23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that General Nasution, Chief-of-Staff of National Security in Indonesia, is at present visiting the United States of America as a guest of the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. Thomas Gates? Is the Minister also aware that General Nasution stated in Washington yesterday that he had received an assurance from top military authorities that United States equipment and training programmes for the Indonesian Army, Navy and Air Force would be broadened? If the Minister is aware of these facts, does the Government intend to protest against this action by the United States Government which may contribute to suspicion and aggression in South-East Asia?
– I am quite sure the Government would not protest to the United States Government. That Government is well aware of the policies and the interests of the Australian nation. I am sure it never has done and never will do anything contrary to our interests. On the other hand, the Indonesian nation has its own interests extending over some 3,000 islands in the archipelago. It has armed forces. It is entitled, in our opinion, to exercise its own judgment in respect of its own needs.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Supply further to my previous question regarding the American Project Mercury man-in-space programme. Will the Australian stations, both at Muchea in my electorate of Moore and at Red Lake near Woomera be manned by Australian officers? If they are to be so manned, will the Minister inform the House what arrangements have been made for Australians to receive instruction in the duties they will be expected to perform?
– The stations at Muchea and at Woomera will, in fact, be manned by Australians. At the present time, there is an officer of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States of America attached to my headquarters in Melbourne. There is also an American officer at Muchea and one at Woomera. At the same time, a technical officer of the Department of Supply is at present in the United States having discussions on a day-to-day basis with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. All the costs in relation to both these stations and of the member of our staff in America are being paid by the United States.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman will recollect having stated in answer to a question last Thursday that the problems of railway freights and the cost of road haulage were the principal inhibiting factors with regard to the decentralization of industry. The right honorable gentleman also stated -
I ask the Acting Prime Minister: Has his attention been directed to a statement subsequently made by the Premier of Victoria in which he said that any increase in decentralization subsidies could be arranged only by a Commonwealth allocation because of his State’s financial position? Further, in view of the great exodus of country people, especially young people, to the capital cities, will the Commonwealth Government accede to the suggestion for some form of subsidy to assist in decentralizing industries, on a 50-50 basis with the States, as suggested in the statement of the Premier of Victoria?
– I have not seen the statement which the honorable member attributes to the Premier of Victoria, but the proposition that something which is within the constitutional responsibility of a State government could be done better if the Commonwealth subsidized it, is not novel. The Commonwealth has its responsibilities and financial limitations. We have been pursuing the broad policy of allocating very liberal amounts to the State governments from the total financial resources of the Commonwealth Government, and have left the State governments to exercise their own best judgment as to how these funds should be used. lt is true that there are some departures from this general principle, such as the special allocations for roads and, in some circumstances, for hospitals, but to pursue this procedure further and make special allocations for every valid interest that may be raised would, in the end result, deprive the States of all initiative of government and repose it all in this place. That would be contrary to the spirit of federation.
– I address my question to the Minister for Territories: Has the salvaging of the sunken ships in Darwin harbour been completed? If so, have these salvage operations brought profit to the Australian taxpayer?
– I understand that the work of raising the ships and cutting up the metal is either completed or nearly completed, but the salvage company has not formally wound up its operations. I think probably another two months will elapse before this is done. Until then, it will be impossible to make an exact calculation of the revenue that will come to the Commonwealth as a result of the salvage operations.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Health by stating that two months ago he announced that he had accepted the recommendation- of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee that 100 drugs should be added to the list of drugs which became available last March to pensioners without charge and to other patients for a charge of 5s. The Minister announced also that these additional drugs would become available on the first day of this month. I now ask the honorable gentleman why these additional drugs are not yet available. Why has there been a delay of seven months in carrying out the committee’s recommendations on this occasion whereas three months have sufficed to implement them on some previous occasions?
– It is true that I did announce some time ago that the pharmaceutical benefits list would be extended by the addition of approximately 100 drugs and that these would become available on 1st October. Subsequent to that announcement I had some discussions with the British Medical Association about the forms of prescribing, the quantities to be used and so on. I pointed out then to the profession that if we were to make the alterations which it desired, and which we both agreed were desirable, this would necessitate deferring the implementation of the recommendations for approximately one month. It is now expected that the list will appear in its new form on 1st November.
It is not a fact that this has taken seven months to do. The committee’s deliberations took a very long time because it had to examine a very large list of drugs. All concerned in the supply of these drugs - the officials of my department, the committee and the medical profession - agreed that it was preferable to defer the issue of the list rather than to issue it as originally planned on 1st October.
– You told me that the committee last met in March.
– Order! The honorable gentleman has asked his question.
– The com- mittee commenced to meet then, but it has held a number of meetings since.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General arising from his reply to a question on 27th September concerning the coaxial cable between Sydney and Melbourne. Can the Minister inform me of the progress that is being made with the laying of a similar cable between Brisbane and Tweed Heads?
– It is the department’s intention to establish a new coaxial micro-wave system between Brisbane and Melbourne in order to provide for improved communications between those capital cities and also in order to provide other channels for areas and cities along the route. I mentioned recently the development of the six-tube cable between Sydney and Melbourne. As a part of the plan, a four-tube cable is being laid between Brisbane and Southport. That work has been under way for some months, and a considerable mileage has already been laid. From Southport, the cable will be extended to Lismore. Then, as a part of the system, there will be a micro-wave link between Lismore, Maitland and Sydney, so that when the dual system has been completed there will be a direct service between Brisbane and Melbourne. It is expected that the complete service will be available by about the end of 1962, at a cost of approximately £6,000,000.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the select committee appointed to report on road safety problems has stated -
There is opportunity for the Commonwealth to give direct leadership in the field, but neither in the Australian Capital Territory nor in the Northern Territory, nor in relation to its own vehicle fleets has the opportunity been used to any extent.
In view of the frightful road casualties, has any action been taken to set the right example?
– The report submitted by the select committee is a comprehensive report, containing many good recommendations, and it requires intensive study. It is being studied now. I am sure that anything the committee has put forward which is designed to reduce the road toll will be viewed very favorably.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Having regard to the value of the tourist industry to this country, and the many attractions that we have to offer tourists, particularly in Queensland, will the Government consider holding a national tourist week along the lines of that held some time ago in New Zealand, perhaps after consultation with the various State governments?
– That is an interesting suggestion. The agency for liaison between the Government and those who are organized to attract tourists to Australia is the Australian National Travel Association, as I am sure the honorable member knows. That association is heavily subsidized by the Commonwealth Government. I should think that the proper step would be for me to convey the suggestion to that association and get a reaction there. According to the reaction, the association might or might not consult with the State governments. I shall take the suggestion quite seriously.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the leader and deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, as well as the chief aspirant for leadership, the AttorneyGeneral, all are overseas at the present time, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether there is now an acting leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, acting as Acting Deputy Prime Minister, or whether the Parliament is now subject to a take-over by the Australian Country Party?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman, who expresses such tender sentiments with respect to my colleagues of the Liberal Party of Australia, that they are doing very well indeed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. On 27th March, the Minister issued a press statement in which he indicated that the Australian Shipbuilding Board, which was established early in World War II. on a temporary basis, would very shortly be placed on a permanent footing, the Suggeston being that some legislation to this end would be introduced fairly shortly. Can the Minister say whether this legislation will be introduced and, if so, at what stage he expects the Australian Shipbuilding Board to be placed on a permanent formal footing?
– The position is as the honorable member has indicated. Our intention is to place the Australian Shipbuilding Board on a permanent basis. Legislation is being drafted and it will be submitted to the Parliament at an early stage.
At the present time, I cannot say exactly when, but I hope that it will be- before the end of the present session.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question without notice. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia has joined the organization known as the Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange? If the bank has joined this body, is it bound by the organization’s rules with respect to fees and charges for services rendered? Is this the first occasion on which the Commonwealth Trading Bank has joined an outside organization and bound itself to subscribe to that body’s rules? Is it intended that, pursuing this line of action, the bank will seek membership of exchanges of a similar type; namely, the stock exchanges of the various capital cities of Australia?
– I do not know whether the Commonwealth Trading Bank has taken the course that the honorable member has indicated. I shall make inquiries for him. He can be assured, I am certain, that the leadership and management of the bank are as sound to-day as he could wish them to be and that any step taken by the bank will be in the best interests of the Australian community.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. I understand that the installation of two-way radio in the motor cars operated by the Department of Supply in Melbourne and Sydney has proved successful. Can the Minister say whether the extension of the installations to the department’s cars in other States is intended? If it is, what benefits are expected?
– It is a fact that the Installation of two-way radio in cars operated by the Department of Supply- in Melbourne and Sydney has been most successful. As I have indicated publicly, the net saving in the first twelve weeks was some £3,000, or the equivalent of approximately £13,000 per annum. As a result of the experience in Melbourne and Sydney, it has now been- decided to install two-way radio in the department’s cars in both Brisbane and Adelaide.
– I wish to ask the Acting Treasurer a question without notice. Does the Government keep a watch on the inflow of capital- from overseas? Can the right honorable gentleman tell me how much capital has come from overseas since 30th June, 1960, and the purposes for which that capital has been used?
– Clearly, these are not figures which the honorable member will expect me to have in my head. I can assure him that the Government is able to keep track of capital inflow into this country and, broadly, is able to record the purposes for which the capital comes in. But what is technically classified as “ capital inflow “ includes, as I understand it, dividend’s earned in Australia by overseas companies which they are entitled to send out of the country but have not sent out, having retained them in Australia for re-investment purposes. I will obtain the facts sought by the honorable member if they are available. I doubt whether I shall be able to get the figures for 30th June, but I shall get the latest information and let the honorable member have it.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether, in view of the large number of people who at present benefit from the social services and health services provided by this Government and the large amount of money involved, he will confer with the Minister for Health in order to see whether a booklet could be published annually, giving the complete range of benefits available through his department and; the Department of Health and including charts and tables. Will he ascertain whether the cost of providing such a booklet would be justified?
– I would be willing and most happy to confer with my friend and colleague, the Minister for Health, on any pretext and on any occasion. The honorable member for Gwydir has suggested that we should consider publishing a booklet setting out the benefits available to the community in respect both of social services and of health. From experience, I can say that such a booklet takes some time to prepare and to produce - so much time in fact that the booklet is soon out of date, so rapidly is the social services scheme changing from year to year. I am sure that my experience in this respect has been shared by the Minister for Health. However, we will be happy to give consideration to what the honorable member for Gwydir has suggested.
– Has the
Minister for Trade received a request from Pindan Proprietary Limited in Western Australia for permission to export iron ore from deposits that are situated in the reserve occupied by the natives of the Pindan group? If the Minister is considering this matter favorably, as I hope he is, will he, before giving the export licence, examine carefully the agreement entered into between Albert G. Sims Limited and Pindan Proprietary Limited in order to make certain that the permit, as granted, will be for the benefit of the natives in the area concerned and not for the benefit of the shareholders of Albert G. Sims Limited?
– I have not received an application for an export permit such as that referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Such an application would first come under consideration by the Minister for National Development. However, as I am sure the honorable member knows, an embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia has operated for very many years now. That embargo is applied because, on assessment in pre-war days, it was reckoned’ that there was no more iron ore positively identified and calculated than was then regarded as necessary for the future needs of the Australian people. Since then, of course, new discoveries and a new assessment of known deposits have been made. Suggestions have been made - I am sure that this’ knowledge is public property - that the Western Australian Government actually called for tenders for the export of iron ore.
This is a matter which warrants examination by the Government, and has been examined, but no conclusive decision has been reached. At the present time no single application of the kind described by the honorable gentleman could be considered.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform me of the progress made in negotiations between the South Australian Premier and the Commonwealth Government on the standardization of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway line? Can he also inform, me of the progress- made in the standardization of the line from Albury to Melbourne?
– I am pleased to inform the honorable member that progress is being made in the negotiations for the standardization of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line. As I said in reply to a question some weeks ago, there are details to be considered before the final submission to the Cabinet can be made; but I can assure the honorable gentleman that, as I said, progress is being made, and I hope that very shortly a final decision will be made. The construction of the standard gauge line from Albury to Melbourne is proceeding very satisfactorily. The work is up to schedule, and it is hoped to complete the line and open it towards the end of next year, as was originally expected.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Treasurer. Is the Development Bank limited to a fixed amount of lending in any financial year? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that all the evidence so far points to the fact that the bank is not fulfilling adequately the functions laid down in its charter, especially in respect of primary producers? Is the Development Bank included in the Government’s credit squeeze policy?
– There are no limits whatsoever to the lending rights of the Development Bank other than those which are stipulated in the statute passed by the Parliament not long since, and those which are imposed by the limit of the amount of funds at the command of the bank. At the present time the Development Bank has funds in its possession and is lending quite freely. I recently obtained some statistics, which I quoted outside the Parliament, and these, in conjunction with my own knowledge, enable me to say that the general lending activity of the Development Bank is satisfactory. I will have these statistics brought up to date and inform not only the honorable member but also the House of them, because I think the House would be interested in them.
It is a fact, of course, that the Development Bank started to operate only last January. It is also a fact of life that it took some little time for the bank to get into its swing. Another fact is that there were many people who had expectations that, not being able to raise from other sources the money they wanted because of the inadequacy of their general financial position and of the security they could offer, the Development Bank would help them when it came into being. It was not unexpected, therefore, that there were some disappointed people. However, I think that the Development Bank now has got into full swing and is lending freely. I will procure for the House the latest figures regarding lending.
– The bank is not limited by the Government’s policy?
– It is not limited bv policy, nor is h subject to a credit squeeze.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. As a recent visit to Talgarno by a party of United States officers has given rise to conflicting and speculative rumours, will the Minister take an early opportunity to advise the House of the results of any negotiations on the future of Talgarno?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is, “ Yes “.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The interim report by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner states that the Commonwealth Railways no longer takes into consideration, when drawing up the accounts of its operations in respect of the Central Australian Railway, the difference between the standard rates and the concessional rates on the haulage of coal from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta. I ask: Considering the difference between the two rates, amounting to over £750,000, does the statement mean that instead of the Treasury subsidizing the cartage of coal the overall traffic or the users of the line must now bear the cost of the subsidy? Does not the Minister agree that if the subsidy were paid by the Commonwealth Treasury, as it should be, substantial reductions of freights and passenger fares could be implemented on that line?
– That matter is under consideration at the present moment. I will take a note of what the honorable member has asked and give him a reply later.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Is it true that the growth of television has confirmed, beyond expectations, that it is an important amenity? How many years will elapse before we get television in Wide Bay?
– It is certainly true that the development of television in Australia has indicated the importance of this medium to Australian viewers, from the stand-point of entertainment and, as is evident from experiments now going on. from the stand-point of education also. The honorable member has asked when television will be available to viewers in the Wide Bay area-
– He asked that question yesterday.
– No, he did not. 1 cannot give the honorable member a firm date for the introduction of television into the Wide Bay area - he is referring particularly, of course, to Maryborough and Bundaberg - but I would say that the population density of that area is such as to ensure that it will receive consideration in the next phase of television development, which we refer to as the fourth phase, and which will proceed just as soon as is practicable after we have dealt with the present phase.
– I address my question to the Acting Prime Minister. It is reported that the Australian Government is negotiating the purchase of four submarines from the United Kingdom Government. Is the report correct? Are these submarines to be built in the United Kingdom to the specifications of the Australian Government, or are they submarines already in the service of the United Kingdom Government? If they are submarines already in service, does not this policy of purchase give rise to serious doubts as to whether public funds are being spent to the best advantage? Is it not correct that similar purchases in the past - such as aircraft carriers - gave rise to serious criticism, and further, is the Acting Prime Minister aware that a few weeks ago the New Zealand Government set up a royal commission to inquire into the purchase on its behalf of Canberra bombers which were equipped with reconditioned engines?
– Any reports that have appeared relating to purchases of submarines by the Australian Government are purely speculative. No decision whatever has been made on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. The honorable gentleman will recall that a supplementary pension is payable when a pensioner has to pay rent and when the pensioner has no income except the pension. Can he say what will be the effect of the merged means test on eligibility for the supplementary pension? If this question has not yet been resolved, will the honorable gentleman give it early consideration and make an announcement as soon as possible?
Mr. ROBERTON__ I inform the honorable member for Bradfield that no change has been made in the qualifications of those who are eligible for supplementary assistance. This was a new social service benefit introduced to afford material assistance to those who are in the greatest need in our community. It provides for the payment of an additional 10s. a week to a single pensioner who is required’ to pay rent and who is entirely dependent upon his pension. The introduction of the merged means test will not materially affect these requirements. However, the position will be watched and if applicants for supplementary assistance are likely to be prejudiced in any way by the incidence of the merged means test, appropriate action will be taken to remove the disadvantage.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister arrange for a discussion to take place at the next Premiers’ Conference on the situation, arising from the tangled CommonwealthState financial relations, which deprives inmates of mental hospitals of social service benefits which they had been receiving? Will he endeavour to reach agreement with the Premiers so that these unfortunate people will not suffer from this discrimination against them?
– I comprehend the interest of the honorable member in this matter. The agenda for Premiers’ Conferences is within the control of the Premiers as well as the Prime Minister, who is the chairman. The matter raised by the honorable member really deals with a proposal that there should be a change in what has been the historic arrangement in respect of pensions for inmates of mental institutions. Such a change would, I think, be sponsored by the State governments, acting in the interests of the inmates of their own institutions. I assure the honorable member that any State Premier can take quite effective steps to have this matter listed for consideration at the next Premiers’ Conference.
– My question, which is directed to the Postmaster-General, refers to a series of programmes telecast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Brisbane each Sunday at 9.30 p.m. The programmes deal with the rise to power of Mao Tse-tung, the rise to power of Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia, the establishment of United States bases in Okinawa - an anti-American film - and the life and conditions of people working in factories in Peking - a purely propaganda film. Is the Minister aware that this session has been referred to in Brisbane as the Communist half-hour? Will he have a check made of the contents of these films and have an investigation made to ascertain why these programmes, which are offensive to most Australians, are telecast in this sequence and at that most popular television time?
– I have had inquiries not only from the honorable member for Lilley but also from others regarding these programmes. The programmes form part of a series which was acquired by the Australian Broadcasting Commission from the British Broadcasting Corporation, and they have been shown in various cities in Australia for a very considerable period. Because of the honorable member’s statement to me as to the reaction of some viewers, I have recently informed the chairman of the commission of the exception taken in some quarters to the sequence in which the programmes are being shown. I understand that various important persons, such as Lloyd George, are also dealt with in these programmes. I have asked the chairman of the commission to investigate the sequence in which the films are shown and the reaction of viewers, and to furnish me with a report later. When I get any communication on the matter from the chairman I shall be glad to confer with the honorable member for Lilley.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister in a position to give the House any information about the probable dates of return to Australia of the Prime Minister and of the Attorney-General?
– I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that when the Prime Minister left on the mission he is now undertaking he hoped and expected to be back in Australia within a fortnight. I have no doubt that the right honorable gentleman will pay due regard to happenings at this most important meeting “which he is attending, and it is completely correct that he should do so. I also have no doubt that he will be back within a fortnight if the circumstances, in his judgment, are such that it is proper for him to return; but he may decide, as I hope he will, to stay a little longer if, in his opinion, this is the correct thing to do.
As to the Attorney-General, the expectation and the intention was that he would return to Australia within a few weeks. He is with the Prime Minister at the present time, and it must be a matter for decision by the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral on the spot as to whether the latter returns soon, or whether it is desirable, having regard to all that is at issue involving this country and others, that he should remain a little longer after the Prime Minister returns.
I may say, while I am on my feet, that the Treasurer will be back in the latter part of next week.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Trade. Is the right honorable gentleman able to say how sales of wheat to the United Kingdom are progressing? Are they keeping up to the levels stipulated in the agreement that was recently entered into? Is there any chance of increasing the quantity laid down in that agreement in view of the fact that the coming harvest is expected to be a record one?
– When the United Kingdom-Australian trade treaty was negotiated in 1956-57, the United Kingdom Government expected that the importation of Australian wheat, or flour as wheat equivalent - and I speak of soft wheat, f.a.q. wheat - would be at a level of about 750,000 tons a year. That treaty, I may say, was a five-year treaty, and it is still in force. Because of certain adverse circumstances, it has not always been possible to sell the expected quantity of wheat every year. In the first year we simply did not have sufficient wheat. In the second year there were circumstances which resulted in less than the expected quantity being exported. I am delighted to be able to say that up to the present time United Kingdom buyers have contracted to purchase 781,000 tons of wheat, or flour as wheat equivalent, this year. Sometimes more than 50,000 tons of flour will be purchased, and the remainder will be in the form of grain. This represents a splendid disposal in circumstances in which it is quite difficult to sell wheat. I believe we will have a rather better experience in selling wheat and flour in this wheat year than we were entitled to expect a few months ago.
– I ask the Acting Prime. Minister a question supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Reid, in his answer to which the right honorable gentleman showed no concern whatever at the agreement made by the American Government to supply arms to General Nasution. Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that General Nasution is a militaristic, fanatical gentleman who has always expressed the intention to take military action to acquire West Irian? Is the Minister completely unconcerned about the supply of arms to this general, in view of the fact that he has expressed these intentions with regard to West New Guinea? Is this a matter that we can brush aside and view with complete unconcern?
– I want to make it quite clear that it is not the policy of this Government to pick a quarrel and become bad friend’s with the great and populous country which it is our destiny to live beside for ever. The Indonesian Government has a rebellion on its hands. As the constituted power in that country, it is entitled to cast around to equip itself to handle an internal revolution. For that purpose, I see no reason why it should not do so.
– ls the Minister for Labour and National Service able to confirm that the demography section of the Australian National University announced recently that, over the next six years, the youth element in the Australian population would increase by 40 per cent., while the general overall population increase would be only 13 per cent.? Will the Minister arrange for the Department of Labour and National Service to devote research to this trend, and take all necessary steps to ensure that the increased employment demand by youths will be matched by encouragement and easy absorption into the nation’s work force?
– I have not seen the latest figures by the demography section of the Australian National University, but I have seen several estimates in recent months. I think the last one I saw was based on certain assumptions that there would be an increase in the population over the. next ten years of between. 20 and 22 per cent., and perhaps a 40 per cent, increase in the youth population. I can give the honorable gentleman an assurance that, so. far as the Commonwealth Government and the State governments are concerned, everything is being done to increase the prospects of the education of these people, and substantial increases in the education vote are being made. I can give the honorable, gentleman an assurance that everything my department can do to maintain our concept of full employment will be done. In other words, we are fairly confident that all these youths will be satisfactorily placed in employment.
– Consistent with an answer 1 gave to a question in the House yesterday, and pursuant to section 50b of the War Service Homes Act 1918-1956, I lay on the table the following paper: -
War Service Homes Act - Report of the Director of War Service Homes, for year 1959-60.
Debate resumed from 4th October (vide page 1645), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill and the two statements which, by leave, are being discussed with it, indicate the want of a sense of urgency in developing Papua and New Guinea. The legislation and the documents show that the Government still believes that Australia can go its own way at its own pace in New Guinea. They show that the Government still adheres to the idea that we must have even development throughout the Territory and that we can go slow in the Gazelle until we have subdued the Sepik. Australians in general have come to realize that in very few years indeed, New Guinea will be the last trust territory in the world, and that Papua will be one of the few colonial territories in the world. Our performance there will be compared with the perfor mances of other countries, not least those of the United Kingdom during the past 70 or 80 years during which Australia has ruled Papua, Europeans have ruled New Guinea, and other Europeans have ruled the countries of Africa which are now achieving independence.
In some respects, our record has been undoubtedly good. No country in the world could have done more than Australia has done to spread law and order and develop air communications in a territory with such a difficult terrain and such a fragmented population as this Territory. In some other respects, our record has been variable. In health, for instance, we find Papua and New Guinea among the world’s worst plague spots for tuberculosis and malaria, and that the diet of the inhabitants is notably deficient in protein. On the other hand, Australia has shown a great and generous humanitarianism in making available the highest medical skills such as plastic and thoracic surgery without cost to the inhabitants of the Territory. In some other respects, it is idle to conceal or excuse our poor record in education, surface communications, the franchise, and the development of overseas markets and of employment practices. In other words, in training the indigenous inhabitants for political independence and economic viability, we are trailing the field.
This is going to become more and more apparent in this decade which has started with the emergence of many of the countries of Africa to independence, and after the last decade which witnessed the emergence of the remaining countries of Asia to independence.
This bill deals principally with the franchise for the Legislative Council in the Territory. It takes some large steps, but they are not large enough. It does not give a direct vote for the Legislative Council to any indigenous inhabitant of the Territory. There are many indigenous inhabitants of the Territory who are as able to exercise a franchise and understand it as are most of the people in the Territory of European stock. All told, there are more people in the Territory of indigenous than of European stock who would be able to exercise the franchise.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) announced within the last 24 hours, the appointment of Dr. Reuben Taureka as an official member of the Legislative Council. Dr. Taureka, however, will not have a vote for the elected members of that Council. The Minister stated that he had personally discussed the method of election at some length with the leaders of the native people in the Territory last July. None of them, he said, was in favour of a popular vote at this stage. I suggest that we do not adequately assess and determine the aspirations of the indigenous inhabitants by asking the leaders for their views on this matter. Experience in Asia and Africa has been that the people who are not yet leaders are the ones who most desire the franchise and who will, in a very short time - a much shorter time than any one envisages in advance - become leaders. If we want to know the opinion of the indigenous inhabitants in general towards the franchise, it can be more securely and soundly determined by interviewing the school teachers and the Administration employees than by consulting those we call the leaders.
The only provisions which are being made for native participation in elections to the Legislative Council are for indirect participation, that is, people in native local government areas will choose delegates to an electoral convention which, in turn, will elect members of the Legislative Council to represent the indigenous population. The persons who are eligible to take part in elections to those native local government councils are natives who reside in the council areas, and who have paid council taxes in respect of the current financial year or who have been granted an exemption from such taxes.
The Minister has stated also that advanced groups of natives who have no opportunity to form local government councils will be given the right to send a stipulated number of delegates to an electoral conference. There the anomaly emerges most clearly. Native local government councils are found only in the rural parts of the Territory. There are no native local government councils in the urban areas.
– There is one in Port Moresby.
– There is none in Rabaul or Lae or in any of the other urban areas.
– Yes, there are.
– The people in the urban areas are politically the most sophisticated. That has been the experience throughout Asia during the last decade and in Africa during this decade. Scarcely any of the natives in the urban areas will have the opportunity to vote in a local government council election. The most that they can hope to achieve is that if they are regarded as advanced, they will be attached to a local government area. No such qualification is placed upon those who reside inside a local government area. But that is not the end of the objection. There are many thousands of persons who are not in local government areas but who can understand and could exercise the franchise. For instance, there are 4,000 such indigenous people employed by the Administration. In addition the Administration employs about 5,000 semi-skilled persons, and some of them might well be able to understand and exercise the franchise. Moreover, there are nearly 3,000 constables, all of whom are literate in that they can read and write English or Melanesian pidgin. The total number of Europeans on the electoral rolls at present is just over 5,000. It is quite clear that a much greater number of indigenes could vote. Many of them, from their occupations in the Public Service or as school teachers, clearly are competent to vote. Furthermore, there are indigenous persons who may not be literate but who, nevertheless, own and operate vessels, lorries or taxi cabs. This shows that they have some experience by European or Australian standards, and they should not be denied the franchise.
– There are native co-operatives.
– Yes. I have not listed all the occupations, but at least there are storekeepers, bookkeepers in co-opera tives and local government clerks, many of whom will not have the franchise unless they are in a local government area or are regarded as belonging to an advanced group of natives which can be attached to a local government area.
– There are medical outposts, too.
– Yes. There are many such trained persons. There are comparatively very few highly trained indigenes, but no indigene, however highly trained, can exercise the vote himself. In this respect world public opinion will not be satisfied. Neither should we be satisfied. Every British colony in the West Indies and right round the west coast of Africa has had universal adult franchise for some years. There is only one exception - the northern province of Nigeria has had male adult suffrage. Of course, there are exceptions in East Africa and Central Africa, but they are not examples which should commend themselves to us. In the committee stage we propose to move an amendment which will provide for every adult who resides in the Territory to be entitled to enrolment. Enrolment will not be compulsory, but any one who resides there will be able to secure enrolment if he shows enough interest or initiative to seek it.
There are plenty of safeguards in the Territory. There is not a majority of elected members on the Legislative Council. Even if the council produces some ordinance which does not meet with the approval of the Minister or the Government, the veto can be exercised by the Administrator, the Minister, the GovernorGeneral or this Parliament. The desirable thing is that the people who live in the Territory should be given practice in the franchise and in democratic processes. As Sir Andrew Cohen, the very experienced British representative in the United Nations Trusteeship Council, so aptly said in discussing our record in New Guinea, you only learn to play the fiddle by playing the fiddle.
I now pass to some other features of the position in New Guinea. I have stated that we have fallen down on our job, particularly in training the people for political independence and economic viability. The Territory needs more Australian material and human resources. The human resources are basic, whether we or the United Nations provide the money. There will be increasing difficulty in finding young Australians who will make their careers, or portion of them, in the Territory.
– That is supposition.
– Yes, but it is enlightened supposition. Some occupations in the Territory are valued in other parts of the world, including Australia. Ordinarily, agricultural scientists, doctors, engineers and, in some cases, school teachers pursue an occupation which is required everywhere in the world, not least in Australia. It will be possible for scientists, doctors and engineers to go to New Guinea and, in later years, if the Territory no longer requires their services, for them to come back to Australia and to pursue their careers relatively uninterrupted. In fact, am some instances experience in tropical conditions would give them still more value in Australia.
The position of teachers is unusual in that in Australia nearly all teachers are employed by State Departments of Education, t know that the Minister now is making efforts to recruit more young Australians to go to Papua and New Guinea, but any young person going to the Territory as a teacher will contemplate the probability (that his services will be superfluous or otherwise not required before he comes to the ordinary retiring age for a school teacher. At the same time he will realize that if for any reason he has to leave the Territory before his career has ended, there is no guarantee that he will be able to pursue it in Australia. The important thing, therefore, in regard to school teachers, who are basic for the development of the Territory, its that an arrangement should be made with the State governments to employ, without loss of seniority or emoluments, any person who goes to New Guinea as a teacher but has to leave there for any acceptable reason before his normal teaching life comes to an end. Then there is the very particular case of patrol officers. It is already difficult to persuade patrol officers to go to New Guinea, or to stay there. Yet they are basic for the spread of law and order in the Territory. Young men will not ‘go to the Terri tory now in any numbers because they realize that before their careers are ended their jobs will be superfluous in Papua and New Guinea. It should be made plain at this stage by the Commonwealth that any young man who enters the service of the Commonwealth in Papua and New Guinea and who has to leave that Territory, for any acceptable reason, before the end of his career, will be given appropriate employment elsewhere by the Commonwealth. If we do not guarantee the futures and careers of the men and women, particularly the young men and women, who are required in New Guinea, we will not get the numbers that Australia has to have there. 1 have paid particular attention to persons in public employment. I do not want it to be thought that I regard persons in private employment as not fulfilling important functions in the Territory. They do perform important functions in the Territory. Every person, every Australian, every migrant who goes to the Territory is in effect a representative of our way of life and can fulfil a useful function in the Territory. We should acknowledge that. No person should fear, if he goes to the Territory, that his service will not be valued by this country and, in fact, by the inhabitants of that Territory. There are a great number of people in the Territory who fear for their future, as they envisage it. I notice that the Administrator has been very properly bringing home to them the fact that there are more British people in India now than there ever were before in history. If we behave ourselves properly in the Territory, we need not fear for our future there in any way whatsoever. I do not want to pass from this subject without paying tribute, as every honorable member on this side who has gone to the Territory does, to the persons in .p.’ government employment there. They are performing as valuable a function as any Australian performs anywhere. But we must get more of them.
