production would stick closely to them and not sell to buyers from elsewhere. If the producer would sell only to these organizations that are established by the farmers, he would then get world export price for his meat. That would perhaps be a panacea - or shall I say a Utopian condition - which we shall never see, because a higher price offered by an outside buyer would so often be accepted. Also, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, some primary producers are not amenable in any way to the conditions required for co-operative organizations, no matter how good they are.
The honorable member said that, as this was only the first of a number of bills dealing with the meat industry, he would not detain the House very long, and I think that I shall adopt the same attitude.
– Knock it down to the highest bidder with all faults, if any!
– Evidently, the honorable member has no fat lambs. If he had he would not be chipping in like that now. When the next bill is before the House, perhaps I shall be able to add something to the contributions made by the honorable member for Lalor and other speakers.
.- MrDeputy Speaker, I feel that it is incumbent, on me to support the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) in this debate. The residents of his electorate have suffered as a result of the trend of lamb prices. Although practically no lambs are shorn in the Wide Bay Division, and although it is said that beef is best in the Burnett, I think, nevertheless, that we all appreciate the need for sales promotion, especially when a market is depressed. I support the statement by the honorable member for Mallee that the amount of advertising that takes place in this country is a good indicator of what is required. The honorable member himself is a perfect subject for the injunction, “Keep that schoolgirl complexion “.
I want to take the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to task for attacking the Australian Country Party and alleging that it is opposed to unions. He attempted to establish that, because we, as members of that party, support a bill that will impose a levy on producers in order to provide funds for research, we are doing something equivalent to joining a union and supporting compulsory unionism. I think it is hardly necessary to point out that the bill he mentions does not make any grazier oi landholder join a union. It says that a certain levy shall be imposed. The honorable member for Lalor distresses me because I thought that he could argue more logically than he did. It is necessary for me to say no more than that promotion is necessary and I support the bill.
.- I would like to join in the support of the bill, the second reading of which has been moved by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). I shall not take up much time, but I would like to draw attention to a couple of matters relating to the quantity of lamb and mutton that is produced and exported. In the year 1957-58, 64,000,000 lb. of lamb was exported, and 42,000,000 lb. of mutton, a total of 106,000,000 lb. If we turn the clock back to the year 1913, we find that 205,000,000 lb. of mutton and lamb was exported. In the years from 1934 to 1939, the figure fell to 153,000,000 lb. In 1957-58, as I have said, the total was 106,000,000 lb., or approximately half of the amount that we were exporting in 1913.
Honorable members may ask the reason for the big drop in our exports. There are two obvious reasons. One is that the population has increased. It is remarkable to learn that despite what we are led to believe about people going off some of our standard foods, such as meat and bread, the average annual consumption per head has remained at between 70 lb. and 80 lb. from the period before the war until to-day.
I believe that the fat lamb producer is not increasing his production in accordance with the demand of the increasing population, and that this is the reason for the reduction in our exports. The average annual production before the war was 315,000 tons. To-day, it has only increased to a little over 420,000 tons. That, to my way of thinking, proves that there is some reason why we are not increasing lamb production at the rate of other increases in production.
I feel that the main reason why the fat lamb farmer is not encouraged to produce more is the price that he receives. When we have difficulty in selling any type of produce the first means of increasing sales that we must consider is some form of promotion. That is the object of the bill. For the purpose of promotion in the fat lamb industry, in my opinion, not only should we consider using some of the funds that have been accumulated over the years, but we should even go as far as considering striking further levies such as we have in the wool industry, or the wheat research levy.
This is not, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) says, a form of compulsory unionism. Most producers realize that if their article is hard to sell they must do something about it and they can only do something about it by engaging in some form of promotion. I do not believe there is any dispute about the advantages of promotion. In this regard, one could name big, successful undertakings such as Myer’s in Melbourne. Why do they spend their money on promotion? Because it brings results. I feel that the lamb industry could follow suit.
I do not want to continue this debate needlessly. I want only to offer my support for this bill and to state that the only way in which lamb producers can continue to dispose of their article to the public is by utilizing some form of promotion. We are considering a bill authorizing the disposal of funds by the Meat Board. The only thing that I can see wrong is that there are possibly not sufficient funds to last for any length of time and, sooner or later, we will find that we must impose some form of levy. I support the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - toy leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24th March (vide page 576), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is of very great importance to Australia as a whole. It is of particular importance to the beef cattle industry. The measure proposes to set up a committee immediately to do many things for the benefit of the beef cattle industry in Australia. The committee is to be known as the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee. It will have the power to administer a fund to be raised by means of a levy imposed at the rate of 2s. per head for carcasses that have been skinned and do not exceed 200 lb. in weight, and the same rate for unskinned carcasses that do not exceed 220 lb. in weight. The levy is estimated to return £320,000, and the Government undertakes to contribute £1 for £1, thus bringing into the committee’s control, subject to certain powers of the Minister, an additional £320,000. A sum of £640,000 will enable a great deal of work to be done directly for the beef cattle industry and, of course, indirectly for Australia, because the beef export industry ranks fifth among our export-earning primary industries.
I think that I should read to the House the details of the powers to be reposed in the committee. The money controlled by the committee is to be expended, subject to the control of the Minister - he holds the controlling rein - for the following purposes, which are stated in clause 6. (1.): -
And - this is most important -
Most important, to my mind, are the headings of expenditure by the committee mentioned in the next paragraph which reads -
The remainder of the clause deals with the payment of fees and allowances to members of the committee and powers to undertake certain expenditures. Now, the personnel of the committee is a very important matter indeed. It is quite true, as the Minister has said, that the committee will have only a remote association with the Australian Meat Board. Perhaps it is wise that the control of this fund is to be vested in a committee which will specialize in carrying out the functions that I have just read to the House. Clause 9. - (1.), dealing with the constitution of the committee, reads -
The Committee shall consist of -
the Chairman of the Board;
four persons to represent the Graziers’ Federal Council of Australia;
two persons to represent the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation;
one person to represent the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation;
one person to represent the organization known as the Australian Agricultural Council;
one person to represent the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization;
one person to represent such Universities as engage in research into matters affecting the beef industry; and
one person to represent the Department of Primary industry.
At this point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I foreshadow that the Opposition will move an amendment at the committee stage directed to the acceptance, by the Minister, of a suggestion that he should include in the personnel of the committee a person nominated by the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees Association and the Central Australian Pastoral Lessees Association as representing the beef cattle producers of the Northern Territory and Central Australia. Adoption of this proposal would add one member to the committee as now proposed, bringing the membership, including the chairman, to thirteen. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) will move the amendment in committee, and I will not argue its merits at the moment, although 1 think they are very substantial and well justified.
The bill further provides for the manner of the appointment of the committee. The period of office is to be three years, and the members of the committee are to be eligible for reappointment. There does not seem to be any mention, either in the bill itself or in the Minister’s second-reading speech, although there may be something somewhere, of any provision for the committee to own property, such as its own administrative offices. There is provision, of course, for the appointment of staff, and I feel sure that somewhere there must be such a provision as the one I have mentioned but cannot find. I think we also ought to have some indication from the Minister of the period of time that members of this committee are expected to devote to performing the functions vested in them. The member of the committee who represents the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will also be employed by the organization he represents. That will apply also to the representatives of the universities, the Department of Primary Industry and of the graziers’ organizations. But it is necessary to have executive members and staff, and a general set-up. Apparently all the personnel of the committee are to be part-time people, and in those circumstances there will obviously have to be a reasonably effective and well-controlled executive staff. So some suitable accommodation will have to be provided for them.
The committee is to be empowered to undertake several functions, all of which are important; but the most important of them are scientific research, economic research and technical research. Why, if the committee succeeds only in satisfactorily coping with the great cattle tick problem in Australia, it will be worth all the effort that will be made and all the money that will be spent! Already the Departments of Agriculture of Queensland and New South Wales, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, have done magnificent research on the very dreadful problem of cattle tick infestation. They are well on the road to demonstrating that while dipping is essential as part of the process involved in the eradication of the pest, in the long run dipping in conjunction with isolation paddocks, which are always a difficulty in vast territories, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory understands better than I do, is necessary. It is known that the cattle tick has a certain life cycle, and that unless the eggs left on the grass reach a beast within a certain period of days, they cease to have any longer the ability to affect cattle.
– Months, not days.
– I know it will take a long time, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that with provision for isolation for months or longer, we could eventually eradicate the pest. If this committee can solve that problem it will prove to have been well worth establishing.
There are other problems that I wish to mention. There is the problem of establishing in Queensland, the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia plants that will add nitrogen to the soil and so enable the growth of better and more nutritious pastures. On the economic side there is the all-important question of marketing. I do not think that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) would deny that proper marketing methods can eventually solve almost all the problems of the primary producer of this country or, for that matter, of any country. The solution lies in the inauguration, largely as a result of the efforts of the pri mary producers themselves, where necessary assisted by governments, of cooperative marketing enterprises. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) perhaps would affirm that meat transactions are very difficult to deal with. Already he has indicated what happened to the freezing companies in Victoria, at Donald, Ballarat and elsewhere. I can tell him of the tragic history of them all. They failed and had to be rescued ultimately by the Government, but that does not prove that co-operative enterprises are always bound to fail, particularly when they are backed by statute law. The honorable gentleman knows that the most outstanding examples in this country of successful co-operative marketing organizations, backed by the laws of States and the Commonwealth, are those that apply to the wheat industry - which is an Australia-wide industry - and to the sugar industry of Queensland.