The position of education has been stated in some detail on other occasions. I need merely recall that, next door, the Dutch - belatedly, .admittedly - are now spending more on the education of their population, which is only one-third as numerous as ours, than we are spending. We can learn in this respect very much from the example of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has had colonies for over 300 years. More than any other colonial power it has preserved good relations with those colonies when they secured independence. The hope of the world, in many ways, in Africa and Asia has been the continuing good relations - voluntary now - between the United Kingdom and its former colonies. The United Kingdom has very definitely stressed the importance of education. In 1957, the last year for which I can obtain comprehensive figures, there were 39,000 teachers in training colleges in British dependencies. In 1959, there were two universities and four university colleges in British dependencies. There are also twelve institutions of higher technical education in the British colonies with over 10,000 full-time students. In 1958, there were over 11,000 persons from the colonies studying in the United Kingdom and Ireland. We cannot approach that record in our relations with Papua and New Guinea. Admittedly, before the war, we paid no attention to it. This Parliament made no grants to New Guinea and only £40,000 to Papua. By those standards, we have made terrific strides in the last fifteen years.
– Are there any natives taking tertiary education in Australia at all?
– None as far as I know, and there are only a few score of indigenes undergoing secondary education in Australia.
It has been suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and others, that we should establish institutions of tertiary education in the Territory. And, indeed, we should. Australia’s obligation, even more than that of any other European people, is to develop the tropics. We could provide in the Territory institutions of tropical agriculture, tropical engineering and tropical medicine which would attract students from not only the whole of the Territory but this continent, Asia, and all the archipelagos which surround it. We can in that way, much more effectively than by a great deal of our Colombo Plan aid, provide that leadership which European peoples can still provide and which they have to provide in increasing measure in the future if they are to preserve their own standards and fulfil their own missions. We should not be too proud to profit from British experience and from United Nations experience. The United Kingdom constantly avails itself of personnel and funds from United Nations resources. Within the last few months, the United Nations Trusteeship Council has advocated this once again, as it has done on previous occasions.
I need merely mention that in 1958 in the British colonies 71 experts and two fellowships were provided by the World Health Organization, 25 experts from the Food and Agricultural Organization, thirteen experts and one fellowship from the Technical Assistance Administration, ten experts and four fellowships from the International Labour Organization, five experts and one fellowship from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, two experts from the World Meteorological Organization and three fellowships from the International Civil Aviation Organization. If it is good enough for that great power, with its long colonial history, to avail itself of those services, it should be good enough for us also.
Furthermore, if funds are required - and I believe they are not required so much as personnel - the British have shown us a similar lead. For instance, the International Bank has so far made available five loans to British colonies. One was of 14,000,000 dollars to Northern Rhodesia for its railways, another was of 28,000,000 dollars for electricity development in Southern Rhodesia, a third was of 24,000,000 dollars to the East Africa High Commission for transport, a fourth was of 28,000,000 dollars for Nigerian railways and the fifth loan, amounting to 80,000,000 dollars, was for the development of the Kariba hydro-electric project. The British are not too proud to avail themselves of that service. If we are to train people for political independence and economic viability, we need the personnel, and we need the funds. If Australia is unable to provide them in sufficient measure, then, like the British, we should avail ourselves of international human and material resources.
I now pass, with proper discretion, 1 hope, to the question of economic viability. It is unfortunate that, with respect to every present or possible project in New Guinea, loaded questions are asked in this House by Government supporters, the inference being that New Guinea’s products, in some ways, should be deterred. With respect to coffee, cocoa and rubber, there is never any demur in this House, but with respect to copra, which is used for margarine, and with respect to sugar; plywood, passion fruit and peanuts, Government supporters repeatedly ask questions plainly implying that New Guinea’s products should be penalized in some way. We also impose customs duties on many of the products coming to Australia from the Territory. We have permitted in the Territory the processing to the final stage of only one product - plywood, at Bulolo. Anybody who has seen the plywood factory at Bulolo will have been impressed with the capacity of the operatives and the quality of the product.
In the last ten years, the Government has taken the attitude that Papua and New Guinea should be developed, if at all, as Australia is to be developed - if at all, by private enterprise, as it is called. That is, by existing trading and shipping companies. We must acknowledge the fact that we cannot develop a tropical territory by private enterprise in this day and age. Such territories have not been developed by private enterprise elsewhere in this day and age. Development of tropical territories requires governmental assistance, either national or international, and we ought to see that opportunities for the growing, processing and marketing of New Guinea products are provided by governmental means where private enterprise has not provided them. There are few things which can be grown in the tropics and which cannot be grown in New Guinea.
It will be asserted that this means that Australia should curb her growing of tropical products in order to help New Guinea. I suggest nothing of the sort. Australia is the international voice for New Guinea. This Government is the only government which can make international commodity agreements for the products of New Guinea. A great number of products which are grown in New Guinea are also grown in other countries and have to be marketed on competitive terms. Australia should do what the British Government has done for many years past. Britain produces no tropical products herself. They are produced in her colonies, many of which, until recently, were non-self-governing. But Britain made with other producing and consuming countries agreements which ensured that her colonies were given adequate outlets in the world’s markets and that, in consequence, her colonial wards were afforded an adequate standard of living.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this has never been done here?
– I know of no instance in which it has been done. Australia should do no less than Britain has done, Sir. Australia has a great challenge and a great opportunity in New Guinea. We cannot compel affection, obedience or co-operation from any colonial people. We cannot buy those things. But we can earn them. If Australians, with proper guarantees by the Australian Government, will devote some of their lives to leading the indigenous inhabitants of New Guinea and Papua, we shall stand better in the world. We shall be more secure ourselves and we shall have provided for one relatively undeveloped part of the world opportunities equivalent to the best provided by any other European people. We shall have given the people of New Guinea and Papua political independence and ensured the Territory’s economic viability. We have not worked towards this goal with sufficient determination or energy yet. We still have time, but not much!
.- Mr. Speaker, having had an opportunity to address myself to the subject of New Guinea during the consideration recently of the estimates for the Department of Territories, I shall speak very briefly on this measure, and I shall not traverse the sam» ground again. I rise principally because I think that I may have failed last week to make my position perfectly clear. The real issue in this debate was raised by a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 20th June, 1960, at a press conference on his return from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, in London. That statement was to the effect that opinion overseas was that it was better to grant independence to native peoples sooner than later. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has been good enough to have printed and circulated to honorable members a pamphlet containing the text of that statement made by the Prime Minister in an interview on his return from overseas. The relevant part of the text is as follows: -
Prime Minister: . . . I think the prevailing school of thought to-day is that if in doubt you should go sooner, not later. I belong to that school of thought myself now, though I didn’t once. But I have seen enough in recent years to satisfy me that even though some independences may have been premature, where they have been a little premature, they have at least been achieved with good will. And when people have to wait too long for independence, then they achieve it with ill will, and that perhaps is the difference between the British colonial policy of this century and that of some other countries.
Question: Would you apply that view to New Guinea, sir?
Prime Minister: I would apply that to any country. . . .
We may get to a point, or my successors may get to a point, where they say, “ Well, maybe if we allow them to determine their future now, it is a little premature “. I would sooner take that risk, at that time than leave it too long so that the demand for self-determination became explosive and produced hostility.
The Prime Minister then spoke about the dangers inherent in some people believing that independence was to be granted to New Guinea possibly within five years - particularly, the danger that it would be difficult both to recruit personnel for the Public Service and other employers and to induce capital investment in the Territory.
At about the same time as the PrimeMinister made these observations, the Minister for Territories said that there was an intention to fix realistic target dates for development in the fields of education and so forth. Later, the Minister made a statement in which in respect of these matters no target dates were mentioned, and both the Prime Minister and the Minister stated that there was no change in the Australian attitude and policy, and that everything would go along as before. Naturally, the public has been rather bewildered by what appear to be contradictory statements. What the interpretation may be, I do not know. It may be that the first statement - that made by the Prime Minister - caused something of a panic among settlers, public servants and others in New Guinea, and it may have been thought desirable to allay that panic in some measure. Further, it may have been thought that statements that we would remain in New Guinea for a very long time to come should be made for international consumption in the hope that Australia might borrow as much time as possible. This was a very laudable desire and ambition.
If these corrective statements, if I may so describe them, which followed the earlier statement made by the Prime Minister and that made by the Minister for Territories, were made for international consumption and for the purpose of allaying undue panic among settlers and officials in New Guinea, I am very glad that the later statements were made. But if in fact they were made owing to undue complacency, if it was really thought that we should have a great deal of time in which to prepare the people of Papua and New Guinea for selfgovernment, I think these later statements could be quite dangerous. This is a matter of opinion, of course. Nobody can be dogmatic on these matters. Least of all would I wish to be so, because, although I have visited the Territory and although I have read the foreign news in order to learn what is going on in other parts of the world, I by no means regard myself as an expert in these matters. Nor, I suggest, are many other honorable members in a position to be dogmatic on these matters. However, if my reading of events is correct, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we shall be under very heavy pressure within perhaps the next ten or fifteen years. We shall be subjected to both external and internal pressures.
The question of whether we are to grant independence sooner or later is not an academic one. There are very practical reasons why we should have some views on this matter. An educational programme involves, in effect, an apprenticeship in the arts of government and administration, as well as formal schooling. If we are to gear our programme in these respects to the requirements of the situation, it is clear that we must have some view as to how long we have to carry the programme into effect. Again, if we find that it is difficult to recruit personnel for the services required in the Territory, and to induce people to invest capital in the Territory, then we must now formulate some plan whereby we can give the guarantees and the security that will induce people and capital to go to the Territory. We must give thought to these matters now.
These are very practical reasons why one must have a guess on this matter. It is not purely a question of speculation. As some one has said, it might be five, ten, fifteen or twenty years. Obviously, the Administration must have some notion of how long we have for our programme and of what measures must be taken to ensure the viability of the economy and recruitment to the public service.
I do not want to speak at length on the external pressures that exist. We all know that a cold war is going on. If we are going to adhere to the policy of uniform development, if we are going to hope that self-government can be deferred until there are literate masses and an enlightened electorate in the Territory, then, plainly, other people will take the initiative from us. lt is incredible to suppose that the Communists - whether they are from Peking or Moscow does not matter - will not be training leaders for New Guinea, and those leaders will be able to lead the masses who have not been prepared, and who cannot be prepared for many years, to be an enlightened electorate. So, by not preparing an 61ite to take over, we will be leaving the field to the few Communists who certainly will be trained and prepared to take over. It is perfectly obvious that the Dutch want to get out of West New Guinea as soon as they decently can. It may be a matter of ten years. Their plans are geared to that period. If they advance much more quickly than we do, who does one suppose will take over the leadership of the whole island of New Guinea? It will be the elite that has advanced the furthest and that will be the elite of West New Guinea which may well have leanings towards Indonesia. As I have said, the Communists will be preparing leaders also. By holding back the development of an elite in our part of New Guinea we will leave the field open to Communist trained people or the more advanced people of West New Guinea whose attitude to us may not be what we would wish.
So it seems to me that we would be very foolish not to set about training an elite, and by an elite I mean those who will form, ultimately, the government, the public service, the police and the army, and all those who will perform the technical work associated with any modern viable community, whether they be teachers, engineers or medical men or others. This, surely, is the kind of elite that we ought to train.
Let it be quite clear that when I speak of training I do not mean only formal schooling. Clearly, formal schooling and university education is needed for a number of the people, but you also need a period of apprenticeship or understudy of Europeans who are performing the relevant types of work. I do not expect that when self-government comes, if we are able to succeed in our policy, all the Europeans will be immediately ejected.
In the Library yesterday I was reading an article in the London “ Economist “ which dealt with the future of the white man in Africa. It pointed out that there was a very strong market in the new countries of Africa for top administrators and technical people from Europe. The same position will tend to exist in New Guinea. So, when self-government is granted the white man will not be immediately ejected. We have to continue with the process of what might be called the “ indigenation “ of the country - putting the indigenes into the public service, the higher ranks of the police force and so on. This is the course that was followed by the British in India and Africa. By degrees, native people, having undergone formal training, received apprenticeship training as understudies of the white men whom they were subsequently to replace. But that did not mean that at the moment the British authorities moved out all Englishmen moved out, too. Nor would one expect that to happen in New Guinea.
I want to make two points: First, 1 believe that we shall not have 50 years in New Guinea. We shall have a relatively short time in New Guinea - a much shorter time than any of us would wish. Soothing syrup is not the remedy. Secondly, if this is so, the only practical policy is to develop an elite as quickly as we possibly can, both by formal education and by training in the various essential branches of government. You cannot afford to wait until the mass of the electorate is literate and enlightened. You will not have the time. I protest against all the soothing syrup that has been ladled out in the course of this debate.
It is true that there are 500 different languages in New Guinea. It is true that the country is broken and segmented by mountains, lt is true that there are still head hunters there. It. is true that there is no national unity. All these things are perfectly true. But we do not live in a rational world. We live in an irrational world and the pressure from outside, and the pressure from inside once there are a few educated people, will force us into granting self-government much sooner than we would wish and sooner than will be good for the people. If one accepts that statement one must proceed to make the proper preparations. I have suggested what those preparations are. A good deal has been said about what is done and should be done in the field of education and in other fields. I do not think it is necessary for me to occupy the time of the House on that matter. An honorable member interjects, “ Hear, hear! “ I often think that making speeches in this place is a waste of time, both for the person who makes the speech and for those who sit in the House and do not listen to it. 1 believe that the show here must go on; but it is a futile show.
As I said when I rose to speak; I wanted to have a few words in this debate because I did not make my position quite clear in the Estimates debate. Perhaps I have not made it clear yet. Let me conclude by saying that I believe that we shall not have a great deal of time in New Guinea. I believe that the right policy is to develop an elite as quickly as we can. Those are the points that I rose to make. I do not for a moment suppose that the Minister, or the Government, or anybody else, will take the slightest notice of them. But I am not speaking to the Minister or to members of this House. Under the Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker, I must address my remarks to you, but I am speaking for the sake of my own conscience, because, when the time comes, I want to have a record in “ Hansard “ to show that I adopted a point of view which, in the event, I think will turn out to be right.
.- The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) has just made a good contribution from the other side of the House, because I believe that if there is one thing from which members on the Government benches are suffering it is complacency. There are some things for which we on this side of the House are prepared to pay credit. We are prepared to say - I believe this, and I say it again and again - that the Minister, by retaining up to 97’ per cent, of the land for the people in New Guinea, as far as statistics show, has carried out a great and noble work. It is especially great and noble when you consider the general attitudes of his Cabinet colleagues and many members of the Liberal Party, who in ordinary circumstances could be expected to have allowed the commercial giants of Australia to pour into the place and confiscate the whole of the land of the people.
So that is one point on which we have complete agreement. The second one, of course, concerns the public servants in New Guinea. Australia can well be proud of its public servants there. They are giving a great deal of work for a minimum of expenditure. One has only to visit the place to see the great work being done by ordinary Australians who are creating order out of the jungle, and almost by sheer hand labour are putting up buildings and building roads and clearing air strips. This is also a great and noble work but, unfortunately, looked at from our side of the chamber - and fortunately, I think, we are supported by some members on the other side - the whole approach to the development of New Guinea appears to be timid and cautious in the extreme.
Consider the matter advocated by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) - the training of an elite. What does this involve? It involves a wholehearted, full-blooded approach to education. There is no evidence whatsoever that we have had a wholehearted, full-blooded approach to education in Papua and New Guinea. Question after question has been directed in this chamber to this problem. Yet we find that there is no real activist policy on the part of the Minister or his department or anybody else in the Government. You only have to see how this whole problem has captured the imagination of the people of Australia to realize what can be done about solving it. You only have to consider the response that came to a recent advertisement for people to go to New Guinea to help to carry out what we might call a “ crash “ programme of education. The advertisement called for people of intermediate standard to go up to the jungle and teach. I understand that some 1,500 young Australian men applied and were prepared to go and do it. But what is the Government’s reaction to that wonderful response? From the figures announced, some 150 or 160 of these applicants can be accepted. Where is the imagination? Where is the administrative skill or the know-how? Surely you can arrange to use some 1,500 people to train the natives. You must capture these people while their enthusiasm is at its peak, and get them in:to the service. It is a tribute to the enthusiasm of the Australian people that so many young people were prepared to go up there and teach the natives. I presume that most of these people were in their teens.
– Some of them were up to 50 years of age.
– Good luck to them! When they get a bit older they could become good Ministers. The point is that young people anyhow would necessarily have to have the support of their parents. There is a great wave of feeling in Australia about tackling this task that lies ahead of us. It is up to the Minister to capitalize on this wave of feeling instead of trying to capitalize on the investment procedures suggested by the honorable member for Bradfield in his more fervid moments of capitalistic aberration. The job now is to capture the imagination of the Australian people, invest in their enthusiasm, and find out what you can do with the skill and imagination that lie in the people of Papua and New Guinea itself.
It is from this point of view that the Government, I believe, is culpable. Fifteen years after the end of the war, and when the Government has been in office for eleven years, the Government has done very little about the upper layers of the education system of Australia. One of the main things to which I am directing attention is the fact that so little interest is taken by the Government in education in Papua and New Guinea. In fact, it takes so little interest that the honorable member for East Sydney had a question on the notice-paper - as, indeed, he always has - as follows: -
This is a simple, straightforward question. I have no doubt that I could go to the Library and find out the literacy percentage in Spain, Portugal - possibly the Congo - and Indonesia and India. But in reply to the question on the literacy percentage in our own trust territory the answer given by the Minister was - 1, 2 and 3. No statistics are available.
That, of course, shows the present haphazard, offhand approach to the general question. If you are going to have an elite - for want of a better one at the moment I will use the term used by the honorable member for Bradfield - then you must have a programme under which you are trying to produce all kinds of people. You must be trying to produce people to administer in offices, people to teach in schools; people to work in hospitals, people to drive motor cars and run a transport system generally, people to create all these things, people to build airfields and ships and so on. You can go to Papua and New Guinea and see the Pacific Islands Regiment whose members get some of the training that could well be used in civilian life up there. But, unfortunately, in the community generally there is a lack of that training. I would be the first to take umbrage at the creation of an elite in such an undemocratic community. By the term “ elite “ do we mean the kind of elite that the people of Holland are attempting to create in West New Guinea? Do we mean an elite of intellect, or do we apply the term to people who own property, as we do in Australia? When you create that kind of elite you perpetuate an undemocratic procedure.
That is why we are particularly interested in this debate and why the Labour Party is putting up a pretty emphatic argument on this matter. We say that although we are appreciative of the steps taken by the Government they are really only half-steps. They are just the beginnings. They are half-hearted beginnings, at that, because the development of representative government is not a new problem. Representative government is perhaps 1,000 years old to our knowledge, at least at this stage. Representative government is not the prerogative of literate communities. It is not only Papua and New Guinea that has to face this question of finding representatives without having a literate community on which to base representative government. Is not this the problem that faced India and Indonesia? I understand that amongst the aboriginal people in Malaya difficulty is being found in holding elections. But this is not a novel problem for assistance in solving which we cannot turn to somebody for advice and assistance. I do not know whether the Minister has sent emissaries or fact-finding missions to these places to find out how other countries have tackled the problem, but if he has not done so I suggest that he do so.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) suggested, quite rightly, that it is not necessary when holding an election among primitive people to have ballot-papers with the names of the candidates shown in words. He suggested that we can do as was done in India, and distinguish the candidates by symbols. The people in Papua and New Guinea are people who live in organized communities. The communities may be small, but the people in them are used to working and living under some sort of community system. It is not a highly complex and organized system with settled laws and a judiciary, but it is still a system of community life. So, the Government would not be building up from scratch as it might be doing if it were attempting a similar programme among the Australian aborigines.
So, we say that the Government’s approach to the general question in Papua and New Guinea is a half-hearted approach. It is timid in the extreme. We on this side believe that the first step that the Government ought to take is to widen the franchise. It should adopt an adult franchise and get on with the job. The Minister says that that is not going to be easy. But surely, in this modern age, with all the lines of communication available to us - radio, air transport, the press, printing without limit, and so on - we can approach this question in at least an adventurous way rather than in a timid and cautious way.
I was interested in the Minister’s remarks in his speech when he said -
I personally discussed at some length with the leaders of the native people in the Territory last July the method of election. None of them was in favour of a popular vote at this stage.
Let us assume that the Minister went round Australia speaking to the leaders of some of the State Parliaments. Let us suppose that he asked the leaders of the Victorian Parliament - Mr. Bolte and his friends - whether they were in favour of popular elections in the municipalities. They would say that they were not. Let us suppose that he asked the South Australian Premier if the people in South Australia were in favour of electoral reform? The Premier would say that they were not. I think that we should adopt in this matter a simple straightforward view that human beings ought to be treated as equals, and that we should create the administrative systems that will enable them to be equal. We believe that the only way in which to treat political development in Papua and New Guinea is to adopt an adult suffrage. Representative government has been perhaps most particularly developed in Englishspeaking communities. Probably England herself has made the greatest contribution to the development of representative government. Were the electors of England always literate? It is doubtful. In the 800 or 900 years since the first representative assembly was called in England, how many of the people who were voting were literate? It is doubtful if even a fair percentage of them were literate, until the year 1600, or thereabouts. Were all the electors literate even late in the last century, because universal education and literacy have not been so important to the people in the past as they are to the people in communities such as ours? So I say that to base the whole approach to elections and suffrage on the question of literacy is to go against the general development of government in the past.
There have been organized and complex governments all over the world for thousands of years, and where the people have had informed government and responsible leaders without any test of literacy. Therefore, we do not need to look at this aspect. I think it would be handy if we knew exactly how many people in Papua and New Guinea were literate. I do not know what we should term the actual inhabitants of New Guinea. “ Papuan “ is a nice word and “ New Guinean “ does not sound too good and “ indigenes “ and “ natives “-
– Call them Melanesians.
– I think we should use the term “ Papuans “ because it has an appropriate sound, if I may so so, and it means something. The people of New Guinea will probably be insulted, but perhaps it is time we coined some general term for these people, instead of just calling them indigenes, anyhow.
The local citizens, or Papuans, are to have six elected representatives and the nonnative people of New Guinea are to have six elected representatives. What is the difference between them? There are possibly some 800,000 people of adult age in Papua and New Guinea who are of native origin. There are some 6,000, 7,000 or 8,000 white people or people of European or Chinese descent in Papua and New Guinea - adults - who are considered capable of electing representatives, and they are to have six representatives. Is the Minister going to tell us that there are only 7,000 or 8,000 responsible adult people of Papuan descent in Papua-New Guinea? I would think not, because I have only to turn to his own statements on the growth of local government to get his opinion. And he takes some pride in the position. He inherited it from the Administration before him and he has built on it. Democracy, he said, has already put down the roots and at the end of ten years we have one-quarter of a million people going to the polls. This is the Minister who, here, says he does not believe that these people should go to the polls to elect members of the Legislative Council! He says that in 1950 there were four councils serving 11,900 people in 55 villages and that to-day there are 35 councils serving over 240,000 people in 1,269 villages. Whereas in 1950 there were only 70 councillors, to-day there are 931. Now we have something like 250,000 people who have become accustomed to voting in their local council elections, and they know something about it. The voting age, I understand, is only seventeen years, ls that so?
– In the villages, yes.
– It is an advance on the democracy that the Liberal Party of Australia believes is suitable for most Australians. In Papua and New Guinea, some 250,000 people over seventeen years of age and living in villages are able to elect their own councils. I have seen these councils and they are an advance on some Australian councils, too. One or two of those that 1 saw had women members and not many women are elected to Australian municipal councils. We read the Minister’s statement on these things in which he takes a pride and joy, and we remind ourselves that in the States in which the Liberal Party has control of municipal government it does not even give all adult males a vote. But there is ample evidence that the people of Papua and New Guinea are capable of electing representatives and we believe that that should be the basis of electing the Legislative Council, because the history of this country shows that once you establish an undemocratic procedure it is terrifically hard to get rid of it.
The Minister himself mentioned the question of one-vote-one-value and universal suffrage and well-established governmental principles. What is the position in Australia? For the 100 years since responsible and representative government became the order of the day we have been struggling to get electoral reform and to get one vote one value in the various States. During that time we have been struggling to get rid of upper houses and undemocratic franchises and in a number of the States we have not had much success. So if at this stage we foist on the people of Papua and New Guinea an undemocratic political structure and if by some chance we leave the place or give these people their independence before they have achieved political democracy, there is very little chance of the local citizens achieving it themselves.
I believe we have a trust in this matter to learn from the lessons of history and take steps immediately to see that the people of Papua and New Guinea have a move developed electoral system. 1 do not believe that the problems based on creating a roll and carrying out elections are insuperable and <so, from this side of the 3-iouse, we will press that amendment as closely as we can. I agree with the proposition put forward by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) last night about expansion of the representation to be concurrent with the -districts in Papua and New Guinea and expansion of the elected membership ot the councils. I forget the figures the honorable member used, but I think he suggested that there should be 40 or 45 elected Papuan members. This number would seem to be eminently suitable. This is a large community and six members is only a drop in the bucket. Forty-five would be smaller representation even than you will find in some Australian States with equivalent population. Some communities in Papua and New Guinea are quite sophisticated - I refer to communities such as those around Rabaul and Port Moresby - and there are those who have had consistent practice in voting for their own local councils. So we think that six members is a very timid beginning to representation.
We think that election by indirect vote has an unhappy record in this country and ought not to be tolerated. It is a bad thing to have a division in the electoral roll. Now the Minister has adopted the tactics which he has used in other places. In principle he is in favour of a common roll, but in fact these i people are not to be on a common roll. I think lessons from our own history should teach us that once we have established something of this nature it is awfully difficult ito alter. The Minister, being an historian of some note, should have some sense of this. He should not want to foist >on to the people of Papua-New Guinea a system which in future they wm find it difficult to change. Therefore we do not think that the Government should consider for a moment anything but a common roll. Let us remember that the non-Papuan population of Papua-New Guinea is a minute proportion of the whole. I think it is only 4bout I per cent. There are only some $,000 adults able to vote, so this is a very small electorate. It is only half the size of a Victorian State electorate, or only the size of an electorate in some of the other smaller States. Therefore, it is only a minute population about which we are talking when we speak of the white population, but it is a large one when we are talking of the Papuan population, and we ought not to allow administrative difficulties to stand in the way of creating political democracy. From political democracy will flow the practice that gives people the confidence to run their own affairs.
What are we afraid of? We need not be afraid of anything. Is the Legislative Council an autonomous sovereign body? Of course it is not! In fact, it is answerable to the Administrator and the Minister. It is answerable indirectly - too indirectly for my liking - to this Parliament for the time being. Is there any danger in the kind of decisions that it could make?
– What do you mean by saying “ too indirect for my liking “? Do you not want the Legislative Council to be answerable, or do you want it to be answerable?
– Until the people have a more perfect system of democracy, I would like to see the council in Papua and New Guinea more directly answerable to this Parliament. I understand that the Public Accounts Committee has had something to say on this subject. My comment also applies to political democracy. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), who should have some sense of democracy himself, should realize that the people in Papua and New Guinea have no one in the Australian electorate to speak for them but the members of this Parliament. The honorable member should be on my side on this question, and probably he would be, if he stopped to think.
– Do your children have a vote?
– No, but if they go to Papua and New Guinea they will probably have a vote much more quickly than they will if they remain in Victoria, which has a Liberal government. The honorable
Member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) suggests by implication that the native people in the Territory aTe children. I inform him that my children do not have a vote, but they do not pay taxes either. What is the law about taxes in Papua and New Guinea? Under the Personal Tax Ordinance 1957-58, which came into operation on 1st January, 1958, personal tax at rates fixed by ordinance each year is levied on and paid by all male persons of or over the age of eighteen years.
– Say how much it is.
– I do not question that. The honorable member for Corangamite suggests that these people are child-like, that they are not to be trusted with this difficult and dangerous procedure of voting. The Minister said that at present a quarter of a million of them go to the polls. The Government has decided also that they ought to pay taxes. They are capable of paying taxes, and they are capable of earning a sufficient income to attract taxation. If they are capable of taking part in government to that extent, they are capable of voting. I deny that they are child-like. They may be simple, when their life is compared with many aspects of our complex society, but they are not child-like or childish. They are good people and friendly people. If we make a mess of New Guinea, it will be on our own conscience. From my brief experience of the people of Papua and New Guinea, I can say that they seem to be friendly in the extreme and eager to learn. But they will learn only if we offer them the opportunity to learn. Six electoral opportunities scattered over Papua and New Guinea, in my view, are not enough.
Suppose in the general political system that we take what seem to be adventurous steps. I point out that the approach of honorable members opposite is timid, cautious and conservative when it should be adventurous. If we increase the number of elected members of the Legislative Council to 30, 40 or 50 and they, after consultation with other members of the council, pass laws which are horrific, in the Minister’s view - they would need to be pretty dreadful laws to be more horrific than some of the measures introduced by this Government in the past - the Minister can exercise his power of veto. Surely if the Government is anxious to create an education system which includes political development, it should increase the number of elected members of the council.
The Minister intimated that he would be agreeable if at this stage we debated, to some extent, the earlier statement he made to the Parliament. I want to support the points made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He said that the Government’s record in education, communications, secondary industries, overseas trade and general political advancement was extremely poor. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) was critical of the complacent attitude adopted particularly by Government supporters. I want to draw attention to the Government’s complete failure to develop industry in Papua and New Guinea. The statistics show that there has been very little development of local industry. No country can develop unless it has a secondary industry and a primary industry. The primary industry of Papua and New Guinea, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, is meagre, and the secondary industry is almost non-existent. I would deplore any attempt to hand the development of these industries to private enterprise. I do not think private enterprise would be capable of undertaking the development that is required, and if private enterprise did undertake it, profit would be made out of this development by exploiting the native people. Then, in the moment of freedom, the people of Papua and New Guinea could well find themselves saddled with a private enterprise that would continue to exploit them, just as has happened in other underdeveloped countries.