– And the peanut industry, too.
– Yes, but the outstanding examples are sugar and wheat. In both cases, the pioneering legislation was enacted by a Labour government. The problem of how to prevent buyers forming organizations and so determining what they will pay can be dealt with under systems such as that. It is useless for the honorable member for Mallee or anybody else to endeavour to divert attention from that fact by engaging in tarradiddle about legislation in Victoria being effective for the prevention of the practice of lot splitting or the formation of pies by buyers in Victoria. That legislation is on the statute-book in Victoria, but the people who do these things escape from its provisions. They do not escape in the cases of wheat and sugar, and they will not escape in the cases of wool, cattle and sheep when the organized primary producers of this country have the backing of legislation for their co-operative enterprises. The honorable member can talk as much as he likes about lot-splitting legislation or restrictive trade practices legislation. What this party has always wanted is co-operative enterprise backed by statute law. We have not only urged that that system be adopted, but we have given practical examples of its effectiveness.
– Do you feel better now that you have got that off your chest?
– The honorable member for Mallee says that I feel better for having got that off my chest. That is true, but what I have said is important. Cooperative marketing schemes of this kind come within the ambit of the economic research that this organization should engage in, in addition to scientific and technical research work. The word “ economic “, if it means anything, has some relation to economic marketing.
Let me touch on another phase of this matter which comes within the ambit of the word “ economic “. Perhaps members of the Country Party will take some notice of this, because the people whom they assert they represent are the people who are being hurt directly, although, of course, people throughout Australia are being hurt. Let me quote from this year’s annual report of the Australian Meat Board. There is a reference to the fact that on 11th July, 1958, the Australian Overseas Transport Association made an agreement on shipping freights after the Conference line shipping companies had asked for increases of the freight on chilled beef of lid. per lb., English currency; on frozen beef of Id. per lb., English currency; on mutton and lamb of one halfpenny per lb., English currency; on fruit of ls. English currency per box; and on egg pulp of 15 per cent. The board stated -
After negotiation between shippers and shipowners, new freight rates finally were agreed to operate from November 1, 1959. The increases were less than those originally submitted by shipowners and the new freight rates for meat from Australia and comparisons from New Zealand and South America are shown in the following tables.
Let us see how freight rates press on the meat producers of this country. In 1953 the increase, as a percentage of the rates prevailing in the pre-war period, was 8.2 per cent. Tn 1956 the shipowners whacked the freights up by 7.6 per cent. In 1957 they shoved them up by another 14 per cent., in 1958 by 12.7 per cent, and in 1959 by 23.7 per cent. - a total increase since the pre-war period of 374 per cent.
This committee, if it intends to operate in the economic field, ought to be able to make very good suggestions on how to deal with such a dreadful situation. The reason why that situation exists is that this country does not own one solitary ship equipped to carry chilled or refrigerated cargo. We are completely at the mercy of the Conference line companies.
– By what percentage have the prices of primary products gone up in that time?
– They have gone up considerably. However, I will not be sidetracked, because I want to say more about this. We are at the mercy of these shipping companies. This is an economic problem. All the primary products which this country exports, with the exception, perhaps, of wheat, are carried by the Conference line companies - fourteen United Kingdom companies and eight continental companies. We do not own a solitary overseas ship, except a few which cart superphosphate from Nauru and make a few voyages to Singapore. In the economic sense, we are at the mercy of these people. Can we blame them for taking the maximum profits?
I look forward to the time when this committee, vested with the power to do something in the field of economic research, will submit proposals to this Government, with which even the Country Party will agree. From the defence point of view alone, ignoring the economic point of view for a moment, this country, with 12,000 miles of coastline and 10,000,000 people, should be at least as well off in the ownership of ships to take its products all over the world as are little Norway, Finland. Denmark and other countries.
– They are all privately owned ships. There are no governmentowned lines in those countries.
– Even privately owned ships would be better than nothing. It would be better than nothing, if this committee found itself unable to recommend a line of government-owned ships, for it to recommend a line of privately owned ships in Australia. Then there would be on the private register of this country overseas ships registered as owned by Australians, and inevitably they would come within the control of the Commonwealth Government. However, I would prefer government-owned ships. We had some once. They were sold for a song to Lord Kylsant, but we were never paid for them. They saved the stockowners of this country, directly and indirectly, millions of pounds. This most important economic problem could well be dealt with by the committee.
There are other facets of this matte: which should be considered. I firmly believe that the selection of the personnel of the committee has been carried out very satisfactorily, and I am sure that the committee can be depended upon to do great work both for the industry and for the people of Australia because it has a responsibility to them. The industry will provide £320,000, and the taxpayers will provide an equal amount to meet the cost of the proposed research.
Finally, I want the members of the Country Party to get this fact clearly in their minds: 1 have never postulated that legislation dealing with restrictive trade practices and monopolies is the complete answer to the problems of the primary producer. But I have always said that co-operative enterprise, backed by the law, bringing in the renegades and the non-unionists to play their part and to pay their share of the costs, is one of the best answers that you could find. If the Country Party adopted that policy of co-operative marketing, it would continue to have the support of the Labour Party. I wish the bill well.
There are two other small bills which the committee has agreed to consider with the bill which is now before us. One provides for the method of collecting the levy which will be imposed under the Cattle Slaughter Levy Act. There will be a lot of complaints from municipal abattoirs, butchers and many other people. This bill is fairly complicated, but I have no doubt that the competent officers of the department will be able to reduce it to easily understandable language for the benefit of the people who will have to collect the money. I do not like these things because, without doubt, people in business to-day are being inundated with forms and returns which they have to complete. However, I suppose this has to be done and that we will have to support it.
I notice that there is some provision for exemption from the levy of establishments which do not slaughter more than ten head of cattle a month. T support the bill.
.- I shall not detain the House for very long. This is also a very simple bill which provides for a levy of 2s. per head to be paid on all cattle slaughtered for human consumption weighing over 200 lb. dressed, or 220 lb. with the skin on.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has been reasonably fair in his comments, and if he had not taken exception to certain things which I had said in relation to the preceding bill, it probably would not have been necessary for me to continue the debate. The honorable member apparently overlooked this most important passage in the Minister’s second-reading speech -
As I have already mentioned, the bill is the outcome of negotiations in the Australian Agricultural Council and with meat producer organizations. It gives expression to the wishes of the producers that research in their industry should increase, and to their conviction that the industry itself should supply funds for its own future welfare.
That is the foundation of the bill, as the Minister explained very clearly. But the Minister went further and said not only that the industry will pay for the research out of its own funds, but also that the Government will match its contribution on a £l-for-£l basis. We are very happy about the fact that the Government has seen fit to do this because the beef industry is becoming increasingly important. The total beef and veal production has increased from 606,000 tons in 1949-50 to 908,000 tons in 1958-59. I believe that, as a result of the proposed research, production will increase still further. I believe that markets overseas, especially in America, will be available to us for some years. I do not suggest that prices in the future will be as high as they have been, but the industry will pay good dividends even with slightly lower prices than the peak prices of some little time ago.
The Cattle Slaughter Levy Bill seeks to impose a levy of 2s. a head on all cattle which are slaughtered, and the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill provides the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy which will be payable by the person who owns the cattle at the time when the slaughter takes place. Persons who slaughter ten head a month or fewer will be exempt from the levy. I do not know the exact reason for that exemption, but I guess that the cost of collecting a levy of perhaps 10s. or £1 a month would be much greater than the amount collected and the proposition, therefore, would not be economically sound.
We give this bill every support. We note with pleasure that the research which is envisaged by the Minister will be very widespread. No doubt members of the Country Party from northern New South Wales and Queensland who participate in this debate will deal with the great scourge of the cattle tick. If the proposed research does something to overcome the cattle tick which robs cattle of their condition and kills so many beasts, then that achievement alone will make the whole thing worth while. Pleuro-pneumonia is another scourge from which the cattle industry has suffered for a long time. But the research will go further than that. It will deal with such matters as pasture improvement and the improvement of the quality of our beef, which is of paramount importance, by breeding and stock management. Nothing looks better than a herd of well-bred beef cattle, Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorns or Herefords, particularly good stud bulls. But nothing looks worse than a herd of brindles, browns and scrub bulls. If this bill results in lifting the standard of cattle in Australia, it will have fulfilled its purpose over and over again, and the money which will have been spent will not be significant in comparison with the millions of pounds which will flow to Australia as a result of it.
This bill, which will implement wide research into the industry, and which was in fact instigated by the industry itself, is very pleasing. I have no doubt that it will result in the rapid growth and development of the beef cattle industry in Australia.
Clause 4 of the bill is in these terms -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ abattoir “ includes any place where cattle are slaughtered; “ calf “ means a bovine animal the dressed weight of the carcase of which does not exceed -
in the case of a carcase having the skin removed - two hundred pounds; and
in the case of a carcase having the skin on - two hundred and twenty pounds.
That definition of a calf is quite different from the idea of a calf which is held by the general public. When people see a small animal they regard it as a calf. When it grows bigger it is looked upon as a vealer, and as it continues to grow it is regarded as a heifer or a steer. The sale yards at big centres like Homebush and Newmarket have what are called calf pens in which calves are sold. No attempt is made to limit the size of the animals to, say 200 lbs. Calves are regarded as beasts not more than two years of age but older cattle get in. Therefore, one may buy a so-called calf weighing anything up to 500 or 600 lb. I believe that the definition of a calf in this bill is a true definition. As I have said, the levy will not be charged on any beast which weighs under 200 lb. or 220 lb., as the case may be, or if fewer than ten head a month are slaughtered. The cost of the research is being subsidized by the Government.
I shall not try to reply to the statement which was made by the honorable member for Lalor regarding restrictive trade practices. I merely point out to him that the inconsistencies in his remarks will appear in “ Hansard “.
.- I rise to support this measure, and do so with a great deal of pleasure because, as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has indicated, it provides for intensive research into problems in the beef cattle industry. The cattle-growers are actually financing the scheme, certainly on a £l-for-£l subsidy basis from the Government, and this will cost them £320,000 a year. According to the Minister, a committee known as the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee is to be established, and among other things it will conduct research into ways and means of increasing production so as to meet the growing demands of our population and endeavour, as well, to increase our export earnings. The Minister pointed out that in recent years beef and veal production increased from 606,000 tons in 1949-50 to 908,000 tons in 1958-59.
This is an industry in which we have seen great changes in recent years, particularly since the end of World War II. These changes have been accentuated by virtue of the fifteen-years meat agreement with the United Kingdom, and also by the entry of Australian beef into the United States market.
I propose to discuss this measure from the point of view of the industry in northwest Queensland. To-day there are not many nondescript five and six year old cattle coming into the saleyards, particularly in Brisbane. There is a percentage of young beef, eighteen months to two years old. The majority of the cattle are in the vicinity of three and four years old. This may be due to the fact that in Brisbane, where the sales are held every week, the cattle are drawn from small areas and holdings and come in in small lots. But, in addition, other cattle are drawn from the larger area of the State.
It is not so many years ago that we were told in Queensland that we would never be able to grow young beef or produce the younger type of cattle. But this is now being produced and finding its way into the markets of Queensland. In 1959, shipments of chilled beef were sent from Gladstone, Rockhampton and Townsville. Certainly there may not have been so much as in the previous year, but at least from those three ports, where meat works are established, chilled beef was exported.
The processers, as well as the consumers, want younger beef for the export market and for local consumption. Unfortunately, the great bulk of our beef which is sent to Great Britain is exported in a frozen condition. The result is that a tremendous increase in our income from chilled beef could be achieved if this proposed committee would investigate the question of thawing frozen beef. This problem has been investigated over a long period in an effort to make the beef, when thawed, look like fresh beef.
Not long ago I was at Smithfield in London and had the opportunity of seeing Australian frozen beef alongside chilled beef from the Argentine. The comparison would make any one urge the Government to do something about trying to improve the appearance of our frozen beef. This is one of the problems for research to which some of the funds should be devoted when they become available. There is a constant demand in the United Kingdom for frozen beef. I was told that the market would take about 100,000 tons. About 50 per cent, of that comes from Australia. I asked who bought this frozen beef and was told that 75 per cent, of it went to institu tions, 25 per cent, to cafes and 25 per cent, was bought by people who could not afford to buy better quality chilled beef.
I was informed that there was a market for chilled beef not merely of 100,000 tons but for 1,000,000 tons. Of the chilled beef, coming on the United Kingdom market, 820,000 tons represented local production. One-third, or roughly 330,000 tons comes from the Argentine and one-fifth, or roughly 200,000 tons comes from the rest of the world. Australian beef is included in this lesser quantity. Obviously there is a grand opportunity for this country to really break into the chilled beef trade and get a better price. This will mean a greater return to the grower and a large increase in the export earnings of this industry.
I was told that the main trouble with first-quality Australian beef is that it is too fat. The same complaint was made about the Argentine beef. The British consumer wants leaner beef. The market requirement to-day is for good formation and young beef from two to three years old. If this is supplied there will be -^/quicker return to the grower. He will not have to hold his beasts so long and take all the risks of drought, flood and fire, and then perhaps not get so much for a five-year-old carcass as he would for a two-year-old.
Therefore, with the possible expansion of markets and research being made into the question of chilled beef, this legislation will enable us, as a young country, to compete in the overseas markets for a higher price. There is a tendency to-day to urge the Australian meat producer to meet the needs of the United Kingdom consumer and market beef at a younger age. The research which I know will be carried out at the instigation of this proposed committee will result in a further expansion of our chilled beef trade.
I wish to take this opportunity of making a complimentary remark about the Blue Star shipping line. This line is prepared to co-operate in an expansion of the chilled beef trade. Since 1958 it has sent ships round Cape York through Torres Strait and this has meant a saving of twenty to 30 days in the transportation of chilled beef to the United Kingdom markets. One of these ships actually travelled around Cape York and reached the United Kingdom in 28 days. This co-operation by this shipping company is appreciated by the cattle producers. Members in this House should show that we also appreciate its action in making available ships to get our chilled beef to the United Kingdom market in the shortest space of time and, as a consequence, in much better condition. This enables Australian chilled beef to compete with that from the Argentine on the United Kingdom market.
In recent years, we have seen developments in the central west of Queensland. In small places, such as Alpha, Emerald and Clermont, saleyards have been established. At Garbutt, in the electorate of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), weekly sales are held. These weekly sales would tend to encourage a cattle man to bring his stock in to market at a younger age than he did formerly, and so bring him into this more lucrative field instead of his being compelled to rely on the frozen beef trade. Many of the beasts sold for the frozen beef trade in Queensland come from the Northern Territory. They cannot be walked into Queensland until they are three years old. If the producer wanted to take them to the Channel country, they would be on the road with a drover for six months, in some instances. By the time they reached the Channel country, they would have developed a lot of muscle and would be pretty tough. It then takes at least another twelve months to top them off. As a result, the cattle are nearer five years than four years of age when they are sold. This type of beast is being killed for the frozen beef trade. Stock is brought into Queensland from the gulf down to more favoured areas nearer the meat works, and topping off takes anything up to twelve months.
In addition, store cattle has been sent from Queensland to New South Wales. However, Australia’s entry into the United States market has meant that the number of store cattle available for the New South Wales trade is not as great as it has been. Central and northern Queensland store cattle is also brought down into southern Queensland, and again the competition for store cattle has meant that the people who buy the stores now find it difficult to get the cattle to fatten. The industry in the future will have to face the problem of a shortage of store cattle. I said that last year a considerable quantity of store cattle was killed and sent to the United States of America as boneless beef. Exports of this beef from Australia to the United States for the quarter ended 31st October, 1959, totalled 72,819,000 lb., valued at nearly £11,000,000, and to the United Kingdom for the same period totalled 72,588,000 lb., valued at almost £7,600,000. The latest figure that I have shows that for the whole of 1959 about 100,000 tons of this class of beef were exported to the United States. This market was very lucrative last year because America, like Australia, suffers from periodical droughts. A drought and other factors caused a demand for meat from outside the United States. This year, producers will find that the price of Australian meat will be much lower than it was last year, and the demand even at the lower price may not be as great.
As I said, the Argentine is Australia’s main competitor in the United Kingdom market. This competition will be more severe in the future than it was last year. The Argentine reduced its exports to the United Kingdom because of the killing off of its breeders, but I understand now that all the short-comings have been overcome and this year the quantity of chilled beef going to the United Kingdom market from the Argentine will be substantially increased. Market research by Australia will then be necessary. This research should be undertaken not only into the United Kingdom market but also into other markets for our frozen beef. Last year, we lost the Japanese market to New Zealand. We should investigate the opportunities for marketing our beef in the Far East, where, it has been suggested, the standard of living is steadily rising. Just how this would affect the market for Australian beef would be discovered if research were undertaken. However, we know that cattle on the hoof, certainly not in very great numbers, has been exported from Australia to the Argentine.
I suggest that an investigation be undertaken to ascertain what relief from our recurring droughts can be provided. I do not suggest that the researchers should become rainmakers, but other methods, such as improved water facilities on stock routes and properties, could be adopted to minimize the effects of drought. Whatever can be done should be done, in the interests of the community as a whole, to overcome the calamitous losses that result from droughts.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) mentioned the problem of tick control. The tick has been the scourge of the cattle man for a long time, and attempts have been made to minimize its effect by introducing a breed of cattle suitable for tropical conditions. Many years ago, the Brahman and the Zebu types were introduced. Then came the Zebu cross and recently the Santa Gertrudis, which is a Zebu cross produced by the King Ranch in the United States of America. Whether the results expected from this type of cattle will be attained remains to be seen. For some time now, graziers in north Queensland have been experimenting with the cross breeding of this type of cattle in an effort to produce a type suitable for tropical conditions. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has for some time been conducting experiments in pleuro at its cattle property known as Belmont at Rockhampton. In addition, it has been carrying out experiments on tropical types of pastures. These pastures can be seen not far from Canberra, outside Brisbane and in the electorate of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe). I am pointing out that the C.S.I. R.O. is endeavouring to improve natural pastures in Queensland. In that State it experiences a difficulty that it does not have to contend with in the southern parts of Australia. Under normal conditions in Queensland there are dry winters and dry springs, and this climatic condition creates a problem that must be surmounted. Both the wool-grower and the cattleman hope that the efforts of the C.S.I.R.O. in its pasture improvement work will be crowned with success in some degree. They hope that it may be able to do for western Queensland what it did for southern Australia with the introduction of subterranean clover.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock has also been carrying out experiments in regard to new types of pastures. These experiments have been conducted at a place near Gayndah.