I look in vain for some items of basic development that one ought to find in a modern community. Where are the factories producing clothing and boots and shoes? These simple matters of development could easily be undertaken. If the Government had to provide some subsidy to establish these industries, it should do so. If people had to be trained in the technical colleges of Australia to perform this work, the opportunity should be provided for them. From the point of view of industrial development, the Territory is not significantly better off than it was 30 or 40 years ago, and I suppose that most of the native people are not much better off than they were 300 or 400 years ago. In some places, we can see where skill has been used to take advantage of local resources. The local timber has been used to construct buildings. Ample timber is available for this purpose and the people can be trained to do this work. The resources and the people are there, but very little has been done to develop them.
– Would you do it all by Government enterprise?
– I would do it by community enterprise. You may call it Government enterprise, but I envisage community enterprise as the best means of development. I would not let any further private commercial interests set foot in Papua and New Guinea. It is deplorable that the Government has apparently simply handed something else to private enterprise.
– You would make it a socialist state.
– A long time would elapse before it became a socialist state; health, education and all the other services are needed first. Socialism may provide the answer to this question and may be of benefit to the people. At the moment, no particularly large vested interests are established in the Territory, and we must ensure that this remains so.
– When the people are educated, they will not embrace socialism.
– There seem to be some well-educated socialists about. Your education may compare favorably with the education of others, but there seems to be a failure on your part to become politically educated.
A banking and finance system should be developed within the resources of Papua and New Guinea. This system should not be directed from Australia and the profits should not come to Australia. This applies also to industrial development. I hope the Minister will take some courage in his hands and do something that will lead to this development. I know that he has held back commercial exploiters from the gates of Papua and New Guinea. However, we must do something about the industrial and the agricultural development of the Territory on a larger scale than at present. The Opposition will not give any real support to development that is likely to foist upon the people of the Territory an undemocratic electoral system and one that shows no trust in the capacity of the people to look after their own affairs. This lack of trust has been shown already by the honorable member for Corangamite. I hope that some Government supporters will take their courage in their hands and support the amendments that the Opposition proposes to move.
.- I do not imagine for one moment that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) really believes half of what he says.
– That is a dreadful statement.
– It is not a dreadful statement. If the honorable member for Wills had studied some of the documents that he should have studied before he made his speech, he would not have made some of the remarks that he did. He had recourse to the reports of the United Nations committee which visited New Guinea and to the annual reports of the Territory Administration. He has had available to him the reports of numerous people who have studied these matters - not people who have spent only a few days in the Territory and then set themselves up as experts. One of the things that intensely annoys the people of the Territory at every level, in the Administration and privately - I do not mean the person who works in a bank, but some of the people who pioneered the Territory and who taught the natives to produce goods - is to read in their press that a member of this Parliament has set himself up as an authority, assuming the knowledge and ability to tell these people what they ought to do.
– How do you know what they are thinking?
– I include the honorable member for East Sydney amongst those who have presumed to set themselves up as authorities who can tell the people of New Guinea what to do. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) is also included, and he was the person whom Mr. Leahy, one of the greatest pioneers of the Territory, wanted to hit on the nose. The honorable member for Hindmarsh spent only a few minutes in his company, but at the end of that time Mr. Leahy had only one desire, to hang one on the honorable member’s chin.
– But he was not game to do it!
– Mr. Leahy was probably afraid of killing him, as the honorable member for East Sydney would ‘realize if he knew Mr. Leahy.
In this year of 1960 a popular phrase is current, which was coined by the British Prime Minister in a reference to the situation in Africa, when he said that the winds of change were blowing over the world. The phrase caught on, and nobody would deny that it accurately describes the situation. But the wind has strengthened a little and has now become a wind of fear, and there are some people who want us to adopt a policy dictated by this fear.
Our administration of New Guinea has been commended by representatives of the United Nations. If honorable members study the reports of the United Nations Trusteeship Council, the representatives of which visited the Territory, they will find that the council had no strong criticism to offer. Its reports praised the Administration and what it has been doing. Now, however, because Khrushchev gets up in the United Nations and gabbles a few fiery speeches, it is suggested that we must change our system and do something which we should not even contemplate - leave the natives to their own devices. This would be the worst thing that could happen to them. I think we should have sufficient courage to carry on in the way we originally decided, and continue the policy that has been praised from time to time as being in the best interests of the indigenous people.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) criticized the provisions in the bill relating to representation on the Legislative Council. It is interesting to read what residents of the Territory, including natives themselves, think about those provisions and about the bill generally. If one can accept newspaper reports as correct accounts of what was said when the bill was first introduced in the House, one must admit that local reaction to it was most interesting. In the “ New Guinea Times Courier “ of 28th September, 1960, there are reports of com ments made by various people in the Territory. The article in question reads, in part -
Rabaul Chamber of Commerce President, Mr. J. fC. Dowling was also quoted as saying: “ It’s a stunner. “ We didn’t even ask for it “.
Lae Chamber of Commerce President Mr. J. V. Knight said yesterday that the bill was a “ very very wise and sound move “.
Mr. Knight said that so long as the Territory was in receipt of an annual Commonwealth grant, the Government should retain majority control. “ But whatever way you look at it, this bill is a step in the right direction “.
Honorable members of this Parliament who visited the Territory may have met a couple of the native people whose comments were reported in the “ South Pacific Post “ of 27th September, 1960. The report reads -
Reuben Taureka, (President of the Papua and New Guinea Workers’ Association): “This is a great step forward for the advancement of the people and I am sure most of our people will welcome it as one way of self-expression.
The new council organisation shows a wise balance.
It means the natives have a bigger say in things than at present. This is the first stage towards selfgovernment - a common roll could be the next step.” lt will be noticed that he did not say, “ A common roll should be a step to be taken at this time “. This man is an influential native in the community, and he merely says that a common roll could be the next step. I think a statement in almost the same words was made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) himself. The report continues: - “ The association did advocate a common roll but have realised the difficulties at this stage. Thenew set-up is all we hoped for.”
Maori Kiki, president Kerema Welfare Association said: - “ A big portion - perhaps two-thirds - of the population is outside local government council administration.
For these people it is too early to vote as they have no political awareness.
When they vote they will vote for a candidate who is known to them - he may belong to their tribe or come from their area.
They will not consider the candidate’s politics oi policy.
Therefore, I think political education is most necessary before such moves as this in the Legislative Council.
However, if a move is made to bring all the people under local government councils they will be able to exercise this new right.”
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) said, if I remember his remarks correctly, that the Govenment should be concentrating on the development of an elite who could eventually take over. My very short time in Papua and New Guinea convinced me that this aim has been achieved, although perhaps not as quickly as some people might have wished. I had not seen the country since the war, and what amazed me most was the development, in that intervening period of sixteen years, of quite a number of indigenous people, particularly in the Gazelle Peninsula and in the Lae and Port Moresby areas.
The honorable member for Wills, as I have said, offered some criticism of the provisions of the bill relating to representation on the Legislative Council. The number of representatives will be increased from 29 to 37. Whereas the Administrator and the official members are now five more in number than the remaining members, they will in the future be fewer by seven. Whereas there are now three appointed native representatives, there will in the future be eleven native members in all, five being appointed and six elected. Surely this represents a great step forward and a commendable constitutional change. Representation by indigenous people will in the future become even more extensive, and, as has already been mentioned, in ten or fifteen years the stage will be reached at which the country can be completely selfgoverning.
– Do you think any native should have a vote now?
– I think it would be quite wrong to suggest that every native-
– I did not say every native. I asked whether you think that any native should have a vote.
– I believe that every native should have some say as to the people who will represent him on the Legislative Council. I believe the legislation provides for this, because the natives can vote on the election of members of their local governing councils. I think it would be wrong to institute a system at the very start under which natives could cast votes without being clear on what they were voting for. But in the local governing councils there are people who have at least learned a little about administration, and who are prob ably as well qualified to express an opinion as are some honorable members of this House.
In his second-reading speech the Minister directed attention to reports issued by the United Nations Trustee Council alter its representative had visited the Territory. The honorable member for Wills made some suggestion that an official name or description should be devised for the Papuan and New Guinea natives. As a matter of fact this was the subject of a recommendation by a United Nations committee that inspected the Territory. The Administration has made a full reference to the matter in its annual report for 1958-59.
I wish to read some remarks that appear in a United Nations publication, entitled, “ Report of the United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territories of Nauru, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, 1959 “. In the chapter on “ Political Advancement “ the following appears: -
Each time the appointment of indigenous members came up, it had been difficult to find really competent representatives because some of the best indigenous people were government employees, and as such were disqualified from membership in the Council. There were not more than a dozen others who had had sufficient experience in speaking before assemblies or who had a sufficient knowledge of affairs to participate actively in the Legislative Council. He did not think there was much use in appointing a mere cipher to the Council. If he was certain of getting really efficient indigenous members, he would have much less hesitation concerning their appointment.
The report goes on to suggest that it would be better to have indigenous members even though there may be some doubt about their capacity to understand, because this would be a sure way of educating them so that they could have a realization of their responsibilities. I am inclined to agree with this proposition. I hope that at no stage will it be decided not to appoint a person because of doubt as to whether he has the full qualifications necessary. As I said before, if certain minimum qualifications were laid down for members of this House, some members of it would not now be holding their seats.
The report added -
The Mission commends this progress towards wider participation by the indigenous people in the political life of the Territory. In view of the general advancement of the people which is taking place, it is confident that further appointments of indigenous persons will be made to advisory councils in the future.
The date on which this resolution was presented 28th July, 1959- shows that the Administration and the Minister are doing everything in their power to meet the wishes of the mission. Therefore, we have not as much to fear from what will happen in the United Nations as some honorable members would have us believe. This tendency to rush us into panic action on New Guinea is wrong and unjustifiable. The resolution that was adopted by the Trusteeship Council on 28th July was quite innocuous. In a preamble, the Trusteeship Council stated that it took note of the reports of the visiting mission and of the observations of the administering authorities thereon. It did more than some honorable members have done in that it examined the reports on New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. The council expressed its appreciation of the work accomplished by the visiting mission on its behalf, and took into account the observations and conclusions of the visiting mission and the observations of the administering authorities on them. The preamble also stated that the Trusteeship Council -
Invites the Administering Authorities concerned to take into account the conclusions of the visiting mission as well as the comments made thereon by the members of the Trusteeship Council;
I say again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it is a matter of deep concern to me that people have jumped on a wagon that was set in motion by the United Nations. They have been frightened by events in Africa and have panicked over the phrase “ the winds of change “ which they have turned into “ the winds of fear “. I think they will act in the worst interests of the indigenous people of New Guinea. Anybody who has studied1 the country and visited it again after a lapse of time could not help but be impressed by the dedicated work of the Administration officers in New Guinea. If time is allowed for them to work and if the Government is allowed to put into effect the policy it laid down in the speech of the Minister for Territories when he spoke in this House some time ago, I believe that the indigenous people and the Europeans in New Guinea will be able to have a multi-racial society in the future which will be the envy of any country that has had its own colonial problems.
We in this House and elsewhere should impress on the strong opponents of the colonial system that the colonial system has stopped cannibal from eating cannibal; it has led to the development of the country, taught the indigenous people to develop their land and, through Australian administration, is teaching the people to get the best use out of their country in their own name. I commend the Government for what it has done. 1 think we have nothing to be afraid of when we stand in the United Nations to answer any charges levelled against us by people who have greater colonial ambitions than ever Great Britain or any other Western country had in their existence.
.- Tile atmosphere of this debate would have been unthinkable even twelve months ago. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) is right in attributing the changed atmosphere to a statement by the Prime Minister, but he has in mind the wrong Prime Minister. The atmosphere in this debate was produced not by” the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Macmillan, in his statement on the winds of change but by the statement of the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Menzies), who came back from abroad with a very strong sense of urgency, and said that if he had to choose between granting selfgovernment to territories like New Guinea too early, or hanging on to them too late, he would prefer to take the risks of granting independence too early rather than take the risks of granting independence too late.
The community we are speaking about is a community of which I find some difficulty in getting a picture. 1 suppose the best pictures we can get of it from the statistical and human classification and educational study points of view are those that are in the official reports. At page 88 of the report for the Territory of Papua for 1958-59 this question of literacy and illiteracy is discussed, and the educational picture of the community we are discussing is given officially in the following terms: -
No accurate figures are available to show the extent of illiteracy among the Papuan people. It is not known how many indigenes during the course of years have had the benefit of some primary school education particularly at village schools conducted by missions, and have acquired an ability to write and to read simple literature in a vernacular language. If the ability to comprehend a letter or a newspaper concerned with local affairs, written in very simple terms and in a familiar language, is accepted as a criterion of literacy, it is probably true to say that in areas under Administration control there are many Papuans who are literate in this sense, and that in all areas the percentage of illiteracy among the indigenous people is decreasing.
But education is a long process. A generator can be built much faster than an engineer can be trained to install it. The honorable member for Perth is right, I think, in talking against an atmosphere of fear. I do not think there is any occasion for an atmosphere of fear and especially a fear generated around the fact that the people or New Guinea cannot have enough technicians, administrators and others to enable them to take over at the stage when they get self-government.
Colonial discussions to-day lake place in the shadow of the Congo, but it is a complete misreading of the history of the Congo to say that the administration broke down a few weeks ago through lack of training. lt broke down through hate, and hate produced fear. It was not because there were not enough doctors and administrators that the Force Publicque went round shooting Europeans. Had the army not given itself to anarchy, the State admittedly would have been unsatisfactory in its lack of administrators and so on, but there would not have been chaos. It broke down through hate, and that hate produced fear in the heart of the Europeans. Therefore, anything that can produce hate-free and fear-free communities is basic to the stability of any country getting selfgovernment. If the attitude of Europeans, consciously or unconsciously, is quite genuinely that the natives are of less account than themselves, then slowly over the years the fears are built up and hate will result. A hate-free and a fearfree independent New Guinea will be produced only by sound relations between the races. The technicians and all those people are a separate question. In this, legislation plays a part, but the major part is played by the social relationships of day-to-day living. The motive of the European for being there and the motive for having no relationship with the native is decisive.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) spoke last week about travel discrimination on what I presume were the Qantas Airlines. If that be true, I hope that in future TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. in taking over that service will have a different attitude. But let us face the fact that this legislation is the beginning of the transference of power. In the “ West Australian “ of Tuesday, 4th October, the comments of a Catholic priest are reported in this way -
Australia is taking a risk in Papua-New Guinea by letting native political advancement outstrip educational and economic advancement, a church leader said to-day.
He described Australian plans for reforming the Papua-New Guinea Legislative Council as a bold stroke which would be dangerous if not properly handled.
The statement came from the Rev. Father James Dwyer of Rabaul who is also an appointed member of the Legislative Council.
He was discussing this matter as a step towards transference of power. That is the way I wish to discuss it. I think that the outlook of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) is more accurate than that of the honorable member for Perth. We do not know fully what we are doing in this legislation. Honorable members should have a look at the Government of India Act, 1935, which was debated in the House of Commons only twelve years before India received total independence. From the atmosphere of the debate one would,, have believed that the British Raj in India was to continue for another 100 years. At school we learned the various stages in the granting of independence to India - the Morley-Minto reforms and the others and finally the Government of India Act of 1935. Mr. Churchill, in one of his more purple passages of prose, warned the House to beware lest it let free in India the dull roar and scream of carnage and confusion. Only twelve years after that, with the dull roar and scream of carnage and confusion for a time - largely due I think to the administration of Mountbatten on certain questions, such as the States that might have been acceded to Pakistan but were brought into India - India obtained its independence. The Government of India Act of 1935 became the constitution of Pakistan under which first the Governor-General, and now the President, have exercised what were the viceroy’s powers.
Those things show us that the House of Commons in 1935 did not know what it was doing. I do not make that statement in any spirit of criticism; I am speaking; in terms of human limitations and. limitations of perception in these changing race relationships. The House of Commons did not know that it was giving to a State that did not exist at that time - Pakistan - its constitution for fifteen years, and it did not know that the empire that it thought would last for another century in India would be gone within twelve years. Therefore, it is right for us to consider anything which is aimed at increasing native representation. Giving the natives power over their own affairs is, in the context of the world to-day, a step in the transference of power.
If the Government really feels that the people of New Guinea are unprepared for the kind of direct election which has been commented upon by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and which is the subject of a proposed Labour amendment, there are at least some other aspects at which we can look at present. For instance, the reports show the importance of the native teachers in the Territory. The salaries of teachers, in relation to other people in the Australian community, is frequently a cause of complaint by teachers, but the salaries of native teachers in relation to the pay of other natives in New Guinea undoubtedly makes the native teacher a mem.ber of a kind of native aristocracy.
Could there not be in this Legislative Council a native member nominated or elected by teachers? Could there not be in this Legislative Council a member elected by the medical students who have been trained in Fiji or at the central medical college at Port Moresby in. Papua? Could there not be in this Legislative Council a member elected by the New Guinea and Papuan, armed forces which, we have been told, are a literate, body of men? Could there not be in this Legislative Council a member elected by the councillors of the councils? We have been told that there are over 900 of them. Could there not be in this Legislative Council’ a member elected by the natives whose good offices are used, in administration to explain administration policies to the people of the villages? Could there cot be in this Legislative Council a member elected by literate natives who have been trained by the missions? Could there not be in this Legislative Council some men who are respected and accepted as leaders?
Father Dwyer’s warning is an important one. If you are taking steps in political advancement, the political structure of a country is its skeleton but the flesh is its economic life, the education of its community and all the administration in the day-to-day living which goes on beneath the political apex which is the Legislative Council.
Although this Government indicates by this legislation that it is thinking towards faster change in New Guinea than did any previous government, it is thinking about New Guinea in an entirely different age, when it needs to envisage the transference of power much faster than did any previous government. It should regard its educational programme and some of the other advances which are taking place as being too slow. If the place is- not ready for a university, the Government should take the step of attaching a medical college to the hospital in Port Moresby. Cannot the Government establish a university college? Cannot the Government expand the training of mechanics and technicians by providing more technical schools? Cannot the Government envisage the training of natives as airline pilots and navigators in coastal shipping, giving that kind of training for service to the community that is necessary before independence and will be necessary with independence?
– What about the tragedy of the Congo?
– I do not think that the tragedy of the Congo was due entirely to a lack of technicians. It was due to a relationship of hate. From everything that has been said I feel that there is no relationship of hate between Europeans and natives in New Guinea. If you can maintain an atmosphere that is free of hate, then the basic achievement has been attained for the establishment of a viable community and a community that will continue in good relations with this country.
Whether or not we dispute the structure of this Legislative Council, it is clear from every statement that I have heard by educated natives and those who may be regarded as qualified to give thought to this problem, that the natives regard this Government as having a constructive attitude of goodwill toward them. So long as they have that trust, some technical mistake about the Legislative Council or who should be represented in it is of minor importance.
We can err on the side of underestimating the ability of an illiterate and simple people to choose their representatives. As between the risk of regarding them as being more advanced than they are and the risk of continuing a tutelage which, however great our goodwill may be, can tend to be stifling, I prefer to take the first risk. My thinking in this regard is not, for the benefit of the honorable member for Perth, related to Mr. Macmillan and the winds of change, but to the Australian Prime Minister and his preference for granting selfgovernment too early rather than too late.
.- I did not realize until a short time ago that 1 would have an opportunity to participate in this debate. It is a good thing that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), having realized that I would be contributing to the debate, has been so compromising. That is the kind of attitude that we hope to see in New Guinea. One cannot expect Opposition members who participate in a debate on matters of this kind to be always in complete agreement with the Government. Unless the spirit which the Minister has shown to-day prevails in the administration of Papua and New Guinea which is attempting to attain democratic status, we shall not make very much progress.
From a discussion with some of my colleagues a short time ago I have learned that since federation there have been some governments which, although they have agreed to go to the people at a prescribed time, or to allow the Opposition to bring on a debate on the motion to adjourn, have not abided by their undertakings. While we continue to act in accordance with that type of democratic principle in this Parliament, we shall continue to contribute to the well-being of the people whom we represent, whether they be on the Australian mainland or in the Territory of Papua and
New Guinea. It is important to ensure that that should be the spirit in the Territory.
As I understand it, this legislation is of considerable value. The Opposition substantially concurs with the salient points, although we do not agree with all of the proposals contained in the bill. One of the salient points of the legislation is the proposal that there shall be a legislative council of 37 members and that there shall be fifteen official members, as against the seventeen official members in the present Legislative Council of 29 members. Another proposal is that there shall be elections, which shall be conducted as early as. possible next year - perhaps in February or March. The bill also provides for eleven native members. Those who are to be elected will be elected by electoral colleges, which will elect six native members from local government council areas. The ultimate aim is a common electoral roll, and that is very good. We of the Opposition feel that more might have been done in that direction, although we do not necessarily say that at this stage there should be a common electoral roll for all the people in Papua and New Guinea.
The bill also aims at reducing the number of nominated non-native members from six to five and at increasing the number of elected non-native members from three to six. It seeks to replace the Executive Council with the Administrator’s Council, comprising both official and non-official members. The Administrator’s Council will comprise the Administrator, three official members of the Legislative Council and three other Council members, none of whom shall be an official member and at least two of whom shall be elected members. The Opposition proposes to move an amendment to the effect that every adult resident shall be entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electorate in which he resides.
It is apparent that these proposals represent substantial progress in the thinking of the Minister and those who sit behind him. The Opposition is pleased to see this progress, although we feel that in some directions it could have been much more general in character. However, there is a considerable area of agreement. We feel that the Government is now belatedly developing a more positive attitude to this question of self-government. The fact is that, apart from statements by a few comparative radicals, there has not been, during this Government’s term of office, any enthusiastic advocacy of the policy of selfgovernment on the part of those who sit on the Government benches.
I agree with my colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who, a short time ago, attributed this present trend to the statements of the Prime Miniser (Mr. Menzies) on his return from overseas. On his return from abroad on the 20th June, the Prime Minister focused national and international attention on this question. He set the pattern, I believe, for a new line of thinking on the part of Government members on the question of independence for the people of Papua and New Guinea. At long last, he gave voice to the contentions which had been submitted by members of the Opposition for some time. To be perfectly frank, I do not think that all Opposition members have been as enthusiastic as they might have been in putting forward these contentions, but there is no doubt that some members of the Opposition have been very outspoken. It is good to see the Prime Minister at last coming to grips with the question and to see so many of his colleagues coming to acquiesce with his view - which, of course, is not an unusual circumstance.
There is no doubt that when the Prime Minister came back from abroad he had fresh in his mind the discussion of events in Africa. He said -
Whereas at one time many of us might have thought that it was better to go slowly in granting independence so that all the conditions existed for a wise exercise of self-government, I think the prevailing school of thought to-day is that if in doubt you should go sooner, not later. I belong to that school of thought myself now, though I didn’t once. But I have seen enough in recent years to satisfy me that even though some independences may have been premature, where they have been a little premature, they have at least been achieved with good will. And when people have to wait too long for independence, then they achieve it with ill will, and that perhaps is the difference between the British -……….. policy of this century and that of some other countries.
He went on in broader terms to make fairly general references to events overseas.
– The winds of change.
– The winds of change, as the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith has said. It is a good thing that the Prime Minister has been conditioned by these events. I wholeheartedly endorse his expressed attitude. Hitherto, the native people have had only a casual inclination to contemplate independence, self-government and related matters, but I believe that the process is now being greatly accelerated. I agree with the statement by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) that we have to develop something like a crash programme to accommodate the people of Papua and New Guinea, whose natural inclination to contemplate self-government has been supplemented by a number of important factors. On the mainland, it will be found that in almost every city those who have the opportunity to watch television in their homes on a Sunday evening are paying more and more attention to this subject. And so they should. In recent times, the press of our country-
– The press has not done the case for New Guinea any good.
– I do not know whether that is so. I do not contend that anyone who speaks about New Guinea has the viewpoint of the honorable member. However, I think the honorable member would be quite out of step with any progressive view expressed in connexion with Papua and New Guinea. The fact is that the press is devoting a considerable amount of time to this subject. That is what I am saying, and the honorable member should be able to comprehend it. Because of that, there is a snowballing effect from Australia into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. These are current controversial issues, and they are brought to the notice of Australians by radio, television and the press, and, of course, by parliamentarians who have visited the Territory. I know that the visit by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), for example, had the effect of stimulating the consideration of a large number of the problems confronting the people of New Guinea. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and a considerable number of other members of the Opposition have generously demonstrated their interest in these problems by utilizing a great deal of their time in making visits to the Territory. Further, the trade unionists are going there in large numbers. I think that at the present time Mr. Monk of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is there. All this is going to increase the natural inclination of the native people to contemplate such things as self-government and independence. Then there are the visits by United Nations missions, which have very vital and far-reaching effects. They start controversies going all round the world. Their statements echo through all member countries of the United Nations.
In addition, there are the improved educational standards in the Territory itself, which are adding pace to the snowballing effect so far as the consideration of these problems is concerned. Then there are events in the neighbouring territory of Dutch New Guinea. No one can really deny, although some honorable members half-heartedly sought to do so to-day, that all these events are acting as pacemakers with respect to the Territory which Australia administers. So, in general terms, many of us are coming to believe that it is a lot later than we have thought with respect to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
No doubt, in the very near future, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) has said, political agitators will arrive in New Guinea. They will emerge from the native people there. There will be many of them, and their voices will echo through this Parliament whenever they speak out. And they will speak out about injustices and the like. Their voices will be extremely effective, and what they say will be reiterated and re-echoed. Their statements will be eloquently re-echoed at meetings of the United Nations, in New York, and that circumstance will greatly accelerate the consideration of these problems. The voices of the agitators will be demanding. They will be very loud and they will receive a sympathetic hearing among the native people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, who are realizing that it is fashionable to show some interest in and some capability with respect to these new things with which they have come to grips - the issues of the new democracy and the ways of the wider world. Things in the wider world will have some appeal, and an interest in those things will be the mark of the modern man in the Territory.
All this is very good and highly desirable, and that is why the Minister for Territories has allowed this debate to go on just a little longer in the hope that he will get a germ of an idea. I commend him for that. But we have to recognize that although this is very good, Australia’s policy in this sphere will be exposed to very careful scrutiny and very careful examination. I believe that for that reason we have to pull up our socks and get on at a faster pace than we have been inclined to adopt up to date. It is true that we have a very impressive record of achievement. We can look through the various reports - those with which the honorable member for Fremantle has dealt so eloquently, and those which the Minister has so eloquently enunciated. So, Australia has a good record in New Guinea, but it is not good enough. We are under scrutiny - the scrutiny of the indigenous people - and we shall be found wanting. We shall be unable to give effect to those high principles to which the Prime Minister referred on his return from overseas. We shall have left things a little too late unless we smarten up. Let us have a look at some of our achievements. It is a fact that since World War II. we have brought under some sort of administrative control 50,000 square miles of country which previously was governed by the law of the jungle, if by anything at all. That is a most impressive achievement, but it is insufficient. All of this area should be brought under some sort of administrative influence. I fall out with the visiting United Nations mission which expressed the view, I think, that there should be some tendency to develop an 61ite. I think that we have to provide some sort of a democratic basis for all the natives and perhaps at the same time encourage the emergence of an elite with some governmental opportunity and privilege. That fundamental basis “with respect to education, and some comprehension of the pattern of the democratic development to which we subscribe, are tremendously important.
We have extended administrative influence over 50,000 square miles of the Territory since the war, but we must move much faster than we have done so far. Some people say, “ Consolidate what you have gained “. We have to do that, certainly, but the essential need is to give all the natives an opportunity to come into the orbit at the administrative level, as it were. I am sure that the natives will graduate to that level on any basis on which they are given the opportunity. We must extend the influence of the Administration if true democracy is to prevail in the Territory. Otherwise, a privileged section will emerge. We could not always be sure that the intentions of such a section would serve the best interests of everybody in the Territory.
I know that in respect of transport we have done well. We have built modern and impressive wharfs at five of the most important ports in New Guinea. When we look at shipping, we find that we are deficient in many respects. We have done very little about building up an indigenous shipping line, for example. 1 hope that when the time for self-government of the Territory arrives the Australian shipping entrepreneurs will largely move out of the Territory and that there will be a local counterpart to take their place. In this regard, we should be laying the foundations for an organization equivalent to the Australian National Line. It should be already in the embryo stage and it should be developed as quickly as possible.
Similar considerations apply to other kinds of transport. I hope that the Australian airlines will not always dominate the scene in Papua and New Guinea and that we shall lay the foundations for a local airways system that will be operated, preferably, on some communal or cooperative basis. I have seen little evidence of this sort of thing happening so far. We have constructed in the Territory 5,000 miles of roads, but I have not seen any evidence of the modern usage of roads. At present, the roads in Papua and New Guinea are used as a means of protection - as protected thoroughfares along which the people may walk in safety. An indigenous transport system should be developed, preferably by a co-operative system. We have built hospitals in the Territory. Four large base hospitals have been built in the main towns and 101 subsidiary hospitals have been provided elsewhere. But we have marred our record by discrimination. Sub-standard hospitals are provided for the native people and hospitals of much higher standard for the Europeans.
In education, we have a very good record in Papua and New Guinea, but that record is marred by certain deficiencies. In the mission schools and those conducted by the Administration, there are some 400 European teachers and about 5,400 native teachers. In a total of 4,100 schools, 196,000 pupils can be accommodated. But when we realize that there are in the Territory 400,000 children of school age, we appreciate that we have a long way to go. Fewer than 20,000 pupils are being educated in Administration schools. Furthermore, the Minister himself concedes that only 53,000 of the pupils in mission schools, who number more than 170,000 all told, are considered to be receiving tuition of a satisfactory standard. We have no reason to be smug or complacent about this situation, though I confess that Australia is slightly proud of what it is doing. We have a lot still to do in education.
Frankly, I do not think that we have the financial resources that would enable us to accelerate the developmental programme at the rate that we should like. I again make the point which I made only a few days ago when the estimates for the Department of Territories were under consideration: I endorse the view that we should not restrict the development of Papua and New Guinea according to the funds which Australia can provide for the purpose. I think that we should say to the United Nations: “ Our intentions are good. This is the programme that we should like to accomplish in this period with respect to education, afforestation, health and a thousand and one things, but we need your financial assistance if we are to accomplish it “. , Unless we intend to remain in New Guinea and bring profits out of it by the operation of big business, we can find very” little to sustain the argument that Australia should be expending in the Territory the large sums that ought to be expended there. Financial assistance is needed in the Territory on so substantial a scale as to require us to ask the United Nations to help us in this great endeavour.
I recall that, not long ago, 700 student aspirants in New South Wales were unable to gain admission to teachers’ colleges in that State because, for reasons too numerous to mention here at the moment, they were denied financial assistance. I do not know what expenditure would have been involved. We have been trying to attract teachers to New Guinea. If financial circumstances are militating against the recruitment of more teachers in the Territory, we should do as I suggested a moment ago and seek financial assistance from the United Nations. There are a great many people throughout Australia who are capable of making a .substantial .contribution to education in the Territory, and I am sure that they would be willing to help if they were properly approached. I refer in particular to the 700 aspirants to the teaching profession whom I have already mentioned.