I suggest, with all due respect, that one of the principal matters that the committee will have to inquire into is the provision of transport facilities. I have told the House how cattle from the Northern Territory have to spend up to six months on the road, covering over 1,000 miles, and walking the condition off themselves before they get to the fattening country. I have also mentioned that the chilled beef market is more lucrative than that of frozen beef. The provision of better transport facilities can do much to increase our export earnings in the cattle industry.
We have been told that the Townsville to Mount Isa railway is to be reconditioned. I shall have something to say about that when the relevant bill is before the House. I would simply mention at this stage that the reconditioning of this railway will allow faster trains to travel between Mount Isa and Townsville, and that I believe the time has arrived for the extension of the railway from Mount Isa or Dajarra across to Birdum in the Northern Territory. This would obviate the necessity for Northern Territory cattle to be driven 1,000 miles, as is the case at present. It is encumbent upon this Government, which is responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory, to do something to assist the primary producers, particularly the cattlemen, in that area. The railway that I suggest would mean a great deal to them.
Some people will say that the provision of railways is too costly an undertaking. I remind them, however, that £30,000,000 is to be spent on reconditioning the line between Townsville and Mount Isa, and that this will cover a big proportion of the whole distance from Townsville to Birdum.
I suggest also that the provision of certain other railways could be investigated, with a view to enabling cattlemen to sell younger beasts than they do now. Railways could be provided between Burketown and Cloncurry, and between Normanton and Julia Creek, tapping the area around the Gulf of Carpentaria where there is assured annual monsoonal rainfall. The cattlemen in that district could then readily dispose of their stock, without having to walk the bloom off them, or drive them until they were muscle-bound, as they must do at present. Railways such as these would help greatly to increase our export earnings, about which the Government professes to be so concerned.
While on the subject of transport, let me say a few words about roads. I have heard on the air and seen in the press reports that a meeting of graziers is to be held shortly to discuss the matter of the provision of sealed roads. This is very important from the point of view of the cattle industry. Road trains are used by the Vestey organization to bring cattle from the Northern Territory into Queensland. Two of these road-trains are used. I have seen them, and I think they carry about 100 cattle each. This method of transporting the cattle is certainly much more costly than droving them. The Vestey organization should be asked for information about the cost of operating these road trains. It should then be possible to ascertain how much would be saved by transporting three-year-old cattle in this way and selling them, instead of taking them at the age of three years, walking them 1,000 miles, and then holding them until they are five years old before selling them. It must be remembered that if they can be transported quickly they can be sold on the lucrative chilled beef market that I mentioned previously.
I have been told by one of the drivers of these road trains that with the dirt roads that they must use at present, whenever they come to a depression all the cattle fall forward, and when the vehicle goes up the other side the cattle fall back. Extensive bruising is thus caused, and this could be obviated if sealed roads were provided. It would be necessary for this Government to confer with the State Governments and arrange methods of finding the necessary money. Despite all that has been said about the difficulty of providing finance, let me remind honorable members that roads are vital to the defence of Australia. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) told us the other night that we have a mobile defence force. Take your mobile force out to Western Queensland, on the black soil roads, and see how mobile it will be after 25 points of rain have fallen. The provision of roads such as I have suggested will be of value from the point of view of defence, as well as assisting greatly in the development of Western Queensland and the Northern Territory, and particularly the beef industry in those areas.
I rose to support this bill. I do so with a great deal of enthusiasm, because I know that in order to preserve and increase our chilled beef market in the United Kingdom we must undertake research along the linedthat I am sure the committee will suggest to the Minister.
.- I rise to support this bill and to make a few observations about it. I would like, first, to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on bringing thebill before the House. We all know that it has taken a long time to achieve agreement between representatives of the meat industry, the State Governments and the Commonwealth on the matter of establishing a single national committee to conduct research into the beef industry. I do feel, however, that this measure will penalize dairy farmers to some slight extent. I do not want to throw a damper on this project, but simply to bring to the attention of the House some of its probable effects.
I realize that the Government has considered the dairying industry, to the extent of giving that industry one representative on the research committee. There are in all, of course, twelve members of the committee. There are seven producer representatives, of which one is to come from the dairying industry. It should be remembered, however, that one-third of all cattle in Australia are dairy cattle. There are approximately 5,000,000 dairy cattle and about 11,000,000 beef cattle. The figures vary a little from year to year. These dairy cattle have to be slaughtered at some time or other, generally as canners or crackers or unproductive cows. It is obvious that a large proportion of the money to be provided for the research committee will come from the dairying industry.
I do not suggest that one-third of it will come from the dairying industry, because dairy cattle are not turned over as often as beef cattle. Beef cattle are generally turned over on the average every four years, while dairy cattle are probably turned over about every eight years. However, a perusal of the figures shows that from 15 to 20 per cent, of the funds of the research committee will be subscribed by the dairying industry. I mention this point because I feel that the dairying industry is subscribing twice to research. Already, dairy-farmers pay a levy of one-sixteenth of a penny per lb. on butter and one-eighth of a penny per 3b. on cheese. The farmer pays this levy during the life of a cow, or when he sells the beast he has to pay another levy of 2s. on it - a levy which goes towards research, not in the dairying industry, but in the beef industry.
The Dairy Produce Research Committee needs money urgently. Out of the levies on butter and cheese, we get about £75,000 a year for research, and the Commonwealth Government subscribes another £75,000. When we formed the Dairy Produce Research Committee, we were very conservative. We investigated in order to see what work was actually being carried out by the universities and the State governments throughout the Commonwealth. We found that the research work they were undertaking, and that which they would like to carry out would cost something like £750,000 a year. Unfortunately, we can find only £150,000 a year for this work, as I have indicated. So, we should be very happy if we could get more money.
I feel that a small proportion of the money collected under the terms of this bill ought to go to the dairying industry, because it can spend the money much better on research in that industry and derive more benefit than would be derived by an equivalent expenditure on research for the benefit of the meat industry. I realize that there is some overlapping of research work which “benefits both the beef industry and the dairying industry, especially in respect of redwater disease, which is caused by tick infestation, and pleuro-pneumonia. I feel that the Dairy Produce Research Committee or the Australian Research Committee should not have to subscribe funds for research into pleuro-pneumonia for the benefit of the cattle industry. Diseases like the two I have mentioned are of national significance. Each year, this Government spends something like £500,000 on the control of ticks in cattle, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization spends probably another £50,000 or £60,000 on tick investigations. So that any funds taken from the Dairy Produce Research Committee or the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee for the investigation of the tick problem would represent only a drop in the ocean compared with the amount that is really needed. As I have said, the tick problem is a national problem.
I think that the research undertaken with money provided by the two committees of which I have been speaking should be confined to the problems more closely associated to the beef industry and the dairying industry and should not be concerned with these national problems.
Pleuro-pneumonia, also, is a national problem, because it prevents us from exporting cattle to places such as New Zealand and the countries of Europe and America. This disease, therefore, does not affect only northern and central Queensland and part of the Northern Territory. It affects the whole of Australia. Cattle may be brought into New South Wales from Queensland provided they are quarantined for three months and show no signs of pleuro. These restrictions, however, inhibit the movement of cattle within the Commonwealth. For these reasons, the disease is a national problem and the Cattle and Beef Research Committee, which has only limited funds, should not be asked to investigate research into this disease.
I find that research undertaken by the Australian Meat Board and other organizations working in conjunction with it, such as the C.S.I.R.O. and the State governments, embraces matters such as cattle-feeding trials in western Queensland and the Northern Territory, the development df new pastures for certain types of country, and other things which have no relation to the dairying industry. Some of the funds spent by these bodies go into the provision of better stock routes, which involves, for instance, putting down bores and troughs. Some of the money is devoted to the provision of better transport for cattle in western Queensland, and some of it goes into research on physiological factors such as the effects of heat on beef cattle in the Northern Territory. All this research has no connexion whatever with the dairying industry. That is the point which I wish to bring out particularly. All the research undertaken in the past has had no connexion with the dairying industry, which will subscribe something like 15 per cent, of the funds provided for the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee.
I should like now to mention several matters concerning the fifteen-year meat agreement with the United Kingdom. I think we all admit that we are very pleased to get away from the free quota regulations which previously operated. Prior to last year, we were allowed to export only about 10,000 or 15,000 tons of meat to any destination other than the United Kingdom. That restriction has been removed and we are now able to export third-grade meat to any part of the world. As a result, as honorable members will see, there has been a terrific increase in exports to the United States of America. This has added many millions of pounds to Australia’s overseas reserves. Prior to the removal of the restrictions which I have mentioned, at the endof 1957 only £315,000 worth of meat was being exported to the United States annually. In the last year, £18,000,000 worth of meat - all low-grade - has been exported to that country. So honorable members can see that the alteration of the provisions of the agreement with the United Kingdom has been of tremendous benefit to this country. I point out that the dairying industry has provided most of the low-grade meat exported to the United States, because it is this industry which produces the canners and crackers and the meat which is boned and processed as hamburger meat. Therefore, the dairying industry has provided a large proportion of the meat from which we have derived much additional income, and the funds which we credit to the meat industry should really be credited to the dairying industry.
With respect to promotion, which ties in with research, I feel that we should make a concentrated effort to obtain uniform grading of meat throughout Australia. The public should be educated to adopt uniform cuts of meat. For example, one may see cuts described as T-bone steak in the windows of butcher shops in Sydney, and, in Brisbane, the same cuts would be described as sirloin steak. The use of various terms in this way confuses the housewife, and I think that the adoption of uniform cuts would increase sales.
The drop in the consumption of meat in Australia this year is rather alarming. This decline is due mainly to the prices. Prices paid for stock in the cattle yards in all the capital cities during the last year have increased by something like 25 or 30 per cent. The increased prices as a result have caused consumption to drop from about 124 lb. a head in 1957-58 to an estimated level this year of 112 lb. a head. This is the lowest consumption figure ever recorded in the Australian statistics. 1 point out that a decline of 1 lb. a head in the consumption of meat in Australia represents a decline of about 4,500 tons a year. If we take beef as being worth about £10 a hundredweight, we see that the beef industry loses about £1,000,000 for every 1 lb. reduction in the consumption of meat by every person in the community. So it is pretty important that we try to maintain theconsumption of beef in this country at a high level. I do not think that promotion campaigns will do the job completely. If we promote beef too much we shall get into a sort of rat race, because we shall find that the sheep industry will then want to promote mutton. You will find that the poultry-growers will want to start promoting poultry sales.
So it will go on and on and the person who will pay for it is the producer. In the case of the wool or butter industries I can understand that there are good reasons for promotion because those products have direct competitors such as synthetic fibres and margarine respectively. I think that, in the case of the beef industry, we have to concentrate on getting quality meat to the public, getting uniform grades of meat throughout the Commonwealth, and educating the public to standard cuts of meat. We must do our best to be as efficient as possible so that we can keep down the price of meat to the public and still give the producer an amount sufficient to enable him to operate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Nelson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring before the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to-night a matter relating to the introduction as from 1st May next of the telephone system called “ Elsa “. This has no relationship to the female sex. The word means “ extended local service area “. The department intends to increase the radius of local calls to 25 miles from capital cities. All subscribers within that radius will be charged 4d. instead of having to pay trunk-line rates.
The interesting fact about this change, as was admitted by the Postmaster-General in the House this week, is that overall rentals will be increased throughout Australia. This brings to my mind the effect on pensioners who have telephones. Thousands of pensioners have a telephone, largely as the result of a doctor’s certificate. They may not be invalids although most invalids try to get a telephone. But many age pensioners who are not invalids also have telephones in order to be able to call a doctor. Their health is uncertain and to them a telephone is a vital necessity. 1 am sure that all members of Parliament have sympathy for the pensioners of Australia in view of the rising costs that have been hitting them during the last twelve months. This additional imposition will have a very bad effect on them indeed. I had a letter from an invalid pensioner in Latrobe in my electorate only this week pointing out that the telephone rental had gone up from £3 5s. to £5 15s. a year, owing to the installation of a new automatic system at Devonport, to which Latrobe has been connected. I am sure that many members will get letters from pensioners in the next few months, after this new system comes into operation and the increased rentals apply.
I ask the Government and the Minister particularly, to consider reducing the annual telephone rentals for all invalid pensioners for a start. I am not asking for them to be reduced for all the 600,000, pensioners in Australia, but I think that some move should be made by the Government to relieve the telephone rental burden on invalid pensioners for a start. I think there are between 80,000 and 90,000 such pensioners in Australia. I suggest that the reduction should be say £5 on the highest rentals and proportionate sums on lesser rentals. This would be, not just a gesture, but a definite attempt to help meet their costs.
When the Labour Party was in office we halved wireless licence fees for pensioners. But there is no comparison between a wireless set and a telephone. The latter is a necessity. I would put telephones far above wireless sets as essential equipment for a pensioner. Incidentally, although the department has reduced wireless licences it has not reduced television licences for pensioners. Of course, hardly a pensioner in Australia could afford a television set. But why not extend the principle to a reduction of telephone rentals now that, on the admission of the Postmaster-General, rentals will go up?
I think that this suggestion has humanity and justice in it for those folk who need the telephone because of declining and uncertain health. The department spends thousands of pounds on individual subscribers in isolated parts of Australia. Heavy expense is incurred in connecting a subscriber who is perhaps 10 or 20 miles away from an exchange. The subscriber may be a big industry, a big primary producer, or a very important individual in the area.
– He pays for it himself.
– He may pay for part of it. Taking it over all, the cost to the department of connecting telephones for isolated people is far more than it is for the. ordinary citizen. If isolated people can get me telephone easily we should see that pensioners living in the cities where the cost is not so great can get this facility at a reasonable figure. 1 feel that when rentals are increased many pensioners will cancel their telephones. They will have to. This will result in a loss of revenue to the department. A reduction in telephone rentals for pensioners, particularly invalid pensioners would help to preserve the department’s present income from telephones. I put forward this constructive suggestion for the department to look at it. It should be adopted in the interests of a great section of the community which is to-day suffering immeasurably from increased costs of all commodities and services - food, clothing, rent, light, power and rates. They are being hit to leg by increases in all these fields. Their increase in pension has been minute in comparison with the increased costs they have had to meet.
We are approaching another budget session when all these things will be considered. I put this suggestion forward at this time of the year so that the PostmasterGeneral can have a good look at the problem and see if he cannot provide the relief that I suggested in the Budget which will be introduced in September or October of this year. The loss of revenue resulting from a reduction of £2 or £3 a year in the rental charged to invalid pensioners would amount to only between £250,000 and £300,000. If this country cannot stand that loss of revenue to enable these people to have this necessary utility in their homes then we have lost all sense of humanity and all sense of proportion. As I have said, if we do not do something for the pensioners they will cancel their telephones, anyway, and that will mean a steep loss of revenue.
I feel that the loss of revenue through reduction in rentals would be met by the retention of telephones by people who would otherwise relinquish them. So I trust that the department will earnestly consider putting pensioners on the same basis in regard to telephone rentals as they are in regard to broadcast listener’s licences. I would sooner see a pensioner pay full rates for a broadcast listener’s licence and have his telephone rental halved, because of the greater use a telephone is to the people whom I am speaking about and representing here to-night.
.- I propose to deal very briefly with the functioning of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. I believe that many people are beginning to doubt whether the decisions of the commission are soundly based upon proper premises and sound reasoning and whether, therefore, the tribunal, as at present constituted, produces the correct answers.
There is no need for me to advert at any length to the original concept of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The founding fathers supposed that it would deal with those few industries whose activities spread beyond the boundaries of any one State. They undoubtedly had in mind disputes involving people like seamen and shearers, and relatively small issues affecting a small number of workers in this country. However, this role has completely changed in recent years. Through a series of judicial interpretations and decisions the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which is now known as the
Commonwealth Arbitration Commission, has been extended to include the vast majority of Australian workers who are subject to the awards of any court, and also the fixing of wages or salaries for people ranging from the garbage collector to men in the highest seats of power in the Public Service. By being able to order wage and salary increases of the order of £165,000,000 the commission is put in a position of power almost equal to that of the Treasurer, who in his Budget, is indeed lucky if he can run into deficit of, say, £50,000,000, or increase taxation to even half the extent of the increase of purchasing power that can be ordered by the commission.
These powers wielded by the commission affect not only the disputants in an industrial dispute but also the whole economy and the whole community. They affect hundreds of thousands of people who are not before the court. When a wage increase is decreed for one set of people, and when price increases can be passed on by another set of people, those who ultimately pay the bill are often the people on fixed incomes and incomes that are not readily adjustable. So the court decides not only who shall have more but also who shall have less; and the decision affects people not before the court. These are sometimes and in some circumstances the natural consequences of the decisions of the commission.
Two questions arise in my mind. First, how far has the Arbitration Commission shown an awareness of its new responsibilities? If the commission has not understood or adequately discharged its new functions, is this because it consists exclusively of lawyers and that they are not the appropriate people to deal with a new situation? Ought the composition of the commission to be modified, and in what way?