– Our limitation is that we do not have any teachers’ colleges in the Territory. We depend on the teachers’ colleges in the States to train our teachers.
– I am sure that the deficiency of teachers’ colleges is not an unsurmountable problem.. If the lack of teachers’ colleges is thought to constitute a bottleneck, 1 suggest to the Minister, with due respect, that that is of infinitesimal importance. The problem is easily surmountable and it is one to which the Government should direct its attention, because the shortage of teachers in Papua and New Guinea is seriously retarding the Territory’s development.
I agree with the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and others who contend that we should endeavour to provide a university in the Territory. Of course we should. About 700 school students go out of the Territory each year for secondary education. I think that they could be encouraged to stay there. The Melbourne University had seventeen students when it started in 1855, Adelaide University had 60 students when it started in 1S76, the University of New England had nineteen students when it started in 1938, and the Canberra University College had 32 students when it started in 1930- There has to be a start somewhere. I think that we should start talking now in this Parliament about a university for the Territory. Although this might sound a bit eccentric at this point of time, it should not be long before a university is an accomplished fact.
In respect of co-operatives, we have done a good thing, but we have not done sufficient. We have established co-operatives with a membership of 72,000 and a turnover of £1,200,000 a year. However, we are not providing sufficient incentive for the natives in respect of the things to which their co-operatives could be applied. I have no doubt that there are lots of fields of commercial endeavour in which private entrepreneurs are waxing fat and in which big monopolies will develop in the Territory, but in which we are not providing any opportunity for the native people to express a viewpoint. I read recently that the Monier Pipe Company Proprietary Limited had moved into the Territory. That company almost has a monopoly in its field of production now. Some little cement brickmaking concern is making about 1,500 bricks a day and will increase production to 2,000 a day before long, but if it becomes too big there will be a merger or a take-over in New Guinea of the type that we see in Australia. What is there to prevent this sort of thing happening in the Territory?
I suggest that we should carefully scrutinize every field of commercial activity at present in evidence in the Territory and ascertain what would prevent a co-operative from operating in that field. What is to stop the Administration saying, “ Here is a field of endeavour in which there is an apparent tendency to exploit the native people. Why should they not share in the benefits and profits of this sort of activity? “ Why should we not organize a body of administrative people, assisted by specialists in the particular field of endeavour, to form co-operatives in various areas? Thus, right at the comparative infancy of the development of the Territory we would establish a commercial activity which would not be the prerogative and domain of a monopoly of overseas investors.
I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), m several speeches, has mentioned the need for a great inflow of investment capital in the Territory. I think that we need very little inflow of private investment in the Territory. The great emphasis should be on the development of the communal inclinations of the indigenous people. We have a great opportunity to do this. A short time ago, the Prime Minister referred to this matter when speaking in Brighton Town Hall. He said -
I feel that that is not a trend that we should support. I invite consideration by the Minister of the prospects of widening the field of co-operative activity to take advantage of the tremendous industrial potential which is already starting to show itself.
Of course, there is the question of local government councils. I shall have to leave the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) to talk about this interesting subject. I should have liked to deal with it but time is running out. In respect of local government councils we have done well. There are 250,000 people living in local government council areas but when we consider that there are 2,000,000 indigenous people in New Guinea, we recognize that we have a long way to go.
With respect to the provisions of the bill, I must say that I feel that it is unfortunate that those people who have already had some opportunity to participate in local government elections are not being given the opportunity to participate in Legislative Council elections. I cannot see why the distinction should be drawn there. If people can exercise the democratic process in respect of local government elections it is reasonable to assume that they can do it as adequately tn respect of a legislative council.
Some £179,000,000 has been spent on New Guinea since the war. Approximately £15,000,000 was spent last year and about £22,000,000 will be spent this year. We have done fairly well, but I feel that we should look at any field of activity critically and in a constructive way in the hope that whatever we expend in money, manpower, or human endeavour, will bring great credit to our country. I sincerely believe that, apart from organizing the physical resources of the country, the financial requirements are so tremendous that we will need the assistance of the United Nations. Commending that suggestion to the Minister for Territories, I forgo any further time that is available to me in order that the honorable member for Bonython may have an opportunity to speak.
– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) suggested1 that, in the development of New Guinea, we might well call upon the United Nations for assistance. The one point that I should like to make in this connexion concerns the extent to which we already contribute to various forms of international aid for the development of backward countries. In 1960-61, we estimate that we will be underpinning the economy of Papua and New Guinea to the extent of £14,500,000. United Nations assistance in developing New Guinea could be obtained, in effect, by reducing our contribution to the United Nations for use in other directions. Our estimated expenditure on international development and relief for 1960-61 is £11,328,000. Rather than appeal to the United Nations for assistance in developing New Guinea, it would be much more logical for us to reduce the amount that we vote for the United Nations and add the amount of the deduction to the amount that we are spending in New Guinea.
The obligation that we have undertaken to develop New Guinea should always be borne in mind when we are considering other measures for international development and relief. Australia’s primary obligation in this sphere is to assist the development of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea. The honorable member for Hughes mentioned the desirability of building up native co-operatives. It is difficult hurriedly to put a finger on figures, but it is my impression that we have done a great deal to encourage co-operatives. The honorable member for Hughes would like us to have had more done to encourage co-operatives. They are a very worthy development but, under the conditions existing in New Guinea, it is surely a mistake to want to freeze out private enterprise. If Papua and New Guinea are to be developed at a useful rate it is essential that the knowhow, the talents and the organizing ability of Europeans should be brought in and encouraged to participate in that development. The overall situation in New Guinea, with its fairly uncertain future, a not highly encouraging to any potential investor from another country. So the statement that private enterprise should be discouraged there seems to reflect a highly retrograde point of view.
– Is it not a matter of balance?
– I agree. It is always a matter of balance. But in this case I should say it is not only a matter of balance but a matter of more of both, because it is very difficult to see that we will have enough of either to develop the Territory at the pace that we would like. Certainly we should not discourage any fruitful sources of development.
A number of speakers on the Opposition side, particularly the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), continually harp on the wage rates paid to many natives in New Guinea, and compare them with Australian wages. To carry that kind of analogy to the extreme is, in fact, to do a great injustice to these indigenous peoples, because if their wages were raised well above the productivity level of their labour the inevitable result would be that their employment would become highly disadvantageous to both native and European enterprise. The result of putting wages at a higher level than is justified by productivity will be disappointment. It will certainly mean a lack of employment opportunities for these people.
During the debate on the Estimates, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), I think, made this point. It is important that the wages of these folk be related to their productivity so that over a period of time they can gain fruitful employment and, as the standard of living and their productivity both rise, their wages can be raised accordingly also. But to extract, quite out of context, the native wages paid in New Guinea and compare them with wage rates paid in Australia is, of course, to create a complete travesty of the position and to do something which, in the long run, would be cruel to the natives, since to increase their wages in this unrealistic way would lead to a severe restriction of their employment opportunities.
Now, Sir, I suggest that although we are concerned in this measure with the Legislative Council of the Territory and with democratic processes there, it is probably more important in the long run to build up a good, effective native public service in Papua and New Guinea than it is to be so keen about establishing representative assemblies. That is the case because basic to good government is a good organized public service. This has been clearly demonstrated by the examples of some countries which have become independent in comparatively recent years. There was in existence in India and other countries run formerly by the British a satisfactory public service as the nucleus of a native administrative organization. This is basic to the running of a country’s affairs. To my mind, it is much more important that we hand over, on the day of independence, an effective, well-trained public service than that we develop representative assemblies, because representative assemblies, in practice, unless they include a very high proportion of people experienced in running affairs, far from leading to progress lead to misery and retrogression.
This brings me to another point, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). He asked why, if the people could vote for representative’s of local government councils, they should not also vote for candidates for the Legislative Council. It seems to me that one of the things that we have to safeguard those unfortunate people against ii the rise of demagogues. Once the people that they are asked to vote for are people who are beyond their ordinary reach or their ordinary understanding, then those elected are not likely to be the best types, but the worst types. In my opinion, if the members of the Legislative Council are elected, not directly, but indirectly by those who have themselves been elected, the final result is likely to be very much better.
I hope that the Government will over the years concentrate on building up a good public service in Papua and New Guinea, because if we have a very good cadre in the public service there when the times comes to grant independence, we shall be handing over the management of affairs to people under whose control the Territory will have a good prospect of going ahead further, not retrogressing. The United Nations and other bodies would do far more practical service to the less-developed countries if they concentrated more on this aspect of giving training to the indigenous people of such countries and less on the counting of noses and the making of demagogic speeches in the General Assembly.
On that note I should like to conclude. I trust that henceforth, our effort will be concentrated more and more on developing a high-class public service in Papua and New Guinea, because by this means we can develop from both the bottom and the top. Also, among the minority whom we will be able to educate to a high point we may find people who can be trained to take their part in forming a first-class administration against the day when independence dawns.
.- My experience in regard to the subject of New Guinea dates back to 1922. I recall my connexion with what is now the trust territory of New Guinea as one with major aspects. Just before 1922, Australia had been granted, by the League of Nations, a mandate over the former German territories in the New Guinea archipelago. One of the services that I was able to render to the Territory in those days, was to assist in supplementing the provision of medical services there. I feel that I was substantially responsible for the provision to- the Territory of £10,000 worth of surgical instruments and medical supplies..
I again came into contact with Territory affairs when I was a member “of the delegation representing Australia at the United Nations which had the responsibility of justifying to the Trusteeship Council Australia’s stewardship in New Guinea. As the Minister will recall, he and I shared some of the responsibility of putting to the Trusteeship Council Australia’s justification for the part it was taking in helping, to develop the trust territory and promote the well-being of the natives in accordance with our moral responsibilities there.
The Trusteeship Council at times has been rather critical of Australia’s record in the administration of the native areas in the Territory. I should like to supplement, and support, the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his speech that it would be wise of us to add to the delegation: which will go before the Trusteeship Council on behalf of Australia certain native members from New Guinea, who could express- their views to the council and openly indicate there the support we are receiving from the native population. They could also substantiate the claims we make regarding our desire to advance the welfare of. the native peoples and promote their interests as far as we can.
– And very good ambassadors they would be.
– I feel that they would be. I must not fail to express my deep sense of gratitude to these people for the part they took in assisting, and in many cases befriending, our servicemen and, others during the war. I am- grateful to them for the loyalties that they evidenced in their attitude towards Australia and everything concerned with it. The natives, of Papua and New Guinea were indeed very considerate, in- the way in which they assisted OU; wounded and helped to- get, them out of danger areas: In addition, they guided many of our servicemen to places of safety* and. indicated to others the locations best fitted for whatever operation had to be undertaken.. I say it is our undoubted obligation and duty to ensure that these people are afforded all the. help we can give them..
There are people who have a right to be mentioned when any review of the affairs of these Territories is under consideration. Here, I refer to Sir Hubert Murray, who was the original Administrator of Papua in earlier times, and also Mr. Leonard. Murray, who gave excellent service in these Territories. Those men built up among the native people a confidence, which I feel was responsible for their willingness to help us so greatly during the critical days of the war.. I pay my tribute to those men who, in their administration, did much to help the native population of New Guinea and thereby Australia.
I hope that we in this country will receive into our schools some of the most promising of the young men and women of Papua and New Guinea so that they may undertake the studies necessary to qualify them to teach, to- perform- duties in hospitals, do administrative work or to be technical officers. So many of those people are required in the service of the Territory.
We can give them the know-how to take part in public service and community effort in their own country. If we are prepared to open our doors of learning to people from parts of Asia, we have a double duty to do so for the people of this Territory and to afford them opportunities for securing the knowledge necessary to qualify them for the responsibilities that lie ahead of them. In that way we will be able to feel assured that when the time comes to give the people of the Territory a wider measure of self-government, there will be among them persons able to attain the best results in the new life.
I am very glad to know that the cooperatives have been so successful in New Guinea. I feel that much of the success for that is due to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the former Minister for External Territories, in helping to develop this form of assistance to the natives and making it possible for them to enjoy a greater share of what they produced. He was responsible for ensuring that the middle-man did not run away with all the advantage and hard-earned reward resulting from the efforts of these people.
One has to go to New Guinea in order to get some idea of the colossal nature of the work that has to be performed there and the problems presented by the inaccessibility of many of the areas where people are located and the consequent difficulty of reaching them with our civilization. The position is so extremely difficult that one feels that something possibly far beyond our own resources is required to develop the Territory. I consider that as New Guinea is a trust territory the nations of the world have a responsibility to provide money which is essential to development and for the purpose of furthering the prospect of a new life, better opportunities, greater facilities for health and well-being, better housing, better schooling and, in general, a much better way of life than has so far been possible for these people.
I do not think Australia need fear any reproach for what it has done in these areas. In view of the opportunities we have had, the resources we possessed and the facilities that were at hand I believe Australia has made an earnest effort pro gressively to uplift the people of these Territories. I pay a compliment to the Christian, missions for the wonderful part they have played in helping to educate the people of Papua and New Guinea and in providing them with services which possibly should have been provided by some administrative authority. The missions have been prepared to show the natives consideration that has brought about a great respect for and an added confidence in the presence of the white man and what he purposes for their future. The natives are not at all fearful of our presence and I feel sure they are willing to allow us to take a very real part in their affairs until the time comes when they have attained selfreliance and can fulfil their destiny as a nation in their own right. In that respect I believe we are doing what is expected of us as the custodians of these people, and are seeing that nothing is allowed to stand in the way of obtaining the best possible results for them.
I hope that in any future enlarging of the Legislative Council, the number of native representatives will be increased. I earnestly suggest that nothing in the way of a dual roll be introduced. The names of all those in the Territory entitled to vote should be included in the one roll. During the debate, the suggestion was made that many people of native origin have no name and therefore could not be placed on a roll with Europeans. But if this is a valid argument, these people could not be placed on a separate native roll, either. This sort of argument cannot support an objection to a joint roll. Ti these native people are to accept their responsibility in the Legislative Council, they should be given full electoral rights. No suggestion of inferiority should be made and their full claims should be acknowledged. They have every right to be included on the one roll with Europeans. One cause of the present disturbances in South Africa is the effort being made there to have the native people placed on a separate roll. To suggest that a separate roll for native people should be compiled in Papua and New Guinea is a retrograde step. We would earn the respect and goodwill of these people if we were to show them that they have equal rights in the government of their country and that we consider them capable of accepting their share of responsibility. I feel–
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
.- I refer to clause 8, which reads in part -
Section thirty-six of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (1.) to (4.) (inclusive) and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: - “ (1.) The Legislative Council shall consist of thirty-seven members, namely: -
twelve persons elected by electors of the Territory; and
ten . . . appointed members, ap pointed . . . on the nomination of the Administrator. “ (2.) The Administrator shall so exercise his powers of nomination under paragraph (d) of the last preceding sub-section as to ensure that the appointed members include not less than five members resident in the Territory of New Guinea and not less than five native members. and move -
After proposed sub-section (2.) insert the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (2a.) Every adult residentin the Territory is entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electorate in which he resides.’ “
As you can see, Mr. Chairman, if this amendment is accepted the new Legislative Council will have as its twelve elected members persons elected directly by every adult who resides in the Territory and chooses to apply for enrolment. The proposed interim arrangements provide that of the twelve members six are to be elected by electors of the Territory, or, to put it bluntly, by the migrants, the Australians in the Territory, and the other six are to be elected indirectly by certain natives. The Minister has stated that the natives who will be permitted to choose their representatives indirectly will be those who reside in local native government areas and also advanced groups of natives who are attached to those areas. Then the members of those advanced groups who are attached to local government areas, and the residents in those areas, will between them choose delegates to an electoral college, and that electoral college will choose the natives who are to be the six elected members of the Legislative Council.
Our amendment proposes that there should be no distinction at all from now on between adult residents of the Territory, on the basis of sex, race, education, property, occupation or any other qualification or discrimination. We believe that this amendment is in keeping with the British practice which has prevailed for many years past, throughout every country in the West Indies and in Honduras and Guiana - all the British colonies in the Caribbean area - and throughout every British colony and dependency along the whole of the west coast of Africa.
– And of course there is no difference between the development of those countries and that of Papua and New Guinea!
– There should not be. The British have ruled in the African territories I have mentioned for no longer than Australia has ruled in Papua, and for no longer than Europeans have ruled New Guinea. There are great numbers of persons in New Guinea who, despite the deficiencies of the education system there, understand and can exercise the franchise.
– How many?
– Well, let me tell you. There are seventeen natives employed by the Administration in the third division of the Public Service. There are 372 employed in the auxiliary division. There are 1,004 laboratory assistants and the like. There are 1,928 trade assistants. There are 662 typing and clerical assistants. All these are Administration servants in career occupations, according to answers which the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has given honorable members.
– Their opportunity is available through appointment. You will accept that, will you not?
– Quite, but what I am protesting about is that none of these persons is able to elect directly any representative of himself. He might choose a European or he might choose an indigene to represent him if he were given the chance - but he is not given the chance. These persons whom I have listed are disqualified from participating in direct elections for the Legislative Council of their country, on the basis that they are natives of that country. I have listed these specific persons only, but there are great numbers of others - 2,779 was the figure given me a week ago - who belong to the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary, and who can read and write our characters. They are taught to do so, and all of us who have visited the Territory have seen them doing so. There are, in addition, large numbers of school teachers, of clergy, including at least one bishop, of bookkeepers in producers’ and consumers’ co-operatives, and of local government council clerks, who have no right to participate even indirectly in elections for the Legislative Council. They can participate, even indirectly, only if they reside in a native local government area and have paid their taxes or been exempted from the payment of them, or if they belong to advanced groups which are attached to native local government areas for the purpose of these indirect elections.
There is one very clear instance of an advanced indigenous person, Dr. Reuben Taureka, who has just been appointed by the Minister - and I praise him for making the appointment - as one of the official members of the present Legislative Council. It is clear that he is a person well able to exercise the franchise. He is one of the all too few who have a European-style education. Yet he would not be able to take part in the direct election of any members of the Legislative Council, and unless he resides in a local government area - and I do not know whether he does - he would not be able to take part, as of right, even in the indirect election of persons to the Legislative Council.
We believe that Australia is not seizing its opportunity, and not carrying out its obligations, if it does not give every adult who resides in Papua and New Guinea the chance to apply for enrolment and thus assert his or her right to take a part in electing this minority - because it numbers only twelve altogether - of elected members of the Legislative Council. The British have taken this step; the French have done so. The Americans, of course, did so in the
Philippines and their Caribbean islands. In all such cases the experience gained has been most valuable, and orderly government and transfer of authority have followed in due course. We believe that we should do no less in Papua and New Guinea than has been done in all these other places.
– The Belgians did it in the Congo!
– No, they did not- or at any rate they did it too late, as we know. We are all too familiar with the experience of the Congo, but what about Nigeria and all the other countries that were formerly British colonies and dependencies? Why does not Australia follow the British pattern?
– What about Washington, D.C.?
– All adults are treated alike in the Australian Capital Territory and the District of Columbia; only natives are not permitted to elect representatives to the Legislative Council of their own Territory. There are thousands of people who we know are able and anxious to exercise the franchise. There are more people among the indigenes able to exercise the franchise than there are among the migrants - the Australians - in Papua and New Guinea. We are not letting the indigenes participate in that franchise, whatever their qualifications. We believe it is an anomaly, and this amendment is submitted in order to cure it.
– I want to state briefly the reasons why the Government cannot accept the amendment that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The effect of the amendment would be to make it possible for certain of the native population, described as the advanced people, to apply for and obtain enrolment on what I will describe as the normal roll of electors in the Territory, and on gaining that enrolment to take part in the general elections. On the other hand, the Government’s proposal is that, for the time being, there will be one election for six members conducted on the normal roll of the Territory in the usual manner, and another election conducted by an electoral college method to choose six native members for the Legislative Council.
Why has the Government preferred the second of these methods? The first point I want to make is that the Government has committed itself - and this legislation expresses that view - to the ultimate forming of a common roll - one single roll in the Territory-on which all the adult persons capable of exercising the franchise will be enrolled, and from which they will vote in one single set of elections. That is implicit in the bill. It is made quite clear, and that has also been declared as the policy of the Government. For the time being, during a transitional period, we are providing in the case of the election of the native members, for indirect elections through an electoral college.
Why are we doing that? The first reason is that it represents the choice of the native people themselves. When I was in the Territory in July and carried out an exhaustive series of discussions and inquiries, I had the opportunity to meet, either in large groups or in small groups, I think all the significant spokesmen of the native people, both those who were able to speak English clearly and those who could talk only in their own language through an interpreter. In and around Rabaul, I met about 200 of those people. In Lae, I met probably 100 to 150. At Port Moresby, in a number of groups, I met another 100. I sat down for long periods and talked with them.
The first endeavour was for me to put to them a question about what sort of roll they preferred. In some cases, it was necessary to explain with careful detail what a common roll meant. Some of them, of course, knew its meaning already. Without exception they all said, “ Yes, ultimately we should have a common roll and we would like to have a common roll “. I might add in passing that all Europeans with whom I conversed had the same view. But then the native spokesmen said that, for the time being, they would prefer to have a separate system of election; and we discussed the way in which separate elections might be conducted. Again, without exception, of their own volition and without any prompting on my part, there was a unanimous wish for some method which would be based on native local govern ment councils, and which would use the indirect method of an electoral college.
Now, I can only interpret as best I can, and as fairly as I can, why the spokesmen for the native people preferred that method. I think - and this would be as true of the very advanced ones as of the more backward people - that there was a real doubt about their capacity to take part in the rather novel operation of a general election. On that point, I want to emphasize this, as it is something of very real importance to the future of the Territory and is indeed a very hopeful sign of political advancement there: While we do have, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, some articulate and advanced native leaders who are fully capable of conversing in English and would be quite capable of putting their names on a roll and exercising the vote in the usual manner, they look upon the native people as a whole. They do not look upon themselves as an exclusive group who can separate themselves from their people. When speaking to me, they were thinking of the whole of the native people. They were conscious of the fact that some of their compatriots were backward and that some were illiterate, but they wanted to think of them as a whole. I am sure the wish of the advanced native spokesmen would be that, simply because they- were educated, they should not be separated from the rest of their people.
As I interpreted their views, they would not wish themselves to have the privilege of going on to a roll before the time when the generality of their people could go with them. They did not want a division between what might be called the educated native and the ordinary native. I think it is a very good political sign, and something that augurs well for the future of the Territory, that that should be their outlook, and that by being educated they did not regard themselves as divorced from the rest of their people.
When they came to the question of the capacity of most of the people to take part in an election, they had in mv.d the contrast between the simple, immediate and visible way of conducting an election for a village council, and the more involved method of voting for a legislative council. What happens in the village is this: A patrol officer goes out and summons all the people together. He explains to them that there is going to be an election for the village to choose one councillor to go to the Ki vung. They understand that. They are all assembled there and in front of them the patrol officer asks the candidates to come forward. They stand out and the candidates can be seen by the villagers in front of them. Because the candidates come from the village, all the people know them and have known them since childhood. After the candidates have been introduced, the patrol officer sits down, and although possibly there is no one in the village who can read or write, there is a village roll kept by the village clerk or luluai. The patrol officer calls the villagers up and they whisper to him in private which candidate they prefer. He ticks the names off, and in a matter of half an hour or an hour, according to the size of the village, he is able to tell them, “ This is the man you want “. The successful candidate stands forward and they clap him. There is the result of the election, visibly and plainly in front of them.
Contrast that method with what happens in the Legislative Council election when people of that level of civilization are told about somebody whose name they have never heard before and who is a candidate from a place they have never visited. They are told that at some future date, without ever having seen this man and knowing nothing about him, they are to come together and by using a symbol or something vote for him or some one else. After having cast their votes, they probably have to wait for some days until somebody else goes back to them and says that this is the man or that is the man who was elected. That is something which is rather puzzling to these people.
For that reason, they prefer the method by which each of the village councils chooses somebody to go to a big gathering or conference. At that conference, the candidates for election would be present and they would sit down and have a discussion. The people at the conference would talk about the candidates and weigh their merits and then, knowing who the candidates were, they would vote on the spot and decide there and then which one should be the member. At the present stage of develop ment of most of these people, although ordinary systems of voting with which we are familiar would be well within the capacity of the advanced and educated natives, the electoral college method is something that the native people find better suited to their needs and circumstances.
The second view which these leaders and spokesmen of the native people expressed to me quite clearly was that they preferred the method of indirect election through the electoral college because they thought it would produce better members. I asked, “ Why do you prefer that method? “ They replied, “ We think that we will get the best members that way. We will get members whom we know; members who have had some experience by working in village councils or in other work with which we are associated.” 1 stress this point: In any system of election, whether it is ours or that of any other country, the matter of paramount importance is that the people - the electors - ultimately should have confidence in those whom they elect. It is not the perfection of the system; it is not the fact that the system is something that is acceptable to us on the ground of theory. The really important thing is that the people in the electorate should have confidence in the result of an election and should feel that the member who is returned is some one who knows them, some one whom they know and some one who can speak on their behalf. No matter how perfect the system may seem to us, the real test is whether the people have confidence in the member whom the system produces.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned one point which I think needs to be cleared up. If I may say in passing, he exaggerated slightly, in a way that was perhaps rather flattering to the Administration, the degree of educational advancement that exists in the Territory. Let us assume that his description is reasonably exact.
– The employees whom 1 listed would be able to read and write, would they not?
– Some of them would be, but you coloured the picture rather favorably to, say, the police. Not all of them can read and write. Some would be fairly new recruits. However, leaving that aside, let us assume that all the people whom the Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned are articulate people and so familiar with our ways as to be capable of exercising a vote.
The suggestion he seemed to advance - I am not sure whether I understood it correctly - is that under the system proposed by the bill they would be disfranchised and would not have the opportunity to vote. That is not so. The bill provides simply that by ordinance of the Territory a system of indirect election may be introduced. What I said in my speech, and what I shall elaborate as quickly as I can now, is that under the ordinances of the Territory it will be provided by regulation that the Administrator may designate the councils or the groups of people who can send delegates to the electoral conference. In doing so, he can select a group. If he chose to do so, and if it were appropriate to do so, he could say that all the Keremas living and working in Port Moresby would be entitled to send a delegate to the electoral conference. If it were found appropriate, he could designate some other group and say that all the Papuans living in Rabaul, who were not members of a village council, could send such-and-such a number of delegates to the electoral conference of that district. So, by and large, most of these people if not actually in local government councils will in fact be comprehended within groups which will be entitled to send the designated number of delegates to the electoral conference, and they will be able to participate in the system of indirect election.
The point I really want to make is that this is a system which the native people who have thought about this kind of thing and who are able to speak on behalf of their people have themselves preferred for the time being. It is our hope that the transitional period will end as early as possible and that we shall move towards the common roll. Whether that comes soon or late, it should come at a time that is acceptable to the native people and at a time when the native people themselves have confidence that the method which we use in Australia will be the method suited to their circumstances, and the method which will give them members in whom they all can have confidence.
.- The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is very persuasive but I think he confused the issue. He is attempting to produce an administrative rather than a democratic system. Although his first few sentences were persuasive and sounded reasonable, I have come to the conclusion that the final result - the selection of people inside the various communities, such as Rabaul and Port Moresby, to send delegates to an electoral college - will be more complicated than direct elections. The reason he is in this position is because of the meagre nature of the Papuan representation. There are six representatives for 1,750,000 people, or perhaps the best part of 750,000 adults in Papua and New Guinea. That, of course, produces its own problems. If the system which is used in this Parliament were adopted, each electorate would have over 100,000 voters. That is the result of adopting a half-hearted and a not very democratic attitude towards the Papuans.
The Minister has not replied in any way to our appeal for adult suffrage. As he spoke, I was thinking that he was producing pretty good arguments for the brotherhood of man. The arguments that were put to him by the spokesmen, as he called them, for the people of Papua and New Guinea were the same old arguments that we hear every time any one makes an appeal for electoral reform. The same thing was said about the Reform Bill in England in 1832; the same thing was said about legislative councils in Australia; the same thing was said about votes for women; the same thing was said about municipal elections in Victoria, and the same thing was said recently in Victoria about electoral reform - that it would not work; that it was not right and that the spokesmen for the people wanted something else. The odd thing to me is that in this country, which has a pretty fair record in putting up a few signposts of political democracy, the vote for women in one Australian State was preceded only by the grant of female suffrage in New Zealand. In other words, in many respects Australia has led the way in what one might term political or electoral democracy. Yet now, when it is so late in the day and when, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, so many other countries have been able to find a way around this problem, we are still hesitant and timid.
Apart from the actual confusion about the numbers that are involved and about the question of whether a democratic or an administrative principle is to be adopted, we are confusing the need for literacy. Literacy is a comparatively new concept. I do not say that it is a European concept but, generally speaking, I suppose that most communities in the world have had anything approaching universal literacy for only the last 100 years. A large number of countries in the United Nations are a long way short of universal literacy even now. People come to us in our electorates and complain that their parents in Italy have been rejected as applicants for migration to Australia because they are illiterate. Even so, no doubt they take part in the elections for the Italian Parliament. This is a confusion of aims and ends, although in this simple case I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that there are enough people in Papua and New Guinea of Papuan descent to equal the white folk in voting competency.
A couple of months ago I visited the islands in Torres Strait. Nearly all the inhabitants of the seventeen-odd islands in the Torres Strait do not have a vote, but strangely enough, through some administrative quirk or an effort on the part of some people, the inhabitants of the island of St. Paul, which is an island like the rest, were made Australian citizens. They have a vote, and at the last federal election had the good sense to vote for the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton). I do not suppose that all of the inhabitants of the island are illiterate, but they all rolled up to the polling booths and voted. I am sure that we are worrying about difficulties that do not exist.
The Minister, after speaking to the spokesman for the native people, has accepted the principle of representative democracy. That is all that we ask of him. We want representative democracy, but we want direct representative democracy and we want universal suffrage. Surely the first way in which to train people to take an active part in politics is to encourage them to vote. When the Minister was outlining how the patrol officer would take the vote as he visits a village, it occurred to me that it would be a simple matter to carry the practice into the wider field. It would certainly take a longer time, but it has been done in other places. Is it not the same problem, for example, as that which faced India and Indonesia? Both of those countries seem to have been able to make some sort of a go of it, yet here in this highly sophisticated community of Australia the Minister is being cautious. I say to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), who is interjecting, that the people of Indonesia at whom he so often scoffs need his sympathy and understanding. The people of India and Indonesia tackled this problem, but were lamentably short of the kind of know-how that Australia has in the conduct of elections. I suggest that the electoral system of Australia probably measures up to the world’s best. It is said to be free of any suggestion of corruption, it seems to work all right and there is almost universal participation. We ought to be the nation and the Minister ought to be the man to show the world how elections can be conducted in a primitive community. But no, on this simple issue, on what seems to be a clear-cut and straightforward demand by us - the granting of universal suffrage - the Minister is timid, cautious and conservative in the extreme. As was said this afternoon, there is no reason for this caution or timidity, even if we do not elect the best representatives. Many people in many electorates think they do not get the best representatives under the Australian system. The people of Wills, of course, have been singularly fortunate in their choice of a representative, as have been the electors of Hughes, Werriwa and a number of other electorates represented by members of the Labour Party. As I pointed out earlier this afternoon, if you seek the opinion of a man who upholds the prevailing system of election he will always say that that is the best system. For instance, if Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, were asked what sort of system he thought the people of Victoria wanted for municipal elections, he would most certainly say that they wanted the restricted franchise system.