I wish I had time to examine this question in more detail than I have time to do; but let me just test it in one way. What is the commission’s attitude, for example, to the problem of inflation? Obviously, the commission ought to be clear as to the effect of its decisions upon the economy as a whole, and particularly upon inflation. I want toquote briefly three excerpts from judgments of the commission to throw some light on its understanding of this particular matter. The first is from, the judgment by Chief Judge Kelly in the 1950 basic wage case. He said -
My own view is that the vice of inflation is the social injustice it perpetrates to the sections of the community whose incomes do not increase with prices or the value of those “ savings “ are seriously diminished by the falling purchasing power of the currency. . . It has not been established that social justice calls for a transfer to wage and salary earners of part of the income of other sections of income-receivers in the Austraiian community;-
And he rejected the application. In the 1959 basic wage judgment Foster J. said -
I do not lose sight of the effect an increase in the basic wage of the size I propose may have upon other sections of the community, . . . but wage rises otherwise justified should not be denied merely because of this consequence which to some extent can and should be mitigated by governmental action.
The commission, in its recent margins judgment, said this -
The true function of the Commission is to settle industrial disputes. In the settlement of disputes involving payment of wages, such as this one in which such issues have been raised, the commission will bear in mind the various economic submissions made to it, including those about price rises and inflation; it will also bear in mind the fiscal and economic policies of the Government. It will not ignore the consequences to be expected from its actions, but it will not deliberately create situations which would need rectification by government action. It will not use its powers for the purposes of causing any particular economic result apart from altered wages although in the event the decision it makes may have other economic consequences.
I need make no further comment on this kind of reasoning except to say that it shows an exceedingly muddled state of mind upon a vital issue which obviously has to be considered by a tribunal dealing with a matter of this kind. Unfortunately, I have not the time to go into the commission’s attitude as revealed in its judgments in regard to the concept of productivity or in regard to its treatment of the economic indicators, except to say about the latter that the commission, in its judgment, having reviewed the various indicators, never attempts to integrate its reasoning with the ultimate conclusion it reaches.
I believe that the commission has no right to set the Government an impossible task. I would be the last one to deny that the Government has an important responsibility in regard to its monetary, fiscal, tariff and import policies and in regard to such legislation as it can pass to deal with unjust monopolistic and restrictive practices. But when the Government has done all the things it can do, it should not be set an impossible task as a result of the commission fixing wages and salaries at such an inordinate level that no matter what the Government did it could not any longer contain inflation; and therefore great injustices are inflicted on a number of people in the community who are entitled to at least as much justice as are wage-earners and salary-earners.
I have reached the conclusion that the commission is exercising to-day immensely wider powers than were ever contemplated, that it does not show an adequate appreciation of its present-day responsibilities, and that it does not comprehend the strength and direction of the economic forces that it sets in motion. While we cannot completely abandon the concept of a judicial body in this field, what I have in mind is that we need to introduce new blood into the court. I believe that it should have on it one person trained in a different and more relevant discipline than the law. I have in mind, not an economist - I studiously avoid that word as it suggests a professor or an academic person, or an unpractical, theoretical person. I have in mind a man who has first class intellectual capacity and has, secondly, a proved capacity as a top administrator in the Public Service and is therefore familiar with governmental problems - who, thirdly, has special experience in a relevant department such as the Department of Trade, the Department of National Service or the Treasury; and fourthly, who has a sound, basic grounding in economics.
– The honorable member says “ Mandrake “. I suggest somebody who indeed is not available, but whose name will indicate precisely what I mean - that is, a man of the calibre of Sir John Crawford. I deny that such a man would lack the judicial temperament and the capacity to sort out the truth from complex and contradictory evidence. I assert that he would have a better understanding of the economic issues to be taken into consideration by the commission.
There are no constitutional difficulties whatsoever. It is not necessary to have a lawyer on the commission. A very simple amendment of section 7 of the present act would meet the purpose I have in mind. Section 7 (i) could be amended by adding the following words -
It would also be necessary to add some quite simple amendments which would give to such a person the status of a presidential member of the commission and would ensure that he sat in on key cases.
Now, Sir, these are important matters. I believe that we can no longer burke the issue, which is simply that the functions of the commission to-day are quite different from what they were 50 years ago, or from what they were five years ago. We have to consider whether a system which might have been adequate for other purposes in other times is adequate for the functions it is expected to perform to-day. I suggest that it is performing those functions with less than satisfaction to the community to-day.
– I desire to bring before the House an anomaly in the administration of the war service homes scheme, particularly in relation to second assistance for ex-servicemen. A year or two ago, the annual federal conference of the Returned Soldiers League asked the Commonwealth Government to amend the War Service Homes Act to give the right to an ex-serviceman or ex-servicewoman, whose transfer or promotion in the course of normal employment required the setting up of his or her home in a new location, to transfer the outstanding balance of a war service homes loan in order to finance the purchase of a home in the new location. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) replied in the following terms: -
The determination of whether an applicant should be granted assistance in respect of another home must be governed by the circumstances in which he proposes to move from one locality to another. In the interest of those awaiting initial assistance the policy of granting second assistance must in present circumstances continue to be restrictive.
The policy is restrictive, but consideration is given to the circumstances of the move. The case to which I shall refer was brought to my notice by a very reputable constituent of mine who has taken a prominent part in returned servicemen’s activities. He appears to have found an anomaly when he asked for second assistance.
Briefly, the particulars of his case are as follows: - He enlisted in Sydney for service in the 1914-18 war and saw service overseas. On his return, he joined the Permanent Army and remained in it until his retirement last year. In 1936, while he was living in Sydney, he applied for a war service home loan. This was granted, and he bought a home in a suburb of Sydney. In February, 1939 - about three years after he had obtained that loan - he was transferred to Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. When war was declared, he went overseas for the second time, and saw action in the Syrian campaign. After that, he came back to Australia and then went to serve in Java, where he was taken prisoner. For the rest of the war he was a prisoner in Japanese hands. In October, 1945, he returned to Australia and continued with the Permanent Army until 1959.
Up to the time of his retirement, he had made no effort to sell his house in Sydney. He had let it because he thought that, having once been transferred from Sydney to Melbourne, he might eventually be transferred from Melbourne to Sydney. After his retirement, he allowed the tenant to remain in occupation for a month or two, because he wanted to find out whether he could get a permanent position in Melbourne. He was 55 years of age when he retired from the Army. Luckily, he was able to find a job in Melbourne which offered the prospect of employment until he was 65 years of age. Therefore, he sold his house in Sydney, but he had to sell it on a deposit, with the balance repayable over ten years. He did not get cash for it.
He then decided to purchase a house in Melbourne, because there was no longer any possibility of his being transferred to Sydney. He made an approach to the war service homes authorities in Melbourne for second assistance. I suggest that the circumstances in which he asked for second assistance were entirely reasonable, because the Army had transferred him from Sydney to Melbourne for reasons of necessity. He did not make an official application to the authorities in Melbourne for second assistance, but discussed the matter with them. To his astonishment, he was told by the official with whom he discussed the matter in Melbourne that, because he had sold his house after he had left the Army, he was not eligible for second assistance, but that if he had sold the house and asked for second assistance while a member of the forces, he would have received very favourable consideration. If that is so, I think there is an anomaly. I repeat that this is a man who has taken a very prominent part in returned servicemen’s activities and could understand the purport of the information given to him.
– Would that have been through the War Service Homes Division or through the Housing Commission?
– Through the War Service Homes Division. I repeat that this man had been transferred from Sydney to Melbourne in 1939 and, therefore, did not move of his own volition. He would have had a reasonable prospect of getting second assistance had he still been a member of the Army, but, because he sold his home after he had left the Army, he was told that he was out of order and could not be given consideration. That discloses a remarkable anomaly, and one which should be inquired into by the Government. If the position is as I have outlined, I suggest that the situation should be changed.
There are two questions that I should like to submit to the Government. Is there a second allocation for a member of the Permanent Army who is moved from one State to another in the interests of the Army? Would he be entitled, under the policy stated by the Minister, to a second allocation? I suggest that he should. I notice the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) shaking his head, but surely the circumstances under which this man was moved from one locality to another are important. He was moved in the interests of the safety of the community, because he was a member of the Army, a body which is supposed to look after public safety and which undoubtedly does a very fine job in that regard. I suggest that in those circumstances a very good case could be made for second assistance. The man was moved because it suited the Department of the Army to move him.
If he is eligible for a second allocation under the circumstances which I have enumerated, then I ask: Is he eligible irrespective of whether he sold his house before or after retirement? I suggest that if he is not eligible because he sold the house after he retired, that is an anomaly which should be corrected immediately. If that has nothing to do with it, I suggest that he be given special consideration and granted a second allocation. I trust that the Government will go into this matter and see whether the anomaly can be corrected.
.- Last Wednesday night, in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I think that most honorable members were disgusted by the prima donna act, in extremely bad taste, which was performed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He indulged in a particularly cheap publicity stunt which caused embarrassment to the ex-serviceman affected, and also to ex-servicemen generally. I think his action was contemptible, unparliamentary, and repugnant to decent citizens. He tossed on to the table the war medals of a man who is suffering from anxiety neurosis and who is in receipt of an 80 per cent, war pension and an invalid pension. He tossed contemptuously on to the table the ribbons that this man won in the service of this country. He said that he did not know very much about the ribbons. Let me tell him that those ribbons were won by a man who was willing to give his all for his country’s sake. They were won by a man who was proud of them yet, despite the stress and strains of life which he is undergoing at present, the honorable member for East Sydney took the ribbons from him and flung them on the table of this House in an endeavour to get cheap publicity for himself. He got the cheap press publicity that he sought, but to my mind, he has done the ex-servicemen’s associations and the individual concerned a great disservice.
Not content to indulge in this act, he had to go on in his customary manner - this will not surprise the House - and mishandle the truth. He is extremely adroit at that, and we have become accustomed to this kind of manipulation of words by the honorable member. On page 528 of “ Hansard “ of Wednesday, 23rd March, he is reported as having said that Mr. Alderton approached me and - as a result of the honorable member’s intervention and advice, this ex-serviceman, who had been in receipt of a 100 per cent, war pension, had his pension reduced to 80 per cent.
I give the lie direct to the honorable member for East Sydney and say that at no time whatever has this ex-serviceman ever approached me in relation to his pension, nor have 1 ever given him any advice in relation to his pension with the exception of one occasion. After this case had been heard by the tribunal, the man came to me and asked whether he had a right of appeal. I advised him on that matter on 30th January, 1958. On 3rd February, 1958, I received a letter from Mr. Alderton. He said -
I wish to thank you … In your last letter you indicated whether I intend to appeal against my last pension reduction. I feel that it would be useless to do so.
The history of this man’s case is extremely interesting, and I think that it is pertinent to recall that since 1949 he has been making appeals to the Repatriation Department for an increase in his pension. On each and every occasion he has enlisted, not the aid of politicians, but the aid of the Legal Service Bureau to which I believe every member of this House will give great praise for the work which it does on behalf of ex-servicemen. He has enlisted the aid of the Legal Service Bureau, the Returned Soldiers League and the Air Force Association advocate. I repeat that at no other time have I given any advice to this exserviceman in relation to his pension.
The honorable member for East Sydney again put the matter out of context when, according to page 528 of “ Hansard “, he casually referred to the fact that the exserviceman had applied for an invalid pension and that this had been granted.
This man first came to me in an endeavour to find employment. I contacted the Commonwealth Employment Service, and an officer there was good enough to interview him. After the interview the officer tried to find work for him. Unfortunately, this was not readily forthcoming and the man returned to see me. Following that, he was rejected for Commonwealth unemployment benefit, as the honorable member for East Sydney said. He registered as unemployed on 4th September, 1957, and on 12th September he came to see me again. On 14th September he registered for unemployment benefit. In early October he was advised by Mr. Brownlow, the officer in charge of the Waverley Commonwealth Employment office at that time, to obtain the necessary forms and complete them so that he could obtain the benefit. But Mr. Alderton failed to do so. In early October, therefore, I wrote to him enclosing application forms for an invalid pension. These were duly completed and forwarded to the office. Mr. Alderton’s invalid pension was back-dated to the date on which his application had been approved - 10th September, 1957.
The honorable member for East Sydney has not gone into this matter thoroughly. He has been prepared to obtain this cheap publicity. I should like to give an outline of the case from its beginning, but time will not permit me to do so. I shall acquaint the House of happenings between October, 1957, and the present. On 4th October, Mr. Alderton applied for an increase in pension and in a letter to the Repatriation Department gave the following reason: -
Inability to work due to continual bad health, I was forced to terminate my employment with the Taxation Department due to chronic headaches and lack of concentration.
A repatriation board on 14th November, 1957, declined the application. Mr. Alderton exercised his right of appeal against the board’s determination, and on 16th January, 1958, a War Pension Assessment Appeal Tribunal disallowed the appeal and reduced his 100 per cent, general rate war pension to the 80 per cent. rate.
On 11th February, 1958, Mr. Alderton again applied for an increase in the rate of his war pension on the ground that his incapacity had worsened, but a repatriation board, on consideration of medical evidence, declined the application. A further appeal to the assessment appeal tribunal was declined on 12th June, 1958, and an appeal to the repatriation board was declined on 5th January, 1959. A further appeal was lodged to an assessment appeal tribunal on 13th March, 1959, and this, too, was disallowed.
Mr. Alderton’s evidence in regard to the appeal of 11th February, 1958, as a result of which his pension- was cut, was to- the effect that he was in receipt of an invalid pension and that, in his. own opinion, his accepted- war-caused disabilities had worsened.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
, - To-night we. heard from the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr: Turner), a supporter of the Government, an attack upon the’ constitution- of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission which can only lower the prestige of this Parliament: We are all aware of the policy which this Government follows, and has followed, in relation to industrial arbitration, but when the Government stands by and hears the constitution of the commission attacked in this fashion, without anybody attempting to take the honorable member to task, the situation becomes intolerable. If the honorable member for Bradfield is speaking for the Liberal Party, I can only say that his attitude represents a complete renunciation of conciliation and arbitration as espoused by this Government. If every honorable member on the Government side is to be able to rise at this point of time - I emphasize at this point of time - and speak in a derogatory manner of the personnel of a commission set up by this Government merely because on one or two occasions the commission’s decisions have at least given the workers of Australia some measure of wage justice, I suggest that they are adopting a dictatorial attitude towards conciliation and arbitration.
The honorable member for Bradfield had the audacity to suggest to-night that it is time we had on the commission men of first-class intellectual training. Does the Government say now that it has appointed a bunch of dills to the newly constituted commission? Is the Government trying to say that the men whom it has appointed to the commission are not men with firstclass intellectual training? Does the honorable member for Bradfield think that he can talk in this fashion about the men who decide what the wages of the workers of this free country shall be and get away with it? He talks about reconstituting the commission. It is significant that during the last three or four weeks all sorts of people have been saying that we should have a new type of commission, that we should have a commission comprised of any one from builders operatives down to the honorable member, for. Bradfield. I am heartily sick and tired of hearing of. these attacks upon a. commission that- is trying to do a job; During, the past twelve months, the Government has- had the opportunity of supplying the commission with information or indicators for” its’ guidance. Do not let any honorable member attack- the commission for the failure of the Government. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has been endeavouring for’ five years now to induce this Government to use the powers and machinery at its disposal to set up a properly organized productivity index for Australia. And here I remind the honorable member for Bradfield of what the Minister said in reply to a question relating to* this subject only last’ week.
The final comment of the honorable member for Bradfield was that the functioning of’ the commission is very different now from what’ it was 50, or even five years ago. Do not attack the personnel of the commission! If there is any. fault: at all, then it must be laid’ at the door of the Government, for it altered the constitution of the commission and completely, destroyed the Chifley Government’s legislation relating to who should or should not determine the wage standards of this country.. This Government has set up what it believed to be an ideal’ commission. I remind the honorable member for Bradfield and those who sit with him that when we on. this side tried to convince the Government that it was putting the commission in an intolerable situation we were howled down by honorable members on the Government side. I invite them to read reports of our speeches in “ Hansard “ for verification of what I say. In those circumstances, they should not attempt to condemn men who are endeavouring to give justice to the people. They should, not seek to attack men of the high calibre of the members of the commission because of the Government’s failure to provide them with proper indicators to assist them in assessing the real position. I repeat that the entire fault lies at the door of this Government for failing to make provision for a. productivity index. If what the Minister says is true, if it is not possible to furnish indicators or a true barometer of productivity, then let the Government be big enough to say that the indicators being provided now and those which have been furnished to the commission previously are not strictly accurate; let it provide something different, something more accurate. Instead of doing that, the Government hides its head in the sand and refuses to do anything to provide the proper type of indicators which would enable the commission to do anything different from what it is doing.
I cannot sit idly by while these attacks are being made on men of the high standing of the present members of the commission, some of whom have been appointed by the Government only recently. I cannot allow the decency of the courts of this country to be impugned without raising my voice in defence of what I believe to be a constituted authority that is doing the best it can with the miserable type of machinery this Government provides for it.
Let us be quite honest about the matter. I never believed that I should ever see honorable members on the Government side who professed to believe in conciliation and arbitration sitting idly by, instead of raising their voices in protest, when one of their colleagues referred to the decisions of the commission as being the opinions of men in a muddled state of mind. That is the lowest form of attack I have ever heard made on any court in this country. In my opinion, the constitution of the commission does not give to the workers an opportunity to get a fair share of the result of their productivity, but if the commission is to be pulled down in this fashion, and its decisions are to be referred to as coming from men in a muddled state of mind, I submit that we are getting very close to Hitler’s methods in arriving at an assessment of wage rates in this country.
We on this side believe in conciliation and arbitration. I am wondering what some honorable members on the Government side must be thinking for, like myself, they must be personally acquainted with some, if not all of the members of the commission who have been referred to to-night as men in a muddled state of mind.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Approximately a week ago I raised in this Parliament the case of an ex-serviceman who had been unable to obtain justice from this Government. In the course of my remarks, I referred to the activities of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) on behalf of this ex-serviceman. This evening the honorable member for Phillip started by smearing this unfortunate exserviceman, referring to him as a nerve case, because the honorable member knows that this ex-serviceman knows exactly who let him down. The honorable member wants to make out that this man is a particularly bad nerve case. It is perfectly true that he is a very badly disabled ex-serviceman, but he knows what he is doing and what he is saying. I prefer to accept his word before that of the honorable member for Phillip.