– What utter rubbish! He would not say that at all.
– He would not? That is wonderful news. There is hope of electoral reform in the municipal elections in Victoria yet. The Government is afraid to create a system in which the people of Papua and New Guinea would get direct representation. The proposal advanced by the Opposition is a challenge to Australia. There is no danger in it. It would not create any of the problems that have beset the Congo, Kenya or South Africa. We propose a system for improving the techniques of election in a primitive community. Australia is the one country in the world that ought to be able to do it. Papua and New Guinea is the one country in the world in which we ought to be able to do it because its people are friendly people. The Minister for Territories has shown an exceptional capacity to get along with the natives, and if there is one person who ought to be able to see his way clear to put up another sign post of Australian democracy, it is the honorable gentleman. I do not know whether he has any sense of history, but he has written some history books. I ask him to attempt on this occasion to be a little more adventurous and a little less timid, and to put up another sign post to political democracy.
.- I think we can best summarize the speech of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) by saying that if he were asked what was the best system of elections he would say, “ Any system that gets the honorable member for Wills into Parliament is good enough for me “. The speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was based to a great extent on what is happening in West Africa at the present time. First, he said that there is common roll election in Nigeria. That is not entirely correct. As honorable members know, women in only half of Nigeria get a vote.
– In the northern province it is male suffrage only.
– You did not say that.
– In the other two provinces everybody gets a vote.
– But half the women of Nigeria are in the northern province and are disfranchised. In actual fact, very many people in Nigeria are disfranchised.
Or can we say that the system of universal franchise is best functioning in Ghana where we have just seen the Opposition completely wiped out by ordinance? There the President decreed that the Opposition would no longer be called the Opposition. I do not think it can be said that the system operating in Ghana, under which the Opposition has been eliminated, is the best answer to the problem. Let us be certain that the system of universal franchise as now advocated by the Opposition will produce the best answer.
What is the real object of the amendment suggested by the Opposition? Will it really make for a better democracy? I ask that question because I think that the examples we have of what has happened in Ghana and the Congo, and what is likely to happen in Uganda within the next few weeks, indicate that there can be a tremendous number of flaws in the system and that we shall need to be careful. A« the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has mentioned Nigeria, I think it might be wise to quote to him the results of a discussion I had in Nigeria with members of the Nigerian Parliament only a few weeks ago in which they summed up the six qualifications for democracy and a common roll as it exists in Nigeria. They said that before this system could work effectively and provide a democratic form of Parliament it was necessary first to have a good civil service. They said that the second and probably the most important qualification was an informed public opinion that could not be bent easily by propaganda. They said that until they had in Nigeria an informed public opinion, an informed sort of middle class educated enough to understand what it was doing, democracy could not be made to work. That is one of the important things they have come to realize over the period in which they have gradually advanced to complete independence. Thirdly, they said that there waa need for a common language, that it is important that people should be able to understand one another. They said that until you have a lingua franca you cannot hope to make the system work properly. The fourth requirement was the preservation of the rights of the minorities. I am not certain that the amendment suggested by the Opposition will ensure the preservation of the rights of the minorities in New Guinea. Fifthly, they said that there was need for an independent press. That certainly does not exist in Ghana at the moment. The sixth qualification suggested was that the main object of the whole exercise should be to provide the best candidates in Parliament. We have to be certain that those six essentials are provided for before we take this final step to universal franchise.
I am not so certain that the Opposition is not being led at the moment by the whims and fancies of radical opinions expressed overseas. I quote the following article which appeared in the “ Central African Examiner” in April, 1960, under the heading, “ Seven fallacies about Central Africa “:-
Changes are occurring fast in Central Africa - perhaps too fast - and largely because of opinion in Great Britain and the United States. If government by “ westerners “ soon ends in the Rhodesias, Nyasaland, the Belgian Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Tanganyika, Kenya and Uganda, it will not come from African masses uniting against the White man in their midst, sabotaging his enterprises and attacking his families. . . . Rather will it be because Britain, Belgium and Portugal have responded to pressures in the West. The white man will not be driven out of Central Africa so much as his “ home “ governments will withdraw their support and so cause the exodus.
These decisions will have to be made by people who have mostly never been in Central Africa. Their ideas will inevitably stem from the one side they have heard. “ Europeans “ who live in Central Africa, like most pioneers, are far too busy to write articles or lecture in the United States. Few of them realize that their future - and that of their employees, incidentally - is being determined thousands of miles away by more vociferous people who often know their subjects superficially.
I think that what is happening is that the Opposition also is being subjected to these pressures of overseas opinion and does not realize sufficiently well what is actually going on in New Guinea at the present time and what is the best sort of government for the people of that island.
Finally, I should like to ask the Opposition one question. The amendment is designed to insert in section 36 of the principal act a sub-section in these terms-
Every adult resident in the Territory is entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electoratein which he resides.
Yet the Deputy Leader of Opposition, as I understood his speech, advocated that only the educated people should be entitled to vote.
– Then the honorable member did not understand my speech.
– In that case, the honorable member did not make it quite as clear as most of us hoped he would. Why did he refer to only a few thousand people who are educated if he advocates that every adult resident, whether educated or not, should be entitled to a vote?
– I cited those cases because they related to acknowledged numbers of persons who were able to read and write andwho, therefore, were able to exercise a franchise.
– But the amendment suggests that everybody, whether or not he is able to read or write, should enjoy the franchise.
– That applies here.
– I know. What I asked earlier was: Would that system really provide the best form of democracy in New Guinea? Has it provided democracy in a real form in the nations which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself mentioned? One has only to go to Ghana at the present time to see how the basic principles of democracy have been ignored in the last few weeks. I can demonstrate this merely by reference to the constitution of Ghana, which provides that there shall be an election every five years for the office of president and that if, in the opinion of the president, the safety of the state would be jeopardized, he in his entire discretion can postpone the elections for as long as he likes.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested that anybody in Ghana can stand for the presidency, but anybody who nominates for the presidency of that country a person who has no real chance of getting 50 per cent. of the votes renders himself liable to five years’ imprisonment. Is this the ideal form of democracy that is advocated by the Opposition? I leave those few thoughts with the committee.
.- Mr. Chairman, we have heard from the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) a very interesting round-up of what has happened in Nigeria and Ghana. However, he has not been back from his meanderings in Africa quite long enough to know what motivated the Australian Labour Party in proposing this amendment. I can assure the honorable member that the reasons advanced by him were not the real reasons that motivated the Labour Party. We proposed the amendment because we believe that the practice which we have suggested should be adopted in New Guinea as it has been in this country. The Australian Labour Party is a progressive party and quite often we make here suggestions which are adopted and become law in five or ten years’ time although they are rejected when we make them. Our thinking is ahead of that of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party. Indeed, in many matters, the Labour Party is ahead of public opinion. This may be one of those matters.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in rejecting the amendment, admitted that the principle of a common roll must be adopted in New Guinea. The only difference between him and us occurs in respect of the timing of the introduction of that common roll. The Minister says that it must be adopted in the future. That could be the near future or the distant future. To say the least, it is very uncertain, although the Minister admits that ultimately this principle must be adopted in New Guinea, as do many people in New Guinea.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) this afternoon quoted from two or three documents received from New Guinea in which individuals expressed their opinions of this bill. They admitted that the idea of a common roll was excellent, but said that perhaps the present was not the time to introduce it. The Australian Labour Party does not agree with that view. Wc think that the right time is now. Why wait? In the next two or three years, while we are waiting for the introduction of a common roll, all sorts of things detrimental to New Guinea could happen. We think that if the adoption of a common roll is the right thing, it should be put into effect now. That is why we have proposed this amendment, although we know that the Government, not being sufficiently progressive, will not accept it.
I now turn to paragraph (d) of proposed new sub-section (1.) of section 36 of the principal act. This sub-section sets out the membership of the Legislative Council, and paragraph (d) provides that among the 37 members of the council there shall be - ten persons, to be known as appointed members, appointed bv the Governor-General on the nomination of the Administrator.
The Papua and New Guinea Act 1949, which was introduced by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who was at the time Minister for External Territories in the Labour Government, specified that the non-official members of the Legislative Council should be appointed from certain groupings of people. This bill will eliminate the groupings and leave it wide open to the Administrator to nick anybody without regard to groupings of people in the Territory.
In the original act, the Labour Government provided that there should be on the Legislative Council three non-official members representing the interests of the Christian missions in the Territory. This bill will reduce the number of representatives of the missions from three to two. The Christian missions in New Guinea are numerous and very extensive in their range. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, indicated that the missions will still be represented on the Legislative Council, although the number of their representatives will be reduced from three to two. No specific reference is made in paragraph (d) of proposed new sub-section (1.) of section 36 of the principal act to representatives of the Christian missions, but the Minister has assured me that there will nevertheless be two representatives of the missions. I am just a bit concerned about the reasons why the Minister wants to reduce the number of representatives of missions from three to two. If he wishes to reduce the representation of the missions, why not eliminate mission representatives altogether?
I have a point of view on this matter which may not correspond with that of all my colleagues. I believe the number should not be reduced. The work of the missions in New Guinea dates back long before any official administration was ever thought of.
The missionaries were the original pioneers and settlers, 60 or 70 years ago, of this country to our north. Had it not been for them, we should not be considering this measure now. The missionaries did monumental pioneer work in civilizing the native peoples of New Guinea. The historical pattern of development in the islands of the Pacific in the last century is striking. First, the missionaries went in among the savages at the risk of their lives. The stories of all the missionaries are the same. They made great sacrifices and displayed great heroism and courage in going in among pagan savages and winning their hearts by years of dangerous work. Who followed? The brave trader! The trader always followed the missionary. The trader never preceded the missionary. The brave traders of the world always went in when they were sure that the missionaries had been there long enough to civilize the savages. What did the trader go in for? He went in to exploit the native people, not to give them of his best, as did the missionary. That is the pattern of history in the islands of the Pacific.
To-night, I pay tribute to the missionaries of the last century who pioneered the Territory that we are now discussing. The churches invested money in New Guinea during the 60 years before the war with Japan. What were the dividends from that investment? The dividends were the loyalty of the New Guinea people, a loyalty so great and so consistent, and so nearly unanimous, that it paved the way for victory against the Japanese in World War II. Had it not been for the investment of that money over the years by Christian missions in New Guinea we would not have saved New Guinea in World War II. because the natives would probably have been 100 per cent, collaborators with the foreign invader. That is how important the loyalty of the natives was.
– You do not know the native*.
– You do not know the Datives if you oppose my statement. There are plenty of cynics in Australia and in this Parliament, but we cannot do much for the native) by cynicism. It would probably do the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes good if he went to some of these missions. What will be the qualifications of the people who will represent the missions in the Legislative Council? First, those representatives will be impartial. They will be the voice of the people. They will be the grass roots of the country, having worked among the people for decades. They will be the voice of experience; they will be the voice of progress; they will be the voice of tolerance; they will be the voice of humanity in the council; they will be the voice of justice; and they will be the voice of hope for the New Guinea people. Some others who will purport to represent the people of New Guinea in the council will be representing only their own commercial interests. This will not be so with the missionaries.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) in his speech on Ghana and Nigeria seemed to make out a permanent case against a proper electoral roll for New Guinea. It happens to be the Government’s objective, ultimately, to carry out exactly what we are proposing in this amendment, and the only disagreement between the Opposition and the Government is on timing. The honorable member’s speech suggested that the disagreement between the Opposition and the Government on this matter was permanent. I direct his attention to the fact that the Minister, in his second-reading speech, said -
This means, in the case of the Legislative Council, that the eventual goal will be an equal and universal franchise exercised by voters ob a common roll. It is our policy to work towards that end.
The Opposition’s amendment is designed to achieve that end. Let us come to the essential differences in the propositions of the two forces in this House. The Government has proposed an electoral college consisting of the 970 councillors who are already elected by natives enrolled on local council rolls. As the majority of those natives are illiterate, the councillors are already elected by a predominantly illiterate electorate. The 970 councillors form, in fact, six electoral colleges electing six native members to the Legislative Council. The analogy with Africa drawn by the honorable member for Fawkner when speaking of the dangers of this proposal by the Opposition to use the existing common electoral rolls of the local councils for a popular election of the Legislative Council, was designed to warn that what has taken place in Ghana could take place in New Guinea. That argument is really pointless because, to begin with, the Legislative Council has a majority nominated by His Honour the Administrator. The Europeans are to elect six members and the natives are to elect six members, but the group nominated by the Administrator will have the majority. So the idea that some Kwame Nkrumah will arise among the natives of New Guinea to suspend democracy in this Legislative Council is rather far-fetched. Both the Opposition and the Government are arguing for the education of the natives of New Guinea in political democracy. We say that in a predominantly native Legislative Council there are not any dangers in educating the whole native electorate, already enrolled for the local council elections, to conduct the election of their six members by such universal franchise as those rolls do produce. There cannot be any dangers such as occurred in Ghana because there will not be a completely elected Legislative Council, anyhow. Since having six native members elected to the Legislative Council is a means of educating the natives of New Guinea in political democracy, the best way of educating them, as there are no dangers, is to have a complete election by the people themselves and not an indirect election by an electoral college.
– Have they reached the stage at which they could do that?
– If they can elect local councillors they can elect Legislative Councillors. The honorable member has spoken about indirect election. I think that the traditional leadership in the villages will not, in future, be the leadership of the natives of New Guinea. Teachers and others who form, in some respects, an educated group are not necessarily regarded as leaders by the people in the villages. The trend in New Guinea is going to be towards a break from traditional local leadership.
– I would doubt that. 1 think there is a strong tradition of conservatism in the villages.
– But surely, with the advance of education, the criteria of the people of New Guinea as to what constitutes leadership will begin to change.
– Yes. It is truethat in Africa there is still the leadership of the chieftain. On the other hand, Tom M’boya and other political leaders who are emerging do not come from among the chieftains. I think that the trend will be the same in New Guinea, but the method of indirect election which the honorable member for Fawkner seemed to me to advocate has been commented upon in a book entitled, “What are the Problems of Parliamentary Government in Africa?” I think that the honorable member’s attraction for the traditional among primitive peoples has led him to advocate what he does. The book states -
The method of indirect election still has its advocates as being more in the African tradition of negotiation within a narrow circle of trusted representatives than the impersonal clash of party machines which commonly results from the institution of direct elections, but it is not now likely to be acceptable to either the internal or the external forces which demand an electoral system. Many of its advocates are obviously disinterested, but it finds eloquent spokesmen among chiefs or their friends.
I think that that accounts for the attraction of indirect election in Africa. But as far as we and the Government are concerned, there are no disagreements about the common objective - that is a common electoral roll. The Minister has stated it. We say that since there will be only a small minority group of elected members in this Legislative Council nobody can make a case for their being dangerous. Consequently, let us have the experiment of using the electorate that already elects the native local councils as the electorate for the Legislative Council.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the sub-section proposed to be inserted (Mr, Whitlam’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the negative.
.-I now refer to sub-section (3.) of the clause, which reads - “ (3.) Until a date to be fixed by or under an Ordinance as the date on and after which natives are eligible to be enrolled as electors subject to the same conditions as apply to other persons, the Legislative Council shall include, instead of the members referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (1.) of this section -
Omit “ Until a date to be fixed by or under an Ordinance as the date on and after which natives are eligible to be enrolled as electors subject to the same conditions as apply to other persons,”, insert “At the first election”.
The relevance of the amendment will appear if reference is made to section 39 of the principal act, which requires that elections for the Legislative Council shall be held at intervals not exceeding three years. The new section, which is being inserted by clause 8, provides that the introduction of the common roll, on which all adults in the Territory shall be enrolled, irrespective of race and so on, shall be suspended until a date to be fixed by or under an ordinance and after that date natives will be eligible to enroll as electors subject to the same conditions as apply to other persons. On behalf of the Opposition, I move this amendment for two reasons. The first is to provide a target date, and the second is to provide that this Parliament itself shall supervise the implementation of the common roll, and not merely the Minister or the Administrator.
The matter of target dates has been brought to the attention of Australia as the administering power and, after all, we are only administering the trust territory because of international agreement, first of all with the League of Nations and then with the United Nations. The matter has been brought to our attention for many years, and at the recently concluded session of the United Nations Trusteeship Council the council “ invited the administering authority to formulate early successive, intermediate targets and dates in the fields of political, economic and educational development “. Australia moved, as an amendment, that there should be “ tentative and intermediate targets and dates “, but the amendment was beaten, because the council was evenly divided upon it. The Belgian and British representatives then moved that we should formulate the dates and targets “whenever appropriate “ and “ whenever Australia is satisfied that this will help “ in the attainment of self-government. There, again, Sir, the council was evenly divided and the amendment was defeated. Then the resolution which I first read was carried by eight votes to five. It is a resolution which has been carried in similar terms at meetings of the Trusteeship Council for many years now. We have always ignored it. We should ignore it no longer.
We shall soon be the last administering nation in the world. New Guinea will be the last trust territory in the world before the 1960’s are half spent. We are therefore obliged, morally and legally, to implement these decisions. This is a clear case where we can do so. We ought to say now that, if not at the 1961 election, then at least at the 1964 election for the Legislative Council of the Territory the common roll should be implemented. We would then be saying that all the natives as well as the Europeans in the Territory would be entitled to vote in 1964.
The other reason why I have moved this amendment lies in the good traditional parliamentary and democratic practice that the legislature should determine as many of these matters as possible, and not just the Executive. The bill, as it stands, merely permits the people who make ordinances - that is the Legislative Council itself - to determine when the common roll will come into operation and when the natives will have a direct franchise in their own country. Once this Parliament has passed this provision as it stands, it has washed its hands of the matter and there is no way in which this matter can automatically come before this Parliament again. If, however, the amendment which I have moved is adopted, then the common roll will come into operation at the second election for the new Legislative Council. The government of the day may believe that the time is not yet ripe and that it is not yet possible to adopt the various methods of exercising the franchise which have been adopted in India - the most populous democracy in the world, where there are something like 160,000,000 people, most of them illiterate and participating in democratic elections. The Government may also not be impressed by the franchise techniques adopted in most of the countries of Asia and Africa which have secured self-government in the last decade, and certainly those formerly ruled by the United Kingdom. But if it is thought that, contrary to general experience, the indigenous inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea are not yet able to exercise the franchise in the various ways in which it can be exercised in relatively less literate countries, the Parliament can set another date. We press this amendment, because it will mean that this Parliament will determine when our wards are entitled or able to exercise the franchise. We will keep control of this matter. It is the only way we can ensure that the Australian people, whose wards the people in the Territory are, shall determine their political future.
– The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is, of course, clearly related to the amendment that the committee has previously considered. By its vote, the committee has already decided to uphold the Government view and the provision in the legislation that there should be separate elections for native members and for nonnative members during a transitional period. The question now before us is, first, how long should that transitional period last and, more importantly, who shall decide when the transitional period is to end and in what way will the decision to end the transitional period be made?
The effect of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is this: In this legislation, we should say that the separation of elections applies only for the first election and that in less than three years time the bill should come back to this Parliament and, after considering a further bill, this Parliament should decide whether to continue the transitional period for another three years, to another election, or to end the transitional period. On the other hand, the proposal in the bill is that the decision as to when the transitional period is to end should be taken by the Legislative Council for the Territory, and that at a time when it appears that the transitional period is no longer necessary and that the common roll can be introduced, an ordinance will be made by the Legislative Council for the Territory to end that transitional period once and for all.
The arguments presented by the Deputy Leader are, first, that we should provide a target date. In matters of political advancement, the view consistently followed by the Government, and the view that we still maintain, can be summarized in a phrase I have used before - the rate of change is governed by the rate of response. It is impossible to predict with certainty the response of the people to the opportunity for political advancement. It is very difficult to say the way in which the changes will occur. The view we have consistently held is that we watch carefully and reach decisions with as much wisdom as we can command. Then, in the light of circumstances and judging the situation as it develops, we make the decisions which it is our responsibility to make. The change may come much more rapidly than we think. It may even come more slowly than we think. But the point we try to emphasize is that we do not make blind stabs in the dark and say that on a set date we have noted in our diary, we will take certain action irrespective of the circumstances.
The second point mentioned by the Deputy Leader is that this Parliament should decide. The action proposed in the bill does not take away from this Parliament one jot of its competence to express its opinion on these matters. A variety of ways is open to every honorable member. By resolution, by question at question time, by a speech on the Estimates, by any of the other procedures open to any honorable member and to any party, this Parliament can at any time express its opinion regarding the progress of events in the Territory. So, this proposal does not take anything away from the opportunities that this Parliament has for exercising its responsibilities.
The important point, and the one on which our proposal mainly rests, is found in the third argument presented by the Deputy Leader. He says that the legislature should determine. We agree with that view and we say that the appropriate legislature to make this determination is the Legislative Council for the Territory. It is the whole object of our measures for political advancement to build up the Legislative Council progressively so that it does become the representative organ, the law-making body, of the Territory. The important point is that, as a result of the reforms proposed in this bill, the Legislative Council will now have in it a recognizable component of native members. With elected native members and appointed members, at the very least there will be eleven native members of the council; there may be more than that. When we say that the Legislative Council is the appropriate body to decide when the transitional period should end, we are saying that the native people themselves should have the opportunity to add their voice and make their judgment on when the change should come. In this Parliament, there is no direct voice of the native people. In the Legislative Council of the future, there will be a direct voice of the native people. The proposals in this bill give them the opportunity to share in making the decision and in expressing their opinion as to when they are ready for a change from separate elections to the common roll.
I should like to compliment the Deputy Leader on the clarity and skill with which he has presented this amendment. I submit to the committee that the issues are quite clear and simple. The lucidity of the Deputy Leader’s explanation is such that no member surely can be in doubt as to what is involved. Having regard to the arrangements already made, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. B. M. Wight.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. B. M. Wight.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- I take this opportunity to protest against the actions of the Government in trying to force this measure through the House without proper consideration. It seems to me rather ludicrous that when we are dealing with a measure allegedly aimed to give some degree of self-government to natives of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which involves, I presume, the right of free speech, we find that this right is denied members of this Parliament in Australia. I think it is a bad augury for the future of the Territory that the Government is refusing a full debate on this measure. I can understand that the Government has had such a hammering that it wants to end the debate by applying the gag; but 1 thing that as members of the Opposition, we should record our protest at the tactics of the Government. It continues to use the gag on many important measures. Why does not the Government close the Parliament and end this claim to democratic government in view of the fact that it is continually gagging the voice of the Opposition?
While the debate was going smoothly, the Government thought it was going to get nothing but bouquets for all it has claimed to have done in the Territory, but for which it has not been responsible at all. In the course of this debate, the Opposition was able to direct attention to the fact that the Government was against making New Guinea a trust territory under the United Nations. We showed that the Government was against ending the indentured labour system which has been criticized greatly in the past by missionaries, members of the Labour Party and all people of progressive thought. I am satisfied that the United Nations Trusteeship Council has been completely justified in the attitude it has adopted, because not only is the Government using its powers to prevent people who might find out exactly what is happening from going into the Territory, but it is also blocking a free and open debate in this Parliament by the elected representatives of the Australian people.
I think it is a scandalous state of affairs. I hope that members of the Opposition will circulate in their electorates and throughout Australia the contributions that have been made by members of the Opposition to this debate. I hope they will tell the people about the tactics of the Government, and the allegations about its activities which have not been denied by any speaker on the Government side. Not one speaker for the Government has risen to deny the allegations that there is racial discrimination in the Territory; that the Government is only concerned about getting invested capital into the Territory to exploit cheap native labour and the resources of the Territory. These are charges that the Government does not want to hear and wants to stop being repeated in this debate. I believe that the Opposition must continue to repeat these charges until the people realize exactly what has been happening.
– I call the Minister for Territories.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker–
-I have not finished yet.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney had not actually taken his seat, but he turned away from the table and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) rose. In accordance with practice, I called a member from the Government side. If the honorable member for East Sydney wishes to continue his speech, he may do so.
– Certainly I wish to do so. I knew full well that what I was saying was having some effect and the Government was hoping that I would discontinue my speech. I say emphatically that the members of the Opposition should continue to repeat the charges that have been made against the Government in this debate throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Certain delegates of the United Nations Trusteeship Council were not satisfied with the progress that had been made in the Territory over a period of more than 70 years of European rule. What has the Government to show for the time it has been in office? The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said in his speech that the natives were a most primitive race. If they are still in a primitive state after 70 years, it does not say much for what this Government has done or is doing.
Some good things have been undertaken in the Territory, but everything that has been worthwhile has been the result of decisions of the Labour Government of which I was privileged to be a member. We decided to re-establish the Legislative Council in the Territory and provided for the natives to have their own representatives on it; there had never been native representation before. If honorable members read the speeches recorded in “ Hansard “ at the time, they will find that every Government member, then members of the Opposition, criticized and opposed what we were doing. The natives would never have had a voice in the legislature of Papua and New Guinea if it had not been for what the Labour Government had done.
There were no village councils before the Labour Government decided to establish them. The natives would have been just as backward to-day as they were then if it had not been for the great work of the Labour Government and the foundations for progress which it laid. This Government was afraid to interfere with some of that work. I remind honorable members of the cooperatives. The Minister said they now have a turnover every year of £1,000,000. There were no co-operatives until the Labour Government decided to establish them. I do not think it is such a great thing to say that they now have a turnover of £1,000,000. That does not mean a great deal in these days of inflated currencies. I am of the opinion that if a Labour government had still been in control, the native co-operative movement would have been much stronger and more progressive than it has been in the past.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for East Sydney that at the moment we are dealing with the third reading of a bill which deals with the Legislative Council of the Territory and the method of election to it. On the motion for the second reading, at the suggestion of the Minister for Territories, the debate was allowed to extend into a wider sphere because it was linked with a ministerial statement. The link with that statement concluded at the end of the second-reading stage and now, on the third reading, the debate is strictly limited to the Legislative Council of the Territory and the method of election to the council.
– Very good. Let me just say this before I proceed to the balance of my argument: The Minister appeared to be very generous in saying that he would allow a wide scope in the debate, but what does that amount to if the great majority of members of the Opposition who had a contribution to make to the debate had no opportunity to address the House? It seems to me to be rather ridiculous and contradictory. On one hand, the Government talks about widening the debate, and on the other hand it uses the gag to prevent members of the Opposition from making their contribution.
Let me turn to the election for the Legislative Council. What is the great thing that the Government has done? It proposes that certain action to re-consider the position will be taken every five or six years. I understand from the debate that it is to be left to the Legislative Council to decide when it will have the system revised. Does anybody imagine that in a legislative council of this nature these people will be any less timid than are members of this Government about facing elections? The supporters of this Government do not like facing the electors; and no doubt the people in control of the Legislative Council will not want to revise the system so that they will have to face a popular election and run the risk of being rejected by the electors.
What new powers are to be provided? When the Labour Government re-established the Legislative Council and gave the natives representation, the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) talked about it being a facade of democratic self-government. Is that not the position to-day? The Government is going through the motions of giving the natives and people resident in the Territory more authority concerning decisions which will be made regarding the economy and the life of the people. In effect, what will it be? The elected representatives of the Territory can make decisions, but their decisions will not be effective unless the Government or the Administrator approves, because they have the right of veto. We have often heard the veto criticized in this chamber on other occasions. Now the Government wants to exercise the right of veto. So, we find that it proposes to set up what is only the facade of a democratic institution.
It is perfectly true that a larger number of members of the Legislative Council are to be elected on a restricted roll. I ask the Minister: Why should the people have to wait five or six years or longer before they can decide whether they will make another step forward in the Territory? I have had some little experience of the natives in the Territory and I know that they are very apt pupils. I am of opinion that in a lesser period than five or six years many more natives in the Territory will be ready to decide intelligently who is to represent them, and that those who are elected will be able to record intelligent decisions in the councils.
Why can the Government not stipulate a period? Why does the Government not say that it will review this matter every two or three years to see what progress has been made; to see how we can widen the franchise, and to see how we can give the natives greater representation? Does the Government imagine that the United Nations Trusteeship Council will be satisfied with the action that it is taking now? Of course, the council will not be satisfied! It will be watching the Government more carefully and critically than ever before. The
Government has been greatly worried in the past by the criticisms which have been made by representatives of the United Nations Trusteeship Council. What it is doing now will provide them with a very solid argument as to why they should continue that criticism in the future.
I do not believe that this Government intends ever to allow the New Guinea natives to attain self-determination or independence. If they get independence it will not come from an anti-Labour government. Real progress towards independence will be made only when a Labour government assumes office and I believe that this is not very far away now. (Mr. Hasluck rising in his place) -
– Order! I cannot call the Minister for Territories.If he speaks now he will close the debate.
– I propose to make a balanced, cool, calm and collected speech on this matter. We have heard from the Government side a lot of reckless, wild and woolly statements.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Hasluck) read a first time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 4th October (vide page 1617).
– I am disappointed that the Government has not amended the National Health Act to provide for the inclusion of charges by eye doctors for prescribing spectacles on the list of items for which reimbursement is made. I am disappointed also that the fees of optometrists are not included for the same purpose. 1 would prefer to go to an eye doctor to have my eyes tested rather than to an optometrist. Very often one believes that all that one needs is. a new pair of spectacles, but it is found that some defect exists in the eyes which only an eye doctor can detect and cure or treat. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of people whose only need is a pair of spectacles prescribed by an optometrist, and. I believe that in such cases the charge by the optometrist should be met by the health scheme.
There is something going on in connexion, with the business of making spectacles that I think needs very close investigation. I refer in particular to a company called Optical Prescriptions Spectacle Makers Proprietary Limited, and known as O.P.S.M. It has branches in every city of Australia. There is no doubt whatever that in some cases at least there is a form of collusion between O.P.S.M. and eye doctors who prescribe spectacles for their patients. This is not in keeping with the high ethics of the medical profession, as can be shown by reference to a ruling given two years ago by the British Medical Association in Victoria. It then introduced a new rule of ethical conduct - rule No. 38 (q.) - which prohibits a doctor from holding any interest in any drug company, or any similar company, when he may be expected to prescribe or otherwise promote the sale of that company’s products. Rule 38 (q) was framed specifically to deal with the case of a socalled ethical drug company, Virax Ethicals Proprietary Limited, which is an organization with a number of doctor shareholders. It prospered exceedingly until its management made the mistake of sending to those doctors an extremely indiscreet circular letter, saying, in effect, “ Come on, chaps; you can prescribe more of our stuff than you are doing. We can’t make profits if you don’t pull your weight.”
The British Medical Association’s stand in that case makes it rather difficult. J. think, for a layman to appreciate the ethical basis for the curious current relationship which appears to exist between a large number of Australian eye doctors and the spectaclemaking company to which I have just referred. No matter in what part of Australia he lives, a patient for whom some eye doctors prescribe spectacles will find that the- prescription is- tucked into a. little envelope which is addressed to O.P.S.M. There is a suggestion by the doctor, “ If you will take this to Mr. So-and-so at O.P.S.M., he will see that you get your prescription made up “.
I have had many dealingswith eye doctors in Adelaide, and I will say that those with whom I have had dealings have never attempted to persuade me to get my glasses from O.P.S.M. or any other optician. In fact, when I asked whether they couldrecom- mend any particularoptician for the job, they said, “ No, they are all as good as one another”. But evidently that cannot be said of the eye doctors in some of the other capital cities.
I believe that there is. a need for the Government to examine this matter carefully and to bring it to the notice of the B.M.A. if it find’s that there is any substance in the allegation - which, incidentally, was made in an article which appeared in “Nation” of 24th September, 1960- that members of the medical profession in some States are, in fact, shareholders of O.P.S.M. and are using their influence as professional men to persuade their patients to buy their glasses from O.P.S.M. If they are doing so, then, in my opinion, they are committing the same offence as were the doctors in Victoria who were shareholders of a drug firm and who, it was alleged, were encouraging their patients to use the products of that firm. I believe that as the B.M.A. acted on that occasion to prevent its members in Victoria from holding an interest in any drug company, it will, if it is consistent and if it has - as I am sure it has - a proper regard for the high standing of its members in society, take similar action against those members of the profession who hold shares inO.P.S.M.
This company was formed about 30 years ago by a Mr. Gordon Champion to supply glasses at a reasonable rate at a time when opticians were over-charging. At that time they had the business tied up. No matter what optician you consulted, you would find yourself compelled to pay what wasvirtually a charge fixed by the ring of opticians. Mr.Champion’s company did serve a very useful purpose then, but after his death the company became the basis of what as now known as O.P.S.M. This is a giant monopoly in the spectacle business, making enormous profits, and run by a public company called Optical Industries Limited, which was formed in 1956. The 10s. shares in Optical Industries Limited are currently quoted at more than 25s. each.
– -There must be a lot of satisfied customers.
– Not at all. The point I am making is that this company has satisfied shareholders, namely, the doctors who persuade their patients to go to O.P.S.M. to have their glasses made up. If the average patient has confidence in his doctor, he has only to be given a hint that O.P.S.M. is more qualified to make up his glasses than some other optician, and he will slavishly, I submit, go to O.P.S.M. There are very few patients who are independent enough to disregard completely the recommendation of their eye doctor. They have spent three or five guineas on seeking specialist advice, and it appears to them to be foolish to reject the specialist’s advice as to who should make up their glasses. It is not a question of satisfied customers but a question of satisfied and interested shareholders in the form of the eye doctors who hold shares in this organization. The article to which Ihave referred states -
O.P.S.M. is not the sole receiver of the doctors’ patronage. In Melbourne, for example, one eye doctor keeps a strict watch that the patient never gets his prescription in his hand although a script would be conventionally regarded as the patient’s property.
The doctor takes no risks at all, if these allegations are true -
He phones the details through to his favoured dispenser.
I do not know to what extent this article is based on fact. All I know is that it contains serious allegations against the medical profession and against O.P.S.M. Towards the end, it says -
It is believed that apair of spectacle lenses costs about 8s. and a plain frame of good quality about 25s. Glasses made upfrom such components - merely made up, not including any testing or other fees, cost £6 10s.
I personally canproduce a receipt for a pairof glasses I got from O.P.S.M. that cost me more than £6 10s. They were just ordinary glasses like the Minister at the stable is wearing now, and they cost me £6 15s., if my memory serves me correctly. On top of that, I had to pay the eye doctor £5 5s. to test my eyes. So I had to pay a total of £12 for a pair of glasses. I venture to say that had I gone to Laubman and Pank or to any of the ordinary opticians or optometrists in Adelaide, I should have been tested and supplied with glasses for less than that amount.
– But the honorable member slavishly followed the advice of his doctor!
– I did not slavishly follow his advice. It has been my experience that the doctors in Adelaide to whom I go do not tell patients to go to O.P.S.M. lt just so happened that I was one of those foolish people who fell for the story that that firm was cheaper than any other. I was told, “ You ought to go to O.P.S.M. It is cheaper “. When I went to the firm on this last occasion I found that I had to pay £6 15s. for a pair of glasses. 1 thought that there had been a tremendous increase in the cost of glasses since 1 had previously bought a pair, until I read this article in “ Nation “. I then realized what a sucker I had been. I had fallen for the three-card trick! I should have gone to an ordinary optician for my glasses. Had I done so, I should have saved at least half what I paid.
– Is not that an exaggeration?
– It is not. I paid £5 5s. to have my eyes tested by an eye specialist and £6 15s. for the glasses - a total cost of £12. Had I gone to an ordinary optometrist, I could have been tested and supplied with glasses for £6 6s.
Furthermore, I say in favour of the ordinary opticians that, in Adelaide, they will supply age pensioners with glasses at the reduced price of £1 15s. Any age pensioner that I recommend to any one of most of the opticians there can obtain a pair of glasses for £1 15s., which one may say is almost the cost price. O.P.S.M. will not knock off even Id. for aged people. In my opinion, that organization ought to be exposed by the Government.
Before I leave the main theme of my complaint, I ask: How does the Government know that eye doctors are testing eyes if it relies on the accounts sent to the patients and used by them to claim benefits under the medical benefits scheme? Unless the doctor endorses the account to indicate that the charge has been made for an eye test, the supply of spectacles or the issuing of a prescription, or unless the claimant is honest enough to admit that he had an eye test for the purpose of obtaining spectacles, there is no means by which the medical benefits fund can determine whether or not spectacles are prescribed.
In the majority of cases, it is reasonable to assume that doctors have poor memories when they send out their accounts. They forget to note the fact that they have made an eye test for spectacles. I do not blame them for forgetting. We all forget. The odd thing is that so few of all the eye doctors in Australia have found it necessary to prescribe spectacles. Anybody who cares to go through the claims made on medical benefit funds, and who notes the particulars of the benefits paid in respect of the charges made, will be astonished at the number of eye doctors who apparently are able to rectify the faulty eye-sight of their patients without prescribing spectacles. Obviously, that is not really happening. As that is not happening, so long as the present procedure goes unchecked and the Government does not evolve some means of detecting these lapses of memory on the part of eye doctors-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, if we examine the estimates of the Department of Health, we learn something of the very wide variety of activities that have been found necessary to enable the department to give Australia what must be regarded, in its overall operation, as the best national health scheme in the world. There are some who say that the British scheme is good, but I have found that reports by competent observers who have been overseas and examined that scheme indicate .that the complete socialization of so personal a thing as the care of the health of the individual is not to the advantage of either the doctor or the patient, and has certainly caused deterioration of the service given in the hospitals in England. The American system, which relies on total insurance, is not as advantageous as is our system based on a combination of part insurance by the individual through one of the very efficient benefit organizations that we have here and a substantial contribution by the Government.
The medical benefit and hospital benefit sections of the scheme are working very well. The patient pays his account and then presents it to his benefit organization or friendly society, which reimburses a certain proportion of the amount, depending on the schedule under which the patient has insured. The third section of the national health scheme is the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, and here the system is showing some signs of strain. I still believe, as I said when the present pharmaceutical benefits scheme was introduced at the beginning of this year, that a contributory scheme on the same lines as the medical and hospital benefit schemes would have been better. There are certain benefit organizations which are quite capable of carrying out such a scheme. I believe that eventually we shall have to abandon in favour of a contributory scheme the present socialist method of a pharmaceutical benefits scheme under government administration. But we have a scheme in operation now, and our main task is to make it work as well as possible in spite of its shortcomings. The expansion of the scheme to cover almost all the drugs listed in the British Pharmacopoeia, and certain additional drugs, has resulted in a multiplicity of brands which is a nightmare to chemists and is surely costing the Government millions of pounds.
With respect to hospital benefits, section 56 of the National Health Act provides for additional benefit - by that I mean the portion of the benefit which is insured for - which may be paid direct to the hospital on behalf of the patient or, where the account has already been paid, to the person who paid the account. There seems to be no difficulty in this provision. It is working very satisfactorily. The benefit organizations permit the patient to specify which method he prefers when he completes his claim form. This evidently suits the hospitals quite well. They get portion of their money fairly quickly, and if some patients happen to take a little time to pay, the hospitals are not out of pocket completely.
In relation to medical benefits, Mr. Chairman, some difficulty arises on this point. Section 23 of the act states quite clearly that the registered medical benefit organization may not receive its payment from the Commonwealth until it has paid out its own fund benefit and an amount equal to the Commonwealth benefit. The act provides that the total of these amounts may be paid either to the contributor or the person who paid the medical expenses incurred or to the person to whom the medical expenses are payable on behalf of the contributor - that is, to the doctor. I should like to elaborate on this a little. In 1953, the Government published a booklet on the national health scheme. Question No. 7, at page 10 of that booklet, was -
How will the benefits be paid?
The answer was -
Approved organizations will be free to decide for themselves whether the benefits, including the Commonwealth subsidy, will be paid directly to the member when he produces a receipted account from the doctor, or directly to the doctor, on the authority of the member who presents an unpaid account.
The Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Service Association which, as its name indicates, originated in the electorate of McMillan, and which is providing an excellent service, is a most progressive organization, anxious to help its many contributors who occasionally find that getting together £20, or perhaps £40 or more to pay the doctor’s account is a financial strain. It has many contributors who bring their accounts along and ask for an advance of the part which is legitimately theirs. They have paid their contributions to the fund and it is their right to have this money made available to them. The fund is quite willing to make it available and the law says that it may do so. However, before such direct payment may be made, the organization requires to have details to determine the amount of benefit that is payable.
But the doctor’s account merely says “ For professional services “ and then shows the amount of money that is due. It is impossible for the association to know what items in the schedule are covered by this mysterious phrase “ for professional services”. The contributor, in making his claim, is required to fill in a form giving bis name, his age, the name of the doctor, the date of the service and a description of the treatment. An essential part of the process is that the benefit organization must be advised, at the same time, by the doctor what item number in the schedule cover, the service that he has performed. I myself have had accounts from three Melbourne specialists in the last twelve months and each one inquired at the first attendance whether I was covered by a medical benefit organization. I said that I was. I have belonged to an organization, for many years and I believe, that every one else should do so. When the accounts came along later each one of them had the item number endorsed on the back. That apparently was clone automatically.
In the Latrobe valley however, the doctors have steadfastly refused to comply with requests for itemized accounts until after an account has been paid. The Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Service Association has repeatedly requested their co-operation, but the answer given is that the British Medical Association has instructed all doctors in the Latrobe Valley to refrain from itemizing accounts and to issue details only on request when the account has been paid. The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has informed me that although Commonwealth benefit may be paid direct to .the doctor if the contributor has not paid the doctor’s account, the act itself does not impose a legal obligation on doctors to provide their patients with an itemized account. The Minister has claimed, that this is a matter for mutual arrangement between the patient and the doctor. He says that the Commonwealth has no power to interfere and that the refusal of the doctors in question does not conflict with either the spirit or the letter of the law.
It is true that I can find no mention of any obligation on doctors to provide detailed statements either before or after payment of their accounts but if details of services, are not given how can claim forms be completed? I believe that the action of these doctors in refusing, to- supply details of the service they have rendered’ does most decidedly conflict with both the spirit and the letter of. the law. It also contravenes ordinary business practice and courtesy. I do not think that, these, doctors- would- pay an account from their garage man without asking faim, first, what items made up th» total account. To say that, the Commonwealth has no power in this matter is to say that the specific terms of the act are meaningless and may be disregarded.
The reason behind this pecular circumstance is not hard to find. The Latrobe valley organization is expanding rapidly into areas which the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria has always regarded as its domain. The association does not want to encourage its members to ask for this direct payment for services. It feels that it would raise the cost of administration and would make it difficult to keep within the ceiling limit of 20 per cent, imposed by the act. It is recognized that the method of payment is a matter of choice for the organization. The association wants to make this service available only to people who are financially embarrassed. lt does that as a favour. [Quorum formed.]
The Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Service Association on the other hand is anxious, to- help its contributors by making the benefit that is due to them available in advance in order to help them to find the total sum due to doctors. It believes that it can do this and keep its. administrative costs well within the required limit. It does not believe that it has any right to impose a means test upon contributors who want to take advantage of the fact that government legislation specifically provides for them to have the fund make payments direct to doctors on their behalf.. The key to- the whole situation, lies in the fact that Doctor C. H. Dickson, who is president of the Hospitals Benefits Association of Victoria, is the same Doctor C. H. Dickson who is secretary of the British Medical Association. This may explain why doctors in the Latrobe valley are refusing to co-operate with and help contributors to the Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Service Association.
.- Before passing a. few comments in the speech of the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan), who dealt with the best national health scheme m the world - according te him. - I want to bring up. a matter relating to the Repatriation Department.. Then- f shall return to some of the honorable member’s comments which I believe, whilst not over-intelligent, warrant correction. On the 21st April, I wrote to the Minister for Repatriation stating -
I have been approached by Mrs. . . . who stated that she was visiting a friend at the Repatriation Hospital, Concord, on Tuesday, 5th April, 1960, at 7.30 p.m. When leaving the Hospital she tripped over a concrete path and had a heavy fall, sustaining cuts to face, nose, lip, mouth and knee; and also broke her glasses.
I added that I understood that the lady’s solicitor, Mr. Stewart White, of Castlereaghstreet, Sydney, had lodged a claim with the Repatriation Department for the payment of £9 9s. covering the cost of new spectacles. The letter continued -
Mrs….. further stated that it would appear her accident was caused through carelessness at the Hospital and pointed out that since her fall precautions have evidently been taken there to prevent a repetition by the installation of a red light.
Accordingly, I asked the department to pay the amount. Subsequently I received a letter from the Minister in which he stated - * ..* I have had. the circumstances sur rounding. Mrs.- ‘s accident fully investigated. As a result, I am satisfied that Mrs.- ‘s accident was not caused through any carelessness at the Repatriation Hospital-, Concord.
In the circumstances I am. sure that you. will appreciate that the Department is unable to accept any responsibility for loss or injury sustained by Mrs.– and I regret to advise that I cannot agree to the reimbursement of the amount requested.
The Minister has been gravely misinformed by the hospital authorities. The lady tripped over certain things that were there, and which were subsequently the object of action in that a red lamp was erected to warn people of the dangers associated with them. Yet the department, while taking those precautions- - an action which, to my mind, is an admission of guilt - has refused to pay the miserly amount of £9 9s, to reimburse this lady for the cost of her glasses which were broken in the accident.
This year the estimated expenditure of this department is about £97,500,000. Out of that huge amount the Government cannot see fit to pay £9 9s.. to replace these spectacles, which were broken as the result, evidently, of carelessness or* the part of somebody connected with the hospital authorities. SoI ask again that the Government be moved to grant out of that great vote of £97,500,000 the miserly amount of £9 9s. to replace the glasses which were broken and which the lady concerned found difficult to replace because she is not a woman of unlimited means. That is why I ask that the case be re-opened and investigated with a view to making that payment.
I cannot believe that the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) was talking about the present Government’s medical scheme when he said that it was the best scheme in the world. If he was talking about this scheme when he made that statement, then undoubtedly he is either gravely misinformed about the scheme or has not been around much. I should say that the Government’s medical scheme lacks practically everything that a good medical scheme should have.
When the Labour Government was in office hospital treatment was free to every person in the community.. That scheme was destroyed because the inflationary policy of this Government caused hospital costs to rise so much that the Government could not continue to finance the scheme. So, because of its own incompetence, the Government abolished the scheme, which was instituted as a result of the unanimous report of a social security committee. Represented on that committee was every party in the Parliament. One of the members of the committee was the present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper).
To-day people are paying through the nosefor hospital treatment. Who can justly claim that the Government’s scheme gives the people the benefits that they should have in respect of hospital treatment? In addition, what scheme could be claimed to be the best scheme in the world when it does not cover dental health? Recently it was estimated that nine out of ten people in this country have bad teeth. The other day I gave instances in this Parliament to the Minister of how people were endeavouring to meet their dental commitments by borrowing from financial institutions. They have to do so in order to have their dental health attended to. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) in a splendid speech here last night told of people who have various complaints which are caused in the first place no doubt by bad teeth. The fact that the Government does not provide a dental health scheme for the people of this country - even the children - certainly places its scheme far away from being the best medical scheme in the world. Until such time as the scheme covers dental health and free hospital treatment is given - these are the two major fields that I have in mind - the scheme will continue to be a long way from being the best in the world. What government with any sense of justice could take money from the taxpayers for the financing of social services and at the same time force them to pay subscriptions to medical benefits funds and hospital funds in order to get the medical and hospital treatment for the provision of which they are already paying taxes? That is duplication in the extreme, and the method adopted is certainly dishonest, because it is double taxation. The people should be getting these services free, as they did in the time of the Chifley Government. It was that government which introduced the free medicine scheme, but that scheme was bitterly opposed by the British Medical Association and by many members of the present Government, who opposed it in the Parliament at the time. To-day every person has to pay 5s. per prescription. A person with a big family, or even a small family whose members have frequent illnesses, could in two weeks pay away in prescription fees any benefit that they might get as a result of the Government’s social service provisions.
The other night I went to a doctor and got a prescription for what is a fairly common complaint - conjunctivitis. The chemist charged me 15s. for filling the prescription for a preparation to treat a common complaint. That preparation would have been available free of charge under any worthwhile scheme.
Those are a few of the anomalies in the Government’s health scheme. Certainly no great credit can be taken for the way in which people are forced to join funds, as well as to pay taxes for social services, under the Government’s scheme. Had a Labour government continued in office the people would undoubtedly be getting a lot of these things free, as is right and in accordance with a just policy, instead of their being called upon to pay twice.
A single person who earns £2 a week above his pension - £4 a week in the case of a pensioner couple - is to-day denied medical benefits under the pensioner medi cal service. This is scandalous in the extreme, because this Government went to the people pledged to remove the means test on social services, particularly in relation to medical benefits. Yet to-day a miserly income of £4 a week above the pension can deprive a pensioner couple of the right to medical benefits under the pensioner medical service. Brother and brother are on a different basis, because one may have received the pension before the other. People on the same income and with the same means may also be on a different basis. One may get benefits under the pensioner medical service but the other may not be entitled to them, because the provision of these benefits depend on an arbitrarily fixed date in 1955, if my memory is serving me correctly. From that date a means test applies, and people who get more than £2 a week over and above their pensions are not entitled to benefit under the pensioner medical service.
Who can say in all sincerity that this is the best medical scheme in the world? Why should not pensioners and other people get these benefits free as was promised in the Government’s policy speech, instead of there being discrimination against some pensioners compared with other pensioners who are receiving the same income, simply because of the date from which their respective pensions commenced? I certainly cannot believe that the contention of the honorable member for McMillan that this is the best medical scheme in the world is a just one.
Far from the Government’s scheme being the best in the world I believe that we are being left a long way behind by other countries in respect of social services and health benefits. Look at France, for instance! I would never have thought that France would forge ahead of Australia in respect of a social services scheme, but evidently it has. The Sydney “ Daily Mirror” of 27th September contains an article which appears under the heading “It pays to have babies in France “. It certainly does not pay to have babies in Australia under this Government. Child endowment for the first child has been static since 1950. People bringing children into the world ought to remember that the first child is worth only 5s. in this Government’s currency. Endowment for the other children has not been changed since 1948- 49, and it is a miserable amount. When it was fixed in 1948, the basic wage was between £6 and £8. The basic wage is now double that amount, yet the Government leaves child endowment at the same rate. Fancy France being ahead of a progressive young country like Australia in social services! It is away ahead of us in regard to the baby bonus. The article whose headline I read out a few moments ago states -
When France’s budget comes up next month it is certain the National Assembly will not dare touch the country’s “ cash-and-carry “ baby benefits.
France’s social services cover many aspects, from medical treatment and unemployment insurance to old age and family allotments.
The baby benefits provide cash incentives to young mothers to raise large families. They take care of pre-natal care, expenses involved in birth, and part of the cost of bringing up the children.
The family allotment plan had its beginnings in the late 1930’s when the French birthrate was dropping out of sight.
Now at the end of her second month of pregnancy, an expectant mother submits a doctor’s certificate to a Government agency - and the money starts coming in.
During the third, sixth and ninth months of pregnancy the mother receives gradually increasing cheques, which culminate in a lump sum payment when the child is born.
The total payments’ come to nearly £70, including medical benefits.
The maternity allowance of £17 10s. has been in force for years; child endowment has been the same for years, the cost of raising a family is out of all proportion to what it ought to be in a country of this nature; and the family man is taxed more than the single man. When we consider all those matters, we realize that we are a long way behind France in respect of what one honorable member described ridiculously, a little while ago, as the best social services scheme in the world. These matters are well worth mentioning, because it is important that we realize that this Government is failing all along the line in respect of them.
I am amazed that the government of the day takes credit for the social service benefits. Almost everything it has done in more recent times has been the brain child of a Labour government of days gone by. Practically without exception, every piece of social services legislation and what is written into the Budget were introduced by a
Labour government and opposed by those who now sit opposite us. All the Government has done since it has been in office, with prices rising by 98 per cent., has been to increase by about 50 per cent, the rate of the benefits payable to the people concerned. The Government has not nearly kept up with the things that are necessary in respect of social services.
– What about the merged means test?
– It is necessary to bring the honorable member up to date. The merged means test was thought of by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) in 1948, and the Government has taken it from the Labour Party. In fact, nearly all the good things in its policy have been taken from the Labour Party. I know the Country Party has never been in favour of social services. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) knows that full well, because he has been a vigorous opponent in this Parliament of the benefits of which I speak. I know I am discussing a touchy matter, because members of the Country Party always like to forget what has been done and take advantage of the schemes which no doubt are winning them votes to-day.
I differ from the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) who said that a doctor should write on his prescription the ailment from which a patient is suffering. It may be necessary to know what is wrong with your car or your radio, but most honorable members, if they looked at the schedule to the National Health Act, would pass out on reading on a doctor’s prescription some of the names of the maladies from which they may be suffering. How would the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) like to see on his account a reference to an operation for bat ears for £9 7s. 6d.? I cannot pronounce the names of a number of maladies, but others that are not difficult include the correction of a hammer toe, and the correction of a trigger finger, and the amount is shown. Some of the other matters are as obscure as a foreign language. One would drop dead with fright at what is written-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mar. IAN ALLAN (Gwydir) .[10.43].- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) chooses .to poke fun at the people in this community who suffer from serious ailments and who have been cared for by this Government under its health services schemes. I believe those people are to be pitied for the sufferings they undergo, and this Government is to be congratulated for the way it has recognized their sufferings and has granted them some form of assistance. It is true that the forms of assistance granted will never adequately meet the needs of these people - it can never be so - but the fact that the Government has attempted to alleviate their sufferings has been welcomed by the public of Australia. It shows that this Government has sympathy and treats the ailments of the people in serious fashion, as they deserve.
It is easy to express dissatisfaction with social service programmes, with health service programmes, or with the repatriation service programme. It is very easy to criticize the benefits granted under those various schemes. But the fact is that in Australia 1,500,000 people are being paid pensions. About half .the work force of Australia are on pensions of one sort or another at the present time and the total bill runs into between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000 each year - a sum which is cheerfully met by the taxpayers of Australia because, as taxpayers, we all agree that benefits must be paid on this scale to the needy. We are quite happy, as taxpayers, to accept this as a rightful obligation. As long as we can continue to pay we will cheerfully pay, in order that we may alleviate in some way the sufferings of the people who are in need and who deserve our charity and sympathy.
The various schemes are not perfect. We know they are not perfect and, as a consequence, we modify them as we can, from year to year, as the evidence of particularly pressing needs presents itself. I arn pleased that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has brought in the merged means test this year. I think it is a wonderful piece of work, which will do a lot of good in the community. There were many people hard hit by the means test in the last few years. As has been pointed out on both sides of this chamber for a long time now, there have been quite a few people who have had some assets and who by reason of those assets - a widow’s mite in many cases - have been debarred from receiving pensions. When the merged means test comes into operation early next year, those people will be entitled to share in the benefits of the social services legislation, and we will have made a great step forward.
There is another matter which has been raised in this chamber on many occasions, but which so far has not been accorded the recognition which I believe it should have been accorded before now. It is a matter which I hope will be recognized, in the course of the next few years, just as the problem of the means test has been recognized this year. I speak of the position of those folk who live in country areas and who are ordered by general practitioners to visit specialists in a metropolitan area. They are put to very considerable expense in visiting a city to attend specialists and perhaps, to return to see them on the next day or in a few days time. The bill for a visit from my own town, Inverell, to Sydney, would run into about £20 for a single day’s visit. If the period was extended to two or three days or a week, quite plainly the bill would mount at a very steep rate and impose a heavy burden on a patient who was required to attend a hospital or see a specialist in Sydney for urgent attention. I believe we should recognize the position of those individuals by granting them assistance to compensate them for the expense they necessarily incur in obtaining specialist advice. As it is now, people who live in country areas and who comprise about onefifth of the population of Australia pay the same rates for medical and hospital benefits as do their city cousins, but they receive only a fraction of the benefits which are accorded to their city cousins. They are not able to visit a specialist doctor at their own convenience. They are not able, after visiting the doctor, immediately to go around and collect their money from a medical benefits association. They are not able to discuss the details of the payment with competent authorities at the head office of the medical benefits association or at the Department of Health. They must engage in correspondence, submit their claim for payment of the benefit and wah for about three weeks to receive the money. In many cases, the delay of three weeks entails some hardship. When the cheque arrives, it is accompanied by a little slip of paper that is completely incomprehensible in many instances. The patient cannot follow how the amount has been calculated, because the slip has been printed by a machine, is codified and is not self-explanatory. So the patient must take the slip along to a chemist or to some one who knows something about these matters to have the details explained to him. If the details are not satisfactory, he must engage in a lengthy process of corresponding with the fund to which he subscribes.
The submerged fifth of the population which lives in country areas and which pays the same rates for medical benefits as do the 80 per cent, living in cities and larger provincial centres, is definitely at a disadvantage as things stand now. I would like the Government to recognize the position of these country people. They would not expect full compensation for the costs involved in travelling to and from the city for specialist attention. That would perhaps be asking for too much, but we do at least want recognition of the plight in which we find ourselves. We want the burden lifted a little from our shoulders so that we will not feel that we are being discriminated against unfairly.
There is another matter which I raised at question time to-day with the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and which also bears on this general question of the benefits accorded to country dwellers. I refer to the provision to people in country areas of adequate information of the benefits that are available through social service, repatriation and health schemes. I have already pointed out that officers to whom we can refer our inquiries are not available in country centres. We have the post office, of course, and the very competent, willing and generous people in country post offices are prepared to go out of their way to help inquirers about pension, repatriation and health matters. But, of course, postal officials cannot handle these matters in detail and cannot speak with authority about these highly complex schemes. The best that they can do is to supply the inquirer with a pamphlet. There is a wide range of these pamphlets. At least ten of them deal with the various aspects of our social service and health schemes. But very often they are out of date, and there is no way of telling whether they are current or out of date.. Certainly the pamphlet bears a date, but very often there has been no reprint of the pamphlet because the scheme has not been altered in that year. If the scheme has beer; altered in that year, presumably a new pamphlet is issued with a new date on it. But who is to know that the scheme has been altered in that year? People in the more remote country districts, of course, do not know the exact changes that are made in social service or health legislation. They use these pamphlets, whether they are current or not, to guide them as to whether they should apply for assistance, and very often they are misled by the pamphlets.
I suggested to the Minister that a good service would be rendered if country people were issued with a booklet each year, with a date clearly printed on the cover, showing when benefits come into force, what benefits are in force in that year, what the inquirer must do to obtain benefits, what qualifications are needed and what he is entitled to receive. The cost of printing such a booklet would be little more than the cost of printing the multi-coloured dodgers that are now issued. I understood the Minister to say that it would be difficult to produce a book each year in sufficient time to be of use to the general public. I cannot agree with the Minister on this question of delay. If we can print a bill in time for discussion by the Parliament, surely we can produce, for use by the general public, a booklet containing the same information as the bill. Publicity by the Department of Social Services now costs about £3,000 out of a total expenditure of some hundreds of millions of pounds. This seems to me to be a ridiculously small amount to spend on informing the people of the social service benefits available to them. Surely we could increase this amount a little and so provide people with a booklet giving details of the benefits in clear language. I do not seek a booklet containing glossy photographs, such as the last booklet issued by the Department of Social Services which contained various photographs of Australia, but a booklet containing diagrams and graphs which would make the tables easier for pensioners to understand.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) at the commencement of his speech commended the Government on its health scheme and spoke of the expenditure involved in maintaining the scheme. He spoke with such an air of finality that I would assume that he believes this is the last word, that we have reached perfection, that the Australian community can no longer expect any extension of the scheme or any greater assistance than that now available. My attitude is entirely different from that of the honorable member. I am of the opinion that people should not be penalized because they have the misfortune to fall ill. That is exactly what happens today. It is perfectly true that some assistance is available to them, but there is no doubt that this assistance is not the great benefit that people might believe it is if they were merely to listen to some of the speeches made by Government supporters and never experience the difficulties that arise when a claim for assistance is made. With costs rising all the time, it is obvious that the proportion of the cost which has to be found by the Australian taxpayer who has the misfortune to fall ill is increasing day by day. The scheme is not being amended to a sufficient extent to keep pace with the inflation that exists in the community to-day, and which is adding to the burden that must be borne by people who become ill.
Personally, I would like to see health services in this country completely free. If a person is unfortunate enough to fall ill he ought to receive the best service that science can provide, and it ought to cost him nothing. It is not fair that a person who falls ill should be further penalized by having to face financial hardship and in many cases even bankruptcy, because the illness may be prolonged and the person may have to sell up his assets to meet the cost of treatment.
I wish to refer particularly to one or two matters connected with the administration of the Repatriation Department. The honorable member for Gwydir spoke about ex-servicemen being treated sympathetically in repatriation matters. All I can say is that sympathy is not much good unless it is backed up by some practical aid. But unfortunately there are many ex-servicemen in Australia to-day who feel that they have not received justice at the hands of governments and governmental authorities in respect of the administration of repatriation legislation. The Labour Government of which I was a member endeavoured to clear the air by placing the onus on the Repatriation Department to prove that an applicant had no valid claim. It removed the onus that previously had rested on the applicant to prove that his disability was attributable to war service. In this Parliament any number of cases have been raised in respect of which the Government, if it had an atom of sympathy for ex-servicemen, would have stretched the interpretation of the various provisions of the act, or amend it if necessary, to see that the men concerned received the assistance which they undoubtedly required. There are three particular cases to which I wish to direct attention to-night.