I have here some of his letters which are available for any member of the House to see and judge for himself who, exactly, is> telling the truth and who is falsifying the situation. In one of his letters he states that he resigned from his job on 25th June, 1957. He then attempted to enrol for employment and was rejected. He then said that he was advised to apply for the invalid pension. I shall quote his letter in which he said -
I was then declared to be permanently incapacitated for work and recommended for an invalid pension. Yet less than three months previously I was classified as fit.
At this period I was in receipt of 100 per cent. War Pension and as my life’s medical history shows my illnesses occurred during my period of service which was six and a half years. On being placed on an Invalid Pension I sought the advice of Mr. W. Ashton, Federal Member for my electorate who advised me to apply to the Repatriation Department for a t.p.i. pension. This I did and was reduced to 80 per cent.
This is this ex-serviceman’s own letter. The honorable member for Phillip began by accusing me of not handling the truth too carefully and now he is accusing this unfortunate ex-serviceman of being guilty of this offence. Then the honorable member said that I had dramatically thrown ribbons on to the table. I did what the exserviceman asked me to do; and as a Labour representative in this Parliament I was obliged to do it.
The honorable member for Phillip thought he was making a very good point when he said that I had admitted I did not know very much about the ribbons. That is perfectly true, other than the fact that I knew they were service ribbons. But if I lacked knowledge in this respect, my lack of knowledge, I should imagine, would be no less than that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) under whom the honorable member serves and who would have as much knowledge of these particular matters as I would have. In any case, the honorable member admits that they were service ribbons. I will read an extract from this ex-servicman’s letter about these ribbons. He said -
I am returning some tokens which were not earned sitting in an office or factory for which I have no further use– that is the ribbons - and together with my discharge I request you return them to the Menzies Government.
That is exactly what I did; I carried out the wish of this ex-serviceman. I leave it to honorable members themselves to judge whether the honorable member for Phillip has properly discharged his duty to his constituents. This unfortunate exserviceman came to me only because his own member had failed him and could not get him any results. I have another letter from him to show what he thinks about the situation. I am not worried about what the honorable member for Phillip thinks. He struts about his electorate trying to make out that he is a champion of the ex-serviceman, but in this Parliament he has repeatedly voted against amendments moved by the Opposition to benefit ex-servicemen and improve their lot. In this Parliament he voted against an amendment moved by the Opposition for cancer to be accepted as a war-caused disability without any proof being required from the ex-serviceman. All the honorable member’s service for the ex-serviceman exists only in the sense of making speeches in this Parliament. Here is what this man Alderton wrote to me on 24th March, only a few days ago.It is as follows -
Dear Mr. Ward,
I wish to thank you for the effort you have put up on my behalf and also for displaying the courage of your convictions.
I had the pleasure of reading your statement in this morning’s Daily Telegraph and have already been interviewed by members of the press. I have assured them that everything you said in your Parliamentary statement was true.
If they should contact you I would appreciate if you would make available any information they may require. As you are the only person who has been really interested in my case and goodness knows I have been through enough, I am perpetually grateful and proud to know you which I cannot say for many in authority who call themselves human beings.
We hear the laughing of the jackals on the Government benches. When an unfortunate ex-serviceman appeals for justice and I read his letter, all that we hear is a chorus of guffaws from the Government benches. So much for their consideration of the ex-serviceman.
I am not worried about the opinion of Government members; I prefer to have the respect of the men outside who have been battling in this country for so long to obtain justice from this Parliament. Why does not the honorable member for Phillip have his ex-servicemen’s committee on the Government side take up this exserviceman’s case and see that he gets justice? Why does he not move, as Labour senators have done in the past in the Senate, to have special committees appointed to investigate and get the facts and make a decision to get justice for these men? I hope that the honorable member for Phillip will continually raise this matter, because if he does he will only display his lack of activity on behalf of ex-servicemen in his electorate and emphasize the fact that when these men want justice they have to turn to Labour men to receive it.
.- I really rose to speak on the subject of the unit war history fund, but before I do I feel I must make some reply to the extravagant remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– Do you know anything about it?
– I do not know from whom the interjection came, but I wonder whether it was a former member of the Chifley Government who interjected. If it was, he will know that the honorable member for East Sydney was a Cabinet Minister in the Chifley Government.
– And a good one, too.
– One of the principal reasons that the Chifley Labour Government was hurled out of office was that there was a consolidated vote from all exservicemen for the Liberal-Australian
Country Party. Every ex-serviceman, whether he had been in the Navy, Army or Air Force, knew that he could get no justice of any description from the Labour Government that was in office at the time. When the returned servicemen’s league put up what was called a .26-point pension plan, the whole 26 points were thrown into the rubbish box and given no consideration by the honorable member for East Sydney or anybody else in the Chifley Government. When the ex-servicemen later put up a 23- point pension plan that also went into the rubbish box.
The honorable member for East Sydney rises in this Parliament and talks about one ex-serviceman getting justice. Let me make this clear, as one who knows a great deal about anxiety neurosis cases among exservicemen of the last war: The honorable member for East Sydney has done more harm to this person Alderton than anybody else could possibly have done. I challenge the honorable member to answer these questions: Did he go to the Repatriation Department and inquire from the responsible officers there as to the reason this exserviceman’s pension was reduced from 100 per cent, to 80 per cent.? Or did he listen only to the stories that were told to him by this man Alderton? Did he consult the medical officer? I say that he did not, because if he had done so he would have stated it in this Parliament.
We know that a great number of anxiety neurosis ex-servicemen feel that they are so ill - that is a feature of their illness - that they believe they ought to be receiving the ex-service t.p.i. pension. Every medical officer in the Repatriation Department, particularly the psychiatrists, will tell anybody who discusses this problem with them that once an anxiety neurosis ex-serviceman is given the t.p.i. pension, that is the end of his being an active citizen able to take his part in the work force of his country for the rest of his life. Nine times out of ten that ex-serviceman becomes a pensioner for the rest of his life. The doctors of the Repatriation Department do everything they can to encourage these people to take their part in the work force, because the best cure for their trouble is to occupy their minds by engaging in gainful employment. That is the aim of the psychiatrists in the department, with whom I have discussed this matter many times. I believe that the sympathy that ;has been extended by the honorable member for East Sydney has done Mr. Alderton incalculable harm. If the honorable member had honestly wanted to do something for this man, and had no thought of political gain, he would have got off his backside-
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I say that the honorable member for East Sydney would have gone to the Repatriation Department and interviewed officers of the department about this man’s problem. He would have tried to do something for this ex-serviceman. All that the honorable member does is to come into this Parliament and try to make a big fellow of himself with ex-servicemen. That is something he will never be able to do, because the ex-servicemen of Australia know only too well the record of the honorable member for East Sydney and his attitude to ex-servicemen of the Second World War.
I now want to say a few words about the Unit War History Fund. On 15th January last, the Military Board issued instructions with an appendage which made it clear that as at 31st December, 1960, subsidy payments for unit war histories will terminate. A number of Second World War units have been unable to complete their histories. This has not been due to a lack of desire or enthusiasm on the part of the units to have their histories printed. I have been particularly requested by the 2/17 Battalion Association to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and ask for clarification of this point. I should like to illustrate what happened in the case of the 2/17 Battalion Association. It arranged for two professional writers to prepare its unit history. In each instance the history that was prepared was unacceptable to the association and to the Unit War History Fund. Consequently, the association has now .placed the writing of its history in the hands of a very distinguished war historian, Mr. McCarthy, who is an officer of the Department of External Affairs. He has had to search through all the unit diaries and records at the Australian War Memorial in order to obtain a factual account of the activities of this battalion. That has been a tremendous job, but the history is now in the process of being written by Mr. McCarthy. I might mention that Mr. McCarthy has had several discussions with Major McGrath, director of the National War Memorial, who is fully aware of the work that is being done.
I should be glad if the Minister for the Army would clarify the order that was issued with the Military Board’s instructions of 15th January. Will he make provision for any unit that commences the preparation of its history prior to 31st December, 1960, to obtain the subsidy? If the units cannot obtain the subsidy, they will be unable to complete their histories and documents of immeasurable value will be lost to future generations of Australians.
– I should like to put the mind of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) at rest in relation to this matter. Unfortunately, there has apparently been some misunderstanding as a result of the Military Board’s notification. Two or three days ago, I issued a statement through the press which made the position clear. Evidently the honorable member is not aware of that statement. The Military Board has determined that applications for subsidies to write war histories will close on 31st December this year. That means that any unit association that intends to write its unit history now will be able to get a subsidy provided it indicates its intention before 31st December next. Ample money is available for subsidies, and if the unit associations indicate their intention to prepare histories, the allocations will be made.
The honorable member mentioned the 2/17 Battalion Association. One regulation in relation to this matter provides that a war history of any unit shall be subject to the approval of the official war historian. In this instance, apparently, some regulation has not been observed. If the position is as the honorable member has claimed, and the association indicates that it intends to write its history, it can receive an allocation any time up to 31st December this year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Military Land at La Perouse.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice: -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers: -
son 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: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 March 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600330_reps_23_hor26/>.