I shall refer, first, to the position of ex-servicemen suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. This disease is accepted to-day without question as being warcaused. Further, if the sufferer believes that a motor car is essential, he may purchase one free of sales tax. Nobody would argue that this is not a proper provision, because transport is most important to an ex-serviceman suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. I wish to refer to the case of an ex-serviceman in South Australia who at present is an inmate of the Repatriation Department sanatorium at Florenceterrace, Belair, South Australia. He has been there for some considerable time, and is now hoping to return home. Evidently there has been some slight improvement in his condition. When these men are discharged from the Repatriation Department sanatoriums, tthey are given a booklet entitled, “ Advice to Patients Suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis “. This booklet is issued under the direction of the Repatriation Commission. On page 19 is a section headed “ Going Home “ and I shall read one or two extracts from it -
When you leave the sanatorium your treatment is not completed . . . Where you live is less important than how you live … If you have a sleep-out or verandah which can be converted to this purpose it is desirable, but not essential.
However, sleep in a well-ventilated room, and open your windows. It it vitally important to have the room clean and free of dust.
I stress that word “ vitally “. This unfortunate ex-serviceman lives in a dwelling in which he cannot be provided with a sleep-out or verandah, or even a room which is properly ventilated. As the department stressed the point in its booklet that it is vitally important to have a room clean and free of dust, he decided to have air-conditioning plant installed. This seemed to me to be quite a sensible arrangement, but the man has only limited capital, and he found that the sales tax added to the cost of the equipment to such an extent as to place it beyond his reach. He made a request to be relieved by the Government of the necessity to pay sales tax on the airconditioning equipment. Surely this is a case in which, if the Government is sympathetic towards these men, it should say that if the legislation does not permit such a concession at present, it will be amended to provide the concession. This man does not want to buy a motor car. If he had sufficient capital and wanted to buy a motor car he could get one free of sales tax. But if he wants air-conditioning equipment, which the department itself evidently recommends, in order to keep his room free of dust, he has to pay the full cost of the equipment and the sales tax as well. I consider this distinctly unfair, and 1 hope that the Government will examine the matter. In case the Government does decide to investigate the matter, I can say that the man’s name is E. S. P. Rogers, and he is an inmate of the sanatorium at the present time.
Let me now turn to another case. I have heard honorable members on the Government side talking about the onus of proof provisions, and it has seemed to me that although the Labour Government introduced legislation to place the onus of proof on the department, if one accepted the interpretation of the legislation given by honorable members opposite one would conclude that the system now is the same as that which operated years ago before the Labour Government amended the act. It is suggested by Government supporters that the people who should have no doubt when applications are made for the acceptance of disabilities as having been war-caused are the members of the tribunals that make the decisions. I should have imagined that, even before the amendment of the act, if any member of a tribunal had any doubt with regard to the case submitted to him, he would have given the benefit of the doubt to the applicant. There has been no change in the procedure, therefore, if we accept the interpretation of this provision which has been placed upon it by honorable members opposite. I submit that these provisions are not being liberally interpreted, as they should be.
Let me mention the case .of a man who served at Villers-Bretonneux. He was for 48 hours in an area being shelled with mustard gas shells. Only twelve of his platoon survived the gas attack, and he was one of them. He says, however, that he was very ill as a result of the attack. He has now applied to have the disease of pulmonary fibrosis, from which he is suffering, accepted as having been war-caused, and his application has been declined, despite the fact that many men who suffered from the effects of mustard gas and were evacuated from the lines and treated have been receiving pensions. The man in question was not evacuated. He remained in the line, being one of the twelve remaining members of his platoon. I have before me an extract from a letter written by the Minister for Repatriation on 26th February, 1951, not to me but to a Labour senator. It reads -
As pointed out to you by Dr. Penington, experience of many hundreds of cases has shown that lasting effects of mustard gas on the lungs is exceptional. When gassing has been sufficiently severe to produce gross changes in the lung structure, the individual affected is always too ill at the time of the incident to continue his duty and requires evacuation.
What this ex-serviceman says - and there is no reason to doubt it - is that although he was ill at the time he knew that many men had been evacuated and he decided to hang on as long as he could. For 48 hours he remained with the platoon under fire, and because he was not immediately evacuated and treated the department now rejects his application, saying that he could not have been affected to the extent he now claims because he was not taken from the lines and given treatment. Surely, it cannot be claimed that the department has treated this man sympathetically. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that it would not hurt any government -I do not refer particularly to this Government, because many others have also administered repatriation legislation - in the case of a man who has had extensive front-line service and has been subjected to all sorts of adverse conditions for a prolonged period, to accept any disability suffered in later life by such a man as having been war-caused. I have heard many such arguments, and I have handled many of these cases. If the person concerned happens to be of an independent character and does not press his claim at a particular time but carries on for as long as he can, while he is relieving the Government of responsibility to do something for him, he is injuring his case and penalizing his dependants. The longer the period that elapses, the more difficult it becomes for him to prove that his ailment is attributable to his war service.
In the few minutes that remain to me, let me return to a case which I have raised previously in this Parliament and which I raise again because I think that if ever there was a case of injustice to an exserviceman, this is a glaring instance of one. I refer to the case of an ex-serviceman by the name of Henry G. Alderton, who had six and a half years’ war service. I think that all honorable members will recognize that he rendered great service to this country. He was employed for 27 years in the Commonwealth Public Service, and his health was so affected by his war service that he was receiving a 100 per cent. war pension. As honorable members know, a person has to be really ill and to be suffering from very severe war-caused disabilities before he becomes entitled to a 100 per cent. war pension.
Mr. Alderton became ill while serving in a department of the Commonwealth Public Service. He was suffering from terrific headaches, billiousness, badly affected nerves, and other disabilities, and asked to be retired from the department. He felt that he could not carry on - after 27 years of service. He was sent to a government doctor, who would not declare him medically unfit or recommend his retirement on that ground. He was then submitted to an examination by a second doctor, who confirmed the opinion of the first doctor and said that he was not unfit for duty. Because the unfortunate man could not carry on, he resigned from the Public Service on 25th June, 1957. Here is the remarkable thing about his case. A few months after he had retired from the department - he was only a worker - he found it necessary, sick as he was, to apply to the Commonwealth Employment Service for work. When he went to the Commonwealth Employment Service, its officers recognized that he was so ill that they could not offer him any work, even of the lightest character, and they advised him to apply for an invalid pension. He did so, and an invalid pension was granted.
He then applied for reconsideration of his case by the Public Service, but his request was refused. He had applied previously for a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman’s pension and on the first occasion his war pension was not disturbed. He eventually gathered some fresh evidence and went back again, and the tribunal then decided that although, in the meantime, he had been granted an invalid pension, his war pension ought to be reduced to 80 per cent. That was just vindictiveness on the part of certain people. Because this man has fought for his rights he is now being victimized and penalized.
Mr. Alderton has applied time and again to have his case reconsidered. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), to whom I appealed in at attempt to get justice for this exserviceman, stated when he wrote on 23rd February last -
I cannot agree that medical opinions relating to differing times and given for differing purposes can be said to be in conflict. The fact that Mr. Alderton was subsequently found permanently incapacitated for the purpose of payment of a social services pension cannot affect the issue so far as possible retirement from the Commonwealth Public Service is concerned.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not know why it is, but I always have an uncomfortable feeling after I have heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) fighting for the fighting man. I refer him to a number of speeches made by his confrere, the honorable member for Parkes(Mr. Haylen), during the time that Labour was in office, in which the honorable member answered the questions that the honorable member for East Sydney is now putting to the Parliament. He stated that honorable members hear only of the cases that are not accepted and never hear of the great majority that are accepted. Furthermore, on going through the speeches made during that time, I have been able to find few instances of the honorable member for East Sydney fighting for the rights of the fighting man.
I do not want to spend too much of my time on the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney, but he has alleged that there is a lack of sympathetic treatment of ex-servicemen by the Repatriation Department. I have had a reasonable amount of experience of these matters, in my own family circle and among my friends. I think that the magnificent thing about the repatriation services, and one for which all should be grateful, is that they are handled for ex-servicemen by exservicemen and not by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable member spoke about pulmonary tuberculosis and gassing. I had in my own family, in the case of my father, circumstances similar to those related by the honorable member. My father was in a gas area. He stayed there and did not complain. Then during the Labour regime, he was found to have pulmonary tuberculosis, and1 he had to struggle - rather convincingly - to be accepted as eligible for repatriation benefits. I admit that he was accepted. The honorable member spoke of a gentleman who wished to obtain an air-conditioning plant free of sales tax. I may say that my father was very short of breath and had difficulty in breathing, but he could not even get a fan from the government of the day.
There are not many things in the honorable member’s speech that are worth mentioning, so I shall go to the speech of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who stated that the Chifley Government had introduced medical benefits legislation. He rather sneeringly referred to the benefits introduced by the present Government and endeavoured to make much of the 5s. prescription fee. I am of the opinion that the Repatriation, Social Services and Health Departments of this Government have done a magnificent job. I compliment all the
Ministers concerned and .also the departments for the job they have done during the period that this Government has been in office. I do not say that because of any rancour against the previous government. It is natural for circumstances to change. This Government has endeavoured to improve benefits each year in accordance with the ability of the economy to finance the improvement. I think that tooth the honorable members for East Sydney and Grayndler said that many members of the Australian Country Party and other supporters of the Government were against the provision of benefits for all sections of the community. Again, I can speak from practical experience which, I think, is more than either of those honorable members can do. The honorable member for Grayndler said that he went to a doctor with a condition of conjunctivitis and had to pay 15s. for some drops. I suggest that the honorable member could well afford to pay that sum. I should object to the taxpayer of this country having to pay it for him.
Perhaps I could be considered one of the unfortunates about whom the honorable member for East Sydney spoke so sympathetically. I am a diabetic. I take insulin and have to pay 5s. for each prescription. I feel that it is wrong that so much money is being provided to give me benefits which I can afford to provide for myself. I remind the honorable member for East Sydney that I am a one-man-one-job member of this Parliament. I think that the money that is being spent in that way could with advantage be given to those people who have nothing. Instead, it is being used to keep me and the honorable member for Grayndler in conjunctivitis drops and other things that we can afford to buy for ourselves.
Another matter that I want, to mention is the practice of political parties of going out at election time and promising the people certain things which I frankly think some sections of the people could afford to provide for themselves. If they did, more money would be available for those who needed assistance. I think that this practice is resulting in a deterioration of moral fibre. We now tend to say, “ Let us spend it quickly. The Government will look after us forever.” The real purpose in my rising to-night was to speak further on an amendment to the Repatriation Bill moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). I am very sorry that he is not in the chamber this evening and I wish to convey to him my sincere sympathy in the very sad circumstances which have arisen. During the debate on the Repatriation Bill, he moved an amendment to provide medical benefits for the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. I support him entirely.
I have explained to the committee and to ex-servicemen that the Government tries each year to increase repatriation and social service benefits within the limits of the economy. This year the Government has granted an increase of 10s. to the T.P.I, pensioner, and I hope that further increased benefits will be provided in the next Budget. I support the extension of medical benefits to the very deserving people such as the wives of T.P.I, ex-servicemen who have been under a great strain, in’ some cases since the First World War. I am sure that honorable members on both sides of the chamber agree that the women deserve those benefits.
I remind the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, who has been interjecting persistently, that if the Labour Party had done its homework before moving amendments to the Repatriation Bill the T.P.I, ex-servicemen would have had cause to be more appreciative of the Opposition’s efforts. I believe that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did consult one or two representatives of the T.P.I, ex-servicemen in Victoria about these matters. They have asked me whether he spoke and I said that to the best of my knowledge, he had not spoken on this matter. They were very surprised.
– You must have been asleep.
– I could have been asleep, but I doubt it because this is a matter in which I have more interest than the honorable member for’ Kingsford-Smith has, I am sure. [Quorum formed.] As I was saying, the Government has reason to be proud of its record in repatriation and social services. The official journal of the returned servicemen’s league has complimented this Government on its repatriation benefits, but it has not had too many pleasant things to say about the Labour Government.
The honorable member for Grayndler referred to the lack of benefits for dental care. I think that such benefits should be provided for those who cannot afford to pay for dental services, but I can assure the honorable member that the medical benefits provided in Australia are firstrate compared with those in other parts of the world. I had the misfortune to break a tooth while I was in London and I rereceived some treatment there. I could not get back to Australia quickly enough to get a denture that fitted me. If the honorable member for Grayndler has a similar experience, I advise him to get back to Australia as quickly as possible for treatment. The honorable member referred to the Parisian scheme of benefits during pregnancy. I think it is a very good scheme but I do not agree that we should introduce it here. We have our own ways of doing things and I think we are doing them very well. However, I do hope the Government will consider the plight of the wives of T.P.I, ex-servicemen and introduce medical benefits either before or in the next budget.
.- I wish to direct attention to a matter which concerns the Repatriation Department, and I propose to read extracts from a letter I have received from an ex-serviceman. He enlisted on 15th May, 1942, and was discharged medically unfit on 15th September, 1945, three years and four months after he enlisted. He was granted a 10 per cent, pension on discharge, but the pension ceased in January, 1960. In his letter, he commented on the benefits granted under the provisions of the Repatriation Act, as follows: -
It would be interesting to find out how many ex-servicemen who, in the past receive J a 10 or IS per cent, pension, have been scrubbed in order that such a grandiose hand-out could be made. I know for sure that many have lost their pensions in the last six months, and I am one in that category. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not whinging about losing the pension for myself, but I think it is a pretty lousy confidence trick on the part of the Prime Minister to save a few bob to dress the Budget window. It was rather obvious that such a thing was in mind when the last pension review took place, because the majority of those under review were low percentage pensions. I have checked with some of the men who were out at Caulfield and each of them experienced the same treatment.
I appealed against the decision, but it did no good whatever. I was told that the pension ceased forthwith.
What appalled me was the fact that the pension was paid for fourteen years, and when a man is getting on in years, it is taken away from him. I was pensioned on the grounds of neurosis, caused by service, and fully accepted at the time of discharge by a Medical Board. Surely it stands to reason that the effects will be felt as time goes by. I think that the Government may be embarrassed if its shabby trick is shown up, and in any case it would be gratifying to ex-servicemen to find out what powers the Repatriation Department has to cancel a pension that has been held for so many years. Another point of interest is just how much responsibility the department will take in the hospitalization of these men in the event of illness in the future. Do they have to go once again through all the rigmarole of proof of entitlement?
I bring this letter to the notice of the Repatriation Department through the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) who is at the table. I hope he will show that extract to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) and make the circumstances known. If the Minister wishes to have the name of this exserviceman who served with the Royal Australian Air Force, I shall be only too pleased to give it to him. I feel there is sound ground for this criticism. This man checked with several men in the low pension group and all of them had the same experience. Small pensions of 10 to 15 per cent, were cancelled for no apparent reason. His idea is that this was to save money so that the Government could give a hand-out to other ex-servicemen in the recent Budget. I leave the matter there and ask that it be investigated. I do not intend to take up further time of the committee.
.- It will not do any harm to repeat what the Minister for Health (Dr. Cameron) said yesterday. He stated that expenditure involved in respect of the national health scheme has grown from £7,000,000 in 1950 to £73,000,000 in 1960. That fact needs to be emphasized particularly for the benefit of our critics on the other side of the chamber. The national health scheme has been gradually extended to the great benefit of the health of the people of Australia; nevertheless, certain people with great enthusiasm and sentimentality continually advocate extensions of the scheme. I was particularly interested to-night to hear the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) urge an extension of benefits to such a degree that they led me to think that eventually they will recommend a scheme of no work and free food. That type of irresponsibility can be only regretted, and I am sure that it does not appeal to the electors whom those honorable members represent.
I believe the time has come for some reflection on how far we can go. A warning bell should be rung, because we are in danger of gradually leading ourselves into complete nationalization of medicine; and that must be avoided at all costs. We are a young, virile nation of independent people. Too much loss of independence would be bad for us and the disadvantages would far outweigh the advantages. The disadvantages can be classified under two main headings. First, the granting of additional benefits would involve huge additional costs in control and administration; and secondly, and by far more important, it would breed a dependent people with no sense of responsibility. A virile nation is not made up of dependent people, because dependence breeds more dependence and eventually destroys the standard of living in the community; and that is the very thing we are trying to improve.
I believe that the introduction of the 5s. charge for medical prescriptions was a step in the right direction. It enabled the Government to apply benefit to drugs the high cost of which fell heavily on the individual. At the same time it gave the people the feeling that at least they were making some contribution towards the scheme and it also helped to eliminate the tendency to waste which is associated with benefits that are provided completely free. The general public who are not in close touch with the administration of our health scheme cannot have the faintest idea of the problems involved and are therefore intolerant and highly critical of what appears on the surface to be small anomalies. This applies not only to the laymen but also unfortunately to some professional people.
I remind the House and the public that this scheme involves enormous sums of money. Very often an additional ls. or 2s. in the price of a drug can mean the addition of £25,000 or £30,000 to be paid by the taxpayers. Amounts which may seem small individually are enormous in the aggregate. The scheme is tied up also with powerful organizations such as the British Medical Association, pharmaceutical guilds and drug manufacturers. In this connexion I should like to sound another warning. These organizations have a great responsibility to play the game, and in all fairness it must be acknowledged that to a very large extent they do so. However, unfortunately it is a fact that no matter how honorable and ethical the vast majority may be, there are always, so to speak, a few bad apples in every case; and these cause the trouble, particularly where large sums of money are involved. These organizations have a strong obligation to keep their problem children in control so that the bad apples do not spoil the whole case.
Any one who has followed the trend of medicine and medical practice in America must be very disturbed. A recent report disclosed that a researcher, William Michelfelder, after an exhaustive analysis of drug companies, and after analysing hospital charges and doctors’ fees, came to the startling conclusion that it is cheaper to die. We must not be complacent and say that it cannot happen here. We have said that before in relation to other matters and have then found how wrong we can be. I think the report to which I have referred is sufficiently important for me to quote a few extracts from it. One extract reads -
The cost of medical care has grown to such enormous proportions in the U.S. that a lengthy or complicated illness will not only destroy the savings of the great majority of the population but can even plunge many into debt.
Those who criticize our national health scheme should realize how adequate are our controls and how proud we should be to have such a scheme. The report contained this further statement -
High on the list of factors causing the fantastic cost of medical care in America is the excessive cost of drugs and prescriptions.
It was factually established by the laymen on the Senate sub-committee that drug manufacturers spent more than 300 million dollars in one year selling brand names to the medical societies and the individual doctor.
Often these brand names are merely minor variants of a competitor’s product or of a drug which is generally available to the chemist and could be compounded cheaply for a prescription.
By taking out innumerable patents, the drug manufacturers have been able to prevent chemists from compounding prescriptions.
Respectable colleges of pharmacy still teach the art of compounding, but the number of prescription items to be compounded by the ethical and honorable retail pharmacist is now practically zero.
Instead the drug companies patent their brands and then unleash an all-out promotion assault on doctors to prescribe according to their particular brand.
I repeat that it might be said that it cannot happen here; nevertheless we should take this as a warning. It does highlight the enormous responsibility the British Medical Association has constantly and ruthlessly to guard the medical profession. A warning has been sounded in recent publications in Australia commenting on the Victorian Branch of the British Medical Association’s rules of ethics and its association with the Optical Prescriptions Spectacle Makers Proprietary Limited. The high ethical standards of the B.M.A. must be maintained at all costs. Like Caesar’s wife, its members must be absolutely above suspicion. The medical profession is so highly regarded in Australia that it has the complete confidence of the public. This confidence must be maintained at all costs if our national health scheme is to continue in its present form.
It is timely to comment at this stage on the recent agitation by the Australian Optometrical Association for recognition. I believe that it has a very strong case for recognition. The field of optometry overlaps most definitely into the field of medicine - the specialist medical field in particular. At the outset let me make it clear that I do not for one moment advocate that the field of optometry should be included in our national health scheme. On the contrary, I would be opposed to this. People should stand on their own feet in meeting optometrical expenses which are not a big item to the individual and which cannot embarrass the family unit. These are largely normal expenses, and the supply of spectacles should not be included in the national health scheme.
So much for the actual supply of spectacles. The main point that must be accepted in the common interest is that tho optometrist is a legally qualified professional man who is registered to practice in the field of optometry. He is a specialist in this field. As optometry is the detection, measurement and correction of defective vision, and as it is estimated that at least one-third of the population will need spectacles some day, we have here enormous scope for the detection of other defects and diseases of the eye. In diseases of this kind reference is made to the medical specialist and/ or the ophthalmologist - the eye specialist - and I believe, therefore, that it is in the public interest for these two professions to work in liaison and not as separate jealous competitors. The important part played by the British Medical Association in protecting the medical profession and the public against unqualified persons must be recognized, but this tight control can be carried to extremes. If too tight a control were exercised we would find that professional monopoly and not the public interest would be the prime consideration.
The first important step in bringing about a liason is recognition by the national health scheme that optometrists give specialist treatment. At present we have the ridiculous situation of a trained professional optometrist, on finding that a patient needs specialized medical attention, having to tell the patient to see his general practitioner from whom he must obtain a letter to see a specialist. In practice, all that the general practitioner does is to sign a form which the patient takes to the specialist.
Direct association between the optometrist and the eye doctor is very important. Undoubtedly the system of reference is necessary for many reasons which are wellknown to all honorable members, but who is more capable and qualified to do the referring than an optometrist who has had much greater specialised training in this field than has the general practitioner? I believe that a greater degree of co-operation can be obtained. The recognition of optometrists would save the Government, the medical benefits funds and the patients money and time, and would result in a better service to the patients. I believe that the optometrists would perform this work in the ordinary course of their duties without charge, as in fact they do now, in return for status and recognition.
I sincerely trust that the Minister will review this situation because at least this one anomaly can be adjusted without cost.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Yesterday I listened very attentively while the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who is now at the table, dealt with various matters that had been raised in the debate on these estimates up to that time. I was very interested in the wide and varied subjects with which the Minister dealt, but I was disappointed that he failed - intentionally or unintentionally - to refer to the matter of mental illness which was raised yesterday by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), both of whom come from Victoria.
It is apparent that honorable members on both sides of the chamber are developing an interest in this national problem of mental health to which I think the Minister should direct his attention more closely in the future In reply to a question to-day, a very responsible member of the Cabinet said that if the State governments raised the matter of mental health this Government would have a look at it.
We know that in 1955 legislation was introduced to assist in the building of mental institutions. I am sure that the Minister for Health will be the first to agree that great progress has been made in recent times in the treatment of mental illness in Australia. I cannot help but recall a statement which was made in this House by the Minister’s predecessor when dealing with the prescribing of life-saving drugs and the Government’s plans in relation, to pharmaceutical benefits generally. The former Minister said that if only a percentage of sick people could have their period of illness reduced and so be returned to industry more rapidly than otherwise would be the case, not only would the individuals themselves benefit greatly, but the national wealth would he increased.
I put it to the Minister, although being a professional man he probably knows it better than I do. that we have now reached the stage in the treatment of mental illness where, if treatment is undertaken early enough, it is possible to return to industry quickly many of the people who otherwise would remain in mental hospitals for a long time. The honorable member for Henty told us that at present we have about 35,000 people in mental hospitals in Australia. On the basis of our present rate of national growth he assessed that in Victoria alone 1,000 additional people would enter mental hospitals each year.
– I said over the next four years.
– I thank the honorable member for the correction. 1 remember seeing a television programme in Sydney about twelve or eighteen months ago in which a very renowned professor stated emphatically that if the proper treatment could be obtained early enough, a great many cases of mental illness would be cured. He said also that if an analysis were made of the patients, it would be found that invariably the onset of the mental illness dated back to some time in the patient’s life, even to childhood.
Let us get away from the terms that were used in other days to describe this kind of illness. With early examination and voluntary treatment, and with the modern methods of handling such cases the prospective increase of 1,000 in the number of mental patients in Victoria over the next four years could probably be cut by at least 50 per cent. In addition, many people now in mental institutions would probably be restored to health. Yesterday, when the Minister was speaking in this debate, 1 interjected to ask whether tranquillizing drugs would be included in the new list under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I am sure that he knew I had in mind the proper treatment of mental patients for at any rate the first six months after their discharge from mental institutions and during their return to industry. I ask the Minister to call together the superintendents of all the mental hygiene institutions in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland - I do not go beyond those States - and to have a heart to heart discussion with them. He, as a Minister in the Cabinet of the Commonwealth Government, is in a position to take a humane step in this year when the importance of health is being underlined throughout the world. He could do something worth while that would receive worldwide recognition. The opportunity exists to call these officers together. If it cannot be done formally, let it be done informally. 1 have discussed the problem with some of these superintendents, who have told me that they would welcome even the slightest monetary assistance to help them to assist patients to take their places in industry. I ask that tranquillizing drugs be supplied free of charge to patients discharged from mental institutions. When such a person seeks employment with the average employer, the first question he is asked is, “ Where were you employed last?” That is a question that he feels he cannot answer. Having been asked that question at potential places of employment on the first day after his discharge he is so disturbed that it is necessary for him to take a tranquillizing drug; otherwise he will be on the road back to the mental institution. After-care is most important, and in this regard the Government could set a standard.
Mental illness has become a pressing world problem. I had a look at the position in the United States on the last occasion 1 was there. There is a serious mental health problem in that country, as well as in Australia, where we have made such progress with our health services generally It is regrettable to find that up to this stage we have neglected one major step thai could return many people to industry and bring happiness to them. I appeal to the Minister not to let any more time go by. not to wait an approach by State governments, but to take action on a departmental level to discuss matters with the superintendents in charge of mental hygiene institutions.
The honorable member for Henty and the honorable member of Batman referred to pensions for aged mental patients. I am more concerned with the younger ones, who can be discharged from mental institutions. Lel us look at mental illness in the same way as we regard any other illness. The Minister’s predecessor in office said that every one of these patients who was returned to industry meant added wealth to the community. I have had several cases brought under my notice. The last one that was brought before me was that of a man who had been for 22 years in a mental institution but is to-day back in industry, operating a lift. He had to get a job quickly, and he was fortunate in that he had a friend who was able to assist him to do that. Immediately upon his discharge he had to pay for the tranquillizing drugs that he needed, so it was important that he obtain employment. Immediately these persons are asked, “ Where did you work last?” the toll begins to be taken of them.
I am not appealing for assistance for people who are capable of helping themselves. For too long in this country - I am fearful that the position sometimes still obtains - a person who suffered a mental illness was treated by his family as an outcast. There was a feeling of disgrace in the family because of the manner in which mental illness was referred to in years gone by. In this year, 1960, the opportunity exists for the Government and the Parliament to set a standard in helping those in the community who are least able to help themselves, and who receive the least help from those who should, if possible, be taking care of them.
I was glad to find that the honorable member for Henty took an interest in the problem. I know that the honorable member for Batman, too, is interested in it. If we can get the same degree of interest on the top level, something substantial may be done. If the Minister talks with the superintendents of the institutions at Parramatta and Gladesville, or of any similar establishments in Victoria, he will be told the same story. If we do not give financial assistance and tranquillizing drugs to discharged mental patients until they can get back into employment we put a stopper on their opportunities for rehabilitation.
The honorable member for Henty said that there were 35,000 persons in mental hospitals in Australia. If, at the end of four years, we had reduced the number to 25,000, that would be a fine contribution to the national wealth, even if we had paid for the upkeep and treatment of the 1,000 discharged patients from the time of their discharge until, say, three months afterwards or whenever they returned to employment. If we did that, at this time when the world is especially interested in health, we would be setting a standard in the care of mental patients which might be well looked at by other countries. We know that our social service programme is studied in other parts of the world.
The present position in Australia in relation to mental patients is a standing disgrace to every Parliament in the country. In a thirty-minute speech last night, the Minister referred to work being undertaken in every other field of health. It seems silly that we should turn our backs completely upon the section of the community that is least able to help itself. We have done much in other fields but we have neglected mental illness, which might befall any human being. Professor Trethowan has stated that this problem should be looked at right from school age. He believes that at that age there may be detected the beginnings of a mental illness that will not become evident until later years.
I was disappointed last night when the Minister did not say anything to show that he is taking an interest in the unfortunates who are calling loudly for help from those who are interested in social services. No social service system, however good it may be, can be satisfactory if it neglects the section of the community that is least able to assist itself. This is not a question to be left to the States. It is not sufficient to say that in 1955 the Parliament passed an act to make available certain funds to be expended in the building of institutions. That was an acceptance by this Parliament of some responsibility. If we are the pivot upon which health organizations should operate and upon which social services must operate, let us have a report as quickly as possible on what can and will be done to help the unfortunate people who suffer from mental illness and who are crying out for the justice which can be meted out by this Parliament.
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.30 a.m. (Thursday).
– Mr. Chairman, may I be permitted to bid you good morning and apologize to the committee for detaining honorable members at this late hour. But I think it is necessary that 1 should say something in reply to the references which have been made’ to social services during the discussion of the estimates for the Department of. Social Services.
– Mr. Chairman, I call your attention to the state of the committee.
Hie CHAIRMAN. - Ring the bells.
– Mr. Chairman, I direct your attention to the fact that the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) has left the chamber while the bells are ringing.
– Order! The honorable member for Phillip is one of the Whips. [Quorum formed.] (Mr. Aston having returned to the chamber) -
– Order! The honorable member for Phillip should not have left the chamber while the bells were ringing.
– I have already apologized1 for detaining the committee at this early hour of the morning. I had reached the point when I wa’s about to direct the attention of honorable members to’ a reference made by my colleague, the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), yesterday afternoon when replying to remarks made by honorable members during the discussion of the estimates for the Department of Health. He said, among other things, that the progress made in the expansion of the- health services in the short space of ten yeaTS- a single decade-was shown by the increase in expenditure from’ £7,000,000 to £73,000,000. If that is true of the Department of Health-and who am I to doubt it - let me say that the same kind of progress has been made in the expansion of the services made available by this Government in the field of social services.
May I be permitted here to remind the committee that it took 40 years for the original rate of pension to rise from’ 10s. a week to 37s. 6d. a week? It took 40 years for the permissible income to rise from the original 10s. a week to 20s. a week and, for the first 40 years, property exempt t-ion remained fixed and constant at the original £50. Similarly,- it took 40 years for this- Parliament to fake some sort of appropriate action to> deal- with the rehabilitation of the physically handicapped. So, for the first 40 years, very little progress was made in the field of social services.
There has since been a complete transformation. I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that whereas in 1949 the total expenditure on- health and social services was confined Within the limits of £80,000,000, to-day we are discussing estimates for two departments, whose total expenditure exceeds £330,000,000. So, if social service progress can be measured in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, that is the kind of progress that has been made in the last ten years.
Not only have the rates of pensions been increased from- time to time, not only have the1 means tests been liberalized from time to time, bringing into’ the scheme of social services- countless thousands of people who had previously been” excluded, but all sorts of new social services have been introduced by this Government: in the last eleven years* For example, Mr. Chairman, it Was in the last decade that a pensioner medical service and a pensioner pharmaceutical service were introduced. It took 50 years of social service experience before we conceived the idea of bringing down a piece of legislation that would- assist- the churches and charitable organizations to expand and provide accommodation for aged’ and homeless people. It took 50 years - and” I say this with a sense of shame - for this Parliament to recognize the children of widows after the first child. For 50 years this Parliament conceded that a- widow with one dependent child was entitled to an allowance for that child. Successive governments refused to recognize the subsequent childten. The change in that respect was in itself a major change. It took 50 years for this government to introduce a scheme ot supplementary rent allowances for pensioners. During the whole of the previous 50 years- it was recognized that there were people iri desperate economic circumstances at the’ base of the social services structure, but that problem, like a great many others, remained unsolved until this Government introduced the supplementary assistance scheme.- lt took 50 years to eliminate the discrimination levelled against the aboriginal natives of our country. For 50 years successive governments said that it was beyond the constitutional competence of the Commonwealth Parliament to make social service provision for the aboriginal natives on the same basis as provision was made for the European citizens of our country, lt remained for this Government to take the decisive step of removing that discrimination against the indigenous population of our country. It took 50 years to liberalize the property means test to a maximum of £2,250 for a single person or £4,500 for a married couple. By that very process again, tens of thousands of people were brought into the scheme of social services who had previously been excluded.
Lastly - although I could extend the list indefinitely - 1 want again to make some reference to the merged means tests. Successive governments have recognized the palpable injustices perpetrated by the application of the means test in its traditional farm. Admittedly it was a complex and difficult problem, but in the end it was this Government which solved that problem and brought down a practicable solution that will put people with property on a parity with people who have income, so far as social service benefits are concerned. These, surely, are practical demonstrations of the progress that has been made in the last few years.
During the debate on the estimates for the Department of Social Services references have been made to the contributory social security schemes that are in operation in other parts of the world. Honorable members have indicated from time to time that they favour the introduction of a compulsory contributory scheme to solve the everlasting problem of the government of the day, no matter of what political character it may be, being faced, every time it is planning a budget, with a review of social service expenditure and with scaling up that expenditure consistent with the financial capacity of the community to pay.
I often wonder whether the people who support the adoption of a compulsory contributory social security scheme know just exactly how such schemes work and what has been the experience in countries that have introduced them. Early in the morning though it is, may I make passing reference to the cheapest of all these schemes in the world? I refer to the scheme that is in operation in the United Kingdom. Let me say first that all contributory schemes suffer from at least one fatal flaw. There is no known way to stabilize the value of money. Because of that fact the contributions that have been arbitrarily fixed on an actuarial basis in the first place have proved to be wholly inadequate to provide social service benefits consistent with the needs of those who needed assistance.
So all these schemes have had to be reviewed - sometimes several times in a single year and certainly many times in a decade. It has been necessary to lift the contributions that have been visted upon the employee in the first place, upon the employer in the second place, and upon the State in the-third place, in an effort to meet the actuarial position that has developed because there is no known way to fix the value of money. When people talk of contributory schemes of this kind, they almost invariably think in terms of contributions of so many shillings per week. But shillings per week are quite inadequate to provide a contributory social security scheme that is of any value to a community.
May I be permitted, Mr. Chairman, to run briefly over the weekly contributions that were necessary last year to maintain in some degree of actuarial parity the social security scheme that has been adopted by the United Kingdom? Honorable members will be astonished to learn that the weekly contributions made in the case of an employed man in the United Kingdom in 1959 totalled 20s. 10.4d. That was made up in this way: The insured man paid 9s. lid. a week, his employer paid 8s. 3d., and the State paid 2s. 8.4d. The total contribution in the case of an employed woman was 16s. 11. 2d., made up of her own contribution of 8s. a week, the employer’s contribution of 6s. 9d. and the State’s contribution of 2s. 2.2d. The self-employed man paid 12s. a week. Because he had no employer, there was no employer contribution. The State paid 3s. 3d., making a total of 15s. 3d. a week. ‘ The self-employed woman paid 10s. a week and in her case the
State paid 2s. 9d., making a total of 12s. 9d. The non-employed man paid 9s. 7d. a week and in his case the State paid 2s. 6d., making a total of 12s. Id. The non-employed woman paid 7s. 7d. a week and in her case the State paid 2s., making a total of 9s. 7d. They were the contributions in 1959, and they had only been recently increased.
In that year it was recognized that those contributions were quite inadequate to maintain the scheme on a sound actuarial basis. So amending legislation was brought down last year to increase the contributions and to make provision for an additional payment by both the employee ana the employer of 4± per cent, of the income of a person receiving £9 a week or more. It will be seen that there is no end to what must be done under a contributory scheme. It is just not possible to evolve a scheme that will provide for fixed rates of contribution and fixed rates of payment that are adequate to the needs of a community. It is necessary not only to lift the contributions substantially from time to time, thus taking a very large part of the wages and salaries of the work force, but also to make budget appropriations of great magnitude to meet the leeway that exists between the contributions and the total expenditure. The United Kingdom scheme faces a deficit of some £400,000,000 a year, and it will remain at that figure for the foreseeable future. Schemes of that kind must be recognized as being problems that are just as great as, if not greater than, the problem that confronts this country when it has to determine social service benefits, allowances, pensions and payments in each annual budget.
In addition, it is necessary to realize that social service benefits paid under a contributory scheme such as the scheme which operates in the United Kingdom leave gaps that have to be filled. Moreover, in the United Kingdom provision is made for supplementary assistance. Where the contributory scheme is quite inadequate, the State has to make provision for another social service scheme to be superimposed on the contributory scheme and so aggravate the general situation, if I may use that term. I should like honorable members who devote themselves to a study of the matter to realize that contributions, if they are determined at all, have to be deter mined at a comparatively high rate. Honorable members must take cognizance of the fact that a supplementary scheme is necessary and that the drain on the budget would continue regardless of the existence of the contributory scheme, and that the rates of pension could never be fixed permanently. Those rates would have to be under constant review and some one within the Government would have to determine the movement of those rates and of the contributions.
So I return to where I began. Just as in the case of the Department of Health it is necessary for the Government to move slowly towards a solution of public health problems, so it is necessary for it to move slowly in the case of the Department of Social Services or of any other department which recognizes the strain that is placed on the work force to make these resources available to the Government without any sense of measuring the country’s production against such huge sums of money. 1 have made a rough calculation of the additional cost of the proposals that have been suggested by honorable members during this debate. To my consternation, I discovered that the additional cost would be in excess of £320,000,000. If that amount were added to the sum of £330,000,000 to which we are now committed, the total expenditure would be £650,000,000. That, of course, would be beyond the financial capacity of the community and taxation at a level that would provide for social services the gigantic sumrequired would be beyond the capacity of the work force of the country to bear. So social services, like everything ‘else, must be measured against the productive capacity of the community, and that is being done.
.Mr. Chairman, as a mark of respect for that highland country from which the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) emigrated to this country - an even more wonderful country - I intend to abstain from making any derogatory references to-night to the Department of Social Services. I understand that about 1,500 years ago the Roman wall between England and Scotland began to crumble. The Scots then found their way down into England, and I presume that that is why the English have a decent health scheme to-day. In recent years, as each Budget has come along, I have described the Government’s achievements as being like those of a mountain which laboured and brought forth a mouse. But this time, I intend to congratulate the Minister, for on this occasion the Government has laboured and brought forth something a little larger than usual - the new merged means test, of which I express my appreciation and that of quite a large number of people who will benefit from it.
In the limited time available, it is impossible to do justice to more than one or two aspects of the National Health Act, and I desire to refer only to two omissions from it - the absence of provision for any assistance to people who require glasses and the absence of provision for those who need dental attention. In practice, a person who has difficulty with his vision can, by observing the following ritual, claim a benefit under the rules of a medical benefits fund. First, he has to go to an optometrist, then to an ophthalmologist, and then to a general practitioner, who refers him back to the ophthalmologist. If the ophthalmologist prescribes glasses, the patient is channelled to a place which simply dispenses glasses. We have been told this on the authority of the medical benefit organizations. The patient certainly is given a run-round before he gets any help from the medical benefits fund, and even then he receives only a supplementary fund rebate. No Commonwealth benefit is yet payable for optical treatment unless subterfuge is resorted to. A patient referred by a .general practitioner to an ophthalmologist is, in most instances, very thoroughly examined by the ophthalmologist. That is not disputed. But in most instances, the end result is a prescription for glasses. No Commonwealth benefit is payable in respect of those glasses, although the patient may claim the expense as an allowable deduction for income tax purposes, and this is where subterfuge is resorted to.
The ophthalmologist who, after all, does fairly well out of the National Health Act, manages to do so by prescribing eye drops or eye ointment along with the glasses. So, regardless of the need for eye drops or ointment, these are prescribed and the patient, unless he is better informed, proceeds along the garden path to a pharmacist to whom he pays 5s., or perhaps 10s. if he has drops and ointment, and he subsequently struggles with the claim form which he must complete in order to claim a rebate from the medical benefits fund after he has paid the general practitioner and the ophthalmologist, and has produced a receipt to prove that he has paid.
– He needs a refund after that.
– Yes. The principle of free choice is supposed to be observed in the national health scheme, but the two most powerful medical benefit associations, by a policy of exclusion and discrimination, have undermined and negated an amendment to the National Health Act for which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menizes) was responsible. He caused the act to be amended to omit benefit for refraction from the list of government benefits. The purpose behind this was to bring about fair competition between ophthalmologists and optometrists where only refraction was involved. As a result of the policy of exclusion and discrimination practised by the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, and the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria, this purpose has not been achieved. The remedy is to amend the act so that all the medical benefit funds and not just a few will be obliged to give rebates for refraction by registered practitioners. And, in the eyes of the Taxation Branch of the Treasury, the Repatriation Commission, and, through them, the Commonwealth itself, the optometrist is a registered practitioner. He is the product of a university, and State laws in all the States see to it that before he becomes a registered practitioner he is thoroughly trained and qualified.
As a first and immediate step, it should be made a rule, therefore, that any fund which pays benefits from its own funds for spectacles shall include in its list of benefits a benefit for “ spectacles prescribed by a legally qualified practitioner “, or one which is described by some similar phrase. This would remove the objectionable limitation under which benefits are paid in respect only of spectacles prescribed by a doctor. Mr. Chairman, in view of the fact that 70 per cent. of the people who experience difficulty with their vision go or persist in going to qualified optometrists for advice and help, there are cogent and powerful reasons why the discrimination practised against optometrists should cease.
I come now to the need for participation by dentists in the health scheme. The Australian Labour Party stated in its policy for the last general election in 1958 that it would introduce a scheme under which all children below the age of sixteen would be able to obtain free dental treatment. We genuinely and sincerely believe that this was possible of accomplishment, and we would have honored our promise. However, this is history now. We did not become the government and the medical practitioners remain, and seem likely to remain, the only professional people to derive financial benefit from the national health scheme. It is a well-known fact that prior to the introduction of this scheme, very many doctors gave of their time and skill for the most part freely and gratuitously, but after the introduction of the health scheme, most doctors were absolved from financial worry. I have no quarrel with that. I realize that many years of study and, quite frequently, great financial sacrifice by them and their parents merit some reward.
At the present time, many dentists are doing precisely what the doctors used to do, and I feel strongly that most dentists would welcome a scheme similar to the medical benefits scheme. If the people are to continue to be denied schemes such as the one which we proposed and that which the British people enjoy, as an alternative the Government could adopt a scheme similar to that which has been tried and proved by the New South Wales Teachers Federation. Under that scheme, after twelve months’ membership a member becomes entitled to the following benefits: -
Extractions - 6s. a tooth.
Fillings - 10s. a filling.
Crown or bridge - 10s. a tooth.
Cleaning and scaling - 6s.
X-ray - 5s. a single tooth, 15s. for the whole mouth.
Orthodontia - £5 for each member and each of his dependants during membership.
Periodontia - £5 for each member and each of his dependants during membership.
This scheme has been tried and proved, and in the absence of a scheme of the kind which we would introduce, the Government would do well to examine ways and means by which the scheme of the Teachers Federation could be adopted. There is nothing empirical about it and no risk of failure to worry about.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the men and women of Australia who are bringing up families need and deserve more assistance than they are getting. On the surface, this country wears an air of prosperity. The working people of Australia owe the hirepurchase companies a total of £400,000,000, but they can get for 5s. a prescription for a tranquillizer if it is on the prescribed list, and outwardly they look well dressed reasonably healthy and contented. In conclusion I remind honorable members that a country suffering from inflation is like a person with galloping consumption - he never looks as healthy as he does a week or two before he dies.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise at this early hour in the morning to voice a protest on behalf of a large number of my constituents against certain unsatisfactory features of the National Health Act. I also voice a protest at the inadequacy of certain payments made under the social services legislation. I express the annoyance, disgust and resentment of a number of ex-servicemen at the treatment by the Repatriation Department of ex-servicemen who have been unable to convince the department of the justice of their case and of their need for assistance. I have a number of letters from Constituents of mine dealing with this matter, but I do not propose to wade through them this morning. I make an emphatic protest also at the Government’s failure to face up to its responsibilities in these matters.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) praised the great advances that have been made in social service payments in recent years. I do not intend to deal with social service payments because they were fully debated when the social services legislation was before the Parliament. On that occasion honorable members were able to discuss these matters in detail and the Opposition was able to submit to the Parliament positive proposals in relation to social services.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the failure of the Government to increase the funeral benefit, which has stood at the sum of £10 since this Government came to office. I direct attention to the Government’s failure to give justice to dependent wives of pensioners. The allowance for those women is scandalously inadequate. The Government has also failed to increase child endowment. On other occasions I have expressed the view that child endowment should be paid so long as the child remains at school, and I take this opportunity to voice a protest again at the Government’s failure to provide adequately in this way for the growing population of the nation. The Government has failed also to increase the maternity allowance.
The new merged means test is good and I feel sure that all of us appreciate the Government’s action in introducing this reform. No doubt it has been introduced because of the constant efforts of pensioners and because of continued agitation in this place by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and certain honorable members on the other side. The introduction of this dearly-won benefit gives us cause for some satisfaction.
However, I am concerned that the benefit that is to flow from the merged means test is to be delayed. The Minister for Social Services claimed that finances were not adequate to provide all the benefits that are required. If that is so, I submit that the Government has a responsibility to face up to its obligation to obtain the money necessary to give to the people of Australia a benefit scheme capable of meeting all their requirements. Plans along those lines have been submitted from time to time, but the Minister always says that such a scheme is not practicable. His attitude typifies the defeatist outlook and the despair of this Government, which has failed to face up to its responsibility to meet the pressing needs of the people.
When the Labour Party was in office the National Welfare Fund was becoming financially stronger year by year and was able increasingly to meet the calls that were made upon it. This Government has discontinued the former method of operating the National Welfare Fund. The vast sums of money that are obtained from the people by way of the social services contribution are not being used in the way originally intended. The Government has failed to repeal the pay-foil tax.
The Government should face up to its responsibility to meet the needs of the community and tell the people how much money is required to carry out an adequate programme of social services. It should pay some heed to the necessity to provide some assistance for people who require glasses and to institute a dental benefits scheme. If the Government is not prepared to introduce a complete dental benefits scheme, at least it should introduce a scheme to care for the teeth of the children of this country. We all know that to some extent - possibly to a substantial extent - good health depends on having good teeth. But the Government has taken no action to improve the dental health of the community. I have before me a petition from people in my electorate asking that the Government introduce a dental benefits scheme. A report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 14th April, 1960, referred to the number of dentally unfit persons in the armed forces. The report stated -
A recent survey of nearly 24,000 National Servicemen showed 88 per cent, were dentally unfit, the Minister for the Army, Mr. J. O. Cramer said to-day.
He said only about 3,000 were dentally fit.
That is an indictment of the Minister’s colleagues for their failure to face up to their responsibilities and ensure that the people of this country receive proper dental care. The health df young people is so important that it demands that some action be taken by the Government along the lines that I have suggested.
I want to refer as briefly as I can to the charge of 5s. for prescriptions under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. The Government’s list of approved drugs is inadequate. Many people who suffer from arthritis are dissatisfied because some medicines required in the treatment of their condition are not included. The Government’s faulty policy in this matter has been illustrated by the amendment to the list of medicines available under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Immediately upon the introduction of the revised scheme, on 1st March, seventeen pages of amendments were tabled. This shows that the scheme is half-baked and that the Government has not considered it carefully. It is little wonder that it aroused the resentment of the members of the British Medical Association and of many other people. I have here correspondence from the British Medical Association in which the association sets out its objections to what the Government has done, to its failure to have regard to the needs of the people and to the difficulties of many practitioners in following the table set out in the handbook.
The Sydney “Daily Mirror” of 10th May referred to the new pharmaceutical benefits scheme as “ the great drug bungle “. It said -
The Federal Government’s new pharmaceutical benefits scheme looks like going down to history as the most ill-conceived, bungled plan any Australian department ever tried to put into operation.
That statement confirms that there is throughout the land a feeling of dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of this matter.
I think it all comes back to the question of the payment of money into the various medical benefits funds established for this purpose. The Government, at the outset, shirked its responsibility. It refused to face its responsibility to control a medical benefits scheme itself. The Government could have set up a medical benefits scheme which would have resulted in money flowing into the Commonwealth’s coffers. The Commonwealth would not have made a profit and the whole of the money received from the community could have been returned in the form of improved benefits to the people. I have in my hand an annual report of the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South
Wales which shows that the profit made by that organization in the financial year 1958-59 was £357,565. This profit, made in one year, came from the subscriptions of people seeking hospital and other care.
– Who controls that fund?
– This fund is controlled by private people. There ought to be a searching inquiry into all these funds. We should find out how much money is being received by them; how much is being returned in the way of benefits to the people who pay into them; how much is put into reserves; how much is put into new buildings and expansion; and how much is spent in extravagant and unnecessary ways.
– Are there any doctors in control of this fund?
– Certain doctors are interested in it. I draw attention, also, to the fact that many questionable organizations are collecting money from the public but are incapable of giving the benefits that they promise to give.
I have here a reply by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) to a letter in which I referred to him the case of a constituent of mine who had been paying substantial amounts into a fund. It was found that the organization had not been registered, yet it had been able to masquerade as a registered fund and collect money from the community although it was not able to deliver the goods. The best reply that the Minister could give to me was, not that the Commonwealth Government - which has a general responsibility for these benefits - would take action, but that I should ask the State Government to do something about it. In .view of the special circumstances, I think that the responsibility rested with the Commonwealth Government to clean up a matter of that kind. It is most unsatisfactory. It leaves the way open for charlatans - the get-rich-quick type of people - to invade this field, which should belong exclusively to the nation under some overall Commonwealth health plan or national insurance plan which would guarantee benefits to all the people of this country.
I am firmly of the opinion that an inquiry would reveal that if all the shillings now paid to these medical and hospital benefits funds were used for the purpose, a very satisfactory scheme could be introduced by the Commonwealth to meet the needs of the people. However, the Government is not concerned about the needs of the people. It is not concerned about giving the best benefits to the people. It is more concerned about permitting outside organizations to carry on for their own profit.
.The standard of health of the Australian community generally is rising and has been rising for many years. I think that the average expectation of life now is about fifteen years greater than it was in 1901. Surveys of the height and weight of Australian school children give constant indications of improved standards of physique. Theoretically, I suppose it is possible to sink the entire national income into health schemes, because the doctor belongs to a profession in which the more successful he is the more work he gives himself to do. If we die at 52, we have less need of the doctor than if we die at 67. As our lives are prolonged by the conquest of certain diseases, we find a rising incidence of certain other diseases - the diseases of later life.
It would be true to say that the rising health standards in Australia are not, in many respects, due so much to the medical profession itself as to what one might call “ medical engineering “ - to rising standards of sanitation and public health. The research conducted by the medical profession .plays a part in that but the actual work is carried out by other people. Better standards of refrigeration for the preservation of food and superior nutrition also play a part. If we can get a constantly improving standard of nutrition in the community - more intelligent eating, which involves keeping down the cost of protective foods, especially the proteins - then we shall have rising standards of health.
There is one respect in which the health of the Australian community is constantly deteriorating, and that is the standard of our teeth. Recently, a survey of 1 ,004 children at Medina in Western Australia revealed that only four children were without decayed teeth. I think that a part of the rising standard of living in Australia has been expressed in the unintelligent purchase of food, especially of sugar. I suppose that my colleagues from Queensland will not be nattered at the thought that the Queensland sugar industry is, in one respect, a producer of teeth decay, but that is so. In Australia we have the fantastic sugar consumption of 104 lb. per head per annum. A community which was educated in diet would reduce its sugar consumption and increase its meat consumption, thereby, I hope, compensating the people of Queensland for a fall in one respect by a rise in another. I want to say to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) that there is a place for his department in the battle for improved standards of dental health in our community.
A former member for Melbourne, the late Dr. Maloney, for many years in this Parliament advocated the provision of free milk for school children - and he was ridiculed in this Parliament. We now accept as a matter of course the provision of free milk for school children, financed by this Parliament. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are now advocating that the’ Commonwealth should interest itself in the subject of dental health. Very good reasons why it should not do so have been advanced by the Minister for Health, just as very good reasons were advanced against Dr. Maloney’s proposal. But we know that the time will come when the Commonwealth Government will have to consider interesting itself in dental health. Even if the Government does not intend to act at the present time I still suggest to the Minister that it would be valuable for the Department of Health to produce a thorough, systematic and well-illustrated pamphlet on the subject of the care of the teeth, with specific reference to diet, for distribution through the schools and parent organizations, in order to start the same sort of transformation of the thinking of the Australian community on this subject as occurred in respect of our standards of sanitation, which have been transformed over the last 50 or 60 years. The Government should not ignore dental health, a field in which our community is inferior to many others.
I direct the attention of the Minister to a book in the library which refers to the effort being made by Europeans in an
African community to teach the natives to care for their health. The teacher, whose mouth was full of filled teeth was assiduously demonstrating the use of a toothbrush to a crowd of native children who had never used a toothbrush in their lives, but whose teeth were perfect because they had in their diet no element that produced tooth decay. On a number of occasions the dental profession has tried to educate public opinion on this subject. Most of what is said to the Australian public on this matter comes from those in the dentifrice racket, who suggest that the care of the teeth is simply a matter of using certain brands of toothpaste. The education of the public on a subject of which, generally speaking, we show astonishing ignorance would be a contribution to the health of the Australian community. That subject is the excessive consumption in our diet of elements which, while making no contribution to nutrition, produce tooth decay.
Proposed votes agreed to.
- Mr. Speaker–
– Order! There is no business before the Chair.
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. There is business before the Chair. Certain honorable members desire to make personal explanations.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. In the late edition of yesterday’s Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ there is a report of a statement alleged to have been made by me at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party yesterday morning. That statement is distorted and false.
– I claim to have been misrepresented, Mr. Speaker, and I desire to make a personal explanation. In the late edition of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ of Wednesday, 5th October, certain remarks were alleged to have been made by me at Wednesday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I desire to say that the report of the remarks attributed to me is completely untrue and without foundation. In fact, I made no statement at that particular party meeting.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I will not detain the House for very long. I do not often speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House but, having had the opportunity of reading, for the first time, a speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at the Olympic Pool in Melbourne on 23rd September, I desire to make some remarks about it. The speech began as an historical review of events in Europe in the post-war years and ended as a McCarthylike diatribe in which reference was made to myself, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and some other people.
There is another aspect of the speech which I think is unworthy of the Prime Minister. I believe he demeaned his high office when he set out to argue, in a way that he would never have adopted in his younger, better and more liberal days, the case of a man who was dismissed from the Public Service. He said that a certain public servant who had once been a member of the Communist Party had been dismissed after ten weeks’ employment in the Attorney-General’s Department. But it was only when that person applied for permanent employment that he was dismissed. He had been occupying a position as a temporary employee. This man had not disclosed that he had once been a member of the Communist Party. I think he was wrong in not making that disclosure. When he was dismissed he was told that he could never again be appointed to a position in the Commonwealth Public Service. His case was argued in this House by the honorable member for East Sydney, and his position is still unresolved.
This man left the Communist Party in November, 1956, at the time of the Hungarian revolution. We welcomed to Australia two waves of migrants from Hungary; first, the Communists who left when they thought the anti-Communists had won and, secondly, the anti-Communists who left when they were “certain that the Communists, supported by Russian tanks, were gaining control of the country. We have never denied to those people who left Hungary at the time of the revolution an opportunity to earn a livelihood in this country. But the particular aspect of the speech to which I object is this -
It turned out, perhaps it should have been discovered a few weeks earlier, that this man had been a very active Communist, beginning in 1947. I quote the words of his champion in the Federal Parliament who brought the case up, Mr. Ward, MP. Mr. Ward said that this man was a Communist Party candidate for the Lakemba electorate of the State elections held in 1956. But in November, 1956, he was expelled from the Party.
The Prime Minister went on to say -
It might be said “Ah well, perhaps he was expelled from the Communist Party because he had repented, and had come out in opposition to their ideas.” I must confess that if a man wilh that record came along to me I don’t think I would set him loose among my private papers! Would you7
If that man had made an honest confession and had left the Communist Party, why should he not be trusted the same as anybody else? The Prime Minister continued -
But it turned out, according to Mr. Ward, that he was not expelled because he ceased to be a Communist. Not at all! He was expelled for “ criticising the people who were in charge of the Australian Communist Party for having suppressed the report of a speech by Mr. Khrushchev, denouncing the Stalin regime “.
I know a lot of people who were expelled from the Communist Party at that time. Some of them have been welcomed ir.to the Labour Party, because they were honest in their desire to join the only truly democratic force in this Country. They joined the Australian Labour Party. They know this man and they are satisfied that he, too, is no longer a Communist and is opposed to communism. I put it to the HOuse that the Prime Minister, instead of denouncing the man as he did, should have set up an appeal tribunal, such an the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada have, so that any person dismissed from the public service anywhere, in any position, can have his -case decided in a judicial manner and by people with judicial minds. The Prime Minister should not use an occasion such as a Liberal Party rally to rant about the menace of communism. His speech continued -
Even Mr. Calwell himself, who must personally have no sympathy whatever with the atheistic materialism of the Communist creed, was reported only a few years back as telling the New South Wales Labour Conference that “ Capitalism was the No. 1 enemy in Australia and Communism only No. 2”. If this means anything (and of course it may not) it means that he would regard the overthrow of Capitalism and the institution of State Socialism as a more important task than the’ defeat of our greatest external and internal enemy.
In those words he tried to tie the Australian Labour Party up with the Communist Party, both internationally and on the local level. He knows that that is completely false and that I have always been an opponent of communism. I hate communism, but I do not hate Communists or exCommunists. I am opposed to the whole Communist theory of life, and when I spoke at the New South Wales conference I said that out of monopolistic capitalism came all the evils that inflict the world to-day, including communism. The exploitation of the many in the interests of the few is the evil thing which gave us destitution, prostitution, war, misery and all the other things which are the concomitants of communism throughout the world. But the Prime Minister was not satisfied with misrepresenting the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) or the Australian Labour Party. He was not satisfied with maligning us. In an endeavour to prove his case about the menace of communism - he has done nothing about it in all the years he has been in power - he tried to prepare the ground for the next election on the Communist issue. I was in Canberra over the weekend and in the course of my peregrinations I got hold of a paper - it is an Australian paper - which published the following passage under the heading, “ Democracy in Practice “ -
Both national and world politics provide a fascinating subject for interested students of democracy in this day and age. Take the national scene first. Theoretically, Australia is a democracy with sovereign power remaining in the hands of the people. But how little removed in practice she is from dictatorship becomes quickly apparent. Legislation, unheralded at election time, containing principles abhorrent to many and likely to be injurious to some is forced through with arrogant disdain of protests even at the highest level. A man is summarily dismissed from Government employment on the grounds, apparently, that once a Communist, always a Communist. Does this apply also, say, to a Vladimir Petrov? A distinguished academic is denied a three weeks’ visit to a Commonwealth Territory - no reasons given, all protests dismissed unanswered. Over all, now, is the grim shadow of “ security “ and the “ lettre de cachet “. How close are we coming to gestapo practice, of the unknown listener and observer at public gatherings, of the private probing of the unsuspecting for dangerous attitudes and opposing views.
Honorable members opposite ask, “ What paper is that? “ I suppose they think it is a Communist paper. It is not a Communist paper. It is not a Labour paper.
– Did you write the passage?
– It is not a Communist paper or a Labour paper, and I did not write the passage.
– Did somebody write it for you?
– No, this paper is the organ of the Catholic Church in the city of Canberra. It is called “ The Sanctuary “ and was published on 1st October, 1960. I would sooner stand on’ the dictum propounded in that paper than on the drivel that flowed from the lips of the Prime Minister at the Olympic Pool.
.My remarks will be brief. Since the dawn of history there have been many philosophies of mankind; but there has only been one philosophy that has given man his complete freedom, and dignity, and that is the capitalist system.
Mr.UREN (Reid) [1.37 a.m.].-Sir, I rise to answer some criticism–
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.44 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Australian Port Authorities Association is comprised of representatives of the public authorities in Australia associated with the administration of port and navigation affairs with the addition of the Commonwealth Director of Navigation and the Officer-in-charge, Hydrographic Branch, Department” of the Navy. It is not under the jurisdiction of my department, nor is it in any way responsible to me. I am therefore only in a position to advise the requests and suggestions for legislation made by the association to my department, in writing, in the last three years. They are -
In respect of (b) of question (1), I am advised by the Department of Territories that no requests and suggestions, in writing, for legislation have been’ made by the association to that department. In respect of (c) of question (1), I am not in a position to advise what references have been made to the State governments concerned.
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The value of production is the source from which such items as wages, interest, depreciation, profits, taxation, advertising and other sundry charges are met. As full details of costs of production are not collected, the amount of profit resulting from factory operations cannot be ascertained from the figures contained therein.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. There are some hundreds of parcels of Commonwealth land in the County of Northumberland, the boundaries of which extend from the Hawkesbury River in the south, north to the Hunter River, and as far. west as the MacDonald River. These would include sites for various purposes (post offices, exchanges, line depots, drill halls, rifle ranges, &c.) and many of them were transferred to the Commonwealth at federation. For instance, in the city of Newcastle alone there are 101 Commonwealth properties, some large and some very small. I am sure the honorable member does not appreciate the magnitude of the task involved in furnishing detailed replies to the first four parts of his question, the work of which would take a considerable time and seriously disrupt the work of the Sydney office. Accordingly I would ask him to let me know of any specific sites in which he is interested, when I shall endeavour to supply the particulars he requires.
Government Business Handled by Australian Airlines.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Details of government business transacted by each airline over recent financial years are not readily available and, in any case, such details are normally regarded as confidential as between the airline and each of the departments concerned. However, I can answer the honorable member’s real question with the advice that the precentage of government business gained by the private airline in 1959-60 was somewhat less than the comparable figure for 1958-59 and remains significantly less than 50 per cent, of the total.
y asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601005_reps_23_hor28/>.